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

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

 

“Just as through the disobedience of the one man

the many were made sinners,

so, through the obedience of the one,

the many will be made righteous.”

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

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

save us from temptation. 

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

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

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

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

(Is.58:9-14;   Ps.86:1-6,11;   Lk.5:27-32)

 

“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,

“restorer of ruined homesteads.”

 

“Levi gave a great reception for Jesus in his house,” but it is Jesus who invites him, and all sinners, “to a change of heart” and to join Him in the home He makes for us all in heaven.  As Levi (or Matthew) has done, so must we all: we must leave our “customs post,” that which roots us to this world – we must stand up and follow Him.

“You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.”  David makes his prayer in our psalm, coming to the Lord as one “afflicted and poor,” begging the Lord’s pity upon his soul.  And there is confidence that his cry is answered, that his soul is gladdened; for the promise has been made through Isaiah that “He will renew [our] strength,” that we “shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.”  All that He has broken down in His anger against us and against our sins shall be raised up again: “The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up.”  As we turn to Him and “call the sabbath a delight… not following [our] ways, seeking [our] own interests, or speaking with malice,” we shall indeed “delight in the Lord” and in His inheritance; He shall indeed “nourish [us] with the heritage of Jacob” – the food He gives us will far surpass the bread upon the table at Levi’s banquet.  For it is upon His own Body we shall feed, and so find ourselves renewed in spirit and strengthened for the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord comes to invite all “sick people” to His healing grace.  All who turn from their sins shall be acceptable to Him.  And in His House they shall find a place, and be nourished well.  “Even on the parched land” they shall find the water of life, for His grace extends to all places and all peoples.  And with the bread we bestow on the hungry we ourselves shall be fed, for by this labor we shall unite with Him.  “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Let us find the mercy His words desire for us.

 

*******

O LORD, help us to recognize our sin

and call upon you for healing,

that your House might be rebuilt. 

YHWH, teach us to turn from our sin, from following our own ways, that we might follow your Son where He leads, that we might come to Him for healing this day.  Let us come into your light and there remain.

You will renew us, LORD, if we do well, for it is your desire to share your mercy with us and make us as your own again.  Though in ruins our lives stand, though all seem lost because of our sin, when we call out to you, you hear us and gladden our souls with your refreshing love.

When Jesus comes to us, O LORD – as He shall come to all to heal us of all illness – when He stands before us and invites us to follow Him, may we be as Matthew and leave all of this world behind and set our hearts on obedience to His voice.  May we invite Him in to the table of our bodies and our souls that He might feed us always with His Word and with the Bread He is, and that we might thus feed others.  O let us be nourished well and be as a watered garden!

Direct download: Saturday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Is.58:1-9;   Ps.51:3-6,18-19;   Mt.9:14-15)

 

“Would that today you might fast

so as to make your voice heard on high!”

 

Brothers and sisters, in this day of fasting and penance, first we must “acknowledge [our] offense” as David in our psalm.  We must cry out to our God: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”  This is our leaven of truth.  “A contrite spirit, a heart contrite and humbled” the Lord cannot resist.  It is this heart the Lord answers; it is prayer of this soul He hears – to this “cry for help… He will say: Here I am!”

“When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.”  We “go in mourning” when Jesus is no longer in our midst.  What does this then say of our fast?  For though the Lord may be with us always in the power of the Spirit, yet He is physically taken from us now till the end of time.  Our fast must therefore be a permanent condition all the while we walk this earth.  And so true is this if we understand the Lord’s definition of a fast as revealed in our first reading from Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly… sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked… and not turning your back on your own.”  And what sense it makes that this be our fast now that Jesus is gone, for are we not His children here, called to carry out His mission in this world?  Are not these the very things He instructs us to do in His stead for the least of His brothers who suffer now?  On this earth here at the end of the age we should be engaged in fasting always.

And if we pray with a sincere heart, and if we do the will of the Lord in all things, what promise He makes to us: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed…  The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”  All we ask shall be given us; all we seek we shall find in Him.  And so, what shall our fasting be for us but pure joy, even as we become one with the Lord our God?

A blessed call is upon us now, one which makes our voices known to Him.  Let us “remove from [our] midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.”  Let us denounce any “quarreling and fighting” that keeps us from Him, and see that His will is done in our lives.  Then indeed He shall hear us; then by this death to sin we shall come to the glory of our God.

 

*******

O LORD, what can we do but fast

now that your Son has been taken from us? –

let us do His work, stand in His stead,

laying down our lives for all in need. 

YHWH, your Son has been taken from us, and so, on this day we fast.  He no longer walks among us, and so we must be as His presence.  We must free the oppressed and feed the hungry, doing the works He did while He was in our midst.  And if we do this, we shall be pleasing in your sight, as He was, and so be blessed.

With a contrite heart let us come to you, O LORD, recognizing our faults and failures to serve you as we ought.  Instead of laying down our lives in humble service of those in need of your Word and your Bread, we have spoken ill of our brother and been oppressors ourselves.  And so, any offering we have made has been in vain.  And so we have but served to separate ourselves from you and your compassion.

O LORD, let us not continue blind to our wickedness but seek each day to convert our hearts to your call to be as your Son and live His way of sacrifice for the sake of others.

Direct download: Fri._after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Dt.30:15-20;   Ps.1:1-4,6,39:5;   Lk.9:22-25)

 

“The Lord watches over the way of the just,

but the way of the wicked vanishes.”

 

In our first reading, Moses makes clear the choice we all must face: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.”  “By loving the Lord… heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him,” the Israelites will be blessed with “long life” in the Promised Land; they “will live and grow numerous” by “loving Him and walking in His ways.”  This will be life for them.  “If, however, [they] turn away [their] hearts and will not listen… [they] will certainly perish.”  The promise to them will soon die if they walk “in the way of sinners.”

Life and death.  The blessing and the curse.  The just and the wicked.  To the Israelites the promise that they would be “like a tree planted near running water” if they followed the commandments of the Lord referred quite literally, quite physically, to the blessing of long life and enjoying the fruits of the earth.  It showed itself in the numbers of people in the nation and the land they were given to occupy.  When they were cursed, their kingdom was torn down and the land taken away from them.  They became “like chaff which the wind drives away” when they were forced into exile from the lands of Judah and Israel.

What is the land we must so treasure today, brothers and sisters?  What place are we called to preserve by following in the way of the Lord?  For now he “who gains the whole world” will likely “destroy himself in the process.”  Now our sights, our hopes, can no longer be set on the physical universe.  Jesus has come.  The Son of Man walks in our midst.  And His presence, His flesh, makes the heavenly homeland our desire – it is this which is now our Promised Land.  It is the number born into this kingdom which now causes our hearts to rejoice.  It is this blessing that now comes to him “who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.”

And the Lord makes clear what “the way of the just” now entails.  Our gospel tells us “Jesus said to all” – not just to His disciples, but to all who would find the blessing, would find life – “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.”  And His steps include enduring “many sufferings,” being “put to death” and then being “raised up on the third day.”  Now it is death that leads to life.  Now this world must be left behind.  Now, though we love all – even our enemies – and everything upon it, we must leave the earth we have held so dear.  The command is the same (to renounce all sin and love God), but now the prize is much greater, and so the way there much more narrow.  But the Lord blesses our every step toward Him. 

 

*******

O LORD, let us remain in you and in your Son,

walking the way of His Cross

that we might not lose our souls

but gain the life of Heaven. 

YHWH, may we find not only long life on the land but eternal life in your heavenly kingdom by our turning away from all sin and following your Son on the way of the Cross.  Let us be dead to all the distractions of this wicked world that we might dwell with you alone.

Death comes to the wicked, LORD, death that spells the demise of his soul, of his life in you who are Life itself.  And so, how shall he live anymore if apart from you?  And so, what is his life then worth?  It is indeed like chaff driven away by the wind.

But those who take their refuge in you, who meditate on your Word and the Word that is your Son, these you prosper in all they do, for all they do is in your will and so cannot but receive your blessing, the blessing of your living presence, LORD.

Let us choose this day to live in you and never to turn our backs to your call to love.  Laying down our lives, O LORD, may we be carried by your angels.

Direct download: Thursday_after_Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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

 

“Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, you see what is hidden;

let there be in our hearts no sin

but only your heavenly presence. 

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

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

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

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

(Jas.4:1-10;   Ps.55:7-11,23;   Mk.9:30-37) 

“In the city I see violence and strife;

day and night they prowl about upon its walls.”

The violence this world holds is known most poignantly, of course, in “the Son of Man… [being] delivered into the hands of men who… put Him to death,” but exists most pervasively and fundamentally in our own bodies, insofar as they are conformed to the spirit of the world.  For as James asks so pointedly, “Where do the conflicts and disputes among you originate?  Is it not your inner cravings that make war within your members?”  It is indeed the evil desire in our bones, the “envy,” the “love of the world [that] is enmity to God” which causes us to “quarrel and fight,” which is the source of all sin, and so death, and so war.

That “the spirit He has implanted in us tends toward jealousy” is evident even in the apostles, whom we find in today’s gospel “arguing about who was the most important.”  Even these, who have yet to receive the “greater gift” – the Holy Spirit of God who serves to cleanse His children of the evil in them – even these are divided by the cravings that make war in our members.  Even these contribute to the crucifixion of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, if you would “find shelter from the violent storm and the tempest” at work in you and about you, you must “cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you.”  “Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight.”  “Purify your hearts” of all that is not in conformity with the Spirit of God and you will find safe haven from the violence of this world and the violence of your own hearts.  For “never will He permit the just man to be disturbed.”

And both James and the Lord teach what it is to be just, what it is to excel before God.  If you desire the goodness of the Lord, rend your hearts; “be humbled in the sight of God and He will raise you on high.”  You cannot raise yourself, for you are but dust; and dust you must be if you desire holiness in the presence of the Most High: “If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all,” as is Jesus, the suffering Son crucified for the sins of each of us.

Brothers and sisters, let our hearts be so docile as to welcome His children openly – as His humble children we ourselves must be.  For then we shall welcome Him; for then we shall be sons of the Father, free from sin and so no longer subject to the violence known in the city that is this world of sin.  May our own members and all the members of the Church be cleansed of all strife by the power of the Holy Spirit.

*******

O LORD, help us to be humble before you,

that you might raise us up from our sin.

YHWH, should we not be as children before you?  Is your Son not like a Child, O LORD?  Is He not the humblest of all?  O let us be like Him, and you!

Is there some other image in which we should be made, LORD, than your own?  What of this world should beguile our soul?  To whom should we aspire but our heavenly Father, and how shall we find you except through your Son?  Does He not show us the way by His death on the Cross?

O LORD, let us not be deaf to your speaking to us in His words and actions, for He reveals to us who we must be.  Help us to leave the example of the world behind, to abandon all hatred and jealousy, all the sinful pride and insatiable greed wrought into our fallen nature, and come to you even this day that we might be redeemed by your Son’s sacrifice and our sharing therein.

O help us to be humble, LORD, to find the humility only you know.  With all our hearts let us serve you, and your glory will be ours.

Direct download: BC-022112-Tu_7_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.3:13-18;   Ps.19:8-10,15;   Mk.9:14-29) 

“The command of the Lord is clear,

enlightening the eye.”

What is the wisdom of which James speaks in our first reading but this enlightening of the eye and the mind by following the command of the Lord?  It is the words and the wisdom of Jesus, reflected clearly in the Lord’s own life, James relates to the waiting ear this day.  What does he instruct but to practice “a humility filled with good sense” and to “cultivate peace,” not to “nurse bitter jealousy in [our] hearts” but to “refrain from arrogant and false claims against the truth”?  We must be as “innocent” as the Lamb of God, and as forgiving.  Then we will realize that “the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple,” for “wisdom from above” will then fill us, and lead us by its sacred light.

How clear the command of the Lord is in our gospel, and how powerfully it enlightens the eye.  As He comes down from the mountain where He has been transfigured before His principal apostles, “a large crowd… on catching sight of Jesus” is immediately “overcome with awe.  They [run] up to greet Him.”  Being presented with the boy possessed by a spirit that often “throws him into the fire and into water,” Jesus “reprimanded the unclean spirit by saying to him, ‘Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: Get out of him and never enter him again!’”  And the boy is healed; he is freed from bondage to the devil, and now in his right mind, he can see.

Though perhaps not always so dramatic, every command of the Lord casts out just such darkness which pervades our souls.  Coming in faith before Him as the father who trusts in God and in His Son, the same healing do we know.  Following His words, our eyes and ears are opened, too, and we discover that indeed “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.”  So, brothers and sisters, let us pray with David today: “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” that we might remain ever in His enduring purity and light.

*******

O LORD, if we but lived lives of prayer in all humility,

never could we be separated from you

and always you would work through us.

YHWH, how shall our words and thoughts match those of your Son, who commands and the devils flee, whose heart is set always on your will… who sacrifices His life for our sakes?  Help our unbelief, our lack of trust in you and in your power, that we might by your grace come to share in that power with Jesus, even as we share in His humility.

How can we live in your perfect innocence, LORD, we who are such a faithless lot, we who lack prayer in our heart?  O how easily we are overcome!  But you are our hope.  You come down from the mountain, from the glory on high, to dwell with the likes of us and save us from the devil’s grasp, which has such a dire hold upon us and upon our children.  Only by the grace of your presence will this generation be saved – leave us not till your work is accomplished.

Teach us, O LORD; give us your wisdom, that your peace might be ever in our souls and we might serve you with all our thoughts and words.  Save us, dear God, from all darkness.

Direct download: BC-022012-M_7_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O disciple of John

and shepherd who drank deeply

of the cup of Christ’s suffering,

you who bore both

the burden of a long life

and the pain of a violent death

yet remained faithful

till the end –

pray that the fire into which we are cast

we may also endure

as the sacrifice of Jesus

and so find it fruitful,

and so find it blessed…

and so rejoice in the witness

we are granted to give

in the name of our Savior.

May the offering of our lives

join with your own and all the saints’

in rising as holy incense

to the throne of God

and serve as witness,

to the eyes that behold us,

of the Lord’s great power and love.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

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

if we do not love as you love? 

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

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

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

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

O Rock of the Church,

leader of God’s people

to whom the Father has revealed

the divinity of His Son

and on whom the Son has therefore

built His Church,

giving you the keys to the kingdom,

the power to bind and loose

both on earth and in Heaven,

that the ship you steer

might conquer all Satan’s power

by the power of the Spirit

with which you serve your brothers,

secure in the blessed protection

and guidance of the Lord –

pray the Church you do yet lead

shall fulfill the call

the Christ has placed

upon every soul

and that we shall come to our heavenly home

in the light of the Messiah.

Pray we shall indeed be strong

and give faithful witness to our Savior. 

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

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

 

“On this rock I will build my Church.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, as long as we remain in your House

we shall be secure,

for the faith of Peter will strengthen us. 

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

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

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

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

O blessed reformer of the Church

who by a holy austerity

cleansed your soul

of the corruption of this world

and served by example

to lead others to a religious life –

teach us this day

of the chastising hand of God

and the suffering which leads

to joy,

that in the will of the Lord

we might all be purged

of our dross

and come to the kingdom of Heaven.

Pray that we, too, might realize

and so benefit from

the blessing upon us

when our souls are lashed

with pains

that threaten sorrow,

for He does but wish to lift us

from the sinfulness of this passing earth

to the consolation of His presence.

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

(Jas.2:14-24,26;   Ps.112:1-6;   Mk.8:34-9:1) 

“Faith without works is as dead as a body without breath.”

How dead indeed is a body without breath; how short a time we can go without breathing before dying.  And so how much is our faith dependent on works to remain alive.

Brothers and sisters, we are human, we have bodies – of the earth, of flesh and bone, we are.  We are not angels.  And having bodies we must use what God gave us, what we are: it is in such action we prove the worth of our salt.  We cannot sit by idly while another suffers and call ourselves Christian; we cannot prove our faith other than by actions.  We must work out our call.  We must “take up [our] cross and follow in [Christ’s] steps.”  Sitting by the side of the road will get us nowhere.  Just as Abraham showed His belief in God by taking his son to be sacrificed, so must we move as the Lord calls.

And He calls us to service, He calls us to love.  He calls us to lay down our lives for the sake of others.  And this not just in thoughts or words, but in deeds.  We must be as He who “dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright” and conduct our “affairs with justice.”  If we are ashamed of Jesus and the doctrine of the cross He preaches, if we hide our light under a bushel basket afraid to speak or act in His name, He makes quite clear that He will be “ashamed of [us] when He comes with the holy angels in the Father’s glory.”  Profession of faith alone is not sufficient to enter “the reign of God established in power”; we must practice what is preached.

Was not Jesus of flesh and bone?  Did He not perform great works in our midst?  And does He not still perform great works through us His Church; or are we now angels flying at heaven’s gate?  Flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone we must be, or we are nothing worth.  We eat His body and drink His blood and shoulder His cross to find “the wealth and riches [that] shall be in His house,” that will live eternally.

(It occurs to me that the quote could be reversed to be phrased more literally: “Faith without works is dead as breath without a body,” wandering aimlessly; but it would not get across the dire need for works quite so forcefully.)

*******

O LORD, man and woman are one

and are brought together in your will;

in our covenants let us reflect your mercy

and faithfulness.

YHWH, give us your patience in enduring all things.  You are kind and merciful; let us be like you.  Help us to practice your compassion in our marriages and in all our relationships – let us be ready as you to forgive.  Yes, let all our sins be put far from us.

If we endure with you, O LORD, shall we not be blessed?  If with you we practice patience and kindness when put to the test, will we not share in your reward?  Let us be so joined to you, LORD, that we may indeed be called your Body in this world.

O my LORD, let us never be divorced from love of one another or love of you.  Let our covenants be sure as your own; for you have promised to be with us even till the end of the age, and so, should we abandon one another?  Would this not be an abandonment of you?

Let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, O LORD, and let us therefore live forever in your eternal Word, in the truth and love only you hold.

Direct download: BC-021712-F_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.2:1-9;   Ps.34:2-7;   Mk.8:27-33) 

“You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s!”

This is a most important statement Jesus makes; it really cuts to the heart of His teaching, and to His sacrifice for our sins.

He has just finished asking His apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” and for perhaps the first time heard their belief that He is the Messiah.  This is a critical moment.  But there is no time to sit back and enjoy it, for “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later.”  He knows they will not understand.  He knows they will not hear “rise three days later” but “suffer” and “death” and be appalled that the Son of God should be treated so.  The sacrifice is here beyond their comprehension.  And He knows, too, that Peter does not only speak for all when he declares Jesus the Messiah, but also when he “remonstrates with Him.”  And so the Lord turns around from where Peter had led Him privately, and makes a point of “eyeing the disciples”; for in His reprimand of Peter as “Satan”, He reprimands them all.  Their minds must be utterly changed; they must see things as God – they must look upon heaven and not earth.

James, of course, speaks of the same matter in his discourse condemning favoritism or the judging of others by appearance.  For if we favor the rich man with the gold rings, we are showing our preference for the mark of the beast “who blaspheme[s] that noble name which has made us God’s own.”  If we judge against the faith of the poor in favor of the wealth of the rich and powerful, what are we saying?  That we desire the riches and power of this world and not the treasure God holds in store for us in heaven.  We are indeed “as judges who hand down corrupt decisions,” for we are nothing but false to the faith we profess.

Again we must ask ourselves what our hearts are set upon.  The Lord’s challenge to our souls is severe.  Is it Satan’s realm we prefer, or are we as “the lowly” of whom David sings, who find salvation in glorifying the Lord.  It is a clear choice with which we are presented: to judge as God or to judge with the limited and ultimately deadly vision of man fallen under the sway of Satan.  It is from just such judgment the Lord has come to release the apostles, and all His Church, in His Name.

*******

O LORD, let us not be plunged in the sea

or herded into the nether world,

but let us set our hearts and minds on you

and so find life everlasting.

YHWH, let us be poor, poor in spirit, poor to this world and its deadly passions.  Let us put no hope in the riches that rot, or we shall rot with them.  Let us seek, rather, the riches of your kingdom by giving our poor cup of water for the upbuilding of your Church.

Take from us, LORD, all that keeps us from you.  Let us not steal or walk in the paths of the unrighteous or look with lust upon anything or anyone.  Take hand or foot or eye from us instead; keep us from all sin.  Let our salt not rot, our lives not be worthless, but let us bear fruit in your NAME.

LORD, our God, take especially from us our foolish pride, our belief that we can do anything of ourselves.  O let us not trust in ourselves or in the things of this world but only in you and help rather than hurt the just man you bless in your holy will.  Let all souls be led to your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-021612-Th_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.1:19-27;   Ps.15:1-5;   Mk.8:22-26) 

“Jesus laid hands on his eyes, and he saw perfectly.”

What is it to see perfectly but to be as “the man who peers into freedom’s ideal law and abides by it”?  For to see perfectly is to see as God sees, not looking upon the surface of things – that which is reflected in a mirror – but to see the light of God reflected off the souls of His children.  And not merely to speak of such things, but, as James states so forthrightly, to “act on this word,” to let the Lord’s light take “root in you”… to “humbly welcome the Word,” and then to “put it into practice.”

Does Jesus not put the word of God into practice in our gospel today?  James says we should be  “looking after orphans and widows in their distress,” and Jesus shows this concern for the poor and needy by taking “the blind man’s hand and [leading] him outside the village,” there to anoint his eyes and grant him vision to “see everything clearly.”  With all His life Jesus gives example of how we must put flesh to the word of God, for He Himself is the Word made flesh.  If we have not flesh to the laws we hold, to the teaching we receive, we have not Christ, and our faith is worthless.  “He who walks blamelessly and does justice,” he it is that is acceptable in God’s sight.

“Can you see anything?” Jesus whispers to all of us as He works to illumine our vision.  “Do you know my touch upon your eyes?”  If we see people “like walking trees,” He will touch us again, for He does not tire of serving our needs.  And must we not be the same?  Must we not never harm but always help our “fellow man”?  Must we not be men as Jesus?  He is the mirror in which we see ourselves.

And oh to gaze into His face when we awake!  Oh to even now know His flesh in our bones and His blood flowing through our veins!  Oh to be a Christian!  A Christian!  A man living as Christ…  What joy is ours as He gives light to our eyes and we see ourselves walking with Him!  Let it be so for all eternity.

*******

O LORD, let us be for you,

living perfectly in your will.

YHWH, let us be with you; let us give our lives to you, doing your work in accord with your will and not following the vain path our own desires mark out for us.  Let us be your own; let us be your own, your disciples in this world.

How can we do anything if you do not bless it, LORD?  Where shall we end if apart from you?  For we indeed are as vapor that quickly vanishes, and empty are all our plans.  But with you and in your NAME, miracles we can perform.  Great works we may accomplish if in humility we follow your way; for you are great and all powerful, and we become as you are when we walk with you.

O LORD, we do not know what tomorrow may bring.  Even this day is a mystery to us.  Let us but place this day into your hands, and tomorrow will care for itself in your will.  Let us not die seeking the vain riches of this earth but come to life by your saving grace.

Direct download: BC-021512-W_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Jas.1:12-18;   Ps.94:12-15,18-19;   Mk.8:14-21) 

“He wills to bring us to birth with a word spoken in truth.”

But how deaf we are to His speaking.

The disciples exhibit a remarkable degree of ignorance in our gospel today.  It would be comical were it not so usual, were it not such a defining trait of us humans.  Preoccupied with their forgetfulness to bring bread for their journey, when the Lord mentions the word “yeast” in a chastising instruction, their minds go immediately to the bread they now lack by their negligence.  Able to go no deeper than the surface of the words, and able not to see beyond their immediate concerns, they are as blind to the truth Jesus would teach them as so often we weak humans are.  For those still struggling with the text at hand, Jesus is telling us that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.  Has not the Lord shown this quite directly by feeding the thousands by virtue of a blessing spoken upon a few loaves?

Our hearts should not be set on the bread of this world as are the Pharisees’, whose yeast is a pride in self that rises to condemnation.  It is pride that blinds us and concern for the body that produces ignorance.  “Keep your eyes open!” the Lord commands.  Do not let your minds be darkened by the cares of this world – the body is useless!  It is the spirit that gives life.  Open your hearts to the teaching of the Spirit, the great gift that Jesus imparts.  “Happy the man whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach,” our psalmist sings, and so should all blessed to hear the Word of the Lord join his chorus.

James tells us in our first reading that God does not tempt us to sin.  “Rather the tug and lure of his own passion tempts every man”; only “genuine benefit comes from above, descending from the Father of the heavenly luminaries.”  Do we seek His gifts that are worthwhile, or are our hearts fixed on things below?  It may be hard to listen to His Word, to be brought to birth by His truth, but “happy the man who holds out to the end through trial!”  “The crown of life awaits… those who love” the Lord, and He is near to sustain us as we climb.

Brothers and sisters, once the Spirit fell upon the apostles, no longer did they experience such ignorance.  Is not the life-giving Word at work within us this very day?  Then our eyes should be open to His light.

*******

O LORD, help us to be humble before you,

that you might raise us up from our sin.

YHWH, should we not be as children before you?  Is your Son not like a Child, O LORD?  Is He not the humblest of all?  O let us be like Him, and you!

Is there some other image in which we should be made, LORD, than your own?  What of this world should beguile our soul?  To whom should we aspire but our heavenly Father, and how shall we find you except through your Son?  Does He not show us the way by His death on the Cross?

O LORD, let us not be deaf to your speaking to us in His words and actions, for He reveals to us who we must be.  Help us to leave the example of the world behind, to abandon all hatred and jealousy, all the sinful pride and insatiable greed wrought into our fallen nature, and come to you even this day that we might be redeemed by your Son’s sacrifice and our sharing therein.

O help us to be humble, LORD, to find the humility only you know.  With all our hearts let us serve you, and your glory will be ours.

Direct download: BC-021412-Tu_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O seven men

who lived as one

in service of the Lord

under the mantle of Our Lady,

you who left everything of this world,

all you bought and sold,

that you might discover the riches

of Heaven:

to the mountain you went

to find perfection –

to the mountain let us come

to live with God.

Led by the prompting of our Lord and Lady,

let us, too, be fruitful on this plane,

founded in humility and love and poverty,

living as one in the Body of Christ,

freely giving our lives

and so knowing the blessing

of the virtues upon which you fed.

Pray for us through our Mother

that we too follow the call of her Son.

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

(Jas.1:1-11;   Ps.119:67-68,71-72,75-77;   Mk.8:11-13) 

“Count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial.”

How well James explicates the wisdom of the cross.  First he encourages us to “realize that when [our] faith is tested this makes for endurance,” and then to “let endurance come to its perfection so that [we] may be fully mature and lacking in nothing.”  This is the wisdom of our suffering on earth; this is the blessing of the cross.

It is the same wisdom our psalmist propounds when he sings, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”  If the Word of the Lord and the promise He offers is “more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” to us, then we must undergo many afflictions to prevent our going astray into the vain things of this world.  For these flowers of the field droop and die under the scorching heat of the sun, but what is of the Lord lasts forever, and thus to join Him we must be trained to endure.

How different is the wisdom found in suffering beneath the cross; how different is this school from the one found in this world.  The exact antithesis is our King to those who rule here in vainglorious power.  For this King preaches death, and dies for us in humble poverty – this would be the shame of the one who finds his teaching in the seeking of riches and fame.  And this is why the Pharisees cannot see Jesus and the sign He is before their eyes.  Their minds are closed to the cross and its wisdom, for their hearts are set on the vain illusions of earthly life.  But He is heavenly and all the sign we need; following in the shadow of His cross will lead us to all our hearts do seek.

Brothers and sisters, be not like the Pharisees, seeking some momentous occurrence to tantalize your eyes.  The Word is within you, it is of you; and shouldering His cross you will find it growing all your life.  Hold the wisdom of the cross, ask it in faith of the generous God who will give all to you, and find the beauty of His way as you are afflicted, and comforted again.  The Lord chastises those whom He loves, and His love is pure joy, while those who would stray He leaves to die, following their sinful ways.  Come to Him and His cross, and live.

*******

O LORD, if we but lived lives of prayer in all humility,

never could we be separated from you

and always you would work through us.

YHWH, how shall our words and thoughts match those of your Son, who commands and the devils flee, whose heart is set always on your will… who sacrifices His life for our sakes?  Help our unbelief, our lack of trust in you and in your power, that we might by your grace come to share in that power with Jesus, even as we share in His humility.

How can we live in your perfect innocence, LORD, we who are such a faithless lot, we who lack prayer in our heart?  O how easily we are overcome!  But you are our hope.  You come down from the mountain, from the glory on high, to dwell with the likes of us and save us from the devil’s grasp, which has such a dire hold upon us and upon our children.  Only by the grace of your presence will this generation be saved – leave us not till your work is accomplished.

Teach us, O LORD; give us your wisdom, that your peace might be ever in our souls and we might serve you with all our thoughts and words.  Save us, dear God, from all darkness.

Direct download: BC-021312-M_6_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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

 

“Oh, that I might be firm in the ways

of keeping your statutes!”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, let us resolve to walk in your wisdom

that we might find eternal life. 

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

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

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

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

(1Kgs.12:26-32,13:33-34;   Ps.106:4,6-7,19-22;   Mk.8:1-10)

“Whoever desired it was consecrated

and became a priest of the high places.”

For this sin “the house of Jeroboam… was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.”  Not only will their king be so punished, but the whole Israelite nation will find the wrath of the Lord for such idolatrous action.  Not learning from their forefathers, whom the Lord had a mind to wipe entirely from His book of life and the promise He had given Abraham, again “they exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.”  Led by Jeroboam, who from selfish anxiety for the power the Lord had given him made two calves of gold and set them up for the people to worship – by the ministration of priests not chosen by God – they sinned grievously; as Solomon had done, they broke the most essential command to love God above all else.  And this sin will stain the nation for perpetuity and lead in time to their exile.

Only those so ordained by God may serve at His temple.  Only in the place He assigned is sacrifice and worship to be offered.  And only He is to be worshiped and adored.  No man, no king, can take any of this in his own hands.  Trust in God and obedience to His will is necessary.  All must go up to Jerusalem.

It is clear that our gospel today is a foreshadowing of the Mass, wherein Jesus’ Body is the bread we eat.  After teaching the people at length, the Lord desires to share with them food that will nourish them for their journey home.  But the disciples had but seven loaves of bread.  Yet in an action foretelling the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, “taking the seven loaves He gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to His disciples to distribute.”  And the leftovers of this miracle reach down to us this day; from “the seven wicker baskets” the disciples gathered after four thousand had eaten, we yet feed.  And it is a wonderful paradox that the more we eat of the Lord’s blessed Body, the more there is for others to share.

But this feast is not eaten under every green tree.  None can build high places and make priests for themselves.  Only those ordained by Christ distribute His bread.  And so we must come up to the Church He has founded to receive Him, the Church within whose walls His sacred body rests each day.  Only this Temple is our Jerusalem.

*******

O LORD, you provide us Bread

at the hands of your apostles;

let us worship in your House alone.

YHWH, why are we so inclined to exchange the glory you give us for the image of a grass-eating bullock?  Why do we turn to the work of our own hands and worship the golden calves we make rather than you, the one true God?  How shall we conquer our pride?

It is you who feed us, dearest LORD, your hand alone that provides for all our needs.  You alone love your children, for you are a faithful Father.  Yet we put our faith in molten idols.

Your wondrous deeds you have made plain to our eyes; your own Son you have sent into our midst.  All we ask for He gives in His grace.  He would teach us all we need to know… yet how soon we forget His presence among us.  Help us, O LORD, to turn back to you.

All as one we assemble before you this day in your holy Church, dear God, and pray that by those you have ordained you will feed all your people with the Body and Blood of your only Son.

Direct download: BC-021112-Sa_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O brothers in the faith

who brought that same faith

to the peoples

entrusted to your care,

who extended the reach of the Church,

gathering in lands

under her holy roof

and into her blessed arms…

faithful you were unto death

in proclaiming the word of God –

please pray that we, too,

shall be holy brothers of Christ,

offering our work, our lives,

for the sake of the nations

yet to be called

into His fold,

for the sake of peoples

unfamiliar with His Word,

that the heavenly kingdom

may come to fulfillment

and all be made one in God’s presence.

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

(1Kgs.11:29-32,12:19;   Ps.81:9-15;   Mk.7:31-37)

“My people heard not my voice,

and Israel obeyed me not;

so I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts.”

The Lord has said, “There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship an alien god,” but the people did not listen.  Led by their corrupted king, “they walked according to their own counsels” and took to themselves the perverse gods worshiped by the nations of the world.  And so it is that the prophet must remove his “new cloak” and tear it “into twelve pieces,” one for each of the tribes of Israel.  How sad that the great kingdom which had so recently been united and so greatly been blessed by peace round about under the reign of the wise Solomon, now is to be torn asunder.  Only a remnant will be left to David, out of respect for the Lord’s promise to him; and now, we are told: “Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.”

“If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways…”  The psalmist’s words come as a lament for the deafness of the nation.  If they would but listen and turn to Him, their amazement would go “beyond all bounds,” as does that of the people who brought Jesus “a deaf man with a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.”  They, too, would exclaim, “He has done everything well!  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”  For Israel is this deaf man.  All of us are this man impeded in his speech.  All need desperately to turn to Him, to have Him pray over us – to seek the words of His lips.  And so all will know the blessing that comes thereby: “At once the man’s ears were opened; he was freed from the impediment, and began to speak plainly.”

Hear the voice of the Lord, brothers and sisters.  Listen to it in the deep recesses of your heart.  This voice comes to heal, like light to the very drums upon which the vibrations beat.  Such purity could be yours.  Such grace could be known in all the world, healing the rifts that divide nations and peoples, if all would but come to Jesus in the same faith as this deaf man and his friends.  And then would we speak plainly of what the Lord has done.  No deceit upon our lips, we would declare Him Lord… and the amazement at the peace He brings would extend to the corners of the world.  Let your ears “be opened!” to His voice; with a soft heart turn to Jesus the Christ.

*******

O LORD, you make the deaf hear and the mute speak;

heal our brokenness – let us worship you alone.

YHWH, open our ears that we might hear your voice calling us to worship you alone.  Let us turn from strange gods and walking in our own ways and be obedient to you.  We are deaf and we are dumb; may your Son touch us and pray over us that we might declare your glory to all.  O let us be healed!

Why are our hearts so hardened against your loving embrace?  Why do we turn so readily from the radiance of your face to look upon the corruption of this unholy place?  You alone are LORD and God, your Son alone can save us – O let us heed your call, dear LORD!  From our sin may He redeem us.

From rebellion let us come, we who are our own worst enemy.  Save us from ourselves, dear God, and our disobedience.  Take us far from the crowds and give us your attention, that somehow our hearts might open to your loving voice.

Direct download: BC-021012-F_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.11:4-13;   Ps.106:3-4,35-37,40;   Mk.7:24-30)

“It is not right to take the food of the children

and throw it to the dogs.” 

Jesus speaks these words to a foreign woman, a pagan Greek, who “beg[s] Him to expel the demon from her daughter.”  They seem harsh.  Some may interpret them so.  After all, in our gospel we find Jesus traveling to the northernmost part of Israel where “He retired to a certain house and wanted no one to recognize Him.”  And here comes this foreign woman to beg at His table…  Can He find no peace?  But though the Lord may be weary, He is not angry.  He but tells the truth: He has come for the lost sheep of Israel; it is only after He is gone that His followers will bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.  First, “the sons of the household” must be fed.  All in proper order.  Notwithstanding this, the woman’s great faith prevails upon the Lord – and probably greatly heartens Him – and her prayer is answered.

It is in the application of the quote to King Solomon that it becomes harsh, for is this not what David’s son has done?  Has he not taken the greatest of blessings the Lord has heaped upon or will heap upon any man, and turned them over to the devil?  Solomon, the wisest and richest of all kings, “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and that unreservedly – and that without compunction.  It is only for the sake of his father David that the Lord does not wrest all His gifts from him that very day.  You say, “But didn’t David sin greatly in committing adultery and murder?”  Yes, the servant of the Lord did sin.  But this king humbled himself ever before his God.  He repented with a whole heart, and did not return again to his sin.  Solomon recognizes no sin.  Scripture says nowhere he is sorry; his repentance is lacking.  And his sin is of the most grievous, the most deeply rooted kind: he turns to worship of other gods.  In his reign and by his leadership, the people “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,” taking thus the very flesh and blood of the children of Israel and throwing it to the dogs.

For this “the Lord grew angry with His people, and abhorred His inheritance.”  For they perform abhorrent acts under him who had become a most abhorrent king.  This king who had received six hundred and sixty-six gold talents a year in regular payment showed himself comfortable with the mark of the beast unto whom he had turned his heart.  “His foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” he preferred to the love of the Lord; and so it is he who is cast from the Lord’s presence.

Our psalm says of the Israelites, “They mingled with the nations and learned their works”; the great works of sin known in the darkness of this world became their own.  But in our gospel it is a foreign woman who humbles herself before the True King.  What of us, brothers and sisters?  Where does our allegiance lie?  For His Word does now travel to the ends of the earth; one can now no longer hide.

*******

O LORD, cast the demons from our midst

that we might find a place in your kingdom.

YHWH, your chosen ones lose their blessing when they turn from you to the worship of demons; and those who were far from your favor have demons cast from themselves when they beg your grace at the feet of your Son.  It is but a crumb from His table we need to find our salvation.  May He turn His attention to our need.

The children of the promise lose their inheritance when they sacrifice their sons and daughters on altars built to the idols of the nations.  Led by Solomon in their disobedience, they are deprived of the kingdom you bestowed on them.  And now, by your great mercy, O LORD, those who had been enslaved to demons now may enter your presence and find your favor; those with whom your Chosen had mingled and so lost their way now have their inheritance blessed as they humble themselves before you.  O let us be in their number!

Direct download: BC-020912-Th_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(1Kgs.10:1-10;   Ps.37:5-6,30-31,39-40;   Mk.7:14-23)

“The mouth of the just man tells of wisdom

and his tongue utters what is right.”

Today in our readings we have a passage to illustrate the great extent of the wisdom and riches of King Solomon.  “The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon’s fame, [comes] to test him with subtle questions.”  She had not believed the report she’d heard of him, but having “witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom” in the answers he gave to every one of her questions – “nothing remained hidden from him that he could not explain to her” – and having seen “the palace he had built” and all the amenities that surrounded him… “she was breathless.”  And rightly does this pagan queen attribute the blessings Solomon enjoys to the Lord, who “has made [him] king to carry out judgment and justice.”

How true it is that the Lord blesses him who holds “the law of God in his heart.”  And rightly does David declare in our psalm that if we “commit to the Lord [our] way… He will make justice dawn for [us] like the light.”  We shall shine “bright as the noonday,” bright as Solomon’s temple, if we “trust in Him.”  If Solomon’s servants were happy, how much happier should we be to “stand before [the Lord] always and listen to [His] wisdom.”  For having eaten at the table of such grace and glory, what could come from our mouths but the same?  And what shall we be called then but wise men?

But the same mouth which utters wisdom may also utter evil.  For though the good man from the treasure of his heart speaks only good, it is also so that “wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart” as well.  Here one may find murderous plots and malicious intent.  We shall find soon that Solomon’s heart will change and that what “emerges from within” him will bear little likeness to wisdom.  And so, should we not all heed the Lord’s words of warning in our gospel today and take care what comes from within our hearts, that we ourselves are not rendered “impure”?  Let the wisdom of the Lord and His holiness always issue forth from our hearts in all our words and actions.  Then we shall know the blessings of the eternal King.

*******

O LORD, make us pure;

make us wise according to your ways.

YHWH, what comes from our heart?  Does it condemn us or show us wise?  Do we trust in you and so commit our way in keeping with your own, or do we follow the wiles of this wicked world?  We need all look within ourselves to see if you are present there.

Be with us, LORD; let us be blessed by you.  It is from you we find anything of worth.  At your hand we receive our food, and it is your mouth that teaches us.  Help us to hear the words of your Son, the chastisement He brings to our souls.  Let us eat this day of His Body and His Blood.  Only this food will sustain us.  Only His words give us life.  Help us open our hearts to the wisdom He utters and so find our place at His table.

You are our salvation, LORD, delivering us from all evil.  Let us speak of your glory to all with ears.  May our lives be pleasing to you this day. 

Direct download: BC-020812-W_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O lovely Lady who appeared to Bernadette,

Mary, Blessed Virgin and Mother of our Lord –

let our eyes, too, see your beauty

and hear your voice

calling us to pray for sinners,

calling us to come to you with our prayers

and to wash ourselves clean

in the water you provide

through Jesus your Son.

O Immaculate Conception,

so pure, so full of grace,

cleanse all our sickness from us;

let us be immersed

in the bath of purity

that washes us of sin,

that makes us whole

in the sight of God.

If we but had innocent hearts

we would see you,

we would remember the blessing you are

to all faithful souls…

O let us come to you

and find the grace we need this day.

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

(1Kgs.8:22-23,27-30;   Ps.84:2-5,10-11;   Mk.7:1-13) 

“Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth?”

Well does Solomon do in stating, “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!”  For though the Lord will heed Solomon’s prayer and “listen to the petitions of [His] servant and of [His] people Israel which they offer in this place,” He indeed will only “keep [His] covenant of kindness with [His] servants who are faithful to [Him] with their whole heart.”  When they do as the Pharisees and “disregard God’s commandment and cling to what is human tradition,” when they hold fast only to the walls of the temple and neglect to keep His Word, the blessing He provides through the temple they built shall be removed from their midst – the walls themselves shall crumble (as even they do, not many generations from Solomon’s time).

The Pharisees indeed sin by clinging to the walls, by a scrupulous observance of care for the body even as the soul rots.  They carefully wash hands and food and “cups and jugs and kettles” but forego the cleansing of their hearts within.  And so they “nullify God’s word in favor of the traditions [they] have handed on”; they ornament the walls of the temple, but God is not within.  They indeed fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.”

Brothers and sisters, do we pray in truth?  Do our “heart and [our] flesh cry out for the living God”?  Can we say with our psalmist, “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord,” for His holy presence?  If it is so that we treasure the Lord above all, then we shall be as “the sparrow [who] finds a home, and the swallow [who has] a nest in which she puts her young” – then we shall dwell happily in the house of God and He shall hear our prayers.  For in truth the Lord Jesus has come to dwell among men on earth; the true Temple walks among us.  No longer need we be separated from God or anxiously fear the loss of His presence.  The temple walls and the traditions developed to protect us from uncertainty no longer must be clung to, for here are the temple walls in the flesh of Christ, and here is the cleansing we need in the shedding of His blood.  And His Church now is alive in the Spirit of God and is moving everywhere.  Let us enter its eternal walls and find true reverence there.  In this place He shall answer all our prayers.

*******

O LORD, we cry out to you:

let us look upon the face of your anointed

that we might be cleansed of our sin.

YHWH, make us faithful to your Word with our whole heart; let us worship you in spirit and in truth.  Let us not merely cling to traditions men have devised, let us not set our sights on the walls of the temple but enter inside and there find you present in your Son.  O let us dwell in your House forever!

Jesus is the Temple where you dwell, O LORD our God.  For Him our souls thirst, for it is you, the living God, our hearts desire.  And so, let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones erected in your NAME.  Let us find in these houses of prayer a place to offer you fitting sacrifice, a place where you indeed dwell and where you listen to our cries…  But let us know all the while that even the highest heavens cannot contain you, that you transcend our thoughts and all the works of our hands.

Make us, O LORD, as your temple – in your presence let us remain.

Direct download: BC-020712-Tu_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

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

(1Kgs.8:1-7,9-13;   Ps.132:6-10;   Mk.6:53-56)

“Let us enter into His dwelling,

let us worship at His footstool.”

“Advance, O Lord, to your resting place, you and the ark of your majesty.”  Yes, in our first reading, “the elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes” come to bring the ark of the Lord into the temple Solomon has built in Jerusalem.  “For the occasion [they] sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen too many to number or count.”  When the ark was in its place in the holy of holies, “the Lord’s glory… filled the temple” in the form of a cloud.  The Lord’s presence had come to rest in this “princely house.”  But this shall not be a dwelling “where [He] may abide forever,” as Solomon says; for the eternal Temple is Jesus.

In our gospel “crowds scurried about the adjacent area and began to bring in the sick on bedrolls” when the Lord and His disciples tied up their boat in Genessaret.  Here as everywhere He went “they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him to let them touch just the tassel of His cloak.”  Mark tells us, “All who touched Him got well.”  Here is the true Temple at work, a place where prayers are answered, where healing is known.  As the ark was placed “beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,” so the Father has the angels spread their wings over His Son, guarding and blessing His every step.  As when the ark is brought in to the holy of holies, the Lord’s glory fills the temple, so when He comes to us, when we but touch Him, we are filled with His presence and made whole.  As the Israelites crowded into the temple to offer sacrifice, so now all in need surround the Lord to share in the holy sacrifice of His Body and Blood.

Here is the Temple not made by human hands, brothers and sisters.  Here is the Lord’s eternal dwelling place.  Here is Jesus, the Son of God.  In all the tabernacles of all the churches throughout the world He rests, His presence abides.  Let us flock to Him.  Let us receive Him into our hearts and bodies.  Let us know His healing touch upon our souls.  Let us pray with our psalmist, “May your priests be clothed with justice; let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.”  For here is His holy presence; here is the glory of the Lord.  Here He hears our prayers as we call upon His Name and worship before Him each day.  Here He enters in and makes His home with us, and so we, too, become temples of the Lord.

*******

O LORD, may we but touch your Son and be healed,

your cloud of glory filling our souls.

YHWH, your Word has become flesh; the Law you inscribed on the two tablets of stone now walks among us in the Person of Jesus.  Here is the true Temple, your dwelling where you abide forever.  To Him should we come in praise and worship to find healing that we might rest with you.

O LORD, make us holy as He is holy; let us enter your sanctuary, the wings of your angels spread above us for protection.  Yes, let us become as the Body of your Son as we partake of His Word and Sacrament here in your House.  To your Temple let us come that we might be temples ourselves.

What should we not sacrifice to your glory?  What should occupy us but finding your Presence in our midst?  Should we not lay our sick souls at Jesus’ feet; should we not seek to enter His tabernacle?  O let us enter your dwelling place and make our home in His flesh and blood!

Direct download: BC-020612-M_5_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Your light must shine before others,

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, let us trust firmly in you

and so shine your light

even as your Son, Jesus. 

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-020611-Su_5_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

O innocent soul,

pure as an angel,

meek as a lamb,

from slavery you were taken

to the house of God,

where freedom you found

in faith in the Lord –

pray for the freedom of all slaves

chained in soul or body,

that they shall be released

from the snares of this world

to walk at liberty with Jesus.

Pray His goodness reign

in all His children,

in all who would be

gentle as this Lamb;

may all those in need of His grace

hear His Word proclaimed,

and in His blood

be redeemed.

And pray His Mother watch over

all who are near or far from Him,

till they enter His presence.

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

O soldier for the Lord

and servant of the poor

who trusted in God alone

and gave your life

for those in need –

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

purified of all dross

by the trials we endure

and by doing His will

in this world.

His children let us become

as we care for the children

most in need,

those who seem abandoned

by Him.

His hands and His heart

let us be,

that in such love

we shall be free

of all fear and separation

from the Father

and so dwell with those we serve

in the peace of Heaven.

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

(1Kgs.3:4-13;   Ps.119:9-14;   Mk.6:30-34)

 “He began to teach them at great length.” 

“Who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” Solomon asks in his plea to God for wisdom.  And “upon disembarking Jesus saw a vast crowd” who “were like sheep without a shepherd,” our gospel tells us.  The apostles have just “returned to Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and what they had taught,” how they had managed to enter into His mission, and now it is time for rest in a deserted place.  But the crowds hasten on foot to fill that deserted place, and what can the Lord do but feed those who thirst so much for His presence and His word.

In our first reading Solomon reflects his father David’s humble obedience before God: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.”  And so he makes the request for wisdom that so pleases the Lord.  And so God grants his request: “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 equal to you,” and adds the greatest of riches and glory to it.  Solomon it is who composes proverbs, who judges the most difficult of cases, who is able to answer any question – it is he who rules the great kingdom of Israel in peace.  And all this he is able to do because his soul is as our psalmist’s today; he sings with him, “With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands,” and, “In the way of your decrees I rejoice, as much as in all riches.”  But when the king strays, he shall lose the great promise which has been so marvelously revealed in his reign.  He, too, shall show that he is but human.

Only the Lord teaches, brothers and sisters!  Only the Lord is able to rule!  All teaching and all governance come only from Him and not our own souls.  As great as the wisdom of Solomon was, apart from the Lord it becomes nothing but vanity.  For it is He who grants it to the king, according to his humble request.  And it is He who can only take it back again, upon separation from Him. 

Let us keep to His words, brothers and sisters.  Let us remain under His Spirit’s tutelage, within the walls of Mother Church.  Here we shall be taught.  By His wisdom we shall come to know.  In His Word we shall find the salvation of our souls.  Come now to your Shepherd and hear His voice imparting the grace of wisdom, the food that sustains you, to your mind and heart.  Enter into His call.

*******

O LORD, teach your poor flock with your wisdom

that we might declare your Word to all.

YHWH, teach us at great length for we are as sheep without a shepherd, we are all as mere youths before you, children not knowing right from wrong.  Only you give us an understanding heart; only by your Word are we instructed in the way we should go.  How lost we would be without your command!

Show favor to your servants, LORD, for we wish to do your will.  Your Son we follow to deserted places that He might satiate our thirsting souls.  All the riches and glory of this world we would leave behind, if you would but give us your wisdom.

Within our hearts we treasure your promise – let us not sin against you!  Let your Spirit be with us to guide us in all truth that we might accomplish your call.  O may your Son feed us with His own Body and Blood!  May we join our sacrifice to His and so find our lives acceptable in your sight, dearest LORD and God.

Direct download: BC-020814-Sa_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(Sir.47:2-11;   Ps.18:31,47,50-51;   Mk.6:14-29)

“Herod feared John,

knowing him to be an upright and holy man.”

O how the Lord has given power to His great men.  It is He who “gave great victories to [the] king.”  David “called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm”; and as David “made sport of lions as though they were kids,” as he “slew the giant” and his “tens of thousands” in battle, so John the Baptist slays the sins of the multitude, even striking great fear into the heart of King Herod by the simple words: “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”  And though it is John who is beheaded, it is Herod who shakes in his boots long after the Baptist is gone.  As our gospel relates today, “On hearing of Jesus, Herod exclaimed, ‘John, whose head I cut off, has been raised up!’”  This king’s guilt remains, as do the words of the Baptist in his heart.

“He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him,” David declares so knowingly in our psalm today.  Indeed, the Lord’s blessed protection has been continually with his king, who has ever taken Him as his Rock.  Of David, Sirach writes, “With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise.  With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung.”  What tremendous witness the wise man gives to the Lord’s chosen king.  And perhaps most poignant and most significant is his statement that “the Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever.”  David does not lose his kingship because of his failures – as does Herod, who is already dead by his wickedness – but in fact has the establishment of “his throne in Israel” fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

The Lord’s power is upon His chosen.  To each He gives the grace needed to offer lives of sacrifice.  As David’s life was “like the choice fat of the sacred offerings” and John’s death a holocaust that rises yet unto God, so all our lives may be enriched and blessed, and made whole in His sight; so will they be as “sweet melody,” if we but entrust them to the Lord our God.  And then none shall be able to stand before the power that is with us, for His holiness conquers all.

*******

O LORD, may all we do be a song of praise

to your holy NAME;

let all evil be overcome by the strength of your Word.

YHWH, as David slew Goliath so John the Baptist slays Herod, even from the grave.  Still this vain king is tormented by the Baptist’s word of truth; still his sin is exposed and his guilt apparent.  Still he lives in fear.  Still John speaks in Jesus his Savior.

O LORD, with David let us sing praise to your holy NAME, for you conquer all evil in this world and the next; you give power to your Son Jesus and His apostles to destroy all wickedness.  Who can stand before your glory?  Before you the dance of lust turns to dust.

You are the shield of all who take refuge in you, LORD.  You are indeed God Most High, and to you we offer thanks and praise.  For there is nothing we need fear; with you at our side we are safe from all our enemies.

Into your kingdom let us come, dearest LORD and God, far apart from this sinful world.  Even here you reassure our hearts of your eternal presence.

Direct download: BC-020714-F_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O proclaimers of the faith

even unto death,

death on a cross,

you who have followed

in the way of our Lord

so completely,

loving your enemies

even as they killed you,

encouraging your brothers

even with your last breath –

may the blood you shed not be forgotten

by those of the nation in which you preached

and by all souls who seek God;

may it nourish the land

and bring it to bear much fruit

unto Heaven.

Pray that we who are so fearful here

may find the faith and courage

you displayed

and so be blessed with the same grace

that imparts the peace of the kingdom.

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

(1Kgs.2:1-4,10-12;   1Chr.29:10-12;   Mk.6:7-13) 

“Yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty;

you are exalted as head over all.”

Solomon begins his reign, and the apostles begin their mission.  But how different is their manner of rule.  Solomon sits in sovereignty upon a throne, while the apostles are sent in poverty to all towns.  Solomon’s reign is of the physical universe, with the riches of the world at his disposal; whereas the twelve apostles rule in the kingdom of heaven, shown by the Lord’s “giving them authority over unclean spirits.”  They go forth with “no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in the purses in their belts,” “preaching the need of repentance,” the dust upon their feet.  Solomon remains within the walls of his palace, well-guarded and with all “riches and honor,” seemingly of “grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory.”

Now let us not think that the riches themselves are evil, for these are a gift from God (rewarding Solomon for his initial desire for wisdom above all else); but it must never be forgotten that, as David declares to God at the time of his son’s anointing: “Riches and honor are from you.”  His always are the majesty and the glory.  If Solomon would remember this, if he would heed the Lord’s words to David’s sons to “remain faithful to [Him] with their whole heart and with their whole soul,” observing always His commands – his kingship would be blessed.  But Solomon, too, shall sin, and worse than his father: he shall turn to worship of other gods.  And the sons that follow shall only continue the decline, necessitating the reign of Christ to enter in.

So, humbly do the disciples of the Lord go forth, though with the greatest of power.  They call for the repentance of all proud souls, possessed of the throne of this unholy world.  The Twelve “expelled many demons, anointed the sick with oil, and worked many cures,” thus bringing the kingdom of God to this world; and we are called to follow them, in the same poverty.  None of this can we do if our hearts are set upon the riches of this world.  Empty must we be of the desire for the food of earthly security – into the Lord’s hands we must utterly place our lives.  Only then will we be rich in Him “from eternity to eternity.” 

Splendor awaits us all, brothers and sisters, in the cross we carry upon this dusty earth.

*******

O LORD, if we follow in the way of your Son,

we shall share in His power.

YHWH, yours are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory.  You are exalted over all and have dominion over all.  Yet your sons go out with nothing, nothing but the Cross.  In this alone do they find your authority and power; in Christ alone are all men saved.

It is not upon the throne of this world your Son sits, with gold rings and a royal crown.  No, His crown is of thorns and He is stripped of even His clothes.  And just so naked must His disciples be, bereft of all attachments to this place, trusting entirely in your grace.  O LORD, let us go forth strengthened by faith!

How shall we find our blessing, dear God, the blessing of your presence in our hearts and in our souls?  How shall we become your very temples in this world?  Write your NAME upon our souls, that no evil spirit will have power over us, that we might do your will in all things and so find your eternal blessing.

Direct download: BC-020212-Th_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O good child of God

who gave your life so willingly

for the sake of Christ

and so wore His holy blood

upon your robes,

you who were blessed

to remain ever faithful to the Lord

even as those around you

turned from His presence –

pray for us this day

that our lives too

may be holy and blessed

as your own,

that we too might give witness to the Lord

with the same pure love

you did so readily show.

Pray we shall be wed to the Spouse

you so intimately knew

and thus become one with Him

and all His saints in Heaven.

May our lives also be good,

may they also be godly,

and may we, too, stand as others fall.

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

(2Sm.24:2,9-17;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7,   Mk.6:1-6)

“I acknowledged my sin to you;

my guilt I covered not.”

The Lord can heal only those who believe in Him, who turn to Him in their guilt to be saved.

David has sinned against the Lord once again.  His kingdom had been blessed by the Lord and was flourishing in His sight.  Rather than accept the blessings the Lord poured upon him and so find their increase, the king sought control over that which should have been left in the hands of God by numbering the people who had been the Lord’s gift to him.  And so now their number shall be decreased in his sight.

But David regrets his sin, acknowledging it before the Lord and begging His pardon: “I have sinned grievously in what I have done.  But now, Lord, forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have been very foolish,” and he throws himself on the mercy of God.  The Lord does destroy some seventy thousand in the kingdom, but relents at David’s intercession for the sheep under his rule who have done no wrong – the king entreats, “Punish me and my kindred,” and then offers an appeasing sacrifice to God.

David’s sin is severe and has serious consequences, but the Lord is faithful in forgiving him when he calls out to Him.  However, when “Jesus went to His own part of the country,” as shown in our gospel, their hearts were closed against Him and He could share no grace.  Were they any less sinners than David?  Had they any less need of His forgiveness, of His healing?  Their hardness of heart itself proves otherwise, but, sadly, “they found Him too much for them”; and “their lack of faith,” which distressed the Lord, prevented them from knowing the mercy found by their ancestor David.  Ironically, it is their own closeness to Him and His human family that keeps them from recognizing the greatness of the grace which works through Him.  Would they disown David, him whose sons they claim to be, if he had come to them in such a way?  And yet Jesus they reject. 

Brothers and sisters, our sights must be set on heaven and the mercy that falls from there through the Lord.  We have all sinned as David in our foolishness.  We must acknowledge it as he has, with faith that the Lord can heal us, that He walks amongst us as a brother to cure all our ills and teach us the way to love.  If we listen without acceptance of Him in faith, “no miracle” will be worked in our lives – and it is a miracle we most need, for we simple servants must lay down our lives.

*******

O LORD, let us not question the wonders

you work in our midst;

let us rejoice at the presence of your saving Son.

YHWH, forgive the guilt of our sin, that we have turned our backs on you and not believed in your providence, and not accepted your Son.  How could we be so blind to your hand at work among us, and why should you be so kind as to stay the angel of death?  We deserve to die for our sins against you, yet to our poor souls you offer forgiveness.

The teaching of Jesus is clear, His wisdom is of your perfect light, yet we question His miraculous presence in our midst.  Holding to the earth we can see, we fail to recognize the glory we cannot see, the joy you bring us in being in the number of your holy ones.  Staring too closely at what is at our hands, your transcendent Hand we miss, O LORD, even when He stands before us.

The burden of our guilt take from us, LORD, that we might be free of the punishment we deserve, that by your angels we might be blessed.

Direct download: BC-020112-W_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

(2Sm.18:9-10,14,24-25,30-19:3;   Ps.86:1-6;   Mk.5:21-43)

“Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer,

and attend to the sound of my pleading.”

Today in our readings we hear of desperate pleas made to the Lord.  In our gospel there are at least two “earnest appeal[s]”: Jairus “fell at [the] feet” of Jesus and begged Him to heal his dying daughter; and without words the woman “who had been afflicted with a hemorrhage for a dozen years” makes her appeal by working her way through the crowd simply to “touch His clothing” and be well.  The woman is healed “immediately” and hears from the Lord, “It is your faith that has cured you.”  Her He sends in peace, but peace and the same faith He does not find as He approaches Jairus’ house after having been told his daughter is dead.  There is “the noise of people wailing and crying loudly on all sides.”  Theirs seems to be a kind of pleading, but the Lord’s answer to such prayer they reject and mock, and so must be put out of the house – only those of faith can know of healing.

And so Jesus takes only Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents into the room where the child lies, for they are able to heed His teaching: “Fear is useless.  What is needed is trust.”  And so when He reaches out His hand to the little girl and speaks to her, “Talitha koum,” she indeed rises and walks about.  The prayer of a true heart is always answered in the power of God.

What can we say of David’s “weeping and mourning for Absalom” in our first reading?  Again a father cries out for his child.  But here it is not an innocent “child of twelve” for whom the prayer rises up, but for a son who has rebelled against his father “with evil intent,” seeking indeed to overthrow David’s kingdom and put him to death.  David’s cry, “My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!” stands in opposition to what is expected of him as he is informed of the “good news” that his enemies have been defeated and their leader killed.  But here again the king knows it has been his own sin which has led to such disruption in his house.  And so it is as much for himself he cries as for the child of his loins.  And though Absalom shall not be raised from the dead, perhaps the Lord hears the sorrow of David’s heart and will later comfort him. 

“To you I call all the day,” O Lord.  “I am afflicted and poor,” but “you, O Lord, are good and forgiving.”  Heal me as I cry out to you.  Look upon my weeping and mourning with your kindness; raise me from the dead by your word and feed me with your Body and Blood.

*******

O LORD, why do we wail at the prospect of death –

why do we not trust in you?

YHWH, you hear our cry, you answer our pleading and send your Son to die in our place.  We have rebelled against you, we have deserved death, but Jesus dies in our stead that we might be saved from the grave.  And so our amazement is complete at the love you bear for us.

Have pity on us, LORD, we are afflicted; we have been tormented many years.  Give us the faith to come to Jesus on our knees to find His salvation, to be healed of all our ills.  He cannot but hear us as we call to Him – His heart cannot but turn to us in our need.  For He carries your compassion and cannot but witness to your undying love for your poor creatures.

Speak to us, dear LORD.  Whisper in our ears with your sweet voice, inviting us to rise and walk with you.  Let us answer to your call that we might come from death to life in you.  Let us weep no more.

Direct download: BC-013112-Tu_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

O bringer of light

to many nations,

you who struggled on

for the souls placed in your care

that all might know the Christ

for whom you toiled,

endlessly seeking

to convert obstinate hearts –

may your zeal

inspire missionaries this day

to go forth selflessly

proclaiming the Gospel to all,

bearing witness to the Lord

in the cross they bear

in season and out of season;

whether producing much fruit

or being rejected,

may their hearts be set on the Word

and the love of God

for His children.

Pray especially those lands you led to Christ

will turn again

to the one true light.

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

O shepherd whom we invoke

for the healing of throats,

you who suffered torments

for the sake of the Name

and embraced death

as leader of His flock –

open our throats

to speak of Jesus,

to declare His goodness and glory,

the salvation that comes

only through Him.

Let us not fear

our persecutors

nor shrink from the threats

of the mighty

but stand fast

in the Lord’s healing grace,

confident that His every blessing

will keep us well

and on the path

that leads only to Heaven.

Pray all sickness flee from us

this day and forever.

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

(2Sm.15:13-14,30,16:5-13;   Ps.3:2-7;   Mk.5:1-20) 

“Many are saying of me,

‘There is no salvation for him in God.’”

Today David’s sins rise to his neck, and he is persecuted for them.  But in accepting the persecution as chastisement from the hand of God, David regains his kingly stature, becoming once again humble and obedient to the Lord.

David’s son Absalom has successfully led a rebellion against him among the Israelite nation under David’s command.  The king is forced to flee, and as he leaves, his son will lie with the wives and concubines he has left behind upon the same roof where David first spied the bathing Bathsheba.  How his sins come to visit him!

But it is in mourning David flees Jerusalem and climbs the Mount of Olives – the hill upon which Christ’s own passion shall begin in the garden where He is taken by the sword.  David “wept without ceasing.  His head was covered and he was walking barefoot.”  Repentant is the king in remembrance of his sins and the punishment now come upon him.  And his sincerity he exhibits profoundly again, for as Shimei curses and stones him, though he is surrounded by soldiers he does not exact retribution or seek to stop him.  Despite the fact this kin of Saul has no right to act toward the king in this way, yet David is struck to the heart by the truth of his words: “Now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer,” and leaves all in the hands of God, responding to his soldier, “Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’”  Open is David about the fact that even his own son is seeking his life, and so what standing can he expect to have with his enemies.  As he endures his trial, he hopes only it shall be purgatorial: “Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curses he is uttering this day.”  And so he does not “fear the myriads of people arrayed against him on every side,” for he rediscovers his faith in God.

And as the Lord casts out the legion of demons from the possessed man of Gerasene, so He shall purge David of his sin.  To whatever extreme our afflictions have grown, the Lord is present to save.  For if this man who could not be secured with chains, who “uninterruptedly night and day amid the tombs… screamed and gashed himself with stones,” could be found by a word from the Lord “sitting fully clothed and perfectly sane,” what have we to fear of all the devils who accuse us of our sins?  Jesus is mightier than them and there is no telling “how much the Lord in His mercy” can do when we fall on our faces before Him in homage.  True repentance brings salvation to all sinful souls.

*******

O LORD, let us come from dwelling among the tombs

to sit at your feet in peace.

YHWH, though our adversaries be arrayed against us on every side, you are there to rescue our souls.  Though the devils press upon us and accuse us of our sins, you grant forgiveness… and bring us to our right minds.  O let us proclaim what you have done for us!  Though we have merited death, new life is ours in you.

How great is the attack of our foes in this dark world, dearest LORD.  Do not sin and death rule in this forsaken place?  Does Satan not have great power to harm your servants?  Yet so much greater is your power, for you look with pity upon our afflictions and cross the sea to come to save us.  It is our sins that cause us to weep and mourn – but our sins you take from us and so free us from the chains of the evil one.

The stones that shower down on our heads we accept as chastisement from your hand, knowing they shall bring cleansing of our guilt and that of others.  O LORD, we beg you to stay with us.

Direct download: BC-013012-M_4_OT_II.mp3
Category:Daily BreadCasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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

“Suddenly there will come to the temple

the Lord whom you seek.”

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, your Son has come into our midst

and united Himself to us;

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

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

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

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

Direct download: Feb_2_-_Presentation_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT