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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of Timothy and Titus, co-operators of Paul and bishops of Ephesus and Crete.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit 3,7-15

It chanced on the same day that Sarah the daughter of Raguel, who lived in Media at Ecbatana, also heard insults from one of her father's maids.

For she had been given in marriage seven times, and Asmodeus, the worst of demons, had killed her bridegrooms one after another before ever they had slept with her as man with wife. The servant-girl said, 'Yes, you kill your bridegrooms yourself. That makes seven already to whom you have been given, and you have not once been in luck yet.

Just because your bridegrooms have died, that is no reason for punishing us. Go and join them, and may we be spared the sight of any child of yours!'

That day, she grieved, she sobbed, and she went up to her father's room intending to hang herself. But then she thought, 'Suppose they were to blame my father! They would say, "You had an only daughter whom you loved, and now she has hanged herself for grief." I cannot cause my father a sorrow which would bring down his old age to the dwelling of the dead. I should do better not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord to let me die and not live to hear any more insults.'

And at this, by the window, with outstretched arms she said this prayer: You are blessed, O God of mercy! May your name be blessed for ever, and may all things you have made bless you everlastingly.

And now I turn my face and I raise my eyes to you.

Let your word deliver me from earth; I can hear myself insulted no longer.

O Lord, you know that I have remained pure; no man has touched me;

I have not dishonoured your name or my father's name in this land of exile. I am my father's only daughter, he has no other child as heir; he has no brother at his side, nor has he any kinsman left for whom I ought to keep myself. I have lost seven husbands already; why should I live any longer? If it does not please you to take my life, then look on me with pity; I can no longer bear to hear myself defamed.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

At this point, the author of the text begins to speak directly and narrates the dramatic story of Sarah in a manner that parallels Tobit’s. He writes that "on the same day" a woman named Sarah found herself in a desperate situation. Sarah is of the same tribe as Tobit, but lives almost 375 miles from Nineveh, on the Zagros mountains in the region of Media, in modern day Iran. She is, in fact, unable to marry, and hence unable to have a child to assure her lineage. This woman has the same name as Abraham’s wife; however, her problem is not sterility, but rather the active hostility of a demon named Asmodeus, which means "destroyer," and who, one at a time, has killed the seven men who have tried to marry her. Unfortunately, Sarah is blamed for the deaths of the seven men, and one of the servants accuses her of being her husbands’ true murderer. This cruel accusation pushes Sarah into a state of desperation that borders on suicide. Nevertheless, the thought of the pain that this act would cause her father keeps her from acting on this folly, and Sarah rediscovers the path of prayer to the Lord. It is a prayer that rises from the depths of this desperate woman’s heart. The Lord alone can help her, and Sarah prays. It is the only time in the entire book that Sarah speaks. She will never again open her mouth in public, with the exception of the "Amen" she will pronounce with Tobias the first night after their wedding (Tob 8:8). She turns to the Lord: "And now, Lord,* I turn my face to you, and raise my eyes towards you,13" and blesses him because of his works. With full trust, she immediately asks him to free her from the insults she suffers and to grant her a child. If that cannot happen, however, she would rather die. In the course of the story, we will see that the Lord will accept Sarah’s prayer. Her words are a mixture of desperation and hope, yet the Lord listens to those who turn to Him with trust. Once again, prayer changes someone’s heart and life. After these words are spoken to the Lord in faith, Sarah’s life will take a different direction.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord