Posts Tagged 'Divine Office'

A Hymn for Evening Prayer

The following hymn, based on the famous passage in Philippians 2:6-11, is sung every other Saturday evening for Sunday vespers. It also happens to be one of the better hymns in the Psalter. I should also mention that the passage in Philippians, likely a hymn itself in the (very) early Christian church, also serves as the Canticle for the same vespers every week. Introductions aside, here is the hymn from the Psalter:

At the name of Jesus
Ev’ry knee shall bow,
Ev’ry tongue confess him
King of glory now;
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure,
We should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning
Was the mighty Word.

Humbled for a reason,
To receive a name
From the lips of sinners,
Unto whom he came,
Faithfully he bore it,
Spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious,
When from death he passed.

Bore it up triumphant,
With its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures,
To the central height,
To the throne of Godhead,
To the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory
Of that perfect rest.

In your hearts enthrone him;
There, let him subdue
All that is not holy,
All that is not true;
May your voice entreat him
In temptation’s hour;
Let his will enfold you
In its light and power.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus
Shall return again,
With his Father’s glory,
O’er the earth to reign;
He is God the Savior;
He is Christ the Lord,
Ever to be worshiped,
Always blest, adored.

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Cowboy Logic

Yesterday’s scripture reading from the Morning Prayer made me think about that cowboy logic: I came into this world with next to nothing, and by God’s grace I still have most of it. There is something beautifully simple about it.

The scripture is taken from Job 1:21, 2:10:

Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! We accept good things from God, and should we not accept evil?

1st Week of Advent

advent_wreath-week-1In honor of this first week of the Advent season, here is the 2nd Reading from today’s Office of Readings:

The Season of Advent, from a pastoral letter by Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced at last to see. This is the season that the Church has always celebrated with special solemnity. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In his infinite love for us, though we were sinners, he sent his only Son to free us from the tyranny of Satan, to summon us to heaven, to welcome us into its innermost recesses, to show us truth itself, to train us in right conduct, to plant within us the seeds of virtue, to enrich us with the treasures of his grace, and to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.

Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share his power, if, through holy faith and the sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ.

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.

In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world. The same lesson is given us for our imitation by the words and example of the holy men of the Old Testament.

Protectors of the Flock

From today’s second reading of the Divine Office; some pastoral advice by Pope Saint Gregory the Great:

A spiritual guide should be silent when discretion requires and speak when words are of service. Otherwise he may say what he should not or be silent when he should speak. Indiscreet speech may lead men into error and an imprudent silence may leave in error those who could have been taught. Pastors who lack foresight hesitate to say openly what is right because they fear losing the favour of men. As the voice of truth tells us, such leaders are not zealous pastors who protect their flocks, rather they are like mercenaries who flee by taking refuge in silence when the wolf appears.

The Lord reproaches them through the prophet: They are dumb dogs that cannot bark. On another occasion he complains: You did not advance against the foe or set up a wall in front of the house of Israel, so that you might stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord. To advance against the foe involves a bold resistance to the powers of this world in defence of the flock. To stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord means to oppose the wicked enemy out of love for what is right.

When a pastor has been afraid to assert what is right, has he not turned his back and fled by remaining silent? Whereas if he intervenes on behalf of the flock, he sets up a wall against the enemy in front of the house of Israel. Therefore, the Lord again says to his unfaithful people: Your prophets saw false and foolish visions and did not point out your wickedness, that you might repent of your sins. The name of the prophet is sometimes given in the sacred writings to teachers who both declare the present to be fleeting and reveal what is to come. The word of God accuses them of seeing false visions because they are afraid to reproach men for their faults and thereby lull the evildoer with an empty promise of safety. Because they fear reproach, they keep silent and fail to point out the sinner’s wrongdoing.

The word of reproach is a key that unlocks a door, because reproach reveals a fault of which the evildoer is himself often unaware. That is why Paul says of the bishop: He must be able to encourage men in sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For the same reason God tells us through Malachi: The lips of the priest are to preserve knowledge, and men shall look to him for the law, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Finally, that is also the reason why the Lord warns us through Isaiah: Cry out and be not still; raise your voice in a trumpet call.

Anyone ordained a priest undertakes the task of preaching, so that with a loud cry he may go on ahead of the terrible judge who follows. If, then, a priest does not know how to preach, what kind of cry can such a dumb herald utter? It was to bring this home that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of tongues on the first pastors, for he causes those whom he has filled, to speak out spontaneously

Let us pray for such pastors who will be fearless in protecting the sheep from the wolves.

Glory To You, O Lord

The Canticle from today’s Morning Prayer, taken from I Chronicles 29:10-13:

Blessed may you be, O Lord,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.

Yours, O Lord, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.

For all in heaven and on earth is yours;
yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty:
you are exalted as head over all.

Riches and honors are from you,
and you have dominion over all.
In your hands are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.

Therefore, our God, we give you thanks
and we praise the majesty of your name.

Augustine on Pastors

From today’s second reading of the Divine Office, Saint Augustine’s Sermon on Pastors:

We have talked about what it means for a shepherd to “drink the milk of his flock.” Now, then, what does it mean when he “clothes himself in its wool”?

To give milk is to give sustenance; to give wool is to give honour. These are the two things that pastors demand when they want to feed themselves rather than their sheep: the fulfilment of their bodily wants and the pleasure that comes from honour and praise.

Clothing is a good image of honour because clothing covers nakedness. Now every man is weak – and whoever is placed over you is a man just like you. He has a body; he is mortal. He eats, he goes to sleep, he wakes up. He has been born and he will die. If you consider him in himself, he is nothing but a man; but by giving him honour you give him, as it were, clothing to cover up his human nakedness.
See what kind of clothing Paul received from the good people of God: You welcomed me as an angel of God. I swear that you would even have gone so far as to pluck out your eyes and give them to me. But with all the honour that was given to him, did he spare the feelings of those who had gone astray, so that he could avoid being contradicted or being praised less than before? He did not. If he had withheld correction from those who needed it, he would have been one of those pastors who feed themselves and not their sheep. He would have been saying to himself, “What has that to do with me? Let them do as they like: my food is safe, my honour is safe – I have as much milk and wool as I want, so let everyone wander wherever he likes.” But then, if you think like that, are all your goods really safe if everyone goes wherever he wants? If you think like that, I refuse to make you a leader and you will be like every one of your own people: If one part of the body is hurt, all parts are hurt with it.

So when the Apostle Paul is recalling how the Galatians behaved towards him, he does it because he does not want to seem forgetful of the honour they gave him. He remembers that they received him as if he had been an angel of God, that if it had been possible they would have torn out their own eyes to give to him. But despite all this, he has come to the sick, the rotting sheep to lance its abscesses and cut away its rotting flesh. He is driven to say Is it telling the truth that has made me your enemy?

Paul received the sheep’s milk, as we heard before, and he received their wool to clothe him, but he did not neglect the care of his flock. He did not seek his own interests but those of Jesus Christ.


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