Saturday, July 07, 2007

07/07/07 Saturday in the week of the 5th 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.


Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; 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 137:1-6(7-9), 144; PM Psalm 104
1 Samuel 14:16-30; Acts 9:10-19a; Luke 23:32-43

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 23:32-43. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."

I have a hard time forgiving people who cut me off in traffic. Jesus forgave people who nailed him to a cross and hung him up to die. Forgiving is one of the hardest things Christ asks of us. It's right up there with loving our enemies.

One of the definitions of "to forgive" in my dictionary is "to cease to feel resentment against." It's a revealing definition, because it shows forgiving as something we do for ourselves more than to others. When I forgive, I cease to feel a certain way. In some circumstances that may not have much of an effect on the person who harmed me, but it has a big impact on me.

Forgiveness doesn't mean the other person was right or that he has a license to wrong you in the same way again. Forgiveness is making peace within ourselves. It's one of the toughest things we're called on to do, but it is also essential. How can we love and care and do all the other things Christ teaches us if we do not first forgive? A heart cannot be full of resentment and full of love at the same time; if you can "cease to feel resentment" you can begin to feel love.

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

Speaking to the Soul:

The beliefs of Thomas Jefferson

Daily Reading for July 7

Thomas Jefferson came to believe that the combined effect of power-hungry monarchs and corrupt “priests” had despoiled the original, pristine teachings of Jesus. But beneath these corruptions—which he labeled with such words as “nonsense,” “dross,” “rags,” “distortions,” and “abracadabra”—Jefferson came to believe there lay a fulcrum of eternal truth. In 1803, he wrote to Benjamin Rush: “To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which I believe Jesus wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.”

Jefferson disagreed with the Galilean on some matters: “It is not to be understood that I am with him in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin, I require a counter-poise of good works to redeem it.” Having disagreed with Jesus, Jefferson then indicated what he admired about Jesus: “It is the innocence of his character, the purity and sublimity of his moral precepts, the eloquence of his inculcation, the beauty of his apologues in which he conveys them, that I so much admire. . . . Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence.”

In some famous correspondence with a Unitarian minister, Jefferson predicted that Unitarianism would soon sweep the nation: “I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of only one God is reviving, and I trust there is not a young man now living who will not die an Unitarian.”

From The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes (Oxford University Press, 2006).

++++++++++ Reflections

Be sure that the Lord will never forsake those who love Him when they run risks solely for His sake.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

A soldier asked abba Mios if God accepted repentance. After the old man had taught him many things, he said, "Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn, do you throw it away?" He replied, "No, I mend it and use it again." The old man said to him, "If you are so careful about your cloak, will not god be equally careful about his creature?"

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

How Time Heals

"Time heals," people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression "time heals" means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. "Time heals" implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

SINGING PRAISES TO GOD involves all of who we are in prayer, using body, mind, and emotion as well as breath and voice. Perhaps this is why [the] great saint, Augustine of Hippo, is noted as saying, “The one who sings prays twice.”

- Jane Vennard with Stephen Bryant
The Way of Prayer

From page 48 of The Way of Prayer, Participant’s Book, by Jane Vennard with Stephen Bryant. Copyright © 2007 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"On the Temple Threshold"

Salvation comes from the word salus, which means healing. It is not dependent on feeling or any person's response to me. It is not a theory believed, a theology proclaimed or a group that gives one identity. It is an inner clarity that forever allows one to recognize bogus authority and pseudo-surrender. This salvation cannot be acquired by a simple process of self-examination or new insight or ego possession. It is a gift received when the will has given up control and we are standing in that threshold place which allows us to see anew. Suffering, failure, rejection and loss can lead to this same threshold.

When we stand at the threshold, we stand before sacred signs. The true helper will get out of the way and encourage us to get out of the way so we can see them. Grace, then, walks us into the temple.

from Radical Grace, "How Do We Help?"

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

We sin by consenting

The law is good because it forbids what ought to be forbidden and commands what ought to be commanded. But when people imagine that they can fulfill the law by their own strength without the grace of their Savior, this presumption proves useless, and in fact even harms them, for they are then seized by a stronger desire to sin, and through their sins they also become transgressors. For where there is no law, neither is there transgression.

Therefore, let the prostrate sinner, knowing that he cannot rise by his own strength, implore the aid of the Savior. Then he will be given grace which will forgive past sins, assist his own efforts, bestow a love of righteousness, and take away fear. Even after this happens, various desires of the flesh will continue to battle against our spirit as long as we are in this present life, and will try to lead it into sin, but the spirit, firmly established in the grace and love of God, will resist these desires and cease to sin. For we sin not by having evil desires, but by consenting to them.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"Enter ye in at the strait gate . . because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way. . ." Matthew 7:13-14

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. Do we so appreciate the marvellous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?

God saves men by His sovereign grace through the Atonement of Jesus; He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; but we have to work out that salvation in practical living. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not practised. The crisis will reveal whether we have been practising or not. If we obey the Spirit of God and practise in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us.

Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milk sops. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

IT is a great mistake to suppose that love unites and unifies men. Love diversifies them, because love is directed towards individuality. The thing that really unites men and makes them like to each other is hatred. Thus, for instance, the more we love Germany the more pleased we shall be that Germany should be something different from ourselves, should keep her own ritual and conviviality and we ours. But the more we hate Germany the more we shall copy German guns and German fortifications in order to be armed against Germany. The more modern nations detest each other the more meekly they follow each other; for all competition is in its nature only a furious plagiarism.

'Charles Dickens.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 30: How Boys Are to Be Corrected

Every age and degree of understanding
should have its proper measure of discipline.
With regard to boys and adolescents, therefore,
or those who cannot understand the seriousness
of the penalty of excommunication,
whenever such as these are delinquent
let them be subjected to severe fasts
or brought to terms by harsh beatings,
that they may be cured.


In the early centuries of monasticism, it was not uncommon for people to dedicate their children to religious life at a very early age or, much in the style of later boarding schools, to send them to an abbey for education where they lived very like the monastics themselves. The monastery, then, was a family made up of multiple generations. Benedict made provisions for every member of the community. Life in the Benedictine tradition was not a barracks or a prison or an exercise in deindividuation. On the contrary.

In the age of Benedict, however, the corporal punishment of children was a given. It was a given, in fact, in the homes and schools of our own time until, in the late twentieth century, social psychology detected the relationship between violence in society and violence against children. Only in our time has it finally become been questionable for a teacher to whip a student or for a parent to spank a child. The question is then, should this chapter now be discounted in the Rule? Children don't enter monastic communities anymore and children are not raised in them. The answer surely is no. The real lesson of the chapter is not that young people should be beaten. The continuing value of the chapter is that it reminds us quite graphically that no one approach is equally effective with everyone. No two people are exactly the same. In bringing people to spiritual adulthood we must use every tool we have: love, listening, counsel, confrontation, prayer that God may intervene where our own efforts are useless and, finally, if all else fails, amputation from the group.

The real point of this and all seven preceding chapters of the penal code of the Rule is that Benedictine punishment is always meant to heal, never to destroy; to cure, not to crush.

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

Saturday, July 7, 2007
The Great Martyr Kyriaki of Nicomedia
Kellia: Job 25:1-6 Epistle: Romans
9:1-5 Gospel: St. Matthew 9:18-26

Missing Elements: Job 25:1-6 LXX, especially vs. 4: "For how shall a
mortal be just before the Lord? Or who that is born of a woman shall
purify himself?" The Holy Fathers find little fault in this short
response of Bildad, except, as St. John Chrysostom notes, the Shuhite
bluntly contradicts what the Prophet has just declared: that the ungodly
often apparently escape judgment in this life (Chapters 21 & 24).
Furthermore, in his assertion that no mortal is "just before the Lord"
(vs. 4), he actually is repeating a truth declared earlier by Job (Job
9:2 LXX).

Mostly there are exaggerations and missing elements in Bildad's
thinking. His theology is unbalanced: he clings to his simplistic
belief in a Divine cause-and-effect in response to men's morality or
immorality. He fails to understand Job's distinction concerning the
"ungodly" and the "righteous." Finally, Bildad is so obsessed with the
"corruption" of all men, in his effort to force Job to confess his
"secret" sins, that he errs in saying that God's created universe is impure.

Observe Bildad's primary assertion: that "man is corruption" (Job
25:6). He persists in this, wanting Job, and all others who hear him,
to acknowledge that God will assure that there is no "respite for
robbers" (vs.3). St. John Chrysostom believes that the Shuhite
emphasizes these two distortions as a way "to make room for Job," that
is to make the Prophet confess his 'hidden sin' that has brought him
great affliction. In effect, St. John observes, Bildad is asking, "Will
it be possible for a single just person ever to exist?" He vainly
desires for Job "to be judged and examined," for "the son of man [is] a
worm" (vs. 6), in his view. The problem is that such an argument
unravels in light of the fact that God allows success in this life to
many of the ungodly, while men like Job undergo horrendous suffering and
affliction quite undeservedly.

Then, we come to the second of the Shuhite's misunderstandings: he
cannot grasp a possible truth in Job's repeated declarations of his
righteousness before God. St. Gregory the Great, however, readily
clarifies the difference between Job's and Bildad's understanding of the
concept of "righteousness." His answer to Bildad's question, "How shall
a mortal be just before the Lord?" (vs. 4), is very simple: "Every just
man is just by illumination from God, not by comparison with God." The
Orthodox Christian understands St. Gregory when the Saint says, "There
are those who, when by the gift of the Spirit they are aided against the
frailty of their flesh, are made to erect themselves, gleam forth in
virtues, yes, and flash out in the marvels of miraculous signs as
well." We have Saints like Job who are "righteous" before God.

Finally, Bildad, in his intense desire to convict Job of sin and to make
him 'fit' into his simplistic theology, asserts that "the stars are not
pure before Him" (vs. 5). Unquestionably the entire creation is
governed by the Lord of all, its Creator; and, of course, "if He gives
an order to the moon, then it does not shine" (vs. 5), but to impute
impurity to the stars overstates the case. How is it possible to assign
sin to inanimate creations such as the stars?

St. Paul perceives "that the whole creation groans and labors with birth
pangs together until now" (Rom. 8:22), for man's sin has disrupted the
relationship between the created order and mankind; but to say that the
stars are "impure" gravely distorts the truth. One must not let go of
the revelation given in the creation account: "God saw everything that
He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). The fall of man
did not destroy the inherent goodness of creation though the ground
became cursed for man's sake (Gen. 3:17). Why? in order that man might
begin the long journey back to his original "pristine beauty" aided by
the grace of God.

Assist us mercifully, O Thou that takest away the sins of the world, and
cleanse Thou us from all stain of body and soul and teach us to fulfill
holiness in Thy fear.



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