Thursday, 26 May 2016

Feast of Corpus Christi

The Matins readings in the Benedictine Office for the feast are set out below.

Nocturn I (1 Cor 11)

Reading 1: And when you assemble together, there is no opportunity to eat a supper of the Lord; each comer hastens to eat the supper he has brought for himself, so that one man goes hungry, while another has drunk deep. Have you no homes to eat and drink in, that you should shew contempt to God’s church, and shame the poor? Praise you? There is no room for praise here.

R. The whole assembly of the children of Israel shall kill the lamb toward the evening of the Passover.
* And they shall eat the flesh, and unleavened bread.
V. Even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us therefore let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
R. And they shall eat the flesh, and unleavened bread.

Reading 2: The tradition which I received from the Lord, and handed on to you, is that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was being betrayed, took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, given up for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. And so with the cup, when supper was ended, This cup, he said, is the new testament, in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, for a commemoration of me.

R. Ye shall eat flesh, and shall be filled with bread.
* This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
V. Moses gave you not that Bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true Bread from heaven.
R. This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

Reading 3: So it is the Lord’s death that you are heralding, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, until he comes.  And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord’s body and blood.

R. Elijah looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals at his head, and he arose, and did eat and drink
* And went in the strength of that meat [forty days and forty nights] unto the mount of God.
V. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.
R. And went in the strength of that meat [forty days and forty nights] unto the mount of God

Reading 4: A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord’s body for what it is. That is why many of your number want strength and health, and not a few have died. If we recognized our own fault, we should not incur these judgements;  as it is, the Lord judges us and chastises us, so that we may not incur, as this world incurs, damnation.

Nocturn II (Sermon of St Thomas Aquinas)

Reading 5: The immeasurable benefits, which the goodness of God hath bestowed on Christian people, have conferred on them also a dignity beyond all price. " For what nation is there so great, who hath gods so nigh unto them, as the Lord, our God, is" unto us? Deut. iv. 7. The Only-begotten Son of God, being pleased to make us " partakers of the Divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4, took our nature upon Him, being Himself made Man that He might make men gods. And all, as much of ours as He took, He applied to our salvation. On the Altar of the Cross He offered up His Body to God the Father as a sacrifice for our reconciliation He shed His Blood as the price whereby He redeemeth us from wretchedness and bondage, and the washing whereby He cleanseth us from all sin. And for a noble and abiding memorial of that so great work of His goodness, He hath left unto His faithful ones the Same His very Body for Meat, and the Same His very Blood for Drink, to be fed upon under the appearance of bread and wine.

R. As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blest it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said
* Take, eat this is My Body.
V. The men of my tabernacle said O that we had of his flesh we cannot be satisfied.
R. Take, eat this is My Body.

Reading 6: How precious a thing then, how marvellous, how health-giving, how furnished with all dainties, is the Supper [of the Lord !] Than His Supper can anything be more precious ? Therein there is put before us for meat, not, as of old time, the flesh of bulls and of goats, but Christ Himself, our very God. Than this Sacrament can anything be more marvellous ? Therein it cometh to pass that bread and wine are bread and wine no more, but in the stead thereof there is the Body and there is the Blood of Christ; that is to say, Christ Himself, Perfect God and Perfect Man, Christ Himself is there, under the appearance of a little bread and wine.

R. Jesus took the cup, after supper, saying This cup is the New Testament in My Blood.
* This do in remembrance of Me.
V. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
R. This do in remembrance of Me.

Reading 7: His faithful ones eat Him, but He is not mangled ; nay, when [the veil which shroudeth Him in] this Sacrament is broken, in each broken piece thereof remaineth whole Christ Himself, Perfect God and Perfect Man. All that the senses can reach in this Sacrament, [look, taste, feel, smell, and the like, all these] abide of bread and wine, but the Thing is not bread and wine. And thus room is left for faith ; Christ Who hath a Form That can be seen, is here taken and received not only unseen, but seeming to be bread and wine, and the senses, which judge by the wonted look, are warranted against error.

R. I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
* This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
V. I am the living Bread Which came down from heaven if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.
R. This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Reading 8: Than this Sacrament can anything be more health - giving Thereby are sins purged away, strength renewed, and the soul fed upon the fatness of spiritual gifts. This Supper is offered up in the Church both for the quick and dead it was ordained to the health of all, all get the good of it. Than this Sacrament can anything be more furnished with dainties The glorious sweetness thereof is of a truth such that no man can fully tell it. Therein ghostly comfort is sucked from its very well - head. Therein a memorial is made of that exceeding great love which Christ showed in time of His sufferings. It was in order that the boundless goodness of that His great love might be driven home into the hearts of His faithful ones, that when He had celebrated the Passover with His disciples, and the last Supper was ended, the Lord " Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end," John xiii. 1, and instituted this Sacrament, this Sacrament, the everlasting forth - " showing of His death until He come " again, 1 Cor. xi. 26, this Sacrament, the embodied fulfilment of all the ancient types and figures, this Sacrament, the greatest miracle which He ever wrought, and the one mighty joy of them that now have sorrow, till He shall come again, and their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man take from them. John xvi. 22.

Nocturn III (from St Augustine)

Reading 9: By use of meat and drink men would fain that " they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more," Apoc. vii. 16, and yet there is but one Meat and one Drink, Which doth work in them that feed thereon that " this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality,"  namely communion with that general assembly and Church of God's holy children, who are "kept in perfect peace," and are "all one," fully and utterly. And therefore it is, as men of God before our time have taken it, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath set before us His Body and His Blood in the likeness of things which, from being many, are reduced into one. In one loaf are many grains of corn, and one cup of wine the juice of many grapes.

R. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood,
* Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
V. What nation is there so great, who hath gods so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is to us
R. Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.

Reading 10: And now He giveth us to know how that which He spake cometh to pass, and how indeed "this Man can give us His Flesh to eat," and His Blood to drink. "He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." To dwell in Christ, therefore, and to have Him dwelling in us, is to "eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup,".

R. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father,
* So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
V. With the bread of life and understanding hath the Lord fed him.
R. So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

Reading 11: And he which dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, without all doubt doth not spiritually eat His Flesh nor drink His Blood, although he do carnally and visibly press the Sacrament with his teeth but, contrariwise, he "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself," because he dareth to draw nigh filthy to that secret and holy thing of Christ, whereunto none draweth nigh worthily, save he which is pure, even he which is of them concerning whom it is said "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Reading 12: "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." This is as though He said: The Father hath sent Me into the world and I have emptied Myself [and taken upon Me the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man]. I have My life from the Father, as One That is greater than I. He that eateth Me, even he, by thereby taking part in Me, shall live by Me. It is as having humbled Myself that I live by the Father, but he that eateth Me, him will I raise up, and so he shall live by Me. It is said "I live by the Father" that is to say, He is of the Father, not the Father of Him, and yet not so, but that the Father and the Son are co-equal together. Also it is said "So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me," whereby He showeth the gracious work towards His people of Him Who is the "one Mediator between God and man," and not that He Which is eaten and he which eateth Him are co-equal together.

Gospel: St John 6:

56 Caro enim mea vere est cibus: et sanguis meus, vere est potus; 57 qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in illo. 58 Sicut misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter Patrem: et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me. 59 Hic est panis qui de cælo descendit. Non sicut manducaverunt patres vestri manna, et mortui sunt. Qui manducat hunc panem, vivet in æternum.

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. [57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. [59] This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

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