Evening Prayer – Septuagesima 2018

At the beginning of Evening Prayer the Minister shall read with a loud voice some one or more of these Sentences of the Scriptures that follow unless proper Sentences are provided. And then he shall say that which is written after the said Sentences. 

KNOW ye not, that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the price? So run that ye may obtain. 1 Cor. xi.

Then the Minister shall kneel, and say the Dual Prayer with an audible voice; the people also kneeling, and repeating it with him.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners; Now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Then likewise he shall say,

Priest. O God, make speed to save us.
Answer. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Here, all standing up, the Priest shall say,
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
Answer.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Priest.Praise ye the Lord.
Answer.The Lord’s Name be praised.

Then shall be said or sung the Psalms in order as they be appointed. Then a Lesson of the Old Testament, as is appointed. And after that Magnificat (or the Song of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in English, as followeth.

Antiphon. For his mercy.

Psalm 135

Alleluia

O give thanks unto the God of all gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O thank the Lord of all lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who only doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who by his excellent wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who laid out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who hath made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever;

The sun to rule the day: for his mercy endureth for ever;

The moon and the stars to govern the night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who smote Egypt with their first-born: for his mercy endureth for ever;

And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever;

With a mighty hand, and stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who divided the Red sea in two parts: for his mercy endureth for ever;

And made Israel to go through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever.

But as for Pharaoh and his host, he overthrew them in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever;

Yea, and slew mighty kings: for his mercy endureth for ever;

Sehon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever;

And Og the king of Basan: for his mercy endureth for ever;

And gave away their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever;

Even for an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who remembered us when we were in trouble: for his mercy endureth for ever;

And hath delivered us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Antiphon. For his mercy * endureth for ever.

Antiphon. Sing us.

Psalm 136

For David. A psalm of Jeremias

BY THE waters of Babylon we sat down and wept: when we remembered thee, O Sion.

As for our harps, we hanged them up: upon the trees that are therein.

For they that led us away captive required of us then a song, and melody in our heaviness: Sing us one of the songs of Sion.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song: in a strange land?

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem: let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth: yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth.

Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem: how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground.

O daughter of Babylon , wasted with misery: yea, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us.

Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children: and throweth them against the stones.

Antiphon. Sing us one of the songs of Sion.

Antiphon. In the presence.

Psalm 137

A psalm of David, of Aggæus and Zacharias

I WILL give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: even before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, because of thy loving-kindness and truth: for thou hast magnified thy Name and thy word above all things.

When I called upon thee, thou heardest me: and enduedst my soul with much strength.

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord: for they have heard the words of thy mouth.

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: that great is the glory of the Lord.

For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: as for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me: thou shalt stretch forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

The lord shall make good his loving-kindness toward me: yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands.

Antiphon. In the presence * of the angels will I sing praise to thee, my God.

From the Book of Genesis.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

R. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them: and on the seventh day God ended his work which He had made, * and He rested from all His work which he had made. V. And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. R. And He rested from all His work. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them: and on the seventh day God ended his work which He had made, and He rested from all His work which he had made.

Antiphon on Magnificat.  The householder saith.

MAGNIFICAT

Luke 1

MY soul doth magnify the Lord :
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded :
the lowliness of his hand-maiden.

For behold, from henceforth :
all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath magnified me :
and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him :
throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm :
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat :
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things :
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel :
as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

Antiphon .  The householder saith unto the labourers, Why stand ye here all the day idle?  They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.  Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark.

10 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.

And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

R. Thanks be to God.

Antiphon. Save us waking.

NUNC DIMITTIS

Luke 2.29

LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace :
according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen :
thy salvation;

Which thou hast prepared :
before the face of all people;

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles :
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

Antiphon. Save us waking, O Lord; and guard us sleeping, that awake we may be with Christ, and may sleep in peace.

Minister. The Lord be with you.
Answer. And with thy spirit.
Minister. Let us pray.

Then shall follow three Collects: The first of the day: The second for Peace: The third for Aid against all Perils, as hereafter followeth: which two last Collects shall be daily said at Evening Prayer without alteration.

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people: that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name.  Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R.  Amen.

Commemoration of the following day (St. Francis de Sales, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor).

Antiphon. O Doctor right excellent, O light of Holy Church, O blessed Francis, lover of the divine law, entreat for us the Son of God.

V.  The Lord loved him, and adorned him.
R.  He clothed him with a robe of glory.

Let us pray.
O God, who for the salvation of souls didst cause thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Francis to become all things to all men: pour into our hearts, we pray thee, the sweetness of thy charity; that by the direction of his counsels and the succour of his merits we may attain to the joys of life everlasting.

Commemoration of St. Peter Nolasco, Confessor.

Antiphon. Lo, a servant of God, who esteemed as naught all things earthly, and by word and work laid him up treasures in heaven.

V.  The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R.  And shewed him the kingdom of God.

Let us pray.
O God, who for an ensample of thy charity didst thyself teach blessed Peter  to enrich thy Church with a new offspring, to redeem the faithful from captivity: grant, we pray thee; that by his intercession, we, being delivered from the bondage of our sins, may rejoice in the freedom of our heavenly country.  Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R.  Amen.

 

PriestThe Lord be with you.
Answer. And with thy spirit.
Priest.  Bless we the Lord.
Answer.  Thanks be to God.

Priest.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Answer.  Amen.

Priest. May help divine be with us all, for ever abiding.
Answer.  Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

Here endeth the Order of Evening Prayer throughout the Year.

Morning Prayer – Septuagesima 2018

An introduction to

CHOIR WORSHIP

by
 John David Chambers

At the beginning of Morning Prayer the Minister shall read with a loud voice some one or more of these Sentences of the Scriptures that follow unless proper Sentences are provided. And then he shall say that which is written after the said Sentences. 

TO the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he set before us. Daniel ix. 9, 10.

Then the Minister shall kneel, and say the Dual Prayer with an audible voice; the people also kneeling, and repeating it with him.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

HAIL, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners; Now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Then likewise he shall say,

Priest.O Lord, open thou our lips.
Answer.And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
Priest.O God, make speed to save us.
Answer.O Lord, make haste to help us.

Here, all standing up, the Priest shall say,
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
Answer.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Priest. Praise be to thee, O Lord.
Answer. King of eternal glory.

Then shall be said or sung the Venite Psalm and the Invitatory following: Except on Easter Day, upon which another Anthem is appointed: and on the nineteenth day of every month it is not to be read here, but in the ordinary course of the Psalms.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Psalm 95.
Veníte, exsultémus Dómino

O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God; and a great King above all gods:  for the Lord will not cast off his people:  in his hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.

Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

The sea is his and he made it; and his hands prepared the dry land.  (All genuflect) O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker: for he is the Lord our God; and we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works.

Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways:  unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving: * Let us shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.

Then shall follow the Psalms in order as they be appointed. And at the end of every Psalm throughout the year, and likewise in the end of Benedicite, Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc dimittis, shall be repeated, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; Answer.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Antiphon. The Lord hath chosen Sion.

Psalm 131

A song of ascents

LORD, remember David: and all his trouble;

How he sware unto the Lord: and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob;

I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house: nor climb up into my bed;

I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor mine eye-lids to slumber: neither the temples of my head to take any rest;

Until I find out a place for the temple of the Lord: an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

Lo, we heard of the same at Ephrata: and found it in the wood.

We will go into his tabernacle: and fall low on our knees before his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into thy resting-place: thou, and the ark of thy strength.

Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness: and let thy saints sing with joyfulness.

For thy servant David’s sake: turn not away the presence of thine Anointed.

The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David: and he shall not shrink from it;

Of the fruit of thy body: shall I set upon thy seat.

If thy children will keep my covenant, and my testimonies that I shall learn them: their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore.

For the Lord hath chosen Sion to be an habitation for himself: he hath longed for her.

This shall be my rest for ever: here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.

I will bless her victuals with increase: and will satisfy her poor with bread.

I will deck her priests with health: and her saints shall rejoice and sing.

There shall I make the horn of David to flourish: I have ordained a lantern for mine Anointed.

As for his enemies, I shall clothe them with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

Antiphon. The Lord hath chosen Sion * to be an habitation for himself.

Antiphon. Behold.

Psalm 132

A song of ascents

BEHOLD, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard: even unto Aaron’s beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing.

Like as the dew of Hermon: which fell upon the hill of Sion.

For there the Lord promised his blessing: and life for evermore.

Antiphon. Behold, how good and * joyful a thing it is.

Antiphon. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 133

A song of ascents

BEHOLD now, praise the Lord: all ye servants of the Lord;

Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord: even in the courts of the house of our God.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary: and praise the Lord.

The Lord that made heaven and earth: give thee blessing out of Sion.

Antiphon. Praise the Lord, * all ye his servants.

Antiphon. Whatsoever.

Psalm 134

Alleluia

O PRAISE the Lord, laud ye the Name of the Lord: praise it, O ye servants of the Lord;

Ye that stand in the house of the Lord: in the courts of the house of our God.

O praise the Lord, for the Lord is gracious: O sing praises unto his Name, for it is lovely.

For why? the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself: and Israel for his own possession.

For I know that the Lord is great: and that our Lord is above all gods.

Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth: and in the sea, and in all deep places.

He bringeth forth the clouds from the ends of the world: and sendeth forth lightnings with the rain, bringing the winds out of his treasures.

He smote the first-born of Egypt: both of man and beast.

He hath sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O thou land of Egypt: upon Pharaoh, and all his servants.

He smote divers nations: and slew mighty kings;

Sehon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Basan: and all the kingdoms of Canaan;

And gave their land to be an heritage: even an heritage unto Israel his people.

Thy Name, O Lord, endureth for ever: so doth thy memorial, O Lord, from one generation to another.

For the Lord will avenge his people: and be gracious unto his servants.

As for the images of the heathen, they are but silver and gold: the work of men’s hands.

They have mouths, and speak not: eyes have they, but they see not.

They have ears, and yet they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths.

They that make them are like unto them: and so are all they that put their trust in them.

Praise the Lord, ye house of Israel: praise the Lord, ye house of Aaron.

Praise the Lord, ye house of Levi: ye that fear the Lord, praise the Lord.

Praised be the Lord out of Sion: who dwelleth at Jerusalem.

Antiphon. Whatsoever * the Lord pleased, that did he.

Then shall be read distinctly with an audible voice the First Lesson, taken out of the Old Testament.

Here beginneth the Book of Genesis.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.

R.  The Lord God formed man of the dust of the earth; * And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the Breath of Life, and he became man, even a living soul.
V.  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; and therein formed he man.
R.  And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the Breath of Life, and he became man, even a living soul.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  And the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the Breath of Life, and he became man, even a living soul.

Priest. The Lord is high above all people.
Answer. And his glory above the heavens.

Antiphon.    O praise ye.

Psalm 148

Alleluia. A psalm of Aggæus and Zacharias

O PRAISE the Lord of heaven: praise him in the height.

Praise him, all ye angels of his: praise him, all his host.

Praise him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.

Praise him, all ye heavens: and ye waters that are above the heavens.

Let them praise the Name of the Lord: for he spake the word, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created.

He hath made them fast for ever and ever: he hath given them a law which shall not be broken.

Praise the Lord upon earth: ye dragons, and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and vapours: wind and storm, fulfilling his word;

Mountains and all hills: fruitful trees and all cedars;

Beasts and all cattle: worms and feathered fowls;

Kings of the earth and all people: princes and all judges of the world;

Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the Name of the Lord: for his Name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth.

He shalt exalt the horn of his people; all his saints shall praise him: even the children of Israel, even the people the serveth him.

Antiphon.    O praise ye the Lord from the heavens.

The Lesson is taken from The Handbook, by St. Augustine the Bishop.

The Lord had foretold that if man should sin, he would bring upon himself the penalty of death.  Thus it was that, albeit God endowed man with free-will, he asserted his dominion over him by urging on him the danger of self-destruction through sin.  And so God placed him in that happy Garden (as it were, in a sheltered nook of life), whence he might have attained unto an even better life, if he had remained righteous.  But this first man sinned, and was therefore driven out of his paradise.  And by his sin, he infected all his offspring with the disease of sin, since he himself (their source), was poisoned therewith; whereby he brought upon all mankind the very sentence of death and damnation which he had earned for himself.  So it is that all who descend by fleshly generation from Adam and his wife Eve (which latter had urged him to sin, and therefore shared in the sentence passed upon him), inherit original sin; whereby we are drawn on, through divers errors and sorrows, toward the final ruin that fallen man doth share with the fallen angels, which same are our corrupters, masters, and partakers in this doom.

By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.  In this sentence, by the word World the Apostle signifieth all mankind.  Thus then did the matter stand―All of doomed humanity lay in misery, (or rather was blundering on, and plunging from bad to worse), together with that part of the Angels which had sinned, until both together should suffer the condign punishment of their vile treason.

For whatever, through blind and unbridled concupiscence, is willingly done by wicked men, and whatever such men suffer unwillingly in the way of secret or manifest pains, must evidently appertain to the wrath of God.  And yet the goodness of the Creator did not cease to minister even to the evil angels both life and strength, for if this ministration were withdrawn they would cease to be, and in the case of mankind, although each of us is sprung from a corrupt and doomed stock, God doth not cease to give form and life to our offspring; and he continueth to fashion each one’s parts and members throughout the various periods of life, and that in all the various races of the earth; yea, he doth ever quicken our senses, and provide us with sustenance.  For he judged it better to bring good out of evil things than to allow no evil things to exist.

V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.

R.  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he took one of his ribs: * Whereof he built another being, whom he brought unto the man to see what he would call her: * And he called her name Woman, because she was taken out of man.
V.  And while he slept he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
R.  Whereof he built another being, whom he brought unto the man to see what he would call her.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  And he called her name Woman, because she was taken out of man.

Antiphon.  The kingdom of heaven.

Benedictus

BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel : for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us : in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophets : which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies : and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers : and to remember his holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham : that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies : might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him : all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people : for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

Antiphon.  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder: which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard, saith the Lord.

The Lesson is taken from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

At that time: Jesus spake this parable unto his disciples: The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.  And so on, and that which followeth.

A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope.

We hear that the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning, to hire labourers into his vineyard.  Who indeed is more justly to be likened to an householder than our Maker, who is the head of the household of faith, bearing rule over them whom he hath made, and being Master of his chosen ones in the world, as a Master over those that are in his house?  He it is that hath the Church for a vineyard, a vineyard that ceaseth not to bring forth branches of the True Vine, from righteous Abel to the last of the elect that shall be born into the world.

This householder, then, for the cultivation of his vineyard, goeth out early in the morning, and at the third hour, and the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour, to hire labourers into his vineyard.  Thus the Lord, from the beginning to the end of the world, ceaseth not to gather together preachers for the instruction of his faithful people.  The early morning of the world was from Adam until Noah; the third hour from Noah until Abraham; the sixth hour from Abraham until Moses; the ninth hour from Moses until the coming of the Lord; the eleventh hour from the coming of the Lord until the end of the world.  At this eleventh hour are sent forth as preachers, the Holy Apostles, who have received full wages, albeit they be come in late.

V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.

R.  Where is Abel thy brother? said the Lord unto Cain.  I know not, Lord.  Am I my brother’s keeper?  And the Lord said unto him: What hast thou done? * Behold, the voice of thy brother Abel’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
V.  And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand.
R.  Behold, the voice of thy brother Abel’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  Behold, the voice of thy brother Abel’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

PriestThe Lord be with you.
Answer. And with thy spirit.
PriestLet us pray.

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people: that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name.  Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Commemoration of  St. Peter Nolasco, Confessor.

Antiphon.  Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

V.  The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R.  And shewed him the kingdom of God.

Let us pray.
O God, who for an ensample of thy charity didst thyself teach blessed Peter  to enrich thy Church with a new offspring, to redeem the faithful from captivity: grant, we pray thee; that by his intercession, we, being delivered from the bondage of our sins, may rejoice in the freedom of our heavenly country.

Commemoration of the Second Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr.

Antiphon.  Lo, what I desired I now see; what I did hope for I now possess; now am I united in heaven to him whom I loved with my whole heart upon earth.

V.  The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R.  And shewed him the kingdom of God.

Let us pray.
O God, who makest us glad with the yearly festival of blessed Agnes thy Virgin and Martyr: grant, we beseech thee; that, as we do venerate her in our outward office, so we may follow the example of her godly conversation.  Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who  liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

PriestThe Lord be with you.
Answer. And with thy spirit.
PriestLet us pray.

The Second Collect, for Peace.

GOD, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Third Collect, for Grace.

LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PriestThe Lord be with you.
Answer. And with thy spirit.
Priest.  Bless we the Lord.
Answer.  Thanks be to God.

Priest.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
AnswerAmen.

Priest. May help divine be with us all, for ever abiding.
Answer.  Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

Here endeth the Order of Morning Prayer throughout the Year.

Psalm 131 – 134

EVENING PRAYER

Antiphon. The Lord hath chosen Sion * to be an habitation for himself.

Psalm 131

A song of ascents

LORD, remember David: and all his trouble;

How he sware unto the Lord: and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob;

I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house: nor climb up into my bed;

I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor mine eye-lids to slumber: neither the temples of my head to take any rest;

Until I find out a place for the temple of the Lord: an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

Lo, we heard of the same at Ephrata: and found it in the wood.

We will go into his tabernacle: and fall low on our knees before his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into thy resting-place: thou, and the ark of thy strength.

Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness: and let thy saints sing with joyfulness.

For thy servant David’s sake: turn not away the presence of thine Anointed.

The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David: and he shall not shrink from it;

Of the fruit of thy body: shall I set upon thy seat.

If thy children will keep my covenant, and my testimonies that I shall learn them: their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore.

For the Lord hath chosen Sion to be an habitation for himself: he hath longed for her.

This shall be my rest for ever: here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.

I will bless her victuals with increase: and will satisfy her poor with bread.

I will deck her priests with health: and her saints shall rejoice and sing.

There shall I make the horn of David to flourish: I have ordained a lantern for mine Anointed.

As for his enemies, I shall clothe them with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

Glory be …

Antiphon. The Lord hath chosen Sion * to be an habitation for himself.

Antiphon. Behold, how good and * joyful a thing it is.

Psalm 132

A song of ascents

BEHOLD, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard: even unto Aaron’s beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing.

Like as the dew of Hermon: which fell upon the hill of Sion.

For there the Lord promised his blessing: and life for evermore.

Glory be …

Antiphon. Behold, how good and * joyful a thing it is.

Antiphon. Praise the Lord, * all ye his servants.

Psalm 133

A song of ascents

BEHOLD now, praise the Lord: all ye servants of the Lord;

Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord: even in the courts of the house of our God.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary: and praise the Lord.

The Lord that made heaven and earth: give thee blessing out of Sion.

Glory be …

Antiphon. Praise the Lord, * all ye his servants.

Antiphon. Whatsoever * the Lord pleased, that did he.

Psalm 134

Alleluia

O PRAISE the Lord, laud ye the Name of the Lord: praise it, O ye servants of the Lord;

Ye that stand in the house of the Lord: in the courts of the house of our God.

O praise the Lord, for the Lord is gracious: O sing praises unto his Name, for it is lovely.

For why? the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself: and Israel for his own possession.

For I know that the Lord is great: and that our Lord is above all gods.

Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth: and in the sea, and in all deep places.

He bringeth forth the clouds from the ends of the world: and sendeth forth lightnings with the rain, bringing the winds out of his treasures.

He smote the first-born of Egypt: both of man and beast.

He hath sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O thou land of Egypt: upon Pharaoh, and all his servants.

He smote divers nations: and slew mighty kings;

Sehon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Basan: and all the kingdoms of Canaan;

And gave their land to be an heritage: even an heritage unto Israel his people.

Thy Name, O Lord, endureth for ever: so doth thy memorial, O Lord, from one generation to another.

For the Lord will avenge his people: and be gracious unto his servants.

As for the images of the heathen, they are but silver and gold: the work of men’s hands.

They have mouths, and speak not: eyes have they, but they see not.

They have ears, and yet they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths.

They that make them are like unto them: and so are all they that put their trust in them.

Praise the Lord, ye house of Israel: praise the Lord, ye house of Aaron.

Praise the Lord, ye house of Levi: ye that fear the Lord, praise the Lord.

Praised be the Lord out of Sion: who dwelleth at Jerusalem.

Glory be …

Antiphon. Whatsoever * the Lord pleased, that did he.

The uniquely graced Man

It has been a while since I wrote concerning Grace and Christology. It is about time I picked it up.

 

Salvation as Elevation

We have seen in my previous post that Fairbairn detects two ideas about salvation which have a direct impact on christology. It is here that Nestorius of Constantinople and Theodore of Mopsuestia appear to be birds of a feather.

Both men espouse what  I call a two-act salvation scheme: they see humanity’s natural condition as one of mortality and imperfection and view salvation as an advance to a higher, perfect state. Furthermore they see salvation not so much as an elevation to divine life but rather as  progress towards perfect human life, and this allows them to adopt a christology that distinguishes sharply between the Logos and the assumed man. What binds this two-act salvation scheme and a divisive christology together is Theodore’s and Nestorius’ concept of grace, and idea driven by the belief that God gives people those gifts (power, aid, and cooperation) that they will need in order to advance from the age of mortality to that of perfection. The relation between the assumed man and the Logos is a special case of the grace by which God interacts with people in general: God the Logos gives that man the power and co-operation he needs to be our pioneer in the march to the perfect age.

Donald Fairbairn, Grace and Christology, p. 28.

The idea that grace consists merely of help, or aid, from above allows a sharp distinction between “the assumed man” an the “Logos” because there is no necessary union between God and creature. If salvation consists first and foremost of the unification or at-one-ment a sharp distinction becomes impossible. After all, unification and division are opposites! Unifaction – or deification – does not exclude divine aid or help from above, but it begins the idea of salvation from a very different starting point with very different results. In other words the deified creature can (and does) receive help and aid from God but this help and aid do not form the essence of what salvation is. Salvation is not an elevation from a lower to a higher state – from the First to the Second Katastasis.

 

The two Katastases

Theodore’s theology begins by postulating two ages or katastases. The First Age is one of mutability, corruption, sin, and death. The Second Age is characterized by immutability, incorruption, perfection, and life). Salvation consists in moving from the first to the second Age. For Theodore the “new creature” – strictly speaking – belongs to the second Age and cannot exist in the first. This seems to be the point he makes in Hom. Cat. 10. 17 “It is this Church [of “new creatures”] that he [Paul] calls the body of Christ; it receives communion with him symbolically in this world [First Age] through the regeneration of baptism, but in the world to come [Second Age], that communion will be present truly and effectively.” The two ages are sharply distinguished. Baptism begins the journey to a reality not yet given. Baptism does not a new creature make! Baptism is merely the starting point for a mutable, corruptible creature which will only achieve immutability and incorruptibility – the new creation – at some point in the future.

This may seem close to how we commonly conceive of Baptism. But the appearance is deceptive. A Catholic and Orthodox theology requires that the believer who is baptized is from Baptism onward already a new creation. There is no sharp distinction between present and future. What is given truly and effectively in this age in Baptism will be concluded in the age to come. This means that the foundation of Theodoran theology (two sharply distinguished ages) conflicts with a sacramental and (therefore) Christian worldview.

The First Age and the Fall

Only in the first Age is sin a possibility. Sin requires mutability and since the second Age is characterized by immutability there can also be no sin. But can we speak of a “fall into sin” in Theodore’s scheme of the two katastases?

Sin had first to be removed, since it was the cause of death, and then death had to be nullified along with it. But if sin were not removed, we would necessarily remain in mortality, and we would sin because of our mutability; and if we sinned we would again be under punishment, and the power of death would consequently continue.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, Hom. Cat. 5. 10. 

The above sounds like Theodore is saying that humanity fell from an original condition where sin is absent, to the present state and that the future age will return us to a state of sinlesness. Such a conception of salvation seems to imply a three-fold structure of salvation and would conflict fundamentally with the two katastases scheme we have seen in Theodore above. Or does it?

In this way the body would be free from death and corruption. Now this could happen if Christ first made the soul immutable and delivered it from the impulses of sin, so that by acquiring immutability we became free from sin. Indeed, the abolition of sin would effect the abolition of death, our bodies could continue indissoluble and incorruptible.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, Hom. Cat. 5. 11. 

Sin and mutability, as Theodore sees it, are not so much the result of turning away from God, rather, sin is the result of an innate (natural) mutability. In other words the creature does not fall from a state of perfection to a state of mutability and sin, but is created mutable and consequently sins. This means that sin is a natural part of the creature in the First Age. Christ saves the soul from sin not by returning it to the state from which it had fallen, but by making the soul immutable. Mutability is characteristic of he First Age, and therefore, so is sin. To put it clearly: mutability and sin are a natural result of creation. Such an idea, as should be obvious, is very different from the Catholic and Orthodox view of creation, fall and salvation. Theodore’s theology can fittingly be described as a two-act salvation scheme.

Richard A. Norris and God’s Foreknowledge

An attempt has been made to reconcile the conflict we arrived at above. R. A. Norris (and if memory serves, Archpriest John Behr from Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary) tells us that mortality is chronologically prior to sin, but that theologically sin is necessarily prior to mortality. God foreknew mankind would sin and created them accordingly. This means that mortality is both an inheritance from Adam as well as a consequence of  “the sin of Adam” which each earns for himself because each commits it for himself. Whether or not this presentation of things hold any theological water does not matter in our consideration of Theodore all that much. To Theodore, as we have seen, the Second Age is a higher condition and precisely not a restoration to a previous state. So even if – as seems probable to me – Norris’ suggestion concerning foreknowledge has considerable merit, it does not salvage Theodoran thought for Christianity.

To be continued.

Grace and Christology in the Early Church

It is fitting that a blog called “On First Principles” should deal with such principles. This blog has been in existence for almost a decade and I have never figured out what to do with it. But today will perhaps bring some much needed clarity. The first principle of Christian life is JESUS CHRIST. Over the past 10 years I have moved away from some of the basics my old professor at Seminary (Archpriest John Behr) taught me. One thing, however, remains. Maybe even two things.

Christian theology is an answer to the question posed by our Lord “He [Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16, 15) The answer is to be found in the Scriptures which testify of Him (the Bible). Three creeds can be found which enshrine “The Rule of Faith” of the earliest Church that gave us the Scriptures and taught us how to read them. They are the Apostles Creed (recited multiple times per day), the Nicene Creed (recited at least weekly at the Sunday Mass), and the Athanasian Creed recited monthly in the Book of Common Prayer, but almost daily in St. John Mason Neale’s Breviary Offices).

 

Christological and Anthropological Grace

In a tightly argued and well researched book Donald Fairbairn has investigated the answer to our Lord’s question above. He does not so much answer the question, as investigate the answer given to it by the early Church. He does so by focusing his attention on three main figures of Church history: 1. Theodore of Mopsuestia, 2. Cyril of Alexandria, and 3. John Cassian. The result of this research is this 288 page tour de force of Christology.

In the first of seven chapters Fairbairn sets the stage for his topic. He first needs to look at grace a bit differently than we are used to. We are introduced to two kinds of grace: anhtropological and christological:nativity

By christological grace, I mean the issue of what (or whom) God gives people through the incarnation and atoning work of Christ. By anthropological grace, I mean the issue of how God leads us to receive and to retain this gift.

~ Donald Fairbairn, Grace and Christology in the Early Church, p. 13.

Anthroplogical grace, as Fairbairn says, has to do with the gift of freedom bestowed upon human beings at their creation and how this relates to the gifts of faith and perseverance that God gives in salvation. Here we enter the debates between – for example – Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants concerning synergism and monergism. In this book this aspect of grace is left to one side in order to focus on what we have called christological grace. The latter is concerned with what or whom Jesus Christ actually gives the Christian what we call salvation.

Thus there was a question of whether grace consisted of Christ’s giving the Christian power, aid, and assistance in reaching that perfect human condition, or whether God gave the believer participation in his own immortality and incorruption.

~ Fairbairn, Grace and Christology, 14.

As we shall see in a moment these two ways of looking at (christological) grace are related to what Fairbairn calls “the structure of salvation” as well as to who or what a particular author thinks Jesus Christ really is.

 

Cyril, Cassian, & Theodore

It is not hard to see why Fairbairn has chosen Cyril for a study on the Christology of the early Church. If you do have difficulties seeing it perhaps you ought to stop reading here and brush up on your knowledge concerning the “Nestorian Controversy.” Without a basic grasp of this conflict in the early Church much of what this book will argue is going Johncassianto go way over your head.

St. Cyril of Alexandria has been the subject of a great many studies and his importance in the christological debates of the early Church is indisputable. Whether one finds him an attractive character or whether one agrees with him or not is another matter. For Cyril’s thought on the matter of christological grace – even if he did not know the term – Fairbairn asserts that it can be argued that for Cyril “Christ is grace (p. 15).” It is also a fact that Cyril’s teaching on the person and nanture(s) of Jesus Christ are the touchstone of orthodox and catholic theology East and West. He is a doctor of the Church in both traditions primarily for his christological teaching. It is quite fitting therefore that the first axis of the book is St. Cyril of Alexandria.

The second axis of the book is St. John Cassian and Fairbairn admits this may be a bit more difficult to justify. It would seem that the great teachers of the Church in the West to turn to would be St. Augustine and perhaps especially St. Leo the Great whose Tome was read and accepted at Chalcedon as conveying Cyril’s doctrine. So, why Cassian? For three reasons: 1. Cassian is the only one in the West to have contributed a work against Nestorius during the Nestorian Controversy. He was asked to do so by St. Leo the Great. Though it would, perhaps, have been a more evident course of action for Leo to have commissioned such a polemics from St. Augustine since the much respected Bishop and doctor was still alive at the time. 2. Cassian is not an Augustine, lacking the Augustinian orginality and thus more lilely to represent what “the choir was singing rather than the soloist (p. 16).” Bringing Augustine into this study may overwhelm other voices. 3. There has been no serious engagement of Cassian’s christological work in the twentieth century and is therefore long overdue.

The third character to play a major role in this study is Theodore of Mopsuestua. Again some justification may be necessary since, after all, we are chiefly dealing with what has been called “the Nestorian Controversy” and not the “Theodoran Controversy.” Nestorius is famous for having denied that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Theotokos (Mother of God). The logic behind such denial is that God cannot be born from His creature. Nestorius is also known to have written a lengthy – if repetitive – tome in defense of himself and his doctrine. It is also against Nestorius that Cyril and Cassian address their polemic.  It would seem that Nestorius is a much more natural place to look for the christology opposed by both Cyril and Cassian.

All of this can be granted readily. Yet Nestorius is mostly repeating the doctrine taught to him by Theodore without really explaining the depth of it. That is to say Nestorius writes a lot about prosopic union but remarkably little about how this relates to grace (though he does presuppose it). To understand how Nestorian christology relates to grace in its christlogical sense one needs to consult the writings of his teacher: Theodore of Mopsuestia. The purpose of Fairbairn’s study is after all to study christological grace.

 

Two Structures of Salvation

The final major theme mentioned by Fairbairn in the first chapter concerns salvation. Salvation can be construed in two basic ways: 1. as an act of restoration, or 2. as an act of elevation. The first way of thinking about salvation presupposes – as it were – salvation to be a play consisting of three acts. The first act is that of the creation of humanity in a “state of grace.” The second act in this play is the fall from grace into sin and its consequences. The third act, salvation as such, is the restoration of fallen humanity into its original condition. Fairbairn summarizes:

This way of understanding salvation, then, sees the key acts or movements as creation, fall, and restoration.

Fairbairn, Grace and Christology, p. 18.

The second way to conceive of salvation is as a play consisting of two acts. The original condition of humanity is not so much perfection (state of grace) as it is a condition of imperfection demanding development and completion. Or as Fairbairn says “opportunity.” Humanity is created to attain a state of perfection – state of grace – and it will do so under the guidance of God. There is growth from imperfection to perfection so as to almost exclude any notion of a fall and restoration. Again in the words of Fairbairn:

This scheme sees the key acts as creation and elevation.

Fairbairn, Grace and Christology, p. 18.

The contrast between these two views of salvation has now become clear. These views have a direct impact on how its adherents view Jesus Christ. In other words the way a patristic era author conceives of salvation is directly related to his christology. As the study proceeds it will become clear that those authors tending toward the three act scheme of salvation tend to have a Cyrillian christology, and those who conceive of salvation as a two act play tend toward a Nestorian christology. Once the study begins to treat Cassian it will become clear that – in spite of appearances – Cassian’s soteriology is very much a three act play impacting his christology so as to be basically Cyrillian. Grace and Christology are closely related.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

On “Abstinence”

“Abstinence is the origin of fruitfulness, the blossom and beginning of the practical life.”
 
~ Evagrius Ponticus, Eight Thoughts.
Just like the beginning of “fruit” is a “blossom” likewise “abstinence” is the beginning of the “practical life.” It simply is not possible to practice Christianity (practical life) so long as we are full of ourselves. We must decreases so Christ can increase. We must learn to “abstain” to make room as it were for Jesus Christ in our lives.
 
“Against the thoughts that seek without the labour of fasting to cultivate the rational land:
Issachar has desired that which is good, resting between the inheritances. And because he saw that the resting place is good and the land is fertile, he subjected his shoulder to labour and became a farmer (Gen. 49, 14-15 LXX).”
~ Evagrius Ponticus, Talking Back, 1.1.
Abstinence does not mean cutting back on being active. To do less. It involves discipline such as fasting. Cultivating the “rational land” – receiving and providing spiritual knowledge – requires outer work. We need to gain control over our outward behavior by shedding vices and gaining virtues. This is also shown in Evagrius’ Praktikos where he begins his treatise by observations concerning monastic clothing. The same is said by St. John Cassian (perhaps even more pointedly). The “normal” clothes are taken off (shedding vices, which is the labour of abstinence) and the monastic dress is put on (gaining virtues). This does not amount to self-salvation as is clear from the fact that the new clothing is received – given – not gained.
Should the temptation (temptig thought) come up that we do not need to labour, that no effort on our part is required, we ought to block this thought’s path with the verse from Scripture concerning Issachar. The Scripture (word of God) is an effective means to stop temptations and it re-directs our attention away from the tempting thought. Our focus on the good and fertile land we can sow our seeds and grow our fruit.
Fr. Gregory Wassen

Psalmody and the Holy Rule

Steps of humility, Holy Rule, Chapter VII

For the past few days, we have heard St. Benedict tell us about the steps of humility. These are steps, which if we ascend them, lead us to “heavenly exaltation.” The latter is the eschatological goal of human life but is attainable in this life by means of humility. That is interesting. St. Benedict is saying nothing less but that humility is what leads to deification. This is the second time Benedict brings up deification. Though often not translated or even placed in a footnote Prologue 9’s “divine light” is more accurately translated as “deifying light.” In Prologue 9 there is a passivity – listening – involved which requires hard work: obedience. “For we must at all times use the good gifts He has placed in us (Prologue 6).” But here we must devote our attention to humility.

“Brothers, holy Scripture cries aloud to us …” (Holy Rule, vii, 1). The teaching on and of humility begins with holy Scripture. This is not a proto-Protestant move of Benedict. Whereas for the Reformers (including our own Anglican Reformers) Scripture always speaks to us and stays on the outside as it were (Cranmer and the Continental Reformers were committed nominalists). For Benedict Scripture is to be practiced, put on, produce an inner transformation. This is not unlike the Reformation controversy concerning justification. To the Reformers justification concerns a declaration whereas for the Catholics it concerns a transformation. John Henry Newman wrote at length about this issue in his Lectures on Justification. Benedict, being a Platonic realist (common currency in his time) views the speech of Scripture as transformative (not unlike Newman in the lectures mentioned above).

St. Benedict immediately quotes from the Gospel of St. Luke (18, 14): “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted .“ Humility is here presented as a virtue mandated by the Gospel. In other words, the teaching to follow is, according to Benedict, to be understood as the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself mediated by the ministry of St. Benedict. The importance of humility could not be emphasized more strongly. Humility is the virtue taught by Christ Himself as the path to walk to attain to “heavenly exaltation.”

The Psalter has a key role to play here. Benedict spends no less than 11 chapters on the specifics of how Psalmody is to be performed. In fact, the recitation of the Psalms (and specifically the Psalms ! ) is so important that if a situation should occur where abbreviation of the Office is necessary it is the Responses and the Readings from Scripture that are to be shortened. Never the Psalter (Ch. XI, 12-13). Why this emphasis on the Psalter? A close reading of chapter VII will give us some important clues. As the reader will notice, perhaps aided by the footnotes in the translations of the Holy Rule, St. Benedict cites the Psalms more than 20 times in just this chapter ! Other Scriptural books are also cited but much, much less frequently. There is something peculiar about the Psalms …

Immediately after Benedict has provided the passage on humility from Luke’s Gospel he follows up with a double citation from the Psalms: 131:1 and 131: 2-3. The point being made in the Psalms is that humility implies an inner transformation. Humility is not a matter of mere outward behavior. It is an inner reality which finds expression outwardly. At the conclusion of the first step St. Benedict makes an interesting suggestion:

“In order then to keep his perverse thoughts under careful control, the profitable brother should repeat in his heart. ‘Then I shall be spotless in his sight if I keep myself in check against my sinfulness.’”

The method of “keeping control” here is that of antirhetikos (contradiction or as David Brakke translates the word “talking back” ). This method contradicts the tempting thought attacking the monk. In this case, it seems Benedict recommends that Psalm 18: 24 be used to contradict the thought which tempts the monk to “forgetfulness” (HR, VIII, 10). Here the Psalm is weaponized in the fight against sin. A major source for this practice of contradiction is Evagrius Ponticus. The latter wrote one of his longest works dedicated to precisely this practice. It is not unthinkable that Benedict was – at least – familiar with this Evagrian practice if not necessarily with his works.

Moving on in our reading of Chapter VII we find that Benedict uses the Psalms in yet another way. By means of the Psalms he tells us that God knows even our deepest thoughts and motivations (Ch. VIII, 15-18), that doing our own will is to indulge in our own corruption ( Ch. VII, 23), that God is very much aware of our inner state (whether outwardly expressed or not) (Ch. VII, 23). These verses of the Psalms (and other Scriptures passages) are to be memorized, internalized so that their “keeping them in our minds” brings about inner transformation. The Psalms are like building blocks, living building blocks, that (if Benedict’s advice is followed) will re-build our inner self. The obedience Benedict subjects us to is to break down the inner self we have constructed so that it may be rebuilt. This time not ego-centric but Christo-centric.

Something similar is going on in St. John Cassian’s Institutes. He opens his book with a prologue and immediately goes into a description of monastic dress. The point St. Benedict’s hero is making is not about monastic fashion preferences. There is no Kim Kardashian-esque obsession with what to wear. The items of the monastic dress are couched in Scripture verses and are thereby placed in a narrative which begins in the Old Testament (Elijah & Elisha), continues in the New Testament (St. John Baptist, St. Paul), and is presently represented by Cassian and the Egyptian Fathers by whom he was taught. The Scriptures cited and alluded to also serve to focus on the inner transformation of the monk. When the monk enters he takes off his old, worldly clothes and puts on the monastic dress. This indicates a break with his previous life (the old self) and the putting on of the new dress indicates an entry into a new life (a new self). Cassian uses Scripture as a tool to effect a transformation of the inner self. It comes as no surprise that Cassian too taught obedience, humility, and placed a heavy emphasis on the recitation of the Psalter. In fact, the chaotic state of Gaulic Monasticism (from Cassian’s point of view) is shown in their individualist use of the Psalms. Every monk has his own way to recite them and in so doing so shows his ignorance as to what Psalmody is even for!

Cassian is even more adamant than Benedict that Psalmody is essential to a monk’s daily practice. The correct way to recite them is given by the mediation of angels (like the Law of Moses) and thus enjoys super-human authority. Interestingly, the reading of Scripture is added by the Fathers upon their own human authority and insight. It is not essential, and it is not what the Divine Office is about to Cassian. It would seem that Benedict is a close reader of Cassian! Having arrived once again at the recitation of the Psalter it is now time to reveal why in the Office it is more important to recite the Psalms than to read Scripture. One thing should be clear by now: the Office is not about the public reading and proclamation of Scripture. The Office – at least as Cassian and Benedict see it – is about the regular recitation of the Psalms in the order and manner taught by Cassian and Benedict.

The Psalms contain all of Scripture in them. They re-tell the story of the Old Testament and they prophetically tell of Jesus Christ. In other words, the one who knows the Psalms – in real sense – knows all of Scripture (generally but not specifically so that Scripture reading is still mandated for every monk ! ). Another point is that the Psalms, in particular, seem to contain medicine against the disease of vice. The more the Psalms become the building blocks with which our minds are put together, the more Christ-like we will become. Here is the entire point! The deifying light which brings us to heavenly exaltation comes to us in a very special way via the Psalms. Their recitation is a fundamental technique to effect deification. As we absorb the Psalms we are absorbed by them. To put that differently: as we consume the words of God we are consumed by the Word. The recitation of the Psalter is the “opus dei (the work of God)” to which “nothing” is to be preferred because in this opus dei we perform the work of God (reciting the Psalter) and as we do so (and insofar as we do so) God performs His work on us (deification).

The Psalter as used in chapter VII in the Holy Rule shows what to do with the knowledge of the Psalms gained by their continuous recitation. The reason that both Cassian and Benedict attribute less value to the reading of Scripture in the Office is to be sought in the fact that the Psalms contain all of Scripture and that they are specifically designed and given by divine authority to be the basis of our prayer. The rest of Scripture is equally divine in authority but cannot generally be used in the same way the Psalms can be. For this reason, the recitation of the Psalter is the core of the Divine Office.

“Holy Scripture cries aloud to us” in and through the Psalms in particular. Psalmody is a way enable the monk in the struggle against vice and the attainment of virtue, and as we perform the “work of God” it is God who work in us. The 11 chapters to follow are therefore an essential part of “setting the fear of God always before our eyes and to utterly avoid forgetfulness.” Familiarity with the Psams at the level which is produced by their weekly recitation is where we start to be “always on our guard” (HR VII, 29) and how we “act wisely and seek after God” (HR VII, 27). The Psalms firmly place us before God and in His presence, we are transformed. Our transformation will show outwardly in our humility. Step 1 has been achieved … the other steps can be ascended in the same way.

Fr. Gregory Wassen