Today is the feast of St. Ephrem the Syrian, Deacon and Doctor of the Church. From the First Discourse to Hypatius:
For the Deity gave us Speech that is free like Itself, in order that free Speech might serve our independent Freewill. And by Speech, too, we are the likeness of the Giver of it, inasmuch as by means of it we have impulse and thought for good things; and not only for good things, but we learn also of God, the fountain of good things, by means of Speech (which is) a gift from Him. For by means of this (faculty) which is like God we are clothed with the likeness of God. For divine teaching is the seal of minds, by means of which men who learn are sealed that they may be an image for Him Who knows all. For if by Freewill Adam was the image of God, it is a most praiseworthy thing when, by true knowledge, and by true conduct, a man becomes the image of God. For that independence exists in these also. For animals cannot form in themselves pure thoughts about God, because they have not Speech, that which forms in us the image of the Truth. We have received the gift of Speech that we may not be as speechless animals in our conduct, but that we may in our actions resemble God, the giver of Speech. How great is Speech, a gift which came to make those who receive it like its Giver! And because animals have not Speech they cannot be the likeness of our minds. But because the mind has Speech, it is a great disgrace to it when it is not clothed with the likeness of God; it is a still more grievous shame when animals resemble men, and men do not resemble God. But threefold is the torture doubled when this intermediate (party between God and animals) forsakes the Good above him and degrades himself from his natural rank to put on the likeness of animals in his conduct.
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