First Lesson: II Esdras 8:63 – 9:13
Behold, O Lord, now hast thou shewed me the multitude of the wonders, which thou wilt begin to do in the last times: but at what time, thou hast not shewed me.
He answered me then, and said, Measure thou the time diligently in itself: and when thou seest part of the signs past, which I have told thee before,
Then shalt thou understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world which he made.
Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:
Then shalt thou well understand, that the most High spake of those things from the days that were before thee, even from the beginning.
For like as all that is made in the world hath a beginning and an end, and the end is manifest:
Even so the times also of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonder and powerful works, and endings in effects and signs.
And every one that shall be saved, and shall be able to escape by his works, and by faith, whereby ye have believed,
Shall be preserved from the said perils, and shall see my salvation in my land, and within my borders: for I have sanctified them for me from the beginning.
Then shall they be in pitiful case, which now have abused my ways: and they that have cast them away despitefully shall dwell in torments.
For such as in their life have received benefits, and have not known me;
And they that have loathed my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it;
The same must know it after death by pain.
And therefore be thou not curious how the ungodly shall be punished, and when: but enquire how the righteous shall be saved, whose the world is, and for whom the world is created.
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: II Peter 3:1 – 14, 17 – 18
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. 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 Homily by St. Jerome the Priest:
This injunction to whoso readeth, to understand, sheweth that there is here something mysterious. In Daniel we read as followeth : And in the midst of the week the sacrifice and the oblations shall be taken away ; and in the temple there shall be the abomination of desolation, even until the consummation of the time ; and a consummation shall be given to the desolation. It is of this same thing that the Apostle speaketh, when he saith that a man of iniquity, even an adversary, shall be exalted against whatsoever is called God, or is worshipped : so that he shall even dare to stand in the temple of God, and to shew himself as God ; whose coming shall, according to the working of Satan, destroy and banish from God all who shall receive him.
This prophecy may be understood either (first) simply of Antichrist, (secondly) of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate set up in the Temple, or (thirdly) of the statue of Hadrian on horse-back, which hath stood, even until our own day, upon the site of the Holy of Holies. In the Scriptures of the Old Testament Abomination is a word very often used for an idol, and the farther title Of Desolation is added to identify an idol erected upon the site of the desolate and ruined temple.
But we may also understand by the abomination of desolation, any bad doctrine ; and when we see such a thing get a standing in the Holy Place?that is, in the Church?and, shewing itself that it is God?that is, pretending that it is his revealed truth?then will be the time when it will be our duty to flee from Judea into the mountains?that is to say, to leave the letter, which passeth away, and guise of Jewish superstition, and to hie us unto the everlasting hills, from whence God doth right wondrously cause his light to shine forth. Then will it be our duty to find ourselves under a roof and in an house, wherethrough the fiery darts of the wicked one can never pierce to smite us, and not to come down to take anything out of the house of our old conversation, or to have regard unto those things which are behind ; but rather to sow in the field of the spiritual Scriptures, that we may reap thereof a bountiful harvest ; neither to have two coats, that thing forbidden to the Apostles.
From the Roman Breviary for the day.
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.