Monday, January 28, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/28/08


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.


Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; 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 41, 52; PM Psalm 44
Gen. 14:(1-7)8-24; Heb. 8:1-13; John 4:43-54

From Forward Day by Day:

John 4:43-54....a prophet has no honor in the prophet's own country.

I knew persons who traveled to South Africa in the 1970s. Upon their return, awkward comments about the conditions there included "It's not so bad" and "It's a complex matter." As a person whose people have lived with injustice, I wondered.

In the early 1980s I heard that certain American church leaders were dismayed about an Anglican bishop in South Africa who had wild and crazy ideas about the future of that nation. I wondered again. I felt sad, frustrated, and helpless. My parish priest counseled me and quoted this part of the Bible to me. He was a white man who had had a cross burned on his front lawn by a hate group in the 1960s. Persons speaking God's truth are often lone voices in the wilderness. In 1994, I heard a celebrated--and vindicated--Desmond Tutu address the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Perhaps it takes decades of listening, striving, and waiting to recognize a prophet. Jesus the prophet had only a few years among witnesses. But he left a legacy of signs and wonders for those who believed in the healing power of the Lord. May we have faith in our day to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

Today we remember:

St. Thomas Aquinas:
Psalm 37:3-6,32-33 or 119:97-104
Wisdom 7:7-14; Matthew 13:47-52

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the

Speaking to the Soul:

Thomistic synthesis

Daily Reading for January 28 • Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, 1274

Though involved in numerous ecclesiastical and civil affairs, Thomas Aquinas was primarily a theological thinker and writer. The only comparable figure in previous church history is Augustine, and Aquinas quotes his distinguished predecessor more frequently than any other of the Fathers. But unlike Augustine, Aquinas was a systematizer with a neat, orderly mind that delighted in logical and dialectical coherence. Aiding him in this architectonic ideal was the newly rediscovered Aristotle, whose precision of definition and syllogistic distinctions provided Aquinas with the philosophical instrument he needed for his theological construction. Thus in Aquinas both Augustine and Aristotle meet, and the synthesis added an astonishing brilliance to such perennial problems as the relation of revelation and reason.

There are two distinct lines of development in Christian theology. One comes out of the Hebrew-Christian tradition and the other from the Greco-Roman philosophy and culture. The so-called Thomistic synthesis brought the two into functional coexistence.

From Readings in Christian Thought, edited by Hugh T. Kerr (Abingdon, 1983).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Lama Tsongkhapa suggested that instead of jealousy we try to cultivate the habit of extracting joy from the good things we see in others. He commented that by rejoicing in a good quality or situation that we perceive in others, we share in the joy of having it ourselves.
— Glenn H. Mullin in Gems of Wisdom from the Seventh Dalai Lama

To Practice This Thought: Identify and celebrate someone else's best qualities.
++++++++++ Reflections

Those who are able to shut themselves up within this little heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of heaven and earth, may be sure that they will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain.
St Teresa of Jesus
Way 20.5

Reading from the Desert Christians


Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should
not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue
the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times because of the
withdrawal of God's grace, rise up again each time, and keep on
doing this until the day of your death. For it is written, 'If a
righteous man falls down seven times' - that is, repeatedly
throughout his life - 'seven times shall he rise again' [Prov.

John of Karpathos

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Forgiving in the Name of God

We are all wounded people. Who wounds us? Often those whom we love and those who love us. When we feel rejected, abandoned, abused, manipulated, or violated, it is mostly by people very close to us: our parents, our friends, our spouses, our lovers, our children, our neighbors, our teachers, our pastors. Those who love us wound us too. That's the tragedy of our lives. This is what makes forgiveness from the heart so difficult. It is precisely our hearts that are wounded. We cry out, "You, who I expected to be there for me, you have abandoned me. How can I ever forgive you for that?"

Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. The God who lives within us will give us the grace to go beyond our wounded selves and say, "In the Name of God you are forgiven." Let's pray for that grace.

Weekly Reflection from the Merton Institute

This afternoon I suddenly saw the meaning of my American destiny -- one of those moments when many unrelated pieces of one's life and thought fall into place in a great unity towards which one has been growing.

My destiny is indeed to be an American -- not just an American of the United States. We are only on the fringe of the true America. I can never be satisfied with this only partial reality that is almost nothing at all, that is so little that it is like a few words written in chalk on a blackboard, easily rubbed out.

I have never so keenly felt the impermanence of what is now regarded as American because it is North American and the elements of stability and permanence which are in South America. Deeper roots, Indian roots. The Spanish, Portuguese, Negro roots also. The shallow English roots are not deep enough. The tree will fall.

To be an American of the Andes -- containing in myself also Kentucky and New York. But New York is not, and never will be, really America. America is much bigger and deeper and more complex than that -- America is still an undiscovered continent.

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 168.

Thought for the Day

My vocation is American -- to see and to understand and to have in myself the life and the roots and the belief and the destiny and the orientation of the whole hemisphere -- as an expression of something of God, of Christ, that the world has not yet found out -- something that is only now, after hundreds of years, coming to maturity!

...[T]o be oneself a whole hemisphere and to help the hemisphere to realize its own destiny.

A Search for Solitude: 168-169

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

Day Twenty Eight - The Third Note -


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that they follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God's world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within them an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

On Holy Ground
January 28th, 2008
Monday’s Reflection

WHAT DO WE EXPECT in our spirituality? God loves us and comforts us. But God also challenges and directs us. God changes us, if we allow it; and change is never easy. When Moses stood on holy ground, the experience was frightening and life changing.

- Paul E. Stroble
You Gave Me a Wide Place: Holy Places in Our Lives

From p. 34 of You Gave Me a Wide Place by Paul E. Stroble. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission. Learn more about or purchase this book.
Today’s Scripture Reading

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai.

- Exodus 24:15-16, NIV

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Things Hidden

Question of the day:
What deep experiences have transformed you?

This marvelous anthology of books and letters called the Bible is all for the sake of astonishment! It’s for divine transformation (theosis), not intellectual or “small self” coziness.

The genius of the biblical revelation is that we will come to God through what I’m going to call the “actual,” the here and now, or quite simply what is.

God is always given, incarnate in every moment and present to those who know how to be present themselves.

Let’s state it clearly: One great idea of the biblical revelation is that God is manifest in the ordinary, in the actual, in the daily, in the now, in the concrete incarnations of life. That’s opposed to God holding out for the pure, the spiritual, the right idea or the ideal anything. This is why Jesus stands religion on its head!

That is why I say it is our experiences that transform us if we are willing to experience our experiences all the way through.

“God comes disguised as our Life” (a wonderful line I learned from my dear friend and colleague, Paul D’Arcy).

from Things Hidden

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

The cross exemplifies every virtue

Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.

It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on the account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.

If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.

Thomas Aquinas, O.P.

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


"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Acts 26:14

Am I set on my own way for God? We are never free from this snare until we are brought into the experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. Obstinacy and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. It may hurt no one else, but it wounds His Spirit. Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set upon our own ambitions, we are hurting Jesus. Every time we stand on our rights and insist that this is what we intend to do, we are persecuting Jesus. Whenever we stand on our dignity we systematically vex and grieve His Spirit; and when the knowledge comes home that it is Jesus Whom we have been persecuting all the time, it is the most crushing revelation there could be.

Is the word of God tremendously keen to me as I hand it on to you, or does my life give the lie to the things I profess to teach? I may teach sanctification and yet exhibit the spirit of Satan, the spirit that persecutes Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is conscious of one thing only - a perfect oneness with the Father, and He says, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." All I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. This will mean that I can be easily put upon, easily over-reached, easily ignored; but if I submit to it for His sake, I prevent Jesus Christ being persecuted.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 28, May 29, September 28
Chapter 7: On Humility

As for self-will,
we are forbidden to do our own will
by the Scripture, which says to us,
"Turn away from your own will" (Eccles. 18:30),
and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God
that His will be done in us.
And rightly are we taught not to do our own will
when we take heed to the warning of Scripture:
"There are ways which seem right,
but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell" (Prov. 16:25);
and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless:
"They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will."

And as for the desires of the flesh,
let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us,
when he says to the Lord,
"Every desire of mine is before You" (Ps. 37:10).

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

St. Mark 9:42-10:1 (1/28) For Mon of the 31st Week after Pentecost
(Mon of the 31st Week)

Trial, Temptation, and Sacrifice: St. Mark 9:42-10:1, especially vs. 49:
"For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be
seasoned with salt." The entire reading for today confronts Christ's
Disciple with the "demanding" side of the life in Christ. Effectively,
the Lord Jesus admonitions in this lesson are a manual for martyrs, and
should be received in that vein.

"Eternal life" demands uncompromising purity and faithfulness. Purity
and faithfulness are what God requires as a condition for saving us from
the fires of hell "that shall never be quenched" (vss. 43,45). Truly,
painful choices are sure to confront us - if not today, sooner or
later. Moments and events will force us to decide, whether "...the
sufferings of this present life are...worthy to be compared with the
glory that shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).

The demands listed in this reading are those that the three holy youths
confronted in the burning fiery furnace (Dan. 3:16-18). Notice that the
Lord Jesus uses the identical language that the Apostle Peter employs
when he refers to "fiery trials" (1 Pet.1:7; 4:12). St. Peter asks:
Will we stand with Christ whatever the cost? Will we be healed of sin
despite the pain of the treatment? Will we trust that God is faithful
to His word? Will we be faithful in our words and deeds?

These verses makes clear that it is a disservice to Christians and
non-Christians alike to suggest that the life in Christ will be free of
trial, temptation, and sacrifice. Still, the good news is that the Lord
is "faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what .you are
able, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that you
may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

To maintain oneself in the face of the demands of Christ Jesus, we must
set boundaries. Since trial and temptation are certain, it is mandatory
to make preparations for addressing them. Having boundaries helps us in
meeting assaults against our faith, attacks that constantly besiege the
edges of our integrity. Boundaries help keep temptations out of the
depths of our hearts.

The alcoholic keeps liquor out of the house. The sexually tempted keeps
a covenant with his eyes and guards his every thought (Job 31:1). St.
Theophylact of Ochrid says bluntly: "the Lord exhorts those to whom
offense is given to guard themselves against those who are always ready
to offend and to tempt. Whether it be your foot, hand, or eye, which
cause you to fall, which means, even if it is one of your closest
friends or relatives, in close relationship to you either by kinship or
by necessity who causes you to fall, cut him off, that is, reject that
friendship or kinship to him."1 Such choices involve wrenching soul
pain, like amputation without anesthesia.
How does one prepare for inevitable pain and fire? The boundary around
one's life helps with many of the day to day choices. The technique is
simple: by-pass the doorways that lead to choices that we know will
certainly spell defeat.

Of course the enemy has a way of slipping past our boundaries and
pressing his fiery trials deeper! Graciously, the Lord warns us, expect
that "...everyone will be seasoned with fire." He prophesies such
trials for our lives (Mk. 9:49). Those who are practiced in small,
undramatic acts of faithfulness are much more likely to survive when the
harder tests by fire come along.

The Lord, His Prophets, and His Apostles operated in a culture that used
salt to ratify agreements. Hence, salt served to symbolize fidelity and
constancy. When the Lord Jesus says, "every sacrifice will be seasoned
with salt," He means that genuine sacrifice must be inseparable from
fidelity and constancy. The only way to be ready for fire is to be
well-disciplined in fidelity, a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the
earnest and faithful Christian. Hence, the Lord also connects our
having the salt of constancy with our having "peace with one another"
(vs. 50).

O Lord... lead me in the right path, because of mine enemies. (Ps. 26:13


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