Friday, August 03, 2007

03/08/07 Friday in the week of the Ninth 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 God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38; PM Psalm 73
2 Samuel 5:1-12; Acts 17:1-15; Mark 7:24-37


From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 69. For the LORD listens to the needy, and his prisoners he does not despise.

"What do you want for your birthday?" used to cause me to draw a mental blank. As a child, I dreaded the shaming label of "selfish," so I learned to hide my
desires under "I don't know." Of course, this did not make the needs and wants go away. While wants may be fleeting, needs are foundational and necessary for us to be fully alive and fully human. Unmet needs, like unpaid bills, become bonds that hold us as surely as a prison or chains.

In our culture of self-sufficiency, neediness is equated with being weak and dependent. We may tell ourselves that we are not like the poor, the homeless, the diseased, and the imprisoned, who are only reaping the consequences of bad choices. But we miss the mark if we believe we are incapable of making bad choices in order to get our needs met or that we cannot also be victims of circumstances.

In God's kingdom, we his children are called to acknowledge our desires to him. This scripture is his promise that our cries are heard and will be compassionately answered. It is in our weakness that we are prepared to receive his good provisions.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Riverina
(New South Wales, Australia)

Speaking to the Soul:

Finding God in all things

Daily Reading for August 3

Sometimes I need to explain to directees what is meant by the phrase “finding God in all things.” It has nothing to do with reading God into things, blaming God for disasters, saying this or that is God’s will. Rather, it involves opening ourselves to an encounter with God in whatever presents itself to us. God is present in all things, seen and unseen. We are invited to experience this presence in nature, in people, in circumstances, in everything. God is the essence of all that is, and God is within all, in ways that will benefit us. So I ask a directee, “Are you able to feel (or know) God with you in this terrible moment?” “Do you realize that what you are describing as luck is really God’s grace?” Finding God in all things turns life into a love story between God and the directee. It leads one far from self-centeredness into love of all creatures. It puts one at the disposal of God to bring all of creation one step closer to its fulfillment.

From “How Ignatius Would Tend the Holy: Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction” by Marian Cowan, CSJ, in Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions edited by Norvene Vest. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
++++++++++ Reflections

Let us remember our holy Fathers of past days, the hermits whose lives we attempt to imitate. What sufferings they bore, what solitude, cold and hunger, what burning sun and heat! … Do you suppose they were made of iron? No, they were as frail as we are.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way, 11.4

Reading from the Desert Christians

The same amma said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Door Open to Anyone

Jesus is the door to a life in and with God. "I am the gate," he says (John 10:9). "I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Still, many people never have heard or will hear of Jesus. They are born, live their lives, and die without having been exposed to Jesus and his words. Are they lost? Is there no place in the Father's house for them?

Jesus opened the door to God's house for all people, also for those who never knew or will know that it was Jesus who opened it. The Spirit that Jesus sent "blows where it pleases" (John 3:8), and it can lead anyone through the door to God's house.

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

Jesus calls those who would serve him to follow his example and choose for themselves the same path of renunciation and sacrifice. To those who hear and obey he promises union with God. The object of the Society of Saint Francis is to build a community of those who accept Christ as their Lord and Master and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. They surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people. The Third Order of the Society consists of those who, while following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to dedicate their lives under a definite discipline and vows. They may be female or male, married or single, ordained or lay.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Abundant Joy
August 3rd, 2007
Friday’s Reflection

THANK YOU, GOD, that even when I feel empty and dry, I know that the springs of joy are there, buried deep within me. I ask you to tap those springs now, release them, and carry me away on their fullness.

Thank you, O God, for joy.
Joy that overcomes all else.
Joy that is more powerful than the darkest powers.
Joy that is more abundant than the waters in the seas.
Joy that is mine.

- Patricia F. Wilson
Quiet Spaces

From page 44 Quiet Spaces by Patricia F. Wilson. Copyright © 2002 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"The First Franciscan Community"

(Recorded at the Portiuncula) There are many romantic pictures of Franciscans loving one another, praying together and lifting their hands to God. But Im sure in this place, around this little chapel where their huts first stood, there were many days of complete doubt and disillusionment; feelings of dislike maybe even of hatred toward one another; doubt of the vocation in the Lord; feelings of anger; temptations of desire, lust, passion and fear all the temptations that human beings experience. The first Franciscans were no different from any of us. But somehow, they remembered the one commandment that the Lord gave us, which is to love one another. How can we more deeply love one another? The first Franciscans put their lives together, and they remained together. They said were gonna stick with it until we become one. Were gonna remain together until we can walk through these barriers to love. That will come up in every marriage, in every attempt at union and every attempt at community. We begin to see the dark parts of one another, those parts that we do not like. The way we learn to love is by walking through those: not around by avoidance, not underneath by spiritualizing, not over by denial but though by incarnation.

from On Pilgrimage With Father Richard Rohr

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

Why do we love our neighbor?

What is our reason for loving God? God himself is the reason we love him; we love him because he is the supreme and infinite goodness. What is our reason for loving ourselves? Surely because we are the image and likeness of God. And since all men and women possess this same dignity we love them as ourselves, that is, as holy and living images of the godhead. It is as such that we belong to God through a kinship so close and a dependence so lovable that he does not hesitate to call himself our Father, and to name us his children. It is as such that we are capable of being united to him in the fruition of his sovereign goodness and joy. It is as such that we receive his grace and that our spirits are associated with his most Holy Spirit and rendered, in a sense, sharers in the divine nature.

As Jacob saw that the same ladder touching heaven and earth was used by the angels both for ascending and descending, so we can be sure that the same charity cherishes both God and our neighbor, raising us even to spiritual union with God, and bringing us back to loving companionship with our neighbors. It must always be understood, however, that we love our neighbors for this reason, that they are made in the image and likeness of God, created to communicate in his goodness, share in his grace, and rejoice in his glory.

Francis de Sales

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


"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem." Luke 18:31

Jerusalem stands in the life of Our Lord as the place where He reached the climax of His Father's will. "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me." That was the one dominating interest all through our Lord's life, and the things He met with on the way, joy or sorrow, success or failure, never deterred Him from His purpose. "He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem."

The great thing to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfil God's purpose, not our own. Naturally, our ambitions are our own; in the Christian life we have no aim of our own. There is so much said to-day about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament it is the aspect of God's compelling that is brought out. "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." We are not taken up into conscious agreement with God's purpose, we are taken up into God's purpose without any consciousness at all. We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague. God's aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short sighted to see what He is aiming at. At the beginning of the Christian life we have our own ideas as to what God's purpose is - 'I am meant to go here or there,' 'God has called me to do this special work'; and we go and do the thing, and still the big compelling of God remains. The work we do is of no account, it is so much scaffolding compared with the big compelling of God. "He took unto Him the twelve," He takes us all the time. There is more than we have got at as yet.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

EVEN among liars there are two classes, one immeasurably better than another. The honest liar is the man who tells the truth about his old lies; who says on Wednesday, 'I told a magnificent lie on Monday.' He keeps the truth in circulation; no one version of things stagnates in him and becomes an evil secret. He does not have to live with old lies; a horrible domesticity.

Introduction to 'The Old Curiosity Shop.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 52: On the Oratory of the Monastery

Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer;
and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
When the Work of God is ended,
let all go out in perfect silence,
and let reverence for God be observed,
so that any sister who may wish to pray privately
will not be hindered by another's misconduct.
And at other times also,
if anyone should want to pray by herself,
let her go in simply and pray,
not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.
She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore,
shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory
when the Work of God is ended,
lest another be hindered, as we have said.


Richard Sullivan, a professor of creative writing at Notre Dame University in the 60's and a writer himself, taught his classes that the two most important physical dimensions of the writing profession were time and space. "Write every single day at the same time and in the very same place," he said. "Whether you have anything to say or not, go there and sit and do nothing, if necessary, until the very act of sitting there at your writer's time in your writer's place releases the writing energy in you and begins to affect you automatically." Teachers of yoga, too, prescribe a set of basic postures and places to dispose the soul to the transcendent. Teachers of meditation prescribe times and places and mantras, a type of personal chant, to center the soul. In every tradition, in other words, we are taught that it is not a matter of separating the sacred and the secular. It is a matter of staying conscious of the fact that the sacred is in the secular. There is, in other words, such a thing as a spiritual well where simply being in that place can tap open that special part of our souls and enable us to touch the sacred in the secular. "Let the oratory be what it is called," Benedict said. Have a place where you can go in order to be about nothing but the business of being in the presence of God so that every other space in your life can become more conscious of that presence as well. More than that, Benedict asks us to be there in a special way--with quiet and with awareness, not laughing or talking or lounging or distracting but alert and immersed and enshrouded in the arms of God. Americans, of course, have made of God a casual circumstance. We have prayer meetings with coffee cups in our hands and listen to psalmody with our legs crossed and our arms spread-eagled on the backs of our pews. We avoid churches and say that since God is everywhere, anyplace is good enough. All of which is true, at one level. But, Benedictine spirituality says also that to know God in time and space we must regularly seek to find God in one time and space that enables us to recognize God more easily in every other one.

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

Friday, Aug. 3, 2007 Dormition Fast Isaac, Dalmatos & Faustus of
Dalmaton Monastery
1 Maccabees 2:1-14 Epistle: 2 Corinthians 1:12-20
Gospel: St. Matthew 22:23-33

The Hasidim I ~ Mournful Repentance: 1 Maccabees 2:1-14 LXX, especially
vs. 14: "Then Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, and put on
sackcloth, and mourned very sore." St. John of the Ladder notes that,
"Mourning according to God is sadness of soul and the disposition of a
sorrowing heart, which ever madly seeks that for which it thirsts; and
when it fails in its quest, it painfully pursues it, and follows in its
wake grievously lamenting." The Abbot of Sinai's definition of
God-given mourning matches precisely the vivid record of Mattathias and
his sons as they lamented the degradation of their heritage described in
the present reading. Thirsting for the holiness that is of God and from
God, Mattathias saw instead only "blasphemies that were committed in
Judah and Jerusalem" (vs. 6). His soul was plunged into grief. His
heart sorrowed. As a Priest of God, he despaired of life itself (vs.
13) in the boiling wake of the unimaginable disaster wreaked upon his
sacred land of Judah.

Mattathias was among the strictly pious of God's People, those whom the
Jews call "the Hasidim." How his heart was wounded by the violence of
the Seleucids' determination to unify the kingdom of Antiochus IV
Epiphanes. Mattathias saw what God had defined as holy being wasted -
His People, the Holy City, its Temple, the sacred vessels, even innocent
babes. Mattathias' mourning was not mere personal sorrow, but was a
"mournful repentance" - a grieving that included all the elements of a
genuine, godly sorrow saddened by sin and wrong. The truly pious do not
stand apart from others' grief, nor do they suffer evil as individual loss.

Those who fear God experience events contrary to God's will as affronts
and sins against the Lord Himself and not only against people.
Mattathias perceived the tragedies around him as clear wrongs according
to God's judgment. Seeing events as blatant sins evoked mourning. For
the natural, healthy reaction to sin always is mournful repentance -
godly sorrow (1 Cor. 7:10).

Consider the conditions for which Mattathias and his sons mourned -
"this misery of my people" (1 Mac. 2:7). Their wretchedness included
the murder of the inhabitants of Jerusalem killed during a truce (1 Mac.
1:30). "The holy city" (1 Mac. 2:7), sacred Jerusalem itself, was
sacked and physically destroyed by the chief Seleucid collector of
tribute (1 Mac. 1:31). In addition, the Temple of God, the most holy
"sanctuary [fell] into the hand of strangers" (1 Mac. 2:7), and was used
for pagan rites of the most desecrating kind (1 Mac. 1:46) - the very
sanctuary that God forbade Gentiles to enter. "Her glorious vessels
[were] carried away into captivity" (1 Mac. 2:9), looted by Antiochus (1
Mac. 22-24). Added to all this, Mattathias witnessed "her
infants...slain in the streets, her young men with the sword" (1 Mac.
2:9), for male babes found circumcised were immediately killed by the
Seleucids (1 Mac. 1:60).

Which of these deeds was not contrary to God's will as stated in
explicit terms in the Divine Law? "Thou shalt do no murder. Thou shalt
not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (Ex.
20:13,15,16). Mattathias' godly mourning was truly repentance.

God's Priest plunged deeper into penitence when the same blatant sins
were committed in every city and village of Judah (vs. 6). Repentance
was urgent and appropriate. Hence, he cried, "wherefore was I born to
see this misery" (vs. 7) and he and "his sons rent their clothes, and
put on sackcloth, and mourned" (vs. 14). This was not grief according
to the flesh - natural if one's countrymen and cities are destroyed by
an enemy. Phrases such as "blasphemies and profaned" (vss. 6,12), tell
us that his grief could only be called mournful repentance before God.

Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-giver; for my soul goeth
early to the temple of Thy holiness, coming in the temple of my body,
wholly polluted.



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