Saturday, 14 January 2017

Matins readings for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

The readings and responsories for Matins in the Benedictine Office for the Second Sunday after Epiphany are set out below.

Nocturn I (2 Corinthians 1)

Reading 1:   Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:  Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

R. O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure.
* Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.
V. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath overwhelmed me.
R. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.

Reading 2:  Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.  That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

R. O God, Which seatest in the throne judging right, be Thou a refuge for the poor, a refuge in times of trouble.
* For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.
V. The poor leaveth himself unto thee; Thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless.
R. For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.

Reading 3:  For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life. [But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.  Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

R. The Lord is at my right hand, I shall never be moved.
* Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.
V. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup.
R. Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.

Reading 4:  For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity of heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world: and more abundantly towards you.  For we write no other things to you than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end:

Nocturn II: Sermon of St John Chrysostom (Preface for the letters of St Paul)

Reading 5: As I listen intently to the reading of S.Paul's Epistles, often two or three times a week, whenever we commemorate the holy martyrs, I am filled with joy, delighting in the sound of that spiritual trumpet. And as I recognize the voice of a friend, I am roused, and enkindled with love so that I almost seem to see him present, and to hear him speaking. But nevertheless I am grieved, and am troubled, that all do not know this great man as he desrves to be known. Indeed, many are so ignorant that they do not even know how many epistles he wrote. But this ignorance is not due to a want of intelligence on their part, but because they will not carefully study the writings of this great man.

R. O Lord, Thou hast shown me the path of life.
* Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
V. Thou art He That shalt restore mine inheritance unto me.
R. Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Reading 6: For what we know, if we know anything, we do not know it owing to any superlative talent or penetration, but, being strongly drawn towards this great man, we never cease from reading his works. For so it is that those who love any one usually know better than others what he has done, because they take the trouble to learn all about him. The blessed Paul himself shows that this is so, when he says to the Philippians: As it is meet for me to think this for you all : for that I have you in my heart; and in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel.

R. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my rock
* And my fortress.
V. My Deliverer, my God, mine Helper.
R. And my fortress.

Reading 7: And if you also will diligently attend to the reading, you will have no need of other instruction. Most true are those words of Christ : Seek and you shall find : knock and it shall be opened unto you.

R. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof
* The world, and they that dwell therein.
V. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
R. The world, and they that dwell therein.

Reading 8: For the rest, since many of those who are assembled here are charged with the care of a wife, and with providing for a family, and with the bringing-up of children, and therefore cannot devote themselves wholly to this study; let them at least bestir themselves to receive what others have gathered; showing as much eagerness in listening to what is said about him as in acquiring wealth. For though it is unseemly to demand from you no more than this, yet it is to be wished that you do this at least.

Nocturn III: Sermon of St Augustine on John 2 (Tract 9)

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to John (John 2:1-11)
In that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And so on.

Even setting aside any mystical interpretation, the fact that the Lord was pleased to be asked, and to go to a marriage, showeth plainly enough that He is the Author and Blesser of marriage. There were yet to be those of whom the Apostle hath warned us as forbidding to marry ; who say that marriage is a bad thing in itself, and a work of the devil. Yet we read in the Gospel that when the Lord was asked, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? He answered that it was not lawful, except it were for fornication. In which answer ye will remember that He used these words : What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

R. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
* O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.
V. O keep my soul and deliver me.
R. O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.

Reading 10: They who are well instructed in the Catholic religion know that God is the Author and Blesser of marriage ; and that, whereas joining together in marriage is of God, divorce is of the devil. But it is lawful for a man to put away his wife in case of fornication, 8 for by not keeping a wife's faith to her husband she herself hath first willed not to be wife.

Reading 11: They also who have made a vow of their virginity to God and have thereby attained to an higher degree of honour and holiness in the Church, are not unmarried, for they are a special part of the marriage of the whole Church, which is the Bride of Christ.

R. My sins, O Lord, are fixed in me, like arrows, but before they caused wounds in me,
* Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.
V. For I know my iniquity, * and my sin is always before me.

R. Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.

Reading 12: Lord, being asked, went to the marriage, to strengthen the marriage tie, and to shed light on the hidden meaning of matrimony. In that marriage feast the Bridegroom to whom it was said, " Thou hast kept the good wine until now," was a figure of the Lord Christ, Who hath kept until now the good wine, namely the Gospel.

R: One Seraph cried unto another
* Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: St John 2:1-11


And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. [2] And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. [3] And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. [4] And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. [5] His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.[6] Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. [7] Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. [8] And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. [9] And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, [10] And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.[11] This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord



Nocturn I: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (nb; readings of the day, divided into four, with responsories of the feast)

Reading 1: If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

R. (Hodie in Jordane) This day, when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove, and abode upon Him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 2: Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;  Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

R. (In columbae) The Holy Ghost appeared in a bodily shape like a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard:
* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The heavens were opened unto him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 3: Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

R. (Reges Tarsis) The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents. * The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.
V. All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense.
R. The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.

Reading 4: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

R. (Dies sanctificatus) This day which is breaking is holy; O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.* For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Come let us adore him for he himself is our Lord God
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Glory be...
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.

Nocturn II: Sermon of St Gregory Nazianzen (from I, XV, XVI)

Reading 5: I am not able to restrain the outbursts of my happiness. I feel changed and elated. I forget my own meanness while I undertake and try to discharge the office of the great John. It is true that I am not the Forerunner, but at least I come from the desert. Christ is enlightened, or rather, He enlighteneth us with His own light. Christ is baptized; let us go down with Him into the water, that we may come up with Him.

R. Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come;
* And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Reading 6: John is baptizing. Jesus cometh. He cometh that He may make holy him who baptizeth Him; He cometh to bury the old Adam in the waters; He cometh to hallow the blessed flood of Jordan. He Who is Flesh and Spirit cometh to open for all that should ever be baptized that power of generation whereby new peoples are constantly begotten of water and the Holy Ghost. The Baptist will not receive Him. Jesus striveth with him. I, saith John, have need to be baptized of thee. Thus speaketh the candle to the Sun, the voice to the Word.

R. All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord.* Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 7: Jesus came up out of the water, having, in a manner, washed the whole world, and brought it up with Him. And He saw the heavens opened not divided, even those heavens which Adam had once shut upon himself and us his descendants, when the cherub's fiery sword barred the gates of Paradise.

R. There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, asking and saying: Where is He That is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east;
* And are come to worship the Lord.
V. We have seen His star in the east.
R. And are come to worship the Lord.

Reading 8: And the Holy Spirit bare witness, witness unto Him Who is of One Substance with Himself. And witness was given from Heaven, unto Him that came down from heaven.

R (Interrogabat Magos Herodes) Herod inquired of the wise men: What sign have you concerning him that is born king?We have seen a star shning, the brightness whereof enlightens the world. * And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: There came wise men from the east, seeking the face of the Lord and saying
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: Glory be...
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord

Nocturn III : Homily of St Augustine (Tract. 6 on John, n 7&8)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John - At that time, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. And so on.

John knew Jesus even before He came to be baptized of him in Jordan, as we perceive by the words I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest Thou to me? Behold, how he knew that He was the Lord, how he knew that He was the Son of God! How do we prove that he knew that He it was Who should baptize with the Holy Ghost? Before the Lord came to the river, when many betook themselves to John to be baptized of him, the Baptist said I indeed baptize you with water but One Mightier than I cometh; the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  Behold, John knew this also.

R. The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till they came where the young Child was.
* And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
V. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.
R. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Reading 10: Yet John saith: I knew Him Now, how are we to explain this without calling John a liar? and God forbid that we should ever even think anything of the kind. Was it not that when the Dove descended on Christ, John then for the first time knew Him to have that peculiar attribute, that, whosoever should baptize with His Baptism, whether they were themselves just or unjust, the virtue of the Sacrament should proceed, not from them, but from Him on Whom abode the Dove; so that He is the real Baptizer in every Christian Baptism until the end of time, and it is in this sense that it is said of Him the Same is He Which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost Whether it be Peter, or Paul, or Judas, that performeth the ceremony, the real Baptizer and effectual Worker is Christ.

R. (Videntes stellam) When the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.* And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him; * and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
V. The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
R. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.

Reading 11: For if the holiness of the baptism depended on the holiness of the particular officiator, no two baptisms would be exactly alike, and every one would be supposed to be more or less regenerated according as the minister who baptized him was more or less of a saint.  Now, my brethren, understand me. The saints themselves, those good men who appertain to the Dove, those good men whose portion is in Jerusalem, those good men in the Church, of whom the Apostle saith: the Lord knoweth them that are His, these good men differ one from another by diversities of graces, and are not all of the same worthiness.

R: (Venit lumen tuum)  Thy light is come O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. *And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising
V: Thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side
R: And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising

Reading 12: Some are holier than others, and some are better than others. Supposing then for the sake of argument that A is baptized by B, a righteous saint, and C is baptized by D who is less worthy in the sight of God, who hath attained only a lower degree in godliness, who is not so chaste, and whose life is not so good as B's, yet A and C receive just the same thing. And how is this, unless it be that it is Christ Himself Who is the effectual Baptizer?

R (Hic est dies praeclarus)  This is the wondrous day on which the Saviour of the world was manifested, he whom Prophets foretold and Angels announced: * Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V This is the sanctified day which has shone upon us, come ye peoples and the adore the Lord
R Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V: Glory be...
R: Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts

Gospel: St John 1: 29-34

The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.  This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.  And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.

Monday, 9 January 2017

New translation resource - Vulgate, Douay-Rheims and Knox side-by-side

A reader has kindly alerted me to a new translation resource, from Baronius Press, providing the Vulgate, Knox and Douay-Rheims translations side-by-side online.

These are my three 'go to' translations, and having them in one place is extremely helpful.

Three key comparison points

The Vulgate is the key text as far as I'm concerned, since it is the language of the breviary and Missal, and used by most of the Western Fathers and Theologians for centuries.

I have to admit that I like New Advent's provision of the Greek  (Septuagint for the Old Testament) as well, but their shift from Douay-Rheims to the Knox version was problematic for me.  the problem is that while the Knox translation is very beautiful and often very clear, it is not very literal, and sometimes follows the Hebrew Masoretic Text version rather than the Septuagint-Vulgate tradition.

The new 'Catholic Bible Online' solves this problem by putting the two English translations side-by side with the Vulgate.

This is what it looks like:

Vulgate><Douay-Rheims><Knox Bible
1

In principio creavit Deus cælum et terram.
1

In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.
1

God, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth.
2

Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebræ erant super faciem abyssi: et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas.
2

And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
2

Earth was still an empty waste, and darkness hung over the deep; but already, over its waters, stirred the breath of God.

You can also look at the three versions on their own, and the Douay-Rheims version has an option to show the Challoner notes.

Format

The site's layout is clear and simple, and very nicely done.

While the side-by-side version is in a table, the individual versions are not, making it easy to cut and paste (much more so than New Advent) for one's own lectio purposes.

The only minor quibble I have is in names for books of the Bible in the index column, which follow the traditional format - so Books 1-IV of Kings (instead of 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings); 1&2 Paralipomenon (instead of Chronicles), etc. This will be puzzling to those used to  modern editions of the Bible.  In some cases they have added the alternative name, such as Nehemiah for 2 Esdras, but it would be nice to include them all, for the benefit of newcomers to tradition.

All in all though, a wonderful resource.

Fathers and the tradition

Once you've looked at the translations of the text though, you will want to look at the commentaries on the text; how it has been understood by the tradition, and for that purpose, New Advent has some fantastic resources, with more translations of Patristic sources being added all the time.  So do go check it out as well!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Matins readings for the First Sunday after Epiphany


Nocturn I1 Corinthians I: 1-3; 4-9; 10-11; 12-13

Reading 1: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes a brother,
 To the church of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in every place of theirs and ours. Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

R. (Hodie in jordane) This day, when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove, and abode upon Him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 2: I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus, That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; As the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful: by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

R. (In columbae) The Holy Ghost appeared in a bodily shape like a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard:* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The heavens were opened unto him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 3:  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment. For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

R. (Reges Tharsis) The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents.* The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.
V. All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense.
R. The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.

Reading 4: Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

R. (Dies sanctificatus) This day which is breaking is holy; O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.* For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Come let us adore him for he himself is our Lord God
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Glory be...
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.

Nocturn IISermon 36 of St Leo

Reading 5: It is meet and right, dearly beloved brethren, yea, it is our bounden duty and godly service, to rejoice with full hearts upon those days which more especially set forth before us the workings of God's mercy; and to have in honourable memory those things that were done for our salvation. Hereto are we called by the seasons of the year which continually return, and notably by this present, which, after but a short time hath passed since that day whereon the Coeternal Son of God was born of a Virgin, bringeth now the Feast of the Epiphany, hallowed by the Manifestation of the Lord.

R. Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come; * And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Reading 6: In this said Manifestation the good Providence of God hath appointed a strong bulwark to our faith. For now, while in solemn worship we call to mind how the childhood of the Saviour was adored in its first infancy, we receive from the original Scriptures the doctrine that Christ was born with the very nature of man.

R. (Omnes de Saba) All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord.* Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 7: For this is that which maketh of sinners saints, even to believe that in one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ there is very Godhead and very Manhood—very Godhead, as touching Which, He, being in the form of God, is equal to the Father from everlasting to everlasting — and very Manhood, wherein He, taking upon Him the form of a servant, hath in these latter days been born Man.

R. (Magi veniunt) There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, asking and saying: Where is He That is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east;
* And are come to worship the Lord.
V. We have seen His star in the east.
R. And are come to worship the Lord.

Reading 8: For the strengthening of this our faith, which we profess in the face of every false doctrine, the mercy of God hath made it to come to pass that one of those peoples who dwell in the uttermost parts of the East, and excel in the skill of reading the stars, should see the sign of the birth of that Child Who was to reign over all Israel. There appeared to the eyes of wise men a new star of such passing beauty, as wrought in the minds of all that saw it the persuasion that the event, which is announced, was of an importance not to be neglected.

R (Interrogabat Magos Herodes) Herod inquired of the wise men: What sign have you concerning him that is born king?We have seen a star shning, the brightness whereof enlightens the world. * And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: There came wise men from the east, seeking the face of the Lord and saying
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: Glory be...
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord

Nocturn III: Homily of St Ambrose on St Luke 2:63-65 

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Luke - When Jesus was twelve years old they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the Feast, and when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. And so on.

We read that when He was twelve years old the Lord began to dispute. The number of His years was the same as the number of the Apostles whom He afterwards sent forth to preach the Faith. He Who, as touching His Manhood, was filled with wisdom and grace from God, was not careless of the parents of the same Manhood, and, after three days, was pleased to be found in the Temple : thereby foreshadowing that, after the three days of His victorious Passion, He That had been reckoned with the dead, would present Himself, living, to our faith, in His heavenly Kingship and Divine Majesty.

R. (Stella quam viderant) The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till they came where the young Child was.* And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
V. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.
R. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Reading 10: How is it that ye sought Me? Christ hath two Generations; one from His Father, another from His Mother. That from His Father is His Eternal Generation as God the Son; that from His Mother is that whereby He came to work for us and minister to us. Those acts, therefore, of His, which are above nature, beyond His age, and different to His custom, proceeded not from the strength of His Manhood, but from the power of His Godhead.

R. (Videntes stellam) When the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him; * and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
V. The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
R. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.

Reading 11: On another occasion His Mother moveth Him to work a miracle; here He answereth her, because she treateth that which was of the Godhead, as though it had been of the Manhood. On this occasion it is said that He was twelve years old, but on the other He had already disciples. His mother had seen His wonders on the earlier occasion, and had learnt from her Son to call on the mightier nature for a work of power.

R: (Venit lumen tuum)  Thy light is come O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. *And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising
V: Thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side
R: And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising

Reading 12: He came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. No wonder that the great Teacher should practise. And shall we marvel how He Who was subject to His Mother, was about His Father's business? His subjection to His Mother proceeded, not from weakness, but from dutiful affection. Nevertheless, the false serpent lifteth its head from its cruel lair, and spitteth poison from its venomous breast. The heretics say that, as the Son was sent by the Father, therefore the Father is greater than the Son, and, if the Father be greater than the Son, there is that, than which the Son is less; yea, that He Who is sent, hath of necessity, need of some strengthening from outside Himself. He was subject to His Mother? Was He less than she? God forbid!

R (Hic est dies praeclarus)  This is the wondrous day on which the Saviour of the world was manifested, he whom Prophets foretold and Angels announced: * Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V This is the sanctified day which has shone upon us, come ye peoples and the adore the Lord
R Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V: Glory be...
R: Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts

GospelSt Luke 2: 42-52

And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Matins readings for the feast of the Epiphany (Jan 6)

The Matins readings for the feast of the Epiphany in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I: Isaiah 55:1-4; 60:1-3; 4-6; 61:10-11, 62:1

Reading 1: All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk without money, and without any price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness. Incline your ear and come to me: hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies of David. Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, for a leader and a master to the Gentiles.

R. (Hodie in Jordane) This day, when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove, and abode upon Him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 2: Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.  For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.

R. (In columbae) The Holy Ghost appeared in a bodily shape like a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard:
* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
V. The heavens were opened unto him, and, lo, the voice of the Father was heard, like unto thunder, saying:
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

Reading 3:  Lift up thy eyes round about, and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see, and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense: and shewing forth praise to the Lord.

R. (Reges Tarsis) The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents. * The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.
V. All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense.
R. The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts unto the Lord God.

Reading 4: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation: and with the robe of justice he hath covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth her seed to shoot forth: so shall the Lord God make justice to spring forth, and praise before all the nations. For Sion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not rest till her just one come forth as brightness, and her saviour be lighted as a lamp.

R. (Dies sanctificatus) This day which is breaking is holy; O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.* For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Come let us adore him for he himself is our Lord God
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V Glory be...
R For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.

Nocturn II (Sermon 32 of St Leo)

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, rejoice in the Lord; again I say, rejoice. But a few days are past since the solemnity of Christ's Birth, and now the glorious light of His Manifestation is breaking upon us. On that day the Virgin brought Him forth, and on this the world knew Him. The Word made Flesh was pleased to reveal Himself by degrees to those for whom He had come. When Jesus was born He was manifested indeed to the believing, but hidden from His enemies.

R. (Illuminare) Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come;* And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Reading 6: Already indeed the heavens declared the glory of God, and their sound went out into all lands, when the Herald Angels appeared to tell to the shepherds the glad tidings of a Saviour's Birth; and now the guiding star leadeth the wise men to worship Him, that from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, the Birth of the true King may be known abroad; that through those wise men the kingdoms of the east might learn the great truth, and the Roman empire remain no more in darkness.

R. (Omnes de Saba) All they from Saba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord.* Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 7: The very cruelty of Herod, when he strove to crush at His birth this King Whom he alone feared, was made a blind means to carry out this dispensation of mercy. While the tyrant with horrid guilt sought to slay the little Child he did not know, amid an indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, his infamous act served to spread wider abroad the heaven-told news of the Birth of the Lord. Thus were these glad tidings loudly proclaimed, both by the novelty of their story, and the iniquity of their enemies. Then was the Saviour borne into Egypt, that nation, of a long time hardened in idolatry, might by the mysterious virtue which went out of Him, even when His presence was unknown, be prepared for the saving light so soon to dawn on them, and might receive the Truth as a wanderer even before they had banished falsehood.

R. (Magi veniunt) There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, asking and saying: Where is He That is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east;* And are come to worship the Lord.
V. We have seen His star in the east.
R. And are come to worship the Lord.

Reading 8: Dearly beloved brethren, we recognize in the wise men who came to worship Christ, the first-fruits of that dispensation to the Gentiles wherein we also are called and enlightened. Let us then keep this Feast with grateful hearts, in thanksgiving for our blessed hope, whereof it doth commemorate the dawn. From that worship paid to the new-born Christ is to be dated the entry of us Gentiles upon our heirship of God and co-heirship with Christ. Since that joyful day the Scriptures which testify of Christ have lain open for us as well as for the Jews. Yea, their blindness rejected that Truth, Which, since that day, hath shed Its bright beams upon all nations. Let all observance, then, be paid to this most sacred day, whereon the Author of our salvation was made manifest, and as the wise men fell down and worshipped Him in the manger, so let us fall down and worship Him enthroned Almighty in heaven. As they also opened their treasures and presented unto Him mystic and symbolic gifts, so let us strive to open our hearts to Him, and offer Him from thence some worthy offering.

R (Interrogabat Magos Herodes) Herod inquired of the wise men: What sign have you concerning him that is born king?We have seen a star shining, the brightness whereof enlightens the world. * And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: There came wise men from the east, seeking the face of the Lord and saying
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord
V: Glory be...
R: And we have known, and are come to worship the Lord

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory (10 on the Gospels)

Reading 9: Matt 2:1-12: When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, hear ye from the Gospel lesson how, when the King of heaven was born, the king of earth was troubled? The heights of heaven are opened and the depths of earth are stirred. Let us now consider the question, why, when the Redeemer was born, an angel brought the news to the shepherds of Judea, but a star led the wise men of the East to worship Him.

R. The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till they came where the young Child was.* And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
V. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.
R. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Reading 10: It seemeth as if the Jews as reasonable creatures received a revelation from a reasonable being, that is, an angel, but the Gentiles without, being as brutes, are roused not by a voice, but by a sign, that is, a star. Hence Paul hath it: a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. So the prophesying, that is, of the angel was given to them that believed, and the sign to them that believed not.

R. When the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.* And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him; * and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
V. The star which the wise men had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
R. And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.

Reading 11: Thus also we remark that afterwards the Redeemer was preached among the Gentiles not by Himself, but by His Apostles, even as, when a little Child, He is shown to them, not by the voice of angels, but merely by the vision of a star. When He Himself had begun to speak He was made known to us by speakers, but when He lay silent in the manger, by that silent testimony in heaven. But whether we consider the signs which accompanied His birth or His death, this thing is wonderful, namely, the hardness of heart of the Jews, who would not believe in Him either for prophesying or for miracles.

R: (Venit lumen tuum)  Thy light is come O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. *And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising
V: Thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side
R: And the gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of they rising

Reading 12: All things which He had made, bore witness that their Maker was come. Let me reckon them after the manner of men. The heavens knew that He was God, and sent a star to shine over where He lay. The sea knew it, and bore Him up when He walked upon it. The earth knew it, and quaked when He died. The sun knew it, and was darkened. The rocks and walls knew it, and rent at the hour of His death. Hell knew it, and gave up the dead that were in it. And yet up to this very hour the hearts of the unbelieving Jews will not acknowledge that He to Whom all nature testified is their God, and, being more hardened than the rocks, refuse to be rent by repentance.

R (Hic est dies praeclarus)  This is the wondrous day on which the Saviour of the world was manifested, he whom Prophets foretold and Angels announced: * Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V This is the sanctified day which has shone upon us, come ye peoples and the adore the Lord
R Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts
V: Glory be...
R: Whose star the wise men saw with exceeding  great joy and presented unto him gifts

Gospel: St Matthew 2: 1-12

When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.  But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.  Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them;  And sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come to adore him.  Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.  And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Octave of the Nativity (Jan 1)

The Readings for the Octave Day of the Nativity (aka Circumcision of Our Lord) in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I: Romans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17

[Psalms 2, 18, 23, 44, 47, 71]

Reading 1: What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh.  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God.

R. Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Which taketh away the sins of the world; behold Him of Whom I said unto you: He That cometh after me is preferred before me * Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. He that is of the earth speaketh of the earth; He That cometh from heaven is above all.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Reading 2: As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.

R. This day which is breaking is holy; O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.* For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V. This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
R. For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.

Reading 3: This blessedness then, doth it remain in the circumcision only, or in the uncircumcision also? For we say that unto Abraham faith was reputed to justice. How then was it reputed? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the justice of the faith, which he had, being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, being uncircumcised, that unto them also it may be reputed to justice: And might be the father of circumcision; not to them only, that are of the circumcision, but to them also that follow the steps of the faithful, that is in the uncircumcision of our father Abraham.

R. Blessed be He That cometh in the name of the Lord! God is the Lord Who hath showed us light.* Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 4: For not through the law was the promise to Abraham, or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world; but through the justice of faith. For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, the promise is made of no effect. For the law worketh wrath. For where there is no law, neither is there transgression. Therefore is it of faith, that according to grace the promise might be firm to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, As it is written: I have made thee a father of many nations, before God, whom he believed, who quickeneth the dead; and calleth those things that are not, as those that are.

Nocturn II: Sermon of St Leo (27 on the Nativity of Our Lord 7)

[Psalms 84, 86, 95, 96, 97, 98]

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, whosoever will keep truly and honour piously this day's festival, it is necessary for him neither to think falsely of the Lord's Incarnation, nor meanly of the Lord's Godhead. For as there is danger, on the one hand, of denying the truth of Christ's participation of our nature, so is there no less danger, on the other, of doing despite to the equality of His glory with the glory of the Father. Wherefore, when we draw near to understand the mystery of Christ's Birth, wherein He was born of the Virgin Mary, we must leave the clouds of earthly imagination behind and pierce the fog of human wisdom with the eye of enlightened faith.

R. Rejoice with me, all ye that love the Lord.* For while I was yet little I pleased the Most High, and from my womb have I brought forth God and man.
V. All generations shall call me blessed, for God hath regarded the lowliness of His hand-maiden.
R. For while I was yet little I pleased the Most High, and from my womb have I brought forth God and man.

Reading 6:The authority on which we believe is the authority of God Himself; the teaching which we follow is the teaching of God Himself. Wherefore whether we lend the ear of our mind to the testimony of the Law, or to the revelations of the Prophets, or to the full pealing of the Gospel trumpet, that is true, which John the Son of Thunder, uttered, when he was filled with the Holy Ghost, and said: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

R. The heart of the Virgin was fixed, when the Angel declared unto her the mystery of God, and she conceived, then did she receive in her pure womb Him That is fairer than the children of men.* And, she that is blessed for ever, brought forth for us God and man.
V. Soon rises, in that modest shrine, The Temple of the Lord Divine The stainless and unwedded one, Within her womb conceived the Son.
R. And, she that is blessed for ever, brought forth for us God and man.

Reading 7: The Same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. True also is his witness when he saith: The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father. The Person of the Son of God therefore remaineth unchanged and one, though He have two natures, keeping His own, and taking ours. He appeareth as man to be the restorer of men, but abideth all the while in His immutable Godhead.

R. Blessed and worshipful art thou, O Virgin Mary; from thee, still maiden undefiled, the Saviour came a little Child.* He Whose glory filled the heavens lay in a manger.
V. O Lord, I have heard thy speech and was afraid; I considered thy works and trembled. O Thou That dwellest between the two living creatures!
R. He Whose glory filled the heavens lay in a manger.

Reading 8: That Godhead which He shareth with the Father was not a whit the less Almighty, nor did the form of a servant touch the form of God to derogate from it. The Most High and Everlasting Being, bending down for man's salvation, took the Manhood into His glory; He ceased not to be That which He is from everlasting. Hence we see the Only-begotten Son of God in one place confessing that the Father is greater than He, John xiv. 28, and in another declaring that He and the Father are One. This is an evident proof of the distinction of His two natures, and the unity of His Person; for He is inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood, and yet equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and yet, though He be God and Man, He is not two, but One Christ.

Nocturn III: Homily of Ambrose (On Luke 2:55-57)

Reading 9: So the Child is circumcised. This is the Child of Whom it is said: Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. Made under the law to redeem them that were under the law.  To present Him to the Lord.  In my Commentary on Isaiah I have already explained what is meant by being presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, and therefore I will not enter into the subject again. He that is circumcised in heart gaineth the protection of God, for the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous.

R. O Mary, how holy and how spotless is thy virginity! I am too dull to praise thee* For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

Reading 10: We will see that as all the ceremonies of the old law were types of realities in the new, so the circumcision of the body signified the cleansing of the heart from the guilt of sin.But since the body and mind of man remain yet infected with a proneness' to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day is also a type of that complete cleansing from sin which we shall have at the resurrection. This ceremony was also performed in obedience to the commandment of God: Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord. These words were written with especial reference to the delivery of the Blessed Virgin.

R. The Virgin-Mother that knew not a man, bore, but travailed not.* She fed the Saviour of the world, The King of Angel hosts above, Jesus, our Redeemer blest, From the fountain of her breast.
V. Soon rises in that modest shrine, The Temple of the Lord Divine; The stainless and unwedded one, Within her womb conceived the Son.
R. She fed the Saviour of the world, The King of Angel hosts above, Jesus, our Redeemer blest, From the fountain of her breast.

Reading 11: Truly He That opened her womb was holy, for He was altogether without spot, and we may gather that the law was written specially for Him from the words of the Angel: That Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.Among all that are born of women the Lord Jesus Christ stood alone in holiness. Fresh from His immaculate Birth, He felt no contagion from human corruption, and His heavenly Majesty drove it away.

Reading 12: If we are to follow the letter and say that every male that openeth the womb is holy, how shall we explain that so many have been unrighteous? Was Ahab holy? Were the false prophets holy? Were they holy on whom Elijah justly called down fire from heaven? But He to Whom the sacred commandment of the law of God is mystically directed is the Holy One of Israel; Who also alone hath opened the secret womb of His holy Virgin-bride the Church, filling her with a sinless fruitfulness to give birth to Christian souls.

Gospel: St Luke 2:21

When eight days had passed, and the boy must be circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before ever he was conceived in the womb.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Fifth to seventh days in the Octave of the Nativity

The readings for December 29&30 in the Benedictine Office (1963) are unfortunately not available online as far as I can find.  They are:

29 December (5th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Bede (I, 7 on the Nativity of Our Lord)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

(or Common of a Martyr for St Thomas Beckett)

30 December (6th day in Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Ambrose (on St Luke 2:53-54)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

The readings for 31 December (7th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Leo (Sermon 26 on the Nativity of Our Lord, 6)

Reading 1: On all days and at all times, dearly beloved, does the birth of our Lord and Saviour from the Virgin-mother occur to the thoughts of the faithful, who meditate on divine things, that the mind may be aroused to the acknowledgment of its Maker, and whether it be occupied in the groans of supplication, or in the shouting of praise, or in the offering of sacrifice, may employ its spiritual insight on nothing more frequently and more trustingly than on the fact that God the Son of God, begotten of the co-eternal Father, was also born by a human birth. But this Nativity which is to be adored in heaven and on earth is suggested to us by no day more than this when, with the early light still shedding its rays on nature , there is borne in upon our senses the brightness of this wondrous mystery. For the angel Gabriel's converse with the astonished Mary and her conception by the Holy Ghost as wondrously promised as believed, seem to recur not only to the memory but to the very eyes.

Reading 2: For today the Maker of the world was born of a Virgin's womb, and He, who made all natures, became Son of her, whom He created. Today the Word of God appeared clothed in flesh, and That which had never been visible to human eyes began to be tangible to our hands as well. Today the shepherds learned from angels' voices that the Saviour was born in the substance of our flesh and soul; and today the form of the Gospel message was pre-arranged by the leaders of the Lord's flocks , so that we too may say with the army of the heavenly host: Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace to men of good will.

Reading 3: And hence the very greatness of the boon conferred demands of us reverence worthy of its splendour. For, as the blessed Apostle teaches, we have received not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us by God 1 Corinthians 2:12: and that Spirit can in no other way be rightly worshipped, except by offering Him that which we received from Him. But in the treasures of the Lord's bounty what can we find so suitable to the honour of the present feast as the peace, which at the Lord's nativity was first proclaimed by the angel-choir? For that it is which brings forth the sons of God, the nurse of love and the mother of unity: the rest of the blessed and our eternal home; whose proper work and special office it is to join to God those whom it removes from the world.

Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6