Readings for the Office of Vigils (2 Year Cycle)

Year B: The First Week of Advent MONDAY

First Reading
Isaiah 1:21-27; 2:1-5

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.

How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Every one loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them.

Therefore the Lord says, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will vent my wrath on my enemies, and avenge myself on my foes. I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."

Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.


Second Reading
St Aelred: The Liturgical Sermons, 3.7-13

A reading from a sermon by St Aelred of Rievaulx

Let us take a look at ourselves and our city. Our way of life is a strongly fortified city surrounded on all sides by sound observances which, like walls and towers, rise up to prevent our enemy from deceiving us and enticing us away from our Emperor’s army. What a wall poverty is! How well it defends us against the pride of the world, against harmful and ruinous vanities and superfluities. What a tower silence is! It repels the assaults of contention, quarrelling, dissension, and detraction. What about obedience, humility, cheap clothing? What about a restricted diet? They are walls, they are towers against vices, against the attacks of our enemies. In this city we declare ourselves, not Romans, but angelic beings. For these observances demonstrate that we belong to the fellowship of the angels and are not among the slaves of the Romans. When we make profession of this way of life the words of Isaiah are fulfilled: They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles. Then he goes on: Nation shall not lift sword against nation nor ever again be trained for war.

Everyday this is being fulfilled literally, not in the treacherous nation of the reprobate that neither does, nor has, nor shall enjoy peace, but in the race of the just which is blessed. Do you not see men, nobles in the world, experiencing conversion to monastic life, laying down their spears and swords and earning their food by manual labour like peasants? But this is better, more obviously and more fully understood as being fulfilled in a spiritual way among every class, poor as well as rich, clerical as well as lay.

Let us think about the sword of which the Lord said: Everyone who takes up the sword willperish by the sword, and the ploughshares by which the earth of our heart is broken, in accordance with the text: Rend your hearts and not your garments.And we shall see at the present time countless persons changing their swords into ploughshares. The sword is wrongdoing. With this sword a person wounds himself before he does anyone else; as Saint Augustine says: ‘Every person who is a wrongdoer harms himself before he harms anyone else because, even before he injures the other person, by making up his mind to injure someone else he injures himself, slaying himself with the sword of wrongdoing. This is the sword of which the Lord says to Peter: Everyone who takes up the sword will perish by the sword.

How many there are, brothers, who at the present time are beating this sword of wrongdoing into the ploughshare of compunction! Many who have previously killed their soul with the sword of sin now rend their heart by the compunction of penance. Many today are also changing their spears - that is, the subtlety of their wits by which they used to drag many others down into sin with them - into sickles with which they are reaping a spiritual harvest so that they may come to meet the Lord bearing in their hands the sheaves of justice and salvation.