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The First Sunday after Christmas

Homily of St. Augustine on Psalm VIII
First Sunday after Christmas Home

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Galatians iv. 1, Psalm II, VIII | LXXXIX   &  St. Matthew i. 18



"What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? 
or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"

This Sunday, the first after Christmas, we look at Augustine of Hippo in his examination and interpretation of Psalm 8.  Augustine approaches his study from the point of view that the  Churches represent the wine-presses and threshing floors, but there are mixed both the wheat and the chaff that will be separated by the Lord Jesus into those of his true Church and those not.

I would direct our attention in this Christmastide to the verse quoted above and part of Augustine's exegesis. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"

 Therefore was the son of man first visited in the person of the very Lord Man, born of the Virgin Mary. Of whom, by reason of the very weakness of the flesh, which the Wisdom of God vouchsafed to bear, and the humiliation of the Passion, it is justly said, "Thou hast lowered Him a little lower than the Angels" (ver. 5). But that glorifying is added, in which He rose and ascended up into heaven; "With glory," he says, "and with honour hast Thou crowned Him; and hast set Him over the works of Thine hands" (ver. 6). Since even Angels are the works of God's hands, even over Angels we understand the Only-begotten Son to have been set; whom we hear and believe, by the humiliation of the carnal generation and passion, to have been lowered a little lower than the Angels. 

On Christmas I came across an article through a Facebook group by a person who claimed that evidence and history proved the Gospel accounts of the birth of our Lord to be false, and proceeded then to offer reasons why they should not be accepted as fact, but only myth (in the meaning of not factual, fantasies, made up to serve an agenda of the church some years later.) In my opinion this person was not a Christian. A Christian by all definition of the Church will hold the historic Apostolic Baptismal Creed to be literally true. So the popular article which took potshots at the gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew is a lie, and the work of the Father of Lies. The German biblical critics, those who rejected any miracle, the birth, the resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit, were the latter-day authors of this heresy which has so poisoned many a seminary classroom.  Shall we believe their denials and explanations created some 1800 years after the fact, or,  rather believe the word of St. Luke, companion of Paul, who credited his Gospel and account of Acts to the Apostles and claimed his source as eye witnesses who still lived, likely including  Mary, the mother of our Lord?  

The author was not a cleric, but one will hear this heresy from the pulpit, and then watch as these people turn and rehearse the very creed affirming these truths. Who shall you believe; he who in one minute refutes, and in the next pretends to "affirm", or the evangelists?

So in the matter of Christ's birth this season, let our anthem be like that of the Angles: 

Glory to God in the highest and, on earth, peace to men of Good will.

[The interpretation of the Angelic hymn, "men of Good will", is correct, and reflects the fact that God's peace is not for all the world, but for those men of Good will.  It varies from some popular translations that we see, but nonetheless is correct; here is the Latin, Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis. meaning, "Glory to God in the highest and, on earth, peace to men of good will." see more here  Herod, for instance, did not share in this divine peace at the time of the birth; think you that those who attack the Apostolic faith today do?]


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"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]



The Fourth Sunday in Advent

Augustine on Psalm CI
Advent Four Home

O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gelasius of Rome Sacramentary [464 AD]. The 1662 edition added the "running the race that is before us" "Succor" is to run to help, while "sore let" is to thwart, hinder

Philippians iv. 4, Psalms 98, 99 | 101, 103   &  St. John i. 19.

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CI


Augustine examines Psalm 101 in today's homily. I very much commend it to all centurions.  I'd suggest a reading of the psalm first, and then the homily. It is all about breaking fellowship with those in the Church who have strayed apart from the teachings and practice of the Christian folk, those who do not heed the call of their brethren to walk straight. Many years ago I read somewhere in CS Lewis of the concept of Evil being opposite from that which is good, and the idea of bent or crooked folk. I think I know where he got it in reading Augustine here.

He wrote,

. "The wicked heart hath not cleaved unto me."...The heart of a man, who wisheth not anything contrary to any that God wisheth, is called straight....If therefore the righteous heart followeth God, the crooked heart resisteth God. Suppose something untoward happeneth to him, he crieth out, "God, what have I done unto Thee? What sin have I committed?" He wisheth himself to appear just, God unjust. What is so crooked as this? It is not enough that thou art crooked thyself: thou must think thy rule crooked also. Reform thyself, and thou findest Him straight, in departing from whom thou hast made thyself crooked. He doth justly, thou unjustly; and for this reason thou art perverse, since thou callest man just, and God unjust. What man dost thou call just? Thyself. For when thou sayest, "What have I done unto Thee?" thou thinkest thyself just. But let God answer thee: "Thou speakest truth: thou hast done nothing to Me: thou hast done all things unto thyself; for if thou hadst done anything for Me, thou wouldest have done good. For whatever is done well, is done unto Me; because it is done according to My commandment; but whatever of evil is done, is done unto thee, not unto Me; for the wicked man doth nothing except for his own sake, since it is not what I command." When ye see such men, brethren, reprove them, convince and correct them: and if ye cannot reprove or correct them, consent not to them. 

How true are his words this day! How bent and crooked have some become, so that they attempt to bend the rule of God to conform to their own corruption. I did a search on Google and found that in the Space Trilogy Lewis referred to Satan as the Bent One. I had recommended the Space Trilogy to one of our centurions this week for a bit of leisure reading and would recommend it to all.   

 the Crooked shall be made straight....

I pray all have a very Merry Christmas this coming Friday.

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"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]



The Third Sunday in Advent

Augustine on Psalm XCIV
Advent Three Home

LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Source: Collect-Middle Ages-found in 1549 COE Prayer Book.

Psalms 52, 53 | 93, 94 , 1 Corinthians iv. 1   &  St. Matthew xi. 2

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XCIV

For the LORD will not fail his people; neither will he forsake his inheritance;
 Until righteousness turn again unto judgment: all such as are true in heart shall follow it. 

This week we will consider a portion of the Psalm 94, and the examination of Augustine.  Before we do however, please note today's collect, and its bidding, and also the appointed Epistle of 1 Cor iv, where Paul wrote, " he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts"  Do you see how this collect touches today's epistle.  Coincidentally, Paul's words concerning the judgment of the Lord in the final day is a central subject of Augustine's sermon. I encourage you to read it all, but be forewarned it is a long one. Should you tire, skip to paragraph 19 and hear Augustine as he encouraged his listeners in the 5th century

 Attend, that we may be in Christ's name brave Christians: the remainder of the Psalm is but a little, let us not be weary. For how can he be strong in doing, who faileth in hearing? The Lord will help us to expound unto you the remainder. Attend then

Let us then attend to one section that I think best captured some signs of  our times. Augustine wrote,

 "Until righteousness," he saith, "turn again unto judgment, and all they that have it are right in heart" (ver. 15). Listen now, and gain righteousness: for judgment thou canst not yet have. Thou shouldest gain righteousness first; but that very righteousness of thine shall turn unto judgment. The Apostles had righteousness here on earth, and bore with the wicked. But what is said unto them? "Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Their righteousness therefore shall turn unto judgment. For whoever is righteous in this life, is so for this reason, that he may endure evils with patience: let him suffer patiently the period of suffering, and the day of judging cometh. But why do I speak of the servants of God? The Lord Himself, who is the Judge of all living and dead, first chose to be judged, and then to judge. Those who have righteousness at present, are not yet judges. For the first thing is to have righteousness, and afterwards to judge: He first endureth the wicked, and afterwards judgeth them. Let there be righteousness now: afterwards it shall turn again unto judgment. And so long He endureth wicked men, as God doth will, as long as God's Church shall endure them, that she may be taught through their wickedness. Nevertheless, God will not cast off His people, "all such as have it are right in heart." Who are those who are right in heart? Those whose will is the will of God. He spareth sinners: thou dost wish Him at once to destroy sinners. Thy heart is crooked and thy will perverted, when thy will is one way and the will of God another. God wisheth to spare sinners: thou dost not wish sinners spared. God is of long-suffering to sinners: thou dost not wish to endure sinners....Wish not to bend the will of God to thy will, but rather correct thy will to His. The will of God is like a rule: behold, suppose, thou hast twisted the rule: whence canst thou be set straight? But the rule itself continueth straight: for it is immutable. As long as the rule is straight, thou hast whither to turn thyself, and straighten thy perversity; thou hast a means of correcting what is crooked in thee. But what do men will? It is not enough that their own will is crooked; they even wish to make the will of God crooked according to their own heart, that God may do what they themselves will, when they ought to do that which God willeth.... 

What did he say? God's rule is immutable, it continues straight.  Post modern clerics preach a different Gospel. They will claim they hear a spirit telling them to ignore the words of the Apostles, and to rather listen to the spirit of the age who has truth. They will claim there is not truth, but truths according to one's understanding. They claim God is doing a new thing, as if they had access to the truth of God and 1,900 years of other Christians did not. They hear not, they will change not, but will glory in their crooked and perverse hearts. 

The Apostle says in today's epistle,  judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. These folk and those they lead may yet turn from sin. The Lord may set a light of truth in their hearts, and they may turn from attempting to corrupt and twist God's word. So we do not damn anyone; for the time will come when the Lord will judge all and will have mercy on those whom he chooses. In the meantime, every one who confesses the name of Christ needs to heed the words of Augustine, and seek righteousness now. That righteousness does not come from the will of man, but through God's merciful intercession as he lights our hearts. This is the catholic faith: hear Augustine's words from elsewhere in this sermon,

This then is the Christian doctrine: no man doeth anything well except by His grace. A man's bad acts are his own: his good he doth of God's bounty. When he hath begun to do well, let not him ascribe it unto himself: when he hath not attributed it to himself, let him give thanks to Him from whom he hath received it. But when he doeth well, let him not insult him who doth not as he doth nor exalt himself above him: for the grace of God is not stayed at him, so that it cannot reach another. 

LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

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"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]



The Second Sunday in Advent

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer [1549 AD]. The emphasis on Scripture is enunciated here. To understand Cranmer and his desire to encourage Bible reading, read the Preface to the Cranmer Bible and the Preface to the 1549 Prayer Book. [Barbee and Zahl] Cranmer proposed continuous reading of the Scriptures - "lectio continua". Archbishop John Chrysostom, among other early doctors, was an advocate and practicioner of lectio continua.

Psalms 80, 82 | 25, 26 Romans xv. 4    St. Luke xxi. 25

Homily of Augustine on Psalm 26


I always appreciate this Sunday in our tradition, because of this most wonderful prayer. It is not ancient, as the note shows, but it carries an ancient theme that was sounded by the great Church fathers. If you seek truth, then look to the canon of Scripture. Paul spoke of the OT in  2nd Timothy 3:16, but Augustine and others said the same of the canon of the New Testament. 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

This week we will look at Augustine and his treatment of Psalm 26. Augustine most often used allusions and looked at the Psalms from a Christian viewpoint of speaking of Christ. However, he was always true to the faith; he did not attempt to "pull a fast one" by claiming the scriptures were speaking of some new innovation when no one in catholic history had ever so much as dreamed of that meaning.  That is not the case today.  Some less than honest clerics use poor exegesis, or eisegesis, to read in their agenda. However, I pray all readers will have a discerning spirit. Our collect today speaks to that, and so does the psalm pointed out by Augustine concerning thi selected verse.

"In Thy truth guide me:" avoiding error. "And teach me:" for by myself I know nothing, but falsehood. "For Thou art the God of my salvation; and for Thee have I waited all the day" (ver. 5). For dismissed by Thee from Paradise, and having taken my journey into a far country,  I cannot by myself return, unless Thou meetest the wanderer: for my return hath throughout the whole tract of this world's time waited for Thy mercy. 

Augustine relflects here his battle with Pelagius and his followers. Augustine argued that man of his own accord lost his ability to do right without the aid of God. Augustine puts it in terms of God "meeting" the wanderer-a nice analogy that reminds us of our Lord on the road to Emmaus. 

If you have a frend that you believe is wandering in the wastelands that represent so much of our culture today, say a pray, bid God to speak to this brother in such a way that he will be able to hear, read, mark, and inwardly digest the Word of God and be brought to the foot of the Cross and the blessed hope of everlasting life through Christ.  

For consideration: A Centurion this month referred this book to me. I recall reading it when it came out and remember that it echo's the words of today's collect: God in the Wastelands

We are in the second week of Advent and I am reminded of that wonderful Advent Hymn O Come Emmanuel, I pray you will have a chance to sing it this season and offer the verses here for meditation.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, Thou Root of Jesse's tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


[1851 compiled from 12th century hymns]

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"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]



The First Sunday in Advent

First Advent home

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

Source: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549 Prayer Book. Based on Romans 13:8-12 and Mathew 21:1-13 which are appointed for this Sunday [Barbee and Zahl]

Zachariah ix.1, Romans xiii. 8   &  St. Matthew xxi. 1
Psalms viii, l | xcvi, xcvii

Admonition and Exhortation for Communion
ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her

Homily of Augustine on the Gospel

This week we will look at the Gospel appointed for the first week in the season of Advent, specifically Matthew 21: 1&2.  I've taken an extract from Augustine's homily on Matthew for examination which is at the link.  Augustine observed differences in the Gospel accounts of the evangelists, and in the various translations generally.  There were probably those who pointed to these differences and asserted they proved the unreliability of the Gospel accounts because of differences. Augustine also touches on a defense of the Septuagint, which was an issue between Jerome and him, but identifies the main thing.
Moreover, it is manifest that the translation which bears the name of the Septuagint differs in some particulars from the text which is found in the Hebrew by those who know that tongue, and by the several scholars who have given us renderings of the same Hebrew books. And if an explanation is asked for this discrepancy, or for the circumstance that the weighty authority of the Septuagint translation diverges in many passages from the rendering of the truth which is discovered in the Hebrew codices, I am of  opinion that no more probable account of the matter will  suggest itself, than the supposition that  the Seventy
composed their version under the influence of the very Spirit by whose inspiration the things which they were engaged in translating had been originally spoken. This is an idea which receives confirmation also from the marvellous  consent which is asserted to have characterized them. Consequently, when these translators, while not departing from the real mind of God from which these sayings proceeded, and to the expression of which the words ought to be subservient, gave a different form to some matters in their reproduction of the text, they had no intention of exemplifying anything else than the very thing which  we now admiringly contemplate in that kind of harmonious diversity which marks the four evangelists, and in the light of which it is made clear that there is no failure from strict truth, although one historian may give an account of some  theme in a manner different indeed from another, and yet not so different as to involve an actual departure from the sense intended by the person with whom he is bound to be in concord and agreement. To understand this is of advantage to character, with a view at once to guard against what is false, and to pronounce correctly upon it; and it is of no less consequence to faith itself, in the way of precluding the
supposition that, as it were with consecrated sounds, truth has a kind of defence provided for it which might imply God's handing over to us not only the thing itself, but likewise the very words which are required for its enunciation; whereas the fact rather is, that the theme itself which is to be expressed is so decidedly deemed of superior importance to the words in which it has to be expressed, that we would be under no obligation to ask about them at all, if it were possible for us to know the truth without the terms, as God knows it, and as His angels also know it in Him.

What a wonderful summation. The Theme, and not the specific wording, is key to our faith.  There are so many instances when people will take words out of context, or apply them in ways that were never intended to support their theology, or attempt to challenge the Christian's faith because of seeming inconsistencies in Scripture, but the Berean will consider the flow of Scripture. I recently completed the Biblical Theology course from Covenant Seminary, which emphasized three major biblical themes: Kingdom, Covenant, and Mediator. These three themes are addressed in this passage today... the coming of the Christ as Savior and Mediator as prophesied in throughout the Old Covenant, to establish his Kingdom and a new Covenant with his sheep, those who know his voice and who follow him; those "called out ones" (eccelsia)  given to him by the Father. Jesus explained this in John 10. He also explained that he had the power to lay down his life for his sheep, that no one could take it, or his elect, from him. It was in this act and this association with the old Covenant prophesy of the Messiah King riding in on the colt of an ass that Jesus "threw down the gantlet", so to speak, and made his entry into Jerusalem. He knew precisely the effect and the consequences. This was intolerable to the powers: priests, Pharisees, and Sadducee's and scribes and Roman officials who had built their kingdom on the obedience to man-made rules. They hated our Lord for this affront, and the people rejoiced in the hope of the Covenant.  No less is this the situation today. There are those in clerical costume and office who would deny the Kingship and sovereignty of Jesus, deny that he is the only salvation for all men, and refuse to acknowledge any covenant. Why? because they claim to have a new knowledge and a new leading by the spirit. They twist the words of Scripture to support their perverted gospel and purposes and lead the blind into their folly. They torment the body of Christ on earth by persecutions. Let those who are truly called-out hear the voice of the Lord, and know the truth of the prophesies fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled. Let them flee the lies of the apostate, and cling to the hope promised in the Covenant and echoed by all the church fathers. 

Last week, on the Sunday before Advent, I included the words of the Gloria in Excelsis. For many of you it will be the last time you sing it until Christmas. This week, I offer another equally ancient hymn often used at Advent, and which is part of the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St. James in the 4th century. It is one which centurions of old sang in the knowledge that they were living in the Kingdom on earth, the Church Militant, and would experience that Kingdom more fully in the consummation of this new age. I invite you to ponder these words this Advent season, and the challenge that they lay before us: Our full homage to demand

Σιγησάτο παρα σὰρξ βροτεία

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

[Cyberhymnal Translated by Gerard Moultrie, 1864]

Come Lord Jesus


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"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]



Thanksgiving [last Thursday in November] {USA}

Note: the homily extract of Augustine is new this year

Thanksgiving Day 
Augustine on the Gospel 
Thanksgiving Home

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 O PRAISE the LORD, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God;     * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. The LORD doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness. O sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth;     * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men; Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion. For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen. 

Deut xxvi. 1, Psalm 145, St. James i. 16   &   St. Matthew vi. 25

seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you


Let us pray: 

For Grace to honor God with our Substance.

O Lord God, to whom belongeth the earth and the fulness thereof; Give us grace to honor thee with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase; that we may be blessed in the use of thy gifts, and sanctified to thy service, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Matthew vi 28 

Hence this whole precept is reduced to the following rule, that even in looking after such things we should think of the kingdom of God, but in the service of the kingdom of God we should not think of such things. For in this way, although they should sometimes be wanting (a thing which God often permits for the purpose of exercising us), they not only do not weaken our proposition, but even strengthen it, when it is examined and tested. For, says He, "we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope: And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Now, in the mention of his tribulations and labours, the same apostle mentions that he has had to endure not only prisons and shipwrecks and many such like annoyances, but also hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness. But when we read this, let us not imagine that the promises of God have wavered, so that the apostle suffered hunger and thirst and nakedness while seeking the kingdom and righteousness of God, although it is said to us, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you:" since that Physician to whom we have once for all entrusted ourselves wholly, and from whom we have the promise of life present and future, knows such things just as helps, when He sets them before us, when He takes them away, just as He judges it expedient for us; whom He rules and directs as parties who require both to be comforted and exercised in this life, and after this life to be established and confirmed in perpetual rest. For man also, when he frequently takes away the fodder from his beast of burden, is not depriving it of his care, but rather does what he is doing in the exercise of care.

[NPNF (V1-06) ch XVII. 58.]

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Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"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]



Sunday before Advent

The Sunday next before Advent 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXLIX
Home, Sunday before Advent

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Sacramentary of Gregory of Rome [c. 600]. The title of this collect "The Sunday next before Advent" was that which was used in the Sarum Missal, and was restored to the American Prayerbook in 1892. [Barbee and Zahl]

Jeremiah xxiii, Psalm 149 &  St. John vi. 1 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXLIX

Genter Altar, Altar des Mystischen Lammes, obere mittlere Haupttafel, Szene: Thronender Gottvater, Eyck, Hubert van 

I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign

Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King



This Sunday many churches will observe the feast of Christ the King, and today the appointed OT lesson from Jeremiah promises a King for Israel from the branch of David, as well as the psalm featured for this day.  Augustine, in his homily on Psalm 149 preached.
"Let Israel rejoice in Him who made Him". What is, "Israel"? "Seeing God." He who seeth God, rejoiceth in Him by whom he was made. What is it then, brethren? we have said that we belong to the Church of the saints: do we already see God? and how are we Israel, if we see not? There is one kind of sight belonging to this present time; there will be another belonging to the time hereafter: the sight which now is, is by faith; the sight which is to be will be in reality. If we believe, we see; if we love, we see: see what? God. Ask John: "God is love;"  let us bless His holy Name, and rejoice in God by rejoicing in love. Whoso hath love, why send we him afar to see God? Let him regard his own conscience, and there he seeth God...."And let the sons of Sion exult in their King." The sons of the Church are Israel. For Sion indeed was one city, which fell: amid its ruins certain saints dwelt after the flesh: but the true Sion, the true Jerusalem (for Sion and Jerusalem are one), is "eternal in the heavens,"  and is "our mother."  She it is that hath given us birth, she is the Church of the saints, she hath nourished us, she, who is in part a pilgrim, in part abiding in the heavens. In the part which abideth in heaven is the bliss of angels, in the part which wandereth in this world is the hope of the righteous. Of the former is said, "Glory to God in the highest;" of the latter, "and on earth peace to men of good will."  Let those then who, being in this life, groan, and long for their country, run by love, not by bodily feet; let them seek not ships but wings, let them lay hold on the two wings of love. What are the two wings of love? The love of God, and of our neighbour. For now we are pilgrims, we sigh, we groan. There has come to us a letter from our country: we read it to you. "And the sons of Sion shall exult in their King." The Son of God, who made us, was made one of us: and He rules us as our King, because He is our Creator, who made us. But He by whom we were made is the same as He by whom we are ruled, and we are Christians because He is Christ. He is called Christ from Chrism, that is, Anointing....Give to the Priest somewhat to offer. What could man find which he could give as a clean victim? What victim? what clean thing can a sinner offer? O unrighteous, O sinful man, whatever thou offerest is unclean, and somewhat that is clean must be offered for thee....Let then the Priest that is clean offer Himself, and cleanse thee. This is what Christ did. He found in man nothing clean for Him to offer for man: He offered Himself as a clean Victim. Happy Victim, true Victim, spotless Offering. He offered not then what we gave Him; yea rather, He offered what He took of us, and offered it clean. For of us He took flesh, and this He offered. But where took He it? In the womb of the Virgin Mary, that He might offer it clean for us unclean. He is our King, He is our Priest, in Him let us rejoice. 

When Pilate questioned our Lord, Jesus said, My Kingdom is not of this world. Indeed, he rules in the hearts of his elect at the right hand of his Father in heaven until he shall come again and put all in all under his reign and defeat all that is evil. He is the High Priest, Prophet, and King.
There is a regal song based on that Angelic hymn in Luke that the saints of the early church sang: let us join our voices with theirs this day in praise of King Jesus the Christ:
Glory be to God on high
And on earth peace, goodwill towards men,
We praise thee, we bless thee,
we worship thee, we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee, for thy great glory
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesu Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy;
thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ,
art most high
in the glory of God the Father.
[Hilary of Pointers c 360]



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"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]



The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm CXXVIII 
Home for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gregory of Rome [604 AD] Compare Psalm 46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help [Barbee and Zahl]. The petition reminds one of Jesus' promise, 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Philippians iii. 17, Psalm cxxvii,  &  St. Matthew xxii. 15 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXXVIII

Blessed are all they who fear the Lord, Who walk in his ways.


Augustine's homily is on Psalm 128 today (127 OSB and Latin), and he interprets the psalm in the light of Christ and the Church.  The psalm opens with "Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways."  

My thought turn to a friend and Christian warrior this day who epitomized this verse. He passed away on Veteran's Day morning.   He was one who "feared the Lord" and he always endeavored to "walk in his ways". He had a faith that was strong and deep. In thinking on him now, and his destiny, the words of our Lord came to mind when he said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live". That was his hope, and it is our too.  

Augustine wrote,

For, "if in this life only," saith the Apostle, "we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." For what reason were the Martyrs condemned to beasts? What is that good? Can it be declared? by what means, or what tongue can tell it? or what ears can hear it? That indeed, "Neither ear hath heard, nor hath it entered into man's heart:"  only let us love, only let us grow in grace: ye see, then, that battles are not wanting, and that we fight with our lusts. We fight outwardly with unbelieving and disobedient men; we fight inwardly with carnal suggestions and perturbations: we everywhere as yet fight....What sort of peace then is this? One from Jerusalem, for Jerusalem is interpreted, A vision of Peace. Thus then "mayest thou see the good things that are of Jerusalem," and that, "all thy life long--and mayest thou see," not only thy children, but, "thy children's children." What meaneth, Thy children? Thy works which thou here dost. Who are thy children's children? The fruits of thy works. Thou givest alms: these are thy children: for the sake of thine alms thou receivest everlasting life, these are thy children's children. "Mayest thou see thy children's children;" and there shall be "peace upon Israel" .... 

Do you have this hope and this assurance? I pray so and think of this old hymn:

  1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
    • Refrain:
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long;
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long.
  2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
  3. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
  4. [1873 Francis J Crosby]

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"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]



The Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity


Augustine on Psalm 125
Home, 22nd Sunday after Trinity 

LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [604 AD] The Latin used the word familia, which points to the traditional Roman family that was the basic and most important element of society. It included all in the household, including slaves, and was headed by the pater familias who was responsible for the welfare of all. This concept of the household is the basis of the Gospel story today.

Psalm: 123, 124, 125, 136, 138;   Philippians i. 3   &  St. Matthew xviii. 21 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXXV

As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD
shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be
upon Israel.

This week we consider the homily of Augustine on Psalm 125. I encourage all 
to read it. In one paragraph he considers the Christian Roman soldiers who served under the apostate Julian, those martyrs who refused to sacrifice to the idols, but who never waived at the evil emperor's commands to defend the state. We may look more closely at that and other parts of the homily another day, but today I would like to direct your focus to the verse above, and Augustine's treatment of it following:

Whence the Psalmist at once addeth: "As for such as turn aside, the Lord shall lead them forth unto strangling with the workers of unrighteousness" : that is, those whose deeds they have imitated; because they took delight in their present pleasures, and did not believe in their punishments to come. What then shall they have, who are righteous in heart, and who turn not back? Let us now come to the heritage itself, brethren, for we are sons. What shall we possess? What is our heritage? what is our country: what is it called? Peace. In this we salute you, this we announce to you, this the mountains receive, and the little hills receive as righteousness.  Peace is Christ: "for He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." Since we are sons, we shall have an inheritance. And what shall this inheritance be called, but peace? And consider that they who love not peace are disinherited. Now they who divide unity, love not peace. Peace is the possession of the pious, the possession of heirs. And who are heirs? Sons....Since then Christ the Son of God is peace, He therefore came to gather together His own, and to separate them from the wicked. From what wicked men? From those who hate Jerusalem, who hate peace, who wish to tear unity asunder, who believe not peace, who preach a false peace to the people, and have it not. To whom answer is made, when they say, "Peace be with you," "And with thy spirit:" but they speak falsely, and they hear falsely. Unto whom do they say, Peace be with you? To those whom they separate from the peace of the whole earth. And unto whom is it said, "And with thy spirit"? To those who embrace dissensions, and who hate peace. For if peace were in their spirit, would they not love unity, and leave dissensions? Speaking then false words, they hear false words. Let us speak true words, and hear true words. Let us be Israel, and let us embrace peace; for Jerusalem is a vision of peace, and we are Israel, "and peace is upon Israel." 

These are strenthening and comforting words for God's household, as the collect of the day uses the term from the Latin familia as used by Gregory and those before him. Comforting to us "for we are sons" , but they are only so comforting as the knowledge and assurance that we are truly of his household.  Few of us know the hour or day of our death, and so we must watch, pray, and be always vigilant in our practice of faith, duty, and love of Christ. 

Augstine then addresses the heretics of his day who are not of the familia. Our churches these days have their share of hertics who have given up any pretension of ortodoxy, but still play the clerk and say, "Peace be with you.", to many blind sheep who parrot back, "and also with you", but they know no peace for they deny Jesus as Savior. Just as Augustine points out, they speak falsely, and their minions hear falsely.  Let us follow Augustine's advice and speak true words, words of the orthodox and catholic faith since the beginning of the apostolic church.

God's Peace be with his saints, now and evermore.

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"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]



All Saints Sunday

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Revelation vii. 2   &   St. Matthew v. 1 
Hymn: For All the Saints

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven

" In today's homily, Augustine wrote, 

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." How foolish, therefore, are those who seek God with these outward eyes, since He is seen with the heart! as it is written elsewhere, "And in singleness of heart seek Him." For that is a pure heart which is a single heart: and just as this light cannot be seen, except with pure eyes; so neither is God seen, unless that is pure by which He can be seen. 

Jesus taught that God indeed marks those sacrifices his elect make day by day in following his prime directive, and they who are his own; who are pure of heart, will see the face of God. So then there are two things here, those that are unseen, such as the pure heart, the meek (not weak, but rather not puffed up with themselves), those whose spirits are distressed at the fallen state of the world and their own failings, and those who spirits thirst for the truths of the Gospel. These are the things internal and not seen by man, but known by God. On the other hand, our Lord made a specific point in emphasizing things that are quite visible. Men who love their neighbors practice mercy and are peacemakers. So we see that the blessed are those who put the Lord's Summary of the Law into practice by walking humbly before God for whom they have unfeigned love, and by working out his command to love their neighbor by acts of mercy and peace. 

Some often wonder, "Will I go to heaven, will I be a saint?"  God knows, and those who are heaven bound are his saints already. Those who can readily identify with the attributes described in the beatitudes may have confidence that they will be in that number.

Finally, in the sermon, Jesus but turned to his disciples and promised them they would face persecution for their faith in him, but that their reward would be great.  The first "saint" of the church whose day of martydom was celebrated annually was Bishop Polycarp in about 155 AD. When asked to deny Christ he said,  "Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"  I pray that each of you are prepared to say the same if that day come, and to meekly withstand persecution from an ever more aggressive and belligerent world, overcoming evil with good.  As our collect today says, 
 Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living

From all Thy saints in warfare, for all Thy saints at rest,

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"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]



The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine homily on Matt. xxii 
Home, 20th Sunday after Trinity

O ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacrementary of Bishop Gelasius of Rome [494]. Much minor reworking from the Latin. [Barbee and Zalh]

Ephesians v. 15 &  St. Matthew xxii. 1 
Augustine on Matt. xx etc.

how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment 


Today's Gospel is addressed in the homily of Augustine. I enjoyed the entire homily and invite you to read it at the link. I would like to examine closely this section 

 What is that "wedding garment" then? This is the wedding garment: "Now the end of the commandment," says the Apostle, "is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned."  This is "the wedding garment." Not charity of any kind whatever; for very often they who are partakers together of an evil conscience seem to love one another. They who commit robberies together, who love the hurtful arts of sorceries, and the stage together, who join together in the shout of the chariot race, or the wild beast fight; these very often love one another; but in these there is no "charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. The wedding garment" is such charity as this. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal."  ... This then is "the wedding garment." Question yourselves; if ye have it, ye may be without fear in the Feast of the Lord. In one and the same man there exist two things, charity and desire. Let charity be born in thee, if it be yet unborn, and if it be born, be it nourished, fostered, increased. But as to that desire, though in this life it cannot be utterly extinguished; "for if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;"  but in so far as desire is in us, so far we are not without sin: let charity increase, desire decrease; that the one, that is, charity, may one day be perfected, and desire be consumed. Put on "the wedding garment:" you I address, who as yet have it not. Ye are already within, already do ye approach to the Feast, and still have ye not yet the garment to do honour to the Bridegroom; "Ye are yet seeking your own things, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." [3013] For "the wedding garment" is taken in honour of the union, the union, that is, of the Bridegroom to the Bride. Ye know the Bridegroom; it is Christ. Ye know the Bride; it is the Church. Pay honour to the Bride, pay honour to the Bridegroom. If ye pay due honour to them both, ye will be their children. Therefore in this make progress. Love the Lord, and so learn to love yourselves; that when by loving the Lord ye shall have loved yourselves, ye may securely love your neighbour as yourselves. For when I find a man that does not love himself, how shall I commit his neighbour whom he should love as himself to him? And who is there, you will say, who does not love himself? Who is there? See, "He that loveth iniquity hateth his own soul." Does he love himself, who loves his body, and hates his soul to his own hurt, to the hurt of both his body and soul? And who loves his own soul? He that loveth God with all his heart and with all his mind. To such an one I would at once entrust his neighbour. "Love your neighbour as yourselves." 

Twenty-one years ago in an Ethics class as Syracuse, I wrote a paper that keyed on the idea of the Summary of the Law as a guide to ethical behavior and submitted it to my professed "secular humanist" professor. My theme was close to that of Augustine in the above paragraph that I have emphasized: "Love the Lord, and love your neighbor  (as well) as yourself.  I had all these years thought my twist on the Summary and theme was original, but in reading Augustine this week, I realize that this fits within the adage that "there is nothing new under the sun". 

 I don't personally agree with Augustinie on the nature of the wedding garment, and think it to be a "saving faith by election", but I firmly support his thesis that we are sinners and saints who are called to grow in the spiritual virtues, the chief of which is charity toward our neighbors. As we recognize within ourselves that we are living in charity, and resisting malice, with every "neighbor", we may discern God's work within us, changing us into the image of Christ, to the glory of God.  For those who recognize such in their lives comes the blessed assurance of salvation confirmed, but to those whose malevolent spirit finds no love of self or neighbor, no rest, and where sin rules, then the terror of damnation leads to separation, wretchedness, desperation, and despair.  Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians calls us from the beginnings of our walk in faith to the fruition and proof of that faith in charity manifested.

This coming week we will induct new members into the Labarum Guard on the eve of the Feast of Saxa Ruba, 27 October. All guards are called upon to pray this prayer that recognizes the source of those ancient and spritual virtues:  

I bid your prayers for them and all of us this day, Let us pray:

Almighty God, Captain of the Host, inspire us, we beseech thee, to grow in the virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, moderation, faith, hope, and charity; to protect and defend thy Church Militant against every assault of the enemy; and to render unto thee our Christian service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
"If a man loves righteousness, her labours are virtues; for she teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, which are such things as man can have nothing more profitable in their life." (Wisdom of Solomon 8:7) "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corenthians 13:13) 

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"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]



Saint Luke the Evangelist [18 Oct] Trinity 19

Augustine on Luke x. 16
Being that portion of the Gospel that follows the regularly appiointed verses for the Feast of St. Luke [Luke x 1]

ALMIGHTY God, who didst inspire thy servant Saint Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son; Manifest in thy Church the like power and love, to the healing of our bodies and our souls; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sirach xxxviii,, Psalm 103  , 2 Timothy iv. 5   &   St. Luke x. 8
Homily of Augustine

He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me;
 and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.


This day the Church remembers Luke the Evangelist - a Physician by tradition. The Early Church had a prologue to the Gospel that said, 

Luke, a native of Antioch, by profession a physician. He had become a disciple of the apostle Paul and later followed Paul until his [Paul's] martyrdom. Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit he died at the age of 84 years

For the OT lesson today, I have selected verses from the 38th chapter of Sirach.  We have many members who are in the field of medicine and healthcare, and on this day we recognize them for their service.  I encourage you to read this most appropriate scriptture, and to praise God who is with our centurions as they practice their art and science to his glory.

Our homily today is from Augustine. It addsresses the verses that follow the regular Gospel of Luke x, 1ff on the sending forth of the 70. The lesson of the 70 was likely selected in the years gone by because another tradition of the Early Church held that Luke was one of the 70. In the portion that follows the regular reading, Jesus advises his disciples of the fate of those who reject them and their teaching.  You won't often hear that message repeated in the post-modern "churches" as they would be afraid of offending their members. I am not ashamed of the Gospel, and I do not for an instant believe that the Gospels present anything but the true Word of God. I especially am thankful and praise God for the witness of Luke and his history of the ministry of our Lord and the Acts of the Apostles.

Let us turn now hear a portion of the message of Augustine [Homily of Augustine]

What our Lord Jesus Crist at that time spake to His disciples was put in writing, and prepared for us to hear. And so we have heard His words. For what profit would it be to us if He were seen, and were not heard? And now it is no hurt, that He is not seen, and yet is heard. He saith then, "He that despiseth you, despiseth Me."  If to the Apostles only He said, "He that despiseth you, despiseth Me;" do ye despise us. But if His word reach to us, and He hath called us, and set us in their place, see that ye despise not us, lest the wrong ye shall do unto us reach to Him. For if ye fear not us, fear Him who said, "He that despiseth you, despiseth Me." But why do we, who are unwilling to be despised by you, speak to you, except that we may have joy of your good conversation? Let your good works be the solace of our perils. Live well, that ye may not die ill. 
We know the truth of Augstine's words. Those who have been called and speak in our Lord's name are despised by those who are offended in the Gospel. His true ministers suffer for his sake, and yet they will receive the good reward promised by our Lord. Knowing this, true servants of God continue to proclaim the Gospel as best they can and as they have recievd and believe it. However, those who pretend to be God's ministers, dress in their pomp, and yet pander the idolators, pagans, and reprobate, while withholding the teachings of our Lord as given below, will win the admiration and praise of these lost souls, and they also shall have their desired reward in that day.  They will despise you for your orthodox faith. What shall become of them? What saith scripture: ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.


Released by Primus Pilus
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"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]