Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 68
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A And now, recalling the stern wrath described above,
that awaits me from God,
how can I stop these new laments
and how can the flow of tears from my eyes be dried?
Were I to take the rushing streams of the four rivers1
that water Eden and the rest of the earth to its
farthest reaches and direct them to the
springs of my eyes,
they would not cool the flames
of my soul’s mortal sins.
Or were the prophet’s wishes to come true for me2
and my head were inundated with water
and upon my light of vision, fountains of tears
were to gush,still it would not suffice to measure the
pain of my broken soul.
And were the tragic cries of a wailing woman,
heart and soul pierced with pain, joined together,
they would not suffice to incant the melody
or the harmony of the lament of my soul’s devastation.
B The day of my birth was cursed,
and not that of Job3 or Jeremiah,4
for their birthdays are to be celebrated and not erased,
since the world is not worth even one of them.5
But looking at me, who does not deserve the light
or any portion of goodness, they should curse the day
I was born, I,
a destructive child, deadly neighbor, sower of sin and satellite of iniquity.
I, who did not honor the covenant of life
that you established, God, doer of good,
and did not walk in the path of your life-giving salvation.
I did not gather the harvest of grain,6
to store for my sustenance
when snowy days of trouble come.
I did not build firm walls
and did not put a roof on my house
to protect from the stormy gusts of air.
I did not lay aside a store of sacramental wafers
for the endless journey to cure the turmoil of my hunger.
I did not address you with prayers of supplication,
so that I might have the audacity to stand before you.
I did not amass the reward of salvation through
good works to assure the renewal of my soul.
C On my life’s journey I did not settle accounts with
my adversaries, so that I might here and now escape
the stern hand of the judge.7
I did not approach with hands filled with blessings and
in hope of exoneration with the lawgiver.8
I did not look forward,
nor did I protect my back,
nor was I armed to the right,
nor was I shielded from the left,
to be spared harm in the battle.
I did not dress my cavalry in armor
nor did I equip my footsoldiers with arms
that I might send them to the front.
I did not gather the early fruit,
nor act in time for the late harvest,9
and now I am in limbo, bereft of goodness.
I do not have the flower of innocence,
nor the oil of mercy.
Here, in the darkness of the night, without a
flicker of light, I doze in the stupor of mortality,10
while the trumpet call summons me.
Once again I have arrived without wedding clothes,
and have left the oil of good works behind.
And the door to the wedding feast has closed
D How shall I find comfort for this much grief?
How much of the light of hope can I mix
with the darkness of doubt?
Where should I dig in my heels?
On what shall I fix my eyes?
What calm can I await?
To what peace shall I lift my hands?
Should I look for the vault of the heaven from where
the fiery rain fell on Sodom, as written?12
Or where earth
opened its voracious throat
to swallow Dathan with the army of Abiram?13
Dare I flee my keeper
to be captured by terrible leviathan?14
Or should I travel among those beasts, who
would be quicker to ask vengeance from the creator
than Elisha did against
the pagan youth of Bethel?15
Or shall I turn to the expanse of clear skies
covering the Egyptians in thick darkness?16
Look to the birds on high
that feed like vultures on bloody carrion?17
E What good is it to be brave as
a lion among the weak
and then be devoured by wasps?18
Or to be delivered from the bears’ claws,19
only to be engulfed in blood-sucking flies?20
If I sit down to rest, impudent flees swarm around me
like flecks of flaming ash from a fire.
If I escape being impaled on the horn of a unicorn,
my flesh will crawl with the chewing of little worms.
And even huddled in the darkest corners of my closet,
I could be accosted by the foulness, like heaps of dead
frogs, to disgust me.21
If stand in the middle of a field,
I can be surrounded by swarms of locusts.22
But let me leave aside the grasshoppers and caterpillars,
a mighty army, together with the palmerworm and
seemingly lifeless canker,23 and the hardened
water pellets of hail and the destructive frosts,24
which may to the eye seem less destructive,
but when wielded by God with his eternal wrath and
strength have struck down, laid low, and
driven out the high and mighty Pharaoh
with his rod of violent repression, vanquishing him.
These then are the visible manifestations of the
hidden afflictions, the spiritual chastisements
and unseen inner torment,
suffered by the Egyptians for their injustice.
F But you, almighty creator of everything, Lord of all,
who rise up again at my enemies and scatter them,25
have mercy on me, with compassion.
Extend your hand of salvation to me,
perplexed, weary, wayward, and worthy of death.
For you alone are known as God,
glorified forever, with the Father and your Holy Spirit
unto the ages of ages.
1. Gn 2,10.
2. Jr 9,1 (Arm. 8,23).
3. Jb 3,3.
4. Jr 20,14.
5. He 11,38.
6. Pr 6,6-8.
7. Mt 5,25.
8. Ex 23,15.
9. Jc 5,7.
10. Mt 25,3-8
11. Mt 22,11.
12. Gn 19,24.
13. Nb 16,31-32.
14. Jon 1.
15. 2R 2,22-24.
16. Ex 10,21.
17. Ez 29,17-20.
18. Ex 8,16-28.
19. 2R 2,23-25.
20. Ex 8,21-24.
21. Ex 8,11-14.
22. Ex 10,4.
23. Jl 1,4 Jl 2,25.
24. Ex 9,25.
25. Ps 68,1 (Arm. 67,2).
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A And now, by your hand, great Lord and God,
artist who with infinite ingenuity shaped my being
in the crucible of your love where
I am daily refined but never purified,
continuously stirred but never smooth.
It is in vain, O silversmith, my heavenly architect,
that you squander effort working on me.
As the prophet said in his well known parable,
my wickedness does not melt away.1
Because I am woefully misguided
I dare speak out of turn
like some pathetic, possessed maniac,
increasing the burden of my sin
instead of finding a means of reconciliation.
And so that the punishment awaiting me in the next life
does not come as a shock,
extraordinary event, or unprecedented calamity,
he planted as a reminder here in my body
the token of that first curse,
that through this small insignificant speck the larger
illness might be examined.
B For in the womb are born and spontaneously multiply
all manner of squirming worms,
intestinal worms gnawing in secret,
burning tumors, stinging ulcers, abnormal growths,
and host of other sweaty, noisome, disgusting, annoying, itching conditions.
Plus other savage marauders,
like demons attacking in the night,
barbarous mercenaries from the legions of darkness,
with the ferocity of Arabian wolves,
stalking with their head curved down, their
their crooked, hooked jaw,
resembling that of a scorpion,
piercing with crude thorns,
sucking, drawing blood,
to turn the bed of rest into an instrument of punishment.
And when one lifts one’s hand to give them their due,
they sense the danger in advance that man poses
and immediately take flight
with their hairless bodies and dwarfed size,
and hopping this way and that like grasshoppers
and with the slyness of foxes conspire against the good,
escaping through secret places, as if they have found deliverance from death.
And such vile and miserable beings,
not only pursue the vulgar and motley mob,
but also powerful and fearsome kings,
driving them to the attic of their habitations,
or even forcing them to live outside.
Courageous and brave men, who rule crowds
and govern peoples and take cities of nations,
have witnessed defeat at the hands of this virulent
“We were not able to resist these tyrants, stronger
therefore we took flight and reached this point.”
C And why have I discoursed about
such miniscule and abject things worthy of ridicule?
Only because they are the most powerful and irrefutable advocates for the Divinity,
reminding me of what awaits me in the next life, these bitter fruits
of my unruly body.
And even so deadly diseases happen upon us and
eat away relentlessly.
From these there is no riddance
other than through physical pains which foretell
the punishment that is to come.
And there is no place to seek refuge,
to escape them by fleeing.
For without the signal of your will,
human efforts and methods fail.
But you, who do good, hold in ample measure the
life-giving cure for everything.
You have but to will it, in order to save, renew, pardon, cure and give life.
To you glory forever and ever.
1. Jr 6,29.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A Now let me lift this discussion
from the lowly things of earth
unworthy of being considered part of creation
to the higher things.
Let me speak of God’s serious and stern Last Judgment
from which there is no escape.
Even those the closest to God such as the Patriarchs
or the most saintly such as the Prophets,
or the most spotless such as the Apostles,
or the truly chosen such as the martyrs,
if you did not grace them with your love
with your undiminishing goodness,
and unending mercy, they would be no use for
B For even if I were to call to Abraham himself
with a parched mouth, as taught by
the parable of the rich man,1
Abraham would not provide so much as a drop of water,
since he too is bound by our common humanity.
And if I were to call to Moses, also a captive of
it would be useless for he could not save even the man
gathering branches on the Sabbath.2
And as for Aaron, he himself needed an intercessor.3
And David, he too was blamed despite his abundant good deeds.4
Then there are Noah, and Job and Daniel,
as the prophet Ezekiel explained, inspired by God:
“As I live, said the Lord God, they shall deliver neither
sons nor daughters from the fury to come, only they
themselves shall be saved.”5
As for Peter, the rock of faith,
no sooner was he out of your providential care
than he succumbed to human anxieties.6
I leave unmentioned multitudes of others
humbled by various human frailties
who are, nevertheless, among the eternally blessed,
for example, the prophet Josiah who blasphemed even
at the altar during the divine liturgy.
Like these there are many more making up
an inexplicable mystery
susceptible to various interpretations.
C And since human power to reach salvation is finite,
we are objects of your mercy, beneficent God,
and fortified by you, Almighty,
called by you, God protector,
and pardoned by you, God for whom everything
graced by you, God our liberator,
and cured by you, God our healer,
granted life by you, God incorruptible,
and granted light by you, God our renewer.
Therefore, acknowledging the limitations
of my earth-born nature,
but taking courage from those you have comforted,
I petition only you, Son of the living God,
Christ blessed in all things.
What is written above is further justified
when we recall the wisdom written
in the same spirit as this prayer:
“It is better for a happy wise man
to fall into the hands of the Lord,
than to fall into the hands of men,
for the greater the power, the greater the mercy.”8
These words also suit David,
who when faced with three penalties posed by God9
willingly chose a horrible death, displaying faith
reminiscent of the living Christ,
preferring death to the two lesser penalties
that involved torment without mercy.
And if I apply these words to myself
searching to sustain my lost soul,
it would not be stretching the truth.
For in this book of lamentations
I seek not to disparage
those who have been rescued,
for without them how would we approach the Lord?
Instead I aim to glorify the name of our Savior,
and praise his grace before all people,
proclaiming those who have
been raised by high deeds
through the forever coveted salve of compassion.
D Even as you are life, you are salvation,
you are the cure, you are immortality,
you are bliss, you are enlightenment.
Grant me peace from the torment of my sins,
so that you might also have rest
from my incessant, whining self-reproaches,
you who thrive on nothing but the salvation
of us humans.
1. Lc 6,19-31.
2. NM 15,32-36.
3. Ex 32,25-35.
4. 2S 12,1-12.
5. Ez 14,14 Ez 14,16 Ez 14,18-20.
6. Mt 14,30, Mc 14,71.
7. Lc 1,37.
8. Si 2,18.
9. 2S 24,10-17.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A Now let us turn to the happy and glorified ranks
of the saints,
some of whom stumbled slightly but were steadied,
some who doubted a bit but were enlightened
by the radiant purity of the Holy Spirit,
thus exhibiting the faults of the ordinary humans
on the one hand, while on the other,
the ways and virtues of angels,
transcending the laws of nature.
And now, those who are blessed
by the divine mouth of our Father Christ,1
commanding all alike, the chosen, celebrated, adored, and praised,
who are worshiped as members of the body of Christ
and who are prepared as temples of the Holy Spirit,2
in whom there is no hint of darkness,
but who are instead completely guileless
and glow with righteousness
and are godly as much as humans can be:
their faces are open and unashamed,
their piety uplifting and intrepid,
their lives sober and irreproachable,
their worship stalwart and unwavering,
their ways courageous and unflagging,
their truth uniform and unshakable,
their valor strong and indomitable,
their vision is bright and unconfused,
their wisdom is heavenly and invincible,
their image is clean and incorruptible.
By their examples and in the memory of their names
God taught us to pray and3
through them find help amid troubles,
as your word, Creator, teaches.4
B But I am unworthy in all things,
and fail, as much as I try.
Although I am awake, I dream.
Although I seem alert, I am dazed.
While worshiping, I blaspheme.
While praying I err.
In my work I balk.
While seeking forgiveness I sin.
In my resting, I am restless,
While advancing, I retreat.5
When I walk, I walk backwards.6
To the light, I bring darkness.7
To sweet flavors, I add the bitterness of absinthe.
Into the warp of goodness, I weave the woof of evil.
After being lifted up, I stumble again.
I blossom, but do not bear fruit.
I speak and do not act.8
I promise but do not perform.
I make vows I do not fulfill.
I reach out but pull back.
I display but do not offer.
I bring forth but do not give.
While tending my wounds I reopen them.9
While reconciling I cause friction.
I complain without cause and am justly condemned.
I am enrolled and immediately removed.
I set sail and immediately lose course.
I set out and do not reach the harbor.
I poise myself and yet I fall.
I am filled and yet drained dry.
I am put in order here and fall apart there.
I am gathered here and set afire there.10
I lay a foundation but do not finish building.11
I gain little and waste thousands.
I save almost nothing and spend without end.
I give others advice I do not practice.
I study constantly but never learn the truth.12
Even when the evil is extinguished I keep stoking it.
I take heart a bit, then feel yet more abandoned.
I gear up and then as quickly slacken.
I patch this and rip that.
I pull up nettles and sow thorns.
I try to ascend and am dragged down.
I go to the nest as a dove and come out a crow.
I arrive almost white and leave totally black.
I pledge myself to you and then dedicate myself
to an assassin.
I face forward but turn back.13
C I am cleansed but am covered with soot.
I am washed but am soiled just the same.
I pretend to be David and act like Saul.
I mouth truths and lie in my heart.14
I give with my right hand but steal with my left.
I cultivate wheat but sow tares.15
I have retreated from the heights of wisdom and become as I was.
I put on the face of an angel but have the mind of a devil.
I am steady on my feet but wavering in my mind.
I confess my shortcomings falsely but really err.
I feign righteousness but am truly false.
I pretend to be in the choir of the meek but strut
with the demons.
I am praised by humans but reproached by you,
I am blessed among the earthly but
pitiful among the children of light.
I am pleasing to the most vulgar but have fallen
from your eyes, great king.
I flee your just tribunal but plea before the impious.
I reject the noble but cavort with the repulsive.
I dress my body up with finery
but my soul in spotted feathers of a jay.16
I approach to make a pact but I am rejected as a traitor.
Today I am pure and filled with the Spirit
but tomorrow I am a crazed fool.
I disobeyed the Lord’s commandments but
followed the serpent’s suggestions.17
I became high and mighty but submitted like a weakling.
I bear the burdens of the day but leave
without my portion at pay time.18
I talk big at a distance but am nonplussed when
called to account.
At sunrise I appear prosperous and at sunset I loiter empty-handed.
I sit upon the elder’s chair but take counsel from fools.19
I fall asleep complaining and awake in terror.
I plough the fields of my desires with special
care for evil.
I who am
ever the prodigal son,
banished forever, unrepentant, wayward,
inconsolably dejected, in self-imposed captivity,
servant of death and corruption,
mercilessly tormented, condemned
cut off beyond rejoining, extinguished
bruised beyond healing, destroyed
beyond hope of the next life.
And if sterner reproaches than these are needed
against my unruly soul,
I hereby commit them to writing,
I heap them like kindling
to fuel the flames of Hell.20
I am the jealous offspring of the new heavenly Adam
as Cain was in the first instance toward the old and earthly Adam.
And in this world I bear upon my soul the
mark of blame,21 not with the respiration of breath, but
through the wordy torment of my conscience.
D And where is salvation now?
Now when the father of faith, Abraham, in our
desperate damnation, turns my cruelty in life back
on my soul after death? 22
When the great prophets stone me with the
harsh words? 23
When the brave one adorned in glory, kills me
with the thrust of a javelin? 24
When the image of the true Lord wipes me from
the face of the earth with Achor? 25
When the most sublime of God’s chosen delivers me
to the vengeance of the Gibeonites? 26
When the seer born of the prophet slays me
before the Lord with the Amalakites? 27
When the zealot of God lays waste
with fire from heaven?
When the consummation of the dim images of the old covenant and the herald of the new covenant
pours upon us the winnowing of the chaff? 28
When the chief of the disciples takes my life
with Sapphira’s? 29
When the one judged admirable by the Holy Spirit
mixes the savor of death with teaching of life? 30
Meanwhile, the assembly of the blessed are
indifferent to me, both angel and human,
those valiant forces poised to obey God’s command,
the universe of the world, and the elements,
the inanimate and the living,
by whom I am forever scolded and condemned
and reminded of terrors to come
unsettling the tranquility and stability of my life
like waves whipped by storms.
And if one were to study with wisdom
the diverse sea creatures
from the smallest to the largest,
countless without number
swarming in infinite schools, bustling
and gliding this way and that through
the sea of my body, the truth of all
I have written would be confirmed.
E But you yourself blessed, immortal king,
kind, heavenly Christ, who loves mankind,
only-begotten Son of the living God,
almighty exalted beyond understanding,
beyond telling, who pardons us, awesome God,
scold the undulating agitation of my soul
whipped up by the winter tempest,
calm the uncontrollable commotion in my troubled heart,
whip in the reins and subdue the wild urges of my mind.
By the grace of your command, O great God,
may the storm that constantly pelts me with
icy gusts be calmed.31
Put to rest and banish forever
the multi-headed ghosts of secret shame
which attack like pirates in their vulgar ways.
Consider my constant prayer
whose letters are written with ever
renewed compunction in this book of the sighs of my grieving heart.
Lift me out of the abyss of death’s depths
and grant me miraculous life among the
Receive my repentance, my self-reproaches
offered with savory smoke.
Console me, for I am out of hope,
and ease my afflictions and sighs.
To you with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
glory, honor and dominion forever.
1. Mt 25,34.
2. 1Co 6,15-20.
3. Gn 20,7
4. Jb 42,8.
5. Ph 3,13.
6. Lc 9,62.
7. Lc 11,35.
8. Lc 23,3.
9. 2R 8,8-10.
10. Jn 15,6.
11. Lc 14,29.
12. 2Tm 3,7.
13. Jr 2,27.
14. Is 29,18.
15. Mt 13,25.
16. Based on a fable about a bird that donned bright feathers for a ceremony only to be unmasked and recognized for the plain bird that it really was. Critical Edition, 1083, n. 7.
17. Gn 2,17 Gn 3,1-6.
18. Mt 20,12.
19. 1R 12,6-11.
20. Jn 15,6.
21. Gn 4,4-15.
22. Lc 16,19-25.
23. Ex 32,21-29, referring to Moses.
24. NM 25,7-8, referring to Phineas.
25. Jos 7,23-26, referring to Joshua.
26. 2S 21,8-9, referring to David.
27. 1S 15,32-35, referring to Samuel.
28. Mt 3,11-12, referring to John the Baptist; Is 40,3 Ml 3,1.
29. Ac 5,10, referring to Peter.
30. 2Co 2,15-16, referring to Paul.
31. Mt 8,26.
32. Jon 2,10.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A Now to you, monastic brothers,
communities of disciples,
you who, bared-handed, have enlisted
as the Lord’s soldiers, in expectation
and hope of infinite good gifts,
for you I set this table with
my burnt sacrifice of words.
Accept this testament of confession
for the edification and salvation of your souls.
Know through it the frailty of the body.
Remember the warning words of the prophet
and the apostle: “No flesh should exult
before God.” And, “No one,
not a single person, is just.”1
Do not forget the word of the Lord:
“Even when you have done the things commanded,
admit, we are useless servants.”2
Do not permit yourselves to become the prey
of the Deceiver. Take heed from the scriptures.
“The chosen are also Devil’s food.”3
For even I, who nourish you with these meager fruits,
willingly blaming myself
with myriad accounts of all the incurable sins,
from our first forefather through the end
of his generations in all eternity,
I charge myself with all these, voluntarily,
taking the debt of all your wrongdoing upon me.4
B I heard an innocent person once speak
in a most unfitting manner to the One
before whom no earthly being can be justified,5
and it was not pleasing as he boasted,
“I have never committed adultery
or fornication or tasted any other mortal pleasures
of this world.” Saying this is no less impious
than those deeds. May God forgive him,
for even if what he said were true
by bragging he shows he has not progressed
as far as he has fallen.
Repeating Zechariah’s words to the people of Israel:
“Praise the Lord that we are great,”6
echoing the voice of the Pharisee who exalted himself.7
C But since I am condemned before the all-knowing God,8
who has placed the unseen passions of the mind
onto the scale of justice, and seeks to judge me
by these in the most just way, I shall not
pretend before the all-seeing,
deceive the one who scrutinizes everything,
lie to the one who counts faults when conceived, not
use trickery to favorably impress the Great One,
mask my unruly debauchery with the appearance of
a good person,
take on airs of self-discipline while being
dress in other’s costumes,
bask in other’s splendor,
put on finery to cover the ugliness of my body.
No one is so sinful as I,
so unruly, so impious,
so unjust, so evil,
so feeble, so misguided,
so foolish, so crafty,
so mired, so embarrassed, so blameworthy.
I alone, and no one else,
I in all, and all in me,
not the pagans, for they did not know,
not the Jews, for they were blind,
not the ignorant, for they were confused and
D I was dubbed, “Master,” which testifies against me.9
I was called, “Teacher, teacher,”
detracting from the praise of God.
I was said to be good because of my miserable plight.10
I was considered a saint by men,
though I am unclean before God.
I was proclaimed just, though by all accounts
I am ungodly.
I reveled in the praise of men,
thus becoming a mockery before the tribunal of Christ.
I was called, “Awake” at the baptismal font,11
but I slumber in the sleep of mortality.
On the day of salvation I was named “Vigilant,”
but I closed my eyes to vigilance.
So here are judgment and blame,
new reprimands and old sentences,
shame to my face and turmoil to my soul,
pleas about seemingly small things and very
E But you alone, Lord God, who loves mankind without
revenge and with forbearing,
on the day of the terrible last judgment
when my sinful soul is judged, take into account
these heart-rending words of self-reproach
and contrition that I myself have written instead
of waiting to hear them from you, God of compassion.
Now lift away and annul the instances of my unruliness
for I am bound to you with all of the desires of my soul.
Take away the reproaches of shame and scandal.12
Cover the ugly appearance of my naked body
with your mighty right hand. Lead me to your rest,
for I am worn by the burden of sin.13
Set me on the path of goodness toward you,
refuge and life. Remember me in mercy
even after death, O perfect life.14
Blessed in heaven and honored on earth,
praised always in all things forever and ever.
1. Jr 9,22, 1Co 1,29.
2. Lc 17,10.
3. Ha 1,16.
4. Rm 5,12.
5. Ps 143,2 (142):2.
6. Za 11,5.
7. Lc 18,11-12.
8. Mt 5,28.
9. Mt 23,7 Mt 23,8 Mt 23,10.
10. Mc 10,18.
11. A reference to St. Gregory’s baptismal name: Gregorios means “Awake” in Greek.
12. Ps 119,39 (Arm. 118):39.
13. Mt 11,28.
14. Lc 23,42.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A King on high, mighty and awesome,
blessed Lord Jesus Christ,
for someone like me who despairs of salvation
only you can change the curse of mortality
into the blessing of life.
Only you can turn the discouragement of blame
into joyous praise,
shame into resilience,
humility into honor,
banishment into the hope of goodness,
separation into the expectation of reunion,
menacing words into compassionate comfort,
final condemnation into a second chance
B Lord, have mercy on me, for I am condemned to death
on the day of my life-breath’s release,
while I implore on high with my eyes’ pitiful gaze
fixed the perils ahead on that unavoidable journey,
with danger on all sides in my terrified imagination.
And while gazing at my cell’s ceiling where I will start
my outward journey, wretched and half dead with
a twisted face, with shaking fingers, muffled sighs,
failing cries, a thin voice, my grieving soul
shaken by a panoply of
doubts, I shall lament from the bottom of
my invisible soul the sins I have committed.
You are able, compassionate God, to perform a miracle
with your everlasting might saying,
“Be healed of your soul’s torment,”1
or “May your sins be forgiven,”2
or “Go in peace. You are cleansed of sin.”3
And whatever I do not manage to say at that hour
receive from me today in your love for mankind,
O long-suffering, generous God, who gives life to all.
C When I, so eloquent now with my haughty voice
and strutting stiff-necked ways,
am laid out a lifeless cadaver, dispossessed
of speech, hands bound, limbs atrophied,
lips sealed, eyes shut, as still as
a board, a half-burnt log,
inert statue, speechless image, breathless being,
pitiful spectacle, deplorable sight,
lamentable form, miserable face,
tear-causing likeness, silenced tongue,
parched grass, petal-less flower,
run-down beauty, extinguished lamp,
deserted throat, devastated heart,
muted trumpet, dry well, wilted body,
festering womb, collapsed tent, broken branch,
separated joint, chopped tree, sawed off root,
abandoned house, harvested field, uprooted plant,
alienated friend, forgotten supplies,
buried filth, cast away trash,
brushed aside clutter, contemptible skeleton,
like some useless thing trodden under foot.
I am needy of the prayers of others,
which rise to you, compassionate doer of good,
with the dew of tears amplifying
the sighs of the faith-filled pleas
of my wretched voice.
Joining in my prayer, they chant
the responsive hymn to you, whom I praise,
the sign of your cross of salvation, which I worship,
the truth of your resurrection, which I believe,4
the revelation of your glory, which I praise,5
the sternness of your judgment, which I confess,
the reprimand of your words, which I fear,6
the guiding companionship of your Holy Spirit,
which I revere,
the anointing seal of the Lord at last unction,
which I embrace,
the reigning with you, Lord Jesus,
for which I pray.7
And though it was abandoned, rejected, cast away,
broken, though it fled, flew, gave way in the tumult of life,
your hope, which is a gift from you,
perseveres as a permanent and indelible reminder.
D Look with mercy upon me in my doubts and perils,
glorified Son of God, who alone are compassionate
and will pardon, heal, save, protect, renew, restore,
lift up, support,
and create me again in blissful purity.8
Yours is the power, yours is the salvation, and
yours the mercy.
Nothing is impossible for you.9
Yours is might, exaltation, dominion
and kingdom without end, true essence and selfhood,
all-encompassing absolute being,
goodness and light, glorified as Lord,
to which nothing can be added or taken away,
adored in the Holy Trinity with inexplicable mystery
and given thanks forever also in the Holy Trinity
in the same act of worship equally with the same honor,
yesterday, today and forever.10
1. Mc 5,34.
2. Mt 9,2, Lc 7,48.
3. Lc 7,50.
4. 1Th 4,14.
5. Tt 2,13.
6. Mt 7,23 Mt 25,41.
7. 2Tm 2,12.
8. Ps 51,10 (Arm. 50):10.
9. Lc 1,37, Gn 18,14.
10. He 13,8.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
A Heavenly king, Lord of all,
patient toward all in all things,
Son of the living God, beyond our understanding,
your true mercy is manifest when
the expectation of reward is cut off.
Your benevolence is displayed when the mind’s
vision is blocked.
Your love of mankind is expressed at the hour
when weakness lays siege from without and within.
The divine healing of your hand is manifest
when life departs completely from our bodies.1
You visit where there is no exit.
Your greatness is clear when you cure the
wound of despair.
Your genuine humanity shared with us is revealed
when at unexpected times you dispense salvation.
Your victory is obvious
when you open the closed door of life
at my last breath.
Your magnificent grace is there
when you forget my wrongs and
remember your goodness.
Your ungrudging generosity is manifest
when you include me in your care,
ingrate that I am, along with the grateful.
I know and recognize
that you look upon this offering of words with
your former compassion as you lift away my
B For hymns rise up and chants are sung
when the Lord in his kindness rewards the bad servant
When he grants rest in the royal palace to one
who should be imprisoned.3
When he seats on the tufts of the sumptuous throne
one who belongs in the dust bin.4
When he lifts toward the heights of happiness
the eyes of one expecting them gouged.5
When he places the ring of royalty on the hand
of him who expects his fingers cut off.
When he draws into his comforting embrace
one expecting lashes of a whip.
When in plain view of all he rescues
someone poised for destruction.
When he bestows glory as well as life
to him waiting for death’s devastation.
When he decorates with laurels
the head of one expecting beheading.
These are the blessed fruits of your magnificent vine,
compassionate Lord. This is the living harvest
of your creative commandments.
These are the yearning thoughts inspired by
fervor for you.
These are the rays of light of your
This is the pleasurable taste of your glorious sweetness.
C These are yours alone, Lord,
and by you was I moved to write them.
I pray, blessed Lord, for those gifts uniquely
yours to give,
Grant them, I pray you.
Open, Lord, the treasures of your good things,
according to the prayer of the Proverbs.6
Do not mix my wrongdoing in the storehouse of
your good things.
Do not store up vengeance and anger, which are
hateful to you, with compassion and mercy,
which you love.
Do not keep in your venerable creation the darkness and cruelty displeasing to you
or the sin and misery harmful to me.
Do not record with your blessed right hand
into the book of life
the mortgage of my damning debts.
Rather bring to pass the seemingly impossible,
exalt your name yet again, Lord, by showing
how simple and easy these are for you.7
D My debts are too numerous to count,
but not so marvelous as your mercy.
My sins are many,
but small compared to your forgiveness.
My transgressions are frequent,
but your love for mankind vanquishes them all, powerful and almighty,
The stains on my soul are too numerous for me to count,
but for you they are very limited.
The weapons of sin produced by a miserable wretch like
me are not so strong against life as the memory of your
death, living Lord, for fending off the Destroyer.
What effect can a small shadow have on the light of
your day, God?
How can the dusk withstand your radiance, great God?
How can my unruly frail body be placed on the scales
with the cross of your suffering?
How does the mass of all the sins of the universe appear
to your eye, Almighty, who made everything in
abundance? Are they not for you but a clump of earth
that easily crumbles or a drop of rain that splatters in all
directions and disappears at your command?
E How long would it take your omnipotent power to
pardon my transgressions?
Not even the batting of the eye,
not the fleeting side glance,
not the quick glaring flash,
not the slightest hesitation,
not the hurried footstep,
not the raindrop’s coursing a cubit,
not the grasp of a line by the mind,
not the speed of light,
not the taking of a breath.
None of these insubstantial, fleeting events or
ephemeral states is so short or instantaneous as
the disintegration, destruction and melting of the
glacier of my sins by your power God, Lord of all,
Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, beyond human understanding.
You grant the sun of sweetness to the evil as
well as the good, and make it rain upon both.8
You mete out fairly the vicissitudes of life.
Those who find contentment in the expectation
of rewards, you pay with the spurs of temptation
for their few sins.
And those who have chosen the worldly life,
you forgive with mercy
ministering your care to both alike,
awaiting their return to you.
To you glory, Almighty, for the miraculous work
of your patient loving care,
1. Mt 8,3.
2. Mt 18,27.
3. 2S 19,28.
4. Sg 10,13-14, Ps 113,7 (Arm. 112):7.
5. 1S 11,2.
6. Pr 8,21.
7. Mt 19,26.
8. Mt 5,45.
Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 68