Monday, October 22, 2007

22/10/07 Mon after 21st 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.


Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; 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 25; PM Psalm 9, 15
Jer. 44:1-14; 1 Cor. 15:30-41; Matt. 11:16-24

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 11:16-24. This like children.

In the lesson for today Jesus has had it with people. You know how it feels. John was criticized for being too strict; Jesus got the same treatment for being too lax. Wonderful things were done, and nobody seemed to recognize or acknowledge it. How could people be so perverse and picky, so needy and so ungrateful?

We have all felt that way at one time or another. We suffer unjust criticism and make great efforts that go unnoticed. It happens at work and it happens
at home. We might take some comfort in knowing that Jesus had the same feelings. We might also take some direction from seeing what he did about those feelings. In this text he grumped and murmured something about things going better for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for these folks. But then he returned to his ministry of teaching, healing, loving, and serving. He went right back to the same people who were so frustrating because the bottom line is what God expected of him, not how people appreciated him.

Frustration does not make us bad any more than enthusiasm makes us good. Feelings are just that-feelings-and nothing more. What we do, often in spite of our feelings, is what counts.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Thika (Kenya)

Speaking to the Soul:


Daily Reading for October 22

Perseverance is not merely the crown and stamp of perfection, it must accompany every step in the growth of every grace; just as the texture of the tree must be woven firm in every stage of its growth, so perseverance has to watch over the growth of each virtue day by day; every day in which it fails, the graces which are under its care begin to droop and lose their bloom.

Thus perseverance is not only a virtue in itself, but it is one without whose constant presence and assistance no other virtue can develop on step in its growth. If charity, then, be the soil into which all must spread their roots, perseverance is the cohesive force that gives form and consistency to all over whose development it presides. And thus temptation will often leave all the graces that the soul is trying to form unassailed, and attack the one grace of perseverance; for it knows well that if it can destroy this, all else must fail with it. We often meet with people with very high aspirations and the beginnings of many graces and with great possibilities, but nothing in them matures, nothing attains its full bloom, for they are lacking in the one grace which is the guardian and protector of all—they have no perseverance.

From Some Principles and Practices of the Spiritual Life (1899) by B. W. Maturin, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild (Westminster John Knox Press, 1998).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.
— Rumer Godden in A House with Four Rooms

To Practice This Thought: Assess the condition of your four rooms. Which one looks like you visit it regularly? Which needs airing out?
++++++++++ Reflections

O living flame of love, that tenderly wounds my soul, in it deepest centre! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
St John of the Cross
Living Flame, stanza 1.

Reading from the Desert Christians


I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I
said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I
heard a voice saying to me, "Humility."

St. Anthony the Great

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Garden of the Saints

The Church is a very human organization but also the garden of God's grace. It is a place where great sanctity keeps blooming. It is a place where great sanctity keeps blooming. Saints are people who make the living Christ visible to us in a special way. Some saints have given their lives in the service of Christ and his Church; others have spoken and written words that keep nurturing us; some have lived heroically in difficult situations; others have remained hidden in quiet lives of prayer and meditation; some were prophetic voices calling for renewal; others were spiritual strategists setting up large organizations or networks of people; some were healthy and strong; others were quite sick, and often anxious and insecure.

But all of them in their own ways lived in the Church as in a garden where they heard the voice calling them the Beloved and where they found the courage to make Jesus the center of their lives.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of October 22, 2007

One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the [Adolf] Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. I do not doubt it at all, and that is precisely why I find it disturbing. . . . .
  The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.
  It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared. What makes us so sure, after all, that the danger comes from a psychotic getting into a position to fire the first shot in a nuclear war? Psychotics will be suspect. The sane ones will keep them far from the button. No one suspects the sane, and the sane ones will have perfectly good reasons, logical, well-adjusted reasons, for firing the shot. They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity they will have no qualms at all. When the missiles take off, then, it will be no mistake.

Thomas Merton. "A Devout Meditation in Memory of Adolf Eichmann" in Raids on the Unspeakable. New York: New Directions Publishing Co., 1964: 45, 46-47.

Thought to Remember:

[T]hose who have invented and developed atomic bombs, thermonuclear bombs, missiles; who have planned the strategy of the next war; who have evaluated the various possibilities of using bacterial and chemical agents: these are not the crazy people, they are the sane people.

Raids on the Unspeakable: 48.

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

Day Twenty Two - The First Note -


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples' feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Silent Waiting
October 22nd, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

WE NEED TIMES of silent waiting, alone, when the busy intellect is not leaping from problem to problem, and from puzzle to puzzle. If we learn the secret of carrying a living silence in the center of our being we can listen on the run. The listening silence can become intertwined with all our inward prayers. A few moments of relaxed silence, alone, every day, are desperately important.

- Thomas Kelly
The Sanctuary of the Soul

From page 47 of The Sanctuary of the Soul: Selected Writings of Thomas Kelly, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1997 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

A Negative Sacrament?

During my sabbatical retreat at the Gethsemani Trappist monastery in Kentucky, I spent a lot of time sitting on the front porch of the hermitage where Thomas Merton lived. I would ponder one thought for twenty minutes, and then for the next twenty minutes it was another thing. By the time I was to the third one or the fourth one, I didn’t even remember the first one anymore. In the silence, they were able to come and go because there was nothing I could do with them. There was no one I could yell at, or work out a problem with. I couldn’t go write a nasty letter, I couldn’t get on the phone and chew someone out or love someone, whatever it might be. I had to let it be. I couldn’t attach myself to it.

Now, if I were living in society, I would have probably acted upon my feeling, gossiping to someone else about a difficult situation. Gossip is a kind of negative sacrament. Remember our old definition of sacrament? We said sacraments, once you do them, effect what they symbolize. It’s the same way with gossip. When you talk negatively, you invest in your negativism. You justify it, and it becomes harder to avoid. The most nasty and irrational judgments I have received from people have often followed upon a negative bull-session.

For me, the way to break it is silence. In silence, I see my negative feelings passing before me like mist. All of these paranoid and self-pitying feelings were not really justified by the situation out there as much as they were needed by myself. They were attachments that I created to define and validate myself. In the hermitage, they meant nothing.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

The Christian mystery

Just as the letters on a page are meaningless to a child who has not learned to read, so it is with the Christian mystery. Unbelievers are deaf to what they hear, whereas the experience of the Spirit empowers believers to perceive its hidden meaning. Paul made this clear when he said: Our preaching is obscure, but only for those on the way to perdition. Something proclaimed everywhere without being understood by those lacking an upright spirit is undoubtedly a mystery. For to the extent that we are able to receive it, it is revealed not by human wisdom but by the Holy Spirit. Rightly, therefore, is the mystery said to be a secret, for even we believers have not been given a completely clear and accurate knowledge of it. As Paul said: Our knowledge and our prophesying are imperfect. We see now as it were a dim reflection in a mirror, but then face to face. This is why he said: We impart the wisdom of God in a mystery predestined by God before all ages for our glory.

John Chrysostom

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


"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit. . ." Romans 8:16 (R.V.)

We are in danger of getting the barter spirit when we come to God, we want the witness before we have done what God tells us to do. "Why does not God reveal Himself to me?" He cannot, it is not that He will not, but He cannot, because you are in the road as long as you won't abandon absolutely to Him. Immediately you do, God witnesses to Himself, He cannot witness to you, but He witnesses instantly to His own nature in you. If you had the witness before the reality, it would end in sentimental emotion. Immediately you transact on the Redemption, and stop the impertinence of debate, God gives on the witness. As soon as you abandon reasoning and argument, God witnesses to what He has done, and we are amazed at our impertinence in having kept Him waiting. If you are in debate as to whether God can deliver from sin, either let Him do it, or tell Him He cannot. Do not quote this and that person, try Matthew 11:28 - "Come unto Me." Come, if you are weary and heavy laden; ask, if you know you are evil (Luke 11:13).

The Spirit of God witnesses to the Redemption of Our Lord, He does not witness to anything else; He cannot witness to our reason. The simplicity that comes from our natural common-sense decisions is apt to be mistaken for the witness of the Spirit, but the Spirit witnesses only to His own nature, and to the work of Redemption, never to our reason. If we try to make Him witness to our reason, it is no wonder we are in darkness and perplexity. Fling it all overboard, trust in Him, and He will give the witness.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 21, June 22, October 22
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

Let this verse be said:
"Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me,"
and the "Glory be to the Father"
then the hymn proper to each Hour.

Then at Prime on Sunday
four sections of Psalm 118 are to be said;
and at each of the remaining Hours,
that is Terce, Sext and None,
three sections of the same Psalm 118.

At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said,
namely Psalms 1, 2 and 6.
And so each day at Prime until Sunday
let three Psalms be said in numerical order, to Psalm 19,
but with Psalms 9 and 17 each divided into two parts.
Thus it comes about that the Night Office on Sunday
always begins with Psalm 20.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Perhaps the most important point to be made about the structure of prayer during the day hours, during the periods of distraction and the times of work is simply this. Even then, prayer is to be prayer, not a glancing thought, not a shrug or a gesture or a mindless moment of empty daydreaming. It is to be brief, yes. It is not, however, to be superficial. Benedict wants us to pray the psalms. His own monks, many of them illiterate and all of them without manuscripts, memorized the psalms of the day hours so that they could be prayed in the fields as well as in the prayer place.

This chapter, consequently, of all the chapters in the Rule on prayer is a real challenge to a modern society. What psalm prayers can we say without reading? What prayers ring in our hearts? What do we think about when we're not thinking about anything special? Do we ever simply stop the work we are doing during the day, look straight ahead and pray? What memorized material does run through our minds and why do we memorize what we do but not our prayers?

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

Monday, October 22, 2007 The Seven Youths (Seven Sleepers)
Martyred in Ephesos
Kellia: Judges 4:4-23 Epistle: Colossians
2:13-20 Gospel: St. Luke 10:22-24

Deborah I ~ Faith and Obedience: Judges 4:4-23 LXX, especially vss. 15,
16: "Sisera descended from off his chariot, and fled on his feet. And
Barak pursued after the chariots and after the army, into Harosheth of
the Gentiles; and the whole army of Sisera fell by the edge of the
sword, there was not one left." Immediately before this passage, it is
recorded that a certain Jabin, the king of Canaan, maintained a large
army of iron chariots by which "he mightily oppressed Israel twenty
years" (Jdg. 4:2,3). His general, Sisera, equipped the king's chariots
with whirling knives on the wheels - for dashing in among infantry and
cutting up opponents on foot while protecting their drivers and
warriors. A whole generation of ancient Israel's populace had been
subdued by these deadly, mobile squadrons. However, to deliver His
People while they were living under Jabin's hand, God raised up a
Prophetess, Deborah, who kept informal court under a palm tree in the
northern hills of the Holy Land (Jdg. 4:4-5).

Twenty years was enough! God roused Deborah and "she sent and called
Barak" from Naphtali, one of the northernmost tribes of Israel and were
living immediately under Jabin's control (vs. 6). Notice why God chose
this moment to act: He had a Servant whose will was open to His
commands, whose heart was close to the people, and whose mind was
committed to act. She heard as "the children of Israel cried to the
Lord" (Jdg. 4:3). God does encourage His People. Therefore, always
turn to Him for strength and willingness - yes, even when you are
overwhelmed by the powers of this present life. The powers may seem
invincible; but remember that when you seek help from the Lord, also
seek unfettered trust to obey Him.

In considering trust and obedience, think about Barak. He had faith to
obey God's command, but his was not an unquestioning faith. His trust
was bridled, restrained; he was willing to obey, but with conditions.
As a result the glory of victory would go to an unarmed woman of
unhesitating faith (vss. 9,21-23). Truly, there are bitter powers in
life, insistent sinful desires in our hearts, and nagging suggestions
from Satan. These all speak against action and victory. But cry to
God! Pray, recognizing your need for help in struggling against
defeat. Ask for unbridled faith, willingness to act as God expects,
readiness without conditions.

God assured Barak. He gave explicit orders concerning the number of
troops for battle. He promised to lead Sisera's army into a tactical
check, intervene Himself, and give Sisera into Barak's hands (vs. 7).
But, Barak set conditions. As he said to Deborah, "If you will go with
me, I will go" (vs. 8). There was readiness in him, but not a robust,
unquestioning faith to risk, to believe in God's promises and do what
was commanded. Prayer often starts from limited trust, but ask the Lord
to unleash your faith and strengthen your will to obey without hesitation.

Like Barak, you know God's commandments in your heart. Our Lord Jesus,
in His Sermon on the Mount, reveals the full scope of those
commandments. He shows that their sole purpose is to defeat the powers
arrayed against you, forgive the sins that limit your obedience, and
silence Satan's nagging. Prayer is the means for gaining faith in the
battles of this life. Prayer gives you the ability to act with full,
unqualified trust in God.

Consider Jael, the wife of Heber. Be ready to put to death in your own
tent - within yourself - pride, the enemy's chief general that obstructs
the Holy Spirit from giving you victory. Christ our God has already
defeated him on the battlefield. He trampled down death by death. He
rose in victory. Take in hand your opportunity to share in His victory!

O Lord save Thy People, and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy
People victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross,
preserving Thy kingdom.



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