Friday, February 08, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/08/09


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.


O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; 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 95[for the invitatory] & 31; PM Psalm 35
Ezek. 18:1-4,25-32; Phil. 4:1-9; John 17:9-19

From Forward Day by Day:

John 17:9-19. I am asking on behalf of those whom you gave me&

Jesus' prayer for his disciples is also a poignant prayer for the church in every age: Jesus asks his Father that "those you have given me [may be] one as we are one," for his own joy to be in them, and for their mission to the world.

Unity. Joy. Mission.
I wish those were the hallmarks of the body of Christ in my own experience. Instead, I fear we are more defined by internal dissension, tepidness of
spirit, and lack of conviction in embodying God's love in a broken world.

The Italian artist Bassano's painting of the Last Supper might be an illustration of this moment from John's Gospel (and a portrait of the church yesterday and today): Jesus sits in the center, gazing steadily at the viewer, surrounded by all of the disciples, not one of whom is looking at him. They are quarrelling, gesturing, distracted, divided--in a chaos of movement that contrasts strongly with Jesus' own quietness.

In this season of penitence, may we look not only to our own hearts, but also to our communities of faith, that we may be alert to opportunities to further unity, joy, and mission. May Jesus continue to pray for us.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Asaba (Bendel, Nigeria)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Stop what you are doing. And say this...

May I never forget this moment.
Free from my past, unknowing of the future;
alive only to now on Planet Earth.

Do this at least three times today.

A Celtic lenten Calendar

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

Epistle to Diognetus: 7-12

Speaking to the Soul:

What is the spiritual life?

Daily Reading for February 8

The perennial question, centuries old and ever new, harries us: What is the spiritual life? How do we develop it? Is it real? Is it possible? Is it even desirable? Isn’t earth about earth and heaven time enough for heaven? The questions plague us in the deepest parts of ourselves, to the blackest recesses of our souls. “We live most of our life,” Wendy Miller wrote, “oblivious to our true identity as persons created and provided for by God.” The starkness of the statement catapults us into another dimension of religion entirely. To know our true identity—to really know down deep where we came from, to whom we belong, out of whose life we live—is to know that the God who made us is with us still. God is the eternal memory, the inseparable presence, the unending energy that beats within us yet, inchoate but clear. . . .

Once we empty ourselves of our certainties, we open ourselves to the mystery. We expose ourselves to the God in whom “we live and move and have our being.” We bare ourselves to the possibility that God is seeking us in places and people and things we thought were outside the pale of the God of our spiritual childhood. Then life changes color, changes tone, changes purpose. We begin to live more fully, not just in touch with earth, but with the eternal sound of the universe as well.

From Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir by Joan D. Chittister, OSB (Sheed & Ward, 2004).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Simply put, there is nothing, nothing in the world, that can take the place of one person intentionally listening or speaking to another. The act of conscious attending to another person — when one once discovers the taste of it and its significance — can become the center of gravity of the work of love. It is very difficult. Almost nothing in our world supports it or even knows about it.
— Jacob Needleman in A Little Book on Love

To Practice This Thought: Before your next conversation, silently state the intention to consciously listen and speak.
++++++++++ Reflections

In returning to God and resting, you will be saved. In silence and trust will be your strength.
Isaiah 30.15

Reading from the Desert Christians


We see the water of a river flowing uninterruptedly and passing
away, and all that floats on its surface, rubbish or beams of
trees, all pass by. Christian! So does our life. . . I was an
infant, and that time has gone. I was an adolescent, and that too
has passed. I was a young man, and that too is far behind me. The
strong and mature man that I was is no more. My hair turns white,
I succumb to age, but that too passes; I approach the end and will
go the way of all flesh. I was born in order to die. I die that I
may live. Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom!

St. Tikhon of Voronezh

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Care, the Source of All Cure

Care is something other than cure. Cure means "change." A doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a social worker-they all want to use their professional skills to bring about changes in people's lives. They get paid for whatever kind of cure they can bring about. But cure, desirable as it may be, can easily become violent, manipulative, and even destructive if it does not grow out of care. Care is being with, crying out with, suffering with, feeling with. Care is compassion. It is claiming the truth that the other person is my brother or sister, human, mortal, vulnerable, like I am.

When care is our first concern, cure can be received as a gift. Often we are not able to cure, but we are always able to care. To care is to be human.

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

Day Eight - The Second Aim, cont'd

Members of the Third Order fight against all such injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfillment.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

In the Wilderness
February 8th, 2008
Friday’s Reflection

LENT BEGINS in the wilderness. … Even against our better judgment, we must begin these forty days [of Lent] by going alone to a wild place — in ourselves or in our lives. If we are fiercely honest with ourselves as we begin a Lenten journey toward greater openness, we must start by seeing things we would rather not see.

- Sarah Parsons
A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent

From p. 13 of A Clearing Season by Sarah Parsons. Copyright © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Path of Descent

Question of the day:
How does one incorporate imperfection?

In a Navajo rug there is always an imperfection woven into the corner. And interestingly enough, it's where "the Spirit moves in and out of the rug." The pattern is perfect and then there's one part of it that clearly looks like a mistake. The Semitic mind, the Eastern mind (which, by the way, Jesus would have been much closer to) understands perfection in precisely that way.

Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection. That's our Western either/or, need-to-control thinking. Perfection, rather, is the ability to incorporate imperfection! There's no other way to live: You either incorporate imperfection, or you fall into denial. Thats how the Spirit moves in or out of our lives.

from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the 12 Steps

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

The one good way

The fear of the Lord is taught, so it has also to be learned. It is a matter of instruction, not of terror. It springs not from our natural timidity but from obedience to the commandments, uprightness of life, and knowledge of the truth.

Our fear of God comes entirely from love, and perfect love brings it to perfection. It is our love for God that makes us listen to his counsels, obey his laws, and trust in his promises.

The ways of the Lord are many even though he himself is the way. He calls himself the way and explains the reason when he says: No one can come to the Father except through me. We must search out the many ways and follow them so as to find through the guidance of many teachers the one good way, the way of eternal life. These ways are found in the law, in the prophets, in the gospels, in the writings of the apostles, and in the different good works we are commanded to perform. If we follow these ways in the fear of God, we shall be blessed.

Hilary of Poitiers

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


"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God's point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God's purpose only. Are we prepared for God to do in us all that He separated us for? And then after His work is done in us, are we prepared to separate ourselves to God even as Jesus did? "For their sakes I sanctify Myself." The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God's standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us.

Are we prepared to be caught up into the swing of this prayer of the apostle Paul's? Are we prepared to say - "Lord, make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace"? Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit's ministrations in us?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 8, June 9, October 9
Chapter 7: On Humility

The eleventh degree of humility
is that when a monk speaks
he do so gently and without laughter,
humbly and seriously,
in few and sensible words,
and that he be not noisy in his speech.
It is written,
"A wise man is known by the fewness of his words"(Sextus, Enchidirion, 134 or 145).


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

St. Mark 12:1-12 (2/8) For Friday of the 37th Week after Pentecost
(Fri, of the 32nd Week)

Bear Fruit: St. Mark 12:1-12, especially vs. 9: "The owner of the
vineyard...will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard
to others." This parable is prophecy from God the Son, Who was sent by
the Father to win "their" respect, and "they" did indeed take and kill
Him and cast Him out of the vineyard (vs. 8). Thereafter, as Blessed
Theophylact observes: the Lord Jesus gave "His people to other
husbandmen, that is, to the Apostles;"1 and the People of God have
continued to bear fruit unto God, "the sacrifice of praise to God, that
is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name" (Heb. 13:15). You
are of God's People. Abide in Him, or be "cast out as a branch and [be]
withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they
are burned" (Jn. 15:6). Give God His due while you have time!

Sin is all around us with its alluring attractions, and so often we do
not look ahead to the consequences of failing to "abide in Him."
Grabbing at moments, we fail to understand the consequences: our "petty"
resistance to "paying our dues" further deepens the gulf between us and
the Giver of Life. Look at the account of Adam and Eve and see how
rapid was the descent following their first departure from Life. "It
was only a tiny bite of forbidden fruit. What was the real harm?"
However, Paradise was taken away and foul murder soon followed (Gen.
4:8). Look no further than the century of death lately passed, one more
chapter in the sordid record: mass executions, genocide, firestorms
consuming whole cities, and terror unspeakable.

Beloved, you and I are so close to Life - united to Christ in Holy
Baptism, sealed with the gift of His Spirit, partakers of His
Life-bearing Body and Blood. "In Him also we have obtained an
inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works
all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11). Do not
squander the fruit gained by you in the Orthodox vineyard. Instead,
consider the failure of the wicked vinedressers, and share what you have
been given: "some of the fruit of the vineyard" (Mk. 12:2), you have
garnered in Christ. How?

First, honor the servants whom the Lord sends - our Pastors and
Bishops. Kiss their hands and fill them with the fruits of your
struggle and labor in the Lord's Vineyard. What are those fruits? Our
God loves truth and is ready to make you whiter than snow and turn His
face away from your sins if you will simply offer Him "a broken spirit,
a heart that is broken and humbled..." (Ps. 50:17 LXX). Listen to St.
Makarios of Egypt: "Being bountiful and full of love, God awaits with
great patience the repentance of every sinner, and He celebrates the
return of the sinner with celestial rejoicing, as He Himself says,
'There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents' (Lk. 15:7,10)."2

Second, refuse and resist every corrupting movement within your heart.
Rather, give freely, "for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). Dag
Hammarskjold urges us to move from the broken heart of repentance to
gratitude: "Weep If you can, Weep, But do not complain. The way
chose you-- and you must be thankful." Beloved of the Lord, He "didst
bring us from non-existence into being, and when we had fallen away
didst raise us up again, and didst not cease to do all things until [He]
hadst brought us back to heaven."3

Therefore, when the Son of God comes in His Holy Mysteries, He is
looking for your respect. When He comes in the garb of the poor,
remember all that He has given you and consider. Offer thanksgiving to
the Life-Giver! Use words and say thanks, but also act thankful. "We
praise Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and we
pray unto Thee, O our God."4

"Serve ye the Lord with fear, and rejoice in Him with trembling. Lay
hold of instruction...blessed are all that have put their trust in
Him." (Ps. 2:11,12,13 LXX)


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