Thursday, October 04, 2007

04/10/07 Feast of St Francis of Assisi


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.

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; 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 105:1-22; PM Psalm 105:23-45
2 Kings 18:28-37; 1 Cor. 9:1-15; Matt. 7:22-29

Francis of Assisi:
Psalm 148:7-14 or 121
Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 11:25-30


From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 7:22-29. A wise man...built his house on a rock.

At church camp we used to sing a song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock and the foolish man who built on sand. We loved it because it involved arm-waving storms and loud reenactments of falling houses. As adults we know the storms of life are not fun, nor are their consequences funny. As the sergeant on TV's Hill Street Blues used to say at the beginning of each shift, "Let's be careful out there." Life is dangerous because its storms are real.

What does faith offer us in a stormy world? Most of us want it to protect us. We have the idea that if we are good or faithful or pious, or at least intend to be these things, God will see that we escape the storms. But if we read carefully we can see that such is not the case. What God offers us is strength, not escape. Faith offers us a foundation for withstanding life's storms, not a haven where storms do not happen. The house on rock experiences the same weather as the house on sand. Faithful people are as subject to life's storms as anyone else. If Christianity were a protection plan I doubt that the cross would be our logo.

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

Speaking to the Soul:

St. Francis of Assisi

Daily Reading for October 4 • Francis of Assisi, 1226

Francis broke radically with his wealthy class and its lifestyle in 1206, when, standing publicly before his own bishop, with his father looking on unhappily, he threw off his garments, the signs of his wealth and social standing, and revealed himself to be wearing a hair shirt, the sign of a new commitment to poverty on his part. He then threw off that shirt, too. Thus he began his new spiritual vocation—naked, with no possessions whatsoever. For some time he lived as a hermit, supporting himself by begging and reaching out, on occasion, to the poorest of the poor, even to lepers. In 1208 Francis heard Jesus calling him, as the Savior had called the first apostles, to take to the highways and byways to witness to the kingdom of God, all without any possessions of his own.

In his new apostolic ministry, Francis immersed himself in the emergent urban culture of his time, a setting that the spirituality of the then-declining feudal monasteries was generally ill equipped to influence. In this sense, Francis was an urban minister, first and foremost, not a spiritual recluse or a nature mystic. His mission was not to retreat to a solitary life in the wilderness, a still viable spiritual option in his time. Nor was it to retreat to a protected monastery, where he might have imagined himself to be living anew in Paradise, surrounded by a hostile world, awaiting the coming kingdom of God, also a spiritual option that many in the Christian West had been choosing for centuries. No, Francis’s spiritual retreat was in fact an advance into the rising urban culture of his time. His solitary life was in fact a commitment to seek out the lonely and the godforsaken, who were flocking to the cities. Even more comprehensively, the monastery where he awaited the coming of God’s kingdom was in fact the whole world, not just its cities. Francis had become a latter-day apostle who believed that he had been sent by Jesus to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

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

Reconnecting politics to our best values is now the most important task of political life.
— Jim Wallis in The Soul of Politics

To Practice This Thought: Vote your best values on Election Day.
++++++++++ Reflections

I open the Scriptures... then all appears clear, full of light... holiness appears easy.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

When a man walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he
were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within
him and wears the invincible armor of faith. This makes him strong
and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or
impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded
by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes. He goes
forward trusting in the Lord and the constancy of his will to
strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the
Word in wisdom.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus, Our Food and Drink

Jesus is the Word of God, who came down from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, and became a human person. This happened in a specific place at a specific time. But each day when we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus comes down from heaven, takes bread and wine, and by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes our food and drink. Indeed, through the Eucharist, God's incarnation continues to happen at any time and at any place.

Sometimes we might think: "I wish I had been there with Jesus and his apostles long ago!" But Jesus is closer to us now than he was to his own friends. Today he is our daily bread!

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

Day Four - The Object, cont'd

When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of the Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Song of Grace
October 4th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

in the fullness of my life,
empty me of distractions.
Still my busyness.
Quiet my chatter.
Sing your song of grace to me
until the tune rings
in the core of my being
and my life resonates
with your good news.

- Alive Now

From page 36 of Alive Now, November/December 2000. Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

We Need to Waste Time

I want to look at the experiences in your lives of people who’ve deeply touched you, who’ve deeply changed you. They’re always people who are not afraid to be personal. Ideas really don’t change people. People change people. Those who are truly bringing good news are people who know how to be in relationship, who know how to waste time with you.

We need to waste time with the Lord, too. This is the foundation of our prayer lives. You’re not being unproductive when you wait for God, when you listen for and seek the Holy One. The Judeo-Christian tradition gives us the Sabbath, a sense of sacred time in which to be, to listen, to be personal and not to "work at it." The Sabbath idea is that at least one-seventh of your life needs to be fallow, useless, empty and expectant—person to person.

Cardinal Newman wrote, "So much sanctity is lost to the Church because brothers [sic] refuse to share the secrets of their hearts one with another." He put that in his coat of arms ("cor ad cor loquitur"), which doesn’t sound like what a cardinal should put on his coat of arms. He’s no sloppy sentimentalist, but a great intellectual. But it’s obvious that Newman was a man who put it together. He was speaking from an educated heart. He knew the power of sharing the personal. The truly personal is usually the most universal.

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.

We should be simple, humble, and pure

Jesus placed his own will at the disposal of his Father's will. And the Father's will was that his blessed and glorious son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should offer himself through his own blood as a sacrifice and victim on the altar of the cross, not for himself, through whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps. And he desires that we should all be saved through him and receive him with a pure heart and a chaste body. How happy and blessed are they who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself commands in the gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and your neighbor as yourself. So let us love God and adore him with a pure heart and a pure mind, for he himself seeks this above all things, as he says: The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. All who adore him should adore him in the spirit of truth. And let us pour forth our praise and prayer to him day and night, saying Our Father, who art in heaven; for we ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Francis of Assisi

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


"Called to be saints." 1 Corinthians 1:2

Thank God for the sight of all you have never yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not there yet by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision "batter'd to shape and use" by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.

There are times when we do know what God's purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not upon God. If we prefer to loll on the mount and live in the memory of the vision, we will be of no use actually in the ordinary stuff of which human life is made up. We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of God, but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank God for making known His demands.

The little "I am" always sulks when God says do. Let the little "I am" be shrivelled up in God's indignation - "I AM THAT I AM hath sent thee." He must dominate. Is it not penetrating to realize that God knows where we live, and the kennels we crawl into! He will hunt us up like a lightning flash. No human being knows human beings as God does.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 3, June 4, October 4
Chapter 7: On Humility

The sixth degree of humility
is that a monk be content
with the poorest and worst of everything,
and that in every occupation assigned him
he consider himself a bad and worthless workman,
saying with the Prophet,
"I am brought to nothing and I am without understanding;
I have become as a beast of burden before You,
and I am always with You" (Ps:22-23).

Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

In a classless society status is snatched in normally harmless but corrosive little ways. We are a people who like embossed business cards, and monogrammed leather briefcases, and invitations to public events. We spend money we don't have to buy cars with sliding glass windows in the ceiling. We go into debt to buy at the right stores and live on the right street and go to the right schools. We call ourselves failures if we can't turn last year's models in on this year's styles. We measure our successes by the degree to which they outspan the successes of the neighbors. We have lost a sense of "enoughness."

Benedict tells us that it is bad for the soul to have to have more than the necessary, that it gluts us, that it protects us in plexiglass from the normal, the natural. Benedict says that the goal of life is not to amass things but to get the most out of whatever little we have. Benedict tells us to quit climbing. If we can learn to love life where we are, in what we have, then we will have room in our souls for what life alone does not have to offer.

The Tao Te Ching teaches, "Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations."

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

Thursday, October 4, 2007
Hieromartyr Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens
Kellia: Jeremiah 38:1-10 Epistle: Philippians
1:20-27 Gospel: St. Luke 7:17-30

The Book of Consolation II ~ Gladness for Sorrow: Jeremiah 38:10-22 LXX,
especially vs. 13: "I will turn their mourning into joy, and will make
them merry." There are a myriad of deaths in this life's journey - the
shattering of a friendship, our repudiation by a beloved child, the
diagnosis of a rapid-growing, fatal cancer, the death of a loved one -
exiles from the joys of life. In these deaths, it is right to mourn,
for they are woven into our "wages of sin" (Rom. 6:23).

Consider the Prophet Jeremiah sitting in the king's guard house,
arrested because he had persisted in declaring, in the royal court, a
word of disaster from God. Still, as the weeks and months went by, he
observed the truth of God's word being fulfilled, and he saw the
inexorable end approaching - bitter defeat, loss of national identity,
exile, death for the king, and destruction on every side. Then there
came from God a strange new word addressed to the inevitable sorrow:
"The Lord has ransomed Jacob, he has rescued him out of the hand of them
that were stronger than he. And they shall come, and shall rejoice in
the mount of Zion, and shall come to the good things of the Lord" (vss.
11,12). How incongruous, how out of time! In real, bitter, defeat, a
Divine word of hope and restoration from this Prophet known for "doom
and gloom."
At this juncture God promised to reverse the pain and affliction that
were being endured under the dark cloud of defeat. It was not that the
famine eating away the strength and life of the people of Jerusalem
would come to a joyous end. God now proclaimed a future time to come in
"a land of corn, and wine, and fruits, and cattle, and sheep" in which
"their soul shall be as a fruitful tree; and they shall hunger no more"
(vs. 12). The bright portrait is vivid. Jeremiah declares that God's
People shall enjoy restoration: "the virgins rejoice in the assembly of
youth, and the old men shall rejoice; and I will turn their mourning
into joy" (vs. 13). Joy for mourning!

Exile to Babylon and enslavement were certain to follow the breaching of
the Jerusalem's walls. Nebuchadnezzar would requite his tiny vassal
kingdom for standing against his great might and dignity. However, in
this tragic moment, God promised to reverse this most grim event that
surely was coming: "they shall return from the land of thine enemies.
There shall be an abiding home for thy children." (vss. 16,17). To make
His promise clear, the Lord tells His People to prepare for the sad
march into exile: "Prepare thyself, O Zion; execute vengeance; look to
thy ways: return, O virgin of Israel, by the way by which thou wentest,
return mourning to thy cities" (vs. 21). Vengeance will come on the
enemy, but they are to "return mourning" to repent.

The very worst element that you endure in the defeats of this life is
the crushing of your heart and soul, the deep place where you can know
and worship the Lord; yet God vows: "My people shall be satisfied with
My good things" (vs. 14). How strange are such prophecies from God and
His Prophet to His People's pain. They are hard to believe, being so
wondrous, but these are the very prophecies that establish Jeremiah as a
true Prophet of God. These are God's words for you - heart and soul -
in the worst disasters of your life. You ask, How can this be?

Fair enough! Look again at this mystical prophecy, and look carefully.
The Lord declares that He "has created safety for a new plantation: men
shall go about in safety" (vs. 22). You ask, what safety can there be
in a deep disaster of life that crushes the heart? Our God is a God of
life, not of death. "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus
our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). If you are in Christ, not deserting Him in the
hour of defeat, there is Life that no death can crush. He is the
renewing place where you may "go about in safety" (vs. 22). He is the

When Thou didst submit Thyself unto death, O Thou deathless and immortal
One, Thou didst raise the dead from beneath the earth: O Christ Thou
Giver of Life, glory to Thee!

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