Saturday, 25 February 2017

Quinquagesima Sunday

The Matins Readings in the Benedictine Office for Quinquagesima Sunday are set out below.

Nocturn I (Genesis 12)

Reading 1: And the Lord said to Abram: Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father' s house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed.  I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee, and IN THEE shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed:  So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him: Abram was seventy-five years old when he went forth from Haran.  And he took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother' s son, and all the substance which they had gathered, and the souls which they had gotten in Haran: and they went out to go into the land of Chanaan.

R. The Lord spake unto Abram, saying: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and go unto the land that I will show thee,
* And I will make of thee a great nation.
V. I will surely bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be blessed.
R. And I will make of thee a great nation.

Reading 2: And when they were come into it, Abram passed through the country into the place of Sichem, as far as the noble vale: now the Chanaanite was at that time in the land.  And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him: To thy seed will I give this land. And he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.  And passing on from thence to a mountain, that was on the east side of Bethel, he there pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east; he built there also an altar to the Lord, and called upon his name.

R. Abraham stood by the oak of Mamre, and he saw three men coming up by the path.
* He saw three, and worshipped One.
V. Behold, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac.
R. He saw three, and worshipped One.

Reading 3: And Abram went forward, going, and proceeding on to the south.  And there came a famine in the country; and Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there: for the famine was very grievous in the land.  And when he was near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife: I know that thou art a beautiful woman: And that when the Egyptians shall see thee, they will say: She is his wife: and they will kill me, and keep thee.

R. The Lord did tempt Abraham, and said unto him:* Take thy son Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
V. And when the Lord called him, he answered Behold, here I am. And the Lord said unto him:
R. Take thy son Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Reading 4: Say, therefore, I pray thee, that thou art my sister: that I may be well used for thee, and that my soul may live for thy sake.  And when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians saw the woman that she was very beautiful.  And the princes told Pharao, and praised her before him: and the woman was taken into the house of Pharao. And they used Abram well for her sake. And he had sheep and oxen, and he asses, and men servants and maid servants, and she asses, and camels.  But the Lord scourged Pharao and his house with most grievous stripes for Sarai, Abram' s wife. And Pharao called Abram, and said to him: What is this that thou hast done to me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?  For what cause didst thou say, she was thy sister, that I might take her to my wife? Now, therefore, there is thy wife, take her, and go thy way.



Nocturn II (St Ambrose)

Reading 5: Abraham was truly a great man, illustrious as an example of many virtues; one the like of whom the day-dreams of Philosophy have not been able to produce. That which she imagineth is less than that which he did; his simple truth and faith were something grander than her lying rounded periods. Let us then consider what this man's loyalty was.

R. The Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham and said:
* Lay not thine hand upon the lad; for now I know that thou fearest God.
V. And Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his son; and, behold, the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said:
R. Lay not thy hand upon the lad; for now I know that thou fearest God.

Reading 6: For that virtue is first to be taken which was the source of all the others, and thus this was the first which God called for from him, when He said: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house. It would have been enough to have said, Get thee out of thy country, for there were his kindred, and there his father's house.But He gave the details of his sacrifice one by one, that He might see whether he loved Him, lest also he should begin rashly, or should seek to evade the heavenly commandment.

R. The Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,* And said: I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.
V. Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
R. And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.

Reading 7: But as the whole of the precept was plainly set forth, lest anything should be unconsidered, so also were the rewards set forth, lest the burden should seem hopeless. He was tried as one that is strong, he was roused as one that is true, he was called as one that is righteous; and he departed loyally as the Lord had spoken unto him. And Lot went forth with him. That saying of the Seven Wise Men of Greece is much spoken of Follow God. But this did Abraham before the Seven Wise Men were thought of; he followed God, and went out of his own land.

R. O God of my master Abraham, prosper my way which I go;* That I may return again in safety unto the house of my master.
V. O Lord, I pray thee, be merciful unto thy servant.
R. That I may return again in safety unto the house of my master.

Reading 8: But, forasmuch as Abraham had before had another country, namely, the land of the Chaldees, whence went forth Terah the father of Abraham, and came unto Haran, and forasmuch as he to whom it had been said, Get thee out from thy kindred, took Lot, his brother's son, with him, let us consider whether this Get thee out of thy country signifieth not get thee out of this earthly dwelling, namely, our body, from which Paul came forth, who said, Our conversation is in heaven.

Nocturn III (St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: Our Redeemer, foreseeing that the minds of His disciples would be troubled by His suffering, told them long before both of the pains of that suffering, and of the glory of His rising again, to the end that, when they should see Him die as He had prophesied, they might not doubt that He was likewise to rise again. But, since His disciples were yet carnal, and could not receive the words telling of this mystery, He wrought a miracle before them. A blind man received his sight before their eyes, that if they could not receive heavenly things by words, they might be persuaded of heavenly things by deeds.

R. I came this day unto the well, and I besought the Lord, and said: * O Lord God of Abraham, Thou hast prospered my way.
V. Therefore the virgin to whom I shall say: Give me water of thy pitcher to drink; and she shall say to me: Drink, my lord, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son.
R. O Lord God of Abraham, Thou hast prospered my way.

Reading 10: But, dearly beloved brethren, we must so take the miracles of our Lord and Saviour, as believing both that they were actually wrought, and that they have some mystic interpretation for our instruction. For in His works, power speaketh one thing and mystery again another. Behold here, for instance. We know not historically who this blind man was, but we do know of what he was mystically the figure.

R. The word of the Lord came unto Abram, saying:* Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
V. For I am the Lord thy God That brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees.
R. Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Reading 11: Mankind is blind, driven out from Eden in the persons of his first parents, knowing not the light of heaven, and suffering the darkness of condemnation. But, nevertheless, through the coming of his Redeemer, he is enlightened, so that now he seeth by hope already the gladness of inward light, and walketh by good works in the path of life.One must note that as Jesus drew to Jericho a blind man received his sight. Now, this name Jericho, being interpreted, signifieth the city of the moon and in Holy Scripture the moon is used as a figure of our imperfect flesh, of whose gradual corruption her monthly waning is a type.

R:  Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice * And therefore he became the friend of God
V: He was also righteous in the sight of the Lord, and walked in his ways
R: And therefore he became the friend of God

Reading 12: As, therefore, our Maker draweth nigh to Jericho, a blind man receiveth his sight. While the Godhead taketh. into itself our weak manhood, man receiveth again the light which he had lost. By God's suffering in the Manhood, man is raised up toward God. This blind man is also well described as sitting by the wayside begging, for the Truth saith: “I am the Way.”

R. As the Lord passed by, a certain blind man sat by the way-side, and cried unto Him. And the Lord asked him, saying:* What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? * Lord, that I may receive my sight.
V. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him; and when he was come near, He asked him, saying:
R. What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Lord, that I may receive my sight.

Gospel: St Luke 18:31-43

Then Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of man.  For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon:  And after they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.  And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said.  Now it came to pass, when he drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the way side, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant.  And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  And he cried out, saying: Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.  And they that went before, rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me.  And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto him. And when he was come near, he asked him, Saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see.  And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight: thy faith hath made thee whole.  And immediately he saw, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Matins readings for the Feast of St Matthias


Nocturn I: Acts 1:15-26

[Psalms 18, 33, 44, 46, 60, 63]

Reading 1: 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.

R. Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, said the Lord:* Be ye, therefore, wise as serpents and simple as doves.
V. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.
R. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.

Reading 2: 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. Take up my yoke upon you, said the Lord, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart.* For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
V. And you shall find rest to your souls.
R. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Reading 3: 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.

R. But when they shall deliver you up to the judges, take no thought how or what to speak: * for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak:
V. For it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
R. For it shall be given you in that hour what to speak.

Reading 4:  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. They were found without blemish before the Lord, and from each other they were not divided. * They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.
V. They gave up their flesh to torment for God's sake; now they are crowned and receive palms.
R. They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
R. They drank the chalice of the Lord, and were made friends of God.

Nocturn II: St Augustine on Psalm 86

[Psalms 74, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100]

Reading 5: From the expoisition on the psalms of St Augustine - Her foundation is in the holy mountains the Lord loveth the gates of Zion. Wherefore hath the city twelve foundations, and in them the names of the Prophets and of the Apostles of the Lamb? Because their authority is the foundation whereon our weakness resteth. Wherefore are they the gates? Because through them we enter in unto the kingdom of God, since they have preached the same unto us, and when we enter in through their preaching, we enter in by Christ, Who is Himself The Door. And, whereas it is written that the city hath twelve gates, and, again, that Christ is the one Door, Christ is all the twelve, for He is in all the twelve and therefore were twelve Apostles chosen.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spoke unto me, saying:* These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.
V. I saw a strong Angel of God fly into the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice:
R. These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.

Reading 6: There lieth a great mystery in the signification of this number twelve: Ye shall sit, said the Lord upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. If then there be set there twelve thrones of judgment, Paul, in that he is the thirteenth Apostle, hath not where to sit, nor wherein to judge. Nevertheless, he hath said of himself that he will judge not men only, but angels. Know ye not, saith he, that we shall judge angels?, that is, the fallen angels. Then might they have answered him: Wherefore boastest thou thyself to be a judge? For where is thy seat? The Lord hath said that for the twelve Apostles there shall be twelve thrones one of the twelve, even Judas, is indeed fallen, but holy Matthias is chosen into his place; for the twelve thrones there are still twelve to sit thereon first find whereon thou shalt sit, and afterward give thyself out for a judge.

R. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake; * Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
V. When men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
R. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Reading 7: Let us see, then, what is the meaning of these twelve thrones. By them is signified in a mystery the whole world, since the Church shall be through all the earth, whence this building is called to be built up together in Christ. Therefore is it said that there shall be twelve thrones, because from all quarters shall there come men to be judged; even as it is said that the city hath twelve gates, because from all quarters shall the nations of them which are saved, enter into it.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward. * And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Reading 8: So, not the twelve only, and the Apostle Paul, but all, as many as shall judge, have part in these twelve thrones, this signifying, that they shall judge all men; even as all that enter into the city, have part in her twelve gates. For there are four quarters of the world, the East, and the West, and the North, and the South of which four quarters is mention often made in the Scriptures. From the four winds shall the elect be gathered together, as saith the Lord in the Gospel: And He shall send His Angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. From the four winds, therefore, is the Church called together; and how are they called? Everywhere are they called in the Trinity; for they are called no otherwise than by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now four being multiplied by three is twelve.

R. Thou shalt make them princes in all the lands, they shall remember Thy name O Lord * Throughout all generations
V. Exceedingly honoured are they friends O God, firmly established is their princedom.
R. Throughout all generations
V. Glory be...
R Throughout all generations

Nocturn III: St Augustine Homily 69

[Canticles: Isaiah 61:6-9; Wisdom 3:7-9; Wisdom 10: 17-21]

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to Matthew - At that time, Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones. And so on.

Come unto Me, all ye that labour! And wherefore labour we all, but because we are frail, sickly, dying creatures, burdened with earthen vessels which distress us? But if these fleshly vessels be distressful, let the open expanse of love be free and wide. Come unto Me, all ye that labour! and why? That we may labour no more. His promise is an instant promise, for He calleth such as are labouring. Perchance they will ask Him what shall be their reward? And I, saith He, will give you rest.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood; * They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

Reading 10: Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me not how to make the world, not how to create all things visible and invisible, not to work wonders in the earth, nor to raise the dead but for I am meek and lowly in heart.  Wilt thou be great? Begin by being little. Dost thou think to raise up a lofty building? Then lay the foundations thereof in lowliness.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood; * They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

Reading 11: The greater soever, and the more mass, be that which any man thinketh to build, so much the deeper doth he dig his foundation. And when the house is built, it towereth heavenward; but he which layeth the foundation goeth down into the earth. The building, therefore, is low before it is high, and, after it is low, it riseth high to the roof.

R. Who are these that fly like a cloud * And as the doves to their windows?
V. Their sound has gone out into all lands and their words unto the ends of the earth.
R.  And as the doves...

Reading 12: What is the roof of the house on which we labour? Whither do its spires rise? I answer you at once; to the presence of God. You see how high it is, yea, what it is to see God. He that will, understandeth what I say, and he heareth. What is promised you is to see God, God, the True, God, the Supreme. Blessed is he who seeth Him by Whom he is seen. Such as worship false gods see them easily, but they see them who have eyes and see not. But unto us it is promised that we shall see that God Who liveth and seeth.

R.  There is neither speech, nor language, but their voices are heard among them.  * Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.
V. Exceedingly honoured are thy friends, O God; firmly established is their princedom.
R. Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.
V Glory be...
R. Their sound is gone out unto the ends of the earth.

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him. Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.