Friday, May 18, 2007

18/05/07 Friday in the week of the 6th Sunday 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 85, 86; PM Psalm 91, 92
Ezek. 1:28-3:3; Heb. 4:14-5:6; Luke 9:28-36

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 86. Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.

What does it means to have an undivided heart? I am often of two minds, because I see good possibilities in more than one path. This is true not only in small things which do not matter: Shall I choose chicken or fish? It is also true in some life choices which do matter: Shall I change jobs?

Perhaps my confusion comes from making decisions on the basis of information and rational thinking. I set out the pros and cons, get all the benefits and costs, and make the choice, a rational and informed "good for me and for us" choice. I am invested in making the right choices. But what would it mean to listen to the heart? What about that voice within that doesn't seem rational? How might we be drawn to the heart of God in making our decisions? It doesn't mean denying rational thought, but it affirms the validity of desire, intuition, and the commitment to walk in God's truth. This kind of knowledge does not always lend itself to the linear thinking many of us do so well. Rather, it stakes a claim on the heart and asks God that we may discern with an undivided one.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northern Philippines
++++++++++ Reflections

It is God Himself who wishes to be the riches, comfort, and delightful glory of the religious.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

Once abba Arsenius fell ill in Scetis and in this state he needed just one coin. He could not find one so he accepted one as a gift from someone else, and he said, "I thank you, God, that for your name's sake you have made me worthy to come to this pass, that I should have to beg."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

In whomsoever are three things, he is a disciple of Abraham; and three (other) things, a disciple of Bile'am. A good eye, and a lowly soul, and a humble spirit (belong to) the disciple of Abraham: an evil eye, and a swelling soul, and a haughty spirit, to the disciple of Bile'am. And what difference is between the disciples of Abraham and the disciples of Bile'am? The disciples of Bile'am, go down to Gehinnom, for it is said, But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction (Ps. lv. 24), but the disciples of Abraham inherit the Garden of 'Eden, for it is said, That I may cause those that love me to inherit SUBSTANCE; and I will fill their treasures (Prov. viii. 21).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Breath of God Within Us

When we speak about the Holy Spirit, we speak about the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for "spirit" is pneuma, which means "breath." We are seldom aware of our breathing. It is so essential for life that we only think about it when something is wrong with it.

The Spirit of God is like our breath. God's spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a "spiritual life." It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. It is the Holy Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy. Let us always pray: "Come, Holy Spirit, come."

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

Day Eighteen - The Second Way of Service, cont'd

As well as the devotional study of Scripture, we all recognize our Christian responsibility to pursue other branches of study, both sacred and secular. In particular, some of us accept the duty of contributing, through research and writing, to a better understanding of the church's mission in the world: the application of Christian principles to the use and distribution of wealth; questions concerning justice and peace; and of all other questions concerning the life of faith.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

You come to us in the faces of the known and unknown.
You rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in love,
Help us receive strangers as honored guests.
Open us to receive the gifts others offer us.
We will trust and not be afraid, for you are our strength and salvation.
Let us see your face in those we encounter.
May they see your face in us.
We give you thanks and make your deeds known to others.
We shout aloud and sing for joy,
For you, O God, are in our midst.

- Alive Now

From page 43 of Alive Now magazine, November/December 2000. Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"St. Catherine's Tree"

St. Catherine of Siena in her Dialogues pictures the spiritual life as a large tree. The trunk of the tree is love. There's no other goal on this earth for the Christian but to grow in love - spirituality is always about love. She says the core of the tree, that middle part that must be alive for the rest of the tree to be alive, is patience. No virtue happens until you are patient with yourself. The roots of the tree are self-knowledge. You will not grow in love without self-knowledge. The branches, reaching out into the air, are discernment, to know how to listen, to know how to weigh the voices, to know how to hear deeply what's happening. In other words, says Catherine, love does not happen without self-knowledge, patience and discernment. The discovery of the past decade has been that an awful lot of what we call love has merely been codependency. And if you have any doubt of whether we are a discerning people, just look at the public opinion polls surrounding the Persian Gulf War. One day before the war began, eighty percent of the American people were against it. One day after it, when apparently they think they're winning, eighty percent are for it. When the real issues arise, there is no spiritual discernment, little self-knowledge and almost no patience. Whatever the mass consciousness is, our people just kind of slip into it. And we lose another chance to love. We nee St. Catherine's tree.

from Enneagram II: Tool for Conversion

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

Without love my confession of Christ will avail me nothing

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, says the apostle, but have not love, I am nothing but a booming gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, if I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, if I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. In other words, even with all these gifts I am nothing without Christ. Does that mean that prophecy has no value and that knowledge of mysteries is worthless? No, they are not worthless but I am, if I possess them but have not love. But can the lack of one good thing rob so many others of their value? Yes, without love my confession of the name of Christ even by shedding my blood or offering my body to be burnt will avail me nothing, for I may do this out of a desire for glory. That such things can be endured for the sake of empty show without any real love for God the apostle also declares. Listen to him: If I give away all I have to the poor, if I hand over my body to be burnt, but have not love, it will avail me nothing. So this is what the wedding garment is. Examine yourselves to see whether you possess it. If you do, your place at the Lord's table is secure.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"Behold the fowls of the air." . . . "Consider the lilies of the field." Matthew 6:26, 28

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars and the moon - all these are, and what a ministration they exert. So often we mar God's designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful. Jesus says that there is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentration on God. "Do not bother about being of use to others; believe on Me" - pay attention to the Source, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. We cannot get at the springs of our natural life by common sense, and Jesus is teaching that growth in spiritual life does not depend on our watching it, but on concentration on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows the circumstances we are in, and if we keep concentrated on Him we will grow spiritually as the lilies.

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould us.

If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


THE trees thinned and fell away from each other, and I came out into deep grass and a road. I remember being surprised that the evening was so far advanced; I had a fancy that this valley had a sunset all to itself. I went along that road according to directions that had been given me, and passed the gateway in a slight paling, beyond which the wood changed only faintly to a garden. It was as if the curious courtesy and fineness of that character I was to meet went out from him upon the valley; for I felt on all these things the finger of that quality which the old English called 'faerie'; it is the quality which those can never understand who think of the past as merely brutal: it is an ancient elegance such as there is in trees. I went through the garden and saw an old man sitting by a table, looking smallish in his big chair. He was already an invalid, and his hair and beard were both white; not like snow, for snow is cold and heavy, but like something feathery, or even fierce; rather they were white like white thistledown. I came up quite close to him; he looked at me as he put out his frail hand, and I saw of a sudden that his eyes were startlingly young. He was the one great man of the old world whom I have met who was not a mere statue over his own grave. He was deaf and he talked like a torrent. He did not talk about the books he had written; he was far too much alive for that. He talked about the books he had not written. He unrolled a purple bundle of romances which he had never had time to sell. He asked me to write one of the stories for him, as he would have asked the milkman, if he had been talking to the milkman. It was a splendid and frantic story, a sort of astronomical farce. It was all about a man who was rushing up to the Royal Society with the only possible way of avoiding an earth-destroying comet; and it showed how, even on this huge errand, the man was tripped up at every other minute by his own weaknesses and vanities; how he lost a train by trifling or was put in gaol for brawling. That is only one of them; there were ten or twenty more. Another, I dimly remember, was a version of the fall of Parnell; the idea that a quite honest man might be secret from a pure love of secrecy, of solitary self-control. I went out of that garden with a blurred sensation of the million possibilities of creative literature. The feeling increased as my way fell back into the wood; for a wood is a palace with a million corridors that cross each other everywhere. I really had the feeling that I had seen the creative quality; which is supernatural. I had seen what Virgil calls the Old Man of the Forest: I had seen an elf. The trees thronged behind my path; I have never seen him again; and now I shall not see him, because he died last Tuesday.

'Tremendous Trifles.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.

But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).


Benedictine monasticism is life lived within the circuit of four guy wires: the Gospel, the teachings of its abbots and prioress, the experience of the community and the Rule of Benedict itself.

The Gospel gives meaning and purpose to the community. The teaching of its abbots and prioresses gives depth and direction to the community. The experience of the community, spoken by its members in community Chapter meetings, gives truth to the community. But it is the Rule of Benedict that gives the long arm of essential definition and character to the community.

Each of us, monastic or not, deals with the same elements in life. We are all bound to the Gospel, under leadership of some kind, faced with the dictates of tradition or the cautions of experience and in need of a direction. Monastic spirituality offers enduring principles and attitudes far beyond whatever culture embodies them. Once embraced, they guide our way through whatever the psychological fads or religious practices or social philosophies of the time that offer comfort but lack staying power. "All are to follow the teaching of the Rule," Benedict, the great abbot teaches, "and no one shall rashly deviate from it." Adapt the Rule, yes. Abandon the Rule, no.

The fact is that it is in the Rule itself that the principles and values of Benedictine spirituality are stored and maintained. No matter how far a group goes in its attempts to be relevant to the modern world, it keeps one foot in an ancient one at all times. It is this world that pulls it back, time and time again, to the tried and true, to the really real, to a Beyond beyond ourselves. It is to these enduring principles that every age looks, not to the customs or practices that intend to embody them from one age to another.

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

Friday, May 18, 2007 Afterfeast of the Ascension
Martyrs David & Tarechan of Georgia
1st Vespers Holy Fathers: Genesis 14:14-20
Apostle: Acts 19:1-8 Gospel: St. John 14:1-11

Recovery: Genesis 14:14-20 LXX, especially vs. 16: "And he recovered all
the cavalry of Sodom, and he recovered Lot his nephew, and all his
possessions, and the women and the people." The events preceding
Abram's recovery of the cavalry of Sodom and his nephew, Lot, greatly
illumine the present, brief account of the great Patriarch's retaliatory
strike against the massive armed forces of the kings in league with
Chedorlaomer of Elam (vs. 17). Clearly, Chedorlaomer was a powerful,
regional overlord. He had long dominated ancient Mesopotamia from Elam,
an ancient country that lay to the east of the great river valleys (in
what today is southern Iran). Through war, this great king had
subjugated not only the vast region that comprises present-day Iraq and
Syria, but also had extended effective suzerainty far to the west, down
the Jordan river valley, even to the city-states below the Salt or Dead
Sea. (Gen. 14:1-3).

However, his vassal kings in the Dead Sea region, far away from
Chedorlaomer's center of power, after twelve years of paying tribute,
conspired to cease further payments to him, a rebellion he soon set out
to quell (Gen 14:4-8). While reasserting control throughout the western
region of his empire, the great overlord once again easily subdued the
rebel alliance of the Dead Sea Kings and set off north toward Damascus
with his army. To punish his vassals in Siddim (those southern plains
below the Dead Sea), the great king took men and women as slaves,
stripped the people's food stores, and seized their other possessions.
Lot suffered enslavement along with other citizens of Sodom. All these
events were reported to Abram (Gen 14:9-13).

>From our Holy Fathers we learn to see these events as the all-familiar
story of conquest, war, and power - another chapter in the history of
sin in human affairs; but let us grasp "how harmful are the vices" and
apprehend from Abram, that great patriarch among spiritual warriors, the
calling of every Christian to become a warrior of the struggles of heart
and soul.

First, Abram did not turn to his worldly allies for help in recovering
Lot and the others fallen prey to Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:13). Instead,
he chose or numbered from those born in his own household, a small band
of only 318 servants to pursue and strike what apparently was an
invincible army of the overlord of Elam (Gen. 14:14). In answering the
rampage of sin within our passions, let us remember that outward
assistance does not avail. Worldly friends, secular counselors, or
advisers cannot help. It is from those of the household of God - the
Church - servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the intercession of the
Saints and Angels, and the all-wise counsel of the Holy Spirit, that we
must find help in recovering what we have lost spiritually.

Abram's tiny band overtook their enemies in the darkness, as we also
must search out, smite, and destroy the enemies of our darkened souls.
As St. John Chrysostom makes clear: "the Patriarch prevailed against
[his enemies] not by physical strength but through faith in God....not
by wielding weapons and arrows and spears...but with a few retainers of
his own household."

What is more, by his faith and with resources from God, Abram recovered
that which was lost, and he greatly benefitted many others as well - as
this reading shows (see vss. 16,17). What untold good God's people
shower upon others through faith!

Most important, Abram was quick to give thanks to God. In a type of the
Divine Liturgy, Melchizedek, the Priest of God "brought loaves and wine"
to celebrate God's victory through Abram; and the Patriarch received a
priestly blessing, and "gave him the tithe of all" (vs. 20). The "tithe
of all" was Abram's own humble way of offering thanks to Him Who gave
the victory.

Thou alone, O Lord our God, rulest over those in heaven and on earth;
Who art Lord of the Seraphim and King of Israel; Who alone art holy and
restest in Thy Holy Place.



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