Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/22/08



Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, your deacon Vincent, upheld by you, was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 26, 28; PM Psalm 36, 39
Gen. 9:1-17; Heb. 5:7-14; John 3:16-21

From Forward Day by Day:

John 3:16-21. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

"3:16." It could become a sound bite. It may have begun with the fellow with the rainbow Afro in the early 1980s. He would sit at media-strategic seats in stadiums and hold a sign, "John 3:16." This earnest yet troubled soul received his fifteen minutes of fame and then some. Then in the 1990s a born-again Christian wrestler quoted the Bible before matches. One of his favorites was John 3:16. An opponent reacted to what he felt was pious self-righteousness and started quoting Austin 3:16. The mantra that followed did not even resemble the text of the gospel.

So, what does John 3:16 say? It says that God has acted for the entire world. The Son of God has come and died for us. Jesus has given us fullness of life. This fullness implies ecstatic joy, perfect freedom, and blessed giftedness. We are offered life in Christ.

May we hear and cherish these sounds of the Lord.

Today we remember:

Psalm 31:1-5 or 116:10-17
Revelation 7:13-17; Luke 12:4-12

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the The Church of Bangladesh and the Diocese of Dhaka

Speaking to the Soul:

Defending the faith

Daily Reading for January 22 • Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa and Martyr, 304

Another early deacon with close ties to his bishop was Vincent of Saragossa, martyred on 22 January 304. Vincent was not only the eyes and ears of his bishop, but literally his mouth. Because Valerius stuttered badly, Vincent often preached for him. According to legend, they were arrested by the governor of Spain, threatened with torture and death, and pressured to renounce their faith. Vincent said, “Father, if you order me, I will speak.” Valerius replied, “Son, as I have committed you to dispense the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend.” Vincent defied the governor and was tortured to death. . . .

Scholars may question the historical accuracy of these legends about Laurence and Vincent, Apollonia and Thekla, and other early martyrs, but they tell us a good deal about deacons in the early church. They stood close to their bishop, they brought help to the poor and brought the word to the people, and they held the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, even to death.

From Many Servants: An Introduction to Deacons by Ormonde Plater (Cowley Publications, 1991).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

To stay in one place and watch the seasons come and go is tantamount to constant travel; one is traveling with the earth.
— Marguerite Yourcenar quoted in Unexpected Miracles by David Richo

To Practice This Thought: Relish the changing landscape of the place where you live
++++++++++ Reflections

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for
us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives,
above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great
attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out
to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back
empty' to our bosom.

Martyrius of Edessa

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Community Supported by Solitude

Solitude greeting solitude, that's what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect, and reverently greet one another's aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our center and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community.

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

Day Twenty Two - The First Note -


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples' feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

The State of Our Spirit
January 22nd, 2008
Tuesday’s Reflection

I DON’T IMAGINE God expects us always to respond calmly and lovingly, but I’ve come to believe God wants us to develop awareness of the state of our spirit, for our own sake and the sake of others. And I’ve come to know that God can begin molding any spirit, however cranky, toward better ends than we would devise for ourselves.

- Robert Corin Morris
Wrestling with Grace

From p. 11 of Wrestling with Grace: A Spirituality for the Rough Edges of Daily Life by Robert Corin Morris. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
Do we have to know sin to know salvation?

We don't think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. The journeys around the edges of sin lead us to long for a deeper life at the center of ourselves.

Ruthless ambition can lead one to the very failure and emptiness that is the point of conversion. Is the ambition, therefore, good or is it evil? Do we really have to sin to know salvation? Call me a "sin mystic," but that is exactly what I see happening in all my pastoral experience: Darkness leads us to light.

That does not mean that we should set out intentionally to sin. We only see the pattern after the fact. Blessed Julian of Norwich put it perfectly: "Commonly, first we fall and later we see it—and both are the Mercy of God." How did we ever lose that? It got hidden away in that least celebrated but absolutely central Easter Vigil service when the deacon sings to the Church about a felix culpa, the happy fault that precedes and necessitates the eternal Christ. Like all great mysteries of faith, it is hidden except to those who keep vigil and listen.

from Radical Grace, "Center and Circumference"

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


The same honor, the same latreutic worship that is paid to the divinity is paid to the humanity as well, inasmuch as it subsists in the divinity. And therefore God cannot confer a greater dignity upon a human being than to give it a share in the veneration due to himself. As Saint John Damascene explains how latreutic worship can be paid to a creature: "As a lighted piece of charcoal is not simply wood but wood united to fire, so the flesh of Christ is not mere flesh but flesh united to the Godhead." In that passage he speaks therefore of the flesh of Christ as divinized; because of this divinization there is a sharing in the honor and veneration due to God.

The eternal Word willed to stoop to such great poverty, in order that he might enrich us abundantly with heavenly gifts. Should one reflect on the manner in which he enriched us, one would find it wonderful indeed, since he enriched us by his poverty and endowed us out of his indigence.

Henry of Friemar, O.S.A

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


"Look unto Me, and be ye saved." Isaiah 45:22

Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says - Look unto Me, and be saved. The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect - Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ. "Look unto Me."

Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God. There is no salvation in this way, it is not simple enough. "Look unto Me" and - not "you will be saved," but "you are saved." The very thing we look for, we shall find if we will concentrate on Him. We get preoccupied and sulky with God, while all the time He is saying - "Look up and be saved." The difficulties and trials - the casting about in our minds as to what we shall do this summer, or to-morrow, all vanish when we look to God.

Rouse yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter if there are a hundred and one things that press, resolutely exclude them all and look to Him. "Look unto Me," and salvation is, the moment you look.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 22, May 23, September 22
Chapter 5: On Obedience

The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
This is the virtue of those
who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
who, because of the holy service they have professed,
and the fear of hell,
and the glory of life everlasting,
as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
receive it as a divine command
and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
Of these the Lord says,
"As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
And again to teachers He says,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).

Such as these, therefore,
immediately leaving their own affairs
and forsaking their own will,
dropping the work they were engaged on
and leaving it unfinished,
with the ready step of obedience
follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
And so as it were at the same moment
the master's command is given
and the disciple's work is completed,
the two things being speedily accomplished together
in the swiftness of the fear of God
by those who are moved
with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
of which the Lord says,
"Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
so that,
not living according to their own choice
nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
but walking by another's judgment and command,
they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
in which He says,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).

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

St. Mark 8:22-26 (1/22) For Tues of the 35th Week after Pentecost (Tues
of the 30th Week)

Cultivating Faith: St. Mark 8:22-26, especially vss. 24, 25: "And he looked
up and said, 'I see men like trees, walking.' Then He put His hands on his
eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone
clearly." It is a truism that emotional and spiritual dependency on
tangible signs and wonders destroys the possibility of faith in the Lord.
Today's Gospel and the one for tomorrow both touch on different aspects of
faith in Christ and are a help in exploring what it means to have faith in
the Lord Jesus.

Today's Gospel is the account of a blind man whom the Lord Jesus healed in
stages. The man's relationship with the Lord reveals growth in faith as an
incremental process. At first, the blind man needed only a tiny bit of
trust in Christ - permitting others to bring him near the Lord. See how
being healed from the grim darkness of sin - against which we all struggle -
requires letting the Lord lead us beyond the secure and familiar to enlarge
our faith.

See the blessing: if we take risks with the Lord's help, He heals our doubt.
He assists us in taking little steps, for a tiny risk brings greater faith.
How does this happen? The Lord's pure light within enables us to see as
never before. Still, as the Gospel shows, the sight we gain is incomplete
because we are limited - being both finite and sinful. The blessing is
that the Lord never ceases to cultivate faith within us. He presses on to
establish, purify, adorn, and enlighten.

Another miracle occurs when our gracious God illumines the eyes of our
hearts: our vision of others grows increasingly clearer. Such enlightenment
may disturb, even astound us. It may leave us uncertain. Yet, the Lord
thereby creates a new opportunity for faith in Him. What are we to do with
our new insight into others? Go back to old relationships that are
familiar, spend our time with those who formerly made us feel at ease, or
shall we turn toward "home"? Like the blind man, the Lord tells us to "go
home," but for us that means to enter into the Holy Community of the
Faithful where men and women "...worship [Him] in spirit and in truth" (Jn.

Faith, at each step, is a free act on our part. We agree to come to Him.
It may seem initially to be other humans that we trust: parents, friends, a
spouse, a wise and loving Pastor, the friendship of people in a parish. We
do not see clearly at first. In time, however, we discover that truly it
was the Lord Jesus Whom we trusted, shining through the Faithful. Through
participation in the life of the Church, we come face to face with the Lord
Jesus Himself.

In this passage, the Evangelist tells us, "...He took the blind man by the
hand and led him out of the town" (Mk. 8:23). Think of the situation of the
blind man. In town he had a certain security provided by his senses:
familiar smells, sounds, touch, and the words of others. The Lord, however,
led him out of town so that he had to depend entirely on Him with no
familiar supports. Do you see? Healing and illumination as an Orthodox
Christian means leaving the familiar, abandoning our natural, comfortable
ways of thinking in order to receive new visions of truth and reality. St.
Clement of Alexandria says that we must "fling ourselves upon the majesty of
Christ," and He most certainly will take us to faith, beyond what has been

Finally, note that Orthodoxy affirms that we are blind and do not see
perfectly even when the Lord heals one or another aspect of our lives. The
life in Christ is a process of continuing growth in faith. We pray, receive
the Holy Mysteries, study Scripture and the Fathers, and His light grows
within us. He continues to take us beyond the familiar, to heal us in small
steps as we are able to bear the Light, and then He sends us back home into
our Church community.

To Thee I come, O Christ, blinded in my soul's eyes, crying unto Thee in
repentance, "Thou art the Light of transcendent radiance to those who are in


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