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Prayer 22

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

And now I continue to accuse my cursed soul
in different terms confessing all my
undisclosed evil doings so that perhaps
the all-knowing might record in my favor
these anguished words of penitence and contrition.

B

My body, the grievous tormentor of my soul,
wounded, untreatable, beyond care or recovery,1
is like a talking horse with a callous mouth,
breaking my reins and shaking off my bit,
a surly, wild and incorrigible colt,
an untame, recalcitrant, and stubborn2 heifer,
a homeless man, banished and lost,
a street urchin, roguish and impudent,
a boss, deserving mortal punishment,
unfaithful and indolent,
an intelligent person, turned beastly and unclean,
an abandoned olive tree, barren and dry,
a string of imperial gold coins, wasted and forfeited,
a delinquent servant, runaway and wretched.3

C

I am of no use to you at all, Lord,
for I am willingly self-destructive of soul and body,
and remain spiritually lost and mentally deluded,
with a twisted will4 and broken heart,5
absent-minded and stagnant-brained,
numb and drained,
brazen and disagreeable,
besieged by inflammations,
wracked by fatal sickness.
I pity the womb that bore me and
bemoan the breasts that fed me, asking
why was their milk not curdled with bile?
Why was the sweetness that nurtured me not
mixed with bitterness?

D

And because I have risen against myself
with words like a harsh prosecutor
and have even taken up the sword
of righteous anger that cannot be sheathed,
who among the earth-born will plead for me?
I shall confess every scandalous detail.
I shall submit my being to judgment.
I shall beat down the army of destruction.
I shall prosecute the marauders wounding me.
I have sinned in everything and in all ways.
Have mercy upon me, O compassionate God.
It is no new thing to find me in the fog of iniquity.
I am always the same, breaking
the same commandments and appearing
before you unreformed, stumbling
in an unmendable garment.
And only you, O truly compassionate and blessed,
with your love of mankind and your
unwavering forgiveness
can speed my escape from Satan6
who stands beside me.

E

Now, O caregiving, mighty, heavenly, kind,
creator of all out of nothing,
send the thunderbolt7 of wisdom in powerful words,
upon the movements of my tongue
that it might cleanse the senses
with which you endowed me,
so that with the faculties you created and
fixed a second time,
I might offer thanks to you
with unfailing voice and unbroken speech.
For the glory of the majesty of your Father,
our God, forever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Lk. 10:30.

  2 ...... Gen. 12:6.

  3 ...... Mt. 25: 26-30.

  4 ...... Jg. 5:6; Wis. 2:15, 4:24, 16:30, 27:6; Sir. 4:1; Job 9:20; Is. 27:1; 1 Pet. 2:18; Phil. 2:15.

  5 ...... 2 Macc. 7:39.

  6 ...... Zech. 3:1-3.

  7 ...... Is. 6:6-7.