Monday, May 28, 2007

28/05/07 Monday in the week of Pentecost


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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.


Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; 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 25; PM Psalm 9, 15
Deut. 4:9-14; 2 Cor. 1:1-11; Luke 14:25-35


From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 14:25-35. Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

What does Jesus mean by these words? I often make compromises with such texts, interpreting them to mean something else. Perhaps this text means that God is to be first in our lives, that all decisions are to be shaped by commitment to discipleship. I have experienced the freedom of losing my life to find it, of the aloneness which has, at least in glimpses, made Jesus primary in my life.

But this text goes further than my inner struggles with loss or job discernment. This suggests turning my back on all I learned about responsibility to family. Is that what discipleship meant for Jesus, for us?

It is good for us to ponder what Jesus might mean. I have no clear answer as to what action is required. What is clear is that discipleship comes at a cost. Sometimes that cost is a break with the tradition we grew up with. Accepting Jesus may cause some close to us to distance themselves from us. How must we change to be a disciple? Perhaps in the willingness to struggle for truth we find the answer.

Today we remember:

The First Book of Common Prayer
Psalm 96:1-9 or 33:1-5, 20-21
Acts 2:38-42; John 4:21-24

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nsukka (Prov. of the Niger, Nigeria)
++++++++++ Reflections

Scattering a thousand graces, he passed through these groves in haste, and looking on them as he went, with his glance alone, he clothed them in beauty.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 5.

Reading from the Desert Christians

This place was called Cellia, because of the number of cells there, scattered about the desert. Those who have already begun their training there [i.e. in Nitria] and want to live a more remote life, stripped of external things, withdraw there. For this is the utter desert and the cells are divided from one another by so great a distance that no one can see his neighbour nor can any voice be heard. They live alone in their cells and there is a huge silence and a great quiet there. Only on Saturday and Sunday do they meet in church, and then they see each other

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Said Rabbi Jose ben Qisma, Once I was walking by the way, and there met me a man, and be gave me "Peace"; and I returned him "Peace." He said to me, Rabbi, from what place art thou? I said to him, From a great city of wise men, and doctors, am I. He said to me, Rabbi, should it be thy pleasure to dwell with us in our place, I will give thee a thousand thousand dinars of gold, and goodly stones, and pearls. I said to him, If thou shouldest give me all the silver, and gold, and goodly stones, and pearls that are in the world, I would not dwell but in a place of Thorah; and thus it is written in the book of Psalms, by the hands of David, king of Israel, The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver (Ps. cxix. 72). Moreover in the hour of a man's decease not silver, nor gold, nor goodly stones, and pearls accompany the man, but Thorah and good works alone, for it is said, When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee (Prov. vi. 22). "When thou goest, it shall lead thee," in this world: "when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee," in the grave: "and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee," in the world to come. And it saith, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts (Hang. ii. 8).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Is Merciful

Jesus, the Blessed Child of God, is merciful. Showing mercy is different from having pity. Pity connotes distance, even looking down upon. When a beggar asks for money and you give him something out of pity, you are not showing mercy. Mercy comes from a compassionate heart; it comes from a desire to be an equal. Jesus didn't want to look down on us. He wanted to become one of us and feel deeply with us.

When Jesus called the only son of the widow of Nain to life, he did so because he felt the deep sorrow of the grieving mother in his own heart (see Luke 7:11-17). Let us look at Jesus when we want to know how to show mercy to our brothers and sisters.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of May 28, 2007

"Lady, when on that night I left the Island that was once your England, your love went with me, although I could not know it, and could not make myself aware of it. It was your love, your intercession for me before God that was preparing the seas before my ship, laying open the way for me to another country. I was not sure where I was going and I could not see what I would do when I got to New York. But you saw further and clearer than I and you opened the seas before my ship whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing for me to be my rescue and my shelter and my home. And when I thought there was no God and no love and no mercy, you were leading me all the while into the midst of His love and His mercy and taking me, without my knowing anything about it, to the house that would hide me in the secret of His Face."

Thomas Merton. The Seven Storey Mountain. New York: Harcourt, Brace: 129-130.

Thought to Remember

"I really need prayer in sorrow of heart, more humble thought of how to go about saying and doing what I say and do. I try to act as if I were wise, but I do not have the fear of God without which there is no beginning of wisdom. "

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Journals, volume 4. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996: 277.

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

Day Twenty Eight - The Third Note -


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that they follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God's world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within them an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.


Upper Room Daily Reflection

MY GOD, EVERY FIBER of my being vibrates at the touch of your grace — whereby I am given the privilege of being your child. My joy at your overwhelming gestures of love and the high privilege you extend to me of entering into your life invades my being with an acute sense of your ever-nearness. In response to this, my Lord, I offer praises to you.

Yet, my Lord, I am often cold toward you. I forget to love you for long periods of time — and this to my own harm and regret. Forgive me, Lord! Everloving God, set my life aflame with love for you only. O my God, I long to reflect your image throughout the world so that others might observe your doing in me and themselves be convinced that you love them also.

- Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

From pages 402-403 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. Copyright © 2003 by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


As Catholic Christians in America, we’ve got to make connections with all cultures, with all our brothers and sisters who share the bread and the cup with us. We must ask, How are they brothers and sisters? Are we really Kingdom people? Or, after all is said and done, are we only American people? In this century, I think, Catholics have the greatest chance to make this breakthrough. The Catholic Church is an international institution. Our brothers and sisters from other countries keep telling us there’s a bigger world. I think we’re going to get converted. The U.S. bishop’s pastorals on peace and on economic justice give us hope. The pope’s social encyclicals are truly global in scope. Yes, our eyes are opening. We’re discovering that we North Americans just might be the most unliberated, and therefore the most ready for liberation. We who have the greatest blindness think we don’t need liberation. We think Time and Newsweek tell us the whole truth, and we are content with that worldview. We must fight that blindness with vision. The global access of American Catholics is fated to become global responsibility.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

A second birth of Christ

We have Saint Augustine's authority for calling this feast of the resurrection a second birth of Christ. The saint says that Christ had two births. The first occurred when he was born from the matchless virginal womb of Mary, for there has not been and never will be another of comparable virginity. This first birth was truly a birth. The second birth occurred when Christ emerged from the tomb and was a metaphorical birth. He thus dwelt in two unique wombs, for the womb of the sepulcher was as unique in its own way as the Virgin's womb was in its way.

In this second birth the Mother of God, who had ceased to be a mother, was again chosen to be Mother of God. Let us go a step further and see which feast was more fully hers: the feast of the resurrection or the feast of the nativity. Truly, the former was much more hers! At the nativity she truly became the Mother of God because she gave birth to him; at the resurrection, however, she became the Mother of God by recovering what she had lost. At the nativity she became a mother who would cease to be a mother; at the resurrection she became a mother who would not again cease to be a mother.

Dionisio Vazquez, O.S.A., (1479 - 1529), an Augustinian friar, who preached both at the papal court in Rome and at the imperial court in Spain, was the forerunner of several great Spanish preachers of the sixteenth century.

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


"And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing." John 16:23

When is "that day"? When the Ascended Lord makes you one with the Father. In that day you will be one with the Father as Jesus is, and "in that day," Jesus says, "ye shall ask Me nothing." Until the resurrection life of Jesus is manifested in you, you want to ask this and that; then after a while you find all questions gone, you do not seem to have any left to ask. You have come to the place of entire reliance on the resurrection life of Jesus which brings you into perfect contact with the purpose of God. Are you living that life now? If not, why shouldn't you?

There may be any number of things dark to your understanding, but they do not come in between your heart and God. "And in that day ye shall ask Me no question" - you do not need to, you are so certain that God will bring things out in accordance with His will. John 14:1 has become the real state of your heart, and there are no more questions to be asked. If anything is a mystery to you and it is coming in between you and God, never look for the explanation in your intellect, look for it in your disposition, it is that which is wrong. When once your disposition is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, the understanding will be perfectly clear, and you will get to the place where there is no distance between the Father and His child because the Lord has made you one, and "in that day ye shall ask Me no question."


G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

BOYS like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales -- because they find them romantic. In fact, a baby is about the only person, I should think, to whom a modern realistic novel could be read without boring him.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

Let a man consider
that God is always looking at him from heaven,
that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes
and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels.
This is what the Prophet shows us
when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts,
in the words "Searcher of minds and hearts is God" (Ps. 7:10)
and again in the words "The Lord knows the thoughts of men" (Ps. 93:11).
Again he says,
"You have read my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 138:3)
and "The thoughts of people will confess to You" (Ps. 75:11).

In order that he may be careful
about his wrongful thoughts, therefore,
let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart,
"Then shall I be spotless before Him,
if I have kept myself from my iniquity" (Ps. 17:24).


Benedict, whose whole way of life is steeped in the psalms, relies heavily on the psalms here to prove God's probing presence to the individual soul. God, Benedict says quite clearly, is within us to be realized, not outside of us to be stumbled upon. It is not a game of hide and seek we play in the spiritual life. It is simply a matter of opening our eyes to the light which drives out the darkness within us.

"How does a person seek union with God?" the seeker asked.
"The harder you seek," the teacher said, "the more distance you create between God and you."
"So what does one do about the distance?"
"Understand that it isn't there," the teacher said.
"Does that mean that God and I are one?" the seeker said.
"Not one. Not two."
"How is that possible?" the seeker asked.
"The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song.--Not one. Not two."

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

Holy Spirit Day, Monday, May 28, 2007
Memorial Day - US Germanos, Bishop of Paris
3rd Vespers Pentecost: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Epistle: Ephesians 5:9-19 Gospel: St. Matthew18:10-20

Coming Home: Ezekiel 36:24-28, especially vs. 24: "For I will take you
from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you
into your own land." The nationalist longing of Jews around the world
for a homeland is, in part, a lasting result of Prophets like Ezekiel,
who himself was exiled in Babylon. Beginning in the middle of the 19th
century AD, Jewish thinkers advanced a back-to-Zion movement, which in
1897 became the Zionist Organization, dedicated to securing a home in
Palestine. Practical Zionism at first could do little more than
establish a few isolated Jewish agricultural settlements in Palestine,
but in the 1920s, after the area became a British Mandate, more land was
purchased and immigration increased. Both in 1929 and 1936 there were
major protests by the Palestinian Arabs, Christians and Moslems alike,
which led to the idea of partitioning. In the post-World War II era,
Israel became a state after two local wars. Large-scale immigration
followed, and there definitely has been no lessening of tensions.

How then are Orthodox Christians, as the true Israel - the true People
of God - to understand Ezekiel's prophecy? What is meant by "coming
into our own land," for we are a worldwide people in many lands? While
the first and last verses of this prophecy speak of "land," the reading
actually is concerned with God's promise to transform the hearts of His
People by His Holy Spirit, which makes these verses appropriate to the
Feast of Pentecost. It is the work of the Spirit in the hearts of God's
People that enables us to "walk in [His] statutes and be careful to
observe [His] ordinances," and be His People for whom He is God (vss.
27, 28).

The Orthodox prayer for the Holy Spirit used regularly at the beginning
of our services, teaches us that the Holy Spirit is "everywhere present
and fillest all things." Hence, there can be no land that is not under
the sovereignty of God nor is beyond His rule and providence.
Therefore, wherever we are is "our own land" as long as we are seeking
the infilling of the Spirit and in all things endeavoring to follow and
observe His gracious governance. Most of all, "our own land," is the
Kingdom of Christ; but, as the Lord Jesus told Pontius Pilate, it is
"not of this world" (Jn. 18:36). Still, we reach its "boundaries" each
time we gather as the Church.

When we are assembled as Church the Spirit especially is known to "come
and dwell in us and cleanse us of every stain of sin," as the prayer of
the Spirit reveals. In fact, if He does not come and cleanse us and
dwell in us, we cannot even be the Church. His renewing and purifying
work becomes most evident as we receive the Christian Mystery, for
thereby God bestows upon us "a new birth through water and the Spirit."
By His action, we are empowered to cast off the idols that pollute our
hearts, separate us from God and turn us into Kingdom aliens.

The Christian Mysteries received in the assemblies of the Church are the
very means by which God "gives us hearts of flesh and puts His Spirit
within us" (Ezek. 36:26,27). This is why at every celebration of the
Divine Liturgy we pray the Lord to "send down Thy Holy Spirit" not only
on the "Gifts here spread forth" but also "upon us....unto Communion of
the Thy Holy Spirit, unto the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven, unto
boldness toward Thee, and not unto judgment or unto condemnation," so
that we "may....observe [God's] ordinances" (vs. 27).

While the Jews desperately still are looking for their "own land" and to
establish it by human strength, we are blessed, time and time again, to
experience the Kingdom over which God rules now and ever. Beloved, we
are enabled by the power of the Spirit to "dwell in the land which [the
Lord] gave to your fathers;" for we are His People, and He is our God
(vs. 28).

All-Holy Spirit, issuing from the Father and coming through the Son upon
us, save and sanctify all those who know Thee as God, Life, and Life-Giver.



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