Sts. Joachim and Anna, parents of the Holy Mother of God,
The Holy Oil-Bearing Women
 With thee is wisdom, who knows thy works
and was present when thou didst make the world,
and who understand what is pleasing in thy sight
and what is right according to thy commandments.
 Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of thy glory send her,
that she may be with me and toil,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to thee.
 For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.
 Then my works will be acceptable,
and I shall judge thy people justly,
and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
 For what man can learn the counsel of God?
Or who can discern what the Lord wills?
 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless,
and our designs are likely to fail,
 for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
 We can hardly guess at what is on earth,
and what is at hand we find with labor;
but who has traced out what is in the heavens?
 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom
and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?
 And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and men were taught what pleases thee,
and were saved by wisdom.”
 Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the
world, when he alone had been created;
she delivered him from his transgression,
 and gave him strength to rule all things.
 And Mordecai said, “These things have come from God.
 For I remember the dream that I had concerning these matters, and none of them has failed to be fulfilled.
 The tiny spring which became a river, and there was light and the sun and abundant water — the river is Esther, whom the king married and made queen.
 The two dragons are Haman and myself.
 The nations are those that gathered to destroy the name of the Jews.
 And my nation, this is Israel, who cried out to God and were saved. The Lord has saved his people; the Lord has delivered us from all these evils; God has done great signs and wonders, which have not occurred among the nations.
 And the Israelites, when they returned from the slaughter, took possession of what remained, and the villages and towns in the hill country and in the plain got a great amount of booty, for there was a vast quantity of it.
 Then Joakim the high priest, and the senate of the people of Israel who lived at Jerusalem, came to witness the good things which the Lord had done for Israel, and to see Judith and to greet her.
 And when they met her they all blessed her with one accord and said to her, “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation!
 You have done all this singlehanded; you have done great good to Israel, and God is well pleased with it. May the Almighty Lord bless you for ever!” And all the people said, “So be it!”
 So all the people plundered the camp for thirty days. They gave Judith the tent of Holofernes and all his silver dishes and his beds and his bowls and all his furniture; and she took them and loaded her mule and hitched up her carts and piled the things on them.
 Then all the women of Israel gathered to see her, and blessed her, and some of them performed a dance for her; and she took branches in her hands and gave them to the women who were with her;
 and they crowned themselves with olive wreaths, she and those who were with her; and she went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and with songs on their lips.
 Then Judith began this thanksgiving before all Israel, and all the people loudly sang this song of praise.
 And Judith said, Begin a song to my God with tambourines,
sing to my Lord with cymbals.
Raise to him a new psalm;
exalt him, and call upon his name.
 For God is the Lord who crushes wars;
for he has delivered me out of the hands of my pursuers,
and brought me to his camp, in the midst of the people.
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
 He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
 which he lavished upon us.
 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ
 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will,
 we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.
 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;
 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America