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 3:13-15,17-19;   Ps.4:2,4,7-9;   1Jn.2:1-5a;   Lk.24:35-48)

“He is expiation for our sins.”

Brothers and sisters, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.”  For us this Savior has come; for our sins He has died on the cross.  Even as it is written of Him in Scripture, so all has been accomplished in His Name.

And so we need fear no more.  We need not be “startled and terrified” at the sight of Him in our midst.  He has come to us and has taken His place among us, even as He sits at the right hand of God.  And His place among us is the cross, even as God announced – “that His Christ would suffer” – and by His sacrifice He has been greatly blessed, and we greatly blessed with Him.  Now His blood, once shed by our own hands, pours upon us for “the forgiveness of [our] sins.”

David once cried, “When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress,” and so in Christ his prayer is answered; for in this Jesus, our greatest distress – that inflicted by our transgressions – has been washed clean from our murderous souls.  He lives.  He lives now, brothers and sisters, to make intercession for our sins “and for those of the whole world.”  Let us all come to Him in truth and find “the light of [His] countenance shin[ing] upon us!”

The light the Lord is, the salvation He affords to each of our souls, must “be preached in His name to all the nations”; all must come to know the blessing embodied in the risen Christ: all must see Him, that in His redemptive wounds all might take refuge.  It is the will of God that all sins “be wiped away,” that all hearts be converted to truth and light, that all might live before Him in eternal peace.

Do not delay your repentance in His sight; freely forgiveness pours from His side.  For this alone He has died, but to receive His mercy you must reform your lives.

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

Music: "Wish I'd Never Done It" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may the blood of your Son cleanse us of sin,

and may our own death glorify you.

YHWH, Jesus was killed by being hung on a tree, but you preserved Him from among those going down into the pit, you brought Him up from the netherworld, and with Him all those obedient to His Word.  Now in glory He sits with you upon the throne, and the angels and all creatures in Heaven and on earth and under the earth praise His holy Name.  And, yes, those who follow Him here unto death shall come to such glory with Him in Heaven.

To the Lamb who was slain belong all honor and glory and blessing; and to His disciples, to those who lay down their lives that His sheep might be fed, comes the blessing that rests upon Him.  O LORD, make us fruitful in your sight!  May we help turn the mourning of mankind into dancing and singing before your throne.  Forever let us give you thanks for having been found worthy to suffer dishonor here for the sake of your Name.

Direct download: BC-042212-Su_3_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 4:32-35;   Ps.118:1-4,16-18,22-24;   1Jn.5:1-6;   Jn.20:19-31)

“His mercy endures forever.”

Our psalmist “was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped” him.  The disciples were locked in their rooms for fear, but “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”  Thomas was hardened in unbelief, but His God appeared to him and said, “Bring your hand and put it into my side.”  We are all sinners, but to us each, Christ offers mercy.

From that side into which Thomas placed his hand “blood and water” poured forth for the cleansing of souls and the realization of new life.  The institution of Baptism and the Eucharist had come, and so the Church is born from the side of its Savior.  And so all souls are justified; and so all souls find new life.  And so all of the “community of believers” become “of one heart and mind.”

This is Divine Mercy Sunday, so proclaimed by the Spirit who testifies through Holy Church, and that to which the Spirit testifies is truth.  God’s encompassing mercy our Mother and our Lord would have us celebrate this day – of that which Jesus thirsts to share with us, she and He would have us drink.  Let none be unbelieving.  Let none despair.  Let all be blessed to own that faith which “conquers the world,” that makes us “children of God.”  The Lord is ready to forgive men’s sins; He is desirous of this above all things.  He has given power to His disciples to forgive in His name…  Let all come and share in His mercy.

Let us love God and one another, my brothers and sisters.  Let us love the Father by accepting the grace that comes from His Son, and let us love one another by sharing that grace and mercy with everyone.  We keep His Word when we share in His mercy, when we swim in the ocean of love the water and blood from His side create.  And new life will be our own as it was for the first disciples; there is nothing lacking for “those who have not seen but believed.”  In fact, more blessed may we be now, for we must have the greater faith.

Forever the Lord’s mercy endures.  Every day it is poured forth.  And today we declare in truth its great graces, that all might be one in the Lord.

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

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

*******

O LORD, your risen Son stands before us

and calls us to touch His hands

and enter into the wounds in His side

that we might believe in Him and be cleansed of sin.

YHWH, Jesus is the Christ, your only Son: let us believe in the preaching of the apostles and become one in His Name.  May all have their sins forgiven, their doubt washed away in His blood, that all might declare with Thomas, “My LORD and my God!”

Jesus is God as you are God, O LORD, and we desire to be one with you by the grace and mercy that come to us through His death and resurrection.  If we had but faith in Him, we would conquer the world; all sin falls by the wayside when His Spirit is upon us, and we can but shout in victory at the glory in our midst.

O may His peace indeed be with us, the peace which passes not away, the peace that comes to us in the Breath of the Holy Spirit.  O LORD, let His nail marks be in our hands and His wound in our side that your love we might know to the depths of our souls.

Direct download: BC-041512-Divine_Mercy_Sunday_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 10:34a,37-43;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24;   Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8;  

Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35)

 

“Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins

through His name.”

 

“His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.”  With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.”  Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin.

Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin.  “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him.  To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.”  “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him.

Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there.  Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.”  Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace.  Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven.  And His kingdom shall not be removed.

Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children.  Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.”  Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament.  May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers.  Let us pray that all will believe.

 

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

 

Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised;

the tomb is empty

and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia!

YHWH, your Son has truly been raised.  Alleluia!  And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church.  Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory.  Alleluia!

Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us.  In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men.  Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom.

O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you.  O let us die and be raised with Christ!  Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised.  Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory.  Alleluia!

Direct download: Easter_Sunday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Gn.1:1-2:2;   Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22;   Gn.22:1-18;   Ps.16:5,8-11;   Ex.14:15-15:1;   Ex.15:1-6,17-18;   Is.54:5-14;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Is.55:1-11;   Is.12:2-6;   Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4;   Ps.19:8-11;   Ez.36:16-17a,18-28;   Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4;

Rom.6:3-11;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23;   Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12)

 

“He is not here.”

 

The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning.  What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.”

This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven.  “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament.  From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him.  Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy.

Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.”  And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.”  Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”  He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.”  We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.”  For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home.  And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.”

Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin.  And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.”  Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day.  Let us be children of this holy Light.  No longer in the tomb let us dwell.

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

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

*******

O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised,

and we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him.  It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said.  The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven.

You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our souls and raise us to you, even from the time of Creation.  And so you called Abraham to sacrifice his son; and so you led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Your Wisdom has been upon your people every step of our way that we might be wed to you in your eternal kingdom.

And now in the death and resurrection of your Son you fulfill your will among us.  And now we who are baptized into His death are raised to glory with Him.  Let it be declared to all, LORD, that the Christ is no longer in the tomb, but awaits us all in new life.

Direct download: Easter_Vigil_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.52:13-53:12;   Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46;   Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9;   Jn.18:1-19:42)

 

“He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”

 

Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross.  Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.”  Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.”  The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.”  And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven.  Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.”  Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’  And they struck Him repeatedly.”  But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God.

Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.”  Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.”  Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”  For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake.  “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.”  And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well.

“He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.”  The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds.  And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom.  And for this we call this Friday “good.”

 

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

 

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

*******

O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son –

may we look upon Him whom we have pierced

that our sins might be forgiven. 

YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away.  All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression.  Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death.

And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed.  This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory.  O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him!

There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest.  LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.

Direct download: Good_Friday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Ex.12:1-8,11-14;   Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6;   1Cor.11:23-26;   Jn.13:1-15)

 

“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”

 

For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord.  And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord.  “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”  As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit.

“How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy.  Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood.  And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes.

“He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.”  He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.”  And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles.  And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth.  And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day.

And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.”  Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be washed clean

in the blood of your Son,

and so protected from all harm;

let us live in His New Covenant,

eating His Body and drinking His Blood. 

YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name.  Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again.

In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood.  At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him.  Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross.  Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom.

He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!

Direct download: Holy_Thursday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Is.50:4-7;   Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24;   Phil.2:6-11;

Mt.26:14-27:66  or  Mk.14:1-15:47  or  Lk.22:14-23:56)

 

“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

 

“The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus.  “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly.  The sins of us all demand the death of the Son.  And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery.  And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him.  And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God.  “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.”  Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man?  Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God?  What more need you to believe?  O let His blood pour upon you!

Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him.  Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.”  Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.”  Let His blood pour upon your soul.

 

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

 

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

*******

O LORD, your Son humbles Himself

to die on a cross for us,

and we can but lay Him in a tomb –

how shall we be saved? 

YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men.  He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest.

All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone.  None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross.  No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse splayed upon the Cross.

O LORD our God, let us not fail to repent of our sin, of our crucifying the Son of Man.  Let us not fail to recognize who He is and what He has done for us in His Person and death.  This day let us partake of His Body and Blood that we might be taken with Him from the Skull place to your right hand in Heaven.

Direct download: Passion_Sunday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

“Behold, I come to do your will.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, make us all as your handmaid,

ready to do your will. 

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

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

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

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

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

(Jer.31:31-34;   Ps.51:3-4,12-15;   Heb.5:7-9;   Jn.12:20-33)

“Father, glorify your name.”

Jesus cries out in supplication to Him who is “able to save Him from death,” but He prays not to be saved from death, not to be saved from the sacrifice He must make, but only that in His death the Father might glorify His name.  His “hour has come,” He knows.  He hears from His apostles of the Greeks who seek Him, and He knows it is now time for Him to return to the Father and for His apostles to take over the work He has begun – to carry His salvation to the nations.  And though He is “troubled,” knowing “the kind of death He would die,” knowing that it is the only path to the Father, yet He does not ask to be saved “from this hour.”  His only desire is to fulfill the Father’s will by being “lifted up from the earth” in crucifixion and resurrection that He might “draw everyone to [Him]self” and to the glory in the Father He knows.

And of course “He was heard because of His reverence.”  Because His cry is sincere, is a laying down of His life in perfect humility and perfect love, the Father readily answers His prayer.  Even in “a voice c[o]me from heaven” He responds, speaking not for the sake of His Son – who needs no such assurance, who is dead to Himself and serves the Father perfectly – but for those whom the Son would save by His “fall[ing] to the ground” in death.  For them, for us, the Father answers, for this is the Son’s wish.

And if we are holy as He, we “all, from least to greatest, shall know” the Lord our God just as He knows Him – we shall have our prayers answered as readily as the cries of supplication of our Savior.  And so we shall be saved; and so we shall be preserved from death… and so we, too, shall glorify the Father’s name.  As the Lord listens to David when he cries out in his penitent psalm, so shall God come and make our hearts clean: so shall He come and write His name upon them as we cry out to Him.  And we shall be blessed as Jesus, and we shall stand just as steadfast.  Renewed in spirit, our offenses wiped out, we shall stand in the Son’s stead upon the cross and in the kingdom.

“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord, for it is the proof of your presence within me; it is the seal of your Son and His blood upon my soul.  By your Spirit I know I shall be protected from death; by His touch I am led to my salvation.  Father in heaven, glorify thy name in me as in thy Son.

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

Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (1st half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may we be made perfect as your Son

as we join Him in His sacrifice.

YHWH, the Cross of your Son is the source of our eternal salvation.  In His blood is written the New Covenant you promised your people.  For by His sacrifice our sins are removed and our hearts made new, that your Name might be written upon them.  Our sins are forgotten by you that we might remember your glory forever.

And we are called to lay down our lives with Him: where He is, so shall His disciples be.  And so, upon a cross we must find ourselves, a grain of wheat fallen to the ground.  If we hold to our lives in this world, what shall we do but die, LORD?  But if we hate the world and even our own lives, we shall find eternal life in you through your Son.

Jesus is our Savior.  In Him your Name is glorified, O LORD.  May your Name be glorified in us as well, as in His blood we are cleansed of our sin and joined to Him in your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-032512-Su_5_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

Mt.1:16,18-21,24a  or  Lk.2:41-51a) 

“I will be a father to him,

and he shall be my son.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

******* 

O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever.

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

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

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

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

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

(2Chr.36:14-16,19-23;   Ps.137:1-6;   Eph.2:4-10;   Jn.3:14-21) 

“By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept.”

For “practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple,” the people of God “were carried captive to Babylon.”  For all their “infidelity” they were forced to watch as “their enemies burnt the house of God [and] tore down the walls of Jerusalem.”  And so did their “tongue[s] cleave to [their] palate[s]” in a foreign land; so they “hung up [their] harps”; so their “right hand[s] [were] forgotten”…  They could not sing the praises of the Lord; they could not strum to His glory – all the works of their hands were stilled.  They could but weep in desolation.

So are we like them in our sins.  So do our transgressions silence our tongues and make us lame and ineffective.  So were we dead as these before Christ Jesus came to save us.  And as the Israelites were called back to the city of peace and entreated to build the Lord’s house there once again, as they found their release from exile by the king of Persia speaking in the name of God… just as these could enter in once more to the “song of the Lord,” so we now find our freedom from the chains which bound us, and to the Lord’s temple come proclaiming His gracious salvation.

No more should we cry, brothers and sisters.  No more should we sit idly as the streams of this world pass us mockingly by.  No, now we must come resolutely to the Christ of God, for the word has gone forth to the ends of the earth that all who love Him should come into His light.  “By grace [we] have been saved”; by the Lord’s immeasurable kindness we have been redeemed – in His love we must now sing our song.  “For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance,” and so our work must now be accomplished in Him.

“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”  And so “saved through faith” we must now bring before Him the offering of our lives.  There is no longer cause to hide.  There is no longer need to weep for our sin, to find the oppression of the world and the devil too much to bear.  No, the gates of Jerusalem are opened once again, and the Lord God has “seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”  Here in this light let us now find our home.  Here in His presence let us begin to live the Lord’s eternal salvation.  Our tears of weeping, with our condemnation, have passed.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us leave behind our sinful past

and come into the light of your presence.

YHWH, we were dead in our sins till you sent your only Son to save us, to bring us life by the grace upon Him.  Light has indeed come into the world, the light of Christ shining now in our midst.  Let us come to that light that we might escape the darkness into which we’ve fallen and be raised up to be seated with Him.

Jesus has been lifted up for our sakes, that all who believe in Him might have eternal life with you, Father, in Heaven.  Though our transgressions have been severe, you have mercy upon us still, and call us to faith in your only Son.  Though we have failed to listen to the prophets you sent to speak in your Name, let us not fail to heed the One in whom your love has come to perfection, the One who shares your own place on high.

No more can you love us than by sending us Jesus, and so, no further opportunity will we have to repent and return to you.  Let us live now in your truth and your light, that our works might be done in you. 

Direct download: BC-031812-Su_4_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Ex.20:1-17;   Ps.19:8-11;   1Cor.1:22-25;   Jn.2:13-25)

“The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.”

Is it not fear of the Lord, Jesus would instill in the people as He makes “a whip out of cords” and drives those who buy and sell out of the temple?  Is His great zeal not to purify His Father’s House of all corruption?  And will the Temple He will raise up not endure forever?

David tells us that “the law of the Lord is perfect,” and it is so; and so our worship of the Lord should be perfect as well – it should match the perfection of the Lord and His Word.  Thus does the Lord give us His commandments, to refine us in His light and make us like Himself.  Thus should we rest on the sabbath day as He has done, and indeed do all things according to His way, having “no other gods besides” Him.  He alone is worthy of our worship, and He alone is worthy of imitation.  His words alone will enlighten our eye.

And how do we know this “wisdom of God” except by the blessed presence of His Son?  And how do we know it most fully but in His crucifixion?  Here is the wisdom of God upon the cross, calling us to what is far beyond us – beyond this world and our lusts.  “Human nature” He knew quite well, assuming it in all but sin as He has, and so He knows it must be nailed to the cross if we are to gain redemption.  And what wisdom is greater than that which effects salvation?  To what greater place could we be led than the kingdom of heaven?

And “Christ crucified” reveals not only the wisdom of God but “the power of God” as well, for what makes the devils tremble more than our Savior on the cross?  What forces them to realize the vanity of their efforts to destroy man than to see Him dead, and know that He shall live again?  (And we with Him… and we with Him.)  “The weakness of God is stronger than human strength,” and here God’s weakness comes to full power.  And with absolute force it shall drive all evil from the world, and from our souls.

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” are the Lord’s prophetic words.  The Temple of His Body once destroyed now is made to last forever, for it can never be destroyed again.  Now that He is raised from the dead, death has no more dominion.  Purified of all darkness and sin is the kingdom; and in awe of the Lord’s humble majesty we come there with open eyes and hearts on fire, to dwell with Him in eternal life.

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

Music: "Nothing You Can Buy (The Spirit Is)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, if we join your Son in obedience

even unto death,

we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son has died to raise us all to new life; only His death could bear such fruit.  And should we not therefore put faith in Him, Him whom you have declared your Beloved?  Should we not thus come to a great love of you who have loved us so greatly?  And would we not then come to glory, the same glory He shares with you this day?

A sign you give to us this day, dear LORD, a sign of your eternal glory, a glory that comes to us by the death of Jesus the Christ.  And so, we should not be afraid of the death we must die, of the offering we must make of our lives in His Name.  For as we are joined to Him in sacrifice, so will we be joined to Him in your heavenly kingdom.

O LORD, bring many souls, souls as countless as the stars, into the land you promise us and which you bring to fulfillment in the death of your Son.  For this grace let us praise your Name forever in your House.

Direct download: BC-031112-Su_3_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Gn.22:1-2,9-13,15-18;   Ps.116:10,15-19;   Rom.8:31-34;   Mk.9:2-10)

“You shall offer him up as a holocaust

on a height that I will point out to you.”

“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,” the Lord instructs Abraham, calling him to sacrifice even as an animal his beloved child, upon whom God’s promise rests.  To a mountain he is led, with his son carrying wood in tow.

And arriving at the place God had told him to go, “Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it… and took the knife to slaughter his son.”  The angel comes to stay his hand, but Abraham is prepared to do as the Lord commands.

The Lord prevents Abraham from making this sacrifice because it is not his son who is to die; only the Lord’s Beloved could be offered as such a holocaust; only His Son is called upon to die.  “Christ Jesus it is who died,” no one else, for only His death brings life.

And on Mount Tabor today we see the life that will come by the Lord’s sacrifice; already we glimpse the rays of heaven.  Jesus is as engulfed in flames, holy fire of the most blessed holocaust; and – like the three young men in the furnace, like the bush before Moses on Mt. Horeb – by these flames He is not burned: by these flames His purity is made to shine.

How good indeed it is for these apostles to behold this blessed vision!  In it we all find hope that the death of Christ is not for naught, and neither shall our own death be.  For all who die in Christ, die as Christ, a death that brings only eternal life.  And so, comprehending here the majesty to which we are called, all disciples of Jesus, all children of the God of Life, are strengthened for all trial.

God “did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all,” not because He loved Him not, but because He loves us all.  And now “will He not also give us everything along with Him?”  Will He now seek to condemn those whom He has justified at such a massive cost?

“It is God who acquits us,” brothers and sisters, by the death of His Son.  And now “precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of [all] His faithful ones”; do not be afraid to serve the Lord.  For by your sacrifice, to a great height He will draw you, even as He has His Son, who “is at the right hand of God” this day.  With Abraham, He “will bless you abundantly.”

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

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

*******

O LORD, if we join your Son in obedience

even unto death,

we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son has died to raise us all to new life; only His death could bear such fruit.  And should we not therefore put faith in Him, Him whom you have declared your Beloved?  Should we not thus come to a great love of you who have loved us so greatly?  And would we not then come to glory, the same glory He shares with you this day?

A sign you give to us this day, dear LORD, a sign of your eternal glory, a glory that comes to us by the death of Jesus the Christ.  And so, we should not be afraid of the death we must die, of the offering we must make of our lives in His Name.  For as we are joined to Him in sacrifice, so will we be joined to Him in your heavenly kingdom.

O LORD, bring many souls, souls as countless as the stars, into the land you promise us and which you bring to fulfillment in the death of your Son.  For this grace let us praise your Name forever in your House.

Direct download: BC-030412-Su_2_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

“On this rock I will build my Church.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, as long as we remain in your House

we shall be secure,

for the faith of Peter will strengthen us. 

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

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

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

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

(Gn.9:8-15;   Ps.25:4-9;   1Pt.3:18-22;   Mk.1:12-15) 

“I set my bow in the clouds

to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

In times past God made a covenant with Noah and his sons once they had come from the ark “that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings,” that they and those who would descend from them, indeed all races of men, should experience such devastation no more.  And the sign of the rainbow He has given “for all ages to come,” that His covenant shall not be forgotten.

This promise is a reassuring one, even if not by water but by fire we know this earth shall yet be destroyed.  But a greater promise than this certainly we have, one for which this covenant is but a shadow.  For now we have “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.”  Through His resurrection from the dead He now shines in the firmament more brightly than any rainbow, and indeed in Him all races of men meet again and find their hope, not only that they shall not be destroyed from the earth, but that they shall know everlasting salvation in heaven.  Even “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark,” have this word preached to them.

“The kingdom of God is at hand.”  Yes, the salvation of the Lord has been set firmly in our hearts, even as the rainbow God set in the heavens.  He has remembered His “love” and “compassion” which “are from of old” and in His “goodness” has fulfilled them in His only Son.  Though Jesus has had to suffer death for our sakes, yet death is remembered no more as we gaze upon His resurrected form – as the bow after the rain, so does His glory shine after the death of this flesh.  And though the flood “prefigured Baptism,” yet Baptism in the name of the Lord and into His death and resurrection is so much more, for “it is not a removal of dust from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience” with which we are blessed now.

And so, brothers and sisters, let us find the “life in the Spirit” to which our Savior, come from the desert of our sin, now leads us.  Let us fix our eyes upon His resurrection glory, even as we experience the death of the body.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let your kindness and compassion

be fulfilled in our midst this day;

let us turn from our sins to walk with Jesus

on the way to you.

YHWH, your Son has come to suffer and die and be raised to new life that we might be led from our sinful state to union with you in Heaven.  Truly, your kingdom has walked among us in the Person of Jesus; truly, your kingdom is now at hand.  Like a bow in the clouds is His resurrection from the dead – let us keep our eyes fixed on Him that truly we shall enter your reign.

You are of compassion, LORD, and your love is from of old.  It is this love you would share with the humble, and so you call us to follow in your ways.  By repentance we shall come to you, and that we might receive this grace your Son cries out to our souls.  Let us follow Him on the way of the Cross that the new day shall be ours.

Your promise of eternal life is our treasure, LORD, our hope in a fallen world.  And you are faithful to your promise – in Jesus we shall never be destroyed.

Direct download: BC-022612-Su_1_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

“Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, you see what is hidden;

let there be in our hearts no sin

but only your heavenly presence. 

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

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

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

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

(Lv.13:1-2,44-46;   Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11;   1Cor.10:31-11:1;   Mk.1:40-45) 

“I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord,’

and you took away the guilt of my sin.” 

The leper in our gospel confesses his faults to the Lord when he says, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” for by these words he recognizes that “he is in fact unclean” – that he is a sick man in need of a physician.  And Jesus takes away the guilt of his sin when He responds, “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  For by a mere word from His mouth we are purged.

That the sinner should cry out his guilt is evident even in the ancient Book of Leviticus; it gives specific instructions for the actions of the leper, whose sin has made him unclean: “The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’  As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean.”  Here is a graphic representation of the way we sinners should present ourselves to the Lord.  Like the leper who cries to Jesus on his knees, we should never hide our sin from the Lord; our “guilt [should be] covered not.”  For the Lord indeed sees all things – nothing is hidden from Him – so we fool only ourselves if we attempt to hide; and He can’t heal us of our affliction if we do not come into His light.  We must come before Him in all humility for the poison upon our souls, and He will save us from our sin.

How sincere is the leper’s contrition to move the Lord to such immediate pity!  How pitiable indeed he is, as to a final hope for cleansing waters he comes with head bowed to the earth, his years of suffering evident in his shaking voice.  Whimpering like a dog he humbles himself before the Lord… and a tear we find in Jesus’ eye – inevitably He reflects our penitence in His grace.  Let your heart break before Him!  Bleed before the Lord who bleeds for you!  Expose your sores to His eyes and His light shall cure them all.

Finally, brothers and sisters, let us indeed “be imitators” of Paul, “not seeking [our] own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved,” that people will keep “coming to [Jesus] from everywhere” to find the healing of their “sore of leprosy,” to discover salvation from their sins.  For He does “will it” for everyone – the redemption of all He holds in His arms of sacrifice.  Let all souls show themselves to His priests; let all confess their sins openly, that reconciliation with God and one another all may know.  O Lord, take away the sin from my soul!  (Thank you for the sacrament you leave with us.)

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

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

*******

O LORD, take away the guilt of our sin

and return us to your fold

that we might declare your glory to all.

YHWH, let us not dwell apart from you but forgive us our sins and let us return to your presence.  Your Son leaves your side for a time to save us from our exile; may His sacrifice bring healing to all this day.

We are all unclean in your sight, O LORD; before you we come on our knees begging to be relieved of our guilt.  Heal the sore upon our souls, which would spell our death – stretch out your hand and make us clean.

How merciful is your Son, LORD.  How perfectly He reflects your compassion for the sinner.  He is moved with pity at our contrition; He shares our tears as His own.  O let all souls press upon Him for salvation!

And let us all reflect His love in all we do, giving glory to you in all things.  Let our tongues follow the confession of our faults with praise of your goodness…  Let us become as Jesus, LORD, laying down our lives that all might be saved and return to you.

Direct download: BC-021212-Su_6_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Jb.7:1-4,6-7;   Ps.147:1-6;   1Cor.9:16-19,22-23;   Mk.1:29-39)

“He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.”

In our first reading, Job is about as brokenhearted as a man could be, beset entirely by the devil’s trials as he is.  “Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” his complete loss of goods and family and his own health has come upon him.  And so he seems to see his days “come to an end without hope.”  More miserable a creature there could not be.

In our gospel we are told that “Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever” and that the people of the town in which Jesus found Himself “brought to Him all who were ill or possessed by demons.”  Surrounded is He with the afflictions man suffers, the weakness to which our fallen race is so prone.  It seems that all are indeed “brokenhearted” and wounded; as Simon Peter says upon finding the Lord praying in a deserted place the next morning: “Everyone is looking for you.”  All need so greatly the healing only He brings.

And He does heal all who come to Him.  As even before His birth into this world He served to set Job free from the clutches of Satan and grant him a new life which was beyond his hope; as Simon’s mother-in-law “He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up,” the fever fleeing His touch; as “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and He drove out many demons” from those gathered at the door of the house where He stayed… so He continues “preaching and driving out demons,” not only throughout Galilee and all of Judea and all of Israel, but to this day to the ends of the earth through His holy Church.

Our Lord has become “a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.”  Our weakness He has taken upon Himself to remove our weakness from us.  Our diseases, our darkness, our sin… our “months of misery” He has borne that He might heal us of all infirmities – that He might bind up our broken hearts.  Our salvation comes at the touch of His hand, at the breath of His mouth.  Let us rise and walk with Him, for the Dawn has come and His grace-filled blood is upon us.

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, drive the demons from our souls,

heal our broken hearts,

that we might rise and offer you praise

all the days of our lives.

YHWH, has your Son not made Himself weak for our sakes?  Has He not freely given His life to save us from sin?  Does He not bind up our wounds and cast all demons from our midst?  He heals the brokenhearted who cry out to Him – let us eagerly seek the touch of His hand.

We gather around your Son, O LORD, for He is the door that leads to your presence.  Only He can save us from the misery of this dark world and redeem our troubled souls, and so let us praise your goodness to us as we draw near to Him.

We are all sick, LORD, all in the grip of a fever from which there seems no escape.  The devil would have us believe the wickedness that surrounds us is eternal, but we know the night shall soon come to an end.  Your light has already dawned upon us in the presence of your Son; let the grace of salvation be fulfilled in our midst.

Direct download: BC-020512-Su_5_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Dt.18:15-20;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   1Cor.7:32-35;   Mk.1:21-28) 

“A prophet like me will the Lord, your God,

raise up for you from among your own kin.”

Thus does Moses speak to the people as he prepares to leave them, and they prepare to enter the Promised Land.  He prophesies most immediately the anointing of Joshua, who will take his place as leader of the Israelite nation and guide them into the holy land, as well as all the prophets who shall follow… but most especially, of course, he hereby prophesies the coming of the only Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will be raised up from among us, a man as we are, to be God in our midst.  No greater fulfillment of this promise could there be: no more real could God make His presence known to us.  Here on this earth He stands, and speaks.

Our reading from Deuteronomy makes clear the nature and role of the prophet; in this passage we see the inception of this gift, of this power God gives to man.  When the people begged Moses, “Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire anymore,” for fear of death after having witnessed the Lord’s most powerful theophany at Mount Horeb, the Most High answered them and promised instead, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.”  Here is the very definition of a prophet: one who speaks for God.  Out of a prophet’s mouth come the words of the Lord, not his own.

And what a Prophet is Jesus!  And, of course, so much more than a prophet – the only Son.  “For He taught them as one having authority”; His words of rebuke: “Quiet!  Come out of him!” cast out all unclean spirits…  His power is immeasurable as God’s power is immeasurable – all is in His hands and at the command of His voice.  For His words are not His own (though intimately His own); they are His Father’s.  He does only the Father’s will and so is the Father’s Son.  In them together the Spirit moves!  Upon all regions of the earth His Word goes forth.

“Oh, that today you would hear His voice,” brothers and sisters, and “bow down in worship before Him,” knowing who is here before you now and consecrating yourself entirely to Him.  Then you would but “sing joyfully” and be filled with “thanksgiving” as, free from sin, from all darkness – from all that is unclean – you come to full union with the promised One of all the ages and make your home in His heart, obedient to His blessed, protective commands, and so find yourself “free of anxieties” as you think only of “how [you] may please the Lord.”  Alleluia!  He has come.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us listen to your Son, Jesus,

who speaks with your authority.

YHWH, let us listen to your voice, O God, and the voice of your only Son, for with authority He speaks in your Name, greater than all the prophets.  He Himself is God, one with you before time, and so should we not bow down and worship Him; should we not heed His Word?  If we desire salvation, we cannot but listen to Him.

Why should we doubt Him who commands even the unclean spirits, whose word is as your own, LORD, able to bring the world into existence, or bring it to an end.  If we but trust in Him and listen to His teaching, this same authority we will share; nothing will be able to distract us from serving you and becoming as your Son.

Cast out all the demons from us, LORD, that we might be free to hear your voice clearly and worship you with a pure heart.  As we kneel before you and praise you for your Son, may we indeed become the flock He guides and so enter into your presence.

Direct download: BC-012912-Su_4_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, help us to believe

and so turn to your Son to be saved.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

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

 

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us by your light

to lay down our lives before you.

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

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

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

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

 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen,

just as it had been told to them.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, what blessing is upon us

this Christmas day! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

*******

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

make us innocent as these children. 

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

“They proved no match for the wisdom and spirit

with which he spoke.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, by your power we escape death

and find your glory. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

*******

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

and so let us offer you due praise.

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Today in the city of David 

a savior has been born for you

who is Christ and Lord.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

and so let us offer you due praise. 

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

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

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

for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

     and renew our languishing souls.

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

Music by Roger and Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, may our hearts stir to life

at the sound of Mary’s voice,

at the approach of your Son. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

to be holy and without blemish before Him.”

 

And she is the sign of such preservation from evil.

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

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

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

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

 

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

Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

the angel comes to Mary, and we rise –

in selfish disobedience we do the devil’s work;

in selfless obedience we serve you…

O let us be your children! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

he will prepare your way.” 

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

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

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

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

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

Music: "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 EDT

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

 

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

 

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us follow where the apostles lead,

for they follow in our Savior’s footsteps. 

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

 (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 EDT

 (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 EDT

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

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

 

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

and no torment shall touch them.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Everyone who has this hope based on Him

makes himself pure, as He is pure.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

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

as your saints have been made pure

in the blood of the Lamb. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

“You are fellow citizens with the saints

and members of the household of God.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be built into your House

with all your holy apostles. 

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

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

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

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

 (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 EDT

 (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 EDT

 (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 EDT

 (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 EDT

(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 EDT

 (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 EDT

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

 

“Through all the earth their voice resounds,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

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 EDT

 (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 EDT

(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 EDT

 (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 EDT

(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 EDT

 (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 EDT

 (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.