Thursday, August 09, 2007

09/08/08 Thurs in the week of the 10th Sun 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.


Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; 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 [83] or 34; PM Psalm 85, 86
2 Samuel 11:1-27; Acts 19:11-20; Mark 9:2-13

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 19:11-20.Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices.

God loves us too much to allow us to continue living in ignorance and error of his kingdom. As a Father, he provides tutors and experiences to shape us and raise us up as his own.

Sometimes we can learn through the lens of others' experience as did the new believers who heard of the botched deliverance attempt by the sons of Sceva who, as itinerant exorcists, had probably witnessed God's power and miracles through Paul. But when they had attempted to wield authority over an evil spirit with the magic words, by the Jesus whom Paul preaches, the spirit turned on them. Not knowing Jesus personally and being apart from the Holy Spirit, they were not authorized or empowered and, like the sorcerer's apprentice, found themselves running for their lives.

Some people believe that if their goals are good, their means or practices are "white" magic and therefore acceptable to God. They are mistaken. While the Lord loves his own, he is not mocked. He brings correction and truth into our flawed thoughts and attitudes. He strips away the things we use to cover our practices, thoughts, and desires. It is painful, but if received from his hand it brings resurrection.

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

Speaking to the Soul:

Dominican spirituality

Daily Reading for August 9

Dominican spirituality does not originate in high theory or in a particular spiritual wisdom embodied in clearly defined techniques. Effectively, Dominic’s vision was to respond to concrete pastoral needs. This, and a reliance on structures that he already knew, suggests a fundamental pragmatism and functionalism in his approach to the spiritual life. The Domincan structures were relatively simple and democratic rather than hierarchical. Clearly preaching as a medium for spreading the gospel lies at the heart of Dominican spirituality. In that sense, Dominican spirituality is evangelical and missionary.

As a foundation for preaching, Dominic placed a strong emphasis on study which really replaced the traditional monastic emphasis on manual labor as a critical spiritual discipline. Veritas (truth) became a kind of motto of the Order expressing its deepest ideals of intellectual integrity at the service of the gospel. Behind the ability to minister effectively also lay a contemplative spirit focused especially on liturgy. This connection between contemplation and action was expressed in a traditional phrase contemplate aliis tradere--it is what is contemplated that leads to everything else.

From A Brief History of Spirituality by Philip Sheldrake (Blackwell Publishing, 2007).

++++++++++ Reflections

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine are the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting him about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, 'John, your vessel is full of poison.' Abba John said to him, 'That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you only see the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Living Signs of Love

Jesus' whole life was a witness to his Father's love, and Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name. We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God's unconditional love. Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live. When people say of us: "See how they love one another," they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.

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

Day Nine - The Second Aim, cont'd

As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Following Jesus
August 9th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

FOLLOWING JESUS IN TODAY’S WORLD is challenging enough without inventing new lists of do’s and don’ts to feel pressured and guilty about.

What we certainly do not need is one more system we can flunk. What we do need is clarity of purpose, encouragement, and hope.

Jesus often pointed out that children possess qualities we would do well to emulate, especially if we want to grow spiritually. That, my friends, is good news.

- Derek Maul
Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men

From pages 21-22 of Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men by Derek Maul. Copyright © 2007 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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

Building up virtue

If you saw a person completely destroying some house, and he swore to you that he was building the house, would you not consider him demented and out of his mind, or perhaps that he was trying to tease you? But what, I ask, shall we say of you, O Christian, when you destroy spiritual gifts and virtues, knock them to the ground, yet say you want to be saved? Are you teasing or joking? The way to heaven is not to destroy virtues, but to build them up. You already know that to seek riches thoughtlessly is the way to hell on account of dangers inherent in them. And yet as you struggle to accumulate riches you say: I desire and long to be saved. You are playing a trick on us, or at least trying to. You wish to say with the reprobate: Blessed is the people to whom riches abound. On the contrary, I say: Happy is the one whose God is the Lord.

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.

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


"Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me." John 11:41

When the Son of God prays, He has only one consciousness, and that consciousness is of His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God is formed in me the Father will always hear my prayers. I have to see that the Son of God is manifested in my mortal flesh. "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost," i.e., the Bethlehem of the Son of God. Is the Son of God getting His chance in me? Is the direct simplicity of the life of God's Son being worked out exactly as it was worked out in His historic life? When I come in contact with the occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God's Eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? "In that day ye shall ask in My name. . . ." What day? The day when the Holy Ghost has come to me and made me effectually one with my Lord.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied in your life or have you got a spiritual strut on? Never let common sense obtrude and push the Son of God on one side. Common sense is a gift which God gave to human nature; but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son; never enthrone common sense. The Son detects the Father; common sense never yet detected the Father and never will. Our ordinary wits never worship God unless they are transfigured by the indwelling Son of God. We have to see that this mortal flesh is kept in perfect subjection to Him and that He works through it moment by moment. Are we living in such human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being manifested moment by moment?

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

IN practice no one is mad enough to legislate or educate upon dogmas of physical inheritance; and even the language of the thing is rarely used except for special modern purposes -- such as the endowment of research or the oppression of the poor.

'What's Wrong with the World.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 56: On the Abbess's Table

Let the Abbess's table always be with the guests
and the pilgrims. But when there are no guests,
let it be in her power to invite whom she will of the sisters.
Yet one or two seniors must always be left with the others
for the sake of discipline.


This tiny chapter introduces a major question into Benedictine history and interpretation: Did the abbot eat in a separate dining room away from the monastics or did the abbot and guests eat at a special table in the midst of the community? And, whatever the case, what was the implication of this separate table for the rest of community life? If the monastic meal was a central symbol of community life, then the presence or absence of an abbot or prioress is of serious import, to say nothing of the notion that the ideas of cloister may then have been flexible enough to make guests, too, part of the monastery meal. There have been cogent arguments brought to bear on both interpretations that are both interesting and historically important. It seems, however, that the greater point of the chapter for us today is not the geography of the table but the fact that the leader of the community was expected to model the gift of self with strangers. It was the abbot and prioress themselves who showed the community the price and the process of availability and hospitality and presence to the other. Hospitality was not a warm meal and a safe haven. Hospitality in the Benedictine community was attention and presence to the needs of the other. Hospitality was a public ministry designed to nourish the other in body and in soul, in spirit and in psyche.

Welfare agencies give clothes; parishes collect food for the poor; flea markets provide rare goods at cheap prices. The problem is that too many of the handouts come with hardly a look and never a personal moment for the people they set out to serve. Benedictine spirituality sets a standard of comfort and care, conversation and respect--the things that make a human being human--as well as bed and board. And, the presence of the abbot and prioress prove, none of us can afford to be too busy or too important to do the same.

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

Thursday, August 9, 2007 Dormition Fast Translation of the Relics
of Herman of Alaska
Kellia: 1 Maccabees 3:25-41 Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Gospel: St. Matthew 24:13-28

The Hasidim VI ~ Final Solutions: 1 Maccabees 3:25-41 LXX, especially
vss. 34, 35: "Them that dwelt in Judah and Jerusalem he [Lysias] should
send an army against them, to destroy and root out the strength of
Israel, and the remnant of Jerusalem, and to take away their memorial
from that place." The annals of history are filled with the names of
those who have settled for a "final solution" to the threat they
perceived in the People of God: Pharaoh, Antiochus IV Epiphanes,
Diocletian, Hitler, and Joseph Stalin. Still, God's People continue,
while those who thought to "banish the memory of them" (vs. 35) are the
subjects of studies and histories, part of an immense testimony
concerning the futility of opposing the will of God.

Orthodox Christians who examine the policy of Antiochus outlined above
will recall how the chief priests and Pharisees weighed the reports that
Jesus of Nazareth had raised Lazarus from the dead: "This Man works many
signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and
the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation" (Jn.
11:47,48). Their fears impelled them to a final solution: "it is
expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that
the whole nation should perish" (Jn. 11:50).

Mankind's 'final solutions' inevitably involve power and force:
chariots, great armies, governors, deportation, special camps, and
always, executions. Hovering behind each of these somber images is the
specter of death. In reading the present passage, we are impressed by
the size of the army that Lysias gathered to carry out his king's
orders, "elephants....forty thousand footmen, and seven thousand
horsemen" (vss. 34,39). But let us not forget that God the Life-Giver
also has His "final solution" to the mad efforts of the desperate and
the specter of death. God's final solution raises the banner of life,
the Resurrection victory, peace and blessing.

Beloved of the Lord, above all, let us remember the Apostolic admonition
that "whatever things were written before were written for our learning"
(Rom. 15:4). Hence, let us be cautious and humble before God when we,
like King Antiochus, find our plans and solutions frustrated or opposed,
for the hand of God is never absent from human activities and history,
whether on the grand scale of things or in the little routines of
everyday life. Rather, let us recall that God is the Lord "and we are
the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand" (Ps. 94:7 LXX).

When our will is crossed and frustrated, it is our sin and the prompting
of demons that arouses fear within us. See how "greatly angered"
Antiochus was at the reports of Judas' battles and victories (1 Mac.
3:26,27). Pride was aroused, and he plunged into frantic action. In
the face of frustration, when anger rises, let us heed St. John of the
Ladder: "Pride is utter penury of soul under the illusion of wealth,
imagining light in its darkness. The foul passion not only blocks our
advance, but even hurls us down from the heights." Beware of man's
final solutions.

Clearly, the great king of the Seleucid empire, secure in his elephants
and "all the forces of his realm" (vs. 27), failed to see the finger of
God in the disruption of his program to force false religion on God's
People. At least the magicians of Pharaoh's court saw God at work in
the plagues, but no such caution was even spoken to Antiochus. Beloved,
when "things don't work out," it is time to seek the Lord and to hear
from Him what Joshua was told, that there is sin in us and that we have
"transgressed My covenant which I commanded" (Jos. 7:11). May
repentance and amendment of life keep us far from becoming, like Pontius
Pilate and Antiochus IV, a thread woven into the dark background of
God's bright redemption of mankind.

To Thee I come, O Christ, blinded in my soul's eyes, crying unto Thee in
repentance, Thou art the light of transcendent radiance to those who are
in darkness.



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