Universalis
Saturday 21 January 2017    (other days)
Saint Agnes, Virgin, Martyr 
 (Saturday after the Second Sunday after Epiphany)

Office of Readings

If you have already recited the Invitatory Psalm today, you should use the alternative opening.


Lord, open our lips.
  And we shall praise your name.
Invitatory PsalmPsalm 66 (67)
The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
(repeat antiphon*)
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.
(repeat antiphon*)
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.
(repeat antiphon*)
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.
(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.
Amen.
The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.*

* If you are reciting this on your own, you can choose to say the antiphon once only at the start of the psalm and not repeat it.


Hymn
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish, like leaves on the tree,
Then wither and perish; but naught changeth thee.
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

Psalm 135 (136)
A paschal hymn
The Lord alone has wrought marvellous works, for his love endures for ever.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
  for his love is for ever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
  for his love is for ever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
  for his love is for ever.
He alone works wonders,
  for his love is for ever.
In his wisdom he made the heavens,
  for his love is for ever.
He set the Earth upon the waters,
  for his love is for ever.
He created the great lights,
  for his love is for ever.
The sun, to rule over the day,
  for his love is for ever.
The moon and stars, to rule over the night,
  for his love is 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.
The Lord alone has wrought marvellous works, for his love endures for ever.

Psalm 135 (136)
He brought Israel out from Egypt, with arm outstretched, with power in his hand.
He struck down the first-born of Egypt,
  for his love is for ever.
He led Israel out from their midst,
  for his love is for ever.
With a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
  for his love is for ever.
He divided the Red Sea in two,
  for his love is for ever.
He led Israel out through the sea,
  for his love is for ever.
He overthrew Pharaoh and his army,
  for his love is 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.
He brought Israel out from Egypt, with arm outstretched, with power in his hand.

Psalm 135 (136)
To the Lord of heaven give thanks: he set us free from our foes.
He led his people through the wilderness,
  for his love is for ever.
He struck down great kings,
  for his love is for ever.
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
  for his love is for ever.
And Og, the king of Bashan,
  for his love is for ever.
He gave their land to his people,
  for his love is for ever.
A heritage for Israel his servant,
  for his love is for ever.
He remembered us in our affliction,
  for his love is for ever.
He rescued us from our enemies,
  for his love is for ever.
He gives food to all creatures that live,
  for his love is for ever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
  for his love is 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.
To the Lord of heaven give thanks: he set us free from our foes.

Lord, show me your ways,
and teach me your paths.

First Reading
Deuteronomy 16:1-17 ©
The feasts of Israel
Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover for the Lord your God, because it was in the month of Abib that the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. You must sacrifice a passover from your flock or herd for the Lord your God in the place where the Lord chooses to give his name a home. You must not eat leavened bread with this; for seven days you must eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of emergency, for it was in great haste that you came out of the land of Egypt; so you will remember, all the days of your life, the day you came out of the land of Egypt. For seven days no leaven must be found in any house throughout your territory, nor must any of the meat that you sacrifice in the evening of the first day be kept overnight until morning. You may not sacrifice the passover in any of the towns that the Lord your God gives you; but only in the place where the Lord your God chooses to give his name a home, there you must sacrifice the passover, in the evening at sunset, at the hour at which you came out of Egypt. You must cook it and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses, and in the morning you are to return and go to your tents. For six days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the seventh day there shall be an assembly for the Lord your God; and you must do no work.
  You are to count seven weeks, counting these seven weeks from the time you begin to put your sickle into the standing corn. You must then celebrate the feast of weeks for the Lord your God with the gift of a voluntary offering from your hand in proportion to the way that the Lord your God has blessed you. You must rejoice in the presence of the Lord your God in the place where the Lord your God chooses to give his name a home, you and your son and daughter, your serving men and women, the Levite who lives in your towns, the stranger, the orphan and the widow who live among you. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and carefully observe these laws.
  You must celebrate the feast of Tabernacles for seven days, at the time when you gather in the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress. You must rejoice at your feast, you and your son and daughter, your serving men and women, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan and the widow who live in your towns. For seven days you are to celebrate the feast for the Lord your God in the place the Lord chooses, for the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and all your handiwork, and you will be filled with joy.
  Three times a year all your menfolk are to appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses: at the feast of Unleavened Bread, at the feast of Weeks, at the feast of Tabernacles. No one must appear before the Lord empty-handed, but every man must give what he can, in proportion to the blessing that the Lord your God gives you.
Responsory
℟. You must rejoice at your feast, you and your son and daughter, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan and the widow,* and the Lord will bless you, and you will be filled with joy.
℣. See on the mountains the feet of the herald who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! Keep your feasts, O Judah,* and the Lord will bless you, and you will be filled with joy.

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 and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

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

The psalms and canticles here are our own translation. 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, programs and downloads do contain the Grail translation of the psalms.

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