Saturday, March 22, 2008

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


Woe is me! What comforts and delights are prepared for us; but there is no one who has labored for salvation, no one who desires such things. Instead we prefer that which is present, temporary and impermanent. We never even bring these eternal delights to mind. What blindness! What diabolical deceit!

Woe is me! What torments are prepared for the punishment of sinners like me who live carelessly. There is no one among us who fears and trembles. With empty words we honor that which we are taught. We take pleasure in the passions of the flesh, for we are bound by them as with iron chains, and there is no one who fights against them; but rather, we who are bound rejoice.

O the all-ruinous wiles of the unclean serpent! How he has darkened the minds of all men, so that our thoughts are perverted and we love ruin more than the good things to come.

Come, let us bend our hearts to contrition, and we will weep before the Lord day and night. Come, let us remember that hour and how inevitable it is, and contritely will we shed tears. Come, let us recall those inexpressible, indescribable delights, and make our hearts contrite. Come, let us recall the terrible and awesome throne and the shame which awaits us when we stand before it--and we will lament for ourselves.

Come, let us remember how the righteous will shine like the sun and the sinners will be like the soot on burnt pots; and, having made our hearts contrite, let us be zealous in good works.

Come, let us confirm ourselves in the fear of God, that we might be made worthy of eternal bliss.

Come, let us fall down before God in contrition and simplicity of heart, for He is good and kindhearted and saves those who repent.

Let us beg Him to bring us into His kingdom of ineffable bliss that has no end.


O Virgin Lady and Mother of God, most blessed and graced by God, incline thine ear and hear my words, pronounced by my defiled and impure lips. Do not despise me, who am miserable; do not let me, thine unworthy servant, utterly perish; but use thy motherly prayers to heal my wretched soul, mercilessly shattered by my evil passions. The wicked enemy has shattered it with the sins of sensuality and trampled it into dust. Therefore, filled with all manner of shame, I dare not; I have not the courage to ask the Lover of mankind, my God, forgiveness for the multitude of my sins, and healing for my incurable sores. For I have defiled the temple of my body; through my indecent desires I have impregnated it with a multitude of impurities; and I have impaired all my senses with illicit acts. Thus I dare not reach up to heaven with my hands, defiled as they are with vile pursuits. Accordingly do I, who am miserable and a prodigal, submit myself to thine ineffable compassion, O immaculate Lady. For I have no other refuge but thee, who art mine only comfort and swift defender. I put my hope in thee, do not abandon me. thy supplications are welcomed by thine only-begotten Son; He rejoices at thine intercession and is quick to grant thy prayers for us. Despise me not who am so miserable; may the indecency of my acts not curtail thy boundless mercy, O Mother of God. Accept this my worthless supplication and by thy motherly prayers make it acceptable to thy Son and God, that He might vouchsafe me the heavenly kingdom as I praise and bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Who will not lament for me, who have renounced the eternal kingdom for the sake of meagre pleasures, ignoring the eternal fire? Having surrendered myself to the passions, I have destroyed the integrity of my soul and become like the unreasoning beasts.

At one time I found myself rich with gifts, but now I have come to love the poverty of the passions. I have become a stranger to the virtues and departed for the distant land of corruption. I am half dead; I have only a tiny remnant of life in me.

Because I am this way by mine own free choice, I cannot even raise mine eyes to the kindhearted Lord.

Lament, O blessed and righteous ones, for me who am caught in the embrace of passions and sin.

Lament, O ascetics, for me who am a glutton and voluptuary.

Lament, O merciful and condescending ones, for me who am hardhearted and cause much grief.

Lament, O God-pleasers, for me who strive to please men.

Lament, O ye who have attained meekness, for me who am irritable and wrathful.

Lament, O humble ones, for me who am pompous and arrogant.

Lament, O ye who have attained the nonacquisitiveness of the apostles, for me who, burdened by my love for possessions, cling to material things.

Lament, O ye who have loved lamentation and hated laughter, for me who have loved laughter and hated lamentation.

Lament, ye who contemplate the judgement that will come after death, for me who affirm that I remember the judgement but act to the contrary.

Pray, O saints of God, for my soul which is convulsed by all manner of passions. Inasmuch as you are able, help me, O saints of God.

For I know that if you beseech God, the Lover of mankind, all will be granted you from the sea of His kindness. And, like our man-befriending God, so also when I, a sinner, beseech you, do not despise my supplication; for I have not the boldness to pray to Him myself because of the multitude of my sins.

Your role it is, O saints, to intercede for sinners, God's role it is to have mercy on those who despair.

O saints of God, pray to the King on behalf of the prisoner. Pray to the Pastor on behalf of the sheep. Pray to Life on behalf of the corpse, that He might lend His hand to aid me and strengthen my humble soul in its feebleness.


I fall down before the compassion of Thy kindness, O Master of all! Accept the prayer of a sinner; sweeten my soul which languishes in the bitterness of sin. Give drink to me who am thirsty from the fountain of life and guide me along its path.

As my Master, rescue Thy slave from captivity, that I might be freed from slavery to the dishonorable passions that have entangled my heart.

May Thy compassion forestall me before I am dragged down to hell together with those who work iniquities.

At that time all that I do now in darkness will be made manifest. Woe is me; what shame will embrace me when those who now think that I am irreproachable see me condemned, when they see then how I, who am miserable, have neglected spiritual deeds and labored for the passions.

Woe is me! O my soul, why is the sun of your mind clouded by the haze of passions? And why does this haze not disappear when rays of light shine forth? Why do you allow the passions to drag you down to earth, and why have you preferred bonds over freedom?

The garment God wove for you have you made unfit for use and unworthy for the royal wedding. Willingly have you given yourself up to sin and enslaved yourself to the enemy of life.

What will you say to the Judge in that day of fear and trembling? Come to your senses, while there is still time. While you are still the mistress of your thoughts, while our mind is still functioning, while there is yet movement in your body, while it is still possible for grace to touch your heart, and while you can still shed cleansing tears--take a brave stand against the passions and, with God's help, valiantly smite Goliath.

Hurry, do not let a thief outrun you, do not let a harlot reach the entrance before you, do not let one of the violent who take the kingdom of God by force block the door.

Hurry, for when the contest is over it is no longer possible to enter competitions. When the market is closed it is not possible to seek goods; and when a transaction is completed, it is not possible to take part in it.

While there is time, hurry to engage in battle, that you might overcome your enemies and show yourself worthy to receive a crown.

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