Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Prayer to St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

O Little St. Agnes, 
so young and yet made so strong and wise by the power of God, 
protect by your prayers all the young people of every place whose goodness and purity are threatened 
by the evils and impurities of this world.

Give them strength in temptation and a true repentance when they fail. Help them to find true Christian friends to accompany them in following the Lamb of God and finding safe pastures in His Church and in her holy sacraments.

May you lead us to the wedding banquet of heaven to rejoice with you 
and all the holy virgin martyrs in Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever.



Memorial of Saint Agnes
Virgin and Martyr

1 SM 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel:

“How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
But Samuel replied:
“How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me.”
To this the LORD answered:
“Take a heifer along and say,
‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
“Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”
He replied:
“Yes! I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.”
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, “The LORD has not chosen him.”
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
“The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R. I have found David, my servant.

Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth.”

R. I have found David, my servant.

“I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong.”

R. I have found David, my servant.

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
And I will make him the first-born,
highest of the kings of the earth.”

R. I have found David, my servant.

MK 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”

He said to them,

“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”


January 21

St. Agnes (d. 258?)

Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young—12 or 13—
when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. 
Various modes of death have been suggested—beheading, burning, strangling.

Legend has it that Agnes was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. 
Agnes was condemned, executed and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. 
The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.


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

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 66 (67)

The Lord is the king of martyrs:
come, let us adore him.

O God, take pity on us and bless us,
and let your face shine upon us,
so that your ways may be known across the world,
and all nations learn of your salvation.

The Lord is the king of martyrs:
come, let us adore him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice,
for you judge the peoples with fairness
and you guide the nations of the earth.

The Lord is the king of martyrs:
come, let us adore him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has produced its harvest:
may God, our God, bless us.
May God bless us,
may the whole world revere him.

The Lord is the king of martyrs:
come, let us adore him.

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 Lord is the king of martyrs:
come, let us adore him.


O God of truth and Lord of power,
whose word their course to things assigns,
whose splendor lights the morning hour,
whose fiery sun at noonday shines:
Within us quench the flames of strife,
the harmful heat of passion quell;
give health of body to our life
and give true peace of soul as well.
In this, most loving Father, hear,
and Christ, co-equal Son, our prayer:
with Holy Ghost, one Trinity,
you reign for all eternity.

Psalm 36 (37)
The fate of the evil and the righteous

Commit your life to the Lord,
and he will act on your behalf.

Do not envy the wicked;
do not be jealous of those that do evil.
They will dry up as quickly as hay;
they will wither like the grass.
Put your trust in the Lord and do good,
and your land and habitation will be secure.
Take your delight in the Lord,
and he will give you what your heart desires.
Entrust your journey to the Lord, and hope in him:
and he will act.
He will make your uprightness shine like the light,
your judgement like the sun at noon.
Take your rest in the Lord, and hope in him:
do not envy the one who thrives in his own way,
the man who weaves plots.
Abstain from wrath, abandon anger:
do not envy him who turns to evil,
for those who do evil will be destroyed,
but those on the side of the Lord
will inherit the earth.
A moment yet – and the sinner will be gone:
you will look where he was and find nothing.
But the needy will inherit the land
and delight in abundant peace.

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.

Commit your life to the Lord,
and he will act on your behalf.

Psalm 36 (37)

Turn away from evil and do good:
the Lord will support the just.

The wicked will plot against the righteous
and gnash his teeth at him;
but the Lord will deride him in his turn,
for the Lord has seen what awaits him.
The wicked have pulled out their swords,
the wicked have drawn their bows,
to throw down the poor and the destitute,
to murder whoever follows the straight path.
But their swords will enter their own hearts,
and their bows will splinter.
For the righteous, the little they have is better
than the abundant wealth of the wicked.
The limbs of the wicked will be broken
while the Lord gives his strength to the just.
The Lord knows when the day of the perfect will come;
and their inheritance will be eternal.
They will not be troubled in evil times,
and in times of famine they will have more than enough.
For the wicked will perish:
the enemies of the Lord will be like the flowers of the fields,
and like smoke they will vanish away.
The wicked man borrows and does not return;
but the righteous takes pity and gives.
The blessed ones of the Lord will inherit the earth,
but those whom he curses will be cut off.
It is the Lord who strengthens the steps of man
and chooses his path.
Even if he trips he will not fall flat,
for the Lord is holding his hand.
I was young and I have grown old,
but I have not seen the righteous man abandoned
nor his children seeking for bread.
All day long he takes pity and lends,
and his seed will be blessed.
Shun evil and do good,
and you will live for ever.
For the Lord loves right judgement,
and will not abandon his chosen ones.
The unjust will be destroyed for ever,
and the seed of the wicked will be cut off,
but the righteous will inherit the earth
and live there from age to age.

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.

Turn away from evil and do good:
the Lord will support the just.

Psalm 36 (37)

Wait for the Lord, keep to his way.

The mouth of the righteous will speak wisdom,
and his tongue will utter right judgement.
The law of his God is in his heart
and his steps will not stumble.
The wicked man watches the just
and seeks to kill him;
but the Lord will rescue the just man from his hands
and not condemn the just in the time of judgement.
Put your hope in the Lord and follow his paths,
and he will raise you up and make the land your inheritance,
let you watch as the wicked are cut off.
I have seen the sinner triumph,
flourish like a green cedar,
but he is gone, he is there no longer:
I have looked for him but have not found him.
Preserve innocence, follow uprightness:
for the future belongs to the man of peace.
The unrighteous will be destroyed altogether,
their posterity will be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord,
and their protection in time of trouble.
The Lord will come to their help and free them,
rescue them from the wicked and save them,
because they have put their trust in him.

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.

Wait for the Lord, keep to his way.

Teach me goodness and discernment and knowledge;
– for I trust in your commands.

First Reading
Deuteronomy 6:4-25

The law of love

These are the words that Moses spoke beyond Jordan to the whole of Israel:

Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart. You shall repeat them to your children and say them over to them whether at rest in your house or walking abroad, at your lying down or at your rising; you shall fasten them on your hand as a sign and on your forehead as a circlet; you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When the Lord has brought you into the land which he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give you, with great and prosperous cities not of your building, houses full of good things not furnished by you, wells you did not dig, vineyards and olives you did not plant, when you have eaten these and had your fill, then take care you do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must fear the Lord your God, you must serve him, 
by his name you must swear.

Do not follow other gods, gods of the peoples round you, for the Lord your God who dwells among you is a jealous God; his anger could blaze out against you and wipe you from the face of the earth. Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you tested him at Massah. Keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees and laws that he has laid down for you, and do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord so that you may prosper and take possession of the rich land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, driving out your enemies before you; this was the promise of the Lord.

In times to come, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the decrees and laws and customs that the Lord our God has laid down for you?” you shall tell your son, “Once we were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt by his mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord worked great and terrible signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his House. And he brought us out from there to lead us into the land he swore to our fathers he would give to us. And the Lord commanded us to observe all these laws and to fear the Lord our God, so as to be happy for ever and to live, as he has granted us to do until now. For us right living will mean this: 
to keep and observe all these commandments before the Lord our God as he has directed us.”


The law of the Lord is perfect: it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

He who loves his neighbor has satisfied every claim of the law:
the whole law is summed up in love.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

Second Reading
From a treatise On Virgins
by Saint Ambrose, bishop

Too young to be punished, 
yet old enough for a martyr's crown

Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.

There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.

A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valor despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.

In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. 
What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator.

What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” 
She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.

You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; 
Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.


Let us keep the feast of blessed Agnes,
and recall the kind of suffering she endured:
in the full flower of her youth she died,
and found life.

She chose to love the Author of life alone;
in the full flower of her youth she died,
and found life.

Let us pray.

Almighty, ever-living God,
you choose what is weak in the world to shame what is strong.
Grant that, as we celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Agnes,
we may follow her example of steadfastness in faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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