Saturday, 3 December 2016

Isaiah 7 (Saturday in Advent 1) - A virgin shall conceive

Reading 1: And it came to pass in the days of Achaz the son of Joathan, the son of Ozias, king of Juda, that Basin king of Syria, and Phacee the son of Romelia king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem, to fight against it: but they could not prevail over it. And they told the house of David, saying: Syria hath rested upon Ephraim, and his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind. And the Lord said to Isaias: Go forth to meet Achaz, thou and Jasub thy son that is left, to the conduit of the upper pool, a in the way of the fuller' s held.

[Et factum est in diebus Achaz, filii Joathan, filii Oziæ, regis Juda, ascendit Rasin, rex Syriæ, et Phacee, filius Romeliæ, rex Israël, in Jerusalem, ad præliandum contra eam: et non potuerunt debellare eam. Et nuntiaverunt domui David, dicentes: Requievit Syria super Ephraim. Et commotum est cor ejus, et cor populi ejus, sicut moventur ligna silvarum a facie venti. Et dixit Dominus ad Isaiam: Egredere in occursum Achaz, tu et qui derelictus est Jasub, filius tuus, ad extremum aquæductus piscinæ superioris in via agri Fullonis;]

R. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, saith the Lord* And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.
V. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom for ever.
R. And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.

Reading 2: And thou shalt say to him: See thou be quiet: fear not, and let not thy heart be afraid of the two tails of these fire brands, smoking with the wrath of the fury of Rasin king of Syria, and of the son of Romelia. Because Syria hath taken counsel against thee, unto the evil of Ephraim and the son of Romelia, saying: Let us go up to Juda, and rouse it up, and draw it away to us, and make the son of Tabeel king in the midst thereof.

R. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the ends of the earth
* And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.
V. Declare it and make it known, lift up your voice and cry aloud.
R. And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.

[Et dices ad eum: Vide ut sileas; noli timere, et cor tuum ne formidet a duabus caudis titionum fumigantium istorum, in ira furoris Rasin, regis Syriae, et filii Romeliae;  Eo quod consilium inierit contra te Syria in malum, Ephraim, et filius Romeliae, dicentes: Ascendamus ad Judam, et suscitemus eum, et avellamus eum ad nos, et ponamus regem in medio ejus filium Tabeel.]

Reading 3: And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.

R. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch; and a King shall reign in wisdom and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth and this is His name whereby He shall be called* The Lord our Righteous one.
V. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.
R. And this is His name whereby He shall be called.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The Lord our Righteous one.

[Et adjecit Dominus loqui ad Achaz, dicens: Pete tibi signum a Domino Deo tuo, in profundum inferni, sive in excelsum supra. Et dixit Achaz: Non petam, et non tentabo Dominum. Et dixit: Audite ergo, domus David. Numquid parum vobis est molestos esse hominibus, quia molesti estis et Deo meo? Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum: ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium, et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel.  Butyrum et mel comedet, ut sciat reprobare malum, et eligere bonum.]

Friday, 2 December 2016

Matins readings for Friday in the first week of Advent - Isaiah 6

Today's readings are from Isaiah 6.

Reading 1:  In anno quo mortuus est rex Ozias, vidi Dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum; et ea quæ sub ipso erant replebant templum.  Seraphim stabant super illud: sex alæ uni, et sex alæ alteri; duabus velabant faciem ejus, et duabus velabant pedes ejus, et duabus volabant.  Et clamabant alter ad alterum, et dicebant: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus, Deus exercituum; plena est omnis terra gloria ejus.

In the year that king Ozias died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated: and his train filled the temple.  Upon it stood the seraphims: the one had six wings, and the other had six wings: with two they covered his face, and with two they covered his feet, and with two they hew. And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory.

Reading 2:  Et commota sunt superliminaria cardinum a voce clamantis, et domus repleta est fumo. Et dixi: Væ mihi, quia tacui, quia vir pollutus labiis ego sum, et in medio populi polluta labia habentis ego habito, et regem Dominum exercituum vidi oculis meis. Et volavit ad me unus de seraphim, et in manu ejus calculus, quem forcipe tulerat de altari, et tetigit os meum, et dixit: Ecce tetigit hoc labia tua, et auferetur iniquitas tua, et peccatum tuum mundabitur.

 And the lintels of the doors were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: Woe is me, because I have held my peace; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people that hath unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the King the Lord of hosts. And one of the seraphims flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.

Reading 3: Et audivi vocem Domini dicentis: Quem mittam? et quis ibit nobis? Et dixi: Ecce ego, mitte me. Et dixit: Vade, et dices populo huic: Audite audientes, et nolite intelligere; et videte visionem, et nolite cognoscere.  Excæca cor populi hujus, et aures ejus aggrava, et oculos ejus claude:
ne forte videat oculis suis, et auribus suis audiat, et corde suo intelligat, et convertatur, et sanem eum.

And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? And I said: Lo, here am I, send me.  And he said: Go, and thou shalt say to this people: Hearing, hear, and understand not: and see the vision, and know it not.  Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.

Reflection

The key question God asks in this vision is, who will I send?  Who will God send to convert the people?

Isaiah states that he has kept silent up until now because of his own sins.  St Jerome actually argued that this was actually his sin: he had failed to preach, trnaslating the Hebrew text as 'Woe is me, because I have held my peace.'.  But he is miraculously cleansed of his sin, and so volunteers to be the messenger.

We don't need to have a vision of God in the heavenly temple to apply this to ourselves: it is a call to all to be converted, confess and do penance so that we are cleansed of our sins, and then speak up.




Thursday, 1 December 2016

Matins readings for Thursday in the first week of Advent: Isaiah 4-5

Reading 1 (Isaiah 4:1-3): Et apprehendent septem mulieres virum unum in die illa, dicentes: Panem nostrum comedemus, et vestimentis nostris operiemur: tantummodo invocetur nomen tuum super nos; aufer opprobrium nostrum. In die illa, erit germen Domini in magnificentia et gloria, et fructus terræ sublimis, et exsultatio his qui salvati fuerint de Israël. Et erit: omnis qui relictus fuerit in Sion, et residuus in Jerusalem, Sanctus vocabitur, omnis qui scriptus est in vita in Jerusalem.

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, take away our reproach.  In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high, and a great joy to them that shall have escaped of Israel.  And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall be left in Sion, and that shall remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, every one that is written in life in Jerusalem.

Reading 2 (Is 5:1-4): Cantabo dilecto meo canticum patruelis mei vineæ suæ. Vinea facta est dilecto meo in cornu filio olei. Et sepivit eam, et lapides elegit ex illa, et plantavit eam electam; et ædificavit turrim in medio ejus, et torcular exstruxit in ea; et exspectavit ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas. Nunc ergo, habitatores Jerusalem et viri Juda, judicate inter me et vineam meam. Quid est quod debui ultra facere vineæ meæ, et non feci ei? an quod exspectavi ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas?

I will sing to my beloved the canticle of my cousin concerning his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a hill in a fruitful place.  And he fenced it in, and picked the stones out of it, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the midst thereof, and set up a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.  And now, O ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and ye men of Juda, judge between me and my vineyard.  What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it?

Reading 3 (Is 5:5-7): Et nunc ostendam vobis quid ego faciam vineæ meæ: auferam sepem ejus, et erit in direptionem; diruam maceriam ejus, et erit in conculcationem. Et ponam eam desertam; non putabitur et non fodietur: et ascendent vepres et spinæ, et nubibus mandabo ne pluant super eam imbrem. Vinea enim Domini exercituum domus Israël est; et vir Juda germen ejus delectabile: et exspectavi ut faceret judicium, et ecce iniquitas; et justitiam, et ecce clamor.

And now I will shew you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted: I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.  And I will make it desolate: it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged: but briers and thorns shall come up: and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel: and the man of Juda, his pleasant plant: and I looked that he should do judgment, and behold iniquity: and do justice, and behold a cry.


Notes/reflection

The seven women can be interpreted as the Church; the one man Christ, as Victorinus explained in his commentary on Revelation:
Those seven stars are the seven churches, which he names in his addresses by name, and calls them to whom he wrote epistles. Not that they are themselves the only, or even the principal churches; but what he says to one, he says to all. For they are in no respect different, that on that ground any one should prefer them to the larger number of similar small ones. In the whole world Paul taught that all the churches are arranged by sevens, that they are called seven, and that the Catholic Church is one.... 
We read also that this typical number is announced by the Holy Spirit by the month of Isaiah: Of seven women which took hold of one man.  The one man is Christ, not born of seed; but the seven women are seven churches, receiving His bread, and clothed with his apparel, who ask that their reproach should be taken away, only that His name should be called upon them. The bread is the Holy Spirit, which nourishes to eternal life, promised to them, that is, by faith. And His garments wherewith they desire to be clothed are the glory of immortality, of which Paul the apostle says: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 
 Moreover, they ask that their reproach may be taken away— that is, that they may be cleansed from their sins: for the reproach is the original sin which is taken away in baptism, and they begin to be called Christian men, which is, Let your name be called upon us. 
Therefore in these seven churches, of one Catholic Church are believers, because it is one in seven by the quality of faith and election. Whether writing to them who labour in the world, and live of the frugality of their labours, and are patient, and when they see certain men in the Church wasters, and pernicious, they hear them, lest there should become dissension, he yet admonishes them by love, that in what respects their faith is deficient they should repent; or to those who dwell in cruel places among persecutors, that they should continue faithful; or to those who, under the pretext of mercy, do unlawful sins in the Church, and make them manifest to be done by others; or to those that are at ease in the Church; or to those who are negligent, and Christians only in name; or to those who are meekly instructed, that they may bravely persevere in faith; or to those who study the Scriptures, and labour to know the mysteries of their announcement, and are unwilling to do God's work that is mercy and love: to all he urges penitence, to all he declares judgment.
The image of the beloved (Christ) and the vineyard (the Church) recurs frequently in Scripture.  It challenges us to consider: are we bringing forth good fruit or only wild grapes, fit only to allowed to fall desolate, dry and barren, left unpruned and open to wild animals?

St Ambrose comments:
And the Lord Himself spoke through Isaias, saying: 'My beloved had a vineyard  on a hill in a fruitful place. And I fenced it in and dug  around the vine of Sorech and I built a tower in the midst  thereof.' 
He fenced it in with a rampart, as it were of heavenly precepts and with the angels standing guard, for 'the angel of the lord shall encamp round about them that fear him. 
 He placed in the Church a tower, so to speak, of Apostles, Prophets, and Doctors ready to defend the peace of the Church. 
He dug around it, when He had freed it from the burden of earthly anxieties. For nothing burdens the mind more than solicitude for the world and cupidity either for wealth or for power...
It seems clear, therefore, that the example of the vine is designed, as this passage indicates, for the instruction of our lives. It is observed to bud in the mild warmth of early spring and next to produce fruit from the joints of the shoots, from which a grape is formed. This gradually increases in size, but it still retains its bitter taste. 
When, however, it is ripened and mellowed by the sun, it acquires its sweetness. Meanwhile, the vine is decked in green leaves by which it is protected in no slight manner from frosts and other injuries and is defended from the sun's heat. Is there any spectacle which is more pleasing or any fruit that is sweeter? What a joy to behold the rows of hanging grapes like so many jewels of a beautiful countryside, to pluck those grapes gleaming in colors of gold or purple!  (Hexameron, Day 3)


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Matins readings for feast of St Andrew



Nocturn I: Romans 10:4-21

Reading 1:  For the end of the law is Christ, unto justice to every one that believeth. For Moses wrote, that the justice which is of the law, the man that shall do it, shall live by it. But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus: Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down; Or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. But what saith the scripture? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This is the word of faith, which we preach.For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

R. The Lord, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the sea, and He called them saying
* Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
V. For they were fishers, and He saith unto them
R. Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Reading 2: For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith: Whosoever believeth in him, shall not be confounded. For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.

R. As soon as the blessed Andrew heard the voice of the Lord calling him, he left his nets, by the exercise and use whereof he lived
* And followed Him Who giveth life everlasting.
V. This is that disciple who for the love of Christ hung upon the cross, and suffered for the law of his God.
R. And followed Him Who giveth life everlasting.

Reading 3: How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things! But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.

R. Andrew the good teacher, the friend of God, was led to the cross, and when he saw it afar off, he said God bless thee, O cross
* Welcome to the follower of Him That hung on thee, even my Master Christ.
V. God bless thee, O cross, thou art hallowed by the Body of Christ; His Members make thee goodly as with pearls.
R. Be welcome to the follower of Him That hung on thee, even my Master Christ.

Reading 4: But I say: Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the whole world.  But I say: Hath not Israel known? First, Moses saith: I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation; by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Isaias is bold, and saith: I was found by them that did not seek me: I appeared openly to them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith: All the day long have I spread my hands to a people that believeth not, and contradicteth me.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, Behold the Lamb of God, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ, going by, called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They made no delay, but left their nets, and followed Him. After the death and Resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia as the province of his preaching, and, after labouring there, he went through Epirus and Thrace, where he turned vast multitudes to Christ by his teaching and miracles.

R. The man of God was led to be crucified, and the people cried with a loud voice, saying
* The innocent blood of this just person is condemned without a cause.
V. And when they led him out to crucify him, all the people ran together and cried, saying
R. The innocent blood of this just person is condemned without a cause.

Reading 6: Finally he went to Patras in Achaia, and there also he brought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Aegeas the Pro-consul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all.Then Egeas, being angry, answered him, Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed Him not, and He was crucified by the Jews. Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ had given Himself up to die for man's salvation; but the Pro-consul blasphemously interrupted him, and bade him look to himself, and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One, and the True, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh Thereof, the Lamb That was slain abideth whole and liveth.

R. O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so fair and goodly, welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master,
* That, as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.
V. The blessed Andrew stretched forth his hands to heaven and prayed, saying Precious cross, be my salvation,
R. That, as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.

Reading 7: Then Aegeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now, the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitude, and earnestly besought them not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near.Come short while after, he was brought before the judgment-seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross, and rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness. Then Aegeas could bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ.

R. All day long I have stretched forth my hands upon the cross unto a disobedient and gainsaying people* Which walketh in a way that is not good, but after their own sins.
V. The Lord God to Whom vengeance belongeth, the God to Whom vengeance belongeth, hath shown Himself: lift up thyself, Thou Judge of the earth, render a reward to the proud.
R. Which walketh in a way that is not good, but after their own sins.

Reading 8: Andrew, then, was led to the place of martyrdom, and, as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out, O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so goodly, how long have I desired thee! how warmly have I loved thee! how constantly have I sought thee! And, now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master, that as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself. So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and, finally, passed into the Presence of Him the likeness of Whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi. In the Pontificate of Pope Pius II. his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St Peter.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew - At that time Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers). And so on.

Dearly beloved brethren, ye hear how that Peter and Andrew, having once heard the Lord call them, left their nets, and followed their Saviour. As yet they had seen none of His miracles, as yet they had received no promise of their exceeding and eternal reward; nevertheless, at one word of the Lord they forgot all those things which they seemed to have. We have seen many of His miracles; we have received many of His gracious chastenings; many times hath He warned us of the wrath to come and yet Christ calleth and we do not follow.

R. The holy Andrew lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed, and cried with a loud voice, and said Thou art my God, Whom I have seen; suffer not the unjust judge to take me down from the cross
* For now I know what the power of thy holy Cross is.
V. Thou art Christ my Master, Whom I have loved, Whom I have known, Whom I have confessed in this thing hear me.
R. For now I know what the power of thy holy Cross is.

Reading 10: He who calleth us to be converted is now enthroned in heaven; He hath broken the necks of the Gentiles to the yoke of the faith, He hath laid low the glory of the world, and the wrecks thereof, falling ever more and more to decay, do preach unto us that the coming of that day when He is to be revealed as our Judge is drawing nigh and yet, so stubborn is our mind, that we will not yet freely abandon that which, will we, nill we, we lose day by day.

R. When Andrew saw the cross he cried, saying How wonderful art thou, O cross! O cross, how loveable art thou! O cross, thy bright beams enlighten the darkness of the whole world!
* Welcome a follower of Jesus, that, as by thee He died to redeem me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.
V. O precious cross, which the Members of my Lord have made so fair and goodly,
R. Welcome a follower of Jesus, that, as by thee He died to redeem me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.

Reading 11: Dearly beloved brethren, what shall we answer at His judgment seat, we whom no lessons can persuade, and no stripes can break of the love of this present world? Come one perchance will ask in his heart, what Peter or Andrew had to lose by obeying the call of the Lord?

Reading 12: Dearly beloved brethren, we must consider here rather the intention than the loss incurred by this obedience. He that keepeth nothing for himself, giveth up much; he that sacrificeth his all, sacrificed! what is to him a great deal. Beyond doubt, we cling to whatever we have, and what we have least, that we desire most. Peter and Andrew therefore gave up much when they gave up even the desire of possessing anything.

R. Dilexit Andream Dominus in odorem suavitatis, dum penderet in cruce, dignum sibi computavit Martyrem. quem vocabit Apostolum, dum esset in mari* Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.
V. Andreas, Christi famulus, dignus Dei Apostolus, germanus Petri, et in passione socius.
R. Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et ideo amicus Dei appellatus est.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Isaiah 2:1-9 (Tuesday in the first week of Advent)

Reading 1: Verbum quod vidit Isaias, filius Amos, super Juda et Jerusalem.Et erit in novissimis diebus:præparatus mons domus Domini in vertice montium, et elevabitur super colles; et fluent ad eum omnes gentes, et ibunt populi multi, et dicent: Venite, et ascendamus ad montem Domini, et ad domum Dei Jacob; et docebit nos vias suas, et ambulabimus in semitis ejus, quia de Sion exibit lex, et verbum Domini de Jerusalem.

The word that Isaias the son of Amos saw, concerning Juda and Jerusalem. And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Reading 2: Et judicabit gentes, et arguet populos multos; et conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres,
et lanceas suas in falces. Non levabit gens contra gentem gladium, nec exercebuntur ultra ad prælium. Domus Jacob, venite, et ambulemus in lumine Domini. Projecisti enim populum tuum, domum Jacob, quia repleti sunt ut olim, et augeres habuerunt ut Philisthiim, et pueris alienis adhæserunt.

And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.  O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.  For thou hast cast off thy people, the house of Jacob: because they are filled as in times past, and have had soothsayers as the Philistines, and have adhered to strange children.

Reading 3: Repleta est terra argento et auro, et non est finis thesaurorum ejus. Et repleta est terra ejus equis, et innumerabiles quadrigæ ejus. Et repleta est terra ejus idolis; opus manuum suarum adoraverunt, quod fecerunt digiti eorum.   Et incurvavit se homo, et humiliatus est vir; ne ergo dimittas eis.

Their land is filled with silver and gold: and there is no end of their treasures.  And their land is filled with horses: and their chariots are innumerable. Their land also is full of idols: they have adored the work of their own hands, which their own fingers have made.  And man hath bowed himself down, and man hath been debased: therefore forgive them not.

Reflection

The Fathers interpret these verses as the announcement of the Incarnation: Christ and his Church and the mountain of strength; and through him a new age of peace will be ushered in.

How do we ascend to Christ?  St Benedict points us to the image of Jacob's ladder, particularly apposite here given the repeated references to Jacob's house, where by we ascend by humility, and descend by self-exaltation.

St Bede links the degrees of humility with the key messages of the fifteen Gradual Psalms (which correspond to the fifteen steps to the top of the inner court of the Temple, and ten of which are said Tuesday to Saturday in the Benedictine Office), noting that:
For the steps that come down from the city of David to the lower parts of the city of Jerusalem are the aids of divine inspiration or protection by which we should ascend to his kingdom. For David made the steps by which we should ascend to his city when divine mercy taught us the order of the virtues by which we may seek heavenly things and when it granted us the gift of seeking these same virtues….Benedict, a father very reverend both in his name and in his life, realized that these steps especially consist in humility when, interpreting our journey to celestial things to be designated by the ladder shown to the Patriarch Jacob, by which angels ascended and descended, he distinguished in a very careful and pious examination the steps of the ladder itself as the increments and stages of good works that are performed through humility. (On Ezra and Nehemiah, trans DeGregorio, pg 172)
We need then, to return to Chapter 7 of the Benedictine Rule, and the Gradual Psalms (Psalm 119-133) and work on our ascent through humility, for only by converting ourselves can we convert others.

Isaiah 1:16-28 (Monday in the first week of Advent)


Reading 1: Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely,  Learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.

Reading 2: If you be willing, and will hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the land. But if you will not, and will provoke me to wrath: the sword shall devour you because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. How is the faithful city, that was full of judgment, become a harlot? justice dwelt in it, but now murderers.  Thy silver is turned into dross: thy wine is mingled with water. Thy princes are faithless, companions of thieves: they all love bribes, the run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless: and the widow' s cometh not in to them.

Reading 3: Therefore saith the Lord the God of hosts, the mighty one of Israel: Ah! I will comfort myself over my adversaries: and I will be revenged of my enemies. And I will turn my hand to thee, and I will clean purge away thy dress, and I will take away all thy tin.  And I will restore thy judges as they were before, and thy counsellors as of old. After this thou shalt be called the city of the just, a faithful city.  Sion shall be redeemed in judgment, and they shall bring her back in justice. And he shall destroy the wicked, and the sinners together: and they that have forsaken the Lord, shall be consumed.

Reflection

This passage paints a vivid picture of corruption in the Church, and its causes, namely leaders running after earthly acclaim rather than seeking God.

The remedy is clear and uncompromising: turn away from evil and do good, or be expelled from any hope of heaven.

And on the subject of law-givers and princes of the Church (though they mostly disdain that title these days),  The Catholic Thing has an interesting post well worth a read called The Silence of the Lions.  It poses the question of what would have happened if all the bishops, and not just one or two had stood firm at key points in history: if more had stood with St John Fisher against Henry VIII, or with Bishop von Galen against the Nazis for example.

We live in a world where secularism reigns, and many in the Church seem bent on a policy of appeasement rather than defence of truth.  Scripture and the Fathers offer many warnings about the consequences of such a policy, not least in these readings set for Advent, when we contemplate not just the first coming of Christ, but also his return in judgment.


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Matins readings for the First Sunday of Advent

The readings and responsories for the first Sunday of Advent according to the 1963 breviary are set out below - note that that the first responsory is more elaborate than usual, and includes the Gloria Patri.  Here is a version of it to meditate to.



Nocturn I: Isaiah 1: 1-11

Reading 1: The vision of Isaias the son of Amos I which he saw concerning Juda and Jerusalem in the days of Ozias, Joathan, Achaz, and Ezechias, kings of Juda.  Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken. I have brought up children, and exalted them: but they have despised me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood.

R. look from afar, and, behold, I see the Power of God coming, and a cloud covering all the land.
* Go ye out to meet Him, and say Tell us if Thou art He, That shalt reign over God's people Israel.
V. Both low and high, rich and poor together.
R. Go ye out to meet Him, and say.
V. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou That leadest Joseph like a flock.
R. Tell us if Thou art He.
V. Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.
R. That shalt reign over God's people Israel.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. I look from afar, and, behold, I see the Power of God coming, and a cloud covering all the land.
* Go ye out to meet Him, and say Tell us if Thou art He, That shalt reign over God's people Israel.

Reading 2: Woe to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a wicked seed, ungracious children: they have forsaken the Lord, they have blasphemed the Holy One of Israel, they are gone away backwards. For what shall I strike you any more, you that increase transgression? the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad. From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head, there is no soundness therein: wounds and bruises and swelling sores: they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.

R. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and there was given Him a Kingdom, and glory* And all people, nations, and languages shall serve Him.
V. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
R. And all people, nations, and languages shall serve Him.

Reading 3: Your land is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire: your country strangers devour before your face, and it shall be desolate as when wasted by enemies. And the daughter of Sion shall be left as a covert in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a city that is laid waste.
Except the Lord of hosts had left us seed, we had been as Sodom, and we should have been like to Gomorrha.

R. The Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a Virgin espoused to Joseph, to bring unto her the word of the Lord and when the Virgin saw the light she was afraid. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace from the Lord.* Behold, thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest.
V. The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.
R. Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest.

Reading 4: Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom, give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrha. To what purpose do you offer me the multitude of your victims, saith the Lord? I am full, I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck goats.

R. Receive, O Virgin Mary, receive the word of the Lord, which is sent thee by His Angel thou shalt conceive, and shalt bring forth God and Man together.* And thou shalt be called blessed among all women.
V. Thou shalt bring forth a son, and remain a maiden undefiled thou shalt conceive and be a Mother, still Virgin unspotted.
R. And thou shalt be called blessed among all women.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And thou shalt be called blessed among all women.

Nocturn II: Sermon 19 of St Leo the Great

Reading 5: Our Saviour Himself instructed His disciples concerning the times and seasons of the coming of the Kingdom of God and the end of the world, and He hath given the same teaching to the Church by the mouth of His Apostles. In connection with this subject then, Our Lord biddeth us beware lest we let our hearts grow heavy through excess of meat and drink, and worldly thoughts. Dearly beloved brethren, we know how that this warning applieth particularly to us. We know that that day is coming, and though for a season we know not the very hour> yet this we know, that it is near.

R. Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee* The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee therefore also that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
V. How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the Angel answered and said unto her,
R. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Reading 6:  Let every man then make himself ready against the coming of the Lord, so that He may not find him making his belly his god, or the world his chief care. Dearly beloved brethren, it is a matter of every day experience that fulness of drink dulleth the keenness of the mind, and that excess of eating unnerveth the strength of the will. The very stomach protesteth that gluttony doth harm to the bodily health, unless temperance get the better of desire, and the thought of the indigestion afterward check the indulgence of the moment.

R. We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ* Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious Body.
V. We should live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God.
R. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious Body.

Reading 7: The body without the soul hath no desires; its sensibility cometh from the same source as its movements. And it is the duty of a man with a reasonable soul to deny something to his lower nature and to keep back the outer man from things unseemly. Then will his soul, free from fleshly cravings, sit often at leisure in the palace of the mind, dwelling on the wisdom of God. There, when the roar and rattle of earthly cares are stilled, will she feed on holy thoughts and entertain herself with the expectation of the everlasting joy.

R. O my Lord, send I pray thee, Him Whom Thou wilt send; see the affliction of thy people. As Thou hast promised, come* And deliver us.
V. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou That leadest Joseph like a flock, Thou That sittest upon the Cherubim!
R. As Thou hast promised, come.

Reading 8: And, although this is difficult to maintain in this life, yet the attempt can frequently be renewed, in order that we may the oftener and longer be occupied with spiritual rather than fleshly cares; and by our spending ever greater portions of our time on higher cares, even our temporal actions may end in gaining the incorruptible riches.

R. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains, for our Lord will come * And will have mercy on His afflicted.
V. In His days shall righteousness flourish and abundance of peace.
R. And will have mercy upon His afflicted.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And will have mercy upon His afflicted.

Nocturn III: St Gregory the Great, Homily 1 on the Gospels

Reading 9: Our Lord and Saviour wisheth to find us ready at His second coming. Therefore He telleth us what will be the evils of the world as it groweth old, that He may wean our hearts from worldly affections. Here we read what great convulsions will go before the end, that, if we will not fear God in our prosperity, we may at least be scourged into fearing His judgment when it is at hand.

R. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, saith the Lord* And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.
V. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom for ever.
R. And His name shall be called Wonderful, the Mighty God.

Reading 10: Immediately before the passage which hath just been read from the Gospel, are found the following words of our Lord, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and pestilences and famines. Then, after a few more verses, cometh to-day's Gospel. There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring. Now some of these things are come to pass already, and we fear the others are not far off.

R. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the ends of the earth
* And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.
V. Declare it and make it known, lift up your voice and cry aloud.
R. And in the isles afar off, and say Our Saviour shall come.

Reading 11: In these our days we see nation rise against nation, and their distress over all the earth, more than we read in books hath ever come to pass of old time. Ye know also how often we hear of earthquakes overwhelming countless cities in other parts of the world. As for pestilences, we suffer from them ourselves, with hardly any intermission. As yet we do not see signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; but the changes of seasons and climates warn us that we may look for these also before long.

R. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch; and a King shall reign in wisdom and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth * and this is His name whereby He shall be called The Lord our Righteous one.
V. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.
R. and this is His name whereby He shall be called The Lord our Righteous one.

Reading 12: There has not yet arisen any new disturbance of the sea and of the waves.  But since many prophecies have already been fulfulled, there is no doubt that the few which remain will also follow, for the accomplishment of that which has gone before is our certitude of that which is to follow.  For this reason, dearest brethren, that your minds may be alrt and zealous for your safety, lest, feeling secure, they remain inactive, and on account of ignorance they become weak.  But in all things let fear, on the one hand, rouse them up, and on the other hand, let solicitude for doing good strengthen them.

R. There shall no strangers pass through Jerusalem any more* For in that day the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey, saith the Lord.
V. God shall come from Lebanon, and the Holy One from the thick and shady mountain.
R. For in that day the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey, saith the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.

Gospel: St Luke 21:25-33 - 

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves;  Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; And then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.  And he spoke to them in a similitude. See the fig tree, and all the trees:  When they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled.  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.