Sunday, 14 August 2016

Matins readings for the Feast of the Assumption

Note: The Monastic Breviary offers two options for the Office of the Assumption, the 'old' version and the Office composed following the formal definition of the dogma.  This is the new office (NB some responsories not included as not available online).

Nocturn I

Reading 1 (Genesis 3:9-12):  And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

R. I saw her, when, fair like a dove, she winged her flight above the rivers of waters. The priceless savour of her perfumes hung heavy in her garments.
* And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.
V. Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like a pillar of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?
R. And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.

Reading 2: And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

R. I was exalted like a cedar in Lebanon, and as a cypress-tree upon Mount Zion. Like the best myrrh;* I yielded a pleasant odour.
V. Like cinnamon and sweet balsam.
R. I yielded a pleasant odour.

Reading 3 (1 Cor 15:20-26): But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.  But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.  Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. And the enemy death shall be destroyed last.

R. Who is this that cometh up like the sun? This, comely as Jerusalem?
* The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed; the queens also, and they praised her.
V. And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.
R. The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed; the queens also, and they praised her.

Reading 4 (1 Cor 15:53-57): For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.  And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nocturn II

(Sermon of St John Damascene)

Reading 5: This day the holy and animated Ark of the living God, which had held within it its own Maker, is borne to rest in that Temple of the Lord, which is not made with hands. David, whence it sprang, leapeth before it, and in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Princedoms shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Lordships rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.

R. When the Lord beheld the daughter of Jerusalem adorned with her jewels, He greatly desired her beauty;* And when the daughters of Zion saw her, they cried out that she was most blessed, saying thy name is as ointment poured forth.
V. Upon thy right hand did stand the Queen in a vesture of gold wrought about with divers colours.
R. And when the daughters of Zion saw her, they cried out that she was most blessed, saying thy name is as ointment poured forth.

Reading 6: This day the stainless maiden, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but ennobled by heavenly desires, returned not to dust, but, being herself a living heaven, took her place among the heavenly mansions. From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself.

R. All generations shall call me blessed.* For He That is Mighty, even the Lord, hath done to me great things; and Holy is His Name.
V. And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation.
R. For He That is Mighty, even the Lord, hath done to me great things; and Holy is His Name.

(From the Acts of Pope Pius XII)

Reading 7: Since indeed the universal Church hath at all times and throughout the ages manifested faith in the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and since the Bishops of the whole world by an almost unanimous agreement have petitioned that this truth, which is enshrined in Sacred Scripture and deeply rooted in the souls of Christ's faithful, and is also truly in accord with other revealed truths, should be defined as a dogma of the divine and Catholick Faith, Pope Pius XII, acceding to the requests of the whole Church, decreed that this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary be solemnly proclaimed,

R. Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who hast carried the Lord, the Maker of the world.
* Thou hast borne Him Who created thee, and thou abidest a virgin for ever.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
R. Thou hast borne Him Who created thee, and thou abidest a virgin for ever.

Reading 8: and thus, on the first day of November of the year of the Great Jubilee, nineteen hundred and fifty, at Rome, in the open square before the Basilica of St. Peter, surrounded by a throng of many Cardinals and Bishops of the Holy Roman Church who had come from distant parts of the earth, and before a great multitude of the faithful, with the whole Catholick world rejoicing, proclaimed in these words and with infallible statement the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven: Wherefore, having offered to God continual prayers of supplication, and having invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, to the glory of Almighty God who hath enriched the Virgin Mary with his special favour; in honour of his Son, the immortal King of ages and victor over sin and death; for the increase of the glory of the same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the whole Church, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that: The Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, was, at the end of her earthly life, assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Nocturn III (from St Peter Canisius)

Reading 9: The Church frequently and reverently keepeth feastdays dedicated to the Mother of God, realizing that it is a work pleasing to God and worthy of the faithful if many feasts, with fixed dates and public ceremonies, are celebrated in honour of the most blessed of all the blessed in heaven, the Mother of our Lord and God. Among all these feasts which have been celebrated so devotedly for so many years, even unto the present day, the Feast of the Assumption is considered the greatest and holdeth chief place.

R. Grace is poured into thy lips;
* Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
V. thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby kings' daughters among thy honourable women have made thee glad.
R. Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

Reading 10: Indeed there was no happier or more joyful day for Mary, if we duly consider the happiness of both body and soul granted to her on that day. Then especially, as never before, her spirit, soul and body rejoiced wondrously in the living God and she could rightfully say: He hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; for behold, all generations shall call me blessed; for he that is mighty hath magnified me.

R. O Virgin Mary, Mother of God, blessed art thou that didst believe the Lord, for there hath been a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord. Behold, thou art exalted over choirs of Angels.
* Plead for us with the Lord our God.
V. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Reading 11: O thrice blessed and truly august Mother, it is for this reason that we who love thee and thy Son cannot refrain from congratulating thee with all sincerity upon thine admirable and incomparable happiness, especially since everything that hath been said to thee and about thee by the Lord, is brought to a conclusion by thy beautiful passing away from this life, and in every wise hath been perfectly fulfilled. Blessed art thou who hast not only believed but hast this day attained unto the end of faith and the fruit of all virtue, and now at last hast merited to enjoy the most pleasing sight of him whom thou didst love and desire so greatly. Thyself a guest, thou didst receive Emmanuel who as a guest did enter into thee, as into a mighty fortress in this world; and today, thou in turn art received by him into his royal mansion, and magnificently welcomed with the highest honour, as befitteth one found worthy to be the Mother of such a Solomon.

Reading 12: O blessed day which sent so precious a gift from the desert of this world, and carried it to the holy and eternal city, so that universal and unheard of joy no less than admiration welled up in all the blessed in heaven. O blessed day, that fulfilled the long and ardent yearning of the gentle spouse, so that she might find what she had sought, that she might receive what she asked; that what she awaited she might possess securely, resting safely at last in that perfect vision and inward joy of the eternal and all-great Goodness. O blessed day which raised up and so highly exalted this most humble handmaiden of the Lord that she might become the most glorious Queen of Heaven and the mistress of the world. Indeed she could not have risen to more sublime heights since she had been elevated to the very Throne of the heavenly kingdom, and thus was established in glory next after Christ. O blessed and truly honourable is this day which constituted and confirmed for us a Queen and Mother who is at once powerful and merciful in the kingdom of God, that we might have her, who ever remaineth the Mother of the Judge, as a Mother of mercy protecting us and interceding for us with Christ, unceasingly watching over the work of our salvation.

The Gospel for the feast is St Luke 1:41-50:

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

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