Friday, March 30, 2007

30/03/07 Week of the fifth 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

AM Psalm 95* & 22; PM Psalm 141, 143:1-11(12)
Jer. 29:1,4-13; Rom. 11:13-24; John 11:1-27 or 12:1-10

From Forward Day by Day:
Psalm 22. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The Holy Child, whose conception we celebrated four days ago, now echoes the psalmist's excruciating cry of abandonment as he endures an agonizing death.

Some scholars make much of the psalm's upbeat ending: "My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him..." They suggest that Jesus meant for us to hear the whole psalm even though he spoke only those first words. I always want to respond, "Yeah, but." Yes, the psalmist writes 29 more verses and reaches a happier place, but Jesus didn't have time. His cry and his suffering were real, heart-rending. We live on the other side of his resurrection, but he didn't, not then. He was dying in agony.

Our culture wants to push people through despair, depression, grief. "Get over it," we say (or think) when someone else's suffering makes us uncomfortable. But sometimes we are called simply to stand, like Mary, at the foot of another's cross, to be with someone in the midst of anguish, without trying to solve the situation. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply to stand still, not to turn away, not to run away from another's passion or pain. Be there. Just be there. God is there, too, no matter how forsaken we feel.

Today we remember:

March 30 is a Lenten feria, a free day.

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

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


How useful have you found 40 ideas for Lent? Click here!

Send a note of thanks to your priest, pastor or spiritual director. Let them know how much you appreciate their guidance.

Idea by: Erin Etheredge

Lent quote: "O God, kindle within my heart a flame of love to my neighbour, to my friends and enemies, to my family, and to the Name that is highest of all." – Celtic prayer


A Celtic lenten Calendar

Worthy are you
Worthy are you
Lamb of God to receive from us
the worship and praise
that's due your name
As with the angels we proclaim
Worthy are you
Worthy are you
Lamb of God, slain for us
you shed your blood
to pay the price
of sinfulness through sacrifice
Now to Him who sits on the throne
and the Lamb who leads us home
Be Praise and Honour
and Glory and Power
for ever and ever

++++++++++ Reflections

Be sure that the Lord will never forsake those who love Him when they run risks solely for His sake.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba John the Dwarf said, "A house is not built by beginning at the top and working down. You must begin with the fundations in order to reach the top. "They said to him, 'What does this saying mean?' He said, 'The foundation is our neighbour, whom we must win, and that is the place to begin. For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

16. R. Jose said, Let the property of thy friend be precious unto thee as thine own; set thyself to learn Thorah, for it is not an heirloom unto thee; and let all thy actions be to the name of Heaven.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Smiles Breaking Through Tears

Dying is a gradual diminishing and final vanishing over the horizon of life. When we watch a sailboat leaving port and moving toward the horizon, it becomes smaller and smaller until we can no longer see it. But we must trust that someone is standing on a faraway shore seeing that same sailboat become larger and larger until it reaches its new harbor. Death is a painful loss. When we return to our homes after a burial, our hearts are in grief. But when we think about the One standing at the other shore eagerly waiting to welcome our beloved friend into a new home, a smile can break through our tears.

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

Day Thirty - The Three Notes

The humility, love and joy which mark the lives of Tertiaries are all God given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him. We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

IN DESERT dryness, a struggle for life,
survival in a barren land.
God speaks against the desert of dishonor,
of ritual and rule and rote, with no Spirit.
And God speaks for true worship
and life flourishing –-
with justice pervasive as splashing mountain waters,
with righteousness flowing as neverending streams.

- Roberta Porter
“Out of the Wilderness”
Alive Now

From page 64 of Alive Now, July/August 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The 'This-ness' of Things"

I believe with all my heart that creating is already redemption. That's good Genesis theology, that's good Franciscan theology. Already in the act of creation, God has named you. Your "you-ness" is written in the core of your being. The Franciscan philosopher Duns Scotus called it the "this-ness" (haecceity, in Latin) of things. He said that God only created individuals, not genus and species. God created you as you, in your unique "this-ness." Spiritual life is a matter of becoming who you truly are. It's not becoming Catherine of Siena, or some other saint, but who you are. It sounds easy enough, but being who you truly are is work, courage and faith. In some ways religious people are the hardest people to work with - they're so addicted to judgments that they can't let reality be. Maybe that's why Jesus said not to judge. We've got a lot to learn from creation spirituality, Native American spirituality and Franciscan spirituality, in terms of letting creation, nature, earth- what is - speak to us. We religious people come on with our predetermined conclusions, Bible quotes and dogmas - all so that we don't have to receive reality, receive the moment as it is. For some reason it is easier to hold opinions than to just be aware and awakened.

from The Enneagram: Naming Our Illusions and Enneagram II: Tool for Conversion

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

The story

He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own for ever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised us from the depths of the tomb.

Melito of Sardis, (~190) was a highly respected bishop of that church in Lydia, and a prolific writer.

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


"And He . . . wondered that there was no intercessor." Isaiah 59:16

The reason many of us leave off praying and become hard towards God is because we have only a sentimental interest in prayer. It sounds right to say that we pray; we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial, that our minds are quieted and our souls uplifted when we pray; but Isaiah implies that God is amazed at such thoughts of prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. Too often instead of worshipping God, we construct statements as to how prayer works. Are we worshipping or are we in dispute with God - "I don't see how You are going to do it." This is a sure sign that we are not worshipping. When we lose sight of God we become hard and dogmatic. We hurl our own petitions at God's throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do. We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ. If we are hard towards God, we will become hard towards other people.

Are we so worshipping God that we rouse ourselves up to lay hold on Him so that we may be brought into contact with His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship to God, or are we hard and dogmatic?

"But there is no one interceding properly" - then be that one yourself, be the one who worships God and who lives in holy relationship to Him. Get into the real work of intercession, and remember it is a work, a work that taxes every power; but a work which has no snare. Preaching the gospel has a snare; intercessory prayer has none.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.

Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.


A midrash on Genesis reads: "Weeds spring up and thrive; but to get wheat how much toil we must endure." The Rule of Benedict treats work and lectio interchangeably. One focuses the skills of the body on the task of co-creation. The other focuses the gifts of the mind on the lessons of the heart. One without the other is not Benedictine spirituality. To get the wheat of life we need to work at planting as well as reaping, at reaping as well as planting. And everyone in the community is expected to do both. For those for whom study is an impossible burden, then physical labor is allowed to suffice for both but never is the Benedictine mind to be left simply awash in idle emptiness. Even the sick and the weak are to be given simple tasks that upbuild the house of God because, Benedict knows, no matter how frail, no matter how old, no one is useless; everyone of us is given a gift to give and a task to fulfill. At every stage of our lives, everyone of us has a sign of hope and faith and love and commitment to share with the people around us. Sometimes, perhaps, it is precisely when we feel that we have least to give that our gifts are needed most. The sight of a grandmother in a garden or an uncle on a lawn mower, an old monastic tatting lace or a crippled young man lurching stiffly to the office may be just what the rest of us need to begin again down our healthy but tiresome paths.

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

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII

Friday, March 30, 2007 Great Fast The Venerable John of Sinai,
Author of the Ladder
6th Hour: Isaiah 66:10-24 1st Vespers: Genesis 49:33-50:26
2nd Vespers: Proverbs 31:8-31

The Eternal Pascha: Isaiah 66:10-24 LXX, especially vs. 10: "Rejoice, O
Jerusalem, and all you that love her hold in her a general assembly:
rejoice greatly with her, all that now mourn over her." Pascha is
eternal salvation. Christ the Life-Giver is our Pascha, and this
prophecy of Isaiah is radiant with God's eternal Pascha - a grace that
comes to us from on High. Therefore, let none conceive of the Lord
Jesus' Paschal victory simply as a past event.

In fact, all that we celebrate in Great and Holy Week transforms time
and transcends its limits. "The cross, the grave, [and] the third day
resurrection" are eternal, even as the Lord Jesus' Resurrection is
supremely God's active promise and earnest of the Life to come. Let us
arise, day by day, in the Great and Holy Week ahead, and seek His
timeless glory, until finally, on the night of Pascha, the uncreated
Light dawn upon us in great exultation and joy.

Let us also be aware, in all sobriety, that the vision of Isaiah
confronts us with a warning. For, at the end of this age, the Lord
shall execute judgment on all mankind: "all the earth shall be judged,
and all flesh with His sword: many shall be slain by the Lord"(vs. 16),
and "their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched," (vs.
24). Brethren, let us cry, "Lord, Forgive!"

The Prophecy opens with a call to the People of God to assemble. The
phrase commands "all you that love her hold in her a general assembly"
(vs. 10). As Father Schmemann taught: "Christ came to 'gather into one
the children of God who were scattered abroad' (Jn. 11:52), and from the
very beginning the eucharist was a manifestation and realization of the
unity of the new people of God, gathered by Christ and in Christ." We
have fasted; now, therefore, let us go to Lazarus' tomb, enter
Jerusalem, join the Lord in the Upper Room, pray in Gethsemane, and weep
at Golgotha for soon we may rejoice with New Jerusalem - with our
Mother, the Church.

Indeed, let us come gladly to our Mother, for from her we shall receive
the Holy Gifts of eternity and shall "delight...with the influx of her
glory" (vs. 11). As St. Paul says, "in Christ Jesus you who once were
far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself
is our peace" (Eph. 2:13,14). For in a while "the Lord shall be known
to them that fear Him" and "He shall threaten the disobedient" (Is.
66:14). Hence, let us come in pure repentance.

Above all, heed the Prophet's warning: "the Lord will come as
render His vengeance with wrath, and...all the earth shall be judged,
and all flesh with His sword: many shall be slain by the Lord" (vss.
15,16). Let us not be among those who fraudulently "sanctify themselves
and purify themselves in the gardens" only to delight their passions,
follow the latest fads of self-indulgence, and eat the "swine's flesh"
of immorality; for those who embrace abomination "shall be consumed
together, saith the Lord" (vs. 17). And if any "have left your first
love," remember "from where you have fallen; repent and do the first
works" (Rev. 2:5).

When the Lord says, "they shall bring your brethren out of all nations
for a gift to the the holy city Jerusalem" (vs.20), He is
speaking of all Apostolic laborers who are making "disciples of all
nations" (Mt. 28:19). Let each of us acknowledge before the Lord that
His commission is laid upon us in the Church - every one of us. We are
to "bring [our brethren as] sacrifices to [God] with psalms into the
house of the Lord" (vs. 20). Overseas or in our own cities, among our
neighbors and friends or with new acquaintances, let the discipling

Beloved of the Lord, let us consider well the alternative the Lord sets
before us in this passage: "The new heaven and the new earth" remain
(vs. 22). Let us labor for that which endures and not be counted among
them that have "transgressed against" the Lord (vs. 24).

Grant us in this world knowledge of Thy truth, and in the age to
come, life everlasting.

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

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