Friday, January 25, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/25/08


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 God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 31; PM Psalm 35
Gen. 11:27-12:8; Heb. 7:1-17; John 4:16-26

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 26:9-21. Why are you persecuting me?

The rock group R.E.M. has a song called, "Everybody Hurts." On several levels it is a painful reminder that suffering is a part of life. To live in this world is to hurt. To inflict hurt on someone is a double hurt, for that person and oneself.

Saul hurt people. He rationalized persecution of those who differed from his views by invoking God's Name. Then Saul encountered the Lord Christ. His personal hurt became a source of healing among nations. Note that even his name changed to Paul. The vulnerable personality traits that made him a rabid terrorist are curiously similar to the characteristics that allowed him to become an effective missionary. All hurts become sources of healing and grace.

Let our hurts be healed. Let goofs become grace. Let persecutions of any kind be converted into a perfect work in the name of Christ.

When suffering is inevitable, the Christian puts it to good use. There is a wonderful compensation by which physical evil, if humbly accepted, conquers moral evil. It purifies the soul, spurs it on and detaches it. Finally, acting as a sacrament acts, it effects a mysterious union between the faithful soul and the suffering Christ.
--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (d. 1955)

Today we remember:

Conversion of St. Paul:
AM Psalm 19; Isaiah 45:18-25; Philppians 3:4b-11
PM Psalm 119:89-112; Ecclesiasticus 39:1-10; Acts 9:1-22

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Antananarivo (Indian Ocean)

Speaking to the Soul:

Prayer for unity

Daily Reading for January 25 • The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

We have come together in the presence of Almighty God to pray for the recovery of the unity of Christ’s Church, and for the renewal of our common life in Jesus Christ in whom we are all made one.


Let us give heed to the words of Holy Scripture which set forth God’s will and purpose for the unity of his Church.

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Lord, write your word in our hearts:
That we may know and do your will.

“There is one body, and one Spirit, as there is also one hope held out in God’s call to you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Lord, write your word in our hearts:
That we may know and do your will.

“For Christ is like a single body with its many limbs and organs which, many as they are, together make up one body. For indeed we were all brought into one body by baptism, in the one Spirit, whether we are Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and that one Holy Spirit was poured out for all of us to drink.”
Lord, write your word in our hearts:
That we may know and do your will.

“But it is not for these alone that I pray, but for those also who through their words put their faith in me; may they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Lord, write your word in our hearts:
That we may know and do your will. Amen.

A litany for The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Prayers for Today’s Church, quoted in The Wideness of God’s Mercy: Litanies to Enlarge Our Prayer, revised and updated edition, compiled and adapted by Jeffery Rowthorn with W. Alfred Tisdale. Copyright © 2007. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

You can heartfully evoke the Billy Joel mantra: "I love you just the way you are."
— Dean Sluyter in Why the Chicken Crossed the Road and Other Hidden Enlightenment Teachings from the Buddha to Bebop to Mother Goose

To Practice This Thought: Create a mantra from another song lyric.
++++++++++ Reflections

There are times when we are wearied with travelling, and the Lord grants our faculties tranquillity and our soul quiet, and while they are in that state, He gives us a clear understanding of the nature of the gifts he bestows on those whom He brings to His kingdom.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way, 30.6

Reading from the Desert Christians


No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the
afflictions which the Lord sends are not great, men imagine them
beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because
they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will
of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are
given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude
for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are
glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this
world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears
tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord,
and so his tribulations pass.

Archimandrite Sophrony

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Receiving Forgiveness

There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving. Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it. Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, "Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us. Only you can set me free." That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others. Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it.

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

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases as their love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything which might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Focused on God
January 25th, 2008
Friday’s Reflection

WHEN WE PRAY on behalf of another, we are creating a space for God to use that life as is most appropriate, according to God’s light, not ours. Because of our shared nature with God, in this space our life becomes God’s life: God’s tears, God’s offering, God’s power. We should set God free to work his mysterious love in ways that we should not care to seek to know, if we are rightly focused on God.

- Maggie Ross
“The Space of Prayer”
Weavings Journal

From p. 43 of Weavings Journal, July/August 2007. Copyright © 2007 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
When has a breakdown lead you to a breakthrough?

There are four descriptions of poverty in the Scriptures. First, there's poverty as sin, emptiness, the poverty of people who are dead inside. That obviously is not the poverty that Scripture idealizes. And yet it does play a part in the whole pattern of salvation. Sin and grace are related. In a certain sense the only way we really understand salvation, grace, and freedom, is by understanding their opposites. That's why the great saints are, invariably, converted sinners.

When you finally have to eat and taste your own hard-heartedness, your own emptiness, selfishness and all the rest, then you open up to grace. That is the pattern in all our lives. That's why it was such a grace in my hermitage year when I was able, at last—even as a male and a German—to weep over my sins and to feel tremendous sadness at my own silliness and stupidity.

I think all of us have to confront ourselves as poor people in that way. And that's why many of our greatest moments of grace follow upon, sometimes, our greatest sins. We are hard-hearted and closed-minded for years, then comes the moment of vulnerability and mercy. We break down and break through.

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.

aul's conversion

Herein is Saint Paul's conversion memorable: that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty God would convert the world, opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of this mystery? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show his power, he put forth his hand into the very midst of the persecutors of his Son, and seized upon the most strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man, Stephen, is the token and occasion of that triumph which he had reserved for himself. His strength is made perfect in weakness.

It was a triumph over the enemies of Christ; but it was also an expressive emblem of the nature of God's general dealings with the race of man. What are we all but rebels against God and enemies of the truth? Who then could so appropriately fulfill the purpose of him who came to call sinners to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least of the apostles, that was not meet to be called an apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of God? When Almighty God in his infinite mercy purposed to form a people to himself out of the heathen, as vessels for this glory, first he chose the instrument of this his purpose as a brand from the burning, to be a type of the rest.

John Henry Newman

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


"But when it pleased God. . ." Galatians 1:15

As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God - to give God "elbow room." We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never looked for Him to come? Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to over look this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. All of a sudden God meets the life - "When it was the good pleasure of God. . ."

Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 25, May 26, September 25
Chapter 7: On Humility

Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).

Hence, brethren,
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
we must
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the would,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.

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

St. John 10:9-16 (1/25) Gospel for Holy Hierarchs
(Gregory the Theologian, et. al.)

Three Images: St. John 10:9-17, especially vss. 9, 11, 17:"I Am the
door....I Am the good shepherd....My Father loves Me...." In today's
Gospel, the Lord Jesus presents Himself not in abstract words nor
convoluted phrases but in three simple, earthly images, easily
understood by thoughtful people in every culture and society. The
images are at once profound invitations and solemn warnings. They
convey all the essential elements of the life-giving Gospel of our
Faith, the great good that is in Christ, and the clear and present
dangers of turning away from Him.

When the Lord Jesus declares, "I Am the door" (vs. 9), He indicates that
He is the exclusive gateway for reaching God. In traveling to earthly
destinations, we may pass through many gateways or doors onto various
roads or paths by which to cross a city or to reach another part of the
country; but to enter any space walled off from entrance, only a door
provides access. In today's passage, the enclosure to which the Lord
refers is a sheepfold, a pen for holding and protecting a flock (Jn.
10:1). With this image, our Lord Jesus discloses that entrance into
Divine safety, shelter, and care is through Him: whoever "enters by Me,
he will be saved, and...find pasture" (Jn. 10:9).

A century ago, a traveler in the Middle East reported meeting a shepherd
with a flock. As the two men talked, the shepherd indicated the fold
where he kept his flock during the night - an enclosure where his sheep
were safe from predators. It consisted of four walls with one opening,
for passing in and out. The traveler noted that there was no door or
gate across the opening, the shepherd answered, "I am the door; I lay
down across the opening after I have brought in my flock." Furthermore,
the shepherd declared that none of his sheep crossed over him during the
night, and no wolf would come in, being deterred by his body lying
across the entry way.1
The prevailing image throughout today's passage is the Good Shepherd.
The Lord even names Himself thus twice (vss. 11,14). St. John
Chrysostom points out that by this image our Lord "speaketh concerning
the Passion," thereby especially underscoring His Self-sacrifice for
"the salvation of the world."2 In addition through this image, the Lord
Jesus calls on you and me to consider the bond between Himself and us -
His flock, the Church. Each of our relationships with Him is very
personal and special to Him. You are His own. He will not flee when
you or any of us are under duress (vs. 12), something demonstrated
repeatedly throughout history. He is continuously present: "lo, I Am
with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt. 28:20).

This presence of the Lord is reassuring: He always "sees the wolf
coming," long before we are aware of the enemy's advance (Jn. 10:12).
Knowing us intimately (vs. 14), He is able to awaken us early to the
spiritual dangers coming upon us and rouse us to prayer - if we will.
Thus He prepares us for Satan's assaults, so that we may be ready. How
is it that He is able to have such foresight and to communicate with us
when danger lurks? Do not forget that in Christ Jesus we are touching
God Who created and ever protects us, in the past, now, and forever.

In the closing verses of the passage, our Lord Jesus directs attention
to His Divine nature: "as the Father knows Me, even so I know the
Father...." (vs. 15). The Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ Who is
ever with us - through Whom we have access to God the Father - sees and
understands our condition better than we do ourselves. He is our
guarantee that there is nothing to "hinder us from being
saved....Nothing, unless we ourselves revolt from Him...," as St. John
Chrysostom says.3 What better assurance do we need than to know that we
belong to God Who even laid "down [His] life for the sheep" (vs. 15),
and took "it again" (vs. 17), and watches over us?

O Thou, Good Shepherd of Thy People, grant us to hear Thy voice and to
follow where Thou dost lead, for with Thy Father and the Holy Spirit,
Thou art our God unto all ages


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