Sunday, April 20, 2008

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


The Lord is an omniscient giver of gifts. He considers what would benefit the supplicant; and when the Lord sees that a man is asking for something harmful or even merely useless, the Lord does not answer his prayer and refuses him that which he thought good. The Lord hears every prayer, and he whose prayer is not answered receives from the Lord the same saving gift as he whose prayer is answered.

If two people approach the Good One, one in need and the other with a debt to pay, He will give to the one and forgive the other. Thus both walk away from the Giver's door with gifts: the one in need receives delivery from necessity, and the debtor receives forgiveness of his debt.

In every possible way God shows that He is a merciful Giver of gifts: He bestows upon us His love and shows us His kindness. And this is why He will not answer even one inappropriate prayer if its fulfillment would bring us death and ruin.

even in this case, however, when He refuses to grant what we ask for, He does not leave us without a most useful gift, for He removes from us harm and opens to us the door of His compassion.

Therefore be sure that every prayer that is not fulfilled is certainly harmful; but a prayer that is answered is beneficial. The Giver of gifts is just and good and will not leave your prayers unanswered, for in His goodness there is no malice and in His truth there is no envy.


Standing by the coffin I gazed therein and beheld the corruption of the flesh. In the grave it had become repulsive--there was nothing to resemble an attractive face; instead dry, crumbling bones covered with corruption were to be seen. With sorrow and grief I withdrew from the coffin, carried by my thoughts to that time when we will be resurrected to the sound of the trumpet and will glorify Thee for the resurrection prepared for Adam's descendants and say: Praise to Thee, O Lord of all!

I heard what is written about the resurrection in the Gospel; I thanked God and exclaimed: praise to the all-holy nature of Thy dominion, that in the beginning adorned our nature and honored it with Thine image, and in the last times sent down Thy Son!....And He saved us from ruin and will come again to resurrect all of Adam's race. He will carry the righteous up to heaven and cast the lawless into gehenna--and they will exclaim: just is thy judgement, O Lord and King! Praise to Thee, O Lord of all!


Long-suffering is the Lord, and he draws all of us toward His kingdom; but He requires of us an account for our carelessness during this short time.

He will say to us: for you did I take on flesh, for you did I visibly walk about the earth, for you was I beaten, for you was I struck on the face, for you was I crucified and raised on the cross, for you who dwell on earth was I given vinegar to drink, in order to make you holy and heavenly. I have granted you My kingdom, called all of you My brethren and sent down to you the Holy Spirit.

What more is there that I could do but have not done in order to save you? The only thing I do not want to do is to constrain your free will so that your salvation would become a matter of necessity, not of your own choosing.

Tell me, O sinners who are mortal by nature: What have you endured for My sake, for your Master Who suffered for you?

Let us all come together to worship Him and weep before the Lord Who has created us, and let us say: How shall this race of sinners repay thee, O incomprehensible, good and kindhearted God? Thou Who hast illumined all the universe with grace, illumine also the eyes of our hearts, that we might love thee, O master, and with love always perform Thy holy writ.

Behold the cup of thy terrifying blood, filled with light and life. Grant us understanding and enlightenment, that with the love and sanctity of faith we might approach it and that it might be unto us for the forgiveness of sins and not for condemnation.


Terrible is the approach of death to people who are passionate, sinful and weak, who have not tried to live blamelessly in this vain world.

Those who labor, and accomplished strugglers of piety, rejoice at the hour of departure. seeing before their eyes the great labor of their struggle, vigilance, fasting, prostrations, prayer, tears, and sackcloths, their souls rejoice when they are summoned from their bodies to enter into repose.

but parting with this life gives exceeding sorrow to the sinner, who sees before his eyes his negligence and its bitter fruits....What repentance shall then embrace the heart of him who has here neglected his salvation! Alas, O my soul, alas, why dost thou neglect thy life! All of a sudden thy summons will come--what wilt thou do in that place if thou hast been careless here? What wilt thou do before the throne of the just Judge? How is it that the enemy robs thee, but thou dost not realize it? How is it that the enemy steals from thee heavenly riches, but thou art so distracted that thou dost not know it,

Have mercy on me, O long-suffering Son of god and sinless Christ! Grant me, O my Savior, to contemplate the life to come, that I might perform Thy will. In my old age at least make me a participant in thy grace, that I might at least complete my untoward life with a good end.

How shall I who am negligent stand before Thy terrible throne? How shall I who am impatient and useless enter into the community of those who have here brought forth the fruits of righteousness? by what traits will they acknowledge me when the saints and the righteous upon their heavenly beds recognize each other according to their deeds?

No, you have no cause to flatter yourself! The righteous, the chaste and the humble will walk in unapproachable light, but the sinful, the slothful, the proud, the haughty and those who carelessly live for their own gratification like I do--will find themselves in the eternal and unquenchable fire.

Be sobered, O my soul, and pray with tears. Cry out from all thy heart that before the end comes thou mightest be converted and make a good start.

Grant this to us, O Lord, by the prayers of our immaculate Lady the Theotokos and all thy saints, for Thou art blessed unto the ages.

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