Wednesday, October 24, 2007

24/10/07 Wed 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 38; PM Psalm 119:25-48
Lam. 2:8-15; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Matt. 12:1-14

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 12:1-14. The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.

Among the many struggles that go on in individual hearts and in society at large is that between rules and common sense. Do we obey a rule simply because it is there or do we use our heads and decide which rules to apply to a given situation? Obviously the latter course would lead to chaos, just as complete adherence to every rule would leave us like the Pharisees in today's reading who elevated Sabbath rules over human health and healing. Rules exist for reasons that are not always apparent to us, but we do have the right--responsibility, even--to make exceptions. That is what Jesus is doing in this story.

There is no rule that tells us when to disobey the rules. The burden of proof is on the disobedient. We must have good reasons and stand by them when we separate ourselves from the rules and norms of our community and our faith. It is also important to know that the exception does not make the rule go away.
If we decide there are reasons to disobey a rule, the exception applies only to that situation; the rule will still be with us tomorrow. The difference between chaos and creativity is that creativity has a norm to which it returns. Chaos does not. Be creative, not chaotic.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Communion Observer at the United
Nations and the Diocese of Toamasina (Indian Ocean)

Speaking to the Soul:

Enclose us in your threefold wings

Daily Reading for October 24

Holy Wisdom in your power
Hold us fast in every hour.

Enclose us in your threefold wings
Spreading to embrace all things.

One pierces heaven’s heights above,
Another touches earth with love.

The other moves with tender care
In mystery through the cosmic air.

Holy Wisdom in your power
Enlighten us in every hour.

A prayer of Hildegard of Bingen, quoted in Invincible Spirits: A Thousand Years of Women’s Spiritual Writings, compiled by Felicity Leng (Eerdmans, 2006).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

I believe this is why truly spiritual people are in the habit of cultivating the nearly forgotten art of basic hospitality, perhaps because they realize that when we are able to make others feel comfortable, the pleasures of belonging are close at hand.
— Phillip L. Berman in The Journey Home

To Practice This Thought: Recall a time when you provided hospitality to others. How did this experience deepen your sense of community?
++++++++++ Reflections

Scattering a thousand graces, he passed through these groves in haste, and looking on them as he went, with his glance alone, he clothed them in beauty.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 5.

Reading from the Desert Christians


This is the mark of Christianity--however much a man toils, and
however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done
nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in
praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I
have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice
and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he
should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but
only make a beginning every day."

St. Macarius the Great

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Loving the Church

Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church - whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic - belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, "I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it."

Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.

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

Day Twenty Four - The First Note, cont'd

The faults that we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than of criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another's. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked, and to volunteer to take it. Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which we feel unworthy or incapable, we do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it through the power that is made perfect in weakness.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Risking the Unknown
October 24th, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

if only we can risk the unknown
and not cling to the familiar,
we will learn of your grace and strength.

- Richard Morgan
Settling In: My First Year in a Retirement Community

From page 30 of Settling In: My First Year in a Retirement Community by Richard Morgan. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

The Dreams of Youth

Hindus and Buddhists are way ahead of us Westerners in terms of what their young people idealize. They’re led to idealize holiness, inner freedom, inner truth, rather than simply outer success. Our drive for outer success has given us tremendous advantages in terms of the scientific and industrial revolutions, but Asia and Africa are more able to triumph over the inner world. Wisdom is still idealized as the value that binds them together.

During my travels I was glad to see, in Africa especially, the almost universal puberty rites and initiation rites still in place. Basically they are intense, three-month “CCD programs” that work. The young people are taken apart by the wise men or women of the tribe and taught what wisdom is: “This is what holds us together as a people. This is what we stand for, this is who we are, these are our values.” And when those young men and women return from those kind of groupings, they know who they are.

In our culture, we’re forever searching for our values, what we want to believe in, what we might want to commit ourselves to. Adolescence, the time of open options, now lasts until age thirty-two in the West! In some cultures, adolescence really ends as early as sixteen and seventeen. You often see that in the self-assurance of young people who find their ground and meaning much earlier.

I suspect we actually are stunted and paralyzed by having too many options. We are no longer the developed world; we are the overdeveloped world.

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.

How can you believe that you share in eternal life?

If you acknowledge that the Lord's flesh is the bread of life and that it communicates life, and if you know that his blood also gives life to those who receive it and becomes like a spring of water welling up to eternal life in the one who drinks it, tell me how you can possibly receive them in communion without deriving any spiritual benefit, and even if you do perhaps experience a little joy, how you can soon afterwards continue to be the same as you were before, without seeing in yourself any increase of life, any bubbling spring or light of any kind?

To people who have not risen above the level of the senses this bread perceived by the senses seems to be only a fragment of food, but in the spiritual order it is light unapproachable and unbounded. And the wine likewise is light, life, fire, and living water. Therefore, if when you eat the holy bread and drink the wine of gladness you are unaware of having begun to live an incorruptible life, of having received within yourself bread which is luminous or fiery, of having drunk the blood of the Lord as though it were water leaping up and speaking, if you experience nothing whatever of this kind in contemplation and communion, how can you believe that you share in eternal life?

Symeon the New Theologian

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


"Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." 2 Corinthians 2:14

The viewpoint of a worker for God must not be as near the highest as he can get, it must be the highest. Be careful to maintain strenuously God's point of view, it has to be done every day, bit by bit; don't think on the finite. No outside power can touch the viewpoint.

The viewpoint to maintain is that we are here for one purpose only, viz., to be captives in the train of Christ's triumphs. We are not in God's showroom, we are here to exhibit one thing - the absolute captivity of our lives to Jesus Christ. How small the other points of view are - I am standing alone battling for Jesus; I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold this fort for Him. Paul says - I am in the train of a conqueror, and it does not matter what the difficulties are, I am always led in triumph. Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul's secret joy was that God took him, a red-handed rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive, and now that is all he is here for. Paul's joy was to be a captive of the Lord, he had no other interest in heaven or in earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. The Victor ought to have got us so completely that it is His victory all the time, and we are more than conquerors through Him.

"For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ." We are enwheeled with the odour of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 23, June 24, October 24
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

Vespers are to be sung with four Psalms every day.
These shall begin with Psalm 109 and go on to Psalm 147,
omitting those which are set apart for other Hours;
that is to say that
with the exception of Psalms 117 to 127 and Psalms 133 and 142,
all the rest of these are to be said at Vespers.
And since there are three Psalms too few,
let the longer ones of the above number be divided,
namely Psalms 138, 143 and 144.
But let Psalm 116 because of its brevity be joined to Psalm 115.

The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled,
let the rest of the Hour --
lesson, responsory, hymn, verse and canticle --
be carried out as we prescribed above.

At Compline the same Psalms are to be repeated every day,
namely Psalms 4, 90 and 133.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

In determining the order of the psalms for the prayer life of his community, Benedict grounds Prime, Terce, Sext and None, the Little Hours of the Divine Office, in the Wisdom Psalm, 119. Wisdom psalms were not liturgical hymns of lament or praise. They were meant to instruct the assembly in divine truths and were often built on the alphabet in order to make memorization easier. Modern educators write children's books or songs in the same way and for the same reason. Psalm 119, therefore, has 22 sections, with each of the eight verses of each section beginning with one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

It is this longest of all psalms, with its theme of the trustworthiness of God's law, the richness of God's will for us, the excellence of God's loving design for us that Benedict wants us to learn and say daily and never forget.

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

Wed, October 24, 2007 Great-Martyr Arethas (al-Harith) and
Companions in Arabia
Kellia: Judges 5:19-31 Epistle: Colossians
3:17-4:1 Gospel: St. Luke 11:9-13

Synergy: Judges 5:19-31, especially vss. 20, 26: "From heaven fought
the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera....She
stretched forth her left hand to the nail, and her right hand to the
workman's hammer, and she smote Sisera with it, she nailed through his
temples." St. John Chrysostom begs us consider how, through all of
Scripture, God sets down two points, "His part, and our part." What the
Lord does for us "is varied and numerous and diverse. For He died for
us and reconciled us; He brought us to Himself, and gave us grace
unspeakable." The response God expects is implementation, the use of
His grace, that we should grow in virtue and the Spirit. St. Seraphim
of Sarov encourages us to "accumulate capital from the superabundance of
God's grace, deposit it in God's eternal bank, which will
bring...immaterial interest, not four or six percent, but one hundred
percent for one spiritual rouble."

The liberation of the People of God from the tyranny of Jabin, king of
Canaan, that took place "in Taanach at the water of the
brook Kishon" (vss. 19,21), did not come solely because the modest and
slight flow of the brook Kishon turned into a torrent that caught the
army of Sisera and "swept them away" (vs. 21). God Himself joined the
battle into which He had already sent the army of Deborah and Barak. He
unleashed a storm upstream that flooded the plains of Meggido and
"discomfited Sisera and all his army"(Jdgs 4:15). When Sisera saw that
"the hoofs of the horse were entangled" (Jdgs 5:22) he "descended from
off his chariot and fled...on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of
Heber" (Jdgs. 4:15,17). Was all this an accident of weather, a random
stroke of fate where a tent was pitched, or the providence of God? God
did His part; and the armies of Israel and Jael did their part - God and
man in synergy.

Listen to St. Augustine of Hippo: "The Son of God assumed human nature,
and in it He endured all that belongs to the human condition. This is a
remedy for mankind of a power beyond our imagining....Do not fear
insults, crosses and death: for if they did man harm, the humanity which
God's Son assumed would not have endured them." God's gracious action
does us little good if we do not invest it, utilize it, put it to the
work of growing our hearts and minds into the likeness and image of
Christ Himself. Holding us accountable if we bury the talent received
in the ground, our Lord and Master will be fully in His rights to cast
us, like wicked servants, "into outer darkness: there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth" (Mt. 25:25-30).

Your opportunity is large, as boundless as God's grace. Who can
calculate all He has done for us? On what scale do you measure what He
has accomplished in rescuing you from the tyrannies of this earth - the
cruel Jabins, the assaults of demons, death, and your sins? Listen well
to St. John Chrysostom: "Baptism gives life to those who by sins were
made dead...Since then it has given us life, let us remain living and
not return again to the former deadness...He will not have us always
saved by grace, for so we will be empty of all things. Therefore, He
will have us contribute something from ourselves as well. Let us then
contribute, and preserve life for our soul." Robust Christianity is
synergistic, giving its labor to seal and develop God's grace.

Now consider the rhythm of the Book of Judges: God gives the grace for
doing man's part, but His People squander His grace. In misery they cry
to Him. In His grace He calls them to arms and pours out a flood
against the enemy. In synergy they gain liberation. St. Silouan says,
"He who keeps all the commandments will always feel grace present in his
soul...but grace is easily lost...through a single arrogant thought."
God's part is continuous; may ours be also!

O Lord, Thou seest how weak is my soul without Thy grace, and nowhere at
rest. Do Thou, our delight, our Heavenly Father, give us strength to
love Thee. Give us Thy holy fear.



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