From my mother's womb I began to grieve Thee, and utterly have I disregarded Thy grace, for I have neglected my soul. Thou, O my Master, according to the multitude of Thy mercies, hast regarded all my wickedness with patience and kindness. Thy grace has lifted up my head, but daily it is brought low by my sins.
Bad habits entangle me like snares, and I rejoice at being thus bound. I sink to the very depths of evil, and this delights me. Daily the enemy gives me new shackles, for he sees how this variety of bonds pleases me.
The fact that I am bound by own desires should provoke weeping and lamentation, shame and disgrace. And yet more terrible is the fact that I bind myself with shackles that the enemy places upon me, and I slay myself with passions that give him pleasure.
Although I know how dreadful these shackles are, I hide them behind a noble appearance from all who mighty see. I appear to be robed in the beautiful clothes of reverence, but my soul is entangled with shameful thoughts. Before all who might see, I am reverent, but inside I am filled with all manner of indecency.
...I hope on Thy mercies, O Lord; I fall at Thy feet and beseech Thee: Grant me the spirit of repentance and lead my soul out of the dungeon of iniquity! May a ray of light shine in my mind before I go to the terrible judgment which awaits me, where there is no opportunity to repent of one's wicked deeds.
--St. Ephraim, *A Spiritual Psalter* #10