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Octave of Corpus Christi

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Editor’s note: to promote the observance of the traditional Corpus Christi Octave as a part of our Crusade of Eucharistic Reparation, we will publish each day the Patristic readings from the Octave, as contained in pre-55 breviaries. The following readings and responsories come from the Roman office as promulgated after Trent in 1570.

Nocturn II

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May God the Father Omnipotent, be to us merciful and clement. Amen.

Reading 4
From the Sermons of the Blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem Cyril.
Catechetical Lectures, 40
The teaching of the blessed Paul seemeth of itself enough instruction for you concerning those Divine Mysteries, whereof, if ye be made worthy, ye become therein, so to speak, of one Body and of one Blood with Christ. Paul saith that our Lord Jesus Christ, “the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread and, when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it unto His disciples, saying, ‘Take, eat this is My Body.’ After the same manner also He took the cup,” and gave thanks, “and said: ‘Take this, and drink it this is My Blood.’” Since therefore it is He Who hath definitely stated and said, touching that Bread “This is My Body”–who will dare any longer to doubt that It is so? And since it is He again that hath absolutely affirmed and said, touching that cup “This is My Blood,” who is he that will doubt any longer, or say that It is not His Blood?
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blest it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said:
* Take, eat this is My Body.
V. The men of my tabernacle said: O that we had of his flesh, we cannot be satisfied.
R. Take, eat this is My Body.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May Christ to all His people give, for ever in His sight to live. Amen.

Reading 5
At the beginning of His ministry, at Cana in Galilee, the Lord turned water into wine, a thing which hath some qualities in common with blood and shall we deem Him less worthy that we should believe Him, when He turneth wine into Blood. When He was bidden to that marriage wherein twain were made one flesh, He did the beginning of His miracles to the amazement of all men; and shall we less surely hold that He hath given us His Body and Blood to be our meat and drink, or take them with weaker faith that they are indeed His Body and His Blood. Under the appearance of bread He giveth unto us His Body, and, under the appearance of wine, His Blood and when thou shalt come to receive, it is on the Body and Blood of Christ that thou wilt feed, being made a partaker of His Body and of His Blood. Thus indeed it is that we become Christbearers, namely, by carrying about Christ in our bodies, when we receive His Body and Blood into our own frames. Thus, as the blessed Peter hath it, we are “partakers of the Divine nature” (2 Pet. i. 4).
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. Jesus took the cup, after supper, saying: This cup is the New Testament in My Blood.
* This do in remembrance of Me.
V. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
R. This do in remembrance of Me.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May the Spirit’s fire Divine in our hearts enkindled shine. Amen.

Reading 6
Christ once said, in conversing with the Jews “Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you” (John iv, 53). But they took not spiritually that which He said, and “from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (66). They thought that He had bidden them to eat flesh. The Old Testament also had Shewbread, but this Old Testament bread was now to have an end. The bread of the New Testament is “the Bread Which cometh down from heaven” (50), the cup of the New Testament, the Cup of Salvation, that Bread and that Cup Which hallow both souls and bodies. Wherefore I will have thee to understand that the Bread and Wine whereunto thou art to come, are not mere common bread or mere common wine, for they are the Body and the Blood of Christ. Even if thy senses do indeed deny this fact, yet let faith make thee right sure of it. Judge not the Thing by the taste thereof, but let faith assure thee beyond all doubt that thou art partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
* This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
V. I am the living Bread Which came down from heaven if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.
R. This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. This is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Nocturn III

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May the Gospel’s holy lection be our safety and protection. Amen.

Reading 7
From the Holy Gospel according to John
John 6:56-59
At that time Jesus said unto the multitudes of the Jews My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. And so on.

Homily by St. Cyril, Pope of Alexandria.
Book iv. on John, ch. 17
“He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood,” saith the Lord, “dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” If a man take two pieces of wax and melt them, and pour the one into the other, they necessarily mingle. So also, he that receiveth the Body and Blood of the Lord doth become so joined with the Lord that he is to be found in Christ and Christ in him. Another comparison thou wilt find in Matthew. The Lord there saith “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, [till the whole was leavened,]” (xiii. 33) because, as Paul saith, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. v. 9). So also doth a little of this Blessing draw the whole man unto Itself, and fill him with Its grace and thus doth Christ dwell in us, and we in Christ.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood,
* Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
V. What nation is there so great, who hath gods so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is to us
R. Dwelleth in Me, and I in him.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. God’s most mighty strength alway be His people’s staff and stay. Amen.

Reading 8
As for ourselves, if we would win life everlasting; if we would that the Giver of immortality should dwell in us, let us run freely to receive this Blessing, and let us beware that the devil succeed not in laying a stumbling-block in our way, in the shape of a mistaken reverence. Thou rightly sayest, and we know well, how that it is written, “Whosoever shall eat this Bread and drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself” (Cor xi. 27, 29). I therefore examine myself and find myself unworthy. And I ask thee, who citest these words to me, who shall ever be found worthy, when wilt thou be such an one as may be worthy to be offered to Christ if by sin thou art unworthy, and thou ceasest not to sin, (for, as the Psalmist hath it, “Who can understand his errors?” (Ps. xviii13)? Then shalt thou for ever lack this means of life and sanctification.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father,
* So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
V. With the bread of life and understanding hath the Lord fed him.
R. So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May He that is the Angels’ King to that high realm His people bring. Amen.

Reading 9
Therefore, I counsel thee to betake thee to godly thoughts, and to live carefully and holily, and so to receive that Blessing, a Blessing which, believe me, doth banish, not death only, but all diseases likewise. For when Christ dwelleth in us, He stilleth the law of death in our members, which warreth against the law of our mind (Rom. vii. 23). He giveth strength to godliness, He turneth to calm the turbulent surging of our mind, He cureth them which are sick, He raiseth up them which are fallen, and, like the Good Shepherd, Which giveth His life for the sheep, He prevaileth that the sheep perish not.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

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