Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Maximus the Confessor (c.580 - 662)|
Beginning life as a civil servant and rising to high office, Maximus saw the light and took monastic vows, at an unknown time and for unknown reasons, at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar). In due course he became the abbot there.
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius the Areopagite. He applied rigorous Aristotelian logic to these writings to make their doctrine clearer, and harder to misunderstand.
The perennial argument in the East over the nature of Christ – whether true God and true man, or just a divinely commanded man-shaped puppet – flared up yet again, and this time both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople were on the latter side. Maximus taking the side of orthodoxy, he was arrested in Rome in 653, together with Pope Martin I. The Pope was condemned without a trial and died before he could be sent to Constantinople. Maximus was taken there to be tried as a heretic in 658 and was sentenced to four years’ exile. In 662 he was brought back and tried again, and this time his tongue was cut out so that he could no longer speak rebellion and his right hand cut off so that he could no longer write letters. He was exiled to a distant region of the empire, where he died on 13 August of the same year.
The passages from St Maximus which adorn the Office of Readings have nothing of these controversies in them, but are chosen to reflect for us the glory of the light of the events of our redemption.
|Liturgical colour: violet|
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Ezekiel 18:30-32 ©|
Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent and live!
|Noon reading (Sext)||Zechariah 1:3-4 ©|
Return to me, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will return to you. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the prophets in the past cried ‘Turn back from your evil ways and evil deeds’ but they would not listen.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Daniel 4:24 ©|
By virtuous actions break with your sins, break with your crimes by showing mercy to the poor, and so live long and peacefully.
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Office of Readings for 4th Wednesday of Lent
Morning Prayer for 4th Wednesday of Lent
Evening Prayer for 4th Wednesday of Lent
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