Wed, 11 December 2019
(Is.41:13-20; Ps.145:1,8-13; Mt.11:11-15)
“I will make you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged.”
A “worm” and a “maggot” are we. We are “the afflicted and the needy [who] seek water in vain, [our] tongues… parched with thirst.” But holding our right hand, the Lord speaks to us: “Fear not, I will help you.” “I will open up rivers on the bare heights… I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water.” And has not John the Baptizer come, into the desert, into the wilderness, and there poured the water of God’s compassion upon us for the forgiveness of sins?
Lush trees now grow in the desert: we who were once empty are now filled with God’s grace. And yes, “the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” For all these wonders accomplished in our midst are but to “make known to men [His] might and the glorious splendor of [His] kingdom.” Indeed, we now “thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff,” but all this is done in His power.
And how then do we understand Jesus’ words: “From John the Baptizer’s time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force”? We know that John spoke boldly in the name of God; unafraid of his oppressors, he called all to repentance. We should all learn from the power of God he displayed in crying out in the wilderness. We know also that at the time Jesus spoke the above words, John was imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon, suffering genuinely the violence of this generation. We know Jesus Himself will be crucified. We know all the apostles (save John) will be martyred for the faith – all His children suffer under the weight of the cross imposed by the violent of this world.
But we know also that this very cross is the means God has chosen to most poignantly reveal His powerful hand at work. For the nails which fix our hands to the wood have no power over us, and so by the humble acceptance of the violence of this age we do most dramatically destroy, crush into dust, the mountains of this world. And we upon whom the greatest violence is inflicted indeed effect the greater violence upon our oppressors, for by this sacrifice wickedness is destroyed and the righteous enter the kingdom of heaven. Let us act with such strength from God, brothers and sisters, for the sake of the kingdom.
O LORD, let there be springs of water
in the desert of this world,
that we poor souls might not die
but enter into your kingdom.
YHWH, Elijah has come as a threshing sledge preparing the way for your Son – and now all souls may enter your kingdom!
To the desert of our lives you have brought your water, O LORD. We who were parched and lifeless have heard the Baptist’s call to repentance and known the grace that comes to us thereby. Your Son, your very Son has come among us and opened the gates of Heaven; in His sacrifice you show your great compassion, and now this tree of life flourishes in our midst.
To the Cross we must all be nailed, dear LORD; all the evil in us must die. But what blessing such violence brings! For joining ourselves to your Son’s sacrifice, the glorious splendor of your reign is revealed to our eyes.
Though we must die, LORD, you live in us and remain in us until the end of time. And so for such grace we bless you; so this day we heed your Son’s voice. Let us be washed clean in the water from His side and come quickly to eternal life.
Wed, 11 December 2019
O Patroness of the Americas
and Protectress of the Unborn,
look upon our troubled state,
where lust and greed abound,
where thousands are killed in the womb
where the poor and the rich
are separated by steel walls
and thirsting souls
die in the desert –
help us, dear Mother,
to discover life,
to find your guidance
in this land of opportunity
and broken dreams,
in these hearts that have grown so cold
that more are sacrificed
on unholy altars
than when you first came
to turn our hearts to the Lord!
Pray for us, Our Lady,
or we shall surely die
in a soulless pride.
Wed, 11 December 2019
(Zec. 2:14-17; Lk.1:46-55; Lk.1:29-47)
“Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling.”
And His own stirring forth causes John the Baptist to stir forth, to “leap for joy” – thus is opened the mouth of the one who will proclaim His way.
On this the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we celebrate the Lord’s stirring forth in astounding fashion in the Americas. As the Lord looked upon His humble servant Mary to bring forth the only Son of God, so He smiles upon the humble Juan Diego, to bring the conversion of a continent. His Mother comes humble and with child to bring new birth to a land in darkness… And how that land sits in darkness now, awaiting renewal by the graces from His hand.
“He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness” once, and again; let us pray a humble spirit He shall once more find in this place and on this earth, that indeed “the hungry shall be filled with good things,” that He who has “lifted up the lowly” will remember them now that they are trodden down, now that the most humble are destroyed in the womb.
“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.” And many have. But how sincere is their commitment to Him? Are they truly “His people,” and so will “He dwell among” them? Have we cause to “sing and rejoice,” to be as she who “proclaims the greatness of the Lord” – or to cry tears of sorrow for the land to which we have come? For the womb is barren; the spirits are proud – and in these the Lord takes no joy.
Silence before Him we must find once again, that He might turn to us and bring new birth to this land.
“Stir forth, O Lord, from your holy dwelling,”
and renew our languishing souls.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger and Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may our hearts stir to life
at the sound of Mary’s voice,
at the approach of your Son.
YHWH, you sent the Mother of your Son to a land in darkness, to a barren place, that the people might be converted to the faith, that the blood upon their hands might be washed away. May she come again to this continent and this world that unholy sacrifice might again be stopped by her humble presence. O LORD, bring us new life!
LORD, we would rejoice in you and in your presence in our midst. We would see all the nations gathered into your arms. But how can you come to a place that despises life, that kills its children in the womb? Have pity on us, dear LORD, and send Mother Mary to prepare the second coming of your Son.
The Baptist awoke and leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary brought his Savior to him. O let us awake this day, dear God, awake from our slumber in such darkness and come into the light of your day. Let us be humble and lowly as she who bore your Son, and we shall be lifted with her to your side. Save us, O LORD our God.
Tue, 10 December 2019
O bishop of Rome
who guided the bark of Peter
through difficult waters,
who kept her on the course
set for her by the Lord
even as she grew in this world
from a Church of the blood of martyrs
to one entering the light of day,
of acceptance by the city of man…
you who sought so diligently
to preserve the memory of the martyrs
lest it should pass away,
and the Cross of Christ
with it –
pray that today, too,
the Church will remember its root,
the root of Jesse and His sacrifice,
and that as she grows
our Mother on earth
will be well understood
by those called into her walls.
Pray the martyrs pray for us,
that in their blood we always find our growth.
Tue, 10 December 2019
(Is.40:25-31; Ps.103:1-4,8,10; Mt.11:28-30)
“My yoke is easy and my burden light.”
How we do become “weary and find life burdensome.” How we can “faint and grow weary,” “stagger and fall” from the burden of sin and our inherent weakness. But oh how “He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak He makes vigor abound.” For indeed He is the creator of the universe – “by His great might and the strength of His power” all things come to be – and His Son is the redeemer of our souls. “The Lord is the eternal God” and “they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagles’ wings.” Trust in Him who “pardons all your iniquities” and “heals all your ills.”
What a promise Jesus holds forth for those who come to His “gentle and humble” heart: “Your souls will find rest.” We know that the great St. Augustine has told us that only in God do our souls find rest. How we wander aimlessly in trackless wastes seeking comfort for our souls, rest for our weary bodies, taking refuge in the various attractions of the world and the vain promise they hold. How late in life all of us come to the fulfilling promise of Jesus, for any time spent apart from Him is but wasted.
And thank the Lord that He is “merciful and gracious.” Thank Him that “not according to our sins does He deal with us.” For what hope would we have then? But this great God who has no equal, who holds the world in His hand, “redeems your life from destruction, He crowns you with kindness and compassion” despite your sins, if you but come to Him as He calls.
How patiently Jesus waits for each of us, this only Son of God, this image of the Father and embodiment of His love. How gracious He is toward us poor creatures. Will you not take His “yoke upon your shoulders and learn” from Him? Will you not find refreshment from all your sins and forgiveness of all your crimes? Will you continue to turn your face away from Him who watches over all and weigh yourself down with anxiety? Or will you come to Him, your only hope? Take the light burden of His gracious Word upon your souls and do His will in this world.
O LORD, how shall your compassion come
to dwell in our hearts,
and your strength renew our own? –
let us be blessed in Jesus your Son.
YHWH, you make our burden light by the Cross of your only Son. He takes our sins upon Himself and carries them away, and we need but turn to Him and walk with Him to find rest for our souls.
How great is your announcement to us, O LORD; how great your blessing! For you who are Creator of Heaven and earth promise your own strength to those who believe in you, who turn to your grace and mercy. Our sins you remember not, our iniquities you pardon; and finding no condemnation at your hands, we are free to soar as with eagles’ wings – for what punishment can there be if it comes not from you?
O LORD, for all your benefits let all men bless you and your holy NAME. Let us come this day to your only Son and share the blessings upon Him. He will carry our burden in this world and so our yoke will be light. Deep in our souls let us know your compassion, and we shall soar on your heights.
Mon, 9 December 2019
(Is.40:1-11; Ps.96:1-3,10-13,Is.40:10; Mt.18:12-14)
“Like a shepherd He feeds His flock;
in His arms He gathers His lambs.”
His is the voice which “speak[s] tenderly to Jerusalem.” It is He who “give[s] comfort to [His] people.” For “it is no part of [the] heavenly Father’s plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief.”
Like a shepherd He leads us. With great concern He watches over His flock, careful that none is led astray. And diligent is He in finding the one who “wanders away.” This is indeed “good news.” These are indeed “glad tidings,” which make even “the trees of the forest exult.” For He cares about each one of the many of His creatures, and shall bring all back to Him by the sound of His gentle voice.
And of His sweet voice we must cry out. “Sing to the Lord; bless His name; announce His salvation day after day.” For all the earth must know that “He shall rule the world with justice and His peoples with constancy.” And so “a voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” May all hearts be ready to meet Him. When “every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low… then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together.” O that that glorious day might come!
“Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever.” And so He stands behind us, whispering into our ears of the way we should walk. And so He calls to our hearts, carrying us “in His bosom” with care. And so His eternal presence ever comes to our tired bodies, our fading souls, and gives them life, and brings them back from their straying paths upon this dying earth. And so it is that all “exult before the Lord, for He comes; He comes to rule the earth.”
It is only in His eternity that we shall find a home, brothers and sisters. And into these arms He now gathers us. And with His food He now feeds us. Let us partake of His presence in Word and in Sacrament as we await His coming.
O LORD, we praise you
for the merciful justice and peace
you have brought into our midst
through your Son Jesus.
YHWH, truth has sprung out of the earth, for justice has looked down from Heaven and our redemption has come – Jesus has been born among us. He is the holy way, the way that leads to the splendor and glory of your kingdom. He is as the stream in the desert that cleanses our souls of all sins and so prepares us to dance and sing with Him in your eternal presence. We who were lame now leap like a stag for the blessing we have received from our Savior; yes, we have been forgiven, and are now crowned with everlasting joy.
O let your splendor come to us this day, dearest LORD and God. May we hear these blessed words from the mouth of your Son: “Your sins are forgiven.” O let us rise and walk with Him to our heavenly homeland! The parched land cries out to you; let your water pour down upon us that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might blossom forth with His gifts. Strengthened by such grace let us do your holy will in all things.
Sun, 8 December 2019
O humble child of the Lord
whom our Lady blessed
with her presence,
to whom she gave
roses in winter –
pray for us who are not humble as you,
whose obedience is cold
and grown so weak,
that she might come to us, too,
that she might speak a word to our hearts
and we might as children
and do as she directs,
she who directs us only to Jesus,
only to His love.
Pray this continent be once again
by the grace of God;
may Our Lady’s image
be upon our hearts
that we too might proclaim
the glory of the Lord
and His love for His children.
Sun, 8 December 2019
O pure Mother,
you are she who is full of grace;
it is you who have found the Lord’s favor.
Preserved from all sin from the womb,
overflowing with all His blessings,
you are the hope of our race,
the one created soul most like to God –
pray for us this day, dear Mother,
that we might be kept from the snares of the world,
from the enticements of the devil.
O help us be pure as you,
obedient to the will of the Father,
bringing His Son into this world
by the Holy Spirit’s power.
You who now reign in Heaven
with the Lord, your only Son,
intercede for us who toil on earth
that we too might enter God’s presence;
you who are blessed to be one with Him,
pray the Church you bear be so well founded.
Hail, Full of Grace!
Your name be blessed forever
by all generations.
Sun, 8 December 2019
(Gn.3:9-15,20; Ps.98:1-4; Eph.1:3-6,11-12; Lk.1:26-38)
“He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before Him.”
And she is the sign of such preservation from evil.
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” And so the Virgin Mother is greeted by the power of the Most High. So she is called – “full of grace” is her title. She whom all generations will call blessed is revealed in this simple greeting as having “found favor with God.” And so, “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God,” the Son of her who has been preserved by grace.
“In accord with the favor of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace,” this has been done – she has been immaculately conceived, kept from the stain of sin. Not that she herself might be worshiped is the Virgin kept pure, but indeed she does “exist for the praise of His glory.” “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she has proclaimed… and it is so. She is but the sign that “His right hand has won victory for Him”; she is the instrument through which “the Lord has made His salvation known.”
How wonderfully this is expressed in her own words of consent to His call: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Here in this blessed obedience she sets in motion the cleansing of our sin of disobedience she shall bring by the fruit of her womb, a disobedience painfully recounted for us in our first reading – a disobedience which has caused us to hide from the face of God. But no longer will we be trapped in this hell. No more will we flee from the presence of Him who is our Creator, for by her humble obedience, and our own, in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will have our nakedness covered over and become holy as He.
The Virgin is our Mother. She who has “no relations with a man” has brought about the salvation of all men “in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His will.” And so the curse is removed from us. And so we might “sing joyfully to the Lord,” for “in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice”; through this simple virgin He has brought us His grace. And now we may be pure as He.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, the serpent comes to Eve, and we fall;
the angel comes to Mary, and we rise –
in selfish disobedience we do the devil’s work;
in selfless obedience we serve you…
O let us be your children!
YHWH, full of grace is the Mother of your Son; by your will you have made her pure that she might carry Him who is perfect into this world. We praise you for your goodness to her, for it means goodness to us – it means our salvation has come!
With every spiritual blessing in the heavens you have showered us by your grace and mercy, O LORD, by the love you offer us in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord. And so we might stand holy and without blemish before you; and so we might be even as Mary our Mother, even as Jesus her Son. O let us be incorporated into your glory, dear God!
Our sin has been grievous. We have turned away from you. Our disobedience has wrought your just punishment, LORD. But salvation you bring to us this day by the word of the angel. And so we praise you for your faithfulness in saving us; and so we offer our lives with Mary your handmaiden – in our lives let your Word be accomplished.
Sat, 7 December 2019
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.85:9-14; 2Pt.3:8-14; Mk.1:1-8)
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.”
And so, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And so comes “the voice of one crying out in the desert,” in the desert that is our fallen lives: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”
Turn from your sins, brothers and sisters. Repent. It is the Lord’s will that “all should come to repentance,” that all should be “found without spot or blemish” on the day of His coming, on the day all “the elements will be dissolved with fire.” With the fire of the Holy Spirit does the Lord Jesus come now to baptize, that what John has cleansed from our souls might be gone forever – that the new person we become by this baptism of water might be made complete, might become hardened and lasting in the furnace of His love.
God “proclaims peace to His people. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.” Hear what His prophet says, for he cries “out at the top of [his] voice” that indeed all hearts might listen: “Here is your GOD! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm.” Yes, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” and now the WORD is in our midst, walking amongst us as our shepherd and “leading the ewes with care.” The “justice [that] shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps,” has come, and now the level highway that leads to His kingdom we must tread – there is no denying the road that is set before us.
Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, and Christ has come. The Baptist has prepared His path, and He, the Son of God, has walked it. And now we await His return in glory. And “the Lord does not delay His promise”; His return is sure. Already we see the “glory dwelling in our land.” He waits for you to come now to Him. In patience He looks for you to turn. Turn to Him now in earnest; with all your soul cry out His Name. “Jesus Christ the Son of God” dawns on the horizon. Embrace His love; walk His sacred path.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may all souls come from this desert of sin
to your holy mountain.
YHWH, let us be gathered into your barn, into your reign of peace, where, the viper having been defanged, all your creatures live in harmony, glorifying you as God and Father. In your Son let us make our home.
Jesus comes into our midst endowed with your justice and judgment, O LORD. And the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire, but His wheat He will draw into His heart. With fire shall all men be baptized – may that fire be for us a purging light for entering your kingdom.
The Spirit that was upon John shall anoint all who hear his voice, who seek your way, O LORD and God. And so we must make straight our paths to you, following closely in the footsteps of your Son. O let there be fruit upon our trees! to prove our repentance genuine.
Your NAME shall be blessed forever, dear God; in peace shall all your children dwell. May we be covered with knowledge of you, and so live always in the light of your glory.
Fri, 6 December 2019
O good bishop
and wise doctor of the Church –
pray for us,
that the water that is Christ
might pour upon our souls,
especially His chosen apostles,
your fellow bishops,
and fill all with wisdom from on high,
leading us away from all lies
to the truth that is Jesus.
Pray our hearts shall be filled
with this Word,
that the Gospel might be preached
by lips anointed
with the Body and Blood of our Lord;
may the darkness of error
and God’s pure light
shine in our midst.
Pray for us, good doctor,
pray for us;
lead us indeed to the truth that is Christ.
Fri, 6 December 2019
(Is.30:19-21,23-26; Ps.147:1-6,Is.30:18; Mt.9:35-10:1,6-8)
“On the day the Lord binds up the wounds of His people,
He will heal the bruises left by His blows.”
“Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the leprous, expel demons.” With these words Jesus sends His disciples forth proclaiming, “The reign of God is at hand!”
The prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled. The Savior has come. The Teacher is at our side now speaking into our ears, “This is the way; walk in it.” And of all our sins He cleanses us; from all our sickness He heals us. Indeed, “as soon as you call He will answer you,” for He is ready to wipe all tears from your eyes.
And what must be our response to a Lord who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” We must be the same as He. We must go forth as He has, teaching, proclaiming “the good news of God’s reign,” and curing “every sickness and disease.” It is our call to make others whole in heart, mind, soul, and body; and so, to whatever need is present – and there are many or the Lord would not ask us to “beg the harvest master to send out laborers to gather His harvest” – we must apply the grace of God. He will do the work that is needed, but He needs us to work through.
To what glory all are called; what a wonderful message we have to bring forth! Isaiah, the great prophet, only touches upon it when he cries out that the Lord “will give rain for the seed that you sow in the ground” (see how He will bless your work!) and when he proclaims: “The light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater.” This vision is for all who turn to the Lord for healing.
We have been bruised, brothers and sisters. No doubt, our sins have brought wounds to our souls. But the Lord will bind up all these; in His surpassing pity He will raise us all from death as He “rebuilds Jerusalem.” Let us bring this message forth.
O LORD, heal us of all ill and teach us
to walk in the way that leads unto Heaven.
YHWH, we lie prostrate from exhaustion, do we not? We thirst for your presence; we hunger for the Bread you provide. Come to us. Send your laborers to teach us and to heal us of every disease, to bring us your grace. Have pity on your sheep, O LORD!
We are broken, but when we cry out to you, O LORD, you hear our voice and quickly answer our prayers. And what promise you make to our waiting hearts! Abundance of blessing shall be ours as you heal the wounds of our sin and bring us into your glorious presence.
Seven times greater than the light of the sun will be your light on that Day, O LORD. Streams of running water will fill our thirst for you and by your teaching we will be led in our every step. Come, LORD, fulfill your promise in our midst. Let all men know your reign is at hand.
Thu, 5 December 2019
O bishop of Myra,
shepherd of the Lord’s sheep
who has with a generous heart
cared so well
for His little ones…
all became as your children,
for you loved your flock
with the love of Christ Himself;
their needs were your own –
pray our hearts will be like yours,
that just so generously
we will give to those in need,
provide for those in our care.
I pray you will see us now
as your children here
and beg the bearer of all good gifts
to provide for all those most in need,
that in joy all souls
may welcome His coming,
ready for the joys of Heaven.
May our love be one
with the love of our Good Shepherd,
now and in eternity.
Thu, 5 December 2019
(Is.29:17-24; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Mt.9:27-31)
“The eyes of the blind shall see.”
O “that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple.” That out of “gloom and darkness” I might be taken, and come “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” That I could feel His hands touch my eyes, that I might have the faith to believe they shall be open to His glory…
Brothers and sisters, we are blind. All of us. All of us lack understanding. All of us falter in faith. For who among us is there that gazes continually upon the Lord’s presence? Who among us has entered His glory? Who among us possesses no arrogance and has “nothing to be ashamed of”? If yet we toil upon this earth, groaning as we await the redemption of our bodies, then yet do we continue in a measure blind. Yet do we seek His face. And if yet seeking “to see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living,” then yet have we to find it in its fullness; and so, yet do our eyes lack of the light that is the Lord, our salvation.
But certainly we are not without hope. Most certainly His hand is upon us even now. Most certainly His presence comes to us each and every day. Clearly His light shines in our midst in the Sacrament we receive and in the Word we hear, and so we can with confidence heed the exhortation of the psalm of David: “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” For He comes, and we know this. We are catching up to Him, and this is our joy. Yes, today do we know we shall see Him, for our eyes do glimpse Him even now.
In the meantime, brothers and sisters, as we wait, as the light that has dawned upon the world rises to our eyes, as He comes to fill our vision, let us strive to avoid speaking any word which “condemns a man.” Let us know that indeed we “err in spirit” and need the Lord’s light to guide us, and we shall become free of that which blinds us. And we shall be the lowly who are raised to His presence.
O LORD, let us gaze upon your loveliness always!
YHWH, take us out of gloom and darkness that we might gaze upon your face; save us this day from all evil that into your Temple we may come. You are our very light, O LORD – let our eyes be filled with vision of your presence.
O LORD, let us never cease pursuing you till we catch up with you and you turn to us to heal us. So far short of your glory do we fall, so far short. Yet you draw us forth as you walk on ahead of us; yet if we keep calling out to you, you shall answer. Never let our hearts be discouraged as we seek the light of your face.
O LORD, let us keep your NAME holy; in awe let us reverence you always. Let us remember your love for us and the understanding your Spirit brings. O let our minds be filled with your light as we wait steadfastly for you to come!
Open our ears, O LORD; open our eyes. Cast from our midst all arrogance, all condemnation from our tongues. Let us not be condemned ourselves but come to contemplate your glory forever.
Wed, 4 December 2019
(Is.26:1-6; Ps.118:1,8-9,19-21,25-27; Mt.7:21,24-27)
“Trust in the Lord forever!
For the Lord is an eternal rock.”
Sand or rock? Upon which do we build our house? If we “take refuge in the Lord” and enter “the gates of justice,” we shall find salvation in the Lord’s kingdom; if we “trust in man” and “princes,” we shall be leveled with the dust – our house shall collapse and we be “completely ruined.”
The choice is set before us. “Those in high places” will be humbled to the ground; those who find refuge in the empty things of this world will find no protection on the day of His coming. But for the “nation of firm purpose,” which “comes in the name of the Lord,” “He sets up walls and ramparts to protect.” And they shall “give thanks to the Lord” as they enter the gates of His holy city.
Jesus states clearly, “Only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” will enter His kingdom: the one “who hears my words and puts them into practice” is he who is wise. And the putting into practice is key. Jesus has come in the flesh, and flesh there must be to our deeds. He is real, and we must be as real as He in our love. Otherwise we deny Him. We deny His coming if we do not live His way. God is not across the ocean or in the sky; He walks upon this earth now and must be in our lives. Only this will bring us strength. Only this will enable us to stand when the torrents come and the winds blow and buffet our house – for these have no power over those who are set in the Hand of God, who do His bidding.
“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk.11:28). We cannot but think of these challenging words from our Lord, referring greatly to the Mother of God – whose service to the Lord we particularly celebrate in these days of preparation – and cannot but hope to abide by them and become the handmaiden Mary has shown herself to be, that the eternal blessings of God might be ours as well. In Him let us trust. In Him let our faith be set. And let us do His will.
O LORD, let us dwell in your House,
built on the Rock that is you.
YHWH, how shall our city be strong if we do not trust in you? How shall we stand on your Day if we are not your children, if we have not done your will in this world? How can we enter your House and there dwell in peace if we have not the key to your kingdom, if we live not as your Son?
O LORD, we shall but fall to the dust and be trampled underfoot if we have only words to offer you. If we have lived our lives in vain, then we have built our house on sand, and it shall but collapse when you stand before us on your holy Day. There is no hope for those who do not come to your Son and put His words into practice.
But for those who trust in you and serve you, the gates of justice open up and they enter in and dwell in your presence – these stand strong whatever may come for they stand with you who are the eternal Rock, the foundation that cannot be shaken. Let us enter your House and give thanks to you, O LORD, for you are our Savior and in you we take our refuge.
Tue, 3 December 2019
O blessed teacher of the faith –
may the nourishing waters of our Mother,
of the true teaching of our Church,
flow upon all souls,
calling them to the Lord
from whom they emanate;
like the waters trickling from the temple
in Ezekiel’s vision,
may they grow and increase
as they travel to the ends of the earth,
making all whole,
pure in the light of God.
Pray that the Mother of Heaven,
through whom flow these waters,
these graces pouring forth
from the Cross of Christ…
will pray for us here on earth
and see that we are nourished well
by the faith
brought to us by the holy apostles
and still fostered
by the shepherds of the Church.
May the Lord keep us in His way.
Tue, 3 December 2019
(Is.25:6-10; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.15:29-37)
“The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.”
And He will heal us. And He will lead us. And He will feed us.
Jesus went up onto a mountainside along the Sea of Galilee and sat down to teach and to heal. The sick were laid at His feet. Isaiah says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples.” This mountain is the Lord. It is Jesus who reaches out His hand to heal those lying at His feet. It is Jesus who raises the bread for blessing and gives all to eat. And it is He who “will destroy death forever.” “This is the Lord for whom we looked.”
And it is through His Church Jesus works; through the blessing of the priest who raises the bread and the cup, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood – this is our “feast of rich food and choice wines” envisioned by Isaiah. It is He who forgives our sins, He who removes “the reproach of His people,” wiping away “the tears from all faces” in the confessional. He anoints us with the oil of the Spirit in Baptism; He joins us as one in holy Matrimony… He shepherds us with the Word of His teaching, leading us “in right paths,” “beside restful waters,” to “dwell in the house of the Lord” forever.
“Let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!” If “only goodness and kindness” follow us all our days, what have we to do but rejoice? If we have a Lord who looks with such pity upon our hunger, what need we fear? If it is He who “spread[s] the table” before us, even here in this world, “in the sight of [our] foes,” where sin besets us… what can we lack? If “cripples, the deformed, the blind, the mute, and many others” were healed of their maladies, what sickness of ours is beyond His redemption?
In this world we “walk in the dark valley.” In this world we hunger. Here “the veil that veils all peoples” is upon us. But here, too, He is with us to refresh our souls and feed us with His Body and Blood in the New Jerusalem.
O LORD, feed us on the holy mountain
which is your Son
with His own Body and Blood.
YHWH, you are He for whom we have looked, and you come to us in your only Son, who gives to us His Body and His Blood that we might feast upon your presence even in this world. Let us not be afraid but remember that you are with us.
How glorious is your kingdom, LORD, where all are made well, where all are fed by your hand. Though we have so little to offer, you take it and bless it and multiply it that we might have an abundance. And so, even in the valley of death through which we must pass, you are with us to guide us, for your Son has gone there before us.
On your mountain let us make our home, O LORD our God; in the Word and Bread your Son offers let us take our refuge. He is the mountain on which we must dwell – in Him all death is dispelled and we are made whole in your sight. Let us remain ever on this mountain.
Mon, 2 December 2019
O holy apostle of the Lord,
model of faith in God
and love of the Church,
has there been a soul
to match your zeal
for the salvation of the world?
Convict us of our laziness,
of our sloth,
of our distraction by the things
not of the kingdom of God;
of what worth are our lives
if not spent in service of the Lord
and of neighbor?
O missionary of missionaries,
by your prayer
let the Church on earth,
which flounders so in empty illusion,
be renewed by a living faith
that reaches to the ends of the world
and banishes all darkness
from the hearts and minds of men.
Pray God’s kingdom come
and reign amongst us.
Mon, 2 December 2019
(Is.11:1-10; Ps.72:1,7-8,12-13,17; Lk.10:21-24)
“The earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
as water covers the sea.”
And so, “there shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
The vision is sure: “The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb… the lion shall eat hay like the ox… the child shall lay his hand on the adder’s lair,” for all shall live as one in the Spirit of the Lord. “Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace” – such is the vision to which all hearts aspire.
Jesus is the fullness of that peace. And so He says to His disciples, “Blest are the eyes that see what you see,” for what “prophets and kings wished to see,” what Isaiah prophesies for us today, is present there before them.
And He is present before us. But we can only see and hear Him if we are as “merest children,” else His presence will be hidden from our eyes. He wishes to reveal Himself, desires to lead us to the Father whom He alone knows, to whom He alone can lead us – but to find such fullness of vision, to gaze upon the face of God, to be filled with His wisdom and knowledge as is His Son, we must first fear Him, as He does, and seek to abide by the words and the commands that come to us by “the breath of His lips.” All must be slain that is wicked in us, and His justice and faithfulness shall be ours.
“May His name be blessed forever; as long as the sun His name shall remain,” for He Himself is light, and indeed His dwelling is glorious. With judgment and justice He is endowed, and in the light of His wisdom and grace we stand eternally blessed. But are our eyes open to Him?
Now should we pray for the Lord’s light to fill us, for His knowledge to cover us, that our eyes may be open to see Him, that we shall not miss Him as He comes.
O Lord, prepare our hearts to see you,
and the blessing of your presence, your peace,
O LORD, open our eyes and ears
to your glorious presence among us.
YHWH, your Son is our justice; our hope for peace is in Him – open our eyes to see His presence, to see your presence among us.
Upon Jesus your favor rests, O LORD, and that favor you would share with all of us; that favor He would share with us if we would but turn to Him with the heart of a child. May we be truly humble, O LORD, truly loving and truly kind, that your justice might be upon us for good, and to your salvation, to your holy mountain, we shall be called.
In awe of you let us stand, LORD, our eyes and ears filled with your glory alone. O how shall we bear such blessing? How shall we come to know such surpassing peace? How shall we come to stand in your presence and live in your perfection? Only if your Son reveals to us your glory; only if we are sustained by His grace will we be filled with knowledge of you, our only God.
Sun, 1 December 2019
(Is.2:1-5 or Is.4:2-6; Ps.122:1-9; Mt.8:5-11
I shall treat of both first readings)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”
For it shall come. “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain…. All nations shall stream toward it,” and there the Lord will give judgment. And His judgment will cause the banishment of war, for all shall be one in Him, and to all He shall grant “shelter and protection,” by night and by day.
The coming peace and unity all find on the holy mountain of Jerusalem prophesied by Isaiah is signaled in our gospel passage today as the Gentile centurion approaches Jesus with a request made in great faith. His surpassing faith prompts the Lord to reveal the truth of the coming kingdom: “Many will come from the east and the west and will find a place at the banquet in the kingdom of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” For it is faith that brings us to Him and to His blessings.
Certainly the serving boy for whom the centurion intercedes receives healing from the Lord; and certainly all those who “go up to the house of the Lord” in faith shall themselves be gratefully received. I pray we all remain in Zion, remain in “her place of assembly,” and so find refuge from “storm and rain” and from the “heat of day.” The New Jerusalem we know is the Catholic Church, is the faith handed down by Jesus through His apostles and blessed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know that within these walls we shall always find peace and protection, and we pray for all to stream toward the truth and the glory found in this House. There all shall find cleansing from their sins; “with a blast of searing judgment,” the Lord has created this Virgin Bride. So, “let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
As Jesus remarks to His followers, “I have never found this much faith in Israel,” He is calling them to an increase in their faith. He calls us, too, brothers and sisters, to act more readily upon His commands. Let us not fall short in our service to Him, and the peace of Jerusalem shall just as readily be ours.
O LORD, may all souls come to your holy mountain
and find there a home of peace.
YHWH, peace reigns in your House, and all those of faith find a place there. From every corner of the earth, men shall stream toward Jerusalem, where you dwell, where you teach the nations. Draw all souls into Holy Church.
You are the refuge and protection for all who are purged from their sin; all who come to you for cleansing of the blood from their hands find in you a place of peace and forgiveness, LORD. May all swords be beaten into plowshares – the war come from men’s hearts be banished forever.
All nations you call, O LORD, and all those of faith you accept into your kingdom. Let us be obedient in serving you that we might find your peace within our hearts and dwell on your holy mountain forever.