Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/23/08


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.


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.

O everlasting God, you revealed truth to your servant Phillips Brooks, and so formed and molded his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom you call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in your Word, and conform their lives to your will; 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 38; PM Psalm 119:25-48
Gen. 9:18-29; Heb. 6:1-12; John 3:22-36

From Forward Day by Day:

Hebrews 6:1-12. We want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish.

In Spanish, the verb esperar, usually translated "to hope," can also mean "to wait." I have a contemplative friend who gets in the longer line at grocery stores and banks. She explains that this gives her more time to pray for her husband and sons. In choosing to wait, this dear soul acknowledges the close connection between waiting and hope. Much of life consists of waiting. Waiting makes some people anxious and angry, but for others, waiting is an occasion for prayer and hope.

There is a group of Hebrew verbs variously translated as "to hope," "to trust," and "to wait." In many cases, any of these three English words will fit the context of the Hebrew text. If we would "realize the full assurance of hope," we cannot be in a hurry, but must bide our time and fill that time with trust and prayer. To rush needlessly leads to cynicism, anger, burnout, and (as this text puts it) sluggishness.Whatever you're waiting for, wait expectantly and patiently--and be surprised by hope.

Today we remember:

Phillips Brooks:
Psalm 84:7-12 or 33:1-5,20-21
Ephesians 3:14-21; Matthew 24:24-2

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (British Columbia and the Yukon, Canada)

Speaking to the Soul:

In the way of love

Daily Reading for January 23 • Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893

I find myself pitying the friends of my youth, who died when we were twenty-five years old, because whatever may be the richness of the life to which they have gone, and in which they have been living ever since, they never can know that particular manifestation of Christ which He makes to us here on earth, at each successive period of our human life. All experience comes to be but more and more of pressure of His life on ours. It cannot come by one flash of light, or one great convulsive event. It comes without haste and without rest in this perpetual living of our life with Him. And all the history, of outer or inner life, of the changes of circumstances, or the changes of thought, gets its meaning and value from this constantly growing relation to Christ.

I cannot tell you how personal this grows to me. He is here. He knows me and I know Him. It is no figure of speech. It is the realest thing in the world. And every day makes it realer. And one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.

Less and less, I think, grows the consciousness of seeking God. Greater and greater grows the certainty that He is seeking us and giving Himself to us to the complete measure of our present capacity. That is Love,--not that we loved Him, but that He loved us. I am sure that we ought to dwell far more upon God's love for us than on our love for Him. There is such a thing as putting ourselves in the way of God's overflowing love and letting it break upon us till the response of love to Him comes, not by struggle, not even by deliberation, but by necessity, as the echo comes when the sound strikes the rock.

From Life and Letters of Phillips Brooks, 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

We must love them both —
Those whose opinions we share,
Those whose opinions we don't share.
They've both labored in the search for Truth
and have both helped us in finding it.
— Thomas Aquinas quoted in Imagining the Sacred by Vernon Ruland

To Practice This Thought: Make a list of people you agree and disagree with and then contemplate it with love.
++++++++++ Reflections

The soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, I.1

Reading from the Desert Christians


For those who believe in Him, Christ will become all this and even
more, beyond enumeration, not only in the age to come but first i
this life, and then in the world to come. Thou in an obscure way
here below and in a perfect manner in the Kingdom, those who
believe see clearly nonetheless and receive as of now the
first-fruits of everything they will have in the future life.
Indeed, if they do not receive on earth everything that was
promised to them, they do not have any part of foretaste of the
blessings to come, their higher hope being set on the hereafter.
However, it is through death and the resurrection that God in His
foresight has given us the Kingdom, incorruptibility, the totality
of life eternal. Given these conditions, we unquestionably become
partakers of the good things to come, that is, incorruptible,
immortal, sons of God, sons of the light and of the day,
inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven, since we carry the Kingdom

St. Symeon the New Theologian

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Voice in the Garden of Solitude

Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an easy place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, "Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness."

Let's keep returning to our solitude.

Weekly Merton Reflection from the Merton Institute

I must get to know something of modern physics. Even though I am a monk, that is no reason for living in a Newtonian universe or, worse still, an Aristotelian one. The fact that the cosmos is not quite what St. Thomas and Dante imagined it to be has after all some importance. It does not invalidate St. Thomas or Dante or Catholic theology, but it ought to be understood and taken into account by a theologian. It is futile to try and live in an expanding universe with atomic fission an ever present possibility and try to think and act exclusively as if the cosmos were fixed in an immutable order centered upon man's earth. Modern physics has its repercussions in the monastery and to be a monk one must take them into account, although that does nothing whatever to make one's spirituality either simple or neat.

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 132

Thought for the Day

One must get along without the security of neat and simple, ready-made solutions. There are things one has to think out, all over again, for oneself.

A Search for Solitude: 132

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

Day Twenty Three - The First Note, cont'd

Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits the fact of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. It is the basis of all Christian virtues. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, "No spiritual house can stand for a moment except on the foundation of humility." It is the first condition of a joyful life within any community.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Change My Heart
January 23rd, 2008
Wednesday's Reflection

O GOD, CHANGE my heart. Transform the attitudes from which my actions grow that I may honor you and others in my daily interactions. Amen.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Upper Room Disciplines 2007

From p. 233 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2007. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
What happens when we fall in love with God?

We prostituted Christianity when we told our people they had to "save their souls." That attitude often affirmed the ego "spiritually", which is very dangerous and deceptive. We called it the journey into holiness, but it was often disguised and denied self-interest.

Saving one's soul and falling in love with God are two very different journeys. Because we told our people to save their souls, they got into spiritual consumerism, gathering sacraments, holy works, ascetical practices—all affirming the false self. Now we've got these big Christian egos walking around, who are very self-protective, satisfied and conservative in the wrong way. Conversion is not on their agenda. Every preacher or teacher knows what I'm talking about.

An unhealthy conservatism is incapable of exodus, of risk, of passion, and, therefore, perhaps incapable of the living God.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

The gift of the Holy Spirit

When the Creator of the universe conceived the magnificent plan of gathering up all things in Christ and restoring human nature to its original condition, he promised that along with all his other gifts he would once more give us the Holy Spirit. This was the only way for us to regain secure possession of God's blessings. By God's decree the time for this descent of the Spirit upon us was to concur with the coming of Christ. God gave his word that in those days—by which he meant the days of our Savior—he would pour out his Spirit upon the whole human race.

So it was that when the time for this great act of generosity arrived and brought God's only Son into our midst in human flesh, a man born of a woman as holy scripture says, God the Father began at once again to give the Spirit. The first to receive the Spirit was Christ, since he was the firstfruits of our renewed nature. John bore witness to this when he said: I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven, and it rested on him.

Cyril of Alexandria

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


"We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image." 2 Corinthians 3:18

The outstanding characteristic of a Christian is this unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives. By being filled with the Spirit we are transformed, and by beholding we become mirrors. You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord's own character. Beware of anything which would sully that mirror in you; it is nearly always a good thing, the good that is not the best.

The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else - work, clothes, food, everything on earth - go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to. The severest discipline of a Christian's life is to learn how to keep "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord."

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 23, May 24, September 23
Chapter 5: On Obedience

But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
and murmurs,
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.

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

St. Mark 8:30-34 (1/23) For Wed of the 35th Week after Pentecost
(Wed of the 30th Week)

The Faith to Follow: St. Mark 8:30-34, especially vs. 31: "...and He
began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be
rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and
after three days rise again." This reading from St. Mark straddles the
two major portions of his Gospel. It separates the account of the Lord
Jesus' early ministry (1:1-8:30) from His final disputes with the
religious leadership, His Passion, and Resurrection (8:31-16:20). Read
these verses with this transition in mind.

The verses immediately preceding the reading record a discussion
concerning our Lord Jesus' identity (Mk. 8:27-29), and concludes with
the disciple Peter's confession (vs. 29). The Lord then directs His
disciples to "tell no one about Him" (vs. 30). Next, He teaches them
about His Passion, the Resurrection, as well as the cost of discipleship
- the primary subject of today's reading and the predominating theme
throughout the remainder of St. Mark's narrative.

The new teaching that the Lord introduced at this point was at least
sobering: "...the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by
the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three
days rise again" (vs. 31). This instruction was first given to the
disciples, but very soon after to the crowds (vss. 32,34), as the word
"openly" suggests.

In the wording of His declaration, the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself
ambiguously. The term, "the Son of Man," could serve either as a title
or simply could be a common Semitic way of referring to one's self.
Whichever the Lord intended, "Son of Man," effectively kept His
Messianic "secret" from the crowds. While suppressing His identity as
the Christ publicly, He allowed the disciples to "digest" two truths:
both His identity as the Messiah and His coming Passion.

Still, the crowds heard the Lord Jesus say that He was going to suffer,
die, and rise on the third day. It seems that the Lord was preparing
both His disciples and the multitudes for the reality of a suffering
Messiah, One Who would embrace suffering and death before triumphing.

Along with the new information of what lay ahead there was a warning:
the Lord Jesus' followers should also expect necessarily to take up
their own personal crosses (vs. 34). To follow our Lord still entails a
readiness to suffer with Him and for Him.

Try to understand what "the faith to follow" means for those facing
martyrdom: trusting Him requires living as He directs and without
compromise. At times, that may mean not bending even when faced with
threats of death. The Church has a glorious history of such witnesses.
"Faith to follow" likewise has produced a radiant company of
"confessors" who have suffered, but not unto death. Still, there is the
suffering that every disciple accepts by following in faith.

Holy Tradition affirms the necessity of a "suffering of the heart" for
every follower. This is the suffering of contrition, the "joyful
sorrow" of repentance, the heart of the Orthodox Christian life.
Metropolitan Vlachos is quite frank about the importance of such pain
for all Christians: "A Christian life without pain is bogus. Pain of
the heart is essential for salvation."

Whether your suffering is physical, psychological, or spiritual, God
receives it on "His holy, most heavenly and ideal altar," as St. Paul
appeals to you: "We have an altar" and a "sanctuary" and a "high priest
for sin....Jesus" Who sanctifies His "people with His own
blood....Therefore let us go forth to Him"(Heb. 13:10-13). The present
"comfort culture" encourages you to soothe pain and flee suffering. St.
John Chrysostom, himself a Confessor, observed that "by their trials the
righteous flourished. For the soul is purified when it is afflicted for
God's sake." The faith that follows Christ will suffer to bring forth
the priceless fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:22, 23).

O Christ our God, help us be bold to deny ourselves and to follow Thee
in faith.


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