Saturday, 1 October 2016

Matins readings for the first Sunday of October


Nocturn I: I Maccabees 1:1-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matins Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Nocturn III: Homily 28 of St Gregory the Great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel: John 4:46-53

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

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dedication of St Michael the Archangel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome on Matthew 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-10

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