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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

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Daniel 3,25.34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, praying aloud thus: Do not abandon us for ever, for the sake of your name; do not repudiate your covenant, do not withdraw your favour from us, for the sake of Abraham, your friend, of Isaac, your servant, and of Israel, your holy one, to whom you promised to make their descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lord, we have become the least of all nations, we are put to shame today throughout the world, because of our sins. We now have no leader, no prophet, no prince, no burnt offering, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense, no place where we can make offerings to you and win your favour. But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit, be as acceptable to you as burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, as thousands of fat lambs: such let our sacrifice be to you today, and may it please you that we follow you whole-heartedly, since those who trust in you will not be shamed. And now we put our whole heart into following you, into fearing you and seeking your face once more. Do not abandon us to shame but treat us in accordance with your gentleness, in accordance with the greatness of your mercy. Rescue us in accordance with your wonderful deeds and win fresh glory for your name, O Lord.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage we have heard reports the prayer of Azariah while he was "in the middle of the fire," (v. 25) asking the Lord to intervene because of his mercy. He recognizes the tragic consequences of Israel’s abandonment of God: "For we, O Lord, have become fewer than any other nation, and are brought low this day in all the world because of our sins. In our day we have no ruler, or prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, no place to make an offering before you" (v. 37-38). We could say that this is what happens to believers when they abandon God, when prophecy ceases, when visions stop, when they become worldly and when they follow the logic of profit and individual interest. It occurs especially when each of us only follows him or herself and solidarity crumbles. But precisely at this tragic moment in the history of the people, here is the prayer of a righteous man, the prayer of the small remnant that prays for everyone, for all the people. Egocentrism, even the religious kind, is defeated in that prayer. Azariah does not pray for himself but for the people. This is the meaning of prayer for peace, healing, and the salvation of all. And believers know that they do not pray in vain, that their words are not lost in the empty skies. The believer’s words are heard by a God who is faithful. Azariah knows he is heard, he trusts not in his own words but in the faithfulness of God: "For your name’s sake do not give us up forever, and do not annul your covenant. Do not withdraw your mercy from us" (v. 34-35). It is a prayer born in the midst of fire. It is the fire of love that burns in the heart of Azariah, who dares to send his prayer to heaven as a burnt offering: "Such may our sacrifice be in your sight today, as we unreservedly follow you" (v. 40). Azariah stands before us as an example of the believer who does not cease to call on the Lord for his brothers and sisters, the whole people of God and for all peoples.

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