Sunday, August 12, 2007

12/08/07 11th 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.


Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; 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 66, 67; PM Psalm 19, 46
2 Samuel 13:1-22; Rom. 15:1-13; John 3:22-36

From Forward Day by Day:

Hebrews 11:1-16. By faith [Abraham] received power of procreation, even though he was too old--and Sarah herself was barren--because he considered him faithful who had promised.

Infertility is seen as a curse in the Bible. Sarah and Abraham had the right relationship and the desire to procreate, but no child had been conceived. People having difficulty conceiving often ask, "How come it happens so easily for others, even those who don't want a child?" I have no answer.

After two miscarriages and a diagnosis of endometriosis, I faced the fact that I might not be able to have a baby. Prayerfully, I entered a painful period of questioning through which I learned a great deal about myself, what doctors know, and the faithfulness of God. The power to procreate is a gift, separate from but intimately joined with the gift of sexual enjoyment. I had taken both for granted and pursued my own ways of family planning, leaving God out of account.

Throughout this, I was comforted by the giver of life. Nearly two years later, our son was born. Within five years he became the big brother of two sisters. While I cannot promise every couple their very own baby, I can attest to God's goodness to those who seek him as the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Ruwenzori (Uganda)

Speaking to the Soul:

Venturing into the desert

Daily Reading for August 12 • The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The desert is the threshold to the meeting ground of God and man. It is the scene of the exodus. You do not settle there, you pass through. One then ventures on to these tracks because one is driven by the Spirit towards the Promised Land. But it is only promised to those who are able to chew sand for forty years without doubting their invitation to the feast in the end.

Alessandro Pronzato, quoted in The Desert: An Anthology for Lent by John Moses. © 1997. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
++++++++++ Reflections

O living flame of love, that tenderly wounds my soul, in it deepest centre! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
St John of the Cross
Living Flame, stanza 1.

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of him (Abba John the Dwarf) that one day he was weaving rope for two baskets, but he made it into one without noticing, until it had reached the wall, because his spirit was occupied in contemplation.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Burning With Love

Often we are preoccupied with the question "How can we be witnesses in the Name of Jesus? What are we supposed to say or do to make people accept the love that God offers them?" These questions are expressions more of our fear than of our love. Jesus shows us the way of being witnesses. He was so full of God's love, so connected with God's will, so burning with zeal for God's Kingdom, that he couldn't do other than witness. Wherever he went and whomever he met, a power went out from him that healed everyone who touched him. (See Luke 6:19.)

If we want to be witnesses like Jesus, our only concern should be to be as alive with the love of God as Jesus was.

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

Day Twelve - The Third Aim, cont'd

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependents. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus' challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Transform Us
August 12th, 2007
Sunday’s Reflection

help us to see your holiness
and to yearn to be better than we are.
May our gratitude for your great love
transform us from the inside out.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Upper Room Disciplines 2007

From page 231 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2007. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Prayer Advice"

In order to discover the right rhythm of prayer for us, the prayer that works with our temperament, we must listen to the ways that God speaks to us. How do you best slow down and enter in to the dialogue of revelation and response? It's different for each of us.

You may need a holy spot, perhaps a place where God has spoken to you before. Maybe it's out in nature, maybe it's a certain chair or before the Blessed Sacrament. Maybe it's in the last pew in church. It's that place where you can return to and sort of settle back and seek God's face. That's the simplest form of prayer: Each day simply seek, for a moment, if possible, the face of God. Know that you've looked at God eyeball to eyeball, and you've let God look at you.

If you're more the thinking type, ideas will lead you into that revelation-and-faith-dialogue. Use a book, if that's your style. But don't think that reading the book is itself the dialogue. You've got to end by talking to God from your heart, person-to-person, with ordinary words like you would talk to everybody else. Speak out of what you're really feeling, not what you think you're supposed to be feeling. If you're feeling depression, failure, competition, that's what you bring to God. Everything is data. There are no such things as distractions.

from The Price of Peoplehood

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

When I love my God!

Heaven and earth and all that is in them tell me wherever I look that I should love you, Lord, and they cease not to tell it to all, so that there is no excuse for them. But what is it that I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. None of these things do I love in loving my God. Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God — the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. This it is that I love, when I love my God.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith?" Matthew 8:26

When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God, but Our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His Name should have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones. Our trust is in God up to a certain point, then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits' end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him and His government of the world; He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.

"0 ye of little faith!" What a pang must have shot through the disciples - 'Missed it again!' And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced down right joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.

There are stages in life when there is no storm, no crisis, when we do our human best; it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.

We have been talking a great deal about sanctification - what is it all going to amount to? It should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight, but a deep joy to Him.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

SELF is the Gorgon. Vanity sees it in the mirror of other men and lives. Pride studies it for
itself and is turned to stone.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

When she is to be received
she promises before all in the oratory
fidelity to monastic life
and obedience.
This promise she shall make before God and His Saints,
so that if she should ever act otherwise,
she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.
Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document
in the name of the Saints whose relics are there
and of the Abbess who is present.
Let her write this document with her own hand;
or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request,
and let the novice put her mark to it.
Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar;
and when she has placed it there,
let the novice at once intone this verse:
"Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live:
and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118[119]:116).
Let the whole community answer this verse three times
and add the "Glory be to the Father."
Then let the novice prostrate herself at each one's feet,
that they may pray for her.
And from that day forward
let her be counted as one of the community.

If she has any property,
let her either give it beforehand to the poor
or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery,
reserving nothing at all for herself,
as indeed she knows that from that day forward
she will no longer have power even over her own body.
At once, therefore, in the oratory,
let her be divested of her own clothes which she is wearing
and dressed in the clothes of the monastery.
But let the clothes of which she was divested
be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there.
Then if she should ever listen to the persuasions of the devil
and decide to leave the monastery (which God forbid),
she may be divested of the monastic clothes and cast out.
Her document, however,
which the Abbess has taken from the altar,
shall not be returned to her, but shall be kept in the monastery.


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

Sunday, August 12, 2007 Wine, & Oil Tone 2 Martyrs
Photios & Anikytos
Kellia: 1 Maccabees 4:26-40 Epistle: 1 Corinthians9:1-12
Gospel: St. Matthew 17:14-23

Maccabean Triumph III ~ Bittersweet History: 1 Maccabees 4:26-40 LXX,
especially vss. 36, 37, 38: "Behold, our enemies are discomfited: let us
go up to cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary. Upon this all the host
assembled themselves together, and went up into mount Sion. And...they
saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned
up." This passage describes another victory of the small Maccabean
force against the larger Seleucid army and what came afterwards. First,
chaffing with defeat (1 Mac. 4:1-25), the Seleucid Viceroy Lysias came
himself with a larger army. His approach was not from the west off the
coast as previously. Rather, the Seleucids following the coast,
advanced from the south, and encamped north of Hebron at Beth-zur.
Next, the passage provides an example of the classic Jewish form of
prayer - worthy of study because the contours of the prayer appear in
our Orthodox prayers of the Anaphora. Judas' prayer begins, "Blessed
art Thou, O Savior of Israel" (vs. 30), a familiar style of Jewish
address to God and then reviews His gift of victories in historic
battles, especially ones in which tiny forces of God's people overcame
superior enemies: David's defeat of Goliath (1 Kngs. 17) or the rout of
a Philistine garrison by Jonathan and his armor bearer (1 Kngs.
14:1-17). Judas' prayer concludes with petitions that the Lord once
again assist those who love Him so that all "that know Thy Name [may]
praise Thee with thanksgiving." (1 Mac. 4:33).

All records of the ensuing battle agree that the small Maccabean brigade
prevailed against Lysias and his huge Seleucid army (cf. 1 Mac. 4:34-35
and also 2 Mac. 6:11-15), giving the Jews control of the Temple once
again (1 Mac. 4:36-40). However, a shock came when they found the
Temple in shambles. Immediately, they prostrated themselves in a time
of intense mourning. The victory also would open an extended period of
struggle for the ancient People of God lasting from 163 BC to AD 70,
during which Mosaic worship and national freedom seemed within their
grasp, and yet it was lost. Power politics is no solution for God's
People (Mt. 4:8; Jn. 19:11).

The Seleucid empire itself soon came under repeated pressure by the
Parthians in the east and then by the spreading domination of Rome from
the west. Hence, respite for the Jews was more a result of distraction
for the mighty Seleucids than because of enduring temporal strength.
Also, divisions would arise among the Jews themselves. Out of the whirl
of events in the region, a dynasty of Hasmonean rulers rose
temporarily. They served both as High Priests and as Kings; but this
interlude failed because of famine, coups d'état, and palace intrigues.
At last, gentile Idumeans with Roman support seized the throne - Herod
the Great and his family. Finally a bittersweet end came, as prophesied
by Christ (Mt. 24:1-2). A revolt against Rome in AD 70 ended in the
total destruction of the Temple and any semblance of a Jewish state
until AD 1948.

Nonetheless, the Maccabees, flush with a sweet victory - a triumph that
the Church recognizes as an act of God - "went up to Mount Zion" (1 Mac.
4:37). There they met more bittersweet reality, "the sanctuary
desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up" (vs. 38).
Many times in history, God's People have had to rebuild their sacred
places of worship, or even worse, to forfeit them. The first view of a
desecrated holy place always yields shock and mourning. They"fell down
flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the
trumpets, and cried toward heaven." (vs. 40). On Mount Zion, the
Maccabeans tasted the too frequent aftermath of victory in this world:
clean up and rebuilding, in order to reestablish "praise and
beauty...before [God], and holiness and His sanctuary" (Ps.
95:6 LXX).

O gracious Lord, increase Thy mercy upon us, that with Thee as our Ruler
and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not
finally the things eternal.



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