Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday

Nocturn II, Breviarium Romanum (1962)

From the Treatise of St Augustine, Bishop (of Hippo)

Upon the Psalms liv. 1.

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and despise not my supplication : attend unto me and hear me. These are the words of a man travailing, anxious, and troubled. He prayeth in the midst of much suffering, longing to be rid of his affliction. Our part is to see what that his affliction was, and when he hath told us, to acknowledge that we also suffer therefrom; that so, partaking in his trouble, we may take part also in his prayer. He saith : I mourn in my exercise, and am troubled. Wherein mourned he? Wherein was he troubled? He saith : In my exericise. In the next words he giveth us to know that his affliction was the oppression of the wicked, ( Because of the voice of the enemy, and because of the oppression of the wicked,) and this suffering which came upon him at the hands of wicked men, he hath called his exercise. Think not that wicked men are in this world for nothing, or that God doth no good with them. Every wicked man liveth, either to repent, or to exercise the righteous.

Would to God that they which now exercise us were converted and exercised with us! Yet, while they are as they are, and exercise us, we will not hate them : for we know not of any one of them whether he will endure to the end in his sin. Yea, oftentimes, when thou deemest that thou hatest thine enemy, he whom thou hatest is thy brother, and thou knowest it not. The Holy Scriptures show us that the devil and his angels are already damned unto everlasting fire, and therefore of their repentance it behoveth us to despair; but of theirs only. These are they against whom we wrestle within; to the which wrestling the Apostle stirreth us up where he saith : We wrestle not against flesh and blood, (that is, not against men whom we see,) but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world. Eph. vi. 12. He saith not the rulers of this world, lest perchance thou shouldest deem that devils are the lords of heaven and earth; what he doth say is, rulers of the darkness of this world, of that world which they love who love the world, of that world wherein the ungodly and unrighteous do prosper, of that world, in fine, of which the Gospel saith : And the world knew Him not.

We have seen iniquity and strife in A the city. v. 10. Behold, the glory of the Cross. That Cross which was the object of the insults of God's enemies, is established now above the brows of kings. The end hath shown the measure of its power : it hath conquered the world, not by the sword, but by its wood. The enemies of God thought the Cross a meet object of insult and ridicule, yea, they stood before it, wagging their heads and saying : If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross! Matth. xxvii. 39, 40. And He stretched forth His Hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. Rom. x. 21. If he is just which liveth by faith, Rom. i. 17; Hab. ii. 4, he is unjust that hath not faith. Therefore where is written iniquity we may understand unbelief. The Lord therefore saith that He saw iniquity and strife in the city, and that He stretched forth His Hands unto that disobedient and gainsaying people, and, disobedient and gainsaying as they were, He was hungry for their salvation, and said : Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke xxiii. 34.

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