Saturday, August 11, 2007

11/08/07 Feast of St. Clare of Assisi


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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.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 87, 90; PM Psalm 136
2 Samuel 12:15-31; Acts 20:1-16; Mark 9:30-41

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 9:30-41. He asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.

One of my favorite children's stories is about a homeless cat named Pickles, who has large paws and aspires to do great things. When he meets other creatures he shows them his paws and tells them he will do great things, although he doesn't know exactly what he will do or when it will come to pass. He is befriended by firemen who make a home for him at the fire station and even take him on their fire runs. Time passes and greatness eludes him until the day his large paws enable him to climb up and back down the fire ladder to rescue a kitten from a fragile tree limb. Now he knows true greatness.

The word "greatest" raises imaginings of grand scale and power, of recognition, and perhaps even adoration and homage. These imaginings of greatness may cause us to overlook or dismiss the small acts which our Lord calls "great"--a cup of water, welcoming a child, maybe even rescuing a cat.

When you cannot do what you want to do, do something else.

--Amy Carmichael

Today we remember:

Clare of Assisi
Psalm 63:1-8 or 34:1-8
Song of Solomon 2:10-13; Luke 12:32-37

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Ruvuma (Tanzania)

Speaking to the Soul:

Clare of Assisi

Daily Reading for August 11 • Clare, Abbess of Assisi, 1253

Although Francis’ life and writings are a primary source for Franciscan spirituality, it is now widely recognized that Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) was not merely a dependent figure but a significant personality in her own right in the origins of the Franciscan tradition. Inspired by Francis’ preaching, Clare dedicated herself to a gospel life in 1212 and became the first woman member of the Order. She held to the same vision of poverty and gospel living in the face of considerable opposition from Church officials. Some historians have suggested that Clare originally wished her sisters to have an unenclosed lifestyle of service rather alone the lines of the lay movement of Beguines. Whatever the case, Clare was forced to accept the Rule of St Benedict for her sisters but this was mitigated in 1216 by papal permission to observe the same “privilege” of poverty as the friars—that is, freedom from normal monastic possessions, buildings, estates, and complex finances. However her moderate Rule for the Poor Sisters (the Poor Clares) was only finally approved on her deathbed in 1253.

Although the sisters were dedicated to a life of contemplation, this should not be contrasted with the men’s dedication to preaching in poverty. Enclosure was not the end purpose of Poor Clare life. This was the bond between poverty and contemplation—contemplation in poverty and poverty as itself a form of gospel-centered contemplation. In her famous Letters to Agnes of Prague Clare writes of Christ the Mirror into which the contemplative gazes and there discovers the poverty of Christ and his intense love of the world expressed in the cross. In turn, Clare suggests that the sisters are to be mirrors to those living in the world—mirrors in which people can see the gospel life.

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

++++++++++ Reflections

Prayer of a soul enkindled with love. My Way is the way of trust and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Some brethren came one day to test him to see whether he would let his thoughts get dissipated and speak of the things of this world. They said to him 'We give thanks to God that this year there has been much rain and the palm trees have been able to drink, and their shoots have grown, and the brethren have found manual work.' Abba John said to them, 'So it is when the Holy Spirit descends into the hearts of men; they are renewed and they put forth leaves in the fear of God.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Trusting in the Fruits

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God's Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.

What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.

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

Day Eleven - The Third Aim, cont'd

Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, wo show ourselves to be true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others. We recognize that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

The One Thing
August 11th, 2007
Saturday’s Reflection

THERE IS NEED OF ONLY ONE THING. … What you hold, may you always hold. What you do, may you always do and never abandon. But with swift pace, light step, and unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, go forward securely, joyfully, and swiftly on the path of prudent happiness.

- Clare of Assisi
“Second Letter to Agnes of Prague”
The Riches of Simplicity

From page 61 of The Riches of Simplicity: Selected Writings of Frances and Clare edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1998 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Weeds and Wheat"

The servants came to the owner of the field, and said, "Where did the weeds come from?" "An enemy has done this to us," he answered. And the servant said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because if you pull out the weeds, you will pull out the wheat with it. Let them both grow until the harvest, and at harvest time I will separate the two." (Matthew 13:28-30)

This passage has to be one of the most overlooked, least influential, yet most needed of Jesus' direct teachings. It presents the ambiguous character of reality in a way that we we're not ready for, it seems. The image of the weeds and the wheat has had almost no effect on the development of our moral theology, our self-understanding, or our patience with all institutions and with one another. Folks now chase after the yin and yang of Eastern religions as if they are a new, honest teaching. As usual, Jesus already said it: We just didn't hear.

We did, at least, speak of the Paschal Mystery as the mystery of faith, and the new liturgy proclaims, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. But even there, we don't often translate mythic language into the human patterns that myths point to. Maybe it never computed into half will be dark, half will be light, again and again. Or, No matter where, when or what, life will be both agony and ecstasy.

The field contains both weeds and wheat, and we must let them grow together. How much time I have wasted in trying to pull out my weeds! You cannot really pull them out, but don't ever doubt that they are there! Thus, the Sacrament of Penance is not the sacrament of the annihilation of sin, or even getting rid of sin. It is more reconciliation with and forgiveness of those dang weeds in the field.

from unpublished sermon notes

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

The river of grace

Receive the garment of incorruption which Christ unfolds and holds out to you. Do not refuse the gift or you will insult him who offers it. You have wallowed in the mud long enough; hasten now to the Jordan, in answer not to the call of John but to invitation of Christ. For the river of grace flows everywhere; its source is not in Palestine, nor does it flow into the sea there, but encircles the whole earth and empties itself into paradise. It flows in the opposite direction to the four rivers which flow out of paradise, and the things it carries in are far more precious than those they carry out. For the rivers that flow away carry spices and agricultural produce and the fruits of the earth. But the river of grace brings with it men and women, the offspring of the Spirit.

You must follow the example of Joshua, the son of Nun, and carry the gospel as he carried the ark. Leave the desert, leave sin behind you to cross the river Jordan. Hurry to follow the way of Christ, to enter the land fertile with gladdening fruits and flowing with the promised milk and honey. All those things are symbols for us, all are prefigurations of realities now made visible.

Gregory of Nyssa

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


"And he saw him no more." 2 Kings 2:12

It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to you as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say - "I cannot go on without Elijah." God says you must.

Alone at your Jordan. v.14. Jordan is the type of separation where there is no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one can take the responsibility for you. You have to put to the test now what you learned when you were with your Elijah. You have been to Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are up against it alone. It is no use saying you cannot go; this experience has come, and you must go. If you want to know whether God is the God you have faith to believe Him to be, then go through your Jordan alone.

Alone at your Jericho. v.15. Jericho is the place where you have seen your Elijah do great things. When you come to your Jericho you have a strong disinclination to take the initiative and trust in God, you want someone else to take it for you. If you remain true to what you learned with Elijah, you will get the sign that God is with you.

Alone at your Bethel. v.23. At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits' end and at the beginning of God's wisdom. When you get to your wits' end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don't; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray. Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

TOM JONES is still alive, with all his good and all his evil; he is walking about the streets; we meet him every day. We meet with him, we drink with him, we smoke with him, we talk with him, we talk about him. The only difference is that we have no longer the intellectual courage to write about him. We split up the supreme and central human being, Tom Jones, into a number of separate aspects. We let Mr. J. M. Barrie write about him in his good moments, and make him out better than he is. We let Zola write about him in his bad moments, and make him out much worse than he is. We let Maeterlinck celebrate those moments of spiritual panic which he knows to be cowardly; we let Mr. Rudyard Kipling celebrate those moments of brutality which he knows to be far more cowardly. We let obscene writers write about the obscenities of this ordinary man. We let puritan writers write about the purities of this ordinary man. We look through one peephole that makes men out as devils, and we call it the New Art. We look through another peephole that makes men out as angels, and we call it the New Theology. But if we pull down some dusty old books from the bookshelf, if we turn over some old mildewed leaves, and if in that obscurity and decay we find some faint traces of a tale about a complete man -- such a man as is walking on the pavement outside -- we suddenly pull a long face, and we call it the coarse morals of a bygone age.

'All Things Considered.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
let her not be granted an easy entrance;
but, as the Apostle says,
"Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
and if it is seen after four or five days
that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
and the difficulty of admission,
and that she persists in her petition,
then let entrance be granted her,
and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

After that let her live in the novitiate,
where the novices study, eat and sleep.
A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
to watch over them with the utmost care.
Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
and whether she is zealous
for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
by which the journey to God is made.

If she promises stability and perseverance,
then at the end of two months
let this rule be read through to her,
and let her be addressed thus:
"Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
If you can observe it, enter;
if you cannot, you are free to depart."
If she still stands firm,
let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
and again tested in all patience.
And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
that she may know on what she is entering.
And if she still remains firm,
after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

Then, having deliberated with herself,
if she promises to keep it in its entirety
and to observe everything that is commanded,
let her be received into the community.
But let her understand that,
according to the law of the Rule,
from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
which she was free to refuse or to accept
during that prolonged deliberation.



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

Saturday, August 11, 2007 Fish, Wine, & Oil Miracle of
Spyridon the Wonderworker
Kellia: 1 Maccabees 4:1-25 Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: St. Matthew 19:3-12

Maccabean Triumph II ~ Saving Israel: 1 Maccabees 4:1-25, especially vs.
10, 11: "let us cry unto heaven, if peradventure the Lord will have
mercy upon us, and remember the covenant of our fathers, and destroy
this host before our face this day: that...all the heathen may know that
there is One who delivereth and saveth Israel." In the New Testament
one finds a number of references to soldiers and acceptance of the
military. Soldiers who heard the Forerunner were told not to
"intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and to be content with your wages"
(Lk. 3:14). A centurion asked the Lord Jesus to heal his servant "who
was dear to him" (Lk. 7:2); and the Lord healed the servant. Christ
also praised the faith of the officer (Lk. 7:9-10). Of course, the
Lord's non-resistance at His arrest and His counsel to "love your
enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and
pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Mt. 5:44)
encourage us to abstain, if possible, from conflict.

At times, negotiation is impossible. In the face of the Seleucid
aggression, conflict resolution with king's representatives, who were
bent on the complete destruction of the Faith of God's People, was
impossible. Mattathias first moved away from Jerusalem to Modein to
avoid pressure to desecrate God's Laws (1 Mac. 2:1). But then the
king's officers came to Modein to enforce the end of all local religious
observances by God's People and to require the Faithful to offer
sacrifice to swine (1 Mac. 2:15). Mattathias spoke non-violently
against their order to "fulfill the King's commandment" (1 Mac. 2:18):
"God forbid that we should forsake the Law and the ordinances" (1 Mac.
2:21,22). However, when a fellow Jew offered pagan sacrifice,
Mattathias knew he faced coercion to sin (1 Mac. 1:54-57), and he struck
back (1 Mac. 2:24,25).

Events led the Jewish minority inexorably into war with the Seleucids (1
Mac. 2,3). Successive battles grew in size and determination on both
sides. The Seleucid army was dispatched to quell the Maccabeans and
annihilate them. Their size, training, and equipment for accomplishing
these goals appeared entirely capable of doing so. There was no room
for negotiation. Even surrender was not possible, only extermination.
Like their forebears before Pharaoh and his chariots at the Red Sea,
Judas Maccabeus and his men became wholly dependent on God's deliverance
to save the tiny minority of Israel (1 Mac. 4:9-11). As St. Nikolai of
Zica says: "...preparation is like a proposal to God; but it is God, not
the proposer who decides."

In the battle for Constantinople in 1453 AD, the beleaguered defenders
of that City, after six weeks of resistance, could not hold out against
the superior forces of the Ottoman Turks. Fortunately, as Bishop
Kallistos Ware notes, life under the new infidel rulers was not utterly
impossible, for "the Turks themselves...treated their Christian subjects
with remarkable generosity." In retrospect, we see that the defeat of
the White Russians by the Reds, though it led to a unimaginably brutal
repression of the Church, did not exterminate Orthodoxy in Russia.

As much as we admire peacemakers, let us also be humble before those who
have put their lives in mortal danger on the battlefield to save our
Holy Faith. The martyr Tsar Lazar of the Serbs said before his defeat
and death at Kosovo by superior Islamic forces: "It is better for us to
experience death, than to live in shame and slavery." God saved the
Maccabeans, for "His mercy endureth forever. Thus Israel had a great
deliverance that day. " (vss. 24,25). God is a Savior, and sometimes in
miraculous ways. Still, He may, or He may not, save His People from
extremity during this life, but He always acts for our best in the
struggle for eternal life.

O our God, Who loveth mankind, Who art ever gracious and conciliatory,
keep Thy holy Church and all men from wrath, fire, the sword, foreign
invasion, civil war and sudden death.



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