Wednesday, May 23, 2007

23/05/07 Wed in the week of the 7th 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, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30; PM Psalm 119:121-144
Ezek. 11:14-25; Heb. 7:1-17; Luke 10:17-24


From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 10:17-24. Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

At a particularly stressful time, a friend sent me a card with a picture of the moon in a brilliant night sky. The caption read, "My barn having burned down, I can see the moon." So often it is only when we are stripped of what we believe protects us, of what we imagine keeps us safe, that we see the love God has for us. While I do not wish the pain of loss on anyone, it is often in times of stress and loss that we become aware of God's presence, the beauty of the world around us, and the love of friends. That should not surprise us. God comes to us when we need him most. I have experienced in such times a strange combination of joy as well as grief and pain. The two are related.

I suspect the kings in today's text are constricted by the need for decorum, by the boundaries of emotion and tasks required by their royal roles. Most of us are not so bound. Pray that we have the courage to enter the depths of spirit in all circumstances and see the marvelous presence of God.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northwest Texas

++++++++++ Reflections

Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends - it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.
St Teresa of Jesus
Life, 8.14

Reading from the Desert Christians

A beginner who goes from one monastery to another is like a wild animal who jumps this way and that for fear of the halter.

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

This is the path of Thorah: A morsel with salt (This is a Talmudic phrase for a poor man's fare--Berakoth 2 b), shalt thou eat; Thou shalt drink also water by measure (Ezek. iv. 11); and shalt sleep upon the ground, and live a life of painfulness, and in Thorah shalt thou labour. If thou doest thus, Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee (Ps. cxxviii. 2): "happy shalt thou be" in this world; "and it shall be well with thee "in the world to come.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus' Self-Portrait

Jesus says: "Blessed are the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for uprightness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness" (Matthew 5:3-10). These words offer us a self-portrait of Jesus. Jesus is the Blessed One. And the face of the Blessed One shows poverty, gentleness, grief, hunger, and thirst for uprightness, mercy, purity of heart, a desire to make peace, and the signs of persecution.

The whole message of the Gospel is this: Become like Jesus. We have his self-portrait. When we keep that in front of our eyes, we will soon learn what it means to follow Jesus and become like him.

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

Day Twenty Three - The First Note, cont'd

Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits the fact of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. It is the basis of all Christian virtues. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, "No spiritual house can stand for a moment except on the foundation of humility." It is the first condition of a joyful life within any community.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

GOD, IT FRIGHTENS ME TO THINK of any situation being administered by my example. You know as well as I that I say better than I do. Yet if you would grant me one thing, let it be a sensitivity to look out on the world from behind the eyes of each person I meet. Then maybe a few of my doings might add a little to your own pilgrimage in becoming “All in all.” Amen.

- W. Paul Jones
An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful

From page 112 of An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful by W. Paul Jones. Copyright © 2006 by W. Paul Jones.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Love Is the Foundation"

The saints are so aware that love is not something to be worked for – to be worked up to or learned in workshops. It breaks through now and then, in ways suddenly obvious. Maybe it’s looking at a sunset or a beloved one; maybe it’s a moment of insight or a gut intuition of the foundational justice and truth of all things. But when you discover love, you want to thank somebody for it. Because you know you didn’t create it. You know you didn’t practice it, you are just participating in it. Love is that which underlies and grounds all things. As Dante said, love is the energy “that moves the sun, the moon and the other stars.” St. Vincent de Paul would thank the poor for letting him help them. It’s as if he said, “Thank you for letting me see this. You are the window that lets me see the real.” I didn’t love, you didn’t love. Love just is, and suddenly we see it standing between us.

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.

Walk in newness of life

If we have been buried with Christ -- that is, by the fact that we have died to sin -- then it certainly follows that as Christ rises from the dead we too rise together with him; as he ascends to heaven we too shall ascend together with him; as he sits at the right hand of the Father, we too shall be said to sit with him in heaven. Indeed, the apostle teaches: He has raised us with Christ, and made us sit together with him in the heavenly places. Christ rose through the Father's glory; if we too have died to sin and been buried with Christ, if all who see our good works glorify our Father in heaven, then it can rightly be said of us that we have risen with Christ by the Father's glory, to walk in newness of life.

Let us walk then in newness of life, showing ourselves new every day to him who has raised us to life with Christ; new, and, if I may so put it, daily more beautiful, as our faces reflect the radiance of Christ. As we gaze on the glory of the Lord in him let us be transformed into his likeness, for Christ, having risen from the dead and from his earthly abasement, has ascended to the glorious majesty of the Father.

Origen of Alexandria

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


"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on." Matthew 6:25

Jesus sums up common-sense carefulness in a disciple as infidelity. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will press through and say - Now where does God come in in this relationship, in this mapped out holiday, in these new books? He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

"Take no thought . . ." don't take the pressure of forethought upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is infidelity, because worrying means that we do not think that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never any thing else that worries us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the word He puts in? The devil? No, the cares of this world. It is the little worries always. I will not trust where I cannot see, that is where infidelity begins. The only cure for infidelity is obedience to the Spirit.

The great word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

TO-MORROW is the Gorgon; a man must only see it mirrored in the shining shield of yesterday. If he sees it directly he is turned to stone. This has been the fate of all those who have really seen fate and futurity as clear and inevitable. The Calvinists, with their perfect creed of predestination, were turned to stone; the modern sociological scientists (with their excruciating Eugenics) are turned to stone. The only difference is that the Puritans make dignified, and the Eugenists somewhat amusing, statues.

'What's Wrong with the World.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 5: On Obedience

The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
This is the virtue of those
who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
who, because of the holy service they have professed,
and the fear of hell,
and the glory of life everlasting,
as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
receive it as a divine command
and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
Of these the Lord says,
"As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
And again to teachers He says,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

Such as these, therefore,
immediately leaving their own affairs
and forsaking their own will,
dropping the work they were engaged on
and leaving it unfinished,
with the ready step of obedience
follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
And so as it were at the same moment
the master's command is given
and the disciple's work is completed,
the two things being speedily accomplished together
in the swiftness of the fear of God
by those who are moved
with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
of which the Lord says,
"Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
so that,
not living according to their own choice
nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
but walking by another's judgment and command,
they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
in which He says,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).


There is an urgency in the Rule of Benedict. The hallmark of obedience for Benedict, in fact, is immediacy. Monasticism is a process, true, but it is lived out in a million little ways day after day. Most of all, perhaps, it is lived out in obedience, the ability to hear the voice of God in one another, in the members of the community, both old and young; in the person we married all of whose aphorisms we know by now, in underlings and children, in old parents and boring in-laws. This voice of God in the demands of community life is not something to be dallied with, or contended with or speculated about or debated.

The necessary question, of course, is how is it that a Rule that purports to deal with the spiritual life can possibly put so much stock in the human dimensions of community. Obedience to God is imperative, yes, but so much emphasis on obedience to a prioress or abbot, to leaders whose mundane lives are as limited as our own, almost seems to make a mockery of the very concept. If this is a life centered in the call of God, then why so much attention to the human?

The answer, of course, is that the human is the only place we can really be sure that God is. It is so easy to love the God we do not see but it is so much more sanctifying to serve the God we learn to see in others.

The self-giving of real obedience is very clear to Benedict. When we follow the voice of the ones who call us to higher service, we put down our own concerns, allow ourselves to be led by the sights of another, treat our own best interests with a relaxed grasp. We empty ourselves out so that the presence of God can come in, tangible and present and divinely human.

It is love that impels them to pursue everlasting life; therefore, they are eager to take the narrow road of which God says: "Narrow is the road that leads to life (Mt 7:14)." They no longer live by their own judgment, giving in to their whims and appetites; rather they walk according to another's decisions and directions, choosing to live in monasteries and to have a prioress or abbot over them. Monastics of this resolve unquestionably conform to the saying of Christ: "I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me (Jn 6:38)."

Two ideas permeate the Rule of Benedict: love and wisdom. Love is the motive; wisdom is the goal and the way. Two great loves, love of God and love of the other, impel us to look outside ourselves and learn from those outside of ourselves where we really are in life. When we love something besides ourselves and when we listen to someone besides ourselves we have glimmers of growth to guide us.

That's why the Rule alone is not enough. The Rule is a luminaria, a lighted path, a clear direction. The presence of a prioress and abbot, of spiritual guides and spiritual giants in our lives, the living interpreters of a living spirituality and Way of Life, holds us up during the hard times in life. These living, breathing, loving vessels of the best in the spiritual life act as antidotes to our confusions and selfishness and pain when we are least able to make clear decisions. They act as corrections on the self when we of all people would be least satisfied with ourselves. They become the compasses when we are veering off course, not because we do not want to see but because our sight is blinded now by age or stress or fatigue. They become the track when our hearts stray or our lives hurt.

What Benedict is saying, obviously, is that there is no going through life alone. Each of us needs a wisdom figure to walk the way with us as well as a Rule to route us. The Rule is clearly not enough.

"Why do you need teachers?" the visitor asked a disciple.

"Because," the disciple answered, "if water must be heated it needs a vessel between the fire and itself."

Abbots and prioresses, good leaders and teachers, fine parents and mentors, tender husbands and gentle wives, good friends and quality administrators, who listen to us as much as we listen to them, are there to help us bear the heat of life that shapes us, not to escape it.




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