Universalis
Friday 21 January 2022    (other days)
Saint Agnes, Virgin, Martyr 
 on Friday of week 2 in Ordinary Time

Office of Readings

If this is the first Hour that you are reciting today, you should precede it with the Invitatory Psalm.
INTRODUCTION
O God, come to our aid.
  O Lord, make haste to help us.
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. Alleluia.

Hymn
The martyrs living now with Christ
In suffering were tried,
Their anguish overcome by love
When on his cross they died.
Across the centuries they come,
In constancy unmoved,
Their loving hearts make no complaint,
In silence they are proved.
No man has ever measured love,
Or weighed it in his hand,
But God who knows the inmost heart
Gives them the promised land.
Praise Father, Son and Spirit blest,
Who guides us through the night
In ways that reach beyond the stars
To everlasting light.
Francis E. Mostyn (1860-1939)

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

Do not punish me, Lord, in your rage.
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.
Amen.
Do not punish me, Lord, in your rage.

Psalm 37 (38)

O Lord, you know all my longing.
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.
Amen.
O Lord, you know all my longing.

Psalm 37 (38)

I confess my guilt to you, Lord; do not forsake me, 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.
Amen.
I confess my guilt to you, Lord; do not forsake me, my saviour.

℣. Anguish and distress have taken hold of me.
℟. Yet will I delight in your commands.

First Reading
Deuteronomy 10:12-11:9,26-28 ©

Choose God alone

These are the words that Moses spoke beyond Jordan to the whole of Israel:
  ‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.
  ‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.
  ‘You must love the Lord your God and always keep his injunctions, his laws, his customs, his commandments. Mark, this day, how it was you who received the instruction, not your sons. They have not known or seen the lessons of the Lord your God, his greatness, the might of his hand, the strength of his arm, the signs and the deeds he performed in Egypt itself against Pharaoh and all his land; what he did to the armies of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots, how he poured the waters of the Sea of Reeds over them as they pursued you, leaving no trace of them to this day; what he did for you in the wilderness before you reached this place; what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab the Reubenite, how, right in the midst of all Israel, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them with their households, their tents and all their retinue. It is your eyes that have seen all this great work that the Lord has done.
  ‘You must keep all the commandments I enjoin on you today, so that you may have the strength to conquer the land into which you are to cross to make it your own, and to live long in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers and their descendants, a land where milk and honey flow.
  ‘See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: a blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord our God that I enjoin on you today; a curse, if you disobey the commandments of the Lord your God and leave the way I have marked out for you today, by going after other gods you have not known.’
Responsory
1 Jn 4:19, 5:3, 2:5
℟. We are to love God, because he loved us first. This is what loving God is – keeping his commandments;* and his commandments are not difficult.
℣. When anyone obeys what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him;* and his commandments are not difficult.

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 valour 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.
Responsory
℟. 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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
(one) God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

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

The psalms and canticles here are our own translation from the Latin. The Grail translation of the psalms, which is used liturgically in most of the English-speaking world, cannot be displayed on the Web for copyright reasons; The Universalis apps and programs do contain the Grail translation of the psalms.

You can also view this page in Latin and English.

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