Saturday, 25 March 2017

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Matins readings for the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I (Exodus 3:1-15)

Reading 1: Now Moses fed the sheep of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Madian: and he drove the flock to the inner parts of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, Horeb.  And the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. And Moses said: I will go and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.  And when the Lord saw that he went forward to see, he called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said: Moses, Moses. And he answered: Here I am.  And he said: Come not nigh hither, put off the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. And he said: I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face: for he durst not look at God.

R. The Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Go down now into Egypt, and say unto Pharaoh * Let My people go. And the heart of Pharaoh shall be hardened, that he will not let My people go but by a mighty hand.
V. The cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me, and I have seen their affliction come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, and thou shalt say unto him
R. Let My people go. And the heart of Pharaoh shall be hardened, that he will not let My people go but by a mighty hand.

Reading 2: And the Lord said to him: I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of the rigour of them that are over the works:  And knowing their sorrow, I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land into a good and spacious land, into a land that floweth with milk and honey, to the places of the Chanaanite, and Hethite, and Amorrhite, and Pherezite, and Hevite, and Jebusite.

R. Moses stood before Pharaoh, and said Thus saith the Lord * Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.
V. The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying
R. Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.

Reading 3: For the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have seen their affliction, wherewith they are oppressed by the Egyptians.  But come, and I will send thee to Pharao, that thou mayst bring forth my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said to God: Who am I that I should go to Pharao, and should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?  And he said to him: I will be with thee: and this thou shalt have for a sign, that I have sent thee: When thou shalt have brought my people out of Egypt, thou shalt offer sacrifice to God upon this mountain.

R. Let us sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. * The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation.
V. The Lord is a man of war; Almighty is His Name.
R. The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation.

Reading 4: Moses said to God: Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them: The God of your fathers hath sent me to you. If they should say to me: What is his name? what shall I say to them?  God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you.  And God said again to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

R. Hear, O Israel, the law of the Lord, and write it in thine heart as in a book * And I will give unto thee a land flowing with milk and honey.
V. Take heed therefore, and hearken unto My voice and I will be an enemy unto thine enemies.
R. And I will give unto thee a land flowing with milk and honey.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R And I will give unto thee a land flowing with milk and honey.

Nocturn II:Sermons of St Basil the Great, 1st on Fasting.

Reading 5: We know that it was with and by fasting that Moses went up into the Mount, for he had not dared to go up to that smoking summit, nor to have entered that darkness, except he had been made strong by a Fast. It was with fasting that he received the commandments, written by the finger of God upon tables of stone. Upon the mountain, that Fast made interest with Him Whose law was given unto it; but, below, gluttony was leading the people to the worship of idols and polluting them. It is written The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. That one fit of drunken frenzy, on the part of the people, made void and of none effect all the toil and patience of the forty days, during the which the servant of God had fasted and prayed unceasingly.

R. Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in the great waters. * Thou leddest thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
V. Thou broughtest them through the Red Sea, and leddest them through much water.
R. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Reading 6: To the Fast had been given those tables of stone written on with the finger of God; the Feast's work was to break them, by the hand of the most holy prophet, who deemed a nation of drunkards a nation unmeet to receive law from God. In a moment of time, that people, who had by great wonders been taught to worship God, were, by gluttony, dropped back into the cesspool of Egyptian idolatry. The which things if thou wilt consider, thou shalt see that the tendency of fasting is to God-ward, and that that of feasting is to hell-ward.

R. O Lord, Thou hast overwhelmed in the deep of the sea them which persecuted thy people * Even thy people which Thou leddest in the pillar of the cloud.
V. Thou leddest thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
R. Even thy people, which Thou leddest in the pillar of the cloud.

Reading 7: What was it that degraded Esau, and made him a slave to his brother? Was it not that one dish of pottage for which he sold his birthright?  Was it not prayer when joined to fasting that gave Samuel to his mother? What made the mighty Samson invincible? Was it not the fast during the which he was conceived in his mother's womb? The fast it was which made him to be conceived; the fast, which fed him; the fast, which made a man of him, even as the Angel of the Lord commanded his mother, saying She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink.  Fasting is the mother of prophets, the strength and stay of mighty men.

R. Moses, the servant of God, fasted forty days and forty nights * To make him meet to receive the Law of God.
V. Moses went up unto the Lord on Mount Sinai, and he was in the Mount forty days and forty nights.
R. To make him meet to receive the Law of God.

Reading 8: It is fasting which giveth wisdom to lawgivers; fasting which is the trustiest keeper of the soul, and the safest companion for the body. It is fasting which is strength and armour to mighty men; fasting which maketh supple them which run and which wrestle. It is fasting which maketh a man strong to strive against temptation, and which is to godliness as a fenced city; even fasting, whose fellow is soberness, and her work temperance. It is fasting which maketh men to wax valiant in fight; fasting which teacheth to rest in time of peace. Fasting maketh a Nazarite to be holy, and a priest perfect. Without a fast it is unlawful to touch the Sacrifice, not only in that mystic and true worship of God which now is, but also according to the law, in those sacrifices which were offered of old time as figures of the true. It was fasting which opened the eyes of Elias to look upon the visions of God, even as it is written, that when he had fasted forty days and forty nights he was in the mount of God, even Horeb, and he was made able, so far as man may be made able, to see God.  Even so also was Moses in that Mount forty days and forty nights, fasting, at what time he again received the Law. Unless the Ninevites had fasted, both man and beast, herd and flock, they had not escaped from the ruin that hung over them. In the wilderness fell some and who were they? Yea, they were such as lusted after flesh meat.

R. When ye be gone over Jordan, there shall ye build an altar unto the Lord * Of whole stones; ye shall not lift up any iron tool upon them; and ye shall offer burnt-offerings thereon, and peace-offerings, unto your God.
V. When ye shall pass over (Jordan) unto the land which the Lord giveth you, there shall ye build an altar unto the Lord.
R. Of whole stones; ye shall not lift up any iron tool upon them; and ye shall offer burnt-offerings thereon, and peace-offerings, unto your God.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
V. Of whole stones; ye shall not lift up any iron tool upon them; and ye shall offer burnt-offerings thereon, and peace-offerings, unto your God.

Nocturn III

Reading 9: The miracles which our Lord Jesus Christ did were the very works of God, and they enlighten the mind of man by mean of things which are seen, that he may know more of God. God is Himself of such a Substance as eye cannot see, and the miracles, by the which He ruleth the whole world continually, and satisfieth the need of everything that He hath made, are by use become so common, that scarce any will vouchsafe to see that there are wonderful and amazing works of God in every grain of seed of grass. According to His mercy He kept some works to be done in their due season, but out of the common course and order of nature, that men might see them and be astonished, not because they are greater, but because they are rarer than those which they lightly esteem, since they see them day by day.

R. After that the Lord had looked upon him, the face of Moses shone. * And when the elders saw that his face shone, they marvelled and were sore afraid.
V. And when he came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in his hand, he wist not that his face shone, because that God had spoken with him.
R. And when the elders saw that his face shone, they marvelled and were sore afraid.

Reading 10: Or it is a greater miracle to govern the whole universe, than to satisfy five thousand men with five loaves of bread; and yet no man marvelleth at it. At the feeding of the five thousand, men marvel, not because it is a greater miracle than the other, but because it is rarer. For Who is He Who now feedeth the whole world, but He Who, from a little grain that is sown, maketh the fulness of the harvest?

R. Behold, I send My Angel before thee, to keep thee. * Beware, and obey My voice; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries; for Mine Angel shall go before thee.
V. O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto Me, there shall no strange god be in thee, neither shalt thou worship any strange god for am the Lord.
R. Beware, and obey My voice; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries; for Mine Angel shall go before thee.

Reading 11: God worketh in both cases in one and the same manner. He Who of the sowing maketh to come the harvest, is He Who of the five barley loaves in His Hands made bread to feed five thousand men; for Christ's are the Hands which are able to do both the one and the other. He Who multiplieth the grains of corn multiplied the loaves, only not by committing them to the earth whereof He is the Maker.

R. Give ear, O My people, to My law * Incline your ears to the words of My mouth.
V. I will open My mouth in parables I will utter dark sayings of old.
R. Incline your ears to the words of My mouth.

Reading 12: This miracle, then, is brought to bear upon our bodies, that our souls may thereby be quickened; shown to our eyes, to give food to our understanding; that, through His works which we see, we may marvel at that God Whom we cannot see, and, being roused up to believe, and purified by believing, we may long to see Him, yea, may know by things which are seen Him Who is Unseen. Nor yet sufficeth it for us to see only this meaning in Christ's miracles. Let us ask of the miracles themselves what they have to tell us concerning Christ for, soothly, they have a tongue of their own, if only we will understand it. For, because Christ is the Word of God, therefore the work of the Word is a Word for us.

R. I, even I, the Lord, have led you forty years in the wilderness, and your clothes are not waxen old upon you.* I rained down manna upon you from heaven, and ye have forgotten Me, saith the Lord.
V. I led you forth out of the land of Egypt, and delivered you from the house of bondage.
R. I rained down manna upon you from heaven, and ye have forgotten Me, saith the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
V. I rained down manna upon you from heaven, and ye have forgotten Me, saith the Lord.

Gospel

The Gospel is St John 6:1-15:

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias.  And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased.  Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.  Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do.  Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.  One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him:  There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?  Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.  And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.  They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.  Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world.  Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.

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