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The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Augustine on Psalm CVI

LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source Bishop Gelasians Sacramentary [494] where appointed for the Sunday before Ember Days in the Autumn. Ember days were for penitence, fasting, and the Saturday for ordinations in Rome. The 1662 added temptations of the world, the flesh One is reminded of the Lord's prayer and of 2 Peter 2:9

They have made them a molten calf,
and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto



" the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness… It has made man the measure of all things on earth—imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility"

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This week we look at Augustine’s examination of Psalm 106. The NIV Study Bible states that this psalm was likely composed by a Levite after the return from the Exile. It is a recounting of the history of Israel, of sin, punishment and God’s faithfulness and justice.

The Old Testament lesson that I selected to go with the psalm is Exodus 32. It tells the story of Moses on the Mount and the people and Aaron worshipping the gold calf. God in his anger planned to destroy them, and Moses interceded on their behalf.

Augustine writes:
"So He said, He would have destroyed them" (ver. 23). Since they forgot Him who saved them, the Worker of wondrous works, and made and worshipped a graven image, by this atrocious and incredible impiety they deserved death. "Had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breaking." He doth not say, that he stood in the breaking, [4844] as if to break the wrath of God, but in the way of the breaking, meaning the stroke which was to strike them: that is, had he not put himself in the way for them, saying, "Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin;--and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book." Where it is proved how greatly the intercession of the saints in behalf of others prevaileth with God. For Moses, fearless in the justice of God, which could not blot him out, implored mercy, that He would not blot out those whom He justly might. Thus he "stood before Him in the breaking, to turn away His wrathful indignation, lest He should destroy them."
Note he states:
" Where it is proved how greatly the intercession of the saints in behalf of others prevaileth with God.
He speaks here of Moses who was the leader of Israel and alive and with them, not saints in heaven, but rather he uses "saints" as it is used in the early church and as I often use it in referring to members of the Order, where "saints" were and are the lively members of the Church Militant on earth. Moses was a messianic type in that he was a mediator, intercessor, advocate, prophet, priest, and type of king.

We don’t see folk worshipping gold calves anymore, but there is a new idol that is worshipped far and wide in our western culture. Our featured quotation today from a famous Russian Orthodox Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was indeed a 20th century martyr, tells the story: Our society is anthropocentric. The new idol is man himself. I encourage you to read more on this very interesting and Orthodox Christian at the links above.

Consider also our collect today in terms of the Old Testament lesson and psalm. It clearly acknowledges our weakness and susceptibility to temptation, causing us to sin at the displeasure of a righteous God, and our need for his mercy. May God grant his protection for every member of the Order, that they may resist the temptations of this materialistic world that would tend to separate them from God’s love.


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