Go forth to meet Him

[taken from The Plough]


On the Tuesday of Holy Week, the Eastern Orthodox remembers the Parable of the Ten Virgins. It’s theme of expectant preparedness hints at Jesus’ request to his disciples to stay awake with him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Hymn to the Light

The Light of the just and joy of the upright is Christ Jesus our Lord.
Begotten of the Father, He manifested himself to us.
He came to rescue us from darkness and to fill us with the radiance of His light.
Day is dawning upon us; the power of darkness is fading away.

From the true Light there arises for us the light which illumines our darkened eyes.
His glory shines upon the world and enlightens the very depths of the abyss.
Death is annihilated, night has vanished, and the gates of Sheol are broken.
Creatures lying in darkness from ancient times are clothed in light.
The dead arise from the dust and sing because they have a Savior.
He brings salvation and grants us life. He ascends to his Father on high.
He will return in glorious splendor and shed His light on those gazing upon Him.

Our King comes in majestic glory.

Let us light our lamps and go forth to meet Him.
Let us find our joy in Him, for He has found joy in us.
He will indeed rejoice us with His marvelous light.

Let us glorify the majesty of the Son and give thanks to the almighty Father
Who, in an outpouring of love, sent Him to us, to fill us with hope and salvation.
When He manifests Himself, the saints awaiting Him in weariness and sorrow,
will go forth to meet Him with lighted lamps.

The angels and guardians of heaven will rejoice
in the glory of the just and upright people of earth;
Together crowned with victory,
they will sing hymns and psalms.

Stand up then and be ready!
Give thanks to our King and Savior,
Who will come in great glory to gladden us
with His marvelous light in His kingdom.

Several of Ephrem’s hymns bear the title “Hymn to the Light.” The lyrics of this beautiful rendition, sung in Arabic, are taken from another of Ephrem’s poems (its composer remains unknown). The refrain, “The light has dawned, rejoice O earth and heaven,” reminds us of the victorious light that can never be extinguished.

This beautiful hymn, by fourth century church father Saint Ephrem, uses the words of the wise virgins: “Let us light our lamps and go forth to meet Him.”

Do not lose heart, O soul

This is the week of penance services.  Along with that can come the temptation–yes, it is a temptation–to overdwell on our sins, on how we have offended God to the point that we never really return to the arms of our loving Father.  We stay in the pig sty rather than running with confidence to the God who comes to meet us.  May this selection from St. Ephrem the Syrian enable you to “leave the city that starves you.”

Do not lose heart, O soul, do not grieve; pronounce not over yourself a final judgment for the multitude of your sins; do not commit yourself to fire; do not say: The Lord has cast me from his face.

Such words are not pleasing to God.  Can it be that he who has fallen cannot get up?  Can it be that he who has turned away cannot turn back again?  Do you not hear how kind the Father is to a prodigal?

Do not be ashamed to turn back and say boldly: I will arise and go to my Father.  Arise and go!

He will accept you and will not reproach you, but rather rejoice at your return.  He awaits you; just do not be ashamed and do not hide from the face of God as did Adam.

It was for your sake that Christ was crucified; so will he cast you aside?  He knows who oppresses us.  He knows that we have no other help but him alone.

Christ knows that man is miserable.  Do not give yourself up to despair and apathy, assuming that you have been prepared for the fire.  Christ derives no consolation from thrusting us into the fire; he gains nothing if he sends us into the abyss to be tormented.

Imitate the prodigal son: leave the city that starves you.  Come and beseech him and you shall behold the glory of God.  Your face shall be enlightened and you will rejoice in the sweetness of paradise.  Glory to the Lord and Lover of mankind who saves us.