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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, help us to believe

and so turn to your Son to be saved.

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

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

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

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

(1Sm.3:3b-10,19;   Ps.40:2,4,7-10;   1Cor.6:13c-15a,17-20;   Jn.1:35-42) 

“The Lord came and revealed His presence,

calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’” 

The call of Samuel, the call of Peter and his brother(s), and the call of us all to “glorify God in [our] body.”  As “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord” when the Lord called to him, so we must all have the Holy Spirit within ourselves, we must each “know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” if we are to hear and answer the call of God.  As the disciples were so set upon finding the Christ, so our hearts, too, must be set upon Him, if we are to hear the words, “We have found the Messiah.”  He lives, brothers and sisters, and in His Temple He dwells.  And each of us He would make His temple; each of us He calls to be His disciple this day.  Listen for His voice, and go as you are led.

Samuel was but a boy when he was called, and with the pure obedience of a child he responded to God’s voice.  Blessed was he to live with the high priest in the Lord’s temple, a forerunner of Christ in his living with the Lord from his youth, in his dedication to God and His will.  But now the Temple that is Jesus has come into the world, and makes His home with any so inclined, any who would take their rest at this holy Tabernacle of God.  He comes indeed now to make His home with us, even in the Sacrament He offers each day.  And do we respond as the boy Samuel?

“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’”; and so the two disciples find themselves called, and so they follow the Lord: “they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with Him that day.”  And one called his brother first to the Lord; and so Peter, the rock of the Church, comes to Christ… and so are all gathered unto the Lord.  And John still points to Jesus to this day, and Peter is still the rock of His teaching and the minister of His Body – and we are all now joined to them.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” brothers and sisters.  Do you not understand that you are called to a holiness that equals His own?  This you should know, this you should understand – His call you should hear ringing in your ear.  And “with ears open to obedience” you should answer, “Here I am,” and become one with the Blessed Lamb, pure as the flesh of His sacrifice.

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

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

*******  

O LORD, help us to abandon sin

and all things of this world

that we might follow your Son to Heaven.

YHWH, help us to turn from our sins that we might find you.  Help us to leave this world behind that we might walk with your Son to the kingdom.  This world is passing away; let us not pass with it but come to your presence on high.

O LORD, you show sinners the way to you.  You instruct us in your mercy to repent and believe in the Gospel your Son brings to us.  As He calls to our souls, let us be humble and obedient to His Word, that like the Ninevites we shall be spared, that like Peter and Andrew and James and John we shall abandon our moorings to follow Him, and so enter into your kingdom.

Heaven awaits us, O LORD, by your grace.  You send your Son to call us there.  But we are attached to so many things of this earth and need your help to find the strength to leave them all behind.  O let our hearts be open to fully receive the goodness you would share with us!

Direct download: BC--012212-Su_OT_3_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Sm.3:3b-10,19;   Ps.40:2,4,7-10;   1Cor.6:13c-15a,17-20;   Jn.1:35-42) 

“The Lord came and revealed His presence,

calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’” 

The call of Samuel, the call of Peter and his brother(s), and the call of us all to “glorify God in [our] body.”  As “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord” when the Lord called to him, so we must all have the Holy Spirit within ourselves, we must each “know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” if we are to hear and answer the call of God.  As the disciples were so set upon finding the Christ, so our hearts, too, must be set upon Him, if we are to hear the words, “We have found the Messiah.”  He lives, brothers and sisters, and in His Temple He dwells.  And each of us He would make His temple; each of us He calls to be His disciple this day.  Listen for His voice, and go as you are led.

Samuel was but a boy when he was called, and with the pure obedience of a child he responded to God’s voice.  Blessed was he to live with the high priest in the Lord’s temple, a forerunner of Christ in his living with the Lord from his youth, in his dedication to God and His will.  But now the Temple that is Jesus has come into the world, and makes His home with any so inclined, any who would take their rest at this holy Tabernacle of God.  He comes indeed now to make His home with us, even in the Sacrament He offers each day.  And do we respond as the boy Samuel?

“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’”; and so the two disciples find themselves called, and so they follow the Lord: “they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with Him that day.”  And one called his brother first to the Lord; and so Peter, the rock of the Church, comes to Christ… and so are all gathered unto the Lord.  And John still points to Jesus to this day, and Peter is still the rock of His teaching and the minister of His Body – and we are all now joined to them.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” brothers and sisters.  Do you not understand that you are called to a holiness that equals His own?  This you should know, this you should understand – His call you should hear ringing in your ear.  And “with ears open to obedience” you should answer, “Here I am,” and become one with the Blessed Lamb, pure as the flesh of His sacrifice.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let the Church be as the Body of your Son,

the Temple of the Holy Spirit. 

YHWH, you call us all to enter your Temple, to be as your tabernacles in this world, holy and true to your Word, to your call to our souls.  Help us to answer you readily, to become as temples of the Holy Spirit, built firmly into your House, the Church.

O LORD, our own bodies you would make temples.  As your Son you call us to be.  And obedient to your Word we shall indeed become as He; offering our lives in union with His, your Law shall be written upon our hearts and we shall be as your sons.

Humble as the child Samuel, simple and pure in our understanding of your presence – in perfect innocence let us come to you, LORD, and all we do shall be blessed.  And we will grow in holiness before you; and we will rest always with you.  Your Son has purchased us at the cost of His life…  Let us glorify you in all we think, say, and do, and we will be a worthy Temple.

Direct download: BC-011512-Su_OT_2_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.55:1-11;   Is.12:1-6;   1Jn.5:1-9;   Mk.1:7-11) 

“A voice came from the heavens,

‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” 

Brothers and sisters, God “has testified on behalf of His Son.”  With His own voice and by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood,” He has borne witness that Jesus is the Christ.  And should we not believe and so conquer the world?

To the waters Jesus comes, and by His baptism makes them holy, that we in turn might be made holy by our baptism in them.  Upon Him the Spirit descends like a dove, that new life might be breathed into our souls.  And for our sake He will be crucified, that in His blood we may be redeemed.  All speaks of our salvation!  The water, the Spirit, and the blood – and all He is and does – give credence to the declaration from the mouth of the Father that this is His Son, and that we shall find life in Him alone.  The Baptist has been sent to prepare the way before Him, proclaiming, “One mightier than I is coming after me.”  Let us “listen, that [we] may have life.”

Do your souls not desire the food from heaven?  Are you not “thirsty,” are you not hungry for the bread of Truth?  Listen to the Lord, “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.”  For though high are His “ways above your ways” and His “thoughts above your thoughts,” though this food is well beyond your grasp, yet as “from the heavens rain and snow come down” and nourish the earth, so does the Spirit descend upon us, so do the waters of baptism nourish our faith – so does the blood of His sacrifice become our spiritual drink and His body our spiritual food.  And so we become “confident and unafraid.”  And so by our faith we do conquer the world.

Brothers and sisters, “the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” “is begotten of God,” for he becomes a son even as He is.  And what power has the earth over Him who created it?  And so what can stand before such faith?  And nourished by this faith what can we do but love, as our God who is but love?  To believe in Him is to love Him and to love Him means to love others; for faith in God who has always been brings love of those who are with us now, and so hope for heaven which is to come.  This is the will of God for our souls this day.  This is the life into which He would baptize our race.  So, let us “sing praise to God for His glorious achievement” as we cleanse ourselves in the water His Son makes pure.

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

Music is "Not as This World Gives" by Carie Fortney; used by permission. 

*******

O LORD, your beloved Son is in our midst;

let us believe in Him that we might find our way to you. 

YHWH, your Word has come down from the heavens and watered the earth; your Son has come to save us.  And so we may now draw water from this fountain of salvation – we may be baptized in Him and in His blood.  Speak to us this day by the power of the Spirit of the blessing that is ours by faith in your Christ.

O LORD, we may conquer the world and ourselves if we but believe in Jesus.  Though you are far above our thoughts and our ways, you are brought near to us by the presence of your beloved Son in our midst this day.  Let us listen to Him and His apostles and prophets, that we may no longer live our lives in vain but be confident and unafraid in the joy of our Savior.

O LORD, let us be begotten by you even as your Son.  Let your Spirit descend upon us, too, as we rise from the waters of Baptism He has made pure.  Make us fertile and fruitful in Jesus, that we might ever partake of His Body and Blood.

Direct download: Baptism_of_the_Lord_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

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

 

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us by your light

to lay down our lives before you.

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

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

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

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

 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen,

just as it had been told to them.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, what blessing is upon us

this Christmas day! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

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

make us innocent as these children. 

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

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

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

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

(Gn.15:1-6,21:1-3;   Ps.105:1-9;   Heb.11:8,11-12,17-19;   Lk.2:22-40)

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,

and the favor of God was upon Him.” 

What child is this of whom Simeon the prophet, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares to the Lord, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all peoples,” even as he holds Jesus in his arms?  This indeed is He who is the “light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for [His] people Israel”; this indeed is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, foreshadowed in the birth of Isaac, by whom Abraham’s descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.”  “Binding for a thousand generations,” forever, was the covenant the Lord “entered into with Abraham and by His oath to Isaac,” and now that covenant is brought to perfection in the sight of Simeon and Anna; now “all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” could rejoice and “give thanks to the Lord,” for to the temple had come the Christ of God: here is the Messiah.

“Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” for in Jesus His Son you shall find Him.  Though raised in a humble family in the town of Nazareth, this is He who raises all His chosen unto heaven, who brings salvation to His people.  And so rejoice indeed “you descendants of Abraham, His servants, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” for even as “there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead,” innumerable descendants, even as the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham by the birth of Isaac, so the Lord’s promise to Simeon “that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord” is fulfilled in all our midst even this day.  Listen to the prophet’s proclamation: the light has come!  We are no longer in darkness, no longer in mournful anticipation.  And so with Anna we should come forward now and speak “about the child” to all who will listen, to all who long to hear the good news of God.

Brothers and sisters, let the Lord grow in our midst.  In this Holy Family that is His Church let Him be nurtured and known.  For God’s favor rests upon Him alone and by no other child does salvation come.  Today He is presented to all waiting hearts.

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

Music by Abouna Joseph; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled

in the lives of all your children –

let our eyes see your salvation.

YHWH, your Word you fulfill in our midst for you are faithful.  Your Christ you send among us to save us from our sins that we might be as your children forever.  Let us enter your generation, LORD, and be of your Holy Family.

Your Son has become our brother and so we know you as our Father, LORD.  Your promise is fulfilled and He now dwells among us – and so you, too, are with us.  From the womb of the Virgin Mary is born a Child with whom we grow into your holy image; we are made pure as she by the grace upon her Son.

In Nazareth let us make our home, O LORD, with Jesus and Mary and Joseph; then our home in Heaven will be secure and even here we will have your blessing.  Though a sword must pierce our heart as it has with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all your saints, yet we shall rejoice in your goodness toward us, that you make us fruitful with Abraham as children of a living faith.  Let us become strong and wise in your sight.

Direct download: Holy_Family_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

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

“They proved no match for the wisdom and spirit

with which he spoke.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, by your power we escape death

and find your glory. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

*******

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

and so let us offer you due praise.

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

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

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

Direct download: Christmas_Day_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

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

 

“Today in the city of David 

a savior has been born for you

who is Christ and Lord.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

and so let us offer you due praise. 

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

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

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

Direct download: Midnight_Mass_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Sm.7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29;   Rom.16:25-27;   Lk.1:26-28) 

“The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father.” 

“I have made a covenant with David my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations.”  Here is the promise made to King David.  Upon his seeking to build a house for the Lord, “the Lord… reveals to [David] that He will establish a house for [him].”  Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord declares to His humble servant: “When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm.”  This would seem like all the world to refer to the great King Solomon, but it does not.  For, like the earth itself, Solomon and all his gold – and even “the rest from all [his] enemies,” the peace the Lord establishes under his reign – will pass away; they cannot “endure forever” and neither can such a kingdom.  The prophet speaks of a kingdom established in heaven (where all by nature endures forever), not one of the earth.

And so it is not Solomon of whom the prophet and the psalmist speak, but Jesus, He whose coming is hailed today by the angel’s words to the Blessed Virgin: “He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  For Abraham has died and Jacob has died and David has died and Solomon has died… and their graves are with us to this day.  But Jesus, Jesus lives; Jesus lives forever at the right hand of His Father.

It is indeed Jesus who most truly says to the Lord God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock.”  It is He who is His only Son: it is He who is God Himself, one in being with the Father.  This is “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings”; this is “the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith”: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the only Son – and we must worship Him.

Come now, brothers and sisters, to this Child Mary bears by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Him your peace shall be established in the Father’s kingdom.  Come to His holy throne, enter into His eternal reign… and with His humble king, and with His humble Mother, you shall be blessed forever.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let the Mother of our Lord come to us, too,

that new life may stir in us as well.

YHWH, blessed is the womb of Bethlehem, of Israel, of Mary the Mother of your Son.  For in her you have prepared a body, the body of Jesus, the Word made flesh, that shall be as offering for our sins.  In Him we are saved, for in Him your majesty reigns, and so your glory is now in our midst.

O let us leap like John the Baptist at the approach of your Son and His Mother!  Bring to life what has remained dormant for such a long time.  Arouse within us the joy of new life that we might be stirred to proclaim your glory.  He has come who shall shepherd us, LORD; let us be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The sacrifices of old now pass away as all prophecy is fulfilled in the flesh of your only Son.  And so we pray, let your will be done.  Let your greatness reach to the ends of the earth and your peace reign in every heart by the power upon Jesus the Christ.  O LORD, let us be consecrated to you in His holy offering.

Direct download: BC-121811-Su_4_Adv._B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.61:1-2,10-11;   Lk.1:46-50,53-54;   1Thes.5:16-24;   Jn.1:6-8,19-28)

 

“A man named John was sent from God.”

 

Here is the one of whom the prophet speaks, and who can rightly proclaim the words inscribed by Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.”  Here is he who has come “to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.”  The Spirit is upon him and he speaks of the coming Messiah.  He has been sent by God to “testify to the light.”

But who heeds his proclamation?  Who is able to hear this voice crying and find the joy of the path it would blaze in their hearts?  How many are still as the priests and Levites and Pharisees of today’s gospel, inquiring so blindly, “Who are you”?  How many are as the commentators of the missal I read, who term the prophecy of Isaiah a “poem,” and state that the Canticle of Mary is “a song that Luke put into the mouth of Mary”?  How many have no sense of prophecy, or the Spirit, or God Himself?  How many are deaf to John’s cry?

Our brother Paul instructs us: “Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophetic utterances.”  And yet the greatest of all prophetic utterances are watered down in ankle-deep wisdom.  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” Mary declares.  The Spirit wells up in her spirit and she cannot but “rejoice in God [her] Savior.”  These are not words put into her mouth by any man; her prophecy does not come from the pen of a scribe but from the very Spirit of God!

The Word of God cannot be chained; the voice “crying out in the desert” cannot be tamed by those “not worthy to untie” the mysteries hidden in sacred Scripture.  Paul will be put under house arrest; the Baptist Herod will cast into his dungeon; the Christ shall be crucified – but the Word of God will go forth, and nothing shall silence its voice.  The testimony to the light must be heard, “so that all might believe through Him”; there will ever be proclaimed “liberty to captives and release to the prisoners” by the power of Jesus Christ, until all hear of the mercy He has “on those who fear Him.”  

A man named John was sent, not to testify to himself, but to prophesy the grace of God; and his voice will cry out the way to the ends of the earth and to the end of time.

 

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

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

*******

O LORD, your Son is coming

and we should repent of all sin

that we might be ready to rejoice and give Him praise. 

YHWH, the fire of the Spirit has come to us; John has proclaimed the light in our midst.  Jesus, your Son, is now among us, and what should we do but rejoice?

O LORD God, holy is your NAME, and holy is the One whom you send to us.  So holy is He that we are not worthy to kneel at His feet.  For He reflects your greatness, O LORD; His light is your own.  How can we stand in your overwhelming glory, except that in Him we receive your promised mercy in our soul?

What mercy you bring us this day, LORD God!  What grace is ours in the word the Baptist speaks.  For he proclaims the Christ come among us – he proclaims the salvation of your lowly ones.

We are but your servants, LORD, unworthy to wait on your only Son.  Yet you bless us with your loving mercy and invite us to perfection in Him.  And so, what can we do but rejoice?

Direct download: BC-121111-Su_3_Adv._B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Zec. 2:14-17;   Lk.1:46-55;   Lk.1:29-47)

“Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!

for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling.”

And His own stirring forth causes John the Baptist to stir forth, to “leap for joy” – thus is opened the mouth of the one who will proclaim His way.

On this the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we celebrate the Lord’s stirring forth in astounding fashion in the Americas.  As the Lord looked upon His humble servant Mary to bring forth the only Son of God, so He smiles upon the humble Juan Diego, to bring the conversion of a continent.  His Mother comes humble and with child to bring new birth to a land in darkness…  And how that land sits in darkness now, awaiting renewal by the graces from His hand. 

“He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness” once, and again; let us pray a humble spirit He shall once more find in this place and on this earth, that indeed “the hungry shall be filled with good things,” that He who has “lifted up the lowly” will remember them now that they are trodden down, now that the most humble are destroyed in the womb.

“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.”  And many have.  But how sincere is their commitment to Him?  Are they truly “His people,” and so will “He dwell among” them?  Have we cause to “sing and rejoice,” to be as she who “proclaims the greatness of the Lord” – or to cry tears of sorrow for the land to which we have come?  For the womb is barren; the spirits are proud – and in these the Lord takes no joy.

Silence before Him we must find once again, that He might turn to us and bring new birth to this land.

“Stir forth, O Lord, from your holy dwelling,”

     and renew our languishing souls.

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

Music by Roger and Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, may our hearts stir to life

at the sound of Mary’s voice,

at the approach of your Son. 

YHWH, you sent the Mother of your Son to a land in darkness, to a barren place, that the people might be converted to the faith, that the blood upon their hands might be washed away.  May she come again to this continent and this world that unholy sacrifice might again be stopped by her humble presence.  O LORD, bring us new life!

LORD, we would rejoice in you and in your presence in our midst.  We would see all the nations gathered into your arms.  But how can you come to a place that despises life, that kills its children in the womb?  Have pity on us, dear LORD, and send Mother Mary to prepare the second coming of your Son.

The Baptist awoke and leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary brought his Savior to him.  O let us awake this day, dear God, awake from our slumber in such darkness and come into the light of your day.  Let us be humble and lowly as she who bore your Son, and we shall be lifted with her to your side.  Save us, O LORD our God.

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

(Gn.3:9-15,20;   Ps.98:1-4;   Eph.1:3-6,11-12;   Lk.1:26-38)

 

“He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world,

to be holy and without blemish before Him.”

 

And she is the sign of such preservation from evil.

 “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.”  And so the Virgin Mother is greeted by the power of the Most High.  So she is called – “full of grace” is her title.  She whom all generations will call blessed is revealed in this simple greeting as having “found favor with God.”  And so, “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God,” the Son of her who has been preserved by grace.

“In accord with the favor of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace,” this has been done – she has been immaculately conceived, kept from the stain of sin.  Not that she herself might be worshiped is the Virgin kept pure, but indeed she does “exist for the praise of His glory.”  “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she has proclaimed… and it is so.  She is but the sign that “His right hand has won victory for Him”; she is the instrument through which “the Lord has made His salvation known.”

How wonderfully this is expressed in her own words of consent to His call: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Here in this blessed obedience she sets in motion the cleansing of our sin of disobedience she shall bring by the fruit of her womb, a disobedience painfully recounted for us in our first reading – a disobedience which has caused us to hide from the face of God.  But no longer will we be trapped in this hell.  No more will we flee from the presence of Him who is our Creator, for by her humble obedience, and our own, in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will have our nakedness covered over and become holy as He.

The Virgin is our Mother.  She who has “no relations with a man” has brought about the salvation of all men “in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His will.”  And so the curse is removed from us.  And so we might “sing joyfully to the Lord,” for “in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice”; through this simple virgin He has brought us His grace.  And now we may be pure as He.

 

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

Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, the serpent comes to Eve, and we fall;

the angel comes to Mary, and we rise –

in selfish disobedience we do the devil’s work;

in selfless obedience we serve you…

O let us be your children! 

YHWH, full of grace is the Mother of your Son; by your will you have made her pure that she might carry Him who is perfect into this world.  We praise you for your goodness to her, for it means goodness to us – it means our salvation has come!

With every spiritual blessing in the heavens you have showered us by your grace and mercy, O LORD, by the love you offer us in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.  And so we might stand holy and without blemish before you; and so we might be even as Mary our Mother, even as Jesus her Son.  O let us be incorporated into your glory, dear God!

Our sin has been grievous.  We have turned away from you.  Our disobedience has wrought your just punishment, LORD.  But salvation you bring to us this day by the word of the angel.  And so we praise you for your faithfulness in saving us; and so we offer our lives with Mary your handmaiden – in our lives let your Word be accomplished.

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

(Is.40:1-5,9-11;   Ps.85:9-14;   2Pt.3:8-14;   Mk.1:1-8)  

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;

he will prepare your way.” 

And so, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  And so comes “the voice of one crying out in the desert,” in the desert that is our fallen lives: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

Turn from your sins, brothers and sisters.  Repent.  It is the Lord’s will that “all should come to repentance,” that all should be “found without spot or blemish” on the day of His coming, on the day all “the elements will be dissolved with fire.”  With the fire of the Holy Spirit does the Lord Jesus come now to baptize, that what John has cleansed from our souls might be gone forever – that the new person we become by this baptism of water might be made complete, might become hardened and lasting in the furnace of His love.

God “proclaims peace to His people.  Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.”  Hear what His prophet says, for he cries “out at the top of [his] voice” that indeed all hearts might listen: “Here is your GOD!  Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm.”  Yes, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” and now the WORD is in our midst, walking amongst us as our shepherd and “leading the ewes with care.”  The “justice [that] shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps,” has come, and now the level highway that leads to His kingdom we must tread – there is no denying the road that is set before us.

Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, and Christ has come.  The Baptist has prepared His path, and He, the Son of God, has walked it.  And now we await His return in glory.  And “the Lord does not delay His promise”; His return is sure.  Already we see the “glory dwelling in our land.”  He waits for you to come now to Him.  In patience He looks for you to turn.  Turn to Him now in earnest; with all your soul cry out His Name.  “Jesus Christ the Son of God” dawns on the horizon.  Embrace His love; walk His sacred path.

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

Music: "Please Even Me Out" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may peace be proclaimed to your people

and we follow on your way of salvation. 

YHWH, let your Word be proclaimed to the ends of the earth that all hearts might be prepared for the return of your Son, for the Day when all the elements will be dissolved by fire and the thoughts and deeds of every soul revealed.

John the Baptist has come and prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus.  Now His disciples go forth, now the Gospel is cried out from the heights of Zion – now every man shall plainly see that you, O LORD, are God; and peace shall come to him who turns to your glory.

With fire let us be baptized today, LORD, with the fire of the Holy Spirit.  Washed clean from our sins let us now be perfected for life in your kingdom.  Let us not fear the coming Day but welcome it and hasten it by living uprightly before you.  In your patience you wait for us to turn from all sin and embrace your presence in our midst.  Let us make straight your way into our hearts.

Direct download: BC-120411-Su_2_Adv._B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

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

 

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

 

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us follow where the apostles lead,

for they follow in our Savior’s footsteps. 

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

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

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

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

(Is.63:16b-17,19b,64:2-7;   Ps.80:2-4,15-16,18-19;   1Cor.1:3-9;   Mk.13:33-37) 

“Would that you might meet us doing right,

that we were mindful of you in our ways!” 

“O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven, and see.”  “Rouse your power, and come to save us.”  Do not “let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden [not] our hearts so that we fear you not.”  We are your fruitful vine, but “we have all withered like leaves… for you have hidden your face from us and delivered us up to our guilt.  Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are the potter.”  “May your help be with the Man of your right hand.”  May we be formed in His image and so be pleasing to you.  May we be ready for His return, and our final meeting with you, our Lord and God.

Brothers and sisters, we must be as the Corinthians, among whom “the testimony of Christ was confirmed,” who “are not lacking in any spiritual gift as [they] wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  He travels now abroad in the kingdom of His Father, but He will return.  And He has indeed left us “each with his work”; all are gifted by God and called to bear fruit in the time that is ours now…  “May He not come suddenly and find [us] sleeping.”  When He “rend[s] the heavens and come[s] down, with the mountains quaking before [Him],” may we not be found quaking as well, having slipped into the slumber of sin, having been covered with this world’s darkness.  Rather, let Him meet us doing right at whatever hour He may come.  Let us constantly serve our God and “He will keep [us] firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”  In many ways does He indeed say it: “Be watchful!  Be alert!”  Keep your eyes open!  Stay awake!  Be ready!  But ever He tells us to remember that we are “called to fellowship with [the] Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  And as “God is faithful” so must we too be faithful to our call, giving witness always to the glory of our Lord.

Now is the time to turn from our sin and be formed in His image.  Let the prophet not say over us: “There is none who calls upon [His] name, who rouses himself to cling to [Him].”  Let us prepare ourselves for His coming by walking rightly in His ways. 

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

Music: "Warm Forehead" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us enter into fellowship with your Son,

becoming one with Him

and watching for His return.

YHWH, let us be mindful of our ways as we wait for the return of your Son.  May we be blessed with every spiritual gift as we watch for His coming. Though our good deeds have become as polluted rags, He makes them new, bringing us back to you.

Give us new life, O LORD, that we might call upon your NAME.  You are our Father, our God; let us no longer be separated from you and your glory.  We are the work of your hands, dear God – remake us in the image of your Son that when He comes we might stand with Him in your presence.

Make us irreproachable, LORD, by your grace, by your mercy, by your rending of the heavens and coming down to us.  Let us lack nothing for the hour of Jesus’ return but be ready to enter the kingdom.  May our eyes be open and our hearts awaiting our salvation.

Direct download: BC-112711-Su_1_Adv_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ez.34:11-12,15-17;   Ps.23:1-6;   1Cor.15:20-26,28;   Mt.25:31-46) 

“Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine,

you did for me.”

Jesus is King.  It is He to whom the Father has “subjected everything” and who “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet,” until He has “destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power”; and it is He who then “hands over the kingdom to His God and Father… that God may be all in all.”  Yes, “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon His glorious throne, and all the nations will assemble before Him.”  And He who is the Good Shepherd will separate the sheep beneath His rule “one from another”: it is He who will say to the righteous, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.  Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; and to the unrighteous, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  He will judge all souls, for all souls are in His hands.  Yes, He is King.

And yet this King is with His subjects; this Shepherd is hidden in His sheep – He is the Shepherd who “finds Himself among His scattered sheep.”  Indeed, in His power He promises to “pasture [His] sheep”: “The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal”… but more than this, more than this is our King to us.  For He is a King who not only serves the poor and broken, but who is the poor and broken Himself.  Though all power and glory and honor are with Him who is exalted as Head over all, He travels with the least of His children; He makes Himself one with the least of all creatures.  Does He not say, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me”?  Oh how He unites Himself with our humanity!  His love is beyond our comprehension.

And, brothers and sisters, it should be obvious what we are now called to do; if we wish to be “brought to life… each one in proper order,” following “Christ the firstfruits,” we must walk in His way.  If we wish to sing with David His humble king, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” – if indeed we desire to share in His eternal kingship, we must on the dust of this earth serve Him in the least among us… we ourselves must be the least, as He is.  Alleluia to our exalted King!

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

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

*******

O LORD, walk among us and shepherd us well

in the reign of your Son,

that we might love as you love. 

YHWH, how shall we come to dwell in your House forever?  How shall we be the sheep at your right hand?  Only by becoming as your only Son.  Only by making ourselves present among the least.  For you have a compassionate heart which reaches out to all in need.  You have hands that bind up the wounds of your little ones, that care for the hungry and the sick.  You prepare for all righteous souls a place in your kingdom, and your Son shows us how to be like you, that we might enter your presence.

O Jesus, O Lord, who reign above all as our Head, as our God, as the Savior of all righteous souls… how shall we love as you have loved; how shall we see you in the needs of our fellow man?  Blind we are and crawling in the dust – how shall we be exalted with you at the Father’s right hand?

It is by your walking amongst us, O Lord and King, that we are saved from all selfishness and find the compassion and humility we need to enter into the Father’s heart.  Give us the rest we desire, set us free from sin and death… raise us up to dwell with you as we make our lives like your own.

Direct download: BC-112011-Su_34_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Prv.31:10-13,19-20,30-31;   Ps.128:1-5;   1Thes.5:1-6;   Mt.25:14-30)

“When one finds a worthy wife,

her value is far beyond pearls.”

And so the Lord is pleased to bless His “good and faithful servant[s]”; for His Church is as His Bride and Her faithful members He invites to share His joy. 

With more than the talents of “a man going on a journey” are we entrusted by the Lord.  To us He is more like the husband “entrusting his heart” to his wife.  All He gives over to us, even His very life, His absolute love – His blood itself He pours out for us.  And are we as the good wife who “works with loving hands,” who “puts her hands to the distaff and [whose] fingers ply the spindle”?  Do we work diligently with all the gifts the Lord imparts to us and thus increase their yield?  Are we as she who “brings [her husband] good, and not evil, all the days of her life,” delivering unto the Lord the honor due His Name?  If so, then as the worthy wife receives “a reward for her labors” and as “her works praise her at the city gates,” so shall the Lord richly bless our labors, and the angels at the gates of heaven welcome us with song.

Brothers and sisters, “You are children of the light and children of the day.  We are not of the night or of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober,” doing the Lord’s will in all things.  Let us not be as the “useless servant” who “dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.”  The graces the Lord gives us are not meant for such darkness, but indeed to be brought into the light of day that they might spread “like a fruitful vine” throughout the face of the earth.  This is the call of His Church, and we must be faithful in the work with which we have been entrusted: His love must reach to the ends of the world.

And each “shall eat the fruit of [his] handiwork” when the day of the Lord comes upon us.  The soul which has courted darkness in its distrust and laziness shall find the spouse that awaits her; but “blessed shall [she] be, and favored,” “who walk[s] in [the Lord’s] ways!”  She shall indeed not fear the “sudden disaster” that comes upon the wicked, but shall celebrate “the prosperity of Jerusalem” in her Master’s house “all the days of [her] life.”  For in none does the Lord take greater delight than she who returns an increase of His invaluable love.

Wriiten, chanted, and produced by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt.

Music: "We Have Bodies" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

********

O LORD, let us do your work and your will;

let us be fruitful in serving you

until the Day of your Son’s return.

YHWH, you give us gifts, skills and talents upon this earth – even our bodies and minds are from you.  But if we employ them not, it is as if we have them not at all… and soon they are taken from us.  We must offer all we have back to you, serving you well with all our lives, and we shall be blessed with your abundance.

Into your kingdom let us come, O LORD!  Let all we do lead to this grace.  Make us fruitful in your Name, ever working with loving hands, and every blessing will be ours – and we shall know the joy of your presence.  Let our hearts be set on you alone.

What have we, LORD, that you have not given?  And what should we do but use well what is at our hands?  If we wish to be wed to you in Heaven, then your heart we must hold within our own.  It is your heart you would give us; let us live as your children in the light of this day.

O LORD, may your Son not find us sleeping upon His return, but serving you faithfully, walking ever in your way.

Direct download: BC-111311-Su_33_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Wis.6:12-16;   Ps.63:2-8;   1Thes.4:13-18;   Mt.25:1-13) 

“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” 

O Lord, “through the night-watches I will meditate on you: you are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.”  “As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you”; for though “my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water” for you, O Living God, I have “gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory,” and you have met me with your “kindness.”  Your Wisdom “graciously appears to [me] in the ways, and meets [me] with all solicitude.”

“Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.  She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate.  For taking thought of Wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care.”

I could not say it any better, or any differently, than the sacred author.  Do not these words perfectly illustrate the Lord’s message in our gospel today – Stay awake!  Keep your lamps burning!  Seek Wisdom!  Be ready, and she will come to you; and you will be gathered into the marriage feast.  Foolishly sit in darkness, unconcerned for your fate, and these ominous words shall resound in your barren soul: “Then the door was locked.”  And then there shall be no entering.

I must again remark on the astounding lack of wisdom in the commentary of the missal I read.  It states, “Paul is under the misconception that our Lord will return during his lifetime,” ignorantly assuming that when he says, “We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,” he is referring to himself and his companions.  Oh my!  Where do they derive the oil for their lamps?  He is no more referring directly to himself in this instance than he is when he says, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose” – it is of the whole Church, of whatever time or place, he is speaking!  How can our “scholars” not see this; and how can they be so ready to utter blasphemy against Holy Scripture and the Lord’s Apostle, suggesting that he purports some greater knowledge of the Lord’s return than the Lord Himself?  Do they think he is as ignorant, or proud, as they?

Brothers and sisters, we indeed have great hope of resurrection.  When “the Lord Himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven,” we will be caught up with Him “in the air,” in His heavenly presence.  But we must have His light within ourselves and keep watch for His Hour, waiting through the night for the dawn of His Day.

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

Music: "Watching the Sun" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, nothing else matters

but our union with you –

let us be with you forever. 

     YHWH, help us to keep vigil for you and for your Son’s return. Let our hearts be set on your coming glory, that we may join in it ourselves. May our lamps shine brightly as we await the new Day; dispel all darkness from our midst. Give us the wisdom we need to remember your promise of new life in the kingdom – O let us be wed to Jesus, we pray!

     Through the night we meditate on you and on your Word; it is for you our souls thirst. What more could we desire than to be with you in Heaven? What more should we long for than your saving grace? And to those who seek you, you come, O LORD. To rescue us from the darkness you do not delay. For even as we remain in vigil, your wisdom hastens to shine the light of your face.

     May we be counted among those ready for your coming kingdom; with your Son may we enter the wedding feast. Awake let us be to share in your glory. O LORD, that we shall rise from the dead let us believe.

Direct download: BC-116011-Su_32_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

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

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

 

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

and no torment shall touch them.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: All_Souls_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 9:00am EST

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

 

“Everyone who has this hope based on Him

makes himself pure, as He is pure.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

as your saints have been made pure

in the blood of the Lamb. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

“You are fellow citizens with the saints

and members of the household of God.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be built into your House

with all your holy apostles. 

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

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

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

Direct download: Sts_Simon_and_Jude_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Ex.22:20-26;   Ps.18:2-4,47,51;   1Thes.1:5-10;   Mt.22:34-40)

 

“If ever you wrong them, and they cry out to me,

I will surely hear their cry.”

 

In this simple statement by the Lord is revealed the essential nature of our God in His relation with His people.  It demonstrates certainly what He says of Himself, “I am compassionate,” for what is He telling us but that He has an ardent care for the poorest among us and the injustice they suffer?  But it also demonstrates the justice of God itself, for what does He mean when He says He will “hear their cry” but that He will punish the wicked for their heartless crimes?  He states clearly, if any should “wrong any widow or orphan… [His] wrath will flare up, and [He] will kill [him] with the sword.”

Now in the Church today we find an arbitrary and utterly deceptive and false separation of members into “liberal” or “conservative” camps, as if the Lord and His Church could be limited by either assignation.  The liberal hears “love God and neighbor” and ignorantly excuses himself from keeping the law; and the conservative grasps the law so tightly he squeezes the very life, the very love, out of it.  The Lord is neither liberal nor conservative, but may be said to be both – and that to the extreme in both cases.  First of all, He has come to liberate us from our sin, to free us from the sentence of death all justly deserved as much as the adulteress or the thief on the cross He forgave.  No one could be more liberal in His free giving of Himself and His love.  What compares to the shedding of His blood, and the free gifts we gain thereby?  Yet it must not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus is absolutely conservative in His teachings and in His ways; at all costs He preserves the truth.  For though He says that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” of love of God and neighbor, He does not thereby do away with the whole law.  Indeed, He strengthens it.  Does He not say not a single letter, nor even part of a letter, will pass away until all the law is fulfilled?  Does He not tell us now that even to look at a woman lustfully is adultery and to be angry with another is as murder (see Mt.5:17-30)?  And will He not come at the end of the age and judge all hearts, separating the evil from the good and casting them into eternal darkness and eternal flames?  Though He “delivers us from the coming wrath” if we love Him, failing that, we cannot but be thrown into hell.

The Lord has two hands and either taken alone is ineffective, is, in fact, wicked, for either alone falls short of love and truth.  The Lord is absolutely kind and absolutely just: these two meet and kiss in Him.  And so they must in each of us.  We must be “model[s] for all the believers.”  Let it be said that from us “the word of the Lord has sounded forth,” that “in every place [our] faith in God has gone forth – that we have carried both His love and His truth to every heart we touch.  Then we shall rightly call the Lord our “rock” and our “deliverer”; then we shall exclaim, “Praised be the Lord” and be “safe from [our] enemies.”  Then He will hear our cry and save us, and all who truly love Him, for then we will be His disciples.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, help us to love you with all our heart,

and to love others as you love them. 

YHWH, we must turn from idols to worship you alone, for you are the living and true God and deserve all the love of our heart, mind, and soul.  And we must love others as you love all, ever sharing your unending compassion with our neighbor.  For you hear the cry of the poor, and to that call we must attend or we are not loving you at all.

Whose compassion is beyond is beyond your own, LORD?  Whose love can approach your perfection?  For your love is founded on perfect justice, a justice we cannot fathom apart from your favor toward us.  Your justice cannot but punish evil, for if not, how could it protect the good?  How could the widow or orphan find your compassion if you did not destroy those who oppress them?

But even as you destroy the wicked, you do so out of love, out of mercy even toward those you destroy.  For how shall they turn from their sin and be saved if you do not chastise them for their wrongs, for the lack of compassion which separates them from you?  Your kindness be upon all this day, O LORD, that we might live in your love.

Direct download: BC-102311-Su_30_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Is.45:1,4-6;   Ps.96:1,3-5,7-10;   1Thes.1:1-5b;   Mt.22:15-21)

 

“I am the Lord and there is no other,

there is no God besides me.”

 

Oh brothers and sisters, how clear our Scripture today makes it that “great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is He beyond all gods.”  Indeed there is no other God.  It is He who grasped the “right hand” of even the pagan king, Cyrus, “subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service.”  The heart of this king and all kings and all lands are in His hands – He alone rules all nations!  Do you see this?  Do you understand that if He calls this foreigner by “name, giving [him] a title,” that there is none that is beyond His reach, that is not under His eye?  By the Lord’s power this pagan has conquered the nations of the world.  And why?  Why does He arm him who knows Him not?  “So that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none beside [Him].”

Our psalmist sings so well of the singular power of the Lord God: “All the gods of the nations are things of naught, but the Lord made the heavens.”  Again I ask, do you see this?  All nations recognize Him who made the heavens and the earth; even these “tremble before Him.”  And so all are called to “tell His glory among the nations, among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.”  For all must be encouraged to “give the Lord the glory due His name”; all must be offered the honor of knowing the greatness of our God.

One of these nations who have come to knowledge of the one God we hear of in our second reading.  Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers and sisters loved by God” for their “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  He gives thanks to God the Father that this Gentile people has come to faith in Him “with much conviction.”  What has been proclaimed so long now bears fruit.  For even the millennium before our psalmist had called the “families of nations” to “bring gifts, and enter His courts,” to “worship the Lord in holy attire.”  None has ever been barred from adoring Him who is the One God and Father of all.  But now the Gospel comes not “in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.”  Now the word is anointed by Jesus’ blood.  So now all nations indeed come before Him, giving “the Lord glory and praise.”

And when Jesus says, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” He does not remove anything from under God’s domain.  For even the things of Caesar are in God’s hands (as is the coin between Jesus’ fingers today), as the Son makes clear in His words before Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above” (Jn.19:11).  And, “the Lord is King” and King is His Son, and “He governs the peoples with equity.”  Let all declare the glory of Him besides whom “there is no other.”

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

Music: "The World Is a Work of Art (Made by the Hand of God)" (1st half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, all the earth belongs to you;

let us run in the way you command,

ever giving praise to the glory of your NAME. 

YHWH, there is none beside you – you are the Most High God, the only God, the living God… and greatly should we praise you.  We should worship you alone, for you alone are worthy of worship.  O let us sing to you all the day long!

All the nations are in your hands, LORD and God; all kings run in the way you lead them.  There is none above your power or beyond your reach – the world is at your command.  As Jesus holds the coin of Caesar between His fingers, so all this earth is under your power, to be disposed with as you desire.

Send your Spirit into us, dearest LORD, O mighty God, that your power might come to us and conform us to your will, that we might labor each day for you and our poor work find your favor.  Let us test you not, O LORD, but trust in your goodness toward us and be obedient to your Word.

Praise you for your glory, LORD!  Let all souls give you due praise, that we might join with you who made us, that we might share in your surpassing glory.

Direct download: BC-101611-Su_29_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Is.25:6-10;   Ps.23:1-6;   Phil.4:12-14,19-20;   Mt.22:1-14)

 

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts

will provide for all peoples

a feast of rich food and choice wines.”

 

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”  It may be equated with “juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines,” with “calves and fatted cattle ready to be eaten.”  A great banquet is the kingdom of heaven!

But, of course, though we speak here of food and eating, we know that it is not this we should thus seek on this earth, for these things are but of the earth and are only used to help us understand the heavenly fruits which are ours in the kingdom of God.  Paul makes this clear in his attitude toward food and the provisions that are of this world: “In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need,” and it truly matters not to him whether he is rich or poor in material things; all that matters is that we “can do all things in Him who strengthens” us – all that matter are the “glorious riches in Jesus Christ.”  Food and feasting are but metaphors for the things that in this world are unseen.

However, it is so that “the feast is ready” even here on this earth.  It is true that the Lord “spread[s] the table before” us even in this world, even “in the sight of [our] foes.”  He does not leave us poor humans alone without real food to strengthen us for our journey.  But this food is spiritual fare; His Body and Blood are not juicy and rich to our taste, to our bellies, but to our souls.  This food nourishes the Spirit He has planted within us, and helps it ever to grow.  Though real as our own flesh and our own blood, yet it truly is of heaven, and lends the glory of God to this bone of His bone.

“God will fully supply whatever you need,” brothers and sisters; have no fear of being in want and no anxiety to build up abundance on this earth.  He indeed is beside you always, giving your soul blessed “repose.”  Make it your aim to “dwell in the house of the Lord.”  Then “on that day” He reveals His kingdom, you will “rejoice and be glad,” saying, “Behold, our God, to whom we looked to save us!”  Then you will enter His presence forever.  Prepare your soul for the wedding feast of heaven.

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

Music: "The Readiness Is All" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, prepare us well to come into your House,

to enter into eternal life with you,

our God and Savior. 

YHWH, you spread the table before us, a feast of your kingdom.  Rich food and choice wines are ours even this day in the Body and Blood of your Son.  Let us offer you due praise and thanks for all your provisions for our journey to you.

And when we come finally into your kingdom, LORD, where death has been destroyed and we stand in the light of your presence, our hearts shall leap up in absolute joy… and we shall remain with you forever.

But let our wedding garment be prepared this day.  O LORD, let us find the purity we need to stand in your presence and rejoice in your glory.  For yet our hearts are not set wholly on you – forgive our continual rejection of your grace.

You are at our side, dear LORD; you bless and guide us as we walk this dark earth.  Help us to cling to you in trust and faith, and our place beside you will be assured.  Glory to you, O LORD!

Direct download: BC-100911-Su_28_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Is.5:1-7;   Ps.80:9,12-16,19-20,Is.5:7;   Phil.4:6-9;   Mt.21:33-43)

 

“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you

and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

 

“Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.  My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press.  Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.”  Of course, this “vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are His cherished plant; He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!”  And so the Lord promises to “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled!  Yes, [He] will make it a ruin.”

Jesus’ parable in our gospel today echoes precisely Isaiah’s “song”: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.”  But now the prophecy is brought to fulfillment; now the rotten grapes come to maturity, and so the ruin of the vineyard will be complete.  For in their rejection of the Son the hope of Israel is lost: none further has the Father to send them; herein they utterly spurn His love.  How shall they be turned to producing good fruit if He who is the source of all goodness they destroy in their souls?  There is nothing left but to remove the vineyard from them.

“A vine from Egypt [the Lord] transplanted; [He] drove away the nations and planted it.”  But for its unfaithfulness He has “broken down its walls.”  Indeed, in a scant few years after the crucifixion of the Messiah the temple in Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed – the worship upon which the faith of the Lord’s people is founded will be no more.  And it shall not return.  But even as this temple built by hands the Lord lays waste, He yet answers our psalmist’s plea to Him: “Look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted.”  For as He destroys, so He builds; as Christ is killed, so His Church is planted.  And it shall grow unto eternity.

The fulfillment of all prophecy, the New Jerusalem, is in our midst now.  In the Catholic faith the worship at Jerusalem comes to maturity.  And though many would see it removed – and perhaps by man’s reason one might say for its sins it should be – though many come in their presumption to build anew… there is no call from the Lord for any of this, and these man-made structures will also fall to ruin.  What God builds now He builds on a foundation which lasts forever, against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail.  Only on the day of judgment, only when the kingdom has come, will this House be needed no more – for then all that will be will be His Church.

So, “brothers and sisters, have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, make your requests known to God.”  Truly does the Lord’s “face shine upon us” in this holy Temple, and it shall not be moved.  See that you not remove yourselves from it but “keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen” in its confines.  Listen to His Word spoken to your hearts, and receive well the broken Bread of this holy sacrifice and the Blood of this heavenly vine.  And bear fruit in His name.

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

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

*******

O LORD, restore this vine

that we might bear your fruit in peace. 

YHWH, the vineyard you planted in Israel had to be broken down, the temple in Jerusalem destroyed, but the Church you have built in the blood of Christ shall endure till the end of time.  Let us make our home in its confines.

The peace of the New Jerusalem is ours, O LORD, by the grace wrought by your Son; the New Covenant let us embrace that we might flourish as your vine.  O let us bear fruit in your sight!

Break not down the walls of this House, LORD; let us not be disobedient to your call.  Though we have killed Jesus on a cross, let us now turn back to you.  For you will have mercy on your people and restore us in your love.  Give us new life and we will call upon your Name, never forgetting your presence in our midst.

O LORD, may your House be built this day even unto the heavens; in your presence let us make our home, serving you faithfully at all times.  The Body and Blood of your only Son as our food and drink, let us be grafted to your vine.

Direct download: BC-100211-Su_27_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Dn7:9-10,13-14 or Rv.12:7-12;   Ps.138:1-5;   Jn.1:47-51

I shall treat of both first readings)

 

“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God

ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 

And who shall see such visions?  He whose own vision is pure, he who is as Nathanael – he who has “no guile in him.”  Such is the case both with Daniel and John the Evangelist, of whose visions we hear in either first reading.  The angels are with them, indeed, and they lift them up to look upon the Most High God and His Anointed One.

Both first readings reveal vision of Jesus the Son, whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and by whom “salvation and power have come.”  In Daniel is shown the Ancient One, the Father, from whom all power comes as “surging streams of fire” from His throne; and in Revelation, John presents the defeat of Satan, who would presume to be like God but is “driven out” and “hurled down to earth” by the archangel Michael (whose name tells us that none is like God) before “the reign of our God” comes.  In Revelation is included, too, our own participation in “the blood of the Lamb,” that the Church, “by the word of their testimony,” will share in the Lord’s dominion.

And David’s psalm sings today: “Great is the glory of the Lord.”  His voice joins with the “thousands upon thousands… ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads” attending Him.  “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise,” he declares, and finds himself “worship[ing] at [His] holy temple” Him whose name is “great above all things.”  Is not the vision promised Nathanael and witnessed to by Daniel and John shared here with David, too; does he not glimpse, and share with us who long for the presence of the Lord, the ladder which reaches to heaven made known to Jacob in dream?  Is not Jesus, His Lord, with him even in this time before His coming?  It is one Jesus the eyes of all the pure of heart see and shall see.  And did not the Old Testament prophet see that which was to come?  Was not the eternal vision of heaven revealed to his eyes, as well as John’s?  And how can this be, that they see what we would call the future, except that it has always been?

Brothers and sisters, we must declare with Nathanael, “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel,” but we must do so as He does – in absolute honesty and utter faith.  We must believe without guile and declare without hesitation that Jesus is Lord.  To do so and to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him, our hearts and our eyes must be pure.  Let us pray that we shall come now to vision of heaven, where His angels and His saints do reign.

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels

ministering to you,

and hearts to receive their blessed help.

YHWH, like flames of fire your angels surround you and your holy throne.  These myriads of spirits attend you, ministering to you day and night in the place where there is no night, where light shines seven times as brightly as the sun.  O may we join them in singing your praises and in doing your will upon this earth!  With eyes unveiled let us look upon your glory and unite with your angels in Heaven.

If only we had hearts without guile, O LORD; if only we were your true sons and daughters.  Then we would declare freely that Jesus is your Son and our King, He whose dominion is everlasting, whose glory is one with your own.  Then would the devil be cast from our souls, driven out from among us by your power at work in your angels.  Then would we worship in joy in your holy Temple all our days and become children of your blessed light.  O may your angels be with us always!

Direct download: Sept._29_-_Sts._Michael_Gabriel_Raphael_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Ez.18:25-28;   Ps.25:4-9;   Phil.2:1-11;   Mt.21:28-32)

 

“Tax collectors and prostitutes

are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

 

Why?  How can it be that such sinners gain such privilege, such grace?  Is it for their sins?  Shall we all become as they?  We should be like them, but not in sin – in repentance.  For it is because they have “turned away from all [the] sins that [they] committed” that they are saved; it is because they are “tax collectors and prostitutes” no more.  And so we are all called to turn away from the sin which each of us surely has.

David sings beautifully of this in our psalm: “The sins of my youth and my frailty remember not,” as he begs the Lord for His kindness.  For all that we have done in our ignorance and our weakness we should seek the Lord’s mercy, for He assures us throughout our readings that “He shows sinners the way” when they come humbly before Him.

When the first son in Jesus’ parable responds to his father’s request for him to work in the vineyard, “I will not,” what does this son do but sin against his father? – just as each of us sins against our heavenly Father when we turn from His will to blindly follow our own.  But what did the son show when he “afterwards changed his mind and went” but his contrition and repentance at his insubordination, thus illustrating the manner in which our consciences should lead us from our own disobedience?  And as Jesus makes clear, it was this son who “did his father’s will” and so will be blessed by him.

Our reading from Ezekiel makes this theme of turning from sin and finding blessing even clearer.  It states in certain terms of the wicked man that “if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.”  With such assurance, why should we delay our own conversion, which must be effected day to day?

St. Paul presents the attitude we must have before others and God in order to find the Lord’s grace.  He states: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,” and then gives the clear example of the most humble of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.”  He so “humbled Himself” that He became “obedient even unto death, death on a cross.”  And so should we be proud?  Should we harden ourselves in our sin, or rather turn and empty ourselves of all that is not of Him?  The salvation repentance finds is indicated also in the fact that, because of Jesus’ humility, “God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.”  So let us not hesitate to join the tax collectors and prostitutes among us who bend the knee before Him; let our “tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and we shall know His reward.

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

Music: "Where's My Brother?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, turning away from all our sins

and humbling ourselves before you,

let us but do your holy will. 

YHWH, help us to turn from our sins and do your holy will.  May we be obedient as your Son, who gave His life to save others.  Let all souls repent of their wickedness and walk in His way, that all might find salvation in His Name.

If we could but be humble before you, LORD; if we could but admit our failings, our selfishness and pride, our blindness to your call for our lives… then we would be blessed by you and become your faithful sons.  Break our hardened hearts that we might love, that we might look upon you who are love itself.

O let us be empty, LORD, of all we would possess, of all that we would grasp with our own hands.  Let us indeed be blessed to recognize our sinfulness and find your mercy and forgiveness.  You but want for us to turn to you that you might embrace us as your own.  May your compassion be known in our hearts this day.

Direct download: BC-092511-Su_26_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

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

 

“Through all the earth their voice resounds,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us all be drawn as one

into the Body of your Son,

that we poor sinners may become His saints. 

YHWH, you are over all and work through all and in all, and your Gospel message goes out to all the world through your apostles and evangelists.  O let us listen to your voice as it comes to us in the words of Scripture and through your prophets’ preaching!  Let us be quick as Matthew to answer your call, that the Body of your Son might be built up on this earth and soon come to fulfillment in Heaven.

We are all sinners, O LORD; you see this and you know this.  Help us to see this as you do and so come readily to the table Jesus spreads before us, a table of mercy and grace in answer to our repentance.  Let us recognize that only in Him will we find our place with you in the kingdom.  And help us to proclaim your love and your peace with your apostles, that in the one faith all might be baptized and come as your children to praise your Name.

You are our hope, O LORD; let your Spirit go forth.

Direct download: St._Matthew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Is.55:6-9;   Ps.145:2-3,8-9,17-18;   Phil.1:20-24,27;   Mt.20:1-16)

 

“You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.”

 

Our readings today reveal that the Lord is near, merciful, and just, and that these three qualities are one in God.  For the Lord’s justice is shown in His mercy, and His mercy in His nearness to us.  And so we should “praise [His] name forever.”

Isaiah conveys to us that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are “as high as the heavens are above the earth” with respect to our own thoughts and our own ways.  As David proclaims, “His greatness is unsearchable.”  But the prophet also encourages the faithful to “seek the Lord while He may be found, [to] call Him while He is near”; and the king declares, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”  And is not the closeness of our great God – made most evident in the presence of Jesus among us – illustrated in the Lord’s parable?  Does not the landowner go out at all times of day to draw laborers into his vineyard?  Even to the final hour He invites us into His kingdom, coming to us always with the hope of making us fruitful workers upon His land.

And why does the Lord remain so near?  Why does He call to us so incessantly?  Is it not because He is so “generous and merciful,” because He is “good to all and compassionate toward all His works”?  Is it not that we should turn from our idleness and the wickedness of our thoughts and ways that He ventures into the marketplace to find us?  Does Jesus not come to redeem us from this world of sin?  And should we not therefore “turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God who is generous in forgiving,” whose calling us to work in His vineyard is more that He should be able to give us all we need than that we might labor for Him? 

And is His mercy not proven by His form of justice?  For does He not give all a full day’s pay, even those with Him but an hour?  Do not all who come to His kingdom know the blessings He pours forth?  This is His way, this is His justice – the way of mercy and love.  And it is by this love He remains so near us who may now proclaim with Paul: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death,” for His love is inseparable from us who believe, who have entered into His vineyard and share in His blood.

And should we not be merciful as He?  Should His justice not become our own?  We should not be as those servants who “grumbled against the landowner” for His generosity, courting envy in our hearts, but allow the Lord to be “free to do as [He] wish[es] with [His] own money.”  Should we not wish the same joy upon all souls as we ourselves have been blessed to know?  Though we may have had to bear “the day’s burden and the heat,” should this limit our generosity to others who have come late?  We should rather with our Lord desire all to enter His vineyard, to be close to us, that all might receive the benefit of His merciful justice.  We should thank Him that His ways are not our own, for then never would He have come near to us, and empty and idle we would be standing still.

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

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

*******

O LORD, how our envy would kill us –

let us rejoice in your mercy toward all,

counting ourselves blessed to do your will. 

YHWH, truly you are generous in forgiving, gracious and merciful to all, coming even at the eleventh hour to save us from our sin and share with us all the blessings of your kingdom.  Let us set to work for you this day, this hour, rejoicing always that we might labor for you.

O LORD, we thank you that your ways are far above our ways, for where we would condemn, you would forgive, and so we would ourselves be condemned without your mercy.  It is indeed your desire to save all souls and we need but turn our desire to you to find you present to us.  Help us to leave the ways of this world behind and follow in the way of your Son, embracing the Cross as though it held all treasure for us, as if it is the greatest gift you give… as if it were the way to Heaven, which it is.

O LORD, why should we complain against your generosity, your mercy?  Should we not rather seek to be like you?  Then we would share in all the riches of your kingdom with nothing to keep us from praising your Name.

Direct download: BC-091811-Su_25_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Nm.21:4b-9;   Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38;   Phil.2:6-11;   Jn.3:13-17)

 

“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him

the name which is above every name.”

 

And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”?  Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”?  It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.

Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation.  By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins.  Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”  Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.  Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him. 

 Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters.  Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt.  By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you.  By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.

He loves us so, brothers and sisters.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin.  But as it is He “has come down from heaven.”  As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes.  As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love.  As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come.  And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us be saved from our sin

by the sacrifice of your only Son. 

YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it.  And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son?  What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?

And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts?  Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?

Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you.  Raise us up with Christ, your Son.

Direct download: Triumph_of_the_Cross_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Sir.27:30-28:9;   Ps.103:1-4,8-12;   Rom.14:7-9;   Mt.18:21-35)

 

“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,

as I had pity on you?”

 

How like the Lord’s own wisdom is that of Sirach; how like His teaching.  For have we not heard the Master say, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” in His instruction to His disciples on how to pray?  And does He not impart this same lesson by parable today?

“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”  Oh the woe of the unforgiving heart!  “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”  How can we “refuse mercy to another” and “seek pardon for [our] own sins”?  Do we not know that anger is itself a deadly sin, mortally wounding our anxious souls?  Do we who sit in judgment think in our hearts that we are without sin, that we are perfect as He who is Most High?  If indeed “we are the Lord’s” then we will act as the Lord and look with “kindness and compassion” upon others.  Instead of condemnation we would practice divine forgiveness, for indeed mercy is the Father’s defining trait in His relationship with His children.

But no, rather than putting “wrath” and “enmity” and “hate” as far from our hearts as the Lord has “put our transgressions from us,” we cherish these abominations, setting them as trophies in our corrupted souls.  Again, what woe there is for the unforgiving soul!  For the same torture we would inflict upon others for their sins against us shall be the torture we ourselves shall face – then we will know what justice is!  Then we will know the wrath of God!  Then He who alone has power and wisdom and love to judge rightly shall inflict His punishment on all His wicked servants.

My brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Lord in both life and in death, the Lord cannot emphasize enough to us the need for forgiveness.  We must first and always recognize and remember the sinners we have been and the grace we have received at our Lord’s hands.  And with this ever in mind and heart we must come to others with that same mercy.  It is this He desires of us, and He will accept nothing less.

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

Music: "It Takes One To Know One" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

  *******

O LORD, surpassing is your kindness toward us;

help us to transcend our vengeful hearts

and forgive as you have done.

     YHWH, have mercy on our souls by helping us to show mercy toward others; even your own mercy let us share. Then how blessed we shall be to be like you, O compassionate God! Then your mercy shall pour forth like a refreshing stream and become an overflowing torrent.

     But your kindness and compassion are far from us, LORD, so long as our sins remain near. So long as we cherish anger, we choke our souls and so cannot breathe in the light of your glory. If only we would turn and forgive, freely and without limit, then we would fully know the great blessing of your forgiveness, and find our sins put far from us.

     Why should we wish to live or die except in you? Why would we separate ourselves from your loving presence? O let us rather die to the wrath we hold! Let us set all vengeance aside. Then we shall rise to where you are, LORD, to where your Son would lead us.

Direct download: BC-091111-Su_24_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30;   Ps.13:6,Is.61:9;   Mt.1:1-16,18-23

Note:  I shall treat of both first readings)

 

“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”

 

“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child?  And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.”  She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence.  It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”

The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself.  First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world.  The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings.  God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.

And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High.  She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.

And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters.  We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith.  He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.

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

Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary

you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –

may He be always with us.

YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins.  May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you.  In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.

So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race.  He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence.  O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!

By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us.  Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.

Direct download: Birth_of_Mary_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Ez.33:7-9;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Rom.13:8-10;   Mt.18:15-20)

 

“O wicked one, you shall surely die.”

 

The Lord declares to the prophet Ezekiel: “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel.”  He is to “speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,” that the sinner might not “die for his guilt” and that the prophet himself might not be “responsible for his death” by his silence.

As the Lord calls Ezekiel, so He requires all the Church to “warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way.”  We must be diligent with all those in our care, all those we find in need, not in order to deliver condemnation upon souls but to invite all to “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us.”  How can someone know this great glory if there is sin upon his soul?  And how will he know to turn from his sin if those the Lord gives words to speak hold their tongues as the sheep goes astray?  And what shall become of this soul who has not offered the word of loving wisdom, but rather determined in himself that there is no hope for the sinner he sees?

Brothers and sisters, when we are called to declare: “‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be,” it is out of love for the soul we see straying that we speak.  For love is “the fulfillment of the law”; it sums up all its precepts, and so all its precepts are expressed in love.  Do not think the law is opposed to love – love and justice are one in God; and the Lord does not call us to ignorance or acceptance of sin, but to truth and salvation.

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault’”; do not pretend the fault does not exist, but confront him, for his sake and your own.  For “if he listens to you, you have won over your brother” – you will have brought him back to the fold.  However, “if he doesn’t listen,” the Lord calls us further: “Take one or two others along with you.”  Bring objective witness to sway your loved one from evil.  And “if he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.”  Ah, the Church!  The keeper of the Spirit of Truth and the flame of wisdom which no man can deny.  What teaching the Lord has left with Her!  And what power: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  For here are those “gathered together in [Jesus’] name,” and He indeed is “in the midst of them.”  And if the soul “refuses to listen even to the Church,” what hope has it of finding salvation?  But at least you have done all you can.

All must be done in justice and in love to save the soul straying in this land.  This is why the Lord has left us the Church; this is why He has left His Spirit – and we are called to speak His Truth, that salvation might come to all.

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

Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us to love one another,

to bring one another to repentance

that all might sing your praise.

YHWH, help us to love others as we should, to speak the truth to them; let our concern be the salvation of souls, as it is for your Son.

LORD, you institute the Church to be your representative on earth, and you call each member to reflect your love and your glory; your justice must be the desire of every soul.  And we must show that desire in our relations with others, in our concern for their welfare.  Who could stand by and let his brother perish if he truly loves him?  And will not sin cause the death of any who will not repent?  And so, what should we do but speak out in your Name?

Let our tongues not be silent as we see others fall.  Especially your pastors we pray for this day, that they not be afraid to chastise their flock, to warn them against wayward paths.  And let their words be heeded, LORD – save souls from dying in their sin, that all might praise your holy NAME.

Direct download: BC-090411-Su_23_OT.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Jer.20:7-9;   Ps.63:2-6,8-9;   Rom.12:1-2;   Mt.16:21-27)

 

“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”

 

Paul says the same as Jesus when the Lord calls us to “take up [our] cross,” to lose our lives for His sake.  And as Paul instructs the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” so Jesus teaches Peter, and all His apostles and disciples, when He insists he think as God and not as man.

Why?  Why is the Lord so harsh with this Rock of the Church (and, as I say, with us all)?  The answer is spoken clearly in our reading from Jeremiah.  In it the prophet declares in near desperation: “The Word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.”  He goes so far as to say the Lord has “duped” him, making evident that he had not expected to become “an object of laughter” upon taking on the mantle of prophecy.  “Everyone mocks me,” he cries; and yet he “must cry out” still the way of the Lord.  Yet he must call the people from their sins and warn them of the “violence and outrage” that is near them.  He cannot remain silent, though he would greatly wish to, because the Word of the Lord is “like fire burning in [his] heart, imprisoned in [his] bones,” and he can do nothing but shout it from the rooftops, though it bring him scorn.

And what has this to do with Peter?  Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and it is his voice above all that will cry out this truth to the ends of the earth; thus he and his fellow apostles must know clearly that to which they are called.  As the Lord “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly… and be killed,” so must they walk the same path of persecution.  This they must see.  The contradiction of the cross they must realize, even as they preach it in this hostile world.  For to it they must give themselves completely.

How?  How can it be that the Christian take up such foolishness in the eyes of the world?  How can it be that we die so freely, that we suffer such mockery, such persecution at the hands of sinners?  Is it not that our “flesh pines and [our] soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water” for the living God?  And is it not because we know that “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied”?  The key is in this gospel quote: “The Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory.”  The key is believing on the third day He was raised.  If we have this faith it becomes easy to deny the pleasures of the flesh, for even in this we find the eternal life of the Spirit.  Because our “soul clings fast” to God and to the hope that is only in Him, we are able to cling fast to His cross and so “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  And so we die with Him to live.

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

Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,

that you might call us up to you.

YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.

We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand?  How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides?  Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift.  His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.

Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints.  Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.

Direct download: BC-082811-Su_22_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(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.

Direct download: St_Bartholomew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Is.22:19-23;   Ps.138:1-3,6,8;   Rom.11:33-36;   Mt.16:13-20)

 

“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

Thus the Lord grants principal authority in His Church to His rock, Peter.  Thus He prophesies what He has promised: the power and teaching given those who sit on Moses’ seat shall pass to this new leader He appoints to guide the flock of the New Jerusalem.  And is this designation, or redesignation, of power not remarkably foreshadowed in our first reading: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open”?  For the Lord has said to “Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station… and give over to [Eliakim] your authority.’”  The same declaration Jesus has made to the chief priests and leaders of the people, and here He indicates its fulfillment.

“He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”  Is this not the case with our Papa, our Pope, whom the Lord has assigned in His “inscrutable” judgment to feed His sheep?  “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” whose mind no man has known.  For see the authority He gives to man, He who has all power to give.  Even unto heaven does the reign of the apostles now extend, with Peter in the fore.  And “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” for it is granted by “the Christ, the Son of the living God” through the revelation of His “heavenly Father.”  “I will fix Him like a peg in a sure spot,” the Lord states of Eliakim; and now no surer peg is there than Peter, through whose care all “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple.”

“Your kindness, O Lord endures forever.”  Your love for your sons on earth reaches unto heaven.  And so you grant us blessings beyond our imagining; you strengthen us beyond our weak frame.  And as to the apostles you deliver authority, so one in your grace all become.  How shall we repay you for your kindness toward us?  How shall we care for the gift you give?  How shall we maintain your presence among us, except that in your love you remain?  Bless this House and all its leaders; may “in the presence of the angels [we] sing your praise.”

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

Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.  (Background chanting by members of Neocatechumenal movement awaiting arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the United Nations.)

*******

O LORD, teach us always to do what is right

that we might be as your sons

and enter into your House.

YHWH, all peoples are called to your glory, to your kingdom, for all are sons and daughters to you.  But truly you must be our Father, we must come from you, we must reflect your image, the image your only Son reflects to us in His way of the Cross, if we are to enter your presence.  Relying on accidents of time or place we shall never be saved.  Only by accepting the discipline you offer will be made ready for Heaven.

Strengthen us, O LORD, by the chastisement you bring to our souls, by the Word of truth come from Jesus’ mouth.  He knows you and is the way to you – let us be obedient to His call and the call of His apostles to enter through the narrow gate, to leave all of this world behind that we might come rejoicing to your holy mountain with all our brothers and sisters, with all your blessed children.  May all men hear your Son’s voice this day, that none shall be barred from your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-082111-Su_21_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (Is.56:1,6-7;   Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8;   Rom.11:13-15,29-32;   Mt.15:21-28)

 

“God delivered all to disobedience,

that He might have mercy upon all.”

 

(In love let me speak, O Lord.) 

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”  Yet our scholars and leaders make it a den of unbelief.  Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they are deaf and blind to the light of God.  We must not follow in their steps, but speak the truth of the presence of Christ that all might enter the portals of the Lord.

I ask you: How shall the Lord’s “way be known upon earth; among all nations, [His] salvation,” if His Truth is blunted, if His Word is watered down into an alphabet soup?  The commentary of the missal I read states of our gospel: “Matthew took this story from Mark…  He molded it to bring out a message for the Church of his day.”  And so again, and continuously, those who presume to speak for the Church know nothing of God’s Word.  In their excessive analyzing, in their presumption and fabrication, they themselves attempt to mold the divine Scriptures to fit the vision of their blinded eyes, unable to see the Lord who stands before them.  It is remarkable how ignorant these “intelligent” beings are to the simple fact that “prophecy has never been put forth by man’s willing it,” that “men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence” (2Pt.1:21).  And so they seek to make the Bible as any other sacred text, and the Church no different than the next.

Why?  So that there will be “an open-minded respect for all who seriously follow their religious convictions, provided of course that they fulfill their obligation to find the truth.”  But what they do not see is that the very condemnation of people they seek so anxiously to avoid, they are themselves effecting, in an eternal fashion.  For they do not open the loving arms of the Catholic Church and speak of the acceptance of all into its grace and favors.  They themselves do not “fulfill their obligation” to the truth for they know not what truth is: that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life is not heard by those who thirst for it most of all.

And they do not see the absolute beauty of the woman’s cry, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Or Jesus’ wonderful exclamation, “O woman, great is your faith!”)  They do not see the way is not easy for any to come to salvation – be it the Gentile to whom the gates had seemed to be shuttered (though even throughout the Old Testament the Lord makes it very clear that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… them [He] will bring to [His] holy mountain”) or the Jew who must repent of the hardness of his heart.  They do not witness that all must come crawling on their knees to Jesus, and so how can they preach it?  Their eyes are not open to see that the daughter who is healed is more than just the woman’s blood offspring, but all the Gentile race; and they do not call all these to the light of His face.  May the Lord have mercy on their disobedience.  “May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.”

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

Music: "The Whole Whale" (second half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Lightby James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, lift us up from the pit

and baptize us with your fire.

YHWH, opposition from sinners we must indeed endure if we are to be called by the Name of your Son.  The Cross we must carry through this world if we are to come to where Christ is at your right hand.  If we are lowered into a muddy cistern, what should that matter to us, as long as we ourselves are not guilty of sin.

Should we not take great strength in the suffering of Jesus and all those who have followed Him so faithfully to the Cross?  Have they not proven that you come, O LORD, to save those who cry out to you?  We shall be delivered even from death by the grace upon your Son, and so why should we fear the shedding of our blood?

Your sword of truth cannot but divide the evil from the good, those who look to you from those who take their refuge in the things of this earth.  Let your fire come, dear God, and burn away all sin from our midst, that all your afflicted and poor may rise from the ground blessed.

Direct download: BC-081411-Su_20_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(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. 

Direct download: Assumption_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(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.

Direct download: St._Lawrence_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (1Kgs.19:9a,11-13a;   Ps.85:8-14;   Rm.9:1-5;   Mt.14:22-33)

 

“When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak

and went and stood at the entrance to the cave.”

 

For the Lord was in the “tiny whispering sound.”

God speaks in silence.  His Word sinks deeply into our souls, piercing the spirit within us, and so what can we be but afraid?  His still, small voice brings us into His awesome presence.

Brothers and sisters, it is the same NAME of God revealed to Moses the lawgiver that is spoken to Elijah the prophet here on the same “mountain of God, Horeb.”  This WORD, this NAME (YHWH), invokes fear, for it silences the tongue, stilling all distraction we might make, and so allows the purity of God to pass into us.  What but fear, what but holy wonder, can penetrate our very bones when we become thus surrounded by His presence, when He penetrates the core of our being?  “The Lord will be passing by” is the promise made to Elijah; and in the silent WORD the Lord’s promise is kept.

And is it not this same WORD in which Jesus rested when “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray”?  Is it not this same WORD the Lord brought to Peter and the apostles when He “came toward them walking on the sea” as their boat “was being tossed about by the waves”?  As He stepped into the boat with His blessed Rock, is it not so that “the wind died down”?  My brothers and sisters, Jesus is this WORD spoken to Elijah, this NAME given Moses, made flesh in our midst.  And in His presence “the strong and heavy wind,” “the earthquake,” and “the fire” become as nothing, as all distractions cease and we find ourselves at the feet of “the Son of God.”

Upon coming from this mountain Moses led his people out of Egypt.  Upon coming from this mountain Elijah will anoint a king and a prophet to succeed him.  Upon coming from the silence of the mountain Jesus – as He did before in calling His twelve apostles – comes to confirm the call upon Peter and his brothers even as He sees that His mission must increase with the death of John the Baptist.  From the silent WORD all is spoken.  It is His NAME for which we must listen, that we might “speak the truth in Christ.”

“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.”  And so, let us “hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for He proclaims peace,” and in His peace alone will we discover our true and lasting home.  (Fear not the troubling of your soul; He breathes a light calm upon the waters.)

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, our hope is in you;

may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.

YHWH, how we hope for your kindness to deliver us from death, to save us from our adversaries, even from our very selves.  We place all our trust in you – O may our faith soon be rewarded!

If we but had the faith of Abraham, dear LORD, blessed as he would we be, with no fear for the impending darkness, with hearts set solely on your coming light.  The salvation of the just let us await with steadfast hearts, knowing well that you are faithful to all your promises and that you have promised a heavenly dwelling to all who seek their place with you.

To this earth let us not be attached; all of this world let us offer freely to you.  You are our only treasure, dear God – you are all that is worthy of our concern.  And so, let us await your Son’s return with loins girded and lamps burning.  Let us be ever vigilant for His coming, serving well your holy will all our days, and our inheritance we shall find in you.

Direct download: BC-080711-Su_19_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(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.

Direct download: Transfiguration_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

 (Is.55:1-3;   Ps.145:8-9,15-18;   Rm.8:35,37-39;   Mt.14:13-21)

 

“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,

and you give them their food in due season.”

 

And the song of David, and the prophecy of Isaiah, are fulfilled in Jesus and the heavenly banquet He sets before us this day.  For the Lord “open[s] His hand and satisf[ies] the desire of every living thing”; “without paying and without cost” all come to His table to eat.

“You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.”  The “rich fare” the Lord provides cannot be bought with money, for the earthly food “fails to satisfy.”  Only that paid for by the blood of the Son gives life; in His sacrifice we find “the everlasting covenant,” the union with God and with His love which all our souls desire.  And we know, as Paul testifies, that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Does Jesus not give witness to the love of God today?  Does He not show that “the Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works”?  For though “He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself,” though He sought to be alone with His Father in prayer, when followed by the crowds He took pity and “cured their sick.”  And though He had been with them all the day and evening drew on, when the disciples urge Him to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves,” Jesus responds: “There is no need for them to go away; give them food yourselves.”  And He feeds them, without cost and without discriminating between one and the next.  All sit at His table today; and we are told that “all ate and were satisfied.”  And why not?  For the bounty of the Lord is indeed the richest fare.

Do we follow Jesus as diligently as these in the wilderness, brothers and sisters?  We know the food He provides us now every day.  And we have been shown clearly that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”  Let us partake well of this feast set before us, which gives us now a foretaste of heaven.  Freely let us come to Him, and be fed by His holy hand.  And our expectant souls shall be forever satisfied, for His hand is always open.

 

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

 

Music: "The Whole Whale" (first third) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let our lives this day be in line with your will,

united to the glory of your only Son.

YHWH, let us not store up treasures for ourselves, but think rather of you and the salvation of others.  All is indeed vanity if like Qoheleth we set our sights on what is on earth, if we are preoccupied by our possessions.  For these shall rot with the lusts of the flesh and we shall die with them.  But if we set our hearts on you and on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at your right hand, then we shall be blessed with life everlasting.

Your Son calls us to glory with Him in Heaven.  He warns us of the emptiness of this earth and the riches hereon.  He would turn our eyes to you and away from all greed and selfishness.  He alone can prosper the work of our hands, LORD, for without Him we pass like the changing grass and nothing comes of our days.

O LORD, let us not labor in vain but with the wisdom that comes from above, that we might not come to great misfortune but to eternal life in your presence.  Remake us in the image of your Son.

Direct download: BC-073111-Su_18_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

 (1Kgs.3:5,7-12;   Ps.119:57,72,76-77,97,127-130;   Rm.8:28-30;   Mt.13:44-52)

 

“The revelation of your words sheds light,

giving understanding to the simple.”

 

Wisdom.  The “pearl of great price.”  How precious the ability “to distinguish right from wrong” by the grace of God, and to choose the right way at all times.  For finding the pearl is one thing, a gift from the Lord, but wisdom is revealed in him who “goes and sells all that he has and buys it,” knowing there is no treasure greater than the heavenly light shining from the face of God.

It is heaven we must desire.  What else is of any worth, my friend?  And in His justice, in His truth, in the wisdom and understanding that come from the touch of His hand and the words from His mouth alone will we find what is the desire of all the righteous souls. 

Solomon demonstrates that he “love[s] [the Lord’s] commands more than gold,” and this pleases the God who seeks to rule His heart.  He shows that he is the son of his father David by coming humbly before the Lord, recognizing that he is “a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.”  And such utter dependence on the Lord’s grace He cannot but bless, declaring to His servant: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”  Because the young king has made the desire to “know what is right” his request of his God, he receives this, and so much more.

All knowledge, all wisdom is given to Solomon, and shall not be taken away.  But perhaps we should note that what he is given here in such abundance, he shall not heed throughout his life – for he shall not always sell all else to follow in the light of the Lord’s decrees.  Perhaps none but Jesus Himself can do this wholeheartedly; but none should also make the riches of the earth, which contradict the heavenly treasure, his abiding desire, as the older king shall do.  All must strive to remain in His light, to be as “the scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven… who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,” who serves as the angels that “separate the wicked from the righteous” – even on this earth distinguishing evil from good.

“Brothers and sisters, we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”  Paul’s words reflect the wisdom of God.  For truly His elect are known to Him from before time; truly He calls us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  And truly we know that by the justification of our souls under the cross of Christ we shall come to the glorious presence of the Father in heaven.  And this is all that matters.  “Do you understand all these things?”  Then place all in His hands.

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

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

*******

O LORD, you yourself are the pearl

of the greatest price –

let us find you and your Word at work in us this day. 

YHWH, let your kingdom come into our midst; let us seek it with all our heart.  For nothing else has worth, nothing else lasts – only in you do we find a home.

Let your wisdom fill us, LORD, like light from above.  Let us listen to your Son’s teaching that we may be conformed to His image.  You desire to give us every good gift; it is your will to bring us to glory.  May our desire be in accord with your own and all will work only for our good.

And we shall come to Heaven, where you dwell.  We shall come to the light of your face, O LORD, and gaze upon you forever.  Your angels will gather us into your House, and there we will remain always.