COMMON OF VIRGINS

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: The holy virgins praise their Lord and King; come let us join in their worship.

Or:

Come, let us worship the Lamb with the virgins who followed him.




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.
Text: Silvio Antonino, 1603; Melody: Eisenach LM, Johan Herman Schein, 1628


PSALMODY

Antiphon 1: Radiant virgin, prudent and wise, you are the spouse of the holy Word of God.

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 Radiant virgin, prudent and wise, you are the spouse of the holy Word of God.


Antiphon 2 I count as nothing the kingdoms of the earth, even the whole world, because of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

                     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 I count as nothing the kingdoms of the earth, even the whole world, because of my love for the Lord Jesus Christ.


Antiphon 3 The King has desired your beauty; he is your Lord and God.

                  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 The King has desired your beauty; he is your Lord and God.


You have shown me how to live.
- You will fill me with joy in your presence.


FIRST READING

From the first letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians      7:25-40

Christian chastity

Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that.

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.

I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better.

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord. She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


RESPONSORY      
The King has desired your beauty,
which he himself has given you;
- your God and King has become your spouse.

He has provided for you and adorned you;
he has redeemed you and made you holy.
Now you are wedded to your King and your God.
- your God and King has become your spouse.


SECOND READING

From a sermon On the Dress of Virgins by Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr
(Nn. 3-4, 22, 23: CSEL 3 189-190,202-204)

The more numerous her virgins, the greater the joy of mother Church

Now I wish to address the order of virgins. Because their way of life is more exalted, our concern for them must be greater. If we compare the Church to a tree, then they are its blossom. virgins show forth the beauty of Godís grace; they are the image of God that reflects the holiness of the Lord; they are the more illustrious members of Christís flock. They are the glory of mother Church and manifest her fruitfulness. The more numerous her virgins are, the greater is her joy.

To these virgins then I speak and address my exhortation, out of love rather than any sense of authority; and I do this without claiming the right to censure them, for I am among the last and the least and fully aware of my lowliness; I do it rather because the more anxious and concerned I am about them, the more I fear the devilís attack. For it is no idle concern nor vain fear that takes thought of the path to salvation and keeps the Lordís life-giving commandments.

They have dedicated themselves to Christ, and, renouncing the pleasures of the flesh, have consecrated themselves body and soul to God, in order to finish a task that is destined to win a great prize; they should not strive to adorn themselves or give pleasure to anyone but the Lord, from whom they hope to receive the reward for their chastity.

Virgins, persevere in the way of life you have begun, persevere in what you are to be. For you will receive a glorious prize for your virtue, a most excellent reward for your chastity. You have already begun to be now what we shall all be in the future. You already possess, here in this world, the glory of the resurrection. You pass through this world without the worldís infection. If you persevere in chastity and virginity, you are equal to Godís angels. Only keep your profession of virginity strong and inviolate. You began your way of life courageously, now persevere without faltering Seek right conduct as your adornment, not jewelry or attractive clothing.

Listen to the voice of the Apostle Paul, Godís chosen vessel, sent to announce the commands of heaven. Paul said: The first man was made of the dust of the earth; the second is from heaven. Those who are made from earth are like him who was on the earth. Those who are of heaven are like him who is from heaven. As we have borne the image of the man who is of the earth, so let us bear the image of the man who is from heaven. This image is shown forth in virginity, purity, holiness and truth. RESPONSORY      1 Corinthians 7:34; Psalm 73:26
The thoughts of the virgin are always upon God.
- Her desire is to be holy both in body and soul.

The God of my heart is my portion for ever.
- Her desire is to be holy both in body and soul.


Alternative:

From the decree on the renewal of religious life of the Second Vatican Council
(Perfectae Caritatis, nn. 1, 5, 6, 12-25, nn. 7-8)

The Church follows Christ, its only spouse

From the beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have sought to follow Christ with greater freedom, and to imitate him with closer fidelity through the practice of the evangelical counsels. They have led lives dedicated to God, each in his or her own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have lived in solitude or have founded religious communities, which the Church willingly recognized and approved by its authority.

As a result, in accordance with God's plan, there has grown up a wonderful variety of religious families. These have been of great service to the Church in equipping it for every good work and preparing it for the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ, and also in adorning it with. the different gifts of its children, so that the Church may appear in beauty as a bride adorned for her husband, and show forth the many-faceted wisdom of God.

Surrounded by this rich profusion of gifts, all who are called by God to the practice of the evangelical counsels, and profess them with fidelity, dedicate themselves to the Lord in a special way. They follow Christ, who in virginity arid poverty redeemed and sanctified mankind through obedience, even to death upon a cross.

Driven thus by the love that the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts, they live more and more for Christ and for his Body which is the Church. The more fervent their union with Christ through this gift of self throughout their lives, the richer is the life of the Church, and the more vigorous and fruitful its apostolate.

The members of each institute should remember above all that in professing the evangelical counsels they have given their response to the call of God in such a way that they are to live for God alone, not only by dying to sin but also by renouncing the world. They have surrendered to his service the whole of their lives: this constitutes a special consecration, deeply rooted in the consecration of baptism, to which it gives fuller expression.

Those who profess the evangelical counsels should seek and love above all things the God who has first loved us. In every circumstance of life they should strive to foster a life hidden with Christ in God; such a life is a source of, and a stimulus to, the love of one's neighbor for the salvation of the world and the building up of the Church. This love is the animating and guiding principle for the practice of the evangelical counsels.

Chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, professed by religious, is to be valued as an outstanding gift of grace. In a unique way it sets free man's heart, so that it may be the more inflamed with love for God and for all mankind. It is therefore a special sign of the blessings of heaven, and a most fitting means by which religious dedicate themselves eagerly to the service of God and the works of the apostolate. In this way they bring to the minds of all the faithful that wonderful marriage between the Church and Christ, its only spouse: a marriage that has been established by God, and will be fully revealed in the world to come.

RESPONSORY      
How beautiful you are, virgin of Christ;
- the Lord has given you the gift of perpetual virginity.

Nothing can rob you of your reward
or separate you from the love of the Son of God.
- the Lord has given you the gift of perpetual virginity.


On solemnities and feasts, the TE DEUM is said.


PRAYER

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

Lord,
you have told us that you live for ever
in the hearts of the chaste.
By the prayers of the virgin, N.,
help us to live by your grace
and remain a temple of your Spirit.
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.

Or:

Lord,
hear the prayers of those who recall the devoted life of the virgin N.
Guide us on our way and help us to grow
in love and devotion as long as we live.
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.

For several virgins:
Lord,
increase in us your gift of mercy and forgiveness.
May we who rejoice at this celebration in honor of the virgins N. and N.
receive the joy of sharing eternal life with them.
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.


Let us praise the Lord.
- And give him thanks.



 
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