Saturday, 17 September 2016

Matins readings for the Third Sunday in September

Nocturn I: Tobit 1:1-15

Reading 1: Tobias of the tribe and city of Nephtali, (which is in the upper parts of Galilee above Naasson, beyond the way that leadeth to the west, having on the right hand the city of Sephet,)
When he was made captive in the days of Salmanasar king of the Assyrians, even in his captivity, forsook not the way of truth, But every day gave all he could get to his brethren his fellow captives, that were of his kindred. And when he was younger than any of the tribe of Nephtali, yet did he no childish thing in his work.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.
* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 2: Moreover when all went to the golden calves which Jeroboam king of Israel had made, he alone fled the company of all, And went to Jerusalem to the temple of the Lord, and there adored the Lord God of Israel, offering faithfully all his firstfruits, and his tithes, So that in the third year he gave all his tithes to the proselytes, and strangers. These and such like things did he observe when but a boy according to the law of God.

R. In all seasons bless God, and ask of Him to order thy goings* And in all seasons let thy counsels be steadfastly in Him.
V. Seek faithfully and with all thy strength to do such things as please Him.
R. And in all seasons let thy counsels be steadfastly in Him.

Reading 3: But when he was a man, he took to wife Anna of his own tribe, and had a son by her, whom he called after his own name, And from his infancy he taught him to fear God, and to abstain from all sin. And when by the captivity he with his wife and his son and all his tribe was come to the city of Ninive, (When all ate of the meats of the Gentiles) he kept his soul and never was defiled with their meats.

R. My son, remember that we have but a frail life.* If thou fear God thou shalt have great goods.
V. Be mindful of Him, and beware lest ever thou transgress His commandments.
R. If thou fear God thou shalt have great goods.

Reading 4: And because he was mindful of the Lord with all his heart, God gave him favour in the sight of Salmanasar the king. And he gave him leave to go whithersoever he would, with liberty to do whatever he had a mind.  He therefore went to all that were in captivity, and gave them wholesome admonitions.

Nocturn II: Sermon 94 of St Leo

Reading 5: Well do I know, dearly beloved, that many of you are fervent in your observance of all those practices which belong to the Christian Faith, so that ye have no need to be admonished by our exhortations. For what tradition hath laid down, and custom well established, is neither unknown to the learned nor neglected by the devout. But because it appertaineth to the priestly office to exercise the same general care over all the Church's children in all such matters as be profitable alike to the learned and to the simple (both of whom are equally dear to us), we do now exhort the both of you to celebrate, with lively faith, and all due discipline of soul and body, the Quarterly Fast, which the seventh month [that is, September] doth once again bring to us in its yearly round.

R. Our poverty was enough for us, that it might have been accounted riches. O that the money had never been, for which thou hast sent away our son,
* The staff of our old age.
V. Alas my son, wherefore have we sent thee wandering, even thee, the light of our eyes
R. The staff of our old age.

Reading 6: The Ember Days of fasting are appointed to the four seasons, in order that their quarterly recurrence in the course of the year may teach us how unceasingly we need to be purified, and how, as long as we are tossed about by the changes and chances of this life, we need through fasting and alms-deeds to be cleansed from the stain of that sin which we have contracted by the frailty of our flesh and our concupiscence.

R. Bless the God of heaven, and confess Him before all living:* For He hath had mercy upon you.
V. Bless Him, and sing praises unto Him, and tell of all His marvellous works.
R. For He hath had mercy upon you.

Reading 7: Let us diminish a little, beloved, what we are accustomed to use for ourselves, in order that we have somewhat more to use for the relief of the poor and needy.The conscience of the generous can thus be made glad by the fruits of their own liberality. Whilst thou art giving happiness thou shalt receive joy. Thy love for thy neighbour is a unity with thy love for God; and he hath taught us that in the unity of this twofold charity is to be found the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets. Further, if anyone doubt that what is given to man is offered to God, we have the saying of our Lord and Saviour, when he spake of feeding and helping the poor: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

R. It is time for me to return unto Him That sent me* But bless ye God, and tell of all His marvellous works.
V. Confess Him before all living, for He hath had mercy upon you.
R. But bless ye God, and tell of all His marvellous works.

Reading 8: Wherefore, let us fast on Ember Wednesday and Friday; and on Ember Saturday let us also keep vigil at the shrine of blessed Peter the Apostle; by whose merits and prayers we believe that we shall be aided, so that we may please our merciful God in our fasting and prayer.

Matins readings for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Nocturn III and Gospel)


Nocturn III: Homily of St Maximus, Sermon 108

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time Jesus entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And so on.

This day's reading hath shown us an instance of how Christ, in those things which He did as Man, worked deep works of God, and by things which were seen wrought things which were not seen. The Evangelist saith Jesus " entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His Own city." Was not This He Who had once parted the waves hither and thither, and made the dry ground appear at the bottom of the sea, so that His people Israel passed dry-shod between masses of water standing still, as through an hollow glen in a mountain.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 10: Was not This He Who made the depths of the sea solid under the feet of Peter, so that the watery path offered a firm way for human footsteps.Therefore then denied He unto Himself a like service from the sea, but crossed over that narrow lake at the cost of a voyage on shipboard " He entered into a ship, and passed over."

Reading 11: What wonder, my brethren Christ came to take our weakness upon Him, that He might n make us partakers of His strength to seek the things of men, that He might give to men the things of God to receive insults, that He might bestow honours to bear weariness, that He might grant rest for the physician that is himself beset by no frailties, knoweth not how to treat the frailties of others, nor he that is not weak with the weak, how to make the weak strong.

Reading 12:Therefore, if Christ had abode still in His strength, He had in no wise been a fellow of men if in Him Flesh had not run the way of flesh, then had it been idle for Him to have taken Flesh at all. " He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His Own city." The Lord, the Maker of the world, and of all things that are therein, having been pleased for our sakes to prison Himself in our flesh, began to have an human home, and to be a citizen of a Jewish city Himself the Father of all, to have parents and all, that His love might invite, His charity draw, His tenderness bind, His gentleness persuade them whom His Kingship had scared, His awfulness scattered, and His power terrified out of His dominion.

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.


R. The whole earth is full of His glory.





Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8

AND entering into a boat, he passed over the water and came into his own city. And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth.  And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?  But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Exaltation of Holy Cross



Nocturn I: Numbers 21:1-9

Reading 1: And when king Arad the Chanaanite, who dwelt towards the south, had heard this, to wit, that Israel was come by the way of the spies, he fought against them, and overcoming them carried off their spoils. But Israel binding himself by vow to the Lord, said: It thou wilt deliver this people into my hand, I will utterly destroy their cities.

R. Lo the Church, with solemn gladness, hails the day for ever glorious, when the opening earth revealeth that dread tree of mystic triumph.* On whose boughs her dying Saviour shattered death and crushed the serpent.
V. He the Word of God eternal, on those stately branches hanging, hath for us a new way opened.
R. On whose boughs her dying Saviour shattered death and crushed the serpent.

Reading 2: And the Lord heard the prayers of Israel, and delivered up the Chanaanite, and they cut them off and destroyed their cities: and they called the name of that place Horma, that is to say, Anathema. And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom.

R. Faithful Cross, above all other, one and only noble tree None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit thy peers may be* Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
V. Thou art higher than all cedars.
R. Sweetest wood, and sweetest iron, Sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Reading 3: And the people began to be weary of their journey and labour: And speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food. Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents.

R. This is that noble tree, planted in the midst of the garden* Whereon the Author of our salvation did by His Own death openly triumph over the death of all men.
V. Even the Cross, whereof the glory is so excellent, and which the Emperor Heraclius did so eagerly rescue.
R. Whereon the Author of our salvation did by His Own death openly triumph over the death of all men.

Reading 4: The serpents bit them and killed many of them. Upon which they came to Moses, and said: We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.

(responsory not available online)

Nocturn II

Reading 5: Chosroes of Persia, having, in the last days of the reign of the Emperor Phocas, overrun Egypt and Africa, in 614, took Jerusalem, where he slaughtered thousands of Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of the Lord, which Helen had put upon Mount Calvary. Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, moved by the thought of the hardships and horrid outrages of war, sought for peace, but Chosroes, drunken with conquest, would not allow of it even upon unfair terms. Heraclius therefore, being set in this uttermost strait, earnestly sought help from God by constant fasting and prayer, and through His good inspiration gathered an army, joined battle with the enemy, and prevailed against three of Chosroes' chief captains, and three armies.

R. But us it behoveth to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection * Who hath saved us and redeemed us.
V. O Lord, we worship thy Cross, and make memorial of thy glorious passion.
R. Who hath saved us and redeemed us.

Reading 6: Chosroes was broken by these defeats, and when in his flight, in 628, he was about crossing the Tigris, he proclaimed his son Medarses partner in his kingdom. Chosroes' eldest son Siroes took this slight to heart, and formed a plot to murder his father and brother, which plot he brought to effect soon after they had come home. Then he got the kingdom from Heraclius upon certain terms, whereof the first was that he should give back the Cross of the Lord Christ.

R. The Relique true from heaven revealed, hath now the Gospel's figure sealed
* As by the serpent Moses reared, so by the Cross the sick are healed.
V. When the dead touch the Cross they arise, and the wonderful works of God are made manifest.
R. As by the serpent Moses reared, so by the Cross the sick are healed.

Reading 7: The Cross therefore was received back after that it had been fourteen years in the power of the Persians, and (in 629) Heraclius came to Jerusalem and bore it with solemn pomp unto the Mount whereunto the Saviour had borne it.This event was marked by a famous miracle. Heraclius, who was adorned with gold and jewels, stayed perforce at the gateway which leadeth unto Mount Calvary, and the harder he strove to go forward, the harder he seemed to be held back, whereat both himself and all they that stood by were sore amazed.

R. This Sign of the Cross shall be in heaven, when the Lord cometh to judgment.* Then shall the secrets of our hearts be made manifest.
V. When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, and shall begin to judge the world by fire.
R. Then shall the secrets of our hearts be made manifest.

Reading 8:Then spake Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, saying: See, O Emperor, that it be not that in carrying the Cross attired in the guise of a Conqueror thou showest too little of the poverty and lowliness of Jesus Christ. Then Heraclius cast away his princely raiment and took off his shoes from his feet, and in the garb of a countryman easily finished his journey, and set up the Cross once more in the same place upon Calvary whence the Persians had carried it away. That the Cross had been put by Heraclius in the same place wherein it had first been planted by the Saviour caused the yearly Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to become the more famous thenceforward.


Nocturn III (Pope St Leo the Great)

Reading 9: Dearly beloved brethren, when we gaze upon Christ lifted up upon the Cross, the eyes of our mind see more than that which appeared before the wicked, unto whom it was said through Moses: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. They saw in the crucified Lord nothing but the work of their own wickedness, and they feared greatly, not with that faith which giveth earnest of life by justification, but with that whereby the evil conscience is tortured.

R. Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, Sweetest weight is hung on thee
* Thou alone wast counted worthy this world's ransom to uphold.
V. The sign of the Cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to judgment.
R. Thou alone wast counted worthy this world's ransom to uphold.

Reading 10: But our understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, and with pure and open hearts we see the glory of the Cross shining over heaven and earth, and discern by inward glance what the Lord meant when His Passion was nigh at hand, and He said Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto Me. How wonderful is the power of the Cross! O how unutterable is the glory of the Passion, wherein standeth the Lord's judgment - seat, and the judgment of this world, and the might of the Crucified! Lord! Thou hast drawn all things unto thee! Thou didst spread out thine Hands all the day unto an unbelieving and gainsaying people, but the world hath felt and owned thy Majesty! Lord!

R. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up
* That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
V. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
R. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Reading 11: Thou hast drawn all things unto thee! All the elements gave one wild cry of horror at the iniquity of the Jews the lights of the firmament were darkened, day turned into night, earth quaked with strange tremblings, and all God's work refused to serve the guilty. Lord! Thou hast drawn all things unto thee! The veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the Holy of Holies denied itself as a Sanctuary for the ministration of unworthy Priests, that the shadow might be changed for the substance, prophecy for realization, and the Law for the Gospel.

Reading 12: Lord! Thou hast drawn all things unto thee! That which was veiled under types and shadows in the one Jewish Temple, is hailed by the love of all peoples in full and open worship. There is now a higher order of Levites, a more honourable rank of elders, a Priesthood with an holier anointing. thy Cross is a well of blessings for all, and a cause of thanksgiving for all. Thereby for them that believe in thee, weakness is turned into strength, shame into glory, and death into life. The changing ordinance of divers carnal sacrifices is gone; the one oblation of thy Body and Blood fulfilleth them all. For Thou art the Very Paschal Lamb, Which takest away the sins of the world, and art in thyself all offerings finished. And even as Thou art the One Sacrifice Which taketh the place of all sacrifices, so may thy kingdom be one kingdom established over all peoples.

Gospel: St John 12: 31-36:

Sentence is now being passed on this world; now is the time when the prince of this world is to be cast out. Yes, if only I am lifted up from the earth, I will attract all men to myself.  (In saying this, he prophesied the death he was to die.The multitude answered him, We have been told, out of the law, that Christ is to remain undisturbed for ever; what dost thou mean by saying that the Son of Man must be lifted up? What Son of Man is this?  And Jesus said to them, The light is among you still, but only for a short time. Finish your journey while you still have the light, for fear darkness should overtake you; he who journeys in darkness cannot tell which way he is going.  While you still have the light, have faith in the light, that so you may become children of the light. So much Jesus told them, and then went away, and was lost to their view.