Monday, July 30, 2012

Mystical Verse (1)



 Lord of All Being

Lord of all being, thron├Ęd afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!

Sun of our life, Thy quickening ray,
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, Thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.

Our midnight is Thy smile withdrawn;
Our noontide is Thy gracious dawn;
Our rainbow arch, Thy mercy’s sign;
All, save the clouds of sin, are Thine.

Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
Before Thy ever blazing throne
We ask no luster of our own.

Grant us Thy truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that burn for Thee,
Till all Thy living altars claim
One holy light, one heavenly flame.

                        0liver Wendall Holmes
                                       (1809 -1894)

appears in A W Tozers Christian Book of Mystical Verse

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse




Tozer compiled many of Christianity's  profound mystical voices. In His own word..
"The purpose of this book is to bring together in one convenient volume 
some of the best devotional verse the English language affords, and thus
 to make available to present day Christians a rich spiritual heritage 
which the greater number of them for various reasons do not now enjoy. 

For Tozer, these mystics had “been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead.”  Tozer didn't  not want these voices to be ignored or forgotten gathered them together “to make available to present-day Christians a rich spiritual heritage which the great number of [us] for various reasons do not now enjoy.”

"This is a book is intended the  worshiper rather than for the student.  
It has been carefully and lovingly prepared for those God-enamored 
persons who, while they feel as deeply as the enraptured poet, yet 
lack the gift that would enable them to express their feelings adequately." 

The hymns and poems Tozer has compiled are mystical in the sense that they are God-oriented—they begin with God, embrace the worshiping soul and return to God again.
"The word mystic as it occurs in the title of this book refers to that
 personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times
 and well known to multitudes of persons in the post-Biblical era.


I personal came across this priceless little volume in 1980. while reading Tozer's "The pursuit of God."  It was through these pages i became acquainted with the  christian mystics.  I'm ever grateful to Tozer for the introduction to this deep, rich and often ignored and forgotten  stream  of  the christian tradition. My heart was emblazoned by their passion and i never turned back. The mystics have been constant companions, fellow pilgrims,  bell weather voices in my journey toward the Divine.I highly recommend Mystical verse to any post modern pilgrim who hungers for solid food on the journey toward the divine presence.

 It was here i found kindred spirits in the poetry, hymns and devotional writing  of   Isaac Watts, Frederick William Faber, Christina Rossetti, Charles Wesley, Paul Gerhardt, Madame Guyon, oliver wendall holmes and Gerhard Terstegan and to name only a few. You'll find many of these voices already represented here at   Living water from an ancient well.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Celtic Liturgy



A CELTIC LITURGY


THE INVOCATION

M:  Grant, O God, Your protection;
       And in protection, strength;
       And in strength, understanding;
       And in understanding, knowledge;
       And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
       And in knowledge of justice, the love of it;
       And in that love, the love of all existences;
       And in the love of all existences, the love of God.
       God and all goodness.

Let us remember the commandments of the old covenant,
bestowed by God upon His people of Israel through Moses:

I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other God but
me.

You shall not make to yourself any graven image, nor the
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth
beneath, or in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them, nor worship them.

You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.

Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall do no murder.

You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his property, nor any thing that belongs to him.

R: Lord, we ask You to incline our hearts to keep these laws. (Amen)


THE GREETING

M: The hour is at hand when true worshippers shall glorify the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks them to worship Him.

Hear what our lord, Jesus Christ, said to His followers of the new covenant:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.

The second is like unto it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

R:  Lord, we ask you to incline our hearts to keep these laws. (Amen)




THE GENERAL CONFESSION

M:  The scripture directs us in many places to acknowledge our transgressions and harmful ways.  If we say we are innocent of  wrongdoing, the truth is not in us, for all have strayed and fallen short of the glory of God.  But we have an advocate with the Father, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  If we confess our shortcomings, He is faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Therefore, I pray and urge you to accompany me with a pure heart, to the throne of the heavenly grace, saying:

R:  Almighty Father, Lord of heaven and earth, we confess that we have sinned against you, voluntarily and involuntarily, in thought, word, and deed; known and unknown; by day and by night.  Have benevolence and forgive us all, O God, after Your great goodness, according to the multitude of Your mercies, do away with our offences, and cleanse us from our transgressions, for Jesus Christ’s sake. (Amen)


THE ABSOLUTION

M:  Our Lord Jesus Christ has bestowed power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to those who are truly repentant, absolution and remission of sin.  Therefore, may Jesus Christ absolve you of your sins  remembering His admonishment, “to go and sin no more“. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Amen)






THE LORD’S PRAYER

M:  As our Savior Jesus Christ has taught, let us pray:

R:  Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. (Amen)


THE PROFESSION OF FAITH

M:  Let us acknowledge our faith as firmly established by the creed of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:

R:  I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

On the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father.  He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Universal Church; the Communion of Saints; the forgiveness of sins; the Resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. (Amen)


THE BEATITUDES

M:  My brethren, let us remember the blessings spoken of by our Lord Jesus Christ during His Sermon on the Mount.

M:  Blessed are the poor in spirit;

R:  For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

M:  Blessed are those who mourn;

R:  For they will be comforted.

M:  Blessed are the meek;

R:  For they will inherit the earth.

M:  Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness;

R:  For they shall be well filled.

M:  Blessed are the merciful;

R:  For they will be shown mercy.

M:  Blessed are the pure in heart;

R:  For they will see God.

M:  Blessed are the peacemakers;

R:  For they shall be called the children of God.

M:  Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness sake;

R:  For theirs is the kingdom heaven.

M:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

R:  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. (Amen)

THE PRAYERS OF PETITION

M:  In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace which is from God, and for the salvation of our souls.

For the church, to redeem it from every evil, and to perfect it in Your love, and gather it together from the four winds, even that which has been sanctified for Your kingdom which You have prepared for it;  for Yours is the kingdom and the glory forever.

For this assembly and for those who have entered here with faith, reverence, and love of God.

For the peace of the whole world, and our nation, the President of the United States and all those in authority, and for those who for us, must be forever vigilant and stand in harms way, for our Armed Forces everywhere, and those involved in National Security, Public Health and Safety.

For those in sickness and distress, the suffering, the lost and displaced, and those afflicted everywhere.  (And let us remember in our prayers____________) and ask the Lord to comfort and heal them, relieving them of all suffering, afflictions, and adversity.

For those imprisoned and the accused, and that they be afforded tolerance, mercy, and justice.

For the Saints and Martyr’s of the Church, for all those who have gone before us and have departed this life, and let us remember in our prayers_____________, asking God to keep them in His loving mercy.

For our own deliverance from all affliction, evil, danger, and need, and may we live as Saints before God.

Let us be able to accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

We ask for Your guidance in the exercise of our free will, a most precious gift, and that we properly use our free will, which in Your wisdom, You bestowed upon us in the beginning, and that we use this free will in righteous and proper manner that pleases You and is in harmony with Your will.

M:  We ask You, Lord, to hear our prayers.
R:  We humbly request our prayers to be answered by our Savior, and mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord (Amen)


M:  In every person there is a soul;
In every soul there is intelligence;
In every thought there is either good or evil;
In every evil there is death;
In every good there is life;
In every life there is God.



THE PREPARATION OF THE ELEMENTS

M:  We thank You, Father, for the life and knowledge which You have made known to us through Jesus, Your son; to You be glory forever.

Heavenly Father, we invite Your angels to come among us with Your almighty goodness and bless and consecrate with Your word and Holy Spirit, these, Your gifts we offer of bread and wine, receiving them according to the Holy Institution established by Your son, Jesus Christ.

We acknowledge that these elements symbolize the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ given for us in securing our salvation.  As He instructed His followers during the Last Supper, we offer them in remembrance of Him and as a memorial of His death and sacrifice.
(Cleric elevates the Bread)
Even as this broken bread was once scattered over the hills and mountains, and when gathered together, became one, so may Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom.  For Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. (Amen)

(Cleric elevates the wine)
Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation.  Through Your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands.  It will become our spiritual drink.

We thank You, Our Father, for the Holy vine of David, Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus, Your servant.  To You be the glory forever. (Amen)

Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist but they who have been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and have accepted their salvation through Jesus Christ, for concerning this saying of the Lord, give not that which is Holy to the dogs.


THE COMMUNION 

M:  Those with a true reverence of God,  possessing love and faith who are baptized Christians, and truly accept Jesus Christ as their Savior are invited to come forth.

( The congregation comes forward and stands at the altar to receive communion and then return to their seats.)

M:  The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for you, may they preserve your soul unto everlasting life.             
(After all  those receiving the communion have been served the cleric consumes the remaining  sacrament)

M:  Lord let Your benediction and grace descend upon all who have received this memorial to Your sacrifice for each of us .


THE DISMISSAL

M:  God guide us with Your wisdom,
God, chaste us with Your justice,
God, help us with Your strength,
God, fill us with Your fullness,
God, shield us with Your shade,
God, fill us with Your grace.

For the sake of Your anointed Son who died for us, let us depart in peace and love.


THE FINAL BENEDICTION

M:  May the strength of God pilot us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the shield of God defend us.
May the host of God guard us against the snares of evil and the temptations of the world.

May Christ be with us.
Christ be above us.
Christ be in us.
Christ be before us.
May our salvation O Lord, be always ours this day and for evermore. (Amen)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meister Johannes Eckhart (1260 - 1328 )

Eckhart a German theologian, philosipher and mystic, sided with the marginalized of his day and became regarded as a great teacher and speaker. He was probably born in the village of Tambach, around 1260.He was born to a noble family of landowners, but little is known about his family and early life except that he attended the University of Paris.

Eckhart joined the Dominicans, studied in Paris till 1306, and  was eventually appointed  vicar-general for Bohemia with a mandate  to set the demoralized monasteries  in order.  His evangelical activities among the undisciplined were deemed suspect, and his election (1309) to be provincial of the German province was not confirmed.  In 1311, Eckhart was appointed by the general chapter of Naples as teacher at Paris. Then followed a long period of which little is known, only that he spent part of the time at Strasbourg.

Eckhart communicated in various ways his burning sense of God's nearness to humanity. Exhorting the Dominicans, he wrote scholarly tracts, addressed the Book of Divine Comfort to the queen of Hungary, and preached everywhere to the humble and ignorant, using practical sermons on spiritual  transformation. urging people to seek the divine spark.

 Eckhart gives the following summary of his message:
When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature.                                                                                                                                    
 Toward the end of his life he was wrongly accused of connection with the Beghards and charged with heresy. Nicholas of Strasbourg, to whom the pope had given the temporary charge of the Dominican monasteries in Germany, promptly exonerated him and he was upheld by his order, but the charge was pressed. by archbishop, Hermann Von Vininburg, Eckhart appealed to Rome. Eckhart delivered his protest in person before the Inquisition in Venice on 24 Jan 1327. On 13 Feb he made his public Declaration of orthodoxy in the Domincan church at Cologne.
  He died between 1327, when his appeal was denied, and 1329, when John XXII issued a bull condemning 17 of Eckhart's propositions as heretical. His disciples tried vainly to have this decree set aside.

From Eckhart's influence the Friends of God, a popular mystical movement under the leadership of such priests as John Tauler and Henry Suso, sprung up in 14th-century Germany,
 It has also been suspected that his practical communication of the mystical path is behind the influential 14th century. "anonymous" Theologica Germanica which was disseminated after his disappearance.


graphic: top, wood cut of Eckhart teaching
            bottom, painting of Eckhart

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lectio Divina (1)

 Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or "holy reading," An ancient form of meditation on scripture where one reads "very slowly through a text until a word or phrase 'lights' up and attracts the reader. The text is then laid aside and the phrase is repeated in the heart...without analysis."
 


1. Reading/thinking about Scripture
2. Reflecting on a personal word from the text
3. Responding in prayer on how the passage speaks into their life today
4. Resting in (or listening to) a personal message from God

the Four Rhythms in Lectio Divina):

1. Lectio: Read the Scripture passage slowly and give it a title.

2. Meditatio: Reflect on one word or phrase the Holy Spirit directs your attention to.
3. Oratio: Respond in prayer with emotion about a personal struggle or longing.
4. Contemplatio: Rest in a personal invitation or affirmation spoken to you by the Lord. (Write down what you sense God might be saying to you or just rest in his loving arms.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Free will (9)

 more Fathers on Free will

Barnabas (AD100)
"The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Epistle of Barnabas, IV)

Tatian (AD110-172)
"Why are you fated to grasp at things often, and often to die? Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we Ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it." (Tatian, Address to the Greeks, XI)  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monasticism (8) Anthony of the Caves (983-1073)

 Born at Liubech, near Kiev, Russia he is considered the father of Russian monasticism. As a youth Anthony  possessed a fear of God and dressed in monastic attire.  He  journey to the Greek monastic community at Mount Athos, where he lived as a hermit. 

The abbot gave Anthony the job of expanding monasticism in his native land, which had only recently begun its conversion to Christianity. Anthony returned to Kiev, and was ordered by local princes to found several monasteries based on the Greek model.

 At the death of Vladimir I of Kiev,  Anthony was  forced  to return to Mount Athos by a fratricidal war for the throne between Vladimir's sons.  

 Being deeply influenced by the lives of the desert fathers he eventually returned to Russia and sought out solitude in a cave near the village of Berestovo, (Kiev).  He became known for his humility and virtuous character. 

 People began to come to him for his blessing and counsel.  The fame of a holy man living quietly outside of the city spread  throughout the region, inspiring many embrace the monastic life. With new people joining the monastery, new caves had to be dug. A church and cells for the monks were built underground. A strict monastic rule was introduced.

Anthony rejected being called a priest and never took any church rank. He never lead the new community of monks but simply guided them by his example of  faith and wisdom.  .

 As the community became larger, Anthony appointed an abbot and  withdrew to another place to dig a new cave where he secluded himself. Eventually monks began to settle around his new cave. This was the inception of  the Near and Far Caves Monasteries.  In time small wooden church,  was built over the Far Caves. 

He again withdrew for more solitude, eventually returning to the community to die among his beloved brethren.

He is venerated as a  Holy Father (a person whose example is worthy of following) in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Having departed from worldly tumults,
In leaving the world you followed Christ according to the Gospel.
You reached the quiet refuge of the Holy Mount Athos,
Living there a life equal to the angels.
Therefore, with the blessing of the Fathers,
You came to the Kievan hills.
There having fulfilled a life loving of labors,
You illumined your homeland.
And having shown a multitude of monastics
The pathway leading to the heavenly kingdom,
You led them to Christ.
Beseech him, O Venerable Anthony,
That he may save our souls! 
Troparion (Tone 4) 

 compiled from several sources

graphics.:  top left a modern icon of Anthony. bottom right  the rock-monastery-in-lyadova




Thursday, July 5, 2012

O Master, let me walk with Thee,



O Master, let me walk with Thee,
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

O Master, let me walk with Thee,
Before the taunting Pharisee;
Help me to bear the sting of spite,
The hate of men who hide Thy light.

The sore distrust of souls sincere
Who cannot read Thy judgments clear,
The dullness of the multitude, 
Who dimly guess that Thou art good.

Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
In closer, dearer, company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way,
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.

                             by Washington Gladden

Monday, July 2, 2012

Washington Gladden (1899-1918)

Washington Gladden was a leading American congregational pastor regarded as the father of the social gospel. movement.  Gladden advocated expansion of the church's responsibilities to every area of social life critiquing a free enterprise society as being more concerned with profit than people.

 Gladden became the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio in 1882, and would serve in that position for thirty-two years. During that time, Gladden would develop his reputation as a religious leader and as a community leader. In 1886, he traveled to Cleveland during a street car strike and spoke at a public meeting on "Is it Peace or War", supporting the rights of the workers to form a union to protect their interests.

He was a leading member of the Progressive Movement, serving for two years as a member of the Columbus Ohio city council.  Gladden was probably the first leading U.S. religious figure to support the unionization  of the workforce. He was opposed to racial segregation. 

He was a prolific writer, with 40 books to his credit.  Gladden is credited with having written a number of hymns including O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee. He resigned as pastor of the First Congregational Church in 1914 and died of a stoke in 1918.

 compiled from several sources