The rubrics of this Breviary can be rather daunting at first, but they are soon mastered and one will be happily praying away at the canonical hours in no time, but I learned rather quickly that I could not continue to use this particular form of the Office. I found that I was disturbed by something that was assigned as part of the Office for Epiphany. The readings for the Third Nocturn of Matins on that day are drawn from a homily by St. Gregory the Great. The homily is on the text of Matthew 2.1, and talks of the contrast between faith and reason as manifested in the reception of Our Lord by the Jews and by the Gentiles. Here is the text of Lesson vii:
Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard from the Gospel how, when the King of heaven was born, an earthly king was troubled. For earthly greatness is brought to confusion when the might of heaven is made manifest. But let us ask a question: When the Redeemer was born, why was it that, to the shephers of Judaea, an Angel was sent to bring tidings thereof, whereas it was a star that led the Wise Men of the East to worship him? It would seem that the Jews, who had been hitherto under the governance of reason, received a revelation from a reasonable being, that is, an Angel; but that the Gentiles, who knew not the right use of reason, were brought to the Lord, not by a voice, but by a sign, that is, by a star. Hence Paul hath it: Prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. So the prophesying was given to them that believed and the sign to them that believed not.So far so good, and you've just gotta love that diction. But things take a rather dark turn in Lesson viii:
It is worthy of notice also, that to these same Gentiles the Redeemer, when he was of full age, was preached by his Apostles; whereas while he was as yet the little Child, and unable to use the organs of speech, he was shewn to them, not by the voice of Angels, but merely by the vision of a star. When he himself had begun to speak he was made known to us by speakers, but when he lay silent in the manger, by that silent testimony in the heaven. But whether we consider the signs which accompanied his birth or his death, this thing is wonderful, namely, the hardness of heart of Jewry, which would not believe in him either for prophesying or for miracles.Uh oh. Whenever I see that phrase "hardness of heart of Jewry", my skin begins to crawl. But it just gets worse in Lesson ix:
All things which he had made bore witness that their Maker was come. Let me reckon them after the manner of men. The heavens knew that he was God, and sent a star to shine over where he lay. The sea knew it, and bore him up when he walked upon it. The earth knew it, and quaked when he died. The sun knew it, and was darkened. The rocks and walls knew it, and were rent at the hour of his death. Hell knew it, and gave up the dead that were in it. And yet up to this very hour the hearts of unbelieving Jewry will not acknowledge that he, to whom all nature hath testified, is their God. yea, it is as though they are more hardened than the rocks, and refuse to be rent by repentance.Ouch. Even Hell itself has more sense than "unbelieving Jewry", it seems. After Matins on Epiphany a few years ago I put this Breviary on the shelf, and have not used it since, for the great beauty that it contains (and it contains very great beauty indeed) is spoiled by the blot and stain of ignorant bigotry.