“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 And now remembering the image
of your royal kingdom above,
God of light for all,
do not let iniquity rule me.
Do not let the haughty rebel steal the grace
of your breath from this creature you made.1
Do not let sin trap and rule my mortal body,
No king rules my soul except you, Christ,
who without force submits me to your easy yoke,3
who lifts away my sinful passions with your all-powerful word,
who redeems me with your blood and nourishes me with your body,
who sets forth and establishes the unchanging covenant of life,
who by setting the stamp of your spirit on me as your cohort,4
presents me to your Father as a co-heir,5
and in the name of your sacrifice and memory of your torment,
emboldened me to pray to the same benevolent God.
Creator of all life,
you are the God of all souls6
who made this gift of grace greater than all your other miracles.
Neither the heavens with all their raiment,
nor the angels in their brilliance,
nor the earth and humanity and their wonders,
nor the expanse of the seas and all in them,
nor the abyss in its infiniteness and all in it,
exalted you as sublimely as your sympathy toward me,
when you said through the prophet, our hope
of sweet goodness,
“Who is a God like me, always pardoning sin
and canceling the debts of iniquity?” 7
Behold your words are honored with incense,
and your good works proclaimed,
glorified, deep mystery and worshiped,
not only the one who fashioned us, but also the one
who atoned for our sins,
not only the one who invented us, but also the one
who did good for us,
not only the one who established us, but also the one
who took pity on us,
not only the one who formed us, but also the one
who gave us possibilities,
not only the one who authored, but also the one
who humbled himself for us,
not only the one who designed us, but also the one
who performed miracles,
not only the one who started us, but also the one
who gave us light,
not only the anointed, but also the shepherd,
not only the healer, but also the caretaker,
not only the protector, but also the physician,
not only a supporter, but also a commander,
not only a victor, but also a king,
not only a creator, but also sweetness,
not only the giver of all gifts, but also a generous sponsor,
not only always patient, but also forgiving,
not only not angered, but also unvengeful,
not only sharing our sorrows, but also reading our hearts,
not only providing comfort, but also refuge,
not only supremely compassionate, but also God,
not only endless goodness, but also blessed in all things.
C Now, as you created me, before I existed,
and you revealed yourself as my sustenance,
and I pray that you might reinstate my soul
together with the tabernacle of my body
in the spotlessness of the clean holiness
of their former being,
so that your limitless marvels
might be bestowed more amply, frequently and increasingly
upon the ever-renewing present
rather than upon the fading shadows of ages past.
And when recounting my sins,
however much the wings of my mind can bear to remember,
may I be justified in your name, Almighty,8
in confessing my own stains upon my soul,
and may you forgive the baseness of the many sins
I have revealed,
Almighty, seer of secrets, savior of all,
so that I might not, due to lack of good news,
slide back and long for my former ways.
Envying with the Psalmist those who have been
saved by baptism,9
and wounded in my soul by the thorns of sin,
may your hand not press on me again more heavily,10
making the burden of my transgressions greater than the sweetness of your gifts.11
Rather, free me through your blessed Holy Spirit,
I pray you, Lord of all, from the laws of sin and death.12
Spare me from falling with weakness before
reaching the dawn of your truth as written in the Scriptures.13
For wherever forgiveness reigns, sin is banished,
and wherever your living word gives encouragement, there is no despair.
And wherever your gifts abound, debts are dissolved.
And the hand of God being close by,
nothing is impossible.
Rather, everything basks in light, filled with strength
and invincible potency.
Yours is salvation, life, renewal, mercy,
and at the same time,
a sweet kingdom, incorruptible and glorified forever.
1. Gn 2,7.
2. Rm 6,12.
3. Mt 11,29-30.
4. 2Co 1,22, Ep 1,13.
5. Rm 8,17.
6. NM 27,15-16.
7. Mi 7,18.
8. Ac 13,39
9. Ps 31,1 Ps 37,5.
10. Jb 19,21.
11. Ps 31,4 Ps 37,5.
12. Rm 8,2.
13. Rm 8,3-4.