Saturday, 20 August 2016

Matins readings for the third Sunday of August (Nocturns I&II)

The readings at Matins in the Benedictine Office this Sunday for the first two Nocturns are of the third week of August.


Nocturn I: Wisdom 1: 1-13

Reading 1: Love justice, you that are the judges of the earth. Think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in simplicity of heart. For he is found by them that tempt him not: and he showeth himself to them that have faith in him. For perverse thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise:  For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins.

R. God possessed me in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He created the depths, before He caused the fountains of water to spring.* Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.
V. When He prepared the heavens, I was there with Him, ordering all things.
R. Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.

Reading 2: For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity cometh in. For the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, and will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips: for God is witness of his reins, and he is a true searcher of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.  For the spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that, which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice.

R. I alone compassed the circuit of heaven, and walked on the waves of the sea. In every nation and in every people, I held the first place.* In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.
V. I dwell in the highest places, and my throne is in a cloudy pillar.
R. In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.

Reading 3: Therefore he that speaketh unjust things cannot be hid, neither shall the chastising judgment pass him by. For inquisition shall be made into the thoughts of the ungodly: and the hearing of his words shall come to God, to the chastising of his iniquities. For the ear of jealousy heareth all things, and the tumult of murmuring shall not be hid.

R. O send out wisdom from the throne of thy glory, O Lord, to be with me, and to labour with me,
* That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.
V. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne.
R. That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.

Reading 4: Keep yourselves therefore from murmuring, which profiteth nothing, and refrain your tongue from detraction, for an obscure speech shall not go for nought: and the mouth that belieth, killeth the soul.  Seek not death in the error of your life, neither procure ye destruction by the works of your hands.  For God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.

R. O Lord, Father and Governor of my life, leave me not, lest I fall before mine adversaries,
* and mine enemy rejoice over me.
V. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
R. Lest mine enemy rejoice over me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Lest mine enemy rejoice over me.

Nocturn II (St Ambrose, On Offices)

Reading 5: Great is the glory of justice. She liveth for others rather than for herself. By her our commonwealth and fellowship are holpen. She holdeth such a pre-eminence that all things are subject unto her judgment. She helpeth others. She giveth wealth. She refuseth not to labour. She taketh upon her the dangers of others. Who would not desire to hold this castle of power and courage, if the covetousness of our first parents had not weakened and distorted the strength of our nerve But so it is, that, while we are fain to increase wealth, to put by money, to add lands to our possessions, or to make show of our abundance, we put off the image of justice, and lose charity toward our brethren.

R. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne, and reject me not from among thy children.
* For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.
V. O send her out from the throne of thy glory, to be with me and to labour with me.
R. For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.

Reading 6: How far-spreading is the field of justice appeareth by this, that there is excepted therefrom no place, person, or time, nay, she hath to do even as regards enemies, for if one be agreed with his enemy of a certain place, or day for battle, it should be deemed unjust to fall on him beforehand, at some other place, or time. For it is a very different thing, whether one get the better of another in a hard fight, or by skill, or by accident.

R. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.* A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.
V. Love is the keeping of her laws, for all wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
R. A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.

Reading 7: If therefore in war justice hath place, how much more is she to be observed in time of peace.Honour is the foundation of justice. The thoughts in the hearts of just men are honourable thoughts and when the just man accuseth himself, it is honour that bringeth him to that just deed. Then is his justice made manifest by his honourable avowal. 

R. Lord, remove far from me vanity and lies.*Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.
V. Two things have I required of thee deny me them not before I die.
R. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.

Reading 8: The Lord saith by Isaiah " Behold, I lay in Zion a foundation-stone" xxviii. 16, that is to say, He giveth Christ unto the Church to be her foundation. Christ is the true honour for all men, and the Church is as it were a figure of justice, being a commonwealth wherein all have rights, and which worketh as one, and suffereth as one. Whosoever denieth himself, the same is just, and worthy of Christ. Therefore also Paul saith " Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ ", and upon that foundation is it, that every building of justice must be raised. For the spirit of Christ is the true spirit of honour which is the foundation whereon justice resteth.

R. Great are thy judgments, O Lord, and thy words cannot be expressed.* Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.
V. Thou broughtest them through the Red Sea, and leddest them through much water.
R. Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.





Matins readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Nocturn III)

Matins readings (St Augustine) 

Reading 9: "No man can serve two masters," and this is further explained "for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." These words we ought carefully to weigh, for the Lord showeth straightway who be the two masters whom we have choice of: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." 

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: Mammon is a term which the Hebrews are said to use for riches. It is also a Carthaginian word for the Punic for "gain" is "mammon." He which serveth mammon, serveth that evil one who hath perversely chosen to be lord of these earthly things, and is called by the Lord "the prince of this world." 

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: Of these two masters, either a man will hate the one and love the other, that is God or he will hold to the one and despise the other. He which serveth mammon holdeth to an hard and destroying master, for he is led captive by his lust, and sold a slave to the devil, and him loveth no man is there any man that loveth the devil And yet there be that hold to him.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: "Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on lest, albeit such things are not idle, but needful to be sought after, yet the seeking for things even needful should divide the heart and our intention should be corrupted when we do something as it were mercifully that is, lest, when we would seem to be seeking another's good, it should be profit to ourselves, rather than benefit to him, that we seek and therefore we seem not to ourselves to sin, because we would seek things not idle, but needful.

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 Matthew 6:24-33:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?  Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit?  And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.  But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.  And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?  Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?  For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.  Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Matins readings for the Feast of the Assumption

Note: The Monastic Breviary offers two options for the Office of the Assumption, the 'old' version and the Office composed following the formal definition of the dogma.  This is the new office (NB some responsories not included as not available online).

Nocturn I

Reading 1 (Genesis 3:9-12):  And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

R. I saw her, when, fair like a dove, she winged her flight above the rivers of waters. The priceless savour of her perfumes hung heavy in her garments.
* And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.
V. Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like a pillar of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
R. And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.

Reading 2: And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

R. I was exalted like a cedar in Lebanon, and as a cypress-tree upon Mount Zion. Like the best myrrh;* I yielded a pleasant odour.
V. Like cinnamon and sweet balsam.
R. I yielded a pleasant odour.

Reading 3 (1 Cor 15:20-26): But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.  But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.  Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. And the enemy death shall be destroyed last.

R. Who is this that cometh up like the sun? This, comely as Jerusalem?
* The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed; the queens also, and they praised her.
V. And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.
R. The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed; the queens also, and they praised her.

Reading 4 (1 Cor 15:53-57): For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.  And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nocturn II

(Sermon of St John Damascene)

Reading 5: This day the holy and animated Ark of the living God, which had held within it its own Maker, is borne to rest in that Temple of the Lord, which is not made with hands. David, whence it sprang, leapeth before it, and in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Princedoms shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Lordships rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.

R. When the Lord beheld the daughter of Jerusalem adorned with her jewels, He greatly desired her beauty;* And when the daughters of Zion saw her, they cried out that she was most blessed, saying thy name is as ointment poured forth.
V. Upon thy right hand did stand the Queen in a vesture of gold wrought about with divers colours.
R. And when the daughters of Zion saw her, they cried out that she was most blessed, saying thy name is as ointment poured forth.

Reading 6: This day the stainless maiden, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but ennobled by heavenly desires, returned not to dust, but, being herself a living heaven, took her place among the heavenly mansions. From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself.

R. All generations shall call me blessed.* For He That is Mighty, even the Lord, hath done to me great things; and Holy is His Name.
V. And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation.
R. For He That is Mighty, even the Lord, hath done to me great things; and Holy is His Name.

(From the Acts of Pope Pius XII)

Reading 7: Since indeed the universal Church hath at all times and throughout the ages manifested faith in the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and since the Bishops of the whole world by an almost unanimous agreement have petitioned that this truth, which is enshrined in Sacred Scripture and deeply rooted in the souls of Christ's faithful, and is also truly in accord with other revealed truths, should be defined as a dogma of the divine and Catholick Faith, Pope Pius XII, acceding to the requests of the whole Church, decreed that this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary be solemnly proclaimed,

R. Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who hast carried the Lord, the Maker of the world.
* Thou hast borne Him Who created thee, and thou abidest a virgin for ever.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
R. Thou hast borne Him Who created thee, and thou abidest a virgin for ever.

Reading 8: and thus, on the first day of November of the year of the Great Jubilee, nineteen hundred and fifty, at Rome, in the open square before the Basilica of St. Peter, surrounded by a throng of many Cardinals and Bishops of the Holy Roman Church who had come from distant parts of the earth, and before a great multitude of the faithful, with the whole Catholick world rejoicing, proclaimed in these words and with infallible statement the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven: Wherefore, having offered to God continual prayers of supplication, and having invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, to the glory of Almighty God who hath enriched the Virgin Mary with his special favour; in honour of his Son, the immortal King of ages and victor over sin and death; for the increase of the glory of the same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the whole Church, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that: The Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, was, at the end of her earthly life, assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.



Nocturn III (from St Peter Canisius)

Reading 9: The Church frequently and reverently keepeth feastdays dedicated to the Mother of God, realizing that it is a work pleasing to God and worthy of the faithful if many feasts, with fixed dates and public ceremonies, are celebrated in honour of the most blessed of all the blessed in heaven, the Mother of our Lord and God. Among all these feasts which have been celebrated so devotedly for so many years, even unto the present day, the Feast of the Assumption is considered the greatest and holdeth chief place.

R. Grace is poured into thy lips;
* Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
V. thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby kings' daughters among thy honourable women have made thee glad.
R. Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

Reading 10: Indeed there was no happier or more joyful day for Mary, if we duly consider the happiness of both body and soul granted to her on that day. Then especially, as never before, her spirit, soul and body rejoiced wondrously in the living God and she could rightfully say: He hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; for behold, all generations shall call me blessed; for he that is mighty hath magnified me.

R. O Virgin Mary, Mother of God, blessed art thou that didst believe the Lord, for there hath been a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord. Behold, thou art exalted over choirs of Angels.
* Plead for us with the Lord our God.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Reading 11: O thrice blessed and truly august Mother, it is for this reason that we who love thee and thy Son cannot refrain from congratulating thee with all sincerity upon thine admirable and incomparable happiness, especially since everything that hath been said to thee and about thee by the Lord, is brought to a conclusion by thy beautiful passing away from this life, and in every wise hath been perfectly fulfilled. Blessed art thou who hast not only believed but hast this day attained unto the end of faith and the fruit of all virtue, and now at last hast merited to enjoy the most pleasing sight of him whom thou didst love and desire so greatly. Thyself a guest, thou didst receive Emmanuel who as a guest did enter into thee, as into a mighty fortress in this world; and today, thou in turn art received by him into his royal mansion, and magnificently welcomed with the highest honour, as befitteth one found worthy to be the Mother of such a Solomon.

Reading 12: O blessed day which sent so precious a gift from the desert of this world, and carried it to the holy and eternal city, so that universal and unheard of joy no less than admiration welled up in all the blessed in heaven. O blessed day, that fulfilled the long and ardent yearning of the gentle spouse, so that she might find what she had sought, that she might receive what she asked; that what she awaited she might possess securely, resting safely at last in that perfect vision and inward joy of the eternal and all-great Goodness. O blessed day which raised up and so highly exalted this most humble handmaiden of the Lord that she might become the most glorious Queen of Heaven and the mistress of the world. Indeed she could not have risen to more sublime heights since she had been elevated to the very Throne of the heavenly kingdom, and thus was established in glory next after Christ. O blessed and truly honourable is this day which constituted and confirmed for us a Queen and Mother who is at once powerful and merciful in the kingdom of God, that we might have her, who ever remaineth the Mother of the Judge, as a Mother of mercy protecting us and interceding for us with Christ, unceasingly watching over the work of our salvation.


The Gospel for the feast is St Luke 1:41-50:

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Matins readings for second Sunday of August

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of August in the 1962 Benedictine calendar.

Nocturn I: Ecclesiastes 1:1-17

Reading 1: The words of Ecclesiastes, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. What hath a man more of all his labour, that he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth standeth for ever. The sun riseth, and goeth down, and returneth to his place: and there rising again, Maketh his round by the south, and turneth again to the north: the spirit goeth forward surveying all places round about, and returneth to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea doth not overflow: unto the place from whence the rivers come, they return, to flow again.

R. God possessed me in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He created the depths, before He caused the fountains of water to spring.* Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.
V. When He prepared the heavens, I was there with Him, ordering all things.
R. Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.

Reading 2: All things are hard: man cannot explain them by word. The eye is not filled with seeing, neither is the ear filled with hearing.What is it that hath been? the same thing that shall be. What is it that hath been done? the same that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us.There is no remembrance of former things: nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end.

R. I alone compassed the circuit of heaven, and walked on the waves of the sea. In every nation and in every people, I held the first place.* In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.
V. I dwell in the highest places, and my throne is in a cloudy pillar.
R. In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.

Reading 3: I Ecclesiastes was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I proposed in my mind to seek and search out wisely concerning all things that are done under the sun. This painful occupation hath God given to the children of men, to be exercised therein I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity, and vexation of spirit.

R. O send out wisdom from the throne of thy glory, O Lord, to be with me, and to labour with me,* That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.
V. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne.
R. That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.

Reading 4:The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite. I have spoken in my heart, saying: Behold I am become great, and have gone beyond all in wisdom, that were before me in Jerusalem: and my mind hath contemplated many things wisely, and I have learned. And I have given my heart to know prudence, and learning, and errors, and folly: and I have perceived that in these also there was labour, and vexation of spirit,

R. O Lord, Father and Governor of my life, leave me not, lest I fall before mine adversaries,* and mine enemy rejoice over me.
V. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
R. Lest mine enemy rejoice over me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Lest mine enemy rejoice over me.

Nocturn II: Sermon of St John Chyrsostom

Reading 5: While Solomon was given up to the lust of the world, he deemed the same a great and noble pursuit, and expended thereon great labour and care. He built magnificent palaces, he heaped up gold in plenty, he gathered together choirs of singers, and all sorts of servants to minister to the luxury of his table and of his fare. He sought enjoyment for his heart from the charm of gardens and of fair bodies. In short, he gave himself up to the study of all kinds of pleasure and recreation.

R. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne, and reject me not from among thy children.
* For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.
V. O send her out from the throne of thy glory, to be with me and to labour with me.
R. For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.

Reading 6: But when he came to himself again, and was once more able, as it were, out of that dark pit, to look upon the light of true wisdom, he uttered that saying, so high, so worthy of heaven "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." And ye also, if ever ye will shake yourselves clear of your debasing habit, will utter this cry, and an higher cry than this, as ye turn from your untimely indulgences.

R. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.* A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.
V. Love is the keeping of her laws, for all wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
R. A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.

Reading 7: The ages that had rolled before the time of Solomon had not left to his own so precious an inheritance of wisdom as those which have preceded us have left to us; the old law did not forbid these indulgences, nor pronounce it folly to enjoy other idle luxuries and yet, even with matters so, we can see how low, how worthless, such things be.

R. Lord, remove far from me vanity and lies.*Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.
V. Two things have I required of thee deny me them not before I die.
R. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.

Reading 8: As for us, we are called to a higher life, we ascend to a nobler stand-point, and brace ourselves in a manlier school and why, but because we are bidden to strive for a life like the life of the spiritual and bodiless powers

R. Great are thy judgments, O Lord, and thy words cannot be expressed.* Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.
V. Thou broughtest them through the Red Sea, and leddest them through much water.
R. Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

In 2016, Nocturns I&II in the Benedictine Office this Sunday are for the second Sunday of August.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Augustine, questions on the Gospels, 2:40

Reading 9: The ten lepers "lifted up their voices and said: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them Go, show yourselves unto the Priests. And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed." Question why did the Lord send them unto the Priests, that, as they went, they might be cleansed Lepers were the only class among those upon whose bodies He worked mercy, whom we find that He sent unto the Priests. It is written in another place that He said to a leper whom He had cleansed " Go, and show thyself to the Priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them"

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,
* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: We ask then, of what leprosy was a type, whereof they that were ridded were called, not "healed," but "cleansed." It is a disease which doth first appear in the skin, but destroyeth not immediately the strength, nor the use of feeling and the limbs. The lepers, therefore, we may not absurdly suppose such to be figured as have not the knowledge of the true faith, but do show forth divers-coloured teachings of error. They hide not their witlessness, but do use all such wit as they have to make it manifest, and proclaim it in high-sounding phrases.

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.
* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: There is no false doctrine but hath some truth mixed up with it. A man's discourse then, with some truths in it unequally mingled with falsehoods, and all confounded in one mass, is like to the body of one that is stricken with leprosy, whereon all manner of foul colours do appear in this and that place along with the true colour of skin.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: Such men as these are banished out of the walls of the Church, to the end that haply when they stand afar off they may lift up their voices and cry to Christ for pardon, just as those ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off, outside the village, lifted up their voices and said "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." That they styled Him Master, by which title I know not if any besought the Lord for bodily healing, I think doth sufficiently show that leprosy signifieth false doctrine, whereof the Good Master doth cleanse us.

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.

This Sunday's Gospel in the traditional calendar is St Luke 17: 11-19:

A time came when he was on his way to Jerusalem, and was passing between Samaria and Galilee; and as he was going into a village, ten men that were lepers came towards him; they stood far off, crying aloud, Jesus, Master, have pity on us.  He met them with the words, Go and shew yourselves to the priests; and thereupon, as they went, they were made clean.  One of them, finding that he was cured, came back, praising God aloud, and threw himself at Jesus’ feet with his face to the ground, to thank him; and this was a Samaritan. Jesus answered, Were not all ten made clean? And the other nine, where are they? Not one has come back to give God the praise, except this stranger. And he said to him, Arise and go on thy way, thy faith has brought thee recovery.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Hebrews 13:17-25 - The God of peace

Hebrews 13:17-19
Obey those who have charge of you, and yield to their will; they are keeping unwearied watch over your souls, because they know they will have an account to give. Make it a grateful task for them: it is your own loss if they find it a laborious effort. Pray for us; we trust we have a clear conscience, and the will to be honourable in all our dealings. And I make this request the more earnestly, in the hope of being restored to you the sooner. 
Obedite præpositis vestris, et subjacete eis. Ipsi enim pervigilant quasi rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri, ut cum gaudio hoc faciant, et non gementes: hoc enim non expedit vobis. Orate pro nobis: confidimus enim quia bonam conscientiam habemus in omnibus bene volentes conversari. Amplius autem deprecor vos hoc facere, quo celerius restituar vobis. 
Aquinas:

Obey your leaders [prelates]: Here it should be noted that there are two things we owe our prelates, namely, obedience to their precepts; hence, he says, obey: ‘Obedience is better than victims’, and reverence, so that we honor them as fathers and subject ourselves to their discipline. Therefore, he says, and be subject to them: ‘Be subject to every human creature’; ‘He that resists the power, resists God’s ordinance’.

Prelates will be held to account: ...for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give an account.. For prelates will render an account of those committed to them, when on the day of judgement, they will be asked: ‘Where is the flock that is given you, your beautiful cattle? What will you say in your heart? For you taught them against you (by saying good things are doing evil) you instructed them against your head by your bad example’...

Pray for us: Thus does the Apostle tell them how they should act in regard to him: for he asks that they pray for him...Therefore, in asking that they pray for him the Apostle, who was certain that he was acceptable to God, was striking at the pride of those who scorned asking prayers of others, as a Gloss says.

Hebrews 13:20-21
May God, the author of peace, who has raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, that great shepherd, whose flock was bought with the blood of an eternal covenant, grant you every capacity for good, to do his will. May he carry out in you the design he sees best, through Jesus Christ, to whom glory belongs throughout all ages, Amen.
Deus autem pacis, qui eduxit de mortuis pastorem magnum ovium, in sanguine testamenti æterni, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, aptet vos in omni bono, ut faciatis ejus voluntatem: faciens in vobis quod placeat coram se per Jesum Christum: cui est gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. 
Peace:  In regard to the first he describes the One Whom he seeks, saying the God peace. For God’s proper effect is to make peace, because ‘he is not a God of dissension but of peace’ and ‘have peace: and the God of peace and love shall be with you’. For peace is nothing more than unity of affections, which God alone can make one, because hearts are united by charity, which is from God alone. For God knows how to gather and unite, because God is love, which is the bond of perfection. Hence, ‘he makes men of one manner to dwell in a house’. For man made peace between himself and God through the ministry of Christ.

Raised from the dead: ...But sometimes Christ is said to have been raised up by the Father’s power: ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead’; and sometimes He is said to have raised Himself: ‘I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up’ (Ps. 3:6). But these statements are not contrary, because He rose by God’s power, which is one in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, he brought him again from the dead, i.e., from the tomb, which is the place of the dead: ‘As Christ rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also shall walk in the newness of life'.

The great shepherd of the sheep:... i.e., of the faithful and the humble: ‘I am the good shepherd, and I know mine, and mine know me’; for the sheep are they who obey God: ‘And my sheep hear my voice’. But he calls him the great shepherd, because all others are His vicars, for He feeds His own sheep, but the others feed Christ’s sheep: ‘Feed my sheep’; ‘When the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory’.

The blood of the eternal covenant, i.e., in virtue of the blood of Christ by Whom is confirmed the New Covenant, in which eternal things are promised, but not in the Old. For Christ calls His blood the blood of the New Covenant; but the Apostle says, of the everlasting covenant. Therefore, both are mentioned in the words of the consecration of the Blood. But Christ by His passion merited the glory of His resurrection for Himself and for us; hence, he says, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus. . . by the blood of the eternal covenant: ‘He humbled himself, being made obedient unto death’; ‘By the blood of your testament you have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water’.

May he equip [fit] you with everything good. For the human will, since it is the inclination of reason, is the principle of human acts, as heaviness is the principle of downward movement of heavy bodies; hence it is related to the acts of human reason as a natural inclination to natural acts. But a natural thing is said to be fit for that to which it has an inclination. So, too, man, when he has the will to do good, is said to be fit for it. God, too, when He inserts a good will in a man, fits him, i.e., makes him fit. Therefore, he says, May God fit you with every good that you may do his will, i.e., make you will every good: ‘The desire of the just is every good’ (Pr. 2:3). For this is God’s will, namely, what God wills us to will; otherwise, our will is not good. But the will of God is our good: ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’; ‘That you may prove what is the good and acceptable and the perfect will of God’...

Hebrews 13: 22-25
I entreat you, brethren, bear patiently with all these words of warning; it is but a brief letter I am sending you.You must know that our brother Timothy has been set at liberty; if he comes soon, I will bring him with me when I visit you. Greet all those who are in authority, and all the saints. The brethren from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all, Amen. 
Rogo autem vos fratres, ut sufferatis verbum solatii. Etenim perpaucis scripsi vobis.  Cognoscite fratrem nostrum Timotheum dimissum: cum quo (si celerius venerit) videbo vos.  Salutate omnes præpositos vestros, et omnes sanctos. Salutant vos de Italia fratres.  Gratia cum omnibus vobis. Amen

Conclusion to the epistle: Then  he adds a petition in which he excuses himself; then he concludes the epistle. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he gives his excuse; secondly, he recommends the messenger through whom he writes; thirdly, he sends several greetings...Then he concludes in his accustomed manner, as though sealing it with a personal greeting: Grace be with all of you. Amen, i.e., the remission of sins and any other of God’s gifts, which are obtained through the grace of God, be firmly with all of you. The Amen is a confirmation of everything.

Next up!

And that brings to an end this series of notes from St Thomas Aquinas on \the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Hebrews 13:15-16 - The sacrifice of praise

The sacrifice of praise: Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
Per ipsum ergo offeramus hostiam laudis semper Deo, id est, fructum labiorum confitentium nomini ejus. 
The sacrifice of praise: Then when he says, By him them let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, he presents the second conclusion, namely, that we should sacrifice upon the altar and offer certain kinds of sacrifice. For there are two kinds of sacrifice that we should offer upon Christ’s altar, namely, devotion to God and mercy towards our neighbor.

Confessing his name with our lips: ..But that sacrifice of praise is called the fruit of our lips, i.e., confession with the mouth. For God is praised better by the mouth than by the killing of animals; hence he says, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, for this is necessary: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’; ‘We will render the calves of our lips’; ‘I created the fruit of the lips’ (Is. 57:19). But this sacrifice should be offered always, i.e., continually, as there was a continual sacrifice during the Law, as it says in Numbers: ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be always in my mouth’.

St John Chrysostom comments on this verse:
And by Him let us offer a sacrifice to God. Of what kind of sacrifice does he speak? The fruit of lips giving thanks to His Name. They [the Jews] brought sheep, and calves, and gave them to the Priest: let us bring none of these things, but thanksgiving. This fruit let our lips put forth.
For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Let us give such a sacrifice to Him, that He may offer [it] to The Father. For in no other way it is offered except through the Son, or rather also through a contrite mind. All these things [are said] for the weak. For that the thanks belong to the Son is evident: since otherwise, how is the honor equal? That all men (He says) should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  Wherein is the honor equal? The fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.
Good works: Hebrews 13:16
Meanwhile, you must remember to do good to others and give alms; God takes pleasure in such sacrifice as this.
Beneficentiæ autem et communionis nolite oblivisci: talibus enim hostiis promeretur Deus.
Works of mercy: He mentions another sacrifice, when he says, Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have. As if to say: You formerly performed works of mercy; but now at least with the heart, if you cannot in deed. Therefore, he says, Do not neglect to do good, be liberal, in regard to the things you give: ‘In doing good, let us not fail’; ‘Do good to the humble, and give not to the ungodly'. Do not forget to share what you have, i.e., the things you have saved: ‘All they that believed were together, and had all things in common’; ‘Communicating to the necessities of the saints’. Or share, namely, by charity, through which all things are common.

Merit of such sacrifices: But why should we share that double benefit is shown when he says: for such sacrifices are pleasing to God, i.e., we can merit God by such sacrifices: ‘I am your protector and your reward exceeding great’; ‘Then you shall accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings’; ‘They shall worship him with sacrifices and offerings; and they shall make vows to the Lord and perform them’.