Thursday, May 31, 2007

31/05/07 Visitation of Mary


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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.

'Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; 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 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Deut. 4:32-40; 2 Cor. 3:1-18; Luke 16:1-9

From Forward Day by Day:

1 Samuel 1:1-20*. Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?

The loving words from the text today come from Elkanah, Hannah's husband. Filled with the pain of barrenness and the ridicule of a rival wife, Hannah is in misery. Steeped in the cultural norm which claims she is not worthy or whole unless she bears a son, she weeps and prays for deliverance. In the end her prayer is answered, and Samuel is born.

But the real hero of the story is Elkanah, the husband whose words defy the very cultural norms that would exile Hannah from the social circle. Elkanah claims Hannah as whole and worthy. He even offers himself to her, proclaiming his care--in spite of what the culture might dictate.

I often make note of unnamed or forgotten women of the Bible. Here is a forgotten (though not unnamed) man who honored the woman for herself. Elkanah's is a long-ago witness whose message is a gift for today.

Today we remember:

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

AM Psalm 72; 1 Samuel 1:1-20; Hebrews 3:1-6
PM Psalm 146, 147; Zechariah 2:10-13; John 3: 25-30

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

The beginner must think of themselves as one setting out to make a garden in which the Lord is to take His delight.
St Teresa of Jesus
Life 11.6

Reading from the Desert Christians

When blessed Antony was praying in his cell, a voice spoke to him, saying, "Antony, you have not yet come to the measure of the the tanner who is in Alexandria." When he heard this, the old man arose and took his stick and hurried into the city. When he had found the tanner...he said to him, "Tell me about your work, for today I have left the desert and come here to see you."

He replied, "I am not aware that I have done anything good. When I get up in the morning, before I sit down to work, I say that the whole of this city, small and great, will go into the Kingdom of God because of their good deeds, while I alone will go into eternal punishment because of my evil deeds. Every evening I repeat the same words and believe them in my heart."

When blessed Antony heard this he said, "My son, you sit in your own house and work well, and you have the peace of the Kingdom of God; but i spend all my time in solitude with no distractions, and i have not come near the measure of such words."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Rabbi Chanania ben 'Aqashia said, The Holy One, blessed is He, was pleased to give merit to Israel: therefore he multiplied unto them Thorah and precepts, for it is said, The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable (Is. xlii. 21).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Is Persecuted

Jesus, the favorite Child of God, is persecuted. He who is poor, gentle, mourning; he who hungers and thirsts for uprightness; is merciful, pure of heart and a peacemaker is not welcome in this world. The Blessed One of God is a threat to the established order and a source of constant irritation to those who consider themselves the rulers of this world. Without his accusing anyone he is considered an accuser, without his condemning anyone he makes people feel guilty and ashamed, without his judging anyone those who see him feel judged. In their eyes, he cannot be tolerated and needs to be destroyed, because letting him be seems like a confession of guilt.

When we want to become like Jesus, we cannot expect always to be liked and admired. We have to be prepared to be rejected.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

LIFE, IF WE LET IT, FORMS US. It teaches us the varied wisdom of its seasons: the mysterious arts of welcoming our children; of becoming the nurturers, the active protectors and teachers; then the arts of letting go, of loving more, of having hearts stretch wide and deep enough to surrender — the fiery brilliance of our autumn harvest yielding to the gray yet deeply rooted winter tide.

- Wendy Wright
“Potter and Clay: Thoughts on Forming and Being Formed”
Weavings Journal

From Weavings Journal, March/April 2002. Copyright © 2002 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Silence Is Golden"

As a people, we are afraid of silence. That’s our major barrier to prayer. I believe silence and words are related. Words that don’t come out of silence probably don’t say much. They probably are more an unloading than a communicating. Yet words feed silence, and that’s why we have the word of God- the read word, the proclaimed word, the written word. But that written and proclaimed word, doesn’t bear a great deal of fruit- it doesn’t really break open the heart of the Spirit- unless it’s tasted and chewed, unless it’s felt and suffered and enjoyed at a level beyond words. Blaise Pascal said all human evil comes into the world because people can’t sit still in a chair for thirty minutes! I hope that’s an exaggeration. Maybe he’s saying that running from silence is undoubtedly running from our souls, ourselves, and therefore, from God. If I had to advise one thing for spiritual growth, it would be silence.

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.

The Visitation

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit exults in God my Savior. How charmingly and beautifully Mary sings in response to her older cousin! How devoutly and humbly she turns the praise from herself to God the giver of all gifts! It is as if she were saying: Elizabeth, my cousin, you extol me, but I do not extol myself; rather, for all that you have said my soul magnifies the Lord. You said that your child exulted in your womb when I spoke; my spirit exults with joy beyond measure in God my Savior. You call me blessed because you are not the first or the only one to praise me; rather henceforth all generations will call me blessed: the children of our children, and those born of them in turn.

But why will they call me blessed? For my merits? No, but out of regard for God, because the Most High has looked upon the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed, and rightly, justly so, for he who is mighty has done great things for me. I acknowledge the favor and claim no greatness of my own. I am indeed great, not of myself, however, but because he who is mighty has done great things for me.

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.

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


Put God First in Trust. "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them . . . for He knew what was in man." John 2:24-25

Our Lord trusted no man; yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, never in despair about any man, because He put God first in trust; He trusted absolutely in what God's grace could do for any man. If I put my trust in human beings first, I will end in despairing of everyone; I will become bitter, because I have insisted on man being what no man ever can be - absolutely right. Never trust anything but the grace of God in yourself or in anyone else.

Put God's Needs First. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, 0 God." Hebrews 10:9

A man's obedience is to what he sees to be a need; Our Lord's obedience was to the will of His Father. The cry to-day is - "We must get some work to do; the heathen are dying without God; we must go and tell them of Him." We have to see first of all that God's needs in us personally are being met. "Tarry ye until. . . ." The purpose of this College is to get us rightly related to the needs of God. When God's needs in us have been met, then He will open the way for us to realize His needs elsewhere.

Put God's Trust First. "And whoso receiveth one such little child in my name receiveth Me." Matthew 18:5

God's trust is that He gives me Himself as a babe. God expects my personal life to be a "Bethlehem." Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transfigured by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God's ultimate purpose is that His Son might be manifested in my mortal flesh.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

OUR civilization has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted to trained men. If it wishes for light upon that awful matter, it asks men who know no more law than I know, but who can feel the things that I felt in the jury-box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up its specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the Founder of Christianity.

'Tremendous Trifles.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."


The first rung of the ladder of the spiritual life is to recognize that God is God, that nothing else can be permitted to consume us or satisfy us, that we must reach out for God before we can even begin to live the God-life. We must come to understand that we are not our own destinies.

The second rung of the spiritual life follows naturally: If God is my center and my end, then I must accept the will of God, knowing that in it lies the fullness of life for me, however obscure. The question, of course, is how do we recognize the Will of God? How do we tell the will of God from our own? How do we know when to resist the tide and confront the opposition and when to embrace the pain and accept the bitterness because "God wills it for us." The answer lies in the fact that the Jesus who said "I have come not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me" is also the Jesus who prayed in Gethsemane, "Let this chalice pass from me:" The will of God for us is what remains of a situation after we try without stint and pray without ceasing to change it.


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

Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Martyrs Hermias, Eusebios, and Haralampos
Kellia: Deuteronomy 9:7-17, 25-29 Epistle: Romans 1:28-2:9
Gospel: St. Matthew 5:27-32

Intercession: Deuteronomy 9:7-17, 25-29, especially vs. 26: "And I
prayed to God, and said, O Lord, King of gods, destroy not Thy people
and Thine inheritance, whom Thou didst redeem, whom Thou broughtest out
of the land of Egypt with Thy great power, and with Thy strong hand, and
with Thy high arm." At the dismissal in the Divine Liturgy, the Priest
prays: "May Christ our true God...have mercy upon us and save us,
forasmuch as He is good and loveth mankind." However, note the
additional language of this prayer that qualifies this simple, basic
petition with many added phrases: "through the intercessions of His
all-immaculate and all-blameless holy Mother; by the might of the
precious and life-giving Cross, by the protection of the honorable
bodiless powers of heaven; at the supplications of the honorable,
glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist, John; of the holy, glorious
and all-laudable Apostles; of our father among the saints, John
Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople; of the holy, glorious and
right-victorious martyrs; of our venerable and God-bearing fathers; of
[the patron saint of the Church]; of the holy and righteous ancestors of
God, Joachim and Anna; of [the saint of the day] whose memory we
celebrate and of all the saints: have mercy upon us and save us...,"etc.

The People of God rely on the intercessions of the Saints of God in
their necessities, especially for God's mercy and for salvation, a
practice within the history of God's People for long millennia, even
from the righteous Noah who interceded for all living things upon
leaving the ark, for he "built an altar to the Lord...and offered a
whole burnt-offering" (Gen. 8:20). God responded to Noah with this
promise, "I will not any more curse the earth, because of the works of
men, because the imagination of man is intently bent upon evil things
from his youth, I will not therefore any more smite all living flesh as
I have done. All the days of the earth, seed and harvest, cold and
heat, summer and spring, shall not cease by day or night" (Gen. 8:21,22).

God reveals His People's sins, the state of their souls, and of their
many needs to His Righteous Prophet Moses who responds as an
intercessor. First, the Lord directs Moses to "arise, go down quickly
from hence, for thy people whom thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt
have transgressed" (Deut. 9:12). God alerts Moses to an evil situation
requiring earnest prayer, and the Prophet hastens down the mountain to
look for himself to see how the people have "gone aside quickly out of
the way which I commanded them" (vs. 12). Of course, there Moses
discovers the grievous sin: they have cast a golden statue of a calf and
are worshiping it (Deut. 9:16; Ex. 32:4-6). He turns directly to
intercession, making petition before the Lord (Deut 9:18).

Thus, as the Lord informs the Prophet of the idolatry going on at the
foot of the mountain, He calls the Israelites, the ancient People of
God, as "thy people" (Deut. 9:12) instead of "My people." . The bond
between us and God and the Saints, results from common union in Christ.
While the Saints know our necessities and care for us and our welfare
far more than we can imagine, being joined to us in Christ, still we can
cut ourselves off from them and God.

After Moses observes for himself what the people are doing, he knows
exactly what is required in the circumstance. This is not something he
thinks through, but a godly movement of his heart: he "prayed before the
Lord forty days and forty nights...for the Lord said that He would
utterly destroy [them], and [he] prayed to God, and said, O Lord, King
of gods, destroy not Thy people and Thine inheritance" (vss. 25,26).
The Saints are ready, willing, and eager to pray for us in our needs
before the throne of God. Let us humbly and earnestly seek their

O protection of Christians, mediation unto the Creator most constant: be
thou quick, O good one, to hasten to intercession and speed thou to make
supplications, O Theotokos.


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