Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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


O God Who art above all, Who alone hast authority over life and death: show me, a sinner, Thy great mercy in the hour of Thy terrible coming, that as I stand before Thy throne I might not be a great disgrace and reproach to all who will behold me: the angels, archangels, prophets, apostles, patriarchs, martyrs, ascetics, and all the righteous.

Bring me to my senses here, my Savior, here where I have enjoyed the delusion of sin, as a goodhearted Father Who loves His children, and forgive me there, as our merciful and only sinless God.

I who am wretched have committed every kind of sin. I have surpassed all with my dissipation. I deserve punishment, and if I begin to beg for repentance, I have no tears.

Alas, with what eyes shall I, a negligent sinner, behold the terrible throne upon which Thou, O Lord, wilt sit as Thou exposest what I have done? the whole of my life have I squandered like a prodigal, wallowing continually in the mire of sensuality.

Thou alone, O my Creator, knowest all my secret falls and the full extent of my sins. No one has ever been such a dwelling-place of sin as I. No one ever embittered Thy grace, O Master, as fully as I, who followed the aims of sin.

But do Thou, Who art a sea of goodness, dry up the ruinous sea of my sins. Do Thou, Who art an abyss of loving-kindness, drown the abyss of my sins.

Repay me not according to the merit of my deeds, and condemn me not to the flames of gehenna. For Thy wrath, O Lord, is inbearable, and who can withstand Thy threats?


Fear, O soul, the judgement and gehenna, and drive away the heavy sleep of apathy and the terrible slumber of recklessness. The end is near, the judgement is at the door. What will we encounter after we take leave of this life?

Come to my aid, O saints and righteous ones, who have performed good deeds unto salvation and lament for me as for one deceased, or take pity on me as one who is among the living but half-dead. For I am full of shame and lack boldness because of the sins I have knowingly committed.

Pour out on me your kindness as you wold for a prisoner or for one covered with festering sores. Be kind to me, O initiates of the merciful God, our Savior, and pray that He might freely convert me, and that in the hour of His coming I might not be found unworthy and not hear the terrible condemnation: get away from Me, O worker of deceit. I tell you that I know you not.


Grant me, O Son of the Good One, that for which my mind yearns, and join to it that which is pleasing to Thy will.

Grant that I may choose to do good and in no way deviate from Thy will.

Do not permit me to be a wicked and hypocritical disciple who violates Thy commandments.

Protect me from thinking that I can walk along Thy path merely for the sake of appearance and thus by my hypocrisy deceive those who see me, inciting them to proclaim me blessed.

Grant that my heart might please Thy greatness in secret, and that my just life might glorify Thee publicly.

May truth be a mistress to guide Thy worshipper; may it preserve me in chastity both near and far.

Deliver me from the misfortune of knowing Thy law, yet lacking the desire to please Thee.

Vouchsafe me the company of people who are simple, but experienced and wise in the performance of virtues.

My flesh is weak. Fortify it with Thy strength. Help me, break the arrows of the cunning enemy, and number me among the hosts of Thine heirs.

Grant me, O Lord, ever to be among Thy dominion and to do what is pleasing to Thee. And whenever I begin something good, do Thou, O Lord, give me strength to complete it.

I know, O Lord, that I have sinned against Thy will. Clearly do I see that I have transgressed Thy commands. But do Thou, who makest Thy sun to shine on the bad and the good, deign also to shine Thy light in my clouded mind. And sins--those murderers and robbers who have taken up residence inside of me--will be driven out by this Thy light.

The Evil One sees in me no wickedness that did not come from him, for it is because of him that I have become wicked. I am, however, conquered by him through my own free will. The Evil One has entangled me because I myself instructed him to do so.

The slothful and the timid run from Thy yoke; Thy love shames the negligent.

Praise be to Thy goodness, to that mother of all teachers. The blows that they deliver to bring the stubborn to their senses are perhaps quite painful, yet sympathetically do they offer healing to the penitent.

Worthy of veneration are Thy Father and Thy Holy Spirit, Who rejoices at our return!


Blessed is he who has become magnanimous and kindhearted and not enslaved himself to untamed vehemence or wicked wrath; he will be magnified by the Lord.

Blessed is he who has been exalted in love and stands like a city built on a mountaintop, for whom the enemy withdraws with terror when he sees him; for he fears a man who is firm in the Lord.

Blessed is he who has shone forth with faith in the Lord like a bright candle on a tall candlestick, and has illumined the souls of those in darkness who followed the teachings of the faithless and the irreverent.

Blessed is he who ever loves truth and does not let his lips arm dishonor with lies, for he fears the commandment that forbids even idle talk.

Blessed is he who does not foolishly judge his neighbor, but rather, as befits a reasonable, spiritual man, tries first to cast out the beam from his own eye.

Blessed is he who has consciously exercised restraint, and who has never been seduced, neither in thought nor in his senses, by skin and flesh which soon pass and putrefy.

Blessed is he who keeps the day of his departure ever before his eyes, and has learned to hate arrogance before our inherent worthlessness is to be revealed by putrefaction in the grave.

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