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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 equated with this saintly man. So the book like the man came to be known affectionately as Narek.
B You made me in your glorious image,1
favoring a weak being like me
with your sublime likeness,
adorning me with speech,
and burnishing me with your breath,
enriching me with thought,
cultivating me with wisdom,
establishing me with ingenuity,2
setting me apart from the animals,
endowing my character with a thinking soul,
embellishing me with a sovereign individuality,
giving birth as a father, nurturing as a nurse,
caring for me as a guardian,
You sowed a wayward being in your courtyard,3
irrigated me with the water of life,4
cleansed me with the dew of the baptismal fount,
nourished me with heavenly bread,
quenched my thirst with your blood,
acquainted me with the impalpable and unreachable,
emboldened my earthly eyes to seek you,
embraced me in your glorious light,
permitted my unclean earthly hands to
make offerings to you,
honored my base, mortal ashes,
like a flicker of light,
imprinted upon a worthless wretch like me
your father’s image, awesome and blessed,
out of your love for mankind.
C You did not scald my mouth for daring to
call myself your co-heir,
did not reprimand me for arrogantly
associating with you,
did not darken the sight of my eyes for
gazing upon you,
did not exile me in shackles with
those condemned to death,
did not break the wrist of my arm for
improperly reaching to you,
did not crack the digits of my fingers for
touching the word of life,5
did not engulf me with fog for dedicating this
to you, fearsome Lord,6
did not crush the rows of my teeth for
chewing your communion, infinite Lord,
did not turn in anger as I did with you,
as with the stubborn house of Israel,
did not dishonor me at your wedding party,
I, who am unworthy of singing and dancing,
did not scold me for my disheveled clothes,
I, who am disorderly,
did not cast me into the dark, my hands and
1 . Gn 1,26-27.
2. Ex 31,3.
3. Ps 92,13 (Arm. 91:14).
4. Jn 7,38.
5. 1Jn 1,1.
6. 1R 8,10-12.
7. Mt 22,12-13.