Monday, October 01, 2007

01/10/07 Mon in the 18th 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, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, by the teaching of your faithful servant and bishop Remigius you turned the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of you, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith: Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; 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 89:1-18; PM Psalm 89:19-52
2 Kings 17:24-41; 1 Cor. 7:25-31; Matt. 6:25-34

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 6:25-34. Do not worry about your life.

Christian faith calls us to a lively concern for others and for the world in which we live. Yet this passage reminds us not to worry or be anxious. The distinction between concern and worry is a fine one that often proves difficult to maintain. How can we bear one another's burdens, how can we
love one another without worrying? Our instincts pull us toward full involvement with brow-wrinkling, lip-chewing, sleep-denying worry, or else away into callous disregard. To what middle ground is Jesus
directing us?

Worry is self-centered, even when we worry about someone else. We worry about things we cannot control and for which we have no access or responsibility. Or we worry about how we will be affected by outcomes out of our control. In either case we are overstepping our bounds. Concern, on the other hand, is other-centered with a healthy dose of reality. Concern is doing the best we can, the most we can, whenever we can, not any less. The defining mark of concern is laying our best and most into God's hands with the prayer that God use it and then trusting God to take it from there. It is not easy, but it is the gospel.

Today we remember:

Psalm 135:13-21 or 103:1-4,13-18
1 John 4:1-6; John 14:3-7

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Canterbury, England)

Speaking to the Soul:

A Prayer for Grace

Daily Reading for October 1 • Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530

Hedge up my way with thorns,
that I find not the path for following vanity.
Hold thou me in with bit and bridle,
lest I fall from thee.
O Lord, compel me to come in to thee.

Two things have I required of thee, O Lord,
deny thou me not before I die;
remove far from me vanity and lies;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
feed me with food convenient for me;
lest I be full and deny thee and say, who is the Lord?
Or lest I be poor and steal,
and take the name of my God in vain.
Let me learn to abound, let me learn to suffer need,
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
For nothing earthly, temporal, mortal, to long nor to wait.
Grant me a happy life, in piety, gravity, purity,
in all things good and fair,
in cheerfulness, in health, in credit,
in competency, in safety, in gentle estate, in quiet;
a happy death,
a deathless happiness.

May thy strong hand, O Lord, be ever my defense;
thy mercy in Christ, my salvation;
thy all-veritable word, my instructor;
the grace of thy life-bringing Spirit, my consolation
all along, and at last.

A Prayer for Grace by Lancelot Andrewes, quoted in Glorious Companions: Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality by Richard H. Schmidt (Eerdmans, 2002).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Individuality, not individualism, is the cornerstone of community. . . . (It) can flourish and survive only when each member flourishes, living in the full potential of her or his purpose. To honor and support its members is in the self-interest of any community.
— Malidoma Patrice Some in The Healing Wisdom of Africa

To Practice This Thought: Cherish individuality in your community.
++++++++++ Reflections

For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up ones' eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Moses, the Black Hermit

Black people in the United States do not use public wilderness areas for recreation, according to researchers1, because they are wary of remote and isolated locales. Residence or economic status is not a factor. Rather, hearsay or deduced conclusions about the potential danger and experienced hostility from the majority race in the United States, particularly in the South and West, was sufficient to discourage blacks from wilderness areas. In the historical South, younger blacks are familiar enough with accounts of lynching and violence; older blacks have direct experience of prejudice and segregationist violence. Remote and wilderness areas are seen as dangerous for blacks, who feel security in numbers. Recreational patterns reflect this preference.

The ill treatment of blacks by the majority race has been a perennial historical phenomenon that has shaped the psychology of blacks in the Western world towards the concept of solitude. Even in a religious setting where the values of Christianity should have overridden prejudices, the shameful treatment of black men who became religious is recorded in the biography of Saint Martin of Porres in sixteenth century Latin America, and as far back as the time of the Christian desert fathers in the biography of the monk and hermit Moses.

Abba Moses

Moses was described by Paschasius2 as "converted from among thieves," and by Sozomen3 as "Moses the Libyan." He was a black man and a monk at Scetis, the famous Egyptian monastery of the fourth century. Moses was trained by Isidore the Priest, a companion of the famous Macarius and a prominent head of one of the Scetis communities. Moses himself became a priest at an advanced age (he is called "old man") in all the narratives), eventually journeying to Petra late in life to become a hermit on the advice of Macarius.

A number of wise sayings are attributed to Moses in John Cassian's first and second Conferences, but these are generic sayings that do not bring out the personality of Moses or the context of his life and teaching. It is in the traditional Sayings collection that we can see the struggles of a black man whose character and vocation was not enough to convince his fellow monks of his dignity. Here are several examples:4

[One] day when a council was being held in Scetis, the Fathers treated Moses with contempt in order to test him, saying, "Why does this black man come among us?" When he [Moses] heard this he kept silence. When the council was dismissed, they said to him, "Abba, did that not grieve you at all?" He said to them, "I was grieved, but I kept my silence."

This is the infamous silence expected of black men over the centuries, a silence, however, that deafens the voices of prejudice and shames the hypocrisy of even the professed virtuous.

It was said of Abba Moses that he was ordained and the ephod [that is, sacerdotal vestment] was placed upon him. The archbishop said to him, "See, Abba Moses, now you are entirely white." The old man said to him, "It is true of the outside, lord and father, but what about Him who sees the inside?"

Moses' silence was not absolute. Here is the bold and necessary riposte to the archbishop's assumption that the color of Moses' skin was the object of an apt analogy. Moses turns it back against the archbishop by making the assumed virtue of color unavailable to the maker of the analogy. Using the archbishop's analogy, the archbishop himself may be black within, Moses implies. It is too much for the archbishop. The narrative continues:

Wishing to test him the archbishop said to the priests, "When Abba Moses comes into the sanctuary, drive him out, and go with him to hear what he says." So the old man came in and they covered him with abuse, and drove him out, saying, "Outside, black man!"

Is there any redeeming value to this group behavior sanctioned by an archbishop concerning a brother priest? What is Moses to think? The narrative concludes:

Going out, he [Moses] said to himself, "They have acted rightly concerning you, for your skin is as black as ashes. You are not a man, so why should you be allowed to meet men?"

In Zen monasteries, when abbots struck disciples for thoughtless replies to koans or for falling asleep during meditation, we see an overuse of authority targeted to a specific action or response but not to a person's character or physical feature. The Zen abbot's technique was that of an evolved religious authority, while the treatment of Moses pretends no didactic purpose, and was certainly not a humiliation that was deserved or was practiced universally with all monks and priests.

But Moses persevered, and his reputation for holiness and austerity grew, such that the priest and monks of Scetis ended up treating him fairly. On one occasion, Moses prepared food for guests during a fast ordered by the abbot. Some jealous monks pointed this out to the monastery council. However,

since they knew Abba Moses' remarkable way of life, the ministers said to him in front of everyone, "O Abba Moses, you did not keep the commandment of men, but it was so you might keep the commandment of God."

In another instance, when a brother had committed a fault, a council was summoned to deal with it. Abba Moses was invited to attend but refused until urged. He made his point of view about judging others perfectly clear.

He took a leaking jug, filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, "What is this, Father?" The old man said to them, "My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another." When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

These and other sayings about Moses suggest that humility was the chief fruit or virtue of his spiritual progress. But humility was no mere abstraction for him. What began in humiliation was transformed by Moses -- with what must have been a heroic effort -- into humility and that sense of what may be called "no-self," of the notion of dying to self and neighbor.

To die to one's neighbour is this: To bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else, wondering whether they are good or bad. Do no harm to anyone, do not think anything bad in your heart towards anyone, do not scorn the man who does evil, do not put confidence in him who does wrong to his neighbour, do not rejoice with him who injures his neighbour.

This is what dying to one's neighbour means: Do not rail against anyone, but rather say: "God knows each one." Do not agree with him who slanders his neighbour.

This is what it means not to judge: Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbour.

This is what peace is: Encourage yourself with this thought: "Affliction lasts but a short time, while peace, is for ever, by the grace of God with Word. Amen."


1. Floyd, Myron F., "Managing National Parks in a Multicultural Society: Searching for Common Ground." George Wright Forum, v. 18, no. 3, 2001, p. 41-51. ( Includes bibliographical references on this topic.
2. Palladius. Lausiac History 100, 22.
3. Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica 6, 29.
4. Quotations from Sayings of the Desert Fathers, edited and translated by Benedicta Ward. Rev. ed. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1987.

URL of this page:

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Gives Himself to Us

When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies. We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness. When we say: "Help yourself ... take some more ... don't be shy ... have another glass," we offer our guests not only our food and our drink but also ourselves. A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another other.

In the most complete and perfect way, this happens when Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as food and drink. By offering us his Body and Blood, Jesus offers us the most intimate communion possible. It is a divine communion.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of October 1, 2007

The doctrine of man finding his true reality in his remembrance of God in whose image he was created, is basically Biblical and was developed by the Church Fathers in connection with the theology of grace, the sacraments, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the surrender of our own will, the "death" of our selfish ego, in order to live in pure love and liberty of spirit, is effected not by our own will (this would be a contradiction in terms!) but by the Holy Spirit. To "recover the divine likeness," to "surrender to the will of God," to "live by pure love," and thus to find peace, is summed up as "union with God in the Spirit," or "receiving, possessing the Holy Spirit." This, as the 19th-century Russian hermit, St. Seraphim of Sarov declared, is the whole purpose of the Christian (therefore a fortiori [it follows logically] the monastic) life. St. John Chrysostom says: "As polished silver illumined by the rays of the sun radiates light not only from its own nature but also from the radiance of the sun, so a soul purified by the Divine Spirit becomes more brilliant than silver; it both receives the ray of Divine Glory and from itself reflects the ray of this same glory." Our true rest, love, purity, vision and quies is not something in ourselves, it is God the Divine Spirit. Thus we do not "possess" rest, but go out of ourselves into him who is our true rest.

Thomas Merton. "The Spiritual Father in the Desert Tradition" in Contemplation in A World Action. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1971: 287.

Thought to Remember:

In the surrender of himself and of his own will, his "death" to his worldly identity, the monk is renewed in the image and likeness of God, and become like a mirror filled with the divine light.

Contemplation in A World of Action: 287

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

Day One - The Object

Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." (John 12:24-26)

Upper Room Daily Reflection

October 1st, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

A BROTHER ASKED Abba Poemen what he should do about his sins. The old man said to him, “Those who wish to purify their faults purify them with tears, and those who wish to acquire virtues acquire them with tears. For weeping is the way the Scriptures and our fathers give us when they say ‘Weep!’ Truly, there is no other way than this.”

- Seeking a Purer Christian Life:
Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

From page 66 of Seeking a Purer Christian Life: Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 2000 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Positive Sexuality

If I can fault Catholic tradition in one area, it's that there's never been a single century in two thousand years when we have had positive teaching on our sexuality, or on our emotional and bodily selves. Despite the Song of Songs and a few enlightened saints, there's never been general positive teaching on how to integrate our bodies, minds and feelings. So a lot of us, even the clergy, are emotional babies. We're reacting and over-reacting, feeling, not knowing how to feel, repressing feelings, and therefore getting lots of ulcers, alcoholism and depression. We had Logic 101 in seminary; we had Metaphysics 101. Where was Emotions 101?

Affection, intellect and will: All three of these must be open to God. God can speak to us through our affections, through our emotions, through our experience of our bodilyness. We've continuously allowed ourselves to name our bodily functions, our passions, as humanity's "fallen" part. Yet our emotions are no more fallen than intellect or will! Maybe we good Christians don't sleep around, but a lot of us—priests and lay—go to bed with power, greed and superiority. That keeps us just as far from God as any sin of the flesh.

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.

Each little flower

Iunderstood too that the love of our Lord is revealed in the simplest soul who offers no resistance to his grace as well as in the most sublime soul. In fact, since the essence of love is humility, if all souls were like those of the learned saints who have illuminated the Church by the light of their teaching, it would seem as if God would not have very far to descend in coming to their hearts. But he has created the baby who knows nothing and whose only utterance is a feeble cry; he has created people who have only the law of nature to guide them; and it is their hearts that he deigns to come down to, those are his flowers of the field whose simplicity delights him. In coming down in that way the good God proves his infinite greatness. Just as the sun shines at the same time on cedar trees and on each little flower as if it was the only one on earth, so our Lord takes special care of each soul as if it was his only care.

Thérèse of Lisieux

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


"Jesus leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves." Mark 9:2

We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God's standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

We are apt to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching, it is to be turned into something better than teaching, viz., into character. The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a great snare in asking - What is the use of it? In spiritual matters we can never calculate on that line. The moments on the mountain tops are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God's purpose.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

OF all the tests by which the good citizen and strong reformer can be distinguished from the vague faddist or the inhuman sceptic, I know no better test than this -- that the unreal reformer sees in front of him one certain future, the future of his fad; while the real reformer sees before him ten or twenty futures among which his country must choose, and may in some dreadful hour choose the wrong one. The true patriot is always doubtful of victory; because he knows that he is dealing with a living thing; a thing with free will. To be certain of free will is to be uncertain of success.

Introduction to 'American Notes.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 31, June 1, October 1
Chapter 7: On Humility

The third degree of humility is that a person
for love of God
submit himself to his Superior in all obedience,
imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says,
"He became obedient even unto death."


It is so simple, so simplistic, to argue that we live for the God we do not see when we reject the obligations we do see. Benedictine spirituality does not allow for the fantasy. Benedict argues that the third rung on the ladder of humility is the ability to submit ourselves to the wisdom of another. We are not the last word, the final answer, the clearest insight into anything. We have one word among many to contribute to the mosaic of life, one answer of many answers, one insight out of multiple perspectives. Humility lies in learning to listen to the words, directions and insights of the one who is a voice of Christ for me now. To stubbornly resist the challenges of people who have a right to lay claim to us and an obligation to do good by us--parents, spouses, teachers, supervisors--is a dangerous excursion into arrogance and a denial of the very relationships that are the stuff of which our sanctity is made.

Rungs one and two call for contemplative consciousness. Rung three brings us face to face with our struggle for power. It makes us face an authority outside of ourselves. But once I am able to do that, then there is no end to how high I might rise, how deep I might grow.

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

Monday, October 1,
Romanos the Melodist
Kellia: Jeremiah 34:2-22 LXX* Epistle: Philippians
1:1-7 Gospel: St. Luke 6:24-30

Prophecy and Prediction: Jeremiah 34: 2-22 LXX, especially vs. 6: "I
gave the earth to Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon to serve him, and the
wild beasts of the field to labour for him. And the nation and kingdom,
all that shall not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon,
with sword and famine will I visit them, saith the Lord, until they are
consumed by his hand." By reading current events carefully, men may
often predict the outcome of present conditions with accuracy. Winston
Churchill predicted that England's policy of appeasing growing Nazi
power would only strengthen Hitler's resolve and capability to continue
territorial advances in Europe and ultimately would lead to war.
History proved him right. A Priest preparing two people for marriage
may detect serious flaws in the couple's relationship and encourage them
not to marry, and he may refuse to bless their wedding. In both
circumstances, the international and the pastoral, prediction is a gift
of loving honesty.

In the present passage, Jeremiah predicts how events will unfold if the
coalition of little nations neighboring the kingdom of Judah stand
together against the empire of Babylon. To drive home the point,
Jeremiah places symbolic warnings in the hands of the ambassadors who
have come to Jerusalem to plan a common resistance. The Prophet also
accompanies the symbols with a spoken warning describing what will
happen if they believe their false prophets who "foretell events by
dreams...auguries...[and] sorcerers" (vs. 9) and continue on their
present course of opposition. What do you think: is he doing more than
making an astute prediction, or can we distinguish what Jeremiah does as
another type of action altogether, as prophesying? This passage
reveals a real difference between astute prediction and prophecy. To
discern the difference can help you meet the future from a better

Prophecy, unlike the best prediction, declares the future in response to
the command of God. Note, in vss. 2-4, the imperative forms:
"make...put...send...thou shalt commission." Jeremiah is under
obligation, as when earlier he had considered prophesying no longer: "I
will no more speak in His name, but it was a burning fire flaming in my
bones" (Jer. 20:9). The Prophet, unlike the astute analyst, is
obedient. At the end of the passage, note God's sarcasm directed toward
the false prophets: "if the word of the Lord is in them" (Jer. 34:19).
Thus, a true Prophet like Jeremiah has the word of God in him and cannot
but obey.

To know the authentic word of God not only places a Prophet under
obligation but also endows him with Divine authority. Jeremiah received
the right to "commission [the messengers] to say to their lords" the
words of the Lord God of Israel Himself (vs. 4). With authority
Jeremiah gave the messengers the words to be spoken: the God of Israel,
as Creator of the earth gives "it to whomsoever it shall seem good in
[His] eyes" (vs. 5). He had chosen to give the earth to Nebuchadrezzar
(vs. 6). To resist submission to Babylon would be met "with sword and
famine" (vs. 7). God promised that if the kingdoms would accept the
reign of Nebuchadrezzar, they would dwell in their own land (vs.11). As
always, God warned against human or demonic predictions, which are lies
(vss. 9,10). So, ask yourself, who is the source of your predictions?

The content of prophesy as opposed to astute prediction carries
certainty. What the true Prophet speaks will happen. Those who make
predictions risk being wrong. The Prophet does not have that risk. A
false prophet who "plays the prophetic role," risks meeting God (vs.
18). Hence, the Apostle warns, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).

O Lord, help me in all things to rely upon Thy holy Will. In every hour
of the day, reveal Thy Will to me. In all my deeds and words, guide my
thoughts and feelings.



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