Total Pageviews


The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity


Augustine on Psalm 40
Trinity 13 Home

ALMIGHTY and merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so run to thy heavenly promises, that we fail not finally to attain the same; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Bishop Leo I [440-461] Sacramentary. 

Psalm xl; Galatians iii. 16   &  St. Luke x. 23 

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XL 

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay
and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.


In Leo's Collect we have the essence of the Gospel, the good news of God's free gift to his faithful. God gives his faithful the ability to render unto him "true and laudable service". 

 I believe the converse is also true, that without God's help, without this gift, we can do nothing that is pleasing to him. This gift is that amazing grace that comes, not based on our achievements in this world, but based on God's will.  I think of the man in today's Gospel beaten by the roadside. The Samaritan did not rescue him based on any merit, but rather on account of his free gift of compassion, his will to do justice and righteousness. The beaten man was unconscious, and likely near death. He could do nothing for himself.  He could not lift himself up. He could not go along with the Samaritan to help him. He could not recover of his own will.

Likewise in Psalm 40 that we study today we hear David sing of God's amazing grace

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay
and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Augustine writes of this verse.

 And what hath He accomplished for thee? What hath He done for thee? "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (ver. 2). He hath given us great blessings already: and still He is our debtor; but let him who hath this part of the debt repaid already, believe that the rest will be also, seeing that he ought to have believed even before he received anything. Our Lord has employed facts themselves to persuade us, that He is a faithful promiser, a liberal giver. What then has He already done? "He has brought me out of a horrible pit." What horrible pit is that? It is the depth of iniquity, from the lusts of the flesh, for this is meant by "the miry clay." Whence hath He brought thee out? Out of a certain deep, out of which thou criedst out in another Psalm, "Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord."  And those who are already "crying out of the deep," are not absolutely in the lowest deep: the very act of crying is already lifting them up. There are some deeper in the deep, who do not even perceive themselves to be in the deep. Such are those who are proud despisers, not pious entreaters for pardon; not tearful criers for mercy: but such as Scripture thus describes. "The sinner when he comes into the depth of evil despiseth."  For he is deeper in the deep, who is not satisfied with being a sinner, unless instead of confessing he even defends his sins. But he who has already "cried out of the deep," hath already lifted up his head in order that he might "cry out of the deep," has been heard already, and has been "brought out of the horrible pit, and out of the mire and clay." He already has faith, which he had not before; he has hope, which he was before without; he now walks in Christ, who before used to go astray in the devil. For on that account it is that he says, "He hath set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Now "that Rock was Christ."  Supposing that we are "upon the rock," and that our "goings are ordered," still it is necessary that we continue to walk; that we advance to something farther. For what did the Apostle Paul say when now upon the Rock, when his "goings had now been established"? "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended." What then has been done for thee, if thou hast not apprehended? On what account dost thou return thanks, saying, "But I have obtained mercy"?  Because his goings are now established, because he now walks on the Rock?...Therefore, when he was saying, "I press forward toward the prize of my high calling," because "his feet were now set on the Rock," and "his goings were ordered," because he was now walking on the right way, he had something to return thanks for; something to ask for still; returning thanks for what he had received already, while he was claiming that which still remained due. For what things already received was he giving thanks? For the remission of sins, for the illumination of faith; for the strong support of hope, for the fire of charity. But in what respects had he still a claim of debt on the Lord? "Henceforth," he says, "there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." There is therefore something due me still. What is it that is due? "A crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." He was at first a loving Father to "bring him forth from the horrible pit;" to forgive his sins, to rescue him from "the mire and clay;" hereafter he will be a "righteous Judge," requiting to him walking rightly, what He promised; to him (I say), unto whom He had at the first granted that power to walk rightly. He then as a "righteous Judge" will repay; but whom will he repay? "He that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved." 

I am reminded of the fight between Augustine and Pelagius over this very issue. Augstine shows how God set the standard,  resucues us from sin, opens our ears to his will, then gives us the ability to do that which he has commanded us to do.  This doctrine became a standard in the church with the Council of Orange: God's grace preceding, sanctifying, and proceeding with us. It may be that Leo and his men, who were contemporaries of Augustine, had incorporated this doctrine of grace in today's collect. 

As Augustine wrote and Pelagius contested:

"Command what thy will; and give what thy command."


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 Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm CIX

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving unto us that that our prayer dare not presume to ask, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Leo [460], revised by Gelasius [494]. (An 1662 revision by Bishop Cosin added and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. [Barbee and Zahl]

Psalms 109 , 2 Corinthians iii. 4   &  St. Mark vii. 31
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CIX

Augustine wrote of this psalm,

 Every one who faithfully readeth the Acts of the Apostles, acknowledgeth that this Psalm containeth a prophecy of Christ; for it evidently appeareth that what is here written, "let his days be few, and let another take his office," is prophesied of Judas, the betrayer of Christ....For as some things are said which seem peculiarly to apply to the Apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning, unless when referred to the Church, whom he is acknowledged to have figuratively represented, on account of the primacy [4916] which he bore among the Disciples; as it is written, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," and other passages of the like purport: so Judas doth represent those Jews who were enemies of Christ, who both then hated Christ, and now, in their line of succession, this species of wickedness continuing, hate Him. Of these men, and of this people, not only may what we read more openly discovered in this Psalm be conveniently understood, but also those things which are more expressly stated concerning Judas himself. 

Augustine followed a rule of faith in approaching Scripture. Another rule was related to me this day by my friend in a
book review of The Word of God for the People of God where he wrote:,

As Billings points out, the rule of faith, specifically as it is laid out in a tool like the Apostles' Creed, is overtly Trinitarian, announcing how God was active in Jesus Christ. Embracing this rule of faith in reading Scripture gives us the Jesus-authorized (Luke 24) go-ahead to appropriate the Old Testament in such a Jesus-shaped way that "Christians do not receive the Old Testament as a generic "word from God" to be received apart from Christ; it is because of Christ that Christians read the Old Testament as Scripture at all. […] Christians receive Israel's Scripture as their own because of "the new covenant made by God in Christ," into which they are grafted by God's covenant with Abraham" (168).

And from another minister, "A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew; but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he knows something of the cross." ~ J.C. Ryle

We all need to approach the Scripture in this manner, with a true faith; not just knowledge. Know that the Trinity was at work from the beginning, and throughout the history of the world.  Beware of those academics who teach the Bible from an agnostic standpoint (who know not the Cross of Christ). Their conclusions concerning the meanings of the verses will naturally be without faith, and their readers will be led astray as the blind leading the blind.

May God pour down upon us the abundance of his mercy, and grant to us that measure of faith and love of his Word, so that we might approach it with all due solemnity, discern it, apply it with wisdom, and follow it to his Truth

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]



Devotional Readings for the Week of August 15th, 2010


Your browser may not support display of this image. The Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos 

Revelation 11:19-12:10:  

      She who is higher than the heavens and more glorious than the cherubim, she who is held greater in honor than all creation, she who by reason of her surpassing purity became the receiver of the everlasting Essence, today commends her most pure soul into the hands of her Son. With her all things are filled with joy and she bestows great mercy upon us. (Hymn for the Feast) 

      This Woman (cf. Rev. 12:1-6), St. John says, is the Mother of the Lord: She is seen to be with child, carrying in her womb the Messiah Who is destined "to rule all nations with a rod of iron". The image of the Woman/Mother has its origins all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the first proclamation of the Gospel, in which God revealed that through the Woman would come the Redeemer to crush the Serpent's head (cf. Gen. 3:15). The picture then becomes a regular motif in the historical outworking of God's purposes with Israel. One familiar example occurs in the story of Jael and Sisera, which tells how the enemy of God's people is destroyed, his head shattered, by a woman (Jdg. 4:9, 17-22; 5:24-27; cf. the death of Abimelech in Jdg. 9:53). This is also a major theme in the story of Esther and her deliverance of Israel. The definitive fulfillment of this prophecy took place in the Virgin Birth, as Mary clearly recognized (cf. Lk. 1:51-55). (David Chilton) 

I Corinthians 15:20-27: 

      When the ruling aspect of the soul governs the others and brings them under its own direction and control, then the discordant elements, united into one and becoming concordant, are led peacefully to God. When all is then subjected to the Logos, He delivers the kingdom to God the Father. (Nikitas Stithatos) 

      Though all will be resurrected, yet the resurrection of each individual will be in accordance with his own inner state. He who through the power of the Spirit has extirpated his materialistic worldly proclivities in this life will hereafter live a divine and truly eternal life in communion with Christ. He who through surrendering to his materialistic and worldly lusts and passions has in this life deadened his spiritual being will, alas, hereafter be co-judged with the devil, who provokes all evil, and will be handed over to unbearable and immeasurable chastisement, which is the second and final death. (St. Gregory Palamas)

Luke 1:39-56: 

      Come, O gathering of those who keep the feasts. Come and let us form a choir. Come let us crown the Church with songs, as the Ark of God goes to her rest. Today heaven is opened wide as it receives the Mother of Him Who cannot be contained. The earth, as it yields up the Source of life, is robed in blessing and majesty. The hosts of angels, present with the fellowship of the Apostles, gaze in great awe at her who bore the Cause of life, now that she is translated from life to life. Let us venerate and implore her: "Forget not, O Lady, your ties of kinship with those who commemorate in faith the feast of your all-holy falling asleep." (Hymn for the Feast) 

      Elizabeth says, "Blessed are you among women;" for none was ever partaker of such grace or could be, since of the one Divine seed, there is one only parent. (St. Ambrose) 

      The Virgin, with lofty thoughts and deep understanding, contemplates the boundless mystery, the further she advances, magnifying God; And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord." (St. Basil the Great) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Diomedes the Unmercenary Healer, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Stephen I, King of Hungary 

Ezekiel 24:15-23: 

      God told Ezekiel that He was going to take away his wife. The death of Ezekiel's wife was a symbol of God's judgment against Israel, His own bride. (James Jordan) 

      There is nothing more fearful than the thought of death, or more wonderful than the remembrance of God. The first induces the grief that leads to salvation. The second bestows gladness. (Ilias the Presbyter) 

Matthew 19:16-22: 

      God knew that anything the rich man kept back would give rise to all kinds of distractions. (St. Neilos the Ascetic) 

      Some people with possessions possess them with an orderly passion and so when they are deprived of them they are not dismayed. Others possess with inordinate passion, so that when they are in danger of being dispossessed they become utterly dejected. If they are actually dispossessed, they remain dejected until they die. Dispossession reveals whether a man's inner state is ordered in its passions or dominated by passion. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Myron, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Alypios the Hymnographer 

Ezekiel 28:1-10: 

      Be quiet, you who exalt yourself! If you glory in your wisdom, if your mind is puffed up by your years because they are many; they are not more in number than those of the Prince of Tyre. During that time he said in his heart, "I am God and sit in the seat of God in the heart of the seas." But Ezekiel rebuked him and he was destroyed. (Aphrahat) 

      The demon of pride persuades a man to ascribe his achievements to himself and not to God, the Giver of all goodness and helper in every achievement. Even when impelled towards what is good, our weakness cannot bring anything to fruition without the Giver of all goodness. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

Matthew 19:23-30: 

      It is disbelief in God's providence that makes it difficult for us to eradicate the disordered passions that arise from our love of possessions, for such disbelief leads us to put our trust in material riches. We then long for worldly, perishable wealth; not for a heavenly, eternal kingdom. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

      Christ's words that the "first will be last and the last will be first" refer to those who participate in the virtues and those who participate in love; for love is the last of the virtues to be born in the heart but it is the first in value so that those born before it turn out to be "last". (St. Mark the Ascetic) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. Sts. Floros and Lauros, Martyrs   

Ezekiel 34:1-11: 

      He is rightly numbered among the hypocrites who under pretence of discipline turns the service of government to the purpose of domination. God upbraids such shepherds through the prophets, saying, "That which was broken you have not bound up, and that which was cast away you have not brought back." (St. Gregory the Great) 

      I pray that you may discern your affairs in a manner pleasing to God and may so act and endeavor that you may find Christ, as He even now cooperates with you, and in time to come will bestow on you abundantly the enjoyment of illumination that comes from Him. Do not follow the wolf instead of the shepherd, nor enter into a flock that is diseased. Do not be alone by yourself, lest you be seen carried off by the wolf, who destroys souls, or succumb to one disease after the other and so die spiritually. (St. Symeon the New Theologian) 

Matthew 20:1-16: 

      If we choose death rather than true life, God does not take away the power of choice He gave us. Not only does He not take it away, but He reminds us of it again and again. From the dawn until the dusk of this life He goes about, as in the parable of the vineyard, seeking us out and inviting us to engage in the works of life. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

      Because life eternal shall be equal to all the saints, a denarius is given to all; but forasmuch as in that life eternal the light of merits shall shine diversely, there are with the Father many mansions; so that under this same denarius bestowed unequally one shall not live longer than another, but in the many mansions one shall shine with more splendor than another. (St. Augustine) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Andrew the Commander, Martyr  

Ezekiel 36:23-28: 

      Those who declare that God would make a new covenant with men, not such as He made with the fathers at Mount Horeb, and would give to men a new heart and spirit plainly announced that liberty which distinguishes the new covenant, the faith which is in Christ, by which He has proclaimed the way of righteousness and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the elect people of God, whom He has acquired, that they might show forth His praise. (St. Irenaeus) 

      The Church, without spot or wrinkle, gathered out of all nations, and destined to reign with Christ forever, is itself the land of the blessed, the land of the living. We are to understand that this was given to the fathers when it was promised to them in the sure and immutable purpose of God, for what the fathers believed would be given in its own time was to them, on account of the unchangeableness of the promise and purpose, the same as if it were already given. (St. Augustine) 

Matthew 22:1-14: 

      Properly ordered passion is the wedding garment of the deiform soul that is separated from worldly pleasures, has renounced misdirected desires and is occupied with devout thoughts and the practice of contemplation in its purest form. But through intercourse with shameful passions the soul discards its robe of self-restraint and debases itself by wearing filthy rags and tatters. (St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic) 

      The wedding garment signifies the grace of the Holy Spirit. The man who is not worthy of wearing it has no part in the celestial marriage and in the spiritual wedding feast. (St. Makarios of Egypt) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Samuel, Prophet Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Bernard of Clairvaux 

Ezekiel 37:1-14: 

      How can someone with little or no faith be made to realize that an ant grows wings, a caterpillar turns into a butterfly and many strange and unexpected things happen in nature, so that in this way he shakes off the sickness of unbelief and despair, himself acquires wings and buds in spiritual knowledge like a tree? "I give life to the dry bones," says God. (St. John of Karpathos) 

      The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of recompense nerves the soul to good works. Every laborer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees the reward in prospect. But when men weary themselves for nothing, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. Every soul believing in a Resurrection is naturally careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again is careful of his robe, and defiles it not. He who disbelieves defiles himself and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem) 

Matthew 22:34-40: 

      Love has fittingly been called the citadel of the virtues, the sum of the Law and the Prophets. So let us make every effort to attain it. Through love we shall shake off the tyranny of inordinate passions and rise to heaven, lifted up on the wings of virtues; and we shall see God, so far as this is possible for human nature. (St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic) 

      When intellect, intelligence and spirit prostrate themselves before God, the first through attentiveness, the second through invocation and the third through compunction and love, the whole of your inner self serves God. (Nikitas Stithatos) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Thaddeus, Apostle Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Vassa and her 3 sons, Martyrs  

Ezekiel 43:1-7: 

      During Judah's apostasy, the prophet Ezekiel saw the Glory-Cloud depart from the Temple and travel east, to the Mount of Olives (Ezk. 10:18-19; 11:22-23). Later, in his vision of the New Jerusalem, he sees the Glory-Cloud returning to dwell in the new Temple, the Church (Ezk. 43:1-5). This was fulfilled when Christ, the Glory of God and the Son of the Father, was incarnated and ascended to His Father in the Cloud from the Mount of Olives (Lk. 24:50-51). (David Chilton) 

      The divine and inexpressible light is God's divinity and kingdom, the beauty and resplendence of the divine nature, the vision and delight of the saints in the age without end, the natural ray and glory of the Divinity. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

Matthew 23:1-12: 

      It is characteristic of the Spirit to act and speak in the heart, while a literal, outwardly correct observance of things characterizes the fallen unregenerate person. The Spirit of life frees the intellect from sin and death, whereas a literal, outwardly correct observance imperceptibly turns us into Pharisees, since we then act only in an external bodily sense and practice the commandments merely in order to be seen doing so. (St. Gregory of Sinai) 

      Whoever exalts himself will be abased. Thus he who is not humble has lost life and will be found with its opposite. (St. Hesychios the Priest)

Via Centurion Chris
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 Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on the Gospel

O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Gelasius [492-496]. This is the orignial as Cranmer translated it faithfully, It it was altered in the 1662 update by adding the phrase " running the way of thy commandments" The Collect's emphasis on Grace, compliments the story of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in today's Gospel story from Luke. Latin

Isaiah xxvi. 12, Psalm 125, 1 Corinthians xv. 1    St. Luke xviii. 9


This man went down to his house justified


Augustine on the Gospel...

But inasmuch as faith belongs not to the proud, but to the humble, "He spake this parable unto certain who seemed to themselves to be righteous, and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee said, God, I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men." He might at least have said, "as many men." What does, "as the rest of men," mean, but all except himself? "I," he says, "am just, the rest are sinners." "I am not as the rest of men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers." And, lo, from thy neighbour, the publican, thou takest occasion of greater pride. "As," he says, "this publican." "I," he says, "am alone, he is of the rest." "I am not," says he, "such as he is, through my righteous deeds, whereby I have no unrighteousness." "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." In all his words seek out for any one thing that he asked of God, and thou wilt find nothing. He went up to pray: he had no mind to pray to God, but to laud himself. Nay, it is but a small part of it, that he prayed not to God, but lauded himself. More than this he even mocked him that did pray. "But the Publican stood afar off;" and yet he was in deed near to God. The consciousness of his heart kept him off, piety brought him close. "But the Publican stood afar off:" yet the Lord regarded him near. "For the Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly." But "those that are high" as was this Pharisee, "He knoweth afar off. "The high" indeed "God knoweth afar off," but He doth not pardon them. Hear still more the humility of the Publican. It is but a small matter that he stood afar off; "he did not even lift up his eyes unto heaven." He looked not, that he might be looked upon. He did not dare to look upwards, his conscience pressed him down: but hope lifted him up. Hear again, "he smote his breast." He punished himself: wherefore the Lord spared him for his confession. "He smote his breast, saying, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." See who he is that prays. Why dost thou marvel that God should pardon, when he acknowledges his own sin? Thus thou hast heard the cases of the Pharisee and Publican; now hear the sentence; thou hast heard the proud accuser, thou hast heard the humble criminal; hear now the Judge. "Verily I say unto you." The Truth saith, God saith, the Judge saith it. "Verily I say unto you, That Publican went down from the temple justified rather than that Pharisee." Tell us, Lord, the cause. Lo! I see that the publican goes down from the temple justified rather than the Pharisee. I ask why? Dost thou ask why? Hear why. "Because every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Thou hast heard the sentence, beware of its evil cause. In other words, thou hast heard the sentence, beware of pride..... [read it all at the link]

I  had occasion this morning to preach on pride-and pride is the root sin at work in this story. It is likely the greatest of all sin, and leads to so much pain in this world.  We of the West live in a culture that thrives on Pride. You can read of it in the grocery line; it dominates the popular magazines, and is based on the fringe celebrity cult that so attracts this lost generation.  The shrinks, in their way, have labeled this sin as "Narcissistic Personality Disorder". The article at the link says, "The cause of this disorder is unknown".  Unknown to whom?-not unknown to this centurion. It will always be the Sin that our Lord called it, and those who live by it shall go down unjustified. No one is immune from it, and we all have pride that affects us to a greater or lesser degree, some are completely slaves to it and it colors all they do so that is is called a disorder. It is within each of us as original sin conveyed from the Sin of Adam. We cannot of ourselves master it; only through faith and that measure of grace that God grants to us, as Gelasius prayed in today's collect, may we obtain his gracious promise of life and that promised freedom from the domination of the sin of Pride.

The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. 
[CS Lewis, Mere Christianity. I encourage you to read 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 Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Homily of Augustine on Psalm 49 Part II
Home, Tenth Sunday after Trinity

LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Gelasian Sacramentary [492-496] and one similar appeared before in the Sacrementary of Leo. The petition reminds one of Romans: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Latin [Barber & Zahl]"8:26-27

Psalms 61, 62 | 48, 49 , 1 Corinthians xii. 1   &   St. Luke xix. 41

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XLIX Part II

Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd


Augustine divided his homily on Psalm 48 into two sections, and so we have the second homily this Sunday having looked at the first last year on this Sunday, He writes beginning at verse 14. 

"Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd" (ver. 14). Whose? Of those whose way is a stumbling-block to themselves. Whose? Of those who mind only things present, while they think not of things future: of those who think not of any life, but of that which must be called death. Not without cause, then, like sheep in hell, have they death to their shepherd. What meaneth, "they have death to their shepherd"? For is death either some thing or some power? Yea, death is either the separation of the soul from the body, or a separation of the soul from God, and that indeed which men fear is the separation of the soul from the body: but the real death, which men do not fear, is the separation of the soul from God. And ofttimes when men fear that which doth separate the soul from the body, they fall into that wherein the soul is separated from God. This then is death. But how is "death their shepherd"? If Christ is life, the devil is death. But we read in many places in Scripture, how that Christ is life. But the devil is death, not because he is himself death, but because through him is death. For whether that (death) wherein Adam fell was given man to drink by the persuasion of him: or whether that wherein the soul is separated from the body, still they have him for the author thereof, who first falling through pride envied him who stood, and overthrew him who stood with an invisible death, in order that he might have to pay the visible death. They who belong to him have death to their shepherd: but we who think of future immortality, and not without reason do wear the sign of the Cross of Christ on the forehead, have no shepherd but life. Of unbelievers death is the shepherd, of believers life is the shepherd. If then in hell are the sheep, whose shepherd is death, in heaven are the sheep, whose shepherd is life. What then? Are we now in heaven? In heaven we are by faith. For if not in heaven, where is the "Lift up your heart"? If not in heaven, whence with the Apostle Paul, "For our conversation is in heaven"?  In body we walk on earth, in heart we dwell in heaven. We dwell there, if thither we send anything which holdeth us there. For no one dwelleth in heart, save where thought is: but there his thought is, where his treasure is. He hath treasured on earth, his heart doth not withdraw from earth: he hath treasured in heaven, his heart from heaven doth not come down: for the Lord saith plainly, "Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also."  They, then, whose shepherd is death, seem to flourish for a time, and the righteous to labour: but why? Because it is yet night. What meaneth, it is night? The merits of the righteous appear not, and the felicity of the unrighteous hath, as it were, a name. So long as it is winter, grass appeareth more verdant than a tree. For grass flourisheth through the winter, a tree is as it were dry through the winter: when in summer time the sun hath come forth with greater heat, the tree, which seemed dry through the winter, is bursting with leaves, and putteth forth fruits, but the grass withereth: thou wilt see the honour of the tree, the grass is dried. So also now the righteous labour, before that summer cometh. There is life in the root, it doth not yet appear in the branches. But our root is love. And what saith the Apostle? That we ought to have our root above, in order that life may be our shepherd, because our dwelling ought not to quit heaven, because in this earth we ought to walk as if dead; so that living above, below we may be dead; not so as that being dead above, we may live below....Our labour shall appear in the morning, and there shall be fruit in the morning: so that they that now labour shall hereafter reign, and they that now boast them and are proud, shall hereafter be brought under. For what followeth? "Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd; and the righteous shall reign over them in the morning." 

"not without reason do wear the sign of the Cross of Christ on the forehead"

 I pray that you do wear the Cross of Christ on your forehead. 

 Those who follow after the Prince of this World likewise are marked. In Revelation we hear the mark of Satan is "666" perfectly imperfect, a counterfeit of God's truth, a lie.  Those who wear it have nothing but that which they have in this world. Their motto is like the bumper sticker that I saw that said "He who dies with the most toys wins".. Win what I ask? The promise of this  prophesy: 

"Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd". 

For what does it profit a man if he shall gain the world, yet lose his own soul" 


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]