Saturday, 29 October 2016

Matins readings for the feast of Christ the King

Nocturn I: Colossians 1:3-23

Reading 1: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. Hearing your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which you have towards all the saints. For the hope that is laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard in the word of the truth of the gospel, Which is come unto you, as also it is in the whole world, and bringeth forth fruit and groweth, even as it doth in you, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. As you learned of Epaphras, our most beloved fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ Jesus;Who also hath manifested to us your love in the spirit.

R. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom forever.* And His name shall be called God, the Mighty, the Prince of peace.
V. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful.
R. And His name shall be called God, the Mighty, the Prince of peace.

Reading 2: Therefore we also, from the day that we heard it, cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding: That you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God:Strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, in all patience and longsuffering with joy, Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins;

R. In the vision during the night I saw the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; and He was given kingship and glory.
* Nations and people of every language serve Him.
V. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, His kingship shall not be destroyed.
R. Nations and people of every language serve Him.

Reading 3: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. And he is before all, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he may hold the primacy: Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.

R. You, Bethlehem-Ephrata, too small among the clans of Juda, from you shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel;* And He shall be Peace.
V. His origin is from old, from ancient times. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord.
R. And He shall be Peace.

Reading 4:  And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works: Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him: If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I, Paul, am made a minister.

R. Rejoice heartily, o daughter Sion, and shout for you, o daughter Jerusalem! See your King shall come to you; a just Savior is He!
* And He shall proclaim peace to the nations.
V. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river, to the ends of the earth.
R. And He shall proclaim peace to the nations.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
R. And He shall proclaim peace to the nations.

Nocturn II: from the Encyclical of Pope Pius XI

Reading 5: Since this Holy Year therefore has provided more than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the desire of many of the Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to Us both individually and collectively, by closing this Holy Year with the insertion into the Sacred Liturgy of a special feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This matter is so dear to Our heart, Venerable Brethren, that I would wish to address to you a few words concerning it. It will be for you later to explain in a manner suited to the understanding of the faithful what We are about to say concerning the Kingship of Christ, so that the annual feast which We shall decree may be attended with much fruit and produce beneficial results in the future. It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind.

R. He must reign, for God has put all things under His feet,* That God may be all in all!
V. When all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be made subject to the Father.
R. That God may be all in all!

Reading 6: He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his "charity which exceedeth all knowledge." And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ. But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father "power and glory and a kingdom," since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.

R. He has made us to be a kingdom, and priest to God His Father;
* To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever!
V. He is the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
R. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever!

Reading 7: But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer. Would that they who forget what they have cost their Savior might recall the words: "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us "with a great price"; our very bodies are the "members of Christ." Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due. Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love. He claimed judicial power as received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. "For neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son." In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men living, for this right is inseparable from that of judging. Executive power, too, belongs to Christ, for all must obey his commands; none may escape them, nor the sanctions he has imposed.

R. The kingdom of this world has became the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ,
* And He shall reign for ever and ever.
V. All the families of the nations shall bow down before Him; for dominion is the Lord's.
R. And He shall reign for ever and ever.

Reading 8: This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross. Christ as our Redeemer purchased the Church at the price of his own blood; as priest he offered himself, and continues to offer himself as a victim for our sins. Is it not evident, then, that his kingly dignity partakes in a manner of both these offices? It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power.

R. The ten horns that you saw are the kings. These will fight with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them.* For He is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.
V. The Lord our God Almighty now reigns, Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to Him.
R. For He is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. For He is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.

Nocturn III: St Augustine

Reading 9 (Tract 51): But what honor was it to the Lord to be King of Israel? What great thing was it to the King of eternity to become the King of men? For Christ's kingship over Israel was not for the purpose of exacting tribute, of putting swords into His soldiers' hands, of subduing His enemies by open warfare; but He was King of Israel in exercising kingly authority over their inward natures, in consulting for their eternal interests, in bringing into His heavenly kingdom those whose faith, and hope, and love were centred in Himself. Accordingly, for the Son of God, the Father's equal, the Word by whom all things were made, in His good pleasure to be King of Israel, was an act of condescension and not of promotion; a token of compassion, and not any increase of power. For He who was called on earth the King of the Jews, is in the heavens the Lord of angels.

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 10 (Tract 117): But is Christ king only of the Jews, or of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also. For when He said in prophecy, I am set king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion, declaring the decree of the Lord, that no one might say, because of the hill of Zion, that He was set king over the Jews alone, He immediately added, The Lord said unto me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten You. Ask of me, and I will give You the Gentiles for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession.

R. Behold, the Lord shall come, and all His saints with Him, and it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall be great; and they shall go out from Jerusalem like clean water; and the Lord shall be King for ever,
* Over all the earth.
V. Behold, the Lord cometh with an host, and in His hand are the kingdom, and power, and dominion.
R. Over all the earth.

Reading 11 (tract. 115 on John): Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence. This it is which was the will of our Good Master that we should know: but first we were to be shown the vanity of the opinion concerning his kingdom, entertained by men, whether Gentiles or Jews,from whom Pilate had heard that: as if the reason why he must be punished by death, were that he had affected a kingdom to which he had no right; or because the reigning are wont to look with an evil eye upon those destined to reign; and there were indeed need to beware lest his kingdom should be adverse either to the Romans or the Jews.

(responsory not available)

Reading 12: Now the Lord might have answered at once: My kingdom is not from hence: to the first question put by the Governor, Art thou the King of the Jews ? But in putting a question in return, namely, whether he spake this of himself, or had been told it by others, it was his will to show by Pilate's reply that this had been laid up to him as a crime by the Jews in their conference with the Governor: thus laying open to us, The thoughts of men, which he knew: that they are vain: and to them after Pilate's answer, making a reply which was more reasonable and suitable both to Jews and to Gentiles: My kingdom is not of this world.

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.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
 R. And His train filled the temple.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

SS Simon and Jude

Nocturn I: Jude 1: 1-13

Reading 1: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James: to them that are beloved in God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. Mercy unto you, and peace, and charity be fulfilled.  Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. For certain men are secretly entered in, (who were written of long ago unto this judgment,) ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord God into riotousness, and denying the only sovereign Ruler, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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: I will therefore admonish you, though ye once knew all things, that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not: And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day. As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire. In like manner these men also defile the flesh, and despise dominion, and blaspheme majesty.

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: When Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: The Lord command thee. But these men blaspheme whatever things they know not: and what things soever they naturally know, like dumb beasts, in these they are corrupted.

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: Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain: and after the error of Balaam they have for reward poured out themselves, and have perished in the contradiction of Core. These are spots in their banquets, feasting together without fear, feeding themselves, clouds without water, which are carried about by winds, trees of the autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion; wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever.

Nocturn II

Reading 5: Simon the Canaanite, called also Zelotes, went through Egypt preaching the Gospel, whileas the like was done in Mesopotamia by Thaddaeus, called also in the Gospel Judas the brother of James, and the writer of one of the Catholic Epistles. They met together afterwards in Persia, where they begat countless children in Jesus Christ, spread the faith far and wide in those lands, amid raging heathens, and glorified together by their teaching and miracles, and, in the end, by a glorious martyrdom, the most holy name of Jesus Christ.

R. I saw men standing together, clad in shining raiment, and the Angel of the Lord spoke 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 (Sermon of St Gregory): It is written: By His Spirit the Lord hath adorned the heavens. Now the ornament of the heavens are the godly powers of preachers, and this ornament, what it is, Paul teacheth us thus To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.

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: So much power then as have preachers, so much ornament have the heavens. Wherefore again it is written By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. For the Word of the Lord is the Son of the Father. But, to the end that all the Holy Trinity may be made manifest as the Maker of the heavens, that is, of the Apostles, it is straightway added touching God the Holy Ghost: you and all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth. Therefore the might of the same heavens is the might of the Spirit, for they had not braved the powers of this world, unless the strength of the Holy Ghost had comforted them.

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: For we know what manner of men the Teachers of the Holy Church were before the coming of this Spirit and since He came we see in Whose strength they are made strong. [rest not available online]

Nocturn III: St. Augustine, 87th Tract on John.

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to John: at that time, Jesus said to his disciples: These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. And so on.

In the reading from the Gospel, the last before this, the Lord had said: Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go, and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name, He may give it you. And here He saith These things I command you, that ye love one another. And by this it is that we must understand what fruit from us it is, whereof He saith I have chosen, that ye should go, and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, and so the words added

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: That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name, He may give it you. He will give unto us when we love one another, since this (mutual love) is itself the gift of Him Who hath chosen us when as yet we were fruitless, since it hath not been we who have chosen Him, (but He Who hath chosen us,) and ordained us, that we should go, and bring forth fruit, that is to say, should love one another.Love then, is the fruit which we should bring forth, and the Apostle Paul telleth us 1 Tim. i. 5 that this love is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. This is the love wherewith we love our neighbour, the love wherewith we love God, for we do not really love our neighbour unless we love God. For if any man love God, he loveth his neighbour as himself, since he that loveth not God loveth not himself. For on these two commandments hangeth all the law and the Prophets. Love, then, is the fruit which we should bring forth.

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: And concerning this fruit, the Lord giveth us this commandment These things (saith He) I command you, that ye love one another. Hence also the Apostle Paul Gal. v. 22 when he is about praising up the fruits of the Spirit as opposed to the works of the flesh, saith first of all: The fruit of the Spirit is love. And from that as the beginning he draweth out a string of other fruits, as thence begotten and thereto bound, namely, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, chastity.

Reading 12: Who is really joyful that loveth not the cause of his joy? Who can really be at one with another, unless he loveth that other? Who is cheerful under long toil for a good work, unless he loveth the aim? Who is kind, unless he love the object of his tenderness? Who is good, unless by the persuasion of love? Who is truly faithful, unless by the faith which worketh by love? Who is gentle to any use, unless love move him? Who turneth away from baseness unless he love honour? Well, then, doth the Good Master so often command us to love, as though that commandment were all-sufficient, for love is that gift without which all other good things avail nothing, and which cannot be without having every other good gift which maketh a good man good.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Office of St Benedict on Tuesday: Readings for October

Over at Saints Will Arise blog, I've been describing the old votive Office of St Benedict that was traditionally said on Tuesdays without feasts (outside of Advent and Lent etc).

The readings for that Office at Matins in October are set out below.

Reading 1 (2 Corinthinas 12: 1-9): If we are to boast (although boasting is out of place), I will go on to the visions and revelations the Lord has granted me.  There is a man I know who was carried out of himself in Christ, fourteen years since; was his spirit in his body? I cannot tell. Was it apart from his body? I cannot tell; God knows. This man, at least, was carried up into the third heaven.  I can only tell you that this man, with his spirit in his body, or with his spirit apart from his body, God knows which, not I, was carried up into Paradise, and heard mysteries which man is not allowed to utter. That is the man about whom I will boast; I will not boast about myself, except to tell you of my humiliations. It would not be vanity, if I had a mind to boast about such a man as that; I should only be telling the truth. But I will spare you the telling of it; I have no mind that anybody should think of me except as he sees me, as he hears me talking to him. And indeed, for fear that these surpassing revelations should make me proud, I was given a sting to distress my outward nature, an angel of Satan sent to rebuff me.  Three times it made me entreat the Lord to rid me of it; but he told me, My grace is enough for thee; my strength finds its full scope in thy weakness. More than ever, then, I delight to boast of the weaknesses that humiliate me, so that the strength of Christ may enshrine itself in me.

Reading 2 (St Gregory Dialogues 2:35): The man of God, Benedict, being diligent in watching, rose early before the time of matins (his monks being yet at rest) and came to the window of his chamber where he offered up his prayers to almighty God. Standing there, all of a sudden in the dead of the night, as he looked forth, he saw a light that banished away the darkness of the night and glittered with such brightness that the light which shone in the midst of darkness was far more clear than the light of the day.

During this vision a marvelously strange thing followed, for, as he himself afterward reported, the whole world, gathered together, as it were, under one beam of the sun, was presented before his eyes. While the venerable father stood attentively beholding the brightness of that glittering light, he saw the soul of Germanus, Bishop of Capua, in a fiery globe, carried up by Angels into heaven.

Then, desiring to have some witness of this notable miracle, he called Servandus the Deacon with a very loud voice two or three times by his name. Servandus, troubled at such an unusual crying out by the man of God, went up in all haste.  Looking out the window he saw nothing else but a little remnant of the light, but he wondered at so great a miracle.

The man of God told him all that he had seen in due order. In the the town of Cassino, he commanded the religious man, Theoprobus, to dispatch someone that night to the city of Capua, to learn what had become of Germanus their Bishop. This being done, the messenger learned that the reverent prelate had departed this life. Enquiring curiously the time, the messenger discovered that he died at the very instant in which the man of God beheld him ascending up to heaven.

Reading 3 (Dialogues continued): Assure yourself, Peter, of that which I speak. All creatures are, as it were, nothing to that soul that beholds the Creator. For though it sees but a glimpse of that light which is in the Creator, yet all things that are created seem very small.

By means of that supernatural light, the capacity of the inward soul is enlarged, and is so extended in God, that it is far above the world. The soul of one who sees in this manner, is also above itself; for being rapt up in the light of God, it is inwardly in itself enlarged above itself. When it is so exalted and looks downward, it comprehends how little all creation is. The soul, in its former baseness, could not so comprehend.

The man of God, therefore, who saw the fiery globe, and the Angels returning to heaven, could, no doubt, not see those things but in the light of God. What marvel is it, then, that he who saw the world gathered together before him -- rapt up in the light of his soul -- was at that time out of the world? Although we say that the world was gathered together before his eyes, yet it is not that heaven and earth were drawn into any lesser room than they are of themselves.

The soul of the beholder was more enlarged, rapt in God, so that it might see without difficulty that which is under God.  Therefore, in that light which appeared to his outward eyes, the inward light which was in his soul ravished the mind of the beholder to supernatural things  and showed him how small all earthly things are.