Universalis
Monday 21 January 2019    (other days)
Saint Agnes, Virgin, Martyr 
 (Monday of week 2 in Ordinary Time)

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.
(repeat antiphon*)

* 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
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 30 (31)
Trustful prayer in time of adversity
Hear me, Lord, and come to rescue me.
In you, Lord, I put my trust: may I never be put to shame.
  In your justice, set me free,
Turn your ear to me,
  make haste to rescue me.
Be my rampart, my fortification;
  keep me safe.
For you are my strength and my refuge:
  you will lead me out to the pastures,
  for your own name’s sake.
You will lead me out of the trap that they laid for me –
  for you are my strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit:
  you have redeemed me, Lord God of truth.
You hate those who run after vain nothings;
  but I put my trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your kindness,
  for you have looked on me, lowly as I am.
You saw when my soul was in need:
  you did not leave me locked in the grip of the enemy,
  but set my feet on free and open ground.
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.
Hear me, Lord, and come to rescue me.

Psalm 30 (31)
Lord, let your face shine on your servant.
Take pity on me, Lord, for I am troubled:
  my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
  the very centre of my being is disturbed.
For my life is worn out with distress,
  my years with groaning;
my strength becomes weakness,
  my bones melt away.
I am a scandal and a disgrace,
  so many are my enemies;
to my friends and neighbours,
  I am a thing to fear.
When they see me in the street,
  they run from me.
I have vanished from their minds as though I were dead,
  or like a pot that is broken.
I know this – for I have heard the scolding of the crowd.
  There is terror all around,
for when they come together against me
  it is my life they are resolved to take.
But I put my trust in you, Lord;
  I say: “You are my God,
  my fate is in your hands.”
Tear me from the grip of my enemies,
  from those who hound me;
let your face shine upon your servant,
  in your kindness, save me.
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, let your face shine on your servant.

Psalm 30 (31)
Blessed be the Lord, who has shown me the wonders of his love.
How very many are the pleasures, Lord,
  that you have stored up for those who fear you.
You have made these things ready for those who trust in you,
  to give them in the sight of all men.
Far away from the plottings of men
  you hide them in your secret place.
You keep them safe in your dwelling-place
  far from lying tongues.
Blessed be the Lord,
  for he has shown me his wonderful kindness
  within the fortified city.
In my terror, I said
  “I am cut off from your sight”;
but you heard the voice of my prayer
  when I called to you.
Love the Lord, all his chosen ones.
The Lord keeps his faithful ones safe,
  heaps rich revenge on the arrogant.
Be brave, let your hearts be strong,
  all who trust in the Lord.
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.
Blessed be the Lord, who has shown me the wonders of his love.

℣. Lead me in the way of your truth and teach me, O Lord.
℟. You are the God who saves me.

First Reading
Deuteronomy 4:1-8,32-40 ©
Moses speaks to the people
These are the words that Moses spoke beyond Jordan to the whole of Israel:
  ‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you. You can see with your own eyes what the Lord has done at Baal-peor; all the followers of the Baal of Peor have been wiped out from among you by the Lord your God; but all of you who stayed faithful to the Lord your God are still alive today. See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?
  ‘Put this question, then, to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time God created man on earth: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything ever heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of the living God speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? Has any god ventured to take to himself one nation from the midst of another by ordeals, signs, wonders, war with mighty hand and outstretched arm, by fearsome terrors – all this that the Lord your God did for you before your eyes in Egypt?
  ‘This he showed you so that you might know that the Lord is God indeed and that there is no other. He let you hear his voice out of heaven for your instruction; on earth he let you see his great fire, and from the heart of the fire you heard his word. Because he loved your fathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out from Egypt, openly showing his presence and his great power, driving out in front of you nations greater and more powerful than yourself, and brought you into their land to give it you for your heritage, as it is still today.
  ‘Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other. Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you for ever.’
Responsory
Dt 4:1; cf. 6:6, 31:20; Ps 81:8
℟. Hear, O Israel, the precepts of the Lord, and write them in your hearts as in a book,* and I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey.
℣. O my people, heed my warning – do but listen to me, O Israel,* and I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

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.

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