First Lesson: Wisdom 1:1 – 7
Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good (heart,) and in simplicity of heart seek him.
For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and sheweth himself unto such as do not distrust him.
For froward thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise.
For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin.
For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.
For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: for God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.
Canticle: Magnificat. St. Luke 1:46-55
My soul doth magnify the Lord, * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden.
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 showed 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.
Second Lesson: I Thessalonians 5:12 – End
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Brethren, pray for us.
Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Canticle: Nunc dimittis. St. Luke 2:29-32
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.
A reading from the Ladder of Divine Ascent by St John of the Ladder
There is such a thing as exile, an irrevocable renunciation of everything in one’s familiar surroundings that hinders one from attaining the ideal of holiness. Exile is a disciplined heart, unheralded wisdom, an unpublicised understanding, a hidden life, masked ideals. It is unseen meditation, the striving to be humble, a wish for poverty, the longing for what is divine. It is an outpour ing of love, a denial of vainglory, a depth of silence.
For followers of the Lord, this manner of thinking operates abundantly at the beginning and they are greatly disturbed by it, as though by some holy fire. I mean separation from their relations for the sake of hardship and simplicity which drives on the lovers of this good. Yet for all that it is praiseworthy, it requires discretion, since not every kind of exile is good if taken to extremes. Detachment is good and its mother is exile. Someone with drawing from the world for the sake of the Lord is no longer attached to possessions, that he should not appear to be deceived by the passions. If you have left the world, then do not begin to reach out for it. Otherwise your passions will come back to you. Eve had no wish to be driven from paradise, whereas a monk will abandon his homeland willingly.
Let us say we manage for some time to live away from our relatives. We practise a little piety, compunction, self-control. And then the empty thoughts come tramping toward us, seeking to turn its back to the places we knew. They tell us what an example we are, what a help to those who witnessed our former wicked deeds. If we happen to be articulate and well informed, they assure us that we could be rescuers of souls and teachers to the world. They tell us all this so that we might scatter at sea the treasures we have assembled while in port. So we had better imitate Lot, and certainly not his wife. The soul turning back to the regions from which it came will be like the salt that has lost savour, indeed like that famous pillar. Run from Egypt, run and do not turn back. The heart yearning for the land there will never see Jerusalem, the land of dispassion.
There is no greater example of renunciation than that great man who heard the command, Leave your country and your family and the house of your father. Obediently he went to a foreign country where the language was different. And so it is that anyone follow ing this model of renunciation is glorified all the more by the Lord.
But even though this glory is given by God, it is still good to deflect it with the protective shield of humility. When demons or men lavish praise on us for our exile as if it were a great achieve ment, let us remind ourselves at once of him who came down from heaven for our benefit and exiled himself to earth. Nothing we could ever do would match that.
St John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 85-87; Word in Season VII.
And the Apostles Creed and the rest of the office.
O GOD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.