Thursday, July 19, 2007

19/07/07 Thursday in the week of 7th Sunday after Pentecost


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 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
1 Samuel 20:24-42; Acts 13:1-12; Mark 2:23-3:6

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 13:1-12. The Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

It is not always easy to know what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. Listening for that call reminds me of a scene in Chariots of Fire where a group of students is exhorted to "discover where your chance of greatness lies."

The Holy Spirit calls us to look inward and discover where our chance of being a Christian lies. What gifts has God bestowed upon each of us? How can we use those gifts to his service? Some are blessed with the gift of music, others with the ability to reach children; some are endowed with the vision of leadership, some with the strength for physical labor. Others' talents are artistic or intellectual. Yet all can find a way to serve God.

Many people have discovered their "God-given talent" and use that talent for the betterment of their community, without concern for personal gain. So often these people possess a combination of passion and compassion that lets us know they are driven by a higher power. Into each of us God has placed potential, and to each of us he will present opportunities to use that potential for his service.

Today we remember:

Psalm 119:97-104
Ecclesiasticus 51:13-22; Matthew 11:27-30

Merciful God, who called your servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of your grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after your wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, 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 Qu'Appelle (Rupert's Land, Canada)

Speaking to the Soul:

One human family

Daily Reading for July 19

Among the many important questions which have been brought before the public, there is none that more vitally affects the whole human family than that which is technically called Woman’s Rights....The world waits the coming of some new element, some purifying power, some spirit of mercy and love. The voice of woman has been silenced in the state, the church, and the home, but man cannot fulfill his destiny alone, he cannot redeem his race unaided. There are deep and tender chords of sympathy and love in the heart of the down-fallen and oppressed that woman can touch more skillfully than man. . . God, in his wisdom has so linked the whole human family together that any violence done at one end of the chain is felt throughout its length, and here, too, is the law of restoration, as in woman all have fallen, so in her elevation shall the race be recreated.

From Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s first public address to the First Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19, 1848. Quoted in A Year With American Saints by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber. Copyright © 2006. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.
++++++++++ Reflections

I should like to respond by spending my earthly life as Our Lady did ... I unite myself to the soul of the Virgin at the moment in which the Father was covering her with His shadow, while the Word was taking flesh within her and the Holy Spirit came upon her to accomplish this great mystery.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of Abba Helladius that he spent twenty years in the Cells, without ever raising his eyes to see the roof of the church.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Recognizing Christ in Suffering Communities

Communities as well as individuals suffer. All over the world there are large groups of people who are persecuted, mistreated, abused, and made victims of horrendous crimes. There are suffering families, suffering circles of friends, suffering religious communities, suffering ethnic groups, and suffering nations. In these suffering bodies of people we must be able to recognise the suffering Christ. They too are chosen, blessed, broken and given to the world.

As we call one another to respond to the cries of these people and work together for justice and peace, we are caring for Christ, who suffered and died for the salvation of our world.

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

Day Nineteen - The Third Way of Service - Work

Jesus took on himself the form of a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He went about doing good: healing the sick, preaching good news to the poor, and binding up the broken hearted.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

WHAT KIND OF LIFE does my heart want? I find no easy answers to that question, but I know the answer means giving up the fantasy of always moving forward and allowing instead for seasons of dormancy. And it is always time to listen. Perhaps the heart’s single greatest desire is to listen attentively to the voice of God speaking through scripture, nature, daily events, and the kind of reflection that leads to expanding self-knowledge. … My heart wants the kind of life that leaves room for God.

- Elizabeth J. Canham
Heart Whispers

From p. 148 of Heart Whispers: Benedictine Wisdom for Today by Elizabeth J. Canham. Copyright © 1999 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Mellow Seventy-Year-Olds"

I hope you have met a man who has become one of those mellow seventy-year-olds. Ive met a few, not enough really. Its a shame we expect people in their seventies to be crotchety and set in their ways; it should be just the opposite. When you have met him, you know you have met a great person. Hes the real image of the grandfather or wise man, who can sit on the edge of the family and offer it security and caution. He doesnt stifle others with closedness and rigidity, dogmatic political opinions, or an Archie Bunker worldview. Rather, he offers a worldview in which we will feel both safe and adventurous. Because most fathers dont have that kind of grandfather around, they bear the whole burden of life alone. They end up eventually becoming crotchety grandfathers themselves, and move to a better climate to find the sunshine. We have to change this whole cycle. There has to be a different way. No civilization has survived spiritually unless the elders saw it as their central task to pass on wisdom to the young.

from A Mans Approach to God

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

Restraining the tongue

The tongue should be prudently restrained, but not completely tied up. It is written: Whoever is wise will keep silence until the right moment. In other words, when it is seen that speech would be opportune the censorship of silence is relaxed, and an effort made to speak some appropriate word. Elsewhere it is written: There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak. Different circumstances should be prudently judged; the tongue should not be unprofitably loosened in speech when it ought to be restrained; nor should it indolently withhold speech when it could speak with profit. Reflecting well upon these things, the psalmist says: Set a guard overy my mouth, O Lord, and a door of discretion before my lips. He does not ask for a wall to be set before his lips but a door, in other words, something that can be opened and closed. We must take care to learn, then, when we should discreetly and at the proper time open our mouths to speak, and when we should keep them closed and preserve a fitting silence.

Gregory the Great

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


"Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." John 13:13

Our Lord never insists on having authority; He never says - Thou shalt. He leaves us perfectly free - so free that we can spit in His face, as men did; so free that we can put Him to death, as men did; and He will never say a word. But when His life has been created in me by His Redemption I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a moral domination - "Thou art worthy . . ." It is only the unworthy in me that refuses to bow down to the worthy. If when I meet a man who is more holy than myself, I do not recognize his worthiness and obey what comes through him, it is a revelation of the unworthy in me. God educates us by means of people who are a little better than we are, not intellectually but "holily," until we get under the domination of the Lord Himself, and then the whole attitude of the life is one of obedience to Him.

If Our Lord insisted upon obedience He would become a taskmaster, and He would cease to have any authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we do see Him we obey Him instantly, He is easily Lord, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The revelation of my growth in grace is the way in which I look upon obedience. We have to rescue the word "obedience" from the mire. Obedience is only possible between equals; it is the relationship between father and son, not between master and servant. "I and My Father are one." "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." The Son's obedience was as Redeemer, because He was Son, not in order to be Son.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink

"Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that" (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others' sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.

If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
We read
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2).

But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.


The Rule of Benedict does not pretend to know the sacrifices that each of us needs to make in life. A tale from the Sufi may explain why, in the face of multiple spiritual disciplines, all of which specify many and sundry exercises as basic to the spiritual life, Benedict avoids this road of defined penances. "How shall we ever change," the disciples asked, "if we have no goals?" And the master said, "Change that is real is change that is not willed. Face reality and unwilled change will happen."

It is so easy to make cosmetic changes in the name of religion. It is so easy to make up rules and keep them so that we can feel good about doing something measurable in the spiritual life. We can fast and fast and fast from food or drink and nothing changes because fasting from food is not what we really need at that moment to turn our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. We can kneel and kneel and kneel but nothing changes because kneeling is not what we need to soften our souls just then. We can fast and kneel and tithe and nothing changes because we do not really want anything to change.

Growth is not an accident. Growth is a process. We have to want to grow. We have to will to move away the stones that entomb us in ourselves. We have to work at uprooting the weeds that are smothering good growth in ourselves. Benedict doesn't tell us how much to eat. He simply provides the food and trusts us to make a choice to discipline ourselves somehow, someway, so that we do not sink into a mire of self-satisfaction so thick that there is no rescue for our sated souls.

The Rule of Benedict devotes itself more to the virtue of moderation than it does to the anesthetizing of the soul that can come with mortification. To forego a thing completely is to prepare to forget it. If I never eat another piece of chocolate, I may forget all about chocolate but I may also soon substitute something even more dangerous for its taste: drugs, consumerism, a hardened selfishness. To do something commonly but to do it in right proportion, on the other hand, is to win the struggle with it every day. To have one handful of salted peanuts, one piece of chocolate, one glass of wine in the midst of plenty, one car in a culture that counts its wealth in two-car garages, now that is mortification. Benedict knows that culture dictates the use of many things in life. What he cares about is that we control them rather than allowing them to control us.

If Benedictine spirituality understands anything about life at all, it understands the corrosive effects of constant complaining. Complaining is the acid that shrivels our own souls and the soul of the community around us, as well. Complaining is what shapes our mental set. Feelings, psychology tells us, do not affect thoughts. Thoughts affect feelings. What we allow ourselves to think is what we are really allowing ourselves to feel. When we learn how to correct our thought processes, then, we learn not only how to stabilize our own emotions but how to change the environment around us at the same time. What we see as negative we make negative and feel negative about. What we are willing to think about in a positive way becomes positive.

Complaining, in other words, undermines the hope of a community and smothers possibility in a group. The whiner, the constant critic, the armchair complainer make an office, a family, a department, a community a polluted place to be. What we accept wholeheartedly that fails, we can always correct. What we condemn to failure before we have ever really tried to accept it, is not corrected; it is doomed to an untimely and, more than likely, an unnecessary death.

Benedictine spirituality tells us to open our hearts and our minds to let grace come in from unlikely places, without preplanning and prejudgments. "When there is no desire," the Tao Te Ching instructs, "all things are at peace."


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

Thursday, July 19, 2007 The Venerable
Macrina, Sister of Basil the Great
Kellia: Micah 6:1-8 Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7
Gospel: St. Matthew16:24-28

The Lord's Case: Micah 6:1-8, especially vs. 2: "Hear ye, O mountains,
the controversy of the Lord, and ye valleys even the foundations of the
earth: for the Lord has a controversy with His people, and will plead
with Israel." If one carefully examines the first five chapters of
Micah, he soon sees the grounds for the Lord's "controversy with His
People" (vs. 2). Through Micah's first prophecies, the Lord itemizes
His indictment against His People, referring to the capitols of their
two countries metaphorically - Samaria for the northern tribes and
Jerusalem, in the south, for Judah (Micah 1:5). Using the capitols is a
way to condemns the leaders of both nations, not only for condoning but
actually joining in idolatrous worship (Micah 1:7). Also, the leaders
use their wealth and position to exploit the disadvantaged (Micah 2:2),
cloak their misdeeds behind the lying words of false prophets (Micah
3:4,5), and despise God's supreme and available counsel (Micah 4:9).
However, God promises the coming of His Christ (5:2-4), to rescue the
faithful remnant of His People from despair (Micah 5:5-8). He will
correct a host of wrongs.

Thus, through Micah, the Lord has presented the charges in His case -
the evidence for His controversy. Yet, He does not rest His case merely
on a catalog of wrong doings. He asks, He probes, He penetrates into
the heart of His controversy: "O My people, what have I done to thee? or
wherein have I grieved thee? or wherein have I troubled thee? answer Me"
(Micah 6:3). He condemns them for the additional sin of ingratitude in
the face of all He has done for them.

Then in chapter six, the Lord reviews His own faithfulness: "I brought
thee up out of the land of Egypt" (vs. 4), an action He had promised to
Abraham centuries before (Gen. 15:13-16). The return to the Promised
Land He achieved not as a simple journey, but as redemption from
slavery. He ended the bondage of His People to their Egyptian masters.
He gave them the great Seer, Moses, who led them from Egypt to the
border of the Promised land, and through whom the Lord made His covenant
with them at Mt. Horeb. He provided them with a Priesthood and right
worship in Aaron, and gave them a Prophetess and leader for the women in
Miriam (vs. 4).

If there were any uncertainty about the righteousness of God's suit, the
Lord next refers to the attempt of Balak, King of the Moabites, to have
God's Prophet, Balaam, curse Israel (vs. 5). The People would recall
Balaam's repeated failures to please Balak, for he could only say, "God
is not a man to waver; shall He say and not perform?....Behold, I have
received commandment to bless: I will bless and not turn back....the
Lord his God is with him [Israel] (Num. 23:19-21).

One can appreciate that after the People were confronted with the
breadth and depth of the Lord's controversy with their sins that they
would desperately try to appease God, to "reach the Lord, and lay hold
of [their] God most reach Him with whole-burnt-offerings, with
calves of a year old" (vs. 6). But God will not accept a set of rituals
as a way out of such serious sins. Animal sacrifices and offerings will
not settle the controversy when "ungodliness...[and] the sin of...soul"
are involved. The resolution must be much deeper. Listen, holy
brethren, God's reply in His suit applies to ancient Israel, and also
to the Church and her members.

"Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? or what does the Lord
require of thee, but to do justice, and love mercy, and be ready to walk
with the Lord thy God" (vs. 8). The Masoretic based texts replace the
LXX's "be ready to walk" with "walk humbly". But we must be deeply
prepared within us to walk humbly with God. We must be noetically
ready, pure in the center of our heart. Let us seek the Holy Spirit,
pleading to be prepared to walk with God.

O merciful Lord, look down from the height of Thy holy dwelling place on
us who await Thy rich mercy. Visit us with Thy goodness, and confirm
our life in Thy holy commandments.



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