The BreadCast (Sunday)
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.

(Ez.37:12-14;   Ps.130:1-8;   Rom.8:8-11;   Jn.11:1-45)

 

“I am the resurrection and the life;

whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,

and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

 

“You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!” says the Lord God through the prophet Ezekial.  “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit dwelling in you,” says St. Paul.  And our psalm sings of the Lord’s “plenteous redemption,” that “He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities”; and so, “more than sentinels wait for the dawn, let [us] wait for the Lord,” who dispels all darkness, all death, by His Word, by His presence among us.  Let us but believe in Him, and we shall live.

The dawn comes to Bethany, to Martha and Mary, and to Lazarus.  It comes to us all in this powerful sign of the Lord’s conquering of all darkness and death, “that [we] may believe.”  Wrapped in burial cloth is Lazarus, laying in the sealed tomb four days.  The tears of a people are shed for the loved one who has died, and Jesus joins their weeping.  Deeply human is the Lord, and so, “perturbed and deeply troubled” He becomes at the sorrow we all know when death is near.  He longs ever to cry out to us not to mourn, but believe, and now we hear His voice call upon the Father’s name; and now as He “crie[s] out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” we see that what He says is true: He is the resurrection and the life.  And so, believing in Him, no longer does the Christian fear death.

Death is of the flesh, but we are “in the spirit.”  “The body is dead because of sin,” but “the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”  And so, as we rise from the graves opened by the powerful word of the Lord, as we rise from our iniquities unto eternal life, we know His Spirit at work within us, the Spirit of Christ that is only life.  In Him let us take refuge; in Him let us believe. He is here with us to keep us from death, to release us from all darkness – to free us all from sin.  Let us remain with Him and so have eternal life.

 

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

 

Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you

that we might do your works in this world

and praise you forever in Heaven. 

YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son.  Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church.  Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name.

Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God.  O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you.  Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom.

Why should we be troubled when we have the promise from Jesus that He prepares a place for us?  Why should we fear when He is near in the power of the Holy Spirit?  Let us follow closely the way He leads, that indeed we might exult in your presence forever.

Direct download: BC-041011-Su_5_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.7:10-14,8:10;   Ps.40:7-11;   Heb.10:4-10;   Lk.1:26-38)

 

“Behold, I come to do your will.”

 

Today we celebrate the fact that the Word became flesh, that God became man through Mary and dwells among us to take away our sins.  In this is fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’”  She is the Virgin; He is the Son – we are they with whom He dwells.  Praise God for His grace!

Obediently Jesus takes on the body prepared for Him by the Father for all ages; humbly He bows under the Hand of God. To come among us is His delight.  For He shall fulfill the prescriptions of the old law – as is written, so shall it come to be.  And in His blood poured out for our sakes, in the love He shares with us men, indeed shall be fulfilled the will of God.  No longer need we wait or search in vain, for all that is written is accomplished in Him.

And Mary is, of course, the perfect reflection of the Lord’s obedience; it is she in whom He is formed.  As He says, “Behold, I come,” she says, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.”  As the Lord says, “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.  To do your will, O God, is my delight,” His Lady says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  And so by the obedience won from her by the angel, this Blessed Virgin “will conceive in [her] womb and bear a son, and [she] shall name Him Jesus”; and “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”  She in her innocence and by the fullness of grace at work in her believes the reply to her question, “How can this be?”  She is assured by the miracle spoken of Elizabeth – for which this holy woman must certainly have prayed – and so the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” are realized; and she who believes becomes the instrument of our salvation.

Brothers and sisters, “we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.”  His coming among us is more than the greatest miracle; it means life for our very souls.  For by His incarnation and by the sacrifice of His flesh for our sakes is effected the cleansing of our sins and the drawing up of our lives unto heaven where He eternally dwells.  As He has dwelt with us, so may we now dwell with Him who has come for this purpose.  Let no fear grip your heart.  Consecrate yourself to Him and to His holy sacrifice.  And give yourself to His Mother, that she may form you in His image, and you may know the blessed obedience which both hold, and which is itself the means of our salvation.

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, make us all as your handmaid,

ready to do your will. 

YHWH, make us as selfless as Mary, as selfless as your Son, offering our bodies to your service, caring only for the salvation of others’ souls.  Freely let us give ourselves to your will, that your Son may work through us.

A Virgin conceives and bears a Son, LORD, and so your Word is fulfilled; your Word now walks among us.  This Virgin you prepared from all eternity to accomplish your will of saving souls.  Your own heart you placed within her, one of selfless sacrifice, and now as the angel comes to her, she is ready to accept your Word.

Upon hearing of her cousin Elizabeth, she is convinced that the angel is from your side, LORD; hearing answer to her sincerest of prayers, she knows you are in this Word.  Did she not perhaps offer her virginity for her cousin’s fertility?  Certainly her purity is blessed with the greatest fruitfulness, even as she who was thought barren prepares to give birth to a son.

Make us so fruitful, dear God.  Let us too lay down our lives, as has your Son, as has His Mother, that we might be of your generation, we pray.

Direct download: Annunciation_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(1Sm.16:1b,6-7,10-13a;   Ps.23:1-6;   Eph.5:8-14;   Jn.9:1-41)

 

“I am the light of the world.”

 

And by that light alone we see.  By this light which comes from God we who were born blind, who were born into sin, have our eyes opened.  And so having escaped the darkness we “live as children of light.”

When David was presented before Samuel, immediately the prophet’s eyes were opened to the one on whom God’s favor rested.  His eyes which had first “judge[d] from… appearance,” now with the Lord look “into the heart.”  How clearly he hears the Lord speak to him, “There – anoint him, for this is the one!”  And how readily he takes “the horn of oil in hand” and anoints the new king.  And how wonderfully “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”

Here is our own baptism in the Lord foretold.  Here is our own anointing with the oil of Christ presaged.  And as “Jesus made clay and anointed [the] eyes” of the blind man, so in our baptism we find our own anointing, an anointing which washes us clean of original sin, an anointing which prepares our hearts to receive Him – an anointing which opens our eyes to His light.  The eyes of our heart now see.  Our souls cry out from their depths of the light which has entered in and made them clean.  And so we say with the blind man in the presence of Jesus, “I do believe, Lord,” and we, too, worship Him as our “cup overflows” with “the goodness and kindness” of God.

“Christ will give you light.”  For this He has come into the world, “that those who do not see might see.”  In the words of Scripture, Paul entreats us today: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.”  The Lord has come to give us light.  As long as we say, “‘We see,’ so [our] sin remains”; we must be blind, we must recognize sin’s darkness encroaching upon our souls… and then we would “have no sin,” for then Jesus would remove from us our sin – then He would bring us light.

“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,” and so we must bring our sins before Him, and from the dead we shall rise… and with His light we shall shine.  May the Lord anoint us all with the oil of Christ, and may we be faithful to that anointing.

 

(Note: In Confession as in Baptism we are washed clean of our sins by Christ, and light is thus brought to our eyes.  Constant recourse we have to this preservation of our souls.)

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

Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd;

may we find salvation at His side. 

YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you.  May we follow in His steps.  Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our lives as He has, as the innocent Lamb for our salvation.  Though we are cut to the heart by the truth He speaks in His Word and through His apostles, let us turn to Him in repentance and find His comfort and peace – let us thus find ourselves in your holy arms.

O LORD, let our ears be open to hear His voice and His voice alone.  Let us not be led astray by false shepherds, false prophets who seek only their own gain and not the welfare of your sheep.  It is to sacrifice you call us, not to selfishness, and by laying down our lives, by entering the wounds in His flesh, we shall find eternal rest in your House.  Let us be washed clean in His blood and so be saved from corruption.

Direct download: BC-040311-Su_4_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(2Sm.7:4-5,12-14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29,37;   Rom.4:13,16-18,22;

Mt.1:16,18-21,24a  or  Lk.2:41-51a) 

“I will be a father to him,

and he shall be my son.”

It is through Joseph that Jesus is a son of David and so fulfills the promise to the king made by God: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever,” for He is the heir “raise[d] up” after David “who shall build a house for [His] name.”  “In heaven [the Lord has] confirmed [His] faithfulness,” and on earth He has made it known.  And so Jesus says of God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior!” and we of faith join His refrain.

As with Abraham, Joseph is made foster father of Jesus not merely by physical descent from David but “through the righteousness that comes from faith.”  For as Abraham believed and so became “the father of many nations,” so Joseph believed that it was “through the Holy Spirit that [Jesus] ha[d] been conceived” and “did as the angel commanded him and took Mary into his home,” thus becoming a father to Him who would “save His people from their sins.”  Like Abraham “he believed, hoping against hope,” and like Abraham he is blessed.

But, of course, Jesus is more than the Son of Joseph; in fact, this is the great sacrifice Joseph makes.  For truly he cares for Him who is more Son to the Father in heaven and Son of Man, born for all the human race.  Evident this is when He is found by Joseph and Mary in the temple after three days and He asks them (a question much like those He might have been putting to the teachers of the faith): “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” and in the curious fact that His parents waited a day before journeying back to Jerusalem to look for Him, for they were “thinking that He was in the caravan” – so much a part of His people had He become.

Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man, yet “obedient to them” – Joseph and Mary – He ever was.  And they were ever obedient to the dictates of the Father, that they should care for His only Son.  And so Joseph, husband of Mary, a simple carpenter, fulfills in simple fashion all the Lord had set out for him.  May we, too, by faith fulfill all the care we must take for Jesus, His mother, and His people.

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

Music composed and performed by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

******* 

O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever.

YHWH, your Son is known as the Son of David, the Son of Joseph the carpenter.  And truly He is the fulfillment of your promise to the king that his son shall ever sit upon the throne.  But He is conceived by the Holy Spirit: He is the Son of God.  Give us the faith of Joseph that we might believe this and take Him into our home.

In our houses He would dwell, in our very souls.  Thus would He make them your House, dear Father, as is the soul of His Mother, and the soul of the righteous man we celebrate today.  Your Church let us be, dear God; in faith let us ever remain.

Your kindness to us is indeed great, O LORD; your very life you would share with us this day.  In your kingdom let us make our home – your sons and daughters let us be.  Jesus sits upon the throne now, for He is the Christ.  And so, your Covenant stands firm forever: all who believe in Him will be blessed.

O LORD, make us righteous in your sight, even as the humble Joseph.  In our lives let your will be done…  In your Son let us make our home.

Direct download: March_19_-_St_Joseph_Husband_of_Mary_2009.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Ex.17:3-7;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Rom.5:1-2,5-8;   Jn.4:5-42)

 

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;

but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.”

 

What is this “spring of water welling up to eternal life” but the Holy Spirit come upon us, the Truth of God in our midst through the blessed sacrifice of the Son for us “while we were still sinners.”  Brothers and sisters, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” even as Jesus’ words of spirit and truth are poured into the ears of the Samaritan woman.  Do we know His grace?  Do we hear His voice and leave our water jar at the old well as we go to tell others about the Christ?

In our readings today is the juxtaposition of the physical and the spiritual, and the call to enter into the Spirit of God.  In our first reading, the Israelites “in their thirst for water” while wandering in the desert cry out against God and Moses and long to return to their slavery in Egypt, that they might but be able to eat and drink.  The Lord would teach them to depend on Him, to trust in the Spirit and His love, and He will provide for all their needs, as He does this day, but they are blinded to the Hand of God.  “Though they had seen [His] works,” they continually tested Him, unable to find rest in Him, and for their hardness of heart virtually none shall themselves enter the Promised Land.  And the source of their lack of faith is ever their bellies.

In our gospel twice we see the inability to understand the Spirit speaking because of the belly’s grumbling.  The Samaritan woman confuses the life-giving water of which Jesus speaks with the passing water she came to draw from Jacob’s well: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming to this well.”  And the disciples think someone else has brought the Lord something to eat when He says, “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” at their urging Him to eat the food they have in hand.  But as He speaks to the woman of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to them of our daily bread – “to do the will of the one who sent [us] and to finish His work.”  Indeed, as He awaits the return of the sinful woman with her Samaritan neighbors, He prepares them for the mission that must now go forth even to “foreigners.”  It is the Spirit of God He desires them to eat that they might be fortified for their call.  And it is the Spirit found in the Body and Blood He has shed for our sakes of which we all must partake to slake our thirst and find the strength to do the work which leads us to the kingdom of God.  His is a kingdom for all; and it lasts forever.

  

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

  

Music: "The Spirit Rules the Body" from Breath, The Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us believe that your Son

is the Savior of the world,

and so have eternal life in Him. 

YHWH, give us to drink of the water of the Spirit.  Let us listen to the voice of your Son and so be filled with your Word.  It is you who feed us; it is you who satisfy our thirst.  Let us not set our hearts on the food of this earth but seek only the streams of living water which come to us by the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.  Yes, let us listen to His voice and be converted to His way, and we shall be saved, and we shall worship you in truth.

O what joy would be ours if we could but set aside the jar we use to carry the water of this world and run to tell others of the glory in our midst in your only Son!  O what grace would course through our veins and be proclaimed by our tongues if the Spirit we welcomed into our hearts!  Dear LORD, let us turn to you and not to our stomachs.  Let your river in Heaven brim over and pour upon all your faithful children.

Direct download: BC-032711-Su_3_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Gn.12:1-4a;   Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22;   2Tm.1:8b-10;   Mt.17:1-9)

 

“Rise, and do not be afraid.”

 

Here in the midst of the darkness we drink in during this Lenten Season comes a light shining to assure our hearts of the promise that is ours.  The Lord’s Transfiguration is presented to us this day to lead us through all the tribulations of the cross to the resurrection, which is our holy goal.

“Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God,” Paul says to his special child Timothy, and so the Lord speaks to us all, reminding us that “He saved us and called us to a holy life.”  It is “up a high mountain by themselves” Jesus leads His principal disciples Peter, James, and John, to reveal to them the glory to which they are called – thus signifying the cross we must all carry along the rough terrain of this world to reach our place in heaven.  In seeing that “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light” and then hearing the voice of the Father overshadowing them, they are overawed… but the hand of the Lord touches them, and strengthens them for the road ahead.

Our call is like that of Abraham, the father of all those of faith: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”  We all must leave behind the security this world holds and go according to God’s word, to travel in a land foreign to our souls.  But His assurance is with us, His blessing is upon us, and so the darkness of the night should not make us afraid.  For “the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.”  And so, however difficult the walk, however steep the climb, our hearts should never waver; for we have always at our side “our Savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

And so, brothers and sisters, as we travel through the heart of the sacrifice this Lenten time invites us to share, let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” and let our prayer be as David’s: “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.”  For Jesus is before us to lead us to our home.

 

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

 

Music: "Going Home" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let your eyes be upon us

to guide us by your holy light,

and let our eyes look up and meet your own. 

YHWH, let us go as you direct us; let us follow your Son wherever He leads.  Though it be up a high mountain, though the path be rough and darkness overshadow us, let us not hesitate.  Let us listen to His voice speaking to our souls: “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

O LORD, you deliver us from death and preserve us despite any trial of this world.  To Heaven the way of the Cross does lead, so let us not be afraid.  Let us put our hope and our trust in you, knowing that you are always at our side, that your Spirit is with us ever to guide us to your eternal kingdom.  Let us know and remember that we will rise with Jesus.

All your works are trustworthy, dear God, and so let us be obedient to your call, that our lives, too, might be formed by your hand.  Grant us vision that we might see our way through the darkness of this world by the light of your beloved Son.

Direct download: BC-032011-Su_2_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Gn.2:7-9,3:1-7;   Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17;   Rm.5:12-19;   Mt.4:1-11)

 

“Just as through the disobedience of the one man

the many were made sinners,

so, through the obedience of the one,

the many will be made righteous.”

 

And what obedience Jesus shows in His temptations.  For He was weakened, “He was hungry” after His forty-day fast in the desert, and the devil came at Him with all his power.  But He does not falter as did the first man; He remembers the Word of God and His command.  And by His faithfulness the sin of Adam is washed clean.

See how the Lord atones for our sins; see how directly His temptations parallel those presented to Eve.  As she is shown the goodness of the food before her, that it is “pleasing to the eyes,” so the devil tempts Jesus with bread that will sustain His life.  As Eve ventures to take the food despite the command of God, listening to the serpent’s words: “You certainly will not die!” so Satan would lead Jesus to cast His weakened body down from the parapet of the temple, with the encouragement that the angels will protect Him.  And as Eve is seduced by the devil’s promise, “You will be like gods,” so he tries the same promise of power over “all the kingdoms of the world” with Jesus.  In the first two temptations Jesus struggles as He will later under the weight of the cross, sweating and bleeding under the devil’s test; but in the third, perhaps with understanding that the end of the temptations is at hand, He now exclaims, “Get away, Satan!” apparently revived – and His words are a most cutting blow to the prince of darkness: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve”; for it is the great sin of Satan to presume to be as the Almighty God.

And so the prayer of David, found so poignantly in our psalm: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense,” is answered  And so the sin that has been “before [us] always,” since Adam fell in the garden, is now to be cleansed from our souls.  For now the angels do come to minister to Him; and now He begins the ministry that leads directly to the cross and the redemption of mankind in His sacrifice.  Now the die is cast for the salvation of our race.  Soon the devil will hold no dominion.

 

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

 

Music: "The Chicken or the Egg: The Devil's Riddle" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us out of the desert of sin;

save us from temptation. 

YHWH, we have sinned and would drown in our sin except that you come to help us; your Son stands in our stead for redemption as once Adam stood in our place for rebellion, and so by His suffering the temptations we could not endure, cleanses us of all transgression.  And so, life comes now to our souls.

O LORD, by your compassion wipe out our offense.  Death has reigned among us because of the sin of our ancestor, but more powerful and wonderful is your grace, for it brings acquittal of our sin, removing our condemnation and so making it as if we had never sinned, as if death had never been.  Such is the gift your Son imparts.

Sustain your Holy Spirit within us, dear God, that we might remain in your grace and never again turn away from your Word.  Cast Satan far from us that we might stand with you, fed always by your Breath of life.

Direct download: BC-031311-Su_1_L_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Jl.2:12-18;   Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17;   2Cor.5:20-6:2;   Mt.6:1-6,16-18)

 

“Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

 

“We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” Paul exclaims; and the people of God today raise a cry, rending their hearts, begging His forgiveness… turning from their sins to find His healing grace.

The trumpet is blown in Zion; the people are gathered as one.  Now “let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.  Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.”  For now is the time of mourning, now is the time of prayer… now is the time to cry with David, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.”  For now as we “acknowledge [our] offense” we find how “gracious and merciful is He”; now “the joy of [His] salvation” returns to us as “a clean heart” He creates for us, as His Holy Spirit He instills in our souls.  Yes, “Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!”  And so let us cry out to our Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people!”

The Lord will hear us, brothers and sisters; He will be quick to respond, as long as we are careful “not to receive the grace of God in vain.”  As Jesus said to His disciples, so He says to us: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.”  Only such vanity will prevent our finding the “recompense from our heavenly Father.”  Yes, we must give alms.  Yes, we must pray.  Yes, we must fast.  But listen to the Lord’s instruction to “keep your deeds of mercy secret,” to “pray to your Father in private,” and to make sure “no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden.”  For then indeed “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” for your sacrifice.  But if your offering is one to impress the eyes of man, be sure the eyes of God do not look upon it and it shall find no blessing in His sight.

The time has come, the time of great mercy.  As we call upon our God, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.”  In Jesus and in His sacrifice for our sin we might now “become the very holiness of God.”  May we find now the Lord “stirred to concern for His land and [taking] pity on His people.”  May we find His grace at work in our souls as now we give ourselves to Him.

 

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

 

Music: "The Sackcloth Song" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, you see what is hidden;

let there be in our hearts no sin

but only your heavenly presence. 

YHWH, against you we have sinned, against you and your love.  We have turned our backs to you and our guilt is with us always.  But you are merciful and offer opportunity for repentance.  You are good and kind and allow us to return to you.  Help us to rend our hearts and weep in your presence, that we might know the healing touch of your forgiving hand.

Wash us thoroughly from our fault; let it no more be known in your sight, O LORD.  Now is the acceptable time for repentance – in Jesus you will hear our pleas.  O let His sacrifice be fruitful in your sight that we might be holy in Him this day!

And let our offering be acceptable to you as well.  May our fasting and praying and almsgiving bring down your blessings upon us.  Make us sincere, dear LORD, in our love for you and one another.  Let us lay down our lives with your Son and know your presence in our souls.  Spare us this day, O God; let us know the greatness of your mercy.

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

 (Lv.19:1-2,17-18;   Ps.103:1-4,8,10,12-13;   1Cor.3:16-23;   Mt.5:38-48)

 

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

 

In the Book of Leviticus God says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and this is good.  But in the gospel Jesus adds, “Love your enemies” – and this is better.  In the old law we are commanded, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people”; but in the new we hear, “Offer no resistance to anyone who is evil,” and even, “Pray for those who persecute you.”  For now it is revealed that all are God’s children, and so all must be loved as brothers.

“Is this wise?” you say, to love our enemies.  “Is this not foolishness?”  Indeed the wisdom of the world would call it so, but we are called to “become a fool, so as to become wise” in the eyes of God.  For what the Lord calls us to in this is no less than to be like Him, to become the very “temple of God” where “the Spirit of God dwells.”  “Merciful and gracious is the Lord,” and so are we called to be.  “Not according to our sins does He deal with us,” and so we should not deal with others according to theirs.  Our “Father has compassion on His children,” and we must have the same for all.

Has any of you put the words of the Lord into practice?  Has anyone sought to discover such love?  If you have then you know the glory it holds, the glory of a love which surpasses all.  And though justice is not wanting for those who reject it, His love cannot but be poured upon all.

O the happiness of the soul that receives such grace!  Oh the joy of him who knows the blessing of such utter sacrifice!  What greater blessing can there be than to “be perfect, just as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?  With David the soul alight with God’s love sings: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless His holy name.”  With Mary the Mother of God our soul proclaims His greatness as we come to know “all His benefits” in the service of His love.  And our transgressions are put far from us; and the Lord’s grace abounds within us – and like His Son do we become, who upon the cross forgave even those who nailed Him to this tree. 

Brothers and sisters, no greater love will we ever find.  It is this gift of holiness our Lord calls us to this day.  Let us love as He.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, how shall we be holy as you are holy

if we do not love as you love? 

YHWH, you have redeemed our lives from destruction; you have not judged us according to our sins but looked upon us with compassion, offering forgiveness for our crimes, for you are love and mercy itself.  And you call us to be like you.

If we are to be your Temple, O LORD, if we are to reflect your glory, then we must go beyond the desire to strike those who strike us, to answer evil with evil.  We must learn to listen to the blessed words of your Son and love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us… for only then will we come to know you, to be like you, who love us as we strike you repeatedly on the cheek, who ever open your arms to all your prodigal sons.  We must transcend our own minds to find the surpassing grace and wisdom only you know.

Blessed be your holy NAME, O LORD!  Let us be holy as you are holy!  Let us heed the wisdom of your Son, who calls us to eternal love.

Direct download: BC-022011-Su_7_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am 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

 (Sir.15:15-20;   Ps.119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34;   1Cor.2:6-10;   Mt.5:17-37)

 

“Oh, that I might be firm in the ways

of keeping your statutes!”

 

The clear theme of today’s readings is the need to “exactly observe” the commands of the Lord, to keep His law “with all [our] heart.”  It is this walking “in the law of the Lord” that makes us blessed in His sight.

It is popular to believe that Jesus’ coming somehow nullifies the law and makes it unnecessary for our lives.  The Lord makes it quite clear the opposite is true: “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  In fact, He could not make the point more certain than His saying, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.”  Indeed, He does not say only that killing subjects one to judgment, but even anger at one’s brother.  Not only is committing adultery wrong, but “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Simply because forgiveness is greater in the presence of Jesus does not mean punishment is less; it is in fact greater as well, and more than greater – eternal.  Now “the Spirit scrutinizes everything.”  Now even the smallest of sins is exposed to the all-encompassing light of Christ and to the “all-seeing… eyes of God.”  The sins being more greatly exposed, of course the forgiveness is greater, for there is that much more for the all-compassionate God to forgive.  But by the same token, for those who do not come to Jesus to receive His grace and mercy, for those who choose death over life… the punishment is certainly all the greater; for more they see upon their souls about which to gnash their teeth.  And now the choice that is made by the will of man is no longer temporal: it is made eternal by the Son of Man.  There is no release from Gehenna, and Jesus comes to usher us into Heaven or cast our souls into Hell.  And further warning is found in the saints, who have said that most must pay “the last penny” in the fires of Purgatory before entering the heavenly gates.

The Lord gives no one “license to sin.”  All shall be responsible for their actions against Him and against His wisdom and love.  All are commanded to act justly before Him, if we hope to come into His kingdom.  “Yes” is “yes” with the Lord, and “no” is “no”: no deception will stand before Him.  We must pray each day for the wisdom to follow Him, and so find His everlasting grace upon our souls even as we journey through this world.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, let us resolve to walk in your wisdom

that we might find eternal life. 

YHWH, help us to follow in your ways with our whole heart, to seek ever to fulfill your commandments, to be obedient to your Word and that of your Son.  Then we shall be blessed, for then we shall be perfect even as you are perfect.

Now your Spirit reveals all your truth through the teaching of Jesus.  Now light is fully shed on the wonders of your Law.  Now we are called to love as you love – not to be angry with our brothers, not to have lust in our heart… not to let our eyes wander or our tongue speak anything but your truth.  The way to Heaven your Son makes clear to us: O LORD, let us heed His Word and walk in His holy way!

How holy we must be to enter your presence, how detached from all sin.  Nothing of darkness can approach your glory, and so to the letter we must follow your Word.  Indeed, we must wholly live in your love.  To see as you see, O LORD, to transcend our blindness… to come to what is beyond our minds, we must give ourselves over to the Spirit and be purified of every stain of sin. 

Direct download: BC-021311-Su_6_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

“Your light must shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

 

And how shall “your light break forth like the dawn” except that you “share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.”  Indeed, you must “remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech,” for only “the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice,” only for him “light shines through the darkness” – as he is thus light being brought to this world of darkness and sin – only “he shall not fear,” for “his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”  And he shall stand on the last day, when the light comes to its fullness.

This emptying oneself of all that is evil and finding oneself in all that is just by “lavishly [giving] to the poor,” by feeding all those in need, is as Paul comes to the Thessalonians: “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling.”  “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”  “Not with persuasive words of wisdom” does he come “but with a demonstration of Spirit and power.”  Embracing the cross he empties himself entirely of all selfishness, of all that is not of God, and thus the light that shines through him is entirely of the Lord, and serves as genuine food to the hungry soul.

Brothers and sisters, to whom is the Lord speaking in our gospel but to us?  Who is “the light of the world,” what is the “city set on a mountain” but the Church?  If we are not “the salt of the earth,” bringing out the flavor of justice and love from the flesh of the Body, who shall be?  And what shall become of us and the world, therefore, but “to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”?  Sometimes we look to others – to government, to business, to science – to lead the way.  But all that need be is that we light the lamp that is in our grasp by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the house shall be illumined; we shall no longer fear or worry for the fate of those in need, for we shall be present to serve them.  But if “under a bushel basket” we place the light that is ours, what can the world be but dark; and what can the people do but suffer?  Brothers and sisters, we are called to shine the love of God.  The time has come to do so.

 

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

 

Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (2nd part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us trust firmly in you

and so shine your light

even as your Son, Jesus. 

YHWH, help us to be the light you call us to be, the light we must be if the world is to be saved from darkness.  Your Son has come as the true light to illumine the hearts of all men, to save them from their sin, and we must now carry that light forth, for who else shall do so?

Bless your Church, O LORD. with the sacrificial Spirit of your only Son.  Instill in our hearts the love only He knows.  Help us to be generous, to lay down our lives for others, that the hungry might be fed and the naked clothed with your glory.  O may our light indeed break forth like the dawn in this dark world that all souls might be drawn to your kingdom!

No fear have we, dear LORD, but the fear of failing to serve you, failing to reveal the face of Jesus in all we do.  Let us not hide His light; let our spirits not be corrupted and we be trampled underfoot for turning from your call.  Rather, let us do good, let us do your will, that your glory may be ever with us.

Direct download: BC-020611-Su_5_OT_A.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: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.8:23-9:3;   Ps.27:1,4,13-14;   1Cor.1:10-13,17;   Mt.4:12-23)

 

“Light has arisen.”

 

“Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.”  Yes, “a light has shone”; Jesus has come.  No longer do we walk in darkness.  So we should proclaim with David: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”; we should long to dwell in the Temple He has built, “gaz[ing] on the loveliness of the Lord.”  Here in His House we “see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.”  Here in His Church we come to the paradise He has come to establish in this land of darkness.

The light dawns as Jesus calls His disciples to His side.  Here are the beginnings of His Church, the coming of light to this earth.  The Lord calls Peter and Andrew, and James and John, and they respond, and they follow the light.  And the light goes forth as He goes “around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”  Do you see how the light grows?  Do you know the light reflected in the disciples’ eyes, which shall take root and become known to all the world?  Here indeed is the Church begun, the holy House of God – the New Jerusalem.  And nothing shall disturb its growth; nothing shall dim or block the light that has come.

Yet what division is upon the Church Christ has founded here on the shores of Galilee.  How has it come to be that we are so disobedient to Paul’s instruction “that there be no divisions among [us], but that [we] be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”  How many more rivalries have we than the Corinthians.  Not only do those separated from the Church declare their peculiar allegiance to various people or nations, saying, “I belong to Luther,” or “I belong to Calvin,” or “I belong to England” – and now there are some 360 different denominations, one for every day of the year, it seems – but within the Catholic Church deep divisions arise between “liberal” or “conservative” theologians, thus bringing darkness upon God’s people.  The Church remains, and nothing shall overcome it, but what a poor sign it is to the world as the devil has his day in its division.

The Lord has come bringing “abundant joy and great rejoicing” for those who remain in His light.  The unbroken flame rises up from these first apostles Jesus called on this one morning by the Sea of Galilee.  The net extends from their hands and draws in all who truly seek to dwell in the presence of God.

 

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

 

Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" (2nd part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, may the Gospel be proclaimed

in strength this day

in your Son’s holy Name. 

YHWH, your light has dawned upon this dark world; in Jesus your Son our salvation has come, and now we may dwell in your House with Him.  Beginning on the shores of Galilee, your Word goes forth, calling all men to your kingdom.  May we repent of our sin that we might enter there.

Today your Son calls the first apostles from their boats to dry land that they might be fishers of men.  And so He works through His apostles even to this day.  A great light shines upon those who walked in darkness – we who were sinners now come to your Temple, LORD, there, we pray, to remain all our days.

Let there be no division in your Church, dear God, but let us be united in the flesh of your Son and preach His Gospel with one voice (His own) to the ends of this dark earth.  O let your holy light now shine through all He calls to be His disciples!  The yoke of sin that has enslaved us be smashed, we pray, that we shall no longer be afraid, that we shall no longer walk in darkness.

Direct download: BC-012311-Su_3_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Mk.16:15-18)

 

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.”

 

One would not have expected these words to be spoken so profoundly to the heart of St. Paul.  For he, then known as Saul, had spent such time and with such vigor had persecuted the followers of Christ.  Why does the Lord shine His light all about him?  Why does He speak to him and reveal Himself to him?  Why is it this man who is picked to bring the Name of Jesus to all the nations?  Perhaps it was his very vigor in persecuting His followers Jesus admired.  Perhaps his sincerity and commitment to this cause in the name of God He knew He could use for the cause of justice and right.  Perhaps he is a sign to us all that none is beyond the redemption the Lord offers.  We know only that he who was persecuting the Church now works to build it up.  We know only the story of this great Apostle to the world.

“Recover your sight,” Ananias says to this Saul, and so Paul, once blinded by the light of the Lord, now has his eyes open to see.  So he who once went about with scales on his eyes, he whose vision was once so prevented from realizing the truth of the Jesus in his midst… he who was once so like his brother Pharisees, now sees.  And what he sees is not simply Ananias standing before him.  What he sees standing before him in this faithful disciple of Jesus, is Christ Himself.  And he realizes whom he has been persecuting, and repents.  And so he is baptized.  And so his mission, one wrought in the suffering of Christ, begins.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; glorify Him, all you peoples!” are the words of our psalmist, but they could as easily be the exhortation of the Apostle Paul.  Having himself believed in the Good News proclaimed to all creation and accepted Baptism into its way, he himself now brings so many others to walk along the same path.  Great signs accompany him, and his words to our ears are as those of Jesus to him, for now he is such a strong part of the Body of Christ, persecuted by this world and calling it to salvation.  On this day all our hearts should turn to the Lord, that we might join Paul and profess our faith in His Name.

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, help us to believe

and so turn to your Son to be saved.

YHWH, let all men turn to you as has your great Apostle.  Reveal yourself to the eyes and ears of all souls who seek God, all who are zealous for the truth.  Why should we continue so blind?  Let all be baptized into the way of your Son and so be blessed with His power and His love.

Let us not be afraid to lay down our lives for you, O LORD. Let us not turn away from what we must suffer for your Name and that of your Son.  In this we should find our joy; proclaiming the Gospel to all Creation should be the food that sustains us.  Let us be the sign of your presence in this world.

Lay your hands upon us, LORD, that we might be healed.  Send your disciples to us to teach us of your way and your truth.  Let us enter into that way with them and declare to all that Jesus is the Messiah and in Him all souls are saved and brought to light.

Direct download: Conversion_of_Paul_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Is.49:3,5-6;   Ps.40:2,4,7-10;   1Cor.1:1-3;   Jn.1:29-34)

 

“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,

and my God is now my strength!”

 

John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is “the Son of God,” the One upon whom he has seen “the Spirit come down and remain.”  And we are all His servants, made holy only in Him.  John declares his own servitude, speaking of “the one who sent [him] to baptize with water,” and stating, “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.”  His witness to Jesus and the strength he takes from Him is clear, as is the case with St. Paul, who declares himself “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,” and goes on to say that, indeed, all the Church is “called to be holy” in Jesus Christ.  This call from the Lord to be His servant, and that it is through His servants the Lord shows His glory, is prophesied in strength by Isaiah in our first reading, showing that even before Christ came to be born among us He indeed existed and through Him the Father called His servants, His children, to Himself.  For Isaiah speaks for God, saying, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  Here he speaks of Jesus; here he knows even in his time of the salvation the Lord brings.

And David in our psalm echoes the same theme of the servitude of Christ and the servitude in Christ to which all are called, and which acts as a light to this world.  “Ears open to obedience you gave me,” proclaims the great and humble king, and sings as if in the voice of Christ: “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”  What great blessing it indeed is to share in the servitude of Jesus, to have His song placed in our mouths, to make our lives “a hymn to our God.”  He makes us His own and we share in the blood that flows through His veins when we place ourselves in the service of the Lord.

The Lord calls.  He is among us now and has made His salvation known.  Through the prophets, through the Baptist, through His apostles and martyrs and saints – through “all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” He reveals His glory day to day.  It is His desire that we be strong in Him as we join to Him and are baptized by Him with the Holy Spirit.  His grace and peace He would leave with us, His glory He would reveal through us, if His servants we would make ourselves this day.  Find your strength in Him, brothers and sisters.  He stoops toward you and hears your cry, and will instill His song of praise in your hearts, to be declared to all the world.

 

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

 

Music: "Miracle" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, may we all testify

that Jesus is the Son of God;

by Him may all souls be saved. 

YHWH, ears open to obedience give us that we might be your servants, that we might be as the Body of your only Son, doing your will in all things, ever making Him known.  Let all we do testify to His presence in our midst that salvation may come to all men, even to the ends of the earth.  Your apostles, your prophets, please make us, crying out your way, calling all to holiness in the Lamb of God.

Jesus is the One who is greater than us, greater than any man who has walked this earth, for only He is your Son, dear God; only He sanctifies the human race by His blessed sacrifice.  Let our lips not be restrained, but let us declare His glory to all souls.

You have stooped toward us, O LORD; through Jesus you have shown us your glory.  Your Servant you have called and sent among us that we all might become your servants in Him.  O let your law be so in our hearts and the doing of your will our delight!  Alleluia!

Direct download: BC-011611-Su_2_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.42:1-4,6-7;   Ps.29:1-4,9-11;   Acts 10:34-38;   Mt.3:13-17)

 

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”

 

And so He anoints us all in the baptism our Savior has wrought.  As Jesus humbled Himself to be baptized by John, so must we bow our heads before Him and receive holy baptism at His hands.  As He has laid down His life for us, so must we lay down our lives for one another.  As “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil,” so God is with us to do the same.

“The Spirit of God descend[ed] like a dove and [came] upon Him.  And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”  So Matthew recounts the Baptism of our Lord.  And how similar is the beginning of our reading from Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am well pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit.”  The chosen one of the ages now walks amongst us, the Spirit of God upon Him.  His justice now extends to the ends of the earth, calling all into His blessed confines.  None who come to Him does He reject.  The “eyes of the blind” He opens, the prisoners He brings “from confinement” in the sin and darkness of the dungeon that is this world to the heavenly light of His presence walking among us in sacred flesh.  “In every nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him,” for He loves all.

And so should we not sing out in praise of the glory of the Lord to which we are all called as did David at the completion of the tabernacle of God?  For here stands the true Tabernacle, here stands its fulfillment… before us is God who calls us not only to look upon but to enter into His doors and dwell within Him in His heart, in His bosom – one with His sacred flesh and blood.  The law is now written on our hearts, not only pages of a book; now the Spirit speaks to those who remain close to Him.  Now we hear the “mighty” and “majestic” “voice of the Lord… over the waters”: “the God of glory thunders.”  “In His temple all say, ‘Glory!’”  And should we not “give to the Lord the glory due His Name”?  Does not our cup overflow as Peter’s to declare the salvation that comes at the hand of our God?

Jesus has come.  The Spirit is with us.  Go now in the Spirit and power of God.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may your Son, our King,

bring your merciful justice to all who dwell in darkness. 

YHWH, your mighty voice is over the waters, declaring the glory of your Son to a people in darkness.  Your Spirit is upon Jesus to open our eyes to your glory here now in our midst – and what should we do but praise you?

He comes humbly to us, bearing our sins and bringing peace to our troubled souls.  And so, now the flood cannot overwhelm us; now we are released from the prison in which we had been trapped for so long.  Now, O LORD, your will is accomplished and all are called into your holy light.

O let us be baptized with Him and so become as your beloved sons!  Let us, too, hear your voice speaking your blessing over us.  Fulfill all righteousness among us this day, let your work be accomplished among men – let us be known as your children.  O LORD, let us be acceptable to you!

Glory to you, O God of all glory!  May we be pleasing to you as is your Son.  Let your surpassing justice be done. 

Direct download: Baptism_of_the_Lord.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.60:1-6;   Ps.72:1-2,7-8,10-13;   Eph.3:2-3a,5-6;   Mt.2:1-12)

 

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”

 

And so our prophecy of Isaiah and our psalm of David come to pass: “Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you… the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.”  And “the kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.  All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him.”  And so we have the revelation made known to the Apostle Paul and all His holy ones: “The Gentiles are now coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Yes, the Light of Jerusalem has come, and it draws the ends of the earth by its radiance.   Here is the star which rises in our midst; here is the true light which shines upon all men.   And all men are drawn to it – none can deny its brightness before us, its truth and its glory.  And who is this king but the One of “justice” and “profound peace”?   Who is He but the One who “shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor He shall save.”   And so all must make themselves poor before Him, laying their gifts at His blessed feet.

Today we celebrate the coming of Light to the nations, the manifestation of Jesus Christ to this world covered in darkness.  And we find our hope and our joy in Him as did the magi two thousand years ago.   For He continues to reveal Himself to our hearts.  He continues to show His peace and justice to all who look for His coming.   Let our eyes be raised to the heavens and our hearts be diligent in seeking Him, and we will be led to His crib.   There the Mother holds Him in her arms; there before such beauty we should empty our souls in adoration of His blessed presence, like these magi who “prostrated themselves and did Him homage.”   Then we shall rise fulfilled.

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us by your light

to lay down our lives before you.

YHWH, into this world of darkness you have sent a great light and now all nations desirous of truth, desirous of light, follow that light to find you, dear Father in Heaven.  As the magi followed the star to find the Baby Jesus with Mary His Mother, so all poor souls follow your Son to find you who have created us all; for He is in you, and looking upon His innocent face we see you, our LORD and God, and the light is ours.

There is no division in your House, O LORD; all souls are called into your presence.  Your star you make obvious for all to see that none may be left by the wayside but all keep to the road that leads to life.  Help us, O LORD, to empty ourselves of all that keeps us from gazing at your light, all that makes our eyes blind to your glory.  May we with the magi prostrate ourselves before your Child, offering all we have to Him and so to you.  He is the King that shall rule us all – let us embrace His coming.

Direct download: Epiphany_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Nm.6:22-27;   Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8;   Gal.4:4-7;   Lk.2:16-21)

 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen,

just as it had been told to them.”

 

The blessing of God, His holy Son, was upon the shepherds, and it is upon us all.  For “God sent His Son, born of a woman” that His “way be known upon earth,” “that we might receive adoption as sons.”  And what greater blessing could man know than to fulfill his call as son of the living God?

We are blessed, brothers and sisters, and we should proclaim it as the shepherds.  The blessing invoked upon the people by Aaron has been realized in the birth of the Son.  Through Him “the Lord let[s] His face shine upon [us]” – this is His grace come.  And how else but in haste should we travel to Him?  How quickly we should arrive at His side.  And how amazed all should be upon hearing the blessings we have known, at the hand of our God.

Mary is she who is truly blessed, and we honor especially today she “who kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  For so obedient was she to God’s will that He was “conceived in [her] womb” and made flesh in our sight.  So, let us thank her today for the blessing she has brought into our midst.  As we are now sons of the Father with the Spirit of the Son “crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” in our hearts, so we are sons of Mary, too, for the Lord’s divinity cannot be separated from His humanity – the two meet as one in Jesus Christ.  This is our great blessing.

From “an infant lying in the manger” shall come the salvation of our race, and the Mother of this renewed race, consecrated to God in Him who is “named Jesus,” we commemorate with our hearts and our voices in praise this holy day.  May she now be the instrument by which “the Lord bless[es]” and “keep[s]” us; may she pray this day that “His face shine upon [us].”  And may all her children be one in the blessing of Christ, her Son.  Amen.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, what blessing is upon us

this Christmas day! 

YHWH, we are your sons now because Jesus has become our Brother.  Born of the Virgin, His blessing is now upon our race – He it is who shines the light of your face.  Let us glorify you for your blessing.

Now we may call you “Father!” now that the Spirit of your Son is with us.  For in Him we are adopted as your sons, LORD, and so through Him you are our Father.  Let the light of your face shine upon us all our days.

It is you who rule all nations, LORD; all the earth is in your hands.  Yet you come to us as a little child, poor and lying in a humble manger.  Let us ponder this wonder with Mary; let us keep your will and your Word ever in our hearts, that we might see unfold the revelation of your presence among us.

Too wonderful for us is the grace you bring, LORD; yet let us live as your sons, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Direct download: Mary_Mother_of_God_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Sir.3:2-6,12-14;   Ps.128:1-5;   Col.3:12-21;   Mt.2:13-15,19-23)

 

“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts,

the peace into which you were also called in one body.”

 

A man is a man, a woman is a woman, and children are children – this does not change with time or culture.  All are called to be one in the love and sacrifice of Christ; all are one holy family.

Why do we find it necessary to make excuses for Holy Scripture and the “patriarchal family pattern” it reflects and “the subordinationist family ethic of the Biblical culture” (from the commentary of the missal from which I take today’s readings)?  How is it we have lost the beauty of Paul’s words on the complementary nature of the conjugal relationship?  How is it the family has become bereft of Christ?

One would think Paul states, “Husbands, beat your wives,” instead of “Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them,” by the way his text is avoided like the plague.  Why such ignorance of what is actually present in Scripture?  And if the Scripture is perverted, why do we not “in all wisdom... teach and admonish one another,” instead of casting the wisdom of the Lord from our presence, or rationalizing it away.  Is it a sin for a wife to be submissive, to respect her husband; for children to be obedient toward their parents; for the husband and father to lay down his life for his family?  Is power to be defined by the dictates of the world, or by the cross?  Do we desire to control, or to love?

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!”  Here is the key to our roles, in the exclamation of our psalmist.  “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him,” Paul summarizes his teaching.  Hear in his letter the call to “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another,” even as the Lord has done with us.  Be led by the Word of the Lord and His instruction and guidance.  You, husbands, do you reflect Joseph’s obedience to the Word of God brought by the angel?  Do you care for your families as God calls?  Are you mothers like Mary, moving according to the protective hand upon your hearth, your house?  And children, do you honor your father and mother’s authority over you as Jesus, who, though the Son of God, humbled Himself to be the child in this Holy Family?  Let us all be as Christ – honoring, obeying, humbling ourselves… in a word, loving one another as He has loved us.  Then we will be of the family of God.

 

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

 

Music: "Vision of Children" (2nd part) from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, call us out of Egypt to your holy land. 

YHWH, obedient let us be to you, and serve one another.  It is your will that we love one another, that we act with humility and patience, always forgiving and living in peace.  Indeed, let us reflect the life of the Holy Family.

Was not Joseph obedient to your every word, dear LORD?  Did he not have in his soul only to protect your Son and His Mother?  Did he think of himself at all?  O let all fathers lay down their lives in such a complete manner!

And was not Mary obedient to Joseph (who was obedient to you)?  Did she not recognize, O LORD, that your will was being accomplished through his instruction, through the inspiration upon his soul?  Did she stop to question his actions?  Did she think herself better qualified, being the Mother of God?  O let all wives be so respectful of their husbands!

And was Jesus not obedient in all things to Joseph and Mary, He who was Son of God and God Himself?  Did He invoke His superiority over them?  O God, let all children so honor their mother and father!  Let all walk in your ways, in your way of sacrifice, and so be blessed as the Holy Family. 

Direct download: BC-122610-Holy_Family_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(1Jn.1:5-2:2;   Ps.124:2-5,7-8;   Mt.2:13-18)

 

“The blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

 

And as martyrs of the Church, these innocent children slaughtered by Herod participate in the pouring forth of the blood of Christ.

“Out of Egypt I have called my son.”  What does the prophet mean but that by the only Son all shall be redeemed of their sins – that out of sin all are called, all are drawn by the Lord?  “Broken was the snare, and we were freed” when the child was born, when He died upon the cross.

And that death is begun already in the slaughter of the holy innocents, whom indeed we commemorate as martyrs this day.  In their sacrifice the cross is already known, though the Child Jesus be but a boy.  No greater evil, no greater act of sin could be than Herod’s cruel decree to “massacre all the boys two years and under in Bethlehem and its environs.”  And in the “sobbing and loud lamentation” rising from the town where Jesus was born we hear presaged our own cry, our own beating of our breasts as we gaze upon the crucified body of God’s Holy One.

It is sin that brings the slaughter of the innocent children, and it is sin that causes Christ’s crucifixion.  And we are participants in that sin, brothers and sisters.  “If we say, ‘We have never sinned,’ we make Him a liar and His word finds no place in us.”  For He has come because of the sin which encompasses mankind, to redeem us from its sentence of death.  And the blessed apostle John makes clear that we are indeed all participants in sin, and if we deny this fact we make His sacrifice null for our lives and continue to walk in darkness.  We must all bewail our sins and the horrors they have wrought, and from their snare we shall be released – else the “raging waters” will overwhelm us.

The souls of the innocents slaughtered by the evil king have been preserved, for their “help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Our souls, too, shall be redeemed “if we acknowledge our sin,” our complicity in evil.  For “He who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong” if we are but able to see we are not innocent as He, or they.

 

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

 

Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, take from us our weeping for our sins;

make us innocent as these children. 

YHWH, what horrors our sins have wrought?  Are we not complicit in the slaughter of these little ones, as indeed we are complicit in the crucifixion of your Son?  Should we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin”?  Should we deceive ourselves about the darkness in which we find ourselves?  If we should, we would make void the sacrifice of Christ for the cleansing of our souls.  For what would then need to be cleansed, and why should He have died?

The truth is we are surrounded by sin and it would overwhelm us without the blood shed by Jesus.  It is He alone who breaks the snare that holds us, and His martyrs share in His sacrifice.  And we are called by you, O LORD, to share in this holy offering with them.

Out of Egypt you call us, LORD, far from the darkness of sin.  And if we admit our sin before you, in such light of truth we can be assured of your forgiveness.  To Jesus let us come; at the foot of His Cross let us remain, and we shall never be separated from His cleansing grace.

Direct download: Holy_Innocents_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(1Jn.1:1-4;   Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12;   Jn.20:2-8)

 

“He saw and believed.”

 

And “the eternal life that was present to the Father and became visible to us,” which John now proclaims, is Jesus Christ the only Son of God, risen from the dead and present to us now even as He sits with the Father.

John has seen Him.  He has believed in Him.  His “hands have touched” Him and so he “proclaim[s] the word of life” made so real in his midst.  What else could he do but declare that which burns in his heart?  What else could be the Evangelist’s desire but to share the blessing he has known as “the one Jesus loved”?  For brimming with love this apostle is, and only in writing of this joy, only proclaiming it to the world and seeing others enter into such selfsame blessing will make his joy complete.  To this he has been called by the Lord.

“Light dawns for the just,” David declares, as if in his psalm to presage the coming of Christ and John’s own words on the coming of Light to this earth.  And indeed the just shall see Him, and gladness shall be “for the upright of heart.”  For all the just shall “be glad in the Lord… and give thanks to His holy name,” for their souls drink deeply of the salvation in their midst; they know Him whom their hearts love.  They see Him, and believe.

And I note the special significance “the piece of cloth which had covered the head” of Jesus – which was “not lying with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself,” as John tells us in his gospel – seems to have as a catalyst to belief.  John had seen the wrappings before entering the tomb, but not this cloth, and it is when he enters he sees and believes.  It is as if the Lord left it neatly rolled up in a place by itself to indicate to them that He had not “been taken from the tomb” by robbers, as Mary Magdalene (another beloved of Christ) seems to fear.  Why would a thief take time to do such a thing?  And so, Jesus’ touch is upon the cloth.

“All peoples see His glory” now, brothers and sisters.  By the witness of John and all the apostles, eyes are opened to His presence.  Let us see Him with John; let us touch Him… and let us know His touch upon our hearts, and so continue to proclaim His glory.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us rejoice in the presence of your Christ

with us this day. 

YHWH, let all men see your glory in the presence of your risen Son.  Let all men come to that glory through faith in Him.  Let us hear and believe what John tells us – that He has walked among us in the flesh, that the apostles’ hands have touched Him… that our hearts might be touched by His presence, and so your own.

With our eyes let us look upon your glory, LORD, we who are so blinded by sin and slow of heart to believe.  Let us run to the tomb with your apostles that we may see your Son has been raised from the dead, that death no longer has dominion over us but with Him we have been raised.  Let us rejoice at the light that dawns in our midst.

You are king over all the earth, LORD, and all the heavens proclaim your justice and your truth.  May we join in the choir of your angels and your holy apostles in declaring your glory to the ends of the earth, that all men might be loved by you as was John.

Direct download: St_John_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Acts 6:8-10,7:54-59;   Ps.31:3-4,6-8,17,21;   Mt.10:17-22)

“They proved no match for the wisdom and spirit

with which he spoke.”

The world cannot stand up to the Word of God; even death has no power over those who trust themselves to His Spirit.

A model of faith is Stephen.  A perfect trust in the Lord made this martyr shine before the persecution of men.  He made the Lord his “rock of refuge” and so the Lord did “lead and guide” him even unto heaven, hidden in “the shelter of [His] promise from the plottings of men.”

It is this trust Jesus speaks of in our gospel when He warns His apostles beforehand of the persecution which awaits them.  He tells them that when they are dragged before rulers to “give witness… on [His] account”: “Do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it… the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.”  And it is this trust, even unto death, that Stephen exemplifies so perfectly.

David echoes Jesus’ words on the cross in our psalm: “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” and Stephen lives them in our first reading.  While being stoned to death he prays, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (and proceeds to forgive those who kill him).  And so this feast of our first martyr follows our celebration of the birth of our Lord, for it is in this world we are handed over to death, and it is in this world we must suffer in love.  Entirely we must trust ourselves to the care of God to find the vision of heaven – “I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand” – which becomes Stephen’s own.

The words we speak, if they are blessed by God, will bring us inevitably unto heaven.  If it is the Spirit who works in us, what need we fear?  For what is more powerful than He?  Where is greater truth to be found?  And so, to whom else should we turn?  “Whoever holds out till the end will escape death,” brothers and sisters.  Though “hated by all” for our love of Jesus, if we continue ever to love even those who hate us, His Spirit will lift us unto Him and provide all we need, in words and works, to conquer the evil of this world. 

May the sweet blood of Jesus cover all His children and bless their witness to Him.

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, by your power we escape death

and find your glory. 

YHWH, let us take refuge in you, in your Son, and in the Spirit, and we shall never die but be raised to life in glory with you forevermore.  May your Spirit speak through us and we lay down our lives with your Son.

A crown awaits those who love as you love, dear LORD, who follow in the way your Son has marked out for us.  If we speak your truth, if we trust in you and do your will, you will protect us even from death – you will save us from the plotting of men, and we will stand at your right hand even as the stones rain down upon our heads.

St. Stephen, pray for us this day that we will be led by the Spirit of God and be unafraid of speaking before the rulers and kings of this world.  May our blood be joined with your own and so we, too, be one with our Savior.

Direct download: St.Stephen_Dec._26.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Is.52:7-10;   Ps.98:1-6;   Heb.1:1-6;   Jn.1:1-18)

 

“You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

 

The coming of the One prophesied by Isaiah and hailed by John these many days is fulfilled in our midst at this blessed moment in time.  And so in our dark world, the light that is God now shines.

“Hark!  Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion.”  To “all the ends of the earth” He makes “His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.”  For the Lord God walks among us now as man; He “who is the refulgence of His glory, the very imprint of His being,” is now revealed, is now made flesh; “full of grace and truth,” He appears in our midst.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  And He through whom “all things came to be,” who brought life, “the light of the human race,” now shines – and now we come to know Him; now we hear the Word spoken to our ears… now we can say, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  The Word no longer hidden, God no longer speaks “in partial and various ways,” but now “through the Son” the fullness of truth, the blessing of peace, is upon us.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him,” for He comes “announcing peace… announcing salvation.”  No longer need we wander in darkness, wondering, Where is our God?  He is here.  He is Jesus.  He washes all darkness from our minds, He accomplishes “purification from sins,” and He sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” giving power to be like Him, “to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, “who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.”  Come, see and know the transcendent glory standing in our midst.

And so, what have we to do but rejoice?  Though “no one has ever seen God,” though He has seemed to us beyond understanding, yet “the only Son… has revealed Him.”  So let us “sing joyfully before the King, the Lord” “with the harp and melodious song.”  Let us “break into song” and “sing praise.”  For He whom “all the angels of God worship” has come for our salvation, and our Christmas should only be merry. 

God be with you, brothers and sisters.  Jesus love you.

 

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

 Music: "Baby Being Born" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, your glory is revealed to us this day,

and so let us offer you due praise.

YHWH, your Son is born in our midst and so reveals your glory to us.  His light now shines in this dark world, and so men are saved from their sins.  O let us worship Him who is the very imprint of your Being! who is one with you.  You are with us this day in your Son, and what should we do but rejoice.

Glory to you, LORD and GOD, for now the feet of Jesus walk among us and peace is proclaimed to the ends of the earth; salvation is ours by the grace and truth He brings to this land.  Let all eyes behold the salvation He has wrought in our midst.  Let all souls break out in song in praise of His glory.

It is our joy to worship you, O LORD, and the only Son whom you have sent.  For you are our life; in you we are born – by you all Creation comes to be.  And now you are with us in the flesh of your Son; now your dwelling is among us.  To us this day please bring your peace.

Direct download: Christmas_Day_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.9:1-6;   Ps.96:1-3,11-13;   Ti.2:11-14;   Lk.2:1-14)

 

“Today in the city of David 

a savior has been born for you

who is Christ and Lord.”

 

Here is the “infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”; here is He who saves all from sin, born into our humble humanity.

Yes, “a child is born to us, a son is given us,” and “upon His shoulder dominion rests.”  This little one wrapped in our own flesh is indeed named “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.  His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,” for He rules all the earth with His loving justice.  And so what should we do but “announce His salvation, day after day”?  What can we who are overwhelmed with the joy of His presence in our midst do but “tell His glory among the nations; among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.”  For He has come for all nations and all people, to live in their hearts this day.

“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice”; and let all mankind join the angels in their song of praise: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”  The Lord has come “to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own,” to bring His surpassing peace to all souls set on His goodness and His glory.  So, let us be “eager to do what is good,” that we might be as He is, that we might share in His eternal peace.

To Bethlehem the Virgin came at the time of the census.  There “the time came for her to have her child,” He who is our Bread of Life.  For He is enrolled among our number now; God has been made man – and nothing could give life to waiting souls like this miracle of new birth in our midst.  And so, let us know the humble shepherd’s awe; let us hear the word the angel brings, for he “proclaim[s] to [us] good news of great joy that will be for all people.”  Jesus our Savior is with us today.

 

Written & chanted by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, your glory is revealed to us this day,

and so let us offer you due praise. 

YHWH, your Son is born in our midst and so reveals your glory to us.  His light now shines in this dark world, and so men are saved from their sins.  O let us worship Him who is the very imprint of your Being! who is one with you.  You are with us this day in your Son, and what should we do but rejoice.

Glory to you, LORD and GOD, for now the feet of Jesus walk among us and peace is proclaimed to the ends of the earth; salvation is ours by the grace and truth He brings to this land.  Let all eyes behold the salvation He has wrought in our midst.  Let all souls break out in song in praise of His glory.

It is our joy to worship you, O LORD, and the only Son whom you have sent.  For you are our life; in you we are born – by you all Creation comes to be.  And now you are with us in the flesh of your Son; now your dwelling is among us.  To us this day please bring your peace.

Direct download: Midnight_Mass_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

(Is.7:10-14;   Ps.24:1-7,10;   Rm.1:1-7;   Mt.1:18-24)

 

“God is with us.”

 

How shall we “ascend the mountain of the Lord”?  How shall we scale the heights and come to know Him as He is, He who “founded [the earth] upon the seas and established it upon the rivers”?  Only by the Son, who “will save His people from their sins,” are we made ready to stand in His presence.  “For it is through the Holy Spirit this child has been conceived,” and we are made holy by the blessing of His presence among our kind.

He is one like us.  Can you believe it?  Can you understand it, understand its significance and the grace it is as a gift from God?  Joseph struggled, certainly, to believe, to understand, to accept the greatness of this gift to him and to his people.  The angel of the Lord had to come to him to convince him to receive such great grace into his life, into his home.  But he did.  He did believe, and he did fulfill his role in the coming salvation.

And, yes, what of us?  We “are called to belong to Jesus Christ… called to be holy.”  Paul answered the call from God to be His apostle and “bring about the obedience of faith”; again, what of us?  Do we answer the call to holiness?  Do we reflect that obedience?  The time is upon us now.  The great sign has been fulfilled in our midst.  Jesus has been born and stands with us now to lead us to the purity of the Father – are we prepared to make this Child our own?

What greater truth can be proclaimed than that God is with us?  What greater grace can we receive than the forgiveness of our sins, than the preparation of our hearts for heaven?  Jesus accomplishes these blessings now for all who desire to enter the presence of God, for He is the presence of God among us; He Himself is divine grace.  His mercy is upon us.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” brothers and sisters.  The power of the Lord be upon your souls.  May the “Spirit of holiness” establish you with the Son as a child of the Father.  Be of “the race that seeks for Him,” and you shall find Him present, dwelling in your homes.

 

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

 

Music: "Vision of Children" (1st part) from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, you call us to be holy;

let us indeed be as the Virgin Mother of your Son.

YHWH, you are with us now in your only Son, who has been born of the womb of the Blessed Virgin.  All the earth is yours, and now this Child comes into the world to save it from its sins, from the destruction that is upon it for having turned from you.  O let us welcome Him into our homes!

O LORD, let us belong to Jesus and so become one with you.  May your grace and peace be upon us this day and all the days of our lives.  Make us pure as His Mother that your holy mountain we might ascend and gaze upon your face with all your saints.  Obedient to your call as Joseph let us be; let us listen to the voice of your angel.

You desire us all to stand with you, but our hands must be sinless and our hearts clean.  May the Virgin Mary, she who has conceived and borne your Son, pray the Spirit upon us, that our obedience shall be like her own, and so her blessing also.  Be with us this day, dear God, and let us be with you.

Direct download: BC-121910-Su_4_Adv_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.35:1-6,10;   Ps.146:6-10,Is.35:4;   Jas.5:7-10;   Mt.11:2-11)

 

“Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

 

Hope.  What hope have we.  And so we should “be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.”  Indeed, we must endure “the early and the late rains” – having been converted to the Lord we shall be purged of all sin on the last day – but, though “hardship” be with us now, our hope should be firm in Him who comes, in Him who “is standing before the gates” even now.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the vision given Isaiah and the salvation sung of by our psalmist.  By Him, “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”  Should not He who has power over all maladies, and even death, bring us hope in the kingdom to come?  Should not our seeing these wonders wrought by Jesus instill great faith in our hearts?  Should we not even rejoice now in our suffering, knowing well that “sorrow and mourning will flee away” when He comes, that the very suffering we experience now will then be no more?  Patience.  Indeed, patience brings us hope, enables us to endure all, even joyfully.

And does Jesus not seek to encourage greater hope, greater faith in our hearts by His words about John the Baptist?  “What did you go out to the desert to see?” He asks the crowds, addressing their longing for truth, their desire for hope, and confirms that the prophet they sought was indeed greater than all “among those born of women.”  But He does not stop there.  How much farther He leads them: “The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Remarkable.  What hope have we, to be greater than the Baptist.  For the Baptist is himself a man, who himself suffers and struggles, inquiring if Jesus is “the one who is to come,” and must himself be assured by the Lord.  But in heaven no question will remain.  This desert in which we seek the Lord will come to full bloom “with abundant flowers.” 

Keep the faith in joy, brothers and sisters.  We have every reason for hope; we have firm witness of His grace, at work in us even now.

 

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

 

Music:"Hold On, Here We Go" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, come with your Word to heal our souls

that we might enter your kingdom.

YHWH, the coming of your Son is close at hand, when all your children will dance and sing for joy.  Though He has come once to open our eyes, to clear our ears, yet in some measure we remain blind and deaf, waiting for the day when your kingdom shall be fulfilled in our midst.  And so, we thank you for the release from sin Jesus has wrought, and we wait in hope for His return.  Give us the patience we so desperately need.

John was the greatest of men, the greatest of prophets, who prepared the way for your only Son, O LORD.  To this parched earth, this desert wasteland, he proclaimed a baptism of repentance that brought healing to our souls.  Yet all he has done is but a shadow when compared to the glory of the eternal kingdom to which the Christ does carry us.

Strengthen our hands, dear LORD; make firm our weak knees.  Let all sorrow and mourning flee from us as we humbly await Jesus’ return and our becoming one with you.

Direct download: BC-121210-Su_3_Adv._A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (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.

Direct download: Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe_2009.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(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.

Direct download: Immaculate_Conception_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(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. 

Direct download: BC-120510-Su_2_Adv._A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.2:1-5;   Ps.122:1-9;   Rm.13:11-14;   Mt.24:37-44)

 

“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that He may instruct us in His ways,

and we may walk in His paths.”

 

“Beat [your] swords into plowshares.”  “Throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep,” and to “stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”  And even now He calls you to “go up to the house of the Lord” and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Advent has come, and so we are reminded of the Lord’s coming and our need to be prepared.  He will not come in vain, and will not accept any vanity into His kingdom.  His is a kingdom of light into which no darkness enters.  His is a place of peace where “rivalry and jealousy” and all “the desires of the flesh” find no provision.

If in the days of Noah they were blind to the time of their visitation, and so “the flood came and carried them away,” how can it be the same with us, who have the first coming of Christ in the manger and on the cross to stir us to wakefulness?  If we live now as in the days of Sodom, how much greater will be our punishment?  If we allow our house to be “broken into” though we have His voice calling to our hearts, what could make us think that He will take us with Him when He comes again?

It is indeed time to wake from the sleep of sin and “stream toward… the Lord’s mountain.”  There we shall rejoice in His grace as His “relatives and friends”; there we shall find the light of His teaching.  “For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” and it shall fill the earth with holiness.

The Lord has been born in our midst.  The Word has been made flesh and walked among us.  Now we are called to become like Him, to walk in His ways of peace.  And so when He returns at the end of time, we will be prepared to “set foot within [the] gates” of His kingdom.

 

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

 

Music: "Can We Go Together?" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us walk in the light of your Son

until He comes.

YHWH, let us go up to your House, where we shall find our peace, where we shall find the instruction we need to leave behind all deeds of darkness and enter into your holy light.  When your Son returns for us, let us be awake and ready to welcome Him, and He will welcome us into your kingdom.

O LORD, let all the nations come to your holy mountain, to the place of wisdom and peace, that all weapons of destruction might be themselves destroyed and war might be no more.  Let not any nation raise the sword against another, and let no man fall again into sin.  Let us be trained for peace, not war; purity, not lust.

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that it shall extend to the ends of the earth.  In this time let it come and dispel all rivalry and jealousy, all the works of the flesh.  Your Spirit reign upon us, O LORD; let your Son come to carry us to you.

Direct download: BC-112810-Su_1_Adv._A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Rm.10:9-18;   Ps.19:2-5;   Mt.4:18-22)

 

“How beautiful are the feet of those who announce good news!”

 

Alleluia!

We must have “faith in the heart” and “confess with [our] lips that Jesus is Lord”; but how can we believe in Him and call on Him if we have not heard of Him?  “And how can [we] hear unless there is someone to preach?  And how can men preach unless they are sent?”  Thank the Lord that He has sent the apostles out to the ends of the earth, that “their voice has sounded over the whole earth.”  Where would we be without them?

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus says to His first apostles, two brothers.  And two brothers Jesus chooses after them, as if He is looking for brothers to call to emphasize our solidarity with Him and with one another.  Indeed, we are family in the Lord.  We are His mother and His brothers.  David’s psalm today speaks of Him who would be called his Son, and illustrates the work of His brothers to come.  All are one in Him, through time, through space… for He who is the beginning and end truly becomes our brother.

I thank God today for Andrew and his brother Peter, their brothers James and John, and all brothers and sisters in the Lord.  I thank God especially for their answering His call, their readiness to respond.  “They immediately abandoned their nets and became His followers.”  And so strong in the Lord they would become.  And so clearly their words would be spoken of Him who is risen from the dead, of Him in whom our hearts trust – of Him of whom we now speak.

A joy fills me this day, and should fill us all, for the beauty of the apostles and of their call.  For now our ears ring with the love of our Jesus, the truth of the ages.  Now through these faithful disciples we have heard “the word of Christ” and find it abiding in our souls.  Let us open our mouths and proclaim Him Lord of all!

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us follow where the apostles lead,

for they follow in our Savior’s footsteps. 

YHWH, help us to abandon our hearts, to leave our moorings in this world that we might follow your Son, that He might lead us to the shores of Heaven.  And help us to preach as your apostles have preached, to speak of your salvation to all men, that indeed the message of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth and all souls come to believe.

O LORD, Jesus has been raised from the dead – let us believe in our hearts that He lives now and confess with our lips that He is Lord, and by our faith we shall be saved and bring others to redemption.  The voice of your apostles has indeed gone out to the limits of the world; all peoples are now blessed to hear your Word and so are given the opportunity to believe.  May all souls turn resolutely to your Son and follow Him in His way.

On the shores of Galilee first came the call from the mouth of Jesus.  May He speak to our hearts, LORD, even this day, that we might leave all for your kingdom.

Direct download: Nov._30_-_St._Andrew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(2Sm.5:1-3;   Ps.122:1-5;   Col.1:12-20;   Lk.23:35-43)

 

“This is the King of the Jews.”

 

On earth, our King rules from a cross; in Paradise, upon a glorious throne.  O Lord Jesus, “here we are, your bone and your flesh.”  May we die with you that we might reign with you in your holy kingdom.

“All the tribes of Israel came to David” and anointed him king of Israel.  He had been called by the Lord as shepherd and commander of Israel, and now he would finally receive his kingship.  And he would make Jerusalem the city of the king, and make it holy when he brought the ark of the covenant within its walls.  And so, here on earth David reigned, as God’s anointed.  And so Jerusalem becomes the place of worship, within whose gates all rejoice to set foot.  And there “are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.”

And so Jesus is called the Son of David, for He inherits this earthly kingdom blessed by God, anointed anew to reign from Jerusalem.  But, of course, His kingdom is more than that of the flesh, for it is His own flesh that makes it holy – He is the Temple not made by human hands, through whom all things blessed of the earth and of heaven came to find their being: “In Him were created all things in heaven and on earth.”  He indeed is the beginning of all things and the fullness, or the end, of all things; nothing, and in particular the Church, exists apart from Him.

And to what heavenly rule are we all thus called by His “making peace by the blood of His cross.”  By His sacrifice we shall indeed be saved; He will remember us when He comes into His Kingdom.  And there shall be true rejoicing, for there the cross shall be borne no more.  Having consumed all our sins and the darkness and death of this life, it shall be transformed into the throne of glory.

 Even now the Lord calls to us from the cross; even now His suffering beckons us.  Even now we must turn to Him, our King, in our sin and let Him take our corrupted flesh and bone upon Himself to find the blessed reconciliation of our souls in the hand of God.  As His forgiveness pours upon us in His blood, we come to the fullness of His heavenly kingdom and “share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.”  Long live our King, who dies upon a cross.

 

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

 

Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (first part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, Jesus is our bone and our flesh – 

may He be our King! 

YHWH, your Son is King of the Jews – let us come with Him into Paradise, where He reigns forever. 

By the blood of Jesus’ Cross all in Heaven and on earth are made one, are reconciled to you, O God and Father of all the redeemed.  Through Him all things were made and through Him all are saved.  May we all come to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light. 

David ruled from the holy city of Jerusalem; all Israel came to him to make him king.  He was a man after your own heart because he sought your will in all things.  But it is Jesus, your Son, He who is called Son of David for His eternal reign over Israel, over all those who strive to do your will – it is He who is and has always been true King of all Creation.  To Him let us call out; in Him let us make our eternal home.

Direct download: BC-112413-Christ_the_King_Sun._C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Mal.3:19-20;   Ps.98:5-9;   2Thes.3:7-12;   Lk.21:5-19)

 

“For you who fear my name,

there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

 

The end comes.  The end of the Church year approaches, and the end of time is always upon us.  What shall it mean for us, the fact that “there will not be left a stone upon another stone”?  That day comes “blazing like an oven” for all evildoers, but for the just the healing rays of the Son of God shine down – will we be burned with the proud like stubble, or made whole in the presence of God?

Yes, “He comes to rule the earth; He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.”  He is just and so He cannot but judge with justice.  How shall we prepare for His coming?  What do we do as we wait?  Paul gives us wise instruction, simple instruction, which should be simply heeded: “Work quietly.”  It is not for us to be anxious or afraid; it is not for us to fall into disorder or become lazy… it is but for us to remain occupied with the work of God, however simple, however wonderful, that working be.  We may be as St. Theresa and her little way, giving ourselves to the Lord in the simple tasks we perform day to day; or we may be as the missionaries for whom she prayed, going out to the ends of the earth, handed over to “synagogues and to prisons,” being “led before kings and governors” to give witness to the name of Christ – “and they will put some of you to death” – but to whatever we are called, always it must be the Lord and His Spirit which are at work in us, helping us to persevere to the end.  Not all shall die in the cause, but all must remain faithful to His voice.

Brothers and sisters, sometimes it is the hardest thing simply to go on day to day.  Regardless of our situation, we can become distracted and, failing to find the wisdom of Christ, seek to “prepare [our] defense beforehand,” to put the words of the Lord into our own mouths – to decide for ourselves what the Lord would have us do.  It is the simplest thing to accept His will, to bask in the rays of His glory… and yet so anxious do we become in our waiting that we cannot hear His still, small voice speaking to our hearts.  We must persevere.  We must go on.  We must listen.  He is coming, and if we fear His holy Name, we shall have nothing else to fear: we shall be made whole.

 

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

 

Music: "The End of the World Courses through a Day" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us do your work now on this plane

that we might rejoice in your coming Day.

YHWH, help us to persevere until the Day of your Son’s return; that Day is at hand, we know – let us be ready for its purging fire.

And as we stand yet on this earth, let us be ever willing to do your work, to give witness to you and to your Son even with our own lives.  Our lives are nothing apart from His sacrifice, and so, O LORD, let us lay them down freely in any way you call.

Give us words to speak to those who accuse us unjustly; put your testimony in our hearts and in our mouths.  Your Spirit be with us to guide us in all things, that in all things we might act with wisdom.  We shall not fear the destruction of this world, dear LORD, if Jesus remains always at our side. 

Come now with your justice, O God, and let us forever praise your NAME.  Your holy will be done even this day.

Direct download: BC-111713-Su_33_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(2Mac.7:1-2,9-14;   Ps.17:1,5-6,8,15;   2Thes.2:16-3:5;   Lk.20:27-38)

 

“On waking I shall be content in your presence.”

 

Our hope is in the resurrection, brothers and sisters.  It is this which gives us strength, and it is our endurance which brings us to His presence.

Brothers and sisters, indeed, as Paul wishes us, we have “everlasting encouragement and good hope” through the grace of our Lord.  He strengthens our hearts “in every good deed and word” and guards us “from the evil one.”  Thus our hearts should be directed “to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.”

We have as our example today these seven brothers spoken of in the Second Book of Maccabees, who showed the endurance of Christ and their faith in the resurrection to life despite the severity of their torture at the hands of the wicked of this world – and all this before the coming of Christ into the world and the great graces He has since imparted to His Church.  If they could die so for the law alone, to what deeds should we not be able to attain?  If in the presence of their torturers they could state with such confidence, “The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever,” what should we not be able to declare in the name of Him who has now been raised from the dead and ascended to glory?  If they were so well able to regard their suffering “as nothing,” how much easier should be our own sacrifice, we who stand “in the shadow” of His cross and have His wounds in which to take refuge?  Indeed, such greater reason have we to hold to “the hope God gives of being raised up by Him.”

“That the dead will rise” there should be no doubt in our hearts.  The fact that “to Him all are alive” should be firmly fixed as a peg in the deepest recesses of our souls.  Certainly, this is who we are, children of the resurrection, with the calling to come to Christ, He who has been raised to life.  I pray we shall all be “deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead.”  Children of God, may we be like angels in His presence when we rise.  May our minds not be darkened by the night upon this earth, but let our hope be fixed on the coming morning and our faith strengthen us to endure until we stand with Him on that new day.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, give us the courage to believe 

we shall rise with your Son.

YHWH, keep us steadfast in your paths that soon we might come to your heavenly kingdom; let us be ready to die for you, that we might be raised to glory.

If the seven brothers spoken of in Maccabees could so readily give their lives, could so courageously face the cruel torture imposed upon them by the devil, what faith should we not have, dear LORD, we who have your only Son now at our side and your Holy Spirit to open our eyes?  Do we not even now look upon your face; are the glimpses we gain today not so much greater than then?

How strong we should be in walking your way, LORD, we to whom the resurrection has been spoken of so clearly.  We whom your Son has told in no uncertain terms that the just shall rise from the dead and be like the angels of Heaven should have no doubt remaining in our hearts and no fear of proclaiming Jesus as God.  O help us to endure with joy even to the Day of His coming!

Direct download: BC-111013-Su_32_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Ez.47:1-2,8-9,12;   Ps.46:1-3,5-6,8-9;   1Cor.3:9c-11,16-17;   Jn.2:13-22)

 

“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.”

 

On this the feast set aside to commemorate the cathedral of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, himself the founding stone upon which Christ builds His Church, we hear much of temples.  In our first reading Ezekial sees in his vision, “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple,” water which brings life to the great sea and the fruit that grows upon its banks; the water that gladdens the holy dwelling of the Most High is spoken of in our psalm; Paul tells us we are “the temple of God,” “God’s building”; and zeal for the Father’s house consumes the Lord, and so He purges it with whip in hand in our gospel today.  But perhaps the most revelatory statement is, “He was speaking of the temple of His body,” also from our gospel, and noted as explanation of Jesus’ challenge to the Jews to destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days.  This essential truth of the nature of the temple is substantiated by Paul’s teaching of the care needed by those who build within the Church: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”  Though he then goes on to say that we are the temple of God, wrought in all holiness, and though this is an equal truth, yet neither this truth, nor that which holds Peter as the founding “rock” of this Temple in which we dwell, have any basis without the essential understanding that Jesus is at the very heart of all our worship, of the Church we are.  The Lord has indeed wrought “astounding things… on earth.”  He has made us as those trees along the banks of His river of life, bearing His fruit each month for the benefit of the world.  He has made us His holy dwelling place and placed His Spirit upon us for the building up of His kingdom…  But all of this has its source in the water of life itself, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our Church this day and the glorious blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as His temple, as His children, let us not forget our Savior who has been the cause of and continues to be the cause of our joy.  Let us be washed in the water from His side and be built up in His Body and His Blood.  May we have His same zeal for the Father’s House.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, purify this temple, destroyed by sin;

let us truly be your House, dear God. 

YHWH, you are with us in the midst of your Church, your Son the very foundation of this Temple.  And He is the Temple itself, we His very Body; and so, how holy we should be.  Indeed, we should be as holy as you, our Most High God, as perfect as your only Son.

It is Jesus’ blood and the water flowing from His side that washes us clean and nourishes the growth of His holy Church.  The waters of this River gladden the hearts of all who dwell in your House, O LORD.  Upon the banks of this River let us ever remain, bearing fruit each month, each day, each hour, in your holy NAME.

Beneath the Cross let us make our home, O holy LORD and God.  Here alone in the shadow of Jesus’ arms will we be made whole, will our temple be cleansed and we become your house of prayer.  May the zeal of the Christ chastise our hearts and prepare them for your kingdom.  May we be raised with Him on His Day and remain in your presence forever. 

Direct download: St._John_Lateran_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Wis.11:22-12:2;   Ps.145:1-2,8-11,13-14;   2Thes.1:11-2:2;   Lk.19:1-10)

 

“The Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.”

 

How beautifully the readings speak today of our “Lord and lover of souls” whose “imperishable spirit is in all things” and who is “good to all and compassionate to all His works.”  It is indeed “in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ” that we be glorified in Him and He in us, and so we praise Him: “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.”

The Lord “love[s] all things that are”; all is made by Him, so how could He but love all.  Though to Him “the whole universe is as… a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth,” He loves it all with a most personal affection, shown in the grace-filled coming of His Son among us.  And why has this Son come but to forgive?  Why has He walked the earth but to call men back to their place in the loving heart of the Father?  Why has He come but to show the Father’s loving mercy?

And appropriate is Paul’s warning “not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly” in fear of the Lord’s imminent return in judgment.  Here is remedy against all the false prophets predicting the sudden end of this universe God has created, as if they could move His hand, as if they could know His mind.  Whence does this come but the same grumbling of the people when Jesus moved to go in to sup with Zacchaeus, the famous sinner?  Whence does this come but a failure to understand the Lord’s wisdom and love and manner of working in the world, failing to see that what the Lord does is “rebuke sinners little by little, warn[ing] them and remind[ing] them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in [Him]”?

It is evident that the majority in the crowd would have preferred, in fact, rejoiced in seeing, Zacchaeus’ utter destruction.  They expected the Lord’s punishment on this sinner, and desired it to come immediately.  Why?  Again, they knew not God’s love or the Lord’s purpose.  Why?  Even more to the point: they were sinners themselves who failed to recognize their sin and realize their own need for mercy – and so had neither the Lord’s patience, nor His love.

How well that loving forgiveness is illustrated in our gospel; how like the parable of the Prodigal Son.  As the son returns to the father, Zacchaeus goes ahead and climbs the tree.  As the father sees the son from far off and goes to him, so Jesus spies Zacchaeus in the tree and calls to him.  As the father’s generous love sparks the son’s complete repentance, so Jesus’ acceptance of Zacchaeus brings salvation to his house, shown in his generous penance.  I pray we all seek the Lord who seeks for us and act as Zacchaeus, who “came down quickly and received Him with joy,” as the Lord freely offers His love and forgiveness to our souls.  Praise Him for His kindness!

 

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

 

Music: "Save the Children" (first half) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, our stature before you

 has been diminished by sin,

but your Son comes to raise us to Heaven.

YHWH, how compassionate you are toward all your creatures, desiring the repentance of all in whom your imperishable Spirit dwells that they might not die but turn to you and live.  And so you have sent your Son to seek and save the lost.  And so we should praise you for your greatness. 

You have indeed made all things, and man in your image and likeness.  And so you cannot but look upon us with pity as we distort your blessed image by sin; and so, little by little you rebuke us, LORD, reminding us of our sin that we might abandon our wickedness and believe in you. 

You are our God and King, faithful and holy in all your works, but we are weak and prone to stray from your grace.  So in your kindness you bow down to lift us up, we who are falling, that we might look upon your face, that in glory we might dwell with your only Son… that your salvation might come even to the house of the worst sinner.

Direct download: BC-110313-Su_31_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Wis.3:1-9;   Ps.23:1-6;   1Cor.15:51-57;   Jn.6:37-40

Note: there are any number of readings possible for this day)

 

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God,

and no torment shall touch them.”

 

Is this not what it means to be a Christian?  To have faith in the resurrection from the dead.  To believe that after our time of trial there shall be peace, that we shall be refined by the hand of God to stand in His presence, to share in His kingship.  “Grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.”  This is our faith.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  And so we have no fear.  The Lord watches over us and guides our path, and in His blessing we take refuge, knowing we shall come to be with Him, knowing He is with us even this day, knowing even death we shall conquer in His Name.  “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”  Nothing shall remove us from His presence.  “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.”  Indeed, though all die, all shall come to life.  None can remain as they are; all must be changed.  All that is mortal must take on immortality, and in this immortality, in this incorruptibility we gain, death is swallowed up – it is no more.  “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  It is an eternal victory.

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me.”  It cannot be that the Father’s will not be done.  Jesus awaits us with open arms.  He has gone before us, He has prepared a place for us, and we must but come to Him as drawn by the will of the Father.  “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise Him up on the last day.”  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Death is not our realm, brothers and sisters.  Though it comes to us all, it is but a passageway into Heaven, it is but the Lord’s means of preparing us for the kingdom.  And so, whether we experience it today or tomorrow or yesterday is of no consequence.  It is there.  It shall come to us all.  But all who believe are preserved from its clutches and drawn into the life the Father offers.  Let us pray this day for all holy souls to come by the Son into the hands of the Father.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, help us find victory over death in Jesus,

your Son, and so come to dwell with you forever. 

YHWH, though we walk through the dark valley, we fear no evil – for you are at our side.  Though death close its mouth upon us, we remain courageous, for your Son has given us victory over sin and death by His sacrifice on the Cross; and as we take refuge in Him, we are raised to dwell with you in eternal life.  Let all souls be raised to your side with Him!

Where in this world can we turn where there is not sin, where there is not darkness, where there is not death?  O LORD, it is so, that this world is clothed with corruption, with mortality.  All is now doomed to die for the sin that besets Creation.  But where does the grace of your Son not penetrate?  To whom would He not bring new life?  And what need we but faith in Him to find that life dwelling in us even this day?

Soon the end will come – the end of sin and the end of death.  Let us not die with death, LORD, but find the victory you desire to impart to all souls through your Son.  May your goodness and kindness follow us all our days and lead us to your eternal kingdom.  May all who have died be at your side.

Direct download: All_Souls_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Rv.7:2-4,9-14;   Ps.24:1-6;   1Jn.3:1-3;   Mt.5:1-12)

 

“Everyone who has this hope based on Him

makes himself pure, as He is pure.”

 

All our readings speak of this purity this holy day.  In the first reading we hear of the saints who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Our psalm tells us it is “one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” who stands in God’s presence.  The above quote is from our second reading, and Jesus tells us in our gospel, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”  Indeed, this purity of heart is the essential characteristic possessed by all the saints in heaven; and so we must strive to achieve it.

I note a striking parallel particularly between our first reading from Revelation and David’s psalm: the reading begins with the image of the four angels (at the four corners of the universe) being prevented from their call “to damage the land and the sea” until the seal of God is placed upon the foreheads of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand [symbolizing absolute fullness in number] marked from every tribe of Israel”; and our psalm begins by proclaiming, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.”  The reading continues with John’s “vision of a great multitude” who “stood before the throne and the Lamb” in their white robes; while, as it continues, our psalm tells us that only the pure of heart “can ascend the mountain of the Lord” or “stand in His holy place.”  Then the reading from Revelation cries out, “Salvation comes from our God” and exclaims of the blessings upon the Lord and so His faithful; and David’s psalm concludes that it is he who seeks Him who “shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior.”

What does all this tell us but what John states quite simply in his letter, our second reading: “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” and that when “what we shall be… is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  Yes, we are anointed by Him as His own creation and shall come to stand in His presence with all the angels and saints, proclaiming the blessing He is and the salvation He has provided us.

And in our gospel Jesus climbs the mountain and sits and teaches those who gather around Him.  And how blessed are these eyes that see Him!  How blessed are these ears that hear Him!  And how blessed are we, too, insofar as we hear Him this holy day as He calls to our hearts to have faith in Him and in the kingdom of heaven, to set our hearts on the hope of which He speaks.  And blessed are we most when we suffer insult and persecution for the sake of the Lord, for by this we are purified, and through this “our reward will be great in heaven.”  For we must die in Him before we rise in Him with all the saints in glory.

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be made pure as you are pure,

as your saints have been made pure

in the blood of the Lamb. 

YHWH, let us seek you with all our hearts, that we may find you and share in your glory with all the saints in Heaven.  Help us to wash our robes clean, that they may be white, that we may be pure and so able to stand in your light.  Make us your children, O LORD, blessed to dwell in your sight forever.

If we must be purified by persecution in this world, what should that matter to us, LORD; why should that cause us concern?  We should rejoice in this blessing even as we rejoice in the blessing of Heaven, for does not one lead to the other – do we not find Heaven even here, even now, in our suffering with your Son?  But give us your love, LORD, and all shall be cause for celebration for us.

O how we long to worship you in your kingdom, LORD!  How we long to bow before your throne with all your angels and saints.  How we long to sing your praise with them.  Let it be so, LORD.  Let it be so even this day in our souls.

Direct download: All_Saints_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Eph.2:19-22;   Ps.19:2-5;   Lk.6:12-16)

 

“You are fellow citizens with the saints

and members of the household of God.”

 

And whom is this building founded upon but our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the cornerstone by which the apostles and prophets are set in place, and we are built upon this firm foundation, all integrated as one “holy temple in the Lord.”  This Church is “the dwelling place for God in the Spirit.”  Alleluia!

Oh that blessed night Jesus spent “in communion with God”!  Praise God for the mountain on which He prayed!  For that night, in that place, in these prayers was conceived the foundation stones of His holy temple: in the Spirit that night the essential structure of the Church was given birth in the names of these poor apostles, these simple human beings.

And at daybreak He called them forth by name.  Upon them His favor rested.  And though one “turned traitor” and had to be replaced, yet here are the pillars on which the Church rests.  And to this day their descendants, their blessed successors remain with us, holding up the Church despite their frailties – yes, the power of the Spirit continues to go forth from their call.  “Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.”  Nothing can stem the passage of this Word to the ends of the earth, for it is founded in the silent communion with God.

Who can touch this silence?  Who can tear down this oneness in the presence of God?  No one can hold the wind in his hands and no one can restrain the power of the Spirit.  It indeed goes forth.  Yes, “the whole structure” continues to be “fitted together” in the Lord’s Name, and no persecution can stop its growth, can prevent its inevitable coming to fullness in the eternity of heaven.  And so, let us thank God for His blessed apostles and prophets and martyrs today.  Let us pray we shall be found worthy to be one with them in the House they build.  And let us come to know the Lord even more, who is at the heart of us all.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be built into your House

with all your holy apostles. 

YHWH, let us become your dwelling place; let us make our home in your Spirit as you make your home in us.  Let us be firmly founded in your apostles with Jesus as our cornerstone.  Then through us, too, your Word will go out to the ends of the earth.  Then we will be one with your apostles.

Into your household let us be built, O LORD, with all your saints in Heaven.  Let Heaven and earth declare your glory – truly let us be your handiwork.  As your Son chose the Twelve by your hand upon Him, so let us be chosen and formed in their image to serve you faithfully in this land, to make this land as your kingdom.

Let our words not be spoken in vain, LORD, our prayers not fall short of your glory; let us rather speak only in the Spirit that your light we might bring to this place.  Though our cause seem hopeless, though darkness beset us, yet let us look to you and find refuge in the prayers of your apostles, of all the holy ones in your Temple.

Direct download: Sts_Simon_and_Jude_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Sir.35:12-14,16-18; Ps.34:2-3,7,17-19,23; 2Tm.4:6-8,16-18; Lk.18:9-14)

 

“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

 

“The one who humbles himself will be exalted,” for it is the lowly the LORD hears.  And in no greater way, and for no greater benefit, do we humble ourselves than to recognize our sinfulness before God.  It is then we prove ourselves His own, for it is then Truth is with us.

We must guard ourselves ever from the sin of pride, brothers and sisters; it is just such presumption that breaks down the spiritual life, for it separates us from our proper place before our Lord and God.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted”; “He hears the cry of the oppressed.”  He does not come to heal those who are well, nor does He respond to the prayer of the oppressor; and our life on this earth is one of continual healing, and whenever we judge another we condemn our souls.

“May it not be held against them!” is Paul’s prayer for his unjust accusers and those who have deserted him.  (How like Christ’s prayer from the cross it is!)  He is crushed before the courts of this world and yet does not judge, and yet does not condemn.  For he is the servant of the Lord and shows himself faithful to such a call.  Even as he is “poured out like a libation,” he remains faithful, unwavering in his hope of standing before and being redeemed by “the just judge.”  He knows fully that “the Lord redeems the lives of His servants” and that “He who serves God willingly is heard,” and so he humbles himself when accused, trusting that “the Lord will rescue [him] from every evil threat and will bring [him] safe to His heavenly kingdom.”

Yes, “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.”  How blessed are they who know their humble place before the Lord, for He hears them and comes quickly to rescue them when they cry out to Him in all their humility.  And of course our greatest rescue must be from sin, that which has made us base before His eyes.  To its recognition and for its overcoming by the Lord’s grace we must dedicate ourselves every day of our lives.  And so we cry out for forgiveness.  And so we return to our homes justified.

 

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

 

Music: "This World of Sin" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, you are the just Judge –

hear our cry and save us from oppression. 

YHWH, those who take refuge in you are saved from every evil; those who call out to you are heard and redeemed.  Those who are humble before you, you exalt to the heavens, but those who are proud condemn themselves. 

What hope have we but you, O LORD, we poor sinners who so soon shall die?  What more can we do than spend our lives for you – in this there is great grace through all our days, and a crown of righteousness in the end.  Thus we who are nothing, who would come to nothing without your mercy, may reach even unto your throne, O Most High God.  For you indeed hear the cry of the poor; the just petition of a broken heart you cannot resist. 

As widows and orphans we walk the face of this dark earth; as slaves in bonds we look for freedom.  Come and wed us to yourself, O Father in Heaven, and we shall enter your House justified.

Direct download: BC-102713-Su_30_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Ex.17:8-13;   Ps.121:1-8;   2Tm.3:14-4:2;   Lk.18:1-8) 

“Call out to Him day and night.”

How faithful is the Lord.  How true is He.  As our psalmist so well states, “He neither slumbers nor sleeps.”  Indeed, “He is beside [us] at [our] right hand”; always “the Lord will guard [us] from all evil” – “The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.”  But are we so faithful to Him, turning to Him for His eternal help?

“Pray always without becoming weary.”  This is our instruction today.  This is the “wisdom for salvation” sacred Scripture brings us.  Do we receive the “correction” and “training for righteousness” it would impart?  Do as Jesus asks: “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.”  Though he “neither fear[s] God nor respect[s] any human being,” yet because of the widow’s persistence, he renders a just decision for her.  And do you think God will not hear and answer us when we call out to Him?  Do you think He is so “slow to answer”?  Rather, “He will see to it that justice is done… speedily,” for ever He waits for us to turn to Him; always He longs to do justice for us – it is His great joy to answer our prayers.

Learn from our reading from the Book of Exodus.  It informs us, “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.”  And it was not until Aaron and Hur supported him and “his hands remained steady till sunset” that “Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”  And so the sword of the Spirit shall not truly be our own, we will not truly be victorious in the battle against sin, until we remain always in the presence of the Lord, until we, like Him, no longer slumber or sleep.

Brothers and sisters, “proclaim the Word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient,” as Paul exhorts us.  In sacred Scripture and the power of the Spirit we find our source for right living; by it we become “equipped for every good work.”  And consistently good works are found by us only if our prayer is consistent and good.  Only if we remain steady and persistent in our calling out to Him at all times will He “not suffer [our] foot to slip.”  Let us “lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains,” seeing always whence our help comes.  The Lord prays for us always; let us join Him in prayer.

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

Music: "Over the Stumbling Block" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may you find faith in our hearts,

and perseverance in doing your will.

YHWH, we must but be persistent, persistent in our prayer and in our work for you, and we shall find your blessing – all our enemies will be conquered and we will dwell forever with you.

We look to you, O LORD, for you alone are our strength and our salvation, you alone guard us from all evil and equip us well for battle.  In you and in your Word we take our refuge, and so we find the wisdom we need to attain to your glory.  Quickly you come to answer our pleas, for your heart is ever set on our salvation.

O may your arms be ever raised to bless us!  May your love for us remain always steady, and we remain steady with you.  Let us not grow weary in the battle of earthly life but continually find our inspiration in you, always ready to do your will.  Hear us as we call upon you this day, O LORD, and justice shall be ours.

Direct download: BC-102013-Su_29_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(2Tm.4:9-17;   Ps.145:10-13,17-18;   Lk.10:1-9)

 

“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,

so that through me the preaching task might be completed

and all the nations might hear the Gospel.”

 

As I read of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples as He “sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit,” and particularly His words to them to “eat what they set before you,” I am reminded of the command given Peter in his dream to “take and eat” of the unclean animals (Acts 10:13), this just before the first Gentile converts came to him seeking the Word of God.  And, of course, similar terminology is present in Jesus’ sending his workers as if into a harvest: in this case, the Lord shall eat of the feast the disciples are sent forth to prepare.

We know our work is our food, that the labor the Lord imparts to us serves as our daily bread.  And we know that the wheat that becomes His precious Body and the Word that is cultivated by His apostles, by His preachers and prophets, is the food that sustains us, that strengthens us for our daily tasks.  All we do must be blessed by Him and be, as it were, a “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” and His kingdom, which is “a kingdom for all ages,” and His dominion, which “endures through all generations,” shall become known in our midst.

It is not easy to eat of this food, to drink of this cup.  We see how alone Paul finds himself in our first reading.  “Everyone abandoned me,” he declares in reference to his trial before the courts of this world.  He pleads with Timothy to join him soon, for many have left his side: “I have no one with me but Luke.”  Indeed, he has nothing but the Word of God.  And most apparent in the Lord’s instruction to His disciples is the utter reliance on God we must find.  Impoverished He sends them forth, dependent only on their preaching and healing to feed themselves.  Yes, He sends them forth “as lambs in the midst of wolves.”  Not a happy prospect.  But they have the Word of the Lord to make them strong and protect them from all evil of this world, and nothing could be more sure than this.

Into so many homes Luke’s gospel has come, bringing its peace to all who abide in the Lord.  The proclamation by this great evangelist that “the reign of God is at hand” comes to our hearts even this day.  Let us make room for this Word within ourselves and it shall feed us on our journey to the kingdom, and by its grace we shall complete our work on this earth.  May the word of the Lord go ever forth.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, send forth your laborers

to declare the glory of your kingdom to all nations. 

YHWH, send forth workers into your harvest, that all might hear your Word preached to their souls and find your peace in their hearts.  Your reign be upon us this day.

O LORD, your kingdom endures through all generations; to your glory there is no end.  O let us share in your holiness, let us share in your glory! and let us share your glory with all souls on the face of this earth.  Though we must stand alone as has Paul, though we might be rejected by those to whom we come, yet let us be faithful to your Word and with great strength and confidence accomplish your will.

You are our strength, O LORD, and you are our peace; send us forth in your Name to preach and to heal.  Let your kingdom come into our midst through your blessed disciples, who speak only of your glory, who find refuge in your might.  Nothing do we need if we have you, LORD.  Please stand at our side.

Direct download: St._Luke_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(2Kgs.5:14-17;   Ps.98:1-4;   2Tm.2:8-13;   Lk.17:11-19)

 

“All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation by our God.”

 

“The word of God is not chained.”  It cannot be imprisoned.  It is free.  And it cannot be limited by national boundaries; it is for everyone.  The universal call of salvation is made most clear in our readings today: in our first reading, Naaman the Syrian is healed of his leprosy, and in our gospel a Samaritan is healed of the same.  Both are foreigners and essentially enemies to Israel, but it is these two we hear of today to make clear that the Word of God and His power are unbounded.

And when these foreigners are healed, they return praising God; they make clear their faith in the Holy One, much to the shame of those who are native to His House, who may often lack such recognition of the Lord and His work in their lives.  This is perhaps the greatest message of today’s readings, that we must be as the Samaritan who, “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice, and… fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.”  For this is what the Lord desires of us, thanksgiving, a sacrifice of praise.  How clearly this is shown in Naaman as well, whose offerings of gifts are repelled by Elisha, the man of God, “despite Naaman’s urging,” but who will not leave without earth from the land of Israel, declaring, “I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except the Lord.”  The Lord desires of us our praise and worship of Him only, and when we come bearing this gift of ourselves, He says to us, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

And it is unto the end we must remain faithful, praising God for the graces He gives, if we hope to “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.”  We should hear in Paul’s teaching in our second reading of the means to salvation and the means to condemnation.  The Lord “remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  He is God; He holds salvation and glory.  If we persevere with Him, dying with Him, giving all our selves always to His service, “we shall also reign with Him.”  It cannot be otherwise because the Lord indeed blesses those who come to Him.  But “if we deny Him, He will deny us,” and this cannot but be, too, for He cannot dwell with untruth.

The Lord’s Truth extends to the ends of the earth now; His Word goes forth to all, and in all salvation may be known through Jesus Christ.  But who will trust in Him and fall at His feet in praise of Him as they find healing for their sin?  Let it be so with us all.

 

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

 

Music: "The Numeric Truth" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. 

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O LORD, let us give you thanks and praise you

for your healing mercy.

 YHWH, it is by faith alone we are saved, and all souls are called to faith in you; and any soul with faith you will accept into your fold.  To all the ends of the earth your salvation is revealed – may men come from every land and every tongue to worship you alone.

O LORD, let us not be weak in faith; let us not be put to shame by the great devotion shown to you by those who have been foreigners to your Word.  Let us join them at the feet of your Son and give thanks for the grace and healing you shower upon us by His presence.

There is so much of which we need to be healed.  How shall we lose our blindness to your glory shining all around us?  When will we cease taking you for granted, and so hardening our hearts in a vain pride?  Your wondrous deeds are upon us, LORD; your Word is preached to all mankind.  O let us respond in faith and humbly worship you! 

Direct download: BC-101313-Su_28_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Hb.1:2-3,2:2-4;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   2Tm.1:6-8,13-14;   Lk.17:5-10)

 

“The vision still has its time,

presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.”

 

And we are servants of this Gospel.

And so, with faith and in patience we must accomplish “what we [are] obliged to do.”  We must serve the Word of God.  Never hardening our hearts against the voice we hear, rather, we should “stir into flame the gift of God” we are blessed with as Christians, as Catholics; “the Holy Spirit that dwells within us” should be our refuge and our guide – it should be our stronghold despite any “destruction and violence” we witness before us.  For we know that if we endure till the end, till the fulfillment of the vision of the Gospel, though we deserve it not, the Lord will call to us when we “come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field and say, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table.’”  Indeed, He has promised in His mercy and His glorious benevolence to put on His apron and serve us, His “unprofitable servants,” at table in the eternal kingdom.  But have we the faith to believe?  Have we the patience to endure?  Listen to His assuring words: “Wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”  His Word is certainly true and the vision written “clearly upon the tablets” of our hearts, if we believe.

And we show our faith when we “sing joyfully to the Lord,” when we “bow down in worship” before Him in spite of any “clamorous discord” that surrounds us in this world.  In such praise in the face of the darkness of evil we bear “hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”  Yes, He alone is our strength; it is from Him alone that we find the faith and patience to endure and produce fruit upon this earth.  So, “let us kneel before the Lord who made us.  For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds.”  Though we cry out, “How long, O Lord?” with the prophet Habbakuk, we know that if we listen to the instructions of the Apostle Paul to “take as [our] norm the sound words [we] heard from [him],” “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” we shall endure, and we shall find answer to our prayer.

The vision is coming to fulfillment.  The Lord of all is with us now.  Let us “not be ashamed of [our] testimony to our Lord,” but proclaim with courage the word the Spirit prompts in our hearts – Jesus is Lord!  Let us say it.  Let us not be afraid of it or its consequences.  Let the truth of God cross our lips even as it stirs the faith within us.  Jesus is Lord, and His Kingdom comes.  Do not delay your service of Him.

 

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

 

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

 

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O LORD, help us bear the hardship of the Gospel

that we might look upon your face.

YHWH, you call us each day to love and to serve you that we might know your love in our hearts even this day.  It is our great grace and blessing to do your will, for then we share in your glory, in your presence among us today.

If we had but faith, O LORD, what is there we could not do in your Name?  If with patience we waited for your coming, we would know how near you are.  Help us to fan into flame the gift of your Spirit that makes us strong in holiness.  O let us accomplish all you command, never turning our faces away!

We have seen your works; we have done your works.  We have spoken the Word you have placed in our hearts and on our lips.  Let us not now doubt that you are God or think that any power of this earth holds any sway in our lives.  Let us trust only in you, dear God, for your promise is on the horizon and you do not disappoint. 

Direct download: BC-100613-Su_27_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Amos 6:1,4-7;   Ps.146:2,5-10;   1Tm.6:11-16;   Lk.16:19-31)

 

“Keep the commandment without stain or reproach

until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

The Lord is coming.  First of all, know this.  “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” will reveal Himself “at the proper time.”  Shall come the end of this world and the birth of the new in the presence of our all-holy God.  Do not doubt this.  Do not question it in your hearts.  But believe.

Second, know the nature of our God.  This our psalm makes abundantly clear: “The Lord gives sight to the blind” and “protects strangers…  The fatherless and the widow He sustains, but the way of the wicked He thwarts.”  And since “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down,” we must bow down and serve Him, bringing His love to this world; keeping “faith forever” we must give “food to the hungry,” showing His unending compassion to all those in need.

Third, know the fate which awaits those who fail to adhere to His command of love, those who stain themselves with comfort and riches in a vain existence and have no heart for those who suffer now by their lack.  As He prepares a place of refuge in Abraham’s bosom for those who “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness,” so a place is set for those “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” but who were “not made ill by the collapse of Joseph,” who have no regard for the destruction of God’s people – who step over and upon the poor lying at their doors as they pursue the fatting of their bellies.  “A great chasm is established” between the redeemed and the condemned; as Lazarus had no way to enter the door of the house of the rich man, so he cannot pass now into the arms of God… only now that darkness without is eternal – his torment shall not end.

It is popular to believe that Jesus somehow did away with punishment, that in His all-embracing love there is no longer need for justice, and so hell is no longer a factor.  The “God of the Old Testament” is presented as the one of punishment with Him of the New conversely being of love.  Brothers and sisters, they are one and the same God.  And as in the time before Christ, the Lord forever showed compassion for the humble of the earth, so now Jesus shows condemnation to the wicked who refuse to turn from their ways.  Only now the love and justice, which are also one, are made eternal by the coming of the end of the age in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Continue to keep yourselves pure and serve the Lord – His Day is at hand.

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

Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, let us make the poor man our brother, 

and we will know Jesus and so be with you. 

YHWH, you secure justice for the oppressed; the poor and the downtrodden you raise up even as you cast their oppressors into the bowels of the earth.  The path of the righteous you indeed bless, but the way of the wicked you thwart.  You confuse those who do not listen to Moses and the prophets, those who reject your only Son, for you are just and no man can own what he readily spurns. 

If it is the belly upon which we set our hearts, it shall grow fat and keep us from entering the narrow gate.  If upon our own needs and wants alone we look, failing to see the longings of others or help them in their plight… we shall fail the test you place before us, and be unworthy to be called your sons, dear God. 

For you are kind and loving, O LORD, and care always for the hungry and those in captivity.  Though you dwell in unapproachable light, to us you come with great mercy to raise us to Heaven with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-092913-Su_26_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Amos 8:4-7;   Ps.113:1-2,4-8;   1Tm.2:1-8;   Lk.16:1-13)

 

“If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,

who will give you what is yours?”

 

This world and the things of it are not our own; we are children of heaven.  Yet we are here amongst these things which are foreign to us.  And so, what should we do?  With all the Lord puts in our hands as we pass through this generation we must honor God.  Though in the world of mammon, we must use it to serve our God in heaven.  Thus  we shall prove ourselves worthy to enter into that kingdom which is above, which is our true home.  This call is stated simply in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “On earth as it is in heaven” – we must bring the kingdom of God to bear in this place we find ourselves.

In our first reading, Amos makes clear what our attitude should not be with regard to the riches or power we may find at our disposal.  We must never “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.”  We must never reflect the greed of these merchants who cannot wait for the sabbath, the Lord’s Day, to end, that they might satiate their thirst for wealth, and this by dishonest means.  The Lord will condemn such pride and avarice.

In our second reading, Paul gives a clearer idea the manner in which power should be employed in his exhortation to prayer for those in position of authority.  God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,” and if our kings seek to maintain peace in the world, they will save not only themselves, but provide ground for others to come to God.  Again, all that is given us, be it riches, power, wisdom or strength, must be given over to service of the Lord.  We must be as He “who gave Himself as ransom for all” in His teaching, in His healing, indeed, in the laying down of His very life.  And so, if we ourselves are teachers, we must be as Paul and do so “in faith and truth,” without any deceit.  And when we offer prayers, we must always lift up “holy hands, without anger or argument.”  In our prayer should always be forgiveness of others.

In our gospel parable Jesus illustrates and commends not deceitful dealings with others’ wealth, but to be wise in what is given us, to turn the riches of this world against the prince of this world (Satan), and use them for the good of the kingdom.  Even in these things which are the devil’s we must work to serve our Master in heaven. And so we feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we pray for those in power, that the Lord who is “high above all nations” and whose glory is “above the heavens” might stoop down to us and through us fulfill the mission of Christ; for “He raises the lowly from the dust, from the dunghill He lifts the poor.”  And we must do the same to find our place with Him in heaven.

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

Music: "Asylum Paradox" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, let us serve you alone  

with all that is at our hands. 

YHWH, help us to be trustworthy in the very small matters of this dishonest world, with the wealth that passes so quickly away.  This is not our world, but your world we must reveal to this place; if we do not reflect your glory now, how can we be called children of your light? 

And so we pray for all souls, that they will turn from the oppression wrought by their greedy hands and acknowledge you as God Most High and your Son as their Redeemer.  We desire no man to be trampled underfoot but for everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth; and so with hands held aloft we call down your mercy, dear LORD. 

With the things you place in our hands here upon this dying earth, let us be faithful, let us be true – let us produce fruit unto the kingdom of Heaven.  Heaven is our only home, and so with all our strength let us seek to raise souls to dwell there with all your angels and saints.

Direct download: BC-092213-Su_25_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Eph.4:1-7,11-13;   Ps.19:2-5;   Mt.9:9-13)

 

“Through all the earth their voice resounds,

and to the ends of the world, their message.”

 

“Till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” the Word of the Lord shall be carried forth by all His “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”; indeed, “each of us has received God’s favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it,” and each of us plays a role in bringing to fulfillment the Gospel of our “one Lord.”

“Matthew got up and followed Him.”  He was called, he was chosen, and he answered the Lord’s call without hesitation.  And he brought the Lord in immediately to dine with Him, welcoming Him fully at his table.  And because of his openness to God and His Word, and because of his generous response, we see that it is Jesus who in fact feeds him, that he in turn might feed others with the true teaching, “the one faith” in the “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all,” from the least of sinners to the greatest of apostles.  We are all thus called to follow Jesus Christ, to find the mercy He so greatly desires to impart to our sinful lives, that we might be whole and able to serve Him well.

One day we shall come to perfection in Him; in Him it is already fulfilled.  And now insofar as we share His love, insofar as we “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience,” the Spirit who is indeed the origin of our unity in Him works through us and we, even with the twelve apostles, serve to bring His blessed peace, His divine life of salvation, to the world.  Yes, “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge,” and soon that Word will reach to the ends of the earth; and soon it will come to fulfillment in our sight.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to a great hope, and to a great mission to bring it to light.  Let us keep our hearts set on the Gospel and the promise it contains, and “build up the Body of Christ” until we stand with Him, as Him, in His eternal kingdom which stands in our midst even today through the words of His apostle and evangelist, in the breath of the Spirit upon us and in its message.

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

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