Thursday, January 10, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/10/08 William Laud



O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant William Laud, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23); PM Psalm 147
Jer. 23:1-8; Col. 2:8-23; John 10:7-17

From Forward Day by Day:

Jeremiah 23:1-8. The LORD is our righteousness.

Recently I received a phone call from a woman whom I have not seen in several years. She is a sweet soul and has displayed leadership in her community. My friend now lives in the United States and works at a factory. She spoke of her journey from her homeland to Mexico, and then across the border and into the shadows. She is alone, cold, and sometimes fearful. She sends money to her four children who are living with her sister in Latin America. Nonetheless, she has faith, peace, and love in Christ. Indeed, I am in awe of her relationship with the Lord. It is a healthy, good, and right relationship with God.

A healthy relationship with God and the people of God is called righteousness. The Hebrew word for righteousness is the same as for the concept of justice. The prophets of old and many voices of today call us to this state of being and willingness to act in the name of the Lord. Justice occurs when everyone is treated fairly. My friend reminds me of a song by Tish Hinojosa entitled, "Las Marias." It is about anonymous women who do the work of the world. May all Marias (and Marios) point to a blessed way to relate to God and our neighbor.

Today we remember:

William Laud, archbishop & martyr
Psalm 73:24-29 or 16:5-11
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-14; Matthew 10:32-39

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Ahoada (The Niger Delta, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

William Laud

Daily Reading for January 10 • William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645

The ‘unity,’ then, ‘of the Spirit,’ to which the apostle exhorts, includes both; both concord in mind and affections, and love of charitable unity, which comes from the Spirit of God, and returns to it. And, indeed, the grace of God’s Spirit is that alone which makes men truly at peace and unity one with another. To Him it is to be attributed, not to us, saith Saint Augustine. It is ‘He that makes men to be of one mind in an house.’ Now one mind in the Church, and one mind in the State, come from the same fountain with ‘one mind in an house;’ all from ‘the Spirit.’ And so the Apostle clearly, ‘one body, and one Spirit,’ that is, ‘one body,’ by ‘one Spirit.’ For it is ‘the Spirit’ that joins all the members of the Church into ‘one body.’ And it is the Church that blesses the State, not simply with ‘unity,’ but with that unity with which itself is blessed of God. A State not Christian may have ‘unity’ in it. Yes; and so may a State that hath lost all Christianity, save the name. But ‘unity of the Spirit’ nor Church nor State can longer hold, than they do in some measure obey the ‘Spirit,’ and love the ‘unity.’

This ‘unity of the Spirit’ is closer than any corporal union can be; for spirits meet where bodies cannot, and nearer than bodies can. The reason is given by Saint Chrysostom: because the soul or spirit of man is more simple, and of one form. And the soul apter in itself to union is made more apt by the Spirit of God which is ‘one,’ and loves nothing but as it tends to one. Nay, as the Spirit of God is one, and cannot dissent from itself, no more ought they whom the Spirit hath joined in one; and the Spirit hath joined the Church in one; therefore he that divides the unity of the Church, practices against the ‘unity of the Spirit.’

And now I cannot but wonder what words Saint Paul, were he now alive, would use, to call back ‘unity’ into dismembered Christendom. For my part, death were easier to me, than it is to see and consider the face of the Church of Christ scratched and torn, till it bleeds in every part, as it doth this day.

From Sermons Before King Charles’s Third Parliament by William Laud, quoted in Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness, compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson, and Rowan Williams (Oxford, 2001).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Truly great dancers are those who make their partners look good. Like Fred Astaire.
— Melanie Svoboda in Rummaging for God

To Practice This Thought: Find ways in the dance of daily life to make your partner look good.
++++++++++ Reflections

Prayer of a soul enkindled with love. My Way is the way of trust and love.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


A greedy appetite for food is terminated by satiety and the
pleasure of drinking ends when our thirst is quenched. And so it
is with the other things. . . But the possession of virtue, once
it is solidly achieved, cannot be measured by time nor limited by
satiety. Rather, to those who are its disciples it always appears
as something ever new and fresh.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Growing Beyond Self-Rejection

One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection. When we say, "If people really knew me, they wouldn't love me," we choose the road toward darkness. Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God's eyes and that all we are is pure gift. To grow beyond self-rejection we must have the courage to listen to the voice calling us God's beloved sons and daughters, and the determination always to live our lives according to this truth.


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

Day Ten - The Third Aim

To live simply

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Guiding God
January 10th, 2008
Thursday’s Reflection

I HAVE SO MANY CHOICES facing me right now, Guiding God. … I listen for your voice.

I listen with an open heart. I trust that you will guide me to the right choice. In this trusting, I am going to move out in faith and open the doors in front of me. …

Ever-present God, the process of opening doors begins now. Please help me discern the best choice.

- Patricia F. Wilson
Quiet Spaces

From Quiet Spaces by Patricia F. Wilson. Copyright © 2002 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
What is it to be one part of the universal chain of being?

We are in a transitional time, a hopeful bridge-building generation. Maybe every age is. Most little people born onto this planet have known that they are first the children of their parents and the parents of their children. We always stand in-between. We hold hands tightly and gratefully and know that we must finally let go. That is the fate of all humans. It is humble, partial, a mere link in a universal chain of being. For most folks it has been enough, and it is amazing that we baby boomers ever thought it would be different for us.

All philosophy of progress, self-actualization and Yankee-can-do aside, we are overwhelmed by the amount of death and depression in our society. We are obviously mere tracings in a much larger history and a Mystery where only an Eternal God draws the final lines. That's not a copout; it's not denial. It's the most courageous "yes" a human being can offer. After wars for oil, catastrophic worldwide poverty and Churches that themselves run from the gospel, it might be the only yes that we can utter—and the only yes that will finally make a difference.

Let's try. It's the only life that we have on this planet. I am content to build bridges that the next generation might possibly walk on. I am happy and even freed to be part of a merely transitional generation.

from Radical Grace, "A Transitional Generation"

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

God made himself visible

The Word of God saw the firm hold that corruptibility had on us as the penalty for our transgression and that it would be monstrous for the law to come to nothing before ever having been fulfilled. He also saw the unseemliness of what was happening, of his own creatures ceasing to exist. He saw the excessive wickedness of the human race and how little by little it was mounting up against us and becoming intolerable. He saw that all human beings were subject to death.

Therefore, he had mercy on our race and in his pity for our weakness he descended to our corruptible condition. He could not allow death to have the mastery, for fear that creation should perish and his Father's work for the human race come to nothing. And so he took a body for himself, a body no different from ours. For he did not wish simply to become embodied and to make himself visible. If he had wished merely to become visible he could have manifested himself by means of some nobler instrument. But no; he took a human body, and took it moreover from a spotless, immaculate virgin, without the intervention of a man. He who is powerful and who created the whole universe fashioned for himself in the Virgin a body to be his temple, making it his own as the instrument through which he could be known and in which he could dwell.

Athanasius of Alexandria

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


"To open their eyes . . . that they may receive . . ." Acts 26:18

This verse is the grandest condensation of the propaganda of a disciple of Jesus Christ in the whole of the New Testament.

The first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the word - "that they may receive remission of sins." When a man fails in personal Christian experience, it is nearly always because he has never received anything. The only sign that a man is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our part as workers for God is to open men's eyes that they may turn themselves from darkness to light; but that is not salvation, that is conversion - the effort of a roused human being. I do not think it is too sweeping to say that the majority of nominal Christians are of this order; their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is one of the neglected factors in our preaching today. When a man is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.

Then there follows the second mighty work of grace - "an inheritance among them which are sanctified." In sanctification the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God's interest in other men.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 10, May 11, September 10
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Benedict puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of people in authority, but not all of it. Abbots and prioresses are to teach, to proclaim, but the community's responsibility is to listen and to respond.

Benedict wants a community that is led, but not driven.

The concept is clear: people are not acquitted of the responsibility for their own souls. Personal decisions are still decisions, personal judgments are still judgments, free will is still free will. Being in a family does not relieve a child of the responsibility to grow up. The function of twenty-one year olds is not to do life's tasks as their parents told them to do it when they were six years old. The function of twenty-one year olds is simply to do the same tasks well and to take accountability themselves for having done it.

Perhaps the most important result of a model of authority like this is the environment it creates. The monastery is not a royal court, a military barracks, or a detention home. The role of leadership is not to make lackeys, or foot soldiers or broken children out of adult Christians.

The purpose of Benedictine spirituality is to gather equally committed adults for a journey through earthen darkness to the dazzling light that already flames in each of us, but in a hidden place left to each of us to find.

The Rule's model of leadership and authority, then, is a paradigm for any relationship, husband and wife, parent and child, supervisor and employee. The function of authority is not to control the other; it is to guide and to challenge and to enable the other. Benedictine authority is a commitment to that, a promise of that.

A midrash on Genesis points out: "God prefers your deeds to your ancestors' virtues." We are not here simply to follow someone else. Being part of something good does not automatically make us good. What we do with our own lives is the measure of their value. We are here to learn to take ourselves in hand.

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

St. Luke 20:9-18 (1/10) For Thursday of the 33rd Week after
Pentecost (Thur 28th Week)

Love and Hate: St. Luke 20:9-18, especially vss. 15, 16: "Therefore what
will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy
those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others." The Lord Jesus'
final days in Jerusalem ended with His arrest, trial, Passion, and
Resurrection. For the Jews - the ancient "vineyard" and People of God -
as well as for the Lord Himself, those days were the defining moment of
their relationship. It was a time of incalculable love and vitriolic
hate. To help all men everywhere plumb the essence of the love and
hate, our gracious God and Savior speaks through the parable of the

During those epic, final days, and true to His nature, our loving Lord
defined the depth and breadth of love as never before imagined by angels
or by men. The response of the ancient People of God to Love Incarnate
was not clear-cut. There were members of ancient Israel who truly loved
the Lord and made every effort to follow Him - as well as they were
able. Love roused them to love in return; and, by the grace of God,
they discerned "the words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:68). They had "come
to believe and know that [He is] the Christ the Son of the living God"
(Jn. 6:69). These "believers," all of them Jews, and the core of the
New Israel, the Church, give us the Lord's words of life. It was in
following that they learned how "Blessed [is] the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us
again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead" (1 Pet. 1:3).

Quite opposite, there were those in the ancient Israel who refused to
receive the Lord, Jews who did not have the word of God "abiding" in
them. The Lord Jesus told them - warned them plainly, - "...I know you,
that you do not have the love of God in you" (Jn. 5:42), and worst of
all, " seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you" (Jn.
8:37). He addressed their hatred - a hatred straight out of Hell - in
the parable of the vinedressers: "You are of your father the devil, and
the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the
beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in
him" (Jn. 8:44).

We, the New Israel, believers in Christ who have lived through recent
history, know venomous hatred all too well, yet we have been blessed to
know incredible Love Himself, as did the early believers. And we have
seen Satan's terrible hate unleashed against the descendants of the
ancient people of God. As Christians, we have witnessed burning hatred
turned likewise upon Christians, murderously poured out on the Church.
The Devil ever promotes hatred in any heart that will grant him room.
Nonetheless, let us say, "Thanks be to God;" for this present time in
which the love of God still prevails over hate and new martyrs still
triumph over our ancient foe.

Be clear: the parable of the vinedressers does not teach anti-Semitism,
for iniquity springs from hate and the devil. Rather the parable warns
us to root out hatred from our hearts. The Lord took away the vineyard
from the ancient People of God and gave it to His new Israel. We are
the "others" to whom the Lord gave charge of His vineyard (vs. 16).
Have you never heard our Bishops say, "O God of hosts, return again; and
look down from heaven and behold, and visit this vine, And perfect that
which Thy right hand hath planted..." (Ps. 79:15,16 LXX)?

Observe: the Lord our God truly is a cornerstone of love (Lk. 20:17), as
St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches: "Now the sacred Scripture compares to a
cornerstone the gathering together, or joining of the two people, Israel
I mean, and the Gentiles, in sameness of sentiment and faith." The
Church, ancient and modern (including you), is joined to God in love to
overcome all hatred.

The Savior Who planted the vineyard and calls His laborers is near.
Come, let us receive our hire; for the Giver is rich, loving, and
merciful, even to those who have labored little.

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