Sunday, March 25, 2007

25/03/07 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

Psalm 25; Isaiah 43:16-21; Phil.3:8-14; Luke 20:9-19

From Forward Day by Day:

Philippians 3:8-14. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse...but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind... I press on toward the goal...the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

How could Paul "forget" his previous life, his old friends, his past pleasures? After his blinding conversion, he was at first sure that he could reach other Pharisees like himself, sure that these old companions would see the light of Christ and join him on his new journey. Staying faithful to their own sense of calling, however, they rejected Paul. How hard it must have been for Paul to fail--and yet he doesn't allow himself to wallow in pity or to exert energy in anger; instead he trusts God to care for them and turns his face to the future, to the "upward call of God."

My desks both at home and at school groan under the weight of old papers and books. My shoulders often ache from carrying old griefs and guilt. My heart is heavy with unresolved sorrows. All this is what Paul would have me lay down, forget, "count as refuse," in order to respond with grace and agility to that upward call.

"Forgetting" this part of my past would free me to turn to our Lord, with gladness and singleness of heart.

Today we remember:

On the calendars of most of Christianity, March 25 is observed as the Annunciation. Not so in the Episcopal Church which for some reason, has transferred observation of this important event in the life of our Lord to tomorrow when very few of us will be in church.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Muyinga (Burundi)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar
Sundays are in Lent but not of Lent

A Celtic lenten Calendar

++++++++++ Reflections

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and faith.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Story of a Soul.

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba John said, 'I am lke a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers. When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved. It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

2. Rabban Gamliel, son of R. Jehudah ha-Nasi, said, Excellent is Thorah study together with worldly business, for the practice of them both puts iniquity out of remembrance; and all Thorah without work must fail at length, and occasion iniquity. And let all who are employed with the congregation act with them in the name of Heaven, for the merit of their fathers sustains them, and their righteousness stands for ever. And ye yourselves shall have reward reckoned unto you as if ye had wrought.

3.Be cautious with (those in) authority, for they let not a man approach them but for their own purposes; and they appear like friends when it is to their advantage, and stand not by a man in the hour of his need.

4. He used to say, Do His will as if it were thy will, that He may do thy will as if it were His will. Annul thy will before His will, that He may annul the will of others before thy w

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Healing Touch

Touch, yes, touch, speaks the wordless words of love. We receive so much touch when we are babies and so little when we are adults. Still, in friendship touch often gives more life than words. A friend's hand stroking our back, a friend's arms resting on our shoulder, a friend's fingers wiping our tears away, a friend's lips kissing our forehead --- these are true consolation. These moments of touch are truly sacred. They restore, they reconcile, they reassure, they forgive, they heal.

Everyone who touched Jesus and everyone whom Jesus touched were healed. God's love and power went out from him (see Luke 6:19). When a friend touches us with free, nonpossessive love, it is God's incarnate love that touches us and God's power that heals us.

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

Day Twenty Five - The Second Note -


Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) Love is the distinguishing feature of all true disciples of Christ who wish to dedicate themselves to him as his servants.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

O GOD who frees us from death,
give us courage to live life fully and unashamedly.
When we are entombed, free us.
When we are distracted, help us to focus on life.
When we are obsessed, liberate us.
May we find joy in service to your people.
May we find light in darkness.
May we find life in death. Amen.

- Susan Henry-Crowe
“The Time in Between”
The Upper Room Disciplines 2005

From page 81 of “The Time in Between” by Susan Henry-Crowe in The Upper Room Disciplines 2005. Copyright © 2004 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Attitude of Faith"

Unless we can presume that the Lord is speaking right now, how can we believe that he ever spoke? This is the premise on which we're proceeding: that the Lord is acting and speaking in our lives right now. To have an attitude of faith is to hear the Lord speaking everywhere and all the time, in the concrete and ordinary circumstances of our lives. Then religion and life have become one, and we are never far form God. That's why people of faith never grown old and never grow tired. They don't need signs and wonders, apparitions and visions. God has quietly broken through and stands perfectly revealed in the now of things.

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.

The Annunciation

Today's feast, recalling the extraordinary way in which the Virgin conceived, celebrates the beginning of our reconciliation and proclaims the unerring disposition of God's mercy and power. There is a profound and wonderful mystery hidden in this conception by which the bond of our transgression is canceled, the divine is joined to the human, and two, that is Christ and the Church, become one body. The Virgin's womb was the bridal chamber for this union, and at the end of the normal period for carrying a child, Christ together with his spouse, our flesh, like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, placed his dwelling, the body he had assumed, in the sun; for he made his body through which he was to vanquish the foe visible to all.

Let us ponder all this with care and with deep longing savor the graciousness of God, considering how wonderful are the rewards promised us in heaven. Let us model ourselves on the one who gave his life on earth as a pattern of Christian living.

Ivo of Chartres, (1040 - 1116), an Augustinian canon and later bishop of Chartres, left many letters and some sermons.

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


"The friend of the Bridegroom." John 3:29

Goodness and purity ought never to attract attention to themselves, they ought simply to be magnets to draw to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing towards Him, it is not holiness of the right order, but an influence that will awaken inordinate affection and lead souls away into side-eddies. A beautiful saint may be a hindrance if he does not present Jesus Christ but only what Christ has done for him. He will leave the impression - "What a fine character that man is!" That is not being a true friend of the Bridegroom; I am increasing all the time, He is not.

In order to maintain this friendship and loyalty to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful of our moral and vital relationship to Him than of any other thing, even of obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey, the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that. Only occasionally do we have to obey. When a crisis arises we have to find out what God's will is, but the greater part of the life is not conscious obedience but the maintenance of this relationship - the friend of the Bridegroom. Christian work may be a means of evading the soul's concentration on Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, we may become amateur providences, and may work against Him whilst we use His weapons.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory

When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.

But boys for such faults shall be whipped.


"To know all of the Talmud is a great thing," the rabbis teach; "but to learn one virtue is greater." In Benedictine spirituality, two constants emerge clearly: first, community prayer is central to the life and second, whatever is done must be done well. To fail to prepare the prayer, then, to pray poorly and sloppily, to read the scripture to people who do not have books and to read it without care, without sense, without accuracy is to strike at the very core of the community life. It is a fault serious enough to undermine the spiritual life of the community. It is not to be endured.

"Those who pray without knowing what they pray," Maimon ben Joseph wrote, "do not pray." If anything, this chapter requires us to ask even to this day how it is that we can hear the scripture but never study it, pray prayers but never contemplate the universal implications of them, go through rituals but never immerse ourselves in their meaning. How is it that we too pray without thinking, pray carelessly, pray poorly or pray without thought?

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

The Annunciation of the Theotokos Tone 8 Fish, Wine, & Oil
March 25, 2007
3rd Vespers Annunciation: Proverbs 9:1-11 Epistle: Hebrews
Gospel: St. Luke 1:24-38

Preconditions: Proverbs 9:1-11 LXX, especially vs. 10: "The fear of the
Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of saints is
understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind."
When the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Theotokos that she was to
bear "the Son of the Highest" Who would "reign over the house of Jacob"
(the Church) as monarch of an everlasting Kingdom (Lk. 1:32-33), the
great Angel addressed a young woman who already had met God's
preconditions for assuming the role of Theotokos, God-bearer or birth-giver.

A monk of our Church has said - applying the Mystery of the Incarnation
of God to us: "Jesus can be born in us, can be born through us...[to
take] real possession of our being." However, as the Virgin was ready
to be the Mother of God, so we too need to labor toward our own state of
spiritual readiness. Hence, we must repent from "all things which God
hates" (Prov. 6:16) so that the "seven pillars" of wisdom's palace may
become the undergirding of the spiritual temple of our heart (Prov. 9:1).

Holy Wisdom, of course, is our Lord Jesus Christ; for He is everything
that God loves (Jn. 17:26) - He is humble, truthful, life-nurturing,
pure of heart, obedient to God, merciful, and conciliatory. There is
nothing in Him that God hates, such as "the eye of the haughty, a tongue
unjust, hands shedding the blood of the just, and a heart devising evil
thoughts, and feet hastening to do evil [who]...kindles falsehoods and
brings on quarrels between brethren" (Prov. 6:16-19). Ah, that such a
One might be born in us! A worthy goal toward which to strive!

In the present reading, a type of Christ our God is revealed, which
centuries ago prompted the Church to call him Holy Wisdom, or, in the
original, Hagia Sophia. In this instance, Holy Wisdom is presented as a
great Queen who builds a glorious palace supported on seven pillars
within which she prepares a bounteous Feast for anyone who is morally
foolish and wants understanding - that he may "turn aside" to her (Prov.
9:4), "leave folly [and]...reign for ever, and seek wisdom, and improve
understanding by knowledge" (vs. 6).

As we know, the servants of Holy Wisdom, the Holy Apostles and Fathers
of the Church whom Wisdom sends forth, are calling us even now "with a
loud proclamation to the Feast" (vs. 3), "Come eat of My bread, and
drink wine which I have mingled for you" (vs. 5). Wisdom Himself also
reproved evil men and rebuked the ungodly when they treated Him
disgracefully and hated Him (vss. 7,8). However, Beloved of the Lord,
we need not be counted among the ungodly. Our Savior gives us the grand
opportunity to "be wiser" and to "receive more instruction" (vs. 9).

The very first of all the preconditions He sets for us as invited guests
is "fear of the Lord [which] is the beginning of wisdom" (vs. 10).
Christ our God, true Holy Wisdom, does not call us to a craven, cowering
fear, but to a healing and wholesome awe before the magnificent Creator
Himself, Who called us into being out of nothing, and is calling us now
to eat His bread and drink His wine at His royal feast. What an invitation!

Let us not disdain the invitation of Holy Wisdom, but cast aside
whatever in us is not humble, truthful, life-nurturing, pure of heart,
obedient to God, merciful, and conciliatory. These are the
preconditions that He looks for in us. We may begin today to acquire
these God-pleasing virtues, and Jesus can be born in us and through us
to take full possession of our being.

The Lord ends this reading with a promise: if we will progress
towards His necessary preconditions, we shall "live long, [and]
years...of life...shall be added to" us (vs. 11).

Grant us, O Lord Christ, pardon and remission of our sins and
transgressions, all things good and profitable for our souls, and a good
defense before Thy dread Judgment seat.

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

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