December 20

Office of Readings

The first part of the Office is from the current weekday of Advent:

Week 3

Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings

Week 4

Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings
Office of Readings

Readings of the 20th of December

A voice is heard, crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.
- Make straight the path of our God.


From the book of the prophet Isaiah           48:1-11

God alone is the Lord of the future

Hear this, O house of Jacob
  called by the name Israel,
  sprung from the stock of Judah,
You who swear by the name of the Lord
  and invoke the God of Israel
  without sincerity or justice,
Though you are named after the holy city
  and rely on the God of Israel,
  whose name is the Lord of hosts.

Things of the past I foretold long ago,
  they went forth from my mouth,
I let you hear of them;
  then suddenly I took action
  and they came to be.
Because I know that you are stubborn
  and that your neck is an iron sinew
  and your forehead bronze,
I foretold them to you of old;
  before they took place I let you hear of them,
That you might not say, "My idol did them,
  my statue, my molten image commanded them."
Now that you have heard, look at all this;
  must you not admit it?

From now on I announce new things to you,
  hidden events of which you knew not.
Now, not long ago, they are brought into being,
  and beforetime you did not hear of them,
  so that you cannot claim to have known them;
You neither heard nor knew,
  they did not reach your ears beforehand.
Yes, I know you are utterly treacherous,
  a rebel you were called from birth.

For the sake of my name I restrain my anger,
  for the sake of my renown I hold it back from you,
  lest I should destroy you.
See, I have refined you like silver,
  tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my sake, for my own sake, I do this;
  why should I suffer profanation?
  My glory I will not give to another.

RESPONSORY           Isaiah 48:10, 11; 54:8
I have tried you in the furnace of distress.
For me, for my own sake, I do this, that I be not blasphemed.
- I will not give my glory to another.

In a moment of indignation I hid my face from you for a little while,
then suddenly I took action and they came to be;
but in my everlasting mercy I had compassion on you. - I will not give my glory to another.


From a homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother by Saint Bernard, abbot
(Hom. 4:8-9; Opera omnia, Edit Cisterc 4. [1966], 53-54)

The whole world awaits Mary's reply

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

RESPONSORY           See Luke 1:31,42
Receive, O Virgin Mary, the word
which the Lord has made known to you by the message of the angel:
You will conceive and give birth to a son, both God and man,
- and you will be called blessed among women.

A virgin, you will indeed bear a son;
ever chaste and holy, you will be the mother of our Savior.
- And you will be called blessed among women.

O God, eternal majesty, whose ineffable Word
the immaculate Virgin received through the message of an Angel
and so became the dwelling-place of divinity,
filled with the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may in humility hold fast to your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
- And give him thanks.

The English translation of Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, Gospel Verses from Lectionary for Mass 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL); the English translation of Antiphons, Invitatories, Responsories, Intercessions, Psalm 95, the Canticle of the Lamb, Psalm Prayers, Non-Biblical Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours 1973, 1974, 1975, ICEL; excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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