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Second Sunday in Lent-2013

The Second Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: 1 Kings 8.37-43
Psalter: Psalm 6, 38 | 119.33-72
Epistle Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-8
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 15.21-28

Barbee and Zahl: “The progression of the thought here is, like so many of the Collects, both devastating to the human being on his own terms, and at the same time hopeful. First, we admit to God the plain fact that “we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves.” ( . . . ) The Collect hinges on our earnest if reluctant agreement with the first point. Second, we are asking God, who exists outside us, to keep us. ( . . . ) Hold us, grasp us, claim us, do not let us slip through Your fingers like an eely tadpole or like grains of sand. Third, such keeping, or safeguarding, should result in the best defense. (  . . . ) the request is dual: defend us from all outward assault and defend us from all inward temptation. ( . . . ) The Collect devastates the human control factor and sets limitless hope upon the sure hold of God” (37).

Personal Remarks (MWP): I have long hence committed this particular Collect to memory. It has become a regular companion as I have dealt with various difficulties and misfortunes. The portion of the Collect that has normally arrested my prayer-direction is the last, “and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul.” Whether wrestling with parishioners, tackling the slithering, serpentine skepticism of my heart, or dealing with trials in my extended family, that final request in the Collect has resounded in my heart and mind before God.

With this Collect is another from the Eastern Orthodox tradition that has danced around my heart for years. The two go together like a Black and Tan. Together, they make a formidable team:
“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen” (

Mike Philliber
Primus Pilus II


The Lenten Ember Days-2013

Ember Days 

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Four Seasons

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The readings and explanation of the Ember days can be found on our web site: Order of Centurions.


The Book of Common Prayer-Canada (1962) adds an additional Collect and readings if there is a 2nd service:

The following Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for MISSIONARY WORK IN OUR OWN COUNTRY may be used, with the Ember Collect added, at a second Ember Day Service during the week; and are also suitable for Lenten and other weekdays for which no special provision has been made in this Book.

O GOD, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and didst send thy blessed Son Jesus Christ to preach peace to them that are afar off and to them that are nigh: Grant that all peoples of the world may feel after thee and find thee; and hasten, O Lord, the fulfilment of thy promise to pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Primus Pilus II


First Sunday of Lent-2013

The First Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 58.1-14
Psalter: Psalm 51, 54 | 119.1-32
Epistle Reading: 2 Corinthians 6.1-10
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 4.1-11

Barbee and Zahl: “This is an original composition for the 1549 Prayer book. ( . . . ) It is clear from this Collect that we cannot obey God in the direction of “righteousness and true holiness” until we are “subdued.” ( . . . ) There is a proper sense of having your emotions under rein which proceeds any effective service outwards. You have to be free from ungoverned outbreaks of personal need and personal pain if your attempted works of love are not to be marred by self-interest and self-service, even self-sabotage. ( . . . ) What Cranmer intends here, in place of the old model of warfare between “flesh” and “spirit,” is the discipline exercised upon the whole person by the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit it becomes natural rather than against nature to restrain the evil impulse for the sake of love. The “godly motion” of the Collect is the spirit of a man or woman that has been aligned into ways of goodness by the virtue of God’s grace preceding” (34-5).

For your personal benefit: This is the Collect for the 1st Sunday of Lent from the “Book of Worship”, The General Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947 –

“We beseech the, O Lord, by the mystery of our Savior’s fasting and temptation, to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin; and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline, that our minds may be always ready to resist Satan, and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

One final note: on my blog is an encouraging resource, links to 2 videos of a woman who was once a militant Lesbian and feminist professor, who is now a Christian. I think you will find her story compelling, encouraging, and helpful as we think of ways to address this issue in our situations.

Primus Pilus II


Service of Commination (an order for Ash Wednesday)

With certain Prayers, to be used on the first Day of Lent, and at other times, as the Ordinary shall appoint.

{After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed manner, the Priest shall, in the reading Pew or Pulpit, say,}

BRETHREN, in the Primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that, at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance, and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, might be the more afraid to offend.

Instead whereof, until the said discipline may be restored again, (which is much to be wished,) it is thought good, that at this time (in the presence of you all) should be read the general sentences of God’s cursing against impenitent sinners, gathered out of the seven and twentieth Chapter of Deuteronomy, and other places of Scripture; and that ye should answer to every Sentence, Amen: To the intent that, being admonished of the great indignation of God against sinners, ye may the rather be moved to earnest and true repentance; and may walk more warily in these dangerous days; fleeing from such vices, for which ye affirm with your own mouths the curse of God to be due.

CURSED is the man that maketh any carved or molten image, to worship it.

{And the people shall answer and say,}

Minister. Cursed is he that curseth his father or mother.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that maketh the blind to go out of his way.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that perverteth the judgement of the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that smiteth his neighbour secretly.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that lieth with his neighbour’s wife.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that taketh reward to slay the innocent.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, and taketh man for his defence, and in his heart goeth from the Lord.
Answer. Amen.
Minister. Cursed are the unmerciful, fornicators, and adulterers, covetous persons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards, and extortioners.
Answer. Amen.
NOW seeing that all they are accursed (as the prophet David beareth witness) who do err and go astray from the commandments of God; let us (remembering the dreadful judgement hanging over our heads, and always ready to fall upon us) return unto our Lord God, with all contrition and meekness of heart; bewailing and lamenting our sinful life, acknowledging and confessing our offences, and seeking to bring forth worthy fruits of penance. For now is the axe put unto the root of the trees, so that every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: he shall pour down rain upon the sinners, snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest; this shall be their portion to drink. For lo, the Lord is come out of his place to visit the wickedness of such as dwell upon the earth. But who may abide the day of his coming? Who shall be able to endure when he appeareth? His fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the bam; but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night: and when men shall say, Peace, and all things are safe, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as sorrow cometh upon a woman travailing with child, and they shall not escape. Then shall appear the wrath of God in the day of vengeance, which obstinate sinners, through the stubbornness of their heart, have heaped unto them, selves; which despised the goodness, patience, and long, sufferance of God, when he calleth them continually to repentance. Then shall they call upon me, (saith the Lord,) but I will not hear; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; and that, because they hated knowledge, and received not the fear of the Lord, but abhorred my counsel, and despised my correction. Then shall it be too late to knock when the door shall be shut; and too late to cry for mercy when it is the time of justice. O terrible voice of most just judgement, which shall be pronounced upon them, when it shall be said unto them, Go, ye cursed, into the fire everlasting, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore, brethren, take we heed betime, while the day of salvation lasteth; for the night cometh, when none can work. But let us, while we have the light, believe in the light, and walk as children of the light; that we be not cast into utter darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Let us not abuse the goodness of God, who calleth us mercifully to amendment, and of his endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of that which is past, if with a perfect and true heart we return unto him. For though our sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and though they be like purple, yet they shall be made white as wool. Turn ye (saith the Lord) from all your wickedness, and your sin shall not be your destruction: Cast away from you all your ungodliness that ye have done: Make you new hearts, and a new spirit: Wherefore will ye die, O ye house of Israel, seeing that I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God? Tom ye then, and ye shall live. Although we have sinned, yet have we an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. For he was wounded for our offences, and smitten for our wickedness. Let us therefore return unto him, who is the merciful receiver of all true penitent sinners; assuring ourselves that he is ready to receive us, and most willing to pardon us, if we come unto him with faithful repentance; if we submit ourselves unto him, and from henceforth walk in his ways; if we will take his easy yoke, and light burden upon us, to follow him in lowliness, patience, and charity, and be ordered by the governance of his Holy Spirit; seeking always his glory, and serving him duly in our vocation with thanksgiving: This if we do, Christ will deliver us from the curse of the law, and from the extreme malediction which shall light upon them that shall be set on the left hand; and he will set us on his right hand, and give us the gracious benediction of his Father, commanding us to take possession of his glorious kingdom: Unto which he vouchsafe to bring us all, for his infinite mercy. Amen.

{Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priest and Clerks kneeling (in the place where they are accustomed to say the Litany) shall say this Psalm.}

Miserere mei, deus. Psalm 51
HAVE mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness: according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged.
Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn thy face away from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence: and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of thy help again: and stablish me with thy free Spirit.
Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou that art the God of my health: and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.
Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew thy praise.
For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee: but thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
O be favourable and gracious unto Sion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and ablations: then shall they offer young bullocks upon thine attar.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Minister. O Lord, save thy servants;
Answer. That put their trust in thee.
Minister. Send unto them help from above.
Answer. And evermore mightily defend them.
Minister. Help us, O God our Saviour.
Answer. And for the glory of thy Name deliver us; be merciful to us sinners, for thy Name’s sake.
Minister. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Answer. And let our cry come unto thee.

Minister. Let us pray.
O LORD, we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers, and spare all those who confess their sins unto thee; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by thy merciful pardon may be absolved; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O MOST mighty God, and merciful Father, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made; who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but that he should rather turn from his sin, and be saved: Mercifully forgive us our trespasses; receive and comfort us, who are grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins. Thy property is always to have mercy; to thee only it appertaineth to forgive sins. Spare us therefore, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed; enter not into judgement with thy servants, who are vile earth, and miserable sinners; but so turn thine anger from us, who meekly acknowledge our vileness, and truly repent us of our faults, and so make haste to help us in this world, that we may ever live with thee in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{Then shall the people say this that followeth, after the Minister.}
TURN thou us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned. Be favourable, O Lord, Be favourable to thy people, Who turn to thee in weeping, fasting, and praying. For thou art a merciful God, Full of compassion. Longsuffering, and of great pity. Thou sparest when we deserve punishment, And in thy wrath thinkest upon mercy. Spare thy people, good Lord, spare them, And let not thine heritage be brought to confusion. Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is great, And after the multitude of thy mercies look upon us; Through the merits and mediation of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{Then the Minister alone shall say,}
THE Lord bless us, and keep us; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us, and give us peace, now and for evermore. Amen.


Ash Wednesday-2013

The First day of Lent,
Commonly called Ash-Wednesday.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{This Collect is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Joel 2.12-17
Psalter: Psalm 51
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 6.16-21

Barbee and Zahl: “This is a new Collect composed by Cranmer to replace one which emphasized fasting rather than repentance. The key to hearing this Collect in a fresh and vital mode is its opening description of God, “which hatest nothing that thou hast made.” We have seen in Cranmer’s scheme, ( . . . ) an express negation of natural effort, of natural temperament, and even of natural gifts. But it is not nihilism that is at work here. Despite the closed-system of the natural world, God nevertheless hates nothing He has made. God’s negation of our presumption is preface to his affirmation of the rightly diagnosed human person. He forgives the sins of “all them that be penitent”: that is, He restores to the sunlight and “yes” of His presence everyone who “gets” the diagnosis. Penitence means seeing things as they are and flinging back that discouraging truth to God to take care of and dispose” (32-3).



The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the next Sunday before Lent.
The Collect.
O LORD, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 10.12-11.1
Psalter: Psalm 15, 16 | 111, 112
Epistle Reading: 1 Corinthians 13.1-13
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 18.31-43

Barbee and Zahl: “This Collect is an original composition of Thomas Cranmer, ( . . . ) based on the Epistle which would follow, St. Paul’s hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13. The Collect returns us to the theme of either-or. Either we are alive or we are dead (St. Luke 15:24, 32). Either we are found or we are lost (15:6, 9). Either we see or we are blind (St. John 9:25). And here, in the context of this prayer, we are without charity “counted dead before thee.” Moreover “all our doings without charity” are worth absolutely nothing (“nothing worth”)! This immense either-or at the heart of Christianity is alarming in the extreme. It concedes nothing to slow improvement, ( . . . ) the idea that life is in essence a process, a journey, even a pilgrimage. Not one of the familiar metaphors of gradualism counts here. This implies a pessimistic, better a tragic estimation of the human condition. Which is to say, it asserts that on its own terms or in the initial situation of its sorry givenness, the problem of being human is a closed system. Our human nature being what it is, the world’s work is of zero moral worth. On the other hand, with the gift of divine love we are able to achieve the works of love which carry true value and worth. With the gift of charity come peace and all the other virtues. ( . . . ) You and I have seen this to be true. When an action towards us mirrors genuine caring, it hits its mark: it reaches us. When a word pronounced in our direction is intended for our good, we listen. The Collect is extreme, and it is also right” (30-1).


Remembering Cornelius-2013

Centurion and Bishop
[4 February]
First Baptized Gentile of the Church and by tradition Bishop of Caesarea

Almighty God, our Sovereign Lord, who didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first baptized Christian amongst the Gentiles; send your Spirit to strengthen us so that we might follow his example of faith, charity, piety, and devout service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: 1 Kings 8.41-43
Psalter: Psalm 40
Epistle Reading: Acts 10
Gospel Reading: St. John 14.15-21; 17.20-21



The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the second Sunday before Lent.
The Collect.
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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 50.4-9
Psalter: Psalm 33, 93 | 139
Epistle Reading: 2 Corinthians 11.19-12.9
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 8.4-15

Barbee and Zahl: “Non nobis, domine: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake (Psalm 115:1). This was one of the Reformers’ favorite text. Biblical religion could almost be summed up by that one verse. We cannot take the credit for any good thing in the world. Every good thing is from above (James 1:17). It all comes under the signature of gift. ( . . . ) The prayer sounds severe. But it is what Scripture says. It is also what Cranmer wishes us to hear: “Lord God, which seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do.” God sees to it that we put not our trust in such things, because every created thing lets us down when we serve it rather than the One who made it. God sees to it, by means of “2x4 religion” (because it takes the “2x4” of experience to pound in the message), that our fingers are pulled away one by one from their grasp on penultimate goods. God also sees us when we put our trust in Him. He observes us, implies the prayer, as we refocus our trust upon that which is trustworthy: the grace of God. Then the prayer for “defense against adversity” becomes the most natural prayer in the world. This Collect is a frontal assault on every “other god,” on “the dearest Idol I have known” (William Cowper, 1772). Are your idols crumbling to dust before your eyes? That is the intention” (29).