Friday, September 28, 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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 88; PM Psalm 91, 92
2 Kings 9:17-37; 1 Cor. 7:1-9; Matt. 6:7-15

From Forward Day by Day:

2 Kings 9:17-37. In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, "This is Jezebel."

This may not be the most edifying of Bible verses, but it makes its point. Jezebel, the strong-willed, scheming, manipulative wife of the brave but disreputable King Ahab, is best known for the incident of Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21). Naboth refused to sell the king a vineyard his family had owned for generations. Jezebel taunted her husband as a weakling, then arranged for Naboth's murder and for the crown to take the vineyard. The prophet Elijah confronted the royal couple saying that where the dogs had licked up the blood of Naboth, they would also lick up Ahab's and Jezebel's blood. Ahab was soon killed in battle. Palace coups and intrigues followed, and Jezebel was slain, her blood splattered, and only her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands recovered.

We see that evil does not go unpunished; those who live by the sword die by the sword. It may not be pretty, but people-including heads of state-who lie and cheat, who pursue personal vendettas and make a mockery of justice and peace, will be held accountable.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of St. Andrew's, Dunkeld and Dunblane (Scotland)

Speaking to the Soul:

Help us to live in peace

Daily Reading for September 28

Lord Jesus, in a dark hour you spoke of the gift of peace;
we beg that gift for ourselves,
that we may have the inner serenity that cannot be taken from us.
Then we may be messengers of your peace to a strife-torn world.
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

We pray for those who are fighting—
injury, disfigurement, and death their constant companions,
nerves and bodies strained beyond endurance,
the streams of compassion drying up within them,
their only goal the destruction of the “enemy.”
Whatever the color of their skin—we pray for them.
Whatever the sound of their tongue—we pray for them.
Whatever the insignia they wear—we pray for them.
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

We pray for all who have been broken in battle;
for those who weep and those who can no longer weep;
for those who feel the anguish
and for those who have lost the capacity to feel;
for all prisoners—and all prison guards;
for those who exist in war-torn lands
and for those who no longer have a homeland.
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

We pray for all who stir up strife;
for all who make a profit out of the misery of others;
for all who are led into vice as they seek a momentary forgetfulness;
for all who believe that war is inevitable.
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

The desire to press self-interest is deeply rooted in us.
We defend our attitudes when we should be ashamed of them.
We compare the noblest aspects of our own cause with the basest of that of our opponents.
We are reluctant to admit that our own selfish desires could contribute to the miseries of others.
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

We bring to you particular needs....
and we remember those who have died....
Give peace in our time, Lord.
Help us to live in peace.

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

Already we are immersed in one of the primary causes of violence — all violence — namely, dualistic thinking, the human compulsion to divide everything into adversarial opposites.
— Diarmuid O'Murchu in Poverty, Celibacy, and Obedience

To Practice This Thought: Think of one conflict in today's world; remove the crutch of dualistic thinking that is supporting it; then contemplate again the nature of the conflict.
++++++++++ Reflections

Come, then, O beautiful soul. Since you know now that your desired Beloved lives hidden within your heart, strive to be really hidden with Him, and you will embrace Him within you and experience Him with loving affection.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Xanthias said, 'The thief was on the cross and he was justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number jof the apostles lost all his labour in one single night and descended from heaven to hell. Therefore, let no-one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Baptism, the Way to Community

Baptism is more than a way to spiritual freedom. It also is the way to community. Baptising a person, whether child or adult, is receiving that person into the community of faith. Those who are reborn from above through baptism, and are called to live the life of sons and daughters of God, belong together as members of one spiritual family, the living body of Christ. When we baptise people, we welcome them into this family of God and offer them guidance, support, and formation, as they grow to the full maturity of the Christ-like life.

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


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that they follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God's world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within them an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Renewing Ourselves
September 28th, 2007
Friday’s Reflection

IT IS GOOD TO RENEW ourselves from time to time by closely examining the state of our souls, as if we had never done it before. For nothing tends more to the full assurance of faith than to keep ourselves by this means in humility and the exercise of all good works.

- John Wesley
A Longing for Holiness

From page 69 of A Longing for Holiness: Selected Writings of John Wesley edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1997 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

St. John of the Cross

True spirituality is utterly countercultural because it's non-merchandisable, non-measurable, non-provable. It is precisely nothing. Who wants to be nothing in this world? This culture's goal is for us to be something, to be everything, "to win friends and influence people."

St. John of the Cross puts it this way: "In order to come to pleasure you have not, you must go by a way that you will enjoy not. To come to the knowledge that you have not, you must go by a way that you know not. To come to the possession that you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not. To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way that you are not" (Ascent of Mount Carmel, I, 13, #10).

We fear nothingness, of course. That's why we fear death, too. I suspect that death is the shocking realization that everything I thought was me, everything I held onto so desperately, was precisely nothing. The nothingness we fear so much is, in fact, the treasure that we long for. We long for the space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect; where I am who I am, and its enough. Spirituality teaches us how to get naked ahead of time, so God can make love to us as we really are.

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.

The martyrs suffered in Jesus' presence

The martyrs found themselves hard-pressed, beset by danger from violent storms of hatred in this world, a danger not so much to their bodies which, after all, they would have to part with sometime, but rather to their faith. If they were to give way, if they should succumb either to the harsh tortures of their persecutors or to love of this present life, they would forfeit the reward promised them by the God who had taken away all ground for fear. Not only had he said: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; he had also left them his own example. The precept he had enjoined on them he personally carried out, without attempting to evade the hands of those who scourged him, the blows of those who struck him, or the spittle of those who spat on him. Neither the crown of thorns pressed into his head nor the cross to which the soldiers nailed him encountered any resistance from him. None of these torments did he try to avoid. Though he himself was under no obligation to suffer them, he endured them for those who were, making his own person a remedy for the sick. And so the martyrs suffered, but they would certainly have failed the test without the presence of him who said: Know that I am with you always, until the end of time.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"One thing thou lackest: . . come, take up the cross, and follow Me." Mark 10:21

The rich young ruler had the master passion to be perfect. When he saw Jesus Christ, he wanted to be like Him. Our Lord never puts personal holiness to the fore when He calls a disciple; He puts absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself - a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship. Luke 14:26 has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. Very few of us know the absolute "go" of abandonment to Jesus.

"Then Jesus beholding him loved him." The look of Jesus will mean a heart broken for ever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked at you? The look of Jesus transforms and transfixes. Where you are "soft" with God is where the Lord has looked at you. If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on your own way, certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, it is an indication that there are whole tracts of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.

"One thing thou lackest . . ." The only "good thing" from Jesus Christ's point of view is union with Himself and nothing in between.

"Sell whatsoever thou hast . ." I must reduce myself until I am a mere conscious man, I must fundamentally renounce possessions of all kinds, not to save my soul (only one thing saves a man - absolute reliance upon Jesus Christ) - but in order to follow Jesus. "Come, and follow Me." And the road is the way He went.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 28, May 29, September 28
Chapter 7: On Humility

As for self-will,
we are forbidden to do our own will
by the Scripture, which says to us,
"Turn away from your own will" (Eccles. 18:30),
and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God
that His will be done in us.
And rightly are we taught not to do our own will
when we take heed to the warning of Scripture:
"There are ways which seem right,
but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell" (Prov. 16:25);
and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless:
"They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will."

And as for the desires of the flesh,
let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us,
when he says to the Lord,
"Every desire of mine is before You" (Ps. 37:10).


Benedict makes two points clearly: First, we are capable of choosing for God in life. We are not trapped by an essential weakness that makes God knowable but not possible. Second, we are more than the body. Choosing God means having to concentrate on nourishing the soul rather than on sating the flesh, not because the flesh is bad but because the flesh is not enough to make the human fully human. To give ourselves entirely to the pleasures of the body may close us to beauties known only to the soul.

Humility lies in knowing who we are and what our lives are meant to garner. The irony of humility is that, if we have it, we know we are made for greatness, we are made for God.

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

Friday, September 28, 2007
The Holy Prophet Baruch
Kellia: Jeremiah 16:1-13 Epistle: Ephesians
6:18-24 Gospel: St. Luke 6:17-23

Signs For Awakening VI ~ Abstinence From Joy: Jeremiah 16:1-13 LXX,
especially vs. 9: "For thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Behold, I will
make to cease out of this place before your eyes, and in your days the
voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom,
and the voice of the bride." This portion of Jeremiah is a shock to
contemplate, since God's directives to the Prophet serve only further to
isolate him socially from friends and neighbors. God effectively turns
Jeremiah into an isolated, lonely figure withdrawn from all the normal
events and joys of life. He is not to marry. He is not to "rejoice
with those who rejoice, [nor] weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15).
Rather, he is to pour all his energy and attention to the message of
judgment for which he is so well-known, and, if he is challenged about
the unrelenting message that he has as a God-given task, then he is to
repeat the same message yet again: "ye walk every one after the lusts of
your own evil heart, so as not to hearken to Me, therefore I will cast
you off from the good land into a land which neither ye nor your fathers
have known; and ye shall serve there other gods, who shall have no mercy
upon you" (Jer. 16:12,13).

Why does God require celibacy and isolation of some of His
servants? Why are some called by the Lord to undertake the monastic way
or step out of the mainstream in other ways? Why are some called to
serve as clergy and yet restrained from marrying and having families?
Why may none who are called to the Episcopacy be married? God's basic
reason will be found in this passage. Essentially, the Lord calls some
to the celibate way so that they may focus their energies solely on
ministry, and, thus, serve as an icon to the rest of the People of God
that they may consider how they live and may best serve our only, good
Lord and Master.

Notice the wording of the text when God directed Jeremiah not to marry:
"And thou shalt not take a wife, saith the Lord God of Israel, and there
shall be no son born to thee, nor daughter in this place'" (vs. 1,2).
He was forbidden to marry. Celibacy became a Divine vocation. The word
came from the Lord. Of course, Jeremiah was free not to obey, but he
freely submitted himself to God. Hence, while marriage is man's natural
state (Gen. 1:28; Deut. 7:14) and a joy given by God for life and
celebration (Jn. 2:1-10), yet for Jeremiah, the Lord gave another path.
Monastics and the unmarried clergy are called of God not to marry, and
their way of life should be seen primarily as a Divine vocation. The
response seals the call.

Jeremiah's call to separation from typical social relationships went
beyond a vocation to celibacy. It further embraced the unusual
requirement to withdraw from weeping with mourners or celebrating the
joys of everyday life (Jer. 16:5-9). God had a special purpose for his
life. He wanted all of Jeremiah's energies dedicated to proclaiming His
word to His People. Jeremiah was to be "as My mouth" (Jer. 15:19)
everywhere and at all times, He was to turn from life's special
occasions and expectations so that all his energy could be devoted
solely to God's word. The message that the Lord was withdrawing His
"peace from this people" (Jer 16:5) was urgent: "they shall die of
grievous death; they shall not be lamented, nor buried" (vs. 4).

The disaster coming to God's ancient people was grave. Separating
Jeremiah from life's usual activities freed him to show God's People,
through the Lord's eyes, their delusions, their sins, and their need for
repentance (vss. 10-13). May our compassionate God grant each of us
such illumination and repentance while we still are in this brief life,
consigning to oblivion "all those things which have proceeded from the
weakness of our mortal nature."

Grant, O Lord, in Thy love and mercy, that we may complete the remaining
time of our life in peace and repentance, having a good defense before
Thy dread Judgment Seat.



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