Saturday, April 21, 2007

21/04/07 Sat in the week of the 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 20, 21:1-7(8-14); PM Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117
Dan. 3:19-30; 1 John 3:11-18; Luke 4:1-13

From Forward Day by Day:

1 John 3:11-18. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

I met a family that adopted two boys stranded in the U.S. when war destroyed their home--an orphanage in Liberia. When they took in the teens, the younger of their two sons had just left for college. The mom was planning to go back to school herself when she heard the boys' plight and told her husband. They had not planned to adopt, but "our life is so easy and we have so much," he said. "We knew God meant these boys to be ours."

The new sons had been in their new home a few months when the couple discovered each had siblings living in the shell of an orphanage, still at risk, and often eating one meal a day. So they took in those children as well. In less than two years, they had gone from being a two-child, empty nest family, to a family with eight children. The noise and the joy have gone up in the same proportions! I've always been half-worried and half-hopeful that God might call me to something equally giving and heroic. I started to write "it hasnt happened so far." But now I wonder: has the call come, and I was too busy to hear it?

Today we remember:

Psalm 139:1-9 or 37:3-6,32-33
Romans 5:1-11; Matthew 11:25-30

Almighty God, who raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia)
++++++++++ Reflections

Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of Abba Silvanus that at Scetis he had a dijsciple called Mark whose obedience was great. He was a scribe. The old man loved him because of his obedience. He had eleven other disciples who were hurt because he loved him more than them. When they knew this, the elders were sorry about it and they came one day to him to reproach him about it. Taking them with him, he went to knock at each cell, saying, 'Brother so and so, come here; I need you,' but none of them came immediately. Coming to Mark's cell, he knocked and said, 'Mark.' Hearing the old man's voice, he jumped up immediately and the old man sent him off to serve and said to the elders, 'Fathers, where are the other brothers?' Then he went into Mark's cell and picked up his book and noticed that he had begun to write the letter 'omega' ["w"] but when he had heard the old man, he had not finished writing it. Then the elders said, 'Truly, abba, he whom you love, we love too and God loves him.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Jochanan ben Baroqah said, Whoso profanes the name of Heaven in secret, they punish him openly. The erring is as the presumptuous, in profanation of the NAME.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Ordering Our Desires

Desire is often talked about as something we ought to overcome. Still, being is desiring: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are full of desires. Some are unruly, turbulent, and very distracting; some make us think deep thoughts and see great visions; some teach us how to love; and some keep us searching for God. Our desire for God is the desire that should guide all other desires. Otherwise our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls become one another's enemies and our inner lives become chaotic, leading us to despair and self-destruction.

Spiritual disciplines are not ways to eradicate all our desires but ways to order them so that they can serve one another and together serve God.

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

Day Twenty One - The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes which mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them, all that it attempts will be in vain.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

GIVE US, O Lord, a vision of your presence;
help us to know you are near at hand,
you are not far off
and you are ready to hear our prayer.
May we become aware of your protection;
May we know that you rescue us from darkness
and guide us into the way of light and peace;
For you are a loving and redeeming God, mighty in Power.

- David Adam
Forward to Freedom

From page 116 of Forward to Freedom by David Adam. Copyright © 2001 by David Adam.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"A Week of Easter Prayers: Francis, Teach Us How to Be Poor"

Creator God, give us ears, make us rich soil like the rich soil in the Gospel parable of the seeds. Fill us with life so that we can receive the words of life that you offer. We thank you for loving us and for leading us to this moment of life. This day, allow us to hear anew. Allow us to receive afresh. Allow us to become all that you want us to become, for your sake, for the coming of the Kingdom. St. Francis, teach us how to be poor. We don't know how - we're rich Americans. We've had everything. We don't know how to live without. We don't know how to trust God the way you did. We don't know how to let people call us names. We want to be loved and be popular. Little Francis, teach us how to be little. Renew our Church. Renew the Franciscans. Renew our world in the love of Jesus. Give us hearts on fire for Jesus so we can look and see nothing else but only the Lord. We ask for all of these good things, together with Francis, and in Jesus' name.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction and On Pilgrimage With Father Richard Rohr

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

May I find my joy in you

Lord, inaccessible light is your dwelling place, for no one apart from you can enter into it and fully comprehend you. If I fail to see this light it is simply because it is too bright for me. Still, it is by this light that I do see all that I can, even as weak eyes, unable to look straight at the sun, see all that they can by the sun's light.

The light in which you dwell, Lord, is beyond my understanding. It is so brilliant that I cannot bear it, I cannot turn my mind's eye toward it for any length of time. I am dazzled by its brightness, amazed by its grandeur, overwhelmed by its immensity, bewildered by its abundance.

O supreme and inaccessible light, O complete and blessed truth, how far you are from me, even though I am so near to you! How remote you are from my sight, even though I am present to yours! You are everywhere in your entirety, and yet I do not see you; in you I move and have my being, and yet I cannot approach you; you are within me and around me, and yet I do not perceive you.

Anselm of Canterbury,(1033 - 1109), archbishop of Canterbury, made an outstanding contribution to the speculative thought of his day.

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


"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?" John 14:9

Our Lord must be repeatedly astounded at us - astounded at how un-simple we are. It is opinions of our own which make us stupid, when we are simple we are never stupid, we discern all the time. Philip expected the revelation of a tremendous mystery, but not in the One Whom he knew. The mystery of God is not in what is going to be, it is now; we look for it presently, in some cataclysmic event. We have no reluctance in obeying Jesus, but it is probable that we are hurting Him by the questions we ask. "Lord, show us the Father." His answer comes straight back - "There He is, always here or nowhere." We look for God to manifest Himself to His children: God only manifests Himself in His children. Other people see the manifestation, the child of God does not. We want to be conscious of God; we cannot be conscious of our consciousness and remain sane. If we are asking God to give us experiences, or if conscious experience is in the road, we hurt the Lord. The very questions we ask hurt Jesus because they are not the questions of a child.

"Let not your heart be troubled" - then am I hurting Jesus by allowing my heart to be troubled? If I believe the character of Jesus, am I living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to perturb my heart, any morbid questions to come in? I have to get to the implicit relationship that takes everything as it comes from Him. God never guides presently, but always now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the emancipation is immediate.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THERE are many definite methods, honest and dishonest, which make men rich; the only 'instinct' I know of which does it is that instinct which theological Christianity crudely describes as 'the sin of avarice.'

'All Things Considered.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

Once she has been constituted,
let the Abbess always bear in mind
what a burden she has undertaken
and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
than to preside over them.
She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
that she may have a treasure of knowledge
from which to bring forth new things and old.
She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
that she herself may obtain mercy.
She should hate vices;
she should love the sisterhood.

In administering correction
she should act prudently and not go to excess,
lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
she break the vessel.
Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
on the contrary, as we have already said,
she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
in the way which may seem best in each case.
Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.

Let her not be excitable and worried,
nor exacting and headstrong,
nor jealous and over-suspicious;
for then she is never at rest.

In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
and whether the work which she enjoins
concerns God or the world,
let her be discreet and moderate,
bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
"If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
they will all die in one day."
Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
the mother of virtues,
let her so temper all things
that the strong may have something to strive after,
and the weak may not fall back in dismay.

And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
so that after a good ministry
she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
"Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt. 24:27).


At the end of an entire series of injunctions and prescriptions, Benedict suddenly reintroduces a description of the kind of abbot or prioress whom he believes should guide a Benedictine community. He is, in other words, giving us a theology of authority or parenting or leadership. The Talmud reads "Happy is the time where the great listen to the small, for in such a generation the small will listen to the great." In the Rule of Benedict the prioress and abbot are told to display the good like a blazing fire but always to "let mercy triumph over judgment" and to "strive to be loved rather than feared." Authority in Benedictine spirituality is not an end in itself nor is it an excuse to oppress the people for whom all law is made. Law is simply a candle on the path of life to lead us to the good we seek. Any authority that makes the law the end rather than the path are themselves worshipping at a lesser shrine.

In the midrash Genesis Rabbah it reads: "A farmer puts a yoke on his strong ox, not on his weak one." The function of Benedictine leadership is not to make life difficult; it is to make life possible for both the strong and the weak. If a leader gives way to moodiness or institutional paranoia, if a leader is not emotionally balanced and spiritually grounded, a whole climate is poisoned. This chapter on the abbot or prioress is an important signal for parents and teachers and superiors everywhere: what we cannot model, we cannot expect, not of children, not of the professionals who work for us, not even of the people who love us enough to marry us. The people around us can only take our emotional battering so long. Then they leave or rebel or batter back. Benedictine leadership models a guidance that is firm but loving; clear but understanding; just but merciful; itself authentically committed to its own principles for, indeed, the rabbis also teach, "A little sin is big when a big person commits it."

In ancient civilizations, the law was the lawgiver's law. Subjects had no rights, only responsibilities. The lawgiver could change the law on a whim or a fancy. In the Roman empire, the pater familia, the Roman father, could do no wrong in his own home. No court of law would try him, no one would convict him. He himself according to the principles of Roman jurisprudence was judge and jury, king and lawgiver. In a climate and culture such as this, the chapter on the abbot or prioress, and this paragraph in particular, are extremely revolutionary. This section issues a clear warning: authority has limits; authority is not a law unto itself; authority is responsible to the persons under it for their welfare and their growth; authority itself is under the law. It is a theology such as this that makes people free and keeps people free because the knee we bow to government must really be bowed only to God.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 Christ is Risen! Hieromartyr
Januarios of Benevento
9th Vigil of Pascha: Isaiah 61:10-62:5 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 6:14-27

The Bride Awaits: Isaiah 61:10-62:5 LXX, especially vs. 62:5: "And it
shall come to pass that as a bridegroom will rejoice over a bride, so
will the Lord rejoice over you." Our Orthodox Great and Holy Week
services are filled with anticipation. Expectancy is encouraged in two
ways. First, the services occur in advance of their normal order.
Hence, at each evening of Great and Holy Week, the next morning's office
is offered in anticipation, i.e., the usual morning services are
celebrated the evening before. For example, on Great and Holy Saturday,
Great Vespers, which usually would be sung at sunset, is offered in the
morning at a Divine Liturgy.

Second, the language of the Holy Week services anticipates the coming
Paschal celebration, so that mention of the Resurrection occurs
repeatedly in the hymns, the Scriptural readings, and in the attendant
liturgical texts. For example, as far back as Lazarus Saturday, such
language appeared in the Ninth Ode of the Canon at Orthros: "When Thou
wentest before, O my Savior, and verified Thy glorious Resurrection,
Thou didst deliver Lazarus from hades."

Anticipatory mention of what is coming permeates every one of those
solemn, holy days. Thus, during Sixth Hour on Great and Holy Friday,
just before the Suffering Servant passage is read - that glorious "Fifth
Gospel" (Is. 52:13-54:1) - one hears: "And as our Savior was suffering,
He cried, saying, Father, forgive them this sin, that the Gentiles may
know My Resurrection from the dead." The present reading from Isaiah,
as the 9th Vigil reading for Pascha also yearns "to enter fully into
that which is certain to come." Isaiah's Prophecy is a Resurrection

The message of joy and salvation bursts forth in verses 61:10 and 11.
Observe that even the grammar contributes: the lines are present tense,
and speak of the Resurrection in poetic images out of due time (1 Cor.
15:8). What would be true when the Lord rose from the dead, the Prophet
describes prophetically as present and fulfilled centuries before.
Already, Isaiah says, I am clothed "with the robe of salvation" and
adorned "with ornaments as a bride" (vs. 10). Careful reading discloses
that Isaiah is not speaking of himself, but has become the voice of the
future and joyful Church gathered around her risen Lord. For out of His
Church, the Resurrected Lord has caused "righteousness to spring forth,
and exultation before all nations" (vs. 61:11).

As the prophecy continues, the triumphant Lord Christ affirms His
People's acclamations. "Not holding His peace," He asserts that, for
the sake of the Church, He shall not rest "until her righteousness go
forth as light and My salvation burns as a torch" (vs. 1). All of the
Lord's subsequent remarks are then directed to His Church - in verses

Beloved of the Lord, as the Church, we live, like Isaiah, both in time
and beyond time. So we mourn at Christ's death and burial, yet beyond
the strictures of time, we rejoice for He is risen. The Gentiles - the
multitude of the world's nations who are not in the Church - shall one
day see righteousness in the Church, for righteousness is the heritage
of all men in Christ. Thus, the People of God has a new name. We are
no longer only called "Israel and Jerusalem," but the Holy Church, the
Body of Christ, God's People gathered to Her Lord (vs. 2). Isaiah
speaks of our royalty in Christ calling us "a royal diadem in the hand
of...God" (vs. 3), thereby anticipating what the Apostles taught - that
we are "a royal priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:9). The Bridegroom to Whom we
sing joins us in this Pascha to rejoice over us (vs. 5). We shall no
more be Forsaken and a Desert, but rather, His Pleasure and His
Inhabited Land (vs. 4).

The King of the ages, having fulfilled the mystery of the Passion, hath
rested, keeping the Sabbath in the tomb. Let us hail Him: Arise, O God
and Judge the earth; for Thou dost reign for evermore, O Thou Who
possesseth the countless and Great Mercy.


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