Saturday, March 31, 2007



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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 137:1-6(7-9), 144; PM Psalm 42, 43
Jer. 31:27-34; Rom. 11:25-36; John 11:28-44 or 12:37-50

From Forward Day by Day:

Jeremiah 31:27-34. I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

At the end of our labyrinthine journey through March, we are called back to basics. Jeremiah reminds us that God has claimed our hearts, inscribed on them the law: love God and love your neighbor. This is to become our heartbeat, the very rhythm of our breathing. Breathe in the love of God; breathe out love for others. This is how one walks the labyrinth, in toward the center of the soul, back out into the world.

Lent itself is like a labyrinth, the twists and turns of Jeremiah's laments balanced by John's clear sense of Jesus as Messiah, with side roads down the psalms, interspersed with Paul's persuasive words to the church in Rome. The darkness of Lent is interrupted by celebrations of St. Joseph and the Annunciation (and St. Patrick's Day, whispers the ghost of my Irish grandmother). The heart of all our disparate roads and readings this month is that if we love God and tend to others' wellbeing, our own hearts in their deepest place will be well, and we can walk back out of the labyrinth of Lent into the light of the world. The journey always brings us home to Christ.

Today we remember:
John Donne
Psalm 27:5-11 or 16:5-11
Wisdom 7:24--8:1; John 5:19-24

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with your servant John Donne, that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Namibia (Southern Africa)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Take 10 or 20 minutes today to calculate your carbon footprint and become more aware of how you can make a difference in the battle to slow climate change.

> Calculate your footprint here:

How can you reduce your carbon footprint? Visit Tearfund's climate change pentathlon and play their online game with creative ideas on how to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

> Play climate change pentathlon:

If you find the game useful, email the link to friends.

Idea by: James Alexander

Lent quote: "Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing." – Thérèse of Lisieux

A Celtic Prayer

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us a little child
one of us, flesh and blood to share in our humanity
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as carpenter
and yet in whose creative hands a world was fashioned
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as fisherman
and yet pointed to a harvest that was yet to come
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as teacher
and opened eyes to truths that only
the poor could understand
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as healer
and opened hearts to the reality of wholeness
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as prophet, priest and king
and yet humbled himself
to take our place upon the cross
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as servant
and revealed to us the extent of his Father's love
for human kind
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

Blest are you, Lord Jesus, who rose
from the ignominy of a sinner's death
to the triumph of a Saviour's resurrection
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son
for the sake of me
and you
and other sinners too
God so loved the world
Blest are you Lord Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer
++++++++++ Reflections

By how many paths, in how many manners, through how many means do you reveal your love to us.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Poemen said that Abba John said that the saints are like a group of trees, each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source. The practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Shime'on said, Be careful in reading the Shema' and in Prayer; and when thou prayest, make not thy prayer
an ordinance, but an entreaty before God, blessed is He, for it is said, For God is compassionate and easily-entreated, longsuffering, and plenteous in grace; and be not wicked unto thyself.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Travelling With the Eyes of God

Travelling - seeing new sights, hearing new music, and meeting new people - is exciting and exhilarating. But when we have no home to return to where someone will ask us, "How was your trip?" we might be less eager to go. Travelling is joyful when we travel with the eyes and ears of those who love us, who want to see our slides and hear our stories.

This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people ... and be happy to return home.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

There is no reading on the 31st day of the month.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

PRAYER LEADS to a loving union with the Holy One but not for private enjoyment. Prayer draws us into unity with Christ, into communion and community. Compassionate action results, growing out of the love of God. We receive the love of God and return that love in grateful devotion. We pray, not to get what we want from God but to consent to what God wants. Prayer expresses relationship, sometimes with words, sometimes deeper than words can express.

- J. David Muyskens
Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God

From page 58 of Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God by J. David Muyskens. Copyright © 2006 by J. David Muyskens.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Foundation of Life"

We became convinced in nine years of community building at New Jerusalem that you can only build on life. All else is sand. You cannot build on fear, guilt coercion or even idealism. You cannot build on gospel passages, Church commandments or papal mandates unless they are ultimately putting you in touch with life. You cannot build on death. Unforgiveness, repressed hurts, denied feelings, unconscious anger will eventually show themselves as unfit foundations for community. They might appear to be energy in the short run, but they will in time show themselves to be negative energy, incapable of real life. "Wisdom has built herself a house" (Proverbs 9:1, JB). And wisdom knows that you can only build on the foundation of life. This journey into ever deeper life is the essence of faith community.

from Sojourners, "All of Life Together is a Stage"

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

The marvelous power of the cross

When Christ is lifted up on the cross do not let your inward gaze dwell only upon the appearance he had in the eyes of the wicked, to whom the word was addressed through Moses: Your life will hang before your eyes; night and day you shall be in dread, and have no assurance of your life.

Oh the marvelous power of the cross, the glory in the passion! No tongue can fully describe it. Here we see the judgment seat of the Lord, here sentence is passed upon the world, and there the sovereignty of the Crucified is revealed. You drew all things to yourself, Lord, when you stretched out your hands all the day long to a people that denied and opposed you, until at last the whole world was brought to proclaim your majesty. You drew all things to yourself, Lord, when all the elements combined to pronounce judgment in execration of that crime; when the lights of heaven were darkened and the day was turned into night; when the land was shaken by unwonted earthquakes, and all creation refused to serve those wicked people. Yes, Lord, you drew all things to yourself; the veil of the temple was torn in two and the Holy of Holies taken away from those unworthy high priests. Figures gave way to reality, prophecy to manifestation, law to gospel.

Leo the Great,(400 - 461), bishop of Rome, left many letters and sermons to attest to his teaching and preaching.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him Life for them that sin not unto death." 1 John 5:16

If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says - ". . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us "life for them that sin not unto death." It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing of the travail of His soul in us? He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
"with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.

Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
what it is that he wants to offer,
and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
and will merit no reward.
Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.


"Once upon a time," an ancient story tells, "the master had a visitor who came to inquire about Zen. But instead of listening, the visitor kept talking about his own concerns and giving his own thoughts.

"After a while, the master served tea. He poured tea into his visitor's cup until it was full and then he kept on pouring.

"Finally the visitor could not bear it any longer. 'Don't you see that my cup is full?' he said. 'It's not possible to get anymore in.'

"'Just so,' the master said, stopping at last. 'And like this cup, you are filled with your own ideas. How can you expect me to give you Zen unless you first empty your cup?'"

A monastic Lent is the process of emptying our cups. Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scraping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the spiritual stamina to say yes to its twists and turns with faith and with hope. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the fact that Benedict wants us to do something beyond the normal requirement of our lives "of our own will." Not forced, not prescribed for us by someone else. Not required by the system, but taken upon ourselves because we want to be open to the God of darkness as well as to the God of light.

Benedict tells us that Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be. We applaud the concept in most things. We know, for instance, that even people who were married years ago have to keep working at that marriage, consciously, and intently every year thereafter or the marriage will fail no matter how established it seems. We know that people who own businesses take inventories and evaluations every year or the business fails. We too often fail to realize, however, that people who say that they want to find God in life have to work everyday, too, to bring that Presence into focus or the Presence will elude them no matter how present it is in theory.

An ancient people tell us that when the moment of a great teacher's death was near, the disciples said, "What is it we will see when you are gone?" And the Master said, "All I did was sit on the river bank handing out river water. After I'm gone I trust you will notice the water." Spiritual mentoring is a staple of the Benedictine tradition. The role of the abbot or prioress is to evaluate the directions the seeker intends to take. Like anything else, the spiritual life can become an elixir of novelties, a series of fads, an excursion into the whimsical. Benedict counsels the zealous to submit themselves to the scrutiny of wisdom so that the spiritual remedies they fancy have the merit of the tried and the true, the sensible and the measured. It is so easy to ply extremes and miss the river of tradition. This chapter reminds us that the purpose of personal restraint is to develop us, not to ravage our energies or confuse our perspective on life.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII


Today's eMo is really two different meditations on texts that will be read in many churches this Sunday. The first is the usual sermon preparation eMos. The second, intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to the poor and those who suffer because of war or natural disaster, explores the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.
Palm Sunday Politics

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen... Luke 19:37

One always wonders, at the beginning of this week, just how things could go so wrong, so quickly. Did people really cheer wildly for Jesus, vying for the honor of having his donkey track mud all over their their best clothes, only to call for his death within a matter of days?

Ah, but it was two different crowds, scholars tell us. It was ordinary people who were out on the street the day Jesus made his triumphal entrance. The ones who called for his execution were a different group -- more powerful people, people who had much to lose if his open resistance to corrupt power were to succeed. People who had long ago decided to get along by going along with an occupying power. They needed everybody to keep below the radar and not make waves. This would be the way to survive the occupation that humiliated Israel and threatened her always-shaky fidelity to God.

So ancient Israel was like 21st century America in one way -- it was not of one mind. People disagreed about what was right, and many felt that their very survival hinged that disagreement. Polarized, we might say today: what was right for one group looked disastrous to another.

Perhaps to both sides -- all sides -- Jesus looked like a leader in a political fight. He was crucified between two other political prisoners -- the word "bandit" was used to describe revolutionaries, and it is "bandit," not "thief," that appears in the oldest account.

For if politics is about the moral fabric of life together, Jesus was highly political. Does it impair our sense of Jesus' sonship to know that his struggle was political? It would if that were all we had of him. But we have so much more: the teaching, the healing, the example of prayer and intimacy with God.

To say nothing of what will happen in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday.


At the Liturgy of the Palms: Luke 19:28-40

At the Liturgy of the Word: Isaiah 50:4-9a + Psalm 31:9-16 + Philippians 2:5-11 +Luke 22:14-23:56 or 23:1-49


And here is the ERD meditation :

Women Doing What They Can

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. -- Luke 23:56

Because women in poor countries often lack the direct participatory power and decision-making authority in civic life we expect here, we sometimes think they have no power at all. This is a mistake.

The women watching the crucifixion of Jesus were probably invisible to the authorities overseeing the terrible event. Who would care about their presence? Certainly they could do nothing to prevent his death. But they took careful note of where he was laid to rest, so that they would remember where it was when they came to visit again. And then they went home and made preparations to do what they could do, which was to anoint the body of their dead brother. Because they were willing to do what they could do, it was to them that the first news of resurrection would come.

In 20 countries worldwide, Episcopal Relief and Development equips women living in poverty to do what they can do. It is rarely anything very big: a small business making and selling candles, cooking and selling food, making and selling baskets, selling eggs. With small loans, they begin to make small money. And then they make more. They reinvest, and make still more. Enough for a school uniform and books. Enough for other things.

In many towns, ERD money goes to dig a well, which is the single most important factor in fostering the education of girls. It is women and girls who draw water. A well nearby can make the difference between educating a girl and not educating her: she can spend the hours she would have spent walking back and forth to the river in school instead. And in school, she meets a teacher, perhaps a nurse: women who show her something of what she might become.

Worldwide, ERD money goes to preventive medicine for poor children. Mothers are trained in the use of anti-malarial mosquito nets, so that they need not watch their children die of the preventable disease. Mothers are given better seeds and farming tools for greater crop yields -- the majority of the world's farmers, after all, are women.

Poor women already know to do the next thing they can do. What we do is offer them a wider view of what that might be.


To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-80-334-7626,ext 5129.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -

Lazarus Saturday, March 31, 2007 Great Fast The Saturday Before
Palm Sunday
2nd Vespers Palm Sunday: Zephaniah 3:14-19 Epistle: Hebrews 12:28-13:8
Gospel: St. John 11:1-45

Victor Over Death: Zephaniah 3:14-19 LXX, especially vs. 16: "At that
time, the Lord, shall say to Jerusalem, Be of good courage Zion; let not
thine hands be slack. " When the Lord Jesus came into Bethany, there
were two prevailing opinions in the village concerning His visit: first,
if the Lord had arrived prior to Lazarus' death, He could have healed
him and prevented his dying (Jn. 11:21,32,37); and, second, since
Lazarus was now dead four days, there was no possibility of Jesus
restoring him to life (Jn. 11:23-24, 39).

During three years of ministry, the Lord had convinced many that He was
able to reverse illness and prevent death (Jn. 11:37). However, none
could imagine the possibility of Lazarus' revival after four days,
because of the manifest power of corruption after death (Jn. 11:39).
Even though the Lord had told His disciples that Lazarus was dead and
had assured them, "I go that I may wake him up" (Jn. 11:11-15), they
simply followed in silence. An aura of futility enervated hope in
everyone; their hands were "slack," overwhelmed by fatal assumptions
(Zeph. 3:16).

In considering the Gospel for this day, are you able even to imagine
yourself running through the streets of Bethany and shouting at
everyone, "God is in thee; the Mighty One shall save thee" (Zeph.
3:16,17)? In all honesty, probably even such an impulse - to imagine
doing this - is generated by familiarity with the outcome of the
narrative in St. John's Gospel. But how much of such a thought is the
result of deep conviction that God is able to remove death?
Nevertheless, let us consider the issue more carefully and heed the
Prophet Zephaniah's word.

Zephaniah exhorted God's People to sing, shout, rejoice, and "exult with
all your heart" (vs. 14), and he gave them reasons to do so. Likewise
in the raising of Lazarus after he was four days dead, the Lord Jesus
gave ample reason for people to shout, "Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes
in the Name of the Lord! The King of Israel!" (Jn. 12:13). Among them
were witnesses, "the people who were with Him when He called Lazarus out
of his tomb and raised him from the dead" (Jn. 12:17). But, St. John
tells us, others, who were not present at Lazarus' tomb also met the
Lord "because they heard that He had done this sign" (Jn. 12:18). Like
them, Beloved, we have the testimony of reliable witnesses - not just to
the raising of Lazarus, but to the reality of Jesus' own Resurrection
demonstrated by the Lord Himself just a few days later.

Look at why the Prophet urged the People to such exuberant celebration.
"The Lord has taken away the judgments against you" (Zeph. 3:15).
Consider next why all men die. Because "all have sinned and fall short
of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Hence, all of us are under God's
judgment of expulsion from Paradise (Gen. 3:3,24). But the Apostle
agrees with Zephaniah: "There no condemnation to those who are
in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).

Are we not united to Christ if we "walk according to the Spirit" (Rom.
8:1)? Zephaniah further declares that God "ransomed thee from the hand
of thine enemies" (Zeph. 3:15). Not only at Lazarus' empty tomb but
from His own Light-filled tomb, the Lord Jesus cast out death,
corruption, and all tears. To cap off his reasoning, Zephaniah reminds
us that "the Lord, the King of Israel, is in the midst of thee" (vs.
15). And Christ is among us. He is and He shall be!

What evil should we fear now? Loss of income? Social ostracism?
Incurable cancer? Aging and death? The only evil that it is reasonable
to fear is the loss of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ. Listen
to Him: "Who has taken up a reproach against [you]? Behold, I will work
in thee for thy sake" (vss.17,18). The Lord Jesus will save those that
were oppressed, and receive them that were rejected; and "make them a
praise and honored in all the earth" (vs. 18).

O Vanquisher of death, Hosanna in the highest. Glory to Thy might, O

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Friday, March 30, 2007


by Sister Gloriamarie Amalfitano copyright 2007

I find my assigned topic to be an enormous one. There is just so much to be said about vocation and even more about social action and social justice. Additionally, social action is a subject about which I am particularly passionate and if I cross the line from presentation to diatribe, I trust Mike or Gwynn or anyone else will shout out "Shut up, Gloriamarie, you've crossed the line."

Personal vocation has fascinated me all my life. In my pre- Vatican 2 Roman Catholic days, vocation was a subject that came up on a daily basis in my parochial school. Had to recruit for the convent and the priesthood, I guess. When I became Episcopalian , the concept of personal vocation continued to fascinate me. One thing I did not find in TEC that is all over the place in RC is the help to determine just what is God's call to a person. Oh, if someone thinks they might have a call to the priesthood or the diaconate, TEC, is all over that. But there is just not much available for the rest of us. As a result of my own vocational search, I have spent the past several years developing a theology of vocation to which I will now subject you! All I can do in the time given me is scratch the surface and hopefully whet your appetite for more.

What is almost the 1st question an adult asks a child met for the 1st time? "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Once this notion gets into our heads, we think about it and make choices in terms of that question.

As Christians we believe (or so I hope) that our choices and commitments have a God-given transcendent quality. They are not just about ourselves, our families and communities, but also are about God. Our choices and commitments have a faith dimension. Decisions we make about our deepest longings proceed, whether we know it or not, from a developing sense of vocation, of God's individual call to each of us.

To what does God call us? The goal of vocation is transformation in God by God to as close an approximation of the Incarnate Lord as we humans are able to achieve in this life. The theological term for that, if any are interested is "theosis" , which is usually translated as 'personal deification'. Please understand this does not mean we become God, let me stress it refers to becoming like the human Jesus. We belong to God from the beginning and are designed to be completely His at the end.

How does this work out, then, in ordinary every day life? "Vocation" is a complex mystery with inter-related parts. The inter-related bits that form one's vocation are:

1) WHO the Lord calls us to be;
2) HOW the Lord calls us to become ourselves in Him;
3) WHAT He calls us to do for Himself and others.

Another way to express it is : self-identity; lifestyle and mission or ministry and every single one of us has all three.

WHO the Lord calls us to be: When God created each one of us, He made us a unique individual. He wants us to be fully ourselves, to fully realize within ourselves His vision of who each one of us most truly is. Of course, we may never know completely who we are, we are not God after all, but as we grow in faith, we receive increasing insight into who it is God created each of us to be.

HOW the Lord calls us to become ourselves in Him: There are many "hows" on our spiritual journey: discipleship; works of mercy; using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These all can be grouped into a sort of an umbrella that is our lifestyle within which God calls us to personal deification, to be like the human Jesus, within the context of a certain way of life. Some lifestyles are mutually exclusive: one cannot be both married and single at the same time. But the apostolic lifestyle, following Jesus as Lord and Savior must co-exist with any calling.

WHAT He calls us to do for Himself and others: God brings all of us into this life to do something. accomplish a mission, to make a personal contribution to the Body of Christ. Several missions can co-exist within one person. Fr. Mike is a husband, father, priest, scholar. Ministries or careers might succeed each other. A lawyer might become a priest, a Red Cross volunteer might become a nurse or a doctor.

I like to think of vocation as three intersecting circles, labeled who, how and what.

Where the circles intersect: who we are; how we are becoming and what we are sent to do initiate with God and bounce back to Him. That any of us exist in the first place is not accidental. That our lifestyle is whatever is not an arbitrary thing. That we are involved in a certain work is not by chance. God chooses us to be unique persons, to become ourselves in a certain manner and to bear lasting fruit. We can't be our true self in the Lord until we become that person in the way God wills and until we do that which God desires. In other words, living our vocation is finding our truest identity, who we really are, who God created us to be.

And that, my friends, is merely the tip of the iceberg on the subject of vocation.

It is now my challenge to tie it to social action. I come by my passion for social action /social justice quite honestly. When I was in first grade, I wanted my best friend from school to come to my home to play on a weekend. My friend's mother refused her daughter permission because people in her family didn't associate with people like my family despite the fact that we were Roman Catholics attending the same parish church and we kids went to the same parochial school. The difference between our families is that mine is Italian. My best friend was forbidden to ever play with me again. It made no sense to me at the time and prejudice and discrimination make no sense to me today. That was the first time I noticed discrimination directed at me personally and it wasn;t the last. In fact there is nothing that angers me more quickly and more zealously than the deliberate victimization of a person or group of people by a person or group of people. And it goes on all around us in ways both obvious and very sneaky subtle.

Social action/ social justice, as I understand these terms are not really about marches on Washington, freedom riding or raising money for good causes. Social action/social justice is an attitude of the heart that says all human beings have the same needs, wants and desires. Some people, in satisfying their wants and desires, take so much from other people that leave the other people with not enough for their needs. Social action/social justice is a response to that behavior which says "Uh huh. No . Not any more".

Former Bishop Mark Dyer, at one time both my parish priest and seminary professor, said something in a sermon I have never been able to forget. Remembering it has caused me personal inconvenience and now I inflict it upon you. Mark said that where we invest our money and our time reveals what are the treasures of our heart. In other words, how we spend our time and our money demonstrate more clearly than our words what it is we most truly value. So the question is this: in what ways do we, in satisfying our wants and desires contribute to the situation wherein others don't have what they need?

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

The simplest action we can perform is probably the best and the greatest: greet all and treat all as Christ. This bit of Scripture tells us that anything we do or do not , for good or bad, to another person we also do to Jesus. We are to hold the other person as greater than ourselves. Notice how surprised are each group of people. "When, Lord?" both ask. Whatever they did or did not do, they were unaware of either their actions or omissions and this underscores for me that it is an attitude of the heart. They demonstrated by their actions or inactions what it is they most truly valued.

It is pretty darn clear from this passage that God not only expects each of us to be involved in social action but that He demands it of us and we have no choice in the matter if we call ourselves Christians. He isn't content when we limit our social action to giving money or voting for the politicians who will increase funding to services to the poor. Need to give money, need to vote for those politicians, no question about it. God also wants us to give of ourselves, our time, our efforts, our strengths, our gifts and even our weaknesses. He wants us personally involved. Note also that God expects us, once we have seen the need, to meet it. Plain and simple. It is not, according to this passage, up to us to decide who deserves or who is worthy of having a need met. Our business is to meet the need. The consequences of not meeting needs are pretty dire: eternal punishment. Our salvation depends upon seeing all and treating all as Christ..

I warned you at the beginning, I am passionate about this subject. I don't think I need to try and sell you on the idea of social action. We at All Souls know that it is right and good to do for others what they are unable at the moment to do for themselves. And that is another part of the definition of social action/social justice. Lending a helping hand in whatever way God makes available to each of us.

I have another reaction to this passage. I wonder if you do too? My reaction is " That's too much. One person can't do all that!" No, one person cannot. But each of us can do a little and if each of us did the little we could, collectively we would have accomplished a very great deal.

The trick of course, is figuring out what each of us can do. All too often social action/social justice is equated with really big stuff, like going to DC and lobbying Congress or running agencies. Not all of us have these gifts. In case anyone needs help figuring out what good works are, in your handouts you have Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict which you may read at your leisure.

What I am good at, by way of example, is sitting in my home all by myself in my precious solitude. Some things I do of a social action/social justice nature that maybe some wouldn't think of in this way are: prayer, knitting, using my computer to find out stuff and pass the info along to those who can use it. I also offer a Daily Meditation and more recently, guided book studies to do my bit for Christian formation, equipping adults to find their vocation, God's call to them. The point here is that God has shown me how the things I love the most are also what I have to offer to the world in social action/social justice.

God will show each of how to serve with our lives if we ask and listen attentively to those around us. We all have this gift in common: to demonstrate His presence in our lives. We may not be able to preach, prophesy, perform miracles or show great knowledge or wisdom, but we can show that God is in our lives. The most any one of us can do is toss our pebble into the pond and in tossing, let go and allow the Holy Spirit to take over.

Many times women have said to me "I'm just a housewife. That's all I've done for 20 years. That's all I know." How undervalued even by those who do it are the gifts, talents and strength needed to make a home . The feminist movement really dropped the ball on that one and I regard myself as a feminist. Housewives may be the most talented people in the USA. All of the things that a housewife knows how to do, someone else needs to learn. Especially in this day of the two-income family. Some of the skills that many a housewife has are; accountant; tutor; chef; nutritionist; medic; making budgets; artist; plumber; carpenter; electrician; law enforcement and who knows what all else? Oh, yes, the housewife has skills to offer the world.

In figuring out what each of us are called to do, please refer back to the three circles of vocation. Who. How. What. Who are you? What are your hobbies, interests? What do you do for a living? What are the aspects of your lifestyle? The answers to these questions help us identify our gifts and talents which the Lord wants us to use in His service, to benefit other people in social action/social justice. Have you medical training? Volunteer at a free medical clinic. We all know of lawyers who do pro bono work. Any wealthy landlords out there who can afford the tax write-off? Rent at less than what the market will bear and price your rentals to make them affordable for the elderly and Section 8 rental assistance recipients so they can have affordable, decent, safe homes.

Do you love to cook? They need you at the soup kitchens of San Diego. Is that too public for you? Do you know that there are people in San Diego who go around anonymously giving food to the homeless? Or people who cook up a huge pot of soup and take it along with bread and butter, ladle, paper bowls, napkins, plastic spoons and just leave the vat of soup on a bench where the homeless help themselves and a couple of hours later, one can come back and collect one's stuff which has probably been washed.

Are you an artist? Volunteer to teach an art class in a school where, due to budget cuts, there is no longer an art program. Or if that is too pubic for you, there are all sorts of organizations out there who need computer graphics done. One could do it in one's own home, email the work in and save that organization the expense of paying someone. I need help with computer graphics!. In fact, if you are willing to volunteer your services, i can put you to work immediately!!

Do you knit, crochet, quilt, sew? If you do one of these, there are endless opportunities for you. From the Prayer Shawl Ministry, Christmas Arts, our hospitals, hospices, orphans in Russia, afghans for refugees displaced by what we have done in the Middle East... just google on charity knitting for instance and many opportunities come up. If you don't google, call me and i'll do it for you.

Do you take walks? If so, take with you a trashbag and a picker upper gizmo and pick up the trash and the donations of other people's dogs. Have you seen the movie "Pay it Forward"? That movie is all about social action/social justice. I could go on like this for years, I daresay.

There are so many itty bitty things we can do without leaving our homes. One of the simplest that everyone with a computer can do is to daily visit, click where it says and food will be donated by the website's sponsors. Additionally there are other links to other important sites where a single click will ensure assistance with breast cancer research, protection of children, saving the rainforest, increasing literacy and animal rescue. In fact that is 6 itty bitty things a person can do every day and make a difference. On another handout, there are a bunch of URLs for people to explore.

As the passage in Matthew tells us: greet and treat all as Christ and meet the need. For someone else and the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, do what you can with who you are in the time you have for someone else.

And this too is merely the tip of the iceberg. Any questions?

Phone Numbers Provided for Local Opportunities


The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need; the eradication of world hunger. Since its launch in June 1999, the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world's hungry and food insecure. On average, over 220,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the yellow "Help Feed The Hungry" button. To date, more that 200 million visitors have given more than 300 million cups of staple food. Its grassroots popularity has been recognized with Web awards in the activism category — the 2000 Cool Site of the Year Award and the People's Voice winner at the 2000 Webby Awards.

Please be sure to click on "Free Ways to Help" in the menu to the left


The ONE Campaign is an effort by Americans to rally Americans – one by one – to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is students and ministers, punk rockers and NASCAR moms, Americans of all beliefs and every walk of life, united to help make poverty history.

The ONE Campaign derives its name from the belief that allocating an additional one percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the world's poorest countries. We also call for debt cancellation, trade reform and anti–corruption measures in a comprehensive package to help Africa and the poorest nations beat AIDS and extreme poverty.

PO Box 33168 San Diego, CA | 92163 |
(619) 228-2800

Episcopal Community Services believes all people are created by God with value and dignity. We actively reach out to those who are most alienated from their community and strive to witness in a word and deed to the power of God to heal, transform, and make all things new.


The KPBS Radio Reading Service broadcasts the reading of newspapers, books and magazines to the blind, physically impaired and those who have difficulty reading small print.

4699 Murphy Canyon Road

Volunteer San Diego offers a wide range of programs that help meet real community needs, while providing every member of our community with the opportunity to make a difference.

1875 Second Avenue
(619) 233-6262

Our Mission

At Mama’s Kitchen we believe that every person is entitled to the basic necessity of life, nutritious food. As a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization, we prepare and deliver food to men, women and children who are affected by AIDS or other critical illnesses.
What We Do

While the world waits for a cure, Mama’s Kitchen, a non-profit charitable organization, delivers food and support to San Diegans affected by AIDS or other critical illnesses. We care for every man, woman and child – straight and gay, every color and every race.

The Tomorrow Project
1777 5th Avenue

4699 Murphy Canyon Road

The Simple Living Network
Transform Your Life By Learning To Do More With Less

Since 1996 The Simple Living Network has been providing resources, tools, examples and contacts for conscious, simple, healthy and restorative living. One of the fundamental principles is living simply so that others might simply live.


It is our mission to offer hope to the orphaned and vulnerable children of our world by nurturing and caring from them as if they were our own. It is our mission to support programs that ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children are provided with safe shelter, nutritious food, clean water, education, health care, vocational training, opportunities to contribute to their community and access to caring adults.

330 Main St., Suite 203 A
Seal Beach, CA 90740
Toll Free Phone: 877-663-1683

The Rule of St. Benedict Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

1. In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.
2. Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
3. Then not to murder.
4. Not to commit adultery.
5. Not to steal.
6. Not to covet.
7. Not to bear false witness.
8. To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
9. And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to become attached to pleasures.
13. To love fasting.
14. To relieve the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To help in trouble.
19. To console the sorrowing.
20. To become a stranger to the world's ways.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
22. Not to give way to anger.
23. Not to nurse a grudge.
24. Not to entertain deceit in one's heart.
25. Not to give a false peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to return evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
31. To love one's enemies.
32. Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
33. To bear persecution for justice's sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not addicted to wine.
36. Not a great eater.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not lazy.
39. Not a grumbler.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one's hope in God.
42. To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
43. But to recognize always that the evil is one's own doing, and to impute it to oneself.
44. To fear the Day of Judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
47. To keep death daily before one's eyes.
48. To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
49. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
50. When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ immediately.
51. And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
52. To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
53. Not to love much talking.
54. Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
55. Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
56. To listen willingly to holy reading.
57. To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
58. Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
59. Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
60. To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
61. Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be holy, that one may be truly so called.

30/03/07 Week of the fifth Sunday in Lent


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 95* & 22; PM Psalm 141, 143:1-11(12)
Jer. 29:1,4-13; Rom. 11:13-24; John 11:1-27 or 12:1-10

From Forward Day by Day:
Psalm 22. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The Holy Child, whose conception we celebrated four days ago, now echoes the psalmist's excruciating cry of abandonment as he endures an agonizing death.

Some scholars make much of the psalm's upbeat ending: "My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him..." They suggest that Jesus meant for us to hear the whole psalm even though he spoke only those first words. I always want to respond, "Yeah, but." Yes, the psalmist writes 29 more verses and reaches a happier place, but Jesus didn't have time. His cry and his suffering were real, heart-rending. We live on the other side of his resurrection, but he didn't, not then. He was dying in agony.

Our culture wants to push people through despair, depression, grief. "Get over it," we say (or think) when someone else's suffering makes us uncomfortable. But sometimes we are called simply to stand, like Mary, at the foot of another's cross, to be with someone in the midst of anguish, without trying to solve the situation. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply to stand still, not to turn away, not to run away from another's passion or pain. Be there. Just be there. God is there, too, no matter how forsaken we feel.

Today we remember:

March 30 is a Lenten feria, a free day.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nambale (Kenya)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


How useful have you found 40 ideas for Lent? Click here!

Send a note of thanks to your priest, pastor or spiritual director. Let them know how much you appreciate their guidance.

Idea by: Erin Etheredge

Lent quote: "O God, kindle within my heart a flame of love to my neighbour, to my friends and enemies, to my family, and to the Name that is highest of all." – Celtic prayer


A Celtic lenten Calendar

Worthy are you
Worthy are you
Lamb of God to receive from us
the worship and praise
that's due your name
As with the angels we proclaim
Worthy are you
Worthy are you
Lamb of God, slain for us
you shed your blood
to pay the price
of sinfulness through sacrifice
Now to Him who sits on the throne
and the Lamb who leads us home
Be Praise and Honour
and Glory and Power
for ever and ever

++++++++++ Reflections

Be sure that the Lord will never forsake those who love Him when they run risks solely for His sake.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba John the Dwarf said, "A house is not built by beginning at the top and working down. You must begin with the fundations in order to reach the top. "They said to him, 'What does this saying mean?' He said, 'The foundation is our neighbour, whom we must win, and that is the place to begin. For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

16. R. Jose said, Let the property of thy friend be precious unto thee as thine own; set thyself to learn Thorah, for it is not an heirloom unto thee; and let all thy actions be to the name of Heaven.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Smiles Breaking Through Tears

Dying is a gradual diminishing and final vanishing over the horizon of life. When we watch a sailboat leaving port and moving toward the horizon, it becomes smaller and smaller until we can no longer see it. But we must trust that someone is standing on a faraway shore seeing that same sailboat become larger and larger until it reaches its new harbor. Death is a painful loss. When we return to our homes after a burial, our hearts are in grief. But when we think about the One standing at the other shore eagerly waiting to welcome our beloved friend into a new home, a smile can break through our tears.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Thirty - The Three Notes

The humility, love and joy which mark the lives of Tertiaries are all God given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him. We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

IN DESERT dryness, a struggle for life,
survival in a barren land.
God speaks against the desert of dishonor,
of ritual and rule and rote, with no Spirit.
And God speaks for true worship
and life flourishing –-
with justice pervasive as splashing mountain waters,
with righteousness flowing as neverending streams.

- Roberta Porter
“Out of the Wilderness”
Alive Now

From page 64 of Alive Now, July/August 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The 'This-ness' of Things"

I believe with all my heart that creating is already redemption. That's good Genesis theology, that's good Franciscan theology. Already in the act of creation, God has named you. Your "you-ness" is written in the core of your being. The Franciscan philosopher Duns Scotus called it the "this-ness" (haecceity, in Latin) of things. He said that God only created individuals, not genus and species. God created you as you, in your unique "this-ness." Spiritual life is a matter of becoming who you truly are. It's not becoming Catherine of Siena, or some other saint, but who you are. It sounds easy enough, but being who you truly are is work, courage and faith. In some ways religious people are the hardest people to work with - they're so addicted to judgments that they can't let reality be. Maybe that's why Jesus said not to judge. We've got a lot to learn from creation spirituality, Native American spirituality and Franciscan spirituality, in terms of letting creation, nature, earth- what is - speak to us. We religious people come on with our predetermined conclusions, Bible quotes and dogmas - all so that we don't have to receive reality, receive the moment as it is. For some reason it is easier to hold opinions than to just be aware and awakened.

from The Enneagram: Naming Our Illusions and Enneagram II: Tool for Conversion

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

The story

He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own for ever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised us from the depths of the tomb.

Melito of Sardis, (~190) was a highly respected bishop of that church in Lydia, and a prolific writer.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"And He . . . wondered that there was no intercessor." Isaiah 59:16

The reason many of us leave off praying and become hard towards God is because we have only a sentimental interest in prayer. It sounds right to say that we pray; we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial, that our minds are quieted and our souls uplifted when we pray; but Isaiah implies that God is amazed at such thoughts of prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. Too often instead of worshipping God, we construct statements as to how prayer works. Are we worshipping or are we in dispute with God - "I don't see how You are going to do it." This is a sure sign that we are not worshipping. When we lose sight of God we become hard and dogmatic. We hurl our own petitions at God's throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do. We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ. If we are hard towards God, we will become hard towards other people.

Are we so worshipping God that we rouse ourselves up to lay hold on Him so that we may be brought into contact with His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship to God, or are we hard and dogmatic?

"But there is no one interceding properly" - then be that one yourself, be the one who worships God and who lives in holy relationship to Him. Get into the real work of intercession, and remember it is a work, a work that taxes every power; but a work which has no snare. Preaching the gospel has a snare; intercessory prayer has none.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.

Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.


A midrash on Genesis reads: "Weeds spring up and thrive; but to get wheat how much toil we must endure." The Rule of Benedict treats work and lectio interchangeably. One focuses the skills of the body on the task of co-creation. The other focuses the gifts of the mind on the lessons of the heart. One without the other is not Benedictine spirituality. To get the wheat of life we need to work at planting as well as reaping, at reaping as well as planting. And everyone in the community is expected to do both. For those for whom study is an impossible burden, then physical labor is allowed to suffice for both but never is the Benedictine mind to be left simply awash in idle emptiness. Even the sick and the weak are to be given simple tasks that upbuild the house of God because, Benedict knows, no matter how frail, no matter how old, no one is useless; everyone of us is given a gift to give and a task to fulfill. At every stage of our lives, everyone of us has a sign of hope and faith and love and commitment to share with the people around us. Sometimes, perhaps, it is precisely when we feel that we have least to give that our gifts are needed most. The sight of a grandmother in a garden or an uncle on a lawn mower, an old monastic tatting lace or a crippled young man lurching stiffly to the office may be just what the rest of us need to begin again down our healthy but tiresome paths.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII

Friday, March 30, 2007 Great Fast The Venerable John of Sinai,
Author of the Ladder
6th Hour: Isaiah 66:10-24 1st Vespers: Genesis 49:33-50:26
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 31:8-31

The Eternal Pascha: Isaiah 66:10-24 LXX, especially vs. 10: "Rejoice, O
Jerusalem, and all you that love her hold in her a general assembly:
rejoice greatly with her, all that now mourn over her." Pascha is
eternal salvation. Christ the Life-Giver is our Pascha, and this
prophecy of Isaiah is radiant with God's eternal Pascha - a grace that
comes to us from on High. Therefore, let none conceive of the Lord
Jesus' Paschal victory simply as a past event.

In fact, all that we celebrate in Great and Holy Week transforms time
and transcends its limits. "The cross, the grave, [and] the third day
resurrection" are eternal, even as the Lord Jesus' Resurrection is
supremely God's active promise and earnest of the Life to come. Let us
arise, day by day, in the Great and Holy Week ahead, and seek His
timeless glory, until finally, on the night of Pascha, the uncreated
Light dawn upon us in great exultation and joy.

Let us also be aware, in all sobriety, that the vision of Isaiah
confronts us with a warning. For, at the end of this age, the Lord
shall execute judgment on all mankind: "all the earth shall be judged,
and all flesh with His sword: many shall be slain by the Lord"(vs. 16),
and "their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched," (vs.
24). Brethren, let us cry, "Lord, Forgive!"

The Prophecy opens with a call to the People of God to assemble. The
phrase commands "all you that love her hold in her a general assembly"
(vs. 10). As Father Schmemann taught: "Christ came to 'gather into one
the children of God who were scattered abroad' (Jn. 11:52), and from the
very beginning the eucharist was a manifestation and realization of the
unity of the new people of God, gathered by Christ and in Christ." We
have fasted; now, therefore, let us go to Lazarus' tomb, enter
Jerusalem, join the Lord in the Upper Room, pray in Gethsemane, and weep
at Golgotha for soon we may rejoice with New Jerusalem - with our
Mother, the Church.

Indeed, let us come gladly to our Mother, for from her we shall receive
the Holy Gifts of eternity and shall "delight...with the influx of her
glory" (vs. 11). As St. Paul says, "in Christ Jesus you who once were
far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself
is our peace" (Eph. 2:13,14). For in a while "the Lord shall be known
to them that fear Him" and "He shall threaten the disobedient" (Is.
66:14). Hence, let us come in pure repentance.

Above all, heed the Prophet's warning: "the Lord will come as
render His vengeance with wrath, and...all the earth shall be judged,
and all flesh with His sword: many shall be slain by the Lord" (vss.
15,16). Let us not be among those who fraudulently "sanctify themselves
and purify themselves in the gardens" only to delight their passions,
follow the latest fads of self-indulgence, and eat the "swine's flesh"
of immorality; for those who embrace abomination "shall be consumed
together, saith the Lord" (vs. 17). And if any "have left your first
love," remember "from where you have fallen; repent and do the first
works" (Rev. 2:5).

When the Lord says, "they shall bring your brethren out of all nations
for a gift to the the holy city Jerusalem" (vs.20), He is
speaking of all Apostolic laborers who are making "disciples of all
nations" (Mt. 28:19). Let each of us acknowledge before the Lord that
His commission is laid upon us in the Church - every one of us. We are
to "bring [our brethren as] sacrifices to [God] with psalms into the
house of the Lord" (vs. 20). Overseas or in our own cities, among our
neighbors and friends or with new acquaintances, let the discipling

Beloved of the Lord, let us consider well the alternative the Lord sets
before us in this passage: "The new heaven and the new earth" remain
(vs. 22). Let us labor for that which endures and not be counted among
them that have "transgressed against" the Lord (vs. 24).

Grant us in this world knowledge of Thy truth, and in the age to
come, life everlasting.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

29/03/07 week of the 5th Sunday in Lent


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 131, 132, [133]; PM Psalm 140, 142
Jer. 26:1-16; Rom. 11:1-12; John 10:19-42

From Forward Day by Day:
Psalm 131. I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother's breast.

Those words rose in memory as I stood in the women's court of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I'd come to that ancient, holy place to offer prayers for my children back home; I was missing them deeply.

Most of the women surrounding me were around my age, many perhaps bringing their children here in their hearts as I had. When two young soldiers approached the wall and pressed their foreheads against it, a tremor ran through some of the women, and I wondered how many had daughters and sons in uniform.

The woman next to me leaned in to kiss the wall. Another slipped a folded piece of paper into a crevice. Every reachable crack and crevice held these folded prayers, and I reached into my travel vest for my own to tuck into what Amos Elon called "the mailbox of God." For centuries, people have left their prayers in these sacred stones.

I know we needn't write down our prayers and post them to God. Yet somehow taking part in that communal ritual brought a deep peace, and for a moment I knew myself held like a child in God's arms, at rest in this restless world.

Today we remember:

John Keble:
Psalm 26:1-8 or 15
Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 5:1-12

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nakuru (Kenya)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Don't buy anything today.

Idea by: Steve Tomkins (with apologies to the Buy Nothing Day campaign, and to the Church of Stop Shopping)

Lent quote: "People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers... and they pass by themselves without wondering." – St Augustine

A Celtic lenten Calendar

In our walk to the cross
and beyond
who will roll the stone away
show us the empty tomb
our risen Saviour
Only you, Lord
as you revealed yourself
to three women
early on that Resurrection morning
Only you, Lord
as you revealed yourself
to hesitant and frightened disciples
in the upper room
and showed your wounded side
Only you, Lord
as you revealed yourself
through the power of your Holy Spirit
on that Pentecost morning
and reveal your self today
through tongues of fire
and through the gentlest of breeze
through revelation
and revolution
in hearts and souls
In our walk to the cross
and beyond
who will roll the stone away
show us the empty tomb
our risen Saviour
Only you, Lord
Only you
++++++++++ Reflections

Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba John gave this advice, 'Watching means to sit in the cell and be always mindful of God. This is what is meant by, "I was on the watch and God came to me." (Matt. 25:36)

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

15. R. Jehoshua' said, An evil eye, and the evil nature, and hatred of the creatures put a man out of the world.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Autumn of Life

The autumn leaves can dazzle us with their magnificent colors: deep red, purple, yellow, gold, bronze, in countless variations and combinations. Then, shortly after having shown their unspeakable beauty, they fall to the ground and die. The barren trees remind us that winter is near. Likewise, the autumn of life has the potential to be very colorful: wisdom, humor, care, patience, and joy may bloom splendidly just before we fall to the ground and die.

As we look at the barren trees and remember our dead, let us be grateful for the beauty we saw in them and wait hopefully for a new spring.


"My workaholism, of course."

Of course.

"And I think I'm a little irritable these days, when I'm tired. More than I used to be. So there's Wrath."

Oh, are we doing the Seven Deadlies today?

"Well, I don't think I have all seven."

Just your personal favorites..


Okay, Wrath. You've never been good at that. You wait too long to say anything negative, and then when you're tired or not feeling well, you snap at someone you love over something that doesn't really matter much at all.

"I know. And lying."

Right. As in keeping up appearances and keeping the peace.

"Yeah. Mostly about what I want, trying to please people by saying I want what I think they want."

Right. You've been doing that ever since I've known you.

"I know."


"Well, Gluttony."

You'll do better following a reasonable plan than by thinking of eating as a sin. That never got you anywhere good. Just ask me for the gift of knowing what enough is.

"I keep forgetting what enough feels like."

Well, you can ask me more than once, you know.


Anything else?

"I don't think so."

Haven't heard from Envy.

"Oh, right. Envy."

You've got so many blessings, but you want other peoples', too?


Ask me for gratitude. I can give it to you -- you don't have to come up with all of it on your own. It's a natural consequence of seeing things clearly.


You know -- you guys don't know why bad things happen, but you also don't know why good things happen. Gratitude is when you realize that.

"Oh. You're right."

Thank you. Glad you know that. That it?

"I think so. For these and all other sins I cannot remember..."

Be happy. We're getting there. Before you even thought these thoughts, I had forgiven them.

"Oh. Well. Thanks be to God, then."

You're welcome, I'm sure. We'll talk again. Now go in peace; it's going to be a beautiful day.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Twenty Nine - The Third Note, cont'd

This joy is a divine gift, coming from union with God in Christ. It is still there even in times of darkness and difficulty, giving cheerful courage in the face of disappointment, and an inward serenity and confidence through sickness and suffering. Those who possess it can rejoice in weakness, insults, hardship, and persecutions for Christ's sake; for when we are weak, then we are strong.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

HOW AMAZINGLY the petitions with which we enter prayer are refashioned in the very prayer itself. …

In Christ’s presence you can plead your case with the most measured eloquence, until finally he listens you into silence, into humiliation, into humility, and at last you come into some faint splash of the deep sanity that recalls you to what you are on earth for.

- Douglas V. Steere
Dimensions of Prayer

From page 58 of Dimensions of Prayer by Douglas V. Steere. Copyright © 1997 by Dorothy Steere.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"I Thought I Was Perfect"

During my novitiate, we did all sorts of good things for God. We were achieving salvation, obeying all the laws. I was the perfect novice. (You can ask my novice master.) I bowed when we were supposed to bow. I was never late for Office. I was never late for meals. If I was late, I quickly fell to my knees as we were supposed to do. One day while kneeling in the choir I realized I was not coming to know or love the Lord; I was coming to love myself. I was becoming quite satisfied with this perfect novice who could sneer at his classmates when they came in late. I knew I was going to be a good Franciscan and a good novice. I could get along quite well, being a good friar, without knowing the Lord. I could gain a feeling of togetherness, of wholeness, of maturity, of righteousness. That day, that moment, more than any other, explains why I am here today: God revealed to me that I was loved exactly as I was. There was nothing to attain. That day I was set free. And chains flew from my body in every direction, from the top of my head to my toes. And I knew that I didn't have to apologize for my humanity, I didn't have to apologize for who I was, I didn't have to prove myself to my novice master or my classmates. I was a child of God. And I could go on my way rejoicing. I could go on my way lifting up my heart to the Lord knowing that I was going to fail. But somehow it didn't matter anymore. I was loved and that alone mattered. It was my baptism in the Spirit.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

What an example! What a teaching!

Gentle First Truth is teaching you and leaving you as a commandment: to love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself. He gave you the example, hanging on the wood of the most holy cross. While the Jews cried, "Crucify him!" he cried out humbly, meekly: "Father, forgive those who are crucifying me, because they don't know what they are doing!" Look at his boundless charity! He not only forgives them, but excuses them before the Father. What an example! What a teaching! The just one, who never had the poison of sin in himself, suffers at the hands of the unjust to atone for our sin! Oh how ashamed we should be to follow the teaching of the devil and sensuality, more concerned about acquiring and keeping worldly riches—which are all empty and pass like the wind—than we are about our own and our neighbors' souls! For as long as we live in hatred for our neighbors we are hating our own selves, because hatred deprives us of divine charity. How stupidly blind not to see that with the sword of hatred for our neighbors we are killing ourselves!

So I am asking you and I want you to follow Christ crucified and be a lover of your neighbors' salvation. Show you are a follower of the Lamb, who in hunger for his Father's honor and the salvation of souls chose his own physical death.

Catherine of Siena, (1347 - 1380) served the people of Siena with her good works and the Church at large with her peacemaking.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"Be ye therefore ready also." Luke 12:40

The great need for the Christian worker is to be ready to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn. This is not easy, no matter what our experience is. The battle is not against sin or difficulties or circumstances, but against being so absorbed in work that we are not ready to face Jesus Christ at every turn. That is the one great need, not the facing our belief, or our creed, the question whether we are of any use, but to face Him.

Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections. The only way a worker can keep true to God is by being ready for the Lord's surprise visits. It is not service that matters, but intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This will give our life the attitude of child-wonder which He wants it to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious (that is, using religion as a higher kind of culture) and be spiritually real.

If you are "looking off unto Jesus," avoiding the call of the religious age you live in, and setting your heart on what He wants, on thinking on His line - you will be called unpractical and dreamy; but when He appears in the burden and the heat of the day, you will be the only one who is ready. Trust no one, not even the finest saint who ever walked this earth, ignore him, if he hinders your sight of Jesus Christ.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.

At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.

Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.


During Lent, the monks are to go on working but to increase their reading time. In this period, they are to be assigned a book to read "straight through." In Lent they are to put themselves on a regimen and study what they are told to study in a serious and ordered way. Nevertheless, the work continues. Benedictines were to "earn their bread by the labor of their hands" and no devotion was to take the place of the demands of life. These were working monastics who depended on God to provide the means of getting food but who did not, as the ancients said, depend on God to put it in the nest.

At the same time, work is not what defines the Benedictine. It is the single-minded search for God that defines Benedictine spirituality. That is what the monastic pursues behind every other pursuit. That is what gives the monastic life meaning. That is what frees the monastic heart. The monastic does not exist for work. Creative and productive work are simply meant to enhance the Garden and sustain us while we grow into God.

In today's culture in which people are identified more by what they do than what they are, this is a lesson of profound importance. Once the retirement dinner is over and the company watch is engraved, there has to be something left in life that makes us human and makes us happy or life may well have been in vain. That something, Benedictine spirituality indicates, is a mind and a heart full of a sense of meaning and an instinct for God.

Study is hard work. It is so much easier to find something else to do in its place than to stay at the grind of it. We have excuses aplenty for avoiding the dull, hard, daily attempt to learn. There is always something so much more important to do than reading. There is always someone we have to talk to about something that can't wait until the reading time is over. There is always some overwhelming fatigue to be dealt with before we can really begin to concentrate. There is always some excuse for not stretching our souls with new ideas and insights now or yet or ever. But Benedictine spirituality says life is to be struggled through and worked at and concentrated on and cultivated. It is not a matter of simply going through it and hoping that enough of the rust of time is removed by accident to make us burnished spiritual adults.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX1

Thursday, March 29, 2007 Great Fast
Mark, Bishop of Arethusa
6th Hour: Isaiah 65:8-16 1st Vespers: Genesis 46:1-7
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 23:15-24:5

Completing the Fast: Isaiah 65:8-16 LXX, especially vss. 15, 16: "My
servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed on the
earth; for they shall bless the true God." St. Nikolai of Zica shares
his own intimate description of a Paschal Liturgy at Jerusalem that he
attended: "When the Patriarch sang 'Christ is risen,' a heavy burden
fell from our souls. We felt as if we also had been raised from the
dead....Coming out from the service at dawn, we began to regard
everything in the light of the glory of Christ's Resurrection, and all
appeared different from what it had yesterday; everything seemed better,
more expressive, more glorious."

By the power of the Holy Spirit, all the Faithful in Christ are blessed
to meet this same new reality within the Divine Liturgy - a recreation
in which everything becomes "better, more expressive, more glorious."
Our good God foreshadows all this in the present verses from Isaiah
speaking of the age to come when "there shall be a new heaven and a new
earth: and they shall not at all remember the former, neither shall they
at all come into their mind" (vs. 17).

The glorious and radiant life of which the Prophet speaks impels us
onward to embrace the "bright sadness"of last days of Great Lent,
complete the Fast, and enter Great and Holy Week when finally we shall
join in the Paschal shout: "Christ is risen!"

This prophecy from Isaiah ends by describing the unmerited inheritance
that God has prepared for His New Covenant People "who have sought Me"
(vs. 10). Simultaneously, it reveals the cause of the bitter-sweet,
missed opportunity of the ancient People of God. Hence, Isaiah's words
explain why the Jews still survive through centuries of affliction, even
as it reminds the Faithful in Christ of our legacy from them through the
Apostles. While the ancient chosen People still hunger and thirst, we
are blessed to "exult with joy" (vs.14) before Him Who calls us "My
servants" and "My chosen" (vss. 14,15).

The Prophecy begins with a word from the Lord God: "as a grape-stone
shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, 'Destroy it not; for
a blessing of the Lord is in it,' so will I do for the sake of Him that
serves Me, for His sake I will not destroy them all" (vs. 8 LXX). The
Holy Fathers understood Christ to be that "stone" or Seed from which the
New Vine has come, for He was born of the ancient People of God - the
Old Vine. The Prophecy is accurate, for God Himself led "forth the Seed
that came of Jacob and of Judah" (vs. 9). The Lord Jesus became a
physical descendant both of Jacob and of the tribe of Judah, and so, "My
elect and My servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there" (vs. 9).

Especially take note of the radical reversal of circumstances for the
People of God. In vivid metaphors, the Prophecy describes the flowering
of the Church, "My servants." At the same time, the Lord interweaves
this portrait of flourishing with images of worsening conditions for
those who rejected Him - prophetic images that history has borne out.
Beginning with two disastrous and failed revolts against the Roman
empire, the Jews subsequently faced dispersion, exile, inquisitions,
persecutions, marginalizing, and death camps - century upon century
after their rejection of Christ. Even their recent return to the Holy
Land remains fraught with violence and disorder. They appear destined
"to the sword" and "slaughter" (vs. 12). Why? because "I called you,
and ye hearkened not; I spoke, and ye refused to hear" (vs. 12).

Let us not be foolish, as some have, and despise Israel after the flesh,
but "consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell,
severity; but toward you, goodness if you continue in His goodness.
Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Rom. 11:22).

O Lord of hosts be with us for we have none other help but Thee. Have
mercy on us!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

28/03/07 week of 5th Sunday in Lent


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:145-176; PM Psalm 128, 129, 130
Jer. 25:30-38; Rom. 10:14-21; John 10:1-18

From Forward Day by Day:

Romans 10:14-21. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!

My younger son once said that I had the weirdest feet he'd ever seen. A doctor described my right foot as a bag of bones, held together with orthotics and an ankle brace. But when my turn comes to preach the Sunday sermon, St. Paul tells me my feet are beautiful.

Actually, Paul isn't really talking about those who stand in pulpits Sunday morning. He's talking about all of us whose very lives are supposed to reflect the gospel. One of my seminary professors asked, "If your life is a sermon, what did you just preach today?" And, then commented, "If you want to know who you are, look at where your feet take you."

At heart, all this talk of feet is really about what we do with our lives. Having spent much of my life in education, I sometimes think that what goes on in my head is what matters. Paul, despite his agile mind, points instead to our feet and asks not, "What did you think about?" but "What did you do today? Where did you go?"

Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee. --Frances Ridley Havergal

Today we remember:
Today is a Lenten feria, a free day.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nairobi (Kenya)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Do a random act of kindness. It does not need to be complicated.

Idea by: Jengie Jon

For example...

> Let a car or two move in front of you, even when you're in a hurry
> Pay for the lunch of the person behind you in the fast food line
> Wave and smile at the policeman directing traffic in rush hour
> Hold the door open for the person behind you
> Speak kindly to the person next to you on the bus or train

And while you are practising these random acts of kindness, remember the wonderful kindness of God and his gift to us in the sacrifice of his Son.

Idea by: SAM

Lent quote: "Give rest to the weary, visit the sick, support the poor: for this also is prayer." – Aphrahat

A Celtic lenten Calendar

Lamb of God, you shed for me
Your life upon a blood stained tree,
Your life for mine, love re-defined
An offering, a ransom, release
You gave so much, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

The doubts I have, the pain I feel
When at your feet I humbly kneel
You take it all, both great and small
Give freedom, forgiveness and peace
I have the choice, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

Lamb of God, I hear your voice,
And hearing know I have a choice
To make a start, within my heart
A willingness, to journey by faith
You ask no more, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

By waters still, through fire and storm
Your love continues to transform
And with that call, you welcome all
No barriers now, no limits, just grace
No more excuses Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come
++++++++++ Reflections

All things praise You, Lord of all the World!
St Teresa of Jesus
Life, 25.17

Reading from the Desert Christians

He also said, 'Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

8. He used to say, More flesh, more worms: more treasures, more care: more maidservants, more lewdness: more menservants, more theft: more women, more witchcrafts: more Thorah, more life: more wisdom, more scholars: more righteousness, more peace. He who has gotten a good name has gotten it for himself. He who has gotten to himself words of Thorah, has gotten to himself the life of the world to come.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Where Mourning and Dancing Touch Each Other

"[There is] a time for mourning, a time for dancing" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their "times" do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their "times" may become one "time." Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts.

Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. We lose a beloved friend, and in the midst of our tears we discover an unknown joy. We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness - they belong together as the sad-faced clown and the happy-faced clown, who make us both cry and laugh. Let's trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.

Weekly Reflection
On the Journey Toward Faithfulness
written by SUSAN M. S. BROWN
I've just taken part in a service to mark Candlemas (February 2) and its surrounding feasts, including the Feast of St. Blaise (February 3). And I'm savoring my discovery of this Armenian bishop of the late third and early fourth centuries. He is said to have miraculously cured a boy choking on a fishbone, thus becoming a "healer of all ailments of the throat." Even after I learned of St. Blaise through a brief entry in a book of saints, he was a distant and rather dusty figure, origin of a (to me) quaint-seeming ritual of blessing throats with crossed, lighted candles. But then I stumbled on an article by the massage therapist Gloria Ray Carpeneto that put this ritual in a broader context-not just preventing organic illness but helping us find our voices.

I grew up in the Methodist Church in the 1960s and '70s. We had no saints, few candles (except on Christmas Eve), and not many rituals, certainly none as exotic as crossing burning tapers over people's throats. But finding my voice-that's a longing I know well. And now, after 1,700 years, through fallible human beings and institutions, and despite the shadowy line between history and legend, the miracle of St. Blaise has come alive with new meaning for me and others.

Sometimes God touches us directly, but God's blessings are also preserved, passed on, and renewed by generations of the faithful. I give thanks for them and for the endlessly available opportunity to discover the significance of their gifts for our own lives.

The article by Gloria Ray Carpeneto is "Rethinking a Blessing: A Fresh Look at an Old Tradition," Praying, Jan.-Feb. 1997.

SUSAN M. S. BROWN is an Episcopalian laywoman and a freelance editor who lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Twenty Eight - The Third Note -


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that they follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God's world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within them an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

BY PRAYING with every part of who we are, we allow the grace that pours from the well of living water to trickle through all aspects of our being, nourishing and hydrating that which was parched and dis-eased.

- Daniel Wolpert
Creating a Life with God

From page 159 of Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2003 by Daniel Wolpert.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Earning God's Love"

The greatest act of faith is to believe God loves you, even in your nakedness, poverty and sinfulness. But human beings always think we have to earn God's love. We work for it and, by doing good things for God, think we are going to get God's blessing and love in return. This is Jesus-and-me religion. It ends up being a self-centered morality of self-perfection and discipline. Christians have so commonly used the phrase, "I must save my soul," or, "Priests are here to save souls." That is not New Testament. It is pure heresy to think you can save your soul. Jesus means "Yahweh saves." As long as you're busy saving your soul, you're preventing God from saving your soul.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

Impress your death on my heart

Iwill not pardon the sin in you, I will punish it severely, but I myself will suffer the penalty for you. I will not forgive your debt at no cost, but I myself shall pay it for you. The Lord will repay me, that he might oblige me more. Surely it is a greater mercy of God, a greater clemency of God, a greater generosity of God to pay the price, rather to give himself as the price, than it is to remit the debt. Surely you could have done otherwise, Lord, but you paid the cost that you might commend your love to me in your death for me, that all my heart and my soul might be moved by you, that amazed, trembling, and fainting, I might consider how you died on my behalf.

O love! O charity! O goodness! O kindness of my God! Oh how much you love me, my love, how much you love me! Impress your death on my heart, for this is the heat lifting my soul to you; this is the fountain of water rising up and lifting my soul to eternal life. Your other works, Lord, move me to love you, but your passion leads me to ecstasy, it seizes me and inflames me above myself, so that I am completely dissolved in your love. And you have loved me in such a way that when I will have given all of myself to you, I will have given nothing, because you have given me your full self, my entire God.

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A., 1529 - 1582), an Augustinian friar, while in prision in Africa and ministering to his fellow prisoners, wrote the book The Sufferings of Jesus, a work which has guided many people on the path to holiness, particularly Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton of the United States who was greatly influenced by the work.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"Let us go into Judea. His disciples say unto Him . . . Goest Thou thither again?" John 11:7-8

I may not understand what Jesus Christ says, but it is dangerous to say that therefore He was mistaken in what He said. It is never right to think that my obedience to a word of God will bring dishonour to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonour is not obeying Him. To put my view of His honour in place of what He is plainly impelling me to do is never right, although it may arise from a real desire to prevent Him being put to open shame. I know when the proposition comes from God because of its quiet persistence: When I have to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate come in, I am bringing in an element that is not of God, and I come to the conclusion that the suggestion was not a right one. Many of us are loyal to our notions of Jesus Christ, but how many of us are loyal to Him? Loyalty to Jesus means I have to step out where I do not see anything (cf. Matt. 14:29); loyalty to my notions means that I clear the ground first by my intelligence. Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.

Are you debating whether to take a step in faith in Jesus or to wait until you can see how to do the thing yourself? Obey Him with glad reckless joy. When He says something and you begin to debate, it is because you have a conception of His honour which is not His honour. Are you loyal to Jesus or loyal to your notion of Him? Are you loyal to what He says, or are you trying to compromise with conceptions which never came from Him? "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.

From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.

And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.


There is little room for excursion into the quixotic in the Rule of Benedict. If any chapter proves that point best, it may well be the chapter on work. Benedict doesn't labor the point but he clearly makes it: Benedictine life is life immersed in the sanctity of the real and work is a fundamental part of it. The function of the spiritual life is not to escape into the next world; it is to live well in this one. The monastic engages in creative work as a way to be responsible for the upbuilding of the community. Work periods, in fact, are specified just as prayer periods are. Work and prayer are opposite sides of the great coin of a life that is both holy and useful, immersed in God and dedicated to the transcendent in the human. It is labor's transfiguration of the commonplace, the transformation of the ordinary that makes co-creators of us all.

Benedictine spirituality exacts something so much harder for our century than rigor. Benedictine spirituality demands balance. Immediately after Benedict talks about the human need to work, to fill our lives with something useful and creative and worthy of our concentration, he talks about lectio, about holy reading and study. Then, in a world that depended on the rising and the setting of the sun to mark their days rather than on the artificial numbers on the face of a clock, Benedict shifts prayer, work and reading periods from season to season to allow for some of each and not too much of either as the days stretch or diminish from period to period. He wants prayer to be brief, work to be daily and study to be constant. With allowances for periodic changes, then, the community prayed and studied from about 2:00 am to dawn and then worked for a couple of hours until the hour of Terce at about 10:00 am. Then, after Terce they read for a couple of hours until Sext before the midday meal. After dinner they rested or read until about 2:30 and then went back to work for three or four hours until Vespers and supper in the late afternoon. After saying a very brief Compline or evening prayer they retired after sundown for the night. It was a gentle, full, enriching, regular, calm and balanced life. It was a prescription for life that ironically has become very hard to achieve in a world of light bulbs and telephones and cars but it may be more necessary than ever if the modern soul is to regain any of the real rhythm of life and so, its sanity as well.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX1

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 Great Fast The Venerable
Hilarion the New
6th Hour: Isaiah 58:1-11 1st Vespers: Genesis 43:26-31
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 21:23-22:4

Assessing the Fast: Isaiah 58:1-12 LXX, especially vss. 1, 2: "My Me day by know My ways, as a people that had
done righteousness, and had not forsaken the judgment of their God: they
now ask of Me righteous judgment." We stand in a long tradition of
fasting as an important form of piety, devotion, and spiritual growth.
When our Lord Jesus came among us, the practice of fasting was already
well-established among the People of God.

This present reading reveals that, prior to the Lord Jesus' teaching
about fasting (Mt. 6:16-18; 9:14-17; Lk. 18:9-14), God had defined the
essentials. The Prophesies are both Holy Tradition and history.
Observe the harmony between the word of the Lord in Isaiah and Jesus'
teachings. This passage is a God-given "measuring rod" for evaluating
our own fasting.

Let us ponder these verses for help in finishing well the Fast we have
begun. It is not too late to mend our ways, as His words touch our
hearts. The Good Thief found Paradise in one moment as he, on an
adjoining cross, was dying beside the Lord. Read a verse from Isaiah,
consider its meaning, and then ask the questions below to correct,
support, or guide you.

Verse One: Which do I use, my standards or God's? Look again at the
Beatitudes (Mt. 5:3-12), the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17), the Lord's
sermons (Mt. 5-7), or the Apostles' teachings (Rom. 12; Eph. 4-6; 1 Pet.
2-4; and the Epistle of James).

Verse Two: What in me is resisting God's teaching, His guidance, or His

Verse Three A: What do I believe pleases God in my fasting: limiting
food, added prayers, or using these means to grow in love and obedience
to Him for keeping His ways?

Verse Three B: How does my fasting serve my ego, my goals, my needs
rather than the Lord's desires and goals? What of God's graces do I
miss in my self-serving?

Verse Three C: Do I justify being cross, curt, or mean when I fast?

Verse Four: How have I increased or decreased quarreling during the Fast?

Verse Five: What are the ways that I make my fasting visible to others
rather than hiding my devotion to the Lord as He commands (Mt. 6:16-18)?

Verse Six: What efforts have I made to remove circumstances or
conditions that lead others to sin? How have I made life more difficult
for others? How have I eased the pain of others? What wrongs have I
corrected to lighten the struggle of others?

Verse Seven: What am I doing personally to relieve someone's hunger, to
provide shelter to any homeless persons, or to assure that others
receive needed clothing?

Verse Eight: To what extent have I asked God to enlighten me in
practical ways so that I might provide aid, comfort, and / or assistance
to some needy person or families?

Verse Nine: In what ways have I asked God to free me, to notice my
problems or to hear me, while in the meantime I have neglected the
dignity, freedom, needs or cries of others?

Verse Ten: To what degree do I help others - as a legalistic duty
rather than giving, sharing, and aiding them from my heart, in
thanksgiving to God Who has so richly provided for me?

Verse Eleven: To what extent do I fast to please myself or to impress or
ingratiate my fellow Christians rather than fasting in order to become
more aware of God's presence?

Verse Twelve: What in the Lenten Fast is a waste of time or energy from
my perspective? What about fasting do I find spiritually empty? What
in me makes the Fast "one more thing to get through"? How is the Fast
adding or detracting from my growth in faith, hope, and love? Am I
drawing nearer to God and finding His peace in my heart? Why or why not?

Grant me reverence, estrangement from evil, and perfect discipline,
and save me, Lord Jesus!

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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