Monday, June 04, 2007

04/05/07 Fri in the week of the 4th 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.


Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 41, 52; PM Psalm 44
Deut. 11:13-19; 2 Cor. 5:11-6:2; Luke 17:1-10

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 17:1-10. So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, "We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done."

Sometimes in summer we come upon wild flowers scattered in highway medians. There are orange poppies and pink ragged robins, and waves of yellow daisies where the giant mowing machines would normally cut. We gaze at beauty which Louisianans call lagniappe, "something extra."

One does his duty and keeps doing it, Luke quotes Jesus. Much is demanded of us. The wild flowers are reminders of the gracious favor of our Lord, beyond what we expect and deserve. It is expected the mower will cut the grass, but the mower sparing the flowers from the blade brings something extra. This is part of Paul's teaching: grace alone makes salvation possible.

This is the kind of faith practiced by farmers who plant year after year despite drought that could end their crops. Their faith surpasses duty and touches on an obedience that may not have a concrete reward. But farmers plant "religiously" and keep on doing so. The reward may be lagniappe--like the wild flowers in the median--or it may not be seen at all.

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

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Once two brothers came to a certain old man. It was his custom not to eat every day but when he saw them he received them joyfully and said, "A fast has its own reward, but he who eats for the sake of love fulfils two commandments: he leaves his own will and he refreshes his brothers."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Clothed in Christ

Being a believer means being clothed in Christ. Paul says: "Every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ" (Galatians 3:26) and "Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). This being "clothed in Christ" is much more than wearing a cloak that covers our misery. It refers to a total transformation that allows us to say with Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Thus, we are the living Christ in the world. Jesus, who is God-made-flesh, continues to reveal himself in our own flesh. Indeed, true salvation is becoming Christ.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of June 4, 2007

"The progress of the person and the progress of society go together. Our modern world cannot attain to peace, and to a fully equitable social order, merely by the application of laws which act upon humanity, so to speak, from outside ourselves. The transformation of society begins within the person. It begins with the maturing and opening out of personal freedom in relation to other freedoms-in relation to the rest of society. The Christian "giving" that is required of us is a full and intelligent participation in the life of our world, not only on a basis of natural law, but also in the communion and reconciliation of interpersonal love. This means a capacity to be open to others as persons, to desire for others all that we know to be needful for ourselves, all this is required for the full growth and even temporal happiness of a fully personal existence."

Thomas Merton. Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979: 155.

Thought to Remember

"How does Man attain to a real union of love with his neighbor? Not merely by abstract agreement about truths concerning the end of all things and the afterlife, but by a realistic collaboration in the work of daily living in the world of hard facts in which everyone must work in order to eat."

Thomas Merton. Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979: 143.

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

Day Four - The Object, cont'd

When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of the Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

IT MATTERS NOT whether you believe in life after death or resurrection or pie in the sky when you die. God’s designs do not depend upon your assent. Rather, you can depend upon God’s ability to bring to pass those things regarding which God has spoken. The awesome promises of God depend upon God and not whether you can or cannot believe God’s promises.

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

From page 89 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

"Sacred Cows and Hot Potatoes"

God comes to forgive our sin, yet we seem much more concerned about our guilt, which is a bit different. Sin is not just something we do. First, sin is a state of being. It’s an incompleteness that we’re born into and eventually choose. Sadly, I don’t think most people want to be freed from their sin. We’ve grown comfortable with it, almost become friends with it. It pads our insecurities. We don’t know how to live without it. We’ve lived so long with our fears, we don’t know how we would be without them. We’ve made friends with our sinfulness. For example, we may have based our marriage on unforgiveness for twenty years. How could we change it? Or maybe we love to be angry. Our anger is what drives us day after day, our anger at our father or mother, our anger at the system, our anger at our work. We live on our anger; we feed on our anger. Most of us don’t want to be freed from our sin. We’ve lived with our darkness so long we are comfortable with it. Our lives are full of sacred cows and hot potatoes, areas where we indulge our sin. No one can touch them. That’s why it’s so hard to deal with sin: We’ve grown to like sin. And the greatest threat of all is someone who will come into the midst of our evil and rob it from us.

from Days of Renewal

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

The sacraments of life

Christ who reconciled and united heaven and earth, made peace between them and broke down the barrier that divided them cannot deny himself, says Saint Paul. The gates of paradise which were opened for Adam were rightly closed when he sinned. But these gates have been opened by Christ himself, who never sinned and was incapable of sinning, for his justice endures for ever, says the psalmist. They are bound to remain open, therefore, and to be the entrance to life. Never could they be an exit from life.

I have come, says the Savior, that they may have life. Now the life the Lord came to bring is that given by these sacraments through which we share in his death and are associated with him in his suffering, and we cannot escape death without them. Without being baptized in water and the Spirit we cannot enter into life, nor can we have life within us without eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood.

Nicolas Cabasilas, (1322 - 1387), a native of Thessalonica, was praised by the Council of Trent and by Bossuet for his treatment of deification by means of the sacraments.

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


"For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5

What line does my thought take? Does it turn to what God says or to what I fear? Am I learning to say not what God says, but to say something after I have heard what He says? "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

"I will in no wise fail thee" - not for all my sin and selfishness and stubbornness and waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never fail me? If I have listened to this say-so of God's, then let me listen again.

"Neither will I in any wise forsake thee." Sometimes it is not difficulty that makes me think God will forsake me, but drudgery. There is no Hill Difficulty to climb, no vision given, nothing wonderful or beautiful, just the commonplace day in and day out - can I hear God's say-so in these things?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing, that He is preparing and fitting us for some extraordinary thing by and bye, but as we go on in grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, in the present minute. If we have God's say-so behind us, the most amazing strength comes, and we learn to sing in the ordinary days and ways.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

EVERY man of us to-day is three men. There is in every modern European three powers so distinct as to be almost personal -- the trinity of our earthly destiny. The three may be rudely summarized thus: First and nearest to us is the Christian, the man of the historic Church, of the creed that must have coloured our minds incurably whether we regard it as the crown and combination of the other two, or whether we regard it as an accidental superstition which has remained for two thousand years. First, then, comes the Christian; behind him comes the Roman -- the citizen of that great cosmopolitan realm of reason and order, in the level and equality of which Christianity arose. He is the Stoic who is so much sterner than the Ancorites. He is the Republican who is so much prouder than kings. It is he that makes straight roads and clear laws, and for whom good sense is good enough. And the third man: he has no name, and all true tales of him are blotted out; yet he walks behind us in every forest path and wakes within us when the wind wakes at night. He is the origins -- he is the man in the forest.

'William Blake.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

The sixth degree of humility
is that a monk be content
with the poorest and worst of everything,
and that in every occupation assigned him
he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
saying with the Prophet,
"I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
I have become as a beast of burden before You,
and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).


In a classless society status is snatched in normally harmless but corrosive little ways. We are a people who like embossed business cards, and monogrammed leather briefcases, and invitations to public events. We spend money we don't have to buy cars with sliding glass windows in the ceiling. We go into debt to buy at the right stores and live on the right street and go to the right schools. We call ourselves failures if we can't turn last year's models in on this year's styles. We measure our successes by the degree to which they outspan the successes of the neighbors. We have lost a sense of "enoughness."

Benedict tells us that it is bad for the soul to have to have more than the necessary, that it gluts us, that it protects us in plexiglass from the normal, the natural. Benedict says that the goal of life is not to amass things but to get the most out of whatever little we have. Benedict tells us to quit climbing. If we can learn to love life where we are, in what we have, then we will have room in our souls for what life alone does not have to offer.

The Tao Te Ching teaches, "Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations."

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

Monday, June 4, 2007 Apostles Fast
Metrophanes, First Patriarch of Constantinople
1st Vespers Hierarch: Proverbs 3:13-26;
Epistle: Romans 2:26-3:18
Gospel: St. Matthew 6:31-34; 7:9-11

Finding and Knowing Wisdom: Proverbs 3:13-26; 8:6-10, especially vs.
3:13: "Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who knows
prudence." The Book of Proverbs, in its first two verses, states the
rationale for "the Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, who reigned in
Israel - to know wisdom" (Prov. 1:1,2). The verses from Proverbs in the
present passage build on Solomon's primary theme of Wisdom by
delineating seven of its characteristics: value, power, life,
righteousness, law, mercy, and accessibility. Immediately, the Faithful
will discern "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24).

Wisdom is better "than...treasures of gold and silver...and...precious
stones" (Prov. 3:14). All the high-dollar goods for which men have
fought and died and still hold in great esteem across most societies are
not of "equal worth with" Wisdom (vs. 10). Thus St. Peter readily told
a begging paralytic, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have
I give you: In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk"
(Acts 3:6). Our Lord is the value of values.

In a world torn by senseless violence, hatred, and alienation, Solomon
reports Wisdom as the power that "no evil thing shall resist" (Prov.
3:15). Living in a world of immense aircraft carriers, ballistic
missiles with hydrogen bombs, the uncanny power wielded by the media to
convince and shape thought, and the evil to which these can be used, it
is awe-inspiring to perceive our Savior as He Who is "upholding all
things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3).

Orthodox Christians speak of Christ Jesus as the Life-Giver. Thus, when
Solomon declares Wisdom to be the One Who provides "length of existence
and years of life" (Prov. 3:16), we see that, long before His birth, men
understood God to be the source of long years of earthly life and the
basis of a true hope for eternal life. And the Lord Jesus acknowledges
this in relation to Himself: "I Am the way, the truth, and the life"
(Jn. 14:6).

The Prophet David likewise teaches that "the way of the ungodly shall
perish" (Ps. 1:6), and certainly there is abundant evidence that a
morally corrupt lifestyle is conducive to a shortened life. However,
Christ calls us to Himself as Wisdom going far beyond the mere
accumulation of years: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who
loses his life for My sake will find it" (Mt. 10:39). While godly
living may statistically contribute to longevity, the promise of Wisdom
Himself is greater - "in the age to come, eternal life" (Mk. 10:30).

Righteousness comes from Wisdom: "out of her mouth proceeds
righteousness" (Prov. 3:16). St. John of San Francisco declares that
"holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous are
rewarded with blessedness...rather, it is such a height of righteousness
that people are so filled with the grace of God that it flows from them
even upon those who associate with them." Indeed, "everyone who
practices righteousness is born of Him" (1 Jn. 2:29).

Rightfully we call Jesus Christ the Word of God, because He is the
Divine Word underlying every true law and act of mercy (Prov. 3:16).
Christian Faith extends the rule of law, justice, truth, and mercy into
every family, community, and society that honors Christ as God and
Savior. Such societies are not accidents of idealism, but arise when a
people serve Him as Lord.

What happens when Christ becomes the Wisdom of benighted human
beings is truly amazing. They "understand, and...find knowledge" in the
extraordinary Person of our God Who became one of us. Yes, and He did
so that we might find and know the Wisdom Who "is better than precious
stones, and [any] valuable substance," and Whose "mercy is better than
lives; my lips shall praise Thee" (Ps. 62:3 LXX)!

O Christ...we have no other god save Thee, and unto Thee...we offer
worship and praise.


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