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Prayer 77

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Since today is a blessed day,
when morning came twice dividing day into
equal parts,1
when the passing creatures of the earth
were transformed into a different and heavenly immutable beings,2
when the high were laid low and the
humble raised up,3
making this the most awesome day of Lent, Holy Friday,
when it is fitting for me to write
this prayer voicing joy mixed with terror, therefore
I think it appropriate to speak now of
the suffering you endured for me, God of all.

B

You stood, with my nature, before a tribunal of
your creatures,4 and did not speak, giver of speech.
You did not utter a word, creator of tongues.
You did not release your voice, shaker of the world.
You did not make a sound, trumpet of majesty.
You did not answer back with accounts of
your good deeds.
You did not silence them with their wrongs.
You did not deliver your betrayer to death.
You did not struggle when bound.
You did not squirm when whipped.
You did not fight back when spat upon.
You did not resist when beaten.
You did not take affront when mocked.
You did not frown when ridiculed.

They stripped you of your cloak, as from a weakling,
and dressed you like a condemned prisoner.5
If my Lord had not been forced twice to drink vinegar and gall,6 he would not have been able to cleanse me of the accumulated bile of our forefathers.7
He tasted heartbreak and did not waver.
They dragged him violently and brought him
back disrespectfully.
They condemned him, humiliated him by flogging
before a motley crowd.
They knelt before him in ridicule
and put a crown of disdain upon his head.

C

They gave you no rest, Life-giver,
even forcing you to bear the instrument of your death.
You accepted with forbearance.
You received it with sweetness.
You bore it with patience.
You submitted to the wooden cross of grief,
like one condemned.
Like a lily of the field, you shouldered the
weapon of life,8
so that your throne in my body might be protected
against the terrors of the night9
turning the last judgment into a joyful banquet.
They led him out like a sacrificial lamb.
They hung him like Isaac’s ram whose horns were caught in the thicket.10
They spread him on the table of the cross like a sacrifice.
They nailed him like a common criminal.

They persecuted you, like an outlaw, treating
you in your serenity, like a bandit,11
you in your majesty, like a miserable wretch,
you who are adored by cherubim,
       like a despised man,12
you who are the definition of life, like one
       deserving of a slaughter,
you, the author of the Gospels, like one
       who blasphemed the Law,13
you, the Lord and the fulfillment of the prophets,
       like one who cut the Scriptures,14
you, the radiance of glory and the image of
              the mystery of the Father, beyond mortal
       understanding, as if you are the adversary
              of the will of him who bore you,15
you who are blessed, like someone banished,
you who came to release the bonds of the Law,
       like a heretic,16
you, the consuming fire, like a
       condemned prisoner,17
you who inspire awe in heaven and earth,
              like one deserving punishment,18
you, covered in unapproachable light, like
       some earthly quarry.19

D

O, sweet Lord,
forbearing doer of good, merciful and compassionate,
Lord of all, who for the sake of infirm and unruly
servants like me submitted to everything willingly
according to your plan
together with your perfectly human body,
submitted even to the sleepy tomb of the sepulchre,
who lack nothing of divine perfection, being identical with
God who is beyond human understanding,
yet bore human indignity with patience beyond words,
you rose with your body, alive and of your own power,
in exalted light, with undiminished humanity
and flawless divinity.
You are blessed for your glory
praised for your compassion,
and always exalted for your mercy,
forever and ever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Zech. 14:7, Mk. 15:33.

  2 ...... Mt. 27:51-52.

  3 ...... Rev. 21:1.

  4 ...... Mt. 26:57-66, 27:11-26, Lk. 23:8-12.

  5 ...... Mt. 27:28-31, Mk. 15:20.

  6 ...... Mt. 27:34, Mk. 15:23, Mt. 27:48, Jn. 19:29; St. Gregory changes to the third person singular here, after addressing the first part of his prayer in the second person to Christ.

  7 ...... Cf. Adam’s original sin.

  8 ...... S. of S. 2:1, Mt. 6:28.

  9 ...... Sleep is the analog of death upon which there is judgment.

  10 ...... Gen. 22:13.

  11 ...... Mt. 26:55.

  12 ...... Is. 53:3.

  13 ...... Mt. 26:65-66.

  14 ...... Mt. 5:17.

  15 ...... Heb. 1:3.

  16 ...... Gal. 3:13.

  17 ...... Dt. 4:24.

  18 ...... Is. 53:4.

  19 ...... 1 Tim. 6:16.