Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dedication of St Michael the Archangel

Nocturn I: Daniel 7:9-11; 10:4-14

Reading 1
Lesson from the book of Daniel
Dan 7:9-11
9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days sat: his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool: his throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning fire.
10 A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld because of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke: and I saw that the beast was slain, and the body thereof was destroyed, and given to the fire to be burnt:
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. There was silence in heaven while the dragon fought against Michael the Archangel.* I heard the voice of thousands of thousands, saying: Salvation, and honour, and power unto God the Almighty.
V. Thousands of thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times hundreds of thousands stood before Him.
R. I heard the voice of thousands of thousands, saying: Salvation, and honour, and power unto God, the Almighty.

Reading 2:  And in the four and twentieth day of the first month I was by the great river which is the Tigris. And I lifted up my eyes, and I saw: and behold a man clothed in linen, and his loins were girded with the finest gold:  And his body was like the chrysolite, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as a burning lamp: and his arms, and all downward even to the feet, like in appearance to glittering brass: and the voice of his word like the voice of a multitude.

R. An Angel stood at the Altar of the temple, having a golden censer in his hand and there was given unto him much incense;
* And the smoke of the incense ascended up before the Lord, out of the Angel's hand.
V. Before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee; I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, O Lord.
R. And the smoke of the incense ascended up before the Lord, out of the Angel's hand.

Reading 3: And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw it not: but an exceeding great terror fell upon them, and they fled away, and hid themselves. And I being left alone saw this great vision: and there remained no strength in me, and the appearance of my countenance was changed in me, and I fainted away, and retained no strength. And I heard the voice of his words: and when I heard, I lay in a consternation, upon my face, and my face was close to the ground.

R. Before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee, and will worship toward thy holy temple * And I will praise thy Name, O Lord.
V. For thy loving kindness, and for thy truth; for Thou hast glorified thine holy Name on us.
R. And I will praise thy Name, O Lord.

Reading 4: And behold a hand touched me, and lifted me up upon my knees, and upon the joints of my hands. And he said to me: Daniel, thou man of desires, understand the words that I speak to thee, and stand upright: for I am sent now to thee. And when he had said this word to me, I stood trembling. And he said to me: Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, to afflict thyself in the sight of thy God, thy words have been heard: and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians. But I am come to teach thee what things shall befall thy people in the latter days, for as yet the vision is for days.

Nocturn II: Sermon 34 on the Gospels of St Gregory the Great

Reading 5: We say that there are nine Orders of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Mights, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four Orders, where he saith: "The Father of glory raised (Christ) from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all Principality, and Power, and Might, and Dominion, (and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.)" And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith: "By (the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers; (all things were created by Him and for Him.)" If, then, we add the Thrones to the four Orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five Orders; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the Orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.

R. This is Michael, who to battle leads the armies of the skies* Whosoever on him calleth blessed within his wardship lies. His a prayer whose voice availing aids from earth toward heaven to rise.
V. The Archangel Michael is the Vice-Roy of Paradise, and the Angels that are the dwellers therein, do hold him in worship.
R. Whosoever on him calleth blessed within his wardship lies. His a prayer whose voice availing aids from earth toward heaven to rise.

Reading 6: But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office. Those holy spirits in the.heavenly fatherland are always spirits, but they may no wise be always called Angels, (which is, being interpreted, messengers,) for they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist: Who makest spirits thine Angels! as if it were, Of them who are always with Him as spirits, He doth somewhiles make use as Messengers.

R. Where Angels lead the spirits of the blessed dead the glad procession moves with Michael at its head
* To lead them into the garden of Eden.
V. Lord, send thy Holy Spirit from heaven the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
R. To lead them into the garden of Eden.

Reading 7: They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels they who go on the greater Archangels. Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth: Who-is-like-unto-God? Gabriel, the Strength-of-God, and Raphael, the Medicine-of-God.

R. At that time shall Michael stand up, which standeth for your children.
* And there shall be a time, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.
V. At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the Book of Life.
R. And there shall be a time, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.

Reading 8: As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will be like the Most High, this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shown unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John: There was war in heaven Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted the Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of Him Who was content to appear lowly that He might fight down the powers of the air. Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth the Medicine-of-God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome on Matthew 3

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And so on.

After the finding of the piece of money in the fish's mouth, after the payment of the tribute, what meaneth this sudden question of the Apostles? Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They had seen that the same tribute-money was paid for Peter as for the Lord, and from this equality of reckoning they gathered that Peter was Prince of all the Apostles, seeing that he had been appraised at the same price as his Master. Therefore they ask, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, and understanding wherefore they erred, is fain to take away the desire of glory by the love of lowliness.

R. Be not ye afraid before the Gentiles, but in your hearts, worship ye the Lord, and fear Him
* For His Angel is with you.
V. An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple, having a golden censer in his hand.
R. For His Angel is with you.

Reading 10: Therefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! because by his sin he maketh, and maketh to be his own work, that which must needs be in the world. Away, then, with every affection and every kinship, lest thy love should throw a stumbling-block before a single believer.

R. The Archangel Michael came to help God's people.* He arose to succour the spirits of the righteous.
V. An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple, having a golden censer in his hand.
R. He arose to succour the spirits of the righteous.

Reading 11: Be there any, saith He, who is as near to thee as thine hand, thy foot, or thine eye, useful, careful, far-seeing, but who layeth a stumbling-block before thee, and whose diverse way of life may draw thee to hell it is better for thee to lose such an one and thy worldly happiness with him, than to live surrounded by them that are near and needful to thee, and to pile up unto thyself damnation.

Reading 12: I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father. Above, He had said that every tie of kinship or of convenience which might become a stumbling-block, albeit close and needful as hand, or foot, or eye, was to be cut off, but here He softeneth the hardness of that precept: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. Hardness, saith He, I command not save as teaching tenderness withal; in heaven their Angels do always behold the face of My Father. Oh, how great is the dignity of souls, whereof every one hath from its birth an Angel appointed to guard it! Hence, we read in the Revelation of John unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, (and so of the others,) write, And the Apostle (Paul) also saith: The woman (that is, in the Church) ought to have a covering on her head, because of the Angels.

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-10

The disciples came to Jesus at this time and said, Tell us, who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Whereupon Jesus called to his side a little child, to whom he gave a place in the midst of them, and said, Believe me, unless you become like little children again, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. He is greatest in the kingdom of heaven who will abase himself like this little child. He who gives welcome to such a child as this in my name, gives welcome to me. And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!  If thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of falling to thee, cut it off and cast it away from thee; better for thee to enter into life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet when thou art cast into eternal fire. And if thy eye is an occasion of falling to thee, pluck it out and cast it away from thee; better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes when thou art cast into the fires of hell. See to it that you do not treat one of these little ones with contempt; I tell you, they have angels of their own in heaven, that behold the face of my heavenly Father continually. 

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