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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

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

Proverbs 31, 1-31

The sayings of Lemuel king of Massa, taught him by his mother:

What, my son! What, son of my womb! What, son of my vows!

Do not expend your energy on women nor your wealth on those who ruin kings.

Not for kings, O Lemuel, not for kings the drinking of wine, not for princes the love of liquor,

for fear that in liquor they forget what they have decreed and pervert the course of justice against all the poor.

Procure strong drink for someone about to die, wine for him whose heart is heavy:

let him drink and forget his misfortune, and remember his misery no more.

Make your views heard, on behalf of the dumb, on behalf of all the unwanted;

make your views heard, pronounce an upright verdict, defend the cause of the poor and the wretched.

The truly capable woman -- who can find her? She is far beyond the price of pearls.

Her husband's heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit.

Advantage and not hurt she brings him all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax, she does her work with eager hands.

He She is like those merchant vessels, bringing her food from far away.

She gets up while it is still dark giving her household their food, giving orders to her serving girls.

She sets her mind on a field, then she buys it; with what her hands have earned she plants a vineyard.

She puts her back into her work and shows how strong her arms can be.

She knows that her affairs are going well; her lamp does not go out at night.

She sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle.

She holds out her hands to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.

Snow may come, she has no fears for her household, with all her servants warmly clothed.

She makes her own quilts, she is dressed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.

She weaves materials and sells them, she supplies the merchant with sashes.

She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the day to come.

When she opens her mouth, she does so wisely; on her tongue is kindly instruction.

She keeps good watch on the conduct of her household, no bread of idleness for her.

Her children stand up and proclaim her blessed, her husband, too, sings her praises:

'Many women have done admirable things, but you surpass them all!'

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman who fears Yahweh is the one to praise.

Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.


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

The book ends with a final collection of proverbs attributed to a certain Lemuel. As in other passages, a mother speaks, portrayed as a natural mother but also as Wisdom, a mother who instructs her children. The final instructions are about dangers we might meet. The first named are women, with a probable reference to the king’s concubines. Secondly is wine that distracts form the duties of government. If anything, wine may help those who live a difficult moment. Finally, there is an invitation regarding the mouth, that is, the use of words: "Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy." In a society devoted to pleasure and frivolity the true danger is forgetting the poor. We understand the final invitation that once more, as in the entire book, exhorts to care about the poor. In the conclusion the issue of a showy woman returns. The Word of God never fails to enter the private life of individuals, even, for example, when choosing a woman who then will become a wife and will care for her small community which at that time meant a large family. What are the virtues mentioned in the text? Diligence and ability to manage domestic life (vv. 15-19): "She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness" (v. 27). Generosity towards the needy: "She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy" (v. 20). Foresight and dignity that she does not boast about, but that she lives (vv. 21-25): "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Wisdom in speaking: "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue" (v. 26). What is the foundation of these virtues? As in the entire book, there is only one foundation for every life guided by wisdom: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (v. 30). "Fear of God" is truly the only principle of wisdom. The book of Proverbs ends in the same way it started. Let us ask the Lord to grant us the fear of God so that we may become wise in all the choices of our life.

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