Sun, 23 October 2016
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.
Sun, 23 October 2016
(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, 22 October 2016
O tireless preacher of God’s Word,
how well, how completely,
you called all men,
and especially the priests of the Lord,
to a life of holiness,
to shine the light of Christ;
with patience and sound doctrine
and the example of a blameless life
you sought to save souls
throughout the world
and bring them into the fold
of Holy MotherChurch –
pray this day apostles go forth
in the brightness of holiness
as light to the world,
drawing all men to God.
In such wisdom let truth be known,
the truth of our Savior Jesus Christ,
that every heart might call Him Lord
and proclaim the Church as His own.
Pray not a day pass,
not an hour upon this plane,
wherein His Word is not heard.
Sat, 22 October 2016
“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
“The one who humbles himself will be exalted,” for it is the lowly the LORD hears. And in no greater way, and for no greater benefit, do we humble ourselves than to recognize our sinfulness before God. It is then we prove ourselves His own, for it is then Truth is with us.
We must guard ourselves ever from the sin of pride, brothers and sisters; it is just such presumption that breaks down the spiritual life, for it separates us from our proper place before our Lord and God. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted”; “He hears the cry of the oppressed.” He does not come to heal those who are well, nor does He respond to the prayer of the oppressor; and our life on this earth is one of continual healing, and whenever we judge another we condemn our souls.
“May it not be held against them!” is Paul’s prayer for his unjust accusers and those who have deserted him. (How like Christ’s prayer from the cross it is!) He is crushed before the courts of this world and yet does not judge, and yet does not condemn. For he is the servant of the Lord and shows himself faithful to such a call. Even as he is “poured out like a libation,” he remains faithful, unwavering in his hope of standing before and being redeemed by “the just judge.” He knows fully that “the Lord redeems the lives of His servants” and that “He who serves God willingly is heard,” and so he humbles himself when accused, trusting that “the Lord will rescue [him] from every evil threat and will bring [him] safe to His heavenly kingdom.”
Yes, “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” How blessed are they who know their humble place before the Lord, for He hears them and comes quickly to rescue them when they cry out to Him in all their humility. And of course our greatest rescue must be from sin, that which has made us base before His eyes. To its recognition and for its overcoming by the Lord’s grace we must dedicate ourselves every day of our lives. And so we cry out for forgiveness. And so we return to our homes justified.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "This World of Sin" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you are the just Judge –
hear our cry and save us from oppression.
YHWH, those who take refuge in you are saved from every evil; those who call out to you are heard and redeemed. Those who are humble before you, you exalt to the heavens, but those who are proud condemn themselves.
What hope have we but you, O LORD, we poor sinners who so soon shall die? What more can we do than spend our lives for you – in this there is great grace through all our days, and a crown of righteousness in the end. Thus we who are nothing, who would come to nothing without your mercy, may reach even unto your throne, O Most High God. For you indeed hear the cry of the poor; the just petition of a broken heart you cannot resist.
As widows and orphans we walk the face of this dark earth; as slaves in bonds we look for freedom. Come and wed us to yourself, O Father in Heaven, and we shall enter your House justified.
Fri, 21 October 2016
(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, 20 October 2016
(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, 19 October 2016
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.
Wed, 19 October 2016
“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, 18 October 2016
O heroic witnesses
to the faith,
O loyal followers of Jesus
who took up the cup
of torture and death
with desire only to join your Lord,
with delight and joy
at the deadly blows…
your offering of body and blood
because it was one
with Christ’s own,
done with love for those
who killed you –
pray we shall so completely
embrace our call,
embrace the cross
provided us by the Lord,
that with your same thirst for truth
we shall lay down our lives for our brothers.
Direct download: Oct._19_Isaac_Jogues_John_de_Brebeuf_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Tue, 18 October 2016
(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, 17 October 2016
(2Tm.4:9-17; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Lk.10:1-9)
“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,
so that through me the preaching task might be completed
and all the nations might hear the Gospel.”
As I read of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples as He “sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit,” and particularly His words to them to “eat what they set before you,” I am reminded of the command given Peter in his dream to “take and eat” of the unclean animals (Acts 10:13), this just before the first Gentile converts came to him seeking the Word of God. And, of course, similar terminology is present in Jesus’ sending his workers as if into a harvest: in this case, the Lord shall eat of the feast the disciples are sent forth to prepare.
We know our work is our food, that the labor the Lord imparts to us serves as our daily bread. And we know that the wheat that becomes His precious Body and the Word that is cultivated by His apostles, by His preachers and prophets, is the food that sustains us, that strengthens us for our daily tasks. All we do must be blessed by Him and be, as it were, a “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” and His kingdom, which is “a kingdom for all ages,” and His dominion, which “endures through all generations,” shall become known in our midst.
It is not easy to eat of this food, to drink of this cup. We see how alone Paul finds himself in our first reading. “Everyone abandoned me,” he declares in reference to his trial before the courts of this world. He pleads with Timothy to join him soon, for many have left his side: “I have no one with me but Luke.” Indeed, he has nothing but the Word of God. And most apparent in the Lord’s instruction to His disciples is the utter reliance on God we must find. Impoverished He sends them forth, dependent only on their preaching and healing to feed themselves. Yes, He sends them forth “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Not a happy prospect. But they have the Word of the Lord to make them strong and protect them from all evil of this world, and nothing could be more sure than this.
Into so many homes Luke’s gospel has come, bringing its peace to all who abide in the Lord. The proclamation by this great evangelist that “the reign of God is at hand” comes to our hearts even this day. Let us make room for this Word within ourselves and it shall feed us on our journey to the kingdom, and by its grace we shall complete our work on this earth. May the word of the Lord go ever forth.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, send forth your laborers
to declare the glory of your kingdom to all nations.
YHWH, send forth workers into your harvest, that all might hear your Word preached to their souls and find your peace in their hearts. Your reign be upon us this day.
O LORD, your kingdom endures through all generations; to your glory there is no end. O let us share in your holiness, let us share in your glory! and let us share your glory with all souls on the face of this earth. Though we must stand alone as has Paul, though we might be rejected by those to whom we come, yet let us be faithful to your Word and with great strength and confidence accomplish your will.
You are our strength, O LORD, and you are our peace; send us forth in your Name to preach and to heal. Let your kingdom come into our midst through your blessed disciples, who speak only of your glory, who find refuge in your might. Nothing do we need if we have you, LORD. Please stand at our side.
Mon, 17 October 2016
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.
Mon, 17 October 2016
O wheat of Christ
ground by the teeth of wild beasts
and so made His bread,
His leaven unto Heaven…
by such heroic witness
you became one with the Lord,
joining Him in death
and so in eternal life –
pray we shall find the strength and faith
to follow in your sacrificial footsteps,
that it will also be our sole desire
to die in Jesus’ name,
to be remade in His glory.
Teach us the way,
for it seems so dimmed
by the material things
the devil presents to our vision;
pray for us, blessed victim,
that our thirst for life in Him
will overcome any obstacle
and so our journey to His kingdom
be made straight by His grace.
His flesh and blood be our own this day.
Mon, 17 October 2016
(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.
Fri, 30 September 2016
(Job 42:1-3,5-6,12-16; Ps.119:66,71,75,91,125,130,135; Lk.10:17-24)
“I watched Satan fall from the sky like lightning.”
Oh how our readings conspire together today to bring heavenly light to our eyes. Truly by them the Lord would say to us what He says to His apostles, what is so evident with Job: “Blest are the eyes that see what you see.” For what more could we hope to behold than the defeat of Satan and the power of the Almighty at work in our lives?
“I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you,” Job declares unto the Lord who stands before him. Could there be a greater blessing than this for him who has longed for just this moment? For just in this moment comes to him who has suffered so greatly at the hands of Satan the vindication of the Lord’s servant, the justice that is in the hand of God. Truly is Satan now cast down before the Lord of all, and truly do the eyes and the heart of Job witness this power of the Most High. For truly is he set free from the evil one’s clutches and blessed so abundantly. Job’s eyes see the return and the increase of his myriad of animals; they witness the great blessing of seven sons and three daughters, of whom it is said, “No other women were as beautiful as the daughters of Job.” These eyes behold “his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren,” yes, but the greatest of all visions for which Job is truly blessed and which brings any and all other blessings is that his eye has seen the Lord: he knows now Him who has made him and rejoices sublimely with the apostles that his name is “inscribed in heaven,” indeed that it cannot be blotted out; for Satan has done all he could to accomplish this, and failed.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes” – our psalmist’s words could be Job’s own, for indeed in the Lord’s faithfulness He has afflicted Job to “teach [him] wisdom and knowledge.” And what knowledge the seventy-two disciples receive this day in our gospel; a knowledge hidden from all ages, a power residing only with God, is given over unto their spirits. Satan himself and all his minions are now subject to their command. What falls short of the light in their eyes; what do they now lack? And so, what can they do but rejoice greatly? For even Jesus Himself rejoices “in the Holy Spirit”; even the Son of God gives “grateful praise” to the Father for the power and wisdom granted His “merest children.” Brothers and sisters, the blessings of the Lord are overwhelming… and we do not yet even see heaven!
“The revelation of your words sheds light,” O Lord, “giving understanding to the simple.” Let us hear what you wish to teach us this day. That which “prophets and kings wished to see… and hear” you reveal to us at this time – that the power of your Word casts out sin and Satan, and that your own glory you share with your little ones on earth. Bless us here with your gifts, O Lord. Remove from our hearts all fear. Let us know with certainty that you have destroyed the evil one, and draw us now inextricably to your kingdom.
O LORD, let our eyes see you,
that we might not sin against you but do your holy will.
YHWH, you are great beyond compare, the LORD of Heaven and earth; yet you share your greatness with your children, delivering power into their hands.
How can we bear to see you, LORD? How can such wonder be known to our eyes? Make us repentant of our sin and innocent before you, then we shall be able to receive your great gifts.
LORD, even Satan and his minions are subject to us, for they are subject to you and we are yours alone. Help us ever to trust in you, and that our names are written in Heaven. For if it is upon Heaven our sights are set, then we shall find no trouble upon this earth; we shall be subject to none of the wiles of the evil one.
We have been afflicted by you, O LORD, afflicted as Job by the scourges of Satan. It has seemed to us that you left us abandoned, but this was to teach us of your loving presence and just how close you are to our souls. Open our eyes to see you this day, and all your many blessings.
Thu, 29 September 2016
O great interpreter of holy Scripture,
seeking the wisdom and power of God
to what the Lord says
in His Word
and so served to dispel
ignorance of Christ;
from your hermitage you came
to serve the Church just so,
to enlighten the minds of the faithful –
pray the Lord shall send forth today
the light of His wisdom and grace
upon those who turn to the pages
of the Word of God in prayer,
that He may be understood in truth,
that Jesus may walk amongst us again…
that knowing the Christ
we may become more like Him
and live according to His instruction,
as a lamp burning brightly in this world
to draw all men to the Lord
and the salvation of their souls,
which He so deeply desires.
Thu, 29 September 2016
(Job 38:1,12-21,40:3-5; Ps.139:1-3,7-10,13-14,24; Lk.10:13-16)
“I put my hand over my mouth.”
When the Lord speaks, what can we be but silent? When He chastises us for our pride and sin, we can only be ashamed. No defense have we before Him who holds us and all the world in His mighty hand and who comes to us with His redeeming love. We can but bow before Him.
The Lord has “commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place”; He has “entered into the sources of the sea [and] walked about in the depths of the abyss” – He has “comprehended the breadth of the earth” and the highest heavens. And so, if we “take the wings of the dawn, if [we] settle at the farthest limits of the sea,” He is there. If we “go up to the heavens” or “sink to the netherworld,” He is present. He is present everywhere, and everywhere we are, we are subject to His hand. For He has “formed [our] inmost being”; He has “knit” us all “in [our] mother’s womb.” And He alone knows “the dwelling place of light” and “the abode of darkness,” and to which place our souls shall come. There is nothing we can say before the Creator and Judge of all the earth except, “I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works,” as we humbly give thanks to Him who scrutinizes all our ways.
And when He comes to us with His love, when He has wrought forgiveness in “the miracles worked in [our] midst” by the grace of the only Son… when redemption for all our sin He offers by a merciful hand, what must we do but accept it? For how shall it be for us on “the day of judgment” if we reject the Word of God walking among us and speaking to our hearts? It cannot but “go ill” with us if we fail to reform our broken lives when the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth stands before us with love in His arms, blood pouring from them as He hangs upon a cross.
Should not our hands be over our mouths at such a sight, brothers and sisters, at such a witness of undying love? Should it not convict us of our sin and make our hearts burn with a spirit of repentance and cry silently to God as our prideful tongues cleave like stone to our palate? What hope have you if you yet dare to speak before Him? Rather, bow your heads and fall to your knees and beg the forgiveness of Him who has made you and who loves you to the heights and depths, with all the breadth of His Spirit.
Lord, like Job, I have “no more” to say; I am yours.
(Blessed silence before the Lord may we all come to know.)
O LORD, it is you who made us and you who save us;
let us not be hurled down to the realm of death
but raised up to dwell with you.
YHWH, what should we do but repent in sackcloth and ashes before your majesty? What can we be but silent before you? For you are all-powerful and all-knowing, and we are but your creatures.
What place has pride before your glory, LORD? How can we be so foolish as to assert our will and our way before you whose ways are not known to man, whose will is so far above and beyond our own? It is you who have made the world and all it holds; it is you who have formed us in our mother’s womb. And would we presume to instruct you? And would we be obstinate in following your commands?
O LORD, though we are nothing, but dust of the earth, yet you love your humble creatures as you love all you have made. For you have made us good. Have pity on us poor sinners and help us to heed your Word which comes to us through your Son and His apostles. May we find ourselves at home in your sight, in your heavenly kingdom.
Wed, 28 September 2016
O mighty messengers of the Lord,
ministers of His will,
bringing His word and His power
to all poor souls on earth,
you serve to lead us unto Heaven…
you who do the bidding of God,
you who are first among those
who stand around His throne
and sing His praise,
you who are so faithful
in defending His Kingship
and keeping us from harm –
cast the devil from our midst,
instill the word of Jesus’ coming
in our hearts,
bring His healing to the lost sheep,
and see that we join you
on His holy mountain on high;
carry us in your arms
to the place the Savior prepares for us
with you and all your army in His presence.
Wed, 28 September 2016
(Dn7:9-10,13-14 or Rv.12:7-12; Ps.138:1-5; Jn.1:47-51
I shall treat of both first readings)
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
And who shall see such visions? He whose own vision is pure, he who is as Nathanael – he who has “no guile in him.” Such is the case both with Daniel and John the Evangelist, of whose visions we hear in either first reading. The angels are with them, indeed, and they lift them up to look upon the Most High God and His Anointed One.
Both first readings reveal vision of Jesus the Son, whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and by whom “salvation and power have come.” In Daniel is shown the Ancient One, the Father, from whom all power comes as “surging streams of fire” from His throne; and in Revelation, John presents the defeat of Satan, who would presume to be like God but is “driven out” and “hurled down to earth” by the archangel Michael (whose name tells us that none is like God) before “the reign of our God” comes. In Revelation is included, too, our own participation in “the blood of the Lamb,” that the Church, “by the word of their testimony,” will share in the Lord’s dominion.
And David’s psalm sings today: “Great is the glory of the Lord.” His voice joins with the “thousands upon thousands… ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads” attending Him. “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise,” he declares, and finds himself “worship[ing] at [His] holy temple” Him whose name is “great above all things.” Is not the vision promised Nathanael and witnessed to by Daniel and John shared here with David, too; does he not glimpse, and share with us who long for the presence of the Lord, the ladder which reaches to heaven made known to Jacob in dream? Is not Jesus, His Lord, with him even in this time before His coming? It is one Jesus the eyes of all the pure of heart see and shall see. And did not the Old Testament prophet see that which was to come? Was not the eternal vision of heaven revealed to his eyes, as well as John’s? And how can this be, that they see what we would call the future, except that it has always been?
Brothers and sisters, we must declare with Nathanael, “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel,” but we must do so as He does – in absolute honesty and utter faith. We must believe without guile and declare without hesitation that Jesus is Lord. To do so and to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him, our hearts and our eyes must be pure. Let us pray that we shall come now to vision of heaven, where His angels and His saints do reign.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels
ministering to you,
and hearts to receive their blessed help.
YHWH, like flames of fire your angels surround you and your holy throne. These myriads of spirits attend you, ministering to you day and night in the place where there is no night, where light shines seven times as brightly as the sun. O may we join them in singing your praises and in doing your will upon this earth! With eyes unveiled let us look upon your glory and unite with your angels in Heaven.
If only we had hearts without guile, O LORD; if only we were your true sons and daughters. Then we would declare freely that Jesus is your Son and our King, He whose dominion is everlasting, whose glory is one with your own. Then would the devil be cast from our souls, driven out from among us by your power at work in your angels. Then would we worship in joy in your holy Temple all our days and become children of your blessed light. O may your angels be with us always!
Tue, 27 September 2016
O simple and devout layman,
husband and father and clerk,
suddenly you were forced to flee
your homeland and family
with your missionary companions,
but death for the faith
each one of you met
upon disembarking in a foreign land –
pray, O blessed martyrs,
our faith shall be strong as your own,
that should we be called
to witness even with our lives
to the faith which gives us life,
we will be ready
to enter eternity
with Christ our Lord and Savior.
If tortures threaten our bodies, too,
intercede for us for grace,
that the face of Jesus alone
we shall look upon that day.
Tue, 27 September 2016
O faithful ruler
whose devotion served
to bring your death,
though you loved all your subjects,
caring especially for the poor,
and loved God and His Church above all,
your care and your faith
caused you to be killed
by those so jealous and selfish –
pray for us, good king,
and for the rulers in our midst,
that they will be inspired as you
with a self-effacing humility
and a desire for the truth of God’s way,
giving their lives in service
of the Lord and His people,
not seeking their own gain.
Pray the Mother of God
guide all leaders
and they turn to her in obedience,
that the will of the Father shall be done
and to this world His kingdom come
by the blood of His only Son.
Tue, 27 September 2016
(Job 9:1-12,14-16; Ps.88:3,10-15; Lk.9:57-62)
“Why, O Lord, do you reject me;
why hide from me your face?”
The cry of our psalmist certainly reflects that of Job, who in his travails asks, “How can a man be justified before God?” who realizes that the Lord “does great things past finding out” and that “should He come near [us], [we] see Him not.” But it also reflects Jesus’ treatment of those who might follow Him, and could easily be their cry as well.
“If I appealed to Him and He answered my call, I could not believe that He would hearken to my words.” Such a seemingly hopeless attitude may be understandable in one suffering such a plight as Job. For he is as “the mountains [removed] before they know it”; he is shaken as “the earth out of its place.” He is as one suddenly confounded by God, who is “wise in heart and mighty in strength.” Before such power how can he speak, or expect to be heard? And so, rightly in silence he must remain. Certainly he could cry out to the Lord, “Will you work wonders for the dead?… Do they declare your kindness in the grave, your faithfulness among those who have perished?” and in justice be saved from “the land of oblivion.” But the test Job undergoes passes beyond justice to the suffering of the innocent before the mighty power of God.
And what of those who would be Christ’s disciples spoken of in our gospel today? To them why does the Lord speak so severely? Why does it seem they, too, are unable to come before His face – why does He seem to reject them? Is He not of love, this Son of Man, unlike the judgmental God? Does He not welcome all with open arms? Then why such sharp words to those who approach and those He calls to “come away and proclaim the kingdom of God”? The Lord does not reject them, but puts them to the test as He has with Job to see if their hearts are truly set upon Him alone, as indeed they must be. It is, of course, for the great glory to which He calls them that all His disciples are chastised so vehemently.
Think not that He rejects you, brothers and sisters, when He hides His face from you. Know that you are never hidden from Him, and that should He remove Himself from your presence, it is only to grant you clearer vision of His face. None is more blessed than Job for none has known so fully the awesome power of God and given himself over to it so completely. None but Christ and His followers, who give up all things, who suffer all persecutions innocently, silently, in order to know the surpassing might and tender mercy of God. Indeed His “wonders [are] made known in darkness,” for then they most clearly shine.
O LORD, let us follow your Son, even unto death.
YHWH, we must give up all things to follow you; it must be your will alone we have in this world. Even if you should put us in darkness, yet we should defer to your judgment, to your power over all things for good.
Your Son is severe with those who would follow you, LORD, who would be as you are, as His disciples. For what a call this is! And how ready must we be to enter its demands. Your reign far surpasses anything we know, anything we come to rely on in this world, and so the passing of this world – and even our own lives – we shall not mourn but learn to entrust all our cares to you.
If the sun and the mountains are moved by you, LORD, how much more should we put ourselves in your hands. Our trust should be so complete that we accept even your seeming rejection. Hear our prayer and come to save us! that we might walk with your Son in your way.
Mon, 26 September 2016
O blessed help of the poor,
slave to widows and orphans
and all those most outcast
and in need,
the least of Christ’s brothers
you indeed gave your life to serve,
completely spending yourself
in their assistance
and leading your own brother priests
to do the same…
and so Christ Himself you waited upon
day in and day out
upon this earth –
pray that we, too, shall be like Jesus,
filled with compassion
for the needs of our neighbors,
sharing their poverty
as we empty ourselves as the Lord has done.
May all our prayers and desires
lead to such charity for the plight of others,
that we might fulfill with you
our Savior’s call to the Cross
and come, therefore, to the riches of Heaven.
Mon, 26 September 2016
(Job 3:1-3,11-17,20-23; Ps.88:2-8; Lk.9:51-56)
“My soul is surfeited with troubles
and my life draws near to the netherworld.”
After sitting in silence seven days, scraping the boils from his skin, finally, “Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.” Finally he cries out against all his troubles, asking, “Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” Only so much can mortal man bear, and so Job seeks now only the tranquility of death, wherein “the weary are at rest.”
How well our psalm today describes Job’s state, he who is among those “whose path is hidden from them, and whom God hemmed in.” For he truly finds himself now “numbered with those who go down into the pit… a man without strength” from whom all blessing has been taken. His “couch is among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom [God] remember[s] no longer and who are cut off from [His] care.” And so he prays for an end to his misery; so he seeks the forgetfulness of death to remove its pangs from his body and his heart.
And is it not these same pangs James and John would inflict upon the Samaritans who refuse to welcome Jesus: “Lord, would you not have us call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” Would they not plunge them “into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss” where Job sits in his innocence? Is it not right that God’s “wrath lies heavy” upon such as these? Let God’s “billows” “overwhelm” them, they declare.
But Jesus has another answer. He would not see even the guilty suffer the fate of the righteous Job. For He is now “firmly resolved to proceed toward Jerusalem,” where His crucifixion awaits. He is now upon the fulfillment of His mission here on earth, and it has nothing to do with punishing the sins even of His persecutors – it has only to do with His death. It is He upon whom God’s wrath shall be heavy, He who will be plunged into the pit… He who will suffer all punishment for sin. Even for these Samaritans (even for you and me), the Lord shall suffer and die, taking upon Himself the punishment James and John see rightly due them, rightly due to all. His cross completes the pangs inflicted upon Job. And through this cross the troubles shall be overcome.
Brothers and sisters, let us no longer cry for relief from our suffering, for that relief is at hand now in the cross of Christ; He has suffered all these things already, and we must but give them to Him to be drawn from the netherworld and set in His glory.
O LORD, let us be taken with your Son
from this world of darkness and death.
YHWH, save us from the dark abyss, from the nether world to which by our sin we come. Let us know that the price has been paid by your only Son, who has suffered all torments for us. In His sacrifice let us trust, and give to Him our cross.
Truly, LORD, this earth is a dark place, and it draws us to a darker place, an eternal abyss, where is no light. From the grave how shall we be saved, we who are mortal and decaying, we who are surfeited with troubles, with the bitterness of this disobedient age? Does it not seem to us there is no escape.
O let us not be forgetful of you, LORD, or of your love! Let us not forget that you have sent your only Son, to die not only for the righteous but also those who would cast Him out – His death means new life to all who offer Him their cross. How quickly He would take all darkness from us, how eagerly He awaits our turning to Him… O Jesus, lift all souls from the bottom of the pit; save us from the wrath we rightly deserve.
Sun, 25 September 2016
O highly honored martyrs
whose tomb drew many pilgrims
and brought about many miracles,
you laid down your lives as one in the Lord,
taking up His bitter and saving cup
all for your faith in Him and His Church,
and so, precious in His sight
was your death in His name –
from beyond the grave
pray for us this day,
that the healing blood of Christ our Savior
be poured upon our souls,
that we too might be raised by His sacrifice,
redeemed by the death He endured;
for He has overcome the world,
and you with Him in His blood.
Pray that we who are so weak of faith
may by the Lord’s grace and your intercession
bear witness to Jesus by our own deaths
upon the Cross with Him.
Sun, 25 September 2016
(Job 1:6-22; Ps.17:1-3,6-7; Lk.9:46-50)
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked I shall go back again.”
In the beginning and in the end, we have nothing: and so should be our attitude toward all things we are given – that they are not our own, that we do not possess them… that they shall pass from us unto eternity again. As shall we all.
In our first reading we begin to hear of Satan’s temptation of Job, of whom the Lord’s own words witness: “There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” But Satan in his jealousy responds, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” and recounts all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on His “servant.” The adversarial angel then wins from God permission to tempt Job by removing all his blessings.
And the persecution is strong. All in a day Job loses all his multitude of livestock, his servants, and his children. Four messengers come, each with catastrophic news, each the sole survivor of the tragedy of which they speak, and each following the previous “while he was yet speaking.” In a moment all but his life is taken from Job. But Job proves God’s assessment of his character true by proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” thus properly putting all things in God’s hands, and praising His glory even in such tragedy. We are told, “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” He is as the child Jesus sits beside Himself in our gospel today.
Satan has failed in his effort to get Job to curse God; he will not do so even at his wife’s prompting. But Job, so Christlike in his suffering the abandonment God’s Servant knows so fully upon the cross, shall fall short of the Christ in one respect: this innocent child will not be able to keep from decrying his state or withstand the accusations of others that he must be guilty of sin. He will not be able to suffer in silence, not opening his mouth to defend himself (taking this unwarranted persecution upon himself to redeem others, as Jesus has done) but will declare his “just suit” to the Lord, begging Him to “attend to [his] outcry,” saying with David in our psalm: “Hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” He shall not be able to keep from stating his innocence, from saying, “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night, though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.” And in this way Satan shall break him; in this manner he shall fall short of the perfect humility of Christ. (Though the Lord shall justify and reward his faithful servant in the end.)
Brothers and sisters, do not act with jealousy, as even the disciples seem to today in trying to stop one “not of [their] company” from healing in Jesus’ name. Do not even think among yourselves of who is the greatest. This is an abomination before God. Have the attitude of Job toward all things – that they are but gifts from the Lord and that we are nothing in ourselves. Then you will be like His little child and so know His blessings forever.
O LORD, naked we came forth
from our mother’s womb,
and naked we shall go back again –
our lives are in your hands.
YHWH, let us be as an innocent child sitting patiently at the side of your only Son. Though the foe come to test our hearts, by your grace let us prove ourselves worthy of your blessings. Let us never sin against you in word or in deed but place all things in your holy hands and accept whatever befalls us.
O LORD, let us never be jealous or proud; let us never imitate the sin of Satan, who would see your children falter, who would strike any against whom his envy might rise. Let us but seek to serve you in all humility and so know the great joy of being as your Son. From all wicked thoughts release our souls that we might walk with you.
Hear our prayer for mercy, LORD; though we be not perfect, you can make us so. Let it be our sole desire to be pure before you, that we shall never know your wrath or be cast from your sight. Take all things from us, but only spare our life. Please never leave our side.
Sat, 24 September 2016
(Amos 6:1,4-7; Ps.146:2,5-10; 1Tm.6:11-16; Lk.16:19-31)
“Keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Lord is coming. First of all, know this. “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” will reveal Himself “at the proper time.” Shall come the end of this world and the birth of the new in the presence of our all-holy God. Do not doubt this. Do not question it in your hearts. But believe.
Second, know the nature of our God. This our psalm makes abundantly clear: “The Lord gives sight to the blind” and “protects strangers… The fatherless and the widow He sustains, but the way of the wicked He thwarts.” And since “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down,” we must bow down and serve Him, bringing His love to this world; keeping “faith forever” we must give “food to the hungry,” showing His unending compassion to all those in need.
Third, know the fate which awaits those who fail to adhere to His command of love, those who stain themselves with comfort and riches in a vain existence and have no heart for those who suffer now by their lack. As He prepares a place of refuge in Abraham’s bosom for those who “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness,” so a place is set for those “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” but who were “not made ill by the collapse of Joseph,” who have no regard for the destruction of God’s people – who step over and upon the poor lying at their doors as they pursue the fatting of their bellies. “A great chasm is established” between the redeemed and the condemned; as Lazarus had no way to enter the door of the house of the rich man, so he cannot pass now into the arms of God… only now that darkness without is eternal – his torment shall not end.
It is popular to believe that Jesus somehow did away with punishment, that in His all-embracing love there is no longer need for justice, and so hell is no longer a factor. The “God of the Old Testament” is presented as the one of punishment with Him of the New conversely being of love. Brothers and sisters, they are one and the same God. And as in the time before Christ, the Lord forever showed compassion for the humble of the earth, so now Jesus shows condemnation to the wicked who refuse to turn from their ways. Only now the love and justice, which are also one, are made eternal by the coming of the end of the age in the Person of Jesus Christ. Continue to keep yourselves pure and serve the Lord – His Day is at hand.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us make the poor man our brother,
and we will know Jesus and so be with you.
YHWH, you secure justice for the oppressed; the poor and the downtrodden you raise up even as you cast their oppressors into the bowels of the earth. The path of the righteous you indeed bless, but the way of the wicked you thwart. You confuse those who do not listen to Moses and the prophets, those who reject your only Son, for you are just and no man can own what he readily spurns.
If it is the belly upon which we set our hearts, it shall grow fat and keep us from entering the narrow gate. If upon our own needs and wants alone we look, failing to see the longings of others or help them in their plight… we shall fail the test you place before us, and be unworthy to be called your sons, dear God.
For you are kind and loving, O LORD, and care always for the hungry and those in captivity. Though you dwell in unapproachable light, to us you come with great mercy to raise us to Heaven with your only Son.
Fri, 23 September 2016
(Ec.11:9-12:8; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:43-45)
“The dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”
“As a watch of the night” is our life, passing unnoticed while souls slumber. “You make an end of them in their sleep,” Psalm 90 prophesies (as we hear the same verses of this same psalm for the second time in three days); indeed man lies unaware of his coming death, ignorant of the day which passes. For though in our youth we “follow the ways of [our] heart, the vision of [our] eyes,” and seem to “ward off grief” at will, yet “the next morning [we] are like the changing grass”; so quickly does our flower fade. And so little of this do we see.
In our gospel the Lord speaks again to His disciples of His imminent death, and so, really, the death we all must undergo; but though He makes a clear point that they should listen carefully, saying, “Pay close attention to what I tell you,” yet they seem unable to hear His words. Our gospel tells us, “They failed… to understand this warning; its meaning was so concealed from them they did not grasp it at all.” He repeats what He has said before in no uncertain terms, and yet they are deaf to His word; yet they are blind.
How like us all the disciples are. When confronted with the coming of death how easily we shut our eyes. Though it draw upon us inevitably, how desperately we hold to the vanity of these passing things, unwilling to hear of the day when “the sun is darkened… and the strong men are bent… and the sound of the mill is low.” “Man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets” – so Qoheleth paints the image of the time when “the clouds return after the rain.” How compelling his verses are, and how ominous… and of this darkness we must hear. It is not wise to remain blind to the passing of this life, or with it we shall die when it ends. Though none of this should touch our souls, yet we must learn to let the body go.
O Lord, “you return man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men,’” yet you hold each of us in your loving hands. And so we cry unto you this day, “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” For we wait with expectant hearts for Him who has risen from the dead to come to us again. Let your Spirit breathe upon us now and turn this dust into the image of your Son. May it be your Day which comes to us, even as we die.
O LORD, we conquer death
through the death and resurrection of your Son –
be with us as we wait for His return.
YHWH, death comes inevitably to all. It draws near to us like the setting sun. We are mortal, the subjects of our own sin. And so to dust we return.
But your Son has subjected Himself to this death of ours, LORD; He has undergone its torments. In our place He has stood, and been broken for our sakes. He who lives with you in eternity has been delivered into the hands of men and suffered the darkness upon their souls. And so, may we not be born again?
O Jesus, you have overcome the darkness with your unending light; you have come to rescue us from falling into the well, that the clouds might not return again after the rain but that we might know new life with you in the morning after this world passes away, in the glory of your coming Day.
Help us, O LORD, to overcome our fear, to conquer the bonds of this dark place and our own mortality. Let this not be our lasting home, but raise us to your presence that even this day we might rejoice in you.
Thu, 22 September 2016
O holy priest
who bore the wounds of Christ
in your hands
and in your ministry,
who served the Lord so greatly
in casting out many demons
in your confessional,
and whom He thus blessed
with miracles of the Spirit –
pray for us of lukewarm faith
who falter day to day
in following our dear Jesus’ path.
So close to Him you were
in His suffering and His love;
so far are we
from His Cross and so His grace.
Pray we shall be strengthened to approach Him
and find healing for our weakness,
the frailty of our souls
which keeps us from knowing the Christ
and laying down our lives for Him
as He calls, as you have done…
O pray His blood be upon us!
Thu, 22 September 2016
(Ec.3:1-11; Ps.144:1-4; Lk.9:18-22)
“He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts.”
Yes, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens”; and there is a time for time to cease and the timeless to come to the fore – a time for the things above the heavens. And that fullness of time has come upon the earth, for the Son of Man has known His “time to be born”; and in man’s discovering “the work which God has done,” no time for vain toil is there anymore. The time has come to make Him our “refuge and [our] fortress,” our blessed “rock” of truth.
“One day when Jesus was praying in seclusion and His disciples were with Him,” the time had come for Him to “put the question to them”: “Who do you say that I am?” And now it was Peter’s “time to speak,” to declare the faith of the Church: “The Messiah of God.” And though it was not then time “to tell this to anyone,” for the Son of Man had yet to know His “time to die,” soon the time would come for the Son to rise, and then there would be no more “time to be silent.”
That time has come upon us now, brothers and sisters. Now is only “a time to plant” and “a time to build” – a time to raise the kingdom of heaven here on earth, a time to labor to complete God’s Church. For timelessness now has its time; life eternal overtakes us. And so we have only “time to love,” having broken the wheel of sin by the sacrifice of Christ and so come out from under the shadow of hatred. No return to the vanity of the things of this world is there for us, for we must do all as if doing nothing.
It is true: “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow,” but it is also so that the Lord “take[s] thought of him.” And in this earthen vessel He has placed the Spirit of life – and that Spirit is now known in full in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is “time to embrace” Him and know the “time of peace” He breathes eternally upon His creatures, letting all shadow pass away as we walk in His holy light and proclaim His holy name.
O LORD, your timelessness let us know in our hearts,
that we might overcome the world through your Son.
YHWH, in the fullness of time you sent your Son to die at our hands that we might be raised up with Him. And now that He has died for our sins, a new time has come to your people – a time of salvation.
All time pointed toward Him and all time flows from Him, and all time is in Him who is all that is. O LORD, let us make our home in Him and in His resurrection.
You are timeless, O LORD and God, and so how can we poor creatures so bound to time, so subject to the dust of this earth, come to know you who are beyond the heavens? We could never have discovered your hand at work among us if you had not sent your only Son to redeem us and reveal to us your glory. And so, let us embrace this gift you offer that we might mourn and weep no more but rejoice ever in your presence, despite the Cross that comes. Let us be raised on the Cross with Him that we might be raised unto His eternal reign.
Wed, 21 September 2016
(Ec.1:2-11; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:7-9)
“See, this is new!”
Here is He who is “new under the sun.” For it is not so that “John has been raised from the dead,” nor that “one of the prophets of old has arisen”: He has not “already existed in the ages that preceded us.” He is the Christ! He is the Messiah! He it is who has come to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.” In Him the dark of the night veiling our eyes is banished from our midst.
O Herod, drowning in your debauchery; O Qoheleth, pursuer of your passions in all their vanity, why do you race to catch up with the sun as if it should stand and wait for you? What makes you think you could hold the wind in your hand? Why would you see end of the rivers’ path to the sea? Why do you toil so blindly, taking your refuge in created things and frustrated when you cannot control them to your own ends, when they betray the peace you seek? “Back to dust” you shall indeed return, and the sun and the wind and the sea still stand; and above them all does reign our God, for whom “a thousand years… are as yesterday, now that it is past.” In Him you should have taken refuge.
Herod, do you too now begin to see the ends of your debauchery; does its emptiness now overtake your soul? Do you remember the words the prophet delivered to your ears? What is the cause of your curiosity, and will you listen now to the voice echoing through your halls? The kingdom of the world crumbles before our eyes and no “profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun,” unless it is the Lord who “prosper[s] the work of our hands for us.” Dead we are and alone will ever be in our profligacy, the emptiness upon us.
Qoheleth, your words are proven wrong: it is not so that “there is no remembrance of the man of old,” for we read your thoughts with diligence today; and three thousand years after your time you teach us still of the dark vision of life without the Christ. And of Him who has come after thee there is great remembrance, and more than this, for His breath is now upon us. In Him is “the ear filled with hearing” and the eye “satisfied with seeing,” for now truth and light do walk with us, even under the sun. And though our body “by evening wilts and fades” as of old, our soul “at dawn springs up anew.” For “the gracious care of the Lord [is] ours” and He “teach[es] us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And this wisdom is true; this wisdom is new: this wisdom bears us light to transcend the vanity of a worldly life and come to the kingdom of heaven.
O LORD, your Son is He who makes all things new –
let us live and work in the light of His presence.
YHWH, your Son is new under the sun; into our midst He has come. May we be more than anxious to see Him: may we be made new in Him.
In days past, LORD, the world and men toiled in futility for their sin against you, for their separation from you. You were ever new and ever calling us to life in you, but we labored in vain, going our own way – the way of darkness that leads to death, the way that is indeed apart from you. Return all souls to your light, your life, known to us now in your only Son.
You reign over all, LORD our God, all of time is but a moment to you and all the world is as a speck of dust. Have pity on us, LORD, for we are quick to wilt and fade. At daybreak may we rise with Jesus and walk in the light of your new day, dwelling forever in your reign, living and working always in your presence.
Tue, 20 September 2016
O faithful apostle
who so readily answered
the call of the Lord,
leaving your station in this world
to follow in His footsteps
and so find your place in Heaven,
who even with these first steps
brought others to the Christ
as you opened your heart
as well as your home
to Him and to the least of His brothers –
pray, dear brother through whom the Spirit has spoken,
that we too shall follow Jesus
and so find His grace and mercy,
and so find our way to the Father.
Pray our hearts will ever be
so open to hear His voice
and invite Him in to our table,
where He may eat and speak with us,
feeding us with His presence.
And pray we may be blessed as you
in drawing others to the Word, our God,
till all are one in His Body.
Tue, 20 September 2016
(Eph.4:1-7,11-13; Ps.19:2-5; Mt.9:9-13)
“Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.”
“Till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” the Word of the Lord shall be carried forth by all His “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”; indeed, “each of us has received God’s favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it,” and each of us plays a role in bringing to fulfillment the Gospel of our “one Lord.”
“Matthew got up and followed Him.” He was called, he was chosen, and he answered the Lord’s call without hesitation. And he brought the Lord in immediately to dine with Him, welcoming Him fully at his table. And because of his openness to God and His Word, and because of his generous response, we see that it is Jesus who in fact feeds him, that he in turn might feed others with the true teaching, “the one faith” in the “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all,” from the least of sinners to the greatest of apostles. We are all thus called to follow Jesus Christ, to find the mercy He so greatly desires to impart to our sinful lives, that we might be whole and able to serve Him well.
One day we shall come to perfection in Him; in Him it is already fulfilled. And now insofar as we share His love, insofar as we “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience,” the Spirit who is indeed the origin of our unity in Him works through us and we, even with the twelve apostles, serve to bring His blessed peace, His divine life of salvation, to the world. Yes, “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge,” and soon that Word will reach to the ends of the earth; and soon it will come to fulfillment in our sight.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to a great hope, and to a great mission to bring it to light. Let us keep our hearts set on the Gospel and the promise it contains, and “build up the Body of Christ” until we stand with Him, as Him, in His eternal kingdom which stands in our midst even today through the words of His apostle and evangelist, in the breath of the Spirit upon us and in its message.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us all be drawn as one
into the Body of your Son,
that we poor sinners may become His saints.
YHWH, you are over all and work through all and in all, and your Gospel message goes out to all the world through your apostles and evangelists. O let us listen to your voice as it comes to us in the words of Scripture and through your prophets’ preaching! Let us be quick as Matthew to answer your call, that the Body of your Son might be built up on this earth and soon come to fulfillment in Heaven.
We are all sinners, O LORD; you see this and you know this. Help us to see this as you do and so come readily to the table Jesus spreads before us, a table of mercy and grace in answer to our repentance. Let us recognize that only in Him will we find our place with you in the kingdom. And help us to proclaim your love and your peace with your apostles, that in the one faith all might be baptized and come as your children to praise your Name.
You are our hope, O LORD; let your Spirit go forth.
Mon, 19 September 2016
O blessed, holy martyrs
who won for yourselves
the crown of salvation
by your undying faith in God,
who cherished well
the prize of persecution
the Lord offered your souls,
who stood fast despite the death
that raged around you –
pray we shall know as you
that all the hairs of our head
are numbered by God
and in His all-embracing providence
He has care over us all,
that we might stand as strong
in our little trials
as you did before the face
of the executioner.
To all people be a witness to the faith
that reaches ever unto Heaven.
Direct download: Sept._20_Andrew_Kim_Paul_Hasang_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Mon, 19 September 2016
(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21)
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God
and act upon it.”
Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ.
For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid.
“When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God.
O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word
and walk in your way.
YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands.
O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father.
Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Sun, 18 September 2016
O protector of your sheep,
you laid down your life
giving your blood
for the service of souls
that all might witness
the surpassing love of the Lord
and the glory that awaits
those who die in Him –
pray for shepherds
who feed their sheep,
not lording it over them
or seeking what gain they might find
taking the milk and wool
of their flock
and leaving them naked and lifeless…
but living the call of Christ
as you, dear shepherd, have done.
Pray those who govern God’s Church
will be ready even to die for Him
and the people they serve.
Let all be protected by the blood of the Lamb.
Sun, 18 September 2016
(Prv.3:27-34; Ps.15:1-5; Lk.8:16-18)
“The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just He blesses.”
Light fills the house of him “who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue,” for he who does these things is as light itself, having no part with darkness. He knows that “to the Lord the perverse man is an abomination,” and so he “env[ies] not the lawless man and choose[s] none of his ways” but chooses always the way of God and so finds the “friendship” of the Lord which is with “the upright,” which is as light shining upon him and through him.
As for the wicked, “he who has not will lose even the little he thinks he has,” for the Lord is not with him; and all he has gained by “usury” and by “bribe[s] against the innocent” shall be revealed in all its emptiness on the day the Lord shines His encompassing light – he will indeed be left with nothing, for nothing he truly has. He who has “plot[ted]… evil against his neighbor” and “quarrel[led]… with a man without cause” will never be able to stand in the light of the Lord, for he has made his home in darkness, and in darkness he shall remain. Certainly this “reprobate is despised” by the Lord, for his rebellion puts him in opposition to the kingdom of God.
And so we must “take heed, therefore, how [we] hear” the Lord’s instruction, for His instruction is as light itself and brings the light of salvation to the receptive soul. This light we must make our own and place it “on a lampstand so that whoever comes in” – whoever approaches the house in which we dwell – “can see it” and can share in it freely. All shade of sin must be removed from our souls so that without hindrance and without hesitation our light will shine forth and all will know the abiding love of the Lord. “He who does these things shall never be disturbed.” He who does these things, who reflects the Lord’s justice and love all his days, cannot but be blessed by the Lord, for he himself becomes His own.
“When He is dealing with the arrogant, He is stern, but to the humble He shows kindness.” And so, having his deeds “brought to light” is as a curse for the wicked, but to the just it means eternal blessing.
O LORD, all is known in your holy light:
help us to do good and avoid evil.
YHWH, let us walk blamelessly before you; in innocence let us dwell. Let us not turn to the paths of the wicked but remain ever in your light, walking always in your way. Then we shall be blessed with your presence.
LORD, all shall be exposed in your holy light; from you none can hide. And so, let us not be afraid to do your will with confidence, with faith in your protection and guidance. Let us not shy away from shining your light with our very lives, for in this way we shall be kept from straying.
Those who stray, O LORD, you condemn. Those whose hearts are hardened against you walk the path to perdition, and so as long as they continue to travel in sin, their destruction is assured. For darkness has no place in your kingdom of light, and those who proudly persist in their sin cannot but be cast from your presence. But let us do no harm; let us honor you by thinking and speaking only truth and remaining ever humble before you.
Sat, 17 September 2016
(Amos 8:4-7; Ps.113:1-2,4-8; 1Tm.2:1-8; Lk.16:1-13)
“If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?”
This world and the things of it are not our own; we are children of heaven. Yet we are here amongst these things which are foreign to us. And so, what should we do? With all the Lord puts in our hands as we pass through this generation we must honor God. Though in the world of mammon, we must use it to serve our God in heaven. Thus we shall prove ourselves worthy to enter into that kingdom which is above, which is our true home. This call is stated simply in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “On earth as it is in heaven” – we must bring the kingdom of God to bear in this place we find ourselves.
In our first reading, Amos makes clear what our attitude should not be with regard to the riches or power we may find at our disposal. We must never “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.” We must never reflect the greed of these merchants who cannot wait for the sabbath, the Lord’s Day, to end, that they might satiate their thirst for wealth, and this by dishonest means. The Lord will condemn such pride and avarice.
In our second reading, Paul gives a clearer idea the manner in which power should be employed in his exhortation to prayer for those in position of authority. God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,” and if our kings seek to maintain peace in the world, they will save not only themselves, but provide ground for others to come to God. Again, all that is given us, be it riches, power, wisdom or strength, must be given over to service of the Lord. We must be as He “who gave Himself as ransom for all” in His teaching, in His healing, indeed, in the laying down of His very life. And so, if we ourselves are teachers, we must be as Paul and do so “in faith and truth,” without any deceit. And when we offer prayers, we must always lift up “holy hands, without anger or argument.” In our prayer should always be forgiveness of others.
In our gospel parable Jesus illustrates and commends not deceitful dealings with others’ wealth, but to be wise in what is given us, to turn the riches of this world against the prince of this world (Satan), and use them for the good of the kingdom. Even in these things which are the devil’s we must work to serve our Master in heaven. And so we feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we pray for those in power, that the Lord who is “high above all nations” and whose glory is “above the heavens” might stoop down to us and through us fulfill the mission of Christ; for “He raises the lowly from the dust, from the dunghill He lifts the poor.” And we must do the same to find our place with Him in heaven.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Asylum Paradox" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us serve you alone
with all that is at our hands.
YHWH, help us to be trustworthy in the very small matters of this dishonest world, with the wealth that passes so quickly away. This is not our world, but your world we must reveal to this place; if we do not reflect your glory now, how can we be called children of your light?
And so we pray for all souls, that they will turn from the oppression wrought by their greedy hands and acknowledge you as God Most High and your Son as their Redeemer. We desire no man to be trampled underfoot but for everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth; and so with hands held aloft we call down your mercy, dear LORD.
With the things you place in our hands here upon this dying earth, let us be faithful, let us be true – let us produce fruit unto the kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is our only home, and so with all our strength let us seek to raise souls to dwell there with all your angels and saints.
Fri, 16 September 2016
O wise doctor
whose intellect served well
in defense of the Church
and her teachings,
who bore well the light yoke of Christ
that leads to eternal life
and shepherded your flock
in following you
along this path of our Lord –
speak to us this day
your words of grace
that the souls of all
within the Church’s gates
might be founded well
on the truths of the faith
and on the love of God.
Pray we shall be wise as you
in knowing the way
the Lord marks out for His sons;
pray we shall have shepherds
so blessed with His light
that all shall be saved from the wolves about
and remain secure in the Father’s arms.
Fri, 16 September 2016
(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15)
“Just as we resemble the man from earth,
so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”
It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth.
But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life.
“A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life.
O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know.
O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts
and grow unto your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit.
Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven!
Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Thu, 15 September 2016
O brothers in Christ,
in death and in life
you gave yourselves as one
for the sake of the flock;
for the cause of the faith
readily you shed your blood
to serve the growth of God’s Church –
pray we today will be zealous as you
in defending the faith with our lives;
by fasting and by prayer,
by standing courageously
before the courts of the world
and offering our flesh in sacrifice,
may we imitate you who imitated Christ
and so come with all our brothers
to His resurrection and life.
Shepherd us well even this day
from where you now stand at the Lord’s side,
that we might be unafraid to speak
and to live the truth in undying love.
O let us lay down our lives with you!
Thu, 15 September 2016
(1Cor.15:12-20; Ps.17:1,6-8,15; Lk.8:1-3)
“Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
This is the heart of our faith. This is the “Good News,” the Gospel preached in our midst. This is our firm belief. Upon it all our hopes stand. Christ has been raised, and His disciples will follow Him. As surely as we accompany Him here in His mission on earth, so surely will we find ourselves in His presence in heaven. Dying in Him means rising in light.
But “if our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men.” We could then be said to have truly wasted our time, for then the very heart of our faith would have been torn out, and what but scoffing would we have to hold? A dead Christ we would carry in our arms, and we “the deadest of the dead” with Him.
Paul speaks of this quite pointedly; he pulls no punches in this regard, declaring openly: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too.” Yet there are those today, as then, who “say there is no resurrection of the dead,” that “Christ was not raised” – and these would call themselves Christian. And in the same manner there are many who do not truly believe the resurrection, yet wear the Christian nametag. If we have doubt in our hearts, or, worse yet, if we preach against the core of the faith, what do we do but kill ourselves? What do we do but work against the very Gospel of Christ? And how then do we merit the name of Christian?
Brothers and sisters, we must know in our hearts and be assured that Jesus is risen from the dead. We must realize that God has “attend[ed] to [David’s] outcry,” that He has “hearken[ed] to [his] prayer” – that the most urgent longing of our souls has been answered by the “savior of those who hope in [Him].” With David, we of faith should say with his resolve: “On waking, I shall be content in your presence.” Has the resurrection not been indicated in the “women who ha[ve] been cured of evil spirits and maladies” and who now accompany Jesus? Does not Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven devils had gone out,” give clear example of hope in Christ fulfilled? For she is not at all as she was, and this woman once so completely possessed by death itself is the first to see the Lord risen.
We must know the resurrection in our lives on earth; this is the only way we will comprehend it in heaven. Release from sin allows us to see already the eternal fruits of the kingdom. Accompanying Him now, our sins behind us, already upon heaven’s road we tread. And we know of a certain we shall pass through these “towns and villages” even unto His kingdom.
O LORD, your Son has been raised from the dead;
may we be raised with Him and be at your side.
YHWH, your Son is raised from the dead for us that we might enter your glorious presence. Though in the shadow of the wings of the Cross on this earth we make our home, it but prepares us for the kingdom. For even here our sins are taken away, and we come to new life in the Spirit.
We cried out to you, O LORD, and you heard our voice and sent your Son to walk among us. And if we follow in His steps we shall come to where He leads – we shall come to you. The path He trod must be our own, for it is the way of salvation. Through death on the Cross we come to life, for as we die with Him so we are raised.
Let us rejoice in His resurrection, O LORD; let us have faith in the new life at work in us even this day, and look with hope to our place in your kingdom. On waking may we look upon your face and be content in your eternal presence. For your glory let us ever strive, giving all to you as we walk in your way.
Wed, 14 September 2016
O sorrowful Mother
whose heart was pierced by a sword,
who stood at the foot of the Cross
dying in spirit
as your Son died in the flesh…
Jesus was sent to suffer
and die for our sins,
and how intimately you shared
in the profound pain
He carried about all His life;
how preeminently you filled up
what was lacking in His suffering,
suffering the whole Church must share
with our crucified Lord –
pray we shall indeed enter into
the sacrifice of Christ your Son,
following in your wake,
O Mother of God;
pray we shall meet Him
along His Way of Sorrow
that His blood upon our souls
will carry us to Heaven,
where you stand at His side.
Wed, 14 September 2016
(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50)
“I am the least of the apostles.”
Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord.
Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others.
And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.”
“O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and in His sacrifice for our sins;
on our knees in love let us come to Him,
and we shall find His mercy.
YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes.
Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for your love.
Let us welcome you into our homes; let us receive Jesus into our very hearts. In our spirits take up your residence, LORD, by our faith in Him and in His death and resurrection. For us He died and was buried; for us He rose on the third day. Let us never forget His enduring mercy – in great humility let us embrace your love.
Tue, 13 September 2016
(Nm.21:4b-9; Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38; Phil.2:6-11; Jn.3:13-17)
“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name.”
And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”? Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”? It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.
Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation. By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins. Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him.
Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters. Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt. By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you. By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.
He loves us so, brothers and sisters. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin. But as it is He “has come down from heaven.” As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes. As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love. As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come. And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be saved from our sin
by the sacrifice of your only Son.
YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it. And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son? What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?
And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts? Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?
Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you. Raise us up with Christ, your Son.
Mon, 12 September 2016
O you of golden tongue,
how well you proved
the Word of God cannot be chained;
how well you revealed
its radiance to our ears and hearts…
unconquered by threats of death
and the sufferings
the world imposes,
you proclaimed the glory of God
and His presence with us
until the very end –
pray, O dear shepherd,
who held your flock
so close to your heart
that they became one body with you
that we all shall be so willing
to lay down our lives,
speaking and walking in
the Word the Lord gives us
to share with all our brothers in light.
Pray indeed God’s will be done
in all His holy children.
Mon, 12 September 2016
(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17)
“A great prophet has risen among us.”
A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home.
“The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name.
And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son.
Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit.
O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you,
ever praising your NAME.
YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land.
Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME.
Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Sun, 11 September 2016
O Mary, sweetest of creatures,
whose name on our lips
brings joy to our hearts…
inflamed with love toward God
in speaking your blessed name –
pray we shall call your name,
in our time of need,
that you will be quick to intercede
with your Son
for our salvation.
Washed in the water from His side
and in His holy blood,
pray we shall rise above the sea,
beyond all rebellion,
that obedient as you, His Handmaid,
we shall find favor with the Lord
and enter into Heaven,
our names written beside your own
in the Book of Life,
Sun, 11 September 2016
(1Cor.11:17-26,33; Ps.40:7-10,17,1Cor.11:26; Lk.7:1-10)
“Just give the order and my servant will be cured.”
By a word from His mouth what cannot be done? For those who have faith this is all that is needed.
Listen, brothers and sisters, to the centurion’s explication of “the meaning of an order”: “I say to one, ‘On your way,’ and off he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Do you see faith at work? Do you understand the power of a word? And if a mere centurion in the Roman army possesses such power and gains such loyalty by his commands, do you think the Lord’s words shall fall short or His servants be found lacking in obedience?
“I am not worthy to have you enter my house” are the words the centurion speaks to Jesus before our quote for the day, and they are of course the phrase we utter just before we receive the Lord in Holy Communion. That same sacrament of Communion is described for us by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians; he tells us of the Christ’s words and actions upon its institution “on the night in which He was betrayed.” “This is my body,” Jesus says; and, in Paul’s phrasing, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” And so do we partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood even as we remember His sacrifice for our sins; and so, like the centurion’s servant, we are healed of our ills.
Yet there are “divisions among [us]” regarding this central sacrament of our faith. Perhaps “there may even have to be factions among [us] for the tried and true to stand out clearly.” But the Lord is never pleased with a lack of faith. And if He decries the lack of “faith among the Israelites,” what is His thought on Christians who cannot believe in His presence in the Sacrament? Does the Lord not also have “soldiers under His command” like the centurion? Do they not also carry out His orders? Or is the word He gives them not powerful enough to carry out His will? Is it somehow impossible for the Lord to make himself present as He has promised by the intercession of His apostles, His priests – even as by the intercession of the Jewish elders the centurion gained his request from the Christ? Does your faith not fall short if you thus limit the power of God, of His Word, of the power given His apostles? “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you,” Paul states succinctly as he speaks to his disciples of the Lord’s Supper. And this meal shall last till the end of time; and it shall ever feed us body and soul with the presence of Christ.
“Behold, I come,” says the Lord. To do the Father’s will is the Son’s “delight” and the delight of all who follow Him. In body He comes and in body He remains, upon our altars and in His sons. This “justice” we “announce in the vast assembly”; we do “not restrain [our] lips.” For His faithfulness to us, we His slaves and soldiers well know; and for such love we can but proclaim: “The Lord be glorified”! For by a word from His mouth uttered through His priest – “This is my body” – He is in our midst.
O LORD, in faith let us come to you
to receive the Body and Blood of your Son,
and so find the new life He brings.
YHWH, your Son comes to us and gives us His own Body and Blood that we might partake of Him and so find our salvation in union with you. But have we the faith to see Him here in our midst; and have we the love to receive Him into our hearts?
The flesh can be such a distraction for us, O LORD; it can leave us quite blind. As we seek to feed our bellies, our souls can be greatly deprived. And so, do we not lose you by our lack of faith?
In your Word let us trust, dear LORD, not in the matter at our hands. Our hearts be set upon your grace, upon the sacrifice of your Son, that we might come to dwell in your House. O let us offer our bodies in union with His and we shall become sons as He, doing your will alone and so knowing your blessing.
Let us lay down our lives in faith, O LORD, declaring your glory to all with ears. Let our very lives be made in your image, in the image of your only Son. Let us become as He is as we eat His Body and drink His Blood.
Sat, 10 September 2016
(Ex.32:7-11,13-14; Ps.51:3-4,12-13,17,19,Lk.15:18; 1Tm.1:12-17; Lk.15:1-32)
“The Lord relented in the punishment
He had threatened to inflict on His people.”
Redemption is ours, brothers and sisters. Though we are great sinners, the Lord has mercy on us when we turn to Him; for, as Moses interceded for the Israelites in the desert, so Christ Jesus intercedes for us now before the throne of His Father. Indeed, He “came into the world to save sinners,” sinners like you and me.
What examples of sinners we have throughout our readings today – what examples of great sinners and the greatness, the abundance of God’s grace. Where shall we begin? In our first reading the people of Israel had fallen into the depths of depravity as they passed through the desert. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, they were far below, “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.” To it they sacrificed, and in drunken revelry proclaimed it God. Yet because of Moses’ intercession the Lord held back His blazing wrath against them. He did not destroy them.
In our second reading we find “the foremost” of sinners, the apostle Paul, recognizing his own great guilt as arrogant persecutor of the Church and, in the same breath, witnessing to the manner in which he was “mercifully treated” by the Lord, that he might indeed be “an example for those who would come to believe in [Jesus] for everlasting life.” If the Lord can turn him who was the primary persecutor of Himself and His people into a leading apostle of His Word, how might He not convert our own hearts, or the hearts of any, to Him and to His will?
And, of course, in our gospel we have the parable of the prodigal son, he who “squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation” yet was openly received into the waiting arms of the same father whose property he swallowed up when this dissolute child came to his senses and returned to him. The Lord makes so clear in His parable today the great desire God has to take the sinner in His arms, to place Him on His shoulders; indeed, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” Brothers and sisters, we all have need of repentance, and the Lord welcomes us all.
After all this, perhaps our most poignant witness to God’s forgiveness and grace comes in King David, who has been adulterous and murderous but who cries out to Lord in our psalm, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” His “contrite spirit,” his humble begging is heard by the Lord, as is the repentance of us all. Through the blood of Jesus, all ignorant sinners may be saved.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Wish I'd Never Done It" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you welcome poor, repentant sinners
into your House with joy.
YHWH, have mercy on us poor sinners. In the greatness of your compassion, wipe out our offense. Like the Israelites who made the golden calf in the desert, like David who turned to adultery and murder, like Paul who persecuted your Son with such abandon, we are all your prodigal children. But as you had mercy on all of these, look upon us with kindness as we turn back to you.
O LORD, how greatly you desire our repentance. What great joy it brings you when we confess our guilt. For this you sent your Son to suffer and die; to save our souls you did not spare His life. And so, as we listen to His teaching, as we hear His call to penitence, our contrite heart causes you to rejoice that you might have us home again.
Forgive us our sins, dear God, and help us to forgive others. In this is your will fulfilled; in this the blood of your Son bears fruit, and we are redeemed.
Fri, 9 September 2016
(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is.
Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord.
And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain.
A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice.
O LORD, let us put your Word into practice,
living as your only Son,
sharing in His Body and Blood.
YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst.
If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise you each day for your goodness and your grace that we might be sharers in your glory, that we might be members of your Body. The cup of salvation let us take up each morning and live all our days wedded in the blood of the Lamb.
What a gift you give us, LORD, in holy Mass; your own presence in the flesh and blood of your Son. In your Word and in your food let us build our home, and we shall become holy as you.
Thu, 8 September 2016
O slave to the slaves,
to those who came in chains
to the new world,
those whose dark skin
made them seem to eyes of flesh
less than men…
to you these were children of God,
souls to be saved by His love
and through His Church,
and so the thousands
baptized by your hands
celebrate your glorious sacrifice
this day in God’s presence –
pray for us, dear brother,
that the shackles of racial prejudice,
the pride that exalts man above man,
shall fall from our hands,
our tongues and our hearts,
and that all of the Lord’s holy people
will work so diligently
as you, His blessed slave,
for the care of the weakest among us
and the salvation of all souls.
Thu, 8 September 2016
(1Cor.9:16-19,22-27; Ps.84:2-6,8,12; Lk.6:39-42)
“Although I am not bound to anyone,
I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible.”
How like His Lord is Paul in his declaration, “To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak.” For as Jesus descended from heaven to take on flesh and save those corrupted by its sin, so the Apostle has made himself “all things to all people,” stepping inside their skin “in order to save at least some of them.” Indeed, Paul proves himself to be “on a par with his teacher” in sacrifice and fruitfulness, for how well he serves “to remove the speck from [his] brother’s eye” that he might see Jesus in the clear light of day.
The Apostle has been “entrusted with a charge,” that of “preaching the Gospel.” And doing so willingly he finds his “recompense.” And what is this recompense but that he receive nothing in return for his work, nothing here on earth except of course the blessing of persecution such work for the Master entails? Then why engage in such toil, and why call others to such a life of self-sacrifice? Ah yes, because of the “crown that is imperishable” which awaits the runner of such a race. This heavenly blessing, too, is found when one does all “for the sake of the Gospel.”
“My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God,” our psalmist intones today, and goes on to proclaim the happiness of those “who dwell in [God’s] house.” “Continually they praise [Him]… They go from strength to strength,” for “grace and glory He bestows.” This is the goal Paul has in mind when he says, “I do not run like a man who loses sight of the finish line.” All his tribulations never distract him from his final destination; the kingdom of heaven remains ever upon his heart. And ever does he strain forward that he and so many others might attain that crown for which “our soul yearns and pines.”
Brothers and sisters, we must “discipline [our] own body and master it”; we must “remove the plank lodged in [our] own [eye]” if we hope to join Paul in the place where “even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.” And our young we, too, must bring there – all those in our charge must know of the kingdom of God. And so let us join Paul and our holy Lord in here becoming slaves of all, enduring our exile bravely that we might draw others to the eternal home found on the altar of the living God.
O LORD, let us be led by your holy apostles
to lay down our lives with your Son,
that we might find our home in you.
YHWH, all holy hearts long for your presence, long to make their home in your house; and you send to us apostles, teachers of your way, that we might find you. O may the vision of all be made clear to see your glory! May all learn the lesson they need to know, taught by your Son in His sacrifice and carried on by His disciples.
We long to praise you, LORD, but there is a log in our eye that blinds us to your coming kingdom. Help us to remove all obstruction, all distraction, all our blindness, that we might not lose sight of the blessings you offer to those who spend their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Let us rather carry that Good News of salvation to all souls, serving to remove the specks from their eyes by your grace and mercy. Help us to be slaves of all that all might make their home in you. Keep us from the pit, we pray, by your guidance and secure protection. Let us always yearn for you.
Wed, 7 September 2016
O Virgin who bore the Son of God,
who became the divine dwelling place
for the Creator of us all,
should we not celebrate your birth
the blessing of the generation
of you who signal our salvation?
Pray for us, dear Mother,
pray for all your children,
all who would call themselves
sons of God
and brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ...
pray that all generations
will call you blessed,
that all will hail you
as Mother of our Savior
and glorify the Lord
who has filled you with His grace.
You are one of us, dear Virgin Mary,
one of the human creation,
yet in you God deigns to dwell;
pray we shall all be made worthy
to be such a temple for the Lord.
Wed, 7 September 2016
(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30; Ps.13:6,Is.61:9; Mt.1:1-16,18-23
Note: I shall treat of both first readings)
“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”
“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child? And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.” She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence. It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”
The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself. First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world. The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings. God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.
And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High. She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.
And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters. We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith. He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –
may He be always with us.
YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins. May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you. In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.
So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race. He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence. O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!
By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us. Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.
Tue, 6 September 2016
(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26)
“The world as we know it is passing away.”
And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours.
It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well.
To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home.
Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland.
O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world
and set our hearts on your kingdom,
which passes not away.
YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened on the fruits of this earth?
LORD, your Apostle’s counsel is a very wise one – to make use of the things of this world as if we were not using them at all, always with an eye to their temporal nature, that they are indeed passing away. For if we remember this world is passing, we shall better remember you who are eternal. You are all that matters.
You are all that matters, LORD, and so let us cry out for your presence, hungering for your kingdom. Let us give up all of this world that we might find you present to us, and make our home in your palace forever.
Mon, 5 September 2016
(1Cor.6:1-11; Ps.149:1-6,9; Lk.6:12-19)
“You have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Yes, “power went out from Him which cured all.” And as all were “healed of their diseases” and “those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured” by His touch, so we, too, are made whole in His sight; so we now become His holy children of light. For “the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God,” and His kingdom being the desire of our hearts, we come with “the whole crowd… trying to touch Him,” trying to reach His presence upon the mountain of God.
And He calls His apostles; He selects the Twelve. And the power to teach and to heal He bestows upon them and upon their descendants. His wisdom and His grace He imparts upon those to whom His Father leads Him; and this same power rests upon all those baptized in His name into His Spirit. And so, as these Twelve who are the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel, so it is that the redeemed of the Lord are, as Paul tells us, “to judge angels.” Yes, “the believers will judge the world.” This power which is the Lord’s alone He gives to all in the world to come, for all are to be infused with His wisdom, and His love.
And so are we not therefore “up to deciding everyday affairs”? “If the judgment of the world is to be [ours], are we to be thought unworthy of judging in minor matters?” And not only in cases “between one member of the Church and another,” but in all the details of our lives. If we are to judge with the wisdom and grace of God in heaven, we must here be able to see clearly the right from the wrong, or we have not His Spirit upon us – or we stand in opposition to His Truth and to His Church. “Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God’s kingdom.” If your conscience tells you otherwise and you do these things or fail to condemn these things, you are sadly misinformed; and rather than judge the nations with the Lord and His apostles, you shall be judged by them.
Come only unto His Word, brothers and sisters; come only unto His Hand. And you shall be cleansed of all evil and be made able to stand here in this world as in His kingdom. And you shall sing His “praise in the assembly of the faithful” and with them “exult in glory” before your “maker” and “king.” “This is the glory of all His faithful”; His holy song is sung by all the redeemed.
O LORD, your power is upon your apostles
and all your holy people;
for this grace let us praise your NAME.
YHWH, who can judge but those who are like you, those who are holy, those washed clean in the blood of your Son with the power of your Spirit upon them? No sinner can judge, for no sinner can see; he is blinded by his sin and immersed in selfishness, and so, how can he be just?
O LORD, anoint us as you have the apostles, with your Spirit, with your blessing, with the blood of your Son. Let healing graces pour forth from our souls as we walk the way He has shown. Then all shall rejoice at His coming, all shall exult in your glory, as all are judged fairly in your sight.
We are but poor creatures, LORD, and yet by your grace you make us as yourself, you call us to you… even to judge angels with you. Certainly it is never we who judge but you; we can only give our wills over to you and allow you to work for our good. For only you are good, and so only by you are we made good and able to do anything at all. Let us be your faithful disciples even this day.
Sun, 4 September 2016
(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11)
“Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast,
that of corruption and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains.
“Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.”
It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands.
But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.”
O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you?
YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man?
Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we think that you, O LORD and God, are somehow limited in the dispensing of your grace? Will not Jesus show us otherwise as He stretches His arms out on the Cross?
And what shall save those who do not accept His embrace, who would rather embrace this corrupt and wicked generation? Condemnation shall be pronounced over the rebellious soul, unless he repents of his evil. O LORD, let us eat only the bread of sincerity and truth; let us desire only your goodness upon all. O let us embrace your Son!
Sat, 3 September 2016
(Wis.9:13-18b; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Phlm.1:9-10,12-17; Lk.14:25-33)
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.”
The wisdom of the cross, that blessed necessity for every Christian’s life. What does it teach us? How does it call us to act? Its wisdom is not of this earth, for the “corruptible body burdens the soul,” but the counsel of the “Holy Spirit from on high” brings the freedom to be sons of God. This wisdom can only be found by knowing we are but dust and renouncing all things of dust to serve the living and true God.
“Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” our first reading from the Book of Wisdom inquires of us. Indeed, things before our eyes, things of this earth, “we find with difficulty,” so who can understand things of heaven? How shall we attain the vision of God, of whom our psalm states, “A thousand years in your sight, are as yesterday, now that it is passed, or as a watch in the night”? How can we who wilt and fade “like the changing grass” come to the surpassing knowledge our Lord possesses?
Jesus answers the question. He turns to the crowds who follow Him, who are excited by His presence but unaware of the demands made upon every Christian’s life, and He teaches them this wisdom that is of God. It is His essential lesson: Be prepared to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom. Put nothing before your worship of God. Renounce all your possessions and be ready to die for Him – only then can you approach the glory He brings to this earth. Only by the wisdom of His cross will you find the kingdom of God. For indeed “the earthen shelter” and all its concerns weigh down the mind, weigh down the spirit, and keep it from attaining to God; they must therefore be left behind to find the freedom of sons of the Most High.
The Lord comes to “teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” It is this teaching Paul seeks to impart to Philemon as he asks him to forgive the slave that has wronged him and accept him back “forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother.” This same forgiveness, which is divine not earthly, is that which is asked of us all by the Lord. For so we have been forgiven by Him, so we who were sinful slaves have been made his brother… and so we must do the same for others. It is no longer the mind of man by which we judge but the mind of God, and the grace of this wisdom we gain only by carrying our cross. It is this which shapes us in His image, which imparts to us His wisdom – and by this the work of our hands shall prosper.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Open Air" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to renounce all our possessions
that we might know your counsel and follow your Son.
YHWH, send your Holy Spirit from on high that our paths might be made straight, that we might walk the way of the Cross and so find the grace we need to be disciples of Jesus and so enter your presence. Without such kindness toward us, we shall be lost, distracted by the vain things of this dying earth.
We are but dust, dear LORD, passing like the changing grass, and our hearts are often set on the passing things around us. Teach us to renounce our possessions, help us to know it is in this true freedom lies… that walking the way of worldly concerns will lead us only to death but laying down our lives with your Son we shall come to glory. Let us not be so foolish as to think we shall be blessed otherwise.
Freely let us offer all we have to you, LORD; then you shall indeed prosper the work of our hands. And we shall go from being slaves of the flesh to dwelling as your beloved in the age that does not pass away.
Fri, 2 September 2016
O great Shepherd,
watchman of the House of God
and protector of His flock,
though in the monastery you would have stayed,
when called to the Chair of Peter
you guided the Church well
through difficult times –
pray that as difficult days continue
a firm hand may continue to be found
at the helm of MotherChurch.
O pray that the faith be strengthened,
that the Rock upon which this House is set
will remain unshakable
and its light, its wisdom,
serve ever as a beacon
calling straying souls
into the Lord’s welcoming arms.
Humility and holiness
may all our leaders embody,
that by the Word of God on their tongues
and His wounds in their hands
all the poor of the earth
will be carried unto Heaven.
Fri, 2 September 2016
(1Cor.4:9-15; Ps.145:17-21; Lk.6:1-5)
“God has put us apostles at the end of the line,
like men doomed to die in the arena.”
“Up to this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, wandering about homeless,” the great Apostle Paul tells us of the persecution and slander all the Lord’s apostles must undergo. And yet “when we are insulted we respond with a blessing,” for this is our call in the Lord: to love even our enemies, that we might show the love of God to all, that we might indeed become “a spectacle to the universe, to angels and men alike” – “fools on Christ’s account,” yet bearing all patiently that the Gospel might truly be fulfilled and the last shall be shown to be first in the eyes of God.
It is this birth to which Paul brings the Corinthians, his “beloved children.” And though it seem a difficult fate to call down upon a people, yet we know that David’s psalm is true, that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth”; and so through all trials He leads us and comforts us, making any suffering a light burden to bear. And just as Paul is father to this nation, so the Father of all is there always to watch over all His children, for it is “in Christ Jesus” the Apostle has begotten them; and as He has heard the cry of His Son upon the cross and brought Him to resurrection, so “He hears [all His children] cry and saves them.”
In our gospel the Lord’s disciples are hungry, and so, in the hot sun, “walking through the standing grain” with Jesus, He feeds them: all around is food at their hands. Truly their prayer does He answer; their need does He see. But instead of seeing that the Lord “fulfills the desire of those who fear Him,” all the Pharisees can do is ask, “Why are you doing what is prohibited on the sabbath?” Thus the very men who should be present to bless and comfort and guide the followers of the Holy One can but call them into the arena of persecution with the rest of the fallen world. Thus the shepherds who are called to feed the sheep would remove the food from their hands and see them perish. Instead of becoming apostles themselves, they become their bane. For they cannot comprehend that God’s love transcends God’s law, that “the Lord keeps all who love Him” and this is what makes Him “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and not the mere precepts to which they hold so desperately, so blindly… so jealously. Thus the chosen of God become in their eyes “the world’s refuse, the scum of all.” And what can they be but crucified?
All must come to the holy Lord and “all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.” And though war be brought upon our souls, we must always “try conciliation” – peacemakers covered with blood and spittle is the state to which we are called. No other way will the world come to know that the love of God transcends all, and all call upon Him from their hearts.
O LORD, though persecuted and poor,
we are surrounded with your presence,
and so are fed in times of famine.
YHWH, you are our LORD and God; when we cry out to you, you save us. Though we must endure persecution for your sake, though we suffer want and go hungry, you surround us with standing grain – you are ever near to help us. Let us indeed praise your holy NAME!
What should it matter to us if we are beaten, if we are insulted and spat upon; if you are with us we are free of pain, for all these things your Son endures for our sake. We are your children and you love us, so even these trials you turn to good. Remain ever with us to save us by the Cross of your only Son.
He is Lord over even the Sabbath. He has power from on high. For you, LORD, have given all things over into His hands, and for us He does provide. Our rest we take in Him, our food He places in our mouths – through Him we remain close to you: He is our Bread of Life. And so, let us rejoice to walk in His way.
Thu, 1 September 2016
(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39)
“The salvation of the just is from the Lord.”
“For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy.
It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.”
Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find.
O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands,
and we shall be made new and holy in your sight.
YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you whole and entire, that new we may be made in your presence.
You declare men holy, LORD, for you alone judge hearts. We cannot see, we cannot know who is just in your sight, for our vision in limited to the surface of things – all we see are acts, but you know the intentions of hearts, the thoughts of man and what he truly desires… and so you alone know who is worthy of your blessings.
Make us worthy, O LORD, to rejoice at your table, to drink wine in your kingdom, to have the blood of your Son upon us to wash us clean in this world. Make our skins new, our souls new, to receive the grace you impart to your faithful disciples.
Wed, 31 August 2016
(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“Amazement at the catch they had made
seized him and all his shipmates.”
What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day.
Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day.
“All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers.
After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all.
O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done –
make us holy by your Word.
YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know?
O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to your Church you give the same. For those who follow Jesus, who leave all behind for the kingdom’s sake, shall know your abundant blessings even this day.
To what of this earth should we hold, LORD? What is of worth apart from you? Let us know nothing but your Son, the Christ, and we shall ascend your holy mountain, and become holy as you. This alone should be our goal, the desire of our heart must be to be united to you.
Praise you for all your blessings, LORD! But praise you most for calling us through your only Son to dwell in your Church, where you reside.
Tue, 30 August 2016
(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44)
“To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God,
because that is why I was sent.”
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising.
Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives.
Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace.
And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul.
O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust,
and we shall be healed of all our ills
and grow unto the kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her apostles.
You dwell in Heaven, O LORD, far above our mortal ways, and we take life and do our work only through you who call us. Let us be your co-workers, branches of the vine that is your Son, and your Church shall be built up in truth, in the power that is only upon Him.
Let all be healed of their infirmities, LORD, that all might indeed serve you well; raise us from our bed of pain, release us from the grasp of the devil, and we shall work for you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let all be done as you will and all shall rejoice in your glory.
It is you who have made us, LORD; we are but your poor creatures. But with the blood of your Son coursing through our veins we rise above this dying flesh and make our home in the Spirit. Let us grow in your House this day.
Mon, 29 August 2016
(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37)
“We have the mind of Christ.”
The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is.
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence.
“He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”?
Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light.
O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us,
that our speech may be as your Son’s.
YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence.
Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit?
O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; your dominion shall not pass away.
Holy are you, LORD, and no one can know you who does not seek your holiness. But you bless with great gifts those who love you and praise your NAME – your wisdom you grant to the spiritual man.
Let us listen to your voice calling to our souls. Let all darkness and sin be cast from our hearts. O let us be faithful to your Word! and we shall find ourselves in your kingdom on high.
Sun, 28 August 2016
O witness to the Truth,
to the Light that has come among us,
you gave your very life
for the sake of Christ,
who redeemed us in His blood,
blood you shed with your Savior;
you who were a pillar of iron
against the whole land
and against its king,
you who stood so strong
against the lust of the world,
suffering its persecution so willingly,
fortified even in death
by the Lord and His promise –
how can our meager lives
measure up to your blessed sacrifice;
how can we who are so weak of knee
endure our exile so bravely?
Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ
both in word and in the giving of your life,
that our blood may be joined to your own
and so to that of our holy Lord.
Sun, 28 August 2016
(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30)
“Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men
but on the power of God.”
Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks.
Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture.
And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life.
O LORD, open our eyes that we might see and know
the blessing you bring us by your Son’s Cross.
YHWH, let us follow your Word and your way, the way of your only Son, the way of the Cross that leads to life. Of Christ crucified let us speak; with all our lives let us give witness to Him. Then we shall be obedient to your Word as He – then we shall make your wisdom our own.
O LORD, let us meditate on the Word that comes to us in Scripture, that comes walking among us in your Son. All the day let our hearts be set on the illumination your Word brings. Though in the Word we are chastised for our sins, though it lead us along a narrow path; if we observe your precepts and follow in the way of the Christ, you shall guard our steps and keep us from every evil. For then we shall be wiser than all our foes, wiser than any other soul, for then your Spirit will be with us; His power will be upon us.
May the Word of Truth come from our Savior’s mouth and lived in His very flesh help us to walk straight through the midst of our enemies and come to you.
Sat, 27 August 2016
O shepherd made anew
by Him who is within,
Him who made us all,
the Light above and beyond
who gave His life,
His flesh as food that we might live –
pray that the Lord and God of all
will break through our deafness
and dispel our blindness,
that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit
and we too will be created
saved by His grace from the sin
that has kept us from Him
and thirsting for the wisdom
which became your own,
with which you shepherded His people
apart from the things He created
to His very Beauty itself,
that all souls might rest in Him
who made them.
Sat, 27 August 2016
(Sir.3:17-18,20,28-29; Ps.68:4-7,10-11; Heb.12:18-19,22-24a; Lk.14:1,7-14)
“Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.”
Is this not the message of Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel, and indeed of all our readings – and indeed the essence of our Christian lives? “Take the lowest place.” Exalt not yourself in the sight of God, who sits at table with you, whose presence is everywhere, and is a guest far greater than you. Give your place to the poor, provide for them out of your means, as He has done, and then you will know the glorious vision of heaven where He dwells.
The Pharisees are blind to the presence of Jesus; because of their pride and desire for esteem, they cannot see the guest of honor in their midst. They observe Him carefully, ready to judge Him, but it is He who sees them and seeks to instruct them in their ignorance. The Lord is most out of place here among the proud. He looks around for lowly ones, but finds none. The poor have not been invited to this feast; the blind here do not recognize their need for Him… and so this banquet is not like that of heaven. And so, who of these will partake of His Body and Blood and come to “the heavenly Jerusalem”?
“God gives a home to the forsaken,” David declares in our psalm, and we are called to be like God. Jesus makes this quite evident in His instruction to the host of the banquet: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,” who are unable to repay such kindness, and then “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” This attitude of self-giving we must make our own, knowing our own lowliness in the sight of God, and the vision of heaven of which our second reading speaks will be ours as well. Then we will come with the “countless angels in festal gathering” and “the assembly of the firstborn” into the presence of Jesus and the holy blood of His sacrifice. “The just rejoice and exult before God,” and with them we too shall rejoice, if we make ourselves humble before Him.
It is no mystery that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” No, the teaching is clear, and only by living it will we find its fruit, brothers and sisters. “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts,” Sirach instructs us; for how can you find favor with God (or with anyone) if you have no respect for Him? And if you do not see the greatness of the God before you, how shall you enter His kingdom?
Our place before God is with faces to the ground. This is just. This is right. By this He will be pleased and so lift our heads to gaze upon His countenance.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Humbled and the Exalted" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,
that you might call us up to you.
YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.
We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand? How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides? Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift. His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.
Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints. Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.
Fri, 26 August 2016
O tearful mother
whose persistent cries
for the soul of your son
were heard in time
by the Lord our God
and so led to his conversion,
to his becoming
not only a Catholic Christian
but a bishop and doctor of the Church,
a saint like yourself –
pray for the prayers of all mothers
who cry for their wayward sons;
pray indeed that all souls may turn
and come to know so deeply
the love of our Lord and God
and the blessing upon
His holy Catholic Church.
Pray that all who stray,
many as they are,
shall be raised from the death of sin
and come to the life of Heaven,
where you wait with your son
to welcome all his brothers.
Fri, 26 August 2016
(1Cor.1:26-31; Ps.33:12-13,18-21; Mt.25:14-30)
“He called in His servants and handed His funds over to them
according to each man’s abilities.”
All comes from the hand of God. Yes. Do you see this? God it is who provides any talent you possess on this earth and “God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus.” Not yourself. It is not from you any power comes. God has proven His power by choosing “the lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing,” and making them strong. This is you. You are nothing; and yet you have all things in God.
Brothers and sisters, “mankind can do no boasting before God.” How could they? It is He who looks down from heaven and “sees all mankind”; it is He who chooses “His own inheritance.” It is He who places in our hands the “silver pieces” we employ on this earth – and it is He who expects us to use well that which we have been given. To Him we must answer for all things. And if we are “industrious and reliable” in our service, it is He who will declare, “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs.” On earth as it is in heaven… If our work is done well here, it shall lead to the greater fruits, and we shall “share [our] Master’s joy!” But it is always His joy to which we come and not our own.
God is all things to us. “He has made [Jesus] our wisdom, and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption.” All that we have is from Him, and without Him we could not live. And should you be resentful of so great a gift? Should you return the gift of Himself He lays before you on your table? Or should you not rather take it up, make it your own, and by it produce fruit according to the abilities He has shared with you? This is all He expects of you: that the graces He shares with you, you share with others.
“In His holy name we trust.” Yes, “our soul waits for the Lord” and “in Him our hearts rejoice.” For He does not fail us. What He gives He does not take back: it is we who reject His love; it is He who increases the yield within us. “Brothers, you are among those who are called,” and so be among “those who hope for His kindness.” For His kindness shall but enrich you each day as you make His will your own and find your “boast in the Lord.” Praise Him for His gifts and for His grace, for by His grace the gifts He provides become eternally fruitful in our lives. Alleluia!
O LORD, enrich us with your blessings
as we serve you humbly in this world.
YHWH, let us trust in your NAME and in your NAME alone. How can we trust in ourselves or in the riches of this world when all this is but dust? But in your hands this dust we are becomes as gold, for we become as you who are so far above this world.
O make us your own, dear LORD! Help us to look to you, to wait for you, to trust in you for all things. May our tongues praise your NAME and our hands work in your service, and then, O how we shall be blessed! For truly you will be with us, and we with you.
Into your joy let us come, O LORD, the joy that surpasses any joy of this earth, the grace that passes not away. Let us boast in you, that you are great and do marvelous things for those who trust in you, those who know your love. From death let us be delivered – into your House let us come.
O LORD, increase your yield in us; we are but instruments of your holy love, your poor children whom you raise from the dust.
Thu, 25 August 2016
(1Cor.1:17-25; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt.25:1-13)
“The world did not come to know Him through its ‘wisdom’.”
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever,” says the Lord God. And in its place we find the Gospel, “the message of the cross,” which is “complete absurdity to those who are headed to ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.” It is this wisdom which saves us, even as the wisdom of the world falls to dust.
The wisdom of the world tells us to take our rest, to find our pleasure in the things of this life; the wisdom of God instructs us to “keep [our] eyes open” for the coming of the kingdom of God, wherein we shall find eternal rest. The wisdom of the world has only the torch to offer; like the foolish bridesmaids, it brings no oil for its lamp, for it can see nothing beyond its eyes – its immediate physical concerns are its preoccupation. The wisdom of God knows that all depends on the oil of the lamp, and so it calls us to find our souls in the Word of God, which is a flask whose contents never recede but rather increase with use and preserve the soul’s burning brightly before its Creator. The wisdom of the world is “wordy,” is empty rambling with no foundation in truth; God’s wisdom is founded in silence, pregnant with the power and authority of all ages.
“The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples.” What can stand that is not rooted in Him? What has purpose that is not spoken by His mouth? Apart from Him nothing comes to be or lasts. And does not the Lord thwart the ideas of the human mind most perfectly in the crucifixion of His Christ? Making “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” turns the vain strivings of men upside down and exposes them in all their emptiness. Here is my Word, He says; here is my Love. To this sacrifice does He call us all, that we might celebrate at His wedding feast and not be barred outside in the cold world. For indeed all that is of the world comes to nothing, “but the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” And it is His design that we become children of light, shining forever in the light of His wisdom, not burning to ashes in the deceit of our hearts.
In the cross all our empty words fall to naught as we are confronted with the truth of our sin and the love of our God. Thus our eyes are opened. May they remain so, fixed on this lamp which shines in the darkness of the night. By no other means will we come to know God and the meaning of our lives.
O LORD, let our eyes be open
with the light of your wisdom
that we might see your coming in the Cross of Christ.
YHWH, the plans of the nations you bring to naught to show all souls where wisdom lies: it rests with you and in the Cross of your Son, for the light of our minds is dim indeed without your Word to feed it.
How can we even speak of you, LORD, you who are beyond the realm of our words? We cannot determine whence we have come and do not know when our end shall be fulfilled… and so, how can we know anything? All we know is what you tell us through your Son in the love He offers.
Jesus has died for our sins. This is all we need to know, LORD, for such knowledge, such faith, will bring us to your doorstep; and by the light of the Spirit we shall be able to enter in – to enter into your presence and so come to know all things by your grace and mercy.
Dead are we apart from you, LORD, dead in our sin and in the emptiness of our minds. But the blood of your Son enlivens our souls that we might come to know the wisdom beyond all ages in His salvation. O may we be wed to you!
Wed, 24 August 2016
O guardian angel of poor children
who formed them in the image of Christ,
an education of body and soul
you provided those most in need,
those most impressionable
and thirsting for the Lord’s care,
and led so many others
in this work for the least of our brothers –
pray we shall become fellow workers
with Jesus in the cause of truth
and teach with deep love,
the greatest patience,
and profound humility,
the souls He places in our hands.
May the desire to see all
attain eternal life
be that which most impels us
and especially those whose responsibility
is the formation of Christian youth,
that all men might rejoice at the straight paths
these walk to the kingdom.
Your zeal despite persecution
may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Wed, 24 August 2016
O loyal subject of the Lord
and of His Church on earth,
though a king
you did not exalt yourself
but listened rather
to the words of your Savior
and chose to serve Him,
doing His work in this world:
the poor you cared for,
your children you raised
in the teaching of Christ,
and for all those in your reign
you sought true justice
and maintained concern
for their spiritual welfare –
pray we poor souls
will emulate your desire
for penance and prayer,
and your faithful obedience
to God and MotherChurch.
May we be blessed as your sons
to have your wisdom in our ears,
a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Wed, 24 August 2016
(1Cor.1:1-9; Ps.145:1-7; Mt.24:42-51)
“He will strengthen you to the end,
so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Brothers and sisters, “you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord provides all you need, generously and faithfully. You “have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people” and so “have been richly endowed [by God] with every gift,” that you might fulfill the call He places upon your soul, that by His grace you might indeed be holy. And so you should realize “the favor He has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” and “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to gain all the blessings the Lord God is ready to pour forth upon you.
Brothers and sisters, “keep a watchful eye and [do] not allow [your] house to be broken into.” “Be prepared” for the Lord’s coming. Let His every gift be at work in you, that readiness will ever be yours. Do not think as the foolish and worthless servant, “My master is a long time in coming,” and turn thus away from His light, sagging into the world’s darkness. Such a thought brings only death and the punishment of the Lord. For never is He long in coming. Always is He present to us; ever is His Spirit here within us when we remain faithful to Him. He it is who is of life and light – it is we who grow blind to His grace and are slow to come to His eternal presence. Forsake not His gifts, which sustain us at all times.
Here is cause for rejoicing. Here is the reason David sings, “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever” (revealing thus the newness of life which is ever upon us): “God is faithful, and it was He who called [us] to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” No more than this need we know. For this reason “generation after generation praises [His] works” and “publish[es] the fame of [His] abundant goodness.” It is this which brings His praise to our throats. For indeed in His grace He has called us to be as His only Son, and of course He is faithful to His call. And so by faithfulness all is ours in the Lord, and on that Day His blessings shall be full. Remaining in His light, growing in His gifts and favors, there shall be no “wailing then and grinding of teeth” for our souls – no, “happy that servant whom His master discovers at work on His return!”
O LORD, let us be prepared and waiting
for your coming Day.
YHWH, strengthen us to the end that we might be blameless on the Day your Son returns; make us your servants, faithful and true, praising you ever for your goodness to us, and we shall be ready on the Day of His revelation.
LORD, great are you and highly to be praised, for you provide all the gifts we need as we await Jesus’ coming. You give us speech and knowledge, and consecrate us in the Name of your Son. May we be like Him whom you sent for our salvation, that with favor you might ever look upon our lives.
As your Apostle has borne witness to your glory, LORD, so let us proclaim your greatness this day, that from generation to generation your NAME might be known and all souls be prepared for your coming Day. Let us serve you with diligence and with love, never forgetting that He whom we serve loves us more than we could ever return, remembering always that you are the Most High God who has created us in your image, in the image of your only Son.
Tue, 23 August 2016
O apostle of the Lamb,
man without guile
led by love to the Lord,
you who declared Jesus Son of God
and King of Israel,
whose eyes of faith were illumined
by angels’ wings –
pray we shall be found by the Christ
under our fig tree
in peace, in prayer,
and carry with you His holy Gospel
to the very ends of the earth.
With you as a foundation stone,
one of the Twelve,
may the Bride of the Lamb
be led to her Husband,
her heart burning with love
for Him alone;
her soul thirsting only for God’s presence,
may her eyes be opened
to see her Lord.
To vision of Heaven pray we all come
by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Tue, 23 August 2016
(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51)
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”
Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.
And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.
The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God
and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;
let us have eyes that look for Him,
hearts that long for Him.
YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us. Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us. And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.
Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations. And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built. The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.
O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Mon, 22 August 2016
O penitential soul
whose eyes saw the Lord,
whose ears heard His voice
calling all to the Cross,
obediently you accepted
the afflictions that are necessary
to attain union with God
and His surpassing glory –
pray that fearful souls
like our own,
which turn in complaint
from every torment and trouble,
may be blessed with a measure
of your selfless devotion,
that the unfathomable treasure
of the Lord’s grace
might be our own
as we endure,
and even desire as you,
the pains that pave the road to Heaven.
Then we shall know Christ even as you
and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Mon, 22 August 2016
(2Thes.2:1-3,14-17; Ps.96:10-13; Mt.23:23-26)
“He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with His constancy.”
“Brothers, stand firm.” Be not “easily agitated or terrified” “on the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” This should not preoccupy your thoughts because this is not in your mind to know or your hands to control. The day and the hour are with God alone. Rather, you should pray that the Lord will strengthen your hearts “for every good work and word.” This is what is in your power, and effectively accomplishing the Lord’s will thus, all fear will be removed from your souls.
Brothers and sisters, be not like the scribes and Pharisees, the “blind guides” who “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Distracted by the details, they inevitably neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith” – those for which the Lord calls us above all to be concerned. And so their vision and their actions are not whole, and they are not holy. Failing to see as God sees and to do as God does, they indeed become blind guides frittering the life of the Lord away in anxiety for external matters. Let this not be the fate of your soul.
Children, know of a certain that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself… loved us and in His mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” We must make this hope our own. For “the Lord is King. He has made the world firm, not to be moved,” and we must be as immovable as He in our faith and in our work. We should not doubt that “He governs the peoples with equity,” that in fairness all are looked upon in His sight, and so, that if we strive to do His will with all our hearts He will indeed bless us.
Friends, we should know that, though not complete, though He does not stand before us in final judgment yet, still it is so that “the day of the Lord is here,” in our midst today. His rule has always been and has come to us in this place. And what we do now leads only to that day – the kingdom should be growing within us at all times. If we know not His justice and His constancy at work in our days, then indeed we have reason to fear and should heed the Lord’s rebuke. But if we strive with Him for holiness, any fear itself will be holy and lead us only to the joy that makes “the heavens… glad and the earth rejoice.” For each day we rejoice with them in the presence of our God.
O LORD, make us constant as you
in doing good works,
in dispensing justice and mercy according to your Word
– and have mercy upon our own souls.
YHWH, it is you who judge the earth, who come to rule all the world; your justice you bring to every man’s soul, preparing him for your Day. And there is no need for us to fear if we are striving to do your will. Rather, we should rejoice at your glorious coming!
O LORD, let us set our souls each day on your Word and your work, and your love and mercy shall meet us where we are and bring us soon to where you live. Even should we have to endure chastisement as the Pharisees, what should this bring us but a holy joy? For by such words of truth you make us in your image, if we but listen and respond in kind.
All the world shall rejoice at your coming, dear God; let us not be blind to such wonder and glory but set our hearts on that Day, cleansing our souls of every stain of sin by your grace and mercy, by your surpassing justice. Let no woe be on us in your Day but only your consolation, only the joy of your salvation, which you offer forth even this day.
Sun, 21 August 2016
O Queen of Heaven and earth,
you radiate the glory of God,
for now you stand at His right Hand
in the heavenly kingdom.
Clothed with the sun,
the moon under your feet
and a crown of twelve stars
upon your head,
you give light to all souls
who thirst for the grace
our Lord and King
pours upon us through your intercession.
O how the angels rejoiced,
how the heavens rang with praise
when the Son led you into His presence
clothed in gold
to be forever His Bride!
O pray for us,
dearest Queen and Mother,
that we too shall be led in
among your maiden companions
to stand in God’s glory forever.
Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Sun, 21 August 2016
(2Thes.1:1-5,11-12; Ps.96:1-5; Mt.23:13-22)
“Which is more important, the offering
or the altar which makes the offering sacred?”
The Pharisees in their blindness taught: “If a man swears by the altar it means nothing, but if he swears by the gift on the altar he is obligated.” Indeed, “How blind [they] are!” For what do they do but exalt that which is secondary beyond that which is primary? What do they do but invert logic?
And what is the significance of their blindness? Why does it bring them “an evil day”? What the Pharisees essentially do in their thinking and their teaching is place the created ahead of the Creator, themselves before their God. For we are the gift upon the altar and the Lord Jesus the altar that receives and consumes our offering. It is He who makes us holy, and not we Him; it is we “who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and not vice-versa. He is above; we are below. The divine order of things must not be skewed. Yes, “the Lord made the heavens” and we who dwell below the heavens, and we must bow down before Him and praise His name.
“Awesome is He, beyond all gods.” Above every created thing He stands, He towers, for all these things, including our souls, are in His almighty hands. “All the gods of the nations are things of naught,” idols of so much dust and sand, devised alone by human hands and serving to inflate the pride of those who make them. These we must leave aside. Our false ideas we must abandon. To Him alone must we come.
“Tell His glory among the nations,” brothers and sisters, “for great is the Lord and highly to be praised.” It is He who is “seated on [the] throne” of heaven, He alone who merits our songs of praise. So let our song rise up to Him from our place upon His altar; let our offering be acceptable in His sight. Let us pray “that our God may make [us] worthy of His call, and fulfill by His power every honest intention and work of faith,” that “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in [us] and [we] in Him, in accord with the gracious gift of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” May He make us holy.
O LORD, let us sing of your salvation
as we strive to put you before all things
and grow constantly in your love.
YHWH, you are seated on the throne of Heaven, far above all gods – you alone are worthy of our praise, for you alone are holy. All things of this world let us leave behind to find your glory.
LORD, bless our work and make us worthy of your call; in faith let us endure every persecution and trial and be fruitful in your sight, that we might be found in your kingdom. There is nothing but you that we should desire – may you alone be praised by all the ends of the earth.
How shall we lose our blindness, LORD, and come to see that you are all in all? How shall we learn to put you first at all times, always remembering your holy NAME? How might we be blessed to announce your salvation in all we think, say, and do?
By you alone let us live our lives, O LORD and God, striving to do your will in all things by the grace of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we shall know you and find you; through His Cross we shall come to your kingdom.
Sat, 20 August 2016
O simple priest
who became Shepherd
of the universal Church
and defended her with courage
against the errors of the age,
you did not waver before the powers
that would dilute the purity
of the teaching of our Mother
but stood strong against the tide
attempting to wash her away –
are we not yet threatened
by falsehood and sin
being held up as good,
and so do we not yet need
your spirit and your prayers?
Though the tide may be turning,
returning to the solid rock of faith,
yet certainly we need your help
to see the Spirit of Truth
regain and maintain
His place in this House.
Pray indeed all priests and people
be simple and true as children before God.
Sat, 20 August 2016
(Is.66:18-21; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Heb.12:5-7,11-13; Lk.13:22-30)
“People will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”
“I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory,” even those of “distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory,” says the Lord. The Word goes forth. The Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and it will open the eyes and ears of all peoples. But who shall be ready for its coming?
Indeed, Isaiah’s prophecy and the verses of our psalm are in harmony with the Lord’s own words: all the nations shall come, all shall “praise the Lord,” and all shall find a place in His kingdom. The light that goes forth, the glory of the Lord, knows no boundaries, is not limited by constructs of time and place – there are no walls in its way. All nations. All tongues. All peoples at all times and in all places are called forth by the all-encompassing love of our God and our Savior. You are welcome at His table, my brother, my sister, whomever you are, wherever you are. It is the Lord’s will that all come to Him who is the Father of all nations and of all creation. But do you know the way?
The way of the Lord is not easy; it is narrow and rough – it is one wrought with chastisement, with discipline. “For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?” And how can you expect to come into His paradise if the soil of this world still clings to your soul? The cross is the way to the kingdom; only the scourging discipline of the Lord will enable us to sit with Him.
And this discipline, this cross, is of love. Do you see this? Do you see how much the Father loves you in His reproof of your sin? “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” If you have not learned this basic lesson of the working of the Lord’s love, you “will not be strong enough” to enter His gate. You must “not be disjointed but healed” as the Lord takes from you all that is unfit for His presence. Your suffering the loss of this life is all that will bring you to heaven.
We note that even the above words of the Lord are as chastisement to the Israelite people who walk with Him, for He is telling them they are not alone in the call to God; other nations shall indeed enter before they. And as this pride in their heritage must be wrested from them before they are prepared for the kingdom, so all that limits the love of the Lord from working in our lives must be taken from us before we may enter in. Fear not the pain this brings. The “wailing and grinding of teeth” outside His gates is more painful by far – and for this suffering there is no healing anymore.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "There Are No Words" (middle part) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, teach us always to do what is right
that we might be as your sons
and enter into your House.
YHWH, all peoples are called to your glory, to your kingdom, for all are sons and daughters to you. But truly you must be our Father, we must come from you, we must reflect your image, the image your only Son reflects to us in His way of the Cross, if we are to enter your presence. Relying on accidents of time or place we shall never be saved. Only by accepting the discipline you offer will be made ready for Heaven.
Strengthen us, O LORD, by the chastisement you bring to our souls, by the Word of truth come from Jesus’ mouth. He knows you and is the way to you – let us be obedient to His call and the call of His apostles to enter through the narrow gate, to leave all of this world behind that we might come rejoicing to your holy mountain with all our brothers and sisters, with all your blessed children. May all men hear your Son’s voice this day, that none shall be barred from your kingdom.
Fri, 19 August 2016
O great light of the Church
who by word and work
inspired your brothers
and so many others
to a life of virtue,
to peace and unity with one another
and an abiding love
for our Lord and His Mother –
teach us this day, O blessed preacher,
of the way in which Jesus calls us,
of the life and love God offers
if we but respond in kind
in our weak and limited manner.
To all souls in His holy Church
and throughout the world
you brought the Word of God,
you imparted the light of His wisdom;
please pray, dear father in the faith,
that our lives may be conformed
to the loving will of the Lord
and we become children of His light
and bearers of His Good News to the nations,
till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Fri, 19 August 2016
(Ez.43:1-7; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.23:1-12)
“The temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Certainly the vision of Ezekiel is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His founding the Church, the New Jerusalem, here amongst us. In this Temple He has “set the soles of [His] feet”; here He “dwell[s] among the Israelites forever.” For though the temple in Jerusalem shall be restored, it shall again be destroyed, and forever. In the Catholic Church now does His presence remain. Through it and through its teaching “the earth [has] shone with His glory.”
“Truth shall spring out of the earth”: Jesus is born in our midst and walks among us; “justice shall look down from heaven”: through Him the light of God shines upon us, bringing salvation to all souls. And it is in His Church truth and justice remain, “glory dwelling in our land.”
And “like the roaring of many waters” is His teaching, which comes with power, which comes with authority. And this teaching He leaves in the apostles’ hands. As “the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers” and Jesus has succeeded these, so do the apostles succeed Jesus; thus we must “do everything and observe everything they tell us” – the Spirit is upon the Church, which does not teach in error despite the sins of its members. These must be respected; it is upon these, and so upon Jesus’ teaching, the Catholic faith is founded.
And what if some refused to enter into this Temple and share in His glory present in His Church? What if they did not share the wholeness of His thought or receive His precious Body and Blood, offered each day in the New Jerusalem? Their eyes would be as blind and their vision as limited as those who quote our gospel today to prove that the Church should not call its priests “Father”. They would not be able to see that what Jesus teaches His disciples in telling them to avoid “marks of respect in public and of being called ‘Rabbi’” is to avoid having themselves inflated with pride. If these blind souls were correct, then no one could be called “teacher” either, for this is more the word the Lord wishes us to avoid. And they would have to condemn Paul for calling himself “father” of the Church in Corinth (1Cor.4:15). Such absurdity ensues when one has not the wholeness of Truth, but looks only on appearances.
Brothers and sisters, where would we be without the teaching of the apostles? In a word, we wouldn’t have Jesus. It is from Him their teaching comes, bringing His glory to the ends of the earth. In this Temple let us dwell, His Word and Sacrament sustaining our lives.
O LORD, your Son has humbled Himself
to walk among us;
the soles of His feet are set in this Temple, your Church
– may we follow in His steps.
YHWH, let us humble ourselves that we might be exalted in glory with you. You humble yourself to come among us as a Man; let us be as your only Son and so gain the favors of Heaven. Here in your Church make your home, in the soul of every believer.
And, LORD, let us have a reverent respect for those you place in position of authority, especially here in your Church. They carry your power through the Word of your Son, becoming as His body and blood with the teaching of the Spirit He breathes upon them. We cannot disobey their teaching without disobeying you, and so let us be faithful to your apostles. Then we shall come to know your surpassing glory.
What you revealed to Ezekiel help us to know and live this day – your glory here in your Temple bring to its fulfillment, we pray. In your kindness you come to us, Truth walking in our midst. The justice and peace of your Son let us find as we follow in His way of salvation.
Thu, 18 August 2016
O priest of Jesus and Mary
so dedicated to the Hearts
of our Lord and Lady
and the formation of your fellow priests,
how well you preached
of our need to be one
with Christ our Head;
with what zeal you cared
for the poorest among us –
pray that priests and indeed all Christians
will have hearts and souls
beating and breathing as one
with the Lord,
in union with our Blessed Mother;
may all serve and glorify the Father
by using all their faculties
as if they were His alone.
O that we might indeed
belong to the Son of God
and be ruled by Him,
His own eternal life
coursing through our very veins,
His breath upon our tongue!
Thu, 18 August 2016
(Ez.37:1-14; Ps.107:1-9; Mt.22:34-40)
“I will open your graves and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.”
The commentary in the missal I read states: “The lesson here is return from captivity, not life after death.” And so the speaker proves once again the limited vision of so many of our scholars – indeed, how like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the lawyers of Jesus’ time these faithless are, how blind… how dry their bones without spirit.
Certainly the prophet Ezekiel speaks to the exiles of their return to Israel: to these he is sent, and of this redemption they must hear. But if this were all the Scripture says, what lesson would we take from it – this passage why should we bother to read? And if this were all God intended even for these scattered children, what an ineffective God He would be. (As limited in vision as so many of our leaders today.) For what is the land upon which any find life but the kingdom of heaven? And how do we come there except through death, the death of our attachment to this earth? Vain all is if we have not the resurrection of Jesus within us; we must rise from our graves before anything has meaning in life.
That the Lord speaks of more than the return to Israel in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones today is indicated clearly in our psalm, which equates “the redeemed of the Lord” with those “gathered from the lands, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” Is it not so that the Psalms, though greatly written a millennium before Christ (and hundreds of years before even Ezekiel’s time), speak of Christ, and even in the voice of Christ? Is it not Jesus who speaks even to Ezekiel himself? Listen to our psalm. It speaks of the Israelites’ wandering “in the desert wilderness.” It says they were “hungry and thirsty” and that “their life was wasting away within them.” Certainly they lacked food and water in this arid place – but is this all of which the psalmist speaks! Do they not rather fail to drink from the spiritual rock which follows them? Is their hunger not for Christ? And the “inhabited city” to which the Lord leads them, is it but the land beyond the Jordan River? Is it the dust of this earth that will satisfy their dry bones? No. They “give thanks to the Lord… because He satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good things” – things of the spirit, not merely the body.
“On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well,” Jesus says of the love of God and neighbor. Here is the Spirit! Here is the Life! Here is what nourishes the dry bones and makes them stand upright: the Love of God! This is in every passage of Scripture – every prophecy, every psalm… This Word is the lesson we must always find: Jesus Christ is risen from the grave!