“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.
A Exalted and mighty God,
who has no beginning, no becoming, and no end,
observer with an unsleeping eye,
parent of the only begotten, glorious and inscrutable,
before heaven and earth,
justify granting your mercy to me to whom
it has been denied.
Celebrate my restoration to life.
Announce the good news for me who is dying.
Reveal your good will, O praiseworthy Lord,
to all creation.
Be true to your name, ineffable, and grant me,
a miserable sinner, renewed salvation.
Wipe away the mortgage of my sins.
And commute the death sentence upon my soul
with the blood of your beloved Son.
With his blood assure salvation for the good.
Show the majesty of your mercy at the bridal feast.
Do not shut me, a supplicant, out of the house of life.
Do not bar me from your banquet table and do not deprive me of your bounty.1
Do not keep the debts of my iniquity in your safe.2
Do not seal the vileness of my dissipation in your good purse.3
Do not cover my diseased body with the wounds of my sins.
Do not preserve the infectious deterioration of
my aching body to be buried with me,4
but lift away the corrupting decay with your mercy,
so that I might be restored to health.
For my grave ills, Father of compassion,
prepare a strong balm.
For my fatal ailments, visit goodness,
for I am yours, Lord, lover of our souls.5
And although in one step I might commit a thousand sins,
still, I would not be deemed as completely sinful,
beneficent giver of life,
having sought refuge in the grace of your gifts.
For to know you is complete justice,
and to know your strength is the root of immortality.
As the wiseman wrote in ages past,
your sovereignty causes you to spare all.6
And he is close to you; whenever you want
you can find him.7
Lean then, Lord, incline yourself in sweetness
with compassion and freely give
the gift of love to comfort us (…)
Lay your hand of salvation on us.
Renew us, forgive and defend us
from the destruction of sin.
And to you alone, who are
the beginning without beginning,
the source of all beginnings,
the holy Trinity and One Divinity,
to you alone are due
glory and dominion forever.
1. Mt 22,3-16.
2. Dt 32,34.
3. Jb 14,17.
4. Ps 37,6.
5. Sg 15,2-3.
6. Sg 12,16.
7. Sg 12,18.