Saturday, 24 September 2016

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nocturn II: St Ambrose on Elijah and fasting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matins readings for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

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

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ember Saturday of September

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ember Friday of September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Feast of St Matthew

Nocturn I: Ezekiel 1:1-12 (Common of Evangelists)

Reading 1:  Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, when I was in the midst of the captives by the river Chobar, the heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, the same was the fifth year of the captivity of king Joachin, The word of the Lord came to Ezechiel the priest the son of Buzi in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chobar: and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.

R. Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, said the Lord:
* Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.
V. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light
R. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.

Reading 2: And I saw, and behold a whirlwind came out of the north: and a great cloud, and a fire infolding it, and brightness was about it: and out of the midst thereof, that is, out of the midst of the fire, as it were the resemblance of amber. And in the midst thereof the likeness of four living creatures: and this was their appearance: there was the likeness of a man in them. Every one had four faces, and every one four wings. Their feet were straight feet, and the sole of their foot was like the sole of a calf's foot, and they sparkled like the appearance of glowing brass.

R. Take up my yoke upon you, said the Lord, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart
* For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
V. And you shall find rest to your souls.
R. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Reading 3: And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides: and they had faces, and wings on the four sides, And the wings of one were joined to the wings of another. They turned not when they went: but every one went straight forward. And as for the likeness of their faces: there was the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.

R. But when they shall deliver you up to the judges, take no thought how or what to speak:
* for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak:
V. For it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
R. For it shall be given you in that hour what to speak.

Reading 4: And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies: And every one of them went straight forward: whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went: and they turned not when they went.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: It came to pass one day at Capernaum, that Christ went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom; and He said unto him: Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house. This Levi is the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. After that Christ was risen again from the dead, and while he was yet in Judea, before he set forth for that land which had fallen to the lot of his preaching, he wrote the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Hebrew tongue, for the sake of them of the circumcision who had believed. His was the first written of the four Gospels. Thereafter he went to Ethiopia, and there preached the Gospel, confirming his preaching with many miracles.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying
* These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.
V. I saw a strong Angel of God fly into the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice
R. These men are holy, for they are the friends of God.

Reading 6: Of his miracles, the most notable was that he raised the King's daughter from the dead, and thereby brought to believe in Christ the King her father, his wife, and all that region. After that the King was dead, Hirtacus, who came after him, was fain to take his daughter Iphigenia to wife, but by the exhortation of Matthew she had made vow of her maidenhood to God, and stood firm to that holy resolution, for which cause Hirtacus commanded to slay the Apostle at the Altar while he was performing the mystery. He crowned the dignity of the Apostleship with the glory of martyrdom upon the 21 st day of September. His body had been brought to Salerno, where it was afterwards buried in a Church dedicated in his name during the papacy of Gregory VII, and there it is held in great worship and sought to by great gatherings of people.

R. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake;
* Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
V. When men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
R. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Reading 7 (St Gregory on Ezekiel): The Prophet writeth very minutely touching the four holy living creatures, whom he saw in the spirit as being to come. He saith Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. What signifieth the face save likeness whereby we are known? or wings, save the power to fly? since it is by the face that man is known from man, and by their wings that the birds' bodies are carried up into the air. So the face pertaineth to certitude, and the wings to contemplation. With certitude we are known of God Almighty, Who saith: I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.  And again: I know whom I have chosen.

R. These are they which have conquered, and are become the friends of God, who recked not of the commandments of princes, and earned the everlasting reward.
* And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.
V. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
R. And now have they crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands.

Reading 8: And by contemplation, whereby we rise above ourselves, we as it were fly heavenwards.[rest not available online]

Nocturn III - St Jerome

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: At that time, Jesus saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and He saith unto him Follow Me. And so on.

The other Evangelists, out of tenderness towards the reputation and honour of Matthew, have abstained from speaking of him as a publican by his ordinary name, and have called him Levi. Both names were his. But Matthew himself, according to what Solomon saith: The just man is the first to accuse himself, and again, in another place: Declare thou thy sins that thou mayest be justified, doth plainly call himself Matthew the publican, to show unto his readers that none need be hopeless of salvation if he will but strive to do better, since he himself had been all of a sudden changed from a publican into an Apostle.

R. These are they who while yet they lived in the flesh, planted the Church in their own blood* They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.
V. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
R. They drank of the Lord's cup, and became the friends of God.

Reading 10: Porphyry and the Emperor Julian (the Apostate) will have it that the account of this call of Matthew is either a stupid blunder on the part of a lying writer, or else that it showeth what fools they were who followed the Saviour, to go senselessly after any one who called them. But there can be no doubt that before the Apostles believed they had considered the great signs and works of power which had gone before.

R. These men are saints, whom the Lord hath chosen in love unfeigned, and hath given them glory everlasting. These are they
* By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.
V. The saints through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness.
R. By the light of whose teaching the Church is glorified, even as the moon is glorified by the light of the sun.

Reading 11: Moreover, the glory and majesty of the hidden God, which shone somewhat through the Face of the Man Christ Jesus, were enough to draw them which gazed thereon, even at first sight. For if there be in a stone a magnetic power which can make rings and straws and rods come and cleave thereunto, how much more must not the Lord of all creatures have been able to draw unto Himself them whom He called?

Reading 12: And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him. They saw how that a publican who had turned to better things had found a place of repentance, and therefore they also hoped for salvation. It was not, as the Scribes and Pharisees complained, sinners clinging to their sinfulness who came to Jesus, but sinners repenting, as indeed appeareth from the next words of the Lord, where He saith: I will have mercy and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. The Lord went to eat with sinners to the end that He might have occasion to teach, and to break spiritual bread unto them which bade Him.

Gospel: Matthew 9

As he passed further on his way, Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at work in the customs-house, and said to him, Follow me; and Matthew rose from his place and followed him.  And afterwards, when he was taking a meal in the house, many publicans and sinners were to be found at table with him and his disciples.  The Pharisees saw this, and asked his disciples, How comes it that your master eats with publicans and sinners?  Jesus heard it, and said, It is not those who are in health that have need of the physician, it is those who are sick.  Go home and find out what the words mean, It is mercy that wins favour with me, not sacrifice. I have come to call sinners, not the just.