The BreadCast
Daily Exposition of the Readings of Catholic Mass, from the book 'Our Daily Bread' by James H. Kurt (now with Chanted Verses, and added text of Prayer for the Day). Additional cast - SaintsCast, entries from the book 'Prayers to the Saints' (also by James Kurt). Both books bear imprimatur.

(Sir.6:5-17;   Ps.119:12,16,18,27,34-35;   Mk.10:1-12)

 

“They are no longer two but one flesh.”

 

How much more clearly could the Lord speak of the unity found in marriage and so the respect due this sacrament?  How better could He get His point across to you that marriage is indissoluble, that it is not to be played with, that you commit adultery as you consider divorcing your spouse?  “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.”  And by this Jesus does not mean that two separate creatures were made – He means that every one of God’s human beings is both male and female, and that in marriage one finds his wholeness in the sight of God.

When Adam was formed of the dust of the earth, Eve was already present within him, in his very body.  She was not created apart from him, but taken from him, “from man” – which is the meaning of “woman.”  Adam when he was first made held both male and female in himself, and when woman was taken from him, built of his rib, the two did not cease to be one.  Thus does he recognize Eve as flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.  Thus the two are inseparable.  In marriage this inherent unity returns, is fulfilled.  “Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.”

And if “a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; [and] he who finds one finds a treasure,” how much more of a shelter is a spouse in whose body one makes his home – how much more valuable a treasure?  A friend and more is made by the marriage vow, for truly the spouses become one with one another, and one with the Lord.  And so, “when you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him.”  Know that you are joining yourself to this spouse body and soul, and such commitment is not to be taken lightly or falsely, with an eye toward leaving “when sorrow comes.”  Beware, lest you find “a friend who becomes an enemy,” or that you yourself are not a trustworthy mate.  For once joined you cannot be separated, try in vain as you will.  One might as well cut off a healthy limb as seek divorce, so grotesque is the proposal.  Worse than this, it is as cutting out one’s heart, for how can one divide blood that is commingled?

But you who are faithful of heart, know what blessing awaits you, for “a faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds.”  And if you seek “discernment, that [you] may observe [God’s] law and keep it with all [your] heart,” your spouse shall serve as savior to you, who are united with her to Christ.  In her you will find your life, even as the two become one.

 

*******

O LORD, may we take refuge in your friendship.  

YHWH, bless all marriages this day; may there be true, lasting friendship between all who vow their love for one another.  May they understand the commitment they make and the grace that comes to those faithful to it. 

Let us not think that we can separate at will, O LORD; help us to realize the bond that comes even from you in this holy sacrament.  Let us not harden our hearts against your loving will but sacrifice our desires to find union with that love.  Let us never be adulterous in our relationships with one another or with you. 

You would make a sturdy shelter for all those who marry in your NAME and in the blood of your only Son.  LORD, what could be of greater worth to us than a faithful friend, a faithful husband or wife, and a marriage founded in your surpassing love?  Open all eyes to the wonders you hold for those who love as you command.  Write your NAME upon our hearts and upon our wedding promises. 

Direct download: BC-022511-F_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.5:1-8;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:50;   Mk.9:41-50)

 

“Mercy and anger are alike with Him;

upon the wicked alights His wrath.”

 

“The way of the wicked vanishes.”  It must vanish.  It cannot but vanish, for there is no place for wickedness in the kingdom of God.  And so, what is wicked must “be thrown into Gehenna”: what is to “enter life” must be purified.  Thus does the Lord command – Cut off your hand!  Cut off your foot!  Tear out your eye!  Remove even with violence whatever causes you to sin to preserve your life unto heaven.  For it is indeed better that you “enter life maimed” or “crippled” or “with one eye,” than to have your whole body cast into the fires of hell.

Do you fear being “plunged into the sea with a great millstone fastened around [your] neck”?  Does this seem a terrible fate?  The fires of hell are infinitely worse, and those of purgatory approach them.  Know that “everyone will be salted with fire”; everyone must be purified of sin.  And you can refuse this truth and so find yourself in the place “the worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished,” you can delay your purgation and suffer a measure of these flames in the state of purification after death – or you can remove the sin from your soul by the grace of God now, while there is yet time and His mercy is yet abundant.

“Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive,” you say, and you are not wrong.  But do you know how the mercy of God affects the sinful soul?  Do you think it a pleasant experience to be cleansed, to be refined as by fire?  Do you not understand that the Lord’s love and justice, His mercy and anger, are one for the wicked.  Yes, “the Lord will exact the punishment” that brings refreshment and renewal.  He must.  How else shall you be purged and purified for heaven?  All the sins upon your blackened soul are removed only by the chastising flames of His love.

So, “delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.”  Be not a fool “adding sin upon sin,” for every transgression must be accounted for.  But the Lord’s blood will wash me clean, you may say, if you have some sense of His redemptive sacrifice.  Yes, but it is still your soul that must be cleansed, and you shall own the purgatorial fires.  And so, hasten this day to the confessional; turn resolutely from your sin.  Then pray for the Lord’s indulgence, and you may be spared even temporal punishment for your transgressions (and even serve in the Lord’s stead to release others from the pain of purgatorial flames). 

*******

O LORD, we will all be salted with fire – 

may our souls be preserved from your wrath. 

YHWH, let your wrath not suddenly flame forth to destroy our lives; the way of the wicked let us not walk that the unquenchable fire we shall never know.  You cannot but be angry with those who persist in sin – you cannot pretend that such evil does not exist or look past the hardened heart.  All will know your purgatorial flames, but may they be redeeming for every soul. 

Why are we so foolish, O LORD?  Why do we not turn to you this day, this hour, and delight in the Law you offer for our salvation?  Should we not walk the way of love your Son has set forth for us and seek to soothe His desire for our love by meditating on your Word and serving those who bring it to us? 

Let us not be cast into the sea with a millstone around our necks, LORD, but drink in the running water that comes from your Church, from the side of Christ.  Only this will quench the fires of your wrath. 

Direct download: BC-022411-Th_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.4:11-19;   Ps.119:165,168,171-172,174-175;   Mk.9:38-40)

 

“Those who serve her serve the Holy One;

those who love her the Lord loves.”

 

Such is wisdom, she who “instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her,” she under whose counsel we become the children of God.

And I cannot help but think as I contemplate this personification of wisdom, how well and how appropriately she is embodied by our Blessed Mother, she who was immaculately conceived, she under whose mantle even Jesus our Savior “advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Lk.2:52).  “To Jesus through Mary” is the motto of the fortunate souls who have consecrated themselves to the Virgin (even as St. Louis De Montfort most wisely instructs), and it is through her intercession that we find God’s graces and favors lovingly bestowed upon us.  She is our dear Mother, and instructs us as she has her Son.

Indeed it is His beloved disciple John whom the Lord must admonish today, teaching him that those who do the Lord’s work serve Him, and these He blesses; and, of course, it is this same disciple to whom Jesus will entrust His Blessed Mother – and she to him – even while dying on the cross: “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn.19:26-27).  And now as she has taught Him, so she shall teach His beloved, shall teach all His Church, how to follow the Holy One.  And certainly the home into which John gathered the Virgin Mary was more than an earthly domicile: even “from that hour” he took her into his heart.

And she is with us still; she is with him who remains (see Jn.21:20-23), with the Church here on earth, serving as our Mother, guiding us in all wisdom.  And, my brother, my sister, do not be discouraged if “at first she puts [you] to the test… and tries [you] with her discipline,” for she only seeks to learn that your “heart is fully with her,” and so, fully with her Son; she only longs to teach you wisdom.  She will come back “to bring [you] happiness and reveal her secrets” to you.  And as long as you remain with her, she will hold you in her loving arms as no other mother, and form you in the divine image of her blessed Son.

O Lord, “those who love your law have great peace,” for in your wisdom all question and doubt flee.  Discipline me by your Word and form me in the womb of your Blessed Mother.  “Let my soul live to praise you,” for I would be in your company forever.  May your wisdom and grace keep me from “the hands of despoilers.”

*******

O LORD, your wisdom transcends Heaven and earth;

let us listen to your instruction.

YHWH, let us never be against you, never fail in our embrace of the wisdom and grace that pour forth from your throne.  Into your glory let us come, obediently following in the way of your Son, listening ever to His words of instruction.  If we serve Him and love Him we will know the blessings that are upon Him through you and the Spirit.

Let us not be forgetful, O LORD, forgetful of the blessings we have known or the ones which are yet promised us if we continue along the path your precepts mark out for us in this dark world.  Because the world is dark, you must sometimes hide your face from us, you must sometimes seem dark to our minds, which are clouded over by sin and the inclination to sin.  But if we reach out to you, if we seek your will, trusting in your love, we will indeed come soon to sing your praise in the surpassing light of your kingdom.

Let us fear no discipline, LORD, but rather rejoice in carrying our cross with your Son.

Direct download: BC-022311-W_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.2:1-11;   Ps.37:3-5,18-19,27-28,39-40;   Mk.9:30-37)

“My son, when you come to serve the Lord,

prepare yourself for trials.”

Is Jesus not “teaching His disciples in this vein” when He speaks of His imminent death, a death they shall share, and calls them to “remain the least one of all and the servant of all,” even as He is?  Their arguing about importance reveals that they have not understood who they are, and so He would remind them that “in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.”

A kind of humiliation is upon the Lord’s disciples today as they fall silent in shame for “arguing about who was the most important, as Jesus stands a humble, silent child “in their midst” and calls them to embrace him, even as He has.  They must make themselves lower than even this “little child,” they must be even more “sincere of heart and steadfast,” if they are to find the reward which awaits them.  Yes, they must “cling to Him” even as He clings to them – even as He clings to this child – and “thus will [their] future be great”; thus will they come through the Son to the Father in heaven.

“Crushing misfortune” awaits the Lord’s disciples, for soon He shall be taken from them, and they will understand what His death means.  But as long as they continue to “fear the Lord… [their] reward will not be lost”; for “three days after His death He will rise,” and those who give their lives as He has done, even as the least of all, shall also know what His resurrection means.

Oh brothers and sisters, “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever,” and we must be counted among their number.  The Lord “forsakes not His faithful ones”; there is no one who has “hoped in the Lord and been disappointed.”  So let our hope be in Him and our service be for Him, and He will help us to endure “whatever befalls” us.  If He is our “refuge in time of distress,” we shall know our salvation, for whoever stands with Him in times of trial will also stand with Him in glory.  Let us but remain humble before Him, as a child; let us but accept the children He would place in our arms… and the birth pangs we find will but lead us to our home in heaven.

To His house the Lord leads us, even in this life.  Let us listen to His teaching.

*******

O LORD, even in times of crushing misfortune

you are with us,

if we but turn to you in humility.

YHWH, you are more humble than a little child, and if we could but trust in you and be as you, you would care for us in all things.  Make us as your children, as humble souls in your holy hand, that into your image we may be molded.

Your Son would lead us to you, LORD.  By His death He would show us the trust we must have in your love.  We must give all things over unto you, even our very life’s breath, to find how faithful you are, to find the life that is in you.  After three days Jesus did rise, and if we but trust our own death to you, we shall rise with Him.

O LORD, let us not fear trial or distress, but in such humiliation increase our faith.  This is your gift to us; this would bring us closer to you.  And what more should we desire than to be more like you, who are more humble than a speck of dust, whose days are without end.

Direct download: BC-022211-Tu_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.1:1-10;   Ps.93:1-2,5;   Mk.9:14-29)

 

“There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring,

seated upon His throne: It is the Lord.”

 

“The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” and He alone knows “wisdom’s root” and all “her subtleties”; for it is He who created her and “poured her forth upon all His works.”  And so He alone, whose “throne stands firm from of old,” He alone understands all things, and can answer any question.  And should we not be awestruck by His presence?  

That the Lord is robed in splendor as King over all we have seen only recently.  Even today He descends from the mountain on which He was transfigured; and though His face no longer shines more brightly than the sun, yet “immediately on catching sight of Jesus, the whole crowd was overcome with awe” and rushed up to Him, for still His glorious presence overwhelms.  At the base of the mountain the crowd and the disciples are engaged with the scribes “in a lively discussion” about the condition and fate of a poor child horribly possessed by a demon.  Their words are empty wind, but the one with all answers approaches.  And with a measure of faith from the boy’s father and those surrounding, He casts out the devil which even the disciples could not command, and which the scribes could not comprehend.

“What an unbelieving lot [we] are!  How long must [the Lord] remain with [us]?  How long can [He] endure” our lack of wisdom and grace?  Brothers and sisters, why do we so lack faith?  Why do we say to the Lord, “If you can”?  Do we not know that “everything is possible to a man who trusts”?  Do we think the Lord’s power is somehow cut short?  Yes, we are weak and pitiable creatures, blind to the glory which surrounds us, but He is not!  He is that glory, and that glory He shines for us.  We need but come to Him with the awe the crowd shows today, and He will do all things for us.

“All wisdom comes from the Lord and with Him it remains forever”; and for us “fear of the Lord is glory and splendor,” for by fear of the Lord are we graced with His wisdom.  And then what shall we lack of His power?  Indeed, we shall by holy fear come to know the “holiness [that] befits [His] house” and so dwell with Him who is “from everlasting.”  Do you believe this, my brother, my sister?  Come to the One who is seated far above us, and you shall do His work here on earth with the wisdom His Blessed Mother imparts to all her blessed children. 

*******

O LORD, in your wisdom and majesty  

you save us from all evil;

let us stand with you in holiness.

YHWH, shine your wisdom upon us like holy light; let us grope in darkness no more, blind to your presence.  Jesus your Son has come down from the mountain to remain with us – may we run to Him for healing.

If wisdom had not been revealed to us, how would we know your majesty, LORD?  If the Christ had not come to us, what would we know of your glory?  But as it is, He has come, and in Him all things are ours to know.  As it is, the Spirit now breathes upon us. 

May we be blessed with fear of you, O LORD our God, that all demons may be cast from our hearts and we might stand in strength with your only Son.  O let us have faith in Him and the power at His command!  Let us know that we are the work of your hands and to holiness in your House you call us.  In awe let us come before you. 

Direct download: BC-022111-M_7_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Sm.26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23;   Ps.103:1-4,8,10,12-13;   1Cor.15:45-49;   Lk.6:27-38)

“Who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed                                               and remain unpunished?”

      This does David say of Saul the king of Israel – of him who has come into the desert to hunt David down and kill him – even as he stands beside a sleeping Saul, well able to “nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear.” But even though it seems that “God has delivered [his] enemy into [David’s] grasp,” he foregoes the opportunity, humbly respecting him whom God has ordained. Thus does he presage Christ’s own teaching to “love your enemies.”

     It is so in the heavenly teaching of the Lord that we who are to be like “the second man, from heaven,” and not like “the first [who] was from earth, earthly”; it is so that if we are to hear His words and be like Christ Himself – and who else is there to be like? – we must treat all men as David treats Saul, as if God’s anointing is upon them. All must be respected as blessed by God; all must be loved as His children. Even if they hunt us down and kill us, even if they take all things from us, yet we must pray for their souls… for still God’s blessing is upon them, and we must bless them with Him.

     Brothers and sisters, “He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Do you see this? Though in the end He will judge (and not we), yet nothing cuts short the love of God; no act of man keeps him from the Lord’s abundant grace. And we must “be merciful, just as [our] Father is merciful,” if we hope to come into His kingdom and look upon His face. For only those who are of Him enter there. If you love as a sinner loves, if you love like an earthly man, with an earthly mind and an earthly heart, expecting something in return, how can you hope to be where He is, He who does not measure His love in earthly terms? Unending is His love, surpassing all and overwhelming all in its infinite greatness… and will you count the pennies that you offer? You need only look upon the cross, upon the corpus fixed firmly there, to see the love to which you are called: you must “bear the image of the heavenly” man.

     And you need only look clearly at what the Lord has done in your own life, He who “pardons all your iniquities, [who] heals all your ills,” to understand His call. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us.” And should we not do the same for others who have sinned against us, who have nailed us to the tree? Or would you fall short of His love? “Merciful and gracious is the Lord,” and if He does not “requite us according to our crimes” but treats us “as a father [who] has compassion on his children,” so all men should be as the Lord’s blessed children in our eyes.

Written, Read, and Chanted by James Kurt.

Music: "True Love" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us to love our enemies

even as your Son has done for all of us sinners.

     YHWH, you are gracious and merciful, but we are weak and sinful. How shall we be like you? How shall we bear the image of your Son? How shall we move from being earthly to heavenly men? Indeed, it is only by your mercy.

     O LORD, we must reflect your great mercy if we are to find the mercy we so desperately need for our own souls. And sharing in this mercy of yours is mercy itself, is your greatest gift to us, your poor creatures. What more could we hope for than to be like you? For what more could we ask than to be of your love?

     You it is who pardon all our iniquities, who spare sinful man. Though our deeds against you deserve death, though for our crimes we merit destruction – though we should be nailed to the ground with one thrust of your spear, we are freed from such a fate by your Son’s sacrifice on the Cross… and we are called to join Him there. Forgive all who sin against us, LORD, that we might be saved.

Direct download: BC-021807-Su_7_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O disciple of John

and shepherd who drank deeply

of the cup of Christ’s suffering,

you who bore both

the burden of a long life

and the pain of a violent death

yet remained faithful

till the end –

pray that the fire into which we are cast

we may also endure

as the sacrifice of Jesus

and so find it fruitful,

and so find it blessed…

and so rejoice in the witness

we are granted to give

in the name of our Savior.

May the offering of our lives

join with your own and all the saints’

in rising as holy incense

to the throne of God

and serve as witness,

to the eyes that behold us,

of the Lord’s great power and love.

Direct download: Feb._23_Polycarp.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Heb.11:1-7;   Ps.145:2-5,10-11;   Mk.9:2-13)

 

“Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here.”

 

In yesterday’s gospel Jesus promised, “Among those standing here there are some who will not taste death until they see the reign of God established in power.”  And today we witness the keeping of that promise, as upon “a high mountain” Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John.  In all His glory does the Christ appear, with Elijah and Moses standing near and the voice of God the Father speaking of the blessing of His only Son.  Indeed, how good it is for these apostles to be here!

But what these favored apostles see is not for their eyes alone; through them all shall come to believe and so find vision of our glorious Lord.  Through them and their witness, faith is strengthened in all our hearts, faith which enables us to “perceive that the worlds were created by the word of God, and that what is visible came into being through the invisible.”  Yes, the invisible is made known to all our eyes by the power of God, and all the Lord’s disciples join Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor, basking in the vision of the glorified Son.

Know first though, brothers and sisters, that “anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.”  Indeed, first one must have faith, or to one’s eyes nothing will be revealed.  Have faith and know that God is a loving God, that He desires greatly to share His glory with all His children of faith; even as He has with Peter, James, and John; even as He has with Abel, Enoch, and Noah; even as He has with Moses and Elijah.  But it is only “because of faith the men of old were approved by God,” only because of faith His apostles were able to see His Light shining – and only by your faith that you too will come into His presence.  Have you their “confident assurance” burning in your souls?  It is not far from you.

O Lord, “let all your faithful ones bless you.  Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.”  Let all proclaim the favor with which you have deigned to grace their lives.  Now that you have “risen from the dead,” now that our cause for faith is made complete, now that its firm foundation is set… open our mouths to declare your glory.  We know that you had to “suffer much and be despised” and that with Elijah, with the Baptist, “they did entirely as they pleased,” but we do not fear the persecution which must come – only let us be where you are.

 

*******

 

O LORD, make visible to us your invisible presence

and let us live in the light of your glory.

 

     YHWH, if we had but faith in you, what might our eyes not see? What awe might we know in your presence if our hearts were but set on worship of your glorious majesty.

     And why should we not have faith, LORD? Are there not signs of your glory everywhere, and most of all within our souls? Can we not hear you speaking to us if we but listen? Could we not see you if we but opened our eyes?

     Why should we need the proof this world requires when the proof you give is so much greater? Are we not living in your Word, O LORD? Are you not hope itself? Then let us but live and we shall know you, and such knowledge will be undeniable.

     Reveal to us your glory, LORD. Let us know what your apostles know; let us be witness to your majesty. Now that Jesus is risen let all the ends of the earth declare that your glory has come among us.

Direct download: BC-021911-Sa_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O Rock of the Church,

leader of God’s people

to whom the Father has revealed

the divinity of His Son

and on whom the Son has therefore

built His Church,

giving you the keys to the kingdom,

the power to bind and loose

both on earth and in Heaven,

that the ship you steer

might conquer all Satan’s power

by the power of the Spirit

with which you serve your brothers,

secure in the blessed protection

and guidance of the Lord –

pray the Church you do yet lead

shall fulfill the call

the Christ has placed

upon every soul

and that we shall come to our heavenly home

in the light of the Messiah.

Pray we shall indeed be strong

and give faithful witness to our Savior. 

Direct download: Feb._22_Chair_of_Peter.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

(1Pt.5:1-4;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mt.16:13-19)

 

“On this rock I will build my Church.”

 

And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests.  It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”  Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all.

It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself.  Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.”  It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm.  “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock.

How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.”  How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed.  The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them.  It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Christ’s own special children.

To those who still doubt the primacy of Peter and its absolute necessity, I invite you to read again Scripture and notice how often and always Peter speaks for the whole and acts for the whole body as he does today.  It is to all the apostles Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” and though all may have faith, only one speaks up and answers in no uncertain terms.  As he does at the first council at Jerusalem, as he did in coming to the Lord on the water, Peter speaks and leads in the power of the Spirit.  The Church is one in Christ, and it has one rock it is set upon.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, as long as we remain in your House

we shall be secure,

for the faith of Peter will strengthen us. 

YHWH, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven you entrust to Peter; he is the Rock upon which your Church is set, the chief Shepherd leading all the rest.  Though your Son alone be the cornerstone, the true foundation of this House, it is into the hands of Peter you entrust your flock by his confession of faith.

You are at his side always, ever assisting him in leading the ewes with care.  It is by your Spirit he rules this House, generously giving his life in union with Jesus, our Savior.  And so, in verdant pastures your sheep make their home.  In your presence we are blessed to remain by your grace upon our souls, dearest LORD.

O living God, bless this day all your bishops and priests, and especially the Holy Father.  You indeed bless them by revealing yourself to them and strengthening them for the work they must accomplish.  With them may we all walk in the footsteps of your Son, laying down our lives for all, that we might come to eternal rest in the glory of your kingdom.

Direct download: Chair_of_St._Peter_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

O blessed reformer of the Church

who by a holy austerity

cleansed your soul

of the corruption of this world

and served by example

to lead others to a religious life –

teach us this day

of the chastising hand of God

and the suffering which leads

to joy,

that in the will of the Lord

we might all be purged

of our dross

and come to the kingdom of Heaven.

Pray that we, too, might realize

and so benefit from

the blessing upon us

when our souls are lashed

with pains

that threaten sorrow,

for He does but wish to lift us

from the sinfulness of this passing earth

to the consolation of His presence.

Direct download: Feb._21_Peter_Damian.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.9:1-13;   Ps.102:16-23,29;   Mk.8:27-33)

 

“The children of your servants shall abide,

and their posterity shall continue in your presence.”

 

In our first reading from Genesis, God remakes the world.  As once He sent forth Adam and Eve upon their creation, so now He blesses Noah and his sons with the same words: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.”  Here we are reminded that “in the image of God has man been made,” and once again God calls man to “abound on the earth and subdue it,” giving him power over all its living creatures.  And now a promise is added, a covenant is made “between [God] and the earth,” sealed with the sign of the rainbow – “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth”…  We shall endure on the land He has made for us.

And the Lord works to remake His people in our gospel as well, as “on the way He ask[s] His disciples… ‘Who do you say that I am?’”  He is the new Creation, He is “the Messiah,” and in Him all children shall be remade in the image of God, shall become as His only Son.  And these truly shall endure, their posterity shall continue forever in the presence of Him who never dies.  Even after the final destruction of this earth and those who cling to it by the fire of God, even beyond the covenant made with Noah, which shall so soon pass with the dust from which we were made… eternally we shall remain in the new heavens and the new earth, the ones which themselves will never pass away.  For God’s promise to Noah is only for as long as the earth endures, but the earth is indeed passing away: only the covenant Jesus is bringing to His disciples and their posterity is one which is lasting as Heaven.

But to achieve this covenant, to found it firmly in the soul of Peter and his brothers and all us children of these servants, death must come to the only Son, and so surely to us all.  The paradox seems difficult to comprehend, but with the vision of God, who “look[s] down from His holy height,” it is easy to see: as long as the earth endures and we upon it, so long shall sin also endure.  (This is what the Lord sees when “from heaven He [beholds] the earth.”)  Thus the only way to “release those doomed to die” by their imprisonment to sin is for the corrupted vessel in which we dwell to pass from the Lord’s sight.  Thus does Jesus Christ die.  This must He do in the place of evil man and all his abominations that the world now in the hands of Satan might be destroyed, and the Spirit of God come to life.  And so His sacrifice brings our salvation, brings us new life in the New Jerusalem, where the servants of the Lord increase and multiply.  In the domain He has prepared by His blood, let us ever remain.

 

*******

O LORD, look down and save us from destruction

by the sacrifice of your only Son.

     YHWH, what do you see as you look down on us from your holy height? Can you be pleased with your creatures if they do not follow your ways? You desire to give us the earth and all it holds, but we are not worthy of such a gift. And so you send your only Son to redeem us, to remake us in your image, that we might be pleasing to you and that we might inherit not just this world but eternal life in Him who dies for us. Praise you for your kindness toward us! Let us come to Him and follow in His way.

     Jesus dies for us, LORD. In flesh He comes and offers His life that all the corruption upon us might be taken away, that it might die with Him on the Cross. And should we not follow Him to the Cross? Should we not see that all that is evil in us dies with Him that we might rise unto your heavenly kingdom? O let it be so! Let us come to the place where we shall never be destroyed. Look down upon us and hear our prayer.

Direct download: BC-021711-Th_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.8:6-13,20-22;   Ps.116:12-15,17-19;   Mk.8:22-26)

 

“Noah then removed the covering of the ark

and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.”

 

A return to earth, the flood waters having ceased.  A new day dawns in this “the first month, on the first day of the month.”  The world is made anew, and it shall last, and man shall last upon it, until the last day comes.  Here is the second Creation, the first re-creation… the new generation extending from Noah.  After the cleansing rain, a soft white glow is upon the earth, a radiance of God’s presence.

Gradually it comes to us, this vision of new life that is the Lord Himself.  Three times Noah sent the dove forth from the ark before the blessed moment came when “it did not come back,” when all could rejoice that the waters had subsided.  And twice the Lord touched the blind man’s eyes before “his sight was restored and he could see everything clearly.”  Just as first the dove came back quickly, then with a “plucked-off olive leaf” in its bill (showing that the tops of trees were visible), before finding a place to make a home; so first the man sees people “like walking trees” before the Lord touches Him again and perfect vision becomes his own.  It is only gradually – day by day, week by week, year by year – that we come to full awareness of the Lord and with Him make our home.

And once out of the ark, “Noah built an altar to the Lord.”  And how pleased the Lord is with the “sweet odor” of the sacrifice he offers.  Here is the beginning of the sacrifices at the heart of Jewish worship which shall find their place in the temple at Jerusalem, “in the courts of the house of the Lord,” and know their fulfillment in the eternal sacrifice of the only Son.  Of course, it is not the odor alone which pleases the Lord, but what it signifies: Noah thinks first of Him who always thinks of us first, and so engages God in a marvelous mutual love.  Here our second human father reveals to the Lord that the goodness He has planted in us is not gone, that it is not necessarily so that “the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start,” that he is capable of love… though this truth shall not be known in full until the redemptive offering of Christ on the cross.

“As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,” and mankind shall not be struck again from the land.  “How shall [we] make a return to the Lord” for this special blessing?  And how shall we repay Him for “the cup of salvation” we now “take up,” the cup which holds the blood of the Son?  For Noah’s sacrifice is indeed made complete in our midst, before our eyes, and the waters that once threatened to overwhelm us now recede as we discover our home in the heavenly kingdom.  We must show that the fullness of God’s love exists in us and join our lives to our Savior’s holy sacrifice.

 

*******

O LORD, open our eyes

that we might know your presence among us

and offer you due praise in the sacrifice of our lives.

     YHWH, may our sacrifice be acceptable in your sight. May it come from a sincere heart and express our gratitude for saving us from the overwhelming waters of our sins. May it be joined to the sacrifice of your Son and so be fruitful, and so serve to keep us from all harm and bring us to your kingdom.

     Our blindness we beg you cure, LORD, by the grace at the hands of Jesus. May He take us aside and place us in your presence that we might be healed of all that keeps us from knowing you and praising you for your goodness. Help us to have faith that you are leading us to the land you promise, to the new heavens and new earth. For this grace let us ever call upon your NAME.

     And help us to make return to you, O LORD, you who alone deserve our worship and love. A holy offering may we lift up even as we lay down our lives with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021611-W_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.6:5-8,7:1-5,10;   Ps.29:1-4,9-11;   Mk.8:14-21)

 

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters,

the Lord, over vast waters.”

 

“Mighty” indeed is the voice of God, but who can hear it?  Who listens to its “majestic” ringing in their ears?

In the time of Noah the Lord’s “heart was grieved,” for He “saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil.”  So great was the Lord’s grief over man’s disobedience that He uttered the saddest words we could hear: “I am sorry I made them,” and resolved to “wipe [them] out from the earth.”  If we have not pleased our Father, what hope have we of life?  If we have not listened to His voice, what can we hear but a sentence of condemnation?

It seems Jesus’ heart is grieved, too, today at His disciples’ ignorance of His instruction.  Here in a boat upon the waters His voice chastises their slowness to comprehend His call to wakefulness in the Spirit: “Are your minds completely blinded?  Have you eyes but no sight?  Ears but no hearing?” and finally, “Do you still not understand?”  And though He seems eminently frustrated by the fact that their vision is still trained so stubbornly on the bread of earth rather than the Bread of heaven, though they so quickly forget the miracles He has worked and the power He has revealed, yet He shall not remove them from His sight, but continue in patience with their schooling. 

For just as “Noah found favor with the Lord” and thus served to salvage our race from utter destruction, so the Lord’s apostles have found favor with Him.  And Jesus knows that as “Noah did just as the Lord had commanded him,” putting complete faith in God’s word, so these disciples will also in strength and in faith carry out His mission after His own death and resurrection, after His ascension into heaven… and with the Holy Spirit’s power upon them.  As in Noah’s ark God keeps man’s “issue alive over all the earth,” preserving them from the flood, so now in the barque of Peter “all the [Lord’s] household” takes refuge from the fiery destruction that is coming upon the world in these the last days.

Like the “one loaf” the disciples hold in their hands is the Church of the Lord – it is all that is needed for food in this world.  And so as we sail along to the farther shore, let us listen to God’s mighty voice speaking through Her.  As the end approaches, be sure to heed the Lord’s instruction: “Keep your eyes open!”  Beware the hypocrisy and pride of the powers that be.

 

*******

O LORD, how shall we be just in your sight

and begin to understand your majesty and glory?

YHWH, you are majestic, exalted far above earth and sea and every living creature.  But we are deaf and blind to your ways, and so, beset by wickedness.  How shall we hear your mighty voice calling to us over the waters, calling to us in your Son?  How shall we heed the thunder of your glory and praise you in your Temple with full voice?  How do we begin to understand what is far beyond our poor minds?

Send your Spirit upon us, LORD, that we might know and eat the Bread that is your Son, that we might be saved from the destruction that is coming upon all living things.  Into your Ark let us come, into your holy Church; with your apostles let us dwell, enlightened by your teaching and sharing in your food.

The Bread of Heaven make our own, LORD, that we might rise above the earth to where you dwell enthroned in glory and majesty with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021511-Tu_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.4:1-15,25;   Ps.50:1,8,14,16-17,20-21;   Mk.8:11-13)

 

“Sin is a demon lurking at the door:

his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”

 

Thus does the Lord encourage Cain not to hang his head at his failures in worship but to learn from his errors and be strong.  Here already in Scripture we see how redemption is possible, how God gives us power to conquer sin.  But Cain does not fight off the demon at his door but instead attacks his brother Abel, killing him who has overcome sin.  The jealous demons write their name in Abel’s blood, by the hand of Cain his brother.

And the Pharisees are the same as Cain.  It is they of whom our psalmist sings, they who “recite [the Lord’s] statutes, and profess [His] covenant with [their] mouth,” but whose hearts are far from Him and who “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” themselves.  It is they who “sit speaking against [their] brother,” for indeed they come to “argue with Jesus,” to “test” Him who is most especially their brother, who is their Messiah.  And it is they who will shed their brother’s blood, who will conspire to kill their own “mother’s Son.”  And though Jesus Himself “correct[s] [them] by drawing [their sin] up before [their] eyes,” yet, like Cain, they refuse to see the evil taking hold of them, and so will be unable to turn from it.  And their punishment shall be greater than that of Cain, for so much greater is their sin.  As Cain is banished from the soil which had been his own, so the covenant which the Lord had given into the Chosen people’s possession shall be taken from their leaders’ hands, and they shall be left empty – except for the hope of turning to Him and cleansing themselves in Jesus’ blood.

The sign the Pharisees seek is essentially one they would make with their own hands, one which they would find at their command.  But “no such sign will be given” them, for then truly would they be condemned.  They must come to the sign Jesus is and accept it as the Lord God offers – their attempts to control the Father’s will are perhaps the most tragic of transgressions.  They say, as does Cain, that God must accept matters their way and are not humble to His Son’s teaching.  And so, sadly for them, “He left them” there on the shore alone, burning in their jealousy.

Fight the demons, brothers and sisters.  Ward off sin in all its forms.  The Lord promises we shall have the strength, if we are willing to turn from our sins and accept His chastising word… and wash ourselves in His cleansing blood.  But if we remain “resentful” and so “deaf” to the Lord’s correction, what shall save our souls?  And with Cain we will wander restlessly the earth, avoiding the glorious presence of the Lord. 

*******

O LORD, we are a jealous race;

forgive our shedding the blood of our Brother.

YHWH, how sinful we are!  How we turn our hand against our brother, inflicting upon him the punishment for our guilt.  In condemning others we seek to rid ourselves of the condemnation we deserve; but this only brings the punishment on our own heads.  Help us to admit our sin and turn away from it!

Killing our Brother will not free us from the death upon our souls.  O LORD, how can we be so blind, so hardhearted, as to think such wickedness is our salvation?  Jesus comes to us as our Brother, as the one closest to us and most concerned for our well-being… but we cannot bear to hear His voice speaking of our need to turn away from sin, and so, what can we do but kill Him?  O set us free from bloodguilt!

Accept the sacrifice of a pure heart, dear God; make our offering to you sincere.  Our very hearts let us give in the service of our brother.

Direct download: BC-021411-M_6_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O seven men

who lived as one

in service of the Lord

under the mantle of Our Lady,

you who left everything of this world,

all you bought and sold,

that you might discover the riches

of Heaven:

to the mountain you went

to find perfection –

to the mountain let us come

to live with God.

Led by the prompting of our Lord and Lady,

let us, too, be fruitful on this plane,

founded in humility and love and poverty,

living as one in the Body of Christ,

freely giving our lives

and so knowing the blessing

of the virtues upon which you fed.

Pray for us through our Mother

that we too follow the call of her Son.

Direct download: Feb._17_Seven_Founders_of_the_Order_of_Servites.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Jer.17:5-8;  Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;  1Cor.15:12,16-20;  Lk.6:17,20-26)

 “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,                         we are the most pitiable people of all.”

     For His reward is in heaven; His kingdom is not of the earth. And our faith is in His resurrection.

     It is not to this world we come, not in the things of the earth we make our boast, for he “who seeks his strength in flesh” is he “whose heart turns away from the Lord” and His holy kingdom… but we are among those “whose hope is the Lord.” The contrast could not be clearer than it is today in our readings: on the one hand is he who “delights in the law of the Lord” and so follows His ways; and on the other, he who “walks in the way of sinners,” finding his delight in the world. And the blessing and the curse each respectively finds is also made obvious for us – one path leads to resurrection and life, the other to a miserable death. And which shall we choose, the kingdom of God or the prison of man… the blessing or the curse?

     “Woe to you who are rich… to you who are filled now… to you who laugh,” for a fate worse than death awaits you – the pleasures you take in your insolence will soon turn to the most despicable bitterness. You stand “in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth,” and in it you shall sink if you do not soon look to the light of Christ. The poor and hungry souls who weep and mourn for your salvation, who suffer persecution by your haughty tongue will soon “rejoice and leap for joy” – on the day of resurrection you can count. And what will become of your own soul when you stand, or cringe, before the otherworldly light of your Creator? What shall you then say?

     The time is short. The rewards of heaven are near. Let us take strength in the Lord’s resurrection. Let us bear joyfully His cross. Though drought be upon the land, and though it show itself in His Church, we must be one with Him who “still bears fruit,” planted eternally beside the nourishing streams of our Christ. Him they stripped of even His clothing; His skin they scourged at the devil’s command. His flesh they nailed to the dying tree – a worm and no man. But He lives, be assured of this; His Spirit never fails. And body and soul He looks out from heaven, waiting for us to join Him there…

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Ballad to the World" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us not know the curse

of the world’s acceptance and your rejection,

but the blessing of being your humble children.

 

     YHWH, like a tree planted near running water let us be, fruitful as your Son who alone has your Spirit upon Him. Why should we turn to things that take us from your way? Why should we desire to stand in an empty, lava waste? His Cross let us lift up onto our shoulders, that we might rise to you.

     O LORD, let us not follow the way of the wicked and so be driven to distress. Their counsel let us not take upon ourselves. Let us rather trust in your Son and meditate on His Word day and night. For here is wisdom that reaches unto Heaven. Here in the call to lay down our lives, to die with your Christ, we find our way to eternal life, where we will leap for joy forevermore.

     Our hunger now is but a yearning for your face, our weeping but a cry to look upon you. And in such suffering itself we find your presence, LORD, for we share this grief with your Son, who now reigns on high.

Direct download: BC-021410-Su_6_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Gn.3:9-24;   Ps.90:1-6,12-13;   Mk.8:1-10)

 

“You are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

 

Because of the fall we come face-to-face with this truth: our own mortality, our own humility, that we are but a creature made from the dust of the earth.  And this truth we must understand.  Because we have “eaten from the tree of which [God] had forbidden [us] to eat,” “thorns and thistles” the earth brings forth for us and “by the sweat of [our] face shall [we] get bread to eat,” until we learn our place – for our own sakes – before our Creator, or “until we return to the ground, from which we were taken.”

“Cursed be the ground because of you!” the Lord God exclaims to the man.  The womb of the woman, like the earth for man, shall bring her pain in bearing children, in bearing her fruit… and the serpent shall eat dust “all the days of [his] life.”  If now we should eat of the tree of life, to what state would we be condemned!  How shall we be saved from such a fate, wherein our own flesh brings upon us such pangs – how shall we escape ourselves?  And how shall we look upon God again?

“Teach us to number our days aright,” our psalmist cries, “that we may gain wisdom of heart.”  And what is he asking but that we realize, as God would teach us, that though He is “from everlasting to everlasting,” that though for Him “a thousand years are as… a watch of the night,” we are “like the changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.”  So passing is our life.  This indeed we must comprehend, for this is truth, and failing to understand it we shall not find answer to our prayer: “Return, O Lord!  How long?  Have pity on your servants!”  But knowing our limitations before our God, He comes quickly to remedy our weakness.

See how Jesus looks upon those who “were without anything to eat,” those whose bodies fainted before His eyes.  Listen to the thought of His heart: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.  By now they have been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way.  Some of them have come a great distance.”  Oh how the Lord has pity on us!  Oh how He knows our plight – that we are but fading grass, having been far removed from His sight!  And how He wills to feed us, to nourish those who come to Him, who share the “three days” of His trial.  For though they toiled not, “the people in the crowd ate their fill” in the most peaceful of fields.  The Lord had come to save them!  And now eternal life is upon them.

Brothers and sisters, we need no longer fear our dying flesh, for the Lord feeds us with Bread that does not fail, that brings life eternal to the lowly body that eats it.  And so, no longer are we dust alone, though to dust our body may return.  But we become eternal souls in the hand of our Savior, eating from the tree of life He is.  In all humility let us receive His gift, His saving presence among us.  And to God we shall return, and now forever.

 

*******

O LORD, feed us with the Bread of life

that we might lie in the dust no more.

YHWH, have pity on our weakness, for our flesh is like the changing grass – we do but wilt and fade.  Weak in body and in spirit we find ourselves separated from you by our sins, by our disobedience to your command.  You care only for our good; let us come to you and remain with you till you take pity on our souls.

You give us food to eat, O LORD, even the body of your only Son.  Let us not prefer the food of this world or that which the devil offers.  If our eyes are opened unto death, if we but see our weakness, our nakedness before you, without realizing your eternal love… to what end shall we come?  We shall but return to dust.

Your punishments are good, LORD; your chastisements are what heal our tortured souls.  Let our suffering be joined to Jesus’ own, that we shall hunger for you alone, and in our humility you will be quick to feed us and return us to your fold.

Direct download: BC-021211-Sa_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.3:1-8;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7;   Mk.7:31-37)

 

“The eyes of both of them were opened,

and they realized that they were naked.”

 

How different this opening of the eyes of Adam and Eve is from the opening of the deaf man’s ears in our gospel; for our first parents’ eyes were opened unto blindness, but the deaf mute’s ears and tongue only to light.

Why this difference?  Why such contrast in the freeing of the senses to receive their signals?  Why is one evil and the other good?  The opening of the eyes of the man and the woman brings their downfall because they are not prepared for what they see.  They seek to be “like gods who know what is good and what is bad,” but they have not the skins to hold such wine of wisdom.  And so they burst.  And so they died before the glorious light suddenly before them… and so “the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden,” for they could not show their faces of dust before His Face of Majesty.  (Indeed, the woman first erred when she “answered the serpent,” when she responded to his enticement, not realizing she was no match for his “cunning”… much as she failed to understand she is no match for God’s wisdom.)

On the other hand, the opening of the deaf man’s ears and the loosing of his tongue is prepared by Jesus Christ, He in whose presence we are able to see light itself, He who provides the new wineskins for our becoming like God, enabling us to stand before the wonder of His Holy Face.  Notice how “Jesus took him off by himself away from the crowd” before healing the deaf-mute; see how this contrasts with Adam and Eve’s hiding from God.  Where they would avoid the glance of the Lord, Jesus brings the man closer to Him by drawing him away from the crowds; and there, more perfectly in His presence, He heals him.  And the man is healed, of course, because he himself does not hide: he is brought openly by his friends to Jesus.  In this way he “acknowledged [his] sin” before God; his “guilt [he] covered not” (as the man and woman covered their nakedness with fig leaves).  No, in his “spirit there is no guile,” and so his “fault is taken away”; and so, paradoxically, he who “confess[es] his sin to the Lord,” as the humble King David, finds that by the Lord his “sin is covered” – he is forgiven.

Brothers and sisters, let us learn to open our tattered souls to our Lord and God, never to hide; for to hide is hell and the Lord calls us to Him in the light of heaven.  And He will prepare our eyes to see, and He will make our ears ready to hear, and our tongues shall be loosed to praise His name and exclaim our amazement at His grace… for we shall be released from the blindness of sin and be as His Son, who alone can answer the devil.

 

*******

O LORD, let us hear your voice calling us

to confess our sins and return to you this day.

YHWH, how terrible it is when we transgress your Word, when we rebel against your loving will!  We are blinded by our sin even as our eyes are opened to our weakness… and so we hide from your glory, which we cannot contain.

We have bodies, LORD.  You have made us so.  We are not like you, pure Spirit and perfect Light.  And how weak our bodies can be when we lack your secure protection, when we lose your presence with us by our failing to love you.  Who can save us from such travail?  Who can open our ears again to hear and heed your holy Word?

O LORD, as we confess our faults to you, as we come before your Son to seek His healing – He who comes to show us that we are like you (for He is like you and we like Him), He who would restore us to our place as your children, blessed to be in your image… then our nakedness is covered; it is taken away as we reveal our weakness before you.  Let us listen only to you!

Direct download: BC-021111-F_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O brothers in the faith

who brought that same faith

to the peoples

entrusted to your care,

who extended the reach of the Church,

gathering in lands

under her holy roof

and into her blessed arms…

faithful you were unto death

in proclaiming the word of God –

please pray that we, too,

shall be holy brothers of Christ,

offering our work, our lives,

for the sake of the nations

yet to be called

into His fold,

for the sake of peoples

unfamiliar with His Word,

that the heavenly kingdom

may come to fulfillment

and all be made one in God’s presence.

Direct download: Feb._14_Cyril_and_Methodius.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.2:18-25;   Ps.128:1-5;   Mk.7:24-30)

 

“A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,

and the two of them become one body.”

 

And Jesus leaves His Father’s side and His mother’s care, and takes to wife His chosen people.  From His side indeed we are born, and become His holy family.

To the “sons of the household” Jesus comes; among the Israelites He walks, calling them to His table to eat the food of eternal life, of eternal union with Him and His Father.  Those who were conceived by God, who were taken as a rib from His own side and formed as His special bride, Jesus seeks to bring to full nuptial blessing in Him.  For this He would even die (as any man should for his wife).  But one “approached Him and crouched at His feet” who was not among those called to the “table first,” who was not of the family of the Chosen.  Unfazed by His rebuff she continues begging, not for “the food of the children” but just for their “leavings,” their crumbs, knowing even this will be enough to join her to His banquet, believing only a word from His mouth will save her own daughter from the devil’s clutches and bring her to His sacred presence.

And moved is He by her who is unmoved by His rebuke.  And so, “when she got home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.”  And so she finds herself and her family wed to Jesus the Christ.  Why?  Because she is one who does indeed “fear the Lord,” who does in fact “walk in His ways”; crawling on her knees before Him, she finds herself “happy” and “favored,” eating “the fruit of [her] handiwork.”  She knows she is not one of the “wild animals” or of the “birds of the air”: she is made in God’s image, a human being, and is inextricably drawn to His side, the side from which she has been born… and thus she finds her life and becomes with her daughter (with all us Gentile people) one of the “olive plants around [His] table,” grafted onto His “fruitful vine.”

Let man love woman as his own flesh, and let all men love one another as fellow children, for our Father in heaven loves us all much more greatly and draws us all to be wed to Him through our Bridegroom, His only Son.  As His side is opened by the lance and so we His Church are born in His blood, washed clean by His holy water, so let husbands give themselves for their wives, knowing they are “taken from” their own sides.  Yes, let us all die for one another that the love of God might extend to “the recesses of [His] home,” from which no soul is excluded.  In His blessed marriage feast let us all shout for joy!

 

*******

O LORD, blessed are those

who humble themselves before you;

they shall be joined to you.

YHWH, flesh of your flesh we are; flesh of your flesh let us be, wed to you through the flesh of your only Son.  One with you let us dwell forever, for from you our very lives taken.

And help us thus to love one another, LORD.  If you love us so much to give us yourself, let us then reflect your love and so give ourselves for the sake of others.  Let husbands love their wives and all souls serve the needs of others, finding great joy and blessing in thus serving your will.

To your table let all come, LORD, that they might share the food of your children, the Bread that is Jesus your Son, the Word that is your Spirit.  May all souls recognize the greatness and the goodness of Him who walks among us, and may we be hidden with Him in you and so become your fruitful children.  In faith let us be born and live in you and with you forever; let none be alone or apart from you.

Direct download: BC-021011-Th_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.2:4-9,15-17;   Ps.104:1-2,27-30;   Mk.7:14-23)

 

“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground

and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,

and so man became a living being.”

 

In addition, “out of the ground the Lord God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food.”  These would feed the body of the man.  But only spirit feeds the soul. 

Body and soul.  They meet in man and become one, yet one is the cause of life while the other passes.  When God formed man out of the clay of the ground, what He held in His hands was the body, and at the time it was dead.  Not until He breathed into him did man become alive: in this breath he found his soul.  And the time shall come when this form does rot, but not the soul.  Only in heaven will we have bodies that live eternally with our spirits (though certain saints – as did our Blessed Mother – may know this holy union even here on earth.)

And so does Jesus tell us “that nothing that enters a man from outside can make him impure,” and, to make this point graphically clear, adds, “It does not penetrate his being, but enters his stomach only and passes into the latrine.”  What is of the body is just so passing, and therefore of no consequence.  It is “what emerges from within a man” that “makes him impure.”  For sins such as “acts of fornication, theft, murder,” etc. are not the result of the food we eat, but of the thoughts in “the deep recesses of the heart.”  These are what make a man impure – or, by contrast, which will make him pure.  It is the soul that is capable of good or evil, not the body.  And even though it is eating of the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” that causes man’s downfall, this is not the result of the fruit itself, but of the covetousness and pride of man’s disobedience.  It is the ‘eating,’ the desire of the eye and the heart and the act which follows, which constitutes the sin, and not the fruit eaten.

Our psalmist speaks of the body and soul as well.  It is so that by the Lord we are “filled with good things,” that He gives us “food in due time,” food we need for our survival; but as the psalmist says of the soul, “If you take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust.”  How quickly we would die, in a moment or two, without the breath of God in our nostrils, without His Word to give us life.  And what great care we should take of the spirit that enters our beings.  May our souls ever be set upon our God and His teaching.  May our every thought and word and action be of Him, that we shall never be disobedient.  O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”  Give us your divine breath of life in our nostrils this day.

 

*******

O LORD, you make us of the clay of the earth,

but it is not the body that is of consequence

but the Spirit breathing within us –

let it be your own.

YHWH, it is you who make us of the clay of the ground and you who breathe the breath of life into our nostrils.  It is you who feed us in both body and spirit – you are our LORD and God.

It is you who care for us each day, O LORD, you who send your Son to take away our sins.  He reveals to us that it is not the flesh that gives life but the Spirit that is within; and He would cleanse us of all iniquity that we might stand as your sons always.

Though Jesus comes in the flesh and gives us of His flesh to eat, this food is not the passing kind but that which lasts unto eternal life.  And so, LORD, we pray that we shall embrace Him and the Word, the Spirit, He imparts to us.  Thus will we  be raised from the dust of death, from the chains that bind us to this earth, and rise with Him unto Heaven.

  Feed us with your Word, LORD, that we might be renewed and live forever in your Garden.    

Direct download: BC-020911-W_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Gn.1:20-2:4;   Ps.8:2,4-9;   Mk.7:1-13)

 

“God created man in His image;

in the divine image He created him.”

 

At God’s word “the water teem[s] with an abundance of living creatures… birds fly beneath the dome of the sky,” and “the earth bring[s] forth all kinds of living creatures,” too.  And “God saw how good it was.”  Then God conceived the crown of His creation and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  And so, “little less than the angels He made him” and gave him “dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”  And all this was “very good” in God’s eyes.  Alleluia!

But what does man do with this ultimate blessing from His Creator: he takes the freedom and power placed in his hands and makes himself a slave to “cups and jugs and kettles,” forever trying to wash his hands clean of the sin upon them.  God gives man “rule over the works of [His] hands, putting all things under his feet,” and all man can do is trample upon them as he forgets the God who made him.

“How accurately Isaiah prophesied about [us] hypocrites when he wrote…  ‘Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.’”  Placing our traditions and practices above God’s commandments we lose sight of the glory upon us, of the majesty of God’s works around us, as we lock ourselves in a dark and empty room of our own making.  And all the creatures God has placed in our unclean hands suffer too, as our hearts turn from their stewardship to our selfish plottings.  And so, though we are crowned by God “with glory and honor,” we crown Him with thorns.

O Lord, “what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?”  Lord, come and restore us to our former glory.  Father, let us give you true honor.  May your Word be made fruitful in our lives and we become as your Son.  Let all be blessed and made holy again in your sight.  In Jesus’ blood please wash our hands, that we might help you build your peaceful kingdom.

 

*******

O LORD, may your Word be fulfilled in us;

may we who were created in your image

be recreated in the image of your Son,

washed clean in His blood.

YHWH, you place all things in our hands, and we but corrupt them.  Your glory and majesty you reflect in your creation, and especially in man, but he cares not well for your gift and abuses his dominion.  His hands are not subject to your will but soiled by his own, and so creation with them.

In your image you create us, LORD: what greater blessing could there be!  Like gods we are made to reflect your presence on this plane – why have we gone so astray?  And how shall we return to you?  Only by heeding the chastising word of your only Son, who speaks with your own authority.  Listening to Him we heed your commands; turning from Him we can only be condemned.

Thank you for all your blessings, LORD, for the beauty and goodness of your creation.  Most of all, we thank you for making us in your image.  Let us not nullify your word and remove ourselves from your presence, but honor you in all we do.

Direct download: BC-020811-Tu_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O lovely Lady who appeared to Bernadette,

Mary, Blessed Virgin and Mother of our Lord –

let our eyes, too, see your beauty

and hear your voice

calling us to pray for sinners,

calling us to come to you with our prayers

and to wash ourselves clean

in the water you provide

through Jesus your Son.

O Immaculate Conception,

so pure, so full of grace,

cleanse all our sickness from us;

let us be immersed

in the bath of purity

that washes us of sin,

that makes us whole

in the sight of God.

If we but had innocent hearts

we would see you,

we would remember the blessing you are

to all faithful souls…

O let us come to you

and find the grace we need this day.

Direct download: Feb._11_Our_Lady_of_Lourdes.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Gn.1:1-19;   Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12,24,31,35;   Mk.6:53-56)

 

“How manifold are your works, O Lord!

In wisdom you have wrought them all.”

 

It is the Lord who “fixed the earth upon its foundation not to be moved forever,” and “with the ocean, as with a garment [He] covered it” – “the earth is full of His creatures.”  By the Word of His mouth all comes into being, and is sustained, sustained in the goodness of God.

Here as we read the beginning of sacred Scripture, we might do well to quote St. Bonaventure from the day’s Office of Readings.  In speaking of knowledge of Christ as “the main source of a firm understanding of the truth of all sacred Scripture,” He states: “It is impossible, therefore, for anyone to achieve this understanding unless he first receives the gift of faith in Christ.  This faith is the foundation of the whole Bible, a lamp and a key to its understanding.”  But how many read God’s Word as though in a dark room.

The prevailing lack of faith and so blindness to the truth of Scripture is evident again today in the commentary of my missal, which says of the Creation prophecy in Genesis, “The story is divided artificially,” giving as example the fact that “the sun is created after light.”  How indeed we grope in darkness without the light of the Spirit; without childlike faith we shall never understand God’s Word, never enter His kingdom.  Is the light of God dependent upon the sun or the stars?  When our psalmist sings of the Lord “robed in light as with a cloak,” is it sunlight of which he speaks?  Does the light of the Lord not necessarily precede the limited light of the sun – which the Lord has but made “to govern the day” for a time – even as it shall be all by which we see when the sun and the moon and the stars pass away?  Where is your faith, where is your understanding… why is the Lord’s light not in you, my brother?

Brothers and sisters, as the people of Gennesaret upon seeing Jesus “immediately recognized Him” and “scurried about” to bring all their sick to Him, so we must be drawn by the light of God to the Truth that is Christ the Lord.  He is in every page of Scripture.  He is at work with the Father in Creation.  He is the all-powerful Word which brings all into being by its eminent wisdom made flesh before our eyes; and we shall never know the wonder of God’s works and the wonders He has wrought in our own soul unless we come to faith in Him.  In Jesus are all God’s works revealed.  He is the light of the universe.  (And though His radiance extends beyond our sight to infinite galaxies, it is here in this dome between clouds and sea we dwell, the earth from which we have been formed solidly beneath our feet.)

 

*******

O LORD, you created the world and all it holds

and redeemed us by your Son –

let your light be upon us this day.

YHWH, by a word from your mouth you have created the heavens and the earth and given us light to guide our way.  It is you in whom all glory and majesty dwell, yet you have made this world as a reflection of your beauty.  For this we should ever praise you.

But how we have disfigured your Creation, LORD!  How we have lost our way.  Still, you do not leave us alone in the darkness we have made – to us you send your only Son, Word made flesh, Light of the world.  And as we recognize in Him your glory in our midst, as we reach out to Him for healing, we are made well again, whole in your sight.

Let us dwell, O LORD, in the place you have made for us; in your goodness let us remain.  Through the ministry of your Son let us be fed by your hand, that we might be led one day to your Promised Land.

Direct download: BC-020711-M_5_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

Direct download: Feb._10_Scholastica.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Is.6:1-2a,3-8;   Ps.138:1-5,7-8;   1Cor.15:1-11;   Lk.5:1-11) 

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?” “the voice of the Lord” asks in the presence of the angels and Isaiah.  “Here I am… send me!” is the prophet’s response.  And so this “man of unclean lips” having been purged of his uncleanness by an ember from the altar of God is ready to speak for “the King, the Lord of hosts!”  Grace come through the seraphim prepares his soul to do the will of the Lord.

“By the grace of God I am what I am,” Paul, “the least of the apostles,” declares, having been saved from his persecution of the Church of God and made the great Apostle to the nations, he knows, only by the favor of the Lord Most High.  And now the Gospel he preaches with a mouth anointed by the blood of Christ, the word of God which he speaks, brings salvation to all who “hold fast” to it.

And Peter, too, the first of apostles, we find coming to faith and power in the Lord by His grace-filled call.  A catch of fish is what touches his soul and makes him fall to his knees, “a sinful man.”  And as He has deemed to stoop to the level of Isaiah and Paul, so the Lord reaches out his hand to Peter, lifting him to his feet and speaking to his ear his call of “catching men.”  And so the Rock of the Church is born.

King David sings in truth when he says: “All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth.”  And having heard these words speak clearly to their hearts, so are our prophet and apostles set to proclaim with David “the glory of the Lord” to all who likewise hear.  And certainly the grace given them “has not been ineffective,” for even now a multitude is drawn into “the presence of the angels,” where they “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.”

Alleluia!  Join His call.  Let your nets to the depths descend, to draw up souls redeemed by the Gospel of God, that many might sing “Holy, holy, holy” to our heavenly King.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Calling" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us to love our enemies

even as your Son has done for all of us sinners.

YHWH, you are gracious and merciful, but we are weak and sinful.  How shall we be like you?  How shall we bear the image of your Son?  How shall we move from being earthly to heavenly men?  Indeed, it is only by your mercy.

O LORD, we must reflect your great mercy if we are to find the mercy we so desperately need for our own souls.  And sharing in this mercy of yours is mercy itself, is your greatest gift to us, your poor creatures.  What more could we hope for than to be like you?  For what more could we ask than to be of your love?

You it is who pardon all our iniquities, who spare sinful man.  Though our deeds against you deserve death, though for our crimes we merit destruction – though we should be nailed to the ground with one thrust of your spear, we are freed from such a fate by your Son’s sacrifice on the Cross… and we are called to join Him there.  Forgive all who sin against us, LORD, that we might be saved.

Direct download: BC-021013-Su_5_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Heb.13:15-17,20-21;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mk.6:30-34)

 

“The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.”

 

All things are cared for by the Lord; our work and our rest are in His hands.  Nothing need we fear.  No good desire goes unfulfilled – His sheep He loves.

Brothers and sisters, “through Christ may [the God of peace] carry out in you all that is pleasing to Him.”  Let Him guide you “in right paths” for the accomplishment of His will.  In “good deeds and generosity,” in obedience to superiors, in every intention of the heart, “continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which acknowledge His name,” for this thanksgiving He desires before all deeds and in all deeds; such praise will ensure His blessing, and lead to greater praise, and so greater blessing!  Have every confidence that the Lord “will furnish you with all that is good, that you may do His will,” and rejoice always in all you accomplish by His grace.

See in our gospel that when “the apostles returned to Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and what they had taught,” “He said to them, ‘Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.’”  They have done His work faithfully, and now He would give them rest; now He would refresh and renew their souls.  “Beside restful waters He leads me”: in a “boat by themselves” He takes them.  “In verdant pastures He gives me repose”: “to a deserted place” the boat goes.  And though upon arrival at their destination the people wait “like sheep without a shepherd” and so their work must resume, this does not distract from the promised rest which awaits the finishing of our work in this world, and indeed but emphasizes that our rest shall be complete only in heaven.

For now the Lord watches over.  Now He cares for us like needful sheep.  Now He takes upon Himself all our fears and burdens, and calls us to do the same for all.  What should we want?  What do we need when we do the Lord’s will?  In this laying down of our lives all is provided; in our work we take our rest, we eat our bread.  For He is with us with His “goodness and kindness”; He remains at our side even in darkness…  We become one with our Shepherd, and no further grace we desire.

 

*******

O LORD, in you alone we take our rest,

through the blood of your only Son.

YHWH, through Jesus may we carry out your will; washed in His blood may we be raised from the dead.  In Him let us take our refuge, and nothing shall be wanting to us.

In your Son all our needs are met, and this to overflowing.  For He has pity on all our weakness – O LORD, let us be obedient to our Shepherd!

LORD our God, let us praise you in all things, your NAME ever on our lips.  In all our work may we be blessed and brought into your heavenly presence.

You would give us rest, dear God; you call us to an out-of-the-way place to be with you.  May we find repose in your eternal kingdom after these days of toil are passed.

But even here you are with us, LORD, even in this dark place.  Your Son is the Shepherd who walks amongst His sheep, leading us ever to your side.

Direct download: BC-020511-Sa_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

Direct download: Feb._8_Josephine_Bakhita.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

O soldier for the Lord

and servant of the poor

who trusted in God alone

and gave your life

for those in need –

may we, too, become friends of the one Lord,

purified of all dross

by the trials we endure

and by doing His will

in this world.

His children let us become

as we care for the children

most in need,

those who seem abandoned

by Him.

His hands and His heart

let us be,

that in such love

we shall be free

of all fear and separation

from the Father

and so dwell with those we serve

in the peace of Heaven.

Direct download: Feb._8_Jerome_Emiliani.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Heb.13:1-8;   Ps.27:1,3,5,8-9;   Mk.6:14-29)

 

“I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you.”

 

A series of parallels we have today between our first reading and our gospel.  Paul instructs us in his letter to the Hebrews not to “neglect to show hospitality” to our “fellow Christians,” since we may be “entertain[ing] angels” thereby; but it is not angels Herod entertains at his birthday banquet, and a false sense of hospitality leads him to grave sin, as when Herodias’ daughter requests the Baptist’s head on a platter, “because of his oath and the presence of his guests,” he “dispatch[es] an executioner.” 

Paul also tells us to “be mindful of prisoners as if [we] were sharing their imprisonment”; and it seems almost against himself Herod indeed sympathizes with John.  We are told, “When he heard him speak he was very much disturbed; yet he felt the attraction of his words.”  He knows John is the angel he should better entertain, but denies the voice speaking to his heart.  And so Paul’s warning, “You may yet suffer as they do,” proves true with Herod, who is clearly imprisoned by his own fear that John has been raised from the dead to haunt his soul.

Of course, the central cause of all Herod’s problems is his breaking the command Paul expresses distinctly: “Let marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,” for it is “on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married,” that John chastises Herod, that the king has the prophet imprisoned, and that he is cornered into murdering him.  And so now he knows very deeply the extent to which “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”  Indeed, his adulterous relationship and his niece/daughter’s dance of lust stand as examples comparable to the profligate lands of Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality, for their opposition to the Father’s love.

It is the Father’s love and our trust therein which rises above the immorality and violence so present in our gospel.  At the heart of Paul’s letter is his paraphrase of today’s psalm: “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”  Indeed the faith in God David sings of so confidently – “Though an army encamp against me… though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust” – is what the Baptist holds in his own spirit, even as he extends his neck for the executioner’s blade.  He knows well that the Lord “will hide [him] in His abode in the day of trouble,” and so no trouble does his death cause him: the Lord will certainly “set [him] high upon a rock,” keeping him untouched by the lust and destruction which surround him in Herod’s dank prison.  It is Herod upon whom darkness shall fall.

“Your presence, O Lord, I seek.  Hide not your face from me.”  Through all things let me remain in your light.  And as John’s life ended, this greatest of “leaders who spoke the word of God” to us, so let my own, in faith in you, O Lord, who are with us forever.

 

*******

O LORD, though thrown in prison or put to death,

still you protect us;

in purity in your presence let us dwell.

YHWH, O what fate awaits those who feed their lust, who wallow in the wickedness of this world!  Theirs is a punishment far worse than death, for never will their fear come to an end.

But those who love you and their brothers, LORD, those who have pity on souls most in need, these are shielded by you in the day of trouble and shall rise to be with you in the end.

Your children are persecuted on this earth, O LORD our God.  They walk in the footsteps of your Son.  But despite the war that is waged upon them, despite the threat of death itself, those who trust in you are not shaken.  But those who sit upon the thrones of sin, those who give free reign to their passion and greed – these do but fat themselves for the day of slaughter, when the dance of lust shall be long past.

Let us serve you in our brothers, LORD.  Let us share in the pains of those oppressed and keep ever to your way, and you will keep us from all harm to sit with John and Jesus on the last day.

Direct download: BC-020411-F_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Heb.12:18-19,21-24;   Ps.48:2-4,9-11;   Mk.6:7-13)

 

“You have drawn near to MountZion

and the city of the living God,

the heavenly Jerusalem…”

 

“…to the assembly of the first-born enrolled in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.”  Alleluia!  “Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God.”  And great is our call to dwell in His blessed City with all His holy ones, and with our Lord.  Could there be a greater cause for joy?  For “His holy mountain, fairest of heights, is the joy of all the earth,” and the joy of heaven.

To the New Jerusalem we are drawn, brothers and sisters, to the fairest heights.  Holiness in the Lord is our call – to dwell with our Lord forever.  But what is the road that leads to such a blessed mountain?  How do we who tread the dust of this earth find our way to heaven?  Evident the Lord makes the path today in the summoning of His apostles.  In their call we find our own.

“Do not bring a second tunic,” Jesus says to the Twelve as He sends them forth to preach and to heal.  For they are to make no provision, to put no stock in the things of the earth… “to take nothing on the journey.”  Their trust must be entirely in Him and the word with which He anoints them: the power He gives, the grace He provides, is sufficient not only to cast out demons, but to find all we need for our day-to-day lives.  The Lord teaches us as He teaches them that our faith must be complete, our spirits wholly set on His will, if we are to make our way across the dust of this earth to His kingdom.  Nothing short of the sacrifice He Himself offers first will bring us there.  His sprinkled blood must be upon us, and work through us.

“O God, we ponder your kindness in your temple”; we marvel at your grace.  For no longer by “fearful… spectacle” of “blazing fire” and “gloomy darkness” do you make yourself known to us.  No longer are you “untouchable,” Lord.  But present in our midst, sandals upon your feet, you, O unapproachable glory, draw near to us, and so enable us to draw near to you, to touch you, O wounded Savior.  And your sandals you place upon our feet and invite us to walk in the way you have shown.  May we do so, Lord, as humbly as thou; and so to our eyes and our hearts make your kingdom known.

All the saints in heaven, pray for us.  All His holy angels, watch over our way.  May our feet stand forever upon the Lord’s holy mountain.  In His heavenly City let us make our home.  (In His Church, in His Mass, He is with us.)

*******

O LORD, may we take with us only

the Cross of your Son

as we journey to your holy mountain.

YHWH, how can we express the joy of the gracious gift of your Son in our midst?  In Him your Temple comes to us; in Him we dwell in your City, O living God.  He is the mountain to whom all holy souls come.  His is the blood that washes us clean and prepares our hearts to receive your glory.  May we follow in His steps this day that we might live ever in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Nothing need we but your Son and His Cross, O LORD.  There is nothing in which we should put our trust but His Word.  For walking in His sandals all is provided for us – what does any son need but you.

O Father in Heaven, in your great love you think of us and draw us into your presence with all the holy ones.  Let us be made ready to stand on your mountain by our trust in you today.  Let your Son work in us; in Him let us make our home.

Direct download: BC-020311-Th_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O proclaimers of the faith

even unto death,

death on a cross,

you who have followed

in the way of our Lord

so completely,

loving your enemies

even as they killed you,

encouraging your brothers

even with your last breath –

may the blood you shed not be forgotten

by those of the nation in which you preached

and by all souls who seek God;

may it nourish the land

and bring it to bear much fruit

unto Heaven.

Pray that we who are so fearful here

may find the faith and courage

you displayed

and so be blessed with the same grace

that imparts the peace of the kingdom.

Direct download: Feb._6_Paul_Miki_and_Companions.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Heb.12:4-7,11-15;   Ps.103:1-2,13-14,17-18;   Mk.6:1-6)

 

“Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines;

He scourges every son He receives.”

 

Like His only Son we must be.  For without discipline where would we be?  Apart from the Lord’s chastising hand, into what state would we fall?  Without the cross, how could we find the kingdom?

If the Lord did not scourge us, we would be blind as His countrymen in our gospel today, who question even what their ears behold and their eyes see – dead to His presence we would remain.  Only the dust of His flesh would we look upon, thinking He is no more than our sinful selves; far short of His divinity would we fall.  And so a word of chastisement He brings to our hearts, as He does those of “His native place,” of “His own house,” condemning our failure to honor God in His prophets and in His Son, calling us beyond our eyes of flesh to the breath of the Spirit.

Oh how our “lack of faith distress[es] Him”!  Oh how He would stir within us “that holiness without which no one can see the Lord”!  For “the kindness of the Lord is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear Him,” and His kindness He would have all know.  But failing of a reverent awe for the Most High Lord, what do we do but grovel in the dust?  Our hearts cannot know Him if they are not humble; our souls cannot bless Him if they are not holy… and so we lose “all His benefits” by a stubborn pride.  This is not the will of God.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord “knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.”  But from the dust He calls us to join Him on high, to rise above our earthen state.  In His compassion the Father would have us be even as He is; and so He sends His only Son to suffer for our sins, to show us the path to holiness we must walk.  “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees”; fear not the cross of Jesus.  For by it you will be made strong, you will be made whole; through it “the grace of God” will pour, and make you as His own.

Peace soon follows every cord of scourging; the nails in our hands open our souls to the Spirit’s movement, to the Lord’s love, as by this bleeding our sins are purged.  And in His light we shall soon stand, “all [our] being bless[ing] His holy name.”  Then we shall no longer question His wisdom but in His mercy make our home.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be your sons

not just in flesh but in truth;

your compassion be upon us

in the discipline of your Word.

YHWH, thank you for your discipline, for your blessed chastising hand.  It is out of love you correct us; in your compassion you desire us to be with you.  Let us praise you for your kindness.

Forgive us, LORD, all our blindness, all our failure to see your hand at work.  Our disobedience hurts us most of all, for by it we separate ourselves from your love.  In our lives let your will be done!

If you had not compassion on our erring hearts, if you scourged not our sinful souls, where would we be, LORD, where would we be?  From your healing and your teaching let us never be apart.

Come to your native place this day, O LORD.  Those baptized in your NAME please bless.  Let us welcome you with open arms into our houses, treasuring every chastising word, and we shall be at peace in your presence.

Direct download: BC-020211-W_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O good child of God

who gave your life so willingly

for the sake of Christ

and so wore His holy blood

upon your robes,

you who were blessed

to remain ever faithful to the Lord

even as those around you

turned from His presence –

pray for us this day

that our lives too

may be holy and blessed

as your own,

that we too might give witness to the Lord

with the same pure love

you did so readily show.

Pray we shall be wed to the Spouse

you so intimately knew

and thus become one with Him

and all His saints in Heaven.

May our lives also be good,

may they also be godly,

and may we, too, stand as others fall.

Direct download: Feb._5_Agatha.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Heb.12:1-4;   Ps.22:26-28,30-32;   Mk.5:21-43)

 

“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,

who inspires and perfects our faith.”

 

Like the woman in our gospel who saw Him in the crowd and with great confidence made her way toward Him but to reach out and “touch His clothing,” knowing in her heart that by this she “shall get well”; like the official of the synagogue who draws near and falls at His feet begging healing for his daughter, who even after being told, “Your daughter is dead,” does “not grow despondent or abandon the struggle” but takes refuge in the Lord’s encouragement to trust; like all the “cloud of witnesses” that have sought Him, that have believed in Him, that have never taken their eyes off Him or His love – let us be saints who “lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead,” and we shall receive our reward even as those who have gone before us have done.  By endurance in faith we shall find Jesus.

Sin it is, of course, that is the greatest obstacle to sanctity in the Lord, to achieving our goal of eternal life in heaven; death and disease are merely the fruits of this poisonous tree.  And so the “fight against sin” is truly our greatest struggle, for once sin is set aside, peace comes to our souls and we are no longer anxious or fearful, despite any workings of the devil – despite the destruction in his hands.  The woman’s “flow of blood” (for as many years as Jairus’ daughter, “a child of twelve,” has been alive) is but symptomatic for us of the greater affliction of transgression against God.  And even the young girl’s death is nothing really, for it is so that “she is [only] asleep,” as the Lord says, and not dead at all… and so death and disease mean nothing unless they are accompanied by sin.  It is this plague which must be overcome.

And for this healing we come to Him.  For this grace we must press upon Him, like the crowds who surround Him this day.  And like the raised child’s parents our “astonishment [will be] complete,” for we shall be clean: we shall be alive in the Lord.  “To Him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth”; by Him alone all shall be raised.  So let us keep our eyes and our hearts fixed upon Him, knowing “they who seek the Lord shall praise Him” – in Him our faith is complete.  “To Him alone [our] soul shall live”; therefore, let us bleed with Him this day.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be freed of all illness;

let us be raised from our graves to walk with you.

YHWH, our faith unites us to you and so we find healing for every disease and every sin, for no evil lives in you.  And so, help us to endure all, keeping our eyes ever fixed on your Son and the hope He brings to our souls, and we shall be well in your presence.

O LORD, you raise us from the sleep of death and sin.  Your Son who walks in our midst leads us to your glory.  And so, let us bow down before Him, humbling ourselves in faith, and our every prayer shall be answered; and we shall be united to you and your glorious majesty.

Why should we be afraid?  Why should we fear placing our trust in you?  Let no obstacle stand in the way of our coming to you that we might join the band of your holy ones in your eternal kingdom.  Though we must shed our blood in the struggle, let us know our salvation is assured.

Direct download: BC-020111-Tu_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Heb.11:32-40;   Ps.31:20-25;   Mk.5:1-20)

 

“They broke the jaws of lions, put out raging fires,

escaped the devouring sword…”

 

In each of these descriptions of the powerful deeds of the men of old what is conquered is an instrument of death, and so what is indicated is the power of God – from whom these men derive their strength – to destroy death itself.  This is made more obvious in the fact that “women received back their dead through resurrection” by their faith in God, and is apparent even in those who “were tortured and did not receive deliverance”; for they suffered all “in order to obtain a better resurrection,” one not simply of the earth and the body, but one which is absolute, one which pertains to spirit and body in heaven… and we can be assured they received such reward.

Brothers and sisters, death is the devil’s instrument, but life is of God; and the Lord of life holds power over all death and banishes it by His word.  That death is the devil’s tool, so ready at his hand, is made evident after Jesus “gave the word, and with it the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine”: immediately “the herd of about two thousand went rushing down the bluff into the lake, where they began to drown.”  As the demons had driven the man of Gerasene into the tombs upon taking possession of him, so they drive these swine to their demise.  Death is the devil’s will; he would see the destruction of all life.

And what of those men of old who seem so much like our possessed man today; what about those who “dwelt in caves and in holes of the earth” and “went about garbed in the skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented”?  How do these differ from the poor soul of Gerasene?  Does the devil not have power over them, too?  The answer is no – the two are clearly different.  The power the devil had over the ancient prophets, which is witnessed most fully in Christ Himself as well as all His followers, is a power only over the body, over the physical circumstances of life.  As with Christ and His followers, the spirit, the soul of these ancients, remained untouched by the devil’s claw.  The same is not so for the poor soul among the tombs: of him the devil had taken possession body and soul.  And, you might say, Is the strength exhibited by the demoniac not like that of Samson when he broke the chains of the Philistines?  What of this similarity?  My friends, the chains upon the demoniac were meant to help preserve his life, and when he “pulled the chains apart and smashed the fetters” by the strength of the devil, it was only that he could continue “gash[ing] himself with stones”; whereas Samson broke his fetters by the power of God in order to preserve his life from the clutches of the Philistines.  (One must always use right judgment and discern well, especially the things of the spirit, avoiding preoccupation with the superficiality of circumstances and jumping to quick decisions.)

“Love the Lord, all you His faithful ones!”  Keep “constant” in faith and “from the plottings of men” and “the strife of tongues” He will “shelter” you.  Whether overcoming or being overcome by death in this life, the life of heaven awaits you and is with you.

 

*******

O LORD, of the least of us you make use,  

joining all to your Body to proclaim your glory. 

YHWH, your power is greater even than that of death, and your power you share with all your holy ones, that in your NAME they might overcome death and all its workings.  What great deeds are we not capable of if we but put our trust in you?  We shall indeed rise from the dead with Jesus your only Son. 

Death surrounds us in this world; it is as if we dwell in a tomb.  For where can we turn where sin does not exist, and so, how can we be free of its clutches?  It is like the lion’s jaw or a raging fire or the devouring sword.  But you give power to conquer sin to those who take refuge in Christ’s blood.  Even in this dark world, they are screened in your abode.  Though we are made to dwell in caves or in holes of the earth, you are yet with us, LORD, we who are to be made perfect in you.  O let us sit at your feet in our right mind all the days of our lives!  Let us declare your goodness to all.

Direct download: BC-013111-M_4_OT_I.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O bringer of light

to many nations,

you who struggled on

for the souls placed in your care

that all might know the Christ

for whom you toiled,

endlessly seeking

to convert obstinate hearts –

may your zeal

inspire missionaries this day

to go forth selflessly

proclaiming the Gospel to all,

bearing witness to the Lord

in the cross they bear

in season and out of season;

whether producing much fruit

or being rejected,

may their hearts be set on the Word

and the love of God

for His children.

Pray especially those lands you led to Christ

will turn again

to the one true light.

Direct download: Feb._3_Ansgar.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

O shepherd whom we invoke

for the healing of throats,

you who suffered torments

for the sake of the Name

and embraced death

as leader of His flock –

open our throats

to speak of Jesus,

to declare His goodness and glory,

the salvation that comes

only through Him.

Let us not fear

our persecutors

nor shrink from the threats

of the mighty

but stand fast

in the Lord’s healing grace,

confident that His every blessing

will keep us well

and on the path

that leads only to Heaven.

Pray all sickness flee from us

this day and forever.

Direct download: Feb._3_Blaise.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

(Jer.1:4-5,17-19;   Ps.71:1-6,15,17;   1Cor.12:31-13:13;   Lk.4:21-30) 

“I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

When God calls Jeremiah to prophesy “against Judah’s kings and princes, against its priests and people,” He tells him to “gird [his] loins” and commands: “Be not crushed on their account.”  For though his people “will fight against” him, they shall “not prevail over” him.  The Lord makes Jeremiah “a fruitful city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass” able to stand against attacks of any in “the whole land”; He preserves His prophet’s life despite any danger or threat.

In our gospel Jesus is likewise protected by God from any harm His people would inflict upon Him.  Here in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus is called to prophesy against the faithlessness of the people; and though before He spoke His harsh word of truth they had “all spoke[n] highly of Him,” now “filled with fury” they drive Him “out of the town, and lead Him to the brow of the hill… to hurl Him down headlong.”  But the deliverance promised Jeremiah and sung of so beautifully by our psalmist is with the Lord’s only Son as it had been with His prophet, and “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”  Though they would not accept the deliverance He brings, He is delivered from them.

“O my God, [you] rescue me from the hand of the wicked”; you indeed are “my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.”  O Lord, “let me never be put to shame,” but “in your justice rescue me, and deliver me.”  For you are “my rock and my fortress,” “my hope” who never fails to save.  May I walk through all the difficulties of this world, all the darkness of sin and temptation and suffering, with you at my side, therefore with nothing to fear.  Make me strong as your prophet, as your Son, for my life is in your Hand.

Brothers and sisters, soon all persecution will pass away with all the imperfect trappings of this desolate earth, and only God’s love will remain.  Let us be as He who “endures all things”; let us be of love.  And nothing of this world shall touch us as we pass through its midst, shielded by the Word of God, guarded by His eminent love.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Is This Your World?" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, you rescue us from the hand of the wicked;

from our mother’s womb you are our stronghold.

YHWH, it is you who deliver us from all harm, from the fury of this world, from the anger of those unable to bear your truth.  In chastising us you would show us the greatest love; but who is of love as are you, and so who is able to rejoice in your truth?

Few there are, O LORD, who desire to know their sins that they might turn from them and be saved.  Few there are who trust in you from birth even unto death – who can place his whole life in your hands?  Yet if we do not take refuge in you alone, we shall surely die.  If we open not our hearts to your love, to your Word of truth that would redeem our souls, we will perish in our sin.

The hardened heart of man would hurl your Son to the ground from the hill He builds His town upon.  Break our pride, LORD, that we might be saved.  Open our hearts to your Chosen One, to the love He brings to us, that we might see you face to face.

Direct download: BC-020313-Su_4_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Mal.3:1-4;   Ps.24:7-10;   Heb.2:14-18;   Lk.2:22-40) 

“Suddenly there will come to the temple

the Lord whom you seek.”

“And He will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.”  “To expiate the sins of the people” He has come – to bring us light.  But to do this “He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every way”; He had to “share in blood and flesh” with us, and so share in our death, to overcome death and make us holy in the sight of God, that our lives might be like His: a true sacrifice to the Lord.

Hear in our gospel how many times is stated that when “Mary and Joseph [take] Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” this is done “just as it is written in the law of the Lord.”  Because it says, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” His parents do so “in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”  They “brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to Him”; they “fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord” before returning to Galilee to raise Him.  Of what significance is this in this day and age when so many place themselves above the need to be obedient to the dictates of the Church and the Holy Spirit which speaks through her.  Though the Lord Himself did all according to the way it is written, so many find no necessity for themselves to go to church on Sunday, to confess their sins, to give their tithe… and on.  In their minds they need no “religion” to follow.  Let them learn from the Lord and His obedience, and His humility, in the place where God is found.

And see what happens when this humble Child allows Himself to be brought into the temple of the Lord: light comes to His people.  Simeon the prophet proclaims in joy, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples,” and declares his readiness for death.  Anna the prophetess gives thanks to God and speaks “about the child to all who [are] awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.”  It is not to a street corner He comes to bring salvation; it is to the temple.  There we await Him.  There we find Him, in His Father’s house.

Finally, we must relate the pain His coming brings.  Though leading to glory, for us as well as for Him, the performance of the Father’s will in all things is not easy.  As “a sword will pierce” the Mother’s heart, so in our purgation, in our persecution as we turn from the darkness of this world to be purified for the next, there shall be suffering.  But this suffering does lead to life.  But our waiting shall be answered.  The light is powerful that comes when we “lift up” the gates of our hearts “that the king of glory may come in,” but in Him we find all our hearts need.  His is a perfect sacrifice.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, your Son has come into our midst

and united Himself to us;

may we be united to Him and become as your Temple. 

YHWH, in the purification of your Son, we are purified.  By His sacrifice, our sacrifice is made acceptable to you.  Thank you for presenting Him to us this day, that indeed we might be saved, that indeed as He has become flesh and blood for us, we may become as His flesh and blood and be a holy offering to you.

O LORD, we must be purified if we are to come into your Temple, if we are to become as your Temple, according to your desire.  And so let us be obedient to your Word, let us welcome Jesus into our hearts, that He might cleanse our troubled souls from any fear of death, that by His presence we might be refined for the kingdom of Heaven.

He is our hope.  He is our joy.  He is our very life, O LORD; let us remain faithful to His Cross.  As the sword pierces our own hearts, let us be purged of sin that with Simeon and Anna we might rejoice in the light of your presence.

Direct download: Feb_2_-_Presentation_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT