Wed, 26 November 2014
(Rv.18:1-2,21-23,19:1-3,9; Ps.100:2-5; Lk.21:20-28)
“These indeed will be days of retribution,
when all that is written must be fulfilled.”
The destruction of the world and the coming of the kingdom is our clear theme today. It is what is written. It is what must be fulfilled.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” that “dwelling place for demons,” cries out an angel by whose authority and glory “all the earth was lighted up.” He calls down the destruction of the evil empire that is the city of this world. And the “assembly in heaven” sing loudly, “He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry,” exulting in the salvation and glory and might of the One God, whose “judgments are true and just!” For though “the blood of His servants… was shed by her hand,” “the great city” is “hurled… into the sea” like “a huge millstone,” “cast down” with such “violence” that it shall never rise again. And so, “happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lord,” who sing “Alleluia!” to the great and wonderful presence of our God in the kingdom that is to come.
And in our gospel Jesus warns of the coming destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and of the final destruction of the earth. Yes, “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles.” Indeed its “devastation is near,” a mere thirty-five years from the death of the Lord. But the devastation of Jerusalem will last beyond its destruction by Rome, by the whore of Babylon, around 70 A.D. – it will continue “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” until the nations’ drinking of the cup of evil to its dregs, and the consequent end of this world brought about by the mighty hand of God. And so the blood of His servants continues to be shed, even as the kingdom is on the horizon.
“Those in the heart of the city must escape it.” Here is a grave warning. You must rise from the mire of the sin into which the world leads you. For “the powers in the heavens will be shaken”; the walls of the city will be torn down, and you will be exposed and alone. “Flee to the mountains” of holiness; take refuge in “the country,” where the Lord pastures His sheep. Do not give yourself to the ways of this world or the mark of the beast – lust not for the gold in its hands. For she is “a cage for every filthy and disgusting bird”; though the appearance may be otherwise, though the cage may be gilded, the horror within shall be revealed in the last days.
Brothers and sisters, we must find ourselves standing with those who “sing joyfully to the Lord,” who “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise.” On the last day we must not fear “the roaring of the sea and the waves” because of our complicity with evil, but “stand up straight and raise our heads,” ready for our ransom to come at the hands of our Lord. Let His goodness which “endures forever” be fulfilled in our souls. (With arms open upon the cross, we shall find our song.)
O LORD, as the great city of this earth
is destroyed by fire,
let us be welcomed into your kingdom by your Son.
YHWH, in you and in your Son our ransom is near at hand, ransom from this world of corruption, ransom to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Your saints have shed their blood at the hands of the great harlot, but never again shall she sing her mocking song – all evil will be silenced before you as you gather your sheep into your arms.
Though by the nations your people be trampled, though great signs come in a bloodstained sky and a roaring sea… though it seem like the end has come upon us, it is only the beginning of your reign to come. O LORD, may we let this world pass away in its iniquity as we join ourselves to you!
Into your gates with thanksgiving let us come, O LORD; in your courts let us praise your NAME. Let us raise our heads to see your Son coming, even as the earth and its wickedness pass entirely away.
Tue, 25 November 2014
(Rv.15:1-4; Ps.98:1-3,7-9,Rv.15:13; Lk.21:12-19)
“By patient endurance you will save your lives.”
Jesus tells His disciples bluntly: “People will manhandle and persecute you.” Some will be “put to death” as they are “brought to give witness on account of” His name – “All will hate you because of me.” Yet in their witness He promises to provide “words and a wisdom” to serve as an impenetrable defense against their enemies… and in the end, after persevering through all suffering, eternal life shall be theirs.
John’s vision in our first reading reveals the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. Even as “seven angels holding the seven final plagues” of “God’s wrath” stand ready to cast these culminating tribulations upon the earth, the Evangelist sees “those who had won victory over the beast and its image” – over the illusory power of the evil one – “holding the harps used in worshiping God,” and singing “the song of the Lamb” who was slain but now lives forever: “Mighty and wonderful are your works, Lord God Almighty! Righteous and true are your ways, O King of the nations!… You alone are holy.”
Brothers and sisters, let us “sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him, His holy arm.” Yes, “the Lord has made His salvation known,” and as those who stand “on the sea of glass” give praise to God with harps in hand, so does “the sea and what fills it resound,” so do “the rivers clap their hands, [and] the mountains shout with them for joy.” Let us join their holy song “before the Lord, for He comes, He comes to rule the earth”; His everlasting “justice” is upon us. And though we may have to suffer for a time in this world of darkness and sin, where light is shunned by the sons of men, yet even in our persecutions this eternal joy should take hold of our souls so that we know not the suffering from the rejoicing – for both are done in His name, and soon the former shall pass away.
Indeed, the song of the Lord is already upon our lips; we wait now only for its eternal resonance before His throne.
O LORD, let your will be done in us
and our souls be saved,
that we might praise you forever.
YHWH, let your song of praise be on our lips for the salvation you have wrought in our midst. With the Lamb let us come into your heavenly kingdom. Through all persecution let us endure with your Word within us.
What is our suffering in this life, O LORD, when the eternal life of Heaven awaits us and comes to us even this day. We shall rejoice with the rivers and mountains and all the earth, for we shall win victory with your Son over the devil and his illusions – that battle is being won even as we speak.
Be with us, LORD, this day, this hour; every hour we toil on this plane, let us toil only with you and for you. And we shall have nothing to fear at the death of the body or our being dragged before the rulers of this age. For we shall never die! For you who are life never die and our home is in you.
Praise you, O LORD our God! Do your mighty works in our midst and we shall glory in your holy NAME forever.
Mon, 24 November 2014
O virgin pure and brilliant,
you gave your life
in defense of the faith,
refuting all arguments to its contrary;
though you were but a child yourself,
you stood strong before your tormentors,
enduring the persecution and torture
they struggled in vain to muster against you,
ever shining the light of purity and truth
before their corrupted minds and hearts –
pray for those who defend the faith
and all those who would explain it away,
that the light of pure reason
will dispel all doubt and darkness
and the verity of the faith be known
by all souls on this earth,
undeniable as it is
by the mind of any man.
Pray we not waste words or time
but live a holy life before God,
giving witness to His presence
in the world and in the Church,
and come finally to rest on His mountain.
Mon, 24 November 2014
(Rv.14:14-19; Ps.96:10-13; Lk.21:5-11)
“Use your sickle and cut down the harvest,
for now is the time to reap.”
Brothers and sisters, you will “hear of wars and insurrections,” and “there will be great earthquakes, plagues, and famines in various places, and in the sky fearful omens and great signs.” “These things are bound to happen first, but the end does not follow immediately.” The end does not follow immediately from the signs, so do not set your hearts upon them – “take care not to be misled” by those whose seed has no root and so jumps up at any indication of travail. There has been travail throughout human history and the end, which is upon us every moment now, will only be fulfilled at the angels’ cry. When this will be, be assured you do not know.
In John’s vision, at the first angel’s cry “the one sitting on the cloud wielded his sickle over all the earth and reaped the earth’s harvest.” At a second angel’s cry another “wielded his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes of the earth… [and] threw them into the huge winepress of God’s wrath.” And so the end comes. But does John see the future only, the past or the present as well… or a time that exists quite apart from our own? And even the angels did not know the time had come until they obediently acted upon the word of their God. And would you yet listen to the anxious rantings of those without eyes, those whose vision does not approach the heavenly reality?
The Lord “shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy” when “He comes to rule the earth.” This you can know even now; of this you can be assured. But when “the heavens [shall] be glad and the earth rejoice… [and] the sea and what fills it resound,” none can say – this word is in His mouth alone, and when the Mighty One shall pronounce it is known to His Heart alone. He has spoken once at the coming of Christ, but when He shall speak finally cannot be ascertained; it is but for us to be prepared for that Day. For He will come again, we know, and the angels’ sickles shall be sharp, and separate with certainty the wheat from the chaff. The time of harvest is at hand.
(In the harvest of the wheat and the grapes of the earth at the end of the age is made perfect this Body and Blood of Christ we eat and drink from our altar today. The saints’ flesh and blood become the Lord’s own.)
O LORD, when harvest time comes,
let us not be fearful but rejoice
in the return of your Son.
YHWH, you rule the world with justice and in the end your justice will be known. There will not be left a stone on another as you reap the harvest you have sown and cast the unrighteous into the winepress of your wrath.
Those who love you, LORD, shall rejoice at your coming, at the return of your only Son and all His angels with Him. They shall rejoice that the end has come and your justice will be fully known. And you shall gather them into your barns.
But those who are not your own, LORD, will not be able to endure that day, for they will be anxious and afraid at the glory that comes to rule the earth. Turn all hearts from the empty illusion of this passing world and set them on your kingdom which passes not away but is fulfilled in the judgment of your Son on the Day of His return. Let us not fear the violence coming upon the land but look to the peace that follows.
Sun, 23 November 2014
O you who were martyred
over three centuries of persecution
in a country so bitter toward the faith,
bishops and priests and laymen alike,
native to the land and foreign-born,
all innocent souls
who suffered even torture in joy,
all for the sake of the Lord and His Church –
pray we shall be as ready as you
to bear witness to the faith
with our lives,
that all as one in the Body of Christ
we will be willing even to die
to satiate our thirst for the kingdom
and for the salvation of souls.
O what joy to be as Jesus,
to walk in His steps
even to the Cross!
No greater blessing could any soul know
on this corrupted plane…
Pray we shall come with you to Heaven.
Sun, 23 November 2014
(Rv.14:1-5; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.21:1-4)
“They are pure and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
Here is answered most definitively the question David sings: “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?” In John’s vision, the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God “was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him were the hundred and forty-four thousand who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.” Here are they who are worthy to stand with the perfect and pure One, for their “hands are sinless, [their] heart is clean”: “on their lips no deceit has been found; they are indeed without flaw.” And so they “receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God [their] savior.” The greatest blessing of all is theirs – remaining in His presence forever.
And these holy ones play the thunderous song of praise “on their harps,” “singing a new hymn before the throne in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders.” They indeed have found their place as firstfruits of the kingdom of heaven, singing a hymn no one else could learn. And again, it is their purity, their perfection in the sight of God, that brings them to this holy place. All they have given over to the Lamb, and so He makes them like Himself.
And in our gospel we see in the simple widow indication of the spirit necessary to enter God’s presence. She holds nothing back from the Lord, but gives “every penny she ha[s] to live on.” Yes, brothers and sisters, every penny must be paid; all we have and all we are must be given to Him. If we are like this widow and like the holy ones who stand before the throne and give all while here on the face of the earth, we shall come quickly to heaven and find our place in His presence prepared. If not, the purgatorial flames await to take away any flaw in our soul, to remove any selfishness from our hearts – to bring us then to give up all that we yet have to Him, that with Him we might truly be. But the saints tell us these flames are not pleasant. In fact, they say they are much the same as the fires of hell, though they shall come to an end.
So let us here and now offer all we have to the Lord; let us seek to serve Him with all our lives, that we might by His grace avoid the cleansing fire and come immediately before Him. Only those in absolute purity follow Him and stand in His place.
O LORD, come;
send your Son a second time
and let us enter your kingdom.
YHWH, that we might be able to stand secure before your Son on His coming Day, that great and terrible day that leads to the eternal kingdom! O that we might eat the fruit of the crystal river that flows from your throne and that of the Lamb, that heals us of all our illness and enables us to live forever! O that we might stand in your holy light, that we might look upon your face, your NAME written on our foreheads! O that we might forever reign with you!
O LORD, let us sing your praise even this day that we might come to sing your praise always in your kingdom. Let us bow down in our worship and kneel before you who have made us. You are our God, you alone; let our hearts not be set on any of the things of this world but on you who have made them all, that we might transcend this earth and all its emptiness and come quickly into your presence. O let us heed your Word this day and ever serve you faithfully. Glory to you, O LORD our God!
Sat, 22 November 2014
O father of holy monasteries
who dug deeply in the earth,
in the heart of man,
and laid their foundation
on the Rock that is Christ
that they might be made in His image,
in the image of Him who created us –
pray we shall love the Lord as He commands
and so be holy as He is holy,
truly reflecting the image of our God
and living in His surpassing peace.
Pray austerity serve well
to make us in the Lord’s image,
to purge from us all that is not of Him;
may we be blessed to serve
with untiring devotion and care
the will of our Lord in all things,
in worship of Him, in prayer,
and in genuine love of our neighbor,
that the Gospel may go forth
to the ends of the earth
not just in words
but in our very flesh and blood.
Sat, 22 November 2014
O successor to Peter,
Shepherd of God’s Church,
Father of all the churches
in the Body of Christ,
these you instructed well;
these you gave a shepherd’s care…
for these and for the Lord
you shed your blood –
pray for God’s Church even this day,
that she shall remain united
under her one Lord and Savior,
each member serving the good of all
as wholly as you have done.
Pray we all work together in Jesus’ name
and in His blood
to do the Father’s will
and so become as holy as He,
as holy as you were blessed to become.
Pray the teaching of the apostles
ever ring in our ears
that we shall never forget
the way the Christ marks out for us,
the way of truth that leads to life.
Sat, 22 November 2014
(Ez.34:11-12,15-17; Ps.23:1-6; 1Cor.15:20-26,28; Mt.25:31-46)
“Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine,
you did for me.”
Jesus is King. It is He to whom the Father has “subjected everything” and who “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet,” until He has “destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power”; and it is He who then “hands over the kingdom to His God and Father… that God may be all in all.” Yes, “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon His glorious throne, and all the nations will assemble before Him.” And He who is the Good Shepherd will separate the sheep beneath His rule “one from another”: it is He who will say to the righteous, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; and to the unrighteous, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” He will judge all souls, for all souls are in His hands. Yes, He is King.
And yet this King is with His subjects; this Shepherd is hidden in His sheep – He is the Shepherd who “finds Himself among His scattered sheep.” Indeed, in His power He promises to “pasture [His] sheep”: “The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal”… but more than this, more than this is our King to us. For He is a King who not only serves the poor and broken, but who is the poor and broken Himself. Though all power and glory and honor are with Him who is exalted as Head over all, He travels with the least of His children; He makes Himself one with the least of all creatures. Does He not say, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me”? Oh how He unites Himself with our humanity! His love is beyond our comprehension.
And, brothers and sisters, it should be obvious what we are now called to do; if we wish to be “brought to life… each one in proper order,” following “Christ the firstfruits,” we must walk in His way. If we wish to sing with David His humble king, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” – if indeed we desire to share in His eternal kingship, we must on the dust of this earth serve Him in the least among us… we ourselves must be the least, as He is. Alleluia to our exalted King!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Coat of Warmth" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, walk among us and shepherd us well
in the reign of your Son,
that we might love as you love.
YHWH, how shall we come to dwell in your House forever? How shall we be the sheep at your right hand? Only by becoming as your only Son. Only by making ourselves present among the least. For you have a compassionate heart which reaches out to all in need. You have hands that bind up the wounds of your little ones, that care for the hungry and the sick. You prepare for all righteous souls a place in your kingdom, and your Son shows us how to be like you, that we might enter your presence.
O Jesus, O Lord, who reign above all as our Head, as our God, as the Savior of all righteous souls… how shall we love as you have loved; how shall we see you in the needs of our fellow man? Blind we are and crawling in the dust – how shall we be exalted with you at the Father’s right hand?
It is by your walking amongst us, O Lord and King, that we are saved from all selfishness and find the compassion and humility we need to enter into the Father’s heart. Give us the rest we desire, set us free from sin and death… raise us up to dwell with you as we make our lives like your own.
Fri, 21 November 2014
O holy virgin and martyr,
you sang a song of love to Jesus,
a song that could not be dimmed,
could not be taken away,
for you were protected
by an angel of the Lord
and willing to give your life
to maintain your love for Him –
pray for us poor souls
of this day and age
from whom purity is so far removed,
who need deep conversion to believe,
to see the angel at your side,
to know the path
to which the Lord calls us,
the Cross which is every Christian’s song.
So far removed, so far removed are we,
and so impassible is the way to Him…
inspire in our souls, dear saint,
the desire for the incorruptible
that beat in your heart,
that we too might sing a song to Jesus
pleasing to His ears.
Fri, 21 November 2014
(Rv.11:4-12; Ps.144:1,2,9-10; Lk.20:27-40)
“After three and a half days,
the breath of life which comes from God
returned to them.”
And these his two witnesses “went up in a cloud as their enemies looked on” “in sheer terror.” For it seemed they had “conquer[ed] and kill[ed]” the Lord’s prophets. Their corpses had lain “in the streets of the great city, which has the symbolic name ‘Sodom’ or ‘Egypt,’ where also their Lord was crucified.” Fire had “come out of the mouths of these witnesses to devour their enemies,” but now it seemed the truth had been overcome and sin and death had won the day. And so “the earth’s inhabitants gloat[ed] over them and in their merriment exchange[d] gifts.” But their death, as with the death of the Lord, was not to last, was only to show the absolute power of the God of life.
And fire comes from Jesus’ mouth today to silence the evil conjurings of the enemies of life. His word is truth and cannot be answered, cannot be gainsaid by even the most unbelieving mind. And what He tells all today is that “the dead rise again,” that death has no dominion in the kingdom of the living God. The Lord is “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and these fathers of the faith along with the prophets and saints of any and all time “are alive for Him,” for He is but Life: in His reign all His children “become like angels and are no longer liable to death. Sons of the resurrection, they are sons of God.” This truth cannot be denied, will not be conquered.
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.” It is He who is “my shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me.” As He was with His only Son, giving Him victory in every battle and final victory over death; as He was with His witnesses who devoured their enemies’ lies and rose from the dust after three and a half days; so He is with all who put their trust in Him, enabling them to conquer all doubt and fear, all surrounding sin and death. For Jesus crucified sits now at the right hand of God, and His witnesses with Him; and all who take their refuge in His power, though they die, cannot but rise to life. Yes, they will hear “a voice from heaven say to them, ‘Come up here!’” and will again have the breath of life. Alleluia!
(Note on “three and a half days”: more than its obvious similarity to the three days the Lord spent “in the heart of the earth” (Mt.12:40) may be an allusion to His approximately thirty-five years spent on this earth (which is half the span of a human life – “seventy is the sum of our years” (Ps.90:10)), itself a kind of death for Him.)
O LORD, let us be set free from death;
raised from the grave,
may we praise your NAME forever
with your angels and your saints.
YHWH, what need we fear if you are with us, you who hold even death in your hand? If we serve as your witnesses, we will be united to you who are life; and even though we die, in the sight of our enemies, in the sight of the devil and death itself, we shall be raised up to Heaven on a cloud. You are our refuge!
With you as our stronghold, LORD, with you as our God, we shall indeed gain victory over all the forces of evil – nothing shall keep us from you who desire our presence in your kingdom.
Make us as your Son who has died and been raised; make us sons of the resurrection, like angels, no longer subject to death. This is our hope, O LORD; this is our desire… Let us not wait long for Jesus’ return.
Then we shall be one in your presence, your holy children, O Most High God. Then we shall celebrate forever your glory in Heaven, all our enemies cast far away.
Thu, 20 November 2014
O holy Temple of the Lord,
preeminent member of His Church,
you who were destined from all ages
to bear the Son of God,
to be His chosen dwelling place…
you were weaned into His Temple;
there you ever remained,
becoming yourself the House of God,
where He now ever stays –
pray we be built into His Temple;
pray we become sons and daughters
In you let us make our home, dear Mother,
that the holiness of Jesus
we shall ever share.
We cannot live in Him
if apart from you;
we cannot be as Christ’s Body,
blessed by the Holy Spirit
and doing the Father’s will on earth,
if you are not our Mother,
if you are not the Temple in which we dwell.
Pray our holiness mirror your own.
Thu, 20 November 2014
(Rv.10:8-11; Ps.119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Lk.19:45-48)
“I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.”
In our first reading, John is told to “take the open scroll from the hand of the angel” and to “eat it.” In his mouth “it tasted as sweet as honey.” And now he who has eaten of the blessed word of God “must prophesy,” must speak the words upon the scroll, despite the sour stomach, the persecutions, it will inevitably bring.
In our gospel we hear that “the entire populace was listening to [Jesus] and hanging on His words” as He taught daily in the temple. The Lord has cleansed the temple of the impure forces at work within it, and for this and for His speaking the irresistible words of Truth He shall know the sour stomach of persecution – the cross is now quite close on the horizon as the leaders of the people seek “a way to destroy Him.”
O Lord, “how sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” “Your decrees are my delight,” “the joy of my heart,” and despite the cross I find in consuming and then having to proclaim them, I shall not cease to eat of your glorious presence. Day to day you come to me. Moment to moment you whisper in my ear. You speak to my heart your wondrous promises, instilling faith and hope in my soul, and I shall not turn back from loving you. May all “peoples, nations, languages, and kings” know of your greatness; may all embrace the inheritance you offer by the death of sin in our lives.
Open your mouth, brothers and sisters, and He will fill it. He will feed you with the food that comes without cost; the sweet Bread of Heaven shall be yours. Even at His altars and from His pulpits it is today offered forth. Eat, and it will bring life to your soul, life that lasts beyond the destruction of the world.
O LORD, let us listen devoutly to your Word
that we might be cleansed of sin
and made whole in your sight.
YHWH, your words are sweeter to us than honey, and your NAME the sweetest Word of all. Speak to our soul this very day; let us hear your truth in our heart, though it bring persecution and trial.
As your Son let us be, O LORD, unafraid of the Cross which comes from doing your will. Let our concern be to cleanse your Temple, to make your House a house of prayer, though it bring the body’s destruction.
We are in your Temple, O LORD, and you call us to eat of your words and partake of your Son’s Body and Blood. This gives life to our very spirits, a life that does not pass away. Be our inheritance, all that we desire in this land.
LORD, we are unworthy to proclaim your words, to receive them in our souls and speak them to the world. How can we prophesy in your holy NAME? Let your Son be with us every step of the way; may His blood strengthen our service.
Wed, 19 November 2014
(Rv.5:1-10; Ps.149:1-6,9,Rv.5:10; Lk.19:41-44)
“Do not weep. The Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has won the right by His victory
to open the scroll with its seven seals.”
“Jesus wept over” Jerusalem “because [she] failed to recognize the time of [her] visitation”; and so she will be destroyed, and so her enemies will “leave not a stone on a stone within” her walls. And John “wept bitterly because no one could be found to open or examine the scroll” “in the right hand of the One who sat on the throne.” The scroll “had writing on both sides and was sealed with seven seals.” How wonderful it must be! But “who is worthy to open” it?
The tears of both will be appeased, both by the One. For whom does John see appear at the throne of God but “a Lamb standing, a Lamb that had been slain” – Jesus, our Savior! who is on His way even in our gospel today to conquer death, to receive the wounds John witnesses, that by His blood He may purchase for God “men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation”… that He might take the destruction of Jerusalem upon Himself and thus redeem her from annihilation. Because of His sacrifice, He is able to read the wisdom of the ages to all waiting hearts, for that wisdom is known only in such dying, only in His redeeming love.
And so, let us join with the elders who fall “down before the Lamb.” Let our prayer unite with “the prayers of God’s holy people,” which rise up like “aromatic spices” before the throne of the One on high. Let us sing the new hymn unto the Lamb who was slain for our sins and so saved us from all tears. “Sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful.” Weep no more but “let the high praises of God be in [your] throats” and “praise His name in the festive dance.”
How great is our God! How profound is the revelation of His wonders in our midst! What joy do we find in His blood! His wounds bring us victory over death, and we reign now in the New Jerusalem as priests in the service of our King, joining ourselves ever to His sacrifice, finding ever the wisdom only He brings.
O LORD, offering the sacrifice of your only Son,
we become priests in your Temple;
this blood we shed He makes holy by His love.
YHWH, you have made us a kingdom of priests who offer continually to you the blood of your Son in our holy prayer.
O LORD, it is we who have slaughtered Jesus, your Lamb, we who by our blindness have caused Him to be pressed hard from every side, not a stone left on a stone in this holiest Temple… Yet by His willing acceptance of our sins He washes clean the blood upon our unholy hands and redeems our souls from destruction. By His blessed sacrifice He makes us holy, as holy becomes the sacrifice we make.
O how can we fathom your love for us, dear LORD? How can we plumb the depths of your Son’s sacrifice? We are left with nothing but high praises for you in our throat!
O LORD, let us exult in your glory this day, in the glory that is ours by the wounds upon your Lamb. Make us a nation of priests offering always this living sacrifice in your NAME. Let us ever praise you and the One who was slain – save us from all sin!
Tue, 18 November 2014
(Rv.4:1-11; Ps.150:1-6,Rv.4:8; Lk.19:11-28)
“O Lord our God, you are worthy
to receive glory and honor and power.”
“A man of noble birth went to a faraway country to become its king.” And of this faraway country and of its king, whom “everything that has breath” should praise, John has vision today.
“Above me there was an open door to heaven”; and a “trumpetlike voice” called the great Evangelist, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place in time to come.” And so, “caught up in ecstasy” he sees the “One whose appearance ha[s] a gemlike sparkle,” the Lord of all, seated upon His throne. And on twenty-four thrones surrounding this King he sees the elders, “clothed in white” with “crowns of gold on their heads,” sharing in their Master’s Kingship. And the four living creatures are at the center, singing, “without pause”: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” And ever do the elders worship Him and join in the song of praise which rises continually to the One through whom all things “came to be.”
“Praise the Lord in His sanctuary… praise Him for His sovereign majesty,” for He reigns justly over all and is indeed worthy of all praise. “With the blast of the trumpet… with lyre and harp… with clanging cymbals” – with every instrument that is placed in our hands, with all the talents He provides here as we wait for His return, we must join in the song of the angels and the saints in the heavenly kingdom and praise His holy Name. For He will seek “to learn what profit each [has] made” when He returns to us from His journey. He will “send for the servants to whom He [has] given” His possessions, and call them to account in His love. Will our deeds then praise “His mighty deeds”?
Glorious is the kingdom of the Lord, and blessed are they who join Him in such marvelous glory. These He puts in charge of His cities; with these He shares His crown and His throne. And everywhere He has a right to reap, for only He does so in love – and there is nowhere He has not sown. All are invited into His radiant presence: to all He gives gifts that will bring them there. And but for their employment does He wait, that they might learn to praise His glory.
Follow Him as He continues “with His ascent to Jerusalem,” and the cross He meets in this city will lead you to the light of paradise.
O LORD, let us rejoice in serving you all our days,
and praise you forever in your kingdom.
YHWH, let all your creatures give you praise: by your will we came to be and were made. We are in your hands; by all that is at our hands may we give you glory and honor and praise. May we know the blessing of praising you with full voice.
Before you let us bow, O God; before you let us throw down our crowns. All we have is from you alone – let us return it to you with great profit. May your glory be multiplied in us and we enter your holy City with joy. Holy are you and worthy of all our praise, and by our praise we enter your glory.
Who are we, O LORD, that you place talents in our hands? Who are we that you would put a crown upon our heads? Are we to be even as your Son, our King and Savior? Is His reward to be our own? For this gift we could not praise you enough, and so we shall praise you forever.
Mon, 17 November 2014
O woman who prayed always
and had great mercy on souls,
whose missionary zeal
led you across the ocean,
thousands of miles from your home,
to educate the poor
and care for the sick,
to bring the love of Jesus
to those most in need –
pray we too shall have a heart
set on service of the Lord
and remembrance of His presence,
that our concern for those apart from Christ
will drive us to great ends,
even to the ends of the earth,
where certainly He dwells.
Pray we shall have your courage
in facing the unknown,
in calling all home
to the Heart of God;
and through all we do for Him
let us remain in prayer,
knowing His Heaven here on earth.
Mon, 17 November 2014
(Rv.3:1-6,14-22; Ps.15:2-5,Rv.3:21; Lk.19:1-10)
“Today salvation has come to this house.”
To two of His houses, two of His seven churches, does the Lord speak today, calling them both to repentance, that they might know the salvation Zacchaeus has found.
In no uncertain terms does the Lord call the churches in Sardis and Laodicea, chastising both dearly, telling the first: “I know the reputation you have of being alive, when in fact you are dead!” and the second (who think themselves “so rich and secure that [they] want for nothing”): “How wretched you are, how pitiable and poor, how blind and naked!” In Sardis there are only “a few persons who have not soiled their garments”; and the Laodiceans, who are “neither hot nor cold,” are promised by the Lord, “I will spew you out of my mouth!”
All the unfaithful, all those who have lost their fervor and who pride themselves on their own works shall be spewed from the Lord’s mouth, shall be cast from His presence. All He calls to “wake-up,” to “repent,” to “buy white garments in which to be clothed, if the shame of [their] nakedness is to be covered.” All He summons to rouse themselves in sharpest and truest of words, for “whoever is dear to [Him] [He] reprove[s] and chastise[s]” – for He knows that only by the jettisoning of our sin will we find the salvation He so dearly desires for each of our lives.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord “stand[s] knocking at the door. If anyone hears [Him] calling and opens the door, [He] will enter his house.” And He will sup with him, and He will sit him on His own throne. Listen to the promise our Lord makes: “The victor shall go clothed in light. I will never erase his name from the book of the living, but will acknowledge him in the presence of my Father and His angels.” And see how the promise is fulfilled in Zacchaeus, who in his great fervor “climbed a sycamore tree which was along Jesus’ route, in order to see Him”; who in his great generosity promised “to give half of [his] belongings” to the poor – and who has had the Lord in to sup in his home and has heard the blessed words spoken over him: “Today salvation has come to this house.”
And so, strive with all you have to be as “he who walks blamelessly and does justice, who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.” Let His chastisement bear blessed fruit in your life; turn from your sin… and you too will know the victory the Lord Himself has won for all faithful souls.
O LORD, save us from our sin
by your chastising Word,
that we might walk in white before you.
YHWH, let us hear and heed your Word: let us repent of all our sin that we might enter in and sup with your Son.
Do we not have ears, O LORD, and should we not have hearts set on you and the doing of your will? And yet, are we not lacking in zeal, are we not pitiable and poor in accomplishing your work? Are we not dead? Have we not soiled our garments instead of purifying our souls to receive your blessings? O how shall we turn from our sin to your Son’s presence among us?
Save us, O LORD, from the thought that we are safe and secure, from putting our faith in the riches we amass in this world. Let us know and remember the only true riches are of the Spirit and come to us only by your grace. And only by your grace do they remain.
Make our hearts blameless, dear LORD; cover over our nakedness with your white garments, and we shall rejoice in your glory.
Sun, 16 November 2014
O charitable soul
who gave all you owned
for the sake of the Gospel,
though endowed with great riches
you embraced lady poverty
that you might serve the Lord
with a heart beating for the poor.
With your own hands
you tended the sickest;
into your own home
you welcomed the most destitute –
pray that in our small way
we too may follow
in the footsteps of Christ
and give our lives
to the poor whom He loves
and to prayer in His presence.
Pray our hearts, too,
may know His tender care for souls
and our own souls
meditate upon Him night and day;
pray we too shall give up all
to find His holy kingdom.
Sun, 16 November 2014
(Rv.1:1-4,2:1-5; Ps.1:1-4,6,Rv.2:7; Lk.18:35-43)
“Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.”
A blind man sat begging by the side of the road. “Hearing a crowd go by the man asked, ‘What is that?’” And he was told that “Jesus drew near,” that all he could possibly ask for was upon him – and so he begged with the greatest sincerity he could muster.
And as the end of the Church year approaches, we hear from the Lord’s beloved “servant John” “the revelation God gave to Jesus Christ”; he “bears witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” telling us truly that “the appointed time is near,” that He “who is and who was and who is to come” is passing by the way. It is time to call out to Him, and know His healing touch.
To the church in Ephesus specifically, the Lord instructs His apostle to speak today, to commend the disciples there on their “patient endurance” and their lack of tolerance for “wicked men,” and to call them back to their “early love… the heights from which [they] have fallen”; thus do they need to “repent,” to call out themselves to the Lord for renewal of their innocent hearts and their burning love for God. You see, all have their own reason to call out to Jesus as He passes by.
What need have you to call upon the Lord’s Name as He passes by here at the end of days? Do you walk at every point in “the way of the just,” or are you somehow blind to His presence, or are you in some way cold in your love? Or have you any of innumerable other sins that keep you from His kingdom? Be careful. The time is indeed short, and we are indeed sinners – and Jesus is indeed still passing by to heal us. Do not be afraid to cry out to Him, to leave “the company of the insolent” and find His redeeming graces. Let the light of faith burn in your soul that you might know “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven lampstands of gold.” His holy light is coming now upon the earth, and you must join yourself to it.
“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
O LORD, heal us of all our sin
that we might walk in the way of your Son.
YHWH, grant us vision to see the appointed time is near and Jesus is passing by to heal us of our blindness, to return us to our early love. And let us not be afraid to cry out to Him.
Bring us healing, Lord Jesus, for you have come from the Father and pass through our midst this day. To us you bring His surpassing love; may we join ourselves to it and follow you along your way.
You speak to us by your Spirit, LORD; you inspire your apostles with your Word. You teach us of the way to you, and that with all our heart we should walk it. Help us to meditate on your Law day and night; ever let us dwell in your light.
Make us always fruitful, LORD, as we delight in serving you. Let our hearts cry out in joy for the blessings you bestow on faithful souls. Make us your own and let us enter your glory.
Sat, 15 November 2014
O blessed mystic of Jesus,
you were saved by Him
from a life of vain pursuit
of the things and thoughts
of this world
to find union with His Sacred Heart,
which holds all heavenly treasures.
You see Him now
(do you not, dear virgin?)
in His perfection,
even as you saw Him,
though only in the shadow of vision,
here upon this plane –
pray we shall also know
His blessed perfection,
the beating of His Sacred Heart
within our own,
the love which surpasses all understanding
illumining our soul…
that no more will we ever desire
than to be with Him
where you are now,
in His eternal glory.
Sat, 15 November 2014
O devout mother and queen
whose concern was ever
for your children and your people,
that they might ever be fed
in body and in soul
and so grow unto the fullness of Christ –
pray for us, O holy queen,
that we the Lord’s poor subjects
might receive from His hand
all we need
to become His sons and daughters.
In prayer and gratitude
let us remain ever before His throne,
that by such holy fear
we might be made fruitful as you,
bearing children unto Him
and raising them to His glory.
A heart for the poor
may we ever nourish
that, as poor as we are,
by our King’s gracious blessing
we might give what He provides
until all enter His reign.
Sat, 15 November 2014
(Prv.31:10-13,19-20,30-31; Ps.128:1-5; 1Thes.5:1-6; Mt.25:14-30)
“When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.”
And so the Lord is pleased to bless His “good and faithful servant[s]”; for His Church is as His Bride and Her faithful members He invites to share His joy.
With more than the talents of “a man going on a journey” are we entrusted by the Lord. To us He is more like the husband “entrusting his heart” to his wife. All He gives over to us, even His very life, His absolute love – His blood itself He pours out for us. And are we as the good wife who “works with loving hands,” who “puts her hands to the distaff and [whose] fingers ply the spindle”? Do we work diligently with all the gifts the Lord imparts to us and thus increase their yield? Are we as she who “brings [her husband] good, and not evil, all the days of her life,” delivering unto the Lord the honor due His Name? If so, then as the worthy wife receives “a reward for her labors” and as “her works praise her at the city gates,” so shall the Lord richly bless our labors, and the angels at the gates of heaven welcome us with song.
Brothers and sisters, “You are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober,” doing the Lord’s will in all things. Let us not be as the “useless servant” who “dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.” The graces the Lord gives us are not meant for such darkness, but indeed to be brought into the light of day that they might spread “like a fruitful vine” throughout the face of the earth. This is the call of His Church, and we must be faithful in the work with which we have been entrusted: His love must reach to the ends of the world.
And each “shall eat the fruit of [his] handiwork” when the day of the Lord comes upon us. The soul which has courted darkness in its distrust and laziness shall find the spouse that awaits her; but “blessed shall [she] be, and favored,” “who walk[s] in [the Lord’s] ways!” She shall indeed not fear the “sudden disaster” that comes upon the wicked, but shall celebrate “the prosperity of Jerusalem” in her Master’s house “all the days of [her] life.” For in none does the Lord take greater delight than she who returns an increase of His invaluable love.
Wriiten, chanted, and produced by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt.
Music: "We Have Bodies" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us do your work and your will;
let us be fruitful in serving you
until the Day of your Son’s return.
YHWH, you give us gifts, skills and talents upon this earth – even our bodies and minds are from you. But if we employ them not, it is as if we have them not at all… and soon they are taken from us. We must offer all we have back to you, serving you well with all our lives, and we shall be blessed with your abundance.
Into your kingdom let us come, O LORD! Let all we do lead to this grace. Make us fruitful in your Name, ever working with loving hands, and every blessing will be ours – and we shall know the joy of your presence. Let our hearts be set on you alone.
What have we, LORD, that you have not given? And what should we do but use well what is at our hands? If we wish to be wed to you in Heaven, then your heart we must hold within our own. It is your heart you would give us; let us live as your children in the light of this day.
O LORD, may your Son not find us sleeping upon His return, but serving you faithfully, walking ever in your way.
Fri, 14 November 2014
O patron of scientists and philosophers,
you of brilliant mind
who taught with both
human and divine wisdom,
who led your students
to deeper and purer understanding
of God and His world
and most especially His Church –
pray we partake of your teaching this day,
that the light you brought
to the minds of your flock
will not be lost
by eyes blind to the truth.
Pray the word upon your soul
will bring us closer to the Lord
that we might partake of Him
in sacrament and in preaching.
O how shall we see
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not serve to guide us
to the glory that surpasses
our poor ability to comprehend Him?
Fri, 14 November 2014
(3Jn.5-8; Ps.112:1-6; Lk.18:1-8)
“When the Son of Man comes,
will He find any faith on the earth?”
So beset by weakness are we on this earth, brothers and sisters. So doubtful, so fearful… so seemingly without help, alone. And so our faith does falter, and so we do fall. And we wonder, “Where is God?”
But the Son asks us today where we are. He emphasizes “the necessity of praying always and not losing heart.” Why should we think that God does not listen to us? If the corrupt judge can give justice to the widow who begs him constantly for her “rights against [her] opponent,” “will not God then do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night?” Do we make Jesus a liar by failing to believe in the Lord’s “swift justice”? Is this corrupt judge more reliable than He?
And listen to what John writes to Gaius. He says to him, “You demonstrate fidelity by all that you do for the brothers.” He has “testified to [his] love before the church” by caring for its members. And John now asks this beloved disciple to support those who pass through his neighborhood carrying the message of the Gospel to the nations, to “help them continue on their journey.” And we can be assured that this child of God does continue to demonstrate his generosity, that “he is gracious and merciful and just” toward his brothers in their need. And if this man “dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright,” shall the Lord Himself then leave us alone when we call out to Him in our need?
Why are we of such little faith? Why do we so easily falter in our trust of the Lord’s protection, of His grace at work upon our souls and His providential hand in our lives? If weak human beings can give aid to those in distress, cannot God? Are not all “wealth and riches… in His house”; does He not hold all the world and all our souls in His loving hand? Then why should we be afraid? Why should we think He does not answer our prayer? It is not because He is not listening that we have not the good we desire – this lack is from our lack of faith.
Brothers and sisters, be encouraged by the Lord today to never give up hope, to never give up our petitions to the Lord. He does not need to be worn down, but is ready at every moment to help us. Seek but to believe in Him.
O LORD, your Son will come to us
as the answer to our prayers –
let us do all we can this day to bring Him here.
YHWH, why have we not faith in your care for our souls? Why do we so easily cease praying to you? Do we not think that you can answer our calls? Those who follow in your way care for those in need, and so should we not trust that you watch over us this day?
O LORD, take our lack of faith from us; let us cease to doubt your loving concern. Help us to open our mouths and cry to you, who know what we need before we ask. For if we do not ask, you cannot answer – how can a prayer be answered that is not made? You wait for us to turn to you… let us do so this day in faith.
And let us then treat others as you treat us; let us respond in generosity to their needs. Let us be ready to help your children on their way, that your work might be accomplished on this earth. Your light break forth upon all just souls.
Thu, 13 November 2014
(2Jn.4-9; Ps.119:1-2,10-11,17-18; Lk.17:26-37)
“Anyone who remains rooted in the teaching
possesses both the Father and the Son.”
While “anyone who is so ‘progressive’ that he does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God.” Rather, he possesses but the emptiness of this earth.
And what is this teaching so necessary for our salvation, for knowing and possessing the Lord our God? It is indicated clearly in John’s request of the Lady to whom he writes (whom we may take as the Church herself): “Let us love one another.” Here is the commandant we “have heard from the beginning,” which we need to find rooted in our hearts – this “commandant is the way in which [we] should walk.” For “happy are they… who walk in the law of the Lord… who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their hearts”; for they shall find Him, and they shall possess Him forever.
Love has come, brothers and sisters: Jesus Christ has “come in the flesh.” And though the people in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot were particularly wicked and meriting condemnation from the Lord, they at that time did not have the Son of God come in their midst. And so if their punishment was great for turning from the way and the call of God, how much greater will be our own if we set our hearts on the possessions of this land and thereby lose Him whose love knocks upon the door of our hearts? It is now among those who deny Him as if they stand under the brightness of the noonday sun and say, “I see no light. I feel not its heat.” If we refuse to open our eyes to what is so obvious, what punishment will be enough for our souls?
Learn the lesson of the two men sleeping and the two women “grinding grain together.” Though they lie and sit or stand in close proximity to one another in this place, seeming no different one from the next, yet “one will be taken and the other left.” While one flies up to the reaches of heaven, the other will rot like a carcass on earth. And why? Who can tell which one says within his heart, “I treasure your promise, that I might not sin against you,” and which has turned his heart from the Lord? “On the day the Son of Man is revealed,” so will be the thoughts of all hearts. And He who is Love alone will know who owns the love He alone imparts. He will say who has walked in His teaching.
O LORD, your Son calls us from our earthly lot
to your kingdom on high –
let us walk His way of love that leads there this day.
YHWH, let us walk in your way, in the way your Son has marked out for us, He who has come in the flesh to show us indeed how we should live, how we should walk in this world.
And your way, O LORD, the way Jesus has trod, is the way of love. This is your commandment to all souls; this is the truth He has revealed to all eyes. And love is not turning to our own desires, putting faith in our possessions, in the empty things of this earth, but rather the laying down of our lives and all these things about us that we might come to you and serve you alone with all our lives.
Let us not be blind, dear LORD, to your Son’s coming and to your command. Let us not continue in ignorance even as He stands at the gate. Our very flesh let us give to you that the flesh we might transcend as we walk in purity with your Son. Take us unto Heaven on the Day of His return.
Wed, 12 November 2014
O mother of the faith
and helper of the stranger
in the New World,
you sought with great diligence
to preserve the true religion
in a land hostile to Mother Church,
to assist those in spiritual
as well as physical need –
pray a measure of your missionary spirit
be poured out upon your daughters,
upon the many houses you established
and all those served by them.
Pray the country you took to heart
and which became your own
will turn resolutely
to the Lord and His blood
and away from the destruction
of its soul,
upon which it seems so set.
Pray the faith shall be restored
from shore to shore
and this nation in truth become
a light on a hill.
Wed, 12 November 2014
(Philm.7-20; Ps.146:7-10; Lk.17:20-25)
“The reign of God is already in your midst.”
Brothers and sisters, Jesus the Christ has come, He has “suffer[ed] much and be[en] rejected by the present age”… and He has risen. This is all you need to know. There is no need for “careful watching when the reign of God will come,” for it is not “a matter of reporting that it is ‘here’ or ‘there’” – it is among us today. And when it shall be fulfilled, you will never know.
“Through you the hearts of God’s people have been refreshed,” Paul writes to Philemon: does the kingdom of heaven not come through this man? “Refresh this heart of mine,” the Apostle adds – does he not call for an increased manifestation of the kingdom? A slave has stolen from his master and run away. Paul has discovered him and now calls him, “My child whom I have begotten during my imprisonment.” The slave has run to the prisoner and found freedom; does not the kingdom of God come to this place? And certainly Philemon will accept his slave back as a brother in the Lord, his arms open like the father of the prodigal son… how the Lord does work among us.
And our psalm presents a litany of the Lord’s work: yes, “the Lord sets captives free,” as we see in our first reading; but whenever the eyes of the blind are opened or the widow and the stranger are cared for, whenever justice is secured and the hungry are fed… the Lord is at work, His kingdom comes. This world is in His hands, after all, and whenever love is “freely bestowed” by any of us toiling upon this earth, the Lord shows Himself indeed in the beat of our heart and our arms open wide. It is not difficult to see.
You must remember, my brothers and sisters, that all prophecy has been fulfilled; all revelation is complete in the coming of the Son of God, in His death and in His resurrection. There is nothing left to await but the final day, a Day about which false prophets conjecture and faithless souls run anxiously about to find, only moving themselves further from its presence. “The Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other” – don’t worry, you will not miss it; nor can you mistake it. Your purpose in the meantime is to spend yourself bringing His kingdom to this earth in the love you share with your neighbor. In such love come only from Christ, the kingdom is already here.
O LORD, let us be useful to you
in these days before your Son’s return –
let us bring your presence to this world.
YHWH, make us useful to you and to your Church, that we might serve to bring your kingdom to this dark world of persecution, to this prison in which we dwell. Though we be apart from you as long as we are in the flesh, let us do your work while here, and captives will be set free.
You are with us, LORD, in those who give sight to the blind, in those who instruct the ignorant and lead them to your love. May we be brought to share in your surpassing love! Help us to feed the hungry and care for the fatherless and widows. May every stranger be welcomed into the arms of your Church.
Then we shall find a home in this world, a dwelling place in your arms, O LORD. Though there be suffering every day, you will be with us through it all; your Son will bear every blow in our stead, and we will come in this way to your eternal dwelling. Let us have no fear about His return, for He is with us in this prison.
Tue, 11 November 2014
O shepherd thirsty for souls,
whose only desire
was the unity of the Church
under Christ her King
and on the Rock of Peter…
for this cause you gave your life;
for this call from the Lord
you shed your blood –
pray this day all may be one,
that none shall shrink
from fulfilling this desire of Jesus
but by the power of the Holy Spirit
and with great courage
to slake the thirst of the Lord.
We are all children of one Father;
we have but one Brother in Christ
and one Mother in the Catholic faith.
Pray this truth shall prevail
over the deceptions of the devil,
who would separate and conquer souls
but who is turned back from his evil course
when we are willing to die for one another.
Tue, 11 November 2014
“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Such is the cry of the ten lepers standing at a distance from the Lord. And such is the cry that wells up in all our hearts when we realize we must keep ourselves far from His company for the sin that festers like a disease in our souls. Desiring no longer to be outcasts from His love, we call out… and He answers.
Do you think you are something different than these lepers? Do you think your status with God is somehow raised above these poor souls? Beware. Heed the words of Paul: “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and far from the faith; we were the slaves of our passions and of pleasures of various kinds.” Was our soul not then in a diseased state? And was it any work of our own that brought us healing, that brought us to “baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”? No. Rather, “when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy.” So, by rights we should yet be in the mire of our sin; we should yet be as lepers outside the gates of salvation. But His “Spirit He lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs, in hope, of eternal life.” And do we appreciate what He has done for us?
Indeed the Lord indicates today that most of us are ungrateful wretches when He asks, “Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine?” at the sight of the single leper returning to give praise to God. “Where are the other nine?” Only one of ten falls “on his face at the feet of Jesus”; and to how many of us does this lack of thanksgiving speak? And so, how many of us remain with more than a trace of our leprosy?
“He refreshes my soul,” David sings in humble appreciation of the blessings of the Lord he finds before himself in all things. It is He who gives “repose”; it is He who “anoints [our] head with oil”… it is He who cleanses our soul. And if we fail to realize this grace at work within us, then a measure of pollution remains, and still we need to cry out to our God, and fall on our knees in praise for His answer. Ever is He our Master; ever are we His slaves – ever do we need His mercy to live in righteousness each day.
O LORD, save us from enslavement to our passions –
let us have faith in you
and in your grace upon our souls.
YHWH, our faith has saved us, has it not? Our faith in you and in your Son has brought the Spirit upon us to cleanse us from our sin. Now we have new birth and look forward in hope of eternal life. You are ever at our side as we travel through this dark world.
But do we give you due praise, O LORD? Do we see what you have done for us and bow before you in adoration, in recognition of your greatness? Without your grace we would yet be lost – help us remember it is only through you our cup overflows. And so, let us remain with you forever.
What sin has been ours in the past, O LORD! What disease has troubled our souls! Though we have been rebellious before, let us now be obedient to your command and serve you and others as you call. The passions and pleasures that once enslaved us cast away, and let us be humble in your sight.
Mon, 10 November 2014
O sacrificial shepherd,
you gave your life for your flock;
a poor and humble man,
you gathered the poor and humble
of the Lord
into the arms of His Church,
where they might be fed with His grace.
Ever with arms upraised
you taught your people ever to pray
and founded many houses of prayer;
peace you brought to your church
that all might serve the one true God –
pray we shall be humble and lowly
as you, dear shepherd,
and so mirror the life of our Lord.
Pray our lives be entrusted to Him,
that whatever we do be in His will;
whether we live or die,
let it not matter to us,
but only let matter the laying down of our lives,
that by such sacrificial offering
God’s Word might go forth
and all souls be welcomed into Abraham’s arms.
Mon, 10 November 2014
(Ti.2:1-8,11-14; Ps.37:3-4,18,23,27,29,39; Lk.17:7-10)
“Live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.”
Brothers and sisters, be “eager to do what is right” as servants of the Most High God. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” For “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever.”
Paul gives instruction to all on how to live a godly life here on this earth. He “tell[s] the older men that they must be temperate, serious-minded, and self-controlled”; the older women that they must give “good example” to the younger women, teaching them thus “to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, loving at home, kindly, submissive to their husbands”; “the young men to keep themselves completely under control”; and those who teach to “have the integrity of serious, sound words to which no one can take exception.” Then “no opponent will have anything bad to say about us”; then we will have given right witness to Christ in this age.
And “when [we] have done all [we] have been commanded to do” by the Lord and His apostles, when we have fully served Him and one another in our life on this earth – when we have finished “prepar[ing] [His] supper” and “put[ting] on our apron and wait[ing]” on our brothers – what should we do but say in all humility and in all truth: “We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty”? For this is what will assure us that we will “abide forever”; this will prove that we are as our Lord, “who sacrificed Himself for us,” and so, with “the just [we] shall possess the land, and dwell in it forever.”
Our God has come “to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse us for Himself as a people of His own.” Let us show we are that people by ever being “sound in the faith, loving, and steadfast,” doing all for the Lord and our neighbor. In this way we indicate that even upon the dust of this earth “we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ.” In this way we attain to the age to come, where we shall be seated at His table.
O LORD, help us to turn from all sinful ways
and complete the work you command us to do.
YHWH, we are useless servants; help us to fulfill the tasks you set before us, to be eager to do what is right. For this is what will gain us entrance to your kingdom, to a place at your table – if we live temperately, devoutly and justly in this world, as even your Son has done.
Should we fall into disrepute? Should we not be self-controlled? It is serious work to which you call us, O LORD, and so let our words be sound and our behavior above reproach, and to you we shall be as witness and bring our souls with the souls of others into the security of your blessed land, where we shall dwell forever.
We are blessed to do your work, LORD, to serve you in this world. For in such work you are with us; your will is accomplished even in this flesh and bone. And so, let us give ourselves entirely to you and to your ways, submissive in all things, and we shall be redeemed from all unrighteousness and cleansed for your kingdom.
Sun, 9 November 2014
O true Pastor of God’s Church,
defender of the faith
from forces without
and within her walls,
you proved that this House
founded by Christ the Lord
shall never succumb
to the powers of hell
but ever stand strong
against all tides of the world
and the evil influence of the devil –
pray though the flesh be weak,
though every member be prone to sin,
that all souls set on the Rock
that is the bark of Peter
shall repel every attack
against the integrity of the faith
and stand with Jesus
as king over the flesh,
as priest offering pure sacrifice,
as prophet speaking His words…
and so until the end of time
may God’s Church be ever blessed.
Sun, 9 November 2014
(Ti.1:1-9; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.17:1-6)
“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?”
“He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.”
Of priests and holy men our readings speak, yes, but most especially of bishops, who are most entrusted with the Word of God, with the preaching of the Gospel of eternal life… and how silence in this regard leads but to condemnation.
Paul sets the standard for the “servant of God.” He presents himself “as an apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of those whom God has chosen and to promote their knowledge of the truth as our religion embodies it.” Here is the bishop in sum. Here is the priest in sum. Here is the sum of any sent to teach in His name: increase the faith and knowledge of the flock. And in this service certainly a priest must be “irreproachable,” and “the bishop as God’s steward must be blameless.” He must be “steady, just, holy, and self-controlled. [And] in his teaching he must hold fast to the authentic message, so that he will be able both to encourage men to follow sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.”
But how many of our leaders hold to Paul’s words? How many encourage the keeping of sound doctrine, and, perhaps more to the point, how many refute error? Worse yet, how many travel merrily along with the error of the day? “If your brother does wrong, correct him,” Jesus says. But how many tell their flock, “You should not fornicate or commit adultery” or “You should not abort a child or contracept him” or “You should not be ‘self-willed or arrogant, a drunkard, a violent or greedy man’”? And how many freely engage in sins such as these themselves? Yes, Jesus says, “If he repents, forgive him” (even “seven times a day”) of the brother in your care; but how can he repent if he knows nothing of the wrong he does, and how can you instruct him if you are committing the same sins as he? And so where is true forgiveness?
“Scandals will inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come.” It is a terrible warning the Lord gives today, particularly to those entrusted with much, for how great will be their punishment for the abuse of their call. And of course, the source of such travails in the wayward soul is simply a lack of faith. Not “the size of a mustard seed” or a speck of dust is the faith of too many. If even it could be detected with a microscope it would show itself in good works. But it is not there. And so, who indeed shall climb the mountain of the Lord? How many vainly grovel at its base? And if our leaders do not climb, how shall any follow? So, who shall come to holiness?
Let us awaken to the call of our God! Let the Church serve as His presence in this world. Let us be “the race that seeks for Him,” putting holiness before all else. And let the ordained among us lead us in this way.
O LORD, let us be men of faith
who carry your Word forth blamelessly,
that all may come to see your face.
YHWH, how shall we serve you if we have not sinless hands or clean hearts? And so, how shall we find our reward in your kingdom? Will we not rather be cast into the sea for our unfaithfulness, for our failing to hold to your true teaching and leading others astray? Help us who are far from you. Forgive us our sins.
Do we not travel blindly in this day, dear LORD, lacking the guidance of holy shepherds? Does your people not suffer for lack of knowledge of you and your ways? Is the truth not hidden from our eyes by the silence of your teachers? And are many not led away from you by their example?
Who is there that stands in your stead; who climbs your holy mountain, making a way for others to follow? There are a few, no doubt; but are there not more who are afraid to speak in your NAME? Help us, LORD, for your Church shall be lost without the guidance of good shepherds. Encourage all souls to seek your face, and so find the blessings of Heaven.
Sat, 8 November 2014
(Ez.47:1-2,8-9,12; Ps.46:1-3,5-6,8-9; 1Cor.3:9c-11,16-17; Jn.2:13-22)
“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.”
On this the feast set aside to commemorate the cathedral of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, himself the founding stone upon which Christ builds His Church, we hear much of temples. In our first reading Ezekial sees in his vision, “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple,” water which brings life to the great sea and the fruit that grows upon its banks; the water that gladdens the holy dwelling of the Most High is spoken of in our psalm; Paul tells us we are “the temple of God,” “God’s building”; and zeal for the Father’s house consumes the Lord, and so He purges it with whip in hand in our gospel today. But perhaps the most revelatory statement is, “He was speaking of the temple of His body,” also from our gospel, and noted as explanation of Jesus’ challenge to the Jews to destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days. This essential truth of the nature of the temple is substantiated by Paul’s teaching of the care needed by those who build within the Church: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.” Though he then goes on to say that we are the temple of God, wrought in all holiness, and though this is an equal truth, yet neither this truth, nor that which holds Peter as the founding “rock” of this Temple in which we dwell, have any basis without the essential understanding that Jesus is at the very heart of all our worship, of the Church we are. The Lord has indeed wrought “astounding things… on earth.” He has made us as those trees along the banks of His river of life, bearing His fruit each month for the benefit of the world. He has made us His holy dwelling place and placed His Spirit upon us for the building up of His kingdom… But all of this has its source in the water of life itself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our Church this day and the glorious blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as His temple, as His children, let us not forget our Savior who has been the cause of and continues to be the cause of our joy. Let us be washed in the water from His side and be built up in His Body and His Blood. May we have His same zeal for the Father’s House.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, purify this temple, destroyed by sin;
let us truly be your House, dear God.
YHWH, you are with us in the midst of your Church, your Son the very foundation of this Temple. And He is the Temple itself, we His very Body; and so, how holy we should be. Indeed, we should be as holy as you, our Most High God, as perfect as your only Son.
It is Jesus’ blood and the water flowing from His side that washes us clean and nourishes the growth of His holy Church. The waters of this River gladden the hearts of all who dwell in your House, O LORD. Upon the banks of this River let us ever remain, bearing fruit each month, each day, each hour, in your holy NAME.
Beneath the Cross let us make our home, O holy LORD and God. Here alone in the shadow of Jesus’ arms will we be made whole, will our temple be cleansed and we become your house of prayer. May the zeal of the Christ chastise our hearts and prepare them for your kingdom. May we be raised with Him on His Day and remain in your presence forever.
Fri, 7 November 2014
(Phil.4:10-19; Ps.112:1-2,5-6,8-9; Lk.16:9-15)
“Well for the man who is gracious and lends.”
“Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever; his horn shall be exalted in glory.” Such is the man who knows the proper use of this world’s goods, that is, to give them all as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This shows that he “fears the Lord,” that his heart is not set on the things of earth but the riches of heaven; and so to these shall he come.
“Make friends for yourselves through your use of this world’s goods,” Jesus instructs His disciples, “so that when they fail” – when the goods of this world have faded into eternity – “a lasting reception will be yours” in the kingdom which does not pass away. Our life on this earth serves indeed as a kind of test. The Lord needs to see if He “can trust [us] in little things,” in the passing things of this passing day; then He will know that He “can also trust [us] in greater,” in the eternal graces of our heavenly homeland. How well shall we prove ourselves?
The Philippians prove their generosity well. The Apostle Paul commends them for their repeated gifts to supply his needs as he preaches the Gospel. Here we see a perfect example of wise use of this world’s goods, of their being given in service of God and man. And because of their generosity, there is “an ever-growing balance in [their] account,” not of silver and gold, but of the “magnificent riches in Christ Jesus.” As they empty themselves of what they have, as they give of their riches on this earth, the Lord gives them all they might desire of the true riches; as Paul says as he assures them he has been “fully paid” by the fruits they have offered: “My God in turn will supply your needs fully.”
“No servant can serve two masters.” We either amass wealth for our own benefit in this world – and toward our own condemnation – or we give what we have for the benefit of God and others. We love God or we love money; there are no two ways. “The Pharisees, who were avaricious men, heard all this and began to deride Him.” Does your heart tend to deride the generosity to which the Lord calls you, as do these? Is there yet mockery upon your tongue and lips against the preaching of the emptiness of this world’s possessions? Do you also “justify yourselves in the eyes of men”? Know indeed that “God reads your hearts” and “what man thinks important, God holds in contempt.” And if you would have it go well with you in the heavenly kingdom, you must practice the abounding generosity that is the heart of that kingdom (shown in our Lord’s limitless mercy upon our souls), here with what is at your hands.
O LORD, take all that we have, all that we own,
for your use and that of your Church.
YHWH, let our hearts not be set on the wealth of this earth but let us rather use the goods at our hands to serve your kingdom. A fragrant offering let us make to you of our wealth and of ourselves that we might be acceptable in your sight.
How shall we come to your kingdom, LORD, if we cling to this earth and its goods? How shall we share in your glory if our hearts are not generous as your own? We cannot be blessed if we are not a blessing to others, and your everlasting wealth, your eternal graces, we shall not find if we grasp at the possessions at our hands. We must indeed give generously of the things you provide here, and we will have the love that lasts forever.
Your love let us know even now, O LORD; your joy let us take in providing for the poor, in supporting your workers in the vineyard. And you will lavishly bless us when the last day comes.
Thu, 6 November 2014
(Phil.3:17-4:1; Ps.122:1-5; Lk.16:1-8)
“We have our citizenship in heaven.”
Brothers and sisters, we are not among “those who are set upon the things of this world.” Always we must remember this. Though surrounded by worldly things, our hearts are not set upon them; rather, “we eagerly await the coming of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our hearts are set upon heaven.
Then what are we to do with “this lowly body of ours” as we long for the Lord to “remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body”? What purpose have we of heaven here upon this earth? Is there nothing for us to do with this old form that has been afforded us? Is emptiness all we are to know here?
We must know and remember, brothers and sisters, that in this dark world we are called to light; we are called to “go up to the house of the Lord” even here where we stand. Is the Church not with us? And has not the Lord left His sacraments with her, that even now we may be transformed into the new creation He makes us? We do not wait in vain for our Savior to come; we do not sit empty here as we long for His Day. He is here now with a measure of His grace; “His power to subject everything to Himself” is already evident in our midst… and we must join with that power and work diligently to transform not only ourselves into the image of Christ, but the dark world we see around us as well.
“Be imitators of me,” Paul encourages his brother Philippians. In warning them against those who “go about in a way which shows them to be enemies of the cross of Christ,” he exhorts them to be the cross’s friend – to prove their mettle as they continue “to stand firm in the Lord.” There are those for whom “their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame,” and the “devious employee” of whom Jesus speaks may well be among these. But though we are called in no way to imitate his wickedness, yet we must see that he is given “credit for being enterprising” by the owner, despite the fact that he had been “dissipating his property.” “Why?” indeed. And how can the Lord use an example such as this to teach us of the kingdom?
Here the Lord employs great wisdom, and calls us to do the same. For He reveals to us how even in one destined to condemnation there is yet the spark of intelligence. (“I have it!” he declares, after taking consideration.) And should not this light of intelligence, which comes only from our Maker, be in us who are to be found entirely of light? And should we not bring the light of salvation through the gifts the Lord provides us even to those like this employee who are most in darkness? Should the devil control the things around us, the things here at our King’s feet, or should we? Our citizenship in heaven requires us to employ its light here on this earth. There is much we owe our Master. Wise as serpents and harmless as doves let us be.
O LORD, we are citizens of your kingdom;
help us on this earth to find our way to your House
and remain there.
YHWH, help us to stand firm in you and do your will, and so come to your holy kingdom. In the New Jerusalem let us make our home and not in this dark and empty world.
If we could but be imitators of your Apostle, LORD, and so of your Son, carrying our cross eagerly as we await His coming; then we would hear you calling us to your House and rejoice in your glorious presence.
Give us the wisdom, O LORD, to find our way to you, to do well your work upon this plane, our hearts not set on love of gain but making your blessing our only desire. O that we might be forgiven our debt even as we forgive those in debt to us and to you!
Remake us in your image, LORD, in the image of your Son. Let us enter your gates with thanksgiving and praise your holy NAME. And help us to bring others to you and so finish the work Jesus has begun.
Wed, 5 November 2014
(Phil.3:3-8; Ps.105:2-7; Lk.15:1-10)
“I have come to rate all as loss
in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul tells us, “Those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ.” The “legal observance” he grasped so tightly – having been “circumcised on the eighth day,” “a Hebrew of Hebrew origins,” himself a Pharisee – he now looses to the wind, desiring only to be among those “who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus,” and “seek[ing] to serve Him constantly.” What matters but Jesus and His love, and “the judgments He has uttered”?
But this justice those who remain as Paul was cannot begin to consider, for they say to themselves as Paul once said of himself: “I [am] above reproach when it [comes] to justice based on the law”… yet do they hold tightly to their fine legal observances, looking down upon those who are below their reproach and judging them all as loss, as wayward sheep destined for the fires of Gehenna. And this Man eats with them! But what is loss in their eyes becomes great gain in the eyes of God, for there is “more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent”; and the angels sing in praise as they see the Son of Man sitting and ministering to these sinners, drawing them, as He has been sent to do, into the kingdom’s gates.
The Lord “light[s] a lamp and sweep[s] the house in a diligent search” for straying souls. When He succeeds, He calls us all, saying, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” And will we be jealous of the Lord’s discovery, as the Pharisees and scribes, or will we realize that we all have need of repentance, that we are all that lost sheep, that lost coin which the Lord treasures so once He holds it in His hand again?
Brothers and sisters, it is in the Lord’s hands we must always place ourselves; this is to be in the light of the surpassing knowledge of Christ. By our own hands, in our own wills – “putting our trust in the flesh” – what do we make but corruption, even as our first parents who desired so to hold the apple in their hands and eat it at their pleasure? In things themselves, and our willful manipulation of them, we find only a knowledge that brings death, that leads to darkness. And who will lead us out of such darkness? Jesus, who is Light. In trust in Him we realize we do not know the good we do, for all of any worth is of His making. And so all our desire is for knowledge of “the wondrous deeds that He has wrought” and forgetfulness of our sinful selves. Rejoice in the Lord’s salvation!
O LORD, help us to repent of our sin
and leave behind all things of the flesh,
that we might live in the glory of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
YHWH, how you desire our repentance, our return to you. For this you send your only Son to sit among us and call us to your side – for this He shall even die. May the light He shines find a place in our hearts that we shall be found by Him and lifted up on His shoulders… that we might be raised to Heaven.
We are all poor sinners, LORD, lost to ourselves and lost to you. We are all blinded by the things of this world and the pride we take in our work among them. And so, darkness overtakes us.
Yet you call us to glory in you and in the wondrous deeds that you have wrought in your mercy. Yet we may be gathered into your arms and rejoice in your NAME. Yet if we listen to your Son we shall know redemption, we shall return to you.
And you will rejoice with all your angels that we have come to you, that we have found your glory. Our joy will be your joy, good God, for your love will be our own.
Tue, 4 November 2014
(Phil.2:12-18; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.14:25-33)
“Work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation.”
Strive we must always to attain the kingdom of God, setting our hearts on salvation alone, and trusting in the Lord all the while.
“If one of you decides to build a tower, will he not first sit down and calculate the outlay?” And do you think the outlay for being a follower of Christ is any less important to consider? For what is required of the soul on the path to the kingdom is nothing less than all he owns, and the work involved is the laying down of his very life. And so we must be prepared; and so we must act with conviction, to dispel any “fear of laying the foundation and then not being able to complete the work.”
It certainly cannot be said of St. Paul, “That man began to build what he could not finish,” for he states with absolute conviction to his beloved Philippians, “Even if my life is to be poured out as a libation over the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad of it and rejoice with all of you.” He is prepared to die to accomplish the work the Lord has set for him, and he shall. But he witnesses the fruit of his efforts: “As I look to the day of Christ, you give me cause to boast that I did not run the race in vain or work to no purpose.” In his disciples he sees the faith he has planted grow. And now throughout all the earth do his words go forth, bearing the fruit of Christ among all who listen.
And so, brothers and sisters, set your hearts on accomplishing the work the Lord places before you. Let no doubt or fear cause you to stumble on the way. Proclaim with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” Have this same confidence and commitment to His grace. For “it is God who, in His good will toward you, begets in you any measure of desire or achievement.” It is His work you do and so He will surely bless it. Know that your King is able to do battle with any enemy, that none holds any sway over Him, and be as He is, giving yourselves entirely to His mission, His cause. And you shall “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple”; and you shall certainly achieve your salvation. Onward, soldiers of the Lord.
O LORD, help us to renounce the things of this world
and come into your Temple, into your presence,
and there remain all our days –
accomplish your work in us.
YHWH, you are our light and our salvation; it is you who beget in us any desire for you and your kingdom. And it is you who bring this desire to fulfillment, if we but work to achieve it.
Help us, O LORD, to know the way you call us and prepare us to walk your way without fear, without hesitation. In you we take our courage, for you are great and care greatly for our welfare. It is your bounty alone we desire, and so you will bring us to your House where we may gaze on your face in holy light.
What need we but to dwell with you, O LORD? What of this world could keep us from coming to you? Help us to renounce all else but your holy presence; even our lives let us lay down in service of you. And we shall find our salvation, despite the darkness all around.
It is you who defend us in battle, LORD; it is you who build our house. May we carry our cross with your Son this day, and so be blessed with confidence in your kingdom.
Mon, 3 November 2014
O defender of the Catholic faith
in which all the saints
make their home,
O great pastor of souls,
shepherd of Christ’s flock,
who would see all enter fully
into the fold
only the saints know –
pray for the Lord’s Church this day,
that it shall never turn away
from the Truth
which is at its heart,
from the Son of God
who made it,
forming it in His own blood;
pray our souls be set
on prayer to Him,
our minds on meditation
on His life,
that nothing may distract us
from His holy presence
within the walls of Mother Church
and within our own hearts.
Mon, 3 November 2014
(Phil.2:5-11; Ps.22:26-32; Lk.14:15-24)
“The lowly shall eat their fill.”
Yes, “happy is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.” Indeed, he shall have his fill. But who shall partake of such grace? Who shall come to the feast when the Master calls?
Brothers and sisters, our “attitude must be as Christ’s: though He was in the form of God, He did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.” Rather, He made Himself lowly, as we are lowly. And now He is exalted; now He prepares the banquet of salvation for all lowly souls.
Who are the lowly souls? The lowly souls are they who bow down before the Lord. “At Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth.” If one does not bend the knee before our Savior, he is not humble, he is not lowly – rather, he stands in his vain pride.
And these proud souls shall not come to the table in the kingdom. If when He calls they turn away unto their own affairs, spurning the only appointment which carries importance, they lose their place in the Banquet Hall. And listen to the command of the “master of the house” to his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The Jews having rejected the invitation which was most especially theirs, we the outcast Gentiles now hear the call of the apostles of the Lord, a call that goes out to the ends of the world. All the poor souls are now invited.
Brothers and sisters, “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of nations shall bow down before Him. For dominion is the Lord’s, and He rules the nations. To Him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth,” all in the heavens, and all on earth. None shall be deprived of hearing the call to the feast the Son prepares; all shall stand before Him and have opportunity to bend the knee, to realize our lowliness before Him whom every tongue does praise. So “let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they might proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice He has shown,” that all forever might bow their hearts before His majesty and proclaim: “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!” In such humble praise they shall eat their fill of the blessings of the kingdom.
O LORD, let us honor your Son
who has given His life for the salvation of all,
that we might enter your kingdom
and eat the Bread He sets before us.
YHWH, let us bow down before your only Son and give Him due honor and praise, for He alone is Lord; He alone among us is worthy of our worship, for He alone is your Son. Let us humble ourselves as He has done and so find ourselves in your kingdom with Him.
O LORD, if only we could eat bread at your table, if only it were the desire of our heart to enter your presence and rejoice in your glory. It is your desire to share with us all your gifts and graces, to feed us with your finest fare. But how can we celebrate in your House if our hearts are turned to earthly matters, if our thoughts are vain and our souls proud?
Your Son has humbled Himself to come among us and call us to you, LORD. He has set aside His place at your side that He might become as a slave in our midst, that He might lead us to your side. Let us not reject His holy sacrifice but proclaim it with our lives as we eat bread at your table this day.
Sun, 2 November 2014
O humble and charitable soul
whose healing hands served the poor
and all those the Lord placed
in your care,
with great love you looked upon
Christ on the Cross
and in the Blessed Sacrament,
and so sought to love your neighbor
even as Jesus Himself –
pray we shall somehow learn
to put others before ourselves,
that in this way,
in the way of the Lord,
we will truly love and serve God,
knowing our sins outweigh
those of any other soul,
and yet that the mercy of our Savior
outweighs any human fault.
And so, pray we shall be humble as you,
as kind and as caring,
that we too will lay down our lives
in prayer and in penance,
in the blood and tears of Jesus.
Sun, 2 November 2014
(Phil.2:1-4; Ps.131:1-3; Lk.14:12-14)
“Let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves,
each of you looking to others’ interests rather than his own.”
The key to Christianity is to see others, even the blind and the lame and the crippled beggar, as superior to ourselves, and place ourselves at their service in love. As Christians we can never look down upon another individual; if our heart is proud and our “eyes haughty,” we are certainly set up for a fall, for the Lord who sees all and humbles Himself before all will certainly humble our proud souls. Rather, we must maintain the “fellowship in spirit, compassion, and pity” of which Paul speaks, “possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals” and thus always giving one another the “encouragement” we owe in Christ.
Jesus would teach this humility and unity of spirit to the chief of the Pharisees today. He would have him adopt a truly Christian attitude, expecting nothing in return for his feeding of the sheep, concerned only for the welfare of the poorest in his midst. Thus He would convert him to the faith by wiping the mocking smile from his face in a spirit of genuine compassion. He tells him, “Whenever you give a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or wealthy neighbors.” He should not be concerned simply with those of his blood and the people of means, for certainly these would “invite [him] in return and thus repay” him. No, quite a novel idea has the Son of God for the head of the Jewish Church: expect your recompense at “the resurrection of the just,” not on earth. Set your heart on things that are above, not below. And go beyond your blood to invite all into the hall of the Lord, especially those most in need, those most outcast. Such a call must have been shocking to the sensibilities of this Pharisee, as indeed it remains shocking to most even today. But He only calls us to do as He has done – empty ourselves completely for the good of others.
“Make my joy complete by your unanimity,” Paul begs the Philippians; and unanimity in the Lord encompasses all. In it there can be no “rivalry or conceit” because in it there are no factions: all are one in the Lord. To this unity, found only in humility, the only Son does call us all, for He knows it is there we shall find our peace; in such humble service we find our eternal rest upon the lap of our Father.
O LORD, let us not seek our reward
in the things of this world or follow in its ways;
rather, in all humility let us find our peace in your arms.
YHWH, help us to look to others’ needs and not our own, to seek to serve you in all things, not looking for reward. How shall we be humble as your Son, placing ourselves entirely in your hands? How shall we become as your children if you do not bless us? For we are selfish and self-seeking and need your grace upon our souls to save us from such vain pride.
To sacrifice your Son calls us, LORD, to unity with all our brothers and sisters. He would have us empty ourselves as He has done in coming among us and dying on the Cross. This great blessing He would make our own, if our desire were for Heaven.
Give us, O LORD, true wisdom and peace of soul to see and know the glory to which Jesus calls us by His holy sacrifice, to share the love that exists between you and Him alone. O let us be your children! free of all snares of the flesh and the world and the devil, desiring only to sup with you.
Sat, 1 November 2014
(Wis.3:1-9; Ps.23:1-6; 1Cor.15:51-57; Jn.6:37-40
Note: there are any number of readings possible for this day)
“The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.”
Is this not what it means to be a Christian? To have faith in the resurrection from the dead. To believe that after our time of trial there shall be peace, that we shall be refined by the hand of God to stand in His presence, to share in His kingship. “Grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” This is our faith.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And so we have no fear. The Lord watches over us and guides our path, and in His blessing we take refuge, knowing we shall come to be with Him, knowing He is with us even this day, knowing even death we shall conquer in His Name. “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” Nothing shall remove us from His presence. “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.” Indeed, though all die, all shall come to life. None can remain as they are; all must be changed. All that is mortal must take on immortality, and in this immortality, in this incorruptibility we gain, death is swallowed up – it is no more. “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is an eternal victory.
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me.” It cannot be that the Father’s will not be done. Jesus awaits us with open arms. He has gone before us, He has prepared a place for us, and we must but come to Him as drawn by the will of the Father. “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise Him up on the last day.” Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Death is not our realm, brothers and sisters. Though it comes to us all, it is but a passageway into Heaven, it is but the Lord’s means of preparing us for the kingdom. And so, whether we experience it today or tomorrow or yesterday is of no consequence. It is there. It shall come to us all. But all who believe are preserved from its clutches and drawn into the life the Father offers. Let us pray this day for all holy souls to come by the Son into the hands of the Father.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, help us find victory over death in Jesus,
your Son, and so come to dwell with you forever.
YHWH, though we walk through the dark valley, we fear no evil – for you are at our side. Though death close its mouth upon us, we remain courageous, for your Son has given us victory over sin and death by His sacrifice on the Cross; and as we take refuge in Him, we are raised to dwell with you in eternal life. Let all souls be raised to your side with Him!
Where in this world can we turn where there is not sin, where there is not darkness, where there is not death? O LORD, it is so, that this world is clothed with corruption, with mortality. All is now doomed to die for the sin that besets Creation. But where does the grace of your Son not penetrate? To whom would He not bring new life? And what need we but faith in Him to find that life dwelling in us even this day?
Soon the end will come – the end of sin and the end of death. Let us not die with death, LORD, but find the victory you desire to impart to all souls through your Son. May your goodness and kindness follow us all our days and lead us to your eternal kingdom. May all who have died be at your side.
Fri, 31 October 2014
O God’s holy ones,
His apostles and martyrs,
His virgins and confessors,
all who have borne witness to Him
with your lives,
who have washed your robes
in His blood,
whose hands are clean
in His sight
and so are clothed in white,
all you who have suffered
under the Cross
in the flesh in this world
and so now stand in His light
in the Spirit
before His throne in Heaven…
O all holy ones of the Lord
from every age,
from every time and place;
from every nation you come,
speaking in every tongue
of His undying love –
please, pray for us, His pilgrim children!
Fri, 31 October 2014
(Rv.7:2-4,9-14; Ps.24:1-6; 1Jn.3:1-3; Mt.5:1-12)
“Everyone who has this hope based on Him
makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
All our readings speak of this purity this holy day. In the first reading we hear of the saints who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Our psalm tells us it is “one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” who stands in God’s presence. The above quote is from our second reading, and Jesus tells us in our gospel, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Indeed, this purity of heart is the essential characteristic possessed by all the saints in heaven; and so we must strive to achieve it.
I note a striking parallel particularly between our first reading from Revelation and David’s psalm: the reading begins with the image of the four angels (at the four corners of the universe) being prevented from their call “to damage the land and the sea” until the seal of God is placed upon the foreheads of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand [symbolizing absolute fullness in number] marked from every tribe of Israel”; and our psalm begins by proclaiming, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” The reading continues with John’s “vision of a great multitude” who “stood before the throne and the Lamb” in their white robes; while, as it continues, our psalm tells us that only the pure of heart “can ascend the mountain of the Lord” or “stand in His holy place.” Then the reading from Revelation cries out, “Salvation comes from our God” and exclaims of the blessings upon the Lord and so His faithful; and David’s psalm concludes that it is he who seeks Him who “shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior.”
What does all this tell us but what John states quite simply in his letter, our second reading: “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” and that when “what we shall be… is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Yes, we are anointed by Him as His own creation and shall come to stand in His presence with all the angels and saints, proclaiming the blessing He is and the salvation He has provided us.
And in our gospel Jesus climbs the mountain and sits and teaches those who gather around Him. And how blessed are these eyes that see Him! How blessed are these ears that hear Him! And how blessed are we, too, insofar as we hear Him this holy day as He calls to our hearts to have faith in Him and in the kingdom of heaven, to set our hearts on the hope of which He speaks. And blessed are we most when we suffer insult and persecution for the sake of the Lord, for by this we are purified, and through this “our reward will be great in heaven.” For we must die in Him before we rise in Him with all the saints in glory.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be made pure as you are pure,
as your saints have been made pure
in the blood of the Lamb.
YHWH, let us seek you with all our hearts, that we may find you and share in your glory with all the saints in Heaven. Help us to wash our robes clean, that they may be white, that we may be pure and so able to stand in your light. Make us your children, O LORD, blessed to dwell in your sight forever.
If we must be purified by persecution in this world, what should that matter to us, LORD; why should that cause us concern? We should rejoice in this blessing even as we rejoice in the blessing of Heaven, for does not one lead to the other – do we not find Heaven even here, even now, in our suffering with your Son? But give us your love, LORD, and all shall be cause for celebration for us.
O how we long to worship you in your kingdom, LORD! How we long to bow before your throne with all your angels and saints. How we long to sing your praise with them. Let it be so, LORD. Let it be so even this day in our souls.
Thu, 30 October 2014
(Phil.1:1-11; Ps.111:1-6; Lk.14:1-6)
“My prayer is that your love may more and more abound.”
Paul’s prayer is addressed to the Philippians, who “have all continually helped promote the Gospel from the very first day” he came into their midst preaching. He overflows with love for them himself and finds them present “to a man” sharing in his “gracious lot,” even as he “lie[s] in prison” far from their land. And so he prays that always “with a clear conscience and blameless conduct [they] may learn to value the things that really matter,” and is confident that “He who has begun the good work in [them] will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus.”
And Jesus’ prayer for the Pharisees is really the same. Though they treat Him as Paul has so often been treated, though He is “summoned to defend the solid grounds on which the Gospel rests” before eyes that observe “Him closely” for any misstep upon which they could capitalize – yet His desire for them is the love of God; yet He would teach them of the ways of the Lord Most High, who cares at every moment for the well-being of even His smallest creatures. Thus does He ask them, “If one of you has a son or an ox and he falls into a pit, will he not immediately rescue him on the sabbath day?” to open their eyes to the innate concern they have for those in their care, that they might see the love of God for all. And though they are not like the Philippians, though they do not accept His word with joy and put it into practice immediately, there may come a time when they will listen, when at least some of them will hear and follow His teaching.
“Majesty and glory are His work, and His justice endures forever.” This is what every heart must proclaim of the “wondrous deeds” of God. It is not only Paul’s wish but the wish of the Lord Himself that all of us “may be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened,” which He has brought to maturity in His blood, in His love. “He has given food to those who fear Him”; this food of love is for all who reverence God to share. More and more it should abound in our midst, even as it does in all our churches and on all our altars this day. Alleluia!
O LORD, your love extends to all and is undying –
help us to share more and more in that love
with your Son.
YHWH, may your love abound throughout the world and we abound in it. May your glory be known in all your works, through all holy souls the Gospel go forth.
We give you thanks, O LORD, we give you praise. For your love is endless and it looks upon every creature with abiding care. In your presence and by the ministry of your Son, we are saved – let us stand in the light of your holy Day!
You give food to all who love you, LORD; you heal every soul that comes humbly to you. Let us appear before you with a clear conscience and blameless conduct. Your will be fulfilled in all our lives.
Wondrous are your deeds, O LORD; majesty and glory are yours alone. But you desire to share your gifts with your children, continually calling us to dwell in your love.
Rescue us from all sin this day, LORD, from the hardness of our hearts, that we might be among the assembly of the just come to full maturity in your Son.
Wed, 29 October 2014
(Eph.6:10-20; Ps.144:1-2,9-10; Lk.13:31-35)
“Today and tomorrow I cast out devils and perform cures,
and on the third day my purpose is accomplished.”
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war,” King David sings, for the Lord is the “shield… who subdues peoples under [him]”; He is the “stronghold” by whom “victory” is his.
The same image of battle is used by Paul as he encourages us, “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” But “our battle ultimately is not against human forces” – in war against nations or even any individual enemy – “but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in the regions above.” It is spiritual warfare we engage in, and in it we must “pray constantly and attentively for all in the holy company,” for the attacks against us are constant and we must ever with our brothers and sisters resist the evil one and “stand [our] ground.” Heed Paul’s summary of the strength we must draw from the Lord for our mission: “Stand fast, with the truth as the belt around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and zeal to propagate the gospel of peace as your footgear.”
Does not the Lord do just this? Does He not witness fully to the courage we must have in the battle of earthly life? For though the Pharisees come with the warning, “Leave this place! Herod is trying to kill you,” Jesus “proceed[s] on course” in firm resolve. Though “Jerusalem… slay the prophets and stone those who are sent to [her],” yet the Lord’s face is set like flint to enter there. In every step along the way, on every day that leads there, He conquers the devil valiantly, displaying His great power over all darkness of this world by His Word of truth; and when He comes to the cross the war will have been won – the evil one will have no weapon remaining.
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Blessed is Jesus the Christ, and blessed all those who follow in His way, who fight unto death the evils that beset us here. Brothers and sisters, faith in God will deflect all “the fiery darts of the evil one.” “The helmet of salvation” will protect you from all harm; and by “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God,” you shall conquer mightily with the Lord. “Pray in the Spirit.” Pray always. Pray for the Church militant that she proclaim the Gospel and come quickly to the Lord’s salvation.
O LORD, we bless your NAME and we are strong;
we are ready for battle against all evil.
YHWH, give us strength in the battle of earthly life, strength to overcome the attacks of the enemy, strength to stand with you on the holy day. You are our strength; you are our deliverer. You save us from all harm by your invincible power and glory – let us indeed stand strong in battle on this earth, that we may come quickly to Heaven.
Your Word go forth, O LORD, to the ends of the earth, your Word of truth, your Word of life. The sword of the Spirit be in our hands, upon our tongues, that we shall defeat all the forces of the evil one. Let us be ever in prayer before you, ever calling upon your holy NAME. And we shall be saved, and we shall save others by the grace that you give to do battle this day.
With your Son let us cast out devils, LORD; let us serve to cure the troubled soul of man. Blessed is He who comes in the NAME of the LORD! Let us be blessed to follow Him on the way to Jerusalem, on the way to the Cross – for on the third day He shall rise.
Tue, 28 October 2014
(Eph.6:1-9; Ps.145:10-14; Lk.13:22-30)
“Do God’s will with your whole heart
as slaves of Christ.”
These words Paul addresses to the slaves of his time, instructing them to “obey [their] human masters with the reverence, the awe, and the sincerity [they] owe to Christ,” but they apply well to us all, who are in all things to serve the Lord. Always we should “give [our] service willingly, doing it for the Lord rather than men.” This is as “the narrow door” of which our Lord speaks; this is what will bring us into His heavenly kingdom. For it is certain that “each one, whether slave or free, will be repaid by the Lord for whatever good he does.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord’s “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and [His] dominion endures through all generations.” It matters not when we live or where, or what position we have in society – none of these things pertain to the reign of God. For those who are to be saved shall indeed come from the four corners of the universe and from every period of time, and as Paul says to masters of their slaves: “You and they have a Master in heaven who plays no favorites.” So if you think that any honor or preference of this earth will smooth your way into the kingdom, you are surely mistaken and risk the grave disappointment of discovering that “some are first who will be last,” or finding yourself barred from His House for failing to serve the Lord with all your heart in all the things of the world. For He has come to serve and not to be served, and He “lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”
Jesus goes “through cities and towns teaching – all the while making His way toward Jerusalem.” Even unto the cross He offers instruction to those who would follow Him. He is as the fathers Paul instructs to “bring [their children] up with the training and instruction befitting the Lord.” But we must heed His words; we must honor and obey the Lord as children are expected to honor and obey their parents. For His words are wise and they carry the greatest promise: “That it may go well with you, and that you may have long life,” not so much upon this earth, but in the heavenly kingdom.
Do all things in His name, brothers and sisters. Honor Him. Obey Him. Serve Him well that He might see you and “know where you come from” and thus honor you “at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
O LORD, let us follow in your narrow way
that we might be saved;
let us honor you with all our lives.
YHWH, all are one in your kingdom, for you do not play favorites with your children but call all the same to your presence. And so the lowly you raise from the dust and the exalted you tear down… for all must come to you on an even path. The narrow way that leads to your glory is not dependent on the concerns of this age.
And so slaves are no less your children than their masters; masters no less than their slaves – it matters only their devotion to you. All are called to serve you, LORD, to follow the command you give to each one. And so father and son may come equally unto Heaven if they do as fits their role, as fits your call.
Let children obey their parents and parents nurture their children in the faith. Let workers perform their tasks with zeal and those over them treat all with respect and love. Let all discourse of your glory by their service to you, giving you thanks for the splendor of your kingdom, to which they thereby come. Praise you, LORD, for your goodness toward all!
Mon, 27 October 2014
O zealous and loving apostles,
to the ends of the earth
you brought the Word of the Lord;
calling sinners to repentance,
seeking healing for all souls,
you carried the light of Christ
to all the world –
pray we shall match your zeal
for the Gospel;
pray we serve to impart
the mercy of God
unto life everlasting
for all children of the Lord.
May the power and glory
in the name of Jesus Christ
build up His Temple
in forgiveness and love
that soon all will be one
with Him and with you in Heaven.
Mon, 27 October 2014
(Eph.2:19-22; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.6:12-16)
“You are fellow citizens with the saints
and members of the household of God.”
And whom is this building founded upon but our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the cornerstone by which the apostles and prophets are set in place, and we are built upon this firm foundation, all integrated as one “holy temple in the Lord.” This Church is “the dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” Alleluia!
Oh that blessed night Jesus spent “in communion with God”! Praise God for the mountain on which He prayed! For that night, in that place, in these prayers was conceived the foundation stones of His holy temple: in the Spirit that night the essential structure of the Church was given birth in the names of these poor apostles, these simple human beings.
And at daybreak He called them forth by name. Upon them His favor rested. And though one “turned traitor” and had to be replaced, yet here are the pillars on which the Church rests. And to this day their descendants, their blessed successors remain with us, holding up the Church despite their frailties – yes, the power of the Spirit continues to go forth from their call. “Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.” Nothing can stem the passage of this Word to the ends of the earth, for it is founded in the silent communion with God.
Who can touch this silence? Who can tear down this oneness in the presence of God? No one can hold the wind in his hands and no one can restrain the power of the Spirit. It indeed goes forth. Yes, “the whole structure” continues to be “fitted together” in the Lord’s Name, and no persecution can stop its growth, can prevent its inevitable coming to fullness in the eternity of heaven. And so, let us thank God for His blessed apostles and prophets and martyrs today. Let us pray we shall be found worthy to be one with them in the House they build. And let us come to know the Lord even more, who is at the heart of us all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may we be built into your House
with all your holy apostles.
YHWH, let us become your dwelling place; let us make our home in your Spirit as you make your home in us. Let us be firmly founded in your apostles with Jesus as our cornerstone. Then through us, too, your Word will go out to the ends of the earth. Then we will be one with your apostles.
Into your household let us be built, O LORD, with all your saints in Heaven. Let Heaven and earth declare your glory – truly let us be your handiwork. As your Son chose the Twelve by your hand upon Him, so let us be chosen and formed in their image to serve you faithfully in this land, to make this land as your kingdom.
Let our words not be spoken in vain, LORD, our prayers not fall short of your glory; let us rather speak only in the Spirit that your light we might bring to this place. Though our cause seem hopeless, though darkness beset us, yet let us look to you and find refuge in the prayers of your apostles, of all the holy ones in your Temple.
Sun, 26 October 2014
(Eph.4:32-5:8; Ps.1:1-4,6,Eph.5:1; Lk.13:10-17)
“There was a time when you were darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, remember always that “God has forgiven you in Christ.” Once you “walk[ed] in the way of sinners,” but now you are as he who “delights in the law of the Lord.” And so as God has shown His mercy to you, so should you do unto others; we must “be imitators of God as His dear children.” As when Jesus saw the woman who “was badly stooped – quite incapable of standing erect,” for eighteen years afflicted by her infirmity, He had pity for her, called her to Him and “laid His hand on her” so that “immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God”… so should our hearts go out to all those in need, all those afflicted by infirmity and sin, that all might be as well as we have become, that all might praise God as we do.
“Make no mistake about this: no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person – in effect an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Brothers and sisters, how many of us have been guilty of the deadly sins of which Paul speaks today? (And if not these, what others?) How many of us have deserved to be barred from the kingdom? In truth we must say that all of us have fallen short of God’s glory and found ourselves in desperate need of the salvation only Christ brings. And so should we hold out no hope for those who commit such sins now, who are as we have been? Certainly “there are sins that bring God’s wrath down on the disobedient” and put them in danger of dying; but do we instruct these to “have nothing to do with them,” do we offer light to those in such darkness… or do we presume their condemnation?
The Lord left not the stooped woman in Satan’s clutches, despite the “indignant” attitude of the leaders of the synagogue – whose own inability to stand erect is so much more difficult to cure. No, the Lord saw a soul in need and reached His hand out to her; and should we not do the same with those we see suffering affliction, if not with a healing touch of our hand at least with the healing touch of devout prayer? The well-being of others must always be our concern. We must ever “be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving.” For if our hearts stoop to jealousy and judgment as does the leader of the synagogue’s, what hope shall there be for us then of entering God’s kingdom? We must ever be children of light, dispelling all darkness, if we are truly to be the “dear children” of our Lord.
O LORD, let us stand up straight before you,
turning from sin and walking in your way at all times.
YHWH, let us be as your dear children, kind and compassionate toward others, ever reflecting your glory. Let there be no sin among us, not even the whispering desire for sin. Let us live as your children of light – banish all darkness from us.
Help us to walk in your way, O LORD, to be well instructed in your paths; for there are many who wander aimlessly and are easily subject to Satan’s wiles. Let us be taught as the Jews of Jesus’ day and listen with attentive hearts to His words. Indeed, like Him let us become, like a tree planted near the running water of the Spirit, and we shall prosper all our days, ever bearing fruit in your NAME.
Make clear to all, O LORD, that sin is sin, that the idolatry of lust is a turning from you and the light of your truth and the love of your heart. Keep us from certain death, from the counsel of the wicked, delighting only in your Law day and night.
Sat, 25 October 2014
(Ex.22:20-26; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; 1Thes.1:5-10; Mt.22:34-40)
“If ever you wrong them, and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.”
In this simple statement by the Lord is revealed the essential nature of our God in His relation with His people. It demonstrates certainly what He says of Himself, “I am compassionate,” for what is He telling us but that He has an ardent care for the poorest among us and the injustice they suffer? But it also demonstrates the justice of God itself, for what does He mean when He says He will “hear their cry” but that He will punish the wicked for their heartless crimes? He states clearly, if any should “wrong any widow or orphan… [His] wrath will flare up, and [He] will kill [him] with the sword.”
Now in the Church today we find an arbitrary and utterly deceptive and false separation of members into “liberal” or “conservative” camps, as if the Lord and His Church could be limited by either assignation. The liberal hears “love God and neighbor” and ignorantly excuses himself from keeping the law; and the conservative grasps the law so tightly he squeezes the very life, the very love, out of it. The Lord is neither liberal nor conservative, but may be said to be both – and that to the extreme in both cases. First of all, He has come to liberate us from our sin, to free us from the sentence of death all justly deserved as much as the adulteress or the thief on the cross He forgave. No one could be more liberal in His free giving of Himself and His love. What compares to the shedding of His blood, and the free gifts we gain thereby? Yet it must not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus is absolutely conservative in His teachings and in His ways; at all costs He preserves the truth. For though He says that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” of love of God and neighbor, He does not thereby do away with the whole law. Indeed, He strengthens it. Does He not say not a single letter, nor even part of a letter, will pass away until all the law is fulfilled? Does He not tell us now that even to look at a woman lustfully is adultery and to be angry with another is as murder (see Mt.5:17-30)? And will He not come at the end of the age and judge all hearts, separating the evil from the good and casting them into eternal darkness and eternal flames? Though He “delivers us from the coming wrath” if we love Him, failing that, we cannot but be thrown into hell.
The Lord has two hands and either taken alone is ineffective, is, in fact, wicked, for either alone falls short of love and truth. The Lord is absolutely kind and absolutely just: these two meet and kiss in Him. And so they must in each of us. We must be “model[s] for all the believers.” Let it be said that from us “the word of the Lord has sounded forth,” that “in every place [our] faith in God has gone forth – that we have carried both His love and His truth to every heart we touch. Then we shall rightly call the Lord our “rock” and our “deliverer”; then we shall exclaim, “Praised be the Lord” and be “safe from [our] enemies.” Then He will hear our cry and save us, and all who truly love Him, for then we will be His disciples.
Written, read &chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to love you with all our heart,
and to love others as you love them.
YHWH, we must turn from idols to worship you alone, for you are the living and true God and deserve all the love of our heart, mind, and soul. And we must love others as you love all, ever sharing your unending compassion with our neighbor. For you hear the cry of the poor, and to that call we must attend or we are not loving you at all.
Whose compassion is beyond is beyond your own, LORD? Whose love can approach your perfection? For your love is founded on perfect justice, a justice we cannot fathom apart from your favor toward us. Your justice cannot but punish evil, for if not, how could it protect the good? How could the widow or orphan find your compassion if you did not destroy those who oppress them?
But even as you destroy the wicked, you do so out of love, out of mercy even toward those you destroy. For how shall they turn from their sin and be saved if you do not chastise them for their wrongs, for the lack of compassion which separates them from you? Your kindness be upon all this day, O LORD, that we might live in your love.
Fri, 24 October 2014
(Eph.4:7-16; Ps.122:1-5; Lk.13:1-9)
“Each of us has received God’s favor
in the measure in which Christ bestows it.”
Paul reminds us today of Scripture: “When He ascended on high, He took a host of captives and gave gifts to men.” Christ Himself “descended into the lower regions of the earth,” coming to the place where we lowly humans dwell, and then “ascended into heaven, that He might fill all men with His gifts,” that those to whom He comes here on earth might know the riches of heaven to which He draws us all.
“It is He who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in roles of service for the faithful to build up the body of Christ.” Yes, He gave us these leaders such as Paul to guide us to all truth, but He no less has given us each a share of His heavenly glory and bestowed upon each of us the gifts that are our portion from Him. None is without gifts, and none can fail to employ these gifts. It is necessary that the Body of Christ has “the proper functioning of [its] members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament” if it is to grow in love as it is called to do. All our gifts must be employed to the full; each must fulfill his role.
The Lord makes clear the call upon each of our souls to utilize the gifts He grants to each of His members. Listen to the words of the vinedresser in His parable: “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree and found none.” Who is that vinedresser but Jesus Himself and who is that fig tree but we who claim to be His disciples? And finding no fruit on the fig tree, what does the vinedresser say? “Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?” Why indeed should we drag down the Body of Christ struggling to grow in love in this world; if we are dead members, what place have we in His kingdom? And unless we reform in the short time we are given, what shall become of our souls?
Brothers and sisters, do we not wish to “go up to the house of the Lord,” to rejoice in the heavenly Jerusalem, to “form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature”? Then our tree must bear fruit in His name and serve to build up the Body in love; “if not, it shall be cut down,” and we shall be separated from the glorious presence of the Lord. See the great graces and gifts the Lord showers upon you; pray for their fulfillment, for their growing more and more – “profess the truth in love” and the favors you have been given will bear their fruit, for your benefit and that of the whole world.
O LORD, let us not be cut down
but built up as the Body of your Son.
YHWH, let us make our home in you; in the Body of your Son let us find our place. In your holy Church may we ever dwell, bearing fruit in your NAME. To full maturity let us come, in Jesus who has come to us.
O LORD, in your House let us rejoice; let us find our peace in the New Jerusalem. Within Her gates we are safe from every false doctrine, from every whim and fancy of man. For divine wisdom rests in Her whom the Christ has formed by His own hands, in His own blood. Since He has founded the Church and its servants, it is He who lives in it with you.
But we must leave behind our sin if we are to find such perfection in Him. We must reform our lives if we are to be made in the image of Christ your Son. O LORD, let our lives not be empty; let us not come to a sudden end… May we please you by our repentance and know your blessings upon us this day. Let your Church and all its members grow and bear fruit in Jesus’ Name.
Thu, 23 October 2014
O zealous apostle
who traveled throughout the earth
driven by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
you labored strenuously,
rejoicing in poverty
and welcoming hardships
as you gave your very life
for the flock in your care –
pray the love of Christ
will urge us on to holy zeal
that we might approach your apostolic spirit,
desiring to inflame all men
with the fire of God’s love.
Concerned always and only
for the glory of God
and the salvation of souls,
may we fulfill our call;
as sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
with her same purity and commitment,
pray we give birth to Christ in souls
by the preaching of the Gospel
until all are formed in His image
in the heavenly kingdom.
Thu, 23 October 2014
(Eph.4:1-6; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.12:54-59)
“Make every effort to preserve the unity
which has the Spirit as its origin
and peace as its binding force.”
Is this not what Jesus instructs the crowds in saying, “When you are going with your opponent to appear before a magistrate, try to settle with him on the way”? Do not both Paul and Jesus speak of the love we must have one for another, even for those who may seem our enemies? Again, in the House of God there is unity, there is peace. Among His children there should be understanding, there should be grace. We must make every effort to have no enemies – to hate no one, to bear no grudge against any – in this life or the next.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to live as one, “bearing with one another lovingly,” for “there is but one body and one Spirit” in Christ; “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” which we all share, and so we should live as children of the “one God and Father of all.” On our oneness in the Lord our hearts should be set, and nothing should disturb the peace we find in Him. We see so many other things, we understand so much of the world and its ways… why do we not understand this? Why do we not know and practice God’s way?
“The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” This David tells us: all are one under the Lord God. But only those “whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” “may stand in His holy place.” We cannot “ascend the mountain of the Lord” if we are not made perfect as He. And so the Lord warns us of the necessity of settling all our accounts here, now, while there is time – while we yet have breath and eyes to see – lest we come to the judge at the end of time with the darkness of sin upon our soul. Now is His mercy offered forth, and we are called in turn to offer it freely to others. Then will be grave punishment for sin, for failures to love and maintain unity.
“A blessing from the Lord” awaits us all. He “that seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall receive his reward. Even now the Spirit of the Lord grants us a foretaste of such grace. But we must be ever diligent to maintain it. We must be ever ready to forgive one another if we are to remain in Him. And so I ask: forgive me, brother; forgive me, sister, any wrong I have done you… and be assured of my forgiveness.
O LORD, help us to stand in your holy place,
as reflections of your peace and your love for all.
YHWH, you are LORD of Heaven and earth and all is under your watchful care. We are in you and in your Son and have your one Spirit at our heart’s core. Let us live in peace! Let us live as your children, holy as you are.
If we maintain not humility and peace in our souls, can we be said to be your own? O LORD, if we settle not with our opponent here on this earth, how can we come unto your heavenly presence? There can be no anger or hatred in us; indeed, our hands must be sinless if we are to enter your eternal kingdom and make our home in you.
And so, dear LORD, help us to forgive one another, to love all as you love them – let us be the race that seeks ever your holy face and never turn aside from such desire for utter love in your presence. Forgive all those who sin against us, and please let us be forgiven in your sight.
Wed, 22 October 2014
O tireless preacher of God’s Word,
how well, how completely,
you called all men,
and especially the priests of the Lord,
to a life of holiness,
to shine the light of Christ;
with patience and sound doctrine
and the example of a blameless life
you sought to save souls
throughout the world
and bring them into the fold
pray this day apostles go forth
in the brightness of holiness
as light to the world,
drawing all men to God.
In such wisdom let truth be known,
the truth of our Savior Jesus Christ,
that every heart might call Him Lord
and proclaim the Church as His own.
Pray not a day pass,
not an hour upon this plane,
wherein His Word is not heard.
Wed, 22 October 2014
“Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?”
Strong contrast we find in our readings today. Jesus speaks of the division He has come to bring by the fire of truth He lights on this earth – fire like a sword separating even the closest of family members one from another; whereas Paul speaks of “the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of Christ’s love” and the great oneness found in “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” How does one reconcile this apparent contradiction? Is the Lord of peace or division?
Brothers and sisters, there is no contradiction here. Paul speaks of the “glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus” which exists “through all generations” and which we share “with all the holy ones” for whom “charity [is] the root and foundation of [their] life.” As our psalmist proclaims, “Happy the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance.” In the House of God is peace. In His Church is the oneness of perfect love, and all its members “experience this love which surpasses all knowledge” and “attain to the fullness of God Himself.”
Then whence the division the Lord emphasizes? The division exists here on earth, as He Himself states. When the light of truth comes up against the darkness that is this world, when the holy ones of God meet up with the children of this evil age, there is necessarily division. Despite the best efforts of the just to bring peace to all, how often is our offering of peace rejected – how frequently is Christ nailed to the cross. So, though we yet hold love for all as the disciples of our living Lord, it cannot but be that many will cling to darkness and so find an enemy in the light. And thus division comes. Though in heaven and in the Church there is nothing but peace, the world breeds only division.
Brothers and sisters, “may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith.” “May [the Father] strengthen you inwardly through the workings of His Spirit” as you undergo the anguish of the baptism His Son has known. May He keep you in peace and “bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of His glory.” For soon division will be gone and His peace will be all that is known.
O LORD, how your love separates
the evil from the good! –
may we know the fullness of your love
at work in our lives.
YHWH, great is your glory, far above the ways of men – how can we grasp this surpassing knowledge, how can we know your all-encompassing love? Though you dwell beyond our reach, in your kindness you stoop down to us, to share with us the great riches of your glory.
And so, what should we do but praise your NAME? What should we do but thank you in song? For you have looked upon us in our lowliness and delivered us from death and sin, and made us one with all your holy ones in your eternal kingdom.
But what of those who reject you, LORD? What of those who spurn your love, who desire not the peace which surpasses understanding? What can they do but fight against your Church? And those may be of our own family. Then where are we? How shall there be peace on this earth among those who despise your gifts? Give us strength to share in the baptism of your Son, in the fire we must endure on our way to Heaven; help us to conquer all division and stand always with you.
Tue, 21 October 2014
(Eph.3:2-12; Is.12:2-6; Lk.12:39-48)
“When much has been given a man,
much will be required of him.”
Yes, “more will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted,” and today we see two of the men to whom the most has been entrusted. First, of course, is Peter, who queries the Lord and to whom the Lord addresses His question, “Who in your opinion is that faithful, farsighted steward whom the master will set over his servants to dispense their ration of grain in season?” knowing full well it is to the blessed Rock of His Church He speaks. And Paul tells us how “through the gift God in His goodness bestowed on [him] through the exercise of His power, [he] became a minister of the Gospel.” Paul has been “given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to enlighten all men on the mysterious design which for ages was hidden in God, the Creator of all.” The Rock of the Church and its great Apostle – how much has been entrusted to these two men!
And what has been entrusted to these is entrusted to all who follow in their wake, to all “the holy apostles and prophets” to whom “the mystery of Christ” is “revealed by the Spirit.” And so the same responsibility is upon them as well. The Lord has promised, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,” and how can the faithful find such life-giving water if the Lord’s priests and preachers do not offer it forth freely as it has been given them? If they withhold the children’s food and their tongues cleave to the roofs of their mouths, how shall the Church be fed, how shall she be instructed in the way she should walk? If the guardians of the truth are not vigilant, but rather begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk,” feeding only themselves, their own bellies… what shall become of the Body of Christ? And what shall become of those who have allowed the Lord’s House to be broken into?
“Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth”: that “God indeed is [our] Savior,” and all are called unto Him. Brothers and sisters, we all share in the priesthood of Peter and the evangelical ministry of Paul, and so, “drawing near Him with confidence,” we must all “among the nations make known [the Lord’s] deeds.” All have been given a measure of the Lord’s grace and power, and all are responsible for fulfilling the “master’s wishes” with regard to our call. This is our gift from God, to share in His work of service, in His cross. Let us embrace it as readily as have Peter and Paul.
O LORD, may we all be faithful stewards
of your manifold gifts
and find our salvation in your Son.
YHWH, you are in our midst and you call us all to your work, to service of your Church in your holy NAME. Through your Son Jesus Christ we all may share in your manifold wisdom, in the salvation to glory wrought by His blood… Let us give thanks to you and acclaim your NAME, serving you faithfully all our days.
LORD, it should be our joy to serve you; it should be our very food. What greater gift could we hope for than to share in your promise and in your blessed ministry with Peter and Paul? One are we in your Body, in the flesh of your Son, and freely may we come to you now with all our petitions and find you ready to answer our plea – what blessing is ours by your grace!
Let us draw water at the fountain of salvation, LORD; let us drink freely of the glory you offer forth. Remaining ever faithful to your will, let us draw ever closer to you, till we sing your praises forever in your kingdom.
Mon, 20 October 2014
(Eph.2:12-22; Ps.85:9-14; Lk.12:35-38)
“You who were once far off
have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”
We who “were excluded from the community of Israel,” who were not of His chosen people upon whom His Spirit rested and so were “without hope and without God in the world,” now are “fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God” by the great grace of the cross of Christ. Now, “in Him [we] are being built into this temple”; now all “have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
“He came and ‘announced the good news of peace to you who were far off, and to those who were near” – to us who were far off, we of the nations apart from “the covenant and the promise,” that the promise might be ours as well; but also to those who were near, those to whom the covenant had been given. For those who were near were also far off; they too were blind to His presence in their midst and needed their eyes opened by the living Christ. For though the word and the sacrifice were at their hands, far was He from their hearts, and so the blessed coming of the Messiah is for these, of course, as well. He came, in fact, for them first of all.
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Gentile or Jew, it does not matter. Now there is but one race: Christian. Now there is but one Savior for all. For now indeed there is “glory dwelling in our land,” and any who come to it become children of its light and are fitted into the House of the Lord. “He proclaims peace” now unto all, that all might know “His benefits.”
And are we ready for His coming again? Do we heed our Lord’s exhortation in our gospel today? Do we serve Him constantly, ever keeping a place for Him in our hearts and at our tables, that when He comes the great promise He makes to His servants – “He will put on an apron, seat them at table, and proceed to wait on them” – we will know? Will we be gathered into His heart and His home? Brothers and sisters, “become a dwelling for God in the Spirit.” Realize the blessing that is ours now through the cross. If under its blessed shade we take refuge, if we heed the call to come from our former residences so distant from Him and draw near to the love of the Lord, then already we will sense “the master’s return” upon us, and holy light it will bring to our souls.
O LORD, let us be built into your Temple
and become your dwelling place in the Spirit –
your light in our eyes, your peace in our souls,
your love in our hearts at all times.
YHWH, let us be prepared for the second coming of your Son; may the blood He shed make us one with you and with one another, that in peace we might wait for His return, that in your Spirit we might dwell even this day. As your holy temple let us be, that we might know your call in our souls and do your will in all things.
You look down upon us in kindness, LORD, and so your Son you have sent. He is Truth walking among us, leading us on the way of peace. And so, your benefits we may know; our work may yield its increase – our lives may be made worthy of your coming kingdom.
O LORD, let our eyes be open, looking for your Son’s return; let our hearts be set on the promise He leaves us. O let Him freely enter our homes and we be fed by His hand alone – please let us be joined to your saints in Heaven, forming one House in your NAME.
Sun, 19 October 2014
O true lover of the Crucified,
always you celebrated
the feast of the Cross
in the temple of your soul,
uniting yourself with the will of God
by taking upon yourself
the torments of the Lord
in a silent joy
and so finding the food
of sacrificial love
which sustains us in this world –
pray we shall be as Christ,
that we shall walk the path
He marks out for us,
and so in embracing the Cross
find true joy in the grief we suffer,
in the blessing of oneness
with our crucified Lord
and so with His Father in Heaven.
You who have been transformed
into your Beloved,
pray we shall join you
through the Passion of Christ.
Sun, 19 October 2014
(Eph.2:1-10; Ps.100:2-5; Lk.12:13-21)
“It is owing to His favor that salvation is yours through faith.
This is not your own doing, it is God’s gift.”
Brothers and sisters, salvation is no “reward for anything [we] have accomplished.” It is nothing we make by our own hands, but comes only by God’s “kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
“God is rich in mercy.” Here is the great truth; this is our great hope: “Because of His great love for us He brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin.” By our own hands we had but built up our condemnation and so “deserved God’s wrath.” Like the foolish rich man, we thought we could take our refuge in the things of this earth, that in them we would “have blessings in reserve for years to come.” But however much we “pull down [our] grain bins and build larger ones,” filling them with all the “grain” and “goods” of the world, we yet will have nothing; yet will we be empty and in need. For our life is in His hands alone. “He made us” and not we ourselves; “we are truly His handiwork,” and so, dependent on Him for all things. And if not for His mercy we would yet be dead in our sin.
Brothers and sisters, we must not “live at the level of the flesh”; we cannot give our “allegiance to the present age and the prince of the air” and remain in the favor of God. “Following every whim and fancy of our own” will but lead us down a dark road, and all the “piled-up wealth” we can amass will give us no light for the night ahead. Truly we must realize that we are “created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.” Now that by His mercy He has saved us, has lifted us from the mire into which we’d sunk, it is ours to “serve the Lord with gladness” and “come before Him with joyful song.”
“In Christ Jesus [God] raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens, that in the ages to come He might display the great wealth of His favor.” And should we not but accept this gift from Him “whose kindness endures forever”? Should we not humble ourselves before our Holy Lord and “enter His gates with thanksgiving”? All He requires of our souls is to accept the salvation He brings us, and to grow “rich in the sight of God.”
O LORD, make us rich in your sight;
by the favor you have granted us
through the salvation wrought in Christ Jesus,
remake us in your image.
YHWH, you made us and have remade us in the image of your Son who has died for us that we might be dead in sin no more. Let us praise the great favor from you and live always according to your Word.
We have accomplished nothing, LORD, nothing but our own condemnation, nothing but distraction from you as we turn to the flesh and riches of this world. As to the evil spirit we give our allegiance, we find your wrath upon us; we find the death we have wrought by sin.
But you are merciful, LORD, and call us through your Son to salvation from this darkness that has enveloped our souls. You would indeed remake us in Christ; He would indeed restore us to our former glory and carry us to your kingdom. O let us not set our hearts on the riches of this earth but seek only the grace that comes to us at your hands, in His blood. Let us enter your courts with songs of praise this day.
Sat, 18 October 2014
O heroic witnesses
to the faith,
O loyal followers of Jesus
who took up the cup
of torture and death
with desire only to join your Lord,
with delight and joy
at the deadly blows…
your offering of body and blood
because it was one
with Christ’s own,
done with love for those
who killed you –
pray we shall so completely
embrace our call,
embrace the cross
provided us by the Lord,
that with your same thirst for truth
we shall lay down our lives for our brothers.
Direct download: Oct._19_Isaac_Jogues_John_de_Brebeuf_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 7:00 PM
Sat, 18 October 2014
(Is.45:1,4-6; Ps.96:1,3-5,7-10; 1Thes.1:1-5b; Mt.22:15-21)
“I am the Lord and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.”
Oh brothers and sisters, how clear our Scripture today makes it that “great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is He beyond all gods.” Indeed there is no other God. It is He who grasped the “right hand” of even the pagan king, Cyrus, “subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service.” The heart of this king and all kings and all lands are in His hands – He alone rules all nations! Do you see this? Do you understand that if He calls this foreigner by “name, giving [him] a title,” that there is none that is beyond His reach, that is not under His eye? By the Lord’s power this pagan has conquered the nations of the world. And why? Why does He arm him who knows Him not? “So that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none beside [Him].”
Our psalmist sings so well of the singular power of the Lord God: “All the gods of the nations are things of naught, but the Lord made the heavens.” Again I ask, do you see this? All nations recognize Him who made the heavens and the earth; even these “tremble before Him.” And so all are called to “tell His glory among the nations, among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.” For all must be encouraged to “give the Lord the glory due His name”; all must be offered the honor of knowing the greatness of our God.
One of these nations who have come to knowledge of the one God we hear of in our second reading. Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers and sisters loved by God” for their “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He gives thanks to God the Father that this Gentile people has come to faith in Him “with much conviction.” What has been proclaimed so long now bears fruit. For even the millennium before our psalmist had called the “families of nations” to “bring gifts, and enter His courts,” to “worship the Lord in holy attire.” None has ever been barred from adoring Him who is the One God and Father of all. But now the Gospel comes not “in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.” Now the word is anointed by Jesus’ blood. So now all nations indeed come before Him, giving “the Lord glory and praise.”
And when Jesus says, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” He does not remove anything from under God’s domain. For even the things of Caesar are in God’s hands (as is the coin between Jesus’ fingers today), as the Son makes clear in His words before Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above” (Jn.19:11). And, “the Lord is King” and King is His Son, and “He governs the peoples with equity.” Let all declare the glory of Him besides whom “there is no other.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The World Is a Work of Art (Made by the Hand of God)" (1st half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, all the earth belongs to you;
let us run in the way you command,
ever giving praise to the glory of your NAME.
YHWH, there is none beside you – you are the Most High God, the only God, the living God… and greatly should we praise you. We should worship you alone, for you alone are worthy of worship. O let us sing to you all the day long!
All the nations are in your hands, LORD and God; all kings run in the way you lead them. There is none above your power or beyond your reach – the world is at your command. As Jesus holds the coin of Caesar between His fingers, so all this earth is under your power, to be disposed with as you desire.
Send your Spirit into us, dearest LORD, O mighty God, that your power might come to us and conform us to your will, that we might labor each day for you and our poor work find your favor. Let us test you not, O LORD, but trust in your goodness toward us and be obedient to your Word.
Praise you for your glory, LORD! Let all souls give you due praise, that we might join with you who made us, that we might share in your surpassing glory.
Fri, 17 October 2014
O bringer of the Good News,
the light of the Gospel,
to many nations…
a thorough account you have given us
of all Jesus did and taught
and of the Holy Spirit’s work
among His disciples;
and so the Lord’s peace
may enter our homes,
and we embrace Him with Mary –
pray, dear physician,
that the Word of the Lord
may indeed come to our hearts
through the words you declare,
and we be healed by His grace
and illumined by His Spirit;
the glory of the kingdom pray we know.
Though He has been taken from our sight,
let us proclaim His presence
with great joy,
for He yet speaks to all our souls
in the words you have recorded,
in the fire of God that guided your hand.
Fri, 17 October 2014
(2Tm.4:9-17; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Lk.10:1-9)
“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,
so that through me the preaching task might be completed
and all the nations might hear the Gospel.”
As I read of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples as He “sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit,” and particularly His words to them to “eat what they set before you,” I am reminded of the command given Peter in his dream to “take and eat” of the unclean animals (Acts 10:13), this just before the first Gentile converts came to him seeking the Word of God. And, of course, similar terminology is present in Jesus’ sending his workers as if into a harvest: in this case, the Lord shall eat of the feast the disciples are sent forth to prepare.
We know our work is our food, that the labor the Lord imparts to us serves as our daily bread. And we know that the wheat that becomes His precious Body and the Word that is cultivated by His apostles, by His preachers and prophets, is the food that sustains us, that strengthens us for our daily tasks. All we do must be blessed by Him and be, as it were, a “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” and His kingdom, which is “a kingdom for all ages,” and His dominion, which “endures through all generations,” shall become known in our midst.
It is not easy to eat of this food, to drink of this cup. We see how alone Paul finds himself in our first reading. “Everyone abandoned me,” he declares in reference to his trial before the courts of this world. He pleads with Timothy to join him soon, for many have left his side: “I have no one with me but Luke.” Indeed, he has nothing but the Word of God. And most apparent in the Lord’s instruction to His disciples is the utter reliance on God we must find. Impoverished He sends them forth, dependent only on their preaching and healing to feed themselves. Yes, He sends them forth “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Not a happy prospect. But they have the Word of the Lord to make them strong and protect them from all evil of this world, and nothing could be more sure than this.
Into so many homes Luke’s gospel has come, bringing its peace to all who abide in the Lord. The proclamation by this great evangelist that “the reign of God is at hand” comes to our hearts even this day. Let us make room for this Word within ourselves and it shall feed us on our journey to the kingdom, and by its grace we shall complete our work on this earth. May the word of the Lord go ever forth.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, send forth your laborers
to declare the glory of your kingdom to all nations.
YHWH, send forth workers into your harvest, that all might hear your Word preached to their souls and find your peace in their hearts. Your reign be upon us this day.
O LORD, your kingdom endures through all generations; to your glory there is no end. O let us share in your holiness, let us share in your glory! and let us share your glory with all souls on the face of this earth. Though we must stand alone as has Paul, though we might be rejected by those to whom we come, yet let us be faithful to your Word and with great strength and confidence accomplish your will.
You are our strength, O LORD, and you are our peace; send us forth in your Name to preach and to heal. Let your kingdom come into our midst through your blessed disciples, who speak only of your glory, who find refuge in your might. Nothing do we need if we have you, LORD. Please stand at our side.
Thu, 16 October 2014
O wheat of Christ
ground by the teeth of wild beasts
and so made His bread,
His leaven unto Heaven…
by such heroic witness
you became one with the Lord,
joining Him in death
and so in eternal life –
pray we shall find the strength and faith
to follow in your sacrificial footsteps,
that it will also be our sole desire
to die in Jesus’ name,
to be remade in His glory.
Teach us the way,
for it seems so dimmed
by the material things
the devil presents to our vision;
pray for us, blessed victim,
that our thirst for life in Him
will overcome any obstacle
and so our journey to His kingdom
be made straight by His grace.
His flesh and blood be our own this day.
Thu, 16 October 2014
(Eph.1:11-14; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,12-13; Lk.12:1-7)
“What you have whispered in locked rooms
will be proclaimed from the housetops.”
What we have whispered and what has been whispered to us, the teaching of the Lord, the truth of the Spirit, is destined to grow unto praise of God – to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. What begins here in a small way in Jesus the Messiah, shall proceed in His disciples to all nations. In the dark, first it is but whispered. It sinks deep into the locked rooms of our guarded hearts. There the truth finds a home, takes root, and grows. And all the world shall know… All the world shall know all that is spoken in your heart.
Brothers and sisters, “when you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit who had been promised.” In Him and in His truth whispering in your heart you found “the pledge of our inheritance, the first payment against the full redemption of a people God has made His own to praise His glory.” Though a tiny spark at first, concealed in the dark, this flame has burned intensely, and now becomes the fire of praise unto God. “We were predestined to praise His glory”; this was the Lord’s desire from the first moment He touched us with His Word. And now His plan must be fulfilled.
As Jesus looks about in our gospel and sees “a crowd of thousands had gathered, so dense that they were treading on one another,” He realizes how the flame has already begun to grow. And so He warns His disciples to be true to the Word He has labored to plant in their minds and hearts and souls. He knows that they will be tempted by “the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” that they may be inclined to speak what will tickle the public’s ear in order to gain their approval and support. Thus does He say, “Do not be afraid”: do not be afraid of what the truth may bring or that you might be killed for speaking it. Remain true to what I have whispered to you in our locked rooms, for the Word