FRIDAY THE TWELFTH OF JANUARY 2018
Lord, as you shall see fit, provide your servants also with those temporal goods, whereby the weakness of this wretched body is in this life sustained. This one thing only do I crave, my Lord, from your sweet pity: namely, that whether it be much or little that you give, you would make me, your servant, a good and faithful steward in respect of all, a wise and fair distributor, a sensible provider. Inspire them, too, my God, to bear it patiently when you withhold things; and, when you do bestow, to use your gifts with temperance and restraint. Inspire them, O Lord, also to have of me, who am your servant, and their servant for your sake, such an opinion as may profit them, such love and fear of me as you, Lord, sees to be good for them. Amen.
( Aelred of Rievaulx )
Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts,
thou fount, thou light for all to see:
from the best bliss that earth imparts
we turn unfilled again to thee.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
thou savest those that on thee call;
to those who seek thee thou art good;
to those who find thee, all in all.
We taste thee, O thou living bread,
and long to feast upon thee still;
we drink of thee, the fountainhead,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.
For thee our restless spirits yearn
wherever our changeful lot is cast,
glad when thy gracious smile we see,
blest when our faith can hold thee fast.
O Jesus, always with us stay,
make all our moments calm and bright;
chase the dark night of sin away;
shed o'er the world thy holy light.
( Bernard of Clairvaux )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Aelred of Rievaulx thanks you for being a friend
At the beginning of the story of the raising of Lazarus in "John," chapter eleven, gospel writer makes mention of the fact that Jesus “loved” Martha and Mary, and Lazarus. In fact when Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, they didn’t tell him that Lazarus was ill, they told him “he whom you love is ill.” What is all this talk of love?
Aelred of Rievaulx was one of those gifted monastics out of Great Britain’s Middle Ages who had the gift of insight and the ability to make his mark on the world through his writing and example. He was born in 1109 in Durham and grew up and was educated in the court of King David of Scotland. He made close and fast friends with the king’s stepsons, Simon and Waldef. He felt the calling to be a monk and entered the Cistercian order in 1133.
On his way back from Rome, where he had been sent to conduct business by the Archbishop of York, he travelled to Clairvaux, the famous Cistercian mother house, to meet with Saint Bernard, who was abbot there. Bernard encouraged him to write, and Aelred completed his first work called “Mirror of Perfection” in 1143.
In 1147, Aelred was elected Abbot of Rievaulx, a large and prominent Cistercian monastery. He held that position for twenty years until he died of a painful kidney disease in 1167. It was during this time that he studied the Biblical texts like "John," chapter eleven and others, and developed his understanding of spiritual friendship.
Of course, monks and nuns were pledged to a life of chastity and celibacy and there had developed in many of the religious orders an aversion to what was called “particular friendships.” The idea was that monks in their monasteries and nuns in their cloister should not become “too attached” to any one brother or sister. Perhaps it was the fear of homosexuality that pushed this issue so strongly. A monk or nun was to love everyone equally, and not to favour one over another. This left them cut off from intimacy, and was psychologically destructive.
Aelred concluded from his studies that Jesus never spoke against particular friendships, and in fact, had several personal friends, whose company he enjoyed. In his most significant book “Spiritual Friendship,” Aelred discusses this. He writes:
“No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy.”
Friendship, Aelred teaches, is both a gift from God and a creation of human effort. While love is universal, freely given to all, friendship is a particular love between individuals, of which the example is Jesus and John the Beloved Disciple.
Scripture. In the thirteenth chapter of John’s gospel, the first verse, we read:
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
... for peace in the world.
... for our friends.
... for true friendship in our lives.
... that we may know and accept the love of Christ in our lives.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Almighty God, you endowed the abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: grant to your people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.
From "The Mirror of Charity" by Aelred of Rievaulx:
The highest type of brotherly love is to love our enemies and there is no greater encouragement to do this than the remembrance of the wondrous patience exercised by him who, fairest of the sons of men, offered his gracious face to be spat upon by his enemies. All creation is ruled by a glance from his eyes and yet he allowed them to be blindfolded by wicked men. His body he exposed to scourging and, although his head strikes fear in the principalities and powers, he bowed it to the pain of the crown of thorns. He submitted himself to insults and finally gave us an example by enduring in peace with gentleness, patience and meekness, the cross, the nails, the lance, the vinegar and gall. Then as a sheep, he was led to the slaughter and, like a lamb before his shearer, he remained silent and did not open his mouth.
Hearing that wondrous voice, full of gentleness and love, saying, "Father, forgive them," who would not immediately embrace his enemies.
Father, forgive them; can any greater degree of gentleness and love be added to this prayer?
However, he did add something. To pray for them was too little, he wished also to make excuses for them. He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
They are great sinners but with little understanding; and so he said: Father, forgive them. They are crucifying without knowing who it is that they are crucifying, for, if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory, and so he said: Father, forgive them.
They think of him as a law-breaker, as one who falsely claims to be God, and as a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, says the Lord, and they have not recognised my majesty, and so, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
It follows that, if a man would really love himself, he should avoid any corrupt love of the flesh. Not to be overcome by fleshly concupiscence, he should turn all his love to the sweetness of the flesh of our Lord. To love his brethren even more perfectly, he should open his arms to embrace even his enemies. In case this divine fire should grow cold by injuries done to him, a man should gaze constantly in his mind on the tranquil patience of his lord and saviour."
God of all creation, you call us in Christ to make disciples of all nations and to proclaim your mercy and love: grant that we, after the example of your servant Julia Chester Emery, may have vision and courage in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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