- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 50

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


Since there is no salvation for souls without Christ1
and there is no light without the sight of the eyes,
nor is there sweetness of the sun without
the rays of dawn,
in the same way there is no remission of sins
without confession of secrets and the baring of the soul.
For what good is purity,
if you are judged with the Pharisees?
Or what harm are my transgressions,
if I am to be praised with the tax collectors? 2
Where is it written that Joel was punished,
for repeating three times the distress of his soul? 3
Might a holy man be blamed for reminding us
of the Last Judgment? 4
Is it possible that Isaiah can be called a man of
unclean lips,5 when he stood apart from the deeds of
the house of Israel?
And how can God, who took on Adam’s body out of
sympathy for me, be considered blameworthy for
praying to his Father like a sinner? 6
How can the proverb be interpreted:
“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” 7
For he, who does not confess the error of Adam
to his own heart, and like the fortunate king who took
upon himself the sins of his ancestors,8
consider the sins of all his own9
shall lose his righteousness, like one who thinks our
human nature incorruptible.
And as it is written, a heart can not make
a merry countenance in expectation of the good news10
if one does not, as taught by Christ’s apostle
experience sorrow and repentance.11


Now, I must memorialize
the ancient counsel of the sage,
advice even our Lord saw fit to repeat12
when the ungodly gather,
do not go sit at the head of the table among the haughty13
the place David and Jeremiah advised,14
as a hard and fast rule, to avoid.
But rather sit with the contrite, those humiliated by sin,
and stricken by the fear of retribution on
the great day of judgment,
those who have humbled themselves willingly with the least of those on earth.
With them God on high rejoices.
And I dare to be deemed worthy of this rule
in order to be ranked among the chosen on
the seats of bliss and to escape the rebuke of the prophet, who remarked about the arrogant:
“Do not come near me, for I am pure, and who can
look upon me?”15
Thus drawing upon blessed David’s immeasurable
humility, I say with him:
I am like an animal,16
deprived of sensibility and besieged by evils.17
My wounds have festered and become putrid
because of my incorrigible stupidity.18
And even like certain of the chosen in Assyria, who were
spotless in soul, but who by their own willful impudence
condemned themselves,19
I say with them in the words of the great priest Ezra,
“I am unable even to lift up my face to you, God.”20


I, like a mirror of mankind,
mix with their sins my own,
and doubling the bitterness of my own with theirs,
I sigh with them.
Although there was no need to paint in harsher tones,
an already ugly picture,
yet I sinned here,
without thinking, I did what was not pleasing to you
with many condemnable errors.
Look upon me with compassion, Lord, for
like Peter caught in the act of denial,21
I am completely empty.
Shed light upon me with the rays of your mercy,
you who are benevolent in all ways,
that I might receive your blessing, Lord,
that I might be justified, live and be cleansed
of my inner turmoil, not of the life with which
you endowed me.
I do not dare spread my sinful hands before you
until you offer your blessed right hand
for the renewal of my condemned self.
Now, vanquish again my impudence with
your meekness,
visit upon me your lovingkindness toward humanity.
And with your might to do all in all with all,
forgive my wrongdoing, original, middle and last,
Christ, king of the light of the just,
for whom the impossible is possible.


I am not worthy to mention your blessed name,
for I am capable of dealing mortal blows to you, though you do only good,22
and to deface your seal, your grace, your breath of life,
your gifts, your legacy, your talents,
your image, your stamp, your anointing,
your name, your son-hood, your majestic honor,
your bounty, your courage, your friendship,
your life, your light, your blessedness,
your hope, your glory, your majesty that
cannot be laid low,
your incorruptible halo, your promise of secrets,
which through you, Lord Christ, was heralded to me in manifold ways.
I am as impudent as a serpent or adder,
with deaf ears, shut tight with wounds,23
which in the face of your ever growing goodness,
multiplied yet more my wrongdoing,
and completely destroyed me,
denied me life, and bound me with death,
a slave to decadence.24


Now you who alone are fair and just in your benevolent judgment, who are blessed in compassion,
I have sinned against you. I have transgressed.
I have been unjust.
For these I am ruined, corrupted, guilty, debased.
I did not obey your confessed, worshiped, praised word.
You who revealed yourself among us with your love beyond telling,
the mere writing of which is great and the meaning
of which is overwhelming,
to you justice and glory and eternal praise,
and for me, ashamed before you, my caretaker,
atonement, mercy and healing,
help and protection for heart and soul,
praised in all forever.

1. Acts 4:12.
2. Lk. 18:9-14.
3. Jl. 1:15.
4. Jl. 2:1-2, 11
5. Is. 6:5.
6. Heb. 5-7.
7. Ec. 7:4.
8. Ps. 106:6.
9. Rom. 5:12.
10. Pr. 15:12.
11. 2 Cor. 7:10.
12. Pr. 25:6.
13. Lk. 14:8.
14. Ps. 1:1, Ps. 26:6, Jer. 15:17.
15. Is. 65:5.
16. Ps. 73:22.
17. Ps. 40:12.
18. Ps. 38:5.
19. Dan. 3:28-30.
20. 1 Ezra 9:6.
21. Lk. 22:61.
22. Lk. 22:63.
23. Ps. 58:5-6
24. 2 Pet. 2:19



Source: St. Gregory of Narek
Provided by: Thomas J. Samuelian

© 2002, Thomas J. Samuelian. Published with the permission of the author.

See also:

Biography of Grigor Narekatsi (in Armenian)
The Christ-Child ( translated by Alice Stone Blackwell )

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