Liturgical Texts: January 2012 Archives

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The Lectionary used at Matins is that edited by Stephen Mark Holmes for Pluscarden Abbey. Today's readings are especially lovely. The responsories are proper to the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. The liturgical function of the responsory is to facilitate the inward assimilation of the message of the lesson.

The liturgical theology of Pope Saint Leo the Great, articulated in the lesson for the Second Nocturn, insists on the perennity of the grace that flows from the celebration of the mysteries of Christ. "We are not," he says, "left with a mere report of bygone events, to be received in faith and remembered with veneration. God's bounty toward us has been multiplied, so that even in our own times we daily experience the grace which belonged to those first beginnings."

At the First Nocturn:

A READING FROM THE PROPHET ISAIAH

(Foreigners and eunuchs are admitted into the house of the Lord: Isaiah 56:1-8)

Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from his people"; and let not the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." For thus says the LORD: "To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off.

"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."

Responsory

These I will bring to my holy mountain * and make them joyful in my house of prayer. R. For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. V. To the eunuchs who keep my ssbbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. R. For my house. V. Glory be.

At the Second Nocturn:

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST LEO THE GREAT

Dearly beloved, the day on which Christ first showed himself to the Gentiles as the Saviour of the world should be held in holy reverence among us. We should experience in our hearts the same joy as the three wise men felt when the sign of the new star led them into the presence of the King of heaven and earth, and they gazed in adoration upon the one in whose promised coming they had put their faith. Although that day belongs to the past, the power of the mystery which was then revealed has not passed away; we are not left with a mere report of bygone events, to be received in faith and remembered with veneration. God's bounty toward us has been multiplied, so that even in our own times we daily experience the grace which belonged to those first beginnings.

The Gospel story specifically recalls the days when, without any previous teaching from the prophets or instruction in the law, three men came from the far east in search of God; but we see the same thing taking place even more clearly and extensively in the enlightenment of all those whom God calls at the present time. We see the fulfilment of that prophecy of Isaiah which says: The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all nations, and the whole world has seen the salvation that comes from the Lord our God. And again: Those who have not been told about him shall see, and those who have not heard shall understand. When we witness people being led out of the abyss of error and called to knowledge of the true light, people who, far from professing faith in Jesus Christ, have hitherto devoted themselves to worldly wisdom, we can have no doubt that the splendour of divine grace is at work. Whenever a shaft of light newly pierces darkened hearts, its source is the radiance of that same star, which impresses the souls it touches by the miracle of its appearance and leads them forward to worship God.

If on the other hand we earnestly ask ourselves whether the same threefold oblation is made by all who come to Christ in faith, shall we not discover a corresponding gift offering in the hearts of true believers? To acknowledge Christ's universal sovereignty is in fact to bring out gold from the treasury of one's soul; to believe God's only Son has made himself truly one with human nature is to offer myrrh; and to declare that he is in no way inferior to his Father in majesty is to worship him with frankincense.

Responsory

The Lord has bared His holy arm * in the sight of all nations, R. And the whole world has seen the salvation that comes from the Lord our God. V. The mystery which was then revealed has not passed away; God's bounty toward us has been multiplied. R. And the whole world. V. Glory be.


About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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