Saturday, May 26, 2007

26/05/07 Saturday, week of 7th 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, 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 107:33-43, 108:1-6(7-13)
Ezek. 43:1-12; Heb. 9:1-14; Luke 11:14-23

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 108. Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will waken the dawn.

Most mornings I am awakened by the musical sound of my radio alarm. Outside, even in May, there is only a glimpse of the emerging dawn. It is as if the music itself brings on the morning. Occasionally on this particular station there are even the sounds of lyre and harp. In my waking sleep I imagine some faraway hillside where less classical versions of these instruments accompany daily work. I am grateful for this awakening music which is usually of a quiet, celebratory, classically ordered nature. It gives me a sense that whatever the events of the day before me and however fitful my sleep may have been, I can face the day to come with the same joy, order, and equanimity that comes from the musical strains of my radio.

As I push the sleep button for ten more minutes, the musical interlude is an invitation not just for the dawn, but for my own body to ready itself for the day. I awaken not merely to the rising sun, but to everything this day will offer.

Today we remember:

Augustine of Canterbury
Psalm 66:1-8 or 103:1-4,13-18
2 Corinthians 5:17-20a; Luke 5:1-11

O Lord our God, who by your Son Jesus Christ called your apostles and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless your holy name for your servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating your Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, and bide your time, and see your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Eve of Pentecost:
PM Psalm 33; Exod. 19:3-8a,16-20; 1 Pet. 2:4-10

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury and churches in communion with the See of Canterbury
++++++++++ Reflections

O living flame of love, that tenderly wounds my soul, in it deepest centre! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
St John of the Cross
Living Flame, stanza 1.

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Nilus said, "The arrows of the enemy cannot touch one who loves quietness; but he who moves about in a crowd will often be wounded."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Great is Thorah, which gives life to those who practise it in this world and in the world to come, for it is said, For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh (Prov. iv. 22); and it saith, It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Prov. iii. 8); and it saith, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her (Prov. iii. 18); and it saith, For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck (Prov. i. 9); and it saith, She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee (Prov. iv. 9); and it saith, For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased (Prov. ix. 11); and it saith, Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour (Prov. iii. 16): and it saith, For length of days, and years of life, and peace, shall they add to thee (Prov. iii. 2).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Mourns

Jesus, the Blessed One, mourns. Jesus mourns when his friend Lazarus dies (see John 11:33-36); he mourns when he overlooks the city of Jerusalem, soon to be destroyed (see Luke 19:41-44). Jesus mourns over all losses and devastations that fill the human heart with pain. He grieves with those who grieve and sheds tears with those who cry.

The violence, greed, lust, and so many other evils that have distorted the face of the earth and its people causes the Beloved Son of God to mourn. We too have to mourn if we hope to experience God's consolation.

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

Day Twenty Six - The Second Note, cont'd

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases as their love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

PEACEMAKERS ARE THOSE who see that the world and its people are broken but also hold a dream, a vision, that God can and does reach out to heal our world. And God does it through the acts of those who live by the values of this new kingdom where God’s will is being done.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart

From page 93 of The Power of a Focused Heart by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2006 by Mary Lou Redding.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Spirit, Come"

We have been waiting for what will come tomorrow. Nine days, fifty days, fifty years, five hundred years we have been waiting. It is the day we are always waiting for, but never prepared for, the day of the great outpouring, the day that ties all other days together. It is the day when we can speak and be understood at last, the day when we can babble incoherently and people do not laugh, when it is OK to love God without apology or fear, when we know that all of the parts are different and yet all of the parts are enjoying one another. It is Pentecost, the day of the great gathering in and the great sending out. We have been waiting for this Spirit-somehow forgetting that the Spirit was given us a long time ago-in fact it was hovering over chaos in the first lines of the Bible. We are waiting for one who has already come. We are waiting for water that has already been poured fresh and sparkling into our cup. We are waiting for a cool breeze in a desert of our own making. We are waiting for a fire that has been burning incessantly within. We are waiting for the life that we already have. We are waiting, we say, and yet we have padlocked the door-out of fear. We are afraid of this part of God that awe cannot control or explain or merit, which is seductive and cannot be legislated, measured or mandated. Let’s be honest. We do not like this part of God which is dove, water and invisible wind. We are threatened by this pat of God “which blows where it will” and which our theologies cannot predict or inhibit. We, like the disciples in the Upper Room, sit behind locked doors of fear, and still day that we are waiting and preparing for his Holy Spirit. Fortunately, God has brown used to our small and cowardly ways. God knows that we settle for easy certitudes instead of gospel freedom. And God is determined to break through. The Spirit eventually overcomes the obstacles that we present and surrounds us with enough peace so that we can face the “wounds in his hands and his side.” We meet the true Jesus, wounds and all, and we greet our true selves for perhaps the first time. The two are almost the same. “Peace be with you,” he says again.

from unpublished sermon notes

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

Why doubt?

Not only did God justify us, glorify us, and imprint on us his Son's image: he even gave up his Son for us. So Paul continues: How could he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all fail to bestow on us every other gift as well? After giving up his own Son, refusing to spare him, how could he possibly abandon us? Think of God's great goodness in not withholding even his own Son but giving him up for all, for the mean and ungrateful, for enemies and blasphemers! How then could he fail to bestow on us every other gift as well? It is as though he said: God gave his own Son, and not only gave him but delivered him up to death. Why doubt any more about other things when you have received the Master? Why be incredulous concerning chattels when you have the Lord?

John Chrysostom

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


"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect joint with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life. Beware of anything that stops ejaculatory prayer. "Pray without ceasing," keep the childlike habit of ejaculatory prayer in your heart to God all the time.

Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer, He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered. Have we by the Spirit the unspeakable certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when God does not seem to have answered prayer? "Every one that asketh receiveth." We say - "But . . . , but . . ." God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?

The danger with us is that we want to water down the things that Jesus says and make them mean something in accordance with common sense; if it were only common sense, it was not worth while for Him to say it. The things Jesus says about prayer are supernatural revelations.


G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


IF our faith had been a mere fad of the fading empire, fad would have followed fad in the twilight, and if the civilization ever re-emerged (and many such have never re-emerged) it would have been under some new barbaric flag. But the Christian Church was the last life of the old society and was also the first life of the new. She took the people who were forgetting how to make an arch, and she taught them to invent the Gothic arch. In a word, the most absurd thing that could be said of the Church is the thing we have all heard said of it. How can we say that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).

Hence, brethren,
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
we must
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the would,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.


If the twentieth century has lost anything that needs to be rediscovered, if the western world has denied anything that needs to be owned, if individuals have rejected anything that needs to be professed again, if the preservation of the globe in the twenty-first century requires anything of the past at all, it may well be the commitment of the Rule of Benedict to humility.

The Roman Empire in which Benedict of Nursia wrote his alternative rule of life was a civilization in a decline not unlike our own. The economy was deteriorating, the helpless were being destroyed by the warlike, the rich lived on the backs of the poor, the powerful few made decisions that profited them but plunged the powerless many into continual chaos, the Empire expended more and more of its resources on militarism designed to maintain a system that, strained from within and threatened from without, was already long dead.

It is an environment like that into which Benedict of Nursia flung a Rule for privileged Roman citizens calling for humility, a proper sense of self in a universe of wonders. When we make ourselves God, no one in the world is safe in our presence. Humility, in other words, is the basis for right relationships in life.

Later centuries distorted the notion and confused the concept of humility with lack of self-esteem and substituted the warped and useless practice of humiliations for the idea of humility. Eventually the thought of humility was rejected out of hand and we have been left as a civilization to stew in the consequences of our arrogance.

Benedict's magna carta of humility directs us to begin the spiritual life by knowing our place in the universe, our connectedness, our dependence on God for the little greatness we have. Anything else, he says, is to find ourselves in the position of "a weaned child on its mother's lap," cut off from nourishment, puny, helpless--however grandiose our images of ourselves--and left without the resources necessary to grow in the spirit of God. No infant child is independent of its mother, weaned or not. No spiritual maturity can be achieved independent of a sense of God's role in our development.

Jacob's ladder is a recurring image of spiritual progress in classic spiritual literature, as clear in meaning to its time as the concept of the spiritual journey, for instance, would be to a later age. It connected heaven and earth. It was the process by which the soul saw and touched and climbed and clung to the presence of God in life, whose angels "descended and ascended" in an attempt to bring God down and raise us up. That ladder, that precariously balanced pathway to the invisible God, Benedict said, is the integration of body and soul. One without the other, it seems, will not do. Dualism is a hoax.

Just as false, though, is the idea that "getting ahead" and "being on top" are marks of real human achievement. Benedict says that in the spiritual life up is down and down is up, "we descend by exaltation and we ascend by humility." The goals and values of the spiritual life, in other words, are just plain different than the goals and values we've been taught by the world around us. Winning, owning, having, consuming, and controlling are not the high posts of the spiritual life. And this is the basis for social revolution in the modern world.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Augustine of Canterbury, Enlightener of England
1st Vespers Pentecost: Numbers 11:16-17,
Apostle: Acts 28:1-31 Gospel: St. John 21:15-25

The Holy Spirit: Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29, especially vs. 25: "And the
Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to [Moses], and took of the spirit
that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy men that were elders; and
when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied and ceased." This
selection is the first reading at the Vespers of the forthcoming Feast
of Pentecost. It illumines certain aspects of the teaching in that
service: "The Holy Spirit provideth all; overfloweth with prophecy;
fulfilleth the Priesthood; and hath taught wisdom to the illiterate. He
hath revealed the fishermen as theologians. He bringeth together all
laws of the Church. Wherefore, O Comforter, equal to the Father in
Substance and the throne, glory to Thee!"

The passage in Numbers draws from the experience of the ancient People
of God, yet it reveals the Holy Spirit as the Provider of every gift for
the Church in her common life. In particular, the Spirit empowers the
prophetic ministry among God's People. Also, He completes the ministry
of the Priesthood, imparts wisdom to all the Faithful - even those
lacking formal education - and it is He Who enables the Church to carry
out its administrative tasks well.

The Prophet Moses, the wilderness leader of God's ancient People,
Israel, at one point became overwhelmed by the burdens of his office for
he was functioning alone. He reached a point of desperation and cried
out to God, "And if Thou doest thus to me, slay me utterly, if I have
found favor with Thee, that I may not see my affliction." (Nu. 11:15).
God responded by directing Moses to "Gather Me seventy men from the
elders of Israel" upon whom the Lord would place His Spirit (Nu.
11:16). Likewise, the Church needs a diversity of gifts to carry on our
Lord Jesus' mission and worship. As the Apostle teaches: many different
ministries are required, but it is "the same Spirit" Who provides the
various skills and abilities (1 Cor 12:5, 11).

Observe that the Holy Spirit empowered the seventy with prophecy to
assist in leading the People (vss. 25-27). Prophesy is essential among
the Spirit's gifts, being a capacity that St. John Chrysostom describes
as "not only the telling of things future but also of the present," the
power to speak forthrightly to conditions in the Church and society. In
a time of extensive secularization like the present, when the Church is
more and more alien in the world, this gift from the Spirit is vital so
that the Faithful not be led away from the truth of the Gospel.

Moses' family were members of the tribe of Levi (Ex. 2:1,2), that clan
of Israelites that God set aside to serve in the tabernacle (Nu. 1:53).
As a result, the priestly caste all descended from Aaron, Moses' brother
(Nu. 3:9,10) as also did the Levites. Therefore, when the gift of the
Spirit was bestowed upon elders from all twelve of Israel's tribes, the
Lord revealed the necessary relationship between all of God's People and
the Church's Bishops and Priests. All members of the Church have
responsibility to work with the clergy in carrying out the mission.

The case of Eldad and Medad is instructive, for "they had not gone out
to the tent" for the ordination of the Seventy who were serve as the
governing council of Israel, the Sanhedrin; yet the Holy Spirit also
came upon them (Nu. 11:26). Holy wisdom imparted by the Spirit is not
given exclusively in the Church's seminaries. Many among the Faithful,
through worship, prayer, and the ascesis of may spiritual exercises, are
well-grounded in the essentials of the Faith.

Finally, God the Holy Spirit assists the Church in all its
administrative tasks, giving light and wisdom to both clergy and laity.
The Seventy did not become Priests, but still bore the "burden of the
people" with Moses in the other aspects of governance (vs. 17).

O Christ our God, send upon Thy People the Comforter, Who is Thy Spirit
and the Spirit of the Father, that in Him we may be strengthened to
serve Thee worthily before the world.



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