Friday, March 16, 2007

16/03/07, 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 [83] or 42, 43; Psalm 85, 86; Jer. 10:11-24; Rom. 5:12-21; John 8:21-32

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 88. My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion.

Deeper we go into Lent. Not only are we walking Jeremiah's bleak and lonely road; now we encounter a psalm permeated with dark despair. Where is the good news of salvation? How can it be "good news" that Lent takes us from Jeremiah to the Garden of Gethsemane and finally to the cross, where Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And then it gets worse. He dies.

And that, paradoxically, is our good news, our "Good Friday," for in entering the darkness of despair and seeming abandonment, Jesus sanctifies it. He doesn't deny it; he doesn't escape it--nor does he survive it. What he does is to return from the other side of death, that ultimate darkness, and offer light and life.

The despair that overcomes us in the face of loss or cruelty, deceit or betrayal--invite Jesus into it. It's a place he, too, has inhabited and hallowed. Jesus waits to take our hand and lead us into light--perhaps yet in this world, but for sure and for ever in the next.

Today we remember:

Today is a Lenten feria, a free day.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Buy a copy of your local newspaper today. Read about the issues facing your community and take time during the day to pray about them.

Idea by: frin

Lent quote: "Lord, I am blind and helpless, stupid and ignorant. Cause me to hear. Cause me to know. Teach me to do. Lead me." – Henry Martyn

from ttp://


Forty days alone,
a wilderness of thoughts
tempting and inviting thoughts
which could so easily have distracted you
from your task, your mission
your vision.
Yet you emerged, stronger and more attuned
to all that had to be done
despite a time constraint
that to our eyes would have seemed hopeless.
We too live in stressful times.
Demands are made of our time
that leave so little
for the important things of life.
We are easily distracted
in the wilderness of our lives
by every call to go this way or that
to turn stone to bread
leap from mountains
and do all that would keep us from the truth.
We listen to the voices of this world
and ignore the one who endured all this
and so much more
and emerged triumphant
that we might not have to suffer so.
Forgive us, Father
when we get distracted from our task
Forgive us those times when we try
to be all things to all men
and fail to be anything to anyone
++++++++++ Reflections

Our most holy King has much more to give: He would rejoice to do nothing but give could He find souls capable of receiving.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

The same Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, came to Scetis one day. The brethren who were assembled said to Abba Pambo, 'Say something to the Archbishop, so that he may be edified.' The old man said to them, 'If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

3. Antigonus of Soko received from Shime'on ha-Çaddiq. He used to say, Be not as slaves that minister to the lord with a view to receive recompense; but be as slaves that minister to the lord without a view to receives recompense; and let the fear of Heaven be upon you.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Virtue of Flexibility

Trees look strong compared with the wild reeds in the field. But when the storm comes the trees are uprooted, whereas the wild reeds, while moved back and forth by the wind, remain rooted and are standing up again when the storm has calmed down.

Flexibility is a great virtue. When we cling to our own positions and are not willing to let our hearts be moved back and forth a little by the ideas or actions of others, we may easily be broken. Being like wild reeds does not mean being wishy-washy. It means moving a little with the winds of the time while remaining solidly anchored in the ground. A humorless, intense, opinionated rigidity about current issues might cause these issues to break our spirits and make us bitter people. Let's be flexible while being deeply rooted.

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

Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service (cont)

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the
purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening fellowship with
God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his
church and his world. Those of us who have much time at our disposal give
prayer a large part of our daily lives. Those of us with less time must not
fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted
to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail ourselves of the
sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and
failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Collect (Friday)

Lord Jesus, in your servant Francis you displayed the wonderful power of the
cross: help us always to follow you in the way of the cross, and give us
strength to resist all temptation, and to you, Lord, with the Father and the
Holy Spirit be all glory for ever. Amen


For the knowledge of your presence
in the warm embrace of a summer sun
refreshing breeze, cooling stream
the tranquillity of a mountain scene
we acknowledge you, Creator God

For the knowledge of your presence
in nature's wild and stormy days
wind and rain and thunder's roar
ocean pounding on the shore
we acknowledge you, Creator God

For the knowledge of your presence
on mountain peak and desert sand
in the quietness of a lonely place
resting in your warm embrace
we acknowledge you, Creator God

Upper Room Daily Reflection

I LIKE TO IMAGINE that each of us is a beautiful chalice fashioned by God. As a chalice is filled, we can be filled to overflowing with the love of the triune God. To be filled with the Spirit, we must first be empty — a frightening prospect. We attempt to avoid the emptiness by filling our time with activity and our minds with information. We fill our appetites with pleasurable things, good food, sex, exciting recreation. We seek to possess, to consume, to control — all to fill the emptiness, and we allow our addictions and attachments to get out of control. Yet only one thing satisfies the longing of the soul, the one thing Jesus said was needful: God.

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

From page 40 of Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God by J. David Muyskens. Copyright © 2006 by J. David Muyskens.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Real Prayer"

The most simple rule for good prayer is honestly and humility. One can never go wrong with those two. Talk honestly to God. Don't give God the self you think you're supposed to be. Give God yourself in your nakedness, who you really are, even if that means giving God your anger or distractions. We used to try to avoid distractions. But it's much better to use our distractions. If you're obsessed with a thought all afternoon, that's what you give to God. Lord, why am I so caught up in this fantasy? Why am I so caught up in this preoccupation? Why am I so worried about this bill or this mortgage or whatever it might be? Make that the subject of your prayer instead of trying to avoid it and getting into some spiritual or theological world. That's the meaning of integrated, incarnational prayer. St. Paul speaks of unceasing prayer. He's not talking about us spending time thinking spiritual thoughts or even spending time thinking about God. Prayer is seeing what is in front of us in all its fullness. This is a truly secular, biblical, Hebrew form of prayer. It's responding to life in a holistic way in the ways it comes to us. Instead of our life being a self-centered monologue, our life becomes a God-centered dialogue. Are your control needs, your fears, your guilt, your worries, your success needs in charge? Is Jesus your natural reference point so that he reigns over your life? Then you've accepted the lordship of Jesus. It's not a matter of having words, but of having a Center beyond yourself.

from The Passion of God and the Passion Within

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

The leaves, the flowers, and the fruit

Naturalists tell us that of all the trees, only the fig tree bears its leaves, flowers, and fruit at the same time. In like manner the Christian should have at the same time all three signs of love and mercy: the leaves of words to instruct the ignorant, the flowers of godly thoughts to love those who offend him, and the fruit of good works to sustain the poor.

About such Christians the Lord said, Blessed are they who hunger for justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Justice means to give every person his due. Thus for consoling others, the penitent sinner brings truth to his own tongue; for loving enemies he applies the pledge of mercy to his heart; for sustaining his neighbor, he brings the works of charity to all his faculties; and all this particularly in the time of fasting. Gregory derives this beautifully from the gospel passage: "God approves that fast which lifts hands of almsgiving to his eyes, which is done with love of neighbor, which is built on mercy."

John Waldeby, O.S.A., (1315 - 1372), an Augustinian friar, was a famous preacher and writer in England.

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


"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:10

Paul says that we must all, preacher and people alike, "appear before the judgment seat of Christ." If you learn to live in the white light of Christ here and now, judgment finally will cause you to delight in the work of God in you. Keep yourself steadily faced by the judgment seat of Christ; walk now in the light of the holiest you know. A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment, and the end of it is hell in you. Drag it to the light at once and say - "My God, I have been guilty there." If you don't, hardness will come all through. The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling nor praying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can alter the inherent consequences of sin.

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light." Walking in the light means for many of us walking according to our standard for another person. The deadliest Pharisaism to-day is not hypocrisy, but unconscious unreality.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 37: On the Old and Children

Although human nature itself is drawn to special kindness
towards these times of life,
that is towards the old and children,
still the authority of the Rule should also provide for them.

Let their weakness be always taken into account,
and let them by no means be held to the rigor of the Rule
with regard to food.
On the contrary,
let a kind consideration be shown to them,
and let them eat before the regular hours.


There are two ages of life that lack the energy of the prime: youth and old age. Both, Benedict implies, have something to give us provided that we give them something as well. It is a vital lesson. People do not become useless simply because they do not have the strength or stamina of middle age. Life is a series of phases, each of them important, all of them worthwhile. Nothing must ever deter that, not even religious rigor or pious fervor. Fasting is good for the soul but if it takes too much from the body of the old or the young, it ceases to be an expectation or a virtue. Prayer at the proper hours is good for the spiritual memory of life but if it taxes the physical energy beyond the bearable, then those times are to be "anticipated," adjusted, changed for the person rather than destroy the person for the sake of the prayer. Exceptions are the way of life and when they are not, something is wrong with life itself, Benedict reasons. Benedict builds compassion right into the Rule so that oppression in the name of God will not become a monastic sin. It is a sobering thought, this commitment to moderation and good sense, for people who set out to make the spiritual life central to their own.

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

St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 1-10

Friday, March 16, 2007 Great Fast The
Martyr Sabinos of Egypt
6th Hour: Isaiah 29:13-23 1st Vespers: Genesis 12:1-7
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 14:15-26

Healing and Restoration: Isaiah 29:13-23 LXX, especially vss. 18 and 19:
"And in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and they
that are in darkness, and they that are in mist: the eyes of the blind
shall see, and the poor shall rejoice with joy because of the Lord, and
they that had no hope among men shall be filled with joy." Again,
Isaiah foreshadows the Kingdom revealed clearly in Christ. Note the
correspondence between Isaiah's prophecy (quoted above) and another of
Isaiah prophecies read by the Lord Jesus in His synagogue in Nazareth
(Is. 61:1): "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed
Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight
to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." When Jesus
had read these words, He said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in
your hearing" (Lk. 4:21).

Isaiah knew well the common sins of mankind, and foretold that God would
"cut off" these evils (Is. 29:20). Christ actually ends the evil in the
hearts and souls of all who submit to Him. He brought the ruthless
plans of many to naught - like Saul of Tarsus, (Acts 9:1-9). Glory to
God that scoffers still are silenced when the Lord Jesus heals (Mk.
5:35-42). When Jesus was declared to be an offender (Is. 29:21), and
snares were laid for Him (Mt. 22:15-22), and when the false accusations
of the authorities (Jn. 19:12) sent Him Who was 'in the right' to the
Cross, His glorious Resurrection turned right-side-up things that were
upside-down (Is. 29:16).

Isaiah did more than list the ills that plague humanity; he diagnosed
their cause - the foolish efforts of men to "deepen their counsel, and
not by the Lord" (vs. 15). The example of the deluded Judas who
consulted with the authorities how he might betray the Lord Jesus fully
illustrates what Isaiah had in mind. The betrayer was convinced that he
would be covered by darkness, so he went at night to carry out his dark
deed (Jn. 13:27-30). Actually, his heart was dark, and so, in turn, his
thinking became futile (Rom. 1:21). In this world, there are many who
confidently believe that no one sees and no one knows their inward
thoughts and desires (Is. 29:15). Beloved of the Lord, God sees and
knows (Jn.13:21)!

What happens when men disregard their Creator? Isaiah says they become
absurd - as if a clay pot should say to the potter "Thou didst not form
me"(Is. 29:16). They become devoid of understanding. When such an
attitude infects worship, God says that "people draw nigh to Me with
their mouth, and they honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far
from Me" (vs. 13).

Thus, one can mouth right words at prayer but inwardly debase worship
and transform it into "teaching the commandments and doctrines of men."
(vs. 13). Consider the Lord's view of the Publican and the Pharisee who
went up to the Temple to pray (Lk. 18:9-14), or conversely His
perception of a widow who made an offering of her last two mites (Lk.

However, Isaiah foretold that there would be a renewed People of God -
men and women who "shall sanctify My Name for My sake, and...sanctify
the Holy One of Jacob" (Is. 29:23). These he likened to some blind
persons who out of "darkness and...mist" (vs. 18) might see the true
Light, and receive the heavenly Spirit and find the true Faith in
Christ, for in our Blessed Savior, those "that had no hope among men
shall be filled with joy" (vs. 19).

It came to pass! It is our heritage! Devout men "from every nation
under heaven" were "amazed and marveled" on the Day of Pentecost when
the Holy Apostles received the Heavenly Spirit and declared "the
wonderful works of God" to them in their own languages (Acts 2:5-11).

Let us extol with Divine Songs of praise the assembly of the Apostles,
Prophets, righteous ones, teachers and Martyrs among Priests, yea, all
the God-fearing inheritors of the Kingdom!

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