Friday, February 29, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/29/08



Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; 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] 88; PM Psalm 91, 92
Gen. 47:1-26; 1 Cor. 9:16-27; Mark 6:47-56

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 6:47-56. Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.

It had been a long day. The disciples thought at first it was going to be a day off: Jesus had invited them to come away by themselves and rest a while. But the crowds had found them and needed to be taught and fed (that was still disturbing them, the way Jesus fed so many, so abundantly, from so little). And then Jesus sent them back in the boat by themselves; it was late; they were even more tired than they had been before. And then a storm blew up.

Then Jesus, whom they thought they knew but who had been doing such strange things lately, Jesus came walking toward them on the water. And they were terrified, not recognizing him, thinking it was a ghost.

So many things they did not understand. So much weariness, and failure, and straining at the oars.

But Jesus neither reproached them, nor excused them, nor explained himself.

"Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

May we in all our stormy darkness trust the One who offers us his heart, who is always in the same boat, and with whom we never need to be afraid.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Episcopal Church in Micronesia

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Choose a Psalm or other passage from the Bible which means a lot to you, and learn it off by heart. You might find it best to start learning it at home, and then trying to recall it when you're out walking or driving, or on your journey to work. Here are some suggested passages...

> Psalm 23;&version=31;
> Romans 8:38-39 ttp://;&version=31;
> 1 Corinthians 13;&version=31;
> Psalm 121;&version=31;

Idea by: Lord Kevin

"The holy scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts." – St John Chrysostom

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

St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 1-10

Speaking to the Soul:

True progress

Daily Reading for February 29

True progress is never made by spasms. Real progress is growth. It must begin in the seed. Then, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” There is something to encourage and inspire us in the advancement of individuals since their emancipation from slavery. It at least proves that there is nothing irretrievably wrong in the shape of the black man’s skull, and that under given circumstances his development, downward or upward, will be similar to that of other average human beings.

But there is no time to be wasted in mere felicitation. That the Negro has his niche in the infinite purposes of the Eternal, no one who has studied the history of the last fifty years in America will deny. That much depends on his own right comprehension of his responsibility and rising to the demands of the hour, it will be good for him to see; and how best to use his present so that the structure of the future shall be stronger and higher and brighter and nobler and holier than that of the past, is a question to be decided each day by every one of us.

The race is just twenty-one years removed from the conception and experience of a chattel, just at the age of ruddy manhood. It is well enough to pause a moment for retrospection, introspection, and prospection. We look back, not to become inflated with conceit because of the depths from which we have arisen, but that we may learn wisdom from experience. We look within that we may gather together once more our forces, and, by improved and more practical methods, address ourselves to the tasks before us. We look forward with hope and trust that the same God whose guiding hand led our fathers through and out of the gall and bitterness of oppression, will still lead and direct their children, to the honor of His name, and for their ultimate salvation. . . .

Now the fundamental agency under God in the regeneration, the re-training of the race, as well as the ground work and starting point of its progress upward, must be the black woman. With all the wrongs and neglects of her past, with all the weakness, the debasement, the moral thralldom of her present, the black woman of to-day stands mute and wondering at the Herculean task devolving around her. But the cycles wait for her. No other hand can move the lever. She must be loosed from her bands and set to work. . . .

Only the BLACK WOMAN can say “when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.” Is it not evident then that as individual workers for this race we must address ourselves with no half-hearted zeal to this feature of our mission. The need is felt and must be recognized by all. There is a call for workers, for missionaries, for men and women with the double consecration of a fundamental love of humanity and a desire for its melioration through the Gospel; but superadded to this we demand an intelligent and sympathetic comprehension of the interests and special needs of the Negro.

From “Womanhood: A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race” by Anna Julia Cooper; read before the convocation of colored clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Washington, D. C., 1886 and published in A Voice from the South by Anna J. Cooper.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Thank God for days filled with nothing much at all. Nothing much is more than enough.
— Steven Z. Leder in The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things

To Practice This Thought: Set aside an hour or two to do nothing much.
++++++++++ Reflections

How many remain at the foot of the mountain … who might climb to its summit!
St Teresa of Jesus
Conceptions, 2

Reading from the Desert Christians


What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to
climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend
to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is
less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting
life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom.

St. Cyprian

Daily Meditation from

Readings for Day 29

February 29

Psalm 84:10-12 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

2 Kings 23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.

Luke 14:10-11 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, `Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Being Free to Love

Jesus came to us to help us overcome our fear of God. As long as we are afraid of God, we cannot love God. Love means intimacy, closeness, mutual vulnerability, and a deep sense of safety. But all of those are impossible as long as there is fear. Fear creates suspicion, distance, defensiveness, and insecurity.

The greatest block in the spiritual life is fear. Prayer, meditation, and education cannot come forth out of fear. God is perfect love, and as John the Evangelist writes, "Perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). Jesus' central message is that God loves us with an unconditional love and desires our love, free from all fear, in return.

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

Day Twenty Nine - The Third Note, cont'd

This joy is a divine gift, coming from union with God in Christ. It is still there even in times of darkness and difficulty, giving cheerful courage in the face of disappointment, and an inward serenity and confidence through sickness and suffering. Those who possess it can rejoice in weakness, insults, hardship, and persecutions for Christ's sake; for when we are weak, then we are strong.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Trusting in God’s Presence
February 29th, 2008
Friday’s Reflection

AS OUR PRAYER LIFE brings God out of the shadows of our consciousness and into the full light of our lives, we begin to trust in God’s immanence. This trust emboldens members of the community to step out into the world as spiritual leaders in a way they never considered possible before. They are willing to give new things a try, willing to say yes when asked to do something. They find new faith to overcome obstacles.

- Daniel Wolpert
Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership

From p. 158 of Leading a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Contemplative Prayer

Question of the day:
What is it to get out of the way?

Once you can recognize the divine image where you don't want to see the divine image, then you've learned how to see. It's really that simple. And here's the rub, it's not you that is doing the seeing. It's like there is another pair of eyes inside of you seeing through you, seeing with you, seeing in you. Notice for example the very final prepositions of the great Eucharistic prayer—through Him, with Him, in Him. It recognizes that this isn't anything I can generate. It is done to me. Not I, but the wind that blows through me. It is being done to me, and all you can do is get out of the way.

from Contemplative Prayer

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

The true worshipers and the true priests

Prayer is the spiritual offering that has replaced the ancient sacrifices. What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. We learn from the gospel: The hour will come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and so he looks for worshipers who are like himself.

We are the true worshipers and the true priests. Praying in spirit we offer prayer to God as a sacrifice. Prayer is an appropriate and an acceptable sacrifice to God. It is the offering he has asked for and the offering he expects.

We must make this offering with our whole heart. We must fatten it on faith, prepare it by truth, keep it unblemished by innocence, spotless by chastity, and we must crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God. What can God refuse to prayer offered in spirit and in truth, when he himself asks for such prayer? How many proofs of its efficacy we read about, hear of, and believe!

Tertullian of Carthage

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


Lord, that I may receive my sight." Luke 18:41

What is the thing that not only disturbs you but makes you a disturbance? It is always some thing you cannot deal with yourself. "They rebuked him that he should hold his peace . . . but he cried so much the more." Persist in the disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself; do not deify common sense. When Jesus asks us what we want Him to do for us in regard to the incredible thing with which we are faced, remember that He does not work in common-sense ways, but in supernatural ways.

Watch how we limit the Lord by remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past: I always failed there, and I always shall; consequently we do not ask for what we want. "It is ridiculous to ask God to do this." If it is an impossibility, it is the thing we have to ask. If it is not an impossible thing, it is not a real disturbance. God will do the absolutely impossible.

This man received his sight. The most impossible thing to you is that you should be so identified with the Lord that there is nothing of the old life left. He will do it if you ask Him. But you have to come to the place where you believe Him to be Almighty. Faith is not in what Jesus says but in Himself; if we only look at what He says we shall never believe. When once we see Jesus, He does the impossible thing as naturally as breathing. Our agony comes through the wilful stupidity of our own heart. We won't believe, we won't cut the shore line, we prefer to worry on.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 29, June 30, October 30
Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

(If there is no 29th of Feburary, append this entry to the previous.)

If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.

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

St. Mark 15:22-25, 33-41 (2/29) Gospel for Friday of the
Week of the Last Judgment: of Meatfare

Responses to Christ's Passion: V ~ Kindness: St. Mark 15: 20, 22, 25,
33-41, especially vs. 36: "Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of
sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying,
'Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.'" The
Lord Jesus embodies kindness to all in need. He restored a
demon-possessed man to his right mind. He stopped a woman's issue of
blood. He fed crowds, gave sight to the blind, healed lepers, enabled
the lame to walk, forgave sinners, embraced little children, returned
departed ones to their bereaved families, and saved a wedding
celebration. Only the proud, the self-righteous, the power-hungry, the
calloused, and indifferent received His scorn. To us He is kind.

And in response, people love Him! Certainly His disciples cared deeply
for His welfare and His needs (Mt. 26:35). Mary of Bethany anointed His
head, "...for the day of My burial" (Jn. 12:7). Most heartening are the
glimpses of others being kind to Him during His Passion. Best-known is
the good thief. Sharing the same sentence of death on an adjoining
cross, he sought to restrain the bitter tongue of his criminal
accomplice on the third cross (Lk. 23:40,41). Also, the good thief
expressed faith in the Lord Jesus with no earthly reason compelling him:
"Remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Lk. 23:42).

In the present portion of St. Mark's Passion narrative, there is a
record of four who were kind to Him: a soldier in the execution squad,
the Centurion in charge of the detail, an unknown person in the crowd,
and a small group of women who had supported His ministry.

The soldiers took the Lord Jesus out to the site for the crucifixion
(vs. 22). Then one of the squad offered Him wine laced with myrrh. The
concoction is narcotic. Had the Lord drunk what was offered, it would
have deadened His pain, created a mood of euphoria, relaxed Him, and
likely shortened His suffering. The act revealed a pragmatic degree of
human kindness. It recalls Jesus' promise that if anyone gave Him drink
when He was thirsty, or "did it to one of the least of these My
brethren," such a one would inherit the Kingdom (Mt. 25:35,40). Thank
God for such kind gestures that happen by the thousands all across the
face of the world every day.

For three long hours, our Blessed Lord endured not only the physical
agony of crucifixion, but also mockery from "those who passed by" (vss.
29-33). Then at the ninth hour, when He cried out (Mk. 15:36), "someone
ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed and offered
it to Him to drink," another kindness like the soldier who earlier had
offered him wine with myrrh. Shortly afterwards, the Lord died. God
bless all such acts of kindness!

Tradition tells us that the Centurion in charge of the squad of soldiers
was Longinos. By the gift of faith he was able to say, "Truly this Man
was the Son of God" (Mk. 15:39). When the elders tried to bribe him to
lie and say that the body was stolen, he refused and sought Baptism, but
he was hunted down and martyred. Thank God for all who tell the truth

Finally, there were the women who were to become the Myrrh-bearers. As
the Lord suffered, they stood by. After His death, with the Sabbath
ended, they came with a last gesture of love - to anoint His body and
bid farewell as they could. Their grief turned to joy! God bless those
who clean up the pain and grief of the world without seeking recognition
(vss. 41; 16:1).

May God give us the grace to relieve pain as we are able, to offer
gestures of comfort to those who struggle, to tell the truth with love,
and to assuage the world's pain when we meet it. And may the Lord say
to us, "Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom..." (Mt. 25:34).

O Lord, constrain my heart to love friends and enemies, and shouldest
Thou see in me the tiniest spark of kindness or love, fill it with grace
sufficient for salvation - mine and others.


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