Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dec 5, Wed in wk of Advent 1 2007, Clement of Alexandria


A Legend

Christ, when a Child, a garden made,
And many roses flourished there.
He watered them three times a day
To make a garland for His hair.
And when in time the roses bloomed,
He called the children in to share.
They tore the flowers from every stem,
And left the garden stript and bare,
"How wilt Thou weave Thyself a crown
Now that They roses are all dead?"
"Ye have forgotten that the thorns
Are left for Me, the Christ child said.
They plaited then a crown of thorns
And laid it rudely on His head;
A garland for His forehead made;
For roses: drops of blood instead.

translation Nathan Haskell Dole, 1852-1935

Divine Hymn of Love

Come down, O true Light!
Come down, Life Eternal.
Come down, Hidden Mystery.
Come down, Ineffiable treasure

Come down, O Constant Rejoicing.
Come down, Light that never fadeth

Come down, Eternal Joy.
Come down, Garland that never withereth.
Come down,
Thou whom my miserable soul ardently longs for and loves.
Come down, Thou who art alone, to another,
for I also am alone

Come down, Thou who hast transformed Thyself
into my desire..

-St. Symeon the New Theologian


Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God of unsearchable wisdom, you gave your servant Clement grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth: Grant to your church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found; through Jesus Christ our unfailing light, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:1-24; PM Psalm 12, 13, 14
Amos 3:12-4:5; 2 Pet. 3:1-10; Matt. 21:23-32

From Forward Day by Day:

2 Peter 3:1-10. With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

We give lip service to the concept of "God's time." We may even pray for patience. But in practice, we're on a schedule, and we expect God to get with the program.

Patience is not something Americans do well; we want what we want, and we want it right now. We are unaccustomed to waiting for anything, large or small, necessary or not: well-stocked stores and FedEx make instant gratification easy.

When it comes to our hopes and ambitions, it's not so simple. Instant gratification is out of the question for building a lasting relationship, raising a child, earning a degree, saving for retirement, or pursuing a vocation.

Sometimes things take far longer than we think they should, even with work, obedience, and prayer. It's hard--especially for the impatient, especially for me--to understand, to grasp God's purpose, to accept that God's schedule is not mine. But it's necessary, and with acceptance of that comes peace.

If you cannot accept it with joy, at least suffer it with patience. Thomas à Kempis (d. 1471)

Today we remember:

Clement of Alexandria
Psalm 34:9-14 or 103:1-4,13-18
Colossians 1:11-20; John 6:57-63


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Western Louisiana (United States)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

Celebrate the mighty Child

Daily Reading for December 5 • Clement of Alexandria, Priest, c. 210

Bridle of colts untamed,
Over our will presiding;
Wing of unwandering birds,
Our flight securely guiding.

Rudder of youth unbending,
Firm against adverse shock;
Shepherd, with wisdom tending
Lambs of the royal flock;

Thy simple children bring
In one, that they may sing
In solemn lays
Their hymns of praise
With guileless lips to Christ the King.

King of saints, almighty Word
Of the Father’s highest Lord;
Wisdom’s head and chief;
Assuagement of all grief;
Lord of all time and space,
Jesus, Savior of our race;

Shepherd, who dost us keep;
Husbandman, who tillest,
Bit to restrain us, Rudder
To guide us as Thou willest;
Of the all-holy flock celestial wing;

Fisher of men, whom Thou to life dost bring;
From evil sea of sin,
And billowy strife,
Gathering pure fishes in,
Caught with sweet bait of life:

Lead us, Shepherd of the sheep,
Reason-gifted, holy One;
King of youths, whom Thou dost keep,
So that they pollution shun:

Steps of Christ, celestial Way;
Word eternal, Age unending;
Life that never can decay;
Fount of mercy, virtue-sending;
Life august of those who raise
Unto God their hymn of praise,
Jesus Christ!

Nourished by the milk of heaven,
To our tender palates given;
Milk of wisdom from the breast
Of that bride of grace expressed;
By a dewy spirit filled
From fair Reason’s breast distilled;
Let us sucklings join to raise
With pure lips our hymns of praise
As our grateful offering,
Clean and pure, to Christ our King.
Let us, with hearts undefiled,
Celebrate the mighty Child.

A hymn of Clement of Alexandria, quoted in Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, edited by John R. Tyson (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

When we were given the capacity to love, to speak, to decide, to dream, to hope and create and suffer, we were also given the longing to be known by the One who most wants to be completely known. It is a longing woven into the very fabric of the image in which we were made.
— Robert Benson in Between the Dreaming and the Coming True

To Practice This Thought: Reflect upon how your yearning for God has deepened your life.
++++++++++ Reflections

In returning to God and resting, you will be saved. In silence and trust will be your strength.
Isaiah 30.15

Reading from the Desert Christians


The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving
as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses her
represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads
the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by
crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the
enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life
deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed
bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of
sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the
beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled
itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within
itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a
victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus
foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go
on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Giving Permission to Die

One of the greatest gifts we can offer our family and friends is helping them to die well. Sometimes they are ready to go to God but we have a hard time letting them go. But there is a moment in which we need to give those we love the permission to return to God, from whom they came. We have to sit quietly with them and say: "Do not be afraid ... I love you, God loves you ... it's time for you to go in peace. ... I won't cling to you any longer ... I set you free to go home ... go gently, go with my love." Saying this from our heart is a true gift. It is the greatest gift love can give.

When Jesus died he said: "Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit" (Luke 23:46). It is good to repeat these words often with our dying friends. With these words on their lips or in their hearts, they can make the passage as Jesus did.

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

Day Five - The First Aim of the Order

To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.

The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry, by his Cross and Resurrection, and by the sending of his Holy Spirit. The Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the of the Kingdom of God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Give Us Hope
December 5th, 2007
Wednesday’s Reflection

GOD OF HOPE, we bring our wounded hearts and broken spirits to you. You never reject those who struggle with doubt and depression. Calm our hearts and give us hope. Amen.

- Richard Morgan
Settling In

From p. 74 of Settling In: My First Year in a Retirement Community by Richard Morgan. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Thy Kingdom Come, My Kingdom Go

All false religion proceeds in a certain sense from one illusion: People say, "Thy Kingdom come" out of one side of their mouth, but they don't, out of the other side of their mouth, say, "My kingdom go." It happens when we try to have both of those kingdoms reign, when we say that the Lord is the lord of our lives, but in fact we're the lord of our own lives. When Jesus is not the Lord of our lives, we will most assuredly lord it over one another. That attitude has resulted in the domination, competition and unbelievable success agenda of much of Western civilization: Christians have sought to lord it over one another while saying they were submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

We just can't keep saying, "Thy Kingdom come," when it's obvious we're preoccupied with our own individual or nationalistic kingdoms. Look at Spain, France, England: These were Christian nations. Were they in love with the Kingdom of God or, as many Americans, with their own turf?

As a preacher, I know all I need do is touch that sacred cow to find people's real lordship. While they're saying, "Come, Lord Jesus," the golden calf they're bowed down before, more often than not, is their own agenda and the agenda of their nation-state. You can't say, "Come, Lord Jesus" and live that way! God doesn't care about national boundaries!

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.

Prepare the way

You must realize that the human heart is not small when it can contain all this. You ought to judge it not by its physical size but by its power to embrace such a vast amount of knowledge of the truth.

But so that I may convince you that the human heart is large by a simple example from daily life, let us consider this. Whatever city we may have passed through, we have in our minds. We remember its streets, walls, and buildings, what they were like and where they were situated. We have a mental picture of the roads we have traveled. In the moments of quiet reflection our minds embrace the sea that we have crossed. So, as I said, the heart that can contain all this is not small!

Therefore, if what contains so much is not small, let a way be prepared in it for the Lord, a straight highway along which the Word and Wisdom of God may advance. Prepare a way for the Lord by living a good life and guard that way by good works. Let the Word of God move in you unhindered and give you a knowledge of his coming and of his mysteries. To him be glory and power for ever and ever, amen.

Origen of Alexandria

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


"Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." Genesis 41:40

I have to account to God for the way in which I rule my body under His domination. Paul said he did not "frustrate the grace of God" - make it of no effect. The grace of God is absolute, the salvation of Jesus is perfect, it is done for ever. I am not being saved, I am saved; salvation is as eternal as God's throne; the thing for me to do is to work out what God works in. "Work out your own salvation," I am responsible for doing it. It means that I have to manifest in this body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mystically, but really and emphatically. "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." Every saint can have his body under absolute control for God. God has made us to have government over all the temple of the Holy Spirit, over imaginations and affections. We are responsible for these, and we must never give way to inordinate affections. Most of us are much sterner with others than we are in regard to ourselves; we make excuses for things in ourselves whilst we condemn in others things to which we are not naturally inclined.

"I beseech you," says Paul, "present your bodies a living sacrifice." The point to decide is this - "Do I agree with my Lord and Master that my body shall be His temple?' If so, then for me the whole of the law for the body is summed up in this revelation, that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 5, August 5, December 5
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
who are never lacking in a monastery,
arrive at irregular hours.
Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
Let them be given such help as they need,
that they may serve without murmuring.
And on the other hand,
when they have less to occupy them,
let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.

And not only in their case
but in all the offices of the monastery
let this arrangement be observed,
that when help is needed it be supplied,
and again when the workers are unoccupied
they do whatever they are bidden.

The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
and in a prudent manner.

On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
associate or converse with guests.
But if he should meet them or see them,
let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
ask their blessing and pass on,
saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The guest quarters are to be entrusted to a God-fearing member. Adequate bedding should be available there. The house of God should be in the care of members who will manage it wisely.

No monastics are to speak or associate with guests unless they are bidden; however, if the members meet or see guests, they are to greet them humbly, as we have said. They ask for a blessing and continue on their way, explaining that they are not allowed to speak.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, travel through Europe on unguarded and unkept roads through hostile territory and at the prey of marauding bands became both difficult and dangerous. Benedictine monasteries became the hospice system of Europe. There, anyone was received at any time. Rich and poor alike were accepted as equals and given the same service: food, bedding, immediate attention day or night. Yet, so that the monastery could remain a monastery in the midst of a steadily growing need for this monastic service, a special kitchen and special workers were assigned to provide the necessary care. It's an important addition to a chapter that could otherwise be read to mean that the monastic life itself was at the mercy of meandering peasants. The fact is that we all have to learn to provide for others while maintaining the values and structures, the balance and depth, of our own lives. The community that is to greet the guest is not to barter its own identity in the name of the guest. On the contrary, if we become less than we must be then we will be no gift for the guest at all. Parents must parent and all the good work in the world will not substitute for that. Wives and husbands must be present to the other and all the needs in the world will not forgive that. Balance and order and prayer in the life of those who practice Benedictine spirituality is key to being a genuine support in the lives of others. Somehow we must take on the needs of the world with a humble heart. As Hale said, "I cannot do everything but I can do something and what I can do I will do, so help me God."

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2007 Nativity
Fast Sava the Sanctified
1 Vespers Holy Monastic: Wisdom 3:1-9 Epistle: 2 Timothy
4:9-22 Gospel: St. Luke 21:5-7, 10-11, 20-24

The Saints' Appearance: Wisdom 3:1-9 LXX, especially vs. 7:"And in the
time of their visitation they shall shine and run to and fro like sparks
among the stubble." Those glorified ones who now shine forth from the
Kingdom of God, at the time of their repose, were visited by the Lord
Who judged their lives. They were "greatly rewarded; for God proved
them, and found them worthy" (vs. 5). The Church recognizes what God
makes apparent when He glorifies His Holy Ones - His Saints in the Body
of Christ. The Faithful on earth recognize their glory by ceasing to
pray for them - as we do for the majority of our beloved dead. Instead,
we glorify them and seek their intercessions. Knowing that the Saints
are worthy in God's eyes and glorified by Him prompts us to turn to them
in our necessities as to those having privilege with Him. In turn,
their prayers to the Lord run like sparks igniting His grace in the
stubble of our lives even though our needs may appear hopeless to the
superficial gaze of this world.

Outwardly, the lives of the Saints appeared to be wasted and frivolous
to their torturers and scoffers; but in truth their hearts and souls
remained firmly "in the hand of God" (vs. 1). As a result, no torment
ever touched them. It was only "in the sight of the unwise [that] they
seemed to die; and their departure...taken for misery, and their going
from us to be utter destruction" (vss. 2-3). In the words of the
Church, the Saints burned with the Lord's love: consumed the dried grass
of arrogant error; "bridled the mouths of beasts with their own
befitting supplications; and, being beheaded, they themselves beheaded
all the hosts of the enemy." In truth, their lives reveal how the
present existence is nothing but smoke and vapor although it seems solid
to the earthly minded. "For though [the Saints] be punished in the
sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality" (vs. 4). Be not
deceived, but let us praise Christ's victors!

Of eternal moment is the manner in which the Saints appear to God.
Behold, He sees them as His own sons and daughters. For, like a good
Father, He "chastised [a little that] they shall be greatly rewarded"
(vs. 5). Having learned this path from the Eternal Son and Word of God
Who "Himself has suffered" and struggled with temptation as a man (Heb.
2:18), they became pillars "of the Church and the fulfillment of the
Gospel." Often, ore dug from the earth appears to have little worth.
Actually, however, after that which seemed unattractive is smelted, the
metal and the dross separate, allowing, for instance, pure gold to
appear - thus it is with the Saints as the Scriptures teach us (Wis.
3:6). God, as a keen, observant craftsman of precious hearts, knows
which ore is fool's gold and which is acceptable for refining heat.

The appearance of the Saints is known to the Faithful only in stages.
First, we read the accounts of their lives or marvel today at their
endurance. Study and observation of their feats of asceticism,
martyrdom, and diligence nourishes "the perfection of believers." Some
of the Saints, in their struggles, have even "dazzled the incorporals."
Second, after their departure for the heavenly Kingdom, their miracles
and aids for their brethren still on earth act like the pre-dawn light
of the sun that later will blaze and illumine everything. Oh, yes, when
the Lord returns, they will sit as judges over the nations and peoples
in the Kingdom of God.

Consider Nicholas of Myra, the Protector of Russia and Britain, Herman
of Alaska, or Innocent of Moscow, the Enlightener of North America.
Truly "they...govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will
reign over them forever. Those who trust in Him understand the truth"
of their lives (vss. 8,9). Even today, these Saints seek from the Lord
the gifts of devotion, piety, and well being for the lands in which the
Faithful are living and struggling.

To Thee, O Lord, the universe offereth as first-fruits the
divinity-bearing Martyrs.

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