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Prayer 45

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Now, confess, my ruined soul
with hope in your heart for salvation
with the belt of faith tight over your kidneys,1
confess your thoughts to God
as if thoughts were actions,
as if plans were accomplishments,
as if invisible were seen,
as if the heart’s secrets were voiced,
as if sinful intentions were committed wrongs,
as if words were deeds,
as if footprints were flight from God’s will,
hands raised in anger as if they shed blood,
abandoned laughter as if abandoned grace,
vows both reasonable and unreasonable
as if compacts with the devil,
haughtiness as if it could detract
from our creator,
uneasiness of heart as if a lack of faith,
cowardice as if it were defeat,
complaints about passionate temptations
as if betrayals of a vow to the Lord,2
insolence as if it were impiety,
arrogance as if precious vanity,
pride as if fondness for evil,
the involuntary as well as voluntary,
the forced as well as the consenting,
the extrinsic as well as the intrinsic,
the lawless as well as the ungodly,
the smallest as well as the greatest,
the few as well as the many,
the things I have left unspoken as if
they were spoken by the all-knowing,
the unwritten wrongs as if
they were carved by the all-seeing upon a lodestone,3
the slightest contentious thought as if
it were the gravest of burdens,
a hidden matter of measure as if
it were the just demand for payment of tribute
in the amount of four drachmae
from the mouth of a baby whale,4
buried deeds as if they were speeding to the ear of God.
Compile and compound them redoubling your effort,
and lament here again what is not, as if it were.
Offer your vanquished soul to God
so that you might receive the forgiveness of sins,
like the sinner who through the Lord’s grace
was justified,
eloquently proclaiming the merits of repentance rather than faultfinding.5

B

Now compile and condemn your soul’s sins,
reproach yourself with varied images, my soul,
in a relentless stream of words:
evil, disobedience, error,
desertion, surrender,
rage, impudence, stupidity,
stupor, daydreaming, slumber,
pagan thoughts, base words,
pleasure in dissolution, dalliance,
desire of what is hateful to God,
impious, incorrigible, uncivilized,
faulty, feeble, weak, stingy,
untethered, ridiculous, lusting,6
comic, scandalous, deceitful,
brazen, quarrelsome, outlaw,
suffocating the soul, shaking cowardice,
unruly branching bush,
dishonorable indulgence, contentiousness, sulking,
baseless hatred, lax titillation,
failure to weigh small things, breach of promise,
forgetfulness of vows, distortion of similarity,
disguised by veils, extravagance of glory seeking,
arrogance, roguishness, egotism,7
will to power, conspiracy with criminals,8
meaningless gossip, vicious behavior,
collaboration with the conniving tempter,
confusion, selling of life for the price of butchery,
loss of tradition, betrayal of homeland,
attractive bondage,9
yoked to lawlessness like oxen,10
living in filth, abandoning the good,
giving in to bad impulses, worse than
before conversion,11
new designs, untoward intentions, unstable will,
pointless shouting, letter over spirit,
lawlessness, despotic rule,
and other things that cannot be spoken, written, told
or countenanced.

C

And now, how shall you be cured, my poor soul,
after suffering so many slashes of the lance?
You are like an abandoned, exiled man, incurable,
as the Prophet wrote.12 Anyone would be condemned
to death for the wrongs listed above, let alone if besieged
by the hordes of killers and vicious executioners.
And these descriptions fail to convey fully
the weight of my misfortune.
Although my skin-covered vessel may look
good from the outside, it is teaming with evil within
as if swarming with scorpions that sting
with the deadly poison in their tails.
It is a storehouse of ruination and mass of grief,
filled with agents of destruction and sowers of death.

D

And now, your store of iniquities,
the accumulated wages of your wicked ways,
my soul, are enough to condemn you twice to death.
Seeds sown by the enemy upon the grain fields
of the world,13
which you willingly accepted in yourself,
unclean man, dishonest and lazy, completely hateful,
gluttonous lover of all that is filled with corruption,
for which the Apostle saved some of his most fearsome words of reprimand:
“And those who know,” he said, “God’s law, and still
do such things or are willing to do so,
are deserving of death.”14
Thus, I myself am deserving of double
condemnation to ruination and death, but still
I pray you, spare me, with your mercy,
O God, compassionate, living, mighty,
obliging, able, potent,
blessed forever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Ex. 29:13, Lev. 3:4, Jer. 12:2, Job 16:13, Wis. 1:6.

  2 ...... 2 Cor. 1:3-6.

  3 ...... Jer. 17:1.

  4 ...... Mt. 17:24-27.

  5 ...... Mt. 26:7, 13; Lk. 7:36-50.

  6 ...... Jer. 5:8.

  7 ...... Is. 3:16.

  8 ...... Mt. 23:6.

  9 ...... Lk. 15:13.

  10 ...... Is. 5:18.

  11 ...... 2 Pet. 2:20.

  12 ...... Jer. 22: 28-30.

  13 ...... Mt. 13:24-28, 37-39.

  14 ...... Rom. 1:28-32.