Wednesday, May 16, 2007

16/05/07 Wed in the week of the 6th 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.


O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; 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 119:97-120
Baruch 3:24-37; James 5:13-18; Luke 12:22-31

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 12:22-31. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.

One Lent, I decided to give up anxiety. My discipline was to make mental note of what made me anxious and offer it to God. I thought such a discipline would not be difficult for one with regular prayer time and whose worries were minor compared to the needs of the world. Was I ever wrong! That season I became aware how often I fretted over something. Should we buy a sound system for the church? Were my children doing what they should? What's for dinner? Should I have given the homeless man more money? How much should our parish give to outreach? How can we be peacemakers? You get the idea. I realized anxiety rather than prayer was my rule of life.

The good news was that in realizing how much of my day was filled with mind clutter and self-judgment, I could take small steps to let it go. No, my children are probably not living up to their potential. Who is? Peace in the Middle East? Get moving, say your prayers, pay attention to the news, act. And most of all, look around. Take a breath. See God's world which offers so many signs of his power, care, and love.

Today we remember:

[Martyrs of Sudan]
Psalms 109, 110, 111, 116:10-17
Wisdom 3:1-9; Hebrews 10:32-39; Matthew 24:9-14

O God, the One who is steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of the Sudan, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they refuse to abandon, even in the face of death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Eve of Ascension:
PM Psalm 68:1-20
2 Kings 2:1-15; Rev. 5:1-14

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northern Mexico (Mexico)
++++++++++ Reflections

In the evening of this life you will be examined in love. Learn then to love as God desires to be loved and abandon your own ways of acting.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, 60.

Reading from the Desert Christians

When abba Macarius was in Egypt, he found a man who had brought a beast to his cell and he was steeling his possessions. He went up to the thief as though he were a traveller who did not live there and helped him to load the beast and led him on his way in peace, saying to himself, "We brought nothing into this world; but the Lord gave; as he willed, so is it done; blessed be the Lord in all things."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

All love which depends on some thing, when the thing ceases, the love ceases; and such as does not depend on anything, ceases not for ever. What love is that which depends on some thing? the love of Amnon and Thamar; And that which does not depend on anything? this is the love of David and Jonathan.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Making Our Deaths Gifts

How do we make our deaths gifts for others? Very often people's lives are destroyed, harmed, or permanently wounded by the deaths of their relatives or friends. We have to do whatever we can to avoid this. When we are near death what we say to those who are close to us, whether in spoken or in written words, is very important. When we express gratitude to them, ask forgiveness for our shortcomings and offer forgiveness for theirs, and express our sincere desire that they continue their lives without remorse but remembering the graces of our lives, then our deaths can become true gifts.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:
Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening communion with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at their disposal give prayer a large part in their daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

IN THE MOMENT that we sense in prayer the sweep of God’s love, a light is cast upon our own condition revealing us to ourselves as no amount of introspection can do. No amount of considering what we think of ourselves, what our friends think of us, or what our enemies say of us is even faintly comparable to this self-revelation that comes from prayer. …

If we dare to stay in this chamber — aware of our shortcomings in the Light of God’s loving presence — both the revelation of what must be put right and the strength to put it right must be given to us.

- Douglas V. Steere
Dimensions of Prayer

From page 36 of Dimensions of Prayer by Douglas V. Steere. Copyright © 1997 by Dorothy Steere.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"God Uses Our Sin"

It's so humiliating to know that god uses your sin for God's purposes. We are imperfect, we are full of compulsions, yet this is how we've been created by God! It's humiliating, but it's so freeing! Your sins and your gifts are two sides of the same coin. It seems you can't have one without the other. For your gift to unfold, you must face its dark side, which is your addictive sin. To understand your sin, you just see that it is partly a gift, but on a destructive course. God is humble and able to use both of them for our liberation. It's we who have a problem living with both sides.

from The Enneagram: Naming Our Illusions

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

Bathed in divine light

Let the shepherds of today's Church imitate those shepherds who typified and prefigured them. Let them guard the Lord's flock and watch by night over the sheepfold entrusted to them, so that they may be bathed in divine light and share in the heavenly secrets. Let them with fervent mind and alert, joyful spirit seek the boy Jesus, not now lying in a humble crib surrounded by animals but sitting on a throne of glorious majesty at the Father's right hand amid the angels. Let them turn from the sheep for a moment in order to search for Jesus in the bosom of the law and the hidden places of the scriptures; then, when they have found and adored him, let them immediately return to the flocks entrusted to them and tend solicitously to them. This let them do, not once only, as the shepherds did, but often and repeatedly, going and returning, ascending and descending on the Son of man.

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.

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


"Partakers of the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:4

We are made partakers of the Divine nature through the promises; then we have to "manipulate" the Divine nature in our human nature by habits, and the first habit to form is the habit of realizing the provision God has made. "Oh, I can't afford it," we say - one of the worst lies is tucked up in that phrase. It is ungovernably bad taste to talk about money in the natural domain, and so it is spiritually, and yet we talk as if our Heavenly Father had cut us off with a shilling! We think it a sign of real modesty to say at the end of a day - "Oh, well, I have just got through, but it has been a severe tussle." And all the Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will tax the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will obey Him. What does it matter if external circumstances are hard? Why should they not be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we banish God's riches from our own lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. It opens our mouths to spit out murmurings and our lives become craving spiritual sponges, there is nothing lovely or generous about them.

When God is beginning to be satisfied with us He will impoverish everything in the nature of fictitious wealth, until we learn that all our fresh springs are in Him. If the majesty and grace and power of God are not being manifested in us (not to our consciousness), God holds us responsible. "God is able to make all grace abound," then learn to lavish the grace of God on others. Be stamped with God's nature, and His blessing will come through you all the time.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

PHILOSOPHY is not the concern of those who pass through Divinity and Greats, but of those who pass through birth and death. Nearly all the more awful and abstruse statements can be put in words of one syllable, from 'A child is born' to 'A soul is damned.' If the ordinary man may not discuss existence, why should he be asked to conduct it?

'George Bernard Shaw.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

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

Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.

And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
"First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides" (Ps. 33:10).
And again:
"Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him."

Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.

Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.


The word here is clear: abbots and prioresses are responsible for the community, yes, but they are responsible for the quality and integrity of their own lives as well. Being an abbot or prioress, a president or corporate tycoon does not put people above the law or outside the law. On the contrary. It may instead create a double burden. In being concerned for the spiritual well-being of others, the caretaker will have to be alert to the demands it makes on her own life. Any leader knows the litany of emotional responses: anger with those who resist, frustration with things that can't be changed, disappointment with things that showed promise but never came to fruit, hurt because of rejection by the people you tried to love, grief over the failure of projects that you counted on to succeed--all tax the soul of a leader. "Thought breaks the heart," the Africans say. Thought also robs the leader of confidence and energy and trust. Despite it all, though, Benedict counsels leaders against the sin of resignation, despair, depression and false hope. Monastic spirituality teaches us that everything we want to do will not succeed, but monastic spirituality also teaches us that we are never to stop trying. We are never to give in to the lesser in life. We are never to lose hope in God's mercy.

People looking for a spirituality of leadership have substance in this chapter for years of thought. Benedict's leaders are to birth souls of steel and light; they are to lead the group but not drive it; they are to live the life they lead; they are to love indiscriminately; they are to favor the good, not to favor the favor the favorites; they are to call the community to the height and depth and breadth of the spiritual life; they are to remember and rejoice in their own weaknesses in order to deal tenderly with the weaknesses of others; they are to attend more to the spiritual than to the physical aspects of community life; and, finally, they are to save their own souls in the process, to be human beings themselves, to grow in life themselves.

In this chapter, monasteries become the image of a world where leadership exists for the people it leads and not for itself. It is a model for businesses and families and institutions that would change the world. It is also a model for leaders who become so consumed in leadership that they themselves forget what it means to live a rich and holy life.

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

Wed., May 16, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Leave Taking of Pascha: Brendan of Clonfert
2nd Vespers Ascension: Isaiah 62:10-63:3, 7-9 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 12:36-47

The Savior Returns: Isaiah 62:10-63:9 LXX, especially vss 1, 2: "Who is
this that is come from Edom, with red garments from Bozrah? Thus fair
in His apparel, with mighty strength? I speak of righteousness and
saving judgment. Wherefore are Your garments red, and your raiment as
if fresh from a trodden winepress?" How the hosts of heaven wondered
when God the Son, the Eternal Word of the Father, descended from His
heavenly throne, made Himself of no reputation, and came in the likeness
of men (Phil. 2:7)!

St. John of Damascus put the Archangel Gabriel's unspoken thoughts and
perplexity at the Incarnation into words: "How is it that He Who is in
the highest and incomprehensible shall be born of a Virgin? He Whose
throne is heaven, and the earth His footstool, how shall He be contained
in a woman's womb? How was He pleased to be Incarnate of her by a word
only, He Whom the six-winged ones and those of many eyes cannot gaze upon?"

And then there is the Lord's triumphant return on high which presented
another marvel to men and angels: Christ seated human nature eternally
with the Father - forever joining mankind to the Godhead. The Lord
Jesus returned to heaven as a mighty man, fair in appearance, although
He never was separated from His throne. The red garments which Isaiah
mentions are the clothing of flesh which Christ still wears, as a man.
Edom is referred to, for, in Hebrew, Edom means red. Earlier Esau and
his descendants after him were called Edom because of his impetuous sale
of his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for a mere serving of
red pottage (Gen 25:30). The image of garments stained red from
trampling in the winepress recalls the Lord's defeat on the Cross of
mankind's prime enemy - when He trampled down death by death.

Isaiah has assembled all these images for us in this single Vesperal
reading for the Feast of the Ascension. He unfolds a portrait of the
returning "Warrior Savior" in triumphant procession taking His place
again on His rightful heavenly throne. The Prophet's verbal icon
includes a command from the Lord on behalf of His Church - "make a way
for My People" (vs. 10). The reading also includes the Lord's answers
(vss. 3-6) to Gabriel's pondering (vss. 1,2). And, finally, it
concludes with a prophetic reflection on the Ascension itself (vss. 7-9).

The Prophecy first reveals that the whole earthly ministry of the Lord,
following upon His Incarnation from the Virgin, was for the Church, "the
daughter of Zion" (vs. 11) whom the Lord calls "My People" (vss. 10,8).
He will permit no obstruction to stand in our way to heaven (vs. 10).
What He accomplished serves not only the people of ancient Israel, but
now functions as a standard to rally all peoples of the earth (vs. 10),
which is why He commissioned the Apostles to "disciple all nations,"
sending them into the world (Mt. 28:19). Note that the Church is called
a Holy People, "the redeemed of the Lord, a city sought out, and not
forsaken" (Is. 62:12).

In this Prophecy, the Lord Jesus Himself answers the ponderings of the
Angels. Since no other man could redeem mankind (vss. 3,5), He Himself
"trampled on [Satan and his hosts] in [His] fury, and dashed them to
pieces as earth, and brought down their blood to the earth" (vs. 3).

Isaiah shares with us his personal awe at what God reveals: "I
remembered the mercy of the Lord, and praises of the Lord in all things
wherein He recompenses us" (vs. 7). Of course, the Faithful are not
"rebellious" for they know that Christ Himself is our "deliverance" (vs.
8). No Angel or Prophet saved us, but the Lord Himself because He loves
us and spares us (vs. 9). "He Himself redeemed [us], and took [us] up,
and lifted [us] up all the days of old" (vs. 9).

O Thou Who fulfillest all, and didst appear of Thine own choice, and
suffer in the flesh and didst rise from the dead, and didst tread down
death, ascending in glory, send us Thy Spirit.


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