- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 69

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


And now, by your hand, great Lord and God,
artist who with infinite ingenuity shaped my being
in the crucible of your love where
I am daily refined but never purified,
continuously stirred but never smooth.
It is in vain, O silversmith, my heavenly architect,
that you squander effort working on me.
As the prophet said in his well known parable,
my wickedness does not melt away.1

Because I am woefully misguided
I dare speak out of turn
like some pathetic, possessed maniac,
increasing the burden of my sin
instead of finding a means of reconciliation.

And so that the punishment awaiting me in the next life
does not come as a shock,
extraordinary event, or unprecedented calamity,
he planted as a reminder here in my body
the token of that first curse,
that through this small insignificant speck the larger
illness might be examined.


For in the womb are born and spontaneously multiply
all manner of squirming worms,
intestinal worms gnawing in secret,
burning tumors, stinging ulcers, abnormal growths,
and host of other sweaty, noisome, disgusting, annoying, itching conditions.
Plus other savage marauders,
like demons attacking in the night,
barbarous mercenaries from the legions of darkness,
with the ferocity of Arabian wolves,
stalking with their head curved down, their
melancholy color,
their crooked, hooked jaw,
resembling that of a scorpion,
piercing with crude thorns,
sucking, drawing blood,
to turn the bed of rest into an instrument of punishment.

And when one lifts one’s hand to give them their due,
they sense the danger in advance that man poses
and immediately take flight
with their hairless bodies and dwarfed size,
and hopping this way and that like grasshoppers
they scatter,
and with the slyness of foxes conspire against the good,
escaping through secret places, as if they have found deliverance from death.

And such vile and miserable beings,
not only pursue the vulgar and motley mob,
but also powerful and fearsome kings,
driving them to the attic of their habitations,
or even forcing them to live outside.

Courageous and brave men, who rule crowds
and govern peoples and take cities of nations,
have witnessed defeat at the hands of this virulent
force, saying
“We were not able to resist these tyrants, stronger
than ourselves;
therefore we took flight and reached this point.”


And why have I discoursed about
such miniscule and abject things worthy of ridicule?
Only because they are the most powerful and irrefutable advocates for the Divinity,
reminding me of what awaits me in the next life, these bitter fruits
of my unruly body.
And even so deadly diseases happen upon us and
eat away relentlessly.
From these there is no riddance
other than through physical pains which foretell
the punishment that is to come.
And there is no place to seek refuge,
to escape them by fleeing.
For without the signal of your will,
human efforts and methods fail.
But you, who do good, hold in ample measure the
life-giving cure for everything.
You have but to will it, in order to save, renew, pardon, cure and give life.
To you glory forever and ever.

1. Jer. 6:29.



Source: St. Gregory of Narek
Provided by: Thomas J. Samuelian

© 2002, Thomas J. Samuelian. Published with the permission of the author.

See also:

Biography of Grigor Narekatsi (in Armenian)
The Christ-Child ( translated by Alice Stone Blackwell )

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