Sun, 18 November 2018
(Rv.1:1-4,2:1-5; Ps.1:1-4,6,Rv.2:7; Lk.18:35-43)
“Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.”
A blind man sat begging by the side of the road. “Hearing a crowd go by the man asked, ‘What is that?’” And he was told that “Jesus drew near,” that all he could possibly ask for was upon him – and so he begged with the greatest sincerity he could muster.
And as the end of the Church year approaches, we hear from the Lord’s beloved “servant John” “the revelation God gave to Jesus Christ”; he “bears witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” telling us truly that “the appointed time is near,” that He “who is and who was and who is to come” is passing by the way. It is time to call out to Him, and know His healing touch.
To the church in Ephesus specifically, the Lord instructs His apostle to speak today, to commend the disciples there on their “patient endurance” and their lack of tolerance for “wicked men,” and to call them back to their “early love… the heights from which [they] have fallen”; thus do they need to “repent,” to call out themselves to the Lord for renewal of their innocent hearts and their burning love for God. You see, all have their own reason to call out to Jesus as He passes by.
What need have you to call upon the Lord’s Name as He passes by here at the end of days? Do you walk at every point in “the way of the just,” or are you somehow blind to His presence, or are you in some way cold in your love? Or have you any of innumerable other sins that keep you from His kingdom? Be careful. The time is indeed short, and we are indeed sinners – and Jesus is indeed still passing by to heal us. Do not be afraid to cry out to Him, to leave “the company of the insolent” and find His redeeming graces. Let the light of faith burn in your soul that you might know “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven lampstands of gold.” His holy light is coming now upon the earth, and you must join yourself to it.
“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
O LORD, heal us of all our sin
that we might walk in the way of your Son.
YHWH, grant us vision to see the appointed time is near and Jesus is passing by to heal us of our blindness, to return us to our early love. And let us not be afraid to cry out to Him.
Bring us healing, Lord Jesus, for you have come from the Father and pass through our midst this day. To us you bring His surpassing love; may we join ourselves to it and follow you along your way.
You speak to us by your Spirit, LORD; you inspire your apostles with your Word. You teach us of the way to you, and that with all our heart we should walk it. Help us to meditate on your Law day and night; ever let us dwell in your light.
Make us always fruitful, LORD, as we delight in serving you. Let our hearts cry out in joy for the blessings you bestow on faithful souls. Make us your own and let us enter your glory.
Sat, 17 November 2018
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.
Sat, 17 November 2018
(Dn.12:1-3; Ps.16:5,8-11; Heb.10:11-14,18; Mk.13:24-32)
“He will send out the angels
and gather His elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”
On that Day “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky.” On that Day we “will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress,” but “everyone who is found written in the book” of Life “shall escape”; all His chosen He shall rescue. For He will not “suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption,” but “show [him] the path to life” and give him “fullness of joys in [His] presence.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has taken “His seat forever at the right hand of God; now He waits until His enemies are made His footstool.” Though “He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” and “there is no longer offering for sin,” the time is yet to be fulfilled for all His chosen to partake of His “one sacrifice for sins” – He who is our “allotted portion and [our] cup” must be drunk to the full by all His elect, must be made perfect as He by joining in His sacrifice. And though “He is near, at the gates,” ready to break in upon our world in His time and according to His ways, yet “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”: all the tribulations must come upon this earth, and all His children must be made ready for His Day.
Brothers and sisters, He “hold[s] fast [our] lot” and “with Him at [our] right hand [we] shall not be disturbed.” “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [His] words will not pass away,” and it is in His word we trust. So let your heart and soul rejoice and your body abide “in confidence” for “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament” on the Day of the Lord’s return. We shall not join those who “shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace” but “shall live forever” in the light of His face. Hear the word the Lord speaks to your heart; see the signs before your eyes. Join yourself to His holy sacrifice, and you shall know “the delights at [His] right hand forever” in heaven where He now reigns.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us shine brightly in Jesus’ presence
when He comes.
YHWH, how could we escape the judgment coming upon the face of the earth and stand in your presence forever except that Jesus has offered His sacrifice for our sins and now waits with you in Heaven for us to turn to Him and join you there? He is our assurance of your blessing. When He returns again may we be found ready to be gathered to you.
Send your angels forth, O LORD, to save us from all tribulation, to strengthen us to stand in peace even as the stars fall from the sky. The darkness let us not fear; rather, let us be purged by it of all our attachment to this forsaken place. O let us not be counted among those who have forsaken you! Abandon us not to the nether world, but let our souls rejoice in the light of your face – let us shine with you forever.
The path to life you show us, LORD, that we might find the fullness of joy in your presence. Open our eyes and hearts to your glorious coming.
Fri, 16 November 2018
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.
Fri, 16 November 2018
(3Jn.5-8; Ps.112:1-6; Lk.18:1-8)
“When the Son of Man comes,
will He find any faith on the earth?”
So beset by weakness are we on this earth, brothers and sisters. So doubtful, so fearful… so seemingly without help, alone. And so our faith does falter, and so we do fall. And we wonder, “Where is God?”
But the Son asks us today where we are. He emphasizes “the necessity of praying always and not losing heart.” Why should we think that God does not listen to us? If the corrupt judge can give justice to the widow who begs him constantly for her “rights against [her] opponent,” “will not God then do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night?” Do we make Jesus a liar by failing to believe in the Lord’s “swift justice”? Is this corrupt judge more reliable than He?
And listen to what John writes to Gaius. He says to him, “You demonstrate fidelity by all that you do for the brothers.” He has “testified to [his] love before the church” by caring for its members. And John now asks this beloved disciple to support those who pass through his neighborhood carrying the message of the Gospel to the nations, to “help them continue on their journey.” And we can be assured that this child of God does continue to demonstrate his generosity, that “he is gracious and merciful and just” toward his brothers in their need. And if this man “dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright,” shall the Lord Himself then leave us alone when we call out to Him in our need?
Why are we of such little faith? Why do we so easily falter in our trust of the Lord’s protection, of His grace at work upon our souls and His providential hand in our lives? If weak human beings can give aid to those in distress, cannot God? Are not all “wealth and riches… in His house”; does He not hold all the world and all our souls in His loving hand? Then why should we be afraid? Why should we think He does not answer our prayer? It is not because He is not listening that we have not the good we desire – this lack is from our lack of faith.
Brothers and sisters, be encouraged by the Lord today to never give up hope, to never give up our petitions to the Lord. He does not need to be worn down, but is ready at every moment to help us. Seek but to believe in Him.
O LORD, your Son will come to us
as the answer to our prayers –
let us do all we can this day to bring Him here.
YHWH, why have we not faith in your care for our souls? Why do we so easily cease praying to you? Do we not think that you can answer our calls? Those who follow in your way care for those in need, and so should we not trust that you watch over us this day?
O LORD, take our lack of faith from us; let us cease to doubt your loving concern. Help us to open our mouths and cry to you, who know what we need before we ask. For if we do not ask, you cannot answer – how can a prayer be answered that is not made? You wait for us to turn to you… let us do so this day in faith.
And let us then treat others as you treat us; let us respond in generosity to their needs. Let us be ready to help your children on their way, that your work might be accomplished on this earth. Your light break forth upon all just souls.
Thu, 15 November 2018
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.
Thu, 15 November 2018
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.
Thu, 15 November 2018
(2Jn.4-9; Ps.119:1-2,10-11,17-18; Lk.17:26-37)
“Anyone who remains rooted in the teaching
possesses both the Father and the Son.”
While “anyone who is so ‘progressive’ that he does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God.” Rather, he possesses but the emptiness of this earth.
And what is this teaching so necessary for our salvation, for knowing and possessing the Lord our God? It is indicated clearly in John’s request of the Lady to whom he writes (whom we may take as the Church herself): “Let us love one another.” Here is the commandant we “have heard from the beginning,” which we need to find rooted in our hearts – this “commandant is the way in which [we] should walk.” For “happy are they… who walk in the law of the Lord… who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their hearts”; for they shall find Him, and they shall possess Him forever.
Love has come, brothers and sisters: Jesus Christ has “come in the flesh.” And though the people in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot were particularly wicked and meriting condemnation from the Lord, they at that time did not have the Son of God come in their midst. And so if their punishment was great for turning from the way and the call of God, how much greater will be our own if we set our hearts on the possessions of this land and thereby lose Him whose love knocks upon the door of our hearts? It is now among those who deny Him as if they stand under the brightness of the noonday sun and say, “I see no light. I feel not its heat.” If we refuse to open our eyes to what is so obvious, what punishment will be enough for our souls?
Learn the lesson of the two men sleeping and the two women “grinding grain together.” Though they lie and sit or stand in close proximity to one another in this place, seeming no different one from the next, yet “one will be taken and the other left.” While one flies up to the reaches of heaven, the other will rot like a carcass on earth. And why? Who can tell which one says within his heart, “I treasure your promise, that I might not sin against you,” and which has turned his heart from the Lord? “On the day the Son of Man is revealed,” so will be the thoughts of all hearts. And He who is Love alone will know who owns the love He alone imparts. He will say who has walked in His teaching.
O LORD, your Son calls us from our earthly lot
to your kingdom on high –
let us walk His way of love that leads there this day.
YHWH, let us walk in your way, in the way your Son has marked out for us, He who has come in the flesh to show us indeed how we should live, how we should walk in this world.
And your way, O LORD, the way Jesus has trod, is the way of love. This is your commandment to all souls; this is the truth He has revealed to all eyes. And love is not turning to our own desires, putting faith in our possessions, in the empty things of this earth, but rather the laying down of our lives and all these things about us that we might come to you and serve you alone with all our lives.
Let us not be blind, dear LORD, to your Son’s coming and to your command. Let us not continue in ignorance even as He stands at the gate. Our very flesh let us give to you that the flesh we might transcend as we walk in purity with your Son. Take us unto Heaven on the Day of His return.
Wed, 14 November 2018
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?
Wed, 14 November 2018
(Philm.7-20; Ps.146:7-10; Lk.17:20-25)
“The reign of God is already in your midst.”
Brothers and sisters, Jesus the Christ has come, He has “suffer[ed] much and be[en] rejected by the present age”… and He has risen. This is all you need to know. There is no need for “careful watching when the reign of God will come,” for it is not “a matter of reporting that it is ‘here’ or ‘there’” – it is among us today. And when it shall be fulfilled, you will never know.
“Through you the hearts of God’s people have been refreshed,” Paul writes to Philemon: does the kingdom of heaven not come through this man? “Refresh this heart of mine,” the Apostle adds – does he not call for an increased manifestation of the kingdom? A slave has stolen from his master and run away. Paul has discovered him and now calls him, “My child whom I have begotten during my imprisonment.” The slave has run to the prisoner and found freedom; does not the kingdom of God come to this place? And certainly Philemon will accept his slave back as a brother in the Lord, his arms open like the father of the prodigal son… how the Lord does work among us.
And our psalm presents a litany of the Lord’s work: yes, “the Lord sets captives free,” as we see in our first reading; but whenever the eyes of the blind are opened or the widow and the stranger are cared for, whenever justice is secured and the hungry are fed… the Lord is at work, His kingdom comes. This world is in His hands, after all, and whenever love is “freely bestowed” by any of us toiling upon this earth, the Lord shows Himself indeed in the beat of our heart and our arms open wide. It is not difficult to see.
You must remember, my brothers and sisters, that all prophecy has been fulfilled; all revelation is complete in the coming of the Son of God, in His death and in His resurrection. There is nothing left to await but the final day, a Day about which false prophets conjecture and faithless souls run anxiously about to find, only moving themselves further from its presence. “The Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other” – don’t worry, you will not miss it; nor can you mistake it. Your purpose in the meantime is to spend yourself bringing His kingdom to this earth in the love you share with your neighbor. In such love come only from Christ, the kingdom is already here.
O LORD, let us be useful to you
in these days before your Son’s return –
let us bring your presence to this world.
YHWH, make us useful to you and to your Church, that we might serve to bring your kingdom to this dark world of persecution, to this prison in which we dwell. Though we be apart from you as long as we are in the flesh, let us do your work while here, and captives will be set free.
You are with us, LORD, in those who give sight to the blind, in those who instruct the ignorant and lead them to your love. May we be brought to share in your surpassing love! Help us to feed the hungry and care for the fatherless and widows. May every stranger be welcomed into the arms of your Church.
Then we shall find a home in this world, a dwelling place in your arms, O LORD. Though there be suffering every day, you will be with us through it all; your Son will bear every blow in our stead, and we will come in this way to your eternal dwelling. Let us have no fear about His return, for He is with us in this prison.
Tue, 13 November 2018
(Ti.3:1-7; Ps.23:1-6; Lk.17:11-19)
“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Such is the cry of the ten lepers standing at a distance from the Lord. And such is the cry that wells up in all our hearts when we realize we must keep ourselves far from His company for the sin that festers like a disease in our souls. Desiring no longer to be outcasts from His love, we call out… and He answers.
Do you think you are something different than these lepers? Do you think your status with God is somehow raised above these poor souls? Beware. Heed the words of Paul: “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and far from the faith; we were the slaves of our passions and of pleasures of various kinds.” Was our soul not then in a diseased state? And was it any work of our own that brought us healing, that brought us to “baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”? No. Rather, “when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy.” So, by rights we should yet be in the mire of our sin; we should yet be as lepers outside the gates of salvation. But His “Spirit He lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs, in hope, of eternal life.” And do we appreciate what He has done for us?
Indeed the Lord indicates today that most of us are ungrateful wretches when He asks, “Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine?” at the sight of the single leper returning to give praise to God. “Where are the other nine?” Only one of ten falls “on his face at the feet of Jesus”; and to how many of us does this lack of thanksgiving speak? And so, how many of us remain with more than a trace of our leprosy?
“He refreshes my soul,” David sings in humble appreciation of the blessings of the Lord he finds before himself in all things. It is He who gives “repose”; it is He who “anoints [our] head with oil”… it is He who cleanses our soul. And if we fail to realize this grace at work within us, then a measure of pollution remains, and still we need to cry out to our God, and fall on our knees in praise for His answer. Ever is He our Master; ever are we His slaves – ever do we need His mercy to live in righteousness each day.
O LORD, save us from enslavement to our passions –
let us have faith in you
and in your grace upon our souls.
YHWH, our faith has saved us, has it not? Our faith in you and in your Son has brought the Spirit upon us to cleanse us from our sin. Now we have new birth and look forward in hope of eternal life. You are ever at our side as we travel through this dark world.
But do we give you due praise, O LORD? Do we see what you have done for us and bow before you in adoration, in recognition of your greatness? Without your grace we would yet be lost – help us remember it is only through you our cup overflows. And so, let us remain with you forever.
What sin has been ours in the past, O LORD! What disease has troubled our souls! Though we have been rebellious before, let us now be obedient to your command and serve you and others as you call. The passions and pleasures that once enslaved us cast away, and let us be humble in your sight.
Mon, 12 November 2018
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.
Mon, 12 November 2018
(Ti.2:1-8,11-14; Ps.37:3-4,18,23,27,29,39; Lk.17:7-10)
“Live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.”
Brothers and sisters, be “eager to do what is right” as servants of the Most High God. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” For “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever.”
Paul gives instruction to all on how to live a godly life here on this earth. He “tell[s] the older men that they must be temperate, serious-minded, and self-controlled”; the older women that they must give “good example” to the younger women, teaching them thus “to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, loving at home, kindly, submissive to their husbands”; “the young men to keep themselves completely under control”; and those who teach to “have the integrity of serious, sound words to which no one can take exception.” Then “no opponent will have anything bad to say about us”; then we will have given right witness to Christ in this age.
And “when [we] have done all [we] have been commanded to do” by the Lord and His apostles, when we have fully served Him and one another in our life on this earth – when we have finished “prepar[ing] [His] supper” and “put[ting] on our apron and wait[ing]” on our brothers – what should we do but say in all humility and in all truth: “We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty”? For this is what will assure us that we will “abide forever”; this will prove that we are as our Lord, “who sacrificed Himself for us,” and so, with “the just [we] shall possess the land, and dwell in it forever.”
Our God has come “to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse us for Himself as a people of His own.” Let us show we are that people by ever being “sound in the faith, loving, and steadfast,” doing all for the Lord and our neighbor. In this way we indicate that even upon the dust of this earth “we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ.” In this way we attain to the age to come, where we shall be seated at His table.
O LORD, help us to turn from all sinful ways
and complete the work you command us to do.
YHWH, we are useless servants; help us to fulfill the tasks you set before us, to be eager to do what is right. For this is what will gain us entrance to your kingdom, to a place at your table – if we live temperately, devoutly and justly in this world, as even your Son has done.
Should we fall into disrepute? Should we not be self-controlled? It is serious work to which you call us, O LORD, and so let our words be sound and our behavior above reproach, and to you we shall be as witness and bring our souls with the souls of others into the security of your blessed land, where we shall dwell forever.
We are blessed to do your work, LORD, to serve you in this world. For in such work you are with us; your will is accomplished even in this flesh and bone. And so, let us give ourselves entirely to you and to your ways, submissive in all things, and we shall be redeemed from all unrighteousness and cleansed for your kingdom.
Sun, 11 November 2018
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.
Sun, 11 November 2018
(Ti.1:1-9; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.17:1-6)
“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?”
“He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.”
Of priests and holy men our readings speak, yes, but most especially of bishops, who are most entrusted with the Word of God, with the preaching of the Gospel of eternal life… and how silence in this regard leads but to condemnation.
Paul sets the standard for the “servant of God.” He presents himself “as an apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of those whom God has chosen and to promote their knowledge of the truth as our religion embodies it.” Here is the bishop in sum. Here is the priest in sum. Here is the sum of any sent to teach in His name: increase the faith and knowledge of the flock. And in this service certainly a priest must be “irreproachable,” and “the bishop as God’s steward must be blameless.” He must be “steady, just, holy, and self-controlled. [And] in his teaching he must hold fast to the authentic message, so that he will be able both to encourage men to follow sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.”
But how many of our leaders hold to Paul’s words? How many encourage the keeping of sound doctrine, and, perhaps more to the point, how many refute error? Worse yet, how many travel merrily along with the error of the day? “If your brother does wrong, correct him,” Jesus says. But how many tell their flock, “You should not fornicate or commit adultery” or “You should not abort a child or contracept him” or “You should not be ‘self-willed or arrogant, a drunkard, a violent or greedy man’”? And how many freely engage in sins such as these themselves? Yes, Jesus says, “If he repents, forgive him” (even “seven times a day”) of the brother in your care; but how can he repent if he knows nothing of the wrong he does, and how can you instruct him if you are committing the same sins as he? And so where is true forgiveness?
“Scandals will inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come.” It is a terrible warning the Lord gives today, particularly to those entrusted with much, for how great will be their punishment for the abuse of their call. And of course, the source of such travails in the wayward soul is simply a lack of faith. Not “the size of a mustard seed” or a speck of dust is the faith of too many. If even it could be detected with a microscope it would show itself in good works. But it is not there. And so, who indeed shall climb the mountain of the Lord? How many vainly grovel at its base? And if our leaders do not climb, how shall any follow? So, who shall come to holiness?
Let us awaken to the call of our God! Let the Church serve as His presence in this world. Let us be “the race that seeks for Him,” putting holiness before all else. And let the ordained among us lead us in this way.
O LORD, let us be men of faith
who carry your Word forth blamelessly,
that all may come to see your face.
YHWH, how shall we serve you if we have not sinless hands or clean hearts? And so, how shall we find our reward in your kingdom? Will we not rather be cast into the sea for our unfaithfulness, for our failing to hold to your true teaching and leading others astray? Help us who are far from you. Forgive us our sins.
Do we not travel blindly in this day, dear LORD, lacking the guidance of holy shepherds? Does your people not suffer for lack of knowledge of you and your ways? Is the truth not hidden from our eyes by the silence of your teachers? And are many not led away from you by their example?
Who is there that stands in your stead; who climbs your holy mountain, making a way for others to follow? There are a few, no doubt; but are there not more who are afraid to speak in your NAME? Help us, LORD, for your Church shall be lost without the guidance of good shepherds. Encourage all souls to seek your face, and so find the blessings of Heaven.
Sat, 10 November 2018
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.
Sat, 10 November 2018
(1Kgs.17:10-16; Ps.146:1,7-10; Heb.9:24-28; Mk.12:38-44)
“She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
Jesus sits in the temple and watches as “the crowd put[s] money into the treasury.” When He sees “a poor widow… put in two small coins worth a few cents,” He calls His disciples over, and speaks the truth to them: “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” Whatever wealth anyone else might have stuffed into the box cannot begin to compare to her whole sacrifice – it mimics His own.
And in our first reading we find another poor widow sacrificing her livelihood to the Lord and His prophet. It is the time of a great famine upon the land (called down from heaven by Elijah himself) and the widow has nothing left to eat but “a handful of flour in [her] jar and a little oil in [her] jug.” She tells us her situation: “Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” A last supper. Straits most of us can only imagine. Yet when the prophet Elijah asks her, “First make me a little cake and bring it to me,” invoking the name of the God of Israel and promising His blessings, this woman who is not even of the house of Israel does not hesitate to give first to this stranger of the only sustenance she has for herself and her son. Another sacrifice mimicking Christ’s own.
Both widows’ sacrifices shall be blessed by the Lord; we can be assured of this. For “the widow He sustains”; it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “protects strangers”… and any offering made in His name can only be multiplied. Indeed, Elijah proves himself not to be as the Pharisees who “devour the houses of widows,” for by his presence with his benefactor “she was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well,” the flour and the oil remaining until the rains returned. “The Lord keeps faith forever.”
Brothers and sisters, Christ “has appeared at the end of the age to take away sins by His sacrifice.” He does this “once for all,” and so does not “offer Himself repeatedly.” But we, brothers and sisters, we must join with that sacrifice – it is for us to offer ourselves as He has, as these widows have, if we are to partake of its graces. As it is manifested on our altar each day, we renew our commitment to be sharers in the blood He shed. As we drink from His cup let us remember always that it is our very lives that we are giving up. And the Lord will bless us as His own. And with these widows we shall sit at His table in heaven.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, we must give what we have to you
or we shall have nothing.
YHWH, help us to give our whole livelihood to you, to join in the sacrifice of your Son. For you will not abandon those who hunger for your love but bless them with all they need for their journey to Heaven.
The widow you sustain, dear God; those who believe in you, you indeed bless. And we must show that we eagerly await the Second Coming of your Son by not being attached to the things of this passing earth. We must rather make known our faith in you by entrusting all into your hands. For Jesus, who has entered Heaven on our behalf, taking our sins with Him that we might be purged, will not abandon us on the last day if we offer ourselves in union with His sacrifice.
All we have let us give to you, O LORD, even our food for the day, and you shall feed us from Heaven with the Bread that sustains all poor souls unto eternity. Our jar of flour shall not go empty nor our jug of oil run dry, for in them are the Body and Blood of your only Son.
Fri, 9 November 2018
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.
Fri, 9 November 2018
(Phil.4:10-19; Ps.112:1-2,5-6,8-9; Lk.16:9-15)
“Well for the man who is gracious and lends.”
“Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever; his horn shall be exalted in glory.” Such is the man who knows the proper use of this world’s goods, that is, to give them all as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This shows that he “fears the Lord,” that his heart is not set on the things of earth but the riches of heaven; and so to these shall he come.
“Make friends for yourselves through your use of this world’s goods,” Jesus instructs His disciples, “so that when they fail” – when the goods of this world have faded into eternity – “a lasting reception will be yours” in the kingdom which does not pass away. Our life on this earth serves indeed as a kind of test. The Lord needs to see if He “can trust [us] in little things,” in the passing things of this passing day; then He will know that He “can also trust [us] in greater,” in the eternal graces of our heavenly homeland. How well shall we prove ourselves?
The Philippians prove their generosity well. The Apostle Paul commends them for their repeated gifts to supply his needs as he preaches the Gospel. Here we see a perfect example of wise use of this world’s goods, of their being given in service of God and man. And because of their generosity, there is “an ever-growing balance in [their] account,” not of silver and gold, but of the “magnificent riches in Christ Jesus.” As they empty themselves of what they have, as they give of their riches on this earth, the Lord gives them all they might desire of the true riches; as Paul says as he assures them he has been “fully paid” by the fruits they have offered: “My God in turn will supply your needs fully.”
“No servant can serve two masters.” We either amass wealth for our own benefit in this world – and toward our own condemnation – or we give what we have for the benefit of God and others. We love God or we love money; there are no two ways. “The Pharisees, who were avaricious men, heard all this and began to deride Him.” Does your heart tend to deride the generosity to which the Lord calls you, as do these? Is there yet mockery upon your tongue and lips against the preaching of the emptiness of this world’s possessions? Do you also “justify yourselves in the eyes of men”? Know indeed that “God reads your hearts” and “what man thinks important, God holds in contempt.” And if you would have it go well with you in the heavenly kingdom, you must practice the abounding generosity that is the heart of that kingdom (shown in our Lord’s limitless mercy upon our souls), here with what is at your hands.
O LORD, take all that we have, all that we own,
for your use and that of your Church.
YHWH, let our hearts not be set on the wealth of this earth but let us rather use the goods at our hands to serve your kingdom. A fragrant offering let us make to you of our wealth and of ourselves that we might be acceptable in your sight.
How shall we come to your kingdom, LORD, if we cling to this earth and its goods? How shall we share in your glory if our hearts are not generous as your own? We cannot be blessed if we are not a blessing to others, and your everlasting wealth, your eternal graces, we shall not find if we grasp at the possessions at our hands. We must indeed give generously of the things you provide here, and we will have the love that lasts forever.
Your love let us know even now, O LORD; your joy let us take in providing for the poor, in supporting your workers in the vineyard. And you will lavishly bless us when the last day comes.
Thu, 8 November 2018
(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.
Wed, 7 November 2018
(Phil.3:3-8; Ps.105:2-7; Lk.15:1-10)
“I have come to rate all as loss
in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul tells us, “Those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ.” The “legal observance” he grasped so tightly – having been “circumcised on the eighth day,” “a Hebrew of Hebrew origins,” himself a Pharisee – he now looses to the wind, desiring only to be among those “who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus,” and “seek[ing] to serve Him constantly.” What matters but Jesus and His love, and “the judgments He has uttered”?
But this justice those who remain as Paul was cannot begin to consider, for they say to themselves as Paul once said of himself: “I [am] above reproach when it [comes] to justice based on the law”… yet do they hold tightly to their fine legal observances, looking down upon those who are below their reproach and judging them all as loss, as wayward sheep destined for the fires of Gehenna. And this Man eats with them! But what is loss in their eyes becomes great gain in the eyes of God, for there is “more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent”; and the angels sing in praise as they see the Son of Man sitting and ministering to these sinners, drawing them, as He has been sent to do, into the kingdom’s gates.
The Lord “light[s] a lamp and sweep[s] the house in a diligent search” for straying souls. When He succeeds, He calls us all, saying, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” And will we be jealous of the Lord’s discovery, as the Pharisees and scribes, or will we realize that we all have need of repentance, that we are all that lost sheep, that lost coin which the Lord treasures so once He holds it in His hand again?
Brothers and sisters, it is in the Lord’s hands we must always place ourselves; this is to be in the light of the surpassing knowledge of Christ. By our own hands, in our own wills – “putting our trust in the flesh” – what do we make but corruption, even as our first parents who desired so to hold the apple in their hands and eat it at their pleasure? In things themselves, and our willful manipulation of them, we find only a knowledge that brings death, that leads to darkness. And who will lead us out of such darkness? Jesus, who is Light. In trust in Him we realize we do not know the good we do, for all of any worth is of His making. And so all our desire is for knowledge of “the wondrous deeds that He has wrought” and forgetfulness of our sinful selves. Rejoice in the Lord’s salvation!
O LORD, help us to repent of our sin
and leave behind all things of the flesh,
that we might live in the glory of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
YHWH, how you desire our repentance, our return to you. For this you send your only Son to sit among us and call us to your side – for this He shall even die. May the light He shines find a place in our hearts that we shall be found by Him and lifted up on His shoulders… that we might be raised to Heaven.
We are all poor sinners, LORD, lost to ourselves and lost to you. We are all blinded by the things of this world and the pride we take in our work among them. And so, darkness overtakes us.
Yet you call us to glory in you and in the wondrous deeds that you have wrought in your mercy. Yet we may be gathered into your arms and rejoice in your NAME. Yet if we listen to your Son we shall know redemption, we shall return to you.
And you will rejoice with all your angels that we have come to you, that we have found your glory. Our joy will be your joy, good God, for your love will be our own.
Tue, 6 November 2018
(Phil.2:12-18; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.14:25-33)
“Work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation.”
Strive we must always to attain the kingdom of God, setting our hearts on salvation alone, and trusting in the Lord all the while.
“If one of you decides to build a tower, will he not first sit down and calculate the outlay?” And do you think the outlay for being a follower of Christ is any less important to consider? For what is required of the soul on the path to the kingdom is nothing less than all he owns, and the work involved is the laying down of his very life. And so we must be prepared; and so we must act with conviction, to dispel any “fear of laying the foundation and then not being able to complete the work.”
It certainly cannot be said of St. Paul, “That man began to build what he could not finish,” for he states with absolute conviction to his beloved Philippians, “Even if my life is to be poured out as a libation over the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad of it and rejoice with all of you.” He is prepared to die to accomplish the work the Lord has set for him, and he shall. But he witnesses the fruit of his efforts: “As I look to the day of Christ, you give me cause to boast that I did not run the race in vain or work to no purpose.” In his disciples he sees the faith he has planted grow. And now throughout all the earth do his words go forth, bearing the fruit of Christ among all who listen.
And so, brothers and sisters, set your hearts on accomplishing the work the Lord places before you. Let no doubt or fear cause you to stumble on the way. Proclaim with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” Have this same confidence and commitment to His grace. For “it is God who, in His good will toward you, begets in you any measure of desire or achievement.” It is His work you do and so He will surely bless it. Know that your King is able to do battle with any enemy, that none holds any sway over Him, and be as He is, giving yourselves entirely to His mission, His cause. And you shall “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple”; and you shall certainly achieve your salvation. Onward, soldiers of the Lord.
O LORD, help us to renounce the things of this world
and come into your Temple, into your presence,
and there remain all our days –
accomplish your work in us.
YHWH, you are our light and our salvation; it is you who beget in us any desire for you and your kingdom. And it is you who bring this desire to fulfillment, if we but work to achieve it.
Help us, O LORD, to know the way you call us and prepare us to walk your way without fear, without hesitation. In you we take our courage, for you are great and care greatly for our welfare. It is your bounty alone we desire, and so you will bring us to your House where we may gaze on your face in holy light.
What need we but to dwell with you, O LORD? What of this world could keep us from coming to you? Help us to renounce all else but your holy presence; even our lives let us lay down in service of you. And we shall find our salvation, despite the darkness all around.
It is you who defend us in battle, LORD; it is you who build our house. May we carry our cross with your Son this day, and so be blessed with confidence in your kingdom.
Mon, 5 November 2018
(Phil.2:5-11; Ps.22:26-32; Lk.14:15-24)
“The lowly shall eat their fill.”
Yes, “happy is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.” Indeed, he shall have his fill. But who shall partake of such grace? Who shall come to the feast when the Master calls?
Brothers and sisters, our “attitude must be as Christ’s: though He was in the form of God, He did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.” Rather, He made Himself lowly, as we are lowly. And now He is exalted; now He prepares the banquet of salvation for all lowly souls.
Who are the lowly souls? The lowly souls are they who bow down before the Lord. “At Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth.” If one does not bend the knee before our Savior, he is not humble, he is not lowly – rather, he stands in his vain pride.
And these proud souls shall not come to the table in the kingdom. If when He calls they turn away unto their own affairs, spurning the only appointment which carries importance, they lose their place in the Banquet Hall. And listen to the command of the “master of the house” to his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The Jews having rejected the invitation which was most especially theirs, we the outcast Gentiles now hear the call of the apostles of the Lord, a call that goes out to the ends of the world. All the poor souls are now invited.
Brothers and sisters, “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of nations shall bow down before Him. For dominion is the Lord’s, and He rules the nations. To Him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth,” all in the heavens, and all on earth. None shall be deprived of hearing the call to the feast the Son prepares; all shall stand before Him and have opportunity to bend the knee, to realize our lowliness before Him whom every tongue does praise. So “let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they might proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice He has shown,” that all forever might bow their hearts before His majesty and proclaim: “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!” In such humble praise they shall eat their fill of the blessings of the kingdom.
O LORD, let us honor your Son
who has given His life for the salvation of all,
that we might enter your kingdom
and eat the Bread He sets before us.
YHWH, let us bow down before your only Son and give Him due honor and praise, for He alone is Lord; He alone among us is worthy of our worship, for He alone is your Son. Let us humble ourselves as He has done and so find ourselves in your kingdom with Him.
O LORD, if only we could eat bread at your table, if only it were the desire of our heart to enter your presence and rejoice in your glory. It is your desire to share with us all your gifts and graces, to feed us with your finest fare. But how can we celebrate in your House if our hearts are turned to earthly matters, if our thoughts are vain and our souls proud?
Your Son has humbled Himself to come among us and call us to you, LORD. He has set aside His place at your side that He might become as a slave in our midst, that He might lead us to your side. Let us not reject His holy sacrifice but proclaim it with our lives as we eat bread at your table this day.
Sun, 4 November 2018
(Phil.2:1-4; Ps.131:1-3; Lk.14:12-14)
“Let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves,
each of you looking to others’ interests rather than his own.”
The key to Christianity is to see others, even the blind and the lame and the crippled beggar, as superior to ourselves, and place ourselves at their service in love. As Christians we can never look down upon another individual; if our heart is proud and our “eyes haughty,” we are certainly set up for a fall, for the Lord who sees all and humbles Himself before all will certainly humble our proud souls. Rather, we must maintain the “fellowship in spirit, compassion, and pity” of which Paul speaks, “possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals” and thus always giving one another the “encouragement” we owe in Christ.
Jesus would teach this humility and unity of spirit to the chief of the Pharisees today. He would have him adopt a truly Christian attitude, expecting nothing in return for his feeding of the sheep, concerned only for the welfare of the poorest in his midst. Thus He would convert him to the faith by wiping the mocking smile from his face in a spirit of genuine compassion. He tells him, “Whenever you give a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or wealthy neighbors.” He should not be concerned simply with those of his blood and the people of means, for certainly these would “invite [him] in return and thus repay” him. No, quite a novel idea has the Son of God for the head of the Jewish Church: expect your recompense at “the resurrection of the just,” not on earth. Set your heart on things that are above, not below. And go beyond your blood to invite all into the hall of the Lord, especially those most in need, those most outcast. Such a call must have been shocking to the sensibilities of this Pharisee, as indeed it remains shocking to most even today. But He only calls us to do as He has done – empty ourselves completely for the good of others.
“Make my joy complete by your unanimity,” Paul begs the Philippians; and unanimity in the Lord encompasses all. In it there can be no “rivalry or conceit” because in it there are no factions: all are one in the Lord. To this unity, found only in humility, the only Son does call us all, for He knows it is there we shall find our peace; in such humble service we find our eternal rest upon the lap of our Father.
O LORD, let us not seek our reward
in the things of this world or follow in its ways;
rather, in all humility let us find our peace in your arms.
YHWH, help us to look to others’ needs and not our own, to seek to serve you in all things, not looking for reward. How shall we be humble as your Son, placing ourselves entirely in your hands? How shall we become as your children if you do not bless us? For we are selfish and self-seeking and need your grace upon our souls to save us from such vain pride.
To sacrifice your Son calls us, LORD, to unity with all our brothers and sisters. He would have us empty ourselves as He has done in coming among us and dying on the Cross. This great blessing He would make our own, if our desire were for Heaven.
Give us, O LORD, true wisdom and peace of soul to see and know the glory to which Jesus calls us by His holy sacrifice, to share the love that exists between you and Him alone. O let us be your children! free of all snares of the flesh and the world and the devil, desiring only to sup with you.
Sat, 3 November 2018
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.
Sat, 3 November 2018
(Dt.6:2-6; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; Heb.7:23-28; Mk.12:28-34)
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
If you “fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all His statutes and commandments,” you will have “long life”; the Lord will “give you a land flowing with milk and honey.” The promise spoken by Moses to the people stands true, and truer, today. If we “take to heart these words which [both Moses and Jesus] enjoin on [us] today,” the kingdom shall indeed be not far from us. For these words are life-giving, they are the heart of the law, the heart of God’s love, and so breathe the breath of life upon the obedient soul: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (And the seconding of the Commandment is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”) This Command, this word of Truth and Life, the ancient Israelites inscribed upon their doorposts and lintels, and wore upon their person, never to forget what wisdom had been imparted unto them.
And now we, where shall we wear this essential Command, which silences even the hardest skeptics…? It should be inscribed upon our hearts. It should pour forth as praise from the mouth of all, all the faithful exclaiming with David in song, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” “The Lord lives! And blessed be my rock!” Our hearts indeed should overflow with love of God, who is so near us.
Oh brothers and sisters, do you not know how near He is to you now? Do you not know that Jesus “is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for [us]”? Do you not know that you have a high priest who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens,” and that He draws you unto the Heaven where He dwells? No longer do we turn to weak men, as even Moses was, but to “a Son, who has been made perfect forever.” And His Sonship we share even this day when we love as He has loved.
Love God, brothers and sisters. Love Him with heart and soul, mind and body. Let the four corners of the universe declare His praise and honor His Name in unending love of all. It is Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ love, which courses through our veins now. How much closer can we come than this Bread of Life? Heaven has come to earth in flesh of love, and raises these earthen vessels we are unto the gates of the kingdom. On the doorstep you stand; only enter in.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Love, The Meaning Of (Liars Don't Love, Lovers Don't Lie)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we love you and our neighbor,
indeed we draw close to your kingdom.
YHWH, if we but keep your Word, we shall be blessed; if we but love you, O LORD our God, we shall know your love. If we worship you alone, we shall soon come to Heaven. O let your love fill us with praise of your NAME! And may that love overflow to all souls.
We love you, O LORD; we praise your holy NAME. You are exalted above all gods and your reign endures forever. And that reign you would share with all who are obedient to your Word, to your call to love.
And so your Son has come among us as our high priest; as priest and victim He stands in our midst and calls us to your kingdom through His holy sacrifice. Once for all He offered Himself that we might be saved, that He might live to make intercession for us all our days – that we might learn to love as He loves, as you love, dear God, giving all our lives for your sake and that of our neighbor. Alleluia!
Fri, 2 November 2018
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.
Fri, 2 November 2018
(Phil.1:18-26; Ps.42:2-3,5; Lk.14:1,7-11)
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding party,
do not sit in the place of honor
in case some greater dignitary has been invited.”
At the feast of the marriage of Christ to mankind, we are the lesser party, and must act humbly before our God.
Jesus comes among us as a guest to eat a meal in our house; He humbles Himself to sit at our table. And this guest who sits in the lowest place among us is in fact the Host of the banquet of which all are invited to partake. Though the Lamb that is slaughtered for all to eat, He the sacrifice rules at the altar of our worship.
Listen carefully to what Paul says to his beloved Philippians; see how his own attitude mirrors that of the humble Christ, and how it must be imitated by us all. He says quite openly, “I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ, for that is the far better thing.” In the choice of living or dying, he would opt for the latter, “for, to [him], ‘life’ means Christ; hence dying is so much gain.” As the psalmist sings in comparing his soul to “the hind [that] longs for the running waters”: “When shall I go and behold the face of God?” When shall he know full union with the Lord? Only in death, the dawn of perfect day. But though “strongly attracted” to death, Paul has equal attraction to life, and accepts that he must “go on living in the flesh” for the “productive toil” it means; and so he will “persevere with [his disciples], for [their] joy and [their] progress in the faith.” He will remain “with the throng” that he might lead them “in procession to the house of God… amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,” though he himself is already prepared to enter the festival gates.
Do you not see how this attitude is as Christ’s own? Would not the Lord Jesus have preferred to remain in the heavenly kingdom with the Father? Would this not have been better for Him by far? And yet He comes among us, and yet He remains with us. And yet He takes on flesh which is as the cross itself and bears it with all patience for our benefit. He gains nothing by sitting with us at table as a dishonored guest, but we gain life eternal as we eat the Bread He feeds us.
And so, listen to the Lord’s teaching. Pray that “when your Host approaches you He will say, ‘My friend, come up higher.’” Let His sweet words of humility and sacrifice be in your ears and in your heart – and upon your lips, lived through your body – that with Paul you will “have full confidence that now as always Christ will be exalted through” your own humility; then you will find the same “conviction that this will turn out to [your] salvation.” If here you sacrifice your life, at the wedding party of our Lord and our souls you will be given your due place of honor at table in the kingdom.
O LORD, may the humility of Jesus be proclaimed to all
who wish to see your face.
YHWH, help us to be your humble servants, coming to others as a slave, as your Son, concerned only for the welfare of your flock, even as the Apostle Paul. How shall we have the Spirit of Christ within us? How shall we set our hearts on seeking your face and helping others progress in the faith? Let us not care if we live or die, but only that your NAME goes forth.
To your House let us come, O LORD; at your table let us sit. The lowest place let us take, for this is the place we deserve. It is only by your grace we come to the table at all, and so, how can we boast of anything? Your Son is the exalted guest among us – let us give place to Him in all things.
Call us higher, dear LORD. Call us to your side. Without your call we shall be lost, scrambling blindly for adulation on this empty earth. O let us rejoice as we enter your presence!
Thu, 1 November 2018
(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.
Wed, 31 October 2018
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!
Wed, 31 October 2018
(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.
Tue, 30 October 2018
(Eph.6:1-9; Ps.145:10-14; Lk.13:22-30)
“Do God’s will with your whole heart
as slaves of Christ.”
These words Paul addresses to the slaves of his time, instructing them to “obey [their] human masters with the reverence, the awe, and the sincerity [they] owe to Christ,” but they apply well to us all, who are in all things to serve the Lord. Always we should “give [our] service willingly, doing it for the Lord rather than men.” This is as “the narrow door” of which our Lord speaks; this is what will bring us into His heavenly kingdom. For it is certain that “each one, whether slave or free, will be repaid by the Lord for whatever good he does.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord’s “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and [His] dominion endures through all generations.” It matters not when we live or where, or what position we have in society – none of these things pertain to the reign of God. For those who are to be saved shall indeed come from the four corners of the universe and from every period of time, and as Paul says to masters of their slaves: “You and they have a Master in heaven who plays no favorites.” So if you think that any honor or preference of this earth will smooth your way into the kingdom, you are surely mistaken and risk the grave disappointment of discovering that “some are first who will be last,” or finding yourself barred from His House for failing to serve the Lord with all your heart in all the things of the world. For He has come to serve and not to be served, and He “lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”
Jesus goes “through cities and towns teaching – all the while making His way toward Jerusalem.” Even unto the cross He offers instruction to those who would follow Him. He is as the fathers Paul instructs to “bring [their children] up with the training and instruction befitting the Lord.” But we must heed His words; we must honor and obey the Lord as children are expected to honor and obey their parents. For His words are wise and they carry the greatest promise: “That it may go well with you, and that you may have long life,” not so much upon this earth, but in the heavenly kingdom.
Do all things in His name, brothers and sisters. Honor Him. Obey Him. Serve Him well that He might see you and “know where you come from” and thus honor you “at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
O LORD, let us follow in your narrow way
that we might be saved;
let us honor you with all our lives.
YHWH, all are one in your kingdom, for you do not play favorites with your children but call all the same to your presence. And so the lowly you raise from the dust and the exalted you tear down… for all must come to you on an even path. The narrow way that leads to your glory is not dependent on the concerns of this age.
And so slaves are no less your children than their masters; masters no less than their slaves – it matters only their devotion to you. All are called to serve you, LORD, to follow the command you give to each one. And so father and son may come equally unto Heaven if they do as fits their role, as fits your call.
Let children obey their parents and parents nurture their children in the faith. Let workers perform their tasks with zeal and those over them treat all with respect and love. Let all discourse of your glory by their service to you, giving you thanks for the splendor of your kingdom, to which they thereby come. Praise you, LORD, for your goodness toward all!
Mon, 29 October 2018
(Eph.5:21-33; Ps.128:1-5; Lk.13:18-21)
“To what shall I compare the reign of God?”
Jesus Himself compares it to a mustard seed which grows so steadily into a “large shrub,” and to yeast which makes “the whole mass of dough” rise. And Paul tells us of the marriage union that it “refers to Christ and the Church.” These images should lead you, brother, to understand the glorious kingdom that is beyond all image.
“The husband is head of the wife just as Christ is head of His body, the Church,” and husbands should “love [their] wives, as Christ’s loved the Church,” giving themselves “up for her” as the Lord has done for us. A wonderfully beautiful call; a marvelous image which is to bring the Lord so really into our midst: love between husband and wife – the love of love upon this earth, which indeed brings the fruit of new life. “A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cling to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Here is a word of truth incomparable to others in the joy it brings the ear and the heart open to its call. For by it is promised great happiness to those “who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.” Yes, the obedient man will find that his “wife shall be like a fruitful vine” and his “children like olive plants around [his] table”; great is the blessing upon those who wed in love, the true love of the Lord.
But a greater promise than this does this word bring, for in it is indeed “a great foreshadowing”; in it we see not only the fruitful love of man and woman, but of God and His people. For does not Jesus leave His Father in heaven and cling to us? Does it not bring the great knowledge that we shall be made one with Him and with His Father in heaven? If “he who loves his wife loves himself,” does this not emphasize the absolute oneness of husband and wife? And if such marriage foreshadows Christ’s love for us, can we not conclude that we will be as He is?
Oh to what glory we are called! To be as the only Son of God, to be one with Him. Indeed “we are members of His body” even now, certainly. Has Jesus not asked Saul why he was persecuting Him, referring to His Church (Acts 9:4); and has He not said what we do unto the least of our brothers we do unto Him? We are one with Him even now, but yet we are growing, yet we are rising. And the immeasurable glory to which we come is beyond even the most poignant image to depict. It is absolute fullness, absolute union with our Lord and God. Alleluia! “The prosperity of [the New] Jerusalem” is ours.
O LORD, teach us to love one another
that we might be joined to your Son
and so enter your reign.
YHWH, may husbands and wives be truly one in your sight; let there be no separation between them. For they are one as we are one with your Son, and why would we separate ourselves from our Lord? Salvation is ours in Him and in our love for one another. Let us be obedient to His voice and fear you and walk in your ways, and we shall grow unto Heaven.
O LORD, you greatly bless those who fear you, who worship you alone and always do your will. Help us to live according to your Word, particularly as it affects marriages. For this day there is great separation between husband and wife, between man and woman; no sense of their oneness seems known anymore. Set against one another do they not set themselves against you? And living thus, how shall their love grow? Then what hope have any of being fruitful in your sight and coming into your eternal presence? It seems their children they would let die. O save us from such destructive pride that we might love one another as ourselves, as you love us in your Son.
Sun, 28 October 2018
(Eph.4:32-5:8; Ps.1:1-4,6,Eph.5:1; Lk.13:10-17)
“There was a time when you were darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, remember always that “God has forgiven you in Christ.” Once you “walk[ed] in the way of sinners,” but now you are as he who “delights in the law of the Lord.” And so as God has shown His mercy to you, so should you do unto others; we must “be imitators of God as His dear children.” As when Jesus saw the woman who “was badly stooped – quite incapable of standing erect,” for eighteen years afflicted by her infirmity, He had pity for her, called her to Him and “laid His hand on her” so that “immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God”… so should our hearts go out to all those in need, all those afflicted by infirmity and sin, that all might be as well as we have become, that all might praise God as we do.
“Make no mistake about this: no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person – in effect an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Brothers and sisters, how many of us have been guilty of the deadly sins of which Paul speaks today? (And if not these, what others?) How many of us have deserved to be barred from the kingdom? In truth we must say that all of us have fallen short of God’s glory and found ourselves in desperate need of the salvation only Christ brings. And so should we hold out no hope for those who commit such sins now, who are as we have been? Certainly “there are sins that bring God’s wrath down on the disobedient” and put them in danger of dying; but do we instruct these to “have nothing to do with them,” do we offer light to those in such darkness… or do we presume their condemnation?
The Lord left not the stooped woman in Satan’s clutches, despite the “indignant” attitude of the leaders of the synagogue – whose own inability to stand erect is so much more difficult to cure. No, the Lord saw a soul in need and reached His hand out to her; and should we not do the same with those we see suffering affliction, if not with a healing touch of our hand at least with the healing touch of devout prayer? The well-being of others must always be our concern. We must ever “be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving.” For if our hearts stoop to jealousy and judgment as does the leader of the synagogue’s, what hope shall there be for us then of entering God’s kingdom? We must ever be children of light, dispelling all darkness, if we are truly to be the “dear children” of our Lord.
O LORD, let us stand up straight before you,
turning from sin and walking in your way at all times.
YHWH, let us be as your dear children, kind and compassionate toward others, ever reflecting your glory. Let there be no sin among us, not even the whispering desire for sin. Let us live as your children of light – banish all darkness from us.
Help us to walk in your way, O LORD, to be well instructed in your paths; for there are many who wander aimlessly and are easily subject to Satan’s wiles. Let us be taught as the Jews of Jesus’ day and listen with attentive hearts to His words. Indeed, like Him let us become, like a tree planted near the running water of the Spirit, and we shall prosper all our days, ever bearing fruit in your NAME.
Make clear to all, O LORD, that sin is sin, that the idolatry of lust is a turning from you and the light of your truth and the love of your heart. Keep us from certain death, from the counsel of the wicked, delighting only in your Law day and night.
Sat, 27 October 2018
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.
Sat, 27 October 2018
(Jer.31:7-9; Ps.126:1-6; Heb.5:1-6; Mk.10:46-52)
“They departed in tears,
but I will console them and guide them.”
Through Jeremiah the Lord prophesies that His people Israel “shall return as an immense throng,” that He will “gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst.” And in our gospel we see Jesus “leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd,” picking up the blind Bartimaeus along the way. How the Lord fulfills the ancient prophecies. And now Jesus stands as our high priest in heaven, “offer[ing] gifts and sacrifices for sins,” bringing all by His cross to the kingdom of God.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Brothers and sisters, we are all like the blind Bartimaeus, sitting “by the roadside begging,” calling out to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance, saying to Him as He calls us before Himself, “Master, I want to see.” How blind we all are, how deaf and how lame. How we need our vision renewed by the Lord of all, that indeed we might see as He sees, with a purity beyond the scope of our race, to penetrate the mysteries which shroud us like the blind man’s cloak in this life. We must throw off the darkness, cast aside the shroud of death that weighs upon our shoulders by our sins and take upon ourselves the cross of Christ and walk with Him “on the way,” on the road to the New Jerusalem. How shall we know the “brooks of water” which satiate our thirst, “the torrents in the southern desert” that cleanse our arid souls and bring them to life once more, except by the tears we cry, except with hearts reaching out and voices reaching up to Him who is so far above our ways? In His way alone we will find the “level road” on which “none shall stumble.” Only by this cry will we know the graces our high priest offers all our lives.
“Although [we] go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, [we] shall come back rejoicing, carrying [our] sheaves.” For the Lord shall not forget us; He will not pass us by and leave us in our tears alone. But through our tears we shall see His holy light descend like a dove of peace upon our souls. Yes, we shall see; our eyes will be opened and our path will be set. And He shall guide us every step of our way. And “our mouth [will be] filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing” on that holy Day. Praise our merciful God!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us follow Jesus on the way to the Cross
that we might follow Him to Heaven.
YHWH, in Jesus your Son we are returned to sonship with you; we who had been exiled because of our sins are brought back to your presence, and as a Father you embrace us and open our eyes to see your glory.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD. In tears we come before you, to your Son we cry out for mercy, and He cannot but hear and answer our call, He cannot but call us before Himself and grant the desire of our heart. O let us have the faith needed to believe in Him and so find the blessing only He holds.
Jesus, you are our high priest, you are Son of David and Son of God. Let us run to you for healing of our blindness and lameness that we might see you and follow you along the way to the New Jerusalem. In the peace of the Father let us rest, in the joy of our salvation.
With all your saints let us enter your gates, O Father in Heaven, by the grace that comes to us in your only Son.
Fri, 26 October 2018
(Eph.4:7-16; Ps.122:1-5; Lk.13:1-9)
“Each of us has received God’s favor
in the measure in which Christ bestows it.”
Paul reminds us today of Scripture: “When He ascended on high, He took a host of captives and gave gifts to men.” Christ Himself “descended into the lower regions of the earth,” coming to the place where we lowly humans dwell, and then “ascended into heaven, that He might fill all men with His gifts,” that those to whom He comes here on earth might know the riches of heaven to which He draws us all.
“It is He who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in roles of service for the faithful to build up the body of Christ.” Yes, He gave us these leaders such as Paul to guide us to all truth, but He no less has given us each a share of His heavenly glory and bestowed upon each of us the gifts that are our portion from Him. None is without gifts, and none can fail to employ these gifts. It is necessary that the Body of Christ has “the proper functioning of [its] members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament” if it is to grow in love as it is called to do. All our gifts must be employed to the full; each must fulfill his role.
The Lord makes clear the call upon each of our souls to utilize the gifts He grants to each of His members. Listen to the words of the vinedresser in His parable: “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree and found none.” Who is that vinedresser but Jesus Himself and who is that fig tree but we who claim to be His disciples? And finding no fruit on the fig tree, what does the vinedresser say? “Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?” Why indeed should we drag down the Body of Christ struggling to grow in love in this world; if we are dead members, what place have we in His kingdom? And unless we reform in the short time we are given, what shall become of our souls?
Brothers and sisters, do we not wish to “go up to the house of the Lord,” to rejoice in the heavenly Jerusalem, to “form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature”? Then our tree must bear fruit in His name and serve to build up the Body in love; “if not, it shall be cut down,” and we shall be separated from the glorious presence of the Lord. See the great graces and gifts the Lord showers upon you; pray for their fulfillment, for their growing more and more – “profess the truth in love” and the favors you have been given will bear their fruit, for your benefit and that of the whole world.
O LORD, let us not be cut down
but built up as the Body of your Son.
YHWH, let us make our home in you; in the Body of your Son let us find our place. In your holy Church may we ever dwell, bearing fruit in your NAME. To full maturity let us come, in Jesus who has come to us.
O LORD, in your House let us rejoice; let us find our peace in the New Jerusalem. Within Her gates we are safe from every false doctrine, from every whim and fancy of man. For divine wisdom rests in Her whom the Christ has formed by His own hands, in His own blood. Since He has founded the Church and its servants, it is He who lives in it with you.
But we must leave behind our sin if we are to find such perfection in Him. We must reform our lives if we are to be made in the image of Christ your Son. O LORD, let our lives not be empty; let us not come to a sudden end… May we please you by our repentance and know your blessings upon us this day. Let your Church and all its members grow and bear fruit in Jesus’ Name.
Thu, 25 October 2018
(Eph.4:1-6; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.12:54-59)
“Make every effort to preserve the unity
which has the Spirit as its origin
and peace as its binding force.”
Is this not what Jesus instructs the crowds in saying, “When you are going with your opponent to appear before a magistrate, try to settle with him on the way”? Do not both Paul and Jesus speak of the love we must have one for another, even for those who may seem our enemies? Again, in the House of God there is unity, there is peace. Among His children there should be understanding, there should be grace. We must make every effort to have no enemies – to hate no one, to bear no grudge against any – in this life or the next.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to live as one, “bearing with one another lovingly,” for “there is but one body and one Spirit” in Christ; “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” which we all share, and so we should live as children of the “one God and Father of all.” On our oneness in the Lord our hearts should be set, and nothing should disturb the peace we find in Him. We see so many other things, we understand so much of the world and its ways… why do we not understand this? Why do we not know and practice God’s way?
“The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” This David tells us: all are one under the Lord God. But only those “whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” “may stand in His holy place.” We cannot “ascend the mountain of the Lord” if we are not made perfect as He. And so the Lord warns us of the necessity of settling all our accounts here, now, while there is time – while we yet have breath and eyes to see – lest we come to the judge at the end of time with the darkness of sin upon our soul. Now is His mercy offered forth, and we are called in turn to offer it freely to others. Then will be grave punishment for sin, for failures to love and maintain unity.
“A blessing from the Lord” awaits us all. He “that seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall receive his reward. Even now the Spirit of the Lord grants us a foretaste of such grace. But we must be ever diligent to maintain it. We must be ever ready to forgive one another if we are to remain in Him. And so I ask: forgive me, brother; forgive me, sister, any wrong I have done you… and be assured of my forgiveness.
O LORD, help us to stand in your holy place,
as reflections of your peace and your love for all.
YHWH, you are LORD of Heaven and earth and all is under your watchful care. We are in you and in your Son and have your one Spirit at our heart’s core. Let us live in peace! Let us live as your children, holy as you are.
If we maintain not humility and peace in our souls, can we be said to be your own? O LORD, if we settle not with our opponent here on this earth, how can we come unto your heavenly presence? There can be no anger or hatred in us; indeed, our hands must be sinless if we are to enter your eternal kingdom and make our home in you.
And so, dear LORD, help us to forgive one another, to love all as you love them – let us be the race that seeks ever your holy face and never turn aside from such desire for utter love in your presence. Forgive all those who sin against us, and please let us be forgiven in your sight.
Wed, 24 October 2018
“Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?”
Strong contrast we find in our readings today. Jesus speaks of the division He has come to bring by the fire of truth He lights on this earth – fire like a sword separating even the closest of family members one from another; whereas Paul speaks of “the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of Christ’s love” and the great oneness found in “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” How does one reconcile this apparent contradiction? Is the Lord of peace or division?
Brothers and sisters, there is no contradiction here. Paul speaks of the “glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus” which exists “through all generations” and which we share “with all the holy ones” for whom “charity [is] the root and foundation of [their] life.” As our psalmist proclaims, “Happy the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance.” In the House of God is peace. In His Church is the oneness of perfect love, and all its members “experience this love which surpasses all knowledge” and “attain to the fullness of God Himself.”
Then whence the division the Lord emphasizes? The division exists here on earth, as He Himself states. When the light of truth comes up against the darkness that is this world, when the holy ones of God meet up with the children of this evil age, there is necessarily division. Despite the best efforts of the just to bring peace to all, how often is our offering of peace rejected – how frequently is Christ nailed to the cross. So, though we yet hold love for all as the disciples of our living Lord, it cannot but be that many will cling to darkness and so find an enemy in the light. And thus division comes. Though in heaven and in the Church there is nothing but peace, the world breeds only division.
Brothers and sisters, “may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith.” “May [the Father] strengthen you inwardly through the workings of His Spirit” as you undergo the anguish of the baptism His Son has known. May He keep you in peace and “bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of His glory.” For soon division will be gone and His peace will be all that is known.
O LORD, how your love separates
the evil from the good! –
may we know the fullness of your love
at work in our lives.
YHWH, great is your glory, far above the ways of men – how can we grasp this surpassing knowledge, how can we know your all-encompassing love? Though you dwell beyond our reach, in your kindness you stoop down to us, to share with us the great riches of your glory.
And so, what should we do but praise your NAME? What should we do but thank you in song? For you have looked upon us in our lowliness and delivered us from death and sin, and made us one with all your holy ones in your eternal kingdom.
But what of those who reject you, LORD? What of those who spurn your love, who desire not the peace which surpasses understanding? What can they do but fight against your Church? And those may be of our own family. Then where are we? How shall there be peace on this earth among those who despise your gifts? Give us strength to share in the baptism of your Son, in the fire we must endure on our way to Heaven; help us to conquer all division and stand always with you.
Tue, 23 October 2018
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.
Tue, 23 October 2018
(Eph.3:2-12; Is.12:2-6; Lk.12:39-48)
“When much has been given a man,
much will be required of him.”
Yes, “more will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted,” and today we see two of the men to whom the most has been entrusted. First, of course, is Peter, who queries the Lord and to whom the Lord addresses His question, “Who in your opinion is that faithful, farsighted steward whom the master will set over his servants to dispense their ration of grain in season?” knowing full well it is to the blessed Rock of His Church He speaks. And Paul tells us how “through the gift God in His goodness bestowed on [him] through the exercise of His power, [he] became a minister of the Gospel.” Paul has been “given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to enlighten all men on the mysterious design which for ages was hidden in God, the Creator of all.” The Rock of the Church and its great Apostle – how much has been entrusted to these two men!
And what has been entrusted to these is entrusted to all who follow in their wake, to all “the holy apostles and prophets” to whom “the mystery of Christ” is “revealed by the Spirit.” And so the same responsibility is upon them as well. The Lord has promised, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,” and how can the faithful find such life-giving water if the Lord’s priests and preachers do not offer it forth freely as it has been given them? If they withhold the children’s food and their tongues cleave to the roofs of their mouths, how shall the Church be fed, how shall she be instructed in the way she should walk? If the guardians of the truth are not vigilant, but rather begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk,” feeding only themselves, their own bellies… what shall become of the Body of Christ? And what shall become of those who have allowed the Lord’s House to be broken into?
“Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth”: that “God indeed is [our] Savior,” and all are called unto Him. Brothers and sisters, we all share in the priesthood of Peter and the evangelical ministry of Paul, and so, “drawing near Him with confidence,” we must all “among the nations make known [the Lord’s] deeds.” All have been given a measure of the Lord’s grace and power, and all are responsible for fulfilling the “master’s wishes” with regard to our call. This is our gift from God, to share in His work of service, in His cross. Let us embrace it as readily as have Peter and Paul.
O LORD, may we all be faithful stewards
of your manifold gifts
and find our salvation in your Son.
YHWH, you are in our midst and you call us all to your work, to service of your Church in your holy NAME. Through your Son Jesus Christ we all may share in your manifold wisdom, in the salvation to glory wrought by His blood… Let us give thanks to you and acclaim your NAME, serving you faithfully all our days.
LORD, it should be our joy to serve you; it should be our very food. What greater gift could we hope for than to share in your promise and in your blessed ministry with Peter and Paul? One are we in your Body, in the flesh of your Son, and freely may we come to you now with all our petitions and find you ready to answer our plea – what blessing is ours by your grace!
Let us draw water at the fountain of salvation, LORD; let us drink freely of the glory you offer forth. Remaining ever faithful to your will, let us draw ever closer to you, till we sing your praises forever in your kingdom.
Mon, 22 October 2018
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.
Mon, 22 October 2018
(Eph.2:12-22; Ps.85:9-14; Lk.12:35-38)
“You who were once far off
have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”
We who “were excluded from the community of Israel,” who were not of His chosen people upon whom His Spirit rested and so were “without hope and without God in the world,” now are “fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God” by the great grace of the cross of Christ. Now, “in Him [we] are being built into this temple”; now all “have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
“He came and ‘announced the good news of peace to you who were far off, and to those who were near” – to us who were far off, we of the nations apart from “the covenant and the promise,” that the promise might be ours as well; but also to those who were near, those to whom the covenant had been given. For those who were near were also far off; they too were blind to His presence in their midst and needed their eyes opened by the living Christ. For though the word and the sacrifice were at their hands, far was He from their hearts, and so the blessed coming of the Messiah is for these, of course, as well. He came, in fact, for them first of all.
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Gentile or Jew, it does not matter. Now there is but one race: Christian. Now there is but one Savior for all. For now indeed there is “glory dwelling in our land,” and any who come to it become children of its light and are fitted into the House of the Lord. “He proclaims peace” now unto all, that all might know “His benefits.”
And are we ready for His coming again? Do we heed our Lord’s exhortation in our gospel today? Do we serve Him constantly, ever keeping a place for Him in our hearts and at our tables, that when He comes the great promise He makes to His servants – “He will put on an apron, seat them at table, and proceed to wait on them” – we will know? Will we be gathered into His heart and His home? Brothers and sisters, “become a dwelling for God in the Spirit.” Realize the blessing that is ours now through the cross. If under its blessed shade we take refuge, if we heed the call to come from our former residences so distant from Him and draw near to the love of the Lord, then already we will sense “the master’s return” upon us, and holy light it will bring to our souls.
O LORD, let us be built into your Temple
and become your dwelling place in the Spirit –
your light in our eyes, your peace in our souls,
your love in our hearts at all times.
YHWH, let us be prepared for the second coming of your Son; may the blood He shed make us one with you and with one another, that in peace we might wait for His return, that in your Spirit we might dwell even this day. As your holy temple let us be, that we might know your call in our souls and do your will in all things.
You look down upon us in kindness, LORD, and so your Son you have sent. He is Truth walking among us, leading us on the way of peace. And so, your benefits we may know; our work may yield its increase – our lives may be made worthy of your coming kingdom.
O LORD, let our eyes be open, looking for your Son’s return; let our hearts be set on the promise He leaves us. O let Him freely enter our homes and we be fed by His hand alone – please let us be joined to your saints in Heaven, forming one House in your NAME.
Sun, 21 October 2018
(Eph.2:1-10; Ps.100:2-5; Lk.12:13-21)
“It is owing to His favor that salvation is yours through faith.
This is not your own doing, it is God’s gift.”
Brothers and sisters, salvation is no “reward for anything [we] have accomplished.” It is nothing we make by our own hands, but comes only by God’s “kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
“God is rich in mercy.” Here is the great truth; this is our great hope: “Because of His great love for us He brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin.” By our own hands we had but built up our condemnation and so “deserved God’s wrath.” Like the foolish rich man, we thought we could take our refuge in the things of this earth, that in them we would “have blessings in reserve for years to come.” But however much we “pull down [our] grain bins and build larger ones,” filling them with all the “grain” and “goods” of the world, we yet will have nothing; yet will we be empty and in need. For our life is in His hands alone. “He made us” and not we ourselves; “we are truly His handiwork,” and so, dependent on Him for all things. And if not for His mercy we would yet be dead in our sin.
Brothers and sisters, we must not “live at the level of the flesh”; we cannot give our “allegiance to the present age and the prince of the air” and remain in the favor of God. “Following every whim and fancy of our own” will but lead us down a dark road, and all the “piled-up wealth” we can amass will give us no light for the night ahead. Truly we must realize that we are “created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.” Now that by His mercy He has saved us, has lifted us from the mire into which we’d sunk, it is ours to “serve the Lord with gladness” and “come before Him with joyful song.”
“In Christ Jesus [God] raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens, that in the ages to come He might display the great wealth of His favor.” And should we not but accept this gift from Him “whose kindness endures forever”? Should we not humble ourselves before our Holy Lord and “enter His gates with thanksgiving”? All He requires of our souls is to accept the salvation He brings us, and to grow “rich in the sight of God.”
O LORD, make us rich in your sight;
by the favor you have granted us
through the salvation wrought in Christ Jesus,
remake us in your image.
YHWH, you made us and have remade us in the image of your Son who has died for us that we might be dead in sin no more. Let us praise the great favor from you and live always according to your Word.
We have accomplished nothing, LORD, nothing but our own condemnation, nothing but distraction from you as we turn to the flesh and riches of this world. As to the evil spirit we give our allegiance, we find your wrath upon us; we find the death we have wrought by sin.
But you are merciful, LORD, and call us through your Son to salvation from this darkness that has enveloped our souls. You would indeed remake us in Christ; He would indeed restore us to our former glory and carry us to your kingdom. O let us not set our hearts on the riches of this earth but seek only the grace that comes to us at your hands, in His blood. Let us enter your courts with songs of praise this day.
Sat, 20 October 2018
(Is.53:10-11; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; Heb.4:14-16; Mk.10:35-45)
“We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God.”
And this is He who is both priest and victim, for “He gives His life as an offering for sin” – He Himself is our sacrifice. Here is one who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses… one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Here is He who has suffered the affliction of our fallen state but to raise us up with Himself from the mire, from the lowly condition we have come to know as our own. Here is He who “give[s] His life as a ransom for many.”
But why? Why is the Lord “pleased to crush Him in His infirmity”? Why is our high priest so humbled in the sight of all? Why is there such suffering in the world…? Why need you ask? Why need you question the will of God? Do you not believe that “upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy”? Do you not realize that the Lord looks with kindness upon all “those who fear Him… to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine”? Do you trust your own eyes more than the vision of God?
But if you must know, the Lord God tells you, “Through His suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt He shall bear.” If you must inquire, hear that it is for your sin there is suffering in the world and the Lord and His followers must carry the cross. You need look no further than the blood on your hands… But seeing this, do not fear – rejoice. Rejoice, for now we may “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Now the Savior does “lord it over” us by His sacrifice. Now this “slave of all” has “authority over [us]” by the suffering He has undergone. And now we must join Him on this cross.
“The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” – His words to James and John are spoken to us all. Glorious is the sacrifice to which we are called. For He who is both priest and victim would now lift us with Himself through the veil of pain to the holy heavens, that knowing the fruit of “His affliction,” with Him all might “see the light in fullness of days.”
“Our soul waits for the Lord”; it suffers with Him. And it is not disappointed by the sacrifice it shares.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (2nd half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, He who is slave of all,
He who has shed His blood to save our souls –
with Him let us be one.
YHWH, your Son has given His life as a ransom for sin, that we might approach the throne of grace and find mercy, and find the blessing of your kindness upon our souls. He has borne our guilt, and so from it we are freed. But we must bear the Cross with Him if we are to find our way to Heaven.
This is the greatest grace, is it not, O LORD – that we are called to share in the suffering of your Son, to drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism? We are called to serve as He has served, to give our lives with Him, and so to come to the place He has come, to your right hand in the kingdom. O if we could only be as slaves of all!
By His death He has ransomed many. Sharing in our weakness, suffering for our sakes – bearing His affliction, He shall see the light in fullness of days. And we poor souls who trust in Him find our hope fulfilled, dear LORD, in that same light of your face.
Fri, 19 October 2018
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.
Fri, 19 October 2018
(Eph.1:15-23; Ps.8:2-7; Lk.12:8-12)
“Whoever acknowledges me before men –
the Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
We are only very small, less than a speck of dust in the eyes of God. Beholding His heavens, “the moon and the stars which [He] set in place,” should we not cry out to God with David in our psalm: “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” Truly we are but miserable creatures. And yet the Lord of all has deigned to make man “little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor”; and yet through Jesus Christ He raises him up to His heavens.
How like the acknowledgment the Lord promises is Paul’s acknowledgment of the Ephesians: “I have never stopped thanking God for you and recommending you in my prayers.” For their “faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all the members of the Church,” rightly do they gain honor from the Lord’s Apostle, and from the Lord Himself. And all who are like them shall know “the wealth of glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the Church.” “Like the strength [God] showed in raising Christ from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in heaven,” so will be the strength and grace Jesus shows in raising us up to be one with Him and His Father among the angels of heaven.
“He has put all things under Christ’s feet and made Him head of the Church, which is His body.” And all who acknowledge His greatness, all who serve the Lord and His members, become part of “the fullness of Him who fills the universe in all its parts.” Indeed they will be lifted up with Him who is “high above every principality, power, virtue, and domination, and every name that can be given in this age or in the age to come.” For the body shares in the blessing of its head; the oil poured upon our Lord flows down upon all His members through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And, yes, the Spirit is with us, brothers and sisters, defending us always and teaching us at every moment just what we need to do and say, if we have but faith. He gives us all the “wisdom and insight” we need to know the greatness of our call in Him and to accomplish all His works, if we but call upon the Lord’s Name. Acknowledge Him always in all you do; be among the “babes and sucklings” who praise His majesty and glory, and His blessing you shall know to the depths of your soul, and the heights of heaven.
O LORD, let your Spirit be upon us to speak in us
and work through us always.
YHWH, teach us by the Spirit all we should say and do; may He enlighten our innermost vision that we may know the great hope to which you call us. How great is your power in us who believe! To what glory we are led by the Spirit! For we are thus joined to your Son who has all power in Heaven and on earth – members of His Body do we become.
You have put all things under Christ’s feet, dear LORD, crowning Him with your own glory and honor. And as you have raised Him from the dead and seated Him at your right hand in Heaven, so you will raise us up with Him whose Name is above all names. And so, what should we do but praise you and honor you with all our lives.
O LORD, let us indeed acknowledge your Son here where we stand, before all men, that He might indeed acknowledge us before your angels and they might lift us to your presence at His command. Glory to you forever!
Thu, 18 October 2018
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
Thu, 18 October 2018
(Eph.1:11-14; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,12-13; Lk.12:1-7)
“What you have whispered in locked rooms
will be proclaimed from the housetops.”
What we have whispered and what has been whispered to us, the teaching of the Lord, the truth of the Spirit, is destined to grow unto praise of God – to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. What begins here in a small way in Jesus the Messiah, shall proceed in His disciples to all nations. In the dark, first it is but whispered. It sinks deep into the locked rooms of our guarded hearts. There the truth finds a home, takes root, and grows. And all the world shall know… All the world shall know all that is spoken in your heart.
Brothers and sisters, “when you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit who had been promised.” In Him and in His truth whispering in your heart you found “the pledge of our inheritance, the first payment against the full redemption of a people God has made His own to praise His glory.” Though a tiny spark at first, concealed in the dark, this flame has burned intensely, and now becomes the fire of praise unto God. “We were predestined to praise His glory”; this was the Lord’s desire from the first moment He touched us with His Word. And now His plan must be fulfilled.
As Jesus looks about in our gospel and sees “a crowd of thousands had gathered, so dense that they were treading on one another,” He realizes how the flame has already begun to grow. And so He warns His disciples to be true to the Word He has labored to plant in their minds and hearts and souls. He knows that they will be tempted by “the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” that they may be inclined to speak what will tickle the public’s ear in order to gain their approval and support. Thus does He say, “Do not be afraid”: do not be afraid of what the truth may bring or that you might be killed for speaking it. Remain true to what I have whispered to you in our locked rooms, for the Word must go out to the ends of the earth. Their mission upon them, He calls His friends to fulfill it.
And so let all our voices resound with the praise of God who has saved us, for “praise from the upright is fitting.” “Exult, you just, in the Lord… for upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy.” Now all must know that “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full,” so fail not to “chant His praises,” to proclaim His truth to all the world. It is here we are called to do so.
O LORD, let us not fear to praise your glory
before all the world.
YHWH, we are called through your Son to declare your glory, to sing your praises in the light of this day. May we in faith and sincerity fulfill this call and come at last into your kingdom.
You are our LORD, you are our God, and all things are known to your eyes. Life and death are in your hands, and only in you do we find the promise of the Holy Spirit fulfilled – only in you and by your Son will we inherit eternal glory. Let us be your true disciples that, though we die for your cause, we may ever have life in you.
Praise you, LORD, for your goodness to us, for your watching over us and providing your Son to save us and your Spirit to lead us to your glory. Let the truth you have spoken in the depths of our hearts be proclaimed openly to the ears of all men that the devil may be overcome and all your poor sparrows find their home in you.
Wed, 17 October 2018
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.
Wed, 17 October 2018
(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.
Tue, 16 October 2018
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.
Tue, 16 October 2018
(Gal.5:18-25; Ps.1:1-4,6,Jn.8:12; Lk.11:42-46)
“Since we live by the spirit,
let us follow the spirit’s lead.”
“Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent”; these indeed follow not the spirit’s lead but the dictates of the flesh. And all their “licentiousness” and “drunkenness,” all their “hostilities” and “envy,” shall but lead to their doom. For “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!” When they die – as already they are dead – the grave alone shall be their home, with the tortures that are found there. But “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” and so know the “fruit of the spirit” and not the flesh. “Love, joy, peace” and all the precious gifts are theirs in this life, and shall remain with them forever. The Spirit leads us to such blessing.
As for the Pharisees in our gospel today, they prove themselves children of the flesh and not the spirit, for though they “pay tithes on mint and rue and all the garden plants,” though they are so careful about the details of the letter of the law, their worship is in vain for they do all “while neglecting justice and the love of God,” thus tearing out the very heart of the law of God they presume to follow. And so their path is the one which leads but to the grave. They clearly are even now dead, “like hidden tombs over which men walk unawares.” Here are “the insolent” the just must avoid. Here are those who build pretense of holiness but have nothing of the spirit inside. And so their decaying souls shall crumble from within, and “like chaff which the wind drives away,” so shall their remains be scattered like dust by the truth of the Spirit, which exposes and destroys all lies.
“The way of the wicked vanishes,” brothers and sisters. It cannot stand, for there is no foundation, there is no truth on which it rests. It is but empty, illusory, passing. But we who claim to be sons and daughters of the living God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and following the lead of the Holy Spirit, must have nothing to do with the fruits of this way. Our worship must be true, must be genuine, must be that in which the flesh is crucified and the spirit allowed to breathe, that none of us will be crushed under the burden of sin but all be set free to walk in liberty now and forever.
O LORD, let us not be counted among the wicked
but have your love and your truth burning in our souls.
YHWH, let our worship be genuine, let our hearts be set on love of you. Let us follow the Spirit’s lead; your way of truth be our own this day. Meditating on your Law, let us live it and bear its fruit.
Apart from you let us never be, O LORD, never separated from your love. Crucified let our passions be, that we shall share in new life with your only Son. Your joy and peace be with us always; keep us forever from jealousy and outbursts of rage. In the Spirit let us make our home, never turning to what comes of the flesh.
Far from the paths of the wicked please keep us, LORD, that we shall not live our lives in vain; day and night let us think of you, and we shall be ever blessed. O that we might bear your fruit all our days, that our leaves might never fade… Keep us always close to you by your chastising word of truth. Then the water of your Spirit will nourish us well and our sin will be known no more.
Mon, 15 October 2018
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.
Mon, 15 October 2018
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.
Mon, 15 October 2018
(Gal.5:1-6; Ps.119:41,43-45,47-48; Lk.11:37-41)
“Any of you who seek your justification in the law
have severed yourselves from Christ
and fallen from God’s favor!”
Brothers and sisters, “it is in the Spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only faith can yield it.” The works prescribed under the testament of old have had their day and their time is passed. Circumcision, the central act of the law, along with the temple and its sacrifices, has been rendered useless. Physically there may yet be benefit to this practice, and so it is employed widely, but spiritually it is now without merit. All that is of the old law has been subsumed by the new, and to set our hearts on what is now dead will leave us but as empty and dead ourselves.
Now there is baptism in the name of the Lord. Now there is Jesus and His Body, the Church. Now there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With these in our midst all else pales, for these are set upon the Rock of eternal life; these are founded in the Spirit which does not pass, nor can be destroyed – and these are known only by faith. Truly, “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself in love.” Now that love has overcome the law, now that it has fulfilled it, why should we be concerned with the cutting of flesh? It is our hearts that must be circumcised.
What is inside is what matters. Jesus has said this repeatedly and He declares it again today to the Pharisee who is so preoccupied with physical washing, with the need to “cleanse the outside of the cup and dish.” This is slavery! Indeed it is born of an attachment to the things of this earth and places our neck under its yoke. If we do not “give what [we] have as alms,” if we do not open our hearts to love of the Lord and love of neighbor, all the scouring of our skin will be utterly useless – in this way we shall never touch our souls. We must have love, we must have faith, and do the outside things only as necessary.
“Let your kindness come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise.” Though I am no longer under the law of old, yet I see how weak I am, how reliant on the works of faith, and how ignorant and blind to your presence I can become. And so I pray that you “take not the word of truth from my mouth.” I pray you enter my house and recline at my table, and that my heart will be set on love of you above all… and that all things else will but serve this love. Let me not fall from your favor, from your love.
O LORD, help us to cleanse the inside of the cup
that by faith and love
we shall come to new life in the Spirit.
YHWH, you call us to love what is within, where you live, where you make your home. But we are distracted by what is without, so shallow is our vision. Help us to see as you see, to desire what is in your heart. Then truly we shall be set free to walk as your sons.
O living God, your love instill within our souls; your truth alone let us speak. Let us not be concerned with the works of the law, with the cutting of flesh and the washing of hands, but with the accomplishment of your will. And so, to save ourselves from such empty worship, let us give all things to you.
If we had but faith, O LORD, then our vision would be clear, our hearts would be set on you alone, and all things would be ours. Let us but seek our salvation in the keeping of your Word, and you will care for all else. Make us clean in your sight!
Sun, 14 October 2018
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.
Sun, 14 October 2018
(Gal.4:22-24,26-27,31-5:1; Ps.113:1-7; Lk.11:29-32)
“At the judgment, the citizens of Nineveh
will rise along with the present generation,
and they will condemn it.”
Paul’s words to the Galatians today sound much like a parable: “Abraham had two sons, one by the slave girl, the other by his freeborn wife.” He himself states pointedly, “All this is clearly an allegory: the two women stand for the two covenants.” But though Hagar may be seen as the mother of all “children [born] to slavery” and Sarah may be compared to “the Jerusalem on high,” which is free, the allegorical significance notwithstanding, both Hagar and Sarah were flesh and blood human beings who walked the face of the earth along with the father of their children, Abraham. So, though the life of anyone may be seen in an allegorical light, it does not mean the life itself is but an allegory.
And yet the scholars of our day would turn the life of Jonah into a mere allegory – as they would, it seems, with Jesus. They say that Jonah did not exist, that the book written of him is but a story, a parable. And so they say that the Lord would compare Himself to a parabolic figure: “Just as Jonah was a sign for the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be a sign for the present age.” And so they say we will be judged by fictional characters.
The Lord’s words remain ever true: “This is an evil age.” It is given a sign, the greatest of signs, and it denies it. It seeks further sign with a heart only to deny once more. Why? Because it has no faith. And without faith one cannot reason; without faith one can see nothing. Truth remains ever hidden from one’s eyes. And so those with empty minds stumble blindly through their theorems, the products of a diseased imagination. And so those without faith seek at every turn to tear down the faith, which ever eludes their clawing grasp. But they shall be judged. What shock will be theirs when the ones they have sought so vainly to make into fictional characters stand before them to condemn them to death. Perhaps then they will see. Perhaps then there will be an end to “the yoke of slavery” they would place upon the “freeborn” children of God.
Beware the faithless soul, dear children. Remember only, “From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised.” Indeed, “high above the nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory,” and He shall lift you “lowly from the dust” to be with Him. As He tears down those who exalt themselves and reveals their children to be so vain, then He will bring your fruits to light and you will bear many. The works of all will be exposed on that Day.
O LORD, how great you are
and how great is your gift to us,
for your Son has freed us to walk with Him –
let us repent at His word.
YHWH, we are your freeborn children for whom your Son has died; in Him we find new life. In the blood of Jesus is found the New Covenant, a covenant which unites us with you in glory.
Praise you, LORD, for such a great gift! Thank you for the grace that comes to us, your once wayward sons. Though we have been barren of children, empty of any fruit as we wandered far from you outside the walls of Jerusalem, yet you have looked upon us with mercy and called us to your side. Help us to reform our lives that the fullness of your gracious gift might be known to us on the Day your Son returns to judge all souls.
Yes, LORD, the lowly ones you raise from the dust to sit with you in heavenly places, to know your great blessings in the kingdom on high. Free our souls to praise you for your glory. Set free from slavery to sin we shall share in the joy of the New Jerusalem and declare your wonders forever.
Sat, 13 October 2018
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.
Sat, 13 October 2018
(Wis.7:7-11; Ps.90:12-17; Heb.4:12-13; Mk.10:17-30)
“The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword.”
“Penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart… everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.” Here is His Spirit of Wisdom, whose “splendor… never yields to sleep,” who has “countless riches at her hands.” It is this penetrating Wisdom we must pray to be with us, if we are to save our immortal souls. Without her nothing has any worth at all.
How shall we “number our days aright” and “gain wisdom of heart”? How shall we walk the road the Lord leads us upon and find His “gracious care” to “prosper the work of our hands”? How shall we avoid the emptiness the riches of this world inevitably bring and acquire the conviction needed to follow the Lord? The allure of gold, of mammon, is so great, is so easy to set our hearts upon – how shall we hear what the Lord says in love to the man who falls on his knees before Him: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven”? How shall we give up house and family and lands all “for [His] sake and for the sake of the Gospel” to find “a hundred times more” these things, “with persecutions, and eternal life in heaven”? Only by the Wisdom that comes from God, never by the thoughts of our own heart.
Clearly the disciples do not yet understand this or they would not ask with such amazement, “Then who can be saved?” when told of the difficulties riches bring. For still, though not for long, their hearts are set on the things of this earth, and still they judge with a worldly eye. The vision that comes of the pure light of Wisdom will not be theirs until the flame of the Holy Spirit burns in their souls. Then their own spirits will be one with the Lord and they will be able to discern that “all gold, in view of her, is a little sand.” Then the length and breadth and depth of their mission they will comprehend.
Let the word of God be heard by all, spoken by all His prophets and priests. Let it pierce many hearts, that some may be saved by the grace that enters where it bleeds. Here is the only way to life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "In Your Eyes" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, do we desire life with you,
or the riches of this world?
YHWH, your Son stands in our midst looking at us with love. To Himself He calls us that we might enter the kingdom. And who would not follow? What riches of this age are greater than the divine riches He offers? What else could we need if we have eternal life? With Him is true wisdom; let us give up all to follow in His way.
O LORD, all gold is as a little dust to the one who has been blessed to see with your eyes, to the one who has been graced with your Wisdom. Though it be painful to stand in your light and be pierced by your sword, what glory it brings to your children! Your truth upon our souls, we have all the food we need.
And so, what can persecutions bring us but greater joy? What can we lose in your Name that we will not regain a hundred times over? All things are in your hands, O LORD, and we live in your eyes. Pierce us with your Wisdom, that we might number our days aright.
Fri, 12 October 2018
(Gal.3:22-29; Ps.105:2-8; Lk.11:27-28)
“Each of you is a son of God
because of your faith in Christ Jesus.”
Praise God! “Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” For He has come among us. Born of the womb of Israel, the Messiah is in our midst. And so we should “sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.” For now by faith in Him we live, and are truly blest.
Brothers and sisters, “before faith came we were under the restraint of the law… the law was our monitor until Christ came to bring about our justification through faith.” Under the law we lived in sin, for who could fulfill all the demands of the law? “But now that faith is here, we are no longer in the monitor’s charge.” We have found One who has fulfilled the demands of the law, and who is perfect in the eyes of God; and He makes us as Himself, as sons of the living God! And so what can we do but rejoice. We “who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have clothed [our]selves with Him.” And so we stand naked to the world no more. And so we hide no longer from the sight of God, for our sin before Him has been taken away, and with it the law.
Listen attentively to the preaching of Paul, that “there does not exist among [us] Jew or Greek,” that it is faith in the Lord that saves us all. It is the same lesson Jesus teaches in our gospel today. For “the womb that bore you” refers to Israel; it is the breasts of the Chosen that have given Him suck, that have nourished Him well – it is of them He comes. But not for this is the people blest; we cannot boast of our heritage. Rather, we shall be judged worthy of blessing only by how well we “hear the word of God and keep it,” as our Blessed Mother has done in preeminent fashion. She, as Paul, does not boast in her Jewish upbringing. She knows that it is not even for her great work of bearing the Son of God that she found favor with Him. Rather, all favor, the highest favor and grace, comes to her for the love she bears Him and the service she performs eternally in His Name… for her absolute faith.
We must “seek to serve Him constantly” as does our Blessed Mother, as does our Mother, the Church, in faith. Then truly we shall be “descendants of Abraham, His servants, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” And we shall rejoice to see His Day.
O LORD, may we hear your Word and keep it in faith,
like Abraham, like Mary,
that we might inherit eternal life in Jesus your Son.
YHWH, because of our faith in your Son, we become as your children, indeed, as He is before you. You bless all who come to you through Jesus, all who do your will. And what should we do but rejoice for such grace, for this wonder you perform in our midst.
It is Israel that bore your Son; at Mary’s breast He did suck. But it is not for this the nation is blessed, nor she who carried Him in her womb. It is your people’s obedience you seek, and so any may become as your Chosen by listening to your Word and keeping it in their hearts. As Mary let us be, LORD, giving you our lives.
All of faith are descendants of Abraham. All are blessed who are baptized in Christ. He it is who justifies us in your sight, LORD, and makes us sons of the Most High. Glory to you for the grace upon our souls in Jesus’ Name.
Thu, 11 October 2018
(Gal.3:7-14; Ps.111:1-6; Lk.11:15-26)
“All who believe are blessed along with Abraham,
the man of faith.”
But those who do not believe cannot be called “sons of Abraham,” in whom “all nations shall be blessed,” for they have not the faith of the father of many nations. For those who do not proclaim the Lord’s “renown for His wondrous deeds,” but rather say of His “gracious and merciful” acts: “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that He casts out devils,” there is only a curse. They curse themselves and scatter their own salvation to the winds by the evil thoughts of their hearts. “The reign of God is upon” them, and they say it has come from hell. Have such as these faith? Have they even eyes in their head? Then how shall they be saved? How shall they be called Abraham’s children? Rather, the devils will return to them “to find [their] house swept and tidied,” prepared by the emptiness of their hypocrisy for these to take up eternal residence there.
“He has given food to those who fear Him… He has made known to His people the power of His works.” All those of faith see that this is the Messiah and “give thanks to the Lord with all [their] heart in the company and assembly of the just.” All these are blessed. They live in a house guarded by “a strong man fully armed,” and their “possessions go undisturbed.” For the devil cannot break into the house of God, and he has no key to enter; but the Lord breaks down the doors of the evil one and all his weapons are removed from his hands. And so we are free… We are free because the Lord has redeemed us, and in His house we are protected from sin.
Brothers and sisters, the Savior has been “hanged on a tree… that through Christ Jesus the blessing bestowed on Abraham might descend on the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, thereby making it possible for us to receive the promised Spirit through faith.” This faith itself is redemptive. In this faith is the blood of Christ. It is this blood which fills our hearts and makes room there for the Holy Spirit to come in. There no devils can enter, for our doorposts have been anointed by Him. And so, what can such souls dwelling in this house of faith do but sing out with our psalmist, “Great are the works of the Lord, exquisite in all their delights”? What can we do but declare His “majesty and glory” as we see that “His justice endures forever” and His justice is founded in love? For by our faith He has made us whole; we who once grumbled against Him are now sons of Abraham. He has taken all our sin away, and it shall not return again.
O LORD, your power is only for good;
let your Spirit be with us this day through faith,
that we might be saved.
YHWH, if we have not faith, we have nothing but emptiness, and thus make a place for the devils to dwell. But if we have faith in you, your Spirit fills us, and into your house we do come. Make us temples of your Holy Spirit!
Your Son has died, O LORD, that we might have life, that we might be set free from the course sin has wrought upon our souls and enter into your kingdom as your blessed children. Why should we not believe in your love for us? Why do we doubt the salvation you provide through your Son?
Let us rather rejoice in your glory, LORD, in your goodness to us. Let us sing your praise with all the strength of our souls, thanking you with all our hearts in the assembly of your holy ones, among your saints in Heaven. To such glory you do call us, away from the darkness of this place… Let us but have faith in you and we shall be as your sons.
Wed, 10 October 2018
(Gal.3:1-5; Lk.1:69-75; Lk.11:5-13)
“I can’t get up to look after your needs.”
Does Jesus ever speak these words to us? Does He ever deny our petitions, failing to bring them to His heavenly Father? Do we ever find ourselves empty-handed when we come to Him “in the middle of the night”? Does He ever tire of serving us, of saving us from our sins? Then neither should we turn our back on our brother’s needs; neither should we fail to hear his cry and give him food.
Brothers and sisters, is it not “you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was displayed upon the cross?” Have you not seen for yourselves the miracle in which we have found “salvation from our enemies and from the hands of all our foes”? And so should you not “serve Him devoutly and through all [your] days be holy in His sight”? If we do this, if we wake in the night to answer the needs of those who call, if we make ourselves available always as does the Lord, then even as we rise from rest Jesus will be with us – in this very action we will know His salvation present in our hearts. For as we lay down our lives, as we die with Him in service of others, the light of His resurrection already becomes present to our eyes.
Though the burden is made light by the Lord, this way is not easy – but we should not tire of imitating Him. Does Paul tire of teaching and preaching the faith, of correcting his wayward children who seem so foolishly to stray? Just as the heavenly Father would never give His son “a snake if he asks for a fish, or hand him a scorpion if he asks for an egg,” so the Apostle, too, knows the needs of his flock and works constantly to feed them with the Word of God. Though it weary him no end, yet he ever pours himself out as a libation for their sakes. He is ready for heaven, ready to die and unite with God, yet he gets up in the night, yet he remains present to his children, to provide the food that is due them. And we must be the same as this Apostle.
A great assurance the Lord gives us: “Whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted.” If we “have faith in what [we] heard,” we shall indeed find “that God lavishes the Spirit on [us] and works wonders in [our] midst.” For He is faithful and forgets not His promise to us. Yes, “He has raised a horn of saving strength for us in the house of David His servant,” and our Savior is ever present to answer all our needs. But who shall carry out His Word? Who shall know the cross of Christ and its redeeming grace in their own flesh? Who shall serve Him and be thus as His children? Those who rise to look after others’ needs, they shall be bone of His bone.
O LORD, you give your Spirit
to those who have faith in you,
to those who call upon your NAME –
hear our prayer this day.
YHWH, give us this day the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us to the salvation wrought by your Son, Jesus Christ. Leave us not alone on this plane, hungry and apart from you. Help us to pray, to knock upon your door with faith, knowing it is your good pleasure to answer our needs. Then we shall serve you devoutly all our days and be holy in your sight forever.
If your Spirit is with us, LORD, there is nothing else we need, for then you, too, are with us with your only Son. And we will be founded firmly in your Church, safe from all our enemies and nourished by your Bread.
We are not able to give good things or do good works on our own, dear LORD. We need your help and guidance; we need the Spirit that comes from you to bless us with your abundance. We shall wither quickly and die without your assistance – come to us this day with your Spirit that we might be your children.
Tue, 9 October 2018
(Gal.2:1-2,7-14; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Lk.11:1-4)
“He who worked through Peter as His apostle among the Jews
had been at work in me for the Gentiles.”
And that same Spirit, that same God, that same Lord and Creator is at work in all His holy apostles, and is the Father of all who call upon His Name.
“Father, hallowed be your name.” You are great and you are glorious, and you bless all your children, your children of light. From every nation you call us by the power of your Word. You send out apostles as you sent out Paul, to the ends of the earth. You gather all your children together at your one table to feast upon your Body and your Blood, and you speak to the heart of all creation. We your people you call to pray; your disciples you teach to call upon your Name. To the depths of our souls you breathe your Spirit, and so you make us your own. Like you we would be, O Lord! Like you, dear Jesus, in your devotion to our Father.
Help us, O Lord; teach us to forgive, teach us to love. Teach us not to draw away from others, but to join with all who heed your call. Let us always be “straightforward about the truth of the Gospel,” always breathe it and speak it with all our lives – with all our strength let us love and welcome all, especially the poor. And let us present ourselves to your “recognized pillars,” to the leaders of your Church. Let us not go off on our own, with our own thoughts, pursuing our own goals, but let us be ever obedient unto those in whose hands you have placed your teaching ministry… let us lay down our lives “for their scrutiny” as has even the Apostle Paul. For none can work without your approval, without the blessing that comes in “the handclasp of fellowship” your Church extends. And so, in your Church, under its guidance, and in absolute love of all, what shall we then lack?
“Praise the Lord, all you nations, glorify Him, all you peoples!” For the Lord comes to you now – He teaches you His sacred way to the Father of all. Heed but His Word; speak and do but His work. Love always Him and all His people and you shall know how wonderfully “the fidelity of the Lord endures forever”; His children you shall indeed become, and He shall work through you as He has Peter, as He has Paul… as He has His only Son. Say amen to His Spirit. Amen.
O LORD, you are our one Father
and we are your one children in Jesus your Son –
let your kingdom come.
YHWH, make us your faithful and holy children, honoring always your blessed NAME and doing always your will. Let your kingdom come through us; let your Word go forth to the ends of the earth.
Obedient to the authority of your Church let us ever be. Let us never turn from you, LORD, by veering from the path of the apostles. In union may your whole people stand, in the truth your Spirit speaks.
Yes, let us be one in the true faith, LORD, in your will and in your way. Forgive us all our sins and give us the grace to forgive all who sin against us, that we might partake of your food together at the table you set for us.
This world is a place of trial, we know, LORD, but you save us from all trial by your presence in our midst. Let us never be separated from you or one another but ever set our hearts on serving you by bringing your Word to all our brothers.
Mon, 8 October 2018
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.
Mon, 8 October 2018
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.
Mon, 8 October 2018
(Gal.1:13-24; Ps.139:1-3,13-15,24; Lk.10:38-42)
“The time came when He who set me apart before I was born
and called me by His favor
chose to reveal His Son to me.”
Paul speaks of his conversion to the faith today. But before he changed and became the Lord’s great Apostle, he tells us, “I made progress in Jewish observance far beyond most of my contemporaries, in my excess of zeal to live out all the traditions of my ancestors,” and that he “went to extremes in persecuting the church of God and tried to destroy it.” Now, isn’t Martha as Paul was? Is it not her own zeal for observance of Jewish tradition which makes her so anxious and blinded to truth? We hear that she “was busy with all the details of hospitality,” a venerable Jewish custom and requirement of the law; but does not her own “excess of zeal” for this observance lead her even to persecute the Church of God, as it has with Paul? For is her sister not as the Lord’s Church, as His holy Bride seated at His feet? And what does Martha intend to inflict upon her when she asks in her presumption, “Lord, are you not concerned that my sister has left me all alone to do the household tasks? Tell her to help me,” but by such public humiliation to draw her from the blessings of Christ into her own anxiety? But as Paul has heard the call of the Lord, so now Mary does as well, and nothing shall remove such favor from her. And instead of the drawing of Mary from the Lord, it is the Lord who calls Martha from her chores to listen to the voice of God.
Martha shall heed the Lord’s call, we know, for it is she who shows such great faith at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, she who hears the Lord’s most wonderful revelation: “I am the resurrection and the life.” And so she, like Paul, like her sister, finds herself chosen by the Lord. And so must we all, brothers and sisters! So must we all. We all must know the call of Him who “formed [our] inmost being,” by whom our “soul” and our “frame” were “made in secret, when [we were] fashioned in the depths of the earth,” in our “mother’s womb.” We must all come to that place where He will speak to these very depths of our being – where only He probes – and know the “wonderful” call of the Lord, that as it was said of Paul, “He who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” so it will be said of us that all doubt and fear we have left behind and the Lord’s will is our only occupation. We must hear His voice and we must speak His NAME, or all we do will be in vain.
“My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar,” O Lord. And so I pray that all my rest will be taken in you and all my work you will bless. Bring us all to the quiet place within our souls, where you speak in silence, where your will is revealed to waiting hearts… let us be seated always before you.
O LORD, it is you who have formed us,
and you formed us to love you;
let us listen to your voice and do your holy will.
YHWH, how shall we find ourselves at your feet, dearest LORD? How shall we become as Mary, our hearts set on you alone, knowing your presence deep in our soil as we listen to your holy words, as we marvel at your flesh before us? In your Son let us make our home, that your Word might be instilled in our soul.
In silence let us sit, O LORD. And in peace let us rise and do your will. As we travel even to the ends of the earth, bringing your Word forth, let us remain ever seated at your feet. Oh never leave us! though much work we do for you.
Be our blessed guide, LORD, at all times. Hold us in your arms as you knit us in our mother’s womb, and we shall never be apart from you, and anxiety shall never distract us from your eternal presence. You who have made us, you who know all our thoughts and ways, please see that it is with you we remain, ever speaking your holy NAME.
Sun, 7 October 2018
(Gal.1:6-12; Ps.111:1-2,5,7-10; Lk.10:25-37)
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?”
Do you really want to know? Do really seek to hear of the Gospel of Christ? Do you really desire the Word of God, which is “reliable forever and ever, wrought in truth and equity” and which “came by revelation from Jesus Christ?” If so, listen to what He speaks to you today; do not go on “so soon deserting Him who called you in accord with His design in Christ” – be not as the priest and the Levite who, coming upon the man “stripped” and “beat[en],” “saw him but continued on.” For He shows Himself to you this day. He lies before you like “the man who fell in with the robbers,” and He calls you to love.
You know what to do, brothers and sisters, just as the lawyer knew so well the Shema, the great command to love God and neighbor. The answer to the question of “who treated the man with compassion” is obvious. We see the love of God, we know the love of God, and we know that we are called to practice the love of God. “Then go and do the same,” Jesus says. “Go and do the same.” Here is the Gospel in short, in this short phrase: love others as I have loved you. Lay down your life; die to yourself and live for God and others if you wish to inherit eternal life. Such inheritance comes only after such death, and love is all that will bring you there.
“If anyone preaches a Gospel other than the one you received, let a curse be upon Him!” This exclamation by Paul is also one of love. For to love does not mean “to win man’s approval,” “to please” or “ingratiate” oneself to others that all might speak well of us who have spoken well of them – to love means to speak the truth, for only by such truth is love preserved. There is no Gospel but the Gospel of love spoken by the mouth of the Lord, one which calls us not to an easy compliance with the world, a nod of the head and a sidestep around the wounded bodies before us… it is that which calls us to lay down our lives along this road of ours. This is what is from God, shown most clearly by the death of His Son.
Brothers and sisters, “holy and awesome is His name” and His call. “His praise endures forever” in our mouths for “He has ratified His covenant forever”; and the love of Jesus is all we need to know. Can you do all the Samaritan has done for the stranger? Then everlasting life is indeed close to your heart. Follow in His way.
O LORD, your Word, your Gospel,
is that we should love,
that we should love you and others –
let us hold to your Word and so live in your truth.
YHWH, praise you, our LORD and our God! Help us to follow your Word and your way. For you are great and worthy of praise, and we must be as you.
Your love is unbounded, O LORD; it reaches to the ends of the earth and to every soul. All you would care for in your love, and you call us to do the same.
Let us be your hands and your voice, LORD, in this dangerous place. Let us have hearts for healing and spirits for speaking your truth, that all souls might indeed be saved by your holy Gospel.
If in silence we stand as souls go astray, or if we avoid the needy man in our way, what, O LORD, shall be our fate – shall not a curse be upon us? And so, let your love and your truth be fulfilled in us that we might preach without fear and serve without hesitation, that we might accomplish your will. Let us love you first of all, and all souls as you love them.
Sat, 6 October 2018
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.
Sat, 6 October 2018
(Gn.2:18-24; Ps.128:1-6; Heb.2:9-11; Mk.10:2-16)
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh.”
The beauty and blessing of marriage, the marvel it is, and how it reaches unto heaven.
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” This is the loving thought of our Lord God while looking upon the man He has created. And so from the body of the man God creates woman. How indelibly one are these two, in origin, in destiny, and in the eyes of their Creator. Inseparable should they be: “one flesh.”
And if it were so, if these lived as He intended, the blessings sung of by our psalmist today would be upon all: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table.” Then would we reflect the glory of God and His love for His Church and its children. Then would we “see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of [our] life.”
The love of man and woman, of husband and wife, is truly as the love of God for His bride, the Church. Hear what St. Paul says of the Christ, who has come to bring “many children to glory”: “He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.” Does he not say Jesus has become as our brother, made perfect through suffering – “flesh of [our] flesh”? Does the Lord not thus wed Himself to us by the incarnation and death of His only Son? And look at Jesus in our gospel, surrounded by children waist deep. He has just spoken of the sanctity of marriage and now He clearly conveys its blessed fruits, both for husband and wife on earth, and for Him and His Church. He declares of the children He has called to Himself, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” and then “He embrace[s] them and bless[es] them,” wedding them unto His heart.
As woman is born out of the side of man, as she is flesh of his flesh, so the Church is born out of the pierced side of the Lord, from the blood and water that flow there, becoming one with His blessed Body. And let all men and women know, every husband and wife understand, that their marriage is blessed alone by God and finds its life in Him. It is He to whom they are truly wed, and their offenses against one another offend only Him. If you seek to separate from one another, you work to separate yourself from God; for as He is love, so He is every marriage, and to Him you are beholden to bear fruit in His name. Great will be the blessing upon your home if you cherish your oneness in Him – great as the blessings upon His Church, which in His love He does now form. Make all your love one with Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Marriage" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, bring life forth in our midst
through the children you bless.
YHWH, let us be joined to you in the sacrificial flesh of your Son. Bone of His bone let us be, one with Him forever. As you join together man and wife on this earth, so join us to you in Heaven.
O let us never be divorced from love of one another or from you, dearest LORD! Then we shall be blessed; then we shall remain in your presence and know your arms around us. O let us have the faith of a child and come humbly before you to hear your Word of truth spoken of by your Son, and so let us share in His salvation. Let us never harden our hearts against your good will for our lives and we shall prosper in your peace.
We are taken from you, O LORD, and must be united with you again. But if we do not love one another and bear fruit in your Name, if man and wife do not stand as the paragon of your love, what shall become of the human race?
Fri, 5 October 2018
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.
Fri, 5 October 2018
(Job 42:1-3,5-6,12-16; Ps.119:66,71,75,91,125,130,135; Lk.10:17-24)
“I watched Satan fall from the sky like lightning.”
Oh how our readings conspire together today to bring heavenly light to our eyes. Truly by them the Lord would say to us what He says to His apostles, what is so evident with Job: “Blest are the eyes that see what you see.” For what more could we hope to behold than the defeat of Satan and the power of the Almighty at work in our lives?
“I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you,” Job declares unto the Lord who stands before him. Could there be a greater blessing than this for him who has longed for just this moment? For just in this moment comes to him who has suffered so greatly at the hands of Satan the vindication of the Lord’s servant, the justice that is in the hand of God. Truly is Satan now cast down before the Lord of all, and truly do the eyes and the heart of Job witness this power of the Most High. For truly is he set free from the evil one’s clutches and blessed so abundantly. Job’s eyes see the return and the increase of his myriad of animals; they witness the great blessing of seven sons and three daughters, of whom it is said, “No other women were as beautiful as the daughters of Job.” These eyes behold “his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren,” yes, but the greatest of all visions for which Job is truly blessed and which brings any and all other blessings is that his eye has seen the Lord: he knows now Him who has made him and rejoices sublimely with the apostles that his name is “inscribed in heaven,” indeed that it cannot be blotted out; for Satan has done all he could to accomplish this, and failed.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes” – our psalmist’s words could be Job’s own, for indeed in the Lord’s faithfulness He has afflicted Job to “teach [him] wisdom and knowledge.” And what knowledge the seventy-two disciples receive this day in our gospel; a knowledge hidden from all ages, a power residing only with God, is given over unto their spirits. Satan himself and all his minions are now subject to their command. What falls short of the light in their eyes; what do they now lack? And so, what can they do but rejoice greatly? For even Jesus Himself rejoices “in the Holy Spirit”; even the Son of God gives “grateful praise” to the Father for the power and wisdom granted His “merest children.” Brothers and sisters, the blessings of the Lord are overwhelming… and we do not yet even see heaven!
“The revelation of your words sheds light,” O Lord, “giving understanding to the simple.” Let us hear what you wish to teach us this day. That which “prophets and kings wished to see… and hear” you reveal to us at this time – that the power of your Word casts out sin and Satan, and that your own glory you share with your little ones on earth. Bless us here with your gifts, O Lord. Remove from our hearts all fear. Let us know with certainty that you have destroyed the evil one, and draw us now inextricably to your kingdom.