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Ember Days

Greetings Centurions on this Wednesday of Lenten Ember Days:
I received a nice note from a Centurion  concerning our discussion of Wilberforce, noting that the movie was released during America's Black History month of February. Earlier he had sent an email reminding us of the Black Saints which can be seen on this page One will note Augustine of Hippo , a North African Berber, who is considered a Doctor of  the Church and whose sermons we frequently feature in the Order of Centurions. Perhaps one of the most important contributions of Augustine was that of his work on the concept of Just War which guides Western nations to this day, and for his work against the heresy of the monk Pelagius that was codified after his death in the Synod of Orange in 529. I commend a study of Augustine during these Ember Days.
Let us pray for the ministers of the Order and our local, national, and international churches in these days.

Ember Days
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Four Seasons

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Advent, Lent, and Whitsuntide this collect is followed with the seasonal collect

Isaiah lxi. 1, Acts xiii. 44   &   St. Luke iv. 16
Daily Readings for the Four Seasons
Collects, Litany & Hymns
History & Meaning

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me


"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


First Sunday in Lent

The First Sunday in Lent
John Chrysostom on 2nd Corintians vi. 1
First Lent Home

O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Collect of Ash Wednedsay]

Isaiah 58   Psalm 50   2 Corinthians vi. 1   &   St. Matthew iv. 1

In labors, in watchings, in fastings; in pureness.

Homily XII.
2 Cor. vi. 1, 2

 Excerpt... link to full homily below:
For, "Behold," he saith, "now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Let us therefore not let slip the favorable opportunity but display a zeal worthy of the grace. For therefore is it that we also press forward, knowing both the shortness and the suitableness of the time. Wherefore also he said; "And working together we intreat also. Working together" with you; 'for we work together with you, rather than with God for Whom we are ambassadors. For He is in need of nothing, but the salvation all passeth over to you.' But if it is even with God that he speaks of working together, he repudiates not even this [interpretation]; for he says in another place, "we are God's fellow-workers:" (1 Cor. iii. 9.) in this way, saith he, to save men. Again, "We entreat also." For he indeed, when beseeching, doth not barely beseech, but sets forth these His just claims; namely, that He gave His Son, the Righteous One that did not so much as know sin, and made Him to be sin for us sinners, that we might become righteous: which claims having, and being God, He displayed such goodness. But what we beseech is that ye would receive the benefit and not reject the gift. Be persuaded therefore by us, and "receive not the grace in vain." For lest they should think that this of itself is "reconciliation," believing on Him that calleth; he adds these words, requiting that earnestness which respects the life. For, for one who hath been freed from sins and made a friend to wallow in the former things, is to return again unto enmity, and to "receive the grace in vain," in respect of the life. For from "the grace" we reap no benefit towards salvation, if we live impurely; nay, we are even harmed, having this greater aggravation even of our sins, in that after such knowledge and such a gift we have gone back to our former vices. This however he does not mention as yet: that he may not make his work harsh, but says only that we reap no benefit. Then he also reminds of a prophecy, urging and compelling them to bestir themselves in order to lay hold of their own salvation.

"For," saith he, "He saith,

"At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee,

"And in a day of salvation did I succor thee:

"behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation."




Matthias [24 Feb]

Saint Matthias
[February 24]

O ALMIGHTY God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; Grant that thy Church, being alway preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 Sam ii. 27, Ps 15, Acts i. 15 and Matthew xi. 25

Other Readings:
Eve Ps 33, 1 Sam 16:1-13, 1 John 2:15ff
Morning Ps 15,24; 1 Sam 2:27-35; Matt 7:15-27
Evening Ps 145, 1 Sam 12:1-5, Acts 20:17-35

and the lot fell upon Matthias;
and he was numbered with the eleven apostles

Matthias just, today his dignity we own
In that the Apostles' lot gave him the vacant throne;
Last chosen of the Twelve, hear him, O Lord of love,
That throned in light and bliss, we too may reign above.

Note: Matthias by tradition "preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judea, Cappadocia, Egypt and Ethiopia. Remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. Martyr. Died stoned to death at Colchis in 80 AD; some relics in the abatical church of Triers, others in Saint Mary Major in Rome"


Sunday before Lent

The Sunday called Quinquagesima
the Sunday before Lent



Coming Feasts and Fasts
This Sunday is the last before the start of Lent  on Ash Wednesday. This coming Tuesday, some will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake meal, others may enter into earnest prayer and confession in preparation for the Lent. For festivals, well Mardi Gras in New Orleans and other cities comes to mind, and in some places "carnivals" . The word carnival comes from two words in Latin... meaning farewell to meat ("Carni" as in carnivorous, and "vale" as in valediction) - as meat and dairy items were among those foods Christians abstained from during the Fast.
The solemnity of the day before Lent has been replaced by many with hedonism and revelry. It brings to mind how many of our most sacred rituals are often marginalized.  In thinking on that, and in preparation for the coming Lent, I encourage all to read this article from Touchstone: Rites and Wrongs of Passage . Those who have served in the military will especially appreciate the author's observations concerning military funeral rites.  I also encourage you to join with other Christians on Ash Wednesday for a solemn beginning of the Great Fast. If that is not possible, please consider using the Ash Wednesday Propers and Penitential Office on our site in your private devotion.
Our collect, epistle, and homily of Chrysostom for this day reminds us that God's most earnest desire is that a solemn fast be one from the bands that inhibit us: predjudice, hatred, injustice, and oppression, to be replaced with justice, charity, compassion, and freedom. [ Is 58] May it be so this season.

O LORD, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Quinquagesima is about 50 days before Easter. Source, Bishop Thomas Cranmer [1549]. Reflects 1 Cor 13 on Charity.
Thou son of David, have mercy on me


The Sunday called Sexagesima

The Sunday called Sexagesima
the second Sunday before Lent
Second Homily of Chrysostom on the Epistle
Sexagesima Home

O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ii Corinthians xi. 19


Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one

In Paphos, the old Roman captial city of Cyprus, on Apostolou Pavlou Avenue is St. Paul's Pillar where he received 40 lashes less one for his work for Christ See a photo here of St. Paul's Pillar.
Chrysostom in today's homily writes:
Why, "save one?" There was an ancient law that he who had received more than the forty should be held disgraced amongst them. Lest then the vehemence and impetuosity of the executioner by inflicting more than the number should cause a man to be disgraced, they decreed that they should be inflicted, "save one," that even if the executioner should exceed, he might not overpass the forty, but remaining within the prescribed number might not bring degradation on him that was scourged.  more here Homily


The Sunday called Septuagesima

The Sunday called Septuagesima
the third Sunday before Lent

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [600 AD]. The collect shows the great stress that Gregory knew from all sorts of calamities and threats - often perceived directly as a result of the sin of the nation. Septuageesima is the pre-Lent Sunday approximately 70 days before Easter. It comes from the Middle Ages

Joshua i:1   Psalm xx   1 Corinthians ix. 24   &   St. Matthew xx. 1




The Purification of Mary the Virgin and Presentation of Christ in the Temple [2 Feb]


The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
commonly called
The Purification of Mary the Virgin
[February 2]

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Malachi iii. 1, Galatians 1, Psalm 84,   &   St. Luke ii. 22

a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel