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Prayer 86

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Have mercy, praiseworthy and long-suffering king,
upon all souls through these prayers
of grieving lamentation,
composed on various themes,
and have mercy especially on those souls
who are cut off from the hope of salvation
who have died unprepared,
with lamps extinguished for lack of oil.1
Remember, then, my compassionate Lord,
and consider me justified in this request also,
for in your splendid and awe-inspiring majesty
you combined opposites in the make-up of man,
a little gravity, a little levity,
on the one hand coolness, on the other heat,
so that by keeping the opposites in balance,
we might be called just,
because of this faithful equality.
And however virtuous we might be judged
on this account, when transported upward,
we should bear in view that we are made of humble clay
and accept the crown of tribulation.
But since we violated your commandment of the
Old Testament
and following our earthly nature, strayed like animals,
we were laid low and bound to the earth,2
in some instances by disease, and others by cruelty,
some by gluttony and passions,
as if a ravenous beast is joined to our nature.

Sometimes one of four primary elements,
lunges forward 3 and uncontrollably, savagely and
relenlessly raises its head.
And though warmed by the fervor of our love for you
and by token of your spark which is in us,
the coldness that is its constant companion,
extinguishes it, disrupting the good.4
And although we ascend to you with the
airy ways of angels, the weight and density of
our first element, earth,5
holds us down, and hinders us.6

B

And now, defeated on all fronts and completely forsaken,
like a feeble cripple, I am rejected, I am banished that
I might perish.
Worn down by the multitude of blows, I was
captured by death and deprived of grace.
I seek mercy with a shameful face.
I, who have committed all manner of sin,
pray for all the dead living in you.7
For you are able, with infinite ingenuity,
to save dying mortals like me.
For you everything is possible.
Especially since you have power that knows no limits,
and you take delight in exercising your will for good.
Therefore, when these two illustrious and
renewing graces come together – power and will –
the despair that afflicts the race of sinners is lifted away
and the light of your good news arrives
with your prescription to heal our souls,
Lord of all, blessed forever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Mt. 25:8.

  2 ...... Gen 8:21, Ps. 44 (Arm. 43):26.

  3 ...... St. Gregory refers here to the elements of classical cosmography: earth, air, fire and water.

  4 ...... Rom. 7:14-25.

  5 ...... Gen. 2:7, 3:19.

  6 ...... Rom. 7:14-25.

  7 ...... Lk. 20:37-38.