Saturday, 13 February 2016

Matins readings for the First Sunday of Lent

(For the Benedictine Office)

First Nocturn (2 Corinthians 6-7)

Reading 1: And we helping do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. [2] For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee; and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [3] Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: [4] But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, [5] In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings,[6] In chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, [7] In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left; [8] By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; [9] As dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; [10] As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

R.br. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation let us approve ourselves in much patience, in much fasting;
* In the power of God, by the armour of righteousness.
V. In all things let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in much fasting.
R. In the power of God, by the armour of righteousness.

Reading 2: Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged. [12] You are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels you are straitened. [13] But having the same recompense, (I speak as to my children,) be you also enlarged. [14] Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?[16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

R.br. In all things let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience;
* That our ministry be not blamed.
V. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is' the day of salvation let us approve ourselves in much patience.
R. That our ministry be not blamed.

Reading 3:  Great is my confidence for you, great is my glorying for you. I am filled with comfort: I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation. [5] For also when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we suffered all tribulation; combats without, fears within.[6] But God, who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 

R.br. The Priests shall pray, with fasting and with weeping, and shall say Spare, O Lord,
* Spare thy people; and give not thine heritage to destruction.
V. The Priests shall weep between the porch and the altar, and shall say
R. Spare, O Lord, spare thy people; and give not thine heritage to destruction.

Reading 4: And not by his coming only, but also by the consolation, wherewith he was comforted in you, relating to us your desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced the more.[8] For although I made you sorrowful by my epistle, I do not repent; and if I did repent, seeing that the same epistle (although but for a time) did make you sorrowful; [9] Now I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful; but because you were made sorrowful unto penance. For you were made sorrowful according to God, that you might suffer damage by us in nothing.

Second Nocturn (Sermon 42 of St Leo)

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, I am to preach to you the holiest and the greatest of Fasts; and with what words can I more fitly begin than with those words of the Apostle, in whom Christ spake, which have just been read? Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold, now is the day of salvation! It is true that there are no times which are not rich with God's gifts; His grace doth ever give us an entry unto His mercy; nevertheless, more especially at this time doth it behove that the minds of all men be earnestly stirred up to make progress in things spiritual, and to be nerved by a trust in God stronger than ever; for now the anniversary of that day on which we were redeemed is drawing near, and thereby moving us to work all godliness, to the end that we may be able to celebrate, with clean minds and bodies, that mystery which exceedeth all others, the mystery of the Lord's sufferings.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R.br. Let us amend for the better in that wherein we have sinned unknowingly, or ever the day of death suddenly prevent us, and we seek a place of repentance, and find none.
* Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.
V. Help us, O God of our salvation, and for the glory of thy Name deliver us, O Lord.
R. Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.

Reading 6: Mysteries so great demand sustained earnestness, and continuous worship, if we would ever abide in the sight of God, such as it is meet that He should find us on the Feast of the Passover. But since few have the strength to do thus, and the frailty of the body rebelleth against such hardness, while the divers actions of this life distract us with their cares, it necessarily befalleth that the dust of earth befouleth the hearts even of the godly. To meet this befoulment therefore, and to restore the cleanness of our souls, it is provided by the healthful institution of God, that we should be purged by an exercise of forty days, wherein godly works may redeem the misspending of our other time, and purifying fasts rid us of the same.

R.br. 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;
* For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.
V. The Lord hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that he turn from his way and live.
R. For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.

Reading 7: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, as we are now about to enter upon these mystic days, the end of whose most holy ordinance is the cleansing both of our souls and bodies, let us take heed that we be obedient unto the command of the Apostle, putting far away from us every defilement of flesh and spirit, ordering the strife which there is between the two substances whereof we are compounded; that the soul, which is ordained under the rule of God, and which it beseemeth under His rule to rule the body, may enjoy the fulness of her lordship; giving no offence to any so that we may give no cause to such as revile us.

R.br. The season of the Fast openeth unto us the gates of heaven; let us enter thereon in prayer and supplication,
* that on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him
V. In all things let us approve ourselves the ministers of God, in much patience.
R. That on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him.

Reading 8: For if our ways during the Fast agree not with the purity of perfect temperance, the reproaches of the unbelievers will be just, and our sins will arm the tongues of the ungodly to the harming of our religion. The sum of our Fast standeth not only in abstaining from meats; neither is it profitable to deny food to the body, if the mind be not bridled from iniquity.

Third Nocturn (Homily of St Gregory the Great)

(Reading 9): Some persons are accustomed to question what Spirit it was of which Jesus was led up into the wilderness, on account of the words a little farther on Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city and again The devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain. But in truth, and without any searching, we may very fitly take it that we are to believe it was the Holy Ghost Who led Him up into the wilderness; His own Spirit led Him where the evil spirit found Him to tempt Him. 

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 10): When however it is said that He, God and man, was taken up by the devil either into an exceeding high mountain or into the holy city, the mind shrinketh from believing, and the ears of man tingle to hear it. Yet these things we know not to be incredible, when we consider certain other things concerning Him.

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 11): In truth, the devil is the head of all the wicked, and every wicked man is a member of this body, of which the devil is the head. Was not Pilate a limb of Satan? Were not the Jews that persecuted, and the soldiers that crucified Christ, likewise limbs of Satan? Is it then strange that He should allow Himself to be led up into a mountain by the head, Who allowed Himself to be crucified by the members? Therefore it is not unworthy of our Redeemer, Who came to be slain, that He was willing to be tempted. It was meet that He should thus overcome our temptations by His own, even as He came to conquer our death by His own.

(Reading 12): We ought to know that temptation worketh through three forms. There is, first, the suggestion; then the delectation; lastly, the consent. When we are tempted, it often happeneth that we fall into delectation, and even into consent, because in the sinful flesh of which we are begotten, we carry in ourselves matter to favour the attack. But God, when He took Flesh in the womb of the Virgin, and came into the world without sin, did so without having in Himself anything of this lusting of the flesh against the spirit. It was possible therefore for Him to be tempted in the first stage, namely suggestion; but there was nothing in His Mind in which delectation could fix its teeth. And thus all the temptation which He endured from the devil was without, and none within Him.

R.br. God hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
* They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt tread upon the adder and the cockatrice, the lion also, and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
R. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. They shall bear thee up in their- hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is St Matthew 4:1-11 (the temptation of Christ):

1 Tunc Jesus ductus est in desertum a Spiritu, ut tentaretur a diabolo. 2 Et cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus, et quadraginta noctibus, postea esuriit. 3 Et accedens tentator dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant. 4 Qui respondens dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo, quod procedit de ore Dei. 5 Tunc assumpsit eum diabolus in sanctam civitatem, et statuit eum super pinnaculum templi, 6 et dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, mitte te deorsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia angelis suis mandavit de te, et in manibus tollent te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. 7 Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum. 8 Iterum assumpsit eum diabolus in montem excelsum valde: et ostendit ei omnia regna mundi, et gloriam eorum, 9 et dixit ei: Hæc omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me. 10 Tunc dicit ei Jesus: Vade Satana: Scriptum est enim: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies. 11 Tunc reliquit eum diabolus: et ecce angeli accesserunt, et ministrabant ei.

The Douay-Rheims renders it as follows:

Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, [6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. [11] Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

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