Wednesday, July 25, 2007

25/07/07 Tuesday in the week of the Eighth 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.

O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; 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 119:49-72; PM Psalm 49, [53]
1 Samuel 25:23-44; Acts 14:19-28; Mark 4:35-41

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 53. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."

I have friends who don't believe in God and they're not happier because of it. They don't object to my faith, but they don't share it. I invite them to come to church; they politely decline. When their lives are going well, they give credit to themselves or those around them. When things go wrong, they often suffer deeply--feeling betrayed, unloved, and alone. I'm not saying these friends are fools, but what do I lose by believing in God?

I gain a sense of wonder, of being a part of something much bigger than myself, something so vast I can't begin to comprehend it. I gain a sense of safety and security, a feeling of being loved even in my worst moments. I gain a source of strength. And yes, I gain doubt, for belief and doubt go hand in hand.

When I look at the beauty of the world, the infinite majesty of creation, and the limitless power of human love, how can I not believe? When I see the vast scale of human suffering, man's inhumanity to man, how can I not doubt? Some would call me a fool for believing, others would call me a fool for doubting; but I do both, and my life is richer because of it.

Today we remember:

St. James the Apostle
AM Psalm 34; Jeremiah 16:14-21; Mark 1:14-20
PM Psalm 33; Jeremiah 26:1-15; Matthew 10:16-32

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Recife (Brazil)

Speaking to the Soul:

St. James the Apostle

Daily Reading for July 25 • St. James the Apostle

The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the History of the Apostles’ Acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle’s extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at this feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. These events took place A.D. 44.

From Fox’s Book of Martyrs (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1926).

++++++++++ Reflections

In giving us His Son, His only Word (for He possesses no other), God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and He has no more to say ... because what He spoke before to the prophets in parts, He has now spoken all at once by giving us the All who is His Son.

St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

(Abba Isaiah) said to those who were making a good beginning by putting themselves under the direction of the holy Fathers, 'As with purple dye, the first colouring is never lost.' And, 'Just as young shoots are easily trained back and bent, so it is with beginners who live in submission.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Digging Into Our Spiritual Resources

When someone hurts us, offends us, ignores us, or rejects us, a deep inner protest emerges. It can be rage or depression, desire to take revenge or an impulse to harm ourselves. We can feel a deep urge to wound those who have wounded us or to withdraw in a suicidal mood of self-rejection. Although these extreme reactions might seem exceptional, they are never far away from our hearts. During the long nights we often find ourselves brooding about words and actions we might have used in response to what others have said or done to us.

It is precisely here that we have to dig deep into our spiritual resources and find the center within us, the center that lies beyond our need to hurt others or ourselves, where we are free to forgive and love.

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

Day Twenty Five - The Second Note -


Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) Love is the distinguishing feature of all true disciples of Christ who wish to dedicate themselves to him as his servants.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

God Searches for Us
July 25th, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

WE DO NOT NEED to beg God to have mercy on us, because we have already been told that God is love. From before the beginning of time, God has had mercy on us and longed for our response. These forms of prayer are, indeed, ancient liturgical phrases, still widely used in our liturgies as well as in our personal prayers. The problem with them, however, is that they imply that it is God who will change when we pray. This implication can arouse a deep inner fear that a God who has asked to hear us or to have mercy might, after all, be sometimes deaf or merciless. The more we repeat these prayers, the deeper our fear might go.

We do not need to search for God, because it is God who forever searches for us. It is God who says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” (Rev. 3:20).

- Flora Slosson Wuellner
Prayer and Our Bodies

From pages 52-53 of Prayer and Our Bodies by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 1987 by the author. Published by Upper Room books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Wax Wings"

Our shadow is somehow the other side of our gift. If Mercury is our gift-image, I guess I would have to say that Icarus is our shadow-image. As you may remember, Icarus is the other mythological son with wings, but his inflated self-image leads him to fly too close to the sun, revealing and melting the wax that holds his wings together. His pride, his non-listening, his false self-assurance are shown forth as he crashes into the sea.

In our case, Icarus is the American Catholic Church that is more American than Catholic, more individualistic than communitarian, more anti-authoritarian than authoritative, more psychological than radically gospel, more into freedom of choice than the real and discilplined freedom of the children of God. The wax of such wings is sure to melt because it is not gospel. Our shadowy tendencies are very difficult to describe and very hard not to be defensive about. I ask you to pray for the grace and gift of ego-detachment, so we can all move to a wider and wiser place where the future of the American Catholic Church can reveal itself.

from "The Future of the American Church"

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

James, the apostle

We salute you, James, fervent preacher of the gospel truth, who with Peter and John hold the highest position and the chief dignity among the apostles. We salute you, as one who drank Christ's cup in advance of your fellow disciples, and were baptized with the baptism of your Savior as he promised you, and are adorned with the double crown of apostle and martyr!

We salute you, blessed eyewitness of the Word, you who see God, for you have changed one fishing-ground for another, one desire for another, and one inheritance for another; in place of things unstable you have gained those that last, and in place of an earthly passing world you have gained a changeless heavenly world.

We salute you who, as you formerly had direct physical contact with the God-man on earth, so do you now, united with him in spirit, converse with him face to face in heaven.

Nicetas of Paphlagonia

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


Blessed are . . ." Matthew 5:3-10

When we first read the statements of Jesus they seem wonderfully simple and unstartling, and they sink unobserved into our unconscious minds. For instance, the Beatitudes seem merely mild and beautiful precepts for all unworldly and useless people, but of very little practical use in the stern workaday world in which we live. We soon find, however, that the Beatitudes contain the dynamite of the Holy Ghost. They explode, as it were, when the circumstances of our lives cause them to do so. When the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance one of these Beatitudes we say - 'What a startling statement that is!' and we have to decide whether we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words. That is the way the Spirit of God works. We do not need to be born again to apply the Sermon on the Mount literally. The literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount is child's play; the interpretation by the Spirit of God as He applies Our Lord's statements to our circumstances is the stern work of a saint.

The teaching of Jesus is out of all proportion to our natural way of looking at things and it comes with astonishing discomfort to begin with. We have slowly to form our walk and conversation on the line of the precepts of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit applies them to our circumstances. The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of rules and regulations: it is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory

When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.

But boys for such faults shall be whipped.

Sr. Gloriamarie's Commentary: In reading this I wish that the website with Sr. Joan Chitister's commentary were up to date as I am certain Sr. would have something practical to say about this passage. I myself find I have only 2 thoughts.

The first is that the Divine Office is to be taken seriously. We are to concentrate on it and not let our minds wander. If we make a mistake, it is certain to be a distraction to others. It is only courteous to take responsibility for that and acknowledge our error. If we do not voluntarily make amends, then amends will be placed upon us. Many people have a very hard time saying "I did wrong. I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?" Benedict would have us embrace this sort of humility.

My second thought is this: whether I like it or not, Sr. Benedict was a product of his times and corporal punishment was part of those times. When we stop to think about it, our own concept that corporal punishment is wrong is a very modern one, maybe only 40 or 50 years old. This creates a dichotomy within me with which I am uncomfortable. I am very much a product of my times and I would consider such treatment of boys to be abuse and I would leap and i have so lept to the phone to dial 911 to report it. I don't want to see this instruction in the Rule. But it is there and In have to live with it and with the ambivalence within me. When I stop to think about it, that's life, isn't it?


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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 The Dormition of Righteous Anna the Mother of
the Theotokos
Kellia: 1 Kings 17:1-11 Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13:4-14:5
Gospel: St. Matthew 20:1-16

David and Goliath I ~ Facing Fear: 1 Kings 17:1-11 LXX, especially vss.
10, 11: "And the Philistine said, Behold, I have defied the armies of
Israel this very day: give me a man, and we will both of us fight in
single combat. And Saul and all Israel heard these words of the
Philistine, and they were dismayed, and greatly terrified." After the
rupture of King Saul's relationship with the Lord, denounced by the
Prophet Samuel, Scripture reports that "Samuel departed to
Ramah...and...did not see Saul again till the day of his death, for
Samuel mourned after Saul, and the Lord repented that he had made Saul
king over Israel." (1 Kngs.15:34,35).

Perhaps a report of a breach between Samuel and Israel's king encouraged
the Philistines to foray up the valley of Elah from the coastal plain
toward the heart of Saul's kingdom in the Judean highlands. But Saul
roused his forces and met them in the low, rolling hill country between
Philistia and Israel. However, the Philistines had a surprise
super-weapon for the army of Israel, the giant "Goliath, by name, out of
Gath" (1 Kngs. 17:4), an imposing warrior whose immense size caused the
ranks of Israel's army to be "dismayed and greatly afraid" (vs. 11).

However, the Prophet David teaches that fright enervates those whose
hearts are not established in God. They shall fear to "look down upon
[their] enemies" (Ps. 111:7 LXX). Dread is the plight of fallen man
since that bitter day when Adam heard the voice of God in the garden and
hid himself (Gen. 3:10). The devil never ceases to lure men into
despair whenever possible. As St. Seraphim of Sarov points out: "Judas
the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy,
seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but
Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in
battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a
burning heart and the enemy...fled far from him wailing in pain."

The Holy Fathers clearly teach that pride is the source of fear. St.
John of the Ladder says: "A proud soul is a slave of cowardice; it
vainly trusts in itself, and is afraid of any sound or shadow of
creatures." Hence, the apparent invincibility of Goliath unmasked the
pride and fear of Saul and his army. The giant taunts the ranks of
Israel: "Why are ye come forth to set yourselves in battle array against
us?" (1 Kngs. 17:8). Goliath portrays the war in the realm of the
flesh, and the ranks of Israel and their king, being filled with pride
from victory in earlier campaigns against the Philistines (1 Sam.
14:47), imbibe his perspective and are stupefied by fear.

St. Peter of Damaskos offers other light both on Israel and Goliath of
Gath: the "two passions of overbearingness and cowardice, though they
appear to be opposites, are both caused by weakness." The imperiousness
displayed by Goliath pulled him upward into "something startling and
frightening, like some powerless bear," while the cowardice of the
Israelites caused them "to flee like a chased dog." And St. Peter
continues, "No one who suffers from either of these two passions puts
his trust in the Lord,.and, therefore, he cannot stand firm in battle."

How then do we break out of the grip of fear? The Prophet David, who
shortly would enter this very field of battle, surveyed the massive
Goliath and the fear-filled ranks of Israel, and himself disdained "the
pangs of death...and torrents of iniquity" (Ps. 17:4 LXX). Indeed, let
us heed St. John of Kronstadt: "Do not fear the conflict, do not flee
it. Where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where faith and
love are not tempted, it is not possible to be sure whether they are
really present. They are proved and revealed in adversity." Instead,
let us say, "I shall not fear; but as for me I will hope in Thee"
(Ps.55:2 LXX).

O Master, graciously illumine our hearts with the light of Thy
countenance, maintain the shield of our faith unassailed by the enemy,
upholding us inviolate by Thy grace.



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