Saturday, 13 February 2016

Matins readings for the First Sunday of Lent

(For the Benedictine Office)

First Nocturn (2 Corinthians 6-7)

Reading 1: And we helping do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. [2] For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee; and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [3] Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: [4] But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, [5] In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings,[6] In chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, [7] In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left; [8] By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; [9] As dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; [10] As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

R.br. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation let us approve ourselves in much patience, in much fasting;
* In the power of God, by the armour of righteousness.
V. In all things let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in much fasting.
R. In the power of God, by the armour of righteousness.

Reading 2: Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged. [12] You are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels you are straitened. [13] But having the same recompense, (I speak as to my children,) be you also enlarged. [14] Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?[16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

R.br. In all things let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience;
* That our ministry be not blamed.
V. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is' the day of salvation let us approve ourselves in much patience.
R. That our ministry be not blamed.

Reading 3:  Great is my confidence for you, great is my glorying for you. I am filled with comfort: I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation. [5] For also when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we suffered all tribulation; combats without, fears within.[6] But God, who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 

R.br. The Priests shall pray, with fasting and with weeping, and shall say Spare, O Lord,
* Spare thy people; and give not thine heritage to destruction.
V. The Priests shall weep between the porch and the altar, and shall say
R. Spare, O Lord, spare thy people; and give not thine heritage to destruction.

Reading 4: And not by his coming only, but also by the consolation, wherewith he was comforted in you, relating to us your desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced the more.[8] For although I made you sorrowful by my epistle, I do not repent; and if I did repent, seeing that the same epistle (although but for a time) did make you sorrowful; [9] Now I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful; but because you were made sorrowful unto penance. For you were made sorrowful according to God, that you might suffer damage by us in nothing.

Second Nocturn (Sermon 42 of St Leo)

Reading 5: Dearly beloved brethren, I am to preach to you the holiest and the greatest of Fasts; and with what words can I more fitly begin than with those words of the Apostle, in whom Christ spake, which have just been read? Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold, now is the day of salvation! It is true that there are no times which are not rich with God's gifts; His grace doth ever give us an entry unto His mercy; nevertheless, more especially at this time doth it behove that the minds of all men be earnestly stirred up to make progress in things spiritual, and to be nerved by a trust in God stronger than ever; for now the anniversary of that day on which we were redeemed is drawing near, and thereby moving us to work all godliness, to the end that we may be able to celebrate, with clean minds and bodies, that mystery which exceedeth all others, the mystery of the Lord's sufferings.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R.br. Let us amend for the better in that wherein we have sinned unknowingly, or ever the day of death suddenly prevent us, and we seek a place of repentance, and find none.
* Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.
V. Help us, O God of our salvation, and for the glory of thy Name deliver us, O Lord.
R. Give heed, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against thee.

Reading 6: Mysteries so great demand sustained earnestness, and continuous worship, if we would ever abide in the sight of God, such as it is meet that He should find us on the Feast of the Passover. But since few have the strength to do thus, and the frailty of the body rebelleth against such hardness, while the divers actions of this life distract us with their cares, it necessarily befalleth that the dust of earth befouleth the hearts even of the godly. To meet this befoulment therefore, and to restore the cleanness of our souls, it is provided by the healthful institution of God, that we should be purged by an exercise of forty days, wherein godly works may redeem the misspending of our other time, and purifying fasts rid us of the same.

R.br. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him;
* For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.
V. The Lord hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that he turn from his way and live.
R. For the Lord our God is gracious, and merciful, and repenteth Him of the evil.

Reading 7: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, as we are now about to enter upon these mystic days, the end of whose most holy ordinance is the cleansing both of our souls and bodies, let us take heed that we be obedient unto the command of the Apostle, putting far away from us every defilement of flesh and spirit, ordering the strife which there is between the two substances whereof we are compounded; that the soul, which is ordained under the rule of God, and which it beseemeth under His rule to rule the body, may enjoy the fulness of her lordship; giving no offence to any so that we may give no cause to such as revile us.

R.br. The season of the Fast openeth unto us the gates of heaven; let us enter thereon in prayer and supplication,
* that on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him
V. In all things let us approve ourselves the ministers of God, in much patience.
R. That on the day when the Lord riseth again we may rejoice with Him.

Reading 8: For if our ways during the Fast agree not with the purity of perfect temperance, the reproaches of the unbelievers will be just, and our sins will arm the tongues of the ungodly to the harming of our religion. The sum of our Fast standeth not only in abstaining from meats; neither is it profitable to deny food to the body, if the mind be not bridled from iniquity.

Third Nocturn (Homily of St Gregory the Great)

(Reading 9): Some persons are accustomed to question what Spirit it was of which Jesus was led up into the wilderness, on account of the words a little farther on Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city and again The devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain. But in truth, and without any searching, we may very fitly take it that we are to believe it was the Holy Ghost Who led Him up into the wilderness; His own Spirit led Him where the evil spirit found Him to tempt Him. 

R.br. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God;
* For He is gracious and merciful.
V. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return' unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him.

R. For He is gracious and merciful.

(Reading 10): When however it is said that He, God and man, was taken up by the devil either into an exceeding high mountain or into the holy city, the mind shrinketh from believing, and the ears of man tingle to hear it. Yet these things we know not to be incredible, when we consider certain other things concerning Him.

R.br. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor and the wanderer to thine house.
* Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.
V. When thou seest the naked, cover him; and hide not thyself from thine own flesh.
R. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.

(Reading 11): In truth, the devil is the head of all the wicked, and every wicked man is a member of this body, of which the devil is the head. Was not Pilate a limb of Satan? Were not the Jews that persecuted, and the soldiers that crucified Christ, likewise limbs of Satan? Is it then strange that He should allow Himself to be led up into a mountain by the head, Who allowed Himself to be crucified by the members? Therefore it is not unworthy of our Redeemer, Who came to be slain, that He was willing to be tempted. It was meet that He should thus overcome our temptations by His own, even as He came to conquer our death by His own.

(Reading 12): We ought to know that temptation worketh through three forms. There is, first, the suggestion; then the delectation; lastly, the consent. When we are tempted, it often happeneth that we fall into delectation, and even into consent, because in the sinful flesh of which we are begotten, we carry in ourselves matter to favour the attack. But God, when He took Flesh in the womb of the Virgin, and came into the world without sin, did so without having in Himself anything of this lusting of the flesh against the spirit. It was possible therefore for Him to be tempted in the first stage, namely suggestion; but there was nothing in His Mind in which delectation could fix its teeth. And thus all the temptation which He endured from the devil was without, and none within Him.

R.br. God hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
* They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Thou shalt tread upon the adder and the cockatrice, the lion also, and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
R. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. They shall bear thee up in their- hands, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is St Matthew 4:1-11 (the temptation of Christ):

1 Tunc Jesus ductus est in desertum a Spiritu, ut tentaretur a diabolo. 2 Et cum jejunasset quadraginta diebus, et quadraginta noctibus, postea esuriit. 3 Et accedens tentator dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant. 4 Qui respondens dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo, quod procedit de ore Dei. 5 Tunc assumpsit eum diabolus in sanctam civitatem, et statuit eum super pinnaculum templi, 6 et dixit ei: Si Filius Dei es, mitte te deorsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia angelis suis mandavit de te, et in manibus tollent te, ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. 7 Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum. 8 Iterum assumpsit eum diabolus in montem excelsum valde: et ostendit ei omnia regna mundi, et gloriam eorum, 9 et dixit ei: Hæc omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me. 10 Tunc dicit ei Jesus: Vade Satana: Scriptum est enim: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, et illi soli servies. 11 Tunc reliquit eum diabolus: et ecce angeli accesserunt, et ministrabant ei.

The Douay-Rheims renders it as follows:

Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, [6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. [11] Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

The Gospel for the Saturday after Ash Wednesday (in the traditional calendar) is from St Mark 6:47-56.

The Vulgate, via New Advent:

47 Et cum sero esset, erat navis in medio mari et ipse solus in terra. 48 Et videns eos laborantes in remigando (erat enim ventus contrarius eis) et circa quartam vigiliam noctis venit ad eos ambulans supra mare: et volebat præterire eos. 49 At illi ut viderunt eum ambulantem supra mare, putaverunt phantasma esse, et exclamaverunt. 50 Omnes enim viderunt eum, et conturbati sunt. Et statim locutus est cum eis, et dixit eis: Confidite, ego sum: nolite timere. 51 Et ascendit ad illos in navim, et cessavit ventus. Et plus magis intra se stupebant: 52 non enim intellexerunt de panibus: erat enim cor eorum obcæcatum.53 Et cum transfretassent, venerunt in terram Genesareth, et applicuerunt. 54 Cumque egressi essent de navi, continuo cognoverunt eum: 55 et percurrentes universam regionem illam, cœperunt in grabatis eos, qui se male habebant, circumferre, ubi audiebant eum esse. 56 Et quocumque introibat, in vicos, vel in villas aut civitates, in plateis ponebant infirmos, et deprecabantur eum, ut vel fimbriam vestimenti ejus tangerent, et quotquot tangebant eum, salvi fiebant.

Douay-Rheims:

[47] And when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and himself alone on the land. [48] And seeing them labouring in rowing, (for the wind was against them,) and about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh to them walking upon the sea, and he would have passed by them. [49] But they seeing him walking upon the sea, thought it was an apparition, and they cried out. [50] For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. [51] And he went up to them into the ship, and the wind ceased: and they were far more astonished within themselves: [52] For they understood not concerning the loaves; for their heart was blinded. [53] And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genezareth, and set to the shore. [54] And when they were gone out of the ship, immediately they knew him: [55] And running through that whole country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.[56] And whithersoever he entered, into towns or into villages or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

The Matins readings (from Divinum Officium):

Reading 1 (Homily by the Venerable Bede): The toil of the disciples in rowing, and the wind contrary to them, is a figure of the divers toils of the Holy Church, as, amid the waves of a world that fighteth against her, and the stormy blasts of unclean spirits, she laboureth to reach the rest of her Fatherland above, as a shore safe for her anchor. Here also it is well said that the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land; for sometimes it cometh to pass that the Church is, by the great pressure of the Gentiles, not only so afflicted, but also befouled, that it seemeth as though, if it were possible, her Redeemer had for the time forsaken her.

R. I came this day unto the well, and I besought the Lord, and said
* O Lord God of Abraham, Thou hast prospered my way.
V. Therefore the virgin to whom I shall say Give me water of thy pitcher to drink; and she shall say to me Drink, my lord, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son.

R. O Lord God of Abraham,

Reading 2: Whence it is that there cometh that cry of hers, when she is taken amid the waves, and the winds of temptations that break upon her, and with piteous entreaty she calleth on Him to protect her Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord, why hidest Thou thyself in times of trouble? Ps. ix. 22. And then, in the verses that follow, she telleth Him what saith the enemy that persecuted her, saying For he hath said in his heart God hath forgotten; He hideth His face He will never see it. 

R. The word of the Lord came unto Abram, saying: * Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
V. For I am the Lord thy God That brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees.
R. Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Reading 3: Verily, He forgetteth not the prayer of the poor, neither turneth He His face away from any that putteth his trust in Him; yea, rather, to him whosoever is striving with the enemy, He giveth help to conquer, and, whosoever conquereth, to him He giveth an everlasting crown. For the which reason also it is here said plainly He saw them toiling in rowing. The Lord seeth them that are toiling in the sea, albeit He be Himself on the land. Although He seem for a moment to tarry in succouring the distressed, nevertheless the look of His love is strengthening them, all the while, lest they should faint and sometimes He setteth them free, even by an open deliverance, conquering all their adversaries for them, as when He walked upon the swelling of the waves, and stilled them.

R:  Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice * And therefore he became the friend of God
V: He was also righteous in the sight of the Lord, and walked in his ways

R: And therefore he became the friend of God

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Friday after Ash Wednesday

The Gospel for the Friday after Ash Wednesday is St Matthew 5:43-48; 6:1-4, on doing your good works in secret:

43 Audistis quia dictum est: Diliges proximum tuum, et odio habebis inimicum tuum. 44 Ego autem dico vobis: diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite his qui oderunt vos, et orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos: 45 ut sitis filii Patris vestri, qui in cælis est: qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos: et pluit super justos et injustos. 46 Si enim diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quam mercedem habebitis? nonne et publicani hoc faciunt? 47 Et si salutaveritis fratres vestros tantum, quid amplius facitis? nonne et ethnici hoc faciunt? 48 Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester cælestis perfectus est.1 Attendite ne justitiam vestram faciatis coram hominibus, ut videamini ab eis: alioquin mercedem non habebitis apud Patrem vestrum qui in cælis est. 2 Cum ergo facis eleemosynam, noli tuba canere ante te, sicut hypocritæ faciunt in synagogis, et in vicis, ut honorificentur ab hominibus. Amen dico vobis, receperunt mercedem suam. 3 Te autem faciente eleemosynam, nesciat sinistra tua quid faciat dextera tua: 4 ut sit eleemosyna tua in abscondito, et Pater tuus, qui videt in abscondito, reddet tibi.

[43] You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: [45] That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. [46] For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? [47] And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? [48] Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.[1] Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. [2] Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. [3] But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. [4] That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.

The Matins readings on it are as follows:

Reading 1: Homily by St Jerome, But I say unto you Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. There are many who judge of the commandments of the Lord by their own weakness, and not by the strength of His Saints; and so deem Him to have commanded things impossible. These are they who think that not to hate their enemies is all that they are able to do; and that to command us to love them, is to command more than man's nature can bear. It behoveth them to know, that this which Christ commandeth is not impossible, albeit perfect. This is what David did in respect of Saul and Absalom; the martyr Stephen also prayed for his enemies, even while they were stoning him; and Paul could wish that himself were accursed from Christ for his persecutors. Rom. ix. 3. And this, Jesus Himself did, as well as taught, when He said Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

R. The Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham and said
* Lay not thine hand upon the lad; for now I know that thou fearest God.
V. And Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his son; and, behold, the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said
R. Lay not thy hand upon the lad; for now I know that thou fearest God.


Reading 2: That ye may be the children of your Father Which is in heaven. If he that doeth the commandments of God becometh a son of God, then is he not a son by nature, but by his own choice. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. He that soundeth a trumpet before him, when he doeth alms, is an hypocrite. He that disfigureth his face, when he fasteth, to the end that he may show the emptiness of his belly in his looks, he also is an hypocrite.

R. The Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time
* And said I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.
V. thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

R. And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.

Reading 3: He that prayeth in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that he may be seen of men, is an hypocrite. From all which, we gather that an hypocrite is one which doeth anything that he may have glory of men. To me also it seemeth that he which saith unto his brother Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, vii. 4, that he also is an hypocrite; for he proposeth to take upon him that office for vainglory's sake, that he himself may appear righteous. Therefore the Lord saith unto him Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye. Thus we see that it is, not the doing good, but the motive which moveth us to do good, which will meet with reward from God; and, if thou stray but a little from the right way, it is of small moment whether thou wander to the right hand or to the left, when once thou hast lost the straight path.

R. O God of my master Abraham, prosper my way which I go
* That I may return again in safety unto the house of my master.
V. O Lord, I pray thee, be merciful unto thy servant
R. That I may return again in safety unto the house of my master.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.

R. That I may return again in safety unto the house of my master.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Readings for Thursday after Ash Wednesday

The Gospel for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday is St Matthew 8:5-13:

5 Cum autem introisset Capharnaum, accessit ad eum centurio, rogans eum, 6 et dicens: Domine, puer meus jacet in domo paralyticus, et male torquetur. 7 Et ait illi Jesus: Ego veniam, et curabo eum. 8 Et respondens centurio, ait: Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur puer meus. 9 Nam et ego homo sum sub potestate constitutus, habens sub me milites, et dico huic: Vade, et vadit: et alii: Veni, et venit: et servo meo: Fac hoc, et facit. 10 Audiens autem Jesus miratus est, et sequentibus se dixit: Amen dico vobis, non inveni tantam fidem in Israël. 11 Dico autem vobis, quod multi ab oriente et occidente venient, et recumbent cum Abraham, et Isaac, et Jacob in regno cælorum: 12 filii autem regni ejicientur in tenebras exteriores: ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. 13 Et dixit Jesus centurioni: Vade, et sicut credidisti, fiat tibi. Et sanatus est puer in illa hora.

[5] And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, [6] And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. [7] And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. [8] And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. [9] For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. [10] And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. [11] And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: [12] But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [13] And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour. 

The readings on it at Matins are as follows:

Reading 1 (Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo): Let us consider whether Matthew and Luke are at one as touching this centurion's servant. Matthew saith There came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying Lord, my servant lieth at home sick, of the palsy. This seemeth to differ from what Luke saith namely And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying That he was worthy for whom He should do this; for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them; and when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him: Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. 

R. Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and grievously tormented.
* Amen, I say unto thee, I will come and heal him:
V. Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.:
R. Amen, I say unto thee, I will come and heal him.

Reading 2: If it were done thus, how is Matthew truthful, when he saith that the centurion came unto Him, seeing that, in fact, he sent his friends? We must then look well into this, and we shall see that Matthew only made use of a common form of speech. Now, we use to say of a man that he cometh to a place even though he be not already come: whence also we say, He arrived close; or He arrived long way off, that is, to that place to which he would come; yea, we speak of that coming, toward which he tendeth, as though it had already taken place, when he that should be come at, seeth not yet him that cometh, but is come at for him by friends, to obtain his favour, which is needful for him that would come to him. And so much doth this manner of speaking hold, that they are commonly said to come at a great man, (who is beyond their personal reach,) who, by means of suitable persons, succeed in laying before him such things as they desire.

Reading 3: Therefore it is not strange that Matthew should make use of the common short phrase, and say of the centurion, who reached the Lord's sympathies, by mean of friends, that he came unto Him. Also we must needs not pass by lightly the mystic depth which underlieth the words of this holy Evangelist. It is written in the Psalms xxxiii. 6 Draw near unto Him and be enlightened. Thus did the centurion in faith draw near unto Jesus, and the Lord so praised him that He said: I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Of him of whom these words were spoken, the Evangelist deemeth it wiser to say that he had found his way to Jesus; that he had got to Christ, than that they came, through whom he sent his message unto Him.

Gospel for the feast of St Scholastica

Madonna and child with Saint Scholastica by Francesco Sparapane (16c)
Basilica of St Benedict, Norcia
St Scholastica's feast (February 10) is transferred to Thursday this year (at least for monasteries of nuns) because of Ash Wednesday.  Accordingly, for those celebrating the feast, the Gospel is from St Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins:

1 Tunc simile erit regnum cælorum decem virginibus: quæ accipientes lampades suas exierunt obviam sponso et sponsæ. 2 Quinque autem ex eis erant fatuæ, et quinque prudentes: 3 sed quinque fatuæ, acceptis lampadibus, non sumpserunt oleum secum: 4 prudentes vero acceperunt oleum in vasis suis cum lampadibus. 5 Moram autem faciente sponso, dormitaverunt omnes et dormierunt. 6 Media autem nocte clamor factus est: Ecce sponsus venit, exite obviam ei. 7 Tunc surrexerunt omnes virgines illæ, et ornaverunt lampades suas. 8 Fatuæ autem sapientibus dixerunt: Date nobis de oleo vestro, quia lampades nostræ extinguuntur. 9 Responderunt prudentes, dicentes: Ne forte non sufficiat nobis, et vobis, ite potius ad vendentes, et emite vobis. 10 Dum autem irent emere, venit sponsus: et quæ paratæ erant, intraverunt cum eo ad nuptias, et clausa est janua. 11 Novissime vero veniunt et reliquæ virgines, dicentes: Domine, domine, aperi nobis. 12 At ille respondens, ait: Amen dico vobis, nescio vos. 13 Vigilate itaque, quia nescitis diem, neque horam.

And in English:

1] Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. [2] And five of them were foolish, and five wise. [3] But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them: [4] But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. [5] And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. [6] And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. [7] Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. [9] The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [10] Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. [11] But at last come also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. [12] But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. [13] Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

Commentary

Unfortunately the readings on the text in the Benedictine Office (by St Hilary) don't seem to be available online, so instead here are the readings on it fro the Roman Office of the day, by St Gregory:

Dearly beloved brethren oftentimes do I warn you to fly corrupt conversation, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world. But the portion which is this day read from the Holy Gospel doth oblige me to say that even to these good things which ye do, ye must needs take all careful heed. Look ye well to it, that, when ye work righteousness, ye do it not as seeking the praise and admiration of men, for if the lust of praise do once creep in, that which seemeth so fair without, loseth its reward within. Behold how the Redeemer speaketh of these ten virgins. He calleth them all virgins, yet entered not all of them into the door of blessedness, for there were some of them who sought outwardly the honour of virginity, but would take no oil within their vessels with their lamps.

First of all, it is for us to ask What is the kingdom of Heaven? And wherefore shall the same be likened unto ten virgins, whereof, albeit five were wise, yet five were foolish For if the kingdom of heaven be such that there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, Apoc. xxi. 27, how can it be like unto five virgins which were foolish? But we must know that, in the word of God, the kingdom of heaven doth oftentimes signify the Church as she now is, touching the which the Lord saith in another place " The Son of Man shall send forth His Angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend." Matth. xiii. 41. In that kingdom of Blessedness, wherein peace shall have her perfect reign, there shall be nothing found that offendeth for the angels to gather out.

The body of every man doth consist of five senses, and five being doubled, is ten. Forasmuch, therefore, as the whole body of the faithful doth consist of two sexes, the Holy Church is likened unto ten virgins. And forasmuch as in the Church the good are for the present mingled with the bad, and the reprobate with the elect, it is rightly said that, of the ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. There are many who have self-control, which do keep themselves from lusting after things outward, whose hope beareth them to things inward, who chastise the flesh, who long with intense home-sickness for their Fatherland which is in heaven, who seek an eternal reward, and who will not to receive for their labours the praise of men. These are they who reckon their glory, not in the mouths of men, but in the testimony of their own conscience. And many there be likewise who afflict the body by self-control, and yet who seek for their self-control applause from men.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Matins readings for Ash Wednesday

Today's Gospel at Mass in the Extraordinary Form is St Matthew 6:16-21:

16 Cum autem jejunatis, nolite fieri sicut hypocritæ, tristes. Exterminant enim facies suas, ut appareant hominibus jejunantes. Amen dico vobis, quia receperunt mercedem suam. 17 Tu autem, cum jejunas, unge caput tuum, et faciem tuam lava, 18 ne videaris hominibus jejunans, sed Patri tuo, qui est in abscondito: et Pater tuus, qui videt in abscondito, reddet tibi.19 Nolite thesaurizare vobis thesauros in terra: ubi ærugo, et tinea demolitur: et ubi fures effodiunt, et furantur. 20 Thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in cælo, ubi neque ærugo, neque tinea demolitur, et ubi fures non effodiunt, nec furantur. 21 Ubi enim est thesaurus tuus, ibi est et cor tuum.

[16] And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. [17] But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; [18] That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee. [19] Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. [20] But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.[21] For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

Matins readings

Reading 1 (St Augustine from Bk. ii. on the Lord's Sermon on the Mounts ch. xii., torn. 4.): 
It is evident that by these precepts we are bidden to seek for inner gladness, lest, by running after that reward which is without, we should become conformed to the fashion of this world, and should so lose the promise of that blessing which is all the truer and more stable that it is inward, that blessing wherein God hath chosen us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. In this chapter we will principally consider the fact that vain-glory findeth a ground for its exercise in struggling poverty as much as in worldly distinction and display; and this development is the most dangerous, because it entices under pretence of being the serving of God.

R. I came this day unto the well, and I besought the Lord, and said:
* O Lord God of Abraham, Thou hast prospered my way.
V. Therefore the virgin to whom I shall say: Give me water of thy pitcher to drink; and she shall say to me: Drink, my lord, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son.
R. O Lord God of Abraham, Thou hast prospered my way.

Reading 2: He that is characterised by unbridled indulgence in luxury or in dress, or any other display, is by these very things easily shown to be a follower of worldly vanities, and deceiveth no one by putting on an hypocritical mask of godliness. But those professors of Christianity, who turn all eyes on themselves by an eccentric show of grovelling and dirtiness, not suffered by necessity, but by their own choice, of them we must judge by their other works whether their conduct really proceedeth from the desire of mortification by giving up unnecessary comfort, or is only the mean of some ambition the Lord biddeth us beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, but by their fruits, saith He, ye shall know them.

R. The word of the Lord came unto Abram, saying:
* Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
V. For I am the Lord thy God That brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees.
R. Fear not, Abram I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Reading 3: The test is when, by divers trials, such persons lose those things which under the cover of seeming unworldliness they have either gained or sought to gain. Then must it needs appear whether they be wolves in sheep's clothing, or indeed sheep in their own. But that hypocrites do the contrary maketh it no duty of a Christian to shine before the eyes of men with a display of needless luxury the sheep need not to lay aside their own clothing because wolves sometimes falsely assume it.