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The First Sunday after the Epiphany

Augustine on Psalm LXVI

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [600 AD]. It is based on James 4:17, John 13:17, and Luke 12:47 -[Barbee and Zahl]

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy  only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect of Epiphany - said in the Octave of Epiphany

Isaiah lx. 1, Psalm 47, 48 | 66, 67;   Romans xii. 1   &   St. Luke ii. 41
Homily of Augustine

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands

Thanksgiving for the life of Richard John Neuhaus [8 Jan 2009], editor First Things
O God, who by thy Holy Spirit dost give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith:  We praise thy Name for the gifts of grace manifested in thy servant RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS, and we pray that thy Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen 
Augustine gives us his interpretation of the verses of the 66 Psalm in the sermon highlighted today. The psalm opens with the wonderful verse shown above. It is most appropriate for this Sunday after Epiphany, when we are mindful of our Lord's manifestation to the Gentiles, that is, to the whole world. God has opened his Kingdom and his chosen nation to all peoples, regardless of nationality, and dependent only upon faith in his Son, the Christ.
Augustine wrote:
"Be joyful in God." Who? "Every land" (ver. 1). Not therefore Judaea alone. See, brethren, after what sort is set forth the universality of the Church in the whole world spread abroad: and mourn ye not only the Jews, who envied the Gentiles that grace, but still more for heretics wail ye. For if they are to be mourned, that have not been gathered together, how much more they that being gathered together have been divided? "Jubilate in God every land." What is "jubilate"? Into the voice of rejoicings break forth if ye cannot into that of words. For "jubilation" is not of words, but the sound alone of men rejoicing is uttered, as of a heart labouring and bringing forth into voice the pleasure of a thing imagined which cannot be expressed. "Be joyful in God every land:" let no one jubilate in a part: let every land be joyful, let the Catholic Church jubilate. The Catholic Church embraceth the whole: whosoever holdeth a part and from the whole is cut off, should howl, not jubilate.
Augustine says universal and catholic in the same sense. There were many dioceses that served under several patriarchs, his was the Diocese of Hippo, and his patriarch was the Bishop of Rome. Their unity politically was a phenomenon of the Empire, but there were churches outside of the Empire (for instance in India). There was and yet is one universal faith that is described in its most basic terms by two simple passages:  The first from the Old Covenant, "The Lord our God is One", a phrase used daily in opening prayers by the Jews, including our Lord,  and which is a part of the Summary of the Law spoken by our Lord. The other is from Paul's letter, "Jesus is Lord". These simple creeds establish at the basic level the essential elements of belief. Through the early years, the catholic faith was defined by the baptismal creed which became the mark of a Christian and symbol, regardless of where he worshipped, our under whom, and then with the Imperial Church, under Constantine as Emperor, the assembled bishops collectively created the Nicene Creed. The last came 300 years after our Lord chose his disciples, and so they do not define the Christian as does 'Jesus is Lord", but rather refine the accepted theology of the "universal" Church.
I believe that Universal Church that Augustine knew is still here with us, and refer to it as the Church Militant, that struggling body of Christians on earth who fight for right and unfeignedly believe the Gospel. It does not include the heresies such as modern Gnosticism, Mormonism, or Universalism, but is that Old Time Religion that is unchangeable and is based on the Word of God,:"Jesus is Lord"
Thinking on the passing of  brother RJ Neuhaus, and his work with men of various denominations to find the center of conservative Christian thought in the 20th Century, brought to mind that there are some First Things that all Christians do share in common, and we ought to seek to build on those where we can to heal these divisions where possible - and we can build those bridges here, in the Order, and with Christians in our communities. We can avoid those titles and practices which tend to lead to division, and focus on the Early Church and the first things of doctrine and faith.
CS Lewis wrote of the Church
"It is at her center, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice."
pax Christi,
Released by Primus Pilus
HQ, 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]


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