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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]



Lent - MMIX


Ash Wednesday
the first day of Lent

A Litany
A Penitential Office
for use with the devotional office of readings and collect and, or with the Litany

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.

This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

Source Archbishop Cranmer of Canterbury 1549. Replaced a collect that emphasized fasting, with this one that emphasizes repentence

Joel ii. 12   Psalm 51   &   St. Matthew vi. 16


rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God

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]



Joshua Chamberlain [24 February]


Joshua Chamberlain, Educator, General, Governor
one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army

February 24 [1914]

..not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum;
not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order,
but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

[Chamberlain in defense of his salute to the Confederates who surrendered at Appomattox

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Christian, Professor, General, and Governor of his home state of Maine.

Chamberlain came from a line of warriors. Great grandfathers served in the Revolution. a grandfather in the War of 1812, and his own father in Aroostook Indian War. One brother served with him in the 20th Maine and another as a chaplain of a Maine Regiment.

Chamberlain was raised as a Puritan and Huguenot. He attended a Military Academy as his father, a Lt. Col. of the Militia, wished for him to enter West Point. His mother desired he enter the ministry, which he chose to pursue for missionary work. Chamberlain taught himself Greek as a youth in order to enter Bowdoin College (he would eventually master nine languages). After graduating from Bowdoin, he attended Seminary for three years and graduated with a Master's Degree. He returned to Bowdoin as Professor of Rhetoric on the faculty until he entered the service of Maine as the Executive Officer of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment.

While at Bowdoin, he befriended Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the little book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Stowe's whose brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was leading theologian and abolitionist of the era. Stowe's book and Beecher's theology transformed society's understanding of the institution of slavery in America, and certainly convinced Chamberlain that slavery should come to an end.

Chamberlain's first major battle was at Fredericksburg, where he was pinned down all night by the withering fire from the stone-wall at Marye's Heights. It was at Gettysburg, however, that Chamberlain distinguished himself as the commander of the 20th Maine, which held Little Round Top on the flank until nearly out of ammunition, and then he ordered a tricky maneuver with a bayonet assault down and across the flank of the advancing Confederate forces anchored on one of his companies, like the swinging open of a gate. Another of his companies that had been cutoff early on, happened to be in just the right position to block the Confederates as they retreated.

Chamberlain distinguished himself again at the Siege of Petersburg, where he fell, thought dead his obituary appeared the next day. General Grant promoted him to General on the battlefield meritoriously. Chamberlain was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He fought in 20 battles. He was wounded six times and had six horses shot from under him. He was cited for bravery four times.

In the last days of the War, a Confederate General Gordon approached him with a flag of truce. General Lee wished a cease-fire to discuss terms of surrender. Chamberlain was chosen by Grant to command the guard at the surrender. As General Gordon's men passed by, Chamberlain called the Federals to Carry Arms, a salute to the Confederates, and Gordon returned the same, "Honor for Honor". Chamberlain defended this tribute in The Passing of the Armies

After the war, Chamberlain was elected for four one-year terms as Governor. He then returned to teaching and served as President of Bowdoin until his old wounds forced him to retire. In 1898, at age 70, he volunteered for the Spanish American War but was turned down. He war wounds continued to plague him until his death in 1914.


The Sunday called Quinquagesima


the Sunday before Lent
Augustine on Psalm XVI
Quinquagesima Home

O LORD which dost teach us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Quinquagesima is 50 days before Easter and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Source of collect, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer [1549]. Reflects 1 Cor 13 on Charity. Replaced a Medieval prayer used on Shrove Tuesday, when penitents were shriven, that is absolved, of their sins

Deuteronomy xxxiii 1   Psalm 15, 16 | 111, 112;   1 Corinthians xiii. 1.   &   St. Luke xviii. 31
Homily of Augustine on Psalm XVI

All my delight is upon the saints that are in the earth, and upon such as excel in virtue.

This is the Sunday before lent. I encourage centurions who observe the western calendar to attend Ash Wednesday services. For  those who do not have such an opportunity in your community, I suggest that on Ash Wednesday you use the service we have on the Order's site, which includes the collect, lessons, and a penitential office.
The collect for this day and the epistle speak to Charity, or what we call Love (Agape) CS Lewis' book on the Four Loves is an excellent read in conjunction with this passage and collect. A summary is found here. We recall that our Rule contains the summary of the Law which uses Agape (Charitas). 
This Sunday we continue to examine Augustine's treatment of the Psalms with his homily on Psalm 16. This is one of the Prayer Psalms, and it begins with the petition for safety, and then builds on that by its presentation of precepts. I have quoted the precept form the third verse above which addresses the Saints that are in the Earth - the Church Militant. To compliment this verse, I have featured Deuteronomy 33:1-4, which is Moses' blessing on the Saints who gave their hearts to God. Let us hear now Augustine on this verse.

"To the saints who are on His earth" ( 3): to the saints who have placed their hope in the land of the living, the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose spiritual conversation is, by the anchor of hope, fixed in that country, which is rightly called God's earth; although as yet in this earth too they be conversant in the flesh. "He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in them." To those saints then He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in their advancement, whereby they have perceived, how both the humanity of My divinity hath profited them that I might die, and the divinity of the humanity that I might rise again. "

Do you see how Augustine bases salvation on faith? It is the hope of the saints that anchors them. What is "fixed" in that country if not immovable, forever, eternally. It is that faith and seal of the Holy Ghost that makes them citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem even while they are on this earth. How can that be? How can we be citizens of a heavenly Kingdom, and citizens of this fallen earth? - through Christ in the struggling assembly of saints, the Church Militant, Ecclesia Militans. And what is this excellent virtue that each and every saint shares? Well, we know it is not perfection, not even close; but what is true of every saint is faith. That is the work he said that he had given us to do, to believe on him as the Son of God, the Saviour.

Christ loves his saints with a love that is so deep and wide it cannot be fathomed. A love that is so strong that we cannot be separated from it as we abide in Christ [Rom 8:39]. The old Devil is defeated in Christ's love of his saints. In his love he answers the petition of this psalm by preserving us for we have trusted in him. This is the love to which our Epistle points [1Cor13]. It is that sacrificial love that is given not based on merit (which is earned), but rather by mercy which is a "gift love" [Lk1:50]. In his love he sends his Holy Ghost to abide in us and to give us those wonderful spiritual gifts and virtues, the fruits of the spirit that he has promised [Jn14:26]. He fulfils his love in the world through his saints, soldiers of Christ's Legion, and advances them in holiness [Rom6:22]. He sanctifies his saints [Jn 17:17], calls them to greatness [Mt 18:4], and preserves them in everlasting life [Mt 19:29]. We Love [agape] because he loved us first [1 Jn 4:19]



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 Sunday called Sexagesima

the second Sunday before Lent
Augustine on Psalm XCIII

Sexagesima Home

O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended (

by protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles) against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome. Cranmer replaced by protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles [St Paul] with by thy power probably as it struck of a prayer for the intercession of a saint as was objectionable to Reformed Anglicans in 1549 (and today-39 Articles). It is shown here for its historical place in Gregory's Sacramentary. It clearly points to the ancient lesson of ii Corinthians xi.19ff appointed for this day, where Paul speaks of his own suffering at the hands of the authorities, and says, "if I must need glory, I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities."

Psalm 33, 93 | 139; ii Corinthians xi. 19 & St. Luke viii. 4

Homily of Augustine on Psalm 93

The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength,


"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us do our duty as we understand it."

[Abraham Lincoln, this is the 200th anniversary of his birth, Feb 12, 1809]

Grace be unto you and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Sexagesima is the second week of pre-lent season. Sexa is for 60 days (approximately). The pre-lent period was not used until about the year 700.
Today's psalm is
93. This is one of several that have been referred to as the Coronation Psalms, and includes psalm 47 and 93-100 by some reckoning. The psalms are regal in their tone, praising the Kingship and sovereign reign of Jehovah.
The Old Testament passage I suggest to accompany this reading is 2nd Samuel 5. It is the third and final coronation of David at Hebron after the death of Saul. This is when his rule was consolidated for all Israel. The lesson has no direct bearing on the psalm, which was likely written after the time of David, but it does have significance because Jehovah established his covenant with David's royal line. This royal line is a sign of God's reign. This Kingdom is based on a theocracy where God rules, and David, his servant whose heart was right with God, acted directly as God's agent on earth. When God anointed this royal house through Samuel, it pointed directly to his Son, Jesus. We find this in several places [Ps. 2:7, Romans 1:3-4].

Let us hear Augustine's interpretation of the first verses of Psalm 93 from our homily at the link above:
"The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and is girded" (ver. 1). We see that He hath clothed Himself with two things: beauty and strength. But why? That He might found the earth. So it followeth, "He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved." Whence hath He made it so sure? Because He hath clothed Himself in beauty. He would not make it so sure, if He put on beauty only, and not strength also. Why therefore beauty, why strength? For He hath said both. Ye know, brethren, that when our Lord had come in others. For the tongues of the Jews were divided against one another: "Some said, He is a good Man; others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people." Some then spoke well, others detracted from Him, tore Him, bit and insulted Him. Towards those therefore whom He pleased, "He put on beauty;" towards those whom He displeased, "He put on strength." Imitate then thy Lord, that thou mayest become His garment: be with beauty towards those whom thy good works please: show thy strength against detractors....

David typifies the coming Christ - the Son of David. He had beauty [I Sa 16] and strength [I Sam 17] as is expressed in these verses that Augustine explains. His heart was one with God. Kings in the line of David are mediators. At his coronation, David fulfilled this mediator role: "king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD" [I Sam 5]. Christ fulfils this role today.
Kingship also points to the single line between God an Man. There are not many mediators of the covenant, but one Mediator and one Advocate. Our Lord sits at the right had of God the Father and intercedes for his chosen. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" [1 Ti 2:5]. Beware of those "detractors" in high places who speak of many paths to God. They wish to please men with their blasphemy. There is no other way to the Father. Only through Christ will one will find the beauty of the Lord. The alternative is to face the strength of God today and on the awful Last Day.
As Augustine says, "Toward those who he please, he put on beauty" We know that Jesus' regal beauty was manifested to the Centurion of Calvary, who seeing the dirty Jewish peasant dying in the worst possible style of excruciating execution: whipped, beaten, bloody, exhausted, with a crown of thorns piercing his brow, and those of his own tribe mocking him; boldly proclaimed, "Truly this was the Son of God. " and "Certainly this was a righteous man."
Likewise, we may well suspect that to those who cannot, or will not, proclaim him as the only way, truth, and life, he has withheld his majestic beauty, and will exercise his awful strength.
May we who have seen the glory and beauty of our Lord join with the Centurion in proclaiming Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and glorified.


The Sunday Called Septugesima

the third Sunday before Lent
Augustine on Psalm CIV

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we which are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [600 AD]. The collect shows the great stress that Gregory knew from all sorts of calamities and threats - often perceived directly as a result of the sin of the nation. Septuagesima is the pre-Lent Sunday approximately 70 days before Easter. See more here on this day

Gen 1   Psalms 8, 148 | 104;   1 Corinthians ix. 24   &   St. Matthew xx. 1

Bless the LORD, O my soul ... who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
This year many folk are observing the Bicentennial Birthday of Charles Darwin, who put forth a theory on the Origin of Species which has changed the way most scientists look at nature and challenges the literal creation story of Genesis. Darwin attended seminary, and for a while was preparing for Orders in the Church of England which has a informative page on Darwin and his faith here.
The Psalm appointed for this day is 104, which uses the creation story of Genesis 1 to frame a prayer of praise for God's wonderful creation. Whether you buy  into some of what modern science proposes concerning the "how" of the formation of the universe and the appearance of life or not, as a Christian you must confess that God did create by his will all that is. His technical means are a mystery to us and shall be always, but his sovereign method is described in our OT reading... he spoke.
Augustine looks at Psalm 104 from a Christian perspective. He wrote of the verse quoted for today :
He hath founded the earth upon its firmness" (ver. 5). He
hath founded the Church upon the firmness of the Church.
What is the firmness of the Church, but the foundation of
the Church. What is the foundation of the Church, but that
of which the Apostle saith, "Other foundation can no man
lay but that is laid, which is Christ Jesus."  And
therefore, grounded on such a foundation, what hath she
deserved to hear? "It shall not be bowed forever and ever."
"He founded the earth on its firmness." That is, He hath
founded the Church upon Christ the foundation. The Church
will totter if the foundation totter; but when shall Christ
totter, before whose coming unto us, and taking flesh on
Him, "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not
anything made;"  who holdeth all things by His
Majesty,  and us by His goodness? Since Christ
faileth not, "she shall not be bowed for ever and ever."
Where are they who say that the Church hath perished
from the world, when she cannot even be bowed....
As we read this psalm, let us meditate on what Augustine reminds us of as Christians, that Jesus was with his Father from everlasting, and all things were made by our Lord, and without him was not anything made --  and that creation was made with the perfect knowledge of his chosen church on earth in our times, the Church Militant, and in the end times all his saints together in the Church Triumphant -- science notwithstanding!

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]