Wednesday, March 12, 2008

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


Like the publican I sigh, like the harlot I shed tears, like the thief I call out, like the prodigal son I entreat Thee. O Christ my Savior and Lover of mankind, strengthen my soul which has grown faint, which has been paralyzed with the intoxication of delights; heal its scabs and wash it, blackened with sin, with Thine honorable blood!

According to the multitude of Thy loving kindness, convert me, o only Long-suffering One, and deliver me from all sensual indulgence. Extinguish the furnace of my passions, so that they will not burn me up in the end.

Woe is me! Thou, O Lord, hast given me the light of knowledge, and I have clouded it. Woe is me! Constantly hast Thou visited Thy grace upon me and yet dost Thou visit it upon me, but hourly have I rejected this gift for my healing and yet do I reject it.

What a great multitude of gifts hast Thou bestowed upon me and yet dost Thou bestow them upon me, a sinner, O Master; but I who am wretched have always been and continue to be consciously ungrateful before Thee!

Thy grace comforts me, enlightens me and strengthens me, but I in my negligence turn my attention to vain things and I always sink once again into the bile and bitterness of my passions.

Thou, O All-good One, remindest me of death and of eternal torments and drawest me toward life in order to save me, but I ever shun these saving thoughts. I drive them out and occupy myself with that which is of no benefit to me. Thus have I no justification before Thee.

I knock at the door of Thy loving-kindness, O Lord, that it may be opened to me. I do not cease to pray that I may receive what I request, and unwavering I seek pardon.

Be ever patient with me, depraved as I am; deliver me from the sins which possess me that, having become whole, I may arise from the deathbed of corrupting sin.

Free me from my wanton habits before the end overtakes me, for who will confess Thee in hell?

Make white my garment before the terrible command catches me unprepared and ashamed.

Deliver my contrite soul from the mouths of the lions and save it according to Thy grace and mercy, by the prayers of our All-pure Lady the Theotokos and of all the saints.


Before thy glory, O Christ my Savior, I will announce all my misconduct and confess the infinitude of Thy mercies, which Thou pourest out upon me according to Thy kindness.

From my mother's womb I began to grieve Thee, and utterly have I disregarded Thy grace, for I have neglected my soul. Thou, O my Master, according to the multitude of thy mercies, hast regarded all my wickedness with patience and kindness. Thy grace has lifted up my head, but daily it is brought low by my sins.

Bad habits entangle me like snares, and I rejoice at being thus bound. I sink to the very depths of evil, and this delights me. Daily the enemy gives me new shackles, for he sees how this variety of bonds pleases me.

The fact that I am bound by my own desires should provoke weeping and lamentation, shame and disgrace. And yet more terrible is the fact that I bind myself with the shackles that the enemy places upon me, and I slay myself with the passions that give him pleasure.

Although I know how dreadful these shackles are, i hide them behind a noble appearance from all who might see. I appear to be robed in the beautiful clothes of reverence, but my souls is entangled with shameful thoughts. Before all who might see, I am reverent, but inside I am filled with all manner of indecency.

My conscience accuses me of all this, and I act as if I wish to be freed of my shackles. Every day I worry and sigh over this, yet I ever remain bound by the same snares. How pitiful I am; and how pitiful is my daily repentance, of it has no firm foundation. Every day I lay a foundation for the building, and again with my own hands I demolish it.

My repentance has not even made a good beginning as yet; yet there is no end to my wicked negligence. I have become a slave to passions and to the evil will of the enemy who destroys me.

Who will give the water to my head, and the founts to my eyes for tears, so that I may ever weep before Thee, O merciful God, that thou mightest send Thy grace and draw me, a sinner, out of the sea, furious with the waves of sin, that hourly convulses my soul? For my desires are worse than wounds that cannot be bandaged.

I wait hoping for repentance and deceive myself with this vain promise until my death. Ever do I say, "I will repent," but never do I repent. My words give the appearance of heartfelt repentance, but in deed I am always far from repentance.

What will happen to me in the day of the trial, when God unveils all things at His court! Certainly I shall be sentenced to torment, if here I have not moved Thee to mercy, O my Judge, by my tears.

I hope on Thy mercies, O Lord; I fall at Thy feet and beseech Thee: Grant me the spirit of repentance and lead my soul out of the dungeon of iniquity! May a ray of light shine in my mind before I go to the terrible judgement which awaits me, where there is no opportunity to repent of one's wicked deeds.


No one can heal my disease except He Who knows the depths of the heart.

How many times have I set boundaries for myself and built walls between myself and sin! But my thoughts transgressed the boundaries and my will tore down the walls, for the boundaries were not secured by fear of God, and the walls were not founded on sincere repentance.

And again I knock at the door, that it may open for me. I do not cease to ask that I may receive what I request; and I know no shame in seeking Thy mercy, O Lord.

O Lord, my Savior! Why hast thou forsaken me? Have mercy on me, O only Lover of mankind. Save me, a sinner, Thou only Sinless One.

Wrench me from the mire of my iniquities, that I may not be forever sullied by them. Deliver me from the jaws of the enemy, who roars as a lion and desires to swallow me up.

Rouse thy strength and come, that thou mightest save me. Beam Thy lightning and disperse his power, that he may be struck with fear and flee from Thy face, for he has not the strength to stand before Thee and before the face of those who love Thee. As soon as he perceives a sign of Thy grace, he is taken with fear of Thee and withdraws from such with shame.

And now, O Master, save me, for I flee to Thee!


Will it take thee long to repent, O my poor soul? The judgement is at hand, the fire is made ready for thy members.

All the days of my life have I wallowed in the sea of evil, and I did not lament my sins. And all at once death will place its shackles upon me.

Satan has seduced me and, having bound me with my own desires, he has taken me into captivity and ruthlessly cast me to the ground. Alas, what shall I do now?

Do Thou, O righteous Judge, disgrace the evil one who wars against me and who secretly sets out his cunning snares for me when I wish to repent.

Be my helper, O most merciful Lord, and I will rise up and mock him, I will tear apart all his snares. Woe is me in that day when Thou, O Lord, wilt judge sinners! O, may I not then be ashamed before the hosts of angels!

Be anxious and tremble, O my soul. Pray to thy Lord and say to Him: have mercy on me, O my Savior, and rescue me, for I have wallowed in vice. I am like the harlot and am ashamed to pray to Thee. Save me by Thy grace, O Lord, from gehenna.

The day of the Lord will suddenly shine forth for all creation, and the righteous will come out to meet the Lord with burning lamps; but I am in darkness; there is no oil in my lamp, that I might meet the Bridegroom when He comes.

My spirit trembles when it hears that the day of judgement is at hand; my thoughts become agitated when I consider the fire that awaits the lawless. According to Thy kindness which is merciful to sinners, have mercy on me who have perished--and I will sing Thy praises when Thy kingdom comes.

May Thy cross accompany me during that dreaded crossing, may it drive the powers of darkness away from me; may it be for me the key that opens the gates of paradise, that I may enter into bliss, rejoice and glorify Thy compassion, O most merciful One!

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