Sat, 23 July 2016
O solitary prayer,
alone with the Lord
in the Blessed Sacrament
you offered your life
for the salvation of souls;
in penance you lived,
and so a light shone
even from your tomb
to show the presence of Christ
and His miraculous powers
at work in the world –
pray all souls
seek perfection in prayer,
the perfection of being with Jesus,
of remaining always in His presence
with a heart of love
poured out for our fellow man.
Pray even now
for the salvation of all,
for what else matters
but that we come to dwell
with you in the light of our Lord,
adoring Him forever?
Sat, 23 July 2016
(Gn.18:20-32; Ps.138:1-3,6-8; Col.2:12-14; Lk.11:1-13)
“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Prayer. Our wonderful gift from God. Our sharing in His will.
The Lord ordains that Abraham should speak with Him, and so He stops and waits to hear the prayer of His favored one. And so in this mystical scene from our first reading, we are given a holy model for our own petitions of the Lord. Indeed, first we see that the Lord waits upon us to approach Him – His ears are ever open to our pleas. (As we read elsewhere, He knows what we need before we ask.) Second, Abraham prefaces his prayer with acknowledgment of the justice of God, thus revealing the confidence we must have that the Lord will answer any righteous request. Third, Abraham shows the manner in which we must come before our God. Though we must be persistent, thus manifesting our genuine concern for the prayer we offer, we must realize to whom we speak and come before Him in deep humility: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!” says Abraham, and it is with words such as these that he precedes each of his persistent requests. And because of his faith and humility, his prayer is answered and Lot is spared from the destruction of Sodom.
And, of course, our greatest model of prayer is found in our gospel. When Jesus finishes praying, the disciples beg Him to teach them to pray. First He shares with them the Lord’s Prayer, wherein we give ourselves to the providential hand of God and reflect His grace and forgiveness. He then relates a parable on the necessity and blessings of perseverance in prayer – we must never be discouraged in our prayer. Finally, the words which drip like honey from His mouth: “Ask and you will receive…” and His blessed assurance that the Father will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
The Lord loves us and wishes to share all of Himself with us. We must but come as children before Him and we will know the kindness of which David sings, and we will sing with him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth.” Indeed, “the lowly He sees”; His “right hand saves” them. Forsaking not the work of His hands, He rather justifies them, giving them life even by the recognition of their voices before Him. Thus we are “raised with Him through faith in the power of God.” “Having forgiven us all our transgressions” through the cross of Christ, the Father now brings the humble to life through the Spirit of His Son. It is in His hearing our prayer that this grace is best known, for therein our spirits become one with His own.
O Lord, hear and answer us as we call upon you each day in all faith and humility. Make us your own sons and daughters in the Spirit of Christ.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Prayer: He Asks/I Am Not MY Body" (1st part) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, give us the Holy Spirit
that the salvation wrought by Jesus
might be fulfilled in us,
and we might forever praise your NAME.
YHWH, we call upon your NAME; answer our prayer and send your Spirit upon us to save us and bring us into your kingdom. Your Son would forgive us all our sins – let us be joined to Him.
It is you, O LORD, who listen for our prayers, wishing always to share your grace with your children. By your own hand you would feed us with your Spirit if we would but turn to you in faith. Let us not grow weary of calling upon your NAME, but by our persistence may we find our good desires fulfilled in your kindness.
O LORD, let your people not perish in their sins but find your compassion at work in their lives. Forgive all who turn to you and are baptized into the sacrifice of Jesus. Your promise be fulfilled in our midst by the blood of His Cross.
O Heavenly Father, help us to remember your NAME and the grace that is ours when we seek your face.
Fri, 22 July 2016
O seer of the Passion
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of the scourges and the nails,
of the blows and mockery
of the blood which covered
His face and all His skin…
O you who have witnessed
all His suffering
and sought so diligently
to share in it with Him –
pray that we who are so blind
to the pain and anguish
our Savior bore
under the weight of the Cross
we build by our sin
may by His grace
have our eyes opened,
and so turn from our own condemnation
to the blood of redemption
He has shed for our sakes
and take refuge in the penance
that leads all souls to the kingdom.
Fri, 22 July 2016
(Jer.7:1-11; Ps.84:2-6,8,11; Mt.13:24-30)
“Reform your ways and your deeds,
so that I may remain with you in this place.”
We hear again today of the failure of “the temple of the Lord” and its sacrifices to bring the Israelites to the eternal presence of God. For though the Lord “sowed good seed in His field,” though He made His temple a house of prayer, it has become “a den of thieves” in the eyes of His chosen. And the Lord “see[s] what is being done.” And because they “steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, [and] burn incense to Baal,” the Israelites break the covenant upon which the temple is founded, and it can but fall to ruin. The Lord spells out what they must do to preserve the integrity of His temple: “If each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm…” but though He repeatedly warns them of what it takes to maintain His presence in their midst, yet they repeatedly turn from His blessings and the words the prophets offer. Unable to “thoroughly reform [their] ways and [their] deeds,” they cannot but lose the temple.
But, again, there is hope. For what has not been preserved on earth shall be made permanent in heaven. Though “an enemy came and sowed weeds through His wheat,” and though in this world they are not rooted out from our midst – though our worship fall short of the Lord’s eternal glory, yet Jesus comes to perfect God’s will in us, drawing us to the Temple not made by human hands… and with Him the weeds are no more. Yes, because of our sin we lose His blessing; but by His grace our worship is made whole in His sight.
“My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” In the heart of Jesus I would dwell; in His flesh we find the Temple. And His Temple we become as we eat His Body and drink His Blood. As we follow this Word made flesh, we are redeemed and our home with God blessed permanently. And so in truth and with His love welling up in our souls, we cry with our psalmist: “I had rather live at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked”; and so, “happy” indeed we are. Praise the Lord for His eternal goodness, for in Him “even the sparrow finds a home.”
O LORD, the weeds are bundled for burning,
for sin cannot stand in your sight;
only the pure of heart enter your House.
YHWH, be with us in this place; gather us as wheat into your barn. Make our bodies the temple of your Spirit, that we shall be pleasing to you and so with you remain.
There are weeds among your wheat, LORD, and there are sins that prick our hearts and move to separate us from you and your love, and your presence with us. O let us reform our ways and our deeds! that our lives may find your blessing and we dwell forever in your holy Temple.
Our heart and our flesh cry out to you, O living God, that we might live in your sight, that we might be as your own precious children united in heart and flesh with you. Even in this land let us be with you; let this land become as Heaven by your Body and Blood among us, by our joining ourselves in joy with you… by the reform of our lives according to your Word.
Thu, 21 July 2016
O woman of great love
whose heart burned
with desire for the Lord,
whose soul thirsted for the living God…
the tears you cried
became the source
of the greatest joy
as from your sins the Christ released you,
as your eyes beheld
your blessed Teacher –
pray for us this day, O Mary,
that our hearts shall be set aflame
with faith and love
as we hear the news you bring us:
that our Lord is no longer in the tomb,
that He lives
and so we with Him,
that He is ascending to the Father
and we shall join Him there.
O pray His love
dispel the coldness of our hearts
that we shall be like you,
remaining with Him forever.
Thu, 21 July 2016
(Jer.3:14-17; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.13:18-23)
“At that time they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne;
there all nations will be gathered together
to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem.”
I would like today to focus the attention particularly of the Lord’s chosen race on the following prophecy of the great Jeremiah: “They will in those days no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord!’ or miss it, or make another.” For I must in obedience to the Spirit of Truth ask the question: If the temple of the Lord has been destroyed, how is it Judaism can be said to yet exist? With the discontinuance of the sacrifices, does the heart of the Mosaic Law not undergo a certain transformation? To the point: Does the sacrifice of Christ not supplant – even as it fulfills, perfectly – the Old Covenant? Is His blood poured upon the altar now and sprinkled upon all our souls, is it not this which gives birth to the New Jerusalem, where “they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings”?
And does not the destruction of the temple so soon after the death of Him who prophesied it in tears not substantiate His claim as the Temple not built by human hands? And does the fact that the ancient walls have remained in ruins for some two thousand years not indicate its permanent end? Would the Lord really wish it to be built again? And do you think He would leave you alone for so long a time? Has He not come?
My brothers, my sisters, should not he who has the deepest “roots” be the strongest tree reaching to the greatest heights? Is He not? And should you not be as this quintessential Jew, suffering for the sake of all at the hands of those who breathe condemnation? (Here is a message to those who would take the Lord’s justice in their violent hands – you shall not escape condemnation for your sin. Whatever good may seem to result from your prideful persecution, though His chosen may turn at your threat, yet your sin will be remembered.)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion.” This word is for all who understand “the message about God’s reign” Jesus comes to sow in receptive hearts. And so, “hear the word of the Lord, O nations, proclaim it on distant coasts” to all God’s “rebellious children,” to all who yet walk “in their hardhearted wickedness” – for all may now “become fruitful in the land.” (And you, brother Catholic, do you know the blessing that is upon you; do you see that you stand in the New Jerusalem?) But still the chosen are called first of all; still the Lord waits for those most blessed, to pour His new graces upon them.
Let no man’s soul be choked by “worldly anxiety”; let all come now to the Lord’s glorious throne, here in the heavenly Jerusalem.
O LORD, let us not falter along the way
but come streaming to your blessings.
YHWH, how shall we bear a fruitful yield, we who have been so rebellious? Have we not choked your Word off from our souls; are we not today void of the roots of your kingdom? Yet you remain as a Shepherd who cares for His flock, you continue in your love for us, and so you call us back to the land set aside for our flourishing – you ransom us from our sin that your City we might enter with dancing.
Open our ears to hear the Word of your Son. Open our hearts to receive your grace. Let us be planted in good soil, in the flesh of Jesus; let us be as the New Jerusalem. In the Temple of His Body let us make our home, all hardness of heart taken from us. O LORD, let us again be blessed to be your children, washed clean by the blood of the Christ.
These waters from Heaven fall upon our souls that indeed we might grow and produce an abundant harvest in your NAME, O LORD.
Wed, 20 July 2016
O great preacher of the Word of God,
you who were entrusted
with this angelic office
to bring light to Christian minds
and dispel the darkness
of sin and error –
pray all souls this day
may be blessed with hearing
the Word of God you spoke so well,
that all hearts might turn in faith
to the Lord
purged by its cleansing fire.
O blessed teacher,
pray men of every tongue
be told of the truth,
that all might live
by the Spirit of God
that the renewal of the Church
and every soul
might be made complete
and the ranks of the New Jerusalem
be filled to overflowing.
Wed, 20 July 2016
(Jer.2:1-3,7-8,12-13; Ps.36:6-11; Mt.13:10-17)
“They look but do not see,
they listen but do not hear or understand.”
Oh how “sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of His harvest.” And oh how they loved the Lord “as a bride,” following Him so closely. But oh how they have forgotten “the devotion of their youth” and turned from Him. For when He “brought [them] into the garden lands to eat its goodly fruits,” they did not seek Him from whom all their blessings flowed, but rather “entered and defiled [His] land,” and “made [His] heritage loathsome.” So blindly “they have forsaken [the Lord], the source of living waters [and] have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” And so, how empty of life they have become.
And so Jesus echoes Isaiah’s prophecy upon the people today, declaring it now fulfilled: “Listen as you will, you shall not understand, look intently as you will, you shall not see.” Though the Son of God stand before them, though their blessing is complete in their midst, strain as they might they cannot see what is so obvious – for “sluggish indeed is this people’s heart.” Too long have they turned their sights away from Him, and now what shall refresh their vision?
Should they not sing with David of the Lord’s glory – “How precious is your kindness, O God!” Should they not “take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings?” Does He not spread them above them this day? In Jesus should they not “have their fill of the prime gifts of [His] house”; does the Lord not “give them to drink” from this “delightful stream”? Then why are their mouths closed to receiving this precious gift offered upon His altar? Is He not the holy sacrifice of the covenant renewed? Is it not so that in drinking His blood all find life? Is He not the source of living water?
O Lord, “with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.” Awaken our hearts to see your face; let us “turn back to [you]” that you may “heal [us].” For you are Light and Life itself, and all our blessings flow from you and from your Body and Blood offered for our sakes. In your Son may we find again our home; may our hearts be open to understand your love present in our midst.
O LORD, let us be blessed
to hear your word of forgiveness,
we who have blinded ourselves to your good gifts.
YHWH, you are the fountain of life, the source of living water; in you we find all blessings. You provide for all our needs, planting us in a garden land filled with good fruits. You make us as your holy Bride – such is your love for your faithful child.
But we are not faithful to you, O LORD. We do not drink from the fountain of living water but dig for ourselves broken cisterns, the creation of our soiled hands, of our wayward hearts and minds. And so our soul languishes in a foreign land.
How shall you heal our blindness, LORD? How shall our ears open to your Word? How shall we return to you and find again your blessing? Your kindness knows no bounds and so you send your Son among us. To His teaching let us be obedient; let our hearts open before Him that we might be redeemed.
How blessed are we to have the living God in our midst, His face shining upon us, His voice speaking to our hearts… O LORD, take not your Son from us, but let us be healed by His presence.
Tue, 19 July 2016
O suffering shepherd
for your work of evangelization,
you ever continued to preach the faith
and convert multitudes
despite all the tortures
the ravenous beasts of this earth
a true apostle you proved to be,
martyred even as Christ’s Twelve –
how shall we find
a measure of your conviction,
of your persistence
in spreading the Gospel of the Lord?
Pray for us, blessed shepherd,
that we who are weak of will
and so fearful
of the slightest disturbance
to our comfort and ease
shall learn by God’s grace
to give our lives
as freely as you
in the service of man’s salvation.
Tue, 19 July 2016
(Jer.1:1,4-10; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; Mt.13:1-9)
“O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.”
So does the seed grow, and bear fruit in the sight of the Lord.
Our psalmist declares, “On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength.” Indeed we are planted in our mother’s womb and we grow by the grace of the Lord. And as our bodies grow so gradually from the womb of our mother, so our spirits, too, grow from the womb of our Mother, the Church, in whose womb the Lord plants us and nurtures us with His water, the Holy Spirit. For it is the Lord who prepares the ground for our planting. As He declares to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” So even before we are planted as seed the Lord holds us in His Hand, and that Hand of love shall never leave us.
And what does the Lord expect of the seed He plants and nurtures but that it sprout and bear much fruit? What does He do but call us forth to proclaim His Word with our lives: “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak” – what He requires of Jeremiah He requires of us all. As “the Lord extended His hand and touched [the prophet’s] mouth, saying, ‘See I place my words within your mouth!’” so He reaches out to us all, planting His Word within our hearts and expecting it to grow and blossom forth. Into the light our works must come to reveal His heavenly presence.
“The crowd stood along the shore” as rows of plants in an ordered garden, and Jesus watered them with His teaching. And in whom would His Word take root? Who would grow unencumbered in His light? Who would bear fruit unto the kingdom of God? “Let everyone heed what he hears!” Make the Lord your “rock of refuge” and He will “rescue [you] from the hand of the wicked” and nurture you with His Bread and the Word of Life. And your “mouth shall declare [His] justice, day by day [His] salvation” as you come gradually and invariably – you know not now – to the kingdom our Savior prepares with His Blood.
O LORD, let the seed we sow with you
bear fruit by your blessing.
YHWH, from the womb you call us; from our conception you bless us with your Word to nourish us and help us grow in your sight, that upon maturity we might praise your NAME and share your Word with all. Help us indeed to grow each day in you and do your will with all our lives.
O LORD, may we bear fruit a hundredfold! May we be planted in good soil, in the womb of your Church, that fruitful indeed we might be. Touch our mouth with your hand that our tongue may be purified to speak of your glory and so serve to plant seeds of life in souls with ears to hear your voice. Let us not wither and die in our sin or be choked by the cares of this world; keep the clutches of Satan far from us, and we will be your own children, declaring your salvation until your Son returns.
O LORD, we depend on you for our very lives, for the breath in our nostrils and the love in our hearts. Shine your light on us this day and let our fruit be pleasing to you.
Mon, 18 July 2016
(Mic.7:14-15,18-20; Ps.85:2-8; Mt.12:46-50)
“Then extending His hands to His disciples, He said,
‘There are my mother and my brothers.’”
The Lord’s blessing rests upon all who worship Him in spirit and in truth, and it comes to us primarily through the forgiveness of our sins. For the Lord extends His hands to His disciples first of all to “cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.” This is His principal work, He whose name means “God saves.” And by such compassion poured upon us, by His “treading underfoot our guilt,” we are drawn into His holy fold; we become “the flock of His inheritance” by the death that brings us life.
“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” Who indeed is like Jesus? For He dies and we live. He washes us clean of sin, and we become His children. Though we deserve His “burning anger,” He abandons not us but “[His] displeasure against us.” He “does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency,” a clemency that not only forgives but redeems – for Jesus also extends His hands to His disciples to gather them into the Father’s arms.
“You have favored, O Lord, your land; you have restored the well-being of Jacob. You have forgiven the guilt of your people; you have covered all their sins.” How shall we thank you, Lord, who “grant us our salvation”? How shall we praise you, Lord, whose “kindness” has made us your own? “Shall not your people rejoice in you?” Will we not sing of your glory forever? Will we not stand in your presence and serve you for all ages to come? “You have withdrawn all your wrath.” You “will again have compassion on us.” In you we take refuge always, as your blessed daughters and sons.
O Mother in heaven, pray for us,
that children of the Lord we shall ever remain,
doing the will of the Father as thou hast done.
O LORD, could you be kinder
than to make us your own flesh and blood?
YHWH, shepherd your people; make us as your Son’s brothers and sisters – make us as His Mother. Forgive us our sins that we might be gathered into your outstretched arms.
How kind you are to us, dear LORD, how compassionate. Who could imagine such a love as makes us one with God Himself? Who could have believed you would send your only Son, your very self, into our midst to save us and make us your inheritance? Your kindness is unsurpassable – no greater gift could we find.
Be not angry with us for our sins this day, O LORD, but grant us your mercy as you do for all your children who turn to you. Make us your disciples, truly brothers and sisters of Jesus, one with the Blessed Mother and all the saints. Into your kingdom let us come; let us pasture on your holy mountain.
How blessed are we when your anger is passed, dear LORD. Let us be your flock, living in your peace even this day.
Sun, 17 July 2016
O servant of the sick
whose compassionate heart
melted at the sight
of every suffering soul,
who constantly visited Christ
as He lay in hospital…
how deep was your charity,
how complete your love and dedication
to the poor –
pray that we too shall leave
the cares of the world behind
and have only concern
for serving Christ
and our fellow man;
pray the hard hearts of this age
will be saved by the Lord’s grace
even as they look upon Him
in the face of those in need.
How shall we match your stature,
which was so like Jesus’ own;
how shall we find perfect charity,
taking the Lord into our homes?
Pray our hearts be set on Him alone.
Sun, 17 July 2016
(Mic.6:1-4,6-8; Ps.50:5-6,8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.12:38-42)
“The Lord has a plea against His people,
and He enters into trial with Israel.”
“God Himself is the judge,” brothers and sisters. And so He declares: “Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” All are brought before His throne, and all must “present [their] plea” in His presence.
And what shall we say on that Day? Will you “come before Him with holocausts, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil?” Hear His word to His people: it is not these the Lord desires. It is not the sacrifices offered in the temple built by human hands the Lord seeks of His chosen ones. The temple He has destroyed, and with it the vain works of the flesh. It is now the Lord’s desire that you but “walk humbly with your God.” And so He promises: “To Him that goes the right way I will show the saving power of God,” and proclaims, “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me.”
Oh how we should praise Him! He who is “greater than Jonah” and “greater than Solomon.” Oh how we should repent and reform our lives at His preaching! Oh how we should walk in the light of His wisdom! But are we not too often like those who offer vain sacrifice and seek to have our eyes impressed by some extraordinary sign? The sign stands before us. But all too often we are as faithless and blind as the scribes and Pharisees in our gospel today.
What a terrible thought that we might be condemned for our lack of faith by the “citizens of Nineveh” and “the queen of the South,” who needed so little, really, to believe in the greatness of the Lord. Has He not “brought [us] up from the land of Egypt”? Has He not released us from “the place of slavery”? Why do we so soon forget what the ancients knew by much less? Is not Jesus in our midst this day?
Let us not be blind to His presence, and let us not offer our sacrifice unworthily. For here before us stands the Lord of all; into our souls and bodies we receive Him by Word and by Sacrament. All He asks of us is our faith. And will we believe Him? Or is our worship only on the tongue and not burning in our heart? Let Him not find you faithless this day.
O LORD, teach us your way of humility;
let us seek only to be as you.
YHWH, how can we seek a sign from you when it is we who should be offering a sign to you, and more than a sign – our very lives. For your Son comes to us bringing salvation to our souls and teaching us the way to find it; should we not repent of our sin, rend our hearts before Him, and praise you for your mercy this day?
But we have not faith, LORD, and so we come only with vain sacrifices, mere words on our lips and a heart seeking our own will to be done. We would create you – but it is you who have created us! You have created us and you would redeem us, and so you enter into trial with us to see if we shall merit your love. Bring our sins up before our eyes, that by your grace we might turn from them and walk humbly with you.
Why should we even need your Son to be buried in the earth, LORD? Should our faith not recognize you before us without such a sign? Ah, but we are blind, so blind. Discipline us in your love that we might reform our lives and find the way to you.
Sat, 16 July 2016
(Gn.18:1-10a; Ps.15:1-5; Col.1:24-28; Lk.10:38-42)
“There is need of only one thing.”
Whether we teach or whether we serve, all must be done in the Name of the Lord. If it is not sitting at His feet that we do all things, if all is not a prayer offered in His Name, to His glory, it is all quite worthless.
How “anxious and concerned about many things” we often are. How like Martha we often struggle under the burden of our duties without a proper heart for service. And so how often, in the words of our psalm, we are like one who “takes up a reproach against his neighbor.” How like Martha we fail to be as one who “honors those who fear the Lord,” even if that holy one is our sister. Jesus is at work there in her midst, in the words of Paul, “teaching everyone with all wisdom,” but Martha cannot stop to hear His words, and would take the word from her sister’s heart. And so the Lord must be put to work, performing the other task Paul outlines, that of “admonishing everyone.” Can she really think that the passing needs of the body take precedence over the eternal need of the soul?
Brothers and sisters, we are no less ignorant of the presence of Christ in our midst; we are no less ignorant of His Word speaking to our souls when we rush through our daily tasks – be they to teach or to serve – as if we are on some nonstop treadmill which is beyond our control. Each day and at every moment, the Lord calls to us, and each day and at every moment we must listen. With His Name written clearly upon our hearts we should act, and not otherwise. We must think and say with Paul, “I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God,” whether we bring forth that Word by word or by action. Again, if we do not listen to His voice, if it is not this that moves us, that animates our work, all our afflictions are useless, for they are not united to the cross of Christ.
Let us take Abraham as our example. He greets the Lord as He comes to him. He rushes about to prepare Him a meal and care for His needs. Indeed, “he waited on them under the tree while they ate.” But he did all of this with a prayer in his heart; he performed all his diligent service out of love for Him whom he served. He could see clearly it was God he waited upon, and so all his frantic work was no burden; he found only joy to be in the presence of His God. So must be our attitude in all we do, brothers and sisters. It cannot be otherwise. All we do must be done for Him; we must ever keep His presence in our hearts, and with this one needful thing fixed firmly within us, all of our lives will be blessed. And we, too, will be holy. We, too, will be made whole by the power of His Word at work within us.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Breathing for a Living" from Breath, The Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us remember it is in serving you
we find our hope for glory.
YHWH, let all our work be done for you, all we suffer be for the sake of your Body, and we shall not grow weary in serving you but rejoice that you are in our midst.
You come to us, dear God, you sit among us calling us by your presence and by the words of your Son and His disciples to make known the riches of your glory to all souls to whom we come. O let us give witness to our love for you in all we do this day!
Should we not treasure your presence with us and the work we are blessed to do for you? Should it not be our great glory that we may feed you, O LORD and God, by our own hands? What grace you give us in letting us serve you and one another – what joy we should take in thus doing your will, in putting flesh to your Word… in becoming as Jesus!
O LORD, let all our afflictions be endured with your Son under His Cross, and we shall be fruitful in your sight and remain forever in your presence.
Fri, 15 July 2016
O Mother of contemplation
who heard the Word of God
and kept it,
pondering its wonder
in your heart,
you who were so faithful
to His call
and remain ever in His presence –
how shall we know our Lord
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not intercede
for souls so blinded
by the distractions
of a fallen world?
Our prayers are with you, dear Mother,
who pray as one with our dear Lord,
who are so one with Him
in body and soul,
who stand at His side this day
in the kingdom of Heaven…
There on His holy mountain
help us to make our home.
Fri, 15 July 2016
(Mic.2:1-5; Ps.10:1-4,7-8,12,14; Mt.12:14-21)
“When the Pharisees were outside
they began to plot against Jesus
to find a way to destroy Him.”
Is it not of these David sings when he declares, “He lurks in ambush near the villages; in hiding he murders the innocent; his eyes spy upon the unfortunate”? And though He withdraw from them this day, though He will silently subject Himself to torture and death at their hands, be assured that the Lord is “planning against this race an evil from which [they] shall not withdraw [their] necks.”
“Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches.” And what greater woe can there be than for the one who plots disaster upon the head of the Chosen One? These are they who would “cheat [the] owner of his house, a man of his inheritance”; for here is the One of whom Isaiah prophesies in the name of the Lord: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight.” Yet by “cursing, guile, and deceit” these would steal the inheritance of the only Son. But the Lord shall not “stand aloof” forever, and over these soon “shall be sung… a plaintive chant: ‘Our ruin is complete, our fields are portioned out among our captors.’” What the Lord has promised He has accomplished in wresting the House of God from the disobedient and placing it in the hands of His children of light.
Now the Lord does “proclaim justice to the Gentiles.” And we who suffer with Him, we “the afflicted, who are caught in the devices the wicked has contrived,” rejoice in the knowledge that “judgment is made victorious” in Him – “on [Him] the unfortunate man depends,” and his fortunes are made prosperous as the Lord’s own.
“‘There is no God,’ sums up his thoughts,” the evil one who turns from the Lord. But the One they kill is God Himself, whose patient endurance of their crown of thorns shall bring the wicked to ruin. Caught in their own snares, “misery and sorrow” shall be theirs forever, even as the Lord and His anointed find release from the plots of men and are gathered into the kingdom of heaven.
The beast is slain by a word from His mouth, opened on that Day; though silent now His redeeming Word goes forth to the ends of the earth, setting free all suffering prisoners.
O LORD, we find our hope in you,
for you save the poor and afflicted soul
even as you destroy his wicked tormentors.
YHWH, look upon the afflicted who are pursued as was your Son; you see our misery and sorrow – save us from the plottings of men.
The greedy and deceitful you will thwart, O LORD. The violent you will destroy. You will save your poor ones who cry out to you; the plans of the wicked will not succeed.
Though your Son is captured by their snares, though the hands of men take hold of His body and nail it to the Cross, they will find, O LORD, they cannot touch His Spirit, and that Spirit will bring them to ruin.
On the third day He rises from the dead, LORD, and so we shall rise with Him. Though trodden down and deprived of our earthly possessions, yet forever we shall live in the riches of Heaven.
Silently let your Word go forth now, LORD, calling all to repentance and healing. All you give opportunity to turn to you – crush us not till we know your mercy upon our souls.
Thu, 14 July 2016
O good doctor
who taught the way to God
by death to things outside the Cross,
by resting with Christ
in the tomb
that we might pass
from this world to the Father –
pray our passions
indeed be silenced
that the fire of God
will carry our soul
to Him who is beyond
the operations of our mind;
pray our surrender to Him
may be complete
and the Holy Spirit lead us
in loving flame
to the kingdom.
Where is the longing of our soul
and who will assist us on the journey?
Speak to our hearts this day, good teacher,
from your place in His radiant presence.
Thu, 14 July 2016
(Is.38:1-8,21-22; Is.38:10-12,16-17; Mt.12:1-8)
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall
and prayed to the Lord.”
“When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: ‘Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die.’” When the Jewish race was about to perish for lack of love, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the Pharisees and declared, “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” And if they heed not His word, they indeed shall die.
But will what occurred “in those days” with the king of Judah recur with these leaders of the Jews? Will they, too, turn their face to the wall and cry out to the Lord? For there is a greater threat than “the hand of the king of Assyria” upon their race now. Here is a greater threat than death. The condemnation they cast so freely upon “innocent men” now begins to overshadow their souls.
“To the gates of the netherworld I shall be consigned for the rest of my years,” Hezekiah cries out; and indeed his fears shall be realized in these. For they “shall see no more the Lord in the land of the living” if they refuse to see Him here as He stands before them. They shall know no longer the mercy that sustains all life if they harden their hearts to Him who holds that mercy in His flesh and blood.
The Lord seeks to open their eyes and their hearts to the power and love of God. By their own Scripture and history and law He proves their judgment wrong, asking, “Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry…? Have you not read in the law how the priests on temple duty can break the sabbath without incurring guilt?” But yet would they condemn King David and the temple priests, placing their own judgment over the law of the love of God.
I fear for them, brothers and sisters, as for all who are obstinate of heart. For here are the chosen of God. Here are those graced with the Lord’s promise. But what shall become of their blessing if they reject the Promise when He stands before them? What shall become of those who turn the grace of God to empty wind? Oh how their bones shall rot! Oh how the fears of Hezekiah shall be fulfilled! Oh that they could hear the words the Lord speaks to His repentant king: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.” Oh that they would know the mercy of God.
To Him may all come, for He who stops the sun and moves it back upon its course indeed holds all in His loving hands. The Temple of the Lord is here.
O LORD, you raise us up from death,
from condemnation for our sins,
for you are the LORD our God.
YHWH, have mercy on our poor, judgmental souls, for we have come close to death because of our sins, for the lack of mercy we have shown. But you are not like us, for you have pity on those who cry out to you, on those who hunger for your food – hear us as we cry to you this day for your forgiveness upon our souls, that even this day we might live in your sight.
Our sins would have cut off our life, LORD; our disobedience but brings us to the nether world. But Jesus is Son of Man and God like you and He walks amongst us as your mercy, seeking to redeem our fallen souls from the grave we have made by our transgressions. And He brings us new life.
O LORD, let the days be turned back that we might make amends for our past sins, that we might have years to reform our lives and set our house in order for your Son’s return. If you had not mercy upon us, we would already be dead, doomed by our disobedience. But remember us and make us faithful and wholehearted in your sight; feed us with the Bread of life.
Wed, 13 July 2016
(Is.26:7-9,12,16-19; Ps.102:13-21; Mt.11:28-30)
“The Lord looked down from His holy height,
from heaven He beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
Yes, “we cried out in anguish under [His] chastising. As a woman about to give birth… we conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind.” Empty were our works; dead in sin were we. But the Lord took pity on His people. Though “oppressed by [His] punishment” and as prisoners in chains, the time arrived for Him to “arise and have mercy on Zion.” And so He sent His Son.
“My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you.” Because even in death His faithful set their hearts on Him and make Him the “desire of [their] souls,” He comes. “He has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer.” Though afflicted by sin, the Lord looks upon our tears; and His heart breaks with ours, and the light walks among us… and Jesus comes. And Jesus comes.
Hear the words of our Lord: “Your souls will find rest.” He promises us His peace. Though heavy burdened with the weight of this dark world, He is here to save us. How do we find such peace? How do we find release from the prison in which we are confined? Heed His instruction; “take [His] yoke upon your shoulders and learn from [Him].” And what is this yoke in which you will find your freedom? It is nothing else but the cross.
The Lord has looked down from heaven; He has sent His Son forth from His throne. And what does He come bearing “to release those doomed to die”? Yes, it is a cross He carries. Our sins and our pain He takes upon Himself. Only through this instrument of salvation, only through the flesh of Christ fastened to the wood – only by the nails which pierce His hands and feet are we brought life. For He cries with us in anguish: He dies with us in pain. And the Lord’s pity is realized, the mercy of God fulfilled… and washed are we in this blood from sin, and our cry thus taken away.
And we must do the same as He. We must die, too. We must unite ourselves to His cross, and let Him take all pain from our souls. And so we shall be whole. And so the cry shall be no more. And so we shall never die. “Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust,” for your “corpses shall arise.”
O LORD, we were doomed to die
but you heard our cry
and sent your Son to save us by His Cross –
let us share in His mercy this day.
YHWH, have mercy on Zion, on your children who cry out to you in the night, in the night that is our life in this world. Regard the prayer of your poor ones; look down from your holy height and have pity on us. Send your Son to save us from our pain, from our sin, by the grace of the Cross He bears.
We have given birth to wind, O LORD. In vanity we have lived our lives. But we look to you to redeem us from such emptiness, from the darkness which besets our hearts. You bring peace to us; your Son grants us the salvation we could not achieve on our own. O let us take up His gentle yoke that we might find rest for our souls.
Thank you for your mercy, Jesus, for coming among us in gentleness and humility and carrying our burden of pride away. Let us come to you now, as you call us; let us find the refreshment you offer in your Cross. Upon our shoulders let us take your light burden, that we might know your judgment is removed from us in the sacrifice you have made.
Tue, 12 July 2016
O you who were king and emperor
yet set your sights
on the reign of Heaven
and the reform and upbuilding
of the Church on earth,
who dedicated yourself
to the Lord of all
and service of His apostles –
pray our cares and responsibilities
will not distract us
of our God and His mercy
but that we shall indeed
and all our lives
into the hands of our Savior,
that He might dispose of them and us
as He sees fit.
Pray our kingdom not be of this earth
but of Heaven
and that we shall make our home
at the foot of the throne
of the Almighty.
Tue, 12 July 2016
(Is.10:5-7,13-16; Ps.94:5-10,14-15; Mt.11:25-27)
“Shall He who instructs nations not chastise,
He who teaches men knowledge?”
Again we learn the basic teaching of the Lord: The exalted are humbled and the humbled exalted. In our first reading “the Lord of hosts” promises to “send among His fat ones leanness” – condemning Assyria for the pride it takes in its “own power”; and in our gospel Jesus “offer[s] praise” to His “Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” declaring, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.” “Judgment shall again be with justice,” for the Lord shall raise those who have been “trample[d] down” even as He topples the pride of the wicked.
Assyria boasts, “I am shrewd” and proclaims itself “a giant.” But truly he is a fool who exalts himself above the power of the Lord and does not see that all things are done only in Him. Yes, with what wisdom Isaiah speaks when he questions: “Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?” and, could a rod “sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood”? How clearly he exposes the foolishness of the vain boasting of those who are mighty in their own eyes.
And how well his lesson leads to Jesus’ own. “Everything has been given over to [Jesus] by [His] Father”: all power is in our Lord’s hands. And when He states, “No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son – and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him,” what is He saying but that no one comes to the Father, no one receives any blessing of the Father’s power and love, unless He humbles himself before Jesus who is the Chosen One? Nothing of God can anyone know, nothing of His power can we share – no salvation is found at all unless we come to Him as a child.
“Shall He who formed the ear not hear? Or He who formed the eye not see?” Do you believe your vision greater than His own? “Understand, you senseless ones among the people; and, you fools, when will you be wise.” For though these puffed-up souls “murder” “the fatherless” with their tongue, though “widow and stranger they slay” in their wicked deceit, the truth shall not escape them: justice shall indeed come. And as “the upright of heart… follow it” – follow the Lord of all to eternal glory – for those who take pride in their own power, “instead of His glory there will be kindling like the kindling of fire.” Know this, you who are slow to believe.
O LORD, let us be as your children,
doing your will in all humility.
YHWH, what greater knowledge can we have than to know you who know all things? Of what worth is our wisdom apart from you and your blessing? Vainly we toil upon this earth, seeking our own gain and falling into wickedness – reveal yourself to us that we might be raised from our blindness. Else we shall surely die.
Trusting in our own power, what a fateful path we tread, O LORD, for then we walk further and further from you, and so further and further from true light. In darkness we can but end, putting our faith thus in creatures. But if we turn to you, our Creator, and recognize your power over us, then we shall be blessed by your love, for then we shall enter your presence. Then we shall be doing your will and sharing in your wisdom, and so finding your light.
From all our wickedness let us turn, O LORD, by the grace of your chastisement, and let us be as children before you, obedient to your Word and so sharing in your life.
Mon, 11 July 2016
(Is.7:1-9; Ps.48:2-9; Mt.11:20-24)
“Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!”
“Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail.” For “great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God” and “renowned is He as a stronghold.” But the faithless shall be as the rebellious nations which came against the Lord and His anointed: these “shall not stand” but “shall be crushed.” Though “the kings assemble, [though] they come on together” against the “city of the great King,” they shall be seized with “quaking,” with “anguish, like a woman’s in labor.” They shall be “stunned, terrified, routed.”
And so Jesus proclaims His rebuke of Capernaum and the other “towns where most of His miracles had been worked.” So His severe reproach echoes to all faithless hearts, hearts which have refused His mercy, who have turned from His wonders: “I assure you, it will go easier for Sodom than for you on the day of judgment.” Sodom was burned with fire. There is no city greater known for sin than this profligate place which sought even the rape of the angels. And so, what shall be the fate of those who turn now from the preaching of Jesus, from His holy presence among us? What shall become indeed of the baptized who reject the grace at work in their souls? One can only shudder to think of the horrors built up by such turning away, by such “failure to reform.”
O Lord, how often I have turned from you; how little of your grace I have treasured in my soul. How little faith have I. And so, how I fear your mighty hand, your perfect, absolute light. Who shall stand in the purity of your love? Who can know your holiness? My heart condemns me of my sin; “in sackcloth and ashes” I come before you, seeking the strength found only in your touch. Send me not “down to the realm of death” but lift this faithless soul to your side. Let me fear no attack of the world. Enable me to stand in your light.
O LORD, make us your House, faithful and true,
that we might find your protection and glory.
YHWH, let us be your House, your holy City, faithful to you and so finding your secure protection and your blessing unto Heaven. Help us to reform our lives that we might be made entirely in your image.
Great are you, O LORD, and worthy of all our praise and worship. You alone are God and to you alone should we be devoted. It is you in whom we find our hope, you who are our stronghold. With you as our God, all our enemies flee before us, for it is you who fight for us against all the evils of this world.
For your miracles let us praise you, LORD; let us never be blind to your hand at work in our midst. Let us not be as ungrateful sons failing to recognize your goodness to us and the provisions you make for our inheritance. Let us rather be as your only Son, turning always to you and to the fulfillment of your will. Then we shall be like Him in your kingdom, seated with all your angels and saints around your holy throne. You alone are our King; let our enemies tremble before you.
Sun, 10 July 2016
O monastic father
who led the way into the desert
where the Lord speaks to men’s hearts,
where He calls souls to perfect worship,
putting Christ before all else
and treating others as He Himself…
O you who prayed most perfectly,
you who knew God so intimately –
pray that our distracted minds
will somehow be conformed
to listening for His voice
and answering His call
to serve Him with all our lives.
Help us, dear brother,
dear father in the faith,
to find our dwelling place
in the kingdom,
to live so completely
according to God’s Word,
that with great fervor,
with overflowing love,
we may accomplish His will
and join you in His presence.
Sun, 10 July 2016
(Is.1:10-17; Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.10:34-11:1)
“Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!”
Elsewhere in Scripture we read, “The Lord chastises those whom He loves” (Heb.12:6), and this truth is made evident in our readings today. The Lord commands us through the prophecy of Isaiah, “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” Our psalm continues the same theme, declaring again in the voice of God, “You hate discipline and cast my words behind you.” And the lesson is fulfilled in Jesus’ own admonishment: “Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
How difficult for many to hear Jesus’ words: “My mission is to spread, not peace, but division.” How in conflict with their image of a pleasant Jesus placed so neatly in a politically proper box. How they would anesthetize themselves against the suffering of the cross. But the same Spirit who speaks through Isaiah, proclaiming, “Hear the word of the Lord, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!” is He who speaks through the Son, who Himself condemns the towns that do not receive His preaching and presence to a worse fate than these infamous cities. Our Lord is no less offended by “worthless offerings” and “octaves with wickedness.” He is no more deaf to our disobedience or blind to our sin. In fact, as He is the fulfillment of the love of God in the forgiveness and grace He offers all, so He is the fulfillment of God’s justice in the ultimate judgment of every soul.
“I will correct you by drawing [your sins] up before your eyes,” the Lord declares through our psalmist. And does not Jesus call the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” (Mt.12:34)? Does He not call Peter “Satan” (Mt.16:23)? Does He not open all our eyes to the sin upon our souls to save us from final damnation? If He did not do this, could He say He loves us? Is it not by this cross placed firmly upon our backs that we rise from the sin weighing down our hearts? Otherwise, would we not drown in sorrow?
Brothers and sisters, do not try to ration away your cross by vain supposition. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing who would convince you there remains no place for the wood, for the blood. The world is ever and more a place of sin, and the devil ceases not to lead souls to perdition. Be warned by the Lord of all. Stand chastised in His love. Wash yourselves clean of all pride and vanity; be not as he who “brings himself to ruin.” You are called to be the Lord’s image in the world; and the Word made flesh ends His life on earth fixed to a cross. Accept His gift of love.
O LORD, let us be brought to nothing for you;
let all the sin within us die
that we might be your disciples.
YHWH, let us welcome you and your Word and those who bring it to us. Though your Word is hard, it is our means of salvation, for only the Son’s Cross leads to life; only your chastisement will break our hardened hearts. O let us love you above all others!
We are sinful, LORD, pretending a love that is empty and false. And so, what do we merit but condemnation for our turning our hearts from you? No better than the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah, our house is full of wickedness, our hands full of blood. We do all but to please ourselves; our sacrifices are but to feed our bellies, and so are no sacrifice at all. Bring our sins up before our eyes! that we might see and turn away from them.
Your sword, O LORD, your sword alone will separate us from our sinful deeds. Your Word alone will save our souls. Let us cherish your discipline as once we treasured the vain things of this world. The word of your prophets let us desire that we might receive a prophet’s reward.
Sat, 9 July 2016
(Dt.30:10-14; Ps.69:14,17,30-31,33-34,36-37 or 19:8-11; Col.1:15-20; Lk.10:25-37)
“He lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn,
and cared for him.”
This “Samaritan traveler… was moved with compassion” upon seeing the poor victim on the road. And so he “poured oil and wine over his wounds” and provided for his healing. Such is the love to which we are called.
In our first reading, Moses exhorts us: “Heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep His commandments… Return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.” We are told this commandment of love is not far from us, but in our very hearts and on our very tongues – “You have only to carry it out.”
In our second reading, Paul tells of Jesus’ presence in all creation: “In Him were created all things in heaven and on earth… He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” He tells us, too, that it is by “the blood of His cross” that all things are reconciled, that peace comes. And in our gospel, the commandment to love God and neighbor is clearly presented, both in the words of the law, and in a parable of its employment.
The commandment we have is indeed to love, brothers and sisters, to love God and to love neighbor. This word burns in our hearts. We must “carry it out.” It does little good simply to know the law; it must be put into practice to have merit. And who are we called to love? Jesus makes it quite clear that we are called to love all who are in need; we are called to respond with compassion at the sight or the cry of any of His “lowly ones,” His “victim[s].” Remember that Paul has told us that Jesus lives in and through all creation: He is not in some and not in others. So, mustn’t we help our Lord when He is in need? Has He not told us, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me”? Is not every soul in His blessed Hand?
And we must be His blessed hands here on this earth. We must indeed be like Him. Let us look at David’s psalm. In it we hear the cry of those “afflicted and in pain” calling on the favor of the Lord: “In your great kindness answer me with your constant help.” Here we see that in “great mercy” the Lord turns toward those who seek Him. Brothers and sisters, “the Lord hears the poor” and we must be as He is. We must cry out to Him ourselves in our own need, yes, but we are also called as His disciples to serve in His place, to share His love – to pour His blood upon the wounds of those in need.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Coat of Warmth" (1st part) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us carry out your Word
by caring for the needs of others
in Jesus your Son.
YHWH, let us do as your Son has done; let us live in and by His blood. Compassion may we have for all in need that all might know your mercy.
All things were created in and through Jesus, and all things have life because of Him. To reconcile all things He died on the Cross that all might dwell in your peace. And to what are we called, O LORD, but to help bring that peace to bear upon this earth? What must we do but share His blood with all souls, that all souls might indeed find themselves alive in Him?
Enlighten our eye, O LORD, to the truth of your presence in the love of your Son. Let us see His light shining before us this day and allow it to shine through us as well. O let your Word be fulfilled, your Word that burns in our hearts even as we speak. You hear the prayer of all your lowly ones – may we listen to them with you.
Fri, 8 July 2016
O righteous band of martyrs
united by faith in Christ and His Church
in a nation of religious oppression:
children and grandparents,
workers and teachers,
lay and ordained,
native and foreign-born…
all as one you gave your lives,
led by your convictions –
pray the Word of the Lord
come to a land so cold
to the love and worship
of Jesus, all men’s Savior.
Pray the Holy Spirit
fall like purging and redeeming fire
upon every soul in the country
where you so honorably died;
pray His power spread
and bring renewal
upon the face of all the earth.
Fri, 8 July 2016
(Is.6:1-8; Ps.93:1-2,5; Mt.10:24-33)
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,’
they cried one to the other.
‘All the earth is filled with His glory.’”
Hear the angels’ song. It is their praise, which fills the heavens like fragrant incense, that our psalmist proclaims: “The Lord is king, in splendor robed; robed is the Lord and girt about with strength.” Exalted is the majesty of the Father in heaven, upon whom no eye can gaze, and so of His Son. And rightly does the prophet Isaiah – “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips” – fear having seen “the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of His garment filling the temple.”
And should we not fear Him, too? Should we not fear the glorious Son in whose light we dwell and in whose steps we follow? Do we realize His Majesty? Do we somehow presume to outrank our teacher, or are we as the pupil who is “glad to become like his teacher, the slave like his master”? If humbled before the Lord of all, we shall fear nothing of this world. Fearing Him who “can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna,” any power of the devil becomes as nothing in our sight. For we know our God holds every “single sparrow” in His Hand, and we “are worth more than a flock of sparrows.”
The Lord sends “one of the seraphim” to touch the lips of the prophet with an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.” (So holy is the Lord that even the angels cannot touch His fire with their hands.) And so Isaiah’s “wickedness is removed, [his] sin purged.” And so he is sent, in turn, to proclaim the Word of God. First he must be purified; first we all must be purged of sin, for indeed “holiness befits [His] house” – holiness alone may stand in His presence, and only the tongue cleansed of stain can “speak in the light” the truth of our God. And as the prophet speaks, as the psalmist sings, so are we sent to proclaim the glory of “the King, the Lord of hosts.”
“Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord.” You alone are holy. What can we pray but that the earth be filled with your glory, but that we shall enter your house and praise your name all the days we are blessed with life? Make us holy as thou art.
O LORD, you are the Almighty God
and we are your sons;
and so, how blessed we are to die with Jesus.
YHWH, holiness befits your house and only those who are holy enter there. And it is only you who can make us holy, for you alone are holy. O Jesus, acknowledge us before your Father; let us never be disowned.
O LORD, let our lips be cleansed that we might sing your praise and so be found worthy to join your choir of angels in Heaven. Send your angel to touch our lips with a coal from the fire of your altar; let your Holy Spirit descend upon us to sanctify our souls. How else shall we look upon you? How else shall we become as you are?
Your house is filled with your glory, LORD, with the smoke rising from your holy altar. Let our prayers be offered on that altar, our very lives be immolated with your Son that as incense they may rise before you. O let us proclaim your glory from the housetops and die with you in that same glory. Praise to you, our Creator and Redeemer, and our Sanctifier! Holy are you, O LORD!
Thu, 7 July 2016
(Hos.14:2-10; Ps.51:3-4,8-9,12-14,17; Mt.10:16-23)
“O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
Hosea instructs the Israelites, “Take with you words, and return to the Lord,” and this David does in his psalm of sorrow. In “sincerity of heart” he begs the Lord’s forgiveness for his sin and finds that the Lord creates “a clean heart” for him. “In [Him] the orphan finds compassion,” and so the humbled king receives the Lord’s cleansing grace.
Because the Lord does “forgive all iniquity, and receive[s] what is good,” so we find that Hosea’s prophecy – “He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots” – is fulfilled in His Church today. We indeed “blossom like the vine”: the vine of Christ covers the earth. And though “straight are the paths of the Lord,” though Jesus’ blunt words to His disciples – “You will be hated by all on account of me” – are realized in all who are “brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them and the Gentiles”… though persecution, the cross, be an inevitable part of every Christian’s life, yet through it all the Church is strengthened, growing “like a verdant cypress tree.” For always it is the Lord who strengthens us; always it is “the Spirit of [our] Father… speaking in [us].” It is He who opens our lips; it is His praise we proclaim with all our words, and so what can He do but bless us? We “say no more, ‘our god,’ to the work of our hands,” and so no more do we sin. Taking refuge in the love of God, “because of [Him we] bear fruit.”
“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord. “A willing spirit sustain in me,” that your wrath might ever be “turned away,” that I might forever be purified by your grace – that the pangs I suffer never be the result of my sin but rather the blessing of sharing your cross in this world. Come, O Son of Man, and find your sheep suffering all for you. Your Word keep upon our souls.
O LORD, cleanse our hearts of sin
that you might speak through us,
that we might do your work in this world.
YHWH, wash us clean of all our sins this day that our tongues might freely praise your NAME and declare your glory to all the world, that we might be ready even to die for you. You are our salvation; you are our very life. It is only by you we bear fruit – without you we would certainly die. And so, a clean heart create in us that we might be your faithful disciples.
Speak in us this day, O LORD; in our lives let your will be done. And as we blossom by your favor let us never forget that it is by your love alone we grow. If we perform good works, it is only by your grace, for truly we deserved death for our sins but your compassion has made us new again and prepared us for our service.
The work of our hands shall not save us, LORD, but only you and your love. Let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones, even of the temple, but set our hearts and desires on you alone. Truly you hold our lives in your hands – let us have your wisdom to guide us, that we might never again turn away but ever recognize you as our Savior.
Wed, 6 July 2016
(Hos.11:1,3-4,8-9; Ps.80:2-4,15-16; Mt.10:7-15)
“I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you.”
And He comes to us as do the disciples today, blessing each home as He enters. And “if the home is deserving, [His] blessing will descend upon it. If it is not, [His] blessing will return” to Him. Be careful to receive the blessing of the Lord, for if you reject Him, He will leave you, shaking the dust from His feet, and “it will go easier for the region of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than it will” for you.
In days past the Lord loved Israel as “a child,” drawing him “with human cords, with bands of love.” And though “they did not know that He was their healer,” though they rejected Him, His “pity [was] stirred” and He did “not give vent to [His] blazing anger.” He withheld His “flames” of wrath and offered them forgiveness. Thus Jesus is sent into our midst. For we, as Israel, have sinned. All have spurned the love of God and gone astray. But here comes the Holy One to heal us once again.
But now if we should reject Him, now if we should spurn His Son present to us, how shall we be saved? What more can the Lord God do to draw us home to His loving arms. The Lord has heard the psalmist’s plea to “look down from heaven and see,” to “take care of this vine, and protect what [His] right hand has planted.” He comes to His children wholly offering Himself for their sakes. Like the apostles, like His saints who come without money or goods but possessing everything they need and giving all this blessing freely to any who would receive it, so the Lord comes to us this day – and do we receive Him?
There is nothing more the Lord can do to save our souls: He has died for us. He has given all He has freely for our redemption. His Son walks amongst us. Enter His reign today. Accept His blessing. The day of judgment is not far from you.
O LORD, save us from the fires of hell;
obedient to your call,
let us come into your kingdom.
YHWH, let your peace be upon this House, upon your Church, upon all souls. Let none reject the grace you give as a gift to your children. Truly you love us and forgive us our sins – let us accept your healing this day.
You send forth apostles to spread your Word, to bring salvation, to bring your healing to all souls, LORD. You look upon us with pity and provide for our care, despite our failure to recognize your presence. Our sins you would remember no more, your love you would plant as a seed in the heart of our home, in our very spirits… Let us be your faithful children and cherish your reign over us!
How shall we be made worthy to be citizens of Heaven? How shall we find your blessing upon our town, upon our poor houses? Let us provide for those you send forth to serve, LORD; then we shall be welcoming you. And let us go forth ourselves as you call. Let us place our trust entirely in you and in your Word of truth, and so find all things provided for. In your House let us make our home.
Tue, 5 July 2016
O perpetual virgin
who defended your purity
even with your life
and so earned the crown
at a tender age…
O bride of Christ
who prayed even for your murderer
and so served to inspire
his conversion –
pray for us, too, dear child;
pray the lust and violence
so prevalent in this world of sin,
and in our own hearts,
be purged from our midst
that we, too, might turn
and find the purity
O pray innocence and chastity
overtake this age
and all souls stand
in the light of Christ.
Tue, 5 July 2016
(Hos.10:1-3,7-8,12; Ps.105:2-7; Mt.10:1-7)
“Jesus sent these men on mission as the Twelve.”
And in these men the Lord founds His Church, choosing “first Simon, now known as Peter,” as the Rock upon whom the Building rests, and in like fashion all the twelve apostles, upon whom He places His Spirit. And so the foundation is set. And so none can separate themselves from these and their teaching, for in them and in this Church, Jesus Himself resides. It is in their place the bishops stand; it is through these, priests are ordained. In His holy Catholic Church we find the New Jerusalem.
The Lord chose Abraham and his son Isaac, and placed His blessings upon the twelve tribes of Jacob and their descendants. He does not remove this blessing, does not break His covenant. And the Lord set up in Jerusalem His place of worship. This, too, does not change. Regardless of how corrupt the priests or kings may have been throughout the history of Israel and Judah, these remain His chosen people, and here is His temple. And when another would rise up to take the place of what God had anointed, as typified by Jeroboam’s setting up the golden calf in Samaria that the people might worship there and so not go up to Jerusalem, this pride the Lord curses. In our first reading He vows, “The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters. The high places of Aven [Iniquity] shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.” Yes, “God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars” for “their heart is false.” It is not these upon whom His Spirit rests.
Brothers and sisters, “it is time to seek the Lord,” to come into the House His hands have made – not a separate Church set up apart from His covenants but standing in fulfillment of them with the coming of Jesus as the Christ and Messiah – and realize that “the reign of God is at hand.” Here in His New Jerusalem you shall find His presence; here you shall hear His teaching transmitted through the apostles and receive the Bread of His sacrifice at their holy hands. Know that “He, the Lord, is our God” and “throughout the earth His judgments prevail.” “Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord,” for now He has come to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now through His apostles, through those who “seek to serve Him constantly,” He gathers all into the New Jerusalem – upon this House His favor remains.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, you send your apostles forth to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to gather them into the New Jerusalem, your Holy Catholic Church. Here are the pillars of your Church, here the foundation. In these Twelve you send out, the promise to Abraham is fulfilled – here are the twelve sons who will do your will.
All false gods you will destroy, LORD; all unholy altars shall be torn down. And every nation that turns from you and the call of your apostles will not enter into your reign but cry to the mountains and hills to fall upon themselves.
Save all faithful souls from such woe, O LORD. Let us see your hand at work in our midst, that we might praise your NAME. Cast all evil from our hearts, heal us of every disease, that we might be whole in your sight and so enter freely into your fold. Into your reign let us come, into the House founded on your apostles. In Spirit and truth let us worship you on your holy mountain.
Mon, 4 July 2016
O child of the Apostle Paul,
follower in his steps,
preacher of the Word
he proclaimed so completely
with his very life,
you who desired so
to bear the fruit of love in patience,
to share in the hardships of the apostles
as well as in their glory,
and led your fellow ordained
zealously to desire the same –
pray there shall be reform
in this day among our priests
and among the people of God,
that all will so zealously follow
the teaching and way of the Apostle,
which is, of course, the way of Christ:
to die, to lay down our lives,
to suffer indignation
and pray for our enemies,
all the while calling souls
to the Lord’s undying love,
to His saving blood.
Mon, 4 July 2016
(Hos.8:4-7,11-13; Ps.115:3-10; Mt.9:32-38)
“Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does.
Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men.”
In Israel, the people have turned from worship of the living God and “with their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction.” As the golden “calf of Samaria” is “destined for the flames,” so they “shall be like them, everyone who trusts in them.” So empty are the lives of those who worship wood and stone, and to inevitable destruction do they come. That which we make rots; only what is made by God endures.
How the Lord Jesus contrasts with the false and empty gods worshiped by the nations: where they are dead, He is alive. He alone is able to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone walks the earth with a heart that is “moved with pity.” He alone reveals the living God and enables us thereby to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone gives us strength to walk this earth and do His work. Their gods are mute – “they have mouths but they speak not.” But He takes the “mute who was possessed by a demon” and enables him to speak. It is He who gives us our souls, who renews our spirit.
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” the crowds exclaim as they witness the glory of God in their midst. It is as if they shout, “God is alive!” and come to faith in His presence. For here He breathes upon them; here His heart beats in their hearing. In Jesus all see the wonders of the Father in heaven come to earth and made real before their eyes. Such is God’s will – to bring heaven to earth. Such is His great grace – to send us His only Son. And what can we do but rejoice at the works of the Lord; what can we do but join Him in such labor?
“He shall remember their guilt and punish their sins,” those who harden their hearts against Him and trust in the wisdom of their own minds and the works of their own hands. For only the works wrought by His hands, through His living Spirit, are genuine, are true – are alive. All else dies. So let us leave off any empty sacrifice, any false worship not accomplished in the House of God. There is but one God and one Church through which He works, and only by what He has established will we know the grace and freedom of the living Lord of all. Only in Jesus’ Body and Blood do we find the life that yields lasting grain.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, open our mouths that we might sing your praise, and never again call upon false gods. Your Spirit alone dwell in us this day, and we shall again be your blessed children.
O LORD, how could we be so fooled as to worship wood and stone, or other more modern images made by our own hands? What we see on the TV screen is not real, yet we give it precedence over living souls. Our desire is set on such empty illusions, on such dead matter, and so we die of hunger far from you. And so we lie prostrate from exhaustion, from chasing the vain contrivances of our corrupted minds.
But you come to save us, LORD, from such empty worship of these no-gods, from these pursuits which sap our strength, which but blind our eyes and leave us without tongues for speaking the truth. You send laborers forth to relieve our dying spirits; you come into our midst each day to feed us with Jesus’ Body and Blood, that we might not fade away in our vanity but be revived by His sacred presence. Let us stand and walk with you who are life itself!
Sun, 3 July 2016
O reconciler of warring sons,
tranquility in the midst
of great disturbance,
though born of royal blood
and married to a king,
the Lord you preferred
to all the riches of this world,
and so His peace
became your own –
pray we, too, may keep our hearts
set upon that which passes not away
and the peace which passes understanding;
pray our prayers be deep as your own
and reflect the same tranquility,
that those in our own families
and those under our care,
all those whom we meet
and to whom we relate,
may find the Lord’s peace
dwelling in us
with His divine charity
and so be reconciled to Him
and to one another.
Sun, 3 July 2016
(Hos.2:16-18,21-22; Ps.145:2-9; Mt.9:18-26)
“When the crowd had been put out
He entered and took her by the hand,
and the little girl got up.”
How like Hosea’s prophecy today is the Lord’s raising of Jairus’ daughter in our gospel. For the Lord speaks through His prophet, saying, “I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart,” and Jesus does this when He puts the crowd out of the house before whispering to the little girl to arise. And as the Lord declares in our first reading, “I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy,” so Jesus takes the hand of the child, wedding His Spirit unto her own; and so, as the redemption is promised Israel in her again calling the Lord, “My husband,” so Jairus’ daughter stands and walks in the light of Christ.
“She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,” it is said of the Lord’s chosen nation. With the faith of a child all shall be raised. And as the Savior covers the “woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve [full] years” with the edge of His cloak, taking her into His wedding chamber and so immediately healing her flow of blood, so Jesus would make us all His own; so in His grace and love He would enter all our souls and make us one with Him. And so would all find themselves “restored… to health,” His blood alone coursing through our veins.
“I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord,” our God declares. And knowing the Lord, being wed unto Him in the depths of our hearts where He speaks, promising us His love, what can we do but “praise [His] name forever and ever” with David His king? What can we do but “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wonderful works”? For “great is the Lord and highly to be praised,” and His Spirit wed to our own we are overwhelmed by the glory of His presence and cannot help but declare our love for Him who has loved us above all.
Listen to His voice, brothers and sisters; let Him enter your hearts and make you His own. And you shall be raised from the death of sin unto His glorious majesty. Yes, may news of His grace circulate among all; let us “publish the fame of [His] abundant goodness and joyfully sing of [His] justice,” for He speaks now to our souls.
O LORD, speak to our hearts
that we might rise in faith with your Son,
and so praise your glory.
YHWH, you come to us in quiet places and whisper in our ear to rise and be with you. Our souls you wed to your Spirit that we might live forever in you. Let us remain faithful to your glorious presence in our midst; with courage let us come to you to be healed.
You are merciful, LORD, and desire our good. You would see us well and walking with you. And so you call to our hearts to worship you, to make your love our sole desire.
Cover us, O LORD, with your kindness; show your compassion to our souls. And we shall rise up and praise your NAME – one with you we will extol your glory forever. For what greater gift could we find than you yourself abiding in our heart?
Let us hear your voice calling us, LORD, in the quiet, in the silence of your presence. Cast all distractions from our minds. You alone let us know and desire, and we shall find ourselves at peace in your presence. Let all the world know your abundant goodness toward your children.
Sat, 2 July 2016
O believing apostle
who declared the divinity of Jesus,
our Lord and our God,
all doubt disappears
in the light of your faith,
for we see with you
what is beyond all eyes –
pray for an increase
in our faltering faith,
that we shall indeed believe
though we do not see;
let it be as if we ourselves
have touched the nail marks
in His hands and feet
and placed our hands into His side.
So firmly let our faith be founded
that we shall reach out
to all mankind
and the truth of Christ
as the Son of God
will grow in all hearts
until that Day we see the Lord
with our own eyes.
Sat, 2 July 2016
(Is.66:10-14c; Ps.66:1-7,16,20; Gal.6:14-18; Lk.10:1-12,17-20)
“The Lord’s power shall be known to His servants.”
Paul states: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus instructs: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” The bottom line is that “the laborer deserves his payment.”
The prosperity of Jerusalem shall flow “like a river” over those who work as laborers in the field of the Word of God: “peace and mercy” shall be to the “Israel of God.” All “who were mourning over her,” all who have suffered the indignity of the cross in this exile of ours, shall indeed rejoice as they “suck fully of the milk of her comfort” in the heavenly kingdom which the Lord brings to us this day. Indeed, “let us rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.” And we share in His reign who serve Him now beneath the shadow of the cross.
Satan falls now “like lightning from the sky”; we “tread upon serpents and scorpions,” crushing them underfoot by the power the Lord gives us as we tread this earth in His Name. Sent forth with nothing, we have everything, for He is with us who provides from the throne of heaven. “As nurslings” we are carried in the arms of the New Jerusalem “and fondled in her lap.” “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,” the Lord assures us; and indeed in the cross we bear, “the marks of Jesus” on our bodies, we find the open gate that leads to the house of peace: the wounds themselves are the doorway.
“The kingdom of God is at hand for you,” my brothers and sisters. I proclaim it in your hearing this day. “Peace” and the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters.” Peace be to your house. You shall know His peace and find His healing as you accept His sweet cross upon your backs. “When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass”; for in that day you shall be a “new creation.” You will say with Paul, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” and you will make your abode in heaven. That day is upon you now, brothers and sisters. Heed the Lord’s call to go forth as lambs in the midst of wolves, and you shall find His incomparable blessing of the peace which passes all understanding – you shall come into His kingdom.
“Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what He has done for me.” For me “He has changed the sea into dry land” and by the blood of His cross cleansed these feet to which the dust did once cling, that I might enter heaven. Walk now in His power, I beg you, children of the Lord. “The harvest is abundant.” Let us go forth laboring and eating of this Bread.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may your Spirit guide us
on the road to the Cross.
YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom? How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will? Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it. Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross. For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way. Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need.
O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh. How concerned we are about the things of this earth! And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin? Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days.
O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love! May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin. Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.
Fri, 1 July 2016
(Amos 9:11-15; Ps.85:9,11-14; Mt.9:14-17)
“I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel.”
Of the city of David, the Lord promises, “I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” Beautiful imagery is given indeed through the prophet Amos to illustrate the renewal of the land now fallen: “The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it.” Indeed, in His great grace the Lord vows, “Never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them.” And so we have prophecy of the New Jerusalem.
Our psalm continues such prophecy of the kingdom to come, declaring, “He proclaims peace to His people, and to His faithful ones… The Lord Himself will give His benefits; our land shall yield its increase.” Justice and truth shall be known in fullness, even as salvation walks “along the way of His steps.”
And these steps have been trodden in our midst. Jesus is coming and has come, bringing in Himself the new wine of the New Jerusalem, which courses like a river through all this City’s streets. Indeed His Blood flows in our veins now. Indeed we become the new wineskins that hold His abundant goodness, and so are lifted to the kingdom of heaven. John’s disciples do not yet understand. If the Lord’s own followers have difficulty seeing, it should not be surprising that those who have yet to be baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit yet find themselves preoccupied with the stipulations of a law that is passing away, a law – so embodied by the Pharisees – which is to be subsumed by the greater Law of love Jesus comes bleeding to bring into our midst.
But they shall. There can be little doubt that these followers of John and his baptism will come, with the Lord’s own disciples, and be washed in the blood that makes all things new. There is certainty that these, as even some Pharisees, shall “drink the wine” of the New Covenant, even as we do this day.
Brothers and sisters, this new wine is upon our altars even this day; before us is set the Blood that washes all clean. It is for our restoration the Lord provides this feast. Let us not refrain from partaking what He has died to bring into our midst, but let us be indeed the new wineskins filled with His Word and His Blood, and declare His salvation unto the nations.
O LORD, the wine of your Son’s blood renews us;
may we be open to receive the blessings
He pours upon us.
YHWH, you are our salvation; in your Son’s flesh let us take our refuge, of His blood let us partake. It is in Him we find our peace, in Him that our house, our own flesh, is rebuilt, redeemed for the kingdom to come, for the New Jerusalem. It is in His walking the earth that truth is known; in Him justice flows down from the heavens. In His skin let us make our home.
Your promise is great, O LORD, the promise of eternal life, the promise of bearing your NAME and so being as you are. In Jesus we see that promise before our eyes – send your Spirit to fulfill that promise in our poor lives.
O LORD, let us be rebuilt; raise us up from our ruins. It is at your hand we find our food – only by your grace do we live at all. And so, let us return to you and walk with your Son along the way of salvation. And so, let us be wed to you as your faithful ones. In you we place our hope; by you let us be made new.
Thu, 30 June 2016
(Amos 8:4-6,9-12; Ps.119:2,10,20,30,40,131,Mt.4:46; Mt.9:9-13)
“Many tax collectors and those known as sinners
came to join Jesus and His disciples at dinner.”
It is just such as these that Amos prophesies against in our first reading; it is sinners such as Matthew whom he addresses when he declares, “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!” For the apostle the Lord calls today is a tax collector, one of those famous for extorting money from his fellow Jews even while standing in the stead of their occupiers, the Romans. And so are he and his kind not like those who can’t wait for an end to the Lord’s sabbath that they might “fix their scales for cheating,” greedily proclaiming, “Even the refuse of the wheat we will sell”? And so is it any wonder the Pharisees complained, “What reason can the Teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?”
Our psalm itself supports the importance of following the law of the Lord, stating, “Happy are they who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.” And so, how unhappy, how lacking in God’s blessing must Matthew be to live apart from His word. And so, are not the Pharisees correct in their assessment that such as he deserve but condemnation?
They are correct. It cannot be denied. But what they cannot see is that they are just as guilty. What they do not understand, as these others do, is that before their eyes the Lord’s prophecy through Amos is being realized: “I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight,” our God makes known – and it is the sinners they condemn who are the ones who “mourn as for an only son”; it is they who now “gasp with open mouth in [their] yearning for [the Lord’s] commands”… it is they who recognize the famine “for hearing the word of the Lord” that is upon the earth and upon their souls, and turn to the Son who feeds the hungry even as He joins them at table. What these Pharisees do not see is that the justice of the Lord is not the judgment in their hearts, else all, including themselves, would be condemned.
Brothers and sisters, open your eyes to the emptiness of your soul and come to His table this day with open mouth and open heart to hear His Word and receive His Body and Blood. For it is repentant sinners such as you whom the Lord feeds quite freely.
O LORD, in the darkness of our midday,
your Son has made the sacrifice for our sins;
and so now you but desire our merciful love,
that we should long to be as Him.
YHWH, how shall we live unless you feed us with the bread of your Word? We die as in a desert when you withhold your mercy from our souls. Come to our table this day and give us the food we need to live eternally – give us your very self!
Is there not a famine upon the land, O LORD? Are we not without the light of your guidance? Do we not turn from your commands to love of gain and so lose our souls in sin? How the earth is covered in darkness!
Have mercy on us, dear God, have mercy. Open our hearts to listen to your voice of instruction; let us thirst for the words of your mouth as we abandon our wicked posts. If we seek you, we shall find you – let us set our hearts on your love.
It is your great desire to forgive our sins, to save us by your mercy, LORD. You search us out to gather us to your table. On the flesh of your Son let us feast this day. Let us be found by your grace in the kingdom of Heaven.
Wed, 29 June 2016
O first of souls to shed blood,
whose sacrifice began the great persecution,
you indeed handed your bodies over
to the mad king of this dark world,
but everlasting reward you have gained
for yourselves and for the Church;
your robes washed clean
in the blood of the Lamb,
you served to nourish the growth
of the people of God –
pray your holy offering
shall always be remembered,
that the Church in this day
and in all days
may be blessed by your witness
that you might light our path to Heaven
until our crucified Lord returns again
to gather all of faith and courage
into His redeeming arms.
Direct download: June_30_The_First_Martyrs_of_the_Holy_Roman_Church.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Wed, 29 June 2016
(Amos 7:10-17; Ps.19:8-11; Mt.9:1-8)
“The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Amos says of himself in our first reading: “The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people, Israel.” And so he can say, “Now hear the word of the Lord!” And so he can speak for God. And so he can reveal the Lord’s will to the people, calling them to return to His presence.
Like the prophets is the law, of which David, another shepherd called by God – himself to be king – sings today in our psalm: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” As the prophets’ chastisement would bring healing to those who listen and obey the word of the Lord they impart, so the law of God is meant to bring a “fear of the Lord [which] is pure, enduring forever,” so it, too, would bring blessed healing to the wayward child, “rejoicing the heart” and “enlightening the eye.”
But the people did not listen to the prophets; they refused to obey the law of the Lord. His words they cast aside, unable to swallow them, unable to make them an enduring part of their lives. Like a cloud which passes, so ephemeral, so abstract and therefore unknown they would too often become. And so the Father sent His Son.
“Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven,” Jesus says to the “paralyzed man lying on a mat”; and this word He has come to make real in all our hearing – to all He brings forgiveness for their straying hearts. Even the stiff necks of the scribes the Lord would bring healing. The sins of the past He comes to wash away, advocating to the Father for us that we knew not what we were doing before His arrival, and come now He has to make real for us God’s presence in our midst, to take away our ignorance of the Father’s love… to enable us to stand up and walk “toward [our] home.”
Indeed, “a feeling of awe” should come over us as it did over the crowd that witnessed Jesus’ power, for the same authority resides with us now in His Church – He has not left His people abandoned. And so, come to the Lord and confess your sins, for the Lord in His grace gave “such authority to men” to act in His stead as does Christ. And now find the courage and conviction to live your life led by the Incarnate Word of God. May your soul be in the hands of the Good Shepherd.
O LORD, your Word be in our hearts and upon our lips
that we might be saved from death.
YHWH, in ancient times you gave authority to ordinary men to speak in your NAME. Simple shepherds you called to prophesy against Israel and serve you as king. In the fullness of time you sent your Son with the power to forgive men’s sins, to heal us of all our ills. And now your authority rests in your Son’s apostles, those whom He sends forth to forgive and feed your flock. May all souls come to your Church to receive grace from on high!
Who will listen to your Word, O LORD, and turn away from his sin? Who will be refreshed by your Law and find the enlightening of his eye? Who treasures the sweetness of your chastisement, who knows the mercy bleeding in the heart of Jesus…? Who of this fallen race would stand and walk with Him toward our home in Heaven?
Give us courage, dear God, that you are with us and you care for all your sons. From our exile let us be taken, that we might be held in your Hand.
Tue, 28 June 2016
O most blessed apostles of the Lord
upon whom the Church is founded
and the faith goes forth,
in you we cannot be shaken
and the Lord’s reign extends
to the ends of the earth –
pray we always take refuge
in His House
and in the teaching of His mouth.
It is you who preserve
the authenticity of the faith;
through you we may be assured
the Spirit of God is with us,
leading us out of the dark prison
of this world
along the narrow path to Heaven.
Pray the chains fall from our hands
and we heed the angel’s command,
remaining faithful to the end,
pouring out our lives like a libation.
Feed the poor sheep in your care.
Tue, 28 June 2016
Acts 12:1-11; Ps.34:2-9; 2Tm.4:6-8,17-18; Mt.16:13-19)
“On this rock I will build my Church,
and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”
We go through death to life, for death has no power over us: the power of Jesus founded firmly on Peter, brought forward by Paul, and present in all the members of the Church and in its faith, has conquered death and leads us all to heaven.
Today we celebrate the solid foundation of the Church in Peter, the man of faith, first of the apostles and rock upon whom we are firmly set; and Paul, the great Apostle, through whom that faith went out to “all the nations.” Our readings today clearly manifest the faith we possess, which overcomes even death, in Jesus’ commissioning of Peter and in the example shown in the lives of both Peter and Paul.
Our first reading describes Peter’s mystical release from prison and reveals in this act our own coming to the heavenly kingdom: the chains of sin fall from us, we are clothed in righteousness, and led through the snares of this world to freedom. And it is he who holds “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” who is led out; and indeed by these keys, by this office and its grace, “the iron gate leading out to the city” opens before us “of itself.” And in our second reading we find Paul declaring the faithful life he has led even unto the end, which he now faces, and that his fighting of the good fight has merited the crown which awaits him on the Day of Lord. He is able to state with confidence, “The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.” Finally, our psalm confirms the protection the Lord grants His faithful ones: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
We are sharers in this faith with Peter and Paul. This is evident in the Church who “prayed fervently to God” on behalf of Peter, and whose prayers were answered in this astounding fashion, and is made certain in Paul’s proclaiming that Jesus gives the reward of a heavenly crown not only to Paul himself “but to all who have looked for His appearing with eager longing.” The Church is one in all its members, and though the Lord has chosen certain of us to special places and granted them special blessings and powers, all are blessed by this same God.
So, today as we rejoice in this faith with which we have been gifted by the Lord, as we “together extol His name,” let us consider the place we have in His holy Church and the work to which He calls us. And let us resolve to fulfill that call, pouring ourselves out unto death, that we might be assured of our entering through the heavenly gate. Let us walk in faith the narrow path the Lord has set before us, for it leads beyond death to life.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt.
Music by Carie Fortney; performed by Carie Fortney and Annette Meyer. Used by permission.
O LORD, may we be loosed
from the chains of this earth
that we might walk with you in Heaven.
YHWH, the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail against you and your Church. To Peter you have given the keys to the kingdom and these shall open every lock the devil can devise; the chains fall from our wrists by the angel you send to guide us.
You deliver us, LORD, from every evil and bring us into your heavenly kingdom. The lion’s mouth shall not close upon us, nor any prison door keep us from you. For we are redeemed by the sacrifice of your Son; in Him and in His blood your Church finds power and grace to facilitate release from all the wiles of the evil one.
Jesus sets your people on solid rock through His commissioning of His apostle Peter. And your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth through Paul and all your disciples. And so, on the day of your Son’s appearance, all shall enter freely through the eternal gates to dwell in your presence forever. You have heard our cries to you, O LORD, and bring us quickly to Heaven.
Mon, 27 June 2016
O great teacher of the Catholic faith
who served to set a foundation
upon which she could grow
in peace and in truth,
in the Spirit of God,
you who valiantly defended her
against attacks of heresy
and shed your blood
in the battle –
pray we shall find shepherds today
to explicate the faith of the apostles
as you have done,
that none shall be led astray
into false doctrine
by whim and fancy,
by pride and envy,
but drink rather the pure milk
of our Mother
and of the one true God.
To vision of the Father let us come
by revelation of His only-begotten Son.
Mon, 27 June 2016
(Amos 3:1-8,4:11-12; Ps.5:4-9; Mt.8:23-27)
“The lion roars – who will not be afraid!
The Lord God speaks – who will not prophesy!”
Yes, the Lord prophesies against Israel today like a lion rending and roaring: “You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.” He brings upon His chosen “such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: [they are] like a brand plucked from the fire.” In no uncertain terms does He cry out through Amos – “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”
A frightening prospect indeed it is which is presented to us in our readings. Here is the Lord God coming to take vengeance on His people. This is He before whom “no evil man remains,” who “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood.” And against His own who turn from Him, He reserves greater punishment.
How shall we react, we who are now become His chosen children? What should we do before such an awesome prospect as the Lord’s hand coming with power? With David we should “bring [our] plea expectantly before [Him]”; with the disciples we should make “our way toward Him” and call out: “Lord, save us! We are lost!” And if we have the faith and humility of the Lord’s king, who declares, “I, because of your abundant kindness, will enter your house; I will worship at your holy temple in fear of you, O Lord,” then with his same confidence we may believe that the Lord will wake and take “the winds and the sea to task” – that what besets us because of our sin and separation from Him will be appeased by the same voice which threatens our destruction thereby. For indeed the Lord is abundantly kind and speaks to us as His own, and chastises us as His own. He raises His voice that we might return to Him; He places us in the fire that we might be purged. Let us find our strength in a holy fear.
And let us join His voice. Let us call out with Him to His blessed children, that all might return to Him who is their maker and protector – that all might be rescued from harm. The Lord would not see us caught in the snare laid for the wicked, and so He has sent His only Son to appease the wrath He has justly spoken forth. Let the lion’s mouth not close upon our heads, but may we be awakened by its voice and open our own mouths to declare the mercy of our God.
O LORD, the wind and the sea obey your Son,
but we harden our hearts against Him –
O let us heed His voice!
YHWH, even wind and sea obey you, and so we call upon your NAME to be saved from their clutches. Let not our sins overwhelm us, but bring us the grace of your salvation.
LORD, we deserve your just punishment, for we have stubbornly turned our hearts from you. Though you have been kind in watching over and protecting us from harm, we have not recognized your goodness toward us and praised your NAME; instead, we have turned to other gods and walked in the wickedness of our hearts. And so, what can you do but cry out against us; and so, what can we be but destroyed if we do not heed your voice?
Give us courage, LORD, for our strength fails us. All we can see is the turmoil our weakness brings upon us. Help us to see beyond the troubles the world presents, troubles we have brought upon ourselves, that we might see you and your power at work, and place all our faith therein. O let us listen to your prophets as they cry out and so walk your way in peace and light, despite the surrounding darkness.
Sun, 26 June 2016
(Amos 2:6-10,13-16; Ps.50:16-23; Mt.8:18-22)
“Consider this, you who forget God,
lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.”
What we should realize from our readings today is that the Word of the Lord is severe. Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, etc. – His chastising hand is upon us in the words He speaks to our sinful hearts. He does not nod and smile as we walk our errant ways, but calls us onto the strait path He treads.
In our first reading and psalm the Lord recounts the sins of the people, “drawing them up before [their] eyes”; and for their crimes He declares, “I will not revoke my word” – they shall not escape His punishing hand. They who “sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals,” who “trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth,” will themselves be “crush[ed]… into the ground as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.” The sheaves of their sins are indeed heavy, and will duly lie upon their backs. Those, too, who are thieves and adulterers, who give their mouths “free rein for evil” and “harness [their] tongue for deceit,” will not their fate be the same? And you, brothers and sisters, “when you do these things, shall [the Lord] be deaf to it?” He is not evil as yourselves, and so cannot stomach your iniquity.
And do you think with Jesus you will be able to continue in your sin? Because He bears your sins upon His shoulders, because He is crushed to the ground for your sakes, do you find thereby the right to go on sinning? Do you somehow believe the way of Christ is easier than that presented through Amos? Listen to His demand: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” This He says to a seemingly willing disciple who desires to remain with his family a while, not to a notorious dictator or a profligate heathen. And do you still wish to follow Him who “has nowhere to lay His head,” Him whom the world wishes dead – Him who will be whipped and beaten and crucified for the sins of mankind? This is your fate. This is your fate, O Christian. In it will you find your joy?
The Lord has come to rescue us, indeed to exalt us on high, “and to him that goes the right way [He] will show the salvation of God.” But your sins are not forgotten by Him who sees all things; they are no light matter in His sight. And following Him is not an easy road, for He is God.
O LORD, help us to leave the sin of the world behind
and follow you wholeheartedly, lest we die.
YHWH, how can we follow you when your way is so severe and we are such sinners? Who among us does not betray your Word; who among us is innocent of crimes? Only you are without stain, without attachment to this sinful plane – the rest of us have wickedness dwelling in our hearts
Yet you call us, LORD, to follow you; yet you desire us to be where you are, to live as you do. And so, what can we do but beg your forgiveness? What can we do but thank you for bringing our sins up before our eyes? What can we do but praise you for the grace you provide?
Let our mouth not speak evil, LORD; let us not walk in the way of sinners. Let us be obedient to your word of truth, to your blessed call to our souls… and make haste to follow along your way. We cannot trust in our own strength, lest we die – let us trust in your mercy and goodness alone, and follow along the way of your salvation. Then we shall be sinners no more, crushed by the weight of our guilt, but your light burden we shall bear, your Son’s redeeming Cross.
Sat, 25 June 2016
O great defender of the Mother of God
and of the faith itself,
courageously you declared
that Jesus is God indeed,
become Man in Mary His Mother;
this you made plain for all to see,
O shepherd of the people of God,
that truth might reign
and the Virgin might find
her proper place among us –
pray, O brave teacher,
that we shall not be afraid
to proclaim the truths
inscribed by the Spirit
upon the heart of the Church
and in her inspired writings;
and may indeed our Mother,
the Mother of Jesus,
the Mother of God,
be recognized for her preeminence
amongst the saints,
that the Word of the Lord might be fulfilled
and all generations call her blessed.
Sat, 25 June 2016
(1Kgs.19:16b,19-21; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Gal.5:1,13-18; Lk.9:51-62)
“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind
is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We must follow Jesus. And the path He walks leads to the cross.
Our gospel tells us, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus knows what awaits Him in Jerusalem. He knows how He will weep over the city for its lack of faith, and He knows their lack of faith will bring His crucifixion. Yet into the waiting arms of death He travels, undeterred. And how many there are who proclaim their desire to walk with Him; how many volunteer to follow in His way. But how little they know of the difficulty found on that road: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” – we must give up our homes. “Let the dead bury the dead” – we must leave behind our family. Yes, we must never look “to what was left behind,” namely, “the desire of the flesh” of which Paul speaks. We are now “guided by the Spirit”; the flesh no longer holds sway over us. That which is opposed to the Spirit we must give no thought to anymore.
Look at Elisha, the powerful prophet, in our first reading. He is called by the master, Elijah. Yes, he fails to follow immediately, but look at what he does in saying good-bye to his family. He takes what has been his livelihood to this day and sacrifices it utterly: he slaughters the oxen and even uses “the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,” giving the meat as food for his people. Nothing remains to call him back; he effects a total departure from his old self.
Brothers and sisters, we must take such complete refuge in the Lord. We must say with David, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” All must be given over to Him and entrusted to His care. It does us no good to hesitate on our journey with Him or take up things which will weigh us down along the way.
“Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” Paul exhorts us. Leave all the desires of this world behind to find the freedom known only in heaven. Then we will proclaim with David: “I set the Lord before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” We will know His mantle of strength and protection in our call to walk with Him; the yoke of slavery to sin will be broken from our shoulders. We are truly free, brothers and sisters, only insofar as we follow Him, submitting ourselves to the cross.
O Lord, take all that keeps us back from following in your way, that in such death to self we may draw nigh to your kingdom. Your cross is the path to life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Hold On, Here We Go" (second part) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may your Spirit guide us
on the road to the Cross.
YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom? How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will? Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it. Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross. For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way. Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need.
O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh. How concerned we are about the things of this earth! And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin? Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days.
O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love! May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin. Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.
Fri, 24 June 2016
(Lam.2:2,10-14,18-19; Ps.74:1-7,19-21; Mt.8:5-17)
“It was our infirmities He bore,
our sufferings He endured.”
And oh how deep are those sufferings; “great as the sea is [our] downfall.” And graphically are they seen in the destruction of Jerusalem; sharply they pierce the flesh of the Son.
Yes, the Lord “has torn down in His anger the fortresses of daughter Judah… On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; they strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth. The maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground.” And the children and infants “faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers’ arms.” And so the prophet Jeremiah is “worn out from weeping”; and so his “gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of [his] people.”
And is this weeping not Jesus’ own? Does He not shed tears over Jerusalem for the suffering it has known, and its suffering to come? Does He not indeed die for our sins? Listen to the description of the destruction of the holy city offered by our psalmist today: “With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.” Are these not the blows Jesus suffered; are they not the nails which pierced His hands and feet and side? “They set your sanctuary on fire; the place where your name abides they have razed and destroyed.” Is not Jesus the Temple of the living God, crucified by the hands of lust and greed and jealousy? Have we not done such violence to our Lord? And has He not endured all for our salvation?
Let the priest and all the children note the cause of such destruction of God’s chosen ones, the suffering of His only Son. Is it not the prophets who proclaimed “false and specious visions,” who “did not lay bare [the people’s] guilt, to avert [their] fate”? And note the Lord’s own words and attitude toward those who follow Him, to the children of Israel who press upon Him: “The natural heirs of the kingdom will be driven out into the dark. Wailing will be heard there and grinding of teeth.” Does Jesus fail to show those in His care the narrow gate? And so should we continue to coddle faithless hearts unto their destruction?
He indeed bears all our infirmities, all the sickness our sin has wrought. But we must indeed see ourselves as the centurion’s servant boy, “in bed paralyzed, suffering painfully,” to find His word of healing. We must come with the faith of the centurion to know His saving touch. For destruction indeed awaits the land, and so we must cry out to Him, “Turn your steps toward the utter ruins; toward all the damage the enemy has done in your sanctuary,” if we hope to be redeemed by His blood.
O LORD, only Jesus could heal our ills,
only He could bear our suffering, for our guilt is great –
only He could take it away.
YHWH, how dire is the condition of your city this day; your people waste away on its streets, and none is there to help them. Should we not call upon you; and would you not be faithful in carrying away our afflictions, in saving us from the destruction that surrounds us because of our sin? We lie paralyzed before you; lift us up from our bed of pain.
Does not death surround us this day, O LORD? Is there not little hope among your people – are not the walls of our city torn down? Yet your Son would bear all our suffering; our infirmities He would take away. Let us come to Him for healing. Let us cry out to you for grace, for you are faithful to all sincere prayers… Look upon us in our desolate state.
O LORD, the sanctuary has been torn down – your Son has been crucified in our midst. But we know this death He endures with us will bring us new life if we but pour out our hearts like water in your presence. O let us come to your banquet in the kingdom!
Thu, 23 June 2016
O greatest of men born of woman,
before you were formed in the womb
the Lord called you;
while still in this cave
you leapt for joy
at His presence come to you…
a sharp, two-edged sword He made you
to hail the coming Messiah,
the Light in our midst,
the New Covenant born of the Old –
how shall we humble ourselves
as you have done;
how shall our call be realized
in flesh and blood
as was your own?
Pray, dear brother,
that from darkness we be taken,
from blindness and inability to speak
we be rescued,
that the Word among us
we may know
and raise our voices
to proclaim His salvation to all.
Thu, 23 June 2016
(Is.49:1-6; Ps.139:1-3,13-15; Acts 13:22-26: Lk.1:57-66,80)
“I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, he who hails the coming of the Lord, is born today. This voice speaks of the Word among us. And from before his birth he is called, in the womb he is formed, to proclaim with the sword of truth God’s salvation for His people. “Surely the hand of the Lord was with him,” and surely we find the grace of God by walking the path he blazed for us in the desert; for surely that way leads to the glory who is the Son of David.
Yes, “to us this word of salvation has been sent.” To us this light has been brought forth. We “distant peoples” hear now the call of the voice which pierces our souls: Make straight the way of the Lord! The tongue now speaks; no longer silenced, no longer hidden, it has risen from “the depths of the earth” to plainly declare the coming of Christ. Yes, in the womb of the Old Testament the Lord wonderfully formed the salvation of Israel, probing and scrutinizing all its ways and preparing it for birth in the light of day. And now what He hid in His quiver He shoots forth to wound with amazement the hearts who have waited to hear the Word of life. “John heralded His coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel”; by his voice a place is made for the Savior, Jesus.
At the turning point of the history of salvation John stands. He has come to direct souls to the Promised Land. For this he was made. To this call he answers – to lead us to the Son of Man. The old is passed away; now all is made new. Fulfillment has come. The womb has brought forth. The time of salvation is here. For He through whom time and the earth and heavens were made is now come to wash even the dirt from our feet. Listen to the voice which hails the Word of God in our midst. His call is for all ears; the light shines for all “who are God-fearing.”
Your recompense is upon you now. You, too, make known His light to the world.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, your Word of salvation you speak
through the mouth of John,
whom you have blessed with your might and power.
YHWH, your Word of salvation goes forth to the ends of the earth, proclaimed through the mouth of John, the fulfillment of the prophets of Israel. In his birth what is old passes away, and what is new comes. Now the light of the nations enters this house.
Loose our tongues to declare your glory, dear LORD. You who have formed us in the depths of the earth, in the womb of the Church, now gather us into your arms that we might be raised unto the glory of your Son, brought into union with you who are our Father and our God. O may we share your Name as we are born into your kingdom!
Let your hand be upon us for good, O LORD; let your will be accomplished in us as it has been in John. Let all souls know that it is you who probe us and know us, you who understand all our thoughts and ways. May all our thoughts and actions be in accord with your own, and so in all things let us declare to all that your Son has come – O let us be His servants!
Wed, 22 June 2016
(2Kgs.24:8-17; Ps.79:1-5,8,9; Mt.7:21-29)
“The rains fell, the torrents came,
the winds blew and lashed against his house.
It collapsed under all this and was completely ruined.”
Yes, “the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege,” and “Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who… took him captive… None were left among the people of the land except the poor”; and these, too, shall soon be struck.
Yes, the nations “have defiled [the Lord’s] holy temple, they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” And why has such destruction come? Our first reading tells us simply of Jehoiachin, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his forebears had done”; and now finally the day of reckoning has come. And now the nations “have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them.” Now does the Lord’s “jealousy burn like fire.”
And what shall be left when that fire is passed? Who shall stand on that day of reckoning that shall come to all souls, to peoples of all nations? Will you stand before the Lord and recount the great deeds you have done before Him who holds all the world in His holy hand? Will you attempt to justify yourself before Him who justifies all? Will your heart truly be set upon such vain pursuit? Truly then the Lord will “declare to [you] solemnly, ‘Out of my sight, you evildoers’”; for all you have done will be as a grain of sand in His sight, and that grain will be blown from His hand for your lack of humility, for your pride before whom none can stand.
How shall it be then that your house be “solidly set on rock”? How will you avoid the fate of His chosen city Jerusalem? If it has been destroyed, do you not think that you, too, are liable to be struck from His sight? Or do you find yourself perfect? You must cry out as our psalmist, “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” You must heed the words of Christ and consider yourselves unworthy servants (Lk.17:10), unfit as you are to stand before His eyes, to dwell in His light. Then He may have pity on your wretched soul. Then He might make you strong. Your tongue silent before His majesty, there will be hope that you shall remain.
Remember, brothers and sisters, this is He who “taught with authority” before whom you stand. Do not lose the awe of His presence. And perhaps the great collapse of your house will not be necessary; perhaps you shall find His great love which washes away all sin. Let the rains He sends but be cleansing. Endure them gracefully.
O LORD, the gold of the temple does not endure,
but only a humble soul set on your will.
YHWH, let us do your will, that we might stand humbly before you on the Day of judgment.
You cannot help but judge, dear LORD; you cannot help but condemn the pride and wickedness of an evil heart and a vain life. You would give us food to stand strong, your command that gives life indeed… but we would follow our own ways, and so, how can we end but removed from your sight?
You make us as temples, LORD, temples of your Holy Spirit feeding on the Body and Blood of your Son… but how faithful are we to the call to be as your Son, to listen to His words and the guidance of the Spirit – are we truly obedient to your will for our lives?
If we are not humble, LORD, then we know you not. If we expect return for works done in your NAME, then we understand not the great blessing of being your sons, and how unworthy we are to carry out your will.
O LORD, come back to us and help us because of the glory of your NAME. Let us make our home in you and in your Temple, and so find strength in you on the Day you return.
Tue, 21 June 2016
O kings of martyrdom
who indeed laid down your very lives
rather than heed the dictates
of an evil emperor,
whose loyalty to the Lord
and the Church He established
your defense of the faith
written in the blood you shed –
pray that the mediocrity,
the utter inability to stand for truth
in this relativist age,
will be defeated
by souls founded firmly
in the Spirit of Christ
and in the Cross
He offers forth
for our salvation.
Pray for leaders of Church and State
to embrace your singular devotion.
Tue, 21 June 2016
O lover of poverty
who gave up great wealth
to find her abiding
within the walls of your heart,
a heart which turned thus
to God’s people
and the shepherding of them
with great care –
pray that we too may hear
and come to realize in our lives
the call of our Lord
to give up all things
for the sake of the kingdom,
to be attached to nothing
but service of the poor,
service of God Himself
in the humble of this earth;
pray that like you
we may have the heart of a shepherd,
of a laborer in Jesus’ vineyard,
united in the Spirit
with all God’s children
with whom we share His Heaven.
Tue, 21 June 2016
(2Kgs.22:8-13,23:1-3; Ps.119:33-37,40; Mt.7:15-20)
“Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I take delight.”
The people of Judah and Jerusalem have been unfaithful to God and to the covenant made with Him, and so the time of their exile draws near: soon this remaining tribe of Israel shall join the others in being cast from their promised land. But today we hear of a faithful king, Josiah, who makes a kind of final effort, a final sign of faithfulness among the people, as he seeks to restore what has been so sorely lost by the nation.
King Josiah recognizes that Judah has sinned against God and so lost His blessing; and this truth is brought home to him in the clear light of “the book of the law,” which has been uncovered in the temple of the Lord, dusted off of its many years of neglect, and read in his hearing. Hearing the commands of the Lord, the Word which gives life to its hearer, the king tears his garments in penitence for what has been lacking to the kingdom, and declares: “The anger of the Lord has been set furiously ablaze against us because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations.” To his great credit he seeks now to fulfill these stipulations, making “a covenant before the Lord that they would follow Him and observe His ordinances, statutes, and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus reviving the terms of the covenant which were written in the book.” The covenant made through Moses he looks to restore.
“And all the people stood as participants in the covenant”; a measure of the blessing does return to God’s chosen as they “turn away [their] eyes from what is vain” and find life in the ways of the Lord. Here is a final harvest of good fruit before the tree turns rotten and so must be uprooted from the Lord’s sight.
Brothers and sisters, it is adherence to the Word of God which gives all life; it is faithfulness to His call that is our bread of life. If we do not remain in Him and walk in “the way of His statutes,” we are no better than the “false prophets” who are but “wolves on the prowl” and shall be burned in the fires of Gehenna. If we are faithless how shall our tree grow? And if no growth, then no God have we, and we shall but rot.
In His light let us remain, seeking the nourishment of His Word and the Bread we break and offer at His altar. And we shall need fear no exile from the Promised Land, from the Temple that is our risen Christ… We shall be led ever in the way of Truth and grow each day unto Life.
O LORD, renew your Covenant within us,
that we might bear good fruit in your presence.
YHWH, if we but followed your Word and your way, heeding the commands you give us for the nourishment of our souls, then would we bear fruit unto eternal life; then would all be well with our lives. But in disobedience we turn from you to follow our own desires, and so cast from your sight we can only be.
Forgive us, LORD, the sins upon our hands and upon our hearts; let your wrath not blaze against us – save us from the fire! Help us to renew this day our commitment to you and to your Word of truth, that your love might return to us and feed us well. O let us return to you!
So blind we have been, so deaf to your Word, O holy LORD. And so, holiness has escaped us. Let us no longer be led astray by false notions conceived in the corruption of sin but repent entirely of our hypocrisy. Let us but serve you and not our selfishness, and you will bless us once again and we will remain standing strong in your Temple, as your chosen people in light. May your Word take root within our hearts and grow unto eternal life.
Mon, 20 June 2016
O patron of youth
whose innocence was unsurpassed,
whose desire to give yourself
to the Lord
in poverty and purity
led you to relinquish
your wealth in this world
at a tender age
that you might embrace Jesus
pray for the youth of our day
and the child in each of our souls,
that all might turn away
from the temptations which surround
and threaten to enter and enslave;
let all turn toward
the love of the Lord
and His heavenly call,
a call to a kingdom
that surpasses everything of this earth
and brings the joy
known only in breathing and speaking
His holy Name.
Mon, 20 June 2016
(2Kgs.19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Ps.48:2-4,9-11; Mt.7:6,12-14)
“I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.”
Brothers and sisters, “renowned is He as a stronghold,” the Lord our God. And faithfully does He watch over His chosen one.
Our psalmist proclaims, “Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God.” He extols the glory of Mount Zion, of Jerusalem, “the city of the great King,” for the blessings of God upon it. Here is His temple and so here it is we “ponder [His] kindness”; here it is we take refuge, finding “the narrow gate” that leads to Him and to His salvation.
In our first reading today the Lord gives evidence of the way in which He protects His children; He reveals that He will not “give what is holy to dogs or toss [His] pearls before swine.” The king of Assyria has indeed “laid waste the nations and their lands,” including the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He has acted with seemingly invincible power, and now he has come to the Lord’s chosen city to destroy it as well. And though this Jerusalem, where His temple does dwell, and the chosen tribes of Judah (through whom His Savior shall come) shall not be protected forever… though this earthly tent shall so soon be ransacked and taken into exile itself, today the Lord shows how His promise, His covenant with them, will never be taken away. Though the temple’s walls be one day destroyed, His spiritual kingdom, His New Jerusalem is eternally blessed in heaven.
Hezekiah indeed “enter[s] through the narrow gate” of prayer. Taking the threatening letter from Sennacherib in his hand, “he [goes] up to the temple of the Lord, and spreading it out before Him, he pray[s] in the Lord’s presence.” He calls out, “O Lord, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” And the Lord listens. He takes pity on His “virgin daughter Zion… for out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors.” And by the hand of the Lord the king of Assyria is turned back.
Brothers and sisters, “Jerusalem will not be handed over” to the king of this world. Upon His Church His blessed protection remains. Through Judah and David, the king whose city is Jerusalem, Jesus has come – the Lord’s promise is fulfilled and the remnant now does thrive. Here is the Temple not made by human hands; here is the narrow gate through whom all must enter paradise… here is “the joy of all the earth,” God’s “holy mountain” in our midst; and on His heights and in these walls, we are shielded and saved forever.
O LORD, if we enter through the narrow gate,
we shall come into your presence,
and you shall always fight for us.
YHWH, how shall we find our way to your holy City, on which your protection rests, which shall always be saved from the violence of this world? No kingdom can conquer your Church; in her let us make our home.
On your holy mountain, the fairest of heights, let us find our place, O LORD. To your Temple let us come, stretching out our arms in prayer. And you shall listen to our pleas, and your help will be with us quickly – you will be our stronghold. And so, we will praise you forever, for you teach us the way that leads to your House; in your heavenly kingdom we shall ever remain.
O LORD, let us be holy as you are holy, as all your children are holy. Let us be as those who walk the narrow path to you, who find joy in the difficulties present there. Dwelling in faith we shall not fear the threats of the mighty, for you who are above all are our shield and guide.
Sun, 19 June 2016
(2Kgs.17:5-8,13-15,18; Ps.60:3-5,7,12-13; Mt.7:1-5)
“In His great anger against Israel,
the Lord put them away out of His sight.”
Jesus instructs His disciples today, “If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment.” In other words, “Judge not and you shall not be judged.” Here is the prerequisite not only for avoiding judgment and condemnation at the hand of God, but also for assisting and healing others, as is our call. If we wish to serve as Christians and remove the speck of sin from others’ eyes that they might see in the clear light of the Lord Jesus Christ, first it is certainly necessary that we ourselves see so clearly, that we come to the Lord and have our great sin removed from our souls. Otherwise our desire to help others in their frailty will indeed but turn to judgment of them; first we must recognize the great sinners we ourselves are – and so, that we cannot judge another – before we can find the grace from God to bring Jesus’ mercy to others. God alone judges, brothers and sisters, for God alone is good, God alone is pure… the Lord Jesus alone is free from every speck of sin.
And God will judge. Believe this. He will send His apostles and prophets forth to bring remission of sins – He has sent His Son to die on the cross that we might be cleansed in His blood – but failing the acceptance and embracing of the call of the Lord, indeed what hope have we of salvation? There is but His righteous judgment remaining for our souls; there is but His chastising Hand to be placed upon us.
That God does judge, that He does cast sinful man from His sight, is made evident in exemplary fashion in the fate of our ancestors, the Israelites. “Because the Israelites sinned against the Lord, their God,” He cast them into exile at the hand of their enemies. “The Lord warned Israel… by every prophet and seer, ‘Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes’”; He sought to turn them from their sins by those whom He had touched, but “they did not listen… They rejected His statutes, the covenant which He had made with their fathers, and the warnings, which He had given them.” And so, His pure eye unable to look upon them anymore, He removed them from before Himself.
“O God, you have rejected us and broken down our defenses,” David cries, and begs the Lord’s return to the Israelites’ ranks… And how often this must be our prayer because of our foolishness in the sight of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we have a greater covenant now with the Lord than did the ancient Israelites, for we have a greater than David or Moses or Abraham with us now. And more demanding is He of our purity, of our virtue before Him. For what threatens us now is not mere exile, but the fires of hell; what awaits those who turn from Him now is eternal damnation, and so let us remain faithful to our God. Indeed let us remove the log from our eye that we “will see clearly to take the speck from [our] brother’s eye” and so effect the building up of the kingdom of God. The time is now upon us; let us do all we can to remain in His sight.
O LORD, remove us not from your sight
but remove the plank from our eye.
YHWH, judgment is yours alone and it is eminently fair. Where we would condemn out of hand, you are merciful, and cast us from your sight only when we persist in our sin. Help us to see as you see, and to be as you are, that we might remain before you and help others to return to your presence.
We are outcasts, LORD, for our sins against you, for our failure to heed your blessed commands. You would save us from such fate as would separate us from you, and so you tell us of the path to tread. But we do not listen. And so we invite your wrath upon our souls; and so, how can we help others?
Save us this day, O LORD, from ourselves and from all our enemies. Let us listen to your voice and so enter into your love and the light of your presence. In your land let us dwell, in the land of Heaven, and there let us stay… and to this place let us draw others who seek you in the forgiveness of their transgressions and the following of your way. We have sinned against you, but gather us back into your arms, we pray.
Sat, 18 June 2016
O sign of perfect solitude
who heeded so well
the Lord’s command
to enter into your closet
in order to pray,
whose great measure of self-denial
led you to the peak of contemplation
in God’s holy presence,
whose only desire
was that souls might draw close
to Him –
pray all who seek the Lord
may approach Him with a whole heart,
a heart set on Him alone,
that in such perfect devotion
all might find Him present
in their souls, in their spirits,
and be elevated in their lowliness
to His indescribable divine love,
to His peace which passes
all our understanding
but draws us ever closer
to His wounded side.
Sat, 18 June 2016
(Zec.12:10-11,13:1; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Gal.3:26-29; Lk.9:18-24)
“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.”
Jesus is the Christ of God. It is He who suffers, He who has been pierced for our sins, and He whose blood cleanses us as we look upon Him, as we cry out in tears for the pain we have caused Him and resolve to follow Him now in His way of the cross. What is the “fountain to purify from sin” but the blood poured forth in His sacrifice, and what is it we thirst for but to drink in full the grace contained therein? And it is our great grace to suffer with Him, to take up our cross daily and share in His sacrifice, denying ourselves to find Him and His life. This is what makes us one, with Him and so with one another: this is the baptism that redeems us and makes us whole.
Do we live out our baptismal vows? Do we follow Him in the way of the cross? Are we truly longing for the Lord, pining for Him, gazing upon Him – what is the banquet we seek to satisfy our souls? Are we one in His Spirit, loving Him above all others? Or do we set our souls on the empty pleasures of this life? These we must lose to find Him. Here in solitude the Lord tells the disciples quietly and sincerely, knowing the vanity and thirst for power the devil would plant in their souls – “The Son of Man must suffer greatly.” How He desires them to hear His teaching. How He longs to keep them from the evil one and see that their hearts are not fixed on this life. He knows only this will save them. He knows only repentance brings the life of God, and so He approaches them in the silence of God that His words might sink deeply into them.
And they will listen. And they, too, will all die. They will understand the sacrifice that leads to life. And what of us? The Lord speaks to us, too, today. His words are here written down and proclaimed for our ears to treasure. Do we turn to this fountain of forgiveness, mourning for our sins “as one mourns for an only son”? And does our mourning lead us to lay down our lives?
Nothing of this world will suffice. His Body and Blood alone are our food and drink here in this life. They make us one and make us strong, and by them He will uphold us, if our hearts are set on losing this life to find Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Blood in My Palate" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in the Cross let us find
your cleansing fountain.
YHWH, we look toward your sanctuary and what do we see but your Son pierced for our sins? And so we mourn, and so we cry… and it is in these tears we are washed clean – baptism in His blood purifies us of sin. And so, in the shadow of His wings we rejoice.
For now, O LORD, our souls may cling to you; by the sacrifice of your Son we are made one with Him and with one another. And His call to take up our own cross, to share in His sacrifice, we receive with great joy; for He has shown us that it is this path that leads to salvation, that leads to eternal glory in your presence.
O let us enter your sanctuary this day, LORD our God! Let us join ourselves to the offering Jesus makes for our sakes, eating His Body and drinking His Blood and doing your will as He has done. At the banquet of Heaven let our souls be satisfied!
Fri, 17 June 2016
(2Chr.24:17-25; Ps.89:4-5,29-34; Mt.6:24-34)
“Because you have abandoned the Lord,
He has abandoned you.”
How quickly Joash the king of Judah, who so recently had restored true worship in the temple at Jerusalem, “transgress[es] the Lord’s commands.” After Jehoiada the priest died, the people “forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols.” And so, “wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.” So great is their apostasy that not only would they “not listen to [the prophets’] warnings” when they were sent “to convert them to the Lord,” but when Zechariah the son of Jehoiada stood up in their midst to call them back to the Lord, “they stoned him to death in the Lord’s temple.” And so the central place of worship becomes a place of murder.
How truly Jesus speaks in today’s gospel: “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other.” How clearly we see the hatred of God at work in Judah as she embraces false and empty gods. And so Judah becomes like her profligate sister in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. She who is set aside to preserve the temple and the holy city of Jerusalem, who is given yet a share in the inheritance promised David, turns boldly from her call and blessing to despise that which is most her own. And now does her hatred grow. And though she may escape the chastising hand of God a longer time than her sister, God’s promise: “If [David’s] sons forsake my law and walk not according to my ordinances, if they violate my statutes and keep not my commands, I will punish their crime with a rod and their guilt with stripes,” will not be set aside forever, and they shall follow their sister into exile.
Brothers and sisters, we must choose the master we shall serve: if the world and its spirit, then you court God’s condemnation; if the Lord, then remain faithful with your whole heart and follow His Son unto heaven. It is to heaven He desires your soul to come, but you must trust in Him and remain faithful to His call. For if you leave Him, He cannot but leave you; but if you hold fast to His love, He can do nothing but bless you.
Today Jesus, the Son of the Father in heaven, stands up to warn you against the traps of this world and call you into full, living worship of the One God. Will you enter into His love?
O LORD, in your House alone let us make our home,
and so find your kingship over us,
and so find your blessing forever.
YHWH, how kind your words to us are; how reassuring you would be. But do we listen to you; indeed, can we hear you at all? O heavenly Father, you know all that we need, and so would provide for us all things if we but followed in your way – but who among us has any faith?
O LORD, do we not rather fret over the passing things of this earth? Do our hearts not turn quickly to false gods, abandoning you and true worship to feed our bellies, to save the flesh? And what can we be but destroyed like the grass of the field if we have no more sense, no more faith, no more love for you than a lifeless statue? Woe to us as we turn from you, for you are our very life, and without your Spirit quickly we die… quickly we die.
Let us seek holiness, LORD, let this be our goal, our call, our only desire. Let us hope for you alone and for your heavenly kingdom, and we shall be blessed, and we shall remain in your House forever.
Thu, 16 June 2016
(2Kgs.11:1-4,9-18,20; Ps.132:11-14,17-18; Mt.6:19-23)
“The eye is the lamp of the body.
If your eye is good, your body will be filled with light;
if your eye is bad, your body will be in darkness.”
And “how deep the darkness” is upon Athaliah. For her eye is evil, her “light is darkness,” as so desperately she seeks to “lay up for [herself] an earthly treasure” by unjust and murderous means. Seeing that her son, the king of Judah, has died, she attempts to hold on to his crown by killing all the rightful heirs to his throne, caring more for the things which “moth and rust corrode” than for the righteousness of God. And she succeeds, though only briefly, as, true to the words of our gospel today, “thieves break in and steal” the kingship she has herself stolen away. And how great is her woe upon seeing all she has so anxiously and vainly sought removed from under her sight. How deep indeed is her darkness, deeper than the death she is about to endure.
In our psalm today we are reminded of the promise the Lord has made with David, king of all Israel: “If your sons keep my covenant and the decrees which I teach them, their sons, too, forever shall sit upon your throne.” For in Zion the Lord vows to “place a lamp for [His] anointed,” and declares that upon His chosen one His “crown shall shine.” This crown, this lamp, is for all the Lord’s children to receive, to shine forth in His holy presence. All who keep to His ways shall know such blessing. But, clearly, those who turn away lose the light the Lord deems to give to us as followers of His One Light, Jesus Christ. And however boldly or by whatever anxious means we attempt to hold on to it, it shall be removed from us like the passing day. Only remaining in Him are we saved.
In our first reading the people, led by Jehoiada the priest of God, renew the covenant “by which they would be the Lord’s people.” Terribly they have fallen from it and its grace and seek to regain what has now, and so often, been lost. Continually, in fact, the Israelites fell away from the Lord’s command and so were abandoned to their sins – thus necessitating the coming of Christ – but continually the Lord returns them to the light when they return to Him, until finally Jesus does come.
Let us not be as the Israelites have been, brothers and sisters, so easily led into darkness and error, so easily seeking to look upon the evil of this earth. The Lord has come now to lead us away from just such things and give us a light that never fades. It is for us to remain with Him. Let your eye be sound, and so let His wisdom shine through you, O blessed one.
O LORD, let us shine like your Son
in your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, upon what are our hearts set? Are they set on you and the doing of your will? Do we seek indeed your kingdom? Or do we look to gain whatever we can of earthly treasure, and so set ourselves in opposition to your law of love? You alone are King; your Son alone is the rightful heir to all. Let us place Him upon the throne of our hearts and rejoice at your presence there.
How evil man can be, O LORD, how blind and desperate in his selfishness. Into such grave darkness can we fall when we set our hearts on the things of this world. But how vain power and riches are; how quickly they come to an end, for these are not ours but yours alone, and they return to you at the end of the day. And so, if we would hold to them, we would find ourselves fighting you… and that is a battle we cannot win.
O LORD, have mercy on your people! Take not your light from our midst – make us your very dwelling place. Let your light shine forth from all your children as they set their hearts on Heaven.
Wed, 15 June 2016
(Sir.48:1-14; Ps.97:1-7,12; Mt.6:7-15)
“Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our psalm sings of the greatness of our God; in our first reading we hear of how this greatness was revealed in the prophets Elijah and Elisha; and in the Lord’s Prayer we call for this greatness to be present in our midst.
“Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes round about,” our psalmist declares in praise of God. “His lightnings illumine the world.” How great indeed is He: “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Nothing stands before His glance, for “justice and judgment are the foundation of His throne,” and this world is held in His all-powerful Hand.
And how well this greatness is brought to bear by His holy prophets. We are told, “Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” The consuming power of the Lord is indeed revealed in him, for “by God’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire.” He “brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the Lord… sent kings down to destruction,” and finally was “taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses.” How the Lord blesses His holy ones! How He reveals His greatness in them! And of Elisha it is said, “Nothing was beyond his power… In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.”
There is no end to the power the Lord provides to His children, for there is no end to His power, and this power He would share with all. Thus does the Lord encourage us to call upon the majesty of God our Father to be with us, to feed us each day, that His Name might indeed be praised, that His holiness might be revealed in His chosen ones. And to avoid His wrath, and to share in His power, what must we do? What is the central call of this all-powerful, all-holy Lord? Forgiveness. His grace is power, and grace and mercy we must share with all to share that power which has no end.
Trust in Him who holds you in His Hand, brothers and sisters. And His mighty Hand you shall see at work in the course of your day, and the fire of His grace shall pour upon your soul.
O LORD, let your power be upon us,
the power of your merciful love.
YHWH, you are all-good and all-powerful, and those who share your goodness share in your power. Let your kingdom come upon us; there let us dwell with you. We pray to be forgiven all our sins that your Spirit might be with us.
But we know, O LORD, for your Son has taught us, that if we are to come into your presence and share in your power and wonder, first we must forgive our neighbor – even our enemy we must love. Those who sin against us indeed become as our enemies, but your mercy we must share with them if we are to know your grace at work in our souls. Separated from you, all die, but in your light all are brought to life: let all souls come into your kingdom.
Let thy holy will be done, O LORD, in all your prophets, in all your disciples. Your power, your love, make known in all who bear your NAME. What should we fear if you are with us? Let your Word be spoken through us and His blood course through our veins. Let all peoples see your glory.
Tue, 14 June 2016
(2Kgs.2:1,6-14; Ps.31:20-21,24-25; Mt.6:1-6,16-18)
“As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”
Jesus instructs us in our gospel, “Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private.” This prescription the holy prophet Elijah fulfills in our first reading when he miraculously crosses the Jordan River and enters the wilderness, out of the sight of the prophets who remain standing on its other side. Elisha, too, he would have remain apart, but this holy man determines to stay with his father in faith. And so as their prayer becomes secret, as their conversation of God becomes hidden and private, even then Elijah is taken in flames of holy fire from the sight of men; even then he ascends to heaven. And though so otherworldly, the eyes of Elisha witness the hand of God lifting the prophet from our midst.
Brothers and sisters, can you see that this is as what happens with us when we pray to God in our private rooms? David in his psalm declares, “How great is the goodness, O Lord, which you have in store for those who fear you, and which, toward those who take refuge in you, you show in the sight of men.” When we “hide… in the shelter of [His] presence… screen[ed]… within [His] abode,” He reveals Himself to us in His glorious might, He lifts us up to heaven where He dwells. As He blesses those who keep their alms secret and repays those whose fasting is hidden, so He anoints the prayers of His children who find Him in the recesses of their hearts. From this wilderness, from this desert place, He lifts us to see the encompassing shining of holy light.
The quiet place is within your soul; the kingdom of heaven is within you. Converse with the Lord quite readily, quite faithfully, in this hidden place, and all shall be revealed to your eyes. Stay with Him; do not leave His side, and all your requests shall be filled in His blessed generosity. And His cloak He shall place upon you, His cross He shall lay across your shoulders, and the great blessings of heaven will be your own.
“Love the Lord, all you His faithful ones!
The Lord keeps those who are constant.”
And all humble souls He raises
to the throne of God.
O LORD, let us hide ourselves in you,
that you might carry us to Heaven.
YHWH, let us enter into your presence hidden within us; into this wilderness let us come that we might meet with you and you might bless us, and take us to Heaven. Hear our prayer this day.
LORD, you alone are our refuge, you alone are our glory and our peace – you are our only desire. Let us not seek the approval of this world or the praise it may give, but look always only to serve you, to love you, with all our might… and let all our might be only of you. Let it be you who work miracles in our life.
Take all we have, LORD; we ask nothing in return but to be with you. Quietly let us come to you who dwell in the purest silence, apart from all the vain distractions of this world.
You are quite above this dreadful place, though you come to dwell with us even here. In you let us transcend all the emptiness that surrounds us, even as we walk with you. O LORD, let us never leave your side that we might come to be where you are.
Mon, 13 June 2016
(1Kgs.21:17-29; Ps.51:3-6,11,16; Mt.5:43-48)
“Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.”
We have hope, brothers and sisters; we have hope that the very depths of our sin and depravity against the Lord shall be forgiven, and we shall be made new, washed in His blood. For the Lord “sends His rain on the just and the unjust,” and this He proves today in our readings.
The Lord forgives David his “blood-guilt,” he who has committed the dual sins of adultery and murder; and Ahab, too, of whom it is said, “No one gave himself to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab,” finds a measure of His mercy. Indeed, if there is reconciliation of these sinners with the Lord God, then even we must have hope of the Lord’s grace at work within us.
The Lord is He who loves even His enemies, whose “sun rises on the bad and the good” alike, whose arm is not shortened, whose love knows no bounds – for has He not gone so far as to die on the cross as a common criminal, as the worst of sinners, to redeem all from their sins? But to receive such grace and mercy how must we come to Him?
It is clear both in our first reading and in David’s great psalm that forgiveness is not obtained in a casual manner. To find it, we must imitate our sinners in their repentance as we have mirrored them in our sin. For Ahab when he heard the condemnation of the Lord upon his house “tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh”; he did not hesitate to “acknowledge [his] offense” before the Lord and all the people. And recognizing that his “sin is before [him] always,” David comes begging the Lord, “Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt,” seeking the compassion he knows only God holds. And this trust in His mercy the Lord sees; this declaration of sin the Lord hears. It is because Ahab “humbled himself before [Him]” and because David proclaimed openly his guilt that God has mercy on their lives. And we must join them just so in our own repentance to find that same mercy and kindness.
More than this, brothers and sisters. To more than this are we called now, my friends. For like the Lord Himself we are commanded to be – to show such mercy as He. The blood of Christ now outpoured, and it having poured upon our souls, we must now see that it is shared with all. We do that by shedding our own blood, by sharing that same love with everyone, indeed even with our enemies, as with us the Lord has done. And so our freedom from sin is made complete in His heavenly presence.
O LORD, is it not only fair
that we should love our enemies
since you have loved us
who have done such evil in your sight,
even having your Son die for our sins?
YHWH, free us all from bloodguilt, for we are all guilty of shedding your Son’s blood; we are all sinners in your sight. Yet you love us, and offer forth your forgiveness as we repent before you – though we have been your enemies, you make us your friends. Help us to receive such grace from you, and to share it with others.
Your mercy pour upon us, LORD; each day let us come to you and find your cleansing rain. For continually our hearts turn from you… sinners we remain, and your healing grace ever we need to come into your presence and find your all-encompassing love. Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy!
And let us answer your call to show your love and mercy in our lives. The light you impart to us let us shine upon all souls. O what a great grace you offer us, LORD! to be as you are, to love as you do – to be perfect even as you. Let us find such grace at work in us; let it be all we desire.
Sun, 12 June 2016
O gentle preacher of the Word,
the fire of the Holy Spirit
upon your soul
for the conversion of heretics
and the leading of all
to God –
hold us in your arms
even as the infant Jesus
who appeared to you
along the way,
and pray that the Word
may be instilled in our hearts
even as it was in your own,
that we shall never go astray
but always have the consolation
of the Spirit of God
and His love and innocence
to lead us through this life
till we find ourselves
at home in the Father’s arms,
where you dwell in peace
with all His blessed saints.
Pray for us, our teacher and brother, this day.
Sun, 12 June 2016
(1Kgs.21:1-16; Ps.5:2-3,5-7; Mt.5:38-42)
“I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”
How divergent are the paths of Jezebel and Jesus. This Queen of Israel, wife of Ahab, holds the philosophy that if someone won’t give you what you ask for, take it by force; whereas the Lord says if someone wishes to take something from you, give it and more.
Here are the way of the world and the way of heaven in stark contrast. When as a petulant child Ahab refuses to eat after not getting what he wants, his wife plots the death of Naboth to obtain the king’s desired land. She truly is among “the bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors.” Jesus and those who follow Him are they whom the Lord loves. Far from stoning the righteous man to death, they themselves are the righteous who shed blood freely at the hands of their enemies. Both the wicked Jezebel and the just Jesus go beyond the old law: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.” She takes an eye and a tooth when none has been taken from her, going thus below the law; but Jesus says, “Offer no resistance to injury,” going thus above the law. Where He fulfills the law in love, she makes a mockery of God.
We hear these mutually exclusive paths spoken of even literally today. Jesus instructs His disciples: “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles,” encouraging His followers on the same way of suffering He models for all – a way revealed most clearly in His carrying of the cross to the hill of Golgotha; and our first reading tells us that “on hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it,” walking quite a different path of blood.
Brothers and sisters, it should be obvious that God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil man remains with [Him].” He indeed “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood” – the justice of God they shall not escape. But let it be equally obvious that we must follow the Lord’s words in turning the other cheek. His are not mere platitudes but necessary instructions for finding the way to God He Himself walks. If we do not walk where He has walked, how can we come to the place He now is? Do not think you will come to heaven along an easy path, much less a wicked one. You will obtain the vineyard of heaven only by drinking the blood of Christ where you are, only by laying down your very life here in this world.
O LORD, let us leave behind
all the wickedness of this world
and join in your Son’s holy sacrifice of love.
YHWH, let us leave the way of the wicked far behind and walk only in the path you mark out for us. In your Son’s blood let us make our home, that there shall be no blood upon our hands.
Let us lay down our lives with your Son, turning the other cheek to those who would harm us, to those who would slap us in the face. Yours is the way of forgiveness and love, of sacrifice in the name of goodness, in your NAME, O God.
Keep us from the path of the world, LORD, for it is one of evil, of use and abuse of neighbor, of the shedding of his blood, the blood of the righteous Man. O let us not have Jesus’ blood on our hands!
LORD, we are all sinners, but if we turn to you, you save us from such sin as would condemn our souls. But if we harden our hearts against your love, if we seek only our own gain, and at others’ expense, choosing to remain blind to your Son’s Cross of sacrifice, which is our only hope of salvation… we can only be destroyed. Help us to give all to others, to answer your call to love.
Sat, 11 June 2016
(2Sm.12:7-10,13; Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11; Gal.2:16,19-21; Lk.7:36-8:3)
“I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord,’
and you took away the guilt of my sin.”
“Who is this who even forgives sins?” It is Christ the Lord, the promised One, the Messiah – the Savior of the human race. But the Pharisee and the others at table “nullify the grace of God.” Simon does not welcome Jesus as a prophet, a brother, or even a respected traveler; instead, he sits back in judgment of the Son of Man: “If this man were a prophet…” he speculates to himself, all the while blind to the tears of the woman, ever remaining cold to her repentance. And even when Jesus speaks to him by name and confronts him with his own guilt, even after he reveals to him the coldness of his welcome to Him whom he should be glorifying, he is not repentant. He cannot be forgiven even a little, for he has no love in his heart.
How different David’s reaction (in our first reading) to the exposure of his great sin to the light. He does not hide from the truth. He does not pretend all is well. He falls to his knees in tears and confesses his guilt at the feet of the prophet of God. And so he finds forgiveness. David recognizes the chastising hand of the Lord and the great grace that is found by it. The woman, too, sees the truth of her sins in the face of Christ and longs to find the grace of forgiveness. The Pharisee hardens his heart.
“A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ,” Paul proclaims in our second reading. It is not that the law is bad or that it should be abandoned, as Christ Himself confirms; it is simply that the law alone will not bring us to justification, it does not serve to make us one with God – the death of Christ and faith in Him is necessary for this. If the Pharisee had truly kept the law well, he would have recognized and celebrated Jesus’ coming, for, indeed, He and His love are the very heart of the law – to which Christ has also witnessed. The greatest commandment is recognized by the whole nation of Israel as love of God and neighbor. But the Pharisee fails even to exhibit basic hospitality, an essential work of the law, to the Lord. He knows not Jesus because his adherence to the law is false, is but a pretense. If he followed the law rightly it would lead him to the justification found in Jesus; but love, the heart of the law, is far from his sight.
Let us, brothers and sisters, not be blind as the Pharisee. Let us not take refuge in our own works and ignore the Lord who walks amongst us. If we do not recognize our sins against Him, we shall never come to the light of salvation, we shall never know His surpassing love. Let us be as David and as the woman: let us “bathe His feet” with our tears of repentance. He is waiting to forgive.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Cry Mercy" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, cast all evil from our hearts
that we might walk in the company of your Son.
YHWH, may we have faith in you and in your Son that we might be saved from our sin and share in your love. It is this grace Jesus comes to impart to us: the forgiveness of our sins. How we should rejoice that you look upon our tears!
To even the worst of sinners you show great pity; we may say that these deserve your mercy even more. For those who recognize the depth of their sin against you, you raise to great heights, O LORD. And it is not so much repentance of sin itself that opens us to your saving hand upon us, but our realization of the glory before us in your only Son and how no soul is able to stand in the overwhelming light of His presence.
And so let us all fall at the feet of Christ with tears pouring from our eyes, in repentance for our sins, yes, but more so for the surpassing love He offers freely to all who believe in Him… and so come to you. Take away the guilt of our sin, dearest God.
Fri, 10 June 2016
O son of encouragement
and of consolation in the Holy Spirit,
you who were filled with faith
and lived that faith for the Lord,
giving up all things to bring His Name forth
to the ends of the earth,
calling all souls
and confirming them in the truth
by the authority of the risen Son –
whose footsteps go forth today
as did yours
upon the birth of the Church;
what souls are so blessed
to be set apart by the Spirit
to perform His works
in this dying world,
to bring His light
to those who sit in darkness?
Pray the Lord shall indeed
send out laborers into His vineyard
and they shall with the same faith
be an encouragement to all,
a consolation to Christian souls.
Fri, 10 June 2016
(1Kgs.19:19-21; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-10; Mt.5:33-37)
“I will follow you.”
Elisha gives His yes to Elijah, and so to God. He “kiss[es] [his] father and mother good-bye” and weds himself to the prophet who has thrown “his cloak over him.” And he shall not turn back, shall not fall short of giving his entire self to the service of God, and so shall be greatly blessed. All he leaves behind. His very livelihood he slaughters, and gives these twelve oxen “to his people to eat.” For he shall not return to work for them anymore.
“You are my inheritance, O Lord,” David sings; “my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” All his soul trusts in the Lord in whom he “take[s] refuge,” and what more does the Lord’s king need? “My heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence”: all his being finds peace in the presence of God, for all his being is set upon Him.
So it is, brothers and sisters, that to the extent we give ourselves to God, to the degree that we give our yes to the Lord, even so will we find our place secure. For making our home in heaven with Him, there is nothing to keep us from His grace. All else falls short of His glory. Heaven and earth shall pass away, and the hairs on our heads are numbered: only the New Jerusalem is lasting; only heaven is secure, for only in heaven is God.
We must be with Him. We must give ourselves to Him. Why should anything less hold sway in our lives? Why should we hesitate to follow Him with our whole heart? For there is nothing else that has importance – heaven is all that matters, and giving our lives to this place which is all life, how protected we are from “the evil one” who would dilute our love of God. And how certain our yes to our God is a no to this adversarial devil.
Honor your mother and father, children; give to all the love that is due. But give to God your very soul; let your spirit rest in Him alone, and you will be blessed forevermore.
O LORD, let us follow you unreservedly
and know your presence at our side.
YHWH, let us give you our ‘yes’ even as your Blessed Mother, even as Elisha, even as all your faithful disciples. Let us give all things over to you and follow your way unreservedly. In your truth let us ever remain, not wavering or turning back to what we have left behind. In you let us make our home and we will dwell in Heaven.
What do we need but you at our side? For what should we be concerned but serving your will? For as we take refuge in you, as we set our hearts on your work and your will, nothing can disturb us – in complete confidence our soul abides. For you are all, O LORD; you are all and everything, and nothing exists apart from you. And so, if we have you, everything is ours. Let us but give our trust to you.
And we shall never die if we trust our lives into your hands. You shall be our food and drink, and we shall sit at your table forever… O LORD, we give you our ‘yes’ this day.
Thu, 9 June 2016
(1Kgs.19:9,11-16; Ps.27:7-9,13-14; Mt.5:27-32)
“Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.”
“Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me,” David sings in our psalm; and it is the presence of the Lord that is made known to Elijah in our first reading. And that same presence stands most openly before us in the teaching of Jesus in our gospel.
Elijah comes to the mountain of God to find shelter against the persecutions of his own people, for as he says, “I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” He alone holds the word of God, and so with what zealousness his life is sought. God promises to show Himself to His lone prophet, but neither in the “strong and heavy wind” nor in “the earthquake” nor in “the fire,” which come before Elijah with great power as he stands upon the mountain, does the prophet find God. By none of these is he moved. But in “a tiny whispering sound” the presence of the Most High God is made known (“it is not by sword or spear…” 1Sm.17:47); it is this still, small voice that instills the fear of the Lord in his pierced soul and causes him to “hid[e] his face in his cloak and [go and stand] at the entrance of the cave,” now seeking shelter from the power of God.
And is not this quiet Word made known in fullness today in the presence of Jesus, He who came “humble and mounted on an ass” (Mt. 21:5)? Does His simple teaching, do His gentle words not rend our hearts in twain? Here is the power of strong wind, earthquake, and fire all together in the voice of the Son of a carpenter; here in this unassuming flesh is God Himself made known.
And what does He teach us? And how difficult is it to hear! How we must cower at His words as they reach into our heart! For He tells us that our glance must seek God alone, that our heart must speak, our actions must reveal, His love only. Else what can we do with our eye but to “gouge it out and throw it away”? What can we do with our hand but “cut it off and throw it away” if it will not do the will of the Lord? For all else is waste, and to pursue in blindness the mere pleasures of the flesh, to look upon the vanity of the world with longing, will but bring us to Gehenna – this the gentle Lord would prevent with all His might, with even His death upon a cross.
Do not turn your look upon the sins of this degenerate age. Do not throw in your lot with those “who have forsaken [the Lord’s] covenant, torn down [His] altars, and put the prophets to the sword.” “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord,” and you “shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” – and you shall be wed in truth to Him who is all love, and you shall be called to anoint kings and prophets, to do the will of the Father in fullness as His holy children.
O LORD, let us be pure of heart,
that we might see you, that we might know you,
that we might be in your presence and do your will.
YHWH, how can we bear your Word reaching down into our souls; how can we stand in your presence? Though you come to us in gentleness and humility, your loving word is severe to hearts full of sin as our own. And so we hide our faces from your radiant presence.
Let us not be afraid, O LORD, to heed your Word and do your will; change our hearts that they might be pure as your own. Let us not look with lust upon the tempting objects of this world or reach our hand out to them or run to find them… In peace and in calm let us remain in your presence, your Word ministering to our poor souls. Let us desire only to be like you, dear God, and to dwell in your presence.
O LORD, you will take us to your kingdom after this earthly life is spent, if we spend it in your service. Keep us close to you all our days, protect us from the attacks of the devil, and we indeed shall come to see the glory of your transcendent kingdom. O let us be subject to you and your gentle, saving Word this day!
Wed, 8 June 2016
O harp of the Holy Spirit
whose song rose up to Jesus
and in honor of the Virgin Mary,
whose heart was set on Heaven
and the eternal light therein,
and who served so well to defend the faith
when from contemplation you came –
pray we too shall have a song
dedicated wholly to the Lord
welling up in hearts
set on His presence,
on the kingdom that passes not away;
and pray, too, the teaching of the Church
shall always be true,
shall always be rooted
in the Spirit,
expressive of the love of God.
What is this world as it passes away,
and who are we apart from God
and His House?
O how we long for Heaven!
Pray, dear brother, with our Blessed Mother,
that we shall come to dwell where you are.
Wed, 8 June 2016
(1Kgs.18:41-46; Ps.65:2,10-13; Mt.5:20-26)
“You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.”
“There is the sound of a heavy rain.” The Lord is speaking. The Lord is teaching. Jesus is revealing the strait path of holiness that leads to the Father, and His words and His Person come like a fruitful rain upon a drought-stricken land.
O Lord, “thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.” By your speaking, by your teaching… by your bleeding on the cross for us “you have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest.” But will we receive these rains? Will we accept His chastisements which lead to life, which are the only way to the kingdom of God?
Here are the Lord’s words, the commands of His mouth: “Everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna.” To what extent has He increased the prescriptions of the law! For He calls us to a holiness that surpasses the holiness of the law. He calls us to the kingdom of God, and great rains are needed to foster its life. And so He demands that we “be reconciled with [our] brother”; and so He warns us to “settle with [our] opponent.” For we are on our way to His holy court, and not even the smallest sin will stand there.
The eyes of Elijah see but “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” It is but the shadows the prophets knew as “the sky grew dark with clouds and wind.” But it was enough to recognize the coming presence of the Lord that would relieve the drought upon the land, upon the nation of Israel. We, brothers and sisters, are those upon whom “a heavy rain fell,” for now Christ has come; now He calls to us in Person from the cross and from His throne in heaven. If you wish to come to where He is, you must go where He has been: the cross is the heavy rain which brings the sweet smelling flower of heaven.
“God’s watercourses are filled” and “rejoicing clothes the hills.” Listen to His words now. Be obedient to His command. It is the driving rain which breaks up the ground and prepares the soul for holiness.
O LORD, send your rain upon us to soften our hearts;
let us be perfect as you
by your chastising Word of love.
YHWH, release us from judgment, we pray. Send upon us your driving rain, to cleanse our souls of all harsh words and anger. How shall we stand before your throne if here we cannot forgive, for how shall we ourselves be forgiven our grave sins if our hearts are hardened? O send your rain, LORD! Send your rain, and let our hearts be open to receive it well.
Your Word is as a chastising rain to our souls, O LORD; it is the strong words from your mouth that serve to cleanse us from our sin and soften the ground of our hearts to receive your grace and blessings. If we have not your mercy within us, we are dead, for then there is no remedy for our sin. Speak to us; instruct us in your ways, and let us be obedient to your command, to your chastisement that brings new life from this poor land.
O LORD, subject us not to the trial; lead us not before your tribunal. For we have nothing to pay our debt and so cannot stand before you. Only your mercy will save us on that day. Let us have your mercy within us now, and share it with others.
Tue, 7 June 2016
(1Kgs.18:20-39; Ps.16:1-2,4-5,8,11; Mt.5:17-19)
“If the Lord is God, follow Him;
if Baal, follow him.”
Today “the only surviving prophet of the Lord” comes to reveal to the people that “the Lord is God!” Elijah seeks to open the Israelites’ eyes to the presence of God, to bring them “back to their senses.” And how evident it becomes that “they multiply their sorrows who court other gods,” and that those “who set the Lord ever before” themselves are able to declare with David in faith: “With Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
The great futility, the absolute emptiness of following false gods is shown in clear focus in the four hundred and fifty “prophets” who “hopped around the altar” and “called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, ‘Answer us, Baal!’” How well our first reading summarizes the response of gods who are no gods: “But there was no sound, and no one answering.” After “Elijah taunted them: ‘Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened,’” they compounded their worship to utter absurdity as they “called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them.”
From this exercise of futile worship Elijah calls the people, saying simply, “Come here to me.” And they move from this macabre circus scene over to the altar of the Lord the prophet prepares. And here the power of the Lord is unveiled beyond doubt to open the wayward hearts of God’s chosen ones. Water upon water is poured upon the evening sacrifice, but the Lord’s fire comes at the word of Elijah and consumes all.
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel.” Let it be understood that your law must be followed and not the wicked contrivances of the human heart. Let be known the truth of your Son’s words: “Whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of God. Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God.” For we shall only know the “fullness of joys in your presence” if we keep to your way, following Him who has come “to fulfill” “the law and the prophets.” Let us never “court other gods” but with your humble king call out ever, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, all your Law is holy for you alone are holy
and lead us only into your presence –
praise you, O LORD our God!
YHWH, you alone are God indeed; you alone should we worship – your NAME alone should we call upon to answer all our needs. And your Law we should keep with all our hearts if we hope to gain a hearing from you.
We are so blind, O LORD, blind to your presence, blind to your power, blind to your love for us and the care you provide in your Word. We seek to make our own way, to worship a god of our own making, and so we fall away from you who hold our very lives in your hands. Send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon us to awaken us to your glory and your love here in our midst this day, that we might turn to true worship, worship of you who alone are worthy of our praise.
O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled in us; let us keep your commands perfectly, following in the way of your only Son, who is the fulfillment of your Word. Yes, you alone are God and He alone is the way to you – let us live in your truth.
Mon, 6 June 2016
(1Kgs.17:7-16; Ps.4:2-5,7-8; Mt.5:13-16)
“The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”
Again today we see in our readings that the Lord provides for His children’s needs, that indeed He is with us until the end of the age – yes, “the Lord does wonders for His faithful one.”
As “the brook where Elijah was hiding ran dry,” the Lord instructed him to go to Zarephath of Sidon, a pagan territory, saying, “I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” Elijah is obedient and the Lord is faithful to His word, for just “as he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there.” (Indeed, how wonderful it is to see the word of the Lord fulfilled!) Elijah does not hide the Lord’s prophecy from his benefactress, and she, too, believes the word the Lord has spoken. And so she and her son and the prophet were “able to eat for a year” from a jar that was all but empty.
Brothers and sisters, our psalmist David sings in joy to the Lord today, “O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!” And how certain it is that He gives light to those who seek Him, those who have faith in Him. For “when [we] call… [He] relieve[s] [us]… in distress… [and] put[s] gladness into [our] heart[s], more than when grain and wine abound.” For the light of the Lord is greater than the bread we eat; it is His love alone which provides all and alone brings joy to our souls.
And we are called to share in that light, to be “the light of the world.” It is into us He places His light and then invites us to “set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house”: “Your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.” As He is Light, we must be light; as He provides for the needs of all, we must provide for the needs of all. And we must believe that, as “the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah,” just so the light He gives our lives shall not dim and the salt which draws it forth shall not lose its savor – we must believe that He indeed will provide for us, even to His second coming. And it shall be so. His love shall ever grow and this Bread be shared more and more with those He calls out of the world. Though famine be upon the land, He feeds us with the finest wheat, and calls us to feed others.
O LORD, let your light shine upon us and through us –
let us have faith in you
and see your work accomplished in our lives.
YHWH, let the light of your countenance shine upon us, and let that same light shine through us to illumine the world, to give light to all who see us. You alone provide for us; you alone feed us; and you alone make our lives of worth – let it be you we bring to others.
If our salt be not of you, O LORD, what good will it be and what good can it do? Apart from you and the light of your love, we are useless, fit for the trash. But if we keep our eyes fixed on you and your holy light, if we call to you in our distress and have faith in the care you take for the souls of those who love you, then we shall be made whole in your sight and ready to serve your will.
What water can we find upon this earth, LORD, for it is dry and lifeless. Our spirits sag and the darkness threatens to overcome us. Let us not be of the darkness; let us not give in to its threats. Let us remember you and in you place our trust, and there shall be food and water in abundance, and we will see your hand at work even in our own lives. Praise you for your goodness!
Sun, 5 June 2016
O preacher of the Word of God
and model of the Gospel,
you embraced poverty and penance
in accord with the way of Christ
and His teaching
and called your brothers
to do the same,
that the Church might be renewed,
that she might be holy
even as the Father is holy –
pray all souls
might indeed find holiness of life
even as within
pray all might embrace
the poverty of Christ,
living the faith pronounced
in sacred Scripture.
And pray that they may be led
along this narrow path
to the kingdom of the Lord
by faithful priests and bishops,
shepherds like yourself.
Sun, 5 June 2016
(1Kgs.17:1-6; Ps.121:1-8; Mt.5:1-12)
“My help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
It is He whom we seek when we “lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains.” And what do we find but that “the Lord is [our] guardian; the Lord is [our] shade; He is beside [us] at [our] right hand.”
Does the Lord not watch over those who trust in Him? Take Elijah for your example. He is led into exile under the stars, separated far from his people, yet he finds “the sun shall not harm [him] by day, nor the moon by night.” He finds, in fact, his needs are met in a most marvelous way, for “ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.” At the Lord’s command even these birds of the air serve to provide the needs of those who take refuge in Him. And His refreshing waters are always at our side.
Brothers and sisters, what do we see when we lift our eyes to the mountain? Do we not see the Lord sitting, teaching us His way? Are our hearts not nourished by His Word and our souls refreshed by His Bread? He speaks to us only truth, assuring us that “blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.” He tells us what we indeed find as we live our lives under His wings. If our refuge were the world, how could sorrow and lowliness bring us blessing? Would our hunger and thirst not then be for the riches of this world, and we find ourselves fatted thereby for the day of slaughter? But being “single-hearted” and with a “hunger and thirst for holiness,” we find ourselves more than satisfied; we find that we “shall see God.” What more need has the devout soul than to dwell in the light of the Lord?
“The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever”; He shall not “suffer your foot to slip,” for “He neither slumbers nor sleeps” but is ever diligent in the protection He provides His holy ones. And so what should you do but “be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” As long as you remain with Him, He shall watch over you; and to His blessings there is no end, for all is held in His sacred hands and His desire is always to shower His mercy upon your soul.
O LORD, as we give ourselves over to your Word
and His way of the Cross,
you bless us and bring us into your kingdom.
YHWH, you watch over all our ways; you guard and guide and bless our days. Ever at our side you wait, to feed us with all we need. How blessed indeed we are to have you as our God. There is none who provides as you do.
And so, let us continue on your way, LORD; lead us each day to the place we should be. In your will all is accomplished well – let us be ever at your side.
Though we mourn and though we weep, though we hunger and thirst for your love… though we suffer in this world for holiness’ sake, you answer all our desires, O LORD our God.
And so, let us be as your prophets of old, trusting only in your hand, needing nothing but your presence with us and the promised reward of Heaven. For nothing can harm us if you are there, and with you we already taste the kingdom.
Sat, 4 June 2016
O apostle of the faith
called out from monastery walls
to travel into the world,
laboring and suffering
even to the shedding of blood
as you steered Christ’s ship
pounded by waves
but kept on course,
spreading out upon the face of the earth
by the sacrifice of shepherds
like yourself –
pray the bishops of today
will unceasingly teach the faith,
defending the Church from all assaults,
never silent in the face of danger,
never turning from their call
but preaching the Gospel
in season and out of season
that in all seasons
Christ’s flock might increase
and be strengthened.
Let us rather die
than give in to the impending darkness.
Sat, 4 June 2016
(1Kgs.17:17-24; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-12; Gal.1:11-19; Lk.7:11-17)
“O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld.”
“You preserved me from among those going down into the pit.” For I was dead, but now I live. These should be the words of us all, for the Lord indeed is our salvation – our life breath comes from Him, and He will preserve us from all death. No longer in sin, we rise to new life.
The resurrecting power of God is clearly evident in our readings today. We see both Jesus and Elijah raising the dead. And perhaps the rising of Paul from the blind pit into which he’d fallen, which led him even to persecute and attempt to destroy the Church, is the most remarkable resurrection.
What we should take from today’s readings is the sure knowledge that God is life and that life has no origin other than Him. Paul proclaims the Word he preaches comes only from God through the revelation of Jesus Christ – emphasizing that no man taught him the Word which burns in his soul (a Word which gives life to all who hear it) – and in both the gospel and the first reading those who witness the raising of the dead attribute rightly its source to the Lord. In one they proclaim, “God has visited His people,” and in the other the widow of Sidon states of Elijah: “The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.” This is the character of the Word, this is the quality of God – He gives life. And so we know Him.
And we indeed are all as the widows in today’s readings; we are all bereft of our only sons, of the light of our eyes and our very life. We mourn for the loss of our souls which is imminent because of our sin. And we, too, weep. Who shall save us? Who shall speak a word to us to revive us, to return our life’s breath, to restore our souls? Jesus comes to us. He visits our city, He comes to our door. His Word approaches our hearts and calls to us to arise – He breathes upon us the breath of new life. His apostles go forth from the foundation set in Peter, and this true Gospel is that which shall save the world, which shall bring it from its mourning to joy.
But do we mourn the loss of our souls? Do we bewail that which is taken from us by sin? Do we see the death upon us? We must come as widows calling upon the Lord to find His Word at work in our hearts, bringing us to life. And we must share that Word with others. Once raised from the dead, we must proclaim what the Word has done for us. We must recognize His power at work in the world.
May the Word go forth to the ends of the earth, speaking of the saving power of God. May it raise all from death.
Written, read and chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let the life breath return to your children;
by your grace let us rise from the dead to praise you.
YHWH, your Son looks with pity upon our poor condition, He sees that we are bereft of our only Child, of the light of our eyes – He sees our souls descend to the nether world and desires only to raise them from such darkness to the eternal light of your presence… and He prays for us… and He calls to us… and we rise and are held in our Mother’s arms.
To the Church Jesus entrusts our souls; our very lives are in the hands of our Mother on earth. Dearest God, let us never be separated from the life-giving Breath you give us through your apostles, through the magisterium, through the teaching of your Son which they guard so assiduously. In your House let us remain all the days of our life.
What hope have we if you call attention to our guilt, to the sin upon our souls? But in your compassion you preserve us from certain death, and for this we praise you. Thank you, LORD, for visiting your people and changing our mourning into dancing before you.
Fri, 3 June 2016
O Sanctuary of the Father,
Temple of the Holy Spirit,
Mother of the Son of God
who carried Him in your womb
and contemplated Him
in your heart –
how shall we find Jesus
how shall we become
the temples of the Spirit
the Lord calls us all to be
if you do not pray for us,
if we are not formed
in your womb,
in the love
with which you are blessed?
Hold us in your soul, dear Mother,
that our spirits might join with your own
and we might thus become one
with our Lord and brother.
In us also let Him make His home.
Fri, 3 June 2016
(2Tm.4:1-8; Ps.71:8-9,14-17,22; Mk.12:38-44)
“Put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry.”
In final words to his blessed disciple, Paul exhorts Timothy with all the strength he is able to muster “to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient – correcting, reproving, appealing – constantly teaching and never losing patience.” He even invokes “the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead,” to emphasize the seriousness of his charge. Clearly the end approaches for Paul. He himself states: “The time of my dissolution is near” – and so it is with great urgency he desires his preaching task to go forth, for Timothy’s own sake, that he might share the “merited crown” that awaits his father in the faith, and for all who look “for [the Lord’s] appearing with eager longing.”
Paul sees as he draws nigh to the Day of the Lord what has perhaps never been known so clearly as today, that “the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears.” He prophecies so well what is true of every age but is magnified so greatly in the dark time in which we live: “They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables.” More have died in war in the last century than in all the rest of human history; and the martyrs’ blood has never mounted as high to heaven as in this atheistic age wherein all hearts turn away from true doctrine to enshrine the workings of their own hands and minds. (May the smoke of Satan be blown from the confines of the Church and the devil’s veil of illusion be lifted from all minds!)
But we must not be as the scribes “who like to parade around in their robes and accept marks of respect in public, front seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.” The prideful adulation that sparks the unholy fire of the cults so prevalent in our glamorous time is not what must call to our hearts or be the leaven for our souls. We must but praise the Lord! With our psalmist we must sing to our Lord and our God, “the Holy One of Israel”: “My mouth shall be filled with your praise, with your glory day by day.” We must “give [Him] thanks with music on the lyre,” with our body’s every fiber.
Brothers and sisters, we must “always hope and praise [God] ever more and more.” Ever we are called to draw closer to the Lord. We have not yet been as the widow who “gave from her want, all that she had to live on”; we have not yet been “poured out like a libation” as has Paul; we have not yet shed blood with Jesus on the cross. We cannot yet say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”; for there is much race yet to be run and to the end our faith must endure and grow ever stronger day to day. Indeed our ministry must be fulfilled, all our strength spent in witness to the Word of Truth.
O LORD, send us true teachers of the faith,
that we might be so faithful ourselves,
pouring out our lives for your sake.
YHWH, to you let us turn in faith; instruct us ever in your way. Let your truth alone be taught by all who stand in your place. Laying down their lives for your flock, may they find their blessing on your Day.
And let us all lay down our lives with them; O LORD, let all men sing your praise. For none is released from your call to preach, to live the faith all our days.
Soon your Son shall return; let our eyes be up and looking for His coming. Let us desire to unite with you and so give all we have toward that end. We may not have much to give, LORD, but if we place all at your service, you will multiply our good works and make us worthy to stand with you.
O LORD, keep us from those who lead souls astray by their words and by their actions. To Jesus indeed let us look, and to His faithful disciples, to find the way we should walk. If we are diligent in following you, if we are humble and speak the truth, you will bless us and all we do, and join our song to that of your saints. May Jesus teach us this day.
Thu, 2 June 2016
O modern martyrs for Christ
who gave your lives even as the early Christians,
under torture by the emperor,
who remained steadfast as these
despite sword or fire
come by the power of the king…
a new age indeed you ushered in,
one of mighty suffering,
a time for the blood to mount up on this earth –
pray, brothers in the faith,
that your sacrifice not be in vain,
that we shall join you in loyal service
and so find the Church blessed
with new growth in the Spirit.
Though new to the faith yourselves
when you bled and died for the Word,
deeply was your foundation laid,
unshaken by the threats of the mighty.
Should we not be the same;
should we not follow in your way,
we who profess to love the Lord?
Thu, 2 June 2016
(Ez.34:11-16; Ps.23:1-6; Rm.5:5-11; Lk.15:3-7)
“I have found my lost sheep.”
“We have found reconciliation” through the blood of Jesus Christ. So the Apostle Paul tells us, and so we know to the depths of our hearts, which are united to His Sacred Heart. Once we were sinners, scattered like sheep on the hillside, but the Lamb of God has come and died for us, and so we His scattered sheep are led home. He has brought to fulfillment the promise of the Father to walk among us and rescue us from the darkness that envelops this world. “The lost,” “the strayed,” “the injured,” “the sick,” He has come to lead back to the bosom of the Father, where we may take refuge in His Sacred Heart.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”; so let us recognize our sin that His blood might be efficacious. Let us not deny His grace as “people who have no need to repent.” For if we say we are righteous, the darkness will continue to surround us and He will not be beside us to guide us to the Father’s pasture: we will be left alone and forsaken. No, let us cause heaven to rejoice by repenting of our sin each day and always finding His blood at work within us. To what pasture He leads us! What protection we find even in this life, a blessing known especially in His Sacrament. And what future awaits us in His heavenly kingdom. We taste it and make our boast in it now, but there it shall be known in its fullness when, indeed, nothing shall ever harm us. “For, now we rejoice in the refuge He gives as we “walk in the dark valley”; even still He is gathering His scattered sheep. Yes, to this day He moves among us as our Shepherd, and then we shall rest eternally in the Father’s arms.
We give thanks to the Lord for the blessings He provides us on our path to His glory. We thank Him for His Church and its sacraments. We come to the altar and receive His sacrifice this day, knowing we are not worthy of such a call. But we confess our sins to Him. We seek His forgiveness through the ministry of the shepherds He has left us, and His mercy finds a place in us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for your grace and mercy.
Lead us home to the Father’s arms.
O Lord, like sheep we have all gone astray;
lead us back today,
and on your holy mountain
may we take rest.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, in your mercy and love
shepherd us to restful waters.
YHWH, is it not the blood of your Son that reconciles us to you, that shepherds us into your kingdom? And so, does Heaven not now await every repentant sinner? O let us rejoice in your presence with all who have found your forgiveness!
Your promise is sure, dear God. You promise to come among us and lead all straying souls back to you, back to your holy mountain; and this you have accomplished by sending your Son to die for our sins. And now by the grace upon us by virtue of His sacrifice, your Spirit guides us in right paths to your House, where we shall dwell forever in your peace.
Why do you love us so, dear LORD? Why does your Son so freely lay down His life for godless men like us? O let us but accept the healing grace that comes to us because of your compassion! Let all souls repent of their sin and rejoice in Heaven, in your Sacred Heart.
Wed, 1 June 2016
O blessed martyrs for the Lord,
in your catacombs the faith flourished,
upon your tomb the Church was built…
your blood is the seed
planted in the ground
that has caused the growth
of the tree of life;
joining in the sacrifice of Christ,
His great joy you knew –
pray that such grace
will be known to us this day,
that we will give ourselves in faith
to the Holy One by whom we are saved
and so find union with Him in Heaven.
How far His consolation is
from our souls this day,
for how little love we show;
have our hearts not become as a tomb?
Though cold and lifeless,
by your prayers
may our faith flourish once more, dear saints.
Wed, 1 June 2016
(2Tm.2:8-15; Ps.25:4-5,8-10,14; Mk.12:28-34)
“Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior.”
Brothers and sisters, “Remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, was raised from the dead.” He is our Lord. He is our God. He is our Savior who speaks only truth. Listen to Him and walk in His way, “following a straight course in preaching the truth.”
After Jesus proclaims the greatest of all commandments today, finally, “no one ha[s] the courage to ask Him any more questions.” Finally the traps cease to be set to catch Jesus in His speech and the leaders of the people “stop disputing about mere words.” For who can argue with the Son of God when He makes known the clear path to God, when He exposes the heart of the law and the prophets in absolute terms? Only silence can follow such Truth. No vain utterance can stand in the face of such Love.
For the command is love, and Jesus is love – and this Paul has come to preach, “even to the point of being thrown into chains.” His only concern is for “those whom God has chosen, in order that they may obtain the salvation to be found in Christ Jesus.” For this he preaches the Gospel unto death, that all might hear and know of the love of God… and should we not join him? Should the Church not be a speaker of the truth in love, “a workman who has no cause to be ashamed”? Should she cower to declare Christ Jesus risen from the dead and fear offending those on the path to destruction? Should she stand by idly as false gospels are preached and docile lambs are led to the teeth of wolves in sheep’s clothing? Does she not care for the flock as does Paul, as does Paul exhort Timothy? Should it not be she who “guides the humble to justice” and “teaches the humble His way”?
Brothers and sisters, “there is no chaining the word of God!” and there is no place for falsehood to stand in its light. God is love and we must love others. We do not love by nodding as others fall into error – this is not our call in the Lord. We must teach the truth with Jesus our Lord with “heart,” “mind,” “soul,” and “strength,” His Spirit of love and truth upon us. Then will all lies fall silent. Then will light shine. Then will His love be known and all come to the “eternal glory” He holds.
O LORD, teach us your way of love
that humbly we might walk in it
and teach it with strength to others.
YHWH, Jesus is the true teacher of the faith, for He is risen from the dead – He is your Son, O God! Who can dispute with His wisdom? Who can question His knowledge, who compare with His holiness? None there is beside Him, yet send us true teachers to speak in His Name.
We are prone to go astray, dear LORD, to wander from your love, which is life itself to us. We do indeed tend to forget why we’re here and fall easily into sin. O send forth your preachers to remind us of your love, to remind us of the sacrifice your Son has made for us, and that He is risen from the dead. For if we forget not that He is raised for our sakes, will not your love remain in our hearts; will we not conquer sin and death and live with you in love of one another? Then let your Word come to us and make His home in us, that humbly we might worship you all the days of our life.
O LORD, let us be faithful to your Word at work within us and live in your love. May all our being bless your NAME!
Tue, 31 May 2016
O prophet of the Lord
who spoke in His defense
even before the bench of death,
who professed the wisdom of the Cross
over the intelligence of our race
and all the ideas
it could conceive,
who chose true worship
of the One God
even over life itself
and taught us also
His way in His Church –
pray we shall merit with you
the name of Christian,
the name above every other name,
upon our lips and hearts,
that we shall follow in His steps
seeking always the truth
and His love;
pray we shall worship Him
who deserves all worship and praise
and serve Him and His Church
even with our last breath on this earth.
Tue, 31 May 2016
(2Tm.1:1-3,6-12; Ps.123:1-2; Mk.12:18-27)
“He has robbed death of its power
and has brought life and immortality into clear light
through the Gospel.”
It is this Gospel which Paul exhorts his “dear child” Timothy to serve, to preach and to teach “with the strength which comes from God, bear[ing] [his] share of the hardship which the Gospel entails.” Paul has suffered for the sake of the Gospel – and suffers “present hardships” till the end – and he would see his favored disciple carry on in his way. And so he encourages him: “The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit but rather one that makes us strong, loving, and wise.” For of the life Christ brings the world must know, and who shall preach it if we don’t? And so, through his letter Paul calls us all to be as he is, “an apostle of Christ Jesus sent to proclaim the promise of life in Him.”
Does Jesus not bear well His hardships today in our gospel? Does He not stand strong and speak of life everlasting even before those who “hold there is no resurrection”? The Sadducees question Him: “At the resurrection, when they all come back to life, whose wife will she be” – she who has married so many? Again a trap is laid, and again it is shown so futile, for what word can stand before the word of God. And that Word answers simply and directly: “When people rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but live like angels in heaven.” These Sadducees “fail to understand Scripture or the power of God,” and so they are terribly blind in their mistaken thinking, which sees nothing beyond the present time. (Yet the present, too, they do not understand, for they do not recognize Him who stands before them.)
Brothers and sisters, we are called to live like the angels of heaven, and not only to live such, but to preach this life as our Savior has done, as Paul has done, as Timothy. We must keep “our eyes on the Lord, our God,” “confident that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to [us] until that Day” when we join Him who is “enthroned in heaven.” And so let us “stir into flame the gift of God”; let us speak His Word of life without fear for the hardships the Gospel entails. The Light that lasts forever has come into our midst, and before Him death has no dominion.
O LORD, through all the trials of this world,
bring us to the light of Heaven.
YHWH, God of the living, let our eyes be ever upon you, let us ever remember you whom we serve… and let us ever serve you with strength and dedication, knowing it is through you we are brought to new birth and made immortal as you. O let us live with you now and forever!
Why should we be afraid, LORD, of any challenge to our faith? Why should we turn away from our call to worship in your NAME? Why should we hesitate to proclaim your glory and the grace you bring us by your Son’s death and resurrection? His sacrifice means life to us, and to turn from His Cross would spell our death. May we serve Him and His Gospel in confidence all our days and so come to the place He prepares for us in Heaven.
All your angels and saints live forever in your holy presence, their eyes ever upon you and their voices ever praising your NAME. May we share with them in your holy life even as we toil for you on this plane.
Mon, 30 May 2016
O Mother of our Lord,
who are we
that you should visit us?
Over hills you came
to see your cousin Elizabeth
and the child she conceived
to her you brought the Child
who brings us all salvation.
Yes, to us all you bring Jesus…
all holy souls you visit with His grace.
John the Baptist proclaims this Savior
whom he has known first
in your voice,
and all hearts leap up
at your approach;
for the Lord is with you,
even in your blessed womb:
how blessed is this fruit you bear!
Visit us this day, dear Mother,
with Jesus our Redeemer,
that even this day
we may rejoice in His Name.
Mon, 30 May 2016
(Zeph.3:14-18 or Rom.12:9-16; Is.12:2-6; Lk.1:39-56)
“Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.”
How can we capture the joy of this day? For here is the sign of our promised salvation; here we find the first apostolic act in Mary’s bringing the Word of God, so recently conceived in her womb, to Elizabeth, and to her son John the Baptist.
“Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!” Zephaniah encourages the holy nation. And for what does Zion, and indeed the whole world, rejoice but that which we celebrate this day? Here in these simple, lowly women we find all of Israel rejoicing as she brings to birth her Savior. Yes, even now “the Lord, [her] God, is in [her] midst,” even in her womb; and already He begins to bring salvation forth. Already we find a kind of first Pentecost as first, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’… and then Mary said: ‘My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior?” And already the Baptist in the womb of his aged mother has been inspired by the presence of the Son of God; already he has “stirred in [her] womb for joy,” just at the sound of Mary’s voice touching the ears of his mother, even as Jesus is but days old in Mary’s blessed womb.
And how does all this joy come but through humility. “For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call [her] blessed.” Yes, Mary is raised “to high places,” is become the Mother of God, because of her great humility before Him. It is this lowliness she proclaims in her canticle today; it is this lowliness Elizabeth exudes when she asks, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” – and it is this same lowliness which is required of all the children of Israel, of all Abraham’s descendants, if we are to know that “the Lord has removed the judgment against [us],” if we are to “shout with exultation” for “the Holy One of Israel” in our midst.
Let us heed Paul’s instruction to the Romans to “put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly” that we might “rejoice with those who rejoice.” As our holy women today, these models of faith, let us “look on the needs of the saints as [our] own” and “be generous in offering hospitality.” “Be fervent in spirit; He whom you serve is the Lord.” For it is He who comes under your roof this day. It is His holy name you should proclaim in all you do and say. And the blessing of salvation shall be upon you.
Mother of God, bring to us this day our Savior,
that we might rejoice with you in heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, you have looked upon us in our lowliness
and sent your Son to dwell among us –
may we praise you always for your glory!
YHWH, let us praise your holy NAME this day, for you have come into our midst and raised us poor creatures from the dust to dwell with you in your Temple. Praise you, LORD! Visit us this day in your love, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.
O LORD, make us humble and lowly as she who carries your Son to us, humble and lowly as Israel your Chosen one – humble and lowly as Jesus Himself. In Mary’s womb with Him let us dwell and so hear your voice calling to our hearts through all she speaks unto our poor ears. In darkness we remain, in the cave of this world; but you bring us light and life – for such grace let us praise you!
Dispel all fear from our hearts, LORD, at the sound of your Mother’s voice, and so with her let us proclaim your greatness, and the salvation you have wrought in your mercy. We are nothing, nothing but simple souls waiting on your Word… Speak to us this day and awaken us to your glory, that our hearts might exult in your presence all our days.
Mother of God, pray for your poor children.
Sun, 29 May 2016
(2Pt.1:2-7; Ps.91:1-2,14-16; Mk.12:1-12)
“I will deliver him and glorify him;
with length of life I will gratify him
and will show him my salvation.”
So the Lord speaks of us through prophecy of His only Son. So the Lord seeks to accomplish in everyone who “acknowledges [His] name.” So indeed He has sent “the Son whom He loved” for our salvation. So He prays with Peter, the Rock of His Church, “May grace be yours and peace in abundance through your knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.” For “by His own glory and power… He has bestowed on us the great and precious things He promised, so that through these [we] who have fled a world corrupted by lust might become sharers of the divine nature.”
Brothers and sisters, “that divine power of His has freely bestowed on us everything necessary for a life of genuine piety through knowledge of Him.” He has come into this world, He has entered the vineyard despite the threat of death, and has indeed been “beat[en],” “treated shamefully,” and “killed,” all that He might found His Church among us; and His grace is for us “marvelous to behold.” Should we not then “make every effort” to employ the gifts He provides by the Holy Spirit and the Church He has made? Should gift not build upon gift so that in this house of ours we grow from the foundation of faith unto the divine love of all?
Let us not be like those tenant farmers who acted out of jealousy, who could only say of the Son: “Here is the one who will inherit everything. Come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance will be ours.” For the Lord has indeed “come and destroy[ed]” these faithless servants “and turn[ed] His vineyard over to others.” We are those others. And we “inherit everything” with the Son if we “say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Yes, brothers and sisters, it is we who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Let us be most conscientious in our work in His name; let us be ever ready to provide Him “His share of produce from the vineyard.” For the vineyard is all His, and we are all His, and He is with all of us and with all we do and are – and He will deliver us and glorify us in the eternal life to which He has come to lead us. In His Son is our salvation.
O LORD, on your Son we find our blessed foundation; in Him let us grow to perfection,
to union with you.
YHWH, your Son who was rejected by man, who was despised and put to shame and to a painful death, be the foundation of our lives – let our hearts be set upon Him alone that we might become sharers of His divine nature, as is your will.
Let us build our house on faith in you, O LORD, and grow in every virtue by increasing knowledge of your power and participation in your great love, till we come to rest with you in your eternal kingdom. That kingdom you build upon this earth this day, both in the hearts of all believers and in the Church you ordain to bear your NAME, to produce fruit by your grace. Let us remain ever in this House, in this vineyard you plant, that our houses may be like your own.
O LORD, take our souls unto yourself as we give all things over to you who are the source and deserving recipient of all good things… O let us dwell in your holy House in your surpassing peace all the days of our poor lives, and so become holy as you.
Sat, 28 May 2016
(Gn.14:18-20; Ps.110:1-4; 1Cor.11:23-26; Lk.9:11b-17)
“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over,
took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broke it and said,
‘This is my body that is for you.’”
There is food for all, and it is ever available. The Lord feeds us with His own Body and Blood, and He is generous in giving His eternal self to us. Both eternal priest and victim “of God Most High,” and God Himself, we need never fear that His provision for us will lapse. And so we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; we share in His holy sacrifice until it is made complete in heaven. For it is His death which gives us life, it is the holy offering of Himself which feeds us on our journey here. Let us come always to the altar of His Sacrament and feast upon the nourishment He provides.
In our gospel we hear that “Jesus spoke to the crowds of the kingdom of God,” healing those in need. After the Word was opened to them, the bread was brought forth. “Looking up to heaven, He said the blessing over [the loaves], broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” As He would do the night before He died, so He would do here, in answer to the concern of the Twelve for the people. He says to His chosen, “Give them some food yourselves.” He thus invites them to share in His sacrifice and in His ministry by laying down their lives for the Church.
Here is the Mass clearly foreshadowed. Here it is present even before the death of Christ. Even before the victim has fully offered Himself, He leads us to the table upon which we ever feed. And that which was begun in this desert place so long ago comes down to us this day. The twelve baskets of food remaining we continue to be fed with today; and this Bread continues to be multiplied – the more we eat of it, the more there is to be eaten. Such is God’s love and generosity. Such is the richness of the table He sets before us. Like our priest and victim, it is eternal. There is no end to God’s grace and the blessings He holds for us. We cannot consume the depths of His love.
And so we are to contribute to the spreading and the sharing of the holy offering Jesus is for us. We must call all to the altar of the Lord; we must see that His gift is multiplied. He is “a priest forever”; as long as we live, He dies for us – for as long as we breathe upon this earth, His blood is poured forth. Let us pray in words and in deeds that this blood will come to many and cleanse them of their sins. Let us pray that many come to life by His sacrifice, that many will partake of His Body and His Blood. By each one who comes to the table, we are all strengthened, for the Body is made more whole. Until the time this one Body has reached fulfillment, until His sacrifice is complete, let us continue indeed to “proclaim the death of the Lord,” who thereby feeds us with His eternal love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Symbiosis: State of Living Together" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, it is you who deliver our foes into our hands,
for it is you who strengthen us
with the Body and Blood of your Son.
YHWH, Jesus shares His very Body and Blood, His own self, with us; and so we who are blessed to partake of this food become as He is, graced with the power of your only Son. As He hands the bread to His disciples to distribute to the people and it is in their hands the bread is multiplied, so His princely power is shared with all who eat His Body and drink His Blood. And so all are fed.
Jesus is the priest of the Most High God, the priest and victim whom you bless, O Father in Heaven. And the blessing upon Him falls on all who follow Him, upon all who come to His table and eat. It is for our sakes He accepts such a blessing; such a call to lay down His life He receives from you that we might have the food of Heaven, that we might not starve upon this plane. And so we proclaim the grace that is ours by His death, until He comes again.
Fri, 27 May 2016
(Jd.17,20-25; Ps.63:2-6; Mk.11:27-33)
“Welcome the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
which leads to eternal life.”
“As [Jesus] was walking in the temple precincts the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached Him.” They come to Him who is the true Temple here in the place where He teaches, but they do not come “praying in the Holy Spirit” or “persever[ing] in God’s love.” Their questions rather are those which hold condemnation. If they had come seeking truth, they would be able to speak truth when asked by Him of John’s baptism. But, far from seeking the grace of God, they desire only political advantage. And so they think among themselves, “If we say…” and “Can we say…” instead of simply baring their souls before Him who could save them. And so, answering, “We do not know,” indeed do they close themselves off from knowledge of the “authority” and “power” given to Jesus the Christ.
This cannot be our faith, brothers and sisters. Our faith must be as that sung of so beautifully by David in our psalm today: “O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” With all our beings we must strive to know Him whom our soul loves. Knowing our own emptiness apart from Him who is Truth, we indeed turn our “[gaze] toward [Him] in the sanctuary,” we indeed long for His love and mercy. And instead of speaking ill against Him or looking to condemn Him, rather we bless Him with all our souls, singing with His servant David: “Lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name… and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.”
The baptism of John was divine and Jesus is its divine fulfillment. He is the “One who can protect [us] from a fall and make [us] stand unblemished and exultant in the presence of His glory” if we but say, “Glory be to this only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” His indeed are “majesty” and “might”; He indeed “correct[s] those who are confused” and “snatch[es] others from the fire.” He has rescued us from sin and poured the water of the Holy Spirit upon us to slake our thirst for Him. And so, “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied.” By the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, heaven is now ours.
O LORD, keep us from falling into our pride;
let us not be separated from you.
YHWH, how shall we stand unblemished and exultant in your presence? For all glory and majesty are yours, and what are we but sinful men? Take the stain from our hands and from our clothing. Only by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will we be made ready to stand before you; only by His grace can we bless your holy NAME.
O let our lips praise you, dear God! May our souls be satisfied as with the riches of a banquet, the banquet of your eternal kingdom. Let us not doubt the glory you would share with us through our Baptism into your only Son. Let us know that He has come from you and would take us to you this day.
O LORD, we gaze toward you in the sanctuary – our hearts long to join with you on high. Thank you for making your presence known to us even on this plane, and help us to persevere in your love each day.
Thu, 26 May 2016
O converter of peoples,
called from the quiet
of cloister walls
you went obediently over seas
to preach to the souls
to whom you were sent,
and the Lord worked
through your obedience,
spoke through the words
you uttered to the nations…
and so the light of holy faith
banished the darkness of error
and souls indeed were gathered
into Christ’s fold –
pray, O shepherd,
obedience shall be ours, too,
and all whom the Father
would hold unto His breast
shall come indeed to that sacred place
and there find their rest.
May God’s will be accomplished
in His Church
and we bear fruit in His name.
Thu, 26 May 2016
(1Pt.4:7-13; Ps.96:10-13; Mk.11:11-26)
“The consummation of all is close at hand.
Therefore, do not be perturbed;
remain calm so that you will be able to pray.”
As at the time Jesus walks the earth the end of the Israelite nation is at hand – a consummation signified in “the fig tree withered to its roots” at His command, a consummation that will be fulfilled in the crucifixion of the Messiah but whose coming is already evident in the fact that the temple has been turned into “a den of thieves” – so at the time of Peter’s writing, that end is about to be realized in the destruction of the temple. And more than this, the “trial by fire” occurring in the midst of the disciples refers greatly to the death of this world we face in becoming Christians, to the persecution faced by all His children and felt most genuinely at the hands of the Romans.
But as all around is cast into the sea at the command of the Lord, we should not fear. This is the time to “put [our] trust in God,” to pray in faith, to put [our] gifts at the service of one another” and “let [our] love for one another be constant.” Rather than be sad, we must “rejoice instead, insofar as [we] share Christ’s sufferings.” For it should be our joy to see the temple cleansed, to have our hearts purified of all that is not holy – to witness the power of the hand of God at work. “For He governs the peoples with equity” as “He comes to rule the earth,” so indeed “the heavens [should] be glad and the earth rejoice.”
“In all of you God is to be glorified through Jesus Christ.” His “house is to be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” We are His House now; we hold His promise – and we come to His glory as we share in the trials He has known. If the end is close at hand, if the world is already dead, if the devil’s illusions are about to fade… what can this bring us but joy to know the Truth is about to be revealed and all His faithful ones are about to be gathered into His kingdom? Remain steadfast in love and prayer, and “a multitude of sins” shall indeed be covered; and the new life which has sprung from the withered roots of the fig tree shall soon be fulfilled in your sight.
O LORD, drive all evil from our midst
that we might not wither to our roots.
YHWH, you come to rule the earth with justice, to cast out all evildoers that your House might indeed be a house of prayer. And though such purgation bring suffering to our souls (for who is without sin?), uniting our trials to the sufferings of Christ and remaining true to His Word, we are indeed purged of all sin and made ready for the kingdom.
O let us love this day! Let us place ourselves at the service of one another, freely sharing the gifts we have by the grace of your Son. It is in Him we find our home, in Him we know our salvation, and so let His chastisement be upon us for good, O LORD, as we seek to join Him in your eternal glory.
All the earth shall rejoice at the coming of Jesus; the heavens shall sing praise at such wonder. For though the consummation of all be close at hand, O God, all who put their trust in you shall be remade in His image. Alleluia!
Wed, 25 May 2016
O priest of joy
whose song of service
rises unto the Lord
until this day,
whose delight in sacrifice
to give themselves in freedom
to the work of Christ –
pray all God’s priests
will give themselves so completely
in the love of the only Son
that indeed a holy song
might rise unto the heavens
until He returns from there
to carry us home forever.
May the Lord’s healing graces
be poured forth
through your generous intercession
that all souls might be prepared
to unite with their Creator and Redeemer,
with the Spirit who inspires the Church
even here with His glorious presence.
Wed, 25 May 2016
(1Pt.2:2-5,9-12; Ps.100:2-5; Mk.10:46-52)
“Be as eager for milk as newborn babies –
pure milk of the Spirit to make you grow unto salvation.”
Does not the “blind beggar Bartimaeus” show his eagerness for the milk of the Spirit, for the blood of Christ upon his soul, when he persistently calls out “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” despite those who “were scolding him to make him keep quiet”? And was his ready desire to meet with the Lord not revealed most clearly when “he threw aside his cloak, jumped up and came to Jesus.” All else becomes as nothing as even in his blindness he strains forward to find the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, should we not “come to Him, a living stone, rejected by men but approved, nonetheless, and precious in God’s eyes,” just as this beggar? Are we not “‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people He claims for His own to proclaim the glorious works’ of the One who called [us] from darkness into His marvelous light”? Is it not so that “once [we] were no people, but now [we] are God’s people”? Once we were blind as Bartimaeus, without mercy for our souls, “but now [we] have found mercy.” And oh how we should treasure such grace – even as a newborn child treasures its milk.
Who better than Peter, our high priest, to let us know that we “too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”? Having been cured of our own blindness, having been purged of our “carnal desires,” we join this blessed Rock of the Church at the altar on high, sharing in the sacrifice of our Risen Christ. Should this thought not cause us to “serve the Lord with gladness”? Should it not make us ever eager to serve Him more, to draw ever closer to Him as He passes by? Is it not our desire to be with Him forever?
“Get up! He is calling you!” Do not be afraid for “He made us” and we are “the flock He tends.” The gentle Lord desires nothing more than to heal your troubled soul. See that you now “follow Him up the road” in joy, growing daily in the new life and light of the Spirit of God.
O LORD, in your great mercy
you have saved us from our sins
that we might see your glory –
let us proclaim your marvelous works this day.
YHWH, we praise you for the mercy you bring to our souls. We were once blind and begging by the roadside, but you have heard our cries and healed us; and now we walk with Jesus to Jerusalem. In His very sacrifice we share, offering ourselves and our works up in His Name. So generous you are that in His priesthood we now share.
O LORD, though we are the poorest of sinners, though we have been so far from you and your mercy, mired in the deepest darkness, yet you have come to us, you have passed by the gutter in which we were splayed, and you have lifted us by your Word from our emptiness – you have given light to our eyes. Let us thank you now by following in your way, and so fulfill your grace at work in us.
O LORD, let all our carnal desires be stripped from us like an old cloak and let us stand with you in white robes. Truly, O LORD, make us your own, that we might praise you forevermore.
Tue, 24 May 2016
O humble soul
whom the Lord blessed
with mystical elevations
to His heavenly presence,
you who remained so faithful
through all trials
and encouraged others
to seek such perfection as well –
pray that this proud age
which leans so distinctly
from the truth,
from the love of God,
will be consumed as you were
by the Holy Spirit,
by desire for the Lord’s overtaking
of our lives,
that all souls will turn
from the false gods at their hands,
idols that overshadow their spirits,
and toward the humility
known only in our Savior’s blood.
Only in Him is life eternal;
pray all souls will come to His love.
Tue, 24 May 2016
O Shepherd and Father,
defender of the faith
and of holy MotherChurch
against those who would rob her
of her freedom,
those who would rape her,
stealing away her purity,
those who would deny
her singleness in the sight of God
as the House which He has founded –
those who would destroy the faith
and bring to naught
the Church, our Mother,
and Peter, our Holy Father,
do not relent in their efforts…
and so we need still
your prayers and your courage
to aid us in standing strong
against the tide
the evil one stirs up in this world.
Pray indeed, O Father,
that all our shepherds and all God’s people
will tirelessly defend the truth in love.
Tue, 24 May 2016
O learned master
whose life itself was as a monastery,
consumed as you were
by study and teaching and writing
who till the very end
spoke the name of the Lord
in all your words
and deeds –
pray that the incense of your life
will rise unto the throne of God
and intercede for us here below
who are so far from His presence,
from knowledge of His providence
and remembrance of His sacrifice.
How will we find ourselves
one with the Lord of Creation
and ascend to His glory
if you do not pray for us,
O blessed soul
so united to His will,
so held within His Hand
and breathing forth His name?
Tue, 24 May 2016
(1Pt.1:18-25; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Mk.10:32-45)
“The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve –
to give His life in ransom for the many.”
As Jesus and His apostles make their “way up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes,” He tells them that these elders of the people “will condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit at Him, flog Him, and finally kill Him.” He then adds, “But three days later He will rise.” Here is the Gospel in short. Here is “the living and enduring Word of God,” the “indestructible seed” which brings us to life by our “faith and hope” centered upon it. Yes, “by Christ’s blood” we “were delivered from the futile way of life” that sin wrought in us; this blood is “the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb chosen before the world’s foundation and revealed for [our] sake in these last days.” Christ has died, Christ is risen, and in Him we come to life again.
And we must “drink the cup” He drinks; we must “be baptized in the same bath of pain.” There is no other way to His glory. Our lives on this earth must be joined in sacrifice with Him. Never are we to “lord it over” others; but always we “must serve the rest.” So Jesus instructs His apostles in this most weighty moment filled with “wonderment” and “fear,” as He stands at the precipice of His sacrifice. And Peter tells us the same when He counsels us to “love one another constantly from the heart.” Jesus’ blood is the greatest love and it is in this river we must swim; in this ocean we shall be cleansed – “by obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brother,” the Lord’s principal apostle declares to all his faithful readers.
“He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel,” and all these are summed up in the blood of the Lamb of God. “Swiftly runs His word” to all who seek redemption from God; swiftly it comes to pierce our hearts. And though by it we ourselves bleed with Him, by it “He has granted peace in [our] borders” – through Jesus we are “believers in… the God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory,” and His same glory is ours as we die with Him now. Let this Word be inscribed upon your heart.
O LORD, your Son is the Word spoken by your mouth
that comes quickly to save us;
may we share in the cup He raises to His blessed lips.
YHWH, we are purified by the Word your Son speaks to us, by the Gospel preached in His Name – by His death and resurrection, which you desire us to share. Let His blood be upon us for good this day, that we might be thoroughly cleansed of our sins and come to serve you and one another.
Our faith and our hope are in you, LORD; all our desire is to join you in glory. The blessing of your way be known to us – let us walk the path to Jerusalem with your Son. For if we die with Him, if we lay down our lives in service of one another for your sake, then we shall live with you, saved from the death that comes upon all flesh.
Our lives are passing as the grass of the field; this you know, O LORD. But your Son has come to redeem our souls, to raise us from the dust that we might sit with Him in your kingdom. Let your will be done and we come by the drinking of His cup to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Mon, 23 May 2016
(1Pt.1:10-16; Ps.98:1-4; Mk.10:28-31)
“Set all your hope on the gift to be conferred on you
when Jesus Christ appears.”
“The Lord has made His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.” That “which the prophets carefully searched out and examined” but was hidden from their eyes, that into which “angels long to search” is now indeed made known “by those who preach the Gospel to you, in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” Yes, “the divine favor which was destined to be [ours],” “the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories that would follow” spoken of in all Scripture by the Spirit of Christ, are now come into our midst; and it is these we wait to see fulfilled.
And as we await our salvation we must “become holy… after the likeness of the holy one who called” us. As we stay, we must share in His sufferings to find His glory. “Obedient sons” of the one Father, we must pattern ourselves after His only Son. “The desires that once shaped [us] in [our] ignorance” must be absolutely abandoned as we become holy as He.
And the same Peter who instructs us in the salvation prepared for us from all ages and the holiness which alone befits it, exclaims to Jesus in our gospel today, “We have put aside everything to follow you!” as if to plead, “Have we done enough?” And the Lord assures him all that he gives up for the kingdom’s sake shall return to him a hundredfold, and “in the age to come” he shall have “everlasting life.” For indeed, as the Lord has been, so the apostles have followed, and in these same steps we must walk – to this same cross we must come.
Here we stand at the end of salvation history, as the last in a long line of the children of God. But first we can be with the Spirit as our guide and conformed to the sufferings of Christ. Being at the end of this line we have the benefit of all the prophecy and teaching that has prepared this time; greater fullness of truth is ours than at any time before. And so, more so are we called to be like our Savior; impossible is it become for us to hide in ignorance. “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God,” the light of Christ has been cast upon all hearts, and to continue in sin becomes yet a greater torture – for our eyes are so much less blind. Now must the earth become obedient to His voice, calling so clearly in its soul; condemnation awaits otherwise. Now the simple word of truth spoken by God at the heart of Scripture must be our sure guide: “Be holy, for I am holy,” and our expectations will soon be fulfilled in Him.
O LORD, your Son has come
and now sends forth the Spirit;
let us put all aside to follow Him in holiness of life.
YHWH, your salvation you have made known to us; what the prophets declared has become so in our midst – your Son has walked among us and died for us that we might be saved. O let your salvation be fulfilled this day!
O LORD, make us holy as you are holy, that we might be where you are. Help us to walk the path to glory by fully embracing the Cross your Son provides. Help us gladly to give up all things that we might find all things anew in your presence.
What of this earth matters, O LORD? What is there we should put before our love for you? For all things are in your holy hands and only by you is anything blessed. And so, let us give ourselves to you who are holy, and you will make all things holy for us.
Thank you, O LORD, for your kindness toward us. Thank you for the blood your Son has shed. Thank you for making your love known to us, for now by your grace this love we may share. Open our eyes and our hearts to the glory of your way, and let us walk that way with Jesus.
Sun, 22 May 2016
(1Pt.1:3-9; Ps.111:1-2,5-6,9-10; Mk.10:17-27)
“Go and sell what you have and give to the poor;
you will then have treasure in heaven.”
“You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials,” for even if you are not a rich man with “many possessions” to give up, all that you have that is of the world must die before you will find “birth to an imperishable inheritance incapable of fading or defilement, which is kept in heaven for you.” You can have no pride, you can have no greed, you can have no lust in your heart if you are to find the kingdom of God. Your faith must be like “fire-tried gold” whose “genuineness [will] lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears.”
Jesus’ question to the rich young man: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” is, I think, often misunderstood. The Lord is not saying not to call Him good because that title is reserved only for God, for He is God and deserves every title of praise we can utter. Rather, He is testing the young man, who kneels at this moment at His feet, to find out if he truly recognizes that He is “good”, that He is the Son of God.
This is borne out by the Lord’s response as to what the young man should do “to share in everlasting life.” Jesus first lists only the latter commandments, which refer to love of neighbor, which the young man rightfully states he has kept well. “Then Jesus looked at him with love and told him,” in essence, of his need to keep the first three commandments, those which refer to love of God, in a more complete fashion. For what is He telling him in our quote above but to have no false gods, to love the Lord with heart, mind, soul, and strength – and how is this accomplished but in His instruction: “Come and follow me”? As we give up the idols which spring from the earth, as all our possessions and our trust in them are taken from us, we find the “birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” By such death we follow Him unto heaven.
Brothers and sisters, “there is cause for rejoicing here,” for on this strait path, through this “needle’s eye,” we are “achieving faith’s goal, [our] salvation.” Let us “give thanks to the Lord with all [our] heart in the company and assembly of the just.” Let us “rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory” because God “has sent deliverance to His people; He has ratified His covenant forever.” And “He will ever be mindful of His covenant” – always He will be at our side by the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to the “salvation which stands ready to be revealed in the last days.” Endure now the sadness and distress of the death of this life, and find therein the fulfilling of your hope for the treasures of heaven.
O LORD, you make possible
even the salvation of our souls;
let us give up all things to follow you to everlasting life.
YHWH, we praise you, for with you all things are possible, even the salvation of our souls and our coming into your eternal presence. And so, whatever we suffer here brings us only joy, for all things bring us to your kingdom.
O LORD, may we be truly consecrated to you, thoroughly confirmed in your covenant with us, that the new birth you grant through the resurrection of your Son might be fulfilled and we come to dwell with you forever in Heaven. Let nothing of this passing earth stand in our way; let nothing obstruct our worship of you, that we may be truly happy and rejoice all our days in you.
Help us, dear God, to give up all our possessions, to desire to hold to nothing but you. Take all that is not of you from our souls and bodies – let our hearts be set on your surpassing glory.
What trial can sadden us, LORD, if our love is for you? You redeem us from all evil and give new life to our mortal frame. For such grace let us ever praise you.
Sat, 21 May 2016
O saint of the impossible
whose union with Christ
in His Passion and His glory
serves to grant favors
to those in great need,
you whose great thirst
to be one with our Bridegroom
brought the help of the saints yourself –
pray we poor souls
shall fulfill our vocation,
that through the din of this world
we shall hear and answer
the call of the Lord
and give ourselves in His service
in the manner He desires.
Pray our hearts be so set
on union with Him
that no obstacle shall stand in our way,
that all help we need
to find our path to Him
will be provided through your prayers.
How shall we come to dwell in Heaven?
Invoke God’s blessing upon us.
Sat, 21 May 2016
(Prv.8:22-31; Ps.8:2,4-9; Rm.5:1-5; Jn.16:12-15)
“Everything that the Father has is mine.”
From the beginning Jesus is with the Father, one with the Father, the pure reflection of His being which cannot be separated from the substance of the Father. Through Him all things were made, and indeed He is reflected in all things. And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes from what is the Father’s and Son’s, that anything that comes to be comes to be.
And man is the crown of the creation of this Most Holy Triumvirate. It is He who is the purest reflection of the love of Father and Son brought to birth by the Holy Spirit. It is he in whom the wisdom of God takes great delight. And all the wonders of earth and heaven are put in our hands: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”
But a greater gift than this earth has the Lord in store for us: it is a oneness with the one God which we could not have imagined, and still strive forward to see. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”; and that same Spirit, left to us by the Father and the Son, remains ever with us to bless and guide us to that magnificent vision of glory we hope one day to be able to bear in its fullness. The Spirit declares unto us the beauty that will be, and calls us to prepare ourselves to receive it.
And our afflictions do not deter us from attaining the promise of all truth; they do but strengthen us in our resolve as we conquer them day by day in the Spirit. “We have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand,” and our suffering shall not shake us – even Jesus’ own leaving us does not hinder our journey to God, for we indeed have faith that His Spirit is with us and that His Spirit has all that is of Jesus, who has all that is of the Father… and so we have all things through Him.
The first glory in which we were set is a marvel to behold, for His fingerprints are on all we see. But the second glory to which we are now called is simply beyond words, ineffable as is our God. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may your Spirit find delight in us
and we reflect your glory.
YHWH, your love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and we have peace with you by your only Son. To what glory we are called, we in whom you take delight, we who are your own – the blessed creature upon whom your favor rests. Your Wisdom is with us to guide us to all truth, to guide us even to you, and to all the graces you would pour upon us.
All things of this earth you have placed under our feet, and we realize this honor through Christ your Son. In Him we are crowned with great glory, for in Him you are well pleased, O LORD. And so, in Him let us place all our hope.
From the beginning you had us in mind, dear God; in your heart you held us well. Though we did not exist from the beginning with you, Jesus did, and by your Spirit you would make us one with Him who is one with you. And so we boast of the glory that is ours by faith.
Fri, 20 May 2016
O sacrificial sheep,
priests of the Lord
who offered your lives
even as you offered Mass,
in union with Christ and His Church
for the sake of your homeland:
you prayed for its peace
even as violence was done to you;
you celebrated the Mass
and baptized your flock
even when it became a crime,
even when it cost your lives –
such union with Christ
pray all souls,
and especially our priests,
shall know to the depths of their heart;
let none be afraid
to shed their blood
as one with His redemptive sacrifice.
The Cross pray we follow where it leads,
despite the world’s persecution.
Fri, 20 May 2016
(Jas.5:13-20; Ps.141:1-3,8; Mk.10:13-16)
“Let my prayer come like incense before you;
the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice.”
“The fervent petition of a holy man is powerful indeed.” For indeed Elijah “prayed earnestly” and “no rain fell on the land for three years and six months.” Then “when he prayed again, the sky burst forth with rain.” And now greater things are accomplished by prayer, especially of “the elders of the Church,” our priests, who, in union with Jesus the Lord, “reclaim the one who is ill” and bring “forgiveness” to the sinful soul. Redemption itself is at our hands through the Anointing of the Sick and Confession, and all the other blessed sacraments. And prayer by all souls is a constant guard and reclaimer of lives gone astray.
And in our gospel it is made clear what our disposition should be when we pray, when we come to Jesus. The Lord encourages the little children to come to Him and states unequivocally: “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a little child shall not enter into it.” We must always come to Him as children – with faith, in innocence, of truth – if we hope to gain a hearing in His sight, brothers and sisters. If when we call upon Him we do not have the pure faith of a child, how can we expect to communicate with Him who dwells in absolute light? If our prayer and our song fall short of the love and joy of innocent praise, then we fall short of reaching Him. But if in such innocence and with such faith and of such truth we come to Him, know that He will treat us just as the children who come to Him today: “He embraced them and blessed them, placing His hands on them.” Yes, then His holy hand will be upon our lives, and His great power we will find at work within us and through us.
“Toward you, O Lord, my eyes are turned.”
Please “hearken to my voice when I call upon you.”
“In you I take refuge; strip me not of life,”
but make me as your child of light.
Our prayer comes like incense before the Lord when it is united with the sacrifice of the Son. Anointed by the Lamb’s blood, all our cries rise unto the Father of Life.
O LORD, as a child let us come to you,
in trusting prayer,
and you will hear and answer us.
YHWH, how powerful prayer is! For it unites us to you and to your great power; it makes us as your children. Let our prayer be sincere, that we might find your gentle embrace.
There is nothing we need fear, dear LORD, if we but turn to you. If we ask, you will give, and cure us indeed of every ill. And so, let us pray for one another in your NAME, desire the salvation of all souls by your grace, and the blessing of your Son’s Cross will reign here on earth and bring us soon to Heaven. Let your will be done and your kingdom come.
Let us pray especially for your priests and the special power you give them to forgive men’s sins and make your presence known among us. In your sacraments we take our refuge, LORD; let them always be celebrated in accord with your Word.
Let our prayer come like incense before you, O LORD; may it be acceptable in your sight. Let it always come from an innocent heart.
Thu, 19 May 2016
O apostle of the holy name of Jesus
who proclaimed God’s loving mercy
to those in darkness
that the light of faith
might save souls
and make them children
of the light of Christ,
radiating His splendor,
the splendor of truth,
to the ends of the earth –
where is such zeal today,
with the preaching of Paul;
and so, how shall souls be saved,
how shall false beliefs flee,
infidelity be consumed
and the truth appear as a great candle
lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame,
if you do not intercede?
Pray that we may not lack
knowledge of and devotion to Jesus,
that His name shall not be suppressed
but preached without cease to waiting hearts.
Thu, 19 May 2016
(Jas.5:9-12; Ps.103:1-4,8-9,11-12; Mk.10:1-12)
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”
And we must be like Him.
James makes clear that we must “not grumble against one another,” nor swear on earth, any oath at all,” but rather simply speak “in the name of the Lord”: “Let it be ‘yes’ if you mean yes or ‘no’ if you mean no. In this way you will not incur condemnation.” And as a sign of the endurance we must have to find the Lord’s blessing, he reminds us of “the steadfastness of Job” and “what the Lord, who is compassionate and merciful, did in the end.”
“As your models in suffering hardships and in patience, brothers, take the prophets.” And, of course, Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets, and His suffering in silent servitude the sentence of crucifixion is the fulfillment of their endurance of persecution. And in our gospel today, does He not give example of the patience we all must hold and the clarity with which we all must speak? For when the Pharisees “ask Jesus whether it was permissible for a husband to divorce his wife,” how do they intend their question but “as a test”? But the Lord does not take offense at their temptation; He simply answers them, clearly and to the point: “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female; for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become as one.” And lest there be any doubt that He is saying no to divorce, He continues, “They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.” And even when “the disciples beg[i]n to question Him about this” again later, He remains patient and gives direct answer: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”
The question would seem a simple one and the answer easy to understand, but is it not this question that is at the heart of man’s disobedience, of his grumbling against God? Is it not this answer man seeks most to change, thus leading to his greatest sins, and really to the destruction of society? Yet the Lord’s love is greater than our profligacy, and as the father so readily forgave the prodigal son, so He waits for us to turn to Him – to His presence, to His truth. As David sings of God: “He redeems your life from destruction, He crowns you with kindness and compassion”; and so He longs to “put our transgressions from us” “as far as the east is from the west.” Indeed Jesus “pardons all [our] iniquities, He heals all our ills” – for this has the Savior come. And if we but bless Him for “all His benefits” and share in His love in our relationships with others, we shall find the merciful Lord enabling our endurance of all on this earth and making firm our place with Him in heaven.
O LORD, man and woman are one
and are brought together in your will;
in our covenants let us reflect your mercy
YHWH, give us your patience in enduring all things. You are kind and merciful; let us be like you. Help us to practice your compassion in our marriages and in all our relationships – let us be ready as you to forgive. Yes, let all our sins be put far from us.
If we endure with you, O LORD, shall we not be blessed? If with you we practice patience and kindness when put to the test, will we not share in your reward? Let us be so joined to you, LORD, that we may indeed be called your Body in this world.
O my LORD, let us never be divorced from love of one another or love of you. Let our covenants be sure as your own; for you have promised to be with us even till the end of the age, and so, should we abandon one another? Would this not be an abandonment of you?
Let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, O LORD, and let us therefore live forever in your eternal Word, in the truth and love only you hold.
Wed, 18 May 2016
(Jas.5:1-6; Ps.49:14-20,Mt.5:3; Mk.9:41-50)
“You lived in wanton luxury on the earth;
you fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.”
“You rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries,” James warns all those who trust in their wealth. For though they were “contented with their lot,” to find which they “condemned, even killed, the just man,” yet “like sheep they are herded into the netherworld,” where “quickly their form is consumed.” “Your wealth has rotted, your fine wardrobe has grown moth-eaten, your silver and gold have corroded” – all these things in which the fool has trusted will not only die of themselves but also “devour [his] flesh like a fire,” for so greatly has he placed his heart upon them that with their destruction he is also destroyed.
“See what you have stored up for yourselves against the last days.” The rich man fattens himself for “Gehenna, where ‘the worm dies not and the fire is never extinguished.’” Thus does Jesus call us to repentance in such severe terms, for lacking of it indeed how “quickly [our] form is consumed.” It is not the body which matters, or this earth; heaven is all that matters, and so our souls. Therefore, it is indeed better to cut off hand or foot or tear out one’s eye than to “enter Gehenna with its unquenchable fire.” For what are these things, what are all the riches of the world, in comparison with the kingdom of God and its eternal riches? Do not, therefore, be led astray by your earthly passions; store up treasures for heaven.
“The shouts of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” “The wages you withheld from the farmhands who harvested your fields” are known to God. And as “it would be better if anyone who leads astray one of these simple believers were to be plunged in the sea with a great millstone fastened around his neck,” so much better would be your fate than to suffer eternally the fires of hell. For what shall your unjust wealth benefit you there? From whom shall you steal among your fellow prisoners in chains?
“The netherworld is their palace,” those who grow rich on the backs of the poor and oppressed of this world. For ultimately “death is their shepherd, and the upright rule over them.” They “shall never more see light”; but peace shall reign in the hearts of all God’s children.
O LORD, let us not be plunged in the sea
or herded into the nether world,
but let us set our hearts and minds on you
and so find life everlasting.
YHWH, let us be poor, poor in spirit, poor to this world and its deadly passions. Let us put no hope in the riches that rot, or we shall rot with them. Let us seek, rather, the riches of your kingdom by giving our poor cup of water for the upbuilding of your Church.
Take from us, LORD, all that keeps us from you. Let us not steal or walk in the paths of the unrighteous or look with lust upon anything or anyone. Take hand or foot or eye from us instead; keep us from all sin. Let our salt not rot, our lives not be worthless, but let us bear fruit in your NAME.
LORD, our God, take especially from us our foolish pride, our belief that we can do anything of ourselves. O let us not trust in ourselves or in the things of this world but only in you and help rather than hurt the just man you bless in your holy will. Let all souls be led to your kingdom.
Tue, 17 May 2016
O faithful Shepherd
who laid down your life
for the sake of true teaching,
who was killed by one
set against God’s Word…
though deprived of food
and so of this life,
you were given instead
the life of Heaven
and serve as a holy example
of what should be sacrificed
for love of truth and right –
pray that the flock
shepherded this day by the apostles
will be led by the same loyalty,
led by genuine pastors
whose love for the sheep
would lead them to lay down their lives
that the Church might be blessed
by a radiant faith
which shines the light of Christ
even to the ends
of this dying earth.
Tue, 17 May 2016
(Jas. 4:13-17; Ps.49:2-3,6-11,Mt.5:3; Mk.9:38-40)
“Anyone who is not against us is with us.”
And whoever is not with the Lord is against Him. There are only two ways by which a man may walk. We choose to place our lives in the hands of God, or we worship the things of this earth.
Indeed, anyone who “perform[s] a miracle in [His] name” is with Him, for a tree is known by its fruit. If indeed we commend our lives into the care of the Lord, saying, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that,” then we shall find His blessing at work within us, and we shall be His children, doing His will. And demons shall be expelled at our words. And we shall never “fear in evil days when [our] wicked ensnarers ring [us] round.”
But if instead we “make arrogant and pretentious claims,” boasting reprehensibly of the profits this earth shall bring us by the power of our own hands, we are in utter danger of the destruction we think can never touch us. For “in no way can a man redeem himself, or pay his own ransom to God.” If we “have no idea what kind of life will be [ours] tomorrow” – and who knows the turns this earth does take? – what can we do at all by our own wills? We are, in fact, utterly dependent upon God for each breath we draw, and He may withdraw such life from us at any moment.
What fool is there among you who “trust[s] in [his] wealth”? Who are they for whom “the abundance of their riches is their boast”? Have you no eyes in your head? Is there no sense in your mind? “Hearken, all who dwell in the world, of lowly birth or high degree, rich and poor alike,” and from all lands and of all times – it is in Jesus alone that you find strength to draw your next breath; it is He alone who brings light to your eyes. Your riches will rot. Even prophecies will cease. There will not be a stone here left upon another. Consecrate yourself now to the Lord of all and begin to find His grace at work within you. And each day renew the power of God at work in you for that day. In His name do all things, and you shall be with Him, and He shall not leave you.
O LORD, let us be for you,
living perfectly in your will.
YHWH, let us be with you; let us give our lives to you, doing your work in accord with your will and not following the vain path our own desires mark out for us. Let us be your own; let us be your own, your disciples in this world.
How can we do anything if you do not bless it, LORD? Where shall we end if apart from you? For we indeed are as vapor that quickly vanishes, and empty are all our plans. But with you and in your NAME, miracles we can perform. Great works we may accomplish if in humility we follow your way; for you are great and all powerful, and we become as you are when we walk with you.
O LORD, we do not know what tomorrow may bring. Even this day is a mystery to us. Let us but place this day into your hands, and tomorrow will care for itself in your will. Let us not die seeking the vain riches of this earth but come to life by your saving grace.
Mon, 16 May 2016
(Jas.4:1-10; Ps.55:7-11,23; Mk.9:30-37)
“In the city I see violence and strife;
day and night they prowl about upon its walls.”
The violence this world holds is known most poignantly, of course, in “the Son of Man… [being] delivered into the hands of men who… put Him to death,” but exists most pervasively and fundamentally in our own bodies, insofar as they are conformed to the spirit of the world. For as James asks so pointedly, “Where do the conflicts and disputes among you originate? Is it not your inner cravings that make war within your members?” It is indeed the evil desire in our bones, the “envy,” the “love of the world [that] is enmity to God” which causes us to “quarrel and fight,” which is the source of all sin, and so death, and so war.
That “the spirit He has implanted in us tends toward jealousy” is evident even in the apostles, whom we find in today’s gospel “arguing about who was the most important.” Even these, who have yet to receive the “greater gift” – the Holy Spirit of God who serves to cleanse His children of the evil in them – even these are divided by the cravings that make war in our members. Even these contribute to the crucifixion of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, if you would “find shelter from the violent storm and the tempest” at work in you and about you, you must “cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you.” “Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight.” “Purify your hearts” of all that is not in conformity with the Spirit of God and you will find safe haven from the violence of this world and the violence of your own hearts. For “never will He permit the just man to be disturbed.”
And both James and the Lord teach what it is to be just, what it is to excel before God. If you desire the goodness of the Lord, rend your hearts; “be humbled in the sight of God and He will raise you on high.” You cannot raise yourself, for you are but dust; and dust you must be if you desire holiness in the presence of the Most High: “If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all,” as is Jesus, the suffering Son crucified for the sins of each of us.
Brothers and sisters, let our hearts be so docile as to welcome His children openly – as His humble children we ourselves must be. For then we shall welcome Him; for then we shall be sons of the Father, free from sin and so no longer subject to the violence known in the city that is this world of sin. May our own members and all the members of the Church be cleansed of all strife by the power of the Holy Spirit.
O LORD, help us to be humble before you,
that you might raise us up from our sin.
YHWH, should we not be as children before you? Is your Son not like a Child, O LORD? Is He not the humblest of all? O let us be like Him, and you!
Is there some other image in which we should be made, LORD, than your own? What of this world should beguile our soul? To whom should we aspire but our heavenly Father, and how shall we find you except through your Son? Does He not show us the way by His death on the Cross?
O LORD, let us not be deaf to your speaking to us in His words and actions, for He reveals to us who we must be. Help us to leave the example of the world behind, to abandon all hatred and jealousy, all the sinful pride and insatiable greed wrought into our fallen nature, and come to you even this day that we might be redeemed by your Son’s sacrifice and our sharing therein.
O help us to be humble, LORD, to find the humility only you know. With all our hearts let us serve you, and your glory will be ours.
Sun, 15 May 2016
(Jas.3:13-18; Ps.19:8-10,15; Mk.9:14-29)
“The command of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eye.”
What is the wisdom of which James speaks in our first reading but this enlightening of the eye and the mind by following the command of the Lord? It is the words and the wisdom of Jesus, reflected clearly in the Lord’s own life, James relates to the waiting ear this day. What does he instruct but to practice “a humility filled with good sense” and to “cultivate peace,” not to “nurse bitter jealousy in [our] hearts” but to “refrain from arrogant and false claims against the truth”? We must be as “innocent” as the Lamb of God, and as forgiving. Then we will realize that “the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple,” for “wisdom from above” will then fill us, and lead us by its sacred light.
How clear the command of the Lord is in our gospel, and how powerfully it enlightens the eye. As He comes down from the mountain where He has been transfigured before His principal apostles, “a large crowd… on catching sight of Jesus” is immediately “overcome with awe. They [run] up to greet Him.” Being presented with the boy possessed by a spirit that often “throws him into the fire and into water,” Jesus “reprimanded the unclean spirit by saying to him, ‘Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: Get out of him and never enter him again!’” And the boy is healed; he is freed from bondage to the devil, and now in his right mind, he can see.
Though perhaps not always so dramatic, every command of the Lord casts out just such darkness which pervades our souls. Coming in faith before Him as the father who trusts in God and in His Son, the same healing do we know. Following His words, our eyes and ears are opened, too, and we discover that indeed “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” So, brothers and sisters, let us pray with David today: “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” that we might remain ever in His enduring purity and light.
O LORD, if we but lived lives of prayer in all humility,
never could we be separated from you
and always you would work through us.
YHWH, how shall our words and thoughts match those of your Son, who commands and the devils flee, whose heart is set always on your will… who sacrifices His life for our sakes? Help our unbelief, our lack of trust in you and in your power, that we might by your grace come to share in that power with Jesus, even as we share in His humility.
How can we live in your perfect innocence, LORD, we who are such a faithless lot, we who lack prayer in our heart? O how easily we are overcome! But you are our hope. You come down from the mountain, from the glory on high, to dwell with the likes of us and save us from the devil’s grasp, which has such a dire hold upon us and upon our children. Only by the grace of your presence will this generation be saved – leave us not till your work is accomplished.
Teach us, O LORD; give us your wisdom, that your peace might be ever in our souls and we might serve you with all our thoughts and words. Save us, dear God, from all darkness.
Sat, 14 May 2016
O farmer of God’s green earth
who cultivated the faith
even as you cultivated the ground,
whose simple and humble life
should serve as inspiration
to all toiling on this plane –
pray that we shall follow your example,
sharing our food with the hungry
as we work for the salvation of souls.
Pray that all the work we do
will bear fruit in God’s kingdom,
that with you and your wife
we may be found worthy
of those blessed words
come from our Savior’s mouth:
“Well done, good and faithful servant.
Enter into your Master’s joy.”
Pray according to your own blessing
from the Lord
that this earth He has given us
to care for
may be saved from the greedy hands of corrupted man
and serve as source of nourishment for all.
Sat, 14 May 2016
(Acts 2:1-11; Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34; Rom.8:8-17; Jn.14:15-16,23b-26)
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
The Spirit of God is with those who keep His commandments; and His Commandment is to love. In such love all become sons of God, all are made one in His Name. (Spirit of Love, anoint us.)
In our first reading the oneness of God’s children is emphasized: “They were all in one place together” and “they gathered in a large crowd.” The first quote refers to the disciples of Christ waiting for His Holy Spirit, the second to “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” who would be made one with the disciples by the power of the Spirit. We note particularly the word “devout”: because they were keepers of the Word of God, the Spirit descends upon them.
Our psalm exalts the renewing power of the Spirit of God; all creatures in the palm of God are given life, and new life, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Alleluia! We rejoice in His grace. In our second reading, Paul contrasts the life-giving Spirit with the death-bringing flesh, speaking, much as Jesus in our gospel, of the Spirit who dwells in those of God. “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him,” but belongs to sin and the world. He does not keep the Word of Jesus and so dies in the flesh; his flesh lacking the Spirit that gives life, he becomes as an empty shell. The love of God is not in him.
But for those who keep the Word of God, their hearts cry out in joy to the Father of all as they are made one with Him and one another, and led to the truth of everlasting life in His Spirit. May the Spirit of Jesus be with us.
Further note: expounding on the theme of keeping the Lord’s Word, we see in the fact that people of all languages hear this one language of the Spirit that the Word is not beholden to any tongue; it is the tongues of flame, the tongue of the Spirit which speaks the Word of God, we all must keep.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Is No End to Life" (end) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit,
renewed for the proclamation of your love.
YHWH, comes the driving wind from Heaven, the Spirit Jesus breathes upon His apostles, and so we are made your sons, dear Father, and declare your glory unto all. May your Church with one voice offer you due praise and teach the nations of your eternal call.
We must leave our sins behind and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, living as one with the Son of God. If we keep His commandments, we shall dwell with you forever, O Father God. For He is with you and through Him you send the Spirit; all who desire to be your children you bless with purging fire this holy day.
Now the promised gift of the Spirit falls upon our immortal souls and we are refreshed and made new creatures, formed in the image of Jesus, your Son. One you make us in Spirit and Body, free from all the works of the flesh. Your Son stands in our midst and offers us His peace; the Advocate now testifies to all Truth… Come and make your dwelling in us, O glorious LORD and God.
Fri, 13 May 2016
O chosen apostle,
destined to serve the Church
as witness to the resurrection
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
you who walked with Him
from the beginning
even until He was taken
from our sight
yet were not appointed by the Spirit
as one of the Twelve
until a place was made desolate
by the traitorous one –
pray that the call upon the soul
of all God’s children
will be fulfilled
according to His will
and we all shall come to be
witnesses to Jesus
and His eternal glory
wrought in our midst
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let none shy away from the Lord
but assume their rightful place in His presence.
Fri, 13 May 2016
(Acts 1:15-17,20-26; Ps.113:1-8; Jn.15:9-17)
“It was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.”
Since “the saying in Scripture uttered long ago by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David was destined to be fulfilled in Judas” and he “went the way he was destined to go,” now the word of the Lord must be accomplished: “May another take his office.” And though “Peter stood up in the center of the brothers” and declared the need expressed in Scripture, and though the one hundred and twenty brothers gathered together “nominated two,” the prayer of the disciples, as well as their actions, makes clear by whom Matthias is chosen: “O Lord, you read the hearts of men. Make known to us which of these two you choose for this apostolic ministry.” As Judas is destined for perdition, so Matthias is chosen by the Lord to take his place, for all is indeed in the hands of God.
And what loving hands these are, brothers and sisters; and what loving hands all His disciples are called to employ. The words of the Lord in today’s gospel breathe the very love of God upon His apostles. “Love one another as I have loved you” is His command to them. “Live on in my love.” Our “fruit must endure,” and it can only endure, we can only bear fruit, sharing in the love of Father and Son. For then the Holy Spirit is upon us, who brings all to life. And the way in which we share in divine love the Lord makes clear as well: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And it is this laying down of his life to which Matthias is called today; and it is the same service in His name that makes us all friends of Jesus.
“From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised,” for indeed “high above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory.” His ways are certainly far above our own, and it is His ways to which we must come, obediently following His command, His command to love. Today He reaches down and “raises the lowly from the dust… to seat [Matthias] with princes, with the princes of His people.” Today His choice is made of who will follow the Son. None but He knows the ones He chooses, the way we must walk, for none is “like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below”; and our joy is made complete only in going forth as He leads, for, simply put, none can compare with His love.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, you choose those whom you send forth –
let us live in your love.
YHWH, help us to love one another as your Son has loved us that we shall live ever in His love and bear fruit in His Name. May we take our place with Him and all His apostles in your kingdom this day.
O LORD, as you chose Matthias to take the place of Judas, to sit with your princes, so let us know that we, too, are chosen by you to do your will in this world as the friends of Jesus. We take no honor unto ourselves but all honor you bestow upon those you call to your side. The greatest honor you would give to all – to be formed in the image of your Son.
Let us be faithful to that call, O LORD; let us give you due honor, you who are enthroned on high, far above heaven and earth. We are but dust, dear God, but you sit above all Creation, and this dust you would raise up to dwell in your eternal presence. In all your children let your will be done. Let us give witness to your Son’s resurrection and so join Him at your side.
Thu, 12 May 2016
O marvelous Wonder,
O Lady who shines
like the sun,
who brings the Light
into our midst
and calls us to repentance
that we might be saved,
that the whole world
might turn to the Lord
and be preserved
you come at the end of the age
to lead us back to your Son
before He comes again
and finally –
pray we shall hear and heed
your warning to our souls
and, with the faith of the children
whose eyes beheld you,
in union with the Cross of Jesus
for the salvation of all
and the renewal of the Church and the world.
Thu, 12 May 2016
(Acts 25:13-21; Ps.103:1-2,11-12,19-20; Jn.21:15-19)
“When you are older you will stretch out your hands,
and another will tie you fast and carry you off against your will.”
And so the Lord “indicate[s] the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God.” And by his laying down of his life, this leader of the apostles shall indeed feed the Lord’s sheep.
After “they had eaten their meal,” when there was nothing to distract them – as the apostles gazed at the wonder of the risen Christ before their eyes – the Lord quietly speaks to Peter in the hearing of all. Three times Jesus inquires of His blessed Rock, calling him by his earthly name to assume the name heaven has assigned him. Three times the risen Lord asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” and three times Peter must publicly declare his love for God above all things, three times negating his previous denials. It is a simple scene, but beautiful, and remarkably weighty. Not only does Jesus place the care of the Church into this poor apostle’s hands, but He speaks clearly of the sacrifice His Rock must make, teaching him what love of God and care for His people entail… nothing less than death.
And of Paul’s death for the Lord we continue to read. Though the Apostle does not himself appear in our first reading, he is spoken of clearly. Two things we learn of him: first, he is a “prisoner” “kept in custody”; second, the reason for his arrest – he differed with the Jewish leaders “about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed is alive.” In his imprisonment is Paul’s death and in his profession of the risen Lord he shows his love for God and the people. Here he clearly follows in the steps of Jesus, fulfilling his call from the Lord.
And, brothers and sisters, the call to death, the call to love of the Lord and care for all His children, is all our own. What the Lord speaks to Peter He speaks indeed to all the apostles seated there on the shore in Galilee; and He speaks the same in our hearing today, calling all who would follow Him in the same way. And follow Him we must. It is only by this same sort of death that any of us will come to life; it is only sharing in His cross that we will find the resurrection. We cannot see the risen Lord, nor rise ourselves, if we are not willing to die for Him and with Him.
But do not fear: “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” Neither Festus nor Felix nor King Agrippa nor the Jewish elders can judge Paul, for he is only in God’s hands. And so, though we be dragged to certain crucifixion, the world holds no sway over our souls – the life the Spirit provides and the strength He instills cannot be destroyed. Let us stretch out our hands freely to embrace our blessed Lord and “all His benefits” receive through our sharing in His sacrifice of love.
O LORD, may we declare our love for you
by laying down our lives for you who are above all.
YHWH, you rule over all from your throne in Heaven, and so, though brought before the rulers of this world, what need we fear? Though to death you call us all, we have your blessing to protect us and your Church to feed us along the way. With your Son’s Body and Blood you feed us, and so, again, what need we fear?
It is a blessing to witness to your Name and your Son’s resurrection before the powers that be in this world, for then by your grace we serve to bring your kingdom forth to take its place amongst all. Thank you, O LORD, for this gift you give us, to share in the work of your Christ.
And thank you, LORD, for your call to Peter and His obedience in laying down His life, His following in the path upon which Jesus leads us, that we might know the way we should travel and have the Church’s protection, the food you give us at the hands of the apostles all through our earthly life.
Wed, 11 May 2016
O child of courage,
though but a boy
you gave your life
as the strongest of men,
proving thus your love for Christ,
a love that steels souls
even in the face of death,
even in the youthful breast –
if but a young child like yourself
could die so freely for the faith
and show the face of Jesus
to the whole world,
how much more should we,
so graced by the Lord
with years of devotion,
be ready to give
for the name of God?
Pray your innocence
may renew our hearts
and your strength
fortify our commitment
to give our lives for Christ
and His Church.
Wed, 11 May 2016
O brave soldiers,
the world could not take
Christ from your hearts;
though it tried to expunge Him
from the army in which you served,
your allegiance to the holy One of Israel,
our Lord and God,
and so death you preferred
to life without Jesus –
pray for us who are so weak in faith,
that our stale complacency
might be invigorated
by the blood of our Savior,
the blood you yourselves shed
as you filled up what was lacking
in the sufferings of Christ.
Pray we shall not turn
from the sacrifice to which the Lord calls us
but embrace with joy the cross we must bear,
and which bears us unto Heaven.
Wed, 11 May 2016
(Acts 22:30,23:6-11; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; Jn.17:20-26)
“I set the Lord ever before me;
with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
Yes, “the Lord appeared at Paul’s side” at night, in prison, after his testimony and the near riot it caused in Jerusalem. He comes to encourage him, to strengthen him for further trials; and through all Paul shall remain strong.
“Keep me, O God, for in you, I take refuge,” David prays, and sings of the confidence his heart and soul find in the Lord, his “allotted portion and cup… who hold[s] fast [his] lot.” He knows deep in his spirit that the Lord “will not abandon [his] soul to the netherworld, nor will [He] suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption.” And certainly, the same faith Paul exhibits; the same trust in the Lord, Paul holds in his own spirit. He, too, is not disturbed, though he finds himself “on trial now because of [his] hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
And whence comes such confidence? How can a man so attacked, a man so beaten and cursed, be so without fear? Does not Jesus answer this question in His prayer to the Father, which we are all blessed to hear? Here He prays that we be one in Him even as He is one with the Father. Here He asks that our “unity may be complete.” And if our unity is complete with the Father and with the Son, as well as with one another, what, brothers and sisters, have we to fear? If the love of God which the Father “bore [the Son] before the world began” is in our hearts now, what can disturb them? “That your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them” is Jesus’ prayer to the Father for us all – and do you think the Father does not listen, does not answer His Son? He would have us in His company where He is, gazing upon His glory – and this is where Paul dwells. And so he cannot be moved.
“You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” The Spirit brings us now that of which David sings, that which Paul knows, that all might know the glory of God, that all might be one in Him, and so, safe from all harm. As Jesus is resurrected from the dead, so shall we all be. What have we to fear? We must but set Him before us always.
O Lord, let your love live in us
that we might make your Name known
with faith and courage.
YHWH, in you we take our refuge, and so we pray that you keep us ever close by – with you at our right hand we shall not be disturbed. Please answer your Son’s prayer that we be in His company where He is, with you in eternal glory. You will not abandon our souls to the nether world, and so, encourage us as you have Paul, with your presence at our side. In your Spirit may we find confidence to bear witness before all.
Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and with Himself He would bring us to your glorious presence. What need we fear with His power upon us? Why should we be afraid when His Spirit is with us, showering on us your love? In you we should but rejoice for the eternal protection you give us in your holy NAME. To life we shall come even this day, O LORD, for we have believed in your Son and so share in the glory of His resurrection.
Tue, 10 May 2016
(Acts 20:28-38; Ps.68:29-30,33-36; Jn.17:11-19)
“O Father most holy,
protect them with the name you have given me.”
In our gospel today Jesus prays to the Father, “who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens,” to “guard [His disciples] from the evil one.” And the parallels continue between His and Paul’s parting words, as the Apostle warns his own disciples, “When I am gone, savage wolves will come among you who will not spare the flock,” and therefore exhorts them to “be on guard.”
It is the Lord’s earnest desire of the Father that we His disciples “be consecrated in truth.” If truth be with us, if the Holy Spirit He promises to send be ours, the “careful watch” Jesus has kept “as long as [He] was with [us]” will continue. In fact, Paul’s instruction to the elders of Ephesus to “shepherd the Church of God, which He has acquired at the price of His own blood” – blood the Lord is about to shed in our gospel – will be realized, and His apostles will become themselves those who care for the safety of the people of God. “I consecrate myself for their sakes now,” Jesus says, offering Himself, His blood, as sacrifice for the Church; and Paul commends his disciples to this same Lord, “to that gracious word of His which can enlarge [them], and give [them] a share among all who are consecrated to Him.” In His name all are saved.
“Awesome in His sanctuary is God, the God of Israel; He gives power and strength to His people.” David sings mightily of the majesty of God, whose “voice resounds, the voice of power,” and calling all to “confess the power of God!” indicates how we share in that great power. In declaring of the Father, with Jesus and with Scripture, “Your word is truth,” that truth in essence becomes our own; we are thereby consecrated to it. And so Paul can exhort those he has placed in positions of power: “Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has given you to guard,” for he knows as long as (like Paul) they do not “set [their] hearts on anyone’s silver or gold,” as long as they work tirelessly to “help the weak,” to serve the Church, they shall indeed be sharing in the power and authority of God.
Brothers and sisters, we “do not belong to the world” but to God and to His truth. His Spirit is with us to guide us and protect us here on our journey through death to life. As we humble ourselves in prayer before Him, He hears and answers all our needs. Remain in Him this day.
O LORD, shepherd your flock in the truth;
keep all falsehood from us.
YHWH, let us be consecrated in your Word, in your Word of truth, that we might share in your might and power, that we might be protected by your Name. As your Son sends His apostles forth, so these apostles send others forth, all sharing in the power that comes from you by the Spirit upon your Church. May we all be one with your Son as He is one with you, and so may we all do your will despite the persecutions of this world.
We do not belong to the world, O LORD, but to the One who has left this world to come to you in your kingdom. Help us to follow where He leads by your power from on high. Your Spirit fall upon us this day to give us strength to accomplish the work you set before us. From your sanctuary come to us and with us here remain, that we shall never turn from you along this narrow way. From generation to generation let your Word go forth till all your children are consecrated in your truth.
Mon, 9 May 2016
(Acts 20:17-27; Ps.68:10-11,20-21,33; Jn.17:1-11)
“Father, the hour has come!
Give glory to your Son that your Son may give glory to you.”
A day of departures. A day of final words and commendations. Paul bids farewell to the leaders of Ephesus, declaring his faithfulness to them; and Jesus prays to the Father in the hearing of the disciples, calling the Lord’s blessing upon them.
“The Holy Spirit has been warning me from city to city that chains and hardships await me,” Paul confesses as he makes his way to Jerusalem; Jesus now has the cross directly before His eyes, having supped for the last time with His disciples. “Never did I shrink from telling you what was for your own good, or from teaching you in public or in private,” Paul reminds his disciples; while Jesus states to His Father: “I have made your name known to those you gave me out of the world.” “I have never shrunk from announcing to you God’s design in its entirety,” Paul declares; “I have given you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do,” Jesus says to the Father. And as Paul hopes, “If only I can finish my race and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus, bearing witness to the Gospel of God’s grace” – not caring for his own life or any suffering ahead – Jesus’ only concern as He moves toward His own death and His return to the “glory [He] had with [the Father] before the world began” is that the Father will bless His disciples, for, as He says, “It is in them that I have been glorified.” These who remain in the world, as has Paul, are those who bring His glory forth, even as Jesus has revealed the glory of the Father.
The hour of death has come but “God, who is our salvation… controls the passageways of death” because He “bears our burdens.” The Lord Jesus Christ has borne, and will bear, all the temptations the devil can mount – the greatest of these illusions being death – and has conquered them all. And now His disciples follow in His footsteps, like Paul, who has “served the Lord in humility through the sorrows and trials that came [his] way.” By this sacrifice the Lord “restored the land when it languished,” and now all are called to “repentance before God and… faith in our Lord Jesus” to know that redemption. This life that comes from His death is the glory of the Lord that goes now forth.