Tuesday, July 17, 2007

17/07/07 Tuesday 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.


O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through 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 26, 28; PM Psalm 36, 39
1 Samuel 19:1-18; Acts 12:1-17; Mark 2:1-12

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 12:1-17. Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real.

At a particularly low point in my life, I knelt before an altar in a deserted country church and prayed for help. I don't know what sort of help I expected. Certainly, like Peter when he was imprisoned, I did not expect an angel to deliver me from my troubles. As I knelt there, waiting for an answer, an image leapt unbidden into my mind--the face of a friend I had not seen in many months. I decided to go talk to him.

As it turned out, my friend had been in a situation similar to mine many years before. Although there were no easy answers to my dilemma, this friend helped me see what I should do next. A talk with him was exactly what I needed.

If you are in the habit of praying, you probably believe that some prayers are answered and others are not. But too often when we pray, we are blinded by our expectations. We define an "answer" to our prayer in such a narrow way, that we do not leave room for God to work in our lives the way he chooses. May we pray, listen, and be guided by God's answers, not our own expectations.

Today we remember:

William White
Psalm 92:1-4,11-14 or 84:7-12
Jeremiah 1:4-10; John 21:15-17
O Lord, who in a time of turmoil and confusion raised up your servant William White, and endowed him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead your Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry your people may be blessed and your will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Pune (North India)

Speaking to the Soul:

Guardians of the faith

Daily Reading for July 17 • William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836

This [1985] Convention has special significance, for this is the month in which we celebrate the bicentenary of the first General Convention. That small gathering in Philadelphia in September 1785 met when the very survival of Anglicanism was in doubt. Amid the turmoil of revolution, the old Church of England in the American colonies had been shattered, and many of its clergy had fled. The Philadelphia Convention was composed of clergy and laity who had supported the revolutionary cause. They set to work to fashion an independent church in an independent nation. Led by the brilliant young William White of Pennsylvania, they sought to re-form the Church with the democratic ideas of their new republic. So, in the ‘Philadelphia plan’ the Episcopal Church was to be independent of any outside authority and responsible for its own doctrine, canons and liturgy. The dioceses were to be federated under the triennial general convention. Bishops were to be elected officers working under a constitution, and the laity were to have equal voice with the clergy.

It was a scheme which accorded well with the aspirations of the independent United States, and its basic wisdom has been shown by the way it has become a model for other independent Anglican churches. But it was right for Samuel Seabury of Connecticut, then the only American bishop, to sound a word of warning. He refused to attend the Convention until the authority of bishops as guardians of the faith of the whole Catholic Church had been safeguarded. He feared that Enlightenment philosophy might separate the Convention from the body of Catholic Christianity.

When the Convention began to revise the wording of the creeds his worst fears were fulfilled, and there was danger of two Episcopal Churches. You will not mind my reminding you that the tension was eased by the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The changes in the creeds were withdrawn and in 1786 William White and Samuel Prevoost were consecrated bishops in the chapel of Lambeth Palace. A sound Anglican compromise was reached by the creation of a separate House of Bishops in the General Convention of 1789.

From “A New Presiding Bishop” in One Light for One World by Robert Runcie (SPCK, 1988).

++++++++++ Reflections

How many remain at the foot of the mountain … who might climb to its summit!
St Teresa of Jesus
Conceptions, 2

Reading from the Desert Christians

There was in the Cells an old man called Apollo. If someone came to find him about doing a piece of work, he would set out joyfully, saying, 'I am going to work with Christ today, for the salvation of my soul, for that is the reward he gives.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Becoming the Living Christ

Whenever we come together around the table, take bread, bless it, break it, and give it to one another saying: "The Body of Christ," we know that Jesus is among us. He is among us not as a vague memory of a person who lived long ago but as a real, life-giving presence that transforms us. By eating the Body of Christ, we become the living Christ and we are enabled to discover our own chosenness and blessedness, acknowledge our brokenness, and trust that all we live we live for others. Thus we, like Jesus himself, become food for the world.

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

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

[JESUS’] SAYINGS ARE NOT RULES to live up to but challenges to live into. Rather than impossible ideals imposed on us, they are provocations to grow step-by-step, by trial-and-error learning, into the best possibilities of our nature.

- Robert Corin Morris
Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words

From page 17 of Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words by Robert Corin Morris. Copyright © 2006 by Robert Corin Morris. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Flotsam of Feelings"

The life of prayer is the primary school of the Spirit. What we're doing in prayer is not creating successes; we're waiting upon the Lord. We're tuning into the stream of life and waiting to let that stream unburden itself of distractions and baggage. If you don't keep jumping on those ships that cross our minds during prayer, if you don't over-identify with the flotsam bobbing down the stream, they stop returning.

Try it. If you've identified all your life with your feelings and your opinions, that flotsam will keep coming by and expect you to jump on it. Stop doing that for a while. It'll come by a second time and say, "Maybe you didn't see me the first time. Here I am. I am the relationship to always get angry about. I want you to get angry again so you can waste the rest of your morning." And this time you look at it and say, "I don't need you. Float on by."

Don't fight it. That's very important. We were trained to fight distraction. Yet there is no such thing as a distraction; everything is data. Look at it and then see if you can stay on the bank of the stream and name the feeling, feel the feeling and let it go by.

It'll probably come by even a third time, maybe even a fourth or fifth, if you've indulged this feeling for years. But after a while you notice that it stops floating by in the stream of consciousness. "I'm not going anywhere with him! I'm not going to get anywhere with her. She's not going to feed me." And then you'll get to the holy place, beyond feelings, beyond opinions, beyond the passing world: the place where all things are One.

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.

Christ, our universal pledge

The Son of God clothed himself in human flesh and in that flesh suffered and rose from the dead, in order to show in his own body what our resurrection will be like. This is why he is called the mediator between God and humankind, for while living in heaven, he preserves as his own the human nature entrusted to him. Moreover, he possesses this human nature as a universal pledge: just as in Christ flesh and blood already possess the kingdom of God, so we too, when we rise from the dead in that same flesh, shall obtain the kingdom of God through Christ.

God formed the human body with his own sacred hands, treating it as his very own work, and breathed into it a soul in the likeness of his own life; he then set it over his whole creation to dwell in it as its rule and make it fruitful. In addition, he fortified it through his sacraments and teaching, and gave it eternal life in the resurrection. Thus, the body is wasshed so that the soul may be purified; the body is anointed so that the soul may be consecrated; the body is signed so that the soul may be saved; the body is overshadowed by the laying on of hands so that the soul may be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; the body eats and drinks the body and blood of Christ so that the soul may feed itself on God. In the time of reward, therefore, these two that have been united in their actions are not to be separated.

Gregory of Elvira

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


"My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility; but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his "excellency of speech." Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God - "as though God did beseech you by us." He is there to present the Gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.

"I, if I be lifted up . . . , will draw all men unto Me."

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

YOU may come to think a blow bad because it hurts, and not because it humiliates. You may come to think murder wrong because it is violent, and not because it is unjust.

'The Ball and the Cross.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 38: On the Weekly Reader

The meals of the sisters should not be without reading.
Nor should the reader be
anyone who happens to take up the book;
but there should be a reader for the whole week,
entering that office on Sunday.
Let this incoming reader,
after Mass and Communion,
ask all to pray for her
that God may keep her from the spirit of pride
And let her intone the following verse,
which shall be said three times by all in the oratory:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Your praise."
Then, having received a blessing,
let her enter on the reading.

And let absolute silence be kept at table,
so that no whispering may be heard
nor any voice except the reader's.
As to the things they need while they eat and drink,
let the sisters pass them to one another
so that no one need ask for anything.
If anything is needed, however,
let it be asked for by means of some audible sign
rather than by speech.
Nor shall anyone at table presume to ask questions
about the reading or anything else,
lest that give occasion for talking;
except that the Superior may perhaps wish
to say something briefly for the purpose of edification.

The sister who is reader for the week
shall take a little ablution before she begins to read,
on account of the Holy Communion
and lest perhaps the fast be hard for her to bear.
She shall take her meal afterwards
with the kitchen and table servers of the week.

The sisters are not to read or chant in order,
but only those who edify their hearers.


Benedictine spirituality was rooted in prayer, study and work. Every hour of the short days were filled with one or the other and mealtime, too, was no exception. Monastics used food for energy, not for pleasure. It was spiritual nourishment that was the food that restored them and impelled them and made them strong and mealtime was a good time to get it. They rested in body and in spirit there and, even at a moment of physical need, centered their hearts on higher things. They filled their hearts as well as their stomachs.

Benedict considered reading such an important part of the meal, in fact, that he insists that the person doing the reading be a good reader, someone who would inspire rather than irritate the souls of the listeners. The reading was to be an artistic event, an instructive experience, a moment of meditation, not a wrestling match with words. Nor was it to be a moment of personal display or lordship by those few educated who could read while the rest of the community could not.

This paragraph is just as important now as the day it was written. Maybe moreso. People who give too much attention to the body give too little attention to anything else. They make themselves the idol before which they worship and run the risk of forgetting to raise their minds to higher things because they are more intent on the rich sauces and fine meats and thick desserts that fill their days than to the gaping emptiness in their minds and hearts and souls.

In the course of the meal, the monastics are to concentrate on two things: the words of the reading and the needs of their neighbors. It is an astounding demonstration of the nature of the entire Christian life frozen in a single frame. We are to listen intently for the Word of God and be aware of those around us at the same time. Either one without the other is an incomplete Christianity. And never, at any time, are we to concentrate solely on ourselves in the name of religion.

On Sundays and solemn feastdays, when the community received communion, the fast from the night before to the meal which followed the Eucharist was a long one. It would have been even longer for the reader who could eat only after the meal was ended. So Benedict, the one more full of compassion than of law, allowed the reader to take a little wine before starting in order to hold him over. The reader still fasts, in other words, but with help.

If anything, this chapter on a now defunct practice, is a lesson in the way that gentleness softens rigor without destroying either the practice or the person. Legalists too often opt for practice, whatever the cost to the people who are trying to do it; liberals too often opt for people's convenience, whatever the loss of spiritual practice. Benedict, on the other hand, opts for a way of life that cares for people physically while it goes on strengthening them spiritually.

The contemporary question with which the chapter confronts us is an extremely powerful one: When we eliminate a spiritual discipline from our lives, because it is out of date, or impossible to do anymore, or too taxing to be valuable, what do we put in its place to provide the same meaning? Or do we just pare away and pare away whatever demands spiritual centering from us until all that is left is a dried up humanism, at best.

"Prayer without study is like a soul without a body," the rabbis say. Benedict clearly felt the same. The purpose of reading at table was to prepare the monastic for prayer. It is necessary to understand the scriptures before it is possible to pray them. It is essential to be steeped in the scriptures before it is possible to exude them. Table reading, in other words, was not a way to get away from people; it was a way to get closer to God. It was also one of the few times in the monastic day, outside of prayer times, that the spiritually thirsty but hard working Benedictine could spend concentrated time on the things of God.

The point is that it isn't so much the practice of reading at table that is important in this chapter, it is the idea of groundedness in the spiritual life that should make us stop and think. We're all busy. We're all overscheduled. We're all trying to deal with people and projects that consume us. We're all spiritually thirsty. And, we're all responsible for filling the mind with rich ideas in order to leaven the soul. Prayer, contemplation, and spiritual adulthood don't happen by themselves. We have to work at them. If mealtime isn't a good time for study because the children or the family or the guest demand an attention then that no other time will provide, the question becomes, what periods do we set aside to become as comfortable with the ideas of God in life as we do the television schedule or the daily paper?

The proclamation of the Word is the sowing of the soul. It is not to be done idly. It is not to be done without artistry. The proclamation of the Word of God must become part of the process of experiencing God. Prima donnas who do it more for their own sake than for the sake of the assembly, who come to perform rather than to blend in with the tone and theme of the liturgy, do not enrich a service. They distract from it. On the other hand, the ungifted or the unprepared interrupt the flow of the prayer and call equally disturbing attention to themselves. Lectors, homilists, and musicians, liturgy teams and pastors and teachers, all have something to learn here that is just as important for our own time as it was for this one. Good will is no excuse for a lack of artistry. Authority is no substitute for education. The spiritual nourishment of an entire people is in our hands. We do not have the right to treat liturgy lightly. We do not have the right to reduce the sacraments to such rote in the name of tradition that their dryness leaves the people dry. We do not have the right to make performance a substitute for the participation of the praying community.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Great
Martyr Marina of Antioch in Pisidia
Kellia: Micah 4:1-13 Epistle: 1 Corinthians
10:5-12 Gospel: St. Matthew 16:6-12

The New Age Manifest: Micah 4:1-13 LXX, especially vs. 7: "And I will
make her that was bruised a remnant, and her that was rejected a mighty
nation; and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from
henceforth, even for ever." In the introductory five verses of chapter
four, one perceives a definite shift in the tenor of Micah's prophecy.
Whereas in previous chapters the Prophet announced Divine judgment
against exploitation, theft, and abuse among the People of God, now he
forecasts a new age that the Lord shall manifest.

After Micah's introduction, in the following eight verses, God Himself
describes the new day that Micah introduced. The Lord declares that He
shall no longer reject (vs. 6) but shall reign (vs. 7). Instead of war
(vs. 3), alarm (vs. 4), everyone walking in his own way (vs. 5),
bruises, exclusion, and rejection (vs. 6), calamities and travail (vs.
9), and pain, He Himself shall deliver and redeem out of the hand of
enemies (vs. 10).

To understand the change that the Prophet Micah proclaims and God
elaborates, one needs to take account of certain dominant imagery in the
present chapter. The primary cluster of images centers on "the mountain
of the Lord" (vss.1,2), mount Sion (vss. 2,7,8,10,11, and 13), and the
city of Jerusalem (vss. 2,8, and 10). The first two are references to
the same mountain, Temple Mount, ancient center of Israel's
worshiping, cultural, and national life, with Jerusalem as the nation's
capitol. (Note: in Hebrew, the word for hill or mount is tsyon, which
is why it may be transliterated into English either as Sion or Zion.)
The unity of these images is clarified when the nations say, "Come, let
us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of
Jacob; and they shew us His way, and we will walk in His paths; for out
of Sion shall go forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem"

The Holy Fathers understand these images as referring both to Christ and
the Church. Of course, to come to the Lord Jesus is to come to the
Church. In Christ, the Faithful experience the Church as established
and exalted above all the hills of this world's religions, ideologies,
philosophies and cultures. And one may even observe a halting yet
advancing process by which the nations are coming to this Faith that
Micah prophesied - to learn God's way and walk in His paths (vs. 2).
For the Church long has rebuked raw strength and war (vs. 3) as means of
encouraging a peace by which each person may find a place of rest "in
his own way" (vss. 4,5), while we choose "to walk in the Name of the
Lord our God for ever and ever" (vs. 5).

In the Day of the Lord, in the Kingdom of God, in the eighth day, God
promises to reverse the tragic ills strewn across the landscape of
mankind's history. The Church is His "remnant" whom He will "receive"
and over whom He will "reign." His "dominion," known in part now, shall
come fully as "first" among all earthly realms (vs. 8). If we have
known "calamities" it is not because our King and our God is not among us.

God encourages the Church to receive the pain of this world and still to
draw near to Him, for "thence shall the Lord thy God deliver thee, and
thence shall He redeem thee out of the hand of thine enemies" (vs. 10).
Realize, He tells us, that the world's powers "know not the thought of
the Lord, and have not understood His counsel," but in the end even they
shall be gathered as sheaves into the Lord's granary (vs. 12).
Therefore, let the daughter of Sion, let the Church, go out into the
world in spiritual strength to conform the nations to God and to
"consecrate their abundance to the Lord, and their strength to the Lord
of all the earth" (vs. 13).

Our Father, Thou hast two places for me to dwell; one of joy in the
heavens and one of sorrows in Hades. Raise me to the joy above or take
me below. Only let Thy will be done!



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