Ephrem was born in Syria of poor parents during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great. He spent his young life rather tempestuously; but all at once a change took place in his soul and he began to burn with love for the Lord Jesus. Ephrem was a disciple of St. James Nisibis (January 13). From the enormous Grace of God, wisdom flowed from his tongue as a brook of honey and ceaseless tears flowed from his eyes. Industrious as a bee, Ephrem continually either wrote books or orally taught the monks in the monastery and the people in the town of Edessa or he dedicated himself to prayer and contemplation. Numerous are his books and beautiful are his prayers. The most famous is his prayer recited during the Honorable Fast Season which reads:
Lord and Master of my life, give
me not a spirit of sloth, vain
curiosity, lust for power and idle talk.
But give to me, your servant, a spirit
of soberness, humility, patience and love.
O Lord and King, grant me to see
my own faults and not to condemn
my brother: for blessed are you
to the ages of ages. Amen.
When they wanted to appoint him a bishop by force, he pretended to be insane and began to race through the city of Edessa dragging his garment behind him. Seeing this, the people left him in peace. Ephrem was a contemporary and friend of St. Basil the Great. Saint Ephrem is considered mainly to be the Apostle of Repentance. Even today his works soften many hearts hardened by sin and return them to Christ. He died in extreme old age in the year 378 A.D.