Saturday, 12 December 2015

Matins readings for the Third Sunday of Advent

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

Nocturn I

Reading 1: Isaiah 26:1-3
Reading 2: Isaiah 26: 4-6
Reading 3: Isaiah 26: 7 -10
Reading 4: Isaiah 26: 11-14

Nocturn II: Sermon 13 of St Leo the Great

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, with the care which becometh us as the shepherd of your souls, we urge upon you the rigid observance of this December Fast. The month of December hath come round again, and with it this devout custom of the Church. The fruits of the year, which is drawing to a close, are now all gathered in, and we most meetly offer our abstinence to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. 

Reading 6: And what can be more useful than fasting, that exercise by which we draw nigh to God, make a stand against the devil, and overcome the softer enticements of sin?  Fasting hath ever been the bread of strength. From abstinence proceed pure thoughts, reasonable desires, and healthy counsels. By voluntary mortifications the flesh dieth to lust, and the soul is renewed in might. 

Reading 7: But since fasting is not the only mean whereby we get health for our souls, let us add to our fasting works of mercy. Let us spend in good deeds what we take from indulgence. Let our fast become the banquet of the poor.  Let us defend the widow and serve the orphan; let us comfort the afflicted and reconcile the estranged; let us take in the wanderer and succour the oppressed; let us clothe the naked and cherish the sick. And may every one of us that shall offer to the God of all goodness this Advent sacrifice of fasting and alms be by Him fitted to receive an eternal reward in His heavenly kingdom! 

Reading 8: We fast on Wednesday and Friday; and there is likewise a Vigil on Saturday at the Church of St Peter, that by his good prayers we may the more effectually obtain what we ask for, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John (John 1:19-28): In that time were sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, the first thing which striketh us in to - day's Gospel is the lowly - mindedness of John. He was so great that it was thought he might be the Christ; yet he soberly chose rather to seem only what he really was, than to let the belief of men invest him with a dignity which did not belong to him; for he confessed, and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ, at the same time he would not deny what he was in reality; and thus his very truth - speaking made him a member of Him Whose title he would not by falsehood take. 

Reading 10: In that he arrogated not to himself the name of Christ, he became a member of Christ. While he humbly strove to confess his own weakness, he earned by his simplicity a part in the grandeur of his Master.  In considering this subject we find an apparent contradiction between one of John's statements, and the saying of our Redeemer recorded in another part of the Gospel.  When His disciples asked our Lord regarding the coming of Elias, He answered Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. And if ye will receive it, this that is, John is Elias.  

Reading 11: But when John was asked if he was Elias, he answered, I am not. How comes it then, dearly beloved brethren, that we find the Truth Itself asserting what the prophet of the Truth denied? It must evidently be that our Lord meant one thing and John another, when the Lord said, This is, and John, I am not. For how can he be the prophet of truth, if he speak not according to the word of Him Who is the Eternal Truth? Let us then more minutely examine these words, and we shall find that there is no real contradiction. 

Reading 12: When the Angel announced to Zacharias the coming birth of John he said He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias.  As the old Elias will come again before the Second Advent of the Lord, so did John, as the new Elias, go before the First Advent, in the spirit and power of Elias. As the old Elias will be the Fore-runner of the Judge, so the new Elias was the Fore-runner of the Saviour. John then was Elias in spirit, but not in person; and our Lord asserteth of the spirit what John denieth of the person.

Gospel: St John 1:19-28

19 Et hoc est testimonium Joannis, quando miserunt Judæi ab Jerosolymis sacerdotes et Levitas ad eum ut interrogarent eum: Tu quis es? 20 Et confessus est, et non negavit, et confessus est: Quia non sum ego Christus. 21 Et interrogaverunt eum: Quid ergo? Elias es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Propheta es tu? Et respondit: Non. 22 Dixerunt ergo ei: Quis es ut responsum demus his qui miserunt nos? quid dicis de teipso? 23 Ait: Ego vox clamantis in deserto: Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias propheta. 24 Et qui missi fuerant, erant ex pharisæis. 25 Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei: Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque propheta? 26 Respondit eis Joannes, dicens: Ego baptizo in aqua: medius autem vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. 27 Ipse est qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est: cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrigiam calceamenti. 28 Hæc in Bethania facta sunt trans Jordanem, ubi erat Joannes baptizans.


 [19] And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? [20] And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.[21] And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. [22] They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? [23] He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. [24] And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. [25] And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?[26] John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. [27] The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. [28] These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Matins readings for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Nocturn I:

Reading 1: Genesis 3 1-5
Reading 2: Genesis 3: 6-8
Reading 3: Genesis 3: 9-13;
Reading 4: Genesis 3:14-15

Nocturn II: (Letter of St Jerome to Paul and Eustochium on the Assumption of the BVM, n5-9; from the Acts of Pope Pius X)

Reading 5: Who and what was the blessed and glorious Mary, always a Virgin, hath been revealed by God by the message of an Angel, in these words, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou among women. It was fitting that a fulness of grace should be poured into that Virgin who hath given to God glory and to man a Saviour, who hath brought peace to earth, who hath given faith to the Gentiles, who hath killed sin, who hath given law to life, who hath made the crooked ways straight. Verily, she is full of grace. To others grace cometh measure by measure; in Mary grace dwelleth at once in all fulness. Verily, she is full of grace. We believe that the holy Fathers and Prophets had grace; but they were not full of grace. But into Mary came a fulness of all the grace which is in Christ, albeit otherwise (than as it is in Him.) Therefore is it said Blessed art thou among women, that is, Blessed art thou above all women. The fulness of blessing in Mary utterly neutralized in her any effects of the curse of Eve. In her praise Solomon writeth in the Song of Songs, Rise up, my dove, my fair one, for the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. And again, Come from Lebanon, my Spouse, come, thou shalt be crowned.

Reading 6:  Not unjustly then is she bidden to come from' Lebanon, for Lebanon is so named on account of its stainless and glistening whiteness. The earthly Lebanon is white with snow, but the lonely heights of Mary's holiness are white with purity and grace, brilliantly fair, whiter far than snow, sparkling with the gifts of the Holy Ghost she is undefiled like a dove, all clean, all upright, full of grace and truth. She is full of mercy, and of the righteousness that hath looked down from heaven, and therefore is she without stain because in her hath never been any corruption. She hath compassed a man in her womb, saith holy Jeremiah, but she conceived not by the will of fallen man. The Lord, saith the Prophet, hath created a new thing in the earth; a woman shall compass a man.  

Reading 7: Verily, it is a new thing. Verily, it was a new work of power, greater than all other works, when God, Whom the world cannot bear, and Whom no man shall see and live, entered the lodging of her womb, breaking not the blissful cloister of her virgin flesh. And in her body He was borne, the Infinite inclosed within her womb. And from her womb He came forth, so that it was fulfilled which was spoken of the Prophet Ezekiel, saying, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. xliv. 2. Hence also in the Song of Songs it is said of her, iv. 12, A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed, thy perfumes are a garden of delights. Verily a garden of delights, filled with the perfumes of all flowers, rich with the sweet savour of grace. And the most holy Virgin herself is a garden enclosed, whereinto sin and Satan have never entered to sully the blossoms, a fountain sealed, sealed with the seal of the Trinity.

Reading 8: The fact that the Virgin Mother of God had at the moment of her conception triumphed over the foul enemy of man, hath ever been borne out by the Holy Scriptures, by the venerable tradition of the Church, and by her unceasing belief, as well as by the common conviction of all Bishops and faithful Catholics, and by marked acts and constitutions of the Holy See. At length the Supreme Pontiff Pius IX., in compliance with the wishes of the Universal Church, determined to publish it as a truth of faith, on his own absolute and unerring authority, and accordingly, on the 8th day of December, 1854, in the Vatican Basilica, in presence of a great multitude composed of the Fathers Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and Bishops from all parts of the earth, he, with the consent and jubilation of the whole world, declared and defined as follows That doctrine which declareth that the most blessed Virgin Mary was in the first instant of her Conception preserved, by a special privilege granted unto her by God, from any stain of original sin, is a doctrine taught and revealed by God, and therefore is to be held by all faithful Christians firmly and constantly.

Nocturn III (Homily of St Germanus)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Luke: Luke 1:26-28: In that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And so on.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, holier than the Saints, higher than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim, more honourable than the Seraphim, and the most worshipful thing that the hands of God have made. Hail, O dove, bearing in thy beak the olive-branch of peace that telleth us of salvation from the spiritual flood, dove, blessed omen of a safe harbour, whose wings are of silver, and thy feathers of gold, shining in the bright beams of the Most Holy and Light-giving Spirit. Hail, thou living garden of Eden, planted towards the East by the right hand of the Most Merciful and Mighty God, wherein do grow to His glory rich lilies and unfading roses, for the healing of them that have drunk in death from the blighting and pestilential breezes of the bitter West, Eden, wherein hath sprung that Tree of life, Whereof if any man eat he shall live for ever. 

Reading 10: Hail, stately Palace of the King, most holy, stainless, purest, House of the Most High God, adorned with His Royal splendour, open to all, filled with Kingly dainties; Palace wherein is that spiritual bridal chamber, not made with hands, nor hung with divers colours, in the which the Eternal Word, when He would raise up fallen man, wedded flesh unto Himself, that He might reconcile unto the Father them who had cast themselves away. Hail, O rich and shady Mountain of God, whereon pastured the True Lamb, Who hath taken away our sins and infirmities, mountain, whereout hath been cut without hands that Stone which hath smitten the altars of the idols, and become the head-stone of the corner, marvellous in our eyes. Hail, thou holy Throne of God, thou divinest store-house, thou temple of glory, thou bright crown, thou chosen treasure, thou mercy-seat for the whole world, thou heaven declaring the glory of God. Hail, thou vessel of pure gold, made to hold the manna that came down from heaven, the sweet food of our souls, even Christ. 

Reading 11: Hail, O purest Virgin, most praiseworthy and most worshipful, hallowed treasury for the wants of all creatures; thou art the untitled earth, the unploughed field; thou art the vine full of flowers, the well overflowing with waters, Maiden and Mother; thou art the Mother that knew not a man, the hidden treasure of guilelessness, and the clear, bright star of holiness; by thy most acceptable prayers, strong from thy motherly mouth, obtain for all estates of men in the Church that they may continually tend unto Him Who is the Lord, and God, and Maker of thee, and of them, and of all, but of thee the Son also, conceived without man's intervention; obtain this, O Mother, pilot them to the harbour of peace.

Reading 12: Be it thine to clothe God's priests with righteousness, and to make them shout aloud for joy in approved and stainless, and upright and glorious faith. thine be it to guide in peace the sceptres of orthodox princes, even of princes who put their trust in thee to be the crown of their Majesty, and the Royal Robe of their greatness, and the firm foundation of their dominion, more than in purple, or fine gold, or pearls, or precious stones; thine be it to put under their feet the unfaithful nations, nations that blaspheme thee, and the God That was born of thee; thine be it to keep in meek obedience the people that are under them, according to the commandment of God. Behold, this is thine own city, which hath thee for her towers and her foundations, crown her with victory, gird the house of God with strength, keep undefiled the loveliness of His tabernacles, as for them that praise thy name, be thou their deliverer from strife and bitterness of spirit. Free thou the prisoner, protect the wanderer, and if there be any that hath no refuge, be thou to him a consolation. Stretch forth thine hand and help the whole earth so shall we year by year keep this and all thy feasts, and at last be found with thee in Christ Jesus, Who is Lord of all, and verily our God. To Him, with the Holy Father, Who is the Fountain of Life, and the coeternal Spirit, Three Persons and One Substance, even as there is one Kingdom, be glory and strength, now and for ever. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-28

missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, 27 ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David: et nomen virginis Maria. 28 Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit: Ave gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus.

the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. [28] And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Matins readings for the second week of Advent

The readings at Matins in the traditional Benedictine Office this week are:

Sunday (see separate post for the full text of the Patristic readings)

Nocturn I: Isaiah 11:1-4a, 4b-7, 8-10, 11-13
Nocturn II: Exposition of St Jerome on Isaiah, Book 4, 11 v1-2
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Gregory (Homily 6 on the Evangelist n1-2) nb missing fourth reading
Gospel: St Matthew 11:2-10


Isaiah 13: 1-4a, 4b- 8, 9-11)


Isaiah 14:1-2, 3-6, 12-15)


Isaiah 16:1-4a, 4b-6, 7-8

(Feast of St Ambrose
Nocturn I: Romans 10:4-9, 10-13, 14-17
Nocturn II: (on the life of the saint)
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Gregory (Homily 5 n1-2))


Isaiah 19: 1-2; 3-6a; 11-13

(Feast of the Immaculate Conception (see separate post for the readings of the feast)


Isaiah 24:1-3, 4-6, 7-16a


Isaiah 25:1-4a, 4b-7, 8-12