Thursday, May 10, 2007

10/05/07 Thurs in the week of the 5th Sun in 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 [70], 71; PM Psalm 74
Wisdom 14:27-15:3; Rom. 14:1-12; Luke 8:26-39

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 8: 26-39. As [Jesus] stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him.

In early morning I often run along the river path near my house. During the warm months the path's benches are filled with homeless people, their bed for the night. Each evening, shelter workers invited sleepers to a bed and food in a local church or city shelter. But in the summer, the stars provide a more inviting and sometimes safer roof. By the time of the first frost most bench sleepers take the shelter.

Except one man last winter. As the temperature dropped, he slept under the stairs leading to the path. By the time of my run he was usually sitting on the bench, talking to the river or battling some unknown, unseen inner companion. As the days wore on, his clothes became increasingly tattered, and his speech more agitated. From time to time I looked him in the eye as I went by, but he was in some faraway tortured place--battling the demons of childhood or a brain chemistry that could not regulate itself. I knew Jesus would heal this tormented man. I did nothing. Perhaps I should have tried. By deep winter he was gone, to a shelter I hope, or perhaps to some warmer river path staircase.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of North West Australia (Western Australia, Australia)

++++++++++ Reflections

I open the Scriptures... then all appears clear, full of light... holiness appears easy.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of abba John the Dwarf that one day he said to his elder brother, "I should like to be free of all care, like the angels who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God." So he took leave of his brother and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door he heard his brother say, "Who are you?" before he opened it. He said, "I am John, your brother." But he replied, "John has become an angel and henceforth he is no longer among men." Then John besought him, saying, "It is I." However, his brother did not let him in but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, "You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat." Then John made a prostration before him, saying, "Forgive me."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

R. Jose ben Jehudah of Kaphar ha-Babli said, He who learns from the young, to what is he like? to one that eats unripe grapes, and drinks wine from his vat; and he who learns from the old, to what is he like? to one that eats ripened grapes, and drinks old wine.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Holding the Cup

We all must hold the cups of our lives. As we grow older and become more fully aware of the many sorrows of life - personal failures, family conflicts, disappointments in work and social life, and the many pains surrounding us on the national and international scene - everything within and around us conspires to make us ignore, avoid, suppress, or simply deny these sorrows. "Look at the sunny side of life and make the best of it," we say to ourselves and hear others say to us. But when we want to drink the cups of our lives, we need first to hold them, to fully acknowledge what we are living, trusting that by not avoiding but befriending our sorrows we will discover the true joy we are looking for right in the midst of our sorrows.


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

Day Ten - The Third Aim

To live simply

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

SPIRITUAL COMMUNITIES create people who rejoice. They rejoice in the Lord; they rejoice in themselves; they rejoice in one another. They appreciate laughter and mirth; they understand that God has a sense of humor.

- Daniel Wolpert
Leading a Life with God

From page 162 of Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2006 by Daniel Wolpert.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"A Little Bit of Unity Is Worth Your Life"

As long as we think that we alone have to save the world, we become arrogant in our methods, impatient in our attitudes and quick in our solutions. We instead must seek the patience and peace of God. The man and woman of God are content simply to lay down their lives for some little bit of unity. Wherever you are, let God create unity. I believe that's what God's doing on earth. I know one sister who sees her primary call as bestowing "benevolent smiles" on everybody she meets. What a threat she must be to disunity! If Jesus is to be risen among us, we must each individually and in groups together surrender to a love and mystery that is greater than our hearts. We must humbly admit that we really don't know much at all. We have few right answers, it seems to me, and even fewer conclusions. All we can be is what Jesus was: present and enfleshed. In the end it seems to me there's only one gospel: Jesus incarnate, Jesus crucified, Jesus resurrected. Solidarity in suffering and in ecstasy is God's gift to the world. To be in the Church is to be willing to be part of the rhythm and create little bits of unity wherever we can.

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.

The power of the mustard seed

How can the same man be both the kingdom of heaven and a seed, and be described as both large and small? Because he had such great compassion for his own creatures Christ became all things to all in order to win all. He was God, as he still is and always will be in his own nature, and he became man for our salvation. Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! O seed by which the world was made, through which darkness was dispersed and the Church brought into being! In this seed hanging on the cross was such tremendous power that by a mere word, though bound itself, it snatched the thief from his cross and transported him to the joy of paradise. This seed, its side pierced by a spear, poured out for the thirsty an immortal drink. This mustard seed, taken down from the cross and planted in a garden, branched out over the whole world. This mustard seed sown in a garden sent its roots down to Hades, gathered together the souls that were there, and after three days raised them with itself to heaven.

John Chrysostom

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


"Add to your faith virtue. . ." ("Furnish your faith with resolution.") (MOFFATT.) 2 Peter 1:5

"Add" means there is something we have to do. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves, God does that; but God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves, we have to work out the salvation God has worked in. "Add" means to get into the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages it is difficult. To take the initiative is to make a beginning, to instruct yourself in the way you have to go.

Beware of the tendency of asking the way when you know it perfectly well. Take the initiative, stop hesitating, and take the first step. Be resolute when God speaks, act in faith immediately on what He says, and never revise your decisions. If you hesitate when God tells you to do a thing, you endanger your standing in grace. Take the initiative, take it yourself, take the step with your will now, make it impossible to go back. Burn your bridges behind you - "I will write that letter"; "I will pay that debt." Make the thing inevitable.

We have to get into the habit of hearkening to God about everything, to form the habit of finding out what God says. If when a crisis comes, we instinctively turn to God, we know that the habit has been formed. We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we are not.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

WHATEVER makes men feel old is mean -- an empire or a skin-flint shop. Whatever makes men feel young is great -- a great war or a love-story. And in the darkest of the books of God there is written a truth that is also a riddle. It is of the new things that men tire -- of fashions and proposals and improvements and change. It is the old things that startle and intoxicate. It is the old things that are young. There is no sceptic who does not feel that men have doubted before. There is no rich and fickle man who does not feel that all his novelties are ancient. There is no worshipper of change who does not feel upon his neck the vast weight of the weariness of the universe. But we who do the old things are fed by Nature with a perpetual infancy. No man who is in love thinks that anyone has been in love before. No woman who has a child thinks there have been such things as children. To people that fight for their own city are haunted with the burden of the broken empires.

'The Napoleon of Notting Hill.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.


The social revolution of the Rule starts in this paragraph on authority. This will be a different kind of life than the sixth century Roman ever saw. The head of the monastery will not be a chief or a queen or a feudal lord. The superior of a monastery of Benedictines will be a Christ figure, simple, unassuming, immersed in God, loving of the marginal, doer of the gospel, beacon to the strong.

Once you begin to understand that, you begin to understand the whole new type of authority that the Rule models for a world gone wild with power. You begin to understand that it is not the laws of the mighty that will govern this group. It is the law of God that will preempt all other considerations.

Like Christ, this leader does not lead with brute force. This leader understands the leavening process. This leader, called appropriately abbot or abbess or prioress, is a spiritual parent, a catalyst for the spiritual and psychological growth of the individual monastic, not a border guard or a warden. This leader is not a parent who terrorizes a child into submission; this leader believes in the best and gives people the opportunities to make the mistakes that lead to growth.

The prioress and abbot provide an environment that confronts the monastic with the presence of God, that shows them the Way. After that it is up to the monastic to let the practices of the community and the rhythm of the prayer life work their way until the piercing good of God rises in them like yeast in bread.

"If you meet the Buddha on the road," the Zen master teaches the disciple, "kill him." Don't let any human being become the measure of your life, the Zen implies. Eliminate whatever you would be tempted to idolize, no matter how worthy the object. The role of the spiritual leader, in other words, is not to make martinets out of people; it is to lead them to spiritual adulthood where they themselves make the kind of choices that give life depth and quality. Like the teacher of Zen, Benedict does not make the superior of the monastery the ultimate norm of life. Pleasing the abbot is not what monastic life is all about. Becoming what the abbess or prioress thinks you should be is not the goal of monasticism. Following the leader is not the end for which we're made; finding God is. Benedict makes the superior of his monasteries a lover of people, a leader who can persuade a person to the heights, show them the mountain and let them go.

In our own culture, becoming someone important, climbing the corporate and ecclesiastical ladder has so often meant pleasing the person at the top rather than doing what conscience demands or the situation requires. That kind of leadership is for its own sake. It makes the guru, rather than the gospel, the norm of life. That kind of obedience puts the business before the soul. That kind of authority is not monastic and it is not spiritual. That kind of authority so often leads to the satisfaction of the system more than to the development of the person and the coming of the reign of God. That kind of authority breeds Watergate and My Lai in the face of a tradition that holds up for public emulation Joan of Arc and Thomas More whose obedience was always to a much higher law than the institutions of the country.


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

Thursday, May 10, 2007 Christ is Risen!
The Holy Apostle Simon Zelotes
Kellia: Deuteronomy 3:12-20 Apostle: Acts 14:20-15:4
Gospel: St. John 9:39-10:9

The Interests of Others: Deuteronomy 3:12-20, especially vs. 18 LXX:
"The Lord your God has given you this land by lot; arm yourselves, every
one that is powerful, and go before your brethren the children of
Israel." Having led Israel to complete the conquest of the former
kingdoms of Sihon and Og, the two Amorite Kings, Moses then divided the
newly acquired land among elements of three of the twelve tribes of
Israel: Reuben, Gad, and a portion of the tribe of Joseph. The latter
he refers to as "the half-tribe of Manasseh" (vs. 13), for Manasseh was
one of the two sons of Joseph (Gen. 46:20). The Manassites from the
time of the Exodus functioned as a tribe in their own right, though they
were regularly referred to as a "half-tribe" [of Joseph].

The allotment of the territory that had lain within the kingdom of
Og was specifically assigned to two Manassite clans, Machir and Jair
(compare vss. 14-15 with Num. 32:40-41). From the peoples of the three
tribes who were assigned land within the trans-Jordan area, Moses
further required strong detachments of fighting men to lead the invasion
into the lands west of the Jordan (Deut. 3:18-20). These powerful
warriors would not be free to return to their families and new
possessions until the other tribes were at rest on their assigned
allotments in the western portion of the Promised Land. God expected
mutual support among His People.

The present reading is a forceful reminder for all who are born anew
into the Church of Christ: we are members one of another and, as such,
we ought naturally to act in mutual support of our fellow Christians.
As St. Paul teaches: "Let each of you look out not only for his own
interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4). Reading
further in his Epistles, we discover that the Apostle's model for
self-giving in the Church is none other than the Lord Jesus, our God and
Savior Himself (Phil. 2:5-11), for "...though He was rich, yet for [our]
sakes He became poor, that [we] through His poverty might become rich"
(2 Cor. 8:9).

Christ supernaturally enables the Faithful to act in love and concern
for the brethren in the Church, as the Romanian theologian, Dimitru
Staniloae states: "The holiness of Christ as man is available to all,
and is directed actively towards all....The saint is the man 'for' men,
the man who is a stranger to every kind of selfishness." While
"friendship after the flesh is very easily destroyed on some slight
pretext, since it is not held firm by spiritual perception," as St.
Diadochos of Photiki has shown, yet, "when a man begins to perceive the
love of God in all its richness, he begins also to love his neighbor
with spiritual perception."

The Desert Fathers provide us with striking examples of such
self-giving. Of Abba Agathon who forced himself to fulfill all the
commandments, it was said that, "coming to the town one day to sell his
wares, he encountered a sick traveler lying in the public place without
anyone to look after him. The old man rented a cell and lived with him
there, working with his hands to pay the rent and spending the rest of
his money on the sick man's needs. He stayed there four months till the
sick man was restored to health. Then he returned in peace to his cell."

The Prophet Moses imposed the interests of others as a Divine
commandment on the first tribes to receive allotments of land. Our Lord
takes us to the root of mutual caring: "If a man love Me, he will keep
My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and
make Our abode with him." Pursuit of the interests of others becomes
natural in us through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, for He
awakens love for Christ in our hearts and makes Christ Jesus present
there at all times to stir up in us the "love of God in all its richness."

Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people, that
they, loving Thee above all things, may plenteously bring forth the
fruit of good works to Thy glory and praise.



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