Thursday, December 13, 2007

Daily Meditation Dec 13, 2007



Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Amos 9:1-10; Rev. 2:8-17; Matt. 23:13-26

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 37:19-42. The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it forever.

I live in hilly country, in an area blessed with trees. They grow so thickly and so high that for much of the year it's almost possible to forget that my neighborhood is part of a great metropolis.

But in the winter, after the leaves have fallen, the landscape opens up and its secrets are revealed. When my friend and I go for our morning walk on a mild day, it's as though a wall of privacy has fallen. There are apartment buildings on the other side of that ridge; there are houses covering that hillside. There's an assisted living place near the highway, and a vast shopping center in the valley.

This winter view is a reminder that there's more to our communities than we can usually see with a casual glance, that they're more diverse than we know. It's a reminder, too, that we are all connected. We're better at doing things for our neighbors in need at Christmas; will we still remember that they're there when the leaves grow green again?

How can we love thee, holy hidden Being, if we love not the world which thou hast made?
--Laurence Housman (d. 1959)

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Willochra (South Australia, Australia)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

Santa Lucia

Daily Reading for December 13

The feast of St. Lucy (304) occurs during the Geminid meteor showers, sometimes called “St. Lucy’s Lights.” The northern sky filled with shooting stars prompts us to put on the “armor of light” in anticipation of the day of the Lord. Before the Gregorian calendar reform in 1582, the feast of Santa Lucia fell on the shortest day of the year. Lucy (“light”) marked the close of the long, dark nights and heralded the new light to come. Thus her feast is identified with a wreath of candles to drive away the darkness and welcome the returning sunlight.

Born to nobility in Syracuse, Sicily, young Lucy accompanied her mother on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Agatha. Her mother was miraculously healed, convincing Lucy to serve God. She gave all her riches to the poor and lived a life of service. She was beheaded after surviving extreme torture during the Diocletian persecutions. Her relics remain in Venice, Italy, at Santa Lucia Church.

Tales of a miraculous appearance of Lucy to a desperately hungry Sweden, her head haloed with light and her arms filled with enough food for everyone, generate the traditional “Lucia bride.” In Swedish homes, at cockcrow, the eldest girl in the house dresses in a white gown sashed in red and crowns her head with an evergreen wreath of seven to nine candles to impersonate Lucy. The Lussibrud wakes all the sleepers with coffee, sweet drink, and cakes called “Lucy cats.” The cakes are circular swirls, like cinnamon buns, that represent the eternal Sun. All gather for breakfast and tales of Lucy, who announces that darkness is broken and the Son is coming.

To honor Lucy and the Advent of the Light of the world, choose a family member to rise early and awaken the household with beverage and donuts or round sweet rolls. Just before dawn, you may want to go outside and try to spot the Geminid lights.

From Teach Us to Number Our Days: A Liturgical Advent Calendar by Barbara Dee Baumgarten. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Spiritual Practice of the Day

I have heard it said that whining is anger coming out through a very small opening.
— James Finley in The Contemplative Heart

To Practice This Thought: Use your anger wisely.
++++++++++ Reflections

Be sure that the Lord will never forsake those who love Him when they run risks solely for His sake.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


It is by warfare that the soul makes progress.

Abba John the Short

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Anticipating the Vision

The marvelous vision of the peaceable Kingdom, in which all violence has been overcome and all men, women, and children live in loving unity with nature, calls for its realisation in our day-to-day lives. Instead of being an escapist dream, it challenges us to anticipate what it promises. Every time we forgive our neighbor, every time we make a child smile, every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens, and work for peace and justice among peoples and nations we are making the vision come true.

We must remind one another constantly of the vision. Whenever it comes alive in us we will find new energy to live it out, right where we are. Instead of making us escape real life, this beautiful vision gets us involved.

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

Proclaiming Your Hope
December 13th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

in one heart and mind,
that we may be one people
serving you,
loving you,
proclaiming your hope
to all the world.

- Beth A. Richardson
Child of the Light: Walking through Advent and Christmas

From p. 63 of Child of the Light: Walking through Advent and Christmas by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

The Tenth Commandment

I've never, in my years as a Catholic Christian, heard a sermon on the Tenth Commandment. We can't possibly preach on "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods" because Western society is based on that. It's called capitalism. Mass advertising tells us we need things none of us need. It sows confusion about what's important for life. The level of need has moved to such a level of illusion and sophistication that what were once ultimate luxuries have become necessities. In our culture, people cannot feel good about themselves unless next year's vacation is more luxurious than last year's, unless everything is upgraded—while most of God's people on this earth starve.

The affluent West has made happiness impossible. We've created a pseudo- happiness, a pseudo-success, a pseudo-security that will never satisfy the human heart. Most of God's people are forced to learn to find happiness and freedom at a much more simple level. The gospel says that's where happiness is always to be found.

That is about as traditional, old-fashioned, conservative a gospel as there is, and it will never change. We have to keep saying it: "There is a Tenth Commandment."

from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr

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

Christ is the prize and the crown

When love of Christ and of virtue has been born in people's hearts, they expect to suffer persecution for the sake of their love, to endure expulsion if need by, and to listen to the worst insults; and moreover to do all this with joy, knowing that the fairest and most honorable rewards are laid up for them in heaven. The love of the contestants for him who presides over the race is powerful enough to make them trust him for the prizes they do not yet see, and to make them hope firmly, now in the present, for what is to come.

Christ himself is the prize and the crown which those who run the race are to receive. Surely, then, we must keep our eyes fixed on him, examine his teaching and actions carefully, and try to learn as well as possible how to conduct ourselves in the struggle. For the labors of athletes are proportionate to the prizes: looking forward to the honor they endure the hardships, exerting that measure of persevering effort which they know to be warranted in the beauty of the prize.

Nicolas Cabasilas

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


"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" Luke 18:1

You cannot intercede if you do not believe in the reality of the Redemption; you will turn intercession into futile sympathy with human beings which will only increase their submissive content to being out of touch with God. In intercession you bring the person, or the circumstance that impinges on you before God until you are moved by His attitude towards that person or circumstance. Intercession means filling up "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," and that is why there are so few intercessors. Intercession is put on the line of - "Put yourself in his place." Never! Try to put yourself in God's place.

As a worker, be careful to keep pace with the communications of reality from God or you will be crushed. If you know too much, more than God has engineered for you to know, you cannot pray, the condition of the people is so crushing that you cannot get through to reality.

Our work lies in coming into definite contact with God about everything, and we shirk it by becoming active workers. We do the things that can be tabulated but we will not intercede. Intercession is the one thing that has no snares, because it keeps our relationship with God completely open.

The thing to watch in intercession is that no soul is patched up, a soul must get through into contact with the life of God. Think of the number of souls God has brought about our path and we have dropped them! When we pray on the ground of Redemption, God creates something He can create in no other way than through intercessory prayer.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 13, August 13, December 13
Chapter 59: On the Sons of Nobles and of the Poor Who Are Offered

If anyone of the nobility
offers his son to God in the monastery
and the boy is very young,
let his parents draw up the document which we mentioned above;
and at the oblation
let them wrap the document itself and the boy's hand in the altar cloth.
That is how they offer him.

As regards their property,
they shall promise in the same petition under oath
that they will never of themselves, or through an intermediary,
or in any way whatever,
give him anything
or provide him with the opportunity of owning anything.
Or else,
if they are unwilling to do this,
and if they want to offer something as an alms to the monastery
for their advantage,
let them make a donation
of the property they wish to give to the monastery,
reserving the income to themselves if they wish.
And in this way let everything be barred,
so that the boy may have no expectations
whereby (which God forbid) he might be deceived and ruined,
as we have learned by experience.

Let those who are less well-to-do make a similar offering.
But those who have nothing at all
shall simply draw up the document
and offer their son before witnesses at the oblation.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The dedication of children to God by their parents, the designation of their professions or even the selection of their marriage partners was a common practice for centuries. The gifting of a child to a monastery, in particular, was believed to assure the salvation of the parents as well as the child. Not until the Council of Trent did the Church itself define a legal profession age. In a period of history in which dedication of a child to God was a common pious practice, Benedict takes pains to see that the piety is not corrupted by the inexorable tension between the high ideals of the family and the test of time on the decision. The fact is that when the full realization of what we have promised begins to dawn on us, it is often more common to come to dubious terms with the demise of the commitment than it is to quit it. We marry in haste and then, as the years go by, we find ourselves starting to live life in two different parts of the house. We promise to spend more time with the children but read in the car while they play in the park. We take a job as night security guard and go to sleep at the desk. Benedict wants to avoid that kind of silent erosion of zeal by binding both the child who is being given and the parents who do the giving to the promise to let the thing go on being what it set out to be. Benedict does not want the child torn between two identities, community member and family member, as it gets older. More than that, he does not want the parents themselves to begin to take back the spiritual covenant they have promised for the sake of their posterity or influence.

It is a chapter concerned about simplicity and community and equality, true, but it is also a chapter dedicated to the spirituality of the long haul. We must learn to complete in faith what we began in enthusiasm; we must learn to be true to ourselves; we must continue to become what we said we would be, even when accommodation to the immediate seems to be so much more sensible, so much more reasonable, so much easier.

The ability to eliminate distinctions between people is a hallmark of Benedictine simplicity and community. In the preceding paragraph it is obvious that Benedict is not accepting the children of the wealthy because their parents will endow the monastery. Whether they do or whether they don't makes no difference to him at all. What matters is that the children accepted as monastics out of the fervor of their parent's hearts be allowed to develop as monastics. Otherwise, he clearly fears, the community life and spirituality of the house will be corrupted by the independently wealthy who, as the years go by, grow more into the family fortune than into the monastic life. The poor have nothing whatsoever to give except their children and Benedict accepts them on the same grounds, with the same ceremony, in the same spirit. Benedictine spirituality does not fear poverty; it fears the kind of self-sufficiency that frees people from the smelting effects of a communal spirituality.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007 Nativity Fast Repose, Herman of
Alaska, Wonderworker
Kellia: Sirach 10:19-28 Epistle: Hebrews 7:1-6
Gospel: St. Mark 9:33-41

Fear of the Lord: Sirach 10:19-28 LXX, especially vs. 22: "Whether he be
rich, noble, or poor, their glory is the fear of the Lord." In Sirach
7:29-36, God reveals that every action in life ought to be taken only
when it is full accord with the goal of one's life in Christ. In the
present passage God provides the helpful means for assessing actions
against one's basic commitment to Christ - fear of the Lord. When
considering an action, if there is no fear of the Lord in your heart,
stop, pray, and seek Him. Acting as "you are supposed to" or as "you
really want to" is perilous to your soul unless fear of the Lord is
impelling and guiding your steps. Search these verses, let them guide
you invariably to true fear of the Lord, praying to God to rouse you to
walk in His ways.

You must watch within yourself to determine if fear of the Lord is
guarding your soul: there is an action at the gate - a decision to be
made, an opportunity at hand. Be attentive! Call out to the watchman:
is there regard for the law or has transgression of the commandments
arisen to deceive me again (vs. 19)? The good seed of fear of the Lord
cannot sprout and grow in a heart where the worms of self-will eat into
the life and truth of the commandments.

Almost all activities involve us in the company of others, where their
opinions, insights, wishes, and desires have an influence. Call out to
the guard again: are honor (vs. 20), chief of position (vs. 20),
authority (vs. 21), wealth or nobility (vs. 22) in and of themselves
leading the appeal? Or, are the voices of those whom God honors
prevailing (vs. 20) - men meek and humble (vs. 21), who find the image
of God in every one (vss. 22,23), give due honor to the great (vs. 24),
but, attend invariably to the voice of the Lord (vs. 24)?

Heeding the commandments of God and the voices of those who strive to
love Him and fear Him, it is possible, by God's grace, to identify the
fear of the Lord within ourselves and others and encourage its growth.
However, remember the words of St. Peter of Damaskos, "even if the
ability and desire to do good are one's own, the grace to do it comes
from God."

Jesus ben Sirach concludes with four virtues to be cultivated. These
especially will nourish the roots of fear of the Lord in our hearts and
souls, sometimes encouraging us and sometimes warning us against being
overtaken by one of their opposites: serving (vs. 25), welcoming
reproach (vs. 25), laboring diligently (vs. 27), and honoring meekness
(vs. 28).

"They that are service...unto the servant that is
wise" (vs. 25). In God's eyes, he who fears the Lord is wise (vs. 25),
be he a great man, a judge, or a menial worker (vss. 24,25). Those who
are not wise do not fear the Lord. Predictably, they will be servile
under authority, or they will manage others roughly and proudly (vs.
21). The person who fears the Lord is truly free, for he can happily
serve under even the most menial supervisor of workers.

"He that hath knowledge will not grudge when he is reformed" (vs. 25).
What is the knowledge referred to? Of course, it is fear of the Lord.
He who fears the Lord receives correction as from the Lord Himself and
welcomes it. Grudging, even when we submit, is a sure sign that the
fear of the Lord is not present. God alone frees us to change.

"He that laboreth, and aboundeth in all things" (vs. 27) does so from
diligence which takes its root in fear of the Lord. When the Lord calls
us to a task, it is to Him we answer. Those who fear Him work
diligently, while those who are "overwise in" (vs. 26)
must resort to boasting, not considering the Lord in relation to their

Finally, "glorify thy soul in meekness" (vs. 28), the companion virtue
for him who fears the Lord. Therefore, "Blessed are the meek, for they
shall inherit the earth" (Mt. 5:5).

"Guide me, O Lord , in Thy way that I may fear Thy name." (Ps. 85:10)



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