Thursday, April 19, 2007

19/04/07 Thurs., week of 2nd Sunday in Easter


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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 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50
Dan. 2:31-49; 1 John 2:18-29; Luke 3:1-14


From Forward Day by Day:

1 John 2:18-29. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him.

I've been startled many times when an "unchurched" person behaves in a Christ-like manner. Why am I surprised? Whether or not we worship God we are all created in God's image.

It's easy to forget that in parts of the world Christianity is barely known. Millions of people follow Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or another faith. There are righteous souls, holy people, in every group. Think of Mahatma Gandhi. A life-long Hindu, he said he admired Jesus and might himself have become a Christian, "but I've known so few of them." Actually, he had known many who called themselves by the name. He was making a wry, terribly sad observation.

I have met faithful Jews who I would say are holy. I know an agnostic so rich in kindness that he often shames me. Yet our Bible contains verses that say we can only come to God through Jesus. True? If so, I don't understand how the Spirit within me can recognize the holiness in some non-Christians so powerfully. Nor do I expect to understand, until I am among the redeemed. This I do know: surely Jesus wants us to rejoice in righteousness--wherever we find it.

Today we remember:


Psalm 34:1-8 or 31:1-5; Revelation 7:13-17; Luke 12:4-12

O loving God, whose martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Newark (Prov. II, U.S.)

The Almost Daily eMo:


Transfixed as we still are by the massacre of 32 people at Virginia
Tech, we do not lose sight of the fact that there is more every day: 80
people perished in one car-bombing in Baghdad this morning, with dozens more wounded. Death came calling this week, close to home, but it's a regular visitor in a world at war.

These are the times to go deeper and deeper in prayer. So many people
are involved in so many ways, and there isn't one who is not a child of
God, not one to whom we are not called to join ourselves in prayer.

Because it can be so hard to pray for someone who wishes me harm, I have learned to allow God to give me that kind of prayer as the gift it can
only be. I don't have what it takes to pray for my enemy, one of the
many ways in which I can tell I'm not Jesus. That prayer must come to
me from God. I can only step back from the whirlpool of my horror and
fear and present the one for whom I cannot pray to God. I lack the
power to do more.

But I must do that much. Not for us, the prim refusal to engage the
enemy in prayer. It is not for us to turn away -- we only compound the
sum of the world's enmity if we do that. I can't let my pain and anger
keep me away, even if I know myself to be able to overcome it under my
own steam.

And so I speak the name of the one whose motives I cannot understand,
will never understand, the one whose sorrow is so enormous that my heart buckles under its weight. I only speak the name, and then I let God take it from there.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -
++++++++++ Reflections

Though we are always in the presence of God, it seems to me that the manner is different for those who practice prayer, for they are aware that he is looking at them.
St Teresa of Jesus
Book of Her Life, ch. 8

Reading from the Desert Christians

A brother went to Abba Matoes and said to him, 'How is it that the monks of Scetis did more thatn the Scriptures required in loving their enemies more than themselves?' Abba Matoes said to him, 'As for me I have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

6. He used to say, Despise not any man, and carp not at any thing; for thou wilt find that there is not a man that has not his hour, and not a thing that has not its place.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Freedom Attracts

When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.

Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.

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

Day Nineteen - The Third Way of Service - Work

Jesus took on himself the form of a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He went about doing good: healing the sick, preaching good news to the poor, and binding up the broken hearted.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

FOR MYSELF, the wonder of the Resurrection is not so much discovered in my shoulder-shrugging acknowledgment of the power of God to effect the impossible. It is discovered instead in our own capability, pried open by the sight of the empty tomb, to live into our most poignant longings, to dream our farthest dreams, and to hope with the full expansion of our hearts. We are met, at the far limits of our resources, with limitlessness. We are met at the gates of death with a freshness and fullness of life barely grasped by the wildest stretches of our imaginings.

- Wendy M. Wright
The Rising

From pages 117-118 of The Rising by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1994 by Wendy M. Wright.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"A Week of Easter Prayer: Help Us to Forgive Ourselves"

Lamb of God, we ask that we might be defense-free people, that we might be able to live a truly disarmed life, that we might be able to be secure enough in your love, Jesus to be insecure in this world, to let go, Lord. Heal us from the lie. Heal us from the doubt. Heal us from the darkness. Heal us form the untruth that controls us. Take us close to you today and teach us the truth. Accept our flaw, Lord, that we cannot accept. Heal our wound. Forgive that fatal flaw, Lord, that we cannot forgive. Help us to forgive ourselves. None of us has become who we thought we wanted to be. We thought our life was going to be so different. Our judgment is not greater than yours. Free us to forgive what you so readily forgive. What you have let go of, help us not to hold on to.

from The Price of Peoplehood

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

Woman were the first witnesses of the Lord's resurrection

As the Word of God through whom all things were made, what need had Christ to die? Is it not said of him: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made through him? He was mocked and crucified; his dead body was pierced with a lance and was buried. And yet all the while it was through him that everything was made.

But having, in his mercy, become the Church's head, there was reason in his dying. If she had not seen her head rise first, the Church might have despaired of resurrection for herself. So as the Church's head Christ rose from the dead, and allowed himself to be seen. Note that it was to women that, after he had risen, he made his earliest appearances, and that it was they who brought men the news of it. Women were the first witnesses of the Lord's resurrection, and it became their privilege to carry the good news to the apostles, whose task it would thereafter be to give it to the world. Women, then, brought them the glad tidings of the risen Christ. The word "gospel" means "good news." And what better news could we give you than that our Savior has risen from the dead?

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


"For Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom." 1 Kings 2:28

Joab stood the big test, he remained absolutely loyal and true to David and did not turn after the fascinating and ambitious Absalom, but yet towards the end of his life he turned after the craven Adonijah. Always remain alert to the fact that where one man has gone back is exactly where any one may go back (see 1 Cor. 10:13). You have gone through the big crisis, now be alert over the least things; take into calculation the "retired sphere of the leasts."

We are apt to say - "It is not in the least likely that having been through the supreme crisis, I shall turn now to the things of the world." Do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing that is the peril. In the aftermath of a great spiritual transaction the "retired sphere of the leasts" begins to tell; it is not dominant, but remember it is there, and if you are not warned, it will trip you up. You have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent. Do not be morbidly introspective, looking forward with dread, but keep alert; keep your memory bright before God. Unguarded strength is double weakness because that is where the "retired sphere of the leasts" saps. The Bible characters fell on their strong points, never on their weak ones.

"Kept by the power of God" - that is the only safety.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


IF the great Jew who led the English Tories understood patriotism (as I do not doubt that he did) it must have been a decidedly special and peculiar kind of patriotism, and it necessarily laid him open to the mistake about the relative positions of the terms Emperor and King. To him no doubt Emperor seemed obviously a higher title; just as Brother of the Sun and Moon would have seemed to him a higher title than Second Cousin of the Evening Star. Among Orientals all such titles are towering and hyperbolical. But of kingship as it has been felt among Christian men he had no notion, and small blame to him. He did not understand the domestic, popular, and priestly quality in the thing; the idea expressed in the odd old phrase of being the breath of his people's nostrils; the mystical life pumped through the lungs and framework of a state.

'Illustrated London News.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community

The juniors, therefore, should honor their seniors,
and the seniors love their juniors.

In the very manner of address,
let no one call another by the mere name;
but let the seniors call their juniors Brothers,
and the juniors call their seniors Fathers,
by which is conveyed the reverence due to a father.
But the Abbot,
since he is believed to represent Christ,
shall be called Lord and Abbot,
not for any pretensions of his own
but out of honor and love for Christ.
Let the Abbot himself reflect on this,
and show himself worthy of such an honor.

And wherever the brethren meet one another
the junior shall ask the senior for his blessing.
When a senior passes by,
a junior shall rise and give him a place to sit,
nor shall the junior presume to sit with him
unless his senior bid him,
that it may be as was written,
"In honor anticipating one another."

Boys, both small and adolescent,
shall keep strictly to their rank in oratory and at table.
But outside of that, wherever they may be,
let them be under supervision and discipline,
until they come to the age of discretion.


This paragraph is clearly about the place of respect, experience and wisdom in life. Obviously, the chapter on rank is not meant to grind the community down to its least common denominator. It is not meant to diminish in us the natural respect that differences should bring. Quite the opposite, in fact. This chapter is meant to freshen our eyes so that we can see all the gifts of the human community clearly: the gifts of old peasant farmers and the gifts of young artists, the gifts of young thinkers and the gifts of old keepers of the monastery door. Age, the Rule teaches, does not give us the right to dismiss the values of the young as if they were useless. Social class does not give us the right to overlook the insights of the poor. Education does not give us the right to snub the needs of the simple. We are to call one another by titles of love and respect. We are to care for the needs of the elderly, no matter our own needs or rank or station. We are to teach what we know so that the next generation grows in good air.

Once upon a time, the Zen masters teach, wealthy donors invited Master Ikkyu to a banquet. The Master arrived there dressed in beggar's robes. His host, not recognizing him in this garb, hustled him away: "We cannot have you here at the doorstep. We are expecting the famous Master Ikkyu any moment." The Master went home, changed into his ceremonial robe of purple brocade, and again presented himself at his host's doorstep where he was received with great respect and ushered into the banquet room. There, he took off his stiff robe, sat it upright at the dinner table and said, "I presume that it is my robe you have invited since when I first arrived without it a little while ago, you showed me away." In Benedictine spirituality reverence for the other based on the spark of the divine that is in us all is a gift to be given to a century alive with distinctions it will not admit and an insight into the sacred, scarred and bleeding, which it does not see.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Hieromartyr Paphnoutios of Jerusalem
7th Vigil of Pascha: Zephaniah 3:8-15 Apostle: Acts 4:23-31
Gospel: St. John 5:24-30

Waiting Upon the Lord: Zephaniah 3:8-15 LXX, especially vs. 8:
"Therefore wait upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day when I rise up
for a witness." The Prophet Zephaniah, a contemporary of Jeremiah, was
a fourth generation descendant of an earlier king of Judah. Like his
fellow Prophet of the seventh century BC, he saw gathering signs of
Divine judgment looming against the kingdom of Judah. His prophetic
declarations reveal the cause: "Her princes within her were as roaring
lions, her judges as the wolves of Arabia; they remained not till the
morrow. Her prophets are light and scornful men: her priests profane
the holy things, and sinfully transgress the law." (Zeph. 3:3-4 ). What
was God's word for these evils? "Therefore wait upon Me, saith the
Lord, until the day when I rise up for a witness" (vs. 8) - to expose
such evils.

The subsequent vision that the Lord gave Zephaniah revealed a day
when God would correct what was wrong among His People. That future day
of the Lord God's making would be notable in four ways: 1) it would be a
gathering of all nations (vss. 8,10); 2) God's People would be purified
(vs. 9); 3) only a remnant, "meek and lowly," would be left (vss.
12,13); and 4) the true "King of Israel" would dwell in the midst of His
renewed People. It is a portrait of the present age ushered in by
Christ's Resurrection, a day providing at least a foretaste of the great
Judgment Day when our victorious Lord Jesus shall return to complete His
work fully.

"My judgment shall be on the gatherings of the nations" (vs. 8). After
two millennia, we still are seeing nations in the process of being
gathered by the Lord. For example, in 1860 the newly ordained
Hieromonk, Nikolai, was assigned to serve as chaplain for the small
Russian consular community in Hakodate on the southern tip of the
northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. By 1875, the first Japanese were
ordained to the Holy Priesthood as a result of Father Nikolai's work.
By 1884, sixteen years after the first catechumens were baptized, the
Faithful in Japan had grown to 10,000. Twenty years later the number
was 29,000. Despite a war between Japan and Russia, converts joined the
Church at a rate of 1,000 a year. In 1879 Archimandrite Nikolai was
consecrated Bishop of Japan, then elevated to Archbishop in 1906,
celebrating fifty years of ministry in 1910. The Japanese Church
reached a membership of 40,000 just before he reposed in January of
1912. Examples of such growth are being repeated today in Indonesia,
India, Latin America, Africa - all across the globe nations still are
being gathered.

"For then will I turn to the peoples a tongue for her generation, that
all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him under one yoke" (vs.
9). As converts come into the Church, prayers are then offered up in
their languages, and despite many cultural divisions they serve "the
Lord with one accord" (vs. 9). The Lord's "dispersed ones" are bringing
Him their offerings (vs. 10). People by people, God is taking away
"their disdainful pride" (vs. 11).

"I will leave in thee a meek and lowly people" (vs. 12). Sadly, the
majority of ancient Israel did not accept the Lord Jesus as the Christ,
yet there were a few who sought refuge in the Name of the Lord, a
"remnant of Israel [did] fear the name of the Lord" (vs. 13). These
were transformed into Apostolic men and women, among whom "a deceitful
tongue [was not] found in their mouth," who fed many, so that none
terrified them (vs. 13), being in the Lord's keeping.

Beloved, let us recognize the vibrant Orthodox Church in the portrait
Zephaniah gave us over 600 years before the Lord Jesus' birth!
"Rejoice, O daughter of Zion; cry aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem" (vs.
14) before "the King of Israel" with no fear of "evil any more" (vs. 15).

"Thou didst come in to Thy Disciples, O Christ our God, Resurrection of
all, renewing in us through them an upright spirit, according to the
greatness of Thy mercy."

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