Saturday 17 February 2018    (other days)
Saturday after Ash Wednesday 
 with a commemoration of The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order

Office of Readings

If this is the first Hour that you are reciting today, you should precede it with the Invitatory Psalm.

O God, come to our aid.
  O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
  is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.

Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.
As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.
As thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.
And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.
Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering overpast,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last.

Psalm 77 (78)
The history of salvation: the Lord's goodness, his people's infidelity (II)
The Lord saved them from their foe.
How often they rebelled in the wilderness!
  How often they grieved him in the desert!
Again and again they put God to the test
  and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They forgot his strength, they forgot the time
  when he saved them from the oppressor’s power.
When he showed his signs in Egypt,
  his wonders in the plain of Tanis,
he turned their rivers into blood
  and the streams: there was nothing they could drink.
He sent biting flies to eat them up,
  and frogs to bring devastation.
He gave their fruit to the caterpillar,
  the fruit of their labours to the locust.
He killed their vines with hail,
  he killed their sycamores with frost.
He gave their herds as victims to hail;
  their flocks, to lightning.
He loosed upon them the heat of his anger:
  rage, fury, and destruction;
  he sent his destroying angels among them.
He cleared a path for his anger:
  he did not spare them from death,
  but cut off their lives in pestilence.
He struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt,
  the first-fruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
  is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
The Lord saved them from their foe.

Psalm 77 (78)
The Lord brought them to his holy mountain.
He led his people away like sheep,
  like a flock through the wilderness.
They were led in hope, they did not fear –
  and the sea covered up their enemies.
He brought them within the borders he had sanctified,
  to the mountain that his right hand had conquered.
He drove out the nations before them
  divided their land, to be an inheritance,
  and made Israel dwell in their tents.
Still they tested and angered God, the Most High,
  and would not keep his decrees.
They went back to their unfaithfulness,
  like their fathers before them:
  they twisted round, like a crooked bow.
They stirred him to anger by their worship in high places:
  they provoked him to jealousy with their idols.
God heard, and burned with anger:
  then truly he spurned Israel.
He abandoned his dwelling-place in Shiloh,
  the tent where he had lived among men.
He gave up his power to captivity,
  his glory to the hands of the enemy.
He gave up his people to the sword,
  he burned hot against his own inheritance.
Fire burned up their youths,
  and their maidens remained unwed.
Their priests fell to the sword,
  and their widows died unmourned.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
  is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
The Lord brought them to his holy mountain.

Psalm 77 (78)
He chose the tribe of Judah and David his servant to be shepherd of Israel, his own possession.
The Lord awoke as a sleeper awakes,
  like a warrior fuddled with wine.
He attacked his foes from behind,
  he put them to everlasting shame.
He rejected the tents of Joseph,
  he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but the tribe of Judah he chose,
  and his beloved mountain of Zion.
He built his sanctuary as a high place,
  firm as the earth he had founded for ever.
He chose David for his servant
  and raised him up from his flocks.
He took him from following the pregnant ewes
  to be the shepherd of Jacob, his people,
  and of Israel, his inheritance.
He pastured them with a pure heart
  and led them with skilful hands.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
  is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
He chose the tribe of Judah and David his servant to be shepherd of Israel, his own possession.

He who lives by the truth comes to the light
and whatever he does is seen by all.

First ReadingExodus 3:1-20 ©
Moses’ vocation and the revelation of God’s Name
Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law priest of Midian.
  He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burnt up. ‘I must go and look at this strange sight,’ Moses said, ‘and see why the bush is not burnt.’ Now the Lord saw him go forward to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’ he said. ‘Here I am,’ Moses answered. ‘Come no nearer,’ he said. ‘Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,’ he said, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this Moses covered his face, afraid to look at God.
  And the Lord said, ‘I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow, the home of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. And now the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me, and I have witnessed the way in which the Egyptians oppress them, so come, I send you to Pharaoh to bring the sons of Israel, my people, out of Egypt.’
  Moses said to God, ‘Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ ‘I shall be with you,’ was the answer ‘and this is the sign by which you shall know that it is I who have sent you... After you have led the people out of Egypt, you are to offer worship to God on this mountain.’
  Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am. This’ he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.
  ‘Go and gather the elders of Israel together and tell them, “The Lord, the God of your fathers, has appeared to me, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; and he has said to me: I have visited you and seen all that the Egyptians are doing to you. And so I have resolved to bring you up out of Egypt where you are oppressed, into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land where milk and honey flow.” They will listen to your words, and with the elders of Israel you are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has come to meet us. Give us leave, then, to make a three days’ journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to the Lord our God.” For myself, knowing that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced by a mighty hand, I shall show my power and strike Egypt with all the wonders I am going to work there. After this he will let you go.’
Ex 3:14; Is 43:11
℟. God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM.* Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
℣. It is I, I, the Lord: no other can bring deliverance.* Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.

Second Reading
From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop
The friendship of God
Our Lord, the Word of God, first drew men to God as servants, but later he freed those made subject to him. He himself testified to this: I do not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you everything that I have learned from my Father. Friendship with God brings the gift of immortality to those who accept it.
  In the beginning God created Adam, not because he needed man, but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings. Not only before Adam but also before all creation, the Word was glorifying the Father in whom he dwelt, and was himself being glorified by the Father. The Word himself said: Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before the world was.
  Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Saviour is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illuminate the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened by the light. They add nothing to the light; rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light.
  The same is true of service to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers a benefit on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, but he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect and in need of nothing.
  The reason why God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful he desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God’s need of nothing is man’s need for communion with God.
  This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God. For this reason the Lord told his disciples: You did not choose me but I chose you. He meant that his disciples did not glorify him by following him, but in following the Son of God they were glorified by him. As he said: I wish that where I am they also may be, that they may see my glory.
℟. The Lord your God asks this of you, only this:* to fear the Lord your God, to love him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.
℣. This is the greatest and the first commandment:* to fear the Lord your God, to love him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.

Second Reading
From an account of the origin of the Servite Order
Let us praise famous men
There were seven men worthy of all our praise and veneration, whom our Lady brought into one community to form this order of hers and of her servants. They were like seven stars joined together to form a constellation.
  When I entered this order I found only one of the seven still alive, Brother Alexis, whom our Lady was pleased to preserve from death down to our own time so that we might listen to his account of the founding of the order. As I saw myself and observed at first hand, Brother Alexis led so good a life that all who met him were moved by the force of his example. Moreover, he was a living testimony to that special kind of religious perfection characteristic of that first community.
  But where did these men stand before they formed their own community? Let us consider this in four respects.
  First, as regards the Church. Some of them had never married, having vowed themselves to perpetual celibacy; some were married men at the time; some had lost their wives after marriage and now were widowers.
  Second, regarding their status in the city of Florence. They belonged to the merchant class and engaged in buying and selling the goods of this world. But once they found the pearl of great price, our order, they not only gave all they had to the poor but cheerfully offered themselves to God and our Lady in true and loyal service.
  Third, concerning their devotion and reverence to our Lady. In Florence there was an ancient guild dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Because of its age and the number and holiness of its members, both men and women, the guild had acquired a title of pre-eminence and was called the Major Guild of Our Blessed Lady. These seven men were devoted to our Lady and belonged to this guild before they established their own community.
  Fourth, as for their spiritual perfection. They loved God above all things and dedicated their whole lives to him by honouring him in their every thought, word and deed.
  But when by God’s inspiration and the special urging of our Lady they had firmly resolved to form a community together, they set in order everything that concerned their homes and families, left to their families what they needed and gave all the rest to the poor. Then they sought the advice of virtuous men of good judgement, and described their plans to them.
  They climbed the heights of Monte Senario and built on its summit a little house that would suit their purpose, and there they lived in common. As time passed, they began to realise that they were called not simply to sanctify themselves but to receive others into their community, and so increase the membership of this new order our Lady had inspired them to found. They recruited new members; some they accepted, and thus established our present order. In the beginning our Lady was the chief architect of this new order which was founded on the humility of its members, built up by their mutual love, and preserved by their poverty.
℟. They were all united, heart and soul;* no-one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.
℣. They ate their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and enjoying the good will of the people;* no-one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.

Let us pray.
Inspire us, Lord,
  with the great love the Seven Founders had for Mary, the Mother of God,
and as they drew the people to you by their devotion,
  so may we proclaim your love to all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.

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