Saturday, November 10, 2007

10/11/07 Sat, 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.

O Lord our God, grant that your Church, following the teaching of your servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from your divine Being; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and or ever.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 75, 76; PM Psalm 23, 27
Ezra 9:1-15; Rev. 17:1-14; Matt. 14:22-36

Leo the Great:
Psalm 77:11-15 or 23
2 Timothy 1:6-14; Matthew 5:13-19

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 75. We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.

Many years ago I began reading a book of meditations on a daily basis. Prior to the New Year I would search carefully for the next book to inspire me. One year I discovered a little book titled 100 Blessings Every Day by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky. The first day's reading explained that "Everyone is required to recite at least one hundred blessings a day" (Shulchan Aruch). My initial response was incredulity. How could anyone think of one hundred things at one time? And this was at least one hundred a day. One hundred was the starting point! But I gave it a try.

As an addictions counselor I talk a lot about adopting an "attitude of gratitude," and I see the positive growth in clients when they begin to practice giving thanks. I also know that what we focus on expands in our life. So I began to count and discovered that reaching one hundred isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds. I also discovered that when I give thanks for the wondrous deeds God is doing in my life, God is indeed very near.

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

Speaking to the Soul:

Leo the Great

Daily Reading for November 10 • Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461

The whole body of the faithful profess that they “believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.” By which three clauses the engines of almost all heretics are shattered. For when God is believed to be both “Almighty” and “Father,” it is proved that the Son is everlasting together with himself, differing in nothing from the Father, because he was born as “God from God,” Almighty from Almighty, Coeternal from Eternal; not later in time, not inferior in power, not unlike him in glory, not divided from him in essence, but the same Only-begotten and Everlasting Son of an Everlasting Parent who was “born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.” This birth in time in no way detracted form, in no way added to, that divine and everlasting birth; but expended itself wholly in the work of restoring man, who had been deceived; so that it might both overcome death, and by its power “destroy the devil who had the power of death.” For we could not have overcome the author of sin and of death, unless he who could neither be contaminated by sin, nor detained by death, had taken upon himself our nature, and made it his own.

From The Tome of Leo, quoted in Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Volume 1: From Its Beginnings to the Eve of the Reformation, by William C. Placher (Westminster / John Knox, 1988).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

We don't know enough to make judgments. That statement embodies the heart and soul of empathy.
— Arthur P. Ciaramicoli and Katherine Ketcham in The Power of Empathy

To Practice This Thought: Don't make snap judgments.
++++++++++ Reflections

The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word He always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence must It be heard by the soul.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love.

Reading from the Desert Christians


An old man was asked, 'How can I find God?' He said, 'In fasting,
in watching, in labours, in devotion, and, above all, in
discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without
discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing.
Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by
heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that
which God seeks: charity and humility.'

Apophthegmata Patrum

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Saints, People Like Us

Through baptism we become part of a family much larger than our biological family. It is a family of people "set apart" by God to be light in the darkness. These set-apart people are called saints. Although we tend to think about saints as holy and pious, and picture them with halos above their heads and ecstatic gazes, true saints are much more accessible. They are men and women like us, who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is their clear and unwavering focus on God and God's people. Some of their lives may look quite different, but most of their lives are remarkably similar to our own.

The saints are our brothers and sisters, calling us to become like them.

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

Day Ten - The Third Aim

To live simply

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

A New Thing
November 10th, 2007
Saturday’s Reflection

THE ONLY THING CONSTANT in our world is change. Every moment differs from the last; every instant brings something new; this is the action of a creating God, as Jeremiah tells us: “The LORD has created a new thing on the earth” (Jer. 31:22). … One great sign of God at work in the hearts and minds of a praying people, then, is that fear of change evaporates. The typical default to “No” when a need to change presents itself disappears. The community starts from the perspective of saying yes to the work of God as discerned in their midst and therefore yes to wherever God leads.

- Daniel Wolpert
Leading a Life with God

From p. 161 of Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Faith Can't Be Taught

Faith can't be taught; faith can only be caught. The environment where people are living a faith life, openly trusting God and one another, is where real faith is tossed back and forth. Children who grow up in that kind of environment where faith is being tossed around, where a faith vision is being celebrated and the invisible is taken seriously, naturally receive the gift of faith.

Real faith is too real to ignore. If a person is teaching religion without offering some faith to catch, then teaching religion is largely a waste of time. It becomes an immunization against the real thing.

from The Price of Peoplehood

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

Take pride in the title of Christian

If with faith and religious feeling you take pride in the title of Christian, value the grace of this reconciliation at its true worth. Once you were cast off, driven from paradise, dying in weary exile. Reduced to dust and ashes, you have no further hope of life; but now through the incarnation of the Word you have the power to return from afar to your Creator, to recognize your Father, to be freed from slavery, and raised from the status of a stranger to that of a child. You were born with a nature liable to decay, but now you can be reborn through the Spirit of God and obtain by grace what you lacked by nature. You need have no doubt that if you keep the terms of your engagement in the heavenly army, you will receive the victor's crown in the triumphant camp of the eternal King. You will rise again with the just to enter into the fellowship of the kingdom of heaven.

Leo the Great

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


"Fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ." 1 Thessalonians 3:2

After sanctification it is difficult to state what your aim in life is, because God has taken you up into His purpose by the Holy Ghost; He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself - God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God's use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God's interests. You can only get there by losing for ever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world, and because your goings are of the Lord, you can never understand your ways.

I have to learn that the aim in life is God's, not mine. God is using me from His great personal standpoint, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him, and never say - Lord, this gives me such heart-ache. To talk in that way makes me a clog. When I stop telling God what I want, He can catch me up for what He wants without let or hindrance. He can crumple me up or exalt me, He can do anything He chooses. He simply asks me to have implicit faith in Himself and in His goodness. Self pity is of the devil, if I go off on that line I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. I have "a world within the world" in which I live, and God will never be able to get me outside it because I am afraid of being frost-bitten.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own

This vice especially
is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots.
Let no one presume to give or receive anything
without the Abbot's leave,
or to have anything as his own --
anything whatever,
whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be --
since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills
at their own disposal;
but for all their necessities
let them look to the Father of the monastery.
And let it be unlawful to have anything
which the Abbot has not given or allowed.
Let all things be common to all,
as it is written (Acts 4:32),
and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.

But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
let him be admonished once and a second time.
If he fails to amend,
let him undergo punishment.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

There are two concerns at issue in this chapter of the Rule: the development of personal freedom and the preservation of human community. Private ownership touches both of them.

The Hasidim tell the story of the visitor who went to see a very famous rabbi and was shocked at the sparsity, the bareness, the emptiness of his little one-room house. "Why don't you have any furniture," the visitor asked. "Why don't you?" the rabbi said. "Well, because I'm only passing through," the visitor said. "Well, so am I," the rabbi answered.

On the journey to heaven, things tie us to the earth. We can't move to another city because we have a huge mortgage on the house in this one. We can't take care of a sick neighbor because we are too busy taking care of our own hedges. We go poor giving big parties in the hope for big promotions. We get beholden to the people who give big parties back. We take things and hoard things and give things to control our little worlds and the things wind up controlling us. They clutter our space; they crimp our hearts; they sour our souls. Benedict says that the answer is that we not allow ourselves to have anything beyond life's simple staples in the first place and that we not use things--not even the simplest things--to restrict the life of another by giving gifts that tie another person down. Benedictine simplicity, then, is not a deprivation. It frees us for all of life's surprises.

Simplicity is more than the key to personal freedom, however. Simplicity is also the basis of human community. Common ownership and personal dependence are the foundations of mutual respect. If I know that I literally cannot exist without you, without your work, without your support, without your efforts in our behalf, without your help, as is true in any community life, then I can not bury myself away where you and your life are unimportant to me. I cannot fail to meet your needs, as you have met my needs, when the dearth in you appeals for the gifts in me. It is my ability to respond to your needs, in fact, that is my claim, my guarantee, of your presence in my own life. In community life, we genuinely need one another. We rely on one another. Community life is based on mutual giving.

The family, the relationship that attempts to reconcile the independent and the independently wealthy, the perfectly, the totally, the smugly self-sufficient, is no community, no family, no relationship at all. Why stay and work a problem out with people when you can simply leave them? And never notice that they're gone.

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

Saturday, November 10, 2007
Great Martyr Orestes of Cappadocia
Kellia: Judges 18:14-31 Epistle: 2 Corinthians
11:1-6 Gospel: St. Luke 9:37-43

Anomie III - Denouement: Judges 18:14-31 LXX, especially vs. 27: "And
the children of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest that he
had, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they
smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire."
When the strands of the social order unravel, lawlessness prevails, the
bonds uniting humanity shred, and every form of sin and depravity are
unleashed. It is the hard, predictable reality of anomie, which the
present reading reveals in a graphic account of theft, ingratitude, and
savagery. Beloved of the Lord, bear in mind that the marauders in this
account were a tribe of the People of God. Their heritage included
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua, the Law of God, the Covenant
given at Sinai, the abundant promises of God, and the gift of freedom.
How quickly even the blessed of the Lord can descend into barbarism and
rapine! Lord save us!

The blessed Gospel, when its truth is embraced, is a pearl of great
price (Mt. 13:46), for it has the power to snatch us back from the
precipice of anomie and the plunge down into self-destruction and
inhumanity. The word of God, when it is welcome, alive, and active in
our hearts, as the Apostle teaches, is "sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and
marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb.
4:12). Read this account and pray that the word of the Gospel will
pierce your soul, unmask "the thoughts and intentions" of your heart,
chasten, purify, control, and adorn you.

"The five men who had gone to spy out the land went up, and entered and
took the graven image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image,
while the priest stood by...." (Jdg. 18:17). The five, who earlier had
received hospitality, stole Micah's valuables, and the priest, who might
have called to their hearts to the saving Law of the Lord, became their
accomplice. St. John of the Ladder comments on the famous observation
of the Apostle that the love of money is the root of all evils (1 Tim
6:10), "because," he says, "it produces hatred, thefts, envy,
separations, enmities, storms, remembrance of wrong, hard-heartedness,
murders." Which of these products is not found in this brief account?
Beloved, two things can save us from such perverted love: "a taste of
God and concern for the account to be given at death."

The five men said to the priest, "Be silent, lay thine hand upon thy
mouth, and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it
better for thee to be the priest of the house of one man, or to be the
priest of a tribe and house for a family of Israel? And the heart of
the priest was glad, and he took the ephod and the teraphim, and the
graven image and the molten image, and went in the midst of the people"
(Jdg. 18:19,20). What ingratitude! He had been fed, housed, welcomed,
and provided for in every way by Micah, yet with a single word he left
with those robbing his host. The antidote for such moral sickness is
plain. In the words of St. Theophan the Recluse: "remind yourself
often, that [God] has granted you many favors in the past and has shown
you His love. He has created you out of nothing in His own likeness and
image....He has delivered you from your slavery to the devil, sending
down...His only-begotten Son to redeem you. Having done all this He
protects you, every hour and every moment, from your enemies."

The tendency to violence is in us all, having roots in our anger and
self-will (Mt. 5:21-26). To help you defeat anger in your heart, the
Lord Jesus reveals the beatitude: "Blessed are the merciful" (Mt. 5:7)
St. Gregory of Nyssa adds: " If, therefore, the term 'merciful' is
suited to God what else does the Word invite you to become but God?"
May He so help us all!

O Lord, direct our hearts and wills toward what is good and the love of
virtue, so that in our ignorance of the good and our obsession with
passion we not be carried headlong into sin.



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