Wednesday, November 21, 2007

21/11/07 Wed, 25th week after Pentecost, Presentation of our Lady


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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30; PM Psalm 119:121-144
1 Macc. 3:42-60; Rev. 21:9-21; Matt. 17:22-27

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 101. I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, O LORD, will I sing praises. I will strive to follow a blameless course; oh, when will you come to me?

In a comic strip from years ago, the cartoon character Pogo declares, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." King David loved God deeply, and he desired to be righteous and blameless and to bring justice to the land. But he did not always succeed. He fought many enemies, most of whom he vanquished, but sometimes he failed to recognize his own character defects. David saw the beautiful Bathsheba, a married woman, and wanted her for himself. When Bathsheba became pregnant with David's child, he manipulated events so that her husband was killed in battle. Confronted by the prophet Nathan, David repented of his wrongdoing.

Like David, we may deeply desire to be blameless and loyal to the ways of God, but we need to be aware of the enemies within, our own character defects, lest we also fall blindly into sin. When we do, again like David, we need to repent of our sins and seek the forgiveness of our loving God.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Wangaratta (Victoria, Australia)

Speaking to the Soul:


Daily Reading for November 21

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge a gift as a gift? Here is the reason. When I admit that something is a gift, I admit my dependence on the giver. This may not sound that difficult, but there is something within us that bristles at the idea of dependence. We want to get along by ourselves. Yet a gift is something we simply cannot give to ourselves—not as a gift, at any rate. I can buy the same thing or even something better. But it will not be a gift if I procure it for myself. I can go out and treat myself to a magnificent treat. I can even be grateful later for the good time I had. But can I be grateful to myself for having treated myself so well? That would be neck-breaking mental acrobatics. Gratefulness always goes beyond myself. For what makes something a gift is precisely that it is given. And the receiver depends on the giver.

This dependence is always there when a gift is given and received. Even a mother depends on her child for the smallest gift. Suppose a little boy buys his mother a bunch of daffodils. He is giving nothing that he has not already received. His mother gave him not only the money he spent, but his very life and the upbringing that made him generous. Yet his gift is something that she depends on his giving. There is no other way she could receive it as a gift. Gift giving is a celebration of the bond that unites giver and receiver. That bond is gratefulness.

From Gratefulness, Heart of Prayer by David Steindl-Rast (Paulist Press, 1984).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

The body should be studied not only by those who wish to be doctors but by those who wish to attain a more intimate knowledge of God.
— Al-Ghaz quoted in No Enemies Within by Dawna Markova

To Practice This Thought: Do a body scan with love.
++++++++++ Reflections

We must have no confidence whatever in our own strength, but trust in His mercy - and until we do this all is weakness.
St. Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into
the valleys.

St. Tikhon of Voronezh

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Waiting in Expectation

Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.

All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, "Brothers and sisters ... the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light" (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expectation of God's coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God's promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.

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

Day Twenty One - The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes which mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them, all that it attempts will be in vain.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

For the Long Haul
November 21st, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

WHEN WE THINK of all that God wants for us and for the world, it helps to remember that we’re not talking about some overnight miracle. The change that God is about continues long-term, through all the ordinary days of the ordinary time in our lives. The long stretches when nothing spectacular seems to be happening form the bulk of our days — and the time of God’s faithful, steady working in our lives. God is in this for the long haul. And, … so are we.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Upper Room Disciplines 2007

From p. 232 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2007. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Thrashing About

The deepest level of communication is communion. When we know and love someone, we are simply happy to be near him or her. We feel power and energy passing between us. That is the power of prayer. That is what we must do to bask in the sunshine of God's love. The word to us is, "Don't just do something; stand there!"

Perhaps you've seen someone trying to learn how to swim. We tell the swimmer, one can float just by lying still in the water. But the swimmer thrashes around, throwing arms and legs about. That's just like us in prayer! We go down! Finally, little by little, the swimmer has a moment of quiet. We stop those limbs moving and, lo and behold, we are buoyed to the top—and we really float!

To receive the love of God is to recognize it is all around us, above us and beneath us; speaking to us through every person, every flower, every trial and situation. Stop knocking on the door: You're already inside!

from The Great Themes of Scripture

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

The Presentation of Mary

In Mary the words of the prophets
and the just are all contained;
from her the luminous One has shone forth
and dispelled the darkness of paganism.
The titles of Mary are many
and it is right that I should use them:
she is the palace where dwells
the mighty King of Kings;
not as he entered her did he leave her,
for from her he put on a body and came forth.
Again, she is the new heaven,
in which there dwells the King of Kings;
he shone out in her and came forth into creation,
formed and clothed in her features.
She is the stem of the cluster of grapes,
she gave forth fruit beyond nature's means,
and he, though his nature bore no resemblance to hers,
put on her hue and came forth from her.
She is the spring, whence flowed
living water for the thirsty,
and those who have tasted its draught
give forth fruit a hundred fold.

Ephrem of Edessa

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


"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." John 17:4

The Death of Jesus Christ is the performance in history of the very Mind of God. There is no room for looking on Jesus Christ as a martyr; His death was not something that happened to Him which might have been prevented: His death was the very reason why He came.

Never build your preaching of forgiveness on the fact that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. It is untrue to Jesus Christ's revelation of God; it makes the Cross unnecessary, and the Redemption "much ado about nothing." If God does forgive sin, it is because of the Death of Christ. God could forgive men in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted to be Saviour because of His death. "We see Jesus because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour." The greatest note of triumph that ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ - "It is finished." That is the last word in the Redemption of man.

Anything that belittles or obliterates the holiness of God by a false view of the love of God, is untrue to the revelation of God given by Jesus Christ. Never allow the thought that Jesus Christ stands with us against God out of pity and compassion; that He became a curse for us out of sympathy with us. Jesus Christ became a curse for us by the Divine decree. Our portion of realizing the terrific meaning of the curse is conviction of sin, the gift of shame and penitence is given us - this is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the wrong in man, and Calvary is the estimate of His hatred.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 22, July 22, November 21
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table

At the hour for the Divine Office,
as soon as the signal is heard,
let them abandon whatever they may have in hand
and hasten with the greatest speed,
yet with seriousness, so that there is no excuse for levity.
Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God.

If at the Night Office
anyone arrives after the "Glory be to the Father" of Psalm 94 --
which Psalm for this reason we wish to be said
very slowly and protractedly --
let him not stand in his usual place in the choir;
but let him stand last of all,
or in a place set aside by the Abbot for such negligent ones
in order that they may be seen by him and by all.
He shall remain there until the Work of God has been completed,
and then do penance by a public satisfaction.
the reason why we have judged it fitting
for them so stand in the last place or in a place apart
is that,
being seen by all,
they may amend for very shame.
For if they remain outside of the oratory,
there will perhaps be someone who will go back to bed and sleep
or at least seat himself outside and indulge in idle talk,
and thus an occasion will be provided for the evil one.
But let them go inside,
that they many not lose the whole Office,
and may amend for the future.

At the day Hours
anyone who does not arrive at the Work of God
until after the verse
and the "Glory be to the Father" for the first Psalm following it
shall stand in the last place,
according to our ruling above.
Nor shall he presume to join the choir in their chanting
until he has made satisfaction,
unless the Abbot should pardon him and give him permission;
but even then the offender must make satisfaction for his fault.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Benedictine spirituality does not ask for great feats of physical asceticism but it does require commitment to community and a sincere seeking of God through prayer. Tardiness is not to be tolerated. Indolence is not to be overlooked. Half-heartedness will not be condoned. Benedict does not want people sleeping-in or dawdling along, or "preferring anything to the Opus Dei," the work of God. Nothing in life qualifies as an exchange for the Word of God, not good work, not a job almost finished, not an interesting conversation, not the need for privacy.

Benedictine life centers around the chapel and chapel must never be overlooked. What is being asked for in monastic spirituality is a life of fidelity to prayer and to the praying communities of which we are a part. Prayer is a community act in Benedictine life. It is at community prayer, in the midst of others, that we are most reminded that we are not a world unto ourselves.

Benedict will go so far as to have the community pray the opening psalm slowly to give the slow a chance to get there in an age without alarm clocks but he will not allow such a lack of personal spiritual discipline to grow. Tardiness, the attempt to cut corners on everything in life, denies the soul the full experience of anything.

It is a lesson to be relearned in a modern age perhaps. There is nothing more important in our own list of important things to do in life than to stop at regular times, in regular ways to remember what life is really about, where it came from, why we have it, what we are to do with it and for whom we are to live it. No matter how tired we are or how busy we are or how impossible we think it is to do it, Benedictine spirituality says, Stop. Now. A spiritual life without a regular prayer life and an integrated community consciousness is pure illusion.

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

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple Fish, Wine, & Oil
Wed., Nov. 21, 2007
Kellia: 2 Kings (2 Samuel MT) 8:1-15 LXX Epistle: Hebrews
Gospel: St. Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28

An Invincible Warrior: 2 Kings 8:1-15 LXX, especially vss. 14, 15: "And
the Lord preserved David wherever he went. And David reigned over all
Israel: and David wrought judgment and justice over all his people."
King David was invincible as a warrior-king. Therefore, David serves as
a type of Christ our King, the true, invincible Warrior, "the Word of
God, [Who] has on His robe and His thigh a name written, King of Kings
and Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:13,16). But David also applies to you and
me, for he typifies everyone who is united to Christ in Baptism and who
aims to be "ever a warrior invincible," and a victor "even unto the end."

Considering David as a type of my life reveals that, unlike him, I am a
conquerable and often-defeated warrior and far from being a victorious
ruler. St. Theophan tells me why: "You must sacrifice everything to God
and do only His will," and immediately I see that I have as many wills
as I have powers and wants, "which all clamor for satisfaction,
irrespective of whether it is in accordance with the will of God or
not." And I give in to them, cooperate with them - even coddle them.
Hence, they keep me under their control and hamper my doing God's will.
But St. Theophan's counsel fits well the portrait of David in the
present reading: fight ceaselessly "against everything that panders to
your own wills, that incites and supports them."

King David typifies the Christian "warrior invincible in every attack of
those who assail him," and shows how to conduct life's ongoing struggle:
know the boundaries of your realm; defeat any power that encroaches on
your territory, and consecrate everything of value to God.

Each of us has a realm - the citadel of the heart, the powers of the
soul, and the physical body. There are Philistines aplenty assaulting
your mind, virtues, and will - advertisers, promoters, salesmen,
teachers, pleasure mongers, ideologues, apostates, atheists and the
blithely immoral. All these will happily make you a deal, take over
your heart, soul, and body, and use you for their purposes.
Self-defense - keeping your integrity - requires making watchfulness

St. Philotheos of Sinai shows how to establish external and internal
watchfulness over your life. First, acquire "in some measure...the
habit of self control," which is learned by shunning "visible sins
brought about through the five senses." Then it becomes possible "to
guard the heart with Jesus." Here he is directing you to the Jesus
Prayer, knowing that the Lord Himself will show you how to smite your
enemies who are always darting in to foul the citadel of your heart.
The Lord Jesus within your heart illumines your inner eye "to...His
goodness with a certain ardent longing."

See what King David did. The Philistines invaded. He smote them, put
them to flight, and took tribute from them (vs. 1). He smote the
Moabites. Some he killed, some he made into his servants, and from the
latter he received tribute (vs. 2). He smote Hadadezer and the Syrians,
and those not killed he made his servants and his tributaries (vss.
3-6). Be watchful over your realm and the light of Christ in your heart
will direct you which invaders to kill, which have value to serve you
and Jesus your King, and which can contribute to your growth in Christ.

King David gained control of his realm, brought powerful men into his
service, and amassed treasures - but not for his own pleasure. "Vessels
of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass...King David
consecrated to the Lord" (vss. 10,11). Smiting enemies, killing the
impure, making many into servants enabled David to reign over his realm
and to work "judgment and justice over all his people" (vs. 15). You
can do likewise, if Jesus reigns in you.

Lord Jesus Christ, enable me to remain watchful against all enemies,
smite those who would devour my life, and consecrate every gift from
Thee to sound judgment and righteousness.

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