Saturday, 13 August 2016

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

In 2016, Nocturns I&II in the Benedictine Office this Sunday are for the second Sunday of August.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Augustine, questions on the Gospels, 2:40

Reading 9: The ten lepers "lifted up their voices and said: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them Go, show yourselves unto the Priests. And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed." Question why did the Lord send them unto the Priests, that, as they went, they might be cleansed Lepers were the only class among those upon whose bodies He worked mercy, whom we find that He sent unto the Priests. It is written in another place that He said to a leper whom He had cleansed " Go, and show thyself to the Priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them"

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,
* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: We ask then, of what leprosy was a type, whereof they that were ridded were called, not "healed," but "cleansed." It is a disease which doth first appear in the skin, but destroyeth not immediately the strength, nor the use of feeling and the limbs. The lepers, therefore, we may not absurdly suppose such to be figured as have not the knowledge of the true faith, but do show forth divers-coloured teachings of error. They hide not their witlessness, but do use all such wit as they have to make it manifest, and proclaim it in high-sounding phrases.

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.
* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: There is no false doctrine but hath some truth mixed up with it. A man's discourse then, with some truths in it unequally mingled with falsehoods, and all confounded in one mass, is like to the body of one that is stricken with leprosy, whereon all manner of foul colours do appear in this and that place along with the true colour of skin.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: Such men as these are banished out of the walls of the Church, to the end that haply when they stand afar off they may lift up their voices and cry to Christ for pardon, just as those ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off, outside the village, lifted up their voices and said "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." That they styled Him Master, by which title I know not if any besought the Lord for bodily healing, I think doth sufficiently show that leprosy signifieth false doctrine, whereof the Good Master doth cleanse us.

R. One Seraph cried unto another * Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.

This Sunday's Gospel in the traditional calendar is St Luke 17: 11-19:

A time came when he was on his way to Jerusalem, and was passing between Samaria and Galilee; and as he was going into a village, ten men that were lepers came towards him; they stood far off, crying aloud, Jesus, Master, have pity on us.  He met them with the words, Go and shew yourselves to the priests; and thereupon, as they went, they were made clean.  One of them, finding that he was cured, came back, praising God aloud, and threw himself at Jesus’ feet with his face to the ground, to thank him; and this was a Samaritan. Jesus answered, Were not all ten made clean? And the other nine, where are they? Not one has come back to give God the praise, except this stranger. And he said to him, Arise and go on thy way, thy faith has brought thee recovery.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Hebrews 13:17-25 - The God of peace

Hebrews 13:17-19
Obey those who have charge of you, and yield to their will; they are keeping unwearied watch over your souls, because they know they will have an account to give. Make it a grateful task for them: it is your own loss if they find it a laborious effort. Pray for us; we trust we have a clear conscience, and the will to be honourable in all our dealings. And I make this request the more earnestly, in the hope of being restored to you the sooner. 
Obedite præpositis vestris, et subjacete eis. Ipsi enim pervigilant quasi rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri, ut cum gaudio hoc faciant, et non gementes: hoc enim non expedit vobis. Orate pro nobis: confidimus enim quia bonam conscientiam habemus in omnibus bene volentes conversari. Amplius autem deprecor vos hoc facere, quo celerius restituar vobis. 

Obey your leaders [prelates]: Here it should be noted that there are two things we owe our prelates, namely, obedience to their precepts; hence, he says, obey: ‘Obedience is better than victims’, and reverence, so that we honor them as fathers and subject ourselves to their discipline. Therefore, he says, and be subject to them: ‘Be subject to every human creature’; ‘He that resists the power, resists God’s ordinance’.

Prelates will be held to account: ...for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give an account.. For prelates will render an account of those committed to them, when on the day of judgement, they will be asked: ‘Where is the flock that is given you, your beautiful cattle? What will you say in your heart? For you taught them against you (by saying good things are doing evil) you instructed them against your head by your bad example’...

Pray for us: Thus does the Apostle tell them how they should act in regard to him: for he asks that they pray for him...Therefore, in asking that they pray for him the Apostle, who was certain that he was acceptable to God, was striking at the pride of those who scorned asking prayers of others, as a Gloss says.

Hebrews 13:20-21
May God, the author of peace, who has raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, that great shepherd, whose flock was bought with the blood of an eternal covenant, grant you every capacity for good, to do his will. May he carry out in you the design he sees best, through Jesus Christ, to whom glory belongs throughout all ages, Amen.
Deus autem pacis, qui eduxit de mortuis pastorem magnum ovium, in sanguine testamenti æterni, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, aptet vos in omni bono, ut faciatis ejus voluntatem: faciens in vobis quod placeat coram se per Jesum Christum: cui est gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. 
Peace:  In regard to the first he describes the One Whom he seeks, saying the God peace. For God’s proper effect is to make peace, because ‘he is not a God of dissension but of peace’ and ‘have peace: and the God of peace and love shall be with you’. For peace is nothing more than unity of affections, which God alone can make one, because hearts are united by charity, which is from God alone. For God knows how to gather and unite, because God is love, which is the bond of perfection. Hence, ‘he makes men of one manner to dwell in a house’. For man made peace between himself and God through the ministry of Christ.

Raised from the dead: ...But sometimes Christ is said to have been raised up by the Father’s power: ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead’; and sometimes He is said to have raised Himself: ‘I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up’ (Ps. 3:6). But these statements are not contrary, because He rose by God’s power, which is one in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, he brought him again from the dead, i.e., from the tomb, which is the place of the dead: ‘As Christ rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also shall walk in the newness of life'.

The great shepherd of the sheep:... i.e., of the faithful and the humble: ‘I am the good shepherd, and I know mine, and mine know me’; for the sheep are they who obey God: ‘And my sheep hear my voice’. But he calls him the great shepherd, because all others are His vicars, for He feeds His own sheep, but the others feed Christ’s sheep: ‘Feed my sheep’; ‘When the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory’.

The blood of the eternal covenant, i.e., in virtue of the blood of Christ by Whom is confirmed the New Covenant, in which eternal things are promised, but not in the Old. For Christ calls His blood the blood of the New Covenant; but the Apostle says, of the everlasting covenant. Therefore, both are mentioned in the words of the consecration of the Blood. But Christ by His passion merited the glory of His resurrection for Himself and for us; hence, he says, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus. . . by the blood of the eternal covenant: ‘He humbled himself, being made obedient unto death’; ‘By the blood of your testament you have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water’.

May he equip [fit] you with everything good. For the human will, since it is the inclination of reason, is the principle of human acts, as heaviness is the principle of downward movement of heavy bodies; hence it is related to the acts of human reason as a natural inclination to natural acts. But a natural thing is said to be fit for that to which it has an inclination. So, too, man, when he has the will to do good, is said to be fit for it. God, too, when He inserts a good will in a man, fits him, i.e., makes him fit. Therefore, he says, May God fit you with every good that you may do his will, i.e., make you will every good: ‘The desire of the just is every good’ (Pr. 2:3). For this is God’s will, namely, what God wills us to will; otherwise, our will is not good. But the will of God is our good: ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’; ‘That you may prove what is the good and acceptable and the perfect will of God’...

Hebrews 13: 22-25
I entreat you, brethren, bear patiently with all these words of warning; it is but a brief letter I am sending you.You must know that our brother Timothy has been set at liberty; if he comes soon, I will bring him with me when I visit you. Greet all those who are in authority, and all the saints. The brethren from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all, Amen. 
Rogo autem vos fratres, ut sufferatis verbum solatii. Etenim perpaucis scripsi vobis.  Cognoscite fratrem nostrum Timotheum dimissum: cum quo (si celerius venerit) videbo vos.  Salutate omnes præpositos vestros, et omnes sanctos. Salutant vos de Italia fratres.  Gratia cum omnibus vobis. Amen

Conclusion to the epistle: Then  he adds a petition in which he excuses himself; then he concludes the epistle. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he gives his excuse; secondly, he recommends the messenger through whom he writes; thirdly, he sends several greetings...Then he concludes in his accustomed manner, as though sealing it with a personal greeting: Grace be with all of you. Amen, i.e., the remission of sins and any other of God’s gifts, which are obtained through the grace of God, be firmly with all of you. The Amen is a confirmation of everything.

Next up!

And that brings to an end this series of notes from St Thomas Aquinas on \the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Hebrews 13:15-16 - The sacrifice of praise

The sacrifice of praise: Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
Per ipsum ergo offeramus hostiam laudis semper Deo, id est, fructum labiorum confitentium nomini ejus. 
The sacrifice of praise: Then when he says, By him them let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, he presents the second conclusion, namely, that we should sacrifice upon the altar and offer certain kinds of sacrifice. For there are two kinds of sacrifice that we should offer upon Christ’s altar, namely, devotion to God and mercy towards our neighbor.

Confessing his name with our lips: ..But that sacrifice of praise is called the fruit of our lips, i.e., confession with the mouth. For God is praised better by the mouth than by the killing of animals; hence he says, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, for this is necessary: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’; ‘We will render the calves of our lips’; ‘I created the fruit of the lips’ (Is. 57:19). But this sacrifice should be offered always, i.e., continually, as there was a continual sacrifice during the Law, as it says in Numbers: ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be always in my mouth’.

St John Chrysostom comments on this verse:
And by Him let us offer a sacrifice to God. Of what kind of sacrifice does he speak? The fruit of lips giving thanks to His Name. They [the Jews] brought sheep, and calves, and gave them to the Priest: let us bring none of these things, but thanksgiving. This fruit let our lips put forth.
For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Let us give such a sacrifice to Him, that He may offer [it] to The Father. For in no other way it is offered except through the Son, or rather also through a contrite mind. All these things [are said] for the weak. For that the thanks belong to the Son is evident: since otherwise, how is the honor equal? That all men (He says) should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  Wherein is the honor equal? The fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.
Good works: Hebrews 13:16
Meanwhile, you must remember to do good to others and give alms; God takes pleasure in such sacrifice as this.
Beneficentiæ autem et communionis nolite oblivisci: talibus enim hostiis promeretur Deus.
Works of mercy: He mentions another sacrifice, when he says, Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have. As if to say: You formerly performed works of mercy; but now at least with the heart, if you cannot in deed. Therefore, he says, Do not neglect to do good, be liberal, in regard to the things you give: ‘In doing good, let us not fail’; ‘Do good to the humble, and give not to the ungodly'. Do not forget to share what you have, i.e., the things you have saved: ‘All they that believed were together, and had all things in common’; ‘Communicating to the necessities of the saints’. Or share, namely, by charity, through which all things are common.

Merit of such sacrifices: But why should we share that double benefit is shown when he says: for such sacrifices are pleasing to God, i.e., we can merit God by such sacrifices: ‘I am your protector and your reward exceeding great’; ‘Then you shall accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings’; ‘They shall worship him with sacrifices and offerings; and they shall make vows to the Lord and perform them’.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hebrews 13:9-14 No lasting city

St Thomas Aquinas' commentary follows below, but can I also recommend the excellent lecture on these verses (and the two that follow in the next post) by Dr Peter Kwasniewski reprodeuced over at Rorate Caeli.

The gift of grace: Hebrews 13:9-13
Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them. We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Doctrinis variis et peregrinis nolite abduci. Optimum est enim gratia stabilire cor, non escis: quæ non profuerunt ambulantibus in eis. Habemus altare, de quo edere non habent potestatem, qui tabernaculo deserviunt. Quorum enim animalium infertur sanguis pro peccato in Sancta per pontificem, horum corpora cremantur extra castra. Propter quod et Jesus, ut sanctificaret per suum sanguinem populum, extra portam passus est. Exeamus igitur ad eum extra castra, improperium ejus portantes. 

Imitate the faith of the apostles: ...Here it should be noted that since truth consists in the mean, which is one, many false statements can be opposed to one truth, just as there are many extremes to one middle. Therefore, the doctrine of faith is one, because only one line can be drawn between two points. But all other doctrines are manifold, because there are many deviations from what is straight...

The heart strengthened by grace: ...Here it should be noted that in the early Church there was one error rampant, namely, that it was necessary for salvation to observe the ceremonies of the Law, which consisted especially in partaking of certain foods, such as the paschal lamb (Ex. 12) and in abstaining from certain foods, as is clear from Leviticus (chap. 12) and from other passages.

Christ's sacrifice prefigured in the blood of the heifer and goat taken into the holy of holies: ...Therefore, the immolated heifer and goat is Christ, the Priest, offering Himself for our sins. Therefore, the blood of Christ was brought into the holies and the flesh burned outside the camp. Two things were thereby signified: one, that Christ was immolated in the city by the tongues of the Jews; hence Mark says that He was crucified at the third hour, although He was raised on the Cross at the sixth hour. The other is that by virtue of His Passion Christ brings us within the heavenly holies to the Father. But the fact that the bodies were burned outside the camp, as to our Head, signifies that Christ would suffer outside the gate; but as to us, who are the members, it signifies that Christ is immolated for those who are outside the camp of ceremonies of the Law and of the external senses.

Strengthen our hearts not with food, but with grace; for we cannot do otherwise, because we have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. That altar is the Cross of Christ, on which He was immolated; or Christ Himself in Whom and by Whom we offer our prayers. This is the golden altar spoken of in Rev. Of that altar, therefore, they have no right to eat, i.e., to receive the fruit of Christ’s passion and to be incorporated into Him as head, who serve the tabernacle of the ceremonies of the Law... For such persons received no profit: ‘He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement to himself’. But the body is called a tabernacle, because we dwell in it as in a war against enemies and it remains a short while: ‘The laying away of my tabernacle is at hand’. Therefore, it should not be served.

Christ and the saints prefigured: ...Whose blood was brought into the heavenly holies for the sin of the whole world, suffered by fire on the altar of the Cross, and was burned outside the camp, i.e., outside the common society of men, with the fire of charity, with fasts, prayers, and other works of mercy. For these the blood of Christ was efficaciously brought into the holies.

No lasting city: Hebrews 13:14
For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.  
Non enim habemus hic manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus. 
No lasting city: ...For our end is not in the things of the Law or in temporal things: ‘Our end is Christ unto the salvation of all who believe’. Therefore, we have not here a lasting city, but where Christ is. Therefore, let us go to Him: ‘If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God’; ‘Look upon Sion, the city of our solemnity’; ‘He looked for a city that has foundations; whose builder and maker is God’. They also seek a better city, i.e., the heavenly one. For we strive to be transferred to it as to our place and altar. Therefore, let us go to it.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hebrews 13:1-8

St Thomas Aquinas summarises the final chapter of Hebrews as follows:
Having instructed them how to bear with evil, the Apostle now tells them how to act in doing good. Hence, according to a Gloss he is beginning his moral instruction after commending and urging them to imitate him. in regard to this he does two things: first, he urges them to good; secondly, he prays for them (v. 20). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he shows them how to do good to their neighbor; secondly, to themselves (v. 4); thirdly, to prelates (v. 7).  He says, therefore: Thus, we have said that an immovable kingdom has been promised to us. If we would enter it, we must have charity...
Hebrews 13: 1-5
Let the charity of the brotherhood abide in you. And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.  Remember them that are in bands, as if you were bound with them; and them that labour, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have; for he hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.
Caritas fraternitatis maneat in vobis, et hospitalitatem nolite oblivisci: per hanc enim latuerunt quidam, angelis hospitio receptis. Mementote vinctorum, tamquam simul vincti: et laborantium, tamquam et ipsi in corpore morantes. Honorabile connubium in omnibus, et thorus immaculatus. Fornicatores enim, et adulteros judicabit Deus. Sint mores sine avaritia, contenti præsentibus: ipse enim dixit: Non te deseram, neque derelinquam: 

The importance of hospitality: ...He makes special mention of hospitality, because a person who receives travelers does three acts of charity at once, because he receives and feeds and gives them drink: ‘Using hospitality one towards another without murmuring’ (1 Pt 4:9). He gives the reason when he says, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, as in the case of Abraham and Lot (Gen. 18 & 19).

Those imprisoned for love of God: Remember them that are in prison, i.e., those who for the love of God were sent to prison. Remember them by visiting and redeeming, as though in prison with them: ‘I was in prison and you visited me’... But it particularly pertains to a work of mercy to regard another’s suffering as one’s own.

Those that are ill-treated [labor] either with bodily labor: Remember, since you are also in the body, by which you have experienced what those who labor need: ‘Judge of the disposition of your neighbor by yourself'; ‘All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them’.

Sexual sins: ..sin in regard to sex occurs in two ways: in one way by the illicit union of one married person with another; as to this he says, Let marriage be held in honor among all who would not be continent: not fornication... In another way by violating the marriage bed, as when a husband approaches another man’s wife, or a woman another’s husband...for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

he forbids them to covet external goods: in regard to which one might sin in two ways: in one way by being niggardly; in another way by being covetous. For liberality is a virtue which inclines one to the happy medium between giving and retaining money.

Don't be anxious: do what lies in our power with trust in God’s help: for he has said: ‘I will not leave you, without giving you what you need; neither will I forsake you, lest you perish from hunger’; ‘I have not seen the just forsaken, not his seed seeking bread’. Or I will not forsake you without freeing you from evil. This causes confidence in the heart so that we can confidently say, ‘I will deal confidently and will not fear’.

Hebrews 13:6-8
So that we may confidently say: The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man shall do to me.  Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever. 
ita ut confidenter dicamus: Dominus mihi adjutor: non timebo quid faciat mihi homo. Mementote præpositorum vestrorum, qui vobis locuti sunt verbum Dei: quorum intuentes exitum conversationis, imitamini fidem. Jesus Christus heri, et hodie: ipse et in sæcula.

And what shall we say? The words of Ps. 117: ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me.’ He is a helper inasmuch as He delivers from evil: ‘A helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly’; therefore, I will not fear what man shall do to me, i.e., any carnal adversary: ‘Who are you to be afraid of a mortal man?’; or the devil who is called a man overcome by a man, as Scipio was called African, because he was defeated in Africa: ‘A hostile man has done this’.

Prelates: ...he shows how they should act in regard to their dead prelates, namely, follow their example; secondly, in regard to those living, namely, obey them...Remember your leaders [prelates], those who spoke to you the word of God, i.e., the apostles, who have preached to you: ‘Look unto Abraham, your father, and to Sarah that bore you’. But they not only preached by word, by showed what to do by action... But imitate not only the outcome of their life, so as to suffer patiently for Christ, but also their manner of life: for a good life leads to a good death: Whose faith follow and do not depart from it.

Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same forever: the Apostle says that Christ remains; hence, he says that we should serve Him. And so he says, Jesus Christ, yesterday, namely, in the time of the first apostles, and today, namely, in their time, and the same forever: ‘I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world’; ‘Says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’ (Rev. 1:8); ‘But you are always the selfsame, and your years shall not fail’. In these words he shows the eternity of Christ.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Hebrews 12:22-29 The city of God

Today's verses of Hebrews are, I think, its climax, in taking us to the City of God.  St Thomas Aquinas summarises this section as follows:
Then he mentions the conditions of the New Testament, saying: But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God. Here he shows the things proposed to us in it; and three things are promised to us, namely, the hope of future glory, participation in the Church, and familiarity with God.
Hebrews 12:22-23
But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, And to the church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, 
Sed accessistis ad Sion montem, et civitatem Dei viventis, Jerusalem cælestem, et multorum millium angelorum frequentiam, et ecclesiam primitivorum, qui conscripti sunt in cælis, et judicem omnium Deum, et spiritus justorum perfectorum, 

The joy of heaven: In heavenly glory there are two things which will particularly gladden the just, namely, the enjoyment of the godhead and companionship with the saints. For no good is joyfully possessed without companions, as Boethius says: and in Ps. 132: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together.’

The peace of divine contemplation: But enjoyment consists in two things, namely, in the intellect’s vision and in the will’s delight. For, as Augustine says: ‘We enjoy the things we know, in which the delighted will rests.’ Because of the vision he says, You have come to mount Zion, for Zion signifies the loftiness of divine contemplation: ‘Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnity’. The gladness and pleasure of the will is signified by the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the city of the living God: ‘Jerusalem, which is built as a city’ (Ps. 121); ‘Who has placed peace in your borders: and filled you with the fat of corn’ (Ps. 147); ‘That Jerusalem which is above is free’. Hence, there will be nothing further to be desired: ‘Since I am become in his presence as one finding peace’.

The company of the angels:...‘Their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven. That there are thousands is clear from Daniel: ‘Thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him’; ‘Is there any numbering of his soldiers?’; ‘And the number of them was thousands of thousands’.

The members of the Church: And to the assembly of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven: these are the members of the Church, which is called the house of God. The firstborn saints, who received the gifts of grace first and more abundantly, are the apostles, through whom it flows to others: ‘And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit’; ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’....

A judge who is God of all: he shows how they have attained familiarity with God: first, with God the Father, because you are come to a judge Who is God of all, i.e., God the Father, from Whom judicial authority proceeds. For it is from the Father that the Son has power to judge... Secondly, familiarity with the Holy Spirit when he says, and to the spirits of just men made perfect...For all justice and perfection is from the Holy Spirit...

Hebrews 12:24-29
And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.  See that you refuse him not that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon the earth, much more shall not we, that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven. Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more, and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also. And in that he saith, Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable. Therefore receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace; whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence.  For our God is a consuming fire.
et testamenti novi mediatorem Jesum, et sanguinis aspersionem melius loquentem quam Abel. Videte ne recusetis loquentem. Si enim illi non effugerunt, recusantes eum, qui super terram loquebatur: multo magis nos, qui de cælis loquentem nobis avertimus. Cujus vox movit terram tunc: nunc autem repromittit, dicens: Adhuc semel, et ego movebo non solum terram, sed et cælum. Quod autem, Adhuc semel, dicit: declarat mobilium translationem tamquam factorum, ut maneant ea quæ sunt immobilia.  Itaque regnum immobile suscipientes, habemus gratiam: per quam serviamus placentes Deo, cum metu et reverentia. Etenim Deus noster ignis consumens est.
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant: As if to say: You have come to Christ, Who is the mediator of that new pact in which spiritual things are promised to us... And the Apostle speaks according to the rite of the Old Law where, after the Law was given, the People were sprinkled with blood, which was a figure of Christ’s blood, by which the faithful were to be cleansed...For the shedding of Christ’s blood was prefigured in the shedding of the blood of all the just from the beginning of the world: Therefore, the shedding of Abel’s blood was a sign of that shedding. But Christ’s blood speaks better than Abel’s blood, which cries for vengeance, but Christ’s blood cried for pardon...

Listen: Beware of excusing yourselves from listening to him who is speaking to you. There was no escape for those others, who tried to excuse themselves when God uttered his warnings on earth; still less for us, if we turn away when he speaks from heaven. 26 His voice, even then, made the earth rock; now, he has announced to us that it shall happen again, only once; he will shake earth and heaven too. Only once again; that means that what is shaken, this created universe, will be removed; only the things which cannot be shaken are to stand firm. 28 The kingdom we have inherited is one which cannot be shaken; in gratitude for this, let us worship God as he would have us worship him, in awe and reverence; no doubt of it, our God is a consuming fire...

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken: ...after commending in many ways the grace and benefits conferred and to be conferred upon us by Christ, his main desire is to induce us to serve Him. he concludes that inasmuch as immovable things are promised in the New Testament, we should serve Christ Who promised them, in fear and reverence. And that is the principal conclusion.

Whereby let us serve: For natural reason dictates that we are obligated to show reverence and honor to anyone from whom we receive many favors; therefore, much more to God, Who has given us the greatest things and has promised us an infinitude of them. Hence, he says that by that grace, namely, given and to be given to us, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.

Outward and inward action: For it is not enough merely to serve God, which can be done by outward action; we must also please Him by a right intention and by love...But God is especially served by an inward service: ‘Let us serve him in holiness and justice’. Now by reason of creation God is called Lord, but by reason of regeneration, Father. But to a Lord fear is owed, and to a Father love and reverence: ‘The son honors the father, and the servant fears his lord. If I am your father, where is my honor; and if I am your Lord, where is my fear’. Therefore, the Lord should be served in fear and in reverence: ‘Serve the Lord in fear; and rejoice unto him with trembling’.

God is the fire that consumes sins: That we should serve God in that manner he proves by the authority of Deuteronomy (4:24): For our God is a consuming fire. When God is said to be a fire, it does not mean that He is something corporeal, but it is because intelligible things are designated by sense-perceptible things, among which fire has greater nobility and clarity; and greater activity; and a higher natural place; and is more cleansing and more consuming. Therefore, God is especially called fire on account of His clarity, because He inhabits light inaccessible, and because He is supremely active: ‘You have worked all our works in us’, and He is in a loftier place: ‘The Lord is high above all nations; and his glory above the heavens’. Furthermore, he cleanses and as it were, consumes sins; hence, he says that he is a consuming fire: ‘He is like a refining fire’; and he continues: ‘And he shall purify the sons of Levi’; ‘making purgation of sins’...

Sunday, 7 August 2016

September 8: Nativity of Our Lady

Nocturn I: Songs 1:1-16

Reading 1:  Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee. Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.

R. This day was the Blessed Virgin Mary born of the lineage of David.
* The same is she through whom the salvation of the world hath been manifested before the eyes of all believers. This is she whose glorious life hath given light to the world.
V. Let us keep with rejoicing the Birth-day of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. The same is she through whom the salvation of the world hath been manifested before the eyes of all believers. This is she whose glorious life hath given light to the world.

Reading 2:  I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept. Show me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.

R. Let us keep right heartily the Birthday of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
* That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.
V. Let us keep with right hearty rejoicing the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading 3: If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds. To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love. Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels. We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.

R. Let us tell again of the right worthy Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
* The same is she whose lowliness the Lord regarded, she who by the message of an Angel conceived the Saviour of the world.
V. Let us keep right earnestly the Birth-day of the most Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. The same is she whose lowliness the Lord regarded, she who by the message of an Angel conceived the Saviour of the world.

Reading 4: While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts. A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi. Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.

(responsory not available)

Nocturn II: Sermon of St Bernard (not available online)

Reading 5:

R. This day was born the glorious Virgin Mary, a child of the seed of Abraham, a daughter of the tribe of Judah, a Princess of the lineage of David.
* This is she whose famous life still sheddeth lustre upon all the Churches.
V. This day was the Blessed Virgin Mary born of the lineage of David.
R. This is she whose famous life still sheddeth lustre upon all the Churches.

Reading 6:

R. Let us keep with rejoicing the Birthday of the Blessed Mary,* That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.
V. With all our heart and with all our soul let us sing praise to Christ on this the solemn Feastday of Mary the mighty Mother of God.
R. That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading 7:

R. Thy Birth, O Virgin Mother of God, was a message of joy to the whole world;
* For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness, even Christ our God, Who hath taken away the curse and brought a blessing, confounded death, and given unto us everlasting life.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.
R. For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness, even Christ our God.

Reading 8:

Nocturn III (Homily of St Jerome)

Reading 9: In Isaiah we read: "Who shall declare His generation?" Let us not think that there is any contradiction between the Prophet and the Evangelist, because the Prophet saith that this thing cannot be done, and the Evangelist beginneth by doing it. The one speaketh of the generation of the Divine (Word by the Eternal Father,) the other of the (family in which the) Incarnation (took place.) Matthew beginneth with carnal things, that by learning of men we may go on to learn of God.

R. All generations shall call me blessed,
* For the Lord that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his Name.
V. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
R. For the Lord that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his Name.

Reading 10:"The Son of David, the son of Abraham." The reversal of the order in these clauses is a needful change. If Abraham had been put first and David afterwards, Abraham would have had to be taken again, in order to marshal the pedigree properly.

R. Blessed are thou, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise,
* For out of thee arose the Sun of Righteousness, even Christ our God.
V. Pray for the people, plead for the clergy, entreat for all women dedicated to God: let everyone that keepeth holy-day in honour of thy Birthday know the benefit of thine intercession.
R. For out of thee arose the Sun of Righteousness.

Reading 11: Matthew first calleth Christ the Son of these twain Abraham and David without making mention of the others, because unto these twain only was promise of Christ made unto Abraham, where it is said: "In thy seed" that is, in Christ "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,"and unto David, in the words "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne."

(responsory not available)

Reading 12: "And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar." It is to be remarked that in the genealogy of the Saviour none of the holy women are named, but those women only are named against whom the Scripture hath to say something amiss. He Who came to save sinners was born of sinners, that He might wash away all sin. Afterwards are named Ruth, who was a Moabitess, and Bathsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah.

(responsory not available)

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren.  And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon.  And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king.

And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa.  And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias.  And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon.

And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. [And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor.  And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud.  And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob.

 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  So all the generations, from Abraham to David, are fourteen generations. And from David to the transmigration of Babylon, are fourteen generations: and from the transmigration of Babylon to Christ are fourteen generations. Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.