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.
[1st Sunday after the Epiphany, BCP Source Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome -600 AD].
I acknowledge Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior. I will endeavor to obey the Ten Commandments & the Summary of the Law, and follow the Rule of the Order of Centurions; and through faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit - fear God and do what is right. So help me God.
We centurions all took a vow that said we would ENDEAVOR to obey God's Law, and "Fear God and do what is right"... Sometime soon after first publishing a first version of the vow, the Order made a slight modification, to cite "FAITH" and the HOLY SPIRIT as central to accomplishing the same, and so it stands.
As I was reminded this week by a friend, taking a vow before God is not a light thing. It is indeed a "heavy" thing and has the potential of everlasting consequences. It is important therefore to understand, and meditate upon what we as humans, fallen humans, are able to accomplish by ourselves, and what we may accomplish with God on our side.
We note first that the recognition of this duty of obedience is mandatory and ancient - but unfortunately, the Apostles and our Lord taught us that it is not possible for us to fulfil the law perfectly.
Second, we note that all humans do miss the mark (sin), but this in no way invalidates the requirement; it still exists; God still demands obedience.
That is the conundrum, the solution is only found in grace through the person of JESUS Christ-alone. It is evidenced by a pure heart, a heart that wishes to please God and to do right. God sent his Spirit upon all he has elected. He has written the law in their hearts. That spiritual law does not conflict with the Scriptures as they were originally and inherrantly recorded. However, good Christian men do differ on how they understand their duty under God. We must recognize that, know that there is indeed one Truth, and that none of us understand his will perfectly at all times and in all cases. Good men often disagree, often to the point of separation. When time and circumstance are of the essence, we must choose to do what we must, without perfect certainty of Right, but with confidence that we have made the best choice available, in good FAITH, in the time and conditions that were available.
Once we have a firm commitment to what we believe is right, the next task is operational-having the fortitude to do it. The prayer above addresses this as well. It asks God to grant us the grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same. Again we may not always be up to the task. We may fail. We may need to confess that failure and move ahead, always "STRIVING" for that which lays ahead as the Apostle says.
About eleven days ago, I invited all the members to reaffirm their vow. This vow affirms what the scriptures and our Lord calls us to do and what the ancients, like Gregory the Great, confessed as the theology of the Church as reflected in the prayer.
Jesus wills that we would be perfect, as is our Father, and we ought to strive for that always, knowing that through our faithful service in this life, he will accomplish ALL perfection in the next.
I'll close with a quotation from one of America's most famous generals:
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]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM