Tuesday, November 27, 2007

27/11/07 Tue last 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.


Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm [120], 121, 122, 123; PM Psalm 124, 125, 126, [127]
Nahum 1:1-13; 1 Pet. 1:13-25; Matt. 19:13-22

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 120. Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips and from the deceitful tongue. What shall be done to you, and what more besides, O you deceitful tongue?

I have heard many victims of domestic abuse say that they recovered from the physical abuse, but the pain of verbal abuse was devastating and long-lasting. The Letter of James speaks of the power of the tongue and likens it to fire. Speaking untruths, lying, and spreading lies have terrible consequences. Sometimes it can lead to death. Ask a survivor of the Holocaust or anyone who has suffered as a result of prejudice.

There is an old Jewish wisdom tale of a man who told many lies about his rabbi. Later he repented and sought forgiveness. The rabbi gave him a pillow and told him to tear the pillow and release all the feathers in the wind. He did so and returned. The rabbi then said, "Now, go and collect all the feathers." This is how widespread and intractable a lie can be. Words once spoken are like the feathers--impossible to call back.

Those with the right perspective will not give ear to every tale they hear, for they understand that human beings are weak, that they tend to evil and are prone to slip in words.
--Thomas à Kempis (d. 1471)

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of West Buganda (Uganda)

Speaking to the Soul:

From dark to light

Daily Reading for November 27

In the world of his day, Benedict’s monks would go to bed at 6:00 p.m., so that after eight full hours of sleep they would awaken at 2:00 a.m. They would thus start the day in the dark, and the slow coming of the dawn would be a symbolic daily reminder of the movement from dark to light, from sleep and death to new life. Anyone who has read what Thomas Merton has told us of his life in his hermitage at Gethsemani will know, even if they have not experienced it for themselves, that those hours before dawn are perhaps the best time of all for prayer. Merton himself would rise at 2:15 a.m., when the night was at its darkest and most silent.

It is necessary for me to see the first point of light which begins to dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day, in blank silence when the sun appears. In this completely neutral instant I receive from the eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word “Day” which is never the same. It is never spoken in any known language.

From A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Liturgical Press, 1995).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

A society based on universal compassion is not just our only hope; it is an evolutionary imperative.
— Marc Ian Barasch in Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness

To Practice This Thought: Do your evolutionary imperative and be compassionate to someone.
++++++++++ Reflections

Your heart is made to love Jesus, to love Him passionately.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


When anyone is disturbed or saddened under the pretext of a good
and soul-profiting matter, and is angered against his neighbour,
it is evident that this is not according to God: for everything
that is of God is peaceful and useful and leads a man to humility
and to judging himself.

St. Barsanuphius the Great

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Having Reverence and Respect for the Body

In so many ways we use and abuse our bodies. Jesus' coming to us in the body and his being lifted with his body in the glory of God call us to treat our bodies and the bodies of others with great reverence and respect.

God, through Jesus, has made our bodies sacred places where God has chosen to dwell. Our faith in the resurrection of the body, therefore, calls us to care for our own and one another's bodies with love. When we bind one another's wounds and work for the healing of one another's bodies, we witness to the sacredness of the human body, a body destined for eternal life.

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

Day Twenty Seven - The Second Note, cont'd

The Third Order is Christian community whose members, although varied in race, education, and character, are bound into a living whole through the love we share in Christ. This unity of all who believe in him will become, as our Lord intended, a witness to the world of his divine mission. In our relationship with those outside the Order, we show the same Christ-like love, and gladly give of ouselves, remembering that love is measured by sacrifice.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

A Simple, Holy Word
November 27th, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

HOW DO YOU practice contemplative prayer? The method itself is disarmingly simple. …

You pick a simple holy word that captures your desire to know God; perhaps choose that word for yourself right now. Then you bring it to your attention and focus your desire for God upon that word. Each time your mind wanders, bring your attention back to this word. Unlike the Jesus Prayer, this word is not to be repeated over and over. Rather the word serves as a focal point to which you can return your attention whenever you have strayed into the land of thought. That is all.

- Daniel Wolpert
Creating a Life with God

From pp. 67-68 of Creating a Life with God: The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Unconditional Love

Most people think we repent and then we experience redemption. Actually it's exactly opposite in the Bible (read Ezekiel 16, the allegory of Israel, for example). You really repent, you truly turn again to the lord for new life, after you've experienced redemption. First you experience God's saving love, and that's what gives you the power for true repentance: "Not our love for God, but God's love for us" (1 John 4:10).

Many people are incapable of true repentance because they are trying too hard. They get into breast beating and putting themselves down. It will never work, but only deaden and paralyze. That's never God's work. God enters into our sin and redeems it. God loves us first before we can do anything. And from that experience of unearned love, unprepared-for love, comes within us the power to begin again. We end up looking good and getting the credit, but we know better inside!

from The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

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

Be on the watch

Christ's final coming will be like his first. As prophets and people of upright life expected him and thought that he might reveal himself in their own day, so also today, because he did not disclose the day of his coming, all believers desire to welcome him in their own lifetime.

But his chief reason for secrecy was so that no one would think that he who ordains times and seasons was himself subject to a decree or a time. He himself determined the time of his coming and told us what its signs would be. How then could it have been concealed from him? He drew attention to those signs so that from that day on all generations and ages would expect him to come in their own time.

Be on the watch. When the body sleeps our nature takes control of us and our actions are performed not by our own will but through the compulsion of natural impulse. And when the soul is overpowered by the heavy sleep of faintheartedness and dejection, the enemy takes control and performs through it actions which are against its will. Nature is governed by instinct; the soul by the enemy.

The vigilance enjoined by the Lord, therefore, is prescribed for both parts of the human person: the body should stint itself of sleep; the soul should guard itself against lethargy and timidity.

Ephrem of Edessa

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


"By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

If I brood on the Cross of Christ, I do not become a subjective pietist, interested in my own whiteness; I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ's interests. Our Lord was not a recluse nor an ascetic, He did not cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in an other world. He was so much in the ordinary world that the religious people of His day called Him a glutton and a wine-bibber. Our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual energy.

The counterfeit of consecration is the conscious cutting off of things with the idea of storing spiritual power for use later on, but that is a hopeless mistake. The Spirit of God has spoiled the sin of a great many, yet there is no emancipation, no fullness in their lives. The kind of religious life we see abroad to-day is entirely different from the robust holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.

We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God's part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested only in that in which God is interested. The way to solve perplexing problems is to ask - Is this the kind of thing in which Jesus Christ is interested, or the kind of thing in which the spirit that is the antipodes of Jesus is interested?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 28, July 28, November 27
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.

From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.

And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

There is little room for excursion into the quixotic in the Rule of Benedict. If any chapter proves that point best, it may well be the chapter on work. Benedict doesn't labor the point but he clearly makes it: Benedictine life is life immersed in the sanctity of the real and work is a fundamental part of it. The function of the spiritual life is not to escape into the next world; it is to live well in this one. The monastic engages in creative work as a way to be responsible for the upbuilding of the community. Work periods, in fact, are specified just as prayer periods are. Work and prayer are opposite sides of the great coin of a life that is both holy and useful, immersed in God and dedicated to the transcendent in the human. It is labor's transfiguration of the commonplace, the transformation of the ordinary that makes co-creators of us all.

Benedictine spirituality exacts something so much harder for our century than rigor. Benedictine spirituality demands balance. Immediately after Benedict talks about the human need to work, to fill our lives with something useful and creative and worthy of our concentration, he talks about lectio, about holy reading and study. Then, in a world that depended on the rising and the setting of the sun to mark their days rather than on the artificial numbers on the face of a clock, Benedict shifts prayer, work and reading periods from season to season to allow for some of each and not too much of either as the days stretch or diminish from period to period. He wants prayer to be brief, work to be daily and study to be constant. With allowances for periodic changes, then, the community prayed and studied from about 2:00 am to dawn and then worked for a couple of hours until the hour of Terce at about 10:00 am. Then, after Terce they read for a couple of hours until Sext before the midday meal. After dinner they rested or read until about 2:30 and then went back to work for three or four hours until Vespers and supper in the late afternoon. After saying a very brief Compline or evening prayer they retired after sundown for the night. It was a gentle, full, enriching, regular, calm and balanced life. It was a prescription for life that ironically has become very hard to achieve in a world of light bulbs and telephones and cars but it may be more necessary than ever if the modern soul is to regain any of the real rhythm of life and so, its sanity as well.

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 Nativity Fast
Great-Martyr James the Persian
Kellia: 2 Kings LXX (2 Samuel MT) 11:14-27 Epistle: 1 Timothy
5:11-21 Gospel: St. Luke 19:45-48

Slavery to Sin: 2 Kings 11:14-27 LXX, especially vs.15: "And he wrote in
the letter, saying, Station Uriah in front of the severe part of the
fight, and retreat from behind him, so shall he be wounded and die."
Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us plainly about the power of sin to control
the person who sins: "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin
is a slave of sin" (Jn. 8:34). While the truth of this saying of the
Lord applies to all sins, the account of King David's adultery with
Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, underscores St. Basil's
refinement of the point that "if...we can safely speak of small and
great sin, it is incontrovertibly evident to everyone that a great sin
is one that holds anyone in its power, whereas a small sin is one which
does not get the upper hand." The first thirteen verses of the Second
Kings account of David's sin with Bathsheba clearly reveal that great
sin was driving the man.

Already, our reflections on David's sin have shown how easily sin
proliferates, with one wrong action as a gateway to further offenses.
But be sure to distinguish the expanding nature of sin from its most
dangerous capacity - to become life-dominating. No doubt, the
punishments called for in the codes of the ancient People of God ought
alert us to the fact that adultery is one of the great sins, being an
offense with vigorous capacity to get the upper hand over the sinner.
Thus it was mandated to "remove the wicked one out of Israel," no doubt
to keep society and the family pure: "And if a man be found lying with a
woman married to a man, ye shall kill them both, the man that lay with
the woman, and the woman" (Lev. 20:10; see also Deut. 22:22).

The legal demand in ancient Israel for the death sentence in cases of
adultery helps us better understand what was driving King David to cover
up his sin. His position as King probably would have given him
immunity, but Bathsheba had no such shield. His first line of action,
therefore, was to "sweep the matter under the carpet," by using Uriah's
home visit to explain Bathsheba's pregnancy; but the soldier's integrity
prevented that obvious solution. Thus, the slavery to sin took full
sway over David. He conspired with Joab in murder. By arranging
Uriah's honorable death in combat, David became free to protect himself
and Bathsheba by marrying her; and "the time of mourning expired...David
sent and took her into his house, and she became his wife, and bore him
a son" (2 Kngs. 11:27).

Sin places those who violate the Divine Law before the bench of Divine
judgment: "but the thing which David did was evil in the eyes of the
Lord" (vs. 27). However, David remained liable before God, and was so
even before he "sent and enquired about the woman" (2 Kngs. 11:3),
especially given the Lord Jesus' standard of measurement: "But I say to
you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed
adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). And where was the court
of the Lord that would come later, in which the Judge would say,
"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (Jn. 8:11)? The terrible
sadness, the grief, the pain that comes in the heart at what the
messenger reported to David: "Uriah the Hittite is dead" (2 Kngs.
11:24). King David, slave to his own sin, arranged a good man's death.

Beloved, listen to St. Symeon the New Theologian: "in relation to
spiritual matters. First we must lay the spiritual foundations of the
house, that is to say, we must watch over the heart and curtail the
passions arising from it. Then...we must repulse the turbulence of the
evil spirits that fight us by means of the external senses, and must
free ourselves as quickly as possible from their attacks. Then we
must...give ourselves wholly to God."

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to
the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression...and cleanse
me from my sin (Ps. 50:1,2 LXX).



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