Thursday, 31 December 2015

Matins readings for the Octave of the Nativity (Jan 1)

The Readings for the Octave Day of the Nativity (aka Circumcision of Our Lord) in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn IRomans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17

Reading 1: What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh.  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God.

R. Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Which taketh away the sins of the world; behold Him of Whom I said unto you: He That cometh after me is preferred before me * Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
V. He that is of the earth speaketh of the earth; He That cometh from heaven is above all.
R. Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Reading 2: As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.

R. This day which is breaking is holy; O come, ye Gentiles, and worship the Lord.* For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
V. This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
R. For this day is much light come down unto us from heaven.
Reading 3: This blessedness then, doth it remain in the circumcision only, or in the uncircumcision also? For we say that unto Abraham faith was reputed to justice. How then was it reputed? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the justice of the faith, which he had, being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, being uncircumcised, that unto them also it may be reputed to justice: And might be the father of circumcision; not to them only, that are of the circumcision, but to them also that follow the steps of the faithful, that is in the uncircumcision of our father Abraham.

R. Blessed be He That cometh in the name of the Lord! God is the Lord Who hath showed us light.* Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
R. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 4: For not through the law was the promise to Abraham, or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world; but through the justice of faith. For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, the promise is made of no effect. For the law worketh wrath. For where there is no law, neither is there transgression. Therefore is it of faith, that according to grace the promise might be firm to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, As it is written: I have made thee a father of many nations, before God, whom he believed, who quickeneth the dead; and calleth those things that are not, as those that are.

Nocturn II: Sermon of St Leo (27 on the Nativity of Our Lord 7)

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, whosoever will keep truly and honour piously this day's festival, it is necessary for him neither to think falsely of the Lord's Incarnation, nor meanly of the Lord's Godhead. For as there is danger, on the one hand, of denying the truth of Christ's participation of our nature, so is there no less danger, on the other, of doing despite to the equality of His glory with the glory of the Father. Wherefore, when we draw near to understand the mystery of Christ's Birth, wherein He was born of the Virgin Mary, we must leave the clouds of earthly imagination behind and pierce the fog of human wisdom with the eye of enlightened faith.

R. Rejoice with me, all ye that love the Lord.* For while I was yet little I pleased the Most High, and from my womb have I brought forth God and man.
V. All generations shall call me blessed, for God hath regarded the lowliness of His hand-maiden.

R. For while I was yet little I pleased the Most High, and from my womb have I brought forth God and man.

Reading 6:The authority on which we believe is the authority of God Himself; the teaching which we follow is the teaching of God Himself. Wherefore whether we lend the ear of our mind to the testimony of the Law, or to the revelations of the Prophets, or to the full pealing of the Gospel trumpet, that is true, which John the Son of Thunder, uttered, when he was filled with the Holy Ghost, and said: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. The heart of the Virgin was fixed, when the Angel declared unto her the mystery of God, and she conceived, then did she receive in her pure womb Him That is fairer than the children of men.* And, she that is blessed for ever, brought forth for us God and man.
V. Soon rises, in that modest shrine, The Temple of the Lord Divine The stainless and unwedded one, Within her womb conceived the Son.
R. And, she that is blessed for ever, brought forth for us God and man.

Reading 7: The Same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. True also is his witness when he saith: The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father. The Person of the Son of God therefore remaineth unchanged and one, though He have two natures, keeping His own, and taking ours. He appeareth as man to be the restorer of men, but abideth all the while in His immutable Godhead. 

R. Blessed and worshipful art thou, O Virgin Mary; from thee, still maiden undefiled, the Saviour came a little Child.* He Whose glory filled the heavens lay in a manger.
V. O Lord, I have heard thy speech and was afraid; I considered thy works and trembled. O Thou That dwellest between the two living creatures!
R. He Whose glory filled the heavens lay in a manger.

Reading 8: That Godhead which He shareth with the Father was not a whit the less Almighty, nor did the form of a servant touch the form of God to derogate from it. The Most High and Everlasting Being, bending down for man's salvation, took the Manhood into His glory; He ceased not to be That which He is from everlasting. Hence we see the Only-begotten Son of God in one place confessing that the Father is greater than He, John xiv. 28, and in another declaring that He and the Father are One, x. 30. This is an evident proof of the distinction of His two natures, and the unity of His Person; for He is inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood, and yet equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and yet, though He be God and Man, He is not two, but One Christ.

Nocturn III: Homily of Ambrose (On Luke 2:55-57)

Reading 9: So the Child is circumcised. This is the Child of Whom it is said: Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. Made under the law to redeem them that were under the law.  To present Him to the Lord. 

In my Commentary on Isaiah I have already explained what is meant by being presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, and therefore I will not enter into the subject again. He that is circumcised in heart gaineth the protection of God, for the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous.  

R. O Mary, how holy and how spotless is thy virginity! I am too dull to praise thee* For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

Reading 10: We will see that as all the ceremonies of the old law were types of realities in the new, so the circumcision of the body signified the cleansing of the heart from the guilt of sin.But since the body and mind of man remain yet infected with a proneness' to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day is also a type of that complete cleansing from sin which we shall have at the resurrection. This ceremony was also performed in obedience to the commandment of God: Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord. These words were written with especial reference to the delivery of the Blessed Virgin. 

R. The Virgin-Mother that knew not a man, bore, but travailed not.* She fed the Saviour of the world, The King of Angel hosts above, Jesus, our Redeemer blest, From the fountain of her breast.
V. Soon rises in that modest shrine, The Temple of the Lord Divine; The stainless and unwedded one, Within her womb conceived the Son.
R. She fed the Saviour of the world, The King of Angel hosts above, Jesus, our Redeemer blest, From the fountain of her breast.

Reading 11: Truly He That opened her womb was holy, for He was altogether without spot, and we may gather that the law was written specially for Him from the words of the Angel: That Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.Among all that are born of women the Lord Jesus Christ stood alone in holiness. Fresh from His immaculate Birth, He felt no contagion from human corruption, and His heavenly Majesty drove it away. 

Reading 12: If we are to follow the letter and say that every male that openeth the womb is holy, how shall we explain that so many have been unrighteous? Was Ahab holy? Were the false prophets holy? Were they holy on whom Elijah justly called down fire from heaven? But He to Whom the sacred commandment of the law of God is mystically directed is the Holy One of Israel; Who also alone hath opened the secret womb of His holy Virgin-bride the Church, filling her with a sinless fruitfulness to give birth to Christian souls.

Gospel: St Luke 2:21

When eight days had passed, and the boy must be circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before ever he was conceived in the womb.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

St Paul's Letter to the Romans


Codex Alexandrinus

From January 1 the readings in the Office to turn to the letter of St Paul to the Romans, so I thought I'd provide a few short notes here to aid reading on it.

The Office, of course, only provides a few extracts from selected chapters; in a monastery the rest is traditionally read either over a meal and/or individually as lectio divina.

The basics

Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament, coming immediately after Acts, and is widely regarded as the most important of St Paul's letters.   It consists of sixteen chapters in total.

The epistle was probably written between 55 and 57 AD, and internal references suggest that it was written while St Paul resided in Corinth.  St Paul was planning to visit Rome, and the letter is in effect a self-recommendation in preparation for that visit by way of doctrine.

Theologically the letter is very dense, and dealing with justification as it does, has spawned many heresies.  Accordingly, it is a good idea to read it with the help of a sound commentary.  Some useful online resources include:


Structure

The following outline is a shortened version of that provided in Fr Kenneth Baker's Inside the Bible:

I Introduction 1:1-18

II There is no salvation apart from Christ 1:18-3:20

III Salvation found only in Christ 3:21-4:25

IV Salvation described and defined 5:1-8:39
Doctrine - Judaism

V Jew and Gentile in God’s plan 9:1-11:36
Practice

VI Moral demands of God’s justice 12:1-15:13

VII Final words and greetings 14:13-16:27

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Gospel of St Matthew: Index of posts

For those interested in reading each of the Gospels over a quarter of the year, I've previously posted notes on this blog aimed at allowing you to tackle one section a day for each of the Gospels, with breaks for Sundays and major feasts.

This post provides links to all of my posts of lectio notes/Matins readings on the Gospel of St Matthew.  I've noted where the texts are used in the EF/traditional Benedictine Mass cycle/Commons of Saints).

Resources on St Matthew


There are a number of Patristic commentaries (or fragments thereof) on St Matthew available online:

St John Chrysostom
St Augustine (Sermon the Mount)
St Augustine (Harmony of the Gospels)
Origen
Chromatius of Aquileia
St Gregory Thaumaturgus on Mt 6
St Thomas Catena Aurea

Later commentaries:

St Thomas Aquinas
Cornelius de Lapide
Haydock
Divine Lamp links list

Posts


Why do lectio: Chrysostom on St Matthew

St Matthew chapter 1

1:1-17
1:18-25 (Vigil of Christmas: 18-21)

St Matthew chapter 2

2:1-12 (Epiphany; Christmas Day post-communion)

2:1-3
2:4-6
2:7-12

2:13-23 (Holy Innocents: 2:13-18; Second Sunday after the Nativity: 2:19-23)

St Matthew chapter 3

3:1-12
3:13-17

St Matthew chapter 4

4: 1-11  First Sunday of Lent (4:1-11)
4:12-25

St Matthew chapter 5

Mt 5:13-19 (Common of a Doctor)
5:1-16 (Mt 5:1-12, Common of a Martyr)
5:17-32 (5th Sunday after Pentecost: 5:20-24)
5:33-48 (Friday after Ash Wednesday: 5:45-38; 6:1-4)

St Matthew chapter 6

6:1-18
6:16-21(Ash Wednesday)
6:19-34 (Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost: 6: 24-33)

St Matthew chapter 7

7:1-12
7:13-29  Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: 7:15-21

St Matthew chapter 8

8:1-17  Third Sunday after Epiphany: 1-13  Thursday after Ash Wednesday - Mt 8:5-15
8:13-34 (Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany - Mt 8:23-27)

St Matthew chapter 9

9:1-17 (Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost: 9:1-8)
9:18-38 (23rd Sunday after Pentecost)

St Matthew chapter 10

10:1-23
10:24-42 (Mt 10:26-32; Mt 10:34-42, Martyr not a bishop)

St Matthew chapter 11

11:1-19   Second Sunday of Advent - Mt 11:2-10
11:20-30

St Matthew chapter 12

12:1-21
12:22-37
12:38-50 (Ember Wednesday of Lent)

St Matthew chapter 13

13:1-23
13:24-33
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany: 13: 24-30
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany: 13:31-35
13:44-58 (Mt 13:44-52, virgin martyr)

St Matthew chapter 14

14:1-21
14:22-36

St Matthew chapter 15

15:1-20 Wednesday in the third week of Lent
15:21-39 (Thursday Lent I: 15:21-28)

St Matthew chapter 16

16:1-12
16:13-20 (Mt 16:13-19, Common for pope confessors)
16:21-28 (Mt 16:24-27, Martyr bishop)

 St Matthew chapter 17

Second Sunday of Lent: Mt 17:1-9 Ember Saturday in Lent: Mt 17:1-9
17:1-13
17:14-27

St Matthew chapter 18

18:1-14
18:15-20 (Tuesday in Wk III of Lent: 18:15-22)
18:21-35 (21st Sunday after Pentecost: 18:23-35)

St Matthew chapter 19

19:1-15 (Mt 19:3-12; Virgin martyr)
19:16-30
Mt 19:27-29 (Abbot)

St Matthew Chapter 20

Septuaginta Sunday: Mt 20:1-16
20:17-28 (Wednesday Wk II of Lent)
20:29-34

St Matthew chapter 21

21:1-9 (Palm Sunday)
21:10-17 (Tuesday wk I of Lent)
21:17-23
21:33-46 (Friday, wk II of Lent)

St Matthew chapter 22

22:1-14 (19th Sunday after Pentecost)
22:15-21 (22nd Sunday after Pentecost)
22:22-33
22:34-46 (17th Sunday after Pentecost)

St Matthew chapter 23

23:1-12 (Tuesday wk II of Lent)
23: 13-33
23:34-39 (Feast of St Stephen)
23:37-39

St Matthew chapter 24

24:1-14 (Mt 24:3-13, Several martyrs)
24:15-35 (Last Sunday after Pentecost)
24:32-35
24: 36-51
Mt 24:42-47 (Confessor bishop)

St Matthew chapter 25

25:1-13 (Common of Virgins)
25:14-30 (Mt 25:14-23, Confessor bishop)
25:31-46 (Monday in Lent I)

St Matthew chapter 26

26:1-75 (Palm Sunday)
26: 59-68

St Matthew chapter 27

27:1-66 (Palm Sunday)
27:62-65

St Matthew chapter 28

28:1-7 (Easter Vigil)
27:8-10
28:11-15
28:16-20 (Friday in Octave of Easter) (28:18-20; Trinity Sunday)

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Matins readings for Nativity to the Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord: Masterlist

As regular readers will have noticed, I've started putting together a complete list of Matins readings for the Benedictine Office (which include the Sunday Gospels for the Mass) each week.  I'll continue to do that until the list is complete, but I thought it might be helpful to try and consolidate the listings by season for future reference.  This post will accordingly be something of a work in progress.

Sources

Where they are available online, I'm providing the texts specified or a link thereto, based on the Monastic Breviary of 1962-63.  The English for most feasts is available in hardcopy in Liturgical Readings.  The Lessons of the Temporale Cycle and Principal Feasts of the Sanctoral  Cycle according to the Monastic Breviary, Grail Publicatins, 1941 (Reprint available).

Useful online sources for the English (and sometimes Latin) sources of the readings are:
New Advent (Bible and Fathers)
Divinum Officium (you may have to check the different version of Matins on offer there; in addition the readings are divided in accordance with the Roman Office, not the Benedictine)
Divine Light Blog

Readings for the traditional Benedictine Office, for the season are set out below.  Note that Sundays and other feasts will displace the readings set for the days some cases, so you will need to check against an Ordo).

Vigil of the Nativity

Nocturn I: Homily of St Jerome
Nocturn II: Chapter, Rom 1:4

Christmas Octave

Matins readings for the feast of the Nativity

Matins readings for Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

St Stephen (December 26)

Nocturn I: Acts 6:1-4, 5-6, 7-10 &7:54; 7: 55-60a
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Fulgentius on St Stephen
Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome on Matthew 4: 23, 34-36
Gospel: St Matthew 23: 34-39

Holy Innocents (December 28)

Nocturn I: Jeremiah 31:15-17; 18-19;20-21; 22-23
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Augustine (nb attributed to St Caesarius in breviary)
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Jerome
Gospel: St Matthew 2: 13-18

29 December (5th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Bede (I, 7 on the Nativity of Our Lord)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

(or Common of a Martyr for St Thomas Beckett)

30 December (6th day in Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Ambrose (on St Luke 2:53-54)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

31 December (7th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Leo (Sermon 26 on the Nativity of Our Lord, 6)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

1 January (Octave of the Nativity)

Nocturn I: Romans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Leo (27 on the Nativity of Our Lord 7)
Nocturn III: Homily of Ambrose (On Luke 2:55-57)
Gospel: St Luke 2:21

Gospel for Most Holy Name of Jesus (formerly Jan 2) (St Luke 2:21)

2 January 

Romans 5: 1-5; 6-9; 10-12

3 January

Romans 6:1-5; 6-11; 12-18

4 January

Romans 7:1-3; 4-6; 7-9

5 January

Romans 8:1-4; 5-9; 9-11

Epiphanytide

Feast of the Epiphany

Gospel for the feast of the Epiphany (Jan 6)

January 7

Romans 9:1-5; 6-10; 11-16

January 8

Romans 12:1-3;4-8;9-16

January 9

Romans 13:1-4; 4-7; 8-10

January 10

Romans 14:1-4; 5-8; 9-13

January 11

Romans 15:1-4; 5-11; 12-16

January 12

Romans 15:17-21; 30-33; 16: 17-19; 25-27

January 13

Gospel for the Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord (Jan 13)


Advent: Sunday Gospels and Matins Readings: Masterpost

As regular readers will have noticed, I've started putting together a complete list of Matins readings for the Benedictine Office (which include the Sunday Gospels for the Mass) each week.  I'll continue to do that until the list is complete, but I thought it might be helpful to try and consolidate the listings by season for future reference.

Sources

Where they are available online, I'm providing the texts specified or a link thereto, based on the Monastic Breviary of 1962-63.  The English for most feasts is available in hardcopy in Liturgical Readings.  The Lessons of the Temporale Cycle and Principal Feasts of the Sanctoral  Cycle according to the Monastic Breviary, Grail Publicatins, 1941 (Reprint available).

Useful online sources for the English (and sometimes Latin) sources of the readings are:
New Advent (Bible and Fathers)
Divinum Officium (you may have to check the different version of Matins on offer there; in addition the readings are divided in accordance with the Roman Office, not the Benedictine)
Divine Light Blog

Readings for the traditional Benedictine Office, for the season are set out below.  Note that Sundays and other feasts will displace the readings set for the days some cases, so you will need to check against an Ordo).

Advent 1

First Sunday of Advent (Gospel and Nocturn III readings)
Week 1 Matins readings list (Isaiah 1-7)

Advent 2

Second Sunday of Advent (Matins Readings+ Gospel)
Week 2 Matins readings list (Isaiah 11-25)

Advent 3

Third Sunday of Advent (Matins readings+Gospel)
Week 3 Matins readings list (Isaiah 28-33; St Luke)

Advent 4

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Matins readings and Gospel)
Readings for fourth week of Advent &Christmas

Matins readings for the first week of Christmas

Matins in the Benedictine Office this week are as follows:

Sunday 27 December (Sunday within the Octave) - see separate post 

Nocturn I: Acts 1:1-7, 8-10, 11-13, 14-19
Nocturn II: St Leon, Sermon 29 (on the Nativity 9, 1)
Nocturn III: Homily of St Ambrose on St Luke 2: 60-62
Gospel: St Luke 2:33-40

Monday 28 December (Holy Innocents)

Nocturn I: Jeremiah 31:15-17; 18-19;20-21; 22-23
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Augustine (nb attributed to St Caesarius in breviary)
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Jerome
Gospel: St Matthew 2: 13-18

Tuesday 29 December (5th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Bede (I, 7 on the Nativity of Our Lord)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

(or Common of a Martyr for St Thomas Beckett)

Wednesday 30 December (6th day in Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Ambrose (on St Luke 2:53-54)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

Thursday 31 December (7th day in the Octave)

Nocturn I: Homily of St Leo (Sermon 26 on the Nativity of Our Lord, 6)
Nocturn II (chapter): Isaiah 9:6

Friday 1 January (Octave of the Nativity)

Nocturn I: Romans 4 1-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-17
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Leo (27 on the Nativity of Our Lord 7)
Nocturn III: Homily of Ambrose (On Luke 2:55-57)
Gospel: St Luke 2:21

Saturday 2 January (Our Lady on Saturday)

Reading 1: Romans 5 1-5
Reading 2: Romans 5: 6-12
Reading 3: From the letter of St Ambrose to Pope Siricius (Letter 42, n4-5)

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Matins readings for the fourth week of Advent

Matins readings in the Benedictine Office for the fourth week of Advent are as follows:

Sunday - see separate post for texts of the readings

Nocturn I: Isaiah 35:1-4, 5-7, 8-10; 41: 1-4
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Leo the Great (no 12)
Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory (No 20 on the Evangelists, n7&8)
Gospel: St Luke 3:1-6

Monday

Isaiah 41:8-10, 11-13; 14-16]

Tuesday

Isaiah 42:1-4; 5-7; 10-13

Wednesday 

Isaiah 51:1-3, 4-6, 7-8

Thursday

Isaiah 64:1-4; 5-7; 8-11

Friday 

Isaiah 66:5-8; 9-12; 13-16


Matins readings for the feast of St Thomas

The Matins readings for the feast of St Thomas in the Benedictine Office are as follows:

Nocturn I (Common of Apostles) 

1 Corinthians 4:1-4, 5-7, 8-10, 11-15

Nocturn II

On the saint's life; Homily of St Gregory

Reading  5 - [NB: Shorter version from Roman Office] The Apostle Thomas, called Didymus, or the Twin, was a Galilean. After the descent of the Holy Ghost, he went into many provinces to preach Christ's Gospel. He gave knowledge of the rules of Christian faith and life to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, and Bactrians. He went last to the East Indies. Here he provoked the anger of one of the idolatrous kings, because the holiness of his life and teaching, and the number of his miracles, drew many after him, and brought them to the love of Christ Jesus. He was therefore condemned, and slain with lances. He crowned the dignity of the Apostleship with the glory of martyrdom, on the Coromandel coast, not far from Madras.

Reading  6 - (Sermon of St. Gregory, Sermon 30 on the Gospels): It is written: By His Spirit the Lord hath adorned the heavens. Now the ornament of the heavens are the godly powers of preachers, and this ornament, what it is, Paul teacheth us thus To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.

Reading 7 - So much power then as have preachers, so much ornament have the heavens. Wherefore again it is written By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.  For the Word of the Lord is the Son of the Father. But, to the end that all the Holy Trinity may be made manifest as the Maker of the heavens, that is, of the Apostles, it is straightway added touching God the Holy Ghost: you and all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth. Therefore the might of the same heavens is the might of the Spirit, for they had not braved the powers of this world, unless the strength of the Holy Ghost had comforted them.

Reading  8 - For we know what manner of men the Teachers of the Holy Church were before the coming of this Spirit and since He came we see in Whose strength they are made strong.


Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory (26)


Gospel: St John 20: 24-29

Thomas autem unus ex duodecim, qui dicitur Didymus, non erat cum eis quando venit Jesus. 25 Dixerunt ergo ei alii discipuli: Vidimus Dominum. Ille autem dixit eis: Nisi videro in manibus ejus fixuram clavorum, et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum, et mittam manum meam in latus ejus, non credam. 26 Et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli ejus intus, et Thomas cum eis. Venit Jesus januis clausis, et stetit in medio, et dixit: Pax vobis. 27 Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis. 28 Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus. 29 Dixit ei Jesus: Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt.

There was one of the twelve, Thomas, who is also called Didymus, who was not with them when Jesus came. 25 And when the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord, he said to them, Until I have seen the mark of the nails on his hands, until I have put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, you will never make me believe. 26 So, eight days afterwards, once more the disciples were within, and Thomas was with them; and the doors were locked. Jesus came and stood there in their midst; Peace be upon you, he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, Let me have thy finger; see, here are my hands. Let me have thy hand; put it into my side. Cease thy doubting, and believe. 28 Thomas answered, Thou art my Lord and my God. 29 And Jesus said to him, Thou hast learned to believe, Thomas, because thou hast seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have learned to believe.

Nocturn III

Reading 9 -
Reading 10 -
Reading 11 -
Reading 12 - 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Sunday readings for the Benedictine Office for the fourth Sunday of Advent are as follows:

Nocturn I

Reading 1 - Isaiah 35:1-4

The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily.  It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise: the glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you.

R. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, call together the nations, tell it out among the people, and say
* Behold, God our Saviour cometh.
V. Tell it out and make it to be heard; speak aloud and cry
R. Behold, God our Saviour cometh.

Reading 2 - Isaiah 35: 5-7

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwell before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush.

R. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the law-giver from his loins, until he that shall be sent cometh.* And unto him shall the longing of the Gentiles be.
V. His eyes shall be bright with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
R. And unto him shall the desire of the Gentiles be.

Reading 3 - Isaiah 35: 8-10

And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

R: He must become more and more, I must become less and less, he who comes after me but was made before me. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoes.
V: I am baptizing you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Ghost.
R: I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoes.

Reading 4 - Isaiah 41:1-4

Let the islands keep silence before me, and the nations take new strength: let them come near, and then speak, let us come near to judgment together. Who hath raised up the just one from the east, hath called him to follow him? he shall give the nations in his sight, and he shall rule over kings: he shall give them as the dust to his sword, as stubble driven by the wind, to his bow. He shall pursue them, he shall pass in peace, no path shall appear after his feet. Who hath wrought and done these things, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, I am the first and the last.

Nocturn II - (Sermon of St Leo the Great, Sermon 12)

Reading  5 - Dearly beloved brethren, if we study attentively the history of the creation of our race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, that his ways also might be an imitation of the ways of his Maker. This is the natural, real, and highest dignity to which we are capable of attaining, that the goodness of the Divine nature should have a reflection in us, as in a glass. As a mean of reaching this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the Second Adam can all men be raised up again.

R. Unto us shall a Child be born, and His name shall be called the Mighty God.
* He shall sit upon the throne of His father David, and shall reign, and the government shall be upon His shoulder.
V. In Him shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed; all nations shall serve Him.
R. He shall sit upon the throne of His father David, and shall reign, and the government shall be upon His shoulder.

Reading  6 - Our restoration from the consequences of Adam's fall is sheer mercy of God, and nothing else; we should not have loved Him unless He had first loved us, and scattered the darkness of our ignorance by the light of His truth. This the Lord promised by the mouth of Isaiah, where He saith: I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and I will lead them in paths that they have not known I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them. And again: I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me.

R. Behold, the fulness of the time is come, wherein God hath sent forth His Son into the world, born of a Virgin, made under the law* To redeem them that were under the law.
V. God, for His great love wherewith He loved us, hath sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.
R. To redeem them that were under the law

Reading  7 - And we know from the Apostle John how God fulfilled His promise. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him That is True, and be in Him That is True, even in His Son. And again: Let us therefore love God, because He first loved us. 

R. O virgin of Israel, turn again to thy cities.* How long wilt thou go about sorrowing? Thou shalt bring forth the Lord thy Saviour, a new offering in the earth; men shall walk in paths of salvation.
V. I have loved thee with an everlasting love therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
R. How long wilt thou go about sorrowing? Thou shalt bring forth the Lord thy Saviour, a new offering in the earth. Men shall walk in paths of salvation.

Reading  8 - For His great love then wherewith he hath loved us, God reneweth His likeness in us. And, moreover, in order that He may find in us the reflection of His goodness, He giveth us that whereby to work along with Himself, (Who worketh all in all,) lighting, as it were, candles in our dark minds, and kindling in us the fire of His love, to make us love not Himself only, but likewise, in Him, whatsoever He loveth.

Nocturn III (St Gregory, Homily 20 on the gospels)

Reading 9 - John said unto the multitude, that came forth to be baptised of him: O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? The wrath to come in one sense signifieth the great vengeance of the Latter Day the sinner that repenteth not of his sin now, will have no mean whereby to flee from punishment then. Let us remark that addressing evil children copying the example of evil parents, the Baptist calleth them a generation of vipers in that they were envious at the righteous, and persecuted them; that they repaid evil for evil; that they hunted out ways of harming their neighbours, in all these things following the pattern of carnal parents, the prophet likeneth them to a venomous brood hatched from a venomous stock.

R. I have sworn, saith the Lord, that I will not be wroth any more with the earth; for the mountains and the hills shall receive My righteousness.
* And the covenant of My peace shall be in Jerusalem.
V. My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.
R. And the covenant of My peace shall be in Jerusalem.

Reading 10 - We also have sinned, we have fallen into wicked habits. What must we do, if we would flee from the wrath to come? Let us hear John. Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. In which words let us remark that the Friend of the Bridegroom demandeth not only fruits of repentance, but fruits worthy of repentance. 

R. We will not go back from thee. Thou, O Lord, shalt quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
* Cause thy face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
V. Remember us, O Lord, with the favour that Thou showest unto thy people; O visit us with thy salvation.
R. Cause thy face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

Reading 11 - The former are one thing, and the latter another. In considering then what are fruits worthy of repentance, we may remark that if we had done nothing unlawful we might have had free use of things which are lawful, and been able to sanctify ourselves without abstaining from indulgence in the things of the world. But if any one, for example, hath fallen into fornication, or perhaps, into what is much worse, adultery, he ought to make up for his lawless pleasure by abstaining in some degree from lawful enjoyments. 

R. Consider how great this man is, who is entered in for the salvation of the nations; he is King of Righteousness* Without descent, nor end of life.
V. The Fore-runner is for us entered, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.
R. Without descent, nor end of life.

Reading 12 - He that hath sinned less is not bound to mortify himself as much as he that hath sinned more, nor he that is innocent like him that is guilty. Let every one hearing these words bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, proceed to judge himself by his own conscience, and the more he perceiveth that he hath sinned, the greater penance let him do.

R. Send forth the Lamb, O Lord, the Ruler of the land* From the rock in the wilderness unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
V. Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.
R. From the rock in the wilderness unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
V Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
V. Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.

Gospel

St Luke 3: 1-6

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Matins readings for the third week of Advent

Matins readings in the Benedictine Office for the third week of Advent are as follows:

Monday

Isaiah 28:1-3, 4-7a, 16-18a

Tuesday

Isaiah 30 18-20, 22b-25, 26-28

Wednesday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Ambrose (Gospel of the day: Luke 1:26-28)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And so on.

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

Reading 2: And the Angel came in unto her. Let us learn from this Virgin how to bear ourselves, let us learn her modesty, let us learn by her devout utterance, above all let us learn by the holy mystery enacted. It is the part of a maiden to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses. Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us. She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and she found herself alone with Angels. There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip and the Angel saluted her.

Reading 3: The message of God to the Virgin was a mystery, which it was not lawful for the mouth of men, but only of Angels, to utter. For the first time on earth the words are spoken: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. The holy maiden heareth, and believeth. At length she said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Here is an example of lowliness, here is a pattern of true devotion. At the very moment that she is told she is chosen to be the mother of the Lord, she at once declareth herself His handmaid. The knowledge that she was mother of God caused in the heart of Mary only an act of humility.

Thursday 

Isaiah 33 1-2, 3-6, 14-17

Friday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Ambrose (Gospel of the day: Luke 1:39-47)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In that time, Mary, rising up, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And so on.

When any one asketh another for credence, he is bound to give some reasonable ground. And so the Angel, when he announced to Mary the counsel of God, gave, as a proof, the conception of Elizabeth, then aged and barren, that Mary might perceive, by this example, that with God nothing is impossible. When the holy Virgin had heard it, she arose and went to visit her cousin. She did not go to see if what she had heard was true, because she did not believe God, or because she knew not who the messenger had been, or yet because she doubted the fact adduced in proof. She went joyfully as one who hath received a mercy in answer to his vow goeth to pay the same. She went with devotion, as a godly person goeth to execute a religious duty. She went into the hill country in joyful haste. And is it not something that she went up into the hills? God was already in her womb, and her feeling bore her continually upward. The grace of the Holy Spirit knoweth no slow working.

Reading 2: Godly women will learn from the example of the Mother of God to take a tender care of their kinswomen who are with child. In pursuance of this charity, Mary, who had hitherto remained alone at home, was not deterred by her maidenly shyness from entering on a public journey; she faced for this end the hardships of mountain travelling; and encountered with a sense of duty the weary length of the way. The Virgin left her home, and went into the hill country with haste, unmindful of the trouble, and remembering only the office to which her cousinly love prompted her, in spite of the delicacy of her sex. Maidens will learn from her not to idle about from house to house, to loiter in the streets, nor to take part in conversations in public. Mary, as she was hasteful to pass through the public roads, so was she slow again to enter on them she abode with her cousin about three months.

Reading 3: As the modesty of Mary is a pattern for the imitation of all maidens, so also is her humility. She went to see Elizabeth, like one cousin going to visit another, and as the younger to the elder. Not only did she first go, but she first saluted Elizabeth. Now, the purer a virgin is, the humbler ought she to be. She will know how to submit herself to her elders. She that professeth chastity ought to be a very mistress of humility. Lowly-mindedness is at once the very ground in which devotion groweth, and the first and principal rule of its teaching. In this act of the Virgin then we see the greater going to visit and to succour the lesser Mary to Elizabeth, Christ to John.

Saturday (Ember Day)

Homily of St Gregory (Gospel of the day: Luke 3:1-6)

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea. And so on.

The date, at which the Fore-runner of our Redeemer entered on his public office of preaching, is indicated to us by the name of the ruler of the Roman Commonwealth, and by those of the princes of Palestine. The time of his preaching is indicated by these names, because he came as the Fore-runner of Him Who was to be the Redeemer of some Jews and many Gentiles. Moreover in the enumeration of these worldly monarchs there is a foreshadowing of the fact, that the Gentiles were about to be gathered into one, and the Jews to be scattered abroad in punishment of their unbelief; in the whole heathen Commonwealth we find the title of one Emperor, but in the small kingdom of Judaea are mentioned four masters.

Reading 2 - The blessed voice of the Saviour itself hath said, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And we may well look for the ruin of the Jewish state when we see it divided among so many rulers. We observe likewise that the names of the reigning priests as well as kings are given. The Evangelist Luke hath left on record the chiefs both of the monarchy and of the priesthood who held office when John the Baptist began to preach, because John preached Him Who is at once our Priest and our King.

Reading 3 - And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It is evident from these words that John the Baptist not only preached, but also administered the baptism of repentance, and yet that baptism of repentance which he gave, was not really a baptism for the remission of sins. For there is only one baptism for the remission of sins, and that is our Christian baptism. It is worthy of note here that the words used are, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, for he himself owned that his baptism was not the true baptism that washes away sin. Even as the Eternal Word of God made Flesh was greater than the preacher that went before Him, so was His holy baptism, by which our sins are washed away, far greater than that baptism of repentance which the Fore-runner preached, and which could never wash away sin.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Matins readings for the Third Sunday of Advent

The Matins readings for the third Sunday of Advent in the traditional Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I

Reading 1: Isaiah 26:1-3
Reading 2: Isaiah 26: 4-6
Reading 3: Isaiah 26: 7 -10
Reading 4: Isaiah 26: 11-14

Nocturn II: Sermon 13 of St Leo the Great

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, with the care which becometh us as the shepherd of your souls, we urge upon you the rigid observance of this December Fast. The month of December hath come round again, and with it this devout custom of the Church. The fruits of the year, which is drawing to a close, are now all gathered in, and we most meetly offer our abstinence to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. 

Reading 6: And what can be more useful than fasting, that exercise by which we draw nigh to God, make a stand against the devil, and overcome the softer enticements of sin?  Fasting hath ever been the bread of strength. From abstinence proceed pure thoughts, reasonable desires, and healthy counsels. By voluntary mortifications the flesh dieth to lust, and the soul is renewed in might. 

Reading 7: But since fasting is not the only mean whereby we get health for our souls, let us add to our fasting works of mercy. Let us spend in good deeds what we take from indulgence. Let our fast become the banquet of the poor.  Let us defend the widow and serve the orphan; let us comfort the afflicted and reconcile the estranged; let us take in the wanderer and succour the oppressed; let us clothe the naked and cherish the sick. And may every one of us that shall offer to the God of all goodness this Advent sacrifice of fasting and alms be by Him fitted to receive an eternal reward in His heavenly kingdom! 

Reading 8: We fast on Wednesday and Friday; and there is likewise a Vigil on Saturday at the Church of St Peter, that by his good prayers we may the more effectually obtain what we ask for, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John (John 1:19-28): In that time were sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, the first thing which striketh us in to - day's Gospel is the lowly - mindedness of John. He was so great that it was thought he might be the Christ; yet he soberly chose rather to seem only what he really was, than to let the belief of men invest him with a dignity which did not belong to him; for he confessed, and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ, at the same time he would not deny what he was in reality; and thus his very truth - speaking made him a member of Him Whose title he would not by falsehood take. 

Reading 10: In that he arrogated not to himself the name of Christ, he became a member of Christ. While he humbly strove to confess his own weakness, he earned by his simplicity a part in the grandeur of his Master.  In considering this subject we find an apparent contradiction between one of John's statements, and the saying of our Redeemer recorded in another part of the Gospel.  When His disciples asked our Lord regarding the coming of Elias, He answered Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. And if ye will receive it, this that is, John is Elias.  

Reading 11: But when John was asked if he was Elias, he answered, I am not. How comes it then, dearly beloved brethren, that we find the Truth Itself asserting what the prophet of the Truth denied? It must evidently be that our Lord meant one thing and John another, when the Lord said, This is, and John, I am not. For how can he be the prophet of truth, if he speak not according to the word of Him Who is the Eternal Truth? Let us then more minutely examine these words, and we shall find that there is no real contradiction. 

Reading 12: When the Angel announced to Zacharias the coming birth of John he said He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias.  As the old Elias will come again before the Second Advent of the Lord, so did John, as the new Elias, go before the First Advent, in the spirit and power of Elias. As the old Elias will be the Fore-runner of the Judge, so the new Elias was the Fore-runner of the Saviour. John then was Elias in spirit, but not in person; and our Lord asserteth of the spirit what John denieth of the person.


Gospel: St John 1:19-28

19 Et hoc est testimonium Joannis, quando miserunt Judæi ab Jerosolymis sacerdotes et Levitas ad eum ut interrogarent eum: Tu quis es? 20 Et confessus est, et non negavit, et confessus est: Quia non sum ego Christus. 21 Et interrogaverunt eum: Quid ergo? Elias es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Propheta es tu? Et respondit: Non. 22 Dixerunt ergo ei: Quis es ut responsum demus his qui miserunt nos? quid dicis de teipso? 23 Ait: Ego vox clamantis in deserto: Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias propheta. 24 Et qui missi fuerant, erant ex pharisæis. 25 Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei: Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque propheta? 26 Respondit eis Joannes, dicens: Ego baptizo in aqua: medius autem vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. 27 Ipse est qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est: cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrigiam calceamenti. 28 Hæc in Bethania facta sunt trans Jordanem, ubi erat Joannes baptizans.

Douay-Rheims:

 [19] And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? [20] And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.[21] And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. [22] They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? [23] He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. [24] And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. [25] And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?[26] John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. [27] The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. [28] These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Matins readings for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Nocturn I:

Reading 1: Genesis 3 1-5
Reading 2: Genesis 3: 6-8
Reading 3: Genesis 3: 9-13;
Reading 4: Genesis 3:14-15

Nocturn II: (Letter of St Jerome to Paul and Eustochium on the Assumption of the BVM, n5-9; from the Acts of Pope Pius X)

Reading 5: Who and what was the blessed and glorious Mary, always a Virgin, hath been revealed by God by the message of an Angel, in these words, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou among women. It was fitting that a fulness of grace should be poured into that Virgin who hath given to God glory and to man a Saviour, who hath brought peace to earth, who hath given faith to the Gentiles, who hath killed sin, who hath given law to life, who hath made the crooked ways straight. Verily, she is full of grace. To others grace cometh measure by measure; in Mary grace dwelleth at once in all fulness. Verily, she is full of grace. We believe that the holy Fathers and Prophets had grace; but they were not full of grace. But into Mary came a fulness of all the grace which is in Christ, albeit otherwise (than as it is in Him.) Therefore is it said Blessed art thou among women, that is, Blessed art thou above all women. The fulness of blessing in Mary utterly neutralized in her any effects of the curse of Eve. In her praise Solomon writeth in the Song of Songs, Rise up, my dove, my fair one, for the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. And again, Come from Lebanon, my Spouse, come, thou shalt be crowned.

Reading 6:  Not unjustly then is she bidden to come from' Lebanon, for Lebanon is so named on account of its stainless and glistening whiteness. The earthly Lebanon is white with snow, but the lonely heights of Mary's holiness are white with purity and grace, brilliantly fair, whiter far than snow, sparkling with the gifts of the Holy Ghost she is undefiled like a dove, all clean, all upright, full of grace and truth. She is full of mercy, and of the righteousness that hath looked down from heaven, and therefore is she without stain because in her hath never been any corruption. She hath compassed a man in her womb, saith holy Jeremiah, but she conceived not by the will of fallen man. The Lord, saith the Prophet, hath created a new thing in the earth; a woman shall compass a man.  

Reading 7: Verily, it is a new thing. Verily, it was a new work of power, greater than all other works, when God, Whom the world cannot bear, and Whom no man shall see and live, entered the lodging of her womb, breaking not the blissful cloister of her virgin flesh. And in her body He was borne, the Infinite inclosed within her womb. And from her womb He came forth, so that it was fulfilled which was spoken of the Prophet Ezekiel, saying, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. xliv. 2. Hence also in the Song of Songs it is said of her, iv. 12, A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed, thy perfumes are a garden of delights. Verily a garden of delights, filled with the perfumes of all flowers, rich with the sweet savour of grace. And the most holy Virgin herself is a garden enclosed, whereinto sin and Satan have never entered to sully the blossoms, a fountain sealed, sealed with the seal of the Trinity.

Reading 8: The fact that the Virgin Mother of God had at the moment of her conception triumphed over the foul enemy of man, hath ever been borne out by the Holy Scriptures, by the venerable tradition of the Church, and by her unceasing belief, as well as by the common conviction of all Bishops and faithful Catholics, and by marked acts and constitutions of the Holy See. At length the Supreme Pontiff Pius IX., in compliance with the wishes of the Universal Church, determined to publish it as a truth of faith, on his own absolute and unerring authority, and accordingly, on the 8th day of December, 1854, in the Vatican Basilica, in presence of a great multitude composed of the Fathers Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and Bishops from all parts of the earth, he, with the consent and jubilation of the whole world, declared and defined as follows That doctrine which declareth that the most blessed Virgin Mary was in the first instant of her Conception preserved, by a special privilege granted unto her by God, from any stain of original sin, is a doctrine taught and revealed by God, and therefore is to be held by all faithful Christians firmly and constantly.

Nocturn III (Homily of St Germanus)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Luke: Luke 1:26-28: In that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And so on.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, holier than the Saints, higher than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim, more honourable than the Seraphim, and the most worshipful thing that the hands of God have made. Hail, O dove, bearing in thy beak the olive-branch of peace that telleth us of salvation from the spiritual flood, dove, blessed omen of a safe harbour, whose wings are of silver, and thy feathers of gold, shining in the bright beams of the Most Holy and Light-giving Spirit. Hail, thou living garden of Eden, planted towards the East by the right hand of the Most Merciful and Mighty God, wherein do grow to His glory rich lilies and unfading roses, for the healing of them that have drunk in death from the blighting and pestilential breezes of the bitter West, Eden, wherein hath sprung that Tree of life, Whereof if any man eat he shall live for ever. 

Reading 10: Hail, stately Palace of the King, most holy, stainless, purest, House of the Most High God, adorned with His Royal splendour, open to all, filled with Kingly dainties; Palace wherein is that spiritual bridal chamber, not made with hands, nor hung with divers colours, in the which the Eternal Word, when He would raise up fallen man, wedded flesh unto Himself, that He might reconcile unto the Father them who had cast themselves away. Hail, O rich and shady Mountain of God, whereon pastured the True Lamb, Who hath taken away our sins and infirmities, mountain, whereout hath been cut without hands that Stone which hath smitten the altars of the idols, and become the head-stone of the corner, marvellous in our eyes. Hail, thou holy Throne of God, thou divinest store-house, thou temple of glory, thou bright crown, thou chosen treasure, thou mercy-seat for the whole world, thou heaven declaring the glory of God. Hail, thou vessel of pure gold, made to hold the manna that came down from heaven, the sweet food of our souls, even Christ. 

Reading 11: Hail, O purest Virgin, most praiseworthy and most worshipful, hallowed treasury for the wants of all creatures; thou art the untitled earth, the unploughed field; thou art the vine full of flowers, the well overflowing with waters, Maiden and Mother; thou art the Mother that knew not a man, the hidden treasure of guilelessness, and the clear, bright star of holiness; by thy most acceptable prayers, strong from thy motherly mouth, obtain for all estates of men in the Church that they may continually tend unto Him Who is the Lord, and God, and Maker of thee, and of them, and of all, but of thee the Son also, conceived without man's intervention; obtain this, O Mother, pilot them to the harbour of peace.

Reading 12: Be it thine to clothe God's priests with righteousness, and to make them shout aloud for joy in approved and stainless, and upright and glorious faith. thine be it to guide in peace the sceptres of orthodox princes, even of princes who put their trust in thee to be the crown of their Majesty, and the Royal Robe of their greatness, and the firm foundation of their dominion, more than in purple, or fine gold, or pearls, or precious stones; thine be it to put under their feet the unfaithful nations, nations that blaspheme thee, and the God That was born of thee; thine be it to keep in meek obedience the people that are under them, according to the commandment of God. Behold, this is thine own city, which hath thee for her towers and her foundations, crown her with victory, gird the house of God with strength, keep undefiled the loveliness of His tabernacles, as for them that praise thy name, be thou their deliverer from strife and bitterness of spirit. Free thou the prisoner, protect the wanderer, and if there be any that hath no refuge, be thou to him a consolation. Stretch forth thine hand and help the whole earth so shall we year by year keep this and all thy feasts, and at last be found with thee in Christ Jesus, Who is Lord of all, and verily our God. To Him, with the Holy Father, Who is the Fountain of Life, and the coeternal Spirit, Three Persons and One Substance, even as there is one Kingdom, be glory and strength, now and for ever. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-28

missus est angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilææ, cui nomen Nazareth, 27 ad virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David: et nomen virginis Maria. 28 Et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit: Ave gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus.

the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. [28] And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Matins readings for the second week of Advent

The readings at Matins in the traditional Benedictine Office this week are:

Sunday (see separate post for the full text of the Patristic readings)

Nocturn I: Isaiah 11:1-4a, 4b-7, 8-10, 11-13
Nocturn II: Exposition of St Jerome on Isaiah, Book 4, 11 v1-2
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Gregory (Homily 6 on the Evangelist n1-2) nb missing fourth reading
Gospel: St Matthew 11:2-10

Monday

Isaiah 13: 1-4a, 4b- 8, 9-11)

Tuesday

Isaiah 14:1-2, 3-6, 12-15)

Wednesday

Isaiah 16:1-4a, 4b-6, 7-8

(Feast of St Ambrose
Nocturn I: Romans 10:4-9, 10-13, 14-17
Nocturn II: (on the life of the saint)
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Gregory (Homily 5 n1-2))

Thursday

Isaiah 19: 1-2; 3-6a; 11-13

(Feast of the Immaculate Conception (see separate post for the readings of the feast)

Friday

Isaiah 24:1-3, 4-6, 7-16a

Saturday

Isaiah 25:1-4a, 4b-7, 8-12

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Matins readings for for the Second Sunday of Advent

The readings for Matins of the Second Sunday of Advent in the traditonal form of the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I

Reading 1 - Isaiah 11: 1-4a
Reading 2 - Isaiah 11: 4b-7
Reading 3 - Isaiah 11: 8-10
Reading 4 - Isaiah 11: 11-13

Nocturn II (Commentary of St Jerome on Isaiah, Bk 4, 11; v, 1-2)

Reading 5: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse. From the beginning of the Book of this Prophet till the xiiith chapter, where commenceth the vision, or burden of Babylon, the whole of the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, is one continual prophecy of Christ. We must explain it part by part, for if we were to take it all at once, the memory of the reader would be confused. According to the Jewish commentators, the rod and the flower would both relate to the Lord Himself. They take the rod to mean the sceptre of His Royal dominion, and the flower the loveliness of His beauty.

Reading 6: We, however, understand that the rod out of the root of Jesse signifieth the holy Virgin Mary. She was a clean stem that had as yet put forth no shoot; as we have read above Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son. (Isa. vii. 14.) And the flower we believe to mean the Lord our Redeemer, Who hath elsewhere compared Himself to a flower; I am a flower of the plain, and a lily of the valleys. 

Reading 7: The Spirit of the Lord then shall rest upon this flower; this flower which shall come forth from the stem and roots of Jesse by means of the Virgin Mary. And truly the Spirit of the Lord did rest upon our Redeemer. It is written that In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. CThe Spirit was not shed on Him by measure, as it is upon the Saints. To Him we may apply the words of the Hebrew Gospel used by the Nazarenes; The whole fountain of the Holy Ghost shall be poured forth upon Him The Lord is a spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Reading 8: In the same Gospel of St Matthew we read: "Behold my Son whom I have chosen; my elect in whom my soul is well pleased; I shall place my Spirit over him and he will mete out judgment to the Gentiles."  This is to be understood of the Savior, on whom the Spirit of the Lord rested, that is, remained eternally.

Nocturn III (Homily 6 of St Gregory the Great n1&2)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matt 11:2-10): In that time when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And so on. The sight of so many signs and so many mighty works should have been a source of wonder, and not a stumbling-block. And yet the unfaithful found these very works a rock of offence, when they afterwards saw Him Who had worked so many miracles dying on the Cross. Hence Paul saith We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Gentiles foolishness. 

Reading 10: It is indeed folly in the eyes of men to say that the Author of life died for men and thus men put as a stumbling-block to hinder them from coming to Jesus, the very thing that doth oblige them the most unto Him. For the more humbling God hath undergone for man's sake, the more worthy is He that man should worship Him.

Reading 11: And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. Now what is this, but a plain mention of that time, when He afterwards humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross? It is as if He said I indeed do wonderful works, but the day will come when I shall not refuse to suffer shame and evil treatment. Take heed then, ye who now worship Me for the works' sake, that when I come to die ye despise Me not for My death's sake.

Reading 12: And, as the disciples of John departed, what did Jesus say unto the multitudes concerning this same John? Let us hear. What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? Here our Lord teacheth not by assertion, but by negation. Now a reed is a thing so made that as soon as the wind bloweth upon it, it bendeth it over toward the opposite quarter. And the fleshly-minded man is like a human reed. As he is praised or blamed so he bendeth himself in the one direction or the other.

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent is St Matthew 11:2-10:

"...cum audisset in vinculis opera Christi, mittens duos de discipulis suis, 3 ait illi: Tu es, qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? 4 Et respondens Jesus ait illis: Euntes renuntiate Joanni quæ audistis, et vidistis. 5 Cæci vident, claudi ambulant, leprosi mundantur, surdi audiunt, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur: 6 et beatus est, qui non fuerit scandalizatus in me.7 Illis autem abeuntibus, cœpit Jesus dicere ad turbas de Joanne: Quid existis in desertum videre? arundinem vento agitatam? 8 Sed quid existis videre? hominem mollibus vestitum? Ecce qui mollibus vestiuntur, in domibus regum sunt. 9 Sed quid existis videre? prophetam? Etiam dico vobis, et plus quam prophetam. 10 Hic est enim de quo scriptum est: Ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te."

Douay-Rheims:

"Now when [John] had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: [3] Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? [4] And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. [5] The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. [6] And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. [7] And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? [8] But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. [9] But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. [10] For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.