Thursday, December 5, 2013

PRAYER OF THE DAY

To the Virgin Immaculate

O Virgin Immaculate,
Mother of God and my Mother,
from thy sublime height turn upon me thine eyes of pity.
Filled with confidence in thy goodness and knowing full well thy power,
I beseech thee to extend to me thine assistance in the journey of life,
which is so full of danger for my soul.
And in order that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin,
but may ever live with my heart humble and pure,
I entrust myself wholly to thee.
I consecrate my heart to thee for ever,
my only desire being to love thy divine Son Jesus.
Mary, none of thy devout servants has ever perished;
may I too be saved.

Amen.

DAILY MASS READINGS

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Reading
IS 26:1-6

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you.”

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.


Responsorial Psalm
PS 118:1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A

R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.

R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.

R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Gospel
MT 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

SAINT OF THE DAY

December 5

St. Sabas (b. 439)

Born in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), 
Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.

After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.

At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, St. Euthymius, Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, 
while he had to go a distance for his water.

Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.

The bishop persuaded a reluctant Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year —consistently in Lent—he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.

Over the years Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and, soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and St. Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism.

OFFICE OF READINGS

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will proclaim Your Praise!

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 99 (100)

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

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

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

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

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

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.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.

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.
Amen.

Let us adore the Lord,
the King who is to come.


Hymn

The Advent of our God
With eager prayers we greet
And singing haste up on the road
His glorious gift to meet.
The everlasting Son
Scorns not a Virgin’s womb;
That we from bondage may be won
He bears a bondsman’s doom.
Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King;
Let not thy stubborn heart despise
The peace he deigns to bring.
In clouds of awful light,
As Judge he comes again,
His scattered people to unite,
With them in heaven to reign.
Let evil flee away
Ere that dread hour shall dawn.
Let this old Adam day by day
God’s image still put on.
Praise to the Incarnate Son,
Who comes to set us free,
With God the Father, ever One,
To all eternity.


Psalm 17 (18)
Thanksgiving

The word of the Lord is a shield for all who make him their refuge.

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.
Amen.

The word of the Lord is a shield for all who make him their refuge.


Psalm 17 (18)

Lord, your right hand upheld me.

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 rumor of my orders, they obey.
The children of strangers beg for my favor;
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.
Amen.

Lord, your right hand upheld me.


Psalm 17 (18)

Long life to the Lord!
Praised be the God who saves me.

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.
Amen.

Long life to the Lord!
Praised be the God who saves me.


Listen, nations, to the word of the Lord.
– Take the news to the ends of the earth.


First Reading
Isaiah 16:1-5,17:4-8

Send lambs
to the king of the country
from Sela, by way of the desert,
to the mountain of the daughter of Zion.
Flying backwards and forwards
like bewildered nestlings,
at the ford of the Arnon.
‘Advise us what to do,
decide for us.
‘Spread your shadow as if it were night
at the height of noon.
Hide those who have been driven out,
do not let the refugee be seen.
‘Let those who have been driven out of Moab
stay with you;
be their refuge
against the destroyer.’
Once the oppression is over,
and the destroyer is no more,
and those now trampling the country underfoot have gone away,
the throne will be made secure in gentleness,
and on it there will sit in all fidelity,
within the tent of David,
a judge careful for justice
and eager for integrity.
That day, the glory of Jacob will be diminished,
from being fat he will grow lean;
as when a reaper hugs an armful of standing corn
and slices off the ears,
or when they glean the ears in the Valley of Rephaim:
nothing remains but gleanings;
or when an olive tree is beaten:
two or three berries left on the topmost bough,
four or five on the branches of the tree.
It is the Lord, the God of Israel, who speaks.
That day, man will look to his creator and his eyes will turn to the Holy One of Israel.
He will no longer look after the altars,
his own handiwork, nor gaze at what his hands have made:
the sacred poles and the solar pillars.


Responsory

I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David,
and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land,
and this is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord is our righteousness.

A throne will be established in steadfast love
and on it will sit in faithfulness one who judges and seeks justice,
and this is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord is our righteousness.


Second Reading
A commentary on the Diatessaron
by St Ephrem

Keep watch: he is to come again

To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming, Christ said: About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.
Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfillment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.

He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.

Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. 
The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control.

When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: Wake up, you just, and I have risen, 
and am still with you; and again, Do not lose heart. Therefore, having this ministry, we do not lose heart.


Responsory

I will make a covenant with you, this time for ever,
to love you as faithfully as I loved David.
See, I have made of him a witness to all races,
a leader and a master of the nations.

This salvation of God has been sent to the pagans;
they will listen to it.
See, I have made of him a witness to all races,
a leader and a master of the nations.

Let us pray.

Show forth your power, O Lord, and come.
Come in your great strength and help us.
Be merciful and forgiving,
and hasten the salvation which only our sins delay.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.