Total Pageviews


The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm 91
Trinity 17 Home

LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gregory [595]. "Prevent" meaning to come before from the verb prevenient. This calls to my mind Patrick's Breastplate Christ behind me, Christ before me... and Psalm 139 Thou hast beset me before and behind...

Deuteronomy xvi.8; Psalm 91, Ephesians iv. 1   &   St. Luke xiv. 1
Homily - Psalm XCI by Augustine


This week we look at Augustine on psalm 91. I very much enjoyed his homily and commend it all.  This past week a centurion sent me a little story about a soldier that reported in to heaven, and admitted that he had not been special here on earth. God received the soldier into heaven, hence, one of the saints,  because of his fidelity and execution of duty.

I pondered this little story and the approach of All Saints Day which falls on a Sunday this year, and I responded to our brother, and affirmed the theology of St. Paul. This is one of many quotes that seems to apply to the saints: 

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints [Eph 1:18]

By happenstance, Augustine has addressed this subject in his examination of the psalm and this verse below:

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 
 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

 He has now come to the power Which rescues him from falling by the "downfall and the devil of the noon-day." "For Thou, Lord, art my hope: Thou hast set Thy house of defence very high." What do the words "very high" mean? For many make their house of defence in God a mere refuge from temporal persecution; but the defence of God is on high, and very secret, whither thou mayest fly from the wrath to come. Within "Thou hast set thine house of defence very high. There shall no evil happen unto Thee: neither shall any plague come nigh Thy dwelling"  The Holy City is not the Church of this country only, but of the whole world as well: not that of this age only, but from Abel himself down to those who shall to the end be born and believe in Christ, the whole assembly of the Saints, belonging to one city; which city is Christ's body, of which Christ is the Head. There, too, dwell the Angels, who are our fellow-citizens: we toil, because we are as yet pilgrims: while they within that city are awaiting our arrival. Letters have reached us too from that city, apart from which we are wandering: those letters are the Scriptures, which exhort us to live well. Why do I speak of letters only? The King himself descended, and became a path to us in our wanderings: that walking in Him, we may neither stray, nor faint nor fall among robbers, nor be caught in the snares that are set near our path. This character, then, we recognise in the whole Person of Christ, together with the Church....He Himself is our Head, He is God, co-equal with the Father, the Word of God, by whom all things were made:  but God to create, Man to renew; God to make, Man to restore. Looking upon Him, then, let us hear the Psalm. Listen, beloved. This is the teaching and doctrine of this school, which may enable you to understand, not this Psalm only, but many, if ye keep in mind this rule. Sometimes a Psalm, and all prophecy as well, in speaking of Christ, praises the Head alone, and sometimes from the Head goes to the Body, that is, the Church, and without apparently changing the Person spoken of: because the Head is not separate from the Body, and both are spoken of as one...

Like Paul in his epistles, I write week by week bidding the prayers of the order for our saints,  our brethren, especially upon the occasion of their registration anniversary. I must presume that in taking the vow of the Order, and confessing Christ as Lord, that all centurions are indeed Christ's own, and as such, saints and sinners in God's grace, his elect. Augustine goes on in his homily to speak of those who claimed Christianity, or who fell by denying God when put to the test as a result of temptations, threats of death, or torture - or like some today who were just being politically correct like the TEC Bishop of Los Angeles who apologized to Hindus for converting their kinsman to Christianity and was applauded by them recently  [link].  Read now what Augustine said in his homily touching on this:

The devil has entrapped many by a harsh word: for instance, those who profess Christianity among Pagans suffer insult from the heathen: they blush when they hear reproach, and shrinking out of their path in consequence, fall into the hunter's snares. And yet what will a harsh word do to you? Nothing. Can the snares with which the enemy entraps you by means of reproaches, do nothing to you? Nets are usually spread for birds at the end of a hedge, and stones are thrown into the hedge: those stones will not harm the birds. When did any one ever hit a bird by throwing a stone into a hedge? But the bird, frightened at the harmless noise, falls into the nets; and thus men who fear the vain reproaches of their calumniators, and who blush at unprovoked insults, fall into the snares of the hunters, and are taken captive by the devil...Just as among the heathen, the Christian who fears their reproaches falls into the snare of the hunter:

God created angles as his special servants, and one third of them rebelled from his authority and were cast to the earth to torment man;  man also rebels against God, and will share the same fate as the fallen angels. 

What of the habitation that Augustine refers. Well, it is the true Church, the Church of those marked as Christ's own, Militant (struggling) on earth, faithful, resisting with God's help temptation; and after death in rest and repose in Paradise - still with our Lord who said he would never leave us, and as the Apostle spoke: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I know even as also I am known. 

Augustine wrote elsewhere in this homily: 

But whoever regarded not the present life, but had a sure trust in a future one, avoided the arrow, by confessing himself a Christian; smitten in the flesh, he was liberated in the spirit: resting with God, he began peacefully to await the redemption of his body in the resurrection of the dead: he escaped from that temptation, from the arrow that flieth by day....

This is the catholic and orthodox faith known to and preached by saint Augustine.

Note: I have left the capitalization as it was in the translation; however, in the Latin one would not have found such to my knowledge, saints, pagans, church, etc. would have all be written in lower case without any emphasis, just as one finds it in the epistles of Paul.


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]


No comments: