Friday 28 February 2020    (other days)
Friday after Ash Wednesday 

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.

Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.
As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.
As thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.
And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.
Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering overpast,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last.

Psalm 77 (78)
The history of salvation: the Lord's goodness, his people's infidelity (I)

Our fathers have told us of the might of the Lord and the marvellous deeds he has done.
Listen, my people, to my teaching;
  open your ears to the words of my mouth.
I shall open my mouth in explanation,
  I shall tell of the secrets of the past.
All that we have heard and know –
  all that our fathers told us –
  we shall not hide it from their descendants,
but will tell to a new generation
  the praise of the Lord, and his power,
  and the wonders that he worked.
He set up a covenant with Jacob,
  he gave a law to Israel;
he commanded our ancestors to pass it on to their children,
  so that the next generation would know it,
  the children yet to be born.
They shall rise up and tell the story to their children,
  so that they put their trust in God,
so that they do not forget the works of God,
  so that they keep his commandments;
so that they do not become like their fathers,
  rebellious and troublesome,
a generation of fickle hearts,
  of souls unfaithful to God.
The sons of Ephraim, the bowmen,
  fled when it came to battle;
they did not keep their covenant with God,
  they refused to follow his law.
They forgot his deeds
  and the wonders he had shown them.
In front of their ancestors he had worked his wonders,
  in the land of Egypt, in the plains of Tanis.
He divided the sea and led them across,
  he held back the waters as if in a bag.
He led them in a cloud by day;
  and through the night, in the light of fire.
He split the rock in the desert
  and gave them water as if from bottomless depths.
He brought forth streams from the rock
  and made the waters flow down in rivers.
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.
Our fathers have told us of the might of the Lord and the marvellous deeds he has done.

Psalm 77 (78)

The sons of Israel ate manna and drank spiritual drink from the rock which followed them.
Still they insisted on sinning against him,
  they stirred up the wrath of the Most High in the desert.
They put God to the test in their hearts,
  asking for food, their desire.
They spoke out against God, saying
  “Can God lay a table in the wilderness?”
He struck the rock, and the waters poured out,
  and the streams were full to overflowing;
“But can he give us bread?
  Can he give meat to his people?”
The Lord heard all this, and he flared up in anger.
  Fire blazed against Jacob,
  his wrath rose up against Israel.
All this, because they had no faith in God,
  they had no trust in his saving power.
He commanded the clouds nevertheless,
  and opened the doors of the heavens.
Manna rained down for them to eat:
  he gave them the bread of heaven.
Men ate the food of angels;
  he gave them provisions in abundance.
In heaven he stirred up the east wind,
  he brought the south wind, by his power:
he rained meat on them as if it were dust,
  winged birds, like the sands of the sea,
to fall in the middle of their camp,
  all around their tents.
They ate and were full to bursting,
  and so he gave them their desire.
In the middle of their enjoyment,
  when the food was still in their mouths,
the wrath of God rose up against them,
  and slew the healthiest among them,
  and laid low the flower of Israel.
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 sons of Israel ate manna and drank spiritual drink from the rock which followed them.

Psalm 77 (78)

They remembered that God was their helper and their redeemer.
All this – and still they sinned,
  still they had no faith in his wonders.
He made their days vanish in a breath,
  their years in a headlong rush.
Whenever he was killing them, they sought him,
  repented and came back to him at dawn:
they remembered that God is their helper,
  that God, the Most High, is their saviour;
but their speech to him was only flattery:
  they lied to him with their tongues,
their hearts were dishonest towards him,
  they did not keep his covenant.
But the Lord is merciful:
  he forgives sin, he does not destroy.
Always he turned aside his anger,
  held back from unleashing all his wrath.
He remembered that they were flesh –
  a breath, that goes and does not return.
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.
They remembered that God was their helper and their redeemer.

℣. Return to the Lord, your God.
℟. For he is gracious and merciful.

First ReadingExodus 2:1-22 ©

Moses’ birth and flight

There was a man of the tribe of Levi who had taken a woman of Levi as his wife. She conceived and gave birth to a son and, seeing what a fine child he was, she kept him hidden for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him; coating it with bitumen and pitch, she put the child inside and laid it among the reeds at the river’s edge. His sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.
  Now Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe in the river, and the girls attending her were walking along by the riverside. Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and looked, and saw a baby boy, crying; and she was sorry for him. ‘This is a child of one of the Hebrews’ she said. Then the child’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and find you a nurse among the Hebrew women to suckle the child for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her; and the girl went off to find the baby’s own mother. To her the daughter of Pharaoh said, ‘Take this child away and suckle it for me. I will see you are paid.’ So the woman took the child and suckled it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who treated him like a son; she named him Moses because, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
  Moses, a man by now, set out at this time to visit his countrymen, and he saw what a hard life they were having; and he saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his countrymen. Looking round he could see no one in sight, so he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. On the following day he came back, and there were two Hebrews, fighting. He said to the man who was in the wrong, ‘What do you mean by hitting your fellow countryman?’ ‘And who appointed you’ the man retorted, ‘to be prince over us, and judge? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Moses was frightened. ‘Clearly that business has come to light’ he thought. When Pharaoh heard of the matter he would have killed Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and made for the land of Midian. And he sat down beside a well.
  Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s sheep. Shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses came to their defence and watered their sheep for them. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said to them, ‘You are back early today!’ ‘An Egyptian protected us from the shepherds;’ they said ‘yes, and he drew water for us and watered the flock.’ ‘And where is he?’ he asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave the man there? Ask him to eat with us.’ So Moses settled with this man, who gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom because, he said, ‘I am a stranger in a foreign land.’
ResponsoryHb 11:24-27
℟. It was by faith that Moses, when he grew to manhood, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to be ill-treated in company with God’s people rather than to enjoy for a time the pleasures of sin,* because he had his eyes fixed on God’s reward.
℣. He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt; it was by faith that he left Egypt,* because he had his eyes fixed on God’s reward.

Second Reading
A homily of Pseudo-Chrysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.
  Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.
  Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfils its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.
  Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.
  If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.
  To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.
℟. Will you still be forgetful of us, through the long years leave us forsaken?* Bring us back, Lord, and let us find our home.
℣. Lord, save us, or we perish.* Bring us back, Lord, and let us find our home.

Let us pray.
Give us the grace, Lord,
  to continue the works of penitence we have begun;
so that the Lenten observance we have taken upon ourselves
  may be accomplished in sincerity of heart.
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.

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 and programs do contain the Grail translation of the psalms.

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