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Prayer 5

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

And now, I, earthbound
and preoccupied with the cares of everyday existence,
numbed by the deceitful wine of foolishness,1
I, who lie in all things and am truthful in none,
marked with these faults,
how shall I come before your judgment, Just Judge,
terrible beyond words and telling, mighty God of all?
The more I compare my sinful ingratitude with your
loving-kindness,
the more I prove that your law is always stronger,
and my lawlessness, always defeated.

B

You made me in your glorious image,2
favoring a weak being like me
with your sublime likeness,
adorning me with speech,
and burnishing me with your breath,
enriching me with thought,
cultivating me with wisdom,
establishing me with ingenuity,3
setting me apart from the animals,
endowing my character with a thinking soul,
embellishing me with a sovereign individuality,
giving birth as a father, nurturing as a nurse,
caring for me as a guardian,
You sowed a wayward being in your courtyard,4
irrigated me with the water of life,5
cleansed me with the dew of the baptismal fount,
nourished me with heavenly bread,
quenched my thirst with your blood,
acquainted me with the impalpable and
unreachable,
emboldened my earthly eyes to seek you,
embraced me in your glorious light,
permitted my unclean earthly hands to
make offerings to you,
honored my base, mortal ashes,
like a flicker of light,
imprinted upon a worthless wretch like me
       your father’s image, awesome and blessed,
out of your love for mankind.

C

You did not scald my mouth for daring to
       call myself your co-heir,
did not reprimand me for arrogantly
       associating with you,
did not darken the sight of my eyes for
       gazing upon you,
did not exile me in shackles with
       those condemned to death,
did not break the wrist of my arm for
       improperly reaching to you,
did not crack the digits of my fingers for
       touching the word of life,6
did not engulf me with fog for dedicating this
       to you, fearsome Lord,7
did not crush the rows of my teeth for
       chewing your communion, infinite Lord,
did not turn in anger as I did with you,
       as with the stubborn house of Israel,
did not dishonor me at your wedding party,
       I, who am unworthy of singing and dancing,
did not scold me for my disheveled clothes,
       I, who am disorderly,
did not cast me into the dark, my hands and
       feet shackled.8

D

And I exchanged all these portions of
goodness, patience and forgiveness from you,
O beneficent, blessed and always-tolerant God,
for all manner of waywardness of the flesh and the ego,
for the wavering passions of the mind and the
diversions of worldliness.
Yes, that is how, my God and Lord, I repaid you for
your abundant goodness.
Thus did I offer you evil in the manner of
Moses’ ingratitude.9
Abandoning wisdom and pursuing foolishness,
thus did I foully dissipate the bounty of your favor with the ways of vanity,
thus in a storm of mindlessness did I lose the beacon of your ineffable grace glowing with your care,
God most high.

E

And although on many occasions you attempted
to draw me to you by reaching out your helping hand,
I rejected it, as the prophet accused Israel.10
And although I promised and made a
covenant to please you,
I did not keep it,11
but again perverted it into something evil.
Reverting to my old ways,
I sowed the field of my heart with thorns of
sin for a harvest of dissension.
The words of the God-fearing holy prophet apply to me,
for you expected grapes but instead I sprouted thorns.
I became an unappetizing fruit of bitterness,
outcast from the garden.
Swaying violently in unsteady winds,
always blowing to and fro, I wavered.
Like the voice of blessed Job, I followed my
path of no return.12
I built my house upon the sands in foolishness.13
Misled by the broad gate, I missed the
narrow gate to life.14
I closed myself off from the pilgrimage of exodus.
I spitefully uncovered the abyss of destruction.
I blocked my hearing against your teaching of life.
I covered the eyes of my soul against the cure of life.
I did not recoil from the wasting of the mind from torpor,
in spite of your trumpet of wrath.
I was not sobered by the reports of the fiery trial,
on the day of judgment.15
I did not awaken from the slumber of mortal sleep.
I did not give comfort to your Holy Spirit in my
bodily tabernacle.
I did not inhale the allotment of grace you granted me.
With my own hand I wreaked havoc, in the words of the proverb teller,
killing my living soul.16

F

And what is the use of composing these meager and
paltry verses
in my state of remorse which passes all measure and evades all cure?
Now it is up to you to offer life to my dead soul
and without vengeance to visit me,
a condemned prisoner,
O Son of the Living God, to you be all glory.
Amen.

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Notes
  1 ...... Ps. 60:3 (Arm. 59:5).

  2 ...... Gen. 1:26-27.

  3 ...... Ex. 31:3.

  4 ...... Ps. 92:13 (Arm. 91:14).

  5 ...... Jn. 7:38.

  6 ...... 1 Jn. 1:1.

  7 ...... 1 Kg. 8:10-12.

  8 ...... Mt. 22:12-13.

  9 ...... Dt. 32:5-6.

  10 ...... Jer. 6:8.

  11 ...... Ps. 78:10 (Arm. 77:10).

  12 ...... Job 16:22.

  13 ...... Mt. 7:26.

  14 ...... Mt. 7:13.

  15 ...... Mt. 24:31, Rev. 21:8.

  16 ...... Wis. 1:15-16.