Wednesday, October 03, 2007

03/10/07 Wed 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 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30; PM Psalm 119:121-144
2 Kings 18:9-25; 1 Cor. 8:1-13; Matt. 7:13-21

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 7:13-21. The gate is narrow...and there are few who find it.

The image of a small, perhaps even hidden, door that leads to fullness and wholeness can make the business of life seem like a guessing game. And the
idea that those who fail to find the opening are doomed to destruction paints a cruel picture of God. Nonetheless, some people think this is the way life works. In ancient times they were called Gnostics (a Greek word for "knowing"), and the Christian community long ago agreed that they had it wrong.

It is true that many people never seem to get a handle on life. They (we?) reach for doors and run into walls, look for fruit and find thorns. The evidence of this is too overwhelming to deny. But these are the very ones who are the special focus of God's love and concern, as Jesus continually affirmed by word and deed. And the path to life is not hidden at all. It begins with the simple truth that life is meant to be lived outwardly and generously in service to God. It is about what we offer, share, and give, not what we
find, receive, and keep. The gate is open before us. The trick is not so much getting ourselves through it as it is offering ourselves to the life it represents.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Mthatha (South Africa)

Speaking to the Soul:

Captive of a thousand causes

Daily Reading for October 3

St. Francis, regrettably, has become the captive of a thousand causes, among them the spirituality of escape. The popular domesticated reading of St. Francis, enshrined in backyard statuary and best-selling guides to the spiritual life, reflects the very schizoid spirituality that many North Americans take for granted. Francis is read by Christians and other seekers as the champion of an escapist nature mysticism: someone who can teach us by example how to move beyond the crowded ways of postmodern, computerized existence in order to experience transforming encounters with the beauties and the wonders of the natural world, encounters akin to those that seem to be articulated by Francis’s enormously popular “The Canticle of the Creatures.” Conversely, among devout Christians, Francis is sometimes read as the champion of spiritual interiority: as one who turns away from this world to seek solace within, exemplified, above all, by the mountaintop story of his spiritual and physical experience of being touched by the cross of Jesus, the stigmata.

These popular readings of Francis have had, as a matter of course, the effect of reinforcing today’s schizoid spirituality of escape and consumerism and have, in turn, provided spiritual support to those very forces that are working to destroy the earth and to abandon the poor, both loved so profoundly by Francis himself. To learn from Francis, therefore, we must divest ourselves of our own assumptions about him, such as they may be, and encounter him in his historical otherness.

From “The Spirituality of Nature and the Poor: Revisiting the Historic Vision of St. Francis” by H. Paul Santmire, Ph.D., in Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions, edited by Norvene Vest. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Not only does He concern Himself with great and noble things, but equally with small and simple things.
— Julian of Norwich quoted in Silent Hope by John Kirvan

To Practice This Thought: Be like God and don't distinguish between great and small things; accept them all as vehicles for growth and service.
++++++++++ Reflections

How many remain at the foot of the mountain … who might climb to its summit!
St Teresa of Jesus
Conceptions, 2

Reading from the Desert Christians

The Desert Mothers: A Survey of the Feminine Anchoretic Tradition in Western Europe by Margot H. King

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

A Place of Vulnerability and Trust

When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another. We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts. When we break bread together we leave our arms - whether they are physical or mental - at the door and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.

The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.

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

Day Three - The Object, cont'd

Jesus calls those who would serve him to follow his example and choose for themselves the same path of renunciation and sacrifice. To those who hear and obey he promises union with God. The object of the Society of Saint Francis is to build a community of those who accept Christ as their Lord and Master and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. They surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people. The Third Order of the Society consists of those who, while following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to dedicate their lives under a definite discipline and vows. They may be female or male, married or single, ordained or lay.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

No Greater Act
October 3rd, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

greater act of faith
than to pray a prayer
of intercession
for someone.

- E. Glenn Hinson
“Not Giving Up”

From page 6 of Weavings, July/August 2007. Copyright © 2007 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

A Way to Happiness

(Recorded at the Mount of the Beatitudes) Beatitude means happiness. The Beatitudes could also be called the ways to happiness. But they are not prescriptions for happiness in the next world, as much as a daring description of happiness in this world. So notice that the first and last Beatitudes are in the present tense. He says for those who are poor in spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven is now (Matthew 5:3). For those of you who are persecuted in the cause of justice, the Kingdom of Heaven is now (5:10).

The people must have been sitting here on this very hillside with their mouths open. They say, Well, that’s not what they teach us. They teach us to be cunning and to be strong and to be self-assured. He says, Oh yes, I’m telling you to be self-assured, but self-assured from within because of your awareness of who-you-are-in-God. Jesus knew that happiness is an inside job, to borrow a phrase. And then he points up to these trees and these birds that you hear chirping above you and he says, Be like them. They’re not worried, so “Stop all your worrying. Tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). It sounds a lot like the advice for happiness from the recovery movement: “One day at a time.”

from On Pilgrimage with Father Richard Rohr


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

We receive faith as a gift from God

The relationship between our soul and body affords a good comparison with the working of God's grace. Just as by itself the body has no life, but receives life from the soul, so we cannot have faith unless we receive it as a gift from God. And just as the soul is the one thing the body needs to live, so also grace is the one thing we must have in order to believe. As the body can do nothing if the soul ceases to give it life, so our wills are incapable of choosing what is right if the help of grace is withdrawn from us. Thus the body relies upon the life-giving presence of the soul, enabling it to live and work, and we are continually assisted by life-giving grace, enabling us to want and do what is right. There is, however, a difference, for when our body is given life by the soul, it receives the power to do evil as well as good, but when grace gives us life, it enables us only to will and do what is right.

Fulgentius of Ruspe

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


"This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mark 9:29

"Why could not we cast him out?" The answer lies in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. This kind can come forth by nothing but by concentration and redoubled concentration on Him. We can ever remain powerless, as were the disciples, by trying to do God's work not in concentration on His power, but by ideas drawn from our own temperament. We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him.

You are brought face to face with a difficult case and nothing happens externally, and yet you know that emancipation will be given because you are concentrated on Jesus Christ. This is your line of service - to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it in irritation, or by mounting up, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ, then that very thing, and all you have been through in connection with it, will glorify Jesus Christ in a way you will never know till you see Him face to face.

We must be able to mount up with wings as eagles; but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and the living down. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," said Paul, and the things he referred to were mostly humiliating things. It is in our power to refuse to be humiliated and to say - "No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountain top with God." Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they are efface altogether my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility

The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
and again,
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).

Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The fifth rung of the ladder of humility is an unadorned and disarming one: Self-revelation, Benedict says, is necessary to growth. Going through the motions of religion is simply not sufficient. No, the Benedictine heart, the spiritual heart, is a heart that has exposed itself and all its weaknesses and all of its pain and all of its struggles to the one who has the insight, the discernment, the care to call us out of our worst selves to the heights to which we aspire.

The struggles we hide, psychologists tell us, are the struggles that consume us. Benedict's instruction, centuries before an entire body of research arose to confirm it, is that we must cease to wear our masks, stop pretending to be perfect and accept the graces of growth that can come to us from the wise and gentle hearts of people of quality around us.

Humility such as this gives us energy to face the world. Once we ourselves admit what we are, what other criticism can possibly demean us or undo us or diminish us? Once we know who we are, all the delusions of grandeur, all the righteousness that's in us dies and we come to peace with the world

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 Hieromartyr Dionysios the
Areopagite, Bishop of Athens
Kellia: Jeremiah 37:12-17, 23-24 Epistle: Philippians 1:12-20
Gospel: St. Luke 6:46-7:1

The Book of Consolation I ~ Judgment and Healing: Jeremiah 37:12-17,
23-24 LXX, especially vs. 17: "I will heal thee of thy grievous wound,
saith the Lord; for thou art called Dispersed: she is your prey, for no
one seeks after her." These verses are first in a series of four
passages from Jeremiah's "Book of Consolation" (Jer. 30-33). The moment
when the Lord gave Jeremiah words of consolation was "in the tenth year
of Zedekiah king of Judah and the eighteenth year of the reign of
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon" - 587 BC. The Babylonian army was
besieging Jerusalem. Jeremiah was imprisoned in the court of King
Zedekiah's guard because he would not stop insisting that the Lord was
going to give victory to the Babylonians: "Behold, I will give this city
into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and
Zedekiah shall by no means be delivered out of the hand of the
Chaldeans" (Jer. 39:3,4).

These were the final days for Jerusalem after an eighteen-month siege.
Other Judean cities already had fallen. Unexpectedly, "the host of
Pharaoh was come forth out of Egypt; and the Chaldeans heard the report
of them, and they went up from Jerusalem" (Jer. 44:5) to drive the
Egyptians back to their land, after which the siege was resumed until
"in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month on the ninth day
of the month." Then a breach was made in the city's walls (Jer. 46:2).
King Zedekiah fled at that point, but he was soon overtaken and captured
in the plains of Jericho. All the dire prophecies of Jeremiah that
comprise the early chapters of the Prophet were being fulfilled.
Consternation prevailed for all of Judah.

Jeremiah received the Book of Consolation in the last days before the
breach and capture of the city. It reveals that God may speak both
disaster and assurance to His People. Disaster was at hand, but they
would not perish utterly (Jer. 37:17 as quoted above). After months of
siege, the populace of the city was stricken by intense famine and
disease. The grim realization was on them: very soon Jerusalem would be
taken. Learn that the Prophet Jeremiah - nay, God Himself - is not a
mere purveyor of doom and disaster. These chapters reveal that God
expresses His love and faithfulness to His People under the worst of

At this point, God did not mince words. His warnings through Jeremiah
were coming to pass: "there is none to judge thy cause: thou hast been
painfully treated for healing, there is no help for thee" (vs. 13). The
Egyptian army fled for their lives; and now the people were totally
deserted by their friends who "have forgotten thee; they shall not ask
about thee at all" (vs. 14).

Do you see? God is a God of consequences. Disobedience, apostasy, and
immorality bring judgment when "sins have abounded beyond the multitude
of thine iniquities" (vs. 15). Are you free of sin? As St. Tikhon of
Zadonsk reminds us: "our compassionate God promised to show us His grace
and mercy, but He did not promise us relief on the morrow." Pay
attention to this; wake up from complacency. Disaster comes in life;
but the Lord never deserts completely.

In times of defeat, you can experience wrath in your soul - even in your
body. Life's hammer blows are also God's judgment. However, "They that
spoil thee shall become a spoil" (vs. 16). It is God's judgment for you
and me, our nation, and all our activities when events crush us. His
anger goes forth to a fallen world: "it shall come upon the ungodly"
(vs. 23), for every man pursues wickedness, yet God remains faithful to
His People forever! He promises: "I will heal thee of thy grievous
wound" (vs. 17). Your sin can be removed even in moments of judgment.
"In the latter days ye shall know these things" (vs. 24). Seek God now,

Teach us, O Lord, to treat all that comes to us with peace of soul and
the firm conviction that Thy will governs all. In unforeseen events,
let us not forget that all are sent by Thee.



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