Wednesday, April 04, 2007

04/04/07 Wednesday in Holy Week, 2007


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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.


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 74
Jer. 17:5-10, 14-17; Phil. 4:1-13; John 12:27-36

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-25. Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.

Recently, an obscure village in Poland was in the news. A new book revealed that a massacre of 1,800 Jews in that town had not been carried out by Nazis after all, but by local people--the Jews' own Christian neighbors. Names were named. Present residents are trying to understand how relatives and friends could do something so ghastly. The brass tablet in front of the site where the Jews were burned alive is being changed so that it tells the truth.

Betraying a friend, or many friends, can be covered up; but one day God's truth will tear away the disguises and the truth is revealed. Those 1,800 people were burned by their neighbors. Where was God, then? He was there, of course, in the midst of his people, mourning the senseless suffering and deaths. He was present when tens of thousands "disappeared" in Chile, San Salvador, Nicaragua; and now, in Darfur; and even in our own inner cities, where racism, alcohol, and drugs cause all manner of despair. The Eternal One is where he always is: in the midst of his people. God allows us to choose between good and evil. Because of our fallen nature, some of us choose badly, some even hold hands with the devil. The innocent suffer and Satan seems to win. But he doesn't really; never for long. Always, on one bright morning, the stone is rolled away.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nasik (North India)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Compose your own obituary, summing up what your life meant to other people. Remember, people always say nice things in obituaries.

Idea by: Steve Tomkins

Lent quote: "Lord, when we stumble, hold us. When we fall, lift us up. When we turn from goodness, turn us back. And bring us at last to your glory." – St Alcuin

A Celtic lenten Calendar

How often when weary
do we sigh 'The spirit is willing,
but the body is weak.'
How often when in prayer
are thoughts distracted by
sounds or circumstance
or prayers diverted
by trivial concerns.
Baggage carried with us
rather than left at your feet.
How often do we find ourselves
apologising to you
for our abbreviated prayer life.
And yet you draw us still
to be in your presence
as you did the disciples at Gethsemene
You want us to share in your life
to play our part.
You told your disciples to watch and pray
so that they might not fall into temptation
Do you ask the same of us
and do we also fail you
each time we whisper
'The spirit is willing,
but the body is weak.'
Grant us the strength, Lord
of body and of spirit
to offer you the sacrifice
of our lives
++++++++++ Reflections

The soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, I.

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Isidore went one day to see Abba Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria and when he returned to Scetis the trethren asked him, 'What is going on in the city?' But he said to them, 'Truly, brothers, I did not see the face of anyone there, except that of the archbishop.' Hearing this they were very anxious and said to him, 'Has there been a disaster there, then, abba?' He said 'Not at all, but the thought of looking at anyone did not get the better of me' At these words they were filled with admiration, and strengthened in their intention of guarding kthe eyes from all distraction.

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Chananiah, prefect of the priests, said, Pray for the peace of the kingdom, since but for fear thereof we had swallowed up each his neighbour alive.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Daring to Become Dependent

When someone gives us a watch but we never wear it, the watch is not really received. When someone offers us an idea but we do not respond to it, that idea is not truly received. When someone introduces us to a friend but we ignore him or her, that friend does not feel well received.

Receiving is an art. It means allowing the other to become part of our lives. It means daring to become dependent on the other. It asks for the inner freedom to say: "Without you I wouldn't be who I am." Receiving with the heart is therefore a gesture of humility and love. So many people have been deeply hurt because their gifts were not well received. Let us be good receivers.

Weekly Reflection
On the Journey Toward Faithfulness
written by JAN DAVIS
Each December I receive in the mail a box of redbirds from Tom. There might be figurines, placemats, bookends, coffee mugs - all with emblems of redbirds. Tom collects redbirds all year long. Whenever he sees one, it is a reminder to him of a moment of grace in 1994 when he was touched by something I said. He attends to his inner voice of gratitude for my story of a redbird by returning faithfully to that memory and returning to me a gift of redbirds.

Remaining faithful to a memory may be very difficult. Because memories are so abstract, we often are seduced by a sense of false responsibility into thinking that by returning to them we are being faithful. Our walkabout life challenges us to be faithful to spouses, employers, political parties, and various commitments. I recently heard a prayer for "the grace to remain faithful so long as it is not harmful." How many people knowingly remain in abusive situations under the false guise of being faithful!

Being faithful doesn't have to be difficult or heroic. Rather, in silence and solitude we might simply remember that moment when we were first touched by God. Our deep yearning faithfully draws us back to that place where we were touched. But it is a tender place. In Henri Nouwen's secret journal, he invites us to awaken our dormant desire and open to the God who loves us with the first love, that which precedes all human love. Remember.

JAN DAVIS, D.Min, is an active contemplative who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She leads parish missions and spiritual retreats. She is a Benedictine Oblate and spiritual director. Jan is married, the mother of two sons, and grandmother of two grandsons.

The Almost Daily eMo


Perhaps I would dream of what to write about, I thought as I set up this eMo last night, to go out this morning. I have an early train to catch, and not much time for inspiration. And not much inspiration, even if I had the time. So I addressed it, typed "The Almost-Daily eMo from the Geranium Farm Copyright 2001-7 Barbara Crafton" into the subject line and typed in the title, "Wednesday in Holy Week." Then I waited a bit. Nothing. Then I went to bed.

To dream after dream of frustration: I was at a play, but was also supposed to be leading Evening Prayer at the convent -- something I never do, as sisters officiate, not guests. So I commuted back and forth between the chapel and the theater. I kept losing my prayer book, and trying to do it from memory, only to forget the prayers I have known since childhood. I kept finding prayer books, venturing once into the college chapel to borrow one, but they were all 1928s, with a set of color pictures in them where Evening Prayer used to be. There were seminary students in attendance, and one of them helped me out from time to time, while the others were dumbstruck at my utter lack of organization. There was a flying fish, orange in color, whose presence distracted everyone. Emily Mann directed the play and appeared afterward to greet audience members; she seemed unaware of the parallel Evening Prayer service failing all around her, but couldn't have been more gracious.

I awoke exhausted.

Things come apart. Your guides no longer guide you; even your strengths have grown weak. Your sleep does not refresh. Nothing you try works. Inexorably, the light fails.

But it never quite goes out. In the ancient liturgy of Tenebrae, often celebrated on this night, we begin with an abundance of candles. One by one they are extinguished, and the room grows darker and darker, until finally only one remains. Then even it is carried away, and we are in darkness. Then a loud noise -- an earthquake? the sound of resurrection? -- and the lone candle returns. There is just enough light to find our way out of the church.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -

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

Day Four - The Object, cont'd

When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of the Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AS I AM FULLY PRESENT to God, I become the kind of person who is wholly present to others. I can give no greater gift. When I am present I am considerate, giving undivided attention to the person’s words and feelings at the moment. People deeply need this gift of being appreciated and attended, especially in times of distress. The first task of ministry is to be present to people in their need.

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

From page 106 of Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God by J. David Muyskens. Copyright © 2006 by J. David Muyskens.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Father and Son"

Who is the Christ? First, most obviously he was a man. He was a man who walked the journey of faith, who grew, as Luke says, in wisdom and grace. It was he who returned to the desert to seek the will of his Father, to seek to hear what the Father was telling him, to seek to be true to himself and the word of the Father. Why did Jesus call God Father? My own opinion as to why he chose the masculine word (although he often uses feminine images) is that it is the harder and more necessary word to speak. Perhaps many more people have been wounded by the masculine. In Luke's Gospel every time Jesus prays (five times explicitly), his words are always preceded by "Abba," "Daddy." This brings out the beautiful relationship in which Jesus grows with his Father, of being the loving, trusting son. Three times at the end of the Gospel, in Gethsemane, and two times on the cross he calls out "Daddy!" Jesus seeks at all cost to be true to his Father, true to this relationship. Whenever he goes to the desert he returns to the city to preach the word with new power. What is this word? That the Father has absolute claim to our fidelity, our love and our life, that God's love is unconditional and forever.

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 value of reading

No one can understand holy scripture without constant reading, according to the words: Love her and she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will glorify you.

The more you devote yourself to a study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest.

Some people have great mental powers but cannot be bothered with reading; what reading could have taught them is devalued by their neglect. Others have a desire to know but are hampered by their slow mental processes; yet application to reading will teach them things which the clever fail to learn through laziness.

The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded; equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth.

Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. It makes a great noise outside but serves no inner purpose. But when God's grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, his word which has been received by the ear sinks deep into the heart.

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


"Behold, the hour cometh . . . that ye shall be scattered." John 16:32

Jesus is not rebuking the disciples, their faith was real, but it was disturbed; it was not at work in actual things. The disciples were scattered to their own interests, alive to interests that never were in Jesus Christ. After we have been perfectly related to God in sanctification, our faith has to be worked out in actualities. We shall be scattered, not into work, but into inner desolations and made to know what internal death to God's blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is not that we choose it, but that God engineers our circumstances so that we are brought there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is bolstered up by feelings and by blessings. When once we get there, no matter where God places us or what the inner desolations are, we can praise God that all is well. That is faith being worked out in actualities.

". . . and shall leave Me alone." Have we left Jesus alone by the scattering of His providence? Because we do not see God in our circumstances? Darkness comes by the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do as He likes with us - prepared to be separated from conscious blessings? Until Jesus Christ is Lord, we all have ends of our own to serve; our faith is real, but it is not permanent yet. God is never in a hurry; if we wait, we shall see that God is pointing out that we have not been interested in Himself but only in His blessings. The sense of God's blessing is elemental.

"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Spiritual grit is what we need.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.

In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).

In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.


Stereotypes come hard in the Benedictine tradition. Is this a spirituality that centers on prayer or work? Does it recommend fleeing the world or embracing it? Does it set out to create a world unto itself or to leaven the wider one? The difficulty with understanding Benedictine spirituality comes in reading some sections of the Rule without reading the entire document. The fact is that Benedictine spirituality is not based in dualism, in the notion that things of the world are bad for us and things of the spirit are good. We are not to pray too long but we are to pray always. Self-discipline is a given but wine and food and the creature comforts of a bed with bedding are also considered necessary. The Rule is for everyone, including the abbot or prioress, and yet everyone is a potential exception to it.

In this chapter on guests and hospitality, the wholism out of which it emerges is startlingly plain: This is a monastery and guests are to be received. As Christ. "Hospitality is one form of worship," the rabbis wrote. Benedictine spirituality takes it seriously. The welcome at the door is not only loving--a telephone operator at a jail can do that. It is total, as well. Both the community and the abbot receive the guest. The message to the stranger is clear: Come right in and disturb our perfect lives. You are the Christ for us today.

And to assure us all, guest and monastic alike, that this hospitality is an act of God which we are undertaking, the community and the guest pray together first and then extend the kiss of welcome so that it is understood that our welcome is not based on human measurements alone: we like you, we're impressed with you, you look like our kind, you're clean and scrubbed and minty-breathed and worthy of our attention.

Hospitality in a culture of violence and strangers and anonymity has become the art of making good connections at good cocktail parties. We don't talk in elevators, we don't know the security guard's name, we don't invite even the neighbors in to the sanctuary of our selves. Their children get sick and their parents die and all we do is watch the comings and goings from behind heavy blinds. Benedict wants us to let down the barriers of our hearts so that this generation does not miss accompanying the innocent to Calvary as the last one did. Benedict wants us to let down the barriers of our souls so that the God of the unexpected can come in.

"In India," Ram Dass writes, "when people meet and part they often say, 'Namaste,' which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us....'Namaste'." In Benedictine spirituality, too, hospitality is clearly meant to be more than an open door. It is an acknowledgement of the gifts the stranger brings. "By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration....Christ is to be adored and welcomed in them." But Benedictine hospitality is also a return of gifts. The stranger is shown both presence and service. After a trip through hard terrain and hot sun, the guest is given physical comfort and a good meal, spiritual instruction and human support. Not even a fast day is counted as important as eating with a guest. Not even asceticism is counted as holy as care for the other. Obviously, from the point of view of the Rule of Benedict, it isn't so much what we do for those curious others in our lives, the strange, the needy, the unscrubbed, as it is the way we do it. We can give people charity or we can give them attention. We can give them the necessities of life or we can give them its joys. Benedictine hospitality is the gift of one human being to another.

Benedictine hospitality is not simply bed and bath; it is home and family.

"It's a barren prayer," St. Cyprian wrote, "that does not go hand in hand with alms." For the Benedictine heart the reception of the poor is an essential part of going to God. We cannot be too busy, too professional, too removed from the world of the poor to receive the poor and sustain the poor. Anything else, Benedict warns in a society that is by nature class structured, is not hospitality. It is at best more protocol than piety. Those who can buy their comforts or demand their rights are simply receiving what they can get, with us or without us. Those who have been thrown upon the mercy of the world are the gauge of our open hearts.

It is an important distinction in a culture in which strangers are ignored and self-sufficiency is considered a sign of virtue and poverty is a synonym for failure. Hospitality for us may as much involve a change of attitudes and perspectives as it does a handout. To practice hospitality in our world, it may be necessary to evaluate all the laws and all the promotions and all the invitation lists of corporate and political society from the point of view of the people who never make the lists. Then hospitality may demand that we work to change things.

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

St. Leo the Great: Letter XXVIII (called the "Tome"): complete


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