Saturday, 9 April 2016

Matins readings for the Second Sunday after Easter

The readings in the Benedictine Office at Matins for the Second Sunday after Easter are set out below:

Nocturn I: (Acts 1: 1-8; 9-14; 15-20; 21-26)

Reading 1: The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach,  Until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth.  For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power: But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

R. With great power gave the Apostles
* Witness of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.
R. Witness of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 2: And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.  Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day' s journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James.  All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

R. From the mouth of the wise doth proceed honey, Alleluia : the sweetness of honey is under his tongue. Alleluia.
* His lips drop as the honey-comb. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Wisdom doth abide in his heart, and out of his mouth cometh understanding.
R. His lips drop as the honey-comb. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 3: In those days Peter rising up in the midst of the brethren, said: (now the number of persons together was about an hundred and twenty:) Men, brethren, the scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus: Who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.  And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Haceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.  For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take.

R. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the Book, and to loose he seven seals thereof.* Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Worthy is the Lamb That was slain to receive power, and riches, in wisdom, and strength, and honour, my glory, and blessing.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 4: Wherefore of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us,  Beginning from the baptism of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us, one of these must be made a witness with us of his resurrection.  And they appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  And praying, they said: Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,  To take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles

R. The Angel of the Lord spake unto the woman, saying : Whom seek ye? Seek ye Jesus? He is risen now :
* Come and see. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Seek ye Jesus of Nazareth, Which was crucified? He is risen, He is not here.
R. Come and see. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Nocturn II: Sermon 73 of St Leo

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, the days which passed between the Resurrection and the Ascension of the Lord, wore not idly by, but in them were established great Sacraments, and great Mysteries were revealed. In them was abolished the terror of that fearful death, and it was shown that not the soul only, but the body also, will not die eternally. In them the breathing of the Lord on His Apostles shed upon them the Holy Ghost, and the Blessed Apostle Peter, being given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, was chosen out of the rest to receive the chief care of the Lord's fold.

R. I am the True Vine, and ye are the branches
* He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.
R. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: It was during those days, that as two of His disciples were walking together, the Lord Himself joined them, and made Himself One of three companions. Then that, to clear away all shadow of doubt from our mind, He rebuked the slowness of such as still feared and trembled. Their hearts enlightened by faith, caught the flame; and, whereas they had afore been cold, they glowed again as the Lord opened to them the Scriptures.

R. After that our Lord Jesus was risen again, He came and stood in the midst of His disciples, and said unto them
* Peace be unto you. Alleluia. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Alleluia.
V. The first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and said unto them :
R. Peace be unto you. Alleluia. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Alleluia.

Reading 7: In the breaking of bread their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. And, O, how much happier were they with their eyes opened, and gazing upon the glorification of our nature in His Person, than were the first father and mother of our race, upon whom their own transgression had brought shame!

R. Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be new dough : for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us :
* Therefore let us keep the Feast, in the Lord. Alleluia.
V. He died for our offences, and rose again for our justification.
R. Therefore let us keep the Feast, in the Lord. Alleluia.

Reading 8: Amid these and other miracles, while the disciples were still troubled with fearful thoughts, the Lord manifested Himself in the midst of them, and said : Peace be unto you. And lest their reason should be deceived by the vain imaginations which lurked in their hearts, (for they thought that What they saw was a spirit, and not Flesh,) He rebuked thoughts so inconsistent with the truth; and pointed out to the eyes of the doubters the marks of crucifixion which still remained in His Hands and His Feet, and bade them handle Him more closely. Those open Wounds made by the nails and spear in His Body remain ever open to close the wounds in unbelievers' hearts : that we may hold, not with doubtful faith, but with most firm and absolute knowledge, that the Manhood Which lay in the grave is the Same Which now sitteth at the right hand of God the Father.

R. Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be new dough : for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us :
* Therefore let us keep the Feast, in the Lord. Alleluia.
V. He died for our offences, and rose again for our justification.
R. Therefore let us keep the Feast, in the Lord. Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Therefore let us keep the Feast, in the Lord. Alleluia.

Nocturn III (St Gregory)

Reading 9: Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard from the Holy Gospel what is at once your instruction, and our danger. Behold, how He Who, not by the varying gifts of nature, but of the very essence of His being, is Good, behold how He saith : I am the Good Shepherd. And then He saith what is the character of His goodness, even of that goodness of His which we must strive to copy : The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the Sheep. As He had foretold, even so did He; as He had commanded, so gave He example.

R. Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that he died to sin, he died once;
* In that he liveth, he liveth unto God:
V. He died onece for the sins, and he rose for our justification
R. In that he liveth, he liveth unto God:

Reading 10: The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep, and made His Own Body and His Own Blood to be our Sacramental Food, pasturing upon His Own Flesh the sheep whom He had bought.
He, by despising death, hath shown us how to do the like; He hath set before us the mould wherein it behoveth us to be cast.

R. The Good Shepherd, Who laid down His life for the sheep, yea, Who was contented even to die for His flock, the Good Shepherd is risen again.
* Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 11: Our first duty is, freely and tenderly to spend our outward things for His sheep, but lastly, if need be, to serve the same by our death also. From the light offering of the first, we go on to the stern offering of the last, and, if we be ready to give our life for the sheep, why should we scruple to give our substance, seeing how much more is the life than meat?

R. They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him. The Angels say unto her: Woman, why weepest thou? He is risen, as He said.
* He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him, alleluia, alleluia.
V. And as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the Sepulchre, and saw two Angels in white, sitting; and they say unto her:
R. He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 12: And some there be which love the things of this world better than they love the sheep; and such as they deserve no longer to be called shepherds. These are they of whom it is written : But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth. He is not a shepherd but an hireling which feedeth the Lord's sheep, not because he loveth their souls, but because he doth gain earthly wealth thereby. He that taketh a shepherd's place, but seeketh not gain of souls, that same is but an hireling; such an one is ever ready for creature comforts, he loveth his pre-eminence, he groweth sleek upon his income, and he liketh well to see men bow down to him.

R. When the Sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices
* That they might come and anoint Jesus. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun.
R. That they might come and anoint Jesus. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. That they might come iand anoint Jesus. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Gospel (St John 10:11-16):

Ego sum pastor bonus. Bonus pastor animam suam dat pro ovibus suis. Mercenarius autem, et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves propriæ, videt lupum venientem, et dimittit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit, et dispergit oves; mercenarius autem fugit, quia mercenarius est, et non pertinet ad eum de ovibus. Ego sum pastor bonus: et cognosco meas, et cognoscunt me meæ.  Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnosco Patrem: et animam meam pono pro ovibus meis. Et alias oves habeo, quæ non sunt ex hoc ovili: et illas oportet me adducere, et vocem meam audient, et fiet unum ovile et unus pastor.

 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep:  And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me.  As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.


Acts 2:1-36

File:35r-Pentecôte.jpg
Little Hours of Anne de Bretagne

Acts 2:

  • starts with a description of Pentecost (verses 1-13);
  • gives an account of St Peter's preaching on the occasion (verses 14-36).
The day of Pentecost:

1 When the day of Pentecost came round, while they were all gathered together in unity of purpose, 2 all at once a sound came from heaven like that of a strong wind blowing, and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then appeared to them what seemed to be tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them; 4 and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in strange languages, as the Spirit gave utterance to each. 5 Among those who were dwelling in Jerusalem at this time were devout Jews from every country under heaven; 6 so, when the noise of this went abroad, the crowd which gathered was in bewilderment; each man severally heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all beside themselves with astonishment; Are they not all Galileans speaking? they asked. 8 How is it that each of us hears them talking his own native tongue? 9 There are Parthians among us, and Medes, and Elamites; our homes are in Mesopotamia, or Judaea, or Cappadocia; in Pontus or Asia, 10 Phrygia or Pamphylia, Egypt or the parts of Libya round Cyrene; some of us are visitors from Rome, 11 some of us are Jews and others proselytes; there are Cretans among us too, and Arabians; and each has been hearing them tell of God’s wonders in his own language. 12 So they were all beside themselves with perplexity, and asked one another, What can this mean? 13 There were others who said, mockingly, They have had their fill of new wine.
 St Peter's homily:
Acts: 14 But Peter, with the eleven apostles at his side, stood there and raised his voice to speak to them; Men of Judaea, he said, and all you who are dwelling in Jerusalem, I must tell you this; listen to what I have to say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only the third hour of the day16 This is what was foretold by the prophet Joel: 17 In the last times, God says, I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and daughters will be prophets. Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 and I will pour out my spirit in those days upon my servants and hand-maids, so that they will prophesy. 19 I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire and whirling smoke; 20 the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, great and glorious. 21 And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 
Stans autem Petrus cum undecim, levavit vocem suam, et locutus est eis: Viri Judæi, et qui habitatis Jerusalem universi, hoc vobis notum sit, et auribus percipite verba mea15 Non enim, sicut vos æstimatis, hi ebrii sunt, cum sit hora diei tertia: 16 sed hoc est quod dictum est per prophetam Joël:Et erit in novissimis diebus, dicit Dominus, effundam de Spiritu meo super omnem carnem: et prophetabunt filii vestri et filiæ vestræ, et juvenes vestri visiones videbunt, et seniores vestri somnia somniabunt. 18  Et quidem super servos meos, et super ancillas meas, in diebus illis effundam de Spiritu meo, et prophetabunt: 19  et dabo prodigia in cælo sursum, et signa in terra deorsum, sanguinem, et ignem, et vaporem fumi: 20  sol convertetur in tenebras, et luna in sanguinem, antequam veniat dies Domini magnus et manifestus. 21 Et erit: omnis quicumque invocaverit nomen Domini, salvus erit. 
Chyrsostom: Then he goes on with the prophecy, which has in it also something terrible. And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs [in the earth beneath].  In these words he speaks both of the judgment to come, and of the taking of Jerusalem. Blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. Observe how he describes the capture. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. Acts 2:20 This results from the (διαθέσεως) internal affection of the sufferers. It is said, indeed, that many such phenomena actually did occur in the sky, as Josephus attests. At the same time the Apostle strikes fear into them, by reminding them of the darkness which had lately occurred, and leading them to expect things to come. Before that great and notable day of the Lord come. For be not confident, he means to say, because at present you sin with impunity. For these things are the prelude of a certain great and dreadful day. Do you see how he made their souls to quake and melt within them, and turned their laughter into pleading for acquittal? For if these things are the prelude of that day, it follows that the extreme of danger is impending. But what next? He again lets them take breath, adding, And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. Romans 10:13 This is said concerning Christ, as Paul affirms, but Peter does not venture as yet to reveal this....

Mark the sequence. First sons; just as David said, Instead of your fathers, were begotten your sons. Psalm 45:17 And again Malachi; They shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. And on my handmaidens, and on my servants. Malachi 4:6 This also is a token of excellence, for we have become His servants, by being freed from sin. And great is the gift, since the grace passes over to the other sex also, not as of old, it was limited to just one or two individuals, as Deborah and Huldah... 

And it shall come to pass, every one who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Every one, he says: though he be priest (but he does not vet reveal the meaning), though bond, though free. For there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus, no bond, no free. Galatians 3:28 Well may it be so, for all these are but shadow. For if in king's palaces there is no high-born nor low-born, but each appears according to his deeds; and in art, each is shown by his works; much more in that school of wisdom (φιλοσοφια). Every one who shall invoke. Invoke: not any how, for it is written, Not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord: but with (διαθέσεως) inward earnest affection, with a life more than commonly good, with the confidence which is meet. Thus far, however, he makes the discourse light, by introducing that which relates to faith, and that terrible which relates to the punishment. For in the invocation is the salvation.

Acts: 22 Men of Israel, listen to this. Jesus of Nazareth was a man duly accredited to you from God; such were the miracles and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves well know. 23 This man you have put to death; by God’s fixed design and foreknowledge, he was betrayed to you, and you, through the hands of sinful men, have cruelly murdered him. 24 But God raised him up again, releasing him from the pangs of death; it was impossible that death should have the mastery over him. 
22 Viri Israëlitæ, audite verba hæc: Jesum Nazarenum, virum approbatum a Deo in vobis, virtutibus, et prodigiis, et signis, quæ fecit Deus per illum in medio vestri, sicut et vos scitis: 23 hunc, definito consilio et præscientia Dei traditum, per manus iniquorum affligentes interemistis: 24 quem Deus suscitavit, solutis doloribus inferni, juxta quod impossibile erat teneri illum ab eo.
Chrysostom: Observe; what great matter was this, to say that He was sent from God? For this was the point which on all occasions both He and John and the Apostles were studious to show. Thus hear John saying: The same said unto me On whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and abiding on him, this is He. John 1:33 But Christ Himself does this to an extreme; Of Myself I am not come, He sent Me. John 7:28 And everywhere in the Scriptures this seems the point most studiously insisted upon. 

Therefore also this holy leader of the blessed company, the lover of Christ, the good shepherd, the man put in trust with the keys of heaven, the man who received the Spiritual Wisdom, when he has first subdued the Jews by fear; and has shown what great things have been vouchsafed to the disciples, and what a right they have to be believed, then first proceeds to speak concerning Him. 


Only think what boldness it was to say it, in the midst of the murderers— that He is risen! 


And yet he does not all at once say, He is risen; but what?— He came, says he, from God: this is manifest by the signs which— he does not yet say, Jesus Himself wrought: but what?— which God wrought by Him in the midst of you. He calls themselves as witnesses. A man proved (to be sent) from God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God wrought by him in the midst of you, as also ye yourselves know. 


Then, having fallen upon the mention of that their sacrilegious outrage, observe how he endeavors to quit them of the crime: Him, he says, being by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God delivered up: Acts 2:23 [adding however,] you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: for though it was predetermined, still they were murderers. 


[By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:] all but using the same words as Joseph did; just as he said to his brethren; Be not angry one with another by the way: God sent me hither. Genesis 45:5, 24 It is God's doing. What of us, then? (it might be said,) it was even well done on our part. 

That they may not say this, therefore it is that he adds, By wicked hands you have crucified and slain...  And observe how everywhere they make it of great importance that the Passion should first be confessed. 

Whom God Raised Up Acts 2:24, says he. This was the great thing; and observe how he sets it in the middle of his discourse: for the former matters had been confessed; both the miracles and the signs and the slaying— Whom God, says he, raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be kept in its power...


St Peter's sermon continues:
25 It is in his person that David says, Always I can keep the Lord within sight; always he is at my right hand, to make me stand firm. 26 So there is gladness in my heart, and rejoicing on my lips; my body, too, shall rest in confidence 27 that thou wilt not leave my soul in the place of death, or allow thy faithful servant to see corruption. 28 Thou hast shewn me the way of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness in thy presence.29 My brethren, I can say this to you about the patriarch David without fear of contradiction, that he did die, and was buried, and his tomb is among us to this day. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised him on oath that he would set the sons of his body upon his throne; 31 it was of the Christ he said, foreseeing his resurrection, that he was not left in the place of death, and that his body did not see corruption. 32 God, then, has raised up this man, Jesus, from the dead; we are all witnesses of it. 33 And now, exalted at God’s right hand, he has claimed from his Father his promise to bestow the Holy Spirit; and he has poured out that Spirit, as you can see and hear for yourselves. 34 David never went up to heaven, and yet David has told us, The Lord said to my Master, Sit on my right hand, 35 while I make thy enemies a footstool under thy feet.36 Let it be known, then, beyond doubt, to all the house of Israel, that God has made him Master and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Acts 1:15-26


File:St. Peter Preaching 02.jpg
Masacio
Acts 1, as we've seen:

  •  opens (verses 1-2) with a brief introduction from the human author (St Luke);
  •   Verses 3-8 describe the forty days after the Resurrection; 
  • verses 9-11 focus on the Ascension, and verses 12-14 on the return to the Upper Room thereafter.

Today's section of the chapter (verses 15-26) deals with the election of St Matthias as the twelfth apostle to replace Judas.

Acts 1 continued:

15 At this time, Peter stood up and spoke before all the brethren; a company of about a hundred and twenty were gathered there. 16 Brethren, he said, there is a prophecy in scripture that must needs be fulfilled; that which the Holy Spirit made, by the lips of David, about Judas, who shewed the way to the men that arrested Jesus. 17 Judas was counted among our number, and had been given a share in this ministry of ours. 18 (With the price of his treachery, this man came into possession of a field; and afterwards, when he fell from a height, and his belly burst open, so that he was disembowelled, 19 all Jerusalem heard of it, and the field came to be called, in their language, Haceldama, that is, the Field of Blood.) 20 Well, in the book of Psalms the words are written, Let their camping-place be deserted, and let no man be found to dwell in it. And again, Let another take over his office. 21 There are men who have walked in our company all through the time when the Lord Jesus came and went among us, 22 from the time when John used to baptize to the day when he, Jesus, was taken from us. One of these ought to be added to our number as a witness of his resurrection. 23 So they named two of them, Joseph called Barsabas, who had been given the fresh name of Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they offered this prayer, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew us which of these two thou hast chosen 25 to take his place in this work of apostleship, from which Judas has fallen away, and gone to the place which belonged to him. 26 They gave them lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he took rank with the eleven apostles.
15 In diebus illis, exsurgens Petrus in medio fratrum, dixit (erat autem turba hominum simul, fere centum viginti): 16 Viri fratres, oportet impleri Scripturam quam prædixit Spiritus Sanctus per os David de Juda, qui fuit dux eorum qui comprehenderunt Jesum: 17 qui connumeratus erat in nobis, et sortitus est sortem ministerii hujus. 18 Et hic quidem possedit agrum de mercede iniquitatis, et suspensus crepuit medius: et diffusa sunt omnia viscera ejus. 19 Et notum factum est omnibus habitantibus Jerusalem, ita ut appellaretur ager ille, lingua eorum, Haceldama, hoc est, ager sanguinis. 20 Scriptum est enim in libro Psalmorum: Fiat commoratio eorum deserta, et non sit qui inhabitet in ea: et episcopatum ejus accipiat alter. 21 Oportet ergo ex his viris qui nobiscum sunt congregati in omni tempore quo intravit et exivit inter nos Dominus Jesus, 22 incipiens a baptismate Joannis usque in diem qua assumptus est a nobis, testem resurrectionis ejus nobiscum fieri unum ex istis. 23 Et statuerunt duos, Joseph, qui vocabatur Barsabas, qui cognominatus est Justus, et Mathiam. 24 Et orantes dixerunt: Tu Domine, qui corda nosti omnium, ostende quem elegeris ex his duobus unum, 25 accipere locum ministerii hujus et apostolatus, de quo prævaricatus est Judas ut abiret in locum suum. 26 Et dederunt sortes eis, et cecidit sors super Mathiam: et annumeratus est cum undecim Apostolis.


St John Chrysostom:

...This Scripture, says he, must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before. Always he comforts them by the prophecies. So does Christ on all occasions. In the very same way, he shows here that no strange thing had happened, but what had already been foretold. This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, he says, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spoke before. He does not say, David, but the Spirit through him.

See what kind of doctrine the writer has at the very outset of the book. Do you see, that it was not for nothing that I said in the beginning of this work, that this book is the Polity of the Holy Spirit? Which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David. Observe how he appropriates (οἰκειοὕται) him; and that it is an advantage to them, that this was spoken by David, and not by some other Prophet...

...And his bishopric let another take; that is, his office, his priesthood. So that this, he says, is not my counsel, but His who has foretold these things. For, that he may not seem to be undertaking a great thing, and just such as Christ had done, he adduces the Prophet as a witness. Wherefore it behooves of these men which have companied with us all the time. Acts 1:21

Why does he make it their business too? That the matter might not become an object of strife, and they might not fall into contention about it. For if the Apostles themselves once did this, much more might those. This he ever avoids. Wherefore at the beginning he said, Men and brethren. It behooves to choose from among you. He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby both making the elected objects of reverence and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest. For such occasions always give rise to great evils. Now that some one must needs be appointed, he adduces the prophet as witness: but from among what persons: Of these, he says, which have companied with us all the time.

To have said, the worthy must present themselves, would have been to insult the others; but now he refers the matter to length of time; for he says not simply, These who have companied with us, but, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection Acts 1:22: that their college (ὁ χορὸς) might not be left mutilated.

Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself: what was the motive? This; that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And besides, he was not yet endowed with the spirit. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Acts 1:23 Not he appointed them: but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy; so that he acted as expositor, not as preceptor. Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus...

They were about an hundred and twenty, it says. The seventy perhaps whom Christ Himself had chosen, and other of the more earnest-minded disciples, as Joseph and Matthias. Acts 1:14 There were women, he says, many, who followed Him. Mark 15:41 [The number of the names together.] Together  they were on all occasions...

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us, continues Peter. Observe how desirous he is they should be eye-witnesses. It is true indeed that the Spirit would shortly come; and yet great care is shown with regard to this circumstance. Of these men, he says, which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.

He shows that they had dwelt with Christ, not simply been present as disciples. In fact, from the very beginning there were many that then followed Him. Observe, for instance, how this appears in these words: One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus.— All the time, he says, that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John. John 1:40 True! For no one knew what preceded that event, though they did learn it by the Spirit. Unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.

He said not, a witness of the rest of his actions, but a witness of the resurrection alone. For indeed that witness had a better right to be believed, who was able to declare, that He Who ate and drank, and was crucified, the same rose again. Wherefore it was needed that he should be a witness, not only of the time preceding this event, nor only of what followed it, and of the miracles; the thing required was, the resurrection. For the other matters were manifest and acknowledged, but the resurrection took place in secret, and was manifest to these only. And they do not say, Angels have told us; but, We have seen. For this it was that was most needful at that time: that they should be men having a right to be believed, because they had seen...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Acts 1: 3-14

Michelino da besozzo, codice bodmer, libro d'ore, prima metà xv secolo, new york pierpoint mongan library.JPG
c15th
Acts 1, we've seen, opens (verses 1-2) with a brief introduction from the human author (St Luke).  Verses 3-8 describe the forty days after the Resurrection; verses 9-11 focus on the Ascension, and verses 12-14 on the return to the Upper Room thereafter.

Acts 1 continues (you can hear the Latin read here:

3. He had shewn them by many proofs that he was still alive, after his passion; throughout the course of forty days he had been appearing to them, and telling them about the kingdom of God; 4 and now he gave them orders, as he shared a meal with them, not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise. You have heard it, he said, from my own lips; 5 John’s baptism, I told you, was with water, but there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit which you are to receive, not many days from this.6 And his companions asked him, Lord, dost thou mean to restore the dominion to Israel here and now? 7 But he told them, It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 Enough for you, that the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will receive strength from him; you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and throughout Judaea, in Samaria, yes, and to the ends of the earth. 
quibus et præbuit seipsum vivum post passionem suam in multis argumentis, per dies quadraginta apparens eis, et loquens de regno Dei. 4 Et convescens, præcepit eis ab Jerosolymis ne discederent, sed exspectarent promissionem Patris, quam audistis (inquit) per os meum: 5 quia Joannes quidem baptizavit aqua, vos autem baptizabimini Spiritu Sancto non post multos hos dies.6 Igitur qui convenerant, interrogabant eum, dicentes: Domine, si in tempore hoc restitues regnum Israël? 7 Dixit autem eis: Non est vestrum nosse tempora vel momenta quæ Pater posuit in sua potestate: 8 sed accipietis virtutem supervenientis Spiritus Sancti in vos, et eritis mihi testes in Jerusalem, et in omni Judæa, et Samaria, et usque ad ultimum terræ.

St John Chrysostom: ...It appears then that He also taught the Disciples after His resurrection, but of this space of time no one has related to us the whole in detail. St. John indeed, as also does the present writer, dwells at greater length on this subject than the others; but none has clearly related every thing (for they hastened to something else); however, we have learned these things through the Apostles, for what they heard, that did they tell...

Being seen of them during forty days. He was not always with them now, as He was before the Resurrection. For the writer does not say forty days, but, during forty days. He came, and again disappeared; by this leading them on to higher conceptions, and no longer permitting them to stand affected towards Him in the same way as before, but taking effectual measures to secure both these objects, that the fact of His Resurrection should be believed, and that He Himself should be ever after apprehended to be greater than man. At the same time, these were two opposite things; for in order to the belief in His Resurrection, much was to be done of a human character, and for the other object, just the reverse. Nevertheless, both results have been effected, each when the fitting time arrived...

And what did He, when appearing unto them those forty days? Why, He conversed with them, says the writer, concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 For, since the disciples both had been distressed and troubled at the things which already had taken place, and were about to go forth to encounter great difficulties, He recovered them by His discourses concerning the future. He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father. Acts 1:4 First, He led them out to Galilee, afraid and trembling, in order that they might listen to His words in security.
.Afterwards, when they had heard, and had passed forty days with Him, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem. Wherefore? Just as when soldiers are to charge a multitude, no one thinks of letting them issue forth until they have armed themselves, or as horses are not suffered to start from the barriers until they have got their charioteer; so Christ did not suffer these to appear in the field before the descent of the Spirit, that they might not be in a condition to be easily defeated and taken captive by the many...
9 When he had said this, they saw him lifted up, and a cloud caught him away from their sight. 10 And as they strained their eyes towards heaven, to watch his journey, all at once two men in white garments were standing at their side. 11 Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking heavenwards? He who has been taken from you into heaven, this same Jesus, will come back in the same fashion, just as you have watched him going into heaven. 12 Then, from the mountain which is called Olivet, they went back to Jerusalem; the distance from Jerusalem is not great, a sabbath day’s journey. 13 Coming in, they went up into the upper room where they dwelt, Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James. 14 All these, with one mind, gave themselves up to prayer, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, and the rest of the women and his brethren.
 Comment: Twelve people named, Mary 'completes' the apostles.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Lectio on Acts


Codex Laudianus (Acts 1,1-5) Tischendorf.jpg
Codex Laurentius, c6th


As the Matins readings have now shifted to a summer timetable (ie short chapter verse only) in the Benedictine use, I thought I'd post some lectio note on books appropriate to the season.

Accordingly over these next weeks leading up to Pentecost, I plan to read Acts with the help of the selections from the Sermons of St John Chrysostom (the full text is available on New Advent).  I'll generally post a chapter a day of Acts, but focus in a small portion of the text.  I will linger a little over the first couple of chapters however, given their particular relevance to the season.

Today's Homily from St John Chrysostom serves as a an introduction, discussing why we should read Acts.

Acts 1: 1-2

The first book which I wrote, Theophilus, was concerned with all that Jesus set out to do and teach, until the day came when he was taken up into heaven. He then laid a charge, by the power of the Holy Spirit, on the apostles whom he had chosen.

Primum quidem sermonem feci de omnibus, o Theophile, quæ cœpit Jesus facere et docere 2 usque in diem qua præcipiens Apostolis per Spiritum Sanctum, quos elegit, assumptus est: 

St John Chrysostom, Homily 1 on Acts:

To many persons this Book is so little known, both it and its author, that they are not even aware that there is such a book in existence. For this reason especially I have taken this narrative for my subject, that I may draw to it such as do not know it, and not let such a treasure as this remain hidden out of sight.

For indeed it may profit us no less than even the Gospels; so replete is it with Christian wisdom and sound doctrine, especially in what is said concerning the Holy Ghost. Then let us not hastily pass by it, but examine it closely.

Thus, the predictions which in the Gospels Christ utters, here we may see these actually come to pass; and note in the very facts the bright evidence of Truth which shines in them, and the mighty change which is taking place in the disciples now that the Spirit has come upon them.

For example, they heard Christ say, Whoso believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do John 14:12: and again, when He foretold to the disciples, that they should be brought before rulers and kings, and in their synagogues they should scourge them, and that they should suffer grievous things, and overcome all Matthew 10:18: and that the Gospel should be preached in all the world Matthew 24:14: now all this, how it came to pass exactly as it was said, may be seen in this Book, and more besides, which He told them while yet with them.

Here again you will see the Apostles themselves, speeding their way as on wings over land and sea; and those same men, once so timorous and void of understanding, on the sudden become quite other than they were; men despising wealth, and raised above glory and passion and concupiscence, and in short all such affections: moreover, what unanimity there is among them now; nowhere any envying as there was before, nor any of the old hankering after the pre-eminence, but all virtue brought in them to its last finish, and shining through all, with surpassing lustre, that charity, concerning which the Lord had given so many charges saying, In this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

And then, besides, there are doctrines to be found here, which we could not have known so surely as we now do, if this Book had not existed, but the very crowning point of our salvation would be hidden, alike for practice of life and for doctrine.

The greater part, however, of this work is occupied with the acts of Paul, who laboured more abundantly than they all. 1 Corinthians 15:10 And the reason is, that the author of this Book, that is, the blessed Luke, was his companion: a man, whose high qualities, sufficiently visible in many other instances, are especially shown in his firm adherence to his Teacher, whom he constantly followed... Again, when he says, He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, and, according to the Gospel which you received (1 Corinthians 15:5, 1), he means the Gospel of this Luke. So that there can be no mistake in attributing this work to him: and when I say, to him, I mean, to Christ...

And why then did he not relate every thing, seeing he was with Paul to the end? We may answer, that what is here written, was sufficient for those who would attend, and that the sacred writers ever addressed themselves to the matter of immediate importance, whatever it might be at the time: it was no object with them to be writers of books: in fact, there are many things which they have delivered by unwritten tradition...

The Gospels, then, are a history of what Christ did and said; but the Acts, of what that other Comforter said and did. Not but that the Spirit did many things in the Gospels also; even as Christ here in the Acts still works in men as He did in the Gospels: only then the Spirit wrought through the Temple, now through the Apostles: then, He came into the Virgin's womb, and fashioned the Temple; now, into Apostolic souls: then in the likeness of a dove; now, in the likeness of fire. And wherefore? Showing there the gentleness of the Lord, but here His taking vengeance also, He now puts them in mind of the judgment likewise. For, when need was to forgive, need was there of much gentleness; but now we have obtained the gift, it is henceforth a time for judgment and examination.

Helpful resources on Acts

Translations

New Advent (Septuagint, Knox, Vulgate)
Douay-Rheims
Acts read in Latin
Acts read in Greek

Commentaries

Haydock's introduction to Acts
Divine Lamp resources
Patristic citations of Acts
Ante-Nicene Fathers e catena
Pamphilus

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Lectio divina notes on the Gospel of St Mark: List of posts

From today the Matins Office reverts to its minimalist winter form in the Benedictine Office, people may be in search of lectio.

For those looking for material on the Gospels, here is an index of my past posts on the Gospel of St Mark.

I'll separately start posting some notes on Acts, traditionally read at this season, starting early tomorrow am Australian time.

Useful resources

For further reference, I've listed below some useful resources on St Mark available online.

Translations

New Advent (Septuagint, Vulgate, Knox translation)
Douay-Rheims
St Mark read in Latin
St Mark read in Greek

Introductions and commentaries

de Lapide
Haydock
Catena Aurea
Divine Lamp

My posts

Mark 1

Verses 1-13
Verses 14-31
Verses 32-45

Mark 2

Mark 2: 1-17
Mark 2: 18-28

Mark 3

Mark 2: 1-12
Mark 3: 13-35

Mark 4

Mark 4: 1-20
Mark 4: 21-40

Mark 5

Mark 5: 1-20
Mark 5: 21-42

Mark 6

Mark 6:1-32
Mark 6: 33-56
[Mark 6:47-56 (Sat after Ash Wednesday)]

Mark 7

Mark 7: 1-23
Mark 7:24-37
[Mark 7:31-37 (Gospel for 11th Sunday after Pentecost)]

Mark 8

[Mark 8: 1-9 (Gospel for 6th Sunday after Pentecost)]
Mark 8:1-21
Mark 8: 22-39

Mark 9

Mark 9:1-12
Mark 9: 13-28 (Ember Wed in Sept, 16-28)
Mark 9: 29-49

Mark 10

Mark 10:1-16
Mark 10:17-27
Mark 10: 28-52

Mark 11

Mark 11: 1-18
Mark 11: 19-33

Mark 12

Mark 12: 1-17
Mark 12: 18-27
Mark 12: 28-44

Mark 13

Mark 13: 1-10
Mark 13:11-23
Mark 13: 24-37

Mark 14

Mark 14: 1-26
Mark 14: 27-52
Mark 14:53-72

Mark 15

Mark 15:1-24
Mark 15:25-39
Mark 15: 40-47

Mark 16

[Mark 16: 1-7 (Mass of Easter Day)]
Mark 16: 1-11
Mark 16: 12-20 (Ascension, 14-20)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Feast of St Benedict (transferred)

The readings for the feast of St Benedict are set out below.

Nocturn I (Sirach 44:1-15)

Reading 1:Speak we now in honour of famous men that were our fathers, long ago. What high achievements the Lord has made known in them, ever since time began!  Here were men that had power and bore rule, men that excelled in strength, or in the wisdom that dowered them; prophets that worthily upheld the name of prophecy,

Reading 2: issuing to the people the commands their times needed, uttering, through their foresight, a sacred charge to the nations. Here were men that had skill to devise melodies, to make songs and set them down in writing.  Here were men rich in ability, noble of aim, that dwelt peacefully in their homes.  These were the glories of their race, the ornament of their times;

Reading 3: and the sons they begot have left a memory that adds to the recital of their praise.  Not like those others, who are forgotten in death as if they had never been; nameless, they and their children, as if they had never lived;  no, these were men of tender conscience; their deeds of charity will never be forgotten. Blessings abide with their posterity;

Reading 4: their descendants are a race set apart for God, the pledged heirs of his promises. For their sakes this line of theirs will endure for all time; their stock, their name, will never be allowed to die out. Their bodies lie in peace; their name lasts on, age after age.  Their wisdom is yet a legend among the people; wherever faithful men assemble, their story is told.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: Benedict was born of a noble family at Norcia, about the year of our Lord 480, and studied letters at Rome. Desiring to give himself altogether to Christ Jesus, he betook himself to a very deep cave at the place now called Subiaco. In this place he lay hid for three years, unknown to all except the monk Romanus, by means of whom he received the necessaries of life. While he was in the cave at Subiaco, the devil one day assailed him with an extraordinary storm of impure temptation, and to get it under, he rolled himself in brambles till his whole body was lacerated, and the sting of pain drove out the sallies of lust.

Reading 6: At last the fame of his holiness spread itself abroad from the desert, and some monks came to him for guidance, but the looseness of their lives was such that they could not bear his exhortations, and they plotted together to poison him in his drink. When they gave him the cup, he made the sign of the Cross over it, whereupon it immediately broke, and Benedict left that monastery, and retired to a desert place alone.  Nevertheless his disciples followed him daily, and for them he built twelve monasteries, and set holy laws to govern them.

Reading 7: Afterwards he went to Cassino, and brake the image of Apollo which was still worshipped there, overturned the altar, and burnt the groves. There, in the year 529, he built the Church of St Martin and the little chapel of St John; and instilled Christianity into the townspeople and inhabitants. He grew in the grace of God day by day, so that being endowed with the spirit of prophecy he foretold things to come. When Totila, King of the Goths, heard of it, and would see whether it really were so, he sent his Spatharius before him, with the kingly ensigns and attendance, and feigning himself to be Totila. But as soon as Benedict saw him he said: My son, put off that which thou wearest, for it is not thine. To Totila himself he foretold that he would go to Rome, would cross the sea, and would die after nine years.

Reading 8: Some months before he departed this life, Benedict forewarned his disciples on what day he was to die; and he ordered his grave to be opened six days before he was carried to it. On the sixth day, being the 21st of March, in the year 543, he would be carried into the Church, where he received the Eucharist, and then, in the arms of his disciples, with his eyes lifted up to heaven, and wrapt in prayer, he gave up the ghost. Two monks saw his soul rising to heaven, clothed in a most precious garment, and surrounded with lights, and One of a most glorious and awful aspect standing above, Whom they heard saying This is the way whereby Benedict, the beloved of the Lord, goeth up to heaven.

Nocturn III (Sermon of St Peter Damian on St Benedict)

Reading 9: 'Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee.Solemn word, mighty undertaking, a holy work and one worthy of blessing, to leave all things and follow Christ. These are the persuasive words of voluntary poverty, which have brought forth monasteries, and filled the cloister with monks and the woods with anchorites. These are the words of which  the Church sings: 'By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.'  We shall receive rest for our  labour, riches for our poverty, a reward for our tribulation. It  is a great thing to forsake all, but to follow Christ is a greater;  for we read of many who have left all but who have not followed Christ. This is our task, this our labour; in this lies the essence of human salvation; nor can we follow Christ unless we forsake all, for He rejoices as a strong man to run a race, and he who bears a load cannot follow.

Reading 10: 'Behold' he says, 'we have forsaken all' not only the riches  of this world but the desires of the soul too; for he who holds on to the self has not forsaken all. And it is useless to abandon other things if we do not abandon ourselves, since man's heaviest burden is man himself. What tyrant is more cruel to man, what power more savage, than his own will ? Under its sway you can never rest or sit at your ease, and the more it wearies you in enforcing obedience to itself, the more it goads and stings and weighs you down, being unmindful of kindness and a stranger to mercy. This is the nature of self-will: the more obedient its subject, the more cruelly is he bound in its chains.  'What shall we have therefore?' Peter has forsaken all; not only is he following, he has followed for a long time; and now for the first time he asks what he will receive. What, Peter ? Did you not promise obedience to the voice? You made no contract with the Lord. But listen to what the Lord God says, and await that hope in which, in this uncertain world, we must confide. ' 'You shall sit', says the Lord who is Truth. Splendid sitting, welcome rest, full sufficiency.

Reading 11: But lest our long awaiting should mar the sweetness of His promise, He controls the restlessness of our minds with a sweeter word. Tor he knoweth our frame; He knows that  our weakness cannot brook delays; in His loving kindness He meets this problem and counteracts it, saying: 'And everyone that hath forsaken house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.' "The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped'; now all they who transgress without cause are ashamed.  For we have promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come;  and it is clear that the promise of receiving a hundred-fold applies to this life, since the words which follow are 'and shall inherit everlasting life'.

Reading 12:Those who have not yet received the hundredfold reward must scrutinize their hearts and diligently examine all the work of their hands; they will certainly find some corner or lodging-place unknown to the Saviour.And what is our hundredfold reward but the  consolations, the visitations and the firstfruits of the Spirit, sweeter than honey; the witness of our consciences; the joyous and lovely expectation of the just, the memory of God's abundant sweetness, the great multitude of His delights, of which there is no need to tell those who have known them, just as it is impossible to describe them to those who have not known them.There is no one to whom all this exposition of our text
better applies than to our father and master St. Benedict. He forsook die world and all its flowers in boyhood to run with strong strides after the running Christ; and he did not rest until he had caught up with Him.

Gospel:

Today is the feast of the translation of the relics of St Benedict in the Benedictine and Novus Ordo calendars.  The Gospel for the feast is St Matthew 19:27-29:

27 Tunc respondens Petrus, dixit ei: Ecce nos reliquimus omnia, et secuti sumus te: quid ergo erit nobis? 28 Jesus autem dixit illis: Amen dico vobis, quod vos, qui secuti estis me, in regeneratione cum sederit Filius hominis in sede majestatis suæ, sedebitis et vos super sedes duodecim, judicantes duodecim tribus Israël. 29 Et omnis qui reliquerit domum, vel fratres, aut sorores, aut patrem, aut matrem, aut uxorem, aut filios, aut agros propter nomen meum, centuplum accipiet, et vitam æternam possidebit.

27 Hereupon Peter took occasion to say, And what of us who have forsaken all, and followed thee; what is left for us? 28 Jesus said to them, I promise you, in the new birth, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit there on twelve thrones, you who have followed me, and shall be judges over the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every man that has forsaken home, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive his reward a hundredfold, and obtain everlasting life. (Knox translation)

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Feast of the Annunciation (transferred)

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

Nocturn I: Isaiah 7: 10-15; 11: 1-5; 35: 1-3, 4-7

Reading 1: The Lord sent, besides, this message to Achaz, 11 Ask the Lord thy God to give thee a sign, in the depths beneath thee, or in the height above thee. 12 But Achaz said, Nay, I will not ask for a sign; I will not put the Lord to the test. 13 Why then, said Isaias, listen to me, you that are of David’s race. Cannot you be content with trying the patience of men? Must you try my God’s patience too? 14 Sign you ask none, but sign the Lord will give you. Maid shall be with child, and shall bear a son, that shall be called Emmanuel. 15 On butter and honey shall be his thriving, till he is of age to know good from harm;

R. The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a Virgin espoused to Joseph, to bring unto her the word of the Lord and when the Virgin saw the light she was afraid. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace from the Lord.
* Behold, thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest. Alleluia.
V. The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.
R. Behold, thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest. Alleluia.

Reading 2: From the stock of Jesse a scion shall burgeon yet; out of his roots a flower shall spring. 2 One shall be born, on whom the spirit of the Lord will rest; a spirit wise and discerning, a spirit prudent and strong, a spirit of knowledge and of piety, 3 and ever fear of the Lord shall fill his heart. Not his to judge by appearances, listen to rumours when he makes award; 4 here is judgement will give the poor redress, here is award will right the wrongs of the defenceless. Word of him shall smite the earth like a rod, breath of him destroy the ill-doer; 5 love of right shall be the baldric he wears, faithfulness the strength that girds him.

R. Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee
* The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee therefore also that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Alleluia.
V. How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the Angel answered and said unto her,
R. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Alleluia.

Reading 3: Thrills the barren desert with rejoicing; the wilderness takes heart, and blossoms, fair as the lily. 2 Blossom on blossom, it will rejoice and sing for joy; all the majesty of Lebanon is bestowed on it, all the grace of Carmel and of Saron. All alike shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3 Stiffen, then, the sinews of drooping hand and flagging knee

R. Receive, O Virgin Mary, receive the word of the Lord, which is sent thee by His Angel thou shalt conceive, and shalt bring forth God and Man together.
* And thou shalt be called blessed among all women. Alleluia.
V. Thou shalt bring forth a son, and remain a maiden undefiled thou shalt conceive and be a Mother, still Virgin unspotted.
R. And thou shalt be called blessed among all women. Alleluia.

Reading 4: give word to the faint-hearted, Take courage, and have no fear; see where your Lord is bringing redress for your wrongs, God himself, coming to deliver you! 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and deaf ears unsealed; 6 the lame man, then, shall leap as the deer leap, the speechless tongue cry aloud. Springs will gush out in the wilderness, streams flow through the desert; 7 ground that was dried up will give place to pools, barren land to wells of clear water; where the serpent had its lair once, reed and bulrush will show their green.

Nocturn II: Sermon 22 of St Leo

Reading 5: The Almighty and merciful God, Whose nature is goodness, Whose will is power, and Whose work is mercy, did, at the very beginning of the world, as soon as the devil's hatred had mortally poisoned us with the venom of his envy, foretell those remedies which His mercy had foreordained for our healing. He bade the serpent know that there was to be a Seed of the woman Who should yet bruise the swelling of his pestilential head; this Seed was none other than the Christ to come in the flesh, that God and Man in one Person, Who, being born of a Virgin, should, by His undefiled birth, damn the seducer of man.

R. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, saith the Lord
* And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God. Alleluia.
V. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom for ever.
R. And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God. Alleluia.

Reading 6: The devil rejoiced that by his fraud he had so deceived man as to make him lose the gifts of God, forfeit his privilege of eternal life, bring himself under the hard sentence of death, and find in his misery a certain comfort in the accomplice of his guilt; he rejoiced also that God, in His just anger, was changed towards man, whom He had made in such honour. But, dearly beloved brethren, that Unchangeable God, Whose Will cannot be divorced from His goodness, by His own secret counsel carried out in a mysterious way His original purpose of goodness, and man, who had been led into sin by the wicked craft of the devil, perished not to disappoint that gracious purpose of God.

R. There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Flower shall grow out of his roots.
* And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Alleluia.
V. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might.
R. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Alleluia.

Reading 7: Then therefore, dearly beloved brethren, the fulness of that time came, which God had appointed for our Redemption, our Lord Jesus Christ entered this lower world, came down from His heavenly throne, and, while He left not that glory which He hath with the Father before the world was, was incarnate by a new order and a new birth new, in that He Who is Invisible among His own, was made visible among us; He Who is Incomprehensible, willed to be comprehended; He Who is before the ages, began to be in time; the Lord of all shadowed the glory of His Majesty, and took upon Him the form of a servant; the Impassible God vouchsafed to become a man subject to suffering; and the Immortal laid Himself under the laws of death.

Reading 8:  For though the true mercy of God had infinitely many schemes to hand for the restoration of mankind, it chose that particular design which put in force for destroying the devil's work, not the efficacy of might but the dictates of justice. For the pride of the ancient foe not undeservedly made good its despotic rights over all men, and with no unwarrantable supremacy tyrannized over those who had been of their own accord lured away from God's commands to be the slaves of his will. And so there would be no justice in his losing the immemorial slavery of the human race, were he not conquered by that which he had subjugated.

Nocturn III: St Ambrose:

Reading 9: The mysteries of God are unsearchable, and it is especially declared by a Prophet, that a man can hardly know His counsels. Wisd. ix. 13. Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us, and we may gather from some of the words and works of the Lord our Saviour, that there was a special purpose of God, in the fact that she who was chosen to be the mother of the Lord was espoused to a man. Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused? Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that she had conceived in fornication the Holy One.

Reading 10: [not available online]

Reading 11: And the angel came in unto her. Let us learn from this Virgin how to bear ourselves, let us learn her modesty, let us learn by her devout utterance, above all let us learn by the holy mystery enacted. It is the part of a maiden to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses. Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us. She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and was found only by an angel. There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip and the angel saluted her.

R. Rejoice with me, all ye that love the Lord, for while I was yet a little one, I pleased the Most High.
* And I have brought forth from my bowels God and man. Alleluia.
V. All generations shall call me blessed, since the Lord hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.
R. And I have brought forth from my bowels God and man. Alleluia.

Reading 12: Tanti namque mandati mysterium non hominis fuit, sed Angeli ore promendum. Hodie primum auditur: Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te. Et auditur, et creditur. Denique, Ecce, inquit, ancilla Domini: contingat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Vide humilitatem, vide devotionem. Ancillam se dicit Domini, quae mater eligitur: nec repentino exaltata promisso est.


R. Rejoice, O Mary, by whose mighty hand the Church hath victory o'er her foes achieved, since thou to Gabriel's word of quickening power in lowliness hast listened, and believed;
* Thou, still a virgin, in thy blessed womb hast God Incarnate of thy flesh conceived, and, still of heaven, of that virginity remainest after childbirth unbereaved. Alleluia.
V. Blessed art thou that hast believed, for there is a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord.
R. Thou, still a virgin, in thy blessed womb hast God Incarnate of thy flesh conceived, and, still of heaven, of that virginity remainest after childbirth unbereaved. Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Thou, still a virgin, in thy blessed womb hast God Incarnate of thy flesh conceived, and, still of heaven, of that virginity remainest after childbirth unbereaved. Alleluia.

The Gospel for the feast of the Annunciation is St Luke 1:26-38:

26 In mense autem sexto, missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, 27 ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David: et nomen virginis Maria. 28 Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit: Ave gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus. 29 Quæ cum audisset, turbata est in sermone ejus, et cogitabat qualis esset ista salutatio. 30 Et ait angelus ei: Ne timeas, Maria: invenisti enim gratiam apud Deum. 31 Ecce concipies in utero, et paries filium, et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum: 32 hic erit magnus, et Filius Altissimi vocabitur, et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patris ejus: et regnabit in domo Jacob in æternum, 33 et regni ejus non erit finis. 34 Dixit autem Maria ad angelum: Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco? 35 Et respondens angelus dixit ei: Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi. Ideoque et quod nascetur ex te sanctum, vocabitur Filius Dei. 36 Et ecce Elisabeth cognata tua, et ipsa concepit filium in senectute sua: et hic mensis sextus est illi, quæ vocatur sterilis: 37 quia non erit impossibile apud Deum omne verbum. 38 Dixit autem Maria: Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Et discessit ab illa angelus.

[26] And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. [28] And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [29] Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. [31] Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. [33] And of his kingdom there shall be no end. [34] And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? [35] And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. [36] And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: [37] Because no word shall be impossible with God. [38] And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.