Sunday, April 06, 2008

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


Accept from all of us , O our Lord, our prayer and service and supplication. Grant us hearts filled with love and the spirit of patience in sufferings.

May our mouths which confess the faith and our voices be lyres of praise. May the vigilance and labor that our bodies endure make Thee merciful in regard to our sins.

May our mouths that serve as lyres for Thee and our tongues that sing Thee praise not issue tormented cries, O Lord, for Thou hast vouchsafed them to sing Thee praise.

May our eyes that kept vigil though they were heavy-laden with sleep and our legs that exhausted themselves in standing before Thee not be deprived of hope, and may they not lose their reward in the day of reckoning.

May the sounds of our mouths and our songs not be turned into sobs and weeping; but according to Thy compassion, loving-kindness and goodness, accept our vigilance.

Vouch that we may stand before Thee with one soul, with a clean heart, and in harmony may we offer to Thee, O Lord, and to Thy Father and Thy Holy Spirit.


A mournful soul approaches Thee, O Holy Master, and with tears she falls down before Thy compassion.

Thou hast sworn by Thine Own Self that Thou desirest not the death of a sinner and would rather save him from his sins. And truly Thy goodness daily doth prevail over the errors of men. Thou hast mercy upon sinners just as Thou hast mercy upon those who walk in Thy commandments.

Thy compassion is everywhere declared in the Gospels and in the writings of the apostles. Thy holy fathers and teachers, both those who are named in the Church and those who are not, declare Thy compassion.

I know of the prodigal son, Manasseh, the thief, Zacchaeus, the publican, the harlot, the Canaanite woman, the woman with an issue of blood, the paralytic, the blind man, Jairus, and all whose stories have been written down--and I approach Thee.

Extend thy charity and accept me; quicken my mind and restrain me who often fall into my former iniquities and am mired in corrupt thoughts.

When thy grace comes to my heart she finds there the stench of corrupting thoughts. Therefore she instantly withdraws without finding an entrance or having an opportunity to enter and dwell in me as she would like.

Wash my heart with radiant bliss, that I might come to my senses and that Thy grace might make her dwelling in me, O all-compassionate Lord!


In a short time we shall pass through terrible and fearful places, and there is not one here who can avoid walking this path. There will b e no one there to accompany and assist us: neither parents nor brethren, nor friends, nor relatives, nor wealth, nor any other such thing.

If at that very hour we find ourselves stripped of God's protection, the princes of darkness shall certainly hold us back. They are unyielding and merciless; they fear not kings, nor do they respect masters; they honor neither the small nor the great. Only form those who live in piety do they withdraw in fear, allowing them free passage.

I imagine what this hour will be like and fall down before thy goodness, O Lord: give me not up to those who offend me, that Thine enemies might not boast that they have taken Thy servant, O good Lord. May they not gnash their teeth and terrify my sinful soul, saying: thou hast fallen into our hands, thou hast been handed over to us. That is the day for which we have waited.

No, O Lord, deal with me not according to mine iniquities and turn not Thy face away from me, Say not to me: Amen, I say to thee, I know thee not. Punish me, o Lord, according to Thy compassion, and may mine enemy not rejoice over me. Extinguish his fury, nullify all his actions, provide for me a path to Thee free from attacks and revilement.

Incline thine ear to my prayer, O good Lord, not because of my righteousness, but because of thy compassion and thy great mercy. Save my sorrowful soul from death. Thou art the Lord of all and Thou hast power over all creatures.

Thou hast said, O Lord: ask, and it shall be given to you: knock, and it shall be opened to you. Lo, I ask and I knock. Before my end comes, O Lord, cleanse me of all sin.


Get up, O soul. Thou hat slept till now in sin; shake off thy slumber; hurry, and seek refuge in repentance--and the Just One will perhaps be moved to mercy by thy tears. Put off from thy mind the veil of corruption, that thine eye might see rightly.

Hourly shed tears of contrition for thy shameful deeds before the Judge. And abyss of torment
awaits thee in return for thy deeds and thy depravity. Weep for thyself exceedingly, that the Just One might both hearken unto thee and make peace with thee.

Shudder, O unfortunate soul, and be terrified by the torments which thou hast prepared for thyself. Weep for thyself, thou who hast communed with the unclean powers, for the eternal fire shall follow thee everywhere. Deeply hast thou mired thyself in lust, and never didst thou break away from it.

Thy thoughts are encumbered with thorns and thistles, and thou hast yet to b ring forth fruits of repentance. The passions have convulsed thee like waves and drowned thy ship in a sea of sins.

Never didst thou b ring to mind that day when all that is hidden shall be subject to scrutiny. What wilt thou do when the voice, demanding that thou go to meet the Bridegroom, causes thee to tremble?

The light of thine eyes shall grow dark and vanish--and thou shalt be left outside with the foolish virgins.

Supply thyself with oil, O miserable soul, while there is still time to justify thyself. Beg for forgiveness of thy sins together with the harlot and heal thy wounds with thine own tears.

The door of repentance is yet open--enter and cleanse thyself from thy corruption.

Thou, who desirest the salvation of the sons of men, have compassion on this soul that has withdrawn from Thee. Accept her, O Lord, with Thy usual mercy. At the righteous judgement, may Thy compassion shelter me, who am sinful, and deliver me from torment.

Thou, who forgivest sins and freely grantest mercy, forgive me the sins of my soul at the righteous judgement! May the prodigals, whom Thou didst gather together and bring to repentance, exalt Thee.


Mimi said...

What a wonderful reading so deep into Lent thank you.

although it took me a second to figure out what my moth was.

John said...

oops--thanks for catching my typo. Moth/mouth was obviously one that spellcheck wouldn't catch. Please let me know when you find others, as there are 50 more of these to go.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mimi said...

No worries, it made me giggle. And you are right, spellcheck doesn't catch that one.

Something you'd enjoy - one of the listings I ran across at work the other day had a line something like "wood stove offers obeisance to the room" Teee heeeee