Tue, 19 September 2017
O blessed, holy martyrs
who won for yourselves
the crown of salvation
by your undying faith in God,
who cherished well
the prize of persecution
the Lord offered your souls,
who stood fast despite the death
that raged around you –
pray we shall know as you
that all the hairs of our head
are numbered by God
and in His all-embracing providence
He has care over us all,
that we might stand as strong
in our little trials
as you did before the face
of the executioner.
To all people be a witness to the faith
that reaches ever unto Heaven.
Direct download: Sept._20_Andrew_Kim_Paul_Hasang_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Tue, 19 September 2017
(1Tm.3:14-16; Ps.111:1-6; Lk.7:31-35)
“God’s wisdom is vindicated by all who accept it.”
“The Church of the living God” is the “pillar and bulwark of truth,” as Paul tells us. And it is those who live the faith, “professing it” with all their beings, who prove its truth. “Wonderful, indeed, is the mystery of our faith”; no greater grace or wisdom could we hope to attain.
“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up into glory…” “Great are the works of the Lord, exquisite in all their delights…” How our first reading and psalm sing of the glory of our God! And how blessed are we to know “the power of His works,” to be recipients of His gift of “majesty and glory,” to be the children of so great a God. We should indeed praise Him unceasingly for being “mindful of His covenant” with us, for shedding His blood for our salvation, for drawing us into the Father’s presence. “He has given food to those who fear Him,” and we partake of His glorious meal each day in the Holy Eucharist.
Forget not the blessings the Lord imparts to us, brothers and sisters. “Know what kind of conduct befits a member of God’s household.” We must not be as the men of Jesus’ day who like spoiled children sought to form the Lord in the image they desired of Him, refusing to accept Him and His wisdom as it came to them, as it stood before them in the flesh. How can we presume upon the will of our God and His wisdom? How can we fail to accept the light and grace of the Gospel? What folly it is to judge Him who judges the universe. We must be open to His Word, open to His grace, open to His teaching and the marvelous works known only in adherence to His covenant of absolute truth and love. He is the foundation upon which the Church is set, and a Church living His wisdom and grace is the vindication, the proof, of its eternal efficacy for the good of all.
Rejoice in the Lord always, brothers and sisters, that He has blessed you with knowledge of His glory and fed you with His own body and blood. Eat and drink this food He gives, do all He commands in His eternal wisdom, and with the angels you will behold His face as children of the Most High God.
O LORD, lead me forth in the peace of your presence –
restore our ruined house;
heal all our disease.
YHWH, you grant mercy to our souls. Though we be cast down to the nether world for all our sins, you send forth your apostles to overcome all demons and cure us of our diseases; you raise our heads to look upon your face. And so, what should we do but praise you with full voice?
Continually we falter, LORD; repeatedly your people fall back into sin. But ever you call us to turn from our wickedness that we might find your favor again. In your Son you make this mercy complete, and we find it now at work in your Church. Let us receive well the Word that comes to us and so approach your kingdom.
What have you not done for us, O LORD. Even the hearts of the kings of this earth you have turned to our cause to assist us in rebuilding your Temple. All is in your hands, Almighty God! Redeem us from captivity to walk in freedom with you at our side.
Mon, 18 September 2017
O protector of your sheep,
you laid down your life
giving your blood
for the service of souls
that all might witness
the surpassing love of the Lord
and the glory that awaits
those who die in Him –
pray for shepherds
who feed their sheep,
not lording it over them
or seeking what gain they might find
taking the milk and wool
of their flock
and leaving them naked and lifeless…
but living the call of Christ
as you, dear shepherd, have done.
Pray those who govern God’s Church
will be ready even to die for Him
and the people they serve.
Let all be protected by the blood of the Lamb.
Mon, 18 September 2017
(1Tm.3:1-13; Ps.101:1-3,5-6; Lk.7:11-17)
“He who walks in the way of integrity
shall be in my service.”
“God has visited His people.” What the people said when Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead should be said of us all as we pass through this world. That same love that moved Jesus to pity upon seeing the tears of this poor mother should move us all. To all we should say, “Do not cry.” To all we should step forward with the love of Christ fixed firmly in our hearts and bring the same grace and healing.
In our first reading Paul outlines the qualities necessary to be a servant of the Lord. At whatever level we find ourselves, to whatever role we are called, we must walk in integrity of heart. All “must be serious”; all “should be temperate”; all should be of peace and never of greed; and all must keep their homes in order. “The man of haughty eyes and puffed-up heart I will not endure,” the Lord warns us in David’s psalm. And we must heed that warning and walk humbly with our God, seeking to serve Him and our neighbor well, that we might ever be built up in “faith in Christ Jesus.”
His servants are blessed. “My eyes are upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me,” of the Lord’s kindness and judgment David sings. Indeed, those who follow in His ways will do things as great as He – even to the raising of the dead – and shall find themselves raised up on the last day. But as we go through this world we cannot have cold hearts for our neighbors: we cannot allow the faith to die within ourselves. That which has been nurtured within us must be shared with others; then we will “gain a worthy place” at the Lord’s side.
All are called to their stations in life; all have a part in the Body of Christ. Let us not set before our eyes “any base thing” but look always to fulfill that call in a trustworthy manner, holding “fast to the divinely revealed faith with a clear conscience.” If our conscience becomes clouded, we will be unable to serve Him, and our reward will be placed in jeopardy. Therefore, let us ever maintain His goodness within us and let our actions always reflect the great love of God. The Lord wishes us to be forever in His service.
O LORD, the temple of our souls we must rebuild,
according to your Word,
that we might be His brothers and sisters,
that we might enter His House.
YHWH, let us go up to your House; let us enter its gates in joy, giving thanks to you who have made us as your Temple, built into the Body of your Son, as His brothers and sisters who do your will in this world. He is the New Jerusalem and we desire to come to Him and make our home in Him. Bless our efforts in building ourselves into your holy Temple, the Church.
Help us as we return from exile, as from sin we turn away and come back to you, O LORD our God. We shall need your assistance in rebuilding lives which have gone so astray, in restoring the walls that keep us from harm, from the dangers all about our souls, and that found us in you and in the Word of your Son.
O let us hear your Word calling us into your presence! and let us act upon that Word and give glory to you, LORD, with our every breath, with every sacrifice we make in your NAME.
Sun, 17 September 2017
(1Tm.2:1-8; Ps.28:2,6-9; Lk.7:1-10)
“Offer prayers with blameless hands held aloft.”
We must pray. We must petition the Lord for the good of the world, that the good of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ, might be known to all. If we do not intercede, if we do not seek the healing of a people sick with sin, who shall do so? The Lord desires “all men to be saved and come to know the truth.” It is our responsibility, it is our call, to bring the love and forgiveness and healing of our Lord forth.
“Hear the sound of my pleading, when I cry to you, lifting up my hands to your holy shrine.” Our eyes and our hands must be continually lifted up to the temple of the Lord and to His holy presence. The Lord listens to our prayers, brothers and sisters. The world depends upon our prayers. Those for whom the Lord is “strength” and “the saving refuge” are near to Him, and He waits to hear from them. He longs to hear the petitions of their hearts and is eternally prepared to respond to their pleas. Should not we who are blessed to be within the walls of the Church, who partake of His Word and His sacraments, who have His teaching upon our hearts and His presence in our midst, be concerned for the good of all; should we not long to see the Lord’s will done on this earth? Then pray.
And our gospel teaches us that those who disparage the faithful for depending on the intercessions of others, those who think they must always come directly to Jesus to find answer to their petition – those who fail to see the family of God and our connection here on earth with the saints who have preceded us to heaven – are in danger of a vain pride. Learn from the centurion, who says to the Lord, “I did not presume to come to you myself.” And why? “For I am not worthy to have you enter my house.” And so, first “he sent some Jewish elders to him” (are these not so much like our beloved saints?), and then “sent friends” to deliver the above message of humility. And for his humility, and for his faith in the intercession of others… and for his realization that the Lord hears petitions offered for others and that He Himself has ministering angels who perform His work at His Word – the Lord holds this centurion in “amazement” and raises him up as a model of faith.
Do we believe? Do we truly believe in the Lord and in His angels and His saints? Do we believe His heavenly kingdom is near to us, and His will is for our good? Then we should not hesitate to lift our hearts and our hands to the Lord in faithful prayer.
Blessed Mother, intercede for us before your Son, Jesus, that we who are not worthy to receive Him into our mortal bodies may be made immortal by His presence within us. May He bring peace to the world.
O LORD, you will repay the faithful soul;
you will repay him to the full –
the lamp you light in us will never dim.
YHWH, bring us into the New Jerusalem; return us to our true home with you. In Heaven let us dwell this day, blessed with all the gifts and graces come from your hands. Then we shall rejoice. Then we shall laugh and sing. Then our tears will be washed away as we join ourselves to you.
How impossible it seems as we sit here in this dark world, and yet how very likely. For even here you are present to us as we speak your NAME. Even now we know your light shining in our minds and hearts. Yes, LORD, even now we come to Heaven.
You are with your people even in their exile, and you call even those who are strangers to help them along their way to you. All the nations know your greatness and shall enter your Church, O LORD. Let us build your Temple this day.
Sat, 16 September 2017
O wise doctor
whose intellect served well
in defense of the Church
and her teachings,
who bore well the light yoke of Christ
that leads to eternal life
and shepherded your flock
in following you
along this path of our Lord –
speak to us this day
your words of grace
that the souls of all
within the Church’s gates
might be founded well
on the truths of the faith
and on the love of God.
Pray we shall be wise as you
in knowing the way
the Lord marks out for His sons;
pray we shall have shepherds
so blessed with His light
that all shall be saved from the wolves about
and remain secure in the Father’s arms.
Sat, 16 September 2017
(Sir.27:30-28:9; Ps.103:1-4,8-12; Rom.14:7-9; Mt.18:21-35)
“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?”
How like the Lord’s own wisdom is that of Sirach; how like His teaching. For have we not heard the Master say, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” in His instruction to His disciples on how to pray? And does He not impart this same lesson by parable today?
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.” Oh the woe of the unforgiving heart! “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?” How can we “refuse mercy to another” and “seek pardon for [our] own sins”? Do we not know that anger is itself a deadly sin, mortally wounding our anxious souls? Do we who sit in judgment think in our hearts that we are without sin, that we are perfect as He who is Most High? If indeed “we are the Lord’s” then we will act as the Lord and look with “kindness and compassion” upon others. Instead of condemnation we would practice divine forgiveness, for indeed mercy is the Father’s defining trait in His relationship with His children.
But no, rather than putting “wrath” and “enmity” and “hate” as far from our hearts as the Lord has “put our transgressions from us,” we cherish these abominations, setting them as trophies in our corrupted souls. Again, what woe there is for the unforgiving soul! For the same torture we would inflict upon others for their sins against us shall be the torture we ourselves shall face – then we will know what justice is! Then we will know the wrath of God! Then He who alone has power and wisdom and love to judge rightly shall inflict His punishment on all His wicked servants.
My brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Lord in both life and in death, the Lord cannot emphasize enough to us the need for forgiveness. We must first and always recognize and remember the sinners we have been and the grace we have received at our Lord’s hands. And with this ever in mind and heart we must come to others with that same mercy. It is this He desires of us, and He will accept nothing less.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "It Takes One To Know One" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, surpassing is your kindness toward us;
help us to transcend our vengeful hearts
and forgive as you have done.
YHWH, have mercy on our souls by helping us to show mercy toward others; even your own mercy let us share. Then how blessed we shall be to be like you, O compassionate God! Then your mercy shall pour forth like a refreshing stream and become an overflowing torrent.
But your kindness and compassion are far from us, LORD, so long as our sins remain near. So long as we cherish anger, we choke our souls and so cannot breathe in the light of your glory. If only we would turn and forgive, freely and without limit, then we would fully know the great blessing of your forgiveness, and find our sins put far from us.
Why should we wish to live or die except in you? Why would we separate ourselves from your loving presence? O let us rather die to the wrath we hold! Let us set all vengeance aside. Then we shall rise to where you are, LORD, to where your Son would lead us.
Fri, 15 September 2017
O brothers in Christ,
in death and in life
you gave yourselves as one
for the sake of the flock;
for the cause of the faith
readily you shed your blood
to serve the growth of God’s Church –
pray we today will be zealous as you
in defending the faith with our lives;
by fasting and by prayer,
by standing courageously
before the courts of the world
and offering our flesh in sacrifice,
may we imitate you who imitated Christ
and so come with all our brothers
to His resurrection and life.
Shepherd us well even this day
from where you now stand at the Lord’s side,
that we might be unafraid to speak
and to live the truth in undying love.
O let us lay down our lives with you!
Fri, 15 September 2017
(1Tm.1:15-17; Ps.113:1-7; Lk.6:43-49)
“Any man who desires to come to me
will hear my words and put them into practice.”
Our psalm today declares that God is “enthroned on high” – “High above all the nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory.” And why is the Lord so glorious, so worthy of our praise…? Because “He raises the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill He lifts up the poor.” And Paul tells us the same: he glorifies God as “King of the ages, the immortal, the invisible, the only God” – and why? Because though he is “the worst” of sinners, the Lord has dealt mercifully with him and made him an example of His great love.
The Lord indeed is great and worthy of all praise. Though seated far above us, He reaches down to lift us up to Him. In a word: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Humbling Himself to walk and die among us, He calls us to eternal life. But we must answer that call, we must follow His way. We cannot simply call Him “Lord, Lord”; we must indeed “put into practice” His words. If we do not, we cannot find the fruit of His sacrifice for us. Mere words, simple verbal assent, is not sufficient to bring us to the blood of Christ and the redemption it holds. It is by our actions we are judged and not our words. Jesus makes this very clear: “Each tree is known by its yield.” If we do not produce good fruit, how can we claim to be a good tree? And doesn’t the Lord cut down every tree that fails to bear fruit in His name?
All shall hear His words, all shall know of the glory He offers forth. But shall all be as the apostle Paul and put His words into practice, suffering for the faith He proclaimed? Will all make real the teaching of Christ in their lives? Those who do will find themselves set on a firm foundation – His word will be in their flesh and blood. They will receive Him into their very beings and find Him at the center of all they think and do. Without His presence so firmly fixed within themselves by their living it in their actions, salvation will be far away, and their houses shall crumble. Brothers and sisters, let us not fail to realize the salvation He offers us sinners. In His goodness, let us produce good from our hearts.
O LORD, it is your mercy
that sets us on a solid foundation
from which we may praise you for your goodness.
YHWH, you are far above all nations, above the heavens and the earth, and yet in your Son you stoop down to us, and raise us from this dunghill. We are but dust in your sight – we could be no better in relation to you. And yet you show great patience with us poor creatures; you have mercy on our sinful souls.
Jesus you send to walk among us and show us the way we should walk. Help us to put into practice what He teaches, in His words and in all He does, and we shall be set solidly in your goodness, LORD, and bear fruit worthy of your NAME.
But if we should be so foolish as to ignore the great gift of the Christ in our midst, if we should fail to listen to Him and act according to His teaching – what hope will there be for us? For then the great work of saving sinners He has come to accomplish in your glorious NAME, we shall receive in vain, and in our sin ever remain. Save us from such an evil fate, O Most High God!
Thu, 14 September 2017
O sorrowful Mother
whose heart was pierced by a sword,
who stood at the foot of the Cross
dying in spirit
as your Son died in the flesh…
Jesus was sent to suffer
and die for our sins,
and how intimately you shared
in the profound pain
He carried about all His life;
how preeminently you filled up
what was lacking in His suffering,
suffering the whole Church must share
with our crucified Lord –
pray we shall indeed enter into
the sacrifice of Christ your Son,
following in your wake,
O Mother of God;
pray we shall meet Him
along His Way of Sorrow
that His blood upon our souls
will carry us to Heaven,
where you stand at His side.
Thu, 14 September 2017
(1Tm.1:1-2,12-14; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-8,11; Lk.6:39-42)
“Remove the plank from your own eye first;
then you will see clearly enough
to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
The answer to Jesus’ question to His disciples: “Can a blind man act as guide to a blind man?” is obvious. No. It must be a man of sight, of vision, who leads those who are blind, who are without understanding. Paul has become a prime example of one who is well able to lead others. In our first reading he speaks to Timothy, his “true child in faith,” whom he has taught and led and who now stands as a bishop of the early Church. But how did Paul come to be such a profitable apostle? We see in our reading that he has taken the instruction of the Lord, his teacher, to heart, and first recognized and then removed the plank which once rested firmly in his own eye: “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance.” Indeed, this great Apostle of the Lord was once an egregious persecutor of the Church; and indeed we all have or have had great sins in our lives which have set us in opposition to God – but Paul has faced his sin, found “the grace of our Lord… in overflowing measure,” and served to remove innumerable specks from others’ eyes. What of us? Do we see our sins? Have we removed them? Do we see clearly enough to “remove the speck from [our] brother’s eye?”
“Every student when he has finished his studies will be on a par with his teacher.” Paul has humbled himself before Jesus and absorbed the lessons the Lord imparts by the Spirit. Timothy has proven himself a true student and son of Paul. Who is our teacher? Where do we get our knowledge? Whom do we imitate? And whom do we lead? Are we falling into ditches following blind men’s leads? Are we leading others astray with any false philosophy? Or is it the Lord who “counsels” us as He does David in our psalm? Do we say with him, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot,” and, “I set the Lord ever before me”? Is it His “grace, mercy, and peace” we seek always; or in arrogance do we set about doing the business we think fit?
The teaching of the Lord would lead us to set aside any sin within ourselves, to cleanse our hearts and purify our souls in order to have clear vision. For it is by this holy vision His Church is led forth, and we must be part of this procession.
O LORD, in Christ Jesus let us grow in faith and love
by the forgiveness of our sins.
YHWH, remove the sin from our lives that we might be filled with your vision and serve to help you call others to faith. On our own we remain blind, but we can bring light to others with you at our side.
O Jesus, teach us of the ways of God, and open our hearts and minds to listen to your voice and act upon your words. We are worth nothing apart from you, but if we follow in your way we may become like you who see and know all things by love and lead all souls to salvation.
Have mercy on us, dear LORD, for without your grace upon our souls we shall die in our unbelief. Who can come to you unless you call him? And apart from you, indeed we die in sin.
Open our eyes to your glory; let us set you ever before us. Let your counsel sink deeply into our hearts that we might live at your right hand and lead others to your glory.
Wed, 13 September 2017
(Nm.21:4b-9; Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38; Phil.2:6-11; Jn.3:13-17)
“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name.”
And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”? Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”? It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.
Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation. By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins. Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him.
Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters. Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt. By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you. By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.
He loves us so, brothers and sisters. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin. But as it is He “has come down from heaven.” As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes. As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love. As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come. And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be saved from our sin
by the sacrifice of your only Son.
YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it. And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son? What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?
And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts? Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?
Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you. Raise us up with Christ, your Son.
Tue, 12 September 2017
O you of golden tongue,
how well you proved
the Word of God cannot be chained;
how well you revealed
its radiance to our ears and hearts…
unconquered by threats of death
and the sufferings
the world imposes,
you proclaimed the glory of God
and His presence with us
until the very end –
pray, O dear shepherd,
who held your flock
so close to your heart
that they became one body with you
that we all shall be so willing
to lay down our lives,
speaking and walking in
the Word the Lord gives us
to share with all our brothers in light.
Pray indeed God’s will be done
in all His holy children.
Tue, 12 September 2017
(Col.3:1-11; Ps.145:2-3,9-13; Lk.6:20-26)
“Set your heart on what pertains to higher realms
where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.”
Is this not the central message of the Lord’s beatitudes: “Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth.” For how could we be blest in poverty, hunger, and weeping if our hearts are set on this earth? And how could riches and fullness and laughter be curses except that they do not find their origin in heaven? Paul makes it explicit: “You have died!” he declares, and leaves no question but that our “life is hidden now with Christ in God.” There must our hearts be.
“Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in earth,” the Apostle continues. Lust and anger and deceit have no place in the life of a follower of Christ, for these indeed are sins of this earth which stand in contradiction to the grace of heaven. Therefore, we must set them all aside to become “a new man, one who grows in knowledge as he is formed anew in the image of his Creator.” It cannot be that the Lord’s children have discourse with evil conduct; those who are called to heaven must “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” their souls must “speak of [His] might” and their lives must be lived in His light.
And so the Lord “raised His eyes to His disciples.” And so He spoke to them of heaven. And so the blessing of persecution in this world was made known to them, that their hearts might begin to understand. God’s world is not this world; His kingdom is not of darkness but of light. And if in the darkness we take our refuge, and if our hearts are not grieved by its injustice… if we fat ourselves on things of the flesh and turn our eyes from the demands of the Spirit… how shall we ever find justice and light? How shall we ever come into the Lord’s glorious presence? What will we do then but weep in our emptiness?
The Lord’s kingdom is coming, brothers and sisters. Be assured. What this world holds – its passion and death – is passing quickly, like a cloud in the night. The rays of morning are not far from us, for the Lord is even now at our side. And to His side in heaven we shall yet come, if we but accept His blessing. So let us say with David, “Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations”; and let us enter now into His eternal presence.
O LORD, let us set our hearts on your kingdom
and let this world and its sin pass away.
YHWH, blessings and woes you hold for all souls, and so help us set our hearts on things above rather than things of earth, on your kingdom which endures forever and not on this dying, deceit-filled place. Let our mouths bless you and speak of your glory, not be filled with every kind of wickedness. For then indeed we will be blessed by you, as those who revel in their sin are subject to your wrath.
O let us not take our consolation now in this dark world! Let us not give ourselves to the passion and lust that characterize this age. We must die to all of this world and find our life in your Christ, who has died, or when He appears we shall be condemned. Help us, O LORD, to rejoice in the persecution that is ours in following His way, knowing we are thus joined to Him and, so, destined also for His glory. All idolatry let us set aside and make your Son our only desire. O let us be poor souls who hunger ever for you!
Mon, 11 September 2017
O Mary, sweetest of creatures,
whose name on our lips
brings joy to our hearts…
inflamed with love toward God
in speaking your blessed name –
pray we shall call your name,
in our time of need,
that you will be quick to intercede
with your Son
for our salvation.
Washed in the water from His side
and in His holy blood,
pray we shall rise above the sea,
beyond all rebellion,
that obedient as you, His Handmaid,
we shall find favor with the Lord
and enter into Heaven,
our names written beside your own
in the Book of Life,
Mon, 11 September 2017
(Col.2:6-15; Ps.145:1-2,8-11; Lk.6:12-19)
“Coming down from the mountain with them,
He stopped at a level stretch where there were many of His disciples.”
In our gospel, the Lord has gone “to the mountain to pray, spending the night in communion with God.” Then at daybreak He chose His twelve apostles. On His way back down the mountain He comes upon those who have been waiting for Him, and He takes pity on this “large crowd of people” and reaches out His hand to heal them.
Yes, He in whom “the fullness of deity resides in bodily form,” as Paul tells us in our first reading, has come down from on high, from His union with the Father, to walk amongst us, to dwell with us – to “pardon all our sins.” He “who is head of every principality and power” has bent down to the level of the humble creature dead in sin and circumcised him with the circumcision “which strips off the carnal body completely.” He has accomplished this by taking the claim against us, our debt for our sins, and “nailing it to the cross.” And baptized into Him and His cross we are “not only buried with Him but also raised to life with Him.” The grace that comes from this sacrifice, the healing we find in the touch of His hand and by the power of His word and His blood, we must now treasure. And so Paul tells us we must “be rooted in Him and built up in Him, growing ever stronger in faith,” lest we make His sacrifice void.
“The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works,” sings David in our psalm today; and how can this be greater shown than in His coming down from heaven to teach us and to heal us, and to fulfill this teaching and healing in dying on the cross? What more could He do for us than to die for us to save us? What greater love could our God impart?
Do not be deceived, brothers and sisters, by “any empty, seductive philosophy… based on cosmic powers rather than on Christ.” Avoid any teaching that does not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, as God Himself “in bodily form.” Without Jesus there is no salvation, and failing to recognize “the fullness of deity” in Him, we cannot “share of this fullness” to which we are called. Rather, let us sing with David, “Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.” Always in the Lord Jesus let us take our refuge, and in His love; let us ever wait for His coming down from the mountain to touch and heal our hearts. Alleluia.
O LORD, power goes out from your Son
to heal us of all our sins –
let us come to Him, and remain with Him.
YHWH, your power resides in Jesus, He who is God in bodily form. He it is who took our sins and nailed them to the tree that we might have new life in company with Him in your eternal presence. In the fullness of His power we now share, with all His apostles and disciples; let us ever grow in faith and strength before you.
How compassionate you are, O LORD! And how that compassion is revealed in your only Son, He who died for our sins, He who came down from Heaven to heal us of all our ills. And how He provides for us whom He loves by appointing His apostles, that indeed we might all become His disciples, anointed by His blood.
Let us join Jesus our Savior in His union with you. In prayer let us enter your presence and there remain. O let us praise your NAME forever and ever, never ceasing to bless you for the glory you share with poor creatures such as us. O LORD, in Jesus let us live and thrive.
Sun, 10 September 2017
(Col.1:24-2:3; Ps.62:6-7,9; Lk.6:6-11)
“We admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom,
hoping to make every man complete in Christ.”
It is Paul’s desire to see the nations “enriched with full assurance by their knowledge of the mystery of God – namely Christ – in whom every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden.” It is his desire for us all to be filled with this wisdom that is Christ, for it is his call from Christ to bring His Gospel forth to the eyes and ears of the whole world, to “fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.” And it is our call to join Him in such sufferings in Jesus’ name, that indeed His Word might come to its fullness, that indeed in such suffering we might find with Paul the joy of knowing “the mystery hidden from ages and generations past but now revealed to His holy ones.” This “glory beyond price” is ours as we listen to His Word, as we follow in His ways.
Jesus shows Himself to be the model teacher, the teacher of teachers, the Word itself, in our gospel today. “On a sabbath Jesus came to teach in a synagogue where there was a man whose right hand was withered.” For Jesus the synagogue was hostile territory, for the scribes and Pharisees “were on the watch” to “find a charge against Him,” to catch Him in His teaching. Jesus does not turn away from the danger before Him but confronts them with the limitations of their interpretation of the teaching perhaps most dear to them – the command to keep the sabbath holy. He would teach them the full meaning of this command; He would fulfill this wisdom before them, showing them that God does not preclude the doing of good for others on the sabbath, that this day made for rest is thus truly a day made for healing and that this day is therefore the best to come to Him for healing – for what does He wish for us but our healing, our salvation? But being blind to the love of God and His desire for good and the good of all, they do not perceive His lesson, and make it instead a cause to “destroy” the Son of God.
It is difficult to understand how these leaders of the people could become “frenzied” at the healing of one of their flock – how can this be evil to do on the sabbath? But we must remember that blindness to the will of God is not the sole possession of these scribes and Pharisees. It is a foolishness which is part of us all in our all-too-human thoughts and actions. It is this blindness which the Lord calls us from; it is this wisdom known in Christ to which Paul would direct us all. Let us join with him, with Jesus, in the “work and struggle” to bring God’s healing word forth to the hands and hearts of all. “God is our refuge.” Let us firmly “trust in Him” and in His wisdom, and we shall be made whole.
O LORD, let us be whole in your sight
by the sacrifice of your Christ.
YHWH, in your Son every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In Him let us take our refuge, that we might be taught in fullness of your goodness, of your love for us, and come to share in that love with all your holy ones.
O LORD, let us not harden our hearts against your work in our midst, against your Son come among us to lead us to you. Let us not rather stay the path we travel in our blindness but recognize before the great mystery you reveal to us in the presence of your Son that we fall short of His glory because of our limited vision, and embrace the wisdom He holds out to us.
O let us stretch forth our withered hands! that we might be healed of all the wickedness in our hearts and come to serve you and your Church as you call us. In suffering for the sake of your kingdom may we find our joy with Christ; ever strengthened and united in His love, let us take our refuge in the glory He bears us.
Sat, 9 September 2017
(Ez.33:7-9; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Rom.13:8-10; Mt.18:15-20)
“O wicked one, you shall surely die.”
The Lord declares to the prophet Ezekiel: “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel.” He is to “speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,” that the sinner might not “die for his guilt” and that the prophet himself might not be “responsible for his death” by his silence.
As the Lord calls Ezekiel, so He requires all the Church to “warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way.” We must be diligent with all those in our care, all those we find in need, not in order to deliver condemnation upon souls but to invite all to “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us.” How can someone know this great glory if there is sin upon his soul? And how will he know to turn from his sin if those the Lord gives words to speak hold their tongues as the sheep goes astray? And what shall become of this soul who has not offered the word of loving wisdom, but rather determined in himself that there is no hope for the sinner he sees?
Brothers and sisters, when we are called to declare: “‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be,” it is out of love for the soul we see straying that we speak. For love is “the fulfillment of the law”; it sums up all its precepts, and so all its precepts are expressed in love. Do not think the law is opposed to love – love and justice are one in God; and the Lord does not call us to ignorance or acceptance of sin, but to truth and salvation.
“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault’”; do not pretend the fault does not exist, but confront him, for his sake and your own. For “if he listens to you, you have won over your brother” – you will have brought him back to the fold. However, “if he doesn’t listen,” the Lord calls us further: “Take one or two others along with you.” Bring objective witness to sway your loved one from evil. And “if he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.” Ah, the Church! The keeper of the Spirit of Truth and the flame of wisdom which no man can deny. What teaching the Lord has left with Her! And what power: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” For here are those “gathered together in [Jesus’] name,” and He indeed is “in the midst of them.” And if the soul “refuses to listen even to the Church,” what hope has it of finding salvation? But at least you have done all you can.
All must be done in justice and in love to save the soul straying in this land. This is why the Lord has left us the Church; this is why He has left His Spirit – and we are called to speak His Truth, that salvation might come to all.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to love one another,
to bring one another to repentance
that all might sing your praise.
YHWH, help us to love others as we should, to speak the truth to them; let our concern be the salvation of souls, as it is for your Son.
LORD, you institute the Church to be your representative on earth, and you call each member to reflect your love and your glory; your justice must be the desire of every soul. And we must show that desire in our relations with others, in our concern for their welfare. Who could stand by and let his brother perish if he truly loves him? And will not sin cause the death of any who will not repent? And so, what should we do but speak out in your Name?
Let our tongues not be silent as we see others fall. Especially your pastors we pray for this day, that they not be afraid to chastise their flock, to warn them against wayward paths. And let their words be heeded, LORD – save souls from dying in their sin, that all might praise your holy NAME.
Fri, 8 September 2017
O slave to the slaves,
to those who came in chains
to the new world,
those whose dark skin
made them seem to eyes of flesh
less than men…
to you these were children of God,
souls to be saved by His love
and through His Church,
and so the thousands
baptized by your hands
celebrate your glorious sacrifice
this day in God’s presence –
pray for us, dear brother,
that the shackles of racial prejudice,
the pride that exalts man above man,
shall fall from our hands,
our tongues and our hearts,
and that all of the Lord’s holy people
will work so diligently
as you, His blessed slave,
for the care of the weakest among us
and the salvation of all souls.
Fri, 8 September 2017
(Col.1:21-23; Ps.54:3-4,6,8; Lk.6:1-5)
“Hold fast to faith, be firmly grounded and steadfast in it.”
“The Son of Man is Lord,” Lord of the universe, Lord “even of the sabbath.” He is the Word through whom all things have come and it is He who has “achieved reconciliation” for all with God, the Father. We must be presented to God “holy, free of reproach and blame.” We must bow before His Majesty, trust all things to Him, and He will defend our cause. But if we continue to nourish hostility in our hearts against the Lord of all, if we refuse to recognize Him as our God and Savior, if we remain stubborn in our blindness and our sins against His glorious presence… what hope have we? We can only then be shaken in our weakness.
Such is the case so often with the Pharisees, who repeatedly harden their hearts against the Word of God and His presence amongst them. Repeatedly He tries to teach them of truth and the necessity of holding to it, that their rules alone will not sustain them; but continually it seems their hearts are closed. They cannot seem to understand because they cannot seem to bow before Him; and so they see only with their eyes and not with the wisdom that comes through fear of God. And the bedrock foundation, the cornerstone of the Church, they cast aside as they concern themselves with its ornaments.
But we must hold to the faith, to the heart’s core of existence itself and the life that is God: Jesus Christ and His holy Gospel must be that which speaks in the depths of our soul. Then we will know and sing with David, “The Lord sustains my life,” as we praise His name “for its goodness.” Then we will be “unshaken in the hope promised… by the Gospel,” for the Gospel will be as the blood coursing through our veins and the food we eat; from it and from the Lord we will draw our life as a man draws water from a fountain.
Such light let us pray we maintain in our lives. Such wisdom and strength which comes only in truth let us make our own. He is happy to give us this life – for this He has died – let us not turn in blindness from His face but ground ourselves in Him who is the foundation of eternal life.
O LORD, your Son gives His life to save us
and lead us unto Heaven.
YHWH, how your Son has saved us! He who is Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of the universe, who is One with you and so holds every soul in His all-powerful hand – this same Christ has come amongst us not only to teach us of His glory in you, but to join us to that glory by dying for us. Reconciliation He has achieved for us in His mortal body by dying, by allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross; and now His blood does redeem us from our sin and offers us the promise of eternal life with you in Heaven.
In our hunger we cried to you, dear God, and you hearkened to the words of our mouth. You sent us help in Jesus your Son and we were released from all evil in our hearts, all the wicked thoughts that controlled our lives by an empty pride. Help us now to bow down before your Son, to treasure His Word in us – make us firm in faith and unshaken in the hope of entering your House. For even now your food is upon our table in the flesh of Christ.
Thu, 7 September 2017
O Virgin who bore the Son of God,
who became the divine dwelling place
for the Creator of us all,
should we not celebrate your birth
the blessing of the generation
of you who signal our salvation?
Pray for us, dear Mother,
pray for all your children,
all who would call themselves
sons of God
and brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ...
pray that all generations
will call you blessed,
that all will hail you
as Mother of our Savior
and glorify the Lord
who has filled you with His grace.
You are one of us, dear Virgin Mary,
one of the human creation,
yet in you God deigns to dwell;
pray we shall all be made worthy
to be such a temple for the Lord.
Thu, 7 September 2017
(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30; Ps.13:6,Is.61:9; Mt.1:1-16,18-23
Note: I shall treat of both first readings)
“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”
“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child? And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.” She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence. It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”
The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself. First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world. The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings. God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.
And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High. She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.
And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters. We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith. He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –
may He be always with us.
YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins. May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you. In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.
So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race. He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence. O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!
By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us. Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.
Wed, 6 September 2017
(Col.1:9-14; Ps.98:2-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“You will multiply good works of every sort
and grow in the knowledge of God.”
As Simon Peter and the others “caught such a great number of fish that their nets were at the breaking point,” so shall it be with any Christian who devotes himself to the work and the will of God. But as the apostles “brought their boats to land, left everything, and became His followers,” so we must dedicate our lives entirely to Him if we are to “attain full knowledge of His will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight.” We must leave all else aside and we will become “worthy to share the lot of the saints in light,” becoming ever more fruitful as fishers of men and bringers of that light into the world.
“The Lord has made His salvation known,” and notice from where He chooses “to teach the crowds.” Looking for a mooring, a place from which to preach, “He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Peter.” Yes, it is in the barque of Peter and through the barque of Peter that Jesus manifests Himself, that He brings His teaching forth. In this boat He sits and teaches the nations. It is this boat He encourages to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” For His blessing is upon this boat and him who steers it, as well as the partners he calls “to come and help,” that is, James and John and all the other apostles – the bishops and priests and all the holy people beckoned by the Lord through the office of Peter to fill His boats to bursting.
“He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,” Paul, another blessed fisher of men, tells us. And the forgiveness of the Lord necessary for one to be called to “a life worthy of the Lord” is evident in the repentance of our leader, our first of apostles, Simon Peter, as he “fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man,’” in awe at the presence of God before him. Only by such humility are we drawn from the darkness of sin, only by recognizing our weakness are we made strong – only by bowing down before the Lord and serving others in His name are we made worthy of the kingdom of light. Only then with our psalmist will we “with trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord.” Rooted in His Church and its service let us ever grow in knowledge and joy before our God.
O LORD, let your salvation be fully known
in the lives of all your disciples –
let us leave all things to follow your Son.
YHWH, make us worthy to share the lot of your saints in light. Bring your salvation to us, free us from the power of darkness, that we might rejoice in your kingdom and sing your praise forever. It is through Peter and the Church you bring us salvation – let us be caught in his net and so become your disciples, and so become as your only Son.
How shall we attain full knowledge of your will, how shall we find the grace and wisdom we need, if separated from the bark of Peter, if outside the boat in which Jesus Himself has set His feet? We shall not be able to please you, LORD, if we do not follow in the way your Son marks out for us, if we do not come to you through Peter and the apostles.
Let your salvation be known to the ends of the earth, O LORD. Into deep water may Peter’s net be cast, that all sinful men may fall at the feet of Jesus.
Tue, 5 September 2017
(Col.1:1-8; Ps.52:10-11; Lk.4:38-44)
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.”
The Word goes forth, bringing healing to the hearts of the faithful. The Word goes forth, ever growing among the people. As “the message of truth, the Gospel… has come to [the Colossians], has borne fruit, and has continued to grow,” so “it has everywhere in the world.” As Jesus has set out “into the open country” to bring “the good news of the reign of God” to all to whom He was sent; as Paul, as Timothy, as Epaphrus – as all the apostles have gone forward bringing the Word forth and planting it in the hearts of all who have ears open to the healing touch of God and making them “like a green olive tree in the house of God,” so that same Word goes forward today through the apostles the Lord has ordained to carry His message of truth; and so we hear of it in our readings of daily Mass, in our daily bread.
Our “love in the Spirit” must ever grow, brothers and sisters; it must ever move forward. For the Word of God ever moves forward to the ends of the earth bringing the love of God to all, and we must move with it. There is no stopping and staying long in any place along this path we tread with the Lord. As He moved on from town to town doing the will of the Father, so our work must ever travel with Him, until it is accomplished in Him. Here there is no place to stay, no place to lay our heads; here there is only moving forward in the Lord.
And, yes, we are moved “by the hope held in store for [us] in heaven.” This is the place to which we travel in all our movements, in all our work and prayer. We know now and it has been openly stated, plainly revealed, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He makes a place for us in His kingdom. And by our “faith in Christ Jesus and the love [we] bear all the saints,” we, too, come into that kingdom, into His presence; with Paul, with the Colossians, with all the faithful who “trust in the kindness of God forever and ever,” we find that kingdom being revealed in our very hearts and in our very actions… and so heaven passes through our midst and makes us sons of the Most High.
Let us be healed of all that keeps us from growing to Him, of growing with Him, of moving forward in service of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our words and in our actions let us preach of the glory of God and so move closer to His kingdom.
O LORD, let all hear the Good News of your reign:
your Son has come into our midst
to heal us of all our sin.
YHWH, may your Word go forth to the ends of the earth, the message of truth everywhere in the world; may it bear fruit and continue to grow in every heart – bless all those who proclaim your NAME to your faithful ones!
As Jesus walked amongst us announcing the Good News of your reign, as He went forth from town to town healing their sick and casting out demons, so today your apostles go out into the open country to bring your love to all peoples, that in your love all may be reborn and grow. In the way of Jesus let us all walk, dear God, that we might come quickly to you.
In your service let us remain, LORD, ready always to answer your call in bearing your love to all the saints, to all those you send in your NAME. Let us grow each day into your kingdom until all are cured of their diseases and join your saints in Heaven.
Mon, 4 September 2017
(1Thes.5:1-6,9-11; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.4:31-37)
“Wait for the Lord with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”
The Word of the Lord has all “authority and power.” The Word of the Lord casts out demons. The Word of the Lord brings light to the soul who seeks Him. In Him we have no fear.
He comes, brothers and sisters; yes, He comes… As He entered the synagogue in Galilee and cast out the evil spirit from the man and from the place, so He will come at the end of the age and cast all evil from the face of the earth. No longer shall the devil have a place here; all darkness will be banished. This hope should bring us but joy. We who are of light should long for the day when the Lord who is “our light and [our] salvation” comes to cleanse the world of evil; if we seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” we must know that only His authority and power, only His sharp voice speaking truth and shaking the powers of this earth will bring “the loveliness of the Lord” our hearts desire to contemplate forever. As He came to cast out the devil from the man in the synagogue, as He has come to cast all evil from the temple of our bodies, so He must come at the end of the age to cast all sin into hell, that His light and all His children of light might shine in unadulterated glory.
Do not fear. Do not fear the coming of His kingdom, the power of His Word. Though we may be “struck with astonishment” and wonder at “His speech,” though the teaching of the Lord leave us “spellbound,” yet we should welcome it and seek to increase its presence in our lives and in this world. It is His teaching, it is the power of His Word we are called as children of His light to bring into this world. For, indeed, the world is a dark place, and many there are who fear as the demon the destruction of the darkness in which they have taken what has seemed to them secure refuge. It must be known that in darkness there is no “security,” in sin there is no “peace”… Only in Him is true peace and security.
Let us not be anguished at the passing of the darkness which comes by the just wrath of God. Let us not slumber into its clutches and so find refuge there. We must remain vigilant, seeking with eyes of light the coming of Jesus the Christ. We are destined for salvation in Him. In Him let us take comfort and upbuild one another, spreading “His renown” in our hearts and “through the surrounding country.”
O LORD, in Jesus’ Name and in His blood
let us be healed, washed clean
and ready for His coming Day.
YHWH, let us not take refuge in the darkness of this world and in its drunkenness take our peace and security. Rather, let us live in your light and become children of that light, awake in your presence forever. Your Son comes to cast all demons of darkness from our midst; let us welcome His powerful Word.
O LORD, you are our light and our salvation; you are our life’s refuge. And so, why should we be afraid of your Son’s coming, He who brings your salvation to man? Let us rather long for His return, for His cleansing presence before our eyes. For how else shall we enter your Temple and gaze on your loveliness if all evil is not driven from our souls?
To the land of the living we long to come, so make us stouthearted as we wait for Jesus to return, LORD. May your light upon us give us courage for that Day.
Sun, 3 September 2017
(1Thes.4:13-18; Ps.96:1,3-5,11-13; Lk.4:16-30)
“He comes to rule the earth.”
He is coming, and has come. He set us free from the prison of sin when first He came, and will set us free from death when He comes again and “we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.”
In our gospel we read of His first coming “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives…” Fulfilling the words of the prophets, He brought “a year of favor from the Lord,” to heal all those who waited for His coming, who trusted in His word. And though even as His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him and His truth and led Him to “the brow of the hill” to be cast down, so all would turn their backs on Him and deliver Him up for crucifixion; yet His death was not the end and His life was not fruitless. In His walking the earth He brought light into the darkness and in His bleeding on the cross provided means for its fulfillment.
And on the day when He comes again, death shall indeed be banished, darkness will be no more, for “God will bring forth with Him from the dead those who have fallen asleep believing in Him” and “we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” This the apostle Paul makes quite clear. As Jesus “died and rose,” so will all who believe in Him do the same: what was brought to us in His first coming – the light to the nations – will be made complete in His second coming in a year of favor that has no end.
And of both of these comings our psalm does sing, for both are gloriously triumphant: “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, let the sea and what fills it resound…” All creation glories in the coming of God; in His holy presence it finds its fulfillment. Forever it has longed to be joined with Him, and when first He came as man, it rejoiced to see Him; and when He comes “from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet” as the Son of God in all His glory, its joy and its song will know no bounds. For then “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy”: the world shall never again be moved from His way of truth and light, and neither shall we. Rejoice at His coming, brothers and sisters, and live in His light.
O LORD, you come to save us,
and so we should not be afraid –
through all tribulation you lead us home.
YHWH, let us sing you a new song on the day of your coming, on the day of your Son’s return. For then His glory will fill the sky and all the dead will rise. O let us be in the number of those who are with you unceasingly! From all darkness may we forever be set free.
When Jesus came to walk among us, to speak to us your marvelous words, to proclaim liberty to all held captive by sin, then we should have rejoiced at His presence and entered the glory of His reign. But we crucified Him instead. He came to bring glad tidings to poor souls, to open our eyes that we might see once again – but we closed our hearts and fixed Him to a cross. O LORD, let your favor be upon us now especially, that we might be saved from such sin.
We wish to rejoice with your holy ones, O God, to praise your NAME to the heavens. Let us listen now to the words of your Son and set our hearts on them.
Sat, 2 September 2017
O great Shepherd,
watchman of the House of God
and protector of His flock,
though in the monastery you would have stayed,
when called to the Chair of Peter
you guided the Church well
through difficult times –
pray that as difficult days continue
a firm hand may continue to be found
at the helm of MotherChurch.
O pray that the faith be strengthened,
that the Rock upon which this House is set
will remain unshakable
and its light, its wisdom,
serve ever as a beacon
calling straying souls
into the Lord’s welcoming arms.
Humility and holiness
may all our leaders embody,
that by the Word of God on their tongues
and His wounds in their hands
all the poor of the earth
will be carried unto Heaven.
Sat, 2 September 2017
(Jer.20:7-9; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Rom.12:1-2; Mt.16:21-27)
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”
Paul says the same as Jesus when the Lord calls us to “take up [our] cross,” to lose our lives for His sake. And as Paul instructs the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” so Jesus teaches Peter, and all His apostles and disciples, when He insists he think as God and not as man.
Why? Why is the Lord so harsh with this Rock of the Church (and, as I say, with us all)? The answer is spoken clearly in our reading from Jeremiah. In it the prophet declares in near desperation: “The Word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” He goes so far as to say the Lord has “duped” him, making evident that he had not expected to become “an object of laughter” upon taking on the mantle of prophecy. “Everyone mocks me,” he cries; and yet he “must cry out” still the way of the Lord. Yet he must call the people from their sins and warn them of the “violence and outrage” that is near them. He cannot remain silent, though he would greatly wish to, because the Word of the Lord is “like fire burning in [his] heart, imprisoned in [his] bones,” and he can do nothing but shout it from the rooftops, though it bring him scorn.
And what has this to do with Peter? Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and it is his voice above all that will cry out this truth to the ends of the earth; thus he and his fellow apostles must know clearly that to which they are called. As the Lord “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly… and be killed,” so must they walk the same path of persecution. This they must see. The contradiction of the cross they must realize, even as they preach it in this hostile world. For to it they must give themselves completely.
How? How can it be that the Christian take up such foolishness in the eyes of the world? How can it be that we die so freely, that we suffer such mockery, such persecution at the hands of sinners? Is it not that our “flesh pines and [our] soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water” for the living God? And is it not because we know that “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied”? The key is in this gospel quote: “The Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory.” The key is believing on the third day He was raised. If we have this faith it becomes easy to deny the pleasures of the flesh, for even in this we find the eternal life of the Spirit. Because our “soul clings fast” to God and to the hope that is only in Him, we are able to cling fast to His cross and so “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” And so we die with Him to live.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,
that you might call us up to you.
YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.
We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand? How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides? Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift. His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.
Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints. Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.
Fri, 1 September 2017
(1Thes.4:9-12; Ps.98:1,7-9; Mt.25:14-30)
“Those who have, will get more until they grow rich,
while those who have not, will lose even the little they have.”
Again, brothers and sisters, we must always grow in the gifts and graces of the Lord, never looking down upon what He gives us as too little (or too much), but ever putting such talents to use that they might produce an abundant yield and bring us to the joys of heaven.
“Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant… Come, share your master’s joy!” Do we not wish to hear these words from our gospel today spoken to us on the last day? Do we not wish to be put in charge of greater matters as we enter the joy of the eternal kingdom? Are these not the riches we seek? Then, indeed we must be industrious while here; we must put the Lord’s gifts to good use. We must heed Paul’s exhortation “to remain at peace and attend to [our] own affairs.” In this way of working quietly for the Lord we will certainly make “even greater progress,” until we find the victory proclaimed in our psalm. On that day when “the rivers clap their hands” and “the mountains shout with them for joy,” the Lord “will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity”; He will surely give those deserving their reward, while they who have been “worthless, lazy lout(s),” those who have not served Him out of a holy fear, out of love, but have held a judgmental disposition toward Him and withheld a generous attitude toward others, shall be cast into “the darkness outside” where they will ever “wail and grind [their] teeth.”
Take hold of what the Lord gives you today: the breath in your nostrils and the beat of your heart are in His hands, and He calls you to employ your mind and body at His affair of bringing the kingdom of heaven and His love to this earth. Whatever work He puts in your hands to accomplish, be not slack in its fulfillment. Go forward with faith and a desire to please Him, and He will ever bless and multiply all you have a mind to do; and this work will bring you to the rich fruits of heaven and keep you from the empty darkness of hell.
O LORD, you are generous and give to all,
and we must increase your love in the world.
YHWH, you give us each work to do; into every one of your servant’s hands you place talents we must employ. We have time upon this earth before your Son’s return to bear fruit in your NAME. Help us each day to love one another and do your will in all things. For on the Day when your Son comes again, He shall come as judge; and of what worth will our lives have been if we stand empty-handed before Him? O let us not be cast from your sight!
On the last day the mountains will shout for joy and the rivers clap their hands at the presence of your Son filling the universe with His love. And we shall join in that holy song if it has been our desire to see Him come, if we have worked with our lives to bring His love to this place. O LORD, let us enter into your eternal joy!
Thu, 31 August 2017
(1Thes.4:1-8; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,10-12; Mt.25:1-13)
“God has not called us to immorality but to holiness.”
And so, “keep your eyes open” and “make still greater progress” in the path that leads to His kingdom. Your lights shining brightly as you await His return, be ready to enter His marriage feast.
“It is God’s will that you grow in holiness,” Paul instructs us in our first reading. “Conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God” is his message. For there is a day coming on which the Lord will judge us and all we do; therefore, we must have nothing to do with “immorality” or “passionate desire” or “cheating” – “for the Lord is an avenger of all such things” – and these will find us barred from His kingdom. Rather, we must stay the path we are on, guarding ourselves “in sanctity and honor” and securing even greater gifts and graces from God that we might keep in store against His judgment, against His wrath to come. For if “the mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” how strong must we be to stand on that day of His return?
But for those who do stand strong, for those who do acquire “flasks of oil” to keep their torches burning for whatever hour the Lord might come – for them there shall be great rejoicing… This is the fate of the just. “Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart,” for their light is a match for His own and so He weds them unto Himself; to rejoice with the king of all the earth is their portion and cup.
Yes, “the ones who were ready went in to the wedding with Him,” but those unprepared were locked outside the doors. And so we must ask ourselves, does Jesus know us? Are we ready for the day of His coming? Do we avoid all stain of sin which detracts from the purity we must maintain as bridesmaids of the Lord? Or is there yet that which keeps us from standing ready at His gates? He will come. He will come again to judge our souls, this Son of God most just, and so we must heed the instruction of the Holy Spirit now to prepare ourselves against that day, ever making progress in His Name.
Let holiness be our treasured possession, brothers and sisters. Let it be a flaming torch growing ever higher by the breath of the Spirit upon our souls, until it reaches unto Him and His kingdom. The Lord’s “delay” in coming serves but to weed the evil from the good. Take this time to increase in faith and in knowledge of God. Be as His own.
O LORD, we must keep ourselves pure
to meet with you who are purity itself.
YHWH, let our eyes be open to see you, our hearts set on fire with your love. Let our flame not die out before the Day of your coming but ever increase as it rises unto you. Let your Spirit be upon us to lead us in wisdom every hour of every day.
O LORD, how shall our holiness grow to meet your own that we might be wed to you? How shall we turn from immorality, from the blindness upon our souls, and come to the glory to which you call us, your glory which you would make our own? O help us to listen to the instruction of the Spirit that we shall remain just in your sight.
Let your light dawn upon us, dearest LORD; let your gladness fill our souls. Let us rejoice at your wedding feast, at our union with you in your kingdom. What need we but holiness? And so, let us set our hearts on you.
Wed, 30 August 2017
(1Thes.3:7-13; Ps.90:3-4,12-14,17; Mt.24:42-51)
“Stay awake, therefore!
You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”
And what is it to stay awake, to be ready, but to do as Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in our first reading: to continue to grow in holiness until that day we meet with the Lord. This is our essential call.
Here we are, having been converted to the Lord, having found faith in God as our foundation and been appointed servants by Christ until He should return. We are that “faithful, farsighted servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to dispense food at need.” Certainly our priests dispense the most necessary food of the Word and the Bread of Life, but all Christians the Lord gifts with His store of nourishment for the people; all of us are called to provide spiritual as well as physical nourishment to our brothers and sisters. We cannot do other than this or we are not Christians, and we will be far from the Lord at His second coming – when He calls to account all His servants.
And each day we must indeed know the Lord’s increase and “overflow with love for one another and for all”; we must always grow in the gifts the Lord gives us, not becoming impatient for the time which passes, but ever taking it as opportunity to strengthen our salvation in Christ. We must in this way have the vision of God: “A thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch in the night,” our psalm declares (expressing the patience Moses and the Israelites needed in their forty years wandering through the desert); and so short should our wait seem if lived in the presence of our God.
And so now as we wait and watch, now as we make ourselves ready for the Lord by the service we perform in His Name, let us entreat the Lord to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness,” let us pray for Him to “prosper the work of our hands.” For all in our hands is our gift from Him to accomplish in His Name and by His grace, and by so numbering “our days aright” in His presence, we shall “gain wisdom of heart” and be awake and ready for His coming.
My prayer for you, brothers and sisters, is Paul’s own: “May he strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” I pray we shall meet on that happy day.
O LORD, we must serve you each day and every hour;
thus will we be ready for your Son’s coming.
YHWH, let us be ready for the return of your Son, our hearts set on His coming Day. Make us holy before you, doing your work all our days that we might be acceptable to you.
O LORD, we long for the return of your Son, for the dawn of His light upon us. For we are in exile here in this dark place and the devil would come and steal our love for you away, tempting us with the passing of time to become impatient for the fulfillment of your promise.
Let us not be led astray. Let us remember that you are with us always, that a thousand years are as a single day in your sight – let us be blessed with your vision as we serve you, LORD! All is ever new in your presence.
And let us never cease to serve you, never turn from the joy of joining our lives to your own. Then our shortcomings shall be remedied, LORD, and we will see you face to face on your holy Day.
Tue, 29 August 2017
1Thes.2:9-13; Ps.139:1,7-12; Mt.23:27-32)
“Make your lives worthy of the God
who calls you to His kingship and glory.”
God is our Father, and those who preach “God’s good tidings” love us “as a father does his children,” for their message is “not as the word of men” but truly “the word of God at work within [those] who believe.” Come to the Lord’s table. Eat of His Body, drink of His Blood. Become as He is by His holy Word.
Children of light we are called to be, and what is that light but the one which shines in all places at all times and which is inescapable. “Where can I go from your spirit?” David wonders in our psalm. Whether we fly to the heavens or “sink to the netherworld,” He is there. For Him “darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day” because He Himself is light, and where He is, light shines – and He is everywhere.
How can we become children of such an awesome God? How can we enter “His kingship and glory” as Paul exhorts us in our first reading? The only way is by Jesus and the only way is to follow those who bring Jesus to us, whose conduct is “upright, just, and irreproachable” as is Paul’s – our means of salvation is the Church, its prophets and martyrs, its teaching and sacraments… its grace which comes to us through Jesus Christ to lead us to the Father of all. On the apostles and their message of the Gospel our faith is set.
In our gospel Jesus again chastises the Pharisees, those who have not been loving and faithful fathers for the people, those from whom care of the kingdom will be taken for the “hypocrisy and evil” within them. For though they present “a holy exterior,” it is but the bones of the saints they hold within their whitewashed tombs and not their blessed spirit. Indeed, they shall show themselves murderous as their forefathers, who shed the prophet’s blood – and whom they ascribe to themselves by name – in their giving up the fulfillment of the prophets to crucifixion. “Full of filth” inside and lovers of the tomb’s darkness, they are not worthy to be called fathers of the Lord’s children. And Jesus proves that God’s light shines in even the darkest places by exposing their corruption in our gospel today.
Brothers and sisters, beware of following false leaders whose motives are not pure, who do not lay down their lives for the flock. Remain within the walls of the Church, where the Spirit dwells and where the Father nourishes His people on their way to His kingdom and glory.
O LORD, take all falsehood from our souls
and let us toil only for you.
YHWH, how shall we become true servants of your Word, free of all hypocrisy and evil, not seeking our own gain but the salvation of others? Purge us of the filth within us and make our conduct irreproachable, that you may be known and all your children follow in your way.
Surround us, O LORD, with your presence this day; let your Word be at work within us. Let us not whitewash our sin but acknowledge it before your all-seeing eye, and in repentance find our freedom. Guide us in all things, even in the darkest night, that we may come to know you are ever with us.
For you let us work, LORD, and not for the burying of your light. Let us toil on this earth only to bring your truth to all souls. From the tomb let us be raised to dwell in your holy presence.
Mon, 28 August 2017
O witness to the Truth,
to the Light that has come among us,
you gave your very life
for the sake of Christ,
who redeemed us in His blood,
blood you shed with your Savior;
you who were a pillar of iron
against the whole land
and against its king,
you who stood so strong
against the lust of the world,
suffering its persecution so willingly,
fortified even in death
by the Lord and His promise –
how can our meager lives
measure up to your blessed sacrifice;
how can we who are so weak of knee
endure our exile so bravely?
Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ
both in word and in the giving of your life,
that our blood may be joined to your own
and so to that of our holy Lord.
Mon, 28 August 2017
(1Thes.2:1-8; Ps.139:1-6; Mt.23:23-26)
“First cleanse the inside of the cup
so that its outside may be clean.”
The Lord rails against the Pharisees again today, calling them from false practice to genuine faith; and in Paul we again see the paragon of true ministry in the Lord’s Name.
In our gospel the Lord calls the Pharisees “frauds,” for they have the appearance of holiness in clothing and posture and minor actions, but inside are “filled with loot and lust.” In our first reading, it is quite evident that the preaching of Paul “does not spring from deceit or impure motives or any sort of trickery,” as does the work of the Pharisees. He is not at all guilty of “flattering words or greed under any pretext,” seeking the glory of God rather than “glory from men.” This, of course, is the central question: do we perform our acts for others to see, from selfish motives of pride and greed and the accolades we might gain from man; or are we laying down our lives for God, giving no thought to our own importance or the opposition we may face? Does our work and our life spring from truth, or does it spring from lie?
“O Lord, you have probed me and you know me,” David sings in our psalm today. Truly the Lord is “the tester of hearts.” He is familiar with all our ways and the motives whence they come. Indeed, “even before a word is on [our] tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it.” Inside and out He sees us, He scrutinizes us, that He may enter into us and renew us. It is by His grace that the inside of the cup might be made clean and so our work be fruitful in His Name.
And so, what of us, brothers and sisters? What does the Lord see when He peers within our hearts, when His penetrating gaze pierces our soul? Do we meet “the test imposed on us by God” as Paul does and live in “justice and mercy and good faith,” or is there but corruption within us which will not allow the Lord’s light to enter, thus making us blind to His grace?
The Lord surrounds us so, that we call out with David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain.” Indeed, the Lord is far above and beyond our comprehension and His holiness can seem beyond our ability to attain; but if we have hearts that are open and trusting and loving of His Word, we find that He is “gentle as any nursing mother fondling her little ones,” that He, in fact, shares with us His very life, and so makes us as His own. The Lord will cleanse the inside of the cup. Let Him act upon your soul.
O LORD, you see clearly the inside of our cup,
and would cleanse it by your gaze.
YHWH, you are the tester of our hearts; you scrutinize all our ways. And you know us – you know us well. The greed and deceit within us we cannot hide from your watchful eye. You are not fooled by empty show.
You surround us with your presence, LORD, and test us by our trials. You are far beyond us in eternal glory, and yet you come near. You draw near to us in your Son and so declare to our souls the truth of who we are and what we have done, and what we have failed to do. But you do this not for our condemnation; it is because you love us as a mother her child that you chastise us. It is to make us whole.
O LORD, though knowledge of you is too wonderful for us to comprehend, though great fear fills our souls as you come to us with your piercing fire – though your scrutiny may cause us great humiliation, great suffering, you work gently to heal our hearts of all their affliction.
Sun, 27 August 2017
O shepherd made anew
by Him who is within,
Him who made us all,
the Light above and beyond
who gave His life,
His flesh as food that we might live –
pray that the Lord and God of all
will break through our deafness
and dispel our blindness,
that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit
and we too will be created
saved by His grace from the sin
that has kept us from Him
and thirsting for the wisdom
which became your own,
with which you shepherded His people
apart from the things He created
to His very Beauty itself,
that all souls might rest in Him
who made them.
Sun, 27 August 2017
(1Thes.1:2-5,8-10; Ps.149:1-6,9; Mt.23:13-22)
“You turned to God from idols,
to serve Him who is the living and true God.”
Contrast is at the heart of today’s readings again. The faith of the Thessalonians and the inspired preaching of Paul are in distinct opposition to the empty ways and words of the scribes and Pharisees.
In our first reading Paul praises the Thessalonians, who are “laboring in love, and showing constancy in hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” telling them, “Throughout every region your faith in God is celebrated.” In our gospel Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for their blindness to the presence of God. In contrast to the Thessalonians, they have turned from worship of the true God to idols; their vision set on the gold therein, they are unable to see the temple and how sacred it is – their hearts set on things of this earth and the laws they have contrived, they are blind to the Son of God, who sits upon the throne of heaven, as He stands before them. And not only are their vain beliefs in contrast to the true faith of the Thessalonians, but their failures in carrying the Word of God forth stand also in sharp contrast to Paul’s fruitful preaching. Paul’s preaching was “one of power; it was carried on in the Holy Spirit and out of complete conviction,” and so led to the conversion of many nations. On the other hand, Christ says to the scribes and Pharisees: “You shut the doors of the kingdom of God in men’s faces… You travel over sea and land to make a single convert, but once he is converted you make a devil of him twice as wicked as yourselves.”
We must be the fruit of the Apostle’s preaching, brothers and sisters, and not the vain teaching of those who set their souls on the gold of this world. For as the faithful “sing to the Lord a new song of praise,” as they “rejoice in their king” and “praise His name in the festive dance,” even so the voice of the wicked will be silenced: they shall choke to death on all their pride. So let us be those who “await from heaven the Son [God] raised from the dead – Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” With the Thessalonians let us prove our faith in our labor of love, working ever for the coming of the kingdom. And “the high praises of God [will] be in [our] throats” and the “glory of all His faithful” will be ours. Turning from all the idols of this blind generation, let us be born now of the Spirit of God.
O LORD, we are your own;
let us offer ourselves to you.
YHWH, let high praise of you be in our throats; let us sing for joy in your presence. O let us worship you who are the living and true God! Let us turn resolutely from the idols of this vain world and so be made fruitful in your sight. May the doors of your kingdom open for us and for all souls, we pray.
Jesus is seated upon the throne of Heaven and it is through Him we come to you, O mighty God, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Truth be upon our hearts and our tongues as we preach the Gospel of Christ with all our lives – thus may we be found worthy to praise your NAME in the assembly of the faithful.
There is woe in store for those who pervert your words to selfish ends, O LORD, who blind themselves and those they teach to the glory of your presence among us. O let us labor in love in the Body of your Son!
Sat, 26 August 2017
O tearful mother
whose persistent cries
for the soul of your son
were heard in time
by the Lord our God
and so led to his conversion,
to his becoming
not only a Catholic Christian
but a bishop and doctor of the Church,
a saint like yourself –
pray for the prayers of all mothers
who cry for their wayward sons;
pray indeed that all souls may turn
and come to know so deeply
the love of our Lord and God
and the blessing upon
His holy Catholic Church.
Pray that all who stray,
many as they are,
shall be raised from the death of sin
and come to the life of Heaven,
where you wait with your son
to welcome all his brothers.
Sat, 26 August 2017
(Is.22:19-23; Ps.138:1-3,6,8; Rom.11:33-36; Mt.16:13-20)
“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Thus the Lord grants principal authority in His Church to His rock, Peter. Thus He prophesies what He has promised: the power and teaching given those who sit on Moses’ seat shall pass to this new leader He appoints to guide the flock of the New Jerusalem. And is this designation, or redesignation, of power not remarkably foreshadowed in our first reading: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open”? For the Lord has said to “Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station… and give over to [Eliakim] your authority.’” The same declaration Jesus has made to the chief priests and leaders of the people, and here He indicates its fulfillment.
“He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” Is this not the case with our Papa, our Pope, whom the Lord has assigned in His “inscrutable” judgment to feed His sheep? “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” whose mind no man has known. For see the authority He gives to man, He who has all power to give. Even unto heaven does the reign of the apostles now extend, with Peter in the fore. And “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” for it is granted by “the Christ, the Son of the living God” through the revelation of His “heavenly Father.” “I will fix Him like a peg in a sure spot,” the Lord states of Eliakim; and now no surer peg is there than Peter, through whose care all “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple.”
“Your kindness, O Lord endures forever.” Your love for your sons on earth reaches unto heaven. And so you grant us blessings beyond our imagining; you strengthen us beyond our weak frame. And as to the apostles you deliver authority, so one in your grace all become. How shall we repay you for your kindness toward us? How shall we care for the gift you give? How shall we maintain your presence among us, except that in your love you remain? Bless this House and all its leaders; may “in the presence of the angels [we] sing your praise.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. (Background chanting by members of Neocatechumenal movement awaiting arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the United Nations.)
O LORD, teach us always to do what is right
that we might be as your sons
and enter into your House.
YHWH, all peoples are called to your glory, to your kingdom, for all are sons and daughters to you. But truly you must be our Father, we must come from you, we must reflect your image, the image your only Son reflects to us in His way of the Cross, if we are to enter your presence. Relying on accidents of time or place we shall never be saved. Only by accepting the discipline you offer will be made ready for Heaven.
Strengthen us, O LORD, by the chastisement you bring to our souls, by the Word of truth come from Jesus’ mouth. He knows you and is the way to you – let us be obedient to His call and the call of His apostles to enter through the narrow gate, to leave all of this world behind that we might come rejoicing to your holy mountain with all our brothers and sisters, with all your blessed children. May all men hear your Son’s voice this day, that none shall be barred from your kingdom.
Fri, 25 August 2017
(Ruth 2:1-3,8-11,4:13-17; Ps.128:1-5; Mt.23:1-12)
“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.”
Today we can contrast the faith of Ruth with the Pharisees’ of Jesus’ time. In our first reading, Ruth says to her mother-in-law Naomi, “Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field of anyone who will allow me that favor.” She puts herself at ready service in all humility, despite the potential dangers that come with being a foreign woman working in a place dominated by men who may not have the greatest of respect for women in general and especially for her. In contrast, in our gospel Jesus says of the Pharisees, “They bind up heavy loads, hard to carry, to lay on other men’s shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.” These Pharisees have no heart for service; they are sooner the oppressors of the poor and vulnerable, and are rather concerned for “places of honor at banquets” and “marks of respect in public” than the needs of others. How stark the contrast is between she who serves and those who are inflated with pride.
And how true are Jesus’ words: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Indeed, God’s providential hand watches over Ruth as she gleans in the field that “happened to be the section belonging to Boaz of the clan of Elimalech,” her father-in-law, and so a close kinsman. Not only does Boaz make provision for her safe and fruitful gleaning of his fields – instructing his young men to do her “no harm” and indeed to leave food behind that it will be easy for her to gather – but he seeks diligently to take her to wife… and through their union she (and Naomi) is blessed with a son who will be grandfather to King David. But what of these Pharisees and their vanity? From them Jesus will take the keys of the kingdom, the teaching authority on earth which they so misuse for their own gain, and give it to others as He builds His Church on Peter and the apostles. And so today we hold up Ruth as a model of faith, while these dead men’s bones which walked the earth in whitewashed tombs now find their home rotting in the grave.
“You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork,” our psalm proclaims. Those like Ruth who “fear the Lord, who walk in His ways… shall be like a fruitful vine” and their “children like olive plants around” their table. However, those inflated with pride, serving no one but themselves, shall come to naught. Let us heed our Lord’s warning today not to exalt ourselves in any work we do, but rather set our hearts on serving others. Then we shall truly be fruitful, for then we shall know the fruits of heaven.
O LORD, you bless all those who fear you,
who are humble before you.
YHWH, make us humble before you and before others, ever willing to serve in your NAME. Then we shall be blessed. Then we shall find our place in your kingdom. For then we shall be fruitful and our fruits shall raise us to you.
Anyone to whom you lead us, let us serve, dear LORD. Guide our steps to the field where we shall glean grain for food that will sustain us all our days. You alone are our nourishment, and fed by your hand we shall have abundance.
But if into pride we fall, exalting ourselves above others, assuming the place reserved for you and your Son, how we shall be cast down! Our hearts and our hands will be empty as our deeds: our vanity will spell our end. No fruit of any worth shall we bear, and so our souls shall starve for want of love. O LORD, let us be truly humble! Let us be like you.
Thu, 24 August 2017
O guardian angel of poor children
who formed them in the image of Christ,
an education of body and soul
you provided those most in need,
those most impressionable
and thirsting for the Lord’s care,
and led so many others
in this work for the least of our brothers –
pray we shall become fellow workers
with Jesus in the cause of truth
and teach with deep love,
the greatest patience,
and profound humility,
the souls He places in our hands.
May the desire to see all
attain eternal life
be that which most impels us
and especially those whose responsibility
is the formation of Christian youth,
that all men might rejoice at the straight paths
these walk to the kingdom.
Your zeal despite persecution
may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Thu, 24 August 2017
O loyal subject of the Lord
and of His Church on earth,
though a king
you did not exalt yourself
but listened rather
to the words of your Savior
and chose to serve Him,
doing His work in this world:
the poor you cared for,
your children you raised
in the teaching of Christ,
and for all those in your reign
you sought true justice
and maintained concern
for their spiritual welfare –
pray we poor souls
will emulate your desire
for penance and prayer,
and your faithful obedience
to God and MotherChurch.
May we be blessed as your sons
to have your wisdom in our ears,
a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Thu, 24 August 2017
(Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22; Ps.146:2,5-10; Mt.22:34-40)
“Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
How well our readings harmonize this day. Jesus speaks plainly to the keepers of the law the greatest commandments – total love of God and neighbor – and Ruth puts them into practice for our witness. And our psalm sings the praises of our great God of love, whose care for “the hungry” and “the strangers,” “the fatherless and the widow,” we are called to imitate. Alleluia, indeed.
Ruth is a foreigner, from a land which follows other gods; yet she is willing to leave “her people and her god” to follow Naomi and the living and true God unreservedly. Oh how this mirrors all our call to leave all of this world behind and follow the Lord and His way. Oh that we had the courage and faith of this Moabite woman who will become the great-grandmother of King David. How well this illustrates God’s call and blessing to any and all who seek Him, who long to walk in His steps. And how well His way of compassion and love is shown in His care for this widow Naomi, who came to Moab hungry and leaves now to return to Israel with this blessed daughter-in-law to be with her and serve her without restraint.
The words of the Lord are so true: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” They silence even the hardest of hearts with their radiance. We know that God is love, that through His help we find blessing – that His concern for all those in need extends “through all generations” – and we know that we should be like Him… but how often we fail to practice Ruth’s resolve.
This day let us cast off our reservations, brothers and sisters, and cast ourselves upon the love and grace of the Lord. Let us resolve never to “abandon or forsake” Him. Knowing clearly the love of God which comes from the lips of our own Lord of love and our blessed psalmist, and which is embodied by Ruth’s profession of faith and commitment to love, let us vow in this spirit to return the Lord’s boundless love, for in loving we become like Him whom we love and so stand with Him who “shall reign forever” in the eternal kingdom of light and love. Again I say, now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation. Follow Him unreservedly.
O LORD, may we increase in purity daily,
for the hour of your Son’s coming is nigh
and we must be ready to become His bride.
YHWH, help us to trust entirely in you, to love you with all our heart, and our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to leave behind our people and anything that keeps us from you. To you and to your love let us come, and with you make our home.
You provide, O LORD, for all those in need, for the widow and the orphan, and the stranger who draws close to you. You make no distinction among people: it is those of faith who are acceptable to you and whom you bless. Those of faith who reflect your great love become as your sons and daughters; these are wed to you.
O let us never abandon or forsake you, LORD! Let us go wherever you lead, and make your people our people. With you and with those who follow you let us stay and remain, and we shall dwell securely in your love. You are our only hope – reign over us forever.
Wed, 23 August 2017
O apostle of the Lamb,
man without guile
led by love to the Lord,
you who declared Jesus Son of God
and King of Israel,
whose eyes of faith were illumined
by angels’ wings –
pray we shall be found by the Christ
under our fig tree
in peace, in prayer,
and carry with you His holy Gospel
to the very ends of the earth.
With you as a foundation stone,
one of the Twelve,
may the Bride of the Lamb
be led to her Husband,
her heart burning with love
for Him alone;
her soul thirsting only for God’s presence,
may her eyes be opened
to see her Lord.
To vision of Heaven pray we all come
by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Wed, 23 August 2017
(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51)
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”
Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.
And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.
The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God
and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;
let us have eyes that look for Him,
hearts that long for Him.
YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us. Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us. And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.
Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations. And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built. The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.
O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Tue, 22 August 2017
O penitential soul
whose eyes saw the Lord,
whose ears heard His voice
calling all to the Cross,
obediently you accepted
the afflictions that are necessary
to attain union with God
and His surpassing glory –
pray that fearful souls
like our own,
which turn in complaint
from every torment and trouble,
may be blessed with a measure
of your selfless devotion,
that the unfathomable treasure
of the Lord’s grace
might be our own
as we endure,
and even desire as you,
the pains that pave the road to Heaven.
Then we shall know Christ even as you
and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Tue, 22 August 2017
(Jgs.9:6-15; Ps.21:2-7; Mt.20:1-16)
“The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
Jesus, the Son of God and true King, who is first, has made Himself last, and so for His humility will be exalted forever; Abimalech, rebellious son of Gideon, who is least of all his brothers, has made himself first, and so will be humbled for his vain pride.
In our first reading Jotham curses his brother Abimalech from the mountaintop as this least of the trees is anointed king after having murdered all other of his brothers. (There were seventy sons of the judge Gideon – who himself refused kingship.) The people of Shechem have fallen by pride in this son of their own city and so they, too, are cursed for taking refuge in his dark shadow. Abimalech’s thorns shall pierce them and shall prove a bitter medicine of purgation for these wayward Israelites. They shall indeed be the death of one another.
In contrast to this false king, in David’s psalm we hear of the blessings the true king receives from God, in whom he rejoices and to whom he gives all glory for victory: “O Lord, in your strength the king is glad.” It is not by his own will that this king reigns, but by the will of the Father, and so his place is assured and he is exalted and made “a blessing forever.” David, too, was the least of his brothers, but unlike Abimalech, who took matters into his own jealous and bloody hands, he trusted always in the Lord and humbled himself before the God of all, and so, “great is his glory in [the Lord’s] victory.”
And, of course, we know that it is the Son of David, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords: in Him is the blessed kingship of God fulfilled. And, of course, it is His great humility which has made Him so exalted. Did He not take the crown of thorns upon His head? Was He not pierced by the pride of man’s rebellion? Did He not accept the bitter wine as He died upon the cross? And so should not all trees bow down to this sanctifying tree, this true vine? Is it not by the fruit of this buckthorn that we are purged from our sins against Him who is Most High? He who has been raised on the cross is indeed King of us all, and all others mere pretenders.
Brothers and sisters, it is only in Christ and in the shadow of the tree that is the cross that we shall find blessing, that we shall find glory, that we shall be exalted and receive “a crown of pure gold.” Follow no other, for false gods abound and their fall is great. Toil only in the vineyard of the Lord and regardless of the length or breadth of your labor you shall receive your recompense, which is oneness with Him who is eternal and whose generous reign knows no bounds. And be not envious of others’ entering in if it is you who must toil long – your service of God should be your joy and a source of great humility.
O LORD, those who are least in the eyes of the world
are first in your eyes,
for you love all souls, but despise sin.
YHWH, you have sent us a great King, before whom all others must bow, in whose light all other reigns pale. For He is the only true King, the only King whose reign endures. And only in Him is true justice; and only in Him is true charity. Only in Jesus will all be cared for, will all be united with you.
Let us serve your Son well, dear LORD. Let us enter His vineyard and do the work set before us by His gracious concern. He seeks to draw us into His realm that we might be blessed by Him; let us not be idle or jealous of His goodness toward all, but treasure every hour we toil in His presence.
There are false gods enough to lead any soul astray, but only you are LORD and only on your Son do your majesty and splendor rest. Let us take our refuge, Father, in the shadow of His Cross.
Mon, 21 August 2017
O Queen of Heaven and earth,
you radiate the glory of God,
for now you stand at His right Hand
in the heavenly kingdom.
Clothed with the sun,
the moon under your feet
and a crown of twelve stars
upon your head,
you give light to all souls
who thirst for the grace
our Lord and King
pours upon us through your intercession.
O how the angels rejoiced,
how the heavens rang with praise
when the Son led you into His presence
clothed in gold
to be forever His Bride!
O pray for us,
dearest Queen and Mother,
that we too shall be led in
among your maiden companions
to stand in God’s glory forever.
Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Mon, 21 August 2017
(Jgs.6:11-24; Ps.85:9,11-14; Mt.19:23-30)
“Go with the strength you have and save Israel
from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.”
The world is at enmity with God. The kingdom of heaven is not as the kingdom of this earth, thus Jesus tells us that “the last shall come first.” For though we pray the Lord’s kingdom come now to this earth, it shall not be fulfilled until “the new age when the Son of Man takes His seat upon a throne befitting His glory.” We must therefore not judge with the mind of the world but continually struggle against it and its power.
In our gospel Jesus calls the apostles to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom. As He instructs them of the danger of the riches of this world, they are “completely overwhelmed.” Judging with an earthly mind, they think riches should be of assistance; but the Lord wishes to teach them of the mind of God, upon which the world is set in opposition. The apostles indeed “have put everything aside to follow” Jesus, and for this they shall receive their reward. But their only reward on this earth will be persecution; it is in heaven their glory shall come.
Yes, the Lord “proclaims peace to His people” and “justice shall walk before Him, and salvation, along the way of His steps”; and though the Lord blesses and guides us in our fight against evil now – imparting to us a share of His Spirit – yet we know “His benefits” shall only be fulfilled in heaven; this is the land which “shall yield its increase.” As in our first reading the meat and cakes of Gideon are laid upon a rock, not consumed by the mouth for the sake of the belly but consumed by the fire of the Lord to feed his faith, so it is that the Lord and His angels and all those who follow Him are of the Spirit and not the flesh. And so it is that the Lord chooses those who are least in the eyes of the world, as is Gideon: “My family is the meanest in Manassah, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house,” and places His power upon them, to show us not only that “for God all things are possible,” but more so to instruct us not to put faith in the passing things of this world but in the eternal “justice and peace” of His heavenly kingdom.
We must indeed struggle continually against this world and its power with the strength God gives us, brothers and sisters. In the riches of this life we must never take our ease. For these are set in opposition to God in enmity. God is Spirit and we must be as He is, taking our places in His heavenly glory with the apostles who have laid down their lives and so now judge in righteousness with Jesus the king. Go forth now in His Name.
O LORD, let us follow in the way you mark out for us,
and we will be blessed.
YHWH, you come to those who are lowly, who place their trust in you. Those who set their hearts on you and give up the things of this world will be blessed in your kingdom.
Call us forth in your NAME to do your will, O LORD. Without you, we are nothing, the meanest creatures on this earth. But with the strength that comes from you, we can conquer all our enemies. It is from you all blessings come; only through you will our land yield its increase, will we be fruitful here and in Heaven.
Why should we desire the riches of this world when you are the only treasure worthy of our time, when it is only your glory that passes not away? O LORD, accept the offering of our lives. Increase our faith in your protection, in the angel you send to call us to you, and we shall live ever in your peace.
Sun, 20 August 2017
O simple priest
who became Shepherd
of the universal Church
and defended her with courage
against the errors of the age,
you did not waver before the powers
that would dilute the purity
of the teaching of our Mother
but stood strong against the tide
attempting to wash her away –
are we not yet threatened
by falsehood and sin
being held up as good,
and so do we not yet need
your spirit and your prayers?
Though the tide may be turning,
returning to the solid rock of faith,
yet certainly we need your help
to see the Spirit of Truth
regain and maintain
His place in this House.
Pray indeed all priests and people
be simple and true as children before God.
Sun, 20 August 2017
(Jgs.2:11-19; Ps.106:4,34-37,39-40,43-44; Mt.19:16-22)
“They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the Lord.”
It is not long before the Israelites break their vows to the Lord, mingling with other nations and worshiping their idols. As soon as the generation which has known Joshua dies out, their children begin to stray. And though the Lord “raised up judges to deliver them from the power of their despoilers,” to save them from their enemies when He heard their cry of affliction, repeatedly “when the judge died, they would relapse and do worse.” Thus it shall also be with the interminable series of good and evil kings which shall lead to their exile, and thus the necessity of the eternal King, Jesus Christ, under whose reign there is no faltering backward – for He lives forever to intercede.
So evil had the Israelites become that they “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.” And one must ask, should the Lord God not punish such deeds? Does He not hold justice in His right hand? Should such action be allowed to transpire? Although the Lord holds compassion in His left hand and always has regard for our affliction when we cry out to Him, He does not, He cannot, allow sin to go unpunished. If He did so it would but grow more grave and the peril to the soul would be greater, and thus He would fail in compassion not only to the victims of oppression but to the soul of the oppressor.
How difficult this is to hear in the materialistic age in which we dwell, where the body is king and possessions take the place of the spirit. How like the young man in our gospel many are when they hear the call to perfection, when they are challenged to give up their possessions, for our souls have become one with our material wealth, and to lose it we think spells death. But it is not death but life to which Jesus calls us, life in the Spirit, which is life itself. And whether we own things or not we must not own them; we must know that all belongs to God, or we shall not belong to God but to the false idols of the nations around us and the death and defilement their evil practices bring. For do we not today sacrifice our children on the altar of abortion in the name of ease and luxury.
“There is One who is good. If you wish to enter life, keep His commandments.” If you wish for death, continue to stray.
O LORD, how shall we give ourselves entirely to you,
you who alone love us?
YHWH, save us from following the false gods that surround us and close in. Easily we go astray without your shepherds to lead us. May your Son be present to us this day in your Church that we might be kept from falling into the power of our enemies by the sins we commit.
Why should we abandon you, LORD? Why should we fall under the devil’s sway and give ourselves to the service of the empty things of this world? Look upon our weakness. Help us rather to abandon our passing possessions and put our trust in your unfading glory. Help us keep to your Word and your way and find the goodness, the perfection, only you hold.
Your Son calls us this day away from the vain pursuits of this corrupted place. May we heed His voice and turn from the evil sacrifices of wanton nations to join ourselves to His Cross.
Sat, 19 August 2017
O great light of the Church
who by word and work
inspired your brothers
and so many others
to a life of virtue,
to peace and unity with one another
and an abiding love
for our Lord and His Mother –
teach us this day, O blessed preacher,
of the way in which Jesus calls us,
of the life and love God offers
if we but respond in kind
in our weak and limited manner.
To all souls in His holy Church
and throughout the world
you brought the Word of God,
you imparted the light of His wisdom;
please pray, dear father in the faith,
that our lives may be conformed
to the loving will of the Lord
and we become children of His light
and bearers of His Good News to the nations,
till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Sat, 19 August 2017
(Is.56:1,6-7; Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8; Rom.11:13-15,29-32; Mt.15:21-28)
“God delivered all to disobedience,
that He might have mercy upon all.”
(In love let me speak, O Lord.)
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Yet our scholars and leaders make it a den of unbelief. Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they are deaf and blind to the light of God. We must not follow in their steps, but speak the truth of the presence of Christ that all might enter the portals of the Lord.
I ask you: How shall the Lord’s “way be known upon earth; among all nations, [His] salvation,” if His Truth is blunted, if His Word is watered down into an alphabet soup? The commentary of the missal I read states of our gospel: “Matthew took this story from Mark… He molded it to bring out a message for the Church of his day.” And so again, and continuously, those who presume to speak for the Church know nothing of God’s Word. In their excessive analyzing, in their presumption and fabrication, they themselves attempt to mold the divine Scriptures to fit the vision of their blinded eyes, unable to see the Lord who stands before them. It is remarkable how ignorant these “intelligent” beings are to the simple fact that “prophecy has never been put forth by man’s willing it,” that “men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence” (2Pt.1:21). And so they seek to make the Bible as any other sacred text, and the Church no different than the next.
Why? So that there will be “an open-minded respect for all who seriously follow their religious convictions, provided of course that they fulfill their obligation to find the truth.” But what they do not see is that the very condemnation of people they seek so anxiously to avoid, they are themselves effecting, in an eternal fashion. For they do not open the loving arms of the Catholic Church and speak of the acceptance of all into its grace and favors. They themselves do not “fulfill their obligation” to the truth for they know not what truth is: that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life is not heard by those who thirst for it most of all.
And they do not see the absolute beauty of the woman’s cry, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Or Jesus’ wonderful exclamation, “O woman, great is your faith!”) They do not see the way is not easy for any to come to salvation – be it the Gentile to whom the gates had seemed to be shuttered (though even throughout the Old Testament the Lord makes it very clear that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… them [He] will bring to [His] holy mountain”) or the Jew who must repent of the hardness of his heart. They do not witness that all must come crawling on their knees to Jesus, and so how can they preach it? Their eyes are not open to see that the daughter who is healed is more than just the woman’s blood offspring, but all the Gentile race; and they do not call all these to the light of His face. May the Lord have mercy on their disobedience. “May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Whole Whale" (second half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, lift us up from the pit
and baptize us with your fire.
YHWH, opposition from sinners we must indeed endure if we are to be called by the Name of your Son. The Cross we must carry through this world if we are to come to where Christ is at your right hand. If we are lowered into a muddy cistern, what should that matter to us, as long as we ourselves are not guilty of sin.
Should we not take great strength in the suffering of Jesus and all those who have followed Him so faithfully to the Cross? Have they not proven that you come, O LORD, to save those who cry out to you? We shall be delivered even from death by the grace upon your Son, and so why should we fear the shedding of our blood?
Your sword of truth cannot but divide the evil from the good, those who look to you from those who take their refuge in the things of this earth. Let your fire come, dear God, and burn away all sin from our midst, that all your afflicted and poor may rise from the ground blessed.
Fri, 18 August 2017
O priest of Jesus and Mary
so dedicated to the Hearts
of our Lord and Lady
and the formation of your fellow priests,
how well you preached
of our need to be one
with Christ our Head;
with what zeal you cared
for the poorest among us –
pray that priests and indeed all Christians
will have hearts and souls
beating and breathing as one
with the Lord,
in union with our Blessed Mother;
may all serve and glorify the Father
by using all their faculties
as if they were His alone.
O that we might indeed
belong to the Son of God
and be ruled by Him,
His own eternal life
coursing through our very veins,
His breath upon our tongue!
Fri, 18 August 2017
(Jos.24:14-29; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-8,11; Mt.19:13-15)
“We will serve the Lord, our God, and obey His voice.”
Like children we must come before the Lord and extol His holy Name. “Completely and sincerely” we must serve Him and He will place His hands upon our heads and bless us. And we will sing with David of the “fullness of joys in [His] presence, the delights at [His] right hand forever.” We indeed will be as children, and He will be our God. Listen to the words of Jesus: “Let the children come to me… The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Oh to know the blessing of being in the Lord’s presence forever!
“My Lord are you. Apart from you I have no good,” cries David to his God. Indeed, how our psalm sings the praises of the Lord and the blessing of our refuge in Him. How well it illustrates the fruit of the covenant the people enter into with God at Shechem under Joshua’s leadership. The Promise having been fulfilled, Joshua calls the Israelites to renew their commitment to the Lord. And though their fidelity to Him will only be for a short time and the stone set up shall soon be a witness against them, yet their vows are those we must all make in sincerity and in truth. Obeying His voice is indeed our salvation. As David sings, “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.” The Lord is ever there for those who trust in Him, who give their lives to Him, who serve Him – who come to Him as a humble child in innocence and love. What greater blessing can we know than to love the Lord who is “a holy God” and so become one with Him? This is our “allotted portion,” this is our “cup” – this is the reign of God upon us to which we are called.
“I set the Lord before me,” our psalm states, “with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” If we but set our hearts on Him, brothers and sisters, there can be nothing that will move us. If we but take our vows in the Spirit of Truth, He will be ever with us. Let us not be afraid. Let us not be afraid that we will fall, that He will leave us. Let us pursue Him with heart and soul; let us give our lives over to Him.
To serve Him and to love Him is our blessed joy. Let us be as children before Him and reap this joy unto life eternal. Let our covenant with Him be written upon our hearts and evident in all our lives, and we shall stand in His presence forever. Set aside all false gods; listen to His voice. Alleluia!
O LORD, may you be our God
and we be your children!
YHWH, lay your hands upon our heads that we might be blessed, that we might have the strength to worship you alone. Let us be resolved to serve only you, to put all false gods far from us. It is you who are our allotted portion and cup, you who hold fast our lot – in you let us take refuge this day.
You alone are holy, LORD; you alone are exalted far above all gods. In you alone we find our salvation, and so, to you alone should we come for blessing. Let us be as children, with hearts set on loving only you, and the kingdom of Heaven shall be ours, for you will then be at our side.
Forgive our transgressions, O LORD, our turning away from you… our breaking the covenant we made to serve you alone. Let our vows be renewed this day, and let them be set in stone before you. Help us by your grace not to waver, not to fear, but to know your innocence in our souls and remain humbly at the feet of your Son.
Thu, 17 August 2017
(Jos.24:1-13; Ps.136:1-3,16-18,21-22,24; Mt.19:3-12)
“I gave you a land which you had not tilled
and cities which you had not built, to dwell in.”
All of our lives come to us by the grace of God, “for His mercy endures forever.” It is never by our own hands that anything good is accomplished. As the Lord says to the Israelites, “It was not your sword or your bow,” by which they conquered the nations – emphasizing that it was He who destroyed them – so we must know, too, that it is the Lord who goes before us and brings us to the land He has prepared for us; and it is by His hand that all our enemies, all obstacles, are conquered.
Our first reading and our psalm speak particularly of the Lord’s finally bringing the Israelites safely into the Promised Land. Joshua, who has by God’s grace accomplished the work commissioned upon him through Moses, now seeks to remind the people of the blessings God has bestowed upon them in giving them this fruitful land, that they might not forget their God and the praise due Him. As Moses prepared the people with his speech before they entered the Promised Land, so Joshua exhorts them now that they have attained their goal; and the focus of both addresses is that they not forget their God who provides them with all things.
In our gospel Jesus teaches us of the blessing of chastity, of the sanctity of marriage and the godly call to celibate life. Of what does He speak but of the Promised Land become quite real in the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem. We are told throughout the letters of especially St. Paul that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that sins against their purity and integrity are the gravest of offenses, for in these the sin is so real, so present, even to our flesh. In these temples we dwell. These temples we must keep holy, we must keep pure. “It is so difficult,” you might say. Then remember the Lord’s words to the Israelites; remember that it is He who “slew powerful kings” before them, that it is by His power they conquered, and you will be able to say with them that it is the Lord who “freed us from our foes.”
Jesus says of celibacy, perhaps the greatest gift of God and the closest to Him we can come, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, only those to whom it is given to do so,” and this is our key to attaining its grace, and indeed the grace of any form of chastity: we must know it is He who works in us and we must seek His blessing “for the sake of God’s reign”; and then He will make us steady and strong in the fields of His Promised Land as we call upon and praise His Name.
O LORD, there is no separating what you have joined;
you do not leave us but in your mercy bless our way,
and just so we should remain faithful to one another –
your promise should be our own.
YHWH, all good comes to us at your command, and so we praise and thank you for your merciful love, for your rescuing us from the land of Egypt and bringing us into your kingdom. We cannot leave sin behind and enter into union with you except by your word and your will; and so, join us together, we pray – never let us be separated from you.
It is then we shall know your goodness fully, LORD, when, one with your Son, we renounce all of this world for the sake of your reign and find your grace at work in our lives. Only then will we enter the Land you promise to your faithful children.
You make all our enemies flee before us, LORD; it is you who conquer all kings of sin. For your mercy cannot be bound, and those who cry out to you, you save.
Wed, 16 August 2017
(Jos.3:7-11,13-17; Ps.114:1-6; Mt.18:21-19:1)
“My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
The forgiveness of sins and the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land is our theme today. Both are very much one and the same.
In our gospel Jesus tells the parable of the merciless servant in order to teach Peter and the apostles of the office of forgiveness which is theirs through his intercession. When one of a king’s officials is unable to pay his debt, he “prostrates himself” before the king and begs for time. “Moved with pity,” the master lets the official go and writes off the debt. (In just the same way the apostles are to forgive those who repent of their sins.) But the same servant who is forgiven then demonstrates no forgiveness to a fellow servant, demanding from him all that is owed and throwing him in jail. When the king gets wind of the servant’s lack of mercy, he removes the forgiveness of his debt and seeks to extract every penny from him. The parable illustrates Jesus’ central teaching: we must forgive to be forgiven. And it indicates the power of forgiveness Jesus, the King, gives to His apostles, the officials, the servants – evident in its being prompted by Peter’s question regarding forgiveness. The Lord reminds them (and us) of the forgiveness they have received from Him, and that they should carry this gift to others.
A metaphor of this power is presented in our first reading. Joshua, Moses’ successor, leads the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land at the instruction of the Lord. Notice what causes the waters of the Jordan to “halt in a solid bank,” allowing the people to pass over on dry land (much as the previous generation had done at the Red Sea). The waters cease flowing “when the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord… touch the water of the Jordan.” Much as Christ and His apostles stand in the breach interceding for the forgiveness of our sins and thus drawing us into the heavenly kingdom, so “the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.” Of old the priests led by Joshua found their power of intercession in the ark of the covenant which held the Ten Commandments; today our priests, led by Peter, find their power of forgiveness in the cross of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us all forgive one another from the heart. Let us flee in fear like the “Jordan turned back” on its course the danger of holding a grudge or failing to share the blessings we have received from Jesus. Let us cross the Jordan to the Promised Land ourselves and serve to draw others into the heavenly kingdom. Let us not disappoint our Father and so know His wrath; let us shine His loving mercy forth till all have crossed on dry land.
O LORD, without forgiveness in our heart,
we shall never cross over into the Promised Land.
YHWH, how shall we pass into the Promised Land if you do not go with us; and how shall you go with us if we are burdened by sin? We need you to go before us, and we need your forgiveness, or we shall be left on the banks of the Jordan.
And how shall we be forgiven our sins and find your presence among us if we fail to forgive those who are indebted to us? O LORD, how can a man with a hardened heart come before you who are mercy itself? He has no place in your kingdom, and so the waters which would have cleansed him of his sins drown him instead.
Send us your priests, dear LORD, to lead us in your stead. May Peter be at the head of your people to bring them as has Joshua, as does Jesus, into your Promised Land. And may we thus be freed from sin that we might follow them.
Tue, 15 August 2017
O faithful king,
loyal son of MotherChurch
and just ruler of your people,
in peace and piety,
humbly and honorably
you executed your duties,
never showing favor to anyone
but always respecting all
and maintaining above all the faith
and the Church which propagates
that faith in Christ –
where is true Christian profession today,
where those in positions of power
truly dedicated to right service
of the Lord and His people?
Do pray for us, dear king,
that others shall follow in your footsteps
as has your son
so that all shall become
faithful followers of our Lord
in whatever position He grants them.
Pray especially for leaders
whose hearts are set on love of God and holy Church.
Tue, 15 August 2017
(Dt.34:1-12; Ps.66:1-3,5,8,16-17,20; Mt.18:15-20)
“This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that I would give to their descendants.”
The promise is coming to fulfillment; Moses looks out on the land the Lord so long ago vowed to give the great patriarchs. And though he shall not enter in and dwell there with the people, yet he has confidence that the promise shall be fulfilled. And though after forty years of struggle he will die here at the border, we know he has a greater reward stored up for him in heaven.
What is this Promised Land now? Where do we find it today but in the Church founded by Jesus upon his apostles and living in the hearts and lives of all His disciples? This is the Promised Land, the heavenly Jerusalem at work in the world even now. Notice that Joshua “was filled with the Spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands on him.” And “the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command.” In the same way the power of the Holy Spirit coming from Peter and the apostles is passed down to this day in the Lord’s Church: the power is indeed from Jesus and His Spirit, but their power works invariably through the deeds of men so ordained. And by that power Joshua will lead the Israelites to the Promised Land even as Peter and his successors lead the Church to our heavenly homeland, insofar as we give obedience to them at the Lord’s command.
Jesus in our gospel outlines the special place the Church holds both in judging offenses and offering prayers. He repeats the Church’s power to bind and loose from fault, a power that begins with Peter but extends to all His disciples so ordained, and reminds them also of the great strength they take when together they call upon His name: “If two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in heaven.” The Lord does not work in a vacuum but accomplishes great and wondrous things through those He lays His hands upon.
What great works were accomplished by Moses: “He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform.” Oh “the might and terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.” Do you think this power dies with Moses? Do you think it has come to an end? No. For his successor Joshua parts the Jordan River by the same power; and now in Jesus and through His Church that power comes to fulfillment. Tremendous are the Lord’s “deeds among men.” If we but “appealed to Him in words,” what wonders would we know. Wars would cease and this world would look much more like the heavenly kingdom He has promised us all. Let us pray with one voice, as one Church, in His Name.
O LORD, what greater gift could you give
than the power upon your priests
to forgive men’s sins?
YHWH, what power you give to those who serve you; what tremendous deeds are wrought by your disciples. For what equal had Moses in the signs and wonders you worked through him? And what greater work can there be than the forgiving of men’s sins, which you accomplish by your priests this day?
Upon your Church you place your power, LORD; where two or three are gathered all prayers are answered. And even judgment you give to Church leaders, the power to discern right from wrong. As your lawgiver had clear vision till the end of his days, to see and know your will and teach the people of your ways, so this day is fulfilled in your Son and in those upon whom He lays His hands the grace of wisdom and understanding to lead souls into the promised land of Heaven. Let us listen to the words they speak to us, let us be obedient sons.
Mon, 14 August 2017
O glorious Virgin Mary,
preserved from sin
from the moment of your conception
and now raised with your Son unto Heaven,
blessed are you among women,
most blessed of all God’s creatures;
kept from all corruption,
you His lowly servant
now reign with Jesus in His kingdom –
pray all generations will call you blessed
that all may indeed share in your blessing
and come by the grace of the Lord
to stand at His side
in the Father’s presence.
Above the choirs of angels,
where poor mortal man is called
to take his place
in union with the immortal Godhead,
you precede us, O Immaculate Mother,
by virtue of your eternal union with the only Son.
Pray we shall truly follow you to perfection,
conquering death by the Cross
and entering the light of the Lord.
Mon, 14 August 2017
(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab; Ps.45:10-12,16; 1Cor.15:20-26; Lk.1:39-56)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory. She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven. And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life. May she bless us from her place with you this holy day.
In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God. We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm. The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.” “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise.
“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst. She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary comes, how much more should we be filled with veneration for the Virgin daughter of Israel? Indeed, it is her voice which causes the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb; with such joy we should approach this sacred day.
As intimately as she was with Jesus, and is with Jesus now, so intimately is she with His Church here on earth as well as in heaven. From her place at His side she watches over us and cares for our needs as any mother for her son. We are her sons and daughters, united to her through the One Lord, Jesus Christ. She comes to us now at the end of the age, granting wisdom and direction to those who seek their place with her Son. Call her blessed, brothers and sisters in Christ, and see her glory shining forth at the right hand of God. In her you will find light greater than sun and moon and stars. You will find the presence of our Lord and our God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, look upon all your lowly servants with favor,
that we might join Mary at your Son’s side
in the kingdom.
YHWH, your promise of mercy is fulfilled in our midst as she who is blessed comes to us bearing your Son. And our hearts leap for joy at her approach, for indeed she brings salvation with her, and so the destruction of death. In her Son is your kingdom, your power come, and to His glory we are all called.
Dearest Mary, who are we that you should come to us, O Mother of our Lord? O what blessing you are for those who rejoice with you in God our Savior! For as He has looked upon you, His lowly servant, so He looks upon all poor creatures and fills our emptiness with His presence. O that we might stand with you at His side this day!
LORD, in Jesus death is conquered and all souls are brought to life again. His Virgin Mother is the first to join Him in your glory, for you prepared a place for her. May we all find the place prepared for us in your kingdom.
Sun, 13 August 2017
O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin
and martyr for our Lord,
well you spread the fame
of the Mother of all graces,
calling all souls to repentance
that she might apply her Son’s blood
to save the straying among us;
and well you heeded our Savior’s call
to lay down your life for others –
pray this day we have such strength,
such conviction and determination
in serving our Lord and Lady,
in publishing the Good News
that by our dedication
we too may serve well upon this earth
in the army of the faithful,
also leading souls
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
that peoples and nations may be converted
and so learn in turn to serve
the surpassing glory of God.
Sun, 13 August 2017
Dt.10:12-22; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Mt.17:22-27)
“In His love for your fathers the Lord was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples.”
The Israelites are the chosen race, and Jesus the Chosen One of that race. Upon them the blessing rests, and in the Son it is fulfilled.
Our first reading tells us that the Lord is a great God, “who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.” And the Israelites are called to be made in the image of their Father, showing His might in this way of compassion and truth. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow His ways exactly,” declares Moses. And so he enjoins upon the people the Lord’s word, “His statutes and ordinances,” which “He has not made known” to other nations, and which serve as their guide to maintaining His light in their lives. “He has strengthened the bars of your gates… He has granted peace in your borders,” our psalm confirms: by the grace of God’s law their children are blessed and become “numerous as the stars of the sky.”
And in our gospel we see again the fulfillment of the Father’s blessing and of His law in the Person of Jesus and the sacrifice He, and we, are called to make. First Jesus makes clear that He is the Son of God exempt from the temple tax – how can the temple pay tax unto itself, or, better yet, how can the temple be paid tax by Him who made it? Jesus is the Chosen One, the chosen of the chosen sons. And His new Law, His new way – which again is but the fulfillment of the law laid out by Moses – is the cross. Moses tells us of the compassion and justice of the Father, who cares for widows and orphans and aliens, and Jesus embodies that love and truth by being “delivered into the hands of men who will put Him to death” for our sin and to show the love God has for us in such utter sacrifice.
Brothers and sisters, allow me to note here that there is no distinction between the love and the justice of God: they are inseparable, the one ever complementing the other. It is out of both love and a sense of justice that the Lord defends the widows and orphans, saving them from their oppressors and gathering them into His arms. His love breeds justice and His justice love. This is the way of God; and this must be our way as His children.
Yes, God loves the world and so He sends His Son to make atonement for our sin. We have sinned and atonement must be made; it cannot be otherwise. And it cannot be otherwise but that God makes that atonement by His love. Let us join to Him as sons in His holy sacrifice. This is our special, blessed call.
O LORD, though in His love He made Himself
an outcast for our sakes, for our lack of love,
Jesus is your only Son.
YHWH, you are the great God, mighty and awesome, your glory far above us and our ways. Yet you bless us with your presence, you proclaim your Word to our hearts – you send your Son into our midst as the Temple in which we may worship you and so join ourselves to your surpassing glory. For this grace let us never cease to praise you; let us never fail to follow in your way.
Your Son shows to us the way we must walk; the way of love He marks out for us in perfectly fulfilling your will, in freely going to the Cross. Here your surpassing love for your poor creatures you reveal to us. And this same love you call us to – this same glory is ours, O LORD, by the mercy He bears.
To this Temple let us come. In your Son let us make our home. He who humbles Himself for our sakes, who joins Himself to us for our salvation, let us follow unto glory. Your Word be fulfilled in our midst.
Sat, 12 August 2017
O brothers united in faith
and in offering the ultimate sacrifice
for the sake of that faith,
for the sake of God’s Church –
pray nothing shall separate
one from another,
but that all members of His flock
and all those who lead His flock
will remain ever united
in His blood
under the See of Peter.
O pray that His Body
not be divided
but that it be healed,
by His Cross.
Into His arms
may we all offer our lives
and so join our Lord
in His kingdom.
Sat, 12 August 2017
(1Kgs.19:9a,11-13a; Ps.85:8-14; Rm.9:1-5; Mt.14:22-33)
“When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance to the cave.”
For the Lord was in the “tiny whispering sound.”
God speaks in silence. His Word sinks deeply into our souls, piercing the spirit within us, and so what can we be but afraid? His still, small voice brings us into His awesome presence.
Brothers and sisters, it is the same NAME of God revealed to Moses the lawgiver that is spoken to Elijah the prophet here on the same “mountain of God, Horeb.” This WORD, this NAME (YHWH), invokes fear, for it silences the tongue, stilling all distraction we might make, and so allows the purity of God to pass into us. What but fear, what but holy wonder, can penetrate our very bones when we become thus surrounded by His presence, when He penetrates the core of our being? “The Lord will be passing by” is the promise made to Elijah; and in the silent WORD the Lord’s promise is kept.
And is it not this same WORD in which Jesus rested when “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray”? Is it not this same WORD the Lord brought to Peter and the apostles when He “came toward them walking on the sea” as their boat “was being tossed about by the waves”? As He stepped into the boat with His blessed Rock, is it not so that “the wind died down”? My brothers and sisters, Jesus is this WORD spoken to Elijah, this NAME given Moses, made flesh in our midst. And in His presence “the strong and heavy wind,” “the earthquake,” and “the fire” become as nothing, as all distractions cease and we find ourselves at the feet of “the Son of God.”
Upon coming from this mountain Moses led his people out of Egypt. Upon coming from this mountain Elijah will anoint a king and a prophet to succeed him. Upon coming from the silence of the mountain Jesus – as He did before in calling His twelve apostles – comes to confirm the call upon Peter and his brothers even as He sees that His mission must increase with the death of John the Baptist. From the silent WORD all is spoken. It is His NAME for which we must listen, that we might “speak the truth in Christ.”
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” And so, let us “hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for He proclaims peace,” and in His peace alone will we discover our true and lasting home. (Fear not the troubling of your soul; He breathes a light calm upon the waters.)
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "WH" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, our hope is in you;
may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.
YHWH, how we hope for your kindness to deliver us from death, to save us from our adversaries, even from our very selves. We place all our trust in you – O may our faith soon be rewarded!
If we but had the faith of Abraham, dear LORD, blessed as he would we be, with no fear for the impending darkness, with hearts set solely on your coming light. The salvation of the just let us await with steadfast hearts, knowing well that you are faithful to all your promises and that you have promised a heavenly dwelling to all who seek their place with you.
To this earth let us not be attached; all of this world let us offer freely to you. You are our only treasure, dear God – you are all that is worthy of our concern. And so, let us await your Son’s return with loins girded and lamps burning. Let us be ever vigilant for His coming, serving well your holy will all our days, and our inheritance we shall find in you.
Fri, 11 August 2017
O tireless worker for the Lord
who when cut off from everything
dearest to you
gave yourself completely to God,
you who have shown the way
of the martyrdom of love,
of dying entirely to self
and serving our Savior
in the sick and the poor,
in whose guise He comes –
pray our lives shall not wallow
pray we shall have
the same thirst for love as you,
that by our love we may die
and so overcome death
to live forever
in the presence of our Redeemer.
Visit us this day in our weakness
that our hearts, too, might be strong
and our lives be laid down
in the blood of the only Son.
Fri, 11 August 2017
(Dt.6:4-13; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; Mt.17:14-20)
“Praised be the Lord, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.”
In our first reading we hear the Shema, the great Commandment of the Mosaic Law – the Lord is God and we must love Him with all our being. Moses exhorts the people “not to forget to the Lord,” who brought them out of slavery in the land of Egypt and is about to bless them abundantly in the Promised Land. Quite graphic is he, and are their practices, in encouraging remembrance of the Lord’s command. His words are to be drilled into the children, bound at wrists and on foreheads, and written “on the doorposts of… houses and on… gates.” And David’s psalm mightily extols the love we should have for our Lord: “My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!” the great king of the Israelites exclaims in his overflowing praise for his saving Lord, in whom he finds his strength. Indeed, the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is our life and our salvation.
And it is the faith at the heart of our praise of God which saves us from our enemies, which redeems us from our sins. Jesus demonstrates this clearly in our gospel today. “What an unbelieving and perverse lot you are!” the Lord declares in chastisement of His disciples and all those who would seek His graces, His healing, for they have not the faith to rescue the possessed boy from the grip of the devil. Where is their praise of the Lord’s Name? Where is their surpassing love of Him? How is it their belief in the Lord’s power to deliver from the bonds of slavery has been so easily shaken? Is it not “the Lord alone” who is God? “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.” Let these words be inscribed upon our hearts, that we will never forget the abundant glory of God which we possess by our faith in Him.
Glorious are you, O Lord, beyond all creatures, beyond all existence! Far above us do you sit, and yet how close to our hearts do you remain. There is none who compares with you; there is nothing in the heavens or on earth greater than you, for you have created all that is. Strengthen our failing love, let it match the glory of your presence, that we might be delivered from all sin and conquer all evil in your divine Name. Give us faith and trust in you, and we will praise you forever. Safe from our enemies, we will glory always in your everlasting love.
O LORD, let us praise your NAME
and so find safety from all our enemies.
YHWH, give us the grace to love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, you who alone are God, you who alone are good. It is you alone who care for us, who provide for our every need. May your blessing remain upon us as we praise your holy NAME.
Where shall we find faith, O LORD, even the size of a mustard seed, we who are such a perverse and unbelieving lot? How can we learn to trust in you and in your power to do all – and to do all through us weak vessels. It is you alone who have all power; by your Word the entire universe came to be and is sustained…. Help us to take refuge in that Word and not in the world of passing things.
We love you, LORD, our Rock, our shield, the sword of our salvation! But we are indeed weak and forgetful souls in need of healing. Increase our faith in you and in your Son, that we might serve you alone.
Thu, 10 August 2017
O bride of Christ
whose poverty matched His own,
whose humility made Him known,
whose love indeed approached
and the embrace of His holy arms –
pray all souls will gaze into the mirror
that is our Lord
born in a manger,
dead upon a Cross,
risen unto Heaven.
Pray we shall be driven on
through the death we all must die,
through His marvelous poverty,
His wondrous humility,
to the indescribable delights
of those who remain at His side.
O that we might be poor as you were poor,
as He is poor
for the sake of every soul,
that we might come to embrace
His blessed sacrifice
and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Thu, 10 August 2017
(Dt.4:32-40; Ps.77:12-16,21; Mt.16:24-28)
“The Son of Man will come with His Father’s glory
accompanied by His angels.”
The Lord God came to “take a nation for Himself from the midst of another, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with His strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors.” As He came with power to rescue the Israelites from the bonds of Egypt, so He will come at the end of time, and is come now, to save us from this world of sin. Indeed, the Son of Man shall come fully into His Kingship on the last day and “repay each man according to his conduct.”
How shall we secure a place in His kingdom? Moses tells the Israelites, in his final address to them before they enter the Promised Land, “You must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below,” and that they “must keep His statutes and commandments.” Then they will be blessed and prosper. Jesus tells us in our gospel, “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps.” As it was then, it is now, only the road is more straitened for the goal is more blessed: now it is even unto death we must be obedient to His ways; but now we find not only life on the land, but glory everlasting.
“Among the people you have made known your power,” proclaims our psalm today, and indeed our first reading recounts the “wonders of old” the Lord wrought in the midst of His people: with their eyes they saw His “great fire,” and with their ears they “heard Him speaking out of the fire.” It is, of course, the presence of Jesus we see before us now and hear speaking in our hearts by the fire of the Holy Spirit. He makes His power known to us now in a far surpassing way. And if we wish to know the glory of God burning in our midst and leading us to the eternal kingdom of light, we must be made holy by its power. “O God, your way is holy,” our psalm states, and if we wish to follow in His way, we must be holy as He.
The Lord is coming with His holy angels. He shall soon be here in all His glory. Now He has left us a blessed cross to place upon our shoulders; it is this most wonderful of signs by whose testings we are led in power to the eternal reign of our Savior. As intimately as you know His humble cross, as closely as you follow His sacrificial path, so well will you know His Father’s glory.
O LORD, your greatness is revealed to all;
let us dwell in your light.
YHWH, how great were your deeds in bringing your chosen people out of Egypt! What wonders you worked among them. To them you showed that you are LORD and there is no other.
But how much greater is the presence of your Son among us this day and the deeds He has wrought for our salvation. How much more clearly you speak to us now, LORD, through the wonders He works – and how perfectly your glory will be known when He returns accompanied by His angels! There will be no greater deeds to be worked when that Day comes.
But until that Day let us walk with you here; let us take up our cross and follow in the way of Jesus, keeping your Word that we may prosper in good deeds ourselves and come finally to the Land you promise, to eternal life, our eyes looking upon your surpassing glory.
Wed, 9 August 2017
O generous soul,
you gave your life freely
to the poor
and your death completely
to the Lord;
a grain of wheat fallen to the earth,
you have indeed produced much fruit,
so closely have you followed Christ –
pray for us miserable souls
who cannot seem to draw near
your thorough sacrifice,
made without fear of the fire
ignited by your torturers,
made in joy of uniting
your death to Jesus’ own.
How shall we approach your love,
your blood so closely mingled
with that of our crucified Lord;
how shall we match your generosity
in serving His blessed call?
Pray we will find the courage
to give everything over to God
and know we are in His arms.
Wed, 9 August 2017
(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26)
“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.
“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”
May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him. “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice. In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, if we serve you,
we will be where Jesus has been
– fixed to a cross –
and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,
for we will come to where He is now in Heaven.
YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance. Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.
O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life. Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice. Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.
What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat? Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.
Tue, 8 August 2017
O sacrificial victim
seeking to bring peace
to a dark world,
you found your wisdom in love,
in the love of Christ
and in His Cross,
and died three times for His sake:
once in entering His Church,
once in taking His habit,
and once in laying down your life
at the hands of the enemies of His peace –
pray, O blessed teacher
and sister to all men,
that the death of this life
be something we shall not fear
but embrace with the same grace
with which the Lord blessed you.
Why should we hold
to the things of the earth
when Jesus waits to embrace us
in His loving arms
and carry us unto Heaven?
Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Tue, 8 August 2017
(Nm.13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35; Ps.106:4,6-7,13-14,21-23; Mt.15:21-28)
“They forgot the God who had saved them.”
But He did not forget them. Though He curses them in our first reading for their lack of faith, and though they shall indeed all – except for Joshua and Caleb – die in the desert over forty years, their children shall enter and take the Promised Land from the five tribes which inhabit it; and despite their repeated faltering in following His word, He shall come to redeem them from their exile once again, and in a full way, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Israelites grumbled against Moses and against God in the desert. Fearful at the report of the “giants” in the land they were called to seize as their own, they failed to remember the Giant who fought for them, “who had done great deeds in Egypt.” “They waited not for His counsel,” nor trusted in His protection, and so they dissembled at what their eyes saw and their ears heard, having not the heart of faith, remembering not the word of the Lord. The people of the land may have been giants, but the Lord towers over all the earth. We must always remember His surpassing power.
And in our gospel we find one of the descendants of those who had made the Israelites so fearful to enter the Promised Land groveling at the feet of the Lord, this Son of David, indeed as a dog before its master. How fortunes have changed. Jesus says to this Canaanite woman, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” See God’s love for His people. See how He has kept the word of His covenant not to forget them. See how He yet chooses them from among the nations, sending His Son in the flesh as one of them. And yet, shall they recognize the grace that walks amongst them? Will their hearts be open to accept Him now, or hardened to His call and blind to His presence will they remain?
This question is asked of each one of us, brothers and sisters, for we are the spiritual descendants of the Israelite people. Will we remember Him and His Word amongst us? Do we recall all He has done for us? This Canaanite woman who begs crumbs from the Lord’s table is greatly blessed. She has the faith required for the kingdom of heaven. Again in Scripture it is a Gentile, a foreigner, who exhibits the faith the “sons and daughters” should have. The Lord uses such as these to shame His chosen ones and show them how far His love does spread, how great His grace truly is – that it can capture even these giants in its net. And so, should it not capture the Jew? And so, should we not be taken in it as well? Now that His salvation has extended to the ends of the earth, shall His chosen be forgotten? Will they continue to forget their place in His land? I pray it shall not be so for you and I, brothers and sisters, but that we will always remember His Name.
O LORD, if only we had faith!
we would never be afraid –
we would certainly be saved.
YHWH, why are we so forgetful of you and your power to save? Why are we who know you, who have seen your hand at work, who have been blessed by your abiding presence – why are we so blind to your unending love for our poor souls? Those who do not know you, who are so far away from you, come on their knees before your Son begging His grace and forgiveness, begging His blessed protection… and these receive answer to their prayers, even as those of your own household wither and die in the hardness of their hearts, in their lack of faith.
Forgive us, LORD, our crimes against you; let us not die in this desert of sin. Send your Chosen One to help us, to save us from the condemnation we deserve for our wicked ways. We are as mere grasshoppers before you, O Giant! Have pity on your faithless sons and gather us into the land you have promised.
Mon, 7 August 2017
O humble preacher
who walked in poverty
with Christ your King
and spoke in power
to destroy lie by truth,
you gathered men around you
to be bearers of the grace of God,
to be men of the Gospel
inspired by love divine –
pray we shall be taught well
and walk with you in Jesus’ way,
that all we do
will be for the salvation of souls,
our lives even as our Savior’s.
May His Word
and deep love for others
lead us in all our work on earth
that always and in all things
we may beseech the Lord
to be with all His brothers.
Pray our hearts be set on His will
and we serve as His apostles.
Mon, 7 August 2017
(Nm.12:1-13; Ps.51:3-7,12-13; Mt.15:1-2,10-14)
“If one blind man leads another, both will end in a pit.”
Aaron and Miriam would lead the people, they would presume the place of Moses; but they are blind, they cannot see who it is the Lord calls, who is His chosen. And so the Pharisees, too, are blind guides, deaf and blind to the presence of Jesus, who is God’s Chosen One. Considering their own gifts and talents but not recognizing from whom they come and what their limits are, their blindness leads both forth into sin against the Lord and against His anointed. And it will only be by crying out to the Lord, as does David in his psalm, that the sin shall be cleansed from them and a “clean heart” will be created within them.
Aaron does cry out, begging Moses to intercede with the Lord for their sister’s leprosy, and so cleansing shall come for her; but we have a fear for the Pharisees, for the Lord says of them, “Let them go their way.” Their way leads to destruction; their blindness shall lead them into a pit. If they continue to turn from the Lord standing before them, they shall multiply rather than find forgiveness for their sins. Oh that their hearts would not be hardened! Oh that they would cleanse their souls and not their hands! Oh that they would see what is first with the Lord, and how He must be followed! “Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,” with David let them cry out to you, Lord, that they might be washed clean of the guilt into which we are all born, that the leprosy might be taken from their spirits.
We all are in danger of blindness, brothers and sisters, and the affliction which comes from its snares. We must never presume upon the Lord or His chosen leaders, or cast from His presence will we be. It is true that all have sinned. It is so that we all fall short. But we have a greater than Moses in our dear Jesus, who cries out for His wounded Church: “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!” when He sees the afflictions upon us. What are the thoughts of our hearts? What comes out of our mouths? Is it a desire to love Him and a cry for assistance, or do we harden our hearts against His truth?
Let us not follow and become blind guides. There was one man chosen to lead the multitude out of slavery and through the desert, and there is one Man now to lead us to the Father’s presence. He has left His Spirit upon His Church, upon His apostles and those who follow His teaching – and most particularly upon His one chosen servant, the rock that is Peter. Let us walk in light, being led along the path He marks out for us by His chosen guide.
O LORD, let us not follow blind leaders
but only those inspired by your Word Himself.
YHWH, let us watch what comes out of our mouths; let us not boast before you or your chosen ones but listen to your voice speaking through your Church. Your Spirit is upon this House and those who sit upon Moses’ seat, upon the Chair of Peter – let us be humble and obedient to your Word.
Then we shall be cleansed of our sin, O LORD; then we shall share in the power you give your holy ones. When we are as meek as Moses, then we shall stand in your presence and be blessed.
O wash us clean of all our sin! Our offenses are ever before you, LORD. Let us not be as lepers cast from the light of your face, but let our spirits be renewed by the grace come through the prayer of your Church.
Forgive us this day our sins against you, LORD; let us come to your priests upon our knees, confessing our guilt openly in your sight, that we shall no longer be blind or fall into the pit but with understanding hearts see your mercy at work within us.
Sun, 6 August 2017
O reformer of the Church
and leader of her priests and people,
calling all to live the Gospel,
to give their hearts
in the service of Christ,
who alone can save men’s souls –
pray that your love for the Lord
and His holy Church
will be known in all
the members of His Body,
and so that apostles will be sent forth
to preach and to heal
even this day.
Pray we shall be one
with Him who made us,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood
and living according to the Word
He speaks to our souls
and all her faithful servants.
It is the Lord alone
who must be our concern;
pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Sun, 6 August 2017
O martyrs of the faith
ordained by the Lord
to shed blood for His sake
and the sake of His Church,
to give witness to the glory of Christ
and so win the crown
of eternal life…
it is in your blood
and by your sacrifice
the Church has grown
and become strong –
pray it shall always stand firm
in confessing the faith
despite any threat
from the powers of this world;
pray every soul
shall give his life in joy
and so emerge victorious
in the spiritual combat.
Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake,
may we, too, come to life eternal.
Sun, 6 August 2017
(Nm.11:4-15; Ps.81:2,12-17; Mt.14:22-36)
“How little faith you have!”
It is the Lord’s exclamation to His holy apostles, to the foundation of His Church – to His Rock. And certainly it applies to all of us as it does, too, to the Israelites in the desert. All need greater faith to come upon the new shore of paradise and find healing for all our ills.
As the Israelites tramp through the desert, they grow tired of heavenly food and desire something earthen. Their faith in God is shaken by the lusts of their belly, and their outcry against the Lord grieves His servant Moses. He finds himself unable to carry this stiff-necked people “like a foster father carrying an infant.” He breaks under the burden of “all the people” even as Peter – who shall have to carry the whole Church upon his shoulders – trembles at the wind upon the sea. Moses asks for death to find relief, and Peter cries as he begins to sink… and the Lord will “at once stretch out His hand” and catch them both, His ears ever open to the prayers of His holy ones. But greater faith will they both need to have to lead God’s people forward. Peter will find it after Pentecost (though not before denying Him three times), and the stubbornness of the Israelites, “the hardness of their hearts,” will keep Moses from the earthly Promised Land; only in the next world will he discover paradise.
The faith we need to make it through the desert that is this world and come into the heavenly kingdom of our Lord and God is spoken by those trembling in the storm-tossed boat: “Undoubtedly you are the Son of God,” and exhibited by the men of Gennesaret. For they “brought Him all the afflicted, with the plea that He let them do no more than touch the tassel of His cloak.” Thus, the same faith the woman in the crowd with the open wound for years had shown Jesus on His way to raise the little child is shown here by these poor sinners, for “as many as touched it were fully restored to health.”
A word from His mouth. A drop of His blood. The touch of His hand. The hem of His garment. A crust of bread from His table… This is all we need. If we have faith, in a moment we will be restored to life; we will be redeemed from all our ills, from all our sins – from all the temptations of our bellies and this desert. The sea may rage and contend with the wind, but we will remain calm and patient in His presence: we will walk on water, we will find “honey from the rock,” if we have but faith. It is not far away, and that the size of a mustard seed is all we need. Find relief from all your distress by calling upon the Savior.
O LORD, what little faith we have! –
how quickly we forget you are our loving God.
YHWH, how can we face the distress of this world, the wind and the waves that threaten to overcome us, the disobedience of those in our care? It is a weight too heavy for us to bear! How could Moses carry your people through the desert; how does Peter hold up your Church? Indeed, it is only by faith we have any strength at all – indeed, it is you who bear all our burdens.
Under the weight of the Cross Jesus has sweated and died. All He has taken upon Himself. And we need but say: “Undoubtedly you are the Son of God!” to the One you have sent to save us, and all our burdens will be lifted from us, and we will be preserved from death. But what little faith we have, O LORD! and how much we need your help.
But you are faithful when we call out to you, dear God. You desire to feed us with finest wheat. You would heal all our ills and bring us to the farther shore, if we but believed in your loving Son.
Sat, 5 August 2017
(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19;
Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36
Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,
they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)
“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.
The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”
So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice. If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes. He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe. After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.
“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.” What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come. It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts. He comes now on the clouds of heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how great is your power,
how bright your light,
and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes.
YHWH, how great is your Majesty! How wonderful your glory! How brightly does your light shine! You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.
And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty? Is He not your very image, O God? And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?
How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice! O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.
Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.
Fri, 4 August 2017
(Lv.25:1,8-17; Ps.67:2-5,7-8; Mt.14:1-12)
“It is really the number of crops he sells you.”
The earth is the Lord’s; it is not our own. And it is only by His grace that we share the fruits of the land. “The earth has yielded its fruits; God, our God, has blessed us,” our psalm declares. These fruits may be bought and sold, but the land is God’s own.
“In this year of jubilee, then, every one of you shall return to his own property.” “This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants.” The jubilee year delineated in our first reading makes clear that we are God’s and not our own or anyone else’s. While we tread this earth, in the forty-nine years leading to the jubilee, land is bought and sold, even slaves are made and taken. But come the jubilee the trumpet is blown and all return whence they came: in this moment we go back to our homes and find the truth – that we are God’s alone. All that is bought and sold is only temporary; these crops are consumed and pass away. The land from which they come is in God’s hands and does not pass away. To it we must return. For He is our portion and cup.
“May all the ends of the earth fear Him!” Indeed, we should fear Him who holds the earth and all its peoples in His creating hand. We should not presume upon God’s mercy and “deal unfairly” as we buy and sell in this world with all that He provides. In our gospel Herod is gripped by fear because he knows he abuses the power given him; he is struck to the heart by John’s preaching because his sin is exposed to the light. But instead of proclaiming liberty, instead of returning to the Lord, he hardens his heart against Truth, presumes license and not liberty, and has “John arrested, put in chains, and imprisoned.” But, of course, the Word of God cannot be chained; and Herod is not entirely wrong when he claims John has been “raised from the dead” in the person of Jesus, for the same Spirit which worked in this most fruitful of men comes forth fully in the Son of God. Good reason has Herod to fear.
And it must be noted that the beheading of John does not bring his end, but his beginning. It returns him to the land whence he has come. It is as his jubilee, his time to “return to his own property” – to enter the kingdom of God. For his body buried by his disciples is but as the crops bought and sold (and a more fair and abundant dealer in the fruits of this earth the world has not known); it is, of course, his eternal soul which finds liberty now in the land of the Lord.
This world cannot hinder the fruits that are of the Lord. In faith let us remain in Him, producing an abundant yield in His Name, that the way of the Lord “be known upon earth,” and that we may come to His salvation at the time of Jubilee. (We shall hear the trumpets resound through the halls of heaven.)
O LORD, there is a land
to which you call us to return,
and this heavenly homeland is all that matters.
YHWH, the earth is yours and all that it holds, and you call us ever back to you. Let us not be possessive of the gifts you give us but remember that the yield of the land is in your hands.
O LORD, you proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land; you call all back to yourself, from whom we come and in whom we find our freedom. Your call to our hearts to glorify you we must heed, if we are to find your blessing.
But if like Herod we harden our hearts against your truth, LORD, if like him we seek to chain your Word with our corrupted hands… if to death we put your call, what shall be left within us? Then in what fear we shall tremble!
Your Prophet comes and walks amongst us; your power is upon Him for good. The trumpet resounds throughout the earth, calling all men to their ancestral homes. To you let us come with nothing but exultant joy at your presence.
Thu, 3 August 2017
O priest exemplar,
O preacher and confessor extraordinaire,
healer of souls
who by prayer and penance
was made holy unto God
and brought others
to that same holiness
before the Lord and Maker
of all poor souls –
pray indeed this day
that our hearts will be set on Heaven,
that our longing will be for the Lord,
and so that by prayer
we shall come to union with Him.
Pray all your fellow priests
will be filled with your same zeal
for the salvation of their flock
and so serve to bring them
to blessed union
with the God of all.
Pray the Lord send out holy priests
to labor in His vineyard
as diligently, as tirelessly, as you.
Thu, 3 August 2017
(Lv.23:1,4-11,15-16,27,34-37; Ps.81:2-6,10-11; Mt.13:54-58)
“Offer as an oblation to the Lord holocausts and cereal offerings,
sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day.”
Our first reading and our psalm speak and sing of the honor due our God. The Lord outlines for Moses “the festivals of the Lord” which must be celebrated “at the proper time with a sacred assembly,” and our psalmist exhorts us to “blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast” in honor of the one true God. We should worship no god but Him and “hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work” on His sabbaths and on the days He sets aside for celebrating His Name. Due honor and praise must be given our God.
But when Jesus comes into the midst of His people, due honor is withheld. Though they cannot deny His teaching, the wisdom and grace He imparts, yet they are blind to His presence before them. They do not know whence He comes. They cannot see that He is of God. And so because of their limited vision, their “lack of faith,” He cannot touch them or heal them as He passes by. Here He stands in their synagogues, but the shout of joy does not go up from their midst because their hearts are shut tight to the divine presence of the Lord. The due praise they are moved to is thus denied, and they break the Law of God.
It is sad when justice is not done to our God. We are the ones who would benefit most from offering due sacrifice and oblation – He has no need of our holocausts – yet we commit this kind of suicide by reserving the honor due Him, resisting thus truly entering His marvelous presence and becoming one with the One who created us and saved us. He invites us to the feast, to the glorious celebration, but we turn down His invitation to join Him at the table of His Body and His Blood. Each day it is prescribed for us to give our souls to Him; in every place the cup of salvation is raised unto the glory of God: here the festival of the Lord is fulfilled in our midst. But how many say they see but bread and wine, they hear but empty phrases. Their hearts are not set on His coming.
We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters; we are His mother. We are those who recognize His presence and give glory to His Name. The world cannot see Him; the world does not know Him. But we know Him. Let us “take up a melody, and sound the timbrel, the pleasant harp and the lyre,” and with all the music our lives can produce give Him glory in our celebration… with all the work we do and all the rest we take each day in Him. Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation. Here the feast begins. Let us come into His presence singing for joy.