Tuesday, October 02, 2007

02/10/07 Tues 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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 97, 99, [100]; PM Psalm 94, [95]
2 Chron. 29:1-3,30:1(2-9)10-27; 1 Cor. 7:32-40; Matt. 7:1-12

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 7:1-12. Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

An early stage of learning and maturity is the development of judgment, the process of making good decisions about people and about life. Consider the number of people whose lives are in a constant stagger because they exercise poor judgment. Their stories, along with examples from our own lives, make it clear that Jesus is not telling us to avoid that kind of judgment. We need to make decisions about other people. We must decide whether a person is good for us or not, safe or not, sound or not. There are people we need to avoid and people we need to seek out if we expect to remain healthy and whole.

Making decisions about people is not the same as judging them in the sense that Jesus holds before us. He is speaking of condemning others, presuming to be the agents of God's wrath, the border patrol protecting the edges of God's love. We all know people and institutions which have accepted these roles, and we have done so, too. It is not a role given to human beings. Judgment is God's business. Today Jesus is reminding us we are the agents of God's love and forgiveness, not God's anger.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of St. Helena (South Africa)

Speaking to the Soul:

No Dove, no church

Daily Reading for October 2

The Holy Ghost is a Dove, and he makes Christ’s Spouse, the church, a Dove, a term so oft iterate in the Canticles, and so much stood on by Saint Augustine and the Fathers, as they make no question. No Dove, no church.

And what shall we say then to them that will be Christians, and yet have nothing in them of the church, nothing in them of the dove; what shall we say? You may see what they are, they even seek and do all that in them lies to chase away this Dove, the Holy Ghost. The Dove, they tell us, that was for the baby-Church, for them to be humble and meek, suffer and mourn like a dove. Now, as if with Montanus they had yet “another Holy Ghost” to look for, in another shape, of another fashion quite, with other qualities, they hold these be no qualities for Christians now. Were indeed, they grant, for the baby-Christians, for the “three thousand” first Christians, this day; poor men, they did all in simplicitate cordis. And so too in Pliny’s time: harmless people they were; the Christians, as he writes, did nobody hurt. And so to Tertullian’s, who tells plainly what hurt they could have done, and yet would do none. And so all along the primitive churches, even down to Gregory, who in any wise would have no hand in any man’s blood. But the date of these meek and patient Christians is worn out, long since expired; and now we must have Christians of a new edition, of another, a new-fashioned Holy Ghost’s making.

For do they not begin to tell us in good earnest that they are simple men that think Christians were to continue so still; they were to be so but for a time, till their beaks and talons were grown, till their strength was come to them, and then this dove here might take her wings, fly whither she would; then a new Holy Ghost to come down upon them that would not take it as the other did, but take arms, depose, deprive, blow up; instead of an olive branch, have a match-light in her beak or a bloody knife.

Methinks, if this world go on, it will grow a question problematic, in what shape it was most convenient for the Holy Ghost to have come down? Whether as he did, in the meek shape of a dove? or whether, it had not been much better he had come in some other shape, in the shape of the Roman eagle, or of some other fierce fowl de vulturino genere?

But lying men may change—may, and do; but the Holy Ghost is unus idemque Spiritus, saith the Apostle, changes not, casts not his bill, moults not his feathers. His qualities at the first do last still, and still shall last to the end, and no other notes of a true Christian, but they.

From “Sermon VIII of the Sending of the Holy Ghost” by Lancelot Andrewes, quoted in Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness, compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson, and Rowan Williams (Oxford, 2001).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Only a renewed consciousness of the worth of each and every one of us can provide the beginning of a new politics and of community that could bring us together. To create such a new consciousness will be a formidable spiritual and political task.
— Jim Wallis in The Soul of Politics

To Practice This Thought: See the image of God in every person you encounter today.
++++++++++ Reflections

How can I fear a God who is nothing but mercy and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

St. Cuthbert: Celtic Hermit of Lindesfarne

The story of the Celtic monk-hermit Cuthbert (634-687) is told less than a century after his death by Bede in the Life of St. Cuthbert and in portions of his Ecclesiastical History. Most of the narrative is typical hagiography but facts show clearly.

Cuthbert entered monasticism and rose to prior of Lindesfarne in Northumbria. But, writes Bede,

When he had the opportunity, he also laid fast hold upon the way of life of a hermit, and delighted to stay in solitude for no short space of time and to be silent and apart from the conversation of mankind for the sake of the sweetness of meditating on God.

At the age of 42, Cuthbert left the monastery for a hermit's life on a deserted off-shore island called Farne. Here he built a dwelling, described in detail by Bede:

The building is almost of a round form, from wall to wall about four or five poles in extent. The wall on the outside is higher than a man, but within, by excavating the rock, he made it much deeperm to prevent the eyes and the thoughts from wandering. ... The wall was constructed not of hewn stones or of brick and mortar, but of rough stones and turf, which had been taken out from the ground within. ... He finished the walls by digging without, and formed the roof out of rough poles and straw.

Cuthbert made two rooms, one for prayer and the other for living. For his monkish visitors, he built a second more spacious house. Bede relates how Cuthbert tapped a spring for water and, requesting tools from the priory, sowed wheat. The wheat did not grow.

At the next visit of the monks, he said to them, "Perhaps the nature of the soil or the will of God does not allow wheat to grow in this place. Bring me, I beg of you, some barley. If, however, it does not [grow], I had better return to the monastery than be supported here by the labor of others."

The barley grew.

Cuthbert's days on the island were busy with visitors from near and far seeking his advice and consolation, a typical pattern for Christian hermits throughout the Middle Ages. As his reputation grew, a synod presided over by King Egfrid elected Cuthbert to the bishopric of Lindesfarne see.

But although they sent many messengers and letters to him, he could not by any means be drawn from his habitation, until the king himself ... sailed to the island [accompanied by a host of religious and other dignitaries.]

What a scene ensured as they fell to their knees before Cuthbert in entreaty, and he, in turn, resisting them until

They drew him away from his retirement with tears in his eyes and took him to the synod. When arrived there, although much resisting, he was overcome by the unanimous hush of all, and compelled to submit to undertake the duties of the bishopric.

This was eight years after first arriving on Farne Island. But Cuthbert did not serve as bishop long; retiring again he returned to his Farne hermitage two years later. But this time Cuthbert died only weeks later, in the spring of 687.

Though sparse in information, the tradition of Cuthbert as hermit reveals all the essential elements by which hermits were favorably viewed in the early and central Middle Ages, even to the detail of the tears drawn from his eyes when taken so reluctantly from his solitary happiness.

URL of this page:

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Most Human and Most Divine Gesture

The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognised him in the breaking of the bread. What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most extraordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture.

The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognise the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human.

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

Day Two - The Object, cont'd

In the example of his own sacrifice, Jesus reveals the secret of bearing fruit. In surrendering himself to death, he becomes the source of new life. Lifted from the earth on the cross, he draws all people to himself. Clinging to life causes life to decay; the life that is freely given is eternal.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Held Together
October 2nd, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

LOVE IS THE CAPACITY TO SEE both the good and evil in people but to love the good; to see both the excellent and mediocre but to encourage the excellent; to see the wellness and the sickness and to strengthen the wellness. Before all else, love is the capacity to see everyone and everything as interconnected, “held together” in one cosmic embrace.

- Robert Corin Morris
Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words

From page 31 of Provocative Grace: The Challenge in Jesus’ Words by Robert Corin Morris. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

New Eyes for Truth

"Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from you eye?’ You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5, NAB)

Carl Jung, after many years as a psychologist, said this is how he’d sum up everything he’d learned: “Humanity tends to project its inner world onto the outer world. If you’re always seeing people out there, let’s say as two-faced, then very likely you’re two-faced. If you’re always seeing people as hard and demanding, I bet you’re hard and demanding on yourself, and you believe God is hard and demanding on you.”

We see out there what’s already in our minds. Yet the healing ministry of Jesus was to give us new eyes so we could begin to live in the truth and see the real. With the eyes of Christ we accept and forgive our real self instead of hating it in others.

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.

The angels

The angels are friends of the bridegroom, so they listen to the soul's words, and make them known to the bridegroom. The soul's words are its desires, which the friends, that is the angels, listen to and delight in. They make them known, and they invite the soul to come; they console it, and advise it to seek and knock, because anyone who seeks finds, and to anyone who knocks the door is opened.

Meanwhile, until the bridegroom comes, they frequently visit such a fervent soul, and by an increase of grace prepare it more fully for his arrival. They draw its thoughts toward a perception of their presence, and an awareness of their friendship, so that through this knowledge it may advance to divine knowledge.

Thus the soul searching for God is found by the blessed angels, and after going round the city in its quest, deserves to be approached by them. It sees them coming to meet it and is taken in charge by them. In fact, they come before the bridegroom, manifesting their presence and revealing themselves, for being angels of light they accompany the Light, and the soul, flooded with light, is both illuminated and moved, so that it perceives their coming and is conscious of their presence.

Richard of Saint Victor

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


"If Thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us." Mark 9:22

After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are where it is neither beautiful nor poetic nor thrilling. The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mount, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him. Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the mount, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mount into the valley, the place where the meaning of the vision is explained.

"If Thou canst do any thing . . ." It takes the valley of humiliation to root the scepticism out of us. Look back at your own experience, and you will find that until you learned Who Jesus was, you were a cunning sceptic about His power. When you were on the mount, you could believe anything, but what about the time when you were up against facts in the valley? You may be able to give a testimony to sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you just now? The last time you were on the mount with God, you saw that all power in heaven and in earth belonged to Jesus - will you be sceptical now in the valley of humiliation?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility

The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and contradictions
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
"The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
and again
"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!

And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
"For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom. 8:36).
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
"But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
"You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
"You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).

Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).


One thing about Benedict of Nursia: he is not is a romantic. It is so easy to say, "Let God be the center of your life; do God's will; see God's will in the will of others for you." It is outrageous to say, even under the best of conditions, that it will be easy. We cling to our own ways like snails to sea walls, inching along through life, hiding within ourselves, unconscious even of the nourishing power of the sea that is seeking to sweep us into wider worlds.

And all of that when the words that control us are good for us. What about when they are not? Benedict admits the situation. There are times when the words of those over us will not be good for us.

The fourth step on the spiritual ladder, Benedict says, is the ability to persevere, even in the face of downright contradiction because it is more right to be open to the Word of God through others and have our enterprises fail sometimes than to be our own guide and have things turn out right.

It is more right to be able to deal with the difficult things of life and grow from them than it is to have things work out well all the time and learn nothing from them at all.

This is the degree of humility that calls for emotional stability, for holding on when things do not go our way, for withstanding the storms of life rather than having to flail and flail against the wind and, as a result, lose the opportunity to control ourselves when there is nothing else in life that we can control.

To bear bad things, evil things, well is for Benedict a mark of humility, a mark of Christian maturity. It is a dour and difficult notion for the modern Christian to accept. The goal of the twentieth century is to cure all diseases, order all inefficiency, topple all obstacles, end all stress, and prescribe immediate panaceas. We wait for nothing and put up with little and abide less and react with fury at irritations. We are a people without patience. We do not tolerate process. We cannot stomach delay. Persist. Persevere. Endure, Benedict says. It is good for the soul to temper it. God does not come on hoofbeats of mercury through streets of gold. God is in the dregs of our lives. That's why it takes humility to find God where God is not expected to be.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Hieromartyr Cyprian the Confessor
Kellia: Jeremiah 35:1-2, 10-17 LXX* Epistle: Philippians 1:8-14
Gospel: St. Luke 6:37-45

Truth and Falsehood: Jeremiah 35:1-2, 10-17 LXX, especially vss. 12, 13:
"And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah....Go and speak to Hananiah,
saying, thus saith the Lord; thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but I
will make instead of them yokes of iron." History records how much in
life is unexpected: unvanquishable Rome, the great center of The Empire,
fell in AD 410, and the Goths ravished the eternal city. How could
Constantinople fall to the forces of the Ottoman Turks under Mehmet II,
a mere youth of 21 years? Still, on Tuesday, May 29th, 1453, the last
heir of Constantine the Great lay dead and the city belonged to the
infidel. How could it be that Paris, safely behind the impregnable
Maginot Line could fall to the Nazis storming in from the Siegfried
Line? Yet, swiftly, in May of 1940, a German blitzkrieg swept around
the Maginot Line, through the Low Countries, and took Paris on June
14th. King Zedekiah of Judah puzzled over an unexpected turn of events
swirling around his land. How could Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon raise
another campaign against the Pharaoh in Egypt considering his recent
losses against the Egyptians? More important, how would this new
campaign effect Judah?

In the midst of Zedekiah's quandary, a word from the Lord came to
Jeremiah: "Make to thyself bonds and yokes, and put them about thy neck"
(Jer. 34:2 LXX). It was a solemn warning from God delivered by Jeremiah
to the King of Judah, his courtiers, and the envoys from the small
nations near Judah: "I gave the earth to Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon
to serve him" (Jer. 34:6 LXX). Judah and its allies should submit to
Babylon, and not rely on Egypt.

During "the fourth year of Zedekiah king of Judah" (Jer. 35:1 LXX),
Hananiah, another prophet, contradicted Jeremiah's prophecy to submit to
the Babylonians. Before the priests and the people, he declared, "Thus
saith the Lord; I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon" (Jer.
35:2). Did Jeremiah's dramatized message of submission come from the
Lord or his own imagination? Was Jeremiah wrong? Hananiah took the
yokes from the neck of Jeremiah and broke them, saying, "Thus said the
Lord; Thus will I break the yoke of the king of Babylon from the necks
of all the nations" (Jer. 35:10,11). Jeremiah, quietly, simply "went
his way" (vs. 11).

How does someone have the temerity to say, "Thus says the Lord" - either
Jeremiah or Hananiah? How audacious of man, the puny creature - mortal,
finite, and limited - to say, "Thus says the Lord," to claim what he
says is from the Maker of earth! It is bold in the extreme!

Jeremiah was quite aware of his limitations. He had questioned the
Lord's call to be a Prophet: "I know not how to speak" (Jer. 1:6).
Nevertheless, he reveals an extraordinary confidence that the words in
his mouth were from the Lord "over nations and over kingdoms" (Jer.
1:10). Was he wrong this time? Apparently not, for some time after
Hananiah broke the yokes from his neck, a "word of the Lord came to
Jeremiah" for Hananiah (Jer. 35:13-17).

How do you know with certainty when men "speak the word of the Lord"?
Listen to Holy Scripture. Do not say a word, but wait like Jeremiah
(vs. 11) to see if the word is a lie or an authentic revelation from God
(vs. 15). As Abbot Herman reveals, "The capability of man, through his
personal will, to pierce through the realm of our fallen nature and the
powers under heaven, and to have direct contact with God, is a mystery,
and yet it is the prerogative of us all." Yes, the road is difficult,
but Nikiphoros the Monk encourages us: "Most if not all who attain this
greatest of gifts do so chiefly by being taught....That is why we should
search for an unerring guide, so that under his instruction we may learn
how to deal with the...exaggerations suggested to us by the devil."

O Lord of mercies, enlighten the eyes of my understanding, open my mouth
to receive Thy words, teach me Thy commandments, help me to do Thy will,
confessing Thee from my heart.



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