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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Song of Songs 5, 1-8

LOVER: I come into my garden, my sister, my promised bride, I pick my myrrh and balsam, I eat my honey and my honeycomb, I drink my wine and my milk. POET: Eat, friends, and drink, drink deep, my dearest friends.

BELOVED: I sleep, but my heart is awake. I hear my love knocking. 'Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my hair with the drops of night.'

-'I have taken off my tunic, am I to put it on again? I have washed my feet, am I to dirty them again?'

My love thrust his hand through the hole in the door; I trembled to the core of my being.

Then I got up to open to my love, myrrh ran off my hands, pure myrrh off my fingers, on to the handle of the bolt.

I opened to my love, but he had turned and gone. My soul failed at his flight, I sought but could not find him, I called, but he did not answer.

The watchmen met me, those who go on their rounds in the city. They beat me, they wounded me, they took my cloak away from me: those guardians of the ramparts!

I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you should find my love, what are you to tell him? -That I am sick with love!


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The second part of the fifth chapter opens with a question by "the daughters of Jerusalem" to the woman who has asked for their help in finding her beloved (5:8). Astonished by her insistence, the women ask her, "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" She responds with a description of the beauty of her beloved. It is she, this time, who reciprocates the eulogies that her beloved made for her (4:8-15). This time the description is not abstract, but very concrete, as if to emphasize the incarnation of the love of God. This is why Gregory of Nissan, commenting on this passage, writes, "All of these similes of beauty do not indicate divine, invisible and incomprehensible things, but rather that which was revealed in the history of salvation, when he [God the Logos] was seen on earth [...] and he acquired human nature." The beloved begins the eulogies of her beloved by affirming his vitality: he is "radiant and ruddy," she exclaims. The Targum comments, "Therefore the Assembly of Israel began to proclaim the praise of the Sovereign of the world, and the people said thus: that God I desire to serve, who by day shrouds himself in a spotless cloak like the snow, and studies the twenty-four books of the law, and the words of the prophets and hagiographers, and by night studies the six orders of the Mishna. And the splendour of the glory of the Lord irradiated by His face is like fire." The mountain of the Transfiguration comes to mind when the evangelist notes, "His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white like the light" (Mt 17:2). The woman continues with the praises of the body of her beloved: he has wavy locks black as raven, tender eyes like doves, white and shining teeth, cheeks with a scented beard, warm lips like the red lilies of Palestine and arms adorned with rings. She praises his body: it has the colour of ivory, and legs like alabaster columns. Finally, the beloved even praises the "speech" of her beloved, that is, his "words." The beloved has words of love. This emphasis on the beloved’s words reminds us that the Word of God does not cease addressing God’s people, even his Church today especially when it gathers in the holy liturgy. Faced with such praise that the bride makes of the bridegroom, should we not also sing all of our amazement for a God that loves us in such a unique way? Indeed "He is altogether desirable." The beloved explains to the daughters of Jerusalem the reason for her passionate search: "This is my beloved and this is my friend." She knows that there is nothing greater, nothing more delightful, and nothing more lovable than her beloved.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 15 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 16 October
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 17 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 18 October
Memory of the Apostles
Thursday, 19 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 20 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 21 October
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday