Thursday, May 24, 2007

24/04/07 Tues in the week of the 3rd 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.


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 105:1-22; PM Psalm 105:23-45
Ezek. 18:1-4,19-32; Heb. 7:18-28; Luke 10:25-37

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 10:25-37. And who is my neighbor?

In the story of the Good Samaritan, it is the stranger, the alien, the outcast who claimed the wounded traveler as neighbor.

In the strict sense, we define our neighbors as those who live close by our neighborhood. Usually our neighbors look a lot like us. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, it is the stranger, a foreigner, who acts as neighbor.

I can hardly imagine traveling through a strange country, especially one where I am not welcome, seeing a person beaten on the side of the road and stopping to help. Yet stop I must. This example may not compare to the dangers of our time, yet any way I try to explain it, Jesus' answer to the neighbor question is more inclusive than I can imagine. We struggle with this in the United States at every level. It is easier to welcome "our neighbors to the north" than our "neighbors to the south" who are perceived to be economically needy. And yet if the Good Samaritan is our guide there are no national boundaries to neighborhood. How might Jesus encourage us to be faithful in the dilemmas we face in our country in our day?

Today we remember:

Jackson Kemper:
Psalm 67 or 96:1-7
1 Corinthians 3:8-11; Matthew 28:16-20

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, and by his arduous labor and travel established congregations in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania
++++++++++ Reflections

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine are the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

Having withdrawn from the palace to the solitary life, abba Arsenius prayed and heard a voice saying to him, "Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the source of sinlessness."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Seek not greatness for thyself, and desire not honour. Practise more than thou learnest. And lust not for the table of kings, for thy table is greater than their table, and thy crown greater than their crown, and faithful is thy task-master who will pay thee the wage of thy work.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus is Poor

Jesus, the Blessed One, is poor. The poverty of Jesus is much more than an economic or social poverty. Jesus is poor because he freely chose powerlessness over power, vulnerability over defensiveness, dependency over self-sufficiency. As the great "Song of Christ" so beautifully expresses: "He ... did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, ... becoming as human beings are" (Philippians 2:6-7). This is the poverty of spirit that Jesus chose to live.

Jesus calls us who are blessed as he is to live our lives with that same poverty.

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

Day Twenty Four - The First Note, cont'd

The faults that we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than of criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another's. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked, and to volunteer to take it. Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which we feel unworthy or incapable, we do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it through the power that is made perfect in weakness.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

JOY’S VERY BEING is lost in the great tide of selfless delight — creation’s response to the infinite loving of God. But, of course, the point for us is that this selfless joy has got to go on at times when we ourselves are in the dark, obsessed by the sorrow of life, so that we feel no joy because we cannot gaze at the beauty. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not of our gratified emotions. “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.”

- Evelyn Underhill
The Soul’s Delight

From pages 31-32 of The Soul’s Delight: Selected Writings of Evelyn Underhill edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1998 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Living Between First Base and Second Base"

Carl Jung said, “If you get rid of the pain before you have answered its questions, you get rid of the self along with it.” Our Christian way of talking about this is the cross. The pain is the way through. We must face our compulsions, our lie. Each of us has a false image of God, one of the nine images of the Enneagram. Faith, for me, is letting go of the images. Then you’ll feel like nothing. Faith is so rare – and religion so common – because no one wants to live between first base and second base. Faith is the in-between space where you’re not sure you’ll make it to second base. You’ve let go of one thing and haven’t yet latched onto another. Most of us choose the security of first base. Yet faith happens in the in-betweens, the interruptions, the thresholds. It happens when I’ve left this room where I was in control, where I had my self-explanation, where I had my ego boundaries, where I had my moral sense of my own rightness and superiority. We all fall into the trap of trying to justify ourselves. But justification by faith is the decision to stop pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, to stop any process of self-justification. Do you realize what a surrender that is? Only God can lead you on that path. Often that happens in times of personal loss or humiliation. We must listen to the questions that pain offers us. Then we can move through the pain to truth.

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.

One God who is always the same

We acknowledge the Lord as God, and as head of the Church, which he redeemed from the Gentiles with his own blood. For he gained us for himself as a people that would be his own, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, who would proclaim his goodness and glory. All peoples now serve him, all the tribes of the earth are blessed in him, and all the families of the Gentiles worship him; all the pagans have come to worship in his presence, and all the kings of the earth fall down at his feet.

Everywhere we Christians are shown to be victorious, even if the enemies of truth dislike it. For the Spirit commands us to sing a new song to the Lord, not in Jerusalem alone nor in Judea (a tiny fraction of the world), but lifting holy hands in every corner of his dominion, to serve him in holiness and righteousness, for the dawn from on high has shone upon us, and given us his people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of our sins. Thus we, as his people, acknowledge the shouts of rejoicing; we live in the light of his face, and as the whole assembly of his people we hope in him. Nor is there a new God among Christians, but on the contrary we acknowledge one God who is always the same.

Nicephorus of Constantinople, (758 - 828) stood in the forefront of the battle against iconoclasm.

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


"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead." Revelation 1:17

It may be that like the apostle John you know Jesus Christ intimately, when suddenly He appears with no familiar characteristic at all, and the only thing you can do is to fall at His feet as dead. There are times when God cannot reveal Himself in any other way than in His majesty, and it is the awfulness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair; if you are ever to be raised up, it must be by the hand of God.

"He laid His right hand upon me." In the midst of the awfulness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ. The right hand not of restraint nor of correction nor of chastisement, but the right hand of the Everlasting Father. Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it is ineffable peace and comfort, the sense that "underneath are the everlasting arms," full of sustaining and comfort and strength. When once His touch comes, nothing at all can cast you into fear again. In the midst of all His ascended glory the Lord Jesus comes to speak to an insignificant disciple, and to say - "Fear not." His tenderness is ineffably sweet. Do I know Him like that?

Watch some of the things that strike despair. There is despair in which there is no delight, no horizon, no hope of anything brighter; but the delight of despair comes when I know that "in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." I delight to know that there is that in me which must fall prostrate before God when He manifests Himself, and if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I get to the limit of the possible.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


I FOR one should be sincerely glad if we could have a national celebration, remembering our real achievements and reminding ourselves of our real work in the world. Only for any such national celebration I should suggest two conditions first, that our national celebration should be invented by our nation and not by another nation. And secondly, that it should be forced by the people on the newspaper proprietors, and not by the newspaper proprietors on the people.

'Illustrated London News.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 5: On Obedience

But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
and murmurs,
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.


If there is one determinant of monastic spirituality, this is surely it: You must want it. You must give yourself to it wholeheartedly. You must enter into it with hope and surety. You must not kick and kick and kick against the goad.

It is so easy to begin the spiritual life with a light heart and then, one day, drowning in the sea that is ourselves, refuse to go another step without having to be dragged. We ignore the teachings or demean the teachings. We ignore the prioress or criticize the abbot. We defy the teachers to teach.

We do what we are told, of course. We come to the meetings or keep the schedule or go through the motions of being part of the community or part of the family or part of the staff but there is no truth in us and we weigh the group down with our complainings. We become a living lamentation. We become a lump of spiritual cement around the neck of the group.

This, Benedict says, is not obedience. This is only compliance and compliance kills, both us and the community whose one heart is fractured by those who hold theirs back. Real obedience depends on wanting to listen to the voice of God in the human community, not wanting to be forced to do what we refuse to grow from.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2007 The Hieromonk Vincent of Lerins
Kellia: Deuteronomy 6:10-16, 20-25 Apostle: Acts 25:13-19
Gospel: St. John 16:23-33

The People of God: Deuteronomy 6:10-16, 20-25, especially vss 21, 22:
"We were slaves to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought us
forth thence with a mighty hand, and with a high arm. And the Lord
wrought signs and great and grievous wonders in Egypt, on Pharaoh and on
his house before us." We say, "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and
Apostolic Church," but what is this Church except the People of God,
and who are these people who say of themselves that they belong to God?
Meditating on this mystery, St. Maximos the Confessor observed: "For
numerous and of almost infinite number are the men, women, and children
who are distinct from one another and vastly different by birth and
appearance, by nationality and language, by customs and age, by opinions
and skills, by manners and habits, by pursuits and studies, and still
again by reputation, fortune, characteristics, and connections."

What or Who distinguishes us as a People? Out of the diversity which
St. Maximos describes, how is it that we are set aside as the People of
God? In the present reading, Prophet Moses speaks to the ancient People
of God, to the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning their
formation as the People of God; and we Christians do well to pay
attention to his words, for we are the successors to Israel and the
awesome title, "the People of God." Therefore, the substance of the
teaching Moses applies to us. Ancient Israel is a type of the Church to
which we are joined, or as St. Maximos says, to which we are "reborn and
recreated in the Spirit."

As one first reads Moses, it is the physical Promised land that appears
to distinguish ancient Israel as the People of God, "the land which He
sware to thy fathers, to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob (vs. 10).
Moses makes much of cities, houses, household effects, cisterns,
vineyards, and orchards which Israel was about to take by conquest -
property they did not develop (vs. 11). However, he is definite that it
is not physical possession that constitutes them as a people like so
many conquering nations who immediately call what they invade by their
own names, speaking of a territory as their Fatherland or Motherland.

The true distinguishing mark of Israel is also what marks the Church:
when we hold in remembrance the Lord our God "in the midst" of us (vs.
15) and "cleave to Him and by His name...swear" our vows and oaths (vs.
13). The second century "Letter to Diognetos" notes that "Christians
are not differentiated from other people by country, language or
customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some
strange dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle....They live in their
own native land, but as aliens."

In addition, the Prophet stresses the fact that the People of Israel
were "Pharaoh's slaves [whom] the Lord brought...out of Egypt" (vs.
21). Like ancient Israel, the Church also gained freedom by God's hand,
for He has delivered us out of the hand of the enemy, "trampling down
death by death." What distinguishes Israel and the Church as the People
of God is freedom created for and revealed in us by God. "Before our
eyes" the Lord showed us "signs and great and grievous wonders in
Egypt," that place of sin and death that formerly enslaved us (vs. 22).
Finally, like ancient Israel, we have a liberation to enjoy as the
People of God, a freedom to serve. God's service is perfect freedom.
As Moses declares, the Lord our God gives us His Divine statutes and
commandments "that it may be well with us for ever, that we may live, as
even to-day" (vs. 24). God's commands are not oppressive, but "for
good;" and so obeying them assures us "that it may be well with us for
ever, that we may live, as even to-day" (vs. 25).

We pray Thee, O Lord, be mindful of Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic
Church to the ends of earth; and give peace unto Her whom Thou hast
purchased with the Blood of Thy Christ.


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