Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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


Fire threatens my members, O Lord; but concealed within me, O my Deliverer, is Thy reconciling blood. Gehenna awaits to torture me, but Thy life-creating body is intimately united with mine. I am clothed in the garment of the Holy Spirit, and I shall not even be singed. When the river of fire begins to rumble, threatening vengeance, then will the fire be extinguished in me, smitten by the scent of Thy flesh and blood.

Thou, our Lord, art the hope of the penitent. Thou art the friend of all sinners. I beseech Thee, O Lord, by thy holy name: do not punish me with Thy righteous judgement. By the love of Thy Parent, by Thy Mother's bosom, where Thou wast carried, by the spear that pierced Thy ribs on Golgotha, do I beseech Thee: sprinkle me with the dew of Thy loving-kindness, that I might not then languish with thirst.

May thy Cross, O Lord, in which I seek refuge, be for me a bridge across the great river of fire. May I pass along it to the habitation of life.

Jonah called out to Thee in the depths of the sea and so did Daniel in the lion's den. The three Hebrew children called thee in the furnace fired up by the Chaldaeans. Thou didst lead Jonah out of the abyss, Thou didst save Daniel, and Thy loving-kindness bedewed and extinguished the flame in the furnace. Have mercy on me also, O Lord, and save me because I have confessed Thee, and, according to Thy grace, forgive me my debts.

Have mercy on me, O our kindhearted Lord, and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out my sins. Wash me from the iniquities of my hands, that I might be purified and cleansed of my stains. I know that I have sinned; my sins are ever before me and I see them. Before Thee alone am I guilty, and against Thee alone have I sinned. Be merciful to me, Lord Jesus, our God.

Three times did Simon deny Thee, O Lord; but he brought Thee tears and Thou didst receive him. Behold: I, too, bring Thee a pure confession. Many are my sins; they are countless. According to Thy compassions, O our Lord, forgive mine iniquities; by Thy grace blot out the record of my stains and remember not my sins.

Praise be to the Lord God Who does not desire the death of a sinner! Praise to Thee, Who hast mercy on sinners! Praise to Thee Who receivest the penitent! Praise to Thee, O Jesus, Who openest Thy door to all who knock at it and beg the forgiveness of their sins! Praise to Thee, O Lord, and may Thy compassion be upon us! Be merciful to us, O Jesus, our Lord.


According to Thy grace that calls us, O God, to approach Thee without perishing, O Good One, Who hast made a covenant with us, proclaiming: Call upon Me and I will hearken unto you--thus do I knock at the door of Thy goodness, O my Deliverer! Hearken unto me according to Thy compassion and regard not mine iniquities. Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me according to Thy goodness, for I am guilty of much before Thy truth.

Thou didst create me, O Lord, name me in Thine image, and, according to Thy goodness, make me in Thy likeness. Thou didst teach me to recognize the path to the habitation of life and show me the path to gehenna. On account of his envy, the Evil One placed secret ambushes in my way, lured me from Thy path, and sullied me with abominations. Woe is me, O our Lord, for I am guilty of many things! Have mercy on me, O Lord, and save me according to Thy grace.

The thief, the wicked stealer of souls, craftily took my freedom from me, seduced me, and reviled me. By the gave of my eyes did he delude and imprison me and put sinful thoughts in me. I glanced and was filled with desire; I looked on curiously and I sinned. Because I stretched forth my hands to perform iniquity, so have i utterly perished. Alas, now the fire threatens me! Save me, O kindhearted One, that I might not die.

I am the most unfortunate of all who have been born of woman, for by my very own deeds have I made myself an unfortunate and cast myself into ruin. Daily have I sinned and comforted myself by ignoring the fact that death lies in wait for me. Alas, the angel of death sent to take me to the judgement is already at hand. Alas, all that is concealed will be exposed, and I will be covered with shame1

Behold: my deeds are justly recorded; not a single word has been forgotten. In the Judge's great book are all my deeds and transgressions entered. Woe is me, when justice reads there all the sins which I have committed from my youth through my old age! What shall I do in that hour and where shall I run from Thee, O Lord?

Woe is me, O Lord! I am guilty of so many things! Woe is me; I have sinned and not offered Thee repentance! O God who hadst mercy on the harlot, have mercy also on me who am miserable, O our Lord, that I might not perish! In the place of the myrrh that the harlot brought Thee, I have Thy flesh and blood which are united with my members. No, O our Lord, regard not my deeds; may thy grace blot out mine offenses.

Enter not into judgement with me, O our Lord, for no living creature can be justified before Thee. Thou alone, O Lord art pure. Spare me and cleanse me of sins by Thy grace. Vouchsafe me, O kindhearted One, Thy great compassions, that they might make me rich and I might receive forgiveness, and Thine angels might rejoice according to Thy word, O Thou who art kindhearted towards sinners.


I beseech Thee, O true Light, begotten of the blessed Father, image of His hypostasis, Who sittest at the right of His magnificence, O Christ, the praise and joy of those who love Thee: Thou art my life, my light and my gladness!

Despise not me, who am worthless; cast me who am vile not away, for the enemy will be exceedingly pleased if I am plunged into despair because of the fog of error which surrounds me. He will rejoice only when he sees that despair is beginning to make me his captive.

Rather do Thou, according to Thine ardent love, shame his hopes, snatch me from his teeth, deliver me from his crafty schemes, from all that he contrives against me; for greatly does he arm himself to do battle with me.

Grant me, O Lord, enlightenment to recognize the wiles of my adversary, the hater of all good; for he places in my path countless multitudes of seductions and pitfalls--both profits and losses, the comforts of this age and carnal pleasure, the length of the present life, timidity in ascetic labors, slothfulness in prayer, sleep and rest for the body during the singing of psalms.

Inasmuch as the enemy strives for my ruin, so do I, who am miserable, surrender myself to recklessness and apathy. The more snares he sets out for me, the more careless I become.

Be wary, O my soul, watch over thy conscience; pay no attention to the falls of others, but be instead more attentive to thine own falls. Hasten, forestall thy ruin, and be reconciled to Christ, crucified in the flesh for thy sake. If we have condemned ourselves, we will not be condemned then, at the great and eternal judgement.

Be kind to me, O Lord, according to Thy compassion; and save me according to Thy singular goodness, through the prayers of our All-Pure Lady the Mother of God and of all the saints.


A soul choked by sorrow approaches Thee, O holy Master, and stands before Thee with tears, leveling accusations against the annihilator, the enemy, and with all humility she falls down before Thee, begging for defense from the adversary that oppresses her.

Inasmuch as this soul approaches thee without shame, be quick to hear her, and visit thine attention upon her, who runs to Thee with live.

If thou wilt despise her, choked as she is by sorrow, she will perish. If Thou hesitatest to hear her, who is deadened, her strength will fail.

But if, according to Thy compassions, Thou wilt visit her, she will be made whole. If Thou wilt regard her, she will be saved. If thou wilt hearken unto her, she will be saved. If Thou wilt hearken unto her, she will wax in strength.

Be jealous over her, for she is betrothed unto Thee, and Paul who betrothed her unto Thee said that Thou art an immortal and jealous God.

Despise not her, that the enemy might not think that Thou hast divorced Thyself from her and sent her away from Thyself. Punish me, O Lord, according to Thy compassion; but deliver me not into the hands of the annihilator.

Lo, I have gathered up all of my thoughts and cannot recall anything good before Thee except the fact that I know no other God than Thee.

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