Saturday, 1 October 2016

Matins readings for the first Sunday of October


Nocturn I: I Maccabees 1:1-16

Reading 1: Now it came to pass, after that Alexander the son of Philip the Macedonian, who first reigned in Greece, coming out of the land of Cethim, had overthrown Darius king of the Persians and Medes: He fought many battles, and took the strong holds of all, and slew the kings of the earth: And he went through even to the ends of the earth, and took the spoils of many nations: and the earth was quiet before him.

R. The Lord open your hearts in His law and commandments, and send peace in your days.* May He grant you salvation and redeem you out of all evil.
V. The Lord hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in the time of trouble.
R. May He grant you salvation and redeem you out of all evil.

Reading 2: And he gathered a power, and a very strong army: and his heart was exalted and lifted up.
And he subdued countries of nations, and princes: and they became tributaries to him. And after these things, he fell down upon his bed, and knew that he should die. And he called his servants the nobles that were brought up with him from his youth: and he divided his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive.

R. The Lord hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in the time of trouble
* Even He, the Lord our God.
V. Give you all an heart to serve Him, and to do His will.
R. Even He, the Lord our God.

Reading 3: And Alexander reigned twelve years, and he died. And his servants made themselves kings every one in his place: And they all put crowns upon themselves after his death, and their sons after them many years, and evils were multiplied in the earth. And there came out of them a wicked root, Antiochus the Illustrious, the son of king Antiochus, who had been a hostage at Rome: and he reigned in the hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

R. Our enemies are gathered together, and make their boast of their own strength. O Lord, break their power, and scatter them* That they may know that there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O our God!
V. Scatter them in thy strength, and destroy them, O Lord our Shield
R. That they may know that there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O our God

Reading 4: In those days there went out of Israel wicked men, and they persuaded many, saying: Let us go, and make a covenant with the heathens that are round about us: for since we departed from them, many evils have befallen us.And the word seemed good in their eyes. And some of the people determined to do this, and went to the king: and he gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathens. And they built a place of exercise in Jerusalem, according to the laws of the nations: And they made themselves prepuces, and departed from the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathens, and were sold to do evil.

R. Judas said unto Simon his brother: Choose thee out men, and go, and deliver thy brethren that are in Galilee and I, and Jonathan thy brother, will go into the country of Galaad.* As the Will is in heaven, so let it be.
V. Arm yourselves, ye valiant men, and be in readiness for it is better for us to die in battle, than to behold the calamities of our people, and our sanctuary.
R. As the Will is in heaven, so let it be.

Nocturn II: St Ambrose (Book of Duties I: 40)

Reading 5: There may perchance be some who are so blinded by the glory of war as to think there is no valour but warlike valour, and that the reason why I have taken up other subjects is that among us there is no warlike valour whereof to speak. But what was the valour of Josue the son of Nun, when in one battle he laid low five nations, and took prisoners their kings when he was fighting against the Gibeonites, and feared lest the closing in of night should cut short his victory, he cried aloud in the greatness of his mind and of his faith, And he said, in the sight of Israel Sun stand thou still over against Gibeon, and thou Moon over against the valley of Ajalon and the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Gideon, with three hundred men, won the victory over the vast people, and the savage enemy. The lad Jonathan waxed valiant in fight.

R. Be ye not afraid of the assault of the enemy remember how our fathers were delivered.* Now, therefore, let us cry unto heaven, and our God will have mercy upon us.
V.Remember His marvellous works that He hath done unto Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea.
R. Now, therefore, let us cry unto heaven, and our God will have mercy upon us.

Reading 6: Shall I speak of the Maccabees But before I speak of them, I will speak of their fathers, even of them who, when they were ready to fight for the Temple of God and for their own rights, were assailed by a trick of their enemies upon the Sabbath day, and were willing rather to offer their bodies naked to the sword than to strike back again and break the Sabbath, and so they gave themselves up gladly to death but when the Maccabees bethought them that the whole nation might thus perish, avenged the innocent blood of their brethren even upon the Sabbath day when they were provoked to battle, and afterward, when King Antiochus had been stirred up to make war on them by his generals, even Lysias and Nicanor and Gorgias, he and his Eastern and Assyrian forces were so crushed that forty and eight thousand were laid low on the field by three thousand.

R. The heathen are assembled together to fight against us, and we know not what we should do.
* Our eyes look unto thee, O Lord our God, that we should not perish.
V. What things they imagine against us, Thou knowest. How shall we be able to stand against them, except Thou be our help
R. Our eyes look unto thee, O Lord our God, that we should not perish.

Reading 7: What was the valour of Judas the Maccabean leader we may judge by the type of one of his men. When Eleazar saw an elephant bigger than the rest, and adorned with the King's harness, he thought that the King was riding thereon, and he threw himself into the midst of the enemy, and cast away his shield and slew on either hand until he was come to the beast, and ran underneath it, and killed it with his sword, and so the beast fell upon Eleazar and crushed him, and he died.

R. Thine, O Lord, is the power, thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted above all the heathen.* Give peace in our time, O Lord.
V. O Lord God, Creator of all things, Who art fearful and strong, righteous and merciful.
R. Give peace in our time, O Lord.

Reading 8: What valour was here To begin with, he feared not to die, and when the enemy surrounded him he cast himself into the midst of their ranks, pierced their column, and becoming all the fiercer through his mockery of death, he threw away his shield and upheld with both hands the huge bulk of the wounded monster beneath which he had gone the better to spite it, so that when he died with it he might well have been said not so much to be crushed as to be swallowed up in victory.

R. They decked the fore-front of the Temple with crowns of gold, and dedicated the Altar unto the Lord.* And there was very great gladness among the people.
V. They praised the Lord with Psalms and thanksgiving.
R. And there was very great gladness among the people.

Matins Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Nocturn III: Homily 28 of St Gregory the Great

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John: At that time: There was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. And so on.

My brethren, the passage from the Holy Gospel, which ye have just now heard, standeth in need of no explanation. But lest I should seem to pass the same by in idle silence, I will say somewhat thereon, but that rather by way of exhortation than of explanation. Indeed, there seemeth to me to be but one point which calleth for explanation, and that point is this Wherefore was it that when the nobleman went unto the Lord, and besought Him that He would come down and heal his son, Jesus said unto him: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” The very fact that he had come to beseech Christ to heal his son, putteth it beyond all doubt that this nobleman believed if he had not believed Him to be a Saviour, he would not have asked Him to save his son.

R. The sun shone upon the shields of gold, and the mountains glistered therewith;
* And the army of the heathens was spread abroad.
V. For the army was very great and mighty then Judas and his host drew near and entered into battle.
R. And the army of the heathens was spread abroad.

Reading 10: Wherefore then said Jesus unto him: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe," since he was one who had not seen, and yet had believed? But bethink you what was his prayer, and then shall ye understand clearly wherein his faith was shaky. He "besought Him that He would come down and heal his son." He asked for the bodily presence of Him Who is spiritually always present everywhere.

Reading 11: He believed not therefore enough in Christ, for he thought that He could not heal unless He were bodily present. Had his faith been perfect, he would doubtless have known that God is everywhere.This was therefore a grievously imperfect faith, in attributing the virtue not to Christ's Majesty, but to His bodily presence.

Reading 12: Thus it was that his faith was still unsound, even while he was asking for his son's health. For, though he believed concerning Him unto Whom he came that He was mighty to save, yet he thought also that at that moment He was absent from his dying child. But the Lord, being asked to go, showed that, wherever He is called on, He is there, and being He Who, by a simple act of will, brought all things into being, gave health by a simple command.

R. One Seraph cried unto another:* Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: John 4:46-53

He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him.
 The father therefore knew, that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dedication of St Michael the Archangel

Nocturn I: Daniel 7:9-11; 10:4-14

Reading 1
Lesson from the book of Daniel
Dan 7:9-11
9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days sat: his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool: his throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning fire.
10 A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld because of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke: and I saw that the beast was slain, and the body thereof was destroyed, and given to the fire to be burnt:
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. There was silence in heaven while the dragon fought against Michael the Archangel.* I heard the voice of thousands of thousands, saying: Salvation, and honour, and power unto God the Almighty.
V. Thousands of thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times hundreds of thousands stood before Him.
R. I heard the voice of thousands of thousands, saying: Salvation, and honour, and power unto God, the Almighty.

Reading 2:  And in the four and twentieth day of the first month I was by the great river which is the Tigris. And I lifted up my eyes, and I saw: and behold a man clothed in linen, and his loins were girded with the finest gold:  And his body was like the chrysolite, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as a burning lamp: and his arms, and all downward even to the feet, like in appearance to glittering brass: and the voice of his word like the voice of a multitude.

R. An Angel stood at the Altar of the temple, having a golden censer in his hand and there was given unto him much incense;
* And the smoke of the incense ascended up before the Lord, out of the Angel's hand.
V. Before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee; I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, O Lord.
R. And the smoke of the incense ascended up before the Lord, out of the Angel's hand.

Reading 3: And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw it not: but an exceeding great terror fell upon them, and they fled away, and hid themselves. And I being left alone saw this great vision: and there remained no strength in me, and the appearance of my countenance was changed in me, and I fainted away, and retained no strength. And I heard the voice of his words: and when I heard, I lay in a consternation, upon my face, and my face was close to the ground.

R. Before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee, and will worship toward thy holy temple * And I will praise thy Name, O Lord.
V. For thy loving kindness, and for thy truth; for Thou hast glorified thine holy Name on us.
R. And I will praise thy Name, O Lord.

Reading 4: And behold a hand touched me, and lifted me up upon my knees, and upon the joints of my hands. And he said to me: Daniel, thou man of desires, understand the words that I speak to thee, and stand upright: for I am sent now to thee. And when he had said this word to me, I stood trembling. And he said to me: Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, to afflict thyself in the sight of thy God, thy words have been heard: and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians. But I am come to teach thee what things shall befall thy people in the latter days, for as yet the vision is for days.

Nocturn II: Sermon 34 on the Gospels of St Gregory the Great

Reading 5: We say that there are nine Orders of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Mights, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four Orders, where he saith: "The Father of glory raised (Christ) from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all Principality, and Power, and Might, and Dominion, (and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.)" And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith: "By (the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers; (all things were created by Him and for Him.)" If, then, we add the Thrones to the four Orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five Orders; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the Orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.

R. This is Michael, who to battle leads the armies of the skies* Whosoever on him calleth blessed within his wardship lies. His a prayer whose voice availing aids from earth toward heaven to rise.
V. The Archangel Michael is the Vice-Roy of Paradise, and the Angels that are the dwellers therein, do hold him in worship.
R. Whosoever on him calleth blessed within his wardship lies. His a prayer whose voice availing aids from earth toward heaven to rise.

Reading 6: But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office. Those holy spirits in the.heavenly fatherland are always spirits, but they may no wise be always called Angels, (which is, being interpreted, messengers,) for they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist: Who makest spirits thine Angels! as if it were, Of them who are always with Him as spirits, He doth somewhiles make use as Messengers.

R. Where Angels lead the spirits of the blessed dead the glad procession moves with Michael at its head
* To lead them into the garden of Eden.
V. Lord, send thy Holy Spirit from heaven the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
R. To lead them into the garden of Eden.

Reading 7: They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels they who go on the greater Archangels. Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth: Who-is-like-unto-God? Gabriel, the Strength-of-God, and Raphael, the Medicine-of-God.

R. At that time shall Michael stand up, which standeth for your children.
* And there shall be a time, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.
V. At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the Book of Life.
R. And there shall be a time, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.

Reading 8: As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will be like the Most High, this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shown unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John: There was war in heaven Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted the Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of Him Who was content to appear lowly that He might fight down the powers of the air. Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth the Medicine-of-God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome on Matthew 3

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And so on.

After the finding of the piece of money in the fish's mouth, after the payment of the tribute, what meaneth this sudden question of the Apostles? Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They had seen that the same tribute-money was paid for Peter as for the Lord, and from this equality of reckoning they gathered that Peter was Prince of all the Apostles, seeing that he had been appraised at the same price as his Master. Therefore they ask, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, and understanding wherefore they erred, is fain to take away the desire of glory by the love of lowliness.

R. Be not ye afraid before the Gentiles, but in your hearts, worship ye the Lord, and fear Him
* For His Angel is with you.
V. An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple, having a golden censer in his hand.
R. For His Angel is with you.

Reading 10: Therefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! because by his sin he maketh, and maketh to be his own work, that which must needs be in the world. Away, then, with every affection and every kinship, lest thy love should throw a stumbling-block before a single believer.

R. The Archangel Michael came to help God's people.* He arose to succour the spirits of the righteous.
V. An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple, having a golden censer in his hand.
R. He arose to succour the spirits of the righteous.

Reading 11: Be there any, saith He, who is as near to thee as thine hand, thy foot, or thine eye, useful, careful, far-seeing, but who layeth a stumbling-block before thee, and whose diverse way of life may draw thee to hell it is better for thee to lose such an one and thy worldly happiness with him, than to live surrounded by them that are near and needful to thee, and to pile up unto thyself damnation.

Reading 12: I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father. Above, He had said that every tie of kinship or of convenience which might become a stumbling-block, albeit close and needful as hand, or foot, or eye, was to be cut off, but here He softeneth the hardness of that precept: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. Hardness, saith He, I command not save as teaching tenderness withal; in heaven their Angels do always behold the face of My Father. Oh, how great is the dignity of souls, whereof every one hath from its birth an Angel appointed to guard it! Hence, we read in the Revelation of John unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, (and so of the others,) write, And the Apostle (Paul) also saith: The woman (that is, in the Church) ought to have a covering on her head, because of the Angels.

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-10

The disciples came to Jesus at this time and said, Tell us, who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Whereupon Jesus called to his side a little child, to whom he gave a place in the midst of them, and said, Believe me, unless you become like little children again, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. He is greatest in the kingdom of heaven who will abase himself like this little child. He who gives welcome to such a child as this in my name, gives welcome to me. And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!  If thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of falling to thee, cut it off and cast it away from thee; better for thee to enter into life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet when thou art cast into eternal fire. And if thy eye is an occasion of falling to thee, pluck it out and cast it away from thee; better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes when thou art cast into the fires of hell. See to it that you do not treat one of these little ones with contempt; I tell you, they have angels of their own in heaven, that behold the face of my heavenly Father continually. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday of September (Nocturns I&II)



Nocturn I: Judith 1:1-12;2:1-3


Reading 1: Now Arphaxad king of the Medes had brought many nations under his dominions, and he built a very strong city, which he called Ecbatana, Of stones squared and hewed: he made the walls thereof seventy cubits broad, and thirty cubits high, and the towers thereof he made a hundred cubits high. But on the square of them, each side was extended the space of twenty feet.  And he made the gates thereof according to the height of the towers: And he gloried as a mighty one in the force of his army and in the glory of his chariots.

R. O Adonai, O Lord God, Thou art great and glorious. Who hast given salvation into the hand of a woman:* Graciously hear the prayers of thy servants.
V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who failest none that put their trust in thee, and humblest such as boast themselves in their own strength.
R. Graciously hear the prayers of thy servants.

Reading 2: Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him, In the great plain which is called Ragua, about the Euphrates, and the Tigris, and the Jadason, in the plain of Erioch the king of the Elicians. Then was the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor exalted, and his heart was elevated: and he sent to all that dwelt in Cilicia and Damascus, and Libanus, And to the nations that are in Carmelus, and Cedar, and to the inhabitants of Galilee in the great plain of Asdrelon, And to all that were in Samaria, and beyond the river Jordan even to Jerusalem, and all the land of Jesse till you come to the borders of Ethiopia.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 3: To all these Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, sent messengers:  But they all with one mind refused, and sent them back empty, and rejected them without honour. Then king Nabuchodonosor being angry against all that land, swore by his throne and kingdom that he would revenge himself of all those countries.

R. The Lord bless thee by His power, Who hath brought our enemies to nought through thee.
* And may the praise of thee never fail from the mouth of men.
V. Blessed be the Lord, Who hath created the heaven and the earth, because that He hath so glorified thy name this day.
R. And may the praise of thee never fail from the mouth of men.

Reading 4:  In the thirteenth year of the reign of Nabuchodonosor, the two and twentieth day of the first month, the word was given out in the house of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, that he would revenge himself.  And he called all the ancients, and all the governors, and his officers of war, and communicated to them the secret of his counsel:  And he said that his thoughts were to bring all the earth under his empire.

Nocturn II: St Ambrose on Elijah and fasting

Reading 5: It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink, lest they drink and forget the law. The rulers drank wine even unto drunkenness, who planned to deliver themselves into the hand of Holofernes, captain of the host of the King of the Assyrians but the woman Judith drank not, who fasted all the days of her widowhood, saving the solemn Feast-days. She went forth in the harness of this abstinence, and over - reached the whole army of the Assyrians. By the clear thought of her soberness she took away the head of Holofernes, kept her chastity, and carried off the victory.

R. We know no strange God before the Lord. In Him we trust.
* He despiseth us not, neither putteth He away His salvation from our nation.
V. His mercy let us seek with tears, and humble our souls before Him.
R. He despiseth us not, neither putteth He away His salvation from our nation.

Reading 6: Armed with fasting, she entered the camp of the strangers he lay soaked in wine, so that he could not feel the blow that slew him. And thus the fast of one woman overthrew the countless armies of the Assyrians. Esther also became fairer by fasting for the Lord gave favour unto her for her soberness. She delivered all her nation, that is, the whole people of the Jews, from the fierceness of persecution, so that she brought down the King himself under her will.

R. O Lord, Ruler of the heavens and of the earth, Maker of the waters, King of every creature,
* Graciously hear the prayer of thy servants.
V. Thou, O Lord, unto Whom the supplications of the humble and meek are alway well-pleasing
R. Graciously hear the prayer of thy servants.

Reading 7: Thus also (Esther) who fasted three days, and washed her body with water, found greater favour, and obtained vengeance, whereas Haman, who boasted himself at the King's table, paid the penalty of his drunkenness, even while yet he was in his cups. Fasting, therefore, is a sacrifice of reconciliation, a means of strength, whereby in the might of grace, women wax manful.

R. O Lord God, That breakest the battles from of old, lift up thine arm against the Gentiles, that devise evil against thy servants.* And let thy right hand be glorified in us.
V. Throw down their strength in thy power, and bring down their force in thy wrath.
R. And let thy right hand be glorified in us.

Reading 8: Fasting knoweth not usury, nor the gain of the usurer the faster's table smelleth not of usury, but the fast itself giveth favour to them that sit at meat. A banquet is all the pleasanter after hunger, whereas by constant use it becometh unattractive, and when it is long carried on cometh to be lightly esteemed. Fasting is a good sauce for meat. The keener the appetite, the more toothsome the food.

V I have never put my hope in any other but in You, O God of Israel*who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
R: Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth be mindful of our lowliness
V: who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
R: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and the Holy Ghost
V: who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man

Matins readings for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost



Nocturn III (Homily 38 on the Gospels by Pope St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: I remember that I have often said that, in the Holy Gospel, the Church as she now is, is called the kingdom of heaven, for the kingdom of heaven is indeed the assembly of the righteous. The Lord hath said by the mouth of His Prophet The heaven is My throne.  Solomon saith The throne of wisdom is the soul of the righteous. And Paul saith that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. From these passages we may clearly gather that if wisdom be God, and wisdom's throne be the soul of the righteous, and God's throne be the heaven, then the soul of the righteous is heaven. Hence also the Psalmist saith, speaking of holy preachers The heavens declare the glory of God.

R. Strengthen me, O King, Who reignest over the holy ones.* Put Thou in my mouth clear and well-sounding words.
V. O Lord, King of all forces, turn back their device upon themselves.
R. Put Thou in my mouth clear and well-sounding words.

Reading 10: The kingdom of heaven, therefore, is the Church of the righteous, even of them whose hearts seek not for anything upon earth, but who sigh so continually after the things which are above, that God doth already reign in them as He doth in heaven. Let it then be said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. Ye already understand, my loving friends, who is that Royal Father of a Royal Son. It is indeed no other than He to Whom the Psalmist saith : Give the King thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King's son.

Reading 11: Which made a marriage for his son. God the Father made a marriage for God the Son, when He wedded Him to the manhood in the womb of the Virgin, when He willed that He Who is God before all ages, should in the end of the ages become Man. The marriage union is the union of two persons, but God forbid that we should imagine that the One Person of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, Who is both God and Man, is formed by a union of an human person with a Divine Person.

Reading 12: We profess concerning Him that He is of, and in two natures, but we shrink from the blasphemy of saying that He is compounded of two persons. It will therefore be clearer and safer to say that the marriage which the Father made for His Royal Son was the wedding Him, through the mystery of the Incarnation, to His mystic Bride the Holy Church. The womb of the Maiden Mother was the marriage chamber in which this union took place. Hence it is that the Psalmist saith: In the sun hath He set His tabernacle, Who is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

R. One Seraph cried unto another:
* Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come.  Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my calves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage.  But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city.  Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy.  Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage.  And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment.  And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent.  Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ember Saturday of September

The readings for Ember Saturday are from St Gregory's Homily 31 on the Gospels.

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke: At that time, Jesus spake unto the multitudes this parable: A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. And so on.

Our Lord and Redeemer speaketh unto us sometimes by words, and sometimes by deeds, sometimes one thing by words, and another by deeds, and sometimes the same thing both by word and deed. In the portion of the Gospel which hath this day been read, ye have heard, my brethren, two things, the parable of the fig-tree and the history of the woman which was bowed together. In both is a manifestation of the Lord's mercy, but in the one by a parable, in the other by an example. But the barren fig-tree signifieth the same thing as doth the woman bowed together, and the patience shown to the fig-tree the same thing as doth the healing of the woman bowed together.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 2: What is the fig-tree a type, but of mankind? Of what is the woman bowed together by a spirit of infirmity a type, but of the same mankind? Man was originally placed in a garden like the fig-tree, and created upright like the woman, but man fell away by his own willful fault like the fig-tree he brought forth no fruit like the woman he ceased to stand straight. When he willfully went into sin, because he would not bring forth the fruit of obedience, he lost his uprightness. The nature which had been created in the image of God, continued not in honour, but cast aside the state wherein it had been placed and made. The lord of the vineyard came thrice to the fig-tree, for God hath come in hope, and in warning, seeking fruit from mankind under three successive dispensations, that is to say, before the law, under the law, and under grace.

Reading 3: It came before the law, in that by natural understanding, He let all know by example of Himself, what and how they should do toward their neighbor. In the law He came teaching. After the law He came by grace, opening, manifesting His merciful Presence. But after all these three years He yet hath to complain that He findeth no fruit upon the fig-tree, for there are still some degraded minds which the inborn voice of the natural law doth not control, which the commandments do not teach, and which the wonders of the Incarnation itself do not convert. Of what is the dresser of the vineyard a type, but of the Episcopacy? For these are they who have the government in the Church, and are therefore truly called the dressers of the Lord's vineyard.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ember Friday of September

The readings for the Ember Friday are the same as in the Roman Office, viz, taken from St Gregory's Homily 33 on the Gospels:

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke: At that time, one of the Pharisees desired that Jesus would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And so on.

Of what is the Pharisee that was exalted by self-righteousness a type, but of the Jewish people? And of what the woman which was a sinner and came and wept at the Lord's feet, but of the conversion of the Gentiles? She brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His Feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His Feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Of us, therefore, even of us, was that woman a type, if after our sins we turn unto the Lord with all our heart, and imitate the example of her repentant grief. And of what is the ointment a type, but of the sweet savour of a good reputation? Whence also Paul saith: In every place we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.

R. Our poverty was enough for us, that it might have been accounted riches. O that the money had never been, for which thou hast sent away our son,* The staff of our old age.
V. Alas my son, wherefore have we sent thee wandering, even thee, the light of our eyes
R. The staff of our old age.

Reading 2: If therefore we do good works, whereby we gain for the Church the savour of good reputation, what do we but pour ointment upon the body of the Lord? But the woman stood at the Feet of Jesus, behind Him we stood opposite to the Feet of the Lord, what time we were in sin, and went contrary unto His ways. But when we turn again, and truly repent us of our sins, we stand behind His Feet, for we follow His footsteps against Whom we once contended. The woman washed His Feet with her tears and we do in very deed the same when we show the tenderness of sympathy to any of His humbler members, when we feel with His Saints in their tribulations, when we make their woes our own.

R. Bless the God of heaven, and confess Him before all living:* For He hath had mercy upon you.
V. Bless Him, and sing praises unto Him, and tell of all His marvellous works.
R. For He hath had mercy upon you.

Reading 3: She wipes the Lord's Feet with our hair when we give charity, even out of such things as we have ourselves no need of, to His holy ones, with whom we feel in their trials, in as far as our heart so sympathizeth, that the bounty of our hand showeth the truth of our compassion. He washeth the Feet of the Redeemer, but wipeth them not with his hair, who feeleth for the sufferings of his neighbours, but nevertheless, relieveth them not, even out of such things as he himself hath no need for. He weepeth, but wipeth not, who offereth words of tenderness, but sootheth not sorrow by giving such things as be lacking. The woman kissed the Feet and we do fully the same, if we warmly love those whom out of bounty we support, so that the neediness of our neighbour is not grievous unto us, nor the penury which we relieve a weariness to us, nor, when the hand is giving what is needful, the heart is untouched by compassion.

R. It is time for me to return unto Him That sent me;* But bless ye God, and tell of all His marvelous works.
V. Confess Him before all living, for He hath had mercy upon you.
R. But bless ye God, and tell of all His marvelous works.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. But bless ye God, and tell of all His marvelous works.