Friday, March 11, 2011

Cross the Bridge to Heaven

Every work day at lunch, Tom and I have been taking turns reading aloud to each other from A Year with the Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina. Considering that we don't do it on weekends, it will take us more than a year to get through it but that doesn't matter. It does explain why we only read Day 39 on Ash Wednesday, though.

This struck both of us as particularly appropriate for Lent so I thought I'd share it.
Cross the bridge to heaven
In a striking metaphor, St. Ephrem the Syrian imagines
Jesus the carpenter making his own Cross into a bridge
to heaven. Because the tree in Eden brought death, it is
fitting that a tree also brings us to life.

This is the Son of the carpenter, who skillfully made his Cross a bridge over Sheol--Sheol that swallows up all--and brought over mankind into the dwelling of life.

And because it was through the tree that mankind had fallen into Sheol, so upon the tree they passed over into the dwelling of life. Through the tree in which bitterness was tasted, through it also sweetness was tasted; so that we might learn of him that among the creature nothing resists Him.

Glory be to your, who laid your Cross as a bridge over death, that souls might pass over on it from the dwelling of hte dead to the dwelling of life!
St. Ephrem the Syrian, Homily on Our Lord 4

In God's Presence, Consider...
Does it help my resolution to imagine the Cross as a narrow bridge over a gaping chasm?


  1. Tante Léonie3/11/11, 1:01 PM

    That is such a rich subject for meditation!

    Are you also familiar with St.Ephrem's Lenten prayer?

  2. Tante Léonie3/11/11, 1:50 PM

    The Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

    O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, or vain talking. But rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience, and love bestow on me Thy servant.

    Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

    There are some more "modern" versions of this prayer, but this is one I like best.

    It's my understanding that Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox say this prayer daily during Lent.

  3. That's going straight to the pool room. I mean ... straight into the quote journal. So good ... thank you!

  4. Tante Léonie3/11/11, 2:22 PM

    I'm glad you like it! It's been one of my favorites for a long time, because I'm so sorely in need of every single thing that is petitioned for.

    It's also in my prayer journal, and I say it after Lauds most mornings. It speaks to my abject laziness and general lack of discipline that I haven't memorized it. A good Lenten project, come to think of it!

  5. Laziness and lack of discipline ... the very things I was drawn to battling with this prayer. :-)