Come, you discerning, let us delight today in the teaching, whose taste is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.
The Church in the world is a great harbour, full of peace; whoever toils, let him come in and rest at her table. Her doors are open, and her eye is good, and her heart is wide. Her table is full, and sweet is her mingled (cup) to them that are worthy. You lovers of the world, come in from wandering in the evil world, and rest in the inn that is full of comfort to him that enters it. You weary labourer, that strives to enrich yourself by vexatious toilings, why do you run after riches that cannot be held fast? O you rich, that go astray with your riches, possess God, and hate the wealth that after a little while shall not be yours. O you unquiet soul, that cleaves after gold, woe to you for that which spends you with your toiling after it! O you that are greedy of mammon, incline your ear hear, and cast from you that grievous load which does not profit you.
Come to prayer, and bring with you your whole self. Let not your mind remain in the market about your business. If you are here, let also your inner man be here within the doors of the crowned (bride). Why is your thought gone forth and distracted after affairs, so that when you art here you art not here, but there? Outside amid the markets your mind is wandering, (taken up) with reckonings and profits; fetch it, that it may come in and ask for its Life. Stand not with one half of you within and one half without, lest when you are divided your prayer lose itself between the two parts. Stand at prayer a united and complete and true man, and all whatever you ask you can obtain from God. Why are you impatient to be off when He has not given to you? Stay long and knock at the Physician, and beseech Him, and bring the tears of repentance and besprinkle His doorstep; entreat much; and if for love He does not give to you, yet to persistence He will not be able to deny all her requests. Be insistent at the Physician’s door, and give not over; for if you be backward He will not bind you up. Why do you stand still? Persistence knows how to obtain mercy of Him; and unless He give to her she will not suffer Him to depart.
O you penitent, be insistent; and whatever you ask, you shall receive from the Giver of all things good. Why art you impatient to be gone about your business? Why are you disquieted to depart and go about your affairs? Why do you run after the world which may not be kept fast? Why have you spent your days in vanity? Why are the hours of the Church esteemed by you as idleness? Why is the service not accounted by you as a banquet? Why are you diligent when you do your own work, but here remiss and cold and slack in asking?
Mercy has brought you into this house that is full of profit; think it not loss if you remain here long. Be patient and listen to the sound of the Psalms which the finger of prophecy played to the words of David. Hearken to the Hymns sung by chaste women with voices of praise, which the wisdom of the Highest has given to the congregations. Hear the Prophets who, as it were through pipes of choice gold, pour forth from their mouths life into the ears of men. Hearken to the Apostles who, like the channels of rivers, arc opened and water the King’s garden with lofty streams. Bend your ear to the pulpit of the Godhead, and receive from it precious pearls. Learn and give assent to the (two) Testaments, rivers both which hold for you life unending. Hear the New, and hearken to the Old; and see that in both one truth is spoken unto you. Lo, you hear from the Old of the four rivers which flowed from the blessed source of Eden; and again in the New (you have) the Apostles like four rivers, who went forth into the four corners (of the world) and watered them.
Life flows from the service of the house of God; you lovers of life, refuse not the profit that comes from there. The soul of man is receptive of impressions and in whatsoever she meditates, she is dyed withal and becomes (the colour) of the same. When she hears the dirges of the wailing women, she overflows with grief and pours out tears over the departed; and when again she hears the songs and jests of the actors she waxes wanton, that with a loud voice she may pour forth laughter. When she hears evil reports, dread comes upon her; but if she hears good tidings, she is glad. And every wind that blows towards her moves her; and in whatsoever direction it be, each time she turns. When, then, she hears the sound of the service of God’s house, spiritually she is moved with love towards God; and as it were she despises the evil world and its affairs, and comes in and mingles with these godly meditations; and she cleaves to and loves that spiritual conversation. She scorns the world and its affairs and its doings; and she is steeped in these voices of holiness, and all carnal thoughts depart from her. And the soul scorns the love of the world and its pleasures, and thoughts of wantonness and remissness. And when she hears these voices that are sung to her, she is chaste and lowly and full of hope and moderation. Therefore it is right that he who enters in to give himself to prayer should be long in God’s house.
[On the Reception of the Holy Mysteries, Mar Jacob of Serugh]