Monday, November 12, 2007

12/11/07 Mon, 24th week after pentecost, Charles Simeon


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.


O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O loving God, who order all things by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 80; PM Psalm 77, [79]
Neh. 9:1-15(16-25); Rev. 18:1-8; Matt. 15:1-20

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 80. Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

The psalms are reassuring to me because they are filled with prayers beseeching God for help, expressed with real human emotions. They make me feel comfortable with my own feelings and less lonely in my need for help and restoration. We pray for help for ourselves and for the well being of those whom we love.

The second step of Alcoholics Anonymous and all other twelve-step programs is "We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." One of the synonyms for restore is resurrect, bring back to life. Jesus resurrected Lazarus from death, restored sight to the blind, and healed those who were ill. The light of God's countenance is still restoring us to health and hope and happiness.

Today we remember:

Charles Simeon:
Psalm 145:8-13 or 96:1-7
Romans 10:8b-17; John 21:15-17

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Vellor (South India)

Speaking to the Soul:

Charles Simeon

Daily Reading for November 12 • Charles Simeon, priest, 1836

Merely speculative knowledge is of little avail: it is only like the light of the moon, which dissipates obscurity indeed, but communicates neither heat nor strength. The knowledge which alone will augment our love, is that which produces suitable impression on the mind; it is that which, like the sun-beam, enlivens and invigorates our whole frame. Now there is a great difference, even amongst good men, with respect to their perception of divine truths. There is, if we may use the expression, a spiritual taste, which is acquired and heightened by exercise. As, in reference to the objects of sense, there is an exquisite ‘judgment’ attained by some, so that their eye, their ear, and their palate can discern excellencies or defects, where others, with less discriminating organs, perceive nothing particular; so is there, in reference to spiritual things, an exquisite sensibility in some persons, whereby their enjoyment of divine truth is wonderfully enhanced. Now this is the knowledge which we should aspire after, and in which our love should progressively abound. We should not be satisfied with that speculative knowledge which may be gained from men and books; but should seek that spiritual discernment, which nothing but the operation of the Spirit of God upon the soul can produce. Whatever be the particular objects of our regard, we should get a realizing sense of their excellency, and be duly impressed with their importance.

From “Discourses Digested into one continued Series” by Charles Simeon, quoted in Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness, compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson, and Rowan Williams (Oxford, 2001).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

In the days of duels with pistols, the antagonists stood sideways as they raised and aimed their pistols to present as little a target as possible. When you contribute to your adversary's ability to hurt you by acting in ways that present a broad target, you are not only hurting yourself but also your adversary to bring out the worst in herself.
— Lewis Richmond in Work as a Spiritual Practice

To Practice This Thought: Be a small target.
++++++++++ Reflections

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is
not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross
of Christ.

St. Mark the Ascetic

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

In Memory of Jesus and the Saints

Belonging to the communion of saints means being connected with all people transformed by the Spirit of Jesus. This connection is deep and intimate. Those who have lived as brothers and sisters of Jesus continue to live within us, even though they have died, just as Jesus continues to live within us, even though he has died.

We live our lives in memory of Jesus and the saints, and this memory is a real presence. Jesus and his saints are part of our most intimate and spiritual knowledge of God. They inspire us, guide us, encourage us, and give us hope. They are the source of our constant transformation. Yes, we carry them in our bodies and thus keep them alive for all with whom we live and work.

The Merton Reflection for the Week of November 12, 2007

[For those who enjoyed Merton's reflection on Father Stephen, Gethsemani's monk of flowers, that appeared last week, November 5th, here is Merton's poem written after Stephen's burial:]


Maybe the martyrology until today
Has found not fitting word to describe you
Confessor of exotic roses
Martyr of unbelievable gardens

Whom we will always remember
As a tender-hearted careworn
Generous unsteady cliff
Lurching in the cloister
Like a friendly freight train
To some uncertain station

Master of the sudden enthusiastic gift
In an avalanche
Of flower catalogues
And boundless love.

Sometimes a little dangerous at corners
Vainly trying to smuggle
Some enormous and perfect bouquet
To a side altar
In the sleeves of your cowl

In the dark before dawn
On the day of your burial
A big truck with lights
Moved like a battle cruiser
Toward the gate
Past your abandoned and silent garden

The brief glare
Lit up the grottos, pyramids and presences
One by one
Then the gate swung red
And clattered shut in the giant lights
And everything was gone

As if Leviathan
Hot on the scent of some other blood
Had passed you by
And never saw you hiding in the flowers.

Thomas Merton. The Collected Poem of Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions, Inc., 1977: 631- 632.

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

Day Twelve - The Third Aim, cont'd

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependents. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus' challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

A Quiet Soul
November 12th, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

THERE ARE TIMES when, tired from our travels, we experience that the Lord calms our faculties and quiets the soul. … And to those to whom He gives here below the kingdom we ask for, He gives pledges so that through these they may have great hope of going to enjoy perpetually what here on earth is given only in sips.

- Teresa of Avila
The Soul’s Passion for God

From p. 37 of The Soul’s Passion for God: Selected Writings of Teresa of Avila edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1997 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Happy Are Those Who Weep

Happy are those who weep. They shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:5),

On the men's retreats now we speak of "grief work." A very different kind of work for men! There is undoubtedly a therapeutic, healing meaning to tears. Is not weeping, in fact, necessary? To understand? To let go? To enter in? But Jesus is also describing the state of those who have something to weep about, who feel the pain of the world. He's saying, those who can grieve, who can cry, are those who will give comfort and compassion to the world.

The Syrian Fathers Ephraem and Simeon understood tears. The Greek Fathers of the Church tended to filter the gospel through the head. The Syrians, like today's feminist theologians, find the gospel much more localized in the body. The Syrian Fathers wanted tears, in effect, to be a sacrament in the Church. And St. Ephraem goes so far as to say, "Until you have cried, you don't know God." How different! We think we know God through ideas! But this is body theology: Weeping, wiping away the tears (Luke 7:38), anointing bodies for death (Mark 14: 3–9), perhaps will allow you to know God much better than concepts and orthodox formulas.

Jesus claims the weeping class: the forgotten, the voiceless, the rejected will understand, he seems to say.

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.

eeking the lost sheep

Christ came into the world to look for the lost sheep, and he found it in the Virgin's womb. He came in the body assumed at his human birth, and raising that body on the cross, he placed the lost sheep on his own shoulders by his passion. Then in the intense joy of the resurrection he brought it to its heavenly home. And he called his friends and neighbors, that is the angels, and said to them: Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost.

The angels joined Christ in gladness and rejoicing at the return of the Lord's sheep. They did not take it amiss that he now reigned over them upon the throne of majesty, for the sin of envy had long since been banished from heaven together with the devil, and it could not gain entry there again through the Lamb who took away the sin of the world!

Brothers and sisters, Christ sought us on earth; let us seek him in heaven. He has borne us up to the glory of his divinity; let us bear him in our bodies by holiness. As the apostle says: Glorify and bear God in your bodies. That person bears God in his body whose bodily activities are free from sin.

Peter Chrysologus

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


"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

What idea have you of the salvation of your soul? The experience of salvation means that in your actual life things are really altered, you no longer look at things as you used to; your desires are new, old things have lost their power. One of the touchstones of experience is - Has God altered the thing that matters? If you still hanker after the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above, you are juggling with yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the alteration manifest in your actual life and reasoning, and when the crisis comes you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing alteration that is the evidence that you are a saved soul.

What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I have to shuffle? The salvation that is worked out in me by the Holy Ghost emancipates me entirely, and as long as I walk in the light as God is in the light, He sees nothing to censure because His life is working out in every particular, not to my consciousness, but deeper than my consciousness.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 13, July 13, November 12
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

Let the brethren serve one another,
and let no one be excused from the kitchen service
except by reason of sickness
or occupation in some important work.
For this service brings increase of reward and of charity.
But let helpers be provided for the weak ones,
that they may not be distressed by this work;
and indeed let everyone have help,
as required by the size of the community
or the circumstances of the locality.
If the community is a large one,
the cellarer shall be excused from the kitchen service;
and so also those whose occupations are of greater utility,
as we said above.
Let the rest serve one another in charity.

The one who is ending his week of service
shall do the cleaning on Saturday.
He shall wash the towels
with which the brethren wipe their hands and feet;
and this server who is ending his week,
aided by the one who is about to begin,
shall wash the feet of all the brethren.
He shall return the utensils of his office to the cellarer
clean and in good condition,
and the cellarer in turn shall consign them to the incoming server,
in order that he may know
what he gives out and what he receives back.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Benedict leaves very little to the imagination or fancy of the spiritually pretentious who know everything there is to know about spiritual theory and think that is enough. Benedict says that the spiritual life is not simply what we think about; it is what we do because of what we think. It is possible, in fact, to spend our whole lives thinking about the spiritual life and never develop one. We can study church history forever and never become holier for the doing. There are theology courses all over the world that have nothing whatsoever to do with the spiritual life. In the same way, we may think we are a community or assume we are a family but if we do not serve one another we are, at best, a collection of people who live alone together.

So, Benedict chooses the family meal to demonstrate that point of life where the Eucharist becomes alive for us outside of chapel. It is in kitchen service that we prepare good things for the ones we love, and sustain them and clean up after them. It was woman's work and Roman men were told to do it so that they, too, with their own hands and over their own hot fires could know what it takes to spend their own lives to give life to the other.

Community love and accountability are focused, demonstrated and modeled at the community meal. In every other thing we do, more private in scope, more personal in process, our private agendas so easily nibble away at the transcendent purpose of the work that there is often little left of the philosophical meaning of the task except our own translation of it. In the Middle Ages, the tale goes, a traveler asked three hard-at-work stone masons what they were doing. The first said, "I am sanding down this block of marble." The second said, "I am preparing a foundation." The third said, "I am building a Cathedral." Remembering the greater cause of why we are doing what we do is one of life's more demanding difficulties. But that's not the case in a kitchen, or in a dining room that is shaped around the icon of the Last Supper where the One who is first washes the feet of the ones who are to follow. "Do you know what I have just done," the Scripture reads. "As I have done, so you must do."

In Benedict's dining room, where everyone serves and everyone washes feet and everyone returns the utensils clean and intact for the next person's use, love and accountability become the fulcrum of community life.

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

Monday, November 12, 2007 John the
Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria
Kellia: Judges 19:10-21 Epistle: 2 Thessalonians
1:1-10 Gospel: St. Luke 14:12-15

Hospitality ~ Irony and Providence: Judges 19:10-21 LXX, especially vs.
12: "And his master said to him, 'We will not turn aside to a strange
city , where there is not one of the children of Israel, but we will
pass on as far as Gibeah.'" The first portion of the account of the
wayfaring Levite is a record of true, loving hospitality (Jdgs 19:1-9).
Then the traveler decided, against his father-in-law's counsel, not to
spend another night enjoying the protection and cordiality of his wife's
father in Bethlehem, at which point shadows gathered over his journey.

The traveling group made only six miles when advancing night became
apparent even to the young servant who suggested that they resort to the
available refuge providentially at hand - the city of Jebus. The
Levite, with all apparent wisdom, chose rather to press on to an
Israelite settlement - either Gibeah or Ramah; for he distrusted the
prospect of lodging among idolaters. By the time the travelers covered
the short distance from Jebus to Gibeah, total nightfall forced them to
stop; yet, ironically, among their own, no one offered hospitality. The
natural fall of darkness was matched by a surprising unnatural social
darkness. Just then, ironically, an old man from the Levite's homeland
took them in and cared for all their needs.

The mix of irony and providence is something that we human beings
experience in this present existence. Sometimes we find that people or
events oppose whatever we seek to do, but other times matters seem to
come together so as to promote our accomplishments and progress. At some
junctures, we find that we are able to perceive the hand of God in the
turn of events or in providential coincidences. What do we make of
times that seem to show that God has withdrawn His protective hand from
our very best choices and efforts? How do we proceed when there are no
certain indications of the best path, of the God-pleasing way ahead?
First, consider the community in which you find yourself. Realize that
increasingly the communities of the contemporary world are best
described as "pluralistic." Their members are diverse in ethnic,
racial, religious, and social backgrounds, each with special interests
and values - all melded together in larger complex civilizations. Such
diversity marks the majority of world's nation-states whose boundaries
often were arbitrarily set by fortuitous events or accidents of
history. This certainly was true of Palestine in the age of the Judges,
a land in which the twelve tribes of Israel were scattered among a
number of pagan Canaanite peoples. For the Levite to seek for shelter
among Israelites of the tribe of Benjamin was by all appearances the
best plan, far better than risking himself and his companions among
Jebusites, a community of practicing idolaters who knew not the Law of God.

Second, as a thoughtful, God-fearing person, never forget that all human
beings are fallen, wounded by sin and death, and liable to wrong-doing
despite the teachings of their family, tribe, and Faith. It is possible
to receive God-pleasing treatment among foreigners and to fare ill at
the hands of those of our own Faith and kind. The poor Levite and his
companions discovered that the people of Benjamin did not even maintain
the barest regard for hospitality.

When seeking your way ahead, if you call yourself a Christian, then do
not put final trust in man, but in God alone . As the Prophet David
declares: "in God have I put my hope, I will not fear what man shall do
unto me" (Ps. 55:10 LXX). It is reasonable to realize what man can do!
Men do terrible things! However, always trust God while remaining
thoughtful concerning trust in others, for trust in God has eternal
consequences, even if men may shun, abuse, or kill you.

My God is my helper, and I will hope in Him, my defender, and the horn
of my salvation, and my helper. With praise will I call upon the Name
of the Lord. (Ps. 17:2,3 LXX).

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home