Tue, 31 August 2021
(Col.1:1-8; Ps.52:10-11; Lk.4:38-44)
“And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.”
The Word goes forth, bringing healing to the hearts of the faithful. The Word goes forth, ever growing among the people. As “the message of truth, the Gospel… has come to [the Colossians], has borne fruit, and has continued to grow,” so “it has everywhere in the world.” As Jesus has set out “into the open country” to bring “the good news of the reign of God” to all to whom He was sent; as Paul, as Timothy, as Epaphrus – as all the apostles have gone forward bringing the Word forth and planting it in the hearts of all who have ears open to the healing touch of God and making them “like a green olive tree in the house of God,” so that same Word goes forward today through the apostles the Lord has ordained to carry His message of truth; and so we hear of it in our readings of daily Mass, in our daily bread.
Our “love in the Spirit” must ever grow, brothers and sisters; it must ever move forward. For the Word of God ever moves forward to the ends of the earth bringing the love of God to all, and we must move with it. There is no stopping and staying long in any place along this path we tread with the Lord. As He moved on from town to town doing the will of the Father, so our work must ever travel with Him, until it is accomplished in Him. Here there is no place to stay, no place to lay our heads; here there is only moving forward in the Lord.
And, yes, we are moved “by the hope held in store for [us] in heaven.” This is the place to which we travel in all our movements, in all our work and prayer. We know now and it has been openly stated, plainly revealed, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He makes a place for us in His kingdom. And by our “faith in Christ Jesus and the love [we] bear all the saints,” we, too, come into that kingdom, into His presence; with Paul, with the Colossians, with all the faithful who “trust in the kindness of God forever and ever,” we find that kingdom being revealed in our very hearts and in our very actions… and so heaven passes through our midst and makes us sons of the Most High.
Let us be healed of all that keeps us from growing to Him, of growing with Him, of moving forward in service of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our words and in our actions let us preach of the glory of God and so move closer to His kingdom.
O LORD, let all hear the Good News of your reign:
your Son has come into our midst
to heal us of all our sin.
YHWH, may your Word go forth to the ends of the earth, the message of truth everywhere in the world; may it bear fruit and continue to grow in every heart – bless all those who proclaim your NAME to your faithful ones!
As Jesus walked amongst us announcing the Good News of your reign, as He went forth from town to town healing their sick and casting out demons, so today your apostles go out into the open country to bring your love to all peoples, that in your love all may be reborn and grow. In the way of Jesus let us all walk, dear God, that we might come quickly to you.
In your service let us remain, LORD, ready always to answer your call in bearing your love to all the saints, to all those you send in your NAME. Let us grow each day into your kingdom until all are cured of their diseases and join your saints in Heaven.
Mon, 30 August 2021
(1Thes.5:1-6,9-11; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; Lk.4:31-37)
“Wait for the Lord with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”
The Word of the Lord has all “authority and power.” The Word of the Lord casts out demons. The Word of the Lord brings light to the soul who seeks Him. In Him we have no fear.
He comes, brothers and sisters; yes, He comes… As He entered the synagogue in Galilee and cast out the evil spirit from the man and from the place, so He will come at the end of the age and cast all evil from the face of the earth. No longer shall the devil have a place here; all darkness will be banished. This hope should bring us but joy. We who are of light should long for the day when the Lord who is “our light and [our] salvation” comes to cleanse the world of evil; if we seek “to dwell in the house of the Lord” we must know that only His authority and power, only His sharp voice speaking truth and shaking the powers of this earth will bring “the loveliness of the Lord” our hearts desire to contemplate forever. As He came to cast out the devil from the man in the synagogue, as He has come to cast all evil from the temple of our bodies, so He must come at the end of the age to cast all sin into hell, that His light and all His children of light might shine in unadulterated glory.
Do not fear. Do not fear the coming of His kingdom, the power of His Word. Though we may be “struck with astonishment” and wonder at “His speech,” though the teaching of the Lord leave us “spellbound,” yet we should welcome it and seek to increase its presence in our lives and in this world. It is His teaching, it is the power of His Word we are called as children of His light to bring into this world. For, indeed, the world is a dark place, and many there are who fear as the demon the destruction of the darkness in which they have taken what has seemed to them secure refuge. It must be known that in darkness there is no “security,” in sin there is no “peace”… Only in Him is true peace and security.
Let us not be anguished at the passing of the darkness which comes by the just wrath of God. Let us not slumber into its clutches and so find refuge there. We must remain vigilant, seeking with eyes of light the coming of Jesus the Christ. We are destined for salvation in Him. In Him let us take comfort and upbuild one another, spreading “His renown” in our hearts and “through the surrounding country.”
O LORD, in Jesus’ Name and in His blood
let us be healed, washed clean
and ready for His coming Day.
YHWH, let us not take refuge in the darkness of this world and in its drunkenness take our peace and security. Rather, let us live in your light and become children of that light, awake in your presence forever. Your Son comes to cast all demons of darkness from our midst; let us welcome His powerful Word.
O LORD, you are our light and our salvation; you are our life’s refuge. And so, why should we be afraid of your Son’s coming, He who brings your salvation to man? Let us rather long for His return, for His cleansing presence before our eyes. For how else shall we enter your Temple and gaze on your loveliness if all evil is not driven from our souls?
To the land of the living we long to come, so make us stouthearted as we wait for Jesus to return, LORD. May your light upon us give us courage for that Day.
Sun, 29 August 2021
(1Thes.4:13-18; Ps.96:1,3-5,11-13; Lk.4:16-30)
“He comes to rule the earth.”
He is coming, and has come. He set us free from the prison of sin when first He came, and will set us free from death when He comes again and “we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.”
In our gospel we read of His first coming “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives…” Fulfilling the words of the prophets, He brought “a year of favor from the Lord,” to heal all those who waited for His coming, who trusted in His word. And though even as His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him and His truth and led Him to “the brow of the hill” to be cast down, so all would turn their backs on Him and deliver Him up for crucifixion; yet His death was not the end and His life was not fruitless. In His walking the earth He brought light into the darkness and in His bleeding on the cross provided means for its fulfillment.
And on the day when He comes again, death shall indeed be banished, darkness will be no more, for “God will bring forth with Him from the dead those who have fallen asleep believing in Him” and “we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” This the apostle Paul makes quite clear. As Jesus “died and rose,” so will all who believe in Him do the same: what was brought to us in His first coming – the light to the nations – will be made complete in His second coming in a year of favor that has no end.
And of both of these comings our psalm does sing, for both are gloriously triumphant: “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, let the sea and what fills it resound…” All creation glories in the coming of God; in His holy presence it finds its fulfillment. Forever it has longed to be joined with Him, and when first He came as man, it rejoiced to see Him; and when He comes “from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet” as the Son of God in all His glory, its joy and its song will know no bounds. For then “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy”: the world shall never again be moved from His way of truth and light, and neither shall we. Rejoice at His coming, brothers and sisters, and live in His light.
O LORD, you come to save us,
and so we should not be afraid –
through all tribulation you lead us home.
YHWH, let us sing you a new song on the day of your coming, on the day of your Son’s return. For then His glory will fill the sky and all the dead will rise. O let us be in the number of those who are with you unceasingly! From all darkness may we forever be set free.
When Jesus came to walk among us, to speak to us your marvelous words, to proclaim liberty to all held captive by sin, then we should have rejoiced at His presence and entered the glory of His reign. But we crucified Him instead. He came to bring glad tidings to poor souls, to open our eyes that we might see once again – but we closed our hearts and fixed Him to a cross. O LORD, let your favor be upon us now especially, that we might be saved from such sin.
We wish to rejoice with your holy ones, O God, to praise your NAME to the heavens. Let us listen now to the words of your Son and set our hearts on them.
Sat, 28 August 2021
O witness to the Truth,
to the Light that has come among us,
you gave your very life
for the sake of Christ,
who redeemed us in His blood,
blood you shed with your Savior;
you who were a pillar of iron
against the whole land
and against its king,
you who stood so strong
against the lust of the world,
suffering its persecution so willingly,
fortified even in death
by the Lord and His promise –
how can our meager lives
measure up to your blessed sacrifice;
how can we who are so weak of knee
endure our exile so bravely?
Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ
both in word and in the giving of your life,
that our blood may be joined to your own
and so to that of our holy Lord.
Sat, 28 August 2021
(Dt.4:1-2,6-8; Ps.15:1-5; Jas.1:17-18,21b-22,27; Mk.7:1-8,14-15,21-23)
“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.”
Welcome it, yes, and “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” For how else shall you show that the word of God is planted in you except that you bear fruit? All that is planted well indeed grows and bears fruit in the light of God.
Brothers and sisters, God “willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits.” “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?” Indeed the Law of God is whole, the Law of God is perfect – the Law of God gives life. For this reason Moses instructs the people: “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it,” for the Law is holy as He, and keeping it we prove ourselves to be so holy; keeping it we cannot but “give evidence of [our] wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” Yes, with the Lord “there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” His light is perfect, and His light is eternal, and we must be children of His holy light.
But what of those for whom the washing of hands has become more important than keeping the commandments of God? What about those over whom Isaiah prophesies: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”? Woe to these, for they have not the word of truth planted in them and so only evil things “come out from within,” and thereby they are defiled. Oh may the Lord never pronounce over our souls: “In vain do they worship me”! Oh let us never be producers of the evils of this world!
“Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” and he “who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue” knows the gifts of the Creator and walks in His holy light. No “great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him.” For His truth is indeed within us and this word comes straight to His ear. The beat of our hearts is known to our God as we worship in spirit and in truth. The only food that saves souls is laid upon our table. The Word of God we consume and so are made His children, caring for “orphans and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unstained by the world.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Is In Your Heart" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we walk according to your Word,
we shall be saved.
YHWH, your Word you have planted within us and so call us to follow in your way. Your Law comes to our ears that we might observe your commandments and so have life. But if we do not welcome the Word you give, if we do not do as we are commanded, we shall be empty vessels in which corruption may find a home.
O LORD, let us walk blamelessly before you, cherishing the truth in our hearts and guarding our tongues from all evil. You give us the grace to approach perfection; you are close to us when we call upon you, when you and your glory are our desire. May we be innocent of all sin, our hands clean from all defilement, and we shall be blessed all our days.
Let your Word live in us and grow in us, dear God. Let there be no room in us for greed or deceit or any of the wickedness known to man. With our very lives let us honor you – O let us be truly wise!
Fri, 27 August 2021
O shepherd made anew
by Him who is within,
Him who made us all,
the Light above and beyond
who gave His life,
His flesh as food that we might live –
pray that the Lord and God of all
will break through our deafness
and dispel our blindness,
that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit
and we too will be created
saved by His grace from the sin
that has kept us from Him
and thirsting for the wisdom
which became your own,
with which you shepherded His people
apart from the things He created
to His very Beauty itself,
that all souls might rest in Him
who made them.
Fri, 27 August 2021
(1Thes.4:9-12; Ps.98:1,7-9; Mt.25:14-30)
“Those who have, will get more until they grow rich,
while those who have not, will lose even the little they have.”
Again, brothers and sisters, we must always grow in the gifts and graces of the Lord, never looking down upon what He gives us as too little (or too much), but ever putting such talents to use that they might produce an abundant yield and bring us to the joys of heaven.
“Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant… Come, share your master’s joy!” Do we not wish to hear these words from our gospel today spoken to us on the last day? Do we not wish to be put in charge of greater matters as we enter the joy of the eternal kingdom? Are these not the riches we seek? Then, indeed we must be industrious while here; we must put the Lord’s gifts to good use. We must heed Paul’s exhortation “to remain at peace and attend to [our] own affairs.” In this way of working quietly for the Lord we will certainly make “even greater progress,” until we find the victory proclaimed in our psalm. On that day when “the rivers clap their hands” and “the mountains shout with them for joy,” the Lord “will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity”; He will surely give those deserving their reward, while they who have been “worthless, lazy lout(s),” those who have not served Him out of a holy fear, out of love, but have held a judgmental disposition toward Him and withheld a generous attitude toward others, shall be cast into “the darkness outside” where they will ever “wail and grind [their] teeth.”
Take hold of what the Lord gives you today: the breath in your nostrils and the beat of your heart are in His hands, and He calls you to employ your mind and body at His affair of bringing the kingdom of heaven and His love to this earth. Whatever work He puts in your hands to accomplish, be not slack in its fulfillment. Go forward with faith and a desire to please Him, and He will ever bless and multiply all you have a mind to do; and this work will bring you to the rich fruits of heaven and keep you from the empty darkness of hell.
O LORD, you are generous and give to all,
and we must increase your love in the world.
YHWH, you give us each work to do; into every one of your servant’s hands you place talents we must employ. We have time upon this earth before your Son’s return to bear fruit in your NAME. Help us each day to love one another and do your will in all things. For on the Day when your Son comes again, He shall come as judge; and of what worth will our lives have been if we stand empty-handed before Him? O let us not be cast from your sight!
On the last day the mountains will shout for joy and the rivers clap their hands at the presence of your Son filling the universe with His love. And we shall join in that holy song if it has been our desire to see Him come, if we have worked with our lives to bring His love to this place. O LORD, let us enter into your eternal joy!
Thu, 26 August 2021
O tearful mother
whose persistent cries
for the soul of your son
were heard in time
by the Lord our God
and so led to his conversion,
to his becoming
not only a Catholic Christian
but a bishop and doctor of the Church,
a saint like yourself –
pray for the prayers of all mothers
who cry for their wayward sons;
pray indeed that all souls may turn
and come to know so deeply
the love of our Lord and God
and the blessing upon
His holy Catholic Church.
Pray that all who stray,
many as they are,
shall be raised from the death of sin
and come to the life of Heaven,
where you wait with your son
to welcome all his brothers.
Thu, 26 August 2021
(1Thes.4:1-8; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,10-12; Mt.25:1-13)
“God has not called us to immorality but to holiness.”
And so, “keep your eyes open” and “make still greater progress” in the path that leads to His kingdom. Your lights shining brightly as you await His return, be ready to enter His marriage feast.
“It is God’s will that you grow in holiness,” Paul instructs us in our first reading. “Conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God” is his message. For there is a day coming on which the Lord will judge us and all we do; therefore, we must have nothing to do with “immorality” or “passionate desire” or “cheating” – “for the Lord is an avenger of all such things” – and these will find us barred from His kingdom. Rather, we must stay the path we are on, guarding ourselves “in sanctity and honor” and securing even greater gifts and graces from God that we might keep in store against His judgment, against His wrath to come. For if “the mountains melt like wax before the Lord,” how strong must we be to stand on that day of His return?
But for those who do stand strong, for those who do acquire “flasks of oil” to keep their torches burning for whatever hour the Lord might come – for them there shall be great rejoicing… This is the fate of the just. “Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart,” for their light is a match for His own and so He weds them unto Himself; to rejoice with the king of all the earth is their portion and cup.
Yes, “the ones who were ready went in to the wedding with Him,” but those unprepared were locked outside the doors. And so we must ask ourselves, does Jesus know us? Are we ready for the day of His coming? Do we avoid all stain of sin which detracts from the purity we must maintain as bridesmaids of the Lord? Or is there yet that which keeps us from standing ready at His gates? He will come. He will come again to judge our souls, this Son of God most just, and so we must heed the instruction of the Holy Spirit now to prepare ourselves against that day, ever making progress in His Name.
Let holiness be our treasured possession, brothers and sisters. Let it be a flaming torch growing ever higher by the breath of the Spirit upon our souls, until it reaches unto Him and His kingdom. The Lord’s “delay” in coming serves but to weed the evil from the good. Take this time to increase in faith and in knowledge of God. Be as His own.
O LORD, we must keep ourselves pure
to meet with you who are purity itself.
YHWH, let our eyes be open to see you, our hearts set on fire with your love. Let our flame not die out before the Day of your coming but ever increase as it rises unto you. Let your Spirit be upon us to lead us in wisdom every hour of every day.
O LORD, how shall our holiness grow to meet your own that we might be wed to you? How shall we turn from immorality, from the blindness upon our souls, and come to the glory to which you call us, your glory which you would make our own? O help us to listen to the instruction of the Spirit that we shall remain just in your sight.
Let your light dawn upon us, dearest LORD; let your gladness fill our souls. Let us rejoice at your wedding feast, at our union with you in your kingdom. What need we but holiness? And so, let us set our hearts on you.
Wed, 25 August 2021
(1Thes.3:7-13; Ps.90:3-4,12-14,17; Mt.24:42-51)
“Stay awake, therefore!
You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”
And what is it to stay awake, to be ready, but to do as Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in our first reading: to continue to grow in holiness until that day we meet with the Lord. This is our essential call.
Here we are, having been converted to the Lord, having found faith in God as our foundation and been appointed servants by Christ until He should return. We are that “faithful, farsighted servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to dispense food at need.” Certainly our priests dispense the most necessary food of the Word and the Bread of Life, but all Christians the Lord gifts with His store of nourishment for the people; all of us are called to provide spiritual as well as physical nourishment to our brothers and sisters. We cannot do other than this or we are not Christians, and we will be far from the Lord at His second coming – when He calls to account all His servants.
And each day we must indeed know the Lord’s increase and “overflow with love for one another and for all”; we must always grow in the gifts the Lord gives us, not becoming impatient for the time which passes, but ever taking it as opportunity to strengthen our salvation in Christ. We must in this way have the vision of God: “A thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch in the night,” our psalm declares (expressing the patience Moses and the Israelites needed in their forty years wandering through the desert); and so short should our wait seem if lived in the presence of our God.
And so now as we wait and watch, now as we make ourselves ready for the Lord by the service we perform in His Name, let us entreat the Lord to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness,” let us pray for Him to “prosper the work of our hands.” For all in our hands is our gift from Him to accomplish in His Name and by His grace, and by so numbering “our days aright” in His presence, we shall “gain wisdom of heart” and be awake and ready for His coming.
My prayer for you, brothers and sisters, is Paul’s own: “May he strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” I pray we shall meet on that happy day.
O LORD, we must serve you each day and every hour;
thus will we be ready for your Son’s coming.
YHWH, let us be ready for the return of your Son, our hearts set on His coming Day. Make us holy before you, doing your work all our days that we might be acceptable to you.
O LORD, we long for the return of your Son, for the dawn of His light upon us. For we are in exile here in this dark place and the devil would come and steal our love for you away, tempting us with the passing of time to become impatient for the fulfillment of your promise.
Let us not be led astray. Let us remember that you are with us always, that a thousand years are as a single day in your sight – let us be blessed with your vision as we serve you, LORD! All is ever new in your presence.
And let us never cease to serve you, never turn from the joy of joining our lives to your own. Then our shortcomings shall be remedied, LORD, and we will see you face to face on your holy Day.
Tue, 24 August 2021
O guardian angel of poor children
who formed them in the image of Christ,
an education of body and soul
you provided those most in need,
those most impressionable
and thirsting for the Lord’s care,
and led so many others
in this work for the least of our brothers –
pray we shall become fellow workers
with Jesus in the cause of truth
and teach with deep love,
the greatest patience,
and profound humility,
the souls He places in our hands.
May the desire to see all
attain eternal life
be that which most impels us
and especially those whose responsibility
is the formation of Christian youth,
that all men might rejoice at the straight paths
these walk to the kingdom.
Your zeal despite persecution
may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Tue, 24 August 2021
O loyal subject of the Lord
and of His Church on earth,
though a king
you did not exalt yourself
but listened rather
to the words of your Savior
and chose to serve Him,
doing His work in this world:
the poor you cared for,
your children you raised
in the teaching of Christ,
and for all those in your reign
you sought true justice
and maintained concern
for their spiritual welfare –
pray we poor souls
will emulate your desire
for penance and prayer,
and your faithful obedience
to God and MotherChurch.
May we be blessed as your sons
to have your wisdom in our ears,
a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Tue, 24 August 2021
1Thes.2:9-13; Ps.139:1,7-12; Mt.23:27-32)
“Make your lives worthy of the God
who calls you to His kingship and glory.”
God is our Father, and those who preach “God’s good tidings” love us “as a father does his children,” for their message is “not as the word of men” but truly “the word of God at work within [those] who believe.” Come to the Lord’s table. Eat of His Body, drink of His Blood. Become as He is by His holy Word.
Children of light we are called to be, and what is that light but the one which shines in all places at all times and which is inescapable. “Where can I go from your spirit?” David wonders in our psalm. Whether we fly to the heavens or “sink to the netherworld,” He is there. For Him “darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day” because He Himself is light, and where He is, light shines – and He is everywhere.
How can we become children of such an awesome God? How can we enter “His kingship and glory” as Paul exhorts us in our first reading? The only way is by Jesus and the only way is to follow those who bring Jesus to us, whose conduct is “upright, just, and irreproachable” as is Paul’s – our means of salvation is the Church, its prophets and martyrs, its teaching and sacraments… its grace which comes to us through Jesus Christ to lead us to the Father of all. On the apostles and their message of the Gospel our faith is set.
In our gospel Jesus again chastises the Pharisees, those who have not been loving and faithful fathers for the people, those from whom care of the kingdom will be taken for the “hypocrisy and evil” within them. For though they present “a holy exterior,” it is but the bones of the saints they hold within their whitewashed tombs and not their blessed spirit. Indeed, they shall show themselves murderous as their forefathers, who shed the prophet’s blood – and whom they ascribe to themselves by name – in their giving up the fulfillment of the prophets to crucifixion. “Full of filth” inside and lovers of the tomb’s darkness, they are not worthy to be called fathers of the Lord’s children. And Jesus proves that God’s light shines in even the darkest places by exposing their corruption in our gospel today.
Brothers and sisters, beware of following false leaders whose motives are not pure, who do not lay down their lives for the flock. Remain within the walls of the Church, where the Spirit dwells and where the Father nourishes His people on their way to His kingdom and glory.
O LORD, take all falsehood from our souls
and let us toil only for you.
YHWH, how shall we become true servants of your Word, free of all hypocrisy and evil, not seeking our own gain but the salvation of others? Purge us of the filth within us and make our conduct irreproachable, that you may be known and all your children follow in your way.
Surround us, O LORD, with your presence this day; let your Word be at work within us. Let us not whitewash our sin but acknowledge it before your all-seeing eye, and in repentance find our freedom. Guide us in all things, even in the darkest night, that we may come to know you are ever with us.
For you let us work, LORD, and not for the burying of your light. Let us toil on this earth only to bring your truth to all souls. From the tomb let us be raised to dwell in your holy presence.
Mon, 23 August 2021
O apostle of the Lamb,
man without guile
led by love to the Lord,
you who declared Jesus Son of God
and King of Israel,
whose eyes of faith were illumined
by angels’ wings –
pray we shall be found by the Christ
under our fig tree
in peace, in prayer,
and carry with you His holy Gospel
to the very ends of the earth.
With you as a foundation stone,
one of the Twelve,
may the Bride of the Lamb
be led to her Husband,
her heart burning with love
for Him alone;
her soul thirsting only for God’s presence,
may her eyes be opened
to see her Lord.
To vision of Heaven pray we all come
by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Mon, 23 August 2021
(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51)
“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”
Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?
“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.
And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.
The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God
and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;
let us have eyes that look for Him,
hearts that long for Him.
YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us. Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us. And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.
Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations. And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built. The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.
O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Sun, 22 August 2021
O penitential soul
whose eyes saw the Lord,
whose ears heard His voice
calling all to the Cross,
obediently you accepted
the afflictions that are necessary
to attain union with God
and His surpassing glory –
pray that fearful souls
like our own,
which turn in complaint
from every torment and trouble,
may be blessed with a measure
of your selfless devotion,
that the unfathomable treasure
of the Lord’s grace
might be our own
as we endure,
and even desire as you,
the pains that pave the road to Heaven.
Then we shall know Christ even as you
and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Sun, 22 August 2021
(1Thes.1:2-5,8-10; Ps.149:1-6,9; Mt.23:13-22)
“You turned to God from idols,
to serve Him who is the living and true God.”
Contrast is at the heart of today’s readings again. The faith of the Thessalonians and the inspired preaching of Paul are in distinct opposition to the empty ways and words of the scribes and Pharisees.
In our first reading Paul praises the Thessalonians, who are “laboring in love, and showing constancy in hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” telling them, “Throughout every region your faith in God is celebrated.” In our gospel Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for their blindness to the presence of God. In contrast to the Thessalonians, they have turned from worship of the true God to idols; their vision set on the gold therein, they are unable to see the temple and how sacred it is – their hearts set on things of this earth and the laws they have contrived, they are blind to the Son of God, who sits upon the throne of heaven, as He stands before them. And not only are their vain beliefs in contrast to the true faith of the Thessalonians, but their failures in carrying the Word of God forth stand also in sharp contrast to Paul’s fruitful preaching. Paul’s preaching was “one of power; it was carried on in the Holy Spirit and out of complete conviction,” and so led to the conversion of many nations. On the other hand, Christ says to the scribes and Pharisees: “You shut the doors of the kingdom of God in men’s faces… You travel over sea and land to make a single convert, but once he is converted you make a devil of him twice as wicked as yourselves.”
We must be the fruit of the Apostle’s preaching, brothers and sisters, and not the vain teaching of those who set their souls on the gold of this world. For as the faithful “sing to the Lord a new song of praise,” as they “rejoice in their king” and “praise His name in the festive dance,” even so the voice of the wicked will be silenced: they shall choke to death on all their pride. So let us be those who “await from heaven the Son [God] raised from the dead – Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” With the Thessalonians let us prove our faith in our labor of love, working ever for the coming of the kingdom. And “the high praises of God [will] be in [our] throats” and the “glory of all His faithful” will be ours. Turning from all the idols of this blind generation, let us be born now of the Spirit of God.
O LORD, we are your own;
let us offer ourselves to you.
YHWH, let high praise of you be in our throats; let us sing for joy in your presence. O let us worship you who are the living and true God! Let us turn resolutely from the idols of this vain world and so be made fruitful in your sight. May the doors of your kingdom open for us and for all souls, we pray.
Jesus is seated upon the throne of Heaven and it is through Him we come to you, O mighty God, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Truth be upon our hearts and our tongues as we preach the Gospel of Christ with all our lives – thus may we be found worthy to praise your NAME in the assembly of the faithful.
There is woe in store for those who pervert your words to selfish ends, O LORD, who blind themselves and those they teach to the glory of your presence among us. O let us labor in love in the Body of your Son!
Sat, 21 August 2021
O Queen of Heaven and earth,
you radiate the glory of God,
for now you stand at His right Hand
in the heavenly kingdom.
Clothed with the sun,
the moon under your feet
and a crown of twelve stars
upon your head,
you give light to all souls
who thirst for the grace
our Lord and King
pours upon us through your intercession.
O how the angels rejoiced,
how the heavens rang with praise
when the Son led you into His presence
clothed in gold
to be forever His Bride!
O pray for us,
dearest Queen and Mother,
that we too shall be led in
among your maiden companions
to stand in God’s glory forever.
Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Sat, 21 August 2021
(Jos.24:1-2a,15-17,18b; Ps.34:2-3,9,16-21; Eph.5:21-32; Jn.6:60-69)
“Do you also want to leave?”
How like the questions pertaining to the marriage vows is our Lord’s inquiry of the Twelve, and Joshua’s statement to the Israelites he has just brought out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve,” Joshua says, “as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” And Jesus seeks to find from His apostles if they will be like “many of His disciples [who] returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” after His teaching on the Bread of Life.
Do you take Jesus to be your husband? To honor and obey, to love… to “become one flesh” with Him who is “the Holy One of God”? You are free to leave, or you are free to come unto Him. Though He knows your heart and your choice, yet you are free to make it as you please. How shall you answer the Lord?
Paul renders a beautiful account of the love of husband and wife, relating it well “to Christ and the Church.” “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies… no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church.” And what can the good wife do when loved “as Christ loved the Church and handed Himself over for her,” bleeding and dying on the cross to wash away all our sins – what can she do when confronted with such utter sacrifice for her sake alone but revere her husband and respect his every wish? In loving such a man she finds her joy. (How the wife of Joshua must have beamed to hear her husband’s public declaration that he and his household would follow the Lord! Who could argue with such blessed authority?)
And now, what of you and I, brothers and sisters, we who have the most faithful husband of all? Do we “bless the Lord at all times”? Does our “soul glory in the Lord” as King David’s today? Do we realize how He “watches over all [our] bones” and makes them pure as His own? Or will we be fool enough to leave His loving embrace? The words must come from your mouths as well, and mean them: “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Marriage" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, to whom else shall we go,
to whom else shall we be wed…
for you alone are God?
YHWH, let us never leave you but be wed to your Son and become as His Body in this world. O let His Spirit be upon us to bring us to eternal life! What need we do but be obedient to Him and serve one another in His love? You will certainly watch over and guide us safely in all things if we are united to Jesus.
He left you, O Father in Heaven, to be joined to us, to save us, to pour out His blood as a cleansing shower to purify us from all sin, that we might be able to join you in Heaven with Him. In splendor may He present us to you; let us be faithful until the coming of His Day.
Flesh of His flesh and blood of His blood, you cannot but look upon us with favor, dear LORD. And so, let us praise you all our days, never turning from worship of you, the one true God. Let all your children serve you alone.
Fri, 20 August 2021
O simple priest
who became Shepherd
of the universal Church
and defended her with courage
against the errors of the age,
you did not waver before the powers
that would dilute the purity
of the teaching of our Mother
but stood strong against the tide
attempting to wash her away –
are we not yet threatened
by falsehood and sin
being held up as good,
and so do we not yet need
your spirit and your prayers?
Though the tide may be turning,
returning to the solid rock of faith,
yet certainly we need your help
to see the Spirit of Truth
regain and maintain
His place in this House.
Pray indeed all priests and people
be simple and true as children before God.
Fri, 20 August 2021
(Ruth 2:1-3,8-11,4:13-17; Ps.128:1-5; Mt.23:1-12)
“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.”
Today we can contrast the faith of Ruth with the Pharisees’ of Jesus’ time. In our first reading, Ruth says to her mother-in-law Naomi, “Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field of anyone who will allow me that favor.” She puts herself at ready service in all humility, despite the potential dangers that come with being a foreign woman working in a place dominated by men who may not have the greatest of respect for women in general and especially for her. In contrast, in our gospel Jesus says of the Pharisees, “They bind up heavy loads, hard to carry, to lay on other men’s shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.” These Pharisees have no heart for service; they are sooner the oppressors of the poor and vulnerable, and are rather concerned for “places of honor at banquets” and “marks of respect in public” than the needs of others. How stark the contrast is between she who serves and those who are inflated with pride.
And how true are Jesus’ words: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Indeed, God’s providential hand watches over Ruth as she gleans in the field that “happened to be the section belonging to Boaz of the clan of Elimalech,” her father-in-law, and so a close kinsman. Not only does Boaz make provision for her safe and fruitful gleaning of his fields – instructing his young men to do her “no harm” and indeed to leave food behind that it will be easy for her to gather – but he seeks diligently to take her to wife… and through their union she (and Naomi) is blessed with a son who will be grandfather to King David. But what of these Pharisees and their vanity? From them Jesus will take the keys of the kingdom, the teaching authority on earth which they so misuse for their own gain, and give it to others as He builds His Church on Peter and the apostles. And so today we hold up Ruth as a model of faith, while these dead men’s bones which walked the earth in whitewashed tombs now find their home rotting in the grave.
“You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork,” our psalm proclaims. Those like Ruth who “fear the Lord, who walk in His ways… shall be like a fruitful vine” and their “children like olive plants around” their table. However, those inflated with pride, serving no one but themselves, shall come to naught. Let us heed our Lord’s warning today not to exalt ourselves in any work we do, but rather set our hearts on serving others. Then we shall truly be fruitful, for then we shall know the fruits of heaven.
O LORD, you bless all those who fear you,
who are humble before you.
YHWH, make us humble before you and before others, ever willing to serve in your NAME. Then we shall be blessed. Then we shall find our place in your kingdom. For then we shall be fruitful and our fruits shall raise us to you.
Anyone to whom you lead us, let us serve, dear LORD. Guide our steps to the field where we shall glean grain for food that will sustain us all our days. You alone are our nourishment, and fed by your hand we shall have abundance.
But if into pride we fall, exalting ourselves above others, assuming the place reserved for you and your Son, how we shall be cast down! Our hearts and our hands will be empty as our deeds: our vanity will spell our end. No fruit of any worth shall we bear, and so our souls shall starve for want of love. O LORD, let us be truly humble! Let us be like you.
Thu, 19 August 2021
O great light of the Church
who by word and work
inspired your brothers
and so many others
to a life of virtue,
to peace and unity with one another
and an abiding love
for our Lord and His Mother –
teach us this day, O blessed preacher,
of the way in which Jesus calls us,
of the life and love God offers
if we but respond in kind
in our weak and limited manner.
To all souls in His holy Church
and throughout the world
you brought the Word of God,
you imparted the light of His wisdom;
please pray, dear father in the faith,
that our lives may be conformed
to the loving will of the Lord
and we become children of His light
and bearers of His Good News to the nations,
till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Thu, 19 August 2021
(Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22; Ps.146:2,5-10; Mt.22:34-40)
“Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
How well our readings harmonize this day. Jesus speaks plainly to the keepers of the law the greatest commandments – total love of God and neighbor – and Ruth puts them into practice for our witness. And our psalm sings the praises of our great God of love, whose care for “the hungry” and “the strangers,” “the fatherless and the widow,” we are called to imitate. Alleluia, indeed.
Ruth is a foreigner, from a land which follows other gods; yet she is willing to leave “her people and her god” to follow Naomi and the living and true God unreservedly. Oh how this mirrors all our call to leave all of this world behind and follow the Lord and His way. Oh that we had the courage and faith of this Moabite woman who will become the great-grandmother of King David. How well this illustrates God’s call and blessing to any and all who seek Him, who long to walk in His steps. And how well His way of compassion and love is shown in His care for this widow Naomi, who came to Moab hungry and leaves now to return to Israel with this blessed daughter-in-law to be with her and serve her without restraint.
The words of the Lord are so true: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” They silence even the hardest of hearts with their radiance. We know that God is love, that through His help we find blessing – that His concern for all those in need extends “through all generations” – and we know that we should be like Him… but how often we fail to practice Ruth’s resolve.
This day let us cast off our reservations, brothers and sisters, and cast ourselves upon the love and grace of the Lord. Let us resolve never to “abandon or forsake” Him. Knowing clearly the love of God which comes from the lips of our own Lord of love and our blessed psalmist, and which is embodied by Ruth’s profession of faith and commitment to love, let us vow in this spirit to return the Lord’s boundless love, for in loving we become like Him whom we love and so stand with Him who “shall reign forever” in the eternal kingdom of light and love. Again I say, now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation. Follow Him unreservedly.
O LORD, may we increase in purity daily,
for the hour of your Son’s coming is nigh
and we must be ready to become His bride.
YHWH, help us to trust entirely in you, to love you with all our heart, and our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to leave behind our people and anything that keeps us from you. To you and to your love let us come, and with you make our home.
You provide, O LORD, for all those in need, for the widow and the orphan, and the stranger who draws close to you. You make no distinction among people: it is those of faith who are acceptable to you and whom you bless. Those of faith who reflect your great love become as your sons and daughters; these are wed to you.
O let us never abandon or forsake you, LORD! Let us go wherever you lead, and make your people our people. With you and with those who follow you let us stay and remain, and we shall dwell securely in your love. You are our only hope – reign over us forever.
Wed, 18 August 2021
O priest of Jesus and Mary
so dedicated to the Hearts
of our Lord and Lady
and the formation of your fellow priests,
how well you preached
of our need to be one
with Christ our Head;
with what zeal you cared
for the poorest among us –
pray that priests and indeed all Christians
will have hearts and souls
beating and breathing as one
with the Lord,
in union with our Blessed Mother;
may all serve and glorify the Father
by using all their faculties
as if they were His alone.
O that we might indeed
belong to the Son of God
and be ruled by Him,
His own eternal life
coursing through our very veins,
His breath upon our tongue!
Wed, 18 August 2021
(Jgs.11:29-39; Ps.40:5,7-10; Mt.22:1-14)
“You have made a vow to the Lord.
Do with me as you have vowed.”
As with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is blessed not so much for giving birth to Jesus – or consecrating herself to God as a virgin – as for hearing and doing the word of God, being the handmaiden of the Lord extraordinaire… so the Lord delights not in “sacrifice and oblation,” per se, but in “ears open to obedience.” In accepting the sacrifice of her fertility (the greatest sacrifice a woman could make, though it may be difficult to realize in these days of abortion and contraception), Jephthah’s daughter demonstrates the obedience required of all the redeemed.
“Happy the man who makes the Lord his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood,” David proclaims in our psalm today. “The spirit of the Lord” upon him, Jephthah defeats severely the Ammonites, a nation which practiced the sacrifice of their children to their god, Molech. The Lord thus shows disdain for them and their ways. Thus also it should be evident that Jephthah would not do in the spirit of the Lord that which is directly opposed to His will. The sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter is of her fertility – it is her virginity she mourns and not her death. And Jephthah maintains his vow by consecrating her wholly to God, knowing that his generation will cease, since he has no other sons and daughters to bear his name, and thus making a great sacrifice himself. If it were her life itself he offers God, he would be no better than those he destroyed and certainly no son of Abraham, who was taught the truth against such sacrifice so many years before.
This aside, we turn to our gospel. It is clear that Jesus is telling the chief priests and elders of the people that they do not have the obedience required of the redeemed. “In the written scroll it is prescribed” that all must do the will of God, but these who know the Scriptures so well, know nothing of them at all… and so the Word goes out to draw the whole world into the kingdom prepared by God. But to these, too, Jesus has a warning: “The invited are many, the elect are few.” If we are “not properly dressed for a wedding feast,” if we have not aligned our lives with the will of God, we too shall be thrown “out into the night” with the man who had to “wail and grind his teeth.” And this wailing shall not come as holy sacrifice unto the ears of God; it shall not demonstrate our obedience to Him, but rather be the inflicting of judgment upon our souls.
Let us be obedient to the will of God in all things, brothers and sisters. Let us hear His voice alone and follow where it leads.
O LORD, let us offer ourselves as a holocaust to you;
then we will be fit to enter your presence.
YHWH, how shall we give true worship to you and offer you the sacrifice you are due? Only complete obedience to your will shall bring us into your presence; it is our very lives you desire of us. For you know that only this will make us joyful – only union with you and your Son will fulfill the longing of our hearts.
To your wedding feast let us come, O LORD, and there let us remain, ever praising your glory with full voice, happy to be among those you have saved. And so, in purity let us come, single-hearted let us be, and we shall not be cast out into the night but live in your holy light.
Your Spirit you send upon those who call upon you, who devote themselves to your will. Let us fulfill our vows to you, LORD; let us turn from all idols and trust in you alone, and we shall be blessed forever in your House.
Tue, 17 August 2021
(Jgs.9:6-15; Ps.21:2-7; Mt.20:1-16)
“The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
Jesus, the Son of God and true King, who is first, has made Himself last, and so for His humility will be exalted forever; Abimalech, rebellious son of Gideon, who is least of all his brothers, has made himself first, and so will be humbled for his vain pride.
In our first reading Jotham curses his brother Abimalech from the mountaintop as this least of the trees is anointed king after having murdered all other of his brothers. (There were seventy sons of the judge Gideon – who himself refused kingship.) The people of Shechem have fallen by pride in this son of their own city and so they, too, are cursed for taking refuge in his dark shadow. Abimalech’s thorns shall pierce them and shall prove a bitter medicine of purgation for these wayward Israelites. They shall indeed be the death of one another.
In contrast to this false king, in David’s psalm we hear of the blessings the true king receives from God, in whom he rejoices and to whom he gives all glory for victory: “O Lord, in your strength the king is glad.” It is not by his own will that this king reigns, but by the will of the Father, and so his place is assured and he is exalted and made “a blessing forever.” David, too, was the least of his brothers, but unlike Abimalech, who took matters into his own jealous and bloody hands, he trusted always in the Lord and humbled himself before the God of all, and so, “great is his glory in [the Lord’s] victory.”
And, of course, we know that it is the Son of David, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords: in Him is the blessed kingship of God fulfilled. And, of course, it is His great humility which has made Him so exalted. Did He not take the crown of thorns upon His head? Was He not pierced by the pride of man’s rebellion? Did He not accept the bitter wine as He died upon the cross? And so should not all trees bow down to this sanctifying tree, this true vine? Is it not by the fruit of this buckthorn that we are purged from our sins against Him who is Most High? He who has been raised on the cross is indeed King of us all, and all others mere pretenders.
Brothers and sisters, it is only in Christ and in the shadow of the tree that is the cross that we shall find blessing, that we shall find glory, that we shall be exalted and receive “a crown of pure gold.” Follow no other, for false gods abound and their fall is great. Toil only in the vineyard of the Lord and regardless of the length or breadth of your labor you shall receive your recompense, which is oneness with Him who is eternal and whose generous reign knows no bounds. And be not envious of others’ entering in if it is you who must toil long – your service of God should be your joy and a source of great humility.
O LORD, those who are least in the eyes of the world
are first in your eyes,
for you love all souls, but despise sin.
YHWH, you have sent us a great King, before whom all others must bow, in whose light all other reigns pale. For He is the only true King, the only King whose reign endures. And only in Him is true justice; and only in Him is true charity. Only in Jesus will all be cared for, will all be united with you.
Let us serve your Son well, dear LORD. Let us enter His vineyard and do the work set before us by His gracious concern. He seeks to draw us into His realm that we might be blessed by Him; let us not be idle or jealous of His goodness toward all, but treasure every hour we toil in His presence.
There are false gods enough to lead any soul astray, but only you are LORD and only on your Son do your majesty and splendor rest. Let us take our refuge, Father, in the shadow of His Cross.
Mon, 16 August 2021
(Jgs.6:11-24; Ps.85:9,11-14; Mt.19:23-30)
“Go with the strength you have and save Israel
from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.”
The world is at enmity with God. The kingdom of heaven is not as the kingdom of this earth, thus Jesus tells us that “the last shall come first.” For though we pray the Lord’s kingdom come now to this earth, it shall not be fulfilled until “the new age when the Son of Man takes His seat upon a throne befitting His glory.” We must therefore not judge with the mind of the world but continually struggle against it and its power.
In our gospel Jesus calls the apostles to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom. As He instructs them of the danger of the riches of this world, they are “completely overwhelmed.” Judging with an earthly mind, they think riches should be of assistance; but the Lord wishes to teach them of the mind of God, upon which the world is set in opposition. The apostles indeed “have put everything aside to follow” Jesus, and for this they shall receive their reward. But their only reward on this earth will be persecution; it is in heaven their glory shall come.
Yes, the Lord “proclaims peace to His people” and “justice shall walk before Him, and salvation, along the way of His steps”; and though the Lord blesses and guides us in our fight against evil now – imparting to us a share of His Spirit – yet we know “His benefits” shall only be fulfilled in heaven; this is the land which “shall yield its increase.” As in our first reading the meat and cakes of Gideon are laid upon a rock, not consumed by the mouth for the sake of the belly but consumed by the fire of the Lord to feed his faith, so it is that the Lord and His angels and all those who follow Him are of the Spirit and not the flesh. And so it is that the Lord chooses those who are least in the eyes of the world, as is Gideon: “My family is the meanest in Manassah, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house,” and places His power upon them, to show us not only that “for God all things are possible,” but more so to instruct us not to put faith in the passing things of this world but in the eternal “justice and peace” of His heavenly kingdom.
We must indeed struggle continually against this world and its power with the strength God gives us, brothers and sisters. In the riches of this life we must never take our ease. For these are set in opposition to God in enmity. God is Spirit and we must be as He is, taking our places in His heavenly glory with the apostles who have laid down their lives and so now judge in righteousness with Jesus the king. Go forth now in His Name.
O LORD, let us follow in the way you mark out for us,
and we will be blessed.
YHWH, you come to those who are lowly, who place their trust in you. Those who set their hearts on you and give up the things of this world will be blessed in your kingdom.
Call us forth in your NAME to do your will, O LORD. Without you, we are nothing, the meanest creatures on this earth. But with the strength that comes from you, we can conquer all our enemies. It is from you all blessings come; only through you will our land yield its increase, will we be fruitful here and in Heaven.
Why should we desire the riches of this world when you are the only treasure worthy of our time, when it is only your glory that passes not away? O LORD, accept the offering of our lives. Increase our faith in your protection, in the angel you send to call us to you, and we shall live ever in your peace.
Sun, 15 August 2021
O faithful king,
loyal son of MotherChurch
and just ruler of your people,
in peace and piety,
humbly and honorably
you executed your duties,
never showing favor to anyone
but always respecting all
and maintaining above all the faith
and the Church which propagates
that faith in Christ –
where is true Christian profession today,
where those in positions of power
truly dedicated to right service
of the Lord and His people?
Do pray for us, dear king,
that others shall follow in your footsteps
as has your son
so that all shall become
faithful followers of our Lord
in whatever position He grants them.
Pray especially for leaders
whose hearts are set on love of God and holy Church.
Sun, 15 August 2021
(Jgs.2:11-19; Ps.106:4,34-37,39-40,43-44; Mt.19:16-22)
“They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the Lord.”
It is not long before the Israelites break their vows to the Lord, mingling with other nations and worshiping their idols. As soon as the generation which has known Joshua dies out, their children begin to stray. And though the Lord “raised up judges to deliver them from the power of their despoilers,” to save them from their enemies when He heard their cry of affliction, repeatedly “when the judge died, they would relapse and do worse.” Thus it shall also be with the interminable series of good and evil kings which shall lead to their exile, and thus the necessity of the eternal King, Jesus Christ, under whose reign there is no faltering backward – for He lives forever to intercede.
So evil had the Israelites become that they “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.” And one must ask, should the Lord God not punish such deeds? Does He not hold justice in His right hand? Should such action be allowed to transpire? Although the Lord holds compassion in His left hand and always has regard for our affliction when we cry out to Him, He does not, He cannot, allow sin to go unpunished. If He did so it would but grow more grave and the peril to the soul would be greater, and thus He would fail in compassion not only to the victims of oppression but to the soul of the oppressor.
How difficult this is to hear in the materialistic age in which we dwell, where the body is king and possessions take the place of the spirit. How like the young man in our gospel many are when they hear the call to perfection, when they are challenged to give up their possessions, for our souls have become one with our material wealth, and to lose it we think spells death. But it is not death but life to which Jesus calls us, life in the Spirit, which is life itself. And whether we own things or not we must not own them; we must know that all belongs to God, or we shall not belong to God but to the false idols of the nations around us and the death and defilement their evil practices bring. For do we not today sacrifice our children on the altar of abortion in the name of ease and luxury.
“There is One who is good. If you wish to enter life, keep His commandments.” If you wish for death, continue to stray.
O LORD, how shall we give ourselves entirely to you,
you who alone love us?
YHWH, save us from following the false gods that surround us and close in. Easily we go astray without your shepherds to lead us. May your Son be present to us this day in your Church that we might be kept from falling into the power of our enemies by the sins we commit.
Why should we abandon you, LORD? Why should we fall under the devil’s sway and give ourselves to the service of the empty things of this world? Look upon our weakness. Help us rather to abandon our passing possessions and put our trust in your unfading glory. Help us keep to your Word and your way and find the goodness, the perfection, only you hold.
Your Son calls us this day away from the vain pursuits of this corrupted place. May we heed His voice and turn from the evil sacrifices of wanton nations to join ourselves to His Cross.
Sat, 14 August 2021
O glorious Virgin Mary,
preserved from sin
from the moment of your conception
and now raised with your Son unto Heaven,
blessed are you among women,
most blessed of all God’s creatures;
kept from all corruption,
you His lowly servant
now reign with Jesus in His kingdom –
pray all generations will call you blessed
that all may indeed share in your blessing
and come by the grace of the Lord
to stand at His side
in the Father’s presence.
Above the choirs of angels,
where poor mortal man is called
to take his place
in union with the immortal Godhead,
you precede us, O Immaculate Mother,
by virtue of your eternal union with the only Son.
Pray we shall truly follow you to perfection,
conquering death by the Cross
and entering the light of the Lord.
Sat, 14 August 2021
(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab; Ps.45:10-12,16; 1Cor.15:20-26; Lk.1:39-56)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory. She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven. And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life. May she bless us from her place with you this holy day.
In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God. We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm. The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.” “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise.
“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst. She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary comes, how much more should we be filled with veneration for the Virgin daughter of Israel? Indeed, it is her voice which causes the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb; with such joy we should approach this sacred day.
As intimately as she was with Jesus, and is with Jesus now, so intimately is she with His Church here on earth as well as in heaven. From her place at His side she watches over us and cares for our needs as any mother for her son. We are her sons and daughters, united to her through the One Lord, Jesus Christ. She comes to us now at the end of the age, granting wisdom and direction to those who seek their place with her Son. Call her blessed, brothers and sisters in Christ, and see her glory shining forth at the right hand of God. In her you will find light greater than sun and moon and stars. You will find the presence of our Lord and our God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, look upon all your lowly servants with favor,
that we might join Mary at your Son’s side
in the kingdom.
YHWH, your promise of mercy is fulfilled in our midst as she who is blessed comes to us bearing your Son. And our hearts leap for joy at her approach, for indeed she brings salvation with her, and so the destruction of death. In her Son is your kingdom, your power come, and to His glory we are all called.
Dearest Mary, who are we that you should come to us, O Mother of our Lord? O what blessing you are for those who rejoice with you in God our Savior! For as He has looked upon you, His lowly servant, so He looks upon all poor creatures and fills our emptiness with His presence. O that we might stand with you at His side this day!
LORD, in Jesus death is conquered and all souls are brought to life again. His Virgin Mother is the first to join Him in your glory, for you prepared a place for her. May we all find the place prepared for us in your kingdom.
Fri, 13 August 2021
O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin
and martyr for our Lord,
well you spread the fame
of the Mother of all graces,
calling all souls to repentance
that she might apply her Son’s blood
to save the straying among us;
and well you heeded our Savior’s call
to lay down your life for others –
pray this day we have such strength,
such conviction and determination
in serving our Lord and Lady,
in publishing the Good News
that by our dedication
we too may serve well upon this earth
in the army of the faithful,
also leading souls
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
that peoples and nations may be converted
and so learn in turn to serve
the surpassing glory of God.
Fri, 13 August 2021
(Jos.24:14-29; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-8,11; Mt.19:13-15)
“We will serve the Lord, our God, and obey His voice.”
Like children we must come before the Lord and extol His holy Name. “Completely and sincerely” we must serve Him and He will place His hands upon our heads and bless us. And we will sing with David of the “fullness of joys in [His] presence, the delights at [His] right hand forever.” We indeed will be as children, and He will be our God. Listen to the words of Jesus: “Let the children come to me… The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Oh to know the blessing of being in the Lord’s presence forever!
“My Lord are you. Apart from you I have no good,” cries David to his God. Indeed, how our psalm sings the praises of the Lord and the blessing of our refuge in Him. How well it illustrates the fruit of the covenant the people enter into with God at Shechem under Joshua’s leadership. The Promise having been fulfilled, Joshua calls the Israelites to renew their commitment to the Lord. And though their fidelity to Him will only be for a short time and the stone set up shall soon be a witness against them, yet their vows are those we must all make in sincerity and in truth. Obeying His voice is indeed our salvation. As David sings, “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.” The Lord is ever there for those who trust in Him, who give their lives to Him, who serve Him – who come to Him as a humble child in innocence and love. What greater blessing can we know than to love the Lord who is “a holy God” and so become one with Him? This is our “allotted portion,” this is our “cup” – this is the reign of God upon us to which we are called.
“I set the Lord before me,” our psalm states, “with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” If we but set our hearts on Him, brothers and sisters, there can be nothing that will move us. If we but take our vows in the Spirit of Truth, He will be ever with us. Let us not be afraid. Let us not be afraid that we will fall, that He will leave us. Let us pursue Him with heart and soul; let us give our lives over to Him.
To serve Him and to love Him is our blessed joy. Let us be as children before Him and reap this joy unto life eternal. Let our covenant with Him be written upon our hearts and evident in all our lives, and we shall stand in His presence forever. Set aside all false gods; listen to His voice. Alleluia!
O LORD, may you be our God
and we be your children!
YHWH, lay your hands upon our heads that we might be blessed, that we might have the strength to worship you alone. Let us be resolved to serve only you, to put all false gods far from us. It is you who are our allotted portion and cup, you who hold fast our lot – in you let us take refuge this day.
You alone are holy, LORD; you alone are exalted far above all gods. In you alone we find our salvation, and so, to you alone should we come for blessing. Let us be as children, with hearts set on loving only you, and the kingdom of Heaven shall be ours, for you will then be at our side.
Forgive our transgressions, O LORD, our turning away from you… our breaking the covenant we made to serve you alone. Let our vows be renewed this day, and let them be set in stone before you. Help us by your grace not to waver, not to fear, but to know your innocence in our souls and remain humbly at the feet of your Son.
Thu, 12 August 2021
O brothers united in faith
and in offering the ultimate sacrifice
for the sake of that faith,
for the sake of God’s Church –
pray nothing shall separate
one from another,
but that all members of His flock
and all those who lead His flock
will remain ever united
in His blood
under the See of Peter.
O pray that His Body
not be divided
but that it be healed,
by His Cross.
Into His arms
may we all offer our lives
and so join our Lord
in His kingdom.
Thu, 12 August 2021
(Jos.24:1-13; Ps.136:1-3,16-18,21-22,24; Mt.19:3-12)
“I gave you a land which you had not tilled
and cities which you had not built, to dwell in.”
All of our lives come to us by the grace of God, “for His mercy endures forever.” It is never by our own hands that anything good is accomplished. As the Lord says to the Israelites, “It was not your sword or your bow,” by which they conquered the nations – emphasizing that it was He who destroyed them – so we must know, too, that it is the Lord who goes before us and brings us to the land He has prepared for us; and it is by His hand that all our enemies, all obstacles, are conquered.
Our first reading and our psalm speak particularly of the Lord’s finally bringing the Israelites safely into the Promised Land. Joshua, who has by God’s grace accomplished the work commissioned upon him through Moses, now seeks to remind the people of the blessings God has bestowed upon them in giving them this fruitful land, that they might not forget their God and the praise due Him. As Moses prepared the people with his speech before they entered the Promised Land, so Joshua exhorts them now that they have attained their goal; and the focus of both addresses is that they not forget their God who provides them with all things.
In our gospel Jesus teaches us of the blessing of chastity, of the sanctity of marriage and the godly call to celibate life. Of what does He speak but of the Promised Land become quite real in the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem. We are told throughout the letters of especially St. Paul that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that sins against their purity and integrity are the gravest of offenses, for in these the sin is so real, so present, even to our flesh. In these temples we dwell. These temples we must keep holy, we must keep pure. “It is so difficult,” you might say. Then remember the Lord’s words to the Israelites; remember that it is He who “slew powerful kings” before them, that it is by His power they conquered, and you will be able to say with them that it is the Lord who “freed us from our foes.”
Jesus says of celibacy, perhaps the greatest gift of God and the closest to Him we can come, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, only those to whom it is given to do so,” and this is our key to attaining its grace, and indeed the grace of any form of chastity: we must know it is He who works in us and we must seek His blessing “for the sake of God’s reign”; and then He will make us steady and strong in the fields of His Promised Land as we call upon and praise His Name.
O LORD, there is no separating what you have joined;
you do not leave us but in your mercy bless our way,
and just so we should remain faithful to one another –
your promise should be our own.
YHWH, all good comes to us at your command, and so we praise and thank you for your merciful love, for your rescuing us from the land of Egypt and bringing us into your kingdom. We cannot leave sin behind and enter into union with you except by your word and your will; and so, join us together, we pray – never let us be separated from you.
It is then we shall know your goodness fully, LORD, when, one with your Son, we renounce all of this world for the sake of your reign and find your grace at work in our lives. Only then will we enter the Land you promise to your faithful children.
You make all our enemies flee before us, LORD; it is you who conquer all kings of sin. For your mercy cannot be bound, and those who cry out to you, you save.
Wed, 11 August 2021
O tireless worker for the Lord
who when cut off from everything
dearest to you
gave yourself completely to God,
you who have shown the way
of the martyrdom of love,
of dying entirely to self
and serving our Savior
in the sick and the poor,
in whose guise He comes –
pray our lives shall not wallow
pray we shall have
the same thirst for love as you,
that by our love we may die
and so overcome death
to live forever
in the presence of our Redeemer.
Visit us this day in our weakness
that our hearts, too, might be strong
and our lives be laid down
in the blood of the only Son.
Wed, 11 August 2021
(Jos.3:7-11,13-17; Ps.114:1-6; Mt.18:21-19:1)
“My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
The forgiveness of sins and the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land is our theme today. Both are very much one and the same.
In our gospel Jesus tells the parable of the merciless servant in order to teach Peter and the apostles of the office of forgiveness which is theirs through his intercession. When one of a king’s officials is unable to pay his debt, he “prostrates himself” before the king and begs for time. “Moved with pity,” the master lets the official go and writes off the debt. (In just the same way the apostles are to forgive those who repent of their sins.) But the same servant who is forgiven then demonstrates no forgiveness to a fellow servant, demanding from him all that is owed and throwing him in jail. When the king gets wind of the servant’s lack of mercy, he removes the forgiveness of his debt and seeks to extract every penny from him. The parable illustrates Jesus’ central teaching: we must forgive to be forgiven. And it indicates the power of forgiveness Jesus, the King, gives to His apostles, the officials, the servants – evident in its being prompted by Peter’s question regarding forgiveness. The Lord reminds them (and us) of the forgiveness they have received from Him, and that they should carry this gift to others.
A metaphor of this power is presented in our first reading. Joshua, Moses’ successor, leads the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land at the instruction of the Lord. Notice what causes the waters of the Jordan to “halt in a solid bank,” allowing the people to pass over on dry land (much as the previous generation had done at the Red Sea). The waters cease flowing “when the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord… touch the water of the Jordan.” Much as Christ and His apostles stand in the breach interceding for the forgiveness of our sins and thus drawing us into the heavenly kingdom, so “the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.” Of old the priests led by Joshua found their power of intercession in the ark of the covenant which held the Ten Commandments; today our priests, led by Peter, find their power of forgiveness in the cross of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us all forgive one another from the heart. Let us flee in fear like the “Jordan turned back” on its course the danger of holding a grudge or failing to share the blessings we have received from Jesus. Let us cross the Jordan to the Promised Land ourselves and serve to draw others into the heavenly kingdom. Let us not disappoint our Father and so know His wrath; let us shine His loving mercy forth till all have crossed on dry land.
O LORD, without forgiveness in our heart,
we shall never cross over into the Promised Land.
YHWH, how shall we pass into the Promised Land if you do not go with us; and how shall you go with us if we are burdened by sin? We need you to go before us, and we need your forgiveness, or we shall be left on the banks of the Jordan.
And how shall we be forgiven our sins and find your presence among us if we fail to forgive those who are indebted to us? O LORD, how can a man with a hardened heart come before you who are mercy itself? He has no place in your kingdom, and so the waters which would have cleansed him of his sins drown him instead.
Send us your priests, dear LORD, to lead us in your stead. May Peter be at the head of your people to bring them as has Joshua, as does Jesus, into your Promised Land. And may we thus be freed from sin that we might follow them.
Tue, 10 August 2021
O bride of Christ
whose poverty matched His own,
whose humility made Him known,
whose love indeed approached
and the embrace of His holy arms –
pray all souls will gaze into the mirror
that is our Lord
born in a manger,
dead upon a Cross,
risen unto Heaven.
Pray we shall be driven on
through the death we all must die,
through His marvelous poverty,
His wondrous humility,
to the indescribable delights
of those who remain at His side.
O that we might be poor as you were poor,
as He is poor
for the sake of every soul,
that we might come to embrace
His blessed sacrifice
and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Tue, 10 August 2021
(Dt.34:1-12; Ps.66:1-3,5,8,16-17,20; Mt.18:15-20)
“This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that I would give to their descendants.”
The promise is coming to fulfillment; Moses looks out on the land the Lord so long ago vowed to give the great patriarchs. And though he shall not enter in and dwell there with the people, yet he has confidence that the promise shall be fulfilled. And though after forty years of struggle he will die here at the border, we know he has a greater reward stored up for him in heaven.
What is this Promised Land now? Where do we find it today but in the Church founded by Jesus upon his apostles and living in the hearts and lives of all His disciples? This is the Promised Land, the heavenly Jerusalem at work in the world even now. Notice that Joshua “was filled with the Spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands on him.” And “the Israelites gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command.” In the same way the power of the Holy Spirit coming from Peter and the apostles is passed down to this day in the Lord’s Church: the power is indeed from Jesus and His Spirit, but their power works invariably through the deeds of men so ordained. And by that power Joshua will lead the Israelites to the Promised Land even as Peter and his successors lead the Church to our heavenly homeland, insofar as we give obedience to them at the Lord’s command.
Jesus in our gospel outlines the special place the Church holds both in judging offenses and offering prayers. He repeats the Church’s power to bind and loose from fault, a power that begins with Peter but extends to all His disciples so ordained, and reminds them also of the great strength they take when together they call upon His name: “If two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in heaven.” The Lord does not work in a vacuum but accomplishes great and wondrous things through those He lays His hands upon.
What great works were accomplished by Moses: “He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform.” Oh “the might and terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.” Do you think this power dies with Moses? Do you think it has come to an end? No. For his successor Joshua parts the Jordan River by the same power; and now in Jesus and through His Church that power comes to fulfillment. Tremendous are the Lord’s “deeds among men.” If we but “appealed to Him in words,” what wonders would we know. Wars would cease and this world would look much more like the heavenly kingdom He has promised us all. Let us pray with one voice, as one Church, in His Name.
O LORD, what greater gift could you give
than the power upon your priests
to forgive men’s sins?
YHWH, what power you give to those who serve you; what tremendous deeds are wrought by your disciples. For what equal had Moses in the signs and wonders you worked through him? And what greater work can there be than the forgiving of men’s sins, which you accomplish by your priests this day?
Upon your Church you place your power, LORD; where two or three are gathered all prayers are answered. And even judgment you give to Church leaders, the power to discern right from wrong. As your lawgiver had clear vision till the end of his days, to see and know your will and teach the people of your ways, so this day is fulfilled in your Son and in those upon whom He lays His hands the grace of wisdom and understanding to lead souls into the promised land of Heaven. Let us listen to the words they speak to us, let us be obedient sons.
Mon, 9 August 2021
O generous soul,
you gave your life freely
to the poor
and your death completely
to the Lord;
a grain of wheat fallen to the earth,
you have indeed produced much fruit,
so closely have you followed Christ –
pray for us miserable souls
who cannot seem to draw near
your thorough sacrifice,
made without fear of the fire
ignited by your torturers,
made in joy of uniting
your death to Jesus’ own.
How shall we approach your love,
your blood so closely mingled
with that of our crucified Lord;
how shall we match your generosity
in serving His blessed call?
Pray we will find the courage
to give everything over to God
and know we are in His arms.
Mon, 9 August 2021
(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26)
“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.
“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”
May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him. “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice. In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, if we serve you,
we will be where Jesus has been
– fixed to a cross –
and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,
for we will come to where He is now in Heaven.
YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance. Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.
O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life. Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice. Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.
What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat? Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.
Sun, 8 August 2021
O sacrificial victim
seeking to bring peace
to a dark world,
you found your wisdom in love,
in the love of Christ
and in His Cross,
and died three times for His sake:
once in entering His Church,
once in taking His habit,
and once in laying down your life
at the hands of the enemies of His peace –
pray, O blessed teacher
and sister to all men,
that the death of this life
be something we shall not fear
but embrace with the same grace
with which the Lord blessed you.
Why should we hold
to the things of the earth
when Jesus waits to embrace us
in His loving arms
and carry us unto Heaven?
Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Sun, 8 August 2021
Dt.10:12-22; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Mt.17:22-27)
“In His love for your fathers the Lord was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples.”
The Israelites are the chosen race, and Jesus the Chosen One of that race. Upon them the blessing rests, and in the Son it is fulfilled.
Our first reading tells us that the Lord is a great God, “who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.” And the Israelites are called to be made in the image of their Father, showing His might in this way of compassion and truth. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow His ways exactly,” declares Moses. And so he enjoins upon the people the Lord’s word, “His statutes and ordinances,” which “He has not made known” to other nations, and which serve as their guide to maintaining His light in their lives. “He has strengthened the bars of your gates… He has granted peace in your borders,” our psalm confirms: by the grace of God’s law their children are blessed and become “numerous as the stars of the sky.”
And in our gospel we see again the fulfillment of the Father’s blessing and of His law in the Person of Jesus and the sacrifice He, and we, are called to make. First Jesus makes clear that He is the Son of God exempt from the temple tax – how can the temple pay tax unto itself, or, better yet, how can the temple be paid tax by Him who made it? Jesus is the Chosen One, the chosen of the chosen sons. And His new Law, His new way – which again is but the fulfillment of the law laid out by Moses – is the cross. Moses tells us of the compassion and justice of the Father, who cares for widows and orphans and aliens, and Jesus embodies that love and truth by being “delivered into the hands of men who will put Him to death” for our sin and to show the love God has for us in such utter sacrifice.
Brothers and sisters, allow me to note here that there is no distinction between the love and the justice of God: they are inseparable, the one ever complementing the other. It is out of both love and a sense of justice that the Lord defends the widows and orphans, saving them from their oppressors and gathering them into His arms. His love breeds justice and His justice love. This is the way of God; and this must be our way as His children.
Yes, God loves the world and so He sends His Son to make atonement for our sin. We have sinned and atonement must be made; it cannot be otherwise. And it cannot be otherwise but that God makes that atonement by His love. Let us join to Him as sons in His holy sacrifice. This is our special, blessed call.
O LORD, though in His love He made Himself
an outcast for our sakes, for our lack of love,
Jesus is your only Son.
YHWH, you are the great God, mighty and awesome, your glory far above us and our ways. Yet you bless us with your presence, you proclaim your Word to our hearts – you send your Son into our midst as the Temple in which we may worship you and so join ourselves to your surpassing glory. For this grace let us never cease to praise you; let us never fail to follow in your way.
Your Son shows to us the way we must walk; the way of love He marks out for us in perfectly fulfilling your will, in freely going to the Cross. Here your surpassing love for your poor creatures you reveal to us. And this same love you call us to – this same glory is ours, O LORD, by the mercy He bears.
To this Temple let us come. In your Son let us make our home. He who humbles Himself for our sakes, who joins Himself to us for our salvation, let us follow unto glory. Your Word be fulfilled in our midst.
Sat, 7 August 2021
O humble preacher
who walked in poverty
with Christ your King
and spoke in power
to destroy lie by truth,
you gathered men around you
to be bearers of the grace of God,
to be men of the Gospel
inspired by love divine –
pray we shall be taught well
and walk with you in Jesus’ way,
that all we do
will be for the salvation of souls,
our lives even as our Savior’s.
May His Word
and deep love for others
lead us in all our work on earth
that always and in all things
we may beseech the Lord
to be with all His brothers.
Pray our hearts be set on His will
and we serve as His apostles.
Sat, 7 August 2021
(1Kgs.19:4-8; Ps.34:2-9; Eph.4:30-5:2; Jn.6:41-51)
“Strengthened by that food he walked forty days and forty nights
to the mountain of God, Horeb.”
As the forty days and forty nights Noah found himself protected from the rains by the Lord; as the forty years the Israelites were guided through the desert; as the forty days Jesus found strength in the Word of God while fasting in the wilderness… as Elijah is fed for his journey, so we for the fullness of our days feed upon “the bread of life” as we travel to the heavenly kingdom of our Lord. Here is our ark; here is our manna – here is all the strength and protection we need. He is our food.
“His praise shall be ever in my mouth,” for His food is ever on our altar, and this Sacrament fills us with nothing but joy. If we had not this food, indeed “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling” would come from our mouths so poisoned by the fruit of the world. But as it is “Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma,” and thus we “taste and see how good the Lord is” and cannot but “glorify the Lord” and “extol His name.”
That “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them” is illustrated clearly in the trials of Elijah. Overwhelmed by “all [his] fears,” the “afflicted” prophet “prayed for death, saying, ‘This is enough, O Lord! Take my life.’” But “from all his distress [God] saved him,” for an “angel of the Lord… touched him, and ordered, ‘Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!’” And Elijah “got up, ate, and drank” the food and water the Lord provided, and made it safely to the mountain where the Lord God would speak to him.
“This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.” All strength and blessing come from the Lord through His only Son. And being drawn to Him and so discovering the Father of all, what can our faces be but “radiant with joy,” the joy of His eternal, loving presence? Let us come this day to the holy mountain of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you give us the flesh of your Son
that we might live,
and you send your angels to guard us.
YHWH, your Son has given His flesh as a sacrificial offering that we might eat of this Bread and be strengthened for our journey to eternal life on your holy mountain. Help us to walk with you, to walk with Him as your beloved children, your angel at our side, your Holy Spirit within us to bless us and keep us faithful to you until the Day of redemption is fulfilled. O let us be taught by you! Let us come to your Son and be fed with His Body and Blood, with the Word He is, offered for our salvation.
Why should we murmur among ourselves, dearest LORD? Why should we doubt and fear your presence among us and your care for us? Why do we court death in our despair? You are near! You hear the afflicted man when he calls out – you have delivered us from death by sending us your Son. Let us glory in the gift you give us. Let us taste your goodness this day.
Fri, 6 August 2021
O reformer of the Church
and leader of her priests and people,
calling all to live the Gospel,
to give their hearts
in the service of Christ,
who alone can save men’s souls –
pray that your love for the Lord
and His holy Church
will be known in all
the members of His Body,
and so that apostles will be sent forth
to preach and to heal
even this day.
Pray we shall be one
with Him who made us,
eating His Body and drinking His Blood
and living according to the Word
He speaks to our souls
and all her faithful servants.
It is the Lord alone
who must be our concern;
pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Fri, 6 August 2021
O martyrs of the faith
ordained by the Lord
to shed blood for His sake
and the sake of His Church,
to give witness to the glory of Christ
and so win the crown
of eternal life…
it is in your blood
and by your sacrifice
the Church has grown
and become strong –
pray it shall always stand firm
in confessing the faith
despite any threat
from the powers of this world;
pray every soul
shall give his life in joy
and so emerge victorious
in the spiritual combat.
Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake,
may we, too, come to life eternal.
Fri, 6 August 2021
(Dt.6:4-13; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; Mt.17:14-20)
“Praised be the Lord, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.”
In our first reading we hear the Shema, the great Commandment of the Mosaic Law – the Lord is God and we must love Him with all our being. Moses exhorts the people “not to forget to the Lord,” who brought them out of slavery in the land of Egypt and is about to bless them abundantly in the Promised Land. Quite graphic is he, and are their practices, in encouraging remembrance of the Lord’s command. His words are to be drilled into the children, bound at wrists and on foreheads, and written “on the doorposts of… houses and on… gates.” And David’s psalm mightily extols the love we should have for our Lord: “My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!” the great king of the Israelites exclaims in his overflowing praise for his saving Lord, in whom he finds his strength. Indeed, the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is our life and our salvation.
And it is the faith at the heart of our praise of God which saves us from our enemies, which redeems us from our sins. Jesus demonstrates this clearly in our gospel today. “What an unbelieving and perverse lot you are!” the Lord declares in chastisement of His disciples and all those who would seek His graces, His healing, for they have not the faith to rescue the possessed boy from the grip of the devil. Where is their praise of the Lord’s Name? Where is their surpassing love of Him? How is it their belief in the Lord’s power to deliver from the bonds of slavery has been so easily shaken? Is it not “the Lord alone” who is God? “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.” Let these words be inscribed upon our hearts, that we will never forget the abundant glory of God which we possess by our faith in Him.
Glorious are you, O Lord, beyond all creatures, beyond all existence! Far above us do you sit, and yet how close to our hearts do you remain. There is none who compares with you; there is nothing in the heavens or on earth greater than you, for you have created all that is. Strengthen our failing love, let it match the glory of your presence, that we might be delivered from all sin and conquer all evil in your divine Name. Give us faith and trust in you, and we will praise you forever. Safe from our enemies, we will glory always in your everlasting love.
O LORD, let us praise your NAME
and so find safety from all our enemies.
YHWH, give us the grace to love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, you who alone are God, you who alone are good. It is you alone who care for us, who provide for our every need. May your blessing remain upon us as we praise your holy NAME.
Where shall we find faith, O LORD, even the size of a mustard seed, we who are such a perverse and unbelieving lot? How can we learn to trust in you and in your power to do all – and to do all through us weak vessels. It is you alone who have all power; by your Word the entire universe came to be and is sustained…. Help us to take refuge in that Word and not in the world of passing things.
We love you, LORD, our Rock, our shield, the sword of our salvation! But we are indeed weak and forgetful souls in need of healing. Increase our faith in you and in your Son, that we might serve you alone.
Thu, 5 August 2021
(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19;
Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36
Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,
they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)
“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.
The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”
So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice. If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes. He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe. After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.
“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.” What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come. It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts. He comes now on the clouds of heaven.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, how great is your power,
how bright your light,
and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes.
YHWH, how great is your Majesty! How wonderful your glory! How brightly does your light shine! You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.
And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty? Is He not your very image, O God? And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?
How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice! O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.
Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.
Wed, 4 August 2021
(Nm.20:1-13; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Mt.16:13-23)
“‘You are the Messiah,’ Simon Peter answered,
‘the Son of the Living God!’”
With this response, because of this faith come from the “heavenly Father,” Jesus declares to Peter, “You are ‘Rock’, and on this rock I will build my Church.” He entrusts to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with power to bind and loose. As from the rock Moses struck, “water gushed out in abundance for the community… to drink,” so through Peter and the Church Christ has founded we are nourished by the sacraments and true teaching. So the Son of the Living God is with us.
“Let us acclaim the Rock of our Salvation… Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.” By the hand of Peter the Lord guides the Church born of His blood. Indeed, as Moses led the Israelites through the desert, so Peter leads us now to the gates of heaven. Let us declare our faith with him; let us echo his words to the Lord, giving Him due praise and “joyfully sing[ing] psalms to Him.” He is our God, He is our Savior, and in this Rock we take refuge.
But let us remember, too, not to judge “by man’s standards but by God’s.” His ways are not our ways, as both great leaders had to learn. It seems to our human minds unfair that Moses should be deemed unfit to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land; it is they, after all, who continually tempted him with their grumbling, plotting even to take his life. And why is the Lord so harsh toward Peter, even calling him “Satan”? He is only concerned for Jesus’ life, is he not? The Lord does not judge as we judge. He wishes to teach Moses to deepen his love and concern for the people, that anger is never justified in the care of those in one’s charge – the Lord does not act in the rashness of anger and anxiety, and neither should we. And to Peter He must show the necessity of the sacrifice of this life, that we must be “put to death” to be “raised up on the third day” – it is the laying down of this life which brings glory.
Really, in both cases the Lord is calling His leaders to lay down their lives for the people, to do as He does and take the people’s sins upon themselves. And this is, of course, the call of us all – to be like Him, to join with our Savior, the Son of the Living God, in His sacrifice. What is more against the standards of man than the cross of Christ, as Paul has told us elsewhere, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Cor.1:23) – and yet the source of our salvation. For to come to the Living God we proclaim as our own, this world and its passions must be left behind. The Father dwells in highest heaven and His ways must become our own. Take refuge now in the Rock of Christ and in His Church; this shall lead you to His presence.
O LORD, your ways are so far above our own,
and how shall we attain to them,
except by faith and the grace that comes to us
through your holy Church?
YHWH, how could we even begin to put you to the test? How could we be so foolish as to ask you any question, as to doubt your goodness toward us, your presence among us? What of this world should lead us to such blindness to your love? Should we not be ready even to die for you?
It is you who have the power and grace to put us to the test, and so your Son asks, “Who do you say that I AM?” Do we really believe He is the Messiah? Do we really believe you have sent Him to us to die for our sins that we might be raised up with Him? Or do we indeed doubt the greatness of your love? O LORD, help us to judge as you judge, to see as you see, and so to know your glory.
It is not in this desert we shall find our home; it is not the food of this world that is our fare. It is to Heaven we must come, and in your Church we shall find a way there. Help us, O LORD, to show forth your sanctity, to join in the sacrifice of your Son and worship Him alone.
Tue, 3 August 2021
O priest exemplar,
O preacher and confessor extraordinaire,
healer of souls
who by prayer and penance
was made holy unto God
and brought others
to that same holiness
before the Lord and Maker
of all poor souls –
pray indeed this day
that our hearts will be set on Heaven,
that our longing will be for the Lord,
and so that by prayer
we shall come to union with Him.
Pray all your fellow priests
will be filled with your same zeal
for the salvation of their flock
and so serve to bring them
to blessed union
with the God of all.
Pray the Lord send out holy priests
to labor in His vineyard
as diligently, as tirelessly, as you.
Tue, 3 August 2021
(Nm.13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35; Ps.106:4,6-7,13-14,21-23; Mt.15:21-28)
“They forgot the God who had saved them.”
But He did not forget them. Though He curses them in our first reading for their lack of faith, and though they shall indeed all – except for Joshua and Caleb – die in the desert over forty years, their children shall enter and take the Promised Land from the five tribes which inhabit it; and despite their repeated faltering in following His word, He shall come to redeem them from their exile once again, and in a full way, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Israelites grumbled against Moses and against God in the desert. Fearful at the report of the “giants” in the land they were called to seize as their own, they failed to remember the Giant who fought for them, “who had done great deeds in Egypt.” “They waited not for His counsel,” nor trusted in His protection, and so they dissembled at what their eyes saw and their ears heard, having not the heart of faith, remembering not the word of the Lord. The people of the land may have been giants, but the Lord towers over all the earth. We must always remember His surpassing power.
And in our gospel we find one of the descendants of those who had made the Israelites so fearful to enter the Promised Land groveling at the feet of the Lord, this Son of David, indeed as a dog before its master. How fortunes have changed. Jesus says to this Canaanite woman, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” See God’s love for His people. See how He has kept the word of His covenant not to forget them. See how He yet chooses them from among the nations, sending His Son in the flesh as one of them. And yet, shall they recognize the grace that walks amongst them? Will their hearts be open to accept Him now, or hardened to His call and blind to His presence will they remain?
This question is asked of each one of us, brothers and sisters, for we are the spiritual descendants of the Israelite people. Will we remember Him and His Word amongst us? Do we recall all He has done for us? This Canaanite woman who begs crumbs from the Lord’s table is greatly blessed. She has the faith required for the kingdom of heaven. Again in Scripture it is a Gentile, a foreigner, who exhibits the faith the “sons and daughters” should have. The Lord uses such as these to shame His chosen ones and show them how far His love does spread, how great His grace truly is – that it can capture even these giants in its net. And so, should it not capture the Jew? And so, should we not be taken in it as well? Now that His salvation has extended to the ends of the earth, shall His chosen be forgotten? Will they continue to forget their place in His land? I pray it shall not be so for you and I, brothers and sisters, but that we will always remember His Name.
O LORD, if only we had faith!
we would never be afraid –
we would certainly be saved.
YHWH, why are we so forgetful of you and your power to save? Why are we who know you, who have seen your hand at work, who have been blessed by your abiding presence – why are we so blind to your unending love for our poor souls? Those who do not know you, who are so far away from you, come on their knees before your Son begging His grace and forgiveness, begging His blessed protection… and these receive answer to their prayers, even as those of your own household wither and die in the hardness of their hearts, in their lack of faith.
Forgive us, LORD, our crimes against you; let us not die in this desert of sin. Send your Chosen One to help us, to save us from the condemnation we deserve for our wicked ways. We are as mere grasshoppers before you, O Giant! Have pity on your faithless sons and gather us into the land you have promised.
Mon, 2 August 2021
(Nm.12:1-13; Ps.51:3-7,12-13; Mt.14:22-36)
“The presence of the Lord he beholds.”
Throughout the history of salvation, the Lord chooses one man to lead His people. In the Old Testament times, this was Moses; in the New Testament times, it is Peter. Though it is always the Lord Himself who guides and teaches, He ever puts His Spirit upon one particular man to act in His stead. Those who do not follow the Lord and the way He sets forth, who act in presumption against His will and His chosen, are cast from His presence, are stricken by His hand as is Miriam.
“Throughout my house he bears my trust,” the Lord says of Moses His servant, “the meekest man on the face of the earth.” “Face to face I speak to him,” the Lord assures us; and is it not so with Peter as well? It is Peter alone who steps forward to walk upon the storm-tossed sea to the Lord; it is Peter that Jesus will instruct to “feed [His] sheep.” He is given the keys to the kingdom. He is the peg set firmly in place. And is it not dissension against the place given this first of the apostles that causes so much disturbance in the Church? Is it not the presumption of Aaron and Miriam, gifted in themselves but not as Moses, which remains with us today and creates the division which ails the people of God? We should cry out for mercy from the Lord for our sins against Him, for it is against Him we sin when we do not follow His appointed ones. We should beg with David, “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”
I beg you to notice, my brothers and sisters, especially those separated from the Church and its hierarchy, to whom Aaron, the first of priests, makes his plea for forgiveness and healing. Hear his words: “Ah my lord!” he said to Moses, “please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed!” And Moses intercedes with the Lord, and Miriam finds healing. And yet do you deny that God gives man authority on earth to intercede with Him for the forgiveness of sins? And yet do you doubt that the Lord places His Spirit on a man and calls him to serve as Moses? All may be priests but not all are chosen to lead; the Lord’s is a church of order and not presumption. One there is who beholds His presence, and through Him we know the Lord.
May the Lord catch us and lead us into His boat, for we do falter in our faith and find great difficulty fighting the winds which beset the barque of Peter… O Lord, be with us! Hold not our sins against us! “A steadfast spirit renew within me,” may we all cry, and so find forgiveness for our offenses against you, Lord, and against your holy ones. May we all enter your presence and serve you.
O LORD, only as a child will we enter Heaven,
for only as a child can we stand in your presence.
YHWH, make us humble and innocent as little children that you might lead us by your mighty hand into the land you promise all your lowly ones. How shall we behold your face if we are not obedient to you, if we do not seek your glory by humbly doing your will? Bless your people with your presence.
Send us leaders, LORD, to guide us to your kingdom, to shepherd us to your holy mountain. Your power be upon those you send to stand in the place of your only Son, that all might find salvation. Help us to have faith in you, to know that as you have been with us until this day, so forever you will remain, destroying our enemies before us, setting us free from all sin.
Let none of your children be lost, dear LORD, but come quickly to their heritage in you. O let us be brave and steadfast! remembering ever it is you who go before us.
Sun, 1 August 2021
O priest of the Blessed Sacrament,
you gave your life in sacrifice
at the altar of the Lord
and in all the trials of this earth;
you suffered all for Jesus
and desired only to bring souls,
all the children of God,
to receive Him and His grace
in the Sacrament of Communion,
in oneness with our Lord –
pray, O priest of Christ,
that our very lives
shall also be offered in sacrifice,
especially in the holy sacrifice
of the Mass
and in reception of His Body and Blood
in the Blessed Sacrament.
Pray particularly that our priests will know
the profound call upon their souls
to make Him present in this world
and be as inspired with holy devotion
as were you, dear saint.
Pray our hunger for His Presence increase.
Sun, 1 August 2021
O vigorous defender of the divinity of Christ,
you who suffered exile
for your work for the faith,
you who had a true shepherd’s heart
and cared so deeply
for the priests and people
the Lord placed in your hands –
pray the shepherds of the Church today
will strive with your same selfless zeal
to bring the love of the Son of God
and the blessed demands of His call
to every soul in their care,
that the faith might increase
and be known in all its fullness
even to the ends of the earth.
Pray and weep, O steadfast apostle,
for all the members of Christ’s holy flock,
that we shall be protected
from false and specious claims,
from wolves in sheep’s clothing
who would enter and steal the faith
of this holy Catholic Church
founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sun, 1 August 2021
(Nm.11:4-15; Ps.81:2,12-17; Mt.14:13-21)
“Israel I would feed with the best of wheat.”
But the best of wheat they despise, and seek to satiate their appetite with meat. The blessed food from heaven, come from the hand of God, the Israelites soon grow tired of as they travel through the desert. Their stomachs cry out for earthly flesh. As our psalm tells us, the people “heard not” the voice of God but preferred “their own counsels,” so He “gave them up to the hardness of their hearts.” He will give them the meat they desire, and it will bring plague upon them for their lusts against God.
Yet the Lord ever continues to call His people, and in the presence of Jesus that call is fulfilled. In our gospel we see Jesus taking it upon Himself to feed the hungry masses, caring for their needs, and though some will seek to follow Him just to feed their bellies, others will recognize in His feeding of the five thousand the blessing of God’s providence and His loving care for His children; and their hearts will be open to partake of the spiritual food, the Body and Blood of Christ, which shall be offered forth at the table of the Lord after His death and resurrection. The sacrificial love of Jesus Christ will thus become their own as they unite with Him in flesh and blood, in word and deed – in partaking of the best of wheat. He is the food that sustains us.
The fragments left us in the twelve baskets come down to us this day through His twelve apostles and the Church founded by them in His Name. The fragments we find upon our altar today as our priest prays the blessing over them. And we are fed. And we have life. And we are kept from grumbling against the Lord for all that is not ours in this world, and all the vain things our hearts would otherwise desire… and we endure any suffering that comes to us on our pilgrimage to His Promised Land by the grace of the food offered forth through His holy sacrifice. And we thus become like Him.
If there were no food upon our table, if this sacrifice upon our altars were not the Body and Blood of Christ – if His presence were not real in this best of wheat, this holy manna – we would faint in the desert of this world and be consumed by our own lusts. But as it is the Lord provides the nourishment we need, and body and soul are kept alive even unto paradise.
Eat His Body and drink His Blood, brothers and sisters,
and you shall live in His paradise.
O LORD, let us not complain against your providence;
may we never harden our hearts
but come to your table and eat.
YHWH, how can we complain against you and your providence? Do we not see the food you give us to eat and the blessing it is for our lives? Why do we so easily harden our hearts?
And what does such rebelliousness do but cause us to be separated from you? What does it bring but our own death? To us you give even the flesh of your Son to eat, and yet we turn away from this finest of wheat. O LORD, what hope is there for souls as blind as we?
Your Son takes pity on our plight. He looks on us with healing grace. No need of ours would He leave unmet; yet will we come to His table to eat? O LORD, in His hands let us find our home! Let us trust in His blessing of our lives. Let us not be a burden to Him or His apostles, but join them in carrying your Bread to the world.