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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Mary Salome, the mother of James and John, who followed the Lord to the cross and placed him in the tomb.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Revelation 8,1-5

The Lamb then broke the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Next I saw seven trumpets being given to the seven angels who stand in the presence of God.

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne;

and so from the angel's hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints.

Then the angel took the censer and filled it from the fire of the altar, which he then hurled down onto the earth; immediately there came peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, and the earth shook.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After the three visions that accompanied the opening of the sixth seal, the seventh seal is now also broken. There is a great silence in heaven (half an hour): it is the silence that precedes the manifestation of God. The prophet Zephaniah was referring to this silence when he wrote: "Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests" (1:7). The clamour of pride, the uproar of selfishness, and the noise of banality and superficiality need to be silent before God. This is certainly an external silence, but, more importantly, it is also an internal one: the silence of the heart and mind that allows us to listen to God as he speaks to us. During this silence, in fact, seven trumpets are given to the seven angels of heaven. The scene seems to be interrupted for a moment, but we should never forget that waiting is a necessary part of listening. An angel approaches the altar of heaven, as if to perform the ritual of the evening sacrifice; the priest lights a lump of incense with a burning coal and the smoke rises on high. It is the visible image of the believer’s prayer that rises up until it reaches God. The psalmist sang: "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:2). All the prayers of all believers are gathered together in this rising incense, along with the cries and pleas of the poor and the weak, the lonely and the desperate: they all rise towards God’s heaven. They are incessant prayers for God to intervene and change the history of violence that continues to convulse the world and make the lives of many bitter. With a sudden motion the angel takes the sacrificial censer, filled with all-consuming fire, and hurls it to earth. Silence and praise are replaced by a terrible chorus of "peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake." The prayer has reached the altar of heaven and the Lord is intervening against evil. Prayer is never without effect. It is actually the strongest weapon believers have to combat evil and change the sad course of human history. The fire cast down on earth is God’s judgment that burns up evil, but it is also light for the just as they watch the eruption of the divine into the world.

Memory of Jesus crucified