Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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


The soul says: in the hostel of the body have I lived, and the Master of the house has sent for me. I can stay no longer, for the one who is sent for me urges me to go, saying: come out of your house; leave this dwelling, So remain in peace, O flesh, you temporary dwelling, and may I behold you with you on the day of resurrection.

Those who are to take me came with haste, and I did not know of it. The one sent for me now stands before me, and I had no sense of it. Deliver me, O our Lord, from the condemnation into which the devil fell, that hater of Thy blameless sons, and together with Thy saints lead me into the kingdom, that I might sing praise and glorify Thee with them.

The soul says to the body: How bitter is your cup mingled with death! How terrifying is the time and how difficult is the hour of trial! Take leave of the world, O comfortable dwelling in which I did reside so long as it pleased the Lord.

What sorrow will fill the heart of the sinner in the hour when the Judge Christ sits upon His terrible throne. All generations will stand before Him and all the secrets of the heart shall be exposed! Terrible is the judgement, terrible is the Judge, terrible is that hour!....

blessed is he who is sheltered by Thy goodness at that time, O Lord.

I accepted Thee, O Son of God, to accompany me on my journey, and when I hungered thou didst satisfy me, O savior of the world.

May fire flee from my members; may the fragrance of Thy flesh and blood drive it away. May baptism be for me an unsinkable ship.

May I behold Thee, O our Lord, in that place in the day of resurrection.


Woe is me, burdened with unprecedented sins! The number of my transgressions exceeds the number of grains of sand in the sea and they afflict me like so many iron shackles, for I lack the boldness to gaze upon the heights of heaven.

To whom shall I run, if not to Thee, O Lover of mankind? Have mercy on me, O god, according to Thy great mercy, and according to the multitude of thy compassions blot out mine iniquity.

To Thee do I run, according to thy great goodness and thy charity.

Thee have I angered, yet to thee do I run, according to Thy great capacity to forget evil-doing.

Thee have I offended, yet to Thee do I run, according to Thy great love for mankind, and I entreat and cry to Thee: Turn Thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!

I have nothing to offer thee, neither a good deed, nor a pure heart; but hoping in Thy compassion I lay myself down, that thou mightest bring me to contrition and unwavering observance of Thy commandments, and that I might not fall so easily into sin again, but serve Thee from henceforth in reverence and truth all the days of my life.


O Virgin Lady, O Mother of the man-befriending God! Direct my heart to contrition and humble it; fill mine eyes with saving tears and illuminate them with the light of thy prayers, that I might not fall asleep in the sleep of death.

sprinkle me with the hyssop of thy loving-kindness and cleanse me. Wash me with my tears, that I might be made whiter than snow.

O Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, receive this my shameful confession and mine entreaty. Ravish my mind and keep the remainder of my life in repentance without offence.

At the time when my humbled soul departs from my body, when--woe is me!--I will have to speak with the enemies outside the gates; then, O Lady, regard me with thy merciful eye; free me from all the merciless tormentors and the terrible taskmasters of the prince of this age; be my defender and destroy all record of my sins. Lead me saved and unashamed to the throne of thy Son and His unoriginate Father and the All-Holy Spirit--the light-creating Trinity, one in essence.


Blessed is the man who obtains boldness in the terrible day of judgement and hears with the others: come, ye who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for you since the creation of the world!

Then each man, when he sees himself in the light, will begin to examine himself and wonder: can this be me? And how did it happen that I who am unworthy have made it here?

The angels will come with great joy and begin to glorify the saints and extol their lives: their struggles, restraint, vigilance, prayers, voluntary poverty, perfect lack of acquisitiveness, tolerance of thirst, perseverance in hunger, constant maintenance of prayerful attention, joy in nakedness endured for the love of Christ--all this shall the angles proclaim with joy to the righteous.

And in answer the righteous will say to them: There was not even one day when we could be found with as much as one good deed.

The angels will remind them anew of the times and places where they performed their deeds, and again they shall marvel at the themselves and begin to glorify god, seeing that their bodies shine in the heavens more than light--and thus are they repaid for the minor deprivations and sorrows they suffered voluntarily on earth.

They found a treasure hidden in a field and, having sold all they had on earth, they acquired it and found a wondrous pearl. By their suffering did they receive and harbor this pearl in t themselves and, though they were unaware of it, they prepared themselves an undefiled and incorrupt garment.

The labor of ascetic struggle is not great, but great is the respite it brings. The struggle to achieve restraint is brief, but the repose that is its reward lasts unto the ages of ages.

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