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Prayer 54

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

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 justify 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.”5

C

But what does it avail me to be cleansed,
if I am only to be soiled again?6
And what use is taking communion,
if I am to be damned to Hell?7
Or why should I glory in Abraham,
if I have strayed from his deeds,8
I, the abominable son of an Amorite father,
and a Hittite or Canaanite mother,
in the words of the Prophet, as if written for me.9
I deserve to be the disinherited offspring of
the Ethiopian, and not the fruit of Sarah’s womb,10
in the prophet’s words, apt to me.11

I am the brother of Samaria and Gomorrah.12
I am a child unwashed and unsalted,
the unripe fruit of the unripe womb of Aholah
and Ahoblibah,13
doubly condemned by the Prophet Ezekiel.

D

And like one imperiled on the high seas,
tossed by waves whipped up by the winds,
I am in terror and torment,
swept away by the wild currents,
clawing with my fingers this way and that to hold on,
as if borne away in the torrents of a river
flooding in spring,
in an involuntary and pitiful downward course.
Gulping water, unable to breathe because of debris
I have swallowed,
foul, slimy, prickly seaweed,
dragging me into the pangs of death.
Like a drowning man, carried by the flow,
I am wretched:
They speak, but I do not understand.
They call, but I do not hear.
They shout, but I do not wake up.
They clamor, but I do not budge.
They trumpet, but I do not rally.
I am wounded, but I do not feel.
Like an abominable idol,
devoid of any sense of goodness,
my true essence is more evil
than this example,
more heinous and reprehensible,
deserving to be brought before the tribunal of Christ.

E

And since I leave readers this testament
recording my misdeeds along the path of no return,
that they might pray to God through my words
day by day,
may this book remain as a guide for repentance,
continuously lifted in voice to you, almighty Lord,
its letters like my body, its message like my soul.
May it always be present before you, O boundless God.
Accept my pleas as from an innocent petitioner,
compassionate God, who loves mankind,
blessed through all eternity.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Jer. 31:18.

  2 ...... Jas. 3:3-4.

  3 ...... Jn. 15:5.

  4 ...... Ps. 62 (Arm 61):2.

  5 ...... Mt. 11:28.

  6 ...... 2 Pet. 2:20-22.

  7 ...... Heb. 6:4-6.

  8 ...... Jn. 8:39-40.

  9 ...... Ezek. 16:2-3, 45.

  10 ...... Gen. 21:2.

  11 ...... Am. 9:7.

  12 ...... Ezek. 16:46

  13 ...... Ezek. 23:3-4.