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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Shabbaz Bhatti, Minister of Minorities in Pakistan, a Christian, killed by terrorists because of his commitment in seeking pace and dialogue.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Corinthians 7, 25-40

About people remaining virgin, I have no directions from the Lord, but I give my own opinion as a person who has been granted the Lord's mercy to be faithful.

Well then, because of the stress which is weighing upon us, the right thing seems to be this: it is good for people to stay as they are.

If you are joined to a wife, do not seek to be released; if you are freed of a wife, do not look for a wife.

However, if you do get married, that is not a sin, and it is not sinful for a virgin to enter upon marriage. But such people will have the hardships consequent on human nature, and I would like you to be without that.

What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become limited, and from now on, those who have spouses should live as though they had none;

and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; those who enjoy life as though they did not enjoy it; those who have been buying property as though they had no possessions;

and those who are involved with the world as though they were people not engrossed in it. Because this world as we know it is passing away.

I should like you to have your minds free from all worry. The unmarried man gives his mind to the Lord's affairs and to how he can please the Lord;

but the man who is married gives his mind to the affairs of this world and to how he can please his wife, and he is divided in mind.

So, too, the unmarried woman, and the virgin, gives her mind to the Lord's affairs and to being holy in body and spirit; but the married woman gives her mind to the affairs of this world and to how she can please her husband.

I am saying this only to help you, not to put a bridle on you, but so that everything is as it should be, and you are able to give your undivided attention to the Lord.

If someone with strong passions thinks that he is behaving badly towards his fiance'e and that things should take their due course, he should follow his desires. There is no sin in it; they should marry.

But if he stands firm in his resolution, without any compulsion but with full control of his own will, and decides to let her remain as his fiance'e, then he is acting well.

In other words, he who marries his fiance'e is doing well, and he who does not, better still.

A wife is tied as long as her husband is alive. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anybody she likes, only it must be in the Lord.

She would be happier if she stayed as she is, to my way of thinking -- and I believe that I too have the Spirit of God.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Paul has a great deal of esteem for celibacy when it is freely accepted because of love for the Kingdom. But he clearly affirms that it is not a commandment given by the Lord to all. In any case, the apostle reemphasizes to the Christians of Corinth the primacy of the kingdom of God in their personal and community lives, and this is a commandment from the Gospel. The apostle tells the Corinthians - and our Christian communities at the beginning of this new millennium - that “the appointed time has grown short.” Yes, we are at the beginning of a millennium, yet “the appointed time has grown short” to live out and communicate the Gospel. We cannot let ourselves be captured by the slavery of our states of mind, our rhythms, or our habits, which make us slower in following the Lord. The words of the apostle are striking: let “those who mourn [be] as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (vv. 30-31). What is not passing, and what should not pass, is the Lord’s call to a new life, which we have to answer. And quickly. This is the freedom of a Christian: to obey the Lord’s commandments and communicate the Gospel to all, going all the way to the ends of the earth. If we obey this commandment that the Lord gives us, we will please him. It is in this context that the apostle praises virginity so highly; and he is referring to virginity of the heart, even before that of the body.

Sunday Vigil