Sunday, April 13, 2008

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


Know that there are eight evil thoughts that bring about all that is vile: those of sensuality, lechery, love of money, anger, inappropriate grief, despondency, vainglory, and pride. All these conduct warfare with every man.

If you want to conquer sensuality, cherish restraint, have fear of God--and you will conquer it.

If you want to conquer lechery, cherish wakefulness and thirst, ever contemplate death, never converse with women--and you will conquer it. If you want to conquer love of money, cherish non-acquisitiveness and frugality.

If you want to conquer anger, acquire meekness and generosity, and keep in mind how much evil the Jews did to our Lord Jesus Christ; yet He, the man-befriending god, did not become angry with them; but on the contrary He prayed for them, saying: Father, forgive them this sin, for they know not what they do.

If you want to overcome inappropriate grief, never grieve for anything that is transient. If people injure you with words or upset you or dishonor you, do not grieve; but, on the contrary, rejoice. Grieve only when you sin, and even in this case do not go to extremes, that you might not fall into despair and perish.

If you want to overcome despondency, take up some handiwork for a short while, or read, or pray frequently.

If you want to conquer vainglory, love not praise, nor honor, nor fine clothes, nor precedence, nor favor; but on the contrary, cherish occasions when you are reprimanded and dishonored, when false charges are brought against you--and reproach yourself for being more sinful than any sinner.

If you want to conquer pride, then whatever you do, say not that you do it by your own labors, or with your own strength. But if you fast or stand vigil or sleep on the bare ground or sing psalms, or serve in the altar of do a great number of prostrations, say that it was done with god's help and protection, not by your own strength and effort.


Praise to Him Who descended to us in human form! Praise to the Invisible One who became visible for our sake! Praise to the Eternal One Who tasted death for us! Praise to the Mysterious One Whom no mind can comprehend, and Who through His grace made Himself manifest by taking on flesh!

Blessed is He Whose good will brought Him to His mother's womb and bosom, to be born and reared! Blessed is He Who partook of death and thus granted life to mankind.

Blessed is He Who made our flesh a dwelling place for His mysterious being. Blessed is He Who declared to us His mysteries in our own tongue.

Praise to Him Who liberated us, having been bound for our sake. Glory to Him Who is plenteous in mercy, Who has redeemed us without taking anything in return. Praise to the Judge Who accepted condemnation for our sake.

Let us worship Him Who has enlightened our mind with His teaching and laid down a path for His word in our hearing. Let us give thanks to Him Who has grafted His fruit to our tree.

Praise to Him Who invisibly cultivates our spirit. Blessed is He Who attuned the senses of our spirit, that it might ever play songs of exaltation to Him on its lyre.


Approach the compassionate Father, O sinner, and confess your sins, saying with tears: I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, Lord God Almighty, and am no longer worhty to be called Thy son, nor even to pronounce Thy glorious name with my sinful lips, for I have made myself unworthy of heaven and earth by incurring Thy wrath, O good Master!

I beseech Thee, O Lord, cast me not aways from Thy face and turn not away from me, that I might not perish. If Thy hand had not protected men, I would have perished already; I would be like dust before the wind: it would be as if I had never appeared in the world. Indeed, from the time that I left Thy path, I have not encountered one good day, for a day spent in sin, though it may seem good, is actually the bitterest of all bitter things.

And from this day forth shall I hope on Thy mercy, that thou wilt give me strength to work our my salvation. Now do I fall down before Thee and beseech Thee: help me, who have strayed from the path of truth. Shower me with Thy compassion like the prodigal son, for i have made a shame of my life and squandered the wealth of thy grace. Have mercy on me and scorn me not, due to the depravity of my life. Have mercy on me, as Thou hadst mercy on the harlot and the publican; have compassion for me as Thou hadst compassion for the thief: on earth he was rejected by everyone, but thou didst accept him and make him an inhabitant of the sweet paradise. Accept also my repentance, for I too have been rejected by everyone. Thou, O Lord, came3st not to save the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance--accept therefore also me, who repent before Thee.


Grant forgiveness, O Lord; send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will. Sanctify my heart that has become a den and dwelling-place of demons.

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.

Therefore I condemn myself and admit that I deserve all manner of punishment and torture. How many times hast thou enlightened my darkened mind; yet every time I return again to base thoughts! My whole body trembles when I contemplate this; yet every time sinful sensuality reconquers me.

How shall I recount all the gifts of Thy grace, O Lord, that I the pitiful one have received? Yet I have reduced them all to nothing by my apathy--and I continue in this manner. Thou hast bestowed upon me thousands of gifts, yet miserable me, I offer in return things repulsive to Thee.

Yet Thou, O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of long-suffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let be be burned without having ripened on the field of life. Snatch me not away unprepared; seize not me who have not yet lit my lamp; take not away me who have no wedding garment; but, because Thou art good and a lover of mankind, have mercy on me. Give me time to repent, and place not my soul stripped naked before Thy terrible and unwavering throne as a pitiful spectacle of infamy.

If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is trait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Savior, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

No comments: