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Of the Octave (Ascension)

From a Sermon of St. Gregory of Nyssa: 

The festival which we are now keeping is full of glory. But the prophet David hath made it more glorious still by the Psalms, wherein he stirreth us up to such joyful enthusiasm. Sometimes this noble prophet seemeth rapt out of himself, like as though he were no longer held back by the weight of his body; as, for example, when he taketh his place amongst the very powers of heaven, and telleth us what they said when they ascended heavenward with the Lord.  In this Psalm we hear the angels that are the Lord's bodyguard crying out in tones of command to the angels that do occupy themselves with the affairs of this earthly sphere, the same to whom he was entrusted when he was born into this earthly life. Here the order which they give:  Lift up your gates, O ye hears (that is, the angels in the heavenly sphere that are the heads of the realm of nature), and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.

Now he that containeth all things in himself, wherever he may be, is pleased to adapt his own measure to the comprehension of them that receive him.  For not only was he made man Man amongst men, but when amongst Angels, he humbleth himself to their way of doing things. On this wise then, the angelic gatekeepers demand of their fellow angels of the Lord's bodyguard: Who is this King of glory? And the answer cometh:  The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle. By which he is shown to be the One who had fought against him that held mankind in bondage, yea, and had overthrown him, even him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. In these words, then, was declared that for mankind peace and liberty had been won. Whereat the angelic bodyguard again demandeth: Lift up your heads, O ye gates of nature, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors of heaven, and the King of glory shall come in.

Then do the keepers run to the gates, and unfold the doors, that he may enter in, and take again the glory that he had with them before. But when they see him, clad in the likeness of sinful flesh, they know him not, for he is red in his apparel, because he hath trodden alone the winepress of human pain, wherefrom the blood is sprinkled upon his garments. Therefore they cry at once again to their fellows that beareth him company: Who is this King of glory? And that same do no more make answer with the words: The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle: but rather, they proclaim: Even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. And in these words is indicated him whose own are become all the kingdoms of the world; the Lord who hath made himself the head of all things; the Lord who hath made all things new: for this same is indeed the King of glory.

Excerpt from The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, page 641.

Additional Information:

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.

Ordo Kalendars are available from the Anglican Parishes Association Book Publisher.