Tuesday, May 08, 2007

08/05/07 Tues in the week of the 5th Sun 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 God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 61, 62; PM Psalm 68:1-20(21-23)24-36
Wisdom 10:1-4(5-12)13-21; Rom. 12:1-21; Luke 8:1-15
From Forward Day by Day:

Romans 12:1-21. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Recently a friend was the object of a "blog attack." As one who has come late to what is sometimes called Internet journalism, I had not paid much attention to the free-wheeling conversation that occurs online. But as I began to see the vicious nature of what was said to be a conversation about the gospel of Christ, I found myself increasingly angry.

This seemed to be genuine persecution. There was no listening. Assumptions were made without consulting the person involved. My temptation was to join the fray and encourage my friend to "fight fire with fire!" There could be no better response than a curse!

But then I remembered. Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. To bless is not to condone persecution. It is to look beyond, to go deeper, to seek God's blessing (not my own) on those engaged in hate-filled behavior. Our work is not to join the fray, not to engage in similar attacks or persecution, but to respond, as the letter to the Romans challenges, by not repaying evil for evil and by outdoing one another in showing honor.

Today we remember:

Julian of Norwich:
Psalm 27:5-11 or 103:1-4,13-18
Hebrews 10:19-24; John 4:23-26

Lord God, who in your compassion granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; 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 the Diocese of North Mbale (Uganda)

++++++++++ Reflections

How can I fear a God who is nothing but mercy and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

They said that abba Sylvanus had a disciple in Scetis, named Mark, who possessed in great measure the virtue of obedience. He was a copyist of old manuscripts, and the old man loved him for his obedience. He had eleven other disciples who were aggrieved that he loved more than them.

When the old men nearby heard that he loved Mark above the others, they took it ill. One day they visited him and abba Sylvanus took them with him and, going out of his cell, began to knock on the door of each of his disciples, saying, "Brother, come out, I have work for you." And noe old men, "Where are the other brothers?", and he went into Mark's cell and found the book in which he had been writing and he was making the letter O; and when he heard the old man's voice, he had not finished the line of the O. And the old men said, "Truly, abba, we also love the one whom you love; for God loves him, too."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

He used to say, Better is one hour of repentance and good works in this world than all the life of the world to come; better is one hour of refreshment of spirit in the world to come than all the life of this world.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Sharing Freely Our Knowledge

Often we think that we do not know enough to be able to teach others. We might even become hesitant to tell others what we know, out of fear that we won't have anything left to say when we are asked for more.

This mind-set makes us anxious, secretive, possessive, and self-conscious. But when we have the courage to share generously with others all that we know, whenever they ask for it, we soon discover that we know a lot more than we thought. It is only by giving generously from the well of our knowledge that we discover how deep that well is.

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

Day Eight - The Second Aim, cont'd

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

HEEDING GOD’S CALL can mean leaving home and all that is familiar. It can demand our accumulated wealth and security or dare us to place our blessings, even our lives, at risk. It can also mean simply living where we are but with an entirely new set of priorities. In every case, our particular vocation in God’s service arises from our response to the basic call to radical availability.

- Gerrit Scott Dawson
Responding to Our Call: The Work of Christ

From page 371 of Companions in Christ: Responding to Our Call: The Work of Christ by Gerrit Scott Dawson. Copyright © 2001 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Patriarchy and Masculinity"

Patriarchy and masculinity are not the same thing. Patriarchy is wounded and un-whole masculinity. If we believe that we are created in the image of God - "Male and female, God created them" - then half of God is what it means to be masculine. Half of God is what it means to be feminine. Anybody who only gives you half of that truth is only giving you half of the mystery of God. The journey for all of us is to find the opposite, the contrasexual. For men, this is called the anima, or feminine soul. Patriarchy is immature masculinity. Its' males who don't know their souls, who don't know who they are. So they overdo it. Whenever you see people dominating others, you know they haven't found their soul.

from Is There a Masculine Spirituality?

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

Christ is a mustard seed

Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the Virgin's womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavoring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact. As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed.

We too must crush this mustard seed, in order to feel the force of this parable. Christ is king, because he is the source of all authority. Christ is the kingdom, because all the glory of his kingdom is within him. Christ is a man, because all humanity is restored in him. Christ is a mustard seed, because the infinitude of divine greatness is accommodated to the littleness of flesh and blood.

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


"Because thou hast kept the word of My patience." Revelation 3:10

Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says - "I cannot stand any more." God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands. For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. "Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him."

Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. You cannot see Him just now, you cannot understand what He is doing, but you know Him. Shipwreck occurs where there is not that mental poise which comes from being established on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the heroic effort of your life, you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God.

God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us, now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him. There are spots where that faith has not worked in us as yet, places untouched by the life of God. There were none of those spots in Jesus Christ's life, and there are to be none in ours. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee." The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvellous things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THE world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more. All optimistic thoughts about England and all pessimistic thoughts about her are alike reasons for the English patriot. Similarly, optimism and pessimism are alike arguments for the cosmic patriot.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict


And so we are going to establish
a school for the service of the Lord.
In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
our hearts expand
and we run the way of God's commandments
with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
Thus, never departing from His school,
but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
until death,
we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.

The spiritual life is not something that is gotten for the wishing or assumed by affectation. The spiritual life takes discipline. It is something to be learned, to be internalized. It's not a set of daily exercises, it's a way of life, an attitude of mind, an orientation of soul. And it is gotten by being schooled until no rules are necessary.

Among the ancients there is a story told that confirms this insight to this day:

"What action shall I perform to attain God?" the disciple asked the elder.

"If you wish to attain God, the elder said, there are two things you must know. The first is that all efforts to attain God are of no avail."

"And the second?" the disciple insisted.

"The second is that you must act as if you did not know the first," the elder said.

Clearly, great pursuers of the spiritual life know that the secret of the spiritual life is to live it until it becomes real.
The difference between Benedict and other spiritual masters of his time lay in the fact that Benedict believed that the spiritual life was not an exercise in spiritual gymnastics. It was to be nothing "harsh or burdensome." And it was not a private process. It was to be done in community with others. It was to be a "school" dedicated to "the good of all concerned." It was to be lived with "patience."

The private preserves of the spiritual life are far from dead, however. It is so much easier to go to daily Mass and feel good about it than it is to serve soup at a soup kitchen. It is so much more comfortable to say bedtime prayers than it is speak peace in a warring world. It is so much more satisfying to contribute to the building of a new church than it is to advocate for welfare legislation. It is so much more heroic to fast than it is to be patient with a noisy neighbor. It is so much easier to give the handshake of peace in church than it is to speak gently in the family. And yet, one without the other is surely fraud if life with God in community is truly of the essence of real spiritual growth.

The messages of the Prologue are clear: Life is very short. To get the most out of it, we must begin to attend to its spiritual dimensions without which life is only half lived. Holiness is in the Now but we go through life only half conscious of it, asleep or intent on being someplace other than where we are. We need to open our eyes and see things as they exist around us: what is valuable and what is not, what enriches and what does not, what is of God and what is not. It may be the neighborhood we live in rather than the neighborhood we want that will really make human beings out of us. It may be the job we have rather than the position we are selling our souls to get that will finally liberate us from ourselves. It may be what we do rather than the prayers we pray that will finally be the measure of our sanctity.

God is calling us to more than the material level of life and God is waiting to bring us to it. All we have to do is to live well with others and live totally in God. All we have to do is to learn to listen to the voice of God in life. And we have to do it heart, soul and body. The spiritual life demands all of us.

Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 Christ is Risen!

The Apostle & Evangelist John the Theologian

Kellia: Deuteronomy 2:24‑37

Epistle: 1 John 1:1‑7 Gospel: St. John 19:25‑27; 21:24‑25

To Possess Is To Fight: Deuteronomy 2:24‑37, especially vss. 31, 32 LXX: “‘And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have begun to deliver before thee Sihon the king of Heshbon the Amorite, and his land, and do thou begin to inherit his land. And Sihon the king of Heshbon came forth to meet us, he and all his people to war at Jahaz.” In Moses’ instructions one observes that the effort to possess requires inner cleansing and the submission of the whole self under the rule of God. No aspect of one’s life is left aside or avoided simply because God’s will is difficult. As the Holy Fathers also teach, this reading also warns us that to possess means to fight.

Listen to St. Theophan who cautions all who wish to sacrifice everything to God and do only His will: “You will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants, which all clamor for satisfaction, irrespective of whether it is in accordance with the will of God or not. Therefore, to reach your desired aim, it is...necessary to stifle your own wills and to continue extinguishing and killing them. “In order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. So prepare yourself for this struggle and this warfare....” To possess is, indeed, to fight!

To appreciate the battle that faced ancient Israel requires a little visualization along with the aid of a good map of the territory that lies on the east side of the great rift valley that dominates the geography of the Holy Land, holding the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea. Earlier, Moses commanded: “Arise ye...and depart and cross the valley of Zered” (Deut. 2:13). This stream, flowing into the Dead Sea at its south end, was the boundary between Edom and Moab (Deut. 2:18). Israel passed northward through Moab without contention.

The present reading begins with a new command: “arise and depart, and pass over the valley of Arnon” (Deut. 2:24). The Arnon also flows west to enter the Dead Sea in its middle. It served as the frontier between Moab and the Amorite kingdom of Sihon. Notice that Heshbon, Sihon’s capital, was located between two other west‑flowing streams, one that enters the Dead Sea at its far north end and a second still further north, a tributary of the Jordan. Notice also that Sihon’s kingdom extended quite far north of Heshbon, as far as another west‑flowing stream, “the river Jabbok” (vs.37). The command to avoid “the land of the sons of Ammon” (vs. 37) refers to territory at the headwaters of the Jabbok in the hill country far to the east of the Jordan.

The destruction of all of Sihon’s kingdom...“utterly destroyed every city in succession, and their wives, and their children” (vs. 34). This is a type of the Christian’s struggle for full inward purity, and matches the spiritual counsel of St. Theophan to stifle our many wills ‑ leaving nothing in us to entice our souls. While modern sensibilities will view the means for taking Sihon’s kingdom as genocide, in Old Testament terms the conquest was understood as Divine judgment for the utter iniquity of the Amorite people (see Gen. 15:16). Note that Sihon defied the reasonable chance to cooperate in Israel’s passage but refused because his spirit was “hardened” that “he might be delivered into thy hands” (Deut. 2:30). God waits only so long!

Hence, the Christian who desires God’s highest and best, must not tolerate even widely accepted social attitudes and behaviors in himself contrary to the Lord’s command to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We have made a vow to fight for God, as Staretz Nicodemos has said, “to the glory of His Divine Name, even unto death.”

Arouse, O Lord, my soul, sorely paralytic with divers sins and unseemly deeds, as Thou didst raise the paralytic of old, that I may cry, “Glory to Thy might, O compassionate Christ.”


  • At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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