Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Feast of the Ascension

The readings for Matins of the Ascension in the Benedictine Office (1963):

Nocturn I (Acts 1: 1-3; 4-8; 9-11; 12-14)

Reading 1: The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach,  Until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

R. Post passionem suam per dies quadraginta apparens eis, et loquens de regno Dei, alleluia:
* Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
V. Et convescens praecepit eis, ab Ierosolymis ne discederent, sed exspectarent promissionem Patris.
R. Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
R. Being seen of them forty days after that He had suffered, and speaking of the kingdom of God. Alleluia. * And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.
V. And, eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father.
R. And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.

Reading 2: And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth.  For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power:  But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

R. Omnis pulchritudo Domini exaltata est super sidera:
* Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
V. A summo caelo egressio eius, et occursus eius usque ad summum eius.
R. Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
R. The Lord hath set His beauty above the stars; * His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.
V. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it.
R. His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.

Reading 3: And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

R. Exaltare, Domine, alleluia, * In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Elevata est magnificentia tua super caelos, Deus.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
R. Be Thou exalted, O Lord. Alleluia. * In thine Own strength. Alleluia.
V. O God, Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens.
R. In thine Own strength. Alleluia.

Reading 4: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day' s journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

R: Non vos relinquam orphanos. Alleluia.  Vado, et venio ad vos. Alleluia. * Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
V: In illo die vos cognoscetis quia ego sum in Patre meo, et vos in me, et ego in vobis.
R: Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
R: I will not leave you orphans, Alleluia.   I go, and I will come to you. Alleluia. * And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V: In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
R: And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Nocturn II (sermon 73 of St Leo)

Reading 5: After the blessed and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein the Divine Power raised up in three days the true Temple of God Which the iniquity of the Jews had destroyed J God was pleased to ordain, by His Most Sacred Will, and in His Providence for our instruction and the profit of our souls, a season of forty days which season, dearly beloved brethren, doth end on this day. During that season the bodily Presence of the Lord still lingered on earth, that the reality of the fact of His having risen again from the dead might be armed with all needful proofs.

R. Tempus est, ut revertar ad eum, qui me misit, dicit Dominus; nolite contristari, nec turbetur cor vestrum:
* Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Nisi ego abiero, Paraclitus non veniet: cum assumptus fuero, mittam vobis eum.
R. Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
R. My time is come that I should return unto Him That sent Me, saith the Lord. Be not sorrowful, neither let your heart be troubled. * I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you where I am ascended, I will send Him unto you.
R. I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: The death of Christ had troubled the hearts of many of His disciples their thoughts were sad when they remembered His agony upon the Cross, His giving up of the Ghost, and the laying in the grave of His lifeless Body, and a sort of hesitation had begun to weigh on them.Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been fearful at the finishing on the Cross, and doubtful of the trustworthiness of the rising again, were so strengthened by the clear demonstration of the fact, that, when they saw the Lord going up into the height of heaven, they sorrowed not, nay they were even filled with great joy.

R. Non turbetur cor vestrum: ego vado ad Patrem; et cum assumptus fuero a vobis, mittam vobis, alleluia, * Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia.
V. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis.
R. Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia
R. Let not your heart be troubled I go unto the Father, and when I am taken from you, I will send unto you, alleluia, * The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.
R. The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Reading 7: And, in all verity, it was a great an unspeakable cause for joy to see the Manhood, in the presence of that the multitude of believers, exalted above all creatures even heavenly, rising above the ranks of the angelic armies and speeding Its glorious way where the most noble of the Archangels lie far behind, to rest no lower than that place where high above all principality and power, It taketh Its seat at the right hand of the Eternal Father, Sharer of His throne, and Partaker of His glory, and still of the very man's nature which the Son hath taken upon Him.

R. Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem, * Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Ascendit Deus in iubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae.
R. Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
R. When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive * He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
R. He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 8: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us also rejoice with worthy joy, for the Ascension of Christ is exaltation for us, and whither the glory of the Head of the Church is passed in, thither is the hope of the body of the Church called on to follow. Let us rejoice with exceeding great joy, and give God glad thanks. This day is not only the possession of Paradise made sure unto us, but in the Person of our Head we are actually begun to enter into the heavenly mansions above. Through the unspeakable goodness of Christ we have gained more than ever we lost by the envy of the devil. We, whom our venomous enemy thrust from our first happy home, we, being made of one body with the Son of God, have by Him been given a place at the right hand of the Father with Whom He liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

R: Ascendit Deus in jubilo, alleluia *  et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Gloria Patri...
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
R: God is ascended with jubilee, alleluia *and the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Christ ascending on high, he led captivity captive
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Glory be…
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia

Nocturn III  (from St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: I may be allowed to say that the disciples' slowness to believe that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, was not so much their weakness as our strength. In consequence of their doubts, the fact of the Resurrection was demonstrated by many infallible proofs. These proofs we read and acknowledge. What then assureth our faith, if not their doubt For my part, I put my trust in Thomas, who doubted long, much more than in Mary Magdalene, who believed at once. Through his doubting, he came actually to handle the holes of the Wounds, and thereby closed up any wound of doubt in our hearts.

R. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis,* Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
V. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos; si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
R. Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
R. I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, * That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.
V. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
R. That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.

Reading 10: Now confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke. "Eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem and a little afterward: "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Consider these words, note well these mysteries. After "eating together with them He was taken up." He ate and ascended: that the fact of His eating might show the reality of the Body in Which He went up. 


R. Ponis nubem ascensum tuum, Domine: * Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.
V. Confessionem et decorem induisti, amictus lumen sicut vestimentum.
R. Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.

R. Thou makest the clouds the chariot, O Lord, * Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.
V. Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, covering thyself with light as with a garment;
R. Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.

Reading 11: But Mark telleth us that before the Lord ascended into heaven He upbraided His disciples; with their unbelief and hardness of heart. From this I know not why we should gather, but that the Lord then upbraided His disciples, for whom He was about to be parted in the body, to the end that the words which He spoke unto them as He left them might be the deeper imprinted on their hearts.


R: Viri Galilæi, quid admiramini aspicientes in cælum? alleluia * quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
V: Cumque intuerentur in cælum euntem illum, ecce duo viri astiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis,qui et dixerunt
R: Quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
R. Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? Alleluia. * As you have seen him going into heaven, so shall he come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.
V.  And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.who also said:
R. As you have seen him going into heaven, shall so come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 12: When then, He had rebuked the hardness of their heart, who command did He give them Let us hear. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Was the Holy Gospel, then my brethren, to be preached to thing insensate, or to brute beasts, that the Lord said to His disciples "Preach the Gospel to every creature." Nay but by the words "every creature" we must understand man, in whom are combined qualities of all creatures. Being he hath in common with stones, life in common with trees, feeling in common with beasts, understanding in common with angels. If, then, man hath something in common with every creature, man is to a certain extent every creature. The Gospel, then, if it be preached to man only, is preached to every creature.



R. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos: si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
* Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Non enim loquetur a semetipso: sed quaecumque audiet, loquetur: et quae ventura sunt, annuntiabit vobis.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
R. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you: * And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.

The Gospel for the feast of the Ascension is from St Mark 16:

At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again.  And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues.  They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.  And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.  But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Vigil of the Ascension

The Vigil of the Ascension has one nocturn, with readings from Homily 104 of St Augustine on St John:

Reading 1:Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John: At that time Jesus lifted up His Eyes to heaven, and spake these words Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo: Our Lord, the Only-begotten and coeternal Son of the Father, was able, if need were, in and from the form of a servant, to pray in silence but He thus manifested Himself in prayer, remembering that He is our Teacher. Thus He made known unto us the prayer which He made for us since He was so great a Master that, not only His discourse to them, but His prayer to the Father for them, is an up-building to His disciples. And if it was so for them who were there to hear, truly it is so for us also for whose instruction it hath been written down.

R. Deus canticum novum cantabo tibi, alleluia: * In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Deus meus es tu, et confitebor tibi: Deus meus es tu, et exaltabo te.
R. In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
R. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God Alleluia. * Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee Thou art my God, and I will exalt thee.
R. Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.


Reading 2: Wherefore, by these words: " Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son" He showeth that all time, and all whatsoever He doth, or alloweth to be done, and the season wherein He will do or allow it, is alike ordained of Him Who is Himself not subject to time. Yea, all things which were then to come, or are yet to come now, have the reason why they should be, in the Wisdom of God, Which is Itself independent of all time. " The hour is come." We must not believe that that hour was brought on by the march of destiny, but was by ordination of God. No stars decreed irresistibly that the time was come for Christ to suffer God forbid that the revolutions of His planets should force death on Him Who made them.

R. Bonum est confiteri Domino, alleluia: * Et psallere, alleluia.
V. In decachordo psalterio, cum cantico et cithara.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
R. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord Alleluia * And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the harp with a solemn sound.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.

Reading 3: Come think that the glorification of the Son by the Father was that "He spared Him not, but delivered Him up for us all." But if we say that He was glorified by suffering, how much more shall we say that He was glorified by rising again While He suffered, His humbleness was more manifested than His glory, as witnesseth the Apostle, where he saith "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" then he addeth touching His glorification "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."  This is the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, that glorification whose first rays dawned on the Resurrection morning.

R: Alleluia audivimus ea in Ephrata invenimus eam in campis silvae * introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
V: Surge domine in requiem tuam tu et arca sanctificationis tuae
R: introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
R: Alleluia. Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.* We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
V: Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.
R: We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.

Revelation 7: 9-8:1 The meaning of the seventh seal

BambergApocalypseFolio018vHomageToLamb.JPG
Bamburger Apocalypse

The second half of Revelation chapter 7 can be read two ways, according to St Bede.  On the one hand, it can be read as taking us to the ultimate triumph of the Church:
...he returns to the previous order, and announces the glory of those who are to overcome the wickedness of the last persecution. And that which follows, “From all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues,” may also be thus understood, that, after enumerating the tribes of Israel, to whom the Gospel was first preached, he desires to make mention of the salvation of the Gentiles as well.
But it can also be read, he suggests, as talking of the here and now:
The vision of the white-robed multitude may also be understood of the present time, when “we are saved in hope,” and “hoping for that which we see not, in patience wait for it.” 
Post hæc vidi turbam magnam, quam dinumerare nemo poterat, ex omnibus gentibus, et tribubus, et populis, et linguis: stantes ante thronum, et in conspectu Agni, amicti stolis albis, et palmæ in manibus eorum:
After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands:

St Bede explains that:
By “robes” he signifies baptism, by “palms” the triumph of the Cross, and he intimates that in Christ they have overcome the world. But robes may also double the glory which is given by the Holy Spirit.
10 et clamabant voce magna, dicentes: Salus Deo nostro, qui sedet super thronum, et Agno.
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.

That is:
They proclaim with a loud voice, that is, with great devotion, an unceasing praise, that on the throne, namely, in the Church, there reign the Father and the Son; the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, reigning together with them. For it is said, “To Him Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb;” in the same manner as it is said in the Gospel, “And may know Thee, the true and only God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent;” in which place, “may know the only and true God” is understood.
11 Et omnes angeli stabant in circuitu throni, et seniorum, et quatuor animalium: et ceciderunt in conspectu throni in facies suas, et adoraverunt Deum,
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God,

St Bede takes angels to be a generic term here:
In all the angels he has represented the persons of the great multitude worshipping the Lord. “All they,” he says, “who are round about Him will offer gifts.”
12 dicentes: Amen. Benedictio, et claritas, et sapientia, et gratiarum actio, honor, et virtus, et fortitudo Deo nostro in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
12 Saying: Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

St Bede draws attention to the seven different terms used here:
The Church offers the sevenfold praise of excellence unto the Lord, and in each of its members confesses to have received this from Him.
13 Et respondit unus de senioribus et dixit mihi: Hi, qui amicti sunt stolis albis, qui sunt? et unde venerunt?
13 And one of the ancients answered, and said to me: These that are clothed in white robes, who are they? and whence came they?

St Bede notes that this is a rhetorical question:
He asks for this end, that he may teach.
14 Et dixi illi: Domine mi, tu scis. Et dixit mihi: Hi sunt, qui venerunt de tribulatione magna, et laverunt stolas suas, et dealbaverunt eas in sanguine Agni.
14 And I said to him: My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me: These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

St Bede points out that though the way of the cross is common to all Christians, the trials of the end times will be much greater:
“Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God,” but who knows not that the tribulation of Antichrist will be greater than all the rest?
All Christians, though, are washed in the blood of the lamb:
He speaks not of martyrs alone. They are washed in their own blood. But the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, cleanses the whole Church from all sin, therefore are they before the throne of God. For they are accounted worthy to stand there together in the service of God, who in the midst of adverse things are faithful confessors of His Name.
15 Ideo sunt ante thronum Dei, et serviunt ei die ac nocte in templo ejus: et qui sedet in throno, habitabit super illos:
15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he, that sitteth on the throne, shall dwell over them.

St Bede suggests that day and night here means forever.  The throne of God he suggests, actually means the saints:
The saints are the throne of God, above whom and among whom the Lord for ever dwells.
16 non esurient, neque sitient amplius, nec cadet super illos sol, neque ullus æstus:
16 They shall no more hunger nor thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.

And here we find one of the several beautiful descriptions of heaven to be found in this book:
This it is which the Lord Himself promised, saying, “I am the bread of life: he who cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he who believeth in Me shall never thirst.” Yea, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”...“We passed,” he says, “through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a place of refreshment.”
17 quoniam Agnus, qui in medio throni est, reget illos et deducet eos ad vitæ fontes aquarum, et absterget Deus omnem lacrimam ab oculis eorum.
17 For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

On the reference to the lamb St Bede comments:
He says, that the Lamb is in the midst of the throne, in that he had said above, that “the Lamb received the book from Him Who sitteth upon the throne;” and teaches that the Church is one throne for the Father and the Son, in which one God, the undivided Trinity, dwells through faith.
The fountains of the waters of life can mean the vision of God or the company of the saints:
That is to say, to the company of the saints, who are the fountains of heavenly doctrine. The vision of God itself may also be signified, “in Whom are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” according to this that David says, “As the hart longeth for the fountains of waters, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God.”
Our tears will be wiped away because:
When the fulness of immortal bliss is gained, all sorrow will be at once consigned to forgetfulness. For, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

St Bede's comment on the opening verse of chapter 8 of Revelation marks the end of 'Book I' (of three) of his commentary:

Et cum aperuisset sigillum septimum, factum est silentium in cælo, quasi media hora.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.

St Bede:
It is believed that after the death of Antichrist, there will be some little rest in the Church, which Daniel thus foretold: “Blessed is he who waiteth and cometh to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” And it is thus interpreted by the blessed Jerome: “Blessed,” he says, “is he, who when Antichrist is slain, beyond the one thousand two hundred and ninety days, that is, three years and a half, waits for the forty-five days, in which the Lord and Saviour is to come in His own Majesty. 
Now for what reason, after the destruction of Antichrist, there is silence for forty-five days, is a subject of divine knowledge, unless perhaps we say, the deferring of the kingdom of the saints is the trial of patience.” 
Observe that at the sixth seal, he sees the greatest afflictions of the Church, at the seventh, rest. For the Lord was crucified on the sixth day of the week, and rested on the Sabbath, awaiting the time of resurrection. Thus far concerning the opening of the closed book, and the six seals.
Ascension and Pentecost

And at this point I am going to leave this series on Revelation, at least for the moment (I may resume after the octave of Pentecost if anyone is interested - please let me know), since the rest of the next few weeks are devoted to an important series of feasts that either have readings set for the day, or used to have, and deserve their own meditation!

If you wish to continue on by yourself though, you can find the rest of St Bede's commentary here or here. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Rogation Day (May 22)

Today is a Rogation Day, traditionally a day of extra prayer and fasting.

In the 1962 calendar, the prayers and readings for the rogation day have been removed from the Office for reasons that I don't understand, so the only formal celebration of it is to say the litany of the saints.  Still the readings are rather good, so here they are anyway.  On Tuesday, the readings revert to normal, but the Vigil of the Ascension (on Wednesday) does have its own readings.

Reading 1: Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke - At that time Jesus said unto His disciples Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him: Friend, lend me three loaves. And so on.

Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan - We gather from this commandment, among other things, that we ought to pray, not only by day, but also by night. Thou seest how that he which arose at midnight to ask three loaves of his friend, and endured in supplication, was not disappointed of that which he sought. Of what are these three loaves a figure, but of that our Mysterious Bread Which cometh down from heaven Thou seest that if thou lovest the Lord thy God, thou mayest win His bounty, not only for thyself, but for others likewise. And who can deserve more to be called our "Friend" than He Which gave His Own Body for us.

Reading 2: From this Friend it was that David asked bread at midnight, and received it, as he saith "At midnight I rise to give thanks unto thee."  Even thus did he obtain those loaves of spiritual nourishment which he still setteth before us for our refreshment. How he asked it, we know from that he saith " Every night wash I my bed." He knew that there was no fear of waking Him Who sleepeth not.  Therefore let us keep in mind the things which are written for our learning, and be instant in prayer both by day and by night, to ask pardon of our sins.

Reading 3: If David, who was such a Saint, and whose time was so taken up by the cares of a kingdom, praised the Lord seven times a day, and was always present with godly zeal at the morning and evening sacrifice, what ought we to do, (who have so much the more need to pray, as the weakness of our body and mind doth so much oftener make us to fall, ) that we, wearied with this pilgrimage, and worn out by the gradual waning of our earthly day, and the changes of life, that we, I say, may not be starved of that life-giving Bread Which strengtheneth man's heart. The Lord teacheth us to be watchful, all of us, and that, not at midnight only, but always. "And if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find: watching.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Fifth Sunday after Easter

The readings and responsories for Matins in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I 

Reading 1: Lesson from the first letter of St Peter the Apostle - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers dispersed through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect,  According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that can not fade, reserved in heaven for you, Who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.

R. Si oblitus fuero tui, alleluia, obliviscatur mei dextera mea:
* Adhaereat lingua mea faucibus meis, si non meminero tui, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus et flevimus, dum recordaremur tui Sion.
R. Adhaereat lingua mea faucibus meis, si non meminero tui, alleluia, alleluia.
R. If I forget thee, Alleluia, let my right hand forget me.* If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Zion
R. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 2: Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations: That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now, though you see him not, you believe: and believing shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified; Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and diligently searched, who prophesied of the grace to come in you. Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ in them did signify: when it foretold those sufferings that are in Christ, and the glories that should follow: To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you they ministered those things which are now declared to you by them that have preached the gospel to you, the Holy Ghost being sent down from heaven, on whom the angels desire to look.

R. Viderunt te aquae, Deus, viderunt te aquae, et timuerunt:* Multitudo sonitus aquarum vocem dederunt nubes, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Illuxerunt coruscationes tuae orbi terrae: vidit et commota est terra.
R. Multitudo sonitus aquarum vocem dederunt nubes, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
R. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee and they were afraid.* There was a noise as of many waters the clouds sent out a sound. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. thy lightnings lightened the world the earth saw it and shook.
R. There was a noise as of many waters the clouds sent out a sound. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 3: Lesson from the second letter of St Peter the Apostle - Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord: As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.  By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.


R. Narrabo nomen tuum fratribus meis, alleluia:
* In medio Ecclesiae laudabo te, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Confitebor tibi in populis Domine, et psalmum dicam tibi in Gentibus.
R. In medio Ecclesiae laudabo te, alleluia, alleluia.
R. I will declare thy Name unto my brethren Alleluia.* In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people, and sing unto thee among the nations.
R. In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 4: And you, employing all care, minister in your faith, virtue; and in virtue, knowledge; And in knowledge, abstinence; and in abstinence, patience; and in patience, godliness; And in godliness, love of brotherhood; and in love of brotherhood, charity. For if these things be with you and abound, they will make you to be neither empty nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that hath not these things with him, is blind, and groping, having forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

R. Dicant nunc, qui redempti sunt, alleluia,
* A Domino, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Quos redemit de manu inimici, et de regionibus congregavit eos.
R. A Domino, alleluia, alleluia.
V Gloria Patri
R: A Domino, alleluia, alleluia.
R. Let now the redeemed of the Lord, Alleluia.
* Say, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Let them whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered them out of the lands.
R. Say, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V Glory be…
R. Say, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: From the Book written by St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, on belief in the Resurrection - Since it was impossible that the Wisdom of God could die, and that which could not die could not rise from the dead, He took to Himself Flesh Which could die, that That Whose nature it was to die might die, and rise again. Neither was it possible that the resurrection of the dead should come otherwise than by man, "for since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead."  Man He rose since Man He died, the Manhood quickened but the Godhead Quickener. Man then, as touching the Flesh God now, over all things. For now we know Christ no longer after the Flesh, but we owe it to the Flesh that we know Him as "become the First-fruits of them that slept. "and the First-begotten of the dead".

R. In ecclesiis benedicite Deo, alleluia,
* Domino de fontibus Israël, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Psalmum dicite nomini ejus, date gloriam laudi ejus.
R. Domino de fontibus Israël, alleluia, alleluia.
R. Bless ye God in the congregations Alleluia.
* Even the Lord, ye that are of the fountains of Israel Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Sing forth the honour of His Name, make His praise glorious.
R. Even the Lord, ye that are of the fountains of Israel Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: The first-fruits are of the same kind and nature as the other fruits, and they are brought as an offering to God l to win His blessing on the in-gathering, an holy offering made on behalf of all, and as it were the homage of restored nature. Christ then is the First-fruits of them that sleep. But is He the First-fruits of only His own loved ones that fall asleep in Him, and lie as it were untouched by death, wrapt in a sweet slumber Or is He the First-fruits of all the dead? But "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

R. In toto corde meo, alleluia, exquisivi te, alleluia:* Ne repellas me a mandatis tuis, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Benedictus es tu Domine, doce me justificationes tuas.
R. Ne repellas me a mandatis tuis, alleluia, alleluia.
R. With my whole heart Alleluia have I sought thee Alleluia. * O let me not wander from thy commandments Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord teach me thy statutes.
R. O let me not wander from thy commandments Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 7: So that, as in Adam were the first-fruits of the death wherein all die, even so in Christ were the first-fruits of the resurrection, wherein all rise again. But let no man be hopeless, neither let it be a grief to the righteous to remember that to rise again will be common to all men, when he looketh for that day wherein the harvest of his life will nobly realise itself. All shall rise again, "but," as saith the Apostle, "every man in his own order." The harvest of God's mercy will be for all, but in reward one man shall differ from another.

R. Hymnum cantate nobis, alleluia:
* Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena? alleluia, alleluia.
V. Illic interrogaverunt nos, qui captivos duxerunt nos, verba cantionum.
R. Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena? alleluia, alleluia.
R. Sing us a song Alleluia.* How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. There they that carried us away captive required of us a song.
R. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 8: I tell you how grievous an outrage against God it is not to believe in the resurrection. If we shall Is this not rise again, then did Christ die in vain, then is Christ not risen For if [if He rose at all,] He rose for us, and if He had not us to rise for, then He is plainly not risen. In Him the world, in Him the heavens, in Him the earth rose again. For there shall be " a new heaven, and a new earth". For Himself He needed not to rise Whom the bands of death held not. For although He died as Man, yet was He free in the netherworld itself. Wouldest thou hear how free "I am as a man that hath no strength, free among the dead". O how free Who was able to take up his life again at will, even as it is written that He said " Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up ". O how free Who descended into hell only to redeem others therefrom.

R. Cantate Domino, alleluia: * Psalmum dicite ei, alleluia.
V. Afferte Domino gloriam et honorem, afferte Domino gloriam nomini ejus.
R. Psalmum dicite ei, alleluia.
V: Gloria patri...
R. Psalmum dicite ei, alleluia.
R. O sing unto the Lord. Alleluia. * Sing unto Him. Alleluia.
V. Give unto the Lord glory and honour, give unto the Lord the glory due unto His Name.
R. Sing unto Him. Alleluia.
V Glory be…
R. Sing unto Him. Alleluia.

Nocturn III

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John - At that time Jesus said unto His disciples Amen, Amen, I say unto you Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo - We have now to consider these words of the Lord "Amen, Amen, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you." It hath already been said in the earlier part of this discourse of the Lord, for the sake of some who ask the Father in Christ's Name and receive not, that whatsoever is asked, which tendeth not to salvation, is not asked in the Name of the Saviour. By the words "In My Name" we must not understand the vocalization of letters and syllables, but the meaning of what is said, the honest and true meaning.

R. Deus canticum novum cantabo tibi, alleluia:
* In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Deus meus es tu, et confitebor tibi: Deus meus es tu, et exaltabo te.
R. In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
R. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God Alleluia. * Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee Thou art my God, and I will exalt thee.
R. Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 10: Therefore, whosoever thinketh of Christ as he ought not to think of the Only Son of God, such an one doth not ask anything in Christ's Name, although he do actually utter letters and syllables to that effect, because by these sounds he meaneth not the Real Christ, but a fancied being who hath no existence except in the speaker's imagination. But on the other hand, whosoever thinketh of Christ as he ought to think, the same asketh in Christ's Name, and receiveth, provided only it be nothing against his own everlasting salvation but if it is good for him to receive, he receiveth. Some things are not given at once, but kept over till a more fitting season.

R. Bonum est confiteri Domino, alleluia: * Et psallere, alleluia.
V. In decachordo psalterio, cum cantico et cithara.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
R. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord Alleluia * And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the harp with a solemn sound.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.

Reading 11: Such is the true interpretation of the words "He will give it you" namely, that those things will be given which are good for them to ask. All the Saints also are heard when they ask for themselves, but not necessarily when they ask for their friends, or their enemies, or others, even as it is written, not simply "He will give it" but "He will give it you."

R: Alleluia audivimus ea in Ephrata invenimus eam in campis silvae * introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
V: Surge domine in requiem tuam tu et arca sanctificationis tuae
R: introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
R: Alleluia. Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.* We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
V: Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.
R: We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.

Reading 12: Hitherto saith the Lord, have ye asked nothing in My Name? "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." This their joy, whereof He saith that it shall be full, is to be understood not of fleshly but of spiritual joy and when that joy is so great that it can be increased no more, then shall it without doubt be full. Whatsoever therefore we ask for the fulfilling of this joy, (that is, if we thereby mean grace, if we ask for that life which is the really blessed one,) that is a thing which it is meet to ask in Christ's Name. If we ask anything else than this, we ask nothing, although we do actually ask something, because all things are nothing in comparison with this.

R: Deduc me in semita mandatorum tuorum alleluia quoniam ipsam volui alleluia * inclina cor meum in testimonia tua alleluia alleluia alleluia
V: Averte oculos meos ne videant vanitatem in via tua vivifica me
R: Inclina cor meum in testimonia tua alleluia alleluia alleluia
V: Gloria Patri...
R: Inclina cor meum in testimonia tua alleluia alleluia alleluia
R. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, alleluia, for therein is my desire, alleluia. * Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. O turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity, and quicken thou me in thy way.
R. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

This week's Gospel is John 16:23-30:

And in that day you shall not ask me any thing. Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in my name. Ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh, when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will shew you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in my name; and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you.  For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.  His disciples say to him: Behold, now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb.  Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them: Do you now believe?  Behold, the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.