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Prayer 83

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Exalted and inscrutable, terrifying power,
lord of creation, king of heaven,
creator of angels, who fashioned the spirits,
and made the fiery beings,
good chief of souls, helping hand,1
tranquil repose, vision of enlightenment,2
brightness of bliss, path to beatitude,
cause of life, source of intelligence,
salvation without evil, guide to peace,
rampart of strength, bulwark of protection,
wall of the great fire of blessing,3 definition
of unvengeful,4
remember the lamentations and confessions in this book,
for those of the human race who are our enemies as well,
and for their benefit accord them pardon and mercy.

Do not be angry at them for my sake, Lord,
as if they blasphemed the saints,
on account of your love which is upon me,
but rather treat them as if they are reprimanding evil and justly rebuke me,
while forgiving them their transgressions.
For when we both appear before you, just judge,
perhaps some of those who have harmed me
have sinned little
and justly spoken against me,
whereas I have committed innumerable and
immeasurable breaches of my vows,
with respect to you, generous Lord.

B

Remember your greatness, Lord,
when looking upon my lowliness.
And while I petition you to do good to my enemies,
you in your magnanimity beyond words
show your miraculous favor toward them who are
also your enemies.5
Do not destroy those who persecute me, but
reform them,
root out the vile ways of this world,
and plant the good in me and them,
especially since you are light and hope,
and I am darkness and foolishness.
You are true good, praiseworthy Lord,
and I am thoroughly evil and helpless.
You are the Lord of everything on earth and in
the heavens, and I do not control my breath or spirit.
You are exalted, free of any needs,
and I am in pain and peril.
You are above all the passions of earth,
and I am base, disgusting clay.
In the words of the prophet:
you endure in perpetual infinity on high
and I continuously perish.6
In you there is neither darkness nor deceit,
and in me, they are complete,
since I have wasted my inheritance of goodness.

Take me out of my prison and free me from my bonds.7
Remove my chains and rescue me from drowning.
Free me from anxiety and release me from my irons.
Deliver me from preoccupations and banish my doubts.
Console my sadness and calm my vexation.
Dispel my afflictions and quiet my agitation.
Cure me of my tears and stop my sighing.
Drive away my lamentations and heal my sobbing.

God of mercy and giver of sweetness,
do not despise me, whom you have redeemed with your almighty blood.
Do not condemn me to a place of perdition.
Prop me up for I have reached the shores of death8
through all manner of fatal illness.

C

Look how through the seasons of my life
my vain acts have piled up and accrued,
for from the day I appeared on this earth,
I have been good for nothing,
and in the field of my mother’s womb
I was a sprouting thorn bush of sin.
Nevertheless, do not be a wounding sting for me,
as you were for the house of Judah or the descendants
of Ephraim.9
And since I sowed in my soul
weeds that prick, poison that numbs me,
instead of the good seeds of wheat,10
as the Scriptures say, which are older than the Gospels,11
why should I not call my soul a foul field,
choking with the accursed thorns of sin?12
I did not sow justice, as Hosea said,
so why should I reap and gather the fruit of life?13
I lost the pure innocence of my soul,
as the prophet said of Israel:14
Now can you restore it, Lord?
I spread forth and opened the bed of my will
to the demons of lust, in the wayward ways of Judah.15
It is in your hands to restore that innocence.

D

If the union of the prostitute with the prophet16
purified her, how much more, Savior,
will our spiritual union purify me?
If the inanimate sun which you created,
provider of the earth, dries the foul swamps
and brings the immature fruits to ripeness,
then you, Creator of all, Holy Spirit of God,
how much more can you flush away the silt of
my wrongdoing and cleanse the foul pus of
my accumulated sin?

For this reason I hasten in this prayer to ask that
you do good to those who hate me,
so that you, blessed compassion, would not reject me,
though I am deserving of death for my mortal sins and
you should banish me from your all-protecting sight.

Give me life, although I have sinned in all ways,
with every part of my body
and the conduct of my soul, give me life
that I might contemplate only that which is
pleasing to you.
To seek benefits for those who have done good is
the law of nature, an instinctive urge.
And indeed, all manner of people are capable
of following this first rule.
But the second, that is, to pray for your enemies
with the care of the first, comes close to
being the divine.17
For this reason, I presented the second first,
that is praying for my enemies
before asking favor for the good.

E

Remember twice those
who, in your exalted name,
accepted me, unworthy soul that I am,
and give them, most generous Lord, doer of good,
without spite, the reward of the just and the prophets.18
Although I may be devoid of virtues forever,
considering the belief and by the hope and expectation,
they in their reasonable judgment have regarded
those like me, a slave to sin,
as if I had a secret compartment in my soul
filled with your life-giving relics.

Approaching me with your infinite compassion,
cleanse me, whose sins cannot be hidden from your sight
or from your unerring judgment.
Thus protect me from being shamefully condemned
before the tribunal of the universe.

And as those whom you love, those who for your sake
see your glory reflected on me, unworthy though I am,
for they look upon my fine vestments
without knowing the defects they conceal
and call me in my pitiful state “blessed,”
may you, ingenious, bountiful, content
Lord, who loves mankind, with infinite mercy,
for the sake of the sighs of my most wretched soul,
settle with them according to their faith.
On the terrible day of judgment,
when everything is tried and the good are separated from the bad,19
offer and grant them your incorruptible glory
and your never fading crown.20

F

You are the guarantee of salvation for a starving slave like me,
made worthy by the Word, your gift,21
to be redeemed for the benefits of heaven22
by the largesse of your endless and priceless treasure.

Lead me beside the still waters.23
Erect in me like a monument, unchanging God,
a ready assurance.
Establish in me, praised Lord, a sincere and
unshakable hope.
Accord me, you who provide everything, an
impartial defense.
In my unsteadiness, accord me the tranquility of virtue,
in my doubt, the solace of enlightenment,
in my mourning, great happiness,
in my weariness, hope to live,
in my abandonment, steadfast help,
in my retreat, return without stumbling.
For all of this is yours, and all of this is from you,
and through you are distributed the necessities of
all creation,
and to you is fitting glory,
forever and ever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Ps. 73 (Arm 72):23.

  2 ...... Mt. 11:28-29.

  3 ...... Zech. 2:5.

  4 ...... Hos. 11:9.

  5 ...... Lk. 6:27-28.

  6 ...... Ps. 102 (Arm. 101):26-27.

  7 ...... Ps. 142 (Arm. 141):7, Lk. 13:16.

  8 ...... Is. 38:1.

  9 ...... Hos. 5:12.

  10 ...... Job 31:40.

  11 ...... Mt. 13:25.

  12 ...... Is. 5:6; Mt. 13:7.

  13 ...... Hos. 10:12.

  14 ...... Ezek. 23:3.

  15 ...... Is. 57:8.

  16 ...... Hos. 1:3.

  17 ...... Mt. 5:46-48.

  18 ...... Mt. 10:41.

  19 ...... Mt. 25:32.

  20 ...... 1 Pet. 5:4, 1 Cor. 9:25.

  21 ...... Mt. 28:18-20.

  22 ...... Lk. 19:13.

  23 ...... Ps. 23 (Arm. 22):2.