Mon, 10 August 2020
O bride of Christ
whose poverty matched His own,
whose humility made Him known,
whose love indeed approached
and the embrace of His holy arms –
pray all souls will gaze into the mirror
that is our Lord
born in a manger,
dead upon a Cross,
risen unto Heaven.
Pray we shall be driven on
through the death we all must die,
through His marvelous poverty,
His wondrous humility,
to the indescribable delights
of those who remain at His side.
O that we might be poor as you were poor,
as He is poor
for the sake of every soul,
that we might come to embrace
His blessed sacrifice
and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Mon, 10 August 2020
(Ez.2:8-3:4; Ps.119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Mt.18:1-5,10,12-14)
“How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
And is there a sweeter promise or a sweeter teaching than that which Jesus gives today in our gospel? In answer to the disciples’ question, “‘Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom of God?’ He called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said ... ‘Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.’” And He goes on to assure them that none of His children is forgotten by the Father – each He searches out diligently. Always they shall behold the absolute sweetness of His countenance... forever they shall look on His presence. O to be as that innocent child in the Lord Jesus’ arms!
“Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” O Lord, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.” Let us be as your prophet Ezekial, to whom you bring the written scroll and command, “Open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” Let us “eat what is before [us]”; let us “eat this scroll.” Let us consume your words and commands and “feed [our] belly and fill [our] stomach” with your teaching and your promises. For all your words are “sweet as honey in [the] mouth.” All that comes from you is grace and peace and joy. And though the words may be sour in our stomach, though we may have to declare “lamentation and wailing and woe!” to those who turn from your law – though suffering may indeed follow in accomplishing your will, yet the sweet knowledge that all comes from your hand shall sustain us; we shall never forget your blessing.
Nothing is sweeter, nothing is more wonderful, than fulfilling the word of God in our lives. Nothing is greater than coming to His table to eat. And now this Word made flesh is in our midst, and of its sweetness we daily partake. Of His presence we cannot receive enough; to His love there are no bounds. And children before Him we constantly become as we ever consume His promises, listening to His Word and eating and drinking His Body and Blood. And so, let us rejoice as we receive from the “hand stretched out to [us].”
O LORD, fulfill your promise, we pray,
and let all your children enter your reign.
YHWH, how sweet to my taste are your commands, are your words to our souls, for they are life to us – you save us by your prophecy.
You would have us be as humble as you, LORD, and so you call us to be as children. O let our eyes and our mouths open wide to receive the glorious food you offer, and in faith we shall come into your kingdom.
And if it should cause us pain to speak in your NAME, to live our lives according to your Son’s example – to follow in the way of the Cross, LORD – of what concern should this be to us? If we must proclaim your message of lamentation and wailing and woe that others might be saved from straying and be gathered into your fold, this too should be sweet to us; indeed, we should gasp with open mouth to aid the salvation of your little ones. Then our own salvation will be assured.
O LORD, let us be your disciples; let us share in your Son’s Cross, in the Word He is and shares with us… O let your will be done and let all enter your presence!
Sun, 9 August 2020
O generous soul,
you gave your life freely
to the poor
and your death completely
to the Lord;
a grain of wheat fallen to the earth,
you have indeed produced much fruit,
so closely have you followed Christ –
pray for us miserable souls
who cannot seem to draw near
your thorough sacrifice,
made without fear of the fire
ignited by your torturers,
made in joy of uniting
your death to Jesus’ own.
How shall we approach your love,
your blood so closely mingled
with that of our crucified Lord;
how shall we match your generosity
in serving His blessed call?
Pray we will find the courage
to give everything over to God
and know we are in His arms.
Sun, 9 August 2020
(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26)
“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.
“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”
May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him. “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice. In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, if we serve you,
we will be where Jesus has been
– fixed to a cross –
and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,
for we will come to where He is now in Heaven.
YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance. Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.
O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life. Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice. Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.
What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat? Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.
Sat, 8 August 2020
O sacrificial victim
seeking to bring peace
to a dark world,
you found your wisdom in love,
in the love of Christ
and in His Cross,
and died three times for His sake:
once in entering His Church,
once in taking His habit,
and once in laying down your life
at the hands of the enemies of His peace –
pray, O blessed teacher
and sister to all men,
that the death of this life
be something we shall not fear
but embrace with the same grace
with which the Lord blessed you.
Why should we hold
to the things of the earth
when Jesus waits to embrace us
in His loving arms
and carry us unto Heaven?
Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Sat, 8 August 2020
(1Kgs.19:9a,11-13a; Ps.85:8-14; Rm.9:1-5; Mt.14:22-33)
“When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance to the cave.”
For the Lord was in the “tiny whispering sound.”
God speaks in silence. His Word sinks deeply into our souls, piercing the spirit within us, and so what can we be but afraid? His still, small voice brings us into His awesome presence.
Brothers and sisters, it is the same NAME of God revealed to Moses the lawgiver that is spoken to Elijah the prophet here on the same “mountain of God, Horeb.” This WORD, this NAME (YHWH), invokes fear, for it silences the tongue, stilling all distraction we might make, and so allows the purity of God to pass into us. What but fear, what but holy wonder, can penetrate our very bones when we become thus surrounded by His presence, when He penetrates the core of our being? “The Lord will be passing by” is the promise made to Elijah; and in the silent WORD the Lord’s promise is kept.
And is it not this same WORD in which Jesus rested when “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray”? Is it not this same WORD the Lord brought to Peter and the apostles when He “came toward them walking on the sea” as their boat “was being tossed about by the waves”? As He stepped into the boat with His blessed Rock, is it not so that “the wind died down”? My brothers and sisters, Jesus is this WORD spoken to Elijah, this NAME given Moses, made flesh in our midst. And in His presence “the strong and heavy wind,” “the earthquake,” and “the fire” become as nothing, as all distractions cease and we find ourselves at the feet of “the Son of God.”
Upon coming from this mountain Moses led his people out of Egypt. Upon coming from this mountain Elijah will anoint a king and a prophet to succeed him. Upon coming from the silence of the mountain Jesus – as He did before in calling His twelve apostles – comes to confirm the call upon Peter and his brothers even as He sees that His mission must increase with the death of John the Baptist. From the silent WORD all is spoken. It is His NAME for which we must listen, that we might “speak the truth in Christ.”
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” And so, let us “hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for He proclaims peace,” and in His peace alone will we discover our true and lasting home. (Fear not the troubling of your soul; He breathes a light calm upon the waters.)
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "WH" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, our hope is in you;
may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.
YHWH, how we hope for your kindness to deliver us from death, to save us from our adversaries, even from our very selves. We place all our trust in you – O may our faith soon be rewarded!
If we but had the faith of Abraham, dear LORD, blessed as he would we be, with no fear for the impending darkness, with hearts set solely on your coming light. The salvation of the just let us await with steadfast hearts, knowing well that you are faithful to all your promises and that you have promised a heavenly dwelling to all who seek their place with you.
To this earth let us not be attached; all of this world let us offer freely to you. You are our only treasure, dear God – you are all that is worthy of our concern. And so, let us await your Son’s return with loins girded and lamps burning. Let us be ever vigilant for His coming, serving well your holy will all our days, and our inheritance we shall find in you.
Fri, 7 August 2020
O humble preacher
who walked in poverty
with Christ your King
and spoke in power
to destroy lie by truth,
you gathered men around you
to be bearers of the grace of God,
to be men of the Gospel
inspired by love divine –
pray we shall be taught well
and walk with you in Jesus’ way,
that all we do
will be for the salvation of souls,
our lives even as our Savior’s.
May His Word
and deep love for others
lead us in all our work on earth
that always and in all things
we may beseech the Lord
to be with all His brothers.
Pray our hearts be set on His will
and we serve as His apostles.
Fri, 7 August 2020
(Hb.1:12-2:4; Ps.9:8-13; Mt.17:14-20)
“They trust in you who cherish your name,
for you forsake not those who seek you, O Lord.”
“Why could we not expel it?” the disciples asked Jesus regarding the boy so severely possessed by a demon. “‘Because you have so little trust,’ He told them.”
Brothers and sisters, is it the Lord who “delays”? Is it He who fails to cast wickedness and misery from our midst? Or is it not rather we who fail in faith? We complain and ask, When will the Lord act? but is the Lord not quick to act, as He does in our gospel today, whenever we call upon Him in truth? Does He not give us the power to do all in His Name? Does He somehow withhold His grace?
Certainly not. “He has not forgotten the cry of the afflicted,” and it is eternally true that “the just man, because of his faith, shall live.” The wicked man shall not “keep brandishing his sword to slay peoples without mercy”; and of the fool who “sacrifices to his net” for the fish that come through it – failing to see the God who provides all things and who alone deserves our trust… how long shall such vanity last? It shall disappear with the coming dawn.
“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” He who is here in our midst is coming to us, and we know “He judges the world with justice; He governs the peoples with equity.” And His time is soon fulfilled. But how we must trust in Him! How our faith must be purified! How our hearts must be taken from the empty things of this world and our eyes set entirely on the Lord. Only this will save us; and this is what He teaches.
Trust in Him and in His Name;
it is only He who saves us.
He forsakes not His children.
O LORD, let us but trust in you and you will heal us
and bring us to your glory.
YHWH, let us cherish your NAME; let us trust in you entirely and in the power and grace upon your Son. Then we shall be wanting for nothing. Then we shall be healed. Then the same power will be with us, to do all things in your NAME.
Wandering so blindly we see nothing but what is before our eyes, LORD, and so we sacrifice and burn incense to the vain things of this earth. We cannot see that there is no power in the things at our hands but that all power and all glory and our salvation are with you alone. And so we stumble along, falling into water and into fire, into sin and death.
O LORD, let us not be overwhelmed by the devil and his snares, by the empty things of this dark world. Let us make you our stronghold; let us put all faith in you and praise your NAME without ceasing. You shall remember us and answer our prayer, and come quickly to heal us. No longer let us be an unbelieving lot – let us come on our knees to you.
Thu, 6 August 2020
O reformer of the Church
and leader of her priests and people,
calling all to live the Gospel,
to give their hearts
in the service of Christ,
who alone can save men’s souls –
pray that your love for the Lord
and His holy Church
will be known in all
the members of His Body,
and so that apostles will be sent forth
to preach and to heal
even this day.
Pray we shall be one
with Him who made us,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood
and living according to the Word
He speaks to our souls
and all her faithful servants.
It is the Lord alone
who must be our concern;
pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Thu, 6 August 2020
O martyrs of the faith
ordained by the Lord
to shed blood for His sake
and the sake of His Church,
to give witness to the glory of Christ
and so win the crown
of eternal life…
it is in your blood
and by your sacrifice
the Church has grown
and become strong –
pray it shall always stand firm
in confessing the faith
despite any threat
from the powers of this world;
pray every soul
shall give his life in joy
and so emerge victorious
in the spiritual combat.
Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake,
may we, too, come to life eternal.
Thu, 6 August 2020
(Nah.2:1,3,3:1-3,6-7; Dt.32:35-36,39,41; Mt.16:24-28)
“It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them.”
When the Lord comes indeed “He will repay each man according to his conduct.” And the justice and judgment that are the Lord’s alone are evident in His work amongst Israel and their enemies, spoken of in our first reading and psalm today.
“The flame of the sword, the flash of the spear, the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon!” such is the graphic description of the horrors inflicted by the “bloody city” of Ninevah, of Assyria, whose nation is “all lies, full of plunder, whose looting never stops!” And that which they have visited upon the nations, and upon the children of Israel, shall come to rest upon their own heads. For “surely, the Lord shall do justice for His people” and prove to the evildoers that it is He alone who “will sharpen [His] flashing sword”; it is He whose “hand shall lay hold of [His] quiver.” For vengeance is with the Lord alone and it is He who “will repay [His] foes and requite those who hate [Him].”
All those who take up the sword, what can be said of them? “Close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them.” Like Ninevah they shall be “destroyed, and who can pity her?” Is she not like he who has “gain[ed] the whole world and ruin[ed] himself in the process?” And shall not all who trust in “horses a-gallop, chariots bounding, cavalry charging,” themselves hear “the rumbling sound of wheels”? As the Lord has duly repaid those on earth, so He will more greatly repay all on the Day of salvation.
But even as death is visited upon the sinner, life dawns upon the righteous. For them, “the bearer of good news [comes], announcing peace.” Those who are pierced to the heart by the cross of Christ in this life, those who bear its weight through this forsaken land, walking in the footsteps of the Lord – even these shall “see the Son of Man come in His kingship.” For “whoever loses his life for [God’s] sake will find it,” and it shall be preserved unto eternity.
Brothers and sisters, though wounded here, the Lord Himself shall heal us. Let death come to all sin, and salvation shall be assured.
O LORD, let us not be trampled underfoot
but come rather to see your glory
by following in your way.
YHWH, it is you alone who bring both death and life, for life itself is in your hands, as is judgment of those who violate it. Your justice is both sure and true, and so you will repay each man according to his deeds: those who have embraced plunder and looting cannot but come to the death they have made; but those who embrace the Cross and lay down their lives in this world shall be blessed greatly by the sight of the Son of Man coming in His glory. Although such vision cannot but bring agony to those whose hearts are set on the ill-gotten gain of this evil age, the destruction of all evil in the LORD’s reign brings joy to the heart set upon Him who passes not away.
And so, dear LORD, let us be numbered among those who seek to lose their lives that they might be found walking in the way of your only Son. We pray the angels of Heaven may carry us to your kingdom on the Day He judges the world and all souls.
Wed, 5 August 2020
(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19;
Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36
Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,
they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)
“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.
The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”
So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice. If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes. He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe. After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.
“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.” What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come. It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts. He comes now on the clouds of heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how great is your power,
how bright your light,
and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes.
YHWH, how great is your Majesty! How wonderful your glory! How brightly does your light shine! You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.
And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty? Is He not your very image, O God? And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?
How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice! O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.
Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.
Tue, 4 August 2020
(Jer.31:1-7; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.15:21-28)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.”
In our first reading Jeremiah prophesies the restoration of “all the tribes of Israel” to the grace and “age-old love” of their Lord and God. The Lord promises His virgin daughter Israel: “Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.” He will “turn their mourning into joy” as this “remnant of Israel” returns to the holy heights of Mount Zion, as he “gathers them together” as His chosen once again.
And in our gospel the Lord makes clear it is for the lost children of Israel He has come. Here in the mission of the Christ, Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. But more than the restoration of the nation of Israel do we hear of today. What we find is that not these alone shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, but indeed all the nations shall find Him whom their hearts desire. And it is this Canaanite woman who leads the way for all Gentile people to receive the grace and favor of the One God.
On her knees she comes, crawling like a dog, this mother of all us not born of Jewish blood, to be grafted to the kingdom’s tree. Here is a sign of the humility we all must have. And when rebuffed she does not answer, “Who are you?” and leave in anger, but drops further on her face, pleading for “the leavings that fall from [the] masters’ tables.” And so she shows the Lord the “great faith” even we Gentiles can exhibit; and so she wins a hearing not only for herself but all people of foreign nations who, like Ruth, are able to say in truth: May your God be my God (see Ru.1:16). And so her daughter finds the healing touch of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, the promise given the people of Israel is now for all of us to share, if we have but faith – if we but have the love of God burning in our hearts. And so, “rise up, let us go to Zion, to the Lord, our God” and “enjoy the fruits” He offers forth for all His many sheep. This Canaanite woman came “shouting after” Him and found the ear of the God of the universe; let us now “shout with joy for Jacob” and with Jacob, as we celebrate the glory of the Lord here present in our midst.
O LORD, gather us all into your arms.
YHWH, you restore the fortunes of Jacob; his house you rebuild and your blessings he finds. Jesus has indeed come to the lost sheep of Israel, for they are your chosen sons and daughters. You have loved them from of old and your mercy remains upon them.
But if we come on our knees before you, LORD, we who are but dogs, perhaps the leavings of your table we may find, and so share in your blessings with the chosen ones. Faith is open to men of all nations, and it is this alone that will enable us to enter your House.
O let us rise up and go to Zion! Let us climb the heights of your mountain and fall at the feet of your Son. His mercy He cannot withhold from any who beg of Him. As a Shepherd guide us, O LORD, that we might find rest in you, that we might be fruitful in your NAME and come to praise you in the joy of your kingdom.
Mon, 3 August 2020
O priest exemplar,
O preacher and confessor extraordinaire,
healer of souls
who by prayer and penance
was made holy unto God
and brought others
to that same holiness
before the Lord and Maker
of all poor souls –
pray indeed this day
that our hearts will be set on Heaven,
that our longing will be for the Lord,
and so that by prayer
we shall come to union with Him.
Pray all your fellow priests
will be filled with your same zeal
for the salvation of their flock
and so serve to bring them
to blessed union
with the God of all.
Pray the Lord send out holy priests
to labor in His vineyard
as diligently, as tirelessly, as you.
Mon, 3 August 2020
(Jer.30:1-2,12-15,18-22; Ps.102:16-23,29; Mt.15:1-2,10-14)
“Every planting not put down by my heavenly Father
will be uprooted.”
Is it not these Pharisees of whom Jeremiah speaks when he prophesies, “Incurable is your wound, grievous your bruise”? Truly there is “no remedy for [their] running sore, no healing for [them].” Blind shall they ever be, for they do but harden their hearts when their sin is brought up before their eyes.
And so, though Jesus comes to “restore the tents of Jacob,” “when the Lord has rebuilt Zion and appeared in His glory,” where shall they be? Where are they now as He brings this to pass in their very presence? Is it not so that they cannot see? And so, as “the peoples gather together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord,” they can only remain outside His house knocking so vainly...
“It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that makes him impure; it is what comes out of his mouth.” With this simple declaration the Lord turns the eyes of all ancient religions – set so much on the letter of the law, witnessed in the washing of hands and the preparation of food for the body (which shall but die one day) – in upon themselves. With this essential challenge all are forced to examine their faith and discover upon what it rests. Is it truly upon the Almighty God, who is “heavenly,” who is Spirit? Or is it upon their own belly? It is a hard look that must be taken if one is to be drawn into the renewed covenant and anointed by its blood. (How else shall one stand in the overwhelming light of His glory?)
It shall be so that “all your lovers have forgotten you”: anything upon which you set your heart that is short of the Almighty God shall indeed but rot, shall be exposed for all its vanity. And though it seems at this time that the Lord has “struck you as an enemy would strike,” that He has “punished you cruelly,” know that it is “because of your great guilt, your numerous sins, [He has] done this to you,” that He might uproot these from your midst – that you might not be uprooted from His presence.
O LORD, keep us from the pit;
forgive our sins
and let our house be rebuilt from its ruins.
YHWH, you open the eyes of the blind and save those who have strayed so far from your love. You desire to rebuild the ruins of Zion, and so you send your Son to teach us of your presence within. Help us to set our hearts on your kingdom that we might be as your temple, as your own kin.
It is through Jesus your compassion comes to us, LORD. We were destined for death, sitting in a land of darkness and gloom, overwhelmed by our sins; but you enabled us to approach your throne and find healing for our souls through the grace and mercy of your only Son. Remember us, that we might praise you through all generations.
How sick we were, LORD, indeed at the point of death, headed for an empty pit. But you turn our eyes from our running sore to look upon your majesty. In your pity you heard the groaning of these prisoners and raised us from the mire. O may we stand firm on your holy mountain, planted securely in your love.
Sun, 2 August 2020
(Jer.28:1-17; Ps.119:29,43,68,79-80,95,102; Mt.14:22-36)
“Let those turn to me who fear you
and acknowledge your decrees.”
Hananiah does not fear the Lord; he cares nothing for His decrees. And so he prophesies that the Lord will bring “the vessels of the house of the Lord and all the exiles back from Babylon” within two years, though the Lord has not said this. And he refuses to turn to Jeremiah – who does acknowledge the Lord’s decrees and speaks only truth – hardening himself against the word and the will of the Lord even unto his death. How foolish to have “false confidence,” to have no fear of God and His prophets. “Rebellion against the Lord” can but bring destruction to the proud soul.
And what of the fear the disciples exhibit throughout our gospel today: the fear of the boat “being tossed about in the waves raised by strong head winds”; their terror at seeing Jesus “walking on the water” in the middle of the night (“‘It is a ghost!’ they said.”); Peter’s fear of sinking in the water... Is this the fear the Lord desires of His chosen ones? No. For this is the fear of a faithless soul disturbed by the distractions the devil might raise, not the fear of the Lord. The fear the Lord requires we see after Jesus “had climbed into the boat, [and] the wind died down.” Here read of the fear of the Lord: “Those who were in the boat showed Him reverence, declaring, ‘Undoubtedly you are the Son of God!’”
Acknowledge Him we must. To His feet we must bring all our sickness, all our blindness. Knowing that by His word alone we are saved, that in His presence alone do we find our home, our harbor in this storm – this is the fear which must burn in our hearts. There is no other way. There is no other word which has weight. Only His hand reaches out and lifts us up from drowning in the waves. And for this we honor Him. For the law of His mouth we praise His name. For what does He speak but our salvation? What does He come across the lake bringing us but assistance in our exile here? And so, what should we do but reverence His eminent grace? Let the Lord be praised!
O LORD, by your Word save me;
with your hand raise me up.
YHWH, you destroy all falsehood from among us; from our hearts you remove all fear. And so, we praise you for your glory, for truly you are our LORD and God.
Across the waters you send your Son, to calm our hearts and remove all fear. Into our boats He climbs, bringing your peace, LORD, and by His hand all are healed.
Let us not be blind to His presence; let us not lack the faith to walk with Him. For His arms are always outstretched to catch us and gather us into your heart, O LORD.
There indeed is no falsehood in Him, or in the words He speaks to our souls. He is the true Prophet sent in your NAME, LORD, and we find refuge in obedience to His call.
O LORD, may our boat come soon to the shore we seek; with your Son at our side we are already with you. And let your Word of truth be in our mouth as well – let us speak only the words you inspire.
Sat, 1 August 2020
O priest of the Blessed Sacrament,
you gave your life in sacrifice
at the altar of the Lord
and in all the trials of this earth;
you suffered all for Jesus
and desired only to bring souls,
all the children of God,
to receive Him and His grace
in the Sacrament of Communion,
in oneness with our Lord –
pray, O priest of Christ,
that our very lives
shall also be offered in sacrifice,
especially in the holy sacrifice
of the Mass
and in reception of His Body and Blood
in the Blessed Sacrament.
Pray particularly that our priests will know
the profound call upon their souls
to make Him present in this world
and be as inspired with holy devotion
as were you, dear saint.
Pray our hunger for His Presence increase.
Sat, 1 August 2020
O vigorous defender of the divinity of Christ,
you who suffered exile
for your work for the faith,
you who had a true shepherd’s heart
and cared so deeply
for the priests and people
the Lord placed in your hands –
pray the shepherds of the Church today
will strive with your same selfless zeal
to bring the love of the Son of God
and the blessed demands of His call
to every soul in their care,
that the faith might increase
and be known in all its fullness
even to the ends of the earth.
Pray and weep, O steadfast apostle,
for all the members of Christ’s holy flock,
that we shall be protected
from false and specious claims,
from wolves in sheep’s clothing
who would enter and steal the faith
of this holy Catholic Church
founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sat, 1 August 2020
(Is.55:1-3; Ps.145:8-9,15-18; Rm.8:35,37-39; Mt.14:13-21)
“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season.”
And the song of David, and the prophecy of Isaiah, are fulfilled in Jesus and the heavenly banquet He sets before us this day. For the Lord “open[s] His hand and satisf[ies] the desire of every living thing”; “without paying and without cost” all come to His table to eat.
“You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.” The “rich fare” the Lord provides cannot be bought with money, for the earthly food “fails to satisfy.” Only that paid for by the blood of the Son gives life; in His sacrifice we find “the everlasting covenant,” the union with God and with His love which all our souls desire. And we know, as Paul testifies, that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Does Jesus not give witness to the love of God today? Does He not show that “the Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works”? For though “He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself,” though He sought to be alone with His Father in prayer, when followed by the crowds He took pity and “cured their sick.” And though He had been with them all the day and evening drew on, when the disciples urge Him to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves,” Jesus responds: “There is no need for them to go away; give them food yourselves.” And He feeds them, without cost and without discriminating between one and the next. All sit at His table today; and we are told that “all ate and were satisfied.” And why not? For the bounty of the Lord is indeed the richest fare.
Do we follow Jesus as diligently as these in the wilderness, brothers and sisters? We know the food He provides us now every day. And we have been shown clearly that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Let us partake well of this feast set before us, which gives us now a foretaste of heaven. Freely let us come to Him, and be fed by His holy hand. And our expectant souls shall be forever satisfied, for His hand is always open.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Whole Whale" (first third) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let our lives this day be in line with your will,
united to the glory of your only Son.
YHWH, let us not store up treasures for ourselves, but think rather of you and the salvation of others. All is indeed vanity if like Qoheleth we set our sights on what is on earth, if we are preoccupied by our possessions. For these shall rot with the lusts of the flesh and we shall die with them. But if we set our hearts on you and on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at your right hand, then we shall be blessed with life everlasting.
Your Son calls us to glory with Him in Heaven. He warns us of the emptiness of this earth and the riches hereon. He would turn our eyes to you and away from all greed and selfishness. He alone can prosper the work of our hands, LORD, for without Him we pass like the changing grass and nothing comes of our days.
O LORD, let us not labor in vain but with the wisdom that comes from above, that we might not come to great misfortune but to eternal life in your presence. Remake us in the image of your Son.
Fri, 31 July 2020
O patron of moral theologians
and servant of the poor,
how blessed was your loving wisdom,
your understanding of God
and His love for us,
made perfectly known
in His only Son
whom you loved so much
with His Mother and the Church,
and whom you call us all to love
through your blessed words –
pray the redeeming love
of Jesus our Savior
flow in all our veins,
that we might unite our wills
to the Father’s
as perfectly as His only Son
and so be as encompassed by grace and love
as only He could be.
Pray indeed that we shall be saved,
that we will come to the Lord on our knees
and so find His presence filling us
Fri, 31 July 2020
(Jer.26:11-16,24; Ps.69:14-16,30-31,33-34; Mt.14:1-12)
“In truth it was the Lord who sent me to you,
to speak all these things for you to hear.”
Jeremiah speaks to the people in the Lord’s name, even as he is threatened with death: “Reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the Lord your God, so that the Lord will repent of the evil with which He threatens you,” he declares at his trial – he does not hide the truth. And the words of David’s psalm are proven genuine: “His own who are in bonds He spurns not”; for the prophet’s words find a hearing in the people, and Ahikam advocates for his release.
It is the truth which John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets, comes to declare most boldly. Even from Herod’s dungeon this voice crying in the wilderness continues to proclaim the sinfulness of the king’s taking his own sister-in-law to wife, repeatedly telling him, “It is not right for you to live with her.” He, too, does not back down in the face of trials, in the dark of prison, and he, too, is released from bonds – though bonds of a different kind. He, too, is “rescued from [his] foes, and from the watery depths… The pit [does not] close its mouth over [him].” For though he be beheaded, though death at the hands of his persecutor he does not escape, yet it is his message which lives and has power, power shown now in the presence of the Truth walking the earth in the Person of Jesus Christ – a power which causes the evil king to shake in his boots at the voice which still comes to his ears. Indeed, John yet lives. In Jesus he makes his home.
“I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.” For all His “lowly ones” He sees; all who “seek God” are known to Him. And these shall be released from all bonds of this earth, even as they speak His truth.
The party shall soon be over, the dance of the daughter of lust come to an end. And who shall stand justified then? Who shall hear His soothing words? And who shall be condemned? Turn to Him in your hearts this day. Listen to His voice.
O LORD, save us from the dungeon of death;
lift us from the mire of this corrupted world –
let us repent that we might praise you.
YHWH, it is you who are our secure protection, you who save us even from death, you who raise our heads in the joy of your presence. And so, what need we fear? Let the wicked of this world tremble before your voice, but let us be blessed to dwell with you in your kingdom.
O LORD, though your prophets and disciples be cast into dungeons, though they be beheaded for your NAME’s sake, though the princes of this world call for the death of those who proclaim your truth to their unyielding hearts… yet you are there to protect your own, for your power is beyond any creature crawling upon this desolate earth.
And so we take refuge in you, LORD; and so we stand strong in the face of our persecutors. For we shall not die at their hands but live in your presence, as your saints do even this day. Give us the strength we need to place our trust entirely in you and in your Son, for we know even as we die with Him we shall live with Him forever.
Thu, 30 July 2020
O strong and holy apostle,
soldier for the Lord Jesus
and defender of His Church,
you gathered together an army
to labor in mission fields,
to educate the masses,
to serve and die as loyal sons
of the Christ and His Pope –
teach us this day
to follow in the way of Jesus,
to meditate on His life
and be fruitful in His works.
Pray your own sons
and all the children of MotherChurch
not waver in the faith
which sustains them on this earth
but that in all truth
steadfast Christ’s disciples shall stand
and proclaim in strength the salvation
that comes only through Jesus
and the Vine He has planted,
through whose teaching and sacraments
His very Spirit and blood flow.
Thu, 30 July 2020
(Jer.26:1-9; Ps.69:5,8-10,14; Mt.13:54-58)
“No prophet is without honor,
except in his native place, indeed in his own house.”
How consonant are our readings today, speaking all of the persecution the prophet of God must bear in bringing the truth to His people. (Indeed I had thought to refer to the incident in our gospel before having even come to it, while still reading the words from Jeremiah, for elsewhere in the gospels the same quote of Jesus written above causes His people to lead Him to the brow of a hill, intending to throw Him down.)
As Jesus was rejected when He “went to His native place and spent His time teaching in their synagogue,” so when Jeremiah is obedient to the Lord’s command to “stand in the court of the house of the Lord and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah who come to worship in the house of the Lord … all the people gathered about [him],” not to “listen and turn back, each from his evil way,” but to join with “the priests and prophets [who] laid hold of him, crying, ‘You must be put to death!’” And David bemoans the same treatment in our psalm: “I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons,” as for the sake of the Lord he “bear[s] insult.”
What does the prophet come to do; what does Jesus speak to His people but truth? They themselves recognize that He has great “wisdom and miraculous powers.” With these He would save their very lives; His sword of truth would incise every cancerous growth of sin from their souls – He would heal them with the Word of God. In fact, it is their health He is so zealous to effect. But “because zeal for [the Lord’s] house consumes [Him]… the insults of those who blaspheme [God] fall upon [Him].” As they do upon Jeremiah. As they do upon David… As they do upon every faithful prophet of God.
Those who “disobey [God], not living according to the law [He] placed before [them] and not listening to the words of [His] servants the prophets,” do not wish to hear of their sin: foolishly, they would be left to die in their rebellion. And so they kill the prophet, attempting vainly to destroy His message. And it must be those of the Lord’s own house that reject His word, that kill the Christ, for it is only they who know His voice speaking in their heart.
“This city shall be desolate and deserted.” Hear these words, brothers and sisters. Let them sink deeply into your ears and take root in your hearts. Be not afraid of the death that must come to this earthen vessel. Nor reject the word because it comes from one who is your own brother. It is this sword of truth alone that will save you.
O LORD, your Son’s own brothers surrounded Him
and condemned Him to death –
forgive us, LORD, and let us be faithful as He.
YHWH, why are our hearts so set against your will that we would persecute your prophets and kill your only Son? Why are we so stubborn in our rejection of your love, of your chastising word that would bring us to your holy presence? It should be your temple in which we desire to dwell, and yet we seek to build our own.
O holy LORD, take the blasphemy from our lips, the anger and hatred from our hands and tongue. Let us see and recognize that you are God and treasure the wisdom you bring to us. Let us not turn our backs or raise our hands against you, but rather bear the insult of those who suffer for the sake of your NAME.
You look upon our zeal for you and for your house, LORD, and so hear us as we cry to you. Protect us well from the devastation of this fallen race, that we might accomplish your will and come to stand with you in Heaven. In your House alone let us seek to dwell.
Wed, 29 July 2020
O you of golden words,
of angelic tongue,
of sermons refined
by the Spirit of God…
O how you made present on earth
the invisible Creator
even as He was made for us
in the womb of the Virgin,
so tangible had His grace become
through the preaching the Lord inspired
in your soul –
pray we shall indeed be vivified
by the eternal grace of God,
by the gift of His becoming Man,
to become like Him,
heavenly spirits in His reign.
How could we comprehend such blessing;
how could such surpassing joy
these earthen vessels hold?
Let us come close to Christ our Savior,
close to Him as now you stand
in His radiant glory.
Wed, 29 July 2020
(Jer.18:1-6; Ps.146:1-6; Mt.13:47-53)
“Like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
“I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.” According to the Lord’s words Jeremiah goes, and a marvelous sign is provided him. For there in the hands of the potter and in his work, he sees the Lord huddled over His creation. And what in particular does he witness in this vision: “Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.” Are we not indeed like this clay in the potter’s hands? Does He not send His only Son to remake us in His image? And so, should we not be as pliable as clay in the holy hands of our Lord and God?
And are we not as those caught in the net of the fishermen who, having “collected all sorts of things… put what was worthwhile into containers. [But] what was useless they threw away.” Yes, at the end of the world “angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just,” and then the hand of the Lord will be at work in its fullness. So, while there is yet time, let us do all we can to be remade in God’s image, that we might avoid “the fiery furnace” – let us not be hardened in our sin. For once cast in this kiln, what shall they do but “wail and grind their teeth”?
Brothers and sisters, do you not see that it is the Lord “who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them”? It is the Lord who holds all in His holy hands, and does what He will with the universe. And so, should you not take refuge in Him? “Put not your trust in princes, in men, in whom there is no salvation.” What is man who “when his spirit departs he returns to the earth”? When God removes His breath from man, indeed he becomes as nothing but clay in a potter’s hands. But “happy he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” For the one who trusts in Him, He shall remake in His own eternal image; upon this clay His breath shall remain. And so his soul shall ever “praise the Lord.”
O LORD, all is in your hands;
may our hands and our hearts
be conformed to your own.
YHWH, we are indeed as clay in your holy hands; you can make of us what you will. And so we pray you make us in the image of your Son, that we will be gathered into your kingdom and not cast aside.
We are but dust, O LORD, except that you breathe upon us. And should you take your Spirit from us, to dust we would return. Yet we fail to recognize your power and glory and put our trust in the dust of this earth, in the things you have created. It is you who have made the heavens and the earth and all that dwell in them. It is you who hold the life breath of all men. O let us worship you alone and seek to be remade in your image! Then to eternal life we shall come.
The fiery furnace awaits the wicked; let us not forget that you will separate the evil from the good at the end of the age. May your angels’ hands be upon us this day, preparing our souls for the end of the world, forming us by your grace as your blessed children. Praise you, LORD!
Tue, 28 July 2020
O servant of the Lord
who welcomed Him
into your home,
fulfilling all the duties
and yet realized
as He taught
that it is He
who serves us poor creatures,
who is the resurrection and the life…
in whose House we make our home –
pray that even as we fulfill the duties
of our station in life
we too shall come to believe
Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God
who comes to us
to serve us in His need,
allowing Himself to be fed by us
that He might feed our souls
with everlasting life,
with the Spirit that passes not away
with the body.
Tue, 28 July 2020
(Jer.15:10,16-21; Ps.59:2-4,10-11,17-18; Mt.13:44-46)
“If you repent, so that I restore you,
in my presence you shall stand.”
The Lord called Jeremiah even from before he was formed in his mother’s womb, but it seems he falls short of fulfilling that call, for the Lord says to His prophet today, “If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.” Indeed it seemed that Christ’s words in His parable today – “The reign of God is like a buried treasure which a man found in a field” – had been realized in Jeremiah, who declares, “When I found your words, I devoured them; they became the joy and the happiness of my heart.” Yet it seems the prophet struggles to heed the Lord’s instruction to “put up for sale all he had,” to give up all else to receive fully the gift of God’s gracious presence.
Jeremiah complains to God, “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” And what is this pain but the persecution he continually finds as “a man of strife and contention to all the land”? The Lord has called him to be a continual sign of contradiction toward His rebellious house, and the difficulties of this cross he must bear move the prophet toward despair.
What is the “vile” matter of which Jeremiah must “repent” to become “a solid wall of brass” in his mission for God? It is, I believe, the “indignation” he says he has toward his fellow people, who, though evil in the sight of God, must be borne with patience, according to the Lord’s call. It is his failure to be as really only Christ is – able to forgive His persecutors even as He stands nailed to the cross. Jeremiah must accept his weakness and trials, as does Paul later, but struggles greatly in this time before the coming of the Son.
Yet the Lord promises to “free [him] from the hand of the wicked, and rescue [him] from the grasp of the violent.” Yet the Lord is with him to answer his prayer when he cries out as has David, “Rescue me from my enemies, O my God; from my adversaries defend me.” And yet he will know what David proclaims: “You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress.” For whoever cries out to Him from the cross, the Lord hears; and to him He brings the greatest treasure of all – His own presence within him.
(If you would find this “pearl” of greatest value, brothers and sisters, in a word, learn to love thy enemy.)
O LORD, you will defend us if we but trust in you;
why do we not make you our pearl of great price?
YHWH, you free us from the hand of the wicked, the grasp of the violent, for you are our refuge, our stronghold; and so, what need we fear? Let us trust in you and bear our Cross in joy.
LORD, if we are to be your disciples, your prophets – your light – we cannot be less than you are. If with anger or indignation we speak to your people, how can it be you who are calling them to repentance? We must first repent ourselves of any vile matter that may be polluting our souls, and then we can serve as your image in this world. Help us to set aside all sin and attachment to sin that we might find you at work in our lives.
O LORD, it is you who are the pearl of great price and so we should treasure above all our service of you and the persecution it necessarily brings. Would we be other than you were among us? Should we lay down our cross? Never, I pray. Rather, let us freely lay down our lives that we might find them in you.
Mon, 27 July 2020
(Jer.14:17-22; Ps.79:8-9,11,13; Mt.13:36-43)
“Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.”
If the prophet’s “eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of [his] people, over her incurable wound,” how many more tears will there be “at the end of the world” when the “weeds are collected and burned”? For in our first reading Jeremiah sees “those slain by the sword” and “those consumed by hunger,” suffering enough to bring tears – but this “blow” struck by the Lord is not one which “cannot be healed.” “A time of healing” shall indeed come as the nation is brought back from exile only seventy years after its being taken; and soon Jesus shall come to “free [all] those doomed to death,” to set prisoners free… to make permanent the compassionate deliverance of the Lord God. But at the end of the age, when Jesus comes again and finally, the sentence that is passed against those who have sinned shall have no means of repeal; the death upon souls shall be everlasting.
In our gospel today Jesus speaks in plain terms as He explains “the parable of the weeds in the field.” This is no mere fable but the delineation of the harvest time that shall come upon all. To heaven or to hell all shall go, and there shall be no more changing: no more opportunity for redemption for those set upon evil, and no more faltering into wickedness for those set upon good. Great shall be the eternal gifts showered upon the blessed, but what of the wailing then… what of the wailing?
“We have sinned against you.” “We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness.” We pray you shall “remember your covenant with us,” and from all our sin set us free. “Deliver us and pardon our sins” and we “will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise.” Keep us safe from your judgment on the Last Day. Do not “cast [us] off completely,” but raise our lowly hearts unto your kingdom.
O LORD, we are doomed to death for our sin,
but Jesus comes to save us from the fiery furnace
that we might shine your light forever in the kingdom.
YHWH, remember not against us the iniquities of the past but let us be purged of all sin, that we might shine with you in your kingdom. For the glory of your NAME forgive our wickedness and let us share your glory in your holy Day.
You are right to punish us, LORD, and to condemn us if we harden our hearts on the day of judgment. But we beg you to hear the sighing of the prisoners and free those doomed to death. Make us as the sheep of your pasture and we will give thanks to you forever.
Our very lives are dependent on you, LORD our God. We cannot eat or breathe except that you feed us, except that you give life to our souls. If you remove your providential hand, we cannot but be destroyed, we cannot but perish in our sins. But you are our Savior – let your will be accomplished among us and let us be redeemed! Save us from the fiery furnace and let us stand as citizens of your kingdom, Father of us all.
Sun, 26 July 2020
(Jer.13:1-11; Dt.32:18-21; Mt.13:31-35)
“You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you.
You forgot the God who gave you birth.”
So Moses says of the people he led through the desert. So Jeremiah is told of the Lord’s chosen at the time of the Babylonian exile. So it is with those who are deaf to Jesus’ parables. And so we, too, forget the Lord whenever we turn from Him in sin.
So close were the Lord’s children to Him and His blessings: “As close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord.” The God of earth and heaven calls them “my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty.” He has set them aside to be His own, to make them holy in the eyes of the world. “But they did not listen.” But they did not remain faithful. Going after “strange gods to serve and adore them,” they showed themselves to be “sons with no loyalty in them.” And so they became “rotted, good for nothing.”
How sad is sin. “What a fickle race [we] are.” For all we need the Lord provides, yet we “walk in the stubbornness of [our] hearts” a path away from Him, apart from His love. And now Jesus “announce[s] what has lain hidden since the creation of the world.” In parables He speaks of the kingdom of God. But how many hearts are closed to His teaching? How many “refuse to obey [His] words?” And should the Lord not therefore be “filled with loathing and anger toward His sons and daughters”?
The kingdom of heaven cannot grow in us if we separate ourselves from Jesus. As Israel and Judah were cast off, so shall we be, if we do not heed His commands. Following the “vain idols” of the nations will not bring us to His kingdom, but only make us abominable in His sight. And what horror to lose His blessing, to turn our renown and beauty to an everlasting curse.
It need not be so. To Him we can return, with open ears and understanding hearts and light thus filling our eyes. Remaining ever in His presence, remembering His Name, He who has planted us as seed “in His field,” He who has given birth to new life within us, will see that each day we grow. And on the last Day we shall be formed in His image.
O LORD, your Son announces the kingdom of God;
let us listen to His voice and turn from our disloyalty,
that we might enter His reign.
YHWH, you are hidden within Creation and so within us; from the beginning you are with us, though we be blind to your presence. But your Son comes to reveal your glory, your blessing upon our souls. You are our very life – let us not turn away from your love.
To the Word of your Son let us listen, LORD, that the humble seed He is might be planted well within our hearts and so grow unto eternity, and we might come to dwell with you. Let us rise with Him who has died for us, who has taken upon Himself the rottenness of our sin and stubborn pride.
We are good for nothing, LORD. Having provoked you with our disloyalty, what can we be but cut off from your grace and the light of your holy face. Yet you come to speak to our souls and call us home to you, if we would but listen. O let us heed your word of chastisement wherein is your call; let us understand the wisdom so hidden from our limited vision. May we learn our lesson well and so come to dwell in Heaven.
Sat, 25 July 2020
O parents of the Virgin Mary,
grandparents of the Lord our God,
you who gave birth
to our Blessed Mother,
through whom we are blessed
for all ages…
O you through whom the promise to David
came to be fulfilled,
you whose virtues
found favor with the Lord,
you whom He chose
to bring forth His Mother
and the Mother of all the redeemed –
pray our posterity shall endure
even as your own,
that we shall bear fruit
even in our old age
and see our children’s children
in a happy Jerusalem.
Pray we shall know the Virgin
as intimately as you
and so come to know our Lord
in the kingdom where He reigns.
Sat, 25 July 2020
(1Kgs.3:5,7-12; Ps.119:57,72,76-77,97,127-130; Rm.8:28-30; Mt.13:44-52)
“The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.”
Wisdom. The “pearl of great price.” How precious the ability “to distinguish right from wrong” by the grace of God, and to choose the right way at all times. For finding the pearl is one thing, a gift from the Lord, but wisdom is revealed in him who “goes and sells all that he has and buys it,” knowing there is no treasure greater than the heavenly light shining from the face of God.
It is heaven we must desire. What else is of any worth, my friend? And in His justice, in His truth, in the wisdom and understanding that come from the touch of His hand and the words from His mouth alone will we find what is the desire of all the righteous souls.
Solomon demonstrates that he “love[s] [the Lord’s] commands more than gold,” and this pleases the God who seeks to rule His heart. He shows that he is the son of his father David by coming humbly before the Lord, recognizing that he is “a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.” And such utter dependence on the Lord’s grace He cannot but bless, declaring to His servant: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.” Because the young king has made the desire to “know what is right” his request of his God, he receives this, and so much more.
All knowledge, all wisdom is given to Solomon, and shall not be taken away. But perhaps we should note that what he is given here in such abundance, he shall not heed throughout his life – for he shall not always sell all else to follow in the light of the Lord’s decrees. Perhaps none but Jesus Himself can do this wholeheartedly; but none should also make the riches of the earth, which contradict the heavenly treasure, his abiding desire, as the older king shall do. All must strive to remain in His light, to be as “the scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven… who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,” who serves as the angels that “separate the wicked from the righteous” – even on this earth distinguishing evil from good.
“Brothers and sisters, we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Paul’s words reflect the wisdom of God. For truly His elect are known to Him from before time; truly He calls us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” And truly we know that by the justification of our souls under the cross of Christ we shall come to the glorious presence of the Father in heaven. And this is all that matters. “Do you understand all these things?” Then place all in His hands.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: ""Heaven" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you yourself are the pearl
of the greatest price –
let us find you and your Word at work in us this day.
YHWH, let your kingdom come into our midst; let us seek it with all our heart. For nothing else has worth, nothing else lasts – only in you do we find a home.
Let your wisdom fill us, LORD, like light from above. Let us listen to your Son’s teaching that we may be conformed to His image. You desire to give us every good gift; it is your will to bring us to glory. May our desire be in accord with your own and all will work only for our good.
And we shall come to Heaven, where you dwell. We shall come to the light of your face, O LORD, and gaze upon you forever. Your angels will gather us into your House, and there we will remain always.
You invite us to ask of you our heart’s desire, and you cannot but grant what you offer freely. May our desire please you, LORD, may it be your own, and we shall be blessed with your treasure.
Fri, 24 July 2020
O martyred apostle,
first to endure the death of Christ,
you have indeed drunk of His cup,
fully accepting the sacrifice
to which all are called,
and so blazed the path of service
for others to follow –
pray all God’s children,
all those blessed to be called as sons,
as brothers of the Lord,
will have the courage and strength
that comes from the Spirit
to lay down their lives
as a ransom for many
and so find a place
beside our Savior Jesus
in His heavenly kingdom.
Pray the blood of Christ
in which you shared so intimately
pour upon His Church
and all souls be blessed
to drink thereof
unto the world’s salvation.
Fri, 24 July 2020
(2Cor.4:7-15; Ps.126:1-6; Mt.20:20-28)
“Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus,
so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed.”
In His apostles the death and resurrection of Jesus are most clearly shown. It is particularly their place to suffer persecution, to be “afflicted” and “crushed”, “constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake”; and it is particularly their grace to show forth the glory of the resurrection. In this selfless service of the Lord, what comes through them is the preaching of the Word; “the spirit of faith” prompts them to speak, and though it bring their death, they do not hesitate: “We believe and so we speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both us and you in His presence.” Paul speaks here for all the apostles, and for the grace which comes to us as well through their service.
The Son of Man has come “to give His life as ransom for the many,” and James truly moves quickly “to drink of the cup” of which the Lord partakes. As the first apostle martyred for the faith, he leads all the apostles forth to such sacrifice, in which they shall all soon join him. Once the Spirit is upon them, speaking through them, they will have the unquestioned faith necessary to confront without fear, but indeed with holy joy, the death to which each is called. They “possess a treasure in earthen vessels” and the vessels must be broken for the “surpassing power” of God to come to fulfillment in them and through them. Willingly do they lay down their lives once the Spirit inspires them, once their faith has been strengthened – once they have lost entirely any preoccupation with honors and attachments of this life, they come preaching and serving, facing the death the world inflicts therefore without a thought to run and hide, but knowing the joy it shall bring deep inside.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” We are taken as captives from this world, our hands tied behind us. But upon returning from this exile, after this death we suffer, we know our mouth will be “filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.” So surpassing is the peace which awaits us, the troubles of this life of mission in His Name are as nothing. Let us pray to the Lord that we shall always speak freely in His Name. Let us pray to imitate James and all the apostles in their selfless service of Christ. May we have always that Spirit of faith that led them forth, that in the death of our bodies, we, too, may know and reveal the life of Jesus Christ.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may the sacrifice of the apostles
bring many souls into the gates of your kingdom.
YHWH, let us be ready to be delivered even to death for the sake of your Name and in union with your Son and the blood He has shed for our sakes. All persecution let us gratefully endure, knowing it shall but lead to great joy in your kingdom. Crushed in union with the sacrifice of Christ, let us rejoice for the blessings to come.
Let our hearts be set on service of you, O LORD, and not on the honors of this world. Only those who lay down their lives for the sake of your Name shall find union with you in Heaven. And so, let us drink of the cup of your Son that your glory may be known among all.
Though speaking of you bring our end in this world, we shall still continue as has James, for then we shall be raised up with him at Jesus’ side. All power comes only from you, LORD. We pray you work in all our lives that even our mortal flesh shall serve as a holy sacrifice.
Thu, 23 July 2020
O solitary prayer,
alone with the Lord
in the Blessed Sacrament
you offered your life
for the salvation of souls;
in penance you lived,
and so a light shone
even from your tomb
to show the presence of Christ
and His miraculous powers
at work in the world –
pray all souls
seek perfection in prayer,
the perfection of being with Jesus,
of remaining always in His presence
with a heart of love
poured out for our fellow man.
Pray even now
for the salvation of all,
for what else matters
but that we come to dwell
with you in the light of our Lord,
adoring Him forever?
Thu, 23 July 2020
(Jer.3:14-17; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.13:18-23)
“At that time they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne;
there all nations will be gathered together
to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem.”
I would like today to focus the attention particularly of the Lord’s chosen race on the following prophecy of the great Jeremiah: “They will in those days no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord!’ or miss it, or make another.” For I must in obedience to the Spirit of Truth ask the question: If the temple of the Lord has been destroyed, how is it Judaism can be said to yet exist? With the discontinuance of the sacrifices, does the heart of the Mosaic Law not undergo a certain transformation? To the point: Does the sacrifice of Christ not supplant – even as it fulfills, perfectly – the Old Covenant? Is His blood poured upon the altar now and sprinkled upon all our souls, is it not this which gives birth to the New Jerusalem, where “they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings”?
And does not the destruction of the temple so soon after the death of Him who prophesied it in tears not substantiate His claim as the Temple not built by human hands? And does the fact that the ancient walls have remained in ruins for some two thousand years not indicate its permanent end? Would the Lord really wish it to be built again? And do you think He would leave you alone for so long a time? Has He not come?
My brothers, my sisters, should not he who has the deepest “roots” be the strongest tree reaching to the greatest heights? Is He not? And should you not be as this quintessential Jew, suffering for the sake of all at the hands of those who breathe condemnation? (Here is a message to those who would take the Lord’s justice in their violent hands – you shall not escape condemnation for your sin. Whatever good may seem to result from your prideful persecution, though His chosen may turn at your threat, yet your sin will be remembered.)
“Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion.” This word is for all who understand “the message about God’s reign” Jesus comes to sow in receptive hearts. And so, “hear the word of the Lord, O nations, proclaim it on distant coasts” to all God’s “rebellious children,” to all who yet walk “in their hardhearted wickedness” – for all may now “become fruitful in the land.” (And you, brother Catholic, do you know the blessing that is upon you; do you see that you stand in the New Jerusalem?) But still the chosen are called first of all; still the Lord waits for those most blessed, to pour His new graces upon them.
Let no man’s soul be choked by “worldly anxiety”; let all come now to the Lord’s glorious throne, here in the heavenly Jerusalem.
O LORD, let us not falter along the way
but come streaming to your blessings.
YHWH, how shall we bear a fruitful yield, we who have been so rebellious? Have we not choked your Word off from our souls; are we not today void of the roots of your kingdom? Yet you remain as a Shepherd who cares for His flock, you continue in your love for us, and so you call us back to the land set aside for our flourishing – you ransom us from our sin that your City we might enter with dancing.
Open our ears to hear the Word of your Son. Open our hearts to receive your grace. Let us be planted in good soil, in the flesh of Jesus; let us be as the New Jerusalem. In the Temple of His Body let us make our home, all hardness of heart taken from us. O LORD, let us again be blessed to be your children, washed clean by the blood of the Christ.
These waters from Heaven fall upon our souls that indeed we might grow and produce an abundant harvest in your NAME, O LORD.
Wed, 22 July 2020
O seer of the Passion
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of the scourges and the nails,
of the blows and mockery
of the blood which covered
His face and all His skin…
O you who have witnessed
all His suffering
and sought so diligently
to share in it with Him –
pray that we who are so blind
to the pain and anguish
our Savior bore
under the weight of the Cross
we build by our sin
may by His grace
have our eyes opened,
and so turn from our own condemnation
to the blood of redemption
He has shed for our sakes
and take refuge in the penance
that leads all souls to the kingdom.
Wed, 22 July 2020
(Jer.2:1-3,7-8,12-13; Ps.36:6-11; Mt.13:10-17)
“They look but do not see,
they listen but do not hear or understand.”
Oh how “sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of His harvest.” And oh how they loved the Lord “as a bride,” following Him so closely. But oh how they have forgotten “the devotion of their youth” and turned from Him. For when He “brought [them] into the garden lands to eat its goodly fruits,” they did not seek Him from whom all their blessings flowed, but rather “entered and defiled [His] land,” and “made [His] heritage loathsome.” So blindly “they have forsaken [the Lord], the source of living waters [and] have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” And so, how empty of life they have become.
And so Jesus echoes Isaiah’s prophecy upon the people today, declaring it now fulfilled: “Listen as you will, you shall not understand, look intently as you will, you shall not see.” Though the Son of God stand before them, though their blessing is complete in their midst, strain as they might they cannot see what is so obvious – for “sluggish indeed is this people’s heart.” Too long have they turned their sights away from Him, and now what shall refresh their vision?
Should they not sing with David of the Lord’s glory – “How precious is your kindness, O God!” Should they not “take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings?” Does He not spread them above them this day? In Jesus should they not “have their fill of the prime gifts of [His] house”; does the Lord not “give them to drink” from this “delightful stream”? Then why are their mouths closed to receiving this precious gift offered upon His altar? Is He not the holy sacrifice of the covenant renewed? Is it not so that in drinking His blood all find life? Is He not the source of living water?
O Lord, “with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.” Awaken our hearts to see your face; let us “turn back to [you]” that you may “heal [us].” For you are Light and Life itself, and all our blessings flow from you and from your Body and Blood offered for our sakes. In your Son may we find again our home; may our hearts be open to understand your love present in our midst.
O LORD, let us be blessed
to hear your word of forgiveness,
we who have blinded ourselves to your good gifts.
YHWH, you are the fountain of life, the source of living water; in you we find all blessings. You provide for all our needs, planting us in a garden land filled with good fruits. You make us as your holy Bride – such is your love for your faithful child.
But we are not faithful to you, O LORD. We do not drink from the fountain of living water but dig for ourselves broken cisterns, the creation of our soiled hands, of our wayward hearts and minds. And so our soul languishes in a foreign land.
How shall you heal our blindness, LORD? How shall our ears open to your Word? How shall we return to you and find again your blessing? Your kindness knows no bounds and so you send your Son among us. To His teaching let us be obedient; let our hearts open before Him that we might be redeemed.
How blessed are we to have the living God in our midst, His face shining upon us, His voice speaking to our hearts… O LORD, take not your Son from us, but let us be healed by His presence.
Tue, 21 July 2020
O woman of great love
whose heart burned
with desire for the Lord,
whose soul thirsted for the living God…
the tears you cried
became the source
of the greatest joy
as from your sins the Christ released you,
as your eyes beheld
your blessed Teacher –
pray for us this day, O Mary,
that our hearts shall be set aflame
with faith and love
as we hear the news you bring us:
that our Lord is no longer in the tomb,
that He lives
and so we with Him,
that He is ascending to the Father
and we shall join Him there.
O pray His love
dispel the coldness of our hearts
that we shall be like you,
remaining with Him forever.
Tue, 21 July 2020
(Sg.3:1-4 or 2Cor.5:14-17; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Jn.20:1-2,11-18)
"Whom are you looking for?"
Let us stand with Mary Magdalene at the tomb of our risen Lord. Let us weep a little that our hearts might bleed with her same love, and so our eyes be opened to see Jesus standing before us. Let us hear Him call us by name.
O let us search night and day for our God, thirsting for Him “like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” Let us know that without Him we are lost in darkness, empty as the tomb. May it be “the love of Christ [that] impels us” further outside of ourselves and toward the Lord, allowing nothing to impede our progress as we pass every watchman, as we leave even our senses behind to become one with our lover, partaking of “the riches of [His] banquet.”
Let us “regard no one according to the flesh anymore,” not even the Christ, but release His body from our grasp that He might ascend to Heaven and we follow in His wake. A “new creation” let us be with a heart burning with love, a love that transcends all the world and discovers our Lord within.
In the shadow of [His] wings [we] shout for joy,” declaring His glory to all, for He looks upon our tears, upon every heart longing for His presence, and our desire He does not disappoint.
Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.
Music - "Cry Mercy," from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
Mon, 20 July 2020
O great preacher of the Word of God,
you who were entrusted
with this angelic office
to bring light to Christian minds
and dispel the darkness
of sin and error –
pray all souls this day
may be blessed with hearing
the Word of God you spoke so well,
that all hearts might turn in faith
to the Lord
purged by its cleansing fire.
O blessed teacher,
pray men of every tongue
be told of the truth,
that all might live
by the Spirit of God
that the renewal of the Church
and every soul
might be made complete
and the ranks of the New Jerusalem
be filled to overflowing.
Mon, 20 July 2020
(Mic.7:14-15,18-20; Ps.85:2-8; Mt.12:46-50)
“Then extending His hands to His disciples, He said,
‘There are my mother and my brothers.’”
The Lord’s blessing rests upon all who worship Him in spirit and in truth, and it comes to us primarily through the forgiveness of our sins. For the Lord extends His hands to His disciples first of all to “cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.” This is His principal work, He whose name means “God saves.” And by such compassion poured upon us, by His “treading underfoot our guilt,” we are drawn into His holy fold; we become “the flock of His inheritance” by the death that brings us life.
“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” Who indeed is like Jesus? For He dies and we live. He washes us clean of sin, and we become His children. Though we deserve His “burning anger,” He abandons not us but “[His] displeasure against us.” He “does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency,” a clemency that not only forgives but redeems – for Jesus also extends His hands to His disciples to gather them into the Father’s arms.
“You have favored, O Lord, your land; you have restored the well-being of Jacob. You have forgiven the guilt of your people; you have covered all their sins.” How shall we thank you, Lord, who “grant us our salvation”? How shall we praise you, Lord, whose “kindness” has made us your own? “Shall not your people rejoice in you?” Will we not sing of your glory forever? Will we not stand in your presence and serve you for all ages to come? “You have withdrawn all your wrath.” You “will again have compassion on us.” In you we take refuge always, as your blessed daughters and sons.
O Mother in heaven, pray for us,
that children of the Lord we shall ever remain,
doing the will of the Father as thou hast done.
O LORD, could you be kinder
than to make us your own flesh and blood?
YHWH, shepherd your people; make us as your Son’s brothers and sisters – make us as His Mother. Forgive us our sins that we might be gathered into your outstretched arms.
How kind you are to us, dear LORD, how compassionate. Who could imagine such a love as makes us one with God Himself? Who could have believed you would send your only Son, your very self, into our midst to save us and make us your inheritance? Your kindness is unsurpassable – no greater gift could we find.
Be not angry with us for our sins this day, O LORD, but grant us your mercy as you do for all your children who turn to you. Make us your disciples, truly brothers and sisters of Jesus, one with the Blessed Mother and all the saints. Into your kingdom let us come; let us pasture on your holy mountain.
How blessed are we when your anger is passed, dear LORD. Let us be your flock, living in your peace even this day.
Sun, 19 July 2020
O suffering shepherd
for your work of evangelization,
you ever continued to preach the faith
and convert multitudes
despite all the tortures
the ravenous beasts of this earth
a true apostle you proved to be,
martyred even as Christ’s Twelve –
how shall we find
a measure of your conviction,
of your persistence
in spreading the Gospel of the Lord?
Pray for us, blessed shepherd,
that we who are weak of will
and so fearful
of the slightest disturbance
to our comfort and ease
shall learn by God’s grace
to give our lives
as freely as you
in the service of man’s salvation.
Sun, 19 July 2020
(Mic.6:1-4,6-8; Ps.50:5-6,8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.12:38-42)
“The Lord has a plea against His people,
and He enters into trial with Israel.”
“God Himself is the judge,” brothers and sisters. And so He declares: “Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” All are brought before His throne, and all must “present [their] plea” in His presence.
And what shall we say on that Day? Will you “come before Him with holocausts, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil?” Hear His word to His people: it is not these the Lord desires. It is not the sacrifices offered in the temple built by human hands the Lord seeks of His chosen ones. The temple He has destroyed, and with it the vain works of the flesh. It is now the Lord’s desire that you but “walk humbly with your God.” And so He promises: “To Him that goes the right way I will show the saving power of God,” and proclaims, “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me.”
Oh how we should praise Him! He who is “greater than Jonah” and “greater than Solomon.” Oh how we should repent and reform our lives at His preaching! Oh how we should walk in the light of His wisdom! But are we not too often like those who offer vain sacrifice and seek to have our eyes impressed by some extraordinary sign? The sign stands before us. But all too often we are as faithless and blind as the scribes and Pharisees in our gospel today.
What a terrible thought that we might be condemned for our lack of faith by the “citizens of Nineveh” and “the queen of the South,” who needed so little, really, to believe in the greatness of the Lord. Has He not “brought [us] up from the land of Egypt”? Has He not released us from “the place of slavery”? Why do we so soon forget what the ancients knew by much less? Is not Jesus in our midst this day?
Let us not be blind to His presence, and let us not offer our sacrifice unworthily. For here before us stands the Lord of all; into our souls and bodies we receive Him by Word and by Sacrament. All He asks of us is our faith. And will we believe Him? Or is our worship only on the tongue and not burning in our heart? Let Him not find you faithless this day.
O LORD, teach us your way of humility;
let us seek only to be as you.
YHWH, how can we seek a sign from you when it is we who should be offering a sign to you, and more than a sign – our very lives. For your Son comes to us bringing salvation to our souls and teaching us the way to find it; should we not repent of our sin, rend our hearts before Him, and praise you for your mercy this day?
But we have not faith, LORD, and so we come only with vain sacrifices, mere words on our lips and a heart seeking our own will to be done. We would create you – but it is you who have created us! You have created us and you would redeem us, and so you enter into trial with us to see if we shall merit your love. Bring our sins up before our eyes, that by your grace we might turn from them and walk humbly with you.
Why should we even need your Son to be buried in the earth, LORD? Should our faith not recognize you before us without such a sign? Ah, but we are blind, so blind. Discipline us in your love that we might reform our lives and find the way to you.
Sat, 18 July 2020
(Ws.12:13,16-19; Ps.86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Rom.8:26-27; Mt.13:24-43)
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Such are the Lord’s instructions to the harvesters, His angels that come “at the end of the age,” when “just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,” so will “all who cause others to sin and all evildoers” be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Though the Lord is a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity”; though He is “good and forgiving… attend[ing] to the sound of [our] pleading” and “permit[ting] repentance for our sins” – though while the grass grows He is patient and waits for the weeds which have been sown to turn to Him, yet the time of harvest shall come: the time to judge the living and the dead. And so it is that the One who is “lenient toward all” shall reveal to all that indeed He does “show [His] might when the perfection of [His] power is disbelieved.” The obstinate of heart shall not remain forever; sin must be burnt with fire, and so those who cling to it and its sower, the evil one.
There is time. There is time and He who has “the cure of all” reveals indeed that “the just must be kind.” But the end presses on; it is upon us. And the time and lenience granted those who toil vainly for the evil one will but serve to prove their deserving of the Lord’s inevitable justice. They will but harden themselves further, to their own perfection of sin, meriting in the end the undeniable punishment of the loving and just One.
And the same is true of the just themselves. The time given by our gracious God, though it seem troublesome for the weeds of sin that prick our hearts, is but a means of proving, is but a refinement of the perfection of our God’s love within us. And so we must be patient as the tree does grow, acceptant of the pains it brings. And so we must but watch as the leaven rises, and we with it come to Christ. Yes, “the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit.” Take confidence in this. Just as the Lord knows the path to perdition the wicked sow within their souls, so He knows clearly the hope we have for heaven. And all shall reach their perfection in Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, in your greatness have mercy on our souls
and let us grow unto your kingdom.
YHWH, you are all good and all powerful, holding all the world in your loving hand; yet though you are kind and desire the repentance of every soul, your justice and love call for the punishment of evil.
Your angels shall go out at the end of the age and they shall do your holy will, gathering your just ones into your kingdom but burning with fire those who cause others to sin. This is but right, LORD; this is but kindness itself – that like should go to like and so the desire of hearts be fulfilled. Indeed, let those who set their hearts on evil come to evil, and those who set their hearts on you come to good.
You are patient, LORD; you give us time that we might grow to the perfection set for our lives. No soul is plucked up before his time – none comes to his end without opportunity to change his life. For you are gracious, you are kind, and your power you use for mercy’s sake. Let us turn to you this day and find the fire of your Spirit at work in our hearts.
Fri, 17 July 2020
O servant of the sick
whose compassionate heart
melted at the sight
of every suffering soul,
who constantly visited Christ
as He lay in hospital…
how deep was your charity,
how complete your love and dedication
to the poor –
pray that we too shall leave
the cares of the world behind
and have only concern
for serving Christ
and our fellow man;
pray the hard hearts of this age
will be saved by the Lord’s grace
even as they look upon Him
in the face of those in need.
How shall we match your stature,
which was so like Jesus’ own;
how shall we find perfect charity,
taking the Lord into our homes?
Pray our hearts be set on Him alone.
Fri, 17 July 2020
(Mic.2:1-5; Ps.10:1-4,7-8,12,14; Mt.12:14-21)
“When the Pharisees were outside
they began to plot against Jesus
to find a way to destroy Him.”
Is it not of these David sings when he declares, “He lurks in ambush near the villages; in hiding he murders the innocent; his eyes spy upon the unfortunate”? And though He withdraw from them this day, though He will silently subject Himself to torture and death at their hands, be assured that the Lord is “planning against this race an evil from which [they] shall not withdraw [their] necks.”
“Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches.” And what greater woe can there be than for the one who plots disaster upon the head of the Chosen One? These are they who would “cheat [the] owner of his house, a man of his inheritance”; for here is the One of whom Isaiah prophesies in the name of the Lord: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight.” Yet by “cursing, guile, and deceit” these would steal the inheritance of the only Son. But the Lord shall not “stand aloof” forever, and over these soon “shall be sung… a plaintive chant: ‘Our ruin is complete, our fields are portioned out among our captors.’” What the Lord has promised He has accomplished in wresting the House of God from the disobedient and placing it in the hands of His children of light.
Now the Lord does “proclaim justice to the Gentiles.” And we who suffer with Him, we “the afflicted, who are caught in the devices the wicked has contrived,” rejoice in the knowledge that “judgment is made victorious” in Him – “on [Him] the unfortunate man depends,” and his fortunes are made prosperous as the Lord’s own.
“‘There is no God,’ sums up his thoughts,” the evil one who turns from the Lord. But the One they kill is God Himself, whose patient endurance of their crown of thorns shall bring the wicked to ruin. Caught in their own snares, “misery and sorrow” shall be theirs forever, even as the Lord and His anointed find release from the plots of men and are gathered into the kingdom of heaven.
The beast is slain by a word from His mouth, opened on that Day; though silent now His redeeming Word goes forth to the ends of the earth, setting free all suffering prisoners.
O LORD, we find our hope in you,
for you save the poor and afflicted soul
even as you destroy his wicked tormentors.
YHWH, look upon the afflicted who are pursued as was your Son; you see our misery and sorrow – save us from the plottings of men.
The greedy and deceitful you will thwart, O LORD. The violent you will destroy. You will save your poor ones who cry out to you; the plans of the wicked will not succeed.
Though your Son is captured by their snares, though the hands of men take hold of His body and nail it to the Cross, they will find, O LORD, they cannot touch His Spirit, and that Spirit will bring them to ruin.
On the third day He rises from the dead, LORD, and so we shall rise with Him. Though trodden down and deprived of our earthly possessions, yet forever we shall live in the riches of Heaven.
Silently let your Word go forth now, LORD, calling all to repentance and healing. All you give opportunity to turn to you – crush us not till we know your mercy upon our souls.
Thu, 16 July 2020
(Is.38:1-8,21-22; Is.38:10-12,16-17; Mt.12:1-8)
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall
and prayed to the Lord.”
“When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: ‘Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die.’” When the Jewish race was about to perish for lack of love, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the Pharisees and declared, “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” And if they heed not His word, they indeed shall die.
But will what occurred “in those days” with the king of Judah recur with these leaders of the Jews? Will they, too, turn their face to the wall and cry out to the Lord? For there is a greater threat than “the hand of the king of Assyria” upon their race now. Here is a greater threat than death. The condemnation they cast so freely upon “innocent men” now begins to overshadow their souls.
“To the gates of the netherworld I shall be consigned for the rest of my years,” Hezekiah cries out; and indeed his fears shall be realized in these. For they “shall see no more the Lord in the land of the living” if they refuse to see Him here as He stands before them. They shall know no longer the mercy that sustains all life if they harden their hearts to Him who holds that mercy in His flesh and blood.
The Lord seeks to open their eyes and their hearts to the power and love of God. By their own Scripture and history and law He proves their judgment wrong, asking, “Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry…? Have you not read in the law how the priests on temple duty can break the sabbath without incurring guilt?” But yet would they condemn King David and the temple priests, placing their own judgment over the law of the love of God.
I fear for them, brothers and sisters, as for all who are obstinate of heart. For here are the chosen of God. Here are those graced with the Lord’s promise. But what shall become of their blessing if they reject the Promise when He stands before them? What shall become of those who turn the grace of God to empty wind? Oh how their bones shall rot! Oh how the fears of Hezekiah shall be fulfilled! Oh that they could hear the words the Lord speaks to His repentant king: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.” Oh that they would know the mercy of God.
To Him may all come, for He who stops the sun and moves it back upon its course indeed holds all in His loving hands. The Temple of the Lord is here.
O LORD, you raise us up from death,
from condemnation for our sins,
for you are the LORD our God.
YHWH, have mercy on our poor, judgmental souls, for we have come close to death because of our sins, for the lack of mercy we have shown. But you are not like us, for you have pity on those who cry out to you, on those who hunger for your food – hear us as we cry to you this day for your forgiveness upon our souls, that even this day we might live in your sight.
Our sins would have cut off our life, LORD; our disobedience but brings us to the nether world. But Jesus is Son of Man and God like you and He walks amongst us as your mercy, seeking to redeem our fallen souls from the grave we have made by our transgressions. And He brings us new life.
O LORD, let the days be turned back that we might make amends for our past sins, that we might have years to reform our lives and set our house in order for your Son’s return. If you had not mercy upon us, we would already be dead, doomed by our disobedience. But remember us and make us faithful and wholehearted in your sight; feed us with the Bread of life.
Wed, 15 July 2020
O Mother of contemplation
who heard the Word of God
and kept it,
pondering its wonder
in your heart,
you who were so faithful
to His call
and remain ever in His presence –
how shall we know our Lord
if you do not pray for us,
if you do not intercede
for souls so blinded
by the distractions
of a fallen world?
Our prayers are with you, dear Mother,
who pray as one with our dear Lord,
who are so one with Him
in body and soul,
who stand at His side this day
in the kingdom of Heaven…
There on His holy mountain
help us to make our home.
Wed, 15 July 2020
(Is.26:7-9,12,16-19; Ps.102:13-21; Mt.11:28-30)
“The Lord looked down from His holy height,
from heaven He beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
Yes, “we cried out in anguish under [His] chastising. As a woman about to give birth… we conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind.” Empty were our works; dead in sin were we. But the Lord took pity on His people. Though “oppressed by [His] punishment” and as prisoners in chains, the time arrived for Him to “arise and have mercy on Zion.” And so He sent His Son.
“My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you.” Because even in death His faithful set their hearts on Him and make Him the “desire of [their] souls,” He comes. “He has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer.” Though afflicted by sin, the Lord looks upon our tears; and His heart breaks with ours, and the light walks among us… and Jesus comes. And Jesus comes.
Hear the words of our Lord: “Your souls will find rest.” He promises us His peace. Though heavy burdened with the weight of this dark world, He is here to save us. How do we find such peace? How do we find release from the prison in which we are confined? Heed His instruction; “take [His] yoke upon your shoulders and learn from [Him].” And what is this yoke in which you will find your freedom? It is nothing else but the cross.
The Lord has looked down from heaven; He has sent His Son forth from His throne. And what does He come bearing “to release those doomed to die”? Yes, it is a cross He carries. Our sins and our pain He takes upon Himself. Only through this instrument of salvation, only through the flesh of Christ fastened to the wood – only by the nails which pierce His hands and feet are we brought life. For He cries with us in anguish: He dies with us in pain. And the Lord’s pity is realized, the mercy of God fulfilled… and washed are we in this blood from sin, and our cry thus taken away.
And we must do the same as He. We must die, too. We must unite ourselves to His cross, and let Him take all pain from our souls. And so we shall be whole. And so the cry shall be no more. And so we shall never die. “Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust,” for your “corpses shall arise.”
O LORD, we were doomed to die
but you heard our cry
and sent your Son to save us by His Cross –
let us share in His mercy this day.
YHWH, have mercy on Zion, on your children who cry out to you in the night, in the night that is our life in this world. Regard the prayer of your poor ones; look down from your holy height and have pity on us. Send your Son to save us from our pain, from our sin, by the grace of the Cross He bears.
We have given birth to wind, O LORD. In vanity we have lived our lives. But we look to you to redeem us from such emptiness, from the darkness which besets our hearts. You bring peace to us; your Son grants us the salvation we could not achieve on our own. O let us take up His gentle yoke that we might find rest for our souls.
Thank you for your mercy, Jesus, for coming among us in gentleness and humility and carrying our burden of pride away. Let us come to you now, as you call us; let us find the refreshment you offer in your Cross. Upon our shoulders let us take your light burden, that we might know your judgment is removed from us in the sacrifice you have made.
Tue, 14 July 2020
O good doctor
who taught the way to God
by death to things outside the Cross,
by resting with Christ
in the tomb
that we might pass
from this world to the Father –
pray our passions
indeed be silenced
that the fire of God
will carry our soul
to Him who is beyond
the operations of our mind;
pray our surrender to Him
may be complete
and the Holy Spirit lead us
in loving flame
to the kingdom.
Where is the longing of our soul
and who will assist us on the journey?
Speak to our hearts this day, good teacher,
from your place in His radiant presence.
Tue, 14 July 2020
(Is.10:5-7,13-16; Ps.94:5-10,14-15; Mt.11:25-27)
“Shall He who instructs nations not chastise,
He who teaches men knowledge?”
Again we learn the basic teaching of the Lord: The exalted are humbled and the humbled exalted. In our first reading “the Lord of hosts” promises to “send among His fat ones leanness” – condemning Assyria for the pride it takes in its “own power”; and in our gospel Jesus “offer[s] praise” to His “Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” declaring, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.” “Judgment shall again be with justice,” for the Lord shall raise those who have been “trample[d] down” even as He topples the pride of the wicked.
Assyria boasts, “I am shrewd” and proclaims itself “a giant.” But truly he is a fool who exalts himself above the power of the Lord and does not see that all things are done only in Him. Yes, with what wisdom Isaiah speaks when he questions: “Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?” and, could a rod “sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood”? How clearly he exposes the foolishness of the vain boasting of those who are mighty in their own eyes.
And how well his lesson leads to Jesus’ own. “Everything has been given over to [Jesus] by [His] Father”: all power is in our Lord’s hands. And when He states, “No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son – and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him,” what is He saying but that no one comes to the Father, no one receives any blessing of the Father’s power and love, unless He humbles himself before Jesus who is the Chosen One? Nothing of God can anyone know, nothing of His power can we share – no salvation is found at all unless we come to Him as a child.
“Shall He who formed the ear not hear? Or He who formed the eye not see?” Do you believe your vision greater than His own? “Understand, you senseless ones among the people; and, you fools, when will you be wise.” For though these puffed-up souls “murder” “the fatherless” with their tongue, though “widow and stranger they slay” in their wicked deceit, the truth shall not escape them: justice shall indeed come. And as “the upright of heart… follow it” – follow the Lord of all to eternal glory – for those who take pride in their own power, “instead of His glory there will be kindling like the kindling of fire.” Know this, you who are slow to believe.
O LORD, let us be as your children,
doing your will in all humility.
YHWH, what greater knowledge can we have than to know you who know all things? Of what worth is our wisdom apart from you and your blessing? Vainly we toil upon this earth, seeking our own gain and falling into wickedness – reveal yourself to us that we might be raised from our blindness. Else we shall surely die.
Trusting in our own power, what a fateful path we tread, O LORD, for then we walk further and further from you, and so further and further from true light. In darkness we can but end, putting our faith thus in creatures. But if we turn to you, our Creator, and recognize your power over us, then we shall be blessed by your love, for then we shall enter your presence. Then we shall be doing your will and sharing in your wisdom, and so finding your light.
From all our wickedness let us turn, O LORD, by the grace of your chastisement, and let us be as children before you, obedient to your Word and so sharing in your life.
Mon, 13 July 2020
O wise virgin
so willing to leave your people behind
to wed the only One
who could win your heart,
the Lord Jesus Christ,
you were not swayed
by punishment or persecution
to renounce Him whom you loved
but remained humble and diligent
in your chastity and poverty and penance,
sleeping on thorny mats
for your Bridegroom and your persecutors –
pray we too will be led into the desert,
into the wilderness where God speaks,
that we, too, might be espoused to Him
and wait patiently for His coming,
when all our scarred faces
will be transformed as yours by His glory.
Pray every tribe and tongue and nation
will come in innocence before the Lord
and so be adopted
as sons and daughters
of the great King.
Mon, 13 July 2020
(Is.7:1-9; Ps.48:2-9; Mt.11:20-24)
“Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!”
“Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail.” For “great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God” and “renowned is He as a stronghold.” But the faithless shall be as the rebellious nations which came against the Lord and His anointed: these “shall not stand” but “shall be crushed.” Though “the kings assemble, [though] they come on together” against the “city of the great King,” they shall be seized with “quaking,” with “anguish, like a woman’s in labor.” They shall be “stunned, terrified, routed.”
And so Jesus proclaims His rebuke of Capernaum and the other “towns where most of His miracles had been worked.” So His severe reproach echoes to all faithless hearts, hearts which have refused His mercy, who have turned from His wonders: “I assure you, it will go easier for Sodom than for you on the day of judgment.” Sodom was burned with fire. There is no city greater known for sin than this profligate place which sought even the rape of the angels. And so, what shall be the fate of those who turn now from the preaching of Jesus, from His holy presence among us? What shall become indeed of the baptized who reject the grace at work in their souls? One can only shudder to think of the horrors built up by such turning away, by such “failure to reform.”
O Lord, how often I have turned from you; how little of your grace I have treasured in my soul. How little faith have I. And so, how I fear your mighty hand, your perfect, absolute light. Who shall stand in the purity of your love? Who can know your holiness? My heart condemns me of my sin; “in sackcloth and ashes” I come before you, seeking the strength found only in your touch. Send me not “down to the realm of death” but lift this faithless soul to your side. Let me fear no attack of the world. Enable me to stand in your light.
O LORD, make us your House, faithful and true,
that we might find your protection and glory.
YHWH, let us be your House, your holy City, faithful to you and so finding your secure protection and your blessing unto Heaven. Help us to reform our lives that we might be made entirely in your image.
Great are you, O LORD, and worthy of all our praise and worship. You alone are God and to you alone should we be devoted. It is you in whom we find our hope, you who are our stronghold. With you as our God, all our enemies flee before us, for it is you who fight for us against all the evils of this world.
For your miracles let us praise you, LORD; let us never be blind to your hand at work in our midst. Let us not be as ungrateful sons failing to recognize your goodness to us and the provisions you make for our inheritance. Let us rather be as your only Son, turning always to you and to the fulfillment of your will. Then we shall be like Him in your kingdom, seated with all your angels and saints around your holy throne. You alone are our King; let our enemies tremble before you.
Sun, 12 July 2020
O you who were king and emperor
yet set your sights
on the reign of Heaven
and the reform and upbuilding
of the Church on earth,
who dedicated yourself
to the Lord of all
and service of His apostles –
pray our cares and responsibilities
will not distract us
of our God and His mercy
but that we shall indeed
and all our lives
into the hands of our Savior,
that He might dispose of them and us
as He sees fit.
Pray our kingdom not be of this earth
but of Heaven
and that we shall make our home
at the foot of the throne
of the Almighty.
Sun, 12 July 2020
(Is.1:10-17; Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt.10:34-11:1)
“Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!”
Elsewhere in Scripture we read, “The Lord chastises those whom He loves” (Heb.12:6), and this truth is made evident in our readings today. The Lord commands us through the prophecy of Isaiah, “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” Our psalm continues the same theme, declaring again in the voice of God, “You hate discipline and cast my words behind you.” And the lesson is fulfilled in Jesus’ own admonishment: “Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”
How difficult for many to hear Jesus’ words: “My mission is to spread, not peace, but division.” How in conflict with their image of a pleasant Jesus placed so neatly in a politically proper box. How they would anesthetize themselves against the suffering of the cross. But the same Spirit who speaks through Isaiah, proclaiming, “Hear the word of the Lord, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!” is He who speaks through the Son, who Himself condemns the towns that do not receive His preaching and presence to a worse fate than these infamous cities. Our Lord is no less offended by “worthless offerings” and “octaves with wickedness.” He is no more deaf to our disobedience or blind to our sin. In fact, as He is the fulfillment of the love of God in the forgiveness and grace He offers all, so He is the fulfillment of God’s justice in the ultimate judgment of every soul.
“I will correct you by drawing [your sins] up before your eyes,” the Lord declares through our psalmist. And does not Jesus call the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” (Mt.12:34)? Does He not call Peter “Satan” (Mt.16:23)? Does He not open all our eyes to the sin upon our souls to save us from final damnation? If He did not do this, could He say He loves us? Is it not by this cross placed firmly upon our backs that we rise from the sin weighing down our hearts? Otherwise, would we not drown in sorrow?
Brothers and sisters, do not try to ration away your cross by vain supposition. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing who would convince you there remains no place for the wood, for the blood. The world is ever and more a place of sin, and the devil ceases not to lead souls to perdition. Be warned by the Lord of all. Stand chastised in His love. Wash yourselves clean of all pride and vanity; be not as he who “brings himself to ruin.” You are called to be the Lord’s image in the world; and the Word made flesh ends His life on earth fixed to a cross. Accept His gift of love.
O LORD, let us be brought to nothing for you;
let all the sin within us die
that we might be your disciples.
YHWH, let us welcome you and your Word and those who bring it to us. Though your Word is hard, it is our means of salvation, for only the Son’s Cross leads to life; only your chastisement will break our hardened hearts. O let us love you above all others!
We are sinful, LORD, pretending a love that is empty and false. And so, what do we merit but condemnation for our turning our hearts from you? No better than the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah, our house is full of wickedness, our hands full of blood. We do all but to please ourselves; our sacrifices are but to feed our bellies, and so are no sacrifice at all. Bring our sins up before our eyes! that we might see and turn away from them.
Your sword, O LORD, your sword alone will separate us from our sinful deeds. Your Word alone will save our souls. Let us cherish your discipline as once we treasured the vain things of this world. The word of your prophets let us desire that we might receive a prophet’s reward.
Sat, 11 July 2020
(Is.55:10-11; Ps.65:10-14,Lk.8:8; Rom.8:18-23; Mt.13:1-23)
“The seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit.”
Comes the Word of God. To our eyes, to our ears. A seed sown within our hearts. May it find rich soil in which to grow, that we might know “the redemption of our bodies.”
“The rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth… so shall [God’s] word be that goes forth from [His] mouth.” For indeed it makes the earth “fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats”: it nourishes the expectant soul and provides seed for its increased growth. All is given life by the Word of God.
What Isaiah prophesies, David sings – “You prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.” And by this grace which falls from heaven, consuming the manna which is its fruit, His children know the “bounty” of the Lord; for His “paths overflow with a rich harvest.” Hardly can we contain the blessings of “the valleys blanketed with grain.”
Jesus has come. The Lord has “visited the land and watered it.” The grace of God is in our midst in heavenly flesh and blood. And we are left dumb; for the Word of God indeed silences our tongue. What can we say as we see His fields coming to life? How can we speak of the beauty of a land bathed in light? Deeply into our souls His words do fall, and we awaken, we arise as His children of light, beginning now to understand the blessing at our fingertips, the redemption we do find in the Body and Blood of Christ. And though we “groan within ourselves,” we know these are the “labor pains” of growth. For in this cleansing rain purging our hearts we come to be “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
What a wonderful word we have from our Lord: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.” What a promise He makes to those who gaze upon that which the prophets longed to possess: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.” And so, what confidence we who are granted “knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” should have in His grace-filled Spirit; and what fruit we should thus bear, even to life everlasting.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Listen through the Music" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let your rain fall upon us
that we might bear fruit in your Name;
let us hear your Word and answer your call.
YHWH, make us fertile and fruitful. Open our hearts to receive your Word; let it sink deep within us and grow by your grace. Your grace is as the rain which waters hearts set on your will. May we indeed receive your abundant gifts, O LORD, and yield a rich harvest in your Name.
So blind are our eyes, dear LORD, so dull our hearts. We are deaf to your Word as we set our sights on the things of this world. The devil easily enters in and steals from us that which we neither have nor desire. But you come to us in your compassion to teach us, to open our ears to your Word that we might be as the untilled meadows, the fields no human hand has touched, which produce fruit in abundance by your grace.
The first fruits of the Spirit we now have as a gift from you, LORD. Yet we await the fullness of your blessings; yet we groan in pain as still we need to grow in you. Set us free from all slavery to corruption that we might share in the glorious freedom of your children of light. May our fruit be worthy of your kingdom.
Fri, 10 July 2020
O monastic father
who led the way into the desert
where the Lord speaks to men’s hearts,
where He calls souls to perfect worship,
putting Christ before all else
and treating others as He Himself…
O you who prayed most perfectly,
you who knew God so intimately –
pray that our distracted minds
will somehow be conformed
to listening for His voice
and answering His call
to serve Him with all our lives.
Help us, dear brother,
dear father in the faith,
to find our dwelling place
in the kingdom,
to live so completely
according to God’s Word,
that with great fervor,
with overflowing love,
we may accomplish His will
and join you in His presence.
Fri, 10 July 2020
(Is.6:1-8; Ps.93:1-2,5; Mt.10:24-33)
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,’
they cried one to the other.
‘All the earth is filled with His glory.’”
Hear the angels’ song. It is their praise, which fills the heavens like fragrant incense, that our psalmist proclaims: “The Lord is king, in splendor robed; robed is the Lord and girt about with strength.” Exalted is the majesty of the Father in heaven, upon whom no eye can gaze, and so of His Son. And rightly does the prophet Isaiah – “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips” – fear having seen “the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of His garment filling the temple.”
And should we not fear Him, too? Should we not fear the glorious Son in whose light we dwell and in whose steps we follow? Do we realize His Majesty? Do we somehow presume to outrank our teacher, or are we as the pupil who is “glad to become like his teacher, the slave like his master”? If humbled before the Lord of all, we shall fear nothing of this world. Fearing Him who “can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna,” any power of the devil becomes as nothing in our sight. For we know our God holds every “single sparrow” in His Hand, and we “are worth more than a flock of sparrows.”
The Lord sends “one of the seraphim” to touch the lips of the prophet with an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.” (So holy is the Lord that even the angels cannot touch His fire with their hands.) And so Isaiah’s “wickedness is removed, [his] sin purged.” And so he is sent, in turn, to proclaim the Word of God. First he must be purified; first we all must be purged of sin, for indeed “holiness befits [His] house” – holiness alone may stand in His presence, and only the tongue cleansed of stain can “speak in the light” the truth of our God. And as the prophet speaks, as the psalmist sings, so are we sent to proclaim the glory of “the King, the Lord of hosts.”
“Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord.” You alone are holy. What can we pray but that the earth be filled with your glory, but that we shall enter your house and praise your name all the days we are blessed with life? Make us holy as thou art.
O LORD, you are the Almighty God
and we are your sons;
and so, how blessed we are to die with Jesus.
YHWH, holiness befits your house and only those who are holy enter there. And it is only you who can make us holy, for you alone are holy. O Jesus, acknowledge us before your Father; let us never be disowned.
O LORD, let our lips be cleansed that we might sing your praise and so be found worthy to join your choir of angels in Heaven. Send your angel to touch our lips with a coal from the fire of your altar; let your Holy Spirit descend upon us to sanctify our souls. How else shall we look upon you? How else shall we become as you are?
Your house is filled with your glory, LORD, with the smoke rising from your holy altar. Let our prayers be offered on that altar, our very lives be immolated with your Son that as incense they may rise before you. O let us proclaim your glory from the housetops and die with you in that same glory. Praise to you, our Creator and Redeemer, and our Sanctifier! Holy are you, O LORD!
Thu, 9 July 2020
(Hos.14:2-10; Ps.51:3-4,8-9,12-14,17; Mt.10:16-23)
“O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
Hosea instructs the Israelites, “Take with you words, and return to the Lord,” and this David does in his psalm of sorrow. In “sincerity of heart” he begs the Lord’s forgiveness for his sin and finds that the Lord creates “a clean heart” for him. “In [Him] the orphan finds compassion,” and so the humbled king receives the Lord’s cleansing grace.
Because the Lord does “forgive all iniquity, and receive[s] what is good,” so we find that Hosea’s prophecy – “He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots” – is fulfilled in His Church today. We indeed “blossom like the vine”: the vine of Christ covers the earth. And though “straight are the paths of the Lord,” though Jesus’ blunt words to His disciples – “You will be hated by all on account of me” – are realized in all who are “brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them and the Gentiles”… though persecution, the cross, be an inevitable part of every Christian’s life, yet through it all the Church is strengthened, growing “like a verdant cypress tree.” For always it is the Lord who strengthens us; always it is “the Spirit of [our] Father… speaking in [us].” It is He who opens our lips; it is His praise we proclaim with all our words, and so what can He do but bless us? We “say no more, ‘our god,’ to the work of our hands,” and so no more do we sin. Taking refuge in the love of God, “because of [Him we] bear fruit.”
“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord. “A willing spirit sustain in me,” that your wrath might ever be “turned away,” that I might forever be purified by your grace – that the pangs I suffer never be the result of my sin but rather the blessing of sharing your cross in this world. Come, O Son of Man, and find your sheep suffering all for you. Your Word keep upon our souls.
O LORD, cleanse our hearts of sin
that you might speak through us,
that we might do your work in this world.
YHWH, wash us clean of all our sins this day that our tongues might freely praise your NAME and declare your glory to all the world, that we might be ready even to die for you. You are our salvation; you are our very life. It is only by you we bear fruit – without you we would certainly die. And so, a clean heart create in us that we might be your faithful disciples.
Speak in us this day, O LORD; in our lives let your will be done. And as we blossom by your favor let us never forget that it is by your love alone we grow. If we perform good works, it is only by your grace, for truly we deserved death for our sins but your compassion has made us new again and prepared us for our service.
The work of our hands shall not save us, LORD, but only you and your love. Let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones, even of the temple, but set our hearts and desires on you alone. Truly you hold our lives in your hands – let us have your wisdom to guide us, that we might never again turn away but ever recognize you as our Savior.
Wed, 8 July 2020
O righteous band of martyrs
united by faith in Christ and His Church
in a nation of religious oppression:
children and grandparents,
workers and teachers,
lay and ordained,
native and foreign-born…
all as one you gave your lives,
led by your convictions –
pray the Word of the Lord
come to a land so cold
to the love and worship
of Jesus, all men’s Savior.
Pray the Holy Spirit
fall like purging and redeeming fire
upon every soul in the country
where you so honorably died;
pray His power spread
and bring renewal
upon the face of all the earth.
Wed, 8 July 2020
(Hos.11:1,3-4,8-9; Ps.80:2-4,15-16; Mt.10:7-15)
“I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you.”
And He comes to us as do the disciples today, blessing each home as He enters. And “if the home is deserving, [His] blessing will descend upon it. If it is not, [His] blessing will return” to Him. Be careful to receive the blessing of the Lord, for if you reject Him, He will leave you, shaking the dust from His feet, and “it will go easier for the region of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than it will” for you.
In days past the Lord loved Israel as “a child,” drawing him “with human cords, with bands of love.” And though “they did not know that He was their healer,” though they rejected Him, His “pity [was] stirred” and He did “not give vent to [His] blazing anger.” He withheld His “flames” of wrath and offered them forgiveness. Thus Jesus is sent into our midst. For we, as Israel, have sinned. All have spurned the love of God and gone astray. But here comes the Holy One to heal us once again.
But now if we should reject Him, now if we should spurn His Son present to us, how shall we be saved? What more can the Lord God do to draw us home to His loving arms. The Lord has heard the psalmist’s plea to “look down from heaven and see,” to “take care of this vine, and protect what [His] right hand has planted.” He comes to His children wholly offering Himself for their sakes. Like the apostles, like His saints who come without money or goods but possessing everything they need and giving all this blessing freely to any who would receive it, so the Lord comes to us this day – and do we receive Him?
There is nothing more the Lord can do to save our souls: He has died for us. He has given all He has freely for our redemption. His Son walks amongst us. Enter His reign today. Accept His blessing. The day of judgment is not far from you.
O LORD, save us from the fires of hell;
obedient to your call,
let us come into your kingdom.
YHWH, let your peace be upon this House, upon your Church, upon all souls. Let none reject the grace you give as a gift to your children. Truly you love us and forgive us our sins – let us accept your healing this day.
You send forth apostles to spread your Word, to bring salvation, to bring your healing to all souls, LORD. You look upon us with pity and provide for our care, despite our failure to recognize your presence. Our sins you would remember no more, your love you would plant as a seed in the heart of our home, in our very spirits… Let us be your faithful children and cherish your reign over us!
How shall we be made worthy to be citizens of Heaven? How shall we find your blessing upon our town, upon our poor houses? Let us provide for those you send forth to serve, LORD; then we shall be welcoming you. And let us go forth ourselves as you call. Let us place our trust entirely in you and in your Word of truth, and so find all things provided for. In your House let us make our home.
Tue, 7 July 2020
(Hos.10:1-3,7-8,12; Ps.105:2-7; Mt.10:1-7)
“Jesus sent these men on mission as the Twelve.”
And in these men the Lord founds His Church, choosing “first Simon, now known as Peter,” as the Rock upon whom the Building rests, and in like fashion all the twelve apostles, upon whom He places His Spirit. And so the foundation is set. And so none can separate themselves from these and their teaching, for in them and in this Church, Jesus Himself resides. It is in their place the bishops stand; it is through these, priests are ordained. In His holy Catholic Church we find the New Jerusalem.
The Lord chose Abraham and his son Isaac, and placed His blessings upon the twelve tribes of Jacob and their descendants. He does not remove this blessing, does not break His covenant. And the Lord set up in Jerusalem His place of worship. This, too, does not change. Regardless of how corrupt the priests or kings may have been throughout the history of Israel and Judah, these remain His chosen people, and here is His temple. And when another would rise up to take the place of what God had anointed, as typified by Jeroboam’s setting up the golden calf in Samaria that the people might worship there and so not go up to Jerusalem, this pride the Lord curses. In our first reading He vows, “The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters. The high places of Aven [Iniquity] shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.” Yes, “God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars” for “their heart is false.” It is not these upon whom His Spirit rests.
Brothers and sisters, “it is time to seek the Lord,” to come into the House His hands have made – not a separate Church set up apart from His covenants but standing in fulfillment of them with the coming of Jesus as the Christ and Messiah – and realize that “the reign of God is at hand.” Here in His New Jerusalem you shall find His presence; here you shall hear His teaching transmitted through the apostles and receive the Bread of His sacrifice at their holy hands. Know that “He, the Lord, is our God” and “throughout the earth His judgments prevail.” “Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord,” for now He has come to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now through His apostles, through those who “seek to serve Him constantly,” He gathers all into the New Jerusalem – upon this House His favor remains.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, you send your apostles forth to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to gather them into the New Jerusalem, your Holy Catholic Church. Here are the pillars of your Church, here the foundation. In these Twelve you send out, the promise to Abraham is fulfilled – here are the twelve sons who will do your will.
All false gods you will destroy, LORD; all unholy altars shall be torn down. And every nation that turns from you and the call of your apostles will not enter into your reign but cry to the mountains and hills to fall upon themselves.
Save all faithful souls from such woe, O LORD. Let us see your hand at work in our midst, that we might praise your NAME. Cast all evil from our hearts, heal us of every disease, that we might be whole in your sight and so enter freely into your fold. Into your reign let us come, into the House founded on your apostles. In Spirit and truth let us worship you on your holy mountain.
Mon, 6 July 2020
(Hos.8:4-7,11-13; Ps.115:3-10; Mt.9:32-38)
“Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does.
Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men.”
In Israel, the people have turned from worship of the living God and “with their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction.” As the golden “calf of Samaria” is “destined for the flames,” so they “shall be like them, everyone who trusts in them.” So empty are the lives of those who worship wood and stone, and to inevitable destruction do they come. That which we make rots; only what is made by God endures.
How the Lord Jesus contrasts with the false and empty gods worshiped by the nations: where they are dead, He is alive. He alone is able to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone walks the earth with a heart that is “moved with pity.” He alone reveals the living God and enables us thereby to see and hear and smell and feel. He alone gives us strength to walk this earth and do His work. Their gods are mute – “they have mouths but they speak not.” But He takes the “mute who was possessed by a demon” and enables him to speak. It is He who gives us our souls, who renews our spirit.
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” the crowds exclaim as they witness the glory of God in their midst. It is as if they shout, “God is alive!” and come to faith in His presence. For here He breathes upon them; here His heart beats in their hearing. In Jesus all see the wonders of the Father in heaven come to earth and made real before their eyes. Such is God’s will – to bring heaven to earth. Such is His great grace – to send us His only Son. And what can we do but rejoice at the works of the Lord; what can we do but join Him in such labor?
“He shall remember their guilt and punish their sins,” those who harden their hearts against Him and trust in the wisdom of their own minds and the works of their own hands. For only the works wrought by His hands, through His living Spirit, are genuine, are true – are alive. All else dies. So let us leave off any empty sacrifice, any false worship not accomplished in the House of God. There is but one God and one Church through which He works, and only by what He has established will we know the grace and freedom of the living Lord of all. Only in Jesus’ Body and Blood do we find the life that yields lasting grain.
O LORD, open our mouths
that we might speak of your glory,
you who are the living God.
YHWH, open our mouths that we might sing your praise, and never again call upon false gods. Your Spirit alone dwell in us this day, and we shall again be your blessed children.
O LORD, how could we be so fooled as to worship wood and stone, or other more modern images made by our own hands? What we see on the TV screen is not real, yet we give it precedence over living souls. Our desire is set on such empty illusions, on such dead matter, and so we die of hunger far from you. And so we lie prostrate from exhaustion, from chasing the vain contrivances of our corrupted minds.
But you come to save us, LORD, from such empty worship of these no-gods, from these pursuits which sap our strength, which but blind our eyes and leave us without tongues for speaking the truth. You send laborers forth to relieve our dying spirits; you come into our midst each day to feed us with Jesus’ Body and Blood, that we might not fade away in our vanity but be revived by His sacred presence. Let us stand and walk with you who are life itself!
Sun, 5 July 2020
O perpetual virgin
who defended your purity
even with your life
and so earned the crown
at a tender age…
O bride of Christ
who prayed even for your murderer
and so served to inspire
his conversion –
pray for us, too, dear child;
pray the lust and violence
so prevalent in this world of sin,
and in our own hearts,
be purged from our midst
that we, too, might turn
and find the purity
O pray innocence and chastity
overtake this age
and all souls stand
in the light of Christ.
Sun, 5 July 2020
(Hos.2:16-18,21-22; Ps.145:2-9; Mt.9:18-26)
“When the crowd had been put out
He entered and took her by the hand,
and the little girl got up.”
How like Hosea’s prophecy today is the Lord’s raising of Jairus’ daughter in our gospel. For the Lord speaks through His prophet, saying, “I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart,” and Jesus does this when He puts the crowd out of the house before whispering to the little girl to arise. And as the Lord declares in our first reading, “I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy,” so Jesus takes the hand of the child, wedding His Spirit unto her own; and so, as the redemption is promised Israel in her again calling the Lord, “My husband,” so Jairus’ daughter stands and walks in the light of Christ.
“She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,” it is said of the Lord’s chosen nation. With the faith of a child all shall be raised. And as the Savior covers the “woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve [full] years” with the edge of His cloak, taking her into His wedding chamber and so immediately healing her flow of blood, so Jesus would make us all His own; so in His grace and love He would enter all our souls and make us one with Him. And so would all find themselves “restored… to health,” His blood alone coursing through our veins.
“I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord,” our God declares. And knowing the Lord, being wed unto Him in the depths of our hearts where He speaks, promising us His love, what can we do but “praise [His] name forever and ever” with David His king? What can we do but “speak of the splendor of [His] glorious majesty and tell of [His] wonderful works”? For “great is the Lord and highly to be praised,” and His Spirit wed to our own we are overwhelmed by the glory of His presence and cannot help but declare our love for Him who has loved us above all.
Listen to His voice, brothers and sisters; let Him enter your hearts and make you His own. And you shall be raised from the death of sin unto His glorious majesty. Yes, may news of His grace circulate among all; let us “publish the fame of [His] abundant goodness and joyfully sing of [His] justice,” for He speaks now to our souls.
O LORD, speak to our hearts
that we might rise in faith with your Son,
and so praise your glory.
YHWH, you come to us in quiet places and whisper in our ear to rise and be with you. Our souls you wed to your Spirit that we might live forever in you. Let us remain faithful to your glorious presence in our midst; with courage let us come to you to be healed.
You are merciful, LORD, and desire our good. You would see us well and walking with you. And so you call to our hearts to worship you, to make your love our sole desire.
Cover us, O LORD, with your kindness; show your compassion to our souls. And we shall rise up and praise your NAME – one with you we will extol your glory forever. For what greater gift could we find than you yourself abiding in our heart?
Let us hear your voice calling us, LORD, in the quiet, in the silence of your presence. Cast all distractions from our minds. You alone let us know and desire, and we shall find ourselves at peace in your presence. Let all the world know your abundant goodness toward your children.
Sat, 4 July 2020
O child of the Apostle Paul,
follower in his steps,
preacher of the Word
he proclaimed so completely
with his very life,
you who desired so
to bear the fruit of love in patience,
to share in the hardships of the apostles
as well as in their glory,
and led your fellow ordained
zealously to desire the same –
pray there shall be reform
in this day among our priests
and among the people of God,
that all will so zealously follow
the teaching and way of the Apostle,
which is, of course, the way of Christ:
to die, to lay down our lives,
to suffer indignation
and pray for our enemies,
all the while calling souls
to the Lord’s undying love,
to His saving blood.
Sat, 4 July 2020
O reconciler of warring sons,
tranquility in the midst
of great disturbance,
though born of royal blood
and married to a king,
the Lord you preferred
to all the riches of this world,
and so His peace
became your own –
pray we, too, may keep our hearts
set upon that which passes not away
and the peace which passes understanding;
pray our prayers be deep as your own
and reflect the same tranquility,
that those in our own families
and those under our care,
all those whom we meet
and to whom we relate,
may find the Lord’s peace
dwelling in us
with His divine charity
and so be reconciled to Him
and to one another.
Sat, 4 July 2020
(Zec.9:9-10; Ps.145:1-2,8-11,13-14; Rom.8:9,11-13; Mt.11:25-30)
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
A remarkable confluence of Scripture today, extolling the “great kindness” of our King, who comes to us “meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass,” and inviting us to take refuge in Him and in His blessed humility.
Yes, upon a beast of burden, upon the young offspring of a beast of burden comes He who bears the burden of all our sins. Not on horse or in chariot does He come, for horse and chariot He casts into the sea: by Him “the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and He shall proclaim peace to the nations.” It is not the rich and powerful of this world He dies for, it is not their stead in which He stands, for the Lord has “hidden these things from the wise and the learned” of this world and “revealed them to little ones.” This we see in the “little one” His Son has become. This we find when we imitate His sacrifice.
David’s psalm echoes the Lord’s own words – “The Lord lifts up all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down” – and Paul says the same when he declares, “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you.” For what is it to “put to death the deeds of the body,” that by the Spirit we may live, but to humble ourselves in the sight of God, to bow down before God and men and bear His light burden? For though we be crushed by the weight of labor and persecution in Jesus’ name, yet we live eternally in “His dominion [which] shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord Jesus states clearly, “I am meek and humble of heart,” and like Him, and like His Father, we are called to be. And for the grace of Him who is “compassionate toward all His works” we should “rejoice heartily” with our Savior, who exclaims today, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth”; for all His works “give [Him] thanks” and “[His] faithful ones bless [Him]” for His faithfulness. “A just savior is He,” and “the glory of [His] kingdom” and His “might” are known in His mercy, are felt in the comforting hand He stretches forth to lift up the humblest of our kind. “Praise [His] name forever and ever.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Dust" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, blessed are you,
for your Son comes to us in humility
that we might come to you in glory.
YHWH, you speak of peace to your people, the peace that comes from your Son’s humble sacrifice. May we give praise to you, Father, that He has revealed to humble hearts your blessed way.
O LORD, help us put to death the deeds of the body, that we shall live in the flesh no more. Let your Spirit overtake our souls, that we might rise with your Son from this fallen earth. We bow down before you, our LORD and our God; raise our heads to praise your NAME forever.
Your burden place upon our shoulders, dearest LORD. Your Son’s Cross is indeed light for us to bear. For it is He who carries the Cross; it is He who bears the weight of our sin. It is He who takes from us the burden of the flesh and fills us with the Spirit of light and truth. O let us take His Cross upon ourselves and rest in the glory we thus find!
Make us your little ones, LORD, humble as the only Son.
Fri, 3 July 2020
(Amos 9:11-15; Ps.85:9,11-14; Mt.9:14-17)
“I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel.”
Of the city of David, the Lord promises, “I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” Beautiful imagery is given indeed through the prophet Amos to illustrate the renewal of the land now fallen: “The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it.” Indeed, in His great grace the Lord vows, “Never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them.” And so we have prophecy of the New Jerusalem.
Our psalm continues such prophecy of the kingdom to come, declaring, “He proclaims peace to His people, and to His faithful ones… The Lord Himself will give His benefits; our land shall yield its increase.” Justice and truth shall be known in fullness, even as salvation walks “along the way of His steps.”
And these steps have been trodden in our midst. Jesus is coming and has come, bringing in Himself the new wine of the New Jerusalem, which courses like a river through all this City’s streets. Indeed His Blood flows in our veins now. Indeed we become the new wineskins that hold His abundant goodness, and so are lifted to the kingdom of heaven. John’s disciples do not yet understand. If the Lord’s own followers have difficulty seeing, it should not be surprising that those who have yet to be baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit yet find themselves preoccupied with the stipulations of a law that is passing away, a law – so embodied by the Pharisees – which is to be subsumed by the greater Law of love Jesus comes bleeding to bring into our midst.
But they shall. There can be little doubt that these followers of John and his baptism will come, with the Lord’s own disciples, and be washed in the blood that makes all things new. There is certainty that these, as even some Pharisees, shall “drink the wine” of the New Covenant, even as we do this day.
Brothers and sisters, this new wine is upon our altars even this day; before us is set the Blood that washes all clean. It is for our restoration the Lord provides this feast. Let us not refrain from partaking what He has died to bring into our midst, but let us be indeed the new wineskins filled with His Word and His Blood, and declare His salvation unto the nations.
O LORD, the wine of your Son’s blood renews us;
may we be open to receive the blessings
He pours upon us.
YHWH, you are our salvation; in your Son’s flesh let us take our refuge, of His blood let us partake. It is in Him we find our peace, in Him that our house, our own flesh, is rebuilt, redeemed for the kingdom to come, for the New Jerusalem. It is in His walking the earth that truth is known; in Him justice flows down from the heavens. In His skin let us make our home.
Your promise is great, O LORD, the promise of eternal life, the promise of bearing your NAME and so being as you are. In Jesus we see that promise before our eyes – send your Spirit to fulfill that promise in our poor lives.
O LORD, let us be rebuilt; raise us up from our ruins. It is at your hand we find our food – only by your grace do we live at all. And so, let us return to you and walk with your Son along the way of salvation. And so, let us be wed to you as your faithful ones. In you we place our hope; by you let us be made new.
Thu, 2 July 2020
O believing apostle
who declared the divinity of Jesus,
our Lord and our God,
all doubt disappears
in the light of your faith,
for we see with you
what is beyond all eyes –
pray for an increase
in our faltering faith,
that we shall indeed believe
though we do not see;
let it be as if we ourselves
have touched the nail marks
in His hands and feet
and placed our hands into His side.
So firmly let our faith be founded
that we shall reach out
to all mankind
and the truth of Christ
as the Son of God
will grow in all hearts
until that Day we see the Lord
with our own eyes.
Thu, 2 July 2020
(Eph.2:19-22; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Jn.20:24-29)
“Blest are they who have not seen and have believed.”
The faith of Thomas. By his faith we find faith. In his desire to know beyond all doubt that the Lord has risen, all our doubt is taken away, and we declare with him, “My Lord and my God!” If Thomas had not doubted so much, we would not believe so much his clear proclamation of the divinity of Jesus. As it is, we no longer have room for doubt. Indeed, Thomas’ ardent need to touch the nail marks in the Lord’s hands and sides is a cry to believe as firmly as bedrock, and indeed his declaration of faith is the strongest in all Scripture. “My Lord and my God!” In this we take refuge.
And how beautifully Paul speaks today of the faith, of the Church wherein we take refuge and dwell as one with “all the saints and members of the household of God… with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.” It is architectural fact that in the cornerstone “the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape”; first it is laid, and then the rest of the foundation extends from it, giving the foundation its direction, its form. And, of course, the entire building rests on and is supported by this cornerstone and foundation. And so is the Church. Christ is our cornerstone around which we are all formed, and the apostles, those who have seen Him and proclaimed His glory, are the foundation upon which our faith rests. And we are all one structure, all made one in faith by the apostles and, of course, by the Lord, who is present in every stone of the building.
Let us firm up our faith this day, brothers and sisters. Wherever we may be throughout the world and at whatever time, let us feel beneath our feet the solid foundation upon which we are built and the blessed cornerstone which is its very source and so the source of all the life and the faith within us. Let us indeed be “built into this temple” and so become temples ourselves, knowing the surpassing blessing of becoming “a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” “A dwelling place for God in the Spirit”: my brothers and sisters, can there be a more marvelous call? Let us have the faith of Thomas, crying out “My Lord and my God!” each day of our lives and in all we think, say, and do. Let this faith permeate our very beings and we shall find ourselves standing firmly in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His kingdom, which is beyond all that eye can see.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us be blessed to know you
with a deep faith,
and so be built into your Temple.
YHWH, how good, how kind, how faithful you are to us! For we are built into the Body of your only Son with the saints of Heaven and become as your holy Temple. What more could we ask for, what more could we desire, than to be one with your apostles, upon whose faith your Church is founded? Let us find our place in Jesus, the Christ.
You are God and your Son is God and we may become one with you, O God, if we but have faith in your surpassing glory, in your goodness and kindness toward us – in your Son who stands before us. Jesus is LORD as you are LORD and we become as you are when we praise your glory and declare your Lordship over us.
You are our LORD and our God. Jesus is our LORD and our God. May your Spirit be with us, O LORD, to fit us well into your Temple, into your Church, which rises this day on the foundation of your holy apostles. Alleluia!
Wed, 1 July 2020
(Amos 7:10-17; Ps.19:8-11; Mt.9:1-8)
“The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Amos says of himself in our first reading: “The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people, Israel.” And so he can say, “Now hear the word of the Lord!” And so he can speak for God. And so he can reveal the Lord’s will to the people, calling them to return to His presence.
Like the prophets is the law, of which David, another shepherd called by God – himself to be king – sings today in our psalm: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” As the prophets’ chastisement would bring healing to those who listen and obey the word of the Lord they impart, so the law of God is meant to bring a “fear of the Lord [which] is pure, enduring forever,” so it, too, would bring blessed healing to the wayward child, “rejoicing the heart” and “enlightening the eye.”
But the people did not listen to the prophets; they refused to obey the law of the Lord. His words they cast aside, unable to swallow them, unable to make them an enduring part of their lives. Like a cloud which passes, so ephemeral, so abstract and therefore unknown they would too often become. And so the Father sent His Son.
“Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven,” Jesus says to the “paralyzed man lying on a mat”; and this word He has come to make real in all our hearing – to all He brings forgiveness for their straying hearts. Even the stiff necks of the scribes the Lord would bring healing. The sins of the past He comes to wash away, advocating to the Father for us that we knew not what we were doing before His arrival, and come now He has to make real for us God’s presence in our midst, to take away our ignorance of the Father’s love… to enable us to stand up and walk “toward [our] home.”
Indeed, “a feeling of awe” should come over us as it did over the crowd that witnessed Jesus’ power, for the same authority resides with us now in His Church – He has not left His people abandoned. And so, come to the Lord and confess your sins, for the Lord in His grace gave “such authority to men” to act in His stead as does Christ. And now find the courage and conviction to live your life led by the Incarnate Word of God. May your soul be in the hands of the Good Shepherd.
O LORD, your Word be in our hearts and upon our lips
that we might be saved from death.
YHWH, in ancient times you gave authority to ordinary men to speak in your NAME. Simple shepherds you called to prophesy against Israel and serve you as king. In the fullness of time you sent your Son with the power to forgive men’s sins, to heal us of all our ills. And now your authority rests in your Son’s apostles, those whom He sends forth to forgive and feed your flock. May all souls come to your Church to receive grace from on high!
Who will listen to your Word, O LORD, and turn away from his sin? Who will be refreshed by your Law and find the enlightening of his eye? Who treasures the sweetness of your chastisement, who knows the mercy bleeding in the heart of Jesus…? Who of this fallen race would stand and walk with Him toward our home in Heaven?
Give us courage, dear God, that you are with us and you care for all your sons. From our exile let us be taken, that we might be held in your Hand.
Tue, 30 June 2020
O missionary of the New World
inspired to leave your classroom
and go forth to win souls for Christ,
despite continuous battles
with cold and hunger
and long journeys with an injured leg,
praying throughout the night
you persevered and stayed
with the thousands you baptized
into the fold of Mother Church,
bringing them not only the gift of faith
but better living conditions as well;
fighting ever against the military powers
that would have brought only slaughter,
you gained rights for these natives
in the missions of California –
pray we shall have
the same zeal for souls
that, thinking not of ourselves
and without concern for any suffering,
we may bear the image of our Lord
to the ends of the earth
so all might come to salvation.
Tue, 30 June 2020
(Amos 5:14-15,21-24; Ps.50:7-13,16-17,23; Mt.8:28-34)
“Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you.”
The chastising continues in our readings today. Against the people’s vain sacrifices and “noisy songs,” both Amos and our psalmist speak in the Lord’s name. In need of healing as the two men “possessed by demons” do we find ourselves in the sight of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?” comes the warning from the Lord. And is it not a word we who pray must keep constantly in our hearts? For how easy it is to fall into empty worship; how readily do we begin to offer mere lip service to our God, when it is our very souls He demands. And not for His sake does He instruct us to “let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream” – to put into practice the words we speak. He commands us to “seek good and not evil,” for “then truly will the Lord, the God of hosts, be with [us] as [we] claim.”
Indeed we claim His presence in our lives; we presume His blessing upon us as we attend Mass and read His words, each day receiving His Body and Blood and hearing His instruction. But continually we must check ourselves, for blindly do we fall into separation from the Lord, even in His house, and so may hear from His mouth: “I hate, I spurn your feasts… I take no pleasure in your solemnities.”
At these times we must come “out of the tombs” as do the demoniacs today. We must cry out to the Lord as we realize our sin. And He will be faithful to us. As He healed even these, He will cast the devils from us, too, and quickly. But first we must realize that His “are the world and its fullness,” that He needs nothing from us. First we must see that all our sacrifices do Him no good – only us. Then He “will have pity,” when we have humbled ourselves. Then He will gather us into His fold, when our hearts are set on His justice.
Let the devil be cast from your mocking lips; accept the chastising Word of God, and new life at His feet you may find, possessed of the breath of His Spirit. Then will your offerings find favor in His eyes.
O LORD, come to us and stay with us
and let us stay with you,
sharing your goodness with all,
your healing graces upon all souls.
YHWH, you are God and need nothing from us; justice alone you seek of our lives. To be as you are is your desire for us, and so you rebuke us in our wickedness.
Cast the devils from our heart, O LORD; let us never dwell in vain pride, for then we should live as if in a tomb, separated far from you and your love. Then we should know your justice.
Help us to come rightly before you and beg your mercy, LORD, to bow before your majesty. If we but recognized your greatness, your glory in our midst, and desired your rule over our wayward hearts… quickly you would come to save us – with a word from your mouth we would be redeemed.
Our words are empty, dear LORD, and our worship vain, except when you bless us with your presence, except when you take pity on our sinful state. Let your discipline bring us back to you; let us find ourselves at your feet, clothed and in our right minds. By your hand let us be fed this day – we beg you to stay with us at all times!
Mon, 29 June 2020
O first of souls to shed blood,
whose sacrifice began the great persecution,
you indeed handed your bodies over
to the mad king of this dark world,
but everlasting reward you have gained
for yourselves and for the Church;
your robes washed clean
in the blood of the Lamb,
you served to nourish the growth
of the people of God –
pray your holy offering
shall always be remembered,
that the Church in this day
and in all days
may be blessed by your witness
that you might light our path to Heaven
until our crucified Lord returns again
to gather all of faith and courage
into His redeeming arms.
Direct download: June_30_The_First_Martyrs_of_the_Holy_Roman_Church.mp3
Category:Saints -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Mon, 29 June 2020
(Amos 3:1-8,4:11-12; Ps.5:4-9; Mt.8:23-27)
“The lion roars – who will not be afraid!
The Lord God speaks – who will not prophesy!”
Yes, the Lord prophesies against Israel today like a lion rending and roaring: “You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.” He brings upon His chosen “such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: [they are] like a brand plucked from the fire.” In no uncertain terms does He cry out through Amos – “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”
A frightening prospect indeed it is which is presented to us in our readings. Here is the Lord God coming to take vengeance on His people. This is He before whom “no evil man remains,” who “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood.” And against His own who turn from Him, He reserves greater punishment.
How shall we react, we who are now become His chosen children? What should we do before such an awesome prospect as the Lord’s hand coming with power? With David we should “bring [our] plea expectantly before [Him]”; with the disciples we should make “our way toward Him” and call out: “Lord, save us! We are lost!” And if we have the faith and humility of the Lord’s king, who declares, “I, because of your abundant kindness, will enter your house; I will worship at your holy temple in fear of you, O Lord,” then with his same confidence we may believe that the Lord will wake and take “the winds and the sea to task” – that what besets us because of our sin and separation from Him will be appeased by the same voice which threatens our destruction thereby. For indeed the Lord is abundantly kind and speaks to us as His own, and chastises us as His own. He raises His voice that we might return to Him; He places us in the fire that we might be purged. Let us find our strength in a holy fear.
And let us join His voice. Let us call out with Him to His blessed children, that all might return to Him who is their maker and protector – that all might be rescued from harm. The Lord would not see us caught in the snare laid for the wicked, and so He has sent His only Son to appease the wrath He has justly spoken forth. Let the lion’s mouth not close upon our heads, but may we be awakened by its voice and open our own mouths to declare the mercy of our God.
O LORD, the wind and the sea obey your Son,
but we harden our hearts against Him –
O let us heed His voice!
YHWH, even wind and sea obey you, and so we call upon your NAME to be saved from their clutches. Let not our sins overwhelm us, but bring us the grace of your salvation.
LORD, we deserve your just punishment, for we have stubbornly turned our hearts from you. Though you have been kind in watching over and protecting us from harm, we have not recognized your goodness toward us and praised your NAME; instead, we have turned to other gods and walked in the wickedness of our hearts. And so, what can you do but cry out against us; and so, what can we be but destroyed if we do not heed your voice?
Give us courage, LORD, for our strength fails us. All we can see is the turmoil our weakness brings upon us. Help us to see beyond the troubles the world presents, troubles we have brought upon ourselves, that we might see you and your power at work, and place all our faith therein. O let us listen to your prophets as they cry out and so walk your way in peace and light, despite the surrounding darkness.
Sun, 28 June 2020
O most blessed apostles of the Lord
upon whom the Church is founded
and the faith goes forth,
in you we cannot be shaken
and the Lord’s reign extends
to the ends of the earth –
pray we always take refuge
in His House
and in the teaching of His mouth.
It is you who preserve
the authenticity of the faith;
through you we may be assured
the Spirit of God is with us,
leading us out of the dark prison
of this world
along the narrow path to Heaven.
Pray the chains fall from our hands
and we heed the angel’s command,
remaining faithful to the end,
pouring out our lives like a libation.
Feed the poor sheep in your care.
Sun, 28 June 2020
Acts 12:1-11; Ps.34:2-9; 2Tm.4:6-8,17-18; Mt.16:13-19)
“On this rock I will build my Church,
and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”
We go through death to life, for death has no power over us: the power of Jesus founded firmly on Peter, brought forward by Paul, and present in all the members of the Church and in its faith, has conquered death and leads us all to heaven.
Today we celebrate the solid foundation of the Church in Peter, the man of faith, first of the apostles and rock upon whom we are firmly set; and Paul, the great Apostle, through whom that faith went out to “all the nations.” Our readings today clearly manifest the faith we possess, which overcomes even death, in Jesus’ commissioning of Peter and in the example shown in the lives of both Peter and Paul.
Our first reading describes Peter’s mystical release from prison and reveals in this act our own coming to the heavenly kingdom: the chains of sin fall from us, we are clothed in righteousness, and led through the snares of this world to freedom. And it is he who holds “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” who is led out; and indeed by these keys, by this office and its grace, “the iron gate leading out to the city” opens before us “of itself.” And in our second reading we find Paul declaring the faithful life he has led even unto the end, which he now faces, and that his fighting of the good fight has merited the crown which awaits him on the Day of Lord. He is able to state with confidence, “The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.” Finally, our psalm confirms the protection the Lord grants His faithful ones: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
We are sharers in this faith with Peter and Paul. This is evident in the Church who “prayed fervently to God” on behalf of Peter, and whose prayers were answered in this astounding fashion, and is made certain in Paul’s proclaiming that Jesus gives the reward of a heavenly crown not only to Paul himself “but to all who have looked for His appearing with eager longing.” The Church is one in all its members, and though the Lord has chosen certain of us to special places and granted them special blessings and powers, all are blessed by this same God.
So, today as we rejoice in this faith with which we have been gifted by the Lord, as we “together extol His name,” let us consider the place we have in His holy Church and the work to which He calls us. And let us resolve to fulfill that call, pouring ourselves out unto death, that we might be assured of our entering through the heavenly gate. Let us walk in faith the narrow path the Lord has set before us, for it leads beyond death to life.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt.
Music by Carie Fortney; performed by Carie Fortney and Annette Meyer. Used by permission.
O LORD, may we be loosed
from the chains of this earth
that we might walk with you in Heaven.
YHWH, the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail against you and your Church. To Peter you have given the keys to the kingdom and these shall open every lock the devil can devise; the chains fall from our wrists by the angel you send to guide us.
You deliver us, LORD, from every evil and bring us into your heavenly kingdom. The lion’s mouth shall not close upon us, nor any prison door keep us from you. For we are redeemed by the sacrifice of your Son; in Him and in His blood your Church finds power and grace to facilitate release from all the wiles of the evil one.
Jesus sets your people on solid rock through His commissioning of His apostle Peter. And your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth through Paul and all your disciples. And so, on the day of your Son’s appearance, all shall enter freely through the eternal gates to dwell in your presence forever. You have heard our cries to you, O LORD, and bring us quickly to Heaven.
Sat, 27 June 2020
O great teacher of the Catholic faith
who served to set a foundation
upon which she could grow
in peace and in truth,
in the Spirit of God,
you who valiantly defended her
against attacks of heresy
and shed your blood
in the battle –
pray we shall find shepherds today
to explicate the faith of the apostles
as you have done,
that none shall be led astray
into false doctrine
by whim and fancy,
by pride and envy,
but drink rather the pure milk
of our Mother
and of the one true God.
To vision of the Father let us come
by revelation of His only-begotten Son.
Sat, 27 June 2020
(2Kgs.4:8-11,14-16a; Ps.89:2-3,16-19; Rom.6:3-4,8-11; Mt.10:37-42)
“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The Lord encourages us today to “take up [our] cross and follow [Him],” to place Him first in our lives to find the reward He holds. And in our second reading Paul says the same, reminding us that “we were indeed buried with Christ through baptism into death,” that we have “died with Christ… to sin once and for all” – this is our cross – and that laying down our lives before the Lord we now find ourselves “living for God in Christ Jesus”; we now find ourselves “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [that] we too might live in newness of life” with Him who is Life itself.
And Jesus sends us forth as His disciples, saying, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Thus, by our lives we call others to die with Christ that they too might live with Him in eternity, that they too might be blessed as we. Others should see in us the Lord and be prompted to give of themselves as we do, as He does – that in Him all might rejoice.
In our first reading we find a woman who has proven the truth of Christ’s statement, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” Quite literally does she give her “cup of cold water” to the great prophet Elisha, feeding him “whenever he passed by” and even making a place for him to stay in her home. She has recognized “that he is a holy man of God” and is drawn to him, desiring to have his godliness near her life. And by sharing her food and her home, she is laying down her life; by serving this “righteous man” she is serving God, and so she will know the blessing of God.
“This time next year you will be fondling a baby son,” is the holy man’s promise to the woman; and no greater blessing could she hope for. Here is life to her. Here is that “newness of life” of which Jesus speaks so well exemplified in our sight. And we should know that the same will be our own. “In the light of [His] countenance” we shall “know the joyful shout.” “At [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.” “The praises of the Lord [we] will sing forever,” for His Son has been born in our midst; our life has come to us, has suffered and died, and now sits with the Father on high. And to Him do we come with all we are. Before Him do we lay down our lives… and all we give freely He blesses.
Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Coat of Warmth" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we lose our lives for your sake,
we shall never die.
YHWH, let us receive your Son into our homes, and all those He sends; thus we shall be receiving you and have your Word alive in us. Thus we shall come to newness of life in your eternal kingdom.
And how do we receive your Son, O LORD, but by laying down of our lives and taking up the Cross He bears? Only by giving what little we have to Him for your sake will we find ourselves so blessed as to rejoice forever in your presence.
We are blessed insofar as your Son dwells with us. We are blessed insofar as we die with Him. For having died with the Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him, and what should we desire but this eternal life? O let us live for you alone, dearest LORD and God!
This day, dear God, let us give all we own to those who come in your Name; let us put all our lives at the service of your kingdom. Leaving this world behind, we shall be exalted in Heaven.
Fri, 26 June 2020
O great defender of the Mother of God
and of the faith itself,
courageously you declared
that Jesus is God indeed,
become Man in Mary His Mother;
this you made plain for all to see,
O shepherd of the people of God,
that truth might reign
and the Virgin might find
her proper place among us –
pray, O brave teacher,
that we shall not be afraid
to proclaim the truths
inscribed by the Spirit
upon the heart of the Church
and in her inspired writings;
and may indeed our Mother,
the Mother of Jesus,
the Mother of God,
be recognized for her preeminence
amongst the saints,
that the Word of the Lord might be fulfilled
and all generations call her blessed.
Fri, 26 June 2020
(Lam.2:2,10-14,18-19; Ps.74:1-7,19-21; Mt.8:5-17)
“It was our infirmities He bore,
our sufferings He endured.”
And oh how deep are those sufferings; “great as the sea is [our] downfall.” And graphically are they seen in the destruction of Jerusalem; sharply they pierce the flesh of the Son.
Yes, the Lord “has torn down in His anger the fortresses of daughter Judah… On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; they strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth. The maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground.” And the children and infants “faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers’ arms.” And so the prophet Jeremiah is “worn out from weeping”; and so his “gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of [his] people.”
And is this weeping not Jesus’ own? Does He not shed tears over Jerusalem for the suffering it has known, and its suffering to come? Does He not indeed die for our sins? Listen to the description of the destruction of the holy city offered by our psalmist today: “With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.” Are these not the blows Jesus suffered; are they not the nails which pierced His hands and feet and side? “They set your sanctuary on fire; the place where your name abides they have razed and destroyed.” Is not Jesus the Temple of the living God, crucified by the hands of lust and greed and jealousy? Have we not done such violence to our Lord? And has He not endured all for our salvation?
Let the priest and all the children note the cause of such destruction of God’s chosen ones, the suffering of His only Son. Is it not the prophets who proclaimed “false and specious visions,” who “did not lay bare [the people’s] guilt, to avert [their] fate”? And note the Lord’s own words and attitude toward those who follow Him, to the children of Israel who press upon Him: “The natural heirs of the kingdom will be driven out into the dark. Wailing will be heard there and grinding of teeth.” Does Jesus fail to show those in His care the narrow gate? And so should we continue to coddle faithless hearts unto their destruction?
He indeed bears all our infirmities, all the sickness our sin has wrought. But we must indeed see ourselves as the centurion’s servant boy, “in bed paralyzed, suffering painfully,” to find His word of healing. We must come with the faith of the centurion to know His saving touch. For destruction indeed awaits the land, and so we must cry out to Him, “Turn your steps toward the utter ruins; toward all the damage the enemy has done in your sanctuary,” if we hope to be redeemed by His blood.
O LORD, only Jesus could heal our ills,
only He could bear our suffering, for our guilt is great –
only He could take it away.
YHWH, how dire is the condition of your city this day; your people waste away on its streets, and none is there to help them. Should we not call upon you; and would you not be faithful in carrying away our afflictions, in saving us from the destruction that surrounds us because of our sin? We lie paralyzed before you; lift us up from our bed of pain.
Does not death surround us this day, O LORD? Is there not little hope among your people – are not the walls of our city torn down? Yet your Son would bear all our suffering; our infirmities He would take away. Let us come to Him for healing. Let us cry out to you for grace, for you are faithful to all sincere prayers… Look upon us in our desolate state.
O LORD, the sanctuary has been torn down – your Son has been crucified in our midst. But we know this death He endures with us will bring us new life if we but pour out our hearts like water in your presence. O let us come to your banquet in the kingdom!
Thu, 25 June 2020
(2Kgs.25:1-12; Ps.137:1-6; Mt.8:1-4)
“Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard,
led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city.”
And so the exile is complete. Not a soul remains in the holy city. And their captors “burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem.” Not a stone is left standing one upon another. Not even the government appointed by the king of Babylon could remain. And they even “tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.”
Now she is utterly exposed. Now she who was his precious pearl is cast out and trampled underfoot. And so our psalmist can but lament, “By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion.” And so his songs of joy are silenced in this “foreign land.” But in his lament today do we not find a kind of hope? Does not his abiding love for the holy city of God bring expectation of a better day? Listen to his faith: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.” Even as we hear of the utter destruction of the temple and the city of God, we are given a sense of the faith that will build it up again.
And on the day we hear of the completion of the exile of Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon, we hear of the healing of one who is completely ostracized by society. The leper comes begging for a cure, seeking to join his fellow men upon the land, and the Lord answers him: “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be cured.’” Should this not give us hope in all our travails? Does this not signal not only the return of the exiles in seventy years, but our utter redemption and return to the Lord in the coming of the Person of Jesus? For upon heeding the Lord’s instruction to “show [himself] to the priest and offer the gift prescribed,” the leper will be welcomed into the Church and society – his exile will be ended.
We all stand exiled by sin. We are all utterly bereft of the blessing of the Lord. But there is hope. We are told that even in this exile to Babylon “some of the country’s poor” remained to till the land. And has not Jesus just come from the mountain where He has taught His disciples, “Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land”? If we humble ourselves before Him as has the leper, if we remain meek in His sight as have the poor of the land, the blessing of the Lord shall come to us and never leave. For He indeed wills it so. He indeed desires our return from exile. Do we have a heart to come to Him? Do we remember where we have been?
O LORD, it is your will that we be whole
and living in peace;
keep us poor in spirit
that we might not be removed from your sight.
YHWH, save us from our sin this day, even as you healed the leper; bring us back from our exile to dwell again in the holy City of Jerusalem. Are we not temples of your Spirit? Let us remember and return to them.
O LORD, come down from the mountain to walk amongst us, for we are in need of your presence. We live as though far from you in a land of darkness and exile. Is there yet hope for our beaten souls? May we yet be cured of our disease? Only if you are here with us, and we recognize you and call upon your love.
Why should your children remain apart from you? O LORD, why can we not sing of your glory? You are just and we deserve our punishment, but let us call upon your mercy this day. Then you will reach out to us; then you will speak your Word over us. Then your will shall indeed be known – that we be saved from the evil of this day.
Wed, 24 June 2020
(2Kgs.24:8-17; Ps.79:1-5,8,9; Mt.7:21-29)
“The rains fell, the torrents came,
the winds blew and lashed against his house.
It collapsed under all this and was completely ruined.”
Yes, “the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege,” and “Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who… took him captive… None were left among the people of the land except the poor”; and these, too, shall soon be struck.
Yes, the nations “have defiled [the Lord’s] holy temple, they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” And why has such destruction come? Our first reading tells us simply of Jehoiachin, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his forebears had done”; and now finally the day of reckoning has come. And now the nations “have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them.” Now does the Lord’s “jealousy burn like fire.”
And what shall be left when that fire is passed? Who shall stand on that day of reckoning that shall come to all souls, to peoples of all nations? Will you stand before the Lord and recount the great deeds you have done before Him who holds all the world in His holy hand? Will you attempt to justify yourself before Him who justifies all? Will your heart truly be set upon such vain pursuit? Truly then the Lord will “declare to [you] solemnly, ‘Out of my sight, you evildoers’”; for all you have done will be as a grain of sand in His sight, and that grain will be blown from His hand for your lack of humility, for your pride before whom none can stand.
How shall it be then that your house be “solidly set on rock”? How will you avoid the fate of His chosen city Jerusalem? If it has been destroyed, do you not think that you, too, are liable to be struck from His sight? Or do you find yourself perfect? You must cry out as our psalmist, “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” You must heed the words of Christ and consider yourselves unworthy servants (Lk.17:10), unfit as you are to stand before His eyes, to dwell in His light. Then He may have pity on your wretched soul. Then He might make you strong. Your tongue silent before His majesty, there will be hope that you shall remain.
Remember, brothers and sisters, this is He who “taught with authority” before whom you stand. Do not lose the awe of His presence. And perhaps the great collapse of your house will not be necessary; perhaps you shall find His great love which washes away all sin. Let the rains He sends but be cleansing. Endure them gracefully.
O LORD, the gold of the temple does not endure,
but only a humble soul set on your will.
YHWH, let us do your will, that we might stand humbly before you on the Day of judgment.
You cannot help but judge, dear LORD; you cannot help but condemn the pride and wickedness of an evil heart and a vain life. You would give us food to stand strong, your command that gives life indeed… but we would follow our own ways, and so, how can we end but removed from your sight?
You make us as temples, LORD, temples of your Holy Spirit feeding on the Body and Blood of your Son… but how faithful are we to the call to be as your Son, to listen to His words and the guidance of the Spirit – are we truly obedient to your will for our lives?
If we are not humble, LORD, then we know you not. If we expect return for works done in your NAME, then we understand not the great blessing of being your sons, and how unworthy we are to carry out your will.
O LORD, come back to us and help us because of the glory of your NAME. Let us make our home in you and in your Temple, and so find strength in you on the Day you return.
Tue, 23 June 2020
O greatest of men born of woman,
before you were formed in the womb
the Lord called you;
while still in this cave
you leapt for joy
at His presence come to you…
a sharp, two-edged sword He made you
to hail the coming Messiah,
the Light in our midst,
the New Covenant born of the Old –
how shall we humble ourselves
as you have done;
how shall our call be realized
in flesh and blood
as was your own?
Pray, dear brother,
that from darkness we be taken,
from blindness and inability to speak
we be rescued,
that the Word among us
we may know
and raise our voices
to proclaim His salvation to all.
Tue, 23 June 2020
(Is.49:1-6; Ps.139:1-3,13-15; Acts 13:22-26: Lk.1:57-66,80)
“I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, he who hails the coming of the Lord, is born today. This voice speaks of the Word among us. And from before his birth he is called, in the womb he is formed, to proclaim with the sword of truth God’s salvation for His people. “Surely the hand of the Lord was with him,” and surely we find the grace of God by walking the path he blazed for us in the desert; for surely that way leads to the glory who is the Son of David.
Yes, “to us this word of salvation has been sent.” To us this light has been brought forth. We “distant peoples” hear now the call of the voice which pierces our souls: Make straight the way of the Lord! The tongue now speaks; no longer silenced, no longer hidden, it has risen from “the depths of the earth” to plainly declare the coming of Christ. Yes, in the womb of the Old Testament the Lord wonderfully formed the salvation of Israel, probing and scrutinizing all its ways and preparing it for birth in the light of day. And now what He hid in His quiver He shoots forth to wound with amazement the hearts who have waited to hear the Word of life. “John heralded His coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel”; by his voice a place is made for the Savior, Jesus.
At the turning point of the history of salvation John stands. He has come to direct souls to the Promised Land. For this he was made. To this call he answers – to lead us to the Son of Man. The old is passed away; now all is made new. Fulfillment has come. The womb has brought forth. The time of salvation is here. For He through whom time and the earth and heavens were made is now come to wash even the dirt from our feet. Listen to the voice which hails the Word of God in our midst. His call is for all ears; the light shines for all “who are God-fearing.”
Your recompense is upon you now. You, too, make known His light to the world.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, your Word of salvation you speak
through the mouth of John,
whom you have blessed with your might and power.
YHWH, your Word of salvation goes forth to the ends of the earth, proclaimed through the mouth of John, the fulfillment of the prophets of Israel. In his birth what is old passes away, and what is new comes. Now the light of the nations enters this house.
Loose our tongues to declare your glory, dear LORD. You who have formed us in the depths of the earth, in the womb of the Church, now gather us into your arms that we might be raised unto the glory of your Son, brought into union with you who are our Father and our God. O may we share your Name as we are born into your kingdom!
Let your hand be upon us for good, O LORD; let your will be accomplished in us as it has been in John. Let all souls know that it is you who probe us and know us, you who understand all our thoughts and ways. May all our thoughts and actions be in accord with your own, and so in all things let us declare to all that your Son has come – O let us be His servants!
Mon, 22 June 2020
(2Kgs.19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Ps.48:2-4,9-11; Mt.7:6,12-14)
“I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.”
Brothers and sisters, “renowned is He as a stronghold,” the Lord our God. And faithfully does He watch over His chosen one.
Our psalmist proclaims, “Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God.” He extols the glory of Mount Zion, of Jerusalem, “the city of the great King,” for the blessings of God upon it. Here is His temple and so here it is we “ponder [His] kindness”; here it is we take refuge, finding “the narrow gate” that leads to Him and to His salvation.
In our first reading today the Lord gives evidence of the way in which He protects His children; He reveals that He will not “give what is holy to dogs or toss [His] pearls before swine.” The king of Assyria has indeed “laid waste the nations and their lands,” including the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He has acted with seemingly invincible power, and now he has come to the Lord’s chosen city to destroy it as well. And though this Jerusalem, where His temple does dwell, and the chosen tribes of Judah (through whom His Savior shall come) shall not be protected forever… though this earthly tent shall so soon be ransacked and taken into exile itself, today the Lord shows how His promise, His covenant with them, will never be taken away. Though the temple’s walls be one day destroyed, His spiritual kingdom, His New Jerusalem is eternally blessed in heaven.
Hezekiah indeed “enter[s] through the narrow gate” of prayer. Taking the threatening letter from Sennacherib in his hand, “he [goes] up to the temple of the Lord, and spreading it out before Him, he pray[s] in the Lord’s presence.” He calls out, “O Lord, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” And the Lord listens. He takes pity on His “virgin daughter Zion… for out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors.” And by the hand of the Lord the king of Assyria is turned back.
Brothers and sisters, “Jerusalem will not be handed over” to the king of this world. Upon His Church His blessed protection remains. Through Judah and David, the king whose city is Jerusalem, Jesus has come – the Lord’s promise is fulfilled and the remnant now does thrive. Here is the Temple not made by human hands; here is the narrow gate through whom all must enter paradise… here is “the joy of all the earth,” God’s “holy mountain” in our midst; and on His heights and in these walls, we are shielded and saved forever.
O LORD, if we enter through the narrow gate,
we shall come into your presence,
and you shall always fight for us.
YHWH, how shall we find our way to your holy City, on which your protection rests, which shall always be saved from the violence of this world? No kingdom can conquer your Church; in her let us make our home.
On your holy mountain, the fairest of heights, let us find our place, O LORD. To your Temple let us come, stretching out our arms in prayer. And you shall listen to our pleas, and your help will be with us quickly – you will be our stronghold. And so, we will praise you forever, for you teach us the way that leads to your House; in your heavenly kingdom we shall ever remain.
O LORD, let us be holy as you are holy, as all your children are holy. Let us be as those who walk the narrow path to you, who find joy in the difficulties present there. Dwelling in faith we shall not fear the threats of the mighty, for you who are above all are our shield and guide.
Sun, 21 June 2020
O kings of martyrdom
who indeed laid down your very lives
rather than heed the dictates
of an evil emperor,
whose loyalty to the Lord
and the Church He established
your defense of the faith
written in the blood you shed –
pray that the mediocrity,
the utter inability to stand for truth
in this relativist age,
will be defeated
by souls founded firmly
in the Spirit of Christ
and in the Cross
He offers forth
for our salvation.
Pray for leaders of Church and State
to embrace your singular devotion.
Sun, 21 June 2020
O lover of poverty
who gave up great wealth
to find her abiding
within the walls of your heart,
a heart which turned thus
to God’s people
and the shepherding of them
with great care –
pray that we too may hear
and come to realize in our lives
the call of our Lord
to give up all things
for the sake of the kingdom,
to be attached to nothing
but service of the poor,
service of God Himself
in the humble of this earth;
pray that like you
we may have the heart of a shepherd,
of a laborer in Jesus’ vineyard,
united in the Spirit
with all God’s children
with whom we share His Heaven.
Sun, 21 June 2020
(2Kgs.17:5-8,13-15,18; Ps.60:3-5,7,12-13; Mt.7:1-5)
“In His great anger against Israel,
the Lord put them away out of His sight.”
Jesus instructs His disciples today, “If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment.” In other words, “Judge not and you shall not be judged.” Here is the prerequisite not only for avoiding judgment and condemnation at the hand of God, but also for assisting and healing others, as is our call. If we wish to serve as Christians and remove the speck of sin from others’ eyes that they might see in the clear light of the Lord Jesus Christ, first it is certainly necessary that we ourselves see so clearly, that we come to the Lord and have our great sin removed from our souls. Otherwise our desire to help others in their frailty will indeed but turn to judgment of them; first we must recognize the great sinners we ourselves are – and so, that we cannot judge another – before we can find the grace from God to bring Jesus’ mercy to others. God alone judges, brothers and sisters, for God alone is good, God alone is pure… the Lord Jesus alone is free from every speck of sin.
And God will judge. Believe this. He will send His apostles and prophets forth to bring remission of sins – He has sent His Son to die on the cross that we might be cleansed in His blood – but failing the acceptance and embracing of the call of the Lord, indeed what hope have we of salvation? There is but His righteous judgment remaining for our souls; there is but His chastising Hand to be placed upon us.
That God does judge, that He does cast sinful man from His sight, is made evident in exemplary fashion in the fate of our ancestors, the Israelites. “Because the Israelites sinned against the Lord, their God,” He cast them into exile at the hand of their enemies. “The Lord warned Israel… by every prophet and seer, ‘Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes’”; He sought to turn them from their sins by those whom He had touched, but “they did not listen… They rejected His statutes, the covenant which He had made with their fathers, and the warnings, which He had given them.” And so, His pure eye unable to look upon them anymore, He removed them from before Himself.
“O God, you have rejected us and broken down our defenses,” David cries, and begs the Lord’s return to the Israelites’ ranks… And how often this must be our prayer because of our foolishness in the sight of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we have a greater covenant now with the Lord than did the ancient Israelites, for we have a greater than David or Moses or Abraham with us now. And more demanding is He of our purity, of our virtue before Him. For what threatens us now is not mere exile, but the fires of hell; what awaits those who turn from Him now is eternal damnation, and so let us remain faithful to our God. Indeed let us remove the log from our eye that we “will see clearly to take the speck from [our] brother’s eye” and so effect the building up of the kingdom of God. The time is now upon us; let us do all we can to remain in His sight.
O LORD, remove us not from your sight
but remove the plank from our eye.
YHWH, judgment is yours alone and it is eminently fair. Where we would condemn out of hand, you are merciful, and cast us from your sight only when we persist in our sin. Help us to see as you see, and to be as you are, that we might remain before you and help others to return to your presence.
We are outcasts, LORD, for our sins against you, for our failure to heed your blessed commands. You would save us from such fate as would separate us from you, and so you tell us of the path to tread. But we do not listen. And so we invite your wrath upon our souls; and so, how can we help others?
Save us this day, O LORD, from ourselves and from all our enemies. Let us listen to your voice and so enter into your love and the light of your presence. In your land let us dwell, in the land of Heaven, and there let us stay… and to this place let us draw others who seek you in the forgiveness of their transgressions and the following of your way. We have sinned against you, but gather us back into your arms, we pray.
Sat, 20 June 2020
O patron of youth
whose innocence was unsurpassed,
whose desire to give yourself
to the Lord
in poverty and purity
led you to relinquish
your wealth in this world
at a tender age
that you might embrace Jesus
pray for the youth of our day
and the child in each of our souls,
that all might turn away
from the temptations which surround
and threaten to enter and enslave;
let all turn toward
the love of the Lord
and His heavenly call,
a call to a kingdom
that surpasses everything of this earth
and brings the joy
known only in breathing and speaking
His holy Name.
Sat, 20 June 2020
(Jer.20:10-13; Ps.69:8-10,14,17,33-35; Rom.5:12-15; Mt.10:26-33)
“For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.”
Jeremiah “hear[s] the whisperings of many” who seek to “denounce him”; those who “watch for any misstep” plot his destruction: “Perhaps he will be trapped, then we can prevail, and take our revenge on him.” Like David he has “become an outcast to [his] brothers, a stranger to [his] mother’s children.” And for what does he suffer such persecution but for speaking the truth of God’s word to his fellow Israelites? As David declares to the Lord, “The insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me”; both the prophet and the king endure persecution for righteousness’ sake.
But both prophet and king declare victory in their struggle: “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.” Through the power of God it is they who “will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.” The Lord hears their pleas for help, their prayers come before Him, “for the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And so both king and prophet end in joy, in utter hope, as David proclaims, “Let the heavens and the earth praise Him, the seas and whatever moves in them”; and Jeremiah likewise calls all to honor our unfailing God: “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”
And, brothers and sisters, in what greater way is this salvation from the grasp of evil better known, more fully realized, than in our Lord Jesus Christ? Paul tells us, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and this death came to all men.” What greater persecutor have we than death itself? But now “the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many” – now all are saved by Him who has died, and has risen. Its clutches no longer hold dominion.
So Jesus exhorts the Twelve, and all who would conquer death and all sin, to “fear no one”: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” What power has the prince of this world over our immortal souls now that Jesus has come? He can’t touch us by his persecutions; and so now we are called to “proclaim on the housetops” what we “hear whispered” by the Lord in our hearts. Now with Jeremiah and David we must fearlessly “speak in the light,” for the Lord has made us a promise, and His Word is true – “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” But if we deny Him, He will deny us. Therefore, let us be heedless of the shame and the pain we share with our Savior and never fear to declare His truth in love to all. Nothing is greater than the power of His Word.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us declare your glory,
you who set us free from the bonds of sin and death –
you who are our Savior!
YHWH, you have raised us from the power of sin and death, from the strength of our persecutors which we could not match. In the bonds of Satan we have been, and under his threat we dwelt in fear. But your Son has come to set us free that we might walk in liberty with Him and proclaim your holy Name to all the earth. Praise you, LORD! Thank you for your goodness to us. Let us live in your light.
O LORD, how hopeless we were, trapped in the bonds of death and sin. How could we hope when so oppressed that everywhere we looked we saw but emptiness and fear. But when we called out to you, you heard our plea… and your Son you sent into our midst to save us from all evil. Let us now with great zeal declare your glory, LORD, though it mean we must die for you. For in this death, this dying in your Name, indeed life comes to us once again.
To you we entrust our cause, dear LORD, and you are ever faithful. Save all men from the evil one!
Fri, 19 June 2020
O Sanctuary of the Father,
Temple of the Holy Spirit,
Mother of the Son of God
who carried Him in your womb
and contemplated Him
in your heart –
how shall we find Jesus
how shall we become
the temples of the Spirit
the Lord calls us all to be
if you do not pray for us,
if we are not formed
in your womb,
in the love
with which you are blessed?
Hold us in your soul, dear Mother,
that our spirits might join with your own
and we might thus become one
with our Lord and brother.
In us also let Him make His home.
Fri, 19 June 2020
(2Chr.24:17-25; Ps.89:4-5,29-34; Mt.6:24-34)
“Because you have abandoned the Lord,
He has abandoned you.”
How quickly Joash the king of Judah, who so recently had restored true worship in the temple at Jerusalem, “transgress[es] the Lord’s commands.” After Jehoiada the priest died, the people “forsook the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols.” And so, “wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.” So great is their apostasy that not only would they “not listen to [the prophets’] warnings” when they were sent “to convert them to the Lord,” but when Zechariah the son of Jehoiada stood up in their midst to call them back to the Lord, “they stoned him to death in the Lord’s temple.” And so the central place of worship becomes a place of murder.
How truly Jesus speaks in today’s gospel: “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other.” How clearly we see the hatred of God at work in Judah as she embraces false and empty gods. And so Judah becomes like her profligate sister in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. She who is set aside to preserve the temple and the holy city of Jerusalem, who is given yet a share in the inheritance promised David, turns boldly from her call and blessing to despise that which is most her own. And now does her hatred grow. And though she may escape the chastising hand of God a longer time than her sister, God’s promise: “If [David’s] sons forsake my law and walk not according to my ordinances, if they violate my statutes and keep not my commands, I will punish their crime with a rod and their guilt with stripes,” will not be set aside forever, and they shall follow their sister into exile.
Brothers and sisters, we must choose the master we shall serve: if the world and its spirit, then you court God’s condemnation; if the Lord, then remain faithful with your whole heart and follow His Son unto heaven. It is to heaven He desires your soul to come, but you must trust in Him and remain faithful to His call. For if you leave Him, He cannot but leave you; but if you hold fast to His love, He can do nothing but bless you.
Today Jesus, the Son of the Father in heaven, stands up to warn you against the traps of this world and call you into full, living worship of the One God. Will you enter into His love?
O LORD, in your House alone let us make our home,
and so find your kingship over us,
and so find your blessing forever.
YHWH, how kind your words to us are; how reassuring you would be. But do we listen to you; indeed, can we hear you at all? O heavenly Father, you know all that we need, and so would provide for us all things if we but followed in your way – but who among us has any faith?
O LORD, do we not rather fret over the passing things of this earth? Do our hearts not turn quickly to false gods, abandoning you and true worship to feed our bellies, to save the flesh? And what can we be but destroyed like the grass of the field if we have no more sense, no more faith, no more love for you than a lifeless statue? Woe to us as we turn from you, for you are our very life, and without your Spirit quickly we die… quickly we die.
Let us seek holiness, LORD, let this be our goal, our call, our only desire. Let us hope for you alone and for your heavenly kingdom, and we shall be blessed, and we shall remain in your House forever.
Thu, 18 June 2020
O sign of perfect solitude
who heeded so well
the Lord’s command
to enter into your closet
in order to pray,
whose great measure of self-denial
led you to the peak of contemplation
in God’s holy presence,
whose only desire
was that souls might draw close
to Him –
pray all who seek the Lord
may approach Him with a whole heart,
a heart set on Him alone,
that in such perfect devotion
all might find Him present
in their souls, in their spirits,
and be elevated in their lowliness
to His indescribable divine love,
to His peace which passes
all our understanding
but draws us ever closer
to His wounded side.
Thu, 18 June 2020
(Dt.7:6-11; Ps.103:1-4,8,10,17; 1Jn.4:7-16; Mt.11:25-30)
“He has loved us
and has sent His Son as an offering for our sins.”
Who better to hear from on this blessed feast than John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, whose words indeed continually breathe the fact that “God is love” and who eternally exhorts us to “love one another.” John cannot but speak of the love God has for His children and the love we must offer in return; and all of our Scripture today echoes his understanding and calls us to be washed in the blood of Christ.
In our gospel Jesus calls unto the hearts of all: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” He invites His little ones: “Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” O so gentle and humble of heart is the Lord our God… so loving, so kind! David sings of Him so well in his psalm of praise and thanksgiving: “Merciful is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” Why does God’s king “bless the Lord” with “all [his] being” today? Because “not according to our sins does He deal with us.” Because of His forgiving grace – this greatest sign of His love, embodied in His only Son. And so, as Moses says to all the people in our hearing on this holy feast, we should “love Him and keep His commandments,” for He is “the faithful God who keeps His merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation.” Yes, this covenant of love has been fulfilled in Jesus’ blood, in Jesus’ heart from which His blood does come, and “when anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God”; then we “come to know and believe in the love God has for us.”
And to whom does the love of God come so readily? Who finds such faith in the Lamb of God and knows that “He pardons all [our] iniquities” and “crowns [us] with kindness and compassion”? Jesus in His prayer to the Father states, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children,” and this is confirmed by Moses, who tells the Israelites, “It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set His heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.” It is not the strong and the wise of the world the Lord showers His love upon, but the humble and the lowly. These know the love the mighty and humble, gentle Lord holds in His Sacred Heart. Alleluia!
Brothers and sisters, “it was because the Lord loved you… that He brought you out with a strong hand from the place of slavery.” Let your soul “find rest” in that merciful love this day, and let it share that love with all others.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how you love us!
sending your only Son to die for our salvation –
let us come to Him this day and know your love.
YHWH, so loving you are that you share your very self with us in the Person of the Son of God, in Jesus the Christ. How is it love come to us so truly? How is it you, who are love, make yourself known to us in such a real way? It is because you are love and desire therefore to share love with us, your poor creatures.
O LORD, you forgive all our sins, you heal all our ills… all that is evil you take from us that we might be one with you who are love. O that we might have a heart so humble and lowly as your own! that we might truly come to know your love, that we might truly come to be your own children. Let us share your love with one another and we shall find ourselves living in your love.
In you let us take our rest, O LORD, in your Sacred Heart. Jesus is your very heart and His blood you would have course through our veins. O let His Heart beat in our own, that overwhelmed with His love we might become one with you in Heaven. Give us your Spirit of love this day to make us your own people, your own flesh and blood.
Wed, 17 June 2020
(Sir.48:1-14; Ps.97:1-7,12; Mt.6:7-15)
“Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our psalm sings of the greatness of our God; in our first reading we hear of how this greatness was revealed in the prophets Elijah and Elisha; and in the Lord’s Prayer we call for this greatness to be present in our midst.
“Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes round about,” our psalmist declares in praise of God. “His lightnings illumine the world.” How great indeed is He: “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Nothing stands before His glance, for “justice and judgment are the foundation of His throne,” and this world is held in His all-powerful Hand.
And how well this greatness is brought to bear by His holy prophets. We are told, “Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” The consuming power of the Lord is indeed revealed in him, for “by God’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire.” He “brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the Lord… sent kings down to destruction,” and finally was “taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses.” How the Lord blesses His holy ones! How He reveals His greatness in them! And of Elisha it is said, “Nothing was beyond his power… In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.”
There is no end to the power the Lord provides to His children, for there is no end to His power, and this power He would share with all. Thus does the Lord encourage us to call upon the majesty of God our Father to be with us, to feed us each day, that His Name might indeed be praised, that His holiness might be revealed in His chosen ones. And to avoid His wrath, and to share in His power, what must we do? What is the central call of this all-powerful, all-holy Lord? Forgiveness. His grace is power, and grace and mercy we must share with all to share that power which has no end.
Trust in Him who holds you in His Hand, brothers and sisters. And His mighty Hand you shall see at work in the course of your day, and the fire of His grace shall pour upon your soul.
O LORD, let your power be upon us,
the power of your merciful love.
YHWH, you are all-good and all-powerful, and those who share your goodness share in your power. Let your kingdom come upon us; there let us dwell with you. We pray to be forgiven all our sins that your Spirit might be with us.
But we know, O LORD, for your Son has taught us, that if we are to come into your presence and share in your power and wonder, first we must forgive our neighbor – even our enemy we must love. Those who sin against us indeed become as our enemies, but your mercy we must share with them if we are to know your grace at work in our souls. Separated from you, all die, but in your light all are brought to life: let all souls come into your kingdom.
Let thy holy will be done, O LORD, in all your prophets, in all your disciples. Your power, your love, make known in all who bear your NAME. What should we fear if you are with us? Let your Word be spoken through us and His blood course through our veins. Let all peoples see your glory.
Tue, 16 June 2020
(2Kgs.2:1,6-14; Ps.31:20-21,24-25; Mt.6:1-6,16-18)
“As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”
Jesus instructs us in our gospel, “Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private.” This prescription the holy prophet Elijah fulfills in our first reading when he miraculously crosses the Jordan River and enters the wilderness, out of the sight of the prophets who remain standing on its other side. Elisha, too, he would have remain apart, but this holy man determines to stay with his father in faith. And so as their prayer becomes secret, as their conversation of God becomes hidden and private, even then Elijah is taken in flames of holy fire from the sight of men; even then he ascends to heaven. And though so otherworldly, the eyes of Elisha witness the hand of God lifting the prophet from our midst.
Brothers and sisters, can you see that this is as what happens with us when we pray to God in our private rooms? David in his psalm declares, “How great is the goodness, O Lord, which you have in store for those who fear you, and which, toward those who take refuge in you, you show in the sight of men.” When we “hide… in the shelter of [His] presence… screen[ed]… within [His] abode,” He reveals Himself to us in His glorious might, He lifts us up to heaven where He dwells. As He blesses those who keep their alms secret and repays those whose fasting is hidden, so He anoints the prayers of His children who find Him in the recesses of their hearts. From this wilderness, from this desert place, He lifts us to see the encompassing shining of holy light.
The quiet place is within your soul; the kingdom of heaven is within you. Converse with the Lord quite readily, quite faithfully, in this hidden place, and all shall be revealed to your eyes. Stay with Him; do not leave His side, and all your requests shall be filled in His blessed generosity. And His cloak He shall place upon you, His cross He shall lay across your shoulders, and the great blessings of heaven will be your own.
“Love the Lord, all you His faithful ones!
The Lord keeps those who are constant.”
And all humble souls He raises
to the throne of God.
O LORD, let us hide ourselves in you,
that you might carry us to Heaven.
YHWH, let us enter into your presence hidden within us; into this wilderness let us come that we might meet with you and you might bless us, and take us to Heaven. Hear our prayer this day.
LORD, you alone are our refuge, you alone are our glory and our peace – you are our only desire. Let us not seek the approval of this world or the praise it may give, but look always only to serve you, to love you, with all our might… and let all our might be only of you. Let it be you who work miracles in our life.
Take all we have, LORD; we ask nothing in return but to be with you. Quietly let us come to you who dwell in the purest silence, apart from all the vain distractions of this world.
You are quite above this dreadful place, though you come to dwell with us even here. In you let us transcend all the emptiness that surrounds us, even as we walk with you. O LORD, let us never leave your side that we might come to be where you are.
Mon, 15 June 2020
(1Kgs.21:17-29; Ps.51:3-6,11,16; Mt.5:43-48)
“Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.”
We have hope, brothers and sisters; we have hope that the very depths of our sin and depravity against the Lord shall be forgiven, and we shall be made new, washed in His blood. For the Lord “sends His rain on the just and the unjust,” and this He proves today in our readings.
The Lord forgives David his “blood-guilt,” he who has committed the dual sins of adultery and murder; and Ahab, too, of whom it is said, “No one gave himself to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab,” finds a measure of His mercy. Indeed, if there is reconciliation of these sinners with the Lord God, then even we must have hope of the Lord’s grace at work within us.
The Lord is He who loves even His enemies, whose “sun rises on the bad and the good” alike, whose arm is not shortened, whose love knows no bounds – for has He not gone so far as to die on the cross as a common criminal, as the worst of sinners, to redeem all from their sins? But to receive such grace and mercy how must we come to Him?
It is clear both in our first reading and in David’s great psalm that forgiveness is not obtained in a casual manner. To find it, we must imitate our sinners in their repentance as we have mirrored them in our sin. For Ahab when he heard the condemnation of the Lord upon his house “tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh”; he did not hesitate to “acknowledge [his] offense” before the Lord and all the people. And recognizing that his “sin is before [him] always,” David comes begging the Lord, “Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt,” seeking the compassion he knows only God holds. And this trust in His mercy the Lord sees; this declaration of sin the Lord hears. It is because Ahab “humbled himself before [Him]” and because David proclaimed openly his guilt that God has mercy on their lives. And we must join them just so in our own repentance to find that same mercy and kindness.
More than this, brothers and sisters. To more than this are we called now, my friends. For like the Lord Himself we are commanded to be – to show such mercy as He. The blood of Christ now outpoured, and it having poured upon our souls, we must now see that it is shared with all. We do that by shedding our own blood, by sharing that same love with everyone, indeed even with our enemies, as with us the Lord has done. And so our freedom from sin is made complete in His heavenly presence.
O LORD, is it not only fair
that we should love our enemies
since you have loved us
who have done such evil in your sight,
even having your Son die for our sins?
YHWH, free us all from bloodguilt, for we are all guilty of shedding your Son’s blood; we are all sinners in your sight. Yet you love us, and offer forth your forgiveness as we repent before you – though we have been your enemies, you make us your friends. Help us to receive such grace from you, and to share it with others.
Your mercy pour upon us, LORD; each day let us come to you and find your cleansing rain. For continually our hearts turn from you… sinners we remain, and your healing grace ever we need to come into your presence and find your all-encompassing love. Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy!
And let us answer your call to show your love and mercy in our lives. The light you impart to us let us shine upon all souls. O what a great grace you offer us, LORD! to be as you are, to love as you do – to be perfect even as you. Let us find such grace at work in us; let it be all we desire.
Sun, 14 June 2020
(1Kgs.21:1-16; Ps.5:2-3,5-7; Mt.5:38-42)
“I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”
How divergent are the paths of Jezebel and Jesus. This Queen of Israel, wife of Ahab, holds the philosophy that if someone won’t give you what you ask for, take it by force; whereas the Lord says if someone wishes to take something from you, give it and more.
Here are the way of the world and the way of heaven in stark contrast. When as a petulant child Ahab refuses to eat after not getting what he wants, his wife plots the death of Naboth to obtain the king’s desired land. She truly is among “the bloodthirsty and the deceitful the Lord abhors.” Jesus and those who follow Him are they whom the Lord loves. Far from stoning the righteous man to death, they themselves are the righteous who shed blood freely at the hands of their enemies. Both the wicked Jezebel and the just Jesus go beyond the old law: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.” She takes an eye and a tooth when none has been taken from her, going thus below the law; but Jesus says, “Offer no resistance to injury,” going thus above the law. Where He fulfills the law in love, she makes a mockery of God.
We hear these mutually exclusive paths spoken of even literally today. Jesus instructs His disciples: “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles,” encouraging His followers on the same way of suffering He models for all – a way revealed most clearly in His carrying of the cross to the hill of Golgotha; and our first reading tells us that “on hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it,” walking quite a different path of blood.
Brothers and sisters, it should be obvious that God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil man remains with [Him].” He indeed “destroy[s] all who speak falsehood” – the justice of God they shall not escape. But let it be equally obvious that we must follow the Lord’s words in turning the other cheek. His are not mere platitudes but necessary instructions for finding the way to God He Himself walks. If we do not walk where He has walked, how can we come to the place He now is? Do not think you will come to heaven along an easy path, much less a wicked one. You will obtain the vineyard of heaven only by drinking the blood of Christ where you are, only by laying down your very life here in this world.
O LORD, let us leave behind
all the wickedness of this world
and join in your Son’s holy sacrifice of love.
YHWH, let us leave the way of the wicked far behind and walk only in the path you mark out for us. In your Son’s blood let us make our home, that there shall be no blood upon our hands.
Let us lay down our lives with your Son, turning the other cheek to those who would harm us, to those who would slap us in the face. Yours is the way of forgiveness and love, of sacrifice in the name of goodness, in your NAME, O God.
Keep us from the path of the world, LORD, for it is one of evil, of use and abuse of neighbor, of the shedding of his blood, the blood of the righteous Man. O let us not have Jesus’ blood on our hands!
LORD, we are all sinners, but if we turn to you, you save us from such sin as would condemn our souls. But if we harden our hearts against your love, if we seek only our own gain, and at others’ expense, choosing to remain blind to your Son’s Cross of sacrifice, which is our only hope of salvation… we can only be destroyed. Help us to give all to others, to answer your call to love.
Sat, 13 June 2020
(Dt.8:2-3,14b-16a; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; 1Cor.10:16-17; Jn.6:51-58)
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
“Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” And here is the Word standing before our eyes. Here is the Bread that gives us life. Here is Jesus Christ, in this Blessed Sacrament, nourishing all our lives.
Yes, His “flesh is true food, and [His] blood is true drink,” for it feeds not only our bodies, but our souls as well, anointing us with His presence, joining us to His sacrifice. And so it becomes His flesh we carry in our bodies; so it becomes His blood running in our veins. For, as Paul asks so pointedly, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And so, do we not become like our God, who comes to us so humbly in this food, who becomes one with our own flesh and blood? Is heaven not here with us and within us as we eat of His presence? Or does He lie about His gift?
Brothers and sisters, nothing more wonderful could the mind of man conceive than this blessed gift we receive at the hands of our own Savior. It is a wonder beyond our understanding and yet a wonder truly present with us, as real as our own flesh and blood. As the Lord “fed [the Israelites] in the desert with manna, a food unknown to [their] fathers,” so we feed now on this food unknown to all – this bread of the angels. And though our doubting hearts may question, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat,” when we partake of this Sacrament of the altar, we find no question remaining; for in faith we taste His glory.
Over and over Jesus repeats His refrain: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” knowing how slow we are to hear, so slow of heart to believe – how easily we “forget the Lord, [our] God, who brought [us] out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.” And falling back to the “waterless ground,” we fall away from His table and fail to realize that “with the best of wheat He fills” us. But listen to Him. Come to Him. Eat. Drink. Do not have unbelieving hearts – but believe! Be as children, pure and lowly, and “glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion,” and what is beyond your understanding will become the light of your understanding, and lead you to eternal life. He has given His “flesh for the life of the world.” Live in Him, brothers and sisters. Live in Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, how you provide for us!
giving us even your Son’s Body and Blood
to nourish us on our journey to you.
YHWH, feed us with your Son’s Body and Blood, for He alone is the finest wheat and the drink that lasts unto eternity.
Apart from you we are dead in our sin, LORD, wandering aimlessly in this desert filled with snakes. But He came indeed to save us, to share with us the life that is you. As to an oasis we come to Him, and He does not fail to revive us at His table, at the altar of His sacrifice.
O LORD, may we ever find nourishment in Jesus; each day let us be fed by His Word and His Sacrament, which makes that Word so real… real as the blood coursing through our veins. He indeed took flesh for our sakes, and now by His sacrifice that flesh He leaves with us in this Bread of the angels.
Let us never turn from Him, LORD, but participate always in His Body and Blood. Make us your children, make us like Him, the Word made flesh to join us to you.
Fri, 12 June 2020
O gentle preacher of the Word,
the fire of the Holy Spirit
upon your soul
for the conversion of heretics
and the leading of all
to God –
hold us in your arms
even as the infant Jesus
who appeared to you
along the way,
and pray that the Word
may be instilled in our hearts
even as it was in your own,
that we shall never go astray
but always have the consolation
of the Spirit of God
and His love and innocence
to lead us through this life
till we find ourselves
at home in the Father’s arms,
where you dwell in peace
with all His blessed saints.
Pray for us, our teacher and brother, this day.
Fri, 12 June 2020
(1Kgs.19:19-21; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-10; Mt.5:33-37)
“I will follow you.”
Elisha gives His yes to Elijah, and so to God. He “kiss[es] [his] father and mother good-bye” and weds himself to the prophet who has thrown “his cloak over him.” And he shall not turn back, shall not fall short of giving his entire self to the service of God, and so shall be greatly blessed. All he leaves behind. His very livelihood he slaughters, and gives these twelve oxen “to his people to eat.” For he shall not return to work for them anymore.
“You are my inheritance, O Lord,” David sings; “my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.” All his soul trusts in the Lord in whom he “take[s] refuge,” and what more does the Lord’s king need? “My heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence”: all his being finds peace in the presence of God, for all his being is set upon Him.
So it is, brothers and sisters, that to the extent we give ourselves to God, to the degree that we give our yes to the Lord, even so will we find our place secure. For making our home in heaven with Him, there is nothing to keep us from His grace. All else falls short of His glory. Heaven and earth shall pass away, and the hairs on our heads are numbered: only the New Jerusalem is lasting; only heaven is secure, for only in heaven is God.
We must be with Him. We must give ourselves to Him. Why should anything less hold sway in our lives? Why should we hesitate to follow Him with our whole heart? For there is nothing else that has importance – heaven is all that matters, and giving our lives to this place which is all life, how protected we are from “the evil one” who would dilute our love of God. And how certain our yes to our God is a no to this adversarial devil.
Honor your mother and father, children; give to all the love that is due. But give to God your very soul; let your spirit rest in Him alone, and you will be blessed forevermore.
O LORD, let us follow you unreservedly
and know your presence at our side.
YHWH, let us give you our ‘yes’ even as your Blessed Mother, even as Elisha, even as all your faithful disciples. Let us give all things over to you and follow your way unreservedly. In your truth let us ever remain, not wavering or turning back to what we have left behind. In you let us make our home and we will dwell in Heaven.
What do we need but you at our side? For what should we be concerned but serving your will? For as we take refuge in you, as we set our hearts on your work and your will, nothing can disturb us – in complete confidence our soul abides. For you are all, O LORD; you are all and everything, and nothing exists apart from you. And so, if we have you, everything is ours. Let us but give our trust to you.
And we shall never die if we trust our lives into your hands. You shall be our food and drink, and we shall sit at your table forever… O LORD, we give you our ‘yes’ this day.
Thu, 11 June 2020
(1Kgs.19:9,11-16; Ps.27:7-9,13-14; Mt.5:27-32)
“Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.”
“Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me,” David sings in our psalm; and it is the presence of the Lord that is made known to Elijah in our first reading. And that same presence stands most openly before us in the teaching of Jesus in our gospel.
Elijah comes to the mountain of God to find shelter against the persecutions of his own people, for as he says, “I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” He alone holds the word of God, and so with what zealousness his life is sought. God promises to show Himself to His lone prophet, but neither in the “strong and heavy wind” nor in “the earthquake” nor in “the fire,” which come before Elijah with great power as he stands upon the mountain, does the prophet find God. By none of these is he moved. But in “a tiny whispering sound” the presence of the Most High God is made known (“it is not by sword or spear…” 1Sm.17:47); it is this still, small voice that instills the fear of the Lord in his pierced soul and causes him to “hid[e] his face in his cloak and [go and stand] at the entrance of the cave,” now seeking shelter from the power of God.
And is not this quiet Word made known in fullness today in the presence of Jesus, He who came “humble and mounted on an ass” (Mt. 21:5)? Does His simple teaching, do His gentle words not rend our hearts in twain? Here is the power of strong wind, earthquake, and fire all together in the voice of the Son of a carpenter; here in this unassuming flesh is God Himself made known.
And what does He teach us? And how difficult is it to hear! How we must cower at His words as they reach into our heart! For He tells us that our glance must seek God alone, that our heart must speak, our actions must reveal, His love only. Else what can we do with our eye but to “gouge it out and throw it away”? What can we do with our hand but “cut it off and throw it away” if it will not do the will of the Lord? For all else is waste, and to pursue in blindness the mere pleasures of the flesh, to look upon the vanity of the world with longing, will but bring us to Gehenna – this the gentle Lord would prevent with all His might, with even His death upon a cross.
Do not turn your look upon the sins of this degenerate age. Do not throw in your lot with those “who have forsaken [the Lord’s] covenant, torn down [His] altars, and put the prophets to the sword.” “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord,” and you “shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” – and you shall be wed in truth to Him who is all love, and you shall be called to anoint kings and prophets, to do the will of the Father in fullness as His holy children.
O LORD, let us be pure of heart,
that we might see you, that we might know you,
that we might be in your presence and do your will.
YHWH, how can we bear your Word reaching down into our souls; how can we stand in your presence? Though you come to us in gentleness and humility, your loving word is severe to hearts full of sin as our own. And so we hide our faces from your radiant presence.
Let us not be afraid, O LORD, to heed your Word and do your will; change our hearts that they might be pure as your own. Let us not look with lust upon the tempting objects of this world or reach our hand out to them or run to find them… In peace and in calm let us remain in your presence, your Word ministering to our poor souls. Let us desire only to be like you, dear God, and to dwell in your presence.
O LORD, you will take us to your kingdom after this earthly life is spent, if we spend it in your service. Keep us close to you all our days, protect us from the attacks of the devil, and we indeed shall come to see the glory of your transcendent kingdom. O let us be subject to you and your gentle, saving Word this day!
Wed, 10 June 2020
O son of encouragement
and of consolation in the Holy Spirit,
you who were filled with faith
and lived that faith for the Lord,
giving up all things to bring His Name forth
to the ends of the earth,
calling all souls
and confirming them in the truth
by the authority of the risen Son –
whose footsteps go forth today
as did yours
upon the birth of the Church;
what souls are so blessed
to be set apart by the Spirit
to perform His works
in this dying world,
to bring His light
to those who sit in darkness?
Pray the Lord shall indeed
send out laborers into His vineyard
and they shall with the same faith
be an encouragement to all,
a consolation to Christian souls.
Wed, 10 June 2020
(1Kgs.18:41-46; Ps.65:2,10-13; Mt.5:20-26)
“You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.”
“There is the sound of a heavy rain.” The Lord is speaking. The Lord is teaching. Jesus is revealing the strait path of holiness that leads to the Father, and His words and His Person come like a fruitful rain upon a drought-stricken land.
O Lord, “thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.” By your speaking, by your teaching… by your bleeding on the cross for us “you have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest.” But will we receive these rains? Will we accept His chastisements which lead to life, which are the only way to the kingdom of God?
Here are the Lord’s words, the commands of His mouth: “Everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; any man who uses abusive language toward his brother shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and if he holds him in contempt he risks the fires of Gehenna.” To what extent has He increased the prescriptions of the law! For He calls us to a holiness that surpasses the holiness of the law. He calls us to the kingdom of God, and great rains are needed to foster its life. And so He demands that we “be reconciled with [our] brother”; and so He warns us to “settle with [our] opponent.” For we are on our way to His holy court, and not even the smallest sin will stand there.
The eyes of Elijah see but “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” It is but the shadows the prophets knew as “the sky grew dark with clouds and wind.” But it was enough to recognize the coming presence of the Lord that would relieve the drought upon the land, upon the nation of Israel. We, brothers and sisters, are those upon whom “a heavy rain fell,” for now Christ has come; now He calls to us in Person from the cross and from His throne in heaven. If you wish to come to where He is, you must go where He has been: the cross is the heavy rain which brings the sweet smelling flower of heaven.
“God’s watercourses are filled” and “rejoicing clothes the hills.” Listen to His words now. Be obedient to His command. It is the driving rain which breaks up the ground and prepares the soul for holiness.
O LORD, send your rain upon us to soften our hearts;
let us be perfect as you
by your chastising Word of love.
YHWH, release us from judgment, we pray. Send upon us your driving rain, to cleanse our souls of all harsh words and anger. How shall we stand before your throne if here we cannot forgive, for how shall we ourselves be forgiven our grave sins if our hearts are hardened? O send your rain, LORD! Send your rain, and let our hearts be open to receive it well.
Your Word is as a chastising rain to our souls, O LORD; it is the strong words from your mouth that serve to cleanse us from our sin and soften the ground of our hearts to receive your grace and blessings. If we have not your mercy within us, we are dead, for then there is no remedy for our sin. Speak to us; instruct us in your ways, and let us be obedient to your command, to your chastisement that brings new life from this poor land.
O LORD, subject us not to the trial; lead us not before your tribunal. For we have nothing to pay our debt and so cannot stand before you. Only your mercy will save us on that day. Let us have your mercy within us now, and share it with others.
Tue, 9 June 2020
(1Kgs.18:20-39; Ps.16:1-2,4-5,8,11; Mt.5:17-19)
“If the Lord is God, follow Him;
if Baal, follow him.”
Today “the only surviving prophet of the Lord” comes to reveal to the people that “the Lord is God!” Elijah seeks to open the Israelites’ eyes to the presence of God, to bring them “back to their senses.” And how evident it becomes that “they multiply their sorrows who court other gods,” and that those “who set the Lord ever before” themselves are able to declare with David in faith: “With Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
The great futility, the absolute emptiness of following false gods is shown in clear focus in the four hundred and fifty “prophets” who “hopped around the altar” and “called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, ‘Answer us, Baal!’” How well our first reading summarizes the response of gods who are no gods: “But there was no sound, and no one answering.” After “Elijah taunted them: ‘Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened,’” they compounded their worship to utter absurdity as they “called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them.”
From this exercise of futile worship Elijah calls the people, saying simply, “Come here to me.” And they move from this macabre circus scene over to the altar of the Lord the prophet prepares. And here the power of the Lord is unveiled beyond doubt to open the wayward hearts of God’s chosen ones. Water upon water is poured upon the evening sacrifice, but the Lord’s fire comes at the word of Elijah and consumes all.
“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel.” Let it be understood that your law must be followed and not the wicked contrivances of the human heart. Let be known the truth of your Son’s words: “Whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of God. Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God.” For we shall only know the “fullness of joys in your presence” if we keep to your way, following Him who has come “to fulfill” “the law and the prophets.” Let us never “court other gods” but with your humble king call out ever, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, all your Law is holy for you alone are holy
and lead us only into your presence –
praise you, O LORD our God!
YHWH, you alone are God indeed; you alone should we worship – your NAME alone should we call upon to answer all our needs. And your Law we should keep with all our hearts if we hope to gain a hearing from you.
We are so blind, O LORD, blind to your presence, blind to your power, blind to your love for us and the care you provide in your Word. We seek to make our own way, to worship a god of our own making, and so we fall away from you who hold our very lives in your hands. Send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon us to awaken us to your glory and your love here in our midst this day, that we might turn to true worship, worship of you who alone are worthy of our praise.
O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled in us; let us keep your commands perfectly, following in the way of your only Son, who is the fulfillment of your Word. Yes, you alone are God and He alone is the way to you – let us live in your truth.
Mon, 8 June 2020
O harp of the Holy Spirit
whose song rose up to Jesus
and in honor of the Virgin Mary,
whose heart was set on Heaven
and the eternal light therein,
and who served so well to defend the faith
when from contemplation you came –
pray we too shall have a song
dedicated wholly to the Lord
welling up in hearts
set on His presence,
on the kingdom that passes not away;
and pray, too, the teaching of the Church
shall always be true,
shall always be rooted
in the Spirit,
expressive of the love of God.
What is this world as it passes away,
and who are we apart from God
and His House?
O how we long for Heaven!
Pray, dear brother, with our Blessed Mother,
that we shall come to dwell where you are.
Mon, 8 June 2020
(1Kgs.17:7-16; Ps.4:2-5,7-8; Mt.5:13-16)
“The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”
Again today we see in our readings that the Lord provides for His children’s needs, that indeed He is with us until the end of the age – yes, “the Lord does wonders for His faithful one.”
As “the brook where Elijah was hiding ran dry,” the Lord instructed him to go to Zarephath of Sidon, a pagan territory, saying, “I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” Elijah is obedient and the Lord is faithful to His word, for just “as he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there.” (Indeed, how wonderful it is to see the word of the Lord fulfilled!) Elijah does not hide the Lord’s prophecy from his benefactress, and she, too, believes the word the Lord has spoken. And so she and her son and the prophet were “able to eat for a year” from a jar that was all but empty.
Brothers and sisters, our psalmist David sings in joy to the Lord today, “O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!” And how certain it is that He gives light to those who seek Him, those who have faith in Him. For “when [we] call… [He] relieve[s] [us]… in distress… [and] put[s] gladness into [our] heart[s], more than when grain and wine abound.” For the light of the Lord is greater than the bread we eat; it is His love alone which provides all and alone brings joy to our souls.
And we are called to share in that light, to be “the light of the world.” It is into us He places His light and then invites us to “set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house”: “Your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.” As He is Light, we must be light; as He provides for the needs of all, we must provide for the needs of all. And we must believe that, as “the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah,” just so the light He gives our lives shall not dim and the salt which draws it forth shall not lose its savor – we must believe that He indeed will provide for us, even to His second coming. And it shall be so. His love shall ever grow and this Bread be shared more and more with those He calls out of the world. Though famine be upon the land, He feeds us with the finest wheat, and calls us to feed others.
O LORD, let your light shine upon us and through us –
let us have faith in you
and see your work accomplished in our lives.
YHWH, let the light of your countenance shine upon us, and let that same light shine through us to illumine the world, to give light to all who see us. You alone provide for us; you alone feed us; and you alone make our lives of worth – let it be you we bring to others.
If our salt be not of you, O LORD, what good will it be and what good can it do? Apart from you and the light of your love, we are useless, fit for the trash. But if we keep our eyes fixed on you and your holy light, if we call to you in our distress and have faith in the care you take for the souls of those who love you, then we shall be made whole in your sight and ready to serve your will.
What water can we find upon this earth, LORD, for it is dry and lifeless. Our spirits sag and the darkness threatens to overcome us. Let us not be of the darkness; let us not give in to its threats. Let us remember you and in you place our trust, and there shall be food and water in abundance, and we will see your hand at work even in our own lives. Praise you for your goodness!
Sun, 7 June 2020
(1Kgs.17:1-6; Ps.121:1-8; Mt.5:1-12)
“My help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
It is He whom we seek when we “lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains.” And what do we find but that “the Lord is [our] guardian; the Lord is [our] shade; He is beside [us] at [our] right hand.”
Does the Lord not watch over those who trust in Him? Take Elijah for your example. He is led into exile under the stars, separated far from his people, yet he finds “the sun shall not harm [him] by day, nor the moon by night.” He finds, in fact, his needs are met in a most marvelous way, for “ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.” At the Lord’s command even these birds of the air serve to provide the needs of those who take refuge in Him. And His refreshing waters are always at our side.
Brothers and sisters, what do we see when we lift our eyes to the mountain? Do we not see the Lord sitting, teaching us His way? Are our hearts not nourished by His Word and our souls refreshed by His Bread? He speaks to us only truth, assuring us that “blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.” He tells us what we indeed find as we live our lives under His wings. If our refuge were the world, how could sorrow and lowliness bring us blessing? Would our hunger and thirst not then be for the riches of this world, and we find ourselves fatted thereby for the day of slaughter? But being “single-hearted” and with a “hunger and thirst for holiness,” we find ourselves more than satisfied; we find that we “shall see God.” What more need has the devout soul than to dwell in the light of the Lord?
“The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever”; He shall not “suffer your foot to slip,” for “He neither slumbers nor sleeps” but is ever diligent in the protection He provides His holy ones. And so what should you do but “be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” As long as you remain with Him, He shall watch over you; and to His blessings there is no end, for all is held in His sacred hands and His desire is always to shower His mercy upon your soul.
O LORD, as we give ourselves over to your Word
and His way of the Cross,
you bless us and bring us into your kingdom.
YHWH, you watch over all our ways; you guard and guide and bless our days. Ever at our side you wait, to feed us with all we need. How blessed indeed we are to have you as our God. There is none who provides as you do.
And so, let us continue on your way, LORD; lead us each day to the place we should be. In your will all is accomplished well – let us be ever at your side.
Though we mourn and though we weep, though we hunger and thirst for your love… though we suffer in this world for holiness’ sake, you answer all our desires, O LORD our God.
And so, let us be as your prophets of old, trusting only in your hand, needing nothing but your presence with us and the promised reward of Heaven. For nothing can harm us if you are there, and with you we already taste the kingdom.
Sat, 6 June 2020
(Ex.34:4b-6,8-9; Dn.3:52-56; 2Cor.13:11-13; Jn.3:16-18)
“The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; and blessed is your holy and glorious name.” Brothers and sisters, let us praise God this holy day; let us rejoice in His love. Let us be as Moses, who upon hearing the NAME of the Lord spoken in his hearing, upon having the Lord’s presence revealed to him, “at once bowed down to the ground in worship.” He did not fail to bless God “in the temple of [His] holy glory,” but as the Lord “look[ed] into the depths from His throne upon the cherubim” – as He who transcends all made Himself known to His servant upon the earth – cried aloud to God for His protection, for the protection that the three holy men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) knew by the Hand of God, by His blessed angel, when saved from the flames in the fiery furnace. And though “exalted above all forever,” the Lord hears and answers His children.
God is three and God is love. The One God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is made known in His love. Both the unity of God and His gracious and merciful love are evident today in John’s famous quote: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” They are, of course, Jesus’ words whispered to Nicodemus in his night of doubt and question, and they should fall deeply into our own ears and speak clearly to our hearts of the intimacy of Father and Son and the love one holds and the other carries, a love which is in essence the working of the Spirit. It is this love and union with these to which we are all called, and which we all find by believing “in the name of the only Son of God.”
Brothers and sisters, the presence of God is among us always; the Son has come to save our race, and has thus made all things holy. What Moses knew on Mount Sinai with the “two stone tablets” in his hands, we should know simply by opening our eyes – for His NAME should be written on our hearts. And so always we should be in prayer and praise of the majesty of God. With the living creatures and the elders in heaven we should continually bow down before Him and stand to shout of His glory. Open your hearts to Him who is all in all.
On this Trinity Sunday I will leave you with Paul’s parting words to the Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Speaking of God" (first part) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may we believe in the only Son
whom you have sent
that we might have eternal life in the Spirit.
YHWH, you indeed are merciful, and so you send your only Son to us to save us from the condemnation upon our souls because of our sin against you. From your throne in Heaven send your Spirit forth to carry the salvation wrought by your Son to the very ends of the earth, that all might be one in you and live in your eternal peace.