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The Second Sunday in Lent

Augustine on Psalm CXIX HE
Second Sunday in Lent Home

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacrementary of Gregory - Bishop of Rome. [600 AD] The petition is not only for assualts from without, but also from within.

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. 

Gen x. 44. 37 Psalm 6, 38 | 119:33–72   1 Thessalonians iv. 1. & St. Matthew xv. 21 


Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

Greetings Centurions, Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, we examine a portion of Psalm 119--section: HE, and the first verse, and that portion of Augustine's homily that covered it. 

To begin, I encourage you to read Augustine's preface for this Psalm.

The Psalm is constructed in such a way that the opening of each section was a letter in the Hebrew alphabet--an acrostic form. When translated into other languages, the  historical alphabetical division was lost. However, we will address the Psalm by the original divisions.  Section HE begins with the plea of "yârâh" meaning teach.  Augustine wrote,

Why doth this man still pray for a law to be laid down for him; which, if it had not been laid down for him, he could not have run the way of God's commandments in the breadth of his heart? But since one speaketh who is growing in grace, and who knoweth that it is God's gift that he profiteth in grace; what else doth he pray, when he prayeth that a law may be laid down for him, save that he may profit more and more? As, if thou holdest a full cup, and givest it to a thirsty man; he both exhausts it by drinking it, and prayeth for it by still longing for it.… 

One of Augustine's main works was to combat the heresy of the monk Pelagius who maintained that there was no taint of original sin from Adam, and that man could do right if he only would choose to do so.  Augustine soundly defended the catholic faith, that it is through God's grace only that we may know God's law and will, by his grace that we may succeed, and not by our determination.  I reckon that is why some read or hear the Scriptures and walk away as if they were blind and deaf, while others are enlightened and quickened through God's grace.  The parable of the sower is related to this thought as well [Mark 4:12]

 In the Council of Orange (529) it is written:

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).

Praise be to God that he answers the righteous prayers of his sons, instructs them, and leads them in right ways.


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 

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 Frederkisburg, 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 the conducted a bayonet assault that overwhelmed the attacking Confederates. He distinguished himself again at the Siege of Petersburg, where he fell. General Grant promoted him to General. Chamberlain was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He served 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 his Appomattox chapter of 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 pluage him until his death in 1914.

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 First Sunday in Lent

At Morning Prayer: Cyprian on the Lord's Prayer Matthew vi. 11. 

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. 

At Morning Prayer: Isaiah lviii   St. Matthew vi. 1ff

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father...



This Sunday I have selected a set of readings that are used at Morning Prayer on the first Sunday in Lent. They deal with the topics of alms, fasting, and prayer. The Church has emphasized these activities during Lent, and they were practices of our Lord's day in seasons of fasting. However, as Isaiah and our Lord noted, the practices were perverted and self-serving; people employed them to bring credit on themselves in the eyes of their fellows. As Jesus observed such, he made it plain those who did so "already had their reward" in the admiration they gained from others. On the other hand, he commanded us in how we ought to go about our work of prayer, alms, and fasting.

Let us turn to our guest preacher this day: Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (martyred Sept 14, 258)

9. But what matters of deep moment are contained in the Lord's prayer! How many and! How great, briefly collected in the words, but spiritually abundant in virtue! so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these our prayers and petitions, as in a compendium of heavenly doctrine. "After this manner," says He, "pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven." The new man, born again and restored to his God by His grace, says "Father," in the first place because he has now begun to be a son. "He came," He says, "to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name." The man, therefore, who has believed in His name, and has become God's son, ought from this point to begin both to give thanks and to profess himself God's son, by declaring that God is his Father in heaven; and also to bear witness, among the very first words of his new birth, that he has renounced an earthly and carnal father, and that he has begun to know as well as to have as a father Him only who is in heaven, as it is written: "They who say unto their father and their mother, I have not known thee, and who have not acknowledged their own children these have observed Thy precepts and have kept Thy covenant. Also the Lord in His Gospel has bidden us to call "no man our father upon earth, because there is to us one Father, who is in heaven." And to the disciple who had made mention of his dead father, He replied, "Let the dead bury their dead; " for he had said that his father was dead, while the Father of believers is living. 

The full text of Cyprian's homily is at the link above, and it is a very long one. I would encourage all to read it this week, and to practice in this period of Lent what our Lord commanded us to do in terms of our alms, fasting, and prayer this season. I would suggest that you lay aside a certain amount day-by-day in these 40 days, and at Easter, give your alms to a worthy charitable cause of your choosing. One that is on the top of my mind this year is for the folk in Haiti who survived the earthquake and only through a legitimate organization.

I encourage you also to take up a structured use of the Lord's prayer, if you have not done so already, in obedience to our Lord's commandment in this Gospel. Years after Cyprian's death, Augustine was bishop in Africa in Hippo. In his writings he encouraged all to use the Lord's prayer thrice daily, and the Creed twice.

Be cautious to make your prayers and alms giving a matter between you and your heavenly Father, and not of public display, that your reward might be great in Heaven.

Lastly, in following the words of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading, make this fast one of justice, compassion, and mercy through your daily intercourse with family, friends, associates, and yes, even your perceived personal enemies.

Historical Note: The Church has always followed our Lord's commandment to use this prayer, and to use "Father" to address God the Father. In the latter portion of the 20th century certain heretics began to substitute other names for "Father" in disobedience. This was a result of the influence of the political and social feminist movement of these latter days, but is not accepted as an authorized substitute for the words given to the Church in the Gospels. I believe that no orthodox-catholic believer would do so. See more here.


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 Quinquagesima

the Sunday before Lent 
Augustine on a parallel Gospel
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 Parallel Gospel of Matthew XX

Lord have mercy on us, thou Son of David


Today's Gospel concerns the miraculous healing of the blind man who cried out to Jesus, Lord have mercy on us, thou Son of David, as he passed by on the way to Jerusalem with his disciples. The crowd attempted to quiet the blind man, but he cried only louder. A very similar healing occurred in the Gospel of Matthew XX with two blind men. 

Augustine examines this plea to our Lord in the homily at the link. Moreover, he recognizes that these types of events have "passed by" and are no more, but rather that another more profound healing of internal sight is to be realized by those who cry out for our Lord.

Now let us examine the following portion of his homily,

These things then the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole world. And now He worketh greater cures, on account of which He disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they believe who did not believe, and they live well, who did live evilly, and they obey, who did not obey; and we say, "Such a man is become a believer;" and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as hardened. Why then dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is living innocently, and serving God; but because thou dost behold him seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living, whom thou hadst known to be dead; dost behold him hearing, whom thou hadst known to be deaf? For consider that there are who are dead in another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spake to a certain man who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father; "Let the dead," said He, "bury their dead." Surely these dead buriers are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead bodies. Yet doth he call them dead; where, but in the soul within? For as we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul within; and these the Apostle arouses thus, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is the Same who giveth light to the blind, that awakeneth the dead. For it is with His voice that the cry is made by the Apostle to the dead, "Awake, thou that sleepest." And the blind will be enlightened with light, when he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before His eyes, when He said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." For who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears then did He seek for, but those of the inner man?

Do you believe in Miracles? I do. Indeed, I look at things much differently than 4o years ago and see the miraculous in many aspects of life; if not, intercessory prayer would be a bit foolish: wouldn't it?  I think this quotation from  C. S. Lewis  in Miracles is telling, 

Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known. We have already seen that if you begin by ruling out the supernatural you will perceive no miracles. We must now add that you will equally perceive no miracles until you believe that nature works according to regular laws. If you have not yet noticed that the sun always rises in the East you will see nothing miraculous about his rising one morning in the West. (pg. 75)

In these latter days we hear of miraculous healing events of faithful. Sometimes these are associated with visions, such as at Lourdes, France where 67 such reported cures there have been affirmed by the Roman Church. Other times we may hear of a complete and unexpected remedy or reversal of an incurable disease for which faithful have prayed-- a form of Faith Healing. In the orthodox and catholic church, healing prayers by ministers for the faithful are under the sacrament of "Unction" and are accompanied by the laying on of hands and with anointing. [James 5:14]

We may never directly witness any of these types of cures, and may accept or reject their stories based on our faith and reason, but all Christians may witness how God 


heals  those who come to him in faith. Augustine describes these more profound healing events as he witnessed them in about 400 AD -- by opening eyes to God's light, ears to God's voice, and changing outward behavior.

"The ways by which the Holy Ghost leads men and women to Christ are wonderful and mysterious: He is often beginning in a heart a work which shall stand to eternity, when a looker-on observes nothing remarkable. In every work there must be a beginning, and in spiritual work that beginning is often very small." [J. C. Ryle]


Unfortunately there are traveling revival programs whose  preachers, in the name of our Lord, falsely claim divine power to heal and sometime perform apparent physical manifestations on stage. They then make collections to enrich themselves and their programs relying on superstition, and thereby perpetuate the deceit.  I commend this paper on this type of sham. Those who falsely invoke God have their reward.


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 CXXXIX
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: Sacrmentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome. 

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

Homily of Augustine on Psalm 139

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.


A few weeks ago folk gathered in the United States on the Washington Mall and at churches in Washington to protest the US Supreme Court decision of 1973 that allowed abortion. The polls today say that the opinions concerning abortion are shifting toward life. The organization"NOW" is upset because Focus on the Family is planning to team with a football star for an advertisement for life and family. He is at the Super Bowl because his mother bravely chose life.

Today's psalm is one of the key scriptures that concerned Christians cite in defense of life. Let us now read some of what Augustine told his congregation.

Behold Thou, Lord, hast known all my last doings, and the ancient ones". ...

"Thou hast fashioned me, and hast laid Thine hand upon me." "Fashioned me," where? In this mortality; now, to the toils whereunto we all are born. For none is born, but God has fashioned him in his mother's womb; nor is there any creature, whereof God is not the Fashioner.

We have discovered the means by which God accomplishes this miracle. It is in the  genetic code that God fashions in the instant of conception in the mother's womb when man and woman unite and a life is created. 

Now then, some who present themselves as religious leaders in our society endorse, even bless, the destruction of these babes which God has created, and by the most inhumane type of slaughter. It is important that all clearly understand what is entailed (caution: the techniques describe on this site are accurate and horrible)

There are  churches that have joined hands with this abomination (e.g., TEC and RCRC) and have actively and officially petitioned the US Congress to fund  abortions with tax dollars -- collected from a people who are for the most part against abortion.  

Meanwhile, others take a strong stand for life  (e.g. RCC, OCA, PCA, LCMS, etc. and see also this resolution from the TEC Diocese of South Carolina against the TEC & RCRC ) Many have taken a personal stand and signed the Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience, which has become a grassroots protest against government's actions that destroy life, diminish the institution of marriage, and curtail freedom of religion.

What of early Christians...well they held the same belief as the Jew.  Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the 1st Century who was present at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 when Christianity was still considered a sect of the Jews, wrote, "The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.[*]  Of course, he spoke here of the same law that our Lord did, the Commandment that thou shalt do no murder.

I cannot help but wonder whether they who perpetuate this holocaust in the womb may be of those whom Augustine says, in this homily,

For there is another "latest" for certain wicked ones, to whom it shall be said, "Go ye into everlasting fire." ...

Finally, let us consider the collect for today, drawn from the Sacramentary of Gregory I of Rome. I hope we can all acknowledge that the words of Saint Paul, the Doctor to the Gentiles, have served us well through the centuries, and through God's power we have been defended and protected from heresies such as calling abortion a blessing. Paul, a servant of Christ, has left us a legacy that has guided us in running our race in the way of the Commandments, toward that ultimate prize.  Glory be to 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]