Saturday, February 23, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/23/08



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.

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who gave to your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 75, 76; PM Psalm 23, 27
Gen. 43:16-34; 1 Cor. 7:10-24; Mark 5:1-20

From Forward Day by Day:
Mark 5:1-20. My name is Legion.

The story of Jesus and the man possessed by demons gives us a fascinating glimpse into the very nature of healing: the poor man had been driven from his community, separated from himself, tormented by so many demons that they had taken over his very identity. "My name is Legion," he answers when Jesus asks who he is. A Roman legion consisted of thousands of soldiers: no wonder he was overpowered, occupied.

As soon as Jesus restored him to his right mind--made him whole again, no longer divided and fractured by an army of hostile spirits--the healed man begged to go with Jesus.

The sure signs of his healing are his love and gratitude, and his longing to follow Jesus. He is obedient and full of praise--profoundly with Jesus--even when Jesus sends him home instead.

The outraged and frightened Gerasenes, however, are aware only that their herds of swine were destroyed when Jesus cast the spirits from the man into them. They beg Jesus to leave.

When Jesus heals our brokenness, restores us to our right minds after some temporary insanity of temptation, rage, or self-loathing, do we beg to be with him, or beg him to leave?

Today we remember:

Psalm 116:10-17 or 121
Revelation 2:8-11; Matthew 20:20-23

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Bauchi (Jos, Nigeria)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


If you live in a town or city of any size, buy or collect groceries and/or supplies and take them personally to the overworked, inspiring people at your local food bank, shelter or similar charitable organization. It will take you to an area of town you don't see often, you'll see some of the people who come for help and you'll get to meet the people who work there. I did this a few months ago and now it's a habit – I enjoy going there so much.

Idea by: Laura

The food bank people are probably desperate for the groceries. Donations are down and demand is up. Here's a wish list from my food bank, but find out what yours needs. Many people think of food banks in the run up to Christmas, but hungry people are hungry 12 months a year. Do be sure to ask them if they have guidelines first (e.g. "no jars").

Idea by: Charlotte

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist." – Dom Helder Camara

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

St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 48-59

Speaking to the Soul:

Consider unity

Daily Reading for February 23 • Polycarp, Bishop and Marytr of Smyrna, 156

Ignatius, who is also called God-bearer, to Polycarp, bishop of the church of the Smyrnaeans—rather, the one who has God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as his bishop. Warmest greetings.

I welcome your godly way of thinking, which is fixed firmly as upon an unmoveable rock; and I exult all the more, having been found worthy of your blameless face. I hope to enjoy it in God! But I urge you by the gracious gift with which you are clothed, to forge ahead in your race and urge all to be saved. Vindicate your position with all fleshly and spiritual diligence. Consider unity, for nothing is better. Bear with all people, just as the Lord bears with you. Tolerate everyone in love, just as you are already doing. Be assiduous in constant prayers; ask for greater understanding than you have. Be alert, as one who has obtained a spirit that never slumbers. Speak to each one according to God’s own character. Bear the illnesses of all as a perfect athlete. Where there is more toil, there is great gain.

From “The Letter of Ignatius to Polycarp,” quoted in The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader by Bart D. Ehrman (Oxford University Press, 2004).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Whenever I am checking bags at an airport, I recall St. Teresa of Avila's wonderful prayer of praise, "Thank God for the things I do not own."
— Kathleen Norris in The Quotidian Mysteries

To Practice This Thought: The next time you are in a store, repeat St. Teresa's prayer.
++++++++++ Reflections

Confidence, nothing but confidence leads to the love of God.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and
unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of
an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles
are accomplished, such as the miracles of the sacraments; for
God's Mystery is always accomplished, even though we were
incredulous or unbelieving at the time of its celebration. "Shall
their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Rom. 3:3).
Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and
mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God's wisdom, nor
our infirmity God's omnipotence.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Daily Meditation from

Meditation for Day 23

As the rain hides the stars,
as the autumn mist hides the hills,
happenings of my lot
hide the shining of Thy face from me.
Yet, if I may hold Thy hand
in the darkness,
it is enough;
since I know that,
though I may stumble in my going,
Thou dost not fall.
Alistair Maclean

The Lord is thy keeper,
the Lord is thy shade.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee,
thy soul from all evil;
the Lord shall preserve thee,
thy going and thy coming,
from this time forward,
and even for evermore.
from Psalm 121

As it was, as it is,
and as it shall be
evermore, God of grace,
God in Trinity!
With the ebb, with the flow,
ever it is so,
God of grace, O Trinity,
with the ebb and flow.
Traditional Gaelic prayer learned from
Alexander Macneill, fishsalter, Barra

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

What Is Most Personal Is Most Universal

We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, "Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else's business." But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.

Jesus says, "No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house" (Matthew 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let's not have "double lives"; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public.

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

Day Twenty Three - The First Note, cont'd

Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits the fact of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. It is the basis of all Christian virtues. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, "No spiritual house can stand for a moment except on the foundation of humility." It is the first condition of a joyful life within any community.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Become Family
February 23rd, 2008
Saturday’s Reflection

FROM HIS CROSS, Jesus created a community that was to become family to the widow, the orphan, the outcast, and the stranger. Only when we have learned to offer welcome to the modern equivalent of people such as these do we come close to Christ’s intention. It is not “family churches” but “church families” that the world needs.

- Peter Storey
Listening at Golgotha: Jesus’ Words from the Cross

From p. 46 of Listening at Golgotha by Peter Storey. Copyright © 2004 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
How have you seen God use pain for good in your life?

Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. In terms of the ego, most religions teach in some way that all must "die before they die." Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance.

If religion cannot find a meaning for human suffering, humanity is in major trouble. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

If there isn't some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somewhere in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down.

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.

Prayer, fasting, and mercy

Perseverance in faith, devotion, and virtue is assured by three things: prayer, fasting, and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting gains entrance, mercy receives. These three things, prayer, fasting, and mercy, are all one and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them, for this is impossible. If we have only one of them, if we have not all three together, we have nothing. Whoever prays, then, must also fast; whoever fasts must also show mercy. If we want our own petitions heard we must hear the petitions of others. God's ear will be open to us if we do not turn a deaf ear to other people.

When we fast we should understand what it means to be really hungry. If we want God to take account of our hunger we must feel for the hunger of others. If we hope for mercy we must show mercy. If we look for kindness we must show kindness. If we want to receive we must give. Only a shameless person would ask for himself what he refused to give to others. In showing mercy this should be the rule: show it in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness as you would wish it to be shown to you.

Peter Chrysologus

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


"The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Matthew 20:28

Paul's idea of service is the same as Our Lord's: "I am among you as He that serveth;" "ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We have the idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the "door-mat" of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. "I know how to be abased," says Paul. This is Paul's idea of service - "I will spend myself to the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or give me blame, it will make no difference." So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does. The mainspring of Paul's service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.

Paul's realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. "I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person" - no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 23, June 24, October 24
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

Vespers are to be sung with four Psalms every day.
These shall begin with Psalm 109 and go on to Psalm 147,
omitting those which are set apart for other Hours;
that is to say that
with the exception of Psalms 117 to 127 and Psalms 133 and 142,
all the rest of these are to be said at Vespers.
And since there are three Psalms too few,
let the longer ones of the above number be divided,
namely Psalms 138, 143 and 144.
But let Psalm 116 because of its brevity be joined to Psalm 115.

The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled,
let the rest of the Hour --
lesson, responsory, hymn, verse and canticle --
be carried out as we prescribed above.

At Compline the same Psalms are to be repeated every day,
namely Psalms 4, 90 and 133.

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

St. Luke 20:45-21:4 (2/23) Gospel for Saturday in
the Week of the Prodigal Son

Predatory Religion: St. Luke 20:45-21:4, especially vss. 46, 47: "Beware
of the scribes...who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long
prayers. These will receive greater condemnation." How ironic that the
scribes were condemned by the Lord Jesus (vss. 46,47)! As devout
scholars, they were renown for study and teaching of the Divine
Scriptures. They swore never to receive payment from their profession,
but to live solely by their own labor, from subsidies provided by the
wealthy, or from hospitality. Because of these ideals, they were highly
honored. Their lives had a quality much like our Lord's own manner of
living (Lk. 10:4-8).

However, over the years, these teachers of the Law gained a monopoly in
interpreting the Scriptures, and turned its plain meaning into
incomprehensible, esoteric teachings. By the first century most of
these elite scholars believed that they were highly favored by God.
They became distant from the populace, disdaining the majority who did
"not know the Law" (Jn. 7:49). Worse, they expected honors and a wide
range of perks for themselves (Lk. 20:46).

Many of the well-to-do had their finances and estates managed by the
scribes, and, as history records, the scribes prospered and abuses
followed. Most likely, among those exploited by the scribes were widows
- as the Lord states (vs. 20:47).

What were God's ancient commandments that the scribes twisted and should
have taught? "Ye shall hurt no widow or orphan. And if ye should
afflict them by ill-treatment, and they should cry aloud to Me, I will
surely hear their voice, and I will be very angry, and will slay you
with the sword..." (Ex. 22:22-24). God expects services to be
administered impartially. The fatherless and widow are to be protected
against greed from any who would deprive them of food or clothing (Deut.
10:18). In the market place, the defenseless are to be assisted, not
reduced to convenient sources of profit (Lev. 25:35-37). At prayer and
in fellowship every effort is to be made to include and welcome as
equals the disadvantaged and poor (Deut. 16:11-12).

By contrast, the Lord and His disciples lived in a way that was a tacit
reproach to the scribes (Lk. 9:58). He was poor, without income, and
truly depended upon gifts and assistance from friends who maintained Him
and His disciples in their ministry (Mk. 15:40,41). Notice that in
calling attention to a widow who made an offering of "all the livelihood
that she had" (Lk. 21:3,4), Christ holds up the example of one of the
poor who lived the ideals that the scribes professed. Brethren, He Who
commands us to protect the defenseless, in no way changes His truth by
having become Incarnate. Let us not fall under His denunciation of the
scribes, nor fail to note that the Lord's warning concerning the scribes
is for "His disciples" (Lk. 20:45). It is for us He speaks and warns.
Our Lord would not have us fall under judgment reserved for those who
abuse the defenseless (Deut. 27:19) or those who say that evil is good
(Mal. 2:17).

Predatory religion can stealthily overtake one. The Apostle James
illumines the problem: "You lust and do not have. You murder and covet
and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you
do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you
may spend it on your pleasures....Do you not know that friendship with
the world is enmity with God?" (Jas. 4:2-4). Hasten to agree with St.
John Chrysostom that the Kingdom of God is not "bought with money...but
by purpose of mind. There is no need for money, but of the [godly]
disposition; if thou hast this thou wilt be able even by two mites to
purchase heaven."1

I, the wretched one, have destroyed Thy riches, O Lord, squandering
them, and I have submitted myself to evil devils. Wherefore O most
compassionate Savior, have compassion on me, purify me, the polluted
one, and restore to me the first robe of Thy Kingdom.


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