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The First Sunday in Lent - Quadragesima MMXII

O Lord, mercifully hear our prayer, and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty to defend us from them that rise up against us; through our Lord..
Latin original Collect:

Preces nostras, quaesumus Domine, clementer exaudi, et contra cuncta nobis adversantia dexteram tuae maiestatis extende; per Dominum 
--Gelesian Sacramentary

Introit: He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.
Ps: He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High.
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.  We then, as workers together
Gradual: For he shall give his angles charge over thee,
Gospel: Matt 4:1-11.  Then was Jesus led up of the spirit   

See it all here

Another rendering, 
Our prayers, we beseech thee O Lord, graciously hear; and against all our adversaries stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty; through the Lord

Hear our prayer.

Preces nostras, quaesumus Domine, clementer exaudi

[Our prayers, O Lord, mercifully hear]

It is not uncommon in prayer to say: "Hear our prayer O Lord". Consider Psalm 39, "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry [Psalm 39:12].  In the litanies of prayer in liturgical worship the folk often repeat, "Lord, in thy mercy, hear our prayer", or other similar petition.

God is indeed merciful to hear the call of his elect.  He anticipates and appreciates this form of communion.  He has called upon his people to come humbly and with a contrite heart to his seat of mercy to present their supplications and petitions.  Paul wrote "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" [Philippians 4:6].

Psalm 51, which we normally rehearse on the first day of Lent, is a model for humble prayer.  David wrote, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" [Psalm 51:17].

God, however, turns from those whose plea is false and haughty.  Their conduct demonstrates they are not subject to his holy authority.  They are in denial or open rebellion.  Be not of that number.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in today's epistle, "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain" [2 Corinthians 6:1]. 

There are those who have entered into his God's holy sanctuary as thieves.  They stand in prayer with obedient Christians, but they are the Children of Satan.  They never turn from their sin. God despises their solemnities and salutations.  They ignore God's law in favor of the world's rules.  They disgrace his word by twisting it and attempting to deceive the elect and just (if that were possible) [Matthew 24:24].  Like Satan in the Wilderness, they concoct temptations while falsely citing Scripture with great evil craft [Matthew 4:1-11].  They may claim the title Christian, but they are a Brood of Vipers whose worship is suited for the Synagogue of Satan.  God shall not suffer them, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" [1 Peter 4:17]. 

Hear also what Paul wrote in Hebrews, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [catechumens], and have tasted of the heavenly gift [Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion], and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost [Baptized], And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" [Hebrews 6:4-6].

Then what shall we say to these thieves?  In the Gospel appointed for today, Jesus dispatched Satan with a word: "Get the hence, Satan" [Matthew 4:10].

Let us also remember the word of God spoken unto Jeremiah, "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble" [Jeremiah 11:14].

O God, protect us.

et contra cuncta nobis adversantia dexteram tuae maiestatis extende;

[And against all of our adversaries, stretch forth thy majestic right arm]

This is surely an imprecatory petition.  It follows the form often used by David in his prayer, "Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight…Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children" [Psalm 144:1-7].

The collect qualifies our petition by establishing the nature and character of God.  It is his "Right" arm (dexteram), which is righteous and just.  It is his "Majestic" arm, with power coming forth from the Sovereign Lord.  

Did the Lord Jesus ever used his "right arm" against an adversary?  Yes indeed!  Consider the night of his arrest: "As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground" [John 18:6].  At Nazareth, he defended himself in a mysterious way by passing through the midst of his assailants [Luke 4:28-30].  At Jerusalem before his Pascal Feast, he cleansed the Temple of evildoers [Mark 11:15-18].  Before Pilate, he intimated such power when he said his Father could send twelve legions of angels for his defense [Matthew 26:53].

God Almighty chooses the times and places that he will stretch forth his right arm, but be assured he has done so and will do so again according to prophesy and his promise: "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war." [Revelation 19-11]

Maranatha." Come Lord Jesus. Amen [1 Corinthians 16:22].

Semper Fidelis -- Semper Vigilans -- Semper Paratus


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United 

The Ancient Collect: Its history and form
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]



Ash Wednesday MMXII

Almighty and everlasting God, who hath compassion upon all men, and hateth nothing that thou hast made, passing over the sins of men because of their repentance; who also succourest them that labour in necessity, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these ashes, which thou hast ordered that, after the manner of the Ninevites, we should bear upon our heads, for the sake of humility, and of our holy religion, and for the cleansing away of our offences ; and grant that by calling on thy holy name, all those who have thus borne ashes on their heads may be thought worthy to receive from thee pardon of all their sins, and so to-day commence the observation of their holy fasts, that on the day of Resurrection they may be found worthy to approach the holy Paschal feast with minds purified, and hereafter to share in glory everlasting. Through etc.
[Sarum Missal]

Here is the entire service in English

Gregorian Sacramentary:  dies cinerum (day of ashes) 8th century or earlier.

In the beginning, Lent started on Quadragesima -- the Fourth Sunday before Easter.  Originally, ashes were imposed on penitents as a sign, at least as early as the 6th century, and there was no direct connection with Easter Lent.  In the 10th century, Wednesday, a normal fast day, was observed as a day for penitents before Lent, and ashes were imposed on the heads of those who came to church that day for the ceremony.  Finally Urban II specified the use of ashes on the Wednesday before Lent.  Later the day was called,  "Ash Wednesday".  In the 12th century the tradition of using the ashes from branches of palms, saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday observance, were directed for use.

We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.
Aelfric [c. 1005-1020]

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]



O Lord we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers, and, having set us free from the bonds of sin, defend us from all evil, through ...

Latin original Collect:

Preses nostras, quaesumus Domine, clementer exaudi, atque a peccatorum vinculis absolutos, ab omni nos adversitate custodi, per.

--Gregorian Sacramentary

Introit: Be thou my strong Rock…
Ps. In thee O Lord do I put my trust..
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Though I speak with...
Gradual: Thou are the God that doest wonders…
Gospel: Luke 18:31-43 Then he took unto him the twelve...

See it all here

Another translation:

Our Governor, we beseech thee Lord, graciously hear us, from the bonds of our sins deliver us, and keep us from all adversity, through.

Again, I was reminded of Luther's Bondage of the Will. There are many who go about these days with the notion that there is no such thing as evil, and that bondage to it is an illusion. There is a recent news story in America of a man in bondage to pornography and molestation. That evil bondage culminated in a several murders.

Don't be fooled. Evil is ubiquitous in our world. This very medium of the Internet, upon which you are likely reading this collect-reflection, has allowed the world wide web to become a worldwide network of evil where every type of perversion is freely practiced and which enslaves humans to unnatural lusts. Hollywood panders evil with new releases of vampires, chain-saw massacres, unbridled sin and lust -- you just about have to have an "R" rating to make it in the box office receipts these days.

What shall we do?

Seek protection from God, pray, and keep praying for your own protection and for those who are in bondage. Don't surrender to those who declare the bondage as just a normal condition. You and I both know better. It is destructive not only to the person in bondage to sin, but to all those who interact with them. Drugs, pornography, violence, hatred, stealing, bickering and backbiting, unhealthy and abnormal practices -- all are a marks of sin to one degree or another as they depart from what is good, and beautiful, and in God's order that he has laid out for us.

We hear a lot about various social, psychological, and therapy programs, most of which have very poor success rates. Often folk go into these programs and "graduate" only to soon fall back under the bondage. So it was with a music star this week. Whitney Houston, who began her musical journey in a church choir, and ended it in an early death due principally to poor health from abuse of drugs. Everyone is subject to these temptations. So what is a person to do? Let us look at our collect for some idea.

"Preses nostras, quaesumus Domine"
-- Our Governor, Lord

First, acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as God's Messiah, the Christ, the Lord. Know that he is the Anointed one who was sent into the world to gather his own and deliver them from the bondage of sin and its consequences, to include eternal death. Humbly accept his sovereignty. Invite him to rule in your heart. Surrender your will to his. In every way be subject to him as King. Paul wrote, "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." [Romans 10:9]

"clementer exaudi"
-- Mercifully hear us

Second, call on your Lord in prayer. Those with who Jesus abides have no fear. The Holy Ghost within them prays continuously for them in groans that are known to God Almighty. With your lips and heart pray to God through Jesus your King for those things you need, and believe that God will give those good things that are helpful for you. Jesus said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" [Matthew 7:11]

"atque a peccatorum vinculis absolutos"
-- the bonds of our sins

Third, recognize, pray for, and through hope and faith come to realize that the Great Physician is the only power that can release you from the bonds of sin that ensnare mankind. It is our curse in this life through the sin of the one man Adam that we fall prey to this cursed evil, and it is the will of God through Jesus Christ that by his power sin is defeated, death is defeated, we are made free indeed, the bonds are broken, and our will is bound to his goodness. Paul wrote, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." [Romans 5:19], and Jesus said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." [John 8:36]

"ab omni nos adversitate custodi"
-- keep us from all adversity

Finally ask for protection. Our Lord never promised a rose garden for his followers. He never promised or even intimated that they would be delivered from earthly woes -- quite the opposite. That is a false Gospel pandered by false teachers of prosperity. God did promise that the elect would be delivered from evil, forever. Paul clearly identified that evil. He wrote, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" [Ephesians 6:12]. Who is our champion, our protector? Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." [John 10:27-29.]

In the ancient tradition, today's epistle is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. In it, Paul clearly identifies those three great spiritual virtues that will aid us in our journey: Faith [in the Lord Jesus Christ], Hope [in his promise and our end state], and Charity [Love of God first, and our neighbor as ourselves].

In the appointed Gospel the blind beggar mercifully beseeched Jesus to heal him, and knowing the man's heart, Jesus said to him, " Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee". [Luke 18:42]. It is faith and faith alone that God responds to as he breaks the bonds of sin and keeps his own in this world and the next.

These lesson from Paul relate to our collect today. Read them all at the link above. See an homily of Chrysostom on a parallel gospel account of the healing here


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)

The Ancient Collect: Its history and form


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]



Sexagesima Sunday MMXII

God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do; mercifully grant that we may be defended against all -- by the protection of  the Apostle of the Gentiles, per ...

--Latin original Collect:

Deus qui conspicus quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia doctoris gentium protectione muniamur, per...

--Gelesian Sacramentary

Introit: Awake why sleepest thou, O Lord…

Ps. We have heard with our ears..

Epistle: 2Cor 11:19-12:9 For ye suffer fools gladly…me.

Gradual: Let the nations know that thy name is Jehovah…..

Gospel: Luke 8:4-15 And when much people were gathered…patience.


See it all here

This collect was translated in the Reformed Book of Common Prayer and the Lutheran Service manual as

O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through…

 -- BCP - Lutheran reformed version

This is the longest Pauline epistle in any of the Sunday propers, and so mentioning Paul in this collect may have been a way to recognize Paul's perils. In the epistle, Paul described his persecutions, which he met at every occasion. As he was protected, so may we be. Paul did not glory in his resilience against his adversities, but rather in his infirmities and in Christ Jesus his Lord (2Cor 12:9) 

Here is a link to a portion of a homily on this passage by Chrysostom.

Deus qui conspicus quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus

God is all seeing, all knowing. There is nothing that he does not know. There is no hiding place from his observation. If you ascended into heaven; he is there. If you descended into the depths of the dead; he is there (Ps. 139:8). Nothing is hidden, and all will be revealed (1Cor 3:13).  God also knows in whom we put our trust.  "Trust in God" is our motto, written large on our money. But do we really?

In what do we trust? 

Beware of those who preach a "prosperity Gospel" which is no Gospel at all.  Do not trust in that.  

Beware of the "snake-oil salesmen" pretending to be God's ministers on religious television channels and networks who give false prophesies, perform fake healings, and bid you send them your money or to buy their worthless trinkets. Do not trust in that. 

Beware of a "peace, justice, and inclusion Gospel" that would replace our Savior with the latest social agenda and political action.  Do not trust in that.  

Rather, trust in Jesus. Trust in his eternal promise.  Trust in his presence that brings his heavenly peace in the midst of strife, fear, and anguish.  Trust in his law to be a lamp unto your feet to guide you through this life of woe.  Renounce every thought that salvation is based upon what you do, and acknowledge that it is based solely on the work of God.  It is a gift, never earned through our efforts, but accepted by his elect when offered -- and manifested through faith that saves. Fully rely on God.

 concede propitius, ut contra adversa omnia doctoris gentium protectione muniamur, per...

This trust and faith is the gift that provides a ready defense against the wiles of the adversary and assaults of this world. Paul's protection is solicited from God in the collect, and what that protection may truly imply is an understanding and emulation of Paul's source of protection. We do well to heed his encouragement to the Ephesians of how we are to prepare for adversity: with a shield of faith, a belt of truth, an helmet of salvation, a breatplate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, and feet shod with the Gospel, strengthened to carry forth Jesus' commission to make disciples of all men.  (Ephesians 6:10-18)

In prior years, I had the responsibility to prepare young men for commission and evaluate them through small unit tactical training. They executed what are currently known as Pre-Combat Checks (PCC) before departing on a mission.  Every man was checked by another for his personal armor, weapons, equipment, and knowledge of the mission and commander's intent. All were checked, from the Platoon Commander to the rifleman.  These pre-combat checks remind me of Paul's admonition and his personal preparation for combat to withstand his foes. We would do well to conduct our own PCCs for ourselves and our neighbor in this day.


Read Paul's letter and understand his struggle in this world against all manner of evil.  He withstood all – survived all -- until he was called home to his rest. He forever stood firm in the faith, with his boast in God and in his suffering for Christ.


Read the Gospel.  Pray that you might be like the seed that fell in the good earth, that grew strong and returned an hundred fold to the Master. Depend on God's promises and presence in every endeavor. Pray that God will forever abide with you so the devil cannot pluck away, and the cares of this world cannot choke out the love of God in Christ Jesus.


semper paratus



(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)


The Ancient Collect: Its history and form


Septuagesima MMXII

The Collect


O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through…


Latin original Collect:


Preces populi tui quaesumus Domine, clementer exaudi, ut qui iuste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur, per...

--Gelesian Sacramentary


Introit: The sorrows of death compassed me…

Ps. I will love thee O Lord my strength: the Lord is my Rock…

Epistle: 1Cor 9:24-10:5  Know ye not that they which run …

Gradual: The Lord also will be a refuge in times of trouble…

Gospel:  Matt 20:1-16  For the kingdom of heaven is like unto...


See it all here


This marks the beginning of the season of Pre-Lent. Septuagesima Sunday it has been called for millennia. This is the 70th (Septuagesima) 7th "decade" before Easter. It is to be followed sequentially by Sexagesima (60) Quinquagesima (50) and finally Lent itself – Quadragesima (40).  Of course these are not exact counts, but rather round numbers that were helpful to the folk to use. The names helped to prepare them for the coming fast and penitence associated with Lent.  This was also the period in the very early church when the catechumens were prepared for Baptism through intense study of the Gospel, and memorization of the Lord's Prayer, the Commandments, and the Creed.


Our collect is striking in its turn for this season from those of Epiphany as it focuses on sin, punishment, and pardon.  It very much helps to turn our focus for the coming Lent.  It was customary for the folk to begin to consider their predicament, and on the eve or day of Ash Wednesday, the 40th regular day before Easter (Sundays excepted), to make their humble confession and receive absolution from their priest.


The collect makes an acknowledgement as well that God is just in punishing us for our sins. The priest prayed, "ut qui iuste pro peccatis nostris affligimur" I can imagine that he bid them to silently consider their thoughts, words, and deeds that deserved God's judgment, before collecting their prayers. 


Next though, we have the good news.  Even though we deserve punishment, God has given us deliverance from death through his son, for the Glory of his name.  That is good news indeed, and it is the theme that our Lord put forth in the Gospel story of the householder who justified all who answered his call.


There is another part of today's lesson that the folk had to grapple with as do we, and that is the admonition from Paul in 1st Corinthians.  Not all that are in the Church ought to go about thinking that their race is won – No!  Paul makes it clear that diligence and duty are in order in this life.  We must run the way of the Commandments, or we may find ourselves as many of the ancient Israelites did in the Wilderness – expelled, abandoned, and condemned.  However, Paul said he ran that race with all confidence in the outcome.




(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United 


Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)


The Ancient Collect: Its history and form


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]