"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

03 July 2011

A Poem for the Diaconate

When I die, I want one of the deacons of my diocese to read this at my funeral. I love this poem by fourth century saint Ephrem of Syria. How clearly he shows his heart, his love of the order, the ideal of the deacon's ministry. Surely he wrote this poem, in part for himself. Ephrem was bold with his poetry, even daring to tell his new bishop how to be a bishop, I read his poem "On the Death of a Deacon" as a note to himself.

But this beautiful poem is out of print, not published in any currently printed volume of Ephrem's poetry that I know of. Its not even on the internet (until now). But I wanted to share this with my deacon friends, so here it is.

On the Death of a Deacon by Ephrem the Syrian
Behold! Our member is departed
From this troubled world,
To that tranquil light;
On his departure let us pray-
That his Guide may have mercy on him!

Well disciplined in public duties
He was chaste in private life,
In gentleness and peace
He abounded toward his brethren-
Make him happy in Thy tabernacle!

His eyes were watchful
In standing before Thee:
And they wept in prayer,
And made entreaty for his sins-
May they see thy loving-kindness!

Thou dist count him worthy
To ministry in thy sanctuary,
And to distribute thy body
And thy blood to thy flock-
Nourish him with thy lambs!

He was cheerful and full
Of affection to his brethren:
And his hospitality
Was fervent in its tenderness-
Number him with thy beloved ones!

He loved to proclaim
The words of thy doctrine,
And delighted to listen to
The utterances of the Spirit-
Let him hear the sound of the trumpet!

He wondered at and admired
The riches of thy oracles;
And his heart exulted
In the words of the Holy Ghost-
Unite him with thy glorified ones!

He despised worldly pleasures
And slighted ease:
Let him rest at thy table-
Let him find enjoyment in thy light-
With the upright who have loved thee!

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