O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid be defended; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect Source: Sacramentary of Gregory [ca 600AD]. In a 1662 revision the last phrase was added and comforted in all dangers and adversities
From Augustine on Psalm 17.
"As a lion ready for prey, have they taken Me" (ver. 12). They have taken
Me, like that adversary who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
"And as a lion's whelp dwelling in secret places." And as his whelp, the
people to whom it was said, "Ye are of your father the devil:" meditating
on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.
"Arise, O Lord, prevent them, and cast them down" (ver. 13). Arise, O Lord,
Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men's iniquities; be
they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their
deed; and so cast them down. Deliver My soul from the ungodly." Deliver My
soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on
Me. "Thy weapon: from the enemies of Thine hand" (ver. 14). For My soul is
Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue
thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly.
This weapon then "deliver from the enemies of Thine hand," that is, of Thy
Power, that is, from Mine enemies. "Destroy them, O Lord, from off the
earth, scatter them in their life." O Lord, destroy them from off the earth,
which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which
only they think their life, who despair of life eternal. " *
I composed this comment from the Jamestown area where we celebrated Holy Communion in remembrance of the first English Holy Communion in what was to become the English colonies in 1607. In preparation for today's service I read a good portion of the book Savage Kingdom. The Company's parson, the Reverend Master Hunt, would have felt very close to today's collect, epistle and Psalm 17. You see, he and his friend Captain John Smith, who had been slandered and imprisoned for some time on false charges, were under duress from conspirators within the company, including traitors to the Crown. Master Hunt would have also probably emphasized the epistle today as he worked to bring the fractions to work together within the Company for their very survival against enemies internal and external. In his autobiography, Captain Smith lauded Master Hunt for his efforts and success in working for peace in the Company.
I sometimes hear clerks speak of the "Ministry of Reconciliation" in terms so that one might think that Paul meant his ministry to be one of reconciling one antagonistic party with another through some sort of compromise or understanding of beliefs through listening.
Listening is helpful where misunderstanding is present, for sure. It is worse that useless when it involves ploys to bring the faithful to accepting heretical beliefs and clearly sinful actions as blessed. It is no part of Christ's prayer that we all may be one. Paul's ministry of reconciliation was chiefly in reconciling fallen man with God through Jesus Christ, and the recognition that all so reconciled were of the same Body.
Paul understood first things and secondary things. The first things, like the basis of faith in Christ, worship of God alone, and the means of salvation are not to be compromised but should be resisted everywhere and the faith defended, and that man's election is evidenced from a turning from sin. Secondary things, such as the observance of special days, diet, governance, civil affairs, and such sundries are acceptable in love and Christian forbearance.
The church has been challenged in these latter days by revolutions in the approach to first things, and the Order of Centurions was formed and exists to provide a haven for those who seek an organization that recognizes and promotes the core and fundamental beliefs of the church without regard to specific denominations and their secondary things.
As the psalmist wrote, and like the collect of Gregory petitions, we call on God to defend us from the enemies (heretics) and to disappoint and cast down their evil designs (to destroy the faith and example given by our Lord).
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]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM