Office of Readings

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 Christ, the King of martyrs.

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.)

Faith of our fathers! faith and prayer
shall win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
mankind shall then indeed be free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers! we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife:
and preach thee, too, as love knows how,
by kindly deeds and virtuous life.


Melody: St. Catherine L.M. Music: Henri F. Henny and James G. Walton Text: Frederick W. Faber


Antiphon 1: Men will hate you because you are mine, but he who perseveres will be saved.

Psalm 2
Why this tumult among nations,
among peoples this useless murmuring?
They arise, the kings of the earth,
princes plot against the Lord and his Anointed.
Come, let us break their fetters,
come, let us cast off their yoke.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord is laughing them to scorn.
Then he will speak in his anger,
his rage will strike them with terror.
It is I who have set up my king on Zion,
my holy mountain.

I will announce the decree of the Lord:

The Lord said to me: You are my Son.
It is I who have begotten you this day.
Ask and I will bequeath you the nations,
put the ends of the earth in your possession.
With a rod of iron you will break them,
shatter them like a potter's jar.

Now, O kings, understand,
take warning, rulers of the earth;
serve the Lord with awe
and trembling, pay him your homage
lest he be angry and you perish;
for suddenly his anger will blaze.

Blessed are they who put their trust in God. Glory...

Antiphon 1 Men will hate you because you are mine, but he who perseveres will be saved.

Antiphon 2 The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come.

Psalm 33

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.
O sing him a song that is new,
play loudly, with all your skill.

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

By his word the heavens were made,
by the breath of his mouth all the stars.
He collects the waves of the ocean;
he stores up the depths of the sea.

Let all the earth fear the Lord
all who live in the world revere him.
He spoke; and it came to be.
He commanded; it sprang into being.

He frustrates the designs of the nations,
he defeats the plans of the peoples.
His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.  Glory...

Antiphon 2 The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come.

Antiphon 3 The Lord tested his chosen ones as gold tested by fire; he has received them for ever as a sacrificial offering.

They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men.

From the place where he dwells he gazes
on all the dwellers on the earth;
he who shapes the hearts of them all;
and considers all their deeds.

A king is not saved by his army,
nor a warrior preserved by his strength.
A vain hope for safety is the horse;
despite its power it cannot save.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
In him do our hearts find joy.
We trust in his holy name.

May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you. Glory...

Antiphon 3 The Lord tested his chosen ones as gold tested by fire; he has received them for ever as a sacrificial offering.

I have known tribulation and distress.
- But in your commands I have found consolation.


From the second letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians          4:7-5:8

The power of Christ is made manifest in our sufferings
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.

Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off, we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.

RESPONSORY          Matthew 5:11:12a, 10
Blessed are you when men curse you and persecute you,
and speak every evil against you because of me.
Rejoice, be glad,
- for your reward will be great in heaven.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice.
- For your reward will be great in heaven.


From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Sermo 329, in natali martyrum: PL 38, 1454-1456)

The death of martyrs is precious, bought at the cost of Christ's death

The Church everywhere flourishes through the glorious deeds of the holy martyrs. With our own eyes we can judge the truth of our song, that the death of his saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. It is precious in our sight and in the sight of the Lord as well, for in his name they died.

But the price of these deaths is the death of one man. See how many deaths he paid for by dying himself ! For if he had not died, would the grain of wheat have been multiplied? You have heard what he said on his way to his passion, which was our redemption: Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

On the cross he made the great exchange. There the purse which held our price was opened, for when the soldier's spear opened his side, the price of the whole world flowed forth. Thus he purchased the faithful and the martyrs. But the faith of the martyrs has been tested; their blood is the proof. They paid back the price Christ paid for them, thus fulfilling the words of Saint John: Just as Christ laid down his life for us, we too must lay down our lives for our brothers.

Elsewhere it is said: You are seated at a great table. Observe carefully all that is set before you, for you also must prepare such a banquet. The table is large, for the banquet is none other than the Lord of the table himself. No one has his guests feed upon himself, and yet this is precisely what Christ our Lord does; though host, he himself is both food and drink. The martyrs recognized the food and drink they were given, in order to make repayment in kind.

But how can they make repayment, unless he first spends his riches on them and gives them the means to repay? And what does the psalm we have sung recommend when it says: The death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord?

In this psalm man ponders the great things he has received from God, the great gifts of grace from the almighty: God created man, sought him when he was lost, pardoned him when he was found, supported him when he struggled in weakness, did not abandon him when he was in danger, crowned him in victory, and gave himself as the prize. Reflecting on all this man cries out, saying: What shall I give the Lord for all he has given me? I shall take up the cup of salvation.

What is this cup? It is the cup of suffering, bitter yet healthful: the cup which, if the physician did not first drink it, the sick man would fear to touch. Yes, it is the cup of suffering, and of it Christ is speaking when he says: Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me.

Of this cup the martyrs said: I shall take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. But are you not afraid you will weaken? No, they reply. And why? Because I shall call upon the name of the Lord. Do you think martyrs could have been victorious, unless he was victorious in the martyrs who said: Rejoice, for I have overcome the world? The Lord of the heavens directed their minds and tongues; through them he overcame the devil on earth and crowned them as martyrs in heaven. Blessed are those who have drunk of this cup! Their torments are at an end, and they have taken their place of honor. And so, my dear ones, consider: although you cannot see with your eyes, do so with your mind and soul, and see that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord.

RESPONSORY          2 Tim 4:7-8; Philippians 3:8-10
I have fought the good fight,
I have run the race to the finish,
I have kept the faith;
- now a crown of holiness awaits me.

Nothing has seemed worthwhile to me except to know Christ,
to be one with him in his sufferings,
to bear his death in my body.
- Now a crown of holiness awaits me.

On solemnities and feasts, the TE DEUM is said.


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

God of power and mercy,
you gave N., your martyr, victory over pain and suffering.
Strengthen us who celebrate this day of his triumph
and help us to be victorious over the evils that threaten us.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.


All powerful, ever living God,
You gave N. the courage to witness to the Gospel of Christ,
even to the point of giving his life for it.
By his prayers help us to endure all suffering for love of you
and to seek you with all our hearts,
for you alone are the source of life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

For virgin martyrs:
God our Father,
you give us joy each year
in honoring the memory of Saint N. .  
May her prayers be a source of help for us,
and may her example of courage and chastity be our inspiration.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

For holy women:
in our weakness your power reaches perfection.
You gave Saint N. the strength
to defeat the power of sin and evil.
May we who celebrate her glory share in their triumph.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

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


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