Wednesday, September 26, 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.

Lord and Father, our King and God, by your grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of you servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:97-120; PM Psalm 81, 82
2 Kings 6:1-23; 1 Cor. 5:9-6:8; Matt. 5:38-48

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 81. Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you.

September is almost gone. The leaves, whose colors used to be at their peak right about now, are, these days (thanks to global warming), still a mix of green with the brilliant reds and oranges. The hills seem to be listening for something; there are voices in the forest that are there at no other time of year.

The glory of this season is new for me every year; I never tire of it or cease to listen to the forest voices with rapt attention. I understand how people invest nature with God-like attributes and find the divine in tree, river, mountain, rock. Bound as I am to a God outside of nature, one I call the Creator of the natural world, I have to set that world in a context that also includes history and community. The God of Israel speaks in all three, and we ignore any one at our peril.

We "people of the Book" have usually focused on the history and the community, and frequently forgotten our groundedness in, and our duty to, the natural world. But that time is over: our very survival on this planet now depends on our listening to the God beyond nature reminding us that we were given this world to tend and care for, not exploit and degrade. Let us pray that it is not too late to hear his voice in the autumn woods.

Today we remember:

Lancelot Andrewes:
Psalm 63:1-8 or 34:1-8
1 Timothy 2:1-7a; Luke 11:1-4


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

Speaking to the Soul:

Save us when we fall

Daily Reading for September 26 • Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626

Lord Jesus, you have faced temptation,
you know how difficult it can be to distinguish
between vision and mirage, between truth and falsehood.
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall.

Help us in the Church —
When we confuse absence of conflict with the peace of God.
When we equate the shaping of ecclesiastical structures with serving you in the world.
When we imagine that our task is to preserve rather than to put at risk.
When we behave as though your presence in life were a past event
rather than a contemporary encounter.
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall.

Help us in the world —
When we use meaningless chatter to avoid real dialogue.
When we allow the image presented by the media
to blind us to the substance that lies behind it.
When we confuse privilege with responsibility
and claim rights when we should be acknowledging duties.
When we allow high-sounding reasons to cover evil actions.
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall.

We pray for our families and our friends
and hold them before you in our thoughts....
We especially pray for any who may be under particular pressures and stress at this time....
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall.

Lord Jesus, you have passed through the test of suffering
and are able to help those who are meeting their test now.
We pray for all who suffer....
We especially pray for those who suffer through their own folly
or the folly or malice of others....
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall.

Before the throne of God, where we may find mercy and timely help,
we remember those who have departed this life....
Dying, Christ broke the power of sin and death
that we might enter with him into the life eternal.
Lord, help us when we are tempted:
And save us when we fall. 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

A woman once described a friend of hers as being such a keen listener that even the trees leaned toward her, as if they were speaking their innermost secrets into her listening ears.
— Linda Hogan in Dwellings

To Practice This Thought: Go outside and listen to some trees.

++++++++++ Reflections

Be sure that the Lord will never forsake those who love Him when they run risks solely for His sake.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

It was said of Abba Silvanus that at Scetis he had a dijsciple called Mark whose obedience was great. He was a scribe. The old man loved him because of his obedience. He had eleven other disciples who were hurt because he loved him more than them. When they knew this, the elders were sorry about it and they came one day to him to reproach him about it. Taking them with him, he went to knock at each cell, saying, 'Brother so and so, come here; I need you,' but none of them came immediately. Coming to Mark's cell, he knocked and said, 'Mark.' Hearing the old man's voice, he jumped up immediately and the old man sent him off to serve and said to the elders, 'Fathers, where are the other brothers?' Then he went into Mark's cell and picked up his book and noticed that he had begun to write the letter 'omega' ["w"] but when he had heard the old man, he had not finished writing it. Then the elders said, 'Truly, abba, he whom you love, we love too and God loves him.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Baptism, a Rite of Passage

Baptism is a rite of passage. The Jewish people passed through the Red Sea to the Promised Land in the great exodus. Jesus himself wanted to make this exodus by passing through suffering and death into the house of his heavenly Father. This was his baptism. He asked his disciples and now asks us us: "Can you ... be baptised with the baptism with which I shall be baptised?" (Mark 10:38). When the apostle Paul, therefore, speaks about our baptism, he calls it a baptism into Jesus' death (Romans 6:4).

To be baptised means to make the passage with the people of Israel and with Jesus from slavery to freedom and from death to new life. It is a commitment to a life in and through Jesus.

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

Day Twenty Six - The Second Note, cont'd

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases as their love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Where There Is Love
September 26th, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

WHERE THERE IS LOVE and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.
Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.
Where the fear of the Lord stands guard, there the enemy finds no entry.
Where there is mercy and moderation, there is neither indulgence nor harshness.

- Francis of Assisi
“The Admonitions of Francis”
What About God? Now That You’re Off to College

From pages 48-49 of The Riches of Simplicity: Selected Writings of Francis and Clare edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1998 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Spiritual Spectators

Western civilization has had such victory in terms of science, technology—the outer world—because we are able to objectify everything. But the price we've paid is our state of alienation. We're over here apart from it. We analyze the world as an object over there.

Once consciousness surrenders to that subject/object split, quite frankly, prayer becomes very difficult, if not next to impossible. Prayer is a unitive experience. Yet for us prayer has sometimes become confused with mere inner "awarenesses"—me analyzing my own inner states and feelings about God. Those of us who were raised in religious contexts, for example, are often inclined to give a value judgment to everything and to ourselves. That's the guilt middle-class folks have. We have it because we are alienated from our own souls. We're standing over here, apart from ourselves, analyzing: "Is it good, better, best? Is it venial sin, is it mortal sin?"

When you're in that stance of analyzing the self, you're a spectator and thus necessarily divided from your own soul. Maybe that's why Jesus said, "Do not judge and you will not be judged" (Matthew 7:1). Our judgments separate us, alienate us and, therefore, condemn us.

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.

Eyes only for the sick

As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for. He was not interested in the comfort the house itself could offer, nor the crowds awaiting his arrival, nor the formal welcome prepared for him, nor the assembled household. Still less did he look for any outward signs of preparation for his reception. All he had eyes for was the spectacle of a sick woman, lying there consumed with a raging fever. At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at once stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God. So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ's; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death.

Peter Chrysologus

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


"If . . thou rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee. . . ." Matthew 5:23

If when you come to the altar, there you remember that your brother has anything against you, not - If you rake up something by a morbid sensitiveness, but - "If thou rememberest," that is, if it is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God: "first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Never object to the intense sensitiveness of the Spirit of God in you when He is educating you down to the scruple.

"First be reconciled to thy brother . . ." Our Lord's direction is simple, "first be reconciled." Go back the way you came, go the way indicated to you by the conviction given at the altar; have an attitude of mind and a temper of soul to the one who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing. Jesus does not mention the other person, He says - you go. There is no question of your rights. The stamp of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.

"And then come and offer thy gift." The process is clearly marked. First, the heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, then the sudden checking by the sensitiveness of the Holy Spirit, and the stoppage at the point of conviction, then the way of obedience to the word of God, constructing an unblameable attitude of mind and temper to the one with whom you have been in the wrong; then the glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 26, May 27, September 26
Chapter 7: On Humility

The first degree of humility, then,
is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes
and beware of ever forgetting it.
Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded;
let his thoughts constantly recur
to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins
those who despise God,
and to the life everlasting which is prepared
for those who fear Him.
Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices,
whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will,
and check also the desires of the flesh.


The very consciousness of God in time is central to Benedict's perception of the spiritual life. Benedict's position is both shocking and simple: being sinless is not enough. Being steeped in the mind of God is most important. While we restrain ourselves from harsh speech and bad actions and demands of the flesh and pride of soul, what is most vital to the fanning of the spiritual fire is to become aware that the God we seek is aware of us. Sanctity, in other words, is not a matter of moral athletics. Sanctity is a conscious relationship with the conscious but invisible God. The theology is an enlivening and liberating one: It is not a matter, the posture implies, of our becoming good enough to gain the God who is somewhere outside of us. It is a matter of gaining the God within, the love of Whom impels us to good.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Repose of the Apostle & Evangelist John
the Theologian
2nd Vespers John: 1 John 4:11-16 Epistle: 1 John 4:12-19 Gospel:
John 19:25-27; 21:24-25

1 John 4:11-16, especially vs.16: "And we have known and believed the
love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love
dwelleth in God, and God in him." This last verse, along with the first
from the present passage, often evokes two striking reactions. The
first response to saying "God loves us" may prompt the thought within
ourselves or others, "Not me, I am not worthy of God's love." The
second reaction, related to the first, may be couched in such a
statement as, "That's all well and good for St. John to say, but I have
little basis for knowing and believing that God loves me, so how can I
love all the unlovable people I have to deal with?"

Significant answers to these two questions are embedded in all that St.
John says here.
The word "so" in verse 11 reminds us of the entire Gospel, especially
the Birth, Passion, and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. How
much does God love our miserable race and you? He became one of us! He
defeated death by dying and, only then, by rising from the dead! Jesus
is an icon of God's love gleaming in history forever. Do you want to
know whether and how much God loves you? Consider what is in that
little "so"! See the Apostle vault over the objection that "No man hath
seen God at any time" (vs. 12). So what? The experience of live
witnesses testifies to tangible, objective evidence of knowing God's
love directly (1 Jn. 1:1-2).

After the first part of verse 12, and continuing to the end of verse 15,
the Beloved Disciple speaks on behalf of all the Apostles of Christ with
the pronoun "we." But, he includes us who are in living communion with
the Apostles in his "we." Why else have icons of the Apostles in our
churches? Why else does the Priest ask Christ to "have mercy upon
us...through the intercessions of...the holy, glorious, and all-laudable
Apostles"? They are among us!

At this point, St. John poses the crucial qualification: "If we love one
another" (vss. 11,12). It is a challenge; it is a sine qua non; for
without loving others you will not know and believe in "the love that
God hath to us," the "God [Who] is love," the possibility of dwelling in
love and of God dwelling in you (vs. 18). To do so you must work at
fulfilling the qualification. Bluntly, repeatedly, you have to ask God
to help you love others and make the effort yourself. Then substantial
things occur: "God dwelleth in" you as He does in all who accept the
Apostles' witness (vs. 12). You have "His love...perfected in" you, as
it is throughout the Church. The words, "is perfected," refer to an
ongoing process, not an instantly accomplished act of God. God is going
to be working with you, completing you as He always intended you to be.

Take hold of the conviction that you and all who accept the Apostolic
witness "dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His
Spirit" (vs. 13). In Chrismation, every Orthodox Christian receives
"the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." He is in you, whether or not
you hear and obey Him. His presence in you can strengthen you to affirm
with the Apostles, "we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the
Son to be the Savior of the world" (vs. 14).

What follows then? You will know and believe in yourself, as
experience, existentially, what the Apostles know and believe, that
"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in
him, and he in God" (vs. 15). Life will change for you the moment you
regularly make continuous effort to"love one another" (vs. 12), work
with the Spirit within you (vs. 13), witness by your life that Jesus is
"the Savior of the world" (vs. 14), and confess "that Jesus is the Son
of God" (vs. 15). You will know, and believe that, unworthy as you are,
God loves you, dwells in you, and that you can love the unlovable.

O Holy indwelling Spirit, enable me to grasp Christ, lay hold of Him,
and say, "I will never let Thee go; and do Thou, O Savior, remit my sins
for Thy tender mercy's sake."



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