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First Sunday in Lent


The First Sunday in Lent

Augustine on Psalm LI
First Sunday in 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 Wednesday said daily until Palm Sunday]

This homily was traditionally said on Quardregesima... another name of this Sunday, which marked the start of Lent being about forty days before Easter. The beginning of Lent was officially moved by the church to Ash Wednesday before this Sunday, but the collect remained, even though the fasting had begun

Admonition and Exhortation for Communion

1 Samuel xxiii. 13  Psalm 51, 54 | 119:1–32   2 Corinthians vi. 1   &   St. Matthew iv. 1

Homily of Augustine on Psalm LI

For strangers are risen up against me; and tyrants, which have not God before their eyes, seek after my soul

Lent 1 commentary

This week we examine Augustine's treatment of Psalm 54. It is a song of David, recounting his experience and prayer in the wilderness of Ziph being pursued by King Saul. To compliment this psalm, I have selected the reading from 1 Samuel.  The passage tells of the treachery of the people of the region of Ziph, and Saul's fruitless attempt to corner and kill David. I have chosen verse 3 of the psalm for close examination. Augustine writes of it.

"For aliens have risen up against me". What "aliens"? Was not David himself a Jew of the tribe of Judah? But the very place Ziph belonged to the tribe of Judah; it was of the Jews. How then "aliens"? Not in city, not in tribe, not in kindred, but in flower.  ...But see the Ziphites, see them for a time flourishing. With reason "alien" sons. Thou amid the Ziphites hiding saidst what? "Blessed the people whereof the Lord is its God." Out of this affection this prayer is being sent forth into the ears of the Lord, when it is said, "for aliens have risen up against me."

Centurions, I read of happenings in this post-modern world that convince me that we are facing a situation where many of our own countrymen, our kinsman, are becoming increasingly alienated to us. They are not of our "flower" as Augustine puts it. In their generation, they are alien to the Gospel message, and have left the love of their forefathers. They have not Jesus Christ, the Son of  the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob before their eyes, but some other god of their own design, or no god at all.
This situation is bad enough in itself, but it ends not there, for within this confederacy of militant nihilists, agnostics, and idolaters are those wolves of the cloth who claim the title of Christian, but betray the Lord Christ in their words and deeds. They "seek after the souls" of their fellows to lead them down a path of belief that denies the Lordship of Jesus of Nazareth. They deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. Some are taking action. The synod of the Church of England met last week and affirmed the doctrine of the Uniqueness of Christ. Thank God!

I am reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus concerning the naysayers,
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. [Mark 8:38]
and conversely, his promise for those who persevere,
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. [Rev 3:5]
I pray that no member of this Order will fall victim to the betrayal of their countrymen who have become aliens to God (ver 3). The promises of this psalm - we claim. May God save us for his name sake, and avenge those who torment us in his strength (ver 1). Know that God is our helper; and the Lord is with us who uphold our brethren (ver 4). The Lord shall reward evil unto his enemies and destroy them in his truth (ver 5). With this knowledge of the Word, let us always offer our free hearts to God in sacrifice, praising his name (ver 6).
 Finally, as our Lord Jesus taught us, let us also pray for those who disparage and torment Christians, that he might call them who slander our faithful brethren and are afar off from his teaching and way; that they might turn their hearts to the Lord Jesus and become our comrades. For those who have heard the Word, and once confessed his name, but now deny his unique role as the only Savior, may he chastise them in his love and mercy, that they might turn from their lost way to the true belief of the Church since the beginning.

Released by Primus Pilus
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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