Wednesday, March 21, 2007

21/03/07 week of the 4th Sunday in Lent


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Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

Psalm 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30;Psalm 119:121-144;Jer. 18:1-11; Rom. 8:1-11; John 6:27-40

From Forward Day by Day:

John 6:27-40. I am the bread of life.

As I write this, bread rises in the kitchen. One of my students has her 18th birthday tomorrow, and she asked, "Instead of cupcakes, would you bake bread for my birthday?" Any excuse to get my hands into bread dough.

The bread and wine which Jesus blessed and shared involve the grace of God in nature's offering of grain and grapes--and the participation of farmers, vintners, and bakers. When we get a chance to feel living dough, smell warm loaves, taste good wine, we can sense God's delight in our participation as co-creators of these pleasures.

What can be harder to recognize is God's deep desire for us to live as co-creators in all the other actions and distractions of our lives. Making bread is so much simpler than making peace, so much easier than serving in a soup kitchen or on a committee or at a hospital bedside. And yet just as bread is "food from the earth, work of human hands," our hands are also needed to help heal this wounded world.

Tomorrow my homeroom will share bread and a birthday. Recently these same students ran bake sales to feed others through Heifer Project International. Like them, may we reciprocate, co-create, give as we receive.

Today we remember:
Thomas Ken
Psalm 34:1-8 or 145:8-13; Philippians 4:4-9; Luke 6:17-23

Almighty God, who gave to your servant Thomas Ken grace and courage to bear witness to the truth before rulers and kings: Give us strength also that, following his example, we may constantly defend what is right, boldly reprove what is evil, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

A hymn by Thomas Ken:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
thy daily course of duty run.
Cast off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.

All praise to thee, who safe hast kept
and hast refreshed me while I slept!
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless life partake.

All praise to thee, my God, this night
for all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, oh keep me, King of Kings,
beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Multan (Pakistan)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Send God an email.

Idea by: Peter Graystone

Lent quote: "Go, cast your weakness before God and you will find rest." – Agathon

A Celtic lenten Calendar

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

O living flame of love, that tenderly wounds my soul, in it deepest centre! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
St John of the Cross
Living Flame, stanza 1.

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf, that one day he said to his elder brother,'I should like to be free of all care, like the angels, who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God.' So he took off his cloak and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door, he heard his brother say, before he opened it 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am John, your brother.' But he replied, 'John has become an angel, and henceforth he is no longer among men.' Then the other begged him saying. 'It is I.' However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, 'You are a man and you must once agian work in order to eat.' Then John made a prostration before him, saying, 'Forgive me.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Shammai said, Make thy Thorah an ordinance; say little and do much; and receive every man with a pleasant expression of countenance.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

A Still Place in the Market

"Be still and acknowledge that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). These are words to take with us in our busy lives. We may think about stillness in contrast to our noisy world. But perhaps we can go further and keep an inner stillness even while we carry on business, teach, work in construction, make music, or organise meetings.

It is important to keep a still place in the "marketplace." This still place is where God can dwell and speak to us. It also is the place from where we can speak in a healing way to all the people we meet in our busy days. Without that still space we start spinning. We become driven people, running all over the place without much direction. But with that stillness God can be our gentle guide in everything we think, say, or do.

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

Day Twenty One - The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes which mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them, all that it attempts will be in vain.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

SOME YEARS AGO … I read a Lenten booklet in which the writer urged me to renounce all my grumbling during the season of Lent. … What would happen, I thought, if instead of giving up my grumbling this Lent, I listened to it for the first time in my life? Listened with respect! …

One particular scripture story became for me a wonderful metaphor of sincere and respectful depth listening: the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) who sits by the roadside hopefully calling out to Jesus to pay attention to him and heal him. Some of the people in the crowd try to hush him up. … The more they try to silence him, the louder he shouts. Jesus turns to him instantly and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Within each of us is that which cries out, begging to be heard. Often the manner of its crying out is expressed through grumbling, negativity, irritability, anxiety. To shout down the cry, to put it out of the room, to breathe it away, or to shake it off is not the Christian, the incarnational way. Let us learn to pay attention, to listen, and to question that which cries out in us: Who are you? What are you trying to tell me? And then let us learn to listen and respond to Jesus’ question: “What do you want me to do for you?” It is both astonishing and revealing what will surface if we keep patiently asking and listening to our inner Bartimaeus!

- Flora Slosson Wuellner
Feed My Shepherds

From pages 67-68 of Feed My Shepherds by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 1998 by Flora Slosson Wuellner.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Security to Be Insecure"

Imagine walking in a darkened room. We put our hands in front of us, afraid we are going to bump into a piece of furniture or slip on a rug. We walk very slowly. This is very much what God calls us to on the journey of faith. It's not easy, because we want to have our pathway illuminated in front of us. We want to know where, how, why we're going. Faith, though, is the security to be insecure. Our trust is in God and not in our own cleverness. It's not in our ingenuity, our planning, our personality, status, money. The desert is the place where all of the false names for God are taken away from us. The storehouses are always empty. It is the time for learning total dependence on God, minute by minute. What happens in the desert? We will constantly experience a new name for God, like the Hebrews did. God always has a new face.

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.

Christ's patience

Christ did not govern his disciples as a master rules his slaves. He was kind and gentle, loving them as brothers, even washing the feet of the apostles, showing by his example how a servant should bear himself toward his equals when his master dealt in such a way with his servants. No wonder he could show such goodness to the disciples who obeyed him, if he was able to bear so long and so patiently with Judas, eating and drinking with his enemy, recognizing the foe in his own household yet neither exposing him publicly nor refusing his treacherous kiss.

At the time of his passion and cross, even before it had gone as far as the inhuman crucifixion and the shedding of his blood, how patiently he bore reviling and reproach, insult and mockery! A little while before, he had cured the eyes of a blind man with his spittle, yet now he allowed his tormentors to spit in his face. His servants today scourge the devil and his angels in the name of Christ, but at the time of his passion Christ himself submitted to being scourged. He crowns the martyrs with never-fading flowers, though he himself was crowned with thorns. He was struck in the face with the palms of men's hands, yet it is he who awards the palm of victory to all who overcome. Others he clothes in the garment of immortality, yet he himself was stripped of his earthly garments. He had fed them with bread from heaven, yet he himself was fed with gall; and he who had poured out the saving cup was offered vinegar to drink.

He the innocent, he the just, he rather who is the embodiment of innocence and justice, is counted among evil-doers. Truth is confuted by false evidence. The future judge is subjected to judgment; the Word of God is led to the cross in silence. At the Lord's crucifixion the stars are thrown into confusion, the elements are disturbed, earth trembles, and night swallows up day. But he himself is silent, unmoved, hiding every sign of his Godhead throughout the whole duration of his passion. Enduring all things, he perseveres to the end, so that in him patience may be brought to its full measure of perfection.

Cyprian of Carthage, (~285), bishop of Carthage in Northern Africa, had a keen sense of the unity of the Church.

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


"I have been crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20

The imperative need spiritually is to sign the death warrant of the disposition of sin, to turn all emotional impressions and intellectual beliefs into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin, viz., my claim to my right to myself. Paul says - "I have been crucified with Christ"; he does not say - "I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ," or, "I will endeavour to follow Him" - but - "I have been identified with Him in His death." When I come to such a moral decision and act upon it, then all that Christ wrought for me on the Cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

". . . nevertheless I live. . . ." The individuality remains, but the mainspring, the ruling disposition, is radically altered. The same human body remains, but the old satanic right to myself is destroyed.

"And the life which I now live in the flesh . . . ," not the life which I long to live and pray to live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh, the life which men can see, "I live by the faith of the Son of God." This faith is not Paul's faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him - "the faith of the Son of God." It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 42: That No One Speak After Compline

Monastics ought to be zealous for silence at all times,
but especially during the hours of the night.
For every season, therefore,
whether there be fasting or two meals,
let the program be as follows:

If it be a season when there are two meals,
then as soon as they have risen from supper
they shall all sit together,
and one of them shall read the Conferences
or the Lives of the Fathers
or something else that may edify the hearers;
not the Heptateuch or the Books of Kings, however,
because it will not be expedient for weak minds
to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour;
but they shall be read at other times.

If it be a day of fast,
then having allowed a short interval after Vespers
they shall proceed at once to the reading of the Conferences,
as prescribed above;
four or five pages being read, or as much as time permits,
so that during the delay provided by this reading
all may come together,
including those who may have been occupied
in some work assigned them.

When all, therefore, are gathered together,
let them say Compline;
and when they come out from Compline,
no one shall be allowed to say anything from that time on.
And if anyone should be found evading this rule of silence,
let her undergo severe punishment.
An exception shall be made
if the need of speaking to guests should arise
or if the Abbess should give someone an order.
But even this should be done with the utmost gravity
and the most becoming restraint.


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Commentary by Gloriamarie: The gist of this passage is that at some point in the day, silence reigns in the Benedictine monastery. They pray the final office of the day and after that, all is silence until first prayers the next morning. The only exceptions are in the name of hospitality and should necessity arise. But otherwise, silence. Can you imagine hours of silence? Living in close proximity to others and silence all evening?

We live in a world where noise is the norm. People don't hesitate to have the most intimate of conversations out in public via their cell phones. Drivers, joggers, bike riders, people doing every day life maintenance chores do them accompanied by their ipods or MP3 players. It's as if we are afraid of our own thoughts.

Maybe we could pick one evening a week to start and to observe silence until the next morning. Maybe it will turn out to be restful.

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

St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 Great Fast
Venerable-Confessor James, Bishop of Catania
6th Hour: Isaiah 41:4-14 1st Vespers: Genesis 17:1-9
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 15:20-16:9

A Chosen People: Isaiah 41:4-14, especially vs. 14 LXX: "Fear not,
Jacob, and thou Israel few in number; I have helped thee, saith thy God,
He that redeems thee, O Israel." During an intense persecution of the
newly formed churches in Asia Minor, the Apostle Peter wrote to
encourage the besieged churches, reminding them: "you are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special
People...who once were not a people but are now the People of God" (1
Pet. 2:9,10). Beloved of Christ, as they were, so are we - "the People
of God."

The present reading from Isaiah bears the same essential message as St.
Peter's letter. Both were inspired of God to encourage His People.
Both were written when enemies were contending against them. Both
assured God's People that they were chosen of God and that the Lord
would redeem them from every assault; they were not to fear, but to
trust in Him. Let us likewise take courage for we also are members of
the chosen People of God. Let us heed the message brought by the
Prophet Isaiah: other peoples depend on alliances, we should not, for
God is with us. Enemies of the Church will be as nothing, for God
Himself shall redeem us.

Along with his contemporaries, Isaiah knew what was troubling the
nations of the eastern Mediterranean coast lands - fear caused by the
successive invasions and conquests of great empires lying east of them
in Mesopotamia - from the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
(Is. 41:5). Thus, as a Prophet, Isaiah posed the Lord's question to the
chosen People in the land of Judah: Who has performed and accomplished
these invasions, calling into existence the successive generations of
these empires from the beginning of history? (see vs. 4). To this
question Isaiah gave God's answer: "I God, the first and to all
futurity, I AM" (vs. 4).

Then the Lord examined the means by which the peoples of the coast lands
were responding to these threats: "every one judging for his neighbor
and that to assist his brother" (vs. 6). They were relying on alliances
and calling on their idols to save them. Their craftsmen and artisans
will make beautiful idols and temples, and "they will fix them, and they
shall not be moved" (vs. 7). In other words, they were relying on human
efforts and religions to save them.

However, the true Source of courage for God's People in all
circumstances is the Lord Who has chosen us to be heirs of His promises
to Abraham (vs. 8). Beloved of God, no matter what befalls us, may we
always heed His word given through His Prophet Isaiah: "Thou art My
servant; I have chosen thee....for I Am thy God...and have established
thee" (vss. 9,10).

Do we feel weak? He says to us, "all thine opponents shall perish" (vs.
11). Let us not run about frantically looking for help, but let us pray
to the Lord Who says, "they shall be as if they were not" (vs. 10).
Events throw us into quandaries and threaten defeat; but God is ever
reassuring us. We have a mighty God Who can take us through anything in
this life. Our worst enemies are our own fears and the whisperings of
the evil one who coaxes us to tremble, to give up faith, and to trust in
any solution except God.

Here is what God promises to His chosen People: the powers of "thine
adversaries shall be ashamed and confounded" by the Lord Himself (vs.
11). The invincible forces of life "that war against thee shall not be"
(vs. 12). Sickness, the system, rising prices, loss of loved ones or
income, all that assault God's People "shall be as if they were not"
(vs. 12). The true battle always is in our heart for our allegiance and
faith. If God holds our "right hand," even though we feel like a worm
(vss. 13,14), we will hear Him declare, "Fear not, Jacob, and thou
Israel few in number; I have helped thee, saith thy God, He that redeems
thee, O Israel" (vs. 14).

Help us; save us; have mercy on us; and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

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

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