30/04/07 Mon in the week of the 4th Sunday in Easter
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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.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Today's Scripture http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/
AM Psalm 41, 52; PM Psalm 44
Wisdom 1:16-2:11,21-24; Col. 1:1-14; Luke 6:1-11
From Forward Day by Day: http://www.forwardmovement.org/todaysreading.cfm
Colossians 1:1-14. [God] has rescued us from the power of darkness...
These days, when a Christian starts talking about the wiles of the devil or satanic spirits, we think "right-winger," "wacko," or both. We are educated people. It makes us uncomfortable to read scripture that talks of evil spirits lurking about, trying to trap us, and more uncomfortable yet to think some of our brethren actually insist they're real. We like believing in pretty "helper" angels, but not in Satan, the fallen angel, Lucifer, the deceiver, the Father of Lies.
We are so easy to trap when we wallow in our intellectualism. Here is what a modern-day devil might whisper: "This isn't really adultery; we're so perfect for each other that God must have put us together!" Or, "I'm just a social drinker." Or, "I didn't lose my temper--he deserved telling off!" Or, "It's O.K. to cheat on tests or taxes; everybody does it!" The impulse to sin is all ours, but Lucifer's own tell us the sin is dandy.
God, the holy one, dwells in light. Nothing from God needs to be hidden. That is what it means to "test the spirits." When we find ourselves contemplating an act we wouldn't relish explaining to other Christians, it's time to say "beat it!" Then, to ask God to fill us again with his spirit of truth.
Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Nord Kivu (Congo)
Carmelite.com: Reflections http://www.carmelite.com/spirituality/reflection.php
Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Reading from the Desert Christians http://www.cin.org/dsrtftin.html
A brother sinned and the priest ordered him to go out of the church; abba Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, "I, too, am a sinner."
Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)
R. Jochanan Sandalarius said, Whatsoever assemblage is in the name of duty will in the end be established; and that which is not in the name of duty will not in the end be established.
The Merton Reflection for the Week of April 30, 2007
"Faith of course tells us that we live in a time of eschatological struggle, facing a fierce combat which marshals all the forces of evil and darkness against the still invisible truth, yet this combat is already decided by the victory of Christ over death and over sin. The Christian can renounce the protection of violence and risk being humble, therefore vulnerable, not because she trusts in the supposed efficacy of a gentle and persuasive tactic that will disarm hatred and tame cruelty, but because she believes that the hidden power of the Gospel is demanding to be manifested in and through her own poor person. Hence in perfect obedience to the Gospel, she effaces herself and her own interests and even risks her life in order to testify not simply to "the truth" in a sweeping idealistic and purely platonic sense, but to the truth that is incarnate in a concrete human situation, involving living persons whose rights are denied or whose lives are threatened."
Thomas Merton. Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968: 18-19
Thought to Remember
"A holy zeal for the cause of humanity in the abstract may sometimes be mere lovelessness and indifference for concrete and living human beings. When we appeal to the highest and most noble ideals, we are more easily tempted to hate and condemn those who, so we believe, are perversely standing in the way of their realization."
Faith and Violence: 19
Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen) http://www.henrinouwen.org/home/free_eletters/
Losing and Gaining Our Lives
The great paradox of life is that those who lose their lives will gain them. This paradox becomes visible in very ordinary situations. If we cling to our friends, we may lose them, but when we are nonpossessive in our relationships, we will make many friends. When fame is what we seek and desire, it often vanishes as soon as we acquire it, but when we have no need to be known, we might be remembered long after our deaths. When we want to be in the center, we easily end up on the margins, but when we are free enough to be wherever we must be, we find ourselves often in the center.
Giving away our lives for others is the greatest of all human arts. This will gain us our lives.
From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:
Day Thirty - The Three Notes
The humility, love and joy which mark the lives of Tertiaries are all God given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him. We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.
Upper Room Daily Reflection http://www.upperroom.org/reflections/
I GRADUALLY CAME TO SEE that I was being invited to love myself as God loved me, cognizant of the wholeness of who I am — both gifted and wounded, blessed and broken. I was being invited to forgive myself little by little for all I found unacceptable and wearisome in myself. After a time, I came to see that I was forgiving myself for simply being human.
- Wendy M. Wright
From page 48 of The Rising: Living the Mysteries of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1994 by Wendy M. Wright.
Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection
We Catholics have had no training or encouragement in the prophetic charism. It is a lost gift except in the area of private morality. We are accustomed to forming teachers, pastors, administrators and even apostles and healers, but the highly listed charism of prophecy (Ephesians 4:11) is still scary, foreign, thought to be unnecessary by Churches that have bought into the system. Fortunately, we are again discovering the older and biblical notion of social and structural sin ("the sin of the world") that John the Baptist points out (John 1:29). Pope John Paul II speaks of it in his hard-hitting encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis. His critical analysis of both Western capitalism and totalitarian communism shows the type of courage and prophetic leadership that we need from our American bishops in confronting the myth of deterrence and nuclear superiority. People and nation-states do have a right to safety and security. A certain degree of it is necessary for psychological, economic and human growth. But that is quite different from the overarching and overbearing need that now seems to dominate all other human concerns. What allows us to think that food, housing, education, welfare, ecology, medicine, aesthetics, the animal and plant world, wisdom, family and holiness are all supposed to be put on hold until American people can feel absolutely secure and victorious? It is spiritually destructive for the individual, and it is equally destructive for the collective. Until Catholicism recovers its great medieval synthesis, until it again sees itself as preaching the gospel to the nations (Matthew 29:19), until it again acts as the corporate conscience and not just the comforter of private lives, we will surely continue to lose our moral credibility and moral leadership. American bishops, our teachers and overseers, we ask you to pray, to reread the sermons of Jesus, to follow the prophetic leadership of the bishop of Rome in regard to social justice. As many have said, the social encyclicals are still the best-kept secret in the Church! We ask you to firmly and courageously condemn the American myth of nuclear deterrence before we have lost both our planet and our spiritual soul.
from Radical Grace, "Why Deterrence is Death"
From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.
God's power in weakness
The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at our service and when they receive God's word they become the eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies which have been nourished by the eucharist will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God's power is shown most perfectly in weakness.
Irenaeus of Lyons,(140 - 200), bishop of Lyons, wrote a momumental work Against the Heresies. At the heart of his theology is a vision of the unity and the the recapitulation of all things in Christ.
Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers
THE SPONTANEITY OF LOVE
"Love suffereth long, and is kind . . ." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is not premeditated, it is spontaneous, i.e., it bursts up in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of mathematical certainty in Paul's category of love. We cannot say - "Now I am going to think no evil; I am going to believe all things." The characteristic of love is spontaneity. We do not set the statements of Jesus in front of us as a standard; but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard with out knowing it, and on looking back we are amazed at the disinterestedness of a particular emotion, which is the evidence that the spontaneity of real love was there. In everything to do with the life of God in us, its nature is only discerned when it is past.
The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally, it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we do not love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, it comes naturally. In looking back we cannot tell why we did certain things, we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God manifests itself in this spontaneous way because the springs of love are in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 5:5.)
G. K. Chesterton Day by Day
CATHERINE OF SIENA'S DAY
HISTORIC Christianity rose into a high and strange coup de theatre of morality -- things that are to virtue what the crimes of Nero are to vice. The spirits of indignation and of charity took terrible and attractive forms, ranging from that monkish fierceness that scourged like a dog the first and greatest of the Plantagenets, to the sublime pity of St. Catherine, who, in the official shambles, kissed the bloody head of the criminal. Our ethical teachers write reasonably for prison reform; but we are not likely to see Mr. Cadbury, or any eminent philanthropist, go into Reading Jail to embrace the strangled corpse before it is cast into the quicklime. Our ethical teachers write wildly against the power of millionaires, but we are not likely to see Mr. Rockefeller, or any modern tyrant, publicly whipped in Westminster Abbey.
Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict http://www.osb.org/rb/
Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have
Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
which separates from God and leads to hell,
so there is a good zeal
which separates from vices and leads to God
and to life everlasting.
This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
with the most fervent love.
Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
whether of body or of character;
vie in paying obedience one to another --
no one following what she considers useful for herself,
but rather what benefits another;
tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
fear God in love;
love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!
Here is the crux of the Rule of Benedict. Benedictine spirituality is not about religiosity. Benedictine spirituality is much more demanding than that. Benedictine spirituality is about caring for the people you live with and loving the people you don't and loving God more than yourself. Benedictine spirituality depends on listening for the voice of God everywhere in life, especially in one another and here. An ancient tale from another tradition tells that a disciple asked the Holy One:
"Where shall I look for Enlightenment?"
"Here," the Holy One said.
"When will it happen?"
"It is happening right now," the Holy said.
"Then why don't I experience it?"
"Because you do not look," the Holy said.
"What should I look for?"
"Nothing," the Holy One said. "Just look."
"Anything your eyes alight upon," the Holy One said.
"Must I look in a special kind of way?"
"No," the Holy One said. "The ordinary way will do."
"But don't I always look the ordinary way?"
"No," the Holy One said. "You don't."
"Why ever not?" the disciple demanded.
"Because to look you must be here," the Holy One said. "You're mostly somewhere else."
Just as Benedict insisted in the Prologue to the rule, he requires at its end: We must learn to listen to what God is saying in our simple, sometimes insane and always uncertain daily lives. Bitter zeal is that kind of religious fanaticism that makes a god out of religious devotion itself. Bitter zeal walks over the poor on the way to the altar. Bitter zeal renders the useless invisible and makes devotion more sacred than community. Bitter zeal wraps us up in ourselves and makes us feel holy about it. Bitter zeal renders us blind to others, deaf to those around us, struck dumb in the face of the demands of dailiness. Good zeal, monastic zeal, commits us to the happiness of human community and immerses us in Christ and surrenders us to God, minute by minute, person by person, day after day after day. Good zeal provides the foundation for the spirituality of the long haul. It keeps us going when days are dull and holiness seems to be the stuff of more glamorous lives, of martyrdom and dramatic differences. But it is then, just then, when Benedict of Nursia reminds us from the dark of the sixth century that sanctity is the stuff of community in Christ and that any other zeal, no matter how dazzling it looks, is false. Completely false.
Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church. Dynamis is a project of the Education Committee of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.
Monday, April 30, 2007 Christ is Risen!
Apostle James, Brother of John the Theologian
Kellia: Deuteronomy 1:1-5 Apostle: Acts
Gospel: St. John 6:56-69
Explaining the Law: Deuteronomy 1:1-5 LXX, especially vs. 5: "Beyond
Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to declare this law." We turn
today from consideration of the Vigil readings for Pascha, passages that
we explored for nineteen days following Pascha, and we undertake a
course of readings through the fifth book of the Prophet Moses, that
"divinely instructed servant of God" (see Heb. 8:5; Rev. 15:3).
This book of the Bible, commonly called Deuteronomy, is not a second nor
a new Law given to the ancient People of God, although the word
translates from Greek as Second Law. Rather, it is an exposition of the
basic contents of the ancient covenant revelations found in the first
four books of Holy Scripture. This is the point made in the opening
quotation. Having served God in transmitting His Law to the People of
Israel, Moses undertakes in Deuteronomy to explain the Law, focusing on
its underlying spiritual principles. One might well characterize this
book as Moses' farewell address or deathbed instructions on the
The brief opening selection (vss. 1-5) gives the context for Moses'
explanations and exhortations that follow. The five verses 1) identify
where he gave the teaching, 2) provide a brief overview explaining how
Israel came to its present encampment, and 3) disclose when it was that
the Prophet gave these final teachings. The verses are significant
contextual notes for the careful reader who reflects on God's word -
i.e., who seeks the Lord's will for his life.
Jewish Rabbis and Christian scholars alike agree that most of the place
names, with the exception of the imprecise "beyond Jordan in the land of
Moab....in the desert towards the west near the Red Sea" (vss. 1,5),
seem to allude to critical locales dating back to the wilderness journey
of Israel over the forty years following their flight from Egypt.
Hence, "the Red Sea" appears to mean "Reed Sea," and refer to the
earliest stage of the flight from Egypt even before the crossing at the
Red Sea (compare Ex. 12:37 and Is. 19:1-6). Kadesh-barnea lies 50 miles
below Beer-sheba, a town far south in the Holy Land on the edge of the
Negev wilderness. Kadesh seems to have served as the headquarters for
the Israelites during most of their forty years of their time in the
desert (Num. 13:26-14:36; 32:8-12). Paran is the name of the desert
around Mt. Sinai (Num. 10:12) where God gave the Law. Tophel and Laban
apparently were specific locations within that region. Hazeroth was the
place of encampment in the Paran desert where Miriam and Aaron stumbled
in rebellion against Moses (Num. 12). Gold Works appears to refer to
the incident of the golden calf (see Ex. 32).
Today's reading states: "It is a journey of eleven days from Horeb to
Mount Seir as far as Kadesh Barnea." (Deut. 1:2). Horeb is the
alternate name for Mt. Sinai, which is far south in the Sinai
Peninsula. By proceeding northward parallel to the Gulf of Aqaba, one
comes into the ancient territory of Edom or Seir, which, on an east-west
plane, adjoins Kadesh-barnea and would be the eventual, final route of
the People as they continued north into Moab.
The mention that it was "the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on
the first day of the month" when "Moses spoke," alerts one to the fact
that these words were given at the end of the wilderness era, shortly
before God commissioned Joshua to assume leadership (Deut. 31:14-23),
and shortly before the Prophet Moses reposed. Deuteronomy is Moses'
final word to the People.
As we read through this last commentary on the Law for ancient Israel,
let us esteem in reverence the great Prophet who helped shape the
descendants of Israel into the People for God.
O Holy Prophet Moses, who led Israel through the Sea, gave them the Law
of God, and didst appear on Mt. Tabor with the Lord Jesus, intercede
with Christ our God to save our souls