BOOK OF PRAYER
Tenets of Prayer Prayer
1 Prayer 2 Prayer
3 Prayer 4 Prayer
5 Prayer 6
Prayer 7 Prayer 8 Prayer 9 Prayer 10 Prayer 11 Prayer 12 Prayer 13 Prayer 14
Prayer 15 Prayer 16 Prayer 17 Prayer 18 Prayer 19 Prayer 20 Prayer 21 Prayer 22
Prayer 23 Prayer 24 Prayer 25 Prayer 26 Prayer 27 Prayer 28 Prayer 29 Prayer 30
Prayer 31 Prayer 32 Prayer 33 Prayer 34 Prayer 35 Prayer 36 Prayer 37 Prayer 38
Prayer 39 Prayer 40 Prayer 41 Prayer 42 Prayer 43 Prayer 44 Prayer 45 Prayer 46
Prayer 47 Prayer 48 Prayer 49 Prayer 50 Prayer 51 Prayer 52 Prayer 53 Prayer 54
Prayer 55 Prayer 56 Prayer 57 Prayer 58 Prayer 59 Prayer 60 Prayer 61 Prayer 62
Prayer 63 Prayer 64 Prayer 65 Prayer 66 Prayer 67 Prayer 68 Prayer 69 Prayer 70
Prayer 71 Prayer 72 Prayer 73 Prayer 74 Prayer 75 Prayer 76 Prayer 77 Prayer 78
Prayer 79 Prayer 80 Prayer 81 Prayer 82 Prayer 83 Prayer 84 Prayer 85 Prayer 86
Prayer 87 Prayer 88 Prayer 89 Prayer 90 Prayer 91 Prayer 92 Prayer 93 Prayer 94
Prayer 95 Colophon
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart
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.
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.
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
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. Mk. 11:12-14, 20-21, Mt. 21:18-20.
2. Heb. 6:7–8.
3. Pr. 28:13.
4. Mt. 7:2, Lk. 6:38
5. Lk. 7:42.
Gregory of Narek
© 2002, Thomas J. Samuelian. Published with the permission of the author.