Sat, 28 November 2015
(Jer.33:14-16; Ps.25:4-5,8-10,14; 1Thes.3:12-4:2; Lk.21:25-28,34-36)
“You are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.”
So does David sing of the “just shoot” that will be raised up after him; so does he anticipate the coming of Jesus into our midst. But, though the Messiah has been born, though He has come among us now, yet the Lord will not “fulfill the promise [He] made to the house of Israel and Judah” until Jesus returns on the last day. And so, we too await our Savior.
And how should we wait? Brothers and sisters, you know “how you should conduct yourselves to please God,” to be found “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” You have been guided in His truth and instructed by the one who “teaches the humble His way.” “The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and His covenant, for their instruction.” And you fear Him, and so receive His instruction. Continue to do so. Continue to “increase and abound in love for one another.” Let not the sum of your good works diminish in the least, but “strengthen your hearts,” and what you have been doing for Him, “do so even more.” Until the Day He comes your justice must increase.
And “what is coming upon the world” you know as well. The end of the world is upon us and has been since Christ’s crucifixion. All is passing away and shall soon be no more. The nations will look, but they will not see the things they trusted in so vainly. Only “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” will be known; He will be all that is seen. And will you recognize Him? And will He recognize you?
Brothers and sisters, with the Lord’s own words I will leave you: “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” Wait expectantly.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in your justice make us blameless in holiness
for the return of your Son in glory.
YHWH, help us to increase and abound in love even as we await the return of your Son. Though His coming be with great tribulation, let us not fear but welcome Him with open arms and heads raised to His glory.
Jesus is the just shoot you have raised up for the House of Israel; He is the fulfillment of your promise to all who strive toward you. He has come and made Himself known with signs and wonders. He has walked among us to show us the way to you. Let us follow Him in humility, LORD, and we shall reign with Him on the last day.
Guide us in your truth, O LORD; teach us your way. Let us remain constant on the path that leads to you, conducting ourselves as has your Son. His apostles exhort us to remain faithful at all times, to be vigilant and pray. His love will indeed increase within us, rising unto glory on the Day of judgment, if we do not turn away from His call, from His kindness upon our souls.
Soon shall come the end, O LORD; let us indeed be found ready and waiting.
Fri, 27 November 2015
(Dn.7:15-27; Dn.3:59,82-87; Lk.21:34-36)
“The day I speak of will come upon all who dwell
on the face of the earth.”
And so we must “pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The vision is explained to Daniel, and really it is quite simple: evil shall come, but good shall triumph in the end. Kingdoms of the Beast, of the evil one, “shall arise on earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever,” the angel tells Daniel, and reiterates this simple point: “All the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, whose kingdom shall be everlasting.” Yes, evil kingdoms shall rise and make war “against the holy ones,” devouring the earth, beating it down, and crushing it… but the court of the Lord will be convened and the “final and absolute destruction” of the evil one is thus at hand. In Daniel’s vision “the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.” And so it is; and so it shall be.
“Be on the watch,” the Lord exhorts us in our gospel for this the final day of our liturgical year. We must indeed “be on guard,” for if we do not watch, we will not be prepared for the coming day of the Lord which is ever at hand. Certainly we do not wish to be destroyed with the devil and his angels, but if our “spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares,” how shall we stand? And so it is that we must indeed pray constantly for the strength to withstand the coming chastisement – we cannot underestimate the devil’s power to seduce us with his lies even as the grass grows beneath our feet. As the grass grows, so must our spirits grow, in truth and goodness and love. His peace must surround us to guard us against the sin which attacks us here as we live and breathe upon the face of the earth.
The day will come. Let it be our joy to be found waiting for the Lord.
(And so, Advent is now upon us.)
O LORD, preserve us from what is to come;
give us the strength to stand in your glorious presence.
YHWH, the day of your judgment is coming upon all who dwell on the face of the earth, but on that day your holy ones will be glorified. The beasts and their kingdoms shall all be destroyed and your holy people will reign with your Son.
But we must be ready for that day; we cannot fall into drunkenness. If we become bloated with indulgence and worldly cares, we shall not stand secure before Jesus but be driven out with the evil one. O let not that day overtake us, dear LORD! Rather, take us then into your kingdom.
There is great trial coming upon this world; it is now underway. War is made against your holy ones, and they must suffer and even die. But let us praise your eternal glory, LORD. Let all your servants, the souls of all the just, bless your holy NAME. For our salvation is on the horizon, and nothing need we fear from Him who comes. Let us be awake in prayer.
Thu, 26 November 2015
(Dn.7:2-14; Dn.3:59,75-81; Lk.21:29-33)
“The beast was slain and its body thrown into the fire to be burnt up.”
Daniel prophesies the coming of pagan empires in his vision of the four beasts. The vision is, in short, an overview of the coming salvation.
Notice that even as Daniel watches the beasts emerge with their horns and tusks and great iron teeth, even as he watches these terrible creatures devour and crush and trample in a kind of destructive euphoria… what does he see? “Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took His throne.” The Lord God, the Eternal King, is there. (He is never far away.) And the arrogant horn is cast into eternal flame, and the other beasts lose their dominion, too, though they received “a prolongation of life for a time,” indicating that a measure of the wickedness of such beastly empires – several of which we have seen very clearly in the last century – shall remain. But, nonetheless, there is “one like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven,” and He indeed receives “everlasting dominion,” a “kingship [that] shall not be destroyed.” Like the Father in His eternal reign is the Son, who has come into our midst and even now winnows away the chaff of this world.
That even as evil presumes to reign the Lord is at work, is assuming His eternal reign in the heavenly kingdom, is evident in Jesus’ words to the disciples in our gospel. He has told them to watch for the terrible signs which will come upon the earth and bring its destruction, and equates the recognition of these signs and wonders of the end time with the budding of a fig tree signaling the coming summer. Jesus is the fig tree, the peace that is born even in the midst of war, the love that grows though surrounded by hatred – the light that overcomes all darkness.
“The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Though the mountains fall into the sea, the Lord’s heavenly reign but comes to fulfillment. Then all creatures, all “beasts, wild and tame,” “everything growing from the earth” and all “seas and rivers” will “praise and exalt Him” whose kingdom lasts forever.
O LORD, the myriads ministering to you
overcome the power of all beasts,
and by your only Son their fate is sealed
and the kingdom comes forever.
YHWH, your reign is near, always at hand. Despite the beasts which remain for a time, your Son has come and conquered all darkness. There is no death or sin in Him, no power that evil has before Him, and so those who find their life in Him shall indeed endure forever. Heaven and earth are passing away but His dominion is everlasting.
Thank you for sending your Son to us, dear God, to cast all evil to the dust, to teach of the kingdom to come. In Him indeed summer is near, a time of great fruitfulness – the time when we shall share with Him in the eternal fruits of Heaven. Peace is upon us, though the destruction of war be all around.
And so, what can we do but praise you, LORD of Heaven and earth? All your creatures can but sing of your glory and bless your holy NAME. This day let your fire burn all our sins away. Alleluia.
Wed, 25 November 2015
(Dn.6:12-28; Dn.3:59,68-74; Lk.21:20-28)
“Your ransom is near at hand.”
“He is a deliverer and savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.” And as “He delivered Daniel from the lions’ power,” so He shall save our souls from the destruction to come upon the face of the earth.
The king’s prayer is answered: “To Daniel he said, ‘May your God whom you serve so constantly, save you.’” And when the lions’ mouths are closed because of David’s innocence before God and men, Darius in awe of the living God writes to the nations that the kingdom of the God of Daniel “shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be without end.” Another pagan king is brought to his knees in truth… “Praise and exalt Him above all forever”! Indeed, “let the earth bless the Lord.”
But it is deliverance which is our theme today. Daniel is delivered from certain death in the lions’ den, and our Lord speaks to us of the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of the end of time – “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” – and of our means of escape from annihilation. Yes, we must flee the devastation that is near, flee to the mountains from the midst of the city, not linger behind in the land of Sodom as the angel comes to guide us to safety. Indeed, we must lift our heads to the sky even as its powers are shaken and all comes crashing to the ground but the strength of our God. For on that Day He will be made manifest, and on that Day, if we “stand up straight,” our deliverance from sin and the powers of this world will be joyously known by our eternal souls. And we shall celebrate as did the king and Daniel upon the holy man’s removal from the lion’s den – and we shall praise the Almighty’s name with “nights and days,” with “lightnings and clouds,” with all the elements of the Lord’s universe. Alleluia!
Fear not, brothers and sisters, “in anticipation of what is coming upon the earth.” Even as you are called, so you must be – to be “clever as snakes and innocent as doves” (Mt.10:16). Follow the saints’ examples in simple obedience to the Shepherd’s voice and, harboring no ill will toward your persecutors, be prepared to lay down your life if it be in the Lord’s will, knowing full well that He will rescue you.*
* For this final thought I credit St. John Chrysostom and his wisdom, as found in this morning's Office of Readings.
O LORD, you are coming with great power and glory –
praise your holy NAME!
YHWH, we need not fear that the lion’s mouth will close upon us. Though the heavens be shaken and darkness cover the land, with your Son we may stand tall. Anticipation of His coming, joy at the salvation He brings – the eternal peace that follows in His wake – will keep us strong on the Day of judgment. From the den of the lion we shall be freed.
The end must come, we know, O LORD. All these things must pass away. May we stand in innocence before you on that day, and so live with you forever in your kingdom. In this city let us not desire to remain, but with your Son let us fly to Heaven.
O LORD, let all hearts turn to you before that great and terrible Day; let even the kings of this world recognize you as the one true God. Send your angels throughout the earth to work your wonders and save all holy souls from destruction.
Tue, 24 November 2015
O virgin pure and brilliant,
you gave your life
in defense of the faith,
refuting all arguments to its contrary;
though you were but a child yourself,
you stood strong before your tormentors,
enduring the persecution and torture
they struggled in vain to muster against you,
ever shining the light of purity and truth
before their corrupted minds and hearts –
pray for those who defend the faith
and all those who would explain it away,
that the light of pure reason
will dispel all doubt and darkness
and the verity of the faith be known
by all souls on this earth,
undeniable as it is
by the mind of any man.
Pray we not waste words or time
but live a holy life before God,
giving witness to His presence
in the world and in the Church,
and come finally to rest on His mountain.
Tue, 24 November 2015
(Dn.5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28; Dn.3:59,62-67; Lk.21:12-19)
“You will be brought to give witness.”
“Daniel was brought into the presence of the king.” And what did this wisest of men have to say to this pagan king who ruled the earth? “You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven.” He did not hesitate to tell him of the emptiness of his “gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence.” And, remarkably, not a hair of his head is harmed; even this pagan ruler recognizes the truth of his words, and accepts that he will lose his kingdom.
“Before kings and governors” you will be summoned, “all because of my name,” says the Lord. Yes, witness must be given to “the God in whose hand is [our] life breath and the whole course of [our] life.” The world must come to know Him; light must be brought into the darkness. Is this an easy task? Certainly not. It may be glorious insofar as the Lord blesses our words, insofar as we trust in Him, not worrying about our “defense” beforehand – but the darkness resists the light; the world does not wish to hear of its sins, nor to be called to turn from them. Turning from sin is a painful process, and rather than endure its throes there will be those who would prefer to impose such persecution upon those who call to the depths of their hearts. Unwilling to suffer conversion, they make others suffer for their righteousness.…
All the apostles underwent martyrdom: our Lord rules from a cross. But though we may not escape punishment from those to whom we are called to speak, as has Daniel the prophet, yet as Daniel surely “not a hair of [our] head will be harmed.” For though we be killed for the Word of truth, yet our redemption awaits us: in heaven’s light all is whole. And the rewards offered Daniel even by this pagan king will be as our own in paradise.
“I will give you words and a wisdom which none of your adversaries can take exception to or contradict,” our Lord assures us. Let us trust in this gift of faith and witness, and praise with “sun and moon” and “stars of heaven” Him who is “exalted above all forever.” Let us never fear to speak of our God and His hand at work in our lives.
O LORD, if before kings we speak the truth,
yet will our lives be spared,
for your Son indeed rules over all.
YHWH, your dew from Heaven falls upon us and we are given words and wisdom. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to stand before kings and governors and give witness to your glory. And though our words may accuse those to whom we speak of their failure to worship you, yet not a hair of our heads shall be harmed, even if we be executed. For Jesus has died on the Cross, yet He lives forever. And now His Spirit reigns over all who put their trust in you.
By patient endurance may our lives be saved, O mighty LORD and God. To you let us ever turn our sights, and our spirits shall not be defeated. Rather, the kingdom of those who mock your glory shall be divided and brought low.
O may we not be found wanting on the day you judge the world! All the gods of silver and gold, wood and stone, let us set aside to praise you alone, our Savior and our God.
Mon, 23 November 2015
O you who were martyred
over three centuries of persecution
in a country so bitter toward the faith,
bishops and priests and laymen alike,
native to the land and foreign-born,
all innocent souls
who suffered even torture in joy,
all for the sake of the Lord and His Church –
pray we shall be as ready as you
to bear witness to the faith
with our lives,
that all as one in the Body of Christ
we will be willing even to die
to satiate our thirst for the kingdom
and for the salvation of souls.
O what joy to be as Jesus,
to walk in His steps
even to the Cross!
No greater blessing could any soul know
on this corrupted plane…
Pray we shall come with you to Heaven.
Mon, 23 November 2015
(Dn.2:31-45; Dn.3:57-61; Lk.21:5-11)
“The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.”
So shall the kingdom of this world be destroyed by “a stone which was hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it”; so shall Jesus come – the Son of God, the King of kings – and make all things subject to Himself. And when shall this be? It has happened, and is happening, and will happen soon: fear not in your hearts. Simply praise the Lord of the universe.
There will be no trace of this world remaining when the Lord does come. He shall be the stone that “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth,” which “shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them.” And by whose hand shall this be done? “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people.” And so, if accomplished by the hand of God and not by man, why do we look upon the “wars and insurrections,” “plagues and famines,” and become fearful, as if these shall bring the end? No, “the end does not follow immediately.” We cannot state the time any more than could Daniel, the greatest of all interpreters of dreams and visions. So why are we misled when many come in the Lord’s name saying, “I am He” or “The time is at hand,” as if these could force the hand of God?
Let not the “fearful omens” and “great signs” perturb you, brothers and sisters. These are for those without faith as a warning to turn to God, but for those with faith they should prove no disturbance. Our souls should be set on Jesus, who surpasses all these things – even the temple “adorned with precious stones” – and whose coming we should see clearly in our hearts. Is He not at work in you? Are you not His children? Then why fear these things which are “bound to happen” to the earth? You should “praise and exalt” Him who is “above all” with the “angels of the Lord” and the “heavens.” Let your hearts rise up to Him.
Yes, “the day will come when not one stone will be left upon another, but it will all be torn down.” And in that day the Lord will reign supreme. Set your sights upon His majesty.
O LORD, not one stone will be left upon another;
all will become as dust –
then shall come the eternal reign of your Son.
YHWH, your hand shall crush all things of this world; your right arm shall see to it that the gold and silver, the riches of the earth, all pass away. When your Son returns, all this shall be accomplished. Let us stand ready and waiting for that day.
Why should we fear, O LORD, the destruction of kingdoms? Why should we lament even the temple’s fall? For what is anything of this world in comparison to your glory? Your glory is indeed above earth and heaven and shall never pass away.
With the angels let us praise you, LORD. With all your disciples let us glorify your NAME. You alone are holy, you alone are worthy of praise, and this lesson we must learn if we are to be saved.
And so, on the day when there is not one stone left on another, let us not be anxious or afraid. Though wars and earthquakes come, let our hearts be set upon you, LORD, and exalt your kingdom as it draws nigh.
Sun, 22 November 2015
O father of holy monasteries
who dug deeply in the earth,
in the heart of man,
and laid their foundation
on the Rock that is Christ
that they might be made in His image,
in the image of Him who created us –
pray we shall love the Lord as He commands
and so be holy as He is holy,
truly reflecting the image of our God
and living in His surpassing peace.
Pray austerity serve well
to make us in the Lord’s image,
to purge from us all that is not of Him;
may we be blessed to serve
with untiring devotion and care
the will of our Lord in all things,
in worship of Him, in prayer,
and in genuine love of our neighbor,
that the Gospel may go forth
to the ends of the earth
not just in words
but in our very flesh and blood.
Sun, 22 November 2015
O successor to Peter,
Shepherd of God’s Church,
Father of all the churches
in the Body of Christ,
these you instructed well;
these you gave a shepherd’s care…
for these and for the Lord
you shed your blood –
pray for God’s Church even this day,
that she shall remain united
under her one Lord and Savior,
each member serving the good of all
as wholly as you have done.
Pray we all work together in Jesus’ name
and in His blood
to do the Father’s will
and so become as holy as He,
as holy as you were blessed to become.
Pray the teaching of the apostles
ever ring in our ears
that we shall never forget
the way the Christ marks out for us,
the way of truth that leads to life.
Sun, 22 November 2015
(Dn.1:1-6,8-20; Dn.3:52-56; Lk.21:1-4)
“To these four young men God gave knowledge
and proficiency in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.”
God is the giver of all good gifts; all is a gift from God. Whatever we give to Him can only seem paltry to Him “who look[s] into the depths from [His] throne upon the cherubim.” But He makes any gift we give, anything we do, great by His heavenly grace.
All our offerings are as the widow’s – but a couple of copper coins – even if we give vast wealth from our surplus. What is anything we offer in the sight of God, who owns the world and all that is in it, who sits “in the firmament of heaven”? So the size matters not. But when we give our paltry gift with a heart of faith, in answer to the love He gives us, how great our gift then becomes. For this He blesses. This He looks upon with favor. This He sees as He glances up; for it is the heart He looks upon and measures. It cannot but be that the widow gave her offering out of love, out of her deep faith in God. How could one become bereft of all riches if one did not believe in Him who surpasses all?
And is it not Daniel and the young men’s faith which God does bless with His gifts of wisdom and prudence? Because “Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine” sacrificed to his pagan gods, God first blesses him and his companions with exceptional health. Though they eat food that is poor as the widow’s offering, yet “they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table” – again, because all gifts, including that of health, are in God’s hands and not in the things themselves. And God’s gift of knowledge and understanding is a reward for their faith in Him as well; they give themselves to Him in obedience and He who holds all such light of wisdom in “the temple of [His] holy glory,” who is “exalted above all forever” – which the young men readily recognize – grants them His favors by His grace.
What gift have we to give? What paltry sum have we to offer? Let it be as the two fish the boy offered in faith and generosity to the Lord (Jn.6:9), and with it He will feed five thousand. Let it be as the two coins jangling in the widow’s pocket, and with it He will build a home for you in heaven. Let it be given in the faith of the four young men and God will bless it and reveal Himself at work in you.
O LORD, you provide, you take care…
let us not be afraid
but give ourselves entirely to your service.
YHWH, praiseworthy and exalted are you, glorious above all for all ages. And those who trust in you are truly blessed; you give them wealth and health – all wisdom comes from you. And though we may have but two copper coins, if we offer them to you, you will provide all we need in this world, and bring us to the riches of Heaven.
O let us be raised up with you, dear God! Let us join you on high where you dwell in glory. To your Temple let us come and before your throne let us bow. If so humbly we worship you, you shall sit us beside you.
Let us be in your service this day, our hearts set on doing your will alone, and we shall be blessed even before kings, even before the Son of Man. O LORD, help us to give all we have to you.
Sat, 21 November 2015
O holy virgin and martyr,
you sang a song of love to Jesus,
a song that could not be dimmed,
could not be taken away,
for you were protected
by an angel of the Lord
and willing to give your life
to maintain your love for Him –
pray for us poor souls
of this day and age
from whom purity is so far removed,
who need deep conversion to believe,
to see the angel at your side,
to know the path
to which the Lord calls us,
the Cross which is every Christian’s song.
So far removed, so far removed are we,
and so impassible is the way to Him…
inspire in our souls, dear saint,
the desire for the incorruptible
that beat in your heart,
that we too might sing a song to Jesus
pleasing to His ears.
Sat, 21 November 2015
(Dn.7:13-14; Ps.93:1-2,5; Rv.1:5-8; Jn.18:33b-37)
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
“The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” our psalmist cries. “King” is our word for our great Lord; it is the best our imperfect thoughts and pale vocabulary can utter. But much more than king is our Lord Jesus Christ, for kings do come and go but “His kingship shall not be destroyed”; His “throne stands firm from of old” – it is “from everlasting” to everlasting. More than a king… He is God.
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.’” He has no beginning or end but is Himself the beginning and end of all things. He “came into the world to testify to the truth,” and now His truth is spoken, and His kingdom is coming. “Behold, He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. All the people of the earth will lament Him. Yes. Amen.” None shall be able to hide from the Truth, from the King of “all peoples, nations, and languages.” And the same vision as John has Daniel had so many centuries before: “I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven,” He whom the Ancient One gives “dominion, glory, and kingship.” And the testimony of two witnesses holds truth, cannot be broken. He is coming, and all are called to “serve Him.”
Brothers and sisters, He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” which He offers without a fight before Pilate this day. By His sacrifice He “has made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.” And the kingdom we are is not of this earth, is “not here”; and the sacrifice we offer now is heavenly – it comes down to us from above… this miraculous blood we drink and shed ourselves in His Name.
Here our King stands before us, standing in the hearts of all His holy ones. He who lives forever now draws us into the kingdom where He ever remains. Not of this world, we come before His radiant majesty. “To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Vision of Children" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son’s kingdom is not here,
is not of this world, but remains forever in Heaven –
let us meet Him in His reign.
YHWH, from you Jesus has received dominion, glory, and kingship. From all eternity He is your Son. To Him be glory and power forever, and may we join Him at your side.
To testify to the Truth He came into the world, to reveal your presence unto us, dear LORD. And so that we might become holy as He, as you, He died to take away our sins. May our hearts be set upon the Truth you are, the Truth He declares by His very presence among us, and may we follow Him through this world on His way to Heaven.
To this world He does not belong, and so should we transcend this place. Its honors and its power are as the dust, but with Him is life everlasting. He is the One who is and who was and who is to come – He is all things, dear God. And with Him we shall be made into a kingdom, and share in your eternal glory.
Fri, 20 November 2015
O holy Temple of the Lord,
preeminent member of His Church,
you who were destined from all ages
to bear the Son of God,
to be His chosen dwelling place…
you were weaned into His Temple;
there you ever remained,
becoming yourself the House of God,
where He now ever stays –
pray we be built into His Temple;
pray we become sons and daughters
In you let us make our home, dear Mother,
that the holiness of Jesus
we shall ever share.
We cannot live in Him
if apart from you;
we cannot be as Christ’s Body,
blessed by the Holy Spirit
and doing the Father’s will on earth,
if you are not our Mother,
if you are not the Temple in which we dwell.
Pray our holiness mirror your own.
Fri, 20 November 2015
(1Mac.6:1-13; Ps.9:2-4,6,16,19; Lk.20:27-40)
“The needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor shall the hope of the afflicted forever perish.”
Death comes, yes. Death is upon us and surrounds us in this world. But the suffering we face in this life has its reward. Jesus has brought redemption: He has been resurrected, and we with Him. And this new life is eternal.
It seemed the Israelites were doomed. Antiochus had ruthlessly destroyed Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Judah. All hope seemed lost. But hope was not lost, and today we read of the return of the people to Jerusalem in strength and the defeat and death of their enemy, the king. Now Antiochus has become “sick with grief because his designs ha[ve] failed.” Now he is “overwhelmed with sorrow” as he sees the evils he has committed overtake him and finds himself dying “in bitter grief, in a foreign land.” While in Jerusalem the Israelites celebrate and sing praise to God: “My enemies are turned back, overthrown and destroyed before you.”
And now such redemption is made eternal in the Person of Jesus Christ. What was but human and temporal, the fall and rise of empires and of temples, now becomes divine, now becomes everlasting in the coming of the Messiah in the flesh of God. Yet with Him there is death – but after His crucifixion it shall be no more. Yet with Him is new life – but with His resurrection it has no end. Now “those judged worthy of a place in the age to come and of resurrection from the dead… become like angels and are no longer liable to death.” In His death He destroys death: He makes it bereft of all power. In His rising He draws all into the eternal presence of the Father. Now “all are alive for Him.”
Brothers and sisters, may any “floods of sorrow” which afflict us now because of our sins or by the oppression of our persecutors not overwhelm us in this day. Let our sins be nailed to the cross with Him who is our salvation, and our hope of overcoming all the scourges of the evil one be made strong in the surpassing light of His glorious rising. With David let us “declare all [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds,” and our enemies will be left speechless.
(I must note today that the city named for this evil king – Antioch – would soon become the place where the followers of Christ were called “Christians” for the first time; and that the seat of the state which would next oppress the people of God – Rome – is now the place from which the Chair of Peter reigns. How God’s redeeming Hand does work.)
O LORD, in Heaven we shall be as angels;
let us not be weighed down by the cares of this earth.
YHWH, turn back our enemies, we pray, the sins that grieve us in this dark place. Let us not in exile die, but by your grace come to new life.
O LORD, how we long for the day when we will no more be liable to death. Like the angels of Heaven let us be; in the age to come let us make our home, leaving behind the vestiges of this vain world.
For all we have done or spoken against you, let us be forgiven, O LORD. From all the evils we have committed in Jerusalem, let us be washed clean. Make your City holy this day, that to your NAME we might sing praise.
Build up the walls round about us, dear God, that we might be protected from all the attacks of the enemy. Give us arms to defend ourselves from their snares, and we shall declare your wondrous deeds. O let us rise again with your Son!
Thu, 19 November 2015
(1Mac.4:36-37,52-59; 1Chr.29:10-13; Lk.19:45-48)
“Let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.”
In both our reading and gospel today, we hear of the cleansing of the temple, and we see its purpose and fulfillment.
“My house is meant for a house of prayer,” declares Jesus. A house of prayer, and a house for teaching: “He was teaching in the temple area from day to day.” It is a house of music, for by the Israelites after the Maccabean revolution it “was reconsecrated with songs, harps, lutes, and cymbals.” It is a place for humility: “All the people prostrated themselves…” and worship: “…and adored and praised Heaven.” Praise is most fitting for the house of the Lord, for His holy temple, for it is this which unites us with our God. When we sing of His greatness – “Yours, O Lord, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours” – we are joined to Him who is “exalted as head over all.” For in proclaiming the truth of His “power and might” over all, we ourselves are cleansed and become as temples of the Lord, holy and radiant as gold.
“The entire populace was listening to Him and hanging on His words.” To whom did the people listen but the Temple itself? What was begun by the Maccabee brothers is accomplished in Jesus. It had long been the hope and desire of the Israelites, and indeed the longing of all mankind, to have a holy place to worship God, to offer sacrifice to Him who is the greatest love of all hearts. And now He stands before them, now He speaks to them. And He effects the renewal of the temple not so much by His “ejecting the traders” who had made it “a den of thieves,” as by His presence in their midst. For the temple exists not so much in the walls adorned “with gold crowns and shields” as in the flesh of Christ; and it is this Temple we become when we follow Him, when we hear and heed the words which issue forth like a cleansing stream from these sacred lips and heart, and when we eat His body and drink His blood.
The destruction of this Temple will come. Even now the leaders of the people are “looking for a way to destroy Him.” But in three days the Temple will be rebuilt and dedicated forever in perfect purity for all who desire to enter there.
O LORD, purify our hearts
that we might rejoice in your Temple,
our prayer ever rising up to you.
YHWH, may your Temple be cleansed that we might offer true worship to you here in your Church. Let all souls be purified by your Son and by His sacrifice, that your children might sing your praise forever. From eternity to eternity you are exalted, you are the Most High – O let us freely bless your holy NAME!
O LORD, may we know the great blessing of falling prostrate before you who are God. May we find the grace of adoring you alone. May we ever be in prayer in your holy House, and so become holy ourselves in your eternal presence.
Let your sanctuary be purified; let it be dedicated to you, dear God. Let all that is sinful be cast from us by your Son that we might indeed be blessed to be as He is; listening always to His teaching and obeying His every word, let us become a House of prayer for you.
Wed, 18 November 2015
(1Mac.2:15-29; Ps.50:1-2,5-6,14-15,23; Lk.19:41-44)
“We will not obey the words of the king
nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”
The king of heaven shall soon come into the city of peace, humble and riding on an ass, but today He weeps as He sees Jerusalem and knows of its imminent destruction for its sins. Yet He shall ride into Jerusalem, yet He shall be dragged within its walls… and the death He proclaims upon all its children, He Himself shall know, He Himself shall undergo, that there may be means of escape for us all, for all who turn from the prince of this world and his seduction and seek to remain true to the commands of our God.
The persecution of the Jews some two hundred years before Christ’s own we continue to hear of in our reading from Maccabees: “The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices.” And though many go over to the enemy, Mattathias and his sons remain faithful, remain true to the Lord. Great is their zeal in the face of the threat and in the sight of the ways of the evil one. And flee the city and its abominations Mattathias did with all the righteous, to make a home apart in the desert. For he recognizes the time of visitation and the destruction of faith upon his city and his people; he has not “completely lost” vision of “the path to peace” but remains faithful even in time of persecution.
“Days will come upon you when your enemies encircle you with a rampart, hem you in, and press you hard from every side,” Jesus prophesies as He weeps over Jerusalem. He wishes not to see the persecution come, nor to have to die Himself. But the people do not recognize with their hearts the love He offers forth… and so what can He do but die; and so what can they know but destruction. But His sacrifice shall prove redemptive for those who turn; a place in the desert He shall prepare for those who desire to be holy, to be set apart from the wickedness of this race.
“From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” and His “faithful ones” gather before Him. In their praise of His glory they fulfill their “vows to the Most High” and so the king of this world holds no power over them. In the New Jerusalem with the risen Lord they live, beyond the destruction of the old.
O LORD, you will come to visit your people;
let us flee the sin of this world or we will be destroyed.
YHWH, it is better for us to dwell in a desert apart if it means we can remain with you. Better for us to leave all our possessions behind than to be enslaved by the silver and gold and many gifts this world offers to those who abandon their faith. Let us remain steadfast with you and fight always for what is just in your sight.
Days will soon come when there will not be one stone left on another. Indeed, our enemies come to encircle us and close in upon us. But we need not fear the darkness, the powers of this dying age. For with you, O LORD, we are strong, stronger than death itself. Let us ever offer a holy sacrifice to you; forever let us praise your NAME.
Jesus weeps for the blindness of the people to His presence among us. They hear Him not as He speaks and summons them to the kingdom. Let us not be so blind and deaf, dear LORD, but obey your every word, and we shall be rescued.
Tue, 17 November 2015
O woman who prayed always
and had great mercy on souls,
whose missionary zeal
led you across the ocean,
thousands of miles from your home,
to educate the poor
and care for the sick,
to bring the love of Jesus
to those most in need –
pray we too shall have a heart
set on service of the Lord
and remembrance of His presence,
that our concern for those apart from Christ
will drive us to great ends,
even to the ends of the earth,
where certainly He dwells.
Pray we shall have your courage
in facing the unknown,
in calling all home
to the Heart of God;
and through all we do for Him
let us remain in prayer,
knowing His Heaven here on earth.
Tue, 17 November 2015
(2Mac.7:1,20-31; Ps.17:1,5-6,8,15; Lk.19:11-28)
“He, in His mercy, will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of His Law.”
When the Lord returns “crowned as king” He will call all before Himself and judge each according to the profit he has made with his life. If we are like the seven brothers who suffered and died for the faith, if we have been like the good servants who invested wisely the gifts left with them by the Lord, we shall come into His reign. If we have wasted His talents or, God forbid, have persecuted, as Antiochus – who “contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews” – those who strive with the Lord to remain faithful to His call, we “will not escape the hands of God.” He will come to judge; in justice He is known.
“On waking, I shall be content in your presence,” sings David in our psalm, expressing the hope of those whose “steps have been steadfast” in the paths of God. And how this hope in the coming kingdom is embodied by the seven brothers with their mother “who were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king” – how well they presage the suffering and death of Jesus, and the sword which pierces His mother’s heart. The mother’s words are particularly beautiful and wise as she witnesses to her sons that she was not the author of their lives: “It was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed,” thus stirring them to faith in “the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning” and holds the life of all in His hands. Hear her words of exhortation to faith spoken to her youngest son: “I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things.” And so she encourages him to “accept death, so that in the time of mercy [she] may receive [him] again.” Here, certainly, is our faith in essence. Here the hope we have in the Lord is lived.
The Lord has gone from us to the “faraway country” of heaven to receive His kingship and return for our souls. He has left with each of His servants gifts for the time of waiting. Today He and His heavenly kingdom are not far away for He is very present in His Church, in her priests and the sacraments, in the Word of God revealed to us, in the sky upon which we gaze to see His handiwork… in all things we know Him and for all our needs He provides. Let us not be afraid to live with Him and so to die for Him, to disregard our very lives in the employment of His talents… and the breath and life we do so cherish shall be ours forever in heaven.
O LORD, Jesus goes to the Cross, but He shall return;
He shall return and judge the souls of all.
YHWH, your Son has gone from us to a faraway land, to your side in the kingdom of Heaven. And if we wish to join Him there, we must employ well the talents He leaves us now in His stead. We must be willing to lay down our lives as He has done if we are to enter into His reign in the time of mercy.
O may your Son come to us even this day, dear LORD! May we know His presence among us in the gifts and graces He leaves us in His sacraments and in His Word. And may we work each day to increase their yield upon this earth, until He returns in glory.
Soon He shall return and we must stand strong in the face of death and torture, before the evils contrived by the hands of men. For you, O LORD, who made the heavens and the earth shall reward every man who gives witness to your love. We shall wake in your presence; breath and life will be ours in your eternal kingdom.
Mon, 16 November 2015
O charitable soul
who gave all you owned
for the sake of the Gospel,
though endowed with great riches
you embraced lady poverty
that you might serve the Lord
with a heart beating for the poor.
With your own hands
you tended the sickest;
into your own home
you welcomed the most destitute –
pray that in our small way
we too may follow
in the footsteps of Christ
and give our lives
to the poor whom He loves
and to prayer in His presence.
Pray our hearts, too,
may know His tender care for souls
and our own souls
meditate upon Him night and day;
pray we too shall give up all
to find His holy kingdom.
Mon, 16 November 2015
(2Mac.6:18-31; Ps.3:2-8; Lk.19:1-10)
“I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.”
Zacchaeus’ running up ahead and climbing a tree in order to be able to see Jesus as He passed along the way may not be a witness on the order of Eleazar, who “declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God” and went willingly to torture and death, “leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation,” but the same faith inspired both. And perhaps this wealthy man giving half of his belongings to the poor does approach the heroism of Eleazar.
The principal figures in both our reading and gospel today indeed give witness to the faith in the salvation which Jesus has come to bring to all our houses. And both reflect the strength needed to overcome the myriad of obstacles set in our paths. “O Lord, how many are my adversaries!” David cries in our psalm. “Many rise up against me!” Eleazar is threatened by the systematic persecution of his faith and his people by the pagan king and his minions, but in the face of “the instrument of torture” this noble old man tells his persecutors “to send him at once to the abode of the dead,” for he would not bring “shame and dishonor” on himself nor lead the people astray by giving in to an unlawful act. And in our gospel Zacchaeus finds himself surrounded by the murmuring crowd accusing him of being a sinner. But he stands his ground in the face of this persecution, justified or not, and proves himself worthy to be at the side of Jesus.
“The Son of Man has come to search out and save what was lost.” It is His desire to bring us to salvation. Yet if we do not seek Him, He will not find us. If we do not call to Him, He will not hear us. And if we do not stand our ground and give witness to Him when put to the test for our faith, He cannot stand with us.
Temptations must necessarily come. We cannot escape persecution. But we must not listen to those who say, “There is no salvation for him in God.” We must remember that God stands with us if we stand with Him, and that it is just such as us He has come to save.
O LORD, help us to stand strong in your NAME
in the face of persecution;
let us endure all with you.
YHWH, our adversaries surround us on every side saying there is no salvation for us in God because of our sins against you, or because they doubt your existence. Thus the darkness closes in upon us, the wickedness of this evil place. But standing with you we are saved. When we call on your NAME, when we climb the tree of life, your holy mountain, to gaze on your face, you are there to receive our souls: though we die we shall wake with you.
Why should we be afraid, LORD, though myriads of people are arrayed against us, though they threaten us with torture and death? Even if our sins should accuse us, even if rightly we should be condemned, yet your Son comes to seek us out and redeem us from condemnation to stand with Him in your kingdom. O let Him come to our house this day! and with Him let us remain faithful till the end.
Sun, 15 November 2015
O blessed mystic of Jesus,
you were saved by Him
from a life of vain pursuit
of the things and thoughts
of this world
to find union with His Sacred Heart,
which holds all heavenly treasures.
You see Him now
(do you not, dear virgin?)
in His perfection,
even as you saw Him,
though only in the shadow of vision,
here upon this plane –
pray we shall also know
His blessed perfection,
the beating of His Sacred Heart
within our own,
the love which surpasses all understanding
illumining our soul…
that no more will we ever desire
than to be with Him
where you are now,
in His eternal glory.
Sun, 15 November 2015
O devout mother and queen
whose concern was ever
for your children and your people,
that they might ever be fed
in body and in soul
and so grow unto the fullness of Christ –
pray for us, O holy queen,
that we the Lord’s poor subjects
might receive from His hand
all we need
to become His sons and daughters.
In prayer and gratitude
let us remain ever before His throne,
that by such holy fear
we might be made fruitful as you,
bearing children unto Him
and raising them to His glory.
A heart for the poor
may we ever nourish
that, as poor as we are,
by our King’s gracious blessing
we might give what He provides
until all enter His reign.
Sun, 15 November 2015
(1Mac.1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-63; Ps.119:53,61,88,134,150,155,158; Lk.18:35-43)
“Terrible affliction was upon Israel.”
Oh how the nation had become so blind. Oh how they had turned from their God. Some “preferred to die rather than be defiled with unclean food or to profane the covenant,” but most ate freely of the poisonous fruit of the tree of abomination, and so became as the blind man begging by the side of the road – so spiritually bereft were they.
Our reading from Maccabees tells of a terrible time of persecution upon the Israelite nation less than two hundred years before the coming of Christ, and it shows that that persecution comes from within the community itself, as “men who were breakers of the law” sought alliance with the Gentiles and their pagan worship, thinking so foolishly that this would bring them blessing and comfort. How readily “they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.” And the date is given here when “the king erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of holocausts,” signifying Israel’s complete turn from God and His laws to the vain worship of false gods.
Our psalm speaks repeatedly of “the snares of the wicked,” “the oppression of men,” the “malicious persecutors,” the “sinners,” the “apostates” who turn from the law and attempt to “twine” others about in their evil. This is man’s sin from the beginning – attempting to form God of his own hands, refusing to be obedient to the ways the loving Father has imparted for his salvation, for his blessing. Man gives himself over to the lusts of this world and the imagination of a proud mind, and through such exaltation of self finds himself soon lost in the confusion that such vanity can only bring. But in the meantime he persecutes the just who hold to the way of truth; for a while he fools himself by the glamour of his idols. But soon the blindness sets in, and soon the salvation of the just shall come.
If we are in affliction because of the persecution of this world of sin that surrounds and closes in, we should consider ourselves blessed; this affliction is proof of our faith, and upon it the Lord looks with favor. If we are afflicted with the blindness of the nations wrought by our wallowing in sin, we’d best cry out to the Lord as He passes us on the way to Jerusalem. He will hear us and He will stop, if we are persistent in our cries. And it is so that our faith will make us whole. Let us find our sight by the intercession of Christ and “giving God the glory” begin “to follow Him,” whatever cross may await us.
O LORD, woe to those who forsake your law! –
let them cry out to you with full voice
that they may be saved.
YHWH, how blind we have become, turning from your law, from your holy ways, to worship the false and empty gods of the nations. O may your Son turn to us and have pity this day that we might see His goodness before us and follow Him to the New Jerusalem. Let us not be counted among those who forsake your Law and profane your Temple; let us rather die than break your Covenant.
By the side of the road we sit and cry for all the afflictions our sin has brought upon us. What hope have we, O LORD, of being taken from this dark place, how could we escape the snares of the wicked round about us, if your Son did not stop and call us to Himself, if He did not come into the midst of the darkness to save us.
Glory to you, O God, and to you alone, for your promise you have not forgotten. From all evil keep us safe.
Sat, 14 November 2015
O patron of scientists and philosophers,
you of brilliant mind
who taught with both
human and divine wisdom,
who led your students
to deeper and purer understanding
of God and His world
and most especially His Church –
pray we partake of your teaching this day,
that the light you brought
to the minds of your flock
will not be lost
by eyes blind to the truth.
Pray the word upon your soul
will bring us closer to the Lord
that we might partake of Him
in sacrament and in preaching.
O how shall we see
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not serve to guide us
to the glory that surpasses
our poor ability to comprehend Him?
Sat, 14 November 2015
(Dn.12:1-3; Ps.16:5,8-11; Heb.10:11-14,18; Mk.13:24-32)
“He will send out the angels
and gather His elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”
On that Day “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky.” On that Day we “will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress,” but “everyone who is found written in the book” of Life “shall escape”; all His chosen He shall rescue. For He will not “suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption,” but “show [him] the path to life” and give him “fullness of joys in [His] presence.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has taken “His seat forever at the right hand of God; now He waits until His enemies are made His footstool.” Though “He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” and “there is no longer offering for sin,” the time is yet to be fulfilled for all His chosen to partake of His “one sacrifice for sins” – He who is our “allotted portion and [our] cup” must be drunk to the full by all His elect, must be made perfect as He by joining in His sacrifice. And though “He is near, at the gates,” ready to break in upon our world in His time and according to His ways, yet “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”: all the tribulations must come upon this earth, and all His children must be made ready for His Day.
Brothers and sisters, He “hold[s] fast [our] lot” and “with Him at [our] right hand [we] shall not be disturbed.” “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [His] words will not pass away,” and it is in His word we trust. So let your heart and soul rejoice and your body abide “in confidence” for “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament” on the Day of the Lord’s return. We shall not join those who “shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace” but “shall live forever” in the light of His face. Hear the word the Lord speaks to your heart; see the signs before your eyes. Join yourself to His holy sacrifice, and you shall know “the delights at [His] right hand forever” in heaven where He now reigns.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us shine brightly in Jesus’ presence
when He comes.
YHWH, how could we escape the judgment coming upon the face of the earth and stand in your presence forever except that Jesus has offered His sacrifice for our sins and now waits with you in Heaven for us to turn to Him and join you there? He is our assurance of your blessing. When He returns again may we be found ready to be gathered to you.
Send your angels forth, O LORD, to save us from all tribulation, to strengthen us to stand in peace even as the stars fall from the sky. The darkness let us not fear; rather, let us be purged by it of all our attachment to this forsaken place. O let us not be counted among those who have forsaken you! Abandon us not to the nether world, but let our souls rejoice in the light of your face – let us shine with you forever.
The path to life you show us, LORD, that we might find the fullness of joy in your presence. Open our eyes and hearts to your glorious coming.
Fri, 13 November 2015
(Ws.18:14-16,19:6-9; Ps.105:2-3,5,36-37,42-43; Lk.18:1-8)
“He led forth His people with joy;
with shouts of joy, His chosen ones.”
“They beheld stupendous wonders.” Before their eyes, “out of what had been water, dry land was seen emerging.” And so, sheltered by the mighty hand of the Lord, they crossed over, from the land of bondage to freedom. And in their joy “they ranged about like horses, and bounded about like lambs…” praising the Lord, “their deliverer.”
This is the story of our own salvation; this is the way of our own redemption from the sin which holds us bound on this earthly plane. Our exodus, too, must come. The Lord shall return to earth. As He was faithful in leading the Israelites forth from the land of Egypt, where they had been slaves four hundred years, so He will not forget us who have been in the bonds of Satan upon this plane. Our deliverance, too, will come.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, God will “do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night.” He will not “delay long over them” but will “give them swift justice.” The vision of the Israelites at the Red Sea will be our own. Before our eyes we will see the dry land appearing. We shall rejoice at the Lord’s hand guiding our steps out of this dark land. “An unimpeded road” we shall travel, moving toward His promised land. Yes, heaven will be ours. The first-born of Satan, the flower of his evil, shall be destroyed in the stillness of the night, and truth and goodness and light will emerge victorious; and we shall be led forth, as it were, “laden with silver and gold,” rejoicing in the abundant blessings of our Lord and God.
He does not delay. He will not delay. We wait, yes, and struggle with our faith… but He is ready – He does not have to be asked twice. But as our hearts are weakened by sin, we must be encouraged, we must continue to pray, always, even in the face of darkness. Through the darkness the Lord’s light shall come shining, if we remain faithful in our cries. So, “sing to Him, sing His praise… O hearts that seek the Lord!” for He is near in all our prayers, and shall lead us forth into His blessed kingdom. Alleluia!
O LORD, your justice is swift
but who is there that calls out to you,
that desires your hand at work in his life?
YHWH, what marvels you have worked for us; for we who were overshadowed by sin, who seemed trapped by its darkness, abandoned to its clutches, have been mightily delivered from sure death and destruction to stand with you in your kingdom. And should we now have no faith in you? Should we fail to cry out to you for secure protection? Will your justice not come quickly to us, whom you so love and for whom you so desire salvation?
O LORD, let us not be so foolish as to doubt your good will toward us and your power to save us; let us not forget the wonders you have performed for us even to this day. And what greater wonders await those who hope in you! For the dry land we shall soon stand upon when your Son returns, when He has overshadowed our enemies and redeemed us from all darkness, shall be the Promised Land of Heaven.
O praise you, LORD! Your people glory in your holy NAME.
Thu, 12 November 2015
O mother of the faith
and helper of the stranger
in the New World,
you sought with great diligence
to preserve the true religion
in a land hostile to Mother Church,
to assist those in spiritual
as well as physical need –
pray a measure of your missionary spirit
be poured out upon your daughters,
upon the many houses you established
and all those served by them.
Pray the country you took to heart
and which became your own
will turn resolutely
to the Lord and His blood
and away from the destruction
of its soul,
upon which it seems so set.
Pray the faith shall be restored
from shore to shore
and this nation in truth become
a light on a hill.
Thu, 12 November 2015
(Ws.13:1-9; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.17:26-37)
“Wherever the carcass is, there will the vultures gather.”
It is so that “the heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.” It is true that “from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.” Yes, “the things seen are fair,” and speak even of the glory of our God… but they shall indeed all come to naught when He alone stands before us on the last day.
In the created world we exist. To an extent, in the created world we take refuge, discerning the hand of God at work in the things around us and coming by way of the knowledge presented to us in their beauty and wonder to that Hand which has created all. And so they can be beneficial to us. And so they can help to reveal God’s presence to us who are so blind. But both the warning of our reading from Wisdom and Christ’s own words in the gospel must be heeded: we cannot make “fire,” “wind,” or “mighty water” our gods; and we cannot be attached to our possessions. For these things of nature, as great as God has made them, and these things at our disposal, as much a blessing they may be to us for our time on earth, are passing away. Only God remains.
Brothers and sisters, we must look upon the stars of heaven, we must see the signs wrought in our midst… but we cannot be distracted by them from the God who made them. We must eat and drink, we must take husbands and wives… but we cannot get drunk or live in lust, allowing the earthly to overcome our spirits. Lot’s wife turned to see what she’d left behind; she longed to return to her possessions and the carnal life of Sodom. Unable to understand or accept the grace of the angel of God who was leading her forth to a safer and more glorious land, she was turned to salt – all of worth was taken from her; only the carcass remained.
The day shall come when all we see shall be destroyed. And so, how important it is that our hearts not be set on all we see, else we shall be destroyed with it. Though with utmost respect we treat this world and even find joy in its beauty, we must ever keep in mind that its beauty is passing and is only significant if it leads to the eternal beauty of heaven.
O LORD, we must discern the signs of the times,
for your Son will soon return
and we will have to leave all things behind.
YHWH, the heavens declare your glory to all, but do we upon earth hear the angels’ voices? Do we take their message of your beauty and wonder and power to heart, or do we lose ourselves in these things and pass away as they do? For the things in the heavens and those upon the earth, though blessed to find your voice resounding in them, soon turn to dust – only your kingdom remains. Will we stand with you on the last Day?
Soon your Son shall come and fully reveal your glory shining in our midst. Soon He will be here to carry us to Heaven. But will we be ready to travel with Him, or will our souls be dead and empty as a carcass? Will we turn back to the things of the earth and so be turned to salt, or place our faith in Him alone and so fly unto your presence? Let us not be lost in the things we see, O LORD, but raise our minds to look upon that which passes not away. Let us come to you.
Wed, 11 November 2015
O shepherd thirsty for souls,
whose only desire
was the unity of the Church
under Christ her King
and on the Rock of Peter…
for this cause you gave your life;
for this call from the Lord
you shed your blood –
pray this day all may be one,
that none shall shrink
from fulfilling this desire of Jesus
but by the power of the Holy Spirit
and with great courage
to slake the thirst of the Lord.
We are all children of one Father;
we have but one Brother in Christ
and one Mother in the Catholic faith.
Pray this truth shall prevail
over the deceptions of the devil,
who would separate and conquer souls
but who is turned back from his evil course
when we are willing to die for one another.
Wed, 11 November 2015
(Ws.7:22-8:1; Ps.119:89-91,130,135,175; Lk.17:20-25)
“Let your countenance shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.”
Wisdom, who “is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars… reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.” Wisdom “penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity,” for she is “the refulgence of eternal light.” How like the Lord she is, He whose coming “day will be like the lightning that flashes from one end of the sky to the other” and yet whose reign is “already in [our] midst.” How we are filled with understanding when this light which “endures forever,” which “is firm as the heavens,” shines upon our simple minds, leading us to the grace of eternal glory.
Wisdom we need, brothers and sisters. The Lord’s Word must be with us. “For there is naught God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.” Else we shall be as those who “go running about excitedly” at every report of the Lord’s being “here” or “there,” at every proclamation of the end being near. The end is here; it is now the Son of Man “must suffer much and be rejected by the present age.” The Lord has come, and so “the reign of God is already in [our] midst.” Its fulfillment we shall not discern by “careful watching,” by setting our sights on the things of the earth, but only with the “intelligent, pure, and very subtle” spirit of Wisdom. She alone teaches us of the kingdom, for she alone is “the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of His goodness.” Without her purity, our minds are dimmed. Without her surpassing light, we cannot but be blind. She alone knows, she alone leads holy souls into the truth of His presence. All words lacking her light are but vain speculation, which shall come to naught, which shall fall to the earth from which they are derived. Heaven alone is lasting.
Have we the light of Wisdom directing our thoughts and actions, brothers and sisters? Is her purity set firmly within us? Will we then stand on the day the lightning flashes, on the day the glory of the Lord is revealed? Do we carry that glory now within us? If not, let us turn to Wisdom, and she will teach us. Like a mother who cares for her children she will be. And led to the presence of the Lord we will be, where we will find our peace. Let us not fail to take her gentle yoke upon our shoulders; let the cross of Christ and the light of the coming kingdom be ever our guide.
O LORD, your Son is in our midst
most especially in His Cross,
and it is through His Cross
Wisdom shines most brightly.
YHWH, let the Spirit of Wisdom fill us, your Holy Spirit pass into us and make us as your prophets. Let us speak only your Word in all we do, moving ever with the One who is beyond all motion – intelligent, holy, and pure let us be. Without the light of Wisdom our lives shall be as nothing in your sight; let your countenance shine upon us.
Your reign is coming by the power of the Holy Spirit; it is now already in our midst. Not relegated to space or time, it is not readily perceived by the mind of man – he cannot put his finger upon it or control it in any way. All we can do is desire your presence with us, LORD, that when the lightning flashes in your eternal sky, we will stand firm with you who endure forever, and with your Son.
Give us your light, dear God, that we might be established well in your glorious kingdom.
Tue, 10 November 2015
O sacrificial shepherd,
you gave your life for your flock;
a poor and humble man,
you gathered the poor and humble
of the Lord
into the arms of His Church,
where they might be fed with His grace.
Ever with arms upraised
you taught your people ever to pray
and founded many houses of prayer;
peace you brought to your church
that all might serve the one true God –
pray we shall be humble and lowly
as you, dear shepherd,
and so mirror the life of our Lord.
Pray our lives be entrusted to Him,
that whatever we do be in His will;
whether we live or die,
let it not matter to us,
but only let matter the laying down of our lives,
that by such sacrificial offering
God’s Word might go forth
and all souls be welcomed into Abraham’s arms.
Tue, 10 November 2015
(Ws.6:1-11; Ps.82:3-4,6-8; Lk.17:11-19)
“Stand up and go your way;
your faith has been your salvation.”
“This man was a Samaritan.” Jesus chose the lowest of the low, not only a leper, the most ostracized of all individuals, but a Samaritan, a foreigner most despised by the Israelite nation, to reveal His mercy, to reveal the universal nature of His forgiveness, and so the universal call to salvation. He demonstrates that all may have faith in Him, and that it is for us to call all to Him.
Many are given power on this earth, power which was far from the Samaritan leper healed by Jesus. And Wisdom makes clear the responsibility that comes with that authority, the manner in which that judgment placed in the hands of princes must be effected. For the Lord shall hold accountable all to whom power is given; He shall “probe [their] works and scrutinize [their] counsels.” And if they keep not His law and “walk according to the will of God,” great as the power given them shall be their punishment. “For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy,” as was the leper in our gospel today, “but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.”
I find it rather frightening to hear that “for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends,” for, brothers and sisters, we are all given a measure of power by the Lord, and so all shall be held responsible for their gifts. It can make us quake in our shoes to think that we are answerable to God, to the all-powerful Lord of the universe, for all we do. Do we “keep the holy precepts” well? Will we “have ready a response” when He stands before us, when He inquires of our actions? If we desire His words, we know that He will instruct us, but how can we who are so human and sinful be as faithful as we need to be? Our psalm warns us: “You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High” – we are all gifted greatly by our God to be as His children – “yet like men you shall die, and fall like any prince…” yet oh how human we are, how subject to the elements of sin and death.
What shall we do? Our psalm indicates what our actions should be: “Defend the lowly and the fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and the destitute.” And the blessed leper in our gospel reveals the attitude we should have toward our Lord: “He threw himself on his face at the feet of Jesus and spoke His praises.” If we think ourselves any better than he or do anything differently, we shall not hear the Lord calling us to rise and go forth – we shall not find our salvation. Let us demonstrate our faith and the grace at work within us.
O LORD, you raise the lowly who call to you,
but the wicked who turn their faces from your presence
you cut down.
YHWH, the lowly and the poor you raise up, so let us fall on our face before you. Like the leper let us know and remember that only by your Son are we made whole; only by you do we have life at all. Whatever power we may have in this world comes only from you, and we shall be answerable for it.
You scrutinize all matters, LORD, for your eye sees all things. The haughty soul does not escape your glance but shall be brought to judgment for the evil in his heart and at his hands. If we desire to find blessing from you, to come into your presence in the kingdom, how humble we must be and faithful in your service.
We are all made princes by your grace upon us. Though we come from dust you breathe the breath of life into us and so form us in your image. And in your image we must remain, to it we must return, O LORD. Without your wisdom to lead us, how terribly we shall be judged. Save us from such a deadly fate, and we shall sing your praise.
Mon, 9 November 2015
O true Pastor of God’s Church,
defender of the faith
from forces without
and within her walls,
you proved that this House
founded by Christ the Lord
shall never succumb
to the powers of hell
but ever stand strong
against all tides of the world
and the evil influence of the devil –
pray though the flesh be weak,
though every member be prone to sin,
that all souls set on the Rock
that is the bark of Peter
shall repel every attack
against the integrity of the faith
and stand with Jesus
as king over the flesh,
as priest offering pure sacrifice,
as prophet speaking His words…
and so until the end of time
may God’s Church be ever blessed.
Mon, 9 November 2015
(Ws.2:23-3:9; Ps.34:2-3,16-19; Lk.17:7-10)
“The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them.”
What does the Lord mean when He instructs us in our gospel to say, “We are useless servants,” than that which David says in our psalm, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves,” and that which the Book of Wisdom states in our first reading: “Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself”? For though we who serve Christ seem to be dead in the judgment of this world, and the laying down of our lives in service of Christ – who died upon the cross quite freely – seems to be nothing but “utter destruction,” yet we know that it is precisely this death in Christ which brings life… and in His hands we shall be blessed.
“The Lord confronts evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.” Yet “when the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress He rescues them.” Yes, “those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with Him in love: because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” And “they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their king forever.” For they have given their service to the One who rules the universe, and so in His service they shall remain – death shall have no power over them. If “God formed man to be imperishable” and made him “the image of His own nature,” what shall touch those who serve Him, who treasure that image of God upon them? How shall they die?
“We have done no more than our duty.” This is the bottom line of our time on earth. And the accomplishment of our duty, the fulfillment of the Lord’s Word at work in our hearts, is all that is needed to bring us to eternal life. And though it is not His obligation, though certainly no reward is due us who have but carried out the orders of our superior, the Lord will say to us in His grace on that day, “Come and sit down at table.” And we shall sup with Him eternally, His gracious hand upon us for good.
Brothers and sisters, forget not your call to serve Him, to lay down your lives before Him, and He shall not neglect to hear you now, and to give you life eternal. Keep your “hope full of immortality” even “as gold in the furnace” your mettle is proven this day, and the day of the Lord shall be yours, when all torment shall have fled away.
O LORD, we are indeed useless servants,
but you greatly bless those who serve you.
YHWH, death is upon us this day, you know. But we who are joined to the Cross of your Son are not touched by it: from death you save your faithful servants. Whatever power the devil has to threaten us with our sins and the death that comes from them has been destroyed by the sacrifice of Jesus. And so, we who humble ourselves with Him will be blessed in your kingdom.
When we cry out to you, dear LORD, you are quick to save us; near indeed you are to the brokenhearted. Though our spirits be crushed by the travails of this life, you raise them to your presence. And so, what can we do but glory in your NAME? What can we do but look forward to that day when we shall sit at your table?
O LORD, let us be purified of all dross by the affliction we suffer in union with your only Son. Remade in His image, into your peace let us come, dwelling in immortality.
Sun, 8 November 2015
(Ez.47:1-2,8-9,12; Ps.46:1-3,5-6,8-9; 1Cor.3:9c-11,16-17; Jn.2:13-22)
“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.”
On this the feast set aside to commemorate the cathedral of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, himself the founding stone upon which Christ builds His Church, we hear much of temples. In our first reading Ezekial sees in his vision, “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple,” water which brings life to the great sea and the fruit that grows upon its banks; the water that gladdens the holy dwelling of the Most High is spoken of in our psalm; Paul tells us we are “the temple of God,” “God’s building”; and zeal for the Father’s house consumes the Lord, and so He purges it with whip in hand in our gospel today. But perhaps the most revelatory statement is, “He was speaking of the temple of His body,” also from our gospel, and noted as explanation of Jesus’ challenge to the Jews to destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days. This essential truth of the nature of the temple is substantiated by Paul’s teaching of the care needed by those who build within the Church: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.” Though he then goes on to say that we are the temple of God, wrought in all holiness, and though this is an equal truth, yet neither this truth, nor that which holds Peter as the founding “rock” of this Temple in which we dwell, have any basis without the essential understanding that Jesus is at the very heart of all our worship, of the Church we are. The Lord has indeed wrought “astounding things… on earth.” He has made us as those trees along the banks of His river of life, bearing His fruit each month for the benefit of the world. He has made us His holy dwelling place and placed His Spirit upon us for the building up of His kingdom… But all of this has its source in the water of life itself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our Church this day and the glorious blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as His temple, as His children, let us not forget our Savior who has been the cause of and continues to be the cause of our joy. Let us be washed in the water from His side and be built up in His Body and His Blood. May we have His same zeal for the Father’s House.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, purify this temple, destroyed by sin;
let us truly be your House, dear God.
YHWH, you are with us in the midst of your Church, your Son the very foundation of this Temple. And He is the Temple itself, we His very Body; and so, how holy we should be. Indeed, we should be as holy as you, our Most High God, as perfect as your only Son.
It is Jesus’ blood and the water flowing from His side that washes us clean and nourishes the growth of His holy Church. The waters of this River gladden the hearts of all who dwell in your House, O LORD. Upon the banks of this River let us ever remain, bearing fruit each month, each day, each hour, in your holy NAME.
Beneath the Cross let us make our home, O holy LORD and God. Here alone in the shadow of Jesus’ arms will we be made whole, will our temple be cleansed and we become your house of prayer. May the zeal of the Christ chastise our hearts and prepare them for your kingdom. May we be raised with Him on His Day and remain in your presence forever.
Sat, 7 November 2015
(1Kgs.17:10-16; Ps.146:1,7-10; Heb.9:24-28; Mk.12:38-44)
“She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
Jesus sits in the temple and watches as “the crowd put[s] money into the treasury.” When He sees “a poor widow… put in two small coins worth a few cents,” He calls His disciples over, and speaks the truth to them: “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” Whatever wealth anyone else might have stuffed into the box cannot begin to compare to her whole sacrifice – it mimics His own.
And in our first reading we find another poor widow sacrificing her livelihood to the Lord and His prophet. It is the time of a great famine upon the land (called down from heaven by Elijah himself) and the widow has nothing left to eat but “a handful of flour in [her] jar and a little oil in [her] jug.” She tells us her situation: “Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” A last supper. Straits most of us can only imagine. Yet when the prophet Elijah asks her, “First make me a little cake and bring it to me,” invoking the name of the God of Israel and promising His blessings, this woman who is not even of the house of Israel does not hesitate to give first to this stranger of the only sustenance she has for herself and her son. Another sacrifice mimicking Christ’s own.
Both widows’ sacrifices shall be blessed by the Lord; we can be assured of this. For “the widow He sustains”; it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “protects strangers”… and any offering made in His name can only be multiplied. Indeed, Elijah proves himself not to be as the Pharisees who “devour the houses of widows,” for by his presence with his benefactor “she was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well,” the flour and the oil remaining until the rains returned. “The Lord keeps faith forever.”
Brothers and sisters, Christ “has appeared at the end of the age to take away sins by His sacrifice.” He does this “once for all,” and so does not “offer Himself repeatedly.” But we, brothers and sisters, we must join with that sacrifice – it is for us to offer ourselves as He has, as these widows have, if we are to partake of its graces. As it is manifested on our altar each day, we renew our commitment to be sharers in the blood He shed. As we drink from His cup let us remember always that it is our very lives that we are giving up. And the Lord will bless us as His own. And with these widows we shall sit at His table in heaven.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, we must give what we have to you
or we shall have nothing.
YHWH, help us to give our whole livelihood to you, to join in the sacrifice of your Son. For you will not abandon those who hunger for your love but bless them with all they need for their journey to Heaven.
The widow you sustain, dear God; those who believe in you, you indeed bless. And we must show that we eagerly await the Second Coming of your Son by not being attached to the things of this passing earth. We must rather make known our faith in you by entrusting all into your hands. For Jesus, who has entered Heaven on our behalf, taking our sins with Him that we might be purged, will not abandon us on the last day if we offer ourselves in union with His sacrifice.
All we have let us give to you, O LORD, even our food for the day, and you shall feed us from Heaven with the Bread that sustains all poor souls unto eternity. Our jar of flour shall not go empty nor our jug of oil run dry, for in them are the Body and Blood of your only Son.
Fri, 6 November 2015
(Rm.16:3-9,16,22-27; Ps.145:1-5,10-11; Lk.16:9-15)
“Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.”
We are in the world, and amongst the wealth of this world. We have nothing to do with money and the world – “You cannot serve God and money,” the Lord has told us, and so we cannot serve money… yet what have we to use but the riches of this world? And so “through use of this world’s goods,” by showing ourselves trustworthy with this “elusive wealth,” we find and bring others to the “lasting” riches of heaven.
Paul at the end of his letter to the Romans lists all his “fellow workers in the service of Christ.” Here are those who have been faithful with the elusive wealth of this world. They themselves have died, their bodies have been laid in the tomb, yet their works live on in the Spirit they have brought forth. Nothing of this world lasts long, yet these transitory things can and must be used, that “glory be given through Jesus Christ unto endless ages.”
“Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might,” sings David to the Lord. And with our voice, too, while we have breath, we must “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wondrous works.” Forever and in all our works we must praise and bless the Lord of all, that all we do leads unto the glory of the kingdom, that in all we serve God with all our might. We must join ourselves to Him, and we do this by the gifts He gives us, and by employing now what is at our disposal. So it is. So it has been back beyond the time of Paul, and so it shall be unto the coming of eternity.
Today we must think of how well we use this world’s goods, how well we employ this Word of the Lord in the world. In the “little” things of our daily lives do we honor God, or are we unjust in some manner? For today begins the road to heaven; this time leads to eternity. And if we wish to find “lasting reception” with the Lord in heaven, we must be ever faithful in our works today. To God let us give thanks. May we who are the work of the Lord give praise to Him in all our works upon this earth.
O LORD, let us give you glory
through all that is at our hands.
YHWH, generation after generation praises your works; from the time of the apostles unto this day, all those who serve the Gospel of your Son speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty – let us always discourse of the glory of your reign and give you due praise by all we do in your NAME.
O LORD, we are in the world, and though we can never be of the world, what do we have but the world this day? And so we must use it wisely and make great profit by it, even the salvation of the world itself. May many men come into your presence by the work of your servants each day. And may we always be in their company.
O LORD, let our names be written in the Book of those who have faithfully served you, who have turned their backs on unjust gain for the sake of your Church. May we forever sing your praise with all those your Son has saved.
Thu, 5 November 2015
(Rm.15:14-21; Ps.98:1-4; Lk.16:1-8)
“The worldly take more initiative than the otherworldly
when it comes to dealing with their own kind.”
What is the Lord teaching His disciples? What does He wish to tell them of their call? We need only look at the Apostle Paul, for here is a man, a child of God, who has taken the initiative the Lord would see wrought in us all.
Our first reading indeed speaks clearly of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. Not only has he covered a vast measure of the globe (particularly for that time), but his intense initiative is seen most acutely in his never going “to preach in places where Christ’s name was already known”; rather, “they who received no word of Him” became Paul’s audience. A greater example of taking initiative in the Spirit of Christ to bring His light to the world perhaps will never be known.
But it is required of all of us. We are not free to revel in complacency because Paul has been so industrious. It is still true that the Lord must make His salvation known “in the sight of the nations,” and it is still so that we Christians of the Church militant have the responsibility to see that the Lord’s work is accomplished. Each of us is called to take a measure of initiative, is gifted by God with the responsibility of bringing a portion of His kingdom to light – in our own way, in our own time… but invariably the call is there and must be answered. All must fulfill their role in salvation history before it can be truly and completely proclaimed: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.”
The devious employee’s heart was set thoroughly on the business at his hands, and he used his business wisdom, his worldly savvy, to save his skin. Where is our spiritual savvy? Where is the employment of our spiritual wisdom and insight to the salvation of others’ souls, and our own? “I can take glory in Christ Jesus for the work I have done for God,” Paul says quite freely. Are we able to say the same? Let us work industriously and with initiative to bring the spiritual kingdom to fulfillment. By God’s grace, let the Spirit come.
O LORD, let us do all we can to bring your Word
to the world.
YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of your Son, but we must carry that truth to the ends of the world, even as the Apostle Paul.
We cannot sit on our hands, dear LORD; we must not dissipate your grace. Rather, let us readily preach your Gospel in all we think, do, and say. Then we will be pleasing in your sight, and all souls will be drawn into your presence.
O LORD, to your children you have granted complete knowledge of your ways and made them able to serve your kingdom. In the power of your Spirit let us go forth to see that all peoples are consecrated to you.
Let all souls sing a new song to your NAME; let all praise your goodness to us, LORD. From your work let us never turn away until we stand with you on your holy Day.
Wed, 4 November 2015
(Rm.14:7-12; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.15:1-10)
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Since “every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God,” who are we to “sit in judgment” or “look down on” a brother? Why are our eyes set upon others’ sins instead of the Lord’s glory? Why do we fall into this pit of condemnation?
Yes, Jesus welcomes sinners. For this has He come. How blessed are we that He makes such “a diligent search” to retrieve our souls from the grave of sin; how blessed are we when He finds us and puts us “on His shoulders in jubilation.” In this forgiveness should we glory. In this grace we should praise the Lord, and seek to help others come to such blessing. But do we blind ourselves to the grace at work in our souls by setting our sights on the sins of others rather than the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ? Are we as judgmental as the Pharisees and as those Paul warns today against condemnation of others?
Brothers and sisters, we should rather be with David in his psalm and seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” forever, and set our “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple”; we must not let our sights fall from heaven to earth and so lose ourselves in the judgment of others’ sin. This is the great danger. This is the devil’s temptation: “Look at him,” he says, “see how evil he is.” If he cannot get us to believe it about ourselves and so lose hope of redemption for our souls, he attempts to distract us with the sins of others, and so achieve the same ends. We must realize that “both in life and death we are the Lord’s,” that He loves us and desires our salvation, and that He loves and desires the salvation of all our neighbors. And so we must come to Him, take refuge in Him and in His love and forgiveness, and then we will “see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” and not die a miserable death.
Brothers and sisters, let each of us be that “repentant sinner” over whom the angels of God rejoice. The Lord welcomes us though we are sinners. Let us not forget His grace. And let us welcome others.
O LORD, let me be that one repentant sinner
you find and place upon your shoulders –
come to me even this day.
YHWH, it is your great joy to see the repentance of the sinner, and so your Son has come among us to invite us to such grace. And if we are your friends, will we not rejoice with you? If all of Heaven rejoices at the conversion of the poor lost sinner, we show ourselves not to be of you, not to be of Heaven, if instead we look down upon our brother. O save us from such a miserable fate!
We all must bend the knee before your Son; we all shall have to appear before your judgment seat and give an account of our lives. And is any of us without sin, except your Son’s dear Mother? Then we must know that to dwell in your House, to contemplate your face, we all require your blessed forgiveness, LORD, that without it we will be left standing outside your gates. And so, let us praise you for your goodness to us, and to others. Let all souls be found rejoicing in your kingdom.
Tue, 3 November 2015
O defender of the Catholic faith
in which all the saints
make their home,
O great pastor of souls,
shepherd of Christ’s flock,
who would see all enter fully
into the fold
only the saints know –
pray for the Lord’s Church this day,
that it shall never turn away
from the Truth
which is at its heart,
from the Son of God
who made it,
forming it in His own blood;
pray our souls be set
on prayer to Him,
our minds on meditation
on His life,
that nothing may distract us
from His holy presence
within the walls of Mother Church
and within our own hearts.
Tue, 3 November 2015
(Rm.13:8-10; Ps.112:1-2,4-5,9; Lk.14:25-33)
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Jesus tells us, “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions,” turning our backs even on father and mother, even on our very selves. Our psalm states of the happy man, “Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever.” And Paul makes clear that we “owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another. He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
What is this love? Where is this generous spirit? How do we renounce all our possessions? In the cross of Christ we find our call. The cross of Christ means giving all, means laying down our lives for the Lord and our neighbor – the cross of Christ is love itself at work in this world in the death of self and the finding of the grace and the love of God in heaven.
Jesus wishes that you be sure about this. He desires that you understand what is required of you – your very life, your absolute love. Nothing short of total sacrifice will do; we must be entirely whole, utterly holy, to enter His gates, to follow Him into glory. This is greater and more significant than any war, than any project conceived by the mind of man, for it is our eternal soul that is at stake, whose weight cannot compare to even all the world. “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” We all have a cross graciously placed upon our shoulders by our loving Lord to make us one with Him in His redemptive suffering and death, to make us one with Him in such utter love. How will we find heaven if we do not love? How do we come to that place which is only of love if we do not give ourselves to love completely?
“How can I do this?” you say. “The Lord asks too much.” You must remember that it is only love He asks of you, and that it is His cross you carry – He who is only of love – and so He carries your cross with you, making it ever so sweet and light. Do you think the saints feared to die in the name of Christ? Do you think they shrank back even in the face of torture? None of this has any significance to the soul who is set on Christ; and without Christ a hangnail can seem overwhelming.
Love, brothers and sisters. It is simple as that. Love. Not this world, but His heart, His sacrifice, His cross. And you will see all brought to life before you; and you will find joy in your soul.
O LORD, what a beautiful invitation to love
is Jesus’ call to carry our cross with Him!
for He is only love,
and what can we find but love if we follow Him –
and who will we then not truly love?
YHWH, teach us of your way of love, embodied so perfectly in your Son, that we might give ourselves as generously as He to all those we find in need. Help us to give up all things, to renounce our possessions, to turn our backs even on friends and family that we might truly love them and so teach them of your surpassing love.
O how sweet is the Cross your Son would impart to all His followers! What light it gives to the world. If with willing heart we lend to others, expecting nothing in return, how blessed are we to thus share in your love! Love is all that matters; it is the fulfillment of your Law, O LORD. And we find it in the Cross.
Jesus gives so lavishly to us poor souls, we who are so poor in spirit. Nothing have we to offer in return, dear God, but the sacrifice of our lives. May this poor offering be acceptable to you.
Mon, 2 November 2015
O humble and charitable soul
whose healing hands served the poor
and all those the Lord placed
in your care,
with great love you looked upon
Christ on the Cross
and in the Blessed Sacrament,
and so sought to love your neighbor
even as Jesus Himself –
pray we shall somehow learn
to put others before ourselves,
that in this way,
in the way of the Lord,
we will truly love and serve God,
knowing our sins outweigh
those of any other soul,
and yet that the mercy of our Savior
outweighs any human fault.
And so, pray we shall be humble as you,
as kind and as caring,
that we too will lay down our lives
in prayer and in penance,
in the blood and tears of Jesus.
Mon, 2 November 2015
(Rm.12:5-16; Ps.131:1-3; Lk.14:15-24)
“Come along, everything is ready now.”
Dinner is being served now in the kingdom of God. But are we prepared to sit down at table? Or do we turn our hearts to other things?
Jesus sets our place now in the kingdom of heaven. He has come. He has died. He has risen and sends now the Holy Spirit to invite us into His presence. And His presence is ever with us; He is ever knocking at the door of our hearts – His Spirit is always with us. But, again, do we hear His call, do we heed His call? Do we care to come into His presence and sup with Him, and receive His gracious gifts at His precious table, at His holy altar… or do we cling to what is evil, what is worldly?
How do we come to His kingdom? How do we find ourselves in His presence? Paul instructs us: we must simply do His will. Doing His will upon the face of this earth brings us to the kingdom of heaven. The teaching should be evident to all Christians: “One who is a teacher should use his gift for teaching… He who gives alms should do so generously… Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer…” Do all things as is meet for those things. It is not complex. There needs no genius to figure it out, or a scholastic degree to understand it. One need not travel miles to discover it. It is truth. It is Jesus. It is to suffer and die for Him as called by the Lord. “Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good.” What more can be said? Find peace in the arms of the Lord. Say with our psalmist, “I have still and quieted my soul… like a weaned child upon its mother’s lap.” We must do as he proclaims: “I busy not myself with great things, nor with things too sublime for me.” We must not complicate God’s simple love for us and our call simply to love Him with all He gives us. We must, rather, heed His voice, and come into His presence when He calls.
The table is set. His Word is speaking to us. In silence we will hear Him; in quiet we will find His voice. In the vain activity of this world we become deaf. Only by hearing and doing His Word and will, will we come to sit at His table and partake of His heavenly banquet – only if this is the true desire of our souls. Even now we taste Him in the Blessed Sacrament; even today we hear His Word proclaimed. Are we prepared to meet Him? Do we seek to do His holy will?
O LORD, all are invited your House –
let us find our place in the Body of Christ
and serve Him well.
YHWH, help us to do your will in all things, simply and purely, as your sons. What you give to us let us share with others, answering you readily when you call.
What need we do, dear God, but share the gifts you give us with others? What do you expect of us but to use well what you place in our hands? If we can teach, let us teach; if serve, let us serve. Whatever we have let us be generous in offering at the service of our brothers. Let us indeed love freely as you.
Then we will be ready to answer your Son’s call to the kingdom – we will already be answering it in our very actions. We will not be distracted from coming to you, LORD, if our only desire is to do your will in all things, if we are serving you with all our lives. Then your Bread will already be before us, and we shall come into your presence this day. O let your peace reign in our hearts!
Sun, 1 November 2015
(Wis.3:1-9; Ps.23:1-6; 1Cor.15:51-57; Jn.6:37-40
Note: there are any number of readings possible for this day)
“The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.”
Is this not what it means to be a Christian? To have faith in the resurrection from the dead. To believe that after our time of trial there shall be peace, that we shall be refined by the hand of God to stand in His presence, to share in His kingship. “Grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” This is our faith.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And so we have no fear. The Lord watches over us and guides our path, and in His blessing we take refuge, knowing we shall come to be with Him, knowing He is with us even this day, knowing even death we shall conquer in His Name. “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” Nothing shall remove us from His presence. “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.” Indeed, though all die, all shall come to life. None can remain as they are; all must be changed. All that is mortal must take on immortality, and in this immortality, in this incorruptibility we gain, death is swallowed up – it is no more. “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is an eternal victory.
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me.” It cannot be that the Father’s will not be done. Jesus awaits us with open arms. He has gone before us, He has prepared a place for us, and we must but come to Him as drawn by the will of the Father. “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise Him up on the last day.” Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Death is not our realm, brothers and sisters. Though it comes to us all, it is but a passageway into Heaven, it is but the Lord’s means of preparing us for the kingdom. And so, whether we experience it today or tomorrow or yesterday is of no consequence. It is there. It shall come to us all. But all who believe are preserved from its clutches and drawn into the life the Father offers. Let us pray this day for all holy souls to come by the Son into the hands of the Father.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, help us find victory over death in Jesus,
your Son, and so come to dwell with you forever.
YHWH, though we walk through the dark valley, we fear no evil – for you are at our side. Though death close its mouth upon us, we remain courageous, for your Son has given us victory over sin and death by His sacrifice on the Cross; and as we take refuge in Him, we are raised to dwell with you in eternal life. Let all souls be raised to your side with Him!
Where in this world can we turn where there is not sin, where there is not darkness, where there is not death? O LORD, it is so, that this world is clothed with corruption, with mortality. All is now doomed to die for the sin that besets Creation. But where does the grace of your Son not penetrate? To whom would He not bring new life? And what need we but faith in Him to find that life dwelling in us even this day?
Soon the end will come – the end of sin and the end of death. Let us not die with death, LORD, but find the victory you desire to impart to all souls through your Son. May your goodness and kindness follow us all our days and lead us to your eternal kingdom. May all who have died be at your side.
Sat, 31 October 2015
O God’s holy ones,
His apostles and martyrs,
His virgins and confessors,
all who have borne witness to Him
with your lives,
who have washed your robes
in His blood,
whose hands are clean
in His sight
and so are clothed in white,
all you who have suffered
under the Cross
in the flesh in this world
and so now stand in His light
in the Spirit
before His throne in Heaven…
O all holy ones of the Lord
from every age,
from every time and place;
from every nation you come,
speaking in every tongue
of His undying love –
please, pray for us, His pilgrim children!
Sat, 31 October 2015
(Rv.7:2-4,9-14; Ps.24:1-6; 1Jn.3:1-3; Mt.5:1-12)
“Everyone who has this hope based on Him
makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
All our readings speak of this purity this holy day. In the first reading we hear of the saints who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Our psalm tells us it is “one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” who stands in God’s presence. The above quote is from our second reading, and Jesus tells us in our gospel, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Indeed, this purity of heart is the essential characteristic possessed by all the saints in heaven; and so we must strive to achieve it.
I note a striking parallel particularly between our first reading from Revelation and David’s psalm: the reading begins with the image of the four angels (at the four corners of the universe) being prevented from their call “to damage the land and the sea” until the seal of God is placed upon the foreheads of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand [symbolizing absolute fullness in number] marked from every tribe of Israel”; and our psalm begins by proclaiming, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” The reading continues with John’s “vision of a great multitude” who “stood before the throne and the Lamb” in their white robes; while, as it continues, our psalm tells us that only the pure of heart “can ascend the mountain of the Lord” or “stand in His holy place.” Then the reading from Revelation cries out, “Salvation comes from our God” and exclaims of the blessings upon the Lord and so His faithful; and David’s psalm concludes that it is he who seeks Him who “shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior.”
What does all this tell us but what John states quite simply in his letter, our second reading: “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” and that when “what we shall be… is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Yes, we are anointed by Him as His own creation and shall come to stand in His presence with all the angels and saints, proclaiming the blessing He is and the salvation He has provided us.
And in our gospel Jesus climbs the mountain and sits and teaches those who gather around Him. And how blessed are these eyes that see Him! How blessed are these ears that hear Him! And how blessed are we, too, insofar as we hear Him this holy day as He calls to our hearts to have faith in Him and in the kingdom of heaven, to set our hearts on the hope of which He speaks. And blessed are we most when we suffer insult and persecution for the sake of the Lord, for by this we are purified, and through this “our reward will be great in heaven.” For we must die in Him before we rise in Him with all the saints in glory.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be made pure as you are pure,
as your saints have been made pure
in the blood of the Lamb.
YHWH, let us seek you with all our hearts, that we may find you and share in your glory with all the saints in Heaven. Help us to wash our robes clean, that they may be white, that we may be pure and so able to stand in your light. Make us your children, O LORD, blessed to dwell in your sight forever.
If we must be purified by persecution in this world, what should that matter to us, LORD; why should that cause us concern? We should rejoice in this blessing even as we rejoice in the blessing of Heaven, for does not one lead to the other – do we not find Heaven even here, even now, in our suffering with your Son? But give us your love, LORD, and all shall be cause for celebration for us.
O how we long to worship you in your kingdom, LORD! How we long to bow before your throne with all your angels and saints. How we long to sing your praise with them. Let it be so, LORD. Let it be so even this day in our souls.
Fri, 30 October 2015
(Rm.11:1-2,11-12,25-29; Ps.94:12-15,17-18; Lk.14:1,7-11)
“The Lord will not cast off His people,
nor abandon His inheritance.”
Today the gifts and call of the Israelites, which are “irrevocable,” are spoken of beautifully in our readings.
Indeed, the majority of Jews rejected and even persecuted Jesus and His followers. But as Paul tells us, the Lord has always and will always leave a remnant among them to maintain His covenant with them. As Paul reminds us, “I myself am an Israelite.” And of course so were all the apostles. God has not rejected His people, for “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” The promise He has made to bless the Israelites stands to this day.
Paul explains clearly the wisdom of God and how He works through the transgressions of the Jews to bring the Gentiles to salvation. And how the Gentiles’ conversion and the grace poured upon them shall lead the Israelite people back to the Lord: “Blindness has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in, and then all Israel will be saved.” Yes, all Israel will yet be saved; they shall yet come flowing to the mountain of God, to His Son, and find redemption, and find the honor bestowed upon them; and by their turning, how much all His holy people shall be blessed! “Judgment shall again be with justice, and all the upright of heart shall follow it.” Alleluia!
But there is another lesson for us today, and it, too, has to do with the quality needed by the chosen. Jesus speaks of it clearly in our gospel, and it illustrates the difficulty the Jews have in coming to the Lord, and warns us against the same mistake. Jesus comes to dinner “at the house of one of the leading Pharisees” and witnesses the guests scrambling for the best seats at table. Quietly He speaks to them, gently He reminds them, that they are not called to exaltation of their own position, gifted as it may or may not be, but to humility before all, as He has indeed shown us. How unlike our Lord, who though in the form of God humbled Himself to become human and even to die on a cross (without uttering a word), are they. And here is the teaching of Christ: “Sit in the lowest place.” The greater our call, the deeper should be our humility. This emptying ourselves as has Jesus is an indispensable virtue for any Christian. And only it will bring the Jew to realize the presence of Christ in his midst.
And should we who have been grafted to the kingdom’s tree late in time boast of our gift, walk with haughty eyes in His house? By no means, lest we be cast off by Him. Let us rather treasure the grace the Lord has granted us, preserve His call within us, and make our election permanent, beneath the shadow of His cross.
O LORD, we shall not enter your reign
until we are humble before you;
your Son is ever present
and so we must ever give place to Him.
YHWH, you do not abandon your people, Jew or Gentile believer, but serve in your wisdom to bring all to salvation, if they but humble themselves before you. For pride is the only thing that can condemn us, the only thing that can keep us from you and your merciful love; and so if you make your people to stumble, it is only for their good, only to see that they shall inherit your glory by their conformity to the humility of your only Son.
There is a greater than all of us present here at our feast. Should we not make room for Jesus, LORD? And if we do not, if we clamor to take our place above your Chosen One, if we look upon the gifts and graces that come to us only through Him and use them as excuse to exalt ourselves above others, will not such conceit, will not such blindness to the presence of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins keep us from sharing in His body and blood? O let us enter your gates by taking the lowest place with your chosen ones.
Thu, 29 October 2015
(Rm.9:1-5; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Lk.14:1-6)
“They could not answer.”
The Pharisees are dumb. The leaders of the Jewish nation cannot speak as to whether a man should be healed on the sabbath. How far they have fallen from the presence of God.
We know the Israelites were God’s chosen people. This is proclaimed clearly by both Paul and our psalmist today: “Theirs were the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the lawgiving, the worship, and the promises; theirs were the patriarchs, and from them came the Messiah”; yet when the Messiah, the Son, the fulfillment of all the gifts given them, stands before them… they are blind, they are dumb – they have no wisdom, no light. This is the nation whom the Lord has given “His statutes and His ordinances… He has not done thus for any other nation.” And yet they are unable to judge that it is right for a man to be healed at any time, that this is God’s will, that human life supersedes the mere observance of law, a law they have suffocated of its life.
And we? Again, being successors to the Jews we must always ask ourselves if we do the things which caused the promise to be taken from their hands. Do we proclaim the glory of this Word? Do we “speak the truth in Christ”? Or do we keep silent, too? And not the silence that bears all suffering as has our Savior upon the cross do I speak – I mean the death of the Word in our souls. The inability to discern His will. The fear to praise God by teaching the nations of the grace which has been granted us. “He sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His Word!” But does that Word come through us, does it work through us who are the keepers of the New Covenant, or do we let it die in our throats?
“Blessed forever be God who is over all!” Paul shouts as despair he begins to detect for the failure of so many Jews to turn to Christ. And so we should ever praise our God whenever doubt or fear enters our soul. It is our only refuge. It is our only strength. Silence before the courts of this world which observe us closely will not do. Acceptance of our death, yes, but not fear of retribution should be ours. We must speak the truth in love, relying on the wisdom which comes from Him alone as we make our way through the challenges of this world.
O LORD, why should our mouths be shut
in the presence of your glory?
YHWH, may your Word run swiftly to us and work swiftly through us. May we never hesitate to proclaim your praise, to declare your love for all in all our words and actions. May we think only the good and seek only your will. Let the dictates of the law never quash our souls.
How blessed were your chosen people, LORD! All things were given them at your gracious hands. True worship of you was theirs; but how far they have fallen from your love. Though all was made known to them by your Word, they forgot the blessing upon their nation and became blind to your will. O let their eyes be opened!
You desire only good for all, dearest LORD, and nothing that is for our neighbor’s good can contravene your law. The law you give to lead us to glory, and now that glory is in our midst in your only Son. Let us open our hearts to His teaching and live forever in your love.
Wed, 28 October 2015
(Rm.8:31-39; Ps.109:21-22,26-27,30-31; Lk.13:31-35)
“For your sake we are being slain all the day long.”
And yet, “in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us.”
We die. Each day we die, we sacrifice our lives. We are “as sheep to be slaughtered.” This is our call, to be as our Lord who was crucified – our King wears a crown of thorns. And yet in all this apparent weakness, in all those places where violence seems to reign, where death presumes dominion over us… it is void. It has no power. For God holds all the world in His creating hand, and He watches over us. So, indeed, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” If God fights for us, how shall we be conquered? We shall not, we cannot. “Christ Jesus, who died or rather was raised up… intercedes for us.” And so the death He suffered, which led only to life, becomes our own, and only life is ours in Him.
The Lord would gather all His “children together, as a mother bird collects her young under her wing,” but so many refuse. So many are disobedient. So many desire not the love of God. And so, death comes. Because of our sin, Jesus must suffer, Jesus must die. And we must die with Him if we are to follow Him through this world of darkness and sin into the kingdom of light. For the emptiness of the power of this world must be exposed. It must be shown for the nothingness it is. And only by dying does this become clear to our minds.
And so, Jesus does not shy away from death; He does not save Himself from its clutches. Freely He offers Himself for our sakes, that we might overcome the fear it produces in our fallen souls, that we might then be raised from darkness to light. The prayer of David is the prayer of Christ, standing in our stead, “I am wretched and poor, and my heart is pierced within me.” The sword, which has no power over Him, nor over us now, He accepts in His side that new life might flow out from His broken flesh. The suffering which should be our own He takes and nails to the cross. And it is dead. And the power of Satan is nullified. And in His “generous kindness” the Lord has rescued us. And so as we suffer now with Him all the temptations of this earthly life, our heavenly king is by our side breathing upon us new life. Let us have no fear for any presumed power of this universe; the Lord is greater than them all.
O LORD, you will save us
from all trial and persecution –
YHWH, by the love of Christ we have been saved, and nothing can separate us from that love. Though Satan persecute us, though the kings of this earth seek to destroy us, yet we shall live in your only Son who, though He died, was raised up and sits now at your right hand interceding for us this day. And so, what need we fear?
To His death Jesus went, freely and without fear. In Jerusalem He was slain like all of the prophets. Yes, the walls of Jerusalem were torn down and the temple abandoned. But in His resurrection the true Temple is rebuilt, and to the holy City we are now drawn. Blessed is he who comes in the Name of your Son! Blessed are you, dear God, who desire so earnestly to justify our poor, broken souls.
And so, now that Jesus has died for our sakes, we shall not be condemned. We shall conquer all sword and danger in His love. Praise you for your kindness, LORD! You have heard our cries.
Tue, 27 October 2015
(Eph.2:19-22; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.6:12-16)
“You are fellow citizens with the saints
and members of the household of God.”
And whom is this building founded upon but our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the cornerstone by which the apostles and prophets are set in place, and we are built upon this firm foundation, all integrated as one “holy temple in the Lord.” This Church is “the dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” Alleluia!
Oh that blessed night Jesus spent “in communion with God”! Praise God for the mountain on which He prayed! For that night, in that place, in these prayers was conceived the foundation stones of His holy temple: in the Spirit that night the essential structure of the Church was given birth in the names of these poor apostles, these simple human beings.
And at daybreak He called them forth by name. Upon them His favor rested. And though one “turned traitor” and had to be replaced, yet here are the pillars on which the Church rests. And to this day their descendants, their blessed successors remain with us, holding up the Church despite their frailties – yes, the power of the Spirit continues to go forth from their call. “Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.” Nothing can stem the passage of this Word to the ends of the earth, for it is founded in the silent communion with God.
Who can touch this silence? Who can tear down this oneness in the presence of God? No one can hold the wind in his hands and no one can restrain the power of the Spirit. It indeed goes forth. Yes, “the whole structure” continues to be “fitted together” in the Lord’s Name, and no persecution can stop its growth, can prevent its inevitable coming to fullness in the eternity of heaven. And so, let us thank God for His blessed apostles and prophets and martyrs today. Let us pray we shall be found worthy to be one with them in the House they build. And let us come to know the Lord even more, who is at the heart of us all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may we be built into your House
with all your holy apostles.
YHWH, let us become your dwelling place; let us make our home in your Spirit as you make your home in us. Let us be firmly founded in your apostles with Jesus as our cornerstone. Then through us, too, your Word will go out to the ends of the earth. Then we will be one with your apostles.
Into your household let us be built, O LORD, with all your saints in Heaven. Let Heaven and earth declare your glory – truly let us be your handiwork. As your Son chose the Twelve by your hand upon Him, so let us be chosen and formed in their image to serve you faithfully in this land, to make this land as your kingdom.
Let our words not be spoken in vain, LORD, our prayers not fall short of your glory; let us rather speak only in the Spirit that your light we might bring to this place. Though our cause seem hopeless, though darkness beset us, yet let us look to you and find refuge in the prayers of your apostles, of all the holy ones in your Temple.
Tue, 27 October 2015
O zealous and loving apostles,
to the ends of the earth
you brought the Word of the Lord;
calling sinners to repentance,
seeking healing for all souls,
you carried the light of Christ
to all the world –
pray we shall match your zeal
for the Gospel;
pray we serve to impart
the mercy of God
unto life everlasting
for all children of the Lord.
May the power and glory
in the name of Jesus Christ
build up His Temple
in forgiveness and love
that soon all will be one
with Him and with you in Heaven.
Mon, 26 October 2015
(Rm.8:18-25; Ps.126:1-6; Lk.13:18-21)
“Hoping for what we cannot see
means awaiting it with patient endurance.”
We cannot see the coming of the kingdom of heaven. It comes so gradually; it rises imperceptibly, “like yeast which a woman took to knead into three measures of flour.” It grows like the tiny mustard seed, which “became a large shrub and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” A most fruitful reign is the reign of God, and well worth the wait. As Paul says, “I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” But wait we must. In hope we take our refuge. And as we hope, indeed we suffer, for “we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.” With the rest of creation we groan “in agony” for the futility to which the physical universe has been subject. Yet hope have we, and it is this which gives us a sense of joy even as we wait so patiently.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Our psalm gives us a picture of the joy that awaits us in the redemption of the just in the kingdom of God as it describes the happiness of the exiles’ return from Babylon: “We were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.” The knowledge of the Lord’s hand at work in the lives of these Israelites can only increase our hope, can only stir our faith that we too shall sing, “The Lord has done great things for us,” that we too shall “come back rejoicing” after this time of trial which is our stay here on this earth. And the fact that we have the Spirit now as the first payment against the day of judgment and against the power of Satan in this dark world causes a sense of joy already in our bones, gives us even now a foretaste of the kingdom to come, and which comes to us indeed each day in every breath we breathe in His presence, and particularly in the food He leaves us to consume at the altar of His holy sacrifice.
Yes, we have His Word at work in us even now, brothers and sisters. Even as we speak (even as I write), the seed does grow into a tree, the yeast does cause the dough to rise. Though it take time and we hope most for its fulfillment, yet it is with us even now in this blessed growth we experience in the sight of our God, in the blood of our Lord. Our hope is not in vain, and the tears we shed now certainly nourish the growth of the kingdom within us and all around us. Even in these does our hope find fulfillment. Even in these tears do we taste surpassing joy.
O LORD, let us hope in you always;
your kingdom is rising in our midst.
YHWH, in patience let us await the coming of your kingdom, for it shall surely come and is even now here within us. When it shall be revealed to our eyes, our hope will be fulfilled and all our groanings answered. We shall indeed rejoice in your presence on that holy day.
Your Spirit is now planted in us as a seed of the kingdom, and though we go forth in tears doing your work in this dark world, we ever have the Spirit’s reassurance – the hope He engenders makes any sufferings seem as nothing. For your glory, O God, shall soon be revealed in its fullness; it shall soon come to full growth and we will take rest in its branches. O let us rise unto you!
And so, with patient endurance let us wait, O LORD, for the dawn upon the horizon, for on the new day all Creation shall sing your praise, all its sorrow forgotten.
Sun, 25 October 2015
(Rm.8:12-17; Ps.68:2,4,6-7,20-21; Lk.13:10-17)
“All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
It is the Spirit of God that led the poor stooped woman in our gospel today to the synagogue to see and hear the teaching of Jesus the Lord, and to find a healing for her infirmity. “This daughter of Abraham… in the bondage of Satan for eighteen years” was by the Lord “released from her shackles” and became a daughter also of the Most High God. She is a sign of us all. For all, whether sons of Abraham by the flesh or not, are called into the presence of God to find healing for the sin and sadness and oppression of the devil which trouble us. On our own we cannot stand straight in the sight of God, but by the touch of Jesus we find our dignity and become sons of God with Him.
God is “the father of orphans and the defender of widows”; He “gives a home to the forsaken.” And so we who were once under the “spirit of slavery” to sin may now find “a spirit of adoption through which we cry out, ‘Abba!’ (that is, ‘Father’).” Once having no father to watch over us, now “the Spirit Himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” A greater blessing one could not find than to be a son or daughter of the Most High God. For “God is a saving God for us.” Not only does He love us, but He shows that love even by dying for us, that we might live.
And it is so that “if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ.” And though it is by the death of Jesus that we are made heirs of the Father’s glory, we only come into full possession of the riches of our glorious Lord by our own death, for we must “suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him.” It is this death of ours, a death to self, to flesh, to sin and the world, that brings us the life of Him “who controls the passageways of death” and so is able to free us from all death.
Day by day the Lord “bears our burdens.” On all days, eternally, He is our Father and our Savior, waiting to heal us. Whenever we come to Him, we shall find Him ready to bless us. His Spirit He sends upon all, like a sun that never sets, calling us to His presence. We must but respond in humility and faith, and as we bow ourselves before Him, He will raise us up to the dignity He desires for all our lives. And we shall be His sons.
O LORD, your Son bears our burdens for us –
He releases us from bondage to the flesh
that we might live with Him in the Holy Spirit.
YHWH, orphans and widows we have been, far from you we were separated from the beginning, cast off like a forsaken wife. And we could not find our way back to you by the flesh, try as we might by following the line of our ancestors – this but brought us back repeatedly to their weakness, to their separation from your grace, from the light of your holy face.
But your Son you sent to show us the way to you. In Him we find the blood that must course through our veins; wed unto His flesh we are redeemed…. It is He who puts to death the evil deeds of the body and makes us sons once again of you – now His Spirit is upon us to call out your NAME, dear Father.
O let us be your children! wherever we are from; whether children of Abraham or of foreign lands, let us all be blessed this holy day to know the healing touch of your Son and so inherit your kingdom. O LORD, of your love let us not be afraid.
Sat, 24 October 2015
(Jer.31:7-9; Ps.126:1-6; Heb.5:1-6; Mk.10:46-52)
“They departed in tears,
but I will console them and guide them.”
Through Jeremiah the Lord prophesies that His people Israel “shall return as an immense throng,” that He will “gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst.” And in our gospel we see Jesus “leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd,” picking up the blind Bartimaeus along the way. How the Lord fulfills the ancient prophecies. And now Jesus stands as our high priest in heaven, “offer[ing] gifts and sacrifices for sins,” bringing all by His cross to the kingdom of God.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Brothers and sisters, we are all like the blind Bartimaeus, sitting “by the roadside begging,” calling out to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance, saying to Him as He calls us before Himself, “Master, I want to see.” How blind we all are, how deaf and how lame. How we need our vision renewed by the Lord of all, that indeed we might see as He sees, with a purity beyond the scope of our race, to penetrate the mysteries which shroud us like the blind man’s cloak in this life. We must throw off the darkness, cast aside the shroud of death that weighs upon our shoulders by our sins and take upon ourselves the cross of Christ and walk with Him “on the way,” on the road to the New Jerusalem. How shall we know the “brooks of water” which satiate our thirst, “the torrents in the southern desert” that cleanse our arid souls and bring them to life once more, except by the tears we cry, except with hearts reaching out and voices reaching up to Him who is so far above our ways? In His way alone we will find the “level road” on which “none shall stumble.” Only by this cry will we know the graces our high priest offers all our lives.
“Although [we] go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, [we] shall come back rejoicing, carrying [our] sheaves.” For the Lord shall not forget us; He will not pass us by and leave us in our tears alone. But through our tears we shall see His holy light descend like a dove of peace upon our souls. Yes, we shall see; our eyes will be opened and our path will be set. And He shall guide us every step of our way. And “our mouth [will be] filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing” on that holy Day. Praise our merciful God!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us follow Jesus on the way to the Cross
that we might follow Him to Heaven.
YHWH, in Jesus your Son we are returned to sonship with you; we who had been exiled because of our sins are brought back to your presence, and as a Father you embrace us and open our eyes to see your glory.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD. In tears we come before you, to your Son we cry out for mercy, and He cannot but hear and answer our call, He cannot but call us before Himself and grant the desire of our heart. O let us have the faith needed to believe in Him and so find the blessing only He holds.
Jesus, you are our high priest, you are Son of David and Son of God. Let us run to you for healing of our blindness and lameness that we might see you and follow you along the way to the New Jerusalem. In the peace of the Father let us rest, in the joy of our salvation.
With all your saints let us enter your gates, O Father in Heaven, by the grace that comes to us in your only Son.
Fri, 23 October 2015
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.
Fri, 23 October 2015
(Rm.8:1-11; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.13:1-9)
“You will all come to the same end unless you reform.”
We hear again today in our readings of the distinction between those who are of the flesh, and so of sin, and those who are of the spirit and justice. And since “the tendency of the flesh is toward death but that of the spirit toward life and peace,” rightly does Jesus warn us that we will die in our sin if we do not repent and turn to Him. For indeed He and the Father, with the Spirit, are of life and have nothing to do with death, with sin.
Paul continues to make clear the difference, the separation, between those of flesh and those of spirit, and continues to encourage his reader to allow the body to die that the spirit might live: “If Christ is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, while the spirit lives because of justice.” It is in Jesus that our salvation from sin has come, for when “God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, thereby condemning sin in the flesh,” He made it possible for us to live no longer “according to the flesh,” but “according to the spirit,” for we know that “He who raised Christ from the dead will bring [our] mortal bodies to life also through His Spirit.” Even now His Spirit brings our spirit to life, and on the last day our flesh shall also be joined to Him in heaven.
David’s psalm questions, “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who can stand in His holy place?” Only those “whose hands are sinless… shall receive a blessing from the Lord,” and so, again, we must turn to Him, we must be of “the race that seeks for Him.” “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it” are of Him. But how our hearts have turned from Him in sin, and so, how shaken we have become, inviting death into our lives. And so only those who renounce their sin, who come by the power of the Spirit and the grace of Jesus’ blood, shall attain to His presence. And only those who bear fruit in His Name will He preserve.
The end of our gospel makes clear that there must be fruit in our lives, brothers and sisters. This is indeed the sign that we are of the spirit – if we “bear fruit” in the Spirit. We cannot claim to be of the spirit and bear the fruit of the flesh, which is sin. Jesus will not fail to recognize the difference, however much we may fool ourselves or others. We will die in the flesh like any sinner if we do not live according to Christ and His Word.
O LORD, let us be dead to the flesh
that we might bear fruit in the Spirit of Christ!
YHWH, let your Spirit dwell in us that we might conquer the flesh and bear fruit in your holy NAME. How shall we be holy as you are holy, how shall we stand in your holy place, if your Spirit is not with us? Fulfill our desire to see your face!
Your Son came and walked amongst us for three years, seeking fruit upon this fig tree. Upon His death and resurrection He sent the Spirit forth to nourish the Church that we might perform works worthy of Heaven. O LORD, help us to repent of our sin and reform our lives in the image of your Son.
Jesus has indeed condemned sin in the flesh that what is mortal might be redeemed and come to life in the Spirit, that we might be free from the law of sin and death by which all creatures are justly condemned and come to dwell in the peace of your presence. LORD God, may the Spirit of Christ make us worthy to stand in your sight.
Thu, 22 October 2015
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.
Thu, 22 October 2015
(Rm.7:18-25; Ps.119:66,68,76-77,93,94; Lk.12:54-59)
“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is just?”
Do we not have the law of God at work in us now? Must we yet subject ourselves to the judge of this earth, who cannot but condemn us for our sin? If we cried out with our psalmist for the Lord to teach us His “commands,” His “statutes,” His “law,” and His “precepts,” His “promise” of “compassion” would be with us, His Spirit would come to us and instruct us on all matters. No longer “the prisoner of the law of sin in [our] members,” we would be freed “from this body under the power of death.” Not only would our “inner self agree with the law of God,” but our actions would reflect, by the grace of Him who is at work within us, that law now written on our hearts. The “wisdom and knowledge” the Lord thereby imparts would be sufficient for the resolution of any problem in our lives, for there is nothing beyond the scope of the Spirit.
Both Paul and Jesus Himself encourage us to find the Spirit of Christ at work in our hearts. We as a community of believers would have no need to turn to the works of the world to resolve our problems if we followed well the teaching of the Lord and His Church. Should not the Church be our government? Should not the teaching of God, which transcends all earthly wisdom, be sufficient for our discerning right and wrong in any situation? Or is sin still at work in our members? Are we yet subject to this law and the condemnation and death it brings? Has the devil yet a hold upon us; does he yet cast us into darkness? Are we therefore too blind to see right from wrong?
Brothers and sisters, we must cast from our souls all vestige of sin; it cannot hold power over us any longer. We must find the light of Christ in our eyes and so be made able to judge all things in His justice. With our psalmist we must proclaim to the Lord, “Your law is my delight.” If we yet take refuge in the law of sin, it will bring but judgment upon our lives. But if we turn to Him, true wisdom will be ours – and His compassion will save us.
All teaching the Lord puts into the hands of His apostles. Our Pope and bishops and priests continue, as His servants, to proclaim His truth and impart His grace. The Church is the home Jesus leaves us; upon it He places His Spirit. Let us follow the teachings of the Lord and find His power at work in our lives, and all things will be clear to our eyes. And so, condemnation we shall avoid as by the grace of God we judge all things rightly.
O LORD, Jesus has indeed set us free by His power –
let us turn to Him for wisdom.
YHWH, keep us from being imprisoned by sin; only you and your Son have the power to release us from such bondage. Help us to follow your precepts, help us to walk in His way, that we might find your kindness upon our souls and live in freedom this day.
Why is it we are so blind? Why so trapped in the flesh? Our eyes do not look upon the things of the Spirit except with great difficulty, except by the grace that comes to us through your only Son. O LORD, let our eyes be opened to see Him standing before us, and let us follow your Law by His power.
Here we find a war at work within us. Without you we have not the wisdom and knowledge to judge well the path to victory over sin. O LORD, let us not be delivered up to the jailer, for we are not able to pay the price of our transgressions. Let your compassion be upon us that we might live and do what is right.
Wed, 21 October 2015
(Rm.6:19-23; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.12:49-53)
“The Lord watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.”
The division is clear. The Lord Himself has stated, “I have come for division.” Far from establishing “peace on the earth,” His message makes clear the distinction between the evil and the good, the wicked and the just, drawn so well in our psalm today. He has “come to light a fire on the earth.” It shall purify the just for the kingdom of God even as it burns up all the wicked.
Paul also makes clear the division between the evil and the good, between that which is of God and that which is of sin. “Formerly you enslaved your bodies to impurity and licentiousness for their degradation… But now that you are freed from sin and have become slaves of God, your benefit is sanctification as you tend toward eternal life.” The distinction is certain: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Indeed, the just “is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade,” but the wicked “are like chaff which the wind drives away.” This division is what the Lord’s light and fire reveal; and this revelation is eternal.
It is painful, brothers and sisters. It is painful to undergo our own transformation to justice and light from the depths of depravity into which we have fallen, and will be painful to witness others destroyed by the hardness of their hearts. The Lord Himself expresses this pain when He says, “What anguish I feel till it is over!” He takes no pleasure in bringing the agony of division, which begins with His own agony in the garden and ends with His crucifixion. He suffers most to witness the sins of the masses so acutely. They wag their heads at Him even as He cries from the cross. What is to be done? Division must come. For the kingdom must come, the resurrection must take place, and sin cannot stand in its light – and so those who attach themselves to sin, to the works of the father of lies, will not stand in that day either. And even now the judgment comes, even now we must take sides – even now we choose death, or life.
O LORD, set us free from our sin –
burn away all evil.
YHWH, the sword of the Spirit your Son brings separates the wicked from the just – it is a fire purging all evil from the earth, destroying those who give themselves over to impurity and licentiousness, yet lighting your servants’ way to Heaven. He who walks in accord with that light, placing nothing before its demands to holiness, shall enter your presence even as the insolent are consumed.
What can we do, O LORD. to save souls from death? It shall come inevitably to all slaves of sin. We can but hope to make ourselves pure, seeking ever eternal life, and pray that men will turn to you. All is in your hands; let us be sanctified by your touch.
Who has not sinned? Who has not degraded the dignity you instilled in our souls? Yet you would make us fruitful in the Spirit, O God, if we but set our hearts on your Word.
Tue, 20 October 2015
(Rm.6:12-18; Ps.124:1-8; Lk.12:39-48)
“Offer yourselves to God
as men who have come back from the dead to life.”
If we have come back from the dead to life, should we then offer ourselves up to death again? As Paul questions, “Are we free to sin?” How absurd a thought! If we are sinners, let us give ourselves freely to sin, and find the condemnation which comes from this. But if we are men of justice, let us give ourselves to “obedience” of the teaching imparted to us, and find life firmly in our souls.
Jesus states quite clearly, “When much has been given a man, much will be required of him.” Brothers and sisters, much has been given us simply by our release from the sin which once enslaved us. Indeed, “we were rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare,” as David’s psalm proclaims. The “raging waters” that “would have overwhelmed us,” the “torrent [that] would have swept over us,” has been calmed… For this alone we have much to be thankful; simply by this grace much has been entrusted to us. And what follows only adds to this initial blessing; for each day our souls are required of us, each day He puts in our hands and calls us to the work set aside for our souls to complete. Each day the gift of grace is increased within us. So should we then begin “to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and drink and get drunk”? Should we then return to the slavery of sin which blinds our eyes to His eternal presence? Certainly not. Rather, we should “be on guard” at all times, vigilantly prepared for our master’s return, employing the gifts He imparts to us each passing day.
We are no longer dead, brothers and sisters. We have the grace of our God at work within us, lighting our eyes and filling our souls with His holy food. We must now be holy as He. It is not for us to return to the death of sin, to subject ourselves to its chains once again, to have our eyes darkened and our souls destroyed. The grace, the light within us, must be diligently preserved. We must come to Him, come to His stewards to whom the most has been entrusted, who hold in their power sacramental grace, and confess our sins in His presence, and come and eat of His Body and Blood. Let us avail ourselves of these gifts these successors of the apostles hold and thus find the strength to give our own “bodies to God as weapons for justice” and not for sin.
O LORD, let us give you all that we have,
all that we are;
then there will be nothing left to give.
YHWH, you have saved us from the raging waters, from the torrent that would have overwhelmed our souls – and should we cast ourselves back into the sea? Should we once again give ourselves to sin? No! We must give ourselves as slaves of your justice and serve you all our days, never turning from the grace at work within us, never again obeying the flesh and its lusts.
For soon your Son shall return for us, O LORD – and should He find us in a drunken state? Should He find us with violence in our hands and lust in our heart? If so, then we would prove ourselves unworthy of trust; and what would we be then but beaten for our lack of love?
You yourself are present now in our very spirits, LORD. Let us treasure this grace upon us and work out our salvation, never giving ourselves again to the teeth of the beast.
Mon, 19 October 2015
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.
Mon, 19 October 2015
(Rm.5:12,15,17-21; Ps.40:7-10,17; Lk.12:35-38)
“To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
“May those who love your salvation say ever, ‘The Lord be glorified.’” May we who love the Lord “exult and be glad” in Him. May we who take refuge in His grace sing aloud His praise. What greater gift could we have than Jesus Christ, whose “single righteous act brought all men acquittal and life. For truly we were dead in our sin,” truly the offense of Adam had infected our souls, truly through this “one man’s disobedience all became sinners” – but more truly “through one man’s obedience all shall become just,” for “His grace has far surpassed” the increase of sin. And so, what should we do but rejoice with David at the truth of Paul’s instruction.
And what should we do but be ready, truly ready, really waiting, patiently, for the return of our Lord. “Be like men awaiting their master’s return from a wedding.” Set your hearts on His coming again, “so that when He knocks, you will open without delay.” This is yet the greater blessing for us servants, that even in these dark days upon this earth, we stand ready for His return. Here is His grace at work within us, that our hearts are set on Him, that His presence, the coming of His kingdom, we know even now in anticipation of its arrival. No greater blessing could we hope for than to be “those servants whom the master finds wide-awake on His return.” By this we know we have conquered sin; by this we see that we have overcome the darkness which surrounds us – if whether “at midnight or before sunrise” we are found prepared, if even in the darkest times we hold His light, if our eyes are like “lamps… burning ready” and our “belts… fastened around [our] waists”… we have all that we need in this world.
Be ready, my brothers and sisters, for the joy is coming; it will not delay. That happiness of life in His presence we sense even now, we taste even this day in our mouths, will come soon to fulfillment in the reign of our God. And so, “those who receive the overflowing grace and gift of justice [will] live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ,” for whom we await, in whom we take our refuge, whose name we praise, His saving word etched upon our souls and bleeding in our hearts. In all we do we wait for His coming. He alone is our desire, and we shall not be disappointed.
O LORD, let us be always ready to serve you;
let your grace reign in us
and we shall come to do your will.
YHWH, grace has come to us by the sacrifice of your Son and cleansed us of the disobedience of Adam. We are thus set free from sin and placed on the path to eternal life. And so, what should we do now but wait for Jesus’ return, when that grace shall be fulfilled and we shall come to dwell with Him in Heaven?
Truly has Jesus been obedient to your command. Truly has He achieved the conquering of death and the end of its reign for every man. Truly has His death brought us acquittal and life. And truly will He return, O LORD, to reward all His faithful servants; truly will He Himself be their food.
O let us be ready for His coming! Let our lamps be burning ever and our hearts prepared always to open when He knocks. Let us offer ourselves with Him as His Body, dear LORD, that to us quickly salvation shall come even in the dark night of this world.
Sun, 18 October 2015
O heroic witnesses
to the faith,
O loyal followers of Jesus
who took up the cup
of torture and death
with desire only to join your Lord,
with delight and joy
at the deadly blows…
your offering of body and blood
because it was one
with Christ’s own,
done with love for those
who killed you –
pray we shall so completely
embrace our call,
embrace the cross
provided us by the Lord,
that with your same thirst for truth
we shall lay down our lives for our brothers.
Direct download: Oct._19_Isaac_Jogues_John_de_Brebeuf_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EST
Sun, 18 October 2015
(Rm.4:20-25; Lk.1:68-75; Lk.12:13-21)
“We should serve Him devoutly
and through all our days be holy in His sight.”
For “this very night your life shall be required of you.” Always and forever our faith is required of us, if we are to draw breath. Always and forever the Lord asks us what fruit we have produced. Always and forever we must be careful not to toil in vain, but to live according to His Word, believing in His promise. Else our lives will indeed be empty vessels.
Holiness befits His house. Adherence to His covenant is our call. Faith in the One who is “saving strength for us” is our necessity. We must indeed be as our father Abraham, who was “fully persuaded that God could do whatever He had promised,” whose “faith was credited to him as justice.” And if we have the same faith as Abraham, we will find the same justice, the same reward as he. “For our faith will be credited to us also if we believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Jesus “was handed over to death for our sins and raised up for our justification” and only faith in Him as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham will give us life.
Why do we turn to the things of this world and in them seek our fulfillment, and in them seek our rest, when they are so vain and when all the while Jesus calls to our souls to come to Him? Why is it we think that in the goods of this world we can find refuge, we can find strength? Why are we so blinded to believe that in them we can find our peace? “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.” Here is the fruitless mantra of this materialistic world. Here is the epitome of our blindness to His will. Here is the belly seeking to take the place of the spirit.
Can we not see that it is only the spirit that gives life, that the flesh is of no avail, that the riches of this earth serve more as a distraction to finding the life and the peace we seek in the depths of our souls than to bringing a fulfillment of this most human of desires? This desire cannot be satisfied except in Christ. We must not be as “the man who grows rich for himself instead of growing rich in the sight of God,” or when these passing riches rot away or are taken from us, we will be left terribly empty. Rather, we should “avoid greed in all its forms” and dedicate ourselves to service of the Lord. Only in Him is life and peace made known, and only by holiness do we come there. At all times the Lord is calling to our soul; let us answer Him in faith.
O LORD, Jesus has died and been raised
for our salvation –
may we believe in Him and grow rich in your sight.
YHWH, let us not grow rich to ourselves, setting our hearts on the wealth of this passing world, but rather grow rich in your sight, in your gifts and graces. Let us have faith, first of all; this blessing let us most treasure.
You have sent your Son as Savior for us – what more could we ask of you? Here is the fulfillment of all our desires. And if we put our faith in Him who has died for our sins and been raised for our justification, if we serve Him devoutly all our days, it will indeed be credited to us as righteousness and great reward will be ours in Heaven. O LORD, let us know your mercy upon our souls!
Only in you our life is found, dearest LORD and God. Our every breath is in your hands and when we come to the end of our days, what hope shall we have but that you breathe into us new life? And so, let us store up wealth for you alone, the wealth of a faithful heart.
Sat, 17 October 2015
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.
Sat, 17 October 2015
(Is.53:10-11; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; Heb.4:14-16; Mk.10:35-45)
“We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God.”
And this is He who is both priest and victim, for “He gives His life as an offering for sin” – He Himself is our sacrifice. Here is one who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses… one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Here is He who has suffered the affliction of our fallen state but to raise us up with Himself from the mire, from the lowly condition we have come to know as our own. Here is He who “give[s] His life as a ransom for many.”
But why? Why is the Lord “pleased to crush Him in His infirmity”? Why is our high priest so humbled in the sight of all? Why is there such suffering in the world…? Why need you ask? Why need you question the will of God? Do you not believe that “upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy”? Do you not realize that the Lord looks with kindness upon all “those who fear Him… to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine”? Do you trust your own eyes more than the vision of God?
But if you must know, the Lord God tells you, “Through His suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt He shall bear.” If you must inquire, hear that it is for your sin there is suffering in the world and the Lord and His followers must carry the cross. You need look no further than the blood on your hands… But seeing this, do not fear – rejoice. Rejoice, for now we may “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Now the Savior does “lord it over” us by His sacrifice. Now this “slave of all” has “authority over [us]” by the suffering He has undergone. And now we must join Him on this cross.
“The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” – His words to James and John are spoken to us all. Glorious is the sacrifice to which we are called. For He who is both priest and victim would now lift us with Himself through the veil of pain to the holy heavens, that knowing the fruit of “His affliction,” with Him all might “see the light in fullness of days.”
“Our soul waits for the Lord”; it suffers with Him. And it is not disappointed by the sacrifice it shares.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (2nd half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, He who is slave of all,
He who has shed His blood to save our souls –
with Him let us be one.
YHWH, your Son has given His life as a ransom for sin, that we might approach the throne of grace and find mercy, and find the blessing of your kindness upon our souls. He has borne our guilt, and so from it we are freed. But we must bear the Cross with Him if we are to find our way to Heaven.
This is the greatest grace, is it not, O LORD – that we are called to share in the suffering of your Son, to drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism? We are called to serve as He has served, to give our lives with Him, and so to come to the place He has come, to your right hand in the kingdom. O if we could only be as slaves of all!
By His death He has ransomed many. Sharing in our weakness, suffering for our sakes – bearing His affliction, He shall see the light in fullness of days. And we poor souls who trust in Him find our hope fulfilled, dear LORD, in that same light of your face.
Fri, 16 October 2015
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.
Fri, 16 October 2015
(Rm.4:13,16-18; Ps.105:6-9,42-43; Lk.12:8-12)
“All depends on faith, everything is a grace.”
Faith is our father; it brings us to life for it makes us children of “the God who restores the dead to life and calls into being those things which had not been.” By faith we entrust ourselves into God’s hands and become as Abraham, who is “our father in the sight of God in whom he believed.” “Hoping against hope, Abraham believed and so became the father of many nations,” and insofar as we believe, we become his children before God. Indeed, it is through faith alone that we are born into His kingdom.
And having faith, we must acknowledge its presence in our lives by witnessing to the Son of God. If we are His disciples, as we must be, we will not hide His grace working in us but allow it to bear fruit in the profession of that faith before the world. And so, as we “come before synagogues, rulers, and authorities,” as we stand before the face of this generation, as we do anything in this world, we must “not worry about how to defend [ourselves] or what to say.” Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.” And so by this trusting in Him we prove ourselves children of faith.
This is the manner in which I produce this writing. Trusting in Him as entirely as my faith allows, I am not concerned beforehand what I shall speak, what I shall write upon this page. In the measure that I am a child of grace, I prove it by my allowing Him to speak through me at this moment and in His way. This is what we must strive to do with all our work, in all our lives. All our lives are founded upon this faith, and the Lord calls us in an ever greater way to express that faith, to live that faith, by consecrating all we think and do to His will and desire. It is for us to but come into His presence, to remember He is here with us, and so to find His grace at work in our lives.
We must be prepared and be preparing ourselves always to stand before Him forever. As we place ourselves in His presence now, it is so that we die to ourselves and begin to live by His grace. More and more we must trust in that faith which joins us to Him and makes us children of the promise which “holds true for all Abraham’s descendants… for all who have his faith.” Faith alone will bring us to life, for faith alone brings us into the presence of Him who is life. Enter His grace, brothers and sisters, and find it working in your life.
O LORD, if we believe in you,
you will be with us.
YHWH, you restore the dead to life and call into being those things which had not been. And so, should we not put our faith in you? And so, should we not proclaim your glory before men? With a God such as you, what need we fear? O let us live in faith and so be blessed!
All indeed depends on faith, O LORD; it is our very life breath. Everything is a grace from you who bring all things into being, and we must acknowledge that grace at work in our lives in order to join ourselves to you and that grace, and so find life itself. Separated from you we shall but die, but as children of Abraham, as children of faith who believe in you and in your Son, we shall live forever.
You are faithful and true to your Covenant with your chosen ones. Let us trust in you, LORD, and in your Spirit’s movement in our lives.
Thu, 15 October 2015
O apostle of Christ’s Sacred Heart,
in mystic wonder you beheld Him
and let Him wash you clean
in the streams that flow
from His Heart divine –
pray indeed we shall unite ourselves
to Jesus and His love,
that we shall submerge
our needs and sorrows
in the abyss of His mercy
and seek perfection
in union with His Sacred Heart.
There let us find salvation,
reparation for all our sins;
there let us find heavenly joy,
the peace that surpasses understanding.
With you let us enter His presence,
let us be bathed in His light,
ever progressing toward His kingdom
till we are devoted entirely
to advancing His eternal glory.
Pray His will and His way be known in us
as we entrust ourselves to His love.
Thu, 15 October 2015
O mother of the unfortunate
and model of prayer and penance,
completely you gave yourself
to service of the Lord
chastising your flesh
by constant fast and abstinence
and generously offering
your goods and your time
to all those in need –
pray we shall at least desire
to imitate your thorough devotion,
that our lives will be spent
not on things of this world
but for the reign of Heaven.
All we can do for others
let us do,
and let all be done for God,
that He alone
will rule our hearts and lives
and we will worship
dying to ourselves all the while.
Thu, 15 October 2015
(Rm.4:1-8; Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11; Lk.12:1-7)
“Happy is the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.”
All our sins shall be taken away by the Lord who watches over us and loves us, if we but believe.
We must lay bare our souls, brothers and sisters. We cannot hide from the eternal, piercing light of God. His hand is upon us at all times; His heart is open always for our entering in. It cannot be otherwise with the Lord of the universe, in whose sight “even the hairs of [our] head are counted.” And He who surrounds us desires but our love, desires but our faith, desires but that we come into His presence confessing our sins, and He will take them away. And we shall not be “cast into Gehenna” but drawn into His kingdom.
His kingdom is coming. Jesus sees it as He gazes out at the dense “crowd of thousands” gathering before Him. He sees the kingdom coming as men’s hearts turn to Him. And so He warns His disciples, who shall be the laborers to reap His harvest, “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” for if they should take pride in their mission, if they should find in their deeds “grounds for boasting” and so forget the favor of God by which all are justified, they shall indeed tempt the fires of Gehenna. “Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight,” for the Lord hears “what you have whispered in locked rooms.” So, keep your hearts set on Him and His goodness, and the truth of the Gospel will be proclaimed to the world, and you shall save your immortal soul.
Jesus knows, too, that the faith of His disciples and their declaration of His Word to the world will bring persecution. He sees in this scene, too, the cross set before Him, and He knows those who follow Him shall share in it as well. And so He reassures His children that the Father is with them, that He treasures them even as He treasures His Son, and so the powers of this age will hold no reign over them, and that they should “not be afraid of those who kill the body and can do no more.”
Yes, our soul is in His hands. He has power to forgive and to protect, if we but come to Him as children, if we but come to Him in faith.
O LORD, all is known to you –
let us confess our sins, and we will be saved.
YHWH, of what can we boast, we who cannot forgive our own sins? Truly, we are in your hands, and so should fear you.
But in your kindness you readily forgive our transgressions; if we turn to you, our sins are wiped away. And so, there is nothing we need fear, LORD, as long as our desire is for you.
Help us to confess our faults that you might remove all our guilt. Inspire us to call upon your NAME, O LORD, and we shall rejoice in your blessings. If we but have faith in you, your justice will be upon us.
There is nothing of consequence we can accomplish on our own, nothing but sin. All the good that we do comes from you, and so, what cause have we to be proud? Let us not be false in our love for you, LORD, but even in the deep recesses of our hearts proclaim your glory continually. O may all men come to faith and be saved!
Wed, 14 October 2015
O teacher and Mother
who served to reform your sisters
and the lives of all Christians,
you led all souls
along the way of perfection,
which is Christ Himself –
pray his love may fill our hearts
that union with the Father
we indeed may find;
inspire us by your teaching
to seek Him
who makes His home in us…
and pray we shall have your courage,
your faith in the face of trials,
as we work to bring Him to others
and so suffer under His Cross.
Pray we shall know as you
the joy of such persecution,
which brings us only closer to God,
our spirits wed to His surpassing peace.
O pray, dear Mother,
we shall be entirely forgetful of ourselves
as we remember His presence in our lives.
Wed, 14 October 2015
(Rm.3:21-30; Ps.130:1-7; Lk.11:47-54)
“This generation will have to account for the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world.”
And so shall it be with Christ’s own blood, the fulfillment of all the martyrs’ sacrifice; for these same scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus proclaims guilty of the prophets’ murders will indeed devise the murder of the Son of God. And they prove the truth of His words immediately by their manifestation of “fierce hostility to Him” and their thus giving birth to the plot to crucify Him.
Perhaps most appropriate for today, with regard to Paul’s epistle to the Romans, is the Lord’s admonishment of the lawyers: “You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not gained access, yet you have stopped those who wish to enter!” It is essentially the same message the Apostle teaches: “The justice of God has been manifested apart from the law… that justice of God which works through faith in Jesus Christ.” It is not through “observance of the law” that justification comes; the works of the law – circumcision, animal sacrifice, dietary rules – which address the body, are useless in this regard. God is Spirit and it is spiritual means He uses to redeem us – we must come in faith to Him. And those who would restrict faith by the imposition of these laws serve only to impede the working of the Spirit and His grace. Paul states the question succinctly: “Does God belong to the Jews alone? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?” If He is God of all nations, it is not meet to impose Jewish religious practice upon those apart from Jewish tradition. But these protectors, or rather “possessors” and defilers of the law – defiling it by their greed in seizing it, their pride in assuming it as their own and not God’s – cannot accept that “it is the same God,” that the Gentiles are equal in grace with the Jews… and so to them this teaching is blasphemy.
At the root of the problem is the fact that these leaders are not as the psalmist in our readings today, who sings: “My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.” Nor do they cry “in supplication” “out of the depths” of their iniquity for God’s forgiveness. If they had been so disposed, they would have seen who stood before them, they would have recognized His coming, and they would have fallen to their knees and found His grace.
Let us not be so hardhearted, for indeed the blood of Jesus is upon the hands of all who sin, just as His salvation is upon all who repent and believe in Him. Water alone will not wash us clean; we must recognize the lack of love we have, and find His Spirit working in us.
O LORD, your justice is shown in your mercy,
which you offer to every faithful soul.
YHWH, we have all sinned and fallen short of your glory, and cannot by our own strength find our way back to you. We cannot justify ourselves but need the grace that comes to us through the blood of your Son to justify our souls, to set us right with you.
But what of those who fail to see they need your forgiveness, who fail to recognize that they, too, are sinners, that they have the blood of Jesus upon their hands? O LORD, how can these be justified? How can they come to faith in you if they do not listen to the One you have sent to draw us back to your presence? They shall but continue in the way of sinning, mounting up the blood of the prophets for judgment day.
Your Son offers His life for our sakes; freely He sacrifices Himself upon the Cross that we might be saved. Help us to turn to Him, O LORD, to see what we have done, repent, and be redeemed. You are the God of us all, and to all souls Jesus’ blood does call.
Tue, 13 October 2015
O slave become Shepherd
of the universal Church,
firmly you defended her teaching
and recognized that all sins
may be forgiven
by the Lord through her;
then after serving faithfully
at the helm of Peter’s bark,
you died and were buried
with your martyr brothers,
whose grave you so treasured –
pray we, too, remain firm
through all the difficult trials
and temptations of this world,
that our death may be as blessed
as your own
and we come to rest safely
in God’s arms.
O that by such incorrupt faith
and unshaken courage
we too shall be raised from the dust,
from our humble origins,
to sit with our Lord in His kingdom.
Tue, 13 October 2015
(Rm.2:1-11; Ps.62:2-3,6-7,9,13; Lk.11:42-46)
“Your hard and impenitent heart
is storing up retribution for that day of wrath
when the just judgment of God will be revealed.”
“He will repay every man for what he has done… Yes, affliction and anguish will come upon every man who has done evil… But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who has done good.” This is the just judgment, and it comes only from God, not from sinful man.
And so we are chastised in preparation for that day, that of His wrath we may be spared. We should all wish to be “insult”ed by Jesus as are the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s gospel, here, today, while there is still time. We should all desire His difficult words of instruction which would serve, if heeded humbly, to separate us from the sins of the world, the attachments of this life that cling to our soul and prevent our coming into His presence. Under His mighty hand we should all subject ourselves, that He might lighten our “impossible burdens,” that He might take from us all that is not holy, all that is not true – that we might be freed from the judgment upon our souls and walk with Him in immortality. We must be ready for His day. But as it is the darkness is with us.
“Only in God is my soul at rest.” With David we must sing this truth from our hearts. The emptiness of the flesh and its imagination must not possess us; vain pride must take no place in our lives… All our lusts must be set aside and we must know with certainty that only in God do we find our peace: He is our refuge and our strength. “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold,” we must cry, and “trust in Him at all times,” or wandering from the truth we will find ourselves in the way of destruction.
“God’s kindness is an invitation to you to repent.” In His patience He gives you time to turn from sin and find His grace and mercy. Pray He will convict you of your sin in this time and you will not convict yourself by your judgment of others. Seek His redeeming hand at work in your life and do the good before Him. Then you “shall not be disturbed,” when His Word has taken root in your soul, when you have left behind all the vanity of this world. Then the glory of God will be your own, and nothing shall remove it from you. Soften your heart to His blessed chastisement; it shall work for you against the day of judgment.
O LORD, we will be judged by what we do,
and by what we fail to do –
let us set our hearts on you alone.
YHWH, let us not fall into judgment of others but treasure rather your Son’s chastisement of our souls, that we might find freedom from our sins and take our refuge in you alone. Soon your just judgment will be revealed; let us benefit from your kindness and take this time to repent, lest we be condemned on your day of wrath.
Your love, O God, is shown in the call to repentance you make to all your children, the Jew first, then the Gentile. You indeed chastise every son whom you love. And so Jesus proclaims great woe upon the Pharisees, hoping to turn them from their wicked ways; and so St. Paul makes known to us our hard and impenitent hearts, that from the punishment they invite we might be spared.
While there is time, O LORD, while your grace and mercy are yet being offered forth, let us place our trust in you alone, and so find rest for our souls in your eternal glory.
Mon, 12 October 2015
(Rm.1:16-25; Ps.19:2-5; Lk.11:37-41)
“They stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose,
and their senseless hearts were darkened.”
If these words do not refer to modern man most poignantly, then I imagine nothing can be said of anything. In ancient times, “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts, and snakes” and bowed down to statues as if they were gods. The images man worships today are also the creations of his own hands, sometimes as physical as the idols worshiped before the time of Christ – who does not long to see his own image on one of our television sets, and who is held in greater esteem than those movie stars whom we have never met but know only of their image on a screen? – but perhaps most particularly they are the vain ideas, which reveal their utter absurdity to any mind with a modicum of common sense, but which are propounded as sacred by the elite thinkers of our day. Their numbers seem endless, and one wonders if man will rationalize himself out of existence, as perhaps he already has philosophically in the declaration that God is dead, and so often done in reality through movements such as Communism and Nazism.
Indeed, how relevant are all Paul’s words today: “They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks”; “they claimed to be wise, but turned into fools instead”; “they engaged in the mutual degradation of their bodies.” But “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the irreligious and perverse spirit of men who… hinder the truth.” “These men who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” cannot but come to naught, for “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge” – the Gospel goes forth “to the ends of the world” and Truth overwhelms all lies. As Jesus overturned the Pharisees who “cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but within… are filled with rapaciousness,” so shall the mind of modern man be shown for all its absurdity in the clear light of day.
Time. There is but time to wait. Time for the Word to go forth and to pray for the conversion of the nations, of all peoples. And there is hope, hope that men shall turn from their absurdity and their perversity to embrace the light of the Gospel and the true teaching of love it brings. We pray the senseless will find faith and be led thereby to salvation.
O LORD, openly your Word speaks to all men’s hearts,
calling them to salvation.
YHWH, how shall the senseless mind of man be redeemed? If it turns from you, the Creator of all, to give praise to senseless creatures, will it not be ever as blind as they? Trapped in its own contrivances, it shall never see the light of day or hear the Word of Truth. And so, to these faithless souls the Gospel will be so much foolishness, as in foolishness they die.
Your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and is revealed in all Creation. But men who cannot see beyond the flesh quench the Spirit even as they engage in the destruction of their bodies. For the purity of your Creation they pervert, and so fail to stand in your holy light. O LORD, let us cleanse the inside of our cup that we might come to your glory!
Your eternal power and divinity help us to recognize, that filled with knowledge of you, O God, we may keep our hearts from being darkened by the false worship of this corrupted age.
Sun, 11 October 2015
(Rm.1:1-7; Ps.98:1-4; Lk.11:29-32)
“You have a greater than Jonah here.”
Greater than any prophet is He. Wiser than Solomon is the Lord who is the source of all wisdom. For it is He of whom the prophets speak; it is His promised coming “the Holy Scriptures record.” The fulfillment of prophets and kings is in our midst. Our high priest is with us offering the sacrifice of Himself. Let us thirst for Him as the Ninevites did for Jonah’s preaching and seek Him as the queen of the South for Solomon’s wisdom. Let us listen to His servant and apostle Paul as he proclaims the Gospel of God and come to “obedient faith” with all the Gentiles “who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Salvation is upon us as it is all nations.
If Jonah’s preaching was great, the Lord’s is the greater. If he converted thousands, Jesus turns millions to the love of God. If Solomon was wise, our Lord is so much the wiser. For though this great king spoke well of all things of the earth by the grace of God, the Christ comes now with the wisdom of the richness of heaven. And so now we are all “called to holiness, grace and peace.” It is these gifts which are imparted to us “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And by these blessings we become His children, greater indeed than any prophet or king of old.
Yes, the fulfillment has come. “The Lord has made His salvation known.” “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.” His Word is brought forth even now, even this day to our hearts in the preaching of the Gospel that is Christ Jesus – “His resurrection from the dead” signals the redemption of all mankind. And so we celebrate. And so we “sing to the Lord a new song” as we, too, participate in His death and resurrection with the beloved apostle Paul, even as we come to the table set before us by His grace and holiness.
May that same “Spirit of holiness” which made Jesus “Son of God in power” now touch our souls and separate us from all that is unholy. May we respond in kind with the Ninevites to Jonah’s preaching, that they might not condemn us on the last day for our lack of faith. May the wisdom which comes to us now by the grace poured forth from His lips sink into our hearts and find a place in our lives. For no greater than He shall we find; let us not be blind to this sign.
O LORD, how blessed are we to hear the Gospel! –
let us repent and reform our lives.
YHWH, you have made your salvation known in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son. He indeed is our salvation, the very life of those who follow Him, who listen to His preaching and reform their lives – who join themselves to Him and to His Church. May we not be condemned for our deafness to His call but set our hearts on the wisdom that comes to us through Him and through His apostles, that indeed we might be saved and rejoice in your presence on the day of judgment. With Him let us be raised from the dead.
May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to the ends of the earth that His Gospel might be the source of salvation for all souls. Let peoples come from the furthest corners of the world to hear that your promise has been fulfilled in your Son and the Spirit of holiness is now upon all who are obedient to His call. For this grace let us sing your praise, O LORD!
Sat, 10 October 2015
(Wis.7:7-11; Ps.90:12-17; Heb.4:12-13; Mk.10:17-30)
“The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword.”
“Penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart… everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.” Here is His Spirit of Wisdom, whose “splendor… never yields to sleep,” who has “countless riches at her hands.” It is this penetrating Wisdom we must pray to be with us, if we are to save our immortal souls. Without her nothing has any worth at all.
How shall we “number our days aright” and “gain wisdom of heart”? How shall we walk the road the Lord leads us upon and find His “gracious care” to “prosper the work of our hands”? How shall we avoid the emptiness the riches of this world inevitably bring and acquire the conviction needed to follow the Lord? The allure of gold, of mammon, is so great, is so easy to set our hearts upon – how shall we hear what the Lord says in love to the man who falls on his knees before Him: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven”? How shall we give up house and family and lands all “for [His] sake and for the sake of the Gospel” to find “a hundred times more” these things, “with persecutions, and eternal life in heaven”? Only by the Wisdom that comes from God, never by the thoughts of our own heart.
Clearly the disciples do not yet understand this or they would not ask with such amazement, “Then who can be saved?” when told of the difficulties riches bring. For still, though not for long, their hearts are set on the things of this earth, and still they judge with a worldly eye. The vision that comes of the pure light of Wisdom will not be theirs until the flame of the Holy Spirit burns in their souls. Then their own spirits will be one with the Lord and they will be able to discern that “all gold, in view of her, is a little sand.” Then the length and breadth and depth of their mission they will comprehend.
Let the word of God be heard by all, spoken by all His prophets and priests. Let it pierce many hearts, that some may be saved by the grace that enters where it bleeds. Here is the only way to life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "In Your Eyes" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, do we desire life with you,
or the riches of this world?
YHWH, your Son stands in our midst looking at us with love. To Himself He calls us that we might enter the kingdom. And who would not follow? What riches of this age are greater than the divine riches He offers? What else could we need if we have eternal life? With Him is true wisdom; let us give up all to follow in His way.
O LORD, all gold is as a little dust to the one who has been blessed to see with your eyes, to the one who has been graced with your Wisdom. Though it be painful to stand in your light and be pierced by your sword, what glory it brings to your children! Your truth upon our souls, we have all the food we need.
And so, what can persecutions bring us but greater joy? What can we lose in your Name that we will not regain a hundred times over? All things are in your hands, O LORD, and we live in your eyes. Pierce us with your Wisdom, that we might number our days aright.
Fri, 9 October 2015
(Jl.4:12-21; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12; Lk.11:27-28)
“Near is the day of the Lord in the valley of decision.”
And so, “blest are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” For though “sun and moon are darkened and the stars withhold their brightness,” though “mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” “light dawns for the just,” and for them “the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.” Yes, “the heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to His people.”
Are we His people? Are our hearts set upon Him? Are we blest as our Mother with keeping the word of God, of putting it into practice, of giving our yes to all His words, and His commands? Are these commands sweet as honey, are they the new wine we drink each day? From Him do we find our daily bread? Though we are in His Church and have the blessed breasts of this great Mother to nurse us, though we are here where the hills of the Lord “flow with [His] milk” – though we have at our hands the Body and Blood of the Lord and the true teaching, the Word of God, in our ears by His grace upon this House of God, do we truly appreciate these gifts He provides: do we eat and drink unto our salvation and keep His word as an ever flowing stream of life in our souls, at the heart of our beings? “The channels of Judah shall flow with water,” as now they do. Do we wash ourselves clean in that water that “issue[s] from the house of the Lord”? Are we prepared for the day of decision?
Let us rejoice in Him, brothers and sisters. “Be glad in the Lord, you just, and give thanks to His holy name.” With the psalmist let us raise our song and proclaim His justice to all the peoples. For what should we have but joy as we take refuge in His promise, as we come to the table of the New Covenant each day and share even now in the life He offers forth through His holy sacrifice. And let us pray to our Mother, Mary, that we shall be as she is, that we shall be so true to the Lord and serve as His handmaidens amongst the world. May she keep us close to the nourishing food the Church holds for all her children; and may our decision be as firm as hers as we give our unfailing yes to the Lord and so know His grace and blessing.
O LORD, if we but keep your Word,
we shall be blessed on the Day Jesus comes.
YHWH, you dwell on Zion, your holy mountain; may we dwell there with our Blessed Mother.
The mountains melt like wax before you, O LORD. The heavens and the earth quake, but you are a refuge to your people. Truly blessed are all who make their home in you, who do your will in this world. And so, as sun and moon are darkened, as this world you reduce to dust, may we be gathered into your arms, to the breast of our Mother.
Let the heavens proclaim your justice, LORD; let all holy souls give thanks to your NAME. For light dawns through the darkness for the upright of heart, and your children abide forever in your presence even as their enemies are destroyed.
Blessed let us be, O Holy LORD, to follow where your Son does lead, for He leads us only unto you. O may we hear and keep your Word! Blessed Mother, pray for us.
Thu, 8 October 2015
O caretaker of souls
who sought so diligently
and with wisdom and love
to reform the Church
and all her members,
beginning with those in higher office,
and so were persecuted
by men who would not be healed
of their disease –
pray that all will be taught
the true doctrine of the faith,
from early childhood
to adult vocation;
may all know to what they are called
as Christians in this world.
And may that Word go forth
to the ends of the earth,
that the faith will be propagated
in all lands and in all hearts
and the Lord’s holy discipline
serve as treasured guide
for all who would come
to the kingdom of Heaven.
Thu, 8 October 2015
O shepherd of a faithful people,
you shed your blood
with your brothers
as a holy offering unto the Lord
after drawing many souls
into His fold;
beheaded for your success
as Christ’s evangelist,
still you lead faithful souls
to God –
pray we shall be so ready
to lay down our own lives
for the propagation
of the Word of God,
and that on our journey
we shall be protected
from all the snares of the devil,
that nothing shall prevent
our standing at Jesus’ side
both in this world
and the next.
Thu, 8 October 2015
(Jl.1:13-15,2:1-2; Ps.9:2-3,6,8-9,16; Lk.11:15-26)
“It is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!”
And we must be prepared. We must rend our hearts and not our garments. We must “spend the night in sackcloth,” repentant of our sins. We must “proclaim a fast” and “cry to the Lord,” “for near is the day of the Lord.”
The prophet Joel sounds this alarm several hundred years before Christ, and in truth it proclaims the coming of Christ. For it is His coming that separates the wicked from the just; it is He who “judges the world with justice” – it is by Him the names of the wicked are “blotted out forever and ever” and those who “declare all [His] wondrous deeds” find their salvation.
The day is coming and is already here, for the Lord declares in our gospel, “The man who is not with me is against me, and the man who does not gather with me scatters.” He makes clear the works of Satan, which do not bring healing but only sickness and death, and the works of “the finger of God,” which overpower and “cast out devils.” Here the judgment is come; here it begins. In the end it shall be fulfilled and the great divide between evil and good will be set for all eternity, but here and in this time the Word of Truth goes forth, calling all souls to leave behind all sin.
But, brothers and sisters, our fasting must be complete; our weeping, our repentance, must be genuine. We must turn entirely from our sins and make place only for the Lord Jesus Christ to live in the houses of our souls. If the Lord lives in us, there is no place for darkness. If the Lord is within us, no devil can dwell there. But if in hypocrisy we pretend a conversion, we expand the space for the devil’s dwelling in our homes. For the two are indeed mutually exclusive: the Lord has nothing to do with the devil, and the devil nothing to do with the Lord. And so if we hope to stand on the day when darkness covers the earth, “spreading over the mountains, like a people numerous and mighty”; if we hope to remain when the Lord returns with His myriad of angels to judge the earth and the thoughts of men’s hearts… we must enter His grace this day – we must now call upon His Name. There is no other way, my brothers and sisters. You must be with Him or against Him. The choice between life and death is presented before you; for the day of darkness is nigh. Choose His eternal light!
O LORD, your Day is at hand –
let us make room in our hearts only for you.
YHWH, your throne is set up for judgment; near is your Day. Soon you will come to destroy all the wicked, that in your presence the just might shine. Your Son you have sent to redeem the world, to call every soul from its sin, but failing repentance what shall happen to us on the great and terrible Day of His return?
Forever you are enthroned on high, O LORD, and who can approach your glory? What hope have we of uniting with you, of looking upon your face, we who have been so sinful? How shall we come into your House and there find eternal rest if we do not wholeheartedly accept the cleansing Word of your Son?
If there is any pretense in us, we shall not stand with Him. And so, O LORD, let us fast and pray for all devils to be cast from us that we might forever sing your praise.
Wed, 7 October 2015
(Mal.3:13-20; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.11:5-13)
“For you who fear my name,
there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
Both our psalm and first reading make clear the distinction between the blessed and the condemned: “The Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes,” our psalmist declares. The wicked are “like chaff which the wind drives away,” while the just are “like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.” Malachi proclaims the same. Where the Lord is healing rays of warmth to the just, for the wicked He comes “blazing like an oven… leaving them neither root nor branch.” For one, His fire is holy and life-giving; for the other, it destroys.
And what is the sign that we “fear the Lord and trust in His name”? Malachi speaks of “going about in penitential dress” and states, “They who fear the Lord spoke with one another, and the Lord listened attentively.” Our psalmist tells us the just “delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on His law day and night.” We must be repentant of our sins and come humbly before Him. We must recognize, as Jesus tells us, that we indeed are ones “with all [our] sins.” This is first. But most importantly we must trust in Him and turn to Him, and pray in His Name. For “the heavenly Father give[s] the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” He is not remiss in making them His own. He wishes all to be blessed and come before Him whole. But we must not fail to seek His will, to seek His way, to beg it of our God. We cannot be remiss in asking and seeking and knocking, for this persistence proves our love of Him and of His way, and by it we will find Him.
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more important or more powerful than prayer. It is our way of coming to Him and becoming one with Him. It is at the heart of the distinction “between him who serves God, and him who does not serve Him.” For all that we do will come to naught if not done in His presence, and it is only by prayer we enter the presence of His holy light. First and always we must have faith, yes. First and always we must believe. But now and ever we must seek Him; forever we must ask His grace to come into our lives. And He will hear. He will “give [His] children good things.” So neglect not to remain in the presence of God and your reward will be assured, and you will know the blessed light of His face.
O LORD, give to us the Holy Spirit,
that in all things we might follow along the way
of your Son.
YHWH, we ask for your grace and mercy, your compassion upon our souls, that we might not be burned up with the wicked on your holy Day but stand blessed in the light of your face. Let us be healed of all sin and come to serve you with all our hearts, leaving behind all doubt of your glory and trusting in your goodness toward us. For you have made us and we are your own if we but have faith in you and come humbly before you with our petitions.
Yes, let us ask you for what we need, for all good things, those in accord with your will. If our hearts are set on serving you and others, what will you not give us? For then we will truly be your sons. But, O LORD, if we should turn our sights upon the advancement of our own name, seeking to prosper by doing evil, the wind shall indeed drive us away, and we shall perish in unholy fire.
Tue, 6 October 2015
O Mother of prayer
and of this prayer
in which we meditate on the life
of our Lord and Savior
through your blessed intercession,
it is through you
we gain victory in Christ;
His life, death, and resurrection
become fruitful in you,
and united with you,
and so with Jesus,
we repel our enemies.
O dear Lady,
our saving Lord comes not to us
except through you:
He is born in you,
He dies with you at His side,
and He raises you to life
but to draw us all unto Himself,
that we might walk in light with Him
even in this world –
pray, yes, pray for us!
you through whom all Christians come.
Tue, 6 October 2015
(Jon.4:1-11; Ps.86:3-6,9-10,15; Lk.11:1-4)
“Your kingdom come.”
“You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.” How beautifully Jonah speaks of God’s blessed compassion on His people. And how poorly he is able to accept and live that grace. The Lord’s forgiveness extends now to the ends of the earth; let us not be loathe to offer it unto all.
In our first reading, Jonah is angry with God for His mercy in forgiving Ninevah, the pagan empire and enemy of Israel. But the Lord teaches Jonah that He watches over these, too, not only Israel, signaling His universal call to salvation (which shall be fulfilled in the teaching of Christ). By comparing the city of Ninevah to the plant “that grew up over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,” the Lord instructs us that not only does He care for all nations, but indeed that all nations have a holy call, a blessed purpose, in which God Himself takes pleasure and comfort. He has raised all the nations and each is called as a member of His kingdom.
This word should give us great understanding of the graciousness of our God, and great joy in knowing that we are called by Him: “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.” We can join with David in his prayer, knowing that God will “attend to the sound of [our] pleading” even as He does this blessed king of Israel; even as He listens to His chosen people, so He listens now to us, for the walls of division have been cast asunder and His love now extends to all.
But we must not be as Jonah shows himself to be today. We must “forgive all who do us wrong” or the Lord will not hear our prayer to “subject us not to the trial.” If we harbor anger, it will mean our death; and the Lord will send “a burning east wind” and a sun to beat down upon us, too, to draw us from the hardness of our hearts and the condemnation we breathe in our souls. Our vision must be that of God, who sees that sinners “cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,” or as Jesus says from the cross, “They know not what they do.” And so we, too, must forgive.
Let us join in prayer today, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s kingdom may come to earth. Let us rejoice that His reign extends to all. For it is the Lord’s desire to “forgive us our sins,” and it is His will that all find refuge in the shade of His presence. And so we partake of “our daily bread” here in His Word and in His Sacrament; and so we live the kingdom of God.
O LORD, let our prayer rise up to you, the Most High,
who are merciful and kind and forgiving toward all
and hear us when we cry out to you.
YHWH, you are abounding in kindness toward all, a gracious and merciful God desiring to show clemency to sinners, to lead them from the death upon their souls to a holy life in you. For this what can we do but praise you? What can we do but say: let thy will be done!
But how often we keep your mercy from others, dear God; how often we expect it for ourselves yet refuse to share it with those who seek it from us. This is not your will. In this your kingdom does not come. For where forgiveness is withheld, your love does not exist; and where your love does not exist, you are not present.
Let us not die in desolation, O LORD, beneath a scorching wind and a burning sun. Open our hearts to share your compassion and we shall find relief from all the trials we bring upon ourselves by our lack of pity, by our condemnation of others.
Mon, 5 October 2015
O crown of contemplation
whom none excels
in knowing the presence of the Lord
alone in a cell,
apart from the world –
a simple chapel pray we find
in the chambers of our heart
that we might chant His praises
all the time
in the quiet,
in His sight.
Let us ever work
His breathing in our souls,
that one with Him
and with our brothers
ever we might remain.
Obedience is all we need
and He will lead us there;
then no questions will persist
as we dwell in perfect peace.
Pray such grace upon all souls.
Mon, 5 October 2015
(Jon.3:1-10; Ps.130:1-4,7-8; Lk.10:38-42)
“He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do them;
He did not carry it out.”
Ninevah is spared. Because “they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth,” because they repented of their sin and called “loudly to God,” He did not punish them for their iniquity but forgave them and withheld “His blazing wrath.” And so this pagan city finds God’s mercy through the preaching of Jonah.
We are all called to repent. We are all called to turn to the Lord and seek His forgiveness and grace to overcome and be spared of punishment for our falling short of His glory. Our psalm declares, “Let Israel wait for the Lord, for with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption.” And so to find His mercy we must have faith and we must be patient. We must be as Mary in our gospel today, seated at His feet, listening to His words. We cannot remove ourselves from this place and hope to find salvation for our souls any more than the Ninevites could have taken a break from their sitting in sackcloth and ashes to have a snack and yet hoped to find the forgiveness they so desperately needed. Our fast must be total, our obedience complete. Do you think Mary had a mind to rise as she listened to her Lord? Do you think she was distracted by anything? Certainly not. And we in our prayer and in our work and in our lives must find the commitment she embodies if we hope to know the grace of God truly working in our hearts.
Indeed, the Lord “will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.” Indeed, He hears the voice of all who cry to Him “out of the depths” of their sin. He will come and wash us clean; He will come and make us new. If we choose “the better portion,” we “shall not be deprived of it” and its reward. But it must be our whole hearts that turn to the Lord, that are set on His word… that heed His preaching as it comes with its grace to our ears.
If we are short of prophets today, listen more closely, brothers and sisters. If it is difficult to find the Word preached with the power and blessing of Jonah, open your Bibles and turn to your hearts. Sit still before Him in silence and He will fill your soul with His light. And fail not to come into His presence where the people gather for Mass. The Word shall indeed fill you; His Bread shall indeed nourish you. And your soul shall be saved according to your commitment to Christ.
O LORD, let our hearts be set on you
and your presence;
may our ears be open to hear your voice.
YHWH, let us turn to you with all our heart that we might find forgiveness of our sins and peace in your presence. If in sackcloth and ashes we cry out to you in repentance, you will look kindly upon our souls; if in silence we sit at your feet, what shall we not be taught? All is ours if we make ourselves your own.
O LORD, all nations you call to yourself. There is no one for whom you do not care, whom you would not save in your mercy. And so you send your prophets forth even to the ends of the earth, and so your Word goes out to all places and times – and so all who listen to your voice find redemption for their souls and enter your holy Temple.
Your ears listen for our voice calling out to you; your heart longs for us to set aside all things and worship you. O LORD, let your gracious will be done in all our lives that none shall perish in separation from you.
Sun, 4 October 2015
O apostle of mercy,
the mercy of Christ
poured freely upon all souls
for the salvation of the whole world,
especially the worst of sinners…
you suffered with our divine Lord
that souls might indeed be saved;
with His Passion you were intimate,
blessed with fellowship with Jesus
and His Mother
and vision of their presence –
pray a measure of your penitential devotion,
a drop of our Savior’s holy blood,
might fall upon our hearts
and make us fruitful as you in His cause;
pray we shall be blessed
with deeper awareness of our wretchedness,
that we might know
the infinite majesty of the Lord
and immerse ourselves and all souls
in His measureless mercy.
Let all sins be atoned for in Him!
Sun, 4 October 2015
(Jon.1:1-2:1,11; Jon.2:2-5,7-8; Lk.10:25-37)
“A Samaritan who was journeying along came on him
and was moved to pity at the sight.”
First let me note that the book of Jonah is not a parable, not an imaginary story, as popular scholarship would have us believe. How do I know this? I have faith, yes, which those who would explain away any miracle of God so sorely lack; but I know it, too, by Scripture itself. For elsewhere the Lord compares Himself to Jonah, and states explicitly that the people of Ninevah – who had the faith to repent at the preaching of Jonah – will rise on the day of judgment and condemn those of Jesus’ time, and us, for our failure to repent at the words of the Son of God. It is not possible that imaginary people could condemn others’ souls (the very idea is absurd, of course, but such are our minds in this “enlightened” age), and this comparison would suggest that Jesus Himself is but imaginary, which seems not against the belief of the vain prophets of our day.
In today’s gospel we have a parable: The Good Samaritan. It begins as the universal story all parables are – “There was a man…” (“a man,” any man, every man), and its express purpose is to impart a lesson. And the lesson today is God’s universal love. The dreaded “Samaritan” represents nothing but faithlessness and sin to the Jewish mind, but Jesus demonstrates that it is sinners He calls – and that those thought of as sinners indeed often show the greatest faith. We see this not only in our gospel, but also in our reading from Jonah, for notice how quickly the pagan mariners turned to their gods, who are no-gods, to seek deliverance from the “breakers” and “billows” which pass over them. Indeed, it is they who arouse Jonah, who has fallen asleep in the despair of his separation from the will of God, to pray to his Lord. And what horror overwhelms them when they hear how he has disobeyed the Lord’s command – “How could you do such a thing!” Who has the faith here? Who convicts whom of sin?
Though Jonah is clearly different from Jesus in this his sin, he is like Him in a crucial way – he sacrifices his life for those in danger of death. Notice his words: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you.” And so it does when he is finally cast forth (after remarkable, faith-filled prayer by these pagans); and so also these men “offered sacrifice and made vows” to the Lord, coming it seems to faith in God following Jonah’s laying down of his life. And, of course, as Jesus will spend three days in the belly of the earth, so Jonah spends three days in the belly of the whale; and as the Lord will rise on the third day, so Jonah is “spewed upon the shore.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord heard Jonah’s prayer from “the midst of the netherworld,” “from the belly of the fish.” Do not doubt and test the Lord as the lawyer who seeks “to justify himself” in his pride. In your moments of darkness, come to the Lord as the humble servant He calls you to be, and He shall assuage your doubts, He shall be moved with pity looking upon you, and teach you of the love and compassion only He knows.
O LORD, how shall we be saved from the pit
into which we cast ourselves
if we do not have compassion for the plight of others?
YHWH, we have fallen into the pit, beaten and left for dead by robbers, by the demons, for our sin. The breakers and billows pass over us and we are doomed to drown in the dark of the deep.
But you are merciful, LORD, truly compassionate to all in need. And so you look upon our troubled state and send us help when we cry out to you – our prayer, even from the midst of the nether world, reaches your holy Temple, and you have pity on our poor souls. For this let us ever praise you!
And to what do you call us but to be compassionate as you, to love you and to show that love by loving our neighbor as ourselves. For we are all one in you and so if we are in you we will see that helping others we indeed help ourselves, and please you great