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The Sunday called Quinquagesima - 2014

The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the next Sunday before Lent.
Psalm 26
Judica me, Domine
BE THOU my judge, O Lord, for I have walked innocently : my trust hath been also in the Lord, therefore shall I not fall.
2. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me : try out my reins and my heart.
3. For thy loving-kindness is ever before mine eyes : and I will walk in thy truth.
4. I have not dwelt with vain persons : neither will I have fellowship with the deceitful.
5. I have hated the congregation of the wicked : and will not sit among the ungodly.
6. I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord : and so will I go to thine altar.
7. That I may shew the voice of thanksgiving : and tell of all thy wondrous works.
8. Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house : and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
9. O shut not up my soul with the sinners : nor my life with the blood-thirsty.
10. In whose hands is wickedness : and their right hand is full of gifts.
11. But as for me, I will walk innocently : O deliver me, and be merciful unto me.
12. My foot standeth right : I will praise the Lord in the congregations.
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

Toon: “This Collect is closely related to the Epistle, St Paul's hymn of charity or love, which is 1 Corinthians 13. The opening words recall the third verse. "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not charity it profiteth me nothing." And these words also point back to the opening of the Collect for Sexagesima, "O Lord God who seest that that we put not our trust in anything that we do..." When we trust in what we actually do, that is in our good intentions and deeds, they break down under us as we lean upon them for "without charity they are worth nothing" - and perfect charity is never found in our souls.

As we approach Lent, when we are called to engage in both personal asceticism and good works in order to please our Lord in preparation for the celebration of his Atonement and Resurrection, we need this solemn reminder - that unless what we do for others is inspired by the faith that works by charity and love it will not be acceptable in the kingdom of heaven or pleasing to our God.

Thus it is most clear that we need the presence of the Holy Ghost in our souls and lives so that he who is God can bring to us the actual love of God, the gift of charity. Then we can both love God and love man as the two great commandments calls for us to do.

The gift of divine love and charity becomes for us the bond that brings peace to the soul and peace between the brethren. From it also spring the virtues or the doings of charity - the almsgiving, the endurances, the labours and the serving and evangelising. These which are "our doing" need to proceed from, be united in, and be surrounded by divine love so that they truly are means for the promotion of the kingdom of Christ and for the glory of God (see further Ephesians 4:3 & Colossians 3:14).

The last part of the Collect presents a very strong assertion, yet one taken from Holy Scripture. Without the love of God in our hearts we are as dead persons before God. "He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (1 John 3:14). "Though I have all faith and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2).

What an excellent prayer to use in the week that includes Ash Wednesday & the beginning of the 40 days of Lent” (


Sexagesima (2nd Sunday before Lent) and St. Matthias (24 February) - 2014

The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the Second Sunday before Lent.
Psalm 24
Domini est terra
THE earth is the Lord’s, and all that therein is : the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein.
2. For he hath founded it upon the seas : and prepared it upon the floods.
3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord : or who shall rise up in his holy place?
4. Even he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart : and that hath not lift up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour.
5. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord : and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6. This is the generation of them that seek him : even of them that seek thy face, O Jacob.
7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors : and the King of glory shall come in.
8. Who is the King of glory : it is the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle.
9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors : and the King of glory shall come in.
10. Who is the King of glory : even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

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

Toon: “This Collect is not a straight translation of the old Latin Collect. It was edited to remove a reference to the Apostle Paul. The petition originally asked, "Mercifully grant that by the protection of the teacher of the Gentiles we may be fortified against all adversities". The Reformers of the 16th century did not allow any prayer to the saints, any request of saints to pray for us, or the treating of a saint as if he were a guardian angel. Thus they changed "by the protection of the teacher of the Gentiles" to "by thy power".

Yet they retained the Epistle, 2 Corinthians 11:19-31, which contains St Paul's descriptions of the variety of sufferings he had endured for the Gospel. In this physical and mental pain he could, if he wished, have boasted for the pain was much more than any other apostle or evangelist had experienced, and it was for the sake of Christ. Yet he did not believe that this pain and tribulation was the basis for his acceptance with God. It was part of his willing service of Christ Jesus.

It is a very difficult thing, even for saints, not to put any trust in the things that they do. For most of us it is a natural thing and certainly a temptation to think that there is virtue before God and man in the really good things that we think we do. Especially is this so if what we do brings us persecution or suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

God sees all and everything! To him all hearts are open and all desires known and from him no secrets are hid. He is watchful and persuades us by many means (the example of Paul, the instruction in Scripture and so on) to trust only in him for he alone is the source of all life, power, knowledge and wisdom.

Therefore, we pray that we shall be defended from all adversity be it in the form of testings or temptations, pain or suffering, trial or tribulation, the desires of the flesh or the wiles of the devil. "When I am weak then I am strong" said the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:10). Only as we know our own weakness and rest in God's strength are we making progress towards Christian maturity. In order rightly to approach Lent and benefit from its disciplines, we surely need to learn this lesson.

The Gospel for this week is the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. And the purpose of this is to place before Christians the goal of being so receptive to the word of God in all situations, and at all times, that they, in an honest and good heart, bring forth fruit with patience” (

Saint Matthias’s Day (24 February)
Psalm 140
Eripe me, Domine
DELIVER me, O Lord, from the evil man : and preserve me from the wicked man.
2. Who imagine mischief in their hearts : and stir up strife all the day long.
3. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent : adders’ poison is under their lips.
4. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the ungodly : preserve me from the wicked men, who are purposed to overthrow my goings.
5. The proud have laid a snare for me, and spread a net abroad with cords : yea, and set traps in my way.
6. I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God : hear the voice of my prayers, O Lord.
7. O Lord God, thou strength of my health : thou hast covered my head in the day of the battle.
8. Let not the ungodly have his desire, O Lord : let not his mischievous imagination prosper, lest they be too proud.
9. Let the mischief of their own lips fall upon the head of them : that compass me about.
10. Let hot burning coals fall upon them : let them be cast into the fire and into the pit, that they never rise up again.
11. A man full of words shall not prosper upon the earth : evil shall hunt the wicked person to overthrow him.
12. Sure I am that the Lord will avenge the poor : and maintain the cause of the helpless.
13. The righteous also shall give thanks unto thy Name : and the just shall continue in thy sight.

The Collect
Almighty God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; Grant that thy Church, being alway preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: 1 Samuel 2.27-35
Psalter: Psalm 15
Epistle Reading: Acts 1.15-26

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 11.25-30


Septuagesima (Third Sunday before Lent) - 2014

The Sunday called Septuagesima, or the Third Sunday before Lent.

Psalm 23
Dominus regit me.
THE Lord is my shepherd : therefore can I lack nothing.
2. He shall feed me in a green pasture : and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.
3. He shall convert my soul : and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for his Name’s sake.
4. Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
5. Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them that trouble me : thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup shall be full.
6. But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life : and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
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

Toon: “Introduction to Septuagesima

As the Church moves through the Christian Year from Epiphany to Lent she passes through three Sundays which have to modern ears strange titles. Septuagesima, Sexagesima & Quinquagesima are in fact three Latin words and they indicate how far away we are from Easter - that is, 70, 60 & 50 days respectively. From the fifth century after Christ these Sundays emerged as a preparatory cycle for Lent in the West.
The Latin names arose by analogy with Quadragesima, the first Sunday in Lent, known as the "fortieth day" before Easter. Quinquagesima is exactly fifty days before Easter but Sexagesima (60) and Septuagesima (70) are only approximations.

In Rome and the West, Septuagesima (the 70th) day before Easter was regarded as the beginning of the preparation for Easter and thus it was natural to attract to itself the theme of The Beginning, that is the Creation of the world by the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost. (Thus there began the reading of Genesis on this day in the monastic Daily Offices.)

In the Church of the East in the Byzantine tradition there also emerged a cycle of preparation before Lent proper, with the last two Sundays being known as "Meatfare" and "Cheesefare" Sundays. There is partial fasting between these two Sundays and then Lent begins on the Monday which is known as "Clean Monday," with no meat or cheese.

In the West, in the modern post 1960s Roman Catholic and Anglican Prayer Books, the "Gesimas" have been abolished. However, they remain part of the Christian Year in The Book of Common Prayer. They serve to place worshippers today in a long tradition of regarding Lent to be so important as a preparation for Easter, the Feast of Feasts, as to require for itself a preliminary preparation. So the "Gesimas" are a preparation for the Preparation.

The Collect for Septuagesima which begins the short cycle anticipates two chief ideas of Lent - the confession of our sin and its just punishment, and the prayer for forgiveness from God's mercy in Jesus Christ. Thus in these three weeks the faithful begin to turn their minds to Lent, its solemnity and how they will keep it, in joining with their Lord in his fasting, meditating, praying and resisting temptation in the wilderness” (The rest of Toon’s commentary can be found here:


Fifth Sunday after Epiphany - 2014

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 20
Exaudiat te Dominus
THE Lord hear thee in the day of trouble : the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee;
2. Send thee help from the sanctuary : and strengthen thee out of Sion;
3. Remember all thy offerings : and accept thy burnt sacrifice;
4. Grant thee thy heart’s desire : and fulfil all thy mind.
5. We will rejoice in thy salvation, and triumph in the Name of the Lord our God : the Lord perform all thy petitions.
6. Now know I that the Lord helpeth his Anointed, and will hear him from his holy heaven : even with the wholesome strength of his right hand.
7. Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses : but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God.
8. They are brought down, and fallen : but we are risen, and stand upright.
9. Save, Lord and hear us, O King of heaven : when we call upon thee.

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.

Old Testament Reading: Habakkuk 1.12-2.14
Psalter: Psalm 112
Epistle Reading: Colossians 3.12-17
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 13.24-30

Personal Reflection: The Westminster Confession of Faith (1649) rightly announces that outside the visible Church “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” (25.2). It further notes that this “catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them” (25.5). And finally, that the “purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to His will” (25.6). The point of this rehearsal is that we are reminded, along with the Gospel reading and the Collect, that the Church, and our congregations, always need our prayers; specifically that God would keep her – his household – in the “true religion,” always leaning “upon the hope of” God’s “heavenly grace” and “defended by” God’s “mighty power.” A sober-minded glance over the Church scene in the 21st Century reveals how true this is. Pray for Christ’s Church!


Supplemental Prayer [Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - 2014]

This would have been the normal Collect for last Sunday (2 February 2014) if it hadn't been the Feast of the Presentation. I didn't want it to get lost in the year, so I am posting it now. It is a beautiful reminder of our own need - unable to stand upright (I'm sure there is a certain play on words in that line!). But also of God's strength for us in both dangers and temptations. May I recommend as well reading Psalm 44 (which I am meditatively doing all this week) along with the Collect. They fit together right nicely.
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.