Saturday, 19 December 2015

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Sunday readings for the Benedictine Office for the fourth Sunday of Advent are as follows:

Nocturn I

Reading 1 - Isaiah 35:1-4

The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily.  It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise: the glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you.

R. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, call together the nations, tell it out among the people, and say
* Behold, God our Saviour cometh.
V. Tell it out and make it to be heard; speak aloud and cry
R. Behold, God our Saviour cometh.

Reading 2 - Isaiah 35: 5-7

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwell before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush.

R. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the law-giver from his loins, until he that shall be sent cometh.* And unto him shall the longing of the Gentiles be.
V. His eyes shall be bright with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
R. And unto him shall the desire of the Gentiles be.

Reading 3 - Isaiah 35: 8-10

And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

R: He must become more and more, I must become less and less, he who comes after me but was made before me. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoes.
V: I am baptizing you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Ghost.
R: I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoes.

Reading 4 - Isaiah 41:1-4

Let the islands keep silence before me, and the nations take new strength: let them come near, and then speak, let us come near to judgment together. Who hath raised up the just one from the east, hath called him to follow him? he shall give the nations in his sight, and he shall rule over kings: he shall give them as the dust to his sword, as stubble driven by the wind, to his bow. He shall pursue them, he shall pass in peace, no path shall appear after his feet. Who hath wrought and done these things, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, I am the first and the last.

Nocturn II - (Sermon of St Leo the Great, Sermon 12)

Reading  5 - Dearly beloved brethren, if we study attentively the history of the creation of our race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, that his ways also might be an imitation of the ways of his Maker. This is the natural, real, and highest dignity to which we are capable of attaining, that the goodness of the Divine nature should have a reflection in us, as in a glass. As a mean of reaching this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the Second Adam can all men be raised up again.

R. Unto us shall a Child be born, and His name shall be called the Mighty God.
* He shall sit upon the throne of His father David, and shall reign, and the government shall be upon His shoulder.
V. In Him shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed; all nations shall serve Him.
R. He shall sit upon the throne of His father David, and shall reign, and the government shall be upon His shoulder.

Reading  6 - Our restoration from the consequences of Adam's fall is sheer mercy of God, and nothing else; we should not have loved Him unless He had first loved us, and scattered the darkness of our ignorance by the light of His truth. This the Lord promised by the mouth of Isaiah, where He saith: I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and I will lead them in paths that they have not known I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them. And again: I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me.

R. Behold, the fulness of the time is come, wherein God hath sent forth His Son into the world, born of a Virgin, made under the law* To redeem them that were under the law.
V. God, for His great love wherewith He loved us, hath sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.
R. To redeem them that were under the law

Reading  7 - And we know from the Apostle John how God fulfilled His promise. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him That is True, and be in Him That is True, even in His Son. And again: Let us therefore love God, because He first loved us. 

R. O virgin of Israel, turn again to thy cities.* How long wilt thou go about sorrowing? Thou shalt bring forth the Lord thy Saviour, a new offering in the earth; men shall walk in paths of salvation.
V. I have loved thee with an everlasting love therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
R. How long wilt thou go about sorrowing? Thou shalt bring forth the Lord thy Saviour, a new offering in the earth. Men shall walk in paths of salvation.

Reading  8 - For His great love then wherewith he hath loved us, God reneweth His likeness in us. And, moreover, in order that He may find in us the reflection of His goodness, He giveth us that whereby to work along with Himself, (Who worketh all in all,) lighting, as it were, candles in our dark minds, and kindling in us the fire of His love, to make us love not Himself only, but likewise, in Him, whatsoever He loveth.

Nocturn III (St Gregory, Homily 20 on the gospels)

Reading 9 - John said unto the multitude, that came forth to be baptised of him: O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? The wrath to come in one sense signifieth the great vengeance of the Latter Day the sinner that repenteth not of his sin now, will have no mean whereby to flee from punishment then. Let us remark that addressing evil children copying the example of evil parents, the Baptist calleth them a generation of vipers in that they were envious at the righteous, and persecuted them; that they repaid evil for evil; that they hunted out ways of harming their neighbours, in all these things following the pattern of carnal parents, the prophet likeneth them to a venomous brood hatched from a venomous stock.

R. I have sworn, saith the Lord, that I will not be wroth any more with the earth; for the mountains and the hills shall receive My righteousness.
* And the covenant of My peace shall be in Jerusalem.
V. My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.
R. And the covenant of My peace shall be in Jerusalem.

Reading 10 - We also have sinned, we have fallen into wicked habits. What must we do, if we would flee from the wrath to come? Let us hear John. Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. In which words let us remark that the Friend of the Bridegroom demandeth not only fruits of repentance, but fruits worthy of repentance. 

R. We will not go back from thee. Thou, O Lord, shalt quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
* Cause thy face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
V. Remember us, O Lord, with the favour that Thou showest unto thy people; O visit us with thy salvation.
R. Cause thy face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

Reading 11 - The former are one thing, and the latter another. In considering then what are fruits worthy of repentance, we may remark that if we had done nothing unlawful we might have had free use of things which are lawful, and been able to sanctify ourselves without abstaining from indulgence in the things of the world. But if any one, for example, hath fallen into fornication, or perhaps, into what is much worse, adultery, he ought to make up for his lawless pleasure by abstaining in some degree from lawful enjoyments. 

R. Consider how great this man is, who is entered in for the salvation of the nations; he is King of Righteousness* Without descent, nor end of life.
V. The Fore-runner is for us entered, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.
R. Without descent, nor end of life.

Reading 12 - He that hath sinned less is not bound to mortify himself as much as he that hath sinned more, nor he that is innocent like him that is guilty. Let every one hearing these words bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, proceed to judge himself by his own conscience, and the more he perceiveth that he hath sinned, the greater penance let him do.

R. Send forth the Lamb, O Lord, the Ruler of the land* From the rock in the wilderness unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
V. Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.
R. From the rock in the wilderness unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
V Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
V. Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.


St Luke 3: 1-6

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Matins readings for the third week of Advent

Matins readings in the Benedictine Office for the third week of Advent are as follows:


Isaiah 28:1-3, 4-7a, 16-18a


Isaiah 30 18-20, 22b-25, 26-28

Wednesday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Ambrose (Gospel of the day: Luke 1:26-28)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - 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.

The mysteries of God are unsearchable, and it is especially declared by a Prophet, that a man can hardly know His counsels. Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us, and we may gather from some of the words and works of the Lord our Saviour, that there was a special purpose of God, in the fact that she who was chosen to be the mother of the Lord was espoused to a man. Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused? Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that she had conceived in adultery the Holy One.

Reading 2: And the Angel came in unto her. Let us learn from this Virgin how to bear ourselves, let us learn her modesty, let us learn by her devout utterance, above all let us learn by the holy mystery enacted. It is the part of a maiden to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses. Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us. She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and she found herself alone with Angels. There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip and the Angel saluted her.

Reading 3: The message of God to the Virgin was a mystery, which it was not lawful for the mouth of men, but only of Angels, to utter. For the first time on earth the words are spoken: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. The holy maiden heareth, and believeth. At length she said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Here is an example of lowliness, here is a pattern of true devotion. At the very moment that she is told she is chosen to be the mother of the Lord, she at once declareth herself His handmaid. The knowledge that she was mother of God caused in the heart of Mary only an act of humility.


Isaiah 33 1-2, 3-6, 14-17

Friday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Ambrose (Gospel of the day: Luke 1:39-47)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In that time, Mary, rising up, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And so on.

When any one asketh another for credence, he is bound to give some reasonable ground. And so the Angel, when he announced to Mary the counsel of God, gave, as a proof, the conception of Elizabeth, then aged and barren, that Mary might perceive, by this example, that with God nothing is impossible. When the holy Virgin had heard it, she arose and went to visit her cousin. She did not go to see if what she had heard was true, because she did not believe God, or because she knew not who the messenger had been, or yet because she doubted the fact adduced in proof. She went joyfully as one who hath received a mercy in answer to his vow goeth to pay the same. She went with devotion, as a godly person goeth to execute a religious duty. She went into the hill country in joyful haste. And is it not something that she went up into the hills? God was already in her womb, and her feeling bore her continually upward. The grace of the Holy Spirit knoweth no slow working.

Reading 2: Godly women will learn from the example of the Mother of God to take a tender care of their kinswomen who are with child. In pursuance of this charity, Mary, who had hitherto remained alone at home, was not deterred by her maidenly shyness from entering on a public journey; she faced for this end the hardships of mountain travelling; and encountered with a sense of duty the weary length of the way. The Virgin left her home, and went into the hill country with haste, unmindful of the trouble, and remembering only the office to which her cousinly love prompted her, in spite of the delicacy of her sex. Maidens will learn from her not to idle about from house to house, to loiter in the streets, nor to take part in conversations in public. Mary, as she was hasteful to pass through the public roads, so was she slow again to enter on them she abode with her cousin about three months.

Reading 3: As the modesty of Mary is a pattern for the imitation of all maidens, so also is her humility. She went to see Elizabeth, like one cousin going to visit another, and as the younger to the elder. Not only did she first go, but she first saluted Elizabeth. Now, the purer a virgin is, the humbler ought she to be. She will know how to submit herself to her elders. She that professeth chastity ought to be a very mistress of humility. Lowly-mindedness is at once the very ground in which devotion groweth, and the first and principal rule of its teaching. In this act of the Virgin then we see the greater going to visit and to succour the lesser Mary to Elizabeth, Christ to John.

Saturday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Gregory (Gospel of the day: Luke 3:1-6)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea. And so on.

The date, at which the Fore-runner of our Redeemer entered on his public office of preaching, is indicated to us by the name of the ruler of the Roman Commonwealth, and by those of the princes of Palestine. The time of his preaching is indicated by these names, because he came as the Fore-runner of Him Who was to be the Redeemer of some Jews and many Gentiles. Moreover in the enumeration of these worldly monarchs there is a foreshadowing of the fact, that the Gentiles were about to be gathered into one, and the Jews to be scattered abroad in punishment of their unbelief; in the whole heathen Commonwealth we find the title of one Emperor, but in the small kingdom of Judaea are mentioned four masters.

Reading 2 - The blessed voice of the Saviour itself hath said, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And we may well look for the ruin of the Jewish state when we see it divided among so many rulers. We observe likewise that the names of the reigning priests as well as kings are given. The Evangelist Luke hath left on record the chiefs both of the monarchy and of the priesthood who held office when John the Baptist began to preach, because John preached Him Who is at once our Priest and our King.

Reading 3 - And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It is evident from these words that John the Baptist not only preached, but also administered the baptism of repentance, and yet that baptism of repentance which he gave, was not really a baptism for the remission of sins. For there is only one baptism for the remission of sins, and that is our Christian baptism. It is worthy of note here that the words used are, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, for he himself owned that his baptism was not the true baptism that washes away sin. Even as the Eternal Word of God made Flesh was greater than the preacher that went before Him, so was His holy baptism, by which our sins are washed away, far greater than that baptism of repentance which the Fore-runner preached, and which could never wash away sin.