Saturday, April 12, 2008

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


Daily do I provoke Thy long-suffering patience, O Master. Before mine eyes are both my wretchedness and Thy loving-kindness.

Because I am in the power of the unclean enemy who ever oppresses me, day and night shall I call upon Thy loving-kindness with tears, that Thou mightest deliver me from his attacks. For who can withstand the Evil One, if Thy grace withdraws from him even for one minute, O Master?

Hour after hour does the enemy oppress my soul with both words and deeds. May thy power, O Christ, that rebuked the waves of the sea, rebuke him also, that he may have no power over me, Thy servant. For daily does he renew his wicked scheming against me, and rush to seize my mind, drawing it away from the sweetness of Thy Divine commandments and the saving teachings they contain. Quickly send Thy grace, O Master, to drive the great serpent and all his defiled and wicked thoughts away from Thy servant.

The offended widow approaches the heartless and unjust judge, that he might defend her from her adversary; but I approach my kindhearted Master Who is long-sufffering and good, Who has in His power heaven and earth, that He might be quick to hear me. Thou Who offerest Thy defense to all who hope upon Thee day and night, neither tarry in defending me, O Master. Snatch me away from the enemy and direct my path to Thee that, having conquered the enemy by Thy grace, I might bless Thee, Who are kindhearted and long-suffering, and glorify Thee Who alone desirest the salvation of all men.


the good God grants us the enlightenment of knowledge, and His grace ever visits our hearts. If she finds peace there, she enters and dwells constantly in the soul. But if she does not find the heart pure, she immediately withdraws. Yet compassion encourages her to descend anew and visit us sinners, for we are all inconstant because of our fee will, but not by nature.

We are always distracted and weak, envious and wicked; often do we think evil of one another; we occupy ourselves with wicked ideas, and are always plunged in a mire of unclean thoughts. Thus when grace comes to visit us and encounters in our hearts the stench of unclean thoughts, she immediately withdraws without seeking an entrance, that she might make her habitation there and dwell is us, as is pleasing to her. She leaves only a trace of her radiant sweetness ion the heart, so that one might recognize that grace has visited him but not found an entrance, and, having delighted in grace's radiance, might seek her out.

Do you see God's Providence? Do you see Christ's loving-kindness? Do you see how god Who is Holy ever loves us and wants us to be saved? Blessed is the man who ever strives to prepare a pure heart for grace, that when she comes she might find the fragrance of virtues and a sacred place in the soul and reside therein unto the ages of ages.


Up till now and in this very day, with my face ashamed and hung low do I dare to speak to thee, O master of the angels and Creator of all things--I, who am earth and dust, a distance to men and an insult to mankind; I, who am condemned, all covered with wounds and filled with despondency. How shall I lift my gaze to meet Thy grace, O Master? How shall I find the boldness to move my impure, polluted tongue? How shall I begin my confession?

I who am wretched have immeasurably offended Thy name and lived wantonly, more so than the prodigal son. In my person have I defiled and injured Thine image, for I have not heeded Thy commandments.

I know, O Lord, that because of the multitude of my spiritual stains and my impurity I am not worthy to bear Thy holy name; I cannot stand before Thee in prayer; I cannot look up and behold the heights of heaven, for I have opened the door to reprehensible desire and surrendered to unseemly impulses; and thus have I defiled my poor soul with passions and blackened my soul's garment with the immorality of my will. My whole mind is filled with demonic thoughts. By all my deeds and thoughts have I distressed Thy grace, and I continue repeatedly to do so. Yet ever do I please and gratify my enemy who wages war against me.

My conscience exposes my mind's error; in my heart I cover my face with shame. Before the judgement that awaits me I condemn myself.

Triumphantly do the wanton habits that never leave me drag me along. Ever do I soil myself in the mire of sensuality. I am every entangled in defiled thoughts; from my youth have I become a vessel of corrupting sin. And to this day, though I daily hear of the judgement and of the just deserts to be meted out, I have no will to oppose carnal lust. Ceaselessly do I submit myself to pitfalls; ceaselessly do i make myself a prisoner.

Woe is me, O Lord; dreadfully have I squandered Thy long-suffering patience! Woe is me; how many years have I spent offending Thy Holy Spirit! Woe is me; the time of my life has been spent in all manner of vain endeavors!...But, O Lord, do Thou not expose me in Thy fury; do Thou not exhibit my hateful, disgraceful deeds in a place of universal shame before all angels and men, to my dishonor and eternal condemnation, although I do indeed merit every dishonor and condemnation. According to Thy great compassion alone, have mercy on me and cleanse all my sins before the judgement.


I reflected upon the day my life will end--and I groaned when I saw the multitude of my transgressions and the heaviness of mine iniquities, and when I considered how my errors will be revealed for all to see. There, there will be no place for repentance, tears and prayers; instead, everyone will receive his reward according to his labors, recompense according to his deeds; and neither weeping nor suffering will incline the just Judge to mercy. Show me Thy kind mercy, O Lover of mankind!

In the day when the graves of the dead are opened, the trumpet will sound. Its voice will thunder, great trembling and awe will embrace the universe, all the angels will descend on Thy command to separate the good from the bad, clouds of fire will appear and carry off the pure bodies of the saints. In that day, may Thy compassion be shown also to me, that I might stand at Thy right hand, O good Lord, and obtain mercy!

In m thoughts I descended into the graves to see our corruption,k and when I had examined what Lay therein I cried: Turn not away from Thy servant, O Lord! Resurrect me who am perishing, and I will praise Thy dominion; overthrow the Evil One who rejoiced over me in the my day of sorrow and have mercy on me, for I have hoped in Thee.

In the end a merciless judgement awaits those who have sinned and not repented of their wicked deeds. But those who have acted righteously and kept the commandments of their Lord shall receive from Him the good things of heaven and inherit eternal life. There shall the righteous rejoice over their labors; the saints shall delight in the rewards they will receive.

Lodge all of us in Thy bridal chamber, O Lord, Who art kindhearted toward sinners!

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