OREMUS: 10 December 2011

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Dec 9 21:16:34 GMT 2011


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OREMUS for December 10
Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968

Lord, open our lips,
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, Lord God:
We give you thanks
because he came among us as a servant, 
to be Emmanuel, your presence with us, 
the promise of salvation, 
the desire of all the nations, 
and the fulfilment of your good purposes
before the world began.
For these and all your mercies,
we praise you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 

http://www.oremus.org/advocant.html

Psalm 53

The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'*
 All are corrupt and commit abominable acts;
   there is none who does any good.
God looks down from heaven upon us all,*
 to see if there is any who is wise,
   if there is one who seeks after God.
Every one has proved faithless;
   all alike have turned bad;*
 there is none who does good; no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers*
 who eat up my people like bread
   and do not call upon God?
See how greatly they tremble,
   such trembling as never was;*
 for God has scattered the bones of the enemy;
   they are put to shame, because God has rejected them.
O that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion!*
 when God restores the fortunes of his people
   Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 54

Save me, O God, by your name;*
 in your might, defend my cause.
Hear my prayer, O God;*
 give ear to the words of my mouth.
For the arrogant have risen up against me,
   and the ruthless have sought my life,*
 those who have no regard for God.
Behold, God is my helper;*
 it is the Lord who sustains my life.
Render evil to those who spy on me;*
 in your faithfulness, destroy them.
I will offer you a freewill sacrifice*
 and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For you have rescued me from every trouble,*
 and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.

Psalm 55

Hear my prayer, O God;*
 do not hide yourself from my petition.
Listen to me and answer me;*
 I have no peace, because of my cares.
I am shaken by the noise of the enemy*
 and by the pressure of the wicked;
For they have cast an evil spell upon me*
 and are set against me in fury.
My heart quakes within me,*
 and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling have come over me,*
 and horror overwhelms me.
And I said, 'O that I had wings like a dove!*
 I would fly away and be at rest.
'I would flee to a faroff place*
 and make my lodging in the wilderness.
'I would hasten to escape*
 from the stormy wind and tempest.œ
Swallow them up, O Lord; confound their speech;*
 for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night the watch make their rounds upon her walls,*
 but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.
There is corruption at her heart;*
 her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.
For had it been an adversary who taunted me,
   then I could have borne it;*
 or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me,
   then I could have hidden from him.
But it was you, one after my own heart,*
 my companion, my own familiar friend.
We took sweet counsel together,*
 and walked with the throng in the house of God.
But I will call upon God,*
 and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning and at noonday
   I will complain and lament,*
 and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back from the battle
   waged against me;*
 for there are many who fight me.
God, who is enthroned of old,
   will hear me and bring them down;*
 they never change; they do not fear God.
My companion stretched forth his hand against his comrade;*
 he has broken his covenant.
His speech is softer than butter,*
 but war is in his heart.
His words are smoother than oil,*
 but they are drawn swords.
Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you;*
 he will never let the righteous stumble.
For you will bring the bloodthirsty and deceitful*
 down to the pit of destruction, O God.
They shall not live out half their days,*
 but I will put my trust in you.

FIRST READING [Isaiah 48.12–21]:

Listen to me, O Jacob,
   and Israel, whom I called:
I am He; I am the first,
   and I am the last. 
My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
   and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
   they stand at attention. 

Assemble, all of you, and hear!
   Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him;
   he shall perform his purpose on Babylon,
   and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. 
I, even I, have spoken and called him,
   I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way. 
Draw near to me, hear this!
   From the beginning I have not spoken in secret,
   from the time it came to be I have been there.
And now the Lord God has sent me and his spirit. 

Thus says the Lord,
   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
   who teaches you for your own good,
   who leads you in the way you should go. 
O that you had paid attention to my commandments!
   Then your prosperity would have been like a river,
   and your success like the waves of the sea; 
your offspring would have been like the sand,
   and your descendants like its grains;
their name would never be cut off
   or destroyed from before me. 

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
   declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it forth to the end of the earth;
   say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!’ 
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
   he made water flow for them from the rock;
   he split open the rock and the water gushed out. 

POEM 
Words: Thomas Merton

Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! 
Fly vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent, holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed  by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our solemn valleys,
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets' stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!

SECOND READING [1 Thessalonians 1]:

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace. 

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming. 

The Benedictus (Morning), 
the Magnificat (Evening), or Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Prayer:
O God, we give you thanks
that the certainty of Christian hope
lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge.
Therefore we must sometimes expect
our hope to come in conflict with darkness,
desperation and ignorance. 
Instead give us that Christian optimism
which lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy:
a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy
to glory with Christ crucified and risen.
Give us an Advent faith, O Lord,
which is not an escape from the world
to a misty realm of slogans and comforts
which declare our problems to be unreal, our tragedies inexistent.
Give us not so much the courage to ask the questions
as the courage to expect an answer,
that we may show the world Christ,
seek and find Christ in our world as it is,
and not as it might be.
The fact that the world is other than it might be
does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it
and that his plan has been neither frustrated nor changed:
indeed, all will be done according to his will.
Our Advent is a celebration of this hope. Amen.

Gracious God,
you called your monk Thomas Merton
to proclaim your justice out of silence,
and moved him in his contemplative writings
to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others:
Keep us, like him, steadfast
in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
		
Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it. Amen.
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The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving is from _New Patterns for Worship_, copyright (c) The Archbishops( Council, 2002. The closing sentence is 1 Thessalonians 5:23

The poem, the prayer, and the closing sentence are by Thomas Merton. (The prayer is adapted from "Advent: Hope or Delusion?". The closing sentence is from a latter to Jim Forest, 2/21/1966 at http://ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/lifelong-advent-thomas-merton). The collect is from Holy Women, Holy Men, Church Publishing Inc.
 
Thomas Merton was among the most influential Catholic writers of the twentieth century. His writings cover a broad range of subject matter: spirituality and the contemplative life, prayer, and religious biography. He was also deeply interested in issues of social justice and Christian responsibility. He did not shy away from controversy and addressed race relations, economic injustice, war, violence, and the nuclear arms race.

Though nominally an Anglican, Merton underwent a dramatic conversion experience in 1938 and became a Roman Catholic. Merton recounts the story of his conversion in The Seven Storey Mountain, an autobiography published in 1948, immediately a classic. Merton entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, the Trappists, at the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1941. Known in the community as Brother Louis, Merton’s gifts as a writer were encouraged by the abbot. In addition to his translations of Cistercian sources and his original works, Merton carried on a prolific correspondence with people around the world on a wide range of subjects. Some of his correspondence takes the form of spiritual direction, some shows his deep affections for friends outside the community, and much of it demonstrates Merton’s ability to be fully engaged in the world even though he lived a cloistered life. Merton died in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968, by accidental electrocution, while attending a meeting of religious leaders during a pilgrimage to the Far East. [Holy Women, Holy Men]


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