Wednesday, March 14, 2007

14/03/07 week of the 3rd Sunday in Lent

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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 119:97-120; PM Psalm 81, 82; Jer. 8:18-9:6; Rom. 5:1-11; John 8:12-20

From Forward Day by Day:

Jeremiah 8:18-9:6. Grief is upon me, my heart is sick.

When a friend's daughter, Kathleen, died, I did not cry at her funeral. But a month later, when my lop-eared rabbit died in my arms, that was a trigger; and I sobbed for Kathleen.

Both my spiritual director and my doctor speak of how American stoicism in the face of death damages both body and soul, tightening muscles and sapping the spirit. Jeremiah laments, "O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night..." My New England heritage wants to say, "Pull yourself together, man," but I know that we need to give both others and ourselves permission to express even this kind of terrifying, passionate grief.

Jesus wept at Lazarus's death. He wept in Gethsemane as he faced his own. Monastics speak of the "gift of tears."

It's not a gift most of us want to open, but if, as I have done too often, you carry grief trapped in the cells of your body or lodged in the depth of your soul, consider accepting this healing gift.

Know that our Lord weeps with you, and will never leave you alone.

Today we remember:

Today is a Lenten feria. a free day. I invite you to consider this:

Easter tide is again upon us
Providing time for self examination
Am I truly following the Cross
Looking for Holy redemption?

My human frailties are many
Can I overcome them and reach fulfillment?
"With God's help" we are told "you can"
Will I let him in? I try, but sometimes fail.

If I try with good intention
To open my heart for his intervention,
Would it make such a difference?
I must believe it will.

His love comes without conditions
Am I worthy of this?
My weakness is often apparent
But he sees and understands.

I take great joy from seeing his creation
And draw strength from his ever-present attention
The universe is vast and unknowable
My place is small but important

Verena Mary Rogers
26th March 2002

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

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Today, give five compliments to five different people. Sincere ones, with a smile. "I like your earrings." "You handled that situation really well." Hearing encouraging comments – even about little things – can really make someone feel better. If you see someone who looks down, find something of substance to compliment them on.

Idea by: Beth

Lent quote: "It would be easier to get to paradise with a full stomach, snuggled up in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry your cross." – Anthony of Optina
++++++++++ Reflections

Prayer of a soul enkindled with love. My Way is the way of trust and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

(Abba Theodore) said 'If you are friendly with someone who happens to fall into the temptation of fornication, offer him your hand, if you can, and deliver him from it. But if he falls into heresy and you cannot persuade him dto turn from it, separate yourself quickly from him, in case, if you delay, you too may be dragged down with him into the pit.

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

1. Moses received the Thorah from Sinai, and he delivered it to Jehoshua', and Jehoshua' to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets delivered it to the men of the Great Synagogue. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment; and raise up many disciples; and make a fence to the Thorah.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Bringing the Spirit Through Leaving

It is often in our absence that the Spirit of God manifests itself. When Jesus left his disciples he said: "It is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete [the Spirit] will not come to you. However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth" (John 16: 7;13). It was only in Jesus' absence that his friends discovered the full meaning of his presence. It was only in his absence that they completely understood his words and experienced full communion with him; and it was only in his absence that they could gather in a community of faith, hope, and love.

When we claim for ourselves that we come to our friends in the Name of Jesus - that through us Jesus becomes present to them - we can trust that our leaving will also bring them the Spirit of Jesus. Thus, not only our presence but also our absence becomes a gift to others.

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

Day Fourteen - The First Way of Service: Prayer

Tertiaries seek to live in an atmosphere of praise and prayer. We aim to be
constantly aware of God's presence, so that we may indeed pray without
ceasing. Our ever-deepening devotion to the indwelling Christ is a source of
strength and joy. It is Christ's love that inspires us to service, and
strengthens us for sacrifice.

Collect (Wednesday)
God, you have made your church rich through the poverty of blessed Francis:
help us, like him, not to trust in earthly things, but to seek your heavenly
gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord


Within the circle of my family and friends
May I be a source of peace
a hand to hold
A blessing

Within the circle of my acquaintances
May I be a steady rock
a ready shoulder
A blessing

Within the circle of my community
May I be a light that shines
a love that flows
A blessing

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AS WE GROW SPIRITUALLY and new life springs up in us, we discover that we have more love to give, and we feel more confident in our giving. New growth increases our sense of being filled, and we begin to engage in the activity of loving from a place of abundance. Our growth includes the assurance that giving will not leave us utterly depleted, that there will be more love where that came from. By doing our inner work …, we discover that we have deep wells of love capacity in us, capacity that comes from God, and these wells never run dry.

- Sarah Parsons
A Clearing Season

From page 59 of A Clearing Season by Sarah Parsons. Copyright © 2005 by Sarah Parsons.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Self-revelation of God"

The dialogue between God and humanity is the give-and-take of self-revelation and response. That's what's happening in every relationship. If you don't understand self-disclosure or the rules of relationship, you can't understand the rules of prayer. In prayer God is gradually disclosing himself, revealing herself. So revelation and faith are correlative: There cannot be faith without revelation. We cannot believe in a person who has not shared himself or herself with us. To the degree that person has shared with us, we can believe in that person. It's the same way with God. When we waste time with the Lord and listen, we're allowing God to reveal not information but self. This is what's symbolized on the cross: God is totally disclosed, God is the totally given God. But it takes us a lot of scraping and converting to open ourselves up to that disclosure. If we are filled with ourselves, there is, quite simply, no room for the other, and surely not The Other.

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 goodness toward us

Few people would give their lives even for a just person, and all of us face death with reluctance, even in a just cause. How great a Savior we have then, and how deeply we ought to ponder his love for us! It is a clear proof of his divine goodness that when the appointed time came, he did not hesitate to suffer and die for the wicked and the unjust. In the gospel it is said that no one is good but God the Father; and so unless our Savior had been his Son, sharing in the Father's very substance, he could not have shown such great goodness toward us. By this proof, therefore, we can recognize in him that good man for whom someone might have the courage to die.

Once people have understood the extent of Christ's goodness toward them and his love has been poured into their hearts, they will long not only to die for this good man Christ, but to die voluntarily.

Origen of Alexandria, (185 - 253) became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria and devoted his life to the study of scripture.

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


"His servants ye are to whom ye obey." Romans 6:16

The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being thus dominated. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because at a point away back I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.

Yield in childhood to selfishness, and you will find it the most enchaining tyranny on earth. There is no power in the human soul of itself to break the bondage of a disposition formed by yielding. Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust (remember what lust is: "I must have it at once," whether it be the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind) - once yield and though you may hate yourself for having yielded, you are a bondslave to that thing. There is no release in human power at all but only in the Redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One Who can break the dominating power viz., the Lord Jesus Christ - "He hath anointed me . . . to preach deliverance to all captives."

You find this out in the most ridiculously small ways - "Oh, I can give that habit up when I like." You cannot, you will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you yielded to it willingly. It is easy to sing - "He will break every fetter" and at the same time be living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

An hour before the meal
let the weekly servers each receive a drink and some bread
over and above the appointed allowance,
in order that at the meal time they may serve their brethren
without murmuring and without excessive fatigue.
On solemn days, however, let them wait until after Mass.

Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday,
the incoming and outgoing servers
shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren in the oratory
and ask their prayers.
Let the server who is ending his week say this verse:
"Blessed are You, O Lord God,
who have helped me and consoled me."
When this has been said three times
and the outgoing server has received his blessing,
then let the incoming server follow and say,
"Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me."
Let this also be repeated three times by all,
and having received his blessing
let him enter his service.


Work done in the Benedictine tradition is supposed to be regular, it is supposed to be productive, it is supposed to be worthwhile but it is not supposed to be impossible. Give help where it is needed, the Rule says. Give whatever it takes to make it possible, the Rule says. Give people whatever they need to do it without grumbling. The servers are to serve, not starve. They are to eat before the others so that they don't wind up resenting the fact that others are eating and become bitter or reluctant in their service. It is a salutary and sobering thought in an age that exploits the poor and the illiterate with impunity for the sake of the comfort of the rich, paying workers too little to live on and working them too hard to live, and then calling it "working your way up" or the "plight" of the unskilled laborer.

Benedictine spirituality does not set out to burden some for the sake of the others in the name of community. It sets out to make work possible for all so that the community can thrive in joy. Any group, any family, that makes life wonderful for some of its members at the expense of the others, no matter how good the work or how satisfied the group, is not operating in a Benedictine spirituality. It is, at best, simply dealing in some kind of holy exploitation, but it is exploitation nevertheless.

In "The Sayings of the Jewish Fathers" it is written: "It is wise to work as well as to study the Torah: between the two you will forget to sin." To make sure we do not forget that humble work is as sacred and sanctifying as prayer, Benedict blesses the kitchen servers of the week in the middle of the chapel. With that simple but powerful gesture all of life begins to look different for everyone. Suddenly it is not made up of "higher" and "lower" activities anymore. It is all--manual labor and mystical meditation--one straight beam of light on the road to fullness of humanity. One activity without the other, prayer without the creative and compassionate potential of work or work without the transcending quality of prayer, lists heavily to the empty side of life. The blessing prayer for the weekly servers in the midst of the community not only ordains the monastic to serve the community but it also brings together both dimensions of life, the transcendent and the transforming, in one clear arc: Prayer is not for its own sake and the world of manual work is not a lesser world than chapel.

We are all meant both to pray and work, each of them influencing and fulfilling the other.


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

St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): Secs. 10-18

Grom the Greek Orthodox daily email:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 Great Fast The Venerable
Benedict of Nursia
6th Hour: Isaiah 26:21-27:9 1st Vespers: Genesis 9:18-10:1
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 12:23-13:9

The Day of Judgment: Isaiah 26:21-27:9 LXX, especially vs. 9: "Therefore
shall the iniquity of Jacob be taken away; and this is his blessing,
when I shall have taken away his sin; when they shall have broken to
pieces all the stones of the altars as fine dust, and their trees shall
not remain, and their idols shall be cut off, as a thicket afar off."
This present reading vividly portrays God's Last Great Judgment. Also,
it is another portrait of the coming Kingdom of God, and illumines
Christ's assertion that "The Kingdom of God is near" (Lk. 21:31). The
Lord Jesus Himself says of that day: "men's hearts failing them from
fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth,
for the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Lk. 21:26). In reading, be
aware that the events which Isaiah describes are for the end times and
describe history's finale, when God, Who opened time, creation, and
history, shall complete all things.

The first act of God's judgment will come against the dwellers on the
earth (Is. 26:21 LXX). As the blood of the righteous Abel cried out
from the earth when he was slain by his brother (Gen. 4:10), so also, at
the day of Divine Judgment, the earth "shall disclose her blood and
shall not cover her slain" (Is. 26:21 LXX). No child of the past
century can fail to understand God's wrath against mankind's brutal
fratricide and self-willed violence.

The second act of God's judgment shall be directed against Satan, who
here is called "the crooked serpent" or "the dragon" (vs. 27:1). St.
Basil the Great also says that "the sword of God is drawn against the
dragon, the crooked serpent, which makes many twists and turns in its
progress," and, the Saint warns, "he who follows the serpent shows that
his life is crooked, uneven, and filled with contrariness." Isaiah's
imagery, likewise, is consonant with St. John the Theologian who speaks
of God's judgment against Satan: "The devil, who deceived them, was cast
into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false
prophet are" (Rev. 20:10).

Having made these brief remarks about the Last Judgment, Isaiah next
focuses on the destiny of the People of God. He returns to an earlier
image, the Lord's Vineyard (see Is. 5:1-7), and he describes the Church
as a "fair vineyard" (Is. 27:2). For centuries the Church has stood as
"a strong city, a city in a siege" (vs. 3) opposing the forces of the
dragon. The inability of Satan to prevail against the Lord's People
inspired Isaiah to sing about the Church (vs. 2).

Still, the song takes an unexpected turn. The Church "shall be taken by
night, and by day the wall shall fall" (vs. 3). God's people will be
vulnerable, not to warriors, but to any woman that "takes hold of
it"(vs. 4). Its membership will be decimated like a mown field with
only stubble remaining (vs.4). Nevertheless, God shall "set Her
aside"- sustaining the Church despite all Her lost and lapsed members
(vs. 4). The "gates of hell shall not prevail" (Mt. 16:18).

Let us learn that being on the rolls of an Orthodox parish is not
enough. We are to complete our years "in peace and repentance,"
partaking of Christ's Holy Mysteries, struggling in our hearts to keep
the fullness of the Faith alive and to live with our fellows in a
God-pleasing manner. All of us shall be smitten and the old man put to
death - slain (vs. 7). If we continue in "fighting and reproaching, He
will dismiss" us (vs. 8). God looks into the spirit with which we treat
others. If we "meditate with a harsh spirit, to slay [others] with a
wrathful spirit," He will shatter our altars of pride into fine dust
until we cut off our idolatry (vs. 9). None shall escape God's wrath
against his sin (vs. 8), yet by His judgment on us in this life, "the
iniquity of Jacob [shall] be taken away; and this is his blessing when
[God] shall have taken away his sins" (vs. 9).

O Christ, Who lovest all men, grant us rest in the land of the living,
and open unto us the gates of Paradise, and grant us remission of those
things wherein we have sinned against Thee.

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

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