“Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart”,
Written by St. Gregory of Narek, Armenian poet and monk,
Doctor of the Universal Church.
A thousand years ago St. Gregory of Narek (951-1005) set out, with much trepidation, on a sublime mission to translate the pure sighs of the “broken and contrite” heart into an offering of words pleasing to God. Beginning each prayer with the incantation “speaking with God from the depths of the heart,” he referred to himself as “a living book (Prayer 39b)” and to his book as a compendium of prayers for all times and nations – “a testament. its letters like my body, its message like my soul (Prayer 54e).” Thus, the man equated himself with the book, and ever since, the book has been equate with this saintly man. So the book like the man came to be known affectionately as Narek.
Prayer 16 (a-b)
A Yours alone, God, in heaven, exalted and generous,
yours is the power, and yours, forgiveness.
Yours is healing and yours, abundance.
Yours are the gifts and yours alone grace.
Yours atonement and yours protection.
Yours is creation beyond knowing.
Yours are arts beyond discovery.
Yours are bounds beyond measure.
You are the beginning and you are the end.
Since the light of your mercy is never obscured
by the darkness of indignity,
you are not subject to disease in any form.
You are too lofty for words, an image beyond framing,
whose being is immeasurable,
the breadth of whose glory is unbounded,
the reach of whose incisive power is indescribable,
the supremacy of whose absoluteness is uncontainable,
the compassion of whose good works is unflagging. (…)
B Remember me, Lord of all, benefactor,
light in the darkness, treasure of blessing,
merciful, compassionate, kind, mighty,
powerful beyond telling, understanding, or words,
equal to all crises, you who are, in the words
of Jacob, always ready to do the impossible.1
O fire that clears away sin’s underbrush,
blazing ray that illumines every
great mystery, remember me, blessed one,2
with mercy rather than legalisms,
with forbearance rather than vengeance,
with lenience rather than evidence,
so that you weigh my sins with your kindness
and not with judgment.
For by the first, my burden is light,
but by the second, I am damned forever.
1. Gn 35,1
2. He 4,12, Sg 24,25