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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 equate with this saintly man. So the book like the man came to be known affectionately as Narek.
A And now, in all and for all, your mercy is hope,
Lord Jesus, the first light of our eyes and our hearts,
all good deeds, life and immortality are from you.
Turn with compassion toward me
and make my soul return to you rejoicing.1
For without you I cannot be transformed anew,
and if your will is not in sympathy with me,
I am unable to save myself since I am Condemned to death.
And if you, my guide, did not show me the way,
marking the footsteps on the path that leads to you,
I would fall into the abyss on the right and the left.
B I am not proud, for I am justly scorned.
I am not arrogant, for I am blameworthy.
I am not haughty, for I am abandoned.
I do not boast, for I am reduced to silence.
I do not rebel, for I am mocked.
I do not rejoice, for I am pitiful.
I do not justùùùify myself, for I am wicked.
A horse does not go straight without someone at the reins,
nor does a ship sail forth without a helmsman,2
nor does a ploughshare make a furrow without a plowman,
nor does a pair of oxen move properly without a driver,
nor does a cloud float in the sky without the wind,
nor do the stars appear and disappear without a scheduler,
nor does the sun course through the zodiac without the action of air.
Nor do I, like them, do anything except at the pleasure
of your commandments, doer of good.3
For you alone give life to thinking beings.
And you alone maintain order in the cycle of creatures.
And you alone are my salvation, as the Psalmist said,4
and you proclaim in joyous voice the good news,
which resounds in the ears of the attentive of all ages –
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest and cleanse you of your sins.”
1. Jr 31,18.
2. Jc 3,3-4.
3. Jn 15,5.
4. Ps 62,2 (Arm 61):2.
5. Mt 11,28.