Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (including I Vespers) - notes on the liturgy


I Vespers

The readings for the first Nocturn (and patristic commentary in the Second Nocturn) at Matins this Sunday continue with the Book of Job, and we are now up to Chapter 9.  The Magnificat antiphon for I Vespers refers to Job's steadfast response to his sufferings.

Lauds and Vespers of Sunday

The Gospel this week is Luke 14:1-11, which relates the story of Jesus dining with a group of Pharisees and discomforting them in debate, first on the question of whether it was lawful to heal someone on the sabbath, and then on the competition for the best seats at the table.  The Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons refer to the two discussions respectively.

The Collect

And you can find a useful discussion of the Collect for this week over at Fr Z.  Here's a taster:

"Tua nos, quaesumus, Domine, gratia
semper et praeveniat et sequatur,
ac bonis operibus iugiter praestet esse intentos.

This is elegance. This is a lovely prayer to sing. Latin’s flexibility, made possible by the inflection of the word endings, allows for amazing possibilities of word order. Latin permits rich variations in rhythm and conceptual nuances. For example, the wide separation of tua from gratia in the first line is a good example of the figure of speech called hyperbaton: unusual word order to produce a dramatic effect. It helps the prayer’s rhythm and emphasizes tua gratia. The use of conjunctions et and ac is very effective, as we shall see below....

Let’s drill into vocabulary. The adjective intentus, means “to stretch out or forth, extend” as well as “to strain or stretch towards, to extend.” Think of English “tend towards”. The packed Lewis & Short Dictionary states that intentus is also “to direct one’s thoughts or attention to.”

...Let’s nitpick some more. Our Collect has two adverbs, semper and iugiter. Semper is always “always”. Iugiter, however, means “always” in the sense of “continuously.” A iugum is a “yoke”, like that which yokes animals together. Iugum (English “juger”, a Roman unit for land measuring 28,800 square feet or 240 by 120 feet), is probably so named because it was plowed by yoked oxen. Moreover, Iugum was the name of the constellation Libra, the Latin for “scale, balance”. Ancient scales had a yoke-shaped bar. Thus, libra is also the Roman the weight measure for “pound”. Ever wonder why the English abbreviation for a pound is “lbs”?

The iugum was the infamous ancient symbol of defeat. The Romans would force the vanquished to pass under a yoke to symbolize that they had been subjugated. Variously, iugum also means a connection between mountains or the beam of a weaver’s loom or even the marriage bond.

Today’s adverb iugiter means “always”, in the continuous sense, because of the concept of yoking things together, bridging them, one after another in a unending chain. We get this same word in the famous prayer written by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) used at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament which is the Collect for Corpus Christi:

“O God, who bequeathed to us a memorial of Thy Passion under a wondrous sacrament, grant, we implore, that we may venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, in such a way as to sense within us constantly (iugiter) the fruit of Thy redemption.” "

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