Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/12/08


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, 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.

Pour into our hearts, O God, the Holy Spirit's gift of love, that we, clasping each the other's hand, may share the joy of friendship, human and divine, and with your servant Aelred draw many to your community of love; through Jesus Christ the Righteous, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm, 98, 99, [100]
Gen. 49:1-2, 8-12; Col. 3:18—4:6; John 15:1-16

From Forward Day by Day:

John 15:1-16. You are my friends...

The warmth of friendship brings satisfaction and joy to the soul. Friends come in many shapes and sizes. My friends include women and men who began a relationship with me as early as first grade and as recently as a few years ago. I count on my friends to be honest and helpful. The Beatles sing, "I get by with a little help from my friends." The book of Proverbs states, "A true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin." The philosopher Aristotle wrote that a "friend is another self." Mutuality, respect, and interdependence are keys in a lasting and growing friendship.

It was an honor to the disciples that Jesus called them friends. They were beloved ones to our Lord. Perhaps the disciples were haunted by the thought of friendship with Jesus. They had witnessed signs, teachings, and the authority of Jesus. Friendship with Jesus meant repentance and risk. It could lead to their humiliation and death. Ultimately these friends of Jesus received resurrection and redemption in Christ.

Jesus says, "I am the true vine." A vine connects, gives life, and multiplies. May our friendships be a vineyard of many flavors. May the wine of friendship lead to celebration. May knowing Christ be the source of all friendships in God's Holy Name.

Today we remember:

Psalm 36:5-10 or 145:8-13
Philippians 2:1-4; John 15:9-17 or Mark 12:28-34a

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Akoko (Ondo, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

Aelred of Rievaulx

Daily Reading for January 12 • Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167

When God created man, in order to commend more highly the good of society, he said: “it is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a helper like unto himself.” It was from no similar, nor even from the same, material that divine Might formed this help mate, but as a clearer inspiration to charity and friendship he produced the woman from the very substance of the man. How beautiful it is that the second human being was taken from the side of the first, so that nature might teach that human beings are equal and, as it were, collateral, and that there is in human affairs neither a superior nor an inferior, a characteristic of true friendship.

Hence, nature from the very beginning implanted the desire for friendship and charity in the heart of man, a desire which an inner sense of affection soon increased with a taste of sweetness. But after the fall of the first man, when with the cooling of charity concupiscence made secret inroads and caused private good to take precedence over the common weal, it corrupted the splendor of friendship and charity through avarice and envy, introducing contentions, emulations, hates and suspicions because the morals of men had been corrupted. From that time the good distinguished between charity and friendship, observing that love ought to be extended even to the hostile and perverse, while no union of will and ideas can exist between the good and wicked. And so friendship which, like charity, was first preserved among the all by all, remained according to the natural law among the few good. They saw the sacred laws of faith and society violated by many and bound themselves together by a closer bond of love and friendship. In the midst of the evils which they saw and felt, they rested in the joy of mutual charity.

From Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx (Cistercian Publications, 1977).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Without doing anything, things can sometimes go more smoothly just because of our peaceful presence. In a small boat when a storm comes, if one person remains solid and calm, others will not panic and the boat is more likely to stay afloat.
— Thich Nhat Hanh in Love in Action

To Practice This Thought: In the morning make the intention that you will be the solid and calm one in your family or workplace today.
++++++++++ Reflections

Our most holy King has much more to give: He would rejoice to do nothing but give could He find souls capable of receiving.
St Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


He who really keeps account of his actions considers as lost every
day in which he does not mourn, whatever good he may have done in

St. John of the Ladder

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)
The Spiritual Work of Gratitude

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.

Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

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

Day Twelve - The Third Aim, cont'd

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependents. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus' challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

God, Our First Friend
January 12th, 2008
Saturday’s Reflection

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be a friend of God? … The mystics joyfully remind us that we are born from God; we live in God; and we return to God. Certainly we know this is true as we watch an orange-red sun drop beneath the edge of the ocean or witness a newborn kicking his tiny feet in the air. But so often these miracles of life are dimmed by distraction and busyness. We find ourselves stuck in the rut of the familiar. Our first Friend, God, may even seem far away.

- Stephanie Ford
Hungering for God

From p. 88 of Hungering for God: Selected Writings of Augustine by Stephanie Ford. Copyright © 2006 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 surrender to Holy Mystery?

We can only play the prophet within the admitted and chosen realm of mystery. Who could have foreseen the miracle of Vatican II in the humdrum of 1958? Could reason or futurism have concluded the cultural shift that took place somewhere in the mid-1960’s? Who would have predicted the seeming reactionary era of the 1990’s—both in Church and state? Is there any possibility that this maddening rhythm is actually a part of the Holy Mystery? Oh, I want us to use our minds, our will, our spiritual intuition to plot and plan for what we think must be God’s future and God’s plan. But I can only trust that seeing and foreseeing in those who have first surrendered to the Holy Mystery. Otherwise we will have only more of what we already have too much of: willfulness and ego-centered determination calling itself the new age of the Spirit.

Have no doubt, brothers and sisters of the faith, that cannot be the best of the American Church or any Church. In that house there is too much of the privatized, eccentric self to ever perceive the true Master of the house. True surrender must precede the search. It is surrender that finally generates the search. I do not trust the search without surrender. As Yahweh said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Have you ever in your life given orders to the morning or sent the dawn to its post?” (Job 38:4, 12, JB). Is Yahweh talking to Job or to us?

from “The Future of the American Church”

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

You possess nothing that you have not received

God is glorified among us when we grow in love and compassion, when we carry out his commands and persevere in doing his will; these are the ways in which he is glorified. Now we know that the Lord has been sent to us as our redeemer, our life, and our healing, bringing us his loving mercy and grace beyond all our deserts. So when we see ourselves lifted up from the dust of the earth to receive a heavenly prize, let all of us believers be glad of heart and rejoice, and, as living souls raised up from the dead, let each one of us seek the Lord.

What return shall we make to the Lord for such blessings? All we can do is to bow our heads and beat our breasts, saying with the publican: O God, be merciful to me a sinner! Rejoice, then, my friends, at these great gifts of his, exult in such great blessings! Take care not to ascribe to yourselves the good things you have received from him, for if you do, you will lose what you have. You must be convinced that you possess nothing that you have not received. And if you have received it, do not boast as though you had not. If you keep to this rule the gifts you have received will be preserved among you, and anything you now lack will be granted to you in full.

The Latin Chrysostomos

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


"When they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples." Mark 4:34

Our Solitude with Him. Jesus does not take us alone and expound things to us all the time; He expounds things to us as we can understand them. Other lives are parables. God is making us spell out our own souls. It is slow work, so slow that it takes God all time and eternity to make a man and woman after His own purpose. The only way we can be of use to God is to let Him take us through the crooks and crannies of our own characters. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harbouring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage?

We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves, it is the last conceit to go. The only One Who understands us is God. The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit. If we have ever had a glimpse of what we are like in the sight of God, we shall never say - "Oh, I am so unworthy," because we shall know we are, beyond the possibility of stating it. As long as we are not quite sure that we are unworthy, God will keep narrowing us in until He gets us alone. Wherever there is any element of pride or of conceit, Jesus cannot expound a thing. He will take us through the disappointment of a wounded pride of intellect, through disappointment of heart. He will reveal inordinate affection - things over which we never thought He would have to get us alone. We listen to many things in classes, but they are not an exposition to us yet. They will be when God gets us alone over them.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 12, May 13, September 12
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Let her make no distinction of persons in the monastery.
Let her not love one more than another,
unless it be one whom she finds better
in good works or in obedience.
Let her not advance one of noble birth
ahead of one who was formerly a slave,
unless there be some other reasonable ground for it.
But if the Abbess for just reason think fit to do so,
let her advance one of any rank whatever.
Otherwise let them keep their due places;
because, whether slaves or free, we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)
and bear in equal burden of service
in the army of the same Lord.
For with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11).
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight:
if we be found better than others in good works and humility.
Therefore let the Abbess show equal love to all
and impose the same discipline on all
according to their deserts.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

If Benedict of Nursia was anything, he was not a pious romantic. He knew the Gospel and he knew life and he set out to bring the two together.

In one paragraph of this chapter, he shapes a completely new philosophy of authority, in another paragraph he hints at a different philosophy of religious life and in this one he rejects, out of hand, the common social structures of the period. In his communities, slave and free are equal as the gospels demand.

This is the Jesus life. What is insane in the streets is common coin here. What is madness to politicians is life breath here. What is unheard of in nice company is taken for granted here. Here people are ranked in the order in which they came to the group--not by education, not by money, not by social status but simply according to the moment they came to Christ. There is, as a result, no rank at all and this is very disconcerting to a world that loves uniforms and titles and knowing people who are in Who's Who.

But do not be misled. Benedict is a realist, not a feckless libertarian. There are differences among us and he recognizes those. There is a kind of natural hierarchy of gifts. Some of us are business people and some of us are not. Some of us are musicians and some are not. Some of us are leaders and some are not. The question is not whether or not some of us should be put over others of us. The question is how we get there and why we're put there.

Here Benedict draws another sharp contrast with life as we know it. The monastic life, the spiritual life, is not a life dedicated to climbing and clawing to the top. The monastic mind is not set on politicking or groveling. Abbots and prioresses, good leaders anywhere, are not in the business of forming kitchen cabinets or caucuses.

No, favoritism and intrigue are not the mint of the monastic mindset, commitment is.

Benedict doesn't just want a business manager who can make money for the monastery. He doesn't want workers for their productivity only. He doesn't take for leaders simply those who know how to control a group or build a business. Whom Benedict wants appointed to positions of responsibility are people who are distinguished "in goods works and obedience," in "good works and humility." It is a model for leadership in those places where profit and power and the party line take precedence over what the business or the diocese or the social service agency proclaims it is about.

He does not want people in positions simply to get a job done. He wants people in positions who embody why we bother to do the job at all. He wants holy listeners who care about the effect of what they do on everybody else.
Imagine a world that was run by holy listeners.

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

St. Matthew 4:1-11 (1/12) The
Saturday after the Feast of Theophany

Purpose Of Temptation: St. Matthew 4:1-11, especially vs. 1: "Then Jesus
was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the
devil." Even the Lord Jesus was tempted. Why? St. John Chrysostom
notes: "...He endures also to be led up thither, and to wrestle against
the devil: in order that each of those who are baptized, if after his
baptism he have to endure greater temptations, may not be troubled as if
the result were unexpected...." St. Seraphim of Sarov warns us of the
same: "We must always be attentive to the assaults of the devil; for can
we hope that he will leave us without temptation, when he did not leave
our Founder and Source of faith and Perfecter, the Lord Jesus Christ

Temptation is our human lot (1 Cor. 10:13). But observe, Beloved: the
Lord Jesus had a greater purpose in undergoing temptation than merely to
remove the surprise of it. As the great Commander of the armies in
heaven (Rev. 19:14), He aims at our survival in combat. Therefore we
must be alert to "watch our flank." And more: the Lord went into the
desert to be tempted because He desires that each disciple understand
how and when temptations are going to come.

Surprisingly, the Gospel lesson teaches us that temptations will come to
the Faithful just as they did to the Lord Himself, at the leading of the
Holy Spirit (Mt. 4:1). The Spirit often drives Christians into the
struggle against the whispering of the prowler. Why? St. John
Chrysostom says, " teach thee that thou art become much stronger"
by being a Christian, and "...that thou mayest continue modest, neither
be exalted...that thou mayest in this way be made stronger and better
tempered than any steel...[and] that thou mayest obtain a clear
demonstration of the treasures entrusted to thee." On the other hand,
what of temptation for the non-Christian? With the secularist and those
of other religions, temptation is barely significant. They are already
under the management of the enemy, and so they blithefully pursue what
the devil provides.

Temptation comes when we are isolated (vs. 1). As St. Theophylact says
of the Lord, "He is led into the wilderness to show us that the devil
tempts you when he sees us alone and without help from others.
Therefore we must not put our trust in ourselves without any counsel
from others." The foul one caught Eve when she was apart from Adam. So
St. John Chrysostom suggests that we flock "...together continually,
that we may not be open to the devil's attacks."

Temptation comes to us because we are honored by God in the Holy Mystery
of the Faith. The Lord rose from His Baptism (Mt. 3:16). The Spirit
came upon Him (Mt. 3:16), and the Father glorified Him: "This is My
Beloved Son" (Mt. 3:17). Remember, the great honor is ours. We have
been joined to Christ. We died and rose with Him from the Holy waters.
We have been sealed as His Own forever with the Holy Spirit. He has fed
us with His Holy Gifts. The devil is mad with rage and envy that we are
honored. He wills to cheat us of our heritage.

Temptation also comes when we have been deprived or demeaned. The
devil's name, "Diabolus," means "slanderer." So, he suggests to Christ
"If You are the Son of God" (Mt. 4:3), insinuating that the Lord was
abandoned. "Thou art washed" in the name of the Holy Trinity, not
abandoned. Never trust "feelings" of abandonment. "God is the Lord, He
hath shown us light!"

Temptation to turn from God also comes through the allure of power,
riches, and this world's tangible pleasures (Mt. 4:8). The devil paints
the picture beautifully to arouse our passions, stir us up and lead us
to fall. He offers bread made from stones when we are hungry! (cf.: Mt.
4:3). A fast track to fame, the world at our feet, and no Cross.
Beware, O my soul!

Blessed is my God, and let the God of my salvation be exalted. O my
Deliverer from enemies...from them that arise up against me wilt Thou
lift me high. (Ps. 17:47,48 LXX)



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