Monday, July 09, 2007

09/07/07 Tuesday in the week of the Sixth 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, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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 1, 2, 3; PM Psalm 4, 7
1 Samuel 15:1-3,7-23; Acts 9:19b-31; Luke 23:44-56a

From Forward Day by Day:

cts 9:19b-31. They were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.

On a sunny spring day my wife and I were about to meet a group of parents who would be helping costume third graders for the school play. One mother greeted us at the door. I took one look at her and knew she wouldn't be much help. The way she dressed, spoke, even wore her hair, told me she was just attending the meeting to look good. When you've worked with parents for a few years, you have a sense about these things.

My sense was dead wrong. The woman I so quickly judged remains one of our school's hardest working and dedicated parent volunteers. She helps with plays whether her children are in them or not. I am humbled to call her a friend and delighted when I have a chance to help her.

How often are we too quick to judge and too slow to believe? In Acts, we read how Saul, after his conversion to Christianity, attempts to join Christ's disciples; but they do not believe he is a true follower. Under his new name, Paul would prove to be one of the great figures in Christian history.

Be careful of the disciples' mistake. The person you misjudge just might surprise you.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Popondota (Papua New Guinea)

Speaking to the Soul:

The Rule of St. Benedict

Daily Reading for July 9

The Rule of St Benedict, written in sixth-century Italy, became the most influential monastic guide in the Western Church. In the period from the sixth to the tenth centuries it gradually replaced other traditions. While the Rule of St Benedict is characterized by relative moderation, urbanity, and balance, it nevertheless presupposes a life of withdrawal from the outside world. The outward-looking ethos of the Augustinian tradition is largely absent although hospitality to strangers (who are to be received as Christ) is a major injunction. Listening and obedience (both to God and to the spiritual master, the abbot) are intertwined. In the many respects the Rule contrasts with the Rule of St Augustine in its hierarchical stance (although fraternal charity is mentioned later in the Rule). The God of the Rule is an awesome figure and the abbot, who stands “in the place of Christ,” is a ruler rather than “first among equals.” The Rule is also detailed and programmatic rather than a collection of spiritual wisdom.

Its popularity is partly explained by a well-organized structure and the priority given to good order. However, its spiritual success also relates to a healthy balance of work, prayer, and rest and the creative tension between the values of the individual spiritual journey and of common life under the authority of an abbot. The central task of the monk is common prayer or the opus Dei supplemented by personal meditation, spiritual reading (lectio), and manual work. Apart from its emphasis on obedience and on humility as the primary image of spiritual progress, the Rule also teaches the complementary spiritual values of stability (faithfulness expressed by staying in the monastery until death) and the virtually untranslatable concept of conversation morum (literally “conversion of manners”). This stands for an overall commitment to a monastic lifestyle including deep conversion and spiritual development throughout life.

From A Brief History of Spirituality by Philip Sheldrake (Blackwell Publishing, 2007).
++++++++++ Reflections

Come, then, O beautiful soul. Since you know now that your desired Beloved lives hidden within your heart, strive to be really hidden with Him, and you will embrace Him within you and experience Him with loving affection.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians

There was an old man living in the desert who served God for so many years and he said, "Lord, let me know if I have pleased you." He saw an angel who said to him, "You have not yet become like the gardener in such and such place." The old man marvelled and said, "I will go off to the city to see both him and what it is that he does that surpasses all my work and toil of all these years."...

So he went to the city and asked the gardener about his awy of life.... When they were getting ready to eat in the evening, the old man heard people singing in the streets, for the cell of the gardener was in a public place. Therefore the old man said to him, "Brother, wanting as you do to live according to God, how do you remain in this place and not be troubled when you hear them singing these songs?"

The man said, "I tell you, abba, I have never been troubled or scandalized." When he heard this the old man said, "What, then, do you think in your heart when you hear these things?" And he replied, "That they are all going into the Kingdom." When he heard this, the old man marvelled and said, "This is the practice which surpasses my labour of all these years."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Tending Our Own Wounds First

Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of July 9, 2007

"Contemplation is more than a consideration of abstract truths about God, more even than affective meditation on the things we believe. It is awakening, enlightenment and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God's creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply "find" a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and holds Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery and His own freedom. It is a pure and virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, but its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word "wherever He may go."

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions Press, 1961: 5.

Thought to Remember

"Contemplation can never be the object of calculated ambition. It is not something we plan to obtain with our practical reason, but is the living water of the spirit that we thirst for, like a hunted deer thirsting after a river in the wilderness."

New Seeds of Contemplation: 10

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

Day Nine - The Second Aim, cont'd

As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

LORD GOD, FOR PEOPLE who speak and for people who listen, we thank you. For moments to share and moments to partake, we thank you. For the blessings of our connectedness in Christ, we thank you. Amen.

- Bill Lizor
The Upper Room Disciplines 2007

From page 205 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2007. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Poverty Defined: Poverty as Sin"

There are four descriptions of poverty in the Scriptures. First, there's poverty as sin, emptiness, the poverty of people who are dead inside. That obviously is not the poverty that Scripture idealizes. And yet, it does play a part in the whole pattern of salvation. Sin and grace are related. In a certain sense, the only way we really understand salvation, grace, and freedom is by understanding their opposites. That's why the great saints are, invariably, converted sinners.

When you finally have to eat and taste your own hard-heartedness, your own emptiness, selfishness and all the rest, then you open up to grace. That is the pattern in all our lives. That's why it was such a grace in my hermitage year when I was able, at last—even as a male and a German—to weep over my sins and to feel tremendous sadness at my own silliness and stupidity.

I think all of us have to confront ourselves as poor people in that way. And that's why many of our greatest moments of grace follow upon, sometimes, our greatest sins. We are hard-hearted and closed-minded for years, then comes the moment of vulnerability and mercy. We break down and break through.

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.

Hope of receiving a return

All the observable works which are done in this world are done in the hope of receiving a return for the labors they involve. If there were no assurance that it would be profitable, work would be pointless. The farmer sows his seed in the hope of a harvest, and this expectation encourages him in his labor. As Saint Paul says, The plowman plows in hope. A man marries in the hope of having heirs. The merchant risks death at sea for the sake of gain. And it is the same in the kingdom of heaven. People dedicate themselves to God in the hope that the eyes of their heart will be enlightened. They withdraw from worldly activities and give themselves up to prayer and supplication, waiting for the Lord to come and reveal himself to them and purify them from their sins. For they do not rely solely on their own labors and conduct to obtain what they hope for, namely, that the Lord will come and dwell in them with the full experience and energy of the Spirit. And when they experience the Lord's goodness and delight in the fruits of the Spirit, and when the veil of darkness is lifted and the light of Christ shines upon them to their unspeakable joy, they are completely satisfied because they have the Lord with them in much love; they are like the merchant rejoicing in his gains.

Macarius of Egypt

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


"Ye cannot serve the Lord." Joshua 24:19

Have you the slightest reliance on anything other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural virtue, any set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any particular in this new proposition which God has put before you? That is what the probing means. It is quite true to say - "I cannot live a holy life," but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. "Ye cannot serve the Lord God"; but you can put yourself in the place where God's almighty power will come through you. Are you sufficiently right with God to expect Him to manifest His wonderful life in you?

"Nay, but we will serve the Lord." It is not an impulse, but a deliberate commitment. You say - But God can never have called me to this, I am too unworthy, it can't mean me. It does mean you, and the weaker and feebler you are, the better. The one who has something to trust in is the last one to come anywhere near saying - "I will serve the Lord."

We say - "If I really could believe!" The point is - If I really will believe. No wonder Jesus Christ lays such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. "And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." If we really believed that God meant what He said - what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THE temporary decline of theology had involved the neglect of philosophy and all fine thinking, and Bernard Shaw had to find shaky justifications in Schopenhauer for the sons of God shouting for joy. He called it the Will to Live -- a phrase invented by Prussian professors who would like to exist but can't.

'George Bernard Show.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be

Above all things let him have humility;
and if he has nothing else to give
let him give a good word in answer
for it is written,
"A good word is above the best gift" (Eccles. 18:17).

Let him have under his care
all that the Abbot has assigned to him,
but not presume to deal with what he has forbidden him.

Let him give the brethren their appointed allowance of food
without any arrogance or delay,
that they may not be scandalized,
mindful of the Word of God as to what he deserves
"who shall scandalize one of the little ones" (Matt 18:6).

If the community is a large one,
let helpers be given him,
that by their assistance
he may fulfill with a quiet mind the office committed to him.
The proper times should be observed
in giving the things that have to be given
and asking for the things that have to be asked for,
that no one may be troubled or vexed in the house of God.


The cellarer gets a lesson from Benedict that we all need to learn sometime in life: we have a responsibility to serve others "without any pride or delay, lest they be led astray." It is not right, in other words, to tax other people's nervous systems, to try other people's virtues, to burden other people's already weary lives in order to satisfy our own need to be important. We don't have to lead them into anger and anxiety, frustration and despair. We don't need to keep them waiting; we don't need to argue their requests; we don't need to count out every weight to the ounce, every bag to the gram, every dollar to the penny. We can give freedom and joy with every gift we give or we can give guilt and frugality. The person with a Benedictine tenor learns here to err on the side of largesse of spirit.

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

Monday, July 9, 2007 Hieromartyr Pankratios,
Bishop of Taormina in Sicily
Kellia: Job 28:12:28 Epistle: 1 Corinthians
5:9-6:11 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:54-58

God the Lord II ~ Source of Wisdom: Job 28:12-28 LXX, especially vs. 23:
"God has well-ordered the way of it [wisdom], and He knows the place of
it." Starting in Chapter 26, Job counters the flimsy theological
speculations of his friends with a well-ordered description of God's
omnipotent nature. In the present chapter, he continues and invites
them to consider where true wisdom may be found. He points out that God
"knows the place of it" (vs. 23). Note how his thought moves from
attention to God's power (Job 26:12) to a declaration that wisdom is of
God and will come to those who pursue godliness and abstain from evil
(Job 28:28).

In reflecting on the flow of the Prophet's logic, St. John Chrysostom
says simply: "God is omnipotent; He does all things with wisdom," to
which St. John adds, "There is nothing like that practice" declared by
Job: abstaining from evil. For, after all, "nothing is more powerful
than that wisdom....Reverence for God is the supreme wisdom." Notice
with St. John the close relationship that Job draws between the might of
God and the wisdom to be obtained from godly practice and abstinence;
and let us follow Job away from false knowledge to that true wisdom that
God Himself urges upon us: "Behold, godliness is wisdom" (vs. 28).

Job is blunt: "A mortal has not known [wisdom's] way, neither has it
been discovered among men" (vs. 13). How widely this prophetic
declaration is ignored today! So many now believe that they will find
wisdom in studying, exploring, and acquiring vast stores of mankind's
expanding and accumulating knowledge. Listen to the caution of God's
Prophet, beloved of God, you who have been Baptized into Christ. Since
the so-called "age of enlightenment" dawned, discovery and investigation
through science have sprouted up and flourished in astonishing ways; but
has mankind found wisdom?

The question is moot, for who can deny that the universities, libraries,
and research institutes of the world have produced a dazzling array of
inventions and information for describing and controlling the elements
and forces of God's creation? It would seem that science and technology
have indeed uncovered the path to wisdom. However, despite all the
wonders and good things that have poured out of the cornucopia of man's
organized pursuit of knowledge, we must admit that our race
simultaneously has produced nightmarish evils, wars, inhumanity,
appalling violence, and the degradation and death of millions upon
millions. Wisdom?

The Prophet Job is correct: unconverted, godless human beings are not
finding the way to true wisdom. The nations of mankind in the late
centuries have plunged deeper into the depths of the earth, the sea, and
even of space than ever men expected to do before. Still, "Wisdom is
not in these places" (vs.14) as the words of the destitute Prophet on a
dung heap and the God-man hanging on the Cross demonstrate. Discovery
is God-given; wisdom is Divine.

Many, through the centuries, have been entranced by the glitter and
power of gold, silver, jewels, stocks, bonds, and real estate. Many
have devoted themselves to the acquisition of wealth and position; but
listen to the Prophet: these earthly things are nothing in the balance
with wisdom and do not compare with it (vss.15,16). Beloved, let us be
attentive: "All mortal things are vanity and exist not after
death....for when death cometh, all these things vanish utterly."
Rather, let us heed Job's admonition: "esteem wisdom above the most
precious things" (vs. 18).

"God has ordered the way of it, and He knows the place of it" (vs. 23).
"And He said to man, Behold, godliness is wisdom, and to abstain from
evil is understanding" (vs. 28).

Him Who hath no beginning, the Father, I worship: Him Who is the
Only-begotten Son, I glorify; and unto the Holy Spirit Who shineth with
the Father and the Son, I sing praises.



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