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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.
C When I depart this life, may holiness not abandon me.
When I am wrapped in shrouds may your honor not leave me.
May my soul not reject your unwavering salvation.
May your image engraved upon my soul, Giver of life, not be effaced.
May the mark of your blood not be erased from my soul’s altar bearing your seal.
May it dwell with me in my grave.
When my miserable body is worn out
may your anointing grace stay with me,
that I might on the day of renewal meet you, groom of glory,
that I may be known as one of yours,
that I may be clothed with your accomplishments,
that I may be honored by the assurances of your greatness,
that I may be adorned with the robe of your baptism and pardoned with mercy.
Give me, O compassionate Lord, your cloak of incorruptibility,
you who suffer with the sins of my body.
Do not let the Blasphemer gain control over your people.
May the one who wears out my soul waste away.
May the tricks of those who live on the dark side not haunt me.
May the abyss of my final rest be blessed in your name, O merciful Lord.
May the cell of my captivity be filled with your mercy.
May the place of my torture be broken open
May tranquility reign, my keeper, in my prison of terror.
May that dark womb nourish me toward resurrection.
May your hope preserve me that chamber of anxiety.
May your hand protect me upon the cot of my torment.
May your wings shield me in the house of anguish.
Stay with me, Lord most praised, in my room of peril.
A thousand woes upon me,
for once I was angelic, but now I am in the abyss,
once I was celebrated, but now I am pitiful.
D Now again, you who are blessed by all creation,
by the heavenly and the earthly,
and by the denizens of Hades,
you who were banished for me for no reason,
for it was I who strayed and was estranged,
I who was stupid, lost, and found worthless.
I was abandoned, extinguished and destroyed.
I erred, I was caught, I was rejected.
I was alienated, enslaved, and degraded.
I was cursed, I became wretched, drunken and wasted.
I was swallowed up, I was deceived, I rebelled.
I was corrupted, died and destroyed completely.
You had no hand in this evil,
for you are only unchanging good.
E Now, when your will is upon me, darkness becomes light for me.
When your lamp of hope is there, night is like the dawn.
When your body is taken during communion, I live down my shame.
But I do not consider my soul living,
for death is inevitable.
Nor do I consider it dead,
for renewal is not doubted.
And though I see the path to life closed before me
because of my unpardonable sins
still paradise is open before me
because of the good news of salvation.
For the discouragement of bad news makes me
less anxious than the encouragement of your hand extending salvation.
Therefore, grant mercy, O Lord,
for all those who raise voices in thanks,
Lord blessed forever.