Vigils Reading – Weekday

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Vigils Reading – Weekday

November 17, 2022




A Commentary on the Book of Ezra by St Bede [1]


One should note the devotion of the people reformed after he captivity; when the feast that had been determined by the Lord’s law had been duly completed, they immediately came together of their own accord with fasting and with repentance, and they diligently carried out what on the days of sacred readings and rejoicing they had heard must be done by separating themselves in mind and body from fellowship of those who were proven to be alienated from the Lord and his worship, lest through the association and examples of the wicked they should again fall into the evils of captivity and hardship that, they discerned, they had just at that time barely escaped after long revolutions of times and ages. And what are we tp reflect on mystically about these matters except that, following the examples of such people, whatever we have learned in a public meeting or reading should be done, we should reflect on again with mutual discussion among ourselves. And we should stretch out with careful scrutiny the ways we can fulfill each day with the reproof of our heart and body.

And they rose up to stand, and they read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God four times a day and four times a night they confessed and prayed to the Lord their Hod. For who would not be amazed that such a great people had such extraordinary concern for devotion that four times a day – that is, at the first hour of the morning, the third, the sixth and the ninth, when time was to be made for prayer and psalmody – they gave themselves over to ,listening to the divine law in order to renew their mind in God and come back purer and more devout for imploring his mercy but also four times a night they should shake off their sleepiness and get up in order to confess their sins and to beg pardon. From this example, I think, a most beautiful custom has developed in the church, namely, that through each hour of daily psalmody a passage from the Old or New Testament is recited by heart for all to hear, and thus strengthened by the words of the apostles or prophets, they bend their knees to perseverance in prayer, but also at night when people cease from the labors of doing good works, they turn willing ears to listen to divine readings.

And Ezra said, “You yourself, O Lord, you alone made the heaven, the heaven of heavens, and all their host, the earth and all that is in it,” and so on up until the end of his prayer or confession. It was said above they were confessing their sins and the sins of their ancestors; here, when Ezra prays, it is shown more fully how this was done. But whereas he says at the end, “Because of all this, therefore we ourselves are making a covenant and writing it down, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are signing it. : and so on; it is shown more clearly with what gracious devotion all the various persons made a new assembly after the feast of the Tabernacles, namely, so that after purging themselves with resolved purpose from the contagions of their wrongdoings, they might unite themselves to the divine covenant and confirm its terms in word and writing. Thus separated from association of the ungodly, they would more confidently complete the word they began long ago, that is, to choose citizens from among the devout who were suitable to rebuild the city.

[1] Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture – Old Testament – vol. V – InterVarsity Press –Downers Grove, IL –                                                                                                                                                                                                            2008 – pg 359


November 17, 2022
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