Wednesday, October 17, 2007

17/10/07 Wed after 20ith Sunday after Pentecost, Ignatius of Antioch


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.


Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, we praise your Name for your Bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present to you the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray, the willing tribute of our lives and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:1-24; PM Psalm 12, 13, 14
Jer. 37:3-21; 1 Cor. 14:13-25; Matt. 10:24-33

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 10:24-33. Even the hairs of your head are all counted.

This passage requires people like me to reach for the deeper meaning behind it since I am as bald as Charlie Brown. Numbering the hairs on my head would not be much of a challenge for you, much less God. But this passage is not really about hair, but the intimacy of our relationship with God. God knows us, really knows us! Intimately, microscopically, personally. And, even with that sort of knowledge, God loves us extravagantly, deeply, and powerfully.

Consider this as you reflect on this kind of love: We know that God loves and we know that love needs an object. We do not simply love, we love something--chocolate, ballet, potato chips. Creation was brought into being to be the object of God's love. Creation is what God loves. And creation is both vast and minute because God's love is both vast and minute. Creation extends from galaxies to spider webs, from oceans to the veins on leaves, from suns to subatomic particles, because God's love is that big and that fine at the same time. Both the enormity and the intimacy of God's love are real, and in that reality there is room for you and me and the hairs on our heads.

Today we remember:

Ignatius of Antioch
Psalm 116:1-8 or 31:1-5
Romans 8:35-39; John 12:23-26

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Tennessee (United States)

Speaking to the Soul:

Ignatius of Antioch

Daily Reading for October 17 • Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch and Martyr, c. 115

I am writing letters to all the churches, to assure them that I am dying for God of my own free will--that is, if you don’t interfere. Please, please don’t make a misguided attempt to do me a kindness. Let me be fodder for the wild beasts--that’s how I can come to God. I am God’s wheat, and the teeth of the beasts are grinding me to flour, to be made into a pure loaf for Christ. Please encourage the animals to become my tomb; don’t let them leave any scraps of my body behind. That way, when I have fallen asleep I shall be a nuisance to nobody. Then I shall be a real disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world can no longer see my body. Pray to Christ for me, that in this way I may become a sacrifice to God.

From the Letter to the Romans of Ignatius of Antioch, quoted in 2000 Years of Prayer, compiled by Michael Counsell. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

We need to approach our state of mind with curiosity and open wonder. That curious listening to life is a joy — no matter what the mood of our life is.
— Charlotte Joko Beck in Finding What You Didn't Lose by John Fox

To Practice This Thought: Transform the act of listening into childlike play.
++++++++++ Reflections

Look Jesus in the Face ... there you will see how He loves us.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being
afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at
the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they
take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning
creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms
against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute

St. John Climacus

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Church, Spotless and Tainted

The Church is holy and sinful, spotless and tainted. The Church is the bride of Christ, who washed her in cleansing water and took her to himself "with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless" (Ephesians 5:26-27). The Church too is a group of sinful, confused, anguished people constantly tempted by the powers of lust and greed and always entangled in rivalry and competition.

When we say that the Church is a body, we refer not only to the holy and faultless body made Christ-like through baptism and Eucharist but also to the broken bodies of all the people who are its members. Only when we keep both these ways of thinking and speaking together can we live in the Church as true followers of Jesus.

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

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Seeking God
October 17th, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

SAINT IGNATIUS’S PRAYER of examination (or the examen, as it has come to be called) is a prayer practice that seeks the immanent — meaning close-by, near, or indwelling — aspect of God. This is the God who is with us always. This is the God who knows our thoughts before we think them. It is the God who is in everything and is at the heart of all. Yet even in this nearness God remains hidden, and so we need a method of prayer that brings the light of God clearly into focus; this is the point of the examen.

- Daniel Wolpert
Creating a Life with God

From page 77 of Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

We Will Never Be Poor

Middle-class Americans are, by the standards of the whole world, very rich people. That includes most Franciscans. We are trying as best we can, from our establishment position, but we know we can’t be the Church of the poor. Because if we have even a high-school education, we’re rich people by reason of that. We can’t be poor again.

Wherever we go, we’re articulate. We know how to make connections, how to move in and out of systems, how to write forms, résumés and applications, or whatever else it might be. We will never be outside for long. We have some degree of self-confidence and know how to present ourselves to other people.

We can no longer be satisfied by simply being the Church for the poor from our position of establishment. Because we realize that sometimes that very generosity, that very attempt to be good to other people, has kept us in a position of paternalism or “maternalism.” We go home to our houses feeling good because we gave a thousand dollars to Bread for the World or helped a failing program from our largess. That’s OK, and maybe even good, but we must never forget that we are still looking at the world and all issues from the side of power. I don’t think that is the privileged vantage point of the Gospels. Somehow we must be of and with the poor.

from Embracing Christ As Francis Did: In the Church of the Poor

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

The joys of friendship

What can be more pleasant than to be spiritually so closely united to another, so completely one, that no arrogance is to be feared, no suspicion dreaded! Correction of one another causes no pain, nor does praise bring a charge of flattery. A friend, says the Wise Man, is the medicine of life. That is well said, for no other medicine is as powerful and efficacious where temporal ills are concerned as to have someone hastening to us with sympathy when anything goes wrong and congratulating us when things go well. So, shoulder to shoulder, the two bear each other's burdens, each one thinking that his own is lighter than that of his friend. In this way friendship heightens the joys of prosperity and mitigates the sorrows of adversity by dividing and sharing them.

In friendship are joined virtue and pleasure, truth and enjoyment, sweetness and goodwill, feeling and doing, all of which take their beginning from Christ, grow through Christ, and are perfected in Christ. It should not therefore seem too hard or unnatural to ascend from Christ who fills us with the love we have for our friend to Christ who gives himself to us as a friend to be loved, so that pleasure follows upon pleasure, sweetness upon sweetness, affection upon affection. And thus, friend cleaving to friend in a Christian spirit becomes one with him in heart and soul, and by the steps of love rises to friendship with Christ and becomes one spirit with him.

Aelred of Rievaulx

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


"And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." John 14:12

Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God's work. In the teaching of Jesus Christ prayer is the working of the miracle of Redemption in me which produces the miracle of Redemption in others by the power of God. The way fruit remains is by prayer, but remember it is prayer based on the agony of Redemption, not on my agony. Only a child gets prayer answered; a wise man does not.

Prayer is the battle; it is a matter of indifference where you are. Whichever way God engineers circumstances, the duty is to pray. Never allow the thought - "I am of no use where I am;" because you certainly can be of no use where you are not. Wherever God has dumped you down in circumstances pray, ejaculate to Him all the time. "Whatsoever ye ask in My name, that will I do." We won't pray unless we get thrills, that is the intensest form of spiritual selfishness. We have to labour along the line of God's direction, and He says pray. "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest."

There is nothing thrilling about a labouring man's work, but it is the labouring man who makes the conceptions of the genius possible; and it is the labouring saint who makes the conceptions of his Master possible. You labour at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint. What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 16, June 17, October 17
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.

But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

"Each of us should have two pockets," the rabbis teach. "In one should be the message, 'I am dust and ashes,' and in the other we should have written, 'For me the universe was made.'" These ideas are clearly Benedict's as well. Two things he does not want us to omit from our prayer lives, psalm 67's plea for continued blessing and psalm 51's need for continual forgiveness, a sense of God's goodness and our brokenness, a sense of God's greatness and our dependence, a sense of God's grandeur and our fragility. Prayer, for Benedict, is obviously not a routine activity. It is a journey into life, its struggles and its glories. It is sometimes difficult to remember, when days are dull and the schedule is full, that God has known the depth of my emptiness but healed this broken self regardless, which, of course, is exactly why Benedict structures prayer around psalm 67 and psalm 51. Day after day after day.

Then Benedict arranges the rest of the morning psalmody for the remainder of the week to remind us of the place God takes in human life. On Monday Benedict requires the saying of psalms 5 and 36 to remind us at the beginning of every week that God is a god who "hears the voice" of those who "at daybreak lay their case" before the holy temple and who "maintains a faithful love." On Tuesday he prescribes psalms 43 and 57 to remind us in the weight of the day that God is our hope, our joy, our defense. On Wednesday he prescribes psalms 64 and 65 to recall to us when we are tempted to give in to our lesser selves, out of fatigue, out of stress, out of the ennui of the week, that God does punish evildoers, those who "shoot at the innocent from cover," and God does indeed "calm the turmoil of the seas." On Thursday, as the week wears on, Benedict's prayer structure assures us in psalms 88 and 90 that distress is that part of life in which God is present in absence but that God "is our refuge" who each morning "fills us with faithful love" so that "we shall sing and be happy all our days." On Saturday, at the end of the week, with new lessons learned and new problems solved and new deaths survived, Benedict puts Psalm 143 and the Canticle of Deuteronomy in our hearts.

Moses reminds us by an excursion through history that God is "a trustworthy God who does no wrong." Whatever has happened to us in these days has been for our good, too, we are very subtly instructed, so that we can pray psalm 143 in confidence of the week to come: "Show me the road I must travel for you to relieve my heart."

Monastic morning prayer is not an idle ordering of psalms. It is a treatise on the monastic mindset that is to characterize those who claim to be giving their lives to God.

Finally, Benedict's prayer form requires a realistic appraisal of community life. "The celebration...must never pass by without reciting the entire Prayer of Jesus at the end for all to hear, because thorns of contention are likely to spring up." The Prayer of Jesus is designed to heal and cement and erase the pain and struggle of community life, of family life, of global life where we all live together at one another's expense.

Benedictine prayer is not an escape into a contrived or arcane life. It is prayer intended to impel us through the cold, hard, realities of life in the home, life in the community, life in the world, life with people whom we love enough to hate and whom we hate enough to dampen every other kind of love in us.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 The
Venerable Martyr Andrew of Crete
Kellia: Jeremiah 51:1-14 LXX Epistle: Colossians
1:18-23 Gospel: St. Luke 9:44-50

Jeremiah's Later Ministry ~ The God of History: Jeremiah 51:1-14 LXX,
especially vs. 7: "And now thus has the Lord Almighty said, Wherefore do
ye commit these great evils against your souls? to cut off man and woman
of you, infant and suckling from the midst of Judah, to the end that not
one of you should be left?" The German philosopher, Georg Friedrich
Hegel in his Philosophy of History observes, with some truth and some
cynicism, that "peoples and governments never have learned anything from
history, or acted on principles deduced from it." The prophetic record
of Jeremiah certainly adds credence to Hegel's remark. The great
Prophet spent his entire working-life striving - to no avail - to save
God's people from needless disasters by following God's commandments and
principles revealed in history. God's word is the best.

Kings of Judah and generations of God's People after the godly King
Josiah seemed to do nothing but fly in the face of the Lord's will
despite steady appeals from His Prophets. At no time during Jeremiah's
ministry was resistance to God's truth, based on experience from the
past, more evident than among the refugees of Judah who fled to Egypt
after the fall of Jerusalem.

Those who freely left Judah and settled in Egypt gravitated toward
existing centers of Egyptian culture and religion (vs. 1), thereby daily
immersing themselves in an idolatry with a non-historical view of life.
The underlying assumption of ancient Egyptian cosmology was the belief
that life is determined by the cyclic forces of nature. Invented
deities such as the sun god, the gods of the sky, earth, air, water,
fertility, joy, and the realm of the dead were honored and worshiped by
the populace. The Egyptians devoutly burned incense to these supposed
gods to influence and placate the powers of nature in their favor. Few
ideas of truth, morality, and justice derive solely from the
regularities observed in the repetitive course of nature's processes.
The unique bias of God's People toward history as the field within which
God the Lord discloses His purposes for mankind was simply unknown to
the Egyptians.

When the idea of fleeing to Egypt arose, then Jeremiah was most fearful
for the remnant of God's People in Judah. They were choosing a culture
for themselves with a seductive faith based on imagination. It would
destroy the living consciousness of God as the Lord Who acts and
decides. Unwittingly, but surely, the refugees would lose their
heritage of obedience to God's will as revealed in history. They would
reap terrible results (Jer. 49:18).

In their immediate past, the whole nation had fallen into just such
pagan worship - especially after joining with Egypt as their ally (Jer.
7:16-20). Having an historical view based on God's revelation of
Himself, Jeremiah knew that thrusting aside obedience to God in favor of
captivating, sensuous cults would inevitably result in God's wrath being
"poured out...upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the
fruit of the ground" (Jer. 7:20).

Today contemporary invitations to adopt this sort of alien world-view
faces you. Recently, speaking to his Priests, the Roman Catholic
Cardinal of Great Britain, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, declared that "Christ
[is] being replaced by music, New Age beliefs, the environmental
movement, the occult and the free-market economy." See, all these
popular-culture movements share a common basis in a naturalistic,
ahistorical view of life. Be cautious, Christ lover: the adoption of
man-made worship invariably stifles fear of the Lord in life which the
Prophets and Apostles of Christ our God teach. Do not let them erode
your commitment to the truth of the living God that historic
Christianity presents to you and to all men (Jer. 51:10).

O Lord Who rulest all men, and by grace hast made us reason-endowed
sheep in the holy flock of Thy Christ, help us to live unto Thee in
accordance with Thy saving commandments.

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