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Arch Bishop Micheal Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

Office Readings

  • Sunday 21 February 2021

    1st Sunday of Lent 

    Office of Readings

    Introduction (without Invitatory)

    If this is the first Hour that you are reciting today, use the version with the Invitatory Psalm instead.

    O God, come to our aid.
    O Lord, make haste to help us.
    Glory be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit,
    as it was in the beginning,
    is now, and ever shall be,
    world without end.



    Forty days and forty nights
    thou wast fasting in the wild
    forty days and forty nights
    tempted still, yet undefiled.

    Shall not we thy sorrow share,
    and from earthly joys abstain,
    fasting with unceasing prayer,
    strong with thee to suffer pain?

    And if Satan, vexing sore,
    flesh or spirit should assail,
    thou, his vanquisher before,
    grant we may not faint or fail.

    So shall we have peace divine;
    holier gladness ours shall be;
    round us too shall angels shine,
    such as ministered to thee.

    Keep, O keep us, Saviour dear,
    ever constant by thy side;
    that with thee we may appear
    at the eternal Eastertide.


    Psalm 1
    The two paths

    “Blessed are those who placed their trust in the cross of the Lord and descended into the waters of baptism” (an unknown author of the 2nd century).

    The cross of the Lord is become the tree of life for us.

    Happy indeed is the man
    who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
    nor lingers in the way of sinners
    nor sits in the company of scorners,
    but whose delight is the law of the Lord
    and who ponders his law day and night.

    He is like a tree that is planted
    beside the flowing waters,
    that yields its fruit in due season
    and whose leaves shall never fade;
    and all that he does shall prosper.
    Not so are the wicked, not so!

    For they like winnowed chaff
    shall be driven away by the wind.
    When the wicked are judged they shall not stand,
    nor find room among those who are just;
    for the Lord guards the way of the just
    but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

    Glory be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit,
    as it was in the beginning,
    is now, and ever shall be,
    world without end.

    The cross of the Lord is become the tree of life for us.


    Lord, you are the fullness of life, of holiness and of joy. Fill our days and nights with the love of your wisdom, that we may bear fruit in the beauty of holiness, like a tree watered by running streams.


    We are like trees by flowing streams, for you, Lord, have placed us by the source of life, the cross of your Son. May we bear fruit for ever and be counted in the assembly of your saints.


    Psalm 2
    The Messiah, king and victor

    “They rose up together against your servant Jesus, whom you had anointed” (Acts 4:27).

    It is I who have set up my king on Sion.

    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 Sion, 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 shall 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 be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit,
    as it was in the beginning,
    is now, and ever shall be,
    world without end.

    It is I who have set up my king on Sion.


    Lord God, you gave the peoples of the world as the inheritance of your only Son; you crowned him as King of Zion, your holy city, and gave him your Church to be his Bride. As he proclaims the law of your eternal kingdom, may we serve him faithfully, and so share his royal power for ever.


    Psalm 3
    The Lord is my protector

    “He slept and took his rest, but he rose again from the dead, since the Lord was his protector” (St Irenaeus).

    You, Lord, are my salvation and my glory: you lift up my head.

    How many are my foes, O Lord!
    How many are rising up against me!
    How many are saying about me:
    ‘There is no help for him in God.’

    But you, Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, who lift up my head.
    I cry aloud to the Lord.
    He answers from his holy mountain.

    I lie down to rest and I sleep.
    I wake, for the Lord upholds me.
    I will not fear even thousands of people
    who are ranged on every side against me.

    Arise, Lord; save me, my God,
    you who strike my foes on the mouth,
    you who break the teeth of the wicked!
    O Lord of salvation, bless your people!

    Glory be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit,
    as it was in the beginning,
    is now, and ever shall be,
    world without end.

    You, Lord, are my salvation and my glory: you lift up my head.


    Lord God, you heard the cry of your Son when he was oppressed and saved him from the sleep of death. Arise, Lord, help your Church. Be her shield so that she may hold up her head and radiate the glory of the resurrection.


    ℣. Man does not live on bread alone.
    ℟. But on every word that comes from the mouth of God.


    Readings (official one-year cycle)

    First Reading
    Exodus 5:1-6:1
    The oppression of the people

    Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has said, “Let my people go, so that they may keep a feast in the wilderness in honour of me.”’ ‘Who is the Lord,’ Pharaoh replied, ‘that I should listen to him and let Israel go? I know nothing of the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.’ ‘The God of the Hebrews has come to meet us’ they replied. ‘Give us leave to make a three days’ journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to the Lord our God, or he will come down on us with a plague or with the sword.’ The king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, what do you mean by taking the people away from their work? Get back to your labouring.’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Now that these common folk have grown to such numbers, do you want to stop them labouring?’
    That same day, Pharaoh gave this command to the people’s slave-drivers and to the overseers. ‘Up to the present, you have provided these people with straw for brickmaking. Do so no longer; let them go and gather straw for themselves. All the same, you are to get from them the same number of bricks as before, not reducing it at all. They are lazy, and that is why their cry is, “Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.” Make these men work harder than ever, so that they do not have time to stop and listen to glib speeches.’
    The people’s slave-drivers went out with the overseers to speak to the people. ‘Pharaoh has given orders’ they said: ‘“I will not provide you with straw. Go out and collect straw for yourselves wherever you can find it. But your output is not to be any less.”’ So the people scattered all over the land of Egypt to gather stubble for making chopped straw. The slave-drivers harassed them. ‘Every day you must complete your daily quota,’ they said ‘just as you did when straw was provided for you.’ And the foremen who had been appointed for the sons of Israel by Pharaoh’s slave-drivers were flogged, and they were asked, ‘Why have you not produced your full amount of bricks as before, either yesterday or today?’
    The foremen for the sons of Israel went to Pharaoh and complained. ‘Why do you treat your servants so?’ they said. ‘No straw is provided for your servants and still the cry is, “Make bricks!” And now your servants have been flogged!...’ ‘You are lazy, lazy’ he answered ‘that is why you say, “Let us go and offer sacrifice to the Lord.” Get back to your work at once. You shall not get any straw, but you must deliver the number of bricks due from you.’
    The foremen for the sons of Israel saw themselves in a very difficult position when told there was to be no reduction in the daily number of bricks. As they left Pharaoh’s presence they met Moses and Aaron who were waiting for them. ‘May the Lord see your work and punish you as you deserve!’ they said to them. ‘You have made us hated by Pharaoh and his court; you have put a sword into their hand to kill us.’ Once more Moses turned to the Lord. ‘Lord,’ he said to him ‘why do you treat this people so harshly? Why did you send me here? Ever since I came to Pharaoh and spoke to him in your name, he has ill-treated this nation, and you have done nothing to deliver your people.’ Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘You will see now how I shall punish Pharaoh. He will be forced to let them go; yes, he will be forced to send them out of his land.’

    Ex 5:1,3, cf. 6:13

    ℟. Moses stood before Pharaoh and said, Thus says the Lord:* Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.
    ℣. The Lord God of the Hebrews sent me to you to say,* Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.


    Second Reading
    A commentary of St Augustine on Psalm 60
    In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the Devil

    Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried out to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth.’ That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.
    Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.
    Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.
    The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.
    He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.
    If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.


    ℟. They will fight against you but shall not overcome you,* for I am with you to deliver you – it is the Lord who speaks.
    ℣. You shall not fall a victim to the sword: your life shall be safe,* for I am with you to deliver you – it is the Lord who speaks.



    If time allows, those who celebrate the Office of Readings of a Sunday (or solemnity, or feast of the Lord) on the evening before, or at the crack of dawn on the day itself, may enrich the celebration with three Old Testament canticles and a Gospel reading.


    Let us pray.

    Through our annual Lenten observance, Lord,
    deepen our understanding of the mystery of Christ
    and make it a reality in the conduct of our lives.
    Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
    who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    God, for ever and ever.


    Let us praise the Lord.
    – Thanks be to God.

    Copyright © 1996-2021 Universalis Publishing Limited: see www.universalis.com. Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Text of the Psalms: Copyright © 1963, The Grail (England). Used with permission of A.P. Watt Ltd. All rights reserved.