Monday, June 11, 2007

11/06/07 Monday in the week of the 2nd Sunday after 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.


O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; 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 56, 57, [58]; PM Psalm 64, 65
Deut. 30:1-10; 2 Cor. 10:1-18; Luke 18:31-43

From Forward Day by Day:

Isaiah 42:5-12. Let them give glory to the LORD, and declare his praise in the coastlands.

Charles Wilkes, a naval officer, discovered Antarctica which led to the naming of that coastline Wilkes Land. Wilkes was not a pleasant man and he had a confrontational personality. Despite a long list of abuses to his crew, Wilkes was never the victim of a mutiny. He was lucky.

On this St. Barnabas Day let us recall that Acts says there was "sharp contention" between Paul and Barnabas, which led Barnabas to sail off to Cyprus with John Mark. This confrontation and redirection gave birth to the church in Cyprus.

Isaiah paints a map of all the remote places of the earth in this passage, with God going ahead as a fierce and victorious warrior. Not so with the God who is revealed to us through Jesus Christ who knew him as Father, as a patient and loving God. Except for his name on the maps, Charles Wilkes is long forgotten. Today, however, we celebrate the life and ministry of a confrontational man who is one of the church's real heroes: St. Barnabas. God can bring good out of confrontation when it is done humbly and faithfully.

Today we remember:

St. Barnabas:
AM Psalm 15, 67; Ecclus. 31:3-11; Acts 4:32-37
PM Psalm 19, 146; Job 29:1-16, Acts 9:26-31

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Olympia

Speaking to the Soul:

Blessed are the poor

Daily Reading for June 11 • St. Barnabas, Apostle

Is poverty abysmal or blessed? One of the most famous lines in the Gospels is Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Through the ages, Christians have been puzzled by what Jesus meant.

Many people act as if death is the worst thing that can happen to one, and pain the most tragic, but they are not. More to be feared are lovelessness, apathy, self-centeredness, or dread. But in our society, so often it seems that what we fear most of all is impoverishment and its companions: exclusion, ridicule, stigma, coercion, or early death. Poverty in spirit may refer to the characteristics in which people—whether they are materially deprived or not—do not rely on material provisions for their security and sense of self. The spiritually poor may be more “totally at the disposition of the Lord.” Dealing with harsh conditions of impoverishment sometimes creates a kind of intimacy with one’s own limits that deepens the soul. It can even create joy. Kahlil Gibran’s phrase is often quoted because it is often found to resonate with people’s experience: “The deeper sorrow has carved into your being, the more joy you can contain.” So the poor in spirit are “blessed” or happy—and this blessedness has a stable core that neither ridicule nor penury can rock.

From What Can One Person Do? Faith to Heal a Broken World by Sabina Alkire and Edmund Newell. © 2005 by Church Publishing, Inc. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.
++++++++++ Reflections

We have now, by God’s help, like good gardeners, to make these plants grow and to water them carefully so that they may produce flowers which shall send forth great fragrance to give refreshment to this Lord of ours.
St Teresa of Jesus
Life 11.6

Reading from the Desert Christians

A hunter in the desert saw abba Antony enjoying himself with the brothers, and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brothers, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So he did. And the old man said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man ssaid, "Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied, "If I bend my bow so much, I will break it." Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brothers beyond measure, they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Empowered to Call God "Abba"

Calling God "Abba, Father" is different from giving God a familiar name. Calling God "Abba" is entering into the same intimate, fearless, trusting, and empowering relationship with God that Jesus had. That relationship is called Spirit, and that Spirit is given to us by Jesus and enables us to cry out with him, "Abba, Father."

Calling God "Abba, Father" (see Roman 8:15; Galatians 4:6) is a cry of the heart, a prayer welling up from our innermost beings. It has nothing do with naming God but everything to do with claiming God as the source of who we are. This claim does not come from any sudden insight or acquired conviction; it is the claim that the Spirit of Jesus makes in communion with our spirits. It is the claim of love.

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

Day Eleven - The Third Aim, cont'd

Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, wo show ourselves to be true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others. We recognize that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

THE HEART VIRTUES — courage, self-control, justice, prudence (wisdom) — give love its walking legs and feet. We can describe, sometimes even legislate, what their behavior looks like. Without these virtues, love as either emotion or intention probably will prove ineffectual. We rightly expect from each other a pattern of behavior that builds up right relationship rather than trespassing against it.

- Robert Corin Morris
Provocative Grace

From page 34 of Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words by Robert Corin Morris. Copyright © 2006 by Robert Corin Morris

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Reverse Mission"

Folk Catholicism is no putdown. That’s where most of the power is. Priests often discover that people put us to shame. We study faith or theology all these years and then meet people in a hospital and find we are not even close to their level of faith. Here we are giving them the sacraments and preaching the word, and we walk in and out dressed up as if we’re the experts on religion. Then we meet saints who don’t know they are saints. That’s an example of “reverse mission.” All of us discover after a while in ministry that the people we think we are saving are really saving us. It’s a wonderful discovery after coming out of the seminary thinking we are going to save souls. It’s the way God set up the Church: We all save one another in spite of ourselves. Maybe that’s what we mean when we say that Christ saves us. Surely, none of us save ourselves.

from Why Be Catholic?

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

How we should live here and now

As a preparation for our life after the resurrection, our Lord tells us in the gospel how we should live here and now. He teaches us to be peaceable, long-suffering, undefiled by desire for pleasure, and detached from worldly wealth. In this way we can achieve, by our own free choice, the kind of life that will be natural in the world to come.

Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, we ascend to the kingdom of heaven, and we are reinstated as adopted children. Thanks to the Spirit we obtain the right to call God our Father, we become sharers in the grace of Christ, we are called children of light, and we share in everlasting glory. In a word, every blessing is showered upon us, both in this world and in the world to come. As we contemplate them even now, like a reflection in a mirror, it is as though we already possessed the good things our faith tells us that we shall one day enjoy. If this is the pledge, what will the perfection be? If these are the firstfruits, what will the full harvest be?

Basil the Great

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


"Come unto Me." Matthew 11:28

Do I want to get there? I can now. The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words - "Come unto Me." Not - Do this, or don't do that; but - "Come unto Me." If I will come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordance with my real desires; I will actually cease from sin, and actually find the song of the Lord begin.

Have you ever come to Jesus? Watch the stubbornness of your heart, you will do anything rather than the one simple childlike thing - "Come unto Me." If you want the actual experience of ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.

Jesus Christ makes Himself the touchstone. Watch how He used the word "Come." At the most unexpected moments there is the whisper of the Lord - "Come unto Me," and you are drawn immediately. Personal contact with Jesus alters everything. Be stupid enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him.

". . . and I will give you rest," i.e., I will stay you. Not - I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but - I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity. We get pathetic and talk about "suffering the will of the Lord!" Where is the majestic vitality and might of the Son of God about that?

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

HOWEVER far aloft a man may go he is still looking up, not only at God (which is obvious), but in a manner at men also seeing more and more all that is towering and mysterious in the dignity and destiny of the lonely house of Adam. . . . So it may be hoped, until we die, you and I will always look up rather than down at the labours and habitations of our race; we will lift up our eyes to the valleys from whence cometh our help. For from every special eminence beyond every sublime landmark, it is good for our souls to see only vaster and vaster visions of that dizzy and divine level, and to behold from our crumbling turrets the tall plains of equality.

'Alarms and Discursions.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 8: On the Divine Office During the Night

In the winter time,
that is from the Calends of November until Easter,
the sisters shall rise
at what is calculated to be the eighth hour of the night,
so that they may sleep somewhat longer than half the night
and rise with their rest completed.
And the time that remains after the Night Office
should be spent in study
by those sisters who need a better knowledge of the Psalter
or the lessons.

From Easter to the aforesaid Calends of November,
the hour of rising should be so arranged that the Morning Office,
which is to be said at daybreak,
will follow the Night Office after a very short interval,
during which they may go out for the necessities of nature.


Among the Sayings of the Desert Monastics there is a story that may explain best Benedict's terse, clear instructions on prayer:

Once upon a time the disciples asked Abba Agathon, "Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?" Abba Agathon answered, "I think there is no labor greater than that of prayer to God. For every time we want to pray, our enemies, the demons, want to prevent us, for they know that it is only by turning us from prayer that they can hinder our journey. What ever good work a person undertakes, if they persevere in it, they will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath."

There are three dimensions of the treatment of prayer in the Rule of Benedict that deserve special attention. In the first place, it is presented immediately after the chapter on humility. In the second place, it is not a treatise on private prayer. In the third place, it is scriptural rather than personal. Prayer is, then, the natural response of people who know their place in the universe. It is not designed to be a psychological comfort zone though surely comfort it must. And lastly, it is an act of community and an act of awareness.

Prayer, as Abba Agathon implies, is hard and taxing and demanding work. It breaks us open to the designs of God for life. It brings great insights and it demands great responses. It is based on the psalms, the very prayers that formed Jesus himself. And, most of all, it is unceasing. Day and night, Benedict says, day and night we must present ourselves before the face of God and beg for the insight and the courage it will take to go the next step.

There are volumes written on the structure and the history of the Divine Office: psalms, scripture readings and prayers that are identified as the official prayer of the church. What is most noteworthy here is not so much the ordering of the parts of the Office which Benedict himself says in another place is not absolute but the demonstration of humanity that undergirds the place of the Divine Office in the life of the monastic. The way Benedict deals with prayer says a great deal about the place of prayer in the life of us all even fifteen centuries later.

At first reading, the prayer life of Benedict's communities seems to be inhumanly rigorous and totally incompatible with modern life, either religious or lay. The monks are "to arise at the eighth hour of the night," the Rule says and that is at least impossible for most people if not downright fanatical or destructive. It is important for a modern reader to realize, however, that the Roman night in a world without electric lights was computed from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, from sundown to sunup. In this culture, in other words, the monks went naturally to bed at about 6:00 pm. To wake at the eighth hour, then, was to wake at about 2:00 am, after eight full hours of sleep and the natural restoration of the body, to use the remaining hours before the beginning of the workday in prayer and study. The difference between us and the early monastic communities is that we extend our days at the end of them. We go to bed hours after sundown. They extended their days at the beginning of them; they got up hours before sunrise. The only question, given the fact that we both extend the workday hours, is what we do with the time. We stay up and watch television or go to parties or prolong our office hours. We fill our lives with the mundane. They got up to pray and to study the scriptures. They filled their souls with the sacred.

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

Monday, June 11, 2007 Apostles Fast Hieromartyr Mitrophan & the
Martyrs of China
Kellia: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 Epistle: Romans 7:1-13
Gospel: St. Matthew 9:36-10:8

Under God III ~ Rulers: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 LXX, especially vss. 19,
20: "He shall read in
it (i.e, the book of the law) all the days of his life, that he may
learn to fear the Lord thy God, and
to keep all these commandments, and to observe these ordinances: that
his heart be not lifted up
above his brethren, that he depart not from the commandments" The
Prophet Moses reveals that
those people, cultures, societies, and rulers with the will and purpose
to live under God have a
good hope of enjoying a modicum of wholesome and enduring life.

When a people set a ruler over them (vs. 15), as Moses declares, he
is more likely to
exercise rule as a blessing if he is one of "thy brethren" (vs. 15),
does not use position to indulge
in displays of power (vs. 16) or the pleasures of the flesh (vs. 17),
but fears the Lord (vs. 19) and
directs national policy on the basis of Divine law, not lifting himself
"up above his brethren" (vs.
20). History has examples both of rulers who followed God's standards
and of leaders who did
not. The record begs for people to reflect on this passage to guide
them in raising up rulers.

How people set rulers over themselves has varied greatly in this
world, and still varies;
but no matter what means a people uses for raising up leaders, the
standards of God which Moses
reveals requires two forces working in coordination: 1) the people must
be able to say, "I will set
a king over me"- they need to participate, and 2) the process of
accession must assure that the
ruler is a person whom the Lord Himself chooses (vs. 15). The Prophet
shows that God does not
accept foreign domination or extra-national manipulation (vs. 15). It
does not matter whether
outside influences are direct, imposed by foreign power, or adopted from
some godless ideology.

The accession of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, to the throne of Israel
is an example of the
interplay of these forces. During his reign, Solomon, the aging king,
introduced idolatry and
forced labor into Israel's national life, building temples for the
foreign gods Ashtoreth, Chemosh,
and Milcom alongside the Holy Temple of the Lord (3 Kngs 11:4-8 LXX).
Therefore, God
Himself planted the seeds of civil revolt through His Prophet Ahijah (3
Kngs. 11:29-37).

In time, when Israel gathered to make Rehoboam king (3 Kngs. 12:1),
they called upon
the young king to "lighten the hard service" which Solomon had imposed
on them (3 Kngs.
12:4). They were willing to set Rehoboam over them; but he failed to
heed their appeal. Hence,
"Israel departed to their tents" (3 Kngs. 12:16) and the kingdom divided
into two smaller nation
states - Israel and Judah; and only God's intervention prevented a civil
war (3 Kngs 12:21-24).

For a ruler to be "under God," in the manner which Moses discloses,
he must not be
given to prideful display nor self-indulgence in the pleasures of the
flesh (Deut. 17:16, 17) - the
very vices into which Solomon descended and which roused God's anger (3
Kngs. 10:26-11:2).
After all, precisely pride and self indulgence led Herod Agrippa to
participate in the injudicious
murders of both John the Forerunner and Christ (Mk. 6:17-27; Lk. 23:7-12).

God reveals that rulers must assure that they and their subordinates
function in holy fear
of the Lord, upholding God's moral standards consistently, never placing
themselves above the
law, nor using their positions to avoid what is true and right (Deut.
17:20). A godly ruler steeps
himself in God's law, privately and publicly. He insures that "all
these commandments" are
obeyed (Deut. 17:19). Woe to those who do not! In the reign of the
Roman Emperor Aurelian
(AD 270-275), the God-hating governor of Pamphylia tortured Bishop
Alexander of Side with
iron flails, tried to execute him by fire and wild beasts, and finally
beheaded him. However, as
soon as he sentenced Alexander an evil spirit drove him rabid and
wrested his soul from him.

May the nations fear Thy Name, O Lord, and all the kings of earth
Thy glory.



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