Friday, February 01, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/01/08, Feast of St. Bridget


"The Giveaway" (from The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley, New York, Viking Press, 1957)

St. Brigid's Headstone
Saint Bridget was
A problem child.
Although a lass
Demure and mild,
And one who strove
To please her dad,
Saint Bridget drove
The family mad.
For here's the fault in Bridget lay:
She would give everything away.

To any soul
Whose luck was out
She'd give her bowl
Of stirabout;
She'd give her shawl,
Divide her purse
With one or all.
And what was worse,
When she ran out of things to give
She'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,
Her grandsire's dinner,
She'd hand to cold
and hungry sinner;
Give wine, give meat,
No matter whose;
Take from her feet
The very shoes,
And when her shoes had gone to others,
Fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit.
She had to share;
Gave bit by bit
The silverware,
The barnyard geese,
The parlor rug,
Her little
niece's christening mug,
Even her bed to those in want,
And then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch
For poor and lowly,
She gave so much
And grew so holy
That when she died
Of years and fame,
The countryside
Put on her name,
And still the Isles of Erin fidget
With generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.
In thinking of her
There's no denial
She must have been
A sort of trial
Unto her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint.
Who had the patience of a saint,
From evidence presented here?
Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear?


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.

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of your blessed servant Brigid, and give you thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve you all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 40, 54; PM Psalm 51
Gen. 17:15-27; Heb. 10:11-25; John 6:1-15

From Forward Day by Day:

FRIDAY, February 1 (Brigid of Kildare)

Psalm 40. You have given me ears to hear you.

The original Hebrew renders "given me ears" more vividly than the English translation: "ears thou hast dug for me," which suggests that God's intimate contact and physical labor are necessary for us to be able to hear him.

Hearing the word of God is central to any Judeo-Christian understanding of the religious life. The ancient Jewish prayer, the Sh'ma, takes its name from the first word in Hebrew: Sh'ma--hear. "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is God." The first word in the Rule of Saint Benedict is "listen."

Really hearing God is more difficult than it sounds. Today's lesson from Genesis tells us that Abraham laughed to hear of God's plans for him and Sarah. Abraham, through his son Ishmael, had already contrived a sort of way for God to keep his promise, and at first found God's less obvious solution ridiculous.

As we tilt away from Christmas and Epiphany and incline toward Lent, may we--like Abraham--let God dig out ears for us, that we may hear and believe God's astounding plans, more wonderful than anything we could ever ask or imagine.

Today we remember:

Brigid of Kildare:
Psalm 138 or 1
1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 6:25-33

Eve of the Presentation:
Psalm 113, 122; 1 Samuel 1:20-28a; Romans 8:14-21

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Arizona (United States)

Praying for those attending General Convention, 2009:

Speaking to the Soul:

Abbess of Kildare

Daily Reading for February 1 • Brigid (Bride), 523

by the leadership of your blessed servant Brigid
you strengthened the Church in this land:
As we give you thanks for her life of devoted service,
inspire us with new life and light,
and give us perseverance to serve you all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect Two for Saint Brigid, in The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland (Dublin: The Columba Press, 2004).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

I will try not to panic, to keep my standard of living modest and to work steadily, even shyly, in the spirit of those medieval carvers who so fondly sculpted the undersides of choir seats.
— John Updike quoted in Life magazine

To Practice This Thought: Act today without expecting to receive any recognition or reward in return.
++++++++++ Reflections

What is there to desire but to walk along the straight path of the law of God and of the Church, and to live only in true and obscure faith, in certain hope, and in the fullness of love. Rejoice, therefore, and have confidence in God.
St John of the Cross
Letter 19

Reading from the Desert Christians


What we need is a little labor! Let us endure this labor that we
may obtain mercy.

St. Dorotheus of Gaza

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Solidarity in Weakness

Joy is hidden in compassion. The word compassion literally means "to suffer with." It seems quite unlikely that suffering with another person would bring joy. Yet being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair, sharing with a friend times of confusion and uncertainty ... such experiences can bring us deep joy. Not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family. Often this is a solidarity in weakness, in brokenness, in woundedness, but it leads us to the center of joy, which is sharing our humanity with others.

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

Day One - The Object

Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." (John 12:24-26)

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Growth in the Spirit
February 1st, 2008
Friday’s Reflection

OUR GROWTH in the Spirit is marked by movements up and down, forward and backward, and sometimes even in circles! For human beings, the spiritual life is no straight line of unimpeded progress. It is, however, by God’s unwavering goodness, always undergirded by grace. This is what gives us the hope and courage to persevere.

- Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson
Companions in Christ: Embracing the Journey

From Companions in Christ: Embracing the Journey by Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson. Copyright © 2001 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Things Hidden

Question of the day:
What would my life look like if I lived as God’s beloved?

To allow yourself to be God’s beloved is to be God’s beloved. To allow yourself to be chosen is to be chosen. To allow yourself to be blessed is to be blessed. It is so hard to accept being accepted, especially from God. It takes a certain kind of humility to surrender to it, and even more to persist in believing it. Any used persons know this to be true: God chooses and then uses whom God chooses, and their usability comes from their willingness to allow themselves to be chosen in the first place. What a paradox!

God’s love is constant and irrevocable; our part is to be open to it and let it transform us. There is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us more than God already does; and there is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us less. We are stuck with it! The only difference is between those who allow that and those who don’t, but they are both equally and objectively the beloved. One just enjoys it and draws ever-new life from that realization.

from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

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

Keep God's word

Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them and we will come to them. There is another passage of scripture which reads: those who fear God will do good, but of those who love something more is said: They will keep God's word. Where is God's word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Keep God's word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son will come to you with the Father. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam's sin spread through the whole human race and took hold of all, so Christ who created and redeemed all will glorify all, once he has taken possession of all.

Bernard of Clairvaux

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


"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." 1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel; but remember what Paul means by "the gospel," viz., the reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are apt to make sanctification the end-all of our preaching. Paul alludes to personal experience by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that is not the end of Redemption. If God were human, how sick to the heart and weary He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation, for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves - some thing for me to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we shall never bother God any further with little personal plaints.

The one passion of Paul's life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heart-breaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.

G K Chesterton Day by Day:

MANY modern Englishmen talk of themselves as the sturdy descendants of their sturdy Puritan fathers. As a fact, they would run away from a cow. If you asked one of their Puritan fathers, if you asked Bunyan, for instance, whether he was sturdy, he would have answered with tears, that he was as weak as water. And because of this he would have borne tortures.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility

The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and contradictions
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
"The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
and again
"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!

And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
"For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom. 8:36).
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
"But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
"You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
"You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).

Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

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

St. Mark 10:23-32 (2/1) For Friday of the 36th Week after
Pentecost (Friday, 31st Week)

Setting the Heart: St. Mark 10:23-32, especially vs. 25: "It is easier
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the Kingdom of God." Long years before the Lord took flesh and
dwelt among us, His Holy Prophet David, being led by the Spirit of God
to perceive grave danger in wealth, warned us: "if riches flow in, set
not your hearts thereon" (Ps. 61:10 LXX). Listen carefully, Beloved of
the Lord! Where your heart is fixed, where it is "set," that which
delights it, whatever primary goal it yearns for, that becomes the
defining mark that motivates your whole being. The Lord Jesus Himself
puts the matter quite simply: "where your treasure is, there your heart
will be also" (Mt. 6:21).

Why then does Christ our God especially focus on riches? See, He warns
us three times that wealth makes it difficult "to enter the Kingdom of
God" (Mk. 10:23,24,25). Is there something inherently wrong with wealth
in and of itself? Not at all! The danger in wealth lies in the heart's
orientation to wealth. Thus, for fickle-hearted mankind, riches have
repeatedly been a proven stumbling block, shoals upon which many have
wrecked themselves, both in this life and for the age to come. As St.
Augustine of Hippo notes: "It is hard to be saved if we have them; and
impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them, but we shall
love them inordinately."1 There is the threat: to love them
inordinately, to set the heart upon them.

The setting of the heart is the whole of the matter, for that upon which
we set our heart determines the shape of our whole thinking and action.
If our primary attention is on gaining wealth, we may well attain our
goal, or, perhaps, we may not. Still, let us who profess Christ as our
Lord heed St. Augustine: riches "...are gained with toil and kept with
fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief."2 Surely let
us not be so foolish as to set our heart primarily on elusive riches.

On the other hand, the Prophet David teaches the proven way: "delight
thyself in the Lord, and He will give thee the askings of thy heart"
(Ps. 36:4 LXX). We "delight" in the Lord when we set our heart on
heeding Him and keeping His ways, for then we shall ask only that which
pleases Him and shall receive the askings of our hearts, "good measure,
pressed down, shaken together and running over..." (Lk. 6:38). God, Who
is rich Himself, Who owns everything, places all that we have at our
disposal. He is especially generous toward those who have set their
hearts upon Him and seek "first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness" (Mt. 6:33).

It is not difficult to understand the astonishment of the Disciples
recorded in today's gospel (Mk. 10:24, 26). They heard the Lord well.
They understood how quickly human hearts yearn for all sorts of created
entities: things, causes, people, and goals. The Master's declaration
chilled them, made them afraid (vs. 32). Who possibly can be saved
then? Caesarios of Arles answers clearly: "Rich and poor, listen to
Christ: I am speaking to God's people. Most of you are poor, but you
too must listen carefully to understand. And you had best listen even
more intently if you glory in your poverty. Beware of pride, lest the
humble rich surpass you. Beware of wickedness, lest the pious rich
confound you. Beware of drunkenness, lest the sober excel you."3

Given our sin-weakened hearts and the fickleness of fallen human nature,
how is it possible for us to be established in the Lord above all else?
It is Christ Himself Who is able to "establish [our] hearts blameless in
holiness before [our] God and Father" (1 Thess. 3:13). >From Him let us
learn to discount anything and everything that stands between us and
before Him (Mk. 10:28), and let us not be "wise in [our] own conceit,
but fear God and depart from all evil" (Prov. 3:7 LXX).

O Christ God, Who willed to lie in the hands of the old man Simeon as
Thou didst ride in the chariot of the cherubim, deliver us from the woe
of passions and save our souls


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