Monday, March 12, 2007

12/03/07 Week of the 3rd Sunday in Lent

[Please remember this is a sort of "menu" from which to select. No one has to pray it all]

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Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

Psalm 80; Psalm 77, [79]; Jer. 7:1-15; Rom. 4:1-12; John 7:14-36

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 80. Our enemies laugh us to the rebuke of your countenance let them perish.

The human anger and honesty of the psalms continues to catch my breath. Here the psalmist faces humiliating scorn--and he asks God to kill those responsible.

I suspect we're all familiar with the upsurge of anger that clenches our fists and our jaws, that makes us ponder actions we'd never actually perform but that give us secret pleasure to contemplate. Years ago, my sister taught her children to deal with anger by creating fantasies of revenge (my favorite was piranhas in the bathtub). With the gritty reality of today's psalmist, my sister gave her children permission to feel what they felt--but not to act on their anger. We're not to let our negative feelings drive us into evil.

Eventually, Jesus would have us so far along the paths of righteousness that even our thoughts and dreams reflect an inner goodness, but for those of us still inching along the initial rocky roadway, we shouldn't judge ourselves too harshly if we sometimes sound like the psalmist. Do the right thing, even when you don't want to--and as for those piranhas prowling the waters of your rage, just don't climb in with them.

Today we remember:

Gregory the Great
Psalm 57:6-11 or 33:1-5,20-21;1 Chronicles 25:1a,6-8; Mark 10:42-45

Almighty and merciful God, who raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that your people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that never fades away; 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 Morogoro (Tanzania)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Phone someone you haven't seen in a while, and/or take them out for coffee. I'm thinking particularly of people who don't get out much because of young children, caring for relatives, lack of money, or because they're in an isolated situation. Often you find that the call came through just when they most needed to know someone cared.

Idea by: Gill H

Lent quote: "He who knows himself is greater than he who raises the dead." – St Isaac of Syria
++++++++++ Reflections

If you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much but to love much; do then, whatever most arouses your love.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, IV.1

Reading from the Desert Christians

(Abba Isaiah) also said that when there was an agape and the brethren were eating in the church and talking to one another, the priest of Pelusia re- primanded them in these words, 'Brethren, be quiet. For I have seen a brother eating with you and drinking as many cups as you and his prayer is ascending to the presence of God like fire.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Spirit of Jesus Listening in us

Listening in the spiritual life is much more than a psychological strategy to help others discover themselves. In the spiritual life the listener is not the ego, which would like to speak but is trained to restrain itself, but the Spirit of God within us. When we are baptised in the Spirit - that is, when we have received the Spirit of Jesus as the breath of God breathing within us - that Spirit creates in us a sacred space where the other can be received and listened to. The Spirit of Jesus prays in us and listens in us to all who come to us with their sufferings and pains.

When we dare to fully trust in the power of God's Spirit listening in us, we will see true healing occur.

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

Day Twelve - The Third Aim (Cont)

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and
well-being and that of our dependants. We aim to stay free from all
attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in
the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that
gives all, rather than for the value of poverty in itself. In this way we
reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus' challenge to sell all, give to
the poor, and follow him.

Collect (Monday)

God, you are always pleased to show yourself to those who are childlike and
humble in spirit: help us to follow the example of our blessed father
Francis, to look upon the wisdom of this world as foolishness, and to set
our minds only on Christ Jesus and him crucified; to whom with you and the
Holy Spirit be all glory for ever. Amen.


Dawn breaks through
gently erasing
the darkness of the night
enable us
to do the same
to rise out of the darkness
of our individual nights
into the day-light
of your revealing love
And as sunshine
eases shadows aside
revealing beauty
through colour
shape and song
may love perform
a similar miracle
in our hearts
revealing your beauty
through our lives
and prayers

The Merton Reflection for the Week of March 12, 2007
“What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” That sentence is at the very heart of Christian personalism. Our soul is irreplaceable, it can be exchanged for nothing in heaven or on earth, but until we have heard Christ speak, until we have received His call from the midst of the Christian assembly (every vocation to the faith comes at least implicitly through the Church) and until we have given to Him that secret and unique answer which no one can pronounce in our place, until we have thus found ourselves in Him, we cannot fully realize what it means to be a “person” in the deepest sense of the word."
Seasons of Celebration [SC]. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950: 24

Thought to Remember:
"Christian personalism is the sacramental sharing of the inner secret of personality in the mystery of love. This sharing demands full respect for the mystery of the person, whether it be our own person, or the person of our neighbor, or the infinite secret of God."br> SC: 22

Upper Room Daily Reflection

WHEN WE BRING new habits of behavior and language to our table talks with God and lay aside our self-deluding masks, we open ourselves to God’s transformation of our hearts. As we wander through the wilderness, struggling with transgression and forgiveness, with our “passions” and the healing of the heart, we plead along with the psalmist: “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.”

- Marilyn Brown Oden
Wilderness Wanderings

From page 23 of Wilderness Wanderings: A Lenten Pilgrimage by Marilyn Brown Oden. Copyright © 1995 by Marilyn Brown Oden.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Praying in Your Rhythm"

People have different temperaments, rhythms and season. There isn't just one way to be in prayer, communion or relationship. There isn't just one way to be in dialogue. Laity and clergy used to think we had to adjust to a monastic prayer style. We still have not recognized the rhythm of American society, or the rhythm we live as parents, workers and families. My rhythm has changed at different periods in my life. I often feel that I prayed much better when I was in the seminary than I pray now. The rhythm of my life now is so unpredictable and so dependent upon others' needs and expectations. There have been periods in the last few years where I discovered I was much more in a weekly rhythm than a daily rhythm. I would take Friday afternoons, listening and waiting upon the Lord. Now I take Wednesdays, where I really spend a longer period sinking into that presence and resting in that presence. There have been times where we were encouraged to take a monthly day of recollection. And there are days when I can't survive without a twenty-minute rosary or a contemplative sit in the middle of a busy day. Respect your own temperament. Respect the rhythm of your life and know that it will change at different periods of your life.

from The Price of Peoplehood

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

Christ's whole life was filled with insults

Scripture tells us that for the sake of the joy that lay ahead of him Christ endured the cross, thinking nothing of the shame of it. What exactly is meant by thinking nothing of the shame? The simple fact, as Saint Paul says, that Christ chose an ignominious death, that he chose it in full freedom because he was not subject to sin. By so doing Christ taught us to face disgrace boldly and make light of it.

Let me remind you of the goal he achieved: He has taken his seat at the right hand of God. You see the prize to be won in this conflict. Even if there were no reward to be gained, Christ's example would be enough to persuade us to endure all our trials willingly. In point of fact, we are told that rewards do lie ahead of us, and these no ordinary honors, but prizes of such magnitude that they cannot be described.

Therefore, whenever we ourselves have to suffer some disgrace, let us think of Christ, remembering that his whole life was filled with insults. He was continuously hearing himself called a madman, deceiver, and sorcerer, by the very people among whom he went about doing good, for whom he performed miracles, and to whom he revealed the works of God.

John Chrysostom, (347 - 407), patriarch of Constantinople, spent a life of preaching and earned the title of "the golden-mouthed."

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


"Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee. . . ." Mark 10:28

Our Lord replies in effect, that abandonment is for Himself, and not for what the disciples themselves will get from it. Beware of an abandonment which has the commercial spirit in it - "I am going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy." All that is the result of being right with God, but that spirit is not of the essential nature of Christianity. Abandonment is not for anything at all. We have got so commercialized that we only go to God for something from Him, and not for Himself. It is like saying, "No, Lord, I don't want Thee, I want myself; but I want myself clean and filled with the Holy Ghost; I want to be put in Thy show room and be able to say - 'This is what God has done for me.'" If we only give up something to God because we want more back, there is nothing of the Holy Spirit in our abandonment; it is miserable commercial self-interest. That we gain heaven, that we are delivered from sin, that we are made useful to God - these things never enter as considerations into real abandonment, which is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.

When we come up against the barriers of natural relationship, where is Jesus Christ? Most of us desert Him - "Yes, Lord, I did hear Thy call; but my mother is in the road, my wife, my self-interest, and I can go no further." "Then," Jesus says, "you cannot be My disciple."

The test of abandonment is always over the neck of natural devotion. Go over it, and God's own abandonment will embrace all those you had to hurt in abandoning. Beware of stopping short of abandonment to God. Most of us know abandonment in vision only.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 34: Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is Necessary

Let us follow the Scripture,
"Distribution was made to each
according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
By this we do not mean that there should be respecting of persons
(which God forbid),
but consideration for infirmities.
She who needs less should thank God and not be discontented;
but she who needs more
should be humbled by the thought of her infirmity
rather than feeling important
on account of the kindness shown her.
Thus all the members will be at peace.

Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear
for any reason whatsoever
in the least word or sign.
If anyone is caught at it,
let her be placed under very severe discipline.


Site needs to be updated.

Commentary by Gloriamarie: All I can think of is how much this reverses the idea of status, eliminates any concept of status. "Each according to their need"... no one has more than they need, no one has less. All have what they need. How equitable, how fair.

Our society sometimes often seems to worship those who have too much and spend it extravagantly on fripperies. What would Benedict say to that and to us, I wonder?

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

St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 60-68

From the Greek Orthodox:

Monday, March 12, 2007 Great Fast The Venerable Simeon the New
6th Hour: Isaiah 14:24-32 1st Vespers: Genesis 8:21-9:7
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 11:19-12:6

Breaking the Yoke: Isaiah 14:24-32 LXX, especially vs. 24. 25: "I have destroy the Assyrians upon My land, and upon My
mountains: and they shall be for trampling; and their yoke shall be
taken away from them, and their glory shall be taken away from their
shoulders." The prophecies from Isaiah this week unveil five mysteries
of the Kingdom of God. The first of these simply foretells the end of
Assyrian and Philistine oppression for the ancient Kingdom of Judah.
However, in three stunning truths within Isaiah's predictions, God
reveals the Mystery of salvation in Christ, that is: 1) what God
determines cannot be frustrated; 2) Divine action frees the Faithful;
and 3) God enables His people to find refuge from affliction. Christ
manifests God's destruction of human bondage and our restoration. No
power, not even death, can annul the purpose of the Lord, our
Life-giver; for, in Him, the Faithful are set free, and within His
Church all His members may gain release from bondage to sin and death.

Two nations oppressed the ancient people of God, and the Prophet Isaiah
addressed their threat: the Assyrian empire dominated the tiny kingdom
of Judah economically, impoverishing God's people by extortion of their
livelihood in massive payments of tribute. The neighboring kingdom of
Philistia - itself a satellite of Assyria - raided, pillaged, and even
conquered whole villages, cities, and farms of the Holy Land along its
common border with Judah, withering the tiny nation even further. The
people felt these impositions as a yoke grinding them down beneath heavy
burdens (vs. 25) - as a punishing rod sent to afflict them (vs. 29).

A yoke can be imposed either on beasts or men to make them bear heavy
burdens or pull ponderous loads. For Isaiah, the yoke served as a vivid
image of his nation's vassalage, a rule that Assyria forced on the
People of God. The Lord's immediate message to His ancient People was
that Assyria's yoke soon would be removed (vs. 25), but He added: "This
is the purpose which the Lord has purposed upon the whole earth: and
this is the hand that is uplifted against all the nations" (vs.26).
Notice the universality of the Lord's statement that converts the
prophecy into a type of the saving work of God in Christ - a message for
all people.

The Faithful in Christ hear the loving invitation of the Lord Jesus:
"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and lowly in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My
burden is light" (Mt. 11:29-30). In Christ we are yoked with "Love
[Who] is strong as death" (SOS 8:6), and proven stronger in His
Resurrection. Thus, He pulls the load we cannot bear alone. Best of
all, God's saving work cannot be annulled (Is. 14:27).

Of old God promised to "destroy the Assyrians upon My land, and upon My
mountains: and they shall be for trampling" (vs. 25). The phrase points
to the risen Christ, Who "hath trampled down death by death," asking,
"who shall turn back His uplifted hand?" (vs. 27 LXX).

Anciently, Isaiah warned the Philistines that the collapse of Assyria
would not mean their release from God's wrath. "Rejoice not, O
Philistia, all of you, that the rod which smote you is broken, for from
the serpent's root will come forth an adder" (vs. 29). God has purposed
to free all His beloved ones: "the first-born of the poor will feed, and
the needy lie down in safety" (vs. 32). "Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28).

Finally, Isaiah declares, "the Lord has founded Zion, and by Him the
poor of the people shall be saved."(vs. 30). Yes, Beloved, the Church
is the ultimate Zion wherein those afflicted by the demonic
principalities and powers, by their own passions-run-amok, or by death
escape "the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the...Lord
Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 2:20).

O Christ our God, the fulfillment of the Prophets, fill our hearts with
joy and gladness.


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