Give Thanks to God and to The Spiritual Sun

“In the first year, mistress of treasure and filled with blessings, let the Cherubin give thanks with us, they who bear the Son in glory, …
In the second year let the Seraphim multiply thanksgiving with us; …
In the third year, let Michael and his hosts give thanks with us; …
In the forth year let all the heavens give thanks with us! …
In the fifth year let the Sun that burns the earth with its heat—give thanks to our Sun that he straitened His largeness—and tempered his force that the eye might endure to see Him; the inward eye of a pure soul; blessed be His radiance!” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian

Give Thanks to God

W have many things to be thankful for, even those of us who suffer greatly in the world of matter. On the level of matter: we may be poor, but we can be thankful for a healthy body; we may be uneducated, but we can be thankful for common sense and intuition that helps guide us. On a higher level, even if we are poor, uneducated, and not particularly strong or healthy, we can be thankful for our immortal spirit and soul. Of course, it is hard to be thankful for them if we let them lie dormant and never make the effort to—with God’s help—awaken them and make use of them.

Give Thanks to the Sun

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see that St. Ephraim had included a thanks to the sun in this hymn of thirty thanks. More importantly, to those who understand the allegory, it is clear that he is not talking about the physical sun, the big ball of fire in the sly, but the Spiritual Sun that lies hidden behind it to all but the few who seek it and have been taught how to see it and feel it’s presence.

When Ephraim says this Sun “straightened His Largeness,” I think he is talking about the effects this Sun has on us, and not what it does for itself. This Sun does “straighten” us in the sense of guiding us, putting us on the right path, giving us the energy needed to awaken and nurture our spiritual faculties so they grow big and strong just as physical food feeds and nurtures our physical bodies. We should give thanks to the Sun for doing that.

St. Ephraim goes on to give thanks to to this sun that has “tempered His force that the eye might endure Him”. Here, it seems Ephraim believes this is true for all. In fact, the sun can appear quite harsh and uncomfortable to those who look upon it without knowing what they are doing, or without the proper motivation.

Those who engage in what is being termed “Sun-Gazing” often do so without the necessary information or proper reason. They are often looking at the physical sun to get physical benefits. In doing so, some may seriously damage their eyes. Others will succeed, and benefit the health of the physical body, but do noting to help the spirit and soul; they may even harm their chances of saving their souls by this sun-gazing. The true sun gazing that they are trying to imitate is the gazing at the Spiritual Sun that St. Ephraim is talking about, and only gazing at that Sun brings eternal live. But even gazing at the correct Sun will have little benefit if you do it for selfish reasons instead of with the goal of aiding all mankind, saving the world and helping to fulfill God’s Divine Plan, not your own. It is understandable that a beginner will be more interested in the benefits to himself alone, but one must move beyond that quickly and seek to benefit all or remain on the lower steps of the great Stairway to heaven.

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