First Lesson: Deuteronomy 6:1 – 9
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
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: Matthew 26:1 – 16
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
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 Conferences of St John Cassian
Practical perfection, or praktiké, which leads to the higher step of contemplation, is divided among many professions and pursuits. For some people are completely set upon the remoteness of the desert and on purity of heart, as we know Elijah and Elisha were in times past and the blessed Antony and others were in our own day, pursuing the same chosen orientation and attaching them selves very closely to God by the silence of the desert. Some have devoted every painstaking effort of theirs to the instruction of the brothers and to the constant care of the cenobia, as we recall was the case lately with Abba John. The kindly duty of welcoming strangers is attractive to some. This was how, also in times past, the patri arch Abraham and Lot pleased the Lord, and lately there was the blessed Macarius, a man of extraordinary gentleness and patience. He presided over a hostel in Alexandria in such a way that he should not be considered inferior to any of those who pur sued the remoteness of the desert. Some choose the care of the sick, some are intent upon teaching, and others give alms to the poor, and among great and noble men they have flourished by reason of their love and their goodness.
Therefore it is beneficial and proper for each person, in accordance with the orientation that he has chosen and the grace that he has received, to strive most zealously and diligently to attain to perfection in the work that be has undertaken. He may praise and admire the virtues of others, but he should never depart from the profession that he has once chosen, knowing that, according to the Apostle, the body of the Church is indeed one, although its members are many, and that it has, gifts differ ing according to the grace which has been given to us; whether prophecy, in proportion to our faith; or service, in our serving; or he who teaches, in teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation. Some members cannot claim for themselves the ministries of other members, for the eyes cannot perform the function of the hands nor the nose of the ears. Therefore not all are Apostles, not all are Prophets, not all are teachers.
Those who are not yet established in the profession that they have undertaken are accustomed, when they hear some people commended for their different virtues, to be so taken up with their praise that they immediately desire to imitate their practices. In such cases human frailty inevitably expends its efforts in vain. For it is impossible for one and the same person to shine simultaneously in all the virtues that I have listed above. If someone wants to strive after all of them together, in his pursuit of them he will of necessity not possess a single one completely, and he will suffer loss rather than make gain as a result of this diversity and variation. For there are many ways that lead to God, and therefore each person should finish the one that he has taken up, intent upon his course, so that he may be perfect in his profes sion, whatever it may be.
St John Cassian, Conference 14, 4-6; ACW 57 (1997) tr. Ramsey.
And the Apostles Creed and the rest of the office.
O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour who liveth and reigneth with THee in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.