Saturday, October 20, 2007

20/10/07 Sat after 20ith 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.


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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 20, 21:1-7(8-14); PM Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117
2 Kings 25:8-12,22-26; 1 Cor. 15:12-29; Matt. 11:7-15

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 11:7-15. What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?

Jesus is talking about John the Baptist, a rough sort of a guy,confrontational and combative. He called people vipers and brashly told them they were way
off God's track. He attacked royalty and the common folk alike. Needless to say, people had a mixed reaction to him, generally approving his attacks on others while squirming at his attacks on them. Jesus asks them what they expected. John was not a mind-soothing screen saver or a smooth-talking politician. He was a prophet, and prophets are supposed to be in your face.

Who is the John the Baptist in your spiritual life? Who confronts and challenges you? Who reminds you of the guilt and responsibility that make it clear you need a savior? Some of us have washed that kind of voice out of our faith so that we are left with only bumper stickers and sweet music. Others have a tendency to let that voice crowd out all others so that anger becomes the centerpiece of faith. Both are wrong. Jesus says that John plays a key role in salvation's story, but he is not the key to the kingdom of God.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of The Murray (South Australia, Australia)

Speaking to the Soul:

The prayer of power

Daily Reading for October 20

We have never run or knowingly patronized sweat shops, or underpaid workers; the struggle between organized labor and company unions is wholly out of our picture. Indeed, we have really no direct contact with these great abuses and injustices which wise men are denouncing. We live within the capitalistic order, to be sure; and we are being taught not to approve of it; yet we can not run away. We could not escape the profit system for that matter, even if we wove cloth for our own garments on Gandhi’s spinning wheels. There are always a few interesting idealists who are trying to run away but they are very partially successful. We can not escape; we do not feel responsible for the system; we agree with our spiritual guides that it is a very bad system. Then they tell us that “we” must change it, and we inevitably ask them, “how?” No answer comes. . . .

The responsibility for social intercession is not satisfied by vague aspiration, “Thy Kingdom Come.” That petition, to be sure, covers all our desires; but if we pray specifically for the recovery to health of a beloved friend, for example, we should be equally specific in our prayers for the health of the body politic. Now we can not be specific unless we have some conviction and some intelligence. There is a type of purely formal prayer; not wholly, useless, we hope. But most Christian people have some little experience at least of another kind of prayer, the prayer of power. That kind of a prayer must be enlightened; it must be lit at the torch of knowledge. The chief reason why all Christian people should be making themselves intelligent about the great issues of the day, is that they may learn to pray with fervor and to use the prayer of power.

To cultivate social imagination; to study; to pray; here even if no practical activity is possible to us, are outlets for that need of action native to men, here is sure release from bewildered and unworthy private-mindedness. . . . But let us not suppose that what lies before us will be easy. To evolve that “new economic order” which the Churches desire, will mean heavy cost to every single man. Let us rejoice; for tests of heroism and of readiness for sacrifice await us. The fate of our whole Western civilization hangs today in the balance; and on the Church, that is, on the body of her children, this fate may well depend.

From “Social Problems Facing the Church” by Vida Dutton Scudder, quoted in A Year With American Saints by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber. Copyright © 2006. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

O God, help me to believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is!
— Macrina Wiederkehr quoted in A Grateful Heart edited by M. J. Ryan

To Practice This Thought: Identify one beautiful truth about yourself.
++++++++++ Reflections

Prayer of a soul enkindled with love. My Way is the way of trust and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from
failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily
nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your
spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is
going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going
to die.

St. Gregory the Great

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Superabundant Grace

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God's healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God's promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

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

Day Twenty - The Third Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries endeavor to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service which we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Wisdom and Instruction
October 20th, 2007
Saturday’s Reflection

LET US ONLY intend to see and hear, and then the whole world becomes a book of wisdom and instruction to us. All that is regular in the order of nature, all that is accidental in the course of things, all the mistakes and disappointments that happen to us, and all the miseries and errors that we see in other people become so many plain lessons of advice to us. …

If you would only carry this intention of profiting by the follies of the world and of learning the greatness of religion from the littleness and vanity of every other way of life, you would find every day, every place, and every person, a fresh proof of the wisdom of those who choose to live wholly to God.

- William Law
Total Devotion to God

From pages 40-41 of Total Devotion to God: Selected Writings of William Law, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 2001 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Living Sacraments!-- InstanceEndEditable -->

We’re learning how to embrace and cherish our inner brokenness and violence. So it’s no accident that our Church is rising to the occasion and addressing the great global issues of social justice. Brokenness doesn’t terrify us so much anymore. We see the disabled one as a sacrament. He or she is an icon and a mirror image of our own souls. When I look, I see not only the person, but I see my self that I’m afraid of.

The retarded woman is not simply an accident of history over there, but someone we must gather into our midst and let teach us. Our soul asks, Why would God create someone like you? You can’t be educated the same way we can. What value are you? Why would God bother with you?

When we see the refugee, we recognize the terror in our own soul at not having a place to lay our head and not having a home. When we see the homosexual, we see the male and female parts of our selves that we are so afraid of. Yet these are the ones we push to the edge, whom we run from and call names. We lock them up in prisons where we can just assume that they are evil and bad, and that we are good.

Humility is the only appropriate response once we take the inner journey. What do we have to boast about? Who are we? We are fragmented and fractured to the core. We rail against that and fight it every day because there’s a very large part of us that wants the world to be right and perfect in a way it will never be. And maybe it doesn’t need to be.

The only truth I find is the humiliating truth. The little ones are icons of our own souls. The outsiders are sacraments of the eternally rejected Christ.

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.

Perfect faith

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. What does it mean to enter into temptation? It means to turn one's back on faith. Temptation grows stronger in proportion as faith weakens, and becomes weaker in proportion as faith grows strong. To convince you, beloved, that Jesus was speaking of the weakening and loss of faith when he told his disciples to watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation, the Lord said in this same passage of the gospel: This night Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. Is the protector to pray, while the person in danger has no need to do so?

But in asking whether the Son of Man would find faith on earth at his coming, the Lord was speaking of perfect faith. That kind of faith is indeed hardly to be found on earth. Look at God's Church: it is full of people. Who would come here if faith were non-existent? But who would not move mountains if that faith were present in full measure? Mark the apostles: they would never have left everything they possessed and spurned worldly ambition to follow the Lord unless their faith had been great; and yet that faith of theirs could not have been perfect, otherwise they would not have asked the Lord to increase it.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3

It is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me; is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement? Am I willing to let Jesus be made sanctification to me, and to let the life of Jesus be manifested in my mortal flesh? Beware of saying - Oh, I am longing to be sanctified. You are not, stop longing and make it a matter of transaction - "Nothing in my hands I bring." Receive Jesus Christ to be made sanctification to you in implicit faith, and the great marvel of the Atonement of Jesus will be made real in you. All that Jesus made possible is made mine by the free loving gift of God on the ground of what He performed, my attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness), a holiness based on agonizing repentance and a sense of unspeakable shame and degradation; and also on the amazing realization that the love of God commended itself to me in that while I cared nothing about Him, He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification (see Rom. 5:8. R.V.). No wonder Paul says nothing is "able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is done only through the superb Atonement of Christ. Never put the effect as the cause. The effect in me is obedience and service and prayer, and is the out come of speechless thanks and adoration for the marvellous sanctification wrought out in me because of the Atonement.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 19, June 20, October 20
Chapter 16: How the Work of God Is to Be Performed During the Day

"Seven times in the day," says the Prophet,
"I have rendered praise to You" (Ps. 118:164).
Now that sacred number of seven will be fulfilled by us
if we perform the Offices of our service
at the time of the Morning Office,
of Prime, of Terce, of Sext, of None,
of Vespers and of Compline,
since it was of these day Hours that he said,
"Seven times in the day I have rendered praise to You."
For as to the Night Office the same Prophet says,
"In the middle of the night I arose to glorify You" (Ps. 118:62).

Let us therefore bring our tribute of praise to our Creator
"for the judgments of His justice" (Ps. 118:164)
at these times:
the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext, None,
Vespers and Compline;
and in the night let us arise to glorify Him.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

"Prayer is the service of the heart," the Talmud says. Benedict clearly thought the same. In forming his communities in prayer, Benedict had two realities with which to deal. The first was the biblical injunction "to pray always" around which the monastics of the desert had centered their lives. The second was the reality of community life itself: "We earn our bread by the toil of our hands," the Rule says.

The problem was that Benedict's monks were not hermits who scratched their daily fare out of a dry desert, living on locusts and honey. They were not gyrovagues, wandering monks, who, to demonstrate their dependence on God, begged their way through life. Benedict's monks were cenobites, community people with a family to support. They were each as responsible for their inexperienced young and worn out elderly as they were for themselves. They were, in other words, just like us.

To sanctify both situations Benedict instructs his communities to rise early in the night, as his culture allowed, to study and to pray and then, during the day, to recite brief, simple, scriptural prayers at regular intervals, easy enough to be recited and prayed even in the workplace, to wrench their minds from the mundane to the mystical, away from concentration on life's petty particulars to attention on its transcendent meaning.

Benedict scheduled prayer times during the day to coincide with the times of the changing of the Roman imperial guard. When the world was revering its secular rulers Benedict taught us to give our homage to God, the divine ruler of heaven and earth. There was to be no stopping at the obvious, at the lesser, for a Benedictine.

The point is clear: there is to be no time, no thing, that absorbs us so much that we lose contact with the God of life; no stress so tension-producing, no burden so complex, no work so exhausting that God is not our greatest agenda, our constant companion, our rest and our refuge. More, whatever other people worship, we are to keep our minds and hearts on God.

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

Saturday, October 20,
2007 Great Martyr
Artemios at Antioch
Kellia: Judges 2:1-5, 11-23 Epistle: 2 Corinthians
3:12-18 Gospel: St. Luke 7:1-10

Overview: Judges 2:1-5, 11-23, especially vss. 16-17 LXX: "And the Lord
raised up judges, and the Lord saved them out of the hands of them that
spoiled them: and yet they hearkened not to the judges, for they went a
whoring after other gods, and worshiped them; and they turned quickly
out of the way in which their fathers walked to hearken to the words of
the Lord; they did not so." This early passage from the Book of Judges
provides an overview of the whole work. The Angel of the Lord, Who
"went up from Gilgal to Bochim," as the Holy Fathers teach, was God the
Word as a pre-incarnate revelation. Appropriate to a theophany, the
Lord first reviewed His relationship with the People: "I brought you up
out of Egypt" (vs. 1). Then, He reminded them of His commandments:
"make no covenant with them that dwell in this land, neither shall ye
worship their gods" (vs. 2). However, since they had disobeyed, He
pronounced His judgment: "I will not drive them out from before you, but
they shall be for a distress to you" (vs. 3). And so the people wept
(vs. 4), which is why that place was named "weeping" or Bochim in Hebrew
(vs. 5). Beware of the attractions of this world which, as enemies,
will ultimately distress your soul!

Observe where the Angel spoke: under Joshua's leadership, God's People
had entered the land and encamped at Gilgal as their first center of
operations (Jos. 4:19). At Gilgal, they set up twelve stones "that all
the nations of the earth" and their own posterity might know that "the
Lord is mighty" - that they should "worship the Lord our God in every
work" (Jos. 4:21).

The Divine Messenger did not judge them at Gilgal. Rather, He "went up"
from Gilgal with its memorial of what God achieved for them, to Bethel
(here called, "Bochim," Jdg. 2:1), a memory of God's judgment and
called "the house of God" (Beth-el). There the Lord promised to give
the land to Jacob's descendants and make them a blessing to "all the
tribes of the earth" (Gen. 28:14-17). But, they joined in the pagan
worship of the peoples of the land who were under God's judgment. His
promise to Israel remained, but their sin of religious syncretism would
bring them difficulties afterwards. Hence, they must weep. The
promises you and I have in Christ are far greater than land, but they
require our tears and struggle to attain purity.

Understand what led the Lord to test Israel's walk before Him (Jdg.
2:21-23). Of course, it was because they "wrought evil before the Lord,
and served Baalim" (vs. 11). Sins always are the cause of the trials
that the Lord allows to come upon you. Examine the worship of "Baal and
the Ashtaroth" thoughtfully (vs. 13). Baal* is a word for "a lord" or
"an owner" in Hebrew, and so the name of pagan deities, Baalim*. These
gods were known to the Canaanite peoples by various names including
Hadad and Adad. They were believed to give fertility to the womb, and
so prostitution was a regular part of their worship, with occasional
infant sacrifice. Ashtaroth, a goddess, also known as Astarte,
Aphrodite, or Venus, was a specific deity whose worship included all
sorts of lascivious practices, including sodomy and bestiality.

The worship of these gods explains why serving them "provoked the Lord"
(vs. 12). The world around us today worships these same gods but under
different names, perhaps hidden to their minds: "sex" and "lust." This
culture is saturated in sensuality, but life in Christ requires us to
struggle to keep "unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27). The Lord left
the pagans in place to test Israel, and He is allowing hedonism today,
to see if you will "keep the way of the Lord" (Jdg. 2:22). Out of
distress, "the Lord raised up judges" to save Israel (vs. 16).
Likewise, He gives you the Church, His teachings in Scripture and the
Fathers, and the Holy Mysteries to save you.

O my Lord, may Thy Communion cause all evil and passion to flee away
from me as from fire, through the intercession of all the Saints, the
Bodiless Powers and Thy pure Mother.



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