Thursday, July 26, 2007

26/07/07 Thursday 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.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 50; PM Psalm [59, 60] or 8, 84
1 Samuel 28:3-20; Acts 15:1-11; Mark 5:1-20

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 66. Be joyful in God, all you lands; sing the glory of his Name; sing the glory of his praise.

Maybe it's because I've been singing in church choirs since I was nine, but music has always had a special place in my spiritual life. From the mournful songs of Good Friday to the joyful hymns of Easter and Christmas, music has been a part of my worship experience. I don't think it's a coincidence that music is so often a part of worship.

As a good Jew, Christ himself sang the Psalms in the temple, and music has been a part of Christianity ever since. Music is a wonderful metaphor for God's creation--its variety is breathtaking. Even in the realm of "church music," the gamut runs from gospel to classical, from rock to folk. Whatever sort of music speaks to you can also help you speak to God.

It is sometimes difficult to find words to describe our spiritual life; music speaks a language that words never can. It is like the purest form of poetry--all metaphor, all emotion, uncluttered by language. Rejoice in the Lord and in his gift of music. Let us offer that gift back to him.

Today we remember:

Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Psalm 132:11-19 or 85:8-13
Genesis 17:1-8; Luke 1:26-33


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Rejaf (Sudan)

Speaking to the Soul:

Mary's parents

Daily Reading for July 26 • Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The blessed and glorious ever-virgin Mary, sprung from the royal stock and family of David, born in the city of Nazareth, was brought up at Jerusalem in the temple of the Lord. Her father was named Joachim, and her mother Anna. Her father's house was from Galilee and the city of Nazareth, but her mother's family from Bethlehem. Their life was guileless and right before the Lord, and irreproachable and pious before men. For they divided all their substance into three parts. One part they spent upon the temple and the temple servants; another they distributed to strangers and the poor; the third they reserved, for themselves and the necessities of their family. Thus, dear to God, kind to men, for about twenty years they lived in their own house, a chaste married life, without having any children. Nevertheless they vowed that, should the Lord happen to give them offspring, they would deliver it to the service of the Lord; on which account also they used to visit the temple of the Lord at each of the feasts during the year....

Now, when Joachim had been at the temple for some time, on a certain day when he was alone, an angel of the Lord stood by him in a great light. And when he was disturbed at his appearance, the angel who had appeared to him restrained his fear, saying: Fear not, Joachim, nor be disturbed by my appearance; for I am the angel of the Lord, sent by Him to you to tell you that your prayers have been heard, and that your charitable deeds have gone up into His presence. . . . Conceptions very late in life, and births in the case of women that have been barren, are usually attended with something wonderful. Accordingly your wife Anna will bring forth a daughter to you, and you shall call her name Mary: she shall be, as you have vowed, consecrated to the Lord from her infancy, and she shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from her mother's womb. She shall neither eat nor drink any unclean thing, nor shall she spend her life among the crowds of the people without, but in the temple of the Lord, that it may not be possible either to say, or so much as to suspect, any evil concerning her. Therefore, when she has grown up, just as she herself shall be miraculously born of a barren woman, so in an incomparable manner she, a virgin, shall bring forth the Son of the Most High, who shall be called Jesus, and who, according to the etymology of His name, shall be the Saviour of all nations. And this shall be the sign to you of those things which I announce: When you shall come to the Golden gate in Jerusalem, you shall there meet Anna your wife, who, lately anxious from the delay of your return, will then rejoice at the sight of you. Having thus spoken, the angel departed from him.

From the apocryphal Gospel of the Nativity of Mary.

++++++++++ Reflections

In my Little Way there are only very ordinary things.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

(Abba Isaiah) also said that when there was an agape and the brethren were eating in the church and talking to one another, the priest of Pelusia reprimanded them in these words, 'Brethren, be quiet. For I have seen a brother eating with you and drinking as many cups as you and his prayer is ascending to the presence of God like fire.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Dynamics of the Spiritual Life

Our emotional lives and our spiritual lives have different dynamics. The ups and downs of our emotional life depend a great deal on our past or present surroundings. We are happy, sad, angry, bored, excited, depressed, loving, caring, hateful, or vengeful because of what happened long ago or what is happening now.

The ups and downs of our spiritual lives depend on our obedience - that is, our attentive listening - to the movements of the Spirit of God within us. Without this listening our spiritual life eventually becomes subject to the windswept waves of our emotions.

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

Day Twenty Six - The Second Note, cont'd

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases as their love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Keep Praying
July 26th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

KEEP PRAYING WHEN LIFE DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Keep praying in the face of insufficient evidence that prayer “works.” I appeal to you to base your beliefs about prayer on revelation, not speculation; on the long haul, not the short run; on heaven and earth combined, not earth alone. If you continue to talk in the dark and pray when life doesn’t make sense, you will be no farther behind in the life of prayer than the greatest saint. Those women and men who prayed before us left footprints that go through the deepest valleys as well as the mountaintops.

- Steve Harper
Talking in the Dark

From page 115 of Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Steve Harper. Copyright © 2007 by the author. Published by Upper Room books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The Rise of Fundamentalism"

The foundation of fundamentalism is fear. When people feel distance from the Father, they may feel they can't trust him because he is hard and out to get them. When they believe they can't please the Father, they get into what the Church has so often gotten into, in almost every denomination, the merit/demerit system. They need to make sure they are right with the distant Father.

In Catholicism it takes the form of legalism and near idolatry of the institution. In Protestantism, at least today, it takes the form of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism creates a system of words, bible quotes and techniques for salvation that are supposedly certain, so you can always know the ground on which you stand and keep the feared Father on your side. It's very popular today in America, and wherever else the family system is collapsing and fathers are absent or abusive.

I would say that people who are attracted to fundamentalism are suffering from a lack of masculine energy, a lack of union with the Father. When you are in union with the Father, you don't need petty certitudes to overcome your fear. You can relax with God; you can even feel free to make mistakes. You resonate with the words of the Father, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased," and such perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

from A Man's Approach to God

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

Having been forgiven, be merciful to others

Athird time the girl repeated: You too were with that man yesterday, but a third time he denied it. Finally Jesus looked at him, reminding him of his previous assertion. Peter understood, repented of his sin, and began to weep. Mercifully, however, Jesus forgave him his sin, because he knew that Peter, being a man, was subject to human frailty.

Now, as I said before, the reason God's plan permitted Peter to sin was because he was to be entrusted with the whole people of God, and sinlessness added to his severity might have made him unforgiving toward his brothers and sisters. He fell into sin so that remembering his own fault and the Lord's forgiveness, he also might forgive others out of love for them. This was God's providential dispensation. He to whom the Church was to be entrusted, he, the pillar of the churches, the harbor of faith, was allowed to sin; Peter, the teacher of the world, was permitted to sin, so that having been forgiven himself he would be merciful to others.

John Chrysostom

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


"Out of the heart proceed . . ." Matthew 15:18-20

We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord's, we shrink and say - But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart. We resent what Jesus Christ reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme Authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust His penetration, or do I prefer to trust my innocent ignorance? If I make conscious innocence the test, I am likely to come to a place where I find with a shuddering awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I shall be appalled at the possibility of evil and wrong in me. As long as I remain under the refuge of innocence I am living in a fool's paradise. If I have never been a blackguard, the reason is a mixture of cowardice and the protection of civilized life; but when I am undressed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis.

The only thing that safeguards is the Redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will hand myself over to Him, I need never experience the terrible possibilities that are in my heart. Purity is too deep down for me to get to naturally: but when the Holy Spirit comes in, He brings into the centre of my personal life the very Spirit that was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ, viz., Holy Spirit, which is unsullied purity.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

CHRISTIANITY is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities. When Italy is mad on art the Church seems too Puritanical when England is mad on Puritanism the Church seems too artistic. When you quarrel with us now you class us with kingship and despotism; but when you quarrelled with us first it was because we would not accept the divine despotism of Henry VIII. The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue.

'The Ball and the Cross,'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 46: On Those Who Fail in Any Other Matters

When anyone is engaged in any sort of work,
whether in the kitchen, in the cellar, in a shop,
in the bakery, in the garden, while working at some craft,
or in any other place,
and she commits some fault,
or breaks something, or loses something,
or transgresses in any other way whatsoever,
if she does not come immediately
before the Abbess and the community
of her own accord
to make satisfaction and confess her fault,
then when it becomes known through another,
let her be subjected to a more severe correction.

But if the sin-sickness of the soul is a hidden one,
let her reveal it only to the Abbess or to a spiritual mother,
who knows how to cure her own and others' wounds
without exposing them and making them public.



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

Thursday, July 26, 2007 The Priest Jacob,
Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska
Kellia: 1 Kings 17:17-27 Epistle: 1 Corinthians 14:6-19
Gospel: St. Matthew 20:17-28

David and Goliath II ~ Outrage: 1 Kings 17:17-27, especially vs. 26:
"For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he has defied the army of
the living God?" Realizing that
almost always "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of
God" (Jas. 1:20), the Holy Fathers are wary of human wrath, anger, and
indignation. Still, it seems that outrage does have a rightful place in
the spiritually mature. Such a recognition led St. John Cassian to say
cautiously, "Our incessive power can be used in a way that is according
to nature only when turned against our own impassioned or self-indulgent
thoughts. This is what the Prophet David teaches when he says, 'Be
angry and sin not' (Ps. 4:5 LXX)." Hence, as we gain the grace of
detachment within ourselves through godly struggle, the desire for God
predominates in our souls. That alone will give rise to an anger "in
accordance with nature," a godly anger that, as St. Isaac the Solitary
says, "flares up against all the tricks of the enemy."

The Lord Jesus Himself warns the Faithful against the nearly ubiquitous
anger of fallen mankind: "I say to you that whoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Mt. 5:22).
Even here, St. John Cassian cautions us about this teaching of the Lord,
for he leaves out the phrase, "without a cause," explaining that "this
is the text of the best manuscripts; for it is clear from the purpose of
Scripture in this context that the words 'without a cause' were added
later. The Lord's intention is that we should remove the root of anger,
its spark - so to speak - in whatever way we can, and not keep even a
single pretext for anger in our hearts. Otherwise, we will be stirred
to anger initially for what appears to be a good reason and then find
that our incessive power is totally out of control."

Today's reading reveals an instance of true, godly indignation, an
outrage awakened within the anointed of God, David the Prophet - anger
precipitated by the insolence of the Philistine champion, Goliath,
against "the army of the living God" (1 Kngs. 17:26). David beheld as
"the Champion advanced...and spoke as before, and David heard" (vs.
23). Furthermore, he saw that "all the men of Israel fled from...were
greatly terrified of Goliath" (vs. 24). Knowing that the desires of the
People of God always should long for the Lord alone - both constantly
and entirely, David's indignation awoke in a natural and righteous
manner. He exemplified St. Peter of Damaskos' teaching: "the incessive
power should actively oppose only what obstructs this longing, and
nothing else." Goliath plainly opposed the desire of God for His
people, and so we may fairly say that David's outrage fit the exception
set by St. Peter.

It is clear that God Himself unleashes His righteous anger upon His
enemies who persistently, stubbornly, and arrogantly oppose His
purposes. The Psalmist recalls that God wrought His signs in Egypt as
"He sent forth against them the wrath of His anger, anger and wrath and
affliction, a mission performed by evil angels. He had made a path for
His wrath, and He spared not from death their souls, and their cattle He
shut up in death" (Ps. 77:53,54 LXX). Also, in His zeal, Christ Jesus
our Savior drove out the moneychangers doing business in the Temple with
the command: "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise" (Jn.

Often when Holy Scripture reports moments of anger arising in
God's Prophets, it uses the phrase, "then the Spirit of God came
upon..." (Jdgs. 14:19; 1 Kngs. 11:6). Surely the Spirit of God came
upon David, as God's anointed, upon observing Goliath's outrageous
actions. Pray that our anger always is "of the Lord" and never insults
"the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29).

Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, Thy helping grace, that we may
obediently walk in Thy holy commandments and lead a sober, righteous,
and godly life, ever remembering Thy mercies.



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