In Matthew 5, our Lord Jesus teaches as part of His sermon on the mount, the Beatitudes which are so central to Christian spirituality. Through history a number of Church Fathers penned their own list of Beatitudes, imitating the style of Christ. One such list is the 55 Beatitudes of St. Ephrem. Though these are attributed to St. Ephrem of Syria, many scholars believe they were actually written later by a Greek Orthodox who wrote under St. Ephrem’s name. I recently came across these and reproduce just a few of Ephrem’s Beatitudes.
1. Blessed the one who has become wholly free in the Lord from all the earthly things of this vain life and loved God alone, the good and compassionate.
2. Blessed the one who has become a good ploughman of the virtues and raised a harvest of fruits of life in the Lord, like a ploughed field bearing wheat.
3. Blessed the one who has become a good husbandman of the virtues and planted a spiritual vine, plucked the grapes and filled his presses with fruits of life in the Lord.
4. Blessed the one who has made his fellow servants glad with spiritual gladness from the fruit of the virtues, which he planted by toiling to give back the fruit of life in the Lord.
15. Blessed the one who is always full of spiritual joy and has not grown slack in bearing the Lord’s good yoke, for he will be crowned with glory.
17. Blessed the one who draws near with fear and trembling and dread to the spotless Mysteries of the Saviour and has realised that he has received in himself eternal life.
21. Blessed the one who sits in his cell with all devotion, as Mary sat at the Lord’s feet, and hastens, like Martha, to receive him, the Lord and Saviour.
46. Blessed the one who, like one unwise, does not judge his neighbour, but as understanding and spiritual has struggled to throw the plank out of his own eye.
47. Blessed the one who heart has blossomed like a palm tree by rightness of faith and has not been thrust out, as by thorns, by the heresy of the faithless and impious.
51. Blessed the one who observes with spiritual understanding the choirs of stars shining with glory and the beauty of the heavens and longs to contemplate the Maker of all things.
55. Blessed are those who watch according to God continually, for they will be overshadowed by God in the day of judgement, becoming sons of the bridal chamber, in joy and gladness they will see the Bridegroom. But I and my like, idle and pleasure-loving, will weep and lament as we watch our brothers in everlasting glory, while we are in torments.