Friday, 27 May 2016

I&II Kings (aka I&II Samuel)

Икона пророка Самуила из собрания ДОХМ.jpg
The prophet Samuel
Russian c17th

From the Second Sunday after Pentecost, the Matins readings (on Sundays in the Benedictine Office) work through I&II Kings (or I&II Samuel depending on which Bible you are using), so herewith a short introduction to it.

**I should note as an aside that, as foreshadowed a few weeks ago, I plan to start posting on Hebrews from next week.

Importance of Kings

Kings doesn't get much of a run in the traditional Mass lectionary - its sole entry as far as I can find is on Monday after the fourth Sunday of Lent (2 Kings 3:16-28).

But it is extremely important in terms of the history of Israel, covering the period roughly about 1070 - 970 BC, and includes some key 'types' of Jesus, including in the nativity story of Samuel, as well, of course, as in the life and promises made to King David.

About 1&2 Kings

Kings comes immediately after Ruth in the Bible.  I  Kings has 31 chapters; II Kings has 24.

Jewish tradition held it to have been written by Samuel, whose story it sets out, with additions by the prophets Gad and Nathan.  Certainly conservative scholars have generally dated it to the reign of Kings David and Solomon circa 1000-930BC.  But of course modern(ist) scholars dispute this, suggesting it was probably written around  630-540 BC.

The storyline starts with the conception of Samuel by Hannah after her pleading with God at the shrine of Silo.  Samuel becomes a judge and prophet, but inaugurates the monarchy with his anointing of Saul and then David.  Much of the first book then deals with the conflicts between the two.  Book II mainly deals with reign of David, up to death of Absalom.

Some of its key themes include God as the Lord of history, working his will through fallible and sinful human beings; the model of friendship provided by Jonathan and David; the effects of sin; and the dependence of a nation’s happiness on its leaders’ personal holiness

Some of its most important moments include:
  • Hannah’s song of praise, which is the key source text for the Magnificat (2 Kings 2:1-10), said in the Benedictine Office on Wednesday's at Lauds (ferial canticle);
  • Samuel's vocation story (1 Samuel 3);
  • the loss of the Ark of the covenant to the Philistines, and subsequent punishment of the priests of Silo (I Kings  4-6);
  • the promise to David that his descendants will rule forever (2 Kings 7);
  • David's adultery with Bathsheba, and subsequent repentance (2 Kings 11).

I Kings starts off with the story of the priest Eli and Samuel, moves to the establishment of the monarchy, and from chapter 13 onwards deals with the conflict between David and Saul.  Book II is primarily concerned with David, and conflict within his house (chapters 9-20).

I&II Kings in the Matins lectionary

In the Benedictine Office (unlike the Roman), I&II Kings is read over the period when there are no weekday readings, and so the readings set are for Sundays only:

Second Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 1:1-11
Third Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 9:18-10:1
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings (I Samuel) 17:1-16
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Kings (II Samuel) 1:1-15
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Kings (II Samuel) 12:1-16.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Feast of Corpus Christi

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

Nocturn I (1 Cor 11)

Reading 1: And when you assemble together, there is no opportunity to eat a supper of the Lord; each comer hastens to eat the supper he has brought for himself, so that one man goes hungry, while another has drunk deep. Have you no homes to eat and drink in, that you should shew contempt to God’s church, and shame the poor? Praise you? There is no room for praise here.

R. The whole assembly of the children of Israel shall kill the lamb toward the evening of the Passover.
* And they shall eat the flesh, and unleavened bread.
V. Even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us therefore let us keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
R. And they shall eat the flesh, and unleavened bread.

Reading 2: The tradition which I received from the Lord, and handed on to you, is that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was being betrayed, took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, given up for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. And so with the cup, when supper was ended, This cup, he said, is the new testament, in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, for a commemoration of me.

R. Ye shall eat flesh, and shall be filled with bread.
* This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
V. Moses gave you not that Bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true Bread from heaven.
R. This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

Reading 3: So it is the Lord’s death that you are heralding, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, until he comes.  And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord’s body and blood.

R. Elijah looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals at his head, and he arose, and did eat and drink
* And went in the strength of that meat [forty days and forty nights] unto the mount of God.
V. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.
R. And went in the strength of that meat [forty days and forty nights] unto the mount of God

Reading 4: A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord’s body for what it is. That is why many of your number want strength and health, and not a few have died. If we recognized our own fault, we should not incur these judgements;  as it is, the Lord judges us and chastises us, so that we may not incur, as this world incurs, damnation.

Nocturn II (Sermon of St Thomas Aquinas)

Reading 5: The immeasurable benefits, which the goodness of God hath bestowed on Christian people, have conferred on them also a dignity beyond all price. " For what nation is there so great, who hath gods so nigh unto them, as the Lord, our God, is" unto us? Deut. iv. 7. The Only-begotten Son of God, being pleased to make us " partakers of the Divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4, took our nature upon Him, being Himself made Man that He might make men gods. And all, as much of ours as He took, He applied to our salvation. On the Altar of the Cross He offered up His Body to God the Father as a sacrifice for our reconciliation He shed His Blood as the price whereby He redeemeth us from wretchedness and bondage, and the washing whereby He cleanseth us from all sin. And for a noble and abiding memorial of that so great work of His goodness, He hath left unto His faithful ones the Same His very Body for Meat, and the Same His very Blood for Drink, to be fed upon under the appearance of bread and wine.

R. As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blest it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said
* Take, eat this is My Body.
V. The men of my tabernacle said O that we had of his flesh we cannot be satisfied.
R. Take, eat this is My Body.

Reading 6: How precious a thing then, how marvellous, how health-giving, how furnished with all dainties, is the Supper [of the Lord !] Than His Supper can anything be more precious ? Therein there is put before us for meat, not, as of old time, the flesh of bulls and of goats, but Christ Himself, our very God. Than this Sacrament can anything be more marvellous ? Therein it cometh to pass that bread and wine are bread and wine no more, but in the stead thereof there is the Body and there is the Blood of Christ; that is to say, Christ Himself, Perfect God and Perfect Man, Christ Himself is there, under the appearance of a little bread and wine.

R. Jesus took the cup, after supper, saying This cup is the New Testament in My Blood.
* This do in remembrance of Me.
V. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
R. This do in remembrance of Me.

Reading 7: His faithful ones eat Him, but He is not mangled ; nay, when [the veil which shroudeth Him in] this Sacrament is broken, in each broken piece thereof remaineth whole Christ Himself, Perfect God and Perfect Man. All that the senses can reach in this Sacrament, [look, taste, feel, smell, and the like, all these] abide of bread and wine, but the Thing is not bread and wine. And thus room is left for faith ; Christ Who hath a Form That can be seen, is here taken and received not only unseen, but seeming to be bread and wine, and the senses, which judge by the wonted look, are warranted against error.

R. I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
* This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
V. I am the living Bread Which came down from heaven if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.
R. This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Reading 8: Than this Sacrament can anything be more health - giving Thereby are sins purged away, strength renewed, and the soul fed upon the fatness of spiritual gifts. This Supper is offered up in the Church both for the quick and dead it was ordained to the health of all, all get the good of it. Than this Sacrament can anything be more furnished with dainties The glorious sweetness thereof is of a truth such that no man can fully tell it. Therein ghostly comfort is sucked from its very well - head. Therein a memorial is made of that exceeding great love which Christ showed in time of His sufferings. It was in order that the boundless goodness of that His great love might be driven home into the hearts of His faithful ones, that when He had celebrated the Passover with His disciples, and the last Supper was ended, the Lord " Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end," John xiii. 1, and instituted this Sacrament, this Sacrament, the everlasting forth - " showing of His death until He come " again, 1 Cor. xi. 26, this Sacrament, the embodied fulfilment of all the ancient types and figures, this Sacrament, the greatest miracle which He ever wrought, and the one mighty joy of them that now have sorrow, till He shall come again, and their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man take from them. John xvi. 22.

Nocturn III (from St Augustine)

Reading 9: By use of meat and drink men would fain that " they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more," Apoc. vii. 16, and yet there is but one Meat and one Drink, Which doth work in them that feed thereon that " this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality,"  namely communion with that general assembly and Church of God's holy children, who are "kept in perfect peace," and are "all one," fully and utterly. And therefore it is, as men of God before our time have taken it, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath set before us His Body and His Blood in the likeness of things which, from being many, are reduced into one. In one loaf are many grains of corn, and one cup of wine the juice of many grapes.

R. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood,
* Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
V. What nation is there so great, who hath gods so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is to us
R. Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.

Reading 10: And now He giveth us to know how that which He spake cometh to pass, and how indeed "this Man can give us His Flesh to eat," and His Blood to drink. "He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." To dwell in Christ, therefore, and to have Him dwelling in us, is to "eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup,".

R. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father,
* So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
V. With the bread of life and understanding hath the Lord fed him.
R. So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

Reading 11: And he which dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, without all doubt doth not spiritually eat His Flesh nor drink His Blood, although he do carnally and visibly press the Sacrament with his teeth but, contrariwise, he "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself," because he dareth to draw nigh filthy to that secret and holy thing of Christ, whereunto none draweth nigh worthily, save he which is pure, even he which is of them concerning whom it is said "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Reading 12: "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." This is as though He said: The Father hath sent Me into the world and I have emptied Myself [and taken upon Me the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man]. I have My life from the Father, as One That is greater than I. He that eateth Me, even he, by thereby taking part in Me, shall live by Me. It is as having humbled Myself that I live by the Father, but he that eateth Me, him will I raise up, and so he shall live by Me. It is said "I live by the Father" that is to say, He is of the Father, not the Father of Him, and yet not so, but that the Father and the Son are co-equal together. Also it is said "So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me," whereby He showeth the gracious work towards His people of Him Who is the "one Mediator between God and man," and not that He Which is eaten and he which eateth Him are co-equal together.

Gospel: St John 6:

56 Caro enim mea vere est cibus: et sanguis meus, vere est potus; 57 qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in illo. 58 Sicut misit me vivens Pater, et ego vivo propter Patrem: et qui manducat me, et ipse vivet propter me. 59 Hic est panis qui de cælo descendit. Non sicut manducaverunt patres vestri manna, et mortui sunt. Qui manducat hunc panem, vivet in æternum.

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. [57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. [59] This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Lectio on Acts: Index of posts and resources

Ministry of the Apostles: Russian icon by Fyodor Zubov, 1660

During Eastertide I posted a series of posts on Acts, drawing on the commentary by St John Chrysostom.  This post provides an index to them.

General resources on Acts

Haydock's introduction to Acts
Divine Lamp resources
Patristic citations of Acts
Ante-Nicene Fathers e catena


St John Chrysostom on the importance of Acts

Introduction to the book

Acts 1:1-3

Ascension of Christ

Acts 1: 3-14

The Twelve

Acts 1:15-26


Acts 2:1-36
Acts 2:37-47

St Peter's homily and the early Christian community

Acts 3 (1-25)
Acts 4 (1-37)
Acts 5 (1-42)

The Seven (inc martyrdom of Stephen)

Acts 6 (1-15)
Acts 7 (1-59)

Mission in Judea and Sumaria

Acts 8

Conversion of St Paul

Acts 9

Mission to the gentiles - vision of St Peter and baptism of Cornelius

Acts 10

Persecution of the Church and arrest of Peter

Acts 11: 1-18
Acts 11: 19-30
Acts 12

St Paul's first missionary journey

Acts 13:1-12
Acts 13: 13-52
Act 14

Council of Jerusalem

Acts 15:1-29

St Paul's Second Missionary journey

Acts 15:30 - 16:40
Acts 17

St Paul's Third Missionary Journey

Acts 18
Acts 19
Acts 20
Acts 21

St Paul's arrest in Jerusalem and imprisonment at Caesarea

Acts 22
Acts 23
Acts 24
Acts 25
Acts 26

St Paul's voyage to Rome

Acts 27
Acts 28

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Trinity Sunday

The Matins readings for Trinity Sunday in the Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I (Isaiah 6: 1-12)

Reading 1: In the year of king Ozias’ death, I had a vision. I saw the Lord sitting on a throne that towered high above me, the skirts of his robe filling the temple.  Above it rose the figures of the seraphim, each of them six-winged; with two wings they veiled God’s face, with two his feet, and the other two kept them poised in flight. And ever the same cry passed between them, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; all the earth is full of his glory.

R. I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the whole earth was full of His glory
* And His train filled the temple.
V. Above it stood the Seraphim each one had six wings.
R. And His train filled the temple.

Reading 2: The lintels over the doors rang with the sound of that cry, and smoke went up, filling the temple courts. Alas, said I, that I must needs keep silence; my lips, and the lips of all my countrymen, are polluted with sin; and yet these eyes have looked upon their King, the Lord of hosts. Whereupon one of the seraphim flew up to me, bearing a coal which he had taken with a pair of tongs from the altar;

R. Blessed be the Lord God of hosts, Who only doeth wondrous things.
* And blessed be His glorious Name for ever.
V. And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen. Amen.
R. And blessed be His glorious Name for ever.

Reading 3:  he touched my mouth with it, and said, Now that this has touched thy lips, thy guilt is swept away, thy sin pardoned. 8 And now I heard the Lord say, Who shall be my messenger? Who is to go on this errand of ours? And I said, I am here at thy command; make me thy messenger.Go then, said he, and give a message to this people of mine: Listen as you will, but ever without understanding; watch all, and nothing perceive!

R. Let God, even our own God, bless us; let God bless us.
* And let all the ends of the earth fear Him.
V. God be merciful unto us, and bless us.
R. And let all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Reading 4: Thy office is to dull the hearts of this people of mine, deaden their ears, dazzle their eyes, so that they cannot see with those eyes, hear with those ears, understand with that heart, and turn back to me, and win healing. For how long, Lord? I asked. And he said, Till the cities are left unpeopled, and the houses untenanted, and the whole land a wilderness. The Lord will send its people into exile far away; wider, ever wider desolation must spread over it.

Nocturn II (From the Book on the Faith, addressed to Peter by St Fulgentius, Bishop [of Ruspa.]
Found in the Works of Augustine, tom 3)

Reading 5: The Faith which the holy Patriarchs and Prophets received from God before His Son was made Flesh, the Faith which the holy Apostles heard from the Lord Himself when Present in the Flesh, the Faith which the same Apostles learnt by the teaching of the Holy Ghost not only to preach by word of mouth, but also to leave behind them in their writings for the healthful instruction of all that should come after, that Faith teacheth that the Trinity, that is to say, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is but ONE God. But we could not truly call the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost a Trinity, if One and the Selfsame Person were named Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

R. Who is so great a God as our God
* Thou art the God that doest wonders.
V. Thou hast declared thy strength among the people Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people.
R. Thou art the God that doest wonders.

Reading 6: Nor if as the Being of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is One Being, so were there but One Person, then were it untrue to say that God is a Trinity. On the other hand, if, as the Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are distinguished One from Another by that which is proper to Each, so were They diverse by difference of nature, then were it untrue to say that God is ONE.

R. To thee be praise, to thee be glory, to thee be thanksgiving for ever and ever
* O Blessed Trinity
V. And blessed is thy glorious and Holy Name, and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
R. O Blessed Trinity

Reading 7: But since concerning the nature of the One True God, Who is a Trinity, it is the Truth to say that God is ONE, and the Truth to say that God is a Trinity, therefore the True God is a Trinity in Persons, and an Unity in nature. Through this Oneness of nature All That the Father is is in the Son and the Holy Ghost, All That the Son is is in the Father and the Holy Ghost, and All That the Holy Ghost is is in the Father and the Son.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised
* And His Wisdom is unsearchable.
V. Great is our Lord, and of great power, and His understanding is infinite.
R. And His Wisdom is unsearchable.

Reading 8: Of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, None is without Other, None is before Other, None is Greater than Other, None is Mightier than Other. The Father, as touching the One Divine Nature, is neither before nor greater than the Son and the Holy Ghost neither is it possible that the Eternity and Infinity of the Son, whether as before or greater, should be before or greater than the Eternity and Infinity of the Spirit.

Nocturn III (Homily by St Gregory of Nazianzus)

Reading 9: : There is no Catholic but knoweth that the Father is a Very Father, the Son a Very Son, and the Holy Ghost a Very Holy Ghost, even as the Lord Himself saith unto His Apostles " Go ye and baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This is that Perfect Trinity Who is but ONE being, and of Whom therefore we testify that His Substance is one.

R. Bless we the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
* Let us praise and exalt Him above all for ever.
V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven, and above all to be praised and glorified for ever.
R. Let us praise and exalt Him above all for ever.

Reading 10: For we make no division in God, as divisions are made in bodies, but we testify, that, according to the power of the Divine Nature, Which standeth not in matter, the Persons named have a real existence, and that God is ONE.  We do not say, as some have dreamt, that the Begetting of the Son of God is an outgrowing from one part to another part neither do we say that He is the Word in the sense of a mere sound uttered by a voice, but we do believe that these three Names and the Persons meant by them are all of only One Being, One Majesty, and One Power.

Reading 11: And therefore we testify that God is one, because this ONE-ness of His Majesty forbiddeth that we should use the Plural form of speech and say, "Gods." It is Catholic language to say, " Father and Son," but we cannot and must not say that the Father and the Son are two gods. And that, not because the Son of God is not by Himself God yea, He is Very God of Very God but because we know that the Son of God is not from elsewhere, but from the One Father Himself, and therefore we say that God is ONE.

R. Thee, ☩ O God the Father uncreate, thee, the Sole begotten Son, thee, O Holy Spirit the paraclete, thee O holy and undivided Trinity, with heart and lips we confess, we praise, and we bless :
* To thee be glory throughout all ages.
V. For thou only are great and doest wondrous things : thou art God alone.
R. To thee be glory throughout all ages.

Reading 12: This is the doctrine which Prophets and Apostles have delivered this is the doctrine which the Lord Himself taught when He said, " I and the Father are ONE," John x. 30, that is, He meant, as touching the one Divine Being, but as touching Persons, We are distinct.

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.

The Gospel for Trinity Sunday:

18 Et accedens Jesus locutus est eis, dicens: Data est mihi omnis potestas in cælo et in terra: 19 euntes ergo docete omnes gentes: baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti: 20 docentes eos servare omnia quæcumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem sæculi.

 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.