Thursday 20 October 2016    (other days)
Saint Hedwig, Religious 
 or Thursday of week 29 in Ordinary Time 
 or Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin 

Office of Readings

If this is the first Hour that you are reciting today, you should precede it with the Invitatory Psalm.

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.

Eternal Father, through your Word
You gave new life to Adam’s race,
And call us now to live in light,
New creatures by your saving grace.
To you who stooped to all who sin
We render homage and give praise:
To Father, Son and Spirit blest
Whose loving gift is endless days.
Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal

Psalm 17 (18)
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.
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 rumour of my orders, they obey.
The children of strangers beg for my favour;
  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.
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.
Long life to the Lord! Praised be the God who saves me.

Uncover my eyes, Lord,
and I will consider the wonders of your Law.

First Reading
Esther 5:1-8,7:1-10 ©
On the third day, Esther, dressed in her royal robes, presented herself in the inner court of the palace, which was in front of the king’s apartments. He was seated on the royal throne in the Royal Hall, facing the door. No sooner had he seen Queen Esther standing in his court than she won his favour and he held out the golden sceptre he had in his hand to her. Esther approached and touched the end of it.
  ‘What is the matter, Queen Esther?’ the king said. ‘Tell me what you desire; even if it is half my kingdom, I grant it you.’ ‘Would the king be pleased’ Esther replied ‘to come with Haman today to the banquet I have prepared for him?’ The king said, ‘Tell Haman to come at once, so that Esther may have her wish.’
  When the king and Haman were seated at the banquet with Queen Esther this second day, the king again said to Esther as they drank their wine, ‘Tell me what you request, Queen Esther? I grant it to you. Tell me what you desire; even if it is half my kingdom, it is yours for the asking.’ ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, O king,’ Queen Esther replied ‘and if it please your majesty, grant me my life – that is what I request; and the lives of my people – that is what I desire. For we are doomed, I and my people, to destruction, slaughter and annihilation; if we had merely been condemned to become slaves and servant-girls, I would have said nothing; but as things are, it will be beyond the means of the persecutor to make good the loss that the king is about to sustain.’ King Ahasuerus interrupted Queen Esther, ‘Who is this man?’ he exclaimed. ‘Where is he, the schemer of such an outrage?’ Esther replied, ‘The persecutor, the enemy? Why, this wretch Haman!’ Haman quaked with terror in the presence of the king and queen.
  In a rage the king rose and left the banquet to go into the palace garden; while Haman, realising that the king was determined on his ruin, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. When the king returned from the palace garden into the banqueting hall, he found Haman huddled across the couch where Esther was reclining. ‘What!’ the king exclaimed. ‘Is he going to rape the queen before my eyes in my own palace?’ The words were scarcely out of his mouth than a veil was thrown over Haman’s face. Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, was present. He said, ‘How convenient! There is that fifty-cubit gallows which Haman ran up for Mordecai, whose report saved the king’s life. It is all ready at his house.’ ‘Hang him on it’ said the king. So Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had erected for Mordecai, and the king’s wrath subsided.
℟. Israel cried out to the Lord and he saved his people; he delivered them from all evil.* The Lord worked wonders for Israel among the nations.
℣. Declare this with cries of joy: The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.* The Lord worked wonders for Israel among the nations.

Second Reading
A contemporary life of St Hedwig
She was always directed toward God
Hedwig knew that those living stones that were to be placed in the building of the heavenly Jerusalem had to be smoothed out by buffetings and pressures in this world, and that many tribulations would be needed before she could cross over into the glory of her heavenly homeland. And so she exposed herself completely to the waters of suffering and continually exhausted her body with rigorous chastisement. Because of such great daily fasts and abstinences she grew so thin that many wondered how such a feeble and delicate woman could endure these torments.
  She afflicted herself with continual mortification of the flesh, but she did so with prudent discretion. The more attentively she kept watch, the more she grew in the strength of the spirit and in grace, and the more the fire of devotion and divine love blazed within her. She was often borne aloft with such ardent desire and impelled toward God that she would no longer be aware of the things that were around her.
  Just as her devotion made her always seek after God, so her generous piety turned her toward her neighbour, and she bountifully bestowed alms on the needy. She gave aid to colleges and to religious persons dwelling within or outside monasteries, to widows and orphans, to the weak and the feeble, to lepers and those bound in chains or imprisoned, to travellers and needy women nursing infants. She allowed no one who came to her for help to go away uncomforted.
  And because this servant of God never neglected the practice of all good works, God also conferred on her such grace that when she lacked human means to do good, and her own powers failed, the divine power of the sufferings of Christ strengthened her to respond to the needs of her neighbours. And so through divine favour she had the power to relieve the bodily and spiritual troubles of all who sought her help.
℟. She has put on strength and made her arms strong.* Her lamp will never be extinguished.
℣. She has found that it is good to work for the Lord.* Her lamp will never be extinguished.

Let us pray.
Almighty God, grant us your help as we pray to Saint Hedwig,
  whose holy life was a pattern of humility to all.
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.

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