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The First Sunday in Advent

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen..

Source: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549 Prayer Book. Based on Romans 13:8-12 and Mathew 21:1-13 which are appointed for this Sunday [Barbee and Zahl]

Admonition and Exhortation for Communion

Isaiah xxviii. 14, Romans xiii. 8   &  St. Matthew xxi. 1
Psalms viii, l | xcvi, xcvii


Christ came to visit us in great humility

John Chrysostom wrote

He was fulfilling also another prophecy, one which was twofold, one part in words, and another in deeds. And that in deeds was, by the sitting on the ass; and that by words, the prediction of Zacharias; because he had said, that the King should sit on an ass. And He, having sat and having fulfilled it, gave to the prophecy another beginning again, by what He was doing typifying beforehand the things to come. How and in what manner? He proclaimed beforehand the calling of the unclean Gentiles, and that He should rest upon them, and that they should yield to Him and follow Him, and prophecy succeeded to prophecy. But to me He seemeth not for this object only to sit on the ass, but also as affording us a standard of self-denial. For not only did He fulfill prophecies, nor did He only plant the doctrines of the truth, but by these very things He was correcting our practice for us, everywhere setting us rules of necessary use, and by all means amending our life. For this cause, I say, even when He was to be born He sought not a splendid house, nor a mother rich and distinguished, but a poor woman, and one that had a carpenter as her betrothed husband; and is born in a shed, and laid in a manger: and choosing His disciples, He chose not orators and wise men, not rich men and nobly born, but poor men, and of poor families, and in every way undistinguished; and providing His table, at one time He sets before Himself barley loaves, and at another at the very moment commands the disciples to buy at the market. And making His couch, He makes it of grass, and putting on raiment, He clothes Himself in what is cheap, and in no respect different from the common sort; and a house He did not so much as possess. And if He had to go from place to place, He did this travelling on foot, and so travelling, as even to grow weary. And sitting, He requires no throne nor pillow, but sits on the ground, sometimes in the mountain, and sometimes by the well, and not merely by the well, but also alone, and talks with a Samaritan woman.

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"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 next before Advent

Homily of Augustine on John vi. 53. and Jeremiah
Home, Sunday before Advent

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, more readily following after the effect of thy Divine working, may obtain from thy fatherly goodness larger assistance; plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Galatius Sacramentary. English AB Cranmer translated the "Divine workings as "good works" and made and some other translation adaptions that actually take this collect away from its very strong statement on grace and God's action. The title of this collect "The Sunday next before Advent" was that which was used in the Sarum Missal. This translation is from Collects of the Day vol II.,

Jeremiah xxiii, Psalm 149 &  St. John vi.
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXLIX

this is his name whereby he shall be called, 

This week I have selected a Gospel reading from the same chapter as that which was appointed in the 1662 prayer book, but later on in the chapter, and one that is familiar to you I pray. The opening paragraph of the homily concerns the nature of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.  While reflecting on John vi. 53, "Except ye eat the flesh...."   Augustine preached,  "But then this shall be, that is, the Body and the Blood of Christ shall be each man's Life; if what is taken in the Sacrament visibly is in the truth itself eaten spiritually, drunk spiritually.

This homily also touches on the appointed OT reading of Jeremiah that serves for the Epistle, and which is quoted below:

This then is the righteousness of God. As it is called, "The Lord's salvation," not whereby the Lord is saved, but which He giveth to them whom He saveth; so too the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord is called the righteousness of God, not as that whereby the Lord is righteous, but whereby He justifieth those whom of ungodly He maketh righteous. But some, as the Jews in former times, both wish to be called Christians, and still ignorant of God's righteousness, desire to establish their own, even in our own times, in the times of open grace, the times of the full revelation of grace which before was hidden; in the times of grace now manifested in the floor, which once lay hid in the fleece. I see that a few have understood me, that more have not understood, whom I will by no means defraud by keeping silence. Gideon, one of the righteous men of old, asked for a sign from the Lord, and said, "I pray, Lord, that this fleece which I put in the floor be bedewed, and that the floor be dry." And it was so; the fleece was bedewed, the whole floor was dry. In the morning he wrung out the fleece in a basin; forasmuch as to the humble is grace given; and in a basin, ye know what the Lord did to His disciples. Again, he asked for another sign; "O Lord, I would," saith he, "that the fleece be dry, the floor bedewed." And it was so. Call to mind the time of the Old Testament, grace was hidden in a cloud, as the rain in the fleece. Mark now the time of the New Testament, consider well the nation of the Jews, thou wilt find it as a dry fleece; whereas the whole world, like that floor, is full of grace, not hidden, but manifested. Wherefore we are forced exceedingly to bewail our brethren, who strive not against hidden, but against open and manifested grace. There is allowance for the Jews. What shall we say of Christians? Wherefore are ye enemies to the grace of Christ? Why rely ye on yourselves? Why unthankful? For why did Christ come? Was not nature here before? Was not nature here, which ye only deceive by your excessive praise? Was not the Law here? But the Apostle says, "If righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain." What the Apostle says of the Law, that say we of nature to these men. "If righteousness come by nature, then Christ is dead in vain."

This was part of a sermon against the heresy of the Pelagians. Those who imagined they were of their own nature able to do that which God, in his law, has required of men, so that they only needed Jesus because they did not do that which they all were totally capable of doing.  The fact is that the scriptures throughout deny this fallacy. Mankind is fallen. Men can no more "will" to do righteously without the grace of God than they can will to walk on water of their own desire. Our wills are corrupt and therefore we will for that which is corrupt. Man is in the bondage of sin until the Lord shall make him free.   God spoke this truth through Jeremiah in today's reading, "The Lord [is] our Righteousness" and not we of ourselves.

Look at today's collect too. This is a clearer rendering of the original Latin, I believe, than one finds in the prayer book translation.  The Early Church fathers had grasped this truth of God's leading, and it was only the error that crept into the thinking of men, corrupt thinking, that led some who called themselves Christians to claim such human power for pure righteousness of their own accord. Rather, "The Lord [is] our Righteousness and not we of ourselves.  

When that awful Last Great Day of the Lord comes, will you stand judgement on your corrupt will, feeble faith, and inadequate works?  Or will you not rather look to your only Advocate and Mediator who presents himself in that heavenly temple day and night?  Will you not admit you are saints saved by grace; and any good you have done is by his leading, his mercy, and his work in you?  Will you rather not look for the justification he promised for his elect through the merits of his good work, by faith, and give glory to God and say with the host, "The Lord [is] our Righteousness" and not we of ourselves?


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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 Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm 145
Home, Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Leo of Rome [461] and of Gregory. Said the Sunday week before the penitential season of Advent, it begs God for absolution. Today's Gospel echoes this theme as the woman was released from her bands of infirmity through faith [Barbee and Zahl]

Psalm  145, Colossians i. 3   &  St. Matthew ix. 18 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXLV 

 "I will exalt Thee, my God, my King; and I will bless Thy Name for the age, and age upon age"


 David composed this psalm near the end of his life.  It is the last of the "acrostic" psalms, wherein each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.   

The first verse sets the tone for all that is to follow, as David then recounts his justification for his praise of God today and everyday forever:  Beginning in verse 1 for his fame; in verse 8, for his goodness; in verse 11 for his kingdom; in verse 14, for his providence; and in verse 17 for his justice, holiness and saving mercy.

Let us see what Augustine has written of the first and second verses:

"I will exalt Thee, my God, my King; and I will bless Thy Name for the age, and age upon age" (ver. 1). Ye see that the praise of God is here begun, and this praise is carried on even to the end of the Psalm....Now then begin to praise, if thou intendest to praise for ever. He who will not praise in this transitory "age," will be silent when "age upon age" has come. But lest any one should in any otherwise also understand what he saith, "I will praise Thy Name for the age," and should seek another age, wherein to praise, he saith, "Every day will I bless Thee" (ver. 2). Praise then and bless the Lord thy God every day, that when single days have passed, and there has come one day without end, thou mayest go from praise to praise, as "from strength to strength."  No day shall pass by, wherein I bless Thee not. And it is no wonder, if in thy day of joy thou bless the Lord. What if perchance some day of sorrow hath dawned on thee, as is natural in the circumstances of our mortal nature, as there is abundance of offences, as temptations are multiplied; what, if something sad befall thee, a man; wilt thou cease to praise God? wilt thou cease to bless thy Creator? If thou cease, thou hast lied in saying, "every day," etc. But if thou cease not, although it seem to thee to be ill with thee in the day of thy sorrow, yet in thy God it shall be well with thee....

Augustine has clearly stated the standard of worship for all Christians, and that is to praise God daily.  He did so, and had a rule in his church that all should say the Lord's prayer thrice daily in accordance with the tradition of the Old Testament admonition and the early church practice in morning and evening devotions at church (see the Apostolic Constitutions)

 We daily say, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name", as our Lord taught us, and thereby do praise his name.
Hallelujah is the Hebrew term for "Praise the Lord", and a good praise to use, or its equivalent in your own language, as a part of your daily worship.

In the western tradition praise was always the beginning of any devotional office. Beginning with the first prayer book, and possibly before, the English worship began with the Lord's Prayer, and then followed with praise. The minister said, "O Lord open thou my lips", and the people responded, "And my mouth shall show forth thy praise". Thus, from the very beginning of morning and evening prayer the folk did praise the Lord and set the proper tone and sequence for all that was to follow.

Let  us follow the words of David in this psalm, and the encouragement of Augustine to his church, and practice a praise of the Lord each and every day, now and forever.

Read it all here: Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXLV 


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 Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm CXL 
Home for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Bishop Gregory of Rome [604 AD] Compare Psalm 46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help [Barbee and Zahl]. The petition reminds one of Jesus' promise, 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Philippians iii. 17, Psalm cxxvii,  &  St. Matthew xxii. 15 
Homily of Augustine on Psalm CXL

"Deliver me, O Lord, from the wicked man"

Augustine wrote in his preparatory comments to Psalm 140.

 Our Lords have bidden me, brethren, and in them the Lord of all, to bring this Psalm to your understanding, so far as God giveth me to. May He help your prayers, that I may say those things which I ought to say, ye to hear, that to all of us the Word of God may be profitable. For all it doth not profit, for "all have not faith." 

We may also give thanks today that we are able to hear the words of this great doctor of the catholic and orthodox faith, and that the Word of God may be profitable.  Note his last sentence here.  We are commanded to preach the Gospel everywhere, but to those who have no faith, it profits not.

What this Psalm containeth, I believe that ye perceived when it was being chanted; for therein the Church of Christ, set in the midst of the wicked, complaineth and groaneth, and poureth out prayer to God. For her voice is in every such prophecy the voice of one in need and want, not yet satisfied, "hungering and thirsting after righteousness,"  for whom a certain fulness in the end hath been promised, and is reserved.... 

We hear Augustine again state that the Church chanted the psalms. I envy those readers whose congregations still chant the psalms in their churches.  Augustine speaks of being set in the midst of wickedness, and prepares us to the first verse.

"Deliver me, O Lord, from the wicked man" (ver. 1). Not from one only, but from the class; not from the vessels only, but from their prince himself, that is, the devil. Why "from man," if he meaneth from the devil? Because he too is called a man in a figure. ...Now then being made light, not in ourselves, but in the Lord, let us pray not only against darkness, that is, against sinners, whom still the devil possesseth, but also against their prince, the devil himself, who worketh in the children of disobedience. "Deliver me from the unrighteous man." The same as "from the wicked man." For he called him wicked because unrighteous, lest perchance thou shouldest think that any unrighteous man could be a good man. For many unrighteous men seem to be harmless; they are not fierce, are not savage, do not persecute nor oppress; yet are they unrighteous, because, following some other habit, they are luxurious, drunkards, given to pleasure....Wicked then is every unrighteous man, who must needs be harmful, whether he be gentle or fierce. Whoever falls in his way, whoever is taken by his snares, will find how harmful is that which he thought harmless. For, brethren, even thorns prick not with their roots. Pull up thorns from the ground, handle their roots, and see whether thou feelest pain. Yet that in the upgrowth which causeth thee pain, proceeded from that root. Let not then men please you who seem gentle and kind, yet are lovers of carnal pleasure, followers of polluted lusts, let them not please you. Though as yet they seem gentle, they are roots of thorns....And so, my brethren, body of Christ, members of Christ groaning among such wicked men, whomsoever ye find hurrying headlong into evil lusts and deadly pleasures, at once chide, at once punish, at once burn. Let the root be burnt, and there remaineth not whence the thorn may grow up. If ye cannot, be sure that ye will have them as enemies. They may be silent, they may hide their enmity, but they cannot love you. But since they cannot love you, and since they who hate you must needs seek your harm, let not your tongue and heart be slow to say to God, "Deliver me, O Lord, from the unrighteous man." 

I often here folk speak of those who harbor disordered and unrighteous lusts as being so "nice" and "kind". What does Augustine say?  "Let not then men please you who seem gentle and kind, yet are lovers of carnal pleasure, followers of polluted lusts, let them not please you."  

If the root is corrupt, the plant that exposed is corrupt as well. Be not deceived by "beautiful people" whose morals are an abomination.  Our Lord said two things in this regard: firstly that "Ye shall know them by their fruits", and secondly that "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing".  Take the advice of Bishop Augustine, and when you encounter those who you suspect of such deep and disordered lives and moral corruption, go to the Lord in silent prayer and pray,  Deliver me, O Lord, from the wicked man. I would suggest also a prayer for them as your neighbor, that God in his mercy might reach down and touch them in such a way that they might turn from their inordinate and sinful affections to our Lord.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, 
     Good Lord, deliver us.


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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]



All Saints

[November 1]

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

At the beginning of morning prayer and for an anthem at communion:
The Lord is glorious in his saints; * O come, let us adore him

Revelation vii. 2   &   St. Matthew v. 1 
Hymn: For All the Saints

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven

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]