Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Seventh Prayer, Of St. Symeon the New Theologian

From lips tainted and defiled,
From a heart unclean and loathsome,
From a tongue befouled and filthy,
From a soul bestained and soiled,

O my Christ, receive my pleading
Yea, disdain me not, nor shun me,
Nor my words, nor yet my manner,
Nor my shamelessness and boldness.

But with freedom let me tell Thee,
O my Christ, what I desire;
Rather, do Thou now instruct me
What I need to do and utter.

I have sinned more than the harlot
Who, on learning of Thy lodging,
Went and purchased myrrh most precious,
And with boldness she approached Thee,
To anoint Thy feet and lave them,
O my Christ, my God and Master.

Even as Thou didst not shun her
When she came with heartfelt fervor,
Thus, O Word, do not disdain me.

Nay, but rather do Thou grant me
To embrace Thy feet and kiss them,
And with streams of tears to wash them,
As with precious myrrh most costly,
With great boldness to anoint them.

Wash me with my tears, and thereby
Cleanse me, Word of God, and lave me.

Grant remission of my failings,
And bestow on me forgiveness.

All mine evil deeds Thou knowest,
And my wounds Thou knowest also,
And my bruises Thou beholdest.

But my faith Thou knowest likewise,
And mine eagerness Thou seest,
And my groans Thou hearest also.

There doth not escape Thy notice
Even one tear, O Redeemer,
Nor a fraction of a teardrop,
O my Lord God and Creator.

Yea, Thine eyes did see my being
While as yet it was unfashioned.

In Thy Book all thoughts and actions,
Even those not yet enacted,
Are inscribed for Thee already.

See my lowliness and toil!
Lo, the greatness of my suffering!
And, O God of all, forgive me
All the sins I have committed.

So that with a cleansed and pure heart,
And a mind with fear atremble,
And a soul contrite and lowly,
I may draw nigh to partake of
Thine all-pure and spotless Myst'ries,
Whereby all who eat and drink Thee
With a heart sincere and guileless
Are both deified and quickened.

For Thou sayest, O my Master:
He that eateth of my Flesh and
That doth drink of My Blood also
Doth abide in Me most truly,
And in him am I found also.

Wholly true is this word spoken
By my Lord and God and Master;
For whoever doth partake of
These divine and hallowed graces
Which impart deification
Is alone, in truth, no longer,
But is with Thee, Christ, Thou True Light
Of the Hallowed, Triple Daystar,
Which illumineth the whole world.

Lest, then, I remain alone now
And apart from Thee, Lifegiver,
O my Breath, my Life, my Gladness,
The entire world's Salvation,
For this cause do I approach Thee
With a soul contrite and tearful.

O Thou Ransom of my failing,
I entreat Thee to receive me,
So that I may now partake of
Thy life-giving, blameless Myst'ries,
And not suffer condemnation; That as Thou didst say, Thou mightest
Dwell with me, who am thrice-wretched;
Lest that foul deceiver find me
All bereft of Thy divine grace,
And most guilefully seduce me,
And with scheming cunning lure me
From Thy words which make me Godlike.

Wherefore, I fall down before Thee,
And cry out to Thee with fervor:
As Thou didst receive and welcome
Both the prodigal and harlot
Who drew nigh to Thee, so likewise,
O Most Merciful, receive me,
The great profligate and sinner,
The most prodigal and vile one,
As I dare now to approach Thee
With a soul contrite and humbled.

Savior, well I know that no one
Hath sinned as have I against Thee,
Nor hath wrought the deeds which I have.

Yet again, I know this also:
Neither greatness of transgressions,
Nor enormity in sinning,
Can surpass my God and Savior's
Great long-suffering and mercy
And exceeding love for mankind.

For with the oil of compassion
Thou dost cleanse and render shining
All those who repent with fervor;
And Thou makest them partakers
Of Thy light in all abundance,
And true sharers of thy Godhood.

And--O marvel for the Angels
And for human understanding!--
Thou hast converse with them often
As with friends most true and trusted.

These things now do give me daring,
These things give me wings, O Christ God;
Trusting, then, in the abundance
Of Thy benefactions toward us,
With rejoicing, yet with trembling,
I partake now of the Fire.

Though but grass--O awesome wonder!--
Yet bedewed am I past telling,
Like that bush of old on Sinai
Which was unconsumed, though burning.

[Therefore], with a mind most thankful,
And a heart most thankful also,
Thankful also in the members
Of my soul and of my body,
I adore and magnify Thee,
O my God, and glorify Thee,
As One verily most blessed,
Now and ever, to all ages.

(Taken from The Service of Preparation for Holy Communion, transl. by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Mass., 2006)


Elizabeth said...

These prayers, though so familiar, still fill my heart with holy anticipation, fear and intense love every time I read them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sir.
I would like to be more detailed in my offering, but the words are too gaunt. ♰