Monday, July 16, 2007

16/07/07 Monday in the week of 7th 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, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 25; PM Psalm 9, 15
1 Samuel 18:5-16,27b-30; Acts 11:19-30; Mark 1:29-45

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 11:19-30. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."

Society loves labels. We proclaim ourselves Democrats or Republicans, Episcopalians or Baptists, fans of certain sports teams, or residents of certain towns. The first question we ask of a new acquaintance is "What do you do?" Our job is one more label we use to answer the question of who we are.

What if we defined ourselves with something other than societal labels? What if the next time someone asks, "What do you do?" you respond, "I love, I care, I worship, I forgive"? What if your answer to "Who are you?" was not a set of labels, but a complete sentence, or a whole paragraph, or a page, or a book?

John the Baptist and Jesus avoided the question, "Who are you?" Neither wanted to be reduced to a label. Acts notes the adoption of the label "Christian" without comment, and many of us are proud to call ourselves Christians. But what if, when faced with the question "Who are you?" instead of saying Christians, we answer, "We are those who proclaim, in the way we live and the things we say, a message of good news and hope for all."

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Puerto Rico (Prov. IX, U.S.)

Speaking to the Soul:

Starting where we are

Daily Reading for July 16

As a human being, Jesus Christ was as subject to the daily as any of us. And I see both the miracle of the manna and incarnation of Jesus Christ as scandals. They suggest that God is intimately concerned with our very bodies and their needs, and I doubt that this is really what we want to hear. Our bodies fail us, they grow old, flabby and feeble, and eventually they lead us to the cross. How tempting it is to disdain what God has created, and to retreat into a comfortable Gnosticism. The Christian perspective views the human body as our God-given means to salvation, for beyond the cross God has effected resurrection.

We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places—out of Galilee, as it were—and not in spectacular events, such as the coming of a comet. The best poetic images, while they resonate with possibilities for transformation, are resolutely concrete, specific, incarnational. Concepts such as wonder, or even holiness, are not talked about so much as presented for the reader’s contemplation.

From The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris (Paulist Press, 1998).
++++++++++ Reflections

How can I fear a God who is nothing but mercy and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Abraham told of a man of Scetis who was a scribe and did not eat bread. A brother came to beg him to copy a book. The old man whose spirit was engaged in contemplation, wrote, omitting some phrases and with no punctuation. The brother, taking the book and wishing to punctuate it, noticed that words were missing. So he said to the old man, 'Abba, there are some phrases missing.' The old man said to him, 'Go, and practise first that which is written, then come back and I will write the rest.' [Scetis=Sheheet]

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Given

Jesus is given to the world. He was chosen, blessed, and broken to be given. Jesus' life and death were a life and death for others. The Beloved Son of God, chosen from all eternity, was broken on the cross so that this one life could multiply and become food for people of all places and all times.

As God's beloved children we have to believe that our little lives, when lived as God's chosen and blessed children, are broken to be given to others. We too have to become bread for the world. When we live our brokenness under the blessing, our lives will continue to bear fruit from generation to generation. That is the story of the saints - they died, but they continue to be alive in the hearts of those who live after them - and it can be our story too.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of July 16, 2007

"The heresy of individualism: thinking oneself a completely self-sufficient unit and asserting this imaginary "unity" against all others. The affirmation of the self as simply "not the other". The true way is just the opposite: the more I am able to affirm others, to say "yes" to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone.
 I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further.
 So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot "affirm" and "accept," but first one must say "yes" where one really can.
 If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it."

Thomas Merton. Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander. New York: Doubleday, 1966: 144.

Thought to Remember

"If I do not have unity in myself, how can I even think, let alone speak, of unity among Christians? Yet, of course, in seeking unity for all Christians, I also attain unity within myself."

Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander: 143

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

Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening communion with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at their disposal give prayer a large part in their daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP REQUIRES paying attention to the reality of our interconnected world, not in a superficial way but in a deep, profound way, a way so strong that Jesus weeps when we do. This process begins with our own attention to and prayer with all that God has created.

- Daniel Wolpert
Leading a Life with God

From page 134 of Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2006 by Daniel Wolpert. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Our Identity in Christ"

You have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed—and he is your life—you too will be revealed in all your glory with him. (Colossians 3:3-4, JB)

Can you move below the surface to who you are objectively? That's what our Baptism was meant to announce to us: our identity in Christ. We are called to move back to that place of our identity in Christ—who we really are—whether we've done a single thing right our whole life. We hear about it in the story of the good thief. He had done everything wrong with his life. But at the moment of encounter with Christ, he was able to affirm a place of union and a place of identity, a place of trust. The Lord says, "Because you're living out of that place, you're already in paradise." What a challenge to our notions of holiness!

Right behavior does not necessarily lead to true identity, but true identity will eventually produce right behavior. The first looks like holiness; the second is.

from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr

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

God's gift will be himself

The poor are destitute of all worldly riches because, even though they be surrounded by wealth, they realize how unreliable it is. They cry to God, for they have nothing in this world to delight or hold them but are subject to many tribulations and temptations. They are in the presses, as it were, and emit streams of wine and oil. What is this wine, this oil, but good desires? For their desire for God remains. They no longer love the world: they love him who made heaven and earth. They love him, but are not yet with him. The satisfaction of their desire is delayed so that the desire may intensify; it intensifies so that it may be capable of receiving God. For it is no small thing that God intends for those who desire, and no little training is required if we are to be able to receive so great a good. God's gift will not be something he has made, but himself, who made all things. Train yourselves, then, to embrace God; long practiced be your desire for what you will possess without end.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" Matthew 7:11

Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God's control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is notioned along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember - Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort, it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle - God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God's will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. "Ask, and it shall be given you."

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 37: On the Old and Children

Although human nature itself is drawn to special kindness
towards these times of life,
that is towards the old and children,
still the authority of the Rule should also provide for them.

Let their weakness be always taken into account,
and let them by no means be held to the rigor of the Rule
with regard to food.
On the contrary,
let a kind consideration be shown to them,
and let them eat before the regular hours.


There are two ages of life that lack the energy of the prime: youth and old age. Both, Benedict implies, have something to give us provided that we give them something as well. It is a vital lesson. People do not become useless simply because they do not have the strength or stamina of middle age. Life is a series of phases, each of them important, all of them worthwhile. Nothing must ever deter that, not even religious rigor or pious fervor. Fasting is good for the soul but if it takes too much from the body of the old or the young, it ceases to be an expectation or a virtue. Prayer at the proper hours is good for the spiritual memory of life but if it taxes the physical energy beyond the bearable, then those times are to be "anticipated," adjusted, changed for the person rather than destroy the person for the sake of the prayer. Exceptions are the way of life and when they are not, something is wrong with life itself, Benedict reasons. Benedict builds compassion right into the Rule so that oppression in the name of God will not become a monastic sin. It is a sobering thought, this commitment to moderation and good sense, for people who set out to make the spiritual life central to their own.

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

Monday, July 16, 2007 Hieromartyr Athenogenes, Bishop of Herakleopolis
& His Disciples
Kellia: Micah 3:1-12 Epistle: 1 Corinthians
9:13-18 Gospel: St. Matthew 16:1-6

Two Kinds of Prophets: Micah 3:1-12 LXX, especially vss. 7, 8: "The
prophets shall be laughed to scorn; and all the people shall speak
against them, because there shall be none to hearken to them. Surely I
will strengthen myself with the Spirit of the Lord and of judgment, and
of power to declare to Jacob his transgressions, and to Israel his
sins." The People of God had long honored the Prophet Micah, especially
those who sought the true Faith, who were guided by the Holy Spirit, and
who humbled themselves before living Truth. Quite soon, the Faithful
discerned the difference between Micah, a true Prophet, and the false
prophets of his generation. Is not the record of Micah's preaching what
we possess today and not the words of the false prophets? Micah, like
Isaiah, could not hold his peace for the sake of Jerusalem (Is. 62:1;
Micah 3:8). The deceiving prophets of Micah's day spoke peace for
personal gain - to "bite with their teeth" (vs. 5). One cannot imagine
that the Prophet enjoyed delivering the scathing words that God gave
him. It is not surprising that he had to strengthen himself with the
Spirit of the Lord (vs. 8).

Read carefully to discern what it means to speak God's word
prophetically. In this chapter Micah reveals a true prophecy, one that
enumerates the sins of society, foretells the inevitable outcome of
continued evil-doing, rebukes false prophets who speak for personal
gain, and identifies both those committing sins and their actual
iniquities. But remember, this sort of outspoken truth-telling is
dangerous as the martyrs of countless generations reveal.

Compare the content of Micah's preaching and that of the false
prophets. Micah dared to speak for the Lord: "Hear now these words, ye
heads of the house of Jacob, and ye remnant of the house of Israel; is
it not for you to know judgment?" (vs. 1). His rhetorical question
ought to have filled "the heads of the house of Jacob" with trepidation
(vs. 1). Surely, he could not bear to see the rulers using their
positions to devour the livelihood and property of those they governed,
treating their subjects like so much meat for their own cooking pots
(vss. 2-3).

The false prophets diverted the people's attention from the economic
exploitation being wreaked on them by their leaders by proclaiming
"peace to them." Then, since "nothing was put into their mouth" by God,
they raised up visions of war (vs. 5). All their prophesies and
proclamations were their own inventions. Hence, Micah noted that the
counterfeit prophets "bite with their teeth" (vs.5). Unquestionably, he
was referring to the personal gain that these charlatan prophets
received from those whom they protected with their lies.

Being a true Prophet, Micah could not help but speak of the outcome that
was to befall the heads of the people (vss. 4, and 9-11) and the
disgrace that would ultimately come on their prophets helping to lead
God's "people astray" from the truth (vs. 5). To overlook obvious
social evil and feign reassurance when it is known that God holds
leaders accountable for wrong-doing is a grievous sin. No wonder Micah
foretold the dark future of those who prophesied lies. "The seers of
night-visions shall be ashamed, and the prophets shall be laughed to
scorn; and all the people shall speak against them, because there shall
be none to hearken to them" (vs. 7).

One may wonder how Micah could be so forthright. He tells us. "Surely
I will strengthen myself with the Spirit of the Lord and of judgment,
and of power to declare to Jacob his transgressions, and to Israel his
sins" (vs. 8). Therefore, he boldly spoke out against the chiefs "who
build up Sion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity" (vss. 9,10), the
judges who take bribes (vs. 11), the priests who serve "for hire," and
the prophets who divine for silver (vs. 11).

O Master, before we return to the earth, make us worthy to turn again to
Thee. Set the depth of Thy compassions against the multitude of our
offenses and save us.



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