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The First Sunday after Christmas

Homily of St. Augustine on Psalm VIII
First Sunday after Christmas Home

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Galatians iv. 1, Psalm II, VIII | LXXXIX   &  St. Matthew i. 18



"What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? 
or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"

This Sunday, the first after Christmas, we look at Augustine of Hippo in his examination and interpretation of Psalm 8.  Augustine approaches his study from the point of view that the  Churches represent the wine-presses and threshing floors, but there are mixed both the wheat and the chaff that will be separated by the Lord Jesus into those of his true Church and those not.

I would direct our attention in this Christmastide to the verse quoted above and part of Augustine's exegesis. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"

 Therefore was the son of man first visited in the person of the very Lord Man, born of the Virgin Mary. Of whom, by reason of the very weakness of the flesh, which the Wisdom of God vouchsafed to bear, and the humiliation of the Passion, it is justly said, "Thou hast lowered Him a little lower than the Angels" (ver. 5). But that glorifying is added, in which He rose and ascended up into heaven; "With glory," he says, "and with honour hast Thou crowned Him; and hast set Him over the works of Thine hands" (ver. 6). Since even Angels are the works of God's hands, even over Angels we understand the Only-begotten Son to have been set; whom we hear and believe, by the humiliation of the carnal generation and passion, to have been lowered a little lower than the Angels. 

On Christmas I came across an article through a Facebook group by a person who claimed that evidence and history proved the Gospel accounts of the birth of our Lord to be false, and proceeded then to offer reasons why they should not be accepted as fact, but only myth (in the meaning of not factual, fantasies, made up to serve an agenda of the church some years later.) In my opinion this person was not a Christian. A Christian by all definition of the Church will hold the historic Apostolic Baptismal Creed to be literally true. So the popular article which took potshots at the gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew is a lie, and the work of the Father of Lies. The German biblical critics, those who rejected any miracle, the birth, the resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit, were the latter-day authors of this heresy which has so poisoned many a seminary classroom.  Shall we believe their denials and explanations created some 1800 years after the fact, or,  rather believe the word of St. Luke, companion of Paul, who credited his Gospel and account of Acts to the Apostles and claimed his source as eye witnesses who still lived, likely including  Mary, the mother of our Lord?  

The author was not a cleric, but one will hear this heresy from the pulpit, and then watch as these people turn and rehearse the very creed affirming these truths. Who shall you believe; he who in one minute refutes, and in the next pretends to "affirm", or the evangelists?

So in the matter of Christ's birth this season, let our anthem be like that of the Angles: 

Glory to God in the highest and, on earth, peace to men of Good will.

[The interpretation of the Angelic hymn, "men of Good will", is correct, and reflects the fact that God's peace is not for all the world, but for those men of Good will.  It varies from some popular translations that we see, but nonetheless is correct; here is the Latin, Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis. meaning, "Glory to God in the highest and, on earth, peace to men of good will." see more here  Herod, for instance, did not share in this divine peace at the time of the birth; think you that those who attack the Apostolic faith today do?]


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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 Fourth Sunday in Advent

Augustine on Psalm CI
Advent Four Home

O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gelasius of Rome Sacramentary [464 AD]. The 1662 edition added the "running the race that is before us" "Succor" is to run to help, while "sore let" is to thwart, hinder

Philippians iv. 4, Psalms 98, 99 | 101, 103   &  St. John i. 19.

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CI


Augustine examines Psalm 101 in today's homily. I very much commend it to all centurions.  I'd suggest a reading of the psalm first, and then the homily. It is all about breaking fellowship with those in the Church who have strayed apart from the teachings and practice of the Christian folk, those who do not heed the call of their brethren to walk straight. Many years ago I read somewhere in CS Lewis of the concept of Evil being opposite from that which is good, and the idea of bent or crooked folk. I think I know where he got it in reading Augustine here.

He wrote,

. "The wicked heart hath not cleaved unto me."...The heart of a man, who wisheth not anything contrary to any that God wisheth, is called straight....If therefore the righteous heart followeth God, the crooked heart resisteth God. Suppose something untoward happeneth to him, he crieth out, "God, what have I done unto Thee? What sin have I committed?" He wisheth himself to appear just, God unjust. What is so crooked as this? It is not enough that thou art crooked thyself: thou must think thy rule crooked also. Reform thyself, and thou findest Him straight, in departing from whom thou hast made thyself crooked. He doth justly, thou unjustly; and for this reason thou art perverse, since thou callest man just, and God unjust. What man dost thou call just? Thyself. For when thou sayest, "What have I done unto Thee?" thou thinkest thyself just. But let God answer thee: "Thou speakest truth: thou hast done nothing to Me: thou hast done all things unto thyself; for if thou hadst done anything for Me, thou wouldest have done good. For whatever is done well, is done unto Me; because it is done according to My commandment; but whatever of evil is done, is done unto thee, not unto Me; for the wicked man doth nothing except for his own sake, since it is not what I command." When ye see such men, brethren, reprove them, convince and correct them: and if ye cannot reprove or correct them, consent not to them. 

How true are his words this day! How bent and crooked have some become, so that they attempt to bend the rule of God to conform to their own corruption. I did a search on Google and found that in the Space Trilogy Lewis referred to Satan as the Bent One. I had recommended the Space Trilogy to one of our centurions this week for a bit of leisure reading and would recommend it to all.   

 the Crooked shall be made straight....

I pray all have a very Merry Christmas this coming Friday.

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 Third Sunday in Advent

Augustine on Psalm XCIV
Advent Three Home

LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Source: Collect-Middle Ages-found in 1549 COE Prayer Book.

Psalms 52, 53 | 93, 94 , 1 Corinthians iv. 1   &  St. Matthew xi. 2

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XCIV

For the LORD will not fail his people; neither will he forsake his inheritance;
 Until righteousness turn again unto judgment: all such as are true in heart shall follow it. 

This week we will consider a portion of the Psalm 94, and the examination of Augustine.  Before we do however, please note today's collect, and its bidding, and also the appointed Epistle of 1 Cor iv, where Paul wrote, " he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts"  Do you see how this collect touches today's epistle.  Coincidentally, Paul's words concerning the judgment of the Lord in the final day is a central subject of Augustine's sermon. I encourage you to read it all, but be forewarned it is a long one. Should you tire, skip to paragraph 19 and hear Augustine as he encouraged his listeners in the 5th century

 Attend, that we may be in Christ's name brave Christians: the remainder of the Psalm is but a little, let us not be weary. For how can he be strong in doing, who faileth in hearing? The Lord will help us to expound unto you the remainder. Attend then

Let us then attend to one section that I think best captured some signs of  our times. Augustine wrote,

 "Until righteousness," he saith, "turn again unto judgment, and all they that have it are right in heart" (ver. 15). Listen now, and gain righteousness: for judgment thou canst not yet have. Thou shouldest gain righteousness first; but that very righteousness of thine shall turn unto judgment. The Apostles had righteousness here on earth, and bore with the wicked. But what is said unto them? "Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Their righteousness therefore shall turn unto judgment. For whoever is righteous in this life, is so for this reason, that he may endure evils with patience: let him suffer patiently the period of suffering, and the day of judging cometh. But why do I speak of the servants of God? The Lord Himself, who is the Judge of all living and dead, first chose to be judged, and then to judge. Those who have righteousness at present, are not yet judges. For the first thing is to have righteousness, and afterwards to judge: He first endureth the wicked, and afterwards judgeth them. Let there be righteousness now: afterwards it shall turn again unto judgment. And so long He endureth wicked men, as God doth will, as long as God's Church shall endure them, that she may be taught through their wickedness. Nevertheless, God will not cast off His people, "all such as have it are right in heart." Who are those who are right in heart? Those whose will is the will of God. He spareth sinners: thou dost wish Him at once to destroy sinners. Thy heart is crooked and thy will perverted, when thy will is one way and the will of God another. God wisheth to spare sinners: thou dost not wish sinners spared. God is of long-suffering to sinners: thou dost not wish to endure sinners....Wish not to bend the will of God to thy will, but rather correct thy will to His. The will of God is like a rule: behold, suppose, thou hast twisted the rule: whence canst thou be set straight? But the rule itself continueth straight: for it is immutable. As long as the rule is straight, thou hast whither to turn thyself, and straighten thy perversity; thou hast a means of correcting what is crooked in thee. But what do men will? It is not enough that their own will is crooked; they even wish to make the will of God crooked according to their own heart, that God may do what they themselves will, when they ought to do that which God willeth.... 

What did he say? God's rule is immutable, it continues straight.  Post modern clerics preach a different Gospel. They will claim they hear a spirit telling them to ignore the words of the Apostles, and to rather listen to the spirit of the age who has truth. They will claim there is not truth, but truths according to one's understanding. They claim God is doing a new thing, as if they had access to the truth of God and 1,900 years of other Christians did not. They hear not, they will change not, but will glory in their crooked and perverse hearts. 

The Apostle says in today's epistle,  judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. These folk and those they lead may yet turn from sin. The Lord may set a light of truth in their hearts, and they may turn from attempting to corrupt and twist God's word. So we do not damn anyone; for the time will come when the Lord will judge all and will have mercy on those whom he chooses. In the meantime, every one who confesses the name of Christ needs to heed the words of Augustine, and seek righteousness now. That righteousness does not come from the will of man, but through God's merciful intercession as he lights our hearts. This is the catholic faith: hear Augustine's words from elsewhere in this sermon,

This then is the Christian doctrine: no man doeth anything well except by His grace. A man's bad acts are his own: his good he doth of God's bounty. When he hath begun to do well, let not him ascribe it unto himself: when he hath not attributed it to himself, let him give thanks to Him from whom he hath received it. But when he doeth well, let him not insult him who doth not as he doth nor exalt himself above him: for the grace of God is not stayed at him, so that it cannot reach another. 

LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

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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 Second Sunday in Advent

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer [1549 AD]. The emphasis on Scripture is enunciated here. To understand Cranmer and his desire to encourage Bible reading, read the Preface to the Cranmer Bible and the Preface to the 1549 Prayer Book. [Barbee and Zahl] Cranmer proposed continuous reading of the Scriptures - "lectio continua". Archbishop John Chrysostom, among other early doctors, was an advocate and practicioner of lectio continua.

Psalms 80, 82 | 25, 26 Romans xv. 4    St. Luke xxi. 25

Homily of Augustine on Psalm 26


I always appreciate this Sunday in our tradition, because of this most wonderful prayer. It is not ancient, as the note shows, but it carries an ancient theme that was sounded by the great Church fathers. If you seek truth, then look to the canon of Scripture. Paul spoke of the OT in  2nd Timothy 3:16, but Augustine and others said the same of the canon of the New Testament. 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

This week we will look at Augustine and his treatment of Psalm 26. Augustine most often used allusions and looked at the Psalms from a Christian viewpoint of speaking of Christ. However, he was always true to the faith; he did not attempt to "pull a fast one" by claiming the scriptures were speaking of some new innovation when no one in catholic history had ever so much as dreamed of that meaning.  That is not the case today.  Some less than honest clerics use poor exegesis, or eisegesis, to read in their agenda. However, I pray all readers will have a discerning spirit. Our collect today speaks to that, and so does the psalm pointed out by Augustine concerning thi selected verse.

"In Thy truth guide me:" avoiding error. "And teach me:" for by myself I know nothing, but falsehood. "For Thou art the God of my salvation; and for Thee have I waited all the day" (ver. 5). For dismissed by Thee from Paradise, and having taken my journey into a far country,  I cannot by myself return, unless Thou meetest the wanderer: for my return hath throughout the whole tract of this world's time waited for Thy mercy. 

Augustine relflects here his battle with Pelagius and his followers. Augustine argued that man of his own accord lost his ability to do right without the aid of God. Augustine puts it in terms of God "meeting" the wanderer-a nice analogy that reminds us of our Lord on the road to Emmaus. 

If you have a frend that you believe is wandering in the wastelands that represent so much of our culture today, say a pray, bid God to speak to this brother in such a way that he will be able to hear, read, mark, and inwardly digest the Word of God and be brought to the foot of the Cross and the blessed hope of everlasting life through Christ.  

For consideration: A Centurion this month referred this book to me. I recall reading it when it came out and remember that it echo's the words of today's collect: God in the Wastelands

We are in the second week of Advent and I am reminded of that wonderful Advent Hymn O Come Emmanuel, I pray you will have a chance to sing it this season and offer the verses here for meditation.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, Thou Root of Jesse's tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


[1851 compiled from 12th century hymns]

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]