Wednesday, June 20, 2007

20/06/07 Wed in the week of the 3rd 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.


Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:97-120; PM Psalm 81, 82
1 Samuel 2:12-26; Acts 2:1-21; Luke 20:27-40

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 20:27-40. For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

During the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 someone asked Abraham Lincoln what he thought about slavery. He quoted Matthew as he answered, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." His answer was so succinct he was remembered for it and considered good presidential timber.

In a recent presidential debate, however, a question asked by an audience participant went awry: "What are three things you regret doing?" While one might say the question was a trick, the candidate side-stepped the question. Perhaps he missed his chance to give an answer based on the truth.

The Sadducees tried to trick Jesus with a complex question from the law of Moses, but Jesus answered carefully so that the men dared not ask more. Only at his death was Jesus silent. Like God the Father, he never said "no comment." He accepted his fate.

Words well spoken are long remembered. Today's press would be speechless over the answers of Jesus. He that hath ears, let him hear.

Today we remember:

Let us pray for all missionaries.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Oturkpo (Jos, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

Washing dishes

Daily Reading for June 20

For much of my life I’ve lived contentedly by a few simple rules: don’t track mud in the house, take care of your own, help others, do as little harm as you can, change your oil every three thousand miles. But maybe enlightenment is simpler than we think. I’ve been told that religion boils down to two beliefs: first, that there is something of ultimate significance in the universe; second, that there is a way of being connected to it. Each of the world’s religions offers a distinct way of connecting, and each of us must find his or her own way in to ultimate significance. Prayer, meditation, and selfless service are all honored methods. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has taught me that, if done right, washing dishes can serve as well.

From Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons (Bantam Books, 2000).

++++++++++ Reflections

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and faith.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Story of a Soul.

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Hyperichius said, "Praise God continally with spiritual hymns and always remain in meditation and in this way you will be able to bear the burden of the temptations that come upon you. A traveller who is carrying a heavy load pauses from time to time and draws in deep breaths; it makes the journey easier and the burden lighter."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Right Living and Right Speaking

To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God's presence in the world. What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking. When we forgive our neighbours from our hearts, our hearts will speak forgiving words. When we are grateful, we will speak grateful words, and when we are hopeful and joyful, we will speak hopeful and joyful words.

When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages. Giving double messages - one with our words and another with our actions - makes us hypocrites. May our lives give us the right words and may our words lead us to the right life.

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

Day Twenty - The Third Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries endeavor to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service which we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AS WE LISTEN TO THE GROANS OF OTHERS, we build a bridge between our inner journey and the outer journey of those around us. In doing so, we find ourselves being delivered from private spirituality. As we listen to the groans we find ourselves able to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

- Trevor Hudson with Stephen Bryant
Listening to the Groans

From pages 14-15 of Listening to the Groans: A Spirituality for Ministry and Mission by Trevor Hudson with Stephen Bryant. Copyright © 2007 by Trevor Hudson and Stephen Bryant.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"I Trust Unity"

I trust those who have achieved in their relationships, by God’s grace, a deep personal unity. I trust unity (with allowance for plenty of human sinfulness). That is why forgiveness and reconciliation are the primary gospel gifts. I think people who live in unity have the power of life and love. They alone can be trusted to bear good news. By their life together they have necessarily shown that they are capable of surrender, sacrifice, forgiveness, generosity-and compassion. Those brothers and sisters are the ones I’ll take with me into the front lines. I know they’re not going to back out when it gets hard. I know they’re not on a head trip. The brothers and sisters who are capable of membership in the Body-not roles and functions and titles and gifts and habits, but membership. That’s why we say you’ve got to first be a brother or sister in the Body before you can talk about being a father or mother in the Body. I don’t trust ministers in the Church who are not also satisfied to be members. Among the people of unity I see the possibility of a healed humanity. And therefore I can realistically hope for some coming of the Kingdom from amongst them. Jesus thus gives great authority to those who gathered in his name whom he sends forth “two by two”. He tells them in the apostolic discourse, in words that are harsh and strange to our ears, that as they enter a house they are to greet it. And if the house deserves it, their peace will descend upon it. And if it does not, their peace will return to them. If anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, walk out of the house, shake the dust from your feet (see Matthew 10:12-14). The new family of God is not to apologize for itself. God has created unity between them, deep faith, hope and love. The greatest weapon that the world holds against this unity is its own disunity, its own antagonistic hearts which arise from sin, self-hatred and vested interests. If we sell out to that disunity, if we are in any way taken in to their displeasure and their self-hatred, we have lost our gift. We must confront the world with its inability to share in peace and enjoy brotherhood and sisterhood. We cannot at any step of the way deny or defend our unity simply because they have not shared in it yet. Our unity is God’s love, and it’s all we really have. It is all we have to offer to the enslaved world. It is a life that we can invite others into. It is the font from which our own life continues to proceed. When we have lost our unity, we have just plain lost.

From The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

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

The mental faculty of the soul

In heart and mind, sinners living in darkness can be far from the body, can live at a great distance from it; they can travel in a moment of time to remote lands, so that often, while the body lies stretched out upon the earth, the mind is in another country with its beloved, and sees itself as living there. If then the soul of a sinner is so light and swift that his mind speeds without let or hindrance to faraway places, how much easier it must be for the soul from whom the veil of darkness has been lifted by the power of the Holy Spirit, whose mental eyes have been illuminated by heavenly light, who has been completely delivered from shameful passions and made pure by grace, to be at once wholly in heaven serving the Lord in Spirit, and wholly in the body serving him. The mental faculty of such a soul is so greatly expanded that she is present everywhere, and can serve Christ wherever and whenever she wishes.

Macarius of Egypt

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


"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends." Job 42:10

The plaintive, self-centred, morbid kind of prayer, a dead-set that I want to be right, is never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is a sign that I am rebelling against the Atonement. "Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer; I will walk rightly if You will help me." I cannot make myself right with God, I cannot make my life perfect; I can only be right with God if I accept the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to resign every kind of claim and cease from every effort, and leave myself entirely alone in His hands, and then begin to pour out in the priestly work of intercession. There is much prayer that arises from real disbelief in the Atonement. Jesus is not beginning to save us, He has saved us, the thing is done, and it is an insult to ask Him to do it.

If you are not getting the hundredfold more, not getting insight into God's word, then start praying for your friends, enter into the ministry of the interior. "The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends." The real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer. Wherever God puts you in circumstances, pray immediately, pray that His Atonement may be realized in other lives as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now; pray for those with whom you come in contact now.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 16: How the Work of God Is to Be Performed During the Day

"Seven times in the day," says the Prophet,
"I have rendered praise to You" (Ps. 118:164).
Now that sacred number of seven will be fulfilled by us
if we perform the Offices of our service
at the time of the Morning Office,
of Prime, of Terce, of Sext, of None,
of Vespers and of Compline,
since it was of these day Hours that he said,
"Seven times in the day I have rendered praise to You."
For as to the Night Office the same Prophet says,
"In the middle of the night I arose to glorify You" (Ps. 118:62).

Let us therefore bring our tribute of praise to our Creator
"for the judgments of His justice" (Ps. 118:164)
at these times:
the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext, None,
Vespers and Compline;
and in the night let us arise to glorify Him.


"Prayer is the service of the heart," the Talmud says. Benedict clearly thought the same. In forming his communities in prayer, Benedict had two realities with which to deal. The first was the biblical injunction "to pray always" around which the monastics of the desert had centered their lives. The second was the reality of community life itself: "We earn our bread by the toil of our hands," the Rule says.

The problem was that Benedict's monks were not hermits who scratched their daily fare out of a dry desert, living on locusts and honey. They were not gyrovagues, wandering monks, who, to demonstrate their dependence on God, begged their way through life. Benedict's monks were cenobites, community people with a family to support. They were each as responsible for their inexperienced young and worn out elderly as they were for themselves. They were, in other words, just like us.

To sanctify both situations Benedict instructs his communities to rise early in the night, as his culture allowed, to study and to pray and then, during the day, to recite brief, simple, scriptural prayers at regular intervals, easy enough to be recited and prayed even in the workplace, to wrench their minds from the mundane to the mystical, away from concentration on life's petty particulars to attention on its transcendent meaning.

Benedict scheduled prayer times during the day to coincide with the times of the changing of the Roman imperial guard. When the world was revering its secular rulers Benedict taught us to give our homage to God, the divine ruler of heaven and earth. There was to be no stopping at the obvious, at the lesser, for a Benedictine.

The point is clear: there is to be no time, no thing, that absorbs us so much that we lose contact with the God of life; no stress so tension-producing, no burden so complex, no work so exhausting that God is not our greatest agenda, our constant companion, our rest and our refuge. More, whatever other people worship, we are to keep our minds and hearts on God.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 Apostles Fast Hieromartyr
Methodios, Bishop of Patara
Kellia: Deuteronomy 32:1-49 Epistle: Romans 11:2-12
Gospel: St. Matthew 11:20-26

Fulfilling the Prophecy: Deuteronomy 32:1-43 LXX, especially vs. 2: "Let
mine instruction be awaited like rain, and let my words come down like
the dew, like a shower upon the tender grass, like snow upon the green
herb." This long reading is the Second of the Nine Odes of the Church.
Each of the odes underlies many different canons used in Orthodox
worship. All of the odes are from the Old Testament except for the
Ninth, the Song of the Theotokos (Lk. 1:46-55).

The Second Ode is unique because it "is never chanted, save only in
Great Lent during which, on Tuesday only, it is chanted to its end, and
for each of the troparia of the Second Ode of the Canon, we say: Glory
to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!" Both the first and second Ode (Ex.
15:1-19) are Moses' compositions and frame his ministry. The first is
an offering of praise to God for deliverance at the Red Sea, and the
second is a prophecy at the end of Moses' life.

The primary theme of this second prophecy is stated briefly in a
troparion associated with the use of the Ode during Great Lent: "Who
will not weep for thee? Who will not mourn for thee, O my soul? For
thou yearnest for the evil things, and seekest not the good with
eagerness. And thou always despisest the righteous Judge Who is
longsuffering for thy sake." Let us be stricken at heart that we may
turn, repent, and heed the warning in this solemn prophecy!

First, let us rouse ourselves and listen to the Prophet Moses: "let the
earth hear the words of my mouth" (vs. 1). Let us not merely read the
words of the Ode, but struggle to take hold of them with all our heart
and soul, as Theoliptos of Philadelphia urges: "do not allow any phrase
to go uncomprehended. Should anything escape your understanding, begin
the verse again, and repeat this as many times as necessary, until [your
heart] grasps what is being said."

Then, let us "render majesty unto our God" (vs. 3)! Notice how the Ode
teaches us the uniqueness of the Lord. He is: faithful, righteous, holy
(vs. 5), a Father (vs. 7), a Savior (vs. 18), Creator and Provider (vs.
21), the only God (vs. 44) and Judge of all (vs. 49). How do we
acknowledge all this about Him? By worshiping Him Who takes us "upon
His pinions" (vs 13). There is no substitute for the worship of God,
for we are "the apple of His eye" (vs. 12).

After the introductory verses, the Ode's first major section follows
(vss. 4-14) in which the Prophet details the love of God for His People
- both ancient Israel and the Church. He is our Father Who created us
and brought us into existence, both into life and as His People (vs.
7). We are "a portion for the Lord, Jacob His People " (vs. 11). "Let
us worship and fall down before Him...for He is our God, and we are the
people of His pasture" (Ps. 94:6,7 LXX).

The next section details the ingratitude of God's people (Deut.
32:18-24). Ingratitude always mars the relationship between Orthodox
Christians and God, just as it corrupted His covenant with ancient
Israel. How else can we explain the punishing arrows of God? Let us
heed another troparion of the Ode: "By fervent repentance escape from
the fire; through thy mourning, tear in pieces the mourning garment of
the passions and put on the robe of God."

Often the Lord uses pagans, secular foes, and atheists to punish His
People, to "make their memorial cease from among men" (vs. 29). The
final section (vss. 25-49) reveals that vengeance and recompense on
God's People as well as on the enemies of the Church belong to God, when
"they have not the wit to understand all these things" (vs. 32). Hence,
the Prophet cries out: "Be glad, ye nations, with His people, and let
all the sons of God be strengthened in Him for....His sons shall He
avenge" (vs. 49). O Merciful Lord, take pity on us and save us.

O all ye angelic powers, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, supplicate
God, the Giver of all good, that He may grant us remission of our debts
and release from passions.



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