Tuesday, April 10, 2007

10/04/07 Tuesday in Easter Week


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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, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 103; PM Psalm 111, 114
Isa. 30:18-21; Acts 2:26-41(42-47) or 1 Cor. 15:12-28; John 14:15-31

The proofs of eternal rebirth are everywhere. Spring comes every year. Dawn comes every morning. Love happens out of hate. Birth absorbs the pain of death. And people everywhere look to Nirvana, to enlightenment, to reincarnation, to resurrection in the hope of eternal renewal. To the Christian, both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus we see as proof of God’s will for the world, and in the Paschal Mystery the demonstration of the cycle of struggle.

It is true that Jesus who lives in us died but did not die. But just as true is the fact that we have all known resurrection in our own lives as well. We have been crucified, each of us, one way or another, and been raised up again. What had been bad for us at the time, we now see, was in the end an invitation to rise to new life. The invitation was to a road, we now admit, which we would never have taken ourselves if we had not been forced to travel it. Looking back we know now that this hard road was really the journey that brought us at least one step closer to wholeness in a world in which wholeness can never exist. It may be because we lust after some kind of mythical wholeness that we fail to see the life-giving truths that come to us one byway, one fragment at a time.

Life is not one road. It is many roads, the walking of which provides the raw material out of which we find hope in the midst of despair. Every dimension of the process of struggle is a call to draw from a well of new understandings. It is in these understandings that hope dwells. It is that wisdom that carries us beyond the dark night of struggle to the dawn of new wisdom and new strength.

–Joan D. Chittister
excerpt, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope (Eerdmans)

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 2:36-41. Peter said Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah...

Today's sunset marks the end of the eight-day Passover celebration for our Jewish brethren. Because our Lord was a Jew and was celebrating the Seder feast with his disciples the night he was handed over to die, Passover and Easter are forever linked. I married into a religiously mixed family, so I've gone back and forth between the Passover celebration and those of Holy Week and Easter. From the very first, it felt natural. The reading of the Haggadah, the story of how God chose the Jewish people for his own and took them out of bondage in Egypt, has come to mean as much to me as Easter. God commanded the Jews to celebrate the Passover, and to tell their children the freedom story as if they themselves were spared the plagues God sent on Egypt; as if they were fed manna; as if they passed through the Red Sea. The story has an immediacy, and so does the praise of the Eternal One, the deliverer. As the chanting, prayers, and singing echo around the Seder table, I always give thanks for the "people of the book." I have never understood how any Christian could love Jesus and not his people. For truly the Jews are God's own, clinging to him for nearly 4,000 years. One day, our prophecies say, we shall all cry "Holy!" together.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nebbi (Uganda)
++++++++++ Reflections

A novice was grieving about her numerous distractions during prayer: "I too, have many," replied St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "but I accept all for love of the good God, even the most extravagant thoughts that come into my head."
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

(Abba Isidore the priest) said, 'If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride, but if you think hightly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and to glorify himself.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Jacob said, He who is walking by the way and studying, and breaks off his study (Mishnah) and says, How fine is this tree! how fine is that tree! and how fine is this fallow? they account it to him as if he were "guilty of death."

R. Dosithai, son of R. Jannai, said in the name of R. Meir, When a scholar of the wise sits and studies, and has forgotten a word of his Mishnah, they account it unto him as if he were "guilty of death," for it is said, Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the words which thine eyes have seen (Deut. iv. 9). Perhaps his Mishnah has but grown hard to him? What need then to say, "And lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life"? Lo! he is not guilty, till he has sat down and suffered them to depart from his mind.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Loving Our Spiritual Leaders

Religious leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams can be admired and revered but also hated and despised. We expect that our religious leaders will bring us closer to God through their prayers, teaching, and guidance. Therefore, we watch their behavior carefully and listen critically to their words. But precisely because we expect, often without fully realising it, to be superhuman, we are easily disappointed or even feel betrayed when they prove to be just as human as we are. Thus, our unmitigated admiration quickly turns into unrestrained anger.

Let's try to love our religious leaders, forgive them their faults, and see them as brothers and sisters. Then we will enable them, in their brokenness, to lead us closer to the heart of God.

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

Day Ten - The Third Aim

To live simply

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

I open the gates
of my heart to you.
Enter here.
Fill me with thanksgiving.
Hear my songs of praise.

- Alive Now

From page 59 of Alive Now, March/April 2007. Copyright © 2007 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Risen Jesus: The Future Shock of God"

Except for the raising of Jesus, "there is nothing new under the sun." All is the eternal return, cyclic history; everything bears the seeds of its own destruction. All the great moments of history are as nothing before the moment of Christ's resurrection: All else is hopeless, absurd and driving toward death. As St. Paul wrote, "And if he is still dead, then all our preaching is useless and your trust in God is empty, worthless and without hope" (1 Corinthians 15:14). In the risen Jesus, God reveals the final state of reality. God forbids us to accept it "as-it-is" in favor of "what-God's-love-can-make-it": To believe means to cross and transcend boundaries. Because of Jesus we realistically can have a passion for the possible. The risen Jesus reveals the true meaning of this world: paradise regained. The Resurrection is heaven - here, now - created by the risen Christ. He is not rising up to some preexistent place, but he is defining himself the longings of every human heart - a real sharing of life between the human and the Divine (see Revelation 21:1-7). We should not speak of survival or immortality but Resurrection, a new creation!

from unpublished sermon notes

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

Walk toward Christ

Such is the power of baptism: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead. You have been buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that, as Christ has risen from the dead, you also may walk in newness of life.

You are walking now by faith, still on pilgrimage in a mortal body away from the Lord; but he to whom your steps are directed is himself the sure and certain way for you: Jesus Christ, who for our sake became man. For all who fear him he has stored up abundant happiness, which he will reveal to those who hope in him, bringing it to completion when we have attained the reality which even now we possess in hope.

And so your own hope of resurrection, though not yet realized, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit. If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Augustine of Hippo, (354 - 430), bishop of Hippo, became the most influential person of the Western Church and left many writings to posterity.

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


"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Romans 6:6

Co-Crucifixion. Have I made this decision about sin - that it must be killed right out in me? It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is to come to the decision which Paul forces here.

Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, make the moral decision and say - "Lord, identify me with Thy death until I know that sin is dead in me." Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

It was not a divine anticipation on the part of Paul, but a very radical and definite experience. Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is - the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me? Then if so, will I agree with God's verdict on that disposition of sin - that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? I cannot reckon myself "dead indeed unto sin" unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God.

Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood? "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict
Chapter 57: On the Artisans of the Monastery

If there are artisans in the monastery,
let them practice their crafts with all humility,
provided the Abbot has given permission.
But if any one of them becomes conceited
over his skill in his craft,
because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery,
let him be taken from his craft
and no longer exercise it unless,
after he has humbled himself,
the Abbot again gives him permission.

If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold,
those responsible for the sale
must not dare to practice any fraud.
Let them always remember Ananias and Saphira,
who incurred bodily death (Acts 5:1-11),
lest they and all who perpetrate fraud
in monastery affairs
suffer spiritual death.
And in the prices let not the sin of avarice creep in,
but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper
than they can be sold by people in the world,
"that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Peter 4:11).


There are three major points made in the chapter on the artists of the monastery: first, that there may be artists in a monastery; second, that they must themselves be humble about it; and third, that an art is not to be practiced for the sake of money. All three points have a great deal to do with the way we look at religious dedication, personal development and contemporary society in the development of spiritual life today.

The points made in the Rule are relatively plain: The development of the spiritual life does not depend on the suppression of beauty or the destruction of the self. The gifts we have been given are for the doing of them, not the denial of them. We do not smother great gifts in the name of great spirituality. The painter, the writer, the musician, the inventor, the scholar, all have to figure out how to put their gifts at the disposal of their spiritual life, not how to build a spiritual life at the expense of the gift.

The unusually gifted person or the person with the unusual gift, however, is also required to see that their giftedness does not get in the way of their striving for sanctity. No gift is given to tyrannize the community. On the contrary, we are expected to learn to take our gifts in stride, to practice them because they deserve to be practiced and because the community can profit from them. Aristotle wrote: "The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." Any great gift is a revelation of the more in life, a natural expression of the spiritual, a necessary expression of the sacred. To stamp out the artist in the name of religious rigor is to stamp out the spiritual eye itself and that kind of blindness plunges any group, any family, any person into darkness indeed. Without the artist to show us what we ourselves do not see of the beauty of the world around us, we lose sight of the beauty of God as well. Benedictine spirituality never substitutes conformity in discipline for fullness of expression in life. The function of the artist in the monastery--and in the life of us all--is to make the transcendent visible; to touch the soul in ways that match the soul; to enshrine beauty so that we may learn to see it; and to make where we live places of wonder.

Bright Tuesday, April 10, 2007 Christ is Risen! Holy Martyrs of
Kvabtakhevi Monastery
2nd Vigil of Pascha: Isaiah 60:1-16 Epistle: Acts 2:14-21
Gospel: St. Luke 24:12-35

Shine, New Jerusalem: Isaiah 60:1-16 LXX, especially vs. 1: "...for your
light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." Since
ancient times, this passage from Isaiah has served as the second in a
series of fifteen lessons read at the night-long Paschal Vigil that
begins with Great Vespers on Great and Holy Saturday. Today, in
monasteries where the whole Vigil still is served, this passage
certainly is read. Anciently, the administration of the Baptismal
Mystery to the Catechumens also took place during the Vigil, with all
rites concluding early on Great and Holy Pascha morning, the entire
Church celebrating the glorious Resurrection Divine Liturgy.

Often today, in our parish churches, this lesson is not selected to be
read at the Great and Holy Saturday morning Vesperal Liturgy of St.
Basil. Despite its omission, its words may well sound familiar to the
Faithful because of the Ninth Ode of the Paschal Canon; for this very
passage inspired St. John of Damaskos when he composed the Paschal Canon.

An excellent summary of the content of Isaiah's vision is provided by
Theodoret of Cyrus: "The prediction simultaneously comprises three
subjects: it prophesies, as in outline, the reconstruction of Jerusalem
which took place under Cyrus and under Darius [589-456 BC]; then as in a
painting"enhanced by a great many colors, "it also shows the more exact
contours of the truth, the splendor of the holy Church; yet it likewise
conveys even the original of the painting in advance, that is to say the
future life and the celestial city."

Let us focus on what the prophecy reveals about the Church as she
manifests through the Faithful the realities that are to come (Heb.
10:1): the Church stands 1) as Light in darkness, 2) as the gathering of
God's scattered children, 3) as the repository of the spiritual wealth
of the nations, 4) as the People who offer acceptable sacrifices, 5) as
the recipient of the promises made to ancient Israel, 6) as the true
Zion, and 7) as the community filled with perpetual gladness.

Because the Light has come to the Church, she uniquely reveals His glory
shining upon her amidst the darkness of disbelief, confusion, and sin
that covers the earth, which enables world leaders and nations who
receive illumination to walk in Light and brightness (Is. 60:1-3).

Beloved of the Lord, let us lift up our eyes and behold all the children
of God now being gathered from more and more nations where Orthodoxy
never has been known before (vs. 4).

What great spiritual treasures have come into the Church over the
centuries and continue to flow into her as a repository and beacon of
Truth (vss. 5-6)!

Why this influx of people and spiritual treasures? Is it not so that
"acceptable sacrifices shall be offered on [the Lord's] altar, and [His]
house of prayer shall be glorified" (vs. 7), and that "the Holy One of
Israel [be] glorified" (vs. 9)?

God's People have experienced both His wrath and His mercy over the
centuries (vs. 10). Despite all, the Church's gates have remained open
to all peoples (vs. 11), the kings of many nations have served the Lord
(vs. 11), governments that have refused the Lord have perished (vs. 12),
and "the sons of them that afflicted [the Church]....have come to [her]
in fear" (vs. 14).

Today, the Church is called "Zion," as in the Ninth Ode of the Paschal
Canon (vs. 14). On earth, she literally is "the city of the Holy One of
Israel" (vs. 14).

Though the Church in time imperfectly exhibits the transforming power of
the Light Who abides in her, still she is a true source of "perpetual
gladness" (vs. 15) to the Faithful, to those who "know that [He] is the
Lord that saves...and delivers...the Holy One of Israel" (vs. 16).

Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and leap for joy, in that thou beholdest Christ
the King like a bridegroom come forth from the grave.

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