Friday, July 13, 2007

13/07/07 Friday in the week of the 6th 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 16, 17; PM Psalm 22
1 Samuel 17:17-30; Acts 10:34-48; Mark 1:1-13

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 1:1-13. Prepare the way of the Lord.

In 627, Edwin, king of Northumbria (northern Britain) embraced a new religion, Christianity. Following his momentous decision, Coifi, the chief pagan priest, desecrated and burned a great pagan shrine. By destroying the shrine, Coifi prepared the way for Christ to enter the kingdom of Northumbria.

Our culture is dominated by what we might think of as pagan shrines--shopping malls, fast food restaurants, sports arenas, and the television screen all compete for our attention. Society sometimes makes it hard to prepare a place for Christ.

I'm not suggesting you should set fire to your local mall, but we can make a place for Christ in our lives by doing a little spiritual housecleaning. By making stores, sports, television, and the rest ancillary to our primary focus as Christians we can rediscover God's promise; and, in the spiritual wilderness of our consumer society, we can prepare a path for the Lord.

For nearly fifteen hundred years a Christian church has stood on the site of the pagan shrine that Coifi destroyed. If we make room for Christ, he will come to stay!

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Portsmouth (Canterbury, England)

Speaking to the Soul:

Daily Reading for July 13

The Rule can be appreciated for various aspects, but one that particularly appeals to me is its wise latitude in the way it encourages us monks to walk in the footsteps of the Gospel. The Rule tacitly acknowledges a certain pluralism, making general points instead of specific ones about many observances, allowing for creativity and improvement, where this is possible. The Rule is not limited to its original place and time; like the Gospels, from which it draws its inspiration, it has wisdom as alive and full of meaningful implications today as it was at the time the Rule was composed.

The Rule prescribes an equal distribution of time among prayer, sacred reading and intellectual work, manual work, and rest, thus bringing into balance all the activities of the monastic day. Saint Benedict was a genius in establishing through the Rule a way of life where the seasons of the earth, with their sequences of darkness and light, and the seasons of the Christian liturgy come into harmonious consonance, thus giving a dynamic balance and a healing rhythm to the monk’s daily life.

From A Monastic Year by Brother Victor-Antoine, quoted in Wisdom of the Cloister: A Monastic Reader, edited by John Skinner (Image Books, 1999).
++++++++++ Reflections

Enter within yourself and work in the presence of your Spouse Who is ever present loving you.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Lot went to see abba Joseph and he said to him, "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man stood up and streched his hands toward heaven; his fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you will, you can become all flame."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Listening With Our Wounds

To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not mean that we have to talk with that person about our own suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain. A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person's attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.

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

Day Thirteen - The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual's service varies according to his/her abilities and circumstances, yet the member's personal rule of life includes each of the three ways.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AT TIMES MY HEART is drawn away from your loving purpose and way. My spirit leans toward the unloving thought, the unloving word. I am prone to turn away from you and to embrace those things I know to be wrong and harmful.

As long as I continue to fight against those things with the power to destroy my life, I know that you are with me and living in my heart. I want you to take complete control of every aspect of my life.

- Paul W. Chilcote
Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit

From Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit by Paul W. Chilcote. Copyright © 2001 by Paul W. Chilcote. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Happy Fault"

We don't think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. The journeys around the edges of sin lead us to long for a deeper life at the center of ourselves.

Ruthless ambition can lead one to the very failure and emptiness that is the point of conversion. Is the ambition, therefore, good or is it evil? Do we really have to sin to know salvation? Call me a "sin mystic," but that is exactly what I see happening in all my pastoral experience: Darkness leads us to light.

That does not mean that we should set out intentionally to sin. We only see the pattern after the fact. Blessed Julian of Norwich put it perfectly: "Commonly, first we fall and later we see it—and both are the Mercy of God." How did we ever lose that? It got hidden away in that least celebrated but absolutely central Easter Vigil service when the deacon sings to the Church about a felix culpa, the happy fault that precedes and necessitates the eternal Christ. Like all great mysteries of faith, it is hidden except to those who keep vigil and listen.

from Radical Grace, "Center and Circumference"

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

The Holy Spirit comes to Christians through Christ

As breath passes from the head to the members of the body to give them life, so the Holy Spirit comes to Christians through Christ. The head is Christ, the members are Christians. There is one head and many members, a single body consisting of the head and its members, and in this single body a unique Spirit who is fully in the head, and in the members by participation. Since then there is one body and one Spirit, no one who is not in the body can be vivified by the Spirit; as scripture says: Anyone who does not possess the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Anyone who does not possess the Spirit of Christ is not a member of Christ. There is one Spirit in one body. Nothing belonging to the body is dead; nothing separated from the body is alive. By faith we become members; by love we come alive. By faith we receive union; by love animation. The sacrament of baptism unites us; the body and blood of Christ vivify us. Through baptism we become members of the body; through the body of Christ we share in that body's vitality.

Hugh of Saint Victor

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


"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1

Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died - I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or - I saw the Lord?

My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say "I saw also the Lord," there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. "In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee." Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

Let the brethren serve one another,
and let no one be excused from the kitchen service
except by reason of sickness
or occupation in some important work.
For this service brings increase of reward and of charity.
But let helpers be provided for the weak ones,
that they may not be distressed by this work;
and indeed let everyone have help,
as required by the size of the community
or the circumstances of the locality.
If the community is a large one,
the cellarer shall be excused from the kitchen service;
and so also those whose occupations are of greater utility,
as we said above.
Let the rest serve one another in charity.

The one who is ending his week of service
shall do the cleaning on Saturday.
He shall wash the towels
with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet;
and this server who is ending his week,
aided by the one who is about to begin,
shall wash the feet of all the brethren.
He shall return the utensils of his office to the cellarer
clean and in good condition,
and the cellarer in turn shall consign them to the incoming server,
in order that he may know
what he gives out and what he receives back.


Benedict leaves very little to the imagination or fancy of the spiritually pretentious who know everything there is to know about spiritual theory and think that is enough. Benedict says that the spiritual life is not simply what we think about; it is what we do because of what we think. It is possible, in fact, to spend our whole lives thinking about the spiritual life and never develop one. We can study church history forever and never become holier for the doing. There are theology courses all over the world that have nothing whatsoever to do with the spiritual life. In the same way, we may think we are a community or assume we are a family but if we do not serve one another we are, at best, a collection of people who live alone together.

So, Benedict chooses the family meal to demonstrate that point of life where the Eucharist becomes alive for us outside of chapel. It is in kitchen service that we prepare good things for the ones we love, and sustain them and clean up after them. It was woman's work and Roman men were told to do it so that they, too, with their own hands and over their own hot fires could know what it takes to spend their own lives to give life to the other.

Community love and accountability are focused, demonstrated and modeled at the community meal. In every other thing we do, more private in scope, more personal in process, our private agendas so easily nibble away at the transcendent purpose of the work that there is often little left of the philosophical meaning of the task except our own translation of it. In the Middle Ages, the tale goes, a traveler asked three hard-at-work stone masons what they were doing. The first said, "I am sanding down this block of marble." The second said, "I am preparing a foundation." The third said, "I am building a Cathedral." Remembering the greater cause of why we are doing what we do is one of life's more demanding difficulties. But that's not the case in a kitchen, or in a dining room that is shaped around the icon of the Last Supper where the One who is first washes the feet of the ones who are to follow. "Do you know what I have just done," the Scripture reads. "As I have done, so you must do."

In Benedict's dining room, where everyone serves and everyone washes feet and everyone returns the utensils clean and intact for the next person's use, love and accountability become the fulcrum of community life.

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

Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel
Kellia: Job 42:10-17 Epistle: 1 Corinthians
7:35-8:7 Gospel: St. Matthew 15:29-31

The Lord VI ~ Who Restores: Job 42:10-17 LXX, especially vs. 10: "And
the Lord prospered Job: and when he prayed also for his friends, He
forgave them their sin: and the Lord gave Job twice as much, even double
of what he had before." It is in the restoration of Job that the
Faithful in Christ discern a type of the renewal offered in Christ. We
see a foreshadowing of the Lord's Passion in the stripping of the
elements of life from Job in successive blights! The devil had his
pleasure in removing the comforts of Job's existence: his home, his
goods, and even his chattel - a thorough shattering of the "hedge about
him" that had seemed to be evidence of his favor with God (Job 1:10).
Satan even assaulted Job's own "flesh and blood" through the
catastrophic death of all his children; and finally, the enemy struck
the Prophet's own "bones and his flesh" (Job. 2:5), reducing the poor
man to boils and corruption and leaving him broken with nowhere to exist
other than on a dungheap - this surely is a type of total death!

Ah, but let us behold the renewal of our flesh in the restoration of
Job, even to "double of what he had before" (Job 42:10). The devil does
his utmost, and Job, as a type of the saving God-man, refused to "say
some word against the Lord, and die" (Job 2:9). Thus he prefigured what
Panayiotis Nellas calls the liberation "of human nature from enmity
toward God and from enslavement to the devil." As "the Lord's wounds
become the means of healing for humanity," so Job's suffering was the
precursor of the "one hundred seventy years" after his affliction (Job
42:16). Nicholas Cabasilas says, "It was when He mounted the Cross and
died and rose again that the freedom of mankind came about, that the
form and the beauty were created."

Likewise, in ascending the dungheap and refusing to curse God, Job
defeats Satan's scheme to reduce his faith. He stands a faithful,
suffering servant of God, a "harmless, true, blameless, godly man" (Job
2:3), who resolutely "cleaves to innocence" and overturns the dark
powers that would take us all. How profoundly Job models the Suffering
Servant Who was to come! Panayiotis Nellas points out that, by His
descent "to death, the Logos renewed humanity in general and made it
incorrupt along with the human nature which He had assumed and by means
of it." In accepting his death on the dungheap, God's suffering Prophet
both reveals and foreshadows the ultimate destiny of our human nature in
Christ. He manifested in himself through his tormented flesh, the
determined love of Christ in the laying down Himself for us.

When Christ our God recast human nature, raising it up in a new,
imperishable, and spiritual body, He disclosed true humanity, the
"spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:44) that rises free from the limitations of
time and space being endowed with new, spiritual senses and functions -
what Panayiotis Nellas calls "the resurrected blessed flesh of the Lord"
in which all the Faithful in Christ partake. Hence, Christ "creates a
new place for [renewed men] to live. And this place is His body."
Notice "the new place" and condition in which Job lives when the Lord
prospers him: a place in which he prays for his friends, and they
receive the forgiveness from God (Job 42:10). As Gregory the Great
notes: "he makes his prayers more powerful in his own behalf who offers
them also in behalf of others."

The doubling "of what [Job] had before" (vs. 10) even further typifies
the new Life in Christ. His daughters are the new Day that has dawned
in Christ, the sweet scent of cassia from His pure offering, and the
"cornucopia," the limitless horn of grace that showers the Faithful (vs.
14). Truly, Job has been raised with all whom the Lord freed from Hades
(vs. 17).

May we who read of Job, imitate his valiance, compete with him in
patience, that...nobly standing up to the ambushes of the devil, we may
obtain all that Thou dost give, O Christ.



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