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Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day Propers, Collect, and Lesson

A Homily by Saint Augustine the Bishop

All Saints
If it be asked what is signified by the mountain, the same may well be understood to indicate the higher and greater commandments of righteousness, since those that were given to the Jews are the lesser. In an excellent order of dispensations, the one and the same God gave, by his servants the holy Prophets, his lesser commandments unto the people that still had need to be bound by fear ; but by his Son he gave the greater to the people whom it was expedient now to set free by love. But whether it be the lesser to the lesser, or the greater to the greater, all are alike the gift of him who alone knowest what is in each epoch the seasonable medicine for mankind.
Need we than be surprised that the greater commandments were given for the kingdom of heaven, and the lesser for a commonwealth on earth? For both are gifts of that one God who is the Maker alike of heaven and of earth. The higher and greater righteousness is that whereof the Psalmist saith: Thy righteousness standeth like the strong mountains. And this may be taken mystically to mean that the teaching given from the mountain is from that Master who alone can give teaching of such strength. In this connection note how the Gospel saith : And when he was set, (which posture indicateth the majesty of his instructions,) his disciples came unto him. That is , they came nearer in the flesh, to hear those precepts by the fulfillment of which they should be nearer in spirit. Then saith the Gospel : He opened his mouth, and taught them. These words : He opened his mouth : appear to e redundant. It may be that this more extended introduction is adopted on account of the exceptional length of the discourse to follow. But it may also be that these words are not really redundant, but the pointed declaration that he now opened his own mouth, who under the old Law, had been used to open the mouths of the Prophets.
And then what saith he? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The Book of the Preacher saith, concerning lusting after temporal things : The wandering of the desire is vanity and vexation of spirit. [Or, as it may be rendered, Vanity and striving after wind.] For the wandering desires which bestir the spirit into vexation do but result in rashness and pride. We are used to say of proud people that they are men of high spirit. And we say well, since one of the words for Wind in Latin is Spirit. [That is, Spiritus, which is the word for Breathing or Blowing.] It is so used, for instance, by the Psalmist : Fire and hail, snow and vapours, Wind and storm : [where the word Wind in Latin is Spiritus]. Who hath not heard the proud spoken of as puffed up, as if they were blown out with wind? Hence also the Apostle saith : Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. By the poor in spirit, who are here called blessed, are rightly to be understood such as are lowly and fear God, that is, have not minds puffed up with windy vanity.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee; the goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee; the white-robed army of Martyrs praise thee; * all thy Saints and Elect with one voice do acknowledge thee, O blessed Trinity, One God.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
O how glorious is the kingdom wherein all the Saints rejoice with Christ; * arrayed in white robes they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth.
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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