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The Everyday Prayer

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

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

Revelation 20,11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it. In his presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace.

I saw the dead, great and small alike, standing in front of his throne while the books lay open. And another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, as their deeds deserved.

The sea gave up all the dead who were in it;

Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged as his deeds deserved. Then Death and Hades were hurled into the burning lake. This burning lake is the second death;

and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was hurled into the burning lake.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the true last judgment, the last act of history that inaugurates eternity. It is an act that had been announced several times and that now is carried out by God himself. Judgment is made according to the heavenly books where all of the actions and all the secrets of every man and woman are authentically recorded. We could say that there is something like an immense archive in heaven that will overturn all the falsehoods found in human archives; every man and woman is illuminated and pierced by the gaze of God, who will judge them according to love. The words Jesus spoke to the disciples when they returned from their first mission of evangelisation come to mind: "Do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Lk 10:20). At the centre of the scene of judgment there stands a great white throne, the symbol of the glory and unique power of God. The whole of humanity passes before him to be judged, not anonymously and as a group, but individually. The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians that the moment is coming when "all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Cor 5:10). All are judged, the living and the dead (who come from the sea, a sign of death and the negation of the horizon of life). When the judgment is concluded, death, Hades, and all sinners (those who are not written in the divine "book of life") can see their appalling destiny loom before them: the "lake of fire," the infernal swamp to which John refers three times, almost obsessively. His intention is to describe what it means to stray away from God and his life. Christian tradition calls this place "hell," and it is the "second death," the irrevocable end, the condemnation of being separated from divine light and life. The "second death" and Satan are the anti-God, and they gather their faithful and their acolytes to themselves. We read in the book of Wisdom that "the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company" (Wis 1:16). In the last judgment scene depicted by Matthew, Christ says "to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’" (Mt 25:41).

Memory of the Mother of the Lord