Patristic Lectionary – 25 November – St. Catherine of Alexandria; Thanksgiving (U.S.A.); Thursday before Advent

Patristic Lectionary – 25 November – St. Catherine of Alexandria; Thanksgiving (U.S.A.); Thursday before Advent

[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, this is a series of occasional selections from a two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings.  The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University).  Click here for the link to the lectionary.  R. M. Healey’s edition is also used if there are lacunae in the Durham edition.  Click here for the link to Healey’s formatting of the lectionary.]

[Image: Raphael, “The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila” (1514), Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.  The fresco depicts the meeting between Pope St. Leo the Great and Attila the Hun in 452.  Legend says Saints Peter and Paul appeared during the meeting, bearing (even brandishing?) swords, which caused Attila to decide against marching on Rome.  Throughout the Middle Ages, Gog and Magog were taken as symbols of invaders, including the Huns—as St. Ephrem suggests—as well as the Vikings, the Mongols, and so on.]

Ezekiel 38:14 – 39:10

A Vision of the Last Days

“Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, you will bestir yourself and come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army; you will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them? But on that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon every kind of terror against Gog, says the Lord GOD; every man’s sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples that are with him, torrential rains and hailstones, fire and brimstone. So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

“And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; and I will turn you about and drive you forward, and bring you up from the uttermost parts of the north, and lead you against the mountains of Israel; then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples that are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the wild beasts to be devoured. You shall fall in the open field; for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD. I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned any more; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is coming and it will be brought about, says the Lord GOD. That is the day of which I have spoken.

“Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go forth and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, handpikes and spears, and they will make fires of them for seven years; so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons; they will despoil those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, says the Lord GOD.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Sermon on Gog and Magog 1, 5-8, 12 (tr. M. F. Toal, D.D. [1963])

O Son, who of your own goodness humbled yourself and became man, because it pleased you, and who of your own will tasted death on a Cross on Golgotha, grant me, Lord, to speak of the end of the world and of the consummation that shall come upon the whole world. Men shall fall, one upon the other, peoples shall destroy one another, iniquity wax strong upon the face of the earth, and wickedness be multiplied in the world. Then the Divine Justice shall summon kings and the mightiest armies from beyond the gates of Alexander. Armies shall pass through them, numberless as the stars of heaven; dust like smoke ascends from the earth and obscures the sun, covering the air like a thick cloud as Ezekiel, the son of Busi, has prophesied.

The rumour has scarce arisen in a country that the Huns are coming, when they appear as if by magic, on every side and from everywhere. Their chariots fly like the wind between heaven and earth. Their arms flash terrible as lightnings. For these fearful Huns terrify the whole earth, which they cover like the waters in the days of Noah. They spread to the ends of the world and there is no one to withstand them. This is the great multitude of whom Ezekiel said: in the last days Gog and Magog shall burst forth and come from the land, and Gog and Magog shall come to the mount of Jerusalem to place their camp there.

Then Divine Justice shall call upon Michael, the Leader of the Hosts, and send him to destroy their camps, as the camps of Sennacherib. At the command, and with his mighty and terrible sword, the Angel shall go forth and destroy their armies in the twinkling of an eye. The bow of Gog, the evil king, shall fall from his left hand, and the arrows from his right; and his camp shall be wholly destroyed. Then the Lord from his glorious heaven shall set up his peace. And the kingdom of the Romans shall rise in place of this latter people, and establish its dominion upon the earth. But after iniquity shall have multiplied, and all creatures have become defiled, then Divine Justice shall appear and shall wholly destroy the people and the man of iniquity shall be revealed upon the earth.

Then leaping up, Gabriel and Michael, the leaders of the heavenly hosts, shall descend and restore the Saints to life. The Evil One, together with all his followers, shall be humiliated and the Angels shall thrust them down to Gehenna. A Throne shall be prepared, and the Son shall sit upon the right hand, and twelve seats shall be placed for the Twelve Apostles. The Angels shall sound their trumpets, and the dead shall rise from their graves. The just shall fly to heaven, and sinners shall be burned with fire. The martyrs shall fly to the bridal chambers, and the evil go out into darkness. But Christ shall reign forever, and he shall be King unto generations of generations. To him be glory; and upon us be his mercy, for all time. Amen, amen.

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