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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 27,1-26

When it had been decided that we should sail to Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion called Julius, of the Augustan cohort. We boarded a vessel from Adramyttium bound for ports on the Asiatic coast and put to sea; we had Aristarchus with us, a Macedonian of Thessalonica. Next day we put in at Sidon, and Julius was considerate enough to allow Paul to go to his friends to be looked after. From there we put to sea again, but as the winds were against us we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, then across the open sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia, taking a fortnight to reach Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship leaving for Italy and put us aboard. For some days we made little headway, and we had difficulty in making Cnidus. The wind would not allow us to touch there, so we sailed under the lee of Crete off Cape Salmone and struggled along the coast until we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. A great deal of time had been lost, and navigation was already hazardous, since it was now well after the time of the Fast, so Paul gave them this warning, 'Friends, I can see this voyage will be dangerous and that we will run considerable risk of losing not only the cargo and the ship but also our lives as well.' But the centurion took more notice of the captain and the ship's owner than of what Paul was saying; and since the harbour was unsuitable for wintering, the majority were for putting out from there in the hope of wintering at Phoenix -- a harbour in Crete, facing south-west and north-west. A southerly breeze sprang up and, thinking their objective as good as reached, they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close inshore. But it was not long before a hurricane, the 'north-easter' as they call it, burst on them from across the island. The ship was caught and could not keep head to wind, so we had to give way to the wind and let ourselves be driven. We ran under the lee of a small island called Cauda and managed with some difficulty to bring the ship's boat under control. Having hauled it up they used it to undergird the ship; then, afraid of running aground on the Syrtis banks, they floated out the sea-anchor and so let themselves drift. As we were thoroughly storm-bound, the next day they began to jettison the cargo, and the third day they threw the ship's gear overboard with their own hands. For a number of days both the sun and the stars were invisible and the storm raged unabated until at last we gave up all hope of surviving. Then, when they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among the men. 'Friends,' he said, 'you should have listened to me and not put out from Crete. You would have spared yourselves all this damage and loss. But now I ask you not to give way to despair. There will be no loss of life at all, only of the ship. Last night there appeared beside me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, and he said, "Do not be afraid, Paul. You are destined to appear before Caesar, and God grants you the safety of all who are sailing with you." So take courage, friends; I trust in God that things will turn out just as I was told; but we are to be stranded on some island.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle’s voyage to Rome occupies a place of particular importance in the Acts of the Apostles. The narrative is not simply the conclusion to a fascinating event. Rather, it is the fulfilment of not a human, but a divine, plan. The Church had taken its first steps toward Jerusalem, the holy city on the empire’s periphery, and now it was heading toward Rome, the capital and centre of the pagan world. In reaching Rome, the Church “fulfilled,” even if initially, the task of bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Reaching the heart of the empire meant the possibility of reaching also the farthest of the empire’s borders. Paul, aware of this design, accepts every trial and heads toward Rome with the same determination with which Jesus had gone to Jerusalem. Probably it was late summer of the year 59 or 60 when the Roman procurator Festus decided to have Paul leave for Rome. Paul, escorted by a detachment of soldiers led by an official, a certain Julius, sailed for Italy. Luke and Aristarchus accompanied him. The narrative is told in the first person plural voice, revealing that Luke was an eyewitness and attentive observer. The ship left Caesarea, and they reached Crete by the end of October. At this point Paul suggests spending the winter in Crete so as not to run into the stormy sea. But the ship-owner, convinced that the harbour was not a suitable place and perhaps deceived by a southern breeze, does not heed Paul’s advice and decides to leave all the same. After a few miles, a hurricane hits them, and they barely avoid crashing up against a small island. The ship was at the complete mercy of the waves, and all were afraid. Paul, as we see in the image from the narration, prayed to the Lord and watched over everyone. An angel sent by God said to him, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.” Through prayer Paul found comfort in the Lord. Paul encouraged the sailors in the name of the “God to whom I belong” and invites them not to be afraid. Once again, Paul makes manifest the responsibility of the Church and of every believer in response to the world.

Memory of Jesus crucified

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 10 December
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 11 December
Memory of the Poor
Tuesday, 12 December
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 13 December
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 14 December
Memory of the Church
Friday, 15 December
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 16 December
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 17 December
Liturgy of the Sunday