Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 7

Prayer 7

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A So that I will not give up hope of salvation,
and, laying down my arms, surrender to so many
invisible attackers,
which are nothing other than the tribe of foes,
springing up, of their own, in the categories
just described,
in numbers and forms that are terrifying,
I shall show here as against these warriors,
the mightiest of godly champions,
most victorious and undefeated,
which at the same time are summoned by a
most painful grief,
like a difficult-to-swallow fruit of an unreachable tree,
or the toil and hardship of an untrodden path.

For a small teardrop from the eye
can cause an entire evil platoon of the Tempter’s
army to shrink away,
like the squirming of centipedes or earthworms,
drowning in a puddle of oil or a drop of
some lethal potion.
And the faint groan of a sighing heart,
rising from the soul,
is like a warm southerly breeze, mixed with sun,
that melts the fiercest blizzard,
for like storms, they are easily born and when
opposed, quickly die.

B But I shall never stop judging my condemned self with anguished words,
or reproaching myself for my sins,
like a wicked, irredeemable and incorrigible being.
For although I have slain some of my tormentors,
I helped others to live and lost my soul.
Like a plant with bitter branches,
I have blossomed with the odor of wrongful ways,
with corrupting and fatal fruit,
which I have made into the wine of destruction.
The offspring of Canaan and not Judah,
in the words of the great prophet Daniel.1
I am
the child of hell and not paradise,2
the heir of Hades, not of coveted glory,
the stuff of torment, not of rest,
ungrateful rather than grateful,
disgraceful rather than graced,
ever sinful rather than forbearing,
one who embitters the sweetness of your beneficence,
an evil and bad servant like the one who
was reprimanded by our Lord,3
one who, as the Prophet Isaiah said,
uses my learning for evil.4

I am
diligent in the baseness of corruption,
conscientious in angering the Lord,
ever active in satanic ventures,
a daily cause of grief to my Maker,
weak in my flight toward goodness,
lazy in the blessing of fidelity,
slow in observing my promises,
fainthearted in the necessary and useful,
an unfaithful and ungrateful servant.

C Woe to my sinful soul, for I have angered my creator.
Woe to this son of perdition,5
for I have forgotten the gift of life.
Woe to this debtor of untold thousands of talents,
for I haven't the means to repay.6
Woe to this porter heavy laden with vile sins,
for I cannot lay down my burden to rest.
Woe to this debtor of the Lord,
for I cannot face the Almighty.
Woe to this heap of dried up reeds,
for I am consumed in Gehenna.7
Woe to me as I remember that the arrows of the
wrath of God are fitted with flames.8
Woe for my stupidity, for I did not
recall that the hidden shall be revealed.9
Woe for my impiety, for I always and
ceaselessly wove the web of evil.
Woe to my well-fed body
which shall be food for the immortal worms,10
for how shall I endure their fierce venom?
Woe to me for having drunk of the cup of death,
for how shall I suffer eternity?
Woe to me for raising this unworthy soul from
this corrupt body,
for how shall I face my judge?
Woe to me for the lack of oil in my lamp,
for its darkness shall not be relit.

Woe to me for the sudden alarm of the fear of dismay
when the door of the marriage feast is closed.
And woe to me for the terror of the voice of these words,
trembling and quaking, before the pronouncement
of our heavenly king's judgment:
"I do not know you." 11

1. Da 13,56.
2. Mt 23,15.
3. Mt 25,26.
4. Is 5,18-21.
5. Jn 17,12.
6. Mt 18,23-34.
7. Is 5,24.
8. Ps 7,14.
9. Mt 10,26.
10. Is 66,24 Mc 9,48.
11. Mt 25,1-12.

Prayer 8

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A And now, what will you do, my lost soul?
Where will you hide?
How will you live?
And how can you escape the prison of your sin?
Your transgressions are many and your
punishments countless.
The scoldings severe and the harsh words endless.
Even the angels have lost patience and the
judge cannot be bribed.1
The court is mighty and the tribunal just.
The vengeance is terrible and the retribution, merciless.
The sentence terrifying and the condemnation, direct.
The rivers fiery and the streams impassable.
The darkness is thick and the fog impenetrable.
The pit is vile and the torment eternal.2
Hell is all-encompassing and the blizzard unrelenting.
Now, indeed you have piled up all these bitter things,
a depraved and terrible cell of unbearable punishment,
O my worthless sinful soul, evildoer, prostitute,
soiled, a refuse dump of filth.

Here then are the wages of your handiwork: 3
You have turned from the straight path and
strayed from holiness.
You have been outcast from the ranks of the
righteous and honest.
You lack spiritual gifts and riches of our
most jealous benefactor and almighty king.

B You have ensnared yourself in an inescapable prison,
by confessing that your wounds are incurable
and your punishment unequaled and
testifying that your soul is condemned to
death and incurably broken.
You are
evil among the good,
bitter among the sweet,
dark among the light,
bruised among the adorned,
rejected among the praised,
impious among the pious,
brute among the thoughtful,
stupid among the intelligent,
foolish among the wise,
unclean among the elect,
dead among the living,
filthy among the saints,
drunken among the sober,
deceptive among the just,
useless among the useful,
dishonored among the glorious,
deficient among the abundant,
underling among the superiors,
most lowly among the sublime,
poor among the wealthy,
unworthy among the saved,
homeless among the rich in spirit,
cast away among the blessed.

1. Is 5,23.
2. Ps 55,24 (54):24.
3. Is 3,10-11.

Prayer 9

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A And now, O wretched soul of mine,
what appropriately revolting words shall
I use to describe you
in this book of woes, my testament of prayers?
You who are so completely discredited that
I am at a loss for words to answer,
unworthy to communicate with God and the saints.
If I were to fill the basin of the sea with ink,
and to measure out parchment the length and
breadth of a field of many leagues
and were to take all the reeds of the forests and
woods and turn them into pens,
I still would not be able to record even a fraction of my accumulated wrong doings.
If I were to set the Cedars of Lebanon as a scale
and to put Mount Ararat on one side and my
iniquities on the other,
it would not come close to balancing.

B I am like a tree, towering with branches,
covered with leaves, but barren of fruit,
a true member of the same species as that fig tree that the Lord struck dry.1
For although covered with lush flowing hair, that is,
with an attractive exterior,
as if adorned with a halo,
mesmerizing like a drumbeat at a distance,
if the sower were to come close to pick the harvest,
he would find me devoid of any goods
and revolting without beauty,
an object of ridicule for viewers and a spectacle
for the malicious.

For the bushy plant without fruit and spirit is
but a metaphor for the hapless, unprepared soul
cursed at an unvigilant moment.
If the earth, moistened with dew,
cultivated by the farmer,
does not produce crops to multiply this effort,
it is abandoned and forgotten.2
Then, you, my miserable soul,
a thinking, breathing plant
that has not given timely fruit,
shall you not suffer the same fate as those in the parable?
For you have indulged with unsparing excess
in the harvest of all the human evils
from Adam till the end of the species, and even found some new ones,
despised and repugnant to your creator, God.

C And I have fixed my mind's eye upon you,
O worthless soul of mine,
sculpting a monument in words.
I cast stones at you mercilessly like some
untamed wild beast.
For although I may never chance to be called just,
still following the counsel of the wise,3
as my first rebuttal, I criticize myself of my own free will,
as if criticizing some bitter enemy,
and having confessed the angst of the
secrets of my mind, that is, the accumulated burden
of my evil deeds,
I spread them before you, my God and Lord.
With what measure I mete out reprimand to my soul,4
let your undiminishing compassion be measured for me,
that I might receive your abundant grace
many times greater than the magnitude of my sins,
though my wounds and injuries overpower me,
incurable and inescapable,
yet the genius of your curative art, exalted and
honored Physician, shines twice as brightly.
The increase of my sins is more than matched by
your generosity, my benefactor.
Blessed Lord, may you always be wreathed
in incense as in your parable.5

D For yours is salvation,
and from you is redemption,
and by your right hand is restoration,
and your finger is fortification.
Your command is justification.
Your mercy is liberation.
Your countenance is illumination.
Your face is exultation.
Your spirit is benefaction.
Your anointing oil is consolation.
A dew drop of your grace is exhilaration.
You give comfort.
You make us forget despair.
You lift away the gloom of grief.
You change the sighs of our heart into laughter.
To you is fitting blessing with praise
in heaven and on earth
from our forefathers and unto all their generations
forever and ever.

1. Mc 11,12-14 Mc 11,20-21 Mt 21,18-20.
2. .
3. Pr 28,13.
4. Mt 7,2, Lc 6,38
5. Lc 7,42.

Prayer 10

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Both unruly sin and deep regret
plunge us into damnation, being
essentially similar even though from different sources.
But when compared they share the same character flaws:
one doubts the strength of the Almighty’s
hand like a cowardly skeptic,1
while the other, like a wild beast,
brutally cuts the thread of hope.2
Satan, flattered by the first,
constantly rejoices; while the second
provides fresh blood for the hounds of hell to lap up.

B I catch my breath like one bludgeoned with a thick club,
until he reaches death’s shores. I catch
my breath, mustering whatever life remains
hoping that my soul will be rehabilitated, protected,
restored, and resurrected from mortal perdition
with the help of Christ’s hand,
Christ who is merciful in all things.
And with help from our heavenly Father,
who has granted salvation and healing
to a failing sinner near death,
I begin this book of prayers with supplications.
I will build an edifice of faith,
as one of our faith-filled forefathers did
when he was instantly transported to heaven
through the balm of repentance,3
thus bequeathing us the promise of immortality on earth,
perhaps more so than the Apostle writing about those
who, enduring their trials on earth,
put their faith in heaven and the hope of things to come,
and were filled with the abundance of the unseen.4

C For even he who has committed mortal sin,
even he, recaptured in the evil spirit’s prison
and cast down into the abyss of evil,
even he still can grasp the slender hope of salvation.
Even he has hope of escape through redemption,
like the remorseful sinner miraculously reclaimed
through the raindrops of his eyes
caused by the compassion of the Almighty,
the Almighty who again made the earth flourish,
as a gift from the Spirit of God.
Let us remember also the healing and encouraging words of our Lord,
“With faith, anything is possible.” 5
First and foremost let us consider this the measure
of what is good and favored in the eyes of God;
for the way to the holy of holies is through faith.
Without faith, the Lord of glory did not, will not
show his miraculous power to us, asking first
that his good work be met by our faith.
For this reason he who is with God
is, of his own, capable of receiving life,
for the blessed mouth of God has promised,
“Your faith shall save you.” 6

D Faith, that happy and favored word,
which lasts forever untarnished and unbounded,
honored together with charity and hope 7
brings the rewards of truly clear vision, perfect wisdom,
acquaintance with God and familiarity with the Exalted.

For if the faith of a mustard seed 8
can cast a great mountain
into the depths of the sea, then truly
we should accept it as the first step
toward eternal life.
Faith, this simple and clear form of worship,
means setting aside doubt to see the future and hidden
with the eye of the soul.

Faith is honored in a glorious trinity
with charity and hope. For if you view
these three as distinct aspects
of one and the same mystery,
you shall forever be magnified in God.
And if you believe, you shall love
and through love have hope in his unseen rewards.
Glory to him forever.

1. 2S 15,12.
2. Ac 8,9-24.
3. Gn 5,24 (Enoch), He 11,5.
4. He 11,1.
5. Mc 9,23.
6. Mt 9,22, Lc 7,50 Lc 8,48.
7. 1Co 13,13.
8. Lc 17,6, Mc 11,23.

Prayer 11

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A And now, I, the most laggard of believers,
devoid of goodness, contemplate with my mind’s eye
all creation out of nothing by the hand of our maker.
And with hope, my faith grows
that Jesus Christ can do anything he wills,
as Paul advised1 and David taught.2
As I believe, so have I spoken.
May their prayers take life in me
so that through faith I might know him and the power
of his resurrection. And that I may,
in the words of the Apostle, share in
his torment3 and the glory that followed.
For true faith attends and resembles
the transformation of renewal,
from sin to atonement,
from wrongdoing to righteousness,
from uncleanness to holiness,
from unforgivable mortal transgressions
to blameless bliss,
from earthly bondage to heavenly freedom.

B For what is more wondrous
than the sinner laughing for all to see,
yet secretly weeping, when his heart
with the help of God is purged
of the thick darkness of doubt?
And though cast from the highest summit
into the pit of the perdition,
and weighed down by unforgivable sins,
never before conceived,
he grabs the life-giving wafer of salvation,
clinging as to the last glimmer of light
preserved in mind and soul.4
Or like the amazingly intense fire, kindled
at the bottom of the sleeping well,
by the Almighty’s command, the sinner,
consumed with grief,
all expectation of goodness abandoned,
all assurance of grace lost,
can but hope to regain
the blessed innocence of the new-born.
This spark of hope, which God keeps alive
for broken, contrite hearts,5
souls laid low, whose offerings are
sweeter to God than the finest of incense,6
for they proclaim the good tidings
of the Giver’s almighty power.
It was for this reason the Savior asks
the blind, “Do you believe I can do this
for you?” 7 thus obtaining a token of faith
before restoring light to their eyes.
And what hope of revival seems more remote,
than for a corpse four days dead?8
Yet, armed with faith the women of his family,
fell at the feet of the creator, and they saw
the manifestation of God’s glory when their
brother was resurrected.

C And there is proof that even after sin
the grace of God persists: First there is
the case of Enoch,9 then Aaron,10
then David11 and next Peter.12 And Eliezer,13
the younger, upon whom God took great pity
that he might be an example to his elders.
And it is unnecessary to add the example of
the Prodigal Son,14
the prostitute praised by the Lord,15
the tax collector remembered for his good deed,16
the lucky thief, who, with his last breath,
earned a halo through faith.17
Or even those whose sins cannot be atoned for,
such as those who took part in killing our creator,18
or Paul, foremost of the chosen,
who was formerly the chief of the unjust.19
And there are others who stumbled,
even knowing the law,
but then raised themselves up ten thousand times higher
than those who lived under the law. And what of him
who, before the law was given,20
honored the traditions of his fathers,
remaining more faithful to the commandment of
his forefather
and taking the guilt of man’s original sin upon himself,
paid for it with the torment of mortal passions,
atoned for it, not by burial in earth,
but through the torments of the body,
was transfigured, miraculously triumphing
over death’s grip to become the herald
of the possibility of eternal life for us mortals.21

D And consider those who chose a dissolute life
from a tender age and in the fullness of time
did not tumble from their high stations but rather
were raised from their squalid lives
into the vault of heaven.
In times past the wayward
changed their ways by their own efforts,
turning earthen vessels into gold and
etching a princely image of our heavenly model
in majestic, imperishable and irreplaceable relief.
Triumphing over the betrayals toward which
our nature inclines us, they give us more cause for hope,
especially now that the Light has been revealed.
Its veil lifted, its curtain drawn,
by the promise of our Lord Christ
by whom the divine word is fixed firmly
in us, and who is according to the voice
of the prophet,22 “The covenant of peace and
the seal of constancy,”
the mediator of our reconciliation,
our heavenly advocate, immortal, living and eternal.
And therefore by this most true law,
and the immutable terms set by the creator,
I kiss the image of the Word with lips of faith
and await the glory of grace,
For verily, in the words of the Apostle,
“If God absolves us, no one retains
the power to condemn.” 23

E And taking refuge in this unclouded assurance,
I who was broken, am restored,
who was wretched, am triumphant,
who was dissipated, am healed,
who was desperately outlawed, find hope,
who was condemned to death, find life,
who was mortgaged by damnable deeds, find the light,
who was debauched by animal pleasures, find heaven,
who was twice caught in scandal, again find salvation,
who was bound by sin, find the promise of rest,
who was shaken by incurable wounds,
find the salve of immortality,
who was wildly rebellious, find the reins of tranquility,
who was a renegade, find calling,
who was brazenly self-willed, find humility,
who was quarrelsome, find forgiveness.

Therefore, to Jesus Christ
and his almighty and awe-inspiring Father,
to the name and the will of
the beneficence of the true Holy Spirit,
the blessed essence and one Godhead,
all power and dominion, majesty and glory

1. 2Co 45,13.
2. Ps 114.
3. Ph 3,10-11.
4. 2M 1,19-20.
5. Ps 51,17.
6. Ex 30,7-8 Ex 30,25-26.
7. Mt 9,28.
8. Jn 11,39 Jn 11,43-44.
9. Gn 5,24, He 11,5, Si 44,15.
10. Ex 32,1-6.
11. 2S 12,1-16.
12. Mt 26,75.
13. Ex 18,4 (Moses’ youngest son).
14. Lc 15,11-32.
15. Lc 7,36-50.
16. Lc 18,9-14.
17. Lc 23,39-43.
18. Lc 23,43.
19. Ac 8,1.
20. Abraham
21. Enoch
22. Is 54,10.
23. Rm 8,33-34.

Prayer 12

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Although I have let myself fall
into seemingly eternal despair,
beating myself with the rod of doubt,
let me now dare with the slightest hope
to call upon the Holy Trinity to help me, a sinner.
For upon blessing and acknowledging
the life-giving God of all, and calling out to him
as to a family member,
it becomes possible for the benefactor
who grants all grace, to grant life
to me, a mortal, as the Prophet foretold,
“Whoever calls out the name of the Lord shall live.”1

B Not only do I call, but I believe in the Lord’s greatness.
I pray not only for his rewards but also for himself,
the essence of life, guarantor of giving and
taking of breath
without whom there is no movement, no progress,
to whom I am tied not so much by the knot of hope
as by the bonds of love.
I long not so much for the gifts
as for the giver.
I yearn not so much for the glory
as the glorified.
I burn not so much with the desire for life
as in memory of the giver of life.
I sigh not so much with the rapture of splendor
as with the heartfelt fervor for its maker.
I seek not so much for rest
as for the face of our comforter.
I pine not so much for the bridal feast
as for the distress of the groom,
through whose strength I wait with certain
expectation believing with unwavering hope
that in spite of the weight of my transgressions
I shall be saved by the Lord’s mighty hand and
that I will not only receive remission of sins
but that I will see the Lord himself
in his mercy and compassion
and receive the legacy of heaven
although I richly deserve to be disowned.

C Now for my many humiliations
my head bowed in shame
my lips locked with embarrassment
my tongue not daring to move
I resort again to intoning supplications,
mournful sobs and cries, offered on high.

Accept with sweetness almighty Lord my bitter prayers.
Look with pity upon my mournful face.
Dispel, all-bestowing God, my shameful sadness.
Lift, merciful God, my unbearable burden.
Cast off, potent God, my mortal habits.
Spoil, triumphant God, my wayward pleasures.
Dissipate, exalted God, my wanton fog.
Block, life-giving God, my destructive ways.
Undo, secret-seeing God, my evil entrapments.
Fend off, inscrutable God, my assailants.
Inscribe your name on the skylight of my abode.
Cover the roof of my temple with your hand.
Mark the threshold of my cell with your blood.
Imprint the outside of my door with your sign.
Protect the mat where I rest with your right hand.
Keep my cot pure from all seductions.
Preserve my suffering soul by your will.
Steady the breath of life you have given my flesh.
Surround me with your heavenly host.
Post them on watch against the battalion of demons.

D Grant blissful rest
like the slumber of death
in the depth of this night
through the intercession of the Holy Mother of
God and the elect.
Firmly close the windows of sight,
sentient faculty of the mind,
with impregnable fortifications
against the waves of anxiety,
the cares of daily life,
nightmares, frenzy, hallucinations,
and protected by the memory of your hope
to wake again from the heaviness of sleep
into alert wakefulness and
soul-renewing cheerfulness
to stand before you
raising my prayerful voice
in harmony with the heavenly choirs of praise
with the fragrance of faith,
to you in heaven, all blessed king,
whose glory is beyond telling.
For you are glorified by all creation
forever and ever.

1. Jl 2,32, Rm 10,13.

Prayer 13

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Beneficent, almighty, awe-inspiring God,
good Father, charitable donor of mercy,
whose very name heralds the good news of
your grandeur, compassion and fatherly affection,
you are gentle even toward the bitter and discontented.

With you also is your Son, who is like you,
whose hand is strong like yours,
whose awesome reign is eternal like yours,
whose exaltation is shared with you in your creation.

So too the Holy Spirit of your truth,
that flows from you without end,
the perfect essence of existence
and eternal being, is equal to you
in all things, reigning with the Son
in equal glory.
Three persons, one mystery,
separate faces, unique and distinct,
made one by their congruence
and being of the same holy substance and nature,
unconfused and undivided,
one in will and one in action.
One is not greater, one is not lesser,
not even by an eyelash, and because
of the unobscurable light of heavenly love
revealed in our midst both have been
glorified with a single crown of holiness
from before the ages.

B For verily, as Peter’s open profession of
faith in the Trinity earned for him
the blessed name, Rock, so
in expectation of your clemency,
do I, a sinner condemned, await exoneration,
O deliverer of captives.
And though all rewards may be yours,
so too is all mercy,
but you are not so acclaimed for rewards as for mercy,
for while the first brings glory, the second merely
recognizes the effort of labor,
since rewards are compensation for merit,
but mercy is an act of generosity toward the unworthy.

C And now, God of compassion, may human deeds
not prevail over your grace, even if they transgress
the laws of nature, but rather may your forbearance
triumph so that your ways may never be less
than those of mortals.
For when your light came to herald the new covenant,
those, like the Jews who prided themselves
in keeping the law, were abandoned to greater heartache
and became more needy of your charity,
than those wretched persons,
forever lost in the wilderness.
Since everything is possible for you, O benevolent God,
hear my sighs of supplication to you.
Have mercy, save us, and be generous.
For yours is forbearance, gentleness, salvation,
atonement and glory for all time, to all peoples.

Prayer 14

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A I pray to you, ray of light,
heavenly king, praised beyond telling,
Son of God, majestic beyond words,
incline your ear once again,
exalted compassion, refuge of life,
toward the feeble sobs of this
wounded soul.

B Nowhere is it shown,
nowhere can we read that the traveler
all but slain by the swords of bandits,1
cried out to you in his distress,
for he had grown stiff from his wounds.
Nor did he utter a single plea
for he was struck dumb.
Nor did he point out his serious plight
with trembling fingers, O Seer, for
he was shattered. Nor did he fix eyes
filled with tears upon you, doer of good,
for he was ashamed. Nor did he try to
gain your favor through messengers
for he was disconsolate.
Nor did he try to rend your heart,
compassionate one, by showing
his blood soaked clothes and beaten body,
for he had lost hope. Nor did he crawl
upon his knees, since he could not stand and walk
for his dead half said to the living half,
death is at hand.
All the more since, after receiving your counsel,
benefiting from your forbearance and
basking in the radiance of your glory,
he nevertheless did not forswear his wicked ways
but in stiff-necked revolt,
joined the ranks of your enemies
allying himself with those who hate you.2

C But you, generous, kind, unspiteful, giver of life,
not only did you not record his sins
but you did not even scold him,
you did not kick him, but rather approached
him in sympathy and treated him with care.
Unlike the priest’s custom in Aaron’s
weak law, hurling aspersions and fistfuls of stones
to speed death,3 you were in no rush
to crush a wounded man.
And unlike the Levite, our early predecessor,
who was the end of the old and the start of the new,
caught between the two, in soulless limbo,
you saw the plight
of the wounded man and did not aim
the deadly axe at the root of life,4
frightening him to death at what is to come
by appearing as the minister of death.
But rather like the Assyrian pagans
known as the promise keepers,5 who received
the law from the Jews
and kept it in tact, even when Jews
had forgotten it, you donned
the mortal cloak of our body to proclaim your
good tidings of deliverance to all peoples.
And by the work of your incorruptible divinity,
you extended your hand to raise
the man condemned to death by his mortal sins,
raising him along with all his generations.6

You brought joy to the gloomy heart.
You steadied the fainting soul.
You restored happiness to the despondent spirit.
You filled his emptiness with the anointing
of the life-giving baptismal font
and the cup of light.
You renewed him through regenerative,
heavenly bread, your body.
Through the watchful company of the happy
elect, you cared, cured, and comforted him.
With a mare’s gentle gait you transported him7
unharmed until his deliverance to the abode of light.
You cured him through two
intercessors, the life-giving testaments,
old and new, given out of your love
for humanity. And as it was once with Moses,
like an eagle with outspread wings, you snatched8
him midair and deposited him in calm safety,
in the land of happiness, ordering
his doctors to nurture him with
the sustenance of your word.

D And now, you who have miraculously endowed
all things with the supreme light of your goodness,
gathering as your own, the scattered treasures
and re-establishing your inheritance,
redeem me also, wiping out the debt of my sins.
You, who minister without charge to the unworthy,
grant me also atonement and healing,
O compassionate, mighty, inscrutable, incorruptible
and awesome, eternally blessed one,
unto the ages of ages.

1. Lc 10,30-35.
2. Lc 10,30, Is 2,3.
3. 2Co 3,7 2Co 3,9.
4. Mt 3,10-11.
5. 1R 16,24.
6. Rm 5,15-18.
7. Gn 33,14.
8. Dt 32,11.

Prayer 15

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Now again with the same sighs
from my distressed heart
pouring out the same wordy strains,
I seek your mercy, bestower of all gifts,
and with my soul immersed in torment 1
like the dead, I pray to you
living, immortal God, confessing
before your honor, my disgrace,
before your goodness, my evil.
I am more devastated than cured,
more embarrassed than emboldened,
having broken my vows and forsaken
the trust reposed in me.

I am like the pathetic sheep in the second parable,2
which strayed into inaccessible hills
and wandered in a daze among beastly demons3
and fierce idols, without the slightest chance of
returning to the fold. Although my tongue was lost
for words to tell my anguish, and my hands
lacked the agility to communicate like the mute,
still you found me, you who alone
are praised from beginning to end
throughout the generations.

You found me, a sinner, lost in darkness
crying like the psalmist in prayer,4
and because of your willing care
you were called Shepherd, for not only
did you care, but you sought,5
not only did you find, O worker of miracles,
but with the goodness of your love,
a love that defies description,
you rescued me,
lifting me upon your shoulders,
to set down alongside your heavenly army,
the heirs to your fatherly legacy.

B And now, mighty savior,
blessed visitor, compassionate comforter,
you, who heard the unspoken supplication
of one suffering in silence at death’s door,
and of another who wandered into
the wilderness, helpless, lost,
unable to speak, bleating inarticulately,
you, who in your divine providence that
graces the universe,
cared for those lost or in peril, now
show again your compassion and the bounty
of your kindness to me whose iniquity
exceeds everything told above,
whose mortal sins come in all varieties,
whose flavor is that of evil among the
sweet taste of goodness,
whose body deserves to be broken to the last bone,
whose wounded soul is infected with
all manner of vile ills,
whose stupor is on a level with the speechless beasts,6
whose alienation has removed him from intelligent life,
whose nature no longer resembles that of his species.
If there were an example, I would cite it.
If there were others like me, I would describe them.
If there were a category, I would name it.
If there were my equal, I would note it.
If there were a parallel, I would mark it.
If there were a model, I would show it.
If there were a precedent, I would use it.
If there were a present example, I could take heart.
But since mine surpasses all measure
and defies all categories, you are my only hope of
atonement, healing and salvation,
redeemer of all mortals, renewer of the universe.

C For if in the view of blessed David’s pure heart,
his lawlessness was piled over his head,
his transgressions outweighed the heaviest
burdens, then my wrongs are even greater than
all the waters of seas in torrential flood,
inundating and submerging the mountains.
Release but a breath of your kindness7
as in Noah’s day, a breath that can melt mountains,
and the stormy flood of my billowing misdeeds
will evaporate along with
my earth-shattering transgressions
and my mountain-high sins.

D Now with your sharp and mighty word
and the unbounded discretion of your swift judgment,
give me a way to redeem myself, even as the Prophet
promised, even in my advanced stage of lawlessness.8
And forgiving my stubborn defiance,
O long-suffering, merciful, blessed one,
be truly generous and forgive me all at once,
wiping out my unrepayable debts
and the crushing interest which has accrued,
for you have no wrath in your heart, nor vexation,
nor deceit, nor traces of darkness,
for you wish only life and light.
And as David and Solomon attest,9
you did not make death or take
joy in human misery.

E In your just laws, you set as a key rule
that one wrong should not be returned for another,10
but that we should forgive seventy times seven11
the sins committed against us each and every day.
You addressed this to us, wicked by nature,
the germs of sin sprouting in tens of thousands
upon the fertile field of our thorny natures.
As you so rightly witnessed, “The human mind
from childhood is inclined toward evil.”12
Even John, the Evangelist of your word of life,
who was exceedingly pure, nevertheless
shared our common nature and said frankly
in contrast to my roundabout manner of speech,
“If we say that we have no sin, we make him a liar.”13

And now, your prophetic word is fulfilled
and borne out beyond question by my iniquities.
So deliver me with your mercy,
O fount of lovingkindness,
who alone are blessed through all eternity.

1. 1Tm 5,6.
2. Lc 15,4-7.
3. Ps 48,15.
4. .
5. Jn 10,11
6. Ps 48,13.
7. 1R 19,11.
8. Is 5,18.
9. Ps 29,6, Sg 1,13.
10. Rm 12,17.
11. Mt 18,22.
12. Gn 8,21.
13. 1Jn 1,10.

Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 7