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Prayer 79

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Remember, Lord, Lord of mercies,
who loves justice, true God,
to look again upon me in my ever erring
human condition.
Check again the circulation of my blood
throughout my body.
Like a physician examine me,
for I am a man possessed of an unripe mind filled
with faulty thoughts
as you yourself know, seer of the non-existent,1 for you
alone are devoid of the darkness of falsehood.
This is why it is more proper to record me
among sinners,
I who repeatedly succumb to the weaknesses of
human frailty
like all other mortals born of the flesh on earth,
otherwise your word might appear false.2
For you indeed know that
“they were made evil and their wickedness is innate,
and their way of thinking will never change,” 3
as the learned man, wise in the ways of the soul,
observed long ago in his writings.

B

Ease the severity of the torment
that awaits me and
those children of hell, the ornaments of eternal death.4
Lift away my shameful sins
that are kept to reprimand me, wretch that I am,
at the tribunal of the last judgment.

Let it be for my peace that my punishment has already been given by your mercy,5
so that unbearable terror does not loom before me
and hopelessness might not overwhelm
life-giving contrition.

Terrifying day of judgment,
judge that cannot be bought or deceived,
awful shame, fearsome rebuke,
inescapable reprimand, unavoidable torment,
terror that cannot be comforted,
trembling that cannot be stilled,
inconsolable weeping, incurable gnashing of teeth,6
untreatable disease,
the curse of your awesome divine word,7
the shutting down of compassion, cutting off of mercy.
At the time when the heavens will be rolled up
like a scroll8
and the earth will be shaken to its very foundations,
and billowing waves of the tempestuous sea,
pursue each other, crash against each other and
counteract each other’s force,
jolting and shaking
the foundations of the earth’s thick surface
across its expanse
with forceful blows to its very core
and with thunderous sound,
laying the mountains low,
and melting the substance of stone with fire,
with all the other elements of nature at that time:

then the heavens will be cleared in purity
and the creatures together with all their elements
will be recreated in new form
and our hidden misdeeds will be made known9
and our invisible passions will be revealed
the conduct of each person’s inner beliefs
will be displayed on our bodies10
and the king of heaven will sit at his tribunal
with the due sentence in his hands.11

C

Woe to me, sevenfold woe!
An endless perdition in the measure of this cipher, seven,
that symbolizes the infinity of numbers.12
What shall my pitiful soul do on the solemn day of peril?
For the thought of what lies ahead is worse than the event itself.
As one of the prophets vividly wrote,
it is as if one were to escape from the clutches of a lion,
only to run into a bear,
and fleeing the bear,
you enter a house and lean against the wall,
only to have a hand bitten by a snake.13
And he makes the situation yet more terrifying,
saying, “Indeed, the Day of the Lord is darkness” 14
“That Day is gloom and darkness, a day of clouds and thick fog.” 15

D

When the guardian angel who is our companion
for life,16
accuses us like a stern official
and the awesome judge justly reprimands us,
the king’s servants rush about without delay,
inviting some to life and condemning others to shame,
showing to some a cheerful face,
but to me appearing fearsome and horrifying.
To some they shall offer a halo of glistening light,
and others mortal perdition.
To the just, the voice of good news,
but to me, the sad news of endless grief.
When for the good, the victory of death itself expires,17
for me, wayward soul, it is repeatedly extended.
At that point knocking at the door will do no good,
for my quota of mercy will have run out.18

There, when the amazing and miraculous book is
opened, showing all manner of hitherto hidden
acts done by mankind and
the conduct of our human nature,
for which reason all beings were created,
then upon each body all this shall be manifest in full,19
so that before our eyes shall ineffably appear,20
that which is sealed away from the comprehension of this world.
Here, heaven can be found at the cost of lamentations and tears,
there, these are despised and rejected like so much untimely vanity.
The sighs of the heart that are not delivered now
will not be accepted later.
Kindness sparingly sown21
shall not light the way before us.
There, the loud-voiced accusers shall be
the ark against the lawless of the time of Noah,
and the Old Testament against those who
blasphemed the Lord, along with the awe-inspiring sign
of the cross against us now.
I will be accused
first for breaking the natural law of our earliest forbears,
second for dishonoring the tabernacle of worship to the invisible spirit, and
third for the blood of great God.
And I also accuse myself.
How shall I be consoled when my hope is cut short?
For if the forces of light, the ranks of the just,
who are glorified in benedictions, tremble in fear,
and cannot bear the terrifying face of the great judge,
how shall I come before him, miserable wretch that I am,
a disinherited son condemned to death,
who does not expect a halo
but unbearable punishment
and endless ruin?

E

Hasten to extend your hand of salvation to me, for I am captured by the Destroyer,
Lord almighty beyond words, who gives all things.
For with your help, I might turn back from the
gates of hell, and properly armed, I might escape
punishment completely without harm,
seeing with my mind’s eye the things to come,
I am already sufficiently chastened
by the terrifying reports of awful tortures that await me.
By your good will, I might be saved unscathed,
and not thrown to the young lions,
who beg for me as food,
so they can devour me with their ferocious teeth
and fill their womb of death with me.
They, who have grown fat in this world,
will digest me and drag me away to the storehouse
of surplus sin, there to consume me forever in torment.
For you alone are able to wrest me from the
jaws of death, and deliver me to everlasting life and bliss,
refuge of all, king of light,
Lord Jesus Christ, blessed forever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Gen. 8:21.

  2 ...... Ps. 51 (Arm. 50):6.

  3 ...... Wis. 12:10.

  4 ...... Mt. 23:15.

  5 ...... Is. 53:5.

  6 ...... Mt. 25:30.

  7 ...... Mt. 25:41.

  8 ...... Rev. 6:14.

  9 ...... Is. 65:17, Rev. 21:1,5.

  10 ...... Lk. 8:17.

  11 ...... Mt. 25:31.

  12 ...... Rev. 8:13 (in the Middle Ages, the number 7 was associated with infinity).

  13 ...... Am. 5:19.

  14 ...... Am. 5:18, 20.

  15 ...... Zeph. 1:15.

  16 ...... Ps. 34 (Arm. 33):7.

  17 ...... 1 Cor. 15:54-55, Rev. 20:14.

  18 ...... Mt. 25:11-13, Lk. 13:25.

  19 ...... 1 Cor. 3:13.

  20 ...... Rev. 20:12.

  21 ...... 2 Cor. 9:6.