Saturday, February 16, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/16/09



Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23)
Gen. 41:1-13; 1 Cor. 4:1-7; Mark 2:23-3:6

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 2:233:6. Is it lawful to do good or to do harm?

Wherever he goes, Jesus makes whole, does good, gives life.

In today's gospel passage, healing pours out of Jesus irresistibly--even when it is against the rules. His violation of the Sabbath laws so enrages the Pharisees that they--untouched by Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand--immediately begin plotting to destroy him.

A century and a half ago, courageous people on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line helped slaves escape to freedom, although that was against the law
in the North as well as the South. During the Civil War, compassionate nurses tended the fallen on both sides, although in the eyes of both armies those
nurses were illegally giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Across Europe during World War II, ordinary people defied the Nazis to smuggle Jews to safety.

Our faith, too, may sometimes require that we, like Jesus, take risks on behalf of the world's oppressed and broken people, even if it is against the rules. Christians are called to a deeper allegiance than to the state.

This Lent--and always--may we choose healing over violence, good over harm, even when the world's legalism bids us do otherwise.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Bangor (Wales)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


The UK charity Tearfund are doing a Carbon Fast for Lent. Why not sign up for their daily Lent emails for actions, facts and prayers about climate change? Find out more on Tearfund's Carbon Fast page.

Idea by: Keren-Happuch

"The greatest thing is to be found at one's post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last 100 years" – CS Lewis

A Celtic lenten Calendar

The Earth is Alive with the Glory of God

1. All Creation is alive with the presence of God. "Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Celtic Christianity is its affinity with nature. (Iona is an absolutely stunning island, where the line between God and the world is what MacLeod called 'tissue thin'.) The Celts enthusiastically affirmed the psalmist's declaration, 'The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims (God's) handiwork' (Psalm 19:1). The Celts believed that all creation is alive with God's presence. Because God's Spirit dwells in all living things, everything is inherently good... Every moment, every location could therefore become a time and place for encountering God.

For a Celtic Lent: "Celebrate the wonder of creation. Plant a flower and watch it grow. Take time each day to sense the changes taking place, even those changes you cannot see. Do what is necessary to nurture its growth. Marvel at the wonder of Creation and give thanks to God for the gift of life.

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

St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Smyrneans

Speaking to the Soul:


Daily Reading for February 16

Openness is not gentility in the social arena. It is not polite listening to people with whom we inherently disagree. It is not political or civil or “nice.” It is not even simple hospitality. It is the munificent abandonment of the mind to new ideas, to new possibilities. Without an essential posture of openness, contemplation is not possible. God comes in every voice, behind every face, in every memory, deep in every struggle. To close off any of them is to close off the possibility of becoming new again ourselves.

From Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light by John Chittister (Orbis Books, 2000).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

That field of buttercups was the lap of God for me. It was a meadow of hospitality, a sanctuary for my fears. It was like going to a parent for comfort. I felt at peace there.
— Macrina Wiederkehr in Gold in Your Memories

To Practice This Thought: Find the lap of God in your life.
++++++++++ Reflections

All things praise You, Lord of all the World!
St Teresa of Jesus
Life, 25.17

Reading from the Desert Christians


Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul
fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined
together, they become like Elias' fire-bearing chariot, raising us
to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven, with sun, moon and
stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reach a state
of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it.

St. Philotheus of Sinai

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Intimacy of the Table

The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, "Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don't be shy, enjoy it," we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion. That is why a refusal to eat and drink what a host offers is so offensive. It feels like a rejection of an invitation to intimacy.

Strange as it may sound, the table is the place where we want to become food for one another. Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another.

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

Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening communion with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at their disposal give prayer a large part in their daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Creator and Sustainer
February 16th, 2008
Saturday’s Reflection

CREATOR GOD, thank you for having created me, and for sustaining me through your gifts. Make me more aware of your presence in your creation, and eager to bring others to know you. Amen.

- Helen Julian CSF
The Road to Emmaus: Companions for the Journey through Lent

From p. 12 of The Road to Emmaus by Helen Julian CSF. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
What defines you?

In solitude, at last we're able to let the Lord define us the way we are always supposed to be defined: by relationship, the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence. If we've never lived in the realm of pure presence without our world of achieving, we don't know how to breathe there at first. And that's precisely why the Lord has to breathe through us. The Lord has to be our life, the Lord has to be our identity. At last, we allow ourselves to be defined by relationship instead of by the good—even the holy—things we've done.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtractions

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


While Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd because of the many miracles he performed and because of his gentle doctrine, he, the lover of solitude, again withdrew to a secluded place where, after being useful to his neighbor, he could freely return to prayer and contemplation.

It is a good, indeed necessary, thing for people who are much embattled to take refuge from the fray within themselves, to cultivate themselves, and in their innermost, care-filled hearts to fix their gaze on the divine realities and ask God for what is essential for the guidance and progress of all people. In this way they help with silent prayer those whom they have instructed in the faith, to give them the power to understand, so that the word of God may not fall on the empty air.

Simon Fidati of Cascia, O.S.A.

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


"Arise from the dead." Ephesians 5:14

All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you - "Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!" That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, "Buck up," we find that the initiative is inspired.

We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say - "Arise from the dead." When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the "bucking up." God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says - "Arise from the dead," we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand - "Stretch forth thy hand," and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 16, June 17, October 17
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.

But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil.

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

St. Luke 18:2-8 (2/16) Gospel for Saturday, Week of the
Publican and the Pharisee

Our Adversaries: St. Luke 18:2-8, especially vs. 3: "Now there was a
widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me
from my adversary.'" St. Cyril of Alexandria, in commenting on the Lord
Jesus' parable of the unjust judge, challenges all Christians to
"examine who it is that offends against them." It is an intriguing
question for the Faithful in Christ to explore in this advanced age.
The Patriarch identifies a number of adversaries who troubled the "holy
ministers, teachers....and servants" of the Lord during the fifth
century: heretics, those who "smite and scorn us, even...inflict
violence upon us," those who "make merchandise of the word of
uprightness and prevail on many to abandon a sound faith, involving them
in inventions of devilish error,"and those who fiercely resist "those
who would live well: who cast into the pitfalls of wickedness whoever
slumbers; who plant in us the seeds of every sin."1

It does not take much by way of extrapolation to see that we have the
same adversaries today as existed in fifth century Alexandria. Our
present ones function under different banners and with names unknown in
St. Cyril's generation, but they are just as active to draw the unwary
from the Gospel of life and truth. Instead of the heretics of St.
Cyril's day, we may point today to a horde of sectarians, self-appointed
theologians and experts in matters of faith. Many of these, with
impressive degrees and credentials, hold forth in so-called seminaries
and universities. There are those today who openly vow to smite and
inflict violence on us and are diligently seeking ways to do so. The
media are filled with a rising tide of those who hawk religion to the
unwary. And who can even begin to account for the numerous purveyors of
moral corruption who are seeking to convince the innocent that evil is
good and good evil? Pray for us, Holy Father Cyril, that Christ will
find abiding faith among His People in our generation!

Notice our Lord Jesus' warning at the conclusion of His parable: "Hear
what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who
cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?" (vss.
6,7). Christ calls our attention to the fact that, in time, the
persistence of the importunate widow broke through the judge's
self-interest, so that he granted her a settlement against her
adversary. Are we to identify God with the judge? Not at all! Take
hold of the point the Lord is trying to reveal: that if a wicked,
self-serving, callous human judge can respond to persistent pleas - for
his own motives - then be assured that our compassionate, caring, loving
God will most definitely "avenge His own elect who cry out day and night
to Him" (vs. 7). That is the exact point where the story enjoins upon
us unremitting prayer.

Hence, the issue for you and me as Christians is maintaining persistent
prayer - shall we be found standing before God unwavering in prayer for
justice before our adversaries (1 Thess. 5:17)? And what keeps one
steady at prayer? Principally, it is faith. So the final question is:
"when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
(vs. 8). Father Matthew the Poor observes: "Faith and will are
intimately related, distinct but indivisible."2 Thus, in asking the
paralytic, "Do you want to be made well?" (Jn. 5:6), Christ stresses the
primacy of will or desire in faith. "It is only when we will something
that we can be counted worthy of God's response." And, take the Lord's
warning into consideration - God sometimes "bears long" with us - seems
to delay. Yet, as St. John of the Ladder assures us: "Do not say, after
spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you
have already gained something. What higher good is there than to cling
to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with Him?"3

Accept the prayer of us sinners and make us worthy to find grace in Thy
sight, that our prayers may be acceptable unto Thee, and the good Spirit
of Thy grace may dwell upon us.


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