The Little Office Of Our Lady – At None: The Ninth Hour, pt 3. By E. L. Taunton.


 Title.A Song of Degrees.


Tomasi : That Christ bestows eternal blessedness on them that fear Him. The voice of the Prophet touching Christ and the Church. This, the ninth step, declares, under the type of a wife, that all who fear the Lord flourish about the table of the Altar, and that they see children's children of their own doctrine and example, and peace upon Israel in heaven is their end. The voice of all that fear the Lord.

Venerable Bede : In the first paragraph the Prophet, under certain figures, counts up the blessings of them that fear the Lord, that he may kindle the minds of the devout with the force of heavenly reward. In the second he blesses them that they may receive eternal joys ; lest every one should be afraid of this most sweet joy.

(1) Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in His ways.

St. Hilary remarks that where the Fear of the Lord is mentioned in Holy Writ it is never set by itself, as though sufficing for the consummation of our faith ; but it always has something added or prefixed by which we can estimate its due proportion of perfection. Of the Fear of the Lord, one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, it is written : Come ye children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the Fear of the Lord [Ps. xxxv. II.]. Therefore, it is something we ought to learn. Our Fear of God, says St. Hilary, is to be pure and filial and is to be found in our love of Him. Love is the outcome of that awe, a love which makes us walk in His ways. And although there be only one Way, Christ Himself, yet here many ways are spoken of, to show us that entrance is easy and not limited to any particular calling or mode of serving God. Nevertheless all these subordinate ways are reducible to two; for all the ways of the Lord are Mercy and Truth [Ps. xxv. 10.]; both of which must be followed together, because Mercy without Truth leads to laxity, and Truth without Mercy degenerates into sternness.

(2) For thou shall eat the labours of thy hands ; happy art thou, and it shall be well with thee.

There is a fourfold literal sense here : Thou shalt live by honest, peaceful labour ; not by rapine and violence, nor yet indolently and luxuriously ; thou shalt eat, and not as a miser, stint thyself and others ; thy crops shall not be blighted, but shall bring forth abundantly; and no enemy shall destroy or carry off thy harvest.

Thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands. But he who hates labour, does not eat of it, nor can he say: My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work [John iv. 34.]. On the other hand, he to whom such labour is a delight does not merely look forward in hope to the future fruits or rewards of labour, but even, here and now, finds sustenance and pleasure in toiling for God ; so it is well with him in this world, even amidst all its cares and troubles, and it shall be well with him in that which is to come. Thus the Carthusian. There is in this verse also a reference to the Blessed Eucharist. Jesus, the great High Priest, is the One who consecrates at Mass. The Blessed Sacrament does indeed come from the work of His hands, and He is the Head of that Mystical Body which eats and drinks of Him daily therein; as He will be, in another fashion, the food of His elect in heaven : then shall be fulfilled that prophecy which Isaias spoke of Him : He shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied [liii. II.].

(3) Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine: upon the sides of thy house.

The whole figure St. Augustine takes of the Church as the Bride of Christ, an interpretation enforced by Our Lord's styling Himself the Vine [John xv. I.], Close to Him, to His sides, those sacred walls of His human Body, His Bride clings ; there only can she flourish and bring forth fruit. Turning from the Head to the members, we find other interpretations. The wife is our bodily frame, subjected with all its affections to the Reason, and bearing, trained against the walls of thought and action, abundant fruit of holy aspirations and good work. Another view is that Wisdom is meant, as we read : I loved her and sought her out from youth, I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty [Wisdom viii. 2.]. This last is St. Hilary's.

(4) Thy children like olive plants: round about thy table.

The olive is the type of prosperity, because evergreen, strong, and fruitful. Round about, Bellarmine explains as all in their father's sight and as being ready to wait on him for any service. These earthly children are figures, says St. Augustine, of the spiritual children of the Church, who was herself born from the side of her dying Spouse; fruitful, peaceful, gathered round God's Altar to feed there, set about the table of Holy Writ to taste of the sweets it furnishes to to them. And observe that we have in the inner courts of the House Mystical both the vine and the olive; because, as Cassiodorus says, oil and wine are needful to be poured into the wounds of those whom the Good Samaritan brings to be tended there ; the strength and severity of the Old Testament, the softness and tenderness of the New. So, too, says the Carmelite, in those goods works of ours which are, as it were, our children, Justice and Mercy shall meet, and they should be gathered round Him Who is Himself the Table of the Lord's House, looking to Him only and waiting to minister to His wishes.

(5) Lo, thus shall a man be blessed: that feareth the Lord.

(6) The Lord from out of Sion bless thee : and mayest thou see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

Here again we have the contrast between Sion, the Church Militant, and Jerusalem, the Church Triumphant. God shall so keep thee with the grace and strength stored up in His Church on earth for all the wants of every day of our life, that thou shalt overcome all enemies and obstacles in thy way and attain to the unending joys of Jerusalem which is above. Thus the Carthusian. And note, we are to seek God's blessing from the Church. This is His covenanted way. It is therefore wisdom to put ourselves in harmony with her practice, to make her prayers our prayer, and to do her work in her own way.

(7) And thou shalt see the children of thy children : peace upon Israel.

We shall one day, in heaven at least, see the fruit of our good works. For nothing done for God goes without its effect. And peace upon Israel, the crowning joy of the Beatific Vision, when, after we have ceased to wrestle as Jacob and have become the Israel of God, we shall see Him Who is our Peace, face to face.


Glory be to the Father Who blesses us out of Sion ; Glory to the Son Who feeds us around His Table ; Glory to the Holy Ghost the Giver of Peace upon Israel.

From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907