Archive for category Lectio Divina

With the Whole of the Everyday

Lectio Divina: A thought (or two) for the day (and everyday):

God can be beheld in each thing and reached through each pure deed. But this insight is by no means to be equated with a pantheistic world view, as some have thought. …[T]he whole world is only a word out of the mouth of God. Nonetheless, the least thing in the world is worthy that through it God should reveal Himself to the person who truly seeks Him; for no thing can exist without a divine spark, and each person can uncover and redeem this spark at each time and through each action, even the most ordinary, if only he or she performs it in purity, wholly directed to God and concentrated in Him. Therefore, it will not do to serve God only in isolated hours and with set words and gestures. One must serve God with one’s whole life, with the whole of the everyday, with the whole of reality. The salvation of man does not lie in his holding himself far removed from the worldly, but in consecrating it to holy, to divine meaning: his work and his food, his rest and his wandering, the structure of the family and the structure of society. It lies in his preserving the great love of God for all creatures, yes, for all things.

[From Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man, (1958, 1988) 41-42; slightly edited.]

Gloss in the form of a question: What is meant by “purity”?

Martin Buber

Martin Buber

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Doing the Impossible

CHAPTER LXVIII of the Rule of St. Benedict

If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

If, perchance, any difficult or impossible tasks be enjoined on a brother, let him nevertheless receive the order of him who commandeth with all meekness and obedience. If, however, he see that the gravity of the task is altogether beyond his strength, let him quietly and seasonably submit the reasons for his inability to his Superior, without pride, protest, or dissent. If, however, after his explanation the Superior still insisteth on his command, let the younger be convinced that so it is good for him; and let him obey from love, relying on the help of God.

st_benedict_painting

Today is July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict.

(originally posted July 11, 2011)

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On the First Day

If any be devout and love God,
let them enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.

If any be a wise servant,
let them enter rejoicing into the joy of their Lord.

If any have labored long in fasting,
let them now receive their recompense.

If any have wrought from the first hour,
let them today receive their just reward.

If any have come at the third hour,
let them with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
let them have no misgivings, because they shall in no wise be deprived.

If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
let them draw near, fearing nothing.

If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
let them also be not alarmed at their tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor,
will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto them who comes at the eleventh hour,
even as unto them who has worked from the first hour.

And He shows mercy upon the last,
and cares for the first;
and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds,
and welcomes the intention,
and honors the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord,
and receive your reward,
both the first and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together,
hold high festival.

You sober and you heedless,
honor the day.

Rejoice today,
both you who have fasted
and you who have disregarded the fast.

The table is fully laden;
feast sumptuously.

The calf is fatted;
let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy the feast of faith;
receive all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail their poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one weep for their iniquities,
for pardon has shone forth from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the Savior’s death has set us free:
he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into hell, he made hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of his flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried:
“Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.”

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.

It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

–Paschal Sermon, St. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407)


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Saturday

Quiet. All is quiet….

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

link: oremus Bible Browser : Ezekiel 37:1-14


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Friday

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

link: oremus Bible Browser : Isaiah 52:1 – 53:12


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Vocation to go through life guessing wrong

Here are some thoughts from Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island.  First, against a sort of perfectionism:

The relative perfection which we must attain to in this life if we are to live as sons of God is not the twenty-four-hour-a-day production of perfect acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God’s love have been removed or overcome.

One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless charity is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other men.  We can only get rid of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do.  We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs.  But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us – whatever it may be.  If we are too eager to have everything, we will almost certainly miss the one thing we need.

Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the ‘one thing necessary’ may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed. [ch.7]

Then, about a paradoxical vocation:

Each one of us has some kind of vocation.  We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom.  Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom.  If we find that place we will be happy.  If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy.  For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary:  to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.

We must not imagine that we only discover this destiny by a game of hide-and-seek with Divine Providence.  Our vocation is not a sphinx’s riddle, which we must solve in one guess or else perish.  Some people find, in the end, that they have made many wrong guesses and that their paradoxical vocation is to go through life guessing wrong.  It takes them a long time to find out that they are happier that way. [ch.8]

 

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“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better answer he has, the more of a person he is.”

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If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things…

CHAPTER LXVIII of the Rule of St. Benedict

If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

If, perchance, any difficult or impossible tasks be enjoined on a brother, let him nevertheless receive the order of him who commandeth with all meekness and obedience. If, however, he see that the gravity of the task is altogether beyond his strength, let him quietly and seasonably submit the reasons for his inability to his Superior, without pride, protest, or dissent. If, however, after his explanation the Superior still insisteth on his command, let the younger be convinced that so it is good for him; and let him obey from love, relying on the help of God.

st_benedict_painting

Today is July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict.

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