Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daily meditation 04/23/08


Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 72; PM Psalm 119:73-96
Lev. 19:1-18; 1 Thess. 5:12-28; Matt. 6:19-24

From Forward Day by Day:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28. Pray without ceasing.

We understand that we ought to pray at certain times: upon waking, before meals, on the cusp of sleep. Certainly in emergencies.

But "pray without ceasing"? What can that mean? How is that even possible? The men and women who went into the Egyptian desert in the fourth century to live in silence with God pondered this question. They realized that it was only possible to pray constantly if prayer descended from the head, as it were, and
entered the heart-if prayer somehow became not a conscious enterprise, but as constant as breathing.

In fact, they sought to "breathe" Jesus. The invocation of the name of Jesus, the "Jesus Prayer," became known as the prayer of the heart. Their goal was so
to unite the name (and thereby the very person) of Jesus to one's breathing and life that the prayer be-came spontaneous. Eventually, the desert fathers and mothers believed, one prayed even in one's sleep.

The "way of the name" was a way to participate in the endless love of God that never sleeps, that pours out without ceasing. What might it mean for us to
attempt to pray-to breathe, to live-this way?

Other reflection's on the day's Scripture:

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Chapels Royal, Royal and Religious Peculiars, and Westminster Abbey (The Church of England)

Prayers for Easter Season:

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever
St. Hippolytus (AD 190-236)

Praying for those attending General Convention, 2009:

Speaking to the Soul:

Domesticating emptiness

Daily Reading for April 23

The symbol of Easter is the empty tomb. You can’t depict or domesticate emptiness. You can’t make it into pageants and string it with lights. It doesn’t move people to give presents to each other or sing old songs. It ebbs and flows all around us, the Eastertide. Even the great choruses of Handel’s Messiah sound a little like a handful of crickets chirping under the moon.

He rose. A few saw him briefly and talked to him. If it is true, there is nothing left to say. If it is not true, there is nothing left to say. For believers and unbelievers both, life has never been the same again. For some, neither has death. What is left now is the emptiness. There are those who, like Magdalen, will never stop searching it till they find his face.

From “Easter” in Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith by Frederick Buechner (HarperSanFrancisco, 2004).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Liken yourself to a beautiful original part of creation — a true work of art. Then each day ask yourself how you are living: either in ways that show gratitude for this beauty or in ways that indicate how you are defacing it.
— Robert J. Wicks in Snow Falling on Snow

To Practice This Thought: Watch yourself. Are you showing gratitude for your beauty or defacing it?

An Excerpt from There Is A God, There Is No God: A Companion for the Journey of Unknowing by John Kirvan

John Kirvan provides a new translation and interpretation of the fourteenth century spiritual classic. Here is a passage on the spiritual practice of yearning.

"There comes a moment
when there arises in your soul
a movement that you are
at a loss to describe.

It moves you to desire
you know not what,
only that it is beyond your imagining.

It is God at work within you.

Let God do his work.
Let him lead you, as he will.
He needs only your consent

Be content not to see,
and put aside your need to know.

Accept that someone is moving
lovingly within you,
even if you do not recognize
that it is God at work."
++++++++++ Reflections

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine are the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians


Humility is the only thing we need; one can still fall having
virtues other than humility -- but with humility one does not

Elder Herman of Mt. Athos

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)

Being Sent Into the World

Each of us has a mission in life. Jesus prays to his Father for his followers, saying: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

We seldom realise fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we have to choose how, where, and with whom to live. We act as if we were simply plopped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do.

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

Our Weakness Is Our Strength
April 23rd, 2008
Wednesday’s Reflection

WHEN WE ADMIT our weaknesses …, we discover one of the greatest secrets of the spiritual journey — that in our weakness lies our strength. This is one of the most powerful spiritual truths that we will ever discover. Rather than rejecting us because of our weaknesses, it opens the door for God to come alongside us and help us overcome what had previously defeated us. God’s strength can lead us beyond our weakness and enable us to grow spiritually strong.

- Trevor Hudson
One Day at a Time: Discovering the Freedom of 12-Step Spirituality

From p. 10 of One Day at a Time by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © 2007 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Letting Go

Question of the day:
What must I let go of to receive God's love?

The nothingness we fear so much is, in fact, the treasure that we long for. We long for the space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect; where I am who I am, and it's enough.

Spirituality teaches us how to get naked ahead of time, so God can make love to us as we really are.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction


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

The new leaven

Although it was primarily to Peter that he said: Feed my sheep, yet the one Lord guides all pastors in the discharge of their office and leads to rich and fertile pastures all those who come to the rock. There is no counting the sheep who are nourished with his abundant love, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of the Good Shepherd who died for them.

But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage; the same is true, by faith, of all who are born again in baptism. That is why we are able to celebrate the Lord's paschal sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The leaven of our former malice is thrown out, and a new creature is filled and inebriated with the Lord himself. For the effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive. As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.

Leo the Great

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

St. Matthew 26:6-16 (4/23) Gospel at Vespers & PreSanctified
for Great & Holy Wednesday

Generosity and Covetousness: St. Matthew 26:6-16, especially vss. 13,
14, 15: "'What this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to
her.' Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief
priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to
you?'" The Gospel today portrays two opposites - the overflowing of
generosity, and the corrupting of covetousness. In only one sense can
these two be compared - both are conditions of the heart. Otherwise, in
all respects, they are polar opposites. The first is natural and
life-giving, while the second is unnatural, producing only aberrant
distortions of God's creation.

Of all of the Ten Commandments, only the one which directs us not to
covet (Ex. 20:17) addresses a state of heart. The rest, at face value,
are commands to act or to refrain from specific acts. However, the Lord
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1-7:29), actually erased this
surface distinction among the Ten Commandments when He revealed that all
of them are matters of the heart. We are not animals who simply act and
react, but, rather, spiritual beings in the image of God with the
ability to choose - to give love, to honor, and to worship. It is just
this unique inner capacity that makes it possible, as we read this
account of the Lord at Bethany, to see the heights of generosity and
perceive the murky depths in the pit of covetousness.

Brethren, ascend the heights to blessed generosity! Choose life! The
display of Divine generosity strikes us before all else, as we observe
the Lord Jesus visiting Simon, a leper (Mt. 26:6). We may thank St.
John Chrysostom for having us notice that "not without purpose did the
evangelist mention the leprosy of Simon....For inasmuch as the leprosy
seemed a most unclean disease, and to be abhorred, and yet...Jesus had
both healed the man (for else He would not have chosen to have tarried
with a leper), and had gone into his house."1 The generosity of God
excels even our best unselfishness, for He comes into our very worst of
conditions with healing love.

Notice that the generosity of our Lord does not end with His visiting
and healing Simon, but is poured out also upon the woman who came to
honor Him by anointing His head with "very costly fragrant oil" (vs.
7). Sadly, in reaction to her act of worship, she was made the brunt of
the disciples' indignation: "Why this waste? For this fragrant oil
might have been sold for much and given to the poor" (vss. 8,9). The
loving Christ rises to her defense, liberally reframing the vision of
the disciples to see the generosity underlying her actions: "she has
done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me
you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body,
she did it for My burial" (vss. 10-12). Do not miss how carefully
Christ Jesus prepares us to see His boundless, overflowing generosity,
both in assuming a body and becoming one of us, and in munificently
embracing death and burial for our salvation!

Surely, let us also remember the woman's generosity. As St. John says,
"For in truth the deed came of a reverential mind, and fervent faith,
and a contrite soul....For if she hath wrought a good work, it is quite
evident she shall receive a due reward."2 And this she does, for "in
the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a
memorial to her" (vs. 13).

Against the beauty of all this generosity, let us also tremble at the
ugly coveting shown here. "Then one of the twelve, called Judas
Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to
give me if I deliver Him to you?'" (vss. 14,15). Do we not know full
well that the commandment against coveting, "directed as it is to the
heart, foremost is a warning that greed unchecked will likely lead to
active transgression"?3 It set Judas on the path to betrayal!

O my God, keep me from envy, jealousy, stinginess, and longing for
anything that is another's; rather grant me a gracious, generous heart
toward all, even as Thou hast toward me.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 23, August 23, December 23
Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery

To us, therefore, it seems expedient
for the preservation of peace and charity
that the Abbot have in his hands
the full administration of his monastery.
And if possible let all the affairs of the monastery,
as we have already arranged,
be administered by deans according to the Abbot's directions.
Thus, with the duties being shared by several,
no one person will become proud.

But if the circumstances of the place require it,
or if the community asks for it with reason and with humility,
and the Abbot judges it to be expedient,
let the Abbot himself constitute as his Prior
whomsoever he shall choose
with the counsel of God-fearing brethren.

That Prior, however, shall perform respectfully
the duties enjoined on him by his Abbot
and do nothing against the Abbot's will or direction;
for the more he is raised above the rest,
the more carefully should he observe the precepts of the Rule.

If it should be found that the Prior has serious faults,
or that he is deceived by his exaltation and yields to pride,
or if he should be proved to be a despiser of the Holy Rule,
let him be admonished verbally up to four times.
If he fails to amend,
let the correction of regular discipline be applied to him.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be deposed from the office of Prior
and another be appointed in his place who is worthy of it.
And if afterwards he is not quiet and obedient in the community,
let him even be expelled from the monastery.
But the Abbot, for his part, should bear in mind
that he will have to render an account to God
for all his judgments,
lest the flame of envy or jealousy be kindled in his soul.

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


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