- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 53

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


Lord, Lord almighty, king of all creation,
blessed mercy, God of all,
who surpasses the limits of the widespread expanses,
you are the sum of all infinities,
The solid is fluid for you, and the fluid solid.1
There is nothing impossible for you, O terrifying,
triumphant power.
Fire is a refreshing mist2 and rain a consuming flame.3
You can make a stone into a speaking figure,4
or turn a speaking figure into a breathless statue.5
You honor the repentant sinner,
and the seemingly pure you scrutinize justly
and condemn.6
Those approaching death you release with
the joy of grace.7
And the humiliated you restore, anointing their faces with cheer.8
You rescue the one who has stumbled into a snare.9
And the one who wavers you set confidently
upon a rock.10
The one who is afflicted and sighing you make happy.11
And the impudent you put in his place.12
And when our resources are exhausted
you perform the greatest miracles.
For you forgive sins and erase our iniquity;
you pardon our injustices and forget our sins
as the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah predicted.13


When I consider, deeply grateful,
the grace of your new salvation
I am dumb struck by its breadth.
For this inexhaustible favor of your light,
which you have bestowed upon a stubborn
wretch like me,
I shall pray to you with the prayer you taught,14
while continuing my writings,
filling the leaves of this book of mournful psalms,
with grieving and sighs of the heart.
But in doing this I have, for the pleasure of the Giver,
mixed the cure with the pain,
encouragement with disappointment,
the name of our creator with discouragement,
comfort with sadness,
the sweetness of our Savior with my bitterness,
grace with the retribution of the Law,
your liberating blessing with cursed punishments,
complete renewal with the death of the body.


I believe in your almighty word, hence I bear witness.15
Hear the silence of my heart, Lord Jesus, and
the great clamor of my voice crying perpetually for you,
who came to share our body and our image,
who came also
as a high priest not under the Law, but throwing off the yoke of the Law.16
Instead of animal sacrifice, you offered your
blessed body,17
perpetually sacrificed without dying and
without diminishing the pardon you grant,
not just for those of few sins,
but also for those whose expectation of life is cut off.
With these bodies so inclined to sin,18
how could we reach salvation, even if we tried for
ten thousand years?
But you God of all, for this reason,
willingly made yourself the sacrifice,19
and suffering death are shared in communion
for our pardon.
Not that you, O fountain of purity, are forced to be
sacrificed daily; rather you chose it through
the Holy Spirit
and with the approval of the Father for
our reconciliation.
You are continuously sacrificed.
And you, inscrutable God of all,
taking on my nature for my sake and in my stead,
for my salvation,
as if I were united and participating in your very being
through your all-embracing body.
And you, benefactor, for me and those like me,
taking my sins upon you,
though you are sinless, and accepting death,
which was the punishment I, a mortal sinner, deserved,
and on my behalf bearing guilt,
so I may suffer with you who
willingly dies but remains living.
You are offered in the divine mystery and
distributed in indivisible parts,
not by the hands of those who deny you,
but by the faith of those who confess to you.


A certain pagan priest who had converted
from idolatry,20
once made a weighty decision,
with presumptuous expectations for a person
such as he, saying:
“I believe that with the death of my passing body,
I will more readily attain glory and bliss
through communion
than through martyrdom or even,
through right living, wretch that I am.”
And from his paradoxical observation I concluded
that he actually believed, that even the pious,
without partaking in communion,
cannot be truly fulfilled,
until they are united in spirit through this great mystery.
When he said, “You were sacrificed twice
for me a sinner,”
he meant, “you truly became me,
exchanging my vileness with your savor,
sacrificing your material body,
through the wafer of the life of light.”
For these reasons, at the last supper in the upper room,
at the first partaking of this grace,
as the cure for incurable diseases,
he distributed his body and blood for the
forgiveness of sins.
This he deemed higher than martyrs’ shedding
their own blood.
By this example of hope, he sought to show
God gives more weight to this sacrifice of faith,
than through other efforts to obtain pardon, mercy or grace.

So much greater is the force of the divine compared to the human,
and the willing sacrifice of the Lord’s body united with the divine,
than the offering of animal sacrifices.21
the immortal, not the mortal,
the awesome light, not the shadowy darkness,
the eternal, not the passing,
the exalted, not the earthly,
the uncreated, not the created,
goodness in its essence, not corruption by nature,
especially since his is the willing and his the
giving of life,
and he is the occasion for blessing, not a cause
for cursing.


Now, I pray you, compassionate Lord,
grant me, broken in heart and spirit,
the salve of life from heaven on high.
Come sweetly to me, ill with sin.
Pardon my debts, in your omnipotence.
And for my part, the truth and trustworthiness of these words lie in this:
You, creator of all, dwell in the saints.22
And in the true words of Paul, as we sow,
so shall we reap.23
And, the infirm of sight can not bear the glare of sun.24
But you, doer of good, who created everything
from nothing,
look kindly upon those who truly have believed in you,
deeming this enough for salvation.
You who are not limited by law,
but prevail over it, breaking loose from its legalism.
For all us sinners in our bewilderment,
you remain the only condition for the good news.
To you with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
glory and power forever.

1. Num. 20:8, Ex. 14:22.
2. Dan. 3:25.
3. Gen. 19:24; Wis. 16:17-19.
4. Mt. 3:9, Lk. 19:40.
5. Gen. 19:26.
6. Lk. 18:9-14.
7. Acts 12:11, Dan. 13 (Arm).
8. Mk. 5:25-34.
9. Ps. 145 (Arm 144):14.
10. Ps. 40 (Arm 39):2.
11. 2 Kg. 20:1-8.
12. 2 Kg. 20:8-11.
13. Is. 43:25, Jer. 31:34.
14. Mt. 6:7-9.
15. 2 Cor. 4:13.
16. Heb. 5:1-10.
17. Heb. 9:11-14; 10:1-18.
18. Rom. 7:23-24.
19. Gal. 2:20, Eph. 5:2.
20. Commentators believe this to be a reference to a Zoroastrian priest who converted after seeing the great faith of the Armenians at the battle of Vardanants in 451. Critical Edition, p. 1061, n. 13.
21. Heb. 9:11-14.
22. Ps. 22 (Arm 21):3-4.
23. Gal. 6:7-8.
24. Yeznik Koghbatsi, Refutation of the Sects, 1.1.



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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