Thursday, April 12, 2007

12/04/07 Thursday 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.


Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 146, 147; PM Psalm 148, 149
Ezek. 37:1-14; Acts 3:11-26 or 1 Cor. 15:41-50; John 15:12-27

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 24:36b-48. Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I, myself...

Once when I was going through a dry spell in my prayers, as I do from time to time, I read by chance an interview with Mother Teresa. An interviewer asked her if Jesus was real to her in her prayers, if she felt close to him, felt her heart burn within. "Not for many years," she responded sadly. "How many years," her interviewer asked. "Not since I was a very young nun, in my twenties," Mother Teresa responded. "Not since then, have I felt the Lord's presence." At the time of the interview, she was an old woman.

What struck me was her faithfulness, despite the lack of feel-good feelings, of any great, hands-uplifted rejoicing. Her personal devotions had been dry for forty, perhaps fifty years. Yet every day she prayed, took communion, and adhered to the task of serving the poor.

As I grow older I have come to believe Jesus honored her more in withdrawing than he would have done had he spoken aloud to her every morning. Our Lord trusted Mother Teresa to tend the dirtiest, smelliest, most abject beggar as though she were tending his own wounds. "Look at my hands and my feet, see that it is I, myself..." Here lies the secret of her faithfulness.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nelson (Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia)
++++++++++ Reflections

There are times when we are wearied with travelling, and the Lord grants our faculties tranquillity and our soul quiet, and while they are in that state, He gives us a clear understanding of the nature of the gifts he bestows on those whom He brings to His kingdom.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way, 30.6

Reading from the Desert Christians

From Palistine, Abba Hilarion went to the mountain to abba Anthony. Abba Anthony said to him, 'You are welcome, torch which awakens the day.' Abba Hilarion said, 'Peace to you, pillar of light, giving light to the world.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. 'Aqibah said, Merriment, and lightness of disposition, accustom a man to lewdness. He used to say, Tradition is a fence to Thorah; tithes are a fence to wealth; vows a fence to sanctity; a fence to wisdom is silence.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Authority of Compassion

Mostly we think of people with great authority as higher up, far away, hard to reach. But spiritual authority comes from compassion and emerges from deep inner solidarity with those who are "subject" to authority. The one who is fully like us, who deeply understands our joys and pains or hopes and desires, and who is willing and able to walk with us, that is the one to whom we gladly give authority and whose "subjects" we are willing to be.

It is the compassionate authority that empowers, encourages, calls forth hidden gifts, and enables great things to happen. True spiritual authorities are located in the point of an upside-down triangle, supporting and holding into the light everyone they offer their leadership to.

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

Day Twelve - The Third Aim, cont'd

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependents. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus' challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

I DO NOT BELIEVE that … our inner wounds, once healed, will be forgotten and wasted. God’s spirit wastes nothing! We are told in the twentieth chapter of John that the risen Jesus showed Thomas and the other disciples his wounds. I used to wonder why those wounds remained on his risen body of light. Why weren’t those earthly marks of suffering swallowed up, forgotten, in glory? Was it so his friends could identify him? Partly. But I think there was a more important reason. I think all his friends through the ages to come were being shown that wounds, especially when healed, can become sources and signs of new radiance of life. No longer the sources of pain and despair, the wounds now healed can become the channels of healing for others.

- Flora Slosson Wuellner
Prayer, Stress and Our Inner Wounds

From page 17 of Prayer, Stress and Our Inner Wounds by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 1985 by Flora Slosson Wuellner.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Victory of Resurrection"

The voluntary self-gift of Jesus was his free acceptance of all creation - even in its weakness and imperfection. He chose to become brother to humanity, and by giving himself to God totally, he invites all of his brothers and sisters with him in that same relationship. Jesus thus proclaims and celebrates the universal Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. The raising up of Jesus is God's confirmation of his relationship. Jesus becomes our Promise, our Guarantee, our Victory! In the Resurrection Jesus passes from individual bodiliness to total presence. Matter has thus become spirit - which is boundless, limitless, shareable and communicable. "'As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.' After saying this he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:21-22). Thus the victory worked out in Jesus becomes power (the Spirit) whereby Jesus is universally available. Our opening to this love-power is faith. He died, and we arose! We cannot free ourselves. We can only be set free by the love of another. Jesus is totally set free only by the love of the Other! Amazingly, this faith-surrender does not destroy the self or individuality, but it actually creates it and recreates it. For the highest form of self-possession is the capacity to give oneself.

from unpublished sermon notes

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

Love your own humanity in Christ

If you understand the mystery of God's boundless love and kindness, says the apostle, and realize all that the Son of God has done for our salvation, then have among yourselves the same attitude as was found in Christ Jesus. Let not the rich despise Christ's self-abasement, nor those of noble birth count it a disgrace. No matter how exalted our worldly fortunes may be, we must never be ashamed of the fact that he who had always been God by nature did not consider it beneath his dignity to assume the nature of a slave.

Imitate what he did, love what he loved, and, in return for the grace of God which you find in yourselves, love your own humanity in him. He lost none of his wealth by becoming poor; his humiliation did not lessen his glory nor did he forfeit eternity by dying. You also then must walk in his footsteps and learn to despise the things of this world in order to lay hold of the treasures of the next. To take up the cross means to put our sinful desires to death, to slay our vices, to turn aside from empty pleasures, and to renounce every deviation from the truth.

Leo the Great, (400 - 461), bishop of Rome, left many letters and sermons to attest to his teaching and preaching.

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


"Death hath no more dominion over Him . . . in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." Romans 6:9-11

Co-Eternal Life. Eternal life was the life which Jesus Christ exhibited on the human plane, and it is the same life, not a copy of it, which is manifested in our mortal flesh when we are born of God. Eternal life is not a gift from God, eternal life is the gift of God. The energy and the power which was manifested in Jesus will be manifested in us by the sheer sovereign grace of God when once we have made the moral decision about sin.

"Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost" - not power as a gift from the Holy Ghost; the power is the Holy Ghost, not something which He imparts. The life that was in Jesus is made ours by means of His Cross when once we make the decision to be identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is because we will not decide definitely about sin. Immediately we do decide, the full life of God comes in. Jesus came to give us endless supplies of life: "that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Eternal Life has nothing to do with Time, it is the life which Jesus lived when He was down here. The only source of Life is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The weakest saint can experience the power of the Deity of the Son of God if once he is willing to "let go." Any strand of our own energy will blur the life of Jesus. We have to keep letting go, and slowly and surely the great full life of God will invade us in every part, and men will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

APRIL 12th

YOU cannot admire will in general, because the essence of will is that it is particular. A brilliant anarchist like Mr. John Davidson felt an irritation against ordinary morality, and therefore he invokes will -- will to anything. He only wants humanity to want something. But humanity does want something. It wants ordinary morality. He rebels against the law and tells us to will something or anything. But we have willed something. We have willed the law against which he rebels.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

When she is to be received
she promises before all in the oratory
fidelity to monastic life
and obedience.
This promise she shall make before God and His Saints,
so that if she should ever act otherwise,
she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.
Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document
in the name of the Saints whose relics are there
and of the Abbess who is present.
Let her write this document with her own hand;
or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request,
and let the novice put her mark to it.
Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar;
and when she has placed it there,
let the novice at once intone this verse:
"Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live:
and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118[119]:116).
Let the whole community answer this verse three times
and add the "Glory be to the Father."
Then let the novice prostrate herself at each one's feet,
that they may pray for her.
And from that day forward
let her be counted as one of the community.

If she has any property,
let her either give it beforehand to the poor
or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery,
reserving nothing at all for herself,
as indeed she knows that from that day forward
she will no longer have power even over her own body.
At once, therefore, in the oratory,
let her be divested of her own clothes which she is wearing
and dressed in the clothes of the monastery.
But let the clothes of which she was divested
be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there.
Then if she should ever listen to the persuasions of the devil
and decide to leave the monastery (which God forbid),
she may be divested of the monastic clothes and cast out.
Her document, however,
which the Abbess has taken from the altar,
shall not be returned to her, but shall be kept in the monastery.

Bright Thursday, April 12, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Basil the Confessor, Bishop of Parium
4th Vigil of Pascha: Jonah 1:1-17 Apostle: Acts 2:38:43
Gospel: St. John 3:1-15

Reluctant Prophet I: Jonah 1:1-17 LXX, especially vs. 3: "But Jonah rose
up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." God called the
Prophet Jonah to speak for Him during the reign of Jeroboam II, one of
the most powerful kings of the separated northern state of Israel
(793-753 BC). Scripture reports that Jeroboam "in war...recovered
Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel, " a considerable territory in
Syria, formerly a part of the kingdom of the monarch and Prophet, David
(4Kngs. 14:28 LXX). However, Jeroboam's restoration was not a matter of
chance, but "according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He
spoke by His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet of
Gath-hepher" (4 Kngs. 14:25 LXX).

Thus, the account in the Book of Jonah is a surprise, for it portrays
him as a reluctant Prophet. God directs him to, "Rise and go to Nineveh,
the great city, and preach in it" (Jon. 1:2), but he is loathe to
fulfill such a mission. He did not wish to see the Ninevites repent and
escape certain Divine judgment they deserved because of "wickedness"
(vs. 2). He struck upon a plan to flee "from the presence of the Lord"
(vs. 3, twice) and to go far away to Tarshish (in Spain).

Like so many today, the reluctant Prophet Jonah desperately sought every
way to escape from God. Oh, the devices we employ to avoid the Lord's
claim on our lives! They are many and varied: the pleasures of this
life; great, reasoned ideologies; inverted religions with designer gods
who assure us of a care-free life; amassing wealth; gaining power;
fulfilling every passion. Still, God's hand moves upon us, so the wise
man acknowledges with the Prophet David, "Whither shall I go from Thy
Spirit? And from Thy presence whither shall I flee? If I go up into
heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hades, Thou art present there"
(Ps. 138:6,7 LXX).

Poor Jonah would have done well to heed king David's humble admission:
"If I take up my wings toward the dawn, and make mine abode in the
uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy
right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 138:8,9 LXX). Along with Adam, it seems
that each of us, at one time or another, seeks to hide from God; but it
does not work, for "my bone is not hid from Thee, which Thou madest in
secret" (Ps. 138:14 LXX).

Truly, the prophecy of Jonah is more a testimony to the persistent will
of God than an account of a man seeking to escape the Lord and His
will. Faced with menacing waves and the plight of the innocent sailors
whom he had caught in the web of his personal fantasy of escape from
God, Jonah freely admitted that he was the cause of their problem.
Thus, "the men knew that he was fleeing from the face of the Lord,
because he had told them" (Jon. 1:10).

Note: the sailors were better prepared to admit the mercy and
forgiveness of God than was Jonah! He had fled from God in the first
place because he did not want to see God's mercy and forgiveness
extended to the Ninevites as a result of his preaching. The gracious
sailors, on the other hand, tried desperately to save Jonah by returning
"to the land, and were not able; for the sea rose and grew more and more
tempestuous against them" (vs. 13).

Finally, observe a man extricating himself from a web which he himself
had woven in his effort to flee from God. Although Jonah was the cause
of the problem, yet, as a Prophet, he also knew the solution: death to
one's self. He told the sailors frankly, "Take me up, and cast me into
the sea, and the sea shall be calm to you: for I know that for my sake
this great tempest is upon you" (vs. 12). Following his example, as
they cast him overboard, the sailors likewise submitted their lives to
God: "Forbid it, Lord...and bring not righteous blood upon us" (vs. 14).

In every hour of the day, reveal Thy will to me. Teach me to treat all
that comes to me throughout the day with the firm conviction that Thy
will governs all.

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Yellower than a yellow pencil, the forsythia is out and glorious. More and more people around here are having the sense to allow its branches to "fountain" gracefully, rather than attempting to trim it into awkward box shapes, so that a row of it looks like somebody parked a school bus in their front yard. Don't trim it; forsythia wants to branch.

So does buddleia, which you may know as "butterfly bush." It wants to grow tall and bend gracefully, swaying prettily in whatever wind happens by. You cut it down almost to the ground very early in the spring, and by July it's taller than you are and covered with butterflies and bumblebees. Sometimes Ethel the Hummingbird abandons her post in back and ventures into the front garden for a buddleia snack, of which she is quite fond.

The roses are leafing furiously, and I have pegged most of their branches, bending them almost to the ground and pinning them into that position, so that all along the arc of their branches new branches sprout, as sure as you're born.

Branching appears to be a process that thrives on stress: cut it to the ground, bend it double, and it'll put forth branches like nobody's business, just in case. Plants respect a fairly frontal relationship with people; you don't need to tiptoe. In fact, they do well if they suspect you of fell intent: This woman's trying to murder me, the plant thinks, I'd better put out a few extra branches just to be on the safe side.

This year I intend to feed the roses coffee grounds, cut-up banana peels and Epsom salts along with their compost, and see who salutes. That's not part of my Shock and Awe campaign; it is well known that roses genuinely like Epsom salts with banana peel.

Another year of watching and following their cues. Another season of mistakes and wisdom derived from them. The sooner it gets warm, the better, for both garden and gardener.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -


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