St Ephraim the Syrian (ca. 306 – 373) was a prolific hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. St Ephraim wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the Church in troubled times. St Ephraim’s works witness to an early form of Christianity in which western ideas take little part. His works are read extensively during Great Lent services in Orthodox monasteries along with the best known of his writings, the Prayer of Saint Ephrem, which is recited at every service during Great Lent.

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, idle curiosity (meddling), lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Take care, my brothers and sisters, for the Evil One wars against spiritual strugglers in sundry ways. He works against man with unimaginably hypocritical cleverness. Thus, before a sin is committed, the Enemy diminishes its significance in the eye of strugglers. More than any other sin, he puts before them the desire for fleshly pleasure as such a small thing that, prior to succumbing to it, it appears as insignificant to the conscience of a brother or sister as throwing a glass of cold water on the ground. When, however, the fleshly desire is fulfilled, then the Evil One greatly puffs up the sin in the conscience of the sinner, kindling in his soul numberless thoughts of despair, like black waves from Hell, so that the brother’s good thoughts of repentance are submerged and he is hurled into the depths of hopelessness. Seeing from the foregoing, my brothers and sisters, the machinations of the Enemy, take care not to be duped in some misdeed, persisting in it and despairing of your salvation; rather, after rising from your fall, return to the Lord your God. And be confident that He will have compassion on you, for our Lord is tender-hearted and full of compassion, rich in mercy and long-suffering, and He does not punish those who sincerely repent, but immediately greets them with joy.

Therefore, when the Enemy of your soul whispers, “You have lost all, you cannot be saved,” answer him: “I do not despair of my salvation, for I have a compassionate and long-suffering God. And this conviction upholds me in my belief that He Who commanded that we forgive our fellow man for his transgressions against us even seven times seventy that

He, by the same token, will forgive the sins of all who with their whole souls turn to Him.” With such reflections and with the Grace of God, most assuredly all warfare with Satan will depart from you.

St. Ephraim, Evergetinos Vol. 1

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