Friday, April 20, 2007

20/04/07 Fri, week of 2nd Sunday of 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 16, 17; PM Psalm 134, 135
Dan 3:1-18; 1 John 3:1-10; Luke 3:15-22

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 3:15-22. He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

John the Baptist was a compelling prophet. The Jews had been promised a messiah and were eager to have him appear, preferably with sufficient regiments to send their Roman overlords high-tailing it back to Rome. If this new fellow, John, wasn't the messiah, he was still worth hearing.

Great crowds came out to hear John and many stayed to be baptized. Temple leaders and the Pharisees were nervous. When the people stirred, there was always the chance the Romans would quiet them with mass executions or higher taxes, neither a happy choice. Partly because they were trying to be good leaders, and partly out of malice--hardly anyone was showing up to hear their own sermons anymore--they kept asking John: are you the messiah? Elijah? Explain yourself!

John knew the answer: I'm the opener, not the main act. He knew what he was supposed to do: tell everyone to repent, because the Messiah was headed their way. In modern language, John was focused. He wasn't about to waste time sparring with some self-important committee.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Newcastle (York, England)
++++++++++ Reflections

Prayer of a soul enkindled with love. My Way is the way of trust and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?' then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Levitas of Jabneh said, Be exceeding lowly of spirit, for the hope of man is the worm.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)
Healing Contradictions

The many contradictions in our lives - such as being home while feeling homeless, being busy while feeling bored, being popular while feeling lonely, being believers while feeling many doubts - can frustrate, irritate, and even discourage us. They make us feel that we are never fully present. Every door that opens for us makes us see how many more doors are closed.

But there is another response. These same contradictions can bring us into touch with a deeper longing, for the fulfillment of a desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy. Contradictions, thus understood, create the friction that can help us move toward God.

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

Day Twenty - The Third Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries endeavor to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service which we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

A LIFE OF GRATITUDE fosters a life of humility. Humility, rooted in gratitude, provides the soft heart in which God may form a new creation, ever new, changed from one glory into another glory.

- JoAnn Evans Miller
Alive Now magazine

From page 2 of Alive Now magazine, March/April 2007. Copyright © 2007 The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"A Week of Easter Prayers: We Want to Be Family"

Mother/Father God, teach us how to create family on earth. Teach us how to love one another as you have loved us, to lay down our lives so that the Church might be renewed. Lord, we want to love you and we want to love one another. We want to receive your life from one another. We want to enter into the great adventure that is before us. We want to be a part of what you are doing. But Lord, there's so little we understand. We know that all we can do, God, is try to love and try to live in faith. We ask for that grace and that gift for all those who hear these words. And we put our lives, our families and our Church in your hands. We give history back to you. May you be praised, Lord, God of the Ages, tonight and forever. Amen.

from The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

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

Love what is human

Iappeal to you by the mercy of God. This appeal is made by Paul, or rather, it is made by God through Paul, because of God's desire to be loved rather than feared, to be a father rather than a lord. God appeals to us in his mercy to avoid having to punish us in his severity.

Listen to the Lord's appeal. In me, I want you to see your own body, your members, your heart, your bones, your blood. You may fear what is divine, but why not love what is human? You may run away from me as the Lord, but why not run to me as your father? Perhaps you are filled with shame for causing my bitter passion. Do not be afraid. This cross inflicts a mortal injury, not on me, but on death. These nails no longer pain me, but only deepen your love for me. I do not cry out because of these wounds, but through them I draw you into my heart. My body was stretched on the cross as a symbol, not of how much I suffered, but of my all-embracing love. I count it no loss to shed my blood: it is the price I have paid for your ransom. Come, then, return to me and learn to know me as your father, who repays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds.

Peter Chrysologus, (400 - 450), bishop of Ravenna, was above all a pastor and preached many sermons to his people.

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


"For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen." 2 Corinthians 1:20

Jesus told the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25 as a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacity. This parable has not to do with natural gifts, but with the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Ghost. We must not measure our spiritual capacity by education or by intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured by the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, before long we will slander Him as the servant slandered his master: "You expect more than You give me power to do; You demand too much of me, I cannot stand true to You where I am placed." When it is a question of God's Almighty Spirit, never say "I can't." Never let the limitation of natural ability come in. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be manifested in us.

The servant justified himself in everything he did and condemned his lord on every point - "Your demand is out of all proportion to what you give." Have we been slandering God by daring to worry when He has said: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"? Worrying means exactly what this servant implied - "I know You mean to leave me in the lurch." The person who is lazy naturally is always captious - "I haven't had a decent chance," and the one who is lazy spiritually is captious with God. Lazy people always strike out on an independent line.

Never forget that our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the promises of God. Is God able to fulfil His promises? Our answer depends on whether we have received the Holy Spirit.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

'I KNOW of a magic wand, but it is a wand that only one or two may rightly use, and only seldom. It is a fairy wand of great fear, stronger than those who use it -- often frightful, often wicked to use. But whatever is touched with it is never again wholly common whatever is touched with it takes a magic from outside the world. It has made mean landscapes magnificent and hovels outlast cathedrals. The touch of it is the finger of a strange perfection.

'There it is!' -- he pointed to the floor where his sword lay flat and shining.

'The Napoleon of Notting Hill.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

In the constituting of an Abbess
let this plan always be followed,
that the office be conferred on the one who is chosen
either by the whole community unanimously in the fear of God
or else by a part of the community, however small,
if its counsel is more wholesome.

Merit of life and wisdom of doctrine
should determine the choice of the one to be constituted,
even if she be the last of the order of the community.

But if (which God forbid)
the whole community should agree to choose a person
who will acquiesce in their vices,
and if those vices somehow become known to the Bishop
to whose diocese the place belongs,
or to the Abbots, Abbesses or the faithful of the vicinity,
let them prevent the success of this conspiracy of the wicked,
and set a worthy steward over the house of God.
They may be sure
that they will receive a good reward for this action
if they do it with a pure intention and out of zeal for God;
as, on the contrary, they will sin if they fail to do it.


The way an abbot or prioress is chosen is, like most other things in the rule, left up to the changing needs of the group. Why an abbot or prioress is chosen is not. As far as the rule is concerned, only "those who show goodness of life and wisdom in teaching" are fit for the position. Fund raisers and business people, efficiency experts and pious ascetics, administrators and philosophers are not ruled out, they are simply not defined in as categories that demand consideration. The implication is that if we choose those good of life and wise of heart then everything else will follow. We, of course, are always tempted to look for short cuts to success: we look for the people who can trim our organizations or shape up our projects or stabilize our ministries. Benedictine spirituality cautions us always to follow only the good and the wise, only those who call us to our best selves, our fullest selves, knowing that if we live according to the scriptures and choose according to the deepest and highest and greatest of human ideals, then life cannot fail for us, whatever its struggles, whatever its cost. "If I do not acquire ideals in my youth, " Maimonides wrote, "when will I? Not in old age."

Benedictine spirituality tells us to choose for ideals at every turn, even at those times when management seems more important than vision.

There is no such thing as a private life in a globalized world. For a monastery, there never was. The monastery is that model of a place where the doors are always open, the environment is always gentle, the rhythm is always ordered and God is always the center of life. A monastery is to be a light to remind all of us how beautiful the world would be if we shaped our own lives out of the same values. A Benedictine monastery is not of the church in the sense that a diocesan seminary or diocesan college is. It is not built by the church or operated by local diocesan officials. But it is definitely in the church and for the church. What happens in a Benedictine monastery should touch the spiritual life of an entire region. For that reason, whatever might erode monastic life--a breakdown of lifestyle, a contrived election, a loss of authenticity--is definitely everybody else's business. And the Rule takes care to guarantee and to maintain that sense of public acknowledgement and accountability. "The voice of the people is as the voice of God," a Jewish midrash writes. In this paragraph, Benedict requires the people to be the voice of God so that the house of God can be saved. If the monastery calls the public to commitment, there is no doubt that Benedict intends the public to call monasteries to authenticity as well so that Benedictine spirituality can continue to permeate the Church. We are all guides for one another.

Friday, April 20, 2007 Christ is Risen! The Apostle Zaccheos,
Bishop of Caesarea
8th Vigil of Pascha: 3 Kings 17:8-24 Apostle: Acts 5:1-11 Gospel:
St. John 5:30-6:2

Looking for the Resurrection: 3 Kings 17:8-24 LXX, especially vs. 24:
"And the woman said to Elijah, Behold, I know that thou art a man of
God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.'" When Orthodox
Christians commit their lives in affirming the Nicene Creed, they say,
successively, "I believe in one God, the Father....And in one Lord Jesus the Holy One Holy Catholic and
Apostolic Church." Only after those avowals do we add, "I look for the
Resurrection of the dead...." What we Orthodox expect concerning
Resurrection depends on our prior commitment to God the Holy Trinity and
His Church. As with the widow of Zarephath, commitment to the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is tantamount to affirming that "the word
of the true" (vs. 24).

In taking the words of the Nicene Creed on our lips as a
life-declaration, we go beyond believing that there is a God to
believing in God Who made heaven and earth, Who became Incarnate for our
sake, and Whose Spirit is active within men and women in the Church.
The Church is not merely interesting; it is life and worship from which
we dare not withdraw.

To believe that God exists may be engaging; but to say that I believe in
God is quite another matter. To believe in is commitment of "ourselves,
each other, and all our life unto Christ our God." One makes the latter
sort of statement only when submitting himself wholly to Him in Whom he
believes. If he is prudent, then he submits only after careful
consideration, having good cause; but, above all, because he trusts. In
committing, we take the risk of being wrong as to our facts by believing
in God, for saying we believe in, we stake "our whole life."
After committing the fabric of our life "unto Christ our God," of course
we "look for the Resurrection of the dead." That is natural; it follows
as a consequence. Look at the experience of the widow of Zarephath.
She went outside the city gates to gather a little firewood to cook a
final meal. She would not need a great deal of wood, for her larder had
dwindled down to "a handful of meal in the pitcher, and a little oil in
a cruse" (vs. 12). She anticipated that after eating she would die of
the famine. Ah, but observe her: she had not lost her sense of
hospitality. Water she had, and to share with a thirsty stranger, and
this gift she set about to bring to Elijah (vs. 11).

Then, the Prophet Elijah challenged her with a tiny gospel of life
including assurance that she need not fear (vs. 13). He held out a fine
thread of hope for risking the tiny bit of food that remained to her and
her children: "The pitcher of meal shall not fail, and the cruse of oil
shall not diminish, until the day that the Lord gives rain upon the
earth" (vs. 14). Here is a first-hand example of belief in. "The woman
went and did so" (vs. 15). Faith is a gift and contagious.

God supplied abundant cause to strengthen faith in Himself. "She, and
he, and her children" ate for many days; "and the pitcher of meal failed
not, and the cruse of oil was not diminished" (vss. 15,16). Such is the
way the Lord works. We trust a little, and He supplies much -
sufficient cause to believe in Him. However, a shock came. Her son
died. What had gone wrong? Notice how death awakened her guilt and her
knowledge of her sin (vs. 18). To all this not even Elijah had an
answer; but he took the child, retreated to his room, and "cried aloud"
(vs. 20). Having committed his life to God, he did what he could - he
prayed (vss. 20-22).

Behold! The mother received her child back alive (vs. 23). Then she
affirmed her belief in God: "I know that thou art a man of God, and the
word of the Lord in thy mouth is true." (vs. 24). God, the life-Giver,
provides a wealth of causes to "look for the Resurrection!"

As Thou didst appear to Thy disciples, the doors being shut, O
Life-Giver, so lift the locks from the doors of our faithlessness that
we may shout, "Thou art our Lord and our God!"

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