Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 78

Prayer 78

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A And now, fallen down upon my face with my
earthly nature, humbly on my knees in worship,
I kiss the life-giving feet of your mercifulness,
doer of good.1
Offering this to your majesty,
I pray you, my sole keeper, who loves mankind,
compassionate, giver of life, mighty God, who rescues and protects us.

May your suffering for our salvation not be in vain,
God, who became man for my sake.
May the sweat mixed with blood on the night of your
betrayal not be without purpose.2
May the gifts of your light not be eclipsed, gifts
that you have given freely and without compensation to
a wretch like me.
May the good news of your grace renewed by the blood
drops from your side not be erased.3
May the fruit of your suffering, offered for my neediness,
not be senseless.
May the banished Deceiver not dare
to possess me, whom you have made.

B Indeed, you vanquish the desires of the Evil One
by your will.
You confound anew the one whom you once cast out
and again defeat completely the one condemned.4
Do not hold back your words of salvation,
which being offered to you
return your own creatures to you.

You have done good works beyond telling
at the unexpected moment of despair,
when all movement of life had ceased and disappeared,
you who are immortal died and brought the dead
back to life.5
If you changed the Old Testament rule of
“an eye for an eye,” 6 do not now block the easier,
more flexible and yet more
feasible rule,
O source of mercy, compassionate, blessed and
forbearing King.
Say the word, by which with almighty force,
you brought light into existence on the first day,7
and I will immediately be made well.8
And though I have failed to follow your light,
may you visit me anyway in the form of your Father’s
radiant dawn,9 and may I, an unworthy servant, be su
moned before you for your mercy and grace.
The time has run out for paying my debts,
so turn your face toward me, when I am in pain,
you who lighten the darkness for the disheartened.10

Block and seal the escape routes
through which your good things drain away
from my memory.
Preserve in me the grace of your permanently
sparkling treasure by which I might be found worthy
to be called yours
and be protected by your boundless goodness.

C Have mercy upon me, compassionate Lord, I pray you.
Have mercy upon me, almighty Lord, again have mercy.
Do not repay my wrongdoing with pain, O Lord who is good in all ways.
Do not take from me the grace you have given.
Do not snatch away the breath of the all-blessed
Holy Spirit.
Do not erase the venerable stamp of your majestic image.
Do not raise the thorns of sin in the purity of my mind.11
Do not cut the tie that binds me to you with
steadfast love.
Do not deprive me of the powerful art of speech.
Do not weaken the ability of my right hand
to distribute the parcels of your light.12
Do not enter my death sentence in your book of life.13
Do not record my sins and assess them to me.
Do not recollect them and do not embarrass
me with them.
Do not blame me and do not trample me.
Do not register my infirmity.
Do not gather my destructive acts.
Do not accuse me like some criminal.
Do not let the tree of damnation grow within me.
Do not unleash in me the branches of destruction.
Do not let the buds of my sins blossom.
Do not demand payment on my debt note.
Do not permit these sins to mature into evil fruits.
Do not count my prolific misdeeds on the tree branches,
the fingers of the earth you created.
Do not pronounce your awesome word to confront me with my iniquity.14
Do not permit my willfulness to betray my soul
into slavery.
Do not honor me here, only to condemn me in
the hereafter.
Do not let the lesser, passing things of this world
diminish my eternal good.
Do not measure the endless glory to come by the meager intervals of the here and now.
Do not pawn the incorruptible life for the valley
of sighing grief.
Do not exchange your light beyond words for the
shadows of the darkness here.
Do not drop the reins of my soul to follow my
wayward tracks.
Do not deem the bridge of my passing life as sufficient repose for me.
Do not keep the well of my mind in the shadows
only to be cleared when it is too late in the
life to come.
If you were to add all of my innumerable misdeeds,
I would be the living dead.
If you were to take this all to heart,
I would be spontaneously consumed in flameless fire.
If you were to examine my iniquities,
I would completely melt away, without even coming before you.
If you were to allow the sprouts of sin to grow with me,
I would be choked off by them and waste away.

D Always powerful, almighty God,
glance my way, so that
the sins within me might be set to flight,
so that your goodness might come in their stead.

O compassionate God, praiseworthy provider,
inextinguishable light, with unbounded power,
command that the essence of my nature be
established anew under the roof of my body
and its parts, in order
that you might dwell here with happy fervor,
and stay without ever leaving,
uniting my soul with you and
banishing completely the corruption of sin,
immortal king, Lord Jesus Christ, who gives life to all,
blessed forever.

1. Lc 7,38.
2. Lc 22,44.
3. Jn 19,34.
4. Ap 20,10.
5. Lc 7,14, Mc 5,41, Jn 11,43.
6. Mt 5,38-43.
7. Gn 1,3.
8. Mt 8,2.
9. He 1,3.
10. Jn 1,5.
11. Is 5,6 1M 4,36.
12. The Eucharist, or perhaps his writings.
13. Ap 20,12.
14. Mt 25,41-45.

Prayer 79

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Remember, Lord, Lord of mercies,
who loves justice, true God,
to look again upon me in my ever erring
human condition.
Check again the circulation of my blood
throughout my body.
Like a physician examine me,
for I am a man possessed of an unripe mind filled
with faulty thoughts
as you yourself know, seer of the non-existent,1 for you
alone are devoid of the darkness of falsehood.
This is why it is more proper to record me
among sinners,
I who repeatedly succumb to the weaknesses of
human frailty
like all other mortals born of the flesh on earth,
otherwise your word might appear false.2
For you indeed know that
“they were made evil and their wickedness is innate,
and their way of thinking will never change,” 3
as the learned man, wise in the ways of the soul,
observed long ago in his writings.

B Ease the severity of the torment
that awaits me and
those children of hell, the ornaments of eternal death.4
Lift away my shameful sins
that are kept to reprimand me, wretch that I am,
at the tribunal of the last judgment.

Let it be for my peace that my punishment has already been given by your mercy,5
so that unbearable terror does not loom before me
and hopelessness might not overwhelm
life-giving contrition.

Terrifying day of judgment,
judge that cannot be bought or deceived,
awful shame, fearsome rebuke,
inescapable reprimand, unavoidable torment,
terror that cannot be comforted,
trembling that cannot be stilled,
inconsolable weeping, incurable gnashing of teeth,6
untreatable disease,
the curse of your awesome divine word,7
the shutting down of compassion, cutting off of mercy.
At the time when the heavens will be rolled up
like a scroll8
and the earth will be shaken to its very foundations,
and billowing waves of the tempestuous sea,
pursue each other, crash against each other and
counteract each other’s force,
jolting and shaking
the foundations of the earth’s thick surface
across its expanse
with forceful blows to its very core
and with thunderous sound,
laying the mountains low,
and melting the substance of stone with fire,
with all the other elements of nature at that time:

then the heavens will be cleared in purity
and the creatures together with all their elements
will be recreated in new form
and our hidden misdeeds will be made known9
and our invisible passions will be revealed
the conduct of each person’s inner beliefs
will be displayed on our bodies10
and the king of heaven will sit at his tribunal
with the due sentence in his hands.11

C Woe to me, sevenfold woe!
An endless perdition in the measure of this cipher, seven,
that symbolizes the infinity of numbers.12
What shall my pitiful soul do on the solemn day of peril?
For the thought of what lies ahead is worse than the event itself.
As one of the prophets vividly wrote,
it is as if one were to escape from the clutches of a lion,
only to run into a bear,
and fleeing the bear,
you enter a house and lean against the wall,
only to have a hand bitten by a snake.13
And he makes the situation yet more terrifying,
saying, “Indeed, the Day of the Lord is darkness” 14
“That Day is gloom and darkness, a day of clouds and thick fog.” 15

D When the guardian angel who is our companion
for life,16
accuses us like a stern official
and the awesome judge justly reprimands us,
the king’s servants rush about without delay,
inviting some to life and condemning others to shame,
showing to some a cheerful face,
but to me appearing fearsome and horrifying.
To some they shall offer a halo of glistening light,
and others mortal perdition.
To the just, the voice of good news,
but to me, the sad news of endless grief.
When for the good, the victory of death itself expires,17
for me, wayward soul, it is repeatedly extended.
At that point knocking at the door will do no good,
for my quota of mercy will have run out.18

There, when the amazing and miraculous book is
opened, showing all manner of hitherto hidden
acts done by mankind and
the conduct of our human nature,
for which reason all beings were created,
then upon each body all this shall be manifest in full,19
so that before our eyes shall ineffably appear,20
that which is sealed away from the comprehension of this world.
Here, heaven can be found at the cost of lamentations and tears,
there, these are despised and rejected like so much untimely vanity.
The sighs of the heart that are not delivered now
will not be accepted later.
Kindness sparingly sown21
shall not light the way before us.
There, the loud-voiced accusers shall be
the ark against the lawless of the time of Noah,
and the Old Testament against those who
blasphemed the Lord, along with the awe-inspiring sign
of the cross against us now.
I will be accused
first for breaking the natural law of our earliest forbears,
second for dishonoring the tabernacle of worship to the invisible spirit, and
third for the blood of great God.
And I also accuse myself.
How shall I be consoled when my hope is cut short?
For if the forces of light, the ranks of the just,
who are glorified in benedictions, tremble in fear,
and cannot bear the terrifying face of the great judge,
how shall I come before him, miserable wretch that I am,
a disinherited son condemned to death,
who does not expect a halo
but unbearable punishment
and endless ruin?

E Hasten to extend your hand of salvation to me, for I am captured by the Destroyer,
Lord almighty beyond words, who gives all things.
For with your help, I might turn back from the
gates of hell, and properly armed, I might escape
punishment completely without harm,
seeing with my mind’s eye the things to come,
I am already sufficiently chastened
by the terrifying reports of awful tortures that await me.
By your good will, I might be saved unscathed,
and not thrown to the young lions,
who beg for me as food,
so they can devour me with their ferocious teeth
and fill their womb of death with me.
They, who have grown fat in this world,
will digest me and drag me away to the storehouse
of surplus sin, there to consume me forever in torment.
For you alone are able to wrest me from the
jaws of death, and deliver me to everlasting life and bliss,
refuge of all, king of light,
Lord Jesus Christ, blessed forever.

1. Gn 8,21.
2. Ps 51,6 (Arm. 50):6.
3. Sg 12,10.
4. Mt 23,15.
5. Is 53,5.
6. Mt 25,30.
7. Mt 25,41.
8. Ap 6,14.
9. Is 65,17, Ap 21,1 Ap 21,5.
10. Lc 8,17.
11. Mt 25,31.
12. Ap 8,13 (in the Middle Ages, the number 7 was associated with infinity).
13. Am 5,19.
14. Am 5,18 Am 5,20.
15. So 1,15.
16. Ps 34,7 (Arm. 33):7.
17. 1Co 15,54-55, Ap 20,14.
18. Mt 25,11-13 Lc 13,25.
19. 1Co 3,13.
20. Ap 20,12.
21. 2Co 9,6.

Prayer 80

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A And now, after all this despair
and terrible heartbreak,
angry reprimands and divine wrath,
with a soul completely tormented by grief,
I pray to you, Holy Mother of God,
herald to mankind, angel in bodily form,
heavenly queen,
pure as air, clean as light,
clear as the image of the sun at its height,
higher than the forbidden dwelling place of the
holy of holies,1
place of the blessed covenant, a breathing Eden,2
tree of immortality, guarded by a fiery sword,3
strengthened and protected by the exalted Father,
prepared and purified by the Holy Spirit that
rested upon you,4 adorned by the Son who dwelt
in you as his tabernacle,5
only Son of the Father, and for you the first born,6
your Son by birth, and your Lord by creation,
together with your unsoiled purity, spotless goodness,
together with your immaculate holiness,
guardian intercessor.
Receive these prayers from me, who believe in you.
Together with my ode to you7
offer and present them to God as your own.

Weave and mix into your prayers of happiness
and adoration the bitter sighs that I, a sinner, utter,
you, who are the tree of life bearing the blessed fruit,8
so that always receiving help from you and through your
good deeds, and taking refuge in the light of your
holy motherhood,
I may live for Christ, your Son and Lord.

B Assist me on your wings of prayer,
you, proclaimed Mother of all the living,9
so that my departure from this earthly valley
may be without torment, leading to life in the lodgings
you have prepared,10 that my death might be light,
though I am weighed down by iniquity.

Make the day of my anguish a festive holiday,
you, healer of the sorrow of Eve.11
Speak on my behalf, beg and beseech for my sake,
for as I believe your purity is beyond words,
I also believe in the power of your words.12

Blessed among women, I am in trouble.
Help me with your tears.
Ask on bended knee for my reconciliation,
Mother of God.13
Care for me who am miserable, altar of the exalted.
Lend me a hand, for I have fallen, heavenly temple.
Glorify your Son,
by performing upon me the divine miracle of
mercy and pardon, handmaid and Mother of God.14

C Magnify your honor through me,
and my salvation will be manifested through you
if you find me, Madonna,
if you pity me, blessed among women,
if you rescue me in my waywardness,
immaculate one,
if you care for me in my fear, happy one,
if you lift my head bowed in shame, good grace,
if you intercede for me in my despair,
ever Holy Virgin,
if you include me in my rejection, exalted of God,
if you show me kindness, undoer of malice,
if you steady me in my doubt, repose,
if you calm my anxiety, pacifier,
if you show me the way from which
I have strayed, praised one,
if you appear before the tribunal for me,
vanquisher of death,
if you mellow my bitterness, sweetness,
if you eliminate my separation from God,
if you lift away my uncleanness, you who
stamp out corruption,
if you save me in my condemnation, living light,
if you cut off the sound of my wailing, bliss,
if you restore me, for I am broken, salve of life,
if you look upon me in my ruin, you filled
with the Spirit,
if you visit me with compassion, legacy given us.15
You alone shall be on the pure lips of happy tongues.
Indeed if but a drop of your virgin milk
were to rain on me, it would give me life,
Mother of our exalted Lord Jesus,
creator of heaven and earth,
whom you bore complete in humanity and
total in divinity,
who is glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
uniting his essence and our nature in a manner beyond human understanding.
He is all and in all, one of the Holy Trinity.16
To him glory, forever and ever.

1. He 9,7.
2. Gn 12,7, Gn 2,8.
3. Gn 3,24.
4. Lc 1,35.
5. Jn 1,14.
6. Lc 2,7.
7. St. Gregory wrote an Ode to the Mother of God in 984.
8. Lc 1,42.
9. Gn 3,20.
10. Jn 14,2-3.
11. Gn 3,16.
12. Jn 2,3-5.
13. Lc 1,42-43.
14. Lc 1,38.
15. Jn 19,27.
16. Col 3,11.

Prayer 81

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Accept, kind and merciful God,
with the prayers of the Mother of God,
the petitions of the immortal angels, adorned in light,
which sing, without ceasing, with their pure mouths
in constant intercession for my sake.
The angels are virtuous, created good by you,
doer of good,
They are ignorant of evil, established by your command, which rules all, God who is.
They are a mighty force at your disposal, exalted God,
holy, pure, spotless, blessed,
splendid, victorious and invincible,
swift as a flash of the mind.

These guardian angels serve us and plead for us,
just as for the barren fig tree1
that did not give fruit for three years,
an eternity encompassing past, present and future,
for a long period it took root
in the vineyard of this world,
decorated with useless foliage, but gave no fruit.
And this is the very image of wretched mankind.

The angels brood over us constantly.
They aid us in our frailty.2
They tend our portion of virtue
with everlasting life they pray for our salvation,
saying these words: “Forsake not the work
of your hands.” 3
For truly, this prayer is ours.
You, God on high arranged for them
to say this for our sake,
for they were created by the word,
and we by the action of your hand.4
They shall come with your only begotten Son,
as fearsome witnesses at the last judgment,5
true accusers of the sins of earthly beings,
before the terrifying tribunal,
justly and fairly counseling us.
There too, they sympathize with us, pleading with sighs,
the perpetual chant of their voices:
Have mercy, you who created them.
Do not destroy them.6

B Now, with their voices in thanksgiving
and their prayers, immortal and sublime,
inhale also the savory scent of our sighs, creator of all.
You exceed those above and below with
your compassion,
since from you flow all good deeds for us and for them.
And for the sake of the splendor of the
incorruptible beings, miraculous in their fiery forms,7
unadulterated purity, sinless, made of fire and
spirit, invincible, with the immense advantage of
their higher status,
their abundant, brilliant knowledge,
fervent with an ardor that does not cool,
with an innate passion for the love of God,
like them, may our cold, smoldering hearts,
be rekindled brightly at the sublime mystery of
the holy table, which is your sanctuary,
and without drowsiness or lethargy,
may we await the blessed command
of your life-giving will, creator of all,
to be united with God inseparably
in cherubic virtue.

They are the great heavenly principalities,
soldiers, pure and awesome,
the virtuous and noble ministers in your
heavenly kingdom,
the glimmering rays of your cloud of light, God on high.

C Through them, Jesus, show your merciful
love for mankind
for me also, sinner born of earth that I am.
Through the prayers of my guardian angel
turn me toward the good path of your light,
so that the inheritance of my soul
which you entrusted to his protection,
may be received by you from this life,
with a joyous heart, jubilant within me,
blameless and blessed by you,8
might he bring me forward and present me
with a glad and cheerful face,
to you, praised and merciful Lord,
sublime king of glory beyond comprehension,
in the midst of the blissful choir in tumultuous jubilation.

And to you, who are beyond understanding,
with your Father, beyond reach,
and your Holy Spirit beyond words –
glory, honor and adoration,
unto the ages of ages.

1. Lc 13,6-9.
2. Book of Tobit, where the Angel Raphael comes to the aid of the persecuted, but righteous Tobit.
3. Ps 138,8 (Arm. 137):8.
4. Gn 2,7.
5. Mt 25,31.
6. per K?chichian, p. 434, n. 2, this phrase is a citation from a hymn to the angels in the Armenian Ritual.
7. He 1,7.
8. Mt 25,34.

Prayer 82

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Lord God, doer of good, generous king,
refuge of life, form of light,
spacious place of repose,
who for the sake of sinners like me
came, took the form of man
accomplishing things beyond telling
and performed miracles,
even perfecting our humanity1
with the fullness of your divinity.

Now for the holy apostles,
whom you ordained with your heavenly hand,2
and anointed by your Holy Spirit,3
whose deserving praises I have sung
as much as I could
for your glory, Lord of all, in another work.4
Have mercy upon me in the memory of your chosen.

Through them prepare for me a way to the
most desired bliss.
May the voice of these good shepherds
be heard beckoning me sweetly to eternal life.
May I partake of the jubilant hope
of everlasting salvation
with the lives of our leaders, the first to be graced with this honor,
the glorified choir, the spiritual rivers,
the sublime evangelists, the illustrious princes,
those with sparkling crowns,
and those adorned in the untarnished
brilliant radiance of the strength of grace, yes,
those who have been made perfect with
the oil of gladness, your lordly light.

B Together with your disciples,
Christ God on high,
and the self-sacrifice of your chosen martyrs,
who through mortification and torments of the flesh,
and peril to life and limb and all manner of suffering,
and who despite their earthly nature
struggled against every element of material existence to
win halos, transcending and reborn in spirit,
courageously. They departed this world, as
the prophets said,
as true witnesses to the trials and tribulations of death.
They comprehended the unequivocal good,
unseen and hidden,
even in this world with the hope of things seen.5
The disciples of the apostles and their
companions in suffering
are also equal to them in their works
and in their consummate and utter perfection
are jubilant with endless bliss.
By their pleasing and acceptable pleading,
honoring their prayers as a blood-drenched sacrifice of dedicated service
offered with the incense of sweat,
accept me again to share their lot
and be established in you with everlasting salvation.

C Though a sinner deserving of punishment,
accept me,
together with those who fight with fire and sword,
covered in blood, and together with the holy ascetics,
hermit fathers, and your other followers, Son of God,
all who with invincible bravery and
undistracted vigilance, have courageously struggled
against the baseness of the body
and fended off the bodiless Satan.
In the perpetual battlefield of our earthly life
without being worn down
upon the waves of this expansive worldly sea,
despite the heaviness of their bodily ark,
they sent their souls soaring in lightness,
reaching the safe haven of eternal life.
And like those who love the celestial realm,
truly and boldly, without reservations,
they have crowned themselves with
the tiara of victory, adorned with brilliant gems.6
By grace of their worthy prayers and
dedicated supplications,
accept me too.

D Mixing my impure words
with the glorious prayers of the blessed,
who for my sake call out to you in a pleasing manner,
I too call out with them,
sour notes amidst the sweet,
thorns amidst the smoothness,
ugliness amidst splendor,
filth amidst glistening diamonds,
impurities amidst pure gold,
worthless rocks amidst silver,
contradictions amidst the truth,
grains of sand amidst the soft bread.

Listen, mighty, ingenious, praised, Lord,
to their prayers for me and mine for them,
for their praise, my salvation, and for your glory,
O Lord, all-compassionate, doer of good, blessed,
long-suffering, potent, beyond understanding,
beyond words, incorruptible and uncreated.
Yours are the gifts, and yours is grace.
You are the beginning and cause of all good.

E You are not the accuser, but the liberator,7
not the destroyer, but the rescuer,
not the executioner, but the savior,8
not the scatterer, but the gatherer,9
not the traitor, but the deliverer.
You do not pull down, but lift up.
You do not knock down, but stand upright.
You do not curse, but bless.
You do not take revenge, but give grace.
You do not torment, but comfort.
You do not erase, but write.
You do not shake, but steady.
You do not trample, but console.
You do not invent the causes of death,
but seek the means to preserve life.
You do not forget to help.
You do not abandon the good.
You do not withhold compassion.
You do not bring the sentence of death, but
the legacy of life.
You are not opposed for your generosity.
You are not blasphemed for your grace.
You are not cursed for your bounty.
You are not insulted for your free gifts.
You are not mocked for your patience.
You are not blamed for your pardon.
You are not accused for your goodness.
You are not dishonored for your sweetness.
You are not despised for your meekness.
For these, we send not complaints,
but gratitude that cannot be silenced.
Take away my sins, Almighty.
Remove the curse from me, blessed.
Pardon my debts, merciful.
Erase my transgressions, compassionate.
Extend your hand of deliverance
and I will instantly be made perfect.
What is easier than this for you Lord,
and what is more important to you?
Thus, providential Lord, revive me
made in your image and brought to life by your breath10
in order to renew the breath of your pure
enlightening grace,
protecting my sinful soul.

F Do not dispatch me, merciful Lord, before my time.
Do not let me depart this life empty-handed, before my journey is accomplished.
Do not offer me the cup of bitterness in my time of thirst.
Do not block me, compassionate Lord, from the
path of doing good,
and do not permit the nightfall of death to overtake me
like a band of thieves in a sudden ambush.11
May the feverish heat of the sun at an
unexpected moment
not cut off and dry up my roots forever.12
And may the lunacy of the moon, arriving in secret,
not cause harm.13
May rest not bring death
and slumber not lead to slaughter.
May sleep not destroy me
and may drowsiness not corrupt me.
May my death not strike me at an
inappropriate moment.
And may the release of my spirit upward not
be cast down.

G You are the Lord, you are compassionate, you are the doer of good.
You are patient and almighty.
In all things you are strong beyond comprehension
and words14
to pardon, to save, to grant life,
to enlighten, to establish anew,
to snatch from the jaws of ferocious beasts,
or from the teeth of dragons and restore life,
to lead from the depths of the abyss to the light of bliss,15
and from drowning in the waves of sin
to be seated among the righteous with the glory
of the blessed.
Every soul awaits you with hope and expectation,
longing for your grace,16
whether heavenly or earthly,
whether fallen in sin or exalted with righteousness,
whether master or servant,
whether lady or maid.
And in your hand is the life breath of every creature.17
To you with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
glory forever and ever.

1. He 5,9 He 12,2.
2. Lc 24,50.
3. Ac 2,3-4.
4. St. Gregory appears to be referring to his Ode to the Apostles and the sixty-six disciples in his Ode to the Cross and the Holy Virgin, dated between 984 and 1000. Critical Edition, p. 1100, n. 4.
5. He 11,1.
6. Ph 3,13.
7. Jn 8,11, Lc 9,56.
8. Jn 10,10.
9. Lc 15,4.
10. Gn 1,26 Gn 2,7.
11. Lc 12,39.
12. Ps 121,6 (Arm. 120), 6, Mt 13,6.
13. Ps 121,6 (Arm. 120):6.
14. Gn 18,14; Lc 1,37.
15. Jonah.
16. Rm 8,18-25.
17. Jb 12,10.

Prayer 83

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A Exalted and inscrutable, terrifying power,
lord of creation, king of heaven,
creator of angels, who fashioned the spirits,
and made the fiery beings,
good chief of souls, helping hand,1
tranquil repose, vision of enlightenment,2
brightness of bliss, path to beatitude,
cause of life, source of intelligence,
salvation without evil, guide to peace,
rampart of strength, bulwark of protection,
wall of the great fire of blessing,3 definition
of unvengeful,4
remember the lamentations and confessions in this book,
for those of the human race who are our enemies as well,
and for their benefit accord them pardon and mercy.

Do not be angry at them for my sake, Lord,
as if they blasphemed the saints,
on account of your love which is upon me,
but rather treat them as if they are reprimanding evil and justly rebuke me,
while forgiving them their transgressions.
For when we both appear before you, just judge,
perhaps some of those who have harmed me
have sinned little
and justly spoken against me,
whereas I have committed innumerable and
immeasurable breaches of my vows,
with respect to you, generous Lord.

B Remember your greatness, Lord,
when looking upon my lowliness.
And while I petition you to do good to my enemies,
you in your magnanimity beyond words
show your miraculous favor toward them who are
also your enemies.5
Do not destroy those who persecute me, but
reform them,
root out the vile ways of this world,
and plant the good in me and them,
especially since you are light and hope,
and I am darkness and foolishness.
You are true good, praiseworthy Lord,
and I am thoroughly evil and helpless.
You are the Lord of everything on earth and in
the heavens, and I do not control my breath or spirit.
You are exalted, free of any needs,
and I am in pain and peril.
You are above all the passions of earth,
and I am base, disgusting clay.
In the words of the prophet:
you endure in perpetual infinity on high
and I continuously perish.6
In you there is neither darkness nor deceit,
and in me, they are complete,
since I have wasted my inheritance of goodness.

Take me out of my prison and free me from my bonds.7
Remove my chains and rescue me from drowning.
Free me from anxiety and release me from my irons.
Deliver me from preoccupations and banish my doubts.
Console my sadness and calm my vexation.
Dispel my afflictions and quiet my agitation.
Cure me of my tears and stop my sighing.
Drive away my lamentations and heal my sobbing.

God of mercy and giver of sweetness,
do not despise me, whom you have redeemed with your almighty blood.
Do not condemn me to a place of perdition.
Prop me up for I have reached the shores of death8
through all manner of fatal illness.

C Look how through the seasons of my life
my vain acts have piled up and accrued,
for from the day I appeared on this earth,
I have been good for nothing,
and in the field of my mother’s womb
I was a sprouting thorn bush of sin.
Nevertheless, do not be a wounding sting for me,
as you were for the house of Judah or the descendants
of Ephraim.9
And since I sowed in my soul
weeds that prick, poison that numbs me,
instead of the good seeds of wheat,10
as the Scriptures say, which are older than the Gospels,11
why should I not call my soul a foul field,
choking with the accursed thorns of sin?12
I did not sow justice, as Hosea said,
so why should I reap and gather the fruit of life?13
I lost the pure innocence of my soul,
as the prophet said of Israel:14
Now can you restore it, Lord?
I spread forth and opened the bed of my will
to the demons of lust, in the wayward ways of Judah.15
It is in your hands to restore that innocence.

D If the union of the prostitute with the prophet16
purified her, how much more, Savior,
will our spiritual union purify me?
If the inanimate sun which you created,
provider of the earth, dries the foul swamps
and brings the immature fruits to ripeness,
then you, Creator of all, Holy Spirit of God,
how much more can you flush away the silt of
my wrongdoing and cleanse the foul pus of
my accumulated sin?

For this reason I hasten in this prayer to ask that
you do good to those who hate me,
so that you, blessed compassion, would not reject me,
though I am deserving of death for my mortal sins and
you should banish me from your all-protecting sight.

Give me life, although I have sinned in all ways,
with every part of my body
and the conduct of my soul, give me life
that I might contemplate only that which is
pleasing to you.
To seek benefits for those who have done good is
the law of nature, an instinctive urge.
And indeed, all manner of people are capable
of following this first rule.
But the second, that is, to pray for your enemies
with the care of the first, comes close to
being the divine.17
For this reason, I presented the second first,
that is praying for my enemies
before asking favor for the good.

E Remember twice those
who, in your exalted name,
accepted me, unworthy soul that I am,
and give them, most generous Lord, doer of good,
without spite, the reward of the just and the prophets.18
Although I may be devoid of virtues forever,
considering the belief and by the hope and expectation,
they in their reasonable judgment have regarded
those like me, a slave to sin,
as if I had a secret compartment in my soul
filled with your life-giving relics.

Approaching me with your infinite compassion,
cleanse me, whose sins cannot be hidden from your sight
or from your unerring judgment.
Thus protect me from being shamefully condemned
before the tribunal of the universe.

And as those whom you love, those who for your sake
see your glory reflected on me, unworthy though I am,
for they look upon my fine vestments
without knowing the defects they conceal
and call me in my pitiful state “blessed,”
may you, ingenious, bountiful, content
Lord, who loves mankind, with infinite mercy,
for the sake of the sighs of my most wretched soul,
settle with them according to their faith.
On the terrible day of judgment,
when everything is tried and the good are separated from the bad,19
offer and grant them your incorruptible glory
and your never fading crown.20

F You are the guarantee of salvation for a starving slave like me,
made worthy by the Word, your gift,21
to be redeemed for the benefits of heaven22
by the largesse of your endless and priceless treasure.

Lead me beside the still waters.23
Erect in me like a monument, unchanging God,
a ready assurance.
Establish in me, praised Lord, a sincere and
unshakable hope.
Accord me, you who provide everything, an
impartial defense.
In my unsteadiness, accord me the tranquility of virtue,
in my doubt, the solace of enlightenment,
in my mourning, great happiness,
in my weariness, hope to live,
in my abandonment, steadfast help,
in my retreat, return without stumbling.
For all of this is yours, and all of this is from you,
and through you are distributed the necessities of
all creation,
and to you is fitting glory,
forever and ever.

1. Ps 73,23 (Arm 72):23.
2. Mt 11,28-29.
3. Za 2,5.
4. Os 11,9.
5. Lc 6,27-28.
6. Ps 102,26-27 (Arm. 101):26-27.
7. Ps 142,7 (Arm. 141):7, Lc 13,16.
8. Is 38,1.
9. Os 5,12.
10. Jb 31,40.
11. Mt 13,25.
12. Is 5,6; Mt 13,7.
13. Os 10,12.
14. Ez 23,3.
15. Is 57,8.
16. Os 1,3.
17. Mt 5,46-48.
18. Mt 10,41.
19. Mt 25,32.
20. 1P 5,4, 1Co 9,25.
21. Mt 28,18-20.
22. Lc 19,13.
23. Ps 23,2 (Arm. 22):2.

Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 78