COMMON OF HOLY WOMEN

Office of Readings



Invitatory
The Invitatory opens the first Office of the day. If Morning Prayer is the first Office of the day, begin below.

Lord, open my lips.
 - And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Psalm 95 is the traditional Invitatory Psalm. Psalm 24, 67, or 100 may be substituted.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship God, wonderful in his saints.

Or:     Let us sing praise to God, as we acclaim Saint N.





Office of Readings

God, come to my assistance.
 - Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
 -  as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Amen. (Alleluia.)

HYMN

Let us with joy our voices raise
In that heroic woman's praise,
Whose courage, strength, and holy fame
Have given her an honored name.

O Strength of all the strong, God's Son,
Through whom alone great things are done,
By Your great strength and through her prayer
May we bear witness everywhere.

Praise God the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Who gave this noble woman grace,
A life of virtue to embrace.
Words: Silvio Antoniano 1603; Melody: Eisenach LM; Johan Herman Schien, 1626


PSALMODY

Antiphon 1: Her mouth uttered words of wisdom; her tongue spoke words of compassion.

Psalm 19A

The heavens proclaim the glory of God,
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.

No speech, no word, no voice is heard
yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

There he has placed a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent,
rejoices like a champion to run its course.

At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
to the furthest end of the sky is its course.
There is nothing concealed from its burning heat. Glory...

Antiphon 1 Her mouth uttered words of wisdom; her tongue spoke words of compassion.


Antiphon 2 Trusting themselves to God, these holy women sang his praises with heartfelt love.

                     I
My heart overflows with noble words.
To the king I must speak the song I have made,
my tongue as nimble as the pen of a scribe.

You are the fairest of the children of men
and graciousness is poured upon your lips:
because God has blessed you for evermore.

O mighty one, gird your sword upon your thigh;
in splendor and state, ride on in triumph
for the cause of truth and goodness and right.

Take aim with your bow in your dread right hand.
Your arrows are sharp, peoples fall beneath you.
The foes of the king fall down and lose heart.

Your throne, O God, shall endure for ever.
A scepter of justice is the scepter of your kingdom.
Your love is for justice; your hatred for evil.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above other kings:
your robes are fragrant with aloes and myrrh.

From the ivory palace you are greeted with music.
The daughters of kings are among your loved ones.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Glory...

Antiphon 2 Trusting themselves to God, these holy women sang his praises with heartfelt love.


Antiphon 3 Singing for joy, they are brought into the King's presence.

                  II
Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words:
forget your own people and your father's house.
So will the king desire your beauty:
He is your lord, pay homage to him.

And the people of Tyre shall come with gifts,
the richest of the people shall seek your favor.
The daughter of the king is clothed with splendor,
her robes embroidered with pearls set in gold.

She is led to the king with her maiden companions.
They are escorted amid gladness and joy;
they pass within the palace of the king.

Sons shall be yours in place of your fathers:
you will make them rulers over all the earth.

May this song make your name for ever remembered.
May the peoples praise you from age to age. Glory...

Antiphon 3 Singing for joy, they are brought into the King's presence.


The thought of my heart are always before you, O Lord.
- You are my help and my redeemer.


FIRST READING

From the letter of the apostle Paul to the Colossians          3:1-17

Your life is hidden with Christ in God

Since you have been raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.  Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.

But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


RESPONSORY          Galatians 3:27-28; Ephesians 4:24
All who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ;
there is no longer Jew or Greek;
 - you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Put on the new man who is created in the image of God,
in justice and in true holiness.
 - You are all one in Christ Jesus.


Alternative:

From the letter of the apostle Paul to the Romans          12:1-21

The Christian life; spiritual worship

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.

If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.


RESPONSORY          Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23-24
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
 - so that you may be able to discover what is God's will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.

You must be renewed in mind and spirit,
and put on the new man.
 - So that you may be able to discover what is God's will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.


Alternative, for a married woman:

From the book of Proverbs          31:10-31

A woman who reveres the Lord

When one finds a worthy wife,
  her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
  has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
  all the days of her life.

She obtains wool and flax
  and makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships,
  she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night,
  and distributes food to her household.

She picks out a field to purchase;
  out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength,
  and sturdy are her arms.
She enjoys the success of her dealings;
  at night her lamp is undimmed.

She puts her hands to the distaff,
  and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
  and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household;
  all her charges are doubly clothed.

She makes her own coverlets;
  fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates
  as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them,
  and stocks the merchants with belts.

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
  and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
  and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household,
  and eats not her food in idleness.

Her children rise up and praise her;
  her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth,
  but you have excelled them all."
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
  the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors,
  and let her works praise her at the city gates.


RESPONSORY          See Proverbs 31:17,18; see Psalm 46:6
She set herself to work with courage,
she put forth all her strength;
- therefore her lamp will never go out.

The Lord will help her;
his loving presence will be with her.
He dwells in her; she will not falter.
- Therefore her lamp will never go out.


Additional alternative, for a married woman:

From the first letter of the Apostle Peter          3:1-6,8-17

Praise Christ in your hearts

Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him "lord." You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation.

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.

"Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep the tongue from evil
and the lips from speaking deceit,
must turn from evil and do good,
seek peace and follow after it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears turned to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against evildoers."

Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.


RESPONSORY          Phil 2:2,3,4: 1 Thess 5:14-15
Love one another; humbly consider others to be better than yourselves;
- do not think of your own interests alone, but look to the interests of others.

Support the weak, be patient with all;
seek to do what is good for each other and for all men.
- Do not think of your own interests alone, but look to the interests of others.


SECOND READING

From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom , bishop
(Homilia 20,4: PG 60, 162-164)

The light of a Christian cannot escape notice

There is nothing colder than a Christian who does not seek to save others.

You cannot plead poverty here; the widow putting in her two small coins will be your accuser. Peter said, Silver and gold I have not. Paul was so poor that he was often hungry and went without necessary food.

You cannot plead humble birth, for they were humbly born, of humble stock. You cannot offer the excuse of lack of education, for they were uneducated. You cannot plead ill-health, for Timothy also had poor health, with frequent illnesses.

Each one can help his neighbor, if only he is willing to do what is in his power. Look at the trees that do not bear fruit: have you not noticed how strong and fine they are, upstanding, smooth, and tall? If we had a garden, we would much prefer trees with fruit—pomegranates and olives—to trees that are for pleasure, not for utility, and any utility these have is small.

Such are those men who think only of their own concerns. In fact, they are even worse: the trees are at least useful for building or for protection, whereas the selfish are fit only for punishment. Such were those foolish virgins who were chaste, comely, and self-controlled, but did nothing for anyone. So they are consumed in the fire. Such are those men who refuse to give Christ food.

Notice that none of them is accused of personal sins. They are not accused of committing fornication or perjury or any such sin at all: only of not helping anybody else. The man who buried the talent was like this. His life was blameless, but he was of no service to others.

How can such a person be a Christian? Tell me, if yeast did not make the whole mass like itself, is it really yeast? Again, if perfume failed to pervade all around it with its fragrance, would we call it perfume?

Do not say, “It is impossible for me to influence others.” If you are a Christian, it is impossible for this not to happen. Things found in nature cannot be denied; so it is here, for it is a question of the nature of a Christian.

Do not insult God. If you say that the sun cannot shine, you have insulted Him. If you say that a Christian cannot help others, you have insulted God and called Him a liar. It is easier for the sun not to give warmth or shine than for the Christian not to shed his light. It is easier for light to be darkness than for this to happen.

Do not say then that it is impossible. The opposite is impossible. Do not insult God. If we have put our affairs in order, these things will certainly come to be and will follow as a natural consequence. The light of a Christian cannot escape notice. So bright a lamp cannot be hidden.


RESPONSORY          Ephesians 5:8-9; Matthew 5:14, 16
Now you are light in the Lord;
live as men native to the light;
 - light makes you gentle, loving and true.

I have given you to the world as its light,
and you must shine for all to see.
 - Light makes you gentle, loving and true.


Alternative:

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Sermo 96,1.4.9; PL 38,584,586,588)

All men are called to holiness

If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. The Lord's command seems difficult and painful: that anyone who wishes to follow him must deny himself. But his command is not really difficult or painful, since he himself helps us to do what he commands. For the verse of the psalm addressed to him was truly spoken: Because of the words of you lips I have abided by hard ways. True also are his own words: My yoke is mild and my burden is light. For love makes easy whatever is difficult in his commands.

What does it mean, let him take up his own cross? It means he must endure many things that are painful; that is the way he must follow me. When he begins to follow me in my life and my teachings, many will contradict him, try to stop him, or dissuade him, even those who wall themselves Christ's disciples. It was they who walked with Christ that tried to stop the blind men from calling out to him. So if you wish to follow Christ, you will take these threats of flattery or any kind of obstacle and fashion them into the cross; you must endure it, carry it, and not give way under it. And so in this world that is the Church, a world of the good, the reconciled, and the saved, or rather, those destined for salvation, but already saved by hope, as it is written, by hope we are saved, in this world of the Church, which completely follows Christ, he has said to everyone: If anyone wishes to follow me, let him deny himself.

This is not a command for virgins to obey and brides to ignore, for widows and not for married women, for monks and not for married men, or for the clergy and not for the laity. No, the whole Church, the entire body, all the members in their distinct and varied functions, must follow Christ. She who is totally unique, the dove, the spouse who was redeemed and dowered by the blood of her bridegroom, is to follow him. There is a place in the Church for the chastity of the virgin, for the continence of the widow, and for the modesty of the married. Indeed, all her members have their place, and this is where they are to follow Christ, in their function and in their way of life. They must deny themselves, that is, they must not presume on their own strength. They must take up their cross by enduring in the world for Christ's sake whatever pain the world brings.

Let them love him who alone can neither deceive nor be deceived, who alone will not fail them. Let them love him because his promises are true. Faith sometimes falters because he does not reward us immediately. But hold out, be steadfast, endure, bear the delay, and you have carried the cross.


RESPONSORY          
This holy man worked wonders in the sight of God;
he praised the Lord with his whole heart.
 - May he intercede for sinful mankind.

He was a man without bitterness,
his life a living praise to God.
He avoided all evil deeds and kept himself sinless to the end.
 - May he intercede for sinful mankind.


On solemnities and feasts, the TE DEUM is said.


PRAYER

If there is no proper prayer, one of the following is said:

God our Father,
every year you give us joy on this feast of Saint N.
As we honour her memory by this celebration,
may we follow the example of her holy life.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever..

Or:

Lord,
pour upon us the spirit of wisdom and love
with which you filled your servant Saint N.
By serving you as she did,
may we please you by our faith and our actions.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

For several holy women:

All powerful God,
may the prayers of Saints N. and N. bring us help from heaven
as their lives have already given us an example of holiness.
We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

For a religious:

Lord God,
you kept Saint N. faithful to Christ's pattern of poverty and humility.
May her prayers help us to live in fidelity to our calling
and bring us to the perfection you have shown us in your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

For one who worked for the underprivileged:

Lord God,
you teach us that the commandments of heaven
are summarized in love of you and of our neighbor.
By following the example of Saint N.
in practicing the works of charity
may we be counted among the blessed in your kingdom.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

For a teacher:

Lord God,
you called Saint N. to serve you in the Church
by teaching her fellow man the way of salvation.
Inspire us by her example:
help us to follow Christ our teacher,
and lead us to our brothers and sisters in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.


May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.



 
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