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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Saint Nicholas (+ 350). He was a bishop in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) and is venerated throughout East.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Song of Songs 3, 6-11

POET: What is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, breathing of myrrh and frankincense and every exotic perfume?

Here comes Solomon's litter. Around it are sixty champions, the flower of the warriors of Israel;

all of them skilled swordsmen, expert in war. Each man has his sword at his side, against alarms by night.

King Solomon has had a palanquin made of wood from Lebanon.

He has had the posts made of silver, the canopy of gold, the seat of purple; the centre is inlaid with ebony.

Daughters of Zion, come and see King Solomon, wearing the diadem with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day, on the day of his heart's joy.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

"How beautiful you are, my love, how very beautiful!" Thus the lover begins his song by praising his beloved and he concludes with the same warmth of feeling: "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you" (v. 7). This is the praise of the beloved’s beauty, and in medieval Christian canticle tradition, it is an affirmation used in the well-known song dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus: "Tota pulchra", i.e. "All beauty." The love with which the lover beholds his beloved is so strong that he is unable to see any of her defects and exclaims, "There is no flaw in you." The description of the beauty of her body emphasizes the lovers’ full and attractive harmony, and the symbolism in the description suggests the spiritual sense of the text. The description of the beauty of the different parts of her body evokes characteristics of the Promised Land. Her hair is thick and soft like the fleece of the best goats found on the slopes in Gilead, beyond Jordan. Her cheeks are like pomegranates, fruit found in Israel and considered a symbol of fertility because of the numerous grains inside them. Her neck decorated with a necklace reminds us of the tower of David (perhaps a building in Jerusalem) on which hung the shields of heroes. Her breasts are like fawns, animals dear to the author of the Song of Songs as a sign of love and of liberty.
Every part of the woman’s body draws the lover to him. In truth, the love he has for his beloved is what makes her beautiful and attractive. In old Hebrew interpretations, the passage read, "How beautiful you are, Assembly of Israel! How beautiful are the elders of the Assembly and the wise ones who sit in the Sanhedrin. They illuminate the world, the people of the house of Israel...How beautiful are the priests and the Levites who offer your sacrifice... All of you is beautiful, Assembly of Israel and in you there is no flaw." These are words that we can apply to the Church, God’s creation. Love is what makes his creation look beautiful; it is not because she is flawless but because love covers all things.
Moreover, this is the meaning of the entire story of God with humanity. As believers, we are all beautiful, not by virtue of our own qualities, but because God loves us. God’s loving gaze heals, saves, pardons and redeems us. We must also look this way at others, knowing that every person--without exception--is looked at by God with love. This is why he or she is beautiful and attractive. In the love God has for everyone, the weak have a privileged place. We are all beautiful before God but the poor and the weak are the most beautiful. We are invited to look at the world in the same way. Seeing the poor, the sick, the weak and the abandoned, we should sing like the Song of Songs: "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you."

Memory of the Mother of the Lord

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday