Sat, 18 November 2017
(Prv.31:10-13,19-20,30-31; Ps.128:1-5; 1Thes.5:1-6; Mt.25:14-30)
“When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.”
And so the Lord is pleased to bless His “good and faithful servant[s]”; for His Church is as His Bride and Her faithful members He invites to share His joy.
With more than the talents of “a man going on a journey” are we entrusted by the Lord. To us He is more like the husband “entrusting his heart” to his wife. All He gives over to us, even His very life, His absolute love – His blood itself He pours out for us. And are we as the good wife who “works with loving hands,” who “puts her hands to the distaff and [whose] fingers ply the spindle”? Do we work diligently with all the gifts the Lord imparts to us and thus increase their yield? Are we as she who “brings [her husband] good, and not evil, all the days of her life,” delivering unto the Lord the honor due His Name? If so, then as the worthy wife receives “a reward for her labors” and as “her works praise her at the city gates,” so shall the Lord richly bless our labors, and the angels at the gates of heaven welcome us with song.
Brothers and sisters, “You are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober,” doing the Lord’s will in all things. Let us not be as the “useless servant” who “dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.” The graces the Lord gives us are not meant for such darkness, but indeed to be brought into the light of day that they might spread “like a fruitful vine” throughout the face of the earth. This is the call of His Church, and we must be faithful in the work with which we have been entrusted: His love must reach to the ends of the world.
And each “shall eat the fruit of [his] handiwork” when the day of the Lord comes upon us. The soul which has courted darkness in its distrust and laziness shall find the spouse that awaits her; but “blessed shall [she] be, and favored,” “who walk[s] in [the Lord’s] ways!” She shall indeed not fear the “sudden disaster” that comes upon the wicked, but shall celebrate “the prosperity of Jerusalem” in her Master’s house “all the days of [her] life.” For in none does the Lord take greater delight than she who returns an increase of His invaluable love.
Wriiten, chanted, and produced by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt.
Music: "We Have Bodies" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us do your work and your will;
let us be fruitful in serving you
until the Day of your Son’s return.
YHWH, you give us gifts, skills and talents upon this earth – even our bodies and minds are from you. But if we employ them not, it is as if we have them not at all… and soon they are taken from us. We must offer all we have back to you, serving you well with all our lives, and we shall be blessed with your abundance.
Into your kingdom let us come, O LORD! Let all we do lead to this grace. Make us fruitful in your Name, ever working with loving hands, and every blessing will be ours – and we shall know the joy of your presence. Let our hearts be set on you alone.
What have we, LORD, that you have not given? And what should we do but use well what is at our hands? If we wish to be wed to you in Heaven, then your heart we must hold within our own. It is your heart you would give us; let us live as your children in the light of this day.
O LORD, may your Son not find us sleeping upon His return, but serving you faithfully, walking ever in your way.
Fri, 17 November 2017
O woman who prayed always
and had great mercy on souls,
whose missionary zeal
led you across the ocean,
thousands of miles from your home,
to educate the poor
and care for the sick,
to bring the love of Jesus
to those most in need –
pray we too shall have a heart
set on service of the Lord
and remembrance of His presence,
that our concern for those apart from Christ
will drive us to great ends,
even to the ends of the earth,
where certainly He dwells.
Pray we shall have your courage
in facing the unknown,
in calling all home
to the Heart of God;
and through all we do for Him
let us remain in prayer,
knowing His Heaven here on earth.
Fri, 17 November 2017
(Ws.18:14-16,19:6-9; Ps.105:2-3,5,36-37,42-43; Lk.18:1-8)
“He led forth His people with joy;
with shouts of joy, His chosen ones.”
“They beheld stupendous wonders.” Before their eyes, “out of what had been water, dry land was seen emerging.” And so, sheltered by the mighty hand of the Lord, they crossed over, from the land of bondage to freedom. And in their joy “they ranged about like horses, and bounded about like lambs…” praising the Lord, “their deliverer.”
This is the story of our own salvation; this is the way of our own redemption from the sin which holds us bound on this earthly plane. Our exodus, too, must come. The Lord shall return to earth. As He was faithful in leading the Israelites forth from the land of Egypt, where they had been slaves four hundred years, so He will not forget us who have been in the bonds of Satan upon this plane. Our deliverance, too, will come.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, God will “do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night.” He will not “delay long over them” but will “give them swift justice.” The vision of the Israelites at the Red Sea will be our own. Before our eyes we will see the dry land appearing. We shall rejoice at the Lord’s hand guiding our steps out of this dark land. “An unimpeded road” we shall travel, moving toward His promised land. Yes, heaven will be ours. The first-born of Satan, the flower of his evil, shall be destroyed in the stillness of the night, and truth and goodness and light will emerge victorious; and we shall be led forth, as it were, “laden with silver and gold,” rejoicing in the abundant blessings of our Lord and God.
He does not delay. He will not delay. We wait, yes, and struggle with our faith… but He is ready – He does not have to be asked twice. But as our hearts are weakened by sin, we must be encouraged, we must continue to pray, always, even in the face of darkness. Through the darkness the Lord’s light shall come shining, if we remain faithful in our cries. So, “sing to Him, sing His praise… O hearts that seek the Lord!” for He is near in all our prayers, and shall lead us forth into His blessed kingdom. Alleluia!
O LORD, your justice is swift
but who is there that calls out to you,
that desires your hand at work in his life?
YHWH, what marvels you have worked for us; for we who were overshadowed by sin, who seemed trapped by its darkness, abandoned to its clutches, have been mightily delivered from sure death and destruction to stand with you in your kingdom. And should we now have no faith in you? Should we fail to cry out to you for secure protection? Will your justice not come quickly to us, whom you so love and for whom you so desire salvation?
O LORD, let us not be so foolish as to doubt your good will toward us and your power to save us; let us not forget the wonders you have performed for us even to this day. And what greater wonders await those who hope in you! For the dry land we shall soon stand upon when your Son returns, when He has overshadowed our enemies and redeemed us from all darkness, shall be the Promised Land of Heaven.
O praise you, LORD! Your people glory in your holy NAME.
Thu, 16 November 2017
O charitable soul
who gave all you owned
for the sake of the Gospel,
though endowed with great riches
you embraced lady poverty
that you might serve the Lord
with a heart beating for the poor.
With your own hands
you tended the sickest;
into your own home
you welcomed the most destitute –
pray that in our small way
we too may follow
in the footsteps of Christ
and give our lives
to the poor whom He loves
and to prayer in His presence.
Pray our hearts, too,
may know His tender care for souls
and our own souls
meditate upon Him night and day;
pray we too shall give up all
to find His holy kingdom.
Thu, 16 November 2017
(Ws.13:1-9; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.17:26-37)
“Wherever the carcass is, there will the vultures gather.”
It is so that “the heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.” It is true that “from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.” Yes, “the things seen are fair,” and speak even of the glory of our God… but they shall indeed all come to naught when He alone stands before us on the last day.
In the created world we exist. To an extent, in the created world we take refuge, discerning the hand of God at work in the things around us and coming by way of the knowledge presented to us in their beauty and wonder to that Hand which has created all. And so they can be beneficial to us. And so they can help to reveal God’s presence to us who are so blind. But both the warning of our reading from Wisdom and Christ’s own words in the gospel must be heeded: we cannot make “fire,” “wind,” or “mighty water” our gods; and we cannot be attached to our possessions. For these things of nature, as great as God has made them, and these things at our disposal, as much a blessing they may be to us for our time on earth, are passing away. Only God remains.
Brothers and sisters, we must look upon the stars of heaven, we must see the signs wrought in our midst… but we cannot be distracted by them from the God who made them. We must eat and drink, we must take husbands and wives… but we cannot get drunk or live in lust, allowing the earthly to overcome our spirits. Lot’s wife turned to see what she’d left behind; she longed to return to her possessions and the carnal life of Sodom. Unable to understand or accept the grace of the angel of God who was leading her forth to a safer and more glorious land, she was turned to salt – all of worth was taken from her; only the carcass remained.
The day shall come when all we see shall be destroyed. And so, how important it is that our hearts not be set on all we see, else we shall be destroyed with it. Though with utmost respect we treat this world and even find joy in its beauty, we must ever keep in mind that its beauty is passing and is only significant if it leads to the eternal beauty of heaven.
O LORD, we must discern the signs of the times,
for your Son will soon return
and we will have to leave all things behind.
YHWH, the heavens declare your glory to all, but do we upon earth hear the angels’ voices? Do we take their message of your beauty and wonder and power to heart, or do we lose ourselves in these things and pass away as they do? For the things in the heavens and those upon the earth, though blessed to find your voice resounding in them, soon turn to dust – only your kingdom remains. Will we stand with you on the last Day?
Soon your Son shall come and fully reveal your glory shining in our midst. Soon He will be here to carry us to Heaven. But will we be ready to travel with Him, or will our souls be dead and empty as a carcass? Will we turn back to the things of the earth and so be turned to salt, or place our faith in Him alone and so fly unto your presence? Let us not be lost in the things we see, O LORD, but raise our minds to look upon that which passes not away. Let us come to you.
Wed, 15 November 2017
O blessed mystic of Jesus,
you were saved by Him
from a life of vain pursuit
of the things and thoughts
of this world
to find union with His Sacred Heart,
which holds all heavenly treasures.
You see Him now
(do you not, dear virgin?)
in His perfection,
even as you saw Him,
though only in the shadow of vision,
here upon this plane –
pray we shall also know
His blessed perfection,
the beating of His Sacred Heart
within our own,
the love which surpasses all understanding
illumining our soul…
that no more will we ever desire
than to be with Him
where you are now,
in His eternal glory.
Wed, 15 November 2017
O devout mother and queen
whose concern was ever
for your children and your people,
that they might ever be fed
in body and in soul
and so grow unto the fullness of Christ –
pray for us, O holy queen,
that we the Lord’s poor subjects
might receive from His hand
all we need
to become His sons and daughters.
In prayer and gratitude
let us remain ever before His throne,
that by such holy fear
we might be made fruitful as you,
bearing children unto Him
and raising them to His glory.
A heart for the poor
may we ever nourish
that, as poor as we are,
by our King’s gracious blessing
we might give what He provides
until all enter His reign.
Wed, 15 November 2017
(Ws.7:22-8:1; Ps.119:89-91,130,135,175; Lk.17:20-25)
“Let your countenance shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.”
Wisdom, who “is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars… reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.” Wisdom “penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity,” for she is “the refulgence of eternal light.” How like the Lord she is, He whose coming “day will be like the lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other” and yet whose reign is “already in [our] midst.” How we are filled with understanding when this light which “endures forever,” which “is firm as the heavens,” shines upon our simple minds, leading us to the grace of eternal glory.
Wisdom we need, brothers and sisters. The Lord’s Word must be with us. “For there is naught God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.” Else we shall be as those who “go running about excitedly” at every report of the Lord’s being “here” or “there,” at every proclamation of the end being near. The end is here; it is now the Son of Man “must suffer much and be rejected by the present age.” The Lord has come, and so “the reign of God is already in [our] midst.” Its fulfillment we shall not discern by “careful watching,” by setting our sights on the things of the earth, but only with the “intelligent, pure, and very subtle” spirit of Wisdom. She alone teaches us of the kingdom, for she alone is “the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of His goodness.” Without her purity, our minds are dimmed. Without her surpassing light, we cannot but be blind. She alone knows, she alone leads holy souls into the truth of His presence. All words lacking her light are but vain speculation, which shall come to naught, which shall fall to the earth from which they are derived. Heaven alone is lasting.
Have we the light of Wisdom directing our thoughts and actions, brothers and sisters? Is her purity set firmly within us? Will we then stand on the day the lightning flashes, on the day the glory of the Lord is revealed? Do we carry that glory now within us? If not, let us turn to Wisdom, and she will teach us. Like a mother who cares for her children she will be. And led to the presence of the Lord we will be, where we will find our peace. Let us not fail to take her gentle yoke upon our shoulders; let the cross of Christ and the light of the coming kingdom be ever our guide.
O LORD, your Son is in our midst
most especially in His Cross,
and it is through His Cross
Wisdom shines most brightly.
YHWH, let the Spirit of Wisdom fill us, your Holy Spirit pass into us and make us as your prophets. Let us speak only your Word in all we do, moving ever with the One who is beyond all motion – intelligent, holy, and pure let us be. Without the light of Wisdom our lives shall be as nothing in your sight; let your countenance shine upon us.
Your reign is coming by the power of the Holy Spirit; it is now already in our midst. Not relegated to space or time, it is not readily perceived by the mind of man – he cannot put his finger upon it or control it in any way. All we can do is desire your presence with us, LORD, that when the lightning flashes in your eternal sky, we will stand firm with you who endure forever, and with your Son.
Give us your light, dear God, that we might be established well in your glorious kingdom.
Tue, 14 November 2017
O patron of scientists and philosophers,
you of brilliant mind
who taught with both
human and divine wisdom,
who led your students
to deeper and purer understanding
of God and His world
and most especially His Church –
pray we partake of your teaching this day,
that the light you brought
to the minds of your flock
will not be lost
by eyes blind to the truth.
Pray the word upon your soul
will bring us closer to the Lord
that we might partake of Him
in sacrament and in preaching.
O how shall we see
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not serve to guide us
to the glory that surpasses
our poor ability to comprehend Him?
Tue, 14 November 2017
(Ws.6:1-11; Ps.82:3-4,6-8; Lk.17:11-19)
“Stand up and go your way;
your faith has been your salvation.”
“This man was a Samaritan.” Jesus chose the lowest of the low, not only a leper, the most ostracized of all individuals, but a Samaritan, a foreigner most despised by the Israelite nation, to reveal His mercy, to reveal the universal nature of His forgiveness, and so the universal call to salvation. He demonstrates that all may have faith in Him, and that it is for us to call all to Him.
Many are given power on this earth, power which was far from the Samaritan leper healed by Jesus. And Wisdom makes clear the responsibility that comes with that authority, the manner in which that judgment placed in the hands of princes must be effected. For the Lord shall hold accountable all to whom power is given; He shall “probe [their] works and scrutinize [their] counsels.” And if they keep not His law and “walk according to the will of God,” great as the power given them shall be their punishment. “For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy,” as was the leper in our gospel today, “but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.”
I find it rather frightening to hear that “for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends,” for, brothers and sisters, we are all given a measure of power by the Lord, and so all shall be held responsible for their gifts. It can make us quake in our shoes to think that we are answerable to God, to the all-powerful Lord of the universe, for all we do. Do we “keep the holy precepts” well? Will we “have ready a response” when He stands before us, when He inquires of our actions? If we desire His words, we know that He will instruct us, but how can we who are so human and sinful be as faithful as we need to be? Our psalm warns us: “You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High” – we are all gifted greatly by our God to be as His children – “yet like men you shall die, and fall like any prince…” yet oh how human we are, how subject to the elements of sin and death.
What shall we do? Our psalm indicates what our actions should be: “Defend the lowly and the fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and the destitute.” And the blessed leper in our gospel reveals the attitude we should have toward our Lord: “He threw himself on his face at the feet of Jesus and spoke His praises.” If we think ourselves any better than he or do anything differently, we shall not hear the Lord calling us to rise and go forth – we shall not find our salvation. Let us demonstrate our faith and the grace at work within us.
O LORD, you raise the lowly who call to you,
but the wicked who turn their faces from your presence
you cut down.
YHWH, the lowly and the poor you raise up, so let us fall on our face before you. Like the leper let us know and remember that only by your Son are we made whole; only by you do we have life at all. Whatever power we may have in this world comes only from you, and we shall be answerable for it.
You scrutinize all matters, LORD, for your eye sees all things. The haughty soul does not escape your glance but shall be brought to judgment for the evil in his heart and at his hands. If we desire to find blessing from you, to come into your presence in the kingdom, how humble we must be and faithful in your service.
We are all made princes by your grace upon us. Though we come from dust you breathe the breath of life into us and so form us in your image. And in your image we must remain, to it we must return, O LORD. Without your wisdom to lead us, how terribly we shall be judged. Save us from such a deadly fate, and we shall sing your praise.
Mon, 13 November 2017
(Ws.2:23-3:9; Ps.34:2-3,16-19; Lk.17:7-10)
“The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them.”
What does the Lord mean when He instructs us in our gospel to say, “We are useless servants,” than that which David says in our psalm, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves,” and that which the Book of Wisdom states in our first reading: “Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself”? For though we who serve Christ seem to be dead in the judgment of this world, and the laying down of our lives in service of Christ – who died upon the cross quite freely – seems to be nothing but “utter destruction,” yet we know that it is precisely this death in Christ which brings life… and in His hands we shall be blessed.
“The Lord confronts evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.” Yet “when the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress He rescues them.” Yes, “those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with Him in love: because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” And “they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their king forever.” For they have given their service to the One who rules the universe, and so in His service they shall remain – death shall have no power over them. If “God formed man to be imperishable” and made him “the image of His own nature,” what shall touch those who serve Him, who treasure that image of God upon them? How shall they die?
“We have done no more than our duty.” This is the bottom line of our time on earth. And the accomplishment of our duty, the fulfillment of the Lord’s Word at work in our hearts, is all that is needed to bring us to eternal life. And though it is not His obligation, though certainly no reward is due us who have but carried out the orders of our superior, the Lord will say to us in His grace on that day, “Come and sit down at table.” And we shall sup with Him eternally, His gracious hand upon us for good.
Brothers and sisters, forget not your call to serve Him, to lay down your lives before Him, and He shall not neglect to hear you now, and to give you life eternal. Keep your “hope full of immortality” even “as gold in the furnace” your mettle is proven this day, and the day of the Lord shall be yours, when all torment shall have fled away.
O LORD, we are indeed useless servants,
but you greatly bless those who serve you.
YHWH, death is upon us this day, you know. But we who are joined to the Cross of your Son are not touched by it: from death you save your faithful servants. Whatever power the devil has to threaten us with our sins and the death that comes from them has been destroyed by the sacrifice of Jesus. And so, we who humble ourselves with Him will be blessed in your kingdom.
When we cry out to you, dear LORD, you are quick to save us; near indeed you are to the brokenhearted. Though our spirits be crushed by the travails of this life, you raise them to your presence. And so, what can we do but glory in your NAME? What can we do but look forward to that day when we shall sit at your table?
O LORD, let us be purified of all dross by the affliction we suffer in union with your only Son. Remade in His image, into your peace let us come, dwelling in immortality.
Sun, 12 November 2017
O mother of the faith
and helper of the stranger
in the New World,
you sought with great diligence
to preserve the true religion
in a land hostile to Mother Church,
to assist those in spiritual
as well as physical need –
pray a measure of your missionary spirit
be poured out upon your daughters,
upon the many houses you established
and all those served by them.
Pray the country you took to heart
and which became your own
will turn resolutely
to the Lord and His blood
and away from the destruction
of its soul,
upon which it seems so set.
Pray the faith shall be restored
from shore to shore
and this nation in truth become
a light on a hill.
Sun, 12 November 2017
(Wis.1:1-7; Ps.139:1-10,24; Lk.17:1-6)
“Where can I hide from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?”
Yes, “wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemous of his guilty lips.” For the spirit of the Lord is everywhere and hears everything, listening closely to a man’s inmost thoughts. “For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what man says.” And so it is that David sings, “If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there, too.” How could we escape His encircling Hand and His omnipresent justice if, as David says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all”? And so, in heaven He is present to raise us to glory; but in hell, His presence condemns our sin.
We cannot sin, brothers and sisters. If we do, we shall not escape His hand. It cannot but be that the Lord condemns all evil, for “into a soul that plots evil, wisdom enters not,” and what hope have we of life if the spirit of wisdom guides us not? Indeed, we must “seek Him in integrity of heart.” Yes, justice must be our love, and wisdom our treasure. This alone will bring us unto heaven. If our counsels are perverse and we cause sin to occur, leading others astray by our unjust words and actions, the Lord makes quite clear our fate in our gospel today: “It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” And there is a “little one” in ourselves, whom only the Lord – who probes our heart and mind – knows, and whom we condemn to destruction by our sin.
Rather, we must have faith. We must forgive others and have an abiding faith in Him, Jesus tells us. This faith will manifest itself in the great works done in His name, and in our following Him simply day to day. With such faith we cannot be shaken. Holding such faith, the light shining upon our souls by Him who sees all will purify us for the coming of His kingdom.
What can we say, brothers and sisters? The Lord hears us. Where can we go? He is with us. Either for evil because of our turning away, or for our good by our turning to Him, the Lord is ever present. It must be our desire to come to Him, in wisdom and in justice, in forgiveness and in faith… and hell we shall avoid as gratefully into His glory we fly, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
O LORD, you see us and the sin we commit,
and so we must turn to you for forgiveness.
YHWH, your Spirit fills the world; wherever we may go, you are present. We cannot escape your light, and should we try, we would but find ourselves in hell. You hear every word we speak: our inmost selves are exposed to your eye. We must but believe in your love, and Wisdom will be with us as guide.
But how difficult we make the path to faith. How ready we are to listen to senseless and perverse counsels and so disbelieve you. As easily as Eve we fall, O LORD. May we know your just rebuke of our sins that we might find repentance and taste your forgiveness upon our souls.
O let us not fight against you, dear God! but work always and only for the salvation of all, for the recognition of your eternal glory present in our midst by the Spirit come through your only Son. And so with you let us dwell.
Sat, 11 November 2017
O shepherd thirsty for souls,
whose only desire
was the unity of the Church
under Christ her King
and on the Rock of Peter…
for this cause you gave your life;
for this call from the Lord
you shed your blood –
pray this day all may be one,
that none shall shrink
from fulfilling this desire of Jesus
but by the power of the Holy Spirit
and with great courage
to slake the thirst of the Lord.
We are all children of one Father;
we have but one Brother in Christ
and one Mother in the Catholic faith.
Pray this truth shall prevail
over the deceptions of the devil,
who would separate and conquer souls
but who is turned back from his evil course
when we are willing to die for one another.
Sat, 11 November 2017
(Wis.6:12-16; Ps.63:2-8; 1Thes.4:13-18; Mt.25:1-13)
“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
O Lord, “through the night-watches I will meditate on you: you are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.” “As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you”; for though “my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water” for you, O Living God, I have “gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory,” and you have met me with your “kindness.” Your Wisdom “graciously appears to [me] in the ways, and meets [me] with all solicitude.”
“Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate. For taking thought of Wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care.”
I could not say it any better, or any differently, than the sacred author. Do not these words perfectly illustrate the Lord’s message in our gospel today – Stay awake! Keep your lamps burning! Seek Wisdom! Be ready, and she will come to you; and you will be gathered into the marriage feast. Foolishly sit in darkness, unconcerned for your fate, and these ominous words shall resound in your barren soul: “Then the door was locked.” And then there shall be no entering.
I must again remark on the astounding lack of wisdom in the commentary of the missal I read. It states, “Paul is under the misconception that our Lord will return during his lifetime,” ignorantly assuming that when he says, “We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,” he is referring to himself and his companions. Oh my! Where do they derive the oil for their lamps? He is no more referring directly to himself in this instance than he is when he says, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose” – it is of the whole Church, of whatever time or place, he is speaking! How can our “scholars” not see this; and how can they be so ready to utter blasphemy against Holy Scripture and the Lord’s Apostle, suggesting that he purports some greater knowledge of the Lord’s return than the Lord Himself? Do they think he is as ignorant, or proud, as they?
Brothers and sisters, we indeed have great hope of resurrection. When “the Lord Himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven,” we will be caught up with Him “in the air,” in His heavenly presence. But we must have His light within ourselves and keep watch for His Hour, waiting through the night for the dawn of His Day.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Watching the Sun" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, nothing else matters
but our union with you –
let us be with you forever.
YHWH, help us to keep vigil for you and for your Son’s return. Let our hearts be set on your coming glory, that we may join in it ourselves. May our lamps shine brightly as we await the new Day; dispel all darkness from our midst. Give us the wisdom we need to remember your promise of new life in the kingdom – O let us be wed to Jesus, we pray!
Through the night we meditate on you and on your Word; it is for you our souls thirst. What more could we desire than to be with you in Heaven? What more should we long for than your saving grace? And to those who seek you, you come, O LORD. To rescue us from the darkness you do not delay. For even as we remain in vigil, your wisdom hastens to shine the light of your face.
May we be counted among those ready for your coming kingdom; with your Son may we enter the wedding feast. Awake let us be to share in your glory. O LORD, that we shall rise from the dead let us believe.
Fri, 10 November 2017
O sacrificial shepherd,
you gave your life for your flock;
a poor and humble man,
you gathered the poor and humble
of the Lord
into the arms of His Church,
where they might be fed with His grace.
Ever with arms upraised
you taught your people ever to pray
and founded many houses of prayer;
peace you brought to your church
that all might serve the one true God –
pray we shall be humble and lowly
as you, dear shepherd,
and so mirror the life of our Lord.
Pray our lives be entrusted to Him,
that whatever we do be in His will;
whether we live or die,
let it not matter to us,
but only let matter the laying down of our lives,
that by such sacrificial offering
God’s Word might go forth
and all souls be welcomed into Abraham’s arms.
Fri, 10 November 2017
(Rm.16:3-9,16,22-27; Ps.145:1-5,10-11; Lk.16:9-15)
“Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.”
We are in the world, and amongst the wealth of this world. We have nothing to do with money and the world – “You cannot serve God and money,” the Lord has told us, and so we cannot serve money… yet what have we to use but the riches of this world? And so “through use of this world’s goods,” by showing ourselves trustworthy with this “elusive wealth,” we find and bring others to the “lasting” riches of heaven.
Paul at the end of his letter to the Romans lists all his “fellow workers in the service of Christ.” Here are those who have been faithful with the elusive wealth of this world. They themselves have died, their bodies have been laid in the tomb, yet their works live on in the Spirit they have brought forth. Nothing of this world lasts long, yet these transitory things can and must be used, that “glory be given through Jesus Christ unto endless ages.”
“Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might,” sings David to the Lord. And with our voice, too, while we have breath, we must “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wondrous works.” Forever and in all our works we must praise and bless the Lord of all, that all we do leads unto the glory of the kingdom, that in all we serve God with all our might. We must join ourselves to Him, and we do this by the gifts He gives us, and by employing now what is at our disposal. So it is. So it has been back beyond the time of Paul, and so it shall be unto the coming of eternity.
Today we must think of how well we use this world’s goods, how well we employ this Word of the Lord in the world. In the “little” things of our daily lives do we honor God, or are we unjust in some manner? For today begins the road to heaven; this time leads to eternity. And if we wish to find “lasting reception” with the Lord in heaven, we must be ever faithful in our works today. To God let us give thanks. May we who are the work of the Lord give praise to Him in all our works upon this earth.
O LORD, let us give you glory
through all that is at our hands.
YHWH, generation after generation praises your works; from the time of the apostles unto this day, all those who serve the Gospel of your Son speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty – let us always discourse of the glory of your reign and give you due praise by all we do in your NAME.
O LORD, we are in the world, and though we can never be of the world, what do we have but the world this day? And so we must use it wisely and make great profit by it, even the salvation of the world itself. May many men come into your presence by the work of your servants each day. And may we always be in their company.
O LORD, let our names be written in the Book of those who have faithfully served you, who have turned their backs on unjust gain for the sake of your Church. May we forever sing your praise with all those your Son has saved.
Thu, 9 November 2017
O true Pastor of God’s Church,
defender of the faith
from forces without
and within her walls,
you proved that this House
founded by Christ the Lord
shall never succumb
to the powers of hell
but ever stand strong
against all tides of the world
and the evil influence of the devil –
pray though the flesh be weak,
though every member be prone to sin,
that all souls set on the Rock
that is the bark of Peter
shall repel every attack
against the integrity of the faith
and stand with Jesus
as king over the flesh,
as priest offering pure sacrifice,
as prophet speaking His words…
and so until the end of time
may God’s Church be ever blessed.
Thu, 9 November 2017
(Rm.15:14-21; Ps.98:1-4; Lk.16:1-8)
“The worldly take more initiative than the otherworldly
when it comes to dealing with their own kind.”
What is the Lord teaching His disciples? What does He wish to tell them of their call? We need only look at the Apostle Paul, for here is a man, a child of God, who has taken the initiative the Lord would see wrought in us all.
Our first reading indeed speaks clearly of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. Not only has he covered a vast measure of the globe (particularly for that time), but his intense initiative is seen most acutely in his never going “to preach in places where Christ’s name was already known”; rather, “they who received no word of Him” became Paul’s audience. A greater example of taking initiative in the Spirit of Christ to bring His light to the world perhaps will never be known.
But it is required of all of us. We are not free to revel in complacency because Paul has been so industrious. It is still true that the Lord must make His salvation known “in the sight of the nations,” and it is still so that we Christians of the Church militant have the responsibility to see that the Lord’s work is accomplished. Each of us is called to take a measure of initiative, is gifted by God with the responsibility of bringing a portion of His kingdom to light – in our own way, in our own time… but invariably the call is there and must be answered. All must fulfill their role in salvation history before it can be truly and completely proclaimed: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.”
The devious employee’s heart was set thoroughly on the business at his hands, and he used his business wisdom, his worldly savvy, to save his skin. Where is our spiritual savvy? Where is the employment of our spiritual wisdom and insight to the salvation of others’ souls, and our own? “I can take glory in Christ Jesus for the work I have done for God,” Paul says quite freely. Are we able to say the same? Let us work industriously and with initiative to bring the spiritual kingdom to fulfillment. By God’s grace, let the Spirit come.
O LORD, let us do all we can to bring your Word
to the world.
YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of your Son, but we must carry that truth to the ends of the world, even as the Apostle Paul.
We cannot sit on our hands, dear LORD; we must not dissipate your grace. Rather, let us readily preach your Gospel in all we think, do, and say. Then we will be pleasing in your sight, and all souls will be drawn into your presence.
O LORD, to your children you have granted complete knowledge of your ways and made them able to serve your kingdom. In the power of your Spirit let us go forth to see that all peoples are consecrated to you.
Let all souls sing a new song to your NAME; let all praise your goodness to us, LORD. From your work let us never turn away until we stand with you on your holy Day.
Wed, 8 November 2017
(Ez.47:1-2,8-9,12; Ps.46:1-3,5-6,8-9; 1Cor.3:9c-11,16-17; Jn.2:13-22)
“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.”
On this the feast set aside to commemorate the cathedral of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, himself the founding stone upon which Christ builds His Church, we hear much of temples. In our first reading Ezekial sees in his vision, “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple,” water which brings life to the great sea and the fruit that grows upon its banks; the water that gladdens the holy dwelling of the Most High is spoken of in our psalm; Paul tells us we are “the temple of God,” “God’s building”; and zeal for the Father’s house consumes the Lord, and so He purges it with whip in hand in our gospel today. But perhaps the most revelatory statement is, “He was speaking of the temple of His body,” also from our gospel, and noted as explanation of Jesus’ challenge to the Jews to destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days. This essential truth of the nature of the temple is substantiated by Paul’s teaching of the care needed by those who build within the Church: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.” Though he then goes on to say that we are the temple of God, wrought in all holiness, and though this is an equal truth, yet neither this truth, nor that which holds Peter as the founding “rock” of this Temple in which we dwell, have any basis without the essential understanding that Jesus is at the very heart of all our worship, of the Church we are. The Lord has indeed wrought “astounding things… on earth.” He has made us as those trees along the banks of His river of life, bearing His fruit each month for the benefit of the world. He has made us His holy dwelling place and placed His Spirit upon us for the building up of His kingdom… But all of this has its source in the water of life itself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our Church this day and the glorious blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as His temple, as His children, let us not forget our Savior who has been the cause of and continues to be the cause of our joy. Let us be washed in the water from His side and be built up in His Body and His Blood. May we have His same zeal for the Father’s House.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, purify this temple, destroyed by sin;
let us truly be your House, dear God.
YHWH, you are with us in the midst of your Church, your Son the very foundation of this Temple. And He is the Temple itself, we His very Body; and so, how holy we should be. Indeed, we should be as holy as you, our Most High God, as perfect as your only Son.
It is Jesus’ blood and the water flowing from His side that washes us clean and nourishes the growth of His holy Church. The waters of this River gladden the hearts of all who dwell in your House, O LORD. Upon the banks of this River let us ever remain, bearing fruit each month, each day, each hour, in your holy NAME.
Beneath the Cross let us make our home, O holy LORD and God. Here alone in the shadow of Jesus’ arms will we be made whole, will our temple be cleansed and we become your house of prayer. May the zeal of the Christ chastise our hearts and prepare them for your kingdom. May we be raised with Him on His Day and remain in your presence forever.
Tue, 7 November 2017
(Rm.13:8-10; Ps.112:1-2,4-5,9; Lk.14:25-33)
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Jesus tells us, “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions,” turning our backs even on father and mother, even on our very selves. Our psalm states of the happy man, “Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever.” And Paul makes clear that we “owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another. He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
What is this love? Where is this generous spirit? How do we renounce all our possessions? In the cross of Christ we find our call. The cross of Christ means giving all, means laying down our lives for the Lord and our neighbor – the cross of Christ is love itself at work in this world in the death of self and the finding of the grace and the love of God in heaven.
Jesus wishes that you be sure about this. He desires that you understand what is required of you – your very life, your absolute love. Nothing short of total sacrifice will do; we must be entirely whole, utterly holy, to enter His gates, to follow Him into glory. This is greater and more significant than any war, than any project conceived by the mind of man, for it is our eternal soul that is at stake, whose weight cannot compare to even all the world. “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” We all have a cross graciously placed upon our shoulders by our loving Lord to make us one with Him in His redemptive suffering and death, to make us one with Him in such utter love. How will we find heaven if we do not love? How do we come to that place which is only of love if we do not give ourselves to love completely?
“How can I do this?” you say. “The Lord asks too much.” You must remember that it is only love He asks of you, and that it is His cross you carry – He who is only of love – and so He carries your cross with you, making it ever so sweet and light. Do you think the saints feared to die in the name of Christ? Do you think they shrank back even in the face of torture? None of this has any significance to the soul who is set on Christ; and without Christ a hangnail can seem overwhelming.
Love, brothers and sisters. It is simple as that. Love. Not this world, but His heart, His sacrifice, His cross. And you will see all brought to life before you; and you will find joy in your soul.
O LORD, what a beautiful invitation to love
is Jesus’ call to carry our cross with Him!
for He is only love,
and what can we find but love if we follow Him –
and who will we then not truly love?
YHWH, teach us of your way of love, embodied so perfectly in your Son, that we might give ourselves as generously as He to all those we find in need. Help us to give up all things, to renounce our possessions, to turn our backs even on friends and family that we might truly love them and so teach them of your surpassing love.
O how sweet is the Cross your Son would impart to all His followers! What light it gives to the world. If with willing heart we lend to others, expecting nothing in return, how blessed are we to thus share in your love! Love is all that matters; it is the fulfillment of your Law, O LORD. And we find it in the Cross.
Jesus gives so lavishly to us poor souls, we who are so poor in spirit. Nothing have we to offer in return, dear God, but the sacrifice of our lives. May this poor offering be acceptable to you.
Mon, 6 November 2017
(Rm.12:5-16; Ps.131:1-3; Lk.14:15-24)
“Come along, everything is ready now.”
Dinner is being served now in the kingdom of God. But are we prepared to sit down at table? Or do we turn our hearts to other things?
Jesus sets our place now in the kingdom of heaven. He has come. He has died. He has risen and sends now the Holy Spirit to invite us into His presence. And His presence is ever with us; He is ever knocking at the door of our hearts – His Spirit is always with us. But, again, do we hear His call, do we heed His call? Do we care to come into His presence and sup with Him, and receive His gracious gifts at His precious table, at His holy altar… or do we cling to what is evil, what is worldly?
How do we come to His kingdom? How do we find ourselves in His presence? Paul instructs us: we must simply do His will. Doing His will upon the face of this earth brings us to the kingdom of heaven. The teaching should be evident to all Christians: “One who is a teacher should use his gift for teaching… He who gives alms should do so generously… Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer…” Do all things as is meet for those things. It is not complex. There needs no genius to figure it out, or a scholastic degree to understand it. One need not travel miles to discover it. It is truth. It is Jesus. It is to suffer and die for Him as called by the Lord. “Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good.” What more can be said? Find peace in the arms of the Lord. Say with our psalmist, “I have still and quieted my soul… like a weaned child upon its mother’s lap.” We must do as he proclaims: “I busy not myself with great things, nor with things too sublime for me.” We must not complicate God’s simple love for us and our call simply to love Him with all He gives us. We must, rather, heed His voice, and come into His presence when He calls.
The table is set. His Word is speaking to us. In silence we will hear Him; in quiet we will find His voice. In the vain activity of this world we become deaf. Only by hearing and doing His Word and will, will we come to sit at His table and partake of His heavenly banquet – only if this is the true desire of our souls. Even now we taste Him in the Blessed Sacrament; even today we hear His Word proclaimed. Are we prepared to meet Him? Do we seek to do His holy will?
O LORD, all are invited your House –
let us find our place in the Body of Christ
and serve Him well.
YHWH, help us to do your will in all things, simply and purely, as your sons. What you give to us let us share with others, answering you readily when you call.
What need we do, dear God, but share the gifts you give us with others? What do you expect of us but to use well what you place in our hands? If we can teach, let us teach; if serve, let us serve. Whatever we have let us be generous in offering at the service of our brothers. Let us indeed love freely as you.
Then we will be ready to answer your Son’s call to the kingdom – we will already be answering it in our very actions. We will not be distracted from coming to you, LORD, if our only desire is to do your will in all things, if we are serving you with all our lives. Then your Bread will already be before us, and we shall come into your presence this day. O let your peace reign in our hearts!
Sun, 5 November 2017
(Rm.11:29-36; Ps.69:14,30-31,33-34,36-37; Lk.14:12-14)
“God has imprisoned all in disobedience
that He might have mercy on all.”
I begin to see “how deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God.” For though I am far from knowing “the mind of the Lord,” yet He does offer me a certain insight this early morning about Him whom Paul says, “From Him and through Him and for Him all things are.”
It is in the complementarity of the readings the insight comes, particularly viewing the gospel in light of the first reading. Jesus instructs the chief of the Pharisees that when giving a banquet he should “invite beggars and the crippled, the lame and the blind” and to be “pleased that they cannot repay” him for his generosity, assuring him he “will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.” Now, the Lord does not instruct us to be anything more or less than He and the Father are. So this instruction reflects God’s own great desire and joy in giving to those who are not able to repay Him: it serves as a reminder that God is love, that He thrives, as it were, on mercy, on compassion.
Paul, in the first reading, states to the Romans, “God wished to show you mercy,” and that for this reason the Jews “have become disobedient,” as well as to fulfill God’s longing that “they too may receive mercy” upon returning to Him who set them apart for Himself. Again we see the greatness of God’s love, we glimpse His burning desire to show compassion to all creatures. Now, to the mind lacking wisdom (and love), it might seem as if God is somehow playing with us, causing our falling that He might lift us up again. But it is necessary to remember that God did not desire us to sin, that this was not His intention… and indeed that He did not need us to sin to show us His mercy and love. But our disobedience having come, God in His love is not conquered. This temporary and empty victory by the devil does not tie His hands. Rather, the Lord takes this opportunity to show in an even greater way the very mercy and love which are His essence – shown to us so clearly in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to forgive men’s sins – to show, really, His greatness, which has its source in this love.
And David’s psalm speaks in the same line: “The Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” In our affliction and pain we cry out and He comes with His “saving help”; He is pleased to “rebuild the cities of Judah,” to return us to His side. It is not sin He desires, but the recognition of our dependence on Him for all things, that He might freely show us His love. For this love at His heart’s core and which overcomes all – which is the essence of God and His creation – let us praise Him, brothers and sisters. “To Him be glory forever. Amen.”
O LORD, who can repay you
for your mercy toward us,
for your love is without measure?
YHWH, how great is your mercy, and how greatly you desire us to share in that mercy. And so we have become imprisoned in disobedience, that your love you might freely bestow upon us. And so you call us to give freely to others, that your blessing of mercy we might know even in our own souls.
O LORD, how can we poor creatures share so intimately in your merciful love? How can we who have hardened our hearts so much against you be blessed with the grace of forgiveness and come to the fountain of love you are? We deserve it not. We merit only condemnation. And yet, it is your desire to show us such love, and to have us show it to others.
How can we thank you, LORD, we poor beggars, we blind souls…? How can we repay you for giving us, and then giving us back, our very lives? In your generosity invite us to your table and by your grace let us feast with you.
Sat, 4 November 2017
(Mal.1:14b-2:2b,8-10; Ps.131:1-3; 1Thes.2:7b-9,13; Mt.23:1-12)
“Have we not all the one Father?
Has not the one God created us?”
And should not those who serve in His stead, bringing the word of God to waiting hearts, be as He is, loving all as He does and thus giving “glory to [His] name”?
“I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me,” King David declares, thus revealing the blessed relationship of the faithful, humble disciple and His Lord. We are indeed as little children before God, and He loves us as a tender Father, as the One who has made us with great care. And so we should take our peace upon His lap.
And when the sheep of the flock come to the shepherds the Lord has appointed to teach in His Name, they should find a reflection of the Father’s presence – in these one should discover His love. Yes, they must instruct according to the Word placed upon their souls by their ordination, but they should not merit the words Jesus speaks of the Pharisees: “They preach but they do not practice.” For if “all their works are performed to be seen,” if they teach and preach without love, without living the word of God themselves, soon the flock will be led astray by their vanity and turn from the word they speak itself. Malachi prophesies to the priests of his day: “You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction.” If these leaders show no reverence of God themselves, who will be led to reverence by their instruction?
Yes, still our duty is to God Himself and our worship is of Him alone – and so Jesus teaches the people, “Do and observe whatsoever [the scribes and Pharisees] tell you, but do not follow their example” – but He also demands of His followers that they not possess the vanity of these proud leaders. Oh if all approached the service of Paul, how blessed our Church would be! Listen to his words to the Thessalonians: “Brothers and sisters: we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children,” for he and his fellow workers “were determined to share with [them] not only the Gospel of God, but [their] very selves as well,” so much did they love their flock with the love of God.
And this is as all pastors are called to be, “working night and day” for the little ones in their care. “Feed my sheep,” the Lord commanded His Rock; and all our priests are called to feed the members of the Church not only with the Word of God, but also with His love, that they might learn to take refuge in Him who is Father of all. I ask you, has the Lord not become incarnate in our midst? And should that Incarnation not be known in all our flesh and in all our bone? Then let us serve one another in love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Everyone's A Baby, Everyone's A Child" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us humble ourselves
before you, our Father.
YHWH, let us all be humble before you, as children on their mother’s lap; then we shall know your blessing – then we shall live in your love. But if we should become proud and seek the praise of others, our souls will be thus corrupted and we will know you no more.
O LORD, please send us holy priests to guide us in your ways. May they always preach your Word in truth that our hearts might not go astray; and may they live according to the Gospel they impart, that an example of your self-giving love will be ever with us.
What is a family without a father, and how can we be your children without your image revealed among us, without the instruction and sacrifice of your Son made real in our midst? You have created us, dear LORD, and you desire to share your blessings with us all. In genuine humility let us come before you and others, serving ever your saving Word.
Fri, 3 November 2017
O defender of the Catholic faith
in which all the saints
make their home,
O great pastor of souls,
shepherd of Christ’s flock,
who would see all enter fully
into the fold
only the saints know –
pray for the Lord’s Church this day,
that it shall never turn away
from the Truth
which is at its heart,
from the Son of God
who made it,
forming it in His own blood;
pray our souls be set
on prayer to Him,
our minds on meditation
on His life,
that nothing may distract us
from His holy presence
within the walls of Mother Church
and within our own hearts.
Fri, 3 November 2017
(Rm.11:1-2,11-12,25-29; Ps.94:12-15,17-18; Lk.14:1,7-11)
“The Lord will not cast off His people,
nor abandon His inheritance.”
Today the gifts and call of the Israelites, which are “irrevocable,” are spoken of beautifully in our readings.
Indeed, the majority of Jews rejected and even persecuted Jesus and His followers. But as Paul tells us, the Lord has always and will always leave a remnant among them to maintain His covenant with them. As Paul reminds us, “I myself am an Israelite.” And of course so were all the apostles. God has not rejected His people, for “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” The promise He has made to bless the Israelites stands to this day.
Paul explains clearly the wisdom of God and how He works through the transgressions of the Jews to bring the Gentiles to salvation. And how the Gentiles’ conversion and the grace poured upon them shall lead the Israelite people back to the Lord: “Blindness has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in, and then all Israel will be saved.” Yes, all Israel will yet be saved; they shall yet come flowing to the mountain of God, to His Son, and find redemption, and find the honor bestowed upon them; and by their turning, how much all His holy people shall be blessed! “Judgment shall again be with justice, and all the upright of heart shall follow it.” Alleluia!
But there is another lesson for us today, and it, too, has to do with the quality needed by the chosen. Jesus speaks of it clearly in our gospel, and it illustrates the difficulty the Jews have in coming to the Lord, and warns us against the same mistake. Jesus comes to dinner “at the house of one of the leading Pharisees” and witnesses the guests scrambling for the best seats at table. Quietly He speaks to them, gently He reminds them, that they are not called to exaltation of their own position, gifted as it may or may not be, but to humility before all, as He has indeed shown us. How unlike our Lord, who though in the form of God humbled Himself to become human and even to die on a cross (without uttering a word), are they. And here is the teaching of Christ: “Sit in the lowest place.” The greater our call, the deeper should be our humility. This emptying ourselves as has Jesus is an indispensable virtue for any Christian. And only it will bring the Jew to realize the presence of Christ in his midst.
And should we who have been grafted to the kingdom’s tree late in time boast of our gift, walk with haughty eyes in His house? By no means, lest we be cast off by Him. Let us rather treasure the grace the Lord has granted us, preserve His call within us, and make our election permanent, beneath the shadow of His cross.
O LORD, we shall not enter your reign
until we are humble before you;
your Son is ever present
and so we must ever give place to Him.
YHWH, you do not abandon your people, Jew or Gentile believer, but serve in your wisdom to bring all to salvation, if they but humble themselves before you. For pride is the only thing that can condemn us, the only thing that can keep us from you and your merciful love; and so if you make your people to stumble, it is only for their good, only to see that they shall inherit your glory by their conformity to the humility of your only Son.
There is a greater than all of us present here at our feast. Should we not make room for Jesus, LORD? And if we do not, if we clamor to take our place above your Chosen One, if we look upon the gifts and graces that come to us only through Him and use them as excuse to exalt ourselves above others, will not such conceit, will not such blindness to the presence of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins keep us from sharing in His body and blood? O let us enter your gates by taking the lowest place with your chosen ones.
Thu, 2 November 2017
O humble and charitable soul
whose healing hands served the poor
and all those the Lord placed
in your care,
with great love you looked upon
Christ on the Cross
and in the Blessed Sacrament,
and so sought to love your neighbor
even as Jesus Himself –
pray we shall somehow learn
to put others before ourselves,
that in this way,
in the way of the Lord,
we will truly love and serve God,
knowing our sins outweigh
those of any other soul,
and yet that the mercy of our Savior
outweighs any human fault.
And so, pray we shall be humble as you,
as kind and as caring,
that we too will lay down our lives
in prayer and in penance,
in the blood and tears of Jesus.
Thu, 2 November 2017
(Rm.9:1-5; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Lk.14:1-6)
“They could not answer.”
The Pharisees are dumb. The leaders of the Jewish nation cannot speak as to whether a man should be healed on the sabbath. How far they have fallen from the presence of God.
We know the Israelites were God’s chosen people. This is proclaimed clearly by both Paul and our psalmist today: “Theirs were the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the lawgiving, the worship, and the promises; theirs were the patriarchs, and from them came the Messiah”; yet when the Messiah, the Son, the fulfillment of all the gifts given them, stands before them… they are blind, they are dumb – they have no wisdom, no light. This is the nation whom the Lord has given “His statutes and His ordinances… He has not done thus for any other nation.” And yet they are unable to judge that it is right for a man to be healed at any time, that this is God’s will, that human life supersedes the mere observance of law, a law they have suffocated of its life.
And we? Again, being successors to the Jews we must always ask ourselves if we do the things which caused the promise to be taken from their hands. Do we proclaim the glory of this Word? Do we “speak the truth in Christ”? Or do we keep silent, too? And not the silence that bears all suffering as has our Savior upon the cross do I speak – I mean the death of the Word in our souls. The inability to discern His will. The fear to praise God by teaching the nations of the grace which has been granted us. “He sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His Word!” But does that Word come through us, does it work through us who are the keepers of the New Covenant, or do we let it die in our throats?
“Blessed forever be God who is over all!” Paul shouts as despair he begins to detect for the failure of so many Jews to turn to Christ. And so we should ever praise our God whenever doubt or fear enters our soul. It is our only refuge. It is our only strength. Silence before the courts of this world which observe us closely will not do. Acceptance of our death, yes, but not fear of retribution should be ours. We must speak the truth in love, relying on the wisdom which comes from Him alone as we make our way through the challenges of this world.
O LORD, why should our mouths be shut
in the presence of your glory?
YHWH, may your Word run swiftly to us and work swiftly through us. May we never hesitate to proclaim your praise, to declare your love for all in all our words and actions. May we think only the good and seek only your will. Let the dictates of the law never quash our souls.
How blessed were your chosen people, LORD! All things were given them at your gracious hands. True worship of you was theirs; but how far they have fallen from your love. Though all was made known to them by your Word, they forgot the blessing upon their nation and became blind to your will. O let their eyes be opened!
You desire only good for all, dearest LORD, and nothing that is for our neighbor’s good can contravene your law. The law you give to lead us to glory, and now that glory is in our midst in your only Son. Let us open our hearts to His teaching and live forever in your love.
Wed, 1 November 2017
(Wis.3:1-9; Ps.23:1-6; 1Cor.15:51-57; Jn.6:37-40
Note: there are any number of readings possible for this day)
“The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.”
Is this not what it means to be a Christian? To have faith in the resurrection from the dead. To believe that after our time of trial there shall be peace, that we shall be refined by the hand of God to stand in His presence, to share in His kingship. “Grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” This is our faith.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And so we have no fear. The Lord watches over us and guides our path, and in His blessing we take refuge, knowing we shall come to be with Him, knowing He is with us even this day, knowing even death we shall conquer in His Name. “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” Nothing shall remove us from His presence. “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.” Indeed, though all die, all shall come to life. None can remain as they are; all must be changed. All that is mortal must take on immortality, and in this immortality, in this incorruptibility we gain, death is swallowed up – it is no more. “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is an eternal victory.
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me.” It cannot be that the Father’s will not be done. Jesus awaits us with open arms. He has gone before us, He has prepared a place for us, and we must but come to Him as drawn by the will of the Father. “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise Him up on the last day.” Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Death is not our realm, brothers and sisters. Though it comes to us all, it is but a passageway into Heaven, it is but the Lord’s means of preparing us for the kingdom. And so, whether we experience it today or tomorrow or yesterday is of no consequence. It is there. It shall come to us all. But all who believe are preserved from its clutches and drawn into the life the Father offers. Let us pray this day for all holy souls to come by the Son into the hands of the Father.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, help us find victory over death in Jesus,
your Son, and so come to dwell with you forever.
YHWH, though we walk through the dark valley, we fear no evil – for you are at our side. Though death close its mouth upon us, we remain courageous, for your Son has given us victory over sin and death by His sacrifice on the Cross; and as we take refuge in Him, we are raised to dwell with you in eternal life. Let all souls be raised to your side with Him!
Where in this world can we turn where there is not sin, where there is not darkness, where there is not death? O LORD, it is so, that this world is clothed with corruption, with mortality. All is now doomed to die for the sin that besets Creation. But where does the grace of your Son not penetrate? To whom would He not bring new life? And what need we but faith in Him to find that life dwelling in us even this day?
Soon the end will come – the end of sin and the end of death. Let us not die with death, LORD, but find the victory you desire to impart to all souls through your Son. May your goodness and kindness follow us all our days and lead us to your eternal kingdom. May all who have died be at your side.
Tue, 31 October 2017
O God’s holy ones,
His apostles and martyrs,
His virgins and confessors,
all who have borne witness to Him
with your lives,
who have washed your robes
in His blood,
whose hands are clean
in His sight
and so are clothed in white,
all you who have suffered
under the Cross
in the flesh in this world
and so now stand in His light
in the Spirit
before His throne in Heaven…
O all holy ones of the Lord
from every age,
from every time and place;
from every nation you come,
speaking in every tongue
of His undying love –
please, pray for us, His pilgrim children!
Tue, 31 October 2017
(Rv.7:2-4,9-14; Ps.24:1-6; 1Jn.3:1-3; Mt.5:1-12)
“Everyone who has this hope based on Him
makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
All our readings speak of this purity this holy day. In the first reading we hear of the saints who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Our psalm tells us it is “one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” who stands in God’s presence. The above quote is from our second reading, and Jesus tells us in our gospel, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Indeed, this purity of heart is the essential characteristic possessed by all the saints in heaven; and so we must strive to achieve it.
I note a striking parallel particularly between our first reading from Revelation and David’s psalm: the reading begins with the image of the four angels (at the four corners of the universe) being prevented from their call “to damage the land and the sea” until the seal of God is placed upon the foreheads of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand [symbolizing absolute fullness in number] marked from every tribe of Israel”; and our psalm begins by proclaiming, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” The reading continues with John’s “vision of a great multitude” who “stood before the throne and the Lamb” in their white robes; while, as it continues, our psalm tells us that only the pure of heart “can ascend the mountain of the Lord” or “stand in His holy place.” Then the reading from Revelation cries out, “Salvation comes from our God” and exclaims of the blessings upon the Lord and so His faithful; and David’s psalm concludes that it is he who seeks Him who “shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior.”
What does all this tell us but what John states quite simply in his letter, our second reading: “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” and that when “what we shall be… is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Yes, we are anointed by Him as His own creation and shall come to stand in His presence with all the angels and saints, proclaiming the blessing He is and the salvation He has provided us.
And in our gospel Jesus climbs the mountain and sits and teaches those who gather around Him. And how blessed are these eyes that see Him! How blessed are these ears that hear Him! And how blessed are we, too, insofar as we hear Him this holy day as He calls to our hearts to have faith in Him and in the kingdom of heaven, to set our hearts on the hope of which He speaks. And blessed are we most when we suffer insult and persecution for the sake of the Lord, for by this we are purified, and through this “our reward will be great in heaven.” For we must die in Him before we rise in Him with all the saints in glory.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be made pure as you are pure,
as your saints have been made pure
in the blood of the Lamb.
YHWH, let us seek you with all our hearts, that we may find you and share in your glory with all the saints in Heaven. Help us to wash our robes clean, that they may be white, that we may be pure and so able to stand in your light. Make us your children, O LORD, blessed to dwell in your sight forever.
If we must be purified by persecution in this world, what should that matter to us, LORD; why should that cause us concern? We should rejoice in this blessing even as we rejoice in the blessing of Heaven, for does not one lead to the other – do we not find Heaven even here, even now, in our suffering with your Son? But give us your love, LORD, and all shall be cause for celebration for us.
O how we long to worship you in your kingdom, LORD! How we long to bow before your throne with all your angels and saints. How we long to sing your praise with them. Let it be so, LORD. Let it be so even this day in our souls.
Mon, 30 October 2017
(Rm.8:18-25; Ps.126:1-6; Lk.13:18-21)
“Hoping for what we cannot see
means awaiting it with patient endurance.”
We cannot see the coming of the kingdom of heaven. It comes so gradually; it rises imperceptibly, “like yeast which a woman took to knead into three measures of flour.” It grows like the tiny mustard seed, which “became a large shrub and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” A most fruitful reign is the reign of God, and well worth the wait. As Paul says, “I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” But wait we must. In hope we take our refuge. And as we hope, indeed we suffer, for “we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.” With the rest of creation we groan “in agony” for the futility to which the physical universe has been subject. Yet hope have we, and it is this which gives us a sense of joy even as we wait so patiently.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Our psalm gives us a picture of the joy that awaits us in the redemption of the just in the kingdom of God as it describes the happiness of the exiles’ return from Babylon: “We were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.” The knowledge of the Lord’s hand at work in the lives of these Israelites can only increase our hope, can only stir our faith that we too shall sing, “The Lord has done great things for us,” that we too shall “come back rejoicing” after this time of trial which is our stay here on this earth. And the fact that we have the Spirit now as the first payment against the day of judgment and against the power of Satan in this dark world causes a sense of joy already in our bones, gives us even now a foretaste of the kingdom to come, and which comes to us indeed each day in every breath we breathe in His presence, and particularly in the food He leaves us to consume at the altar of His holy sacrifice.
Yes, we have His Word at work in us even now, brothers and sisters. Even as we speak (even as I write), the seed does grow into a tree, the yeast does cause the dough to rise. Though it take time and we hope most for its fulfillment, yet it is with us even now in this blessed growth we experience in the sight of our God, in the blood of our Lord. Our hope is not in vain, and the tears we shed now certainly nourish the growth of the kingdom within us and all around us. Even in these does our hope find fulfillment. Even in these tears do we taste surpassing joy.
O LORD, let us hope in you always;
your kingdom is rising in our midst.
YHWH, in patience let us await the coming of your kingdom, for it shall surely come and is even now here within us. When it shall be revealed to our eyes, our hope will be fulfilled and all our groanings answered. We shall indeed rejoice in your presence on that holy day.
Your Spirit is now planted in us as a seed of the kingdom, and though we go forth in tears doing your work in this dark world, we ever have the Spirit’s reassurance – the hope He engenders makes any sufferings seem as nothing. For your glory, O God, shall soon be revealed in its fullness; it shall soon come to full growth and we will take rest in its branches. O let us rise unto you!
And so, with patient endurance let us wait, O LORD, for the dawn upon the horizon, for on the new day all Creation shall sing your praise, all its sorrow forgotten.
Sun, 29 October 2017
(Rm.8:12-17; Ps.68:2,4,6-7,20-21; Lk.13:10-17)
“All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
It is the Spirit of God that led the poor stooped woman in our gospel today to the synagogue to see and hear the teaching of Jesus the Lord, and to find a healing for her infirmity. “This daughter of Abraham… in the bondage of Satan for eighteen years” was by the Lord “released from her shackles” and became a daughter also of the Most High God. She is a sign of us all. For all, whether sons of Abraham by the flesh or not, are called into the presence of God to find healing for the sin and sadness and oppression of the devil which trouble us. On our own we cannot stand straight in the sight of God, but by the touch of Jesus we find our dignity and become sons of God with Him.
God is “the father of orphans and the defender of widows”; He “gives a home to the forsaken.” And so we who were once under the “spirit of slavery” to sin may now find “a spirit of adoption through which we cry out, ‘Abba!’ (that is, ‘Father’).” Once having no father to watch over us, now “the Spirit Himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” A greater blessing one could not find than to be a son or daughter of the Most High God. For “God is a saving God for us.” Not only does He love us, but He shows that love even by dying for us, that we might live.
And it is so that “if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ.” And though it is by the death of Jesus that we are made heirs of the Father’s glory, we only come into full possession of the riches of our glorious Lord by our own death, for we must “suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him.” It is this death of ours, a death to self, to flesh, to sin and the world, that brings us the life of Him “who controls the passageways of death” and so is able to free us from all death.
Day by day the Lord “bears our burdens.” On all days, eternally, He is our Father and our Savior, waiting to heal us. Whenever we come to Him, we shall find Him ready to bless us. His Spirit He sends upon all, like a sun that never sets, calling us to His presence. We must but respond in humility and faith, and as we bow ourselves before Him, He will raise us up to the dignity He desires for all our lives. And we shall be His sons.
O LORD, your Son bears our burdens for us –
He releases us from bondage to the flesh
that we might live with Him in the Holy Spirit.
YHWH, orphans and widows we have been, far from you we were separated from the beginning, cast off like a forsaken wife. And we could not find our way back to you by the flesh, try as we might by following the line of our ancestors – this but brought us back repeatedly to their weakness, to their separation from your grace, from the light of your holy face.
But your Son you sent to show us the way to you. In Him we find the blood that must course through our veins; wed unto His flesh we are redeemed…. It is He who puts to death the evil deeds of the body and makes us sons once again of you – now His Spirit is upon us to call out your NAME, dear Father.
O let us be your children! wherever we are from; whether children of Abraham or of foreign lands, let us all be blessed this holy day to know the healing touch of your Son and so inherit your kingdom. O LORD, of your love let us not be afraid.
Sat, 28 October 2017
(Ex.22:20-26; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; 1Thes.1:5-10; Mt.22:34-40)
“If ever you wrong them, and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.”
In this simple statement by the Lord is revealed the essential nature of our God in His relation with His people. It demonstrates certainly what He says of Himself, “I am compassionate,” for what is He telling us but that He has an ardent care for the poorest among us and the injustice they suffer? But it also demonstrates the justice of God itself, for what does He mean when He says He will “hear their cry” but that He will punish the wicked for their heartless crimes? He states clearly, if any should “wrong any widow or orphan… [His] wrath will flare up, and [He] will kill [him] with the sword.”
Now in the Church today we find an arbitrary and utterly deceptive and false separation of members into “liberal” or “conservative” camps, as if the Lord and His Church could be limited by either assignation. The liberal hears “love God and neighbor” and ignorantly excuses himself from keeping the law; and the conservative grasps the law so tightly he squeezes the very life, the very love, out of it. The Lord is neither liberal nor conservative, but may be said to be both – and that to the extreme in both cases. First of all, He has come to liberate us from our sin, to free us from the sentence of death all justly deserved as much as the adulteress or the thief on the cross He forgave. No one could be more liberal in His free giving of Himself and His love. What compares to the shedding of His blood, and the free gifts we gain thereby? Yet it must not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus is absolutely conservative in His teachings and in His ways; at all costs He preserves the truth. For though He says that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” of love of God and neighbor, He does not thereby do away with the whole law. Indeed, He strengthens it. Does He not say not a single letter, nor even part of a letter, will pass away until all the law is fulfilled? Does He not tell us now that even to look at a woman lustfully is adultery and to be angry with another is as murder (see Mt.5:17-30)? And will He not come at the end of the age and judge all hearts, separating the evil from the good and casting them into eternal darkness and eternal flames? Though He “delivers us from the coming wrath” if we love Him, failing that, we cannot but be thrown into hell.
The Lord has two hands and either taken alone is ineffective, is, in fact, wicked, for either alone falls short of love and truth. The Lord is absolutely kind and absolutely just: these two meet and kiss in Him. And so they must in each of us. We must be “model[s] for all the believers.” Let it be said that from us “the word of the Lord has sounded forth,” that “in every place [our] faith in God has gone forth – that we have carried both His love and His truth to every heart we touch. Then we shall rightly call the Lord our “rock” and our “deliverer”; then we shall exclaim, “Praised be the Lord” and be “safe from [our] enemies.” Then He will hear our cry and save us, and all who truly love Him, for then we will be His disciples.
Written, read &chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to love you with all our heart,
and to love others as you love them.
YHWH, we must turn from idols to worship you alone, for you are the living and true God and deserve all the love of our heart, mind, and soul. And we must love others as you love all, ever sharing your unending compassion with our neighbor. For you hear the cry of the poor, and to that call we must attend or we are not loving you at all.
Whose compassion is beyond is beyond your own, LORD? Whose love can approach your perfection? For your love is founded on perfect justice, a justice we cannot fathom apart from your favor toward us. Your justice cannot but punish evil, for if not, how could it protect the good? How could the widow or orphan find your compassion if you did not destroy those who oppress them?
But even as you destroy the wicked, you do so out of love, out of mercy even toward those you destroy. For how shall they turn from their sin and be saved if you do not chastise them for their wrongs, for the lack of compassion which separates them from you? Your kindness be upon all this day, O LORD, that we might live in your love.
Fri, 27 October 2017
O zealous and loving apostles,
to the ends of the earth
you brought the Word of the Lord;
calling sinners to repentance,
seeking healing for all souls,
you carried the light of Christ
to all the world –
pray we shall match your zeal
for the Gospel;
pray we serve to impart
the mercy of God
unto life everlasting
for all children of the Lord.
May the power and glory
in the name of Jesus Christ
build up His Temple
in forgiveness and love
that soon all will be one
with Him and with you in Heaven.
Fri, 27 October 2017
(Eph.2:19-22; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.6:12-16)
“You are fellow citizens with the saints
and members of the household of God.”
And whom is this building founded upon but our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the cornerstone by which the apostles and prophets are set in place, and we are built upon this firm foundation, all integrated as one “holy temple in the Lord.” This Church is “the dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” Alleluia!
Oh that blessed night Jesus spent “in communion with God”! Praise God for the mountain on which He prayed! For that night, in that place, in these prayers was conceived the foundation stones of His holy temple: in the Spirit that night the essential structure of the Church was given birth in the names of these poor apostles, these simple human beings.
And at daybreak He called them forth by name. Upon them His favor rested. And though one “turned traitor” and had to be replaced, yet here are the pillars on which the Church rests. And to this day their descendants, their blessed successors remain with us, holding up the Church despite their frailties – yes, the power of the Spirit continues to go forth from their call. “Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.” Nothing can stem the passage of this Word to the ends of the earth, for it is founded in the silent communion with God.
Who can touch this silence? Who can tear down this oneness in the presence of God? No one can hold the wind in his hands and no one can restrain the power of the Spirit. It indeed goes forth. Yes, “the whole structure” continues to be “fitted together” in the Lord’s Name, and no persecution can stop its growth, can prevent its inevitable coming to fullness in the eternity of heaven. And so, let us thank God for His blessed apostles and prophets and martyrs today. Let us pray we shall be found worthy to be one with them in the House they build. And let us come to know the Lord even more, who is at the heart of us all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may we be built into your House
with all your holy apostles.
YHWH, let us become your dwelling place; let us make our home in your Spirit as you make your home in us. Let us be firmly founded in your apostles with Jesus as our cornerstone. Then through us, too, your Word will go out to the ends of the earth. Then we will be one with your apostles.
Into your household let us be built, O LORD, with all your saints in Heaven. Let Heaven and earth declare your glory – truly let us be your handiwork. As your Son chose the Twelve by your hand upon Him, so let us be chosen and formed in their image to serve you faithfully in this land, to make this land as your kingdom.
Let our words not be spoken in vain, LORD, our prayers not fall short of your glory; let us rather speak only in the Spirit that your light we might bring to this place. Though our cause seem hopeless, though darkness beset us, yet let us look to you and find refuge in the prayers of your apostles, of all the holy ones in your Temple.
Thu, 26 October 2017
(Rm.7:18-25; Ps.119:66,68,76-77,93,94; Lk.12:54-59)
“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is just?”
Do we not have the law of God at work in us now? Must we yet subject ourselves to the judge of this earth, who cannot but condemn us for our sin? If we cried out with our psalmist for the Lord to teach us His “commands,” His “statutes,” His “law,” and His “precepts,” His “promise” of “compassion” would be with us, His Spirit would come to us and instruct us on all matters. No longer “the prisoner of the law of sin in [our] members,” we would be freed “from this body under the power of death.” Not only would our “inner self agree with the law of God,” but our actions would reflect, by the grace of Him who is at work within us, that law now written on our hearts. The “wisdom and knowledge” the Lord thereby imparts would be sufficient for the resolution of any problem in our lives, for there is nothing beyond the scope of the Spirit.
Both Paul and Jesus Himself encourage us to find the Spirit of Christ at work in our hearts. We as a community of believers would have no need to turn to the works of the world to resolve our problems if we followed well the teaching of the Lord and His Church. Should not the Church be our government? Should not the teaching of God, which transcends all earthly wisdom, be sufficient for our discerning right and wrong in any situation? Or is sin still at work in our members? Are we yet subject to this law and the condemnation and death it brings? Has the devil yet a hold upon us; does he yet cast us into darkness? Are we therefore too blind to see right from wrong?
Brothers and sisters, we must cast from our souls all vestige of sin; it cannot hold power over us any longer. We must find the light of Christ in our eyes and so be made able to judge all things in His justice. With our psalmist we must proclaim to the Lord, “Your law is my delight.” If we yet take refuge in the law of sin, it will bring but judgment upon our lives. But if we turn to Him, true wisdom will be ours – and His compassion will save us.
All teaching the Lord puts into the hands of His apostles. Our Pope and bishops and priests continue, as His servants, to proclaim His truth and impart His grace. The Church is the home Jesus leaves us; upon it He places His Spirit. Let us follow the teachings of the Lord and find His power at work in our lives, and all things will be clear to our eyes. And so, condemnation we shall avoid as by the grace of God we judge all things rightly.
O LORD, Jesus has indeed set us free by His power –
let us turn to Him for wisdom.
YHWH, keep us from being imprisoned by sin; only you and your Son have the power to release us from such bondage. Help us to follow your precepts, help us to walk in His way, that we might find your kindness upon our souls and live in freedom this day.
Why is it we are so blind? Why so trapped in the flesh? Our eyes do not look upon the things of the Spirit except with great difficulty, except by the grace that comes to us through your only Son. O LORD, let our eyes be opened to see Him standing before us, and let us follow your Law by His power.
Here we find a war at work within us. Without you we have not the wisdom and knowledge to judge well the path to victory over sin. O LORD, let us not be delivered up to the jailer, for we are not able to pay the price of our transgressions. Let your compassion be upon us that we might live and do what is right.
Wed, 25 October 2017
(Rm.6:19-23; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.12:49-53)
“The Lord watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.”
The division is clear. The Lord Himself has stated, “I have come for division.” Far from establishing “peace on the earth,” His message makes clear the distinction between the evil and the good, the wicked and the just, drawn so well in our psalm today. He has “come to light a fire on the earth.” It shall purify the just for the kingdom of God even as it burns up all the wicked.
Paul also makes clear the division between the evil and the good, between that which is of God and that which is of sin. “Formerly you enslaved your bodies to impurity and licentiousness for their degradation… But now that you are freed from sin and have become slaves of God, your benefit is sanctification as you tend toward eternal life.” The distinction is certain: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Indeed, the just “is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade,” but the wicked “are like chaff which the wind drives away.” This division is what the Lord’s light and fire reveal; and this revelation is eternal.
It is painful, brothers and sisters. It is painful to undergo our own transformation to justice and light from the depths of depravity into which we have fallen, and will be painful to witness others destroyed by the hardness of their hearts. The Lord Himself expresses this pain when He says, “What anguish I feel till it is over!” He takes no pleasure in bringing the agony of division, which begins with His own agony in the garden and ends with His crucifixion. He suffers most to witness the sins of the masses so acutely. They wag their heads at Him even as He cries from the cross. What is to be done? Division must come. For the kingdom must come, the resurrection must take place, and sin cannot stand in its light – and so those who attach themselves to sin, to the works of the father of lies, will not stand in that day either. And even now the judgment comes, even now we must take sides – even now we choose death, or life.
O LORD, set us free from our sin –
burn away all evil.
YHWH, the sword of the Spirit your Son brings separates the wicked from the just – it is a fire purging all evil from the earth, destroying those who give themselves over to impurity and licentiousness, yet lighting your servants’ way to Heaven. He who walks in accord with that light, placing nothing before its demands to holiness, shall enter your presence even as the insolent are consumed.
What can we do, O LORD. to save souls from death? It shall come inevitably to all slaves of sin. We can but hope to make ourselves pure, seeking ever eternal life, and pray that men will turn to you. All is in your hands; let us be sanctified by your touch.
Who has not sinned? Who has not degraded the dignity you instilled in our souls? Yet you would make us fruitful in the Spirit, O God, if we but set our hearts on your Word.
Tue, 24 October 2017
(Rm.6:12-18; Ps.124:1-8; Lk.12:39-48)
“Offer yourselves to God
as men who have come back from the dead to life.”
If we have come back from the dead to life, should we then offer ourselves up to death again? As Paul questions, “Are we free to sin?” How absurd a thought! If we are sinners, let us give ourselves freely to sin, and find the condemnation which comes from this. But if we are men of justice, let us give ourselves to “obedience” of the teaching imparted to us, and find life firmly in our souls.
Jesus states quite clearly, “When much has been given a man, much will be required of him.” Brothers and sisters, much has been given us simply by our release from the sin which once enslaved us. Indeed, “we were rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare,” as David’s psalm proclaims. The “raging waters” that “would have overwhelmed us,” the “torrent [that] would have swept over us,” has been calmed… For this alone we have much to be thankful; simply by this grace much has been entrusted to us. And what follows only adds to this initial blessing; for each day our souls are required of us, each day He puts in our hands and calls us to the work set aside for our souls to complete. Each day the gift of grace is increased within us. So should we then begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk”? Should we then return to the slavery of sin which blinds our eyes to His eternal presence? Certainly not. Rather, we should “be on guard” at all times, vigilantly prepared for our master’s return, employing the gifts He imparts to us each passing day.
We are no longer dead, brothers and sisters. We have the grace of our God at work within us, lighting our eyes and filling our souls with His holy food. We must now be holy as He. It is not for us to return to the death of sin, to subject ourselves to its chains once again, to have our eyes darkened and our souls destroyed. The grace, the light within us, must be diligently preserved. We must come to Him, come to His stewards to whom the most has been entrusted, who hold in their power sacramental grace, and confess our sins in His presence, and come and eat of His Body and Blood. Let us avail ourselves of these gifts these successors of the apostles hold and thus find the strength to give our own “bodies to God as weapons for justice” and not for sin.
O LORD, let us give you all that we have,
all that we are;
then there will be nothing left to give.
YHWH, you have saved us from the raging waters, from the torrent that would have overwhelmed our souls – and should we cast ourselves back into the sea? Should we once again give ourselves to sin? No! We must give ourselves as slaves of your justice and serve you all our days, never turning from the grace at work within us, never again obeying the flesh and its lusts.
For soon your Son shall return for us, O LORD – and should He find us in a drunken state? Should He find us with violence in our hands and lust in our heart? If so, then we would prove ourselves unworthy of trust; and what would we be then but beaten for our lack of love?
You yourself are present now in our very spirits, LORD. Let us treasure this grace upon us and work out our salvation, never giving ourselves again to the teeth of the beast.
Mon, 23 October 2017
O zealous apostle
who traveled throughout the earth
driven by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
you labored strenuously,
rejoicing in poverty
and welcoming hardships
as you gave your very life
for the flock in your care –
pray the love of Christ
will urge us on to holy zeal
that we might approach your apostolic spirit,
desiring to inflame all men
with the fire of God’s love.
Concerned always and only
for the glory of God
and the salvation of souls,
may we fulfill our call;
as sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
with her same purity and commitment,
pray we give birth to Christ in souls
by the preaching of the Gospel
until all are formed in His image
in the heavenly kingdom.
Mon, 23 October 2017
(Rm.5:12,15,17-21; Ps.40:7-10,17; Lk.12:35-38)
“To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
“May those who love your salvation say ever, ‘The Lord be glorified.’” May we who love the Lord “exult and be glad” in Him. May we who take refuge in His grace sing aloud His praise. What greater gift could we have than Jesus Christ, whose “single righteous act brought all men acquittal and life. For truly we were dead in our sin,” truly the offense of Adam had infected our souls, truly through this “one man’s disobedience all became sinners” – but more truly “through one man’s obedience all shall become just,” for “His grace has far surpassed” the increase of sin. And so, what should we do but rejoice with David at the truth of Paul’s instruction.
And what should we do but be ready, truly ready, really waiting, patiently, for the return of our Lord. “Be like men awaiting their master’s return from a wedding.” Set your hearts on His coming again, “so that when He knocks, you will open without delay.” This is yet the greater blessing for us servants, that even in these dark days upon this earth, we stand ready for His return. Here is His grace at work within us, that our hearts are set on Him, that His presence, the coming of His kingdom, we know even now in anticipation of its arrival. No greater blessing could we hope for than to be “those servants whom the master finds wide-awake on His return.” By this we know we have conquered sin; by this we see that we have overcome the darkness which surrounds us – if whether “at midnight or before sunrise” we are found prepared, if even in the darkest times we hold His light, if our eyes are like “lamps… burning ready” and our “belts… fastened around [our] waists”… we have all that we need in this world.
Be ready, my brothers and sisters, for the joy is coming; it will not delay. That happiness of life in His presence we sense even now, we taste even this day in our mouths, will come soon to fulfillment in the reign of our God. And so, “those who receive the overflowing grace and gift of justice [will] live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ,” for whom we await, in whom we take our refuge, whose name we praise, His saving word etched upon our souls and bleeding in our hearts. In all we do we wait for His coming. He alone is our desire, and we shall not be disappointed.
O LORD, let us be always ready to serve you;
let your grace reign in us
and we shall come to do your will.
YHWH, grace has come to us by the sacrifice of your Son and cleansed us of the disobedience of Adam. We are thus set free from sin and placed on the path to eternal life. And so, what should we do now but wait for Jesus’ return, when that grace shall be fulfilled and we shall come to dwell with Him in Heaven?
Truly has Jesus been obedient to your command. Truly has He achieved the conquering of death and the end of its reign for every man. Truly has His death brought us acquittal and life. And truly will He return, O LORD, to reward all His faithful servants; truly will He Himself be their food.
O let us be ready for His coming! Let our lamps be burning ever and our hearts prepared always to open when He knocks. Let us offer ourselves with Him as His Body, dear LORD, that to us quickly salvation shall come even in the dark night of this world.
Sun, 22 October 2017
O tireless preacher of God’s Word,
how well, how completely,
you called all men,
and especially the priests of the Lord,
to a life of holiness,
to shine the light of Christ;
with patience and sound doctrine
and the example of a blameless life
you sought to save souls
throughout the world
and bring them into the fold
of Holy MotherChurch –
pray this day apostles go forth
in the brightness of holiness
as light to the world,
drawing all men to God.
In such wisdom let truth be known,
the truth of our Savior Jesus Christ,
that every heart might call Him Lord
and proclaim the Church as His own.
Pray not a day pass,
not an hour upon this plane,
wherein His Word is not heard.
Sun, 22 October 2017
(Rm.4:20-25; Lk.1:68-75; Lk.12:13-21)
“We should serve Him devoutly
and through all our days be holy in His sight.”
For “this very night your life shall be required of you.” Always and forever our faith is required of us, if we are to draw breath. Always and forever the Lord asks us what fruit we have produced. Always and forever we must be careful not to toil in vain, but to live according to His Word, believing in His promise. Else our lives will indeed be empty vessels.
Holiness befits His house. Adherence to His covenant is our call. Faith in the One who is “saving strength for us” is our necessity. We must indeed be as our father Abraham, who was “fully persuaded that God could do whatever He had promised,” whose “faith was credited to him as justice.” And if we have the same faith as Abraham, we will find the same justice, the same reward as he. “For our faith will be credited to us also if we believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Jesus “was handed over to death for our sins and raised up for our justification” and only faith in Him as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham will give us life.
Why do we turn to the things of this world and in them seek our fulfillment, and in them seek our rest, when they are so vain and when all the while Jesus calls to our souls to come to Him? Why is it we think that in the goods of this world we can find refuge, we can find strength? Why are we so blinded to believe that in them we can find our peace? “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.” Here is the fruitless mantra of this materialistic world. Here is the epitome of our blindness to His will. Here is the belly seeking to take the place of the spirit.
Can we not see that it is only the spirit that gives life, that the flesh is of no avail, that the riches of this earth serve more as a distraction to finding the life and the peace we seek in the depths of our souls than to bringing a fulfillment of this most human of desires? This desire cannot be satisfied except in Christ. We must not be as “the man who grows rich for himself instead of growing rich in the sight of God,” or when these passing riches rot away or are taken from us, we will be left terribly empty. Rather, we should “avoid greed in all its forms” and dedicate ourselves to service of the Lord. Only in Him is life and peace made known, and only by holiness do we come there. At all times the Lord is calling to our soul; let us answer Him in faith.
O LORD, Jesus has died and been raised
for our salvation –
may we believe in Him and grow rich in your sight.
YHWH, let us not grow rich to ourselves, setting our hearts on the wealth of this passing world, but rather grow rich in your sight, in your gifts and graces. Let us have faith, first of all; this blessing let us most treasure.
You have sent your Son as Savior for us – what more could we ask of you? Here is the fulfillment of all our desires. And if we put our faith in Him who has died for our sins and been raised for our justification, if we serve Him devoutly all our days, it will indeed be credited to us as righteousness and great reward will be ours in Heaven. O LORD, let us know your mercy upon our souls!
Only in you our life is found, dearest LORD and God. Our every breath is in your hands and when we come to the end of our days, what hope shall we have but that you breathe into us new life? And so, let us store up wealth for you alone, the wealth of a faithful heart.
Sat, 21 October 2017
(Is.45:1,4-6; Ps.96:1,3-5,7-10; 1Thes.1:1-5b; Mt.22:15-21)
“I am the Lord and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.”
Oh brothers and sisters, how clear our Scripture today makes it that “great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is He beyond all gods.” Indeed there is no other God. It is He who grasped the “right hand” of even the pagan king, Cyrus, “subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service.” The heart of this king and all kings and all lands are in His hands – He alone rules all nations! Do you see this? Do you understand that if He calls this foreigner by “name, giving [him] a title,” that there is none that is beyond His reach, that is not under His eye? By the Lord’s power this pagan has conquered the nations of the world. And why? Why does He arm him who knows Him not? “So that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none beside [Him].”
Our psalmist sings so well of the singular power of the Lord God: “All the gods of the nations are things of naught, but the Lord made the heavens.” Again I ask, do you see this? All nations recognize Him who made the heavens and the earth; even these “tremble before Him.” And so all are called to “tell His glory among the nations, among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.” For all must be encouraged to “give the Lord the glory due His name”; all must be offered the honor of knowing the greatness of our God.
One of these nations who have come to knowledge of the one God we hear of in our second reading. Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers and sisters loved by God” for their “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He gives thanks to God the Father that this Gentile people has come to faith in Him “with much conviction.” What has been proclaimed so long now bears fruit. For even the millennium before our psalmist had called the “families of nations” to “bring gifts, and enter His courts,” to “worship the Lord in holy attire.” None has ever been barred from adoring Him who is the One God and Father of all. But now the Gospel comes not “in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.” Now the word is anointed by Jesus’ blood. So now all nations indeed come before Him, giving “the Lord glory and praise.”
And when Jesus says, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” He does not remove anything from under God’s domain. For even the things of Caesar are in God’s hands (as is the coin between Jesus’ fingers today), as the Son makes clear in His words before Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above” (Jn.19:11). And, “the Lord is King” and King is His Son, and “He governs the peoples with equity.” Let all declare the glory of Him besides whom “there is no other.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The World Is a Work of Art (Made by the Hand of God)" (1st half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, all the earth belongs to you;
let us run in the way you command,
ever giving praise to the glory of your NAME.
YHWH, there is none beside you – you are the Most High God, the only God, the living God… and greatly should we praise you. We should worship you alone, for you alone are worthy of worship. O let us sing to you all the day long!
All the nations are in your hands, LORD and God; all kings run in the way you lead them. There is none above your power or beyond your reach – the world is at your command. As Jesus holds the coin of Caesar between His fingers, so all this earth is under your power, to be disposed with as you desire.
Send your Spirit into us, dearest LORD, O mighty God, that your power might come to us and conform us to your will, that we might labor each day for you and our poor work find your favor. Let us test you not, O LORD, but trust in your goodness toward us and be obedient to your Word.
Praise you for your glory, LORD! Let all souls give you due praise, that we might join with you who made us, that we might share in your surpassing glory.
Fri, 20 October 2017
(Rm.4:13,16-18; Ps.105:6-9,42-43; Lk.12:8-12)
“All depends on faith, everything is a grace.”
Faith is our father; it brings us to life for it makes us children of “the God who restores the dead to life and calls into being those things which had not been.” By faith we entrust ourselves into God’s hands and become as Abraham, who is “our father in the sight of God in whom he believed.” “Hoping against hope, Abraham believed and so became the father of many nations,” and insofar as we believe, we become his children before God. Indeed, it is through faith alone that we are born into His kingdom.
And having faith, we must acknowledge its presence in our lives by witnessing to the Son of God. If we are His disciples, as we must be, we will not hide His grace working in us but allow it to bear fruit in the profession of that faith before the world. And so, as we “come before synagogues, rulers, and authorities,” as we stand before the face of this generation, as we do anything in this world, we must “not worry about how to defend [ourselves] or what to say.” Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.” And so by this trusting in Him we prove ourselves children of faith.
This is the manner in which I produce this writing. Trusting in Him as entirely as my faith allows, I am not concerned beforehand what I shall speak, what I shall write upon this page. In the measure that I am a child of grace, I prove it by my allowing Him to speak through me at this moment and in His way. This is what we must strive to do with all our work, in all our lives. All our lives are founded upon this faith, and the Lord calls us in an ever greater way to express that faith, to live that faith, by consecrating all we think and do to His will and desire. It is for us to but come into His presence, to remember He is here with us, and so to find His grace at work in our lives.
We must be prepared and be preparing ourselves always to stand before Him forever. As we place ourselves in His presence now, it is so that we die to ourselves and begin to live by His grace. More and more we must trust in that faith which joins us to Him and makes us children of the promise which “holds true for all Abraham’s descendants… for all who have his faith.” Faith alone will bring us to life, for faith alone brings us into the presence of Him who is life. Enter His grace, brothers and sisters, and find it working in your life.
O LORD, if we believe in you,
you will be with us.
YHWH, you restore the dead to life and call into being those things which had not been. And so, should we not put our faith in you? And so, should we not proclaim your glory before men? With a God such as you, what need we fear? O let us live in faith and so be blessed!
All indeed depends on faith, O LORD; it is our very life breath. Everything is a grace from you who bring all things into being, and we must acknowledge that grace at work in our lives in order to join ourselves to you and that grace, and so find life itself. Separated from you we shall but die, but as children of Abraham, as children of faith who believe in you and in your Son, we shall live forever.
You are faithful and true to your Covenant with your chosen ones. Let us trust in you, LORD, and in your Spirit’s movement in our lives.
Thu, 19 October 2017
O true lover of the Crucified,
always you celebrated
the feast of the Cross
in the temple of your soul,
uniting yourself with the will of God
by taking upon yourself
the torments of the Lord
in a silent joy
and so finding the food
of sacrificial love
which sustains us in this world –
pray we shall be as Christ,
that we shall walk the path
He marks out for us,
and so in embracing the Cross
find true joy in the grief we suffer,
in the blessing of oneness
with our crucified Lord
and so with His Father in Heaven.
You who have been transformed
into your Beloved,
pray we shall join you
through the Passion of Christ.
Thu, 19 October 2017
(Rm.4:1-8; Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11; Lk.12:1-7)
“Happy is the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.”
All our sins shall be taken away by the Lord who watches over us and loves us, if we but believe.
We must lay bare our souls, brothers and sisters. We cannot hide from the eternal, piercing light of God. His hand is upon us at all times; His heart is open always for our entering in. It cannot be otherwise with the Lord of the universe, in whose sight “even the hairs of [our] head are counted.” And He who surrounds us desires but our love, desires but our faith, desires but that we come into His presence confessing our sins, and He will take them away. And we shall not be “cast into Gehenna” but drawn into His kingdom.
His kingdom is coming. Jesus sees it as He gazes out at the dense “crowd of thousands” gathering before Him. He sees the kingdom coming as men’s hearts turn to Him. And so He warns His disciples, who shall be the laborers to reap His harvest, “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” for if they should take pride in their mission, if they should find in their deeds “grounds for boasting” and so forget the favor of God by which all are justified, they shall indeed tempt the fires of Gehenna. “Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight,” for the Lord hears “what you have whispered in locked rooms.” So, keep your hearts set on Him and His goodness, and the truth of the Gospel will be proclaimed to the world, and you shall save your immortal soul.
Jesus knows, too, that the faith of His disciples and their declaration of His Word to the world will bring persecution. He sees in this scene, too, the cross set before Him, and He knows those who follow Him shall share in it as well. And so He reassures His children that the Father is with them, that He treasures them even as He treasures His Son, and so the powers of this age will hold no reign over them, and that they should “not be afraid of those who kill the body and can do no more.”
Yes, our soul is in His hands. He has power to forgive and to protect, if we but come to Him as children, if we but come to Him in faith.
O LORD, all is known to you –
let us confess our sins, and we will be saved.
YHWH, of what can we boast, we who cannot forgive our own sins? Truly, we are in your hands, and so should fear you.
But in your kindness you readily forgive our transgressions; if we turn to you, our sins are wiped away. And so, there is nothing we need fear, LORD, as long as our desire is for you.
Help us to confess our faults that you might remove all our guilt. Inspire us to call upon your NAME, O LORD, and we shall rejoice in your blessings. If we but have faith in you, your justice will be upon us.
There is nothing of consequence we can accomplish on our own, nothing but sin. All the good that we do comes from you, and so, what cause have we to be proud? Let us not be false in our love for you, LORD, but even in the deep recesses of our hearts proclaim your glory continually. O may all men come to faith and be saved!
Wed, 18 October 2017
O heroic witnesses
to the faith,
O loyal followers of Jesus
who took up the cup
of torture and death
with desire only to join your Lord,
with delight and joy
at the deadly blows…
your offering of body and blood
because it was one
with Christ’s own,
done with love for those
who killed you –
pray we shall so completely
embrace our call,
embrace the cross
provided us by the Lord,
that with your same thirst for truth
we shall lay down our lives for our brothers.
Direct download: Oct._19_Isaac_Jogues_John_de_Brebeuf_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EST
Wed, 18 October 2017
(Rm.3:21-30; Ps.130:1-7; Lk.11:47-54)
“This generation will have to account for the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world.”
And so shall it be with Christ’s own blood, the fulfillment of all the martyrs’ sacrifice; for these same scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus proclaims guilty of the prophets’ murders will indeed devise the murder of the Son of God. And they prove the truth of His words immediately by their manifestation of “fierce hostility to Him” and their thus giving birth to the plot to crucify Him.
Perhaps most appropriate for today, with regard to Paul’s epistle to the Romans, is the Lord’s admonishment of the lawyers: “You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not gained access, yet you have stopped those who wish to enter!” It is essentially the same message the Apostle teaches: “The justice of God has been manifested apart from the law… that justice of God which works through faith in Jesus Christ.” It is not through “observance of the law” that justification comes; the works of the law – circumcision, animal sacrifice, dietary rules – which address the body, are useless in this regard. God is Spirit and it is spiritual means He uses to redeem us – we must come in faith to Him. And those who would restrict faith by the imposition of these laws serve only to impede the working of the Spirit and His grace. Paul states the question succinctly: “Does God belong to the Jews alone? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?” If He is God of all nations, it is not meet to impose Jewish religious practice upon those apart from Jewish tradition. But these protectors, or rather “possessors” and defilers of the law – defiling it by their greed in seizing it, their pride in assuming it as their own and not God’s – cannot accept that “it is the same God,” that the Gentiles are equal in grace with the Jews… and so to them this teaching is blasphemy.
At the root of the problem is the fact that these leaders are not as the psalmist in our readings today, who sings: “My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.” Nor do they cry “in supplication” “out of the depths” of their iniquity for God’s forgiveness. If they had been so disposed, they would have seen who stood before them, they would have recognized His coming, and they would have fallen to their knees and found His grace.
Let us not be so hardhearted, for indeed the blood of Jesus is upon the hands of all who sin, just as His salvation is upon all who repent and believe in Him. Water alone will not wash us clean; we must recognize the lack of love we have, and find His Spirit working in us.
O LORD, your justice is shown in your mercy,
which you offer to every faithful soul.
YHWH, we have all sinned and fallen short of your glory, and cannot by our own strength find our way back to you. We cannot justify ourselves but need the grace that comes to us through the blood of your Son to justify our souls, to set us right with you.
But what of those who fail to see they need your forgiveness, who fail to recognize that they, too, are sinners, that they have the blood of Jesus upon their hands? O LORD, how can these be justified? How can they come to faith in you if they do not listen to the One you have sent to draw us back to your presence? They shall but continue in the way of sinning, mounting up the blood of the prophets for judgment day.
Your Son offers His life for our sakes; freely He sacrifices Himself upon the Cross that we might be saved. Help us to turn to Him, O LORD, to see what we have done, repent, and be redeemed. You are the God of us all, and to all souls Jesus’ blood does call.
Tue, 17 October 2017
O bringer of the Good News,
the light of the Gospel,
to many nations…
a thorough account you have given us
of all Jesus did and taught
and of the Holy Spirit’s work
among His disciples;
and so the Lord’s peace
may enter our homes,
and we embrace Him with Mary –
pray, dear physician,
that the Word of the Lord
may indeed come to our hearts
through the words you declare,
and we be healed by His grace
and illumined by His Spirit;
the glory of the kingdom pray we know.
Though He has been taken from our sight,
let us proclaim His presence
with great joy,
for He yet speaks to all our souls
in the words you have recorded,
in the fire of God that guided your hand.
Tue, 17 October 2017
(2Tm.4:9-17; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Lk.10:1-9)
“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,
so that through me the preaching task might be completed
and all the nations might hear the Gospel.”
As I read of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples as He “sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit,” and particularly His words to them to “eat what they set before you,” I am reminded of the command given Peter in his dream to “take and eat” of the unclean animals (Acts 10:13), this just before the first Gentile converts came to him seeking the Word of God. And, of course, similar terminology is present in Jesus’ sending his workers as if into a harvest: in this case, the Lord shall eat of the feast the disciples are sent forth to prepare.
We know our work is our food, that the labor the Lord imparts to us serves as our daily bread. And we know that the wheat that becomes His precious Body and the Word that is cultivated by His apostles, by His preachers and prophets, is the food that sustains us, that strengthens us for our daily tasks. All we do must be blessed by Him and be, as it were, a “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” and His kingdom, which is “a kingdom for all ages,” and His dominion, which “endures through all generations,” shall become known in our midst.
It is not easy to eat of this food, to drink of this cup. We see how alone Paul finds himself in our first reading. “Everyone abandoned me,” he declares in reference to his trial before the courts of this world. He pleads with Timothy to join him soon, for many have left his side: “I have no one with me but Luke.” Indeed, he has nothing but the Word of God. And most apparent in the Lord’s instruction to His disciples is the utter reliance on God we must find. Impoverished He sends them forth, dependent only on their preaching and healing to feed themselves. Yes, He sends them forth “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Not a happy prospect. But they have the Word of the Lord to make them strong and protect them from all evil of this world, and nothing could be more sure than this.
Into so many homes Luke’s gospel has come, bringing its peace to all who abide in the Lord. The proclamation by this great evangelist that “the reign of God is at hand” comes to our hearts even this day. Let us make room for this Word within ourselves and it shall feed us on our journey to the kingdom, and by its grace we shall complete our work on this earth. May the word of the Lord go ever forth.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, send forth your laborers
to declare the glory of your kingdom to all nations.
YHWH, send forth workers into your harvest, that all might hear your Word preached to their souls and find your peace in their hearts. Your reign be upon us this day.
O LORD, your kingdom endures through all generations; to your glory there is no end. O let us share in your holiness, let us share in your glory! and let us share your glory with all souls on the face of this earth. Though we must stand alone as has Paul, though we might be rejected by those to whom we come, yet let us be faithful to your Word and with great strength and confidence accomplish your will.
You are our strength, O LORD, and you are our peace; send us forth in your Name to preach and to heal. Let your kingdom come into our midst through your blessed disciples, who speak only of your glory, who find refuge in your might. Nothing do we need if we have you, LORD. Please stand at our side.
Mon, 16 October 2017
O wheat of Christ
ground by the teeth of wild beasts
and so made His bread,
His leaven unto Heaven…
by such heroic witness
you became one with the Lord,
joining Him in death
and so in eternal life –
pray we shall find the strength and faith
to follow in your sacrificial footsteps,
that it will also be our sole desire
to die in Jesus’ name,
to be remade in His glory.
Teach us the way,
for it seems so dimmed
by the material things
the devil presents to our vision;
pray for us, blessed victim,
that our thirst for life in Him
will overcome any obstacle
and so our journey to His kingdom
be made straight by His grace.
His flesh and blood be our own this day.
Mon, 16 October 2017
(Rm.1:16-25; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.11:37-41)
“They stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose,
and their senseless hearts were darkened.”
If these words do not refer to modern man most poignantly, then I imagine nothing can be said of anything. In ancient times, “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts, and snakes” and bowed down to statues as if they were gods. The images man worships today are also the creations of his own hands, sometimes as physical as the idols worshiped before the time of Christ – who does not long to see his own image on one of our television sets, and who is held in greater esteem than those movie stars whom we have never met but know only of their image on a screen? – but perhaps most particularly they are the vain ideas, which reveal their utter absurdity to any mind with a modicum of common sense, but which are propounded as sacred by the elite thinkers of our day. Their numbers seem endless, and one wonders if man will rationalize himself out of existence, as perhaps he already has philosophically in the declaration that God is dead, and so often done in reality through movements such as Communism and Nazism.
Indeed, how relevant are all Paul’s words today: “They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks”; “they claimed to be wise, but turned into fools instead”; “they engaged in the mutual degradation of their bodies.” But “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the irreligious and perverse spirit of men who… hinder the truth.” “These men who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” cannot but come to naught, for “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge” – the Gospel goes forth “to the ends of the world” and Truth overwhelms all lies. As Jesus overturned the Pharisees who “cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but within… are filled with rapaciousness,” so shall the mind of modern man be shown for all its absurdity in the clear light of day.
Time. There is but time to wait. Time for the Word to go forth and to pray for the conversion of the nations, of all peoples. And there is hope, hope that men shall turn from their absurdity and their perversity to embrace the light of the Gospel and the true teaching of love it brings. We pray the senseless will find faith and be led thereby to salvation.
O LORD, openly your Word speaks to all men’s hearts,
calling them to salvation.
YHWH, how shall the senseless mind of man be redeemed? If it turns from you, the Creator of all, to give praise to senseless creatures, will it not be ever as blind as they? Trapped in its own contrivances, it shall never see the light of day or hear the Word of Truth. And so, to these faithless souls the Gospel will be so much foolishness, as in foolishness they die.
Your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and is revealed in all Creation. But men who cannot see beyond the flesh quench the Spirit even as they engage in the destruction of their bodies. For the purity of your Creation they pervert, and so fail to stand in your holy light. O LORD, let us cleanse the inside of our cup that we might come to your glory!
Your eternal power and divinity help us to recognize, that filled with knowledge of you, O God, we may keep our hearts from being darkened by the false worship of this corrupted age.
Sun, 15 October 2017
O apostle of Christ’s Sacred Heart,
in mystic wonder you beheld Him
and let Him wash you clean
in the streams that flow
from His Heart divine –
pray indeed we shall unite ourselves
to Jesus and His love,
that we shall submerge
our needs and sorrows
in the abyss of His mercy
and seek perfection
in union with His Sacred Heart.
There let us find salvation,
reparation for all our sins;
there let us find heavenly joy,
the peace that surpasses understanding.
With you let us enter His presence,
let us be bathed in His light,
ever progressing toward His kingdom
till we are devoted entirely
to advancing His eternal glory.
Pray His will and His way be known in us
as we entrust ourselves to His love.
Sun, 15 October 2017
O mother of the unfortunate
and model of prayer and penance,
completely you gave yourself
to service of the Lord
chastising your flesh
by constant fast and abstinence
and generously offering
your goods and your time
to all those in need –
pray we shall at least desire
to imitate your thorough devotion,
that our lives will be spent
not on things of this world
but for the reign of Heaven.
All we can do for others
let us do,
and let all be done for God,
that He alone
will rule our hearts and lives
and we will worship
dying to ourselves all the while.
Sun, 15 October 2017
(Rm.1:1-7; Ps.98:1-4; Lk.11:29-32)
“You have a greater than Jonah here.”
Greater than any prophet is He. Wiser than Solomon is the Lord who is the source of all wisdom. For it is He of whom the prophets speak; it is His promised coming “the Holy Scriptures record.” The fulfillment of prophets and kings is in our midst. Our high priest is with us offering the sacrifice of Himself. Let us thirst for Him as the Ninevites did for Jonah’s preaching and seek Him as the queen of the South for Solomon’s wisdom. Let us listen to His servant and apostle Paul as he proclaims the Gospel of God and come to “obedient faith” with all the Gentiles “who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Salvation is upon us as it is all nations.
If Jonah’s preaching was great, the Lord’s is the greater. If he converted thousands, Jesus turns millions to the love of God. If Solomon was wise, our Lord is so much the wiser. For though this great king spoke well of all things of the earth by the grace of God, the Christ comes now with the wisdom of the richness of heaven. And so now we are all “called to holiness, grace and peace.” It is these gifts which are imparted to us “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And by these blessings we become His children, greater indeed than any prophet or king of old.
Yes, the fulfillment has come. “The Lord has made His salvation known.” “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.” His Word is brought forth even now, even this day to our hearts in the preaching of the Gospel that is Christ Jesus – “His resurrection from the dead” signals the redemption of all mankind. And so we celebrate. And so we “sing to the Lord a new song” as we, too, participate in His death and resurrection with the beloved apostle Paul, even as we come to the table set before us by His grace and holiness.
May that same “Spirit of holiness” which made Jesus “Son of God in power” now touch our souls and separate us from all that is unholy. May we respond in kind with the Ninevites to Jonah’s preaching, that they might not condemn us on the last day for our lack of faith. May the wisdom which comes to us now by the grace poured forth from His lips sink into our hearts and find a place in our lives. For no greater than He shall we find; let us not be blind to this sign.
O LORD, how blessed are we to hear the Gospel! –
let us repent and reform our lives.
YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son. He indeed is our salvation, the very life of those who follow Him, who listen to His preaching and reform their lives – who join themselves to Him and to His Church. May we not be condemned for our deafness to His call but set our hearts on the wisdom that comes to us through Him and through His apostles, that indeed we might be saved and rejoice in your presence on the day of judgment. With Him let us be raised from the dead.
May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to the ends of the earth that His Gospel might be the source of salvation for all souls. Let peoples come from the furthest corners of the world to hear that your promise has been fulfilled in your Son and the Spirit of holiness is now upon all who are obedient to His call. For this grace let us sing your praise, O LORD!
Sat, 14 October 2017
O teacher and Mother
who served to reform your sisters
and the lives of all Christians,
you led all souls
along the way of perfection,
which is Christ Himself –
pray his love may fill our hearts
that union with the Father
we indeed may find;
inspire us by your teaching
to seek Him
who makes His home in us…
and pray we shall have your courage,
your faith in the face of trials,
as we work to bring Him to others
and so suffer under His Cross.
Pray we shall know as you
the joy of such persecution,
which brings us only closer to God,
our spirits wed to His surpassing peace.
O pray, dear Mother,
we shall be entirely forgetful of ourselves
as we remember His presence in our lives.
Sat, 14 October 2017
(Is.25:6-10; Ps.23:1-6; Phil.4:12-14,19-20; Mt.22:1-14)
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines.”
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” It may be equated with “juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines,” with “calves and fatted cattle ready to be eaten.” A great banquet is the kingdom of heaven!
But, of course, though we speak here of food and eating, we know that it is not this we should thus seek on this earth, for these things are but of the earth and are only used to help us understand the heavenly fruits which are ours in the kingdom of God. Paul makes this clear in his attitude toward food and the provisions that are of this world: “In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need,” and it truly matters not to him whether he is rich or poor in material things; all that matters is that we “can do all things in Him who strengthens” us – all that matter are the “glorious riches in Jesus Christ.” Food and feasting are but metaphors for the things that in this world are unseen.
However, it is so that “the feast is ready” even here on this earth. It is true that the Lord “spread[s] the table before” us even in this world, even “in the sight of [our] foes.” He does not leave us poor humans alone without real food to strengthen us for our journey. But this food is spiritual fare; His Body and Blood are not juicy and rich to our taste, to our bellies, but to our souls. This food nourishes the Spirit He has planted within us, and helps it ever to grow. Though real as our own flesh and our own blood, yet it truly is of heaven, and lends the glory of God to this bone of His bone.
“God will fully supply whatever you need,” brothers and sisters; have no fear of being in want and no anxiety to build up abundance on this earth. He indeed is beside you always, giving your soul blessed “repose.” Make it your aim to “dwell in the house of the Lord.” Then “on that day” He reveals His kingdom, you will “rejoice and be glad,” saying, “Behold, our God, to whom we looked to save us!” Then you will enter His presence forever. Prepare your soul for the wedding feast of heaven.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Readiness Is All" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, prepare us well to come into your House,
to enter into eternal life with you,
our God and Savior.
YHWH, you spread the table before us, a feast of your kingdom. Rich food and choice wines are ours even this day in the Body and Blood of your Son. Let us offer you due praise and thanks for all your provisions for our journey to you.
And when we come finally into your kingdom, LORD, where death has been destroyed and we stand in the light of your presence, our hearts shall leap up in absolute joy… and we shall remain with you forever.
But let our wedding garment be prepared this day. O LORD, let us find the purity we need to stand in your presence and rejoice in your glory. For yet our hearts are not set wholly on you – forgive our continual rejection of your grace.
You are at our side, dear LORD; you bless and guide us as we walk this dark earth. Help us to cling to you in trust and faith, and our place beside you will be assured. Glory to you, O LORD!
Fri, 13 October 2017
O slave become Shepherd
of the universal Church,
firmly you defended her teaching
and recognized that all sins
may be forgiven
by the Lord through her;
then after serving faithfully
at the helm of Peter’s bark,
you died and were buried
with your martyr brothers,
whose grave you so treasured –
pray we, too, remain firm
through all the difficult trials
and temptations of this world,
that our death may be as blessed
as your own
and we come to rest safely
in God’s arms.
O that by such incorrupt faith
and unshaken courage
we too shall be raised from the dust,
from our humble origins,
to sit with our Lord in His kingdom.
Fri, 13 October 2017
(Jl.4:12-21; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12; Lk.11:27-28)
“Near is the day of the Lord in the valley of decision.”
And so, “blest are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” For though “sun and moon are darkened and the stars withhold their brightness,” though “mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” “light dawns for the just,” and for them “the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.” Yes, “the heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to His people.”
Are we His people? Are our hearts set upon Him? Are we blest as our Mother with keeping the word of God, of putting it into practice, of giving our yes to all His words, and His commands? Are these commands sweet as honey, are they the new wine we drink each day? From Him do we find our daily bread? Though we are in His Church and have the blessed breasts of this great Mother to nurse us, though we are here where the hills of the Lord “flow with [His] milk” – though we have at our hands the Body and Blood of the Lord and the true teaching, the Word of God, in our ears by His grace upon this House of God, do we truly appreciate these gifts He provides: do we eat and drink unto our salvation and keep His word as an ever flowing stream of life in our souls, at the heart of our beings? “The channels of Judah shall flow with water,” as now they do. Do we wash ourselves clean in that water that “issue[s] from the house of the Lord”? Are we prepared for the day of decision?
Let us rejoice in Him, brothers and sisters. “Be glad in the Lord, you just, and give thanks to His holy name.” With the psalmist let us raise our song and proclaim His justice to all the peoples. For what should we have but joy as we take refuge in His promise, as we come to the table of the New Covenant each day and share even now in the life He offers forth through His holy sacrifice. And let us pray to our Mother, Mary, that we shall be as she is, that we shall be so true to the Lord and serve as His handmaidens amongst the world. May she keep us close to the nourishing food the Church holds for all her children; and may our decision be as firm as hers as we give our unfailing yes to the Lord and so know His grace and blessing.
O LORD, if we but keep your Word,
we shall be blessed on the Day Jesus comes.
YHWH, you dwell on Zion, your holy mountain; may we dwell there with our Blessed Mother.
The mountains melt like wax before you, O LORD. The heavens and the earth quake, but you are a refuge to your people. Truly blessed are all who make their home in you, who do your will in this world. And so, as sun and moon are darkened, as this world you reduce to dust, may we be gathered into your arms, to the breast of our Mother.
Let the heavens proclaim your justice, LORD; let all holy souls give thanks to your NAME. For light dawns through the darkness for the upright of heart, and your children abide forever in your presence even as their enemies are destroyed.
Blessed let us be, O Holy LORD, to follow where your Son does lead, for He leads us only unto you. O may we hear and keep your Word! Blessed Mother, pray for us.
Thu, 12 October 2017
(Jl.1:13-15,2:1-2; Ps.9:2-3,6,8-9,16; Lk.11:15-26)
“It is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!”
And we must be prepared. We must rend our hearts and not our garments. We must “spend the night in sackcloth,” repentant of our sins. We must “proclaim a fast” and “cry to the Lord,” “for near is the day of the Lord.”
The prophet Joel sounds this alarm several hundred years before Christ, and in truth it proclaims the coming of Christ. For it is His coming that separates the wicked from the just; it is He who “judges the world with justice” – it is by Him the names of the wicked are “blotted out forever and ever” and those who “declare all [His] wondrous deeds” find their salvation.
The day is coming and is already here, for the Lord declares in our gospel, “The man who is not with me is against me, and the man who does not gather with me scatters.” He makes clear the works of Satan, which do not bring healing but only sickness and death, and the works of “the finger of God,” which overpower and “cast out devils.” Here the judgment is come; here it begins. In the end it shall be fulfilled and the great divide between evil and good will be set for all eternity, but here and in this time the Word of Truth goes forth, calling all souls to leave behind all sin.
But, brothers and sisters, our fasting must be complete; our weeping, our repentance, must be genuine. We must turn entirely from our sins and make place only for the Lord Jesus Christ to live in the houses of our souls. If the Lord lives in us, there is no place for darkness. If the Lord is within us, no devil can dwell there. But if in hypocrisy we pretend a conversion, we expand the space for the devil’s dwelling in our homes. For the two are indeed mutually exclusive: the Lord has nothing to do with the devil, and the devil nothing to do with the Lord. And so if we hope to stand on the day when darkness covers the earth, “spreading over the mountains, like a people numerous and mighty”; if we hope to remain when the Lord returns with His myriad of angels to judge the earth and the thoughts of men’s hearts… we must enter His grace this day – we must now call upon His Name. There is no other way, my brothers and sisters. You must be with Him or against Him. The choice between life and death is presented before you; for the day of darkness is nigh. Choose His eternal light!
O LORD, your Day is at hand –
let us make room in our hearts only for you.
YHWH, your throne is set up for judgment; near is your Day. Soon you will come to destroy all the wicked, that in your presence the just might shine. Your Son you have sent to redeem the world, to call every soul from its sin, but failing repentance what shall happen to us on the great and terrible Day of His return?
Forever you are enthroned on high, O LORD, and who can approach your glory? What hope have we of uniting with you, of looking upon your face, we who have been so sinful? How shall we come into your House and there find eternal rest if we do not wholeheartedly accept the cleansing Word of your Son?
If there is any pretense in us, we shall not stand with Him. And so, O LORD, let us fast and pray for all devils to be cast from us that we might forever sing your praise.
Wed, 11 October 2017
(Mal.3:13-20; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.11:5-13)
“For you who fear my name,
there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
Both our psalm and first reading make clear the distinction between the blessed and the condemned: “The Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes,” our psalmist declares. The wicked are “like chaff which the wind drives away,” while the just are “like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.” Malachi proclaims the same. Where the Lord is healing rays of warmth to the just, for the wicked He comes “blazing like an oven… leaving them neither root nor branch.” For one, His fire is holy and life-giving; for the other, it destroys.
And what is the sign that we “fear the Lord and trust in His name”? Malachi speaks of “going about in penitential dress” and states, “They who fear the Lord spoke with one another, and the Lord listened attentively.” Our psalmist tells us the just “delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on His law day and night.” We must be repentant of our sins and come humbly before Him. We must recognize, as Jesus tells us, that we indeed are ones “with all [our] sins.” This is first. But most importantly we must trust in Him and turn to Him, and pray in His Name. For “the heavenly Father give[s] the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” He is not remiss in making them His own. He wishes all to be blessed and come before Him whole. But we must not fail to seek His will, to seek His way, to beg it of our God. We cannot be remiss in asking and seeking and knocking, for this persistence proves our love of Him and of His way, and by it we will find Him.
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more important or more powerful than prayer. It is our way of coming to Him and becoming one with Him. It is at the heart of the distinction “between him who serves God, and him who does not serve Him.” For all that we do will come to naught if not done in His presence, and it is only by prayer we enter the presence of His holy light. First and always we must have faith, yes. First and always we must believe. But now and ever we must seek Him; forever we must ask His grace to come into our lives. And He will hear. He will “give [His] children good things.” So neglect not to remain in the presence of God and your reward will be assured, and you will know the blessed light of His face.
O LORD, give to us the Holy Spirit,
that in all things we might follow along the way
of your Son.
YHWH, we ask for your grace and mercy, your compassion upon our souls, that we might not be burned up with the wicked on your holy Day but stand blessed in the light of your face. Let us be healed of all sin and come to serve you with all our hearts, leaving behind all doubt of your glory and trusting in your goodness toward us. For you have made us and we are your own if we but have faith in you and come humbly before you with our petitions.
Yes, let us ask you for what we need, for all good things, those in accord with your will. If our hearts are set on serving you and others, what will you not give us? For then we will truly be your sons. But, O LORD, if we should turn our sights upon the advancement of our own name, seeking to prosper by doing evil, the wind shall indeed drive us away, and we shall perish in unholy fire.
Tue, 10 October 2017
(Jon.4:1-11; Ps.86:3-6,9-10,15; Lk.11:1-4)
“Your kingdom come.”
“You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.” How beautifully Jonah speaks of God’s blessed compassion on His people. And how poorly he is able to accept and live that grace. The Lord’s forgiveness extends now to the ends of the earth; let us not be loathe to offer it unto all.
In our first reading, Jonah is angry with God for His mercy in forgiving Ninevah, the pagan empire and enemy of Israel. But the Lord teaches Jonah that He watches over these, too, not only Israel, signaling His universal call to salvation (which shall be fulfilled in the teaching of Christ). By comparing the city of Ninevah to the plant “that grew up over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,” the Lord instructs us that not only does He care for all nations, but indeed that all nations have a holy call, a blessed purpose, in which God Himself takes pleasure and comfort. He has raised all the nations and each is called as a member of His kingdom.
This word should give us great understanding of the graciousness of our God, and great joy in knowing that we are called by Him: “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.” We can join with David in his prayer, knowing that God will “attend to the sound of [our] pleading” even as He does this blessed king of Israel; even as He listens to His chosen people, so He listens now to us, for the walls of division have been cast asunder and His love now extends to all.
But we must not be as Jonah shows himself to be today. We must “forgive all who do us wrong” or the Lord will not hear our prayer to “subject us not to the trial.” If we harbor anger, it will mean our death; and the Lord will send “a burning east wind” and a sun to beat down upon us, too, to draw us from the hardness of our hearts and the condemnation we breathe in our souls. Our vision must be that of God, who sees that sinners “cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,” or as Jesus says from the cross, “They know not what they do.” And so we, too, must forgive.
Let us join in prayer today, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s kingdom may come to earth. Let us rejoice that His reign extends to all. For it is the Lord’s desire to “forgive us our sins,” and it is His will that all find refuge in the shade of His presence. And so we partake of “our daily bread” here in His Word and in His Sacrament; and so we live the kingdom of God.
O LORD, let our prayer rise up to you, the Most High,
who are merciful and kind and forgiving toward all
and hear us when we cry out to you.
YHWH, you are abounding in kindness toward all, a gracious and merciful God desiring to show clemency to sinners, to lead them from the death upon their souls to a holy life in you. For this what can we do but praise you? What can we do but say: let thy will be done!
But how often we keep your mercy from others, dear God; how often we expect it for ourselves yet refuse to share it with those who seek it from us. This is not your will. In this your kingdom does not come. For where forgiveness is withheld, your love does not exist; and where your love does not exist, you are not present.
Let us not die in desolation, O LORD, beneath a scorching wind and a burning sun. Open our hearts to share your compassion and we shall find relief from all the trials we bring upon ourselves by our lack of pity, by our condemnation of others.
Mon, 9 October 2017
(Jon.3:1-10; Ps.130:1-4,7-8; Lk.10:38-42)
“He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do them;
He did not carry it out.”
Ninevah is spared. Because “they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth,” because they repented of their sin and called “loudly to God,” He did not punish them for their iniquity but forgave them and withheld “His blazing wrath.” And so this pagan city finds God’s mercy through the preaching of Jonah.
We are all called to repent. We are all called to turn to the Lord and seek His forgiveness and grace to overcome and be spared of punishment for our falling short of His glory. Our psalm declares, “Let Israel wait for the Lord, for with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption.” And so to find His mercy we must have faith and we must be patient. We must be as Mary in our gospel today, seated at His feet, listening to His words. We cannot remove ourselves from this place and hope to find salvation for our souls any more than the Ninevites could have taken a break from their sitting in sackcloth and ashes to have a snack and yet hoped to find the forgiveness they so desperately needed. Our fast must be total, our obedience complete. Do you think Mary had a mind to rise as she listened to her Lord? Do you think she was distracted by anything? Certainly not. And we in our prayer and in our work and in our lives must find the commitment she embodies if we hope to know the grace of God truly working in our hearts.
Indeed, the Lord “will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.” Indeed, He hears the voice of all who cry to Him “out of the depths” of their sin. He will come and wash us clean; He will come and make us new. If we choose “the better portion,” we “shall not be deprived of it” and its reward. But it must be our whole hearts that turn to the Lord, that are set on His word… that heed His preaching as it comes with its grace to our ears.
If we are short of prophets today, listen more closely, brothers and sisters. If it is difficult to find the Word preached with the power and blessing of Jonah, open your Bibles and turn to your hearts. Sit still before Him in silence and He will fill your soul with His light. And fail not to come into His presence where the people gather for Mass. The Word shall indeed fill you; His Bread shall indeed nourish you. And your soul shall be saved according to your commitment to Christ.
O LORD, let our hearts be set on you
and your presence;
may our ears be open to hear your voice.
YHWH, let us turn to you with all our heart that we might find forgiveness of our sins and peace in your presence. If in sackcloth and ashes we cry out to you in repentance, you will look kindly upon our souls; if in silence we sit at your feet, what shall we not be taught? All is ours if we make ourselves your own.
O LORD, all nations you call to yourself. There is no one for whom you do not care, whom you would not save in your mercy. And so you send your prophets forth even to the ends of the earth, and so your Word goes out to all places and times – and so all who listen to your voice find redemption for their souls and enter your holy Temple.
Your ears listen for our voice calling out to you; your heart longs for us to set aside all things and worship you. O LORD, let your gracious will be done in all our lives that none shall perish in separation from you.
Sun, 8 October 2017
O caretaker of souls
who sought so diligently
and with wisdom and love
to reform the Church
and all her members,
beginning with those in higher office,
and so were persecuted
by men who would not be healed
of their disease –
pray that all will be taught
the true doctrine of the faith,
from early childhood
to adult vocation;
may all know to what they are called
as Christians in this world.
And may that Word go forth
to the ends of the earth,
that the faith will be propagated
in all lands and in all hearts
and the Lord’s holy discipline
serve as treasured guide
for all who would come
to the kingdom of Heaven.
Sun, 8 October 2017
O shepherd of a faithful people,
you shed your blood
with your brothers
as a holy offering unto the Lord
after drawing many souls
into His fold;
beheaded for your success
as Christ’s evangelist,
still you lead faithful souls
to God –
pray we shall be so ready
to lay down our own lives
for the propagation
of the Word of God,
and that on our journey
we shall be protected
from all the snares of the devil,
that nothing shall prevent
our standing at Jesus’ side
both in this world
and the next.
Sun, 8 October 2017
(Jon.1:1-2:1,11; Jon.2:2-5,7-8; Lk.10:25-37)
“A Samaritan who was journeying along came on him
and was moved to pity at the sight.”
First let me note that the book of Jonah is not a parable, not an imaginary story, as popular scholarship would have us believe. How do I know this? I have faith, yes, which those who would explain away any miracle of God so sorely lack; but I know it, too, by Scripture itself. For elsewhere the Lord compares Himself to Jonah, and states explicitly that the people of Ninevah – who had the faith to repent at the preaching of Jonah – will rise on the day of judgment and condemn those of Jesus’ time, and us, for our failure to repent at the words of the Son of God. It is not possible that imaginary people could condemn others’ souls (the very idea is absurd, of course, but such are our minds in this “enlightened” age), and this comparison would suggest that Jesus Himself is but imaginary, which seems not against the belief of the vain prophets of our day.
In today’s gospel we have a parable: The Good Samaritan. It begins as the universal story all parables are – “There was a man…” (“a man,” any man, every man), and its express purpose is to impart a lesson. And the lesson today is God’s universal love. The dreaded “Samaritan” represents nothing but faithlessness and sin to the Jewish mind, but Jesus demonstrates that it is sinners He calls – and that those thought of as sinners indeed often show the greatest faith. We see this not only in our gospel, but also in our reading from Jonah, for notice how quickly the pagan mariners turned to their gods, who are no-gods, to seek deliverance from the “breakers” and “billows” which pass over them. Indeed, it is they who arouse Jonah, who has fallen asleep in the despair of his separation from the will of God, to pray to his Lord. And what horror overwhelms them when they hear how he has disobeyed the Lord’s command – “How could you do such a thing!” Who has the faith here? Who convicts whom of sin?
Though Jonah is clearly different from Jesus in this his sin, he is like Him in a crucial way – he sacrifices his life for those in danger of death. Notice his words: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you.” And so it does when he is finally cast forth (after remarkable, faith-filled prayer by these pagans); and so also these men “offered sacrifice and made vows” to the Lord, coming it seems to faith in God following Jonah’s laying down of his life. And, of course, as Jesus will spend three days in the belly of the earth, so Jonah spends three days in the belly of the whale; and as the Lord will rise on the third day, so Jonah is “spewed upon the shore.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord heard Jonah’s prayer from “the midst of the netherworld,” “from the belly of the fish.” Do not doubt and test the Lord as the lawyer who seeks “to justify himself” in his pride. In your moments of darkness, come to the Lord as the humble servant He calls you to be, and He shall assuage your doubts, He shall be moved with pity looking upon you, and teach you of the love and compassion only He knows.
O LORD, how shall we be saved from the pit
into which we cast ourselves
if we do not have compassion for the plight of others?
YHWH, we have fallen into the pit, beaten and left for dead by robbers, by the demons, for our sin. The breakers and billows pass over us and we are doomed to drown in the dark of the deep.
But you are merciful, LORD, truly compassionate to all in need. And so you look upon our troubled state and send us help when we cry out to you – our prayer, even from the midst of the nether world, reaches your holy Temple, and you have pity on our poor souls. For this let us ever praise you!
And to what do you call us but to be compassionate as you, to love you and to show that love by loving our neighbor as ourselves. For we are all one in you and so if we are in you we will see that helping others we indeed help ourselves, and please you greatly by our love, by such awareness of our oneness in you. May all our being worship you, O LORD! Let us live your will of love and compassion.
Sat, 7 October 2017
(Is.5:1-7; Ps.80:9,12-16,19-20,Is.5:7; Phil.4:6-9; Mt.21:33-43)
“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
“Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.” Of course, this “vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are His cherished plant; He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!” And so the Lord promises to “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled! Yes, [He] will make it a ruin.”
Jesus’ parable in our gospel today echoes precisely Isaiah’s “song”: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.” But now the prophecy is brought to fulfillment; now the rotten grapes come to maturity, and so the ruin of the vineyard will be complete. For in their rejection of the Son the hope of Israel is lost: none further has the Father to send them; herein they utterly spurn His love. How shall they be turned to producing good fruit if He who is the source of all goodness they destroy in their souls? There is nothing left but to remove the vineyard from them.
“A vine from Egypt [the Lord] transplanted; [He] drove away the nations and planted it.” But for its unfaithfulness He has “broken down its walls.” Indeed, in a scant few years after the crucifixion of the Messiah the temple in Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed – the worship upon which the faith of the Lord’s people is founded will be no more. And it shall not return. But even as this temple built by hands the Lord lays waste, He yet answers our psalmist’s plea to Him: “Look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted.” For as He destroys, so He builds; as Christ is killed, so His Church is planted. And it shall grow unto eternity.
The fulfillment of all prophecy, the New Jerusalem, is in our midst now. In the Catholic faith the worship at Jerusalem comes to maturity. And though many would see it removed – and perhaps by man’s reason one might say for its sins it should be – though many come in their presumption to build anew… there is no call from the Lord for any of this, and these man-made structures will also fall to ruin. What God builds now He builds on a foundation which lasts forever, against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail. Only on the day of judgment, only when the kingdom has come, will this House be needed no more – for then all that will be will be His Church.
So, “brothers and sisters, have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, make your requests known to God.” Truly does the Lord’s “face shine upon us” in this holy Temple, and it shall not be moved. See that you not remove yourselves from it but “keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen” in its confines. Listen to His Word spoken to your hearts, and receive well the broken Bread of this holy sacrifice and the Blood of this heavenly vine. And bear fruit in His name.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Fatherless Children" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, restore this vine
that we might bear your fruit in peace.
YHWH, the vineyard you planted in Israel had to be broken down, the temple in Jerusalem destroyed, but the Church you have built in the blood of Christ shall endure till the end of time. Let us make our home in its confines.
The peace of the New Jerusalem is ours, O LORD, by the grace wrought by your Son; the New Covenant let us embrace that we might flourish as your vine. O let us bear fruit in your sight!
Break not down the walls of this House, LORD; let us not be disobedient to your call. Though we have killed Jesus on a cross, let us now turn back to you. For you will have mercy on your people and restore us in your love. Give us new life and we will call upon your Name, never forgetting your presence in our midst.
O LORD, may your House be built this day even unto the heavens; in your presence let us make our home, serving you faithfully at all times. The Body and Blood of your only Son as our food and drink, let us be grafted to your vine.
Fri, 6 October 2017
O Mother of prayer
and of this prayer
in which we meditate on the life
of our Lord and Savior
through your blessed intercession,
it is through you
we gain victory in Christ;
His life, death, and resurrection
become fruitful in you,
and united with you,
and so with Jesus,
we repel our enemies.
O dear Lady,
our saving Lord comes not to us
except through you:
He is born in you,
He dies with you at His side,
and He raises you to life
but to draw us all unto Himself,
that we might walk in light with Him
even in this world –
pray, yes, pray for us!
you through whom all Christians come.
Fri, 6 October 2017
(Bar.4:5-12,27-29; Ps.69:33-37; Lk.10:17-24)
“He who has brought disaster upon you will,
in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”
That enduring joy which comes to us after this time of trial is our theme today. Not only does Baruch come to it in his exhortation for the people to “fear not” anymore but to turn to God and be glad, but it is David’s song as well: “You who seek God, may your hearts be merry!” he exclaims as he assures us that “God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah,” which were once “left desolate” “for the sins of [her] children.” Yes, as Baruch encourages Israel, “Fear not, my children; call out to God!” so David confirms that “the Lord hears the poor.” And from all their sins He shall save them.
And does not our gospel tell us the same. In it we are told that “Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit” and gave the Father “grateful praise,” saying, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.” To His children, to the humble, to the poor, He reveals Himself. And what can those who are blessed so, to see “what many prophets and kings wished to see” – what can we do but rejoice in His Spirit? For He has given us “power to tread on snakes and scorpions and all the forces of the enemy, and nothing shall ever injure” us. For sin no longer holds sway in our lives as it once did when we turned in the hardness of our hearts from the face of God and so were “handed over” to our foes. Though once we “forsook the Eternal God,” we now return to Him; and so the “mourning and lament” suffered because of our sin now become joy in His eternal presence.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice so much in the fact that the devils are subject to you as that your names are inscribed in heaven.” We should rejoice not so much in the gift as in the giver, not so much in the power we have as in Him who gives the power. For great and wonderful as the overcoming of evil in this life certainly is, its entire purpose is to bring us into communion with the Lord in the New Jerusalem, in His heavenly kingdom. “Those who love His name shall inhabit it,” so let us join with Jesus in the Holy Spirit to praise the Name of the Father and the great blessing of life He imparts to us. And we shall find redemption from the punishment of our sins and rejoice as children in His presence forever. Amen.
O LORD, the Son has made you known,
and we may see Him, and we may hear Him –
let us turn from our sins!
YHWH, great mourning has come upon us because of our sins, but great hope we have in you who desire our salvation. Great joy is ours as we turn now from our sins and seek you ten times the more. You are ours as we come before you on our knees, and the joy you bring us will last forever.
O God, you are eternal, dwelling in unending light. And as that light comes to our eyes, what can we do but rejoice with your Son that your poor ones you bring to glory? In Heaven our names are written by your loving hand, in the blood of your merciful Son; all He has He has given to us, revealing even your presence, dear Father.
What power has Satan over your faithful ones, those whom you bless with your power and love? The Spirit has set us free from all bonds that we might walk with you, eternal LORD.
Thu, 5 October 2017
O crown of contemplation
whom none excels
in knowing the presence of the Lord
alone in a cell,
apart from the world –
a simple chapel pray we find
in the chambers of our heart
that we might chant His praises
all the time
in the quiet,
in His sight.
Let us ever work
His breathing in our souls,
that one with Him
and with our brothers
ever we might remain.
Obedience is all we need
and He will lead us there;
then no questions will persist
as we dwell in perfect peace.
Pray such grace upon all souls.
Thu, 5 October 2017
(Bar.1:15-22; Ps.79:1-5,8-9; Lk.10:13-16)
“We have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,
and only too ready to disregard His voice.”
Woe is upon us for our sin. We “have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed Him,” and so “the evils and the curse which the Lord enjoined upon Moses… cling to us even today.” And if we do not recognize our sin, as Baruch does so beautifully in our first reading today, if we do not admit our failure to “heed the voice of the Lord,” realizing and repenting of our going “after the devices of our own heart” rather than following in His holy way – if we do not accuse ourselves of “evil in the sight of the Lord,” He will accuse us on the day of the judgment, as He does with Chorazin and Bethsaida in our gospel… and the woe upon us then shall be interminable, as we are “hurled down to the realm of death” with the cursed Capernaum. But if we turn to Him, if we cry out to Him as does Baruch, as does our psalm this day, declaring the evil and destruction that has come upon us for our sin, that same “reproach of our neighbors” which has “laid Jerusalem in ruins” will be removed from us – the Lord will “remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” and we shall preserve our souls on the day of judgment.
“They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem”: great is the suffering which has come upon the Lord’s wayward children. It seems at times the Lord will be angry forever for the sins committed by the perverse heart of man. But we know that His “compassion [will] quickly come to us,” that His anger lasts but a moment, it is only for a time, and that He shall indeed “deliver us and pardon our sins.” This has He done in Jesus, in His sacrifice, and word of it now is preached to the nations. If we accept it, we save our souls from destruction, from eternal damnation; if we reject the word of the Gospel, we reject Jesus, and we reject Him who holds the world in His creating hand – and so what hope of life have we, who have cast Life aside so wantonly… and so “burn like fire” forever only can the wrath of the Lord, our God.
Let us reject sin while there is time. As His Word is still in our hearing, let us come to it and bare our souls before its truth “in sackcloth and ashes.” The condition of this world of sin does not change, and it mounts up its punishment for judgment day. Let us come out of the world, humbly professing our sin, and listen now to the voice that leads us to forgiveness and grace, to exaltation “to the skies,” standing at His side forever.
O LORD, let us not reject you!
but come rather on our knees seeking forgiveness.
YHWH, the gravity of our sin overwhelms us: our blood is poured out like water, our corpses given as food to the beasts of the earth. How shall we make amends for our wicked deeds if even the presence of your Son and His sacrifice do not move us to repentance? O save us from being hurled down to the realm of death! Let us not reject the Word come from Jesus.
O LORD, let us heed your voice. Though we have been disobedient, though the evils that fall upon us are but just punishment for turning our hearts from you, help us, please, to avoid the grave, to be preserved from the fire that is coming upon the earth. Remember not our iniquities; let them be of the past. Let your compassion come quickly to us to raise us from our lowly state. In sackcloth and ashes let us bow humbly before you that we might find pardon for your NAME’s sake.
Wed, 4 October 2017
O apostle of mercy,
the mercy of Christ
poured freely upon all souls
for the salvation of the whole world,
especially the worst of sinners…
you suffered with our divine Lord
that souls might indeed be saved;
with His Passion you were intimate,
blessed with fellowship with Jesus
and His Mother
and vision of their presence –
pray a measure of your penitential devotion,
a drop of our Savior’s holy blood,
might fall upon our hearts
and make us fruitful as you in His cause;
pray we shall be blessed
with deeper awareness of our wretchedness,
that we might know
the infinite majesty of the Lord
and immerse ourselves and all souls
in His measureless mercy.
Let all sins be atoned for in Him!
Wed, 4 October 2017
(Neh.8:1-12; Ps.19:8-11; Lk.10:1-12)
“They understood the words that had been expounded to them.”
What a blessed day we hear of in our first reading. And what a blessed reception the Word of God finds in the hearing of the people! For “the whole people gathered as one man” and “listened attentively to the book of the law” of Moses as “Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion” and “read out of the book from daybreak until midday.” And we know that all the people indeed understood the wonder of what was read to their humble, obedient hearts, “for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” They wept for the truth of these words, and for the fact that they as a people were so long without their instruction. The truth of God’s Word brought repentance to their hearts, as it should to all.
But ultimately the Word of God caused them, as all, “to celebrate with great joy.” Certainly this is its ultimate goal. For as David sings so well of in our psalm today: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.” And the rightness of this wisdom brings “rejoicing [to] the heart.” For as rich as the food and sweet the drinks the people were encouraged to consume that day as celebration of the glory of God, none could compare with the commands of the Lord, which “are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.” This bread of life is that which sustains us.
And it is this bread of peace and life the Lord sends the disciples to bring to the cities before Him in our gospel today. He tells them that as they declare peace to any house or town along the way, “If there is a peaceable man there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.” And woe to those who do not welcome the reign of God these disciples bring in Jesus’ name. Indeed, we hear that “the fate of Sodom will be less severe than that of such a town.” If the Israelites were so open and welcoming to the Word of God read in their midst from the book of the law by Ezra the scribe, how much more welcoming should these people who have the emissaries of Christ Himself, sent to “cure the sick,” be to receive the reign of God at hand. And how much more should we be open to receive His Word, who now know of the Lord’s resurrection to glory and have the Holy Spirit in our midst by the authority given to His Church on earth. Brothers and sisters, we must hear and understand as well as they of Nehemiah’s time, else what hope have we for celebration in Christ’s glory? May His sweet words be in our ears and in our mouths, and so may we bleed with Him unto glory.
O LORD, your Word brings the sweetest tears
of blessed repentance.
YHWH, how sweet your Word should be to our ears, to our hearts – O how we should welcome it! Though it bring knowledge of our sin, that knowledge is sweet, for that knowledge brings us to repentance and refreshes our souls. Though we weep, though we cry for our transgressions, how sweet are our tears! For it is these tears, this turning from our sins, that brings us into your presence, that brings your reign into our midst.
O how we should welcome your Word, LORD! Once it came only through words in a book; once it had to be read aloud and interpreted for our simple hearts to understand. But now it comes in flesh and blood in your only Son and in the apostles He sends out to proclaim your glory among men.
Indeed, your reign, O God, is at hand. Your grace has come to us as a Man. And so let us rejoice this day, for it is thus made most holy.
Tue, 3 October 2017
O image of Christ,
simple, humble, and pure,
indeed you bore the marks of Jesus
in your own body
and in your own soul;
wed to lady poverty,
you embraced loving chastity
and boasted of nothing
but the Lord alone –
pray, dear brother,
for all children of God,
for all your wayward brothers
distracted by the wealth of this world,
that we may be so blessed by the Spirit
to serve the Lord and our neighbor
as completely as you have done.
May our lives, too, be prayers
rising as a fragrant offering
unto the Lord our God
as we reflect His image in this world.
Pray our hearts be set upon Jesus
that we might follow
in His blood-soaked footsteps in joy.
Tue, 3 October 2017
(Neh.2:1-8; Ps.137:1-6; Lk.9:57-62)
“How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”
Our home is in heaven. “The foxes have lairs, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” the Lord tells him who would follow His way in our gospel today. Our home is in heaven, and only there do we find joy. And only finding our place there should possess our hearts.
We have a sign of the devotion we must have for the Lord and His Kingdom in our psalm and first reading. Even as the psalmist hangs up his harp and weeps “by the streams of Babylon” for his exile from Jerusalem – “May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy” – so, too, Nehemiah is most “sad at heart” for his separation from and the ruination of “the city where [his] ancestors are buried.” And as the king takes pity on his servant and sends Nehemiah to help rebuild Jerusalem, so, too, does the Lord look upon those who seek in ardent desire their true home with Him in heaven. He knows we are sad at our separation from the kingdom of God; He knows only there we shall find peace in our hearts, and so He calls us along the way He walks.
But also He warns that all else must be set aside if we are to discover that which our hearts desire. “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.” Does love for the New Jerusalem truly possess us as did love of the old for these exiles in Babylon? Do we, too, recognize our own exile, our own homelessness, and seek with all our souls only the song that is sung in the kingdom of God? Are we prepared to leave this land of exile, this foreign land in which we find ourselves, to come to Him to build with the wood He provides the new walls which will be our shelter and our place of worship even in this life? Or do we look back to this world of sin and find ourselves drawn into its sad state?
The Lord awaits the turning of all toward Him and His kingdom. He desires greatly our returning to His side. The thought of our heart to give up all for Him He confirms with His blessing and love. But we must be clear that this commitment is total, that nowhere else we shall find our joy but at His side in heaven.
O LORD, let us not be separated from you
but give all our lives to following in your way,
even to the Cross.
YHWH, let us set our hearts on you alone and our coming into your kingdom. Why should anything else possess our souls? Of what else should we sing? Should we not proclaim your glory with full voice and so find your reign upon us? We cannot make our home in any place but Heaven; help us to overcome the sadness of dwelling in this dark place, in this land of exile. Bring us quickly into your presence.
Your House let us rebuild, O LORD, your House and your City. Let your favoring hand be upon us this day as we seek to accomplish your will. All else let us be ready to leave behind in order to do your work upon this plane. For only in you will we find our joy – hear us as we pray to you.
Let us not be dead, O LORD, dead to your presence in our midst. Let our hearts burn with love for you! Let us remember your NAME forever.
Mon, 2 October 2017
(Zec.8:20-23; Ps.87:1-7,Zec.8:23; Lk.9:51-56)
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
God is with us, brothers and sisters. And though all upon earth turn their faces from Him now, though in ignorance they reject Him and our preaching of His Word – there shall come a day when all nations find their home in Him. In that day the Lord shall reign.
As Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem and His coming death at the hands of His own people, He passes through many towns and sends harbingers of His drawing nigh. In today’s gospel we read of the Samaritans’, the dreaded “half-breed” of Israelites, rejection of His presence among them: “The Samaritans would not welcome Him because He was on the way to Jerusalem.” And for this should they not be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah? request the sons of thunder, James and John. But it is “only to reprimand them” that Jesus makes answer to such an idea. Indeed, they reject the Son of God, but in this moment they certainly know not what they do. Should they be any different than the Jews who will offer Him up for crucifixion or the apostles who will abandon Him?
From the gospel we must take solace, brothers and sisters, when our words fall on deaf ears, when the Word of God seems not to take root in souls. We are only emissaries of His Word, and that Word will bear fruit only in His time. But, of course, at the same moment we mourn rejection, we must be buoyed by the vision delivered by Zechariah in our first reading and confirmed so wonderfully in our psalm, for in it is the Truth of the resurrection that follows the Lord’s crucifixion. We are told that “the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another and say, “Come! Let us go to implore the favor of the Lord,” and that “in those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Not only will they hear the Word of God, they will beg its presence in their lives! For the Lord shall draw them inextricably to His mountain. “And of Zion they shall say: ‘One and all were born in her; and He who has established her is the Most High God.’”
Brothers and sisters, we dwell now in Zion; Holy Church is the New Jerusalem. And hearts shall turn to her with longing – she shall find her treasured place here at the end of the age. We need not fear or be anxious, for the day of the Lord shall come, when “all shall sing, in their festive dance: ‘My home is within you.’” Continue on to every town, bearing His love.
O LORD, all who desire the salvation wrought by Jesus
will be welcomed into your House.
YHWH, in Jerusalem let us make our home, in your holy Church. To this House all nations shall come, for it is here you dwell on earth. Heaven is indeed in our midst: you are with us. And it is for you the heart of every man longs – O let us be born into your kingdom!
Toward Jerusalem the face of your Son is set; it is always to this place He comes. Here He dies and here He is raised, and here He dwells unto eternity…. In His blood let us be reborn. In Him your glory is known among us, O LORD, for you have established Him forever as our Home.
Let us all come to Jesus in the New Jerusalem to implore your favor, O Most High God. And let us bring all souls to these gates, that in glory they might enter in and find their place in Him. His messengers let us be until the end of the age.
Sun, 1 October 2017
O messengers of God
sent to protect and guide
we poor humans
on our way to the heavenly kingdom,
you whom He in His grace and wisdom
has appointed to carry us home,
lest we dash our foot against a stone –
keep us ever in the way of the Lord;
stay close to us,
remaining always at our side,
for we are but weak and sinful men
so prone to be led astray.
We entrust ourselves into your hands:
bring us to look upon the Father’s face.
For you behold Him always,
you stand loyally in His light,
and we, how shall we gaze upon Him
without your hand to guide?
Cover us with your wings,
protect us from the heat of day
and temptation’s sway
till we stand with you
in the Lord’s eternal reign.
Sun, 1 October 2017
(Zec.8:1-8; Ps.102:16-23,29; Lk.9:46-50)
“The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in her streets.”
“Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the Lord of hosts.” Sometimes we lose sight of the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes our faith fails because of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves. Or sometimes our pride can be the obstruction, blinding our eyes to the presence of the Lord in our midst, speaking to us in the children who play all around us, who sit at His side… whose angels behold His face always. Sometimes we lose hope and the promise of eternal life escapes us.
But why? Do we not know that the Lord “has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer”? Have we not experienced His redeeming grace many times in our lives? Do we not believe Him when He tells His chosen ones: “They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice”? Why are we so forgetful of His love for us and distracted by our situation? For the Lord does “hear the groaning of the prisoners”; He does “release those doomed to die”; He does look down “from His holy height” and hear the prayers of us His lowly ones, if we but call out to Him.
“I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun.” At the center of the universe shall we dwell, “within Jerusalem,” with the Lord. This is our promise. And this is our call – to bring others within those gates, to invite all His children to enter His holy presence. Not to look past them in blind ambition, but to set our hearts on serving Him by striving always and only to build up His kingdom even here on earth.
Jesus knows our thoughts, brothers and sisters. He knows how vain we can be in our ways. And so He sets a child before us. He shows us the lowliness we must know to enter the kingdom of heaven. And He presents us with a challenge to gather His children there. Indeed, heaven shall be filled with the laughter of children, but will we hear it – and will we find true reward by increasing it always in His Name? Let your heart not fail or despair of any circumstances, for “the children of [His] servants shall abide, and their posterity continue in [His] presence.” Ever maintain hope for the glory of Zion and see it rising in your midst.
O LORD, may we be as children before you
in your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, gather your children together as one in your holy City of Jerusalem. In the peace of your presence let us dwell all our days. We are greatly troubled here upon this earth. Help us to turn and become as children that in innocence and humility before you we might remain. Hear us as we cry out and look down with pity upon our poor souls.
O LORD, let us be on your side; faithful and just make us, we pray. O let us serve you in holiness that when you appear in glory we may enter your company and not be kept from you by our foolish pride. You are our God; let us not be made blind to your presence.
O LORD, let us hear the sound of children playing in your streets, and let us be among them. If we could but humble ourselves, in your eyes we would find our place secure. Release those who are doomed to die; with you let us dwell forever.
Sat, 30 September 2017
O little flower of Jesus,
with great innocence and humility
you loved the Lord
and prayed for His Church
and especially His priests;
in all the little things of your day
you gave yourself to God’s service,
and so your work reached
to the ends of the earth –
shower roses upon us from above,
where you now sit with Jesus;
teach us to walk your little way
that we might join you
with our Savior.
Pray we too might find His love
and live in His heart
as deeply as you;
pray all souls shall indeed be saved
by the blood He shed for our sake.
And pray that families
will be blessed as your own
with children who heed so well
the call of the Lord.
Sat, 30 September 2017
(Ez.18:25-28; Ps.25:4-9; Phil.2:1-11; Mt.21:28-32)
“Tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.”
Why? How can it be that such sinners gain such privilege, such grace? Is it for their sins? Shall we all become as they? We should be like them, but not in sin – in repentance. For it is because they have “turned away from all [the] sins that [they] committed” that they are saved; it is because they are “tax collectors and prostitutes” no more. And so we are all called to turn away from the sin which each of us surely has.
David sings beautifully of this in our psalm: “The sins of my youth and my frailty remember not,” as he begs the Lord for His kindness. For all that we have done in our ignorance and our weakness we should seek the Lord’s mercy, for He assures us throughout our readings that “He shows sinners the way” when they come humbly before Him.
When the first son in Jesus’ parable responds to his father’s request for him to work in the vineyard, “I will not,” what does this son do but sin against his father? – just as each of us sins against our heavenly Father when we turn from His will to blindly follow our own. But what did the son show when he “afterwards changed his mind and went” but his contrition and repentance at his insubordination, thus illustrating the manner in which our consciences should lead us from our own disobedience? And as Jesus makes clear, it was this son who “did his father’s will” and so will be blessed by him.
Our reading from Ezekiel makes this theme of turning from sin and finding blessing even clearer. It states in certain terms of the wicked man that “if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” With such assurance, why should we delay our own conversion, which must be effected day to day?
St. Paul presents the attitude we must have before others and God in order to find the Lord’s grace. He states: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,” and then gives the clear example of the most humble of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.” He so “humbled Himself” that He became “obedient even unto death, death on a cross.” And so should we be proud? Should we harden ourselves in our sin, or rather turn and empty ourselves of all that is not of Him? The salvation repentance finds is indicated also in the fact that, because of Jesus’ humility, “God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.” So let us not hesitate to join the tax collectors and prostitutes among us who bend the knee before Him; let our “tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and we shall know His reward.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Where's My Brother?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, turning away from all our sins
and humbling ourselves before you,
let us but do your holy will.
YHWH, help us to turn from our sins and do your holy will. May we be obedient as your Son, who gave His life to save others. Let all souls repent of their wickedness and walk in His way, that all might find salvation in His Name.
If we could but be humble before you, LORD; if we could but admit our failings, our selfishness and pride, our blindness to your call for our lives… then we would be blessed by you and become your faithful sons. Break our hardened hearts that we might love, that we might look upon you who are love itself.
O let us be empty, LORD, of all we would possess, of all that we would grasp with our own hands. Let us indeed be blessed to recognize our sinfulness and find your mercy and forgiveness. You but want for us to turn to you that you might embrace us as your own. May your compassion be known in our hearts this day.
Fri, 29 September 2017
O great interpreter of holy Scripture,
seeking the wisdom and power of God
to what the Lord says
in His Word
and so served to dispel
ignorance of Christ;
from your hermitage you came
to serve the Church just so,
to enlighten the minds of the faithful –
pray the Lord shall send forth today
the light of His wisdom and grace
upon those who turn to the pages
of the Word of God in prayer,
that He may be understood in truth,
that Jesus may walk amongst us again…
that knowing the Christ
we may become more like Him
and live according to His instruction,
as a lamp burning brightly in this world
to draw all men to the Lord
and the salvation of their souls,
which He so deeply desires.
Fri, 29 September 2017
(Zec.2:5-9,14-15; Jer.31:10-13; Lk.9:43-45)
“They shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.”
The Kingdom is being prepared. And as bleak as things may seem upon this earth, the glory of the Lord awaits us all. This is the message of Jeremiah in our psalm and the message given Zechariah by the angel in our first reading. “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows,” is the word which sustains us.
Zechariah prophesies at the time the Israelites have returned from exile few in number to a rather desolate, broken-down Jerusalem. But in his vision presented today he sees an angel measuring the great city of peace, apparently for its restoration. And to this prophet at this difficult time in which hope is hard to hold on to is delivered this reassurance: “People will live in Jerusalem as though in an open country, because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.” The Lord promises to be “the glory in her midst” and an “encircling wall of fire”: “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.”
Jeremiah’s message is the same. “He who scattered Israel now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.” Yes, even in the darkest moments of our exile here on this fallen earth, there is hope. For ultimately the Lord’s love will conquer all; in the end we shall “mount the heights of Zion” – our salvation will be fulfilled.
Jesus tries to convey to the apostles the same message. By telling them, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men,” He seeks to have them understand – even “in the midst of the disciples’ amazement at all that Jesus was doing” in teaching and healing the people – that when the time of mourning is brought to bear in their lives, when they see Him offered up for crucifixion… when darkness falls upon the land, then they should be assured that the glorious works they find wrought in their midst by the glorious hand of God shall not be dead at all, but only coming to fulfillment.
Our solace is in our sorrow. Happy are we who mourn. For the passing things we are robbed of here, we know will become eternal blessings in heaven. Taste the pain, my brothers and sisters, the blood at the corners of your mouth, and lift your head to see the nations come streaming to His eternal kingdom.
O LORD, into the hands of men Jesus must be delivered
that He might gather them from far-off lands
into the kingdom of Heaven.
YHWH, your people have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, but from there you gather them together as one in your holy City. From mourning you deliver your children that they might come in joy into your eternal presence. O may the nations indeed come streaming to your blessings! May all be surrounded by your wall of protection, with you at our very center.
The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men. This sacrifice is necessary to fulfill man’s redemption. O LORD, we could not be saved except by His suffering, for blind we were even to our sin until He mounted the wood of the Cross.
But now, dear LORD, what was so concealed from us has been revealed by His blood. Let us follow closely His message and His way, that we might be found celebrating within the length and breadth of your kingdom.
Thu, 28 September 2017
O mighty messengers of the Lord,
ministers of His will,
bringing His word and His power
to all poor souls on earth,
you serve to lead us unto Heaven…
you who do the bidding of God,
you who are first among those
who stand around His throne
and sing His praise,
you who are so faithful
in defending His Kingship
and keeping us from harm –
cast the devil from our midst,
instill the word of Jesus’ coming
in our hearts,
bring His healing to the lost sheep,
and see that we join you
on His holy mountain on high;
carry us in your arms
to the place the Savior prepares for us
with you and all your army in His presence.
Thu, 28 September 2017
(Dn7:9-10,13-14 or Rv.12:7-12; Ps.138:1-5; Jn.1:47-51
I shall treat of both first readings)
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
And who shall see such visions? He whose own vision is pure, he who is as Nathanael – he who has “no guile in him.” Such is the case both with Daniel and John the Evangelist, of whose visions we hear in either first reading. The angels are with them, indeed, and they lift them up to look upon the Most High God and His Anointed One.
Both first readings reveal vision of Jesus the Son, whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and by whom “salvation and power have come.” In Daniel is shown the Ancient One, the Father, from whom all power comes as “surging streams of fire” from His throne; and in Revelation, John presents the defeat of Satan, who would presume to be like God but is “driven out” and “hurled down to earth” by the archangel Michael (whose name tells us that none is like God) before “the reign of our God” comes. In Revelation is included, too, our own participation in “the blood of the Lamb,” that the Church, “by the word of their testimony,” will share in the Lord’s dominion.
And David’s psalm sings today: “Great is the glory of the Lord.” His voice joins with the “thousands upon thousands… ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads” attending Him. “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise,” he declares, and finds himself “worship[ing] at [His] holy temple” Him whose name is “great above all things.” Is not the vision promised Nathanael and witnessed to by Daniel and John shared here with David, too; does he not glimpse, and share with us who long for the presence of the Lord, the ladder which reaches to heaven made known to Jacob in dream? Is not Jesus, His Lord, with him even in this time before His coming? It is one Jesus the eyes of all the pure of heart see and shall see. And did not the Old Testament prophet see that which was to come? Was not the eternal vision of heaven revealed to his eyes, as well as John’s? And how can this be, that they see what we would call the future, except that it has always been?
Brothers and sisters, we must declare with Nathanael, “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel,” but we must do so as He does – in absolute honesty and utter faith. We must believe without guile and declare without hesitation that Jesus is Lord. To do so and to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him, our hearts and our eyes must be pure. Let us pray that we shall come now to vision of heaven, where His angels and His saints do reign.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels
ministering to you,
and hearts to receive their blessed help.
YHWH, like flames of fire your angels surround you and your holy throne. These myriads of spirits attend you, ministering to you day and night in the place where there is no night, where light shines seven times as brightly as the sun. O may we join them in singing your praises and in doing your will upon this earth! With eyes unveiled let us look upon your glory and unite with your angels in Heaven.
If only we had hearts without guile, O LORD; if only we were your true sons and daughters. Then we would declare freely that Jesus is your Son and our King, He whose dominion is everlasting, whose glory is one with your own. Then would the devil be cast from our souls, driven out from among us by your power at work in your angels. Then would we worship in joy in your holy Temple all our days and become children of your blessed light. O may your angels be with us always!