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Centurio Epistula - Voting Guide

In the Gospel appointed for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, the people observing Jesus healing the deaf mute said of him, "he hath done all things well" [Mk 7:37]. Jesus set the standard for us in doing Good for he alone was "Good" [Mt 19:17]. Over a century ago, Charles M. Sheldon wrote a novel "In His Steps" encouraging Christians to follow Jesus bearing good fruit after the model of Jesus. The question posed is, "What would Jesus do?, and What would Jesus have me do?"

As the elections in the United States approach, U.S. Centurions will have the opportunity to ask these questions when they go to vote. St. Paul encouraged us to exercise good citizenship, and Jesus told us to "let your light so shine before men, that they may see you good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." [Mt 5:16]. Our vote is secret so that no one may see the work in the ballot; however Jesus sees not only the vote, but what is in our hearts. All can see the result of the collective work by the people in election of a certain candidate.

Catholic Answers, has published a Voters Guide. Although not approved by the American Roman Catholic bishops, it is being widely distributed. In it they list five areas of concern that are related to the sanctity of life and the sacrament of marriage. I believe all orthodox Christians should be concerned with these issues. The guide says, "Catholics have a moral obligation to promote the common good through the exercise of their voting privileges. It is not just civil authorities who have responsibility for a country. Service of the common good requires citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community . This means citizens should participate in the political process at the ballot box.

I encourage all Centurions to vote in their local and national elections, and to consider each candidate's stand on all issues that are important to the Church Militant. In voting, keep in mind our motto: Fear God and do what is right, and the words of St. James, "faith, if it hath no works is dead [and] him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" [James 2:17 and 4:17].


Centurio Epistula - Truth of our Faith

On August 20th I blogged: "No other gods but me" and said, "The laboratory determines outcomes very well, it does not covey truth or values - that is something that man must try to discern. He normally conveys truth and value in the stories and myths of his culture - as he listens to that small voice that speaks the language of truth and justice, love and hate"

In continuing to consider our culture's other gods: and how we convey and can prove the truth of our faith, I commend the excellent article The Proof of Truth: Challenging the Criteria for Truth by T.M. Moore

The main idea that I pulled from his article was the failure of modern rationalism and post-modern approaches for society. He says: "For the clear teaching of Scripture, as we see it, for example, in John's second epistle, is that love is the proof and fruit of truth. We will know that we have achieved truth, and that it abides in us, when the fruit of love is consistently evident in our lives, beginning in our relationships with one another in the Body of Christ." As the old cliche says, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

It so happens that lessons for today for the Feast of St. Bartholomew reinforce Rev. Moore's article. In St. Luke xxii. 24 , Jesus instructs the disciples on the correct relationship with one another, following his example of loving service. In Acts v. 12, we hear how the evidence of that relationship served to prove the faith and attracted the multitudes.

Saint Bartholomew - 24 August


Today, 24 August, the Church remembers the Apostle Bartholomew. Ancient tradition has it that Bartholomew "Son of Tolmai" was flayed alive at Albanopolis in Armenia. Eusebius reported that when Pantaenus of Alexandria visited India between 150 and 200 he found there Matthew's Gospel that had been left by Bartholomew

continued Lessons & Homily

The Martydom of St. Bartholomew, Ribera 1632


Centurio Epistula - Reality of Evil

Recommend the article Evil and the Anarchy-Repression Continuum by Jay Bryant. Mr Bryant writes:

The leading modern authority on evil, author and Time Magazine writer Lance Morrow, notes that "many people do not believe evil exists," and echoes Conquest in saying, "The children of the Enlightenment sometimes have an inadequate understanding of the possibilities of the Endarkenment." He believes it is "fatuous" to deny the existence of evil, cautioning also against tossing the word around irresponsibly.

Along with this "enlightenment" on evil, is of course the notion that there is no devil. It's proponents are not limited to those outside the Church. I've been with clergy holding masters in theology who tell their congregations that there is no evil, no devil, no hell.

As Christians we should never doubt the existence of evil. In the Lord's prayer, we ask God to "deliver us from evil" or as the NRSV says, "rescue us from the evil one." This prayer should be part of every Christian's daily prayer life and is part of the Order's recommended Devotion. Early Christian Centurions would have prayed the Lord's Prayer three times daily [Didache 8]. It is part of the Daily Office and the Holy Eucharist.

Finally, as Lance Morrow points out, we must take care in using word to label people or things as evil. Remember always the IX Commandment.


Centurio Epistula - Just War and Chivalry

CS Lewis said, If the chivalrous character is not espoused by the Church and acquired in the military, it will likely not be acquired at all, and if there are no chivalrous soldiers, then no war - however just its cause - can be fought justly.

I recommend the article: The Problem of War: C. S. Lewis on Pacifism, War & the Christian Warrior by Darrell Cole

Mr. Cole cites many of Lewis' writings as he comments on Lewis' ideas about war and the warrior. He addresses such issues as the failure of pacifism, chivalry, liberal humanism, Christian witness, and the good war. The article is timely considering we are in the midst of a new type of warfare as we face global terrorism that can strike anywhere, anytime, and has been defined by the terrorist largely along cultural and religious lines. There is a real need for our soldiers to display and exercise chivalry given the nature of the engagements - a fact that was brought into forefront with the treatment of prisoners by US Military Police and Intelligence Officers.

The centurions of the New Testament, to whose example the Order of Centurions is devoted, exemplified the essence of chivalry. The Order, as part of the Church Militant, does indeed espouse the chivalrous character of these centurions and their successors throughout the history of the Church.

I bid your prayers for the chaplains of our armed forces who represent the Church before our warriors, and must convey the ideas of just war and a soldier's responsibility for conduct as Christian Warriors. Please pass this along to any chaplains and warriors who might benefit from Mr. Coles' article.


No other gods but me ...

In the Order of Centurions, our Vow calls for us to endeavor to follow the Ten Commandments and the Summary of the Law. Part of the recommend Devotional Liturgy is the Decalogue: The Ten Commandments. The First Commandment says: I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods but me.

I recommend you read of this timely article by Reverend Mark H. Creech entitled The Inevitable Result of Secular Humanism.

Now most people today don't seem concerned very much about the First Commandment, they don't think it applies to them. The Second Commandment is related to the First. It tells people that they shall not make any idols for themselves. We don't often see, in our modern culture, the local silversmith doing a thriving business on household idols for folks to worship. So where is the problem?


I think of these as the Unholy Trinity. They are interrelated concepts that man has glorified and worships. He believes the unholy trinity provides the ultimate truth. Step into any biology classroom. The Theory of Evolution is taught as fact that brooks no competition from deists. We have a culture that has transferred this theory into a belief that man’s values and conduct evolve toward some greater good while at the same time denying that there is any "greater good." Modern man worships the unholy trinity in place of God. It isn’t limited to the pagans. One may hear the mantra from the pulpit on any given Sunday morning in many churches. There is more faith in the scientific lab, political dealings, or social action, to solve the problems of world than there is in God's providence. When modern man embraces the unholy trinity as the end-all, the ultimate truth, he makes it his new god. He puts his trust in mankind. The Scriptures are replete with the folly of man trusting in his own ways, and they begin in the beginning when Eve was beguiled into believing that she could be like God - that she could know what God knows - that she would decide good and evil. We have several generations that have been beguiled in the belief that secular humanism, rationalism, relativity, and scientific “proof” will provide all the answers for us, and find all the cures. Part of the fault is as old as religion itself. Science is the new magic which has always had its worshippers. Part of the fault lies in generalizing. What works well for proving scientific theories, through the scientific method, does not work well for governing our relationships and values. Albert Einstien reminded us that "Relativity applies to physics, not ethics" The laboratory determines outcomes very well, it does not covey truth or values - that is something that man must try to discern. He normally conveys truth an value in the stories and myths of his culture - as he listens to that small voice that speaks the language of truth and justice, love and hate. Social theory, and its bed-partner psychology, have engendered social experimentation in my country. Its results are often disappointing as measured by such indicators as abortion, illegitimacy, divorce, unemployment, convictions, etc.( see the article A painful anniversary by Thomas Sowell.)

We are assaulted with a media that is intent on replacing the one true God with another god as well - HEDONISM - the pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.. Shows like Nip/Tuck continually push the envelope of to disparage traditional morals and promote hedonism. In one episode the main character said, "Don't you get it? There's nothing to believe in anymore." We have a society where traditional Christian values have been turned upside down, and the remnant of those who hold God as Sovereign grows smaller daily. What shall we do? "The Order was established as an association of Christians to resist the corruption and error found in the world … and encourage members to live by the plain Word of Scripture" May God grant us success!

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Pray for Kings

In the Order of Centurions, our Rule calls for us to pray. We are called specifically to offer prayers for kings (make that "leaders" in most countries today).

In the Order's Eucharistic Liturgy, praying for the World and its leaders is the first of the biddings in accordance with Paul's exhortation: Saint Paul instructing Timothy said, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." [1 Ti 2:1-6]

We in the US are of course called to offer up intercessory prayers for our President - whomever he may be at the time - regardless of party! Currently that is George W. Bush, a man who takes a lot of criticism for his religion.

( )You might find the interview with Emily Shaheen about her new book God and George W. Bush interesting. In one response Ms Shaheen says, "I hope to convince people that Bush’s faith is nothing to fear. He is no more devout than the vast majority of our presidents, and he is a far better human being with his faith than without it. Bush subscribes to what Terry Eastland of The Weekly Standard calls a Love Thy Neighbor theology. Jesus constantly spoke of love and called the love commandment the greatest commandment. Bush constantly cites the commandment Love thy neighbor as thyself as proof that we should tolerate all people and all faiths. No President EVER has spoken so warmly of Islam, even before September 11, 2001! "

The Love thy neighbor as thyself commandment, to which she refers, is part of the Summary of the Law cited by Jesus and declared the second greatest commandment. It is also part of the Centurion's Rule. She also cites many other presidents and candidates, of both parties, concerning their religious beliefs.

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Rational Denial of Transgression - A Legalism

A critic of Christian doctrine confuses religion with ethnicity by
Gene Edward Veith

Mr. Veith says,

"Ironically, those who insist on how good they are - not just
pro-abortionists and gays but corrupt politicians, shady businessmen,
cheating spouses, porn fans, and everyday devotees of gossip,
viciousness, lies, cruelty, anger, envy, pride - are exhibiting the
trait of self-righteousness. They deal with their sins by denying that
they are sins, ending up just as legalistic as the most self-righteous

Notice that he makes his list of transgressors broad enough so that no
one should feel left out. Who has not experienced unjustified anger or entertained gossip at some point? Is there anyone who never thought "fool" of another at some time? All these mental states are included by our Lord of violations of the law. If we tend to rationalize these away as not being sins, then Veith says we are being leagalistic.

The 1928 Prayer book called for Daily Morning Prayer in which one would confess their sins, and should not "dissemble" them. This is pricisely what Veith addresses. Dissemble means to disguise or conceal the real nature of. Unfortnuately, those words and concepts are little used today. It is good that Mr. Veith refreshes our collective memory.

Primus Pilus

Centurio Epistula - Witness

Influence or Size? Why World-Changing Churches Look So Different: An attitude change among church leaders is sweeping through the Church.

The purpose of our Order includes WITNESS. The above article discusses how churches may witness Christ by becoming involved in their local communities.

The approach of the article is optimistic. It reminds us that we are to be engaged in the world. It also reminds us of the success of the Gospel in our time (for example in Africa where the growth of the Church has been phenomenal).

Remember the words of St. Francis: "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words."


Centurio Epistula - Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration has been celebrated in the East since the fourth century in remembrance of the occasion in the Gospel account when Jesus' appearance was gloriously transformed. That day on a mountaintop he stood in the company of two departed saints - Moses and Elias - whose appearance was also glorious. That day his Father in heaven appeared, gave witness to his Son, and commanded us to "hear him."
read on:

A great resource on the web with some very nice Icons is this essay:
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE SKÉNÉ ENTITLED: "The Skéné — A Universal Symbol of the Divine Presence:


Constantine's Army Prayer

Emperor Constantine ca 320

We know Thou art God alone;

we recognize in Thee our king.

We call on Thee for aid.

From thee we receive victory,

through thee we are made greater than our enemies.

We recognize thy grace in present blessings

and hope on Thee for the future.

We all beseech Thee, we implore Thee

to preserve our king Constantine

and his pious sons safe and victorious to the end or our days.

Constantine, the first Christian ruler - emperor of the Roman Empire, encouraged his troops to adopt Christianity. He made Sunday a day of rest and requested his soldiers to say this prayer. Whenever in the field with his legions, Constantine set up a portable chapel. He prayed regularly, and before major engagements. He had 50 chosen legionaries as the color guard around the Labarum (a golden spear with a crosspiece forming a cross, from which hung a purple cloth with the images of himself and his sons, surmounted with a golden wreath and the chi-rho). Constantine's military brilliance and devotion to God inspired his legions to victory after victory over pagan forces beginning at Milvian Bridge outside of Rome in October 312 until his death.

source MacMullen, Ramsey; Contantine, 1969

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The Word of a Warrior

A Centurion Salute to Jenny Rosania and the In Touch Ministries for a good article, The Word of a Warrior, on the Centurion at Calvary. Her meditation is thought provoking. The site also has a nice watercolor image of the Centurion looking upward. See it here: