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A Spiritual Psalter: or, Reflections on God (St Ephraim of Syria)

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#1 Michael Stickles

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 07:04 PM

Title: A Spiritual Psalter: or, Reflections on God
Author: St. Ephraim of Syria; edited/excerpted by St. Theophan the Recluse
Publisher: St. John of Kronstadt Press, 1997
ISBN: 0912927402
Pages: 255
Price: $30.00
Links: Archangels Books, Skete.com
Description: A collection of Hymns, compiled from the writings of St. Ephraim the Syrian by Bishop Theophan the Recluse. A wonderful guide for anyone seeking a deeper life of Christian spirituality. Also includes a short life of St. Ephraim.

#2 Michael Stickles

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 12:36 AM

Here's a review "transplanted" from another thread...

The 'Spiritual psalter' is undoubtebly one of my favorite writings among all the treasures found in the 'Chest of Orthodoxy'. The psalms that it contains have the ability to move ones mind into deep humility and even into tears. 'A Spiritual Psalter' is not read but prayed through, and it is filled with immortal wisdom, beauty, knowledge and advice (YES! all at the same time!). - honestly, I can but sign myself with the sign of the cross and express my gratitude to the Allmighty for such a treasure!

The Second Stasis
Despite my sins, hearken unto me, drive away the enemy and strengthen me to the good

O God rightious and praised, O God pre-eternal: Hearken unto this man, this sinner, in this hour!

Hear me, O God, hear me in Thy fortress, remember not the continual disobidience of my worthlessness.

Answer my prayer with fire, as Thou didst once for Thy Prophet.

O God of Holy powers! O, Creator if the fleshless ones! O, Thou Who didst pronounce: ask. and ye shall receive! Be Thou not repelled by me who am unclean, who have defiled my lips and am covered with sins.

Hear me, Thou Who hast promised to hear those who call to Thee in truth, and direct the steps of thy servant to the path of peace.

I cry to thee with all my heart: God, O God, hearke unto me, O hope of all the ends of the earth and of those who travel afar. Banish all unclean spirits that they may flee from the face of Thy servant.

Take up Thy weapons and shield and rise up to help me. Draw Thy Sword and imprison them who persecute me. O Lord, tell my soul: I am thy salvation.

May the spirit of fear, the spirit of despodency, and gthe spirit of pride and of all manner of malice withdraw from my soul. In it may all manner of malice withdraw from my soul. In it may all manner of excitement produced by the devil be extinguished. May my spirit, soul, and body be enlighgtened by the light of Thy knowledge. May I come to be a perfect man made unto the measure of the stature and fullness of Christ with the angels and all who have been pleasing to Thee throughout the ages, and I shall glorify thine all-honorable and venerable name of the father, Son and Holhy Spirit.


#3 Titus Fulcher

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 11:35 AM

The Spiritual Psalter is worthy reading for any season, and will be especially helpful to the dedicated soul during the Great Fast. I purchased my copy not really considering what the contents would be. After reading the third Kathisma I was hooked. St Ephraim confronts the reader with the realities of life one often pretends to overlook. He exposes us to our sinfulness and ingratitude to God, our selfishness and our delusional pseudo-superiority. In exchange he offers humility, devotion and spiritual joy for the one willing to walk the path of the Cross and cast his/her trust in the Lord. St Theophan's editing produces a book that can be read again and again, and which provides in each 'psalm' and 'stasis' enough spiritual reflection to last a lifetime. If you fear the Ladder of Divine Ascent is too erudite or ascetically oriented, the Spiritual Psalter will provide a perfect alternative and/or corrective.

#4 Fr. Michael L.

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 10:54 PM

From A Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by St. Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the Divine Psalter of the Old Testament.

Psalm 55, A Spiritual Psalter

After having gained knowledge of the truth, I have become a brawler and an offender. I argue over trifles; I have become envious of and callous toward my neighbor, merciless toward beggars, wrathful, argumentative, obstinate, slothful, irritable. I harbor vile thoughts, I love fancy clothing. And to this day I have many corrupt thoughts and fits of selfishness, gluttony, sensuality, vainglory, arrogance, lust, gossiping, breaking of fasts, despondency, rivalry, and indignation.

I am worthless, but think much of myself. I lie constantly, but get angry with liars. I defile the temple of my body with wanton thoughts, but sternly judge the wanton. I condemn those who fall, but myself fall constantly. I condemn slanderers and thieves, but am myself both a thief and a slanderer. I walk with a bright countenance, although I am altogether impure.

In churches and at banquets I always want to take the place of honor. I see hermits and act dignified; I see monks and I become pompous. I strive to appear pleasing to women, dignified to strangers, intelligent and reasonable to my neighbors, superior to intellectuals. With the righteous I act as if I possess vast wisdom; the unintelligent I disdain as illiterates.

If I am offended, I take revenge. If I am honored, I shun those who honor me. If someone demands of me what is rightfully his, I start a suit. And those who tell me the truth I consider enemies. When my error is exposed, I get angry, but I am not so dissatisfied when people flatter me.

I do not want to honor those who are worthy but I myself, who am unworthy, demand honor. I do not want to tire myself with work, but if someone fails to serve me I get angry with him. I do not want to walk among laborers, but if someone fails to help me in my work I slander him.

I arrogantly deny my brother when he is in need, but when I have need of something, I turn to him. I hate those who are ill, but when I myself am ill I wish that everyone would love me. I do not want to know those who are higher than I, and I scorn those who are lower.

If I abstain from indulging my foolish desires, I praise myself vaingloriously. If I succeed in vigilance, I fall into the snares of conceit and contradiction. If I refrain from eating, I drown in pride and arrogance. If I am wakeful in prayer, I am vanquished by irritability and wrath. If I see virtue in someone, I studiously ignore him.

I have scorned worldly pleasures, but do not abandon my vain desire for them. If I see a woman, I go into raptures. To all appearances I am wise in humility, but in my soul I am haughty. I seem not to be acquisitive, but in reality I suffer from a mania for possessions. And what good is it to dwell on such things? I appear to have forsaken the world, but in fact I still think about worldly things all the time.

During services I always occupy myself with conversations, wandering thoughts, and vain recollections. During meals I indulge in idle chatter. I yearn for gifts. I participate in the sinful falls of others and engage in ruinous rivalry.

Such is my life! With what vileness do I obstruct my own salvation! And my arrogance, my vainglory does not permit me to think about my sores that I might cure myself. Behold my virtuous feats! See how vast are the regiments of sins which the enemy sends to campaign against me! Yet in the face of all this, I who am wretched endeavor to boast of sanctity. I live in sin, but want others to honor me as a righteous man.

In all this I have but one thing to say in my defense: the devil has ensnared me. But this did not suffice to absolve Adam of his sin. Cain was of course also prompted by the devil, but he did not escape condemnation either. What shall I do if the Lord comes to me? I have no means to justify my negligence.

I fear that I shall be numbered among those whom Paul called vessels of wrath, who will share the devil's fate and whom God, because of their contempt for Him, has committed to the passions of degradation. Thus there is the danger that I will be sentenced to the same fate.

If You would save me, who am unworthy, O Merciful Lord, vouchsafe me, a sinner, repentance; enliven my soul deadened by sins, O Giver of Life. Drive out the stony hardness that is in my miserable heart and grant me a fountain of contrition, O You who poured forth life to us from Your life-creating rib.

Psalm 120, A Spiritual Psalter

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 on in this manner. Thou has 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 longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me 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 the 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 strait 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 Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

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