“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 Now, should I, a mortal who has strayed in every way,
plead with another earthly being,
to whom it is vain to cry out?
To a mere rational mortal,
on whom it would be false to place hope of salvation?1
To a frail human,
whose strength is as feeble and faltering as his word?
To the princes on earthly thrones,2
whose trappings are as transitory as their beings?
To a blood brother,
who likewise is needy of contentment?
To my earthly father,
whose care diminishes with his dwindling days?
To my mother, who bore me,
whose compassion waned with her retreating life?
To the kingdoms of this world, perhaps,
who are always more artful in killing than giving life?
Or to you, beneficent God, glorified in the highest,
who live and give life to all and
who after death are able to work incorruptible renewal.3
B For if we flee, it is you who come after us.
If we are weak, you give us strength.
If we falter, you set us on the right and easy path.
If we faint, you encourage us.
If we are ailing in body and soul, you heal us.
If we lie, you justify us with your truth.
If we stumble into the abyss, you direct us to heaven.
If we do not turn from our willfulness, you guide us.
If we sin, you weep.
If we are just, you smile.
If we are estranged, you mourn.
If we approach, you celebrate.
If we give, you receive.
If we become stubborn, you are patient.
If we are ungrateful, you grant abundantly.
If we quit, you are sad.
If we are brave, you rejoice.
1. Ps 108,12 (Arm 107,13).
2. Ps 146,3 (Arm 145,3).
3. Ph 3,21.