Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
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Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

Memorial of Sant'Egidio (Saint Giles), a monk who came to the West. He lived in France and became the father of many monks. The Community of Sant'Egidio took its name from the church dedicated to him in Rome. We remember the beginning of the Second World War and pray for the end to all wars. The Orthodox Church begins its liturgical year. Word day of prayer for the care of creation. Read more

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Friday, September 1

Memorial of Sant’Egidio (Saint Giles), a monk who came to the West. He lived in France and became the father of many monks. The Community of Sant’Egidio took its name from the church dedicated to him in Rome. We remember the beginning of the Second World War and pray for the end to all wars. The Orthodox Church begins its liturgical year. Word day of prayer for the care of creation.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 5,1-13

Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance. Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognised as children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 'Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you. 'You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled under people's feet.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today we celebrate the memory of St. Giles (Sant’Egidio), a monk from ancient time who left Greece for the south of France. Tradition places him in the 9th century, when the church was still united and exchanges between the east and west were frequent. It is a sign that today—the day in which the Orthodox Church begins its liturgical year—we want to gather in prayer for unity in the Church. The saintly monk Giles reminds us of the primacy of God which shines in the life of all the disciples. Because of his choice, he did not remain alone. Giles became the father of a community of children and defender of the weak: he is represented with this his hand struck by an arrow shot by the king who wanted to kill a doe. The place of his death, on the path toward Compostela, helped his memory spread to every corner of Europe. And his name was invoked for centuries for healing from sickness and many other types of evil. Today, the Community of Sant’Egidio takes its name from him, whose church the community keeps in the heart of Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood. In 1973, it became the first house of the community and it remains its beating heart. The icon of the Holy Face is preserved in that church. The icon accompanies the community all over the world and is placed on the cover of this book of prayer as if to look over those who open it to pray. It is a simple way to participate in the prayer of a people that from East to West never stops listening to the Word of the Lord and brings prayers for world peace to him. We also remember today the beginning of World War II which devastated the world in the heart of the 20th century. The Gospel passage we heard brings us with Jesus to the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes. The evangelist Matthew says Jesus went up on the mountain, the place par excellence for God to teach. Before his eyes, Jesus has a crowd which has followed him for days. We can imagine him looking at those men and women: if not their stories, he certainly knows their needs and questions. And he has compassion for them. It is in this feeling of compassion that one finds the reason of life of the church and of every Christian community. Jesus says the poor and weak and those who feel compassion for them are “blessed.” This is the new path that he proposes to the world: a covenant between the poor and the disciples. It is the path of blessedness. The path of happiness. It is the path of the Kingdom of God. Jesus affirms that men and women who are poor in spirit are blessed. He means the humble ones—poor in spirit does not mean rich and far from God. Blessed as well are the merciful, the afflicted, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the pure of heart, those who are persecuted for justice and those who are insulted and persecuted because of his name. The disciples had never heard words like these. Perhaps they seemed unreal. For Jesus they were the reality of the new world he had come to establish. The Gospel proposes them to us again today, while we are about to take up ordinary time again. We too could think they are just beautiful but unfulfillable words. That is not so for Jesus. He wants true, full, robust happiness for every disciple. Often we just prefer a life that is a little better, or a little more peaceful. Nothing more. We do not want to be truly “blessed.” Actually, blessedness has become a foreign word, a word that is excessive, too full. A word such as this is so strong and charged that it differs dramatically from our satisfactions that are often insignificant. This page of the Gospel is truly Gospel for us, a true piece of “good news.” Because it tears us away from an ever more banal life and compels us toward an existence full of meaning, toward a deeper joy. The beatitudes are not too lofty for us, just like they were not too high for the crowd that first heard them. They outline the very face of Jesus. He is the man of the beatitudes, a poor man, a gentle man, a man who hungered for justice, a passionate and merciful man, a man who was persecuted and executed. Let us look at him and follow him and we too shall be blessed.

Prayer is the heart of the life of the Community of Sant'Egidio and is its absolute priority. At the end of the day, every the Community of Sant'Egidio, large or small, gathers around the Lord to listen to his Word. The Word of God and the prayer are, in fact, the very basis of the whole life of the Community. The disciples cannot do other than remain at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary of Bethany, to receive his love and learn his ways (Phil. 2:5).
So every evening, when the Community returns to the feet of the Lord, it repeats the words of the anonymous disciple: " Lord, teach us how to pray". Jesus, Master of prayer, continues to answer: "When you pray, say: Abba, Father". It is not a simple exhortation, it is much more. With these words Jesus lets the disciples participate in his own relationship with the Father. Therefore in prayer, the fact of being children of the Father who is in heaven, comes before the words we may say. So praying is above all a way of being! That is to say we are children who turn with faith to the Father, certain that they will be heard.
Jesus teaches us to call God "Our Father". And not simply "Father" or "My Father". Disciples, even when they pray on their own, are never isolated nor they are orphans; they are always members of the Lord's family.
In praying together, beside the mystery of being children of God, there is also the mystery of brotherhood, as the Father of the Church said: "You cannot have God as father without having the church as mother". When praying together, the Holy Spirit assembles the disciples in the upper room together with Mary, the Lord's mother, so that they may direct their gaze towards the Lord's face and learn from Him the secret of his Heart.
 The Communities of Sant'Egidio all over the world gather in the various places of prayer and lay before the Lord the hopes and the sufferings of the tired, exhausted crowds of which the Gospel speaks ( Mat. 9: 3-7 ), In these ancient crowds we can see the huge masses of the modern cities, the millions of refugees who continue to flee their countries, the poor, relegated to the very fringe of life and all those who are waiting for someone to take care of them. Praying together includes the cry, the invocation, the aspiration, the desire for peace, the healing and salvation of the men and women of this world. Prayer is never in vain; it rises ceaselessly to the Lord so that anguish is turned into hope, tears into joy, despair into happiness, and solitude into communion. May the Kingdom of God come soon among people!