Monday, November 05, 2007

05/11/07 Mon in the 23rd wk 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 merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; 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 56, 57, [58]; PM Psalm 64, 65
Neh. 6:1-19; Rev. 10:1-11; Matt. 13:36-43

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 57. For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

When I told my very young children, "I love you," they always asked me, "How much?" And I answered, "All the way up to the sky and back!" When I was a little girl, my parents had told me the same, "I love you all the way up to the sky and back!" Now my children, grown and parents themselves, answer the question, "How much?" with "Up to the sky and back."

Of course, our knowledge of the world has expanded and today we might respond, "Up to the galaxies and back." The psalmist is expressing the infinite nature of God's love for us, God's children, in the same way that we try to express our love for our children. It is a love that goes all the way to the heavens and returns. An immeasurable love that knows no bounds. A love that is for always. A love that is as great as the universe. A love that is for all eternity.

Sometimes we have difficulty comprehending so great a love, an all encompassing love that forgives us for all our failures to love. We are God's beloved, the apple of God's eye, the objects of God's affection. How do we respond to so great a love? God has told us that it is through loving our neighbor that we love God. May we learn to love each other "up to the sky and back."


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Umuahia (The Niger Delta, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

Religion and politics

Daily Reading for November 5

An old saying holds that religion and politics don’t mix. Probably it was first said to Pharaoh when he turned down Moses’ plea to “let my people go.” Generally what it means is, “Your religion doesn’t mix with my politics.” If religion is where it all comes together—the microcosm and the macrocosm, intimate relationships and public policy—if Christians are called so to live “that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11), then religion and politics do mix and to claim otherwise is really to understand neither.

But to claim they mix is not to say they are identical. It is one thing to say with the prophet, “Let justice roll down like mighty waters” (Amos 5:24), and quite another to work out the irrigation system. The former is a religious concern, the latter a political task.

While Christians certainly don’t have to take positions on every issue, on matters of justice they have no choice. Said South African bishop Desmond Tutu, “When the elephant has his foot on the tail of the mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

And neither will God. When you stop to think about it, how can God be neutral? How can God do otherwise than side with the oppressed? If God sided with tyrants, God would be malevolent. If God sided with no one, God would be indifferent, which is to say again “malevolent,” because God would be supporting tyranny by not protesting it.

The story of God and Moses and Pharaoh reminds us that compassion, for its implementation, demands confrontation. It also puts churches on notice to identify not with the structures of power but with the victims of power.

From “Beyond Charity” in A Passion for the Possible: A Message to U.S. Churches by William Sloane Coffin (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Joy is exactly what's happening minus our opinion of it.
— Joko Beck quoted in Hidden Spring by Sandy Boucher

To Practice This Thought: Quit thinking about whether you are happy and just be joyful.
++++++++++ Reflections

She lived in solitude, and now in Solitude has built her nest; and in Solitude her beloved alone guides her, who also bears in solitude the wound of love.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 35.

Reading from the Desert Christians


Be strong in Me; and you, too, Andrew; just as you were the first
to find Me, you were found by me; so find the one who has
Do not forget your first skill; from it I shall educate you for
this new art.
Formerly, naked into the deep sea, now naked into life;
Formerly, hunting with a fishing-rod, now taught to fish with the
Formerly, you used a worm as bait; now I order you to hunt with My
I alone know what is in the heart.

Kontakia of St. Romanos, On the Mission of the Apostles.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Mission of the Church

There are more people on this planet outside the Church than inside it. Millions have been baptised, millions have not. Millions participate in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, but millions do not.

The Church as the body of Christ, as Christ living in the world, has a larger task than to support, nurture, and guide its own members. It is also called to be a witness for the love of God made visible in Jesus. Before his death Jesus prayed for his followers, "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18). Part of the essence of being the Church is being a living witness for Christ in the world.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of November 5, 2007

[Transcribed from an oral presentation:]

There was an old Father at Gethsemani-one of those people you get in every large community, who was regarded as sort of a funny fellow. Really he was a saint. He died a beautiful death and, after he died, everyone realized how much they loved him and admired him, even though he had consistently done all the wrong things throughout his life. He was absolutely obsessed with gardening, but he had an abbot for a long time who insisted he should do anything but gardening, on principle; it was self-will to do what you liked to do. Father Stephen, however, could not keep from gardening. He was forbidden to garden, but you would see him surreptitiously planting things. Finally, when the old abbot died and the new abbot came in, it was tacitly understood that Father Stephen was never going to do anything except gardening, and so they put him on the list of appointments as gardener, and he just gardened from morning to night. He never came to Office, never came to anything, he just dug in his garden. He put his whole life into this and everybody sort of laughed at it. But he would do very good things-for instance, your parents might come down to see you, and you would hear a rustle in the bushes as though a moose were coming down, and Father Stephen would come rushing up with a big bouquet of flowers.
  On the feast of St. Francis three years ago, he was coming in from his garden about dinner time and he went into another little garden and lay down on the ground under a tree, near a statue of Our Lady, and someone walked by and thought, "Whatever is he doing now?" and Father Stephen looked up at him and waved and lay down and died. The next day was his funeral and the birds were singing and the sun was bright and it was as though the whole of nature was right in there with Father Stephen. He didn't have to be unusual in that way: that was the way it panned out. This was a development that was frustrated, diverted into a funny little channel, but the real meaning of our life is to develop people who really love God and who radiate love, not in a sense that they feel a great deal of love, but that they simply are people full of love who keep the fire of love burning in the world. For that they have to be fully unified and fully themselves-real people.

Thomas Merton. "The Life that Unifies" in Thomas Merton in Alaska. New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1988:148-149.

Thought to Remember:

The purpose of monastic life is to create an atmosphere in which people should feel free to express their joy in reasonable ways. The final integration and unification of man in love is what we are really looking for.

Thomas Merton in Alaska: 147

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

Day Five - The First Aim of the Order

To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.

The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry, by his Cross and Resurrection, and by the sending of his Holy Spirit. The Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the of the Kingdom of God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Following God’s Guidance
November 5th, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

that what matters in my choices
is not others’ opinions
but following your guidance.

- Richard Morgan
Settling In

From page 34 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

New World Order

In order to understand the Sermon on the Mount, you must recognize that Jesus was preaching a message aimed directly at the heart of the Jewish culture he lived in. He preached a new world order.

There are many dimensions to Jesus' challenge, but Jesus' new world order is, first of all, utterly subverting the old world order. He doesn't even bother to fight it, and this is what makes the people so furious. He just ignores it. That is utterly subversive. Why would anyone try to get rich, for example? Why? It doesn't make a bit of sense once you know the real. In effect, Jesus doesn't buy into any of the values of his culture that kept people out of union. He goes for the real, the Kingdom experience. That is the heart of Matthew's Gospel. It is the experience of the Absolute that all religion is about.

from Sermon on the Mount

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

Try to make a change

Sinners have no desire to see the tribunal of the Judge. They cannot hope to be rewarded at Christ's coming with the palm of victory, but fear rather that, as their conscience bears witness, they will soon be receiving the punishment for their offenses.

Come then, whoever you may be: at least desire now in this world of time to be rid of baneful vices, and that the reign of virtue may come in you, for God is a God of virtues and not of vices. Desire to be reckoned among the number of Christ's members, so that whatever the whole body prays for may reach you, the member, provided that you have been recreated by hope, faith, and charity. Then by prayer, work, and the conduct of your life, you will be able faithfully to collaborate with both Head and members. Otherwise, although you may not desire its coming, you will nevertheless not escape this judgment, and you will receive the punishment you fear for your evil life.

Paschasius Radbertus

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


"Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." 1 Peter 4:13

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oh, I can't deal with that person. Why not? God gave you ample opportunity to soak before Him on that line, and you barged off because it seemed stupid to spend time in that way.

The sufferings of Christ are not those of ordinary men. He suffered "according to the will of God," not from the point of view we suffer from as individuals. It is only when we are related to Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. It is part of Christian culture to know what God's aim is. In the history of the Christian Church the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; men have sought to procure the carrying out of God's order by a short cut of their own. God's way is always the way of suffering, the way of the "long, long trail."

Are we partakers of Christ's sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp our personal ambitions right out? Are we prepared for God to destroy by transfiguration our individual determinations? It will not mean that we know exactly why God is taking us that way, that would make us spiritual prigs. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly; then we come to a luminous place, and say - ' 'Why, God has girded me, though I did not know it!"

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 6, July 6, November 5
Chapter 29: Whether Brethren Who Leave the Monastery Should Be Received Again

If a brother
who through his own fault leaves the monastery
should wish to return,
let him first promise full reparation for his having gone away;
and then let him be received in the lowest place,
as a test of his humility.
And if he should leave again,
let him be taken back again,
and so a third time;
but he should understand that after this
all way of return is denied him.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

site needs to be updated

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

Monday, November 5, 2007 The Martyrs
Galaktion and Epistima of Homs
Kellia: Judges 14:20-15:20 Epistle: 1 Thessalonians
2:20-3:8 Gospel: St. Luke 12:13-15, 22-31

Samson IV ~ Obedience: Judges 14:20-15:20 LXX, especially vs. 14: "The
Philistines shouted, and ran to meet him: and the Spirit of the Lord
came mightily upon him, and the ropes that were upon his arms became as
tow which is burnt with fire; and his bonds were consumed from off his
hands." Raised as a Nazirite ascetic in obedience to God (Jdgs 13:5),
Samson was designated from the womb as holy to the Lord (Jdgs. 13:7)
that he might "begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines"
(Jdgs. 13:5) as a mighty warrior. His dedication to God was evident
early, for "the Spirit of the Lord began to go out with him" (Jdgs. 13:25).
Likewise, from the time we are "born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:8), Orthodox
Christians are dedicated to the Lord as warriors to defeat five passions
hostile to obedience, named by St. Gregory of Sinai: "disobedience,
contentiousness, self-gratification, self-justification and pernicious
self-conceit." The present passage shows Samson as God's warrior
struggling outwardly against the Philistines but also within himself
against these very passions. It also reveals seven ways in which God
will assist you to be a victor like Samson, as He helps His own in every

1) God permits events to frustrate what our passions desire. Samson was
deceived and lost a bride (Jdgs. 14:19), a "wife of the uncircumcised
Philistines," but he had wrongly desired her (Jdgs. 14:3). Frustration
of the passions graciously allows us to reassess our desires.

2) When passions are frustrated, the Lord does not force us to choose
the right, but gives us the opportunity to embrace His higher way.
Samson was offered his wife's sister, but he firmly chose to follow his
life's true vocation. He attacked the Philistines, burning up their
harvest in the fields and vineyards (Jdgs. 15:3-5).

3) As we choose God's higher way, He graciously confirms our choices.
The Lord allowed the wicked Philistines to murder Samson's wife and her
family by treacherous arson, openly revealing their corruption to Samson
(vs. 6). Again, Samson accepted his mission against the Philistines
(vs. 7), and "smote them leg on thigh with a great overthrow" (vs. 8).
If you struggle to heed God's call, He will demonstrate that you have
heard correctly by giving you victory.

4) God blesses us to draw apart to be with Him in prayer and worship.
Samson "went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam" (vs. 8).
Similarly, the Lord Jesus withdrew for prayer during His ministry (Lk.
5:16), and He strengthens us as we take time apart for prayer.

5) Both during prayer and in changing circumstances, the Lord reveals
new occasions for serving Him. The Philistines invaded the territory of
the tribe of Judah, looking for Samson (Jdgs. 15:9-10). In fear of the
Philistines, the men of Judah went to Samson and convinced him to give
himself up to the Philistines (vss. 11-13). Always, remain alert to new
directions from God!

6) The Holy Spirit aids us if we are acting in faith even when
apparently overwhelmed. Bound with new ropes, but filled with the
Spirit, Samson overcame the Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass
(vss. 14-16). Similarly, the Seventy Apostles found "that even the
demons" were subject to them in Christ's Name (Lk. 10:17). Nothing can
separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38,39).

7) God supplies our spiritual and physical needs when we serve Him
faithfully. In his thirst, Samson appealed to God, Who opened the
spring at Lehi for him (Jdgs. 15:18-19). The Lord regularly extends the
Holy Gifts to us, to revive and restore our thirsting hearts.

It was thus that God enabled Samson to become a judge in Israel (vs.
20). Will the Lord not also give us more of "all things good and
profitable for our souls" as we obey Him?

O my Creator, show me to be a Tabernacle of Thy Spirit only, that every
evil deed and passion may flee from me as from fire, and show me to be a
child of the light.



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