Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter, 2007


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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 for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or this

O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord's resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or this

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24;
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25 ; 1 Corinthinas 15:19-26; or Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12

Easter Homily

by St. John Chrysostom

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world." Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

From Forward Day by Day:

Isaiah 51:9-11. So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing.

Shortly before Holy Week, a child asked me, "Why is there a cross?" When I hear a question like that, the hair on the back of my neck tends to rise. Was that a little girl's question, or a Holy Spirit question?

Possible things I could tell her, explanations, occurred to me. All of them rang true, but they also seemed either too complex or too simple. She stood there, waiting patiently; I had to say something. Finally, I surprised myself by answering, "Because, in Jesus' time, it was the worst thing that could happen to you." She nodded and went back to playing.

And then I saw in my mind's eye the shadow of a great cross, a cross so large that it spanned the clouds and the earth beneath. As I watched, slowly the cross was lowered like a great drawbridge, with beams of light from the heavenly side. Streams of people began walking across it, into the light.

When we see Jesus on the cross and cry out to him, "Lord, you bear the worst in my stead!" then the cross becomes the bridge where we daily step away from turmoil and fear; and walk, skip--leap!--into Love incarnate, into our own resurrection, because of his.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for resurrection and new life.
++++++++++ Reflections

The soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, I.1

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba James) said, 'Just as a lamp lights up a dark room, so the fear of God when it penetrates the heart of a man illuminates him, teaching him all the virtues and commandments of God.'

He also said, 'We do not need words only, for, at the present time, there are many words among men, but we need works, for this is what is required, not words which do not bear fruit.'

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Chalaftha of Kaphar-Chananiah said, When ten sit and are occupied in words of Thorah the Shekinah is among them, for it is said, God standeth in the CONGREGATION of the mighty (Ps. lxxxii. 1). And whence (is it proved of) even five? Because! it is said, He judgeth among gods. And whence even three? Because it is said, . . . and hath founded his TROOP in the earth (Amos ix. 6). And whence even two? Because it is said, Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another (§ 3). And whence even one? Because it is said, In all places where I record my name I will come unto THEE, and I will bless thee (Ex. xx. 24).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

From Blaming to Forgiving

Our most painful suffering often comes from those who love us and those we love. The relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, teachers and students, pastors and parishioners - these are where our deepest wounds occur. Even late in life, yes, even after those who wounded us have long since died, we might still need help to sort out what happened in these relationships.

The great temptation is to keep blaming those who were closest to us for our present, condition saying: "You made me who I am now, and I hate who I am." The great challenge is to acknowledge our hurts and claim our true selves as being more than the result of what other people do to us. Only when we can claim our God-made selves as the true source of our being will we be free to forgive those who have wounded us.

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

Members of the Third Order fight against all such injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfillment.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

RISEN LORD of Easter,
you have already conquered
everything I can ever fear.
Fill my entire being with joy.

- Alive Now

From page 60 of Alive Now, March/April 2007. Copyright © 2007 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Subversive, Risen Christ"

Jesus is among us now in a new way as the Risen Christ, the Christ who is everywhere, beyond all limits of space and time. On Good Friday we saw the relationship of all humanity to God: We kill what we should love. We're afraid of the gift that would free us. On Easter Sunday we celebrate Jesus coming back into a world that rejected him. If you have ever been rejected, you know how unlikely it is to come back into the midst of those who have said, We do not want you. Yet that's the eternal mystery we celebrate: God is always coming back into a world that for some unbelievable reason does not want God. It's almost impossible to believe that could be true. And yet Jesus, in his humility, finds ways to come back. Jesus knows we didn't like the first time what he had to say. We weren't ready for that much freedom of that much truth. Humankind can't bear that much reality or that much love in one moment of history. So God had to come back in a disguised form. God had to come back, as it were, secretly, as a subversive, hidden - the Risen Christ. Now he can be everywhere, but we can't capture him. We can't name him too precisely. He can always break through in new and unexpected ways. That's the Risen Christ the world is never ready for and never expects, and sadly, does not even want. That's the Christ who energizes his Church, the Christ forever beyond our control.

from For Teens on the Risen Christ


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

You became "Christs"

When you were baptized into Christ and clothed yourselves in him, you were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Having destined us to be his children by adoption, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and living as you do in communion with Christ, you yourselves are rightly called "Christs" or anointed ones. When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of you.

You became "Christs" when you received the sign of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, everything took place in you by means of images, because you yourselves are images of Christ. Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him, like resting upon like. So you also, after coming up from the sacred waters of baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach the good news to the poor.

Cyril of Jerusalem, (316 - 386), bishop of Jerusalem, has left us a precious legacy of twenty-four catechetical sermons.

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


"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" Luke 24:26

Our Lord's Cross is the gateway into His life: His Resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the Risen Lord His very life.

Our Lord's Resurrection destiny is to bring "many sons unto glory." The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We are never in the relationship to God that the Son of God is in; but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the efficacy of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. "I would know Him in the power of His resurrection."

"As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." "Holy Spirit" is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the Deity in proceeding power Who applies the Atonement to our experience. Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.

The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.

And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.


"The best way to know God," Vincent Van Gogh wrote, "is to love many things." Things do not destroy us. It is the way we approach things that entraps us. The Rule of Benedict provides for human needs without frugality, without abstemious control, without small-mindedness and without indulgence. False asceticism is not a Benedictine virtue. Deprivation is not a Benedictine ideal. On the contrary, the point of Benedictine life is to live simply, joyfully and fully. Benedict wants the monastic to have enough, to have it from the community and to avoid hoarding, accumulating, consuming and conniving. The Rule recognizes that people who lack the necessities of life often spend their time either consumed with thoughts of subsistence or struggling against bitterness and clawing for survival. On the other hand, people smothered by things run the risk of slipping into indolence or becoming blinded to the important things of life. In striking a balance between the two, Benedictine spirituality seeks to free the body so that the soul can soar. It is a gift long lost in a consumer society.

Self-control is one value in the lexicon of monastic spirituality but compassion is another. Benedict may expect simplicity from the monastic but he clearly expects great largesse from the abbot and the prioress. The function of authority, in other words, is to hold the Rule aloft in the community, to be clear about its standards and respectful of its values, without ever using the Rule as an excuse to frustrate people or irritate them or control them.

There is a great deal of pain administered in the interest of virtue. Righteousness allows no exceptions. As a result, laws meant to free the spirit so often enslave it to ideals far beneath its purpose. Benedictine spirituality, practiced in the little things of life like the distribution of clothing that calls for a minimum and then allows more, says that we must always grasp for what we cannot reach, knowing that the grasping itself is enough.

The Bright Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is Risen! Great and
Holy Pascha
1st Vespers Palm Sunday: Genesis 49:1-2, 8-12
Apostle: Acts 1:1-8 Gospel: St. John 1:1-17

The Lion of Judah: Genesis 49:1-2, 8-12, especially vs. 10 LXX: “A ruler
shall not fail from Judah, nor a prince from his loins, until there come
the things stored up for Him; and He is the expectation of nations.”
This Old Testament passage is one of three readings provided by the
Church for the Vespers of Palm Sunday. Its vision of the Lord Jesus as a
promised ruler for the People of God Who at the same time will be “the
expectation of nations” (vs. 10), makes this reading a worthy starting
point for meditating on the triumphant and victorious Risen Lord Jesus,
the King of Glory and Vanquisher of Death.

In His trampling down of death by death, the Lord Jesus already
fulfilled many of the words of this Genesis prophecy; for He “liest as a
lion, and as a whelp; who shall stir Him up?” (Gen. 49:9). The Apostle
answers: “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death,
even the death of the Cross” (Phil. 2:8); and “God also has highly
exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9). Recall the icon of the “Harrowing of Hell:”
the Victorious Christ stands astride the gates of Hades, death is bound
in chains under His feet as He raises Adam and Eve from their tombs,
bestowing life upon them. “Who dares rouse Him?” Death itself is cast down.

In the verses of this reading, we are looking at an extract from a
Genesis narrative that describes the final hours of the Patriarch Jacob
- who also is called Israel (Gen 47:27-50:14). As father of twelve sons
whose descendants would become the ancient nation of Israel, the dying
Patriarch calls his sons to him (Gen. 49:1, 2). From eldest to youngest,
in prophetic manner, Israel pronounces the destiny of the tribes that
will follow from these, his sons. When his prophecy reaches the fourth
son, Judah, it provides a glimpse, five-hundred years in the future, of
the first King of Judah, David the Prophet, whose brothers, in fact, did
praise him, whose hand was on the neck of his enemies, and whose
father’s sons did also “reverence” Him (Gen 49:8).

However, the Patriarch’s prophecy goes further. It describes the end of
the age when all nations will bow before the Lion of Judah and a
descendant of King David. This One will be known as the Lamb of God and
Root of David. He will be the victorious Lord of all history as well as
Divine Ruler. Christ Jesus alone will be worthy to open the seals of the
great scroll to usher in the Kingdom of God (Rev. 5:5-14). The Genesis
prophecy is appropriate to Him alone, for no monarch in all history ever
has claimed obedience from the peoples of all the nations of earth, nor
shall any until He comes Who is “the expectation of nations” (Gen. 49:10).

Let us not pass from this aspect of Israel’s vision, from the image of
Judah’s greatest King, and fail to unite it to St. Matthew’s account of
the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem. The old Patriarch’s words ring in
our ears: “Binding His foal to the vine, and the foal of His ass to the
branch of it” (vs.11). The Lord sent two of His disciples to loose
exactly these animals for Him, fulfilling both these words and those of
another Prophet: “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting
on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Mt. 21:5 from Zech. 9:9).

Having allowed the ancient People of God to behold the completed, dual
prophecy of their Forefather Israel and the Prophet Zechariah, Christ
brought yet other words of the Patriarch to culmination in a revelation
that the Church discerns. Filled by the Holy Spirit, the Cup of the New
Covenant proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes again (1 Cor. 11:26).
He has washed His robe in wine and “His garment in the blood of the
grape” (Gen. 49:11) - all for our salvation - sharing His Holy Chalice
of love with us which yields Life’s victory over death.

Lo, through the Cross is joy come into all the world. Ever blessing the
Lord, let us sing His Resurrection; for in that He endured the Cross for
us He hath destroyed death by death.

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