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The Presentation of Christ-2013

The presentation of Christ in the temple, commonly called thePurification of Saint Mary the Virgin
The Collect
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Malachi 3.1-5
Psalter: Psalm 84
Epistle Reading: Galatians 1.1-24
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.22-40

Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr.: “This is appointed in the Gregorian Sacramentary, and it clearly reveals the original purpose of the celebration as a feast of our Lord. His first appearance and presentation in the Jewish Temple came to be viewed in retrospect by the Church as a mystery symbolizing His fulfillment of the Old Covenant with its outward cult of sacrifices and the inauguration of a new Temple, namely, His Body (cf. John ii.19-22), through which the redeemed of the New Covenant offer to God ‘spiritual sacrifices’ (“The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary,” 233).


Skipped Collects-2013

Dear fellow centurions,

Now that we have moved into the Pre-Lenten season, we have had to skip over a few Collects. In order to give these too easily neglected Collects some air-time and air-space, I felt it appropriate to post them now so that you might use them this week. The one for the Third Sunday was already put out accidently (a little faux pas on my part). So here are the 4th-6th. Here is a thought: use them this week to pray for your specific congregation. Along with the appointed one, piles these into your prayer-mix but pray them pointedly for your flock.

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
O GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
{My personal favorite}

The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
O GOD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Dominus Vobiscum

Primus Pilus II



{Because Lent is earlier this year I completely missed the change into the Pre-Lenten season. Disregard the previous post & use this one for the 27th of January 2013}

The Sunday called Septuagesima, or the third Sunday before Lent.
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 Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 1.1-9
Psalter: Psalm 8, 148 | 104
Epistle Reading:1 Corinthians 9.24-27
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 20.1-16

Primus Pilus II


Third Sunday after Epiphany-2013

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 41.8-10, 17-20
Psalter: Psalm 20, 21 | 27, 29
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.16-21
Gospel Reading: *St. Matthew 8.1-13
(*this is the Gospel reading designated in the 1662 BCP, which the Collect is referencing with “stretch forth thy right hand…”)

Barbee and Zahl: “The prayer, which is terse, asks God to look and help. The desired looking is not detached and it is not analytical. God is asked to look at our weakness. This is important. Would we not rather have Him take a good look at our “strengths”? Would we not rather shine? No, the Collect is composed from the place of need. ( . . . ) We are infirm, shaky. Our weaknesses are the cracks and loosened foundations which always render us idols with feet of clay. In my infirmity, I need helping, to move positively forward through it. I need defending, to hold back the forces (of the world, the flesh, and the devil) that see my weaknesses like gaps in a wall and pour right through them, taking terrible advantage of me. The prayer is therefore both offensive and defensive. This, too, is the character of the Christian faith ( . . . ) simultaneously on the offensive and on the defensive” (21).

Primus Pilus II


The Second Sunday after Epiphany-2013

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 45.1-15
Psalter: Psalm 96, 97 | 45, 46
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.6-16
Gospel Reading: St. Mark 1.1-11

Barbee and Zahl:
“Does He govern all things in heaven and earth? Or, rather, are there one or two undiscussables, those unprayerable matters which bitter defeat and chronic experience have taught us to exempt from the list of things God governs? ( . . . ) What do you exempt, in practice, from “all things in heaven and earth” which the Collect places under the direction and oversight of Almighty God? If this prayer has any integrity at all, the answer has to be, nothing. That would fly in the face of our personal experience, which continually exempts chronic unprayerables from God’s oversight. Consider un-exempting the impossible thing that has got you defeated. Consider taking it out from your strongbox of undiscussables and setting it before the Lord one more time. And pray the old words of this Collect. The gift given back should be “peace, all the days of our life.”” (19).

C.S. Lewis:
“And perhaps, as those who do not turn to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God’s” (“Letters to  Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer,” 23).

Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare
John Newton, 1779

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
he himself has bid thee pray,
therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
large petitions with thee bring;
for his grace and power are such,
none can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
let thy blood, for sinners spilt,
set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest,
take possession of my breast;
there thy blood bought right maintain,
and without a rival reign.

Show me what I have to do,
every hour my strength renew:
let me live a life of faith,
let me die thy people's death.

While I am a pilgrim here,
let thy love my spirit cheer;
as my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
lead me to my journey's end.


The First Sunday after Epiphany-2013

The First Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9
Psalter: Psalm 47, 48 | 66, 67
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.1-5
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.41-52

Barbee and Zahl: “In the Gregorian prayer underlying the Collect, the word translated “prayer” is vota, votive offerings, thus linking the Wise Men and their gifts to the Epistle originally appointed for this day: Romans 12:1-5. ( . . . ) All the Collect asks of God is that He hear or “receive” the asking, and that He help the one who prays to perceive what he or she ought to do. And whatever that turns out to be, to aid the person in doing it. A more succinct, less pompous prayer could scarcely exist. Pray it today, specifically in that area of confusion where you really do not know what to do. If the prayer is spoken as open-endedly as it is written, you will get your answer” (16-7).

My Personal Observation: Clergy, Congregations and denominations often struggle with direction, sustainability and viability, especially in cloudy, complex seasons; or at least, one hopes that they do. The human predicament we find ourselves in makes fidelity difficult at times because we live in the twilight between the passing away of darkness and dawning of the light (1 John 2.8b). True enough, God has entrusted us with his Scriptures and guided the Church in her understanding of the Word of God. Nevertheless, not every circumstance is covered in a clearly marked way. How do we live faithful to our Lord Jesus in this specific community, during this national crisis, or in the midst of these critical moments? This Collect is a beautiful prayer voicing that very dilemma, and reminding us of our utter dependence on God’s aid and grace. It seems to me that no matter where you are on the political and social spectrum in the North America of 2013, this Collect needs to be employed by the whole of Christ’s Church; labored with verve, pathos, and confidence; and striven with collectively. My challenge: That every member of the Order would express and assent, daily, to this Collect for the remainder of 2013.

Primus Pilus II


The Sacramentum and Feast of the Order [3 January]

On this day we renew our vows. I invite you to follow the link:

Dominus Vobiscum

Primus Pilus II


The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
The Collect.
O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9]
Psalter: Psalm 96
Epistle Reading: Ephesians 3.1-11
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 2.1-12

Barbee and Zahl:
“[By the “skin of our teeth”] is an apt expression to describe the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Kingdom of God. To use the old language, we have been grafted into the vine of Israel; or, to use the new, by the skin of our teeth. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; for blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Our inclusion has nothing to do with us! The Collect expresses this Pauline mystery of divine undeserved favor, the Epiphany or appearance of the Messiah to the Gentiles, with a bold stroke. The prayer describes the moment of the Magis’ discovery of Christ and then turns it right around to us. We are Gentiles who know Christ not by sight, as the Magi did, but by faith. Moreover, we are not genetically related, most of us, to Israel, from whom the Messiah has sprung. So it is in every sense “by faith,” and not by means of something palpable, whether sight or sure inheritance, that we are in relation to God. We are in there “by the skin of our teeth,” or rather, by His free decision to make us His. We had nothing to do with it” (15).

As with Gladness Men of Old
William Chatterton Dix, 1860 (alt. 1961)

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious God, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly cradle-bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that cradle rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!