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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


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]



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.]

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]



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]



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]



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]

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]



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.

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]