Posts Tagged ‘Liturgy of the Hours’

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honour of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.

Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.

We needed God to take our flesh and die, that we might live. We have died with him, that we may be purified. We have risen again with him, because we have died with him. We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

St Gregory Nazianzen

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In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come to it;
and they will say:

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The Book of Isaiah

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Et ecce unus accedens, ait illi: Magister bone, quid boni faciam ut habeam vitam æternam? Qui dixit ei: Quid me interrogas de bono? Unus est bonus, Deus. Si autem vis ad vitam ingredi, serva mandata. Dicit illi: Quæ? Jesus autem dixit: Non homicidium facies; non adulterabis; non facies furtum; non falsum testimonium dices; honora patrem tuum, et matrem tuam, et diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum. Dicit illi adolescens: Omnia hæc custodivi a iuventute mea: quid adhuc mihi deest? Ait illi Jesus: Si vis perfectus esse, vade, vende quæ habes, et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in cælo: et veni, sequere me. (Mt 19.16-21)

And behold one coming along said to Him, “Good Master, what good must I do to have eternal life? And He said to him, “Why are you asking me about what is good? God alone is good. Therefore, if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which?” Then Jesus answered him, “You shall not murder; you shall not be an adulterer; you shall not commit theft; you will not give a false testimony; honor your father and your mother, and care for your neighbor as if it were yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these since my youth; what do I lack even still?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.” (Translation mine)

It is the commandments of God that compels us not to sin; it is the grace of God in Christ that frees us from the need of our possessions, allowing us to give them over to the poor, and to go and follow Him.

From tonight’s Vespers:

Because he has given freedom to the destitute who called to him,
to the poor, whom no-one will hear.
He will spare the poor and the needy,
he will keep their lives safe. (Ps 72)

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The life of the Christian has three distinguishing aspects: deeds, words and thought. Thought comes first, then words, since our words express openly the interior conclusions of the mind. Finally, after thoughts and words, comes action, for our deeds carry out what the mind has conceived. So when one of these results in our acting or speaking or thinking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words and deeds are controlled by the divine ideal, the revelation of Christ. For then our thoughts, words and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications.

What then must we do, we who have been found worthy of the name of Christ? Each of us must examine his thoughts, words and deeds, to see whether they are directed toward Christ or are turned away from him. This examination is carried out in various ways. Our deeds or our thoughts or our words are not in harmony with Christ if they issue from passion. They then bear the mark of the enemy who smears the pearl of the heart with the slime of passion, dimming and even destroying the lustre of the precious stone.

On the other hand, if they are free from and untainted by every passionate inclination, they are directed toward Christ, the author and source of peace. He is like a pure, untainted stream. If you draw from him the thoughts in your mind and the inclinations of your heart, you will show a likeness to Christ, your source and origin, as the gleaming water in a jar resembles the flowing water from which it was obtained.

For the purity of Christ and the purity that is manifest in our hearts are identical. Christ’s purity, however, is the fountainhead; ours has its source in him and flows out of him. Our life is stamped with the beauty of his thought. The inner and the outer man are harmonised in a kind of music. The mind of Christ is the controlling influence that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behaviour. As I see it, Christian perfection consists in this: sharing the titles which express the meaning of Christ’s name, we bring out this meaning in our minds, our prayers and our way of life.

Gregory of Nyssa, On Christian Perfection

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, “The Seven Acts of Mercy” (1625)

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Speravit anima mea in Domino.
custodia matutina usque ad noctem,
speret Israel in Domino
Quia apud Dominum misericordia
et copiosa apud eum redemptio
Et ipse redimet Israel
ex omnibus iniquitatibus eius. (Ps 129.5-8, Vulg.)


My soul has hoped in the Lord;

As the watchman looks through the night for daybreak,
let Israel hope in the Lord.

Because with the Lord there is mercy,
with Him redemption abundant.

Let the Lord ransom Israel
from all its iniquities. (Translation mine)

Alfredo11, “Night Watchman” (2009) (artist’s website)

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God our Father,
as we have celebrated today the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection,
grant our humble prayer:
free us from all harm
that we may sleep in peace
and rise in joy to sing your praise.
Through Christ our Lord,

May the all‐powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

“Compline”, Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

n., the last of the seven canonical hours recited or sung just before retiring.

[Middle English, alteration of compli, from Old French complie, from Medieval Latin hōra complēta, final hour]

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Return, my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord has looked after you.

revertere anima mea in requiem tuam
quia Dominus reddet tibi

επιστρεψον η ψυχη μου εις την αναπαυσιν σου
οτι κυριος ευηργετησεν σε

שׁוּבִי נַפְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָיְכִי

כִּי יְהוָה גָּמַל עָלָיְכִי

Psalm 116 (114 LXX)

Samuel Herzsenberg, The Sabbath Rest (1894)

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My wounds are corruption and decay
because of my foolishness.
I am bowed down and bent,
bent under grief all day long.

For a fire burns up my loins,
and there is no health in my body.
I am afflicted, utterly cast down,
I cry out from the sadness of my heart.

Lord, all that I desire is known to you;
my sighs are not hidden from you.
My heart grows weak, my strength leaves me,
and the light of my eyes – even that has gone.

My friends and my neighbours
keep far from my wounds.
Those closest to me keep far away,
while those who would kill me set traps,
those who would harm me make their plots:
they plan mischief all through the day.

Psalm 37

In a world in which it is assumed we share no goods in common, medicine cannot help but seem to be but another impersonal institution that delivers services to consumers. Ironically, a medicine so determined cannot acknowledge that the body, which allegedly is the subject of the medical arts, is a storied body. For a storied body is not the body of “anyone,” but the body determined by a particular history of a particular community.

If the body is appropriately understood as a storied body, Berry argues that no hard and fast distinction can be drawn between the physical and the spiritual. That we currently make that distinction, according to (Wendell) Berry, only reflects how an understanding of the body as a machine has come to dominate our lives and, in particular, medical care. As a result Berry describes the contemporary hospital as a place where the world of love meets the world of efficiency, that is, the world of specialization, machinery, and abstract procedures, in a manner that those worlds are relegated to separate spheres. At best love can be expressed in such a context primarily as the attempt to get the “best medical care available” – but the “best medical care available” is not determined by a community of love.

Stanley Hauerwas, “The body of medicine and the Christian body”

[ABC Religion & Ethics, March 2012. Full text here]

Healing of the Leper, Chapel of St. Sylvester, Ueberlingen (986-1000)

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God willed that many things should be said by the prophets, his servants, and listened to by his people. How much greater are the things spoken by the Son. These are now witnessed to by the very Word of God who spoke through the prophets. The Word of God does not now command us to prepare the way for his coming: he comes in person and opens up the way for us and directs us toward it. Before, we wandered in the darkness of death, aimlessly and blindly. Now we are enlightened by the light of grace, and are to keep to the highway of life, with the Lord to precede and direct us.

The Lord has given us many counsels and commandments to help us toward salvation. He has even given us a pattern of prayer, instructing us on how we are to pray. He has given us life, and with his accustomed generosity, he has also taught us how to pray. He has made it easy for us to be heard as we pray to the Father in the words taught us by the Son.

So, my brothers, let us pray as God our master has taught us. To ask the Father in words his Son has given us, to let him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in his ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognize the words of his Son. Let the Son who lives in our hearts be also on our lips. We have him as an advocate for sinners before the Father; when we ask forgiveness for our sins, let us use the words given by our advocate. He tells us: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. What more effective prayer could we then make in the name of Christ than in the words of his own prayer?

St Cyprian, bishop and martyr, On the Lord’s Prayer (full text here)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, from Maestà (1308-11)

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Blessed the man who does not follow the counsels of the wicked,
or stand in the paths that sinners use,
or sit in the gatherings of those who mock:

His delight is the law of the Lord,
he ponders his law day and night.

He is like a tree planted by flowing waters,
that will give its fruit in due time,
whose leaves will not fade.

All that he does will prosper.
Not thus are the wicked, not thus.
They are like the dust blown by the wind.

At the time of judgment the wicked will not stand,
nor sinners in the council of the just.

For the Lord knows the path of the just;
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 1

The Apse Mosaic at San Clemente, (13th cent)

“The cross of the Lord is become the tree of life for us.”

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