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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

Ecclesiastes 11,9-12,8

Young man, enjoy yourself while you are young, make the most of the days of your youth, follow the prompting and desire of heart and eye, but remember, God will call you to account for everything. Rid your heart of indignation, keep your body clear of suffering, though youth and the age of black hair are both futile. Remember your Creator while you are still young, before the bad days come, before the years come which, you will say, give you no pleasure; before the sun and the light grow dim and the moon and stars, before the clouds return after the rain; the time when your watchmen become shaky, when strong men are bent double, when the women, one by one, quit grinding, and, as they look out of the window, find their sight growing dim. When the street-door is kept shut, when the sound of grinding fades away, when the first cry of a bird wakes you up, when all the singing has stopped; when going uphill is an ordeal and you are frightened at every step you take- yet the almond tree is in flower and the grasshopper is weighed down and the caper-bush loses its tang; while you are on the way to your everlasting home and the mourners are assembling in the street; before the silver thread snaps, or the golden bowl is cracked, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the pulley broken at the well-head: the dust returns to the earth from which it came, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Sheer futility, Qoheleth says, everything is futile.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Teacher concludes this little book, which he addressed to the young, with a meditation on the "seasons of life." He presents youth as the spring and old age as the winter (v. 2), when the sun will not shine during the day nor the moon and the stars at night; when clear skies will not come after the rain, like spring showers, but clouds will still be there. After the winter of old age there will not be another spring; the sky comes to an end. He compares life to a house, which is at first full of life and joy (the time of youth) but then becomes more and more deserted and ruined. Abandonment and isolation will strike the houses of the rich, where even the guards grow old and tremble and the masters bend down under the weight of the years (12:3). Every day the house seems more and more empty, with death harvesting its victims and leaving so few inhabitants that there is no more need for women to grind flour for its bread. Even its women will grow older ("darken"). The old people no longer work the grindstone in the evening, because they are at the twilight of their lives (12:4). They rise early in the morning, but without the joy of the young, who wake up with a song on their lips. Physical strength gradually abandons the old person, who is afraid of steps, even household steps like the outside stairs that would lead up to the terrace on an ancient Palestinian house (12:5). The village streets become unsafe for the old person. Some foods, such as almonds and grasshoppers, provoke disgust or turn the stomach. The caper, a fruit that usually stimulates the appetite, has no effect. And the time comes for the elderly to go to "their eternal home" (12:5). And they are mourned. With death the silver cord is broken, the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is cast into the fountain. The bowl, which is no longer used as a lamp, and the water of the fountain, which is no longer drawn, are symbols of life. The house falls into ruin because no one lives there; death has brought its owner to his or her eternal home. Men and women are beings on a journey towards death; they are a breath that at the end returns to God. Human life, from the beginning to the end, is in God’s hands (cf. 9:1). Time, life, and its joys are a gift of the Creator. Human beings are not absolute masters. This sad and melancholy song about old age is not the experience of failure; it is the simple recognition that we are "God’s creatures." Thinking of death teaches us to live in our finite and limited condition without fear. By discovering his own limits and fragility, the wise person discovers the freedom of living life as a gift of the Creator. And to entrust it to Him when it reaches its end. God will welcome it in His hands.

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