Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/17/09



O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 24, 29; PM Psalm 8, 84
Gen. 41:14-45; Rom. 6:3-14; John 5:19-24

From Forward Day by Day:

John 3:1-17. God [sent] the Son&that the world might be saved through him.

Today's readings all ring changes on the themes of faith and obedience, of being sent by God into unknown territory.

"The LORD said 'Go' Abram went" from all that was familiar into a whole new world. And from that willingness to go where God led and sent, a new people, a new community of faith, was forged.

In today's gospel conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus explains that he was given--was sent--by his Father into the world, "not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

Our lives are meant to be about following Jesus, participating in his love for the world. That obedient and trusting following will involve letting God send us, like Abraham, like Jesus, to unfamiliar (and even hostile, terrifying) places and situations.

Where in your own life might God want to send you in a new direction?

Is there, in this Lenten season of prayer and self-offering, some Ur, some Jerusalem, some new adventure in faith where God wants you to go?

Let the journey begin. Again.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Banks and Torres (Melanesia)

A Celtic lenten Calendar

The Armour of God

2. God's good creation has been corrupted by evil. "The Celts were not naive about the perniciousness of sin. Evil was an invading army that had to be driven out. Protection was needed. St. Paul tells us to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11), so through prayer Celts 'bound' to themselves spiritual breastplates, called Loricas, to reassure them of divine protection. With the right arm outstretched they would turn sunward making a full circle as they recited St. Patrick's famous cairn or prayer:

Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger'.

For a Celtic Lent: "Be aware of the evil that corrupts creation around you. As you face each day this week, recite Patrick's cairn, or write one of your own. Know that you are sheltered by divine love and grace. As you face any challenge or crisis, remind yourself that Christ is with you and within you, and that nothing can separate you from God's love.

Speaking to the Soul:

Born again

Daily Reading for February 17 • The Second Sunday in Lent

How was it possible, I thought, that a change could be great enough to strip away in a single moment the innate hardness of our nature? How could the habits acquired over the course of many years disappear, since these are so deeply rooted within us? If someone is used to fine feasts and lavish banquets, how can they learn restraint? If someone is used to dressing conspicuously in gold and purple, how can they cast them aside for ordinary simple clothes? Someone who loves the trappings of public office cannot become an anonymous private person. While temptation still holds us fast, we are seduced by wine, inflated with pride, inflamed by anger, troubled by greed, goaded by cruelty, enticed by ambition and cast headlong by lust. . .

But after the life-giving water of baptism came to my rescue and washed away the stain of my former years and poured into my cleansed and purified heart the light which comes from above, and after I had drunk in the Heavenly Spirit and was made a new man by a second birth, then amazingly what I had previously doubted became clear to me. What had been hidden was revealed. What had been dark became light. What previously had seemed impossible now seemed possible. What was in me of the guilty flesh now confessed it was earthly. What was made alive in me by the Holy Spirit was now quickened by God.

From the treatise To Donatus by Cyprian of Carthage, quoted in Spiritual Classics from the Early Church by Robert Atwell (National Society/Church House Publishing, 1995).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Imagine Jesus walking silently by your side, filling you with joy and peace and subtly waking you up to the divine in you and around you.
— Andrew Harvey in The Direct Path

To Practice This Thought: Be alert for your own Emmaus Road experience.
++++++++++ Reflections

Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice
the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ,
mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,
a sinner.

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Barometer of Our Lives

Although the table is a place for intimacy, we all know how easily it can become a place of distance, hostility, and even hatred. Precisely because the table is meant to be an intimate place, it easily becomes the place we experience the absence of intimacy. The table reveals the tensions among us. When husband and wife don't talk to each other, when a child refuses to eat, when brothers and sisters bicker, when there are tense silences, then the table becomes hell, the place we least want to be.

The table is the barometer of family and community life. Let's do everything possible to make the table the place to celebrate intimacy.

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

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Deeper than Words
February 17th, 2008
Sunday’s Reflection

IN CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY the word contemplation denotes quiet awareness of God. This consciousness goes deeper than words or thoughts can express, a quiet rest in God. Contemplation implies rapt attention to God, enfolded in God’s loving embrace. Meditation in Christian tradition implies thinking about something, reflecting on its meaning. Contemplation expresses a deeper awareness beyond words, an intimate presence. We get a foretaste of heaven where we are “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

- J. David Muyskens
Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God: The Practice of Centering Prayer

From pp. 44-45 of Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God by J. David Muyskens. 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 sufferings need to be remembered within your salvation history?

Our remembrance that God remembers us will be the highway into the future, the straight path of the Lord promised by John the Baptizer (Luke 3:4). Memory is the basis of both pain and rejoicing: We cannot have one without the other.

Do not be too quick to heal all of those memories, unless that means also feeling them deeply and taking them all into your salvation history. God calls us to suffer the whole of reality, to remember the good along with the bad. Perhaps that is the course of the journey toward new sight and new hope. Memory creates a readiness for salvation, an emptiness to receive love and a fullness to enjoy it.

from Sojourners, "The Energy of Promise"

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

Lent: a special time of renewal

The paschal celebration is especially characterized by the rejoicing of the whole Church in the forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness is given not only to those then reborn in holy baptism but also to those already numbered among God's adopted children.

Although we receive new life in the first place by our rebirth in baptism, we all need a daily renewal to make up for the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and no matter how much progress we have made, every one of us is called to greater holiness. We should therefore make a real effort not to let the day of our redemption find us still falling into the same old sins.

What the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater zeal and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be observed not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

Leo the Great

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


"Arise and eat." 1 Kings 19:5

The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, viz., to get up and eat. If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation. There are things that are calculated to depress, things that are of the nature of death; and in taking an estimate of yourself, always take into account the capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable. Depression is apt to turn us away from the ordinary commonplace things of God's creation, but whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural simple thing - the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there. The inspiration which comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression; we have to do the next thing and do it in the inspiration of God. If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone. Immediately we arise and obey, we enter on a higher plane of life.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 17, June 18, October 18
Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints

On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals
let the Office be performed
as we have prescribed for Sundays,
except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons
belonging to that particular day are to be said.
Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.

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

St. Luke 18:9-14 (2/17) Fast Free Week The Sunday of the
Publican and the Pharisee

Humbling Oneself: St. Luke 18:9-14, especially vs. 14: "...for everyone
who exalts himself, will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
exalted." The Holy Fathers commend the cry of repentance, "Lord Jesus
Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner," as the best means for
humbling oneself. The prayers of the Liturgy likewise expect us to
struggle for humility before God, for they beseech God that we
"...complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance."
Is it possible to achieve a constant and pure humility of heart and
mind? Obviously not if we adopt the attitude of the Pharisee,
congratulating ourselves on our piety (Lk. 18:11-12). Rather, that
which the Lord highlights concerning the attitude of the Publican is
offered as the true way to humility, for "...this man went down to his
house justified" (vs. 14).

First, we learn that the Publican stood "afar off" (vs. 13). From whom
or what did he distance himself? He saw little good in himself compared
with anyone else in the Temple, such as the pious Pharisee. He saw that
he was far from God. Therefore, he "...would not so much as raise his
eyes to heaven..." (vs. 13). Like King David, who was pierced to the
heart by his sins of adultery and murder, the Publican could only bow
down before the Lord. His downcast eyes admit exactly what David said
to God: "Against Thee only have I sinned..." (Ps. 50:4).

Wait! Does King David's statement make sense? Uriah, a good, loyal
soldier lay dead. Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, was violated and pregnant
with David's child. What of the sin the king committed against this
couple? But King David understood that, first and foremost, his sin was
against God. Beloved of the Lord, the eye of our God is "too pure to
behold evil" (Hab. 1:13). Hence, let us also confess that sin has
separated us from the King of all.

Second, of course, sin also separates us from other Christians. As St.
Paul looked into his own soul, he knew himself as chief of all sinners
(1 Tim. 1:15). No matter how others perceived him - as a great,
vigorous, strict champion of the Law or as a righteous man - Christ's
revelation of Himself to Paul laid bare to the Apostle the worst in his
life, thoughts, and deeds.

May the Holy Spirit disclose our sins to us, and may He show us clearly
how our sins have violated the trust we have with the Church of God.
Sin damages communion, compromises our fellow Christians, abandons them
in their struggles, and weakens the entire witness of the Church before
the world. Let us "stand afar off" and mourn our sins.

Third, the Publican "beat his breast" (vs. 13). The man had violated
his own soul. Every sin wreaks havoc with our own highest and best. We
denigrate and mar the precious image of God within us, to our shame and
loss. However, notice the words of the man whom God deems truly
forgiven: "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (vs. 13). We recognize
these words. They are the second portion of the Jesus Prayer,
verbatim. They illumine the pathway to reconciliation. In them is the
hope of restoration, a balm that speeds God's healing of His broken
image within us.

Let us determine to rouse our conscience and galvanize the shreds of
faith still in us. Let us, like the Publican, cry out to God, "Have
mercy upon me a sinner!" Of course, let us not mouth the prayer
mindlessly, but in a cry from pain of heart offering it contritely
before the throne of God. It is possible to achieve a healing
repentance if we allow God to open our eyes and show us ourselves as we
are before Him. Then we may cry out fruitfully:

O Lord God of my salvation, Savior and Benefactor of my soul, I am truly
sorry for all my transgressions. I firmly resolve to amend my life.
Implant in me the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that I may trample
down all carnal desire and lead a godly life, ever pleasing Thee,
walking uprightly in Thy statutes unto life eternal with all of Thy Saints.


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