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Prayers of the Ark

By Lanza del Vasto


For more resources, visit Mark Shepard’s Peace Page at
www.markshep.com/peace

Posted on Mark Shepard’s Peace Page by permission of the Community of the Ark.


The Fire Prayer
O God of Truth
The Prayer of the Artisan

Following are prayers written by Lanza del Vasto, founder of the nonviolent, interreligious Community of the Ark, located in the mountains of southern France. The first two prayers are said often at the Ark, while the third is one with special personal appeal. (The translation for that third one is from my own limited French, so reader beware!)

Mark Shepard


The Fire Prayer

We are all strangers and pilgrims.
Let us light a fire at the crossroads
To call on the name of the Lord.
Let us close the circle and make a temple in the wind.
Let us make, of where we chance to be, a temple.
For the time has come to worship in spirit and in truth,
To give thanks in every place and at all times.
Let us set a term to time, a center to outer darkness,
And make ourselves present at the present.
The present we pursued in vain throughout our days,
For it was far from us at its time of being.
Now, here it is, before our eyes and in our hearts, the present.
Fire is the present burning and shining, the present praying.
Fire is the sacrifice of what burns, warmth of life and joy to see.
Fire is the death of dead things and their return to the light.
Fire of joy! Suffering and joy within each other.
Love is the joy of suffering.
Fire is life and death within each other,
Appearance being consumed and substance appearing.
Let us sing glory in the tongue of fire, evident and clear to all men.
And you, passersby on the road of the four winds,
Step into the round and put your hands in ours.
Blow on us, Lord! Blow our prayer into flame,
So that our hearts of sticks and thorns and their fickle spark of life
May somehow serve thy glory.

AMEN


O God of Truth

O God of Truth,
Whom various men name by various names,
But who art One, Unique, and the Same,
Who art That-which-is,
Who art in all that is
And in the union of all who come together,
Who art in the heights and in the abyss,
In the heavens without end and the heart’s secret shade
Like a tiny seed.

Praised be Thou, Lord, for our prayer fulfilled,
Since this our prayer is its own fulfillment,
Since by addressing Thee together, Lord,
We elevate our will, purify our desire,
And are of one accord.

What more need we ask if that is granted?
What more need we ask, unless that it should last, Eternal God,
All through our days and through our nights?
What more, unless to love Thee enough to love
All those who pray to Thee as we do,
Enough to love those who pray and think in other ways,
Enough to wish good to those who wish us evil,
Enough to wish good to those who deny Thee or know Thee not,
The good of return to Thee.

Give us understanding of thy law, Almighty God,
Fill us with marveling and merciful respect
For every living thing,
Love with no reverse of hate,
The Strength and Joy of Peace.

AMEN


The Prayer of the Artisan

Teach me, Lord, to make good use of the time you give me for working, and to spend it well without wasting any. Teach me to profit from my past mistakes without letting self-doubt consume me. Teach me to visualize the plan without tormenting myself, to imagine the work without feeling desolate if it turns out otherwise. Teach me to unite haste and gradualness, serenity and fervor, zeal and peace. Help me in the commencement of my work, that in which I am most weak. Help me in the midst of labor to grasp tightly the thread of attention. And above all, Lord, fill with thine own hands the gaps in my work.

Lord, in every labor of my hands leave a grace of thine to speak to others, and a fault of mine to tell me of myself. Keep in me the hope of perfection, without which I would lose heart. Keep in me the incapability of perfection, without which I would lose myself in pride. Purify my sight: When I do badly, it is not certain that it is bad, and when I do well, it is not certain that it is good. Lord, never let me forget that all knowledge is vain save where there is work. And that all work is empty save where there is love. And that all love is hollow that does not bind me to myself, to others, and to Thee.

Lord, teach me to pray with my hands, my arms, and all my strength. Remind me that the work of my hands belongs to Thee, and that to me belongs its returning to Thee, in the giving of it. That if I create from a taste for profit, like a forgotten fruit I will spoil in the autumn. That if I create to please others, like the meadow flower I will fade in the evening. But if I create for love of the good, I will dwell in the good. And the time to create well and to thy glory is right now.

Amen.