Friday, March 21, 2008

Daily Meditation 03/21/08, Good Friday



Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; 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 136; PM Psalm 118
Exod. 13:1-2,11-16; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Luke 24:1-12

From Forward Day by Day:

John 18:1-19:42. Jesus said, "I am thirstywine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth." they put a sponge full of sour wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

Sometimes in moments of overwhelming catastrophe, unable to grasp the significance of the whole, our minds focus on details instead. Perhaps that is why I, confronted with the crucifixion, keep thinking about hyssop.

Hyssop, a common Mediterranean plant with medicinal and cleansing properties, is what people used to daub the blood of the paschal lamb on the lintels of their houses so that death would pass them by (Exodus 12:22). Moses used hyssop to sprinkle the blood of sacrifice on the people to seal the covenant with God (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:19).

At the end of vespers, in the monastic community where I am an oblate, the prior sprinkles us with holy water as we sing (from Psalm 51), "Wash me with
hyssop branches, and I shall be clean as the new snow."

What an almost unbearable richness of association. The sour wine is lifted on a branch of hyssop to Jesus' thirst as he hangs on the cross: he himself the Paschal lamb, the atoning sacrifice, the purifying fountain of living water, his own blood the wine of the new covenant.

Maybe God is indeed, as they say, in the details.

Other reflection's on the day's Scripture:

Today we remember:

March 28 , Friday in Easter Week:

Psalm 116:1-8 or 118:19-24;
Acts 4:1-12; John 21:1-14


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Jerusalem (Middle East)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Go out to walk and pray in the area where you live. Use the Lord's Prayer or another short prayer as a "spacer", and when you have finished praying that prayer, look around and make specific prayers for where you are. Keep walking as you pray, using spacer prayers and specific prayers.

You might want to use the Jesus Prayer as a spacer...

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner.

Idea by: babybear

"God, enable me in some measure to live here on earth as Jesus lived, and to act in all things as he would have acted." – Ashton Oxenden

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

St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI)

Speaking to the Soul:

They know not what they do

Daily Reading for March 21 • Good Friday

In Jesus’ time, crucifixion was not against the law. It was carried out by the law. It was an exceptionally gruesome method of torturing a person to death, carried out by the government not in secret dungeons but in public. Everyone knew what it looked like, smelled like, sounded like—the horrific sight of completely naked men in agony, the smell and sight of their bodily functions taking place in full view of all, the sounds of their groans and labored breathing going on for hours and, in some cases, for days. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that no one cared. All of this took place in public, and no one cared. That is why, from the early Christian era, a verse from the book of Lamentations was attached to the Good Friday scene: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (1:12). . . .

The crosses were placed by the roadside as a form of public announcement: these miserable beings that you see before you are not of the same species as the rest of us. The purpose of pinning the victims up like insects was to invite the gratuitous abuse of the passersby. Those crowds understood that their role was to increase, by jeering and mocking, the degredation of those who had been thus designated unfit to live. The theological meaning of this is that crucifixion is an enactment of the worst that we are, an embodiment of the most sadistic and inhuman impulses that lie within us. The Son of God absorbed all that, drew it into himself. All the cruelty of the human race came to focus in him.

In his first word from the Cross, Jesus does not pray for the good and the innocent. He prays for people doing terrible things. He prays for men who are committing sadistic acts, offering them to his Father’s mercy. It is for his enemies that he prays, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

There is a suggestion here that human beings are in the grip of something they do not fully comprehend. The evil that lodges in the human heart is greater than we know. This means at least two things. It means that there is nothing that you or I could ever do, or say, or be, that would put us beyond the reach of Jesus’ prayers. Nothing at all. And it also means that no one else, no one at all, is beyond that reach. His prayer for the worst of the worst comes from a place beyond human understanding. From that sphere of divine power we hear these words today as though they were spoken for the first time, as though they were being spoken at this very moment by the living Spirit, spoken of each one of us: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

From The Seven Last Words from the Cross by Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans, 2005).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

You keep insisting, I feel good because the world is right! Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That's what all the mystics are saying.
— Anthony de Mello in Awareness

To Practice This Thought: Let your enthusiasm, hope, joy, and good tidings carry you through the holidays and into the New Year.
++++++++++ Reflections

If you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much but to love much; do then, whatever most arouses your love.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, IV.1

Reading from the Desert Christians


What purposelessness, oh the deceit of life; truly in vain does
each man vex himself, and truly blessed and thrice-blessed are
those who have left everything for the Lord, that they may attain
the good things announced in the Gospels. For what profit will it
be for a man to enjoy the whole world, but lose his soul, to which
the whole universe is not equivalent? All the splendor of man is
like the blossom of grass. For the grass departs and the blossom
dies, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever.

St. Nicon "Repent Ye"

Daily Meditation from

Meditation for Day 21

Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,I say to Thee,
'Lord, why am I here?
What is there here to stir my gifts to growth?
What great thing can I do for others - I who am captive to this dreary toil?'

And seven times a day Thou answerest,
'I cannot do without thee.
Once did My Son live thy life,
and by His faithfulness did show My mind,
My kindness, and My truth to men.
But now He is come to My side, and thou must take His place.'
From Hebridean Altars

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Claiming the Sacredness of Our Being

Are we friends with ourselves? Do we love who we are? These are important questions because we cannot develop good friendships with others unless we have befriended ourselves.

How then do we befriend ourselves? We have to start by acknowledging the truth of ourselves. We are beautiful but also limited, rich but also poor, generous but also worried about our security. Yet beyond all that we are people with souls, sparks of the divine. To acknowledge the truth of ourselves is to claim the sacredness of our being, without fully understanding it. Our deepest being escapes our own mental or emotional grasp. But when we trust that our souls are embraced by a loving God, we can befriend ourselves and reach out to others in loving relationships.

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

Day Twenty One - The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes which mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them, all that it attempts will be in vain.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Forgive Them
March 21st, 2008
Friday’s Reflection

IF WE CLAIM to follow Jesus, we must believe that love, not force, is God’s mightiest weapon; that evil may seem to be rampant as it certainly appeared to be on Good Friday, but it is only the second strongest power in the universe.

Let us pray for grace to live by these words from the cross:

Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.

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

From p. 23 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

Holy Week

Question of the day:
What does the "irony of the crucifixion" mean to you?

The supreme irony of the whole crucifixion scene is this: He who was everything had everything taken away from him. He who was King of Kings and Lord of Lords was crowned with thorns.

All of the humanity to which he was brother was taken away from him and he walked the journey alone.

Jesus, the brother to creation, was nailed to the wood of the cross, his arms nailed open. He is the eternal sign of God to us, yet his arms were nailed open because he said in his life three most dangerous words: "I love you."

from The Great Themes of Scripture

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

Christ's patience

Christ did not govern his disciples as a master rules his slaves. He was kind and gentle, loving them as brothers, even washing the feet of the apostles, showing by his example how a servant should bear himself toward his equals when his master dealt in such a way with his servants. No wonder he could show such goodness to the disciples who obeyed him, if he was able to bear so long and so patiently with Judas, eating and drinking with his enemy, recognizing the foe in his own household yet neither exposing him publicly nor refusing his treacherous kiss.

At the time of his passion and cross, even before it had gone as far as the inhuman crucifixion and the shedding of his blood, how patiently he bore reviling and reproach, insult and mockery! A little while before, he had cured the eyes of a blind man with his spittle, yet now he allowed his tormentors to spit in his face. His servants today scourge the devil and his angels in the name of Christ, but at the time of his passion Christ himself submitted to being scourged. He crowns the martyrs with never-fading flowers, though he himself was crowned with thorns. He was struck in the face with the palms of men's hands, yet it is he who awards the palm of victory to all who overcome. Others he clothes in the garment of immortality, yet he himself was stripped of his earthly garments. He had fed them with bread from heaven, yet he himself was fed with gall; and he who had poured out the saving cup was offered vinegar to drink.

He the innocent, he the just, he rather who is the embodiment of innocence and justice, is counted among evil-doers. Truth is confuted by false evidence. The future judge is subjected to judgment; the Word of God is led to the cross in silence. At the Lord's crucifixion the stars are thrown into confusion, the elements are disturbed, earth trembles, and night swallows up day. But he himself is silent, unmoved, hiding every sign of his Godhead throughout the whole duration of his passion. Enduring all things, he perseveres to the end, so that in him patience may be brought to its full measure of perfection.

Cyprian of Carthage

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


"I have been crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20

The imperative need spiritually is to sign the death warrant of the disposition of sin, to turn all emotional impressions and intellectual beliefs into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin, viz., my claim to my right to myself. Paul says - "I have been crucified with Christ"; he does not say - "I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ," or, "I will endeavour to follow Him" - but - "I have been identified with Him in His death." When I come to such a moral decision and act upon it, then all that Christ wrought for me on the Cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

". . . nevertheless I live. . . ." The individuality remains, but the mainspring, the ruling disposition, is radically altered. The same human body remains, but the old satanic right to myself is destroyed.

"And the life which I now live in the flesh . . . ," not the life which I long to live and pray to live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh, the life which men can see, "I live by the faith of the Son of God." This faith is not Paul's faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him - "the faith of the Son of God." It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 21, July 21, November 20
Chapter 42: That No One Speak After Compline

Monastics ought to be zealous for silence at all times,
but especially during the hours of the night.
For every season, therefore,
whether there be fasting or two meals,
let the program be as follows:

If it be a season when there are two meals,
then as soon as they have risen from supper
they shall all sit together,
and one of them shall read the Conferences
or the Lives of the Fathers
or something else that may edify the hearers;
not the Heptateuch or the Books of Kings, however,
because it will not be expedient for weak minds
to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour;
but they shall be read at other times.

If it be a day of fast,
then having allowed a short interval after Vespers
they shall proceed at once to the reading of the Conferences,
as prescribed above;
four or five pages being read, or as much as time permits,
so that during the delay provided by this reading
all may come together,
including those who may have been occupied
in some work assigned them.

When all, therefore, are gathered together,
let them say Compline;
and when they come out from Compline,
no one shall be allowed to say anything from that time on.
And if anyone should be found evading this rule of silence,
let her undergo severe punishment.
An exception shall be made
if the need of speaking to guests should arise
or if the Abbess should give someone an order.
But even this should be done with the utmost gravity
and the most becoming restraint.

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

Genesis 6:1-9 (3/21) 1st Reading at Vespers, Friday of the
2nd Week of the Great Fast

Beyond Eden V ~ Grace Abounds: Genesis 6:1-9, especially vss. 6, 7, 91:
"And the Lord God having seen that the wicked actions of men were
multiplied upon the earth....laid it to heart that He had made man upon
the earth....But Noah found grace before the Lord God." This passage is
part one of the prelude to the Great Flood. It begins and ends with
Noah (vss. 1,9). Herein, God reveals the cause of the coming deluge:
men born from fathers in Seth's lineage evaluate life solely by
appearances. They orient their activities around material things, and,
though they become renowned, they are unfit as dwelling places for the
Holy Spirit of God. However, one man, Noah, finds grace before God (vs.

At the present, as ever, great tidal waves of evil are sweeping over the
nations of earth producing era after era, all reminiscent of the age of
Noah - with men "intently brooding over evil continually" (vs. 6). "Men
of renown" stand out as giants of human achievement, yet many of them
are devoid of a living relationship with God. Still, in this dark
world, grace may be found at the hand of our God and Savior, Jesus
Christ. May we who have united ourselves to Christ and who live in this
dark world heed carefully the caution of Nicholas Cabasilas: in order
"that we may not destroy the grace that we have received, but preserve
it to the end and depart this life in possession of the treasure, there
is need of something human, of endeavor on our part."2 Grace abounds to
those who seek it in their hearts and lives.

Consider Noah's contemporaries: they slipped into evaluating everything
by appearances - other people, relationships, and activities. The
example presented in today's passage is the universal human activity,
the selection of a suitable marriage partner. The men of Noah's
generation chose wives because "they were beautiful" (vs. 3). Although
these men had a godly background, they seem to have ignored the
importance of choosing a wife by "the incorruptible beauty of a gentle
and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet.
3:4). They focused on externals, as do many today. Look not on outward
appearance, but to the heart (1 Kings 16:7). Before undertaking
relationships, careers, or any activity, as our Lord teaches, "seek
first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Mt. 6:33).

Having shifted from a spiritual to a materialistic focus, the
orientation of Noah's entire generation became "the flesh." This
prevented the Spirit of God from remaining "...among these men for
ever..." (Gen. 6:4). Describing men who stray from a true, godly
heritage as "flesh" is a Biblical way of speaking. Since the things of
material culture really are extensions of our physical flesh: clothes,
tools, shelter, means of transportation and communication. Thus, the
moment tangibles become what one serves in life, one becomes "flesh."
The heart becomes preoccupied by the material. To recover true,
God-given humanity, it first is necessary to reject such an orientation
and to seek the true life of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus says plainly:
"You cannot serve God and mammon" (Mt. 6:24). What is essential is
being united with Him through prayer, meditation, immersion in worship
and the receiving of Christ's Holy Gifts.

Finally, when people dedicate their lives to the "flesh," they still may
become giants of achievement: in industry, in knowledge, and in
political power; but within such persons the Spirit of God is silenced.
All thought and activity become intent on evil for no place is allowed
for "...righteousness and sanctification and redemption..." (1 Cor.
1:30). We, however, are meant, as St. Seraphim says, to make the
acquisition of the Holy Spirit the true aim of our lives.3

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from
me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing
Spirit establish me. (Ps. 50:11,12 LXX)


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