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The Everyday Prayer

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

Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Orthodox Churches.

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

Proverbs 5, 1-23

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen carefully to what I know;

so that you may preserve discretion and your lips may guard knowledge. Take no notice of a loose-living woman,

for the lips of the adulteress drip with honey, her palate is more unctuous than oil,

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death, Sheol the goal of her steps;

far from following the path of life, her course is uncertain and she does not know it.

And now, son, listen to me, never deviate from what I say:

set your course as far from her as possible, go nowhere near the door of her house,

or she will hand over your honour to others, the years of your life to a man without pity,

and strangers will batten on your property, and your produce go to the house of a stranger,

and, at your ending, your body and flesh having been consumed, you will groan

and exclaim, 'Alas, I hated discipline, my heart spurned all correction;

I would not attend to the voice of my masters, I would not listen to those who tried to teach me.

Now I have come to nearly every kind of misery, in the assembly and in the community.'

Drink the water from your own storage-well, fresh water from your own spring.

Even if your fountains overflow outside, your streams of water in the public squares:

let them be for you alone, and not for strangers with you.

May your fountain-head be blessed! Find joy with the wife you married in your youth,

fair as a hind, graceful as a fawn: hers the breasts that ever fill you with delight, hers the love that ever holds you captive.

Why be seduced, my son, by someone else's wife, and fondle the breast of a woman who belongs to another?

For the eyes of Yahweh observe human ways, and survey all human paths.

The wicked is snared in his own misdeeds, is caught in the meshes of his own sin.

For want of discipline, he dies, led astray by his own excessive folly.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Before we examine this passage we must first understand about whom it is talking. According to the Italian translation, the text warns against marrying a "foreign woman" (verses 3 and 20). We can read this warning in the context of the explicit concern, as expressed, for example, in the Book of Ezra, Chapters 9 and 10, about marriage with foreign women, which was considered a threat to the fidelity due to the God of Israel. It was understood that such marriages were to be ended immediately. In any case, this concern did not arise from a xenophobic attitude, but from a desire to preserve the purity of one’s faith. But, if we read Proverbs 2:16-17, 6:20-23 and 7:5, which also speak of a "loose woman", we would do better to interpret the text as speaking about a prostitute. Through this lens, Proverbs would be more comprehensible and so would be the following verses: "Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house; or you will give your honour to others, and your years to the merciless, and strangers will take their fill of your wealth." Who is this merciless man? It can’t be the husband of this woman, but rather the man who earns profit from her services. The text then warns against abandoning oneself to seeking pleasure in prostitutes. The prostitutes end up putting such an unfortunate person in the hands of merciless men who care only about profit. The consequence of this would lead this unfortunate person not only to ruin, but also to an early decay of his body. For this reason, verses 18-19 exalt the love of one’s wife as the one, unique love for which a man must continue to rejoice in and enjoy. How do we live this fidelity? It is important not to follow our instincts, but comply with the wisdom and instruction that come from God. Only thus will a man be able to make the choices that will guarantee him a joyful life far from evil.

Prayer for peace