Published: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000
Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:13:09 +0000Copyright: James Kurt
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000O mighty messengers of the Lord, ministers of His will, bringing His word and His power to all poor souls on earth, you serve to lead us unto Heaven… you who do the bidding of God, you who are first among those who stand around His throne and sing His praise, you who are so faithful in defending His Kingship and keeping us from harm – cast the devil from our midst, instill the word of Jesus’ coming in our hearts, bring His healing to the lost sheep, and see that we join you on His holy mountain on high; carry us in your arms to the place the Savior prepares for us with you and all your army in His presence.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:00:00 +0000(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!
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:05:00 +0000O simple and devout layman, husband and father and clerk, suddenly you were forced to flee your homeland and family with your missionary companions, but death for the faith each one of you met without wavering upon disembarking in a foreign land – pray, O blessed martyrs, our faith shall be strong as your own, that should we be called to witness even with our lives to the faith which gives us life, we will be ready to enter eternity with Christ our Lord and Savior. If tortures threaten our bodies, too, intercede for us for grace, that the face of Jesus alone we shall look upon that day.
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O faithful ruler whose devotion served to bring your death, though you loved all your subjects, caring especially for the poor, and loved God and His Church above all, your care and your faith caused you to be killed by those so jealous and selfish – pray for us, good king, and for the rulers in our midst, that they will be inspired as you with a self-effacing humility and a desire for the truth of God’s way, giving their lives in service of the Lord and His people, not seeking their own gain. Pray the Mother of God guide all leaders and they turn to her in obedience, that the will of the Father shall be done and to this world His kingdom come by the blood of His only Son.
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Job 9:1-12,14-16; Ps.88:3,10-15; Lk.9:57-62) “Why, O Lord, do you reject me; why hide from me your face?” The cry of our psalmist certainly reflects that of Job, who in his travails asks, “How can a man be justified before God?” who realizes that the Lord “does great things past finding out” and that “should He come near [us], [we] see Him not.” But it also reflects Jesus’ treatment of those who might follow Him, and could easily be their cry as well. “If I appealed to Him and He answered my call, I could not believe that He would hearken to my words.” Such a seemingly hopeless attitude may be understandable in one suffering such a plight as Job. For he is as “the mountains [removed] before they know it”; he is shaken as “the earth out of its place.” He is as one suddenly confounded by God, who is “wise in heart and mighty in strength.” Before such power how can he speak, or expect to be heard? And so, rightly in silence he must remain. Certainly he could cry out to the Lord, “Will you work wonders for the dead?… Do they declare your kindness in the grave, your faithfulness among those who have perished?” and in justice be saved from “the land of oblivion.” But the test Job undergoes passes beyond justice to the suffering of the innocent before the mighty power of God. And what of those who would be Christ’s disciples spoken of in our gospel today? To them why does the Lord speak so severely? Why does it seem they, too, are unable to come before His face – why does He seem to reject them? Is He not of love, this Son of Man, unlike the judgmental God? Does He not welcome all with open arms? Then why such sharp words to those who approach and those He calls to “come away and proclaim the kingdom of God”? The Lord does not reject them, but puts them to the test as He has with Job to see if their hearts are truly set upon Him alone, as indeed they must be. It is, of course, for the great glory to which He calls them that all His disciples are chastised so vehemently. Think not that He rejects you, brothers and sisters, when He hides His face from you. Know that you are never hidden from Him, and that should He remove Himself from your presence, it is only to grant you clearer vision of His face. None is more blessed than Job for none has known so fully the awesome power of God and given himself over to it so completely. None but Christ and His followers, who give up all things, who suffer all persecutions innocently, silently, in order to know the surpassing might and tender mercy of God. Indeed His “wonders [are] made known in darkness,” for then they most clearly shine. ******* O LORD, let us follow your Son, even unto death. YHWH, we must give up all things to follow you; it must be your will alone we have in this world. Even if you should put us in darkness, yet we should defer to your judgment, to your power over all things for good. Your Son is severe with those who would follow you, LORD, who would be as you are, as His disciples. For what a call this is! And how ready must we be to enter its demands. Your reign far surpasses anything we know, anything we come to rely on in this world, and so the passing of this world – and even our own lives – we shall not mourn but learn to entrust all our cares to you. If the sun and the mountains are moved by you, LORD, how much more should we put ourselves in your hands. Our trust should be so complete that we accept even your seeming rejection. Hear our prayer and come to save us! that we might walk with your Son in your way.
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O blessed help of the poor, slave to widows and orphans and all those most outcast and in need, the least of Christ’s brothers you indeed gave your life to serve, completely spending yourself in their assistance and leading your own brother priests to do the same… and so Christ Himself you waited upon day in and day out upon this earth – pray that we, too, shall be like Jesus, filled with compassion for the needs of our neighbors, sharing their poverty as we empty ourselves as the Lord has done. May all our prayers and desires lead to such charity for the plight of others, that we might fulfill with you our Savior’s call to the Cross and come, therefore, to the riches of Heaven.
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Job 3:1-3,11-17,20-23; Ps.88:2-8; Lk.9:51-56) “My soul is surfeited with troubles and my life draws near to the netherworld.” After sitting in silence seven days, scraping the boils from his skin, finally, “Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.” Finally he cries out against all his troubles, asking, “Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” Only so much can mortal man bear, and so Job seeks now only the tranquility of death, wherein “the weary are at rest.” How well our psalm today describes Job’s state, he who is among those “whose path is hidden from them, and whom God hemmed in.” For he truly finds himself now “numbered with those who go down into the pit… a man without strength” from whom all blessing has been taken. His “couch is among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom [God] remember[s] no longer and who are cut off from [His] care.” And so he prays for an end to his misery; so he seeks the forgetfulness of death to remove its pangs from his body and his heart. And is it not these same pangs James and John would inflict upon the Samaritans who refuse to welcome Jesus: “Lord, would you not have us call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” Would they not plunge them “into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss” where Job sits in his innocence? Is it not right that God’s “wrath lies heavy” upon such as these? Let God’s “billows” “overwhelm” them, they declare. But Jesus has another answer. He would not see even the guilty suffer the fate of the righteous Job. For He is now “firmly resolved to proceed toward Jerusalem,” where His crucifixion awaits. He is now upon the fulfillment of His mission here on earth, and it has nothing to do with punishing the sins even of His persecutors – it has only to do with His death. It is He upon whom God’s wrath shall be heavy, He who will be plunged into the pit… He who will suffer all punishment for sin. Even for these Samaritans (even for you and me), the Lord shall suffer and die, taking upon Himself the punishment James and John see rightly due them, rightly due to all. His cross completes the pangs inflicted upon Job. And through this cross the troubles shall be overcome. Brothers and sisters, let us no longer cry for relief from our suffering, for that relief is at hand now in the cross of Christ; He has suffered all these things already, and we must but give them to Him to be drawn from the netherworld and set in His glory. ******* O LORD, let us be taken with your Son from this world of darkness and death. YHWH, save us from the dark abyss, from the nether world to which by our sin we come. Let us know that the price has been paid by your only Son, who has suffered all torments for us. In His sacrifice let us trust, and give to Him our cross. Truly, LORD, this earth is a dark place, and it draws us to a darker place, an eternal abyss, where is no light. From the grave how shall we be saved, we who are mortal and decaying, we who are surfeited with troubles, with the bitterness of this disobedient age? Does it not seem to us there is no escape. O let us not be forgetful of you, LORD, or of your love! Let us not forget that you have sent your only Son, to die not only for the righteous but also those who would cast Him out – His death means new life to all who offer Him their cross. How quickly He would take all darkness from us, how eagerly He awaits our turning to Him… O Jesus, lift all souls from the bottom of the pit; save us from the wrath we rightly deserve.
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O highly honored martyrs whose tomb drew many pilgrims and brought about many miracles, you laid down your lives as one in the Lord, taking up His bitter and saving cup of suffering all for your faith in Him and His Church, and so, precious in His sight was your death in His name – from beyond the grave pray for us this day, that the healing blood of Christ our Savior be poured upon our souls, that we too might be raised by His sacrifice, redeemed by the death He endured; for He has overcome the world, and you with Him in His blood. Pray that we who are so weak of faith may by the Lord’s grace and your intercession bear witness to Jesus by our own deaths upon the Cross with Him.
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Job 1:6-22; Ps.17:1-3,6-7; Lk.9:46-50) “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again.” In the beginning and in the end, we have nothing: and so should be our attitude toward all things we are given – that they are not our own, that we do not possess them… that they shall pass from us unto eternity again. As shall we all. In our first reading we begin to hear of Satan’s temptation of Job, of whom the Lord’s own words witness: “There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” But Satan in his jealousy responds, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” and recounts all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on His “servant.” The adversarial angel then wins from God permission to tempt Job by removing all his blessings. And the persecution is strong. All in a day Job loses all his multitude of livestock, his servants, and his children. Four messengers come, each with catastrophic news, each the sole survivor of the tragedy of which they speak, and each following the previous “while he was yet speaking.” In a moment all but his life is taken from Job. But Job proves God’s assessment of his character true by proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” thus properly putting all things in God’s hands, and praising His glory even in such tragedy. We are told, “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” He is as the child Jesus sits beside Himself in our gospel today. Satan has failed in his effort to get Job to curse God; he will not do so even at his wife’s prompting. But Job, so Christlike in his suffering the abandonment God’s Servant knows so fully upon the cross, shall fall short of the Christ in one respect: this innocent child will not be able to keep from decrying his state or withstand the accusations of others that he must be guilty of sin. He will not be able to suffer in silence, not opening his mouth to defend himself (taking this unwarranted persecution upon himself to redeem others, as Jesus has done) but will declare his “just suit” to the Lord, begging Him to “attend to [his] outcry,” saying with David in our psalm: “Hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” He shall not be able to keep from stating his innocence, from saying, “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night, though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.” And in this way Satan shall break him; in this manner he shall fall short of the perfect humility of Christ. (Though the Lord shall justify and reward his faithful servant in the end.) Brothers and sisters, do not act with jealousy, as even the disciples seem to today in trying to stop one “not of [their] company” from healing in Jesus’ name. Do not even think among yourselves of who is the greatest. This is an abomination before God. Have the attitude of Job toward all things – that they are but gifts from the Lord and that we are nothing in ourselves. Then you will be like His little child and so know His blessings forever. ******* O LORD, naked we came forth from our mother’s womb, and naked we shall go back again – our lives are in your hands. YHWH, let us be as an innocent child sitting patiently at the side of your only Son. Though the foe come to test our hearts, by your grace let us prove ourselves worthy of your blessings. Let us never sin against you in word or in deed but place all things in your holy hands and accept whatever befalls us. O LORD, let us never be jealous or proud; let us never imitate the sin of Satan, who would see your children falter, who would strike any against whom his envy might rise. Let us but seek to serve y[...]
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Amos 6:1,4-7; Ps.146:2,5-10; 1Tm.6:11-16; Lk.16:19-31) “Keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord is coming. First of all, know this. “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” will reveal Himself “at the proper time.” Shall come the end of this world and the birth of the new in the presence of our all-holy God. Do not doubt this. Do not question it in your hearts. But believe. Second, know the nature of our God. This our psalm makes abundantly clear: “The Lord gives sight to the blind” and “protects strangers… The fatherless and the widow He sustains, but the way of the wicked He thwarts.” And since “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down,” we must bow down and serve Him, bringing His love to this world; keeping “faith forever” we must give “food to the hungry,” showing His unending compassion to all those in need. Third, know the fate which awaits those who fail to adhere to His command of love, those who stain themselves with comfort and riches in a vain existence and have no heart for those who suffer now by their lack. As He prepares a place of refuge in Abraham’s bosom for those who “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness,” so a place is set for those “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” but who were “not made ill by the collapse of Joseph,” who have no regard for the destruction of God’s people – who step over and upon the poor lying at their doors as they pursue the fatting of their bellies. “A great chasm is established” between the redeemed and the condemned; as Lazarus had no way to enter the door of the house of the rich man, so he cannot pass now into the arms of God… only now that darkness without is eternal – his torment shall not end. It is popular to believe that Jesus somehow did away with punishment, that in His all-embracing love there is no longer need for justice, and so hell is no longer a factor. The “God of the Old Testament” is presented as the one of punishment with Him of the New conversely being of love. Brothers and sisters, they are one and the same God. And as in the time before Christ, the Lord forever showed compassion for the humble of the earth, so now Jesus shows condemnation to the wicked who refuse to turn from their ways. Only now the love and justice, which are also one, are made eternal by the coming of the end of the age in the Person of Jesus Christ. Continue to keep yourselves pure and serve the Lord – His Day is at hand. 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, let us make the poor man our brother, and we will know Jesus and so be with you. YHWH, you secure justice for the oppressed; the poor and the downtrodden you raise up even as you cast their oppressors into the bowels of the earth. The path of the righteous you indeed bless, but the way of the wicked you thwart. You confuse those who do not listen to Moses and the prophets, those who reject your only Son, for you are just and no man can own what he readily spurns. If it is the belly upon which we set our hearts, it shall grow fat and keep us from entering the narrow gate. If upon our own needs and wants alone we look, failing to see the longings of others or help them in their plight… we shall fail the test you place before us, and be unworthy to be called your sons, dear God. For you are kind and loving, O LORD, and care always for the hungry and tho[...]
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ec.11:9-12:8; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:43-45) “The dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.” “As a watch of the night” is our life, passing unnoticed while souls slumber. “You make an end of them in their sleep,” Psalm 90 prophesies (as we hear the same verses of this same psalm for the second time in three days); indeed man lies unaware of his coming death, ignorant of the day which passes. For though in our youth we “follow the ways of [our] heart, the vision of [our] eyes,” and seem to “ward off grief” at will, yet “the next morning [we] are like the changing grass”; so quickly does our flower fade. And so little of this do we see. In our gospel the Lord speaks again to His disciples of His imminent death, and so, really, the death we all must undergo; but though He makes a clear point that they should listen carefully, saying, “Pay close attention to what I tell you,” yet they seem unable to hear His words. Our gospel tells us, “They failed… to understand this warning; its meaning was so concealed from them they did not grasp it at all.” He repeats what He has said before in no uncertain terms, and yet they are deaf to His word; yet they are blind. How like us all the disciples are. When confronted with the coming of death how easily we shut our eyes. Though it draw upon us inevitably, how desperately we hold to the vanity of these passing things, unwilling to hear of the day when “the sun is darkened… and the strong men are bent… and the sound of the mill is low.” “Man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets” – so Qoheleth paints the image of the time when “the clouds return after the rain.” How compelling his verses are, and how ominous… and of this darkness we must hear. It is not wise to remain blind to the passing of this life, or with it we shall die when it ends. Though none of this should touch our souls, yet we must learn to let the body go. O Lord, “you return man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men,’” yet you hold each of us in your loving hands. And so we cry unto you this day, “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” For we wait with expectant hearts for Him who has risen from the dead to come to us again. Let your Spirit breathe upon us now and turn this dust into the image of your Son. May it be your Day which comes to us, even as we die. ******* O LORD, we conquer death through the death and resurrection of your Son – be with us as we wait for His return. YHWH, death comes inevitably to all. It draws near to us like the setting sun. We are mortal, the subjects of our own sin. And so to dust we return. But your Son has subjected Himself to this death of ours, LORD; He has undergone its torments. In our place He has stood, and been broken for our sakes. He who lives with you in eternity has been delivered into the hands of men and suffered the darkness upon their souls. And so, may we not be born again? O Jesus, you have overcome the darkness with your unending light; you have come to rescue us from falling into the well, that the clouds might not return again after the rain but that we might know new life with you in the morning after this world passes away, in the glory of your coming Day. Help us, O LORD, to overcome our fear, to conquer the bonds of this dark place and our own mortality. Let this not be our lasting home, but raise us to your presence that even this day we might rejoice in you.
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O holy priest who bore the wounds of Christ in your hands and in your ministry, who served the Lord so greatly in casting out many demons in your confessional, and whom He thus blessed with miracles of the Spirit – pray for us of lukewarm faith who falter day to day in following our dear Jesus’ path. So close to Him you were in His suffering and His love; so far are we from His Cross and so His grace. Pray we shall be strengthened to approach Him and find healing for our weakness, the frailty of our souls which keeps us from knowing the Christ and laying down our lives for Him as He calls, as you have done… O pray His blood be upon us!
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ec.3:1-11; Ps.144:1-4; Lk.9:18-22) “He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts.” Yes, “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens”; and there is a time for time to cease and the timeless to come to the fore – a time for the things above the heavens. And that fullness of time has come upon the earth, for the Son of Man has known His “time to be born”; and in man’s discovering “the work which God has done,” no time for vain toil is there anymore. The time has come to make Him our “refuge and [our] fortress,” our blessed “rock” of truth. “One day when Jesus was praying in seclusion and His disciples were with Him,” the time had come for Him to “put the question to them”: “Who do you say that I am?” And now it was Peter’s “time to speak,” to declare the faith of the Church: “The Messiah of God.” And though it was not then time “to tell this to anyone,” for the Son of Man had yet to know His “time to die,” soon the time would come for the Son to rise, and then there would be no more “time to be silent.” That time has come upon us now, brothers and sisters. Now is only “a time to plant” and “a time to build” – a time to raise the kingdom of heaven here on earth, a time to labor to complete God’s Church. For timelessness now has its time; life eternal overtakes us. And so we have only “time to love,” having broken the wheel of sin by the sacrifice of Christ and so come out from under the shadow of hatred. No return to the vanity of the things of this world is there for us, for we must do all as if doing nothing. It is true: “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow,” but it is also so that the Lord “take[s] thought of him.” And in this earthen vessel He has placed the Spirit of life – and that Spirit is now known in full in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is “time to embrace” Him and know the “time of peace” He breathes eternally upon His creatures, letting all shadow pass away as we walk in His holy light and proclaim His holy name. ******* O LORD, your timelessness let us know in our hearts, that we might overcome the world through your Son. YHWH, in the fullness of time you sent your Son to die at our hands that we might be raised up with Him. And now that He has died for our sins, a new time has come to your people – a time of salvation. All time pointed toward Him and all time flows from Him, and all time is in Him who is all that is. O LORD, let us make our home in Him and in His resurrection. You are timeless, O LORD and God, and so how can we poor creatures so bound to time, so subject to the dust of this earth, come to know you who are beyond the heavens? We could never have discovered your hand at work among us if you had not sent your only Son to redeem us and reveal to us your glory. And so, let us embrace this gift you offer that we might mourn and weep no more but rejoice ever in your presence, despite the Cross that comes. Let us be raised on the Cross with Him that we might be raised unto His eternal reign.
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ec.1:2-11; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Lk.9:7-9) “See, this is new!” Here is He who is “new under the sun.” For it is not so that “John has been raised from the dead,” nor that “one of the prophets of old has arisen”: He has not “already existed in the ages that preceded us.” He is the Christ! He is the Messiah! He it is who has come to “fill us at daybreak with [His] kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.” In Him the dark of the night veiling our eyes is banished from our midst. O Herod, drowning in your debauchery; O Qoheleth, pursuer of your passions in all their vanity, why do you race to catch up with the sun as if it should stand and wait for you? What makes you think you could hold the wind in your hand? Why would you see end of the rivers’ path to the sea? Why do you toil so blindly, taking your refuge in created things and frustrated when you cannot control them to your own ends, when they betray the peace you seek? “Back to dust” you shall indeed return, and the sun and the wind and the sea still stand; and above them all does reign our God, for whom “a thousand years… are as yesterday, now that it is past.” In Him you should have taken refuge. Herod, do you too now begin to see the ends of your debauchery; does its emptiness now overtake your soul? Do you remember the words the prophet delivered to your ears? What is the cause of your curiosity, and will you listen now to the voice echoing through your halls? The kingdom of the world crumbles before our eyes and no “profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun,” unless it is the Lord who “prosper[s] the work of our hands for us.” Dead we are and alone will ever be in our profligacy, the emptiness upon us. Qoheleth, your words are proven wrong: it is not so that “there is no remembrance of the man of old,” for we read your thoughts with diligence today; and three thousand years after your time you teach us still of the dark vision of life without the Christ. And of Him who has come after thee there is great remembrance, and more than this, for His breath is now upon us. In Him is “the ear filled with hearing” and the eye “satisfied with seeing,” for now truth and light do walk with us, even under the sun. And though our body “by evening wilts and fades” as of old, our soul “at dawn springs up anew.” For “the gracious care of the Lord [is] ours” and He “teach[es] us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And this wisdom is true; this wisdom is new: this wisdom bears us light to transcend the vanity of a worldly life and come to the kingdom of heaven. ******* O LORD, your Son is He who makes all things new – let us live and work in the light of His presence. YHWH, your Son is new under the sun; into our midst He has come. May we be more than anxious to see Him: may we be made new in Him. In days past, LORD, the world and men toiled in futility for their sin against you, for their separation from you. You were ever new and ever calling us to life in you, but we labored in vain, going our own way – the way of darkness that leads to death, the way that is indeed apart from you. Return all souls to your light, your life, known to us now in your only Son. You reign over all, LORD our God, all of time is but a moment to you and all the world is as a speck of dust. Have pity on us, LORD, for we are quick to wilt and fade. At daybreak may we rise with Jesus and walk in the light of your new day, dwelling forever in your reign, living and working always in your presence.
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000O faithful apostle who so readily answered the call of the Lord, leaving your station in this world to follow in His footsteps and so find your place in Heaven, who even with these first steps brought others to the Christ as you opened your heart as well as your home to Him and to the least of His brothers – pray, dear brother through whom the Spirit has spoken, that we too shall follow Jesus and so find His grace and mercy, and so find our way to the Father. Pray our hearts will ever be so open to hear His voice and invite Him in to our table, where He may eat and speak with us, feeding us with His presence. And pray we may be blessed as you in drawing others to the Word, our God, till all are one in His Body.
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 07:00:00 +0000(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.
Mon, 19 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O blessed, holy martyrs who won for yourselves the crown of salvation by your undying faith in God, who cherished well the prize of persecution the Lord offered your souls, who stood fast despite the death that raged around you – pray we shall know as you that all the hairs of our head are numbered by God and in His all-embracing providence He has care over us all, that we might stand as strong in our little trials and sufferings as you did before the face of the executioner. To all people be a witness to the faith that reaches ever unto Heaven.
Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Prv.21:1-6,10-13; Ps.119:1,27,30,34-35,44; Lk.8:19-21) “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.” Our readings today are filled throughout with one line pearls of wisdom culminating with Jesus’ above instruction in our brief gospel. And though each individual proverb or paean to the command of the Lord seems a separate entity distinct from the others which surround it, in fact, all speak of the same sword of truth that separates the way of the wicked from that of the just. In even thousands of proverbs there is but one word – that we must be hearers and doers of the word of God. “Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases Him, He directs it.” Oh that such blessed obedience could be all our own! Oh that we would follow Him so perfectly, for “happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”; and they become as His only Son. “To do what is right and just” must be our constant aim, our eternal prayer. “Lead me in the path of your commands,” we must beg of our God, for in it alone we know the light of His grace; in His way alone we find all our “delight.” Only in observing His decrees, walking in His love, do we become brother and sister and mother to the Christ. For the wicked shall not enter His embrace, shall not be counted among His family. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart” the Lord will not countenance, for “the tillage of the wicked is sin” and with sin the Holy One has no relation. Thus we may be certain “there is One who brings down the wicked to ruin.” As grandiose as his plots may seem and as adamantly as he may pursue them with “a lying tongue,” he is but “chasing a bubble over deadly snares” and shall be caught in the trap he himself has laid. “When the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge”; he draws ever closer to the light of the Lord as he drinks in His Word. Let us be as those who “meditate on [the Lord’s] wondrous deeds.” Let us beg Him with our psalmist: “Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.” When Jesus speaks let us be quick to listen and follow in His way, that truly we may become His blessed family, one in the Church modeled by the Mother of God. ******* O LORD, open our ears to hear your Word and walk in your way. YHWH, if we are haughty of eye and proud of heart, how can we know you and become one with you? You are holy and only those who strive for holiness walk in your way. Help us, LORD, to be as your Son and follow always your blessed commands. O LORD, let our hearts ever be directed by your hand; let our obedience be such that we simply go as your guide led ever by your Spirit. In your Son there was no question as to what should be done or whether He should do good or ill – He did nothing of His own will but only yours. Help us to be perfect as He in living your Word, in embodying your truth. Then we shall be brothers to Him, for then you shall be our Father. Let us be made in your image, LORD, doing what is right and just in all things. Your law of love let us observe – let us thirst for your wisdom and knowledge. Nothing let us desire but to be one with you and your only Son. Then we shall be blessed as His Mother.
Sun, 18 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O protector of your sheep, you laid down your life for them, giving your blood for the service of souls that all might witness the surpassing love of the Lord and the glory that awaits those who die in Him – pray for shepherds who feed their sheep, not lording it over them or seeking what gain they might find for themselves, taking the milk and wool of their flock and leaving them naked and lifeless… but living the call of Christ as you, dear shepherd, have done. Pray those who govern God’s Church will be ready even to die for Him and the people they serve. Let all be protected by the blood of the Lamb.
Sun, 18 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Prv.3:27-34; Ps.15:1-5; Lk.8:16-18) “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just He blesses.” Light fills the house of him “who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue,” for he who does these things is as light itself, having no part with darkness. He knows that “to the Lord the perverse man is an abomination,” and so he “env[ies] not the lawless man and choose[s] none of his ways” but chooses always the way of God and so finds the “friendship” of the Lord which is with “the upright,” which is as light shining upon him and through him. As for the wicked, “he who has not will lose even the little he thinks he has,” for the Lord is not with him; and all he has gained by “usury” and by “bribe[s] against the innocent” shall be revealed in all its emptiness on the day the Lord shines His encompassing light – he will indeed be left with nothing, for nothing he truly has. He who has “plot[ted]… evil against his neighbor” and “quarrel[led]… with a man without cause” will never be able to stand in the light of the Lord, for he has made his home in darkness, and in darkness he shall remain. Certainly this “reprobate is despised” by the Lord, for his rebellion puts him in opposition to the kingdom of God. And so we must “take heed, therefore, how [we] hear” the Lord’s instruction, for His instruction is as light itself and brings the light of salvation to the receptive soul. This light we must make our own and place it “on a lampstand so that whoever comes in” – whoever approaches the house in which we dwell – “can see it” and can share in it freely. All shade of sin must be removed from our souls so that without hindrance and without hesitation our light will shine forth and all will know the abiding love of the Lord. “He who does these things shall never be disturbed.” He who does these things, who reflects the Lord’s justice and love all his days, cannot but be blessed by the Lord, for he himself becomes His own. “When He is dealing with the arrogant, He is stern, but to the humble He shows kindness.” And so, having his deeds “brought to light” is as a curse for the wicked, but to the just it means eternal blessing. ******* O LORD, all is known in your holy light: help us to do good and avoid evil. YHWH, let us walk blamelessly before you; in innocence let us dwell. Let us not turn to the paths of the wicked but remain ever in your light, walking always in your way. Then we shall be blessed with your presence. LORD, all shall be exposed in your holy light; from you none can hide. And so, let us not be afraid to do your will with confidence, with faith in your protection and guidance. Let us not shy away from shining your light with our very lives, for in this way we shall be kept from straying. Those who stray, O LORD, you condemn. Those whose hearts are hardened against you walk the path to perdition, and so as long as they continue to travel in sin, their destruction is assured. For darkness has no place in your kingdom of light, and those who proudly persist in their sin cannot but be cast from your presence. But let us do no harm; let us honor you by thinking and speaking only truth and remaining ever humble before you.
Sat, 17 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Amos 8:4-7; Ps.113:1-2,4-8; 1Tm.2:1-8; Lk.16:1-13) “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” This world and the things of it are not our own; we are children of heaven. Yet we are here amongst these things which are foreign to us. And so, what should we do? With all the Lord puts in our hands as we pass through this generation we must honor God. Though in the world of mammon, we must use it to serve our God in heaven. Thus we shall prove ourselves worthy to enter into that kingdom which is above, which is our true home. This call is stated simply in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “On earth as it is in heaven” – we must bring the kingdom of God to bear in this place we find ourselves. In our first reading, Amos makes clear what our attitude should not be with regard to the riches or power we may find at our disposal. We must never “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.” We must never reflect the greed of these merchants who cannot wait for the sabbath, the Lord’s Day, to end, that they might satiate their thirst for wealth, and this by dishonest means. The Lord will condemn such pride and avarice. In our second reading, Paul gives a clearer idea the manner in which power should be employed in his exhortation to prayer for those in position of authority. God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,” and if our kings seek to maintain peace in the world, they will save not only themselves, but provide ground for others to come to God. Again, all that is given us, be it riches, power, wisdom or strength, must be given over to service of the Lord. We must be as He “who gave Himself as ransom for all” in His teaching, in His healing, indeed, in the laying down of His very life. And so, if we ourselves are teachers, we must be as Paul and do so “in faith and truth,” without any deceit. And when we offer prayers, we must always lift up “holy hands, without anger or argument.” In our prayer should always be forgiveness of others. In our gospel parable Jesus illustrates and commends not deceitful dealings with others’ wealth, but to be wise in what is given us, to turn the riches of this world against the prince of this world (Satan), and use them for the good of the kingdom. Even in these things which are the devil’s we must work to serve our Master in heaven. And so we feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we pray for those in power, that the Lord who is “high above all nations” and whose glory is “above the heavens” might stoop down to us and through us fulfill the mission of Christ; for “He raises the lowly from the dust, from the dunghill He lifts the poor.” And we must do the same to find our place with Him in heaven. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Asylum Paradox" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us serve you alone with all that is at our hands. YHWH, help us to be trustworthy in the very small matters of this dishonest world, with the wealth that passes so quickly away. This is not our world, but your world we must reveal to this place; if we do not reflect your glory now, how can we be called children of your light? And so we pray for all souls, that they will turn from the oppression wrought by their greedy hands and acknowledge you as God Most High and your Son as their Redee[...]
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O wise doctor whose intellect served well in defense of the Church and her teachings, who bore well the light yoke of Christ that leads to eternal life and shepherded your flock in following you along this path of our Lord – speak to us this day your words of grace that the souls of all within the Church’s gates might be founded well on the truths of the faith and on the love of God. Pray we shall be wise as you in knowing the way the Lord marks out for His sons; pray we shall have shepherds so blessed with His light that all shall be saved from the wolves about and remain secure in the Father’s arms.
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.15:35-37,42-49; Ps.56:10-14; Lk.8:4-15) “Just as we resemble the man from earth, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” It is not difficult to recognize our earthly bodies. They are with us always, and make themselves known in the “weakness” that befalls us. Adam’s sin is upon us his children and reminds us always that we are human, of the earth. But as we know this body of the earth so “subject to decay,” so “ignoble” in itself, so we should know the “spiritual body [that] comes up” as this “natural body is put down” by us. Here is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching that we must lay down our lives, that we must die to this world to be raised up in His presence. For the earthly form we know so well by the weakness and sin inherent in its confines we must set aside, not nourish in its passions, that ever the Spirit might take shape in our lives… that we might take on the likeness of Christ. And so even our corrupted nature may bring growth and fruit of great significance when we sow it in the ground, when we place it back whence it has come. In this death is life. “A farmer went out to sow some seed.” This farmer is, of course, Jesus, the spiritual Man who casts seed of the Spirit for all waiting hearts to receive and nourish to growth as a “full-blown plant” in the Father’s light. If we heed the Word He proclaims to us with exclamation, if we become ourselves as “the seed sown on good ground,” given rebirth in the Gospel of Christ, resurrection of our weakened form we will know; even now it shall begin to mature within us. But if we are empty as “those on the footpath” or rootless as “those on rocky ground” or stifled as “the seed fallen among briars,” how then shall we escape the natural body and its corruption and reach up to the kingdom of heaven? It cannot but be that we shall die – and in this death there will be no resurrection to life. O brothers and sisters, let us be as David, who declares in faith, “Now I know that God is with me” and asks with such confidence, “What can flesh do against me?” How indeed can the flesh hold us down, pressed to the earth though it may be, if we have God’s Word in us growing so surely? In God let us “trust without fear,” and on the day of full growth, when this “earth formed from dust” has died completely and the Man of Spirit has His kingdom revealed, we shall rejoice with David and sing: “You have rescued me from death… that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” Then the Spirit so real we shall know. ******* O LORD, let your Word take root in our hearts and grow unto your heavenly kingdom. YHWH, let your Word be firmly planted in our hearts; let us bear fruit unto Heaven. Let us be raised with your only Son and walk in the light of your presence. Let us be men of the Spirit. Your Son comes casting seed upon this earth, dearest LORD. He seeks to plant your Spirit within our souls. O let us have ears to hear His Word! Let us have hearts open to His call. Why should we wish to die in sin? Why would we be subject to decay as our natural bodies? Should we not rather put on the body of Jesus and be thus spiritual men? O may we bear the likeness of the Man from Heaven! Let us have no fear, LORD, as we grow with Jesus; let the flesh hold no sway against our coming to you. Help us to lay down our bodies that our spirits may rise and we may make our home in your eternal light. Open our eyes in your presence.
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O brothers in Christ, in death and in life you gave yourselves as one for the sake of the flock; for the cause of the faith readily you shed your blood to serve the growth of God’s Church – pray we today will be zealous as you in defending the faith with our lives; by fasting and by prayer, by standing courageously before the courts of the world and offering our flesh in sacrifice, may we imitate you who imitated Christ and so come with all our brothers to His resurrection and life. Shepherd us well even this day from where you now stand at the Lord’s side, that we might be unafraid to speak and to live the truth in undying love. O let us lay down our lives with you!
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.15:12-20; Ps.17:1,6-8,15; Lk.8:1-3) “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” This is the heart of our faith. This is the “Good News,” the Gospel preached in our midst. This is our firm belief. Upon it all our hopes stand. Christ has been raised, and His disciples will follow Him. As surely as we accompany Him here in His mission on earth, so surely will we find ourselves in His presence in heaven. Dying in Him means rising in light. But “if our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men.” We could then be said to have truly wasted our time, for then the very heart of our faith would have been torn out, and what but scoffing would we have to hold? A dead Christ we would carry in our arms, and we “the deadest of the dead” with Him. Paul speaks of this quite pointedly; he pulls no punches in this regard, declaring openly: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too.” Yet there are those today, as then, who “say there is no resurrection of the dead,” that “Christ was not raised” – and these would call themselves Christian. And in the same manner there are many who do not truly believe the resurrection, yet wear the Christian nametag. If we have doubt in our hearts, or, worse yet, if we preach against the core of the faith, what do we do but kill ourselves? What do we do but work against the very Gospel of Christ? And how then do we merit the name of Christian? Brothers and sisters, we must know in our hearts and be assured that Jesus is risen from the dead. We must realize that God has “attend[ed] to [David’s] outcry,” that He has “hearken[ed] to [his] prayer” – that the most urgent longing of our souls has been answered by the “savior of those who hope in [Him].” With David, we of faith should say with his resolve: “On waking, I shall be content in your presence.” Has the resurrection not been indicated in the “women who ha[ve] been cured of evil spirits and maladies” and who now accompany Jesus? Does not Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven devils had gone out,” give clear example of hope in Christ fulfilled? For she is not at all as she was, and this woman once so completely possessed by death itself is the first to see the Lord risen. We must know the resurrection in our lives on earth; this is the only way we will comprehend it in heaven. Release from sin allows us to see already the eternal fruits of the kingdom. Accompanying Him now, our sins behind us, already upon heaven’s road we tread. And we know of a certain we shall pass through these “towns and villages” even unto His kingdom. ******* O LORD, your Son has been raised from the dead; may we be raised with Him and be at your side. YHWH, your Son is raised from the dead for us that we might enter your glorious presence. Though in the shadow of the wings of the Cross on this earth we make our home, it but prepares us for the kingdom. For even here our sins are taken away, and we come to new life in the Spirit. We cried out to you, O LORD, and you heard our voice and sent your Son to walk among us. And if we follow in His steps we shall come to where He leads – we shall come to you. The path He trod must be our own, for it is the way of salvation. [...]
Wed, 14 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O sorrowful Mother whose heart was pierced by a sword, who stood at the foot of the Cross dying in spirit as your Son died in the flesh… Jesus was sent to suffer and die for our sins, and how intimately you shared in the profound pain He carried about all His life; how preeminently you filled up what was lacking in His suffering, suffering the whole Church must share with our crucified Lord – pray we shall indeed enter into the sacrifice of Christ your Son, following in your wake, O Mother of God; pray we shall meet Him along His Way of Sorrow that His blood upon our souls will carry us to Heaven, where you stand at His side.
Wed, 14 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.15:1-11; Ps.118:1-2,16-17,28; Lk.7:36-50) “I am the least of the apostles.” Brothers and sisters, “little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” And it is in the sweet tears of repentance that we discover the love held in the merciful heart of the Lord. Paul speaks the truth of himself when he claims that he does “not even deserve the name” of apostle because he has “persecuted the Church of God.” “But through the favor of God” he has “worked harder than all the others,” preaching the Gospel of the Lord. As small as he is and as undeserving as he is, so great is the Lord’s blessing upon him. In the measure he recognizes his sin, the Lord pours His grace into him, and through him to others. And what grace pours forth through the woman in our gospel today! In her we see our own encounter with the Lord. Here is she who is “known in town to be a sinner” standing and kneeling in tears before her God. And the Lord knows well “who and what sort of woman this is that touches Him – that she is a sinner,” and He knows well, too, her repentant heart. While the others at table see neither their own sin nor the woman’s repentance, He allows Himself to be touched by both (her sin and her repentance) – it is for just such a moment as this He has come. And how well the Lord speaks the truth in His detailed description of the woman’s repentance; how well we see His love reflected in her… and how blest is she to hear these words for which every heart does long: “Your sins are forgiven.” And how her tears increase at this word come forth from the mouth of the Holy One. And so, while the others argue blindly among themselves, He reaches out His hand, touches her face, and whispers to her soul: “Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace.” “O my God, I extol you… You have been my savior.” Indeed, your “mercy endures forever,” and now I know that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the song the woman must sing; this is the song of St. Paul. This is the song of every soul redeemed by the love of the Lord. So let us all “stand firm” in the Gospel preached to us by those who have seen Him, from Peter to this wretched Paul; we “are being saved by it at this very moment if we retain it” in its purity. And here is the Word simply put: “That Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures; that He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.” What grace is ours, we the least, we poor sinners – we who know the greatness of His love. ******* O LORD, let us have faith in your Son and in His sacrifice for our sins; on our knees in love let us come to Him, and we shall find His mercy. YHWH, how can we see you if tears of repentance do not fill our eyes? How will your mercy be known to us if we do not come on our knees before your Son? If we love but little we shall be forgiven little, and our sins will continue to blind our eyes. Have mercy on us, O LORD, we are all burdened with debt we cannot repay. But you hear our prayers, you have pity on our poor, sinful souls, and you reach out your hand to touch our hearts, to relieve the burden we carry by the sacrifice of your Son. Thank you, LORD. We praise you for[...]
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 07:00:00 +0000(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[...]
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O you of golden tongue, how well you proved the Word of God cannot be chained; how well you revealed its radiance to our ears and hearts… unconquered by threats of death and the sufferings the world imposes, you proclaimed the glory of God and His presence with us until the very end – pray, O dear shepherd, who held your flock so close to your heart that they became one body with you in Christ, that we all shall be so willing to lay down our lives, speaking and walking in the Word the Lord gives us to share with all our brothers in light. Pray indeed God’s will be done in all His holy children.
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.12:12-14,27-31; Ps.100:1-5; Lk.7:11-17) “A great prophet has risen among us.” A great prophet, yes, and so much more; for here is He who is Himself the “one body” upon whom the “one Spirit” rests, and in whom all find their home. “The body is one and has many members; but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ.” Christ is all things: He is apostle sent by the Father, prophet speaking for God, teacher instructing all on the narrow path that leads to heaven, miracle worker raising the dead, healer of body and soul causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see, assistant washing the feet of His disciples, administrator apportioning the gifts and graces which are His own, and speaker in tongues upon whom the flame of the Spirit eternally rests and whose Word goes forth to all nations. We are not all apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, and speakers in tongues – but He is. He is all these things for He is whole; He is the only Son of God, and we are “His people, the sheep of His flock” who share in His power according to our baptism in His Name. And so should we not “sing joyfully to the Lord” for the Savior who has been raised from among us? Should not all “lands,” all members of His blessed body “serve the Lord with gladness,” that all might tend to the glory of God? In our gospel “a considerable crowd of townsfolk were with” the widow, and “a large crowd accompanied” Jesus. These met at “the gate of the town” called Nain. When the Lord raised the son of the widow from the dead, “fear seized them all and they began to praise God.” Is not this scene of celebration like that which should encompass the body of Christ? Should not such joy in recognition of the greatness of God course through all our veins, strengthening all our muscles? For we know more than they. We know this Man is more than a prophet – we know it is the Messiah who is among us. And so, let us “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise” as we “set [our] hearts on the greater gifts” at work within us now as members of the body of the only Son. Alleluia! He raises us all from the dead to speak in the power of the Spirit. ******* O LORD, let us be raised from the dead to live in you, ever praising your NAME. YHWH, in your Son we approach the gates of Heaven; as His Body we become your own. Sheep of your flock let us ever be – let us enter the New Jerusalem. O LORD, raise us from our litter, from the bed of death to which sin has brought us. The hand of your Son touch us this day, His voice let us hear speaking to our ears, that we might be filled with your Spirit and rise from our graves to praise you, to give witness to your glory dwelling in our land. Alive in you let us ever be, O LORD. The blood of your Son let course through our veins. In His Body let us make our home, as His very members. Then we shall remember you; then we shall enter your courts with praise and ever give thanks to your holy NAME. Let us do your will, O LORD, your work on this earth. As Jesus your Son, let us live out our days, bringing His Word and His teaching to everyone.
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O Mary, sweetest of creatures, whose name on our lips brings joy to our hearts… inflamed with love toward God and you we become in speaking your blessed name – pray we shall call your name, dear Lady, in our time of need, that you will be quick to intercede with your Son for our salvation. Washed in the water from His side and in His holy blood, pray we shall rise above the sea, beyond all rebellion, that obedient as you, His Handmaid, we shall find favor with the Lord and enter into Heaven, our names written beside your own in the Book of Life, dearest Mary.
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.11:17-26,33; Ps.40:7-10,17,1Cor.11:26; Lk.7:1-10) “Just give the order and my servant will be cured.” By a word from His mouth what cannot be done? For those who have faith this is all that is needed. Listen, brothers and sisters, to the centurion’s explication of “the meaning of an order”: “I say to one, ‘On your way,’ and off he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Do you see faith at work? Do you understand the power of a word? And if a mere centurion in the Roman army possesses such power and gains such loyalty by his commands, do you think the Lord’s words shall fall short or His servants be found lacking in obedience? “I am not worthy to have you enter my house” are the words the centurion speaks to Jesus before our quote for the day, and they are of course the phrase we utter just before we receive the Lord in Holy Communion. That same sacrament of Communion is described for us by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians; he tells us of the Christ’s words and actions upon its institution “on the night in which He was betrayed.” “This is my body,” Jesus says; and, in Paul’s phrasing, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” And so do we partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood even as we remember His sacrifice for our sins; and so, like the centurion’s servant, we are healed of our ills. Yet there are “divisions among [us]” regarding this central sacrament of our faith. Perhaps “there may even have to be factions among [us] for the tried and true to stand out clearly.” But the Lord is never pleased with a lack of faith. And if He decries the lack of “faith among the Israelites,” what is His thought on Christians who cannot believe in His presence in the Sacrament? Does the Lord not also have “soldiers under His command” like the centurion? Do they not also carry out His orders? Or is the word He gives them not powerful enough to carry out His will? Is it somehow impossible for the Lord to make himself present as He has promised by the intercession of His apostles, His priests – even as by the intercession of the Jewish elders the centurion gained his request from the Christ? Does your faith not fall short if you thus limit the power of God, of His Word, of the power given His apostles? “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you,” Paul states succinctly as he speaks to his disciples of the Lord’s Supper. And this meal shall last till the end of time; and it shall ever feed us body and soul with the presence of Christ. “Behold, I come,” says the Lord. To do the Father’s will is the Son’s “delight” and the delight of all who follow Him. In body He comes and in body He remains, upon our altars and in His sons. This “justice” we “announce in the vast assembly”; we do “not restrain [our] lips.” For His faithfulness to us, we His slaves and soldiers well know; and for such love we can but proclaim: “The Lord be glorified”! For by a word from His mouth uttered through His priest – “This is my body” – He is in our midst. ******* O LORD, in faith let us come to you to rec[...]
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Ex.32:7-11,13-14; Ps.51:3-4,12-13,17,19,Lk.15:18; 1Tm.1:12-17; Lk.15:1-32) “The Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on His people.” Redemption is ours, brothers and sisters. Though we are great sinners, the Lord has mercy on us when we turn to Him; for, as Moses interceded for the Israelites in the desert, so Christ Jesus intercedes for us now before the throne of His Father. Indeed, He “came into the world to save sinners,” sinners like you and me. What examples of sinners we have throughout our readings today – what examples of great sinners and the greatness, the abundance of God’s grace. Where shall we begin? In our first reading the people of Israel had fallen into the depths of depravity as they passed through the desert. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, they were far below, “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.” To it they sacrificed, and in drunken revelry proclaimed it God. Yet because of Moses’ intercession the Lord held back His blazing wrath against them. He did not destroy them. In our second reading we find “the foremost” of sinners, the apostle Paul, recognizing his own great guilt as arrogant persecutor of the Church and, in the same breath, witnessing to the manner in which he was “mercifully treated” by the Lord, that he might indeed be “an example for those who would come to believe in [Jesus] for everlasting life.” If the Lord can turn him who was the primary persecutor of Himself and His people into a leading apostle of His Word, how might He not convert our own hearts, or the hearts of any, to Him and to His will? And, of course, in our gospel we have the parable of the prodigal son, he who “squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation” yet was openly received into the waiting arms of the same father whose property he swallowed up when this dissolute child came to his senses and returned to him. The Lord makes so clear in His parable today the great desire God has to take the sinner in His arms, to place Him on His shoulders; indeed, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” Brothers and sisters, we all have need of repentance, and the Lord welcomes us all. After all this, perhaps our most poignant witness to God’s forgiveness and grace comes in King David, who has been adulterous and murderous but who cries out to Lord in our psalm, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” His “contrite spirit,” his humble begging is heard by the Lord, as is the repentance of us all. Through the blood of Jesus, all ignorant sinners may be saved. 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, you welcome poor, repentant sinners into your House with joy. YHWH, have mercy on us poor sinners. In the greatness of your compassion, wipe out our offense. Like the Israelites who made the golden calf in the desert, like David who turned to adu[...]
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.10:14-22; Ps.116:12-13,17-18; Lk.6:43-49) “Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” The Body and Blood of Christ we have upon our altar and in the Word of His teaching. It is these which set a firm foundation within ourselves, these by which we bear fruit in His Name – these by which we come to be as He is. Paul tells the Corinthians today “to shun the worship of idols,” not because they are real, for they are not, but because these sacrifices are made “to demons and not to God” and we, as sons and daughters of a jealous God, “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons” nor “partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons.” As “a good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit,” so evil has no place with good and demons no place in the house of God. Partaking of this table is like building a “house on the ground without any foundation” and will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy our faith in the Lord. And so we should have no share in the things of the world or in the decayed fruit which such mammon bears. This unholy food and drink is but to be vomited out in the sickness it produces. And calling upon the name of the powers of the earth and the air will but cause us to choke in an unholy fear. We must “call upon the name of the Lord” and upon His Name alone build our home. It is “the cup of salvation [we must] take up” and drink of the blood that is sanctified by the sacrifice of our Lord and God. And what does our psalmist mean when he sings, “My vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people” but that, as Jesus Himself instructs us in our gospel, we must “put into practice” the promises we make unto God. Else our words are empty; else our words are evil, for else our words will bear no fruit and our worship will be in vain. A great call have we, brothers and sisters: to be like the Lord. And this call is within our reach. His Body and Blood are upon our table; His words are ringing in our ears. We have but to eat; we have but to listen… we have but to accept these gifts and do His will, and even the torrents of death shall not shake our souls. For we shall be as “the man, who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock”; we shall stand solidly with unshakable trust in the eternal Lord. For Him we shall have become by sharing in His sacrifice. ******* O LORD, let us put your Word into practice, living as your only Son, sharing in His Body and Blood. YHWH, let us dig deep and make our foundation in you, in your Word and in your Body and Blood, and we shall bear fruit unto your kingdom, and our house shall stand strong on your holy Day. Let us shun entirely the table of the wicked; let us not partake of the food of demons. Our hearts be set only upon you, and all sin will be purged from our midst. If we act in evil, LORD, what are we but evil? But if we act in goodness, we shall be made good by you. Let us praise y[...]
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O slave to the slaves, to those who came in chains to the new world, those whose dark skin made them seem to eyes of flesh less than men… to you these were children of God, souls to be saved by His love and through His Church, and so the thousands baptized by your hands celebrate your glorious sacrifice this day in God’s presence – pray for us, dear brother, that the shackles of racial prejudice, the pride that exalts man above man, shall fall from our hands, our tongues and our hearts, and that all of the Lord’s holy people will work so diligently as you, His blessed slave, for the care of the weakest among us and the salvation of all souls.
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.9:16-19,22-27; Ps.84:2-6,8,12; Lk.6:39-42) “Although I am not bound to anyone, I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible.” How like His Lord is Paul in his declaration, “To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak.” For as Jesus descended from heaven to take on flesh and save those corrupted by its sin, so the Apostle has made himself “all things to all people,” stepping inside their skin “in order to save at least some of them.” Indeed, Paul proves himself to be “on a par with his teacher” in sacrifice and fruitfulness, for how well he serves “to remove the speck from [his] brother’s eye” that he might see Jesus in the clear light of day. The Apostle has been “entrusted with a charge,” that of “preaching the Gospel.” And doing so willingly he finds his “recompense.” And what is this recompense but that he receive nothing in return for his work, nothing here on earth except of course the blessing of persecution such work for the Master entails? Then why engage in such toil, and why call others to such a life of self-sacrifice? Ah yes, because of the “crown that is imperishable” which awaits the runner of such a race. This heavenly blessing, too, is found when one does all “for the sake of the Gospel.” “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God,” our psalmist intones today, and goes on to proclaim the happiness of those “who dwell in [God’s] house.” “Continually they praise [Him]… They go from strength to strength,” for “grace and glory He bestows.” This is the goal Paul has in mind when he says, “I do not run like a man who loses sight of the finish line.” All his tribulations never distract him from his final destination; the kingdom of heaven remains ever upon his heart. And ever does he strain forward that he and so many others might attain that crown for which “our soul yearns and pines.” Brothers and sisters, we must “discipline [our] own body and master it”; we must “remove the plank lodged in [our] own [eye]” if we hope to join Paul in the place where “even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.” And our young we, too, must bring there – all those in our charge must know of the kingdom of God. And so let us join Paul and our holy Lord in here becoming slaves of all, enduring our exile bravely that we might draw others to the eternal home found on the altar of the living God. ******* O LORD, let us be led by your holy apostles to lay down our lives with your Son, that we might find our home in you. YHWH, all holy hearts long for your presence, long to make their home in your house; and you send to us apostles, teachers of your way, that we might find you. O may the vision of all be made clear to see your glory! May all learn the lesson they need to know, taught by your Son in His sacrifice and carried on by His disciples. We long to praise you, LORD, but there is a log in our eye that blinds us to your coming kingdom. Help us to remove all obst[...]
Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000O Virgin who bore the Son of God, who became the divine dwelling place for the Creator of us all, should we not celebrate your birth this day, the blessing of the generation of you who signal our salvation? Pray for us, dear Mother, pray for all your children, all who would call themselves sons of God and brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ... pray that all generations will call you blessed, that all will hail you as Mother of our Savior and glorify the Lord who has filled you with His grace. You are one of us, dear Virgin Mary, one of the human creation, yet in you God deigns to dwell; pray we shall all be made worthy to be such a temple for the Lord.
Wed, 07 Sep 2016 07:00:00 +0000(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 hav[...]
Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.7:25-31; Ps.45:11-12,14-17; Lk.6:20-26) “The world as we know it is passing away.” And so, “hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house,” for the King is calling you from this passing world to the heavenly marriage feast – “He is your Lord, and you must worship Him.” This call is for every chosen soul, for who is the Lord’s virgin daughter, who is His Bride but the Church? It is she who is called, even as the Virgin Mother who has preceded her to heaven, and each of our souls must be wed to Him alone. And we who leave all behind to follow Him “shall be filled” and “shall laugh” on the Day of our marriage, for “the reign of God” will be ours. It is not in this world we take our “consolation” – how sad those who do so. For the riches of this world will rust and rot, and its laughter shall prove so hollow. Thus Paul instructs the wise: “Buyers should conduct themselves as though they owned nothing,” for in truth they have nothing at all: of what worth is that which does not last? Only an illusion are the temporary pleasures and vain accolades of this dying earth. The trials we find are all that should cause us to “rejoice and exult, for [our] reward shall be great in heaven” if we endure our exile well. To those who consider marriage, Paul gives the instruction: “[You] will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.” Certainly marriage is not sinful, and is even a fruitful sacrament, but even this which can be such a blessing is but passing in the eyes of God. And the attachment we find to our spouse, again, though blessed by the Lord, is a union that is also passing – one which must be ultimately left as well. Since only our marriage to the living God is that which endures, Paul in his wisdom offers this word: “Those with wives should live as though they had none”; for this beauty, too, shall fade, and it is not in it we are called to make our home. Yes, “the time is short,” brothers and sisters. The time is always short because time itself is passing – only eternity remains. And so, set not your hearts on the fading things of this life. The Lord who has died now prepares a place for you in His heavenly kingdom. And “all glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” So, to His palace be “borne in with gladness and joy”… join now the song of all His saints in our heavenly homeland. ******* O LORD, let us turn from the things of this world and set our hearts on your kingdom, which passes not away. YHWH, help us to remember that this world is passing away, that we should thus be attached to nothing of this world, and certainly not make our home in it, seeking the riches it offers. Help us to set our hearts on you and seek you alone, forgetting all that is not of you. For we wish to enter your kingdom, to sing your praises with all your saints, but how shall we come there if fattened o[...]
Mon, 05 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.6:1-11; Ps.149:1-6,9; Lk.6:12-19) “You have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Yes, “power went out from Him which cured all.” And as all were “healed of their diseases” and “those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured” by His touch, so we, too, are made whole in His sight; so we now become His holy children of light. For “the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God,” and His kingdom being the desire of our hearts, we come with “the whole crowd… trying to touch Him,” trying to reach His presence upon the mountain of God. And He calls His apostles; He selects the Twelve. And the power to teach and to heal He bestows upon them and upon their descendants. His wisdom and His grace He imparts upon those to whom His Father leads Him; and this same power rests upon all those baptized in His name into His Spirit. And so, as these Twelve who are the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel, so it is that the redeemed of the Lord are, as Paul tells us, “to judge angels.” Yes, “the believers will judge the world.” This power which is the Lord’s alone He gives to all in the world to come, for all are to be infused with His wisdom, and His love. And so are we not therefore “up to deciding everyday affairs”? “If the judgment of the world is to be [ours], are we to be thought unworthy of judging in minor matters?” And not only in cases “between one member of the Church and another,” but in all the details of our lives. If we are to judge with the wisdom and grace of God in heaven, we must here be able to see clearly the right from the wrong, or we have not His Spirit upon us – or we stand in opposition to His Truth and to His Church. “Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God’s kingdom.” If your conscience tells you otherwise and you do these things or fail to condemn these things, you are sadly misinformed; and rather than judge the nations with the Lord and His apostles, you shall be judged by them. Come only unto His Word, brothers and sisters; come only unto His Hand. And you shall be cleansed of all evil and be made able to stand here in this world as in His kingdom. And you shall sing His “praise in the assembly of the faithful” and with them “exult in glory” before your “maker” and “king.” “This is the glory of all His faithful”; His holy song is sung by all the redeemed. ******* O LORD, your power is upon your apostles and all your holy people; for this grace let us praise your NAME. YHWH, who can judge but those who are like you, those who are holy, those washed clean in the blood of your Son with the power of your Spirit upon them? No sinner can judge, for no sinner can see; he is blinded by his sin and immersed[...]
Sun, 04 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.5:1-8; Ps.5:5-7,9,12; Lk.6:6-11) “Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast, that of corruption and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” For indeed, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed”; indeed, the new Sabbath has come. And on the Day of the Lord only goodness remains. “Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough,” Paul commands the Corinthians as he chastises them for their “boasting” and self-satisfaction even while tolerating a professed sinner in their midst. He writes here to insist that they should be “grieving and getting rid of the offender,” both for the sake of the community and that the sinful man’s “spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” For, as David makes quite evident in his psalm, God “delight[s] not in wickedness; no evil remains with [Him].” And as for the vain pride of the community: “the arrogant may not stand in [His] sight.” It is not an unkind exaggeration to say that the Lord “hate[s] all evildoers.” The sharp line dividing evil and good Jesus would make clear as He confronts the scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue on the sabbath, “a man whose right hand was withered” standing before Him: “I ask you,” He says, “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath – or evil? To preserve life – or destroy it?” Then He heals the man, much to the chagrin of the scribes and Pharisees who deem this unlawful work for the day. But in the Lord’s House and on His Day good is always and only done – and certainly this healing is a blessed act. And since only the good remain in His House, just as the man who is “living with his own father’s wife” will be purged from the Corinthian community at Paul’s urging, so by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ these false leaders who harbor such distrust and jealousy will be cast from within the walls of the Lord’s Church; for “the bloodthirsty and deceitful the Lord abhors,” and indeed the blood of the Son is upon their hearts, and will be upon their hands. But we, brothers and sisters, we have the new feast, the new Sabbath before us now. We come now into His House to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Each day, in fact, we may celebrate the greatness of God’s glory and the grace of His presence in our midst. And so, let us celebrate with a pure spirit, with His cleansing blood upon our hearts, that our goodness may be preserved and we who “love [His] name” and “take refuge in [Him]” may “be glad and exult forever.” ******* O LORD, why is man’s heart so set against you? YHWH, the arrogant cannot stand before you, those who have the desire for evil in their hearts and blood upon their hands. How can they begin to know your undying love, those who would condemn even the Son of Man? Should not the broken and sinful man always stretch his hand out to you? Is your arm somehow shortened in its merciful reach? Should we [...]
Sat, 03 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Wis.9:13-18b; Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17; Phlm.1:9-10,12-17; Lk.14:25-33) “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The wisdom of the cross, that blessed necessity for every Christian’s life. What does it teach us? How does it call us to act? Its wisdom is not of this earth, for the “corruptible body burdens the soul,” but the counsel of the “Holy Spirit from on high” brings the freedom to be sons of God. This wisdom can only be found by knowing we are but dust and renouncing all things of dust to serve the living and true God. “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” our first reading from the Book of Wisdom inquires of us. Indeed, things before our eyes, things of this earth, “we find with difficulty,” so who can understand things of heaven? How shall we attain the vision of God, of whom our psalm states, “A thousand years in your sight, are as yesterday, now that it is passed, or as a watch in the night”? How can we who wilt and fade “like the changing grass” come to the surpassing knowledge our Lord possesses? Jesus answers the question. He turns to the crowds who follow Him, who are excited by His presence but unaware of the demands made upon every Christian’s life, and He teaches them this wisdom that is of God. It is His essential lesson: Be prepared to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom. Put nothing before your worship of God. Renounce all your possessions and be ready to die for Him – only then can you approach the glory He brings to this earth. Only by the wisdom of His cross will you find the kingdom of God. For indeed “the earthen shelter” and all its concerns weigh down the mind, weigh down the spirit, and keep it from attaining to God; they must therefore be left behind to find the freedom of sons of the Most High. The Lord comes to “teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” It is this teaching Paul seeks to impart to Philemon as he asks him to forgive the slave that has wronged him and accept him back “forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother.” This same forgiveness, which is divine not earthly, is that which is asked of us all by the Lord. For so we have been forgiven by Him, so we who were sinful slaves have been made his brother… and so we must do the same for others. It is no longer the mind of man by which we judge but the mind of God, and the grace of this wisdom we gain only by carrying our cross. It is this which shapes us in His image, which imparts to us His wisdom – and by this the work of our hands shall prosper. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Open Air" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, help us to renounce all our possessions that we might know your counsel and follow your Son. YH[...]
Fri, 02 Sep 2016 19:00:00 +0000O great Shepherd, watchman of the House of God and protector of His flock, though in the monastery you would have stayed, when called to the Chair of Peter you guided the Church well through difficult times – pray that as difficult days continue a firm hand may continue to be found at the helm of MotherChurch. O pray that the faith be strengthened, that the Rock upon which this House is set will remain unshakable and its light, its wisdom, serve ever as a beacon calling straying souls into the Lord’s welcoming arms. Humility and holiness may all our leaders embody, that by the Word of God on their tongues and His wounds in their hands all the poor of the earth will be carried unto Heaven.
Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.4:9-15; Ps.145:17-21; Lk.6:1-5) “God has put us apostles at the end of the line, like men doomed to die in the arena.” “Up to this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, poorly clad, roughly treated, wandering about homeless,” the great Apostle Paul tells us of the persecution and slander all the Lord’s apostles must undergo. And yet “when we are insulted we respond with a blessing,” for this is our call in the Lord: to love even our enemies, that we might show the love of God to all, that we might indeed become “a spectacle to the universe, to angels and men alike” – “fools on Christ’s account,” yet bearing all patiently that the Gospel might truly be fulfilled and the last shall be shown to be first in the eyes of God. It is this birth to which Paul brings the Corinthians, his “beloved children.” And though it seem a difficult fate to call down upon a people, yet we know that David’s psalm is true, that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth”; and so through all trials He leads us and comforts us, making any suffering a light burden to bear. And just as Paul is father to this nation, so the Father of all is there always to watch over all His children, for it is “in Christ Jesus” the Apostle has begotten them; and as He has heard the cry of His Son upon the cross and brought Him to resurrection, so “He hears [all His children] cry and saves them.” In our gospel the Lord’s disciples are hungry, and so, in the hot sun, “walking through the standing grain” with Jesus, He feeds them: all around is food at their hands. Truly their prayer does He answer; their need does He see. But instead of seeing that the Lord “fulfills the desire of those who fear Him,” all the Pharisees can do is ask, “Why are you doing what is prohibited on the sabbath?” Thus the very men who should be present to bless and comfort and guide the followers of the Holy One can but call them into the arena of persecution with the rest of the fallen world. Thus the shepherds who are called to feed the sheep would remove the food from their hands and see them perish. Instead of becoming apostles themselves, they become their bane. For they cannot comprehend that God’s love transcends God’s law, that “the Lord keeps all who love Him” and this is what makes Him “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and not the mere precepts to which they hold so desperately, so blindly… so jealously. Thus the chosen of God become in their eyes “the world’s refuse, the scum of all.” And what can they be but crucified? All must come to the holy Lord and “all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.” And though war be brought upon our souls, we must always “try conciliation” – peacemakers covered with blood and spittle is the state to which we are [...]
Thu, 01 Sep 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.4:1-5; Ps.37:3-6,27-28,39-40; Lk.5:33-39) “The salvation of the just is from the Lord.” “For the Lord loves what is right, and forsakes not His faithful ones.” And so He comes. He comes bearing a new garment; He comes with the blood of a New Covenant, His own blood, to wash us clean and make us whole as He is. Drinking this new wine indeed we are made holy. It is not as “John’s disciples” or as “the disciples of the Pharisees” we shall find our salvation – only as disciples of the Son of God, only by “commit[ting] to the Lord [our] way” will “justice dawn for us like the light.” And that His way, His covenant, is whole we see in His teaching that “no one tears a piece from a new coat to patch an old one,” for this indeed “will only tear the new coat, and the piece taken from it will not match the old.” What foolishness this would be. No, the New Covenant founded in the blood of Jesus Christ, though absolutely in accord with the Old, is whole unto itself and serves to redeem and fulfill the covenant that has come before. One cannot take pieces of it as it might suit one’s judgment – it must be received entire as grace from the Lord. Then, “bright as the noonday shall be your vindication,” and feast with the bridegroom you shall. Brothers and sisters, “the Lord is the one to judge,” and His Word must be accepted in full. Only “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts,” for only His eyes see all things. And so, do not attempt to judge for yourselves the worth of a person or even yourself. Paul says, “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” not because he is innocent, but because God alone knows his heart. And as we cannot judge one another, so we cannot (as James has said elsewhere – 4:11) judge the Law of God. We must simply live under His Law, seeking to obey the Word of His covenant. We must only make it our concern to “turn from evil and do good, that [we] may abide forever.” For when the Lord comes again, when the New Covenant is fulfilled in our midst, “at that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.” Neither praise nor condemnation from the mouth of man has worth. Trust not in this. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.” Commit yourself entirely to His Word and Blood, and a new skin to receive His grace you shall find. ******* O LORD, let us put ourselves entirely in your hands, and we shall be made new and holy in your sight. YHWH, you are our salvation, you alone. How shall we be clothed in the white wedding garment of purity, how shall we enter your kingdom and feast at your table, if you do not save us, if you do not deliver us from the evil of the world and the evil in our souls. Let us give ourselves to you[...]
Wed, 31 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.3:18-23; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.5:1-11) “Amazement at the catch they had made seized him and all his shipmates.” What a truly remarkable scene! Here upon the call of the apostles, the first of apostles, Simon Peter, “fell at the knees of Jesus.” Here in his barque, boats once desolate now suddenly fill to bursting with fish flopping about everywhere, unable to be contained… This is a painting for the ages, this blessed moment! It is this image which drives the Church forth, filling the barque of Peter with blessed, saved souls. “From now on you will be catching men,” the Lord says to His Rock – and so the Church is called, on this sunlit day. Yes, “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” And how wonderfully that fullness that is the Lord’s is revealed in these boats continually filled “until they nearly sank,” and how clearly these abundant fish represent we who dwell in God’s world. Even literally our psalm is fulfilled: “He founded it upon the seas,” David sings; and as He founded the world, so here He finds the Church, His renewal of the world, here upon the Sea of Galilee. Here He sends out His call to those who “stand in His holy place”; and through His apostles all will find the strength and purity to “ascend the mountain of the Lord.” Here is the faith firmly rooted, here in the barque of Peter. The race that “seeks the face of the God of Jacob” shall find Him now, shall see Him even as clearly as Peter looking up at Him from here at His knees on this marvelous day. “All things are yours,” Paul declares, “and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Indeed, the fullness of heaven and earth are at our hands through Jesus and the ministry of His apostles. All the apostles are ours, the world is ours, life and death are ours, the present and the future… Why? Because we are in Christ, in the boat in which He sits, surrounding our leader on his knees – all is ours because we leave everything to become His followers. After the Lord’s resurrection this scene shall repeat itself, and so the call be fulfilled. Here it begins though, here in “nets [that] were at their breaking point,” here in boats that are filled – here in one man falling to his knees, all come before the Lord of all. ******* O LORD, it is only by your power anything is done – make us holy by your Word. YHWH, upon our knees let us come to you; in the way of your Son let us follow, and in Him and in His Church, all shall be ours. What can we lack if united to you? What is not ours if your abundance we know? O LORD, all the world and all those who dwell in it are in your hands. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the soul of every man you hold. And to your Son you give all. And to [...]
Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.3:1-9; Ps.33:12-15,20-21; Lk.4:38-44) “To other towns I must announce the Good News of the reign of God, because that is why I was sent.” “And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.” And He continues to preach to all hearts through His blessed apostles, and His Church continues to grow. To the ends of the earth the kingdom progresses, and we each have a hand in its rising. Yes, “he who plants and he who waters work to the same end,” but “neither he who plants nor he who waters is of any special account, only God, who gives the growth.” As Paul has said to the Corinthians: “Who is Apollos? And who is Paul? Simply ministers through whom you became believers, each of them doing only what the Lord assigned him.” As great as the work of any apostle may be, yet it is God alone through whom progress is made. He alone causes “His cultivation, His building” to grow; it is yet Jesus who announces salvation in any of our lives. Indeed, no matter how big our work, it is God who accomplishes all – but also no matter how small. For all are called. And even as Paul and Apollos plant and water by their great gift of preaching, so we are told of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law that once Jesus had cast the fever from her, “she got up immediately and waited on them,” entirely ready to perform her work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. As with the sick the Lord “laid hands on each of them and cured them,” and as He taught with authority, so all in their way are invited to offer their service to the only God and thus become built into His kingdom. It is God who builds the House, but indeed “we are God’s co-workers” and must cooperate with His grace. And how we should know Him and His working among us and through us! The demons declared, “You are the Son of God!” for they “knew that He was the Messiah” – they knew well He who had come to destroy them. Why is it we whom He has come to build up do not know Him just as well, or even more? Truly it is “He who fashioned the heart of each [of us], He who knows all [our] works”; it is He “who is our help and our shield,” and “in Him our hearts [should] rejoice” – and through Him we should accomplish all. Do we know His presence with us so well? Do we rejoice in Him and do His works and become His work…? Brothers and sisters, let it be indeed that the Good News is announced clearly to all through the Lord working upon our soul. ******* O LORD, in your holy NAME let us trust, and we shall be healed of all our ills and grow unto the kingdom. YHWH, let your Word go forth through your people this day; to the ends of the earth let your Son travel, bringing the Good News of your reign to every soul through your Church and especially her [...]
Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.2:10-16; Ps.145:8-14,17; Lk.4:31-37) “We have the mind of Christ.” The demon has been cast from us and we see the Lord as He is: “Good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” “The glorious splendor of [His] kingdom” is before our eyes, and it is this which gives us light. We have bowed ourselves down before Him, the demon has thrown us “to the ground before everyone’s eyes,” and we have found that “the Lord lifts up those who are falling.” No longer “the natural man” who finds “what is taught by the Spirit of God” complete “absurdity,” filled with His Spirit we now “recognize the gifts He has given us.” And in these gifts we rejoice, for we have become as He is. “The Lord is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works,” and so what should we who are His works do but “discourse of the glory of His kingdom and speak of His might,” brothers and sisters? Should not all our words and all our works give Him due glory? How can we do otherwise, knowing now how “gracious and merciful” God is and that His “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages”? “All generations” must be called into His holy presence. “He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” Here is the Good News in action; here is the glory of God come among us. All the evil that possesses the soul of man is cast out by a word from His Son’s mouth. And so is paved the way to the kingdom. Brothers and sisters, embrace the Spirit of God at work in the world. Put on the mind of Christ. “The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit,” and so should we not teach as we have been taught? If indeed the light of the Lord is upon us illumining our minds and hearts, is it not but just that we should be compelled to impart that same Spirit to others that they might not be in darkness but might also be able to “appraise everything” “in a spiritual way,” that they too might know “the mind of the Lord”? Devils, be gone! Be silenced before the Son of God! All the evil of the world shall be struck and destroyed by the all-powerful Word of God. All His children sharply shine His saving light. ******* O LORD, let us have your Spirit within us, that our speech may be as your Son’s. YHWH, let us be your children of light, with your Spirit within us. The mind of Christ let us put on, and we shall understand all things and be found in your presence. Your Son speaks with authority, LORD, for He speaks your NAME in every word. His word casts all demons from our midst, for what evil can stand before your Spirit? O LORD, let us speak of your glory to all souls, tell the nations of your might. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages; you[...]
Sun, 28 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O witness to the Truth, to the Light that has come among us, you gave your very life and death for the sake of Christ, who redeemed us in His blood, blood you shed with your Savior; you who were a pillar of iron against the whole land and against its king, you who stood so strong against the lust of the world, suffering its persecution so willingly, fortified even in death by the Lord and His promise – how can our meager lives measure up to your blessed sacrifice; how can we who are so weak of knee endure our exile so bravely? Pray for us, O forerunner of the Christ both in word and in the giving of your life, that our blood may be joined to your own and so to that of our holy Lord.
Sun, 28 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.2:1-5; Ps.119:97-102; Lk.4:16-30) “Your faith rests not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.” Paul comes to the Corinthians with preaching that has “none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit,” and with them he determines to “speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Similarly, when “Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been reared,” in the synagogue He simply read the passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming Messiah, sat down before the eyes of all, and stated, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I AM here. I AM He. This is the day of salvation. Period. And here even at the beginning of His ministry we see how the crucifixion is already near, as His townspeople attempt to kill Him for the truth He speaks. Upon what is this simple wisdom, this power of the Lord, based but the Word of God? The psalmist, whose “meditation all the day” is the law of the Lord, declares in truth and in joy: “Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies.” It grants him “more understanding than all [his] teachers” and “more discernment than the elders,” because all genuine wisdom comes from the Word spoken by the mouth of God and not through human learning. We have seen that Scripture is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Himself, who is the Word of God made flesh. Yes, He speaks much more through “the appealing discourse which came from His lips.” Yes, there is oral tradition as well (for the Word of God is living and active); but on Scripture He begins His instruction, and continually He refers to the Word. Whether rejecting the devil’s temptations, rebuking the Pharisees and scribes, or enlightening the people – as He tries to do today by referring to Elijah’s having to go to Zarephath and Elisha’s healing only the Syrian, to show how prophets are not accepted in their native place – the Lord’s words are founded in the Word of God, in Scripture. And, of course, an integral part of that Word is the suffering the Christ must undergo. But notice that even as the people intend “to hurl Him over the edge” of the hill of Nazareth, just as directly as He has spoken truth to them, so directly and with the power of God He “went straight through their midst and walked away.” For the Word is as a sword which pierces all the dark limits of the world, and even through death it shall lead all to salvation. Brothers and sisters, let your faith rest on this Word that is Christ found in Scripture and living in the Church, for the Spirit does not die with the devices of the human mind. This Spirit holds eternal life. ******* [...]
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O shepherd made anew by Him who is within, Him who made us all, the Light above and beyond every soul who gave His life, His flesh as food that we might live – pray that the Lord and God of all will break through our deafness and dispel our blindness, that He will breathe His fragrant Spirit upon us and we too will be created anew, saved by His grace from the sin that has kept us from Him and thirsting for the wisdom which became your own, with which you shepherded His people apart from the things He created to His very Beauty itself, that all souls might rest in Him who made them.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Sir.3:17-18,20,28-29; Ps.68:4-7,10-11; Heb.12:18-19,22-24a; Lk.14:1,7-14) “Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Is this not the message of Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel, and indeed of all our readings – and indeed the essence of our Christian lives? “Take the lowest place.” Exalt not yourself in the sight of God, who sits at table with you, whose presence is everywhere, and is a guest far greater than you. Give your place to the poor, provide for them out of your means, as He has done, and then you will know the glorious vision of heaven where He dwells. The Pharisees are blind to the presence of Jesus; because of their pride and desire for esteem, they cannot see the guest of honor in their midst. They observe Him carefully, ready to judge Him, but it is He who sees them and seeks to instruct them in their ignorance. The Lord is most out of place here among the proud. He looks around for lowly ones, but finds none. The poor have not been invited to this feast; the blind here do not recognize their need for Him… and so this banquet is not like that of heaven. And so, who of these will partake of His Body and Blood and come to “the heavenly Jerusalem”? “God gives a home to the forsaken,” David declares in our psalm, and we are called to be like God. Jesus makes this quite evident in His instruction to the host of the banquet: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,” who are unable to repay such kindness, and then “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” This attitude of self-giving we must make our own, knowing our own lowliness in the sight of God, and the vision of heaven of which our second reading speaks will be ours as well. Then we will come with the “countless angels in festal gathering” and “the assembly of the firstborn” into the presence of Jesus and the holy blood of His sacrifice. “The just rejoice and exult before God,” and with them we too shall rejoice, if we make ourselves humble before Him. It is no mystery that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” No, the teaching is clear, and only by living it will we find its fruit, brothers and sisters. “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts,” Sirach instructs us; for how can you find favor with God (or with anyone) if you have no respect for Him? And if you do not see the greatness of the God before you, how shall you enter His kingdom? Our place before God is with faces to the ground. This is just. This is [...]
Fri, 26 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O tearful mother whose persistent cries for the soul of your son were heard in time by the Lord our God and so led to his conversion, to his becoming not only a Catholic Christian but a bishop and doctor of the Church, a saint like yourself – pray for the prayers of all mothers who cry for their wayward sons; pray indeed that all souls may turn and come to know so deeply the love of our Lord and God and the blessing upon His holy Catholic Church. Pray that all who stray, many as they are, shall be raised from the death of sin and come to the life of Heaven, where you wait with your son to welcome all his brothers.
Fri, 26 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.1:26-31; Ps.33:12-13,18-21; Mt.25:14-30) “He called in His servants and handed His funds over to them according to each man’s abilities.” All comes from the hand of God. Yes. Do you see this? God it is who provides any talent you possess on this earth and “God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus.” Not yourself. It is not from you any power comes. God has proven His power by choosing “the lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing,” and making them strong. This is you. You are nothing; and yet you have all things in God. Brothers and sisters, “mankind can do no boasting before God.” How could they? It is He who looks down from heaven and “sees all mankind”; it is He who chooses “His own inheritance.” It is He who places in our hands the “silver pieces” we employ on this earth – and it is He who expects us to use well that which we have been given. To Him we must answer for all things. And if we are “industrious and reliable” in our service, it is He who will declare, “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs.” On earth as it is in heaven… If our work is done well here, it shall lead to the greater fruits, and we shall “share [our] Master’s joy!” But it is always His joy to which we come and not our own. God is all things to us. “He has made [Jesus] our wisdom, and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption.” All that we have is from Him, and without Him we could not live. And should you be resentful of so great a gift? Should you return the gift of Himself He lays before you on your table? Or should you not rather take it up, make it your own, and by it produce fruit according to the abilities He has shared with you? This is all He expects of you: that the graces He shares with you, you share with others. “In His holy name we trust.” Yes, “our soul waits for the Lord” and “in Him our hearts rejoice.” For He does not fail us. What He gives He does not take back: it is we who reject His love; it is He who increases the yield within us. “Brothers, you are among those who are called,” and so be among “those who hope for His kindness.” For His kindness shall but enrich you each day as you make His will your own and find your “boast in the Lord.” Praise Him for His gifts and for His grace, for by His grace the gifts He provides become eternally fruitful in our lives. Alleluia! ******* O LORD, enrich us with your blessings as we serve you humbly in this world. YHWH, let us trust i[...]
Thu, 25 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.1:17-25; Ps.33:1-2,4-5,10-11; Mt.25:1-13) “The world did not come to know Him through its ‘wisdom’.” “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever,” says the Lord God. And in its place we find the Gospel, “the message of the cross,” which is “complete absurdity to those who are headed to ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.” It is this wisdom which saves us, even as the wisdom of the world falls to dust. The wisdom of the world tells us to take our rest, to find our pleasure in the things of this life; the wisdom of God instructs us to “keep [our] eyes open” for the coming of the kingdom of God, wherein we shall find eternal rest. The wisdom of the world has only the torch to offer; like the foolish bridesmaids, it brings no oil for its lamp, for it can see nothing beyond its eyes – its immediate physical concerns are its preoccupation. The wisdom of God knows that all depends on the oil of the lamp, and so it calls us to find our souls in the Word of God, which is a flask whose contents never recede but rather increase with use and preserve the soul’s burning brightly before its Creator. The wisdom of the world is “wordy,” is empty rambling with no foundation in truth; God’s wisdom is founded in silence, pregnant with the power and authority of all ages. “The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples.” What can stand that is not rooted in Him? What has purpose that is not spoken by His mouth? Apart from Him nothing comes to be or lasts. And does not the Lord thwart the ideas of the human mind most perfectly in the crucifixion of His Christ? Making “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” turns the vain strivings of men upside down and exposes them in all their emptiness. Here is my Word, He says; here is my Love. To this sacrifice does He call us all, that we might celebrate at His wedding feast and not be barred outside in the cold world. For indeed all that is of the world comes to nothing, “but the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” And it is His design that we become children of light, shining forever in the light of His wisdom, not burning to ashes in the deceit of our hearts. In the cross all our empty words fall to naught as we are confronted with the truth of our sin and the love of our God. Thus our eyes are opened. May they remain so, fixed on this lamp which shines in the darkness of the night. By no other means [...]
Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:05:00 +0000O guardian angel of poor children who formed them in the image of Christ, an education of body and soul you provided those most in need, those most impressionable and thirsting for the Lord’s care, and led so many others in this work for the least of our brothers – pray we shall become fellow workers with Jesus in the cause of truth and teach with deep love, the greatest patience, and profound humility, the souls He places in our hands. May the desire to see all attain eternal life be that which most impels us and especially those whose responsibility is the formation of Christian youth, that all men might rejoice at the straight paths these walk to the kingdom. Your zeal despite persecution may we maintain in our call from the Lord.
Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O loyal subject of the Lord and of His Church on earth, though a king you did not exalt yourself but listened rather to the words of your Savior and chose to serve Him, doing His work in this world: the poor you cared for, your children you raised in the teaching of Christ, and for all those in your reign you sought true justice and maintained concern for their spiritual welfare – pray we poor souls will emulate your desire for penance and prayer, and your faithful obedience to God and MotherChurch. May we be blessed as your sons to have your wisdom in our ears, a wisdom reflective of Jesus’ own.
Wed, 24 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(1Cor.1:1-9; Ps.145:1-7; Mt.24:42-51) “He will strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Brothers and sisters, “you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord provides all you need, generously and faithfully. You “have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people” and so “have been richly endowed [by God] with every gift,” that you might fulfill the call He places upon your soul, that by His grace you might indeed be holy. And so you should realize “the favor He has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus” and “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to gain all the blessings the Lord God is ready to pour forth upon you. Brothers and sisters, “keep a watchful eye and [do] not allow [your] house to be broken into.” “Be prepared” for the Lord’s coming. Let His every gift be at work in you, that readiness will ever be yours. Do not think as the foolish and worthless servant, “My master is a long time in coming,” and turn thus away from His light, sagging into the world’s darkness. Such a thought brings only death and the punishment of the Lord. For never is He long in coming. Always is He present to us; ever is His Spirit here within us when we remain faithful to Him. He it is who is of life and light – it is we who grow blind to His grace and are slow to come to His eternal presence. Forsake not His gifts, which sustain us at all times. Here is cause for rejoicing. Here is the reason David sings, “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever” (revealing thus the newness of life which is ever upon us): “God is faithful, and it was He who called [us] to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” No more than this need we know. For this reason “generation after generation praises [His] works” and “publish[es] the fame of [His] abundant goodness.” It is this which brings His praise to our throats. For indeed in His grace He has called us to be as His only Son, and of course He is faithful to His call. And so by faithfulness all is ours in the Lord, and on that Day His blessings shall be full. Remaining in His light, growing in His gifts and favors, there shall be no “wailing then and grinding of teeth” for our souls – no, “happy that servant whom His master discovers at work on His return!” ******* O LORD, let us be prepared and waiting fo[...]
Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:00:00 +0000O apostle of the Lamb, man without guile led by love to the Lord, you who declared Jesus Son of God and King of Israel, whose eyes of faith were illumined by angels’ wings – pray we shall be found by the Christ under our fig tree in peace, in prayer, and carry with you His holy Gospel to the very ends of the earth. With you as a foundation stone, one of the Twelve, may the Bride of the Lamb be led to her Husband, her heart burning with love for Him alone; her soul thirsting only for God’s presence, may her eyes be opened to see her Lord. To vision of Heaven pray we all come by an angelic belief in the Son of Man.
Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:00:00 +0000(Rv.21:9-14; Ps.145:10-13,17-18; Jn.1:45-51) “Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.” Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God. As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence. How else will we see Him? How else can we recognize Him? How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child? “You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.” He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride. As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms. May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates. And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles? These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.” These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.” But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.” We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom. The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters. He knows us all. He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks. Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeem[...]
Mon, 22 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O penitential soul whose eyes saw the Lord, whose ears heard His voice calling all to the Cross, obediently you accepted the afflictions that are necessary to attain union with God and His surpassing glory – pray that fearful souls like our own, which turn in complaint from every torment and trouble, however small, may be blessed with a measure of your selfless devotion, that the unfathomable treasure of the Lord’s grace might be our own as we endure, and even desire as you, the pains that pave the road to Heaven. Then we shall know Christ even as you and proclaim His glory to all creatures.
Mon, 22 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(2Thes.2:1-3,14-17; Ps.96:10-13; Mt.23:23-26) “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy.” “Brothers, stand firm.” Be not “easily agitated or terrified” “on the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” This should not preoccupy your thoughts because this is not in your mind to know or your hands to control. The day and the hour are with God alone. Rather, you should pray that the Lord will strengthen your hearts “for every good work and word.” This is what is in your power, and effectively accomplishing the Lord’s will thus, all fear will be removed from your souls. Brothers and sisters, be not like the scribes and Pharisees, the “blind guides” who “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Distracted by the details, they inevitably neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith” – those for which the Lord calls us above all to be concerned. And so their vision and their actions are not whole, and they are not holy. Failing to see as God sees and to do as God does, they indeed become blind guides frittering the life of the Lord away in anxiety for external matters. Let this not be the fate of your soul. Children, know of a certain that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself… loved us and in His mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” We must make this hope our own. For “the Lord is King. He has made the world firm, not to be moved,” and we must be as immovable as He in our faith and in our work. We should not doubt that “He governs the peoples with equity,” that in fairness all are looked upon in His sight, and so, that if we strive to do His will with all our hearts He will indeed bless us. Friends, we should know that, though not complete, though He does not stand before us in final judgment yet, still it is so that “the day of the Lord is here,” in our midst today. His rule has always been and has come to us in this place. And what we do now leads only to that day – the kingdom should be growing within us at all times. If we know not His justice and His constancy at work in our days, then indeed we have reason to fear and should heed the Lord’s rebuke. But if we strive with Him for holiness, any fear itself will be holy and lead us only to the joy that makes “the heavens… glad and the [...]
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O Queen of Heaven and earth, you radiate the glory of God, for now you stand at His right Hand in the heavenly kingdom. Clothed with the sun, the moon under your feet and a crown of twelve stars upon your head, you give light to all souls who thirst for the grace our Lord and King pours upon us through your intercession. O how the angels rejoiced, how the heavens rang with praise when the Son led you into His presence clothed in gold to be forever His Bride! O pray for us, dearest Queen and Mother, that we too shall be led in among your maiden companions to stand in God’s glory forever. Our cause we entrust to your Immaculate Heart.
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(2Thes.1:1-5,11-12; Ps.96:1-5; Mt.23:13-22) “Which is more important, the offering or the altar which makes the offering sacred?” The Pharisees in their blindness taught: “If a man swears by the altar it means nothing, but if he swears by the gift on the altar he is obligated.” Indeed, “How blind [they] are!” For what do they do but exalt that which is secondary beyond that which is primary? What do they do but invert logic? And what is the significance of their blindness? Why does it bring them “an evil day”? What the Pharisees essentially do in their thinking and their teaching is place the created ahead of the Creator, themselves before their God. For we are the gift upon the altar and the Lord Jesus the altar that receives and consumes our offering. It is He who makes us holy, and not we Him; it is we “who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and not vice-versa. He is above; we are below. The divine order of things must not be skewed. Yes, “the Lord made the heavens” and we who dwell below the heavens, and we must bow down before Him and praise His name. “Awesome is He, beyond all gods.” Above every created thing He stands, He towers, for all these things, including our souls, are in His almighty hands. “All the gods of the nations are things of naught,” idols of so much dust and sand, devised alone by human hands and serving to inflate the pride of those who make them. These we must leave aside. Our false ideas we must abandon. To Him alone must we come. “Tell His glory among the nations,” brothers and sisters, “for great is the Lord and highly to be praised.” It is He who is “seated on [the] throne” of heaven, He alone who merits our songs of praise. So let our song rise up to Him from our place upon His altar; let our offering be acceptable in His sight. Let us pray “that our God may make [us] worthy of His call, and fulfill by His power every honest intention and work of faith,” that “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in [us] and [we] in Him, in accord with the gracious gift of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” May He make us holy. ******* O LORD, let us sing of your salvation as we strive to put you before all things and grow constantly in your love. YHWH, you are seated on the throne of Hea[...]
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O simple priest who became Shepherd of the universal Church and defended her with courage against the errors of the age, you did not waver before the powers that would dilute the purity of the teaching of our Mother but stood strong against the tide attempting to wash her away – are we not yet threatened by falsehood and sin being held up as good, and so do we not yet need your spirit and your prayers? Though the tide may be turning, returning to the solid rock of faith, yet certainly we need your help to see the Spirit of Truth regain and maintain His place in this House. Pray indeed all priests and people be simple and true as children before God.
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Is.66:18-21; Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15; Heb.12:5-7,11-13; Lk.13:22-30) “People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory,” even those of “distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory,” says the Lord. The Word goes forth. The Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and it will open the eyes and ears of all peoples. But who shall be ready for its coming? Indeed, Isaiah’s prophecy and the verses of our psalm are in harmony with the Lord’s own words: all the nations shall come, all shall “praise the Lord,” and all shall find a place in His kingdom. The light that goes forth, the glory of the Lord, knows no boundaries, is not limited by constructs of time and place – there are no walls in its way. All nations. All tongues. All peoples at all times and in all places are called forth by the all-encompassing love of our God and our Savior. You are welcome at His table, my brother, my sister, whomever you are, wherever you are. It is the Lord’s will that all come to Him who is the Father of all nations and of all creation. But do you know the way? The way of the Lord is not easy; it is narrow and rough – it is one wrought with chastisement, with discipline. “For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?” And how can you expect to come into His paradise if the soil of this world still clings to your soul? The cross is the way to the kingdom; only the scourging discipline of the Lord will enable us to sit with Him. And this discipline, this cross, is of love. Do you see this? Do you see how much the Father loves you in His reproof of your sin? “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” If you have not learned this basic lesson of the working of the Lord’s love, you “will not be strong enough” to enter His gate. You must “not be disjointed but healed” as the Lord takes from you all that is unfit for His presence. Your suffering the loss of this life is all that will bring you to heaven. We no[...]
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O great light of the Church who by word and work inspired your brothers and so many others to a life of virtue, to peace and unity with one another and an abiding love for our Lord and His Mother – teach us this day, O blessed preacher, of the way in which Jesus calls us, of the life and love God offers if we but respond in kind in our weak and limited manner. To all souls in His holy Church and throughout the world you brought the Word of God, you imparted the light of His wisdom; please pray, dear father in the faith, that our lives may be conformed to the loving will of the Lord and we become children of His light and bearers of His Good News to the nations, till we stand with you in His surpassing glory.
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.43:1-7; Ps.85:9-14; Mt.23:1-12) “The temple was filled with the glory of the Lord.” Certainly the vision of Ezekiel is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and His founding the Church, the New Jerusalem, here amongst us. In this Temple He has “set the soles of [His] feet”; here He “dwell[s] among the Israelites forever.” For though the temple in Jerusalem shall be restored, it shall again be destroyed, and forever. In the Catholic Church now does His presence remain. Through it and through its teaching “the earth [has] shone with His glory.” “Truth shall spring out of the earth”: Jesus is born in our midst and walks among us; “justice shall look down from heaven”: through Him the light of God shines upon us, bringing salvation to all souls. And it is in His Church truth and justice remain, “glory dwelling in our land.” And “like the roaring of many waters” is His teaching, which comes with power, which comes with authority. And this teaching He leaves in the apostles’ hands. As “the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers” and Jesus has succeeded these, so do the apostles succeed Jesus; thus we must “do everything and observe everything they tell us” – the Spirit is upon the Church, which does not teach in error despite the sins of its members. These must be respected; it is upon these, and so upon Jesus’ teaching, the Catholic faith is founded. And what if some refused to enter into this Temple and share in His glory present in His Church? What if they did not share the wholeness of His thought or receive His precious Body and Blood, offered each day in the New Jerusalem? Their eyes would be as blind and their vision as limited as those who quote our gospel today to prove that the Church should not call its priests “Father”. They would not be able to see that what Jesus teaches His disciples in telling them to avoid “marks of respect in public and of being called ‘Rabbi’” is to avoid having themselves inflated with pride. If these blind souls were correct, then no one could be called “teacher” either, for this is more the word the Lord wishes us to avoid. And they would have to condemn Paul for calling himself “father” o[...]
Thu, 18 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O priest of Jesus and Mary so dedicated to the Hearts of our Lord and Lady and the formation of your fellow priests, how well you preached of our need to be one with Christ our Head; with what zeal you cared for the poorest among us – pray that priests and indeed all Christians will have hearts and souls beating and breathing as one with the Lord, in union with our Blessed Mother; may all serve and glorify the Father by using all their faculties as if they were His alone. O that we might indeed belong to the Son of God and be ruled by Him, His own eternal life coursing through our very veins, His breath upon our tongue!
Thu, 18 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.37:1-14; Ps.107:1-9; Mt.22:34-40) “I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.” The commentary in the missal I read states: “The lesson here is return from captivity, not life after death.” And so the speaker proves once again the limited vision of so many of our scholars – indeed, how like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the lawyers of Jesus’ time these faithless are, how blind… how dry their bones without spirit. Certainly the prophet Ezekiel speaks to the exiles of their return to Israel: to these he is sent, and of this redemption they must hear. But if this were all the Scripture says, what lesson would we take from it – this passage why should we bother to read? And if this were all God intended even for these scattered children, what an ineffective God He would be. (As limited in vision as so many of our leaders today.) For what is the land upon which any find life but the kingdom of heaven? And how do we come there except through death, the death of our attachment to this earth? Vain all is if we have not the resurrection of Jesus within us; we must rise from our graves before anything has meaning in life. That the Lord speaks of more than the return to Israel in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones today is indicated clearly in our psalm, which equates “the redeemed of the Lord” with those “gathered from the lands, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” Is it not so that the Psalms, though greatly written a millennium before Christ (and hundreds of years before even Ezekiel’s time), speak of Christ, and even in the voice of Christ? Is it not Jesus who speaks even to Ezekiel himself? Listen to our psalm. It speaks of the Israelites’ wandering “in the desert wilderness.” It says they were “hungry and thirsty” and that “their life was wasting away within them.” Certainly they lacked food and water in this arid place – but is this all of which the psalmist speaks! Do they not rather fail to drink from the spiritual rock which follows them? Is their hunger not for Christ? And the “inhabited city” to whic[...]
Wed, 17 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.36:23-28; Ps.51:12-15,18-19,Ez.36:25; Mt.22:1-14) “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.” The Lord desires to “prove the holiness of [His] great name,” which has been “profaned among the nations” by the children of Israel. And so He determines to “gather [them] from all the foreign lands,” to bring them back from their exile from His sight, and bless them again upon their “own land.” He will “cleanse [them] from all [their] impurities… a new heart and… a new spirit within” them, and they shall be “careful to observe [His] decrees”: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” But when the time comes for the reign of God to be fulfilled in their midst, when all is prepared and they are invited to the “wedding banquet for His Son”… when indeed the Lord would wed the Israelites to Himself by the grace and blessing of the Messiah – they refuse the call. “Come to the feast,” He cries out; eat your fill of my delights. But they make excuses and even kill those by whom the invitation comes (laying hands even on the only Son). And so the chosen city having rejected His offer, the Lord tells His servants to “go out into the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone [they] come upon.” So do the apostles preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth; so are all now called to the wedding feast. But will all be prepared? To “the chief priests and elders of the people” Jesus addresses His parable of the wedding banquet today, for it is these who refuse to hear Him – it is they who reject the call of the Lord. And so, indeed, to the nations does His voice go; the Gentiles now hear the call. And we, we who though founded firmly upon the rock of Judaism are in such great number of Gentile races, do we heed the call of the Lord and prepare our hearts to receive His food? We are now the chosen city and the banquet table is now spread before us each day: His Body and Blood is the greatest food of which we could ever hope to partake. But have we the wedding garment necessary to remain in His banquet hall, in His Church, or do we wander[...]
Tue, 16 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.34:1-11; Ps.23:1-6; Mt.20:1-16) “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” How grateful we should be that “the Lord is [our] shepherd,” for with Him we want for nothing. Indeed, our “cup overflows” and “only goodness and kindness follow [us] all the days of [our] life”; for it is He who watches over our every step, and He is only goodness, He is only kindness – His mercy endures forever. How the Lord’s hand contrasts with the false shepherds’ of the house of Israel. These “pastured themselves and did not pasture [the Lord’s] sheep.” They “fed off their milk, wor[e] their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings,” but the sheep they allowed to be “scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.” But where these shepherds “lorded it over [the sheep of Israel] harshly and brutally,” the Lord Himself is “generous.” Though under them the sheep “were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts,” the Lord, the owner of the vineyard, the Good Shepherd, goes forth at all times of day seeking every straying sheep, gathering all into His fold and seeing that we have wages enough to feed each of our families. And whether the laborer works many hours or few, yet he is provided all his needs. Here, of course, is notice that the Gentiles, who come late to salvation history, enter the kingdom before the Jews, who have always been in the Lord’s house. Here is word that the generosity of our God extends to all, that His loving arms will not be shortened. And we may learn, too, from the response of the workers to the owner’s questioning why they have been “idle all day” – “No one has hired us” – that the Lord looks upon the heart and pays us not so much for the work accomplished but for the intention of our will. For these would have worked all day had they earlier been approached. “In verdant pastures He gives me repose.” In the Lord’s loving arms we all find our home. Had He not come Himself to shepherd us, still we would be wandering alone. But as it is we work now[...]
Mon, 15 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O faithful king, loyal son of MotherChurch and just ruler of your people, in peace and piety, humbly and honorably you executed your duties, never showing favor to anyone but always respecting all and maintaining above all the faith and the Church which propagates that faith in Christ – where is true Christian profession today, where those in positions of power truly dedicated to right service of the Lord and His people? Do pray for us, dear king, that others shall follow in your footsteps as has your son so that all shall become faithful followers of our Lord in whatever position He grants them. Pray especially for leaders whose hearts are set on love of God and holy Church.
Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.28:1-10; Dt.32:26-28,30,35-36,39; Mt.19:23-30) “Only with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of God.” Yes, “close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them!” – those like the prince of Tyre who are “haughty of heart, and say, ‘A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!’” What condemnation they mount up for themselves, those who by their “great wisdom applied to [their] trading… have heaped up [their] riches,” for “the most barbarous of nations… shall draw their swords… [and] run them through [their] splendid apparel.” These shall be “thrust down to the pit, there to die a bloodied corpse in the heart of the sea.” How else shall they learn that they “are a man, not a god”? How else might they find the humility necessary for the kingdom of heaven? It is tragic how riches and power turn men’s hearts away from truth, making them “a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.” For what do such as these say of their state but, “Our own hand won the victory; the Lord had nothing to do with it,” thus blinding themselves to the fact that all comes only from God? And so the Lord’s warning against those inflated by the riches of this world; and so “it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” For how their swollen pride makes it impossible to squeeze through the gates which admit only the humblest of children. Brothers and sisters, store not up for yourselves a heap of riches which serve but to block the light of the Sun of God. Use not “your wisdom and your intelligence… [to make] riches for yourself.” This is not the proper end for the gifts God gives, and will serve only to bring the destruction of your haughty soul, along with the riches themselves. If you desire to “inherit everlasting life,” it is upon this your heart, your wisdom, your desire for riches, must be set. For the heavenly riches from the hand of God do not fail and cannot be run[...]
Sun, 14 Aug 2016 13:00:00 +0000O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin and martyr for our Lord, well you spread the fame of the Mother of all graces, calling all souls to repentance that she might apply her Son’s blood to save the straying among us; and well you heeded our Savior’s call to lay down your life for others – pray this day we have such strength, such conviction and determination in serving our Lord and Lady, in publishing the Good News of salvation, that by our dedication we too may serve well upon this earth in the army of the faithful, also leading souls through the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that peoples and nations may be converted and so learn in turn to serve the surpassing glory of God.
Sun, 14 Aug 2016 07:00:00 +0000(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab; Ps.45:10-12,16; 1Cor.15:20-26; Lk.1:39-56) “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory. She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven. And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life. May she bless us from her place with you this holy day. In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God. We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm. The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.” “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise. “How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst. She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary come[...]
Sat, 13 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O soldier of the Immaculate Virgin and martyr for our Lord, well you spread the fame of the Mother of all graces, calling all souls to repentance that she might apply her Son’s blood to save the straying among us; and well you heeded our Savior’s call to lay down your life for others – pray this day we have such strength, such conviction and determination in serving our Lord and Lady, in publishing the Good News of salvation, that by our dedication we too may serve well upon this earth in the army of the faithful, also leading souls through the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that peoples and nations may be converted and so learn in turn to serve the surpassing glory of God.
Sat, 13 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Jer.38:4-6,8-10; Ps.40:2-4,14,18; Heb.12:1-4; Lk.12:49-53) “Though I am afflicted and poor, yet the Lord thinks of me.” Persecution is necessarily a part of every Christian’s life. Not many of us will struggle “to the point of shedding blood” as has Jesus, as has Paul, as have all the apostles; and not many of us will be thrown into muddy cisterns as is Jeremiah… but all will remain “afflicted and poor” in their striving against sin and have to endure “opposition from sinners” as they grow in holiness before their Lord and God. Jesus is anguished at the baptism He must endure in carrying the cross of division set in opposition to the forces of sin in this world, and so all who call themselves Christian take this same cross upon their shoulders. If we do not suffer for the faith, we must question whether we have become lukewarm and worthless, but to be spit from the mouth of God. Division must necessarily come as we follow in the steps of Jesus, “the leader and perfecter of faith.” As the princes of the people were set against Jeremiah for his prophesying in truth against the nation, spelling out the danger it faced for its sin, so opposition will come to us even from friends and family as we seek to draw closer to Jesus; for the world is set in opposition to the cross, and any who yet cling to it and its sin will inevitably be insulted by our resistance to its ways. And so persecution comes to those who remain faithful to the ways of Christ. But your hearts should not be troubled, brothers and sisters, for though the world of sin encompasses us now and often closes in, we indeed have a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us with their protection. As Jeremiah had Ebed-melech to intercede with the king to draw him from the muddy mire, so we have Jesus now to intercede with the Father for us to lift us out of the dark cistern that is the world. And not only Him do we have at our side, but all those wh[...]
Fri, 12 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O brothers united in faith and in offering the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of that faith, for the sake of God’s Church – pray nothing shall separate Christ’s brothers one from another, but that all members of His flock and all those who lead His flock will remain ever united in His blood under the See of Peter. O pray that His Body not be divided but that it be healed, made whole by His Cross. Into His arms may we all offer our lives and so join our Lord in His kingdom.
Fri, 12 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.18:1-10,13,30-32; Ps.51:12-15,18-19; Mt.19:13-15) “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me,” David cries out in his psalm. Ezekial speaks of the same cleansing needed to find the life of God. And Jesus amongst the children reveals the purity to which we are all called. “Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you,” the Lord exhorts us through his prophet today. Through Ezekial it is revealed that we are judged “each one according to his ways” – the sinner according to his sin and the virtuous according to his “right and just” acts. And the sinner “because he practiced all these abominations… shall surely die,” while the just “shall surely live.” This is the Word of the Lord God. But the Word continues. Ezekial also reveals that the Lord God “takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” that it is His desire that all should live. And so he cries out, “Return and live!” for the Lord is a forgiving God and will indeed wash clean all who turn from their sin. “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Here is the truth of our Lord: He does not desire to cast us “out from [His] presence,” but wishes us to come as children before Him, to know His love, to discover the kingdom of God which belongs to “such as these”… for these are as He is – humble as Jesus, the Child of God. Marvelously our sins He shall wash away, and we shall live! We shall know “the joy of [His] salvation” as children in His sight. O Lord, we pray that “sinners shall return to you.” We pray that none shall die. We pray that you take our own lives and let them witness what it is to be a virt[...]
Thu, 11 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O tireless worker for the Lord who when cut off from everything dearest to you gave yourself completely to God, you who have shown the way of the martyrdom of love, of dying entirely to self and serving our Savior in the sick and the poor, in whose guise He comes – pray our lives shall not wallow in mediocrity or sin; pray we shall have the same thirst for love as you, that by our love we may die and so overcome death to live forever in the presence of our Redeemer. Visit us this day in our weakness that our hearts, too, might be strong and our lives be laid down in the blood of the only Son.
Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.16:1-15,60,63 or Ez.16:59-63; Is.12:1-6; Mt.19:3-12) “I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.” Ezekial first “make[s] known to Jerusalem her abominations,” telling the people, “You were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born.” And though by the Lord’s blessing they “grew and developed”; and though when they were “old enough for love” He “spread the corner of [His] cloak over [them]”; and though when He “swore an oath to [them] and entered into a covenant with [them]” they became His, the recipient of all the bride’s gifts and graces – “You were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food” – yet they took the beauty with which the Lord had endowed them, and turned to harlotry. The wisdom of the Lord, His laws and decrees with which He favored no other people, which were the source of their glory, they spurned in favor of the wickedness of the nations. The hardness of the hearts of the Israelites we find well illustrated in our gospel today; their attitude toward the marriage covenant reveals their level of faithfulness to the Word of the Lord. A covenant is made binding for all generations, yet the Lord relates the truth to those who question Him: “Because of your stubbornness Moses let you divorce your wives.” Never was it meant to be so. This promise, this sacrament Paul later tells us mirrors the love of God for His Church, was ever meant to be lasting. But how weak is the faith and the love of even His chosen, causing even the disciples to marvel at all that is asked of them. But the covenant the Lord made with His people in their immaturity, the marriage He called them to when [...]
Wed, 10 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O bride of Christ whose poverty matched His own, whose humility made Him known, whose love indeed approached His throne and the embrace of His holy arms – pray all souls will gaze into the mirror that is our Lord born in a manger, dead upon a Cross, risen unto Heaven. Pray we shall be driven on through the death we all must die, through His marvelous poverty, His wondrous humility, to the indescribable delights of those who remain at His side. O that we might be poor as you were poor, as He is poor for the sake of every soul, that we might come to embrace His blessed sacrifice and so know the glories of His kingdom.
Wed, 10 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.12:1-12; Ps.78:7,56-59,61-62; Mt.18:21-19:1) “As captives they shall go into exile.” “The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.” O the woe of the “rebellious house”! How their sins eat away at their souls like hands digging holes in a wall; how they must hide their faces from the light of day and from the Lord’s glorious face. Into what hell they cast themselves with no means of escape, their burden too heavy to bear. The house of Israel “turned back and were faithless like their fathers,” and so the Lord “surrendered His strength into captivity, His glory into the hands of the foe.” And just such a fate awaits all who are hardened by sin, who have no forgiveness in their hearts. For all owe the Lord “a huge amount” and all have “no way of paying it”; and so all deserve to be sold into slavery. Only the mercy of God preserves us from such a fate. But can a heart know mercy which shows none? Can a soul receive forgiveness if it continues in sin? Does not this house remain in exile from its God? And what shall become of the one who spurns the love of God as does the wretched servant? Shall he not be like him whom “the master handed… over to the torturers until he paid back all that he owed’? There is only woe for the soul so set in opposition to the loving will of God. There is only banishment from His sight. As the Lord “was enraged and utterly rejected Israel,” His chosen children whom He had loved and blessed and forgiven so much, so all shall die in their sin who refuse to turn to Him... for there is no place for the evil with the good. From darkness let us come, brothers and sisters. Ex[...]
Tue, 09 Aug 2016 13:00:00 +0000O generous soul, you gave your life freely to the poor and your death completely to the Lord; a grain of wheat fallen to the earth, you have indeed produced much fruit, so closely have you followed Christ – pray for us miserable souls who cannot seem to draw near your thorough sacrifice, made without fear of the fire ignited by your torturers, made in joy of uniting your death to Jesus’ own. How shall we approach your love, your blood so closely mingled with that of our crucified Lord; how shall we match your generosity in serving His blessed call? Pray we will find the courage to give everything over to God and know we are in His arms.
Tue, 09 Aug 2016 07:00:00 +0000(2Cor.9:6-10; Ps.112:1-2,5-9; Jn.12:24-26) “The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.” The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name. Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God. His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow. “The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel. As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.” We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth. We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice. “Where I am, there will my servant be.” By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father. To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow. They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord. He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven. So let us plant our prayers and our wo[...]
Mon, 08 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O sacrificial victim seeking to bring peace to a dark world, you found your wisdom in love, in the love of Christ and in His Cross, and died three times for His sake: once in entering His Church, once in taking His habit, and once in laying down your life at the hands of the enemies of His peace – pray, O blessed teacher and sister to all men, that the death of this life be something we shall not fear but embrace with the same grace with which the Lord blessed you. Why should we hold to the things of the earth when Jesus waits to embrace us in His loving arms and carry us unto Heaven? Pray we shall be ready to answer His call.
Mon, 08 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.2:8-3:4; Ps.119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Mt.18:1-5,10,12-14) “How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” And is there a sweeter promise or a sweeter teaching than that which Jesus gives today in our gospel? In answer to the disciples’ question, “‘Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom of God?’ He called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said ... ‘Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.’” And He goes on to assure them that none of His children is forgotten by the Father – each He searches out diligently. Always they shall behold the absolute sweetness of His countenance... forever they shall look on His presence. O to be as that innocent child in the Lord Jesus’ arms! “Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” O Lord, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.” Let us be as your prophet Ezekial, to whom you bring the written scroll and command, “Open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” Let us “eat what is before [us]”; let us “eat this scroll.” Let us consume your words and commands and “feed [our] belly and fill [our] stomach” with your teaching and your promises. For all your words are “sweet as honey in [the] mouth.” All that comes from you is grace and peace and joy. And though the words may be sour in our stomach, though we may have to declare “lamentation and wailing and woe!” to those who turn from your law – though suffering may indeed follow in accomplishing your will, yet the sweet knowledge that all comes from your hand shall sustain [...]
Sun, 07 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O humble preacher who walked in poverty with Christ your King and spoke in power to destroy lie by truth, you gathered men around you to be bearers of the grace of God, to be men of the Gospel inspired by love divine – pray we shall be taught well the faith and walk with you in Jesus’ way, that all we do will be for the salvation of souls, our lives even as our Savior’s. May His Word and deep love for others lead us in all our work on earth that always and in all things we may beseech the Lord to be with all His brothers. Pray our hearts be set on His will and we serve as His apostles.
Sun, 07 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Ez.1:2-5,24-28; Ps.148:1-2,11-14; Mt.17:22-27) “His majesty is above earth and heaven.” Gleaming like gold or silver, shining forth like burning fire, splendorous as “the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day” – “such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” given the prophet Ezekial. And this is but His likeness; nothing could describe the glory of the One who has beneath His feet the four living creatures whose wings beat “like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty.” These eyes cannot see God. But His only Son we can see, for He whose greatness is as the Lord’s own has deigned to walk amongst us in human form. Though His place is at the throne of the Almighty God, though His glory is itself exalted above earth and heaven, yet the Son of God becomes also the Son of Man. And not only does He walk in our skin, but even dies for our sin. How humble is our glorious God! And though He Himself is the Temple of God, though it is by His hands only the temple on earth has been built, yet He does not presume exemption from paying tax to those who are but its caretakers. For He subjects Himself entirely to our laws, as well as to our scourges. (And notice that the coin Peter will find in the mouth of the fish is “twice the temple tax,” to pay simultaneously for himself and Jesus. Thus is Peter equated with the Lord in the exemption of sonship, in authority over the temple – for it is he who shall be at the helm of the new Temple.) The disciples are “overwhelmed with grief” at hearing of their Lord’s coming crucifixion. They have known [...]
Sat, 06 Aug 2016 19:05:00 +0000O reformer of the Church and leader of her priests and people, calling all to live the Gospel, to give their hearts in the service of Christ, who alone can save men’s souls – pray that your love for the Lord and His holy Church will be known in all the members of His Body, and so that apostles will be sent forth to preach and to heal even this day. Pray we shall be one with Him who made us, eating His Body and drinking His Blood and living according to the Word He speaks to our souls through MotherChurch and all her faithful servants. It is the Lord alone who must be our concern; pray we, too, shall walk in His footsteps.
Sat, 06 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O martyrs of the faith ordained by the Lord to shed blood for His sake and the sake of His Church, to give witness to the glory of Christ and so win the crown of eternal life… it is in your blood and by your sacrifice the Church has grown and become strong – pray it shall always stand firm in confessing the faith despite any threat from the powers of this world; pray every soul shall give his life in joy and so emerge victorious in the spiritual combat. Handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, may we, too, come to life eternal.
Sat, 06 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000(Ws.18:6-9; Ps.33:1,12.18-20,22; Heb.11:1-2,8-19; Lk.12:32-48) “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” “Our soul waits for the Lord.” Though we do not know the day or the hour of His return, we must always be ready for His coming. As the ancients, the Hebrew fathers and especially Abraham the father of faith himself, we must ever be seeking our heavenly homeland. By faith the ancients, who saw the promise only from afar, “awaited the salvation of the just”; by faith Abraham “sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country.” As he dwelled in tents, nonetheless, “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.” With the incarnation of Christ, and in His death and resurrection, what greater assurance have we of that which we hope for. We now have Jesus speaking to our hearts: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” How much more are we called to follow His way in faith; how much more we should now be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when He comes and knocks.” If the Lord finds us “vigilant on His arrival,” how blessed will we be. If we have distributed well the food He has put in our charge here, if His work we have accomplished according to His word, we shall ourselves sup at the table the Lord prepares[...]
Fri, 05 Aug 2016 07:00:00 +0000(Dn.7:9-10,13-14; Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9; 2Pt.1:16-19; Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36 Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail, they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day) “I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.” Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts. It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called. The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God. He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.” So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain. Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.” What a fearful, absolutel[...]
Thu, 04 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Nah.2:1,3,3:1-3,6-7; Dt.32:35-36,39,41; Mt.16:24-28) “It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them.” When the Lord comes indeed “He will repay each man according to his conduct.” And the justice and judgment that are the Lord’s alone are evident in His work amongst Israel and their enemies, spoken of in our first reading and psalm today. “The flame of the sword, the flash of the spear, the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon!” such is the graphic description of the horrors inflicted by the “bloody city” of Ninevah, of Assyria, whose nation is “all lies, full of plunder, whose looting never stops!” And that which they have visited upon the nations, and upon the children of Israel, shall come to rest upon their own heads. For “surely, the Lord shall do justice for His people” and prove to the evildoers that it is He alone who “will sharpen [His] flashing sword”; it is He whose “hand shall lay hold of [His] quiver.” For vengeance is with the Lord alone and it is He who “will repay [His] foes and requite those who hate [Him].” All those who take up the sword, what can be said of them? “Close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them.” Like Ninevah they shall be “destroyed, and who can pity her?” Is she not like he who has “gain[ed] the whole world and ruin[ed] himself in the process?” And shall not all who trust in “horses a-gallop, chario[...]
Wed, 03 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O priest exemplar, O preacher and confessor extraordinaire, healer of souls who by prayer and penance was made holy unto God and brought others to that same holiness before the Lord and Maker of all poor souls – pray indeed this day that our hearts will be set on Heaven, that our longing will be for the Lord, and so that by prayer we shall come to union with Him. Pray all your fellow priests will be filled with your same zeal for the salvation of their flock and so serve to bring them to blessed union with the God of all. Pray the Lord send out holy priests to labor in His vineyard as diligently, as tirelessly, as you.
Wed, 03 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.31:31-34; Ps.51:12-15,18-19; Mt.16:13-23) “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Do not the days come to pass, is not this promise made through Jeremiah fulfilled, when the Lord declares to Peter, “On this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it”? Does Jesus not hereby wrest the covenant from the hands of the leaders of the Jews and thus make His people anew, here founding His New Covenant and His new Church upon Peter and the apostles? Does not all that has been declared to the Chosen now come to pass in the Christ and in those who follow Him? Are we not, as it were, true and complete Jews, basking in the light of the Messiah? And what is it this New Covenant is like? The Lord says, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Indeed, all shall “know the Lord.” And how shall this come about? Is this not the answer to David’s heartfelt prayer when drowning in the midst of sin: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me”? Is it not by His cleansing us of all our transgressions that He shall “remember [our] sin no more”? Is it not in this way our hearts are prepared to receive Him, and He comes to make His home with us? Is this not why Jesus has come? “Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” David cries out, and [...]
Tue, 02 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000(Jer.31:1-7; Jer.31:10-13; Mt.15:21-28) “Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings.” In our first reading Jeremiah prophesies the restoration of “all the tribes of Israel” to the grace and “age-old love” of their Lord and God. The Lord promises His virgin daughter Israel: “Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.” He will “turn their mourning into joy” as this “remnant of Israel” returns to the holy heights of Mount Zion, as he “gathers them together” as His chosen once again. And in our gospel the Lord makes clear it is for the lost children of Israel He has come. Here in the mission of the Christ, Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. But more than the restoration of the nation of Israel do we hear of today. What we find is that not these alone shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, but indeed all the nations shall find Him whom their hearts desire. And it is this Canaanite woman who leads the way for all Gentile people to receive the grace and favor of the One God. On her knees she comes, crawling like a dog, this mother of all us not born of Jewish blood, to be grafted to the kingdom’s tree. Here is a sign of the humility we all must have. And when rebuffed she does not answer, “Who are you?” and leave in anger, but drops further on her face, pleading f[...]
Mon, 01 Aug 2016 19:05:00 +0000O priest of the Blessed Sacrament, you gave your life in sacrifice at the altar of the Lord and in all the trials of this earth; you suffered all for Jesus and desired only to bring souls, all the children of God, to receive Him and His grace in the Sacrament of Communion, in oneness with our Lord – pray, O priest of Christ, that our very lives shall also be offered in sacrifice, especially in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and in reception of His Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray particularly that our priests will know the profound call upon their souls to make Him present in this world and be as inspired with holy devotion as were you, dear saint. Pray our hunger for His Presence increase.
Mon, 01 Aug 2016 19:00:00 +0000O vigorous defender of the divinity of Christ, you who suffered exile for your work for the faith, you who had a true shepherd’s heart and cared so deeply for the priests and people the Lord placed in your hands – pray the shepherds of the Church today will strive with your same selfless zeal to bring the love of the Son of God and the blessed demands of His call to every soul in their care, that the faith might increase and be known in all its fullness even to the ends of the earth. Pray and weep, O steadfast apostle, for all the members of Christ’s holy flock, that we shall be protected from false and specious claims, from wolves in sheep’s clothing who would enter and steal the faith of this holy Catholic Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.