Monday, September 17, 2007

17/09/07 Mon in the 16th week after Pentecost


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, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 56, 57, [58]; PM Psalm 64, 65
1 Kings 21:1-16; 1 Cor. 1:1-19; Matt. 4:1-11

Spiritual Practice of the Day

In the muddled mess of this world, in the confusion and boredom and amazement, we ought to be able to spot something — an event, a person, a memory, an act, a turning of the soul, the flash of bright wings, the surprise of sweet compassion — somewhere we ought to pick out a glory to celebrate.
— Samuel H. Miller in The Dilemma of Modern Belief

To Practice This Thought: Identify something glorious and celebrate it!

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 4:1-11. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Does the Holy Spirit really lead people into being tempted by the devil? Why would our Lord have to be subjected to an ordeal designed by Satan? I'm not sure how to answer those questions, but Matthew's answer to the second is simple: because we are. He's already told us that Jesus' name fulfills ancient
prophecy about a royal child to be named Emmanuel (God is with us)-and Matthew is very particular about his prophecies.

In this gospel God saves people precisely by being with them, in every circumstance they might face in following him. That's a concept which Matthew takes quite literally. For us to follow Jesus, we need to see him right in front of us--in situations of injustice, persecution, difficulty, hassles with insiders and outsiders, illness, confusion and-yes-the presence of the evil one. To deny the evil and anger of such places would be silly-but they are changed because of Who is in them with us. Remember that the next time you find yourself in conversation with the demons that propose to define for us, too, what it might mean to be God's beloved.

Today we remember:

Hildegard of Bingen:
Psalm 104:25-34
Sirach 43:1-2,6-7,9-12,27-28; John 3:16-21

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Southern Nyanza (Kenya)

Speaking to the Soul:

Hildegard of Bingen

Daily Reading for September 17 • Hildegard, 1179

Jesus Christ, the love that gives love,
You are higher than the highest star;
You are deeper than the deepest sea;
You cherish us as your own family;
You embrace us as your own spouse;
You rule over us as your own subjects;
You welcome us as your dearest friend.
Let all the world worship you.

Holy Spirit, the life that gives life.
You are the cause of all movement;
You are the breath of all creatures;
You are the salve that purifies our souls;
You are the ointment that heals our wounds;
You are the fire that warms our hearts;
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you.

A prayer of Hildegard of Bingen, quoted in 2000 Years of Prayer, compiled by Michael Counsell. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
++++++++++ Reflections

A novice was grieving about her numerous distractions during prayer: "I too, have many," replied St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "but I accept all for love of the good God, even the most extravagant thoughts that come into my head."
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should one pray?' The old man said 'There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, "Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy." And if the conflict grows fiercer say, "Lord, help!" He knows very well what we need and he shews us his mercy.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Standing Erect

About the end-time Jesus says: "There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the turmoil of the ocean and its waves; men fainting away with terror and fear at what menaces the world, for the power of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:25-28) All of this is already taking place. For anyone who has listened deeply to the heart of God, the despair of the world and the coming of the great liberation are both visible every day.

What then should we do? Jesus says it clearly: "Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand" (Luke 21:28). There is so much hope here. We do not have to faint but can stand straight, welcoming our Lord with outstretched arms.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of September 17, 2007

If I am to know the will of God, I must have the right attitude toward life. I must first of all know what life is, and to know the purpose of my existence.
 It is all very well to declare that I exist in order to save my soul and give glory to God by doing so. And it is all very well to say that, in order to do this, I obey certain commandments and keep certain counsels. Yet knowing this much, and indeed knowing all moral theology and ethics and canon law, I might still go through life conforming myself to certain indications of God's will without ever fully giving myself to God. For that, in the last analysis, is the real meaning of His will. He does not need our sacrifices, He asks for our selves. And if He prescribes certain acts of obedience, it is not because obedience is the beginning and the end of end of everything. It is only the beginning. Charity, divine union, transformation in Christ: these are the end.

Thomas Merton. No Man Is An Island. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955: 63.

Thought to Remember:

[W]hat God wants of me is myself. That means to say that His will for me points to one thing: the realization, the discovery, and the fulfillment of my self, my true self, in Christ. No Man Is An Island: 63-64.

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

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Risk All for Love"

The Pharisee is one who demands a sign (Mark 8:11); the poor person is one who believes "that the promise made him or her by the Lord will be fulfilled" (Luke 1:45). The Pharisee is the one who takes pride in being virtuous (Luke 18:9); the poor person is the one who cries to God day and night, even when God delays to help (Luke 18:7). The beggar who continues to pester the Lord is more pleasing than the dutiful and self-sufficient servant.

Jesus has reversed our human scale of values. He would rather have us live in the insecurity of traded money (Matthew 25:14–30) while trusting in the Master, than to place our hope in the sure thing that we have hidden out of fear in the field. Risk all for love, Jesus tells us, even your own life. Give that to me and let me save it. People who seek to save their own lives, doing a good job of saving themselves, are saying that God’s salvation is not needed. People who lose their lives for the sake of the Good News will find their lives. The healthy religious person is the one who allows God to save.

If this is the ideal Christian attitude toward God, then Mary is the ideal Christian of the Gospels. She sums up in herself the attitude of the poor one whom God is able to save. She is deeply aware of her own emptiness without God (Luke 1:52). She longs for the fulfillment of God's promise (1:54). She has left her own self open, available for God's work (1:45, 49). And when the call comes, she makes a full personal surrender: "Let it be!" (1:38).

from The Great Themes of Scripture

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

Holy Church is called the body of Christ

It is by analogy with the human body that holy Church, that is, all believers, is called the body of Christ, for it has received the Spirit of Christ whose presence in a person is indicated by the name Christian which Christ has given him. This name designates Christ's members, those who share in the Spirit of Christ, those who are anointed by him who is the anointed one; for the name Christian comes from Christ, and Christ means anointed, anointed with the toil of gladness which he has received in fullness above all his fellows, in order to pour it out on all his companions as the head upon the members of the body: like precious ointment upon the head which runs down from the head to the beard and then to the edge of the garment to flow over all and give life to all. So it is that when you become a Christian, you become a member of Christ, a member of the body of Christ sharing in the Spirit of Christ.

Hugh of Saint Victor

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


"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man." 1 Corinthians 10:13

The word "temptation" has come down in the world; we are apt to use it wrongly. Temptation is not sin, it is the thing we are bound to meet if we are men. Not to be tempted would be to be beneath contempt. Many of us, however, suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer, simply because we have refused to let God lift us to a higher plane where we would face temptations of another order.

A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of the nature. Every man has the setting of his own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.

Temptation is a suggested short cut to the realization of the highest at which I aim - not towards what I understand as evil, but towards what I understand as good. Temptation is something that completely baffles me for a while, I do not know whether the thing is right or wrong. Temptation yielded to is lust deified, and is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before.

Temptation is not something we may escape, it is essential to the full-orbed life of a man. Beware lest you think you are tempted as no one else is tempted; what you go through is the common inheritance of the race, not something no one ever went through before. God does not save us from temptations; He succours us in the midst of them (Heb. 2:18)

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.

But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).


Benedictine monasticism is life lived within the circuit of four guy wires: the Gospel, the teachings of its abbots and prioress, the experience of the community and the Rule of Benedict itself.

The Gospel gives meaning and purpose to the community. The teaching of its abbots and prioresses gives depth and direction to the community. The experience of the community, spoken by its members in community Chapter meetings, gives truth to the community. But it is the Rule of Benedict that gives the long arm of essential definition and character to the community.

Each of us, monastic or not, deals with the same elements in life. We are all bound to the Gospel, under leadership of some kind, faced with the dictates of tradition or the cautions of experience and in need of a direction. Monastic spirituality offers enduring principles and attitudes far beyond whatever culture embodies them. Once embraced, they guide our way through whatever the psychological fads or religious practices or social philosophies of the time that offer comfort but lack staying power. "All are to follow the teaching of the Rule," Benedict, the great abbot teaches, "and no one shall rashly deviate from it." Adapt the Rule, yes. Abandon the Rule, no.

The fact is that it is in the Rule itself that the principles and values of Benedictine spirituality are stored and maintained. No matter how far a group goes in its attempts to be relevant to the modern world, it keeps one foot in an ancient one at all times. It is this world that pulls it back, time and time again, to the tried and true, to the really real, to a Beyond beyond ourselves. It is to these enduring principles that every age looks, not to the customs or practices that intend to embody them from one age to another.

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

Monday, September 17, 2007
Martyrs Sophia and her Daughters, Faith, Love, and Hope

Kellia: Jeremiah 7:2-15 Epistle: Ephesians: 1:22-2:3 Lukan Jump
Gospel: St. Luke 3:19-22

Jeremiah's Temple Message I ~ The True Refuge: Jeremiah 7:2-15 LXX,
especially vss. 3, 4: "Correct your ways and your devices, and I will cause
you to dwell in this place. Trust not in yourselves with lying words, for
they shall not profit you at all, saying, It is the temple of the Lord, the
temple of the Lord." Chapters Seven through Ten of Jeremiah are often
termed, "Jeremiah's Temple Message" or "Sermon." Actually, it is a series
of addresses given by the Prophet at various times, not on a single
occasion. They are significant because of the location of their delivery.
The Temple was the premier public site in ancient Israel. These Temple
messages of the Prophet, which denounce the people's immoral living and
their blind reliance on the rituals of the Temple, set off a firestorm of
protest aimed squarely at the Prophet himself. They nearly cost him his
life. (To read about the reaction, see Jer. 26:7-24.)

The present passage is the first of these fiery Temple messages. Jeremiah
declares, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, all Judea" (vs. 2). Bear in mind
that the Prophet terms this message as "the word of the Lord" (vs. 2).
God's word is to be heard for its eternal, abiding significance, an import
reinforced by our Lord Jesus Who quotes a key verse in the passage. He
changed it to His own personal declaration (compare Jer. 7:11 and Lk.
19:46). This is the word of the living God Who judges us for investing
absolute trust in the Liturgies and services of our beautiful churches
instead of in Him, whenever we hold lightly His commandments and His

The Psalmist David declares: "Our God is refuge and strength, a helper in
afflictions which mightily befall us" (Ps. 45:1 LXX). The same Spirit of
God that illumined Jeremiah led David to declare that the ungodly "are like
the chaff which the wind doth hurl away from the face of the earth" (Ps. 1:4
LXX). Do not ever believe that mere attendance at Liturgy and parish
activities is true religion. Examine yourself and seek God's help and the
leading of His Spirit for your life. Such is true worship of "the undivided

Heed the Lord's warning: "Trust not in yourselves with lying words...saying,
It is the temple of the Lord" (Jer. 7:4). Beloved, attend the Liturgy, give
tithes and offerings, help in building a noteworthy example of Orthodox
architecture; but know that these activities in themselves will not deliver
you in moments of "wrath, famine, earthquake, flood, fire, the sword,
foreign invasion, civil war...sudden death....and all sickness." Assuming
that pious actions alone please God is to trust in creatures, and, as
Jeremiah puts it, to trust "in lying words" (vs. 8). "Our God is refuge."
Turn your heart to Him. Let Him guide your every thought, word, and deed.

As the Lord teaches in the Prophet's sermon, "thoroughly correct your ways
and your practices, and do indeed execute judgment between a man and his
neighbor" (vs. 5). Allow God's light to shine into every facet of your
business or profession, all your relationships, every dealing of yours with
others. God cares how you act with non-Orthodox, street kids, the poor in
our cities and towns, and the young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy
without a solution for her life. Word and deed are one thing. God knows
better than you do every secret thought in your heart that savors fantasies
of " murder and...adultery," stealing or swearing falsely in service to the
idols honored in the temples of your passions (vs. 9). Correct your ways
and your heart!

Beloved of the Lord, Orthodoxy means seeing "the true light," receiving "the
heavenly Spirit," finding "the true Faith," and, worshiping "the undivided
Trinity Who hath saved us." With God's help, strive to receive His Holy
Gifts worthily and to pray aright to the merciful God.

Grant that these Mysteries may be unto the healing of my soul and body, the
averting of everything contrary thereto, the enlightenment of the eyes of my
heart, and peace in my spirit.



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