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The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm 60
Trinity 17 Home

LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gregory [595]. "Prevent" meaning to come before from the verb prevenient. This calls to my mind Patrick's Breastplate Christ behind me, Christ before me... and Psalm 139 Thou hast beset me before and behind...

2 Sam viii, Psalm 60, Ephesians iv. 1   &   St. Luke xiv. 1 
Homily - Psalm LX by Augustine

"God, Thou hast driven us back, 
and hast destroyed us"

Augustine wrote of the first verse.

"God, Thou hast driven us back, and hast destroyed us" (ver. 1). Is that David speaking that smote, that burned up, that defeated, and not they to whom He did these things, that is to say, their being smitten and driven back, that were evil men, and again their being made alive and returning in order that they might be good men? That destruction indeed that David made, strong of hand, our Christ, whose figure that man was bearing; He did those things, He made this destruction with His sword and with His fire: for both He brought into this world. Both "Fire I am come to send into the world," [2298] thou hast in the Gospel: and "A sword I have come to send into the earth," [2299] thou hast in the Gospel. He brought in fire, whereby might be burned up Mesopotamia in Syria, and Syria Sobal: He brought in a sword whereby might be smitten Edom. Now again this destruction was made for the sake of "those that are changed unto the title's inscription." Hear we therefore the voice of them: to their health smitten they were, being raised up let them speak. Let them say, therefore, that are changed into something better, changed unto the title's inscription, changed unto teaching for David himself; let them say, "Thou hast had mercy upon us." Thou hast destroyed us, in order that Thou mightest build us; Thou hast destroyed us that were ill builded, hast destroyed empty oldness; in order that there may be a building unto a new man, building to abide for everlasting.... 

This psalm was likely composed by David after he suffered some setback in his battles with his neighbors described in 2 Samuel 8:1-14.  He must of encountered a tactical setback at one point in the campaign and interpreted in terms of God's will and displeasure with Israel. Hence his prayer that God would come back and aid them to defeat their enemies.  Augustine, while recognizing the historical context as described in the header for this psalm, nevertheless takes the opportunity to speak of it in terms of how Jesus reaches out to his elect, smites them in their sin, and then in his mercy brings them to repentance and faith.  

The theme here of Jesus active in salvation is echoed in the collect for today, which was written at about the same time as this homily. God goes before those who have been called, through grace gives them the means to hear and respond to his word, and then follows them aiding them to overcome the old man for the new. Along the way with fire (spirit?) and sword (word?), he purges them to enable them to become perfect (Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect), to do his good works, and to prepare them for their final destiny. When they backslide, he chastens them, and fills them with remorse and a desire to set things right through confession and repentance--just as he did with Peter:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when [when, not if] thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. [Luke 22:31]

The prayer of our Lord Jesus is most efficacious and perfect in its intention.

A closing prayer suitable to complement our collect and Augustine's exegesis:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

[Patrick's Breastplate]
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 Begetter of All Evil

The chief author of sin, then, is the devil, the begetter of all evil... This is not my teaching, but that of the inspired Prophet Ezechiel... "Blameless you were in your conduct from the day you were created until evil was found in you."  The phrase, "was found in you," is most appropriate, for the evil was not brought in from without, but you yourself begot it.  

[Cyril of Jerusalem, as translated in Message of the Church Fathers, Preaching the Word by Thomas K Carroll]

In follow-up to the earlier posting for this Sunday...I thought this passage of Cyril was quite on the mark considering the comment on Augustine's homily on the Psalm LIX

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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 Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm LIX
Trinity 16 Home

O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect - Bishop Gelasius' Sacrementary [494AD].One is reminded of Psalm 51 purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean and Rev 7:14, washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb

Isaiah xii, Psalms 98, 99 | 89, 59 Ephesians iii. 13   &   St. Luke vii. 11

Homily of Augustine on Psalm LIX

Deliver me from mine enemies, my God,
and from men rising up upon me, redeem thou me


Augustine wrote:

"Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me" (ver. 1). There hath been done this thing in the flesh of Christ, it is being done in us also. For our enemies, to wit the devil and his angels, cease not to rise up upon us every day, and to wish to make sport of our weakness and our frailness, by deceptions, by suggestions, by temptations, and by snares of whatsoever sort to entangle us, while on earth we are still living. But let our voice watch unto God, and cry out in the members of Christ, under the Head that is in heaven, "Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me."

Augustine has treated this opening verse as relating to Satan and his minions.   That is the Gospel, but it is a Gospel that is lost to a large part of the post-modern Church I fear. Satan is treated as some sort of a fairytale hobgoblin and is not taken seriously.  Many have dismissed the idea of "evil" altogether and have labeled behaviors which are hurtful and deviant as only some medical disorder for which an atheist offers treatments.  Day by day we read of those who turn on their families, friends, and neighbors. They kill them and then kill themselves.  That happened just this week near my little home town-with six now dead.  What evil is this that pervades our society and flourishes from time to time with these extreme acts of hatred and malice?  What is the remedy? 

The collect for today rightly addresses the need of the Church for God's continual grace in cleansing its members and protecting it from the Adversary; who is himself the father of lies, deceit, cruelty, lust, hatred, and enmity. The Bishop of Rome recently said as much when one of his lieutenants accused the press of persecuting the Roman Church...saying,  "The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside, but is born from the sin within the church"

Today's collect is a good one for the Church. Our Lord gave each of us one for ourselves in the Lord's Prayer, and as an article of our petition we ask our Father in Heaven to keep us from all temptation, and another article to deliver us from the wiles of the Evil One.  Amen and amen.

    From all evil and mischief; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation, 
     Good Lord, deliver us.
     From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness, 
     Good Lord, deliver us.
     From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, 
     Good Lord, deliver us.

Amen.  (a Litany)
May God have mercy on those who have succumbed to the wiles of Satan, hear their prayer of confession, heal their sin, and as our verse today says, "redeem thou me" -- redeem them to everlasting fellowship with him.


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 Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gelasius [494]. Jesus promised us the help of the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us [Jn 14:26]. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us it is charity that is profitable. [Barbee & Zahl]

Deuteronomy vii. 6-13, Psalm 97,98 | 79, 80, Galatians vi. 11   &   St. Matthew vi. 24


"But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Truly this symbol is thought despicable; but it is so in the world's reckoning, and among men; in Heaven and among the faithful it is the highest glory. Poverty too is despicable, but it is our boast; and to be cheaply thought of by the public is a matter of laughter to them, but we are elated by it. So too is the Cross our boast. He does not say, "I boast not," nor, "I will not boast," but, "Far be it from me that I should," as if he abominated it as absurd, and invoked the aid of God in order to his success therein. And what is the boast of the Cross? That Christ for my sake took on Him the form of a slave, and bore His sufferings for me the slave, the enemy, the unfeeling one; yea He so loved me as to give Himself up to a curse for me. What can be comparable to this! If servants who only receive praise from their masters, to whom they are akin by nature, are elated thereby, how must we not boast when the Master who is very God is not ashamed of the Cross which was endured for us. Let us then not be ashamed of His unspeakable tenderness; He was not ashamed of being crucified for thy sake, and wilt thou be ashamed to confess His infinite solicitude? It is as if a prisoner who had not been ashamed of his King, should, after that King had come to the prison and himself loosed the chains, become ashamed of him on that account. Yet this would be the height of madness, for this very fact would be an especial ground for boasting.

[John Chrysostom] 

 Read it all at the link...  this quotation seems quite appropriate as will celebrate Holy Cross Day on the 14th, and some on this Sunday -- Let us Glory in the Cross of Christ!

Lift High the Cross

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.


Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.


O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.


So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.


-- 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 Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm 85

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source of Collect: Very earliest of the Sacramentaries [440]. 1 Corinthans 13:13 "now abideth faith, hope, and charity... There are two petitions, to give us increase, and secondly to make us to love reminds us of Romans 6:17... being "obdeient from the heart" [Barbee and Zahl]

Micah vi. 1, Psalm 84, 85 | 74 , Galatians v. 16   &  St. Luke xvii. 11

Homily of Augustine on Psalm LXXXV

Turn us, O God of our salvation, 
and cause thine anger toward us to cease.


Augustine writes: 

"Be not angry with us for ever" (ver. 5). For by the anger of God we are subject to death, and by the anger of God we eat bread on this earth in want, and in the sweat of our face. This was Adam's sentence when he sinned: and that Adam was every one of us, for "in Adam all die;" [ the sentence passed on him hath taken effect after him on us. For we were not yet ourselves, but we were in Adam: therefore whatever happened to Adam himself took effect on us also, so that we should die: for we all were in him....So far as this the sin of thy father hurts thee not, if thou hast changed thyself, even as it would not hurt thy father if he had changed himself. But that which our stock hath received unto its subjection to death, it hath derived from Adam. What hath it so derived? That frailty of the flesh, this torture of pains, this house of poverty, this chain of death, and snares of temptations; all these things we carry about in this flesh; and this is the anger of God, because it is the vengeance of God. But because it was so to be, that we should be regenerated, and by believing should be made new, and all that mortality was to be removed in our resurrection, and the whole man was to be restored in newness; "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive;"  seeing this the Prophet saith, "Be not angry with us for ever, nor stretch out Thy wrath from one generation to another." The first generation was mortal by Thy wrath: the second generation shall be immortal by Thy mercy....  "O God, Thou shalt turn us again, and make us alive" (ver. 6). Not as if we ourselves of our own accord, without Thy mercy, turn unto Thee, and then Thou shalt make us alive: but so that not only our being made alive is from Thee, but our very conversion, that we may be made alive. "And Thy people shall rejoice in Thee." To their own evil they shall rejoice in themselves: to their own good they shall rejoice in Thee. For when they wished to have joy of themselves, they found in themselves woe: but now because God is all our joy, he that will rejoice securely, let him rejoice in Him who cannot perish."

There are two things I would point out to the reader here: 

First is the same point as last week, Augustine argues against the error of Pelagius who denied original sin, and claimed that men were all good, and all had the ability to turn themselves if they only would. The psalmist says, "Turn us O God".

Second, this heresy of Pelagianism is alive and well, perhaps in your very church. Be not deceived, they who make the Cross of Christ of no account do so at their peril. There is one Savior who gave himself up to save us poor, miserable sinners; no one is without sin and all need him; and none can reach the Father save through him. God the Father did this because he so loved the world, so that all that believe on Jesus the Christ will be saved. 

Notice too that the ancient collect supports the role of God as the agent for the change wrought in us, and not we of ourselves, as it says, "make us to love that which thou dost command."

Read it all at the link.

Good reading here on Pelagianism at the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry site which lists the many councils that have condemned this heresy.

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]