Saturday, 11 March 2017

Matins readings for the Second Sunday of Lent

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

Nocturn I: Genesis 27

Reading 1: And now Isaac was old, and his eyes had grown so dim that he saw nothing. One day he called to his elder son Esau, My son! and when he answered, I am here, at thy command, See, his father said, how old a man I have grown; there is no telling how soon I may be overtaken by death.  Come, fetch that armoury of thine, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out hunting; when thou hast slain thy quarry, 4 make me a roast dish, such as I love well, and bring it me to eat. And so thou shalt have my blessing, against the time of my death.

R. Take thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and bring me some of thy venison, that I may eat, * and my soul may bless thee.
V. And when thou hast taken somewhat, make me thereof savoury meat, that I may eat.
R. And my soul may bless thee.

Reading 2: To all this, Rebecca listened; and when Esau had gone out hunting, to do as his father had bidden him, she said to her son Jacob, I heard thy father talking to thy brother Esau, and thus he spoke to him; Bring my venison from the chase, and make me a dish of meat; so thou shalt have my blessing, with the Lord to witness it, against the time of my death. Nothing remains for thee, my son, but to fall in with this plan of mine. Make thy way to the herd, and bring me two choice kids; of these I will make such a dish as thy father loves to eat, and thou shalt take it in to him; so, when he has eaten it, his dying benediction shall be thine instead. Bethink thee, answered Jacob, how hairy my brother Esau’s skin is, and mine how smooth!  What if my father should feel it? He will think that I have been trying to make game of him, and it is a curse, not a blessing, I shall win.

R. See the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed may my God multiply thee as the sand of the sea * and give thee a blessing of the dew of heaven
V. And God Almighty bless thee, and multiply thee
R. And give thee a blessing of the dew of heaven.

Reading 3: A curse, my son? said his mother. Let it fall on me; do but attend to my bidding, and fetch me what I ask for.  So he went and brought them to his mother, and she made a dish of meat, such as she knew his father loved. She had fine clothes of Esau’s by her in the house, and she dressed Jacob in these;  enclosed his hands, too in skin he had taken from the kids, and covered his bare neck with it;  then she gave him the dish, and some loaves which she had cooked, to carry with him. So he brought them in, and said, Father. Yes, my son, he said; who is it? I am Esau, said Jacob, Esau, thy first-born; I have done thy bidding. Rise up, I pray thee, sit at table, and eat this venison of mine, and give me a father’s blessing. Why, answered Isaac, how didst thou come to find thy quarry in so short a time, my son? It was God’s pleasure, said he, to send it in my way.

R. God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. Let people and nations serve thee. * Be lord over thy brethren.
V. And let thy mother's sons bow down to thee.
R. Be lord over thy brethren.

Reading 4:Then Isaac said, Come near, and let me feel thee, to make sure whether thou art my son Esau or not. So he went close to his father; and he, upon feeling the touch of him, said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.  There was no recognizing Jacob, since his hands were hairy like Esau’s hands, and he must needs give his blessing. Thou art my son, he said, my son Esau? Yes, he answered, I am.  Why then, said he, bring it here; let me eat my son’s venison, and give him a father’s blessing. So he ate what was brought him, and Jacob offered him wine too, and he drank. Then he said to Jacob, Come here, my son, and kiss me.  And when he came near, and kissed him, all at once Isaac caught the smell of his garments, and this was the blessing he gave him: How it breathes about this son of mine, the fragrance of earth when the Lord’s blessing is on it!  God give thee dew from heaven and fruitful soil, corn and wine in plenty.  Let nations serve thee, and peoples bow before thee; mayst thou be lord over thy brethren, receive obeisance from thy own mother’s sons; a curse on those who curse, a blessing on those who bless thee!

R: Arise, father, and eat of your son's venison arise, How couldst thou find it so quickly, my son? * It was the will of God, father, that what I sought came my way.
V: I am Esau thy firstborn: I have done as thou didst command me
R: It was the will of God, father, that what I sought came my way.
V: Glory be...
R: It was the will of God, father, that what I sought came my way.

Nocturn II: St Augustine, Against Liars

Reading 5: If we consider faithfully and carefully what it was that Jacob did by the advice of his mother, and wherein he seemeth to have deceived his father, it will appear that (it hath an aspect in which) it is not a lie, but an allegory. If we denounce this (its mystic sense) as a lie, then must we also give the name of lies to even all parable, and to every figure devised to set forth the nature of anything, which is not to be taken in its literal sense, but in which one thing is to be understood under the name of another. And this be far from us.

R. As Jacob went out from his own land, he saw the glory of God, and said How dreadful is this place * This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.
V. Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not.
R. This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.

Reading 6: Whoso should do this, would bring the charge of falsehood against very many figures of speech, including that one called metaphor (in which a word is transferred from that meaning which belongeth to it, to some other) to which would, by such reasoning, be given the name of a lie. The deep meaning is given; but what is considered is the lie because men do not understand the way in which that signification, which is a truth, is set forth but the falsehood is plainly expressed, and believed.

R. If the Lord my God will be with me, in this way that I go, and will keep me, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, and will bring me again safely * The Lord shall be my refuge, and this stone shall be a sign.
V. So Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and said
R. The Lord shall be my refuge, and this shall be a sign.

Reading 7: That we may understand this more plainly by taking some points in illustration, consider with me what Jacob did. It is certain that he covered his limbs with the skins of goats. If we consider his object in point of fact, we shall find that it was to lie, because he did this that he might be thought to be he who he was not. But if we consider this his deed in that deep typical sense which it undoubtedly possessed, we find that by the goat-skins are represented sins, and by him who covered himself therewith Him Who bore not His own sins, but the sins of others.

R. The Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be called God's house, and of all that Thou shalt give me * I will offer tithes and peace-offerings to thee.
V. If I come again to my father's house in peace.
R. I will offer tithes and peace-offerings unto thee.

Reading 8: It is impossible to apply the term a "lie" to that mystic aspect of this transaction in which it was true and such an aspect there is, not only in the acts, but in the words. When Isaac said to Jacob: "Who art thou, my son " and Jacob answered " I am Esau, thy first-born, if we take this in its sense relative to the two brothers, it will be apparent that it was a lie. If, however, we look at it relatively to that for the sake of which these words and deeds were written down, we shall see that Christ is here signified in His mystic body, the Church. Concerning her, (the younger covenant,) He saith (to them of the older covenant) " Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last." Thus did the younger take away the title and inheritance from the elder, and acquire it to himself.

R. As Jacob went out from his own land, he saw the glory of God, and said How dreadful is this place * This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.
V. Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not.
R. This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.

Nocturn III: Homily 51 by St Leo the Great 

Reading 9: Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an exceeding high mountain apart, and manifested forth the brightness of His glory. Hitherto, though they understood that there was in Him the Majesty of God, they knew not the power of that Body which veiled the Godhead. And therefore He had individually and markedly promised to some of the disciples that had stood by Him that they should "not taste of death till they had seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom, that is, in the kingly splendour, which is the right of the Manhood taken into God, and which He willed to make visible to those three men.

R. The Angel said unto Jacob * Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he blessed him there.
V. And when Jacob arose, behold there wrestled a man with him, until the breaking of the day and, when he saw that he prevailed not, he said unto him
R. Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he blessed him there.

Reading 10: This it was that they saw, for the unspeakable and unapproachable vision of the Godhead Himself which will be the everlasting life of the pure in heart, can no man, who is still burdened with a dying body, see and live. When the Father saith "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased hear ye Him did they not plainly hear Him say This is My Son, Whose it is to be of Me and with Me without all time " For neither is He That begetteth, before Him That is begotten, neither He That is begotten, after Him That begetteth Him. " This is My Son between Whom and Me, to be God is not a point of difference to be Almighty, a point of separation nor to be Eternal, a point of distinction. "

R. I have seen God face to face * And my life is preserved.
V. And he said unto me thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name.
R. And my life is preserved.

Reading 11: This is My Son not by adoption, but My very Own not created from, or of another substance, or out of nothing, but begotten of Me not of another nature, and made like unto Me, but of Mine own Being, born of Me, equal unto Me.This is My Son by Whom all things were made, and without Whom was not anything made that was made, Who maketh likewise all things whatsoever I make and what things soever I do He doeth likewise, inseparably and indifferently."

R. When Jacob heard that Esau came to meet him, he divided his sons and his wives, saying If Esau smite the one company, then the other shall escape. * Deliver me, O Lord, Which saidst unto me I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
V. O Lord, Which saidst unto me Return unto thy country O Lord, Which feedest me still from my youth up
R. Deliver me, O Lord.

Reading 12: This is My Son Who thought it not robbery, nor hath taken it by violence, to be equal with Me, but, abiding still in the form of My glory, that He may fulfil Our common decree for the restoration of mankind, hath bowed the unchangeable Godhead even to the form of a servant. Him therefore in Whom I am in all things well pleased, by Whose preaching I am manifested, and by Whose lowliness I am glorified, Him instantly hear ye. For He is the Truth and the Life My Power, and My Wisdom.

R: Jacob prayed, and he said: O Lord, who saidst to me: Return to thy land and to the place of thy birth, * Deliver me from the hand of my brother, for I am greatly afraid of him
V: God, in whose sight my fathers walked, God that feedeth me from my youth until this day;
R: Deliver me from the hand of my brother, for I am greatly afraid of him
V Glory be...
R: Deliver me from the hand of my brother, for I am greatly afraid of him

Gospel:  St Matthew 17:1-9

And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:  And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.  And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.  And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not.  And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus.  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead. 

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