Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and his sister,
Macrina, Deaconess, Teachers of the Faith, c.394 and c.379
Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint;
listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence;
let your eyes behold what is right.
Weigh my heart, examine me by night,
refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.
My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards;
I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments;
my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me;
incline your ear to me, and listen to my words.
Show me your marvellous loving-kindness,
O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
From the wicked who assault me,
from my enemies who surround me to take away my life.
They have closed their heart to pity and their mouth speaks proud things.
They press me hard, they surround me on every side,
watching how they may cast me to the ground,
Like a lion that is greedy for its prey,
like a young lion lurking in secret places.
Arise, Lord; confront them and cast them down;
deliver me from the wicked by your sword.
Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand from those whose portion in life is unending,
Whose bellies you fill with your treasure,
who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.
As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness;
when I awake and behold your likeness, I shall be satisfied.
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world.
In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens and runs to the very end again,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever;
the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold,
sweeter also than honey,
dripping from the honeycomb.
By them also is your servant taught and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins lest they get dominion over me;
so shall I be undefiled, and innocent of great offence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
But the children rebelled against me; they did not follow my statutes, and were not careful to observe my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live; they profaned my sabbaths.
Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand, and acted for the sake of my name, so that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, because they had not executed my ordinances, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their ancestors’ idols. Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live. I defiled them through their very gifts, in their offering up all their firstborn, in order that I might horrify them, so that they might know that I am the Lord.
Therefore, mortal, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: In this again your ancestors blasphemed me, by dealing treacherously with me. For when I had brought them into the land that I swore to give them, then wherever they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and presented the provocation of their offering; there they sent up their pleasing odours, and there they poured out their drink-offerings. (I said to them, What is the high place to which you go? So it is called Bamah to this day.) Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things? When you offer your gifts and make your children pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be consulted by you, O house of Israel? As I live, says the Lord God, I will not be consulted by you.
What is in your mind shall never happen—the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone.’
As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgement with you face to face. As I entered into judgement with your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgement with you, says the Lord God. I will make you pass under the staff, and will bring you within the bond of the covenant. I will purge out the rebels among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the land where they reside as aliens, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:Greetings.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
Lord of eternity, creator of all things,
in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us the way to resurrection
that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness:
may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina
press onwards in faith to your boundless love
and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.