Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: Narek - A Path Of Salvation

St. Gregory Narekatsi (b 950AD) is a doctor of the Armenian Church.  He was banished by local political authorities and lived out much of his life as a monk in exile, in hiding.  His book of prayers, “The Book of Lamentation,” (called Narek by Armenians) is deep in theological verse and confusing to many.  It is said to describe the path to perfection.  St. Gregory was recently declared a doctor of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Francis.
This book is an analysis of Narek’s words, and the only recently published book on Amazon.  I am sure the analysis simplifies, yet it too is very deep.  “Each prayer-chapter of Narek (includes) self-analysis and glorification of God.”  The self-analysis described therein is often deeply degrading, but “once we see us as God sees us, we turn into a new person.”  There is much written in Narek about humility, penance, and of living others’ pain.
One line of the book, in particular, deeply impacted me:  “The repentance of Narek leads us to the acknowledgement of our own sins in ratio with God’s holiness.”  I perceived Narek as seeing God’s holiness as a picture of perfection, like a white sheet of paper.  Sin is a black dot on that white sheet which, whether large or small, destroys that perfection.  Sin and perfection cannot exist together.  Narek wants us to see that there is no “ratio” between our sins and God’s holiness.  There is no “little” sin.  Thus St. Gregory often describes himself as disgusting, and his sins as ruining the chance for the ultimate union of himself and God.
You can read this short 88-page book in an hour, or a year.


  1. The book os truly a gem. But it is in dire need of editing. The writer uses "duel" for "dual" (I think more than once), occasionally omits the definite article, and often expresses herself in a confusing manner. For example, writing of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the author says, "... she is the Queen of Heaven, for she is a Mother of God impersonating the whole beauty of the Holy Spirit." "A" Mother of God? Are here others? "Impersonating" the beauty of the Holy Spirit? Obviously (from everything she writes in the rest of the book) the author accepts the truth that Mary is THE (one and only) Mother of God. And just as obviously, the author doesn't believe that Mary is IMPERSONATING anyone. She likely means that Mary incorporates into her person the beauty of the Holy Spirit. The book is in serious need of some serious editing. That said, the book in general is well worth the effort to decipher.

    1. Of course, you are right in your comments, however I just assumed any further editing would not be forthcoming, and so offered no comment on the subject. I guessed that the poor wording came either from the poor English of the author and/or that of the translator, who because of the depth of the topic may have translated the author's words literally, word for word.