Monday, February 28, 2011

Roman Catholic Daily Readings For Tuesday, 1 March

From USCCB, CNA and Catholic Online:

Daily Readings:

Saints/Martyrs/Feasts/Fasts to be observed/commemmorated/celebrated:

Scriptural Readings:

First Reading - Sir 35:1-12

1 He that keepeth the law, multiplieth offerings.2 It is a wholesome sacrifice to take heed to the commandments, and to depart from all iniquity.3 And to depart from injustice, is to offer a propitiatory sacrifice for injustices, and a begging of pardon for sins.4 He shall return thanks, that offereth fine flour: and he that doth mercy, offereth sacrifice.5 To depart from iniquity is that which pleaseth the Lord, and to depart from injustice, is an entreaty for sins.6 Thou shalt not appear empty in the sight of the Lord.7 For all these things are to be done because of the commandment of God.8 The oblation of the just maketh the altar fat, and is an odour of sweetness in the sight of the most High.9 The sacrifice of the just is acceptable, and the Lord will not forget the memorial thereof.10 Give glory to God with a good heart: and diminish not the firstfruits of thy hands.11 In every gift shew a cheerful countenance, and sanctify thy tithes with joy.12 Give to the most High according to what he hath given to thee, and with a good eye do according to the ability of thy hands:

Psalm - Ps 49:5-8,14,23

5 Gather ye together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.6 And the heavens shall declare his justice: for God is judge.7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God, thy God.8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices: and thy burnt offerings are always in my sight.14 Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High.23 The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will shew him the salvation of God

Gospel - Mk 10:28-31

28 And Peter began to say unto him: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee.29 Jesus answering, said: Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,30 Who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting.31 But many that are first, shall be last: and the last, first.

Enduring The Fires: From Anger To Patience

From Tricycle:

Home › Magazine › Winter 1992 › Enduring The Firesdharma talk

Enduring The Fires

From Anger to PatienceH.H. the Dalai Lama

Last August [1991 - eds.], in a vast tent pitched in a meadow in the Valley of the Vizere in the Dordogne region of France, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expounded the dharma to an audience of five thousand. The week-long teaching took the form of a commentary on the Bodhicaryavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva), the celebrated text written by the eighth-century Indian adept, scholar, and poet Shantideva.

The work of preparing the book of His Holiness' teachings was entrusted to the Padmakara Translation Group. The transcript was published in French by Albin Michel, under the title Comme un eclair dechire la nuit—"like a flash of lightning cutting through the night, " a reference to Shantideva' s simile for the rarity of altruistic intentions. Recently, it was selected by one of the book clubs as "Major Book of the Month," an exceptional event for a book with a spiritual theme. Shambhala Publications will issue an English edition next year. The following excerpts on the practice of the paramita of patience come from the third chapter.


PATIENCE IS one of the vital elements in the bodhisattva's training. This third chapter of the Bodhicaryavatara, which deals with patience, and the eighth chapter, which deals with meditation, together explain the key points of bodhicitta.

1. Good works gathered in a thousand ages,

Such as deeds of generosity

Or offerings to the Blissful Ones:

A single flash of anger shatters them.

2. No evil is there similar to hatred,

Nor austerity to be compared with patience.

Steep yourself, therefore, in patience

In all ways, urgently, with zeal

As a destructive force there is nothing as strong as anger. An instant of anger can destroy all the positive action accumulated over thousands of kalpas through generosity, making offerings to the buddhas, keeping discipline, and so on. So we can say that there is no fault as serious as anger.

Patience, on the other hand, as a discipline which neutralizes anger, which prevents us from succumbing to it, and which appeases the suffering we endure from the heat of the negative emotions, is quite unrivaled. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we resolve to practice patience, and a lot of inspiration can be gained by reflecting on what is wrong with anger and on the advantages of patience.

Positive actions are difficult and infrequent. It is hard to have positive thoughts when our minds are influenced by emotions and confused by adverse circumstances. Negative thoughts arise by themselves, and it is rare that we do a positive action whose motivation, execution, and conclusion are perfectly pure. If our stock of hard-won positive actions is rendered powerless in an instant of anger, the loss is immeasurably more serious than that of some more abundant resource.

3. Those tormented by the pain of anger,

Will never know tranquility of mind,

Strangers to every joy and pleasure;

Sleep deserts them, they will never rest.

Anger chases all happiness away, and makes even the most peaceful features turn livid and ugly. It upsets our physical equilibrium, disturbs our rest, destroys our appetite, and makes us age prematurely. Happiness, peace, and sleep evade us, and we can no longer appreciate people who have helped us and deserve our trust and gratitude. Under the influence of anger, someone of normally good character changes completely and can no longer be counted on. Anger leads both oneself and others to ruin. But anyone who puts his energy into destroying anger will be happy in this life and in lives to come.

7. Getting what I do not want,

And that which hinders my desire:

There my mind finds fuel for misery,

Anger springs from it and beats me down.

8. Therefore I utterly destroy

The sustenance of this my enemy,

My foe, whose sole intention is

To bring me sorrow.

Whenever we think about someone who has wronged us, or someone who is doing (or might do) something we or our friends don't want—preventing us from having what we do want—our mind, at peace before, suddenly begins to feel slightly unsettled. This state of mind fuels our negative thoughts about that person. "What a nasty fellow he is!," we think, and our hatred grows stronger and stronger. It is this first stage, this unsettled feeling which kindles our hatred, that we should try to get rid of.

9. Come what may, then, I will never harm

My cheerful happiness of mind.

Depression never brings me what I want;

My virtue will be warped and marred by it.

10. If there is a cure when trouble comes,

What need is there for being sad?

And if no cure is to be found,

What use is there in sorrow?

We must make an effort to remain in a relaxed state of mind. If we cannot get rid of that unsettled feeling, it will feed our hatred, increase it, and eventually destroy us.

Hatred is far worse than any ordinary enemy. Of course, ordinary enemies harm us: that is why we call them enemies. But the harm they do is not just in order to make us unhappy; it is also meant to be of some help to themselves or their friends. Hatred, the inner enemy, however, has no other function but to destroy our positive actions and make us unhappy. That is why Shantideva calls it "My foe, whose sole intention is to bring me sorrow." From the moment it first appears, it exists for the sole purpose of harming us. So we should confront it with all the means we have, maintain a peaceful state of mind, and avoid getting upset.

WHAT DISCONCERTS US in the first place is that our wishes are not fulfilled. But remaining upset does nothing to help fulfill those wishes. So we neither fulfill our wishes, nor regain our cheerfulness! This disconcerted state, from which anger can grow, is most dangerous. We should try never to let our happiness be disturbed. Whether we are suffering at present or have suffered in the past, there is no reason to be unhappy. If we can remedy it, then why be unhappy? And if we cannot, there's no use in being unhappy about it—it's just one more thing to be unhappy about, which serves no purpose at all.

Portrait of a Monk, circa 1227, from The Hermitage

It is only natural that we don't like suffering. But if we can develop the willpower to bear difficulties, then we will grow more and more tolerant. There is nothing that does not get easier with practice. If we are very forbearing, then something we would normally consider very painful does not appear so bad after all. If we can develop our patience, we will be able to endure even major difficulties that befall us. But without such patient endurance, even the smallest thing becomes unbearable. A lot has to do with our attitude. All of us have some altruistic thoughts, limited though they may be. To develop such thoughts until our wish to help others becomes limitless is what we call bodhicitta. The main obstructions to this development are the wish to harm others, resentment, and anger.

As the antidote to these, therefore, it is essential to meditate on patience. The more deeply we practice patience, the less chance there will be for anger to arise. Practicing patience is the best way to avoid getting angry.

Now, let's talk about love. In my opinion, all beings, starting with humans, appreciate love. Valuing love is a spontaneous feeling. Even animals like the people who are kind to them. When someone looks at you with a loving expression, it makes you feel happy, does it not? Love is a quality that is esteemed throughout all humanity, in all religions. Every religion, including Buddhism, describes its founder above all in terms of his capacity to love. Religions that talk about a Creator refer to his mercy. And the main quality of the Buddhist refuge is love.

WHEN WE DESCRIBE a Pure Land filled with the presence of love, people feel like going there. But were we to describe those Pure Lands as places of warfare and fighting, people would no longer feel any desire to be reborn in such a place. People naturally value love and dislike harmful feelings and actions such as resentment, anger, fighting, stealing, coveting others' possessions, and wishing to harm others. So if love is something that all human beings like, it is certainly something that we can develop if we make the effort.

Many people think that to be patient and to bear loss is a sign of weakness. I think that is wrong. It is anger which is a sign of weakness, and patience a sign of strength. For example, a person arguing a point based on sound reasoning remains confident and may even smile while proving his cause. On the other hand, if his reasons are unsound and he is about to lose face, he gets angry, loses control, and starts talking nonsense. People rarely get angry if they are confident in what they are doing. Anger arises much more easily at moments of confusion.

22. I am not angry with my bile and other humors,

A fertile source of pain and suffering;

Why then be wroth with living beings,

Victims too of such conditions?

Suffering can result from both animate and inanimate causes. We may curse inanimate things like the weather, but it is with animate beings that we most often get angry. If we further analyze these animate causes that make us unhappy, we find that they are themselves influenced by other conditions. They are not making us angry simply because they want to. In this respect, because they are influenced by other conditions they are in fact powerless; so there is no need to get angry with them.

24. Never thinking: 'Now I will be angry,'

People are impulsively caught up in anger;

Irritation, likewise, comes

Though never plans to be experienced!

25. Every injury whatever,

The whole variety of evil deeds:

All arise induced by circumstances,

None are independent and autonomous

26. Yet these causes have no thought

Of brining something into being;

And that which is produced thereby,

Being mindless, has no thought of being so.

47. Those who harm me come against me:

Summoned by my evil karma.

They will be the ones who go to hell,

Am I not therefore the one to injure them?

When others harm us, it is the result of our own past actions, which in fact have instigated them—for, in future, they will suffer because of the harmful act we ourselves have instigated.

When others harm us, that gives us the chance to practice patience, and thus to purify numerous negative actions and accumulate much merit.

Since it is our enemies who give us this great opportunity, in reality they are helping us. But because we are the cause of the negative actions they commit, we are actually harming them. So if there is anyone to get angry with, it should be ourselves. We should never be angry with our enemies, regardless of their attitude, since they are so useful to us.

One might therefore wonder whether, by thus causing our enemies to accumulate negative actions, we accumulate negative actions ourselves; and whether our enemies in so helping us to practice patience have accumulated positive actions. But this is not the case. Although we were the cause for their negative actions, by our practicing patience we actually accumulate merit and will not take rebirth in the lower realms. As it is we who have been patient, that does not help our enemies. On the other hand, if we cannot stay patient when we are harmed, then the harm done by our enemies will not help anyone at all. Moreover, by losing patience and getting angry we transgress our vow to follow the discipline of a bodhisattva.

If, for example, a person condemned to death were to have his life spared in exchange for having his hands cut off, he would feel very happy. Similarly, when we have the chance to purify a great suffering by enduring a slight injury, we should accept it. If, unable to bear insults, we get angry, we are only creating worse suffering for the future. Difficult though it may be, we should try instead to think openly, on a vaster perspective, and not retaliate.

74. For the sake of my desired aims,

A thousand times I have endured the fires

And other pains of hell,

Achieving nothing for myself and others.

75. The present pains are nothing to compare with those,

And yet great benefits accrue from them.

These afflictions which dispel the troubles of all wandering beings:

I should only delight in them.

So far we have been, and are still, going through endless suffering, without this suffering doing us any good whatsoever. Now that we have promised to be good-hearted, we should try not to get angry when others insult us. Being patient may not be easy. It requires considerable concentration. But the result we achieve by enduring these difficulties will be sublime. That is something to be happy about!

90. The rigamarole of praise and reputation

Serves not to increase merit nor the span of life,

Bestowing neither health nor strength of body,

It contributes nothing to the body's ease.

98. Praise and compliments disturb me,

And soften my revulsion with samsara:

I begin to covet others' qualities and

Every excellence is thereby spoiled.

Praise, if you think about it, is actually a distraction. For example, in the beginning one may be a simple, humble monk, content with little. Later on people may start to praise one, saying, "He's a lama," and one begins to feel a bit more proud and to be more self-conscious in how one feels and behaves. Then the eight worldly considerations become stronger, do they not, and the praise we receive distracts us, destroying our renunciation.

Again, at first when we have little to compare ourselves with, we do not feel jealous of others. But later we begin to "grow some hair," and as our status increases so does our rivalry with others in important positions. We feel jealous of anyone with good qualities, and in the end this destroys our own good qualities. Being praised is not really a good thing—it can be the source of negative actions.

99. Those who stay close by me, then,

To ruin my good name and cut me down to size,

Are they not my guardians saving me

From falling into realms of sorrow?

As our real goal is enlightenment, we should not be angry with our enemies, who in fact dispel all the obstacles to our attaining enlightenment.

101. They, like Buddha's very blessing,

Bar my way, determined as I am

To plunge myself in suffering:

How could I be angry with them?

102. We should not be angry, saying,

'They are an obstacle to virtue,'

Patience is the peerless austerity,

And is this not my chosen path?

It is no use saying that our enemies are preventing us from practicing, and that is why we get angry. For if we truly want to practice, there is no practice more important than patience. We cannot pretend to practice without patience.

If we cannot bear the harm our enemies do to us, and get angry instead, we are obstructing our own achievement of an immensely positive action. Nothing can exist without a cause, and the practice of patience could not exist without there being people who do us harm. How, then, can we call such people obstacles to our practice of patience, which is one of the fundamental practices of a Mahayana practitioner? We can hardly call a beggar an obstacle to generosity.

There are so many charitable causes, such as beggars, in the world; whereas those who make us angry and test our patience are very few—especially if we avoid harming others. So when we encounter these rare enemies, we should appreciate them.

107. Like a treasure found at home,

Enriching me without fatigue,

Enemies are helpers in the bodhisattva life,

I should take delight in them.

When we have been patient toward an enemy, we should dedicate the fruit of this practice of patience to him, because he is the cause of the practice. He has been very kind to us. We might think, why does he deserve this dedication when he had no intention to make us practice patience? But if objects need to have an intention before they deserve our respect, then in that case the dharma itself, which points out the cessation of suffering and is the cause of happiness, yet has no intention of helping us, should not be worthy of respect.

We might then think that our enemy is undeserving because, unlike the dharma, he actually wishes to harm us. But if everyone was as kind and well­intentioned as a doctor, how could we ever practice patience? And when a doctor, intending to cure us, hurts us by amputating a limb, cutting us open, or pricking us with needles, we do not think of him as an enemy and get angry with him, so we do not practice patience toward him. But enemies are those who intend to harm us, and it is because of that that we are able to practice patience toward them.

If we really take refuge in the buddhas, then we should respect their wishes. After all, in ordinary life it is normal to adapt in some way to one's friends and respect their wishes. The ability to do so is considered a good quality. If, on the one hand, we say that we have heartfelt devotion and take refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha, but on the other hand, in our actual actions, we take no notice of what displeases them, and just walk over them, that is truly sad. We are prepared to conform to the standards of ordinary people but not to those of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. How miserable! If, for example, a Christian truly loves God, then he should practice love toward all his fellow human beings. Otherwise, he is failing to practice his religion: his words and deeds contradict each other.

In general, it is the notion of enemies that is the main obstacle to bodhicitta. If we can transform an enemy into someone toward whom we feel respect and gratitude, then our practice will naturally progress, like water following a downhill course.

To be patient means not to get angry with those who harm us and to have compassion. That is not to say that we should let them do what they like. For example, we Tibetans have undergone great difficul­ties at the hands of others. But we are not angry with them, since if we get angry we can only lose. This is why we are practicing patience. But we are not going to let injustice and oppression go unnoticed.

Russian Orthodox Church In America Daily Readings For Monday, 28 February


Daily Readings:

Saints/Martyrs/Feasts/Fasts to be observed/commemmorated/celebrated:

Today's commemorated feasts and saints...

Ven. Basil the Confessor, Companion of Ven. Procopius at Decapolis (750). Bl. Nikolai, Fool-for-Christ at Pskov (1576). Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria (457). Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia (250). Ven. Marina (Marana), Cyra (Kira) and Domnica (Domnina), of Syria (ca. 450). Ven John Cassian the Roman (435) [from Feb 29 - commemorated Feb. 28 in non-Leap Years].

Venerable Basil the Confessor, companion of the Venerable Procopius at Decapolis

Saint Basil the Confessor was a monk and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those who venerated holy icons, St Basil and his companion St Procopius of Decapolis (February 27) were subjected to much torture and locked up in prison. Here both martyrs languished for a long while, until the death of the impious emperor.
When the holy Confessors Basil and Procopius were set free along with other venerators of holy icons, they continued in their monastic struggles, instructing many in the Orthodox Faith and the virtuous life. St Basil died peacefully in the year 750.

Blessed Nicholas (Salos) of Pskov the Fool-For-Christ

Blessed Nicholas of Pskov lived the life of a holy fool for more than three decades. Long before his death he acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gifts of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula [Mikola, Nikola] the Fool. Even during his lifetime they revered him as a saint, even calling him Mikula the saintly.
In February 1570, after a devastating campaign against Novgorod, Tsar Ivan the Terrible moved against Pskov, suspecting the inhabitants of treason. As the Pskov Chronicler relates, "the Tsar came ... with great fierceness, like a roaring lion, to tear apart innocent people and to shed much blood."
On the first Saturday of Great Lent, the whole city prayed to be delivered from the Tsar's wrath. Hearing the peal of the bell for Matins in Pskov, the Tsar's heart was softened when he read the inscription on the fifteenth century wonderworking Liubyatov Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God (March 19) in the Monastery of St Nicholas (the Tsar's army was at Lubyatov). "Be tender of heart," he said to his soldiers. "Blunt your swords upon the stones, and let there be an end to killing."
All the inhabitants of Pskov came out upon the streets, and each family knelt at the gate of their house, bearing bread and salt to the meet the Tsar. On one of the streets Blessed Nicholas ran toward the Tsar astride a stick as though riding a horse, and cried out: "Ivanushko, Ivanushko, eat our bread and salt, and not Christian blood."
The Tsar gave orders to capture the holy fool, but he disappeared.
Though he had forbidden his men to kill, Ivan still intended to sack the city. The Tsar attended a Molieben at the Trinity cathedral, and he venerated the relics of holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11), and expressed his wish to receive the blessing of the holy fool Nicholas. The saint instructed the Tsar "by many terrible sayings," to stop the killing and not to plunder the holy churches of God. But Ivan did not heed him and gave orders to remove the bell from the Trinity cathedral. Then, as the saint prophesied, the Tsar's finest horse fell dead.
The blessed one invited the Tsar to visit his cell under the belltower. When the Tsar arrived at the cell of the saint, he said, "Hush, come in and have a drink of water from us, there is no reason you should shun it." Then the holy fool offered the Tsar a piece of raw meat.
"I am a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent", said Ivan to him. "But you drink human blood," the saint replied.
Frightened by the fulfillment of the saint's prophecy and denounced for his wicked deeds, Ivan the Terrible ordered a stop to the looting and fled from the city. The Oprichniki, witnessing this, wrote: "The mighty tyrant ... departed beaten and shamed, driven off as though by an enemy. Thus did a worthless beggar terrify and drive off the Tsar with his multitude of a thousand soldiers."
Blessed Nicholas died on February 28, 1576 and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of the city he had saved. Such honors were granted only to the Pskov princes, and later on, to bishops.
The local veneration of the saint began five years after his death. In the year 1581, during a siege of Pskov by the soldiers of the Polish king Stephen Bathory, the Mother of God appeared to the blacksmith Dorotheus together with a number of Pskov saints praying for the city. Among these was Blessed Nicholas (the account about the Pskov-Protection Icon of the Mother of God is found under October 1).
At the Trinity cathedral they still venerate the relics of Blessed Nicholas of Pskov, who was "a holy fool in the flesh, and by assuming this holy folly he became a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem" (Troparion). He also "transformed the Tsar's wild thoughts into mercy" (Kontakion).

Hieromartyr Proterius the Patriarch of Alexandria

The Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria, and those with him. The priest Proterius lived in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus (444-451), an adherent of the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches. Proterius fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox Faith.
In 451 at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, the heresy of Eutyches was condemned and the teaching of Christ as Perfect God and Perfect Man, existing in these two natures "unconfusedly" and "indivisibly" [and "immutably" and "inseparably"] was set forth. The heretic Dioscorus was deposed and exiled, and Proterius, distinguished for his strict and virtuous life, was placed upon the patriarchal throne of Alexandria.
However, many supporters of Dioscorus remained in Alexandria. Rebelling against the election of Proterius, they rioted and burned the soldiers who were sent out to pacify them. The pious emperor Marcian (450-457) deprived the Alexandrians of all the privileges they were accustomed to, and sent new and reinforced detachments of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city then quieted down and begged Patriarch Proterius to intercede with the emperor to restore their former privileges to them. The kindly saint consented and readily obtained their request.
After the death of Marcian the heretics again raised their heads. Presbyter Menignus ("the Cat"), himself striving for the patriarchal dignity, and taking advantage of the absence of the prefect of the city, was at the head of the rioters. St Proterius decided to leave Alexandria, but that night he saw in a dream the holy Prophet Isaiah, who said to him, "Return to the city, I am waiting to take you." The saint realized that this was a prediction of his martyric end. He returned to Alexandria and concealed himself in a baptistry.
The insolent heretics broke into this refuge and killed the Patriarch and six men who were with him. The fact that it was Holy Saturday and the Canon of Pascha was being sung did not stop them. In their insane hatred they tied a rope to the body of the murdered Patriarch, and dragged it through the streets. They beat and lacerated it, and finally they burned it, scattering the ashes to the wind.
The Orthodox reported this to the holy Emperor Leo (457-474) and St Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople (July 3). An army arrived at Alexandria, the rebellion was crushed, and Menignus was brought to trial and exiled.
Regarding the death of the Hieromartyr Proterius, four Thracian bishops of his time wrote: "We consider His Holiness Proterius to be in the ranks and choir of the saints, and we beseech God to be compassionate and merciful to us through his prayers."

Hieromartyr Nestor the Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia

The Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), he was arrested while praying in his home. He learned of the suffering awaiting him through a peculiar vision. He saw a lamb prepared for sacrifice.
The ruler of the city of Magydos sent him for trial to Perge. On the way there St Nestor was strengthened in spirit when he heard a Voice from Heaven, after which an earthquake occurred. After cruel tortures at Perge the hieromartyr was crucified in the year 250.

Venerable Marana of Syria

Saints Marana and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and departed the city when they had reached maturity.
Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements.
On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and they spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting.
The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his RELIGIOSA HISTORIA. Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak in body, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. Once he left, however, they resumed wearing the chains.
So they lived in asceticism for forty years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During their journey (which took twenty days) they ate no food until they had prayed at the Holy Places. On the way back, they also went without eating. They did the same thing at another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) at Seleucia, Isauria.
Sts Marana and Kyra died in about the year 450. Their ascetical life equalled that of the great male ascetics of the desert, and they received the same crown of victory from Christ the Savior.

Venerable Kyra of Syria

Saints Marana and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and departed the city when they had reached maturity.
Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements.
On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and they spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting.
The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his RELIGIOSA HISTORIA. Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak in body, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. Once he left, however, they resumed wearing the chains.
So they lived in asceticism for forty years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During their journey (which took twenty days) they ate no food until they had prayed at the Holy Places. On the way back, they also went without eating. They did the same thing at another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) at Seleucia, Isauria.
Sts Marana and Kyra died in about the year 450. Their ascetical life equalled that of the great male ascetics of the desert, and they received the same crown of victory from Christ the Savior.

Venerable Domnica (Domnina) of Syria

Saint Domnica (Domnina) was a Syrian nun, and a companion of Sts Marana and Kyra

Scriptural Readings:

3 John 1:1-15 (Epistle)

1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,

6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,

7 because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.

8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.

10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink;

14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

Luke 19:29-40; 22:7-39 (Gospel)

29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,

30 saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.

31 And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.

33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?"

34 And they said, "The Lord has need of him."

35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.

36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,

38 saying: " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."

40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb must be killed.

8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat."

9 So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?"

10 And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.

11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?" '

12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.

13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.

15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves;

18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.

22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!

23 Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

24 Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.

25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.'

26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.

27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.

28 But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.

29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,

30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.

32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.

33 But he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death."

34 Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

35 And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing."

36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.

37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end.

38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.

Presbyterian Daily Readings For Monday, 28 February


Daily Readings for Monday, February 28, 2011

Morning Psalms 62; 145

First Reading Deuteronomy 4:9-14

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Gospel Matthew 6:7-15

Evening Psalms 73; 9


Morning Psalm 62

1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

3 How long will you assail a person,

will you batter your victim, all of you,

as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.

They take pleasure in falsehood;

they bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse. Selah

5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,

for my hope is from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;

my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us. Selah

9 Those of low estate are but a breath,

those of high estate are a delusion;

in the balances they go up;

they are together lighter than a breath.

10 Put no confidence in extortion,

and set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;

twice have I heard this:

that power belongs to God,

12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.

For you repay to all

according to their work.

Morning Psalm 145

1 I will extol you, my God and King,

and bless your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless you,

and praise your name forever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

his greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall laud your works to another,

and shall declare your mighty acts.

5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,

and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

6 The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,

and I will declare your greatness.

7 They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,

and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 The Lord is good to all,

and his compassion is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,

and all your faithful shall bless you.

11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,

and tell of your power,

12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,

and gracious in all his deeds.

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,

and raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,

and you give them their food in due season.

16 You open your hand,

satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17 The Lord is just in all his ways,

and kind in all his doings.

18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,

to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him;

he also hears their cry, and saves them.

20 The Lord watches over all who love him,

but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,

and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.

First Reading Deuteronomy 4:9-14

9But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children — 10how you once stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Assemble the people for me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me as long as they live on the earth, and may teach their children so”; 11you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. 12Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13He declared to you his covenant, which he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them on two stone tablets. 14And the Lord charged me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

1I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! — 2I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to human standards. 3Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6We are ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.

7Look at what is before your eyes. If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this, that just as you belong to Christ, so also do we. 8Now, even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9I do not want to seem as though I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11Let such people understand that what we say by letter when absent, we will also do when present.

12We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense. 13We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you. 14For we were not overstepping our limits when we reached you; we were the first to come all the way to you with the good news of Christ. 15We do not boast beyond limits, that is, in the labors of others; but our hope is that, as your faith increases, our sphere of action among you may be greatly enlarged, 16so that we may proclaim the good news in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in someone else’s sphere of action. 17“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.

Gospel Matthew 6:7-15

7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9“Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,

but rescue us from the evil one.

14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Evening Psalm 73

1 Truly God is good to the upright,

to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;

my steps had nearly slipped.

3 For I was envious of the arrogant;

I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For they have no pain;

their bodies are sound and sleek.

5 They are not in trouble as others are;

they are not plagued like other people.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;

violence covers them like a garment.

7 Their eyes swell out with fatness;

their hearts overflow with follies.

8 They scoff and speak with malice;

loftily they threaten oppression.

9 They set their mouths against heaven,

and their tongues range over the earth.

10 Therefore the people turn and praise them,

and find no fault in them.

11 And they say, “How can God know?

Is there knowledge in the Most High?”

12 Such are the wicked;

always at ease, they increase in riches.

13 All in vain I have kept my heart clean

and washed my hands in innocence.

14 For all day long I have been plagued,

and am punished every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will talk on in this way,”

I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.

16 But when I thought how to understand this,

it seemed to me a wearisome task,

17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;

then I perceived their end.

18 Truly you set them in slippery places;

you make them fall to ruin.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment,

swept away utterly by terrors!

20 They are like a dream when one awakes;

on awaking you despise their phantoms.

21 When my soul was embittered,

when I was pricked in heart,

22 I was stupid and ignorant;

I was like a brute beast toward you.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me with honor.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;

you put an end to those who are false to you.

28 But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

to tell of all your works.

Evening Psalm 9

1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2 I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3 When my enemies turned back,

they stumbled and perished before you.

4 For you have maintained my just cause;

you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;

you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

6 The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;

their cities you have rooted out;

the very memory of them has perished.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever,

he has established his throne for judgment.

8 He judges the world with righteousness;

he judges the peoples with equity.

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,

for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion.

Declare his deeds among the peoples.

12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;

he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD.

See what I suffer from those who hate me;

you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,

14 so that I may recount all your praises,

and, in the gates of daughter Zion,

rejoice in your deliverance.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;

in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.

16 The LORD has made himself known, he has executed judgment;

the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.


17 The wicked shall depart to Sheol,

all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,

nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

19 Rise up, O LORD! Do not let mortals prevail;

let the nations be judged before you.

20 Put them in fear, O LORD;

let the nations know that they are only human. Selah

Message For The Week (BOTSCHAFT FÜR DIE WOCHE - MEDYTACJA TYGODNIA) For Sunday, 27 February

From:  P. Teodor Puszcz SChr

3. Fastensonntag

Das Bild für den dritten Fastensonntag erzählt auf seine Weise die Begegnung Jesu mit der fremdstämmigen Frau aus dem Johannesevangelium (Joh 4, 5-42). Es ist eine Miniatur aus dem Devotionale pulcherrimum (Codex Einsidlensis 285), geschaffen im Jahre 1472.

Die spätmittelalterliche Pergamenthandschrift stellt ein Gebetbuch von St. Galler Abt Ulrich Rösch (1463-1491) dar. Das Buch enthält 69 lateinische Gebete und Texte sowie ein Bilder-Zyklus. Die kleinformatige Handschrift (16 x 11, 5 cm) war sicher eine gute Reisebegleiterin des Fürstabts. Dem Bild ist ein Gebet O pie et exorabilis deus... beigeordnet.

Auf ersten Blick fällt uns auf, dass Jesus und Frau unterschiedlich bekleidet sind. Jesus trägt einfache dunkelblaue Tunika, ist barfuss und ohne Kopfbedeckung. Die Frau aber ist sehr prachtvoll und bunt bekleidet. Sie trägt die Schuhe an den Füssen und eine Kopfbedeckung.

Sie steht, er sitzt. Die Begegnung ist in eine europäische Landschaft und eine mittelalterliche Zeit eingeschrieben. Solche Bäume, solcher Brunnen und auch der Zinnkrug passen nicht in die Heilig-Land-Szenerie. Die Jünger scheinen schon zurückgekehrt zu sein und hören zu.

Ein Gedanke von reich werden und von Beschenken kommt uns in den Sinn. Wer ist hier reich? Und wer wird beschenkt? Jesus fängt ein Gespräch mit einer Frau aus einem fremden Volk an - das stört ihn nicht. Es geht um das Wasser, weil es heißer Mittag ist und Jesus müde geworden ist. Jesus will sie mit dem lebendigen Wasser beschenken, das heißt weiter, mit dem Leben. Er hat gesagt: Wer Durst hat, komme zu mir, und es trinke, wer an mich glaubt (Joh 7, 37). Jesus zitiert gleich die Worte des Propheten: Aus seinem Inneren werden Ströme von lebendigen Wasser fließen (Joh 7, 38). Der Evangelist belehrt uns: Damit meinte er den Geist, den alle empfangen sollten, die an ihn glauben (Joh 7, 39). Also, es geht um das Leben im Geiste.

Jesus ist reich an Güte und Erbarmen und kann die Armut des Menschen verändern. In dem Gebet zu dem Bild werden Taten Jesu genannt, mit denen er den Hauptmann, den Gelähmten und Lazarus beschenkt. Auch andere werden aufgezählt: Du reinigst Aussätzige, du erweckst Tote, du heilst Gelähmte, du schenkst Blinden das Licht, rettest den Räuber und linderst die verschiedenen Krankheiten. Hier ist Jesus der Reiche, der die arme Frau mit Glauben und mit Leben beschenkt.

Bei der Frau fängt es mit dem Bekenntnis an, dann kommt das Verlangen und endlich die Erkenntnis, dass er der Messias ist, der Heiland der Welt. Bei uns könnte er das gleiche bewirken.

Das Gebet zu dem Bild aus dem Gebetbuch des Abtes endet so:

Tränke mit einem so erfrischenden Trank

mein ausgetrocknetes Herz [o Christus]!

Und lass mich einst teilnehmen am Gastmahl der Ewigkeit

3 Niedziela Wielkiego Postu

Obraz na trzecią Niedzielę Wielkiego Postu opowiada na swój sposób o spotkaniu Jezusa z kobietą z obcego narodu z ewangelii św. Jana (J 4, 5-42). Jest to miniatura z Devotionale pulcherrimum (Cod. Einsidlensis 285) powstałego w 1472 roku. Ten pergaminowy rękopis z późnego Średniowiecza jest modlitewnikiem opata Ulricha Rörsch (1463-1491) z St. Gallen. Ta książeczka zawiera 69 łacińskich modlitw i tekstów oraz cykl obrazów. Ten rękopis małego formatu (16 x 11, 5 cm) był z pewnością dobrym towarzyszem opata w drodze. Temu obrazowi jest przyporządkowana modlitwa O pie et exorabilis deus...

Od razu rzuca się w oczy, że Jezus i kobieta różnią się w ubiorze. Jezus ma na sobie skromną, ciemnoniebieską tunikę, jest boso i bez nakrycia głowy. Kobieta natomiast jest bogato i kolorowo ubrana, ma buty na nogach i zawój na głowie. Ona stoi, a On siedzi. To spotkanie jest wpisane w europejski pejzaż i w średniowieczną epokę. Takie drzewa, taka studnia i cynkowy dzbanek nie pasują do scenerii Ziemi Świętej. Wygląda na to, że uczniowie już powrócili i przysłuchują się.

Skojarzeniem, które się narzuca jest myśl o byciu bogatym i o obdarowywaniu. Kto jest tutaj bogaty? I kto jest obdarowywany? Jezus rozpoczyna rozmowę z kobietą z obcego narodu - Jemu to nie przeszkadza. Chodzi o wodę, bo jest gorące południe i Jezus jest zmęczony. Jezus chce jej dać wody żywej, to znaczy dalej, życie. On powiedział: Jeśli ktoś jest spragniony, a wierzy we Mnie - niech przyjdzie do Mnie i pije (J 7, 37). I od razu cytuje słowa proroka: Rzeki wody żywej popłyną z jego wnętrza (J 7, 38). A ewangelista poucza nas, że powiedział to o Duchu, którego mieli otrzymać wierzący w Niego (J 7, 39). A więc chodzi o życie w Duchu.

Jezus jest bogaty w dobroć i miłosierdzie, i może ludzką biedę przemienić. W modlitwie do tego obrazu jest mowa o czynach Jezusa, którymi obdarzył setnika, sparaliżowanego i Łazarza. Mowa jest także o innych: Ty oczyszczasz trędowatych, wskrzeszasz umarłych, leczysz sparaliżowanych, ociemniałym przywracasz wzrok, ratujesz łotra i leczysz różne choroby. Tutaj Jezus jest bogatym, który ubogą kobietę obdarza wiarą i życiem.

U kobiety wszystko rozpoczęło się od wyznania, potem przyszło pragnienie, a w końcu zrozumienie, że On jest Mesjaszem, Zbawicielem świata. Z nami mógłby to samo uczynić.

Modlitwa do tego obrazu z modlitwenika opata kończy się tak:

Napój tym tak orzeźwiającym napojem

moje wyschłe serce [Chryste]!

I pozwól mi kiedyś ucztować w wieczności.

Mennonite Daily Readings And Devotionals For Monday, 28 February


Daily Readings and Devotionals:

A Sip of Scripture

Daily Scripture:


The apostles worked many miracles and wonders among the people. … Many men and women started having faith in the Lord.

Reference: Acts 5: 12a, 14. CEV

New King James Version (NKJV)

Acts 5:12

View commentary related to this passage

Continuing Power in the Church

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.

New King James Version (NKJV)

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Acts 5:12

View commentary related to this passage

Continuing Power in the Church

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.

Glimpses of God's Hand

Carol Honderich invites you to study the lives of women of the Bible with her in a twice-monthly column.

Glimpses of God's Hand

Reflections on God's hand at work in the lives of women of the Bible

Leaving Sodom with Lot's Wife

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” Genesis 19:15-17

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26

For more than 20 years, from when they initially separated their flocks and people from those of Abraham and Sarah’s, Lot and his family made their home on the plains near, and eventually in, Sodom. Given the opportunity to choose his territory, this land was the most attractive to Lot. He saw it as providing an easier life, with well-watered grassy grazing land for his flocks, and the convenience and excitement of city dwelling for his family in the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorra. Lot chose this location in spite of knowing these cities had a reputation for wickedness. He chose this land not only for his flocks, but also where he would raise his family. In Sodom, Lot and his wife established their home and became part of the community. Lot sat at the city gate, a place of authority and leadership, and from the residents of Sodom, Lot found husbands for his daughters.

We know very little about Lot’s wife. Jewish folklore provides us with the name of Edith. She is called Ado in the apocryphal Book of Jasher, which contains more stories and illustrations of the wickedness of Sodom. We also know that she and Lot had at least two daughters still living at home, and possibly more adult children living in Sodom. In an earlier time of war between the kings of Sodom and the surrounding territories, Lot and his family were taken as prisoners. Abraham sent his 318 trained men to rescue them. And again, when Abraham heard of God’s plan to destroy Sodom, he bargained with God to save Lot and his family. God honored Abraham’s plea and sent angels to Sodom to guide Lot and his family out of the city. Clearly, it was dangerous to live in Sodom, but something held Lot and his wife there, making it difficult for them to see the danger, and difficult for them to extract themselves from their circumstances.

When Lot first greeted these strangers as they arrived in Sodom on their mission of rescue, did Lot recognize them as angels? If not at this initial encounter, when in this story did Lot realize that he was being protected by angels? These “strangers” to whom Lot offered hospitality, revealed to him God’s plans for the destruction of the city, and also demonstrated their power of protection by causing blindness to strike the men who attacked Lot’s house demanding to have their way with his guests. Here was real danger and Lot’s response was to offer his virgin daughters to appease the threatening mob, a response that indicates the eroded condition of Lot’s moral judgment.

Lot and his family were offered a miraculous rescue, and yet they resisted leaving this place. Their lives were so steeped in the ways of this wicked place that they could not hear or respond to the warning of angels, who quite literally had to pull them from the city. What was the strong attraction for Lot’s family in Sodom that they were willing to risk their lives to stay? In spite of his reluctance, Genesis 19:16-17 tells us that the angels were finally successful in extracting Lot from the city: When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” They were saved! Abraham’s bargaining with God had made a difference. God’s mercy and provisions had rescued them. They were ushered (dragged) to safety, pulled away from harm and destruction.

But Lot’s wife turned back … this was not a curious look over her shoulder, not an involuntary response to the explosions and fire pouring down on Sodom. No, she followed her heart and turned back. In Luke 17, Jesus referred to Lot’s wife when he warned us of the dangers of placing our hope and dependence in the things of this world, “Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”

What creature comforts or activities hold such strong attachments for you that you can’t let them go? What activities are replacing time you could spend with God? What relationships may be eroding your own moral judgment? Ask God for insight and awareness of these dangers in your life, and then consider a “week-long retreat” from anything that may have a tight and negative hold on your life.

Show me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love, remember me, for you, LORD, are good.

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.

Psalm 25:4-7, 20-21

Posted 2/26/2011 7:00:00 AM

Related Blog

A Simple Desire

The weblog "a simple desire" provides brief commentaries on "A Sip of Scripture" from a Mennonite perspective, The commentaries are written by Carole Boshart, of Oregon; Will Fitzgerald, of Michigan; and others on occasion

Short commentary on “A Sip of Scripture” from Third Way Cafe

Miracles in Mission

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“The apostles worked many miracles and wonders among the people. … Many men and women started having faith in the Lord. “ ( Acts 5: 12a, 14. CEV )

Miracle and wonders. I have the mental image of sorcerers in gowns and tall pointed hats decorated with stars waving their hands in the air and conjuring things up. Right out some Walt Disney special, probably influenced by the original “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” But that’s not what this verse is about.

However, that’s what it may have seemed like; that the apostles seem to have some special power or knowledge that allowed them to heal, prophesy, and ease problems. And if the apostles faithfully attributed it to God and told the people they too could be ushered into this “magical” faith, I am sure many would believe.

But missional reader, the test of faith is not what is possible in good times but what people cling to and what lasts in bad times. This passage is fairly early in Acts; Saul who would become Paul has not started at yet persecuting the Christians. Acts is fairly early in the history of Christianity (and mission, for that matter). Christians have been tested over and over again in many countries and in many generations. Each time the true miracle and wonder is that Christians hold fast to their beliefs, continue having faith in the Lord, and think so much of it that they pass it on.

May you missional reader remember the miracle of mission, and may you pass on the miracle to those you meet. Selah!

Written by Carole

February 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

Posted in commentary

Tagged with evangelism, Acts, Missional, Mission, Fellowship, Missiology

Related Website

Soul Space

You are invited to take some time each day for "Soul Space," written by Wendy Miller and posted on the Eastern Mennonite University website. Each day's guidance centers around a theme for reflection and prayer drawn from the lectionary readings for the week.

Morning- Week Four

Opening the day with prayer.

As darkness fades and dawn awakens

Lord, give me the joy of your saving help

And sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

In the tender light of morning

Help me as I pray.

In the name of Jesus, bright and morning star. Amen.

Morning by morning God wakens–

wakens my ear

to listen

as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:5


Loving God,

Help me to hear your call

To be with you –

In the solitude of the desert.

Awaken my mind and soul to your work

And your guidance;

help me not to run into busy avoidance,

Open my eyes to see Jesus.



Be still.

Open your awareness to God’s presence

Within and all around.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Being With- Lent Week One

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,

You call us to come

To be with you.

By your Spirit help me

To see you,

To hear you,

To receive your Spirit,

To be led by your Spirit.


Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Season of Lent: Week One

The Lenten journey draws us into the desert and in many ways leaves us there for a season. Why the desert? “The desert has nothing to offer. It affords no hiding place, no refuge. It is a place of desolation and liberation. But the desert is not merely a place. It is a symbol of Christian experience. The desert as both place and experience becomes associated with journeying; with testing (to discern and sift); with seeking another country, a promised land – the reality of the kingdom of God.” (from John Moses, The Desert: An Anthology for Lent. Morehouse, 1997. 15)

Being in the desert is no escape from the realities of the world’s system, rather it is a place where God frees us from our captivity to what the world offers. This season in the wilderness releases us gradually from our attachments and from the myriad of distractions that keep us occupied and unable to see God’s presence and work within and around us. This season in the desert prepares us to be in the world, but not of the world. Jesus is here, in this desert place – facing into the lure of how to be successful, how to attract people’s attention, how to prove God is present. But he chooses to trust, to rest in Abba. He sees the temptation for what it is. Rather than turning stones into bread, he trusts God to offer manna in the wilderness.

As the lectionary guides us into the gospel narratives which in turn lead us to Jerusalem, we will become aware of the tension this journey to Golgotha sets up for Jesus’ followers. This journey to Jerusalem is a desert for them – for the structures and attachments to which they cling are being exposed and challenged. And they are not yet ready to receive the map Jesus offers them in this wilderness of life and soul.

The invitation here is to enter into the silence and solitude of this desert journey, and to learn to be with Jesus – who in turn dwells in the presence of Abba God, and receives help and sustenance. Here we are brought face to face with our own interior world, and God. This is the Lenten journey.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,

You come to us.

Help me to see as you see,

To recognize your presence

In the desert,

And to learn God’s way.


Season of Lent: Week One

» 3/8 Monday: Matthew 6:1-6

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See more books at the Bible Gateway storeMatthew 6:1-6 (King James Version)

Matthew 6

1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


The third movement within Soul Space is Responding. Here we shift our focus towards outward engagement.


Pray for the coming day, and for God’s servants who are bringing good news, healing and hope in the world, especially for ___________________________ (persons you desire to pray for).

Loving God,

You are Lord of the harvest, and Owner of the farm.

Thank you for calling _____________________ to co-labor with You in the field of this world.

Help ___________________ this day to know your voice and guidance, to be led and empowered by your Spirit, and protected from all that is against you and your work in the world. May your kingdom come, and your will be done in their life and in the lives of those they companion into your gracious love and salvation.

In the name of Jesus, Savior, Emmanuel.



Pray for the coming day, and for the alienated world in which we live.

Lord Jesus,

You who came among us,

moving into the painful fractures of our cultures

offering the healing invitation of the Kingdom,

walk into the lonely chasms in our world,

our nation, our cities, our households.


help me feel the sadness and pain of persons

who are suffering because of terrorism, hate crimes, war, prejudice.

Soften my heart with your sorrow and compassion.

Lord Jesus,

walk among us by your Spirit. I bring to

you this day, for your care, release, and healing:

persons who are victims of violence, of greed, of addictions; ___________________________

prisoners of war, of illness, old age, famine and hunger; _______________________

people who are homeless and suffering, who have lost family, friends, neighbors,

because of storms, earthquakes, floods. ____________________________

People who grieve, Whose hearts weep, Whose bodies suffer. ________________________

Comfort and heal through your goodness and provision, healing and hope, as I pray and wait in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Loving God,

Help me to hear your call

To be with you –

In the solitude of the desert.

Awaken my mind and soul to your work

And your guidance;

help me not to run into busy avoidance,

Open my eyes to see Jesus.


Evening- Week Four

Closing the day with gratefulness.

It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD,

And to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;

To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning

And of your faithfulness in the night season.

Psalm 92:1,2

As I come to the end of this day,

For what am I thankful?

How have I known God’s faithfulness this day?

What do bring to God . . .?

For confession . . .

For forgiveness . . .

For help . . .

For God’s holding.


The psalm for this week’s lectionary readings.


Closing Prayer

Living God,

In you there is no darkness;

Shed upon us through this night the light of your forgiveness,

Your healing and your peace.

Cover us with the blanket of your protection.

When we wake from sleep

May we know once more the light of your presence,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,


Lutheran (LCMS) Daily Readings For Monday, 28 February

From, and

Daily Readings:

Saints/Martyrs/Heroes/Feasts/Fasts to be observed/commemmorated/celebrated:

Scriptural Readings:

February 28th, 2011

Monday of Sexagesima

Read today's Higher Things Daily Reflection

February 28, 2011 - Monday of Sexagesima

Today's Reading: Isaiah 55:10-13

Daily Lectionary: Job 31:1-12,33-40; John 9:24-41

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It's really hard to believe that God's Word does what it says. In fact, it's impossible. The Lord promises that when His Word is preached and heard, it will bring the blessings that it promises just like water makes flowers grow. Do you believe that? It's easy for the Word to say “Don't worry,” but here you are worried about your friend who's hurt or your final grades this semester. God's Word tells you that you are forgiven, yet there's that nagging memory of that awful thing you said to your parents or how you treated your brother or sister.

It takes the Holy Spirit to use that Word to bring us to faith—to actually believe and trust in what that Word says. The Lord knows that we can't believe it on our own. We never would. So along with His Word He gives us His Spirit. It is by that Word that the Spirit enlightens us and gives us faith that trusts in what God's Word says.

It's also why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God's Word says we are forgiven. The Word-made-flesh proves it by being nailed to the cross. The Word of God says that our sins are covered. The Word-made-flesh proves it by being the sacrifice for our sins. The Word of God says sin, death and the devil are defeated. The Word-made-flesh proves it by rising on the third day.

What's the answer to your doubts about God's Word? More Word! More Jesus! More Spirit working by that very Word to preserve and keep you in the true faith. Don't worry. The Lord has already promised His Word will do His work in you. And it will, because He said so! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; Preserve our faith our whole life through—Your Word alone our heart's defense, The Church's glorious confidence. (LSB 585:6)

Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflectons Editor,



O God, the Strength of all who put their trust in You, mercifully grant that by Your power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Job 31:1-12; Job 31:33-40

Job’s Final Appeal

1"I have made a covenant with my(A) eyes;

how then could I gaze at a virgin? 2What would be(B) my portion from God above

and my heritage from the Almighty on high? 3Is not calamity for the unrighteous,

and disaster for the workers of iniquity? 4(C) Does not he see my ways

and(D) number all my steps?

5"If I have walked with falsehood

and my foot has hastened to deceit; 6(Let me be(E) weighed in a just balance,

and let God know my integrity!) 7if my step has turned aside from the way

and(F) my heart has gone after my eyes,

and if any(G) spot has stuck to my hands, 8then let me(H) sow, and another eat,

and let what grows for me[a] be rooted out.

9"If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,

and I have(I) lain in wait at my neighbor’s door, 10then let my wife(J) grind for another,

and let others(K) bow down on her. 11For that would be a heinous crime;

that would be an iniquity(L) to be punished by the judges; 12for that would be a fire(M) that consumes as far as Abaddon,

and it would burn to the root all my increase.

Footnotes:Job 31:8 Or let my descendants

Cross references:Job 31:1 : Isa 33:15; Matt 5:28 Job 31:2 : Job 20:29 Job 31:4 : Job 14:16; 34:21; 2 Chr 16:9; Prov 5:21; 15:3; Jer 16:17; 32:19; Zech 4:10 Job 31:4 : Job 14:16 Job 31:6 : Dan 5:27 Job 31:7 : Num 15:39; Eccles 11:9 Job 31:7 : Job 11:15 Job 31:8 : Lev 26:16; Deut 28:30, 38; John 4:37 Job 31:9 : Job 24:15 Job 31:10 : Exodus 11:5; Isa 47:2 Job 31:10 : 2 Sam 12:11; Jer 8:10 Job 31:11 : Job 31:28; Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22 Job 31:12 : Prov 6:27-29

33if I(A) have concealed my transgressions(B) as others do[a]

by hiding my iniquity in my bosom, 34because I stood in great fear of(C) the multitude,

and the contempt of families terrified me,

so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors— 35Oh, that I had one to hear me!

(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty(D) answer me!)

Oh, that I had(E) the indictment written by my adversary! 36Surely I would carry it on my(F) shoulder;

I would(G) bind it on me as(H) a crown; 37I would give him an account of all my steps;

like a prince I would approach him.

38"If my land has cried out against me

and its furrows have wept together, 39(I) if I have eaten its yield without payment

and made its owners(J) breathe their last, 40let(K) thorns grow instead of wheat,

and foul weeds instead of barley."

The words of Job are ended.

Footnotes:Job 31:33 Or as Adam did

Cross references:Job 31:33 : Prov 28:13 Job 31:33 : Gen 3:8, 12 Job 31:34 : Exodus 23:2 Job 31:35 : Job 13:22 Job 31:35 : Job 19:23 Job 31:36 : Isa 9:6; 22:22 Job 31:36 : Prov 6:21 Job 31:36 : Zech 6:11 Job 31:39 : Job 22:6-9; Luke 10:7; 2 Tim 2:6; James 5:4 Job 31:39 : 1 Kgs 21:16, 19 Job 31:40 : Gen 3:18

Second Reading: John 9:24-41

24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him,(A) "Give glory to God. We know that(B) this man is a sinner." 25He answered, "Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I(C) was blind, now I see." 26They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27He answered them,(D) "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" 28And they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but(E) we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man,(F) we do not know where he comes from." 30The man answered, "Why, this is(G) an amazing thing!(H) You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that(I) God does not listen to sinners, but(J) if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33(K) If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." 34They answered him,(L) "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they(M) cast him out.

35Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in(N) the Son of Man?"[a] 36He answered,(O) "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" 37Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and(P) it is he who is speaking to you." 38He said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, (Q) "For judgment I came into this world,(R) that those who do not see may see, and(S) those who see may become blind." 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him,(T) "Are we also blind?" 41Jesus said to them, "If you were blind,(U) you would have no guilt;[b] but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.

Footnotes:John 9:35 Some manuscripts the Son of God John 9:41 Greek you would not have sin

Cross references:John 9:24 : Josh 7:19; Jer 13:16; 1 Sam 6:5; Isa 42:12; Acts 12:23 John 9:24 : John 9:16 John 9:25 : John 9:18, 24 John 9:27 : John 9:15 John 9:28 : John 5:45 John 9:29 : John 8:14 John 9:30 : John 12:37 John 9:30 : John 3:10 John 9:31 : Job 27:9; Psalm 66:18; Prov 28:9 John 9:31 : Psalm 34:15, 16; 145:19; Prov 15:20; James 5:16 John 9:33 : John 9:16; John 1:21; 3:2 John 9:34 : John 9:2 John 9:34 : John 9:22 John 9:35 : John 10:36 John 9:36 : Rom 10:14 John 9:37 : John 4:26 John 9:39 : John 5:22 John 9:39 : Matt 11:25; Luke 4:18 John 9:39 : Matt 9:13; 13:13; Mark 4:12; 2 Cor 2:16 John 9:40 : Rom 2:19 John 9:41 : John 15:22, 24; John 19:11; 1 John 1:8

Monday Father Reading

"I ask the consciences of all men: Which place holds the greater number of Christians, the circus for public games or the place of God's altar? God's temple is despised so that men may run off to the theatre. The Church is emptied and the circus is filled, so we turn our backs on Christ on the altar." [Salvian of Marseilles. "On the Guidance of God" book 6. 5th Century]

All Scripture Readings: English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.