February 09, 2010

St. Ephraim the Syrian

Today we on the Orthodox Calendar we commemorate our Holy Father St. Ephraim the Syrian. Perhaps the most renown hymnographer in Church history. Here is one of the prayer that that touches my soul;

Inside I Am Not What I Appear To Be

Woe is me, to what judgement will I be subject, and of what disgrace am I worthy? My inner self is not like my outward appearance: I talk about how to free oneself from the passions, but day and night I myself think about disgraceful passions. I conduct discussions about purity, but myself, I indulge in indecent behavior.

Alas! what trails await me? The truth is that I bear the image of righteousness, but lack its capacity. What face shall I who am guilty of such indecency wear when I approach the Lord God Who knows the secrets of my heart? When I stand in prayer, I am afraid that fire will descend from heaven and burn me up, as it happened in the desert that there came out a fire from the Lord that consumed the men who offered strange incense.

What can I expect, I who am weighed down with such a heavy burden of sins? My heart is consumed with fire, my mind is clouded, righteous thoughts have failed in me like a dog do I ever return to my own vomit.

I have no boldness before Him Who will try my heart an inner workings. I have no clean thoughts, no tears while praying. Although I sigh and fall prostrate on my shame-filled face and beat my chest — this is a dwelling place of passions, a sweatshop of evil thoughts.

Though knowest, O Lord, my passions hidden in darkness, the sores of my souls are known to Thee. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed. If Thou wilt not build the house of my soul, I labor in vain trying to build it myself.

It is true that sometimes I prepare myself to do battle with the passions when they war against me, but the evil wiles of the serpent paralyze the efforts of my soul with sensuality and I yield to them. Tough no one visibly ties my hands, the invisible passions drag me away like a captive.

O Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart, that I might rightly recognize the deceit and the malice of the passions. May Thy grace shield me, that I might be able to stand firm and resist, having girded my loins with courage.

Once Thou, O Lord, didst provide safe passage through the impassable sea for They people. Thou gavest Thy people who thirsted water out of a hard rock. Thou alone, according to Thy grace, didst save the one who fell in with thieves. Have mercy upon me as well, for I have also fallen into the hands of thieves and, like a captive, I am bound by wicked thoughts.

No one is strong enough to heal the passionate temperament of my soul except Thou, O Lord, Who knowest the depths of my soul. Condescend and save me by The kindness.

From: Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God from the Works of our Holy Father St. Ephraim the Syrian, Arranged in the Manner of the Psalms of David, Together with the Life of St. Ephrem

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