Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prayer of the Day

To Our Lady of Sorrows

O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object. Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God.


Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Rom 6:19-23

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Saint of the Day

October 22

St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562)

Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.

Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.

Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."

In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.

As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.

He was canonized in 1669.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

(repeat antiphon*)

Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth,
and serve him with joy.
Exult as you enter his presence.

(repeat antiphon*)

Know that the Lord is God.
He made us and we are his
– his people, the sheep of his flock.

(repeat antiphon*)

Cry out his praises as you enter his gates,
fill his courtyards with songs.
Proclaim him and bless his name;
for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
his faithfulness through all the ages.

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

Psalm 17 (18)

The word of the Lord is a shield for all who believe in him.
The Lord’s ways are pure;
the words of the Lord are refined in the furnace;
the Lord protects all who hope in him.
For what God is there, but our Lord?
What help, but in the Lord our God?
God, who has wrapped me in his strength
and set me on the perfect path,
who has made my feet like those of the deer,
who has set me firm upon the heights,
who trains my hands for battle,
teaches my arms to bend a bow of bronze.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The word of the Lord is a shield for all who believe in him.
Psalm 17 (18)

Your right hand, Lord, holds me up.
You have given me the shield of your salvation;
your right hand holds me up;
by answering me, you give me greatness.
You have stretched the length of my stride,
my feet do not weaken.
I pursue my enemies and surround them;
I do not turn back until they are no more.
I smash them to pieces, they cannot stand,
they fall beneath my feet.
You have wrapped me round with strength for war,
and made my attackers fall under me.
You turned my enemies’ backs on me,
you destroyed those who hated me.
They cried out, but there was no-one to save them;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not hear.
I have ground them up until they are dust in the wind,
trodden them down like the mud of the street.
You have delivered me from the murmurings of the people
and placed me at the head of the nations.
A people I do not even know serves me –
at a mere rumour of my orders, they obey.
The children of strangers beg for my favour;
they hide away and tremble where they hide.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Your right hand, Lord, holds me up.
Psalm 17 (18)

Long live the Lord! Praise to God my salvation!
The Lord lives, my blessed Helper.
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
God, you give me my revenge,
you subject peoples to my rule,
you free me from my enraged enemies.
You raise me up from those who attack me,
you snatch me from the grasp of the violent.
And so I will proclaim you among the nations, Lord,
and sing to your name.
Time and again you save your king,
you show your loving kindness to your anointed,
to David and his descendants for ever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Long live the Lord! Praise to God my salvation!
Uncover my eyes, Lord,
– and I will consider the wonders of your Law.

Reading Esther 5:1-8,7:1-10

On the third day, Esther, dressed in her royal robes, presented herself in the inner court of the palace, which was in front of the king’s apartments. He was seated on the royal throne in the Royal Hall, facing the door. No sooner had he seen Queen Esther standing in his court than she won his favour and he held out the golden sceptre he had in his hand to her. Esther approached and touched the end of it.

‘What is the matter, Queen Esther?’ the king said. ‘Tell me what you desire; even if it is half my kingdom, I grant it you.’ ‘Would the king be pleased’ Esther replied ‘to come with Haman today to the banquet I have prepared for him?’ The king said, ‘Tell Haman to come at once, so that Esther may have her wish.’

When the king and Haman were seated at the banquet with Queen Esther this second day, the king again said to Esther as they drank their wine, ‘Tell me what you request, Queen Esther? I grant it to you. Tell me what you desire; even if it is half my kingdom, it is yours for the asking.’ ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, O king,’ Queen Esther replied ‘and if it please your majesty, grant me my life – that is what I request; and the lives of my people – that is what I desire. For we are doomed, I and my people, to destruction, slaughter and annihilation; if we had merely been condemned to become slaves and servant-girls, I would have said nothing; but as things are, it will be beyond the means of the persecutor to make good the loss that the king is about to sustain.’ King Ahasuerus interrupted Queen Esther, ‘Who is this man?’ he exclaimed. ‘Where is he, the schemer of such an outrage?’ Esther replied, ‘The persecutor, the enemy? Why, this wretch Haman!’ Haman quaked with terror in the presence of the king and queen.

In a rage the king rose and left the banquet to go into the palace garden; while Haman, realising that the king was determined on his ruin, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. When the king returned from the palace garden into the banqueting hall, he found Haman huddled across the couch where Esther was reclining. ‘What!’ the king exclaimed. ‘Is he going to rape the queen before my eyes in my own palace?’ The words were scarcely out of his mouth than a veil was thrown over Haman’s face.” Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, was present. He said, ‘How convenient! There is that fifty-cubit gallows which Haman ran up for Mordecai, whose report saved the king’s life. It is all ready at his house.’ ‘Hang him on it’ said the king. So Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had erected for Mordecai, and the king’s wrath subsided.

Reading St Augustine's letter to Proba
We do not know how to pray as we ought

Perhaps you may still ask why St Paul said when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, since it is impossible that he or those to whom he wrote should not have known the Lord’s Prayer.

Yet Paul himself was not exempt from such ignorance. When, to prevent him from becoming swollen-headed over the greatness of the revelations that had been given to him, he was given in addition a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he asked the Lord three times to take it away from him. Surely that was not knowing to pray as he ought? For in the end he heard the Lord’s reply, telling him why even such a great saint’s prayer had to be refused: My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.

So when we are suffering afflictions that might be doing us either good or harm, we do not to know how to pray as we ought. But because they are hard to endure and painful, because they are contrary to our nature (which is weak) we, like all mankind, pray to have our afflictions taken from us. At least, though, we owe this much respect to the Lord our God, that if he does not take our afflictions away we should not consider ourselves ignored and neglected, but should hope to gain some greater good through the patient acceptance of suffering. For my power is at its best in weakness.

Scripture says this so that we should not be proud of ourselves if our prayer is heard, when we ask for something it would be better for us not to get; and so that we should not become utterly dejected if we are not given what we ask for, despairing of God’s mercy towards us: it might be that what we have been asking for could have brought us some still greater affliction, or it could have brought us the kind of good fortune that brings corruption and ruin. In such cases, it is clear that we cannot know how to pray as we ought.

Hence if anything happens contrary to our prayer, we ought to bear the disappointment patiently, give thanks to God, and be sure that it was better for God’s will to be done than our own. The Mediator himself has given us an example of this. When he had prayed, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by, he transformed the human will that was in him because he had assumed human nature and added Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it. Thus, truly, By the obedience of one man many have been made righteous.

Concluding Prayer

Almighty and ever-living God,
make us devoted to doing your will
and serving you in your majesty with sincere hearts.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.