A prayer of our holy father St. Ephraim the Syrian

O how uncaring I am. 

How rude, how worldly my soul has become. 

O corrupt heart, O lips full of gall, O throat which is an open sepulcher. 

O soul, why do you forget that your end inescapably draws near? 

Why do you not ready yourself for this voyage? 

Why do you, with no pity for yourself, go after destruction? 

Why do you bring everlasting torment on yourself? 

O soul, what are you doing, that you live as a senseless creature? 

Woe to me, who have chosen darkness rather than light. 

How I would rather have that pleasure today, but which tomorrow vanishes, rather than everlasting and unspeakable bliss. 

Woe to me who consents to be robed in a dark and dismal cloak instead of a garment radiant as the sun. 

How I would rather the wretched abodes of Hell instead of the kingdom of heaven. 

Woe to me, a sinner. I willingly and knowingly throw myself into complete destruction. 

O my soul, at last come to a sound mind. 

Be afraid of God and courageously travel on the road of His commandments. 

O soul, perceive, that this age is like a battleground, and the wily serpent schemes to obtain victory by every possible means. 

He is overcome and disgraced by some, but others he overcomes and brings to disgrace. 

Some, who are beguiled by him, are overthrown and others take up the war with him and receive a crown. 

Some, having tasted his gall, achieve the joys of everlasting life. 

While others, who have sampled his sensual sweets, acquire the gall of everlasting torture. 

Some, by their extreme abstinence, easily obtain the upper hand against him. 

And others on account of their devotion to worldly things, are overcome by him easily. 

Those who love God with their full heart, the battle with him means nothing to them. 

However for those who love the world it is toilsome and unconquerable. 

O pitiful soul, understand that the joy, delight, and relaxation of this age are full of grief and sorrow, but misery, deprivation and self-deprecation win unspeakable happiness and everlasting life. 

Be resolute to walk on the path that is straight and melancholy and work in silence, so that when the time of death and departure comes you will not be found unready.


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