Monday, 5 December 2016

Matins readings and notes for Monday in the second week of Advent (Isaiah 13)

Reading 1: Onus Babylonis, quod vidit Isaias, filius Amos.Super montem caliginosum levate signum:
exaltate vocem, levate manum, et ingrediantur portas duces.  Ego mandavi sanctificatis meis,
et vocavi fortes meos in ira mea, exsultantes in gloria mea. Vox multitudinis in montibus,
quasi populorum frequentium; vox sonitus regum, gentium congregatarum.

The burden of Babylon, which Isaias the son of Amos saw.  Upon the dark mountain lift ye up a banner, exalt the voice, lift up the hand, and let the rulers go into the gates.  I have commanded my sanctified ones, and have called my strong ones in my wrath, them that rejoice in my glory.  The noise of a multitude in the mountains, as it were of many people, the noise of the sound of kings, of nations gathered together:

R. Receive, O Virgin Mary, receive the word of the Lord, which is sent thee by His Angel; thou shalt conceive, and shalt bring forth God and Man together.* And thou shalt be called blessed among all women.
V. Thou shalt bring forth a son, and remain a maiden undefiled thou shalt conceive and be a Mother, still Virgin unspotted.
R. And thou shalt be called blessed among all women.

Reading 2: Dominus exercituum præcepit militiæ belli, venientibus de terra procul, a summitate cæli;
Dominus, et vasa furoris ejus, ut disperdat omnem terram. Ululate, quia prope est dies Domini;
quasi vastitas a Domino veniet. Propter hoc omnes manus dissolventur, et omne cor hominis contabescet, et conteretur. Torsiones et dolores tenebunt; quasi parturiens dolebunt: unusquisque ad proximum suum stupebit, facies combustæ vultus eorum.

the Lord of hosts hath given charge to the troops of war. To them that come from a country afar off, from the end of heaven: tile Lord and the instruments of his wrath, to destroy the whole land. Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is near: it shall come as a destruction from the Lord.  Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every heart of man shall melt,  And shall be broken. Gripings and pains shall take hold of them, they shall be in pain as a woman in labour. Every one shall be amazed at his neighbour, their countenances shall be as faces burnt.

R. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains, for our Lord will come; * And will have mercy on His afflicted.
V. In His days shall righteousness flourish and abundance of peace.
R. And will have mercy upon His afflicted.

Reading 3: Ecce dies Domini veniet, crudelis, et indignationis plenus, et iræ, furorisque, ad ponendam terram in solitudinem, et peccatores ejus conterendos de ea. Quoniam stellæ cæli, et splendor earum, non expandent lumen suum; obtenebratus est sol in ortu suo, et luna non splendebit in lumine suo. Et visitabo super orbis mala, et contra impios iniquitatem eorum; et quiescere faciam superbiam infidelium, et arrogantiam fortium humiliabo.

Behold, the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation, and of wrath, and fury, to lay the land desolate, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it.  For the stars of heaven, and their brightness shall not display their light: the sun shall be darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not shine with her light. And I will visit the evils of the world, and against the wicked for their iniquity: and I will make the pride of infidels to cease, and will bring down the arrogancy of the mighty.

R. There shall no strangers pass through Jerusalem any more * For in that day the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey, saith the Lord.
V. God shall come from Lebanon, and the Holy One from the thick and shady mountain.
R. For in that day the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey, saith the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. For in that day the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey, saith the Lord.

Notes

Today's readings focus mainly on the second coming, the 'day of the Lord'.

Babylon and the dark mountain stand for the darkness of apostasy and sin; the banner we are told to lift, St Gregory the Great instructs, is the virtue of the cross, which is above all humility, hence the condemnation of the proud and arrogant at the end of these verses.

Many failed to recognise the Lord at his first coming, or rejected his message.  The key message here is, there will be no warning, so we must always watch and be ready.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Matins readings for the second Sunday of Advent

The Matins readings for the Second Sunday of Advent in the traditional form of the Benedictine Office are set out below.


Nocturn I: Isaiah 11:1-13

Reading 1:  And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth

R. thy salvation cometh quickly, O Jerusalem; why art thou wasted with sorrow? Is there no counselor in thee, that pangs have taken thee?
* Fear not, for I will save thee and deliver thee.
V. For I am the Lord, thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.
R. Fear not, for I will save thee, and deliver thee.

Reading 2: Land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

R. Behold, the Lord shall come, and all His saints with Him, and it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall be great; and they shall go out from Jerusalem like clean water; and the Lord shall be King for ever,* Over all the earth.
V. Behold, the Lord cometh with an host, and in His hand are the kingdom, and power, and dominion.
R. Over all the earth.

Reading 3: And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

R. O, thou city of Jerusalem, weep not, for the Lord hath repented Him concerning thee.* And He will take away from thee all distress.
V. Behold, the Lord shall come with might, and His arm shall rule.
R. And He will take away from thee all distress.

Reading 4: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand the second time to possess the remnant of his people, which shall be left from the Assyrians, and from Egypt, and from Phetros, and from Ethiopia, and from Elam, and from Sennaar, and from Emath, and from the islands of the sea.  And he shall set up a standard unto the nations, and shall assemble the fugitives of Israel, and shall gather together the dispersed of Juda from the four quarters of the earth. And the envy of Ephraim shall be taken away, and the enemies of Juda shall perish: Ephraim shall not envy Juda, and Juda shall not fight against Ephraim

R. Christ our King cometh* And John hath testified of Him, that He is the Lamb that should come!
V. The kings shall shut their mouths at Him, all nations shall serve Him.
R. And John hath testified of Him, that He is the Lamb that should come!
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And John hath testified of Him, that He is the Lamb that should come!

Nocturn II: Exposition of St Jerome on Isaiah

Reading 5: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse. From the beginning of the Book of this Prophet till the xiiith chapter, where commenceth the vision, or burden of Babylon, the whole of the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, is one continual prophecy of Christ. We must explain it part by part, for if we were to take it all at once, the memory of the reader would be confused. According to the Jewish commentators, the rod and the flower would both relate to the Lord Himself. They take the rod to mean the sceptre of His Royal dominion, and the flower the loveliness of His beauty.

R. Behold, there cometh the Lord, our defender, the Holy One of Israel,* Wearing a royal crown upon His head.
V. And His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
R. Wearing a royal crown upon His head.

Reading 6: We, however, understand that the rod out of the root of Jesse signifieth the holy Virgin Mary. She was a clean stem that had as yet put forth no shoot; as we have read above Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son.  And the flower we believe to mean the Lord our Redeemer, Who hath elsewhere compared Himself to a flower; I am a flower of the plain, and a lily of the valleys.

R. As a mother comforteth her children, so will I comfort you, saith the Lord; My help also cometh unto you out of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen.* And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice.
V. I will place salvation in Zion and in Jerusalem My glory.
R. And when ye shall see this, your heart shall rejoice.

Reading 7: The Spirit of the Lord then shall rest upon this flower; this flower which shall come forth from the stem and roots of Jesse by means of the Virgin Mary. And truly the Spirit of the Lord did rest upon our Redeemer. It is written that In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The Spirit was not shed on Him by measure, as it is upon the Saints. To Him we may apply the words of the Hebrew Gospel used by the Nazarenes; The whole fountain of the Holy Ghost shall be poured forth upon Him The Lord is a spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

R. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon thy mountains, O Jerusalem thou shalt sing for joy, for the day of the Lord cometh; arise, O Zion, and turn unto the Lord thy God; rejoice and be glad, O Jacob.
* For thy Saviour cometh from the midst of the nations.
V. Sing aloud for joy, O daughter of Zion; shout with gladness, O daughter of Jerusalem.
R. For thy Saviour cometh from the midst of the nations.

Reading 8: In that same Gospel of St Matthew we read: Behold my Son whom I have chosen;my elect in whom my soul is well pleased; I shall place my Spirit over him and he will mete out judgment to the Gentiles.  This is to be understood of the Saviour, on whom the Spirit of the Lord rested, that is, remained eternally.

R. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains, for our Lord will come* And will have mercy on His afflicted.
V. In His days shall righteousness flourish and abundance of peace.
R. And will have mercy upon His afflicted.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And will have mercy upon His afflicted.

Nocturn III:  Homily of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew - In that time when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And so on.

The sight of so many signs and so many mighty works should have been a source of wonder, and not a stumbling-block. And yet the unfaithful found these very works a rock of offence, when they afterwards saw Him Who had worked so many miracles dying on the Cross. Hence Paul saith We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Gentiles foolishness.

R. The Lord shall go forth out of Samaria unto the gate that looketh toward the East; and He shall come into Bethlehem, walking upon the waters of the redemption of Judah.
* Then shall every one be saved for, behold, He cometh.
V. And in mercy shall His throne be established, and He shall sit upon it in truth.
R. Then shall every one be saved for, behold, He cometh.

Reading 10: It is indeed folly in the eyes of men to say that the Author of life died for men and thus men put as a stumbling-block to hinder them from coming to Jesus, the very thing that doth oblige them the most unto Him. For the more humbling God hath undergone for man's sake, the more worthy is He that man should worship Him.

R. Make haste, O Lord, make no tarrying.* And deliver thy people.
V. O Lord, come and make no tarrying loose the bonds of thy people.
R. And deliver thy people.

Reading 11: And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. Now what is this, but a plain mention of that time, when He afterwards humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross? It is as if He said I indeed do wonderful works, but the day will come when I shall not refuse to suffer shame and evil treatment. Take heed then, ye who now worship Me for the works' sake, that when I come to die ye despise Me not for My death's sake.

R. Behold, the Lord cometh down with glory, and His host is with Him.
* To visit His people in peace, and to establish them in life everlasting.
V. Behold, our Lord cometh with an host.
R. To visit His people in peace, and to establish them in life everlasting.

Reading 12: And, as the disciples of John departed, what did Jesus say unto the multitudes concerning this same John? Let us hear. What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? Here our Lord teacheth not by assertion, but by negation. Now a reed is a thing so made that as soon as the wind bloweth upon it, it bendeth it over toward the opposite quarter. And the fleshly-minded man is like a human reed. As he is praised or blamed so he bendeth himself in the one direction or the other.

R: The root of Jesse, which shall rise to judge the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust * and his name shall be blessed throughout all ages
V: Out of the stem of Jesse shall come forth a leader, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
R: And his name shall be blessed throughout all ages
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R: And his name shall be blessed throughout all ages

Isaiah 7 (Saturday in Advent 1) - A virgin shall conceive

Reading 1: And it came to pass in the days of Achaz the son of Joathan, the son of Ozias, king of Juda, that Basin king of Syria, and Phacee the son of Romelia king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem, to fight against it: but they could not prevail over it. And they told the house of David, saying: Syria hath rested upon Ephraim, and his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind. And the Lord said to Isaias: Go forth to meet Achaz, thou and Jasub thy son that is left, to the conduit of the upper pool, a in the way of the fuller' s held.

[Et factum est in diebus Achaz, filii Joathan, filii Oziæ, regis Juda, ascendit Rasin, rex Syriæ, et Phacee, filius Romeliæ, rex Israël, in Jerusalem, ad præliandum contra eam: et non potuerunt debellare eam. Et nuntiaverunt domui David, dicentes: Requievit Syria super Ephraim. Et commotum est cor ejus, et cor populi ejus, sicut moventur ligna silvarum a facie venti. Et dixit Dominus ad Isaiam: Egredere in occursum Achaz, tu et qui derelictus est Jasub, filius tuus, ad extremum aquæductus piscinæ superioris in via agri Fullonis;]

R. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, saith the Lord* And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.
V. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom for ever.
R. And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.

Reading 2: And thou shalt say to him: See thou be quiet: fear not, and let not thy heart be afraid of the two tails of these fire brands, smoking with the wrath of the fury of Rasin king of Syria, and of the son of Romelia. Because Syria hath taken counsel against thee, unto the evil of Ephraim and the son of Romelia, saying: Let us go up to Juda, and rouse it up, and draw it away to us, and make the son of Tabeel king in the midst thereof.

R. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the ends of the earth
* And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.
V. Declare it and make it known, lift up your voice and cry aloud.
R. And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.

[Et dices ad eum: Vide ut sileas; noli timere, et cor tuum ne formidet a duabus caudis titionum fumigantium istorum, in ira furoris Rasin, regis Syriae, et filii Romeliae;  Eo quod consilium inierit contra te Syria in malum, Ephraim, et filius Romeliae, dicentes: Ascendamus ad Judam, et suscitemus eum, et avellamus eum ad nos, et ponamus regem in medio ejus filium Tabeel.]

Reading 3: And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.

R. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch; and a King shall reign in wisdom and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth and this is His name whereby He shall be called* The Lord our Righteous one.
V. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.
R. And this is His name whereby He shall be called.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The Lord our Righteous one.

[Et adjecit Dominus loqui ad Achaz, dicens: Pete tibi signum a Domino Deo tuo, in profundum inferni, sive in excelsum supra. Et dixit Achaz: Non petam, et non tentabo Dominum. Et dixit: Audite ergo, domus David. Numquid parum vobis est molestos esse hominibus, quia molesti estis et Deo meo? Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum: ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium, et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel.  Butyrum et mel comedet, ut sciat reprobare malum, et eligere bonum.]

Friday, 2 December 2016

Matins readings for Friday in the first week of Advent - Isaiah 6

Today's readings are from Isaiah 6.

Reading 1:  In anno quo mortuus est rex Ozias, vidi Dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum; et ea quæ sub ipso erant replebant templum.  Seraphim stabant super illud: sex alæ uni, et sex alæ alteri; duabus velabant faciem ejus, et duabus velabant pedes ejus, et duabus volabant.  Et clamabant alter ad alterum, et dicebant: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus, Deus exercituum; plena est omnis terra gloria ejus.

In the year that king Ozias died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated: and his train filled the temple.  Upon it stood the seraphims: the one had six wings, and the other had six wings: with two they covered his face, and with two they covered his feet, and with two they hew. And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory.

Reading 2:  Et commota sunt superliminaria cardinum a voce clamantis, et domus repleta est fumo. Et dixi: Væ mihi, quia tacui, quia vir pollutus labiis ego sum, et in medio populi polluta labia habentis ego habito, et regem Dominum exercituum vidi oculis meis. Et volavit ad me unus de seraphim, et in manu ejus calculus, quem forcipe tulerat de altari, et tetigit os meum, et dixit: Ecce tetigit hoc labia tua, et auferetur iniquitas tua, et peccatum tuum mundabitur.

 And the lintels of the doors were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: Woe is me, because I have held my peace; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people that hath unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the King the Lord of hosts. And one of the seraphims flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.

Reading 3: Et audivi vocem Domini dicentis: Quem mittam? et quis ibit nobis? Et dixi: Ecce ego, mitte me. Et dixit: Vade, et dices populo huic: Audite audientes, et nolite intelligere; et videte visionem, et nolite cognoscere.  Excæca cor populi hujus, et aures ejus aggrava, et oculos ejus claude:
ne forte videat oculis suis, et auribus suis audiat, et corde suo intelligat, et convertatur, et sanem eum.

And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? And I said: Lo, here am I, send me.  And he said: Go, and thou shalt say to this people: Hearing, hear, and understand not: and see the vision, and know it not.  Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.

Reflection

The key question God asks in this vision is, who will I send?  Who will God send to convert the people?

Isaiah states that he has kept silent up until now because of his own sins.  St Jerome actually argued that this was actually his sin: he had failed to preach, trnaslating the Hebrew text as 'Woe is me, because I have held my peace.'.  But he is miraculously cleansed of his sin, and so volunteers to be the messenger.

We don't need to have a vision of God in the heavenly temple to apply this to ourselves: it is a call to all to be converted, confess and do penance so that we are cleansed of our sins, and then speak up.




Thursday, 1 December 2016

Matins readings for Thursday in the first week of Advent: Isaiah 4-5

Reading 1 (Isaiah 4:1-3): Et apprehendent septem mulieres virum unum in die illa, dicentes: Panem nostrum comedemus, et vestimentis nostris operiemur: tantummodo invocetur nomen tuum super nos; aufer opprobrium nostrum. In die illa, erit germen Domini in magnificentia et gloria, et fructus terræ sublimis, et exsultatio his qui salvati fuerint de Israël. Et erit: omnis qui relictus fuerit in Sion, et residuus in Jerusalem, Sanctus vocabitur, omnis qui scriptus est in vita in Jerusalem.

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, take away our reproach.  In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high, and a great joy to them that shall have escaped of Israel.  And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall be left in Sion, and that shall remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, every one that is written in life in Jerusalem.

Reading 2 (Is 5:1-4): Cantabo dilecto meo canticum patruelis mei vineæ suæ. Vinea facta est dilecto meo in cornu filio olei. Et sepivit eam, et lapides elegit ex illa, et plantavit eam electam; et ædificavit turrim in medio ejus, et torcular exstruxit in ea; et exspectavit ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas. Nunc ergo, habitatores Jerusalem et viri Juda, judicate inter me et vineam meam. Quid est quod debui ultra facere vineæ meæ, et non feci ei? an quod exspectavi ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas?

I will sing to my beloved the canticle of my cousin concerning his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a hill in a fruitful place.  And he fenced it in, and picked the stones out of it, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the midst thereof, and set up a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.  And now, O ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and ye men of Juda, judge between me and my vineyard.  What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it?

Reading 3 (Is 5:5-7): Et nunc ostendam vobis quid ego faciam vineæ meæ: auferam sepem ejus, et erit in direptionem; diruam maceriam ejus, et erit in conculcationem. Et ponam eam desertam; non putabitur et non fodietur: et ascendent vepres et spinæ, et nubibus mandabo ne pluant super eam imbrem. Vinea enim Domini exercituum domus Israël est; et vir Juda germen ejus delectabile: et exspectavi ut faceret judicium, et ecce iniquitas; et justitiam, et ecce clamor.

And now I will shew you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted: I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.  And I will make it desolate: it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged: but briers and thorns shall come up: and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel: and the man of Juda, his pleasant plant: and I looked that he should do judgment, and behold iniquity: and do justice, and behold a cry.


Notes/reflection

The seven women can be interpreted as the Church; the one man Christ, as Victorinus explained in his commentary on Revelation:
Those seven stars are the seven churches, which he names in his addresses by name, and calls them to whom he wrote epistles. Not that they are themselves the only, or even the principal churches; but what he says to one, he says to all. For they are in no respect different, that on that ground any one should prefer them to the larger number of similar small ones. In the whole world Paul taught that all the churches are arranged by sevens, that they are called seven, and that the Catholic Church is one.... 
We read also that this typical number is announced by the Holy Spirit by the month of Isaiah: Of seven women which took hold of one man.  The one man is Christ, not born of seed; but the seven women are seven churches, receiving His bread, and clothed with his apparel, who ask that their reproach should be taken away, only that His name should be called upon them. The bread is the Holy Spirit, which nourishes to eternal life, promised to them, that is, by faith. And His garments wherewith they desire to be clothed are the glory of immortality, of which Paul the apostle says: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 
 Moreover, they ask that their reproach may be taken away— that is, that they may be cleansed from their sins: for the reproach is the original sin which is taken away in baptism, and they begin to be called Christian men, which is, Let your name be called upon us. 
Therefore in these seven churches, of one Catholic Church are believers, because it is one in seven by the quality of faith and election. Whether writing to them who labour in the world, and live of the frugality of their labours, and are patient, and when they see certain men in the Church wasters, and pernicious, they hear them, lest there should become dissension, he yet admonishes them by love, that in what respects their faith is deficient they should repent; or to those who dwell in cruel places among persecutors, that they should continue faithful; or to those who, under the pretext of mercy, do unlawful sins in the Church, and make them manifest to be done by others; or to those that are at ease in the Church; or to those who are negligent, and Christians only in name; or to those who are meekly instructed, that they may bravely persevere in faith; or to those who study the Scriptures, and labour to know the mysteries of their announcement, and are unwilling to do God's work that is mercy and love: to all he urges penitence, to all he declares judgment.
The image of the beloved (Christ) and the vineyard (the Church) recurs frequently in Scripture.  It challenges us to consider: are we bringing forth good fruit or only wild grapes, fit only to allowed to fall desolate, dry and barren, left unpruned and open to wild animals?

St Ambrose comments:
And the Lord Himself spoke through Isaias, saying: 'My beloved had a vineyard  on a hill in a fruitful place. And I fenced it in and dug  around the vine of Sorech and I built a tower in the midst  thereof.' 
He fenced it in with a rampart, as it were of heavenly precepts and with the angels standing guard, for 'the angel of the lord shall encamp round about them that fear him. 
 He placed in the Church a tower, so to speak, of Apostles, Prophets, and Doctors ready to defend the peace of the Church. 
He dug around it, when He had freed it from the burden of earthly anxieties. For nothing burdens the mind more than solicitude for the world and cupidity either for wealth or for power...
It seems clear, therefore, that the example of the vine is designed, as this passage indicates, for the instruction of our lives. It is observed to bud in the mild warmth of early spring and next to produce fruit from the joints of the shoots, from which a grape is formed. This gradually increases in size, but it still retains its bitter taste. 
When, however, it is ripened and mellowed by the sun, it acquires its sweetness. Meanwhile, the vine is decked in green leaves by which it is protected in no slight manner from frosts and other injuries and is defended from the sun's heat. Is there any spectacle which is more pleasing or any fruit that is sweeter? What a joy to behold the rows of hanging grapes like so many jewels of a beautiful countryside, to pluck those grapes gleaming in colors of gold or purple!  (Hexameron, Day 3)


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Matins readings for feast of St Andrew



Nocturn I: Romans 10:4-21

Reading 1:  For the end of the law is Christ, unto justice to every one that believeth. For Moses wrote, that the justice which is of the law, the man that shall do it, shall live by it. But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus: Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down; Or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. But what saith the scripture? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This is the word of faith, which we preach.For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

R. The Lord, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the sea, and He called them saying
* Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
V. For they were fishers, and He saith unto them
R. Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Reading 2: For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith: Whosoever believeth in him, shall not be confounded. For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.

R. As soon as the blessed Andrew heard the voice of the Lord calling him, he left his nets, by the exercise and use whereof he lived
* And followed Him Who giveth life everlasting.
V. This is that disciple who for the love of Christ hung upon the cross, and suffered for the law of his God.
R. And followed Him Who giveth life everlasting.

Reading 3: How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things! But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.

R. Andrew the good teacher, the friend of God, was led to the cross, and when he saw it afar off, he said God bless thee, O cross
* Welcome to the follower of Him That hung on thee, even my Master Christ.
V. God bless thee, O cross, thou art hallowed by the Body of Christ; His Members make thee goodly as with pearls.
R. Be welcome to the follower of Him That hung on thee, even my Master Christ.

Reading 4: But I say: Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the whole world.  But I say: Hath not Israel known? First, Moses saith: I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation; by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Isaias is bold, and saith: I was found by them that did not seek me: I appeared openly to them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith: All the day long have I spread my hands to a people that believeth not, and contradicteth me.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, Behold the Lamb of God, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ, going by, called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They made no delay, but left their nets, and followed Him. After the death and Resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia as the province of his preaching, and, after labouring there, he went through Epirus and Thrace, where he turned vast multitudes to Christ by his teaching and miracles.

R. The man of God was led to be crucified, and the people cried with a loud voice, saying
* The innocent blood of this just person is condemned without a cause.
V. And when they led him out to crucify him, all the people ran together and cried, saying
R. The innocent blood of this just person is condemned without a cause.

Reading 6: Finally he went to Patras in Achaia, and there also he brought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Aegeas the Pro-consul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all.Then Egeas, being angry, answered him, Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed Him not, and He was crucified by the Jews. Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ had given Himself up to die for man's salvation; but the Pro-consul blasphemously interrupted him, and bade him look to himself, and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One, and the True, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh Thereof, the Lamb That was slain abideth whole and liveth.

R. O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so fair and goodly, welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master,
* That, as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.
V. The blessed Andrew stretched forth his hands to heaven and prayed, saying Precious cross, be my salvation,
R. That, as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.

Reading 7: Then Aegeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now, the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitude, and earnestly besought them not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near.Come short while after, he was brought before the judgment-seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross, and rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness. Then Aegeas could bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ.

R. All day long I have stretched forth my hands upon the cross unto a disobedient and gainsaying people* Which walketh in a way that is not good, but after their own sins.
V. The Lord God to Whom vengeance belongeth, the God to Whom vengeance belongeth, hath shown Himself: lift up thyself, Thou Judge of the earth, render a reward to the proud.
R. Which walketh in a way that is not good, but after their own sins.

Reading 8: Andrew, then, was led to the place of martyrdom, and, as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out, O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so goodly, how long have I desired thee! how warmly have I loved thee! how constantly have I sought thee! And, now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master, that as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself. So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and, finally, passed into the Presence of Him the likeness of Whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi. In the Pontificate of Pope Pius II. his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St Peter.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew - At that time Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers). And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, ye hear how that Peter and Andrew, having once heard the Lord call them, left their nets, and followed their Saviour. As yet they had seen none of His miracles, as yet they had received no promise of their exceeding and eternal reward; nevertheless, at one word of the Lord they forgot all those things which they seemed to have. We have seen many of His miracles; we have received many of His gracious chastenings; many times hath He warned us of the wrath to come and yet Christ calleth and we do not follow.

R. The holy Andrew lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed, and cried with a loud voice, and said Thou art my God, Whom I have seen; suffer not the unjust judge to take me down from the cross
* For now I know what the power of thy holy Cross is.
V. Thou art Christ my Master, Whom I have loved, Whom I have known, Whom I have confessed in this thing hear me.
R. For now I know what the power of thy holy Cross is.

Reading 10: He who calleth us to be converted is now enthroned in heaven; He hath broken the necks of the Gentiles to the yoke of the faith, He hath laid low the glory of the world, and the wrecks thereof, falling ever more and more to decay, do preach unto us that the coming of that day when He is to be revealed as our Judge is drawing nigh and yet, so stubborn is our mind, that we will not yet freely abandon that which, will we, nill we, we lose day by day.

R. When Andrew saw the cross he cried, saying How wonderful art thou, O cross! O cross, how loveable art thou! O cross, thy bright beams enlighten the darkness of the whole world!
* Welcome a follower of Jesus, that, as by thee He died to redeem me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.
V. O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so fair and goodly,
R. Welcome a follower of Jesus, that, as by thee He died to redeem me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.

Reading 11: Dearly beloved brethren, what shall we answer at His judgment seat, we whom no lessons can persuade, and no stripes can break of the love of this present world? Come one perchance will ask in his heart, what Peter or Andrew had to lose by obeying the call of the Lord?

Reading 12: Dearly beloved brethren, we must consider here rather the intention than the loss incurred by this obedience. He that keepeth nothing for himself, giveth up much; he that sacrificeth his all, sacrificed! what is to him a great deal. Beyond doubt, we cling to whatever we have, and what we have least, that we desire most. Peter and Andrew therefore gave up much when they gave up even the desire of possessing anything.

R. Dilexit Andream Dominus in odorem suavitatis, dum penderet in cruce, dignum sibi computavit Martyrem. quem vocabit Apostolum, dum esset in mari* Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.
V. Andreas, Christi famulus, dignus Dei Apostolus, germanus Petri, et in passione socius.
R. Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Isaiah 2:1-9 (Tuesday in the first week of Advent)

Reading 1: Verbum quod vidit Isaias, filius Amos, super Juda et Jerusalem.Et erit in novissimis diebus:præparatus mons domus Domini in vertice montium, et elevabitur super colles; et fluent ad eum omnes gentes, et ibunt populi multi, et dicent: Venite, et ascendamus ad montem Domini, et ad domum Dei Jacob; et docebit nos vias suas, et ambulabimus in semitis ejus, quia de Sion exibit lex, et verbum Domini de Jerusalem.

The word that Isaias the son of Amos saw, concerning Juda and Jerusalem. And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Reading 2: Et judicabit gentes, et arguet populos multos; et conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres,
et lanceas suas in falces. Non levabit gens contra gentem gladium, nec exercebuntur ultra ad prælium. Domus Jacob, venite, et ambulemus in lumine Domini. Projecisti enim populum tuum, domum Jacob, quia repleti sunt ut olim, et augeres habuerunt ut Philisthiim, et pueris alienis adhæserunt.

And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.  O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.  For thou hast cast off thy people, the house of Jacob: because they are filled as in times past, and have had soothsayers as the Philistines, and have adhered to strange children.

Reading 3: Repleta est terra argento et auro, et non est finis thesaurorum ejus. Et repleta est terra ejus equis, et innumerabiles quadrigæ ejus. Et repleta est terra ejus idolis; opus manuum suarum adoraverunt, quod fecerunt digiti eorum.   Et incurvavit se homo, et humiliatus est vir; ne ergo dimittas eis.

Their land is filled with silver and gold: and there is no end of their treasures.  And their land is filled with horses: and their chariots are innumerable. Their land also is full of idols: they have adored the work of their own hands, which their own fingers have made.  And man hath bowed himself down, and man hath been debased: therefore forgive them not.

Reflection

The Fathers interpret these verses as the announcement of the Incarnation: Christ and his Church and the mountain of strength; and through him a new age of peace will be ushered in.

How do we ascend to Christ?  St Benedict points us to the image of Jacob's ladder, particularly apposite here given the repeated references to Jacob's house, where by we ascend by humility, and descend by self-exaltation.

St Bede links the degrees of humility with the key messages of the fifteen Gradual Psalms (which correspond to the fifteen steps to the top of the inner court of the Temple, and ten of which are said Tuesday to Saturday in the Benedictine Office), noting that:
For the steps that come down from the city of David to the lower parts of the city of Jerusalem are the aids of divine inspiration or protection by which we should ascend to his kingdom. For David made the steps by which we should ascend to his city when divine mercy taught us the order of the virtues by which we may seek heavenly things and when it granted us the gift of seeking these same virtues….Benedict, a father very reverend both in his name and in his life, realized that these steps especially consist in humility when, interpreting our journey to celestial things to be designated by the ladder shown to the Patriarch Jacob, by which angels ascended and descended, he distinguished in a very careful and pious examination the steps of the ladder itself as the increments and stages of good works that are performed through humility. (On Ezra and Nehemiah, trans DeGregorio, pg 172)
We need then, to return to Chapter 7 of the Benedictine Rule, and the Gradual Psalms (Psalm 119-133) and work on our ascent through humility, for only by converting ourselves can we convert others.