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1Sunday of the First Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST AELRED OF RIEVAULX The present holy season which we call Advent directs our thoughts to our Lords twofold coming. We have therefore a double reason for rejoicing because we are meant to derive from it a double benefit. Advent calls to mind the two comings of our Lord: first the coming of the fairest of the sons of men and the desire of all nations, so long awaited and so fervently prayed for by all the fathers when the Son of God graciously revealed to the world his visible presence in the flesh, that is to say when he came into the world to save sinners; the other that second coming to which we look forward no less than did our fathers of old. While we await his return our hope is sure and firm, yet we also frequently remind ourselves with tears of the day when he who first came to us concealed in our flesh will come again revealed in the glory which belongs to him as Lord. Of that day the psalmist sings: God will come openly; it is the Day of Judgment when Christ will come as judge in the sight of all. Our Lords first coming was indeed known only to a small number of good people, but his second will be evident to good and bad alike, as is known to us by the prophets announcement: All flesh will see the salvation of God. To speak more precisely, however, the day we are shortly to celebrate in memory of our Lords birth brings him before us as a newborn child, that is to say it more expressly signifies the day and the hour when he first came into the world, whereas the season we keep beforehand represents him to us as the longed-for Messiah and reminds us of the yearning that filled the hearts of those holy fathers of ours who lived before his coming. How beautifully then at this season the Church provides that we should recite the words and recall the longing of those who lived before our Lords first advent! Nor do we commemorate that desire of theirs for a single day, but share it so to speak for a long period of time, because when something we greatly love and long for is deferred for a while it usually seems sweeter to us when it does arrive. It is our duty then to follow the example and recall the longing of the holy fathers and so inflame our own souls with love and longing for Christ. You must understand that the reason why this season was instituted was to inspire us to remember the desire of our holy fathers for our Lords first coming, and through their example learn to have a great longing for the day when he will come again. We should consider how much good our Lord did us by his first coming, and how much more he will do for us by his second. This thought will help us to have a great love for that first coming of his and a great longing for his return. And if our conscience is not so perfect that we dare entertain such a desire, we ought at least to fear his second coming and by means of that fear to correct our faults, so that if perhaps we cannot help being afraid here and now, we shall at least be secure and fearless when he comes again.
St Aelred, Sermo 1 in adventu Domini 1-6: CCCM IIA from Word in Season 1

Monday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM THE COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA Some of those who have translated the divine Scriptures have rendered this text: Behold a young woman shall conceive. It seems to the Jews that the mother of the Lord should be indicated by the expression young woman rather than be called a virgin. For they think it possible to invalidate the power of the mystery if she is called a young woman rather than a virgin. One may note their ignorance on a number of levels. First, even if the virgin is called a young woman, that does not exclude her from being a virgin. Secondly, they say that the prophet uttered these words about the wife of Ahaz, so that we should take this to refer to the birth of Hezekiah. But, my friends, one might say to them, who has called Hezekiah Emmanuel? Or how can it be proved that before he had knowledge of good and evil he rejected wickedness and chose the good? We therefore say farewell to their quibbling and welcome what is right and true, believing that in this prophecy God is indicating the Holy Virgin to us. For in this way there will truly be a miracle and a great sign, in both its depth and its height, that has come about in accordance with the divine promise. For he who is from above, and is by nature the only-begotten Son of God the Father, emptied himself and was brought forth from a virginal womb according to the flesh, receiving his generation not from the human emission of seed but from the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. For that is why it was said to the holy Virgin by the mouth of the blessed Gabriel: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. She will in consequence, he says, bear a son. See how, in order to show that he was truly God as well as man, the prophet assigned to him attributes that were both divine and human. For when he says that he was given food suitable for infants, namely butter and honey, he is trying to assure us that he came to be in the flesh in reality. Then he teaches that although he did indeed become flesh he was nonetheless as God superior to sin, for he adds at once: For before the child knows good and evil, he will reject evil and choose the good. For men who have not yet arrived at puberty cannot discern what is vicious and what is good. This phrase therefore signifies that it belongs to the divine nature to be irrevocably fixed on the good. This is also true of Christ as, though he came into being according to the flesh through the Holy Virgin, he was holy as God both from the womb and before it, seeing that he did not lose his own prerogatives on account of his human nature. Neither did he ignore what pertains to human nature on account of the dispensation of the Incarnation, in order that he might be believed to have become like us in reality, and might sanctify this created nature of ours.

St Cyril of Alexandria, In Isaiam 1.4 (PG 70, 204A-205D), tr. Norman Russell (2000)

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST BERNARD If we celebrate the Lords advent with grateful hearts we shall be doing no more than our duty, for not only did he come to us but he came for our sake, having no need of anything we can give. Moreover the very generosity with which he is pleased to treat us clearly shows up the measure of our need, for just as the danger of an illness can be inferred from the cost of medicine, so the number of infirmities is indicated by the diverse remedies required. Why should a variety of graces be dispensed, if we did not suffer multiple distress? It is certainly difficult within the compass of one sermon to detail all the needs we experience, but at present three spring to mind; they are the principal ones and common to us all. There is no one to be found among us who will not on occasion feel the need for counsel, for strengthening, and for protection. Unquestionably, a threefold wretchedness is innate in human nature. All of us who dwell in the region of the shadow of death, in weakness of body and exposed to temptation, will agree, if we consider the matter carefully, that we labour wretchedly under this triple handicap. We are easily led astray, feeble in our striving and frail when it comes to resistance. If we wish to distinguish between good and evil we are deceived; if we attempt to do good we fai1; if we try to resist evil we are overthrown and defeated. The coming of a saviour was necessary, then; the presence of Christ is indispensable for men harassed like this. O that he may so come to us in his gracious bounty that dwelling in us through faith he may enlighten our blindness, abiding with us and taking the field for us protect and guard our frailty! If he is in us who can ever deceive us? If he is with us, what can we still find too hard in him who strengthens us? If he is for us, who is against us? He is a trusty counsellor incapable of deceiving or being deceived, a mighty ally who does not grow weary, an effective champion who will swiftly crush Satan under our feet and shatter all his stratagems. Christ is the Wisdom of God, so it is simple for him to instruct the ignorant; he is the Power of God, so it is easy for him to restore those who sin and to rescue those in peril. Let us have recourse to this great teacher in all our uncertainties, invoke this ready helper in all our labour, and commit our souls to this trusty defender in all our struggles. He came into the world for this very purpose, so that by living among us, with us and for us, he might enlighten our darkness, alleviate our toil, and ward off the dangers that threaten us.

St Bernard, Sermo 7 de adventu Domini (PL 183, 54-56), from Word in Season 1

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST ODILO OF CLUNY The light that was to enlighten the whole world was about to shine upon it, driving away the thick, loathsome gloom of death and ignorance in which the author of darkness had enveloped it. And since that light was eternal and incomprehensible, it was preceded by a number of shorter-lived luminaries whose rays were more readily intelligible to men. I refer to our fathers of the Old Testament through whose virtue, teaching, and example the Lords faithful people were enlightened and instructed and the shadows of their age-old blindness dispersed, so that, if not entirely, at least in part, they would be able to recognise the light when it shone upon them. Not from themselves, nor from any other man did these lesser luminaries derive their light, but from the Supreme Light itself. They were the ones who followed the path of Gods commandments, some prior to the law, some under the law, some in the days of the judges, the kings, or the prophets but all heralding the mysteries of our Lords birth, passion, resurrection, and ascension. And after them all came John, the Lords forerunner, a beacon whose clear light led the people to the one whom the patriarchs had proclaimed and the prophets foretold. There are certain testimonies proclaimed by the Holy Spirit through the mouths of Isaiah and Jeremiah which, though properly referring to the person of our Lord and Saviour, are also by the Churchs divinely given authority and the consensus of the faithful fittingly applied to the forerunner. But even more clearly has the Holy Spirit borne witness to John. The Gospel tells us how John was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mothers womb and leapt for joy in the presence of the mother of his Lord, moved by no natural impulse but by the stirring of divine grace. Later John bore witness to Christ the Lord in the words: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world! And Christ in his own preaching gave testimony to John, saying: Among the sons of women there has never arisen a greater than John the Baptist. Calling him the greatest among those born of women, he drew attention to Johns constancy and austere manner of life and declared him to be a prophet and more than a prophet. By his own divine power Christ endowed John with privileges and graces in excess of all others, describing him, through the lips of the prophet Malachi, as the messenger who was to go before him to prepare the path of his salvation.

St Odilo, Sermo 10 (PL 142, 1019-1020), from Word in Season 1

Thursday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY PETER OF BLOIS Our task in this world, according to Saint Paul, is to live sober, upright, and godly lives as we look forward to the coming of our blessed hope, the appearing in glory of almighty God. The Lords coming is threefold. He came the first time in the flesh, the second time he comes to the individual soul, a third coming will be at the Last Judgment. The first took place at midnight, the second occurs in the early morning, the third will be at noon. With reference to the first we have the infallible words of the Gospel: A cry went up at midnight, the Bridegroom is coming! From this I note that the first coming was at midnight, the time when, in deep silence, night was pursuing its course. Jew and Greek alike walked in darkness. Then came the bridegroom. A cry went up, shattering the silence of the night. He who lights up the things that are hidden in the dark had come to dispel the night and create the day. The prophets foresaw that the almighty Word was resolved to descend from his royal throne. Realizing that Christ was to come, they broke that profound silence by bursting into shouts of joy. Individually and in chorus the prophets raised their voices, and what a cry that was! Our experience of the Lords second coming depends on whether we live in such a way as to make him willing to come to us. If we love him we need have no fear; he will surely come and make his home with us. However, there is always an element of uncertainty about this coming, whereas of the third coming there is no doubt whatever. The only thing we do not know is when it will be. There is nothing more certain than that we shall die, yet the hour of our death is unknown to us. Our only security in this life comes from knowing that we are never safe. We vacillate between health and sickness, good fortune and adversity. One minute we are alive, the next we are not. Death spares neither age nor sex. How blessed is he who can confidently say: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready! Having gathered the fruit of grace from the Lords first coming, they will reap a harvest of salvation and glory from the second; for the first opens up the way for the second, and the second prepares us for the third. Lowly and unspectacular in his first coming, secret and gentle in his second, Christ will come openly the third time, and his final coming will fill the world with dread. He came to us at his first coming in order to come into us at the second, and he comes into us at his second coming in order not to have to come against us at the third. At his first coming he showed mercy, in the second he brings grace, at the third he will give glory, for Scripture says: The Lord will confer grace and glory.

Peter of Blois, Sermo 3 de adventu Domini (PL 207, 569-572), from Word in Season 1

Friday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY BLESSED GUERRIC OF IGNY Be ready to go and meet the Lord, O Israel, for he is coming. You too must be ready, for at a time when you do not expect it the Son of Man will come. Nothing is more certain than that he is coming, nothing more uncertain than when he is coming. So far is it from being our province to know the times and seasons which the Father has appointed by his own authority, that not even to the angels who stand in his presence is it granted to know that day and hour. As for our own last day, it is most sure that this will come upon us, but most unsure when, or where, or from what quarter it will come. All we know is that, as the traditional saying has it, what is knocking at the door of the elderly lies in ambush for the young. Death which lurks in ambush is the more to be feared in that it can the less be seen and guarded against. There is only one security, and that is never to feel secure. Thus our fear, prompting us to watch ourselves carefully, keeps us always prepared until fear gives way to security, not security to fear. How beautiful a thing it is, how blessed, not merely to face death without anxiety, but through the testimony of a good conscience to triumph gloriously in it! Then, alas, you will see people like me trembling, seeking a reprieve but not getting it, wishing to buy the oil of repentance for a lamenting conscience but finding that there is not enough time. It belongs to our human condition, I know, to quail before the wrench of death, since even the perfect are unwilling to have the old body stripped off and would rather wish to have the new body put on over it; while those who are not conscious of any sin, knowing that they are not thereby justified, must dread the verdict of which they are still ignorant. Yet whether my distress arises from my human feelings or from my falling short in holiness or from my fear of judgment, I can say with the righteous psalmist: You, O Lord, will be mindful of your mercy; you will display your tender love and faithfulness and snatch my soul from the midst of the young lions. Then after my dismay sleep will come at once and I shall find rest. Do you, then, Lord, rise up to meet me as I run to meet you. Since I have not the strength to scale your summits unless you stretch out your right hand to me whom your hands have made, rise to meet me, and see whether there is any sinful way in me. If you find any sinful way at all, then take it from me; grant me the grace to live by your law and lead me in the way of eternity, that is, in Christ who is the way by which we journey and the eternity which is our journeys end: an undefiled way and a blessed dwelling place.

Bd Guerric of Igny, Sermo 3 de adventu Domini (PL 185, 18-20), from Word in Season 1

Saturday of the First Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY BLESSED GUERRIC OF IGNY Among those born of women, there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Solomon advised, Let your praise come from your neighbours lips, but how much happier and more glorious it is for someone to be praised by the lips of his God! God cannot be deceived nor does he flatter. He is not quick to praise anyone whom he sees could be puffed up by it, or whom he foresees will merit final reprobation. You, as a human assessor, are rightly warned to praise no one in your lifetime, for just as you cannot know anothers innermost heart, so you cannot foreknow the way he will end. Even in your own case you must confess, though I am not conscious of any sin, this of itself does not justify me. There are righteous and wise men whose actions are in the hand of God, and they do not know whether they deserve love or hate; all things are kept in uncertainty against the future. Happy is the man, then, who has come to know himself worthy of love by the declaration of the judge. It is true that a testimonial to present righteousness does not relieve a fickle man of all fear and misgiving about the future; nonetheless it is an unquestionable mark of outstanding virtue and great perfection whenever that sovereign judgment of God deems one still mortal fit for his commendation. Assuredly it was a remarkable eulogy of Noahs justice when the Most Just One said to him, I have seen you to be just before me. It was a sign of Abrahams high merit when God swore to him that for his sake the promises made to him would be fulfilled. Again, what pre-eminent grace God vouched for in Moses by being jealous on his behalf and routing those who were jealous of him! If anyone among you is a prophet of the Lord, he said, I will appear to him in a vision or speak to him in a dream. But not so with my servant Moses, the most faithful man in my whole household. I speak to him face to face, plainly and not in riddles, and he sees God. Why then were you not afraid to disparage my servant Moses? Finally, who has there ever been to compare with David, over whom the Lord rejoices because he has found a man after his own heart? Yet however great they all were, these people and others, there is not one among them or among any born of woman who, as he who was born of the Virgin testifies, is greater than John the Baptist. Even though star differs from star in brightness, and in that dance of holy constellations which lit up the night of this world before the rising of the true Sun there were some shone out with a marvellous radiance, still there was not one in their whole company greater or more splendid than that morning star, that burning and shining lamp which the Father prepared for his Anointed.

Bd Guerric, Sermo 3 in nat. S. Ioannis Baptistae (PL 185, 169-70), from Word in Season 1

Sunday of the Second Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON PSALM 118 BY ST AMBROSE How abundant is the grace of the Church, how great the rewards of a living faith! Since these invite us, let us forestall the rising sun to greet Christ, the Sun of justice, before he can say: See, here I am. He both wants and expects us to be there before him. You can hear Christs desire and expectation expressed in his words to the angel of the church of Pergamum: Repent, or I will soon come to you, and to the angel of Laodicea: Be zealous and repent. See, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him. He will have no difficulty in entering; no barrier of closed doors was able to shut out his body after he had risen from the dead. Suddenly, unexpectedly, he was present in the room where the Apostles were gathered. He had already tested the Apostles; he wants now to test your zeal and devotion. In time of persecution he may take the initiative; where all is tranquil, he wants you to be ready and waiting for him. Be on the watch before the sun is visible in the sky. Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, so that Christ may shine on you. If you are vigilant you will receive Christs light before sunrise. Before daybreak he will shine into the depth of your heart. Even as you say: My spirit watches for you in the night, Christ will make the light of morning illuminate your nocturnal meditation on the word of God. As you meditate, light will dawn. Seeing the light - not of the day but of grace - you will exclaim: Your commandments are my light! When day finds you meditating on Gods word and the pleasant task of prayer and psalmody delights your mind, you will once more say to the Lord Jesus: You fill both morning and evening with joy. In obedience to their master Moses, the Jewish people have the sacred Scripture recited continuously, night and day, by elders appointed for this purpose. Ask an elder about anything else and you will find this is his only skill: to recite the Scriptures in sequence. With the Jewish elders there is no worldly conversation: Scripture alone is their occupation; voice follows voice in turn so that the holy sound of Gods commandments knows no holiday. How then can you, a Christian, with Christ as your master, take your sleep without fear of having it said to you: This people does not even honour me with its lips. The Jewish people do so, but you do not. What a length of time you are sunk in sleep, in secular affairs, in the cares of this life, in things of earth! At least divide your time between God and the world. When you cannot carry out the business of this world in public and are hindered from pursuing it by the darkness of night, give time to God, give yourself to prayer. To keep yourself from dropping off to sleep, recite a psalm, cheat sleep with holy guile. In the morning hurry off to church, offer the first fruits of your prayers, and after that, if the world and its needs call you, you will be able to say: My eyes are watchful in the morning, to meditate on your words. Then you can attend to your affairs with a serene mind.

St Ambrose, Sermo 19, 30-32 (CSEL 63, 437-439), from Word in Season 1

Monday of the Second Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST BERNARD We must now give some thought to the timing of our Saviours visitation, for, as I am sure you know, it was not at the beginning of time nor at some intermediate epoch that he came to us, but at the end of the ages. This was no mere whim of his, but a wise disposition of providence that determined to wait until the sons of Adam were experiencing their greatest need before he brought them help, since he well knew how prone men were to ingratitude. Evening was already drawing on and the day was almost over; the sun of justice had begun to sink beneath the horizon and now shed very little of its light and warmth upon the earth, for the light of the knowledge of God had become feeble, and with the increase of sin charity had grown cold. No longer were angels seen or prophetic voices heard; it seemed as if the stiff-necked obduracy of the human race had driven both angels and prophets to despair of intervening further in its affairs. But it was at this point that the Son of God announced: See, I am coming! Well-timed indeed was the entrance of eternity upon the earthly scene, when temporal prosperity was at its zenith. To give but one illustration, peace itself at that period was so universal that it was possible for the decree of a single man to impose a general census upon the whole world. You already know who it is that comes, where he comes from and to whom, together with the why, the wherefore, and the when. The one thing still to learn is the road by which he comes, and this we must diligently search out so that we can run to meet him and give him a fitting welcome. However, just as he once came on earth in the flesh to accomplish our salvation, so he comes daily in the spirit to save each individual soul; the difference is that his first coming was visible to the eye, whereas the second is unseen. As Scripture says: Christ the Lord is the breath of life to us, and the hidden nature of this spiritual coming is shown in the continuation of the same text: Under his shadow we shall live among the nations. For this reason, even if you are too sick to go very far to meet the Lord, it is appropriate for you to respond to the great physicians visit by making an effort at least to raise your head and lift yourself up a little to greet him on his arrival. The road pointed out to you is not a long one; you do not have to cross the seas or pierce the clouds or climb mountains to meet your God. Enter into your own soul and you will find him, for his word is near you; it is on your lips and in your heart. Go down deep into your heart until you are stirred to compunction; make your confession, and so at least turn your back on a conscience so defiled as to be unworthy of entertaining the author of purity. These are the thoughts I put before you in respect to the coming of our Lord to each individual soul and the enlightenment his powerful presence brings us.

St Bernard, Sermo I in adventu Domini, 9-10; Opera omnia, 4 [1966] 167-169, from WS 1

Tuesday of the Second Week in Advent Year I


Let the thirsty land rejoice, let the wilderness exult and flower like the lily. The desert regions of the Jordan shall blossom and be glad. The glory of Lebanon is given to it and the honour of Carmel. My people shall see the glory of the Lord and the majesty of our God. In inspired Scripture it is usually the church drawn from the Gentiles that is described as barren and sterile; the church, that is, which once existed among the pagans, the church which had not received Christ, her spiritual bridegroom from heaven, and was still deprived of every blessing. Dry and thirsty, she was like ground that brings forth thorns. Then Christ came to her. She took him to herself through faith, and the divine stream that flows from him enriched her, for he is the fountain of life and a torrent of delight. It was he himself who said through one of the prophets: Behold, 1 visit them like a river of peace and like a torrent pouring out on them the glory of the nations. After that she was no longer sterile and barren, but had a husband and many children and bloomed with spiritual flowers. Let her who used to thirst rejoice greatly, says Scripture; let her flower like the lily and put forth blossoms both beautiful and fragrant. We know from Paul that this was Christs fragrance, for he wrote: To God, we have the fragrance of Christ. The desert regions of the Jordan of which Scripture speaks are those bordering the river. The river Jordan has been given to us Gentiles, or at least to those among us who have believed, and it is in our territory. We have been baptized in it, and so as I said this sacred stream is ours. To this desert, then, formerly parched but now watered by the renowned river Jordan, the glory of Lebanon and the honour of Carmel have been given. Lebanon and Carmel are names often used for Jerusalem and the temple of God itself. But the glory which once belonged to the holy city and the temple of God has been given to the Church drawn from the Gentiles, and in it we have seen the glory of the Lord and the majesty of God. The Jews treated the Lord as a mere man in no way superior to other men but we have seen the majesty of his glory. We know that he is God - by divine dispensation God made man, but nevertheless still God. A pure highway shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way. By a pure highway, the prophet means either the power of a life lived according to the Gospel or, alternatively, the purification accomplished by the Spirit. For the Spirit cleanses human souls of their stains, frees them from sins, and gives them mastery over whatever could pollute them. It is therefore rightly called a holy and pure way. It is a way inaccessible to those as yet unpurified, for no one can live according to the Gospel who has not first been enriched by the purification of holy baptism; nor therefore can any unbeliever.

St Cyril of Alexandria, In Is. Lib. 3, t. 3 (PG 70, 749-754), from Word in Season 1 Wednesday of the Second Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A HOMILY BY ABBOT GODFREY OF ADMONT In the Book of Ruth we can find something that may rather fittingly be applied to the Mother of God. In her own person Ruth was quite praiseworthy; in her family she was conspicuous, being born of the base and accursed people of Moab. She chose to leave her relatives and the land of her birth and to reside in a land not her own. There, because of the great integrity of her life and habits, she was joined in marriage to a distinguished man of the Israelite people, named Boaz, and by him she had a son named Obed, who was father of the father of King David, of whose seed Christ, the Son of God, was born. The name Ruth means hastening, and the name, we think, is suited to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was always hastening, that is, fervent in holy and good works. Ruth was descended from the base and accursed race of the Moabites; Mary was born of that people whom the blame for original sin had rendered ignoble and accursed. Ruth left her native land and her relatives in order to practice the faith of her mother-in-law, and she resided in a land not her own. Mary left her native place and her parents when, in order to remain faithful to God the Father and preserve her own chastity, she separated herself from the common life of the world. She regarded herself as an exile and pilgrim in this world, for she contemned everything that the present world loves, and she was hastening to the only true and endless glory of the heavenly homeland. From the lineage of Ruth King David was born; from the virginal flesh of the Virgin Mary was born our true David, of strong arm and comely face, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the entire world has been saved. Tamar, the ancestor of Boaz, prayed: Most merciful Judge, recognize in me faith and hope and love of you. These are your gifts, which you have given to me; as best I could, with your help, I have preserved them as a testimony to my salvation and have brought them back to you. Since these gifts have been acknowledged by Judah, that is, by God the Father, the soul shall be received into the joys of everlasting blessedness through him who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Abbot Godfrey of Admont, Homiliae Festivals (PL 174, 1026-1028), from Word in Season 2 Thursday of the Second Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS BY ST AUGUSTINE God had a time for making his promises and a time for fulfilling them. His time for making promises was from the days of the prophets until the coming of John the Baptist. His time for fulfilling them was from then until the end of the world. God is faithful and he has put himself in our debt, not by receiving anything from us but by promising so much. Nor was a promise sufficient for him; he even bound himself in writing, giving us as it were a pledge in his own hand. He wanted us to see from Scripture, when the time for fulfilment came, how he was carrying out his promises one by one. God promised us eternal salvation, everlasting bliss with the angels, an incorruptible inheritance, endless glory, the joyful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heaven, and after the resurrection from the dead no further fear of dying. This is what he holds out to us at the end as the goal of all our striving. When we reach it we shall ask for nothing more. But as to how we are to reach our final goal, he revealed this too by promises and prophecies. God promised men divinity, mortals immortality, sinners justification, outcasts glory. But because his promise that we who are mortal, corruptible, weak and of low estate, mere dust and ashes, were to be equal to the angels seemed incredible, God not only made a written covenant with us to win our faith, but he also gave us a mediator of his pledge. This mediator was not a prince, an angel, or an archangel, but his only Son; through his own Son he meant both to show us and give us the way by which he would lead us to the promised goal. He was not satisfied with sending his Son to show us the way. He made him the way itself. Gods only Son, then, was to come among us, take our human nature, and in this nature be born as a man. He was to die, to rise again, to ascend into heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to fulfil his promises among the nations. After that he was also to fulfil his promise to come again, to demand what he had previously requested, to separate those deserving his anger from those deserving his mercy, to give the wicked what he had threatened and the just what he had promised. All this had to be prophesied, foretold, and impressed on us as an event in the future so that we should not be terrified by its happening unexpectedly, but wait for it with faith.

St Augustine, In ps. 109, 1-3 (CCL 40, 1601-1603), from Word in Season 1 Friday of the Second Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM THE TREATISE AGAINST HERESIES BY ST IRENAEUS The Lord came visibly to his own domain, and was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. By his obedience upon a tree he reversed the disobedience shown because of another tree. The seduction to which the betrothed virgin Eve had miserably fallen victim was remedied by the truth happily announced by the angel to Mary, another betrothed virgin. As Eve, seduced by an angel, turned away from God by disobedience to his word, so Mary, receiving the good news from an angel, bore God in her womb in obedience to his word; and as Eve had been led to disobey God, so Mary was persuaded to obey him. Thus the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. Christ recapitulated all things in himself, including our war against the enemy. He challenged and defeated him who in the beginning had taken us captive in Adam, and he crushed his head in accordance with Gods words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel. From that time on, he who was to be born of a virgin in the likeness of Adam was foretold as the one who would lie in wait for the serpents head. This is the descendant to whom Paul refers when he says in his letter to the Galatians: The law of works was in force until the coming of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. Paul is still more explicit when he says in the same letter: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman. The enemy would not have been defeated fairly if his vanquisher had not been a man born of a woman, because it was through a woman that he gained mastery over the human race in the beginning, and set himself up as our adversary. That is why the Lord proclaims himself the Son of Man, who recapitulates in himself that first man from whom the race born of woman was formed: as by a mans defeat our race fell into the bondage of death, so also by a mans victory we were to rise again to life.

St Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. Lib.5,19,1; 20,2; 21,1 (SC 153, 248-250,260-264), fr. Word in Season 1 Saturday of the Second Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST AUGUSTINE Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Let us make every effort to purify our hearts, exert ourselves to stay alert, and as far as in us lies gain this grace by constant prayer. And if we wonder about external purity, the Lord tells us: Clean the inside, and then the outside will be clean as well. Some may think that Scripture refers to the body as much as to the heart, for it is written: All mankind will see Gods salvation. How then can there be any doubt that the sight of God is promised to us, unless there is doubt as to the meaning of Gods salvation. But since there is no uncertainty about this, there is no doubt: Gods salvation is Christ the Lord. The divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ can be seen by the eyes of the heart when they are pure, perfect, and full of God; and he was seen also in the body according to the text: Afterward he was seen on earth and lived among men. Thus the meaning of the text: All mankind will see the salvation of God is clear: let no one doubt that it means that we shall see Christ. Uncertainty remains, however, as to whether we shall see the Lord Christ in the body, or as the Word who was in the beginning, the Word who was with God and who was God, and into this we must inquire. All mankind will see Gods salvation is said to mean that all mankind will see Gods Christ. But Christ was also seen in a body that was no longer mortal, a body that had undergone a spiritual transformation. After his resurrection he himself said to those who saw and touched him: Handle and see, for spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. This is how he will be seen: not only how he was seen in the past but how he will be seen in the future. And then surely the words all mankind will be more perfectly fulfilled. For people see him now, but not all people. On the Day of judgement, however, when he comes with his angels to judge the living and the dead, when all who are in their graves hear his voice and come forth, some rising to life, others to condemnation, they will see the very form which he deigned to assume for our sake. Not only will the righteous see it but also the wicked, both those on the right hand and those on the left, for even those who killed him will see him whom they pierced. All mankind, then, will see Gods salvation. Both those who see and he who is seen will be in the body because it is in his real body that he will come to judge. But to those placed on his right and sent to the kingdom of heaven he will show himself in the way he promised when he was already seen in the body: Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and show myself to them.

St Augustine, Sermo 277, 15-16 (PL 38, 1266-1267), from Word in Season 2 Sunday of the Third Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY BY ST AMBROSE OF MILAN When Boaz, the great-grandfather of David, saw Ruths behaviour, her devotion to her mother-in-law, her loyalty to her dead husband, and her fear of God, he chose her for his wife in accordance with the law of Moses which bade him raise up offspring for his next of kin. That this marriage was symbolic is shown by the blessing given by the elders: May the Lord make this woman who is about to come into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May she make you powerful in Ephrathah and renowned in Bethlehem. And may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman. And Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife, and she bore Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of David. Matthew did well, then, when about to summon all nations to the Church through the Gospel, to recall that the Lord who brings about this gathering of the nations was himself, in his human body, of alien origin. Matthew thus made known that it was from this lineage that he would come who was to summon the nations he whom we desire to follow, we of alien origin who were gathered together when we left our native land and said to whoever called us to worship the Lord, Paul, for example, or any bishop: Your people shall be my people, your God my God. So did Ruth, like Leah and Rachel, forget her own people and her fathers house and, freeing herself from the fetters of the law, she entered the Church. What good reason there was for inserting Ruths name in the lineage of the Lord is shown by the revelation of a still more profound mystery, for in the words: May the Lord give you power in Ephrathah and make your name renowned in Bethlehem it is prophesied that Christ should be her descendant. For what is this power if not that by which the Christ gathered together all the nations of the world? Whence is this renown if not in the fact that Bethlehem became the Lords hometown when he was born as a man. As the prophecy proclaims: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the towns of Judah, for from you shall come the prince who will rule my people Israel.

St Ambrose, In S. Luc III, 31-35 (SC 45, 123-124), from Word in Season 2 Monday of the Third Week in Advent Year 1

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON MICAH BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA The mystery of Christ is truly a matter for marvelling, and the excellence of it is beyond the wondering utterance of anyone who knows the mercy shown to us. Habakkuk too, an inspired man of God, stood in awe at the manner of the incarnation and cried out, Lord, I harkened to your tidings, and I was afraid; I considered your works, and I marvelled. The only Son of God, who is in the form of God and equal to God the Father, rich though he was in his divinity, made himself poor, that we might be enriched by his poverty. So he willed to save the lost, strengthen the weak, bind up the shattered, give life to the dead, purify the defiled, and adorn with the honour of being Gods children by adoption those who by nature were slaves. Let everyone hear the words: Who is God like unto you? For he is good and forgiving and refrains from punishing the faults that stand against the remnant of his inheritance. By this remnant are to be understood those few of Israel who have believed because by not believing the majority are clearly heading for destruction. Christ said, He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in Gods name. God passes over our sins and overlooks our faults. He keeps no angry score against us. We were cast out in Adam, but welcomed again in Christ. As by the transgression of one man many died, says Scripture, so by the righteous deed of one man many will live. God has ceased to be angry, because he is a God who wishes to show mercy. When he turned back to us again at the time of his incarnation it was as though he sank all our sins into the sea. And so, the prophet continues, since God promised to the holy fathers Abraham and Jacob that he would multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, he will indeed give them what was promised. They shall be called fathers of many nations, which evidently means that they are fathers not merely to those who are counted among Abrahams children because they are of Israelite blood, but also to the children of the promise. The children of faith, both those who come from what are called the uncircumcised and those who are circumcised according to the law, are fused together in a unity in the Spirit. For it is written, Not all those who are of Israelite descent really belong to Israel; it is the children of the promise who are reckoned as the true race. Now as many as are children of Abraham by faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, and we can understand how this promise of blessing is fulfilled by the grace bestowed in Christ, through glory to God the Father, with the Holy Spirit, for endless ages. Amen.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Cap. 7, 72 (PG 71, 774-775), from Word in Season 1 Tuesday of the Third Week in Advent Year I


In the last days the mountain of the Lord will stand out clearly and the house of the Lord will be on top of the mountain. It will be raised high above the hills, and all nations will stream toward it. This prophecy came true for the benefit of the whole human race in the last days, that is to say, in the final age of this world, when the Word of God, his only Son, appeared, born of a woman. Then, as Scripture says, he presented to himself the Church, the spiritual Judea or Jerusalem, as a pure virgin without stain or wrinkle or any other imperfection, holy and unblemished. All nations will stream toward it and many peoples will come and say: Let us go up to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his way and we will walk in it. There is no need of a lengthy argument to prove that, through faith, all nations have been brought together into the Church. The fact speaks for itself. This great multitude of peoples was called together not by instruction in the law, nor by the holy prophets, but by the secret working of Gods grace enlightening their minds and making them long for Christ to save them. First they climb the mountain and then they seek to have the word of God preached to them. They promise to walk in the way the Lord, which is that of the Gospel, the entry to which is through the purification accomplished by faith. For those seeking to learn the way of the Lord must first renounce their past errors. We cannot long for something better until we reject what we held before. Who was their spiritual guide who brought them to a knowledge of the truth and persuaded them to regard as ridiculous their old way of thinking and to adopt a new one? Who but God? It was he who illumined their minds and hearts and led them both to say and to believe that the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The blessed prophet announced that the time was determined for the calling and the conversion of the Gentiles. This would take place, he said, when the God of the whole world, the universal King and Lord, judges all the nations and establishes justice among them. Previously, injustice was rampant as the nations plundered one another and practised every kind of cruelty and excess. But when such things are done away with, justice will be given us by God. When Christ, who is peace, rules the nations all discord, strife, contention, and every kind of oppression will be banished, together with the injuries that give rise to war and the terrors that follow in its wake. The will of him who said, I leave you peace, my peace I give you, will be victorious.

St Cyril of Alexandria Lib. 1, Oratio 2 (PG 70, 67-74), from Word in Season 1 Wednesday of the Third Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM THE TREATISE ON THE TRINITY BY ST HILARY OF POITIERS When all things are made subject to him, save the one who made them subject, then the Son himself will be subject to the one who made all else subject to him, so that God may be all in all. The first stage of the mystery is that all is made subject to the Son; the second is that the Son himself then becomes subject to him who reigns in his glorious body, by the same dispensation he himself, now reigning in bodily glory, will be subject to the one who subjected all else to him. We are subject to his glorious body, in order that we may share in the glory by which he now reigns in the body; for our bodies shall become like his. The Gospels are not silent about the bodily glory of the reigning Lord. It is written that he said: Amen I tell you, some those standing here will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. The bodily glory of him who comes was made known to the Apostles when the Lord stood before them gloriously transfigured and showed the brilliance his body would have when he came to rule. He promised the Apostles that they would share in his glory: The Son of Man will send his angels to collect from his kingdom all who give scandal and all evildoers, and he will cast them into the fiery furnace, where there will he weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine like the sun in their Fathers kingdom. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! But do not all of us have our natural bodily ears alert to hear what is said, and is not the Lords warning about hearing therefore unnecessary? The Lord is referring, however, to a knowledge of the mystery of his divine plan when he insists on our hearing his teaching. At the end of the world, then, all who give scandal shall be removed from his kingdom. The Lord will reign in bodily glory and remove every cause of scandal. And we shall resemble him in bodily glory in the Fathers kingdom, where we shall be radiant as the sun, for when Christ was transfigured on the mountain he showed the Apostles that such splendour is the raiment proper to his kingdom. He will hand over the kingdom to God the Father: not in the sense that he will be handing over his power, but in the sense that he will make us like himself in bodily glory and hand us over to God as his kingdom. He will hand us over to reign with him, according to his words in the Gospels: Come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of world. The just, then, shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, for the Son shall hand over to God, as his kingdom, those he called into the kingdom and to whom he promised the blessedness proper to this mystery when he said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

St Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Lib. 11, 36-40 (PL 10, 423-425), from Word in Season 1 Thursday of the Third Week of Advent Year I

A READING FROM THE WRITINGS OF ST AUGUSTINE The main reason why Christ came was so that men might learn how much God loves them; and that they might learn this so as to glow with love for the God by whom they were first loved, and so as to love their neighbour, following the direction and example of him who made himself their neighbour by loving them at a time when they were not close to him but were wandering far from him. All divine Scripture that was written before the Lords coming was written to announce that coming, and whatever has since been committed to writing and invested with divine authority speaks of Christ and teaches us love. In view of this, it is plain that on these two commandments of love for God and neighbour rest not only the whole law and the prophets which at the time of Christ were as yet the only holy Scripture but also all the books of divine writings which were later set apart for our salvation and handed down to us. Hence, in the Old Testament is hidden the New, and in the New Testament is revealed the Old. In keeping with that hiddenness, those who live and understand according to the flesh have been made subject to the fear of punishment, both then and now. In keeping with this revelation, on the other hand, those who live and understand according to the Spirit are set free thanks to the gift of love. This includes both those who in former times knocked devoutly at the door and had opened to them even things that were hidden, and those who in our own times seek without pride so that they will not find closed to them even things that were unhidden. Therefore, since nothing is more opposed to love than envy, and the mother of envy is pride, the same Lord Jesus Christ, God-man, is both the disclosure of divine love for us and the example of human humility among us, in order that the swelling of our arrogance, great as it is, may be healed by an even stronger antidote. For the proud human being is a great affliction, but the humble God is an even greater mercy. Keep this love before you then as a goal to which you refer all that you say, and whenever you speak, speak in such a way that your listeners by hearing may believe, by believing may hope, and by hoping may love.

St Augustine, De catechizandibus 4, 8, 8 (CCL 46, 128-129), from Word in Season Friday of the Third Week in Advent Year I

A READING FROM THE TREATISE ON THE INCARNATION BY ST ATHANASIUS Only the Word of the Father, who is exalted above all, could recreate all, suffer for all, and intercede for all with the Father. Therefore, the incorporeal, incorruptible, immaterial Word of God entered our world, although he was not far from it before. Indeed, no part of creation has ever been without him, for even while remaining with his Father he has always filled all things everywhere. But now in his love for us he has condescended to come and reveal himself. He saw that the human race was perishing and that it was under the reign of death because of its corruptibility. He saw the firm hold that corruptibility had on us as the penalty for our transgression and that it would be monstrous for the law to come to nothing before ever having been fulfilled. He also saw the unseemliness of what was happening, of his own creatures ceasing to exist. He saw the excessive wickedness of the human race and how little by little it was mounting up against us and becoming intolerable. He saw that all men were subject to death. Therefore, he had mercy on our race and in his pity for our weakness he descended to our corruptible condition. He could not allow death to have the mastery, for fear that creation should perish and his Fathers work for the human race come to nothing. And so he took a body for himself, a body no different from ours. For he did not wish simply to become embodied and to make himself visible. If he had wished merely to become visible he could have manifested himself by means of some nobler instrument. But no; he took a human body, and took it moreover from a spotless, immaculate virgin, without the intervention of a man. He who is powerful and who created the whole universe fashioned for himself in the Virgin a body to be his temple, making it his own as the instrument through which he could be known and in which he could dwell. Since all men were subject to death, after taking from us a body like ours he delivered it up to death in the place of us all, offering it to the Father. He did this because of his love for us, so that we might all die in him, for then the law imposing death on us would be abrogated. The Word knew that there was absolutely no way of delivering us from our state of corruptibility except by dying. Since he himself, being immortal and the Son of the Father, was incapable of dying, he took to himself a body which could die. Its participation in the Word who is above all would make it worthy to die for all. Because of the Word dwelling in it, it would remain incorruptible and all others would be freed from corruptibility by the grace of resurrection.

St Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 7-9, from Word in Season 1 17th December Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA In earlier days a life of moral excellence was a road difficult of access to nearly everyone and evangelical behaviour a path untrodden. All minds were ruled by worldly and earthbound desires and were swept away by the inordinate impulses of the flesh. But when God became man or was made flesh, as the Scripture says he abolished sin in the flesh: he overthrew the principalities and powers and the world rulers of this universe. He made our path to godliness into a level road on which travelling is easy, where nothing is too steep or too high, and nothing lies down in a hollow: a road smoothed out into a plain. All the devious tracks have been straightened. But there is more: The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see the salvation of God, because the Lord has spoken. The prophet says that the glory will be revealed, but how will this be done? Christ is the only Son of the Father and the Word of God, subsisting as God and born of the Father in a way no words can explain in the sublimity of the Godhead, far above all heavenly rulers, authorities, thrones, and dominations and every title that can be given in this world or the next. He is the Lord of glory, and we have come to recognize his glory even though formerly we did not know it, because by becoming a man like us he revealed himself in his incarnation. He was revealed who is equal in power to God the Father, equal to him in action and equal in glory; he was revealed who upholds the universe by his mighty word, accomplishes miracles with ease, rebukes inanimate creation, raises the dead, and achieves without effort all the rest of his wonderful works. Thus the glory of the Lord has been revealed, and all flesh has beheld with wonder the salvation of God; that is, the saving act of the Father who sent his Son from heaven to be our saviour and redeemer. For since the law brought nothing to perfection and since the sacrifices that were only types had no power to cleanse us from sins, we were made perfect in Christ, freed from every stain and honoured by the gift of the Spirit who makes us by adoption sons of God. And in the intention of the One who saves, the grace given in Christ will extend to all flesh; that is, to the whole human race.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Is. 3,4 (PG 70, 802-803), from Word in Season 1 18 th December Year I

A READING FROM A LETTER OF ST LEO THE GREAT It is of no avail to say that our Lord, the son of the Virgin Mary, was true and perfect man, if he is not believed to be man of that stock from which the Gospel tells us he came. Matthew says: The book of the genealogy of Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. He then follows the order of Christs human origin and traces the line of his ancestry down to Joseph, to whom the Lords mother was betrothed. Luke, on the other hand, works backwards step by step; and traces his succession to the first of the human race himself, to show that the first Adam and the last Adam were of the same nature. The almighty Son of God could have come to teach and justify men with only the outward appearance of our humanity, exactly as he appeared to patriarchs and prophets. This he did when he wrestled with Jacob, or entered into conversation, or when he did not refuse hospitable entertainment, and even partook of the food set before him. Those outward appearances pointed to this man. They had a hidden meaning which proclaimed that his reality would be taken from the stock of his forefathers. Hence Gods plan for our reconciliation, formed before all eternity, was not realized by any of these prefigurations. As yet, the Holy Spirit had not come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Only then, would the Word become flesh within her inviolate womb, in which Wisdom would build a house for herself. Then, too, the creator of ages would be born in time and the nature of God would join with the nature of the slave in the unity of one person. He through whom the world was created would himself be brought forth in the midst of all creation. If the new man, made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had not taken our old nature; if he, one in substance with the Father, had not accepted to be one in substance with the mother; if he who was alone free from sin had not united our nature to himself, then men would still have been captive under the power of the devil. We would have been incapable of profiting by the victors triumph if the battle had been fought outside our nature. But, by means of this marvellous sharing, the mystery of our rebirth shone out upon us. We are reborn in newness of spirit through the same Spirit through whom Christ was conceived and born. Consequently the evangelist speaks of those who believe as those who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

St Leo the Great, Ep. 31, 2-3, from The Divine Office Vol. I 19th December Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST MAXIMUS OF TURIN Even if I were to keep silence, my friends, the season would warn us that the birthday of Christ our Lord is at hand. The year is coming to an end and forestalls the subject of my sermon. The depressing shortness of the days itself testifies to the imminence of some event which will bring about the betterment of a world urgently longing for a brighter sun to dispel its darkness. In spite of fearing that its course may be terminated within a few brief hours, the world still shows signs of hope that its yearly cycle will once more be renewed. And if creation feels this hope, it persuades us also to hope that Christ will come like a new sunrise to shed light on the darkness of our sins, and that the Sun of Justice, in the vigour of his new birth, will dispel the long night of guilt from our hearts. Rather than allow the course of our life to come to an end with such appalling brevity, we are confident that he will extend it by his powerful grace. Since even the physical world informs us that our Lords birthday is at hand, let us follow the earths example. I mean that as from Christmas Day onward the earth enjoys lengthening periods of daylight, so we too should imitate it by growing in holiness. And as rich and poor alike share the same light of Christmas, so we should share what we have with the needy and with strangers. From Christmas Day onward the earth begins to throw off its nocturnal gloom, and we in our turn should curtail the darkness of our greed. So, my brothers, let us array ourselves in clear and shining garments to welcome the Lords birthday. The garments I speak of are for the soul, not the body. Our care must be lavished on the precious works of love, not on robes of silk. Beautiful clothes may cover our limbs, but they leave our conscience unadorned. In fact, to parade about with ones body splendidly attired brings a person even greater disgrace if, in so doing, his heart is inwardly defiled. We must first ennoble our inward desires, then our outward apparel will be beautiful. We must cleanse ourselves of spiritual stains if our bodily raiment is to appear bright and shining. It is useless to wear dazzling clothes while our souls are squalid with sin; a darkened conscience means that the whole body is plunged in gloom. However, we have in our possession the means of washing away the stains from our conscience. Scripture tells us: give alms, and then everything will be clean for you. How precious an injunction this is! By giving alms with our hands, we are cleansed in our inmost hearts.

St Maximus of Turin, Sermo 61a, 1-3 (CCL 23, 249.250-251), from Word in Season 1 20th December Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA In the book of Isaiah it is written: Behold, the virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel. Yet when blessed Gabriel revealed this mystery to the holy Virgin who was to be the Mother of God, he said: Do not he afraid, Mary, for you have found favour in Gods sight. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will name him Jesus, for it is he who will save his people from their sins. How is this? Does the message of the holy angel contradict that of the prophet? By no means. Speaking mysteries in the Spirit, the inspired Prophet foretold that God would be with us, naming him Emmanuel in consideration of his divine nature and of the plan whereby he became incarnate. The blessed angel on the other hand called him by a name that signified his function: he has in fact saved his people, and on this account he is called Saviour This is how hosts of angels announced the Good News to the shepherds at the time when he humbled himself to be born in the flesh for our sake: Be not afraid, they said; today we bring you good tidings of a great joy for the whole people: a saviour has been born this day in the city of David, and he is Christ the Lord. Rightly then is he named Emmanuel, because being God by nature he became God-with-us when he was made man. And yet he is also named Jesus, because being God, and being made man, he had the task of saving the world. So when he came forth from his mothers womb (for according to the flesh he was truly born of her) his name was conferred on him. It was inappropriate for God the Word to be named Christ before his birth in the flesh: how should he be called Christ, the Anointed One, when he had not yet been anointed? But when he was born as man, then there was given to him the name that belonged to him in virtue of his human condition. Scripture says that his mouth was made into a sharp sword, and this is true as well. Elsewhere in the same prophecy of Isaiah we are told, Righteousness will be the belt around his waist, truth will be his vesture, and with the breath of his lips he will destroy the impious. Gods message from heaven, that Good News proclaimed by the mouth of Christ, has become a sharp sword in play against the devils tyranny, a sword to slay the rulers of this world of darkness and the spiritual of wickedness. For he dispersed the mist of deceit and irradiated all human hearts with true knowledge of God. He sheared off the sin of the world, justifying the impious by faith, filling those who draw near with the Holy Spirit and making them sons of God. He instilled into them a strong and most valiant purpose, and put into their hands the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, so that they might withstand the foes who had once prevailed and run unhindered toward the prize of their heavenly calling.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Lib. 4, Oratio 4 (PG 70, 1035-1038), from Word in Season 1 21st December Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST ODILO OF CLUNY Know that I am with you every day until the end of the world. If our Lord has promised to be with his faithful people every day, we can expect him to be even closer to us on the day of his birth; the greater our eagerness to serve him, the more we shall perceive his presence among us. Yes, he who spoke through Solomon, saying: I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, as the firstborn of all creation, and again; The Lord possessed me when his purpose first unfolded, before the earliest of his works; from everlasting I was firmly established; he who said through Isaiah: Do I not fill heaven and earth? he it is who, in the mysterious plan of his own providence, is born on earth and laid in a manger. While Solomons words teach us that Christ was eternally in existence before the world began, Isaiahs declare that there is no place in the whole of creation from which he is absent. And if he exists always and everywhere, he cannot be absent from ourselves. The testimony of the ancient prophets to Christs eternal being and his boundless divine presence is indeed trustworthy. Our Saviour himself tells the Jews in the Gospel: Before Abraham ever existed, I am. With God the Father from all eternity, before Abraham existed (more accurately, before anything existed) he had his eternal being; and yet he chose to be born in time from the stock of Abraham Abraham who was told by God the Father: In your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The blessed patriarch David was also granted privilege of a similar promise. Revealing to him hidden secrets of his wisdom, God the Father told him: The fruit of your body I will set upon your throne. These two received the promise of the Saviours coming more plainly than any of our other fathers, and so they deserved to be given the first and most important place in the records of our Lords ancestry according to the evangelist Matthew, the opening words of whose Gospel are: The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. With these sacred words of the evangelist both the prophetic oracles and the apostolic preaching are in accord. The man in the Gospel who was freed from the darkness of ignorance and enlightened by faith addressed Gods Son as Son of David. Not only did he receive spiritual insight, but he also deserved to have his bodily sight restored. Christ the Lord desires to be called by this name, knowing that there is no other name by which the world can be saved. And if we ourselves wish to be saved by him who is the one and only Saviour, each of us must also say to him: Lord, son of David, have mercy on us. Amen.

St Odilo of Cluny, Sermo 1 in nativitate Domini (PL 142, 993-994), from Word in Season 1 22nd December Year I

A READING FROM AN ANCIENT SERMON Now that the season has arrived for me to speak to you about the Lords incarnation and his coming among us, it would not be right to let these days pass by in silence. Rejoice, Zion! Your King is coming. Let Zion rejoice, I say; and by Zion I mean our own souls. Let our souls reject all that is evil and fix their gaze on the blessings that are to come. See, he is coming to dwell among you. To dwell among us? But who? None other than the God who would make us his own possession, desiring to gather a people to himself and establish them as his chosen portion. The God who would dwell in our midst is the subject of another prophetic text that reads: I shall walk among them and dwell in their midst; I shall be their God and they will be my people. When he has established his dwelling place within us and taken full possession of our souls, he will make our whole being holy, perfect, and blameless. Let him come then and take possession of those he has redeemed; let him dwell in their hearts and complete the work he has begun in them; let him go ahead of them, leading the way for them out of the land of Babylon. He will find his resting place among us and be glorified in our midst when other people see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father, whose sons we have become not through anything we have done to deserve it, nor on account of our good deeds, but solely because of his mercy. Yes, it is through Gods mercy that we have received our freedom and are counted among his adopted sons. God is glorified among us when we grow in love and compassion, when we carry out his commands and persevere in doing his will; these are the ways in which he is glorified. Now we know that the Lord has been sent to us as our redeemer, our life, and our healing, bringing us his loving mercy and grace beyond all our deserts. So when we see ourselves lifted up from the dust of the earth to receive a heavenly prize, let all of us believers be glad of heart and rejoice, and, as living souls raised up from the dead, let each one of us seek the Lord. What return shall we make to the Lord for such blessings? All we can do is to bow our heads and beat our breasts, saying with the publican: O God, be merciful to me a sinner! Rejoice, then, my friends, at these great gifts of his, exult in such great blessings! Take care not to ascribe to yourselves the good things you have received from him, for if you do, you will lose what you have. You must be convinced that you possess nothing that you have not received. And if you have received it, do not boast as though you had not. If you keep to this rule the gifts you have received will be preserved among you, and anything you now lack will be granted to you in full.

An ancient sermon, Sermo 12 (PLS 4, 770-771), from Word in Season 1 23 rd December Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS BY ST JEROME There are two peoples who believe in the one God, those of Gentile origin and the Jews. To the Jews it was promised that a saviour would come, but to us who were outside Gods law no such promise was made. This means that mercy has been shown to the Gentiles, but God has kept faith with the Jews by sending them what he had promised. The promise made to the fathers has come to fulfilment in their sons. When the psalm says: Justice and peace have embraced it is telling us that mercy and truth have made friends, and that means that Gentiles and Jews are now united under a single shepherd, Christ. Truth has grown up from the earth. Jesus Christ said: I am the way, the truth, and the life. Truth incarnate has grown up from the earth, for Scripture says: There shall come forth a shoot from Jesses stock, and out of his root a flower shall blossom: and another text says: God has wrought salvation in the heart of the earth. These texts show us that the truth that has grown up from the earth is our Saviour, born of Mary. And justice looked down from heaven. That the Saviour should have mercy on his people was indeed an act of justice. See what the Scripture says: O how just are Gods judgments and how unsearchable his ways! On the one hand truth, that is, a saviour, has grown up from the earth, and on the other justice looks down from heaven in the person of that same Saviour who is himself justice. It is right and just for a potter to treat his works of art gently and for a shepherd to show compassion on his flock And so, because we are the Lords people and the work of his own hands, he grew up from the earth and looked down from heaven at one and the same time, in order to give full scope to his justice and show pity to his handiwork Finally, look at the words: The Lord will show his kindness, and you will hear a note of mercy, not of harshness, in the word justice, because the very reason for justice looking down from heaven was to show pity to his handiwork And our earth will yield its fruit. Truth has indeed grown up from the earth: that is a historical fact. But when the psalm goes on to speak of the earth yielding fruit, the verb is in the future tense. So do not be disheartened by the fact that Christs birth from Mary is an unrepeatable event of the past. He is also born in us every day. Our earth will yield its fruit; we too can give birth to Christ if we wish. Our earth will yield the fruit from which the bread of heaven is made, the bread of which Jesus said: I am the bread of heaven.

St Jerome, Tract. In ps. 84 (CCL 78, 107-108), from Word in Season 1 24 th December Year I

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON PSALM 118 BY ST AMBROSE The divine Word, coming and knocking at the door of our soul, challenges our indolence and rouses us from slumber. His desire is always to enter and make his home with us. It is our own fault, therefore, if he does not always do so, or if, having once entered, he does not always stay with us. Let your door stand open to receive him, unlock your soul to him, lay bare the hidden recesses of your mind. Show him the coffers of innocence, the treasure house of peace; let him see how beautiful his grace has made you. Throw wide the gate of your heart, run toward the sun whose unfailing light shines on every man. That true light shines for everyone, but those who close their windows deprive themselves of its eternal radiance. If you shut the door of your mind you shut out Christ. Though he has the power to enter, he does not care to burst in uninvited or to force himself upon us against our will. Born of a virgin, Christ came forth from the womb to shed his light over the whole world, so that everything might be illumined by his rays. His light is received by all who long to see the splendour of that everlasting glory which no darkness can ever dim. Here, the sun of our daily experience is succeeded by the darkness of night; but the sun of holiness knows no setting since wisdom can never give place to evil. Blessed is the soul at whose door Christ stands and knocks. Our door is faith; if faith is strong enough, the whole house is safe. That is the door by which Christ enters. Let us be alert, then, otherwise the Bridegroom may come and find himself shut out, and so take his departure. But if your heart is watchful, he will knock and ask you to open your door to him. Our soul has its door, our soul has its gates gates of which Scripture says: Swing back your gates, captains of the guard; swing back, everlasting gates! Let the King of glory enter! Heaven must surely lie within those souls whose gates are everlasting. If you will swing back the gates of your faith, the King of glory will enter your house in triumphal procession, bearing the insignia of his own passion. Holiness too has its gates. We find in Scripture those words that the Lord Jesus spoke through his prophet: Open for me the gates of holiness, and that other text: Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Zion, praise your God, for he has strengthened the bars of your gates. It is the soul, therefore, that has its door, its gates, and to this door and these gates Christ comes and knocks. Open up to him; his desire is to enter, to find his bride watching and waiting for his coming.

St Ambrose, Sermo 12, 13-15 (CSEL 62, 258-260), from Word in Season 1

Christmas Day Year I

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST LEO THE GREAT Rejoice, dearly beloved, for today our Saviour is born! There can be no place for sadness on the birthday of life itself. For this day has swallowed up all fear of death, and in its promise of eternity has replaced fear with joy. No one at all is excluded from today=s festive celebration, for there is a single great cause of joy which applies to everyone alike. For our Lord is the destroyer of sin and death; and since he found no one at all free from guilt, so he came in order to set all alike free. Let the Saint then be filled with joy, for he is hastening to receive his palm. Let the sinner rejoice, for he is invited to receive pardon. Let the gentile be filled with eager hope, for he is called to life. According to the inscrutable disposition of Divine Providence, so far beyond our capacity to fathom, when the fullness of time had come, the Son of God took upon himself the nature of the human race, in order to reconcile us with our Creator. He did this so that the devil, through whom death entered the world, might be conquered in the very nature which he himself had conquered. Thus the Word of God, the Son of God, who is himself God, in order to free mankind from eternal death, became a man. He bent down in order to take our lowliness upon himself, yet without in any way diminishing his own majesty. Remaining what he was he took upon himself what he was not. The divine and human natures came together in him in such a way that the lower would not be annihilated by the glory conferred upon it, nor the superior diminished by what it had assumed. If Christ were not true God, dearly beloved, he could never have conferred upon us the remedy we need. On the other hand, if he were not true man, he could have offered us no example for our imitation. It was in recognition of this that on the day of his birth the exulting Angels first of all sang Glory be to God on high; and then they announced: Peace on earth to men of good will. These Angels could see the heavenly Jerusalem being constructed out of every nation on earth. If they, from their lofty height, rejoice so much before this ineffable work of divine love, how much more ought we to be glad, we who contemplate it from the lowliness of our mortality? Dearly beloved, let us together give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit: for in his great mercy and love he has made us a new creation. Let us put aside the old man with his actions. Now that we have been made participants in the generation of Christ, let us renounce all works of the flesh. O Christian: recognise your dignity! You have been made a sharer in the divine nature! Do not then by an unworthy way of life return to your former wretchedness! You have been snatched from the power of darkness, and transferred into the light and the Kingdom of God. You have been made a temple of the Holy Spirit: do not by your behaviour drive him away again, and subject yourself once more to the tyranny of the devil! For Christ who has redeemed you in mercy will judge you in truth: he who reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
St Leo the Great, Sermon 21 (1 On the Nativity) tr. Pluscarden.

The Christmas Octave: The Holy Family Year I

A READING FROM A HOMILY BY ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM Strange and wonderful is the mystery I behold. In my ears rings the sound of shepherds, not piping a lonely melody but chanting a heavenly hymn. Angels carol, archangels celebrate with song and dance, the cherubim sing hymns, the seraphim give praise, all of them keeping festival as they contemplate God on earth and our nature in heaven. By divine decree he who dwells on high is now here below; by Gods love those who dwell below are raised on high. Bethlehem today is like heaven: instead of stars it has welcomed angels praising God. Everyone is leaping for joy, so I too want to leap for joy; I want to dance, I want to join the festival; but as I dance I do not pluck the lyre, nor carry pipes, nor kindle torches. Instead of musical instruments I bear Christs swaddling clothes, for they are my hope, my life, my salvation; they are my pipe and my lyre. Carrying them I come that endowed with eloquence by their virtue I may say with the angels, Glory to God in the highest; and with the shepherds, Peace on earth for men on whom his favour rests. Today he who was inexpressibly begotten by the Father is marvellously brought forth by a virgin for my sake. In his nature he was begotten by the Father before all ages in a manner known only to the One who engendered him; outside his nature he is today brought forth anew in a manner known only to the Holy Spirits grace. His birth on high was real; his birth here below is real. He was truly begotten as God from God and he is truly brought forth by the Virgin as man. In heaven he is the Fathers only Son, Unique from the Unique; on earth he is the Virgins only Son, unique from her who is also unique. I know a virgin bore a son today and I believe that God begot a son before time was, but the manner in which this happened I have learned to venerate in silence and I have been taught not inquisitively to inquire by busy reasoning. Where God is concerned we should not regard the order of nature, but believe in the power of the One at work therein.

St John Chrysostom, Oratio in natalem Christi diem (PG 56, 385-388), from Word in Season 1

Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas 30th December

A READING FROM THE TREATISE ON FIRST PRINCIPLES BY ORIGEN When we reflect upon statements in holy Scripture concerning the majesty of our Lord and Saviour and consider that he is called the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation, and that in him all things visible and invisible were created: thrones, dominations, principalities, and powers, all were created through him and for him; that before anything was created he already existed and he holds all things in unity when we reflect upon all this we cannot doubt that he is the one of whom Scripture says: I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that might be written about the glory and majesty of the Son of God. To put into writing everything that relates to our Saviours glory would be impossible. When we ponder these tremendous truths concerning the nature of the Son of God, we are struck with profound amazement at one who is thus exalted above all others, stripping himself of his majesty to become a man and live among men. But of all the great and wonderful things related of our Saviour, what completely overwhelms the human mind with wonder and is beyond understanding or conception by a weak mortal intelligence is that the mighty Power of the divine Majesty, the very word of the Father, the very Wisdom of God in whom everything visible and invisible was created, is believed to have been confined in a man who appeared in Judea; that the Wisdom of God entered the womb of a woman, was born a baby and cried like a baby; that he was troubled in the face of death, for he himself said: My heart is heavy, even to the point of death; and, finally, that he was brought to what was regarded as the most shameful of deaths, although he rose again on the third day. When we thus see in him some marks of human frailty that make him seem no different from any other man and others so divine as to befit none but the supreme and inexpressible nature of the Godhead, the feeble human intellect is dumbfounded; it does not know in its amazement what to hold on to or where to turn. If it thinks of God it sees a mortal man. If it takes Christ for a man, it sees this man destroying the sovereignty of death and returning from among the dead with spoils of victory. This mystery, then, should be contemplated with the most profound awe and reverence. Both natures have to be shown as really present in the one Christ. Nothing unworthy of it must be attributed to the impenetrable divine essence; nor on the other hand must the events of history be regarded as mere illusions. To make known these things to other people and to explain them in words is far beyond the power of our rank, our intellect, or our language. I think it was beyond the ability even of the holy Apostles. It may be that the entire creation of heavenly powers is unable to comprehend this mystery.

Origen, On First Principles, Lib. 2, cap. 6, 1-2 (PG 11, 200-211), from Word in Season 1

Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas: 31 st December

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST LEO THE GREAT The infancy which the Son of God did not think beneath his glory, grew over the years to mature manhood. When the triumph of his passion and resurrection was completed, all the actions of humility which were undertaken for us ceased. However, todays feast renews for us the holy infancy of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary. And as we adore the birth of our Saviour we find that we are celebrating our own beginnings. For the birth of Christ is the origin of the people of Christ, and the birthday of the head is the birthday of the body. It is true that each of those who are called is allotted a particular place, and that all the sons of the Church are separated from each other by intervals of time. However, just as all the faithful together, born of the waters of baptism, are crucified with Christ in his passion, raised with him in his resurrection, and given a place with him at the Fathers right hand in his ascension, so too, with him they are born in this his birth. Throughout the world, every one of the faithful is reborn in Christ, and leaving the path of his old origins passes by rebirth into a new man. No longer is he reckoned among his human fathers stock but among the seed of the Saviour, who became the Son of man in order that we might have the power to be the sons of God. If he had not come down to us by this humility, no one could have come to him by any merits of his own. Hence the very greatness of the gift conferred demands of us reverence worthy of its splendour. As the blessed Apostle teaches, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. He can in no other way be rightly worshipped, except by offering him what he himself bestowed on us. But, in the treasury of the Lords generosity what can we find more suitable to honour the present feast than the peace first proclaimed by the angels chorus at the Lords nativity? Peace it is that gives birth to the sons of God. Peace is the nurse of love, the mother of unity, the repose of the blessed, and our eternal home. The real work and special blessing of peace is to join to God those whom it sets apart from the world. Let those then who are born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God, offer to the Father the oneness of heart of peace-loving sons. Let all the members of adoption come together in the first-born of the new creation, who came to do not his own will but the will of him who sent him. The grace of the Father has not adopted as his heirs those who divided among themselves and at odds with each other, but those who are one in mind and heart. Remodelled according to the one image, they should have a spirit in conformity with it. The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace. As Apostle says, He is our peace, who made us both one. For, whether we be Jew or Gentile, through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
St Leo the Great, Sermon 6 On the Nativity, from The Divine Office Vol. I

Octave of Christmas: Mary, Mother of God A READING FROM A HOMILY BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA

Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole worlds reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy Gospels could say Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We salute you, for in your holy womb he, who is beyond all limitation, was confined. Because of you the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance. What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the Apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the holy Trinity. Who can put Marys high honour into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking his own servant to become his mother? Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Hom. 4 (PG 77, 991.995-996), from Word in Season 1

Before Epiphany: 2nd January

Memoria of SS Basil and Gregory Nazianzen : see Sanctoral for 2nd Nocturn Reading. Ferial Reading: A READING FROM THE TREATISE ON THE HOLY SPIRIT BY ST BASIL THE GREAT If a man no longer lives according to the flesh, but is led by the Spirit of God and is called son of God and is conformed to the image of God, he is described as a spiritual man. As the power of seeing is to be found in the healthy eye, so the working of the Spirit is to be found in the purified soul. The word is in the soul; sometimes as the thought of the heart, sometimes as spoken by the tongue. So too the Holy Spirit is in the soul: at one time he joins with our spirit in bearing witness and cries out in our hearts: Abba, Father; at another time he speaks on our behalf, as we are told: It is not you who will be speaking: it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking in you. Again, the Spirit is understood, in relation to the distribution of gifts, as a whole in its different parts. We are all joined to one another as different parts of one body, and have different gifts in accordance with the grace God has given us. Therefore, the eye cannot say to the hand: I do not need you, nor can the head say to the feet: I do not need you. On the contrary, all the members together make up the body of Christ in the unity of the Spirit, and mutually contribute the necessary service in accordance with the gifts received. God arranged the organs of the body, each one of them, as he chose; but these different parts have the same concern for one another in accordance with their sympathetic interaction, born of the spirit which they share. And so, if one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the other parts share its joy. As parts in the whole, so are we, individually, in the Spirit, because we were all baptized in one body into the one Spirit. Just as the Father is seen in the Son, so the Son is seen in the Holy Spirit. Worship in the Spirit suggests the activity of our intelligence, which is carried on, as it were, in the light, as may be learned from the words spoken to the woman of Samaria. She was misled by the custom of her country into the belief that God was worshipped in a place. Our Lord corrected her; he said that men must worship in Spirit and in truth, and by truth he clearly meant himself. We speak of worship in the Son, which is worship in the one who is the image of God the Father. Similarly we speak of worship in the Spirit, as the one who shows in himself the divinity of the Lord. So then, to express it properly and in order, through the illumination of the Spirit we behold the radiance of Gods glory, the Son; and through the Son, the stamp of Gods very being, we are brought to the one to whom belong the stamp and the identical seal.

St Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit 26, 61.64, from The Divine Office Vol. I

Before Epiphany: 3rd January

A READING FROM THE TREATISES ON ST JOHN BY ST AUGUSTINE The Lord himself comes, the teacher of love, full of love, shortening the word upon the earth, as was foretold of him. He shows that the law and the prophets depend on the two precepts of love. What those two commandments are, brethren, recall with me. They ought to be most familiar, and not come to mind just when they are mentioned by us; rather, they should never be blotted out from your hearts. Always, at all times, reflect that you must love God and your neighbour: God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; your neighbour as yourself. At all times these must be pondered, they must be meditated and retained, they must be practised and fulfilled. The love of God comes first in the order of command, but the love of neighbour first in the order of action. The man who would teach you this love in two commandments should not commend to you first your neighbour and then God, but first God and then your neighbour. You do not yet see God, but by loving your neighbour you gain the sight of God; by loving your neighbour you purify your eye for seeing God, as John says clearly: If you do not love the brother whom you see, how will you be able to love God whom you do not see? You are told: love God. If you say to me: Show me the one I am to love, what shall I answer, except what John himself says: No one has ever seen God? Do not think that you are altogether unsuited to seeing God no, for John states: God is love, and he who dwells in love is dwelling in God. Love your neighbour therefore, and observe the source of that love in you; there, as best you can, you will see God. So then, begin to love your neighbour. Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; if you see the naked, cover him, and do not despise the servants of your kinsfolk. If you do this, what will you obtain? Then shall your light break forth like the morning. Your light is your God to you he is morning light, because he will come to you after the night of the world; he neither rises nor sets, because he abides always. By loving your neighbour and being concerned about your neighbour, you make progress on your journey. Where is your journey, if not to the Lord God, to him whom we must love with all our heart, and with all soul, and with all our mind? We have not yet reached the Lord, but we have our neighbour with us. So then, support him with whom you are travelling so that you may come to him with whom you long to dwell.

St Augustine, In Ev Jo 17, 7-9 (PL 35), from The Divine Office Vol. I

Before Epiphany: 4th January


The Word of God, born once on the level of the flesh, is always born willingly for those who desire it on the level of the spirit, because of his love for men. He becomes an infant, forming himself in them by the virtues; he manifests himself in just the measure of which he knows the one who is receiving him is capable. It is not through any ill-will that he diminishes the manifestation of his own majesty; it is rather that he weighs the capacity of those who desire to see him. And so, though the Word of God is always manifested in the life of those who share in him, yet because the mystery is transcendent, he remains always invisible to all. Thus the holy Apostle, in wise consideration of the meaning of the mystery, says: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever he knows that the mystery is always new, that the mind in understanding it will never deprive it of its freshness. Christ God is born, made man by the assumption of flesh endowed with an intelligent soul, he who brought things from nothing into existence. A star from the east appears by day and guides the Magi to the place the Word has taken flesh. This conveys a hidden meaning: it shows that the word of the law and the prophets surpasses the experience of the senses, and guides the gentiles to the greatest light of knowledge. The word of the law and the prophets, like a star devoutly observed, is a clear guide to the knowledge of the incarnate Word for those who are called according to Gods purpose by the power of grace. God becomes perfect man, then, leaving aside no element of nature except sin, and this does not belong to nature. He offered his flesh as a bait, to provoke the insatiable dragon to devour the flesh which he was greedily pursuing. This flesh would be poison to the dragon, destroying him utterly by the power of the divinity in it. But it would be a medicine for human nature, restoring it to its original grace by the power of the divinity in it. By smearing the tree of knowledge with his poison of evil, the dragon destroyed man when he tasted it. But having chosen to devour the Lords flesh, he too was destroyed, by the power of the divinity in it. The great mystery of the divine incarnation always remains a mystery. In his essence the Word exists personally in the Father to the full: how is he in his person essentially in the flesh? How can the same person be God by nature and become fully man by nature, in no way deprived in either nature, neither in the divine nature by which he is God, nor in ours by which he became man? Only faith can grasp these mysteries, since it is the substance of things which are beyond intelligence and reason.

St Maximus the Confessor, Cent. 1, 8-13, from The Divine Office Vol. I Before Epiphany: 5th January

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST AUGUSTINE What man knows all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ and concealed in the poverty of his flesh? Though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich. When he made mortality his own and made away with death, he appeared in poverty; but he promised riches, riches that were only deferred he did not lose riches that were taken way from him. How great is the abundance of his goodness which he hides for those who fear him, which he perfects for those who hope in him! Our knowledge is partial until what is perfect comes. To make us fit to receive this perfection, he who is equal to the Father in the form of God and made like to us in the form of a slave, transforms us to the likeness of God. The only Son of God, made son of man, makes many sons of men sons of God. The slaves, sustained by the visible form of the slave, he frees and makes children so that they may see the form of God. We are Gods children; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. What are those measures of wisdom and knowledge, what are those divine riches, except what is sufficient for us? What is that abundance of goodness, except what fills us? Show us the Father, then, and it is sufficient for us. In one of the psalms someone says to him from among us or within us or for us: I shall be filled when your glory is manifested. He and the Father are one: whoever sees him sees the Father also. So then, he, the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory. He will bring us back, he will show us his face; and we shall be saved, we shall be filled, he will be sufficient for us. Until this happens, until he shows us what is sufficient for us, until we drink him as the fountain of life and are filled, until then we are exiles from him and walk by faith, until then we hunger and thirst for justice, and long with a passion beyond words for the beauty of the form of God; until then, let us celebrate his birth in the form of a slave with humble devotion. We are not yet able to contemplate the fact that he was begotten by the Father before the dawn, but let our minds dwell on the fact that he was born of the Virgin during the hours of night. We do not yet grasp that his name endures before the sun, but let us acknowledge his tent placed in the sun. Though we still do not behold the only Son abiding in his Father, let us remember the Bridegroom coming out from his bridal room. Though we are still unready for our Fathers banquet, let us acknowledge the manger of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St Augustine, Sermon 194, 3-4, from The Divine Office Vol. I Before Epiphany: 6th January

A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA The Word of God, born of the Virgin, was and is eternally King and Lord of all, but when he became man he made the limitations of humanity his own. For man he truly was; we must unhesitatingly believe that he became like us. Consequently, when it is said that all power has been given to him, this means that it has been given to him in the human nature he assumed, not in his divine pre-eminence in virtue of which he is the acknowledged Lord of all. Christ is named Jacob and Israel because by physical descent he was the blood relative of Jacob, who received the new name Israel. I will help him, God says, and calls him his chosen one. For the Father cooperated with the Son, performing the mighty works he did as works of his own power; and Christ is in truth the chosen one, since he is the fairest of the sons of men and accepted as Gods beloved. The Father rejoiced in him and declared: This is my beloved Son in whom 1 am well pleased. In his human nature Christ was anointed and can be said to share in the Holy Spirit, even though he is the giver of the Spirit and the sanctifier of all creation. This is shown clearly by the words, I have put my Spirit upon him. The Gospel says that when Jesus was baptized the Spirit, in the form of a dove, came to him from heaven and remained on him. This anointing was to enable him to bring justice to the nations, which he did by condemning Satan, their tyrant. Christ taught us this himself when he said: Now is the time for this world to be judged, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out. And 1, when I am lifted up form the earth, will draw all things to myself. He passed sentence of destruction on Satan who had held this world in thraldom, and by that righteous sentence saved those who had been deceived. But he will not shout, says Scripture, or raise his voice, or let it be heard in the street. The Saviour and Lord of all came to dwell among us in profound lowliness and humility, one might say without making a sound, and he did no harm to anyone. He came in silence and peace, so as not to crush the bruised reed or extinguish the smouldering wick. What will his work be, what will he do for the nations? He will bring judgement to the truth. By judgement the prophet seems to mean the law, for it is written about Israel and about God, the ruler of all: You have established judgment and justice in Jacob. So now he will bring judgement, or the law which was concerned with shadows and types, to the truth of the Gospel. Through the Gospel he has shown the way of life that is pleasing to him and has changed worship according to the letter of the law into worship in truth.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Lib. 3, t. 5 (PG 70, 850-851), from Word in Season 1 Before Epiphany: 7th January

A READING FROM THE SERMONS OF ST AUGUSTINE My dearest brethren, today our Lord Jesus Christ, who is for ever the creator of all things, has become saviour for us by being born of a mother. Today by his own free will he was born for us in time, that he might lead us to the eternity of the Father. God was made man that man might become God; that man might partake of the bread of angels, the Lord of angels was today made man. Today the prophecy has been fulfilled: Pour down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain justice: let the earth open, and let it bring forth a saviour. Therefore he who had made was himself made that he who had been lost might be found. This is what man confesses in the Psalms: Before I was brought low, I sinned. Man sinned, and was made the accused: God was born as man that the accused might be freed. Man therefore fell down but God came down. Man fell pitifully, God came down in pity: man fell through pride, God descended with grace. My brethren, see what miracles and wonders are here. The laws of nature are changed in a man; God is born, a virgin conceives without a man: the Word of God plays a husbands part to one who knows not a man: she becomes at the same time mother and virgin; made a mother and yet uncorrupted, a virgin having a son, and yet not knowing a man, ever sealed, and yet not barren. For he alone was born without sin whom she brought forth without a husbands embrace, not by the desire of the flesh, but by the obedience of the mind.

St Augustine, Sermon 13 On the Seasons, from The Divine Office Vol. I The Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE SERMONS OF ST LEO THE GREAT Gods providence of mercy, having determined to save in the last days the world which was perishing, fore-ordained the salvation of all nations in Christ. In this connection, countless descendants to be begotten not by fleshly seed but by fertile faith, were promised of old to the most blessed patriarch Abraham. This posterity was therefore compared to the stars in multitude so that the father of all nations might hope not for an earthly but for a heavenly succession. Let the whole pagan world enter into the family of the patriarchs, yes, let it enter, and let the children of the promise receive in Abrahams seed the blessing which his children according to the flesh rejected. In the three Magi let all the nations worship the Author of the universe; and let God be known, not in Judaea alone but throughout the whole world, so that everywhere his name may be great in Israel. Schooled, then, dearly-beloved, by these mysteries of divine grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first-fruits and the commencement of the nations, giving thanks to the merciful God for making us fit to share the light which saints inherit, for rescuing us from the powers of darkness, and transferring us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. For, as Isaiah prophesied the people of the nations that sat in darkness, have seen a great light and they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shone. Of these he also says to the Lord, nations which knew you not, shall call on you and peoples which were ignorant of you shall run to you. This is the day which Abraham saw and was glad, when he understood that the sons of his faith would be blessed in his seed which is Christ, and foresaw that by believing he should be the father of the nations, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. This is the day which David sang of in the psalms: All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name; and again, The Lord has made his salvation known; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. This indeed we know to be taking place ever since the three Magi were called from their far-off land and were led by the star to recognize and worship the king of heaven and earth. And surely their worship of him exhorts us to imitation; that, as far as we can, we should be at the service of this grace which invites all men to Christ. You ought to help one another, dearly-beloved, in this zeal, so that in the kingdom of God, which is reached by right faith and good works, you may shine as children of the light, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

St Leo the Great, Sermon 3, Epiphany, 1-3, 5, from The Divine Office Vol. I Monday after Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE SERMONS OF ST PETER CHRYSOLOGUS The distinguishing marks of the Godhead were always clearly present in the very mystery of the Lords incarnation. But todays feast especially shows and reveals that God came into a human body so that mortal man, who is continually in confusion and darkness, should not lose through ignorance what he merited to have and possess through grace alone. He who willed to be born for us, was unwilling that we should be ignorant of him. Hence, he chose this way of revelation so that the great mystery of love would not become the occasion of a great mistake. Today the Magus, the wise man, finds weeping in a crib him whom he sought for shining in the stars. Today the wise man reveres clearly revealed in swaddling clothes him whom he had long patiently awaited unseen in the heavens. Today the wise man ponders in profound amazement over what he sees there: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, and him whom the whole universe cannot contain, confined in a tiny body. And immediately on seeing, he professes with mystical gifts that he believes and does not argue: he acknowledges God with frankincense, the King with gold, with myrrh the mortal one destined to die. So it is that the Gentile, who was last, has become first: for then the belief of the nations began from the faith of Magi. Today Christ entered the riverbed of the Jordan, to wash away the worlds sin: John himself bears witness that he came for this: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Today the servant holds the Lord, man holds God, John holds Christ: holds him, as about to receive, not to grant forgiveness. Today as the prophet says: The Lords voice is on the waters. What voice? This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Today the Holy Spirit floats over the waters in the form of a dove, so that by this sign it might be known that the worlds universal shipwreck has ceased, as the dove had announced to Noah that the worlds flood had subsided. Nor does this dove carry a branch of the old olive, but it pours the whole richness of the olive on the head of the author of the new anointing, in order to fulfil what the prophet foretold: Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above other kings. Today Christ gives the beginnings of the signs from heaven, when he changes water into wine. But water was to be changed into the mystery of the blood, so that Christ, from the goblet of his Body, might give pure draughts to those who drink, to fulfil that saying of the prophet: My chalice which inebriates me, how good it is.

St Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 160, from The Divine Office Vol. I Tuesday after Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY THEOPHANY, ATTRIBUTED TO ST HIPPOLYTUS Jesus came to John, and received baptism at his hands. Could anything be more wonderful? The boundless river that gladdens the City of God is washed by a few drops of water. The source without limits that engenders life for all mankind and is beyond all understanding is covered by the poor waters of this world. He who is present everywhere and is absent nowhere, incomprehensible to the angels and withdrawn from the gaze of man, has come to baptism as was his good pleasure, And behold the heavens were opened to him, and a voice was heard saying: This is my beloved Son with whom am well pleased. One who is loved generates love, and an immaterial light generates light inaccessible. This is he who is called the son of Joseph, and he is my only-begotten according to the divine essence. This is my beloved Son. Hungry is he who nourished unnumbered thousands, toiling is he who refreshes the toilers; he has nowhere to lay his head but controls all things by his hand; he suffers and yet heals all suffering; he is buffeted by blows and presents the world with freedom; he is pierced in his side and restores the side of Adam. But attend carefully to me, I pray, for I wish to return to the fountain of life, and contemplate the fountain which gushes forth and brings its remedies. The Father of immortality sent his immortal Son and Word into the world. He came to men to wash them with the Spirit. To regenerate us to incorruptibility, of mind and body, he breathed into us the spirit of life, and clothed us with the armour of incorruptibility. If then a man has been made immortal, he will also be divine. If indeed he becomes divine by water and by the Holy Spirit by regeneration from the font, he is also found to be joint heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Therefore I proclaim with the voice of the herald: Come, all ye tribes of the nations, to the immortality of baptism. For this is the water combined with the Spirit water by which Paradise is watered, the earth is enriched, the plants receive increase of growth, the animals bring forth young, and, to put it comprehensively, water through which man is reborn and made alive, in which Christ was baptized; into which the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. For he who descends with faith into this laver of regeneration renounces the devil and commits himself to Christ; he denies the enemy and confesses Christ to be God; he lays aside slavery, he puts on adoption; he returns from his baptism gleaming like the sun, pouring out rays of righteousness, and, what is the most important point, he is returning as a son of God and a joint heir with Christ. To him be glory and power with his sacred, good and quickening Spirit, both now and always and to all ages of eternity. Amen.

St Hippolytus attr., On the Holy Theophany 2. 6-8, 10, from The Divine Office Vol. I Wednesday of Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE ORATIONS OF ST PROCLUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE Christ appeared to the world, and putting order into the disordered world he made it resplendent. He took upon himself the sin of the world and cast down the enemy of the world. He sanctified the founts of water, and enlightened the souls of men. He surrounded miracles with still greater miracles. For today both earth and sea have shared between them the grace of the Saviour, and over the whole world joy is spread, and todays feast manifests a greater increase of miracles than the festival we held before. For in the former festival day of the Saviours nativity the earth was joining in the gladness, because she carried the Lord in a crib; but on this present day of the Epiphany the sea leaped with the highest joy and danced with delight delighting indeed that it had received the blessing of sanctification in the midst of Jordan. In the former celebration an imperfect infant was exhibited witnessing to our imperfection, but on the present festival day a full-grown man is to be seen, in obscure fashion pointing to him who being perfect proceeds from the perfect God. There the King puts on the purple robe of a body; here the fount forms round him a river as if to clothe him. Come then and see new and overwhelming miracles: the sun of righteousness bathing in Jordan, the fire immersed in water and God being sanctified by human ministry. Today all creation resounding with hymns cries: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is he who comes at all times: for this is not the first time that he has come. And now who is this? Speak more clearly, I pray, blessed David. God is the Lord, and he has given us light. Nor does David alone as prophet speak thus, but in fact Paul the Apostle, agreeing with him in his own testimony, says the following words: There has appeared the grace of God, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us. Not to some men, but to all to all, that is, both Jews and Greeks equally, he pours out salvation through baptism, offering to all men a common blessing in baptism. Come, see the strange and new flood, greater and more excellent than that in the days of Noah. There the water of the flood destroyed the human race; but here the water of the baptism, by the power of him who is baptized in it, has called back the dead to life. There the dove carrying the olive branch in its beak denotes the fragrance of the sweet-smelling savour of the Lord Christ, but here the Holy Spirit coming in the form of a dove reveals to us our merciful God.

St Proclus of Constantinople, Or. 7, Theophany, from The Divine Office Vol. I Thursday of Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE COMMENTARY ON ST JOHNS GOSPEL BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA When the Maker of the universe designed, in a beautiful arrangement, to gather up all things in Christ and to restore again the nature of man to its pristine state, he promised along with the other gifts to give it also the Holy Spirit abundantly, because in no other way could it be reinstated in a peaceful and stable possession of good things. He therefore defines the time when the Spirit will descend on us, that is the coming of Christ, and promises saying: In those days (that is, of the Saviour), I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. When the time of this munificence brought the Only-begotten upon earth with flesh that is, made man of a woman according to the holy Scripture the God and Father began to give the Spirit again, and Christ received the Spirit first as First-fruits of the renewed nature. John bore witness to this, saying: I saw the Spirit descend from heaven, and it remained on him. Christ is said to have received the Spirit, because he became man, and it was fitting for man to receive. Although he is the Son of the God and Father, and begotten of his substance even before the incarnation or rather, before all ages he does not take it amiss to hear the God and Father address him after he became man: You are my Son; today I have begotten you. For he says that he has today begotten him, who before all ages was God begotten of him, so that in him he may receive us into sonship; for the whole human nature is found in Christ, because he is man. Since the Father has his own Spirit, he is said to give it again to the Son, so that in him we may gain the Spirit. For this reason therefore taking the seed of Abraham, as it is written, he was made like to his brethren in every respect. The Only-begotten therefore receives the Holy Spirit not for himself; for the Spirit is his, and is given in him and through him, as we said before; but because he was man he had the whole nature in himself, that he might renew it all and restore its integrity. Besides what has been said, we must consider this too. For we shall see, if we use right reasoning and the testimonies of Scripture, that Christ did not receive the Spirit for himself, but rather for us in himself: for all good things flow through him also into us.

St Cyril of Alexandria, Com. In Jo. 5, 2 (PG 74), from The Divine Office Vol. I Friday of Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM THE SERMONS OF ST MAXIMUS OF TURIN In the Gospels, Scripture reports that the Lord made his way to the Jordan to be baptized, and that he wished himself to be consecrated with heavenly mysteries in the same river. Reason demands that after the birthday of the Lord, at the same period of the year, even though a space of years intervened, this festival should follow, which I think ought also to be called a festival of birth. Then he was born to men, today he is reborn in the sacraments; then he was born of a virgin, today he is generated through a mystery. Then when he is born in human fashion, his mother Mary fondles him in her bosom; now when he is generated according to a mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice; for he says: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; hear him. The mother therefore cherishes her offspring in her soft lap, the Father attends on the Son with affectionate witness. The mother, I say, presents him to the Magi for adoration; the Father manifests him to the nations for worship. Therefore the Lord Jesus came to baptism, and willed to have his body washed with water. Perhaps some one will say: He who is holy, why did he wish to be baptized? Pay attention therefore! Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams which he touches. For the consecration of Christ is the greater consecration of another element. For when the Saviour is washed, then already for our baptism all water is cleansed and the fount purified, that the grace of the laver may be administered to the peoples that come after. Christ therefore takes the lead in baptism, so that Christian peoples may follow after him with confidence. I understand the mystery: for the column of fire went first through the Red Sea, that the children of Israel might tread the hazardous journey without fear; and it, itself, went first through the waters, so that for those coming after it, it might prepare a way to pass. Which event, as the Apostle says, was a symbol of baptism. Clearly baptism in some sort of way has been carried out when the cloud overshadowed the men, and the wave bore them. But the one who performed all these things was still the same Lord Christ, who as he then went before the children of Israel in a pillar of fire, now by baptism goes before Christian peoples in the pillar of his body. This is the very pillar I maintain which then supplied light to the eyes of those who followed, and who now furnishes light to the hearts of believers; who then in the waves of the sea made firm the pathway, and now in the laver strengthens the footprints of faith.

St Maximus of Turin, Sermon 100, Epiphany, from The Divine Office Vol. I Saturday of Epiphany Year 1

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST LEO THE GREAT Calling to mind all that has been accomplished by the Saviour of the human race will be of great profit to us, beloved, if we set ourselves to imitate what we believe and venerate. Even his first moments when the Son of God was born from his virgin mother can further our devotion. For the upright of heart behold in one and the same person both human lowliness and divine majesty. He who is seen in the cradle as a newborn child is proclaimed by heaven and the heavenly hosts as their creator. This child with its tiny body is the lord and ruler of the world. His mother holds in her bosom him whom no limits can contain. But therein lies the healing of our wounds and the reversal of our abasement, for without the union of such diversity humankind could never have been reconciled to God. It is not without reason that when the brilliance of a new star led the three Magi to worship Jesus they did not see him commanding demons, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk or the dumb to speak, or performing any other act pertaining to divine power. Instead, they saw a child silently resting under his mothers watchful care a child who showed no sign of power, but only the great marvel of humility. So it was that the sight of this holy babe to whom the divine Son of God was united presented our eyes with a teaching that was not yet proclaimed in our ears. For the whole victory of the Saviour by which he overcame the devil and the world was begun in humility and consummated in humility. He began his allotted days under persecution and he ended them under persecution. The child was not without suffering, nor was he who was destined to suffer without the submissiveness of childhood. For by a unique abasement of his majesty the only Son of God freely undertook to be born as a human being and to be put to death by human beings. If then almighty God has changed our wretched condition into a happy one by the singular grace of his humility, and if he has destroyed death and the author of death by not refusing any of the sufferings inflicted on him by his persecutors but calmly enduring in obedience to the Father the cruelties of those who raged against him, how humble and patient should we not be who never suffer any misfortune without deserving it? Thus the whole practice of Christian wisdom, beloved, consists not in many words, nor in skilful argument, nor in a desire for praise and glory, but in the genuine and voluntary humility which, in preference to any kind of power, our Lord Jesus Christ chose and taught from his mothers womb to his death upon the cross.

St Leo the Great, In Epiphania Solemnitate sermo VII, 1-3 (SC 22, 276-280), from Word in Season 2 The Baptism of the Lord Year 1

A READING FROM THE ORATIONS OF ST GREGORY NAZIANZEN Christ is illumined, let us shine forth with him; Christ is baptized, let us descend with him, that we may also ascend with him. John baptizes, Jesus comes to him; perhaps to sanctify the Baptist himself, but certainly to bury the whole of the old Adam in the water; and before this and for the sake of this, to sanctify Jordan. As he is Spirit and flesh, so he consecrates us by Spirit and water. John will not receive him: Jesus contends. I have need to be baptized by you, says the lamp to the Sun, the voice to the Word, the friend to the Bridegroom; he that is above all those who are born of women to him who is the First-born of every creature; he that leaped in the womb to him who was adored in the womb; he who was and is the Forerunner to him who was and is to be manifested. I have need to be baptized by you; add to this and for you; for he that he would be baptized by martyrdom, or, like Peter, that he would be cleansed not only as to his feet. But further Jesus goes up out of the water; for with himself he carries up the world and sees the heaven split open which Adam had shut against himself and all his posterity, as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword. And the Spirit bears witness to his Godhead, for he descends upon One that is like him, as does the Voice from heaven (for he to whom witness is borne comes from thence) and like a dove seen in bodily form it bestows honour on his body, since this is also God by being deified. And moreover, the dove has from distant ages been wont to proclaim the end of the Deluge. Let us however today venerate the Baptism of Christ, and let us celebrate the feast honourably. Wash yourselves and keep yourselves clean. God rejoices in nothing so much as in the amendment and salvation of men, on whose behalf is every word and all the sacraments. Be cleansed so that you may be like lights in the world, a life-giving force to all other men, and stand as perfect lights beside that great Light, and learn the mystery of the illumination of heaven, enlightened by the Trinity more purely and clearly, of which even now you are receiving in a measure the One Ray from the one Godhead in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

St Gregory Nazianzen, Or 39, 14-16. 20, from The Divine Office Vol. I


Table of Contents Advent & Christmastide Year One
Advent 1 Sunday Advent 1 Monday Advent 1 Tuesday Advent 1 Wednesday Advent 1 Thursday Advent 1 Friday Advent 1 Saturday Advent 2 Sunday Advent 2 Monday Advent 2 Tuesday Advent 2 Wednesday Advent 2 Thursday Advent 2 Friday Advent 2 Saturday Advent 3 Sunday Advent 3 Monday Advent 3 Tuesday Advent 3 Wednesday Advent 3 Thursday Advent 3 Friday December 17 December 18 December 19 December 20 December 21 December 22 December 23 December 24 Is. 6:1-3 Is. 7:1-17 Is. 8:1-18 Is. 9:1-6 Is. 10:5-22 Is. 11:10-16 Is. 13:1-22 Is. 14:1-21 Is. 34:1-17 Is. 34:1-10 Ruth 1:1-22 Ruth 2:1-13 Ruth 2:14-23 Ruth 3:1-18 Ruth 4:1-22 1 Chr. 17:1-15 Mic. 4:1-7 Mic. 5:1-7 Mic. 7:7-13 Mic. 7:14-20 Is. 40:1-11 Is.40:12-18,21-31 Is. 41:21-29 Is. 41:21-29 Is. 42:10-25 Is. 43:1-13 Is. 43:18-28 Is. 44:1-8, 21-23 St Aelred: Sermon 1 de adventu Domini (PL 195, 209-210) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. tr. Norman Russell (2000) St Bernard: Sermon 7 de adventu Domini (PL 183, 54-56) St Odilo of Cluny: Sermon 10 (PL 142, 1019-1020) Peter of Blois: Sermon 3 de adventu Domini (PL 207, 569-572) Bd Guerric: Sermon 3 de adventu Domini (PL 185, 18-20) Bd Guerric: Ser. 3 in nat. S. Jn. Baptistae (PL 185, 169-170) St Ambrose: Sermon 19, 30-32 (CSEL 63, 437-439) St Bernard: Ser. 1 in adventu Domini 9-10 (O.O. 4:167-169) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. Lib. 3, t. 3 (PG 70, 749-754) Ab. Godfrey of Admont: Hom. Fest. (PL 174, 1026-1028) St Augustine: In Ps. 109, 1-3 (CCL 40, 1601-1603) St Irenaeus: A. H. 5.19.1; 21.1 (SC 153, 248-250.260-264) St Augustine: Sermon 277, 15-16 (PL 38, 1266-1267) St Ambrose: In S. Luc. III, 31-35 (SC 45, 123-124) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Mic. Cap. 7, 72 (PG 71, 774-775) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. Lib. 1, Oratio 2 (PG 70, 67-74) St Hilary of Poitiers: In Trin. Lib. 11, 36-40 (PL 10, 423-425) St Augustine: De cat. rud. 4,8,8 (CCL 46, 128-129) St Athanasius: de Incarn. 7-9 (Ox. Early Chr. Texts, 151-154) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. 3, 4 (PG 70, 802-803) St Leo the Great: Ep. 31, 2-3 St Maximus of Turin: Sermon 61a, 1-3 (CCL 23, 250-251) St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. Lib. 4, oratio 4 (PG 70, 1035-1038) St Odilo of Cluny: Sermon 1 in nat. Domini (PL 142, 993-994) An Ancient Discourse: Sermon 12 (PLS 4, 770-771) St Jerome: Tract. In ps. 84 (CCL 78, 107-108) St Ambrose: Sermo 12 In ps. 118 13-15 (CSEL 62, 258-260) W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 2 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 2 W.S. 2 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 2 W.S. 1 W.S. 2 D.O. I W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1 W.S. 1

Christmas Day Holy Family December 26 December 27 December 28 December 29 December 30 December 31 Mary, Mother of God January 2 January 3 January 4 January 5 January 6 January 7 The Epiphany Mon. after Epiphany Tues. after Epiphany Wed. after Epiphany Thurs. after Epiph. Fri. after Epiphany Sat. after Epiphany Baptism of the Lord

Is. 11:1-10 Eph. 5:21-6:4

St Leo the Great: Sermon 21 St John Chrysostom: Oratio in nat. Christi diem (PG 56, 385-388) St Stephen: From the Sanctoral St John: From the Sanctoral Holy Innocents: From the Sanctoral W.S. 1

(Col. 1:1-14) Col. 1:15-2:3 Col. 2:4-15 Heb. 2:9-18 Col. 2:16-3:4 Col. 3:5-7 Col. 3:18-4:1 Col. 4:2-18 Is. 42:1-8 Is. 61:1-11 Is. 60:1-22 Is. 61:1-11 Is. 62:1-12 Is. 63:7-19 Is. 64:1-12 Is. 65:13-25 Is.66:10-14,18-23 Is. 42:1-9; 49:1-9

St Thomas Becket: From the Sanctoral Origen: On First Principles Lib. 2, cap. 6, 1-2 (PG 11, 200-211) St Leo the Great: Sermon 6 In nativitate Domini St Cyril of Alexandria: Hom. 4 (PG 77, 991.995-996) St Basil the Great: de Spiritu Sancto 26, 61, 64 St Augustine: Tr. In Ev. Jo. 17, 7-9 St Maximus the Confessor: >Century= 1, 8-13 St Augustine: Sermon 194, 3-4 St Cyril of Alexandria: In Is. Lib. 3, t. 5 (PG 70, 850-851) St Augustine: Sermon 13 On the seasons St Leo the Great: Sermon 3 in Epiphania 1-3, 5 St Peter Chrysologus: Sermon 160 St Hippolytus (attrib.): Disc. On the Holy Theophany 2. 6-8. 10 St Proclus of Constantinople: Oratio 7, Theophany St Cyril of Alexandria: in Ev. Jo. 5, 2 St Maximus of Turin: Sermon 100, Epiphany St Leo: Sermo VII In Epiphania Solemn. 1-3 (SC 22, 276-280) St Gregory Nazianzen: Oratio 39, 14-16.20 W.S. 1 D.O. I W.S. 1 D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I W.S. 1 D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I D.O. I W.S. 2 D.O. I

Advent & Christmastide Year One : End.