Friday, March 5, 2010

Prayer of the Day

Country Prayer for Lent

Dear Lord, we are now in the holy season of Lent. We begin to realize anew that these are the days of salvation, these are the acceptable days. We know that we are all sinners. We know that in many things we have all offended Your infinite majesty. We know that sin destroys Your life in us as a drought withers the leaves and chokes the life from the land, leaving an arid, dusty desert. Help us now, Lord, in our feeble attempts to make up for past sin. Bless our efforts with the rich blessing of Your grace. Make us realize ever more our need of penance and of mortification. Help us to see, in our ordinary difficulties and duties, in the trials and temptations of every day, the best opportunity of making up for past infidelities. Every day we are so often reminded in field and wood, in sky and stream, of Your own boundless generosity to us. Help us to realize that You are never outdone in generosity, and that the least thing we do for You will be rewarded, full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and flowing over. Then we shall see, in our own souls, how the desert can blossom, and the dry and wasted land can bring forth the rich, useful fruit that was expected of it from the beginning.


Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Reading I
Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons,
for he was the child of his old age;
and he had made him a long tunic.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons,
they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.

One day, when his brothers had gone
to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem,
Israel said to Joseph,
“Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem.
Get ready; I will send you to them.”

So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan.
They noticed him from a distance,
and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him.
They said to one another: “Here comes that master dreamer!
Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here;
we could say that a wild beast devoured him.
We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”

When Reuben heard this,
he tried to save him from their hands, saying,
“We must not take his life.
Instead of shedding blood,” he continued,
“just throw him into that cistern there in the desert;
but do not kill him outright.”
His purpose was to rescue him from their hands
and return him to his father.
So when Joseph came up to them,
they stripped him of the long tunic he had on;
then they took him and threw him into the cistern,
which was empty and dry.

They then sat down to their meal.
Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead,
their camels laden with gum, balm and resin
to be taken down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers:
“What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?
Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites,
instead of doing away with him ourselves.
After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”
His brothers agreed.
They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.

Responsorial Psalm
105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.

R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.

R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.

R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:

“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
AHe will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, ADid you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

Saint of the Day

March 4

Servant of God Sylvester of Assisi (d. 1240)

Sylvester was one of the first 12 followers of St. Francis of Assisi and was the first priest in the Franciscan Order. A descendant of a noble family, Sylvester once sold Francis stones which were to be used to rebuild a church. When, a short while later, he saw Francis and Bernard of Quintavalle distributing Bernard's wealth to the poor, Sylvester complained that he had been poorly paid for the stones and asked for more money.

Though Francis obliged, the handful of money he gave Sylvester soon filled him with guilt. He sold all of his goods, began a life of penance and joined Francis and the others. Sylvester became a holy and prayerful man, and a favorite of Francis—a companion on his journeys, the one Francis went to for advice. It was Sylvester and Clare who answered Francis' query with the response that he should serve God by going out to preach rather than by devoting himself to prayer.

Once in a city where civil war was raging, Sylvester was commanded by Francis to drive the devils out. At the city gate Sylvester cried out: "In the name of almighty God and by virtue of the command of his servant Francis, depart from here, all you evil spirits." The devils departed and peace returned to the city.

Sylvester lived 14 more years after the death of Francis and is buried near him in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

Office of Readings

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

Antiphon: Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

(repeat antiphon*)

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

(repeat antiphon*)

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.

(repeat antiphon*)

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

(repeat antiphon*)

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

(repeat antiphon*)

“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”

(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*)

The plea of a sinner in great peril
Psalm 37 (38)

Lord, do not ruin me in your anger.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your wrath,
do not ruin me in your anger:
for I am pierced by your arrows
and crushed beneath your hand.
In the face of your anger
there is no health in my body.
There is no peace for my bones,
no rest from my sins.
My transgressions rise higher than my head:
a heavy burden, they weigh me down.

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.


Lord, do not ruin me in your anger.
Psalm 37 (38)

Lord, all that I desire is known to you.

My wounds are corruption and decay
because of my foolishness.
I am bowed down and bent,
bent under grief all day long.
For a fire burns up my loins,
and there is no health in my body.
I am afflicted, utterly cast down,
I cry out from the sadness of my heart.
Lord, all that I desire is known to you;
my sighs are not hidden from you.
My heart grows weak, my strength leaves me,
and the light of my eyes – even that has gone.
My friends and my neighbours
keep far from my wounds.
Those closest to me keep far away,
while those who would kill me set traps,
those who would harm me make their plots:
they plan mischief all through the day.

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.


Lord, all that I desire is known to you.
Psalm 37 (38)

I shall proclaim my wrongdoing. Do not abandon me, Lord, my saviour.

But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
like one who is dumb, I do not open my mouth.
I am like someone who cannot hear,
in whose mouth there is no reply.
For in you, Lord, I put my trust:
you will listen to me, Lord, my God.
For I have said, “Let them never triumph over me:
if my feet stumble, they will gloat.”
For I am ready to fall:
my suffering is before me always.
For I shall proclaim my wrongdoing:
I am anxious because of my sins.
All the time my enemies live and grow stronger;
they are so many, those who hate me without cause.
Returning evil for good they dragged me down,
because I followed the way of goodness.
Do not abandon me, Lord:
my God, do not leave me.
Hurry to my aid,
O Lord, my saviour.

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.


I shall proclaim my wrongdoing. Do not abandon me, Lord, my saviour.
Turn back to the Lord your God,
– because he is tenderness and compassion.

Reading Exodus 19:1-19,20:18-21

Three months after they came out of the land of Egypt... on that day the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sinai. From Rephidim they set out again; and when they reached the wilderness of Sinai, there in the wilderness they pitched their camp; there facing the mountain Israel pitched camp.

Moses then went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation.” Those are the words you are to speak to the sons of Israel.’ So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people, putting before them all that the Lord had bidden him. Then all the people answered as one, ‘All that the Lord has said, we will do.’ And Moses took the people’s reply back to the Lord.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am coming to you in a dense cloud so that the people may hear when I speak to you and may trust you always.’

Moses took the people’s reply back to the Lord. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and tell them to prepare themselves today and tomorrow. Let them wash their clothing and hold themselves in readiness for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will descend on the mountain of Sinai in the sight of all the people. You will mark out the limits of the mountain and say, “Take care not to go up the mountain or to touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain will be put to death. No one must lay a hand on him: he must be stoned or shot down by arrow, whether man or beast; he must not remain alive.” When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they are to go up the mountain.’

So Moses came down from the mountain to the people and bade them prepare themselves; and they washed their clothing. Then he said to the people, ‘Be ready for the third day; do not go near any woman.’

Now at daybreak on the third day there were peals of thunder on the mountain and lightning flashes, a dense cloud, and a loud trumpet blast, and inside the camp all the people trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain of Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. Like smoke from a furnace the smoke went up, and the whole mountain shook violently. Louder and louder grew the sound of the trumpet. Moses spoke, and God answered him with peals of thunder.

All the people shook with fear at the peals of thunder and the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the smoking mountain; and they kept their distance. ‘Speak to us yourself’ they said to Moses ‘and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die.’ Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid; God has come to test you, so that your fear of him, being always in your mind, may keep you from sinning.’ So the people kept their distance while Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

Reading From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop
The covenant of the Lord

In the book of Deuteronomy Moses says to the people: The Lord your God made a covenant on Horeb; he made this covenant, not with your fathers but with you. Why did God not make this covenant with their fathers? Because the law is not aimed at the righteous. Their fathers were righteous: they had the power of the Decalogue implanted in their hearts and in their souls. That is, they loved the God who made them and did nothing unjust against their neighbour. For this reason they did not need to be admonished by written rebukes: they had the righteousness of the law in their hearts.

When this righteousness and love for God had passed into oblivion and had been extinguished in Egypt, God had necessarily to reveal himself through his own voice, out of his great love for men. He led the people out of Egypt in power, so that man might once again become God’s disciple and follower. He made them afraid as they listened, to warn them not to hold their Creator in contempt.

He fed them with manna, that they might receive spiritual food. In the book of Deuteronomy Moses says: He fed you with manna, which your fathers did not know, that you might understand that man will not live by bread alone but by every word of God coming from the mouth of God.

He commanded them to love himself and trained them to practise righteousness toward their neighbour, so that man might not be unrighteous or unworthy of God. Through the Decalogue he prepared man for friendship with himself and for harmony with his neighbour. This was to man’s advantage, though God needed nothing from man.

This raised man to glory, for it gave him what he did not have, friendship with God. But it brought no advantage to God, for God did not need man’s love. Man did not possess the glory of God, nor could he attain it by any other means than through obedience to God. This is why Moses said to the people: Choose life, that you may live and your descendants too; love the Lord your God, hear his voice and hold fast to him, for this is life for you and length of days.

This was the life that the Lord was preparing man to receive when he spoke in person and gave the words of the Decalogue for all alike to hear. These words remain with us as well; they were extended and amplified through his coming in the flesh, but not annulled.

God gave to the people separately through Moses the commandments that enslave: these were precepts suited to their instruction or their condemnation. As Moses said: The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you precepts of righteousness and of judgement. The precepts that were given them to enslave and to serve as a warning have been cancelled by the new covenant of freedom. The precepts that belong to man’s nature and to freedom and to all alike have been enlarged and broadened. Through the adoption of sons God had enabled man so generously and bountifully to know him as Father, to love him with his whole heart, and to follow his Word unfailingly.

Concluding Prayer

Almighty God, may our zealous penitence purify us:
by the time we come to Easter, may our minds be whole and sincere.
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.