Mon, 24 September 2018
(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21)
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God
and act upon it.”
Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ.
For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid.
“When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God.
O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word
and walk in your way.
YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands.
O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father.
Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Sun, 23 September 2018
(Prv.3:27-34; Ps.15:1-5; Lk.8:16-18)
“The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just He blesses.”
Light fills the house of him “who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue,” for he who does these things is as light itself, having no part with darkness. He knows that “to the Lord the perverse man is an abomination,” and so he “env[ies] not the lawless man and choose[s] none of his ways” but chooses always the way of God and so finds the “friendship” of the Lord which is with “the upright,” which is as light shining upon him and through him.
As for the wicked, “he who has not will lose even the little he thinks he has,” for the Lord is not with him; and all he has gained by “usury” and by “bribe[s] against the innocent” shall be revealed in all its emptiness on the day the Lord shines His encompassing light – he will indeed be left with nothing, for nothing he truly has. He who has “plot[ted]… evil against his neighbor” and “quarrel[led]… with a man without cause” will never be able to stand in the light of the Lord, for he has made his home in darkness, and in darkness he shall remain. Certainly this “reprobate is despised” by the Lord, for his rebellion puts him in opposition to the kingdom of God.
And so we must “take heed, therefore, how [we] hear” the Lord’s instruction, for His instruction is as light itself and brings the light of salvation to the receptive soul. This light we must make our own and place it “on a lampstand so that whoever comes in” – whoever approaches the house in which we dwell – “can see it” and can share in it freely. All shade of sin must be removed from our souls so that without hindrance and without hesitation our light will shine forth and all will know the abiding love of the Lord. “He who does these things shall never be disturbed.” He who does these things, who reflects the Lord’s justice and love all his days, cannot but be blessed by the Lord, for he himself becomes His own.
“When He is dealing with the arrogant, He is stern, but to the humble He shows kindness.” And so, having his deeds “brought to light” is as a curse for the wicked, but to the just it means eternal blessing.
O LORD, all is known in your holy light:
help us to do good and avoid evil.
YHWH, let us walk blamelessly before you; in innocence let us dwell. Let us not turn to the paths of the wicked but remain ever in your light, walking always in your way. Then we shall be blessed with your presence.
LORD, all shall be exposed in your holy light; from you none can hide. And so, let us not be afraid to do your will with confidence, with faith in your protection and guidance. Let us not shy away from shining your light with our very lives, for in this way we shall be kept from straying.
Those who stray, O LORD, you condemn. Those whose hearts are hardened against you walk the path to perdition, and so as long as they continue to travel in sin, their destruction is assured. For darkness has no place in your kingdom of light, and those who proudly persist in their sin cannot but be cast from your presence. But let us do no harm; let us honor you by thinking and speaking only truth and remaining ever humble before you.
Sat, 22 September 2018
O holy priest
who bore the wounds of Christ
in your hands
and in your ministry,
who served the Lord so greatly
in casting out many demons
in your confessional,
and whom He thus blessed
with miracles of the Spirit –
pray for us of lukewarm faith
who falter day to day
in following our dear Jesus’ path.
So close to Him you were
in His suffering and His love;
so far are we
from His Cross and so His grace.
Pray we shall be strengthened to approach Him
and find healing for our weakness,
the frailty of our souls
which keeps us from knowing the Christ
and laying down our lives for Him
as He calls, as you have done…
O pray His blood be upon us!
Sat, 22 September 2018
(Ws.2:12,17-20; Ps.54:3-8; Jas.3:16-4:3; Mk.9:30-37)
“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.”
And can there be any greater foul practice come from jealousy and selfish ambition than that of which we hear in our first reading from the Book of Wisdom, for here the wicked plot the death of the Son of God – here is spoken of the horrible persecutions which the Messiah and all His followers undergo at the hands of the proud souls: “With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience.” And so the Lamb of God shall endure His “shameful death,” according to the dark threats they breathe.
“The haughty have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes,” David cries unto the Lord. He too knows those who “kill and envy,” who “fight and wage war” against the righteous one because he puts them to shame, because he “reproaches [them] for transgressions of the law,” his justice and truth ever a sign of contradiction against “the passions that make war in [their] members,” from which they refuse to be released.
But it is indeed so, as even their own words condemn the wicked, that “God will take care of [the just one],” that “God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.” “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” David exclaims in the midst of his trial – for indeed the help of the Lord is ever with us; He shall always “defend [our] cause.” And the wicked shall ever be put to death for their sins against Him.
And what of the disciples today? It is true that “they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.” At this point in the journey they still are “arguing about” petty matters which lead but to condemnation, even as Jesus speaks of His imminent death. But their vain pride shall not last the day. For even in the Lord’s placing a child in their midst there is a kind of turning point; ashamed they can only be now, and soon, so soon, they will follow their blessed Lord to their own cross of crucifixion.
Set yourselves on the right path, brothers and sisters. Be not afraid to ask the Lord of His way and of the help you need to follow. But do not ask in vain or your evil desires will destroy you, and you shall not know His kingdom. Let no jealousy rule your hearts, but order your lives according to the Lord’s pure wisdom, and be “full of mercy and good fruits,” as even our “gentle” and “compliant” Lord. Keep this Child ever before your eyes.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Unbind Yourself" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, only you will deliver us
from the hands of our foes
and from our own transgressions.
YHWH, your Son was condemned to a shameful death by the haughty hearts of men, but you sustained His life, as you do our own. If we but set our hearts on serving you and the least of our brothers, if we but keep our arms around those you place in our care – if we but die with your Son and in His love, with Him we shall rise again.
O LORD, let arrogance and pride find no place in our lives. Let us not be tortured by selfish ambition or torture others because of our impatience with you and your holy will. If we fight against your goodness, allowing our passions to rule us, what shall we find but death to our souls and blindness to your glory among us? Your Son let us but follow, even on the path to crucifixion, and your protection will be with us all our days. Your arms you will keep around us, embracing us as your own dear Child. In peace we shall remain.
Fri, 21 September 2018
(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15)
“Just as we resemble the man from earth,
so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”
It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth.
But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life.
“A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life.
O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know.
O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts
and grow unto your heavenly kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit.
Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven!
Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Thu, 20 September 2018
O faithful apostle
who so readily answered
the call of the Lord,
leaving your station in this world
to follow in His footsteps
and so find your place in Heaven,
who even with these first steps
brought others to the Christ
as you opened your heart
as well as your home
to Him and to the least of His brothers –
pray, dear brother through whom the Spirit has spoken,
that we too shall follow Jesus
and so find His grace and mercy,
and so find our way to the Father.
Pray our hearts will ever be
so open to hear His voice
and invite Him in to our table,
where He may eat and speak with us,
feeding us with His presence.
And pray we may be blessed as you
in drawing others to the Word, our God,
till all are one in His Body.
Thu, 20 September 2018
(Eph.4:1-7,11-13; Ps.19:2-5; Mt.9:9-13)
“Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.”
“Till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” the Word of the Lord shall be carried forth by all His “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”; indeed, “each of us has received God’s favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it,” and each of us plays a role in bringing to fulfillment the Gospel of our “one Lord.”
“Matthew got up and followed Him.” He was called, he was chosen, and he answered the Lord’s call without hesitation. And he brought the Lord in immediately to dine with Him, welcoming Him fully at his table. And because of his openness to God and His Word, and because of his generous response, we see that it is Jesus who in fact feeds him, that he in turn might feed others with the true teaching, “the one faith” in the “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all,” from the least of sinners to the greatest of apostles. We are all thus called to follow Jesus Christ, to find the mercy He so greatly desires to impart to our sinful lives, that we might be whole and able to serve Him well.
One day we shall come to perfection in Him; in Him it is already fulfilled. And now insofar as we share His love, insofar as we “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience,” the Spirit who is indeed the origin of our unity in Him works through us and we, even with the twelve apostles, serve to bring His blessed peace, His divine life of salvation, to the world. Yes, “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge,” and soon that Word will reach to the ends of the earth; and soon it will come to fulfillment in our sight.
Brothers and sisters, we are called to a great hope, and to a great mission to bring it to light. Let us keep our hearts set on the Gospel and the promise it contains, and “build up the Body of Christ” until we stand with Him, as Him, in His eternal kingdom which stands in our midst even today through the words of His apostle and evangelist, in the breath of the Spirit upon us and in its message.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us all be drawn as one
into the Body of your Son,
that we poor sinners may become His saints.
YHWH, you are over all and work through all and in all, and your Gospel message goes out to all the world through your apostles and evangelists. O let us listen to your voice as it comes to us in the words of Scripture and through your prophets’ preaching! Let us be quick as Matthew to answer your call, that the Body of your Son might be built up on this earth and soon come to fulfillment in Heaven.
We are all sinners, O LORD; you see this and you know this. Help us to see this as you do and so come readily to the table Jesus spreads before us, a table of mercy and grace in answer to our repentance. Let us recognize that only in Him will we find our place with you in the kingdom. And help us to proclaim your love and your peace with your apostles, that in the one faith all might be baptized and come as your children to praise your Name.
You are our hope, O LORD; let your Spirit go forth.
Wed, 19 September 2018
O blessed, holy martyrs
who won for yourselves
the crown of salvation
by your undying faith in God,
who cherished well
the prize of persecution
the Lord offered your souls,
who stood fast despite the death
that raged around you –
pray we shall know as you
that all the hairs of our head
are numbered by God
and in His all-embracing providence
He has care over us all,
that we might stand as strong
in our little trials
as you did before the face
of the executioner.
To all people be a witness to the faith
that reaches ever unto Heaven.
Direct download: Sept._20_Andrew_Kim_Paul_Hasang_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Wed, 19 September 2018
(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50)
“I am the least of the apostles.”
Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord.
Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others.
And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.”
“O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love.
O LORD, let us have faith in your Son
and in His sacrifice for our sins;
on our knees in love let us come to Him,
and we shall find His mercy.
YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes.
Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for your love.
Let us welcome you into our homes; let us receive Jesus into our very hearts. In our spirits take up your residence, LORD, by our faith in Him and in His death and resurrection. For us He died and was buried; for us He rose on the third day. Let us never forget His enduring mercy – in great humility let us embrace your love.
Tue, 18 September 2018
O protector of your sheep,
you laid down your life
giving your blood
for the service of souls
that all might witness
the surpassing love of the Lord
and the glory that awaits
those who die in Him –
pray for shepherds
who feed their sheep,
not lording it over them
or seeking what gain they might find
taking the milk and wool
of their flock
and leaving them naked and lifeless…
but living the call of Christ
as you, dear shepherd, have done.
Pray those who govern God’s Church
will be ready even to die for Him
and the people they serve.
Let all be protected by the blood of the Lamb.
Tue, 18 September 2018
(1Cor.12:31-13:13; Ps.33:2-5,12,22; Lk.7:31-35)
“We piped you a tune but you did not dance;
we sang you a dirge but you did not wail.”
“Like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates,” seeking to have them comply with their own selfish will, so are “the men of today” according to our Lord. And so is their song not “a noisy gong”? Do they not lack of love? Could they be more “rude,” more impatient and unkind, than to declare of John the Baptizer, “He is mad!” and of the Son of Man, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard”? Could they any more “rejoice in what is wrong,” utterly shutting out the truth?
And why? Why is it they do so lack of love? Why are they so ungodly? Is it not that they fail to realize and state with the Apostle Paul: “Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect”? Is it not because they trust in their own minds that they do not come to the wisdom of God?
And what is “God’s wisdom”? It is what Paul speaks of so well today: God is love, and without God we are worth nothing. Yes, God is love. Love is the heart of the Law even as God is the heart of the Law, and without the heart the body is useless. But knowing God is love, hearing it repeated over and over, is not sufficient for our salvation. Certainly, “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.” The Lord ever pours forth His grace, His love upon all His creatures – but how do we come to have that love, how do we come to accept it? Again, the key is in Paul’s statement, “My knowledge is imperfect now.” It is in understanding that, even though “we put childish ways aside,” yet “we see indistinctly.” It is in the realization that we are not God, that we need God and His love; in a word, it is in repentance. Genuine repentance is the attitude that brings us to the love of God. And the need for it is constant!
I think there is a kind of divine equation to our relationship with the Lord: the more we recognize our misery, the more He shares His mercy; the more we acknowledge our lack of His wisdom and love, the more He fills our desire for them. Marvelous is the justice of God!
Brothers and sisters, “give thanks to the Lord on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises.” It is ours to “speak with human tongues and angelic as well”; we must employ “the gift of prophecy,” “feed the poor,” and be ready to “hand over [our] body to be burned.” But all we do must be driven by His will, must be founded in His love. Our song must be set in His holy key and reflect His eternal harmony, or we have nothing to fill our emptiness.
O LORD, let us accept your Word and your way;
let us live in your love and praise you all the day.
YHWH, if we have not love, what good are we, for then we are not of you? If we are proud what can we be but condemned for our anger and judgment? If we seek to control you, where can such foolishness lead us but to separation from you and your love; and so, what shall we do but die in emptiness?
O LORD, what fools we are to trust in our own knowledge, in our own ways, when you lay the way to Heaven before us. You send your Son to lead us home, and we tell Him He knows not of what He speaks; we seek even to instruct Him of the way He should better walk. And so to what utter foolishness does our knowledge lead – what blindness is upon our souls!
We must love as you love, as your Son has shown us, dearest LORD. Patient and kind make us this day, humble before you that we might see how much we need you to find our way. To your kingdom let us come, praising you for your glory, living in your unending love.
Mon, 17 September 2018
(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17)
“A great prophet has risen among us.”
A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home.
“The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name.
And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son.
Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit.
O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you,
ever praising your NAME.
YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land.
Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME.
Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Sun, 16 September 2018
O wise doctor
whose intellect served well
in defense of the Church
and her teachings,
who bore well the light yoke of Christ
that leads to eternal life
and shepherded your flock
in following you
along this path of our Lord –
speak to us this day
your words of grace
that the souls of all
within the Church’s gates
might be founded well
on the truths of the faith
and on the love of God.
Pray we shall be wise as you
in knowing the way
the Lord marks out for His sons;
pray we shall have shepherds
so blessed with His light
that all shall be saved from the wolves about
and remain secure in the Father’s arms.
Sun, 16 September 2018
(1Cor.11:17-26,33; Ps.40:7-10,17,1Cor.11:26; Lk.7:1-10)
“Just give the order and my servant will be cured.”
By a word from His mouth what cannot be done? For those who have faith this is all that is needed.
Listen, brothers and sisters, to the centurion’s explication of “the meaning of an order”: “I say to one, ‘On your way,’ and off he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Do you see faith at work? Do you understand the power of a word? And if a mere centurion in the Roman army possesses such power and gains such loyalty by his commands, do you think the Lord’s words shall fall short or His servants be found lacking in obedience?
“I am not worthy to have you enter my house” are the words the centurion speaks to Jesus before our quote for the day, and they are of course the phrase we utter just before we receive the Lord in Holy Communion. That same sacrament of Communion is described for us by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians; he tells us of the Christ’s words and actions upon its institution “on the night in which He was betrayed.” “This is my body,” Jesus says; and, in Paul’s phrasing, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” And so do we partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood even as we remember His sacrifice for our sins; and so, like the centurion’s servant, we are healed of our ills.
Yet there are “divisions among [us]” regarding this central sacrament of our faith. Perhaps “there may even have to be factions among [us] for the tried and true to stand out clearly.” But the Lord is never pleased with a lack of faith. And if He decries the lack of “faith among the Israelites,” what is His thought on Christians who cannot believe in His presence in the Sacrament? Does the Lord not also have “soldiers under His command” like the centurion? Do they not also carry out His orders? Or is the word He gives them not powerful enough to carry out His will? Is it somehow impossible for the Lord to make himself present as He has promised by the intercession of His apostles, His priests – even as by the intercession of the Jewish elders the centurion gained his request from the Christ? Does your faith not fall short if you thus limit the power of God, of His Word, of the power given His apostles? “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you,” Paul states succinctly as he speaks to his disciples of the Lord’s Supper. And this meal shall last till the end of time; and it shall ever feed us body and soul with the presence of Christ.
“Behold, I come,” says the Lord. To do the Father’s will is the Son’s “delight” and the delight of all who follow Him. In body He comes and in body He remains, upon our altars and in His sons. This “justice” we “announce in the vast assembly”; we do “not restrain [our] lips.” For His faithfulness to us, we His slaves and soldiers well know; and for such love we can but proclaim: “The Lord be glorified”! For by a word from His mouth uttered through His priest – “This is my body” – He is in our midst.
O LORD, in faith let us come to you
to receive the Body and Blood of your Son,
and so find the new life He brings.
YHWH, your Son comes to us and gives us His own Body and Blood that we might partake of Him and so find our salvation in union with you. But have we the faith to see Him here in our midst; and have we the love to receive Him into our hearts?
The flesh can be such a distraction for us, O LORD; it can leave us quite blind. As we seek to feed our bellies, our souls can be greatly deprived. And so, do we not lose you by our lack of faith?
In your Word let us trust, dear LORD, not in the matter at our hands. Our hearts be set upon your grace, upon the sacrifice of your Son, that we might come to dwell in your House. O let us offer our bodies in union with His and we shall become sons as He, doing your will alone and so knowing your blessing.
Let us lay down our lives in faith, O LORD, declaring your glory to all with ears. Let our very lives be made in your image, in the image of your only Son. Let us become as He is as we eat His Body and drink His Blood.
Sat, 15 September 2018
O brothers in Christ,
in death and in life
you gave yourselves as one
for the sake of the flock;
for the cause of the faith
readily you shed your blood
to serve the growth of God’s Church –
pray we today will be zealous as you
in defending the faith with our lives;
by fasting and by prayer,
by standing courageously
before the courts of the world
and offering our flesh in sacrifice,
may we imitate you who imitated Christ
and so come with all our brothers
to His resurrection and life.
Shepherd us well even this day
from where you now stand at the Lord’s side,
that we might be unafraid to speak
and to live the truth in undying love.
O let us lay down our lives with you!
Sat, 15 September 2018
(Is.50:5-9a; Ps.116:1-6,8-9; Jas.2:14-18; Mk.8:27-35)
“I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
A simple enough statement made by our psalmist today, or so it seems. For what does it mean to walk with Jesus along the way of the Almighty God? What does such travel entail? Is it but to impart a word of peace and blessing to those in need, and continue merrily along? Is it but to say, “I have faith in God”? Words alone will not get us where we expect to be; we must walk in the way of the Lord, and to walk means to work.
And what is this work with which faith cannot dispense; what does it entail? It could not be more succinctly stated than it is by Jesus to the crowds and His disciples in today’s gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” It is in the Lord’s steps we must walk, and, yes, those steps lead inevitably to crucifixion. This cannot be avoided. Do you not hear the Lord’s rebuke of Peter? Then how can you begin to explicate a life in Christ without His cross fixed firmly upon your shoulder? How can you think that “the land of the living” may be found by easy means? It cannot.
Listen to the words of the Servant spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.” This and more the Lord did willingly to reveal the way you must walk – this all the children of Israel, all God’s holy ones, take upon themselves all for the sake of the Gospel.
But lest you lose heart in the face of all you must undergo, all the suffering you must accept to gain the kingdom, let me tell you something else. All those who take up the cross say also with the Servant, “He is near who upholds my right.” Do you hear what He says? “The Lord God is my help”! Do you understand its significance? We are with Christ and Christ is with God and so none of the blows of this world can hurt us. Indeed, they do not touch us, for it is Jesus who suffers all these blows for our sake. Though the cords may lacerate our skin, they cannot approach our soul, for the Lord indeed takes from us all “distress and sorrow” and saves our very lives. Thus the psalmist sings, “He has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” For He in whose sight we live our lives has already endured all evil, and now preserves us from its clutches. And so in this cross which seems so dark and foreboding, there is ultimate joy.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to lose our lives
for the sake of the Gospel;
if we take up our cross, you will certainly defend us,
and bring us to everlasting life.
YHWH, your work accomplish in us; the path of your Son let us walk. If we walk with you unto the Cross, we shall walk with you in Heaven. If from the Cross we turn, where shall we find our salvation? It is in suffering for the sake of the kingdom we find our freedom – let us lose our lives for you and your Son’s Gospel.
We must not think as men do, dear LORD, but as your Son instructs. If we wish to come to you, we cannot follow the way of the world. You are in Heaven and if to Heaven we wish to come then die we must to this empty life. Let not the darkness of this place encompass us, let it not touch our hearts, but let us take our refuge in the death of your Son and we shall be raised from the nether world.
Buffets and spitting may be our fate in this life, but if we endure all with faith in you, with your Son we will be made strong, and be justified in His Day.
Fri, 14 September 2018
O sorrowful Mother
whose heart was pierced by a sword,
who stood at the foot of the Cross
dying in spirit
as your Son died in the flesh…
Jesus was sent to suffer
and die for our sins,
and how intimately you shared
in the profound pain
He carried about all His life;
how preeminently you filled up
what was lacking in His suffering,
suffering the whole Church must share
with our crucified Lord –
pray we shall indeed enter into
the sacrifice of Christ your Son,
following in your wake,
O Mother of God;
pray we shall meet Him
along His Way of Sorrow
that His blood upon our souls
will carry us to Heaven,
where you stand at His side.
Fri, 14 September 2018
(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”
The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is.
Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord.
And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain.
A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice.
O LORD, let us put your Word into practice,
living as your only Son,
sharing in His Body and Blood.
YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst.
If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise you each day for your goodness and your grace that we might be sharers in your glory, that we might be members of your Body. The cup of salvation let us take up each morning and live all our days wedded in the blood of the Lamb.
What a gift you give us, LORD, in holy Mass; your own presence in the flesh and blood of your Son. In your Word and in your food let us build our home, and we shall become holy as you.
Thu, 13 September 2018
(Nm.21:4b-9; Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38; Phil.2:6-11; Jn.3:13-17)
“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name.”
And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”? Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”? It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.
Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation. By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins. Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him.
Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters. Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt. By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you. By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.
He loves us so, brothers and sisters. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin. But as it is He “has come down from heaven.” As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes. As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love. As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come. And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be saved from our sin
by the sacrifice of your only Son.
YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it. And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son? What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?
And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts? Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?
Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you. Raise us up with Christ, your Son.
Wed, 12 September 2018
O you of golden tongue,
how well you proved
the Word of God cannot be chained;
how well you revealed
its radiance to our ears and hearts…
unconquered by threats of death
and the sufferings
the world imposes,
you proclaimed the glory of God
and His presence with us
until the very end –
pray, O dear shepherd,
who held your flock
so close to your heart
that they became one body with you
that we all shall be so willing
to lay down our lives,
speaking and walking in
the Word the Lord gives us
to share with all our brothers in light.
Pray indeed God’s will be done
in all His holy children.
Wed, 12 September 2018
(1Cor.8:1-7,11-13; Ps.139:1-3,13-14,23-24; Lk.6:27-38)
“The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”
And what is your measuring stick, brother? Is it the ruler of this earth, limited by eyes of flesh? Or is it the yardstick of heaven, which reaches unto the Lord’s side and finds us in His sight? Do you toil on this plane alone, or do you climb the mountain where He sits, where He teaches? Do your ears hear only of the debits and credits recorded in the book of this world; or are they open to the word the Lord speaks, and the generous outpouring of His grace?
In our first reading Paul states: “‘Knowledge’ inflates, but love upbuilds.” What he means is that our knowledge of earthly things can do little but inflate our pride, and thinking that this is true knowledge makes us blind. The “knowledge” that we should seek is the love of God, which comes from God and teaches us all things. “If anyone loves God, that man is known by Him,” and living thus in His sight, in His light, we see all with heavenly vision. With this wisdom we understand that “there is no God but one” and that “an idol is really nothing”: all the idols man makes upon this earth are empty and vain, and all the teaching which comes from such has no resonance, falls short of truth.
Yet we are called to be patient with the weakness of others, with their failures in faith. We must “not be an occasion of sin” for others but always be prepared to pardon and love even those who hate us. For if someone does violence to us, what do we teach these who cannot measure beyond earthly passion if we do them violence in return? If we answer with violence, what language do we speak but that of the world? But we are called to converse with heavenly tongues, even with the word of our Lord, and cannot rightly be called His sons if we do not do so. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” And you are thus but saying that you are a child of the earth and not heaven, living in the flesh and not the spirit.
“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb,” is David’s song of joy to God. He gives thanks that he is “fearfully, wonderfully made.” And if made by God should we not reflect God and the love He has revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Should we not be as His Son? And so, should we not with David call upon the Lord to “probe” us and to “know [our] heart” and our “thoughts,” that He might straighten out our “crooked” ways and set us on the path His love prepares? Do we not desire the overflowing joy He brings? Then we must measure as He, with the heavenly yardstick that reaches up to where the Trinity is.
O LORD, if we could but learn to love as you,
how blessed we would be!
YHWH, let us learn your lesson of love, your perfect knowledge, by putting into practice love of all, even our worst enemies. If we repay evil with good, then we shall be like you; then we shall know as you know, that nothing surpasses love.
LORD, you know all things for you see all things, even the hidden matters of the heart. Nothing is hidden from your eye but all is bathed in your wonderful light. But we shall not find that light or your knowledge if we do not love, and love without measure. All remains dark for those lacking love.
Let us but be concerned for our brother’s welfare, LORD, that he shall not sin, that he shall turn from his sin to find you. And so, let us not judge, let us not condemn, or we shall not show him your holy face and he will never come to you – and we will not know you either. Let us rejoice to turn the other cheek, to give to all who would take from us, to be compassionate even toward those who hurt us. For then we will know you and your love.
Tue, 11 September 2018
O Mary, sweetest of creatures,
whose name on our lips
brings joy to our hearts…
inflamed with love toward God
in speaking your blessed name –
pray we shall call your name,
in our time of need,
that you will be quick to intercede
with your Son
for our salvation.
Washed in the water from His side
and in His holy blood,
pray we shall rise above the sea,
beyond all rebellion,
that obedient as you, His Handmaid,
we shall find favor with the Lord
and enter into Heaven,
our names written beside your own
in the Book of Life,
Tue, 11 September 2018
(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26)
“The world as we know it is passing away.”
And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours.
It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well.
To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home.
Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland.
O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world
and set our hearts on your kingdom,
which passes not away.
YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened on the fruits of this earth?
LORD, your Apostle’s counsel is a very wise one – to make use of the things of this world as if we were not using them at all, always with an eye to their temporal nature, that they are indeed passing away. For if we remember this world is passing, we shall better remember you who are eternal. You are all that matters.
You are all that matters, LORD, and so let us cry out for your presence, hungering for your kingdom. Let us give up all of this world that we might find you present to us, and make our home in your palace forever.
Mon, 10 September 2018
(1Cor.6:1-11; Ps.149:1-6,9; Lk.6:12-19)
“You have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Yes, “power went out from Him which cured all.” And as all were “healed of their diseases” and “those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured” by His touch, so we, too, are made whole in His sight; so we now become His holy children of light. For “the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God,” and His kingdom being the desire of our hearts, we come with “the whole crowd… trying to touch Him,” trying to reach His presence upon the mountain of God.
And He calls His apostles; He selects the Twelve. And the power to teach and to heal He bestows upon them and upon their descendants. His wisdom and His grace He imparts upon those to whom His Father leads Him; and this same power rests upon all those baptized in His name into His Spirit. And so, as these Twelve who are the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel, so it is that the redeemed of the Lord are, as Paul tells us, “to judge angels.” Yes, “the believers will judge the world.” This power which is the Lord’s alone He gives to all in the world to come, for all are to be infused with His wisdom, and His love.
And so are we not therefore “up to deciding everyday affairs”? “If the judgment of the world is to be [ours], are we to be thought unworthy of judging in minor matters?” And not only in cases “between one member of the Church and another,” but in all the details of our lives. If we are to judge with the wisdom and grace of God in heaven, we must here be able to see clearly the right from the wrong, or we have not His Spirit upon us – or we stand in opposition to His Truth and to His Church. “Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God’s kingdom.” If your conscience tells you otherwise and you do these things or fail to condemn these things, you are sadly misinformed; and rather than judge the nations with the Lord and His apostles, you shall be judged by them.
Come only unto His Word, brothers and sisters; come only unto His Hand. And you shall be cleansed of all evil and be made able to stand here in this world as in His kingdom. And you shall sing His “praise in the assembly of the faithful” and with them “exult in glory” before your “maker” and “king.” “This is the glory of all His faithful”; His holy song is sung by all the redeemed.
O LORD, your power is upon your apostles
and all your holy people;
for this grace let us praise your NAME.
YHWH, who can judge but those who are like you, those who are holy, those washed clean in the blood of your Son with the power of your Spirit upon them? No sinner can judge, for no sinner can see; he is blinded by his sin and immersed in selfishness, and so, how can he be just?
O LORD, anoint us as you have the apostles, with your Spirit, with your blessing, with the blood of your Son. Let healing graces pour forth from our souls as we walk the way He has shown. Then all shall rejoice at His coming, all shall exult in your glory, as all are judged fairly in your sight.
We are but poor creatures, LORD, and yet by your grace you make us as yourself, you call us to you… even to judge angels with you. Certainly it is never we who judge but you; we can only give our wills over to you and allow you to work for our good. For only you are good, and so only by you are we made good and able to do anything at all. Let us be your faithful disciples even this day.
Sun, 9 September 2018
(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11)
“Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast,
that of corruption and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains.
“Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.”
It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands.
But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.”
O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you?
YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man?
Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we think that you, O LORD and God, are somehow limited in the dispensing of your grace? Will not Jesus show us otherwise as He stretches His arms out on the Cross?
And what shall save those who do not accept His embrace, who would rather embrace this corrupt and wicked generation? Condemnation shall be pronounced over the rebellious soul, unless he repents of his evil. O LORD, let us eat only the bread of sincerity and truth; let us desire only your goodness upon all. O let us embrace your Son!
Sat, 8 September 2018
O slave to the slaves,
to those who came in chains
to the new world,
those whose dark skin
made them seem to eyes of flesh
less than men…
to you these were children of God,
souls to be saved by His love
and through His Church,
and so the thousands
baptized by your hands
celebrate your glorious sacrifice
this day in God’s presence –
pray for us, dear brother,
that the shackles of racial prejudice,
the pride that exalts man above man,
shall fall from our hands,
our tongues and our hearts,
and that all of the Lord’s holy people
will work so diligently
as you, His blessed slave,
for the care of the weakest among us
and the salvation of all souls.
Sat, 8 September 2018
(Is.35:4-7a; Ps.146:2,6-10; Jas.2:1-5; Mk.7:31-37)
“He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
The Lord makes all whole. He “sets captives free” from all their afflictions as He redeems us from all our sin. “Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you.” This is He who “has done all things well”; this is the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” By a word: “‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’” the deaf mute is healed by Jesus, causing all to be “exceedingly astonished.” And in their astonishment their eyes are opened, for “the Lord gives sight to the blind.” And so He who sustains “the fatherless and the widow” and “gives food to the hungry” stands before the eyes of all now; and so indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared… Then the tongue of the dumb will sing.” And so streams “burst forth in the desert” and “the lame leap like a stag,” for He comes – He comes to heal all nations.
Brothers and sisters, God chose “those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him.” He chose the blind; He chose the lame; He chose the deaf and the mute – He chose the hungry and oppressed. He chose you and me in all our sin, in all our weakness before Him, and came to release us from all fear. Making no distinction except to favor the soul who thirsts for Him, He came bringing “springs of water.” And these waters heal. And these waters set us free. And these waters remove our “shabby clothes” and don us “with gold rings and fine clothes” spun by the hand of God.
Brothers and sisters, “adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” For He is glorious indeed, and coming into His assembly with all your imperfections purged from your soul, you shall know such glory and not be able to withhold yourself from proclaiming such glory. Yes, you shall be one with “the Lord [who] shall reign forever.” He shall be “your God, O Zion, through all generations,” and with tongue loosened and renewed you shall sing “Alleluia” to the Lord forevermore. Know now His power upon you.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (2nd half) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, open our ears that we might hear your voice
and follow in your way.
YHWH, you chose the poor to inherit your kingdom. The deaf, the blind, the lame – to these you bring your healing touch. You come to those who recognize their need for you and take them to yourself. In your Son you fulfill your will for the good of all who desire you. For this we can but praise you.
O LORD God, you keep faith forever, you eternally offer forth love to us, the rivers of grace known in the work of Jesus. You can but love us; you can but desire our good. For you are all good, you are all love, and so you look with pity upon those in need, upon fallen man so separated from your love.
O may we all be cleansed of our sin! O may we all be made whole in your sight! Let the touch of your Son be upon us, dear LORD, that we might sing of your glory forever. O let our hearts be open to your love!
Fri, 7 September 2018
O Virgin who bore the Son of God,
who became the divine dwelling place
for the Creator of us all,
should we not celebrate your birth
the blessing of the generation
of you who signal our salvation?
Pray for us, dear Mother,
pray for all your children,
all who would call themselves
sons of God
and brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ...
pray that all generations
will call you blessed,
that all will hail you
as Mother of our Savior
and glorify the Lord
who has filled you with His grace.
You are one of us, dear Virgin Mary,
one of the human creation,
yet in you God deigns to dwell;
pray we shall all be made worthy
to be such a temple for the Lord.
Fri, 7 September 2018
(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30; Ps.13:6,Is.61:9; Mt.1:1-16,18-23
Note: I shall treat of both first readings)
“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”
“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child? And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.” She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence. It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”
The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself. First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world. The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings. God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.
And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High. She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.
And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters. We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith. He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –
may He be always with us.
YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins. May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you. In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.
So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race. He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence. O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!
By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us. Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.
Thu, 6 September 2018
(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39)
“The salvation of the just is from the Lord.”
“For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy.
It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.”
Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find.
O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands,
and we shall be made new and holy in your sight.
YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you whole and entire, that new we may be made in your presence.
You declare men holy, LORD, for you alone judge hearts. We cannot see, we cannot know who is just in your sight, for our vision in limited to the surface of things – all we see are acts, but you know the intentions of hearts, the thoughts of man and what he truly desires… and so you alone know who is worthy of your blessings.
Make us worthy, O LORD, to rejoice at your table, to drink wine in your kingdom, to have the blood of your Son upon us to wash us clean in this world. Make our skins new, our souls new, to receive the grace you impart to your faithful disciples.
Wed, 5 September 2018
(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11)
“Amazement at the catch they had made
seized him and all his shipmates.”
What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day.
Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day.
“All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers.
After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all.
O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done –
make us holy by your Word.
YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know?
O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to your Church you give the same. For those who follow Jesus, who leave all behind for the kingdom’s sake, shall know your abundant blessings even this day.
To what of this earth should we hold, LORD? What is of worth apart from you? Let us know nothing but your Son, the Christ, and we shall ascend your holy mountain, and become holy as you. This alone should be our goal, the desire of our heart must be to be united to you.
Praise you for all your blessings, LORD! But praise you most for calling us through your only Son to dwell in your Church, where you reside.
Tue, 4 September 2018
(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44)
“To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God,
because that is why I was sent.”
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising.
Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives.
Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace.
And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul.
O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust,
and we shall be healed of all our ills
and grow unto the kingdom.
YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her apostles.
You dwell in Heaven, O LORD, far above our mortal ways, and we take life and do our work only through you who call us. Let us be your co-workers, branches of the vine that is your Son, and your Church shall be built up in truth, in the power that is only upon Him.
Let all be healed of their infirmities, LORD, that all might indeed serve you well; raise us from our bed of pain, release us from the grasp of the devil, and we shall work for you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let all be done as you will and all shall rejoice in your glory.
It is you who have made us, LORD; we are but your poor creatures. But with the blood of your Son coursing through our veins we rise above this dying flesh and make our home in the Spirit. Let us grow in your House this day.
Mon, 3 September 2018
(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37)
“We have the mind of Christ.”
The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is.
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence.
“He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”?
Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light.
O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us,
that our speech may be as your Son’s.
YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence.
Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit?
O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; your dominion shall not pass away.
Holy are you, LORD, and no one can know you who does not seek your holiness. But you bless with great gifts those who love you and praise your NAME – your wisdom you grant to the spiritual man.
Let us listen to your voice calling to our souls. Let all darkness and sin be cast from our hearts. O let us be faithful to your Word! and we shall find ourselves in your kingdom on high.
Sun, 2 September 2018
O great Shepherd,
watchman of the House of God
and protector of His flock,
though in the monastery you would have stayed,
when called to the Chair of Peter
you guided the Church well
through difficult times –
pray that as difficult days continue
a firm hand may continue to be found
at the helm of MotherChurch.
O pray that the faith be strengthened,
that the Rock upon which this House is set
will remain unshakable
and its light, its wisdom,
serve ever as a beacon
calling straying souls
into the Lord’s welcoming arms.
Humility and holiness
may all our leaders embody,
that by the Word of God on their tongues
and His wounds in their hands
all the poor of the earth
will be carried unto Heaven.
Sun, 2 September 2018
(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30)
“Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men
but on the power of God.”
Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks.
Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture.
And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life.
O LORD, open our eyes that we might see and know
the blessing you bring us by your Son’s Cross.
YHWH, let us follow your Word and your way, the way of your only Son, the way of the Cross that leads to life. Of Christ crucified let us speak; with all our lives let us give witness to Him. Then we shall be obedient to your Word as He – then we shall make your wisdom our own.
O LORD, let us meditate on the Word that comes to us in Scripture, that comes walking among us in your Son. All the day let our hearts be set on the illumination your Word brings. Though in the Word we are chastised for our sins, though it lead us along a narrow path; if we observe your precepts and follow in the way of the Christ, you shall guard our steps and keep us from every evil. For then we shall be wiser than all our foes, wiser than any other soul, for then your Spirit will be with us; His power will be upon us.
May the Word of Truth come from our Savior’s mouth and lived in His very flesh help us to walk straight through the midst of our enemies and come to you.
Sat, 1 September 2018
(Dt.4:1-2,6-8; Ps.15:1-5; Jas.1:17-18,21b-22,27; Mk.7:1-8,14-15,21-23)
“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.”
Welcome it, yes, and “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” For how else shall you show that the word of God is planted in you except that you bear fruit? All that is planted well indeed grows and bears fruit in the light of God.
Brothers and sisters, God “willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits.” “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?” Indeed the Law of God is whole, the Law of God is perfect – the Law of God gives life. For this reason Moses instructs the people: “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it,” for the Law is holy as He, and keeping it we prove ourselves to be so holy; keeping it we cannot but “give evidence of [our] wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” Yes, with the Lord “there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” His light is perfect, and His light is eternal, and we must be children of His holy light.
But what of those for whom the washing of hands has become more important than keeping the commandments of God? What about those over whom Isaiah prophesies: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”? Woe to these, for they have not the word of truth planted in them and so only evil things “come out from within,” and thereby they are defiled. Oh may the Lord never pronounce over our souls: “In vain do they worship me”! Oh let us never be producers of the evils of this world!
“Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” and he “who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue” knows the gifts of the Creator and walks in His holy light. No “great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him.” For His truth is indeed within us and this word comes straight to His ear. The beat of our hearts is known to our God as we worship in spirit and in truth. The only food that saves souls is laid upon our table. The Word of God we consume and so are made His children, caring for “orphans and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unstained by the world.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Is In Your Heart" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we walk according to your Word,
we shall be saved.
YHWH, your Word you have planted within us and so call us to follow in your way. Your Law comes to our ears that we might observe your commandments and so have life. But if we do not welcome the Word you give, if we do not do as we are commanded, we shall be empty vessels in which corruption may find a home.
O LORD, let us walk blamelessly before you, cherishing the truth in our hearts and guarding our tongues from all evil. You give us the grace to approach perfection; you are close to us when we call upon you, when you and your glory are our desire. May we be innocent of all sin, our hands clean from all defilement, and we shall be blessed all our days.
Let your Word live in us and grow in us, dear God. Let there be no room in us for greed or deceit or any of the wickedness known to man. With our very lives let us honor you – O let us be truly wise!
Fri, 31 August 2018
(1Cor.1:26-31; Ps.33:12-13,18-21; Mt.25:14-30)
“He called in His servants and handed His funds over to them
according to each man’s abilities.”
All comes from the hand of God. Yes. Do you see this? God it is who provides any talent you possess on this earth and “God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus.” Not yourself. It is not from you any power comes. God has proven His power by choosing “the lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing,” and making them strong. This is you. You are nothing; and yet you have all things in God.
Brothers and sisters, “mankind can do no boasting before God.” How could they? It is He who looks down from heaven and “sees all mankind”; it is He who chooses “His own inheritance.” It is He who places in our hands the “silver pieces” we employ on this earth – and it is He who expects us to use well that which we have been given. To Him we must answer for all things. And if we are “industrious and reliable” in our service, it is He who will declare, “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs.” On earth as it is in heaven… If our work is done well here, it shall lead to the greater fruits, and we shall “share [our] Master’s joy!” But it is always His joy to which we come and not our own.
God is all things to us. “He has made [Jesus] our wisdom, and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption.” All that we have is from Him, and without Him we could not live. And should you be resentful of so great a gift? Should you return the gift of Himself He lays before you on your table? Or should you not rather take it up, make it your own, and by it produce fruit according to the abilities He has shared with you? This is all He expects of you: that the graces He shares with you, you share with others.
“In His holy name we trust.” Yes, “our soul waits for the Lord” and “in Him our hearts rejoice.” For He does not fail us. What He gives He does not take back: it is we who reject His love; it is He who increases the yield within us. “Brothers, you are among those who are called,” and so be among “those who hope for His kindness.” For His kindness shall but enrich you each day as you make His will your own and find your “boast in the Lord.” Praise Him for His gifts and for His grace, for by His grace the gifts He provides become eternally fruitful in our lives. Alleluia!
O LORD, enrich us with your blessings
as we serve you humbly in this world.
YHWH, let us trust in your NAME and in your NAME alone. How can we trust in ourselves or in the riches of this world when all this is but dust? But in your hands this dust we are becomes as gold, for we become as you who are so far above this world.
O make us your own, dear LORD! Help us to look to you, to wait for you, to trust in you for all things. May our tongues praise your NAME and our hands work in your service, and then, O how we shall be blessed! For truly you will be with us, and we with you.
Into your joy let us come, O LORD, the joy that surpasses any joy of this earth, the grace that passes not away. Let us boast in you, that you are great and do marvelous things for those who trust in you, those who know your love. From death let us be delivered – into your House let us come.
O LORD, increase your yield in us; we are but instruments of your holy love, your poor children whom you raise from the dust.
Thu, 30 August 2018
(1Cor.1:17-25; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt.25:1-13)
“The world did not come to know Him through its ‘wisdom’.”
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever,” says the Lord God. And in its place we find the Gospel, “the message of the cross,” which is “complete absurdity to those who are headed to ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.” It is this wisdom which saves us, even as the wisdom of the world falls to dust.
The wisdom of the world tells us to take our rest, to find our pleasure in the things of this life; the wisdom of God instructs us to “keep [our] eyes open” for the coming of the kingdom of God, wherein we shall find eternal rest. The wisdom of the world has only the torch to offer; like the foolish bridesmaids, it brings no oil for its lamp, for it can see nothing beyond its eyes – its immediate physical concerns are its preoccupation. The wisdom of God knows that all depends on the oil of the lamp, and so it calls us to find our souls in the Word of God, which is a flask whose contents never recede but rather increase with use and preserve the soul’s burning brightly before its Creator. The wisdom of the world is “wordy,” is empty rambling with no foundation in truth; God’s wisdom is founded in silence, pregnant with the power and authority of all ages.
“The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples.” What can stand that is not rooted in Him? What has purpose that is not spoken by His mouth? Apart from Him nothing comes to be or lasts. And does not the Lord thwart the ideas of the human mind most perfectly in the crucifixion of His Christ? Making “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” turns the vain strivings of men upside down and exposes them in all their emptiness. Here is my Word, He says; here is my Love. To this sacrifice does He call us all, that we might celebrate at His wedding feast and not be barred outside in the cold world. For indeed all that is of the world comes to nothing, “but the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” And it is His design that we become children of light, shining forever in the light of His wisdom, not burning to ashes in the deceit of our hearts.
In the cross all our empty words fall to naught as we are confronted with the truth of our sin and the love of our God. Thus our eyes are opened. May they remain so, fixed on this lamp which shines in the darkness of the night. By no other means will we come to know God and the meaning of our lives.
O LORD, let our eyes be open
with the light of your wisdom
that we might see your coming in the Cross of Christ.
YHWH, the plans of the nations you bring to naught to show all souls where wisdom lies: it rests with you and in the Cross of your Son, for the light of our minds is dim indeed without your Word to feed it.
How can we even speak of you, LORD, you who are beyond the realm of our words? We cannot determine whence we have come and do not know when our end shall be fulfilled… and so, how can we know anything? All we know is what you tell us through your Son in the love He offers.
Jesus has died for our sins. This is all we need to know, LORD, for such knowledge, such faith, will bring us to your doorstep; and by the light of the Spirit we shall be able to enter in – to enter into your presence and so come to know all things by your grace and mercy.
Dead are we apart from you, LORD, dead in our sin and in the emptiness of our minds. But the blood of your Son enlivens our souls that we might come to know the wisdom beyond all ages in His salvation. O may we be wed to you!
Wed, 29 August 2018
(1Cor.1:1-9; Ps.145:1-7; Mt.24:42-51)
“He will strengthen you to the end,
so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Brothers and sisters, “you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord provides all you need, generously and faithfully. You “have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people” and so “have been richly endowed [by God] with every gift,” that you might fulfill the call He places upon your soul, that by His grace you might indeed be holy. And so you should realize “the favor He has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” and “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to gain all the blessings the Lord God is ready to pour forth upon you.
Brothers and sisters, “keep a watchful eye and [do] not allow [your] house to be broken into.” “Be prepared” for the Lord’s coming. Let His every gift be at work in you, that readiness will ever be yours. Do not think as the foolish and worthless servant, “My master is a long time in coming,” and turn thus away from His light, sagging into the world’s darkness. Such a thought brings only death and the punishment of the Lord. For never is He long in coming. Always is He present to us; ever is His Spirit here within us when we remain faithful to Him. He it is who is of life and light – it is we who grow blind to His grace and are slow to come to His eternal presence. Forsake not His gifts, which sustain us at all times.
Here is cause for rejoicing. Here is the reason David sings, “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever” (revealing thus the newness of life which is ever upon us): “God is faithful, and it was He who called [us] to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” No more than this need we know. For this reason “generation after generation praises [His] works” and “publish[es] the fame of [His] abundant goodness.” It is this which brings His praise to our throats. For indeed in His grace He has called us to be as His only Son, and of course He is faithful to His call. And so by faithfulness all is ours in the Lord, and on that Day His blessings shall be full. Remaining in His light, growing in His gifts and favors, there shall be no “wailing then and grinding of teeth” for our souls – no, “happy that servant whom His master discovers at work on His return!”
O LORD, let us be prepared and waiting
for your coming Day.
YHWH, strengthen us to the end that we might be blameless on the Day your Son returns; make us your servants, faithful and true, praising you ever for your goodness to us, and we shall be ready on the Day of His revelation.
LORD, great are you and highly to be praised, for you provide all the gifts we need as we await Jesus’ coming. You give us speech and knowledge, and consecrate us in the Name of your Son. May we be like Him whom you sent for our salvation, that with favor you might ever look upon our lives.
As your Apostle has borne witness to your glory, LORD, so let us proclaim your greatness this day, that from generation to generation your NAME might be known and all souls be prepared for your coming Day. Let us serve you with diligence and with love, never forgetting that He whom we serve loves us more than we could ever return, remembering always that you are the Most High God who has created us in your image, in the image of your only Son.
Tue, 28 August 2018
O witness to the Truth,
to the Light that has come among us,
you gave your very life
for the sake of Christ,
who redeemed us in His blood,
blood you shed with your Savior;
you who were a pillar of iron
against the whole land
and against its king,
you who stood so strong
against the lust of the world,
suffering its persecution so willingly,
fortified even in death
by the Lord and His promise –
how can our meager lives
measure up to your blessed sacrifice;
how can we who are so weak of knee
endure our exile so bravely?
Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ
both in word and in the giving of your life,
that our blood may be joined to your own
and so to that of our holy Lord.
Tue, 28 August 2018
(2Thes.3:6-10,16-18; Ps.128:1-2,4-5; Mt.23:27-32)
“You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork.”
“Anyone who would not work should not eat” was the rule laid down by Paul among the Thessalonians. A man must earn his bread. And as on earth, so in heaven. For who shall come to the fruits of the kingdom if they are not as Paul, who has labored “to the point of exhaustion” for the sake of the reign of God? This is the “straight path” laid down for us by all the apostles: in the Lord’s name we must walk “day and night.” It is work which produces fruit.
And what fruit will the scribes and Pharisees know? Their work is to “erect tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the saints,” those who have been murdered by their forefathers. Yet they join these “in shedding the prophets’ blood,” thus making the tombs they erect all the more vain; yes, they shall “fill up the vessel measured off by [their] forefathers” by crucifying the Christ, the only Son of God. And this work they do shall have its fruit as well – it shall lead their souls to the gates of hell, where only the same blood they shed will save them.
We will be judged according to our deeds, brothers and sisters. All is seen by God who looks upon the heart and whose eyes are everywhere. Let not your works be empty, or just so empty will be your heart, will be your place in the reign to come. Each day our souls are required of us; ever the Lord seeks fruit upon our tree. So, if you wish to “see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life,” if you long to know always the blessing of God, then “walk in His ways.” “Fear the Lord” who holds your life in His hands and do as He commands. Then “happy shall you be, and favored”; then the fruits of the kingdom you shall taste even here. And even the death you die and the blood you shed shall not remove this favor – by it “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be fulfilled in you. Amen.
O LORD, let us work for the life found in your Son,
and not His death and so our own.
YHWH, let us be blessed to walk in your way, to follow wherever you lead – to do your work in this world till the end of our days. Then we shall be truly happy, for then our fruit shall bring us unto Heaven.
O LORD, let us be your fruit; let us be your handiwork, made in your image, living as your Son. If we can but imitate Jesus, laying down our lives as all your prophets and apostles have done, then we shall join their ranks in the Body of Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Your kingdom come, LORD. All vanity, all emptiness of heart and mind and soul and body take from us – let us be filled with your holy presence. Your kingdom within us let us know and live, breathing your Holy Spirit, bleeding as your Son… our spirits one with you and your love.
Why should we be without you, LORD, when you live at our very hearts?
Mon, 27 August 2018
O shepherd made anew
by Him who is within,
Him who made us all,
the Light above and beyond
who gave His life,
His flesh as food that we might live –
pray that the Lord and God of all
will break through our deafness
and dispel our blindness,
that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit
and we too will be created
saved by His grace from the sin
that has kept us from Him
and thirsting for the wisdom
which became your own,
with which you shepherded His people
apart from the things He created
to His very Beauty itself,
that all souls might rest in Him
who made them.
Mon, 27 August 2018
(2Thes.2:1-3,14-17; Ps.96:10-13; Mt.23:23-26)
“He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with His constancy.”
“Brothers, stand firm.” Be not “easily agitated or terrified” “on the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” This should not preoccupy your thoughts because this is not in your mind to know or your hands to control. The day and the hour are with God alone. Rather, you should pray that the Lord will strengthen your hearts “for every good work and word.” This is what is in your power, and effectively accomplishing the Lord’s will thus, all fear will be removed from your souls.
Brothers and sisters, be not like the scribes and Pharisees, the “blind guides” who “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Distracted by the details, they inevitably neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith” – those for which the Lord calls us above all to be concerned. And so their vision and their actions are not whole, and they are not holy. Failing to see as God sees and to do as God does, they indeed become blind guides frittering the life of the Lord away in anxiety for external matters. Let this not be the fate of your soul.
Children, know of a certain that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself… loved us and in His mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” We must make this hope our own. For “the Lord is King. He has made the world firm, not to be moved,” and we must be as immovable as He in our faith and in our work. We should not doubt that “He governs the peoples with equity,” that in fairness all are looked upon in His sight, and so, that if we strive to do His will with all our hearts He will indeed bless us.
Friends, we should know that, though not complete, though He does not stand before us in final judgment yet, still it is so that “the day of the Lord is here,” in our midst today. His rule has always been and has come to us in this place. And what we do now leads only to that day – the kingdom should be growing within us at all times. If we know not His justice and His constancy at work in our days, then indeed we have reason to fear and should heed the Lord’s rebuke. But if we strive with Him for holiness, any fear itself will be holy and lead us only to the joy that makes “the heavens… glad and the earth rejoice.” For each day we rejoice with them in the presence of our God.
O LORD, make us constant as you
in doing good works,
in dispensing justice and mercy according to your Word
– and have mercy upon our own souls.
YHWH, it is you who judge the earth, who come to rule all the world; your justice you bring to every man’s soul, preparing him for your Day. And there is no need for us to fear if we are striving to do your will. Rather, we should rejoice at your glorious coming!
O LORD, let us set our souls each day on your Word and your work, and your love and mercy shall meet us where we are and bring us soon to where you live. Even should we have to endure chastisement as the Pharisees, what should this bring us but a holy joy? For by such words of truth you make us in your image, if we but listen and respond in kind.
All the world shall rejoice at your coming, dear God; let us not be blind to such wonder and glory but set our hearts on that Day, cleansing our souls of every stain of sin by your grace and mercy, by your surpassing justice. Let no woe be on us in your Day but only your consolation, only the joy of your salvation, which you offer forth even this day.
Sun, 26 August 2018
O tearful mother
whose persistent cries
for the soul of your son
were heard in time
by the Lord our God
and so led to his conversion,
to his becoming
not only a Catholic Christian
but a bishop and doctor of the Church,
a saint like yourself –
pray for the prayers of all mothers
who cry for their wayward sons;
pray indeed that all souls may turn
and come to know so deeply
the love of our Lord and God
and the blessing upon
His holy Catholic Church.
Pray that all who stray,
many as they are,
shall be raised from the death of sin
and come to the life of Heaven,
where you wait with your son
to welcome all his brothers.
Sun, 26 August 2018
(2Thes.1:1-5,11-12; Ps.96:1-5; Mt.23:13-22)
“Which is more important, the offering
or the altar which makes the offering sacred?”
The Pharisees in their blindness taught: “If a man swears by the altar it means nothing, but if he swears by the gift on the altar he is obligated.” Indeed, “How blind [they] are!” For what do they do but exalt that which is secondary beyond that which is primary? What do they do but invert logic?
And what is the significance of their blindness? Why does it bring them “an evil day”? What the Pharisees essentially do in their thinking and their teaching is place the created ahead of the Creator, themselves before their God. For we are the gift upon the altar and the Lord Jesus the altar that receives and consumes our offering. It is He who makes us holy, and not we Him; it is we “who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and not vice-versa. He is above; we are below. The divine order of things must not be skewed. Yes, “the Lord made the heavens” and we who dwell below the heavens, and we must bow down before Him and praise His name.
“Awesome is He, beyond all gods.” Above every created thing He stands, He towers, for all these things, including our souls, are in His almighty hands. “All the gods of the nations are things of naught,” idols of so much dust and sand, devised alone by human hands and serving to inflate the pride of those who make them. These we must leave aside. Our false ideas we must abandon. To Him alone must we come.
“Tell His glory among the nations,” brothers and sisters, “for great is the Lord and highly to be praised.” It is He who is “seated on [the] throne” of heaven, He alone who merits our songs of praise. So let our song rise up to Him from our place upon His altar; let our offering be acceptable in His sight. Let us pray “that our God may make [us] worthy of His call, and fulfill by His power every honest intention and work of faith,” that “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in [us] and [we] in Him, in accord with the gracious gift of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” May He make us holy.
O LORD, let us sing of your salvation
as we strive to put you before all things
and grow constantly in your love.
YHWH, you are seated on the throne of Heaven, far above all gods – you alone are worthy of our praise, for you alone are holy. All things of this world let us leave behind to find your glory.
LORD, bless our work and make us worthy of your call; in faith let us endure every persecution and trial and be fruitful in your sight, that we might be found in your kingdom. There is nothing but you that we should desire – may you alone be praised by all the ends of the earth.
How shall we lose our blindness, LORD, and come to see that you are all in all? How shall we learn to put you first at all times, always remembering your holy NAME? How might we be blessed to announce your salvation in all we think, say, and do?
By you alone let us live our lives, O LORD and God, striving to do your will in all things by the grace of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we shall know you and find you; through His Cross we shall come to your kingdom.
Sat, 25 August 2018
(Jos.24:1-2a,15-17,18b; Ps.34:2-3,9,16-21; Eph.5:21-32; Jn.6:60-69)
“Do you also want to leave?”
How like the questions pertaining to the marriage vows is our Lord’s inquiry of the Twelve, and Joshua’s statement to the Israelites he has just brought out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve,” Joshua says, “as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” And Jesus seeks to find from His apostles if they will be like “many of His disciples [who] returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” after His teaching on the Bread of Life.
Do you take Jesus to be your husband? To honor and obey, to love… to “become one flesh” with Him who is “the Holy One of God”? You are free to leave, or you are free to come unto Him. Though He knows your heart and your choice, yet you are free to make it as you please. How shall you answer the Lord?
Paul renders a beautiful account of the love of husband and wife, relating it well “to Christ and the Church.” “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies… no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church.” And what can the good wife do when loved “as Christ loved the Church and handed Himself over for her,” bleeding and dying on the cross to wash away all our sins – what can she do when confronted with such utter sacrifice for her sake alone but revere her husband and respect his every wish? In loving such a man she finds her joy. (How the wife of Joshua must have beamed to hear her husband’s public declaration that he and his household would follow the Lord! Who could argue with such blessed authority?)
And now, what of you and I, brothers and sisters, we who have the most faithful husband of all? Do we “bless the Lord at all times”? Does our “soul glory in the Lord” as King David’s today? Do we realize how He “watches over all [our] bones” and makes them pure as His own? Or will we be fool enough to leave His loving embrace? The words must come from your mouths as well, and mean them: “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Marriage" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, to whom else shall we go,
to whom else shall we be wed…
for you alone are God?
YHWH, let us never leave you but be wed to your Son and become as His Body in this world. O let His Spirit be upon us to bring us to eternal life! What need we do but be obedient to Him and serve one another in His love? You will certainly watch over and guide us safely in all things if we are united to Jesus.
He left you, O Father in Heaven, to be joined to us, to save us, to pour out His blood as a cleansing shower to purify us from all sin, that we might be able to join you in Heaven with Him. In splendor may He present us to you; let us be faithful until the coming of His Day.
Flesh of His flesh and blood of His blood, you cannot but look upon us with favor, dear LORD. And so, let us praise you all our days, never turning from worship of you, the one true God. Let all your children serve you alone.
Fri, 24 August 2018
O guardian angel of poor children
who formed them in the image of Christ,
an education of body and soul
you provided those most in need,
those most impressionable
and thirsting for the Lord’s care,
and led so many others
in this work for the least of our brothers –
pray we shall become fellow workers
with Jesus in the cause of truth
and teach with deep love,
the greatest patience,
and profound humility,
the souls He places in our hands.
May the desire to see all
attain eternal life
be that which most impels us
and especially those whose responsibility
is the formation of Christian youth,
that all men might rejoice at the straight paths
these walk to the kingdom.
Your zeal despite persecution
may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Fri, 24 August 2018
O loyal subject of the Lord
and of His Church on earth,
though a king
you did not exalt yourself
but listened rather
to the words of your Savior
and chose to serve Him,
doing His work in this world:
the poor you cared for,
your children you raised
in the teaching of Christ,
and for all those in your reign
you sought true justice
and maintained concern
for their spiritual welfare –
pray we poor souls
will emulate your desire
for penance and prayer,
and your faithful obedience
to God and MotherChurch.
May we be blessed as your sons
to have your wisdom in our ears,
a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Fri, 24 August 2018
(Ez.43:1-7; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.23:1-12)
“The temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Certainly the vision of Ezekiel is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His founding the Church, the New Jerusalem, here amongst us. In this Temple He has “set the soles of [His] feet”; here He “dwell[s] among the Israelites forever.” For though the temple in Jerusalem shall be restored, it shall again be destroyed, and forever. In the Catholic Church now does His presence remain. Through it and through its teaching “the earth [has] shone with His glory.”
“Truth shall spring out of the earth”: Jesus is born in our midst and walks among us; “justice shall look down from heaven”: through Him the light of God shines upon us, bringing salvation to all souls. And it is in His Church truth and justice remain, “glory dwelling in our land.”
And “like the roaring of many waters” is His teaching, which comes with power, which comes with authority. And this teaching He leaves in the apostles’ hands. As “the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers” and Jesus has succeeded these, so do the apostles succeed Jesus; thus we must “do everything and observe everything they tell us” – the Spirit is upon the Church, which does not teach in error despite the sins of its members. These must be respected; it is upon these, and so upon Jesus’ teaching, the Catholic faith is founded.
And what if some refused to enter into this Temple and share in His glory present in His Church? What if they did not share the wholeness of His thought or receive His precious Body and Blood, offered each day in the New Jerusalem? Their eyes would be as blind and their vision as limited as those who quote our gospel today to prove that the Church should not call its priests “Father”. They would not be able to see that what Jesus teaches His disciples in telling them to avoid “marks of respect in public and of being called ‘Rabbi’” is to avoid having themselves inflated with pride. If these blind souls were correct, then no one could be called “teacher” either, for this is more the word the Lord wishes us to avoid. And they would have to condemn Paul for calling himself “father” of the Church in Corinth (1Cor.4:15). Such absurdity ensues when one has not the wholeness of Truth, but looks only on appearances.
Brothers and sisters, where would we be without the teaching of the apostles? In a word, we wouldn’t have Jesus. It is from Him their teaching comes, bringing His glory to the ends of the earth. In this Temple let us dwell, His Word and Sacrament sustaining our lives.
O LORD, your Son has humbled Himself
to walk among us;
the soles of His feet are set in this Temple, your Church
– may we follow in His steps.
YHWH, let us humble ourselves that we might be exalted in glory with you. You humble yourself to come among us as a Man; let us be as your only Son and so gain the favors of Heaven. Here in your Church make your home, in the soul of every believer.
And, LORD, let us have a reverent respect for those you place in position of authority, especially here in your Church. They carry your power through the Word of your Son, becoming as His body and blood with the teaching of the Spirit He breathes upon them. We cannot disobey their teaching without disobeying you, and so let us be faithful to your apostles. Then we shall come to know your surpassing glory.
What you revealed to Ezekiel help us to know and live this day – your glory here in your Temple bring to its fulfillment, we pray. In your kindness you come to us, Truth walking in our midst. The justice and peace of your Son let us find as we follow in His way of salvation.
Thu, 23 August 2018
O apostle of the Lamb,
man without guile
led by love to the Lord,
you who declared Jesus Son of God
and King of Israel,
whose eyes of faith were illumined
by angels’ wings –
pray we shall be found by the Christ
under our fig tree
in peace, in prayer,
and carry with you His holy Gospel
to the very ends of the earth.
With you as a foundation stone,
one of the Twelve,
may the Bride of the Lamb
be led to her Husband,
her heart burning with love
for Him alone;
her soul thirsting only for God’s presence,
may her eyes be opened
to see her Lord.
To vision of Heaven pray we all come
by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Thu, 23 August 2018
(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51)
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”
Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.
And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.
The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God
and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;
let us have eyes that look for Him,
hearts that long for Him.
YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us. Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us. And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.
Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations. And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built. The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.
O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Wed, 22 August 2018
O penitential soul
whose eyes saw the Lord,
whose ears heard His voice
calling all to the Cross,
obediently you accepted
the afflictions that are necessary
to attain union with God
and His surpassing glory –
pray that fearful souls
like our own,
which turn in complaint
from every torment and trouble,
may be blessed with a measure
of your selfless devotion,
that the unfathomable treasure
of the Lord’s grace
might be our own
as we endure,
and even desire as you,
the pains that pave the road to Heaven.
Then we shall know Christ even as you
and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Wed, 22 August 2018
(Ez.36:23-28; Ps.51:12-15,18-19,Ez.36:25; Mt.22:1-14)
“Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”
The Lord desires to “prove the holiness of [His] great name,” which has been “profaned among the nations” by the children of Israel. And so He determines to “gather [them] from all the foreign lands,” to bring them back from their exile from His sight, and bless them again upon their “own land.” He will “cleanse [them] from all [their] impurities… a new heart and… a new spirit within” them, and they shall be “careful to observe [His] decrees”: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
But when the time comes for the reign of God to be fulfilled in their midst, when all is prepared and they are invited to the “wedding banquet for His Son”… when indeed the Lord would wed the Israelites to Himself by the grace and blessing of the Messiah – they refuse the call. “Come to the feast,” He cries out; eat your fill of my delights. But they make excuses and even kill those by whom the invitation comes (laying hands even on the only Son). And so the chosen city having rejected His offer, the Lord tells His servants to “go out into the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone [they] come upon.” So do the apostles preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth; so are all now called to the wedding feast. But will all be prepared?
To “the chief priests and elders of the people” Jesus addresses His parable of the wedding banquet today, for it is these who refuse to hear Him – it is they who reject the call of the Lord. And so, indeed, to the nations does His voice go; the Gentiles now hear the call. And we, we who though founded firmly upon the rock of Judaism are in such great number of Gentile races, do we heed the call of the Lord and prepare our hearts to receive His food? We are now the chosen city and the banquet table is now spread before us each day: His Body and Blood is the greatest food of which we could ever hope to partake. But have we the wedding garment necessary to remain in His banquet hall, in His Church, or do we wander in ignorance of the gift and graces before us?
Brothers and sisters, we must pray not to be cast from the Lord’s holy presence. We must seek the purity of heart we need to receive His blessing, to partake of the food of His altar and grow in His grace. We shall only avoid being thrown “out into the night” if we nurture the light that is with us and prepare well to meet our Jesus. Only then will the Holy Spirit here remain.
O LORD, made pure in Jesus’ cleansing blood
may we rejoice with Him in your kingdom.
YHWH, you invite us to your wedding banquet, you call us to the feast prepared by your own hands, for you would wed yourself to us, making us your own holy children. But we must turn from our sins; with contrite hearts only can we approach your table and feed upon the Body of your Son. How shall we find our heavenly homeland if not cleansed in His blood? How shall we celebrate your glory if not renewed by your Spirit?
O LORD, bring us back to our own land, that with you we might dwell for eternity. Your light and your love make our own; you alone let us worship. Into your Temple let us come, that we might feast upon your Word, and upon your Son’s Body and Blood. Then what would we be but your children? What would we be but one with you?
A white wedding garment of purity provide for our souls, dear LORD, that we might not be cast from your presence but glory in you forevermore.
Tue, 21 August 2018
O Queen of Heaven and earth,
you radiate the glory of God,
for now you stand at His right Hand
in the heavenly kingdom.
Clothed with the sun,
the moon under your feet
and a crown of twelve stars
upon your head,
you give light to all souls
who thirst for the grace
our Lord and King
pours upon us through your intercession.
O how the angels rejoiced,
how the heavens rang with praise
when the Son led you into His presence
clothed in gold
to be forever His Bride!
O pray for us,
dearest Queen and Mother,
that we too shall be led in
among your maiden companions
to stand in God’s glory forever.
Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Tue, 21 August 2018
(Ez.34:1-11; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.20:1-16)
“I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”
How grateful we should be that “the Lord is [our] shepherd,” for with Him we want for nothing. Indeed, our “cup overflows” and “only goodness and kindness follow [us] all the days of [our] life”; for it is He who watches over our every step, and He is only goodness, He is only kindness – His mercy endures forever.
How the Lord’s hand contrasts with the false shepherds’ of the house of Israel. These “pastured themselves and did not pasture [the Lord’s] sheep.” They “fed off their milk, wor[e] their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings,” but the sheep they allowed to be “scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.” But where these shepherds “lorded it over [the sheep of Israel] harshly and brutally,” the Lord Himself is “generous.” Though under them the sheep “were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts,” the Lord, the owner of the vineyard, the Good Shepherd, goes forth at all times of day seeking every straying sheep, gathering all into His fold and seeing that we have wages enough to feed each of our families.
And whether the laborer works many hours or few, yet he is provided all his needs. Here, of course, is notice that the Gentiles, who come late to salvation history, enter the kingdom before the Jews, who have always been in the Lord’s house. Here is word that the generosity of our God extends to all, that His loving arms will not be shortened. And we may learn, too, from the response of the workers to the owner’s questioning why they have been “idle all day” – “No one has hired us” – that the Lord looks upon the heart and pays us not so much for the work accomplished but for the intention of our will. For these would have worked all day had they earlier been approached.
“In verdant pastures He gives me repose.” In the Lord’s loving arms we all find our home. Had He not come Himself to shepherd us, still we would be wandering alone. But as it is we work now in His vineyard, sharing in the very blood of the Son. As it is we are well cared for by a Father whose generosity knows no bounds. He whose mercy alone could redeem us has come with His staff to guide us on the “right paths” that lead to His kingdom. And so we say, gratefully, “Thank you, Jesus, for your kindness.”
O LORD, thank you for your generosity in saving us;
your Son is the true Shepherd, the Shepherd of love –
pasture us well this day in Him.
YHWH, because you are our Shepherd, we are well cared for; we have all we need for the day. If our desire is to do your will, to work for you in your vineyard, you will reward us well. For it is your desire but to see your children safe in your House, and to achieve this goal you are diligent in seeking us out.
To this end, you send your own Son to take on our flesh and blood; He becomes one of us that we might become one with you, LORD, fed by His Body and Blood. He shepherds us into your kingdom with great care.
O let us work for you, LORD, day in and day out! Let our hearts not be set on the wage we receive but on doing your will. For if we are with you in your vineyard, though the sun beat down on us, we shall be at peace. Nothing can disturb the soul set on serving you – our cup overflows with the wonder of your presence.
Let us be blessed to be gathered into your pasture, LORD, with all our brothers and sisters.
Mon, 20 August 2018
O simple priest
who became Shepherd
of the universal Church
and defended her with courage
against the errors of the age,
you did not waver before the powers
that would dilute the purity
of the teaching of our Mother
but stood strong against the tide
attempting to wash her away –
are we not yet threatened
by falsehood and sin
being held up as good,
and so do we not yet need
your spirit and your prayers?
Though the tide may be turning,
returning to the solid rock of faith,
yet certainly we need your help
to see the Spirit of Truth
regain and maintain
His place in this House.
Pray indeed all priests and people
be simple and true as children before God.
Mon, 20 August 2018
(Ez.28:1-10; Dt.32:26-28,30,35-36,39; Mt.19:23-30)
“Only with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of God.”
Yes, “close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them!” – those like the prince of Tyre who are “haughty of heart, and say, ‘A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!’” What condemnation they mount up for themselves, those who by their “great wisdom applied to [their] trading… have heaped up [their] riches,” for “the most barbarous of nations… shall draw their swords… [and] run them through [their] splendid apparel.” These shall be “thrust down to the pit, there to die a bloodied corpse in the heart of the sea.” How else shall they learn that they “are a man, not a god”? How else might they find the humility necessary for the kingdom of heaven?
It is tragic how riches and power turn men’s hearts away from truth, making them “a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.” For what do such as these say of their state but, “Our own hand won the victory; the Lord had nothing to do with it,” thus blinding themselves to the fact that all comes only from God? And so the Lord’s warning against those inflated by the riches of this world; and so “it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” For how their swollen pride makes it impossible to squeeze through the gates which admit only the humblest of children.
Brothers and sisters, store not up for yourselves a heap of riches which serve but to block the light of the Sun of God. Use not “your wisdom and your intelligence… [to make] riches for yourself.” This is not the proper end for the gifts God gives, and will serve only to bring the destruction of your haughty soul, along with the riches themselves. If you desire to “inherit everlasting life,” it is upon this your heart, your wisdom, your desire for riches, must be set. For the heavenly riches from the hand of God do not fail and cannot be run through by the sword of the nations; and in this kingdom “the last shall come first.”
O LORD, it is those who keep nothing for themselves
to whom you give everything,
including eternal life.
YHWH, how can a man whose heart is set on the things of this world come to the riches of Heaven? How can he who thinks himself a god know the God who rules over all? Only if we give up the riches of this world, only if we humble ourselves as servants, will we come to know you and so enter into your reign. Otherwise, we shall be trampled into dust.
You are life, LORD; you alone possess everlasting life, for the world and all it contains are in your hands – our very breath is your own. And so, how can we speak against you, how can we exalt ourselves above you, and expect to live, and expect to thrive? It is death we court by our insolent pride, not life. It is our condemnation we embrace by turning away from you.
O LORD, help us to give up the things of this world, entrusting all into your hands, for then you will care for our lives here, and share with us the life of Heaven.
Sun, 19 August 2018
O great light of the Church
who by word and work
inspired your brothers
and so many others
to a life of virtue,
to peace and unity with one another
and an abiding love
for our Lord and His Mother –
teach us this day, O blessed preacher,
of the way in which Jesus calls us,
of the life and love God offers
if we but respond in kind
in our weak and limited manner.
To all souls in His holy Church
and throughout the world
you brought the Word of God,
you imparted the light of His wisdom;
please pray, dear father in the faith,
that our lives may be conformed
to the loving will of the Lord
and we become children of His light
and bearers of His Good News to the nations,
till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Sun, 19 August 2018
(Ez.24:15-24; Dt.32:18-21; Mt.19:16-22)
“Son of man, by a sudden blow
I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes,
but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.”
A striking similarity there is between our first reading and our gospel: as Ezekial’s wife dies, and so his most valuable treasure is taken from him by the Lord, so the rich young man is told by Jesus, “Go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor,” thus calling him to give up his treasure. But an ironic contrast also exists: Ezekial is asked by the Lord not to mourn his loss, though custom and conscience and righteousness would inform him otherwise, while the young man goes away in sadness when really he should be rejoicing that the Christ is calling him to follow Him. For the death of a loved one we should rightfully weep – for here is a life taken from us – but our possessions, what are they?
And more so should we weep when it is our sins which have caused our loss to befall us, as is the case with the Israelites. The Lord teaches them that He shall remove Jerusalem and its temple from their sight, for they have forgotten God and “angered [Him] with their vain idols,” and so He is “filled with loathing… toward His sons and daughters.” But will they cry out to Him for the loss their sin has brought about? Will they turn and seek Him in prayer and fasting? No. He tells them, “You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.” The hardness of their hearts shall keep their tongues from crying out, and so they shall not find the grace of God.
And oh the sad fate of the rich, who likewise are prevented from entering the realm of God, in this case by their wealth of possessions. These vain things should mean no more than the dust of the earth, and when called from them and the anxiety they produce, what should one do but rejoice to approach the gates of heaven? But rather than this, the soul is made sad. It is a twisted world which only the grace of God can remedy. But who of this “fickle race” will come to the font of life and drink in the Word of salvation? Who will mourn in earnest the loss of life granted by God and have no care for the dead things of our earthly existence? And who shall continue the wicked twisting?
O LORD, we should mourn the loss of our souls,
our hearts turning away from you,
not the loss of our possessions.
YHWH, why should we weep over the loss of our possessions, the vain things of this earth, these riches which keep us from knowing your face? Should we not rather rejoice when you call us from them to walk in your way? All we should care for is the life you give to our soul and that of our neighbor; all we need is to worship you.
Yet we rot away in our sins, LORD, mourning not the loss of your light in our midst as we embrace darkness and death itself. What hope is there for such a fickle race, sons and daughters who forget their God and turn rather to vain idols? What can you do but destroy those who desecrate your sanctuary?
We are your children, LORD, and you call us close to you, desiring but to share your goodness with us. O let our hearts be set on your love for us and following in your way. Turn not your face away from us but let us return to you.
Sat, 18 August 2018
O priest of Jesus and Mary
so dedicated to the Hearts
of our Lord and Lady
and the formation of your fellow priests,
how well you preached
of our need to be one
with Christ our Head;
with what zeal you cared
for the poorest among us –
pray that priests and indeed all Christians
will have hearts and souls
beating and breathing as one
with the Lord,
in union with our Blessed Mother;
may all serve and glorify the Father
by using all their faculties
as if they were His alone.
O that we might indeed
belong to the Son of God
and be ruled by Him,
His own eternal life
coursing through our very veins,
His breath upon our tongue!
Sat, 18 August 2018
(Prv.9:1-6; Ps.34:2-7; Eph.5:15-20; Jn.6:51-58)
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood,
you do not have life within you.”
Wisdom “has spread her table”; “she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine.” And now she sends out “her maidens,” calling “from the heights out over the city… ‘Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!’” Let the simple hearts, those who seek understanding and refreshment, “turn in here.” Here is bread that He gives “for the life of the world.” Yes, His “flesh is true food, and [His] blood is true drink.” Jesus, the only Son, has come “down from heaven” and now spreads the table before us, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, in answer to all prayers.
Are not our priests His maidens calling souls forth to the altar where we feed? Is the Church not His city where His voice resounds, where His blood is outpoured? And so we should heed the instruction of Paul today and “watch carefully how [we] live, not as foolish persons but as wise,” seeking the precious bread that opens all eyes. “Do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery”; rather, “be filled with the Spirit” that comes to you in this wine made holy, in His sacred blood.
Brothers and sisters, let us “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in [our] hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” For what greater joy could there be than this Blessed Sacrament? And so, “glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol His name,” that we may indeed be “radiant with joy, and [our] faces may not blush with shame.” For the wise come to this table and eat, and so have life everlasting. For the Lord is here in our midst, in flesh and blood. Here is the house with “seven columns” in which His children ever dwell. The foolish may fall by the wayside, but the wise receive eternal life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Love, the Meaning of" part c. "Love" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood,
we gain understanding, we come to eternal life…
and so our mouths are filled with praise!
YHWH, feed us with the flesh and blood of your only Son, this spiritual bread and wine that nourishes us to eternal life. The days are evil and the food the world offers brings man only death – give us wisdom to see the emptiness, the foolishness of feasting on such corrupted fare, and come to your table today.
O LORD, we praise you for your goodness to us, for when we sought you, when we recognized our lack of understanding and turned to you and to your Son, our shame you took from us and made us radiant with joy. May Wisdom remain with us always; your Spirit ever sing in us of your surpassing glory.
To the banquet let us come, to the feast Jesus prepares for us by His sacrifice. Let us eat His Body and drink His Blood and live forever in your heavenly kingdom.
Fri, 17 August 2018
(Ez.18:1-10,13,30-32; Ps.51:12-15,18-19; Mt.19:13-15)
“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”
“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me,” David cries out in his psalm. Ezekial speaks of the same cleansing needed to find the life of God. And Jesus amongst the children reveals the purity to which we are all called.
“Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you,” the Lord exhorts us through his prophet today. Through Ezekial it is revealed that we are judged “each one according to his ways” – the sinner according to his sin and the virtuous according to his “right and just” acts. And the sinner “because he practiced all these abominations… shall surely die,” while the just “shall surely live.” This is the Word of the Lord God.
But the Word continues. Ezekial also reveals that the Lord God “takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” that it is His desire that all should live. And so he cries out, “Return and live!” for the Lord is a forgiving God and will indeed wash clean all who turn from their sin.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Here is the truth of our Lord: He does not desire to cast us “out from [His] presence,” but wishes us to come as children before Him, to know His love, to discover the kingdom of God which belongs to “such as these”… for these are as He is – humble as Jesus, the Child of God. Marvelously our sins He shall wash away, and we shall live! We shall know “the joy of [His] salvation” as children in His sight.
O Lord, we pray that “sinners shall return to you.” We pray that none shall die. We pray that you take our own lives and let them witness what it is to be a virtuous child of God. In your hands may our hearts be: “a willing spirit sustain in me.” Lay your hands upon our heads before you leave this place; let all our sin be cast away.
O LORD, make for us a new heart and a new spirit,
that we might be as children in your kingdom.
YHWH, make us pure and innocent as children before you that we might not be judged guilty of sin, that we might not be deserving of death. Lay your hands upon our head, and make us clean.
You judge every soul according to his deeds, LORD, but you are merciful to those who turn from their sin. Indeed, you desire the death of no one and so long for our hearts to turn to you. May we be truly contrite and humble; may we sincerely desire to return to you, and so reform our ways.
To each man you give a soul, O LORD, a free will to decide his fate. If he goes along the way you direct him, worshiping you alone and loving others as you do, he shall indeed be saved and live with you forever. But if in pride he casts aside your words of instruction, worshiping gods that are not you and despising his neighbor… he cannot but die.
O LORD, take away all our empty pride, and let us come to you as a child.
Thu, 16 August 2018
(Ez.16:1-15,60,63 or Ez.16:59-63; Is.12:1-6; Mt.19:3-12)
“I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.”
Ezekial first “make[s] known to Jerusalem her abominations,” telling the people, “You were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born.” And though by the Lord’s blessing they “grew and developed”; and though when they were “old enough for love” He “spread the corner of [His] cloak over [them]”; and though when He “swore an oath to [them] and entered into a covenant with [them]” they became His, the recipient of all the bride’s gifts and graces – “You were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food” – yet they took the beauty with which the Lord had endowed them, and turned to harlotry. The wisdom of the Lord, His laws and decrees with which He favored no other people, which were the source of their glory, they spurned in favor of the wickedness of the nations.
The hardness of the hearts of the Israelites we find well illustrated in our gospel today; their attitude toward the marriage covenant reveals their level of faithfulness to the Word of the Lord. A covenant is made binding for all generations, yet the Lord relates the truth to those who question Him: “Because of your stubbornness Moses let you divorce your wives.” Never was it meant to be so. This promise, this sacrament Paul later tells us mirrors the love of God for His Church, was ever meant to be lasting. But how weak is the faith and the love of even His chosen, causing even the disciples to marvel at all that is asked of them.
But the covenant the Lord made with His people in their immaturity, the marriage He called them to when they were but profligate children, He now comes to make everlasting through the grace brought by His only Son. He forgets us not in our sin and weakness; He remembers our humble origins.
Now may we “be utterly silenced for shame when [He] pardon[s] all [we] have done”; now may we declare, “God indeed is my savior” and rely entirely upon His strength and the word from His mouth. “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” and He comes now to wed you to Himself forever.
O LORD, let your Covenant with us never be broken;
may we be wed to you forever.
YHWH, if anyone ever had the right to divorce his wife, you have the right to separate us from yourself. For how unfaithful we have been! How profligate have been our actions against you who took us from the ground, from the gutter, and gathered us to yourself… washing us clean of our sin, of the blood upon our hands, and clothing us as a queen before your majesty. How foolish we have been, and yet you show us mercy.
Indeed, we are utterly silenced for shame at your grace at work in our lives, at the gifts you bestow on your rebellious child. O LORD, to yourself once again you take us, and for this what can we do but shout with exultation? We do not deserve your faithfulness toward us, yet you renew your Covenant with us in Jesus our Bridegroom; and even greater are the blessings now as we return to you. In His blood let us be washed, and clothed in His wedding garment.
Wed, 15 August 2018
O faithful king,
loyal son of MotherChurch
and just ruler of your people,
in peace and piety,
humbly and honorably
you executed your duties,
never showing favor to anyone
but always respecting all
and maintaining above all the faith
and the Church which propagates
that faith in Christ –
where is true Christian profession today,
where those in positions of power
truly dedicated to right service
of the Lord and His people?
Do pray for us, dear king,
that others shall follow in your footsteps
as has your son
so that all shall become
faithful followers of our Lord
in whatever position He grants them.
Pray especially for leaders
whose hearts are set on love of God and holy Church.
Wed, 15 August 2018
(Ez.12:1-12; Ps.78:7,56-59,61-62; Mt.18:21-19:1)
“As captives they shall go into exile.”
“The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.” O the woe of the “rebellious house”! How their sins eat away at their souls like hands digging holes in a wall; how they must hide their faces from the light of day and from the Lord’s glorious face. Into what hell they cast themselves with no means of escape, their burden too heavy to bear.
The house of Israel “turned back and were faithless like their fathers,” and so the Lord “surrendered His strength into captivity, His glory into the hands of the foe.” And just such a fate awaits all who are hardened by sin, who have no forgiveness in their hearts. For all owe the Lord “a huge amount” and all have “no way of paying it”; and so all deserve to be sold into slavery. Only the mercy of God preserves us from such a fate. But can a heart know mercy which shows none? Can a soul receive forgiveness if it continues in sin? Does not this house remain in exile from its God? And what shall become of the one who spurns the love of God as does the wretched servant? Shall he not be like him whom “the master handed… over to the torturers until he paid back all that he owed’?
There is only woe for the soul so set in opposition to the loving will of God. There is only banishment from His sight. As the Lord “was enraged and utterly rejected Israel,” His chosen children whom He had loved and blessed and forgiven so much, so all shall die in their sin who refuse to turn to Him... for there is no place for the evil with the good.
From darkness let us come, brothers and sisters. Exile from the Lord let us avoid. May we, too, learn from Ezekial’s sign and open our eyes to the danger upon us. On our knees let us come to our confessor, who has been instructed by his Master to forgive “seventy times seven times,” and so wash ourselves clean of our rebellion – and then share the same with others. To the Lord let us return.
O LORD, save us from the captivity
wrought by our sin;
let your mercy and love work in and through us.
YHWH, how shall we avoid exile from you and from your holy face? For we are a rebellious house, blind to your mercy. And if we are blind to your mercy, if we cannot hear you calling us back to you through your prophets, through the Word that comes to us by your Son, how can we find anything but condemnation and exile? Into prison we shall be cast to pay for all our sins if your Son’s love we fail to recognize in our midst.
It cannot but be that as we reject you, as we rouse your jealousy by our vain idols, by the false love we so desire with our faithless hearts, you cannot but reject us – do you not respect our wills, dear LORD? And if we choose not to share the mercy you offer to our barren souls, if we have not love in our hearts for others in need of that same mercy… how can that mercy be said to be ours? If we harden our hearts against you and your love, we build the prison in which we find ourselves.
O LORD, release us from such hell to dwell with you and our brothers in your House.
Tue, 14 August 2018
O glorious Virgin Mary,
preserved from sin
from the moment of your conception
and now raised with your Son unto Heaven,
blessed are you among women,
most blessed of all God’s creatures;
kept from all corruption,
you His lowly servant
now reign with Jesus in His kingdom –
pray all generations will call you blessed
that all may indeed share in your blessing
and come by the grace of the Lord
to stand at His side
in the Father’s presence.
Above the choirs of angels,
where poor mortal man is called
to take his place
in union with the immortal Godhead,
you precede us, O Immaculate Mother,
by virtue of your eternal union with the only Son.
Pray we shall truly follow you to perfection,
conquering death by the Cross
and entering the light of the Lord.
Tue, 14 August 2018
(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab; Ps.45:10-12,16; 1Cor.15:20-26; Lk.1:39-56)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory. She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven. And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life. May she bless us from her place with you this holy day.
In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God. We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm. The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.” “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise.
“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst. She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary comes, how much more should we be filled with veneration for the Virgin daughter of Israel? Indeed, it is her voice which causes the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb; with such joy we should approach this sacred day.
As intimately as she was with Jesus, and is with Jesus now, so intimately is she with His Church here on earth as well as in heaven. From her place at His side she watches over us and cares for our needs as any mother for her son. We are her sons and daughters, united to her through the One Lord, Jesus Christ. She comes to us now at the end of the age, granting wisdom and direction to those who seek their place with her Son. Call her blessed, brothers and sisters in Christ, and see her glory shining forth at the right hand of God. In her you will find light greater than sun and moon and stars. You will find the presence of our Lord and our God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, look upon all your lowly servants with favor,
that we might join Mary at your Son’s side
in the kingdom.
YHWH, your promise of mercy is fulfilled in our midst as she who is blessed comes to us bearing your Son. And our hearts leap for joy at her approach, for indeed she brings salvation with her, and so the destruction of death. In her Son is your kingdom, your power come, and to His glory we are all called.
Dearest Mary, who are we that you should come to us, O Mother of our Lord? O what blessing you are for those who rejoice with you in God our Savior! For as He has looked upon you, His lowly servant, so He looks upon all poor creatures and fills our emptiness with His presence. O that we might stand with you at His side this day!
LORD, in Jesus death is conquered and all souls are brought to life again. His Virgin Mother is the first to join Him in your glory, for you prepared a place for her. May we all find the place prepared for us in your kingdom.
Mon, 13 August 2018
O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin
and martyr for our Lord,
well you spread the fame
of the Mother of all graces,
calling all souls to repentance
that she might apply her Son’s blood
to save the straying among us;
and well you heeded our Savior’s call
to lay down your life for others –
pray this day we have such strength,
such conviction and determination
in serving our Lord and Lady,
in publishing the Good News
that by our dedication
we too may serve well upon this earth
in the army of the faithful,
also leading souls
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
that peoples and nations may be converted
and so learn in turn to serve
the surpassing glory of God.
Mon, 13 August 2018
(Ez.2:8-3:4; Ps.119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Mt.18:1-5,10,12-14)
“How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
And is there a sweeter promise or a sweeter teaching than that which Jesus gives today in our gospel? In answer to the disciples’ question, “‘Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom of God?’ He called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said ... ‘Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.’” And He goes on to assure them that none of His children is forgotten by the Father – each He searches out diligently. Always they shall behold the absolute sweetness of His countenance... forever they shall look on His presence. O to be as that innocent child in the Lord Jesus’ arms!
“Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” O Lord, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.” Let us be as your prophet Ezekial, to whom you bring the written scroll and command, “Open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” Let us “eat what is before [us]”; let us “eat this scroll.” Let us consume your words and commands and “feed [our] belly and fill [our] stomach” with your teaching and your promises. For all your words are “sweet as honey in [the] mouth.” All that comes from you is grace and peace and joy. And though the words may be sour in our stomach, though we may have to declare “lamentation and wailing and woe!” to those who turn from your law – though suffering may indeed follow in accomplishing your will, yet the sweet knowledge that all comes from your hand shall sustain us; we shall never forget your blessing.
Nothing is sweeter, nothing is more wonderful, than fulfilling the word of God in our lives. Nothing is greater than coming to His table to eat. And now this Word made flesh is in our midst, and of its sweetness we daily partake. Of His presence we cannot receive enough; to His love there are no bounds. And children before Him we constantly become as we ever consume His promises, listening to His Word and eating and drinking His Body and Blood. And so, let us rejoice as we receive from the “hand stretched out to [us].”
O LORD, fulfill your promise, we pray,
and let all your children enter your reign.
YHWH, how sweet to my taste are your commands, are your words to our souls, for they are life to us – you save us by your prophecy.
You would have us be as humble as you, LORD, and so you call us to be as children. O let our eyes and our mouths open wide to receive the glorious food you offer, and in faith we shall come into your kingdom.
And if it should cause us pain to speak in your NAME, to live our lives according to your Son’s example – to follow in the way of the Cross, LORD – of what concern should this be to us? If we must proclaim your message of lamentation and wailing and woe that others might be saved from straying and be gathered into your fold, this too should be sweet to us; indeed, we should gasp with open mouth to aid the salvation of your little ones. Then our own salvation will be assured.
O LORD, let us be your disciples; let us share in your Son’s Cross, in the Word He is and shares with us… O let your will be done and let all enter your presence!
Sun, 12 August 2018
O brothers united in faith
and in offering the ultimate sacrifice
for the sake of that faith,
for the sake of God’s Church –
pray nothing shall separate
one from another,
but that all members of His flock
and all those who lead His flock
will remain ever united
in His blood
under the See of Peter.
O pray that His Body
not be divided
but that it be healed,
by His Cross.
Into His arms
may we all offer our lives
and so join our Lord
in His kingdom.
Sun, 12 August 2018
(Ez.1:2-5,24-28; Ps.148:1-2,11-14; Mt.17:22-27)
“His majesty is above earth and heaven.”
Gleaming like gold or silver, shining forth like burning fire, splendorous as “the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day” – “such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” given the prophet Ezekial. And this is but His likeness; nothing could describe the glory of the One who has beneath His feet the four living creatures whose wings beat “like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty.” These eyes cannot see God.
But His only Son we can see, for He whose greatness is as the Lord’s own has deigned to walk amongst us in human form. Though His place is at the throne of the Almighty God, though His glory is itself exalted above earth and heaven, yet the Son of God becomes also the Son of Man. And not only does He walk in our skin, but even dies for our sin. How humble is our glorious God!
And though He Himself is the Temple of God, though it is by His hands only the temple on earth has been built, yet He does not presume exemption from paying tax to those who are but its caretakers. For He subjects Himself entirely to our laws, as well as to our scourges. (And notice that the coin Peter will find in the mouth of the fish is “twice the temple tax,” to pay simultaneously for himself and Jesus. Thus is Peter equated with the Lord in the exemption of sonship, in authority over the temple – for it is he who shall be at the helm of the new Temple.)
The disciples are “overwhelmed with grief” at hearing of their Lord’s coming crucifixion. They have known the glory of God so wonderfully as wedding guests, as the best men of the bridegroom – as the blessed disciples of the Son – and now the thought of His dying is beyond their comprehension. (So much so that they do not even hear that “He will be raised up on the third day.”) They want to maintain the glory they have known, which is indeed heavenly. But Jesus’ humbling of Himself is not complete, as neither is His glory. Remain on this earth He cannot, but must return to the right hand of the Father. And the only way to this fulfillment of glory is through the cross – only this will bring Him to resurrection, and bring us all from our sin.
“Praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted.” Let all that lives and that breathes praise our Savior, Jesus. For it is He who brings us to the majesty of our Father.
O LORD, your Son is the Temple in which we worship;
He is our heavenly King –
may we offer our lives with Him this day.
YHWH, your majesty is above earth and Heaven, far beyond our comprehension; Ezekiel’s vision gives us but a glimpse of your surpassing glory. Our eyes could not look upon the perfect wonder of your presence.
But to us you send your Son, LORD, for Him we may look upon. And looking at Him on the Cross we see the Temple of Heaven open up for us; our vision is cleansed and we know thus the glory that is with Him, that He is your Son, and that it is He who leads us to your throne. And so, your majesty becomes our own.
Indeed, we cannot fathom this great gift you grant to your children, LORD; we cannot say how unworthy we are of your presence. And yet, by His humility, by His uniting Himself to us, we become as the Temple your Son is – we find His Spirit upon us. In your Church you make your home, making us as your sons. Your praise resound from the ends of the earth; on the third day may we too be raised.
Sat, 11 August 2018
(1Kgs.19:4-8; Ps.34:2-9; Eph.4:30-5:2; Jn.6:41-51)
“Strengthened by that food he walked forty days and forty nights
to the mountain of God, Horeb.”
As the forty days and forty nights Noah found himself protected from the rains by the Lord; as the forty years the Israelites were guided through the desert; as the forty days Jesus found strength in the Word of God while fasting in the wilderness… as Elijah is fed for his journey, so we for the fullness of our days feed upon “the bread of life” as we travel to the heavenly kingdom of our Lord. Here is our ark; here is our manna – here is all the strength and protection we need. He is our food.
“His praise shall be ever in my mouth,” for His food is ever on our altar, and this Sacrament fills us with nothing but joy. If we had not this food, indeed “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling” would come from our mouths so poisoned by the fruit of the world. But as it is “Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma,” and thus we “taste and see how good the Lord is” and cannot but “glorify the Lord” and “extol His name.”
That “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them” is illustrated clearly in the trials of Elijah. Overwhelmed by “all [his] fears,” the “afflicted” prophet “prayed for death, saying, ‘This is enough, O Lord! Take my life.’” But “from all his distress [God] saved him,” for an “angel of the Lord… touched him, and ordered, ‘Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!’” And Elijah “got up, ate, and drank” the food and water the Lord provided, and made it safely to the mountain where the Lord God would speak to him.
“This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.” All strength and blessing come from the Lord through His only Son. And being drawn to Him and so discovering the Father of all, what can our faces be but “radiant with joy,” the joy of His eternal, loving presence? Let us come this day to the holy mountain of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you give us the flesh of your Son
that we might live,
and you send your angels to guard us.
YHWH, your Son has given His flesh as a sacrificial offering that we might eat of this Bread and be strengthened for our journey to eternal life on your holy mountain. Help us to walk with you, to walk with Him as your beloved children, your angel at our side, your Holy Spirit within us to bless us and keep us faithful to you until the Day of redemption is fulfilled. O let us be taught by you! Let us come to your Son and be fed with His Body and Blood, with the Word He is, offered for our salvation.
Why should we murmur among ourselves, dearest LORD? Why should we doubt and fear your presence among us and your care for us? Why do we court death in our despair? You are near! You hear the afflicted man when he calls out – you have delivered us from death by sending us your Son. Let us glory in the gift you give us. Let us taste your goodness this day.
Fri, 10 August 2018
O bride of Christ
whose poverty matched His own,
whose humility made Him known,
whose love indeed approached
and the embrace of His holy arms –
pray all souls will gaze into the mirror
that is our Lord
born in a manger,
dead upon a Cross,
risen unto Heaven.
Pray we shall be driven on
through the death we all must die,
through His marvelous poverty,
His wondrous humility,
to the indescribable delights
of those who remain at His side.
O that we might be poor as you were poor,
as He is poor
for the sake of every soul,
that we might come to embrace
His blessed sacrifice
and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Fri, 10 August 2018
(Hb.1:12-2:4; Ps.9:8-13; Mt.17:14-20)
“They trust in you who cherish your name,
for you forsake not those who seek you, O Lord.”
“Why could we not expel it?” the disciples asked Jesus regarding the boy so severely possessed by a demon. “‘Because you have so little trust,’ He told them.”
Brothers and sisters, is it the Lord who “delays”? Is it He who fails to cast wickedness and misery from our midst? Or is it not rather we who fail in faith? We complain and ask, When will the Lord act? but is the Lord not quick to act, as He does in our gospel today, whenever we call upon Him in truth? Does He not give us the power to do all in His Name? Does He somehow withhold His grace?
Certainly not. “He has not forgotten the cry of the afflicted,” and it is eternally true that “the just man, because of his faith, shall live.” The wicked man shall not “keep brandishing his sword to slay peoples without mercy”; and of the fool who “sacrifices to his net” for the fish that come through it – failing to see the God who provides all things and who alone deserves our trust… how long shall such vanity last? It shall disappear with the coming dawn.
“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” He who is here in our midst is coming to us, and we know “He judges the world with justice; He governs the peoples with equity.” And His time is soon fulfilled. But how we must trust in Him! How our faith must be purified! How our hearts must be taken from the empty things of this world and our eyes set entirely on the Lord. Only this will save us; and this is what He teaches.
Trust in Him and in His Name;
it is only He who saves us.
He forsakes not His children.
O LORD, let us but trust in you and you will heal us
and bring us to your glory.
YHWH, let us cherish your NAME; let us trust in you entirely and in the power and grace upon your Son. Then we shall be wanting for nothing. Then we shall be healed. Then the same power will be with us, to do all things in your NAME.
Wandering so blindly we see nothing but what is before our eyes, LORD, and so we sacrifice and burn incense to the vain things of this earth. We cannot see that there is no power in the things at our hands but that all power and all glory and our salvation are with you alone. And so we stumble along, falling into water and into fire, into sin and death.
O LORD, let us not be overwhelmed by the devil and his snares, by the empty things of this dark world. Let us make you our stronghold; let us put all faith in you and praise your NAME without ceasing. You shall remember us and answer our prayer, and come quickly to heal us. No longer let us be an unbelieving lot – let us come on our knees to you.
Thu, 9 August 2018
O generous soul,
you gave your life freely
to the poor
and your death completely
to the Lord;
a grain of wheat fallen to the earth,
you have indeed produced much fruit,
so closely have you followed Christ –
pray for us miserable souls
who cannot seem to draw near
your thorough sacrifice,
made without fear of the fire
ignited by your torturers,
made in joy of uniting
your death to Jesus’ own.
How shall we approach your love,
your blood so closely mingled
with that of our crucified Lord;
how shall we match your generosity
in serving His blessed call?
Pray we will find the courage
to give everything over to God
and know we are in His arms.
Thu, 9 August 2018
(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26)
“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.
“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”
May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him. “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice. In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, if we serve you,
we will be where Jesus has been
– fixed to a cross –
and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,
for we will come to where He is now in Heaven.
YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance. Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.
O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life. Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice. Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.
What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat? Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.
Wed, 8 August 2018
O sacrificial victim
seeking to bring peace
to a dark world,
you found your wisdom in love,
in the love of Christ
and in His Cross,
and died three times for His sake:
once in entering His Church,
once in taking His habit,
and once in laying down your life
at the hands of the enemies of His peace –
pray, O blessed teacher
and sister to all men,
that the death of this life
be something we shall not fear
but embrace with the same grace
with which the Lord blessed you.
Why should we hold
to the things of the earth
when Jesus waits to embrace us
in His loving arms
and carry us unto Heaven?
Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Wed, 8 August 2018
(Jer.31:31-34; Ps.51:12-15,18-19; Mt.16:13-23)
“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.”
Do not the days come to pass, is not this promise made through Jeremiah fulfilled, when the Lord declares to Peter, “On this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it”? Does Jesus not hereby wrest the covenant from the hands of the leaders of the Jews and thus make His people anew, here founding His New Covenant and His new Church upon Peter and the apostles? Does not all that has been declared to the Chosen now come to pass in the Christ and in those who follow Him? Are we not, as it were, true and complete Jews, basking in the light of the Messiah?
And what is it this New Covenant is like? The Lord says, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Indeed, all shall “know the Lord.” And how shall this come about? Is this not the answer to David’s heartfelt prayer when drowning in the midst of sin: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me”? Is it not by His cleansing us of all our transgressions that He shall “remember [our] sin no more”? Is it not in this way our hearts are prepared to receive Him, and He comes to make His home with us? Is this not why Jesus has come?
“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” David cries out, and his “heart contrite and humbled” the Lord responds to. For upon Peter and His Church He places His Holy Spirit, never to be removed, and all who dwell within this House shall indeed never be “cast... from [His] presence.” Later He shall breathe upon the apostles; later the Spirit shall fall mightily on them. Now He is still teaching them to make “God’s standards” their own; now He is still making room for His love in their hearts. But still, here is the declaration that His Church shall be, and shall grow unto eternity.
May we all take refuge within the blessed walls formed by the Lord’s hands, anointed by His Spirit. May our hearts all be set upon Him. And His power shall be in our hands; and we will be His own... and the New Covenant of love will be known.
O LORD, write your NAME upon our hearts,
that we might be made holy like you.
YHWH, write your NAME upon our hearts, that we shall never forget you. Let us be blessed to remain in your Church, faithful ever to your New Covenant.
Your promise fulfill among us, LORD, in our obedience to Peter and all your apostles. I pray we shall learn to judge by your standards, and not according to our selfish concern.
Reveal to us your Word and your Way, LORD, and let us follow Him to the end. Though we must travel through Jerusalem, may our joining in your Son’s sacrifice but serve to make us holy in your sight.
Take not your Spirit from our hearts, LORD; never let us be separated from you. But be pleased with our humility, and remember our sins no more.
The joy of your salvation shall be ours, if we build our house upon your Rock. O LORD, day to day may we be released from all bonds, washed ever in the blood of the Messiah.
Tue, 7 August 2018
O humble preacher
who walked in poverty
with Christ your King
and spoke in power
to destroy lie by truth,
you gathered men around you
to be bearers of the grace of God,
to be men of the Gospel
inspired by love divine –
pray we shall be taught well
and walk with you in Jesus’ way,
that all we do
will be for the salvation of souls,
our lives even as our Savior’s.
May His Word
and deep love for others
lead us in all our work on earth
that always and in all things
we may beseech the Lord
to be with all His brothers.
Pray our hearts be set on His will
and we serve as His apostles.
Tue, 7 August 2018
(Jer.31:1-7; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.15:21-28)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.”
In our first reading Jeremiah prophesies the restoration of “all the tribes of Israel” to the grace and “age-old love” of their Lord and God. The Lord promises His virgin daughter Israel: “Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.” He will “turn their mourning into joy” as this “remnant of Israel” returns to the holy heights of Mount Zion, as he “gathers them together” as His chosen once again.
And in our gospel the Lord makes clear it is for the lost children of Israel He has come. Here in the mission of the Christ, Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. But more than the restoration of the nation of Israel do we hear of today. What we find is that not these alone shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, but indeed all the nations shall find Him whom their hearts desire. And it is this Canaanite woman who leads the way for all Gentile people to receive the grace and favor of the One God.
On her knees she comes, crawling like a dog, this mother of all us not born of Jewish blood, to be grafted to the kingdom’s tree. Here is a sign of the humility we all must have. And when rebuffed she does not answer, “Who are you?” and leave in anger, but drops further on her face, pleading for “the leavings that fall from [the] masters’ tables.” And so she shows the Lord the “great faith” even we Gentiles can exhibit; and so she wins a hearing not only for herself but all people of foreign nations who, like Ruth, are able to say in truth: May your God be my God (see Ru.1:16). And so her daughter finds the healing touch of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, the promise given the people of Israel is now for all of us to share, if we have but faith – if we but have the love of God burning in our hearts. And so, “rise up, let us go to Zion, to the Lord, our God” and “enjoy the fruits” He offers forth for all His many sheep. This Canaanite woman came “shouting after” Him and found the ear of the God of the universe; let us now “shout with joy for Jacob” and with Jacob, as we celebrate the glory of the Lord here present in our midst.
O LORD, gather us all into your arms.
YHWH, you restore the fortunes of Jacob; his house you rebuild and your blessings he finds. Jesus has indeed come to the lost sheep of Israel, for they are your chosen sons and daughters. You have loved them from of old and your mercy remains upon them.
But if we come on our knees before you, LORD, we who are but dogs, perhaps the leavings of your table we may find, and so share in your blessings with the chosen ones. Faith is open to men of all nations, and it is this alone that will enable us to enter your House.
O let us rise up and go to Zion! Let us climb the heights of your mountain and fall at the feet of your Son. His mercy He cannot withhold from any who beg of Him. As a Shepherd guide us, O LORD, that we might find rest in you, that we might be fruitful in your NAME and come to praise you in the joy of your kingdom.
Mon, 6 August 2018
O reformer of the Church
and leader of her priests and people,
calling all to live the Gospel,
to give their hearts
in the service of Christ,
who alone can save men’s souls –
pray that your love for the Lord
and His holy Church
will be known in all
the members of His Body,
and so that apostles will be sent forth
to preach and to heal
even this day.
Pray we shall be one
with Him who made us,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood
and living according to the Word
He speaks to our souls
and all her faithful servants.
It is the Lord alone
who must be our concern;
pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Mon, 6 August 2018
O martyrs of the faith
ordained by the Lord
to shed blood for His sake
and the sake of His Church,
to give witness to the glory of Christ
and so win the crown
of eternal life…
it is in your blood
and by your sacrifice
the Church has grown
and become strong –
pray it shall always stand firm
in confessing the faith
despite any threat
from the powers of this world;
pray every soul
shall give his life in joy
and so emerge victorious
in the spiritual combat.
Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake,
may we, too, come to life eternal.
Mon, 6 August 2018
(Jer.30:1-2,12-15,18-22; Ps.102:16-23,29; Mt.14:22-36)
“His assembly before me shall stand firm.”
The words of the prophet Jeremiah are fulfilled in the Apostle Peter and in the Church, for upon this Rock we have our firm foundation.
“The Lord looked down from His holy height, from heaven He beheld the earth”; and when the time had come, He sent His only Son. And that Son, in all His wisdom, chooses those who would follow Him, making certain thereby that indeed “the children of [His] servants shall abide, and their posterity shall continue in [the Father’s] presence,” thus fulfilling the word of the Lord: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
Yes, Jeremiah declares of the New Jerusalem, the “city [that] shall be rebuilt upon [the] hill”: “His leader shall be one of his own, and his rulers shall come from his kin.” Jesus is of our kind, a man like each of the Lord’s children, and so is the apostle He chooses – and all who likewise follow. All bishops and priests, all the descendants of Peter and the apostles in the ministry of the Word and the ministry of the flesh of Christ, all come from our midst and are our very brothers. And the Church is ruled by them in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning of our gospel today we find Jesus much as He was the night before choosing His apostles – “He went up on the mountain to pray, remaining there alone as evening drew on.” John the Baptist has been killed and the time has come now for our Lord’s mission to increase, and so He prepares Himself for this next step in His ministry. And so it becomes His primary concern to be sure that when the time comes for Him to die, His successor shall be readied. And so the test and teaching He brings His Rock, Peter.
“When I summon him, he shall approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? says the Lord.” Again Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled, for Peter does not come to Jesus on his own, but first states, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water,” and waits for the Lord to exclaim: “Come!” And what happens now, what miracle? “Peter got out of the boat and began walking on the water, moving toward Jesus.” Yes, our Rock walks miraculously with the Lord! Then why does he begin to sink? you say. It is the Lord’s will to teach our leader, and all of us, of our dependence on Him alone and our need to cry out, “Lord, save me!” (Oh how sweet and instructive are the words Jesus whispers loudly into the apostle’s ears – “Why did you falter?”)
O may the Lord ever bless His Church with the firmness of faith found only in Him! May we ever stand in His presence, unshaken by the winds of the world and our own human weakness. Yes, may we be His children.
O LORD, let us stand in assembly before you,
healed of all our wounds.
YHWH, make us your people that you may be our God. Call us to you, for how shall we approach your majesty except at your invitation? If we have not word from you, surely we shall sink in the sea, for our hearts are terribly afraid of the winds of this world and the prospect of your punishment. But trusting in you, we may follow Peter walking on the water; we may become as your children by the grace of your Son.
How great is your mercy toward us, dearest LORD, for you hear us as we cry out to you; from the darkness of this prison you release our souls. Even in the night you come to us, well aware of the troubles we encounter in doing your will. Great pity you have for us as you look down from your holy height, and to the heights of Mount Zion you would draw us, that we might join your Son in prayer and praise of your NAME. By you alone shall we be glorified, and remain in your presence always.
Sun, 5 August 2018
(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19;
Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36
Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,
they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)
“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.
The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”
So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice. If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes. He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe. After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.
“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.” What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come. It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts. He comes now on the clouds of heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how great is your power,
how bright your light,
and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes.
YHWH, how great is your Majesty! How wonderful your glory! How brightly does your light shine! You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.
And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty? Is He not your very image, O God? And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?
How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice! O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.
Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.
Sat, 4 August 2018
(Ex.16:2-4,12-15; Ps.78:3-4,23-25,54; Eph.4:17,20-24; Jn.6:24-35)
“Do not work for food that perishes
but for food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.”
Their bellies rumbling in the desert, “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron,” calling out for food to satiate their hunger. How they long to be beside their “flesh pots” in Egypt, where they “ate [their] fill of bread” – even if they should die there. Their great concern is for the food which perishes.
And in our gospel, too, Jesus upbraids the crowd who follow Him, saying, “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled,” the Lord having just fed the five thousand. They, too, seek the satiation of their physical hunger while remaining blind to the spiritual food Jesus is.
This lack of comprehension of the life in the Spirit the Lord would impart is exemplified in the name the Israelites give the bread from heaven God has provided for their pilgrimage. “Manna” they call it, after the question they “asked one another, ‘What is this?’ for they did not know what it was.” And how little do those who question Jesus understand of “the bread of God… which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Even as they say, “Sir, give us this bread always,” they do not see that He stands before them, and that they have already partaken of the bread He is. And so, most will turn away, their hearts more set upon the belly than the spirit. And so, with the belly many will perish.
Brothers and sisters, “You should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way of righteousness and holiness of truth.” Listen to your brother Paul, for he speaks of Jesus and the new life He brings. Here on our altar is “the bread of angels”; and would you turn to eating rotting flesh? The Lord calls you into the heavenly kingdom; and would you choose slavery in the land of sin instead? “Abundance” of food in “His holy land” is now set before us by the Son of Man – partake of this bread of everlasting life, the flesh and blood of Christ.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Spirit Rules the Body" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us eat the Bread you give us,
the food that endures to eternal life.
YHWH, let our minds be renewed, our hearts set on you, on the Bread from Heaven you give us in your Son. Why should we be concerned for the things of the belly and the corruption it brings? Let us be men of the Spirit eating the Bread of angels, not of beasts.
If it is upon the flesh we set our sights, if we desire the food that perishes, we will perish with it. But if, O LORD, we long for the food that endures to eternal life, eternal life will be ours by the grace at your hand. O let us do your works and not those of the devil!
If we come to your Son, O LORD, He will feed us with His Body. If we but believe in Him, He will quench our thirst. We shall never be in want again if we but embrace the One you have sent.
O Jesus, let us look for you and we shall find the truth you are and no longer live in futility but have abundance in your Father’s holy land.
Fri, 3 August 2018
O priest exemplar,
O preacher and confessor extraordinaire,
healer of souls
who by prayer and penance
was made holy unto God
and brought others
to that same holiness
before the Lord and Maker
of all poor souls –
pray indeed this day
that our hearts will be set on Heaven,
that our longing will be for the Lord,
and so that by prayer
we shall come to union with Him.
Pray all your fellow priests
will be filled with your same zeal
for the salvation of their flock
and so serve to bring them
to blessed union
with the God of all.
Pray the Lord send out holy priests
to labor in His vineyard
as diligently, as tirelessly, as you.
Fri, 3 August 2018
(Jer.26:11-16,24; Ps.69:14-16,30-31,33-34; Mt.14:1-12)
“In truth it was the Lord who sent me to you,
to speak all these things for you to hear.”
Jeremiah speaks to the people in the Lord’s name, even as he is threatened with death: “Reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the Lord your God, so that the Lord will repent of the evil with which He threatens you,” he declares at his trial – he does not hide the truth. And the words of David’s psalm are proven genuine: “His own who are in bonds He spurns not”; for the prophet’s words find a hearing in the people, and Ahikam advocates for his release.
It is the truth which John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets, comes to declare most boldly. Even from Herod’s dungeon this voice crying in the wilderness continues to proclaim the sinfulness of the king’s taking his own sister-in-law to wife, repeatedly telling him, “It is not right for you to live with her.” He, too, does not back down in the face of trials, in the dark of prison, and he, too, is released from bonds – though bonds of a different kind. He, too, is “rescued from [his] foes, and from the watery depths… The pit [does not] close its mouth over [him].” For though he be beheaded, though death at the hands of his persecutor he does not escape, yet it is his message which lives and has power, power shown now in the presence of the Truth walking the earth in the Person of Jesus Christ – a power which causes the evil king to shake in his boots at the voice which still comes to his ears. Indeed, John yet lives. In Jesus he makes his home.
“I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.” For all His “lowly ones” He sees; all who “seek God” are known to Him. And these shall be released from all bonds of this earth, even as they speak His truth.
The party shall soon be over, the dance of the daughter of lust come to an end. And who shall stand justified then? Who shall hear His soothing words? And who shall be condemned? Turn to Him in your hearts this day. Listen to His voice.
O LORD, save us from the dungeon of death;
lift us from the mire of this corrupted world –
let us repent that we might praise you.
YHWH, it is you who are our secure protection, you who save us even from death, you who raise our heads in the joy of your presence. And so, what need we fear? Let the wicked of this world tremble before your voice, but let us be blessed to dwell with you in your kingdom.
O LORD, though your prophets and disciples be cast into dungeons, though they be beheaded for your NAME’s sake, though the princes of this world call for the death of those who proclaim your truth to their unyielding hearts… yet you are there to protect your own, for your power is beyond any creature crawling upon this desolate earth.
And so we take refuge in you, LORD; and so we stand strong in the face of our persecutors. For we shall not die at their hands but live in your presence, as your saints do even this day. Give us the strength we need to place our trust entirely in you and in your Son, for we know even as we die with Him we shall live with Him forever.
Thu, 2 August 2018
(Jer.26:1-9; Ps.69:5,8-10,14; Mt.13:54-58)
“No prophet is without honor,
except in his native place, indeed in his own house.”
How consonant are our readings today, speaking all of the persecution the prophet of God must bear in bringing the truth to His people. (Indeed I had thought to refer to the incident in our gospel before having even come to it, while still reading the words from Jeremiah, for elsewhere in the gospels the same quote of Jesus written above causes His people to lead Him to the brow of a hill, intending to throw Him down.)
As Jesus was rejected when He “went to His native place and spent His time teaching in their synagogue,” so when Jeremiah is obedient to the Lord’s command to “stand in the court of the house of the Lord and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah who come to worship in the house of the Lord … all the people gathered about [him],” not to “listen and turn back, each from his evil way,” but to join with “the priests and prophets [who] laid hold of him, crying, ‘You must be put to death!’” And David bemoans the same treatment in our psalm: “I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons,” as for the sake of the Lord he “bear[s] insult.”
What does the prophet come to do; what does Jesus speak to His people but truth? They themselves recognize that He has great “wisdom and miraculous powers.” With these He would save their very lives; His sword of truth would incise every cancerous growth of sin from their souls – He would heal them with the Word of God. In fact, it is their health He is so zealous to effect. But “because zeal for [the Lord’s] house consumes [Him]… the insults of those who blaspheme [God] fall upon [Him].” As they do upon Jeremiah. As they do upon David… As they do upon every faithful prophet of God.
Those who “disobey [God], not living according to the law [He] placed before [them] and not listening to the words of [His] servants the prophets,” do not wish to hear of their sin: foolishly, they would be left to die in their rebellion. And so they kill the prophet, attempting vainly to destroy His message. And it must be those of the Lord’s own house that reject His word, that kill the Christ, for it is only they who know His voice speaking in their heart.
“This city shall be desolate and deserted.” Hear these words, brothers and sisters. Let them sink deeply into your ears and take root in your hearts. Be not afraid of the death that must come to this earthen vessel. Nor reject the word because it comes from one who is your own brother. It is this sword of truth alone that will save you.
O LORD, your Son’s own brothers surrounded Him
and condemned Him to death –
forgive us, LORD, and let us be faithful as He.
YHWH, why are our hearts so set against your will that we would persecute your prophets and kill your only Son? Why are we so stubborn in our rejection of your love, of your chastising word that would bring us to your holy presence? It should be your temple in which we desire to dwell, and yet we seek to build our own.
O holy LORD, take the blasphemy from our lips, the anger and hatred from our hands and tongue. Let us see and recognize that you are God and treasure the wisdom you bring to us. Let us not turn our backs or raise our hands against you, but rather bear the insult of those who suffer for the sake of your NAME.
You look upon our zeal for you and for your house, LORD, and so hear us as we cry to you. Protect us well from the devastation of this fallen race, that we might accomplish your will and come to stand with you in Heaven. In your House alone let us seek to dwell.
Wed, 1 August 2018
O priest of the Blessed Sacrament,
you gave your life in sacrifice
at the altar of the Lord
and in all the trials of this earth;
you suffered all for Jesus
and desired only to bring souls,
all the children of God,
to receive Him and His grace
in the Sacrament of Communion,
in oneness with our Lord –
pray, O priest of Christ,
that our very lives
shall also be offered in sacrifice,
especially in the holy sacrifice
of the Mass
and in reception of His Body and Blood
in the Blessed Sacrament.
Pray particularly that our priests will know
the profound call upon their souls
to make Him present in this world
and be as inspired with holy devotion
as were you, dear saint.
Pray our hunger for His Presence increase.
Wed, 1 August 2018
O vigorous defender of the divinity of Christ,
you who suffered exile
for your work for the faith,
you who had a true shepherd’s heart
and cared so deeply
for the priests and people
the Lord placed in your hands –
pray the shepherds of the Church today
will strive with your same selfless zeal
to bring the love of the Son of God
and the blessed demands of His call
to every soul in their care,
that the faith might increase
and be known in all its fullness
even to the ends of the earth.
Pray and weep, O steadfast apostle,
for all the members of Christ’s holy flock,
that we shall be protected
from false and specious claims,
from wolves in sheep’s clothing
who would enter and steal the faith
of this holy Catholic Church
founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wed, 1 August 2018
(Jer.18:1-6; Ps.146:1-6; Mt.13:47-53)
“Like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
“I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.” According to the Lord’s words Jeremiah goes, and a marvelous sign is provided him. For there in the hands of the potter and in his work, he sees the Lord huddled over His creation. And what in particular does he witness in this vision: “Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.” Are we not indeed like this clay in the potter’s hands? Does He not send His only Son to remake us in His image? And so, should we not be as pliable as clay in the holy hands of our Lord and God?
And are we not as those caught in the net of the fishermen who, having “collected all sorts of things… put what was worthwhile into containers. [But] what was useless they threw away.” Yes, at the end of the world “angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just,” and then the hand of the Lord will be at work in its fullness. So, while there is yet time, let us do all we can to be remade in God’s image, that we might avoid “the fiery furnace” – let us not be hardened in our sin. For once cast in this kiln, what shall they do but “wail and grind their teeth”?
Brothers and sisters, do you not see that it is the Lord “who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them”? It is the Lord who holds all in His holy hands, and does what He will with the universe. And so, should you not take refuge in Him? “Put not your trust in princes, in men, in whom there is no salvation.” What is man who “when his spirit departs he returns to the earth”? When God removes His breath from man, indeed he becomes as nothing but clay in a potter’s hands. But “happy he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” For the one who trusts in Him, He shall remake in His own eternal image; upon this clay His breath shall remain. And so his soul shall ever “praise the Lord.”
O LORD, all is in your hands;
may our hands and our hearts
be conformed to your own.
YHWH, we are indeed as clay in your holy hands; you can make of us what you will. And so we pray you make us in the image of your Son, that we will be gathered into your kingdom and not cast aside.
We are but dust, O LORD, except that you breathe upon us. And should you take your Spirit from us, to dust we would return. Yet we fail to recognize your power and glory and put our trust in the dust of this earth, in the things you have created. It is you who have made the heavens and the earth and all that dwell in them. It is you who hold the life breath of all men. O let us worship you alone and seek to be remade in your image! Then to eternal life we shall come.
The fiery furnace awaits the wicked; let us not forget that you will separate the evil from the good at the end of the age. May your angels’ hands be upon us this day, preparing our souls for the end of the world, forming us by your grace as your blessed children. Praise you, LORD!
Tue, 31 July 2018
O patron of moral theologians
and servant of the poor,
how blessed was your loving wisdom,
your understanding of God
and His love for us,
made perfectly known
in His only Son
whom you loved so much
with His Mother and the Church,
and whom you call us all to love
through your blessed words –
pray the redeeming love
of Jesus our Savior
flow in all our veins,
that we might unite our wills
to the Father’s
as perfectly as His only Son
and so be as encompassed by grace and love
as only He could be.
Pray indeed that we shall be saved,
that we will come to the Lord on our knees
and so find His presence filling us
Tue, 31 July 2018
(Jer.15:10,16-21; Ps.59:2-4,10-11,17-18; Mt.13:44-46)
“If you repent, so that I restore you,
in my presence you shall stand.”
The Lord called Jeremiah even from before he was formed in his mother’s womb, but it seems he falls short of fulfilling that call, for the Lord says to His prophet today, “If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.” Indeed it seemed that Christ’s words in His parable today – “The reign of God is like a buried treasure which a man found in a field” – had been realized in Jeremiah, who declares, “When I found your words, I devoured them; they became the joy and the happiness of my heart.” Yet it seems the prophet struggles to heed the Lord’s instruction to “put up for sale all he had,” to give up all else to receive fully the gift of God’s gracious presence.
Jeremiah complains to God, “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” And what is this pain but the persecution he continually finds as “a man of strife and contention to all the land”? The Lord has called him to be a continual sign of contradiction toward His rebellious house, and the difficulties of this cross he must bear move the prophet toward despair.
What is the “vile” matter of which Jeremiah must “repent” to become “a solid wall of brass” in his mission for God? It is, I believe, the “indignation” he says he has toward his fellow people, who, though evil in the sight of God, must be borne with patience, according to the Lord’s call. It is his failure to be as really only Christ is – able to forgive His persecutors even as He stands nailed to the cross. Jeremiah must accept his weakness and trials, as does Paul later, but struggles greatly in this time before the coming of the Son.
Yet the Lord promises to “free [him] from the hand of the wicked, and rescue [him] from the grasp of the violent.” Yet the Lord is with him to answer his prayer when he cries out as has David, “Rescue me from my enemies, O my God; from my adversaries defend me.” And yet he will know what David proclaims: “You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress.” For whoever cries out to Him from the cross, the Lord hears; and to him He brings the greatest treasure of all – His own presence within him.
(If you would find this “pearl” of greatest value, brothers and sisters, in a word, learn to love thy enemy.)
O LORD, you will defend us if we but trust in you;
why do we not make you our pearl of great price?
YHWH, you free us from the hand of the wicked, the grasp of the violent, for you are our refuge, our stronghold; and so, what need we fear? Let us trust in you and bear our Cross in joy.
LORD, if we are to be your disciples, your prophets – your light – we cannot be less than you are. If with anger or indignation we speak to your people, how can it be you who are calling them to repentance? We must first repent ourselves of any vile matter that may be polluting our souls, and then we can serve as your image in this world. Help us to set aside all sin and attachment to sin that we might find you at work in our lives.
O LORD, it is you who are the pearl of great price and so we should treasure above all our service of you and the persecution it necessarily brings. Would we be other than you were among us? Should we lay down our cross? Never, I pray. Rather, let us freely lay down our lives that we might find them in you.
Mon, 30 July 2018
O strong and holy apostle,
soldier for the Lord Jesus
and defender of His Church,
you gathered together an army
to labor in mission fields,
to educate the masses,
to serve and die as loyal sons
of the Christ and His Pope –
teach us this day
to follow in the way of Jesus,
to meditate on His life
and be fruitful in His works.
Pray your own sons
and all the children of MotherChurch
not waver in the faith
which sustains them on this earth
but that in all truth
steadfast Christ’s disciples shall stand
and proclaim in strength the salvation
that comes only through Jesus
and the Vine He has planted,
through whose teaching and sacraments
His very Spirit and blood flow.
Mon, 30 July 2018
(Jer.14:17-22; Ps.79:8-9,11,13; Mt.13:36-43)
“Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.”
If the prophet’s “eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of [his] people, over her incurable wound,” how many more tears will there be “at the end of the world” when the “weeds are collected and burned”? For in our first reading Jeremiah sees “those slain by the sword” and “those consumed by hunger,” suffering enough to bring tears – but this “blow” struck by the Lord is not one which “cannot be healed.” “A time of healing” shall indeed come as the nation is brought back from exile only seventy years after its being taken; and soon Jesus shall come to “free [all] those doomed to death,” to set prisoners free… to make permanent the compassionate deliverance of the Lord God. But at the end of the age, when Jesus comes again and finally, the sentence that is passed against those who have sinned shall have no means of repeal; the death upon souls shall be everlasting.
In our gospel today Jesus speaks in plain terms as He explains “the parable of the weeds in the field.” This is no mere fable but the delineation of the harvest time that shall come upon all. To heaven or to hell all shall go, and there shall be no more changing: no more opportunity for redemption for those set upon evil, and no more faltering into wickedness for those set upon good. Great shall be the eternal gifts showered upon the blessed, but what of the wailing then… what of the wailing?
“We have sinned against you.” “We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness.” We pray you shall “remember your covenant with us,” and from all our sin set us free. “Deliver us and pardon our sins” and we “will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise.” Keep us safe from your judgment on the Last Day. Do not “cast [us] off completely,” but raise our lowly hearts unto your kingdom.
O LORD, we are doomed to death for our sin,
but Jesus comes to save us from the fiery furnace
that we might shine your light forever in the kingdom.
YHWH, remember not against us the iniquities of the past but let us be purged of all sin, that we might shine with you in your kingdom. For the glory of your NAME forgive our wickedness and let us share your glory in your holy Day.
You are right to punish us, LORD, and to condemn us if we harden our hearts on the day of judgment. But we beg you to hear the sighing of the prisoners and free those doomed to death. Make us as the sheep of your pasture and we will give thanks to you forever.
Our very lives are dependent on you, LORD our God. We cannot eat or breathe except that you feed us, except that you give life to our souls. If you remove your providential hand, we cannot but be destroyed, we cannot but perish in our sins. But you are our Savior – let your will be accomplished among us and let us be redeemed! Save us from the fiery furnace and let us stand as citizens of your kingdom, Father of us all.
Sun, 29 July 2018
O you of golden words,
of angelic tongue,
of sermons refined
by the Spirit of God…
O how you made present on earth
the invisible Creator
even as He was made for us
in the womb of the Virgin,
so tangible had His grace become
through the preaching the Lord inspired
in your soul –
pray we shall indeed be vivified
by the eternal grace of God,
by the gift of His becoming Man,
to become like Him,
heavenly spirits in His reign.
How could we comprehend such blessing;
how could such surpassing joy
these earthen vessels hold?
Let us come close to Christ our Savior,
close to Him as now you stand
in His radiant glory.
Sun, 29 July 2018
(Jer.13:1-11; Dt.32:18-21; Mt.13:31-35)
“You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you.
You forgot the God who gave you birth.”
So Moses says of the people he led through the desert. So Jeremiah is told of the Lord’s chosen at the time of the Babylonian exile. So it is with those who are deaf to Jesus’ parables. And so we, too, forget the Lord whenever we turn from Him in sin.
So close were the Lord’s children to Him and His blessings: “As close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord.” The God of earth and heaven calls them “my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty.” He has set them aside to be His own, to make them holy in the eyes of the world. “But they did not listen.” But they did not remain faithful. Going after “strange gods to serve and adore them,” they showed themselves to be “sons with no loyalty in them.” And so they became “rotted, good for nothing.”
How sad is sin. “What a fickle race [we] are.” For all we need the Lord provides, yet we “walk in the stubbornness of [our] hearts” a path away from Him, apart from His love. And now Jesus “announce[s] what has lain hidden since the creation of the world.” In parables He speaks of the kingdom of God. But how many hearts are closed to His teaching? How many “refuse to obey [His] words?” And should the Lord not therefore be “filled with loathing and anger toward His sons and daughters”?
The kingdom of heaven cannot grow in us if we separate ourselves from Jesus. As Israel and Judah were cast off, so shall we be, if we do not heed His commands. Following the “vain idols” of the nations will not bring us to His kingdom, but only make us abominable in His sight. And what horror to lose His blessing, to turn our renown and beauty to an everlasting curse.
It need not be so. To Him we can return, with open ears and understanding hearts and light thus filling our eyes. Remaining ever in His presence, remembering His Name, He who has planted us as seed “in His field,” He who has given birth to new life within us, will see that each day we grow. And on the last Day we shall be formed in His image.
O LORD, your Son announces the kingdom of God;
let us listen to His voice and turn from our disloyalty,
that we might enter His reign.
YHWH, you are hidden within Creation and so within us; from the beginning you are with us, though we be blind to your presence. But your Son comes to reveal your glory, your blessing upon our souls. You are our very life – let us not turn away from your love.
To the Word of your Son let us listen, LORD, that the humble seed He is might be planted well within our hearts and so grow unto eternity, and we might come to dwell with you. Let us rise with Him who has died for us, who has taken upon Himself the rottenness of our sin and stubborn pride.
We are good for nothing, LORD. Having provoked you with our disloyalty, what can we be but cut off from your grace and the light of your holy face. Yet you come to speak to our souls and call us home to you, if we would but listen. O let us heed your word of chastisement wherein is your call; let us understand the wisdom so hidden from our limited vision. May we learn our lesson well and so come to dwell in Heaven.
Sat, 28 July 2018
O servant of the Lord
who welcomed Him
into your home,
fulfilling all the duties
and yet realized
as He taught
that it is He
who serves us poor creatures,
who is the resurrection and the life…
in whose House we make our home –
pray that even as we fulfill the duties
of our station in life
we too shall come to believe
Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God
who comes to us
to serve us in His need,
allowing Himself to be fed by us
that He might feed our souls
with everlasting life,
with the Spirit that passes not away
with the body.
Sat, 28 July 2018
(2Kgs.4:42-44; Ps.145:10-11,15-18; Eph.4:1-6; Jn.6:1-15)
“They shall eat and there shall be some left over.”
O Lord, “the eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” You are He who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and eating the food you offer, we become holy as well.
Brothers and sisters, if we “live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace,” what shall not be ours? Will the cup upon our table not overflow? For then we shall be holy as He is holy. And what does it mean to be holy but to be perfect, to be complete? Did not those reclining on the grass eat as much bread “and also as much fish as they wanted”? Is it not true that they “had their fill”? And will those who come to the table of the Lord today, to partake of the sacrifice offered on His altar, be found wanting? No, certainly not. For as far as Jesus’ miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves surpasses Elisha’s feeding the hundred with twenty loaves, thus far and more does Jesus’ feeding our bodies and souls with His Bread and Wine surpass the miracle we hear of today in our gospel. For now billions eat. Now all who come are fed. Without limit souls are satisfied, and satisfied unto heaven.
Two notes I would make regarding our readings today. The first is that when Jesus performed this miracle of feeding the five thousand, “the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.” The Evangelist does not state this in vain: it is on the feast of the Passover Jesus shall offer Himself as the new Lamb of whose flesh all must partake – it is this day He shall institute the Eucharist. And note, too, Elisha’s immediate words upon being offered the twenty barley loaves as a gift: “Give it to the people to eat.” What is given him he offers to all, and so prefigures our Lord’s generous sacrifice of Himself – and so exemplifies the attitude we all must have to whatever the Lord provides. For then it is we show faith in our God’s providential hand; and it is then we participate in the abundant outpouring of His gifts upon all who await His blessing. “One body and one Spirit” are we all, and to this oneness there is no limit.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Whole Whale" (first third) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, it is by your hand we are fed –
let us look not upon the things of this earth.
YHWH, in our hunger our eyes look hopefully to you, and you do not disappoint our longing; you feed us by the hand of your only Son – upon His Body we feast. For He gives Himself to us that we might never hunger again, for to the abundance of this food there is no end. All who desire shall eat, and there shall be some left over.
We need not fear that the food you provide shall run short and we be left alone in a desert place. No, to all who call upon you in truth you are very near, O LORD, very ready to answer our pleas. How much closer could you be to us than in the flesh and blood of your only Son? What more could you give us to eat than His presence?
We are one in you, O LORD, one in body and one in spirit through your Son; we are all your children, dear God and Father, and in the love of Jesus that oneness is fulfilled. And so we praise your surpassing glory.
Fri, 27 July 2018
(Jer.7:1-11; Ps.84:2-6,8,11; Mt.13:24-30)
“Reform your ways and your deeds,
so that I may remain with you in this place.”
We hear again today of the failure of “the temple of the Lord” and its sacrifices to bring the Israelites to the eternal presence of God. For though the Lord “sowed good seed in His field,” though He made His temple a house of prayer, it has become “a den of thieves” in the eyes of His chosen. And the Lord “see[s] what is being done.” And because they “steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, [and] burn incense to Baal,” the Israelites break the covenant upon which the temple is founded, and it can but fall to ruin. The Lord spells out what they must do to preserve the integrity of His temple: “If each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm…” but though He repeatedly warns them of what it takes to maintain His presence in their midst, yet they repeatedly turn from His blessings and the words the prophets offer. Unable to “thoroughly reform [their] ways and [their] deeds,” they cannot but lose the temple.
But, again, there is hope. For what has not been preserved on earth shall be made permanent in heaven. Though “an enemy came and sowed weeds through His wheat,” and though in this world they are not rooted out from our midst – though our worship fall short of the Lord’s eternal glory, yet Jesus comes to perfect God’s will in us, drawing us to the Temple not made by human hands… and with Him the weeds are no more. Yes, because of our sin we lose His blessing; but by His grace our worship is made whole in His sight.
“My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” In the heart of Jesus I would dwell; in His flesh we find the Temple. And His Temple we become as we eat His Body and drink His Blood. As we follow this Word made flesh, we are redeemed and our home with God blessed permanently. And so in truth and with His love welling up in our souls, we cry with our psalmist: “I had rather live at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked”; and so, “happy” indeed we are. Praise the Lord for His eternal goodness, for in Him “even the sparrow finds a home.”
O LORD, the weeds are bundled for burning,
for sin cannot stand in your sight;
only the pure of heart enter your House.
YHWH, be with us in this place; gather us as wheat into your barn. Make our bodies the temple of your Spirit, that we shall be pleasing to you and so with you remain.
There are weeds among your wheat, LORD, and there are sins that prick our hearts and move to separate us from you and your love, and your presence with us. O let us reform our ways and our deeds! that our lives may find your blessing and we dwell forever in your holy Temple.
Our heart and our flesh cry out to you, O living God, that we might live in your sight, that we might be as your own precious children united in heart and flesh with you. Even in this land let us be with you; let this land become as Heaven by your Body and Blood among us, by our joining ourselves in joy with you… by the reform of our lives according to your Word.
Thu, 26 July 2018
(Jer.3:14-17; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.13:18-23)
“At that time they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne;
there all nations will be gathered together
to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem.”
I would like today to focus the attention particularly of the Lord’s chosen race on the following prophecy of the great Jeremiah: “They will in those days no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord!’ or miss it, or make another.” For I must in obedience to the Spirit of Truth ask the question: If the temple of the Lord has been destroyed, how is it Judaism can be said to yet exist? With the discontinuance of the sacrifices, does the heart of the Mosaic Law not undergo a certain transformation? To the point: Does the sacrifice of Christ not supplant – even as it fulfills, perfectly – the Old Covenant? Is His blood poured upon the altar now and sprinkled upon all our souls, is it not this which gives birth to the New Jerusalem, where “they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings”?
And does not the destruction of the temple so soon after the death of Him who prophesied it in tears not substantiate His claim as the Temple not built by human hands? And does the fact that the ancient walls have remained in ruins for some two thousand years not indicate its permanent end? Would the Lord really wish it to be built again? And do you think He would leave you alone for so long a time? Has He not come?
My brothers, my sisters, should not he who has the deepest “roots” be the strongest tree reaching to the greatest heights? Is He not? And should you not be as this quintessential Jew, suffering for the sake of all at the hands of those who breathe condemnation? (Here is a message to those who would take the Lord’s justice in their violent hands – you shall not escape condemnation for your sin. Whatever good may seem to result from your prideful persecution, though His chosen may turn at your threat, yet your sin will be remembered.)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion.” This word is for all who understand “the message about God’s reign” Jesus comes to sow in receptive hearts. And so, “hear the word of the Lord, O nations, proclaim it on distant coasts” to all God’s “rebellious children,” to all who yet walk “in their hardhearted wickedness” – for all may now “become fruitful in the land.” (And you, brother Catholic, do you know the blessing that is upon you; do you see that you stand in the New Jerusalem?) But still the chosen are called first of all; still the Lord waits for those most blessed, to pour His new graces upon them.
Let no man’s soul be choked by “worldly anxiety”; let all come now to the Lord’s glorious throne, here in the heavenly Jerusalem.
O LORD, let us not falter along the way
but come streaming to your blessings.
YHWH, how shall we bear a fruitful yield, we who have been so rebellious? Have we not choked your Word off from our souls; are we not today void of the roots of your kingdom? Yet you remain as a Shepherd who cares for His flock, you continue in your love for us, and so you call us back to the land set aside for our flourishing – you ransom us from our sin that your City we might enter with dancing.
Open our ears to hear the Word of your Son. Open our hearts to receive your grace. Let us be planted in good soil, in the flesh of Jesus; let us be as the New Jerusalem. In the Temple of His Body let us make our home, all hardness of heart taken from us. O LORD, let us again be blessed to be your children, washed clean by the blood of the Christ.
These waters from Heaven fall upon our souls that indeed we might grow and produce an abundant harvest in your NAME, O LORD.
Wed, 25 July 2018
O parents of the Virgin Mary,
grandparents of the Lord our God,
you who gave birth
to our Blessed Mother,
through whom we are blessed
for all ages…
O you through whom the promise to David
came to be fulfilled,
you whose virtues
found favor with the Lord,
you whom He chose
to bring forth His Mother
and the Mother of all the redeemed –
pray our posterity shall endure
even as your own,
that we shall bear fruit
even in our old age
and see our children’s children
in a happy Jerusalem.
Pray we shall know the Virgin
as intimately as you
and so come to know our Lord
in the kingdom where He reigns.
Wed, 25 July 2018
(Jer.2:1-3,7-8,12-13; Ps.36:6-11; Mt.13:10-17)
“They look but do not see,
they listen but do not hear or understand.”
Oh how “sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of His harvest.” And oh how they loved the Lord “as a bride,” following Him so closely. But oh how they have forgotten “the devotion of their youth” and turned from Him. For when He “brought [them] into the garden lands to eat its goodly fruits,” they did not seek Him from whom all their blessings flowed, but rather “entered and defiled [His] land,” and “made [His] heritage loathsome.” So blindly “they have forsaken [the Lord], the source of living waters [and] have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” And so, how empty of life they have become.
And so Jesus echoes Isaiah’s prophecy upon the people today, declaring it now fulfilled: “Listen as you will, you shall not understand, look intently as you will, you shall not see.” Though the Son of God stand before them, though their blessing is complete in their midst, strain as they might they cannot see what is so obvious – for “sluggish indeed is this people’s heart.” Too long have they turned their sights away from Him, and now what shall refresh their vision?
Should they not sing with David of the Lord’s glory – “How precious is your kindness, O God!” Should they not “take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings?” Does He not spread them above them this day? In Jesus should they not “have their fill of the prime gifts of [His] house”; does the Lord not “give them to drink” from this “delightful stream”? Then why are their mouths closed to receiving this precious gift offered upon His altar? Is He not the holy sacrifice of the covenant renewed? Is it not so that in drinking His blood all find life? Is He not the source of living water?
O Lord, “with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.” Awaken our hearts to see your face; let us “turn back to [you]” that you may “heal [us].” For you are Light and Life itself, and all our blessings flow from you and from your Body and Blood offered for our sakes. In your Son may we find again our home; may our hearts be open to understand your love present in our midst.
O LORD, let us be blessed
to hear your word of forgiveness,
we who have blinded ourselves to your good gifts.
YHWH, you are the fountain of life, the source of living water; in you we find all blessings. You provide for all our needs, planting us in a garden land filled with good fruits. You make us as your holy Bride – such is your love for your faithful child.
But we are not faithful to you, O LORD. We do not drink from the fountain of living water but dig for ourselves broken cisterns, the creation of our soiled hands, of our wayward hearts and minds. And so our soul languishes in a foreign land.
How shall you heal our blindness, LORD? How shall our ears open to your Word? How shall we return to you and find again your blessing? Your kindness knows no bounds and so you send your Son among us. To His teaching let us be obedient; let our hearts open before Him that we might be redeemed.
How blessed are we to have the living God in our midst, His face shining upon us, His voice speaking to our hearts… O LORD, take not your Son from us, but let us be healed by His presence.
Tue, 24 July 2018
O martyred apostle,
first to endure the death of Christ,
you have indeed drunk of His cup,
fully accepting the sacrifice
to which all are called,
and so blazed the path of service
for others to follow –
pray all God’s children,
all those blessed to be called as sons,
as brothers of the Lord,
will have the courage and strength
that comes from the Spirit
to lay down their lives
as a ransom for many
and so find a place
beside our Savior Jesus
in His heavenly kingdom.
Pray the blood of Christ
in which you shared so intimately
pour upon His Church
and all souls be blessed
to drink thereof
unto the world’s salvation.
Tue, 24 July 2018
(2Cor.4:7-15; Ps.126:1-6; Mt.20:20-28)
“Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus,
so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed.”
In His apostles the death and resurrection of Jesus are most clearly shown. It is particularly their place to suffer persecution, to be “afflicted” and “crushed”, “constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake”; and it is particularly their grace to show forth the glory of the resurrection. In this selfless service of the Lord, what comes through them is the preaching of the Word; “the spirit of faith” prompts them to speak, and though it bring their death, they do not hesitate: “We believe and so we speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both us and you in His presence.” Paul speaks here for all the apostles, and for the grace which comes to us as well through their service.
The Son of Man has come “to give His life as ransom for the many,” and James truly moves quickly “to drink of the cup” of which the Lord partakes. As the first apostle martyred for the faith, he leads all the apostles forth to such sacrifice, in which they shall all soon join him. Once the Spirit is upon them, speaking through them, they will have the unquestioned faith necessary to confront without fear, but indeed with holy joy, the death to which each is called. They “possess a treasure in earthen vessels” and the vessels must be broken for the “surpassing power” of God to come to fulfillment in them and through them. Willingly do they lay down their lives once the Spirit inspires them, once their faith has been strengthened – once they have lost entirely any preoccupation with honors and attachments of this life, they come preaching and serving, facing the death the world inflicts therefore without a thought to run and hide, but knowing the joy it shall bring deep inside.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” We are taken as captives from this world, our hands tied behind us. But upon returning from this exile, after this death we suffer, we know our mouth will be “filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.” So surpassing is the peace which awaits us, the troubles of this life of mission in His Name are as nothing. Let us pray to the Lord that we shall always speak freely in His Name. Let us pray to imitate James and all the apostles in their selfless service of Christ. May we have always that Spirit of faith that led them forth, that in the death of our bodies, we, too, may know and reveal the life of Jesus Christ.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may the sacrifice of the apostles
bring many souls into the gates of your kingdom.
YHWH, let us be ready to be delivered even to death for the sake of your Name and in union with your Son and the blood He has shed for our sakes. All persecution let us gratefully endure, knowing it shall but lead to great joy in your kingdom. Crushed in union with the sacrifice of Christ, let us rejoice for the blessings to come.
Let our hearts be set on service of you, O LORD, and not on the honors of this world. Only those who lay down their lives for the sake of your Name shall find union with you in Heaven. And so, let us drink of the cup of your Son that your glory may be known among all.
Though speaking of you bring our end in this world, we shall still continue as has James, for then we shall be raised up with him at Jesus’ side. All power comes only from you, LORD. We pray you work in all our lives that even our mortal flesh shall serve as a holy sacrifice.
Mon, 23 July 2018
O solitary prayer,
alone with the Lord
in the Blessed Sacrament
you offered your life
for the salvation of souls;
in penance you lived,
and so a light shone
even from your tomb
to show the presence of Christ
and His miraculous powers
at work in the world –
pray all souls
seek perfection in prayer,
the perfection of being with Jesus,
of remaining always in His presence
with a heart of love
poured out for our fellow man.
Pray even now
for the salvation of all,
for what else matters
but that we come to dwell
with you in the light of our Lord,
adoring Him forever?
Mon, 23 July 2018
(Mic.7:14-15,18-20; Ps.85:2-8; Mt.12:46-50)
“Then extending His hands to His disciples, He said,
‘There are my mother and my brothers.’”
The Lord’s blessing rests upon all who worship Him in spirit and in truth, and it comes to us primarily through the forgiveness of our sins. For the Lord extends His hands to His disciples first of all to “cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.” This is His principal work, He whose name means “God saves.” And by such compassion poured upon us, by His “treading underfoot our guilt,” we are drawn into His holy fold; we become “the flock of His inheritance” by the death that brings us life.
“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” Who indeed is like Jesus? For He dies and we live. He washes us clean of sin, and we become His children. Though we deserve His “burning anger,” He abandons not us but “[His] displeasure against us.” He “does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency,” a clemency that not only forgives but redeems – for Jesus also extends His hands to His disciples to gather them into the Father’s arms.
“You have favored, O Lord, your land; you have restored the well-being of Jacob. You have forgiven the guilt of your people; you have covered all their sins.” How shall we thank you, Lord, who “grant us our salvation”? How shall we praise you, Lord, whose “kindness” has made us your own? “Shall not your people rejoice in you?” Will we not sing of your glory forever? Will we not stand in your presence and serve you for all ages to come? “You have withdrawn all your wrath.” You “will again have compassion on us.” In you we take refuge always, as your blessed daughters and sons.
O Mother in heaven, pray for us,
that children of the Lord we shall ever remain,
doing the will of the Father as thou hast done.
O LORD, could you be kinder
than to make us your own flesh and blood?
YHWH, shepherd your people; make us as your Son’s brothers and sisters – make us as His Mother. Forgive us our sins that we might be gathered into your outstretched arms.
How kind you are to us, dear LORD, how compassionate. Who could imagine such a love as makes us one with God Himself? Who could have believed you would send your only Son, your very self, into our midst to save us and make us your inheritance? Your kindness is unsurpassable – no greater gift could we find.
Be not angry with us for our sins this day, O LORD, but grant us your mercy as you do for all your children who turn to you. Make us your disciples, truly brothers and sisters of Jesus, one with the Blessed Mother and all the saints. Into your kingdom let us come; let us pasture on your holy mountain.
How blessed are we when your anger is passed, dear LORD. Let us be your flock, living in your peace even this day.
Sun, 22 July 2018
O seer of the Passion
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of the scourges and the nails,
of the blows and mockery
of the blood which covered
His face and all His skin…
O you who have witnessed
all His suffering
and sought so diligently
to share in it with Him –
pray that we who are so blind
to the pain and anguish
our Savior bore
under the weight of the Cross
we build by our sin
may by His grace
have our eyes opened,
and so turn from our own condemnation
to the blood of redemption
He has shed for our sakes
and take refuge in the penance
that leads all souls to the kingdom.
Sun, 22 July 2018
(Mic.6:1-4,6-8; Ps.50:5-6,8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.12:38-42)
“The Lord has a plea against His people,
and He enters into trial with Israel.”
“God Himself is the judge,” brothers and sisters. And so He declares: “Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” All are brought before His throne, and all must “present [their] plea” in His presence.
And what shall we say on that Day? Will you “come before Him with holocausts, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil?” Hear His word to His people: it is not these the Lord desires. It is not the sacrifices offered in the temple built by human hands the Lord seeks of His chosen ones. The temple He has destroyed, and with it the vain works of the flesh. It is now the Lord’s desire that you but “walk humbly with your God.” And so He promises: “To Him that goes the right way I will show the saving power of God,” and proclaims, “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me.”
Oh how we should praise Him! He who is “greater than Jonah” and “greater than Solomon.” Oh how we should repent and reform our lives at His preaching! Oh how we should walk in the light of His wisdom! But are we not too often like those who offer vain sacrifice and seek to have our eyes impressed by some extraordinary sign? The sign stands before us. But all too often we are as faithless and blind as the scribes and Pharisees in our gospel today.
What a terrible thought that we might be condemned for our lack of faith by the “citizens of Nineveh” and “the queen of the South,” who needed so little, really, to believe in the greatness of the Lord. Has He not “brought [us] up from the land of Egypt”? Has He not released us from “the place of slavery”? Why do we so soon forget what the ancients knew by much less? Is not Jesus in our midst this day?
Let us not be blind to His presence, and let us not offer our sacrifice unworthily. For here before us stands the Lord of all; into our souls and bodies we receive Him by Word and by Sacrament. All He asks of us is our faith. And will we believe Him? Or is our worship only on the tongue and not burning in our heart? Let Him not find you faithless this day.
O LORD, teach us your way of humility;
let us seek only to be as you.
YHWH, how can we seek a sign from you when it is we who should be offering a sign to you, and more than a sign – our very lives. For your Son comes to us bringing salvation to our souls and teaching us the way to find it; should we not repent of our sin, rend our hearts before Him, and praise you for your mercy this day?
But we have not faith, LORD, and so we come only with vain sacrifices, mere words on our lips and a heart seeking our own will to be done. We would create you – but it is you who have created us! You have created us and you would redeem us, and so you enter into trial with us to see if we shall merit your love. Bring our sins up before our eyes, that by your grace we might turn from them and walk humbly with you.
Why should we even need your Son to be buried in the earth, LORD? Should our faith not recognize you before us without such a sign? Ah, but we are blind, so blind. Discipline us in your love that we might reform our lives and find the way to you.
Sat, 21 July 2018
O woman of great love
whose heart burned
with desire for the Lord,
whose soul thirsted for the living God…
the tears you cried
became the source
of the greatest joy
as from your sins the Christ released you,
as your eyes beheld
your blessed Teacher –
pray for us this day, O Mary,
that our hearts shall be set aflame
with faith and love
as we hear the news you bring us:
that our Lord is no longer in the tomb,
that He lives
and so we with Him,
that He is ascending to the Father
and we shall join Him there.
O pray His love
dispel the coldness of our hearts
that we shall be like you,
remaining with Him forever.
Sat, 21 July 2018
(Jer.23:1-6; Ps.23:1-6; Eph.2:13-18; Mk.6:30-34)
“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow.”
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose.” How true to Isaiah’s prophecy are King David’s words; and how true is Jesus as the “righteous shoot to David” who “shall reign and govern wisely,” who shepherds the people of God. And how blessed “the house of the Lord” in which we dwell “for years to come.”
Brothers and sisters, is not that shore onto which Jesus disembarks in our gospel today the place where He “refreshes [our] soul”? Does He not make these “restful waters” for all who are “like sheep without a shepherd”? For is He Himself not the ocean in which we are cleansed and so find our peace; does His teaching not shepherd our wayward hearts into secure pastures?
“He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” Is Paul not true in his preaching when he claims that through Jesus all “have access in one Spirit to the Father”? Though before there may have been Gentile and Jew and a “dividing wall of enmity” between the two, though still division may persist in the nations of man, yet the Son has come “that He might create in Himself one new person,” that He might reconcile both with God.” And so all are one in His peace which He offers “through the cross.”
“This is the name they give Him: ‘The Lord our justice,’” for He does “what is just and right in the land.” To this land He has come; upon this earth He has disembarked. And now “moved with pity” He teaches us truth; “He guides [us] in right paths for His name’s sake.” And faithful is He in His promise to “appoint shepherds” to lead us in His grace. Already in our gospel we see the apostles rejoice in “all they have done and taught” by His authority. And so, peace we should find now in the walls of His Church, our daily bread offered at His pulpit and upon His altar.
Thank you, Lord, for fulfilling your promise in our midst each day.
Thank you for shepherding us to eternal glory.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "We Are God's Breath" (first half) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in Jesus we find our peace this day,
for He shepherds our souls with care.
YHWH, we are like sheep without a shepherd, scattered to the four corners of the earth, but your Son comes to gather us into His arms and make us one in His flesh. For He looks upon our lost souls with pity and leads us kindly to your House. In His blood let all be anointed, that we might find peaceful repose with you.
How blessed are those whom you look upon in your goodness, LORD; how blessed those who seek your Son. For they shall find Him ready to bless them with His presence and the Word from His sacred lips. And no longer shall we be wanting for anything – if we have Him we are indeed at peace.
To restful waters let us come with Him, He whom you raise up to do your will. Then our souls shall be refreshed, LORD, and in security we shall ever dwell. O the justice that rains down upon us by His presence in our midst! Through His Cross, from all enmity we shall be set free.
Fri, 20 July 2018
O great preacher of the Word of God,
you who were entrusted
with this angelic office
to bring light to Christian minds
and dispel the darkness
of sin and error –
pray all souls this day
may be blessed with hearing
the Word of God you spoke so well,
that all hearts might turn in faith
to the Lord
purged by its cleansing fire.
O blessed teacher,
pray men of every tongue
be told of the truth,
that all might live
by the Spirit of God
that the renewal of the Church
and every soul
might be made complete
and the ranks of the New Jerusalem
be filled to overflowing.
Fri, 20 July 2018
(Mic.2:1-5; Ps.10:1-4,7-8,12,14; Mt.12:14-21)
“When the Pharisees were outside
they began to plot against Jesus
to find a way to destroy Him.”
Is it not of these David sings when he declares, “He lurks in ambush near the villages; in hiding he murders the innocent; his eyes spy upon the unfortunate”? And though He withdraw from them this day, though He will silently subject Himself to torture and death at their hands, be assured that the Lord is “planning against this race an evil from which [they] shall not withdraw [their] necks.”
“Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches.” And what greater woe can there be than for the one who plots disaster upon the head of the Chosen One? These are they who would “cheat [the] owner of his house, a man of his inheritance”; for here is the One of whom Isaiah prophesies in the name of the Lord: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight.” Yet by “cursing, guile, and deceit” these would steal the inheritance of the only Son. But the Lord shall not “stand aloof” forever, and over these soon “shall be sung… a plaintive chant: ‘Our ruin is complete, our fields are portioned out among our captors.’” What the Lord has promised He has accomplished in wresting the House of God from the disobedient and placing it in the hands of His children of light.
Now the Lord does “proclaim justice to the Gentiles.” And we who suffer with Him, we “the afflicted, who are caught in the devices the wicked has contrived,” rejoice in the knowledge that “judgment is made victorious” in Him – “on [Him] the unfortunate man depends,” and his fortunes are made prosperous as the Lord’s own.
“‘There is no God,’ sums up his thoughts,” the evil one who turns from the Lord. But the One they kill is God Himself, whose patient endurance of their crown of thorns shall bring the wicked to ruin. Caught in their own snares, “misery and sorrow” shall be theirs forever, even as the Lord and His anointed find release from the plots of men and are gathered into the kingdom of heaven.
The beast is slain by a word from His mouth, opened on that Day; though silent now His redeeming Word goes forth to the ends of the earth, setting free all suffering prisoners.
O LORD, we find our hope in you,
for you save the poor and afflicted soul
even as you destroy his wicked tormentors.
YHWH, look upon the afflicted who are pursued as was your Son; you see our misery and sorrow – save us from the plottings of men.
The greedy and deceitful you will thwart, O LORD. The violent you will destroy. You will save your poor ones who cry out to you; the plans of the wicked will not succeed.
Though your Son is captured by their snares, though the hands of men take hold of His body and nail it to the Cross, they will find, O LORD, they cannot touch His Spirit, and that Spirit will bring them to ruin.
On the third day He rises from the dead, LORD, and so we shall rise with Him. Though trodden down and deprived of our earthly possessions, yet forever we shall live in the riches of Heaven.
Silently let your Word go forth now, LORD, calling all to repentance and healing. All you give opportunity to turn to you – crush us not till we know your mercy upon our souls.
Thu, 19 July 2018
O suffering shepherd
for your work of evangelization,
you ever continued to preach the faith
and convert multitudes
despite all the tortures
the ravenous beasts of this earth
a true apostle you proved to be,
martyred even as Christ’s Twelve –
how shall we find
a measure of your conviction,
of your persistence
in spreading the Gospel of the Lord?
Pray for us, blessed shepherd,
that we who are weak of will
and so fearful
of the slightest disturbance
to our comfort and ease
shall learn by God’s grace
to give our lives
as freely as you
in the service of man’s salvation.
Thu, 19 July 2018
(Is.38:1-8,21-22; Is.38:10-12,16-17; Mt.12:1-8)
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall
and prayed to the Lord.”
“When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: ‘Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die.’” When the Jewish race was about to perish for lack of love, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the Pharisees and declared, “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” And if they heed not His word, they indeed shall die.
But will what occurred “in those days” with the king of Judah recur with these leaders of the Jews? Will they, too, turn their face to the wall and cry out to the Lord? For there is a greater threat than “the hand of the king of Assyria” upon their race now. Here is a greater threat than death. The condemnation they cast so freely upon “innocent men” now begins to overshadow their souls.
“To the gates of the netherworld I shall be consigned for the rest of my years,” Hezekiah cries out; and indeed his fears shall be realized in these. For they “shall see no more the Lord in the land of the living” if they refuse to see Him here as He stands before them. They shall know no longer the mercy that sustains all life if they harden their hearts to Him who holds that mercy in His flesh and blood.
The Lord seeks to open their eyes and their hearts to the power and love of God. By their own Scripture and history and law He proves their judgment wrong, asking, “Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry…? Have you not read in the law how the priests on temple duty can break the sabbath without incurring guilt?” But yet would they condemn King David and the temple priests, placing their own judgment over the law of the love of God.
I fear for them, brothers and sisters, as for all who are obstinate of heart. For here are the chosen of God. Here are those graced with the Lord’s promise. But what shall become of their blessing if they reject the Promise when He stands before them? What shall become of those who turn the grace of God to empty wind? Oh how their bones shall rot! Oh how the fears of Hezekiah shall be fulfilled! Oh that they could hear the words the Lord speaks to His repentant king: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.” Oh that they would know the mercy of God.
To Him may all come, for He who stops the sun and moves it back upon its course indeed holds all in His loving hands. The Temple of the Lord is here.
O LORD, you raise us up from death,
from condemnation for our sins,
for you are the LORD our God.
YHWH, have mercy on our poor, judgmental souls, for we have come close to death because of our sins, for the lack of mercy we have shown. But you are not like us, for you have pity on those who cry out to you, on those who hunger for your food – hear us as we cry to you this day for your forgiveness upon our souls, that even this day we might live in your sight.
Our sins would have cut off our life, LORD; our disobedience but brings us to the nether world. But Jesus is Son of Man and God like you and He walks amongst us as your mercy, seeking to redeem our fallen souls from the grave we have made by our transgressions. And He brings us new life.
O LORD, let the days be turned back that we might make amends for our past sins, that we might have years to reform our lives and set our house in order for your Son’s return. If you had not mercy upon us, we would already be dead, doomed by our disobedience. But remember us and make us faithful and wholehearted in your sight; feed us with the Bread of life.
Wed, 18 July 2018
(Is.26:7-9,12,16-19; Ps.102:13-21; Mt.11:28-30)
“The Lord looked down from His holy height,
from heaven He beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
Yes, “we cried out in anguish under [His] chastising. As a woman about to give birth… we conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind.” Empty were our works; dead in sin were we. But the Lord took pity on His people. Though “oppressed by [His] punishment” and as prisoners in chains, the time arrived for Him to “arise and have mercy on Zion.” And so He sent His Son.
“My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you.” Because even in death His faithful set their hearts on Him and make Him the “desire of [their] souls,” He comes. “He has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer.” Though afflicted by sin, the Lord looks upon our tears; and His heart breaks with ours, and the light walks among us… and Jesus comes. And Jesus comes.
Hear the words of our Lord: “Your souls will find rest.” He promises us His peace. Though heavy burdened with the weight of this dark world, He is here to save us. How do we find such peace? How do we find release from the prison in which we are confined? Heed His instruction; “take [His] yoke upon your shoulders and learn from [Him].” And what is this yoke in which you will find your freedom? It is nothing else but the cross.
The Lord has looked down from heaven; He has sent His Son forth from His throne. And what does He come bearing “to release those doomed to die”? Yes, it is a cross He carries. Our sins and our pain He takes upon Himself. Only through this instrument of salvation, only through the flesh of Christ fastened to the wood – only by the nails which pierce His hands and feet are we brought life. For He cries with us in anguish: He dies with us in pain. And the Lord’s pity is realized, the mercy of God fulfilled… and washed are we in this blood from sin, and our cry thus taken away.
And we must do the same as He. We must die, too. We must unite ourselves to His cross, and let Him take all pain from our souls. And so we shall be whole. And so the cry shall be no more. And so we shall never die. “Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust,” for your “corpses shall arise.”
O LORD, we were doomed to die
but you heard our cry
and sent your Son to save us by His Cross –
let us share in His mercy this day.
YHWH, have mercy on Zion, on your children who cry out to you in the night, in the night that is our life in this world. Regard the prayer of your poor ones; look down from your holy height and have pity on us. Send your Son to save us from our pain, from our sin, by the grace of the Cross He bears.
We have given birth to wind, O LORD. In vanity we have lived our lives. But we look to you to redeem us from such emptiness, from the darkness which besets our hearts. You bring peace to us; your Son grants us the salvation we could not achieve on our own. O let us take up His gentle yoke that we might find rest for our souls.
Thank you for your mercy, Jesus, for coming among us in gentleness and humility and carrying our burden of pride away. Let us come to you now, as you call us; let us find the refreshment you offer in your Cross. Upon our shoulders let us take your light burden, that we might know your judgment is removed from us in the sacrifice you have made.
Tue, 17 July 2018
O servant of the sick
whose compassionate heart
melted at the sight
of every suffering soul,
who constantly visited Christ
as He lay in hospital…
how deep was your charity,
how complete your love and dedication
to the poor –
pray that we too shall leave
the cares of the world behind
and have only concern
for serving Christ
and our fellow man;
pray the hard hearts of this age
will be saved by the Lord’s grace
even as they look upon Him
in the face of those in need.
How shall we match your stature,
which was so like Jesus’ own;
how shall we find perfect charity,
taking the Lord into our homes?
Pray our hearts be set on Him alone.
Tue, 17 July 2018
(Is.10:5-7,13-16; Ps.94:5-10,14-15; Mt.11:25-27)
“Shall He who instructs nations not chastise,
He who teaches men knowledge?”
Again we learn the basic teaching of the Lord: The exalted are humbled and the humbled exalted. In our first reading “the Lord of hosts” promises to “send among His fat ones leanness” – condemning Assyria for the pride it takes in its “own power”; and in our gospel Jesus “offer[s] praise” to His “Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” declaring, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.” “Judgment shall again be with justice,” for the Lord shall raise those who have been “trample[d] down” even as He topples the pride of the wicked.
Assyria boasts, “I am shrewd” and proclaims itself “a giant.” But truly he is a fool who exalts himself above the power of the Lord and does not see that all things are done only in Him. Yes, with what wisdom Isaiah speaks when he questions: “Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?” and, could a rod “sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood”? How clearly he exposes the foolishness of the vain boasting of those who are mighty in their own eyes.
And how well his lesson leads to Jesus’ own. “Everything has been given over to [Jesus] by [His] Father”: all power is in our Lord’s hands. And when He states, “No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son – and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him,” what is He saying but that no one comes to the Father, no one receives any blessing of the Father’s power and love, unless He humbles himself before Jesus who is the Chosen One? Nothing of God can anyone know, nothing of His power can we share – no salvation is found at all unless we come to Him as a child.
“Shall He who formed the ear not hear? Or He who formed the eye not see?” Do you believe your vision greater than His own? “Understand, you senseless ones among the people; and, you fools, when will you be wise.” For though these puffed-up souls “murder” “the fatherless” with their tongue, though “widow and stranger they slay” in their wicked deceit, the truth shall not escape them: justice shall indeed come. And as “the upright of heart… follow it” – follow the Lord of all to eternal glory – for those who take pride in their own power, “instead of His glory there will be kindling like the kindling of fire.” Know this, you who are slow to believe.
O LORD, let us be as your children,
doing your will in all humility.
YHWH, what greater knowledge can we have than to know you who know all things? Of what worth is our wisdom apart from you and your blessing? Vainly we toil upon this earth, seeking our own gain and falling into wickedness – reveal yourself to us that we might be raised from our blindness. Else we shall surely die.
Trusting in our own power, what a fateful path we tread, O LORD, for then we walk further and further from you, and so further and further from true light. In darkness we can but end, putting our faith thus in creatures. But if we turn to you, our Creator, and recognize your power over us, then we shall be blessed by your love, for then we shall enter your presence. Then we shall be doing your will and sharing in your wisdom, and so finding your light.
From all our wickedness let us turn, O LORD, by the grace of your chastisement, and let us be as children before you, obedient to your Word and so sharing in your life.
Mon, 16 July 2018
(Is.7:1-9; Ps.48:2-9; Mt.11:20-24)
“Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!”
“Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail.” For “great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God” and “renowned is He as a stronghold.” But the faithless shall be as the rebellious nations which came against the Lord and His anointed: these “shall not stand” but “shall be crushed.” Though “the kings assemble, [though] they come on together” against the “city of the great King,” they shall be seized with “quaking,” with “anguish, like a woman’s in labor.” They shall be “stunned, terrified, routed.”
And so Jesus proclaims His rebuke of Capernaum and the other “towns where most of His miracles had been worked.” So His severe reproach echoes to all faithless hearts, hearts which have refused His mercy, who have turned from His wonders: “I assure you, it will go easier for Sodom than for you on the day of judgment.” Sodom was burned with fire. There is no city greater known for sin than this profligate place which sought even the rape of the angels. And so, what shall be the fate of those who turn now from the preaching of Jesus, from His holy presence among us? What shall become indeed of the baptized who reject the grace at work in their souls? One can only shudder to think of the horrors built up by such turning away, by such “failure to reform.”
O Lord, how often I have turned from you; how little of your grace I have treasured in my soul. How little faith have I. And so, how I fear your mighty hand, your perfect, absolute light. Who shall stand in the purity of your love? Who can know your holiness? My heart condemns me of my sin; “in sackcloth and ashes” I come before you, seeking the strength found only in your touch. Send me not “down to the realm of death” but lift this faithless soul to your side. Let me fear no attack of the world. Enable me to stand in your light.
O LORD, make us your House, faithful and true,
that we might find your protection and glory.
YHWH, let us be your House, your holy City, faithful to you and so finding your secure protection and your blessing unto Heaven. Help us to reform our lives that we might be made entirely in your image.
Great are you, O LORD, and worthy of all our praise and worship. You alone are God and to you alone should we be devoted. It is you in whom we find our hope, you who are our stronghold. With you as our God, all our enemies flee before us, for it is you who fight for us against all the evils of this world.
For your miracles let us praise you, LORD; let us never be blind to your hand at work in our midst. Let us not be as ungrateful sons failing to recognize your goodness to us and the provisions you make for our inheritance. Let us rather be as your only Son, turning always to you and to the fulfillment of your will. Then we shall be like Him in your kingdom, seated with all your angels and saints around your holy throne. You alone are our King; let our enemies tremble before you.
Sun, 15 July 2018
O Mother of contemplation
who heard the Word of God
and kept it,
pondering its wonder
in your heart,
you who were so faithful
to His call
and remain ever in His presence –
how shall we know our Lord
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not intercede
for souls so blinded
by the distractions
of a fallen world?
Our prayers are with you, dear Mother,
who pray as one with our dear Lord,
who are so one with Him
in body and soul,
who stand at His side this day
in the kingdom of Heaven…
There on His holy mountain
help us to make our home.
Sun, 15 July 2018
(Is.1:10-17; Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.10:34-11:1)
“Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!”
Elsewhere in Scripture we read, “The Lord chastises those whom He loves” (Heb.12:6), and this truth is made evident in our readings today. The Lord commands us through the prophecy of Isaiah, “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” Our psalm continues the same theme, declaring again in the voice of God, “You hate discipline and cast my words behind you.” And the lesson is fulfilled in Jesus’ own admonishment: “Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
How difficult for many to hear Jesus’ words: “My mission is to spread, not peace, but division.” How in conflict with their image of a pleasant Jesus placed so neatly in a politically proper box. How they would anesthetize themselves against the suffering of the cross. But the same Spirit who speaks through Isaiah, proclaiming, “Hear the word of the Lord, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!” is He who speaks through the Son, who Himself condemns the towns that do not receive His preaching and presence to a worse fate than these infamous cities. Our Lord is no less offended by “worthless offerings” and “octaves with wickedness.” He is no more deaf to our disobedience or blind to our sin. In fact, as He is the fulfillment of the love of God in the forgiveness and grace He offers all, so He is the fulfillment of God’s justice in the ultimate judgment of every soul.
“I will correct you by drawing [your sins] up before your eyes,” the Lord declares through our psalmist. And does not Jesus call the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” (Mt.12:34)? Does He not call Peter “Satan” (Mt.16:23)? Does He not open all our eyes to the sin upon our souls to save us from final damnation? If He did not do this, could He say He loves us? Is it not by this cross placed firmly upon our backs that we rise from the sin weighing down our hearts? Otherwise, would we not drown in sorrow?
Brothers and sisters, do not try to ration away your cross by vain supposition. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing who would convince you there remains no place for the wood, for the blood. The world is ever and more a place of sin, and the devil ceases not to lead souls to perdition. Be warned by the Lord of all. Stand chastised in His love. Wash yourselves clean of all pride and vanity; be not as he who “brings himself to ruin.” You are called to be the Lord’s image in the world; and the Word made flesh ends His life on earth fixed to a cross. Accept His gift of love.
O LORD, let us be brought to nothing for you;
let all the sin within us die
that we might be your disciples.
YHWH, let us welcome you and your Word and those who bring it to us. Though your Word is hard, it is our means of salvation, for only the Son’s Cross leads to life; only your chastisement will break our hardened hearts. O let us love you above all others!
We are sinful, LORD, pretending a love that is empty and false. And so, what do we merit but condemnation for our turning our hearts from you? No better than the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah, our house is full of wickedness, our hands full of blood. We do all but to please ourselves; our sacrifices are but to feed our bellies, and so are no sacrifice at all. Bring our sins up before our eyes! that we might see and turn away from them.
Your sword, O LORD, your sword alone will separate us from our sinful deeds. Your Word alone will save our souls. Let us cherish your discipline as once we treasured the vain things of this world. The word of your prophets let us desire that we might receive a prophet’s reward.
Sat, 14 July 2018
O good doctor
who taught the way to God
by death to things outside the Cross,
by resting with Christ
in the tomb
that we might pass
from this world to the Father –
pray our passions
indeed be silenced
that the fire of God
will carry our soul
to Him who is beyond
the operations of our mind;
pray our surrender to Him
may be complete
and the Holy Spirit lead us
in loving flame
to the kingdom.
Where is the longing of our soul
and who will assist us on the journey?
Speak to our hearts this day, good teacher,
from your place in His radiant presence.
Sat, 14 July 2018
(Amos 7:12-15; Ps.85:8-14; Eph.1:3-14; Mk.6:7-13)
“Justice shall walk before Him,
and prepare the way of His steps.”
And so when the disciples are sent out, the Lord “instruct[s] them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.” The walking stick signifies that the carrier is on an itinerant mission, and the walking stick serves to support the traveler along his way. The walking stick is the cross of Christ, which does both these things and brings all the grace and guidance we need on our journey through life. The walking stick is prepared in justice, the justice of the blood of Christ, and so it brings all who take it up to the kingdom of God.
The Father “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,” and so, what more do we need than His cross, since in it “we have redemption by His blood”? And now we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession,” and thereby ready to walk the path He sets before us this day. The cross of contradiction going before us, we join the apostles who “went off and preached repentance.” Amos, too, heeded this call to chastise the people for their sins. And for this he, too, suffered the cross, being commanded by the power of the world: “Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!” But still he continues to preach repentance, still he is faithful to the Lord’s instruction to “prophesy to [His] people Israel.” And so must all His apostles be.
We need not fear the persecution upon us for “near indeed is [the Lord’s] salvation to those who fear Him.” To those who are faithful to His call, “the Lord Himself will give all His benefits.” We have all we need “in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us,” and we must only be “holy and without blemish before Him” – as is His desire – to find every blessing we require. And He will give us “authority over unclean spirits”; He will enable us to cast all evil from His sight. And so “to the praise of His glory” there will be “glory dwelling in our land.” His justice walks now before us; let us go in the way of His steps. His cross is all we need for the journey.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Give Me Strength" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, we have every spiritual blessing
in the heavens –
what more do we need than the Cross of Christ?
YHWH, you send forth your apostles and prophets to preach repentance, to proclaim salvation to those who turn to your Christ and wash themselves in the blood of His Cross. This is all we need to find your peace; this is all we need to make our way through this world. In the Cross let us take our refuge, and your Spirit will be with us.
O let us be healed, dear LORD! that we might praise your holy NAME for the redemption upon us. Let us not turn away from those you send in Jesus’ Name, but seek rather to walk in His steps with them. You look down from Heaven and send us your Son to be born amongst us and bring glory to this land… Let His kindness and truth meet in us that we too might know your benefits and be your treasured possession forever.
What need we but the power of truth speaking in your Son – O LORD, drive out the demons from among us.
Fri, 13 July 2018
(Is.6:1-8; Ps.93:1-2,5; Mt.10:24-33)
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,’
they cried one to the other.
‘All the earth is filled with His glory.’”
Hear the angels’ song. It is their praise, which fills the heavens like fragrant incense, that our psalmist proclaims: “The Lord is king, in splendor robed; robed is the Lord and girt about with strength.” Exalted is the majesty of the Father in heaven, upon whom no eye can gaze, and so of His Son. And rightly does the prophet Isaiah – “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips” – fear having seen “the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of His garment filling the temple.”
And should we not fear Him, too? Should we not fear the glorious Son in whose light we dwell and in whose steps we follow? Do we realize His Majesty? Do we somehow presume to outrank our teacher, or are we as the pupil who is “glad to become like his teacher, the slave like his master”? If humbled before the Lord of all, we shall fear nothing of this world. Fearing Him who “can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna,” any power of the devil becomes as nothing in our sight. For we know our God holds every “single sparrow” in His Hand, and we “are worth more than a flock of sparrows.”
The Lord sends “one of the seraphim” to touch the lips of the prophet with an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.” (So holy is the Lord that even the angels cannot touch His fire with their hands.) And so Isaiah’s “wickedness is removed, [his] sin purged.” And so he is sent, in turn, to proclaim the Word of God. First he must be purified; first we all must be purged of sin, for indeed “holiness befits [His] house” – holiness alone may stand in His presence, and only the tongue cleansed of stain can “speak in the light” the truth of our God. And as the prophet speaks, as the psalmist sings, so are we sent to proclaim the glory of “the King, the Lord of hosts.”
“Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord.” You alone are holy. What can we pray but that the earth be filled with your glory, but that we shall enter your house and praise your name all the days we are blessed with life? Make us holy as thou art.
O LORD, you are the Almighty God
and we are your sons;
and so, how blessed we are to die with Jesus.
YHWH, holiness befits your house and only those who are holy enter there. And it is only you who can make us holy, for you alone are holy. O Jesus, acknowledge us before your Father; let us never be disowned.
O LORD, let our lips be cleansed that we might sing your praise and so be found worthy to join your choir of angels in Heaven. Send your angel to touch our lips with a coal from the fire of your altar; let your Holy Spirit descend upon us to sanctify our souls. How else shall we look upon you? How else shall we become as you are?
Your house is filled with your glory, LORD, with the smoke rising from your holy altar. Let our prayers be offered on that altar, our very lives be immolated with your Son that as incense they may rise before you. O let us proclaim your glory from the housetops and die with you in that same glory. Praise to you, our Creator and Redeemer, and our Sanctifier! Holy are you, O LORD!
Thu, 12 July 2018
O you who were king and emperor
yet set your sights
on the reign of Heaven
and the reform and upbuilding
of the Church on earth,
who dedicated yourself
to the Lord of all
and service of His apostles –
pray our cares and responsibilities
will not distract us
of our God and His mercy
but that we shall indeed
and all our lives
into the hands of our Savior,
that He might dispose of them and us
as He sees fit.
Pray our kingdom not be of this earth
but of Heaven
and that we shall make our home
at the foot of the throne
of the Almighty.
Thu, 12 July 2018
(Hos.14:2-10; Ps.51:3-4,8-9,12-14,17; Mt.10:16-23)
“O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
Hosea instructs the Israelites, “Take with you words, and return to the Lord,” and this David does in his psalm of sorrow. In “sincerity of heart” he begs the Lord’s forgiveness for his sin and finds that the Lord creates “a clean heart” for him. “In [Him] the orphan finds compassion,” and so the humbled king receives the Lord’s cleansing grace.
Because the Lord does “forgive all iniquity, and receive[s] what is good,” so we find that Hosea’s prophecy – “He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots” – is fulfilled in His Church today. We indeed “blossom like the vine”: the vine of Christ covers the earth. And though “straight are the paths of the Lord,” though Jesus’ blunt words to His disciples – “You will be hated by all on account of me” – are realized in all who are “brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them and the Gentiles”… though persecution, the cross, be an inevitable part of every Christian’s life, yet through it all the Church is strengthened, growing “like a verdant cypress tree.” For always it is the Lord who strengthens us; always it is “the Spirit of [our] Father… speaking in [us].” It is He who opens our lips; it is His praise we proclaim with all our words, and so what can He do but bless us? We “say no more, ‘our god,’ to the work of our hands,” and so no more do we sin. Taking refuge in the love of God, “because of [Him we] bear fruit.”
“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord. “A willing spirit sustain in me,” that your wrath might ever be “turned away,” that I might forever be purified by your grace – that the pangs I suffer never be the result of my sin but rather the blessing of sharing your cross in this world. Come, O Son of Man, and find your sheep suffering all for you. Your Word keep upon our souls.
O LORD, cleanse our hearts of sin
that you might speak through us,
that we might do your work in this world.
YHWH, wash us clean of all our sins this day that our tongues might freely praise your NAME and declare your glory to all the world, that we might be ready even to die for you. You are our salvation; you are our very life. It is only by you we bear fruit – without you we would certainly die. And so, a clean heart create in us that we might be your faithful disciples.
Speak in us this day, O LORD; in our lives let your will be done. And as we blossom by your favor let us never forget that it is by your love alone we grow. If we perform good works, it is only by your grace, for truly we deserved death for our sins but your compassion has made us new again and prepared us for our service.
The work of our hands shall not save us, LORD, but only you and your love. Let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones, even of the temple, but set our hearts and desires on you alone. Truly you hold our lives in your hands – let us have your wisdom to guide us, that we might never again turn away but ever recognize you as our Savior.
Wed, 11 July 2018
(Hos.11:1,3-4,8-9; Ps.80:2-4,15-16; Mt.10:7-15)
“I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you.”
And He comes to us as do the disciples today, blessing each home as He enters. And “if the home is deserving, [His] blessing will descend upon it. If it is not, [His] blessing will return” to Him. Be careful to receive the blessing of the Lord, for if you reject Him, He will leave you, shaking the dust from His feet, and “it will go easier for the region of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than it will” for you.
In days past the Lord loved Israel as “a child,” drawing him “with human cords, with bands of love.” And though “they did not know that He was their healer,” though they rejected Him, His “pity [was] stirred” and He did “not give vent to [His] blazing anger.” He withheld His “flames” of wrath and offered them forgiveness. Thus Jesus is sent into our midst. For we, as Israel, have sinned. All have spurned the love of God and gone astray. But here comes the Holy One to heal us once again.
But now if we should reject Him, now if we should spurn His Son present to us, how shall we be saved? What more can the Lord God do to draw us home to His loving arms. The Lord has heard the psalmist’s plea to “look down from heaven and see,” to “take care of this vine, and protect what [His] right hand has planted.” He comes to His children wholly offering Himself for their sakes. Like the apostles, like His saints who come without money or goods but possessing everything they need and giving all this blessing freely to any who would receive it, so the Lord comes to us this day – and do we receive Him?
There is nothing more the Lord can do to save our souls: He has died for us. He has given all He has freely for our redemption. His Son walks amongst us. Enter His reign today. Accept His blessing. The day of judgment is not far from you.
O LORD, save us from the fires of hell;
obedient to your call,
let us come into your kingdom.
YHWH, let your peace be upon this House, upon your Church, upon all souls. Let none reject the grace you give as a gift to your children. Truly you love us and forgive us our sins – let us accept your healing this day.
You send forth apostles to spread your Word, to bring salvation, to bring your healing to all souls, LORD. You look upon us with pity and provide for our care, despite our failure to recognize your presence. Our sins you would remember no more, your love you would plant as a seed in the heart of our home, in our very spirits… Let us be your faithful children and cherish your reign over us!
How shall we be made worthy to be citizens of Heaven? How shall we find your blessing upon our town, upon our poor houses? Let us provide for those you send forth to serve, LORD; then we shall be welcoming you. And let us go forth ourselves as you call. Let us place our trust entirely in you and in your Word of truth, and so find all things provided for. In your House let us make our home.
Tue, 10 July 2018
O monastic father
who led the way into the desert
where the Lord speaks to men’s hearts,
where He calls souls to perfect worship,
putting Christ before all else
and treating others as He Himself…
O you who prayed most perfectly,
you who knew God so intimately –
pray that our distracted minds
will somehow be conformed
to listening for His voice
and answering His call
to serve Him with all our lives.
Help us, dear brother,
dear father in the faith,
to find our dwelling place
in the kingdom,
to live so completely
according to God’s Word,
that with great fervor,
with overflowing love,
we may accomplish His will
and join you in His presence.
Tue, 10 July 2018
(Hos.10:1-3,7-8,12; Ps.105:2-7; Mt.10:1-7)
“Jesus sent these men on mission as the Twelve.”
And in these men the Lord founds His Church, choosing “first Simon, now known as Peter,” as the Rock upon whom the Building rests, and in like fashion all the twelve apostles, upon whom He places His Spirit. And so the foundation is set. And so none can separate themselves from these and their teaching, for in them and in this Church, Jesus Himself resides. It is in their place the bishops stand; it is through these, priests are ordained. In His holy Catholic Church we find the New Jerusalem.
The Lord chose Abraham and his son Isaac, and placed His blessings upon the twelve tribes of Jacob and their descendants. He does not remove this blessing, does not break His covenant. And the Lord set up in Jerusalem His place of worship. This, too, does not change. Regardless of how corrupt the priests or kings may have been throughout the history of Israel and Judah, these remain His chosen people, and here is His temple. And when another would rise up to take the place of what God had anointed, as typified by Jeroboam’s setting up the golden calf in Samaria that the people might worship there and so not go up to Jerusalem, this pride the Lord curses. In our first reading He vows, “The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters. The high places of Aven [Iniquity] shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.” Yes, “God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars” for “their heart is false.” It is not these upon whom His Spirit rests.
Brothers and sisters, “it is time to seek the Lord,” to come into the House His hands have made – not a separate Church set up apart from His covenants but standing in fulfillment of them with the coming of Jesus as the Christ and Messiah – and realize that “the reign of God is at hand.” Here in His New Jerusalem you shall find His presence; here you shall hear His teaching transmitted through the apostles and receive the Bread of His sacrifice at their holy hands. Know that “He, the Lord, is our God” and “throughout the earth His judgments prevail.” “Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord,” for now He has come to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now through His apostles, through those who “seek to serve Him constantly,” He gathers all into the New Jerusalem – upon this House His favor remains.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, you send your apostles forth to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to gather them into the New Jerusalem, your Holy Catholic Church. Here are the pillars of your Church, here the foundation. In these Twelve you send out, the promise to Abraham is fulfilled – here are the twelve sons who will do your will.
All false gods you will destroy, LORD; all unholy altars shall be torn down. And every nation that turns from you and the call of your apostles will not enter into your reign but cry to the mountains and hills to fall upon themselves.
Save all faithful souls from such woe, O LORD. Let us see your hand at work in our midst, that we might praise your NAME. Cast all evil from our hearts, heal us of every disease, that we might be whole in your sight and so enter freely into your fold. Into your reign let us come, into the House founded on your apostles. In Spirit and truth let us worship you on your holy mountain.
Mon, 9 July 2018
(Hos.8:4-7,11-13; Ps.115:3-10; Mt.9:32-38)
“Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does.
Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men.”
In Israel, the people have turned from worship of the living God and “with their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction.” As the golden “calf of Samaria” is “destined for the flames,” so they “shall be like them, everyone who trusts in them.” So empty are the lives of those who worship wood and stone, and to inevitable destruction do they come. That which we make rots; only what is made by God endures.
How the Lord Jesus contrasts with the false and empty gods worshiped by the nations: where they are dead, He is alive. He alone is able to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone walks the earth with a heart that is “moved with pity.” He alone reveals the living God and enables us thereby to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone gives us strength to walk this earth and do His work. Their gods are mute – “they have mouths but they speak not.” But He takes the “mute who was possessed by a demon” and enables him to speak. It is He who gives us our souls, who renews our spirit.
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” the crowds exclaim as they witness the glory of God in their midst. It is as if they shout, “God is alive!” and come to faith in His presence. For here He breathes upon them; here His heart beats in their hearing. In Jesus all see the wonders of the Father in heaven come to earth and made real before their eyes. Such is God’s will – to bring heaven to earth. Such is His great grace – to send us His only Son. And what can we do but rejoice at the works of the Lord; what can we do but join Him in such labor?
“He shall remember their guilt and punish their sins,” those who harden their hearts against Him and trust in the wisdom of their own minds and the works of their own hands. For only the works wrought by His hands, through His living Spirit, are genuine, are true – are alive. All else dies. So let us leave off any empty sacrifice, any false worship not accomplished in the House of God. There is but one God and one Church through which He works, and only by what He has established will we know the grace and freedom of the living Lord of all. Only in Jesus’ Body and Blood do we find the life that yields lasting grain.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, open our mouths that we might sing your praise, and never again call upon false gods. Your Spirit alone dwell in us this day, and we shall again be your blessed children.
O LORD, how could we be so fooled as to worship wood and stone, or other more modern images made by our own hands? What we see on the TV screen is not real, yet we give it precedence over living souls. Our desire is set on such empty illusions, on such dead matter, and so we die of hunger far from you. And so we lie prostrate from exhaustion, from chasing the vain contrivances of our corrupted minds.
But you come to save us, LORD, from such empty worship of these no-gods, from these pursuits which sap our strength, which but blind our eyes and leave us without tongues for speaking the truth. You send laborers forth to relieve our dying spirits; you come into our midst each day to feed us with Jesus’ Body and Blood, that we might not fade away in our vanity but be revived by His sacred presence. Let us stand and walk with you who are life itself!
Sun, 8 July 2018
O righteous band of martyrs
united by faith in Christ and His Church
in a nation of religious oppression:
children and grandparents,
workers and teachers,
lay and ordained,
native and foreign-born…
all as one you gave your lives,
led by your convictions –
pray the Word of the Lord
come to a land so cold
to the love and worship
of Jesus, all men’s Savior.
Pray the Holy Spirit
fall like purging and redeeming fire
upon every soul in the country
where you so honorably died;
pray His power spread
and bring renewal
upon the face of all the earth.
Sun, 8 July 2018
(Hos.2:16-18,21-22; Ps.145:2-9; Mt.9:18-26)
“When the crowd had been put out
He entered and took her by the hand,
and the little girl got up.”
How like Hosea’s prophecy today is the Lord’s raising of Jairus’ daughter in our gospel. For the Lord speaks through His prophet, saying, “I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart,” and Jesus does this when He puts the crowd out of the house before whispering to the little girl to arise. And as the Lord declares in our first reading, “I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy,” so Jesus takes the hand of the child, wedding His Spirit unto her own; and so, as the redemption is promised Israel in her again calling the Lord, “My husband,” so Jairus’ daughter stands and walks in the light of Christ.
“She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,” it is said of the Lord’s chosen nation. With the faith of a child all shall be raised. And as the Savior covers the “woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve [full] years” with the edge of His cloak, taking her into His wedding chamber and so immediately healing her flow of blood, so Jesus would make us all His own; so in His grace and love He would enter all our souls and make us one with Him. And so would all find themselves “restored… to health,” His blood alone coursing through our veins.
“I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord,” our God declares. And knowing the Lord, being wed unto Him in the depths of our hearts where He speaks, promising us His love, what can we do but “praise [His] name forever and ever” with David His king? What can we do but “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wonderful works”? For “great is the Lord and highly to be praised,” and His Spirit wed to our own we are overwhelmed by the glory of His presence and cannot help but declare our love for Him who has loved us above all.
Listen to His voice, brothers and sisters; let Him enter your hearts and make you His own. And you shall be raised from the death of sin unto His glorious majesty. Yes, may news of His grace circulate among all; let us “publish the fame of [His] abundant goodness and joyfully sing of [His] justice,” for He speaks now to our souls.
O LORD, speak to our hearts
that we might rise in faith with your Son,
and so praise your glory.
YHWH, you come to us in quiet places and whisper in our ear to rise and be with you. Our souls you wed to your Spirit that we might live forever in you. Let us remain faithful to your glorious presence in our midst; with courage let us come to you to be healed.
You are merciful, LORD, and desire our good. You would see us well and walking with you. And so you call to our hearts to worship you, to make your love our sole desire.
Cover us, O LORD, with your kindness; show your compassion to our souls. And we shall rise up and praise your NAME – one with you we will extol your glory forever. For what greater gift could we find than you yourself abiding in our heart?
Let us hear your voice calling us, LORD, in the quiet, in the silence of your presence. Cast all distractions from our minds. You alone let us know and desire, and we shall find ourselves at peace in your presence. Let all the world know your abundant goodness toward your children.
Sat, 7 July 2018
(Ez.2:2-5; Ps.123:1-4; 2Cor.12:7-10; Mk.6:1-6)
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
And so Ezekial, though he is being sent to those “who have rebelled against [God],” to those who are “hard of face” and “obstinate of heart,” yet must declare, “Thus says the Lord,” yet must call to their rebellious hearts “whether they heed or resist.” Likely they will resist him; likely they will persecute him, as they have all the prophets, but still he must “lift up [his] eyes” to Him who is “enthroned in heaven” – despite his weakness before these lions, he must stand strong with God.
And “so are our eyes on the Lord, our God”; so do we look to Him constantly for His mercy and protection. “We are more than sated with contempt: our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.” The believing Christian cannot but be persecuted by the wickedness of the world, pervasive in all men’s hearts, for he stands in constant opposition to the lust and greed and violence with which fallen man seeks to fill his soul. What can we be but weak in the face of such a hardened enemy. And yet we must make that enemy our friend; yet we must say with Paul: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ.” For we know that the power of God is with us despite our humiliation; we know that He acts just the same to thwart the wicked.
On the cross they mocked the Lord; they spurned His goodness and looked with contempt on His love, a love which died for them who beat Him. And today we see that Jesus “came to His native place… to teach in the synagogue,” despite the fact that they would “[take] offense at Him.” They cannot believe this humble carpenter’s son could teach with such wisdom: “Where did this man get all this?” they ask in doubt of His origin. The Lord’s weak appearance belies the mighty Spirit which is upon Him; and those who are blind to truth and so slow of heart to believe cannot but mock and stone Him who alone would give them strength.
Brothers and sisters, to whatever people you go let them know “that a prophet has been among them”; show them all that Christ has risen from the dead. There may be some who will turn from their sin, and even if rebuked, you will maintain the power of the grace of God within. Always remember, it is not you who speak but the Lord.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (first half) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, though so human and weak in ourselves,
in you we are strong.
YHWH, you call us to endure the mockery of the arrogant, the contempt of the proud. Though persecuted for the Word we bring to rebellious souls, we must nonetheless speak in your NAME, content with such mistreatment. If even your Son was rejected by His kin, to whom He came working wonders, what should we expect else, we who are but weak men? Let us not be afraid to join in the suffering of Jesus, but rejoice that we are called to be as He is.
In humble stature your Christ walked amongst us, but great was your power upon Him. Though we would inevitably reject His loving call and fix Him to a cross, He did not turn from such mockery of His divinity. And so we call upon you, LORD, to give us the strength He showed, to be with us through all that comes with walking in His way. Let your grace be at work in us as we go forth to hardened souls.
Fri, 6 July 2018
(Amos 9:11-15; Ps.85:9,11-14; Mt.9:14-17)
“I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel.”
Of the city of David, the Lord promises, “I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” Beautiful imagery is given inde