Tuesday, November 13, 2007

12/13/07 Tues, 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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 78:1-39; PM Psalm 78:40-72
Neh. 9:26-38; Rev. 18:9-20; Matt. 15:21-28

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 78:1-39. But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him, and they were not faithful to his covenant.

God has made several covenants with his people. A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties in which each party makes promises. The rainbow is a sign of the covenant God made with Noah, and to this day circumcision is a sign of God's covenant with Abraham. Then God made a covenant with Moses and the Israelites. Christians enter into a covenant at baptism, and we consider marriage to be a covenant established by God. As children we make promises to our closest friends: "I'll be your friend forever and tell you all my secrets." Sometimes we keep our promises and sometimes we don't. Sometimes our hearts are not steadfast.

I believe most of us are well-intentioned most of the time. However, too many of us get busy, and our priorities get confused. We may fail to remember or may rationalize our failure to keep covenants that we have made. Let us take time to review those covenants and renew our commitment to keeping them. May we learn to be faithful as God is faithful.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Venezuela (Prov. IX, United States)

Speaking to the Soul:

Holiness is our only option

Daily Reading for November 13

No nation is well served by illusions of its righteousness. All nations make decisions based on self-interest and then defend them in the name of morality. Saint Augustine gave excellent advice not only to individuals but to nations as well when he said, “Never fight evil as if it were something that arose totally outside of yourself.” He was reflecting Saint Paul’s “all have sinned and fallen short.” It is tempting, of course, to believe that some have sinned—for example, “that evil empire”—or that “most have sinned, but not us.” Paul’s insistence, however, that all have sinned makes an important point: if we are not one with our enemies in love, at least we are one with them in sin, which is no mean bond, for it precludes the possibility of separation through judgment. That is the meaning of the injunction “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Innocence may be beguiling in children, but it is spiritually disastrous in adults, who ought to know that in the sullied stream of human life it is not innocence but holiness that is our only option. As with individuals, so with nations, their salvation lies not in being sinless but in believing that there is more mercy in God than sin in us.

From “Beyond War” 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

Every time a child is born into this world it comes bearing a message of joy. And this is the message: God is not discouraged!
— Rabindranath Tagore quoted in Behold Your Life by Macrina Wiederkehr

To Practice This Thought: Greet a child, knowing that the or she is a messenger of hope.
++++++++++ Reflections

The soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, I.1

Reading from the Desert Christians


Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but
stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who
guards you will honour your patience.

St. John of the Ladder

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Heart As Wide As the World

The awareness of being part of the communion of saints makes our hearts as wide as the world. The love with which we love is not just our love; it is the love of Jesus and his saints living in us. When the Spirit of Jesus lives in our hearts, all who have lived their lives in that Spirit live there too. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; our teachers and their teachers; our pastors and their pastors; our spiritual guides and theirs - all the holy men and women who form that long line of love through history - are part of our hearts, where the Spirit of Jesus chooses to dwell.

The communion of saints is not just a network of connections between people. It is first and foremost the community of our hearts.

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

Day Thirteen - The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual's service varies according to his/her abilities and circumstances, yet the member's personal rule of life includes each of the three ways.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Take a Chance on Life
November 13th, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

WHEN YOU GOT UP this morning, you had no idea what the day would bring. But you probably chose to take a chance on it and not go back to bed. God invites us to take a chance on life too, without knowing where God’s guidance will lead us. To the extent that we can say “Yes,” we will discover the next step along the way. To the extent that we hold back, we will get stuck where we are, until we are ready to move on again. How do you feel about the response you want to make to God in the light of the challenges today will bring?

Prayer: Lord, I can’t see the bright sunlight of your leading because my eyes are focused on the little candle of my own thinking. Blow out the candle if you must, and give me the grace to see your light in my darkness. Amen.

- Margaret Silf
Lighted Windows: Advent Reflections for a World in Waiting

From p. 15 of Lighted Windows: Advent Reflections for a World in Waiting by Margaret Silf. Copyright © 2004 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Happy Are Those Who Thirst for Justice

Happy are those who hunger and thirst for justice. They shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

Most Bibles to this day will soften the word justice into "what is right," or righteousness. Those have a kind of "religious" feeling. But the word in Greek is clearly justice. This Beatitude is set right at the midpoint and the word justice appears again at the end. It could be seen as a couplet saying, This is the full point. To live a just life in this world is to live a life identified with the little ones. As much as Matthew tries, in vain, to soften it for his middle-class audience, it's still radical, revolutionary and most extraordinary.

What Jesus is saying is, Make sure you're not satisfied. Keep yourself in a state of dissatisfaction. Contemplation and voluntary simplicity bring us to that state. Real prayer stirs holy desire (as do deprivation and injustice, when we take them to prayer). The unconscious bubbles up, and you find out what you really desire. (It isn't a new set of clothes, although if you move too quickly you really think it is.) Stay with it longer—a new set of clothes is not going to do it! What you really desire is always God. The sad thing about those who try to avoid that state of longing and thirsting is that they can never be satisfied. Wealth never sees enough wealth; justice is satisfied with justice.

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.

The persecuted Church

Christ sends the Holy Spirit upon the believers as they are all gathered together in one place, waiting with expectant longing for the promised gift. And as soon as they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to speak in the language of every nation, to refute errors boldly, to preach the saving truth of the gospel, to urge men and women to repent of their former sinful lives, and to promise them the grace of God's forgiveness. Their proclamation for the true religion and of God's loving kindness is confirmed by signs and wonders. Unbelievers stir up cruel persecution against them. They endure what they have been warned to expect, they hope for what they have been promised, and they teach what they have been commanded. Few in number, they are no sooner dispersed throughout the world than they convert whole peoples with marvelous ease; in the midst of their enemies they grow in strength. Persecution multiples them; no suffering, no trial can hinder them from spreading to the very ends of the earth. Once a despised handful of ignorant people, they become a noble company of enlightened teachers, brilliantly gifted and of polished speech, who press into Christ's service for the preaching of the gospel all the skill and experience of the wise, the eloquent, and the learned.

Augustine of Hippo

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


"The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

We have to battle through our moods into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus, to get out of the hole-and-corner business of our experience into abandoned devotion to Him. Think Who the New Testament says that Jesus Christ is, and then think of the despicable meanness of the miserable faith we have - I haven't had this and that experience! Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims - that He can present us faultless before the throne of God, unutterably pure, absolutely rectified and profoundly justified. Stand in implicit adoring faith in Him, He is made unto us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." How can we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! Our salvation is from hell and perdition, and then we talk about making sacrifices!

We have to get out into faith in Jesus Christ continually; not a prayer meeting Jesus Christ, nor a book Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ, Who is God Incarnate, and Who ought to strike us to His feet as dead. Our faith must be in the One from Whom our experience springs. Jesus Christ wants our absolute abandon of devotion to Himself. We never can experience Jesus Christ, nor ever hold Him within the compass of our own hearts, but our faith must be built in strong emphatic confidence in Him.

It is along this line that we see the rugged impatience of the Holy Ghost against unbelief. All our fears are wicked, and we fear because we will not nourish ourselves in our faith. How can any one who is identified with Jesus Christ suffer from doubt or fear! It ought to be an absolute pæan of perfectly irrepressible, triumphant belief.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 14, July 14, November 13
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen

An hour before the meal
let the weekly servers each receive a drink and some bread
over and above the appointed allowance,
in order that at the meal time they may serve their brethren
without murmuring and without excessive fatigue.
On solemn days, however, let them wait until after Mass.

Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday,
the incoming and outgoing servers
shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren in the oratory
and ask their prayers.
Let the server who is ending his week say this verse:
"Blessed are You, O Lord God,
who have helped me and consoled me."
When this has been said three times
and the outgoing server has received his blessing,
then let the incoming server follow and say,
"Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me."
Let this also be repeated three times by all,
and having received his blessing
let him enter his service.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Work done in the Benedictine tradition is supposed to be regular, it is supposed to be productive, it is supposed to be worthwhile but it is not supposed to be impossible. Give help where it is needed, the Rule says. Give whatever it takes to make it possible, the Rule says. Give people whatever they need to do it without grumbling. The servers are to serve, not starve. They are to eat before the others so that they don't wind up resenting the fact that others are eating and become bitter or reluctant in their service. It is a salutary and sobering thought in an age that exploits the poor and the illiterate with impunity for the sake of the comfort of the rich, paying workers too little to live on and working them too hard to live, and then calling it "working your way up" or the "plight" of the unskilled laborer.

|Benedictine spirituality does not set out to burden some for the sake of the others in the name of community. It sets out to make work possible for all so that the community can thrive in joy. Any group, any family, that makes life wonderful for some of its members at the expense of the others, no matter how good the work or how satisfied the group, is not operating in a Benedictine spirituality. It is, at best, simply dealing in some kind of holy exploitation, but it is exploitation nevertheless.

In "The Sayings of the Jewish Fathers" it is written: "It is wise to work as well as to study the Torah: between the two you will forget to sin." To make sure we do not forget that humble work is as sacred and sanctifying as prayer, Benedict blesses the kitchen servers of the week in the middle of the chapel. With that simple but powerful gesture all of life begins to look different for everyone. Suddenly it is not made up of "higher" and "lower" activities anymore. It is all--manual labor and mystical meditation--one straight beam of light on the road to fullness of humanity. One activity without the other, prayer without the creative and compassionate potential of work or work without the transcending quality of prayer, lists heavily to the empty side of life. The blessing prayer for the weekly servers in the midst of the community not only ordains the monastic to serve the community but it also brings together both dimensions of life, the transcendent and the transforming, in one clear arc: Prayer is not for its own sake and the world of manual work is not a lesser world than chapel.

We are all meant both to pray and work, each of them influencing and fulfilling the other.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 Repose of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of
Kellia: Judges 19:22-28 Epistle: Hebrews
7:26-8:3 Gospel: St. John 10:9-16

Hospitality ~ Violated: Judges 19:22-28 LXX, especially vs. 22: "And
they [the old man and his guests] were comforting their hearts, when
behold, the men of the city, sons of transgressors, compassed the house,
knocking at the door; and they spoke to the old man the owner of the
house, saying, 'Bring out the man who came into thy house, that we may
know him.'" In Terrorism: The Ritual of the Devil, the Islamic writer,
Harun Yahya, observes what the Holy Fathers teach: "the
often behind certain events which impel human societies into disaster
and which cause harm to the innocent." Was the grizzly instance of
violated hospitality recorded in the Book of Judges anything less than a
work of Satan? Only those who have given their lives over to the enemy
will even consider the sort of acts the men of Gibeah carried out.

What light does God shed in our hearts through this record of
despicable events? First is the knowledge that the revulsion and grief
that arises in us as we read of blatant evil is ours by the grace of God
through Whom "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). Second, our
Lord is kindly warning us to turn away immediately from the slightest
hint of depravity in ourselves, for He knows well the weakness of our
flesh before the lure of the evil one. Being the only Lover of mankind,
He would save us from maniacal corruption. Third, the Lord contrasts
the beauty and warmth of genuine hospitality with a most terrifying
account of violated hospitality so that we may expect sudden reversals
in this life and receive whatever happens with peace of heart and soul,
knowing that even the worst comes to us by Divine permission.

Horror and repugnance are healthy responses to unbounded depredation.
If a hostage is beheaded by a fanatic, then the grief, loathing, and
anger are God-given. They are evidence of His grace at work in us.
However, if we couple the revulsion, which God in His grace places in
our hearts with hatred toward the killers, then we spoil and waste the
grace that enables us to detest evil. If we are proud that "we never
would participate in violent acts of savagery," then let us reconsider
and confess our sin of pride to God and acknowledge the weakness of our
flesh that could allow us to join in some vicious mob action. The gift
of the "mind of Christ" is just that - a gift from God to keep us far
from terrible impulses and actions engendered by Satan.

Consider St. Paul, a proponent of laboring to attain "love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control" (Gal 5:22-23), yet he calls himself "chief" among sinners
(1 Tim. 1:15). Are we better than the great Apostle? It is fearful to
face your own capacity for barbarity, yet blessed are you when you
encounter the power of evil, repent of your readiness to take up "the
first stone" (Jn 8:7), and seek Christ our God for help.

Pray for the grace of God that you may sustain unceasing watchfulness
over your heart, reject every suggestion of the Devil to indulge your
passions, and keep far from every sin. The old man who provided
hospitality to the innocent travelers was ready even to offer his virgin
daughter, but the Levite made a terrible choice to save the maiden by
"[laying] hold of his concubine, and [bringing] her out" to the crazed
mob of Gibeah (Jdgs 19:25). Both the old man and the Levite respected
the sacred and inviolable character of hospitality.

Finally, be ever aware of how quickly delight and good times may be
shattered and hurled away - consider the story of Job. The comfort of
heart enjoyed by those in the old man's home rudely ended by the demands
of the men at the door demanding to "know" the stranger (vs. 22). At
all times, as Metropolitan Philaret teaches, especially when reversals
intrude, pray to God: "teach us to treat all that comes to us throughout
the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Thy will
governs all."



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