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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Dal libro di Ester 4,17k.17l.17s

Anche la regina Ester cercò rifugio presso il Signore, presa da un'angoscia mortale. Si tolse le vesti di lusso e indossò gli abiti di miseria e di lutto; invece dei superbi profumi si riempì la testa di ceneri e di immondizie. Umiliò duramente il suo corpo e, con i capelli sconvolti, coprì ogni sua parte che prima soleva ornare a festa. Poi supplicò il Signore e disse:
"Mio Signore, nostro re, tu sei l'unico! Vieni in aiuto a me che sono sola e non ho altro soccorso all'infuori di te, perché un grande pericolo mi sovrasta.
Metti nella mia bocca una parola ben misurata di fronte al leone e volgi il suo cuore all'odio contro colui che ci combatte, per lo sterminio suo e di coloro che sono d'accordo con lui.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The book of Esther recounts the story of a Hebrew woman, who for her beauty was chosen as the queen to the king of the great Persian Empire. The author presents the situation of the Hebrew people in the great diaspora with the prejudices that surround it because of their diversity and particularity of the faith they practiced. Haman, an official of the king, explains well the opinion the Assyrians had for the Hebrews: “There is a certain people scattered and separated among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not appropriate for the king to tolerate them” (3:13). We cannot but read in these words the traces of that anti-Semitism which down through the centuries has provoked so much trouble to the Hebrew people including the drama of the Shoah. What can Esther, a woman, do before so much hostility that reaches even the will to exterminate the people of Israel? What can she do, a poor woman, before violence and wars? Esther turns in prayer to her God and to the God of her fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob. Often in the Bible prayer takes up the line of history because in prayer one can reread one’s own existence in the light of love and the wondrous works of God. No believer is left overtaken by the vortex of events; he or she is always inside a design of love that preceded him or her and that prayer helps to rediscover. So Esther reminds God himself how much he has done for her ancestors: “Lord, as long as I can remember, my family has told me how you chose Israel from all the nations and how in ancient times you singled out our ancestors to be your people forever.” Her prayer develops in three points. First she invokes help for herself, aware of her limitations: “My Lord and King, only you are God. I am alone, and I have no one to turn to but you.” In prayer we discover our need for salvation as well as our weakness, but we trust in the strength that comes from God. Then she asks God to help her find the words to speak to the “lion,” the enemy who wants to eliminate Israel. And in closing, “And now, spare your people from the hands of our enemies; turn our grief into joy and our suffering into salvation.” In the weakness of a woman the strength of prayer emerges, a prayer that will conquer evil and free her people from the hands of their enemies.

Memory of the Church

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