ASK FATHER: Father gave me a penance that discouraged me.

From a reader…


I am struggling with food and alcohol addiction. After confessing this, my penance was to fast the next day after such indulgences. I was discouraged. My confessor did not know my circumstances. I have successfully done “fast’” and abstained from alcohol more times than before, but I feel horrible about my failures. I need more help than this guild of failure. I feel this priest does not understand. I do need forgiveness and grace, but not this sense of hopelessness.

First, good for you for recognizing that you have a problem to confront.  Find all the help you need from others in order to map out your strategy and continue to ask God for help.  I do mean all the help you need, which probably involves professional counseling and might involve support groups.

Be ready to suffer!  You can do it.

Next, penitents are not obliged to accept every penance that the confessor suggests.  There are, indeed, circumstances that the confessor may not know (e.g., telling you to find someone and make amends when there is not way for you to find that person, or there is no prudent or realistic way to have that conversation).  Also, the confessor might suggest something that is not able to be accomplished in a reasonable period of time (e.g., say 10 Rosary a day for the next four months).   Moreover, the confessor could give you something that is so vague that you have no idea of when you have done it (e.g., think nice thoughts about someone today).   We are not obliged to accept such penances and we can ask for another.

Furthermore, I have written before about the matter of validity of absolution even if you do not do the penance assigned during confession.  HERE.

It is clear in the Latin Church’s law that the confessor is to give penances.  If he doesn’t give one, the absolution is still valid.

We are obliged to do penance for sins that we have committed.  This is a matter of justice.

That said, the imposition of a penance is not required for validity of the absolution.  In normal circumstances it should not be omitted.   I can envisage situations when I as confessor would not give a penance, as when I am absolving an injured teen in an overturned car while the emergency teams are cutting it up with the saw to get him out.  (I didn’t give a penance, but the absolution is valid.) Another moment might be when I have, with some difficulty, heard the confession of native Hmong speaker having only a few words in English or French, with no translator or even book to point to.  Rather than make the situation an ordeal, I might just be confident in the penitent’s sincerity, absolve, and send the frustrated fellow on his way, satisfied that the confession itself was a penance.

You, as a penitent, can ask for a clearly defined penance, achievable in a reasonable period of time without undue burdens.  You are not required to take whatever the priest suggests, particularly if by attempting to fulfill it, you might do yourself or others harm.

Finally, don’t be discouraged.  God works wondrous things through fragile and erring priests: you obtained absolution for your sins!  Now, be of good cheer.  Even though you have a long road ahead, you are pointed in the right direction.

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Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard for your Sunday Mass of obligation?

Let us know!

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 22 Comments

NIGERIA: The Religion of Peace terrorizes Catholic parishes

More from the Religion of Peace via Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch.  This time we see the deadly ministrations of the mouth-breathers of Boko Haram. I’m no shrink, but these guys clearly suffer from “Isis-envy”:

Nigeria: Islamic jihadists loot and vandalize Catholic parish

Remember: Christians in the West are not to speak of such things. To do so would harm the “dialogue”: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” — Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013.

Boko Haram overruns Madagali, loots and vandalizes Catholic parish,” Vatican Radio, August 30, 2014:

The Diocese of Maiduguri covers the whole of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states in Northeast Nigeria. These three states are under Nigeria’s declared emergency rule for the region. Fr. Obasogie says that Madagali and Gwoza are now effectively under the brutal control of Boko Haram sects.

Christian Churches within Maiduguri Diocese have borne much of the brunt of the terrorist activities although some Moslems have also not been spared by Boko Haram extremists. According to Fr. Obasogie, all Christian churches on the major road linking Maiduguri and Adamawa state have been closed after several acts of terrorism at the hands of Boko Haram sects. St Timothy’s parish in Bama which has been attacked several times in the past has been abandoned and the parish priest, Fr. Timothy Cosmas was relocated to a different parish. Early this year, St. Peter’s parish in Pulka was brutally attacked by Boko Haram insurgents though fortunately, the parish priest, Fr. James John who seems to have been the main target, was not at the parish when the attack happened.

On 24 August, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shakua, in a move that seems to mimic the Middle East terrorist group “Islamic State” declared a caliphate in Gwoza, North eastern Nigeria. [Again, they suffer from Isis-envy.  And their Caliphate is clearly not as big as Isis' Caliphate.  They had better terrorize a little more to feel themselves bigger than they are.] The Islamic State formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) are a brutal Jihadist group that has declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. They claim religious authority over all Moslems in the world. The militant group, Islamic State, is known for its chilling brutality and executions that seem to appeal to Boko Haram.


Read the rest there.

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WDTPRS 22nd Ordinary Sunday: graft into our hearts the love of Your Name

With small differences our Collect for the 22nd Ordinary Sunday is based on a prayer in the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary and, subsequently, one in the 1962 Roman Missal for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.

Deus virtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum, insere pectoribus nostris tui nominis amorem, et praesta, ut in nobis, religionis augmento, quae sunt bona nutrias, ac, vigilanti studio, quae nutrita custodias.

Insero means “to sow, plant in, engraft, implant.”  I like “graft”.  Optimum is “best”, but seeing that we are applying “best” to God, we can get away with “perfect”.

Our Collect summons images of, on the one hand, armies and, on the other, an orchard and vine tending.  On the one hand, the God of hosts guards the good things we have.  On the other, this same mighty God is grafting love into us and then nourishing it so it can grow.


Almighty God, every good thing comes from you. Fill our hearts with love for you, increase our faith, and by your constant care protect the good you have given us.

The norms underlying the new, corrected translation stated that “deficiency in translating the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth, as well as the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed in the Latin text” (Liturgiam authenticam 51).

Today the priest invokes God as Deus virtutum, an expression in St Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Psalter (Ps 58:6; 79:5 ff; 83:9; 88;9) often translated as “God of hosts.”  Don’t confuse “host”, which is “army, multitude”, with the wheat wafer used at Mass.  Virtutum is genitive plural of virtus, “manliness, strength, courage, aptness, capacity, power” etc.  St Jerome chose virtutum to render the Hebrew tsaba’, “that which goes forth, an army, war, a host.”  Tsaba’ describes variously hosts of soldiers, of celestial bodies, and of angels.   In the Sanctus of Holy Mass and, in the great Te Deum, we echo the myriads of angels bowed low in the liturgy of heaven before God’s throne: “Holy, Holy, Holy LORD GOD SABAOTH …. God of “heavenly hosts”.


O mighty God of hosts, of whom is the entirety of what is perfect, graft into our hearts the love of Your Name, and grant, that by means of an increase of the virtue of religion, You may nourish in us the things which are good, and, by means of vigilant zeal, guard the things which have been nourished.


God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured.

Today we pray to God for an increase in “religion.”  I’ll take this to be the virtue of religion. Last week I wrote about the difference between “values” and “virtues”.  Let’s make more distinctions.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “religion” as a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The First Commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion (cf also CCC 2084, 2135).   St. Thomas Aquinas (d 1274) says that religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God as the creator and supreme ruler of all things (STh II-II, 81, 1).  We must acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (eg, by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (eg, external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.).  The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, and blasphemy.  We creatures must recognize who God is and act accordingly both inwardly and outwardly.  When this at last becomes habitual for us, then we have the virtue of religion.  A virtue is a habit.  One good act does not make us virtuous.  If being prudent or temperate or just, etc., is hard for us, then we don’t yet have the virtues.

Our petition for religion follows immediately from our desire that God “graft” (insere) love of His Holy Name into our hearts.  We move from the title of God the angels and saints never tire of repeating in their everlasting liturgy in heaven: HOLY.  Then we beg for all good things to be nourished in us by God as He increases in us the virtue of religion.  This leads to the proper interior and exterior actions that necessarily flow from recognizing who God truly is and who we are.

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GUEST POST: “I celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass before today’s exorcism…”

Time and again, priests tell me that when they learn the traditional form of Holy Mass and begin saying it, it changes them profoundly.

Today I received this note from a priest (slightly edited):

I finished the [Saint John Cantius in Chicago] course on the Latin Mass and it was a work of Providence.

This immersion into the Extraordinary Form is proving to be a real renewal of my priesthood.

I’m dedicating this year to the study of the Mass (my daily spiritual reading and whatever free times I find – never seem to materialize….). I’m fortunate that I’ll be at the Carmelite hermitage in ___ next week for my annual retreat and will have a lot of time to go over the rubrics again and celebrate this form every day.

I celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass before today’s exorcism (I usually do them about 4-5 days a week) and the enemy was none too pleased. I’d normally say “offer it up” but it’s too late for him – so, just suffer is all he can do, I suppose.

Thanks for your wonderful blog and God bless your work. I hope to stay in touch.

And God bless you too, Father.

FATHERS: Learn the older, traditional form.  Doing so will teach you about who you are.  Also, the changes in you and your ars celebrandi will have a knock on effect with all those in your charge.  Moreover, you aren’t fully trained in your Rite, in this our Roman, Latin Church, until you do.  Yes, this might mean learning Latin.

EVERYONE: Ask, urge, cajole, prod, plead with your priests to learn the older, traditional form.  Be willing to pay any price to get him trained up.  Find all the materials and things he needs and generously, cheerfully, give them to him.  Pray and fast and perform other mortifications in reparation for his failings and ask God to give him strength and good resolve.  If he is stubborn ask his Guardian angels and Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy to get on him to learn the older form and open his mind and heart.

We need, now more than ever, the riches that the widespread use of the Usus Antiquior will bring.

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ASK FATHER: EMHCs when instituted acolytes are present

From a reader…


I am an instituted acolyte in formation for Holy Orders.

Based on my reading of the GIRM, an instituted acolyte is an extraordinary minister of holy communion and would be expected to serve in that role should they be called up to assist during Mass. Am I right?

If I read the GIRM correctly, then an instituted acolyte would be the first EMHC, and people from the pews would fill in as needed.

However, a lay liturgy director seems to be saying “spread the fun around” by telling us [instituted acolytes] not to serve as EHMC at a daily Mass.

It seems to me the liturgy guy is further muddling the concept of active participation by encouraging a proliferation of lay ministers in a spirit of inclusiveness.

Am I being insufficiently pastoral here? I will of course obey, but I would like to know what is the “right” thing to do given the context.


Instituted Acolytes are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.  They have no “right” to exercise ministry. There seems to be something of a preference in the rubrics for acolytes over other extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, but, in the end, they are all extraordinary. If an acolyte shows up at a place where he is not known, he ought not insist on his priority over other extraordinary ministers.

Yet, the stubborn fact remains, there is a certain preference for an acolyte over and above other extraordinary ministers.  Other people who serve are substituting for the instituted acolytes and lectors who aren’t there.

Moreover, it is a general principle of liturgy that roles should be distributed, all things being equal. If there are five bishops, ten priests, and eighteen deacons at Mass it would be foolish to have one priest doing everything – reading the readings, chanting the Gospel, preaching, reading the universal prayers, setting up the altar, and so forth.

Yet, the fact remains that, instituted acolytes are extraordinary.  Therefore, the liturgy director’s comment, that “opportunities be readily available to all those who have been trained and wish to serve” runs contrary to this fact that extraordinary ministers being extraordinary. That’s like saying the Vice President, who is there to step in should something happen to the President, should be given a regular opportunity to step into his extraordinary role as presidential successor because he’s trained for it. No, his role is extraordinary. If it’s not needed, great.  It is also his role not to be needed to step into the not-vacant office of President.

Next, someone in formation for Holy Orders should also exhibit a docility compatible with the Orders to which he aspires. Making a stink and insisting on that priority is contrary to the docility and humility that should mark the character of someone in formation. Unless one is being asked to violate one’s conscience or commit some liturgical or canonical crime, one should smile, nod, and say “Yes, Father,” “Yes, Rev. Mr. X,” or “Yes, Liturgy Czar.”

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Time in Rome is a sacrifice, not a career move.

UPDATE 30 Aug:

In yet another proof that liberals have a nasty streak a mile wide but no sense of humor, Michael Sean Winters at the Fishwrap posted a snarky attack on both me and on Cardinal Burke.

Let me spell this out for MSW and his crowd.  I did not speculate that Card. Burke would be moved to Chicago.  What I posted, below, was an exercise in IRONY (if you are a regular Fishwrap reader or from Columbia Heights click HERE for a definition of this hard word).

John Thavis, in his piece, opined that it is a great thing that Cañizares Llovera has been returned to his native Spain, that this may be some sort of genius masterstroke of Pope Francis to help curtail corruption, or something, in the Roman Curia.  Then – try to follow the move here – I brought up a parallel case, and with another figure that the catholic Left despises: Card. Burke.  If it was pastoral and good for the Roman Curia that Card. Cañizares be moved to a major see in his native place, then what American Cardinal in the Curia could be moved to a major see in his native place?  About which American diocese are lots of people talking right now?  Chicago.  See?  Thus: be careful what you wish for, liberals.  They never think things through, do they?

No one thinks that Pope Francis will send Card. Burke to Chicago.  Such a move would be fine by me.  I’d love to see the wailing and gnashing of teeth were he, the great defender of can. 915, sent to Washington DC, but that’s not going to happen either.

Also, take a look at MSW’s deeply nasty ad hominem swipe at Card. Burke.   And they yap about charity on the internet.  Sometimes people say that my combox has mean-spirited comments.  It is to laugh.  No place on the Catholic internet is more vicious than the comboxes at the National Schismatic Reporter.  Go see for yourselves.  HERE

Nasty.  Humorless.  Obtuse.

UPDATE 30 August evening, Saturday of Labor Day weekend:

Fishwrap posted that they were closing their comboxs for the Labor Day weekend.  HERE

And yet their commentators have been posting all day today.

Hmmmm.  Actually, it looks like the combox is turned off on some posts, but not others.  Did someone miss the memo?

_____   ORIGINALLY POSTED Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:08

John Thavis has an interesting observation in his reportage about the transfer of Card. Cañizares Llovera back to his native Spain after his term as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

A couple snips…

I’ve argued that if Pope Francis really wants to emphasize service over prestige in Vatican appointments, he should make it clear that those called to Rome are there temporarily, with no guarantee of career advancement, and can expect to return home after their five-year term is over.


It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis is willing to send younger department heads back to pastoral service after a few years at the Vatican, rather than keeping them on forever. The turnover would be good for the church, and would remind the prelates that their time in Rome is a sacrifice, not a career move.

Okay, I’ll bite!

Consider if you will the case of His Eminence Raymond Leo Card. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura.  He is young, in Cardinal Years.   Who better than he to exemplify Pope Francis’ laser-beam focus on the pastoral?

Pope Francis could make Card. Burke the next Archbishop of Chicago!

Think about it.

Card. Burke was born and raised in Wisconsin, near to the Windy City in the great upper Midwest.  He was Archbishop of St. Louis, and so knows his way around the job and around the USCCB.

One way or another, if Pope Francis sends Burke home as an Archbishop or keeps him in Rome as a Prefect, he will seek holiness and excellence in whatever role he has.  And, truth be told, there is quite simply no churchman more pastoral than Raymond Leo Card. Burke.

Little boy crying because he couldn't yet receive Holy Communion.

Posted in Lighter fare, Pope Francis | Tagged , , | 95 Comments

ACTION ITEM! Pre-Order (25% off) Book from 5 Cardinals in defense of marriage and tradition – UPDATE

Click to PRE-ORDER

UPDATE: Right now you can PRE-ORDER this book for 25% off.

Since it has been released elsewhere also, I can at last reveal the names of the 5 Cardinals and other authors involved in the book:


Walter Brandmüller
Raymond Leo Burke
Carlo Caffarra
Velasio De Paolis, C.S.,
Gerhard Ludwig Müller


Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA
Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J.
Prof. John M. Rist
Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J.


ORIGINAL POST Jul 29, 2014

There is a book of great importance about to emerge.  It is available for PRE-ORDER at a substantial discount.  It will come out in October 2014, timed for the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will tackle – inter alia – Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.


(Don’t hesitate, just click.  The UK link is coming soon, as is Kindle, I’m sure.)

I know quite a bit about this book, as it turns out.  The “five Cardinals” mentioned in the blurb, below, are going to please you when their names are revealed.  The other scholars involved are also top-notch.

The book will eventually be out in several languages.  It won’t be an easy read for some people, since a couple of the essays really drill into primary sources.  Do NOT let that discourage.  Punch above your weight, as they say.  You can do it.

YOUR TASK, however, is to pre-order this book NOW.  Make sure that Ignatius has a good response so they can have a big printing and wide distribution.

Here is the blurb:

In this volume five Cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars, respond to the call issued by Cardinal Walter Kasper for the Church to harmonize “fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people”.

Beginning with a concise introduction, the first part of the book is dedicated to the primary biblical texts pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and the second part is an examination of the teaching and practice prevalent in the early Church. In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of “toleration” of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. This book also examines the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as “mercy” implying “toleration”) in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. It traces the centuries long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.

Thus, in the second part of the book, the authors argue in favor of retaining the theological and canonical rationale for the intrinsic connection between traditional Catholic doctrine and sacramental discipline concerning marriage and communion.

The various studies in this book lead to the conclusion that the Church’s longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried. The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction.  [Remember: Liberals will say to us who defend tradition that we are conducting a war on mercy.]

“Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment.”
- St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio

Start ordering.  Order and then order some more.  When this book comes out, we want a torrent of copies absolutely everywhere.  You can bet that those who want to overturn our teaching and practice will be as active as little termites, chewing away at our foundations.  Don’t let them.  Get good information into as many hands as possible.

Trust me.

Buy in UK HERE (coming soon)

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ACTION ITEM!, Be The Maquis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, The Drill, ¡Vaya lío! | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

Muslim rape gangs enabled by the Left

More from the Religion of Peace and the Left who turns a blind eye. This from Truth Revolt:

horrifying news report in The Telegraph has recently confirmed that 1,400 children were discovered as victims of Muslim rape gangs and prostitution rings in Rotherham, UK, while authorities and child protection services turned a blind eye in order to avoid being called “racist.

Daniel Greenfield’s blog at The Point deals with this shameful and outrageous story: “UK Police Arrested Parents Trying to Stop Muslims from Raping their Children.”

In response to the surfacing of this story, and to shed light on the dark forces that help make the vicious system of Islamic sex slavery possible in the West, we are running The Glazov Gang’s special 2-part series with Gavin Boby, of the Law and Freedom Foundation, about the terrifying reality of Muslim rape gangs in the UK and how the Left facilitates their barbaric crimes against helpless young girls. The series crystallizes why the horrible story emerging about the 1,400 child victims in Rotherham was a Muslim crime that the Left allowed to occur.

In Part I, Boby shares his battle against “Muslim Rape Gangs in the U.K.” and in Part II, he discusses his report on this horrifying phenomenon, ‘Easy Meat,‘ and takes us “Inside the World of Muslim Rape Gangs”.

Posted in Liberals, The Coming Storm, The Religion of Peace, The Sin That Cries To Heaven For Vengence | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Aroma Therapy – Catholic style

Wake up and smell the incense!

A priest friend sent this to share for your Just Too Cool file.  From Science Daily:

Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses. [Pair that up with a gin martini flavored with borage flowers after Solemn Vespers on Sunday afternoon and you're set!]
“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”
To determine incense’s psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.


Read the rest there.

Who knew?


Check out Exodus 30:

1 ”You shall make an altar to burn incense upon; of acacia wood shall you make it.  … 7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. 9 You shall offer no unholy incense thereon, nor burnt offering, nor cereal offering; and you shall pour no libation thereon. …

When the priest blesses the incense – a sacrifice to be completely destroyed in the offering – for incensing the altar during Mass he says:

May the Lord, by the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who standeth at the right side of the altar of incense, and of all His Elect, vouchsafe to bless + this incense and receive it as an odor of sweetness: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And shall we forget Ps 141?  This is recited as the priest incenses the altar during Mass:

Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in Thy sight: the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and a door round about my lips. May my heart not incline to evil words, to make excuses for sins.

(RSV) 2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice! 3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips! 4Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity.


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