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The Sunday next before Easter-Palm Sunday

Augustine on Psalm CX 
Palm Sunday Home

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Galesius, Bishop of Rome [494 AD]. "Palms" were carried by people on this Sunday in remembrance of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem.

Psalm 97, 110 | 22, 23 , Philippians ii. 5.     St. Matthew xxvii. 1. 

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool

Psalm CX

Glory, praise and honor,
O Christ, our Savior-King,
To thee in glad Hosannas
Inspired children sing.

[Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans (821)]

This hymn was sung in the 9th century as the people processed with palms on this Sunday.  The Palm Sunday procession was first observed in Jerusalem when the church was liberated in the 4th century. 

It is fitting that today we look at the prophetic Psalm 110, and the opening verse of that psalm that Jesus quoted to the Pharisees concerning himself  during that Holy Week [Matt xxii, 44].  The psalm speaks of the natures of David's Son and Lord: Firstly that of King, for he rules at the right hand of God (verse 1), and secondly of priest, after the order of Melchizedec, who has no beginning nor end and is priest forever (verse 4), and finally, as God's Prophet through this prophetic psalm.

As we listen and read this Holy Week, we will hear the story of our Lord as he performed his office in these three prophetic roles: 

Firstly, as Divine King beginning with his triumphant entry on the colt of an ass as a humble King [Matt xxi. 5] continuing with his confession as King before the Pharisees [Matt xxii. 44] and Pilate [Matt xxvii.11-12] and ending with his crowning and exaltation on the Cross described in today's Gospel, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews  [Matt xxvii, 37], and witnessed by the Centurion at Calvary who proclaimed him in truth as the Son of God [Matt xxvii. 54].

Secondly, as High Priest forever beginning with his purging of the temple on Palm Sunday and teachings in the Temple that day [xxi. 12ff] and ending with his perfect sacrifice on the Cross, once offered, for the propitiation of the sins of the world  [Heb x. 12]. 

Lastly, as Prophet. On the way  to Jerusalem he prophesied his demise [Mar x. 33ff]. He entered the city and wept for fate of Jerusalem as he foretold the coming destruction at the hand of the Romans in AD70 [Luk xix. 41ff & xxi. 20ff] and of the Temple's destruction [Luk xxi. 5] 

 Let us now turn to hear the comments of Augustine on this opening verse.

This Psalm is one of those promises, surely and openly prophesying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; so that we are utterly unable to doubt that Christ is announced in this Psalm, since we are now Christians, and believe the Gospel. For when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ asked of the Jews, whose Son they alleged Christ to be, and they had replied, "the Son of David;" He at once replied to their answer, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto My Lord?" etc. "If then," He asked, "David in the spirit call Him Lord, how is He his son?"With this verse this Psalm beginneth. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool". We ought, therefore, thoroughly to consider this question proposed to the Jews by the Lord, in the very commencement of the Psalm. For if what the Jews answered be asked of us, whether we confess or deny it; God forbid that we should deny it. If it be said to us, Is Christ the Son of David, or not? if we reply, No, we contradict the Gospel for the Gospel of St. Matthew thus beginneth, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David." The Evangelist declareth, that he is writing the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. The Jews, then, when questioned by Christ, whose Son they believed Christ to be, rightly answered, the Son of David. The Gospel agreeth with their answer. Not only the suspicion of the Jews, but the faith of Christians, doth declare this...."If then David in the spirit called Him Lord, how is He his son?" The Jews were silent at this question: they found no further reply: yet they did not seek Him as the Lord, for they did not acknowledge Him to be Himself that Son of David. But let us, brethren, both believe and declare: for, "with the heart we believe unto righteousness: but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;" let us believe, I say, and let us declare both the Son of David, and the Lord of David. Let us not be ashamed of the Son of David, lest we find the Lord of David angry with us. 

God forbid that any of us should be ashamed of the name or promise of our Lord Jesus. Let us prepare this Holy Week in heart and mind for the coming great Feast of the Resurrection when we with boldness will again sing our Alleluias to Christus Victor.


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 Fifth Sunday in Lent

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXIX KOPH
5th Sunday Home

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
Source: Sacramentary of Gregory, Bishop of Rome [600 AD]. The "people" in this translation is familia in Latin. 

Isaiah i. 10, Psalm 42, 43 | 119:145–176 , Hebrews ix. 11, St. John viii. 46.

"I have called with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord!
I will search out Thy righteousnesses."


The verse above comes from Augustine's homily, and is worded differently in the English KJV translation as "I will keep thy statutes."  I have before me the  Orthodox Study Bible based on the Septuagint version where it is rendered like that which Augustine had before him in Latin as "I shall search your ordinances."

I am reminded of Paul who spoke of the noble Bereans when he wrote, "These [of Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; [Acts 17:11ff]

In this age of computers, searching the scriptures has become a very easy task. Simply going to Google and entering part of a verse will normally produces many resources.  I am using E-Sword freely given to all  as I compose this letter. Yet, we find that not many  today are able to call on the wealth of wisdom that God has given to us in his greatest icon...the Bible... because they have never truly heard the Word.  Let us hear what Augustine said on this verse in today's homily:

 …He who singeth this Psalm, mentioneth such a prayer of his own: "I have called with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord!". For to what end his cry profiteth, he addeth: "I will search out Thy righteousnesses." For this purpose then he hath called with his whole heart, and hath longed that this might be given him by the Lord listening unto him, that he may search out His righteousnesses… 


Augustine makes an important point in the part of man and the part of God in saying that he longed that this might be given him by the Lord...that he may search out his righteousness.    It is only those whom God has called and convicted which may find God's righteousness.  Oh, many read his words. They may become academic "experts" in the criticism of the text, They may gain a tremendous knowledge of the scriptures, but if God has not gone before them, they shall not be able to "know" him. Their faith will be dead.  Their minds may understand the words, but  their hearts will not embrace the Truth.  For it is God that quickens the heart, strengthens faith, and leads us into all Truth.

This week a fellow centurion shared with me an article by Albert Mohler discussing a new study on atheism in the pulpit. It looks at those book-wise seminary trained clerks who stand before their cure as  ministers, but who do not believe in even the existence of God, much less Christ as Savior. Beware of the leaven of these lost and accursed souls whose end shall be the pit. See Mohler's article 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 Fourth Sunday in Lent

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXIX
Home for Lent IV

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Gregory, Bishop of Rome [600 AD]. This Sunday was sometimes known as "Refreshment Sunday" for "be relieved" from the Latin resperimus and the Gospel where Jesus relieved the multitude of their hunger. Sometimes known as "Mothering Sunday" as Paul says in the Gospel, "the Jerusalem above is the mother of us all"

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.

2 Sam xv. 30   Psalm 142, 143 | 119:105–144   Galatians iv. 21. St. John vi. 1. 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXIX NUN (105ff)

Thy word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my paths


The week we continue to look at Augustine's treatment of Psalm CXIX, and specifically that portion that began with the Hebrew letter NUN. The quotation above is the translation of the beginning of the section.  Augustine wrote

"Thy word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my paths" (ver. 105). The word "lantern" appears in the word "light;" "my feet" are also repeated in "my paths." What then meaneth "Thy Word"? Is it He who was in the beginning God with God, that is, the Word by whom all things were made? It is not thus. For that Word is a light, but is not a lantern. For a lantern is a creature, not a creator; and it is lighted by participation of an unchangeable light.…For no creature, howsoever rational and intellectual, is lighted by itself, but is lighted by participation of eternal Truth: although sometimes day is spoken of, not meaning the Lord, but that "day which the Lord hath made," and on account of which it is said, "Come unto Him, and be lightened." On account of which participation, inasmuch as the Mediator Himself became Man, He is styled lantern in the Apocalypse.. But this sense is a solitary one; for it cannot be divinely spoken of any of the saints, nor in any wise lawfully said of any, "The Word was made flesh," save of the "one Mediator between God and men."Since therefore the only-begotten Word, coequal with the Father, is styled a light; and man when enlightened by the Word is also called a light, who is styled also a lantern, as John, as the Apostles; and since no man of these is the Word, and that Word by whom they were enlightened is not a lantern; what is this word, which is thus called a light and a lantern at the same time, save we understand the word which was sent unto the Prophets, or which was preached through the Apostles; not Christ the Word, but the word of Christ, of which it is written, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"?. For the Apostle Peter also, comparing the prophetical word to a lantern, saith, "whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lantern, that shineth in a dark place." What, therefore, he here saith, "Thy word" is the word which is contained in all the holy Scriptures. 

Throughout this psalm we see the devotion of the writer to the Word of God, that is to Holy Scripture, and to the God of the Word.  Augustine rightly attributes that Word to be our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also our Light.  Scholars believe that the 119th psalm was written by a devout man of the Jewish Church upon the return from the captivity to teach the love of the Word of God.  In today's time there is great concern with the level of Biblical illiteracy amongst Christians.  I came across and interesting paper by Barbara Miller entitled Biblical Literacy: Crisis in America.  which skillfully outlined the extent of the illiteracy that has manifested itself in the past few generations.  The Bible is still the best selling book in America, but for many the Word has ceased to be a lantern to guide them and only an icon they hold sacred.  One of the purposes of the Order of Centurions is to encourage reading and meditation on the word of God. We are fortunate that our Aquilifer provides the members with a daily set of lessons with meditations by Church fathers, and we salute him for this service.  Through the regular and cyclical reading of the whole Bible, and meditation on its meaning and the understanding of the Church, one may partake of the Word, our Daily Bread, and realize the great blessing God promised--for God spoke through Isaiah saying,

 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. [55:11]

The early fathers recognized the primacy of the Word of God, listen now to their testimony:

Church Fathers on the Scripture

"We know that the Scriptures are perfect as being spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit" [Irenaeus ] 

"I adore the fullness of Scripture, which declares to me the Creator and His works" [Tertullian] 

"In the two Testaments...every word that appertains to God may be sought out and discussed, and out of them all knowledge of things may be understood. And if anything remains, which Holy Scripture does not determine, no third scripture ought to be received to authorize any knowledge." [Origen] 

"Look for no other teacher; thou hast the oracles of God; none teaches thee like these." [Chrysostom] 

"... I conjure you all, without resting in the slightest degree on the judgment of others, to consult the Scriptures."   [Chrysostom] 

"Praise God that divine Scripture is our sole infallible, sufficient rule of faith, and that faith is sufficient to justify us before God."  [Chrysostom] 

"In those things which are plainly laid down in Scripture, all things are found, which embrace faith and morals."

The generality of men still fluctuate in their opinions about this, which are as erroneous as they are numerous. As for ourselves, if the Gentile philosophy, which deals methodically with all these points, were really adequate for a demonstration, it would certainly be superfluous to add a discussion on the soul to those speculations. But while the latter proceeded, on the subject of the soul, as far in the direction of supposed consequences as the thinker pleased, we are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings." [Gregory of Nyssa] 

This seal have thou ever on thy mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power, with Scripture proofs. For concerning the divine and sacred Mysteries of the Faith, we ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures: nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell thee these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures." [Cyril of Jerusalem] 

We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith." [Irenaeus] 


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]



Third Sunday in Lent

Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXIX JOD

Home of Third Sunday in Lent 

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Saramentary of Gregory, Bishop of Rome [600 AD] In the Gospel today Jesus heals a man possesed, stretching forth his hand

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. 

Jer 20:11   Psalm 56, 86 | 119:73–104 ,   Ephesians v. 1. St. Luke xi. 14.


Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me


The Scripture reading for today is from the psalm in the section that begins with the Hebrew letter JOD. Augustine wrote, "

Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me" (ver. 73). The hands of God are the power of God. Or if the plural number moveth them, since it is not said, Thy hand, but, "Thy hands;" let them understand by the hands of God the power and wisdom of God, both of which titles are given to one Christ, who is also understood under the figure, Arm of the Lord. "Where it is read, 'And unto whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?'" Or let them understand by the hands of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit; since the Holy Spirit worketh conjointly with the Father and the Son: whence saith the Apostle, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit:" he said, "one and the self-same;" lest as many spirits as works might be imagined, not that the Spirit worketh without the Father and the Son. It is easy therefore to see how the hands of God are to be understood: provided, at the same time, that He be not denied to do those things through His Word which He doth by His hands: nor be considered not to do those things with His hands, which He doth through His word.…But is this said in respect of Adam? from whom since all men were propagated, what man, since Adam was made, may not say that he himself also was made by reason of procreation and generation from Adam? Or may it rightly be said, in this sense, "Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me," namely, that every man is born even of his parents not without the work of God, God creating, they generating? Since, if the creative Operatoria. power of God be withdrawn from things, they perish: nor is anything at all, either of the world's elements, or of parents, or of seeds, produced, if God doth not create it.…

I had mentioned in a previous post that Jesus is the incarnation of the "right hand of God" and that it had been part of Church tradition. In this homily today we see Augustine making this point distinctly again. We also notice that today's collect asked God, as our Sovereign, to stretch forth his right hand to defend and to protect us. Augustine makes a nice point in his examination of "hands" in emphasizing the Triune God, who acts as one God always in three persons, "hands" as it were. Have you ever noticed the propensity of the early church fathers to always end the collects in the name of the "Father, Son and Holy Ghost", it directly relates to this concept of the unity of the Godhead, and I believe, to an practice to ensure the faithful did not fall into the heresy of Arianism. We may think in terms of one of the Three being the actors in some divine action. For instance, you will sometimes hear, "God the Creator, Son the Redeemer, and Holy Ghost the Sanctifier" but indeed God is not divided, but rather one God, he acts through the "faces" of the Trinity in Unity--thus also his "hands".  

Tomorrow the appointed OT lesson is Deut 6:1ff. In this passage God told  Moses to teach the people this Commandment.  

  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

Here, "the LORD" is the proper name of God as given to Moses.  The word translated as "one" is the Hebrew "echad" can also be understood to be "in Unity" or "alone".  Strong wrote of this word:

A numeral from H258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first: - a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain [dai-] ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

In the Gospels, our Lord Jesus, God incarnate, said this was "the first and greatest commandment" - this I believe.

This concept of the Trinity in Unity is difficult, no doubt. Hilary called it "incomprehensible" in the following Creed/hymn he composed a generation after Augustine and Chrysostom:  Please join in saying or singing it this day.

   WHOSOEVER will be saved : before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
       Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled : without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.        And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;        Neither confounding the Persons : nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son : and another of the Holy Ghost.        But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one : the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.         Such as the Father is, such is the Son : and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate : and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible : and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.         The Father eternal, the Son eternal : and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals : but one eternal.         As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.         So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty : and the Holy Ghost Almighty.        And yet they are not three Almighties : but one Almighty.        So the Father is God, the Son is God : and the Holy Ghost is God        And yet they are not three Gods : but one God.         So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord : and the Holy Ghost Lord.         And yet not three Lords : but one Lord.         For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord;        So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion : to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.         The Father is made of none : neither created, nor begotten.         The Son is of the Father alone : not made, nor created, but begotten.         The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son : neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.         So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons : one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.         And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other : none is greater, or less than another;         But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together : and co-equal.        So that in all things, as is aforesaid : the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.         He therefore that will be saved : must think thus of the Trinity.         Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation : that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.         For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess : that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;         God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds : and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world;         Perfect God and perfect Man : of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.         Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead : and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood;         Who, although he be God and Man : yet he is not two, but one Christ;         One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh : but by taking of the Manhood into God;         One altogether; not by confusion of Substance : but by unity of Person.         For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man : so God and Man is one Christ;         Who suffered for our salvation : descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.         He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty : from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead.         At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies : and shall give account for their own works.         And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting : and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.         This is the Catholick Faith : which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.  
       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. 

This is the Catholick faith.


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]