St. Gregory of Narek (950-1003-10011) Armenian monk, theologian, mystical and lyrical poet.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart A Here is my profession of faith, here,1 the yearnings of my wretched breath to you who constitute all things with your Word, God. What I have discoursed upon before, I set forth again, these written instructions and interpretations for the masses of different nations. I offer these prayers of intercession in the thanksgiving prayer below.
B I pray to your unchanging, almighty Spirit: Send the dew of your sweetness upon my soul to rule over the impulses of my senses. Send the all-filling gifts of your merciful grace and cultivate the reasoning fields hardened by my heart, that they might bear the fruit of your spiritual seeds. All gifts that flourish and grow with us, Teacher, come from your all-encompassing wisdom.2 You who laid hands on the apostles, filled the prophets, taught the teachers, made the speechless speak, and opened the ears of the deaf. You, of the same family as the first and only begotten Son of your consubstantial Father, carry all this out through your mutual effort. You proclaimed as the co-equal of your Father, grant me, a sinner, to speak boldly of the life-giving, mystery of the good news of your Gospel, that I might follow with soaring mind, the infinite course of the inspired breath of your testament. And when I embark upon the solemn interpretation of the Word, send me first your compassion, and let it speak through me in a manner worthy, useful and pleasing to you, in glory and praise for your Godhead, and in the silence of the universal church. Extend over me your right hand, and fortify me with your grace. Clear my mind of the fog of forgetfulness, dispelling the darkness of sin, that I might rise above this earthly life through wisdom. May the dawn of that unobscured miracle, the knowledge of your Godliness, shine within me again, Almighty. To be worthy to do and teach and be an example of goodness for god-loving listeners. To you all glory in all things, with your Father almighty and your only begotten and benevolent Son, now and forever, without end. Amen. C The creed of the co-existing Holy Trinity, the rule of life and grace of salvation, I taught in the following way: We confess and profess, honor and worship the shared glory and unity of the Holy Trinity, Godhead beyond description, always good, of the same substance, equal in honor, beyond the flight of the wings of our thought, higher than all examples, beyond all analogies, surpassing the limits on high. Before the creation of eternal undifferentiated matter and the categories of creatures with blessing that cannot be translated, crowned forever with the richest greatness, setting time in motion and all that has taken shape as time unfolds, himself the cause and shaper of everything visible and invisible, who cannot be defined by name or denoted by label, nor likened in quality, nor weighed in quantity, nor formed by rules, nor known by kind, nor spread to exhaustion, nor occupying space, nor appearing in a place. D Father of compassion, God of the universe, creator of everything in heaven and on earth except the only begotten Word, through whom all things exist, creator and giver of breath to all things except for the consubstantial Holy Spirit, through whom you formed all else. E One of three glorified persons equal in power and awe, who descended from on high to here below, who was indeed by nature indistinguishable from those below, without relinquishing the throne of glory, without leaving the watchful gaze of the parent of love, merely entering the vessel of the virgin womb purely and coming out joined with a body inseparable in essence, without any flaw in his humanity and lacking nothing in divinity, one and only Son of the only Father and the first born of the Mother of God, Virgin Bearer of the Lord, creator becoming a true man as originally created, not in the fallen state of mortals, but new and splendid with the sublime glory of kings, not seen in the ages or existing in time. The first born, as the Psalmist said, higher than all the kings of earth,3 formed from an incorruptible combination like us in body, in the manner of the soul with body, and as gold with fire, or to put it more plainly, light in air, neither transformed nor separated. F He submitted himself willingly to the cross of death, like an innocent lamb led to slaughter,4 and girded himself with mighty self-discipline for the salvation of those he created. He truly suffered like a mortal. He was placed in a tomb with no special treatment for his divinity. On the third day, in the hell of Tartarus, he preached to the downcast captives and showed renewal and light. And having carried out his providential mission of redemption, he came back to life as God, and ruled on the wings of the winds, rising upon the Cherubim, covered in an inscrutable cloud.5 He ascended into heaven on high, sat in splendor upon the throne bequeathed to him from the beginning, equal with his Father, from whom he had never been separated, neither losing what had been acquired, nor diluting that which was his own. Therefore, he shall come to the judgment of retribution, examining the unseen with the scales of justice, for which we wait and pray with faith in his almighty Lordship over and through all, who truly is the only one of the only one in equal glory forever worshiped as one. G We always praise along with the Son and Father, the Holy Spirit, which is of the same essence, mighty, true, perfect and holy, who from nothing brought into existence everything that exists, who acts through itself and shares rule with the other two, in the same indestructible, boundless kingdom, who is the first cause, the awesome Word of his selfhood. And the same exalted Holy Spirit, good ruler, who dispenses the gifts of the Father, in praise of the name and the glory of the only begotten Son, who acted through the Laws and inspired the Prophets, with the encouragement of your co-equal Son commissioned your apostles.6 In the form of a dove you appeared at the River Jordan, for the greater glory of the one who had come, shone forth in the writings of the evangelists, created genius, strengthened the wise, filled the teachers, blessed the kingdom, assisted the kings, appointed the guardians, issued the decree of salvation, granted talents, prepared atonement,7 cleansed those baptized into Christ's death that you might dwell in them a sacrament performed jointly by the Father and Son with the Holy Spirit, who is God, honored as Lord, in all ways in all things. H Being named first among the Trinity does not make one greater than the other, or being named after the other, less than the rest, or by saying that they are one, that there is a confusion of persons, or by dividing into three, a separation of wills. For the Father would be diminished if he did not have the power of the Word so too if he did not have the Holy Spirit and was speechless, lifeless and deprived of any power to command. And the Word, if it were not known by the name of the Father, would be abandoned like some orphan or just another mortal being. Similarly the Holy Spirit, if not commissioned by its cause, would be vagabond, an unruly wind.8 I But if one presumes in a refutation to snatch the Father from his Word, on the ground that there was a time when the Word was not, believing that such speculations exalt the sublime greatness of the divine, or if one subordinates the Spirit which proceeds forth on the ground that it is not by nature spiritual, thereby introducing an alien being or some unstable mixture into the pure and sublime unity of the Holy Trinity, we must reject such persons from our midst. We must drive them away in disgrace with our confession of faith like a stoning of fierce demons or vicious beasts, and cast a curse upon their devilish lot, shutting the gates to the church of life in their face. While we glorify the Holy Trinity in the same lordship of unified equality, in parallel praise, uniform level, blessed on earth and in heaven, in the congregation of the nation of earthly thinking beings, now and forever. Amen. J Now, I offer to your all-hearing ears, almighty God, the secret thoughts in this book, and thus equipped, I venture forth in conversation, not with the idea that my voice could somehow exalt you, for before you created everything, before the creation of the heavens with the immortal choir of praise and the earthly thinking beings, you yourself in your perfection were already glorified, but still you permit me, a reject, to taste your indescribable sweetness, through the communion of words. And what good is it to mouth your royal command about "Adonai, Lord," and not carry it out.9 I destroyed with my own hand the golden tables of speech, dedicated to your message, written by the finger of God.10 That was true destruction. And I, with ashen-faced sorrow, now provide a second copy, made in its likeness. But now, since I have prayed much, in a voice of passionate and sincere praise, hear me, compassionate God, with this profession of faith. May the voice of this prayer be joined with those offered by clean worshipers obedient to your will so that this meager offering, a dry loaf of unleavened bread,11 might be served with oil upon your altar of glory. K But you, beneficent and charitable in all things, O Christ, of one God, mighty and powerful, who surpasses all with your sweet and caring compassion not only humanity in general and those like me who are susceptible to all manner of contrariness, but also the uncontaminated angels, and even the pure and saintly, who give praise. There was Elijah, for example,12 whose austere signs on Mt. Horeb were shown in three ways: a great earthquake, strong winds and burning fire. But you act in the mildness of patience and the calm peacefulness of the sweet air, for you alone, as the Scripture says, are the will of mercy.13 And although our kind found joy in virtue and otherwise adopted heavenly ways, still they were earthlings, though chosen among mankind. You, on the contrary, are not even capable of evil: You are good in your very essence and blessed in all things, salvation for all, tranquility in all, calm for all, cure for all disease, the fount of life-giving water in the words of Jeremiah.14 L Turn toward me and have mercy upon me, O God, who so thirsts, hungers and longs for my salvation. You have gone so far as to designate a heavenly host of blessed immortals, to act as priests and intercessors for man's salvation, so that on behalf of us earthly beings, for the reconciliation of the wretched and abandoned like me, they might perpetually pray for your great blessed mercy, with this light-giving phrase, "Have mercy upon Jerusalem," so that based upon your great revelation places left empty by the fallen angels, might be filled by human beings, who have joined you, in the manner of the earthly Jerusalem, about which you sent us good news.15 M Truly, you hear, kind God, You listen, king. You lent an ear, life and light. You paid attention, heavenly one. You respected us, almighty. You noted, knower of secrets. You saw, keeper. You empathized, Lord beyond telling. You humbled yourself, exalted one. You became meek, awesome one. You were revealed, Lord beyond words. You were defined, boundless one. You were measured, unexaminable one. You focused light, radiant one. You became human, incorporeal one. You became tangible, immeasurable one. You took shape, you who are beyond quality. You truly fulfilled the yearnings of those who pray to you. With the voice of the blissful,16 you were even for me, miserable soul that I am, a kind intercessor, a living mediator,17 an immortal offering, an endless sacrifice, a gift of purity, a priceless burnt offering, an inexhaustible cup. Merciful Lord, who loves mankind, may you always show the favor of your life-giving will and your long-suffering patience toward me, a sinner. To you glory forever. Amen.