Wednesday, 31 May 2017

St Gregory on the Ascension (Old Octave, Day 7)

From a Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great:

The first question we have to ask is why we read that Angels appeared at the time of the Birth of the Lord, but we read not that they appeared in white apparel whereas, when the Lord ascended into heaven, it is written that the angels which appeared were clad in white. "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel," White raiment is an outward sign of solemn inward joy. That the occasion of God-made-Man entering into heaven was a great Festival for Angels, is the reason which we see why angels are specially named as robed in white at His Ascension, and not at His Birth. At the Birth of the Lord the Godhead was manifested veiled under the form of a servant, but at His Ascension the Manhood was seen exalted and white vestments are more apt to exaltation than humiliation.

Therefore were the angels bound to appear in white apparel at the Ascension at His Birth He Who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, was seen in the form in which He had humbled Himself; at His Ascension the Manhood Which He had taken into God was seen glorified. Again, dearly beloved brethren, we must remember today, how that Christ hath "blotted out the hand-writing that was against us," and reversed the sentence which doomed us to corruption. That same nature to which it was said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," that same nature is His Who hath this day ascended up into heaven. It is because of this up-lifting of our flesh that blessed Job, by a figure, calleth the Lord a bird. The Jews could not understand the Mystery of the Ascension, and in view of this their unbelief, blessed Job said mystically "He knew not the path of the bird."

The name of a bird is well given to the Lord, Who bodily soared up into heaven. And the path of that Bird knoweth no man, who believeth not in the Ascension into heaven. It is of this glorious occasion that the Psalmist saith: "Who hast set thy glory above the heavens," and again "God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet,". And yet again he saith "Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive,". "When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive," because by His Own incorruptibility He swallowed up our corruptibility. "He gave gifts unto men," because by sending the Spirit from above, He gave "to one, the word of wisdom to another, the word of knowledge to another, the working of miracles to another, the gifts of healing; to another, divers kinds of tongues to another, the interpretation of tongues,"

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

St Gregory on the Ascension (Octave Day 6)

From a Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great:

We must ponder the meaning of these words of Mark, "He sat on the right hand of God," and how that Stephen said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Wherefore doth Mark say that He sat, whereas Stephen testifieth that he saw Him standing But ye know, my brethren, that to sit is for him that judgeth, to stand, for him that fighteth, or helpeth.

Since therefore, our Redeemer is ascended up into heaven, and even now is Judge of all, beside that at the end of the world He will so come, therefore doth Mark say that He sitteth where He hath gone up, because we look for Him, after that His glorious Ascension, that He will come again at the end to be our Judge. But Stephen, while yet he was in the throes of the battle, saw Him That was helping him standing. Stephen on earth was overcoming the unbelief of his persecutors, but it was the grace of Him That is in heaven that fought in him all the while.


Monday, 29 May 2017

St Gregory on the Ascension (Readings for the previous Octave Day 5)

Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

From a Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great:

"So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." We learn in the Old Testament, that Elijah was taken up into heaven. But this word "heaven" may mean either the terrestrial atmosphere, or the space external to the sphere of this planet. Of these the atmosphere closely surrounds the earth, and we call the birds "the fowls of the heaven," because we see them fly therein. It was only up into this that Elijah was taken, that he might be carried off suddenly into some part of the earth, to us unknown, and there live in profound peace of body and soul, until the end of the world, when he will return and pay the debt of nature. For him, therefore, death waiteth, but is not escaped. But our Redeemer made it not to wait for Him, but conquered it, and by rising again shattered it, and by His Ascension showed forth the glory of His Again-rising.

We must mark also, how that Elijah was taken up in a chariot, as though to show plainly that for a mere man some outward help was needful. This help was given to him by Angels, as plainly appeareth, since it was impossible for one whom a weak nature yet weighed down earthward, to fly up even into the atmosphere. But of our Redeemer we read not that He was borne up in a chariot, or by Angels, since He by Whom all things were made, clearly rose above all things by His Own Power. He returned unto Him with Whom He was, and whither He returned, there He abode, for albeit as touching His Manhood He ascended up into heaven, yet, as touching His Godhead, He still comprehended both heaven and earth.

But as the sale of Joseph by his brethren was a type of the sale of Christ, so were the translations of Enoch and Elijah types of His Ascension. The Lord therefore had had forerunners and witnesses of His Ascension, the one before the Law, the other under the Law, that Himself might one day come, Who was able indeed to pass into the heavens. Hence also there is some difference to be observed in the manner wherein each was translated. Enoch was seen no more, for God took him Elijah was carried up by a whirlwind into heaven He That came after them was not taken up, nor carried up, but went up through space by His Own Power.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Reading and chapter verse for Ascensiontide

We are now in Ascensiontide.  In the mid-twentieth century version of the Benedictine Office at least, this was an Octave, and each day had three Patristic readings.  As these provide a nice source of meditation on the significance of the Ascension, I will provide them on the blog.  The official texts in the 1962 Office though, provide for one reading (the same each day), a short responsory and chapter verse, as set out below:

Nocturn 1:

Reading (Hebrews 6:18b-20):

Confugimus ad tenendam propositam spem, quam sicut anchoram habemus animæ tutam ac firmam, et incedentem usque ad interiora velaminis, ubi præcursor pro nobis introivit Jesus, secundum ordinem Melchisedech pontifex factus in æternum.
We who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us. Which we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, and which entereth in even within the veil; Where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.

Short responsory:

R br: Dominus in caelo, alleluia alleluia
R: Dominus in caelo, alleluia alleluia.
V: Paravit sedem suam, alleluia alleluia.
R: Gloria Patri...
V: Dominus in caelo, alleluia alleluia
R: The Lord in heaven, alleluia, alleluia
R: The Lord in heaven, alleluia, alleluia
V:  Hath prepared his throne, alleluia, alleluia
R: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
V: The Lord in heaven, alleluia, alleluia


Nocturn II

Chapter verse (Revelation 5:12b):

Dignus est Agnus, qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientiam, et fortitudinem, et honorem, et gloriam, et benedictionem.


R. Exaltare, Domine, alleluia, in virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Cantabimus et psallemus virtutes tuas, alleluia
The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction.


R. Be Thou exalted, O Lord. Alleluia, in thine Own strength. Alleluia.
V: We will sing and praise thy power, alleluia




Saturday, 27 May 2017

Sunday after the Ascension

The Matins readings for the Sunday after Ascension are as follows:


Nocturn I (I John 1: 1-3;4-7;8-10: 2: 1-6)

Reading 1: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life: For the life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us: That which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

R. Post passionem suam per dies quadraginta apparens eis, et loquens de regno Dei, alleluia:
* Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
V. Et convescens praecepit eis, ab Ierosolymis ne discederent, sed exspectarent promissionem Patris.
R. Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
R. Being seen of them forty days after that He had suffered, and speaking of the kingdom of God. Alleluia. * And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.
V. And, eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father.
R. And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.

Reading 2:  And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice, and your joy may be full. And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

R. Omnis pulchritudo Domini exaltata est super sidera:
* Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
V. A summo caelo egressio eius, et occursus eius usque ad summum eius.
R. Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
R. The Lord hath set His beauty above the stars; * His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.
V. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it.
R. His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.

Reading 3: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

R. Exaltare, Domine, alleluia, * In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Elevata est magnificentia tua super caelos, Deus.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
R. Be Thou exalted, O Lord. Alleluia. * In thine Own strength. Alleluia.
V. O God, Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens.
R. In thine Own strength. Alleluia.

Reading 4:  My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just:  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.  And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments.  He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected; and by this we know that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.

R: Non vos relinquam orphanos. Alleluia.  Vado, et venio ad vos. Alleluia. * Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
V: In illo die vos cognoscetis quia ego sum in Patre meo, et vos in me, et ego in vobis.
R: Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
R: I will not leave you orphans, Alleluia.   I go, and I will come to you. Alleluia. * And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V: In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
R: And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Nocturn II (St Augustine)

Reading 5: From the Sermons of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo - Dearly beloved brethren, our Saviour is gone up from us into heaven, but let us not be troubled on earth. Let only our heart be there with Him, and we shall have peace here. Let us in heart thither ascend with Christ in the mean while, and when that glad day which He hath promised cometh, our body will follow. But we must know, my brethren, that there are some things that cannot ascend with Christ pride cannot, nor covetousness, nor brutishness no one of our diseases can ascend thither where our Healer is. And, therefore, if we would follow our Healer, we must needs leave our diseases and sins behind us.

R. Tempus est, ut revertar ad eum, qui me misit, dicit Dominus; nolite contristari, nec turbetur cor vestrum:
* Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Nisi ego abiero, Paraclitus non veniet: cum assumptus fuero, mittam vobis eum.
R. Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
R. My time is come that I should return unto Him That sent Me, saith the Lord. Be not sorrowful, neither let your heart be troubled. * I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you where I am ascended, I will send Him unto you.
R. I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: All such things tie us down, as it were, with bands, and hamper us in the meshes of a net of sins but, with God's help, we will say with the Psalmist "Let us break their bands asunder,", that we may be able honestly to say to the Lord " Thou hast loosed my bonds I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving," The Resurrection of the Lord is our hope the Ascension of the Lord is our glorification.

R. Non turbetur cor vestrum: ego vado ad Patrem; et cum assumptus fuero a vobis, mittam vobis, alleluia, * Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia.
V. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis.
R. Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia
R. Let not your heart be troubled I go unto the Father, and when I am taken from you, I will send unto you, alleluia, * The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.
R. The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Reading 7: Today we keep the solemn holiday of the Ascension. If, therefore, our keeping of this holiday is to be a right, faithful, earnest, holy, godly keeping, we must in mind likewise ascend, and lift up our hearts unto the Lord. When we ascend we must not be high-minded, nor flatter ourselves with our good works, as though they were our own. We must lift up our hearts unto the Lord. When man's heart is lifted up, but not unto the Lord, such lifting-up is pride to lift up the heart unto the Lord, is to make the Most High our Refuge. Behold, my brethren, a great wonder. God is high, but if thou art lifted up He fleeth from thee, whereas, if thou humblest thyself, He cometh down to thee. Wherefore? "The Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly but the proud He knoweth from afar."  To the lowly He hath respect, that He may raise them up the proud He knoweth from afar, that He may thrust them down.

R. Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem, * Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Ascendit Deus in iubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae.
R. Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
R. When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive * He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
R. He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 8: Christ arose again, to give us hope that this mortal will yet put on immortality He hath assured against an hopeless death, and against the thought that death endeth life. We were troubled, eyen as touching the soul but Christ, arising from the grave, hath assured to us the resurrection of the body also. Believe therefore, that thou mayest be made pure. First it behoveth thee to believe, if by faith thou wouldest in the end worthily see God. And wouldest thou see God Give ear to His own words " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Think first, then, how to purify thine heart take from it whatsoever thou seest in it which displeaseth God.

R: Ascendit Deus in jubilo, alleluia *  et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Gloria Patri...
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
R: God is ascended with jubilee, alleluia *and the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Christ ascending on high, he led captivity captive
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Glory be…
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia

Nocturn III (from St Augustine):

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to John - At that time, Jesus said unto His disciples: When the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And so on.

Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo - The Lord Jesus, in that discourse which He addressed to His disciples after the Last Supper, when He was on the very eve of the Passion, when He was, as it were, about to go away and leave them as touching His bodily Presence, albeit as touching His spiritual Presence He is with us alway even unto the end of the world, in that discourse He exhorted them to bear patiently the persecution of wicked men, of whom He speaketh as " the world " out of the which world, nevertheless, He saith that He hath chosen even His disciples themselves, that they might know that it was by the grace of God that they were what they were, whereas it was by their own sins that they had been what they had been.

R. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis,* Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
V. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos; si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
R. Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
R. I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, * That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.
V. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
R. That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.

Reading 10: If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." Here He clearly pointeth to the Jews, the persecutors both of Himself and of His disciples, so that we see that they which persecute His holy ones are as much citizens of the world of damnation as they which persecuted Himself. He saith " They know not Him That sent Me,", and yet again, " They have hated both Me and My Father," that is to say, both the Sender and the Sent, the meaning of which words we have already treated in other discourses and with that He cometh to the words " That the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law They hated Me without a cause."



R. Ponis nubem ascensum tuum, Domine: * Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.
V. Confessionem et decorem induisti, amictus lumen sicut vestimentum.
R. Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.

R. Thou makest the clouds the chariot, O Lord, * Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.
V. Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, covering thyself with light as with a garment;
R. Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.

Reading 11: Then saith the Lord, as though in continuation "But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning." 

R: Viri Galilæi, quid admiramini aspicientes in cælum? alleluia * quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
V: Cumque intuerentur in cælum euntem illum, ecce duo viri astiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis,qui et dixerunt
R: Quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
R. Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? Alleluia. * As you have seen him going into heaven, so shall he come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.
V.  And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.who also said:
R. As you have seen him going into heaven, shall so come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 12: What connection hath this with the words: "Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father but that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law They hated Me without a cause.” Is it that when the Comforter is come, even the Spirit of truth, He will confound by irrefutable testimony them who have both seen and hated both God the Son and God the Father? Yea, indeed, some there were who had seen and still hated, whom the testimony of the Comforter converted to the faith which worketh by love.


R. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos: si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
* Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Non enim loquetur a semetipso: sed quaecumque audiet, loquetur: et quae ventura sunt, annuntiabit vobis.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
R. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you: * And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.

Gospel (St John 15:26-16:4)

But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized.  They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you; because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But these things I have told you, that when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.

Ascensiontide Reflections of St Gregory, day 2

Vatican Codex
Continuing the series of readings for the old Octave of the Ascension:

And these signs shall follow them that believe In My Name they shall cast out devils they shall speak with new tongues they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." My brethren, these signs do not follow us. Do we, then, not believe Nay. The truth is, these things were needful when the Church was young. That she might grow by the increase of the faithful, she needed to be nourished with miracles. Even so we, when we plant a young tree, continually water and tend it till we see that it hath taken firm root in the earth but when once it hath taken firm root, it can grow of itself. Hence, Paul saith of tongues " Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not." 

We have a deeper matter of thought touching these signs and mighty works. It is the work of the holy Church to do every day spiritually that which the Apostles then did carnally. When her Priests, armed with the power of exorcism, lay their hands upon believers, and command evil spirits to dwell no longer in their souls, what is it they do but cast out devils. When Christ's faithful people themselves give up the language of their old life, and speak the wonderful works of God, the glory and power of their Maker, telling of them with all their strength, what is it they do then but speak with new tongues. When either the one or the other doth by his exhortation charm the wickedness out of his neighbour's heart, what is it he doth but take up serpents.

When they hear the voice of temptation inviting to deadly sin, but are not drawn thereby to work iniquity, do they not then drink a deadly thing, and it doth not hurt them. As often as they see their neighbour fainting in well-doing, and run to help him with all their might, so that their example braceth the feeble life of the waverer, what do they but lay hands on the sick and they recover And indeed, such miracles as these are the greatest miracles, which are spiritual the greatest, for they bring health, not to the dying body, but to the immortal soul.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Feast of St Bede the Venerable OSB (May 27)

The Matins reading and responsory for the feast are as follows:

Bede the priest was born at Jarrow, on the borders of England and Scotland. When a monk, he so arranged his life as to devote himself completely to the study of the liberal arts and sacred doctrine, without in any way relaxing the discipline of the Rule. There was no kind of learning in which he was not thoroughly versed; but his special interest was the study of the Scriptures; and when he was made a priest, he undertook the task of explaining the holy books. In doing so, he adhered to the teaching of the holy Fathers so closely that he would say nothing not already approved by their judgment, and he even made use of their very words. Abhorring laziness, he would go straight from reading to prayer and from prayer to reading. To raise the level of morality among Christians and to defend and spread the faith, he wrote many books, which gained him such a reputation with everyone that his writings were publicly read in churches during his own lifetime. At length, worn out with age and labours, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord. Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.

R. In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os ejus * Et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus.
V. Jucunditatem et exsultationem thesaurizavit super eum.
R. Et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus.
R. In the midst of the congregation did the Lord open his mouth. * And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. He made him rich with joy and gladness.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.

Ascensiontide reflections from St Gregory the Great: Day 2

Meister des Rabula-Evangeliums 001.jpg
Rubula Gospels, c6th

Before the assorted twentieth century reforms of the calendar, the feast of the Ascension had an Octave.  In the Benedictine Office, earlier in the twentieth century at least, the days of the Octave had three readings, extracted from the Homily of St Gregory that we started reading on the feast.

Accordingly, I though I would provide the readings by way of material for reflection during the season.

Here are today's sections:

"He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned." Perchance some man will say within himself: "I have already believed, and therefore I shall be saved." Thou hast well said, if thou showest thy faith by thy works. He only hath a true faith whose life doth not give the lie to his confession. Hence it is that Paul saith, touching some who were falsely faithful: "They profess that they know God but in works they deny Him."  And John likewise saith: "He that saith, I know Him and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar."

Once, then, it so standeth, it is to our lives we must look for proof of the reality of our faith. Then only are we truly Christ's faithful people when our works are the fulfilment of our profession. The day whereon we were baptized we bound ourselves to renounce all the works of the old enemy, and all his pomps. Therefore let every one of you now turn his inward eye upon his own behaviour, and if, since his baptism, he hath kept that promise which he made before it, let him know that he is in very truth one of Christ's faithful ones and let him rejoice.

But if he hath utterly broken his promise, if he hath fallen away to work iniquity, and to lust after the pomps of the world, let us see if he now knoweth how to weep over his backsliding. By the merciful Judge that man is not punished as a perjurer who in the end telleth the truth, even though he hath first lied. Because Almighty God doth, in His tender kindness, so receive our contrition, that, in His judgment, He declareth us not guilty of that which we have done amiss.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

St Augustine of Canterbury (May 26)

The one reading and responsory for the feast are as follows:

Augustine, a monk of the Lateran monastery in Rome, was sent by Gregory the Great in 597 to England with about forty monks as his companions. They were invited by King Ethelbert to Canterbury, the chief city of the kingdom, and they built an oratory nearby. Through preaching the doctrine of heaven, Augustine brought many of the islanders and the king himself to the Christian faith, to the great joy of the king's wife, Bertha, who was a Christian. By order of Pope Gregory, Augustine was ordained bishop and founded the see of Canterbury; by the same Pontiff he was granted the use of the pallium and the right to organize the hierarchy of England. At length, after suffering great hardships for Christ, having set Mellitus over the Church of London, Justus over that of Rochester, and Lawrence over his own Church, he made his journey to heaven on the 26th day of May. He was buried in the monastery of St. Peter, which then became the burial place of bishops of Canterbury and of several kings.

 R: Euge serve bone, et fidelis: quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam;* Intra in gaudium Domini tui.
V: Domine quinque talenta mihi tradidisti ecce alia quinque superlucratus sum.
R: Intra in gaudium Domini tui.
R: Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: * Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
V: Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
R: Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.



Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Feast of the Ascension

The readings for Matins of the Ascension in the Benedictine Office (1963):

Nocturn I (Acts 1: 1-3; 4-8; 9-11; 12-14)

Reading 1: The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach,  Until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

R. Post passionem suam per dies quadraginta apparens eis, et loquens de regno Dei, alleluia:
* Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
V. Et convescens praecepit eis, ab Ierosolymis ne discederent, sed exspectarent promissionem Patris.
R. Et videntibus illis elevatus est, alleluia: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum, alleluia.
R. Being seen of them forty days after that He had suffered, and speaking of the kingdom of God. Alleluia. * And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.
V. And, eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father.
R. And while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Alleluia.

Reading 2: And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth.  For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.They therefore who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power:  But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

R. Omnis pulchritudo Domini exaltata est super sidera:
* Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
V. A summo caelo egressio eius, et occursus eius usque ad summum eius.
R. Species eius in nubibus caeli, et nomen eius in aeternum permanet, alleluia.
R. The Lord hath set His beauty above the stars; * His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.
V. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it.
R. His loveliness is in the clouds of heaven, and His Name endureth for ever. Alleluia.

Reading 3: And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

R. Exaltare, Domine, alleluia, * In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Elevata est magnificentia tua super caelos, Deus.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. In virtute tua, alleluia.
R. Be Thou exalted, O Lord. Alleluia. * In thine Own strength. Alleluia.
V. O God, Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens.
R. In thine Own strength. Alleluia.

Reading 4: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day' s journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

R: Non vos relinquam orphanos. Alleluia.  Vado, et venio ad vos. Alleluia. * Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
V: In illo die vos cognoscetis quia ego sum in Patre meo, et vos in me, et ego in vobis.
R: Et gaudebit, cor vestrum. Alleluia.
R: I will not leave you orphans, Alleluia.   I go, and I will come to you. Alleluia. * And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V: In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
R: And your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Nocturn II (sermon 73 of St Leo)

Reading 5: After the blessed and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein the Divine Power raised up in three days the true Temple of God Which the iniquity of the Jews had destroyed  God was pleased to ordain, by His Most Sacred Will, and in His Providence for our instruction and the profit of our souls, a season of forty days which season, dearly beloved brethren, doth end on this day. During that season the bodily Presence of the Lord still lingered on earth, that the reality of the fact of His having risen again from the dead might be armed with all needful proofs.

R. Tempus est, ut revertar ad eum, qui me misit, dicit Dominus; nolite contristari, nec turbetur cor vestrum:
* Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Nisi ego abiero, Paraclitus non veniet: cum assumptus fuero, mittam vobis eum.
R. Rogo pro vobis Patrem, ut ipse vos custodiat, alleluia, alleluia.
R. My time is come that I should return unto Him That sent Me, saith the Lord. Be not sorrowful, neither let your heart be troubled. * I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you where I am ascended, I will send Him unto you.
R. I pray the Father for you, that He may keep you. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 6: The death of Christ had troubled the hearts of many of His disciples their thoughts were sad when they remembered His agony upon the Cross, His giving up of the Ghost, and the laying in the grave of His lifeless Body, and a sort of hesitation had begun to weigh on them.Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been fearful at the finishing on the Cross, and doubtful of the trustworthiness of the rising again, were so strengthened by the clear demonstration of the fact, that, when they saw the Lord going up into the height of heaven, they sorrowed not, nay they were even filled with great joy.

R. Non turbetur cor vestrum: ego vado ad Patrem; et cum assumptus fuero a vobis, mittam vobis, alleluia, * Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia.
V. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis.
R. Spiritum veritatis, et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia
R. Let not your heart be troubled I go unto the Father, and when I am taken from you, I will send unto you, alleluia, * The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.
V. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.
R. The Spirit of truth and your heart shall rejoice. Alleluia.

Reading 7: And, in all verity, it was a great an unspeakable cause for joy to see the Manhood, in the presence of that the multitude of believers, exalted above all creatures even heavenly, rising above the ranks of the angelic armies and speeding Its glorious way where the most noble of the Archangels lie far behind, to rest no lower than that place where high above all principality and power, It taketh Its seat at the right hand of the Eternal Father, Sharer of His throne, and Partaker of His glory, and still of the very man's nature which the Son hath taken upon Him.

R. Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem, * Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Ascendit Deus in iubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae.
R. Dedit dona hominibus, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
R. When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive * He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
R. He gave gifts unto men. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Reading 8: Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us also rejoice with worthy joy, for the Ascension of Christ is exaltation for us, and whither the glory of the Head of the Church is passed in, thither is the hope of the body of the Church called on to follow. Let us rejoice with exceeding great joy, and give God glad thanks. This day is not only the possession of Paradise made sure unto us, but in the Person of our Head we are actually begun to enter into the heavenly mansions above. Through the unspeakable goodness of Christ we have gained more than ever we lost by the envy of the devil. We, whom our venomous enemy thrust from our first happy home, we, being made of one body with the Son of God, have by Him been given a place at the right hand of the Father with Whom He liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

R: Ascendit Deus in jubilo, alleluia *  et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Ascendens Christus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
V: Gloria Patri...
R: Et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia, alleluia
R: God is ascended with jubilee, alleluia *and the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Christ ascending on high, he led captivity captive
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia
V: Glory be…
R: And the Lord with the sound of trumpet, alleluia, alleluia

Nocturn III  (from St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Mark - At that time, Jesus appeared unto the eleven disciples as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. And so on.

Homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great - I may be allowed to say that the disciples' slowness to believe that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, was not so much their weakness as our strength. In consequence of their doubts, the fact of the Resurrection was demonstrated by many infallible proofs. These proofs we read and acknowledge. What then assureth our faith, if not their doubt For my part, I put my trust in Thomas, who doubted long, much more than in Mary Magdalene, who believed at once. Through his doubting, he came actually to handle the holes of the Wounds, and thereby closed up any wound of doubt in our hearts.

R. Ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis,* Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
V. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos; si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
R. Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
R. I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, * That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.
V. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
R. That he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, alleluia.

Reading 10: Now confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke. "Eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem and a little afterward: "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Consider these words, note well these mysteries. After "eating together with them He was taken up." He ate and ascended: that the fact of His eating might show the reality of the Body in Which He went up. 


R. Ponis nubem ascensum tuum, Domine: * Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.
V. Confessionem et decorem induisti, amictus lumen sicut vestimentum.
R. Qui ambulas super pennas ventorum, alleluia.

R. Thou makest the clouds the chariot, O Lord, * Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.
V. Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, covering thyself with light as with a garment;
R. Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind. Alleluia.

Reading 11: But Mark telleth us that before the Lord ascended into heaven He upbraided His disciples; with their unbelief and hardness of heart. From this I know not why we should gather, but that the Lord then upbraided His disciples, for whom He was about to be parted in the body, to the end that the words which He spoke unto them as He left them might be the deeper imprinted on their hearts.


R: Viri Galilæi, quid admiramini aspicientes in cælum? alleluia * quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
V: Cumque intuerentur in cælum euntem illum, ecce duo viri astiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis,qui et dixerunt
R: Quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cælum, ita veniet, alleuia, alleluia
R. Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? Alleluia. * As you have seen him going into heaven, so shall he come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.
V.  And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.who also said:
R. As you have seen him going into heaven, shall so come, alleuia, alleluia, alleluia.

Reading 12: When then, He had rebuked the hardness of their heart, who command did He give them Let us hear. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Was the Holy Gospel, then my brethren, to be preached to thing insensate, or to brute beasts, that the Lord said to His disciples "Preach the Gospel to every creature." Nay but by the words "every creature" we must understand man, in whom are combined qualities of all creatures. Being he hath in common with stones, life in common with trees, feeling in common with beasts, understanding in common with angels. If, then, man hath something in common with every creature, man is to a certain extent every creature. The Gospel, then, if it be preached to man only, is preached to every creature.



R. Si enim non abiero, Paraclitus non veniet ad vos: si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.
* Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Non enim loquetur a semetipso: sed quaecumque audiet, loquetur: et quae ventura sunt, annuntiabit vobis.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Cum autem venerit ille, docebit vos omnem veritatem, alleluia.
R. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you: * And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And when he is come, he will guide you into all truth, alleluia.

The Gospel for the feast of the Ascension is from St Mark 16:

At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again.  And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues.  They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.  And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.  But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Vigil of the Ascension

The Vigil of the Ascension has one nocturn, with readings from Homily 104 of St Augustine on St John:

Reading 1:Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John: At that time Jesus lifted up His Eyes to heaven, and spake these words Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo: Our Lord, the Only-begotten and coeternal Son of the Father, was able, if need were, in and from the form of a servant, to pray in silence but He thus manifested Himself in prayer, remembering that He is our Teacher. Thus He made known unto us the prayer which He made for us since He was so great a Master that, not only His discourse to them, but His prayer to the Father for them, is an up-building to His disciples. And if it was so for them who were there to hear, truly it is so for us also for whose instruction it hath been written down.

R. Deus canticum novum cantabo tibi, alleluia: * In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Deus meus es tu, et confitebor tibi: Deus meus es tu, et exaltabo te.
R. In psalterio decem chordarum psallam tibi, alleluia, alleluia.
R. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God Alleluia. * Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.
V. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee Thou art my God, and I will exalt thee.
R. Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Alleluia, Alleluia.


Reading 2: Wherefore, by these words: " Father, the hour is come glorify thy Son" He showeth that all time, and all whatsoever He doth, or alloweth to be done, and the season wherein He will do or allow it, is alike ordained of Him Who is Himself not subject to time. Yea, all things which were then to come, or are yet to come now, have the reason why they should be, in the Wisdom of God, Which is Itself independent of all time. " The hour is come." We must not believe that that hour was brought on by the march of destiny, but was by ordination of God. No stars decreed irresistibly that the time was come for Christ to suffer God forbid that the revolutions of His planets should force death on Him Who made them.

R. Bonum est confiteri Domino, alleluia: * Et psallere, alleluia.
V. In decachordo psalterio, cum cantico et cithara.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Et psallere, alleluia.
R. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord Alleluia * And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the harp with a solemn sound.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And to sing praises Alleluia.

Reading 3: Come think that the glorification of the Son by the Father was that "He spared Him not, but delivered Him up for us all." But if we say that He was glorified by suffering, how much more shall we say that He was glorified by rising again While He suffered, His humbleness was more manifested than His glory, as witnesseth the Apostle, where he saith "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" then he addeth touching His glorification "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."  This is the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, that glorification whose first rays dawned on the Resurrection morning.

R: Alleluia audivimus ea in Ephrata invenimus eam in campis silvae * introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
V: Surge domine in requiem tuam tu et arca sanctificationis tuae
R: introibimus in tabernaculum ejus adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus alleluia alleluia
R: Alleluia. Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.* We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
V: Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.
R: We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.

Revelation 7: 9-8:1 The meaning of the seventh seal

BambergApocalypseFolio018vHomageToLamb.JPG
Bamburger Apocalypse

The second half of Revelation chapter 7 can be read two ways, according to St Bede.  On the one hand, it can be read as taking us to the ultimate triumph of the Church:
...he returns to the previous order, and announces the glory of those who are to overcome the wickedness of the last persecution. And that which follows, “From all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues,” may also be thus understood, that, after enumerating the tribes of Israel, to whom the Gospel was first preached, he desires to make mention of the salvation of the Gentiles as well.
But it can also be read, he suggests, as talking of the here and now:
The vision of the white-robed multitude may also be understood of the present time, when “we are saved in hope,” and “hoping for that which we see not, in patience wait for it.” 
Post hæc vidi turbam magnam, quam dinumerare nemo poterat, ex omnibus gentibus, et tribubus, et populis, et linguis: stantes ante thronum, et in conspectu Agni, amicti stolis albis, et palmæ in manibus eorum:
After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands:

St Bede explains that:
By “robes” he signifies baptism, by “palms” the triumph of the Cross, and he intimates that in Christ they have overcome the world. But robes may also double the glory which is given by the Holy Spirit.
10 et clamabant voce magna, dicentes: Salus Deo nostro, qui sedet super thronum, et Agno.
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.

That is:
They proclaim with a loud voice, that is, with great devotion, an unceasing praise, that on the throne, namely, in the Church, there reign the Father and the Son; the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, reigning together with them. For it is said, “To Him Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb;” in the same manner as it is said in the Gospel, “And may know Thee, the true and only God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent;” in which place, “may know the only and true God” is understood.
11 Et omnes angeli stabant in circuitu throni, et seniorum, et quatuor animalium: et ceciderunt in conspectu throni in facies suas, et adoraverunt Deum,
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God,

St Bede takes angels to be a generic term here:
In all the angels he has represented the persons of the great multitude worshipping the Lord. “All they,” he says, “who are round about Him will offer gifts.”
12 dicentes: Amen. Benedictio, et claritas, et sapientia, et gratiarum actio, honor, et virtus, et fortitudo Deo nostro in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
12 Saying: Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

St Bede draws attention to the seven different terms used here:
The Church offers the sevenfold praise of excellence unto the Lord, and in each of its members confesses to have received this from Him.
13 Et respondit unus de senioribus et dixit mihi: Hi, qui amicti sunt stolis albis, qui sunt? et unde venerunt?
13 And one of the ancients answered, and said to me: These that are clothed in white robes, who are they? and whence came they?

St Bede notes that this is a rhetorical question:
He asks for this end, that he may teach.
14 Et dixi illi: Domine mi, tu scis. Et dixit mihi: Hi sunt, qui venerunt de tribulatione magna, et laverunt stolas suas, et dealbaverunt eas in sanguine Agni.
14 And I said to him: My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me: These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

St Bede points out that though the way of the cross is common to all Christians, the trials of the end times will be much greater:
“Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God,” but who knows not that the tribulation of Antichrist will be greater than all the rest?
All Christians, though, are washed in the blood of the lamb:
He speaks not of martyrs alone. They are washed in their own blood. But the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, cleanses the whole Church from all sin, therefore are they before the throne of God. For they are accounted worthy to stand there together in the service of God, who in the midst of adverse things are faithful confessors of His Name.
15 Ideo sunt ante thronum Dei, et serviunt ei die ac nocte in templo ejus: et qui sedet in throno, habitabit super illos:
15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he, that sitteth on the throne, shall dwell over them.

St Bede suggests that day and night here means forever.  The throne of God he suggests, actually means the saints:
The saints are the throne of God, above whom and among whom the Lord for ever dwells.
16 non esurient, neque sitient amplius, nec cadet super illos sol, neque ullus æstus:
16 They shall no more hunger nor thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.

And here we find one of the several beautiful descriptions of heaven to be found in this book:
This it is which the Lord Himself promised, saying, “I am the bread of life: he who cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he who believeth in Me shall never thirst.” Yea, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”...“We passed,” he says, “through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a place of refreshment.”
17 quoniam Agnus, qui in medio throni est, reget illos et deducet eos ad vitæ fontes aquarum, et absterget Deus omnem lacrimam ab oculis eorum.
17 For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

On the reference to the lamb St Bede comments:
He says, that the Lamb is in the midst of the throne, in that he had said above, that “the Lamb received the book from Him Who sitteth upon the throne;” and teaches that the Church is one throne for the Father and the Son, in which one God, the undivided Trinity, dwells through faith.
The fountains of the waters of life can mean the vision of God or the company of the saints:
That is to say, to the company of the saints, who are the fountains of heavenly doctrine. The vision of God itself may also be signified, “in Whom are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” according to this that David says, “As the hart longeth for the fountains of waters, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God.”
Our tears will be wiped away because:
When the fulness of immortal bliss is gained, all sorrow will be at once consigned to forgetfulness. For, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

St Bede's comment on the opening verse of chapter 8 of Revelation marks the end of 'Book I' (of three) of his commentary:

Et cum aperuisset sigillum septimum, factum est silentium in cælo, quasi media hora.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.

St Bede:
It is believed that after the death of Antichrist, there will be some little rest in the Church, which Daniel thus foretold: “Blessed is he who waiteth and cometh to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” And it is thus interpreted by the blessed Jerome: “Blessed,” he says, “is he, who when Antichrist is slain, beyond the one thousand two hundred and ninety days, that is, three years and a half, waits for the forty-five days, in which the Lord and Saviour is to come in His own Majesty. 
Now for what reason, after the destruction of Antichrist, there is silence for forty-five days, is a subject of divine knowledge, unless perhaps we say, the deferring of the kingdom of the saints is the trial of patience.” 
Observe that at the sixth seal, he sees the greatest afflictions of the Church, at the seventh, rest. For the Lord was crucified on the sixth day of the week, and rested on the Sabbath, awaiting the time of resurrection. Thus far concerning the opening of the closed book, and the six seals.
Ascension and Pentecost

And at this point I am going to leave this series on Revelation, at least for the moment (I may resume after the octave of Pentecost if anyone is interested - please let me know), since the rest of the next few weeks are devoted to an important series of feasts that either have readings set for the day, or used to have, and deserve their own meditation!

If you wish to continue on by yourself though, you can find the rest of St Bede's commentary here or here.