Monday, March 10, 2008

A Spiritual Psalter from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian


Like the apple of Thine eye preserve me, O Lord god; defend me and beneath Thy wings shelter me from temptations.

Be the guardian of the eye, that it might not look about in the manner of a thief; be the guardian of the ear, that it might not perceive falsehood.

Be the guardian of the lips, that slander, judgement, criticism and idle words might not come forth from them.

Be the guardian of the heart, that it might not be inclined to evil and might not work iniquity.

Grant us, O Lord, knowledge, both of what we should do and of how to set about it.

Grant us, O our Lord, that we may be sweeter to Thee than fragrances and perfumes.

Grant us, O our Lord, that we may love Thee and hate the world. Grant us, O Lord, to acquire Only Three rather than all transient possessions. Grant us, O our Lord, to bring Three three choice gifts. Grant us, O our Lord, to burn three aromatic censers before Thee.

Grant us, O our Lord, to light for Thee three brightly burning lamps: the spirit, the soul and the body, these three gifts for the One Trinity.

Let us dedicate the spirit to the Father, the soul to the Son and the body to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which will raise it again from dust.

O Father, consecrate our spirit to Thyself! O so, consecrate our soul to thyself! O Holy Spirit, consecrate to Thyself our body which is afflicted by sores.

Grant us, O our Lord, to rejoice in Thee, and mayest thou rejoice in us in the last day. To Thee is praise, from the spirit, soul and body. And unto us be Thy mercies.


The son of Jesse tunes his pipe and sings: blessed are the blameless who follow in the way of the Lord, who walk in His Law. And our Savior said in the Gospel of life: blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God; blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted; blessed are they who weep, for they shall rejoice.

To those who renounce the world and its vain things, who scorn its lusts and abhor its comforts, is given a promise of recompense in the Gospel of salvation--an everlasting habitation and eternal life.

Out of love for their Lord they have left their families in this world, their parents, their wealth and their possessions; for they heard that blessed are the poor in spirit. And in return for this the heavenly kingdom awaits them.

They have made their bodies into a temple of the Holy Spirit; by their strict way of life they have overcome lusts, they have borne the yoke of strenuous labor; out of love for their Lord they have despised their own life.

They have crucified their souls and nailed their bodies to the cross, and by their ascetic labors have they moved their Creator to mercy.

They have disdained the desires of the flesh and loved restraint. They have driven away the corruptions of the flesh and loved chastity.

They have chosen for themselves affliction and all manner of privation and have despised rest. They have shed pride and clothed themselves in humility.

They have conquered the enemy and triumphed over him. They have put him to flight and acquired glory for themselves. They have conquered him and they are magnified. They have scorned him and they are crowned.

The Father loves them, and with love the Son embraces them, and the Holy Spirit abides in their pure bodies.

Christ calls to them, saying: come, ye who labored in My name, enter the habitation, from whence those who are called do not go out.

On such as these does the Lord bestow crowns, and they taste bliss in His habitations in place of the sorrows which they bore with Him from morning til night.

The heavenly kingdom awaits those who have gained victory in warfare and have thus acquired glory.

It is habitual for the angels to descend and fortify warriors during battle.

The spirits rush to meet the victors. They call them blessed and say: come, ye who are troubled, and rest from your labors: by your patience in suffering have ye conquered the evil one.

Paradise opens its gates to them; they abide in dwellings of light and there they find repose.

In their mouth is a song of glory and praise to Him Who strengthened them in battle.


Thou, O Christ our Savior, hast become for me the path of life which leads to the Father. There is but one path, and it is my joy, and at the end of it is the heavenly kingdom.

Thou, O Master, Jesus, Son of God, hast become for me the path of life and enlightenment.

In the heart of Thy servant Thy grace has become light and joy, which are sweeter than the honey of the honeycomb to the lips of Thy slave.

In the soul of Thy servant Thy grace has become a treasure, which has made his poverty rich and driven away misery and corruption.

For Thy servant Thy grace has become a refuge, strength, a defense, ennoblement, praise, and food for the whole of his life.

How can Thy servant be silent, O Master, after having tasted the great sweetness of Thy love and grace? How could I dare once again to obstruct the waves of grace which pour forth into the heart of me, a sinner, and which are replete with sweetness according to the multitude of Thy gifts?

I shall sing of the glory of the Master of heavenly powers and shall magnify Thy grace, O Christ our Savior, and my tongue shall not cease to chant of Thy love.

Thy love draws me to Thee, O Savior, O praise of my life.

Thy grace makes it sweet for me to follow Thee with my mind.

May my heart be as a fertile field for Thee, and may Thy grace sprinkle the dew of eternal life upon it.

May Thy grace reap a good harvest on the field of my heart: humility, reverence, sanctity, and all that is ever pleasing to Thee.

Return my soul to the sweet garden of paradise, and may it abide in light that, surrounded by the delights of paradise, I too may say with all the saints: glory to the Immortal Father; honor to Him Who presents heavenly gifts to this worthless one, that he may bring a tithe of glory to the King of all.


Mourn over my nakedness, O my beloved brothers! I have angered Christ with my wanton life. For the Good One created me and gave me freedom, but I have abused it and repaid Him with evil, with my lawless deeds.

The Lord of all made me perfect and established me as an instrument of His glory, that I might serve Him and glorify His name; but I, wretch that I am, have made my members into instruments of sin and have used them to work all manner of deceit. Woe is me, for He will judge me justly.

My shameless deeds presage my fate at the judgement, for they will indict my poor soul. Unrelentingly I beg Thee, O my Savior: shelter me under Thy wings and do not expose my defilement at Thy great judgement, that I might glorify Thy kindness.

All manner of evil deeds which I have done before the Lord of all exclude me from communion with the saints. And because I have not served God with my life as they have, I have no share in their good deeds. Alas, I have perished!

Now the grief that I deserve overtakes me. For if I had struggled along with them, then, like they, I would be glorified. But because I was negligent and served the passions, I do not belong to the hosts of victors, but have become an heir of gehenna.

to Thee, O Victor pierced by nails on the cross Who calleth out to sinners saying: come, receive forgiveness freely--to Thee I unrelentingly pray, O my Savior: turn thine eyes away from my lawlessness, and by Thy sufferings heal my sores that I may glorify Thy kindness.

O All-good One, Whose kindness is immeasurably greater than the deceit of the world, strengthen my miserable soul with hope in Thy kindness, for it has been weakened and become exhausted to the extreme by the crushing infirmities of deceit and sin, and it holds on only by relying on Thee, for it hopes to find comfort in Thee!


Mimi said...

I've not read this before, thank you so much.

John said...

Mimi, St. Ephraim is simply incredible. St. Theophan the Recluse arranged these writings into 150 sections, as the Psalms. I am going to try and post 4 a day during Lent--so far, so good, but we'll see.

Mimi said...

I look forward to it! Thank you!

On a total side note - I recently ordered a fabulous Georgian Orthodox CD from St. Herman's Press.