Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday, 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, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 95** & 88; PM Psalm 27
Job 19:21-27a; Heb. 4:1-16**; Rom. 8:1-11***

* For the Invitatory
** Intended for use in the morning
*** Intended for use in the evening

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 130. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

One night years ago I wakened for some reason, then couldn't sleep again for re-playing my worries. Funny how troubles always seem worse in the dark, isn't it? Finally I prayed, then was enough at peace to sleep. As I drifted off, it stuck me that henceforth, I should hand over my burdens faster. The Almighty will be up all night anyway.

Jesus said we shouldn't worry, since we can't make one hair of our head black or white. He was making the point that we're never really in control of our lives, or anyone else's. Not even those of our little children. It's comfortable, especially in the night watches, to remind ourselves that God is, and we know in whom we believe.

Lately, when I awaken at night, I pray the ancient prayer handed down by the Eastern Orthodox, the Jesus Prayer. It can be as simple as reverently saying the name of the Lord, over and over. Or, you can pray "Lord Jesus Christ. Son of God. have mercy on me. a sinner." As you repeat just that one phrase, nothing else, you notice the words falling into a pattern with your breathing. This simple prayer always sets my heart right. Calling out to the shepherd is much better than counting sheep.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Natal (Southern Africa)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


How useful have you found 40 ideas for Lent? Click here!

Go outside your front door. Clear up some litter, rip up some weeds and tidy up the clutter. Make the place ready to welcome God. Also make it ready to welcome the humans he loves and in whom he dwells.

Idea by: Peter Graystone

Lent quote: "The holy scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts." – St John Chrysostom

A Celtic lenten Calendar

Lamb of God, you shed for me
Your life upon a blood stained tree,
Your life for mine, love re-defined
An offering, a ransom, release
You gave so much, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

The doubts I have, the pain I feel
When at your feet I humbly kneel
You take it all, both great and small
Give freedom, forgiveness and peace
I have the choice, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

Lamb of God, I hear your voice,
And hearing know I have a choice
To make a start, within my heart
A willingness, to journey by faith
You ask no more, O Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come

By waters still, through fire and storm
Your love continues to transform
And with that call, you welcome all
No barriers now, no limits, just grace
No more excuses Lamb of God
ALL: Just as I am, I come
++++++++++ Reflections

Those who are able to shut themselves up within this little heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of heaven and earth, may be sure that they will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way 20.5

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)

Chananyiah ben Chakinai said, He who awakes by night, and he who is walking alone by the way, and turns aside his heart to idleness, is "guilty of death."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Friends as Reminders of Our Truth

Sometimes our sorrow overwhelms us so much that we no longer can believe in joy. Life just seems a cup filled to the brim with war, violence, rejection, loneliness, and endless disappointments.

At times like this we need our friends to remind us that crushed grapes can produce tasty wine. It might be hard for us to trust that any joy can come from our sorrow, but when we start taking steps in the direction of our friends' advice, even when we ourselves are not yet able to feel the truth of what they say, the joy that seemed to be lost may be found again and our sorrow may become livable.

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

O MYSTERY, hidden in the stars, rooted in the trees, deeper than our knowing. O Mystery, pulsing through our veins and every mountain stream. O Mystery, bringing us to our knees in worship, filling our eyes with tears, breaking our hearts with the sorrow of the earth. O Mystery, ablaze in sunsets, and shining like the moon. O Mystery, calling forth a reverence for that which you have created. O Mystery, God beyond our names and greater than our certainty or our doubts. O Mystery, how wonderful you are, and holy is this day and this ground upon which we stand.

- Larry James Peacock

From page 149 of Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer by Larry James Peacock. Copyright © 2003 by Larry James Peacock.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Jesus is our guarantee of God's promise. What happened in his body is the pattern of what must happen in all of the cosmos. We are making up in time, in our body, what happened in thirty-three years in the body of Jesus. We are optimistic because we look at him and see the final pattern. To be a Christian means to be an optimist because we know what happened on the third day. We know that it worked, that Jesus' leap of faith was not in vain. His trust was not in vain, and the Father raised him up. He trusted enough to outstare the darkness, to outstare the void, to wait upon the resurrection of the third day, not to try to create his own but to wait upon the resurrection of God. The Scriptures and early Church seldom said Jesus "rose" from the dead. They always said, "God raised him up!" Good Friday inevitably comes into every life. So does Holy Saturday. In those moments of absurdity and darkness we want to say it's unreal, but Easter Sunday will come. It is as certain as the dawn. No longer is it an act of faith to believe in immortality, no longer is it an act of faith that some theologian must prove to me, because I have seen the pattern worked out again and again. The Paschal Mystery, the death that is embraced with love, does not lead to death but to life. Absurdity which is embraced and forgiven will not lead to meaninglessness but to freedom. So what was Jesus' plan to overcome evil? Attack it? No! Love it to death. What is given to God is always returned transformed. That is the eternal third day that we forever await.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

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

The light of day

The Easter festival brings the grace of holiness from heaven to the children of the human race. Through the repeated celebration of the sacred mysteries they receive the spiritual nourishment of the sacraments. Fostered at the very heart of holy Church, the fellowship of one community worships the one God, adoring the triple name of his essential holiness, and together with the prophet sings the psalm which belongs to this yearly festival: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. And what is this day? It is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the author of light, who brings the sunrise and the beginning of life, saying of himself: I am the light of day; whoever walks in daylight does not stumble. That is to say, whoever follows Christ in all things will come by this path to the throne of eternal light.

Such was the prayer Christ made to the Father while he was still on earth: Father, I desire that where I am they also may be, those who have come to believe in me; and that as you are in me and I in you, so they may abide in us.

Gregory of Elvira (357 - 392) fought against Arianism and defended the Nicene Creed in action and in writing. He was an exegete who wrote principally on the Old Testament.

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


"He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead." Mark 9:9

Say nothing until the Son of man is risen in you - until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you understand what the historic Christ taught. When you get to the right state on the inside, the word which Jesus has spoken is so plain that you are amazed you did not see it before. You could not understand it before, you were not in the place in disposition where it could be borne.

Our Lord does not hide these things; they are unbearable until we get into a fit condition of spiritual life. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." There must be communion with His risen life before a particular word can be borne by us. Do we know anything about the impartation of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His word is becoming interpretable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we have not His Spirit. An obstinate outlook will effectually hinder God from revealing anything to us. If we have made up our minds about a doctrine, the light of God will come no more to us on that line, we cannot get it. This obtuse stage will end immediately [when] His resurrection life has its way with us.

"Tell no man . . " - so many do tell what they saw on the mount of transfiguration. They have had the vision and they testify to it, but the life does not tally with it, the Son of man is not yet risen in them. I wonder when He is going to be formed in you and in me?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a tunic,
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.

The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.

Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.

Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.


Maimonides, one of the finest and best educated minds in twelfth century Jewish history, writes in the Mishneh Torah "The dress of the wise must be free of stains; they should not wear the apparel of princes, to attract attention, nor the raiment of paupers, which incurs disrespect." Clothing, in other words, was to clothe, neither to adorn nor to diminish the human person. Clothing was clothing.

Benedictines differ in their literal interpretation of the passage on clothing in the Rule. Some groups focus on the types of clothing described and devise a uniform from a sixth century wardrobe--a long dress, a cowl to protect against weather that was cold and damp, a scapular. Other groups emphasize that the clothing worn should simply be local and approved by the local prioress or abbot. Whatever the present demonstration of the passage, both groups believe in simplicity, sufficiency and a guard against excess. Slavery to style is not Benedictine. Excess is not Benedictine. Ostentation and pretension and fads are not Benedictine. Slovenliness and dirt are not Benedictine. The Benedictine is clean, simple and proper to the time and place because the stewardship of the universe demands a commitment to order, harmony and rightness if it is to survive. The Benedictine is one of the world's uncomplicated types who have what is necessary for every occasion and nothing more.

Dress is a mark of values and aspirations and ideals. It is as easy to call attention to ourselves by too little as too much; as easy to lose sight of what we really are about in life by too much as too little. If the chapter on clothing has anything to say to the modern world at all, it is certainly that we need to be who we are. We need to look inside ourselves for our value and not pretend to be what we are not. We need to stop putting on airs and separating ourselves out and pretending to be what we are not. Fraud is an easy thing. The honesty of humility, the humility of honesty is precious and rare.

Taking care of the self has something to do with taking care of the universe. If we do not care about our presentation of self, it is unlikely that we will care about littering the countryside or preservation of resources or stewardship of the earth. Being sloppy is not a monastic ideal. Just because a thing is not useful in the monastery anymore does not necessarily make it useless. It may, in fact, still be very useful to someone else and so should be given away. We owe what is useless to us to the poor. What is no longer important to us is to be made available to the other, in good condition, with quality and care. There is a Benedictine virtue in washing things and hanging them up and folding them nicely and keeping them neat and giving them to people who can use them, not because they are not worth anything but precisely because they are still worth something.

Benedictine spirituality recognizes the fact that a thing may become valueless to us before it actually becomes valueless. In that case it is to be given to someone else in good condition. Benedictine spirituality does not understand a world that is full of gorgeous garbage while the poor lack the basics of life.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII (On the Lord's Resurrection): complete

Compiled by Jonathan Bennett for Ancient and Future Catholics/

Great and Holy Saturday, April 7, 2007
Strict Fast The Harrowing of Hades
Orthros Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14 Epistle: Romans 6:3-11
Gospel: St. Matthew 28:1-20

Resurrection as Mystery: Ezekiel 37:1-14 LXX, especially vs. 3: "And He
said to me, Son of man, will these bones live? and I said, O Lord God,
thou knowest this." With His holy Prophet Ezekiel, God leads us "by the
Spirit" (vs. 1) to the floor of a valley to "walk in the midst of the
shadow of death" (Ps. 22:4 LXX). The valley "was full of human bones.
And He led me round about them every way: and, behold, there were very
many on the face of the plain, very dry" (Ezek. 37:1,2). We reach the
bleak finality of death. The bones were "very dry" (vs. 2).

And remember: through this life, death comes repeatedly. A little
child loses a favorite teddy bear with which he has slept sweetly.
Where is Bear? His parents do not know and seem not to care. He even
suspects them. They took it and got rid of it! He wanders everywhere,
searching, but never finding his little furry companion. It is gone! A
piece of him dies. Much is wasted before us. Friendships die.
Marriages die. Hopes and visions die. Death is ubiquitous, leering at
us at every turn. As we age, strength and capacities wither away.
Obituaries are published every day in the paper. Perhaps we even start
reading them to see if our name is listed!

Archpriest Georges Florovsky faces the vast plain of death, and then he
adds a notable disclaimer: "Human death did not belong to the Divine
order of Creation. It was not normal or natural for man to die." Death
is not according to the will of God. It is alien, an enemy in league
with the father of lies, the purveyor of death. Father Florovsky
recalls that in Scripture death is "the wages of sin" (Rom. 6:23).
Therefore, he stoutly refuses the conception of death "as a release of
an immortal soul out of the bondage of the body." Rather, he counters
with the great truth that "death is not a release, it is a
catastrophe," following the world-view of Scripture.

By bringing us into the valley of dead, dry bones, God sets a mystery
before us: "Will these bones live?" (Ezek. 37:3). Cancer, heart
attacks, tsunamis, suicide bombers, earthquakes, the graves of our war
dead induce us to say, "Unlikely!" But the Prophet does not answer that
way. He defers to the power, mercy, and boundless love of God. "I
said, O Lord God, Thou knowest this" (vs.3). Yes, death defies us and
the image of God within. We cry out, "What of death, O Lord? Is the
end just weathered bones on the valley floor of hades?

Now, the word of the Lord stops the mind, arrests our attention: "Thus
saith the Lord to these bones; Behold, I will bring upon you the breath
of life: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon
you, and will spread skin upon you, and will put My Spirit into you, and
ye shall live; and ye shall know that I Am the Lord" (vss. 4-6). The
Prophet Ezekiel was an deported slave. The life of Israel, his people
and ours, was virtually ended by conquest and deportation. Still, God
promised, " Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will open your tombs, and
will bring you up out of your tombs, and will bring you into the land of
Israel" (vs. 12).

God's promise was no less incredible for the disciples scattered at the
arrest and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. He died on the cross. He
crossed into the valley of dry bones. Where is God with His promise?
Learn from Ezekiel. He obeyed God: "I prophesied as He commanded me,
and the breath entered into them, and they lived, and stood upon their
feet, a very great congregation" (vs. 10). Likewise, the Lord Jesus
kept His promise as well: "They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the
third day He will rise again" (Lk. 18:33). "Christ is risen from the
dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen
asleep....even so in Christ all shall be made alive" ( 1 Cor.
15:20,22). Ezekiel shows us the way.

The gates of Hades didst Thou shatter, O Lord, and by Thy death Thou
didst destroy death. And Thou didst free the race of man, granting life
and great mercy to the world.


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