Saturday, 27 August 2016

Matins readings for the Fifteen Sunday after Pentecost (Nocturn III)

Nocturn III (St Augustine)

Reading 9: That her son was called again to life was the joy of that widowed mother; that souls of men are every day called to life is the joy of our Mother the Church. He was dead in body they have been dead in mind. His death was outward, and was outwardly bewailed; their inward. Death hath been neither mourned for nor seen. But He hath sought for them, Who hath seen that they are dead, and He only hath seen that they are dead, Who hath been able to make them alive. If He had not come to raise the dead, the Apostle had not said: "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: We find written how the Lord raised from the dead three persons visibly, but thousands invisibly. But how many they may have been whom He raised visibly, who knoweth For all the things which He did are not written. John saith thus: "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.". There were then, doubtless, many more raised to life, but it is not meaningless that three are recorded.

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: For our Lord Jesus Christ hath willed that those things which He did carnally, we should understand also spiritually. He worked not miracles only for the sake of working wonders, but that His works might be at once wonderful to them that beheld, and true to them that understand them. Even as one that looketh upon a scroll right fairly written, and knoweth not how to read therein, praiseth the hand of the old scribe when he seeth the beauty of the points, but what it saith, what those points mean, he knoweth not, and praiseth by the eye, without understanding by the mind.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: And as, on the other hand, he that can not only gaze on it, as can all men, but also can read it, praiseth the penmanship, and catcheth the sense likewise, which the unlearned cannot do even so. There were some that saw the miracles which Christ did, and understood not what they meant, nor what they, as it were, hinted to such as did understand them, and these only marvelled to see them wrought. And other some there were which saw the works, and marvelled, and understood them, and profited by them. And it is as these last that we ought to be in the school of Christ.

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 is St Luke 7: 11-16:

11 Et factum est: deinceps ibat in civitatem quæ vocatur Naim: et ibant cum eo discipuli ejus et turba copiosa. 12 Cum autem appropinquaret portæ civitatis, ecce defunctus efferebatur filius unicus matris suæ: et hæc vidua erat: et turba civitatis multa cum illa. 13 Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super eam, dixit illi: Noli flere. 14 Et accessit, et tetigit loculum. (Hi autem qui portabant, steterunt.) Et ait: Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. 15 Et resedit qui erat mortuus, et cœpit loqui. Et dedit illum matri suæ. 16 Accepit autem omnes timor: et magnificabant Deum, dicentes: Quia propheta magnus surrexit in nobis: et quia Deus visitavit plebem suam.

11] And it came to pass afterwards, that he went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples, and a great multitude. [12] And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. [13] Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. [14] And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. [15] And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. [16] And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited his people.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Matins readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Nocturn III)

Matins readings (St Augustine) 

Reading 9: "No man can serve two masters," and this is further explained "for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." These words we ought carefully to weigh, for the Lord showeth straightway who be the two masters whom we have choice of: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." 

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: Mammon is a term which the Hebrews are said to use for riches. It is also a Carthaginian word for the Punic for "gain" is "mammon." He which serveth mammon, serveth that evil one who hath perversely chosen to be lord of these earthly things, and is called by the Lord "the prince of this world." 

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: Of these two masters, either a man will hate the one and love the other, that is God or he will hold to the one and despise the other. He which serveth mammon holdeth to an hard and destroying master, for he is led captive by his lust, and sold a slave to the devil, and him loveth no man is there any man that loveth the devil And yet there be that hold to him.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: "Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on lest, albeit such things are not idle, but needful to be sought after, yet the seeking for things even needful should divide the heart and our intention should be corrupted when we do something as it were mercifully that is, lest, when we would seem to be seeking another's good, it should be profit to ourselves, rather than benefit to him, that we seek and therefore we seem not to ourselves to sin, because we would seek things not idle, but needful.

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: St Matthew 6:24-33:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?  Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit?  And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.  But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.  And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?  Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?  For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.  Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

In 2016, Nocturns I&II in the Benedictine Office this Sunday are for the second Sunday of August.

Nocturn III: Homily of St Augustine, questions on the Gospels, 2:40

Reading 9: The ten lepers "lifted up their voices and said: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them Go, show yourselves unto the Priests. And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed." Question why did the Lord send them unto the Priests, that, as they went, they might be cleansed Lepers were the only class among those upon whose bodies He worked mercy, whom we find that He sent unto the Priests. It is written in another place that He said to a leper whom He had cleansed " Go, and show thyself to the Priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them"

R. O Lord, Father and God of my life, leave me not to evil counsels; give me not a proud look, but turn away from me an haughty mind, O Lord turn away from me concupiscence,
* And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord!
V. Leave me not, O Lord, lest mine ignorance increase, and my sins abound.
R. And give me not over unto an impudent and froward mind, O Lord.

Reading 10: We ask then, of what leprosy was a type, whereof they that were ridded were called, not "healed," but "cleansed." It is a disease which doth first appear in the skin, but destroyeth not immediately the strength, nor the use of feeling and the limbs. The lepers, therefore, we may not absurdly suppose such to be figured as have not the knowledge of the true faith, but do show forth divers-coloured teachings of error. They hide not their witlessness, but do use all such wit as they have to make it manifest, and proclaim it in high-sounding phrases.

R. Lord, thine eyes behold all that is in the heart of man, and in thy book are they all written.
* Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.
V. For He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
R. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.

Reading 11: There is no false doctrine but hath some truth mixed up with it. A man's discourse then, with some truths in it unequally mingled with falsehoods, and all confounded in one mass, is like to the body of one that is stricken with leprosy, whereon all manner of foul colours do appear in this and that place along with the true colour of skin.

R. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.* For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.
V. My son, attend unto my wisdom, and incline thine ear unto my sayings.
R. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head.

Reading 12: Such men as these are banished out of the walls of the Church, to the end that haply when they stand afar off they may lift up their voices and cry to Christ for pardon, just as those ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off, outside the village, lifted up their voices and said "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." That they styled Him Master, by which title I know not if any besought the Lord for bodily healing, I think doth sufficiently show that leprosy signifieth false doctrine, whereof the Good Master doth cleanse us.

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.

This Sunday's Gospel in the traditional calendar is St Luke 17: 11-19:

A time came when he was on his way to Jerusalem, and was passing between Samaria and Galilee; and as he was going into a village, ten men that were lepers came towards him; they stood far off, crying aloud, Jesus, Master, have pity on us.  He met them with the words, Go and shew yourselves to the priests; and thereupon, as they went, they were made clean.  One of them, finding that he was cured, came back, praising God aloud, and threw himself at Jesus’ feet with his face to the ground, to thank him; and this was a Samaritan. Jesus answered, Were not all ten made clean? And the other nine, where are they? Not one has come back to give God the praise, except this stranger. And he said to him, Arise and go on thy way, thy faith has brought thee recovery.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Hebrews 13:17-25 - The God of peace

Hebrews 13:17-19
Obey those who have charge of you, and yield to their will; they are keeping unwearied watch over your souls, because they know they will have an account to give. Make it a grateful task for them: it is your own loss if they find it a laborious effort. Pray for us; we trust we have a clear conscience, and the will to be honourable in all our dealings. And I make this request the more earnestly, in the hope of being restored to you the sooner. 
Obedite præpositis vestris, et subjacete eis. Ipsi enim pervigilant quasi rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri, ut cum gaudio hoc faciant, et non gementes: hoc enim non expedit vobis. Orate pro nobis: confidimus enim quia bonam conscientiam habemus in omnibus bene volentes conversari. Amplius autem deprecor vos hoc facere, quo celerius restituar vobis. 

Obey your leaders [prelates]: Here it should be noted that there are two things we owe our prelates, namely, obedience to their precepts; hence, he says, obey: ‘Obedience is better than victims’, and reverence, so that we honor them as fathers and subject ourselves to their discipline. Therefore, he says, and be subject to them: ‘Be subject to every human creature’; ‘He that resists the power, resists God’s ordinance’.

Prelates will be held to account: ...for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give an account.. For prelates will render an account of those committed to them, when on the day of judgement, they will be asked: ‘Where is the flock that is given you, your beautiful cattle? What will you say in your heart? For you taught them against you (by saying good things are doing evil) you instructed them against your head by your bad example’...

Pray for us: Thus does the Apostle tell them how they should act in regard to him: for he asks that they pray for him...Therefore, in asking that they pray for him the Apostle, who was certain that he was acceptable to God, was striking at the pride of those who scorned asking prayers of others, as a Gloss says.

Hebrews 13:20-21
May God, the author of peace, who has raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, that great shepherd, whose flock was bought with the blood of an eternal covenant, grant you every capacity for good, to do his will. May he carry out in you the design he sees best, through Jesus Christ, to whom glory belongs throughout all ages, Amen.
Deus autem pacis, qui eduxit de mortuis pastorem magnum ovium, in sanguine testamenti æterni, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, aptet vos in omni bono, ut faciatis ejus voluntatem: faciens in vobis quod placeat coram se per Jesum Christum: cui est gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. 
Peace:  In regard to the first he describes the One Whom he seeks, saying the God peace. For God’s proper effect is to make peace, because ‘he is not a God of dissension but of peace’ and ‘have peace: and the God of peace and love shall be with you’. For peace is nothing more than unity of affections, which God alone can make one, because hearts are united by charity, which is from God alone. For God knows how to gather and unite, because God is love, which is the bond of perfection. Hence, ‘he makes men of one manner to dwell in a house’. For man made peace between himself and God through the ministry of Christ.

Raised from the dead: ...But sometimes Christ is said to have been raised up by the Father’s power: ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead’; and sometimes He is said to have raised Himself: ‘I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up’ (Ps. 3:6). But these statements are not contrary, because He rose by God’s power, which is one in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, he brought him again from the dead, i.e., from the tomb, which is the place of the dead: ‘As Christ rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also shall walk in the newness of life'.

The great shepherd of the sheep:... i.e., of the faithful and the humble: ‘I am the good shepherd, and I know mine, and mine know me’; for the sheep are they who obey God: ‘And my sheep hear my voice’. But he calls him the great shepherd, because all others are His vicars, for He feeds His own sheep, but the others feed Christ’s sheep: ‘Feed my sheep’; ‘When the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory’.

The blood of the eternal covenant, i.e., in virtue of the blood of Christ by Whom is confirmed the New Covenant, in which eternal things are promised, but not in the Old. For Christ calls His blood the blood of the New Covenant; but the Apostle says, of the everlasting covenant. Therefore, both are mentioned in the words of the consecration of the Blood. But Christ by His passion merited the glory of His resurrection for Himself and for us; hence, he says, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus. . . by the blood of the eternal covenant: ‘He humbled himself, being made obedient unto death’; ‘By the blood of your testament you have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water’.

May he equip [fit] you with everything good. For the human will, since it is the inclination of reason, is the principle of human acts, as heaviness is the principle of downward movement of heavy bodies; hence it is related to the acts of human reason as a natural inclination to natural acts. But a natural thing is said to be fit for that to which it has an inclination. So, too, man, when he has the will to do good, is said to be fit for it. God, too, when He inserts a good will in a man, fits him, i.e., makes him fit. Therefore, he says, May God fit you with every good that you may do his will, i.e., make you will every good: ‘The desire of the just is every good’ (Pr. 2:3). For this is God’s will, namely, what God wills us to will; otherwise, our will is not good. But the will of God is our good: ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’; ‘That you may prove what is the good and acceptable and the perfect will of God’...

Hebrews 13: 22-25
I entreat you, brethren, bear patiently with all these words of warning; it is but a brief letter I am sending you.You must know that our brother Timothy has been set at liberty; if he comes soon, I will bring him with me when I visit you. Greet all those who are in authority, and all the saints. The brethren from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all, Amen. 
Rogo autem vos fratres, ut sufferatis verbum solatii. Etenim perpaucis scripsi vobis.  Cognoscite fratrem nostrum Timotheum dimissum: cum quo (si celerius venerit) videbo vos.  Salutate omnes præpositos vestros, et omnes sanctos. Salutant vos de Italia fratres.  Gratia cum omnibus vobis. Amen

Conclusion to the epistle: Then  he adds a petition in which he excuses himself; then he concludes the epistle. In regard to the first he does three things: first, he gives his excuse; secondly, he recommends the messenger through whom he writes; thirdly, he sends several greetings...Then he concludes in his accustomed manner, as though sealing it with a personal greeting: Grace be with all of you. Amen, i.e., the remission of sins and any other of God’s gifts, which are obtained through the grace of God, be firmly with all of you. The Amen is a confirmation of everything.

Next up!

And that brings to an end this series of notes from St Thomas Aquinas on \the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Hebrews 13:15-16 - The sacrifice of praise

The sacrifice of praise: Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
Per ipsum ergo offeramus hostiam laudis semper Deo, id est, fructum labiorum confitentium nomini ejus. 
The sacrifice of praise: Then when he says, By him them let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, he presents the second conclusion, namely, that we should sacrifice upon the altar and offer certain kinds of sacrifice. For there are two kinds of sacrifice that we should offer upon Christ’s altar, namely, devotion to God and mercy towards our neighbor.

Confessing his name with our lips: ..But that sacrifice of praise is called the fruit of our lips, i.e., confession with the mouth. For God is praised better by the mouth than by the killing of animals; hence he says, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, for this is necessary: ‘With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation’; ‘We will render the calves of our lips’; ‘I created the fruit of the lips’ (Is. 57:19). But this sacrifice should be offered always, i.e., continually, as there was a continual sacrifice during the Law, as it says in Numbers: ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be always in my mouth’.

St John Chrysostom comments on this verse:
And by Him let us offer a sacrifice to God. Of what kind of sacrifice does he speak? The fruit of lips giving thanks to His Name. They [the Jews] brought sheep, and calves, and gave them to the Priest: let us bring none of these things, but thanksgiving. This fruit let our lips put forth.
For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Let us give such a sacrifice to Him, that He may offer [it] to The Father. For in no other way it is offered except through the Son, or rather also through a contrite mind. All these things [are said] for the weak. For that the thanks belong to the Son is evident: since otherwise, how is the honor equal? That all men (He says) should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  Wherein is the honor equal? The fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.
Good works: Hebrews 13:16
Meanwhile, you must remember to do good to others and give alms; God takes pleasure in such sacrifice as this.
Beneficentiæ autem et communionis nolite oblivisci: talibus enim hostiis promeretur Deus.
Works of mercy: He mentions another sacrifice, when he says, Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have. As if to say: You formerly performed works of mercy; but now at least with the heart, if you cannot in deed. Therefore, he says, Do not neglect to do good, be liberal, in regard to the things you give: ‘In doing good, let us not fail’; ‘Do good to the humble, and give not to the ungodly'. Do not forget to share what you have, i.e., the things you have saved: ‘All they that believed were together, and had all things in common’; ‘Communicating to the necessities of the saints’. Or share, namely, by charity, through which all things are common.

Merit of such sacrifices: But why should we share that double benefit is shown when he says: for such sacrifices are pleasing to God, i.e., we can merit God by such sacrifices: ‘I am your protector and your reward exceeding great’; ‘Then you shall accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings’; ‘They shall worship him with sacrifices and offerings; and they shall make vows to the Lord and perform them’.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hebrews 13:9-14 No lasting city

St Thomas Aquinas' commentary follows below, but can I also recommend the excellent lecture on these verses (and the two that follow in the next post) by Dr Peter Kwasniewski reprodeuced over at Rorate Caeli.

The gift of grace: Hebrews 13:9-13
Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them. We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Doctrinis variis et peregrinis nolite abduci. Optimum est enim gratia stabilire cor, non escis: quæ non profuerunt ambulantibus in eis. Habemus altare, de quo edere non habent potestatem, qui tabernaculo deserviunt. Quorum enim animalium infertur sanguis pro peccato in Sancta per pontificem, horum corpora cremantur extra castra. Propter quod et Jesus, ut sanctificaret per suum sanguinem populum, extra portam passus est. Exeamus igitur ad eum extra castra, improperium ejus portantes. 

Imitate the faith of the apostles: ...Here it should be noted that since truth consists in the mean, which is one, many false statements can be opposed to one truth, just as there are many extremes to one middle. Therefore, the doctrine of faith is one, because only one line can be drawn between two points. But all other doctrines are manifold, because there are many deviations from what is straight...

The heart strengthened by grace: ...Here it should be noted that in the early Church there was one error rampant, namely, that it was necessary for salvation to observe the ceremonies of the Law, which consisted especially in partaking of certain foods, such as the paschal lamb (Ex. 12) and in abstaining from certain foods, as is clear from Leviticus (chap. 12) and from other passages.

Christ's sacrifice prefigured in the blood of the heifer and goat taken into the holy of holies: ...Therefore, the immolated heifer and goat is Christ, the Priest, offering Himself for our sins. Therefore, the blood of Christ was brought into the holies and the flesh burned outside the camp. Two things were thereby signified: one, that Christ was immolated in the city by the tongues of the Jews; hence Mark says that He was crucified at the third hour, although He was raised on the Cross at the sixth hour. The other is that by virtue of His Passion Christ brings us within the heavenly holies to the Father. But the fact that the bodies were burned outside the camp, as to our Head, signifies that Christ would suffer outside the gate; but as to us, who are the members, it signifies that Christ is immolated for those who are outside the camp of ceremonies of the Law and of the external senses.

Strengthen our hearts not with food, but with grace; for we cannot do otherwise, because we have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. That altar is the Cross of Christ, on which He was immolated; or Christ Himself in Whom and by Whom we offer our prayers. This is the golden altar spoken of in Rev. Of that altar, therefore, they have no right to eat, i.e., to receive the fruit of Christ’s passion and to be incorporated into Him as head, who serve the tabernacle of the ceremonies of the Law... For such persons received no profit: ‘He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement to himself’. But the body is called a tabernacle, because we dwell in it as in a war against enemies and it remains a short while: ‘The laying away of my tabernacle is at hand’. Therefore, it should not be served.

Christ and the saints prefigured: ...Whose blood was brought into the heavenly holies for the sin of the whole world, suffered by fire on the altar of the Cross, and was burned outside the camp, i.e., outside the common society of men, with the fire of charity, with fasts, prayers, and other works of mercy. For these the blood of Christ was efficaciously brought into the holies.

No lasting city: Hebrews 13:14
For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.  
Non enim habemus hic manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus. 
No lasting city: ...For our end is not in the things of the Law or in temporal things: ‘Our end is Christ unto the salvation of all who believe’. Therefore, we have not here a lasting city, but where Christ is. Therefore, let us go to Him: ‘If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God’; ‘Look upon Sion, the city of our solemnity’; ‘He looked for a city that has foundations; whose builder and maker is God’. They also seek a better city, i.e., the heavenly one. For we strive to be transferred to it as to our place and altar. Therefore, let us go to it.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hebrews 13:1-8

St Thomas Aquinas summarises the final chapter of Hebrews as follows:
Having instructed them how to bear with evil, the Apostle now tells them how to act in doing good. Hence, according to a Gloss he is beginning his moral instruction after commending and urging them to imitate him. in regard to this he does two things: first, he urges them to good; secondly, he prays for them (v. 20). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he shows them how to do good to their neighbor; secondly, to themselves (v. 4); thirdly, to prelates (v. 7).  He says, therefore: Thus, we have said that an immovable kingdom has been promised to us. If we would enter it, we must have charity...
Hebrews 13: 1-5
Let the charity of the brotherhood abide in you. And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.  Remember them that are in bands, as if you were bound with them; and them that labour, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have; for he hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.
Caritas fraternitatis maneat in vobis, et hospitalitatem nolite oblivisci: per hanc enim latuerunt quidam, angelis hospitio receptis. Mementote vinctorum, tamquam simul vincti: et laborantium, tamquam et ipsi in corpore morantes. Honorabile connubium in omnibus, et thorus immaculatus. Fornicatores enim, et adulteros judicabit Deus. Sint mores sine avaritia, contenti præsentibus: ipse enim dixit: Non te deseram, neque derelinquam: 

The importance of hospitality: ...He makes special mention of hospitality, because a person who receives travelers does three acts of charity at once, because he receives and feeds and gives them drink: ‘Using hospitality one towards another without murmuring’ (1 Pt 4:9). He gives the reason when he says, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, as in the case of Abraham and Lot (Gen. 18 & 19).

Those imprisoned for love of God: Remember them that are in prison, i.e., those who for the love of God were sent to prison. Remember them by visiting and redeeming, as though in prison with them: ‘I was in prison and you visited me’... But it particularly pertains to a work of mercy to regard another’s suffering as one’s own.

Those that are ill-treated [labor] either with bodily labor: Remember, since you are also in the body, by which you have experienced what those who labor need: ‘Judge of the disposition of your neighbor by yourself'; ‘All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them’.

Sexual sins: ..sin in regard to sex occurs in two ways: in one way by the illicit union of one married person with another; as to this he says, Let marriage be held in honor among all who would not be continent: not fornication... In another way by violating the marriage bed, as when a husband approaches another man’s wife, or a woman another’s husband...for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

he forbids them to covet external goods: in regard to which one might sin in two ways: in one way by being niggardly; in another way by being covetous. For liberality is a virtue which inclines one to the happy medium between giving and retaining money.

Don't be anxious: do what lies in our power with trust in God’s help: for he has said: ‘I will not leave you, without giving you what you need; neither will I forsake you, lest you perish from hunger’; ‘I have not seen the just forsaken, not his seed seeking bread’. Or I will not forsake you without freeing you from evil. This causes confidence in the heart so that we can confidently say, ‘I will deal confidently and will not fear’.

Hebrews 13:6-8
So that we may confidently say: The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man shall do to me.  Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever. 
ita ut confidenter dicamus: Dominus mihi adjutor: non timebo quid faciat mihi homo. Mementote præpositorum vestrorum, qui vobis locuti sunt verbum Dei: quorum intuentes exitum conversationis, imitamini fidem. Jesus Christus heri, et hodie: ipse et in sæcula.

And what shall we say? The words of Ps. 117: ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me.’ He is a helper inasmuch as He delivers from evil: ‘A helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly’; therefore, I will not fear what man shall do to me, i.e., any carnal adversary: ‘Who are you to be afraid of a mortal man?’; or the devil who is called a man overcome by a man, as Scipio was called African, because he was defeated in Africa: ‘A hostile man has done this’.

Prelates: ...he shows how they should act in regard to their dead prelates, namely, follow their example; secondly, in regard to those living, namely, obey them...Remember your leaders [prelates], those who spoke to you the word of God, i.e., the apostles, who have preached to you: ‘Look unto Abraham, your father, and to Sarah that bore you’. But they not only preached by word, by showed what to do by action... But imitate not only the outcome of their life, so as to suffer patiently for Christ, but also their manner of life: for a good life leads to a good death: Whose faith follow and do not depart from it.

Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same forever: the Apostle says that Christ remains; hence, he says that we should serve Him. And so he says, Jesus Christ, yesterday, namely, in the time of the first apostles, and today, namely, in their time, and the same forever: ‘I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world’; ‘Says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’ (Rev. 1:8); ‘But you are always the selfsame, and your years shall not fail’. In these words he shows the eternity of Christ.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Hebrews 12:22-29 The city of God

Today's verses of Hebrews are, I think, its climax, in taking us to the City of God.  St Thomas Aquinas summarises this section as follows:
Then he mentions the conditions of the New Testament, saying: But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God. Here he shows the things proposed to us in it; and three things are promised to us, namely, the hope of future glory, participation in the Church, and familiarity with God.
Hebrews 12:22-23
But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, And to the church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, 
Sed accessistis ad Sion montem, et civitatem Dei viventis, Jerusalem cælestem, et multorum millium angelorum frequentiam, et ecclesiam primitivorum, qui conscripti sunt in cælis, et judicem omnium Deum, et spiritus justorum perfectorum, 

The joy of heaven: In heavenly glory there are two things which will particularly gladden the just, namely, the enjoyment of the godhead and companionship with the saints. For no good is joyfully possessed without companions, as Boethius says: and in Ps. 132: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together.’

The peace of divine contemplation: But enjoyment consists in two things, namely, in the intellect’s vision and in the will’s delight. For, as Augustine says: ‘We enjoy the things we know, in which the delighted will rests.’ Because of the vision he says, You have come to mount Zion, for Zion signifies the loftiness of divine contemplation: ‘Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnity’. The gladness and pleasure of the will is signified by the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the city of the living God: ‘Jerusalem, which is built as a city’ (Ps. 121); ‘Who has placed peace in your borders: and filled you with the fat of corn’ (Ps. 147); ‘That Jerusalem which is above is free’. Hence, there will be nothing further to be desired: ‘Since I am become in his presence as one finding peace’.

The company of the angels:...‘Their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven. That there are thousands is clear from Daniel: ‘Thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him’; ‘Is there any numbering of his soldiers?’; ‘And the number of them was thousands of thousands’.

The members of the Church: And to the assembly of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven: these are the members of the Church, which is called the house of God. The firstborn saints, who received the gifts of grace first and more abundantly, are the apostles, through whom it flows to others: ‘And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit’; ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’....

A judge who is God of all: he shows how they have attained familiarity with God: first, with God the Father, because you are come to a judge Who is God of all, i.e., God the Father, from Whom judicial authority proceeds. For it is from the Father that the Son has power to judge... Secondly, familiarity with the Holy Spirit when he says, and to the spirits of just men made perfect...For all justice and perfection is from the Holy Spirit...

Hebrews 12:24-29
And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.  See that you refuse him not that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon the earth, much more shall not we, that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven. Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more, and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also. And in that he saith, Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable. Therefore receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace; whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence.  For our God is a consuming fire.
et testamenti novi mediatorem Jesum, et sanguinis aspersionem melius loquentem quam Abel. Videte ne recusetis loquentem. Si enim illi non effugerunt, recusantes eum, qui super terram loquebatur: multo magis nos, qui de cælis loquentem nobis avertimus. Cujus vox movit terram tunc: nunc autem repromittit, dicens: Adhuc semel, et ego movebo non solum terram, sed et cælum. Quod autem, Adhuc semel, dicit: declarat mobilium translationem tamquam factorum, ut maneant ea quæ sunt immobilia.  Itaque regnum immobile suscipientes, habemus gratiam: per quam serviamus placentes Deo, cum metu et reverentia. Etenim Deus noster ignis consumens est.
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant: As if to say: You have come to Christ, Who is the mediator of that new pact in which spiritual things are promised to us... And the Apostle speaks according to the rite of the Old Law where, after the Law was given, the People were sprinkled with blood, which was a figure of Christ’s blood, by which the faithful were to be cleansed...For the shedding of Christ’s blood was prefigured in the shedding of the blood of all the just from the beginning of the world: Therefore, the shedding of Abel’s blood was a sign of that shedding. But Christ’s blood speaks better than Abel’s blood, which cries for vengeance, but Christ’s blood cried for pardon...

Listen: Beware of excusing yourselves from listening to him who is speaking to you. There was no escape for those others, who tried to excuse themselves when God uttered his warnings on earth; still less for us, if we turn away when he speaks from heaven. 26 His voice, even then, made the earth rock; now, he has announced to us that it shall happen again, only once; he will shake earth and heaven too. Only once again; that means that what is shaken, this created universe, will be removed; only the things which cannot be shaken are to stand firm. 28 The kingdom we have inherited is one which cannot be shaken; in gratitude for this, let us worship God as he would have us worship him, in awe and reverence; no doubt of it, our God is a consuming fire...

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken: ...after commending in many ways the grace and benefits conferred and to be conferred upon us by Christ, his main desire is to induce us to serve Him. he concludes that inasmuch as immovable things are promised in the New Testament, we should serve Christ Who promised them, in fear and reverence. And that is the principal conclusion.

Whereby let us serve: For natural reason dictates that we are obligated to show reverence and honor to anyone from whom we receive many favors; therefore, much more to God, Who has given us the greatest things and has promised us an infinitude of them. Hence, he says that by that grace, namely, given and to be given to us, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.

Outward and inward action: For it is not enough merely to serve God, which can be done by outward action; we must also please Him by a right intention and by love...But God is especially served by an inward service: ‘Let us serve him in holiness and justice’. Now by reason of creation God is called Lord, but by reason of regeneration, Father. But to a Lord fear is owed, and to a Father love and reverence: ‘The son honors the father, and the servant fears his lord. If I am your father, where is my honor; and if I am your Lord, where is my fear’. Therefore, the Lord should be served in fear and in reverence: ‘Serve the Lord in fear; and rejoice unto him with trembling’.

God is the fire that consumes sins: That we should serve God in that manner he proves by the authority of Deuteronomy (4:24): For our God is a consuming fire. When God is said to be a fire, it does not mean that He is something corporeal, but it is because intelligible things are designated by sense-perceptible things, among which fire has greater nobility and clarity; and greater activity; and a higher natural place; and is more cleansing and more consuming. Therefore, God is especially called fire on account of His clarity, because He inhabits light inaccessible, and because He is supremely active: ‘You have worked all our works in us’, and He is in a loftier place: ‘The Lord is high above all nations; and his glory above the heavens’. Furthermore, he cleanses and as it were, consumes sins; hence, he says that he is a consuming fire: ‘He is like a refining fire’; and he continues: ‘And he shall purify the sons of Levi’; ‘making purgation of sins’...

Sunday, 7 August 2016

September 8: Nativity of Our Lady

Nocturn I: Songs 1:1-16

Reading 1:  Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee. Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.

R. This day was the Blessed Virgin Mary born of the lineage of David.
* The same is she through whom the salvation of the world hath been manifested before the eyes of all believers. This is she whose glorious life hath given light to the world.
V. Let us keep with rejoicing the Birth-day of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. The same is she through whom the salvation of the world hath been manifested before the eyes of all believers. This is she whose glorious life hath given light to the world.

Reading 2:  I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept. Show me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.

R. Let us keep right heartily the Birthday of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
* That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.
V. Let us keep with right hearty rejoicing the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading 3: If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds. To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love. Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels. We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.

R. Let us tell again of the right worthy Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
* The same is she whose lowliness the Lord regarded, she who by the message of an Angel conceived the Saviour of the world.
V. Let us keep right earnestly the Birth-day of the most Blessed Virgin Mary.
R. The same is she whose lowliness the Lord regarded, she who by the message of an Angel conceived the Saviour of the world.

Reading 4: While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts. A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi. Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.

(responsory not available)

Nocturn II: Sermon of St Bernard (not available online)

Reading 5:

R. This day was born the glorious Virgin Mary, a child of the seed of Abraham, a daughter of the tribe of Judah, a Princess of the lineage of David.
* This is she whose famous life still sheddeth lustre upon all the Churches.
V. This day was the Blessed Virgin Mary born of the lineage of David.
R. This is she whose famous life still sheddeth lustre upon all the Churches.

Reading 6:

R. Let us keep with rejoicing the Birthday of the Blessed Mary,* That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.
V. With all our heart and with all our soul let us sing praise to Christ on this the solemn Feastday of Mary the mighty Mother of God.
R. That she may pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading 7:

R. Thy Birth, O Virgin Mother of God, was a message of joy to the whole world;
* For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness, even Christ our God, Who hath taken away the curse and brought a blessing, confounded death, and given unto us everlasting life.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.
R. For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness, even Christ our God.

Reading 8:

Nocturn III (Homily of St Jerome)

Reading 9: In Isaiah we read: "Who shall declare His generation?" Let us not think that there is any contradiction between the Prophet and the Evangelist, because the Prophet saith that this thing cannot be done, and the Evangelist beginneth by doing it. The one speaketh of the generation of the Divine (Word by the Eternal Father,) the other of the (family in which the) Incarnation (took place.) Matthew beginneth with carnal things, that by learning of men we may go on to learn of God.

R. All generations shall call me blessed,
* For the Lord that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his Name.
V. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
R. For the Lord that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his Name.

Reading 10:"The Son of David, the son of Abraham." The reversal of the order in these clauses is a needful change. If Abraham had been put first and David afterwards, Abraham would have had to be taken again, in order to marshal the pedigree properly.

R. Blessed are thou, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise,
* For out of thee arose the Sun of Righteousness, even Christ our God.
V. Pray for the people, plead for the clergy, entreat for all women dedicated to God: let everyone that keepeth holy-day in honour of thy Birthday know the benefit of thine intercession.
R. For out of thee arose the Sun of Righteousness.

Reading 11: Matthew first calleth Christ the Son of these twain Abraham and David without making mention of the others, because unto these twain only was promise of Christ made unto Abraham, where it is said: "In thy seed" that is, in Christ "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,"and unto David, in the words "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne."

(responsory not available)

Reading 12: "And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar." It is to be remarked that in the genealogy of the Saviour none of the holy women are named, but those women only are named against whom the Scripture hath to say something amiss. He Who came to save sinners was born of sinners, that He might wash away all sin. Afterwards are named Ruth, who was a Moabitess, and Bathsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah.

(responsory not available)

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren.  And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon.  And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king.

And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa.  And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias.  And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon.

And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. [And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor.  And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud.  And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob.

 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  So all the generations, from Abraham to David, are fourteen generations. And from David to the transmigration of Babylon, are fourteen generations: and from the transmigration of Babylon to Christ are fourteen generations. Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Readings for First Sunday of August (Nocturns I&II)

From the first week of August, the first and second Nocturn readings at Sunday Matins are of the week of the month.  Note that the Roman and Benedictine calendars are out of step with each other this year.

Nocturn I: Proverbs 1

Reading 1: The parables of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. To know wisdom, and instruction:  To understand the words of prudence: and to receive the instruction of doctrine, justice, and judgment, and equity: To give subtilty to little ones, to the young man knowledge and understanding. A wise man shall hear and shall be wiser: and he that understandeth, shall possess governments.He shall understand a parable, and the interpretation, the words of the wise, and their mysterious sayings.

R. God possessed me in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He created the depths, before He caused the fountains of water to spring.
* Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.
V. When He prepared the heavens, I was there with Him, ordering all things.
R. Before the mountains were settled, before there were any hills, did the Lord beget me.

Reading 2: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: That grace may be added to thy head, and a chain of gold to thy neck. My son, if sinners shall entice thee, consent not to them. If they shall say: Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us hide snares for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow him up alive like hell, and whole as one that goeth down into the pit.

R. I alone compassed the circuit of heaven, and walked on the waves of the sea. In every nation and in every people, I held the first place.* In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.
V. I dwell in the highest places, and my throne is in a cloudy pillar.
R. In the greatness of my strength have I trodden under my feet the necks of such as be haughty and proud.

Reading 3: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoils. Cast in thy lot with us, let us all have one purse. My son, walk not thou with them, restrain thy foot from their paths.
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

R. O send out wisdom from the throne of thy glory, O Lord, to be with me, and to labour with me,
* That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.
V. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne.
R. That I may know at all times what is pleasing unto thee.

Reading 4: But a net is spread in vain before the eyes of them that have wings.  And they themselves lie in wait for their own blood, and practise deceits against their own souls.  So the wage of every covetous man destroy the souls of the possessors. Wisdom preacheth abroad, she uttereth her voice in the streets: At the head of multitudes she crieth out, in the entrance of the gates of the city she uttereth her words, saying: O children, how long will you love childishness, and fools covet those things which are hurtful to themselves, and the unwise hate knowledge?

R. O Lord, Father and Governor of my life, leave me not, lest I fall before mine adversaries,* and mine enemy rejoice over me.
V. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
R. Lest mine enemy rejoice over me.

Nocturn II: St Ambrose (On Psalm 118)

Reading 5: The Prophet saith that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And what is the first act of wisdom but to renounce the world since to love the things of the world is folly. So indeed saith the Apostle "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."  But the very fear of the Lord itself is useless, nay, harmful, if it be not according to knowledge.

R. Give me wisdom, O Lord, that sitteth by thy throne, and reject me not from among thy children.
* For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.
V. O send her out from the throne of thy glory, to be with me and to labour with me.
R. For I am thy servant and son of thine handmaid.

Reading 6: The Jews have a truly fervent zeal for God, but since they have not knowledge, their very zeal and fear do cause them to do things contrary to God's will. That they circumcise their children, that they keep holy the Sabbath-Day, showeth how they fear the Lord, but knowing not the spiritual meaning of the Law, they circumcise the body and not the heart.

R. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
* A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.
V. Love is the keeping of her laws, for all wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
R. A good understanding have all they that do His commandments. His praise endureth for ever.

Reading 7: But wherefore should I speak of Jews There are those among ourselves who have the fear of God, but not according to knowledge, and set up hard ordinances which the weakness of man is not able to bear. They fear God in this, that they seem to themselves to be looking to discipline, and to be enforcing the practice of godliness, but they lack knowledge, in that they feel not for the weakness of nature, nor consider whether a thing can, or cannot be done. Let not then the fear of God be unreasonable. True wisdom beginneth with the fear of God, neither is it spiritual wisdom without the fear of God, but neither ought the fear of God to be without wisdom.

R. Lord, remove far from me vanity and lies.
* Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.
V. Two things have I required of thee deny me them not before I die.
R. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me.

Reading 8: Holy fear is the foundation of all good instruction. Just as a statue is set up upon a pedestal, and thereby receiveth both beauty and strength, even so doth it become the word of God to be set forth based upon an holy fear, and it is in the heart of him that feareth that it getteth the firmest root, even an home wherefrom it droppeth not, neither do the fowls of the air come and carry it away, as from the heart of him that is careless and deceiving.

R. Great are thy judgments, O Lord, and thy words cannot be expressed.* Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.
V. Thou broughtest them through the Red Sea, and leddest them through much water.
R. Thou didst make thy people mighty and honourable.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Feast of the Transfiguration (Aug 6)

Nocturn I (1 Peter 1)

Reading 1:  Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time. For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  For which cause I will begin to put you always in remembrance of these things: though indeed you know them, and are confirmed in the present truth.

R. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come:* And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Reading 2: But I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance. Being assured that the laying away of this my tabernacle is at hand, according as our Lord Jesus Christ also hath signified to me.  And I will endeavour, that you frequently have after my decease, whereby you may keep a memory of these things.

R. The Holy Ghost was manifested in the bright cloud and the Father was heard:* This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.
V. There was a cloud that overshadowed them, and the voice of the Father came out thereof in thunder.
R. This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.

Reading 3: For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness. For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.  And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.

R. Behold what manner of love God the Father hath bestowed upon us,* That we should be called, and should be, the sons of God.
V. We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
R. That we should be called, and should be, the Sons of God.

Reading 4: And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Nocturn II:  Sermon of St Leo the Great

Reading 5: The Lord taketh chosen witnesses, and in their presence, revealeth His glory. That form of body which He had in common with other men, He so transfigured with light, that His Face did shine as the sun, and His raiment became exceeding white as snow. Of this metamorphosis the chief work was to remove from the hearts of the disciples the stumbling at the Cross. Before their eyes was unveiled the splendour of His hidden majesty, that the lowliness of His freely-chosen suffering might not confound their faith.

R. They were abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and* Thou madest them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
V. For with thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light shall we see light.
R. And Thou madest them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

Reading 6: But none the less was there here laid by the Providence of God a solid foundation for the hope of the Holy Church, whereby the whole body of Christ should know with what a change it is yet to be honoured. The members of that body whose Head hath already been transfigured in light may promise themselves a share in His glory. For the strengthening the Apostles and bringing them forward into all knowledge, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias that is, the Law and the Prophets talking with Him. Before five witnesses did His glorification take place, as though to fulfill that which is written: At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

R. Master, it is good for us to be here.* Let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
V. For he wist not what to say.
R. Let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Reading 7: What can be more certain, what can be better attested than this matter, which is proclaimed by the trumpets of both the Old and the New Testaments, and concerning which the witness of ancient testimony uniteth with the teaching of the Gospel. The pages of either Covenant strengthen one another, and the brightness of open glory maketh manifest and distinct Him Whom the former prophecies had promised under the veil of mysteries.

R. If the ministration of death, written and engraven on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance which is done away:* How shall not the ministration of the Spirit, which abideth, be rather glorious?
V. For Christ was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
R. How shall not the ministration of the Spirit, which abideth, be rather glorious?

Reading 8: The unveiling of such mysteries roused the mind of the Apostle Peter to an outburst of longing for the things eternal, which despised and disdained the things worldly and earthly overflowing with gladness at the vision, he yearned to dwell with Jesus there, where the revelation of His glory had rejoiced him. And so he said Master, it is good for us to be here if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. To this proposal the Lord answered nothing, this signifying, that what Peter wished was not wrong, but out of place, since the world could not be saved but by the death of Christ. And the Lord's example was to call the faith of believers to this, that albeit we are behoven to have no doubts concerning the promise of eternal blessedness, yet we are to understand that, amid the trials of this life, we are to seek for endurance before glory.

Nocturn III (from St John Chrysostom)

Reading 9: Since the Lord had spoken much concerning dangers, much concerning His Own sufferings, much concerning death, and the killing of His disciples, and had laid upon them many hard and grievous things, and since all these were in this present life, and already hanging over them, whereas the good things were matter for hope and waiting as, for example, that whosoever should lose his life for His sake should find it, for that the Son of Man should come in the glory of His Father, and reward every man according to his works. Matth. xvi. 25, 27. Therefore, to assure them by their own eyes, and show them what the glory is wherein He will come, He manifested and unveiled it to them, as far as in this life they were able to grasp it, lest they and especially Peter should grieve over their own deaths, or the death of their Lord.

R. God hath called us with an holy calling, according to His own grace, which is now made manifest;
* By the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
V. Who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.
R. By the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Reading 10: Behold what He doth, when He treateth of heaven and hell. Where He saith Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. And again He shall reward every man according to his works in these words He pointeth at heaven and hell.

R. God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts,
* To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the Face of Jesus Christ.
V. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness he is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous.
R. To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the Face of Jesus Christ.

Reading 11: But although He speaketh concerning both, He giveth a glimpse of heaven only and not of hell. To see hell would have profited the brutish and stupid, but His disciples were upright and clear-sighted, and therefore for them it was enough to be strengthened by the better things. This was what suited Him the best. Yet He left not the other altogether undone. Sometimes He set the horrors of hell, as it were, before the eyes, as for instance in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and that of him who was fain to wring the hundred pence from his fellow-servant.

Reading 12: But mark well Matthew's good will, in not concealing the names of those who were preferred. John also likewise often recordeth the special praises of Peter with great truthfulness and care. For in this companionship of the Apostles, there was no envy, nor did vainglory find place. It was therefore the leaders of the Apostles whom Christ took apart from the others. And wherefore did he take these only? Because there were evidently superior to the rest. And why did he not do this straightway, and not until after six days? Evidently to spare the natural feelings of the other disciples; and for the same reason Christ did not for six days announce who were to go up.

St Matthew 17:1-9:

And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: [2] And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. [3] And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. [4] And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. [5] And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. [6] And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. [7] And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. [8] And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. [9] And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Hebrews 12:18-21 - The difference between the New and Old Testaments

Hebrews 12: 18-21
For you are not come to a mountain that might be touched, and a burning fire, and a whirlwind, and darkness, and storm, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard excused themselves, that the word might not be spoken to them: For they did not endure that which was said: And if so much as a beast shall touch the mount, it shall be stoned. And so terrible was that which was seen, Moses said: I am frighted, and tremble. 
 Non enim accessistis ad tractabilem montem, et accensibilem ignem, et turbinem, et caliginem, et procellam, et tubæ sonum, et vocem verborum, quam qui audierunt, excusaverunt se, ne eis fieret verbum. Non enim portabant quod dicebatur: Et si bestia tetigerit montem, lapidabitur.  Et ita terribile erat quod videbatur. Moyses dixit: Exterritus sum, et tremebundus. 
The Old vs the New Testaments: Having warned them to avoid the evils of guilt, the Apostle now assigns the reason, which is based on a comparison between the Old and New should be noted that, as Augustine says: ‘The slight difference between the Law and the Gospel is fear and love,’ for the Law was as our pedagogue in Christ. But children are influenced by fear; ‘The wicked man being scourged, the fool shall be wiser’. Therefore, the Apostle says here that when the Law was given, certain fearful things took place...

The zeal to punish is designated by fire: ...‘The Lord, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God’: ‘He is like a refining fire’. Hence, God frequently calls Himself jealous, because He does not let His spouse’s crime go unavenged: ‘I am the Lord, your God, mighty, jealous’; ‘The Lord, his name is Jealous’; ‘The jealousy and rage of the husband will not spare in the day of revenge'...But in the New Law the fire of the Holy Spirit was given (Ac. 2). For as the fire of emulation appeared to the Jews fifty days after their departure from Egypt, so the Holy Spirit’s fire, which could not be sensed, but perceived by the mind, appeared to the disciples on the fiftieth day after the resurrection: ‘From above he sent fire into my bones and has instructed me’. But that fire was infinite in nature and place, for ‘he inhabits light inaccessible’ and could not be approached.

The severity of the punishment is signified by the whirlwind:..Or it can refer to temptations. For the Law did not restrain concupiscence, because it did not give grace that would aid ex opere operato, but it only repressed the act; consequently, it generated a whirlwind of temptations.

The concealment of the lawgiver is signified by the darkness: which showed that the state of the Law was hidden, i.e., veiled: ‘Even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart’. But in the New Law that veil is removed: as a sign of this the veil of the temple was rent in Christ’s passion, because ‘we behold the glory of the Lord with open face’. Likewise, that darkness signifies the divine excellence. For just as that which is in the dark cannot be clearly seen, and a strong light blinds the eye, so He Who inhabits light inaccessible made Himself dark.

Storm: ...he mentions the things terrifying to the hearing on the part of the Law. Now there were three terrifying things to the Law, namely, the severity of the threats, the strictness of the precepts, and the large number of signifies the strictness of the precepts, whose fulfillment was enjoined on man as though he were waging war against himself.

The voice of words signifies the vast number of precepts...

The reason why they excused themselves: namely, because they could not endure God’s words; hence, they could not endure the order that was given: ‘What is all flesh that it should hear the voice of the living God, who speaks out of the midst of the fire, as we have heard, and be able to live’. For God’s words are said to be unendurable either when they cannot be understood by the intellect or transcend the affections.

The threatened punishment:..‘Everyone that touches the mount, dying he shall die. No hands shall touch him, but he shall be stoned to death, or be shot through with arrows. Whether it be beast or man, he shall not live’ (Ex. 19:12). The Apostle, to heighten the terror, mentions here only the beasts which the Law commands to be killed, in order to show the gravity of sin. Yet mystically the mountain is the loftiness of the divine mysteries, and the beast is a man living bestially...This indicates the difference between the New and Old Testaments, because the Old Testament was given in terror to terrify the hearts of Jews, who were prone to idolatry; but the New was given in love: ‘You have not received the spirit of slavery again in fear, but you have received the spirit of the adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba: Father’. Hence Christ did not begin His preaching with fearful things, but promised the kingdom of heaven: ‘Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’; ‘The law of clemency is on his tongue’.

The yoke of the law: ...Now if Moses himself in giving the Law was so frightened as to say, I am frightened inwardly and I tremble outwardly, and he was more perfect than the rest, this was a sign that the Law was terrifying even to the perfect: because it did not give grace but merely disclosed guilt. Hence, it was a heavy yoke of which Peter says: ‘which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear.’ But Christ’s law is a sweet yoke, because ‘the charity of God has been poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us’. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Hebrews 12: 5-17 - Seek after peace

Hebrews 12:5-11
yet you have lost sight, already, of those words of comfort in which God addresses you as his sons; My son, do not undervalue the correction which the Lord sends thee, do not be unmanned when he reproves thy faults. It is where he loves that he bestows correction; there is no recognition for any child of his, without chastisement. Be patient, then, while correction lasts; God is treating you as his children. Was there ever a son whom his father did not correct? No, correction is the common lot of all; you must be bastards, not true sons, if you are left without it. We have known what it was to accept correction from earthly fathers, and with reverence; shall we not submit, far more willingly, to the Father of a world of spirits, and draw life from him? They, after all, only corrected us for a short while, at their own caprice; he does it for our good, to give us a share in that holiness which is his. For the time being, all correction is painful rather than pleasant; but afterwards, when it has done its work of discipline, it yields a harvest of good dispositions, to our great peace.
et obliti estis consolationis, quæ vobis tamquam filiis loquitur, dicens: Fili mi, noli negligere disciplinam Domini: neque fatigeris dum ab eo argueris. Quem enim diligit Dominus, castigat: flagellat autem omnem filium, quem recipit. In disciplina perseverate. Tamquam filiis vobis offert se Deus: quis enim filius, quem non corripit pater?  quod si extra disciplinam estis, cujus participes facti sunt omnes: ergo adulteri, et non filii estis. Deinde patres quidem carnis nostræ, eruditores habuimus, et reverebamur eos, non multo magis obtemperabimus Patri spirituum, et vivemus?  Et illi quidem in tempore paucorum dierum, secundum voluntatem suam erudiebant nos: hic autem ad id quod utile est in recipiendo sanctificationem ejus.  Omnis autem disciplina in præsenti quidem videtur non esse gaudii, sed mœroris: postea autem fructum pacatissimum exercitatis per eam, reddet justitiæ.

Persevere and embrace discipline: Having exhorted them to endure evil patiently, according to the example of the ancient fathers and Christ, the Apostle now exhorts them to do the same on the authority of Scripture...if he chastises, He does not hate; but His chastisement is directed to our good, because He speaks to us as to sons...God chastises you for discipline; do not regard lightly [neglect], i.e., do not despise it by negligence: ‘He that rejects wisdom and discipline is unhappy'. By reason of the second he says, Do not lose courage [be wearied] when you are punished by him. For some, even though they do not hate a harsh correction, bear it impatiently; therefore, he says, Be not wearied, while you are rebuked [punished] by him. For a man is spiritually wearied, when he is so sad that he faints: ‘That you be not wearied, fainting in your mind’; ‘Be not grieved with her bonds’.

The harvest: ...later it yields fruit, for fruit implies sweetness: hence, fruition is delight in the end now achieved. Most peaceful, for fruit is had here with disturbance of external inconveniences and internal trials; therefore, it is not most peaceful, as there. In glory, indeed, there will be no inward gnawing of conscience, no inclination to sin, no outward affliction. For according to Augustine, whatever you desire will be there; therefore, the fruit will be most peaceful...But fruit is brought forth only to them that are exercised in it, i.e., by discipline: ‘Strong meat is for the perfect; for those who by custom have their senses exercised’.

Hebrews 12:12-13
 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, And make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed. 
Propter quod remissas manus, et soluta genua erigite, et gressus rectos facite pedibus vestris: ut non claudicans quis erret, magis autem sanetur.
Drooping hands are failure to do good: A sin of omission occurs in two ways: one, when a person fails to do good; another, by failing to endure evil and adversity. In regard to the first he says, Therefore, i.e., because chastisement yields the most peaceable fruit, then to obtain this fruit, lift your drooping hands. For since the hand is the organ of the organs, it is said to droop, when it stops performing good works; therefore, it must be lifted up by a right intention to do things pleasing to God... As a sign of this, when Moses lifted up his hands, Israel conquered; but when he let them fall, Amalek overcame them.

Weak knees are failure to endure adversity bravely: In regard to the other sin of omission he says, strengthen your weak knees. The entire weight of the body is held up by the knees. Therefore, those who have not the courage to endure adversity bravely have weak knees. Therefore, this weakness must be put aside: ‘You have strengthened the weary hands; your words have confirmed them that were staggering, and you have strengthened the trembling knees’; ‘Strengthen the feeble hands and confirm the weak knees’. Therefore, lift up the hand and knees and do not give in to idleness or hesitate because of weakness.

Make straight and the sin of transgression: ...For that is straight whose middle does not point to a direction different from the extremes, i.e., whose action does not depart from its proper intention and end. But there are three kinds of obliqueness: namely in the affections, in action and in understanding. From sinful affection follows obliqueness in the understanding and depravity in that what is lame as to outward action. For just as the tibia is said to be lame, when it does not follow the rule of the locomotive power, so an action is lame when it turns to the right in prosperity or to the left in adversity, and does not follow the rule of divine law...In regard to obliqueness of the understanding he says, may not be put out of joint. For an intellectual error follows an evil action: ‘They err that do evil’; ‘These things they thought and were deceived; for their own malice blinded them’. Therefore, a person who would avoid those two deviations must have his feet and his affects right; hence, he says, but rather be healed. For just as bodily health consists in the proper balance of the humors, so spiritual health in the proper arrangement of the affections: ‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed’.

Hebrews 12;14-17
Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God.  Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one mess, sold his first birthright. For know ye that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.
 Pacem sequimini cum omnibus, et sanctimoniam, sine qua nemo videbit Deum:  contemplantes nequis desit gratiæ Dei: ne qua radix amaritudinis sursum germinans impediat, et per illam inquinentur multi.  Ne quis fornicator, aut profanus ut Esau: qui propter unam escam vendidit primitiva sua: scitote enim quoniam et postea cupiens hæreditare benedictionem, reprobatus est: non enim invenit pœnitentiæ locum, quamquam cum lacrimis inquisisset eam.

The objectives of our action: ....there are various ends of human actions: for some are ordained to another, as justice ordains a man to his neighbor; and the end is peace; hence, ‘Peace will be the work of justice.’ Others are ordained to the one acting, as fasting, and the end is purity. For we fast for the sake of cleanness and purity. In regard to the first, he says, Strive for peace, i.e., do not only have it, but seek how to have it with all men: ‘If it be possible, as much as in you lies, have peace with all men’; ‘Seek after peace and pursue it’. In regard to the second he says, and for the holiness: ‘Let us wash ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit’.

Peace and holiness are necessary to see God: He shows that those remedies are necessary by indicating the two injuries we incur without them: first, the loss of glory in the future and of grace in the present. In regard to the first he says, without which no man shall see God, in which happiness consists...As if to say: Without peace toward our neighbor, and cleanness and purity in regard to ourselves, we cannot be happy: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God’. But the inheritance of the beatific vision is owed only to sons: ‘Nothing defiled shall enter into it’; ‘Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? He that enters without stain’; ‘Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? The innocent in hands and the clean of heart’.

Loss of God’s grace in the present:  he says, see to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God. For grace is lost by discord and uncleanness... grace is not obtained by merit; otherwise, grace would not be grace. Yet a man must do what he can. But God in His most generous will gives it to all who prepare themselves: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man open to me, I will come in to him’; ‘He will that all men be saved’. Therefore, God’s grace is not wanting to any one, but it communicates itself to all, as far as it is concerned, just as the sun is not wanting to the eyes of the blind. He says, therefore: see that no on fail to obtain the grace of God..

Grace and the error of Pelagianism: ...if anyone places an obstacle and his heart is moved to remove it, this is due to the gift of God’s grace calling by His mercy: ‘But when it pleased him who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace’. But this gift of grace is not sanctifying grace. Therefore, the fact that a person removes that obstacle is owing to God’s mercy; if it is not removed, it is owing to God’s justice. But he does not say, ‘lest you fail,’ but lest anyone fail, because everyone should be solicitous for his neighbor: ‘He gave everyone commandment concerning his neighbor’.

Avoidance of sins:  Then he comes specifically to advising the avoidance of sins contrary to each of the aforesaid medicines: first, he advises them to avoid sins contrary to peace; secondly, contrary to holiness...Esau came and asked for a blessing, which he did not obtain, although his father did it unknowingly, because in that stupor which he experienced, he was in ecstasy and learned from the Holy Spirit that he was not to retract what he had done; hence, he said: ‘I have blessed him and he shall be blessed’... For he found no place to repent, though he sought it with tears. For as it is recorded in Genesis: ‘He roared out with a great cry, and being in great consternation, said: Bless me also, my father.’ But on the other hand it says in Ezekiel: ‘If the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he has committed, and keep all my commandments and do judgement and justice, living he shall live, and he shall not die.’

Repentance is always possible while we are in this world: I  answer that as long as one is living in this world, he can do true penance. But sometimes a person repents not from a love of justice, but from the fear of punishment or temporal harm. This is the way Esau repented, not because he had sold his birthright, but for the rejection. Consequently, his penance was not accepted, because it was not genuine. For this is the way the damned in hell repent, as it says in Wisdom: ‘Repenting,’ not because they had sinned, but because they have been excluded.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Hebrews 12:1-4 - The cloud of witnesses

Hebrews 12:1
And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: 
Ideoque et nos tantam habentes impositam nubem testium, deponentes omne pondus, et circumstans nos peccatum, per patientiam curramus ad propositum nobis certamen: 

The cloud of witnesses and the imitation of the saints: ...the saints, although approved by the testimony of faith, did not obtain the promises; nevertheless, their hope did not fail. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, because in word and deed God is glorified by them...Secondly, on account of their fecund doctrine...Thirdly, on account of the usefulness of spiritual consolation, for as clouds bring refreshment, so also the examples of the saints...the lives of the saints impose on us the need of imitating them...the deeds of the saints, which are for us a pattern and precept of life’ (Augustine).

The weight of sin: By a weight can be understood past sin, which is called a weight, because it bends the soul down to what is below and inclines it to commit other sins: ‘As a heavy burden my iniquities are become heavy upon me’: ‘If a sin is not dissolved by penance, its weight soon leads to another’ (Gregory)... Or weight is earthly affection, and sin which surrounds us, carnal affection, which is caused by the flesh surrounding us. As if to say: Put aside your love of temporal and carnal things, if you want to run freely.

Sin which surrounds us: can be understood the occasion of sin which is present, i.e., everything that surrounds us, namely, in the world, the flesh, our neighbor and the devil. Laying aside every weight, i.e., past sin, which is called a weight, and sin which surrounds us, namely, the occasion of sin: ‘Laying away all malice and all guile’.

Persevere: ...not only what is imposed on us to endure patiently, but we should run willingly: ‘I have run the way of your commandments’. But this struggle is proposed to us for justice: ‘Even unto death fight for justice’.

Hebrews 12:2
Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. 
aspicientes in auctorem fidei, et consummatorem Jesum, qui proposito sibi gaudio sustinuit crucem, confusione contempta, atque in dextera sedis Dei sedet.  
If you wish to be saved, look on the face of your Christ: ...Christ is the author of faith. Therefore, if you wish to be saved you must look to His example. Hence, he says, Looking on Jesus in His sufferings. This was signified by the brazen serpent lifted up as a sign, so that all who looked upon it were cured; ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him may not perish; but may have life everlasting’

Christ's passion as an example to us:...He is the author [pioneer] of faith in two ways: first, by teaching it by word...secondly, by impressing it on the heart: ‘Unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him’. Likewise, He is the finisher [perfecter] of our faith in two ways: in one way by confirming it through miracles..and by rewarding faith. For since faith is imperfect knowledge, its reward consists in perfectly understanding it: ‘I will love him and will manifest myself to him’ (Jn. 14:21).

The lessons of the Passion: ..three things should be considered in the passion of Christ: first, what He despised; secondly, what He endured; thirdly, what he merited...Then he indicates the fruit of this consideration...

Hebrews 12:3-4
For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin:  And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him.
Recogitate enim eum qui talem sustinuit a peccatoribus adversum semetipsum contradictionem: ut ne fatigemini, animis vestris deficientes. Nondum enim usque ad sanguinem restitistis, adversus peccatum repugnantes:
Consider him who endured: Three things: the type of suffering; hence, he endured hostility, i.e., affliction in words...,Secondly, from whom he suffered, namely, from sinners, for whom He suffered: ‘Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust’... Thirdly, the person suffering, for He suffered in His members from the beginning of the world before His passion, but then in His own person; hence, he says, against himself: ‘I have made you, and I will bear’; ‘I paid that which I took not away’ (Ps. 68:5); ‘He bore our sins in his body upon the tree’...

Martyrdom: As if to say: You should not grow weary in your tribulations, because you have not endured as much as Christ. For He shed His blood for us: ‘This is the blood of the new covenant which shall be shed for you’. But you have suffered the loss of your goods. Yet it is a greater work to give one’s life than external possessions; although sometimes the root from which it springs, namely, charity, might be less. Hence he says, In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood for Christ.