Monday, November 19, 2007

19/11/07 Mon 5th 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.


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, by your grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 89:1-18; PM Psalm 89:19-52
1 Macc. 3:1-24; Rev. 20:7-15; Matt. 17:1-13

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 89:1-18. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; love and truth go before your face.

The path that leads to Yad Vashem, the memorial in Jerusalem to the six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust, is lined with trees. Plaques beside the trees commemorate non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. Oskar Schindler's name is there.

The path is called the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. I wept as I walked along it. In the midst of horrific evil, goodness was not entirely overcome, and I was deeply touched that this goodness was honored on the path that leads to the entrance of the museum and the experience of seeing heartrending displays of the horror of the Holocaust.

The history of the 21,758 persons honored as "righteous among the nations" is also exhibited at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. They were not paragons of virtue, nor were they persons of power, prestige, or privilege. They were simply ordinary people who became extraordinary by taking dangerous risks and fulfilling the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Today we remember:

Elizabeth of Hungary:
Psalm 146:4-9 or 112:1-9
Tobit 12:6b-9; Matthew 25:31-40 or Luke 12:32-34

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Waikato (New Zealand)

Speaking to the Soul:

Blessed poverty

Daily Reading for November 19 • Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, 1231

O blessed poverty,
who bestows eternal riches
on those who love and embrace her!

O holy poverty,
to those who possess and desire you
God promises the Kingdom of Heaven
and offers, indeed, eternal glory and blessed life!

O God-centered poverty,
whom the Lord Jesus Christ
Who ruled and now rules heaven and earth,
Who spoke and things were made,
condescended to embrace before all else!

From the letter of St. Clare of Assisi to Agnes of Prague, quoted in Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, edited by John R. Tyson (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

In a Buddhist monastery, monks treat the guideline of not taking what is not given with utmost seriousness. Monks do not take the razor, book, robe, or begging bowl of another monk without securing permission first. It is a discipline in letting go, in patience, and in waiting for something to be available.
— Christopher Titmuss in Light on Enlightenment

To Practice This Thought: Be careful not to take what is not given to you. Observe the effect of this practice on your ability to be patient.
++++++++++ Reflections

Those who are able to shut themselves up within this little heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of heaven and earth, may be sure that they will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way 20.5

Reading from the Desert Christians


Humility is the only thing we need; one can still fall having
virtues other than humility -- but with humility one does not

Elder Herman of Mt. Athos

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Active Waiting

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

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

Day Nineteen - The Third Way of Service - Work

Jesus took on himself the form of a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He went about doing good: healing the sick, preaching good news to the poor, and binding up the broken hearted.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

In the Spirit of Love
November 19th, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

CONTEMPLATION IS nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love.

- John of the Cross
Loving God Through the Darkness

From p. 62 of Loving God Through the Darkness: Selected Writings of John of the Cross, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 2000 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up onto the mountain by himself to pray. (Matthew 14:22–23, NAB) Some may think that this was a waste of time. Jesus could have been out healing lepers. There were many sick in Israel. What kind of messiah is this? He spends the whole day out there praying to his Father. Yet Matthew is trying to tell us about the deeper wisdom.

Where is the source of your power? What is the basis for power? It's union with God, not doing good things. So often we make the basis for ministry professionalism and "up-to-date-ism" instead of chosen union. Never will there be any basis for fruitful Christianity except sanctity. Leon Bloy said it well: "There is only one sadness in life, only one—not to be a saint."

from The Great Themes of Scripture

The Merton Reflection for the Week of November 19, 2007

When psalms surprise me with their music
And antiphons turn to rum
The Spirit sings; the bottom drops out of my soul.

And from the center of my cellar, Love,
louder than thunder
Opens a heaven of naked air.

New eyes awaken.

I send Love's name into the world with wings
And songs grow up around me like a jungle.
Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes
Your Spirit played in Eden.

Thomas Merton. [Selection from] "Psalm" in The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions Publishing Co., 1977: 220-221.

Thought to Remember:

[G]o out from yourself with all that one is, which is nothing, and pour out that nothingness in gratitude that God is who He is.

Thomas Merton. Dancing in the Water of Life. Journals, Volume 5. Rebert E. Daggy, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso, 1997: 178

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

Reflect on the virtues which Christ taught us

The humility with which Christ emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave, and with which he scorned the glory of the world, and willed to be born, not in a palace but in a stable, and to die ignominiously on a gibbet — that humility is for us a light showing us what a detestable crime it is for clay, that is to say, for poor weak creatures, to be proud, to exalt themselves, or to refuse submission, when the infinite God was humbled, despised, and subject to human beings.

The meekness with which Christ endured hunger, thirst, cold, harsh words, lashes, and wounds, when he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before his shearer opened not his mouth — that meekness is for us a light. By it we see how useless it is to be angry, how useless to threaten. By it we accept our own suffering, and do not serve Christ merely from routine. By it we learn how much is required of us, and that when suffering comes our way we should bewail our sins in silent submission, since he endured affliction with such patience and long-suffering, not for his own sins, but for ours.

Reflect then, beloved, on all the virtues which Christ taught us by his example, which he recommends by his counsel, and which he enables us to imitate by the assistance of his grace.

John Justus Landsberg

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


"And when He is come, He will convict the world of sin. . . ." John 16:8 (R.V.)

Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin; we know the experience of being disturbed because of having done wrong things; but conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost blots out every relationship on earth and leaves one relationship only - "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned!" When a man is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every power of his conscience that God dare not forgive him; if God did forgive him, the man would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the rending of His heart in the Death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the Divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. When we have been convicted of sin we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary, and nothing less; the love of God is spelt on the Cross and nowhere else. The only ground on which God can forgive me is through the Cross of my Lord. There, His conscience is satisfied.

Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven (no man would accept forgiveness on such a level); forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ. The miracle of Redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One, by putting into me a new disposition, the disposition of Jesus Christ.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 20, July 20, November 19
Chapter 41: At What Hours the Meals Should Be Taken

From holy Easter until Pentecost
let the brothers take dinner at the sixth hour
and supper in the evening.

From Pentecost throughout the summer,
unless the monks have work in the fields
let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour;
on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour.
This dinner at the sixth hour shall be the daily schedule
if they have work in the fields
or the heat of summer is extreme;
the Abbot's foresight shall decide on this.

Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.

From the Ides of September until the beginning of Lent
let them always take their dinner at the ninth hour.

In Lent until Easter let them dine in the evening.
But this evening hour shall be so determined
that they will not need the light of a lamp while eating,
Indeed at all seasons
let the hour, whether for supper or for dinner, be so arranged
that everything will be done by daylight.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The Rule of Benedict divides the year's meal schedules into four parts. From Easter to Pentecost there are no fast days and the meals are taken at noon and before sundown. After Pentecost, Wednesdays and Fridays are fast days, as they were for all Christians of the period, and the meal, probably the only meal of the day was to be delayed, the Rule mandates, until about three o'clock. But the law is no sooner made until Benedictine spirituality raises its fresh and liberating head again and softens the prescription with "unless." Unless it would be too hard to do. Unless they are too tired to wait. Unless the day is too hot to add one more difficulty to it. Then, the abbot or prioress and only the abbot or prioress may decide to mitigate the Rule, to change the law, to allow the relaxation. And that is the issue. It is the abbot or prioress who decides what the change will be, not the individual monastic. Life, in other words, is not of our own choosing. The vagaries of life are not under our control. Circumstances change things and real spirituality demands that we be prepared at all times to accept them with faith and hope.

It isn't that Benedictine spirituality is meant to be lax, it is that it is meant to be sensible and it is meant to be serene. What is the use of making up difficulties when all we really have to do in life is to learn to bear well what must, under any circumstances, be borne.

The third period of the year, from September 13 to Ash Wednesday, was the period known as "the monastic Lent." Here, Benedictine spirituality called for a measure above and beyond the norm. To do simply what was required was not enough. Benedictine spirituality called for extra effort in the development of the spiritual life. It is an interesting insertion in a Rule that otherwise seems to be based on exceptions, mitigation, differences, basic Christian practice and the law of averages.

Indeed, Benedictine spirituality is clearly rooted in living ordinary life with extraordinary awareness and commitment, a characteristic, in fact, that is common to monasticism both East and West. As the Zen Masters teach: "One day a new disciple came up to the master Joshu. 'I have just entered the brotherhood,' the disciple said. 'and I am anxious to learn the first principle of Zen. Will you please teach it to me?' he asked. So Joshu said, 'Have you eaten your supper?' And the novice answered, 'Yes, I have eaten.' So Joshu said, 'Then now wash your bowl.'"

The first principle of Benedictinism, too, is to do what must be done with special care and special zeal so that doing it can change our consciousness and carve our souls into the kind of beauty that comes from simple things. It is so easy to go through life looking feverishly for special ways to find God when God is most of all to be found in doing common things with uncommon conscientiousness.


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

Monday, November 19, 2007 Nativity Fast
Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow
Kellia: 2 Kings 6:1-16 LXX (2 Samuel MT) Epistle: 1 Timothy
1:1-7 Gospel: St. Luke 17:20-25

David's Early Reign III ~ Touching the Holy: 2 Kings 6:1-15 LXX,
especially vss. 6, 7: "And Uzzah reached forth his hand to the ark of
God to keep it steady, and took hold of it; for the ox shook it out of
its place. And the Lord was very angry with Uzzah; and God smote him
there: and he died there by the ark of the Lord before God." The
pragmatic mind asks why a good God, Who fully knows the hearts of men,
would strike down His servant Uzzah for seeking merely to steady the ark
of the Lord? Plainly, the event is a warning: to touch the holy is to
pass beyond the realm of benign actions and enter the zone of the
dangerous. Pious Orthodox Christians understand this caution
intuitively. Icons are not addressed in the same way as other
pictures. There are special ways to approach the clergy. Certain
places in our temples are excluded from casual entrance. It is
important to bow, make the sign of the Cross, and face the east. Some
words are reserved to the ordained. In sum, understanding God's stroke
against Uzzah illumines the basis of all pious gestures, words, and rituals.
Begin with the ark of the Covenant itself - a rectangular box fashioned
of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It was lodged in its own special
space, within the tabernacle - the national center of worship. In turn,
the tabernacle was divided into three areas: 1) a large court for the
people to gather for worship, 2) the "holy place" for the priests to
conduct the worship, which was equipped with an altar, tables, and other
furnishings, and 3) a room called "the holy of holies" or "the most
holy place," screened off even from the holy place by a heavy veil.
This isolated sanctuary was reserved solely for the ark of the Lord -
also referred to as the ark of the Covenant because it contained the two
tablets on which God Himself had inscribed the Ten Commandments, a pot
with a jar of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded (Heb. 9:4-5).
Therefore, the ark was an icon of God's relationship with Israel. The
Lord used the ark to help the People cross the Jordan into the Holy Land
for the first time (Josh. 3:14-17). During the time the tabernacle was
located at Shiloh, God permitted His ark to be captured by the
Philistines "because of the wickedness of [the] People of Israel" (Jer.
7:12). But the Philistines became "terrified and afflicted" when the
ark of the Lord was among them (1 Kngs./Sam. 5:6), and so they hastened
to send it back to Israel in a cart drawn by milk cows (1 Kngs./Sam.
6:10-12). After God slew seventy men, and fifty thousand men, at
Beth-shemesh "because they saw the ark of the Lord " (1 Kngs./Sam.
6:19), it was removed to "to the house of Abinadab on the hill" (1
Kngs./Sam. 7:1), and there it remained until King David determined to
move it to Jerusalem.
Any act related to the ark of God was dangerous if it failed to
recognize the Lord's active involvement with His People: capturing the
ark, peering into it, or even touching it reflexively. Hence, among
God's People, things specifically connected with the Lord's activity and
presence are media for encountering the God Who holds life and death in
His hand. Thus, icons, relics, Scripture, clergy, vestments, and above
all the Holy Gifts of the Lord's Body and Blood are only handled in ways
that express reverence and honor for Him Who is present, the Living God
of the Covenant. Worship Him alone, but venerate those things and
persons through which He acts.
God's ultimate use of His creation is the Lord Jesus Christ, as the
Apostles teach: "that which we have heard, which we have seen with our
eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled...was
manifested, which we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship
with us; and...with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn.
Holy is the Lord our God. Holy is the Lord our God. Holy is the Lord
our God. Exalt ye the Lord our God and worship at His footstool, for He
is holy.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home