Tuesday, September 25, 2007



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 us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; 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 Sergius of Moscow, 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. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 78:1-39; PM Psalm 78:40-72
2 Kings 5:19-27; 1 Cor. 5:1-8; Matt. 5:27-37

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 5:27-37. You have heard that it was said.... But I say to you...

Our Lord has a way of combining reverence for God's law with a shocking freedom in interpreting, and even apparently contradicting, individual commandments. This is true even of the Ten Commandments. Jesus really isn't that far off from Jewish tradition here--there are rabbis who exercise an almost comparable freedom of interpretation. But only Jesus actually
contrasts the holy law with his interpretation of it; nobody else says, "I know what they told you long ago, but it no longer holds."

Matthew's gospel does the same thing in interpreting Jesus' own words. Whereas Mark reports that Jesus forbids divorce, by the time the saying gets to Matthew's community, there's an exception to it, probably for marriages among relatives close enough to scandalize Jewish sensibilities, a problem for Matthew's community though not for Mark's.

What a gift to the church! How dazzlingly wide are our horizons, our freedom to preach the gospel in new places, new circumstances, new idioms! The Lord speaks anew in every age, giving his church new words for new needs. The perplexing question is when to adhere to the tradition and when to move beyond it.

Today we remember:

Psalm 34:1-8 or 33:1-5,20-21
Ecclesiasticus 39:1-9; Matthew 13:47-52

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Spokane (United States)

Speaking to the Soul:

Daily Reading for September 25 • Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392

We pray for the Church,
where all too often, like Cain,
we have made the worship offered by our brother a cause for hostility and division.
We pray that our Lord may bind us together,
teaching us to value the richness of our diversity
and to rejoice in every fresh glimpse of God’s glory
seen through traditions other than our own.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God.

We pray for those lands where brother and sister fight sister and brother,
divided by arbitrary borders, ideology, or religion.
We pray for those lands where extremes of wealth and poverty are bitterly divisive.
We pray for those lands where power is grossly abused
and the dispossessed bear the heaviest burden.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God.

We pray for all who have been nourished on bitterness
and fed with the wrongs suffered by earlier generations.
We pray for all who have grown to hate people
instead of hating that which evil has done to people.
We pray for the young who are impatient for change
and the not-so-young who resist all change.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God.

We commend to God any special needs known to us....
As we remember the sick, the sorrowful, and all who are in any distress,
let us also remember that God has supremely made himself known to us as Savior
and calls us to share in God’s rescuing work.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God.

Lord, we would heal and not destroy.
Teach us the discipline of obedience to the commandment
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
and give us the fortitude to go on obeying to the end.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God.

Let us remember before God those who have died....
Lord, we are all sinners and utterly dependent on your grace.
We praise you for the forgiveness of sins
by which men and women are enabled to rise from death to eternal life.
Lord, teach us to love:
That we may be children of God. Amen.

From The Daily Office Revised, in The Wideness of God’s Mercy: Litanies to Enlarge Our Prayer, revised edition, compiled and adapted by Jeffery W. Rowthorn. Copyright © 2007. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

There is a Jewish tradition that a single visit to someone's sickbed takes away one sixtieth of their illness. The ancient sages understood that just being in the presence of another human being can lift a person up.
— Naomi Levy in To Begin Again

To Practice This Thought: Visit someone who is sick.
++++++++++ Reflections

Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?' then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Baptism: Becoming Children of the Light

When Jesus appears for the last time to his disciples, he sends them out into the world saying: "Go, ... make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

Jesus offers us baptism as the way to enter into communion with God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and to live our lives as God's beloved children. Through baptism we say no to the world. We declare that we no longer want to remain children of the darkness but want to become children of the light, God's children. We do not want to escape the world, but we want to live in it without belonging to it. That is what baptism enables us to do.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of September 24, 2007

When people are truly in love, they experience far more than just a mutual need of each other's company and consolation. In their relations with each other they become different people: they are more than their everyday selves, more alive, more understanding, more enduring... They are made over into new beings. They are transformed by the power of their love.

Love is the revelation of our deepest personal meaning, value and identity. But this revelation remains impossible as long as we are the prisoners of our own egoism. I cannot find myself in myself, but only in another. My true meaning and worth are shown to me not in my estimate of myself, but in the eyes of the one who loves me; and that one must love me as I am, with my faults and limitations, revealing to me the truth that these faults and limitations cannot destroy my worth in the eyes of that one who loves me; and that I am therefore valuable as a person, in spite of my shortcomings, in spite of the imperfections of my exterior "package." The package is totally unimportant. What matters is this infinitely precious message which I can discover only in my love for another person. And this message, this secret, is not fully revealed to me unless at the same time I am able to see and understand the mysterious and unique worth of the one I love.

Thomas Merton. "Love and Need" in Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979: 31.

Thought to Remember:

Love is not only a special way of being alive, it is the perfection of life. He who loves is more alive and more real that he was when he did not love.

Love and Living: 32.

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

Day Twenty Five - The Second Note -


Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) Love is the distinguishing feature of all true disciples of Christ who wish to dedicate themselves to him as his servants.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

It Is All Prayer
September 25th, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

PRAY. CALL OUT for forgiveness. Give thanks. Ask for guidance. Dream. Lay out your hopes and fears. Shout. Whisper. Talk. Listen. Laugh. Cry. Keep silence. Keep at it. It is all prayer. It is all your lifeline to God and God’s lifeline to you.

- Helen R. Neinast and Thomas C. Ettinger
What About God? Now That You’re Off to College

From page 48 of What About God? Now That You’re Off to College by Helen R. Neinast and Thomas C. Ettinger. Copyright © 2000 by the authors. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Stone Houses

Some people live without anything and have everything. The example that always comes to mind for me is in Africa, where I preached. This little old black African man and I prayed together after a long session. He prayed with such tenderness, saying, "O Lord, help us never to move into stone houses." And everybody echoed, "Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord." Afterward I asked the missionaries what he had meant. "Well," a priest said, "look at the villages. They're all door-less thatch huts. And so as long as you live a simple life in a thatch hut with no doors, you don't know where your family ends and where the next family begins. You move in and out of one another's lives, and it's all really one family. And there's no possessing, there's no mine and thine; it's ours. It's a world of community."

"Once the first stone hut is built in a village," the missionary continued, "very quickly a door and locks are put on it. Immediately the world of mine and thine is created. The entire social worldview, the entire understanding of self, changes."

We've got to realize the world of stone huts is the only world you and I have ever known. We've paid a price for that inheritance. We can't reverse it. We're not going to live in thatch huts, and I'm not here to say we should. But we've got to know what we've given up by the so-called technological advances of this very sophisticated society. It's one reason why we are producing neurotic and psychotic people at such an unbelievable rate. Teen suicides, for example, doubled in the 1980s. Crime in general has increased 500 percent since 1960! We've chosen security over solidarity in First World countries, in Western Europe and North America. Jesus said, "You can't serve God and mammon." I'd say you can't see God very well if you spend too much time inside your stone house.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

Rest in heaven

Love brings joy because the more it increases the more generously it gives. Consequently, while their acquisitions impoverish those who desire evil, charitable givers are enriched by their gifts. The greedy are troubled, seeking revenge for injuries inflicted on them; the charitable are at peace, delighting to forgive any harm done to them. The avaricious avoid practicing the works of mercy, while the charitable perform them cheerfully. The object of the avaricious is to injure their neighbors; the charitable do them no harm. By self-exaltation the greedy sink down into hell; by humbling themselves the charitable ascend to heaven.

But when shall I ever be able fittingly to sing the praises of love, which is not solitary in heaven or bereft on earth? For on earth it is fed by the words of God; in heaven it is filled by the words of God. On earth it has the company of friends, in heaven the fellowship of angels. It toils in the world; it finds rest in heaven.

Fulgentius of Ruspe

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


"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." Matthew 5:41

The summing up of Our Lord's teaching is that the relationship which He demands is an impossible one unless He has done a supernatural work in us. Jesus Christ demands that there be not the slightest trace of resentment even suppressed in the heart of a disciple when he meets with tyranny and injustice. No enthusiasm will ever stand the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His worker, only one thing will, and that is a personal relationship to Himself which has gone through the mill of His spring-cleaning until there is only one purpose left - I am here for God to send me where He will. Every other thing may get fogged, but this relationship to Jesus Christ must never be.

The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own. Jesus Christ is the only One Who can fulfil the Sermon on the Mount.

If we are to be disciples of Jesus, we must be made disciples supernaturally; as long as we have the dead set purpose of being disciples we may be sure we are not. "I have chosen you." That is the way the grace of God begins. It is a constraint we cannot get away from; we can disobey it, but we cannot generate it. The drawing is done by the supernatural grace of God, and we never can trace where His work begins. Our Lord's making of a disciple is supernatural. He does not build on any natural capacity at all. God does not ask us to do the things that are easy to us naturally; He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace, and the cross will come along that line always.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

PESSIMISM says that life is so short that it gives nobody a chance; religion says that life is so short that it gives everybody his final chance.

Introduction to 'Nicholas Nickleby.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

anuary 25, May 26, September 25
Chapter 7: On Humility

Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).

Hence, brethren,
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
we must
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the would,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.


If the twentieth century has lost anything that needs to be rediscovered, if the western world has denied anything that needs to be owned, if individuals have rejected anything that needs to be professed again, if the preservation of the globe in the twenty-first century requires anything of the past at all, it may well be the commitment of the Rule of Benedict to humility.

The Roman Empire in which Benedict of Nursia wrote his alternative rule of life was a civilization in a decline not unlike our own. The economy was deteriorating, the helpless were being destroyed by the warlike, the rich lived on the backs of the poor, the powerful few made decisions that profited them but plunged the powerless many into continual chaos, the Empire expended more and more of its resources on militarism designed to maintain a system that, strained from within and threatened from without, was already long dead.

It is an environment like that into which Benedict of Nursia flung a Rule for privileged Roman citizens calling for humility, a proper sense of self in a universe of wonders. When we make ourselves God, no one in the world is safe in our presence. Humility, in other words, is the basis for right relationships in life.

Later centuries distorted the notion and confused the concept of humility with lack of self-esteem and substituted the warped and useless practice of humiliations for the idea of humility. Eventually the thought of humility was rejected out of hand and we have been left as a civilization to stew in the consequences of our arrogance.

Benedict's magna carta of humility directs us to begin the spiritual life by knowing our place in the universe, our connectedness, our dependence on God for the little greatness we have. Anything else, he says, is to find ourselves in the position of "a weaned child on its mother's lap," cut off from nourishment, puny, helpless--however grandiose our images of ourselves--and left without the resources necessary to grow in the spirit of God. No infant child is independent of its mother, weaned or not. No spiritual maturity can be achieved independent of a sense of God's role in our development.

Jacob's ladder is a recurring image of spiritual progress in classic spiritual literature, as clear in meaning to its time as the concept of the spiritual journey, for instance, would be to a later age. It connected heaven and earth. It was the process by which the soul saw and touched and climbed and clung to the presence of God in life, whose angels "descended and ascended" in an attempt to bring God down and raise us up. That ladder, that precariously balanced pathway to the invisible God, Benedict said, is the integration of body and soul. One without the other, it seems, will not do. Dualism is a hoax.

Just as false, though, is the idea that "getting ahead" and "being on top" are marks of real human achievement. Benedict says that in the spiritual life up is down and down is up, "we descend by exaltation and we ascend by humility." The goals and values of the spiritual life, in other words, are just plain different than the goals and values we've been taught by the world around us. Winning, owning, having, consuming, and controlling are not the high posts of the spiritual life. And this is the basis for social revolution in the modern world.


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

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 The Repose of the
Venerable Sergios of Radonezh
Kellia: Jeremiah 14:10-21 Epistle: Ephesians
5:20-26 Gospel: St. Luke 5:12-16

Signs For Awakening III ~ False Prophets: Jeremiah 14:10-21 LXX,
especially vs. 14: "Then the Lord said to me, the Prophets prophesy lies
in My Name: I sent them not and I commanded them not, and I spoke not to
them: for they prophesy to you false visions, and divinations, and
auguries, and devices of their own heart." When a Bishop or Priest of
the Church ventures to preach the word of the Lord, pray to God for
him. Do not wait passively to listen to the message and assume that he
will easily speak the truth of the Gospel. Pray to God that he be moved
by the Holy Spirit, freed of delusion, empowered to proclaim only the
Lord's Truth, and made fearless of any cost to himself.

Our Bishops are chosen and examined closely for their capacity to
proclaim and defend the truth of the Gospel, yet even they are fallible
men. Pray to God for them. At ordination, most of our Priests are
vested with the epigonation, the oblong vestment suspended on the right
hip, symbolizing that they bear "the sword of the Spirit, which is the
word of God" (Eph. 6:17) and are trusted with "rightly dividing the word
of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Again, these men have human limitations, and
need prayerful support and Divine grace to preach. Pray to God for them!

The present passage portrays a Prophet - essentially a preacher - a man
submitted to God, unflinching in his obedience to the Lord, and proven
true, for "there did not fall one of his words to the ground" (1 Kngs.
3:19). The description of Jeremiah in these verses reveals several
aspects of the struggle all godly preachers face in proclaiming the
truth without wavering. Few who heard Jeremiah prayed for him or "held
him up before the Lord" in his ministry.

God directed Jeremiah to foretell severe judgment coming to his people
"wandering" into sin - nay, embracing sin (Jer. 14:10). Who finds a
"hell and brimstone" preacher lovable? People enjoying their sins
likely disapprove and punish those who "dare" tell them the truth.

Not only was Jeremiah's message unpopular - true though it was - but God
even restrained him from praying "for [the] good" of this people (vs.
11). Still, he remained active amidst his congregation as they attended
services, made offerings, and kept the fasting seasons. However, God
found their religion superficial and without moral and spiritual
substance. Therefore, Jeremiah was to avoid asking God to withhold the
consequences of their behavior. What must come was not to be inhibited
by a righteous man's prayer (Jas. 5:16).

Be humble before a man like Jeremiah who preaches staunchly to a
prevailing milieu in which false prophets are "honored by men that
stoppeth [their] ears...and shutteth [their] eyes from seeing evil" (Is.
33:15). True Prophets warn of "famine and sword, with none to bury"
(Jer. 14:16) and God blesses these as they, like a sparrow, sit "alone
upon the housetop" (Ps. 101:8).

In his loneliness, Jeremiah was required to grieve openly before the
people, so they might see his "eyes shed tears day and night, and let
them not cease" (Jer. 14:17). Then the people might see him sorrowing
for the wounds coming on them and perhaps some might even repent; but
his sorrow only alienated him further from those to whom he carried
God's message.

A brave, honest preacher knows that terror is coming upon his people
because they cling to their sin. They may admit their wrong doing, but
they do not change (vs. 20). In your sins, never think your prayer will
be answered as you ask just because God does not break covenant with His
People. He allow consequences for sins. Still, if you are exiled, your
descendants may come home. Our clergy face a fearsome ministry, never
cease to pray for them - and for yourself!

O God, uphold our Bishops and Priests that they may stand in innocency
before Thy Throne, proclaim the Gospel of Thy Kingdom, and rightly
minister the word of Thy truth.



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