Thursday, 31 December 2015

Matins readings for the 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 IRomans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17

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)

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. 
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to 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, x. 30. 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.

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