Friday, July 29, 2011

St. Ephraim the Syrian: Healing Tears of Repentance

Psalm 74

"Who will cure my soul if not Thou, O Christ, the only Physician of souls!  Where will I find a remedy for the disease of my soul, if not with Thee, O fountain of healing!  Thou Who dist cure the ailing woman, cure also my soul from the ruin of sin.
     May Thy compassion descend on me and help me to overthrow the enemy.  Fortify me who am infirm by the strength of Thine arm, and the Evil One will be ashamed when he sees that I am prepared for battle.  Animate me and the Evil One will be humiliated.  In shame will he be turned back, and I will glorify Thy name.
     Accept the tears of my wretchedness and blot out the record of my debts, and again will the enemy be ashamed, seeing that Thy loving-kindness has destroyed the fruit of his wicked deeds and that I will not be punished.
     May Thy compassion come to mine aid, that I might pass safely through the realm of temptation, and that I might thereafter be close to Thee, with Thee always.
     My sinful soul will glorify Thee and Thy Father and the Holy Spirit, for she has wept and been heard, and, washed with tears of repentance, she has been made a temple inhabited by the Divinity Which has created the world."

Psalm 112

"O Giver of all good things, O fountain of healing and treasure of compassion, Thou only good and kindhearted God, Who ever grantest good things to those who ask!  I beseech Thee, that Thine abundant grace might descend upon me and gather together my mind and heal my hidden sores anew, for distractions and wandering thoughts constantly renew my secret sores.
     O long-suffering Lord Who ever curest with grace and compassion, heal the great spiritual infirmities that are within me, a sinner!
     I have nothing to give Thee, O Master, in return for Thy cures.  And what price could be put on Thy cures?  Neither heaven nor earth can give a reward worthy of them.  It is impossible to purchase these holy heavenly cures, for they are priceless.  Thou givest them only in return for tears, O our Savior; and in return for bitter weeping dost Thou grant them to all.
     O my Master, grant me who am unworthy daily tears and strength, that my heart, enraptured and streaming forth fountains of tears, might be ceaselessly illuminated by pure prayer, and that a few tears might blot out the weighty record of my sins, and a small measure of weeping might extinguish the fire that burns therein.  For if I weep here, there will I be delivered from inextinguishable fire."

*Note: The shedding of tears does not refer to just crying due to emotional sadness, but the shedding of tears due to sorrow for one's sins, true humility, and genuine repentance (a sincere desire to turn away from sin that brings sickness and to turn toward God, Who heals.) One who prays with this disposition invites the transforming, Life-Giving Divine Grace into his heart.     

A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God, Excerpted by Bishop Theophan the Recluse from the Works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian Arranged in the Manner of the Psalms of David, trans. by Antonia Janda (Liberty, TN: St. John of Kronstadt Press, 2004), 127-128, 179180.

The icon shows St. George, St. John of Damascus, and St. Ephrem the Syrian