5 - 7 minutes readSt. Ephrem’s Consolation of Mothers of Babies Who Died

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In Dom Prosper Gueranger’s write up for the 7th day in the Octave of All Saints, which is November 7, he concludes with this piece of St. Ephrem & a prayer afterwards

For the consolation of mothers, as well as in homage to the Paradise of which their children are the graceful flowers, we will today commemorate, with St. Ephrem, the little ones snatched in the innocence from this land of miseries.

Canon xxxvi
Amabilis puer quem gratia in utero matris formavit, ut vidit lucem, ut insiliit acerba mors, et æstu infestiore quam solis esse solet, vernantis floris folia decussit, caulem arefecit, ramos siccavit. The lovely child, whom grace formed in his mother’s womb, no sooner saw the light, than cruel death rushed upon him, and with a heat more burning than the sun’s, struck off the leaves of this spring flower, withered its stem, and scorched its branches.
Obitum flere tuum vereor, qui didici te a filio Regis ad supernæ lucis adyta fuisse deductum. Natura quidem tuo, fili, fato illacrymari cogit: ego vero dum recogito te ad regionem beatæ lucis translatum, cavendum mihi video ne Regis aula profano polluatur luctu, tum ipse arguar audax et impudens, qui lætitiæ regiam atratus et lacrymans intraverim. Quin ergo meliore consilio puram hostiam offeram, et ad hilaritatem animam componam. I dare not lament thy death, for I have heard that the King’s Son has led thee into the inner courts of heavenly light. Nature indeed forces me, my child, to weep over thy fate: but when I think of thee carried into the region of blessed light, I see I must beware of dishonoring the King’s court by my profane grief; moreover I should be accused of being bold and impertinent, if I entered the palace of joy weeping and clad in mourning weeds. Therefore I will take a better way, and, offering a spotless victim, I will turn my soul to joyfulness.
Tui quidem cantus, care puer, meas ante mulcebant aures, meque vehementer delectarunt; suave melos quod olim fundebas memoria adhuc retineo, et verba recordor. Quamquam dum cor illa repetit, mens ad Superum evolat choros, et audit admirabunda Cœlites tecum canentes triumphale carmen Hosanna. Thy songs, indeed, beloved boy, were once so welcome to my ears, and delighted me exceedingly; the sweet sounds thou didst utter and thy pretty prattle I well remember. But while the heart recalls them, the mind soars to the choirs of Angels, and listens entranced to the heavenly citizens singing with thee the triumphant song Hosanna.
Pars tua, Domine, sunt parvuli pueri; hisce sedes in cœlo super astra dabis. Illos pro nobis, oro, statue deprecatores; puras quippe scimus esse puerorum preces. The little children, O Lord, are thine own portion; and to them thou wilt give thrones, beyond the stars. Set them before thee, I pray, as our intercessors, for we know that children’s prayers are pure.
Quin ergo te summis efferam laudibus, qui jubes tuis tales convivas assidere mensis. Nostræ Reparator salutis in oculis conspectuque populi amplexatus est pueros, eisque benedixit, quo hujus ætatis puritatem et innocentiam sibi placere demonstraret. Vere omni laude dignus est, cui innocentes pueros apud se habere placuit. Why, then, should I not extol thee with highest praises, who commandest such guests to be seated at thy table? In the presence of the people, my Redeemer and Savior embraced children and blessed them, in order to show how pleasing to him are the purity and innocence of that age. Truly is he worthy of all praise, who loves to be surrounded by innocent little ones.
Vidit ille, in quo tamquam in sua sede considet justitia, hominum iniquitates ultra omnem increvisse modum, et pessumdata innocentia ubique regnare contumaciam in perversa nitentium. Delectum puerorum agmen, misso apparitore ad se accersivit, et in deliciarum æternarum sede locavit. He, in whom justice is seated as on her own throne, sees that the sins of men have increased beyond all measure; that all innocence is crushed out, and that everywhere reigns the insolence of them that contend for evil. He has therefore sent his officer to gather the band of children and lead them to himself, where he has placed them in the abode of eternal delights.
Parvuli, quasi lilia de deserta et inculta regione revulsa, in amœnissimi horti areis iterato panguntur; et quasi margaritæ insreutur diademati; inde ad cœleste regnum evecti, sine fine laudant suæ felicitatis Auctorem. The little ones, like lilies uprooted from this desert and uncultivated land, are planted again in the flower-beds of the most lovely garden; like pearls they are set in our Lord’s diadem; caught up from earth to the heavenly kingdom, they unceasingly praise the Author of their happiness.
Porro cuinam jucundum non sit, parvulos videre cœlo donatos? aut quisnam plangat eorum obitum, quod tensos ubique vitiorum laqueos evaserint? Utinam tua, Domine, favente gratia, talem mihi contingat habere finem, et beato eorum potiri convictu. Who, then, would not rejoice at seeing heaven thus given to babes? Or who would bewail their death, since they have escaped from the snares of vices everywhere spread out? May it please thee, O Lord, that by thy grace a similar end may be my lot, and I may be admitted to a share in their blessed life.
Laus sit et gloria Optimo, Maximo, qui pueros terris abstulit et cœlo dedit, qui parvulos hujus vitæ ærumnis eripuit et in cœlestem et beatam domum transtulit, atque in illam jucundissimam securitatem asseruit. Praise and glory be to God the supremely Good and Great, who has taken the children from earth and given them to heaven; who has snatched the little ones from the miseries of this life and taken them to a heavenly and blessed home, and has established them in that most happy security.
Canon xliv
Perfecta tibi, Domine Deus noster, jam est laus ex ore infantium et lactentium; pueri quippe sunt, qui modo quasi agni simplices in horto deliciarum pubescunt, Gabrielem Archangelum electi hujus gregis ductorem sequentes. Incolunt terram nefariis scelerum vestigiis usquequaque expiatam; ejus autem quæ maledicto subjecta fuit, ne meminere quidem. O Lord our God, thy praise is now perfected out of the mouths of babes and sucklings; these children, who now like simple lambs, grow up in the garden of delights, following the Archangel Gabriel the guide of this chosen flock. They dwell in a land entirely free from all traces of wicked crime; but of that other, which was subjected to the curse, they have not so much as the remembrance.
Veniet tandem sanctissimus ille dies, quando eorum cadavera vocem Filii Dei audient, et e tumulis cum tripudio exsilient; contra inimica virtutis voluptas frontem submittet rubore suffusa, quod illorum mentes perturbare nequiverit. Paucos hic quidem vixere dies, paradisus excepit in ævum sempiternum victuros: unde ipsorum parentes abesse se dolent, eoque ocyus pervenire desiderant. At length that most holy day will come, when their bodies shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and exultingly spring from their tombs; while self-indulgence, the enemy of virtue, will hang down her head, being covered with confusion because she could not disturb their souls. They lived but few days on earth, paradise received them to live for eternal ages: wherefore their parents mourn that they themselves are still far off from that land, and long to reach it with all speed.

Let us conclude with a prayer taken from the rites of the Latin church for the burial of infants.

Omnipotens et mitissime Deus, qui omnibus parvulis renatis fonte baptismatis dum migrant a sæculo, sine ullis eorum meritis, vitam illico largiris æternam, sicut animæhujus parvuli hodie credimus te fecisse: fac nos, quæsumus Domine, per intercessionem beatæ Mariæ semper virginis, et omnium sanctorum tuorum, hic purificatis tibi mentibus famulari, et in paradiso cum beatis parvulus perenniter sociari. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. O Almighty and most merciful God, who vouchsafest to all children baptized, departing this world, eternal life, without any merit of theirs, as we believe thou hast done this day to the soul of this child: grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, by the intercession of the blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, and of all thy saints, to serve thee here with pure minds, and to be united hereafter with thy blessed children in heaven. Through.
℟. Amen. ℟. Amen.

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