Friday, 19 February 2016

Ember Saturday in the first week of Lent

Today's Gospel is St Matthew 17:1-9, on the Transfiguration:

1 Et post dies sex assumit Jesus Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et ducit illos in montem excelsum seorsum: 2 et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol: vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt alba sicut nix. 3 Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. 4 Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ad Jesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliæ unum. 5 Adhuc eo loquente, ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. 6 Et audientes discipuli ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. 7 Et accessit Jesus, et tetigit eos: dixitque eis: Surgite, et nolite timere. 8 Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt, nisi solum Jesum.9 Et descendentibus illis de monte, præcepit eis Jesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.

 And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: [2] And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. [3] And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. [4] And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. [5] And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.[6] And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. [7] And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. [8] And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. [9] And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

Matins readings (from Divinum Officium):

Reading 1 (Homily by Pope St Leo the Great): Dearly beloved brethren, the Lesson from the Holy Gospel which, entering in by our bodily ears, hath knocked at the door of our inner mind, calleth us to understand a great mystery. This, by the grace of God, we shall the more readily do, if we return to consider what hath been told us just before. The Saviour of mankind, even Jesus Christ, laying the foundations of that faith whereby the ungodly are called to righteousness and the dead to life, instilled into the minds of His disciples, both by the voice of His teaching and the wonder of His works, that they should believe Him, the one Christ, to be both the Only-begotten Son of God and the Son of man. Had they believed Him one of these and not the other, it had availed them nothing to salvation; and the danger was equally great, of holding the Lord Jesus Christ to be God without the Manhood, or Man only without the Godhead, since we are constrained to acknowledge that He is perfect God and perfect Man, and that as there is in the Godhead perfect Manhood, so there is in the Manhood perfect Godhead.

R.br. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God;
* For He is gracious and merciful.
V. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return' unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him.

R. For He is gracious and merciful.

Reading 2: To strengthen, therefore, the saving knowledge of this faith, the Lord had asked His disciples what, among the differing opinions of men, it was their own belief and judgment as to Who He was. Then did the Apostle Peter, by the revelation of That Father Who is above all, rising above fleshly things, yea, outstripping the thoughts of men, then did he fix the eyes of his mind upon the Son of the living God, and confess the glory of the Godhead, for he looked not on the substance of the flesh and blood only. And in all the exaltation of this faith so well did he please God, that he was gifted with that joyous blessing, the hallowed establishment of that impregnable rock, whereon the Church being founded, should prevail against the gates of hell and the laws of death; neither, when anything is to be bound or loosed, is any bound or loosed in heaven, otherwise than as the judgment of Peter hath bound or loosed it upon earth.

R.br. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor and the wanderer to thine house.
* Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.
V. When thou seest the naked, cover him; and hide not thyself from thine own flesh.
R. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.

Reading 3: But, dearly beloved brethren, it behoved that the height of this understanding, which the Lord praised, should rest upon a foundation, and that foundation, the mystery of the lower nature, lest the faith of the Apostle, carried away by the glorious acknowledgment of the Godhead in Christ, should deem it unworthy and unnatural for the impassible God to take into Himself the frailty of our nature; and should thus believe that in Christ the Manhood had been so glorified as to be no longer able to suffer pain, or be dissolved in death. And therefore it was that, when the Lord said how that He must go up unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and rise again the third day, and the blessed Peter, bright with heavenly illumination, and still glowing from the passionate acknowledgment of the Divine Sonship, by a natural, and, as seemed to him, a godly shrinking, could not bear the mention of mockery and insult and a cruel death, he was corrected by the merciful rebuke of Jesus, and moved rather to desire to be a partaker in the sufferings of his Master.

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