Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prayer of the Day

Offering to Saint Joseph

O great Saint Joseph, thou generous depositary and dispenser of immortal riches, behold us prostrate at thy feet, imploring thee to receive us as thy servants and as thy children. Next to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, of which thou art the faithful copy, we acknowledge that there is no heart more tender, more compassionate than thine.

What, then, have we to fear, or, rather, for what should we not hope, if thou dost deign to be our benefactor, our master, our model, our father, and our mediator? Refuse not, then, this favor, O powerful protector! We ask it of thee by the love thou hast for Jesus and Mary. Into thy hands we commit our souls and bodies, but above all the last moments of our lives.

May we, after having honored, imitated, and served thee on earth, eternally sing with thee the mercies of Jesus and Mary.


Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading I
Jer 7:23-28

Thus says the LORD:

This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.

But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech.

Responsorial Psalm
95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Lk 11:14-23

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself,
how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Saint of the Day

March 10

St. John Ogilvie (c. 1579-1615)

John Ogilvie's noble Scottish family was partly Catholic and partly Presbyterian. His father raised him as a Calvinist, sending him to the continent to be educated. There John became interested in the popular debates going on between Catholic and Calvinist scholars. Confused by the arguments of Catholic scholars whom he sought out, he turned to Scripture. Two texts particularly struck him: "God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," and "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."

Slowly, John came to see that the Catholic Church could embrace all kinds of people. Among these, he noted, were many martyrs. He decided to become Catholic and was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium, in 1596 at the age of 17.

John continued his studies, first with the Benedictines, then as a student at the Jesuit College at Olmutz. He joined the Jesuits and for the next 10 years underwent their rigorous intellectual and spiritual training. Ordained a priest in France in 1610, he met two Jesuits who had just returned from Scotland after suffering arrest and imprisonment. They saw little hope for any successful work there in view of the tightening of the penal laws. But a fire had been lit within John. For the next two and a half years he pleaded to be missioned there.

Sent by his superiors, he secretly entered Scotland posing as a horse trader or a soldier returning from the wars in Europe. Unable to do significant work among the relatively few Catholics in Scotland, John made his way back to Paris to consult his superiors. Rebuked for having left his assignment in Scotland, he was sent back. He warmed to the task before him and had some success in making converts and in secretly serving Scottish Catholics. But he was soon betrayed, arrested and brought before the court. His trial dragged on until he had been without food for 26 hours. He was imprisoned and deprived of sleep. For eight days and nights he was dragged around, prodded with sharp sticks, his hair pulled out. Still, he refused to reveal the names of Catholics or to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the king in spiritual affairs. He underwent a second and third trial but held firm. At his final trial he assured his judges: "In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey."

Condemned to death as a traitor, he was faithful to the end, even when on the scaffold he was offered his freedom and a fine living if he would deny his faith. His courage in prison and in his martyrdom was reported throughout Scotland.

John Ogilvie was canonized in 1976, becoming the first Scottish saint since 1250.

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*)

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
and set it firm over the waters.

(repeat antiphon*)

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
The Lord, strong in battle.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
– he is the king of glory.

(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*)

A lament at the ruin of the house of David
Psalm 88 (89)

Look, Lord, see how we are mocked.

But you have spurned and rejected him;
you are enraged against your anointed.
You have repudiated the covenant of your servant,
you have trampled his crown in the dust.
You have demolished his walls
and laid his fortifications in ruins.
Anyone who passes can despoil him;
he is a mockery among his neighbours.
You have strengthened the arm of those who oppress him,
you have gladdened the hearts of his enemies.
You have turned back the sharp edge of his sword;
you have deprived him of your help in battle.
You have put an end to his splendour,
and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him from head to foot in shame.

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.


Look, Lord, see how we are mocked.
Psalm 88 (89)

I am the root and lineage of David, I am the shining morning star.

How long, O Lord, will you hide yourself? For ever?
Will your anger always burn like fire?
Remember how short is my time.
Was it truly so pointless, your creation of man?
Who is the man who can live and not die,
who can save his life from the grasp of the underworld?
Where are the kindnesses you showed us of old?
Where is the truth of your oath to David?
Remember, Lord, how your servants are taunted,
the taunts I bear in my bosom, the taunts of the nations –
the insults of your enemies, Lord,
the insults that follow the steps of your anointed!

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 am the root and lineage of David, I am the shining morning star.
Psalm 89 (90)

Let the Lord's glory shine upon us

Our years fade away like grass, but you, Lord, are eternal.
Lord, you have been our refuge
from generation to generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before earth and heaven were conceived,
from all time to all time, you are God.
You turn men into dust,
you say to them “go back, children of men.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday, that has passed;
like a short watch in the night.
When you take them away, they will be nothing but a dream;
like the grass that sprouts in the morning:
in the morning it grows and flowers,
in the evening it withers and dries.
For we are made weak by your anger,
thrown into confusion by your wrath.
You have gazed upon our transgressions;
the light of your face illuminates our secrets.
All our days vanish in your anger,
we use up our years in a single breath.
Seventy years are what we have,
or eighty for the stronger ones;
and most of that is labour and sadness –
quickly they pass, and we are gone.
Who can comprehend the power of your wrath?
Who can behold the violence of your anger?
Teach us to reckon our days like this,
so that our hearts may be led at last to wisdom.
Turn to us, Lord, how long must we wait?
Let your servants call on you and be answered.
Fill us with your kindness in the morning,
and we shall rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
Give us joy for as long as you afflicted us,
for all the years when we suffered.
Let your servants see your great works,
and let their children see your glory.
Let the glory of the Lord God be upon us:
make firm the work of your hands.
Make firm the work of your hands.

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.


Our years fade away like grass, but you, Lord, are eternal.
He who reflects on the law of the Lord
– will yield his fruit in due season.

Reading Exodus 34:10-28
The second text of the Covenant

The Lord said to Moses:

‘I am about to make a covenant with you. In the presence of all your people I shall work such wonders as have never been worked in any land or in any nation. All the people round you will see what the Lord can do, for what I shall do through you will be awe-inspiring. Mark, then, what I command you today. I mean to drive out the Amorites before you, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites. Take care you make no pact with the inhabitants of the land you are about to enter, or this will prove a pitfall at your very feet. You are to tear down their altars, smash their standing-stones, cut down their sacred poles.

‘You shall bow down to no other god, for the Lord’s name is the Jealous One; he is a jealous God. Make no pact with the inhabitants of the land or, when they prostitute themselves to their own gods and sacrifice to them, they may invite you and you may consent to eat from their victim; or else you may choose wives for your sons from among their daughters and these, prostituting themselves to their own gods, may induce your sons to do the same.

‘You shall make yourself no gods of molten metal.

‘You shall celebrate the feast of Unleavened Bread: you shall eat unleavened bread, as I have commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.

‘All that first issues from the womb is mine: every male, every first-born of flock or herd. But the first-born donkey you must redeem with an animal from your flocks. If you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. You must redeem all the first-born of your sons. And no one is to come before me empty-handed.

‘For six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest, even at ploughing time and harvest.

‘You shall celebrate the feast of Weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of Ingathering at the close of the year.

‘Three times a year all your menfolk must present themselves before the Lord, the God of Israel.

‘When I have dispossessed the nations for you and extended your frontiers, no one will covet your land, if you present yourselves three times in the year before the Lord your God.

‘You must not offer the blood of the victim sacrificed to me at the same time as you offer unleavened bread, nor is the victim offered at the feast of Passover to be put aside for the following day.

‘You must bring the best of the first-fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.

‘You must not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.’

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel.’

He stayed there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing. He inscribed on the tablets the words of the Covenant – the Ten Words.

Reading From the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian, priest
The spiritual offering of prayer

Prayer is the offering in spirit that has done away with the sacrifices of old. What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and I do not want the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and goats. Who has asked for these from your hands?

What God has asked for we learn from the Gospel. The hour will come, he says, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and so he looks for worshippers who are like himself.

We are true worshippers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.

We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it on faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.

Since God asks for prayer offered in spirit and in truth, how can he deny anything to this kind of prayer? How great is the evidence of its power, as we read and hear and believe.

Of old, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer. No longer does prayer bring an angel of comfort to the heart of a fiery furnace, or close up the mouths of lions, or transport to the hungry food from the fields. No longer does it remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it gives the armour of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. It strengthens the power of grace, so that faith may know what it is gaining from the Lord, and understand what it is suffering for the name of God.

In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.

Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travellers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.

All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.

What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honour and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Concluding Prayer

Lord of all majesty, we bring you this humble petition:
the closer that the feast of our salvation approaches,
the readier may we be to celebrate its paschal mystery.
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.