FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
My deliverer from angry nations, you set me above my assailants;
you saved me from the violent man, O Lord.
Enlighten, O God of compassion,
the hearts of your children, sanctified by penance,
and in your kindness grant those you stir to a sense of devotion
a gracious hearing when they cry out to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET DANIEL
(HE HAS SENT HIS ANGEL TO RESCUE HIS SERVANTS.)
King Nebuchadnezzar said,
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
is it true that you do not serve my gods, and that you refuse to worship the golden statue I have erected?
When you hear the sound of horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, or any other instrument, are you prepared to prostrate yourselves and worship the statue I have made?
If you refuse to worship it, you must be thrown straight away into the burning fiery furnace; and where is the god who could save you from my power?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar,
“Your question hardly requires an answer:
if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us;
and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.”
These words infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar;
his expression was very different now as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
He gave orders for the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual, and commanded certain stalwarts from his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar sprang to his feet in amazement.
He said to his advisers,
“Did we not have these three men thrown bound into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
“But,” he went on, “I can see four men walking about freely in the heart of the fire without coming to any harm.
And the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
he has sent his angel to rescue his servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king,
and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own.”
The word of the Lord.