Occurring Scripture for the
Hour of Matins
A reading from the book of Jeremias
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this,
and ye gates thereof, be very desolate, says the Lord. For my people
have done two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,
and have dug to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no
water. Is Israel a bondman, or a home born slave? why then is he
become prey? The lions have roared upon him, and have made a noise,
they have made his land a wilderness: his cities are burnt down and there is
none to dwell in them. The children also of Memphis, and of Taphnes
have deflowered thee, even to the crown of the head. Has not this been done
to thee, because thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God at that time, when he
led thee by the way?
And now what have thou to do in the way
of Egypt, to drink the troubled water? And what have thou to do with the way
of the Assyrians, to drink the water of the river? Thy own wickedness shall
reprove thee, and thy apostasy shall rebuke thee. "Know thou, and see that it
is an evil and a bitter thing for thee, to have left the Lord thy God, and
that My fear is not with thee," said the Lord the God of hosts. "Of old
time thou have broken my yoke, thou have burst my bands, and thou said: 'I
will not serve.' For on every high hill, and under every green tree thou did
prostitute thyself. Yet I planted thee a chosen vineyard, all true
seed: how then art thou turned unto Me into that which is good for nothing,
O strange vineyard? Though thou wash thyself with niter, and multiply to
thyself the herb borith, thou art stained in thy iniquity before Me," says
the Lord God.
Why will you contend with Me in
have all forsaken me, says the Lord. In vain have I struck your
children, they have not received correction: your sword has devoured your
prophets, your generation is like a ravaging lion. See ye the word of the
Lord: Am I become a wilderness to Israel, or a lateward springing land? why
then have My people said: "We are revolted, we will come to thee no more."
Will a virgin forget her ornament, or a bride her stomacher? but my people
hath forgotten me days without number.
From the Sermons of Pope Saint Leo the Great
Sermon II on the Passion of
Dearly beloved brethren, the jubilant and triumphal day which ushers in the commemoration of the Lord's Passion is come; even that day
for which we have longed so much, and for whose yearly coming the whole
world may well look. Shouts of spiritual exultation are ringing, and suffer
not that we should be silent. It is indeed hard to preach often on the same
Festival, and that always appropriately and correctly, but a priest is not free, when
we celebrate so great and mysterious an out-pouring of God's mercy, to leave
his faithful people without the service of a discourse. Indeed, that his
subject-matter is unspeakable should in itself make him eloquent, since
where enough can never be said, there must always need be somewhat to say.
Let man's weakness, then, fall down before the glory of God, and acknowledge
herself ever too feeble to unfold all the works of His mercy. We may jade
our emotions, break down in our understanding, and fail in our speech it is
good for us, that even what we truly feel in presence of the Divine Majesty
is but hopelessly little.
For when the Prophet says "Seek the Lord and be strong; seek His
face evermore" (Psalm 104:4), let no man conclude that he will ever have
found all that he seeks, lest he which has ceased to come near should cease
to be near. But among all the works of God which foil and weary the
steadfast gaze of man's wonder, what is there that does at once so ravish
and so exceed the power of our mind's eye as do the sufferings of the Savior? He it was Who, to loose man from the bands wherewith he had bound
himself by the first death-dealing transgression, spared to bring against
the rage of the devil the power of the Divine Majesty, and met him with the
weakness of our lowly nature. For if our proud and cruel enemy had been able
to know the counsel of God's mercy, it would have been his task rather to have
softened the minds of the Jews into gentleness, than to have inflamed them
with unrighteous hatred; and so he lost the service of all his slaves, by
pursuing for his Debtor—One That owed him nothing.
But his own hate dug a pitfall for him.
He brought upon the Son of God that death which has become life to all the
sons of men. He shed that innocent Blood, Which has reconciled the world
to God, and become at once the price of our redemption and the cup of our
salvation. The Lord has received that which according to the purpose of His
Own good pleasure He had chosen. He has let fall on Him the hands of bloody men, but while they
were bent only on their own sin, they were servants ministering to the
Redeemer's work. And such was His tenderness even for His murderers that His
prayer to His Father from the Cross was not that He
might be avenged upon them, but that they might be forgiven.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to
And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem,
and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two
disciples, saying to them: "Go ye into the village that is over against you,
and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them
and bring them to Me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say
ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go."
Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophet, saying: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king comes
to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is
used to the yoke" (Zacharias 9:9). And the disciples going, did as
Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid
their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. And a very great
multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the
trees, and strewed them in the way: And the multitudes that went
before and that followed, cried, saying: "Hosanna to the son of David:
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."
An Homily of Saint Ambrose, Bishop
Book IX on Luke
Beautiful is the
type, when the Lord, about to leave the Jews, and to take up His abode in
the hearts of the Gentiles, goes up into the Temple; a figure of His going
to the true Temple wherein He is worshipped, not in the deadness of the
letter, but in spirit and in truth, even that Temple of God whereof the
foundations are laid, not in buildings of stone, but in faith. He leaves
behind Him such as hate Him, and goes to such who will love Him. And
therefore He comes unto the Mount of Olives, that He may plant upon the
heights of grace those young olive-branches, whose Mother is the Jerusalem
which is above. Upon this mountain He stands, the Heavenly Husbandman,
that all they which be planted in the House of the Lord may be able each one
to say: "But I am like a fruitful olive-tree in the House of God"
And perhaps that mountain does signify Christ Himself. For
what other is there that bears such fruit of olives as He doth, not rich
with store of loaded branches, but spiritually fruitful with the fullness of
the Gentiles? He also it is on Whom we go up, and unto Whom we go up; He is
the Door; He is the Way; He is He Which is opened and Which opens; He is He
upon Whom knocks whosoever enters in, and to Whom they that have entered in,
do worship. A figure also was it that the disciples went into a village, and
that there they found an ass tied and a colt with her neither could they be
loosed, save at the command of the Lord. It was the hand of His Apostles
which loosed them. He whose work and life are like theirs will have such
grace as was theirs. Be thou also such as they, if thou would loose them
that are bound.
Now, let us consider who they were, who, being convicted of
transgression, were banished from their home in the Garden of Eden into a
village, and in this thou wilt see how Life called back again them whom
death had cast out. For this reason, we read in Matthew that there were tied
both an ass and her colt; thus, as man was banished from Eden in a member of
either sex, so is it in animals of both sexes that his recall is figured.
The she-ass is a type of our sinful Mother Eve, and the colt of the
multitude of the Gentiles; and it was upon the colt that Christ took His
seat. And thus it is well written of the colt, that thereon never yet had
man sat, for no man before Christ ever called the Gentiles into the Church
which statement thou hast in Mark also. "Whereon never man sat" (Mark 11:2).
Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, Who, of thy tender love
towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself
our flesh and to suffer death upon the Cross, that all mankind should follow
the example of His great humility; mercifully grant, that we may both follow
the example of His patience, and also be made partakers of His resurrection.
Through the same.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to
John 12: 1-9
Jesus therefore, six days before the
Pasch, came to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to
life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served: but Lazarus
was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a
pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet
of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with
the odor of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot,
he that was about to betray him, said: "Why was not this ointment sold
for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" Now he said this, not
because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the
purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said:
"Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For
the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always." A
great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came,
not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had
raised from the dead.
An Homily by Saint Augustine, Bishop
Tract L on John.
made Him a supper and Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table lest men
should deem that it was but by an ocular delusion that they had seen him
arise from the dead. He lived therefore, spoke, and ate; to the
manifestation of the truth, and the confusion of the unbelieving Jews.
Jesus, then, sat down to meat with Lazarus and others, and Martha, being one
of Lazarus' sisters, served. But Mary, Lazarus' other sister, took a pound
of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the Feet of Jesus, and
wiped His Feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the
ointment. We have now heard that which was done; let us search out the
mystic meaning thereof.
Whomsoever thou are that will be a faithful soul, seek with Mary
to anoint the Feet of the Lord with costly ointment. This ointment was a
figure of justice, and therefore is there said to have been a pound thereof,
a pound being a weight used in scales. The word pistis used by the
Evangelist as the name of this ointment, we must believe to be that of some
place, from which this costly perfume was imported. Neither is this name
meaningless for us, but it agrees well with our mystic interpretation, since
Pistis is the Greek word which signifies Faith, and whosoever will do
justice must know that: The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1: 17; Habacuc
4). Anoint therefore the Feet of Jesus by thy good life, following in the
marks which those Feet of the Lord have traced. Wipe His Feet likewise with
thine hair; that is, if thou have anything which is not needful to thee, give it
to the poor; and then thou hast wiped the Feet of Jesus with thy hair, that
is, with that which thou need not, and which is therefore to thee as is
hair, being a needless out-growth to the body. Here thou has what to do
with that which thou need not. To thee it is needless, but the Lord's
Feet have need of it; yea, the Feet which the Lord hath on earth are sorely
For of whom, save of His members, will He say at the latter
day: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My
brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25: 40). That is, you have spent nothing save
that which you needed not, but you have ministered unto My Feet. And the house
was filled with the odor of the ointment. That is, the fragrance of your
good example fills the world; for this odor is a figure of reputation.
They which are called Christians, and yet live bad lives, cast a slur on
Christ and it is even such as they unto whom it is said: "The Name of God is
blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (Romans 2:24; Ezekiel 36: 20, 23).
But if, through such, the Name of God be blasphemed, through the godly is
praise ascribed to the Same His Holy Name, as the Apostle does likewise say:
"In every place we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are
saved, and in them that perish" (2 Corinthians 2: 15).
Let us pray. O Almighty God, knowing
that we be set in such straits that we have no power of our own to help ourselves, we pray
mercifully to relieve us, for whom continually pleads the suffering of
thine Only Begotten Son. Who with thee.
A reading from the book of Jeremias
What is the meaning that my beloved
hath wrought much wickedness in my house? shall the holy flesh take away
from thee thy crimes, in which thou hast boasted? The Lord called thy
name, a plentiful olive tree, fair, fruitful, and beautiful: at the noise of
a word, a great fire was kindled in it and the branches thereof are burnt. And the Lord of hosts that planted
thee, hath pronounced evil against thee: for the evils of the house of
Israel, and the house of Juda, which they have done to themselves, to
provoke me, offering sacrifice to Baalim. But thou, O Lord, have shown
me, and I have known: then thou showed me their doings. And I was as a
meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had
devised counsels against me, saying: "Let us put wood on his bread, and cut
him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no
more." But thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, who judge justly, and tests the reins and
hearts, let me see thy revenge on them: for to thee I have revealed my
Thou indeed, O Lord, art just, if I
plead with thee, but yet I will speak what is just to thee: Why does the way of the
wicked prosper: why is it well with all them that transgress, and do
wickedly? Thou hast planted them, and they have taken root: they prosper
and bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their
reins. And thou, O Lord, have known me, thou have seen me, and proved my
heart with thee: gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice, and prepare
them for the day of slaughter. How long shall the land mourn, and the herb
of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The
beasts and the birds are consumed: because they have said: He shall not see
our last end.
I have forsaken my house, I have left my
inheritance: I have given my dear soul into the land of her enemies. My
inheritance is become to me as a lion in the wood: it hath cried out against
me, therefore have I hated it. Is my inheritance to me as a speckled
bird? Is it as a bird died throughout? come ye, assemble yourselves, all the
beasts of the earth, make haste to devour. Many pastors have destroyed
my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot: they have changed my
delightful portion into a desolate wilderness. They have laid it waste,
and it hath mourned for me. With desolation is all the land made desolate;
because there is none that considers in the heart.
Let us pray. O Almighty and everlasting God, give us grace so to use the
solemn and mysterious memorial of the Lord's Suffering, that the same may be
unto us a mean whereby worthily to win thy forgiveness. Through the same.
A reading from the book of
Jeremias 17:13-18 13
Lord, the hope of Israel: all that forsake thee shall be confounded: they
that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth: because they have
forsaken the Lord, the vein of living waters. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall
be healed: save me, and I shall be saved, for thou art my praise.
Behold they say to me: Where is the word of the Lord? let it come. And I
am not troubled, following thee for my pastor, and I have not desired the
day of man, thou know. That which went out of my lips, hath been right in
thy sight. Be not thou a terror unto me, thou art my hope in the day of
affliction. Let them be confounded that persecute me, and let not me be
confounded: let them be afraid, and let not me be afraid: bring upon them
the day of affliction, and with a double destruction, destroy them.
Therefore thus says the Lord: "Ask among the
nations: Who hath heard such horrible things, as the virgin of Israel hath
done to excess? Shall the snow of Libanus fail from the rock of the field?
or can the cold waters that gush out and run down, be taken away?
Because my people have forgotten me, sacrificing in vain, and stumbling in
their ways, in ancient paths, to walk by them in a way not trodden:
That their land might be given up to desolation, and to a perpetual hissing:
every one that shall pass by it, shall be astonished, and wag his head.
As a burning will I scatter them before the enemy: I will show them the
back, and not the face, in the day of their destruction." And they said:
"Come, and let us invent devices against Jeremias: for the law shall not
perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the
prophet: come, and let us strike him with the tongue, and let us give no
heed to all his words."
Give heed to me, O Lord, and hear the voice of
my adversaries. Shall evil be rendered for good, because they have dug
a pit for my soul? Remember that I have stood in thy sight, to speak good
for them, and turn away thy indignation from them. Therefore deliver
up their children to famine, and bring them into the hands of the sword: let
their wives be bereaved of children and widows: and let their husbands be
slain by death: let their young men be stabbed with the sword in battle.
Let a cry be heard out of their houses: for thou shall bring the robber upon
them suddenly: because they have dug a pit to take me, and have hid snares
for my feet. But thou, O Lord, know all their counsel against
me unto death: forgive not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted
out from thy sight: let them be overthrown before thy eyes, in the time of
thy wrath do thou destroy them.
Let us pray. O Almighty God, we beseech Thee that we whose transgressions
do unceasingly harm us, may find freedom in the Suffering of Thine
Only-begotten Son. Who with thee.
A reading from the book of Lamentations
Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is the
mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princes of provinces made
tributary! Beth. Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are
on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to
her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies. Ghimel. Juda hath removed her dwelling place because of her affliction, and
the greatness of her bondage: she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath
found no rest: all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits. Daleth. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the
solemn feast: all her gates are broken down: her priests sigh: her virgins
are in affliction, and she is oppressed with bitterness. He. Her
adversaries are become her lords, her enemies are enriched: because the Lord
hath spoken against her for the multitude of her iniquities: her children
are led into captivity: before the face of the oppressor. Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, return to the Lord thy God.
Vau. And from the daughter of Sion all
her beauty is departed: her princes are become like rams that find no
pastures: and they are gone away without strength before the face of the
Jerusalem hath remembered the days of her affliction, and prevarication of
all her desirable things which she had from the days of old, when her people
fell in the enemy's hand, and there was no helper: the enemies have seen
her, and have mocked at her sabbaths. Heth. Jerusalem has grievously
sinned, therefore is she become unstable: all that honored her have despised
her, because they have seen her shame: but she sighed and turned backward. Teth. Her filthiness is on her feet, and she hath not remembered
her end: she is wonderfully cast down, not having a comforter: behold, O
Lord, my affliction, because the enemy is lifted up. Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
return to the Lord thy God.
Jod. The enemy hath put out his hand to all her
desirable things: for she hath seen the Gentiles enter into her sanctuary,
of whom thou gave commandment that they should not enter into thy church. Caph.
All her people sigh, they seek bread: they have given all their precious
things for food to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider, for I am
become vile. Lamed. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if
there be any sorrow like to my sorrow: for he hath made a vintage of me, as
the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger. Mem. From above he hath
sent fire into my bones, and hath chastised me: he hath spread a net for my
feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate, wasted with sorrow
all the day long. Nun. The yoke of my iniquities hath watched: they are
folded together in his hand, and put upon my neck: my strength is weakened:
the Lord hath delivered me into a hand out of which I am not able to rise.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord thy God.
From the Treatise of Saint Augustine, Bishop
On the Psalms (Psalm LIV: 1)
"Give ear to my prayer, O God, and despise not my supplication:
attend unto me and hear me." These are the words of a man travailing,
anxious, and troubled. He prays in the midst of much suffering, longing to
be rid of his affliction. Our part is to see what that his affliction was,
and when he hath told us, to acknowledge that we also suffer from it; that
so, partaking in his trouble, we may take part also in his exercise, and be
troubled. Wherein mourned he? Wherein was he troubled? He said: "In my
exercise." In the next words he gives us to know that his affliction was the
oppression of the wicked, because of the voice of the enemy, and because of
the oppression of the wicked, and this suffering which came upon him at the
hands of wicked men, he hath called his exercise. Think not that wicked men
are in this world for nothing, or that God doth no good with them. Every
wicked man lives, either to repent, or to exercise the righteous.
Would to God that they which now exercise us were converted and
exercised with us! Yet, while they are as they are, and exercise us, we will
not hate them: for we know not of any one of them whether he will endure to
the end in his sin. Yea, oftentimes, when thou think that thou hate
thine enemy, he whom thou hate is thy brother, and thou know it not.
The Holy Scriptures show us that the devil and his angels are already damned
unto everlasting fire, and therefore of their repentance it is appropriate to
despair; but of theirs only. These are they against whom we wrestle within;
to the which wrestling the Apostle stirs us up where he says: "We wrestle
not against flesh and blood, (that is, not against men whom we see,) but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this world" (Ephesians vi:12). He said not the rulers of this world, lest
perchance thou should deem that devils are the lords of heaven and earth;
what he doth say is, rulers of the darkness of this world, of that world
which they love who love the world, of that world wherein the ungodly and
unrighteous do prosper, of that world, in fine, of which the Gospel saith:
"And the world knew Him not" (John i).
We have seen iniquity and strife in the
city. Behold, the glory of the Cross. That Cross which was the object of the
insults of God's enemies, is established now above the brows of kings. The
end hath shown the measure of its power: it hath conquered the world, not by
the sword, but by its wood. The enemies of God thought the Cross a meet
object of insult and ridicule, yea, they stood before it, wagging their
heads and saying: If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross!
And He stretched forth His Hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
If he is just who lives by faith, he is unjust that has not faith. Therefore where is
written iniquity we may understand unbelief. The Lord therefore said that
He saw iniquity and strife in the city, and that He stretched forth His
Hands unto that disobedient and gainsaying people, and, disobedient and
gainsaying as they were, He was hungry for their salvation, and said:
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
A reading from the first letter of blessed Apostle
Paul to Corinthians
1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Now this I ordain: not praising you,
that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For
first of all I hear that when you come together in the church, there are
schisms among you; and in part I believe it. For there must be also
heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.
When you come therefore together into one place, it is not now to eat the
Lord's supper. For every one takes before his own supper to eat. And
one indeed is hungry and another is drunk. What, have you not houses to eat and to
drink in? Or despise ye the church of God; and put them to shame that have
not? What shall I say to you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 23
For I have received of the Lord that
which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in
which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said:
and eat: this is My body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the
commemoration of me." In like manner also the chalice, after he had
supped, saying: "This chalice is the new testament in My blood: this do ye,
as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of Me." For as often as
you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of
the Lord, until he come.
1 Corinthians 11:27-34 27
Therefore whosoever shall eat this
bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the
body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so
let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eats and drinks
unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of
the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many
sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not
condemned with this world. Wherefore, my brethren, when you come
together to eat, wait for one another. If any man be hungry, let him eat at home; that you
come not together unto judgment. And the rest I will set in order, when I
Let us pray. Look down, we beseech thee, O Lord, on this thy family, for which our
Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered up into the hands of
wicked men, and to suffer the torment of the Cross. Finish silently Who with
A reading from the book of Lamentations
Heth. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Sion:
he hath stretched out his line, and hath not withdrawn his hand from
destroying: and the bulwark has mourned, and the wall hath been destroyed
together. Teth. Her gates are sunk into the ground: he has destroyed, and
broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is
no more, and her prophets have found no vision from the Lord. Jod. The
ancients of the daughter of Sion sit upon the ground, they have held their
peace: they have sprinkled their heads with dust, they are girded with
haircloth, the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. Caph. My eyes have failed with weeping, my bowels are troubled: my liver is
poured out upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people,
when the children, and the sucklings, fainted away in the streets of the
city. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.
Lamed. They said to their mothers:
Where is corn and wine? when they fainted away as the wounded in the streets
of the city: when they breathed out their souls in the bosoms of their
mothers. Mem. To
what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of
Jerusalem? to what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin
daughter of Sion? for great as the sea is thy destruction: who shall heal
thee? Nun. thy prophets have seen false and foolish things for thee:
and they have not laid open thy iniquity, to excite thee to penance: but
they have seen for thee false revelations and banishments. Samech. All they
that passed by the way have clapped their hands at thee: they have hissed,
and wagged their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying: :Is this the
city of perfect beauty, the joy of all the earth?" Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Return unto the Lord thy God.
Aleph. I am the man that see my poverty by the rod
of His indignation. Aleph. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness,
and not into light. Aleph. Only against me He has turned, and turned
again His hand all the day. Beth. My skin and my flesh He has made old,
He has broken my bones. Beth. He has built round about me, and he hath
compassed me with gall and labor. Beth. He has set me in dark places
as those that are dead for ever. Ghimel. He has built against me round
about, that I may not get out: He has made my fetters heavy. Ghimel.
Yea, and when I cry, and entreat, he has shut out my prayer. Ghimel.
He has shut up my ways with square stones, he has turned my paths upside down.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.
From the Treatise of Saint Augustine, Bishop
Psalms (Psalm LXIII)
"Thou has hidden me from the secret
counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity" (Psaalm
63:3). Now let us fix our
eyes upon our Head. Many martyrs have suffered such things as He suffered,
but God's hiding of His suffering servants is not so well seen in the
Martyrs, as it is in the Captain of the Martyrs. And it is in Him that we
best see how it fared with them. He was hidden from the secret counsel of
the wicked; hidden by God, being Himself God; hidden, as touching the
Manhood, by God the Son, and the very Manhood, Which is taken into God the
Son; because He is the Son of man, and He is the Son of God; Son of God, as
being in the form of God; Son of man, as having taken upon Him the form of a
servant (Phillipians 2:6-7), Whose life no man takes from Him, but Who lays
it down of Himself. He hath power to lay it down, and He hath power to take
it again (John 10:18). What then was all that they which hated Him could do?
They could kill the Body, but they were not able to kill the Soul. Consider
this very earnestly. It had been a small thing for the Lord to preach to the
Martyrs by His word, if He had not also emboldened them by His example.
We know what secret counsel was that of the wicked Jews, and
what insurrection was that of the workers of iniquity. Of what iniquity were
they the workers? The murder of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Many good works," said He,
"have I shown you: for which of those works go ye about to kill Me?"
He had borne with all their weaknesses: He had healed all their diseases: He
had preached unto them the kingdom of heaven: He had discovered to them
their iniquities, that they might rather hate them, than the Physician Who
came to cure them. And now at last, without gratitude for all the tenderness
of His healing love, like men raging in a high delirium, throwing themselves
madly on the Physician, Who had come to cure them, they took counsel
together how they might kill Him, as if to see if He were a Man and could
die, or Something more than a man, and That would not let Himself die. In
the Wisdom of Solomon we recognize their words, "Let us
condemn Him with a shameful death. Let us examine Him; for, by His own
saying, He shall be respected. If He be the Son of God, let Him help Him" (cf.
Wisdom 2: 18-20).
They whetted their tongue like a sword. The Jews cannot say:
did not murder Christ," albeit they gave Him over to Pilate His judge, that
they themselves might seem free of His death. For when Pilate said unto
them, "Take ye Him: and kill Him," they answered, "It is not lawful for us to
put any man to death." They could throw the blame of their sin upon a human
judge: but did they deceive God, the Great Judge? In that which Pilate did,
he was their accomplice, but in comparison with them, he had far the lesser
sin (cf. John 19:11). Pilate strove as far as he could, to deliver
Him out of their hands; for the which reason also he scourged Him (cf. John
19:1), and brought Him forth to them He scourged not the Lord for cruelty's
sake, but in the hope that; he might so slake their wild thirst for blood:
that, perchance, even they might be touched with compassion, and cease to
lust for His death, when they saw What He was after the flagellation. Even
this effort he made! But when Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but that
rather a tumult was made, ye know how that he took water,
and washed his hands before the multitude, saying: "I am innocent of the
blood of this Just Person" (cf. Matthew 27:24). And yet he delivered Him to be crucified! But if
he were guilty who did it against his will, were they innocent; who goaded
him on to it? No. Pilate gave sentence against Him. and commanded Him to be
crucified. But ye, O ye Jews, ye also are His murderers! Wherewith? With
your tongue, whetted like a sword. And when? But when ye cried, Crucify Him!
From the Epistle of Blessed Apostle Paul to the Hebrews
Let us hasten therefore to enter into
that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief. For
the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two
edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of
the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature invisible in his
sight: but all things are naked and open to his eyes, to whom our speech is.
Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest, who can not have
compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are,
Hebrews 4:16; 5:1-3
Let us go therefore with confidence to the
throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid. For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the
things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for
sins: Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err:
because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And therefore he
ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
Neither does any man take the honor to himself,
but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify
himself, that he might be made a high priest: but He that said unto him:
"Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." As he says also in
another place: "Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech." Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears,
offering up prayers and supplications to Him that was able to save him from
death, was heard for his reverence. And whereas indeed he was the Son of
God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered: And being
consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal
salvation. Called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedech.
Let us pray: Look down, we beseech thee, O Lord, on this thy family, for
which our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered up into the
hands of wicked men, and to suffer the torment of the Cross.
Who with thee.
A reading from the book of Lamentations
Heth. The mercies of the Lord that we
are not consumed: because His commiserations have not failed. Heth.
They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. Heth. The Lord
is my portion, said my soul: therefore will I wait for Him. Teth. The Lord is good to them that hope in
Him, to the soul that seeks Him. Teth. It is good to wait with silence
for the salvation of God. Teth. It is good for a man, when he hath
borne the yoke from his youth. Jod. He shall sit solitary, and hold
his peace: because he has taken it up upon himself. Jod. He shall put
his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. Jod. He shall give his cheek to him that strikes him, he shall
be filled with reproaches. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy
Aleph. How is the gold become dim, the finest color is changed, the stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of
every street? Beth. The noble sons of Sion, and they that were clothed
with the best gold: how are they esteemed as earthen vessels, the work of
the potter's hands? Ghimel. Even the sea monsters have drawn out the
breast, they have given suck to their young: the daughter of my people is
cruel, like the ostrich in the desert. Daleth. The tongue of the
sucking child has stuck to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the little ones have
asked for bread, and there was none to break it unto them. He. They
that were fed delicately have died in the streets; they that were brought up
in scarlet have embraced the dung. Vau. And the iniquity of the daughter of
my people is made greater than the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a
moment, and hands took nothing in her. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the
Lord thy God.
Here begins the Prayer of the Prophet Jeremias
Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider
and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to aliens: our houses
to strangers. We are become orphans without a father: our mothers are as
widows. We have drunk our water for money: we have bought our wood. We
were dragged by the necks, we were weary and no rest was given us. We have
given our hand to Egypt, and to the Assyrians, that we might be satisfied
with bread. Our fathers have sinned, and are not: and we have borne their
iniquities. Servants have ruled over us: there was none to redeem us out
of their hand. We fetched our bread at the peril of our lives, because
of the sword in the desert. Our skin was burnt as in an oven, by
reason of the violence of the famine. They oppressed the women in Sion, and the virgins
in the cities of Juda. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.
From the Treatise of Saint Augustine, Bishop
Psalms (Psalm LXIII, verse 7)
We shall attain to thoughts that are very deep:
but God shall still be exalted. The enemies of our Lord had joined together
to lay snares secretly; they had said, "Who shall see them?" They had searched
out iniquities; they had accomplished a diligent search. And Man attained
even unto (the realization of) their counsels, for the Lord, as Man,
suffered Himself to be taken. For He had not been taken at all, unless He
had been a Man, or seen, unless He had been a Man, or smitten, unless He had
been a Man, or crucified, unless He had been a Man, or have died, unless He
had been a Man. Man therefore, He attained unto all those sufferings, which
had had nothing in Him, unless He had been a Man. But if He had not been
Man, man had not been redeemed. And the Lord as Man attained to thoughts
that were very deep, yea, secret; showing the Manhood to the eyes of men,
and keeping the Godhead within Him; veiling the form of God, as touching
Which, He is Equal to the Father, and manifesting the form of a servant, as
touching which, He is inferior to the Father.
How far did the accomplishment of their diligent search reach?
Even to the setting a watch of soldiers at the sepulcher, to guard the Lord,
even after He was dead and buried. For they said unto Pilate: 'Sir, we
remember that that deceiver" (Matthew 27:63).... This was the term by which
they designated the Lord Jesus Christ, and the remembrance that He was so
named is a sweet consolation to us His servants, when we are called
impostors. So they said unto Pilate, that "that deceiver said, while He was yet
alive: After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the
sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come and
steal Him away, and say unto the people: He is risen again from the dead: so
the last error shall be worse than the first." Pilate said unto them: "Ye have
a watch; go your way; make it as sure as ye can." So they went and made the
sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone,
and setting a watch and anon, behold, there was a great earthquake, and the
Lord arose. So great wonders were wrought about the sepulcher that the very
soldiers, which were put to guard it, were witnesses thereto, if only they
would have told the truth. But the same love of money which had made a slave
of that disciple who was a companion of Christ, made slaves also of the
soldiers that were put to watch His sepulcher. Some of the watch came into
the city, and showed unto the chief-priests all the things that were done:
and when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they
gave large money unto the soldiers, saying: "Say ye, His disciples came by
night and stole Him away while we slept." In all truth, their diligent
search had been accomplished and ended before this. What did thou say, O
stupid cunning? Was thou indeed so utterly void of the light of godly
wisdom, and confounded in the bottomless pit of thine own falsehood as to
tell them to say: His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we
slept? Part of the testimony of thine eye-witnesses was that they were
asleep at the time: thou thyself was asleep not to be able to see that on
their own testimony, their testimony must have been worthless.
From the letter of blessed Apostle Paul to the Hebrews
But Christ, being come an high priest
of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not
made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by
His own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal
redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an
heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered
Himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve
the living God?
And therefore he is the mediator of the
new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those
transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called
may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a
testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. For a
testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no
strength, whilst the testator lives. Whereupon neither was the first
indeed dedicated without blood.
For when every commandment of the law
had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and
goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book
itself and all the people, Saying: "This is the blood of the testament, which God
hath enjoined unto you." The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the
ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things,
according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood
there is no remission.
Let us pray: Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God: that we who anticipate the
resurrection of thy Son with pious expectation, may obtain the glory of the
same resurrection. (Finish silently) Through the same.