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The Common of Virgins

What Is the Common of Virgins?

The Common of Virgins is a set of readings in the lectionary which are read at Mass for the feast days of unmarried women saints.

Some saints have special readings for their feast days (propers), but most do not. So the presider may choose the readings from the appropriate commons.

As you can see from the quotes below, many of these readings focus on God as spouse, love, virginity, and devotion to Jesus Christ.

Mass Readings for the Common of Virgins

Choices for the First Reading from the Common of Virgins:

  • When it is not the Easter season:
    • Song of Songs 8:6-7: Love is described as powerful and enduring, impossible to extinguish even by the greatest waters. It’s so valuable that wealth cannot buy it; such an attempt would be scorned.
    • Hosea 2:16b, 17b, 21-22: God promises to lead Israel into a place of solitude, speaking tenderly to her, evoking the devotion of her youth. He commits to an eternal relationship based on righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness, deepening her knowledge of Him.
  • During the Easter season:
    • Revelation 19:1, 5-9a: John describes a celestial celebration with shouts of “Hallelujah” praising God’s salvation, power, and reign. The scene shifts to the Lamb’s marriage, symbolizing unity and purity, and concludes with a blessing for those invited to this divine feast.
    • Revelation 21:1-5a: John describes the revelation of a new heaven and earth, and the descent of the New Jerusalem, symbolizing God’s eternal dwelling with humanity. God promises to end sorrow and pain, offering renewal and eternal life to the faithful.

Choices for the Responsorial Psalm from the Common of Virgins:

  • Psalm 45: Heeding the call to leave her past, the bride is adorned for the king, her beauty and loyalty captivating him. Joyfully entering the palace, she paves the way for a legacy of leadership.
  • Psalm 148: From the heavens to the earth, all creation—angels, leaders, and people of every age—unites in praising the Lord’s majestic name. His glory and strength inspire a song of honor among His faithful.

Choices for the Second Reading from the Common of Virgins:

  • 1 Corinthians 7:25-35: Paul offers counsel on marriage and singleness, not as a command from the Lord but as advice. He suggests that given the present challenges, one should stay in their current state, whether married or single, to avoid added hardships. Emphasizing the fleeting nature of the world, Paul encourages undistracted devotion to the Lord, highlighting how marital status can influence one’s focus and concerns.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:17-11:2: Paul encourages believers to find their pride in the Lord, not in self-commendation. Expressing a divine jealousy, he aims to present them as pure to Christ, seeking their indulgence in his protective concern.

Choices for the Gospel from the Common of Virgins:

  • Matthew 19:3-12: Jesus addressed the Pharisees’ query about divorce by emphasizing the sacredness of marriage as intended from creation, underscoring the inseparable union between husband and wife established by God. He clarified Moses’ allowance for divorce as a concession to human stubbornness, not the original intent. Jesus further highlighted the gravity of divorce and remarriage as adultery, except in cases of sexual immorality, and acknowledged celibacy as a valid, though not universal, calling for those committed to heavenly pursuits.
  • Matthew 25:1-13: Jesus likened the Kingdom of heaven to ten virgins awaiting a bridegroom; half were wise, bringing extra oil, while the others were not. The bridegroom’s delay led to all sleeping; upon his arrival, only the prepared entered the feast. The unprepared were unrecognized, emphasizing vigilance for we know not the time of coming.
  • Luke 10:38-42: In a village, Martha hosted Jesus but became frustrated as her sister Mary listened to him, neglecting to help. Jesus told Martha that while she worried about many things, Mary chose the essential part by focusing on his words, a choice that would not be denied to her.

More About the Lectionary

The Common of Virgins is part of the lectionary. Learn more about how Catholics read from the Bible at Mass. What is the difference between the Bible and a lectionary? How is the lectionary arranged? What translation is used? Learn about it.

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