Saturday, 31 December 2016

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 I: Romans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17

[Psalms 2, 18, 23, 44, 47, 71]

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)

[Psalms 84, 86, 95, 96, 97, 98]

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.

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. 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.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Fifth to seventh days in the Octave of the Nativity

The readings for December 29&30 in the Benedictine Office (1963) are unfortunately not available online as far as I can find.  They are:

29 December (5th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Bede (I, 7 on the Nativity of Our Lord)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

(or Common of a Martyr for St Thomas Beckett)

30 December (6th day in Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Ambrose (on St Luke 2:53-54)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

The readings for 31 December (7th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Leo (Sermon 26 on the Nativity of Our Lord, 6)

Reading 1: On all days and at all times, dearly beloved, does the birth of our Lord and Saviour from the Virgin-mother occur to the thoughts of the faithful, who meditate on divine things, that the mind may be aroused to the acknowledgment of its Maker, and whether it be occupied in the groans of supplication, or in the shouting of praise, or in the offering of sacrifice, may employ its spiritual insight on nothing more frequently and more trustingly than on the fact that God the Son of God, begotten of the co-eternal Father, was also born by a human birth. But this Nativity which is to be adored in heaven and on earth is suggested to us by no day more than this when, with the early light still shedding its rays on nature , there is borne in upon our senses the brightness of this wondrous mystery. For the angel Gabriel's converse with the astonished Mary and her conception by the Holy Ghost as wondrously promised as believed, seem to recur not only to the memory but to the very eyes.

Reading 2: For today the Maker of the world was born of a Virgin's womb, and He, who made all natures, became Son of her, whom He created. Today the Word of God appeared clothed in flesh, and That which had never been visible to human eyes began to be tangible to our hands as well. Today the shepherds learned from angels' voices that the Saviour was born in the substance of our flesh and soul; and today the form of the Gospel message was pre-arranged by the leaders of the Lord's flocks , so that we too may say with the army of the heavenly host: Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace to men of good will.

Reading 3: And hence the very greatness of the boon conferred demands of us reverence worthy of its splendour. For, as the blessed Apostle teaches, we have received not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us by God 1 Corinthians 2:12: and that Spirit can in no other way be rightly worshipped, except by offering Him that which we received from Him. But in the treasures of the Lord's bounty what can we find so suitable to the honour of the present feast as the peace, which at the Lord's nativity was first proclaimed by the angel-choir? For that it is which brings forth the sons of God, the nurse of love and the mother of unity: the rest of the blessed and our eternal home; whose proper work and special office it is to join to God those whom it removes from the world.

Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Feast of the Holy Innocents



Nocturn I: Jeremiah 31:15-23

[Psalms 1, 2, 10, 14, 15, 23]

Reading 1: Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not. Thus saith the Lord: Let thy voice cease from weeping, and thy eyes from tears: for there is a reward for thy work, saith the Lord: and they shall return out of the land of the enemy. And here is hope for thy last end, saith the Lord: and the children shall return to their own borders.

R. An hundred, forty, and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth; these are they which were not defiled with women. * For they remained virgins; therefore are they kings before God, and the Lamb of God is with them.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb.
R. For they remained virgins; therefore are they kings before God, and the Lamb of God is with them.

Reading 2: Hearing I heard Ephraim when he went into captivity: thou hast chastised me, and I was instructed, as a young bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. Convert me, and I shall be converted, for thou art the Lord my God. For after thou didst convert me, I did penance: and after thou didst shew unto me, I struck my thigh: I am confounded and ashamed, because I have borne the reproach of my youth.

R. I heard under the altar the voices of them that were slain, saying: * How long dost Thou not avenge our blood? And it was said unto them from God Rest yet for a little season, until the number of your brethren be fulfilled.
V. I saw under the altar of God the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held, and they cried with a loud voice, saying:
R. How long dost Thou not avenge our blood? And it was said unto them from God Rest yet for a little season, until the number of your brethren be fulfilled.

Reading 3:  Surely Ephraim is an honourable son to me, surely he is a tender child: for since I spoke of him, I will still remember him. Therefore are my bowels troubled for him: pitying I will pity him, saith the Lord.  Set thee up a watchtower, make to thee bitterness: direct thy heart into the right way, wherein thou hast walked: return, O virgin of Israel, return to these thy cities.

R. They worshipped Him That liveth for ever and ever. * And cast their crowns before the throne of the Lord their God.
V. And they fell down upon their faces before the throne, and blessed Him That liveth for ever and ever.
R. And cast their crowns before the throne of the Lord their God.

Reading 4: How long wilt thou be dissolute in deliciousness, O wandering daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth: A woman shall compass a man. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: As yet shall they say this word in the land of Juda, and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring back their captivity: The Lord bless thee, the beauty of justice, the holy mountain.

Nocturn II : Sermon of St Caesarius of Arles

[Psalms 32, 33, 45, 60, 63, 78]

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, today we keep the birthday of those children, who, as we are informed by the Gospel, were massacred by the savage King Herod. Therefore let earth rejoice with exceeding joy, for she is the mother of these heavenly soldiers, and of this numerous host. The love of the vile Herod could never have crowned these blessed ones as hath his hatred.

R. The blood of thy saints have they shed like water round about Jerusalem. * And there was none to bury them.
V. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the air, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
R. And there was none to bury them.

Reading 6: For the Church testifieth by this holy solemnity, that whereas iniquity did specially abound against these little saints, so much the more were heavenly blessings poured out upon them. Blessed art thou, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, which hast suffered the cruelty of King Herod in the slaughter of thy children; who art found worthy to offer at once to God a whole white-robed army of guileless martyrs!

R. These holy ones suffered for thy sake, O Lord take vengeance for them. * For day by day they cry unto thee.
V. Avenge, O Lord, the blood of thy saints which is shed.
R. For day by day they cry unto thee.

Reading 7: Surely, it is well to keep their birth-day, even that blessed birthday which gave them from earth to heaven, more blessed than the day that brought them out of their mother's womb. Scarcely had they entered on the life that now is, when they obtained that glorious life which is to come.

R. These are they which have not defiled their garments.
* They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
V. These are they which were not defiled with women for they are virgins.
R. They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome

[Canticles: Wisdom 3: 1-6 ;3:7-9; 10: 17-21]

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew - In that time, an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. And so on.

He took the young Child, and His mother, and fled into Egypt, by night and in darkness; and the darkness of that night was a figure of the darkness of ignorance in which they left the unbelievers from whom they fled. But when they returned into Judaea, we learn not from the Gospel that it was by night, or in darkness; which is an image of that light which will lighten the Jews, when, at the end of the world, they shall receive back the faith, which now lighteneth the Gentiles, even as Judaea received Christ returning from Egypt.

R. The saints sung a new song before the throne of God and the Lamb * And their voices were echoed on earth.
V. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God, and to the Lamb, and in their mouth was found no guile.
R. And their voices were echoed on earth.

Reading 10: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying Out of Egypt have I called My Son. Those who go about to deny the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures, ask where any such passage is to be found in the Septuagint. But, although they find it not there, I tell them that the fact of its being written in the Prophet Hosea can be proved by the texts which I have lately published.

R. I saw under the Altar of God the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, which they held, and they cried with a loud voice: * Avenge, O Lord, the blood of thy saints, which is shed.
V. Under the throne of God all the saints cry aloud.
R. Avenge, O Lord, the blood of thy saints, which is shed.

Reading 11: Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet, saying; In Rama was there a voice heard, weeping and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children. The child of Rachel was Benjamin, and Bethlehem is not a town belonging to his tribe. We must therefore seek another reason why Rachel should weep for the children of Judah, to whom Bethlehem belongeth, as for her own.

R. What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And he said to me:
* These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
V. I saw under the Altar of God the souls of them which were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
R. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.

Reading 12: The plain answer is that she is buried at Ephrath close to Bethlehem, and she is called Mother on account of the resting-place of her earthly tabernacle being there. It is possible also that she is called Mother because the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were joined together, and Herod slew not only all the children that were in Bethlehem, but also in all the coasts thereof.

Gospel: Matthew 2: 13-18

Monday, 26 December 2016

Feast of St John the Evangelist



Nocturn I (1 John 1:1-10; 2:1-5)

[Psalms 18, 33, 44, 46, 60, 63]

Reading 1: 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life: For the life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us: That which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

R. Very worshipful is blessed John, which leaned on the Lord's Breast at supper. * To Him did Christ upon the Cross commit His mother, maiden to maiden.
V. The Lord chose him for his clean maidenhood, and loved him more than all the rest.
R. To him did Christ upon the Cross commit His mother, maiden to maiden.

Reading 2: And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice, and your joy may be full. And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

R. This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things.
* And we know that his testimony is true.
V. He drank in the rivers of the Gospel from the Lord's Breast as from an holy fountain.
R. And we know that his testimony is true.

Reading 3: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

R. This is that most blessed Evangelist and Apostle John. * Who was found worthy that the Lord should honour him more than all the rest, by a special privilege of love.
V. This is the disciple whom Jesus loved, which also leaned on the Lord's Breast at supper.
R. Who was found worthy that the Lord should honour him more than all the rest, by a special privilege of love.

Reading 4: My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected; and by this we know that we are in him.

Nocturn II: (From St jerome)

[Psalms 74, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100]

Reading 5: The Apostle John whom Jesus loved was a son of Zebedee, and brother of the Apostle James, who was beheaded by Herod soon after our Lord suffered. He was the last of the Evangelists to write his Gospel, which he published at the request of the Bishops of Asia, against Cerinthus and other heretics, and particularly against the then spreading doctrine of the Ebionites, who asserted that Christ had had no existence before Mary. It was therefore needful for the Evangelist to declare His Eternal and Divine Generation.

R. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in My temple, saith the Lord, * And I will write My name upon him, and the name of the city, which is New Jerusalem.
V. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of My God.
R. And I will write My name upon him, and the name of the city, which is New Jerusalem.

Reading 6: In the fourteenth year after Nero, Domitian stirred up the second persecution, and John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote his Apocalypse, which hath been explained by Justin the Martyr and Irenaeus.

R. Jesus loved him, because his singular gift of purity made him more worthy of love.
* He chose him for a virgin unto Himself, and he remaineth a virgin for ever.
V. At the end, when He was dying upon the Cross, to him did He commit His mother, maiden to maiden.
R. He chose him for a virgin unto Himself, and he remaineth a virgin for ever.

Reading 7: When Domitian was killed, the Senate annulled all his acts, on account of his savage cruelty, and the Apostle returned to Ephesus, during the reign of Nerva. He remained at Ephesus until the time of Trajan, and founded and governed all the Churches of Asia. There, in an extreme old age, he died, in the sixty-eighth year after the Lord's passion, and was buried near the city.

R. In the midst of the congregation did the Lord open his mouth. * And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. He made him rich with joy and gladness.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.

Reading 8: The Blessed Evangelist John lived at Ephesus down to an extreme old age, and, at length, when he was with difficulty carried to the Church, and was not able to exhort the congregation at length, he was used simply to say at each meeting, My little children, love one another. At last the disciples and brethren were weary with hearing these words continually, and asked him, Master, wherefore ever sayest thou this only? Whereto he replied to them, worthy of John, It is the commandment of the Lord, and if this only be done, it is enough.

Nocturn III: St Augustine, Tract 124 on John

[Canticles: Isaiah 61:6-9; Wisdom 3:7-9; Wisdom 10: 17-21]

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to John - In that time Jesus said to Peter: Follow me. Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following. And so on.

The Church knoweth of two different lives which God hath revealed and blessed one is the life of faith, the other the life of knowledge one the life of this pilgrimage, the other the life of the eternal mansions; one the life of work, the other the life of rest one the life of the journey, the other the life of home; one the life of action, the other the life of contemplation.

R. In that day will I take thee, O My servant, and will make thee as a signet before Me. * For I have chosen thee, saith the Lord.
V. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
R. For I have chosen thee, saith the Lord.

Reading 10: The one escheweth evil and doeth good; the other hath no evil to eschew, and only an exceeding good to enjoy. The one striveth with the enemy, the other hath no enemies, and reigneth. The succoureth the needy; the other is where there are no needy to succour. The one forgiveth them that trespass against it, that its own trespasses may be forgiven; the other neither hath trespasses to forgive nor to be forgiven.

R. This is that John which leaned on the Lord's Breast at supper * Even that blessed Apostle unto whom were made known the secret things of heaven.
V. He drank in the rivers of the Gospel from the Lord's Breast, as from an holy fountain.
R. Even that blessed Apostle unto whom were made known the secret things of heaven.

Reading 11: The one is chastened with evil, lest it be exalted above measure by good; the other enjoyeth such a fulness of grace that it feeleth no evil, and cleaveth so firmly unto the Highest Good, that it hath no temptation to pride.  Therefore the one is good, but still sorrowful; the other is better and perfectly blessed. And of these two lives there are types, of the one in the Apostle Peter, of the other in John.

Reading 12: The one laboureth here even unto the end, and findeth its end hereafter; the other stretcheth out into the hereafter, and in eternity findeth no end. Therefore is it said unto the one, Follow Me; but of the other, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me. What is the meaning of these words? who can know? who can understand? what is it? is it Follow thou Me, imitating Me in the bearing of earthly sorrow; let him tarry till I come again, bringing the everlasting reward?

R. So I will have him to remain till I come, * What is it to thee? follow thou me.
V. Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do?
R. What is it to thee? follow thou me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. What is it to thee? follow thou me.

Gospel: John 21:19-24

And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had said this, he saith to him: Follow me. Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on his breast at supper, and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Feast of St Stephen

Nocturn I  (Acts 6:1-10; 7: 54-60)

[Psalms: 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10]

Reading 1: And in those days, the number of the disciples increasing, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, for that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve calling together the multitude of the disciples, said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

R. And Stephen, full of grace and power * Did great wonders and miracles among the people.
V. There arose certain of the synagogue, disputing with Stephen; and they were not able to resist the wisdom, and the Spirit which spake.
R. Did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Reading 2: And the saying was liked by all the multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles; and they praying, imposed hands upon them.

R. All that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on Stephen, saw * His face as it had been the face of an angel standing among them.
V. Full of grace and power, he did great wonders and miracles among the people.
R. His face as it had been the face of an angel standing among them.

Reading 3: And the word of the Lord increased; and the number of the disciples was multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly: a great multitude also of the priests obeyed the faith.  And Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke.  Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him.

R. The blessed Stephen looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and said
* Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of the power of God.
V. But Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and said
R. Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of the power of God.

Reading 4: But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him.  And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death. [ ]

Nocturn II: Sermons of St Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspa.

[Psalms 14, 20, 23, 63, 64, 91]

Reading 5: Yesterday we were celebrating the birth in time of our Eternal King; to-day we celebrate the victory, through suffering, of one of His soldiers. Yesterday our King was pleased to come forth from His royal palace of the Virgin's womb, clothed in a robe of flesh, to visit the world; to-day His soldier, laying aside the tabernacle of the body, entereth in triumph into the heavenly palaces. The One, preserving unchanged that glory of the Godhead which He had before the world was, girded Himself with the form of a servant, and entered the arena of this world to fight sin; the other taketh off the garments of this corruptible body, and entereth into the heavenly mansions, where he will reign for ever. The One cometh down, veiled in flesh; the other goeth up, clothed in a robe of glory, red with blood.

R. They stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying * Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit; and lay not this sin to their charge.
V. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, saying
R. Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit; and lay not this sin to their charge.

Reading 6: The One cometh down amid the jubilation of angels; the other goeth up amid the stoning of the Jews. Yesterday the holy angels were singing, Glory to God in the highest; to-day there is joy among them, for they receive Stephen into their company. Yesterday the Lord came forth from the Virgin's womb; to-day His soldier is delivered from the prison of the body.

R. They ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, calling upon God, and saying * Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
V. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul; and they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying
R. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Reading 7: Yesterday Christ was for our sakes wrapped in swaddling bands; to - day He girdeth Stephen with a robe of immortality. Yesterday the new-born Christ lay in a narrow manger; to-day Stephen entereth victorious into the boundless heavens. The Lord came down alone that He might raise many up; our King humbled Himself that He might set His soldiers in high places. Why brethren, it behoveth us to consider with what arms Stephen was able, amid all the cruelty of the Jews, to remain more than conqueror, and worthily to attain to so blessed a triumph.

R. The ungodly fell upon the righteous, to put him to death. * But he received the stones with joy, that he might earn a crown of glory.
V. They stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.
R. But he received the stones with joy, that he might earn a crown of glory.

Reading 8: Stephen, in that struggle which brought him to the crown whereof his name is a prophecy, had for armour the love of God and man, and by it he remained victorious on all hands. The love of God strengthened him against the cruelty of the Jews; and the love of his neighbour made him pray even for his murderers. Through love he rebuked the wandering, that they might be corrected; through love he prayed for them that stoned him, that they might not be punished. By the might of his love he overcame Saul his cruel persecutor; and earned for a comrade in heaven, the very man who had done him to death upon earth.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome

[Canticles: Ecclesiasticus 14:22, 15:3-4, 6; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Ecclesiasticus 31:8-11]

Reading 9:  From the holy Gospel according to Matthew - In that time Jesus said to the scribes and pharisee: I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify. And so on,

We have already remarked that the Lord's words, Fill ye up the measure of your fathers, refer in the first place to Himself, Whom the Jews afterwards put to death. In a secondary sense it may likewise be applied to His disciples, of whom He saith, Behold, I send unto you Prophets, and wise men, and Scribes. Here observe that, according to the Apostle writing to the Corinthians, there are diversities of gifts among Christ's followers. Some are Prophets of that which is to come; some are wise men, who know the due season for rebuke and exhortation; some are Scribes learned in the law. And of these they stoned Stephen, slew Paul with the sword, crucified Peter, and scourged the Disciples mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

R. Stephen, the servant of God, who was stoned by the Jews, saw the heavens opened he saw and entered in. * Blessed is he, unto whom the heavens were opened.
V. While his poor body was crushed by the hurtling shower of stones, God's brightness broke upon him out of the heavenly palaces.
R. Blessed is he unto whom the heavens were opened.

Reading 10: It is a subject of dispute among commentators who is meant by Zacharias the son of Barachias. We read of several persons of the name of Zacharias. But here, in order to prevent any mistake, it is particularly said, Whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. I have read various opinions in various places upon this question, and I will give each. First, some hold that Zacharias the son of Barachias is the eleventh of the twelve Minor Prophets; and this opinion is supported by the father's name. But the Bible nowhere telleth us that this Prophet was slain between the temple and the altar; and it is hardly possible that he can have been, for in his time it could scarcely be said that even the ruins of the temple were in existence.

R. The gates of heaven were opened to Christ's blessed martyr Stephen, and he is the first of all the martyrs. * Wherefore he reigneth crowned in heaven.
V. For he was the first to make an offering of his death to that Saviour Who vouchsafed to suffer death for us.
R. Wherefore he reigneth crowned in heaven.

Reading 11: Secondly, others maintain that this Zacharias was Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. This interpretation is derived from the dreams of the Apocryphal Gospels, wherein it is asserted that he was martyred for preaching Christ's coming. A third school will have it that this Zacharias, the son of Barachias, was that Zacharias of whom we read, that he was slain by Joash, king of Judah, between the temple and the altar.

Reading 12: Against this it is to be remarked, that that Zacharias was not the son of Barachias, but of Jehoiada the priest; whence it is written, Joash remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him. The question therefore ariseth, if this opinion be true, why, the name and manner of death both agreeing with this explanation, Zacharias is called the son, not of Jehoiada, but of Barachias. In Hebrew, Barachias signifieth the Blessed of the Lord, and Jehoiada proves his Righteousness. In the Gospel used by the Nazarenes the name of Jehoiada is used instead of Barachias.

R. Devout men buried Stephen * And made great mourning over him. * There was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem
V. Saul was consenting to his death, made havock of the church
R. There was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. There was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Readings for Matins of Christmas






from the Hortus Deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg, c12th
Merry Christmas!

The Matins readings and responsories  for Christmas the Benedictine Office are as follows:

 Nocturn I (Isaiah 9:1-6; 40: 1-3, 4-8; 52: 1-6)

[Psalms: 2, 18, 23, 44, 47, 71]

Reading 1: At the first time the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched: and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded.  The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.  Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.  For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome, as in the day of Median. For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.  For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

R. This is the day whereon the King of heaven was pleased to be born of a Virgin, that He might bring back to heaven man who was lost. * There is joy among the hosts of Angels, because eternal salvation hath appeared unto men.
V. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, to men of goodwill.
R. There is joy among the hosts of Angels, because eternal salvation hath appeared unto men.

Reading 2: Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.  The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.

R. This day is the true peace come down unto us from heaven.* This day throughout the whole world the skies drop down sweetness.
V. This day is the daybreak of our new redemption, of the restoring of the old, of everlasting joy.
R. This day throughout the whole world the skies drop down sweetness.

Reading 3: Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. The voice of one, saying: Cry. And I said: What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the held. The grass is withered, and the dower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass: The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the word of our Lord endureth for ever.

R. O ye shepherds, speak, and tell us what ye have seen; who is appeared in the earth? * We saw the new-born Child, and Angels singing praise to the Lord.
V. Speak; what have ye seen? And tell us of the Birth of Christ.
R. We saw the new-born Child, and Angels singing praise to the Lord.

Reading 4:  Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion, put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the Holy One: for henceforth the uncircumcised, and unclean shall no more pass through thee. Shake thyself from the dust, arise, sit up, O Jerusalem: loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Sion.  For thus saith the Lord: You were sold gratis, and you shall be redeemed without money.  For thus saith the Lord God: My people went down into Egypt at the beginning to sojourn there: and the Assyrian hath oppressed them without any cause at all.  And now what have I here, saith the Lord: for my people is taken away gratis. They that rule over them treat them unjustly, saith the Lord, and my name is continually blasphemed all the day long. Therefore my people shall know my name in that day: for I myself that spoke, behold I am here.

R. How great is this mystery, how wonderful is the teaching of the faith! The beasts saw the new-born Lord lying in a manger. * Blessed is that Virgin whose womb was made meet to bear our Lord Christ.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed is that Virgin whose womb was made meet to bear our Lord Christ.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Blessed is that Virgin whose womb was made meet to bear our Lord Christ.

Nocturn II - Sermon of St Leo

Reading 5 - Dearly beloved brethren, Unto us is born this day a Saviour, Let us rejoice. It would be unlawful to be sad to-day, for to - day is Life's Birthday the Birthday of that Life, Which, for us dying creatures, taketh away the sting of death, and bringeth the bright promise of the eternal gladness hereafter. It would be unlawful for any man to refuse to partake in our rejoicing. All men have an equal share in the great cause of our joy, for, since our Lord, Who is the destroyer of sin and of death, findeth that all are bound under the condemnation, He is come to make all free.

R. How great is this mystery, how wonderful is the teaching of the faith! The beasts saw the new-born Lord lying in a manger.* Blessed is that Virgin whose womb was made meet to bear our Lord Christ.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed is that Virgin whose womb was made meet to bear our Lord Christ.

Reading 6 - Rejoice, O thou that art holy, thou drawest nearer to thy crown! Rejoice, O thou that art sinful, thy Saviour offereth thee pardon! Rejoice also, O thou Gentile, God calleth thee to life! For the Son of God, when the fulness of the time was come, which had been fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, took upon Him the nature of man, that He might reconcile that nature to Him Who made it, and so the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.

R. Blessed is God's holy Mother, Mary, maiden undefiled.* This day hath she brought forth the Saviour of the world.
V. Blessed is she that believed; for there is a performance of all those things which were told her from the Lord.
R. This day hath she brought forth the Saviour of the world.

Reading 7 - When our Lord entered the field of battle against the devil, He did so with a great and wonderful fairness. Being Himself the Almighty, He laid aside His uncreated Majesty to fight with our cruel enemy in our weak flesh. He brought against him the very shape, the very nature of our mortality, yet without sin. His birth however was not a birth like other births for no other is born pure, nay, not the little child whose life endureth but a day on the earth. To His birth alone the throes of human passion had not contributed, in His alone no consequence of sin had had -part. For His Mother was chosen a Virgin of the kingly lineage of David, and when she was to grow heavy with the sacred Child, her soul had already conceived Him before her body. She knew the counsel of God announced to her by the Angel, lest the unwonted events should alarm her. The future Mother of God knew what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and that her modesty was absolutely safe.

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 8 - Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost: Who, for His great love wherewith He loved us, hath had mercy on us and, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in Him we might be a new creature, and a new workmanship. Let us then put off the old man with his deeds and, having obtained a share in the Sonship of Christ, let us renounce the deeds of the flesh. Learn, O Christian, how great thou art, who hast been made partaker of the Divine nature, and fall not again by corrupt conversation into the beggarly elements above which thou art lifted. Remember Whose Body it is Whereof thou art made a member, and Who is its Head. Remember that it is He That hath delivered thee from the power of darkness hath translated thee into God's light, and God's kingdom.

Nocturn III

Reading 9 - (Mt 1: 1-16; Homily of St Jerome on Matthew 1, 1)

[not available online]

Reading 10 - Luke 2:1-14:

In that time Jesus said to his disciples: And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And so on.

Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great: By God's mercy we are to say three Masses to-day, so that there is not much time left for preaching; but at the same time the occasion of the Lord's Birth-day itself obliges me to speak a few words. I will first ask why, when the Lord was to be born, the world was enrolled? Was it not to herald the appearing of Him by Whom the elect are enrolled in the book of life? Whereas the Prophet saith of the reprobate Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Ps. lxviii. 29. Then, the Lord is born in Bethlehem. Now the name Bethlehem signifieth the House of Bread, and thus it is the birth-place of Him Who hath said, I am the Living Bread, Which came down from heaven. John vi. 51. We see then that this name of Bethlehem was prophetically given to the place where Christ was born,.because it was there that He was to appear in the flesh by Whom the souls of the faithful are fed unto life eternal. He was born, not in His Mother's house, but away from home. And this is a mystery, showing that this our mortality into which He was born was not the home of Him Who is begotten of the Father before the worlds.

R. Blessed be the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father, and blessed be the paps which give suck to Christ our Lord.* This day hath He been pleased for the salvation of the world to be born of a Virgin.
V. This day which is breaking is holy O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.
R. This day hath He been pleased for the salvation of the world to be born of a Virgin.

Reading 11 - Luke 2:15-20: In that time the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And so on

Behold the beginning of the Church. Christ is born, and the shepherds watch; shepherds, to gather together the scattered sheep of the Gentiles, and to lead them into the fold of Christ, that they might no longer be a prey to the ravages of spiritual wolves in the night of this world's darkness. And that shepherd is wide awake, whom the Good Shepherd stirreth up. The flock then is the people, the night is the world, and the shepherds are the Priests. And perhaps he is a shepherd to whom it is said, Be watchful and strengthen, for God hath ordained as the shepherds of His flock not Bishops only, but also Angels.

R. In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.* Hoc erat in principio apud Deum
V. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil
R. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum

Reading 12 -  In that time Jesus said to his disciples: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And so on.

Homily by St Augustine: Lest thou shouldest think all things mean, as thou art accustomed to think of things human, hear and digest this The Word was God. Now perhaps there will come forward some Arian unbeliever, and say that the Word of God was a creature. How can the Word of God be a creature, when it was by the Word that all creatures were made? If He be a creature, then there must have been some other Word, not a creature, by which He was made. And what Word is that? If thou sayest that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, I tell thee that God had no other, but One Only begotten Son. But if thou say not that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, thou art forced to confess that. He by Whom all things were made was not Himself made at all. Believe the Gospel.

R. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.* And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
V. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.
R. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only -begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only -begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Gospel: St Matthew 1:1-6

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:  Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren.  And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram.  And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon.  And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa.  And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias.  And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias.  And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon.  And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel.  And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor.  And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud.  And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Vigil of the Nativity

From St Jerome.

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew - When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. And so on.

Why was the Lord conceived of an espoused virgin rather than of a free? First, for the sake of the genealogy of Mary, which we have obtained by that of Joseph. Secondly, because she was thus saved from being stoned by the Jews as an adulteress. Thirdly, that Himself and His mother might have a guardian on their journey into Egypt. To these, Ignatius, the martyr of Antioch, has added a fourth reason namely, that the birth might take place unknown to the devil, who would naturally suppose that Mary had conceived by Joseph.

R. Sanctify yourselves today, and be ready for on the morrow ye shall see * The majesty of God upon you.
V. This day ye shall know that the Lord cometh, and in the morning, then ye shall see
R. The majesty of God upon you.

Reading 2: Before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. She was found, that is, by Joseph, but by no one else. He had already almost an husband's privilege to know all that concerned her. Before they came together. This doth not imply that they ever did come together the Scripture merely showeth the absolute fact that up to this time they had not done so.

R. Stand still, and ye shall see the help of the Lord with you O Judah and Jerusalem, fear not.
* Tomorrow ye shall go out, and the Lord will be with you.
V. Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, and be ready.
R. Tomorrow ye shall go out, and the Lord will be with you.

Reading 3: Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. If any man be joined to a fornicatress they become one body; and according to the law they that are privy to a crime are thereby guilty. How then can it be that Joseph is described as a just man, at the very time he was compounding the criminality of his espoused? It must have been that he knew her to be pure, and yet understood not the mystery of her pregnancy, but, while he wondered at that which had happened, was willing to hold his peace.

R. Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord, for on the morrow the Lord will come down. * And will take away from you all sickness.
V. On the morrow the sins of the earth shall be washed away, and the Saviour of the world will be our King.
R. And will take away from you all sickness.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And will take away from you all sickness.

Nocturn II

Chapter verse: Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Friday in the fourth week of Advent (Isaiah 66)

Reading 1:  Hear the word of the Lord, you that tremble at his word: Your brethren that hate you, and cast you out for my name's sake, have said: Let the Lord be glorified, and we shall see in your joy: but they shall be confounded.  A voice of the people from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies.  Before she was in labour, she brought forth; before her time came to be delivered, she brought forth a man child. Who hath ever heard such a thing? and who hath seen the like to this? shall the earth bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be brought forth at once, because Sion hath been in labour, and hath brought forth her children?

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 2: Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth, saith the Lord? shall I, that give generation to others, be barren, saith the Lord thy God? Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her. That you may suck, and be filled with the breasts of her consolations: that you may milk out, and flow with delights, from the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord: Behold I will bring upon her as it were a river of peace, and as an overflowing torrent the glory of the Gentiles, which you shall suck; you shall be carried at the breasts, end upon the knees they shall caress you.

R. Behold, the fullness 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 3: As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shah see and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb, and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall be angry with his enemies. For behold the Lord will come with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind, to render his wrath in indignation, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord shall judge by fire, and by his sword unto all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.  They that were sanctified, and thought themselves clean in the gardens behind the gate within, they that did eat swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse: they shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. But I know their works, and their thoughts: I come that I may gather them together with all nations and tongues: and they shall come and shall see my glory.

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 loving-kindness 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.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Men shall walk in paths of salvation.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Thursday in the fourth week of Advent (Isaiah 64)

Reading 1:That thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down: the mountains would melt away at thy presence. They would melt as at the burning of fire, the waters would burn with fire, that thy name might be made known to thy enemies: that the nations might tremble at thy presence. When thou shalt do wonderful things, we shall not bear them: thou didst come down, and at thy presence the mountains melted away.  From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor perceived with the ears: the eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee.

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: Thou hast met him that rejoiceth, and doth justice: in thy ways they shall remember thee: behold thou art angry, and we have sinned: in them we have been always, and we shall be saved. And we are all become as one unclean, and all our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman: and we have all fallen as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. There is none that calleth upon thy name: that riseth up, and taketh hold of thee: thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast crushed us in the hand of our iniquity.

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: And now, O Lord, thou art our father, and we are clay: and thou art our maker, and we all are the works of thy hands. Be not very angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold, see we are all thy people. The city of thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert, Jerusalem is desolate. The house of our holiness, and of our glory, where our fathers praised thee, is burnt with fire, and all our lovely things are turned into ruins.

R. I must decrease, but He must increase; He it is Who, coming after me is preferred before me;
* Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. I baptize you with water; but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

St Thomas (December 21)

The Matins readings for the feast of St Thomas in the Benedictine Office are as follows:

Nocturn I (from the Common of Apostles, 1 Cor 4:1-15)

[Psalms 18, 33, 44, 46, 60, 63]

Reading 1: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful.
 But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man's day; but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of any thing, yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me, is the Lord.

R. Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, said the Lord: * Be ye, therefore, wise as serpents and simple as doves.
V. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.
R. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.

Reading 2: Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God. But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes; that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written. For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

R. Take up my yoke upon you, said the Lord, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart. * For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
V. And you shall find rest to your souls.
R. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Reading 3: You are now full; you are now become rich; you reign without us; and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.

R. But when they shall deliver you up to the judges, take no thought how or what to speak:* for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak:
V. For it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
R. For it shall be given you in that hour what to speak.

Reading 4: Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now. I write not these things to confound you; but I admonish you as my dearest children.  For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.

R. They were found without blemish before the Lord, and from each other they were not divided. * They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.
V. They gave up their flesh to torment for God's sake; now they are crowned and receive palms.
R. They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
R. They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.

Nocturn II - On the saint's life; Homily of St Gregory

[Psalms 74, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100]

Reading  5 - The Apostle Thomas, called Didymus, or the Twin, was a Galilean. After the descent of the Holy Ghost, he went into many provinces to preach Christ's Gospel. He gave knowledge of the rules of Christian faith and life to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, and Bactrians. He went last to the East Indies, and instructed the inhabitants in the Christian religion. Here he provoked the anger of one of the idolatrous kings, because the holiness of his life and teaching, and the number of his miracles, drew many after him, and brought them to the love of Christ Jesus.   The king of that nation,a  worshipper of idols, was furiously angry, and gave orders that Thomas should be pierced with javelins, and thus, at Calmina, the crown of martyrdom adorned the glory of his apostolate.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spoke unto me, saying: * These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.
V. I saw a strong Angel of God fly into the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice:
R. These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.

Reading  6 - (Sermon of St. Gregory, Sermon 30 on the Gospels): It is written: By His Spirit the Lord hath adorned the heavens. Now the ornament of the heavens are the godly powers of preachers, and this ornament, what it is, Paul teacheth us thus To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.

R. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake;* Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
V. When men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
R. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Reading 7 - So much power then as have preachers, so much ornament have the heavens. Wherefore again it is written By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.  For the Word of the Lord is the Son of the Father. But, to the end that all the Holy Trinity may be made manifest as the Maker of the heavens, that is, of the Apostles, it is straightway added touching God the Holy Ghost: you and all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth. Therefore the might of the same heavens is the might of the Spirit, for they had not braved the powers of this world, unless the strength of the Holy Ghost had comforted them.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward. * And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Reading  8 - And it must be considered that He whom, when bound on earth, Peter denied, when suspended from the cross, the thief confessed.  But let us hear what kind of person this man of great timidity became after the coming of the Holy Spirit.  There was a gathering of the magistrates and seniors and it was commanded the apostles, with blows, that they cease preaching in the name of Jesus.  With great authority Peter answered: It behooveth us to obey God rather than men."

R. Thou shalt make them princes in all the lands, they shall remember Thy name O Lord * Throughout all generations
V. Exceedingly honoured are they friends O God, firmly established is their princedom.
R. Throughout all generations
V. Glory be...
R Throughout all generations

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory 

[Canticles: Isaiah 61:6-9; Wisdom 3:7-9; Wisdom 10: 17-21]

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John - In that time, Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, what is it in this passage which particularly claimeth our attention? Think ye that it was by accident that this chosen Apostle was not with them when Jesus came? or, when he came, heard? or, when he heard, doubted? or, when he doubted, felt? or when he had felt, believed? All these things were not accidental, but Providential. It was a wonderful provision of Divine mercy, that this incredulous disciple, by thrusting his fingers into the bodily Wounds of his Master, should apply a remedy to the spiritual wounds of unbelief in our souls.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood; * They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

Reading 10: The doubts of Thomas have done us more good than the faith of all the disciples that believed. While he feeleth his way to faith, our minds are freed from doubt, and settled in faith.Even as the Lord before His birth willed that Mary should be espoused, and yet never lose her virginity, so, after His Resurrection, He willed that His disciple should doubt, and yet not lose his faith. For, even as the espoused husband was the keeper of the virginity of the Mother, so was the disciple who doubted and felt, the witness of the truth of the Resurrection.

R. These men are saints, whom the Lord hath chosen in love unfeigned, and hath given them glory everlasting. These are they * By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.
V. The saints through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness.
R. By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.

Reading 11: He felt, and cried out My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. When the Apostle Paul saith: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen he plainly meaneth that faith is the evidence of things that cannot be seen. When they are seen, there remaineth not faith, but knowledge.

R. Who are these that fly like a cloud * And as the doves to their windows?
V. Their sound has gone out into all lands and their words unto the ends of the earth.
R.  And as the doves...

Reading 12: Thomas, then, seeth, and believeth. Why is it said to him Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed? The truth is, he saw one thing, and so believed another. To mortal man it is not given to see God. He therefore saw only the Manhood, and yet had faith in the Godhead My Lord and my God. This he said, seeing and believing, seeing Perfect Man, and yet believing in Perfect God, Whom he could not see. O what a comfort are the words which follow! Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. These words are specially meant for us, who have not seen even the Flesh, and who yet do believe. They are specially meant for us if we believe and do not, by our lives, give the lie to our belief. He only hath a saving faith, whose faith beareth fruit.

R.  There is neither speech, nor language, but their voices are heard among them.  * Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.
V. Exceedingly honoured are thy friends, O God; firmly established is their princedom.
R. Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.
V Glory be...
R. Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.

Gospel: St John 20: 24-29

There was one of the twelve, Thomas, who is also called Didymus, who was not with them when Jesus came.  And when the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord, he said to them, Until I have seen the mark of the nails on his hands, until I have put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, you will never make me believe.  So, eight days afterwards, once more the disciples were within, and Thomas was with them; and the doors were locked. Jesus came and stood there in their midst; Peace be upon you, he said.  Then he said to Thomas, Let me have thy finger; see, here are my hands. Let me have thy hand; put it into my side. Cease thy doubting, and believe.  Thomas answered, Thou art my Lord and my God.  And Jesus said to him, Thou hast learned to believe, Thomas, because thou hast seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have learned to believe.

Tuesday in the fourth week of Advent (Isaiah 42)

Reading 1: Behold my servant, I will uphold him: my elect, my soul delighteth in him: I have given my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor have respect to person, neither shall his voice be heard abroad. The bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not be sad, nor troublesome, till he set judgment in the earth: and the islands shall wait for his law.

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 2: Thus saith the Lord God that created the heavens, and stretched them out: that established the earth, and the things that spring out of it: that giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that tread thereon. I the Lord have called thee in justice, and taken thee by the hand, and preserved thee. And I have given thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles: That thou mightest open the eyes of the blind, and bring forth the prisoner out of prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

R. Behold, the fullness 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 3:  Sing ye to the Lord a new song, his praise is from the ends of the earth: you that go down to the sea, and all that are therein: ye islands, and ye inhabitants of them. Let the desert and the cities thereof be exalted: Cedar shall dwell in houses: ye inhabitants of Petra, give praise, they shall cry from the top of the mountains. They shall give glory to the Lord, and shall declare his praise in the islands. The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, as a man of war shall he stir up zeal: he shall shout and cry: he shall prevail against his enemies.

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 loving-kindness 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.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Men shall walk in paths of salvation.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Monday in the fourth week of Advent (Isaiah 41)

Reading 1: But thou Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend:  In whom I have taken thee from the ends of the earth, and from the remote parts thereof have called thee, and said to thee: Thou art my servant, I have chosen thee, and have not cast thee away. Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my just one hath upheld thee.

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: Behold all that fight against thee shall be confounded and ashamed, they shall be as nothing, and the men shall perish that strive against thee. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find the men that resist thee: they shall be as nothing: and as a thing consumed the men that war against thee. For I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee: Fear not, I have helped thee.

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: Fear not, thou worm of Jacob, you that are dead of Israel: I have helped thee, saith the Lord: and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel. I have made thee as a new thrashing wain, with teeth like a saw: thou shall thrash the mountains, and break them in pieces: and shalt make the hills as chaff.  Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, in the Holy One of Israel thou shalt be joyful.

R. I must decrease, but He must increase; He it is Who, coming after me is preferred before me; * Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. I baptize you with water; but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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

Nocturn I: Isaiah 35

Reading 1: 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: 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: 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: 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.

R: O Israel, be thou ready to meet the Lord, for he cometh * He who formeth the mountains and createth life and telleth of his gracious coming among men.
V: Behold the Lord our Governor shall come with strength
R: He who formeth the mountains and createth life and telleth of his gracious coming among men.
V Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
R: He who formeth the mountains and createth life and telleth of his gracious coming among men.

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.

R. O ye mountains of Israel, shoot forth your branches and blossom and bring forth fruit. * The day of the Lord is at hand to come.
V. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down the Righteous One let the earth open, and let her bring forth the Saviour.
R. The day of the Lord is at hand to come.
V Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
R. The day of the Lord is at hand to come.

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.

Gospel - St Luke 3: 1-6

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina; Under the high priests Annas and Caiphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.