Saturday, August 04, 2007

04/08/07 Saturday 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 75, 76; PM Psalm 23, 27
2 Samuel 5:22-6:11; Acts 17:16-34; Mark 8:1-10

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 8:1-10. And his disciples replied, "How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?"

This is an amazing question from men whose fore-fathers had eaten manna for forty years in the desert, and more amazing from disciples who had collected leftovers from a former meal which began with five loaves. Perhaps the problem is a human tendency to see the glass half empty, focusing on the enormity of
a problem and the scarcity of our resources to ¬remedy it. How often do we feel overwhelmed by the need and ill-equipped by the meagerness of what we have?

After stating the problem and his intention to remedy it, Jesus listens to his disciples' suggestion of why it couldn't be done in that barren wasteland. His question, "How many loaves have you?" is a directive to refocus on the specific need, food, and to inventory present resources that meet it. He didn't ask what they lacked but what they had. When the seven loaves and few small fishes were offered he blessed them, and four thousand were fed.

Perhaps offering up our "have-nots" is a part of the cost-counting process. But if we fail to offer to God what we have, we miss the blessings of the life to which he calls us as joyful witnesses to his compassionate power to meet our needs.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Rochester (Canterbury, England)

Speaking to the Soul:

Sensing scripture

Daily Reading for August 4

Centuries ago, Ignatius of Loyola urged readers of scripture to participate in the life of Christ through a disciplined use of all the senses. When reading a story from the gospels, like the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, Ignatius tells us to enter the scene fully and to become each character in turn:

With the eyes of the imagination we should look . . . at the persons. With our hearing we should perceive how they are speaking or could speak. With the sense of smell and taste we should smell and taste the infinite sweetness and loveliness of the Godhead. With our sense of place we should embrace and kiss the place where these persons have set their foot and where they come to rest.

From Sensing God: Reading Scripture With All Our Senses by Roger Ferlo (Cowley Publications, 2002).

++++++++++ Reflections

Look Jesus in the Face ... there you will see how He loves us.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf, that one day he said to his elder brother,'I should like to be free of all care, like the angels, who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God.' So he took off his cloak and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door, he heard his brother say, before he opened it 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am John, your brother.' But he replied, 'John has become an angel, and henceforth he is no longer among men.' Then the other begged him saying. 'It is I.' However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, 'You are a man and you must once agian work in order to eat.' Then John made a prostration before him, saying, 'Forgive me.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Comes to Us in the Poor

What finally counts is not whether we know Jesus and his words but whether we live our lives in the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus is the Spirit of Love. Jesus himself makes this clear when he speaks about the last judgment. There people will ask: "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?" and Jesus will answer: "In so far as you did this to one of the least ... of mine, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:37, 40).

This is our great challenge and consolation. Jesus comes to us in the poor, the sick, the dying, the prisoners, the lonely, the disabled, the rejected. There we meet him, and there the door to God's house is opened for us.

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

When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of the Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Christ Is All
August 4th, 2007
Saturday’s Reflection

My heart dances
My fears flee
My mind wrestles
My tongue shouts praise
My loneliness finds company
My spirit meets God
Surely, we are in the house of the Lord!

- Ciona D. Rouse
The Africana Worship Book

From page 49 The Africana Worship Book: Year A edited by Valerie Bridgeman Davis and Safiyah Fosua. Copyright © 2006 by Discipleship Resources. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

I am sorry to disappoint fans of this portion of the Daily meditation, but I am unable to open the link to today's portion.


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

A perfect disciple will be like his master

Those who canvass for positions of honor are the ones who exalt themselves; those who delight in serving and caring for others are the ones who humble themselves so as to be exalted by God. Note that it is not those whom the Lord exalts who will be humbled, but those who exalt themselves, and similarly it is those who of their own accord humble themselves who will be exalted by the Lord.

After specifically reserving the office of teaching to himself, Christ immediately went on to give as the rule of this teaching that whoever wants to be greatest should be the servant of all. And he gave the same rule in other words when he said: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Anyone therefore who wants to be Christ's disciple must hasten to learn the lesson he professes to teach, for a perfect disciple will be like his master. Otherwise, if he refuses to learn the master's lesson, far from being a master himself, he will not even be a disciple.

Paschasius Radbertus

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


"Then He took unto Him the twelve." Luke 18:31

The bravery of God in trusting us! You say - "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value." That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfilment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience - all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-30). The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

THE only way to remember a place for ever is to live in the place for an hour; and the only way to live in the place for an hour is to forget the place for an hour. The undying scenes we can all see, if we shut our eyes, are not the scenes we have stared at under the direction of guide-books; the scenes we see are the scenes at which we did not look at all -- the scenes in which we walked when we were thinking about something else -- about a sin, or a love affair, or some childish sorrow. We can see the background now because we did not see it then.

'Charles Dickens.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.

In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).

In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.


Stereotypes come hard in the Benedictine tradition. Is this a spirituality that centers on prayer or work? Does it recommend fleeing the world or embracing it? Does it set out to create a world unto itself or to leaven the wider one? The difficulty with understanding Benedictine spirituality comes in reading some sections of the Rule without reading the entire document. The fact is that Benedictine spirituality is not based in dualism, in the notion that things of the world are bad for us and things of the spirit are good. We are not to pray too long but we are to pray always. Self-discipline is a given but wine and food and the creature comforts of a bed with bedding are also considered necessary. The Rule is for everyone, including the abbot or prioress, and yet everyone is a potential exception to it.

In this chapter on guests and hospitality, the wholism out of which it emerges is startlingly plain: This is a monastery and guests are to be received. As Christ. "Hospitality is one form of worship," the rabbis wrote. Benedictine spirituality takes it seriously. The welcome at the door is not only loving--a telephone operator at a jail can do that. It is total, as well. Both the community and the abbot receive the guest. The message to the stranger is clear: Come right in and disturb our perfect lives. You are the Christ for us today.

And to assure us all, guest and monastic alike, that this hospitality is an act of God which we are undertaking, the community and the guest pray together first and then extend the kiss of welcome so that it is understood that our welcome is not based on human measurements alone: we like you, we're impressed with you, you look like our kind, you're clean and scrubbed and minty-breathed and worthy of our attention.

Hospitality in a culture of violence and strangers and anonymity has become the art of making good connections at good cocktail parties. We don't talk in elevators, we don't know the security guard's name, we don't invite even the neighbors in to the sanctuary of our selves. Their children get sick and their parents die and all we do is watch the comings and goings from behind heavy blinds. Benedict wants us to let down the barriers of our hearts so that this generation does not miss accompanying the innocent to Calvary as the last one did. Benedict wants us to let down the barriers of our souls so that the God of the unexpected can come in.

"In India," Ram Dass writes, "when people meet and part they often say, 'Namaste,' which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us....'Namaste'." In Benedictine spirituality, too, hospitality is clearly meant to be more than an open door. It is an acknowledgement of the gifts the stranger brings. "By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration....Christ is to be adored and welcomed in them." But Benedictine hospitality is also a return of gifts. The stranger is shown both presence and service. After a trip through hard terrain and hot sun, the guest is given physical comfort and a good meal, spiritual instruction and human support. Not even a fast day is counted as important as eating with a guest. Not even asceticism is counted as holy as care for the other. Obviously, from the point of view of the Rule of Benedict, it isn't so much what we do for those curious others in our lives, the strange, the needy, the unscrubbed, as it is the way we do it. We can give people charity or we can give them attention. We can give them the necessities of life or we can give them its joys. Benedictine hospitality is the gift of one human being to another.

Benedictine hospitality is not simply bed and bath; it is home and family.

"It's a barren prayer," St. Cyprian wrote, "that does not go hand in hand with alms." For the Benedictine heart the reception of the poor is an essential part of going to God. We cannot be too busy, too professional, too removed from the world of the poor to receive the poor and sustain the poor. Anything else, Benedict warns in a society that is by nature class structured, is not hospitality. It is at best more protocol than piety. Those who can buy their comforts or demand their rights are simply receiving what they can get, with us or without us. Those who have been thrown upon the mercy of the world are the gauge of our open hearts.

It is an important distinction in a culture in which strangers are ignored and self-sufficiency is considered a sign of virtue and poverty is a synonym for failure. Hospitality for us may as much involve a change of attitudes and perspectives as it does a handout. To practice hospitality in our world, it may be necessary to evaluate all the laws and all the promotions and all the invitation lists of corporate and political society from the point of view of the people who never make the lists. Then hospitality may demand that we work to change things.

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

Saturday, August 4, 2007 Fish, Wine, & Oil
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesos
Kellia: 1 Maccabees 2:15-30 Epistle: Romans 15:30-33 Gospel:
St. Matthew 17:24-18:4

The Hasidim II ~ Zeal: 1 Maccabees 2:15-30 LXX, especially vs. 27:
"Whosoever is zealous of the Law, and maintaineth the Covenant, let him
follow me." Zeal is ardent interest in or active pursuit of a desired
object, yet the zeal of fallen human beings always is a mix of the best
and worst within us as we press toward what we desire. By contrast, as
the Apostle shows (Jn. 2:17), the Lord Jesus, revealed pure zeal in
cleansing the Temple of moneychangers, fulfilling prophecy that "Zeal of
Thy house hath eaten Me up" (Ps. 68:12 LXX). Indeed, our zeal is flawed
by our fallenness and fails to honor God fully. St. Paul's refers to
the zeal of those who reject Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:1-4). So, may those
tempted to bomb abortion clinics beware; Christ's zeal is different in
essence, being the "zeal" of God (Is. 9:7; Ezek. 5:13). Even so, some,
like Mattathias, burn with zeal for the righteousness of God (cf. 2
Kngs. 10:15-17; 2 Cor. 7:11).

Mattathias' Godly zeal at Modein fanned him into flame as a Priest of
the Lord when he experienced enforced apostasy by the officers of King
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (vs. 15). The "abomination of desolation" - the
worship of Zeus Olympios including the offering of swine on God's altar
- had already been imposed within the Temple at Jerusalem. That earlier
act horrified Mattathias. Now, however, such worship was being enforced
in every city and town throughout Judah, and holy zeal ignited in
Mattathias. With his godly heart he experienced blatant apostasy. His
zeal was a type of Christ's Divine zealousness that the Lord revealed
when He cleansed the Temple before His Passion.

The pure worship of God, commanded in the Law of Moses, long required
that sacrifices be offered only in the Lord's Temple. Over several
centuries, a great, prolonged struggle within ancient Israel finally
resulted in the restriction of sacrifices to the Temple at Jerusalem -
the Temple being the single, national shrine and God's designated house
of prayer for His People. Sacrifices at other locations were often
prone to the subtle introduction of pagan elements (cf., 1 Kngs.
14:22-23). The Seleucid actions commanding sacrifice in every town were
meant to offend, hence swine were used for the sacrifices - not even a
usual practice for pagans.

Outspoken condemnation of sin and apostasy is another characteristic of
righteous zeal. Mattathias' declaration to the King's officers (1 Mac.
2:19-22) arose in his heart from the Holy Spirit as did the Lord Jesus'
outburst against "the moneychangers, and...them that sold doves" when He
said, "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it
a den of thieves" (Mt. 21:12,13). In the righteous man's declaration
against "departing" from Mosaic tradition, deserting "the law and the
ordinances," and "turning aside" from the Faith, hear the cry of all the
righteous in their pain and offense at sin: "My zeal for Thee hath made
me to pine away because mine enemies have forgotten Thy words" (Ps.
118:139 LXX).

Both in Mattathias' assault and in Christ's cleansing of the Temple,
indignant words were the prelude to a full response against evil.
Action functions as an icon challenging the Faithful to repudiate sin,
resist apostasy, and seek purity before God. Mattathias not only killed
the principals engaged in the abominable sacrifice, but also issued a
challenge to all gathered at the scene (1 Mac. 2:27). The Lord Jesus'
actions prompted "the blind and the lame" to come to Him in the Temple
for healing (Mt. 21:14). In both cases, acts of protest led to a
wide-spread repudiation of sinful activities: for Mattathias' act
ignited a rebellion (1 Mac. 2:29,30), and, the Lord Jesus actions
brought about His Passion and the defeat of Sin, Death, and Satan.

O Christ our God, Who gave Thyself for us to redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify us to Thyself as a people, zealous of good works,
fill us with holy fervor for Thee (see Titus 2:14)



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