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Last update: 2013-06-28

June 29 - Prayer to Sts. Peter and Paul

2013-06-28
Length: 1s

O most blessed apostles of the Lord upon whom the Church is founded and the faith goes forth, in you we cannot be shaken and the Lord’s reign extends to the ends of the earth – pray we always take refuge in His House and in the teaching of His mouth. It is you who preserve the authenticity of the faith; through you we may be assured the Spirit of God is with us, leading us out of the dark prison of this world along the narrow path to Heaven. Pray the chains fall from our hands and we heed the angel’s command, remaining faithful to the end, pouring out our lives like a libation. Feed the poor sheep in your care.…

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June 29 - Sts. Peter and Paul

2013-06-28
Length: 6s

Acts 12:1-11;   Ps.34:2-9;   2Tm.4:6-8,17-18;   Mt.16:13-19)   “On this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”   We go through death to life, for death has no power over us: the power of Jesus founded firmly on Peter, brought forward by Paul, and present in all the members of the Church and in its faith, has conquered death and leads us all to heaven. Today we celebrate the solid foundation of the Church in Peter, the man of faith, first of the apostles and rock upon whom we are firmly set; and Paul, the great Apostle, through whom that faith went out to “all the nations.”  Our readings today clearly manifest the faith we possess, which overcomes even death, in Jesus’ commissioning of Peter and in the example shown in the lives of both Peter and Paul. Our first reading describes Peter’s mystical release from prison and reveals in this act our own coming to the heavenly kingdom: the chains of sin fall from us, we are clothed in righteousness, and led through the snares of this world to freedom.  And it is he who holds “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” who is led out; and indeed by these keys, by this office and its grace, “the iron gate leading out to the city” opens before us “of itself.”  And in our second reading we find Paul declaring the faithful life he has led even unto the end, which he now faces, and that his fighting of the good fight has merited the crown which awaits him on the Day of Lord.  He is able to state with confidence, “The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.”  Finally, our psalm confirms the protection the Lord grants His faithful ones: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” We are sharers in this faith with Peter and Paul.  This is evident in the Church who “prayed fervently to God” on behalf of Peter, and whose prayers were answered in this astounding fashion, and is made certain in Paul’s proclaiming that Jesus gives the reward of a heavenly crown not only to Paul himself “but to all who have looked for His appearing with eager longing.”  The Church is one in all its members, and though the Lord has chosen certain of us to special places and granted them special blessings and powers, all are blessed by this same God. So, today as we rejoice in this faith with which we have been gifted by the Lord, as we “together extol His name,” let us consider the place we have in His holy Church and the work to which He calls us.  And let us resolve to fulfill that call, pouring ourselves out unto death, that we might be assured of our entering through the heavenly gate.  Let us walk in faith the narrow path the Lord has set before us, for it leads beyond death to life. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt. Music by Carie Fortney; performed by Carie Fortney and Annette Meyer.  Used by permission. ******* O LORD, may we be loosed from the chains of this earth that we might walk with you in Heaven.  YHWH, the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail against you and your Church.  To Peter you have given the keys to the kingdom and these shall open every lock the devil can devise; the chains fall from our wrists by the angel you send to guide us. You deliver us, LORD, from every evil and bring us into your heavenly kingdom.  The lion’s mouth shall not close upon us, nor any prison door keep us from you.  For we are redeemed by the sacrifice of your Son; in Him and in His blood your Church finds power and grace to facilitate release from all the wiles of the evil one.  Jesus sets your people on solid rock through His commissioning of His apostle Peter.  And your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth through Paul and all your disciples.  And so, on the day of your Son’s appearance, all shall enter freely through the eternal gates to dwell in your presence forever.  You have heard our cries to you, O LORD, and bring us quickly to Heaven.…

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June 30 - Sunday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Year C

2013-06-28
Length: 6s

(1Kgs.19:16b,19-21;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11;   Gal.5:1,13-18;   Lk.9:51-62)  “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” We must follow Jesus.  And the path He walks leads to the cross. Our gospel tells us, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  Jesus knows what awaits Him in Jerusalem.  He knows how He will weep over the city for its lack of faith, and He knows their lack of faith will bring His crucifixion.  Yet into the waiting arms of death He travels, undeterred.  And how many there are who proclaim their desire to walk with Him; how many volunteer to follow in His way.  But how little they know of the difficulty found on that road: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” – we must give up our homes.  “Let the dead bury the dead” – we must leave behind our family.  Yes, we must never look “to what was left behind,” namely, “the desire of the flesh” of which Paul speaks.  We are now “guided by the Spirit”; the flesh no longer holds sway over us.  That which is opposed to the Spirit we must give no thought to anymore. Look at Elisha, the powerful prophet, in our first reading.  He is called by the master, Elijah.  Yes, he fails to follow immediately, but look at what he does in saying good-bye to his family.  He takes what has been his livelihood to this day and sacrifices it utterly: he slaughters the oxen and even uses “the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,” giving the meat as food for his people.  Nothing remains to call him back; he effects a total departure from his old self. Brothers and sisters, we must take such complete refuge in the Lord.  We must say with David, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.”  All must be given over to Him and entrusted to His care.  It does us no good to hesitate on our journey with Him or take up things which will weigh us down along the way.  “Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” Paul exhorts us.  Leave all the desires of this world behind to find the freedom known only in heaven.  Then we will proclaim with David: “I set the Lord before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”  We will know His mantle of strength and protection in our call to walk with Him; the yoke of slavery to sin will be broken from our shoulders.  We are truly free, brothers and sisters, only insofar as we follow Him, submitting ourselves to the cross. O Lord, take all that keeps us back from following in your way, that in such death to self we may draw nigh to your kingdom.  Your cross is the path to life. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Hold On, Here We Go" (second part) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, may your Spirit guide us on the road to the Cross. YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom?  How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will?  Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it.  Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross.  For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way.  Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need. O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh.  How concerned we are about the things of this earth!  And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin?  Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days. O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love!  May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin.  Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.…

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June 28 - Prayer to St. Irenaeus

2013-06-27
Length: 1s

O great teacher of the Catholic faith who served to set a foundation upon which she could grow in peace and in truth, in the Spirit of God, you who valiantly defended her against attacks of heresy and shed your blood in the battle – pray we shall find shepherds today to explicate the faith of the apostles as clearly and loyally as you have done, that none shall be led astray into false doctrine by whim and fancy, by pride and envy, but drink rather the pure milk of our Mother and of the one true God. To vision of the Father let us come by revelation of His only-begotten Son.…

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June 28 - Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-27
Length: 5s

(Gn.17:1,9-10,15-22;   Ps.128:1-5;   Mt.8:1-4)  “Can Sarah give birth at ninety?” Abraham laughs to himself as he asks the question; and indeed many scoff at the idea today, or simply choose to reason the possibility away.  And can a leper be made clean in an instant, just by a touch of Jesus’ hand and the words “Be cured”?  Is the arm of God, who created the universe, somehow shortened to such miracles?  Why do we think it so?  Wherefore our lack of faith? God appears to this ninety-nine-year-old man and tells him whose wife is barren, in the words of our psalm: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table.”  And Abraham laughs.  (As will Sarah, too, upon hearing such news – thus the name of their child Isaac: “he laughs”.)  It’s an understandable reaction.  Who would not find the thought humorous?  But Abraham does something more than laugh: he also “prostrates himself” before the Lord, face to the floor.  How many of our modern scoffers would do such as this?  It is human to question, to doubt; but it is godly to humble oneself in faith.  There is a world of difference between a laugh of wonder and the scoffing of the skeptic.  The latter shall remain barren, never finding the living water that would make him fertile and fruitful; the former by his fear of the Lord opens himself to His favor, to His blessing – and such life-giving breath of blessing will make him bear fruit abundantly. This humble faith is perfectly evident in the leper as well, and is indeed the catalyst of his healing.  We are told the leper “came forward and did Him homage” – falling on his face like Abraham – and said to the Lord, “If you will to do so, you can cure me.”  First he shows humility, he shows fear of the Lord; then he expresses his faith.  Simply put, he believes in the power of God.  And so he is healed.  He is made whole, more whole indeed than the Pharisees and priests who stand by calculating how this can be. God does not come to the proud.  He does not show Himself to the self-righteous.  He cannot.  They refuse Him at every turn.  To the humble of heart, to the poor in spirit, the Lord is present – and His blessings they receive.  And miraculous are they beyond what the eye can see.   Amen. ******* O LORD, free us from all our disease by a word from your mouth, as we bow humbly before you.  YHWH, by a word from your mouth the barren womb bears fruit; by a word from your mouth we are healed.  Our reproach, our leprosy, is taken from those who come to you in faith, who bow before you in humility.  Only in this way are we saved – only in this way are our lives of any worth. In wonder we look upon your works, O LORD, in wonder and thanksgiving.  How can we not give you praise for your blessings upon us?  If we fear you and the hand you stretch forth to redeem our souls, we shall indeed know your blessings upon us through all generations. Laughter you put into our mouths, dear LORD, as we look upon your hand at work.  What joy you bring to the tired soul by your grace living amongst us!  Though we seemed at the point of death, though disease had taken hold – you have freed us to walk with you… in all our days your will is done.…

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June 27 - Prayer to St. Cyril of Alexandria

2013-06-26
Length: 1s

O great defender of the Mother of God and of the faith itself, courageously you declared that Jesus is God indeed, become Man in Mary His Mother; this you made plain for all to see, O shepherd of the people of God, that truth might reign and the Virgin might find her proper place among us – pray, O brave teacher, that we shall not be afraid to proclaim the truths inscribed by the Spirit upon the heart of the Church and in her inspired writings; and may indeed our Mother, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, be recognized for her preeminence amongst the saints, that the Word of the Lord might be fulfilled and all generations call her blessed.…

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June 27 - Thursday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-26
Length: 5s

(Gn.16:1-12,15-16;   Ps.106:1-5;   Mt.7:21-29)   “Anyone who hears my words but does not put them into practice is like the foolish man who built his house on sandy ground.”   The Lord hears our words and answers our cries, but He is not so interested in these as in our listening to His voice and remaining obedient to Him.  His desire is that we always strive to do His will; the recounting of our own deeds rings empty in His ears. It is ten years since the Lord’s call and promise to Abram.  Abram and Sarai grow old and the word of the Lord has not been fulfilled.  Sarai thinks to resolve the problem, taking matters in her own hands, and Abram, faltering in his faith and failing to turn to the Lord for guidance, instead “heeded Sarai’s request” to take Hagar as his concubine.  And oh what shaky ground Abram would stand upon now!  Oh what turmoil would be wrought by his failure to withstand the torrents that come with time!  For now the lashing of the winds would only increase; now his sin would bear a son who would be “a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone,” indeed in continual war with his kinsmen.  And when the son of the promise does finally come, his children will be subject to the yoke of the descendants of the son of this “Egyptian maid-servant.”  Four hundred years they themselves will become slaves to her offspring.  And persecution shall follow them through the desert and even into the Promised Land.  Though yet blessed, they will not come to the fulfillment of the peace of God;  only in the New Jerusalem founded in Jesus’ blood will the law given as their guide and the promise of the ages be fulfilled in God’s sight.  How empty our psalm rings today, for we are reminded by Abram’s fault that we do not “do always what is just”; we remember our own failures to patiently wait on the word of the Lord – we have now in mind our own lack of obedience in hearing and following His command.  We see the tangled web we weave when we take matters of our life into our own soiled hands. But this it is necessary to remember: by our own wills nothing is accomplished.  We can do nothing except by God.  And let us expect no recompense for that which has its beginning and end in the Lord.  Our house will be founded firmly only by silent obedience to the authoritative teaching of Christ. Jesus, forgive us all our wanderings in the thoughts of our own hearts.   Redeem all of mankind in your blood; conform us to the will of God.  Hear our cry.  Make us silent before you.  We are your unworthy servants. ******* O LORD, if we have you, we have everything, and so shall stand; without you we have nothing, and can only be destroyed – it is by your blessing we live and prosper.  YHWH, if you build our house, it is blessed, it is set solidly on rock.  But if we fail to hear and heed your voice, taking matters into our own corrupted hands, there is little hope for our salvation.  We cannot be saved if we do not listen to the Word your Son brings us, for only He speaks with authority. How difficult it is, LORD, not to listen to ourselves, not to be led astray by what seems right to our own minds.  Your promise is with us always, and it is sure.  Yet we cannot wait for its fulfillment, we cannot trust in your providence – even Abraham lacked faith that you would give him a son, and so he went in to his wife’s handmaid. And our sins do not lack consequence, dear LORD; you do not fail to punish those who go astray.  And so Ishmael will stand in opposition to all his kin; and so we are continually threatened by the fruits of our sin.  Yet you hear our plaintive cry.…

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June 26 - Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-25
Length: 5s

(Gn.15:1-12,17-18;   Ps.105:1-4,6-9;   Mt.7:15-20)   “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.”   In our gospel today, Jesus teaches us, “You can tell a tree by its fruit.”  And what can we tell of Abram but that he is a bountiful tree, faithful and strong.  Indeed, in his faith is his goodness, and in his children, who reach down even unto this day, his blessed fruit is known. What holy, gentle conversation the Lord has with Abram, coming to him in visions to speak to his soul, to thus nourish this tree which He has planted upon the earth.  And how faithful Abram is, patiently awaiting the growth which comes from God.  Here, my friends, is the Lord’s relationship with man exemplified.  This is how we should be with our God… seeking the Lord, asking Him the questions which are upon our hearts, believing Him as He speaks to us – as He surely does.  For such is our God to us: coming to us in our fears, reassuring our souls, remaining ever faithful to us as He brings to maturity the fruit He has planted in our spirit.  No doubt we should have of His blessing.  His promise is sure. And so with our psalmist we should celebrate; we should “glory in His holy name.”  For we are “descendants of Abraham,” partakers of the faith brought to fulfillment in Jesus, fruit of the tree of life.  And the Lord “remembers forever His covenant.”  This grace we have been given shall never leave us; the life within us shall remain.  And in our days, through our time, as we partake of our daily bread, the Lord continually speaks to us and blesses us, bringing our fruit to maturity as we progress and grow in His Name.  And we shall look upon our children’s children.  Our own trees shall indeed bear fruit in His light.  We must but remain faithful to Him; we must but keep diligent as Abram who, though “birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,” stayed by his holy sacrifice.  We shall see the false prophets of our age come to naught; we shall see these trees “cut down and thrown into the fire.”  And we will see and know the rebirth of true doctrine: our Church we will witness in all its heavenly glory.  “Fear not!” the Lord says to Abram, and so He speaks to us.  Our descendants shall be numerous as the stars.  With all the children of God we shall rejoice.  Keep faith in your hearts. ******* O LORD, how fruitful indeed is Abraham, whose spiritual children surpass the many nations born of his loins. YHWH, let us be fruitful in your sight.  Come to us and reassure us of your presence with us, of your blessing upon our souls, that we might enter into the Covenant you made with Abraham and be fruitful in faith as he.  O let our descendants be as the stars in the sky. O LORD, make us as your chosen ones, serving you constantly on this earth, and we shall rejoice forever in the glory of your kingdom with all your saints in light.  Steadfast let us be in doing your will, in keeping the wolves at bay.  May the sacrifice we offer be holy, and we be acceptable in your sight. Your voice make known to us, LORD; let us hear and answer your call.  A faith so simple and profound provide your disciples – make us as children before you.  And as we seek you so, let us find you....  May the blood of your Son course through our veins, and so we bear fruit all our days in your holy NAME.…

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June 25 - Tuesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-24
Length: 6s

(Gn.13:2,5-18;   Ps.15:1-5;   Mt.7:6,12-14;)   “How narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it!”   In our first reading today, the way Abram walks with God is contrasted with the path Lot chooses for himself.  Though the road seems wide and clear, this gate leads to damnation, and indeed, as our gospel states, is one which is chosen by the traveler himself; whereas the narrow path is one which is found in God. Lot and Abram could no longer dwell together; their possessions were too great and the tensions were too high among their servants.  Taking “no reproach against his neighbor,” acting as the just soul spoken of in our psalm, “Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife between you and me,’” and put the whole land at his disposal, offering to take what remained.  So “Lot looked about,” Scripture tells us, to see what pleased his eyes, and then “chose for himself,” again the words of Scripture, that broad expanse of land which he thought would be fruitful for his needs.  And where does this decision he takes by the sight of his own eyes lead him?  To the depraved, to the reprobate, to the dogs and swine – to the infamous land of Sodom, whose people “were very wicked in the sins they committed against the Lord.”  To such we are led by our senses. Once Lot is gone, how is Abram led to his destination – are his feet led by his own eyes as well?  No, the Lord comes to Him as guide.  It is He who tells him to “set forth and walk about in the land.”  It is again God and his faith which serve as his light.  And what promise there is by way of this path!  But what difficulties one must face to attain it. When Abram arrived at his destination, “he built an altar to the Lord.”  (In what contrast is this altar to the unholy sacrifices offered at Sodom.)  The altar of Abram signifies both the faith of this just man and the sacrifice necessary to walk with God and find the life to which He leads us.  We know that Abram’s path will be particularly rough, as will be that of his descendants.  There will be slavery and wandering in the desert, and once come into the land of promise, it shall not remain with them.  Indeed, it is only we now in the Spirit following the coming of Christ for whom that promise is fulfilled.  And yet do we struggle.  And yet every day must we examine our conscience and reform our lives to prepare ourselves to enter that gate which is so narrow.  No sin will it accept.  No foolish pride can exist in our hearts if we hope to enter life.  The way is rough, but what blessed protection the Lord gives by His guidance; and we “shall never be disturbed” by the trials of this world but come thereby to the sure promise of heaven. *******  O LORD, the wide road of the world leads to damnation; the narrow gate of the Cross of Christ takes us to Heaven.  YHWH, let us be just, as Abraham, and as faithful to your Word.  Not by our own eyes let us set forth, but led by your command.  Your narrow way let us follow, the way that leads to life. The just man thinks only the truth in his heart, and does not slander his fellow man.  He is a man of peace who takes up no reproach against his neighbor but gives him preference of place.  This is what it means to treat others as we would be treated, for when we give others such deference (as Abraham does for Lot), you, O LORD, defer to us… and we are truly blessed.  For no one is as just as you. Let us come to know your justice, LORD, and we shall be kept from the dogs and swine.  Through the narrow gate let us enter and not the gate that is clear and wide, and we shall be preserved from all evil – for you will be at our side.  And though the Cross does enter into our lives, it only serves to bless us with passage into your Promised Land.…

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June 24 - Birth of St. John the Baptist

2013-06-23
Length: 4s

(Is.49:1-6;   Ps.139:1-3,13-15;   Acts 13:22-26:   Lk.1:57-66,80)   “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”   The voice of one crying in the wilderness, he who hails the coming of the Lord, is born today.  This voice speaks of the Word among us.  And from before his birth he is called, in the womb he is formed, to proclaim with the sword of truth God’s salvation for His people.  “Surely the hand of the Lord was with him,” and surely we find the grace of God by walking the path he blazed for us in the desert; for surely that way leads to the glory who is the Son of David. Yes, “to us this word of salvation has been sent.”  To us this light has been brought forth.  We “distant peoples” hear now the call of the voice which pierces our souls: Make straight the way of the Lord!  The tongue now speaks; no longer silenced, no longer hidden, it has risen from “the depths of the earth” to plainly declare the coming of Christ.  Yes, in the womb of the Old Testament the Lord wonderfully formed the salvation of Israel, probing and scrutinizing all its ways and preparing it for birth in the light of day.  And now what He hid in His quiver He shoots forth to wound with amazement the hearts who have waited to hear the Word of life.  “John heralded His coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel”; by his voice a place is made for the Savior, Jesus. At the turning point of the history of salvation John stands.  He has come to direct souls to the Promised Land.  For this he was made.  To this call he answers – to lead us to the Son of Man.  The old is passed away; now all is made new.  Fulfillment has come.  The womb has brought forth.  The time of salvation is here.  For He through whom time and the earth and heavens were made is now come to wash even the dirt from our feet.  Listen to the voice which hails the Word of God in our midst.  His call is for all ears; the light shines for all “who are God-fearing.” Your recompense is upon you now.  You, too, make known His light to the world. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, your Word of salvation you speak through the mouth of John, whom you have blessed with your might and power. YHWH, your Word of salvation goes forth to the ends of the earth, proclaimed through the mouth of John, the fulfillment of the prophets of Israel.  In his birth what is old passes away, and what is new comes.  Now the light of the nations enters this house. Loose our tongues to declare your glory, dear LORD.  You who have formed us in the depths of the earth, in the womb of the Church, now gather us into your arms that we might be raised unto the glory of your Son, brought into union with you who are our Father and our God.  O may we share your Name as we are born into your kingdom! Let your hand be upon us for good, O LORD; let your will be accomplished in us as it has been in John.  Let all souls know that it is you who probe us and know us, you who understand all our thoughts and ways.  May all our thoughts and actions be in accord with your own, and so in all things let us declare to all that your Son has come – O let us be His servants!…

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June 22 - Prayer to Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More

2013-06-21
Length: 1s

O kings of martyrdom who indeed laid down your very lives rather than heed the dictates of an evil emperor, whose loyalty to the Lord and the Church He established stands unparalleled, your defense of the faith and conscience written in the blood you shed – pray that the mediocrity, the utter inability to stand for truth in this relativist age, will be defeated by souls founded firmly in the Spirit of Christ and in the Cross He offers forth for our salvation. Pray for leaders of Church and State to embrace your singular devotion.…

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June 22 - Prayer to St. Paulinus of Nola

2013-06-21
Length: 1s

O lover of poverty who gave up great wealth to find her abiding within the walls of your heart, a heart which turned thus to God’s people and the shepherding of them with great care – pray that we too may hear and come to realize in our lives the call of our Lord to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom, to be attached to nothing but service of the poor, service of God Himself in the humble of this earth; pray that like you we may have the heart of a shepherd, of a laborer in Jesus’ vineyard, united in the Spirit with all God’s children with whom we share His Heaven.…

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June 23 - Sunday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year C

2013-06-21
Length: 6s

(Zec.12:10-11,13:1;   Ps.63:2-6,8-9;   Gal.3:26-29;   Lk.9:18-24)  “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.” Jesus is the Christ of God.  It is He who suffers, He who has been pierced for our sins, and He whose blood cleanses us as we look upon Him, as we cry out in tears for the pain we have caused Him and resolve to follow Him now in His way of the cross.  What is the “fountain to purify from sin” but the blood poured forth in His sacrifice, and what is it we thirst for but to drink in full the grace contained therein?  And it is our great grace to suffer with Him, to take up our cross daily and share in His sacrifice, denying ourselves to find Him and His life.  This is what makes us one, with Him and so with one another: this is the baptism that redeems us and makes us whole. Do we live out our baptismal vows?  Do we follow Him in the way of the cross?  Are we truly longing for the Lord, pining for Him, gazing upon Him – what is the banquet we seek to satisfy our souls?  Are we one in His Spirit, loving Him above all others?  Or do we set our souls on the empty pleasures of this life?  These we must lose to find Him.  Here in solitude the Lord tells the disciples quietly and sincerely, knowing the vanity and thirst for power the devil would plant in their souls – “The Son of Man must suffer greatly.”  How He desires them to hear His teaching.  How He longs to keep them from the evil one and see that their hearts are not fixed on this life.  He knows only this will save them.  He knows only repentance brings the life of God, and so He approaches them in the silence of God that His words might sink deeply into them. And they will listen.  And they, too, will all die.  They will understand the sacrifice that leads to life.  And what of us?  The Lord speaks to us, too, today.  His words are here written down and proclaimed for our ears to treasure.  Do we turn to this fountain of forgiveness, mourning for our sins “as one mourns for an only son”?  And does our mourning lead us to lay down our lives? Nothing of this world will suffice.  His Body and Blood alone are our food and drink here in this life.  They make us one and make us strong, and by them He will uphold us, if our hearts are set on losing this life to find Him. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Blood in My Palate" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, in the Cross let us find your cleansing fountain.  YHWH, we look toward your sanctuary and what do we see but your Son pierced for our sins?  And so we mourn, and so we cry… and it is in these tears we are washed clean – baptism in His blood purifies us of sin.  And so, in the shadow of His wings we rejoice. For now, O LORD, our souls may cling to you; by the sacrifice of your Son we are made one with Him and with one another.  And His call to take up our own cross, to share in His sacrifice, we receive with great joy; for He has shown us that it is this path that leads to salvation, that leads to eternal glory in your presence. O let us enter your sanctuary this day, LORD our God!  Let us join ourselves to the offering Jesus makes for our sakes, eating His Body and drinking His Blood and doing your will as He has done.  At the banquet of Heaven let our souls be satisfied!…

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Share: June 23 - Sunday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Year C


June 22 - Saturday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-21
Length: 5s

(2Cor.12:1-10;   Ps.34:8-13;   Mt.6:24-34)   “Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides.”   The call to treasure in heaven continues.  What care we for the things of this earth?  What is money, what are food and clothing to us?  Indeed, they must not be our concern.  And what matter to us is our bereavement of these things and other like afflictions which the world may inflict upon us.  We are called to be like Paul and be “content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress,” yes, even to boast about such weaknesses in the flesh, because we know that when the world attacks us, Jesus comes to save us.  “In weakness power reaches perfection,” for when we are afflicted we share in the very “power of Christ,” which is all we can depend on in such times, and which comes to us without fail.  Thus even our persecutions become cause for rejoicing and proclaiming with David, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” There is a weakness we should avoid, however.  The beatings which come to us from outside us are indeed an opportunity for celebration; but the weakness of being distracted by the cares of the flesh and its pleasures is not to be ours.  The Lord speaks lovingly to such weakness in us in our gospel today, gently calling us away from such preoccupation, for He knows, and states quite clearly, that such distractions will keep us from the gates of heaven.  “You cannot give yourself to God and money.”  We cannot be divided in this way.  Our hearts must be set on the holiness of God, trusting even the needs of the flesh to His care, in order to come to vision of heaven – in order to know Christ the Lord and the Father to whom He leads us.  Jesus is not concerned for these things and neither should we be.  Whether we have or not and in what measure should not matter.  We must find the vision of the Lord which rejoices even in our utter bereavement of all things of the earth.  Indeed, we cannot come to heaven until we die.  “Running after these things” will only kill the life of Christ in us; it is death to such concern which will bring us the true life of heaven. All that we need will be given us, brothers and sisters, if we set our hearts on Christ.  The Lord is not blind to our needs.  He sees all and is ever near to assist us in all our troubles.  “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”  We shall “want for no good thing” if we but seek His face.  Readiness for heaven must now be with us. ******* O LORD, how weak we are as we struggle in this world, the Cross placed upon our backs – but O the power of your grace at work within us! YHWH, what a blessing it is to share in the sufferings of your Son, for then we share in His glory – it is then He is with us; it is then your angel watches over us. What need we fear of the persecutions of this world if you are at our side?  And if we put our trust in you, will you not provide?  What is food and what is clothing, what are all the riches of this earth but things that pass with the dawning day?  But you do not pass away.  You hold all these things in your hand.  And so, if in our weakness we find ourselves in need of assistance, you are ready to help us.  Indeed, this is your great pleasure, O holy LORD. Help us to depend on your grace, LORD, for nothing can come to us except as a gift from your loving heart.  We shall indeed prosper on this earth and come quickly to the glory of Heaven, if we but take our refuge in you, if we but learn to trust in your care.  Thank you for your goodness, which is always with us.…

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Share: June 22 - Saturday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I


June 21 - Prayer to St. Aloysius Gonzaga

2013-06-20
Length: 1s

O patron of youth whose innocence was unsurpassed, whose desire to give yourself to the Lord in poverty and purity led you to relinquish your wealth in this world at a tender age that you might embrace Jesus fully – pray for the youth of our day and the child in each of our souls, that all might turn away from the temptations which surround and threaten to enter and enslave; let all turn toward the love of the Lord and His heavenly call, a call to a kingdom that surpasses everything of this earth and brings the joy known only in breathing and speaking His holy Name.…

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June 21 - Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-20
Length: 5s

(2Cor.11:18,21-30;   Ps.34:2-7,18;   Mt.6:19-23)   “Store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal.”   It is clear where Paul’s treasure lies, and where it does not lie.  In the litany of the sufferings and afflictions he has endured as a “minister of Christ,” we understand without question his utter lack of concern for the things of this world.  How could it be otherwise with one who sacrifices himself so completely, readily bearing “labors” and “beatings” at every turn?  He gives not only all his possessions, but his very body for the cause of the gospel.  This is where his treasure lies – in Jesus and in His word – and he lays down all of this earth to see that blessed Word planted in the souls of all and grow to eternal life.  Beatings and stoning and hunger are as nothing to him; it is “anxiety for all the churches” which causes him the greatest pain. And now, though the moths and rust of this world could not touch him and he remained untroubled by the thieves who waylay ships at sea, there is another kind of thief who is attempting to break in and steal, to steal that about which he is concerned the most.  False prophets have come along to influence his flock, and this corruption of the Word he cannot bear; so in this emotional diatribe he in effect calls on the Lord to open the eyes of the churches.  And it is not only those at Corinth who need to be roused from their stupor of nodding approval to the voices of all who come speaking high-sounding words in God’s Name: we today and everywhere must heed the call to be on guard against the thieves who would break into our souls.  How strong and knowledgeable must we be in our faith, now with a history of Church teaching behind us – but how weak we often are. Paul’s words were as caustic salve healing the wounds of his people.  I pray they may be so now in calling us to right Church teaching.  Each day we hear from those preaching the comfort to be taken in earthly treasure as they bow toward the god of this world – let us stand with eyes of holy light and speak of the unfading glory of heaven.  On this may our hearts be set and on the word of Jesus, that all our afflictions will be as so much dust blown away by the wind, by the Spirit of Truth.  In Him let us take our refuge. ******* O LORD, the darkness of this world is deep indeed; but we are not overcome by it, for we do not live in it but in the light of Christ. YHWH, let our light not be darkness; let us not set our hearts on the things of this world but on the things of Heaven.  Attached to this earth we would perish in sin – let us be aflame with the Spirit. Why should we care if we must be beaten, if the threats of thieves surround our souls?  The dangers of the world are as nothing, for what can they take from us but this mortal flesh?  Our affliction comes only in seeing others fall into sin; our only fear is for their immortal souls, and our own.  O LORD, let all stay close to you. May all your children extol your NAME in the heavenly kingdom.  May we all shine forth your light, even now while here on this dying earth.  Let its corruptibility not touch us, LORD, as we set our hearts on doing your will.  Be the light that shines in our eyes and our minds and we shall never go astray but through all trials increase in faith and come at last to eternal joy in your presence.…

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Share: June 21 - Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I


June 20 - Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-19
Length: 5s

(2Cor.11:1-11;   Ps.111:1-4,7-8;   Mt.6:7-15)   “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”   And what we need is to be holy as He is holy.  And it is this we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer.  We simply seek to be like Him, and that all obstacles to holiness be removed from us.  And like a loving father He meets our needs. And Paul is a father to the community at Corinth; he loves them “with the jealousy of God Himself.”  He has given them in marriage to Christ and is solicitous that the wedding chamber not be corrupted by false doctrine.  “Super apostles” have come among them who “win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words,” rattling on like empty wind and taking money from Paul’s children for the sound and the fury they bring.  But they signify nothing by all their skill; they are but ravenous wolves amidst the flock. Paul says of himself, “I may be unskilled in speech but I know that I am not lacking in knowledge”; and how his words echo Christ’s own, that we should not get lost in mere words.  And how like a father knowing and caring for the needs of his children is Paul.  In our psalm, too, is reflected the Father’s “gracious and merciful” nature which Paul shows to the Corinthians: “Sure are all His precepts… wrought in truth and equity.”  This knowledge of God is what must be conveyed, and it is this Paul offers the people.  And like a caring father who provides sacrificially for his children, Paul refuses to take return from them for his work: his work among them is a labor of love for which he seeks no recompense.  By this they must learn how freely God gives to those who seek Him and be purged of their notion that it is those whom they pay, and greatly, who care for them.  Indeed, the Father knows always what we need, and gives it freely to those who simply come as repentant children.  He exacts no cost and requires no dramatics to receive His presence and His love. Forgive my folly here, but why do you turn to the icons and idols of this glamorous age to find the peace you seek, when in His Church the Father waits to answer all your needs?  Do not be led astray by the powerful-seeming images which surround us in this day; come to the Lord of all, and before Him in silence kneel and pray:    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us. Subject us not to the trial but deliver us from the evil one.”     Amen. ******* O LORD, you know what we need and provide our food, the Bread He is, through the apostles. YHWH, let us not be seduced by our pride – it is not by our own words and our own will we shall come to Heaven.  It is you who must inspire us; we must but be your humble servants.  Then great deeds will be accomplished in us, for it will be your work alone that we do. You, O LORD, are faithful and just to all who call upon you in truth, to all who have faith in your enduring love.  Those who share your mercy with others are blessed with freedom from all cares, for in your mercy the evil one finds no place.  Let all souls pray to you and know that you desire to give us all we need. You are not blind, O LORD, to our plight; we know nothing of which you are unaware.  And so let us not reach out our hands to the fruit of disobedience – let us not seek in ourselves or in those around us the glory that comes only from you.  Then we shall remain in your Garden forever, doing the work for which you made us.  Then we shall be wed to your Son.…

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Share: June 20 - Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I


June 19 - Prayer to St. Romuald

2013-06-18
Length: 1s

O sign of perfect solitude who heeded so well the Lord’s command to enter into your closet in order to pray, whose great measure of self-denial led you to the peak of contemplation in God’s holy presence, whose only desire was that souls might draw close to Him – pray all who seek the Lord may approach Him with a whole heart, a heart set on Him alone, that in such perfect devotion all might find Him present in their souls, in their spirits, and be elevated in their lowliness to His indescribable divine love, to His peace which passes all our understanding but draws us ever closer to His wounded side.…

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June 19 - Wednesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-18
Length: 6s

(2Cor.9:6-11;   Ps.112:1-4,9;   Mt.6:1-6,16-18)   “Keep your deeds of mercy secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”     In the ground, hidden and secret, the seed is planted.  From the womb of the earth it sprouts, and gives its yield.  We plant the seed; God provides the seed.  And it is through His power that anything which we plant grows and increases.  So it is with our generous acts, as well as our prayer and fasting. “Happy the man who fears the Lord… His generosity shall endure forever.”  For “He who supplies seed for the sower and bread for the eater will provide in abundance; He will multiply the seed you sow and increase your generous yield.”  Trusting in Him, we shall know His blessings; and greater blessings than these shall we know and shall others know, who praise God for the gifts He provides.  Wonderful it is to behold God’s ever-increasing generosity; more wonderful yet to participate in it.  It is a fountain welling up to eternal life, in which we are cleansed and made of light. But let us take to heart the warning of the Lord this day: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for others to see.”  The world does not see God, it cannot know God.  Thus God is termed “hidden” and “secret.”  And though we are to make God known to the world, we cannot do so unless we exist where He is.  In the recesses of our heart, in the quiet, we shall find Him.  In the center of our being we must place Him.  Closing the doors of our rooms, entering the stillness of our souls… kneeling there we shall find Him.  And He shall hear us, and He shall reward us with the blessing of answered prayer, of fruitful yield in His Name.  If we do not remain with Him there in secret – even in the midst of the city, even among the distractions of this world – all our actions will be in vain.  It does us no good to gain the whole world and lose our souls; and all our good deeds are empty show without Him who is goodness at their core. “He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully.”  Let us know the blessing of bearing fruit in God.  Let us give generously, knowing that for all the good we do, the Lord will provide yet more seed for us to sow, and we shall reap in abundance His heavenly blessings.  If we do all without fanfare, but quietly, humbly, secretly trusting all to His care – the blessing of His presence we shall keep with us, and we shall see our works and our prayers bear fruit in the kingdom of God.   May God bless all humble souls with His bounty. May He reveal Himself to their hearts. ******* O LORD, let us give all we have, and give always from the heart, and we will be giving with you… and you will increase our yield. YHWH, let us cheerfully give to you all we have; all we have is from you and so it is but justice that we place all in your hands.  You will multiply our offering if in sincerity we sacrifice it to you. In secret let us keep our deeds of mercy; hidden in the depths of our soul, let them grow by your Spirit.  In the stillness you reside, and so, there we shall find you.  There you shall hear and bless our prayers.  O LORD, let our prayers rise up to you! Help us to trust in you, dear God, and in your generous love.  You wish to bless us with all that is good but cannot do so unless we believe in your goodness, unless we reflect your grace and mercy in our lives.  We are called to live with you and remain with you.  Let the light of faith dawn upon us this day. Then we shall fear nothing; then we shall live in awe of your presence, LORD.  Your glory dwelling in us and shining through us, we shall be greatly blessed.  Then we shall give freely to all!…

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Share: June 19 - Wednesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I


June 18 - Tuesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-17
Length: 6s

(2Cor.8:1-9;   Ps.146:2,5-9;   Mt.5:43-48)   “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.”   Our psalm today begins with praise of God and the proclamation of the happiness of those “whose hope is in the Lord,” for it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “raises up those that were bowed down.”  Freeing captives, giving sight to the blind, protecting strangers… such is our God and Father.  And in our gospel Jesus tells us, “You are sons of your heavenly Father,” and “you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  We must be His image, doing the things He does. Paul presents Jesus, the only Son of the Father, as our model in generosity.  In his gentle reminder he states: “For your sake He made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty.”  He also presents to us the Macedonians, whose “overflowing joy and deep poverty have produced an abundant generosity.”  And Jesus makes clear that our generosity, our “sharing in the service” of God, must extend beyond our friends.  The Father makes no distinction – “His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust” – and so we are challenged “to know the grace of God” completely by giving our love to all, even as Christ’s arms are open to everyone as He hangs on the cross. How is it that poverty produces such generosity?  And how can we share in both with our God?  The poverty of which the Apostle speaks and which Jesus exemplifies and calls us to follow is the emptying of self of all which is our own, and in the very act of emptying, of giving, is generosity itself.  Whether it be a man of riches handing over his money or a man of great love performing acts of kindness, he who has is divesting himself of that which he has to enrich another.  We remember that when the woman touched the hem of His garment, Jesus perceived power had gone forth from Him (Mk.5:30).  Here is that emptying of love to heal the other.  And on the cross, of course, Jesus emptied Himself completely… and so He died. Should we be afraid, brothers and sisters, of sharing so completely in Jesus’ love?  Do we think that if we give to others, we will have nothing remaining for ourselves?  Is Jesus hanging on the cross the end of the story?  No, brothers and sisters, we should not be afraid.  We must see, indeed, that the more we give, whether of money or of love, the more we are bound to receive.  Do you think that God does not see your generosity?  Do you not realize that He rewards those who are His children?  Do you think Christ still hangs on the cross?  Come to the holiness of God, brothers and sisters; there is no greater grace on earth.  Give of yourselves entirely, love even your enemies, and you shall know in ineffable wonder the surpassing love of God for all.  Such is our call and our joy. ******* O LORD, let us be perfect as you are perfect, loving as Jesus on the Cross – we will not know you otherwise. YHWH, how shall we be made perfect as you are perfect; how shall we love as Jesus on the Cross?  You alone are generous in giving.  You are only of love.  Help us to be unsparing as you who have given us your only Son. It is you who provide seed, you who provide bread.  We can produce no nourishment for our lives or the lives of others by our own hands.  All is yours, but you will give abundantly to those who seek to love as you.  All we need we will have, O LORD, and more, if we empty ourselves of all we own. O make us ready to give all over to you, to love as you do!  Let us not be afraid to share our very lives even with those who would kill us.  To them let us give more freely, for they need your love all the more.  You cannot but help love all those in need, LORD, to feed the hungry, to give sight to the blind, to set captives free… and we who hope in you, what else can we do but reflect your eternal glory?…

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June 17 - Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-16
Length: 7s

(2Cor.6:1-10;   Ps.98:1-4;   Mt.5:38-42)   “When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other.”   “Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!”  Alleluia!  And how do we know the salvation of the Lord except by the cross.  This is our joy.  These “difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, and riots”; the “hard work, sleepless nights, and fastings” – these crosses bring us immeasurable joy, for through them we share in the suffering of Christ and so also in His resurrection glory.  Thus the Lord can encourage us not to seek to avoid such suffering; thus He instructs us to be prepared to suffer over and above that which comes to us – for He knows that as we give of ourselves in this ready way, as we lay down our lives without hesitation, we shall find ourselves in the hand of God, we shall come quickly to join Him in heaven.  With Paul, we must “present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials,” and His salvation will be made known in us.  And we will rejoice with Paul in all our sorrows.  And we will be able to exclaim with him, “We seem to have nothing, yet everything is ours!”  For the fullness of Christ will reside with us. Give.  Give, and do not count the cost.  How hard it is for us to freely give of our possessions, much less of our very lives.  Are we ready to “give to the man who begs” from us?  Are we prepared to care for others’ needs?  Or do we hold tightly to our possessions, calling them our own?  And what of the possession of our pride and the protection of ourselves from injury?  What of our judgment of others?  Are we ready to give these up so completely?  Can we turn the other cheek to those who do us wrong, offering the pain to God and finding great comfort there, or do we need to strike back against the offending party, exacting the retribution due us according to the law?  Do we indeed live by the law, or have we transcended the law: do we now live by the Law of love?  Are we a new creation in Christ? It is not easy to lay down our lives in such a way as Christ calls us.  The world ever mocks the absurdity of this sacrifice.  But we who are in Jesus should know the absolute truth of Paul’s words and Jesus’ instruction.  If we are to be Christians, we must know the joy and freedom that come from suffering all with Him who is our salvation.  He is all that matters.  If we have Him, we have all things.  Come to this truth, brothers and sisters; leave behind the fears wrought by attachment to the things of this world.  This world is of sin, anyway.  As we lose our possessions for Him, He gives us all the more.  As the body dies, the spirit comes to life.  What the devil would take from us, let us give him, for he cannot touch the life that is Christ: our souls are in the hand of God.  And, as with Job, all will be restored to us, and more, in the day of the Lord.  So, “wielding the weapons of righteousness with right hand and left,” let us learn always to turn the other cheek to our persecutors. ******* O LORD, grant us the grace to endure all trials in patience and with love, that we may give witness to your salvation at work in us. YHWH, your salvation has come to us, and it comes in the form of a Cross; in the suffering and death of your Son we are set free to rejoice in you.  Though we seem to have nothing, though we be beaten and robbed, yet Jesus is with us, and with Him everything is ours.  O let us accept the salvation that He brings this day!  Let us be patient amid all trials and we will know your presence among us. Help us, dear LORD, to walk with your Son on the way of the Cross.  He is struck repeatedly; He is stripped and forced to carry the burden of our sin.  We beg you not to turn your back on us, though we have turned our backs on Him.  Help us to do what we are unable to do – to give witness to the truth and love of the Christ… to endure all as He has done. O to be disciples of Him who saves us!  O to know His holy innocence and unending life!  O to sing with joy to you, dear God, in the unbreakable Spirit of your Son.…

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Share: June 17 - Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I


June 16 - Sunday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Year C

2013-06-14
Length: 6s

(2Sm.12:7-10,13;   Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11;   Gal.2:16,19-21;   Lk.7:36-8:3)  “I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin.” “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  It is Christ the Lord, the promised One, the Messiah – the Savior of the human race.  But the Pharisee and the others at table “nullify the grace of God.”  Simon does not welcome Jesus as a prophet, a brother, or even a respected traveler; instead, he sits back in judgment of the Son of Man: “If this man were a prophet…” he speculates to himself, all the while blind to the tears of the woman, ever remaining cold to her repentance.  And even when Jesus speaks to him by name and confronts him with his own guilt, even after he reveals to him the coldness of his welcome to Him whom he should be glorifying, he is not repentant.  He cannot be forgiven even a little, for he has no love in his heart. How different David’s reaction (in our first reading) to the exposure of his great sin to the light.  He does not hide from the truth.  He does not pretend all is well.  He falls to his knees in tears and confesses his guilt at the feet of the prophet of God.  And so he finds forgiveness.  David recognizes the chastising hand of the Lord and the great grace that is found by it.  The woman, too, sees the truth of her sins in the face of Christ and longs to find the grace of forgiveness.  The Pharisee hardens his heart. “A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ,” Paul proclaims in our second reading.  It is not that the law is bad or that it should be abandoned, as Christ Himself confirms; it is simply that the law alone will not bring us to justification, it does not serve to make us one with God – the death of Christ and faith in Him is necessary for this.  If the Pharisee had truly kept the law well, he would have recognized and celebrated Jesus’ coming, for, indeed, He and His love are the very heart of the law – to which Christ has also witnessed.  The greatest commandment is recognized by the whole nation of Israel as love of God and neighbor.  But the Pharisee fails even to exhibit basic hospitality, an essential work of the law, to the Lord.  He knows not Jesus because his adherence to the law is false, is but a pretense.  If he followed the law rightly it would lead him to the justification found in Jesus; but love, the heart of the law, is far from his sight. Let us, brothers and sisters, not be blind as the Pharisee.  Let us not take refuge in our own works and ignore the Lord who walks amongst us.  If we do not recognize our sins against Him, we shall never come to the light of salvation, we shall never know His surpassing love.  Let us be as David and as the woman: let us “bathe His feet” with our tears of repentance.  He is waiting to forgive. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Cry Mercy" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, cast all evil from our hearts that we might walk in the company of your Son. YHWH, may we have faith in you and in your Son that we might be saved from our sin and share in your love.  It is this grace Jesus comes to impart to us: the forgiveness of our sins.  How we should rejoice that you look upon our tears! To even the worst of sinners you show great pity; we may say that these deserve your mercy even more.  For those who recognize the depth of their sin against you, you raise to great heights, O LORD.  And it is not so much repentance of sin itself that opens us to your saving hand upon us, but our realization of the glory before us in your only Son and how no soul is able to stand in the overwhelming light of His presence. And so let us all fall at the feet of Christ with tears pouring from our eyes, in repentance for our sins, yes, but more so for the surpassing love He offers freely to all who believe in Him… and so come to you.  Take away the guilt of our sin, dearest God.…

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June 15 - Saturday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-14
Length: 5s

(2Cor.5:14-21;   Ps.103:1-4,8-9,11-12;   Mt.5:33-37)  “The love of Christ impels us who have reached the conviction that since one died for all, all died.” How strong is Paul’s “yes” for the Lord.  With what ardor does he cry out: “The old order is passed away; now all is new!”  How purely he is led in the Spirit to call to our very souls, “In Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!”  He has no need to swear by earth or heaven of his conviction that Jesus died for our salvation.  He is indeed a new creation and can but speak of that which he knows to the depths of his soul; driven by the miracle of his own reconciliation to God, he desires naturally – by the supernatural grace at work within him – to draw others to “become the very holiness of God.” Paul sings out with our psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being bless His holy name.”  He cries out with David: “He pardons all your iniquities, He heals all your ills.”  This is the truth which impels him, which he cannot but preach – that our sins are forgiven in Christ the Lord and we need but to come to Him to be raised up to new life.  This is His ministry of reconciliation; this is the message entrusted to him… and he must appeal for God’s holy will to be accomplished in us. Let me join in his shout, let me state so unequivocally – let us all be convicted with Paul of the love God has for us, of the death He has died for us… of the new life we have in Him.  Yes, let us indeed shout it from the rooftops, let us cry it out for all to hear.  Many are on the path to destruction, many are dying in their transgressions; all are inclined to the condemnation the devil has wrought in our lives, and all must be encouraged, all must hear the exhortation to turn from their sins.  May we give our “yes” firmly to God and our “no” firmly to the devil, that others might know in our very lives of the holiness of God and the glory to which He calls us. “Merciful and gracious is the Lord”: this the world must know.  “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us”: this the sinful heart wallowing in the darkness of doubt must hear.  The blood of Christ must be shown to all.  Let us not hesitate to speak the great truth of God’s salvation through Christ the Son.  Let us not fail to live His new life every day of our lives. The Lord calls.  The sound of His voice is unmistakable.  All our sin is dead in Him; through Him we are raised to life.  May this Word go forth to the ends of the earth, and may we help carry it there. ******* O LORD, by Jesus’ grace let us be reconciled to you – let us say Yes to Him and No to the world. YHWH, let us be reconciled to you.  Let us be a new creation through Christ your Son and give our ‘yes’ ever to your will.  Sure of soul let us be, of the salvation you bring in Jesus and His messengers.  He has died for our sakes that we might be raised with Him.  O let our transgressions be far from us this day! What kindness you show to your wayward sons, O LORD.  None of us has been found worthy of your kingdom, but in Jesus all our sins you wash away that we might stand in your presence.  May all hear the call of the Apostle to our souls and be reconciled to you in Jesus’ Name.  May all know the grace and mercy you offer freely forth. Make us simple and make us sure; let us in all things do your will, giving our ‘yes’ to you and our ‘no’ firmly to the evil one.  Then to Heaven we will come, LORD, to dwell with you upon your throne – O let us enter the New Jerusalem as your sons and daughters impelled only by your love.…

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June 14 - Friday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-13
Length: 6s

(2Cor.4:7-15;   Ps.116:10-11,15-18;   Mt.5:27-32)  “While we live we are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh.” In our gospel we continue to see how the grace of Jesus supersedes the Law of Moses.  Yesterday we were told not only must we not murder, but that we must not even be angry with or speak ill of another.  Today Jesus tells us the commandment against adultery applies even to our eyes, to our thoughts, and that God allows no divorce…  And of what does Jesus speak but that which Paul tells us as well – that our bodies, our sinful flesh, must die in order for the glory of God contained therein to shine.  Jesus makes this graphically apparent when He speaks of gouging out our eye and cutting off our hand: the body must provide no hindrance to entering the reign of God, and so it must die; sin must indeed be rooted out of us.  “In earthen vessels” we are, weak and mortal, subject to the afflictions of time.  The trials of this world therefore do not escape us and indeed are necessary for us to overcome, to purify, our mortal flesh.  We must be chastised.  We must suffer.  But we do not suffer in vain.  “We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed.”  The trials of this earth have no ultimate hold over us; in fact, they do not lead to death but to life.  Why?  Solely because it is “the dying of Jesus” we carry in our bodies; entirely because we unite our suffering to Christ’s, it becomes redemptive and not destructive.  “We have that Spirit of faith,” and that Spirit of faith is life to us even in our greatest afflictions; and that Spirit of faith turns the deaths we undergo to new life.  How?  By our overcoming of these deaths and thereby giving death to sin. A man is addicted to alcohol – this is a temptation and an affliction for him.  By the power of Christ and faith in His Name, he puts down the bottle.  Who can measure the grace at work in him?  Who can capture the life he now knows?  And we all have our addictions, be they anger or lust or greed or whatever, and they all must be overcome.  And as we overcome them, what freedom do we find.  For in this we thwart the devil’s plan to bring us to destruction by the weakness of the flesh.  He does not like to see our faith in Jesus spawning such resurrections.  And neither does the world like to see a man make progress in God.  So the afflictions will be doubled; the world and the devil will attack our weak human vessels all the more.  But “precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones”; and the more we set aside the sins of the flesh, the more He will bless us – the greater He will preserve us from evil.  He that is in us is far greater than he that is in the world, brothers and sisters.  And the more the devil tempts us, the stronger only do we become, because the God of life holds even this purveyor of death in His all-powerful hand.  We must but have faith and we will find life; through all our afflictions we will rejoice. ******* O LORD, all must be sacrificed for the sake of the kingdom, and in the death of this mortal flesh we shall find life. YHWH, how sweet is the death of your faithful ones who unite themselves to the dying of your Son!  How blessed is the fruit of such sacrifice!  For not only is life revealed in the flesh of those who die for the sake of Jesus, but also in those to whom such witness speaks.  And so, indeed, let our bodies die, our earthen vessels be broken, that our spirits might live forever with you in Heaven. O LORD, despite the afflictions that come, though we are indeed delivered to death, yet we shall pay our vows in the presence of all your people; yet we shall remain faithful to our call to serve you by laying down our lives.  For we are not adulterers and we wish for no lover but you alone.  May we be wed to your Son in His sacrifice that we might be wed to Him in glory! All our bonds you loose, O LORD, when we are prepared to die, when we hold to nothing of this sinful life.  And so we shall not despair nor be destroyed even as we bleed for you and the love of our neighbor.…

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June 13 - Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua

2013-06-12
Length: 1s

O gentle preacher of the Word, the fire of the Holy Spirit upon your soul for the conversion of heretics and the leading of all   to God – hold us in your arms even as the infant Jesus who appeared to you along the way, and pray that the Word may be instilled in our hearts even as it was in your own, that we shall never go astray but always have the consolation of the Spirit of God and His love and innocence to lead us through this life till we find ourselves at home in the Father’s arms, where you dwell in peace with all His blessed saints. Pray for us, our teacher and brother, this day.…

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June 13 - Thursday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-12
Length: 5s

(2Cor.3:15-4:1,3-6;   Ps.85:9-14;   Mt.5:20-26)  “See the splendor of the gospel showing forth the glory of Christ.” Today the gospel is preached: Jesus, the image of God, has come among us, “glory dwelling in our land,” and removed the veil from our understanding so that now we “are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.”  The words of life are spoken by the Lord; the Holy Spirit comes amongst us as light to illumine our minds and lead us beyond the bounds of the law to the kingdom of God itself.  And we must live in that light, we must make it our own, becoming children of the light of the Spirit of God, “that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ.”  He has indeed come amongst us, salvation is at hand, and we must become perfect as the Father is perfect, as Jesus who is the pure reflection of the Father is perfect – we must allow the Spirit to remove any taint of darkness from our souls. Jesus tells us, “Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of God.”  Here He means that the law may lead us out of Egypt, it may serve to release us from the bonds of this world of sin, but this guard we have while treading this earth is not enough to bring us into the promised land, into the heavenly kingdom to which we are called.  And as long as we concern ourselves only with fulfilling the minimal requirements of the law  (not to murder, not to commit adultery…), we will continue to suffer; we will remain unfulfilled.  Jesus calls us to greater than that: He calls us into His very light of perfection in the presence of the Father.  This call is implanted upon the soul of each one of us, and as long as we ignore it, as long as we veil our minds to the depth and the breadth of this call to perfection with Christ… as long as we say, “Well, I haven’t killed anyone,” and stop there… so long we will remain unsatisfied, so long will the fires burn – so long will we be in prison paying the last penny. Jesus is calling you now, brothers and sisters; Paul and all the true preachers of Holy Church are calling you now to remove the veil from your eyes, to come into the Lord’s light – to cease to make excuses for your sins, however small they may seem – to seek perfection in Christ… to find the kingdom of God.  The Spirit will aid you in your journey; He will be with you every step of your walk on the way of perfection, be assured of this.  The Lord does not call us to Himself and then leave us alone to struggle vainly.  He is with us through all our trials.  But we must come to Him and live in His light of purity, and shine that light for others to see.  ******* O LORD, your kingdom comes by the power of the Holy Spirit, who purges us of sin and makes us shine with His radiance. YHWH, your glory shines now in our midst in the face of Christ, and He calls us to that same glory by the Spirit that is within us.  Let your light shine in the darkness of this world; let us make known your glory by our words and actions. In the way of salvation we walk, insofar as we follow the commands of your Son and His love.  He calls us to dwell with you, O LORD, to reconcile with one another and be perfect as you are perfect – to find our holiness fulfilled.  We fall short as long as we limit ourselves to the principles of the law; your glory is far beyond the basics of the law, and it is to your glory and your love Jesus calls us. What a gift is ours in Christ!  Union with you, dear Father in Heaven!  Let us not be blinded by the god of the present age, by unbelieving minds, but let the veil be lifted from our faces to gaze upon the glory of your Son and so be transformed into that glory by the Spirit upon us.  Alleluia!…

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June 12 - Wednesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-11
Length: 5s

(2Cor.3:4-11;   Ps.99:5-9;   Mt.5:17-19)  “Not the smallest letter of the law, not the smallest part of a letter, shall be done away with until it all comes true.” Jesus comes to fulfill the law and the prophets.  The law watches over us while we are here in this world.  It guards us and puts to death the sin that is inherent in our earthly nature.   There is great glory in this blessed protection, as is witnessed in our psalm today – “Holy is the Lord, our God” – because it acquaints us with God’s justice and, as said, watches vigilantly over us to maintain our standing in the presence of God.  But the law does not bring us to the fullness of God’s love; it does not bring us into the heavenly kingdom and “the glory that endures.”  Moses brings the Israelites to the banks of the Jordan, but he does not cross over with them.  He looks out over the Promised Land from his place on the mountaintop, but does not enter therein.  It is Joshua who leads the people into the land promised through Moses (as even he does in today’s Office of Readings).  And so it is Jesus who brings us to the heavenly kingdom by His law of love. In speaking elsewhere of the glory of love (1Cor.13:8), Paul tells us that prophecy shall fail and tongues shall cease but love is eternal, favored well beyond any other gift.  Prophecies speak of earthly matters and the law is for our earthly nature, but love speaks of God and heaven.  We must be very careful to heed the words of Christ and realize that as long as we are in this world and subject to the sin that our flesh brings, the law has a prominent place in our lives and cannot be jettisoned prematurely – as many advocate by their lack of diligence to its precepts, presuming heaven before its time – yet we must always remember that it is the glory of heaven and not of earth to which Jesus calls us, and that there the law will be fulfilled; there we shall be made perfect in the light of God. The law is “destined to pass away” only insofar as it is fulfilled, and therefore it never really passes away but is subsumed by a greater law.  Let us continue to glory in the chastising hand of God and in the service of purification the law provides us.  Let us come by its means to the flesh of Christ, and by the grace of God enter fully into Him.  Jesus is our Promised Land, brothers and sisters; with the law as our guide, but above all with faith in our hearts, let us come into His holy, eternal, loving presence.  We have the manna of the Eucharist to share this day; tomorrow we shall feast in fullness on the Bread of Life that is Jesus Christ.   ******* O LORD, your commands must be fulfilled or they shall remain, along with our sin. YHWH, you are holy and your glory surpasses all that is of heaven and earth.  Though we are your creation and you are present to us, though you are with us even in the law you gave to Moses, and though we need your law to purge us of all evil, to put to death the deeds of the flesh… yet in such death we are not fulfilled.  We must come to join you in your glory; we must find life in you. And so, O holy LORD, your Son walks among us, not to destroy the law or contradict the prophets who call us from our wayward path, but to fulfill their voice by the very presence of the Word.  Now your holiness has taken flesh, and so at your mountain we can worship in Spirit and in truth.  Now we may enter your kingdom. It is in Jesus we are saved from the death the law brings; it is through Him we find the ministry of the Spirit and so the glory that passes not away.  This glory is your very presence speaking to us and shining upon us, dear LORD.  O let us call upon your NAME and dwell with you forever!…

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June 11 - Prayer to St. Barnabas

2013-06-10
Length: 1s

O son of encouragement and of consolation in the Holy Spirit, you who were filled with faith and lived that faith for the Lord, giving up all things to bring His Name forth to the ends of the earth, calling all souls and confirming them in the truth by the authority of the risen Son – whose footsteps go forth today as did yours upon the birth of the Church; what souls are so blessed to be set apart by the Spirit to perform His works in this dying world, to bring His light to those who sit in darkness? Pray the Lord shall indeed send out laborers into His vineyard and they shall with the same faith be an encouragement to all, a consolation to Christian souls.…

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June 11 - Tuesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-10
Length: 5s

(2Cor.1:18-22;   Ps.119:129-133,135;   Mt.5:13-16)  “God is the one who firmly establishes us.” “Light of the world” and “salt of the earth” – this is what we are by the power of God.  It is by Him we are “set on a hill” to give “light to all in the house”; it is we who preserve the integrity of creation.  It is a holy call and a demanding one, and we should not waver in our resolve to follow the Lord and fulfill His work and His will; for it is indeed His will that we show His goodness before the eyes of men, and so “He who anointed us and sealed us” will always strengthen us for our task – by Him who holds the entire world in His palm, our own work will be made light. But heed the words of our readings: we must always give our “yes” to God.  Having put our hand to the plow, we cannot turn back.  In fact, we should say with the psalmist, “I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands”; so great should be our love for God and for His life-giving words that ever do we thirst more greatly for the love and the light He brings us through our walking in them.  His discipline is redeeming and freeing; and as we drink in its light, as we find ourselves becoming one with Him and with His Son who has shown us clearly and completely the way of perfection, we become the light He is.  And we cannot but shine that same light to others, directing them to Him who establishes all holy souls in His blessed kingdom. What joy should be ours as we find ourselves becoming one with God as His children of light.  What absolute exhilaration is evident in Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians, as well as in our psalm.  The source of such excitement is his firmness in faith; the Spirit is speaking in his heart and he is not afraid.  Indeed, he takes his very life, his daily bread, in proclaiming it. Have we such faith in our hearts, or have we somehow gone flat?  Can we proclaim our unwavering trust in the Lord, or is our light still shaded by doubts and fears?  If our love for God is true and our love for one another is real, we shall be firmly established – our light shall go forth. Let us pray to Him that from the light of His words we shall not be distracted.  The light of His presence is all that matters.  Shine forth His light to the world.  ******* O LORD, may the Spirit of Truth be with us to guide us by His holy light. YHWH, your promises have been fulfilled in Jesus and in Him you firmly establish our place before you, the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  You call us to be salt and light to this world, to be the disciples of your Son.  Help us to be steadfast in that call, that the light of the Spirit might go out to the ends of the earth. We are anointed with the Christ and have His life within us.  He it is who walks before us, making our footsteps firm.  We must follow in His way and give our ‘yes’ entirely to you.  O LORD, let us not waver in our weakness but ever keep your commands and so radiate your goodness to all men.  Make our witness sure and true; let us ever remain in the light of your presence. O LORD, let all praise be given to you from hearts filled with your glory.  With open mouth let us ever yearn for your Word.  In wonder let us stand before you, worshiping ever in your kingdom as your holy children.  Let your countenance shine on your servants; transform us into your light.…

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June 10 - Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-09
Length: 4s

(2Cor.1:1-7;   Ps.34:2-9;   Mt.5:1-12)  “Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs.” Here is the core teaching of our faith.  Here are the beatitudes, the call to sweet humility which flows like blessed honey from the lips of our Savior.  And that teaching is that the humbled shall be exalted, that those who mourn and sorrow for the lack of love we find in this tainted world and who strive to bring that love to the hard heart of man shall be blessed, are blessed, for they share in the sufferings of Christ, who wept for the sins of His people, who, looking out upon them from the cross cried: “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  Why has this world made in the image of Christ turned so against Him, and when shall it return to the love of God?  And we who cry with Christ, even for our enemies, even for the most despicable criminal, we shall know the joy He finds – like the repentant thief, we shall be this day with Him in paradise. “Just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation,” St. Paul so concisely states.  One can hear him brimming with joy as he speaks of the comfort we find in the Lord in all our afflictions, and the grace of sharing that consolation with others.  This is our great possession.  This is the kingdom of God within us: to see through all trouble and affliction, to conquer it in Jesus’ Name – to find such strength even while here on earth to overcome all evil and come to heaven.  “Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you…  Be glad and rejoice.”  How marvelously the Lord exhorts us to come to the glory of heaven, to overcome the dark with light.  For light it is where we dwell, and this light is unconquerable. Let us make room for Him in our hearts, brothers and sisters; let us give place to Him in our lives.  Let us even in the simplest ways show heaven’s glory here on earth.  If we are lowly and we are true, our light cannot help but shine.  And for those who seek it our lamps will shine, and we shall illumine one another.  Let sweet humility be your treasure and the Lord’s peace your goal in life.  The angel of the Lord is around us to save us.  Nothing of this earth shall touch us.  Let us lay down our lives to destroy death’s bonds. ******* O LORD, it is the cross of suffering with Christ that brings us great joy. YHWH, blessed are we when persecuted because of our love for you, because of our desire to be as your Son, for enduring all the sufferings this world brings we find great joy in your presence.  You console the afflicted who call out to you, for you are the refuge of all who suffer for your sake. O LORD, let us be holy as you are holy; let us be made whole in your Son.  If we must sorrow and mourn to be conformed to your Son, to be purged of all sin and join Him in your kingdom, let it be so.  Let us take our strength in you; in you we find refuge.  Reward in Heaven is all we desire – to you let us come by way of the Cross of your only Son. Bless you, LORD, for the goodness you show to us, for the joy you bring us in our suffering for you.  You deliver us from every danger, and so we stand firm in hope, consoled by the promise in the words of Jesus.  Let us remain ever blessed as we set our hearts on serving you.…

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June 9 - Prayer to St. Ephrem

2013-06-08
Length: 1s

O harp of the Holy Spirit whose song rose up to Jesus and in honor of the Virgin Mary, whose heart was set on Heaven and the eternal light therein, and who served so well to defend the faith when from contemplation you came – pray we too shall have a song dedicated wholly to the Lord welling up in hearts set on His presence, on the kingdom that passes not away; and pray, too, the teaching of the Church shall always be true, shall always be rooted in the Spirit, expressive of the love of God. What is this world as it passes away, and who are we apart from God and His House? O how we long for Heaven! Pray, dear brother, with our Blessed Mother, that we shall come to dwell where you are.…

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June 8 - Saturday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-07
Length: 6s

(Tb.12:1,5-15,20;   Tb.13:1-2,6;   Mk.12:38-44)  “Almsgiving saves one from death.” We must give alms, yes; and the greatest of alms is the gift of ourselves to God. In our gospel we hear of perhaps the most famous example of almsgiving: the poor widow who gave her two copper coins to the temple treasury; and in our first reading we complete the Book of Tobit, he who is himself a great biblical model of almsgiving, and who is here instructed by the angel Raphael on the merit of giving alms.  Yes, the widow gives generously all her money, without hesitation and without a thought.  Unlike those who give from their surplus, “she gave from her want, all that she had to live on.”  She holds back nothing.  And at the prompting of Tobit, Tobiah offers half of all the many riches gained from his journey to his guide, Raphael (not realizing he is an angel with no need of these things).  As Raphael reveals himself to Tobit and his son, he extols the great merit of almsgiving, which he states is better even than prayer and fasting.  He wishes to tell them of the value of almsgiving, it is true, but he wants Tobit to know that his generosity has been witnessed by God and that it has saved him from the death he had asked for.  Raphael lets Tobit know, too, that he has been tested by God (in being stricken with blindness) to prove that his generosity is genuine.  It must be shown that his virtue is not vain as the scribes’, who “recite long prayers for appearance’ sake” to cover the fact that they “devour the savings of widows.”  Does he have the heart of the poor widow in his generosity, or does he just like to parade around in the robes of such virtue? The key to the merit of all our almsgiving is found in Raphael’s initial response to Tobiah’s offer:  “Thank God!  Give Him the praise and the glory.”  All our good works must be done for the praise of God as witnesses to His glory.  “Before all men, honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising Him,” the angel exhorts us all.  And it is this praise of God we must give first before any treasure of the world.  This praise of God and telling of His Name is the greatest of almsgiving.  Do you think it is the two coins which save the widow, or can you see the heart for God from which they are offered?  Do you think the widow is giving her coins for show, or is it obvious to you that it is her love of God which drives her to this act?  We can easily surmise that this woman’s life is one of prayer to God, a genuine prayer unlike the vanity of the scribes, and it is this which most pleases God and saves her very soul; for she is empty of all else but Him.  And of all the many acts of kindness Tobit has performed, all the dead he has buried and offerings he has given, perhaps none is above his obedience to the angel’s final command:  “Write down all these things that have happened to you.”  For by his laying down of his life and the Lord’s marvelous grace working in it, more than two thousand years later, we still receive the spiritual gifts contained therein; his praise of God with “full voice” still comes to our ears and gives us hope that we too might be raised up from any vanity in our own generosity and see the face of God. Let us praise the Lord with all our lives and give all our selves to Him.  Let us live to praise the Lord. ******* O LORD, let us praise you with full voice; let us give all we have to you. YHWH, you call us to give alms that our souls might be saved.  By our generosity you shall know us, if it is in union with you.  For all must be done in your NAME and for your praise, or all is quite worthless.  Indeed, a little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness; and so, whatever we give without giving glory to you is given in vain, but if we give a penny (which is all our lives are worth) in praise of your goodness toward us, how blessed we shall be! LORD, all you do is for our good, whether you scourge us or raise us up in your mercy, for all is done to bring us closer to you.  Until all our lives are in your hands, your angel you send to test us and to heal us, to turn us back to you – all empty show be taken forever from our souls that we might dwell humbly with you in glory. Let us not care for the riches of this world even should they increase, but set our hearts on praise of you alone… and the doing of your will with all we have and are.…

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June 9 - Sunday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Year C

2013-06-07
Length: 5s

(1Kgs.17:17-24;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-12;   Gal.1:11-19;   Lk.7:11-17)  “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld.” “You preserved me from among those going down into the pit.”  For I was dead, but now I live.  These should be the words of us all, for the Lord indeed is our salvation – our life breath comes from Him, and He will preserve us from all death.  No longer in sin, we rise to new life. The resurrecting power of God is clearly evident in our readings today.  We see both Jesus and Elijah raising the dead.  And perhaps the rising of Paul from the blind pit into which he’d fallen, which led him even to persecute and attempt to destroy the Church, is the most remarkable resurrection. What we should take from today’s readings is the sure knowledge that God is life and that life has no origin other than Him.  Paul proclaims the Word he preaches comes only from God through the revelation of Jesus Christ – emphasizing that no man taught him the Word which burns in his soul (a Word which gives life to all who hear it) – and in both the gospel and the first reading those who witness the raising of the dead attribute rightly its source to the Lord.  In one they proclaim, “God has visited His people,” and in the other the widow of Sidon states of Elijah: “The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.”  This is the character of the Word, this is the quality of God – He gives life.  And so we know Him. And we indeed are all as the widows in today’s readings; we are all bereft of our only sons, of the light of our eyes and our very life.  We mourn for the loss of our souls which is imminent because of our sin.  And we, too, weep.  Who shall save us?  Who shall speak a word to us to revive us, to return our life’s breath, to restore our souls?  Jesus comes to us.  He visits our city, He comes to our door.  His Word approaches our hearts and calls to us to arise – He breathes upon us the breath of new life.  His apostles go forth from the foundation set in Peter, and this true Gospel is that which shall save the world, which shall bring it from its mourning to joy. But do we mourn the loss of our souls?  Do we bewail that which is taken from us by sin?  Do we see the death upon us?  We must come as widows calling upon the Lord to find His Word at work in our hearts, bringing us to life.  And we must share that Word with others.  Once raised from the dead, we must proclaim what the Word has done for us.  We must recognize His power at work in the world.  May the Word go forth to the ends of the earth, speaking of the saving power of God.  May it raise all from death.  Written, read and chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let the life breath return to your children; by your grace let us rise from the dead to praise you. YHWH, your Son looks with pity upon our poor condition, He sees that we are bereft of our only Child, of the light of our eyes – He sees our souls descend to the nether world and desires only to raise them from such darkness to the eternal light of your presence… and He prays for us… and He calls to us… and we rise and are held in our Mother’s arms. To the Church Jesus entrusts our souls; our very lives are in the hands of our Mother on earth. Dearest God, let us never be separated from the life-giving Breath you give us through your apostles, through the magisterium, through the teaching of your Son which they guard so assiduously.  In your House let us remain all the days of our life. What hope have we if you call attention to our guilt, to the sin upon our souls?  But in your compassion you preserve us from certain death, and for this we praise you.  Thank you, LORD, for visiting your people and changing our mourning into dancing before you.…

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June 7 - Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Year C

2013-06-06
Length: 5s

(Ez.34:11-16;   Ps.23:1-6;   Rm.5:5-11;   Lk.15:3-7)  “I have found my lost sheep.” “We have found reconciliation” through the blood of Jesus Christ.  So the Apostle Paul tells us, and so we know to the depths of our hearts, which are united to His Sacred Heart.  Once we were sinners, scattered like sheep on the hillside, but the Lamb of God has come and died for us, and so we His scattered sheep are led home.  He has brought to fulfillment the promise of the Father to walk among us and rescue us from the darkness that envelops this world.  “The lost,” “the strayed,” “the injured,” “the sick,” He has come to lead back to the bosom of the Father, where we may take refuge in His Sacred Heart. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”; so let us recognize our sin that His blood might be efficacious.  Let us not deny His grace as “people who have no need to repent.”  For if we say we are righteous, the darkness will continue to surround us and He will not be beside us to guide us to the Father’s pasture: we will be left alone and forsaken.  No, let us cause heaven to rejoice by repenting of our sin each day and always finding His blood at work within us.  To what pasture He leads us!  What protection we find even in this life, a blessing known especially in His Sacrament.  And what future awaits us in His heavenly kingdom.  We taste it and make our boast in it now, but there it shall be known in its fullness when, indeed, nothing shall ever harm us.  “For, now we rejoice in the refuge He gives as we “walk in the dark valley”; even still He is gathering His scattered sheep.  Yes, to this day He moves among us as our Shepherd, and then we shall rest eternally in the Father’s arms. We give thanks to the Lord for the blessings He provides us on our path to His glory.  We thank Him for His Church and its sacraments.  We come to the altar and receive His sacrifice this day, knowing we are not worthy of such a call.  But we confess our sins to Him.  We seek His forgiveness through the ministry of the shepherds He has left us, and His mercy finds a place in us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for your grace and mercy. Lead us home to the Father’s arms. O Lord, like sheep we have all gone astray; lead us back today, and on your holy mountain may we take rest. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney. Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, in your mercy and love shepherd us to restful waters. YHWH, is it not the blood of your Son that reconciles us to you, that shepherds us into your kingdom?  And so, does Heaven not now await every repentant sinner?  O let us rejoice in your presence with all who have found your forgiveness! Your promise is sure, dear God.  You promise to come among us and lead all straying souls back to you, back to your holy mountain; and this you have accomplished by sending your Son to die for our sins.  And now by the grace upon us by virtue of His sacrifice, your Spirit guides us in right paths to your House, where we shall dwell forever in your peace. Why do you love us so, dear LORD?  Why does your Son so freely lay down His life for godless men like us?  O let us but accept the healing grace that comes to us because of your compassion!  Let all souls repent of their sin and rejoice in Heaven, in your Sacred Heart.…

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June 6 - Prayer to St. Norbert

2013-06-05
Length: 1s

O preacher of the Word of God and model of the Gospel, you embraced poverty and penance in accord with the way of Christ and His teaching and called your brothers to do the same, that the Church might be renewed, that she might be holy even as the Father is holy – pray all souls might indeed find holiness of life even as within cloister walls; pray all might embrace the poverty of Christ, living the faith pronounced in sacred Scripture. And pray that they may be led along this narrow path to the kingdom of the Lord by faithful priests and bishops, shepherds like yourself.…

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June 6 - Thursday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-05
Length: 4s

(Tb.6:11,7:1,9-14,8:4-7;   Ps.128:1-5;   Mk.12:28-34)  “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two great commandments rest all the Law and the Prophets.  By them we shall be “not far from the reign of God.”  In them the Lord leads us into His bridal chamber, where we shall be made one with Him in glory forever.  Here on earth we dimly mirror the love of the Lord for His Church in our marriage of husband and wife; in this, love of neighbor is known in its most intimate and complete way.  But always love of God must precede love of any creature, for it is “those who fear the Lord” who are happy, who “eat the fruit of [their] handiwork” and see their children prosper.       Tobiah has such love.  Such strength of love does he have in his heart for Sarah that he hesitates not at all even in the face of death.  Seven have died before him, but he gives fear of this not a thought.  And it is not in his lust that he takes such great strength; he is not led foolishly by his eyes and his loins.  It is indeed his fear of the Lord, the love for his God and his desire to keep His commands, in which he finds unwavering hope.  Even from his marriage bed does he rise to invoke the name of God, demonstrating his “noble purpose.”  He recognizes that God first must be praised, and that it is He who gave Adam his Eve. Jesus loves us just so, brothers and sisters, and even greater than this is His love for His bride.  He heeds fully the command of God regarding His Church: “Take her and bring her back safely to your father.”  He comes to us, as it were, on a long journey, the angels of the Lord blessing His steps, and seeks without fear His rightful wife, who has languished so long surrounded by death.  This death He takes upon Himself, facing it with faith and prayer alone to show us the love God has for us, and that we must have for one another.  And wedding us unto Himself, He redeems us from the death we have known and makes us so fruitful in His Name.  Yes, brothers and sisters, we must love the God who has loved us so, and love one another the same. May God bless all marriages; May they witness to the love the Lord has for His Church. Amen. ******* O LORD, if we but love you and our neighbor, all will be well; we will approach the kingdom of Heaven. YHWH, you are love and love is stronger than death; so those who love you shall conquer death and live forever in your love.  O let us but love! The demons are ever round about, dear LORD, working to take the life from us, the life that is rooted in you and blessed by you – the life which you yourself are.  Let us have your angels to guide us through the darkness of this earth to your unending light; teach us to love you with all our being, to keep nothing back from you.  By our trust and in our prayer may we be saved from all evil.  If we but praise you with all our heart, you will certainly hear our plea. No lust let there be in any marriage bed, O LORD, but may every husband take his wife with you and your purpose in mind.  Then shall all be blessed; then shall all creation praise you… then shall love be known to the ends of the earth.  Then shall all the devils flee and your kingdom come to be present in all souls.  Let us take our place in Heaven with you and your Son!  To Him let us be wed.…

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June 5 - Prayer to St. Boniface

2013-06-04
Length: 1s

O apostle of the faith called out from monastery walls to travel into the world, laboring and suffering even to the shedding of blood as you steered Christ’s ship pounded by waves but kept on course, spreading out upon the face of the earth by the sacrifice of shepherds like yourself – pray the bishops of today will unceasingly teach the faith, defending the Church from all assaults, never silent in the face of danger, never turning from their call but preaching the Gospel in season and out of season that in all seasons Christ’s flock might increase and be strengthened. Let us rather die than give in to the impending darkness.…

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June 5 - Wednesday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-04
Length: 5s

(Tb.3:1-11,16-17;   Ps.25:1-9;   Mk.12:18-27)  “He is the God of the living, not of the dead.” Rich readings.  First of all, we see the striking similarity between the story woven by the Sadducees to thwart the wisdom of the Lord and the situation in which Sarah finds herself.  In both cases, seven – the number representing fullness – husbands have died.  In one the wife has also died; in the other, she wishes for death.  And in both there have been no children, no fruit, no new life.  Death in its fullness is throughout today’s readings, as even Tobit begs to die. In addition to death, our readings are also clearly about prayer.  In our first, Tobit and Sarah pour out their hearts in tears before the Lord whom they so love.  Our psalm is the lifting up of the soul in prayer to God by the humble.  And the Sadducees questioning of Jesus is also a kind of prayer, though one which comes from a hardness of heart, inauthentic and insincere. And what has the Lord to say of death; what is the answer to these prayers?  We often hear that God always answers our prayers, though often in ways we do not expect.  Such is the case here.  Neither Tobit nor Sarah will get the death they seem to seek; instead, Raphael – the angel whose name means “to heal” – “was sent to heal them both.”  And the Sadducees, “who hold there is no resurrection,” will not find confirmation for their creed which clings to death as the end of all.  Yet all will be answered according to the disposition of their hearts, and in this sense all receive exactly what they seek, for the Lord looks upon the heart.  The prayer of Tobit and Sarah is not really to die but “to be delivered from such anguish” – it is healing they seek, and this they shall find.  And the Sadducees, who do not really seek an answer of the Lord regarding resurrection, whose hearts are closed to the life-giving power of God, will likely not hear the words of Christ… and so by their ignorance come to adhere more firmly to their creed of death.  We do get what we ask for.  As our psalm tells us, the Lord “teaches the humble His way.”  The compassion and kindness which are synonymous with God are known to those who trust in Him; but “those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith,” for the compassion of our Lord finds no place in them.  For them there is no hope, no life, no resurrection from the dead… and they shall not know how God answers prayer. Brothers and sisters, let us pour out our hearts before our Lord and God, and know His healing grace, and find His everlasting life.     ******* O LORD, though we wish to die when amidst the persecutions of this race, let us be resurrected with you. YHWH, hear our prayer and save us from the insults of your enemies.  Let us not be overcome by darkness or by sin.  You are our God and you answer all our pleas; let us not be put to shame. You look upon the heart, O LORD, and listen to our true desires.  Every prayer you cannot help but answer according to the faith by which it is offered.  You give us what we ask for, not in our words but by our intention.  And so, you thwart the insincere prayer of the wicked, but are merciful to those who are humble before you. And you protect us, LORD, from every attack of the devil.  Those who break faith heedlessly shall not triumph over your righteous ones; they shall be turned back by the power of your Word.  For in life alone you dwell – in you there is no death – and so those whose hearts desire life in your presence shall rejoice… even as those who do not believe fall helplessly into the earth.…

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June 4 - Tuesday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-03
Length: 6s

(Tb.2:9-14;   Ps.112:1-2,7-9;   Mk.12:13-17)   “The heart of the just man is secure, trusting in the Lord.”   Today in our reading and gospel we find just men put to trial and testing.  Our Lord is steadfast before the devious inquiry of the Pharisees and Herodians, answering them with a wisdom greater than Solomon’s; for what can Jesus, who is Himself the Word made flesh, do but take refuge in the Father with whom He is one.  And so wisdom is His to answer His foes, and He is unmoved, indeed moving with “amazement” those who would trap Him. The heart of Tobit does not remain as secure.  We see in his anger that his trust in the Lord has been shaken.  He has always been just, generously giving to those in need, taking the plight of his people to heart.  Indeed, it is after performing a good work – “fatigued from burying the dead [I] went to sleep next to the wall of my courtyard” – that his trial comes upon him.  Here is a man who has done all he could to help his fellow Jewish exiles suffering persecution at the hands of the Ninevites, and now he is stricken with blindness. But the Lord does not leave him alone; He does not cast him out.  For two years his needs are cared for by Ahiqar, and then his wife is able to work to meet their expenses.  And successful she is over and above expectations.  Yet he is prodded into anger by her good reward.  His response (in the words of St. Dorotheus, from today’s Office of Readings) “breaks the cover on the passionate anger within him,” an anger, an unease, he has likely been harboring for some time.  It is an anger, we can surmise, that comes from the helplessness his blindness has brought upon him.  He is no longer in control of his fate, but must depend on others for survival.  And though the Lord provides, he finds it too difficult to trust in this provision.  (He may indeed be particularly resentful that it is now his wife who provides for him, taking the role he believes in his heart he should play.) We can certainly understand Tobit’s frustration over his condition.  Few but Jesus would stand up well to such trial.  But Jesus is our ideal.  It is to be like Him that we are called.  We shall always need to do battle against the sins that are ever with us, but as St. Dorotheus says of the Christian, “The more perfect he grows, the less these temptations will affect him.  For the more the soul advances, the stronger and more powerful it becomes in bearing the difficulties that it meets.”  Let us set ourselves to trust in the Lord and so ever find security in Him. We must place all in His hands, even unto death, and then we shall be free.    Let not the things of Caesar weigh upon you; you belong to God and not the world. ******* O LORD, only you can make us secure – let us trust in you and not in money. YHWH, with the things of this earth let us not be concerned; let us know that we are in your hands.  To you let us trust our very lives, and we shall not be disturbed. The forces of the world close in on us, enticing us to fear and anger.  But if we stand strong in the faith, the Spirit will be with us to save us.  In you, O LORD, let us remain. The just man delights in your commands; the upright shall ever be blessed.  Let us indeed remain steadfast, LORD, that we might look down upon our foes. And though persecuted for righteousness’ sake, if afflicted for doing what is right let us not resent our fate, but continue to look to you to cure our blindness.  Your Son, O LORD, has suffered the Cross though innocent – why should sinners like us complain? It is hard, LORD, and we do often break, but help us to return to you this day and stand before our accusers with the same faith your Son so peacefully displayed.  Let us give ourselves entirely to you.…

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June 3 - Prayer to St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

2013-06-02
Length: 1s

O modern martyrs for Christ who gave your lives even as the early Christians, under torture by the emperor, who remained steadfast as these despite sword or fire come by the power of the king… a new age indeed you ushered in, one of mighty suffering, a time for the blood to mount up on this earth – pray, brothers in the faith, that your sacrifice not be in vain, that we shall join you in loyal service and so find the Church blessed with new growth in the Spirit. Though new to the faith yourselves when you bled and died for the Word, deeply was your foundation laid, unshaken by the threats of the mighty. Should we not be the same; should we not follow in your way, we who profess to love the Lord?…

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June 3 - Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-06-02
Length: 5s

(Tb.1:1-2,2:1-9;   Ps.112:1-6;   Mk.12:1-12)   “The stone rejected by the builders has become the keystone of the structure.”   First, Tobit is not a parable; it is not a “story”.  A parable begins, as does Jesus’ own in our gospel, with a statement such as, “A man planted a vineyard…”  It is always “a man”, a generic man, never a particular man in a particular place at a particular time, as is the case with Tobit.  For parables deal expressly with the universal.  Though one may derive universal significance from the life of Tobit, it is his life itself which is related to us and not that of an “Everyman”.  (How this simple fact is overlooked I can only attribute again to a lack of faith which blinds reason.) This aside, today we see the persecution and mockery “a sincere worshiper of God” suffers before the face of the world.  It is evident in Tobit’s being “hunted down for execution” for performing the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead, as well as in the wagging of his neighbors’ tongues; and it is, of course, fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ, which the Lord speaks of today to the elders of the people in a thinly-veiled parable of their persecution of all the prophets. What a good man Tobit is, desiring to share his feast with the poor and rising even from table to do the work of God, always ready to serve Him.  And how he weeps for the oppression of his people.  Jesus is just the same, coming from the majesty of the Father’s table in heaven to call us to His wedding feast, and weeping over those who, like Jerusalem, fail to hear His voice. Our lot in this world is one of suffering and persecution, but it is not without hope.  For we know that as Job found greater wealth in his latter days and Tobit shall be rewarded for his patient endurance, so the Lord is resurrected from the grave.  It is our psalm which reminds us of this promise despite any darkness around us: “The Lord dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright… the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.” So let us not lose heart on the hard road we tread, but endure all patiently with Jesus, for we shall find our place in His joyful kingdom; we shall drink the wine of His vineyard. ******* O LORD, how shamefully your servants are treated! – but Jesus rises from the dead, and we with Him. YHWH, you are a light in our darkness; you are with us in our tears and in our mourning, and so, from our graves we are raised.  Has not your Son come among us and suffered at the hands of men?  Has He not been beaten, dragged outside the walls of Jerusalem, and killed?  And has He not been raised again – does He not sit at your right hand?  The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.  How marvelous are your works for your faithful to behold! Though Tobit weeps in exile, LORD, mocked by neighbors and friends, though he must bear the murdered body of his kinsman to a shallow grave; yet wealth and riches are in his house, for it is in your House he dwells, and his name you shall remember forever. Your Son bears His Cross before His accusers; though blessed at table in your House, He quickly comes to us at your Word… and we bear Him away.  But the plans of men are thwarted by you, LORD, and all our evil you turn to good.  Let us set our souls on the sacrifice of your kingdom.…

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June 2 - Prayer to Sts. Marcellinus and Peter

2013-06-01
Length: 1s

O blessed martyrs for the Lord, in your catacombs the faith flourished, upon your tomb the Church was built… your blood is the seed planted in the ground that has caused the growth of the tree of life; joining in the sacrifice of Christ, His great joy you knew – pray that such grace   will be known to us this day, that we will give ourselves in faith to the Holy One by whom we are saved and so find union with Him in Heaven. How far His consolation is from our souls this day, for how little love we show; have our hearts not become as a tomb? Though cold and lifeless, by your prayers may our faith flourish once more, dear saints.…

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June 1 - Prayer to St. Justin

2013-05-31
Length: 1s

O prophet of the Lord who spoke in His defense even before the bench of death, who professed the wisdom of the Cross over the intelligence of our race and all the ideas it could conceive, who chose true worship of the One God even over life itself and taught us also His way in His Church – pray we shall merit with you the name of Christian, the name above every other name, upon our lips and hearts, that we shall follow in His steps seeking always the truth and His love; pray we shall worship Him who deserves all worship and praise and serve Him and His Church even with our last breath on this earth.…

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June 2 - The Body and Blood of Christ, Year C

2013-05-31
Length: 7s

(Gn.14:18-20;   Ps.110:1-4;   1Cor.11:23-26;   Lk.9:11b-17)  “The Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over, took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you.’” There is food for all, and it is ever available.  The Lord feeds us with His own Body and Blood, and He is generous in giving His eternal self to us.  Both eternal priest and victim “of God Most High,” and God Himself, we need never fear that His provision for us will lapse.  And so we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; we share in His holy sacrifice until it is made complete in heaven.  For it is His death which gives us life, it is the holy offering of Himself which feeds us on our journey here.  Let us come always to the altar of His Sacrament and feast upon the nourishment He provides. In our gospel we hear that “Jesus spoke to the crowds of the kingdom of God,” healing those in need.  After the Word was opened to them, the bread was brought forth.  “Looking up to heaven, He said the blessing over [the loaves], broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.”  As He would do the night before He died, so He would do here, in answer to the concern of the Twelve for the people.  He says to His chosen, “Give them some food yourselves.”  He thus invites them to share in His sacrifice and in His ministry by laying down their lives for the Church. Here is the Mass clearly foreshadowed.  Here it is present even before the death of Christ.  Even before the victim has fully offered Himself, He leads us to the table upon which we ever feed.  And that which was begun in this desert place so long ago comes down to us this day.  The twelve baskets of food remaining we continue to be fed with today; and this Bread continues to be multiplied – the more we eat of it, the more there is to be eaten.  Such is God’s love and generosity.  Such is the richness of the table He sets before us.  Like our priest and victim, it is eternal.  There is no end to God’s grace and the blessings He holds for us.  We cannot consume the depths of His love. And so we are to contribute to the spreading and the sharing of the holy offering Jesus is for us.  We must call all to the altar of the Lord; we must see that His gift is multiplied.  He is “a priest forever”; as long as we live, He dies for us – for as long as we breathe upon this earth, His blood is poured forth.  Let us pray in words and in deeds that this blood will come to many and cleanse them of their sins.  Let us pray that many come to life by His sacrifice, that many will partake of His Body and His Blood.  By each one who comes to the table, we are all strengthened, for the Body is made more whole.  Until the time this one Body has reached fulfillment, until His sacrifice is complete, let us continue indeed to “proclaim the death of the Lord,” who thereby feeds us with His eternal love. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Symbiosis: State of Living Together" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, it is you who deliver our foes into our hands, for it is you who strengthen us with the Body and Blood of your Son. YHWH, Jesus shares His very Body and Blood, His own self, with us; and so we who are blessed to partake of this food become as He is, graced with the power of your only Son.  As He hands the bread to His disciples to distribute to the people and it is in their hands the bread is multiplied, so His princely power is shared with all who eat His Body and drink His Blood.  And so all are fed. Jesus is the priest of the Most High God, the priest and victim whom you bless, O Father in Heaven.  And the blessing upon Him falls on all who follow Him, upon all who come to His table and eat.  It is for our sakes He accepts such a blessing; such a call to lay down His life He receives from you that we might have the food of Heaven, that we might not starve upon this plane.  And so we proclaim the grace that is ours by His death, until He comes again.…

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June 1 - Saturday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-31
Length: 5s

(Sir.51:12-20;   Ps.19:8-11;   Mk.11:27-33)   “When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom. She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her.”   Oh how Sirach speaks of his love, of the wisdom that is the light of his life!  He is “resolutely devoted to her” and does “never weary of extolling her.”  To his teacher he gives “grateful praise,” for he treasures her sweetness above all things. “I will ask you a question.  If you give me an answer, I will tell you on what authority I do the things I do.”  So does wisdom speak.  So does the Lord inquire as to what is in the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees and priests.  But there He does not find wisdom’s radiant beauty; there He finds nothing, for these leaders are so empty, so pitifully vain.  Rightly do they say, “We do not know,” for there is no light in them – only the dark connivings of the world’s greed and pride. And can wisdom answer him who has no ears?  Can she speak to those who do not listen to her voice whispering in their souls?  She does not engage in useless activity and cannot wed herself to those whose spirits are impure, whose hearts are not set on her fruits.  “In cleanness I attained to her,” Sirach happily declares, for he “purified even the soles of [his] feet” to find her.  But these men who weary so easily of her “great instruction,” who would so readily look upon the riches of this world, how can they taste her sweetness?  How can they gaze upon her infinite beauty…? And so the Lord turns away from them.  He cannot tell them “on what authority [He] do[es] the things” they see displayed so powerfully before their eyes, for their eyes are blind and their hearts are turned against Him.  They do not wish to know the answer to their question; they do not truly seek wisdom.  And she does not come to those who do not desire “her secrets.” “The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.”  In silence, in obedience, in humility and purity you will hear the Lord speaking.  And He will guide you to all His grace; and His name alone you will bless and praise.  What great profit you shall find if from your innocence you cultivate wisdom until the end of time.  ******* O LORD, open our eyes and minds to your light, that by the power of the Spirit we might be formed by wisdom into the image of your Son. YHWH, send your wisdom upon us; let her make her home in us.  May we be distracted by nothing of this world as we seek her diligently and with a whole heart.  You will be faithful in giving her to us if it is she we truly desire. The Pharisees could not know your wisdom, LORD, because your wisdom they did not really want.  They cared only for their positions and their goods and what people would say or do to them, and not at all for the truth.  And so the truth escaped them.  Wisdom will settle in with none who do not have an open heart. O LORD, we recognize the authority of your Son, that all wisdom and power are with Him; indeed, that He is your only Son.  Let us delight in His words and give Him grateful praise for all He has taught and done for us.  More precious than gold is the light He brings to our eyes and to our minds, and the love that through Him makes its home in our spirits.…

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May 31 - Prayer on The Visitation

2013-05-30
Length: 1s

O Mother of our Lord, who are we that you should visit us? Over hills you came to see your cousin Elizabeth and the child she conceived so miraculously; to her you brought the Child who brings us all salvation. Yes, to us all you bring Jesus… all holy souls you visit with His grace. John the Baptist proclaims this Savior whom he has known first in your voice, and all hearts leap up at your approach; for the Lord is with you, even in your blessed womb: how blessed is this fruit you bear! Visit us this day, dear Mother, with Jesus our Redeemer, that even this day we may rejoice in His Name.…

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May 31 - Visitation

2013-05-30
Length: 5s

(Zeph.3:14-18  or  Rom.12:9-16;   Is.12:2-6;   Lk.1:39-56)   “Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.”   How can we capture the joy of this day?  For here is the sign of our promised salvation; here we find the first apostolic act in Mary’s bringing the Word of God, so recently conceived in her womb, to Elizabeth, and to her son John the Baptist. “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!  Sing joyfully, O Israel!” Zephaniah encourages the holy nation.  And for what does Zion, and indeed the whole world, rejoice but that which we celebrate this day?  Here in these simple, lowly women we find all of Israel rejoicing as she brings to birth her Savior.  Yes, even now “the Lord, [her] God, is in [her] midst,” even in her womb; and already He begins to bring salvation forth.  Already we find a kind of first Pentecost as first, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’…  and then Mary said: ‘My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior?”  And already the Baptist in the womb of his aged mother has been inspired by the presence of the Son of God; already he has “stirred in [her] womb for joy,” just at the sound of Mary’s voice touching the ears of his mother, even as Jesus is but days old in Mary’s blessed womb. And how does all this joy come but through humility.  “For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call [her] blessed.”  Yes, Mary is raised “to high places,” is become the Mother of God, because of her great humility before Him.  It is this lowliness she proclaims in her canticle today; it is this lowliness Elizabeth exudes when she asks, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” – and it is this same lowliness which is required of all the children of Israel, of all Abraham’s descendants, if we are to know that “the Lord has removed the judgment against [us],” if we are to “shout with exultation” for “the Holy One of Israel” in our midst. Let us heed Paul’s instruction to the Romans to “put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly” that we might “rejoice with those who rejoice.”  As our holy women today, these models of faith, let us “look on the needs of the saints as [our] own” and “be generous in offering hospitality.”  “Be fervent in spirit; He whom you serve is the Lord.”  For it is He who comes under your roof this day.  It is His holy name you should proclaim in all you do and say.  And the blessing of salvation shall be upon you.   Mother of God, bring to us this day our Savior, that we might rejoice with you in heaven. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, you have looked upon us in our lowliness and sent your Son to dwell among us – may we praise you always for your glory! YHWH, let us praise your holy NAME this day, for you have come into our midst and raised us poor creatures from the dust to dwell with you in your Temple.  Praise you, LORD!  Visit us this day in your love, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. O LORD, make us humble and lowly as she who carries your Son to us, humble and lowly as Israel your Chosen one – humble and lowly as Jesus Himself.  In Mary’s womb with Him let us dwell and so hear your voice calling to our hearts through all she speaks unto our poor ears.  In darkness we remain, in the cave of this world; but you bring us light and life – for such grace let us praise you! Dispel all fear from our hearts, LORD, at the sound of your Mother’s voice, and so with her let us proclaim your greatness, and the salvation you have wrought in your mercy.  We are nothing, nothing but simple souls waiting on your Word…  Speak to us this day and awaken us to your glory, that our hearts might exult in your presence all our days.  Mother of God, pray for your poor children.  …

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May 30 - Thursday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-29
Length: 5s

(Sir.42:15-25;   Ps.33:2-9;   Mk.10:46-52)   “As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the Lord fills all His works.”   “How beautiful are all His works! even to the spark and the fleeting vision!”  “Can one ever see enough of their splendor?”  Yet how blind is man to their glory!  How much we need to receive the Lord’s vision. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made; by the breath of His mouth their host”; “at God’s word were His works brought into being.”  And so, bathed in His grace what can heaven and earth be but a wonder to behold?  Then why is it we see only darkness?  Why are our eyes so blind to His presence in all the creatures He has made only for good?  Is it not that we say “I see”?  Is it not that we tell ourselves, “There.  Now I have God in my hands.  Now His ways I understand”? My poor friends, you can never plumb the depths of God’s works, for “even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the Lord.”  It is He alone who “plumbs the depths and penetrates the heart; [your] innermost being He understands.”  And He sees as He looks into your soul that you are blind, that you do not see Him as He is… and He longs to call you up closer to Himself.  “The Most High possesses all knowledge”: He remembers the past, He sees the future – the moment is in His hand.  And you yourself He would hold in His hand and move according to His will, if only you would let Him. Come to the Lord like the blind man you are; do not let the scolding of the world hinder your plea to His compassionate heart.  “You have nothing whatever to fear from Him!” for He eternally asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” seeking always to grant you sight.  Then when you feel His touch upon your eyes, be as Bartimaeus and “immediately… follow Him up the road.”  For on that road your vision will ever be increased.  On that road you will learn to “pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness”; you will share in His wisdom and wonder as you “sing to Him [your] new song.”  On the road our Savior trod you will find “the strength to stand firm before His glory.” Rise and walk with Him in faith this day.  “He gathers the waters of the sea in a flask”; “not a single thing escapes Him” – and so He is certainly not blind to your needs.  To His glory He calls you: shine with Him now more brightly than the sun. ******* O LORD, give us the vision to see the beauty of all your works, your presence in everything. YHWH, how blind we are to your glory shining in our midst!  How we fail to recognize Jesus on the road He travels to you.  Why do we not cry out?  Why do we hesitate to proclaim our blindness?  Are our hearts not made for your glory? No one can recount all your wonders, O LORD; we cannot penetrate the heart of all being.  But if we but trust in you, if we but ascribe to you the awesome power and almighty wisdom that are yours alone, then the beauty of your works will become known even to our poor eyes… and we will be able to sing your praise with the stars and the sea and all you have created. At your Word, by the Breath of your mouth, all was made: you spoke and it came to be.  Let us but call out to your Son for pity, LORD, and the glory of your Creation we shall live and see.…

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May 29 - Wednesday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-28
Length: 4s

(Sir.36:1,5-6,10-17;   Ps.79:8-9,11,13;   Mk.10:32-35)   “Take pity on your holy city, Jerusalem, your dwelling place.”   The prayer of the wise man is good, but I see that the same answer the Lord gave James and John when they asked to sit “one at [His] right hand and the other at [His] left” in His glory, could be given to Sirach: “You do not know what you are asking.”  For neither knows the implication of their request – neither can see that it will only be fulfilled in a painful death. In our gospel Jesus is leading the disciples “on the road going up to Jerusalem,” a crowd following behind.  There He will “fulfill the prophecies spoken in [His] name.”  There He will “fill Zion with His majesty, [His] temple with [His] glory.”  But the keepers of the keys of the temple “will condemn Him to death”; they will thereby destroy the Temple itself.  In this way only will the “prophets be proved true.”  In this way only He will “deliver us and pardon our sins.”  In this way only will He “with [His] great power free those doomed to death.”  For the prophets have said that the Servant must suffer.  The prophets have said that the Son must die.  There is no other way that “three days later He will rise.”  There is no other way for Him to redeem those condemned to die. This must sink into our hearts; this we must understand, we who run so freely from the cross, who think it is a facile thing to “inherit the land.”  The Lord will indeed have pity on our souls; He will indeed answer “the prisoners’ sighing” and forget “the iniquities of the past.”  But Heaven is attained only by those who drink from His cup; the glory of God is known only by those who share in Jesus’ “bath of pain.”  No other way will we be cleansed of our sins.  No other way will we be made ready.  The cross is the path to the New Jerusalem, and we must walk it with our Lord. And so, be not lazy about the work He has set before you; fail not to “serve the needs of all.”  If you think of yourself and some vain reward, you will never find the blessing which awaits “those for whom it has been reserved.”  His “compassion come[s] quickly to us” if we but share in His blood. ******* O LORD, your Son has come to die that we might be freed from the death of sin; on this path of sacrifice let us join Him. YHWH, you are the eternal God.  We are but sinful men.  And so, how shall we come into your kingdom?  Only by the bath of pain, only by drinking from the chalice of your Son – only by His death on the Cross. He will be condemned to death.  He will be spit upon and mocked.  He will indeed be crucified.  It is we who lead Him there, we who by our sin and selfishness push Him along the road to Calvary.  O LORD, have mercy on our souls! Hear our sighing in this dark prison; let us live in exile no more.  Bring us back to your holy dwelling place… your glory may we somehow know.  We call out to you from the ends of the earth, LORD; have compassion on our cries. Your prophets will be proved true: your Servant will suffer a terrible death.  Give us the courage to walk with Him, LORD, to share in the sacrifice He makes.…

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May 28 - Tuesday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-27
Length: 4s

(Sir.35:1-12;   Ps.50:5-8,14,23;   Mk.10:28-31)   “The just man’s sacrifice is most pleasing, nor will it ever be forgotten.”   Peter is moved today to voice his fear that all that he and his fellow apostles have offered, even their very lives, will not be enough to secure the kingdom of God.  But Jesus reassures all who serve Him: “I give you my word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for me and for the Gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many… and persecution besides – and in the age to come, everlasting life.”  None should fear that their sacrifice will be wasted, “for the Lord is one who always repays,” and repays in full, multiplying whatever gifts we offer beyond our expectations. “But offer no bribes, these He does not accept!”  You will never be able to extort graces from the Lord, and so should always come without expectation of return.  Make all your sacrifices as “freewill gifts,” for only that which is given “generously” and “in a spirit of joy” does He smile upon.  Bring your gifts to the altar expecting nothing but the cross, in this find your return, and the glory of the resurrection shall indeed be yours.  You must learn from those whom the Lord rebukes, though their “holocausts are before [Him] always” – only “he that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies” the Lord, and so you must find joy in your cross. Oh how “the just man’s offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.”  “He who observes the commandments” and “gives alms,” he who performs “works of charity,” who “refrain[s] from evil” and “avoid[s] injustice”… oh how this man “pleases the Lord”!  For his life is as a “sacrifice of praise,” an offering of peace and an atonement for sin, which cannot but reach to the throne of God.  Yes, “to him that goes the right way [the Lord] will show the salvation of God.”  Of this you can be assured. ******* O LORD, the more we give you our lives, the more we are blessed, for the more we are of you. YHWH, what is it you desire from us but to be generous as you are, to share all your gifts with others?  None is more generous than you; none could give a greater number of blessings here on this earth and in the heavenly kingdom.  Yet, do we trust in you and in your generosity, in the great wealth that only you possess? All things are in your hands, O LORD.  Let us learn this simple lesson.  All things are in your hands and you give them freely and abundantly to those who serve you faithfully.  Though there be a cross we must bear in this world, how light it is made by the graces you pour upon us, by the love you share with all your disciples. And so, let us give alms, let us be just, and let us do all with a cheerful countenance; and we shall reflect your glory in this world and carry even now your presence in our souls.  LORD, to the end let us follow in your way and offer ever a sacrifice of praise, and your blessings will be forever upon us.…

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May 27 - Prayer to St. Augustine of Canterbury

2013-05-26
Length: 1s

O converter of peoples, called from the quiet of cloister walls you went obediently over seas to preach to the souls to whom you were sent, and the Lord worked through your obedience, spoke through the words you uttered to the nations… and so the light of holy faith banished the darkness of error and souls indeed were gathered into Christ’s fold – pray, O shepherd, obedience shall be ours, too, and all whom the Father would hold unto His breast shall come indeed to that sacred place and there find their rest. May God’s will be accomplished in His Church and we bear fruit in His name.…

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May 27 - Monday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-26
Length: 5s

(Sir.17:19-27;   Ps.32:1-2,5-7,11;   Mk.10:17-27)   “Jesus fixed His gaze on them and said, ‘For man it is impossible but not for God.’”   With these incisive words and particularly with this intent look, Jesus “encourages those who are losing hope.”  His disciples are “completely overwhelmed” at His statement: “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” and to keep them from falling into despair at the impossibility of such a proposition, He seeks to teach them that “with God all things are possible.”  For truly none can be saved but by the grace of God. “As Jesus was setting out on a journey a man came running up, knelt down before Him and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?’”  How like “the penitent [for whom] He provides a way back” is this man on his knees before the Lord today.  And even after the Lord seems to rebuff his advance, how he persists, begging further word from the Master with the reply to Jesus’ listing of certain commandments, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my childhood.”  Please tell me more, he seems to cry out.  And so “Jesus looked at him with love,” a love that is beyond the bounds of this world and beyond the bounds of the law – a love that makes all things possible, even the attainment of the kingdom of God, even for us wretched sinners.  “How great the mercy of the Lord, His forgiveness of those who return to Him!”  “Happy is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered”; for among the dead we would be if not for His divine mercy. But oh “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.”  Though wrought with the Lord’s grace, how difficult it is to accompany Christ on His journey.  For our hearts are not on His love but on the things we must give up, and so, how readily we turn away in sadness.  It is indeed out of love Jesus calls the rich man from his possessions to His side; this is indeed an immeasurable grace pouring forth from the heart of God… but who among us can accept it?  Who among us truly seeks everlasting life? “God watches over the host of highest heaven, while all men are dust and ashes.”  While “the thoughts of flesh and blood” are obscure, as the wise man tells us, and his possessions of even less consequence; while the sun itself “can be eclipsed” and all things of the earth are passing… yet the kingdom of the Lord endures and holds promise of shelter for the contrite spirit of a humble man.  For dust may pass easily through the eye of any needle, and we can be united with the vision of God; for us too all things are made possible, if we humble ourselves in the ashes – if we fall sincerely at the feet of the Lord, and accept His word. ******* O LORD, help us freely renounce all of this world. YHWH, please help us to inherit eternal life; though we must die first, though we must give up all things of this world, let us not look at what is lost but what is gained, being forever with you in Heaven. Why should we prefer the riches of this life to life everlasting; why should we not want to be at Jesus’ side even here where we stand?  It is a fool who desires passing things to those that last; LORD, give us the wisdom and courage to do what is right. You would let nothing stand in our way to you, LORD; all blindness and sin you would drown in the sea.  You would not remember our transgressions against you or our failure to heed your call… let us turn again and kneel before your Son.  Then we shall praise you with all the living on high. It is not death we should fear or the renunciation of our goods.  Let us rather fear disobedience toward you and the loss of the kingdom.  O LORD, truly let us be cleansed of the guilt of our sin, that with clear eyes and open hearts we might follow you.…

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May 26 - Prayer to St. Philip Neri

2013-05-25
Length: 1s

O priest of joy whose song of service rises unto the Lord until this day, whose delight in sacrifice inspires others to give themselves in freedom to the work of Christ – pray all God’s priests and people will give themselves so completely in the love of the only Son that indeed a holy song might rise unto the heavens until He returns from there to carry us home forever. May the Lord’s healing graces be poured forth through your generous intercession that all souls might be prepared to unite with their Creator and Redeemer, with the Spirit who inspires the Church even here with His glorious presence.…

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May 25 - Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

2013-05-24
Length: 1s

O humble soul whom the Lord blessed with mystical elevations to His heavenly presence, you who remained so faithful through all trials and encouraged others to seek such perfection as well – pray that this proud age which leans so distinctly from the truth, from the love of God, will be consumed as you were by the Holy Spirit, by desire for the Lord’s overtaking of our lives, that all souls will turn from the false gods at their hands, idols that overshadow their spirits, and toward the humility known only in our Savior’s blood. Only in Him is life eternal; pray all souls will come to His love.…

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May 25 - Prayer to St. Gregory VII

2013-05-24
Length: 1s

O Shepherd and Father, defender of the faith and of holy Mother Church against those who would rob her of her freedom, those who would rape her, stealing away her purity, those who would deny her singleness in the sight of God as the House which He has founded – those who would destroy the faith and bring to naught the Church, our Mother, and Peter, our Holy Father, do not relent in their efforts… and so we need still your prayers and your courage to aid us in standing strong against the tide the evil one stirs up in this world. Pray indeed, O Father, that all our shepherds and all God’s people will tirelessly defend the truth in love.…

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May 25 - Prayer to St. Bede the Venerable

2013-05-24
Length: 1s

O learned master whose life itself was as a monastery, consumed as you were by study and teaching and writing and prayer, who till the very end spoke the name of the Lord in all your words and deeds – pray that the incense of your life will rise unto the throne of God and intercede for us here below who are so far from His presence, from knowledge of His providence and remembrance of His sacrifice. How will we find ourselves one with the Lord of Creation and ascend to His glory if you do not pray for us, O blessed soul so united to His will, so held within His Hand and breathing forth His name?…

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May 26 - Trinity Sunday, Year C

2013-05-24
Length: 5s

(Prv.8:22-31;   Ps.8:2,4-9;   Rm.5:1-5;   Jn.16:12-15)  “Everything that the Father has is mine.” From the beginning Jesus is with the Father, one with the Father, the pure reflection of His being which cannot be separated from the substance of the Father.  Through Him all things were made, and indeed He is reflected in all things.  And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes from what is the Father’s and Son’s, that anything that comes to be comes to be. And man is the crown of the creation of this Most Holy Triumvirate.  It is He who is the purest reflection of the love of Father and Son brought to birth by the Holy Spirit.  It is he in whom the wisdom of God takes great delight.  And all the wonders of earth and heaven are put in our hands: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.” But a greater gift than this earth has the Lord in store for us: it is a oneness with the one God which we could not have imagined, and still strive forward to see.  “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”; and that same Spirit, left to us by the Father and the Son, remains ever with us to bless and guide us to that magnificent vision of glory we hope one day to be able to bear in its fullness.  The Spirit declares unto us the beauty that will be, and calls us to prepare ourselves to receive it. And our afflictions do not deter us from attaining the promise of all truth; they do but strengthen us in our resolve as we conquer them day by day in the Spirit.  “We have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand,” and our suffering shall not shake us – even Jesus’ own leaving us does not hinder our journey to God, for we indeed have faith that His Spirit is with us and that His Spirit has all that is of Jesus, who has all that is of the Father… and so we have all things through Him. The first glory in which we were set is a marvel to behold, for His fingerprints are on all we see.  But the second glory to which we are now called is simply beyond words, ineffable as is our God.  Alleluia! Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, may your Spirit find delight in us and we reflect your glory. YHWH, your love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and we have peace with you by your only Son.  To what glory we are called, we in whom you take delight, we who are your own – the blessed creature upon whom your favor rests.  Your Wisdom is with us to guide us to all truth, to guide us even to you, and to all the graces you would pour upon us. All things of this earth you have placed under our feet, and we realize this honor through Christ your Son.  In Him we are crowned with great glory, for in Him you are well pleased, O LORD.  And so, in Him let us place all our hope. From the beginning you had us in mind, dear God; in your heart you held us well.  Though we did not exist from the beginning with you, Jesus did, and by your Spirit you would make us one with Him who is one with you.  And so we boast of the glory that is ours by faith.…

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May 25 - Saturday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-24
Length: 5s

(Sir.17:1-15;   Ps.103:13-18;   Mk.10:13-16)   “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.”   O how the Lord “looks with favor upon [our] hearts, and shows [us] His glorious works”!  And because “His majestic glory their eyes beheld, His glorious voice their ears heard,” so the “people were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them,” so they were offering their precious loved ones into the arms of the Savior.  And should we not all come to Him, should we not all run into His arms… are we not all His children? Brothers and sisters, “the Lord from the earth created man, and in His own image He made him.”  Do you hear that?  In His own image we are made, as His sons and daughters.  “He endows [us] with a strength of His own…  He forms our tongues and eyes and ears, and imparts to [us] an understanding heart.”  He makes us as Himself, and then fills us with His presence!  And should we not come to Him, should we not come to His only Son, our own dear brother, the perfection of our race, that all disfigurement might be taken from us and we might radiate the light of God, that we might be remade in His image? The Lord is only love and “His eyes are ever upon [our] ways” to guide us to His love.  He is “as a father [who] has compassion on his children.”  Yes, “the kindness of the Lord is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear Him,” and those who fear Him are His children.  But this fear, this overwhelming awe at the love the Maker of the universe has toward His simple creatures, is not one which makes us run from Him, but which moves us to leap into the arms of our Redeemer, into the arms of Him whose arms are always open to receive us, always open to embrace His children. We know our blessed brother John has told us with holy affection that “we are God’s children now” (1Jn.3:2).  Of this grace at the hands of our Lord he has spoken most eloquently, most simply – most lovingly.  And it is so for all who love Him.  And so we should not hinder our hearts from coming to Him, from embracing Him as He embraces us… from giving ourselves to Jesus (particularly in the Sacrament), that we might be formed in His image.  Come to Him who is one with the Father, and one with the Father you shall become. ******* O LORD, only your children come to you; welcome us into your kingdom. YHWH, let us come to you as children, trusting in your love.  And you will embrace us, and you will bless us… and we will come into your kingdom on high. We are but dust, O LORD, and our days pass like those of the grass.  A breath from your mouth and we are gone.  But it is your Breath that gives us life, that makes us wise, that makes us holy – that causes us to share in your glory.  You have created us from the earth but have endowed us with a spirit like your own.  Let us know your kindness upon us that we may endure unto eternity. LORD, let us remain in awe of you, ever grateful for the gifts that you give us, for the wonder that is upon us every day of our lives.  Let us not be separated from you but always be as your children, innocent and obedient and humble as you.  To your Son let us run and so find a home in His flesh and blood, and so be adopted into your love.…

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May 24 - Friday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-23
Length: 5s

(Sir.6:5-17;   Ps.119:12,16,18,27,34-35;   Mk.10:1-12)   “They are no longer two but one flesh.”   How much more clearly could the Lord speak of the unity found in marriage and so the respect due this sacrament?  How better could He get His point across to you that marriage is indissoluble, that it is not to be played with, that you commit adultery as you consider divorcing your spouse?  “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.”  And by this Jesus does not mean that two separate creatures were made – He means that every one of God’s human beings is both male and female, and that in marriage one finds his wholeness in the sight of God. When Adam was formed of the dust of the earth, Eve was already present within him, in his very body.  She was not created apart from him, but taken from him, “from man” – which is the meaning of “woman.”  Adam when he was first made held both male and female in himself, and when woman was taken from him, built of his rib, the two did not cease to be one.  Thus does he recognize Eve as flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.  Thus the two are inseparable.  In marriage this inherent unity returns, is fulfilled.  “Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.” And if “a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; [and] he who finds one finds a treasure,” how much more of a shelter is a spouse in whose body one makes his home – how much more valuable a treasure?  A friend and more is made by the marriage vow, for truly the spouses become one with one another, and one with the Lord.  And so, “when you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him.”  Know that you are joining yourself to this spouse body and soul, and such commitment is not to be taken lightly or falsely, with an eye toward leaving “when sorrow comes.”  Beware, lest you find “a friend who becomes an enemy,” or that you yourself are not a trustworthy mate.  For once joined you cannot be separated, try in vain as you will.  One might as well cut off a healthy limb as seek divorce, so grotesque is the proposal.  Worse than this, it is as cutting out one’s heart, for how can one divide blood that is commingled? But you who are faithful of heart, know what blessing awaits you, for “a faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds.”  And if you seek “discernment, that [you] may observe [God’s] law and keep it with all [your] heart,” your spouse shall serve as savior to you, who are united with her to Christ.  In her you will find your life, even as the two become one. ******* O LORD, may we take refuge in your friendship.  YHWH, bless all marriages this day; may there be true, lasting friendship between all who vow their love for one another.  May they understand the commitment they make and the grace that comes to those faithful to it. Let us not think that we can separate at will, O LORD; help us to realize the bond that comes even from you in this holy sacrament.  Let us not harden our hearts against your loving will but sacrifice our desires to find union with that love.  Let us never be adulterous in our relationships with one another or with you. You would make a sturdy shelter for all those who marry in your NAME and in the blood of your only Son.  LORD, what could be of greater worth to us than a faithful friend, a faithful husband or wife, and a marriage founded in your surpassing love?  Open all eyes to the wonders you hold for those who love as you command.  Write your NAME upon our hearts and upon our wedding promises.…

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May 23 - Thursday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-22
Length: 5s

(Sir.5:1-8;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:50;   Mk.9:41-50)   “Mercy and anger are alike with Him; upon the wicked alights His wrath.”   “The way of the wicked vanishes.”  It must vanish.  It cannot but vanish, for there is no place for wickedness in the kingdom of God.  And so, what is wicked must “be thrown into Gehenna”: what is to “enter life” must be purified.  Thus does the Lord command – Cut off your hand!  Cut off your foot!  Tear out your eye!  Remove even with violence whatever causes you to sin to preserve your life unto heaven.  For it is indeed better that you “enter life maimed” or “crippled” or “with one eye,” than to have your whole body cast into the fires of hell. Do you fear being “plunged into the sea with a great millstone fastened around [your] neck”?  Does this seem a terrible fate?  The fires of hell are infinitely worse, and those of purgatory approach them.  Know that “everyone will be salted with fire”; everyone must be purified of sin.  And you can refuse this truth and so find yourself in the place “the worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished,” you can delay your purgation and suffer a measure of these flames in the state of purification after death – or you can remove the sin from your soul by the grace of God now, while there is yet time and His mercy is yet abundant. “Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive,” you say, and you are not wrong.  But do you know how the mercy of God affects the sinful soul?  Do you think it a pleasant experience to be cleansed, to be refined as by fire?  Do you not understand that the Lord’s love and justice, His mercy and anger, are one for the wicked.  Yes, “the Lord will exact the punishment” that brings refreshment and renewal.  He must.  How else shall you be purged and purified for heaven?  All the sins upon your blackened soul are removed only by the chastising flames of His love. So, “delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.”  Be not a fool “adding sin upon sin,” for every transgression must be accounted for.  But the Lord’s blood will wash me clean, you may say, if you have some sense of His redemptive sacrifice.  Yes, but it is still your soul that must be cleansed, and you shall own the purgatorial fires.  And so, hasten this day to the confessional; turn resolutely from your sin.  Then pray for the Lord’s indulgence, and you may be spared even temporal punishment for your transgressions (and even serve in the Lord’s stead to release others from the pain of purgatorial flames). ******* O LORD, we will all be salted with fire – may our souls be preserved from your wrath. YHWH, let your wrath not suddenly flame forth to destroy our lives; the way of the wicked let us not walk that the unquenchable fire we shall never know.  You cannot but be angry with those who persist in sin – you cannot pretend that such evil does not exist or look past the hardened heart.  All will know your purgatorial flames, but may they be redeeming for every soul. Why are we so foolish, O LORD?  Why do we not turn to you this day, this hour, and delight in the Law you offer for our salvation?  Should we not walk the way of love your Son has set forth for us and seek to soothe His desire for our love by meditating on your Word and serving those who bring it to us? Let us not be cast into the sea with a millstone around our necks, LORD, but drink in the running water that comes from your Church, from the side of Christ.  Only this will quench the fires of your wrath.…

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May 22 - Prayer to St. Rita of Cascia

2013-05-21
Length: 1s

O saint of the impossible whose union with Christ in His Passion and His glory serves to grant favors to those in great need, you whose great thirst to be one with our Bridegroom brought the help of the saints yourself – pray we poor souls shall fulfill our vocation, that through the din of this world we shall hear and answer the call of the Lord and give ourselves in His service in the manner He desires. Pray our hearts be so set on union with Him that no obstacle shall stand in our way, that all help we need to find our path to Him will be provided through your prayers. How shall we come to dwell in Heaven? Invoke God’s blessing upon us.…

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May 22 - Wednesday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-21
Length: 5s

(Sir.4:11-19;   Ps.119:165,168,171-172,174-175;   Mk.9:38-40)   “Those who serve her serve the Holy One; those who love her the Lord loves.”   Such is wisdom, she who “instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her,” she under whose counsel we become the children of God. And I cannot help but think as I contemplate this personification of wisdom, how well and how appropriately she is embodied by our Blessed Mother, she who was immaculately conceived, she under whose mantle even Jesus our Savior “advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Lk.2:52).  “To Jesus through Mary” is the motto of the fortunate souls who have consecrated themselves to the Virgin (even as St. Louis De Montfort most wisely instructs), and it is through her intercession that we find God’s graces and favors lovingly bestowed upon us.  She is our dear Mother, and instructs us as she has her Son. Indeed it is His beloved disciple John whom the Lord must admonish today, teaching him that those who do the Lord’s work serve Him, and these He blesses; and, of course, it is this same disciple to whom Jesus will entrust His Blessed Mother – and she to him – even while dying on the cross: “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn.19:26-27).  And now as she has taught Him, so she shall teach His beloved, shall teach all His Church, how to follow the Holy One.  And certainly the home into which John gathered the Virgin Mary was more than an earthly domicile: even “from that hour” he took her into his heart. And she is with us still; she is with him who remains (see Jn.21:20-23), with the Church here on earth, serving as our Mother, guiding us in all wisdom.  And, my brother, my sister, do not be discouraged if “at first she puts [you] to the test… and tries [you] with her discipline,” for she only seeks to learn that your “heart is fully with her,” and so, fully with her Son; she only longs to teach you wisdom.  She will come back “to bring [you] happiness and reveal her secrets” to you.  And as long as you remain with her, she will hold you in her loving arms as no other mother, and form you in the divine image of her blessed Son. O Lord, “those who love your law have great peace,” for in your wisdom all question and doubt flee.  Discipline me by your Word and form me in the womb of your Blessed Mother.  “Let my soul live to praise you,” for I would be in your company forever.  May your wisdom and grace keep me from “the hands of despoilers.” ******* O LORD, your wisdom transcends Heaven and earth; let us listen to your instruction. YHWH, let us never be against you, never fail in our embrace of the wisdom and grace that pour forth from your throne.  Into your glory let us come, obediently following in the way of your Son, listening ever to His words of instruction.  If we serve Him and love Him we will know the blessings that are upon Him through you and the Spirit. Let us not be forgetful, O LORD, forgetful of the blessings we have known or the ones which are yet promised us if we continue along the path your precepts mark out for us in this dark world.  Because the world is dark, you must sometimes hide your face from us, you must sometimes seem dark to our minds, which are clouded over by sin and the inclination to sin.  But if we reach out to you, if we seek your will, trusting in your love, we will indeed come soon to sing your praise in the surpassing light of your kingdom. Let us fear no discipline, LORD, but rather rejoice in carrying our cross with your Son.…

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May 21 - Prayer to St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

2013-05-20
Length: 1s

O sacrificial sheep, priests of the Lord who offered your lives even as you offered Mass, in union with Christ and His Church for the sake of your homeland: you prayed for its peace even as violence was done to you; you celebrated the Mass and baptized your flock even when it became a crime, even when it cost your lives – such union with Christ pray all souls, and especially our priests, shall know to the depths of their heart; let none be afraid to shed their blood as one with His redemptive sacrifice. The Cross pray we follow where it leads, despite the world’s persecution.…

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May 21 - Tuesday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-20
Length: 5s

(Sir.2:1-11;   Ps.37:3-5,18-19,27-28,39-40;   Mk.9:30-37) “My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” Is Jesus not “teaching His disciples in this vein” when He speaks of His imminent death, a death they shall share, and calls them to “remain the least one of all and the servant of all,” even as He is?  Their arguing about importance reveals that they have not understood who they are, and so He would remind them that “in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.” A kind of humiliation is upon the Lord’s disciples today as they fall silent in shame for “arguing about who was the most important, as Jesus stands a humble, silent child “in their midst” and calls them to embrace him, even as He has.  They must make themselves lower than even this “little child,” they must be even more “sincere of heart and steadfast,” if they are to find the reward which awaits them.  Yes, they must “cling to Him” even as He clings to them – even as He clings to this child – and “thus will [their] future be great”; thus will they come through the Son to the Father in heaven. “Crushing misfortune” awaits the Lord’s disciples, for soon He shall be taken from them, and they will understand what His death means.  But as long as they continue to “fear the Lord… [their] reward will not be lost”; for “three days after His death He will rise,” and those who give their lives as He has done, even as the least of all, shall also know what His resurrection means. Oh brothers and sisters, “the Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted; their inheritance lasts forever,” and we must be counted among their number.  The Lord “forsakes not His faithful ones”; there is no one who has “hoped in the Lord and been disappointed.”  So let our hope be in Him and our service be for Him, and He will help us to endure “whatever befalls” us.  If He is our “refuge in time of distress,” we shall know our salvation, for whoever stands with Him in times of trial will also stand with Him in glory.  Let us but remain humble before Him, as a child; let us but accept the children He would place in our arms… and the birth pangs we find will but lead us to our home in heaven. To His house the Lord leads us, even in this life.  Let us listen to His teaching. ******* O LORD, even in times of crushing misfortune you are with us, if we but turn to you in humility.   YHWH, you are more humble than a little child, and if we could but trust in you and be as you, you would care for us in all things.  Make us as your children, as humble souls in your holy hand, that into your image we may be molded. Your Son would lead us to you, LORD.  By His death He would show us the trust we must have in your love.  We must give all things over unto you, even our very life’s breath, to find how faithful you are, to find the life that is in you.  After three days Jesus did rise, and if we but trust our own death to you, we shall rise with Him. O LORD, let us not fear trial or distress, but in such humiliation increase our faith.  This is your gift to us; this would bring us closer to you.  And what more should we desire than to be more like you, who are more humble than a speck of dust, whose days are without end.…

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May 20 - Prayer to St. Bernardine of Siena

2013-05-19
Length: 1s

O apostle of the holy name of Jesus who proclaimed God’s loving mercy to those in darkness that the light of faith might save souls and make them children of the light of Christ, radiating His splendor, the splendor of truth, to the ends of the earth – where is such zeal today, where apostles with the preaching of Paul; and so, how shall souls be saved, how shall false beliefs flee, infidelity be consumed and the truth appear as a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame, if you do not intercede? Pray that we may not lack knowledge of and devotion to Jesus, that His name shall not be suppressed but preached without cease to waiting hearts.…

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May 20 - Monday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

2013-05-19
Length: 5s

(Sir.1:1-10;   Ps.93:1-2,5;   Mk.9:14-29)   “There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon His throne: It is the Lord.”   “The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” and He alone knows “wisdom’s root” and all “her subtleties”; for it is He who created her and “poured her forth upon all His works.”  And so He alone, whose “throne stands firm from of old,” He alone understands all things, and can answer any question.  And should we not be awestruck by His presence?   That the Lord is robed in splendor as King over all we have seen only recently.  Even today He descends from the mountain on which He was transfigured; and though His face no longer shines more brightly than the sun, yet “immediately on catching sight of Jesus, the whole crowd was overcome with awe” and rushed up to Him, for still His glorious presence overwhelms.  At the base of the mountain the crowd and the disciples are engaged with the scribes “in a lively discussion” about the condition and fate of a poor child horribly possessed by a demon.  Their words are empty wind, but the one with all answers approaches.  And with a measure of faith from the boy’s father and those surrounding, He casts out the devil which even the disciples could not command, and which the scribes could not comprehend. “What an unbelieving lot [we] are!  How long must [the Lord] remain with [us]?  How long can [He] endure” our lack of wisdom and grace?  Brothers and sisters, why do we so lack faith?  Why do we say to the Lord, “If you can”?  Do we not know that “everything is possible to a man who trusts”?  Do we think the Lord’s power is somehow cut short?  Yes, we are weak and pitiable creatures, blind to the glory which surrounds us, but He is not!  He is that glory, and that glory He shines for us.  We need but come to Him with the awe the crowd shows today, and He will do all things for us. “All wisdom comes from the Lord and with Him it remains forever”; and for us “fear of the Lord is glory and splendor,” for by fear of the Lord are we graced with His wisdom.  And then what shall we lack of His power?  Indeed, we shall by holy fear come to know the “holiness [that] befits [His] house” and so dwell with Him who is “from everlasting.”  Do you believe this, my brother, my sister?  Come to the One who is seated far above us, and you shall do His work here on earth with the wisdom His Blessed Mother imparts to all her blessed children. ******* O LORD, in your wisdom and majesty you save us from all evil; let us stand with you in holiness. YHWH, shine your wisdom upon us like holy light; let us grope in darkness no more, blind to your presence.  Jesus your Son has come down from the mountain to remain with us – may we run to Him for healing. If wisdom had not been revealed to us, how would we know your majesty, LORD?  If the Christ had not come to us, what would we know of your glory?  But as it is, He has come, and in Him all things are ours to know.  As it is, the Spirit now breathes upon us. May we be blessed with fear of you, O LORD our God, that all demons may be cast from our hearts and we might stand in strength with your only Son.  O let us have faith in Him and the power at His command!  Let us know that we are the work of your hands and to holiness in your House you call us.  In awe let us come before you.…

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May 18 - Prayer to St. John I

2013-05-17
Length: 1s

O faithful Shepherd who laid down your life for the sake of true teaching, who was killed by one set against God’s Word… though deprived of food and so of this life, you were given instead the life of Heaven and serve as a holy example of what should be sacrificed for love of truth and right – pray that the flock shepherded this day by the apostles will be led by the same loyalty, led by genuine pastors whose love for the sheep would lead them to lay down their lives that the Church might be blessed by a radiant faith which shines the light of Christ even to the ends of this dying earth.…

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May 19 - Pentecost Sunday, Year C

2013-05-17
Length: 5s

(Acts 2:1-11;   Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34;   Rom.8:8-17;   Jn.14:15-16,23b-26)  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” The Spirit of God is with those who keep His commandments; and His Commandment is to love.  In such love all become sons of God, all are made one in His Name.  (Spirit of Love, anoint us.) In our first reading the oneness of God’s children is emphasized: “They were all in one place together” and “they gathered in a large crowd.”  The first quote refers to the disciples of Christ waiting for His Holy Spirit, the second to “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” who would be made one with the disciples by the power of the Spirit.  We note particularly the word “devout”: because they were keepers of the Word of God, the Spirit descends upon them. Our psalm exalts the renewing power of the Spirit of God; all creatures in the palm of God are given life, and new life, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Alleluia!  We rejoice in His grace.  In our second reading, Paul contrasts the life-giving Spirit with the death-bringing flesh, speaking, much as Jesus in our gospel, of the Spirit who dwells in those of God.  “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him,” but belongs to sin and the world.  He does not keep the Word of Jesus and so dies in the flesh; his flesh lacking the Spirit that gives life, he becomes as an empty shell.  The love of God is not in him. But for those who keep the Word of God, their hearts cry out in joy to the Father of all as they are made one with Him and one another, and led to the truth of everlasting life in His Spirit.  May the Spirit of Jesus be with us. Further note: expounding on the theme of keeping the Lord’s Word, we see in the fact that people of all languages hear this one language of the Spirit that the Word is not beholden to any tongue; it is the tongues of flame, the tongue of the Spirit which speaks the Word of God, we all must keep. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "There Is No End to Life" (end) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit, renewed for the proclamation of your love. YHWH, comes the driving wind from Heaven, the Spirit Jesus breathes upon His apostles, and so we are made your sons, dear Father, and declare your glory unto all.  May your Church with one voice offer you due praise and teach the nations of your eternal call. We must leave our sins behind and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, living as one with the Son of God.  If we keep His commandments, we shall dwell with you forever, O Father God.  For He is with you and through Him you send the Spirit; all who desire to be your children you bless with purging fire this holy day. Now the promised gift of the Spirit falls upon our immortal souls and we are refreshed and made new creatures, formed in the image of Jesus, your Son.  One you make us in Spirit and Body, free from all the works of the flesh.  Your Son stands in our midst and offers us His peace; the Advocate now testifies to all Truth… Come and make your dwelling in us, O glorious LORD and God.…

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May 18 - Saturday of the 7th Week of Easter

2013-05-17
Length: 5s

(Acts 28:16-20,30-31;   Ps.11:4-5,7;   Jn.21:20-25)   “I wear these chains solely because I share the hope of Israel.”   The hope of Israel indeed wears chains.  The Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the nation, is fixed to a cross.  This is the call of all who follow Jesus – to die. But, Peter is prompted to ask as he walks with Jesus and the Lord explicates his dual call to serve as leader of the Church and to die for his faith, “What about him?”  What about John, who follows them?  The question pertains not simply to whether or not John also must suffer a martyr’s death, but principally – as the principal call of Peter is to feed the Lord’s flock – to why Jesus does not call John to serve as His first of priests, standing in His stead, for it is clear to all that John is “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  Jesus responds, “Suppose I want him to stay until I come,” suppose He does not want John to pour himself out as a libation on His holy altar… that should be of no concern to the Rock of the Church.  Jesus calls whom He wills to what He wills for His blessed purpose.  And John is not called to die, or to lead. John is, in fact, the only one of the Twelve who does not suffer a martyrdom of blood.  He does remain until a very old age.  His martyrdom is white, that of suffering a long life.  And in several ways he remains ever with the Church on earth, in a sense, as the Christ’s beloved Church.  It is he to whom the Blessed Mother is entrusted, she who is with us always to nurture us here on our journey.  And in our gospel today, the principal call of John is most evident: he is called to “witness to… the things that Jesus did” and to “record them.”  “It is he who wrote them down,” he who is the great Evangelist – he whose words remain with us even today as we read his gospel throughout the most blessed season of Easter.  And, of course, it is he who, in his old age, while exiled on the island of Patmos, will receive the great vision that has become the Book of Revelation, thus telling us so thoroughly not only of Jesus’ life on earth, but also of His life in heaven. In our first reading, Paul is “allowed to take a lodging of his own.”  Though “a soldier was assigned to keep guard over him… with full assurance, and without any hindrance whatever, he preached the reign of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What Paul does in earthly chains for two years – for soon he, too, shall be martyred for the faith – John does, in a sense, endlessly, or at least until its natural end. “The Lord is in His holy temple…  His searching glance is on mankind.”  He calls all to the martyrdom He chooses.  Let us each wear the chains He provides, each find the place in the kingdom to which He leads us, knowing always that “the upright shall see His face.” ******* O LORD, however much we speak of you, there is more to tell; you far surpass our poor witness, O hope of Israel. YHWH, if we must stay here in rented lodgings, let us witness to you with our lives.  If today we must die, let our blood be shed upon your altar of sacrifice.  Whatever we do, whether we live or die, let it be done for you. We do not know how long we shall dwell upon this earth, O LORD.  We do not know when we shall die and come with you to Paradise.  But we know that your call is upon our souls, that while here we wear your chains and before us is set your Son’s Cross.  And we know the source of both the chains of this life and the death we must die is the hope we bear in our souls, the hope of entering into your reign.  And we know that your reign is alive in us even this day. Peter is the first of priests, sacrificing himself in the place of your Son upon your holy altar.  John, your beloved, witnesses to you with his love and in the words he speaks to us.  If we must stay and write, O LORD (vision of you upon our souls), or if we must bleed and die, let all be done for you who dwell on high… and let us join you in your Temple.…

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May 17 - Friday of the 7th Week of Easter

2013-05-16
Length: 5s

(Acts 25:13-21;   Ps.103:1-2,11-12,19-20;   Jn.21:15-19)   “When you are older you will stretch out your hands, and another will tie you fast and carry you off against your will.”   And so the Lord “indicate[s] the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God.”  And by his laying down of his life, this leader of the apostles shall indeed feed the Lord’s sheep. After “they had eaten their meal,” when there was nothing to distract them – as the apostles gazed at the wonder of the risen Christ before their eyes – the Lord quietly speaks to Peter in the hearing of all.  Three times Jesus inquires of His blessed Rock, calling him by his earthly name to assume the name heaven has assigned him.  Three times the risen Lord asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” and three times Peter must publicly declare his love for God above all things, three times negating his previous denials.  It is a simple scene, but beautiful, and remarkably weighty.  Not only does Jesus place the care of the Church into this poor apostle’s hands, but He speaks clearly of the sacrifice His Rock must make, teaching him what love of God and care for His people entail… nothing less than death. And of Paul’s death for the Lord we continue to read.  Though the Apostle does not himself appear in our first reading, he is spoken of clearly.  Two things we learn of him: first, he is a “prisoner” “kept in custody”; second, the reason for his arrest – he differed with the Jewish leaders “about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed is alive.”  In his imprisonment is Paul’s death and in his profession of the risen Lord he shows his love for God and the people.  Here he clearly follows in the steps of Jesus, fulfilling his call from the Lord. And, brothers and sisters, the call to death, the call to love of the Lord and care for all His children, is all our own.  What the Lord speaks to Peter He speaks indeed to all the apostles seated there on the shore in Galilee; and He speaks the same in our hearing today, calling all who would follow Him in the same way.  And follow Him we must.  It is only by this same sort of death that any of us will come to life; it is only sharing in His cross that we will find the resurrection.  We cannot see the risen Lord, nor rise ourselves, if we are not willing to die for Him and with Him. But do not fear: “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”  Neither Festus nor Felix nor King Agrippa nor the Jewish elders can judge Paul, for he is only in God’s hands.  And so, though we be dragged to certain crucifixion, the world holds no sway over our souls – the life the Spirit provides and the strength He instills cannot be destroyed.  Let us stretch out our hands freely to embrace our blessed Lord and “all His benefits” receive through our sharing in His sacrifice of love. ******* O LORD, may we declare our love for you by laying down our lives for you who are above all. YHWH, you rule over all from your throne in Heaven, and so, though brought before the rulers of this world, what need we fear?  Though to death you call us all, we have your blessing to protect us and your Church to feed us along the way.  With your Son’s Body and Blood you feed us, and so, again, what need we fear? It is a blessing to witness to your Name and your Son’s resurrection before the powers that be in this world, for then by your grace we serve to bring your kingdom forth to take its place amongst all.  Thank you, O LORD, for this gift you give us, to share in the work of your Christ. And thank you, LORD, for your call to Peter and His obedience in laying down His life, His following in the path upon which Jesus leads us, that we might know the way we should travel and have the Church’s protection, the food you give us at the hands of the apostles all through our earthly life.…

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May 16 - Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter

2013-05-15
Length: 4s

(Acts 22:30,23:6-11;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11;   Jn.17:20-26)   “I set the Lord ever before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”   Yes, “the Lord appeared at Paul’s side” at night, in prison, after his testimony and the near riot it caused in Jerusalem.  He comes to encourage him, to strengthen him for further trials; and through all Paul shall remain strong. “Keep me, O God, for in you, I take refuge,” David prays, and sings of the confidence his heart and soul find in the Lord, his “allotted portion and cup… who hold[s] fast [his] lot.”  He knows deep in his spirit that the Lord “will not abandon [his] soul to the netherworld, nor will [He] suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption.”  And certainly, the same faith Paul exhibits; the same trust in the Lord, Paul holds in his own spirit.  He, too, is not disturbed, though he finds himself “on trial now because of [his] hope in the resurrection of the dead.” And whence comes such confidence?  How can a man so attacked, a man so beaten and cursed, be so without fear?  Does not Jesus answer this question in His prayer to the Father, which we are all blessed to hear?  Here He prays that we be one in Him even as He is one with the Father.  Here He asks that our “unity may be complete.”  And if our unity is complete with the Father and with the Son, as well as with one another, what, brothers and sisters, have we to fear?  If the love of God which the Father “bore [the Son] before the world began” is in our hearts now, what can disturb them?  “That your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them” is Jesus’ prayer to the Father for us all – and do you think the Father does not listen, does not answer His Son?  He would have us in His company where He is, gazing upon His glory – and this is where Paul dwells.  And so he cannot be moved. “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”  The Spirit brings us now that of which David sings, that which Paul knows, that all might know the glory of God, that all might be one in Him, and so, safe from all harm.  As Jesus is resurrected from the dead, so shall we all be.  What have we to fear?  We must but set Him before us always. ******* O Lord, let your love live in us that we might make your Name known with faith and courage. YHWH, in you we take our refuge, and so we pray that you keep us ever close by – with you at our right hand we shall not be disturbed.  Please answer your Son’s prayer that we be in His company where He is, with you in eternal glory.  You will not abandon our souls to the nether world, and so, encourage us as you have Paul, with your presence at our side.  In your Spirit may we find confidence to bear witness before all. Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and with Himself He would bring us to your glorious presence.  What need we fear with His power upon us?  Why should we be afraid when His Spirit is with us, showering on us your love?  In you we should but rejoice for the eternal protection you give us in your holy NAME.  To life we shall come even this day, O LORD, for we have believed in your Son and so share in the glory of His resurrection.…

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May 15 - Prayer to St. Isidore the Farmer

2013-05-14
Length: 1s

O farmer of God’s green earth who cultivated the faith even as you cultivated the ground, whose simple and humble life should serve as inspiration to all toiling on this plane – pray that we shall follow your example, sharing our food with the hungry as we work for the salvation of souls. Pray that all the work we do will bear fruit in God’s kingdom, that with you and your wife we may be found worthy of those blessed words come from our Savior’s mouth: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s joy.” Pray according to your own blessing from the Lord that this earth He has given us to care for may be saved from the greedy hands of corrupted man and serve as source of nourishment for all.…

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May 15 - Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter

2013-05-14
Length: 5s

(Acts 20:28-38;   Ps.68:29-30,33-36;   Jn.17:11-19)   “O Father most holy, protect them with the name you have given me.”   In our gospel today Jesus prays to the Father, “who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens,” to “guard [His disciples] from the evil one.”  And the parallels continue between His and Paul’s parting words, as the Apostle warns his own disciples, “When I am gone, savage wolves will come among you who will not spare the flock,” and therefore exhorts them to “be on guard.” It is the Lord’s earnest desire of the Father that we His disciples “be consecrated in truth.”  If truth be with us, if the Holy Spirit He promises to send be ours, the “careful watch” Jesus has kept “as long as [He] was with [us]” will continue.  In fact, Paul’s instruction to the elders of Ephesus to “shepherd the Church of God, which He has acquired at the price of His own blood” – blood the Lord is about to shed in our gospel – will be realized, and His apostles will become themselves those who care for the safety of the people of God.  “I consecrate myself for their sakes now,” Jesus says, offering Himself, His blood, as sacrifice for the Church; and Paul commends his disciples to this same Lord, “to that gracious word of His which can enlarge [them], and give [them] a share among all who are consecrated to Him.”  In His name all are saved. “Awesome in His sanctuary is God, the God of Israel; He gives power and strength to His people.”  David sings mightily of the majesty of God, whose “voice resounds, the voice of power,” and calling all to “confess the power of God!” indicates how we share in that great power.  In declaring of the Father, with Jesus and with Scripture, “Your word is truth,” that truth in essence becomes our own; we are thereby consecrated to it.  And so Paul can exhort those he has placed in positions of power: “Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has given you to guard,” for he knows as long as (like Paul) they do not “set [their] hearts on anyone’s silver or gold,” as long as they work tirelessly to “help the weak,” to serve the Church, they shall indeed be sharing in the power and authority of God. Brothers and sisters, we “do not belong to the world” but to God and to His truth.  His Spirit is with us to guide us and protect us here on our journey through death to life.  As we humble ourselves in prayer before Him, He hears and answers all our needs.  Remain in Him this day. ******* O LORD, shepherd your flock in the truth; keep all falsehood from us. YHWH, let us be consecrated in your Word, in your Word of truth, that we might share in your might and power, that we might be protected by your Name.  As your Son sends His apostles forth, so these apostles send others forth, all sharing in the power that comes from you by the Spirit upon your Church.  May we all be one with your Son as He is one with you, and so may we all do your will despite the persecutions of this world. We do not belong to the world, O LORD, but to the One who has left this world to come to you in your kingdom.  Help us to follow where He leads by your power from on high.  Your Spirit fall upon us this day to give us strength to accomplish the work you set before us.  From your sanctuary come to us and with us here remain, that we shall never turn from you along this narrow way.  From generation to generation let your Word go forth till all your children are consecrated in your truth.  …

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May 14 - Prayer to St. Matthias

2013-05-13
Length: 1s

O chosen apostle, destined to serve the Church as witness to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, you who walked with Him from the beginning even until He was taken from our sight yet were not appointed by the Spirit as one of the Twelve until a place was made desolate by the traitorous one – pray that the call upon the soul of all God’s children will be fulfilled according to His will and we all shall come to be witnesses to Jesus and His eternal glory wrought in our midst by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let none shy away from the Lord but assume their rightful place in His presence.…

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May 14 - St. Matthias

2013-05-13
Length: 5s

(Acts 1:15-17,20-26;   Ps.113:1-8;   Jn.15:9-17)   “It was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.”   Since “the saying in Scripture uttered long ago by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David was destined to be fulfilled in Judas” and he “went the way he was destined to go,” now the word of the Lord must be accomplished: “May another take his office.”  And though “Peter stood up in the center of the brothers” and declared the need expressed in Scripture, and though the one hundred and twenty brothers gathered together “nominated two,” the prayer of the disciples, as well as their actions, makes clear by whom Matthias is chosen: “O Lord, you read the hearts of men.  Make known to us which of these two you choose for this apostolic ministry.”  As Judas is destined for perdition, so Matthias is chosen by the Lord to take his place, for all is indeed in the hands of God. And what loving hands these are, brothers and sisters; and what loving hands all His disciples are called to employ.  The words of the Lord in today’s gospel breathe the very love of God upon His apostles.  “Love one another as I have loved you” is His command to them.  “Live on in my love.”  Our “fruit must endure,” and it can only endure, we can only bear fruit, sharing in the love of Father and Son.  For then the Holy Spirit is upon us, who brings all to life.  And the way in which we share in divine love the Lord makes clear as well: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  And it is this laying down of his life to which Matthias is called today; and it is the same service in His name that makes us all friends of Jesus. “From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised,” for indeed “high above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory.”  His ways are certainly far above our own, and it is His ways to which we must come, obediently following His command, His command to love.  Today He reaches down and “raises the lowly from the dust… to seat [Matthias] with princes, with the princes of His people.”  Today His choice is made of who will follow the Son.  None but He knows the ones He chooses, the way we must walk, for none is “like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below”; and our joy is made complete only in going forth as He leads, for, simply put, none can compare with His love. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, you choose those whom you send forth – let us live in your love. YHWH, help us to love one another as your Son has loved us that we shall live ever in His love and bear fruit in His Name.  May we take our place with Him and all His apostles in your kingdom this day. O LORD, as you chose Matthias to take the place of Judas, to sit with your princes, so let us know that we, too, are chosen by you to do your will in this world as the friends of Jesus.  We take no honor unto ourselves but all honor you bestow upon those you call to your side.  The greatest honor you would give to all – to be formed in the image of your Son. Let us be faithful to that call, O LORD; let us give you due honor, you who are enthroned on high, far above heaven and earth.  We are but dust, dear God, but you sit above all Creation, and this dust you would raise up to dwell in your eternal presence.  In all your children let your will be done.  Let us give witness to your Son’s resurrection and so join Him at your side.…

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May 13 - Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

2013-05-12
Length: 1s

O marvelous Wonder, O Lady who shines like the sun, who brings the Light into our midst and calls us to repentance that we might be saved, that the whole world might turn to the Lord and be preserved from destruction… you come at the end of the age to lead us back to your Son before He comes again and finally – pray we shall hear and heed your warning to our souls and, with the faith of the children whose eyes beheld you, offer ourselves in union with the Cross of Jesus for the salvation of all and the renewal of the Church and the world.…

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May 13 - Monday of the 7th Week of Easter

2013-05-12
Length: 4s

(Acts 19:1-8;   Ps.68:2-7,33;   Jn.16:29-33)   “You will suffer in the world. But take courage!  I have overcome the world.”   “An hour is coming – has indeed already come – when you will be scattered and each will go his way, leaving me quite alone.”  Yet the Father is always with Jesus, even as He faces His imminent execution, and Jesus is with us by the power of the Spirit through all the trials we face. “In me you may find peace,” the Lord assures us, bearing out the words of David’s psalm: “The father of orphans and defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling.  God gives a home to the forsaken; He leads forth prisoners to prosperity.”  Such the Father does for the Son, who is brought from being utterly forsaken and alone upon the cross to the absolute fruitfulness and glory of heaven; and so the Son does for His sons, as from His place in the kingdom He delivers us the same grace of salvation and prosperity in His name. In the Lord Jesus, Paul finds his peace and his inspiration, fearlessly defending the Gospel in all synagogues “with persuasive arguments”; and this same fire of the Holy Spirit he imparts to the disciples by Baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and by laying his hands on them.  In these, as in us all to this day, God’s grace and power go forth: “The Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and utter prophecies.”  More than just repentance for sins, this Baptism in the Spirit prepares all to do the work of the Lord despite any difficulties in the world.  It convinces us of the divinity of Christ and causes us to declare in truth to our Lord, “There is no need for anyone to ask you questions.  We do indeed believe you came from God.”  And it enables us to prove such complete faith and trust in the One the Father has sent. When the Baptism of the Lord comes upon us, God’s “enemies are scattered”; all doubt and fear are driven from us “as smoke is driven away… as wax melts before the fire.”  And though we need be refined in the crucible that is our earthly life, yet at every moment God is near to preserve the grace and peace He has planted in our souls, to see that our faith does grow.   Lord, be with us always.  Send your Spirit forth. Let the ends of the earth be convinced of your loving presence and the salvation it brings to all hearts. ******* O LORD, let us be baptized in the Name of Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit that even in this world we shall live in your peace. YHWH, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us, our enemies are scattered, driven away like smoke, and we conquer the world.  His fire burns up every evil and we can but rejoice in your presence, singing praise to your Name.  O let that holy fire be upon us even this day! In the world there are indeed many troubles, many temptations which would cause us to be scattered, separated from you.  But Jesus has indeed overcome the world, O LORD; by His death He has put to death all the wiles of the devil, and so in Him we may take great strength.  Through belief in Him the power of the Holy Spirit is upon us. Dearest LORD, let us not be scattered but indeed by your Word upon us scatter all those who hate you.  Help us fearlessly defend your kingdom that all poor souls might make their home with you.…

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May 12 - Prayer to St. Pancras

2013-05-11
Length: 1s

O child of courage, though but a boy you gave your life as the strongest of men, proving thus your love for Christ, a love that steels souls even in the face of death, even in the youthful breast – if but a young child like yourself could die so freely for the faith and show the face of Jesus to the whole world, how much more should we, so graced by the Lord with years of devotion, be ready to give for the name of God? Pray your innocence may renew our hearts and your strength fortify our commitment to give our lives for Christ and His Church.…

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May 12 - Prayer to Sts. Nereus and Achilleus

2013-05-11
Length: 1s

O brave soldiers, the world could not take Christ from your hearts; though it tried to expunge Him from the army in which you served, your allegiance to the holy One of Israel, our Lord and God, remained firm, and so death you preferred to life without Jesus – pray for us who are so weak in faith, that our stale complacency might be invigorated by the blood of our Savior, the blood you yourselves shed as you filled up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Pray we shall not turn from the sacrifice to which the Lord calls us but embrace with joy the cross we must bear, and which bears us unto Heaven.…

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May 12 - Sunday of the 7th Week of Easter, Year C

2013-05-10
Length: 5s

(Acts 7:55-60;   Ps.97:1-2,6-7,9;   Rv.22:12-14,16-17,20;   Jn.17:20-26) “I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me.”  The Father gave Jesus His glory.  It is Jesus’ own glory He owns, for He had it “before the foundation of the world,” but now the Father has given it to Him anew in His incarnation as the Son of Man; and in His death and resurrection He shall not only confirm it in Himself, but serve thus to make it our own. What glory is ours in this Son of God who has come among us to draw us into the Father’s immortal, eternal love!  It is the same glory the Father and Son know and share in the Spirit who makes them one.  We are called to be so one with this Holy Trinity.  Our jaws should drop at such a prospect, our hearts reach up, and praise of the Most High God resound upon our tongues; for what does Jesus pray for us but that we be one in glory with the Righteous One? And this glory is “coming soon.”  Jesus promises John that soon He shall return, and then absolute glory will be our own, if we have washed clean our robes from sin, if we have prepared our souls to eat from “the tree of life and enter the city through its gates,” coming thus to where the glory of God dwells in eternity.  But if we are not clean, if we attempt to enter the city by other means than the gate before us, the gate who is Jesus and His teachings – climbing over the wall we shall but fall, and find the taste of the fruit of the tree terribly bitter. The people and their leaders could not well partake of the blessed word Stephen brought to their ears.  Of the glory of God and their own falling short they would not hear… and so could but stone its bearer to death.  But Stephen finds himself present there within the City gates, even while upon his knees and crying out; for his eyes are open to see God’s glorious One, and these stones he returns to their throwers with but a prayer for peace. Open your ears, my brothers and sisters.  Open your hearts to His call.  “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come,’” and you must echo their glorious song to the Alpha and the Omega.  To us soon Jesus the Christ is coming; “all peoples [will] see His glory.”  Invite Him in and be one with Him, even as the stones are falling.  “Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”  Amen and Alleluia! Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "There Is No End to Life" (2nd half) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us hear the Word of your Son and come to join Him in glory with you on high. YHWH, you are the Most High over earth and Heaven, and you call us to yourself through your only Son.  He would have us be one with you in the kingdom, and so He joins Himself to us that we might be joined to Him and so to you. To your glory let us come, O LORD.  Soon Jesus shall return to us; let us be prepared.  Let us see Him at your right hand as has Stephen, and welcome Him so freely into our lives, ready even to die.  For what is our death in this world but a falling asleep?  What matter the stones raining upon our heads if we have vision of you in our eyes and in our minds?  May we wash our robes clean and so freely call upon your Son to come. With you and with your Son let us be one; let us see your glory.  O may we stand in your presence forever, LORD!  Please receive our spirit.…

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May 11 - Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter

2013-05-10
Length: 4s

(Acts 18:23-28;   Ps.47:2-3,8-10;   Jn.16:23-28)   “He went about establishing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.”   In our gospel today, Jesus again assures the disciples, “Whatever you ask the Father, He will give you in my name,” He tells them of the time when He will no longer speak to them “in veiled language,” but “shall tell [them] about the Father in plain speech.”  A most fascinating quote is His statement, “I do not say that I will petition the Father for you.”  So great is our oneness with Jesus because we “have believed that [He] came from God,” that now as He returns to the Father, we go there with Him; and since we are thus with the Father through Him, He need not ask for us of the Father, but we ask ourselves.  When Jesus declares, “The Father already loves you, because you have loved me,” He is telling us that we are indeed one with Him in the Father’s love, and so, of course, the Father hears all our prayers. In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of Apollos, who was “a man full of spiritual fervor.  He spoke and taught accurately about Jesus.”  His love for the Lord is most evident in His “express[ing] himself fearlessly in the synagogue,” in his “vigorous” preaching of Jesus as the Messiah.  He also shows himself to be a humble man, very acquiescent to Priscilla and Aquila, who “took him home and explained to him God’s new way in greater detail.”  As strong as he was, and as much as “he greatly strengthened those who through God’s favor had become believers,” he was very willing to learn of his weakness.  And so he becomes a model of faith and of the oneness with God we find in the Spirit through the love of Christ.  And so his words are like prayers which never fall short of the glory of God.  And so the Father answers all he has in his heart. “He is supreme,” brothers and sisters.  The Lord Jesus now sits on the throne of God in the highest heavens.  And we who believe in Him become one with Him, and so, one with the Father of all.  And thus do we find all our prayers answered; thus do we find all our work blessed.  Thus do we find ourselves moving as one with the will of God by the love the Father shares with all of us through our faith in His Son.  As great as Apollos and Paul and all the apostles are, we can be, if we but believe that Jesus is God and so share in the Father’s love, and so hear the Holy Spirit speaking plainly to our hearts. ******* O LORD, Jesus is your Christ; He reigns with you over all the nations – thank you for sending Him to us that we might be united to you. YHWH, you are King of all the earth, reigning in highest Heaven, and Jesus is the Messiah you send, one with you and born for us that we might be one with both of you through the power of the Holy Spirit.  As your Son returns to you, He brings us with Himself; insofar as we love Him and believe in Him, you love us and so unite us with yourself.  What can we say of so great a gift but, Alleluia!  Praise you, LORD! May the Name of your Son be preached with zeal to all towns, to every soul that longs for salvation, that none shall be left without instruction but all realize the glory to which we are called in you.  With you, O Most High God, may we be joined by the grace found in your Son. All we desire may we ask for this day in the Name of your Son.  And so, O LORD, all shall be as you desire – all will be gathered together as your children.…

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May 10 - Friday of the 6th Week of Easter

2013-05-09
Length: 5s

(Acts 18:9-18;   Ps.47:2-8;   Jn.16:20-23)   “Go on speaking and do not be silenced, for I am with you.”   As Paul continues his missionary journey, his fears are calmed by the Lord, who assures him: “No one will attack you or harm you,” though he be in Corinth, whose infamous immorality is illustrated in the riotous behavior of the Jews in its court, and to which the court “paid no attention at all.”  And the Lord is true to His word, protecting Paul throughout his year-and-a-half stay, and keeping him even from having to defend himself from charges in today’s first reading. In our gospel Jesus reassures the disciples at the Last Supper, as He is about to leave them and their hearts begin to be troubled: “You will grieve for a time, but your grief will be turned into joy.”  And though there remains ever a measure of grief in our hearts as we labor in this world, our bodies apart from the fullness of the grace of heaven, yet we know that Jesus’ promise has indeed been kept in His sending His Spirit upon the apostles from His heavenly kingdom.  It is, of course, this Holy Spirit who inspires and guides and protects Paul, making his missionary work fruitful, for he does all having been baptized by the fire of Christ.  And, of course, the disciples to whom Jesus speaks today will soon have no more fear, for Pentecost is not far from them. Pentecost is not far from any of us, brothers and sisters.  The promised Spirit is come into the world to answer all questions, to calm all our anxieties.  As we wait these nine days to celebrate this great feast of the Church, as we prepare again to enter into its birth in the Spirit of God, let us be assured that the Lord’s promise remains: “You are sad for a time, but I shall see you again; then your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you.”  No one can take from us the promised joy we now hold in our hearts and which is renewed in this season.  As Paul is emboldened even through his most difficult trials, as the apostles rejoice at their persecutions for Jesus’ sake, so we should know that the Lord “brings people under us, nations under our feet”; and so, as powerful as the world may seem in all its brazen immorality, yet we are assured that “He chooses for us our inheritance, the glory of Jacob, whom He loves.”  “There are many of [His] people in this city,” here where we dwell on earth, and we must speak to them of the Lord’s glory, His love strengthening us for every task.  It is He who accomplishes all in us, and so He will guide and guard our way. ******* O LORD, give us reassurance of your presence with us, now and until the end of time. YHWH, soon our hearts shall rejoice at the return of your Son and our union with you in Heaven forever.  But now your Spirit is with us reassuring us of the fulfillment of this promise and guiding and protecting us along the way.  We can accomplish all the tasks you set before us because of the glory that is among us even this day in our Advocate from on high. O LORD, though there is cause for us to weep and mourn in these days we remain apart from complete unity with you, we are strengthened as we wait by the knowledge that Jesus is yet present with us in the Spirit He sends.  Let us take refuge in this gift and, as we wait now again for its outpouring in a few days, let us remember your faithfulness to us and our destiny to praise you forever in your eternal kingdom.  O you who sit upon the throne, shine your light upon us this day.…

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May 9 - Ascension of the Lord

2013-05-08
Length: 7s

(Acts 1:1-11;   Ps.47:1-3,6-9;   Eph.1:17-23  or  Eph.4:1-13  or  Heb.9:24-28,10:19-23; Mt.28:16-20  or  Mk.16:15-20  or  Lk.24:46-53)   “God mounts His throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts.”   Three events are the subject of today’s readings.  The key of these is certainly the Lord’s ascending into heaven and taking His place at the right hand of the Father.  Without this the other two could not follow.  And so we celebrate the Lord’s Ascension in particular; but we also hear of the coming Pentecost and the apostles’ call to go forth to the ends of the world. “As they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.”  Now He goes to heaven, returning to the Father, as He has said, to enter into glory.  And as He has asked, we should be joyful, we should “shout to God with cries of gladness.  For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome, is the great King over all the earth,” and now Jesus, our Savior and our brother, is with Him, and so brings us to Him.  His glory becomes our own, and so His now assuming His throne in heaven should cause us to “sing hymns of praise” to Him who now “reigns over the nations.” And from His place seated “at the right hand of God” “upon His holy throne,” the Lord keeps “the promise of the Father about which [we] have heard [Him] speak.”  For “in a few days [we] will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”; Pentecost will be here, and Jesus’ words to His disciples as He prepares to ascend will be our own: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  It is from this Holy Spirit that the Church takes its strength, through whom we are all made one in “faith and knowledge of the Son of God,” and by whom we attain to “the full stature of Christ.”  He it is who inspires all, and He could not come except that our high priest has entered the sanctuary of heaven – opening for us the way to enter there – and from there delivered unto us the grace which through Him comes. And what does this inspiration, this absolute strength we take in the Spirit call us to do but to heed the Lord’s words and “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” knowing as He has said, “I am with you always, until the end of the age”?  And so, apostles and prophets and evangelists and all His children go forth empowered by His Spirit that “hearts [may] be enlightened,” that all might know “the hope that belongs to His call… the riches of glory in His inheritance… and what is the surpassing greatness of His power” – that all might believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven, “far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.”  All things are “beneath His feet,” for “King of all the earth is God,” and Jesus is God.  But though the Son has joined the Father, remember He is with us always, suffering with us still and bringing us to His side by the power of His Spirit.  Wait now on His Word. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "There Is No End to Life" (1st half) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, may the cloud which took Jesus from our sight soon bring Him back to us and keep Him with us forever. YHWH, your Son mounts His throne of glory, He ascends to you in Heaven, drawing us up into your presence and giving us the power to proclaim your glory and baptize all in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – with you, O God, let us be made one! And let us go, O LORD, even to the ends of the earth, your Son working through us by the power of the Spirit upon us.  As we wait now for your promise to fall upon us and be fulfilled in us, let us with faith set our hearts on your surpassing presence.  From the bonds of this earth let us be freed, that by the power of the Spirit we might indeed join Jesus at your right hand.  O let thy kingdom come! Soon your Son shall return to us and we will sing in unending joy.  But even now we are the Body of Christ, united with Him in Heaven.  O LORD, send your Spirit forth that we might find the strength to call all souls unto your glory.…

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May 8 - Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter

2013-05-07
Length: 4s

(Acts 17:15,22-18:1;   Ps.148:1-2,11-14,Is.6:3;   Jn.16:12-15)   “It is He ‘who gives’ to all life and ‘breath’ and everything else.”   “His majesty is above earth and heaven,” brothers and sisters.  And so our psalmist today encourages all in the heavens and all on earth to “praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted.”  “From one stock He made every nation of mankind to dwell on the face of the earth,” and it is “in Him we live and move and have our being.”  And so should we, “His faithful ones,” not offer Him praise? Brothers, be not ignorant as the men of Athens who thought “the God who made the world and ‘all that is in it,’ the Lord of heaven and earth,” as “something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of man’s genius and his art.”  Could man with all his intelligence make the sun or wind?  Then how can it be that he might contrive the Creator of these?  Such groping in darkness for the God who is “not really far from any of us” shall not be tolerated forever.  For the time has come to turn on the lamp which lights the room and let all shadows flee.  He who is going to “judge the world with justice” is among us now; it is He whom God “has endorsed in the sight of all by raising Him from the dead.”  And it is faith in Him to which we must come. Jesus promises the disciples that “the Spirit of truth… will guide [them] to all truth.”  It is He who “will not speak on His own, but will speak only what He hears.”  He receives from Jesus, who possesses “all that the Father has,” all that He announces to us.  And Paul is His mouthpiece today, speaking not what he has invented by his erudite learning and fanciful imagining, but rather proclaiming the truth he hears the Spirit inspiring in his soul and burning in his heart. We shall not get to heaven on stairs we make with our soiled hands; they cannot but crumble under the pressure of time and the weight of truth.  Only by obedience to the Spirit who inspires all, shall all find the presence of the “God Unknown” to hearts of stone and minds as fleeting as a wisp of smoke.  “He calls on all men everywhere to reform their lives,” for their scoffing at truth shall bring them alone to a dark room, where there shall be no breath of the Spirit.  But we who know all wisdom comes from God, living in its light are made His children. ******* O LORD, may we know your glory in the Word announced to us by the Spirit Jesus sends. YHWH, the light of wisdom you alone shine by the Spirit of Truth come through your Son.  You are exalted above earth and Heaven, and we cannot approach you by our minds or the work of our hands – only by faith will we come to know your surpassing glory. O LORD, let your glory be announced to all that all might praise you in whom we live and move and have our being, that all might thus come to know themselves by realizing we are your offspring.  If we do not see you, how blind we remain to everything, hopelessly groping in the dark for truth and light.  We cannot make truth, we cannot make you, for it is you who have made us.  May we heed your call to reform our lives, dear LORD, that we might come to understanding, that guided by the Spirit we might come to faith in you and praise your Name forever with all your children in the heavenly kingdom.…

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May 7 - Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter

2013-05-06
Length: 5s

(Acts 16:22-34;   Ps.138:1-3,7-8;   Jn.16:5-11)  “Immediately all the doors flew open and everyone’s chains were pulled loose.” “Your right hand saves me,” David sings unto the Lord this day in our psalm.  Mighty indeed is His power, and so we should “worship at [His] holy temple, and give thanks to [His] name,” for He has “built up strength within [us]”; by the power of the Holy Spirit He has set us free from our prisons, from the chains of sin. “When I called you, you answered me,” David sings.  And how the Lord answers Paul and Silas as they call unto Him in song of their own.  “After receiving many lashes they were thrown into prison, and the jailer… put them in maximum security, going so far as to chain their feet to a stake.”  Yet what do we find these apostles doing in the deep of the night? – “praying and singing hymns to God as their fellow prisoners listened.”  And God hears their prayers; they bring “a severe earthquake [which] suddenly shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations” and setting all those inside free of their chains. Can we have a clearer sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power than this?  Well, yes, because as wondrous as earthquakes are, the truest sign of the Spirit came this night when the jailer “and his whole household were baptized.”  The earthquake and the flying open of prison doors may have opened his heart to hearing the word of God, but his wholehearted acceptance of “his newfound faith in God” is the Spirit’s great work.  For what is of greater importance, the stone and steel of a prison cell shaken and cast to the ground, or the salvation of the eternal soul of man? The Lord Jesus has promised to send the Spirit as Advocate to plead our cause and prove us right about our faith in the One who saves from sin.  In justice and in truth He goes to the Father, and from His exalted throne He sends forth the Paraclete to prove His presence with us still; and by the grace and power of the Holy Trinity at work in our midst, “the prince of this world has been condemned” and the prison he built to contain us destroyed. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart.”  Let us sing to Him, brothers and sisters.  Let us join with David and Silas and Paul, and all the redeemed of the Lord, and “joyfully celebrate with [our] whole family,” with all the children of our God, our everlasting faith in the Father, Son, and Spirit.  From prison we have been released; with the Savior we are risen.  His Spirit is upon us now. ******* O LORD, may we believe in your Son and so be saved from our sin, entering your House with songs of praise. YHWH, you have saved us from certain death, death at our own hands because of our sins.  To our very foundation you have shaken us and served to make us new men.  May all be baptized in your Name! Send your Spirit forth, O LORD, to shake this place in which we dwell, that we might be released from our prisons, from dwelling in our self-made hell.  The chains of this world are easily broken by your power come from above; let us turn quickly from our sin and acknowledge your power and might, and we shall be saved – we and all our household. No fear let us have of the world’s efforts to chain your Word, O God.  Despite all, let us sing your praise, knowing the devil has been condemned, and the Spirit will never die in us.  And whatever darkness may surround us this day shall soon pass, and with your angels we shall sing your praise in your eternal kingdom.…

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May 6 - Monday of the 6th Week of Easter

2013-05-05
Length: 4s

(Acts 16:11-15;   Ps.149:1-6,9;   Jn.15:26-16:4)   “You must bear witness.”   The Spirit will come and call to your hearts to speak of the name of Jesus and His salvation.  As He prompts you, you must speak the truth in love, you must go as He calls – you must bear witness.  And sometimes the word you speak, and you yourself, will be accepted with the faith and great hospitality as known in Lydia (who is said to be “one who listened,” for “the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying,” and who generously invited Paul and his companions, foreigners traveling to distant lands, to “come and stay at [her] house”); and other times those who “know neither the Father nor [the Son]” will “expel you from synagogues,” will cast you violently from their midst, and “anyone who puts you to death will claim to be serving God!”  It does not matter.  The Word must go forth, in season and out. How few true witnesses there seem to be today, for in the time and place in which I stand certainly the Word of God is out of season.  False witnesses with strange gospels abound, but the tongue of the apostles is tied, and what is spoken seems to land upon deaf ears.  Those who have no conception of the Holy Spirit and so know neither Father nor Son are emboldened to speak as messengers of Jesus, though the Jesus they know is not the Christ and what they speak but serves to lead the sheep astray.  And where is His Church?  Will no one stand to speak of His love? Today instead of “sing[ing] for joy upon [our] couches… the high praises of God… in our throats,” the houses in which we dwell seem to swallow our souls, and we are left mute in the face of destruction.  And it is hard to say that our faith is shaken, for who can find any faith at all?  Neither persecution nor glad acceptance do we find, for we speak no word to challenge the world. Let us pray to the Lord, brothers and sisters, that He will send laborers forth, that even in this time of lethargy upon His Church, new life is beginning to grow.  For until the end of time the Word must go forth; before then it shall not have reached its goal.  However well the devil may fool us into complacency, we must know that it is always time to preach the Word, for ever will hearts be seeking Him – and ever hands seek to destroy Him.  “The Lord loves His people, and He adorns the lowly with victory.”  This call to the humble must be heard by all. ******* O LORD, let us stand strong in doing your will, praising your Name, come what may.  YHWH, help us to go forth in the Name of your Son, to speak His Word to the world, to bear witness to truth as He has.  For though we be persecuted and even killed for serving you, there will be those who will listen and be saved. Ready our hearts for what may come, O LORD, that we shall not fear in the hour of darkness, on the day the power of the evil one asserts itself.  Help us to realize his power is as nothing and those who do his bidding shall pass like the fading grass.  Only those who hear and heed your voice will stand on the last Day. The faithful will rejoice in you, LORD, and sing a new song to your glory come into our midst by the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit.  We shall praise you forever in your eternal House.  Even now in prayer we come to dwell with you.…

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May 5 - Sunday of the 6th Week of Easter, Year C

2013-05-03
Length: 6s

(Acts 15:1-2,22-29;   Ps.67:2-6,8;   Rv.21:10-14,22-23;   Jn.14:23-29)  “The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” And so is “the holy city Jerusalem” protected; and so are its boundaries defined.  And so we come to the apostles to find the true teaching of Christ. When “there arose no little dissension and debate” between Paul and Barnabas and certain brothers from Judea who were insisting the Gentile converts must be “circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,” what was the recourse needed to settle this most crucial of questions – the first great question of the Church?  “It was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders.”  There the debate would be settled.  There authority is found – in the apostles and those they appoint.  There is nowhere else on earth any could turn to secure the truth, to find genuine guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has promised “will teach [the disciples] everything,” who will be with the Church as its Advocate till the end of time.  And so the apostles and elders speak in truth when they write to the waiting souls of the Gentiles: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden,” for indeed they speak of the Holy Spirit and for and by the Holy Spirit – indeed they speak the truth. Brothers and sisters, is not the reason the Church is fractured into hundreds if not thousands or even millions of pieces (each soul following his own way without regard for the teaching of the Church), is not the reason some advocate for abortion, or euthanasia, or female or homosexual priests, or a thousand other indiscretions and blasphemies – is not the cause of the great turmoil within the walls of the temple as well as, inevitably, outside it in the world… is it not fundamentally a lack of obedience to the teachings of Christ, to the teachings of His apostles?  And though it is so that upon all His baptized is placed the seal of the Spirit, and so all may know the truth, yet it is just as so that without the confirmation of the apostles – as even Paul realized – one cannot be sure of his thoughts, and certainly has no right to teach!  Surely the Jews thought they were right in insisting the Gentiles be circumcised.  Let none be presumptuous of the Spirit’s word. In the heavenly city there is “no temple,” there is “no need of sun or moon” – “the glory of God [gives] it light, and its lamp [is] the Lamb.”  But we do not dwell in the fullness of Jerusalem here; this I can assure you.  On earth we have unquestionable need for a Church.  And that Church is now founded in Rome with the Pope. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Solid Rock Unshakable Foundation" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let the light and peace of your Son be with us this day as we gather in your holy NAME. YHWH, let us enter your Temple, here on earth and in Heaven.  With you and with your Son let us dwell.  Your Church, the New Jerusalem, be our home. O LORD, to your holy City let all peoples come – make your face shine upon all souls.  To your heavenly glory Jesus calls us, and so, let us indeed keep His Word, His commandment of love, and with us you will come to dwell. But how shall we know if we are keeping your commandments except by the authority you place upon the twelve apostles?  How can we be certain we are following the path to the kingdom apart from the declaration of Peter?  If we are not obedient to the ones you send, we shall not be obedient to you, and so will be without the light of the Holy Spirit to guide us.  O let us be one with you as is your Son, as is your Church on earth!  O LORD, let us glory in your presence forever.…

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May 4 - Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

2013-05-03
Length: 4s

(Acts 16:1-10;   Ps.100:1-3,5;   Jn.15:18-21)   “I chose you out of the world.”   What is the world but heartache and sin; from this the Lord would release us. Jesus tells His disciples: “You do not belong to the world,” and yet, as is most evident in the journeys of Paul, to all the world do the apostles go.  The Master tells them, “You [will] find that the world hates you”; even so, they preach to a world which has no respect for the name they proclaim, who “know nothing of Him who sent” them.  The inevitable persecution they do not fear, the death their work brings they do not flee, but face all in complete readiness. Indeed, Paul is our example of the commitment we all must have to doing the Lord’s will in this world.  With great fervor he travels from land to land and, praise God, “through all this, the congregations grew stronger in faith and daily increased in numbers.”  He transmits the Lord’s Gospel message to all waiting ears and perseveres through all trials.  For there are those throughout this earth who will listen to the Word that “the Lord is God; He made us, His we are,” and that Jesus is His Son – and Paul cannot help but strain forward to find these hearts which long to “come before Him with joyful song.”  So great is Paul’s desire to bring the word of the Lord to those who have never heard it before that he must be restrained by the Holy Spirit.  Twice today in our first reading he is prevented from entering and preaching to lands for which it is not time, finally being called in a vision to those who awaited him.  Paul and the apostles’ readiness to do the Lord’s will is related clearly in Luke’s statement, “After the vision, we immediately made efforts to get across to Macedonia, concluding that God had summoned us to proclaim the Good News there.” We must go where we are called and move as we are led by the Spirit of Jesus the Christ.  Into the world He leads us all to bring His light forth.  Though never of the world, we must encourage all the world to “sing joyfully to the Lord,” to “serve the Lord with gladness.”  By our words and by our lives we must show that we are “His people, the flock He tends,” and others will be drawn from the clutches of a world that hates the truth and into the protecting arms of God. ******* O LORD, let your Word go forth to all the world that all might be saved from the world and come to you. YHWH, should we not rejoice that the world hates us, that it persecutes us and the Word we speak, for does this not show that we are of Jesus, that we are one with Him in following in His way?  And is this not the path by which fruit is born, fruit that will last unto Heaven?  Is this not the way souls are saved and come to rejoice in your kingdom? Help us to remember this, LORD, to remember and desire only to do your will, to follow in the way Jesus leads and bring His Word, His Spirit, to the ends of the earth.  Make your apostles as zealous as Paul to bring the Gospel to all who are open to receive salvation, to know the blessing of being your children. May all souls be grafted onto the tree of your Chosen people.  Let your Church increase in faith and numbers, LORD, until the return of your Son.…

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May 3 - Prayer to Sts. Philip and James

2013-05-02
Length: 1s

O holy apostles of the Lord upon whom the Church is established, your words go out to the ends of the earth, bringing the Gospel to all nations. You who were near to Jesus Himself, who were with Him all the time He walked among us… there is no greater witness to the way and the truth and the life of our God, our Savior – please pray for the Church in the world this day, that it shall be led by the Spirit of Truth and we shall all be as brothers of the Lord, living in His love and revealing the Father. As you have performed the works of the Son, so let us join in the work of redemption, that all the earth will come to see that Jesus is in the Father and we are made one in Him.…

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May 3 - Sts. Philip and James

2013-05-02
Length: 4s

(1Cor.15:1-8;   Ps.19:2-5;   Jn.14:6-14)   “The man who has faith in me will do the works I do.”   What is the message the apostles preach “to the ends of the world”?  What is “the glory of God” that “the heavens declare” and “the firmament proclaims”?  It is none other than Jesus’ words to Thomas: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me”; it is His answer to Philip: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  The Father “lives in [Jesus] accomplishing His works,” and Jesus lives in His apostles continuing the great work of God. Here is the Gospel in short, which Paul preaches to the Corinthians in our first reading: “Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures… He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.”  He has appeared to all the apostles who preach His Name, who declare His salvation to all men; and He is known to us this day in His Spirit, in His Church, in His Sacraments and in His Word.  And indeed it is so that knowing Him we know the Father; filled with His Spirit we cannot but proclaim the majesty of the grace at work in Him through His Church.  Standing on the solid foundation the apostles have set, what can shake our faith or keep us from His glorious presence? Brothers and sisters, on days such as this – and indeed on all days – our hearts should burn intensely with the love of the Lord.  Our souls should join with the blessed spirit of these holy apostles and declare aloud the silent Word that “imparts knowledge” to the minds of all.  So should our “voice[s] resound” of the glory of God and the grace He has poured forth in our spirits.  Let the earth be filled with His light!   Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.   Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, you are seen in your Son; let Him be seen in us. YHWH, let us do your works; let us believe in you and bring your Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Let us declare with your holy apostles that your Son has died for our sins, and that He is now risen. Dear LORD, open our eyes to see that Jesus is in you and you are in Him.  Truly He is the way, the truth, and the life – by His presence amongst us, we are saved and drawn into life.  Let us follow in His way and so become one with you and with the Spirit. With confidence may your apostles speak, LORD, that your voice might go out to all the world and all hearts might declare that Jesus is God, and that in Him alone we are redeemed.  O let us all speak for Him as He comes to us this day! Make us His brothers in the faith, dear Father, those who see you and know you and do your will.  Strengthen us today to do your work, and so find glory in your Name.…

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May 2 - Prayer to St. Athanasius

2013-05-01
Length: 1s

O defender of the faith in the divinity of Christ, bulwark of the Church of the One who is true God and true Man, upholder of the way in the face of all persecutions – pray that the shepherds of the Church will today be so staunch in the faith, never afraid to defend the truth from attacks from within and outside her walls. So many souls are led so astray by the teaching of false prophets; pray indeed that the Lord will raise up leaders, prophets of His true teaching, of His narrow way, which leads through the body He assumed, the death He took upon Himself for our sins, to His divine presence in Heaven.…

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May 2 - Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

2013-05-01
Length: 5s

(Acts 15:7-21;   Ps.96:1-3,10;   Jn.15:9-11)   “We are saved by the favor of the Lord Jesus.”   We are told of the Council of Jerusalem, convened to determine if the Gentiles need be subject to circumcision and the Mosaic Law, “After much discussion, Peter took the floor,” and that after he had finished speaking, “the whole assembly fell silent.”  What is there to say after the Rock of the Church has spoken?  And how marvelously his declaration mirrors Jesus’ own simple command to His disciples, “Live on in my love.” I am certain that before he stood to speak in the midst of the din of argument that pervaded this first assembly of God’s people, Peter heard the words of Jesus speaking to his heart: “Simon, son of John, feed my sheep.”  He remembers his call and the Spirit the Lord has placed upon him as keeper of the keys of heaven.  He remembers, too, the vision the Savior of mankind brought to his mind, instructing him not to discriminate in his sharing of the Word of God.  He therefore reminds his brothers that God “reads the hearts of men,” and particularly of how “He showed His approval [of the Gentiles] by granting the Holy Spirit to them,” just as He had done to those gathered in this assembly.  God “made no distinction… but purified their hearts by means of faith also.”  And would they then place undue burden upon what God has wrought by His own hand? Yes, Peter in his pronouncement sings of the “new song” of the Lord and by doing so encourages all to “sing to the Lord; bless His name.”  He hereby “announce[s] His salvation,” that His glory might be told “among the nations; among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.”  Here he demonstrates how the Lord “governs the peoples with equity.”  The righteous judgment that James makes, now shared in harmony by all assembled, is none other than the judgment Peter has proclaimed – which is none other than Jesus’ own word for all to keep the commandment to live in the Father’s love that all our “joy may be complete,” that all may be gathered into the Father’s kingdom. Scripture says of the House the Father builds here on earth, of Jerusalem, His Church: “From its ruins I will rebuild it and set it up again, so that all the rest of mankind and all the nations that bear my name may seek out the Lord.”  What was the house of David now shelters all the nations – the old Jerusalem has become the new City of Peace held in God’s own hand, His Holy Spirit breathing upon its members and giving them life.  By the favor of Christ has this been accomplished; let no man shorten the arm of the Lord. ******* O LORD, may all peoples be saved by the love your Son bears to us. YHWH, it is by faith you have purified our hearts, and it is to love you call us.  It is by the Spirit we are saved and drawn into your holy kingdom. O let the favors of your Son be upon us, dear God!  His love beat in our hearts and course through our veins.  Yes, let us live in His love and so remain in your joy forever. Your commandments are not burdensome, O LORD, but lead only to freedom, absolute freedom in the light of your presence.  Help us not to take unnecessary burdens upon our shoulders, burdens that would keep us from you and your love.  Let us never quench your Spirit at work in our lives. Work your wonders in our midst, dear LORD, and may we cooperate fully with them, that forever we might sing your praise and bless your holy Name with all our brothers and sisters.  In faith may all souls seek your face, and so find it by your grace.…

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May 1 - Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker

2013-04-30
Length: 1s

O humble laborer in God’s House who served to build up His Temple by the sweat of your brow and your careful concern to follow His will – pray that we shall embody the same obedience to the Word of God and His call to our souls, that we too will consecrate ourselves and our daily labor to service of the Lord and the upbuilding of His Church, and that we, too, might be built into the House wherein He makes His eternal dwelling. We are but poor creatures, simple and weak; pray the Lord our God and His Son for whom you cared will bless us with your dignity, O righteous man of God.…

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May 1 - Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter

2013-04-30
Length: 5s

(Acts 15:1-6;   Ps.122:1-5;   Jn.15:1-8)   “I am the vine, you are the branches.”   And within Him we must remain; nurtured by the Church He has planted we must always be.  We must have His blood flowing in our veins and His Word inspiring our souls.  There can be no separation from Him and from His teaching if we are to bear fruit abundantly, as is the Father’s desire. Paul and Barnabas bear fruit abundantly.  As “the church saw them off… they made their way through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling everyone about the conversion of the Gentiles as they went.”  And to each branch of the vine they went, “their story caused great joy among the brothers.”  Here is the vine’s growth evident, the blood of the Lord coursing through its veins.  “When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by that church,” too, and there they “reported all that God had helped them accomplish” to the apostles.  Why have they come here to Jerusalem?  Because “in it are set up judgment seats.”  As great as their work had been, yet they knew the necessity to be obedient to the structure of the vine the Lord tends by His hand.  And so when a controversial question arises, Paul and Barnabas “go up to see the apostles and elders in Jerusalem” to find answer. Why Jerusalem?  Because the Church, the New Jerusalem, is “built as a city with compact unity,” and still at this time the Rock, Peter, and the foundation stones, the twelve apostles, reside in this place.  If one separates oneself from the roots of this vine, one effectively separates oneself from Jesus and becomes “like a withered, rejected branch, picked up to be thrown in the fire and burnt.”  “No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit apart from me,” Jesus instructs His disciples.  And Paul and Barnabas know the order that must be preserved if the vine is to remain whole, if their work is to be truly fruitful.  So here as to the question of circumcision, the first major controversy in the early Church, “the elders accordingly convened to look into the matter.” “If you live in me, and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will – it will be done for you.”  The Lord’s promise is great.  But to receive such grace we must keep our feet firmly planted within the gates of the New Jerusalem, in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church He has founded.  We should rejoice to “go up to the house of the Lord,” for there we shall find Jesus, there we shall find His vine spreading faithfully to the ends of the earth – in it we shall always be nourished by truth. ******* O LORD, may your Church bear much fruit in you and in your Son; with you let us be one. YHWH, to your House let us come; in your City let us dwell – in the New Jerusalem let us make our home and we shall ever remain united to your Son and bear fruit in His Name.  Apart from Him we can do nothing, and if we separate ourselves from the Church He founded, we separate ourselves from Him… and His blood does not course through our veins. O LORD, let us display the obedience of Paul and Barnabas to the rightful authority you set up to stand in the stead of your Son.  If we listen to these, we listen to Him, and thus your will is done.  If we take matters into our own hands, what hope have we of salvation, for what does man make but destruction?  Let us not be unfruitful branches fit for the fire but be pruned of all uncleanness of heart by the Word your Son speaks through the apostles and elders of holy Church.  Only in this way will we be one with one another and with you.…

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April 30 - Prayer to St. Pius V

2013-04-29
Length: 1s

O Shepherd of the Church who led her through a difficult time, seeing to her reform in faith and morals, in teaching and prayer, that the foundation once established by the Lord Jesus Christ might be confirmed and strengthened, kept from decay – pray this day, too, Mother Church will be blessed by the nourishing food of the Spirit, that she might be fed at the Lord’s table and all might be encouraged to enter the gates of Heaven she guards and opens to all souls in communion with the Savior and His way… May Peter lead us unto His Day.…

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April 30 - Tuesday of the 5th Week of Easter

2013-04-29
Length: 6s

(Acts 14:19-28;   Ps.145:10-13,21;   Jn.14:27-31)   “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.”   “With this instruction” Paul and Barnabas “gave their disciples reassurances, and encouraged them to persevere in the faith.”  Their apostolic journey has been a witness that the road to the Lord is wrought with difficulties, but that it bears great fruit.  These apostles are pursued from towns in which they have preached by those who would destroy them and their word.  Paul is stoned, seemingly unto death.  But their trials do not dissuade these apostles from retracing their steps through the very towns from which they have been ejected and installing elders, priests, in each one, “commend[ing] them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.”  And so they arrived again at the place “where they had first been commended to the favor of God for the task they had now completed.”  Now they are able to relate in joy “all that God had helped them accomplish, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles,” perhaps the greatest feat of the growing Church, the Body of Christ on earth. Of course, Jesus’ words to His disciples are the same as Paul’s: “‘Peace’ is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you,” Jesus says, and adds, “I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.”  For the peace Jesus gives is deeper and abides eternally; it remains through any trial of the world for it is not dependent on the consolations that come from earthly things.  And so He can assure them, “Do not be distressed or fearful.”  He can freely invite them into the peace He possesses and to which He returns, as He retraces His steps back to the Father from whom He has come, whence He had first been commended to the favor of God for His mission.  He knows they will suffer, even as He is about to suffer death at the hands of “the Prince of this world.”  But He knows the devil’s power “has no hold” on Him, and would have us know Satan has no power over us either.  For we are with Jesus; we are with the Father in heaven.  And though we be as Paul in his persecutions, though we be stoned and “dragged… out of town” and left for dead, the Lord’s angels will surround us as Paul’s disciples surrounded him – as they come to Jesus in the tomb – and like Paul, and like our Lord, “before long” we shall get up and return to our call; and ultimately we shall rise from the dead to eternal life with Jesus, coming to the home He now prepares. “I go away for a while and I come back to you,” Jesus assures His disciples, and asks them to be joyful that He returns to the greatness of the Father, whose “dominion endures through all generations.”  And so, brothers and sisters, may our “mouth[s] speak the praise of the Lord” all our days; “may all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.”  Let us do as He commands and “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom and speak of [His] might,” and that power will enable us to endure all things, and we shall be brought at last into His reign. ******* O Lord, though it mean we must die, let us be obedient to your command, that we might enter your reign. YHWH, let us discourse of the glory of your kingdom; let us carry your Word to the ends of the earth.  Let us not fear the trials that must come to all who enter your reign but hold the peace Jesus offers ever in our hearts.  Let us, too, come to you in Heaven. Though we be stoned and left for dead, we shall rise up again, for you, O LORD, are with your disciples, surrounding them with your grace and protection.  As Paul returned even to the towns from which he had been cast out, so let us be ready to enter every battle this world presents, knowing the power you give us is greater than any of this earth, for it overcomes even the Prince of darkness. Let us give you thanks, O LORD, in all the works we do and so make known to all men your glory.…

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April 29 - Prayer to St. Catherine of Siena

2013-04-28
Length: 1s

O wise and holy virgin whose love for God was matched by a great love for the Church and a great desire to see her pure and holy as He… peace you brought to peoples and to Mother Church, for peace you held within your blessed soul, held as you were in the hand of God – pray the light of the Lord will be shed upon the Church and all souls this day, and that reconciliation shall come and we stand as one in that surpassing light and peace of the Trinity. May holiness be all men’s desire, to live in accord with the will of God.…

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April 29 - Monday of the 5th Week of Easter

2013-04-28
Length: 4s

(Acts 14:5-18;   Ps.115:1-4,15-16;   Jn.14:21-26)   “May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”   “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him.”  Thus are we blessed, by keeping the word of the Lord.  Thus we know His love, for thus we accept the love He offers by His instruction and by His presence. It is this blessing of “the living God, ‘the one who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them’” that Paul and Barnabas would bring to the hearts of the Gentiles to whom they preach.  It is in the name of Jesus, Paul brings healing to the lame man who “used to sit crippled, never having walked in his life.”  Indeed, the same healing he would bring to all the pagans before him who also have been crippled all their lives by the folly of worshiping “idols [that] are silver and gold, the handiwork of men” and the products of human imagination.  Never have they walked in the true light of the Lord.  In fact, their limitations are most evident in their desire to sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul themselves, as Zeus and Hermes; “even the priest of the temple of Zeus… wished to offer sacrifice to them,” and Barnabas and Paul must shout at them “frantically”: “We are bringing you the Good News that will convert you from just such follies as these”! “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name give glory” is our psalmist’s refrain today, and the same is exclaimed by Barnabas and Paul: “We are only men, human like you.”  Worship the living God! is their exhortation.  And Jesus Himself speaks in the same humility and with the same deference to the Father: “The word you hear is not mine, it comes from the Father who sent me.”  All comes from the Father and must return to Him; and so we are all encouraged to make our home with Him alone. “Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does.”  He wills to love all, to bless all, to make His home with all.  To find our homes with Him, to know the blessed love the living God has for all His creatures, we must listen to the instruction of His Son, to the Holy Spirit the Father now sends in His name, and to the ones who are sent to preach the truth of the living God.  May the light of His face shine upon you. ******* O LORD, let us keep your commands and so live in your surpassing love. YHWH, you come to all who love your Son and keep the Word He imparts to us.  It is this Word that brings us love, and all who cherish love, cherish it, and so find your presence.  May you be revealed to all souls in your only Son. Help all wayward people to turn from vain worship to know you, O living and true God.  May all your creatures give you due praise, turning resolutely from the work of their hands.  Glory abides with you alone; may we find that glory by obedience to your call to love. Let us dwell with you, O LORD; come, we pray, to dwell in us.  Help us indeed to keep your commands, which are but life for our souls.  Your Spirit be with us this day to lead us to all truth in your Son’s Name, that we might do your will in strength, proclaiming the Good News of salvation to all men.  O let us rise from the dust to live in your Heaven!…

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April 28 - Prayer to St. Louis Mary de Montfort

2013-04-27
Length: 1s

O apostle of Mary and so of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Lord you drew souls through devotion to His Mother. How perfectly you have spoken of this grace upon the Virgin and the role she plays in the salvation of the world – pray this day that her sweet protection and most blessed intercession will be with all the children who turn in faith to the one chosen by the Father to be Mother of His Son. May this Spouse of the Spirit lead us into God’s presence where with you and all the heavenly saints we shall find ourselves one with the Most Holy Trinity and sing forever the praises of our Lord and God.…

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April 28 - Prayer to St. Peter Chanel

2013-04-27
Length: 1s

O great missionary, you served to convert a land and a people that had never heard of our blessed Savior, and though killed for your work, you loved those to whom you were sent and toiled tirelessly for their salvation – pray the same kind heart you showed we shall also know in serving souls placed into our care; and pray the name of our Lord shall go forth in freedom to the very ends of the earth this day. What are our lives compared with the service of Christ and the salvation of souls in faith in His name? Let us live with your same zeal the love that is Jesus and His Cross.…

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April 28 - Sunday of the 5th Week of Easter, Year C

2013-04-26
Length: 5s

(Acts 14:21-27;   Ps.145:1,8-13;   Rv.21:1-5a;   Jn.13:31-33a,34-35) “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.” This is the promise on which we set our hearts, this vision of John.  This is the word which encourages us to look forward to the coming of our God in the fullness of His presence amongst us.  How we long to be His bride in heaven! John indeed sees the “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” His holy bride.  And his ears hear the promise that “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.”  No more shall there be “death or mourning,” no more “wailing or pain” – these things which beset us here shall all pass away.  On this glory we must set our sights, for as long as we toil upon this earth there will be tests and trials that can only be overcome with this vision of God. In our first reading we hear that Paul and Barnabas have accomplished the rounds of their mission journey and “made a considerable number of disciples.”  We witness how God “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” and so to the world at large.  All men of all times are now called into the kingdom of God.  And here is cause for great rejoicing.  Yet the message of these apostles, borne out by their own experience, is that we must “undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” for though the Spirit of the Lord fall on Christ’s disciples, still these disciples are in this world, where the coming of the kingdom has yet to be fulfilled, and weeping at the darkness remains part of our condition. In this world there shall be persecution, no doubt.  Though God’s “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and [His] dominion endures through all generations,” though Jesus has come and lived and died among us and sent His Spirit for rebirth, though indeed His presence is very much in our midst – yet the evil one enters in; yet he lurks in hiding.  And we must be prepared to conquer him, and even to find our salvation by enduring the suffering he devises. In Jesus we see well the way in which God is with us here and how we come to Him in heaven.  The Lord says as His hour of death approaches: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”  Even as Judas leaves to fetch the instruments of His death, Jesus sees His glory come.  In His crucifixion He shall destroy the devil and come completely to the Father – and even on the cross, God is with Him. Here we must endure, brothers and sisters, knowing God is with us; and soon we shall come to the fullness of His presence, to “the glorious splendor of [His] kingdom.”  Soon the Lord will “make all things new,” as new as our spirits have already become. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "In Your Eyes" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us see your kingdom descend into our midst through the love of your only Son. YHWH, let the glorious splendor of your kingdom be upon us; let us dwell in the New Jerusalem with Jesus your Son and with all His disciples.  From the ends of the earth gather your Church into your holy presence, that forever we might sing your praise. Though we must endure many hardships to enter your kingdom, it matters little to those who know the glory that comes through the Cross; in fact, it is cause for us to rejoice.  For so long as the Cross is with us on this dark earth, O LORD, Jesus is with us bringing His comfort and peace – and so we know the mourning and weeping will soon pass away… so we see how He makes all things new. O let us discourse of the glory of your reign!  Let us set our hearts on serving your will by bringing others into your gates.  Help us, O LORD, to love one another even as your Son.…

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April 27 - Saturday of the 4th Week of Easter

2013-04-26
Length: 6s

(Acts 13:44-52;   Ps.98:1-4;   Jn.14:7-14)   “I have made you a light to the nations, a means of salvation to the ends of the earth.”   In the preaching of Paul today is fulfilled the words of our psalm, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.”  Rejected by the Jews to whom he comes, he “now turn[s] to the Gentiles,” and – fulfilling the words of our psalm which read, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands, break into song; sing praise” – our first reading tells us “the Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and responded to the word of the Lord with praise.”  Thus does the light of the Lord’s salvation go out to the ends of the earth. And our gospel makes clear just how salvation comes to all.  First Jesus declares with wonderful clarity the oneness of the Son and the Father.  When asked by Philip, “Show us the Father,” Jesus responds, “After I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me?”  Notice that Philip’s request refers to the Father but Jesus’ response refers to the Son, as if to ask of one is to ask of the other.  The Lord then states the truth of His oneness with the living God in plain terms: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  There is no separation here, and all that Jesus does is done by the Father, so the living Lord of the universe is at work in absolute fashion through the Son’s words and works.  In Him the Father’s will of love, His desire to save His children from sin and death, is accomplished. But more than this is made evident of the working of salvation, for the Word must reach to the ends of the earth.  How is this accomplished?  The Lord again declares with absolute clarity the oneness now of Himself and His disciples.  In order “to glorify the Father in the Son,” He makes them the solemn promise, “The man who has faith in me will do the works I do.”  And the oneness of Jesus and His disciples is made more poignant in His definitive statement: “Anything you ask me in my name I will do.”  Who does these works of the Lord?  Who brings His salvation forth?  We do the works, do we not?  We are those still on this earth with flesh and bone and voices.  Yet He says “I will do” them to show how He works through us in all we do, to reveal our oneness with Him and the Father. Our first reading tells us, “Almost the entire city gathered to hear the word of God” when Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch in Pisidia.  In this simple line is shown both that the salvation of the Lord is going forth to all, and that it is occurring through His disciples.  For it is indeed “the word of God” that Paul the apostle speaks and not his own, and this Word is irresistible in its truth and love to all hearts open to hear the voice of Him who speaks, for this Word brings only joy. ******* O LORD, looking upon your Son we see you; when others look at us may they see Jesus. YHWH, you live in your Son, accomplishing your works, and He in His turn works through us.  What grace and blessing you grant all your disciples, that we might share in your very life and work!  Alleluia! And this grace and blessing extends to all throughout the earth; all may know the salvation wrought in men by the only Son.  And so, what can we do but sing to you in joy, for your light is with us even in the persecution your Word brings. O let us be one with you, dear God, even as Jesus is one with you.  To your side let us, too, come; this is your will now that you have revealed yourself to us in your Son.  May we say in truth, He is in us and so we in you.  No separation let us know from your surpassing glory. I pray, O LORD, even the words on this page be spoken not of myself but by you, that your work be accomplished in this poor servant.…

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April 26 - Friday of the 4th Week of Easter

2013-04-25
Length: 5s

(Acts 13:26-33;   Ps.2:6-11;   Jn.14:1-6)   “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”   This same verse appearing in both our first reading and our psalm is spoken also by Jesus in our gospel when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” for such is the Son begotten of the Father. How comforting are Jesus’ words in our gospel, and how enlightening Paul’s speech.  The disciples’ hearts are troubled at the Lord’s speaking of His imminent departure; that He must die begins to sink in to them.  But the only Son tells them, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places,” and, “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you.”  Not only this, He also promises, “I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be.”  The words come like a river of peace, like a wind of love breathing upon them, and upon us.  And the same message is spoken by Paul to “the children of the family of Abraham and [all] others who reverence our God.”  His is “this message of salvation,” that though the rulers condemned Him to death and “laid Him in a tomb,” “yet God raised [Jesus] from the dead.”  And now His witnesses, those to whom He appeared thereafter, declare the Good News of His resurrection, and our own.  “The words of the prophets which we read sabbath after sabbath” and “what God promised our fathers He has fulfilled for us, their children, in raising up Jesus.”  This is the word Paul brings to the waiting ears of his Jewish brothers, and which should be heard by us all. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” brothers and sisters.  The Lord is near and is calling us to His home.  Even as we speak He is preparing a place for us.  The death that you experience day to day is passing away, and all that will be known is the truth, the life of God the Father.  The Lord declares, “I myself have set up my king on Zion, my holy mountain,” and Jesus is that King for all ages and all peoples.  With His truth He shatters kings, and so death itself, “like an earthen dish”; He takes “the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for [His] possession.”  He has died, but He is risen, and now all must “serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before Him.”  There is no breaking in to the place He prepares for us to dwell. The devil has been defeated by the Son begotten of the Father; his house has come crumbling down.  We need but follow the way Jesus is to find our home in the New Jerusalem.  Death no longer holds dominion, for the Son is now come. ******* O LORD, you have begotten Jesus and raised Him from the grave we have made that we might be saved, that we might dwell with you forever – Alleluia! YHWH, may we come to you through Jesus your Son; may we follow in His way, for His way is truth and leads to life, and leads to you.  O may we be resurrected from the dead with Him that we might come to new life with you who are Life itself. Let us not be troubled, LORD, by the death Jesus had to die, and the death we too must know.  What is this world and the things of this world in comparison with you?  What can this world do to us if we have Jesus as our guide?  For He shatters the powers of evil like an earthen dish and raises all the faithful from the tomb.  Let us come to the dwelling He prepares for us in your heavenly kingdom. Though He has died, He has been raised, and we shall be raised with Him, all according to your will, Father God.  And on Zion we shall find our home with your eternal King.…

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April 25 - Prayer to St. Mark

2013-04-24
Length: 1s

O proclaimer of the Word of God, we know of our Lord who suffered and died that we might rise with Him on the third day because the Spirit inspired you to tell us of this Good News. Faithful you were to the Lord and to His blessed apostles, and so became an apostle yourself, carrying the Gospel to men of every nation – pray that the Word which you have served to impart to us may be remembered and cherished in the hearts of all believers, and that we, too, shall work, inspired by the Spirit, to build up the Body of Christ, making it ready for His return to dwell with us forever.…

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April 25 - St. Mark

2013-04-24
Length: 5s

(1Pt.5:5-14;   Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17;   Mk.16:15-20)  “Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.” Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.”  For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God.  And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!”  For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.” “The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today.  The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.”  Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God.  “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth.  And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower. And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them.  Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe.  Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him.  “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.”  The verse is true, my friends.  And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name.  The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear.  Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney. Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission.  ******* O LORD, though we suffer for His Name, your Son is with us all the day, and we walk in the light of His countenance. YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ.  May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved.  Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand. There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood.  But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us.  For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time.  May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process. To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness.  Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.…

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April 24 - Prayer to St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

2013-04-23
Length: 1s

O charitable and zealous soul who gave your life that others might know the true and abiding Catholic faith, you who cared for the sick and the dying, those who were ailing in body and diseased in spirit – how shall we learn to sacrifice all as you have done, to stand in the face of opposition and speak the truth though those we would help would devour us instead of listening to the words come from the Savior’s mouth? Penance and prayer are so far from us this day, and who really cares to show others Christ’s way? Pray this ship shall be strengthened by holy souls eager for the salvation of all and confirmed in the truth and love of the Spirit.…

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April 24 - Wednesday of the 4th Week of Easter

2013-04-23
Length: 5s

(Acts 12:24-13:5;   Ps.67:2-6,8;   Jn.12:44-50)   “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for me, to do the work for which I have called them.”   These words came to the Church at Antioch “while they were engaged in the liturgy of the Lord and fasting”; spoken by the Holy Spirit, they show how intimately the Church and her apostles are connected to the Lord Jesus and His Father. In John’s gospel, Jesus proclaims, “The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to speak.”  Jesus is sent by the Father.  He is the image of the Father: “Whoever looks on me is seeing Him who sent me.”  In the same way, Barnabas and Saul are “sent forth by the Holy Spirit” through the ministry of the Church, who “imposed hands on them and sent them off” to proclaim the word of God.  Jesus is sent by the Father.  Jesus speaks in the Holy Spirit the words of everlasting life.  Hearing these words His children, His Church, go forth to the ends of the earth.  There is absolute unity in the Church and all its members, as long as we are as obedient as Jesus, our Head, who declares, “Whatever I say is spoken just as He instructed”; as long as we are as faithful to the Spirit’s prompting as Jesus is to the Father’s will, we shall reflect His glory as He reflects the Father. And what is the glory of the Son of God but to bring light to this dark world: “I have come to the world as its light, to keep anyone who believes in me from remaining in the dark.”  The words He speaks, the instruction He offers and the sacrifice He makes, indeed bring spirit and life to those who listen and obey.  He is true when He says He has not come to condemn but to save, for the world is already condemned by its sin and His words would bring it to life.  And so, if we reject His words, we reject the lifeline He provides, and what hope can there be for us?  If instead of asking that “He let His face shine upon us” and celebrating in joy the salvation that comes “among all nations” – if we do not seek the holy light of God, where else shall we find eternal life?  “His commandment means eternal life”; all other words lead to destruction.  We must follow the Lord and His way. Brothers and sisters, it should be obvious to us that we are called even as Barnabas and Saul and the first Christians in the city of Antioch.  The Spirit of God remains upon the Church, and He would send us forth in Jesus’ name to do the work and will of the Father.  Do not reject His call upon your soul; put faith in Jesus and in Him who sent Him, and the Spirit will lead you forth. ******* O LORD, you speak through your Son and call His apostles to proclaim your Word to the ends of the earth – Alleluia! YHWH, send us forth in the Holy Spirit; in the Name of your Son let us preach to the nations.  Let us be a reflection of Him as He is the pure reflection of you.  He brings your light to us by His presence among us – may we be His presence in this world that your light might shine unto all. In your Son we see you, O LORD.  Though you are hidden from all human eyes, Jesus gives us new vision.  He indeed is Light itself and looking upon Him we see anew: our minds are illumined to look upon you by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Alleluia! For this great gift let us praise you, LORD.  By this great blessing to us you are made known.  Help us to declare to all what you reveal to us, to make you known even to the ends of the world.  Your salvation come to all nations. By faith in your Son we are saved and brought into your presence.  Your Spirit be with us even this day to accomplish your mission.…

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Share: April 24 - Wednesday of the 4th Week of Easter


April 23 - Prayer to St. Adalbert

2013-04-22
Length: 1s

O persecuted shepherd whose flock repeatedly drove you from their midst but who accomplished great work of conversion among them… to these indignant souls you repeatedly returned, ever spreading Christ’s net further – pray for us, apostle to nations, that in God’s Church today His Word may go boldly forth to convert hearts so hardened by sin, that the acquired ignorance of peoples returning to paganism will be thoroughly dispelled by truth. Forth let all souls journey, humbly proclaiming the Gospel till all have heard and understood the glory to which they are called by our Savior.  …

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April 23 - Prayer to St. George

2013-04-22
Length: 1s

O courageous soldier in the army of our Lord, you gave up the ranks of this passing world for the kingdom wrought by Jesus Christ, dying willingly for such a just cause and showing us the path we must tread to be found worthy to stand with our God – pray that we may be strengthened in the battle of earthly life, that our weak limbs may not be disjointed, that we might not tremble in fear at the threats of the mighty but take our refuge in the Almighty and fight for Him who fights for us until we are wrapped in His arms, until we cling to His breast.…

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April 23 - Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter

2013-04-22
Length: 6s

(Acts 11:19-26;   Ps.87:1-7,117:1;   Jn.10:22-30)   “Of Zion they shall say: ‘One and all were born in her.’”   “I tell of Egypt and Babylon among those that know the Lord; of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia,” sings our psalmist today.  Yes, “when the peoples are enrolled” in the kingdom of heaven, when it is noted: “This man was born there,” it shall not be to the soil of Jerusalem to which the angels refer, but to birth in the spirit of the place, in the Holy Spirit Himself, who leads all into the New Jerusalem.  For all nations are called, and it matters no more the land of your origin. This impotence of place and importance of the Spirit is made clear in Jesus’ words to “the Jews gathered around Him” “in the temple area, in Solomon’s portico.”  To those here in the heart of the city of Jerusalem He says, “You are not my sheep.”  They “refuse to believe” that He is the Messiah and so they prove that they are no sons of Abraham, that they have no faith.  Only those of faith hear the voice of the Shepherd, and only these are admitted into the kingdom.  This He tells them plainly.  For what is He saying when He declares, “The Father and I are one” but that He dwells with the Father in heaven, and not upon this earth.  The earth to which they cling shall pass away, but the kingdom shall last forever. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus says, and how that voice does work among all souls.  (For this let us praise the Lord!)  We are told in our first reading that at first “the community who had been dispersed by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, making the message known to none but Jews.”  Here, even though the Word is spread far, it is kept for those born of the land of Zion.  But then the change occurs, and the truth of the Word, which goes beyond all borders, becomes known, for “some men of Cyprus and Cyrene among them who had come to Antioch began to talk even to the Greeks, announcing the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them.”  The church in Jerusalem, the protector of the faith – whose seat is now in Rome – sends Barnabas to investigate.  He finds “the evidence of God’s favor” and rejoices to realize the Lord’s sheep come from near and far.  Here “in Antioch the disciples were called Christians for the first time.”  Here it becomes clear that there is a new Church being formed, one that finds “eternal life” in following Jesus. “The gates of Zion” “the Lord loves,” and to this holy mountain He brings all, through the Gate that is Jesus.  And “no one shall snatch them out of [His] hand,” for this mountain cannot be shaken, this Temple cannot be torn down.  It is of the life of heaven “all shall sing, in their festive dance” when they proclaim: “My home is within you.”  And this land shall endure forever. ******* O LORD, let us be found in your Hand, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith, living as your Son. YHWH, into your House all faithful souls are called; in your Church all find a home.  We are born into the New Jerusalem by virtue of our Baptism, and so become assimilated to Christ.  And as He dwells with you as your Son, so we become as your holy children, wherever we may come from. Jesus is one with you, dear Father, and we are called to be one with Him.  Though from the Jews He comes, He goes out to all the earth, bringing the light of salvation.  And when by the Spirit we are reborn in Him, when His sacrifice bears fruit in us and we come to eternal life, we become as your City, O God, our names written in Heaven. You establish your Church, O LORD; the New Jerusalem is built up in your Name.  And all who long for truth and love hear the Good News of your risen Son and fly with Him unto your kingdom, where they rejoice all the day.…

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Share: April 23 - Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter


April 22 - Monday of the 4th Week of Easter

2013-04-21
Length: 5s

(Acts 11:1-18;   Ps.41:3,42:2-3,43:3-4;   Jn.10:1-10 or Jn.10:11-18)   “God has granted life-giving repentance even to the Gentiles.”   In his vision Peter sees “an object like a big canvas… lowered down to [him] from the sky by its four corners.”  Upon it he discerns “four-legged creatures of the earth, wild beasts and reptiles, and birds of the sky.”  Like Noah’s ark it seems to contain all the animals upon it.  But these animals he sees are not for the good Jew to eat: they are unclean.  And so Peter protests when instructed to “slaughter, then eat.”  But he is assured (and three times), “What God has purified you are not to call unclean,” even as “the canvas with everything in it was drawn up again into the sky.” What is this shepherd to do – he who has been told by the Lord, “Feed my sheep”?  When the uncircumcised come to him seeking salvation, how can he turn away?  And so, as the canvas which came from the sky and returned to the sky, we learn that everything comes from God and returns to Him, and He calls whom He will.  And so the Gentile man whose home Peter enters by the Spirit’s direction is “saved, and all [his] household.”  “As [Peter] began to address them the Holy Spirit came upon them,” for they, too, “believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Yes, even these thirst for God “as the hind [who] longs for the running waters,” and so are led to the Lord’s “holy mountain, to His dwelling place”; even these “go in to the altar of God.”  For these unclean creatures are made as the pure and obedient sheep of Israel, heeding the Good Shepherd’s voice.  Here are “the other sheep that do not belong to this fold” of which Jesus speaks, whom He leads, too, by His loving word. All that He calls shall come to Him who lays down His life for the sake of the fold, by whom all “have life and have it to the full.”  All living creatures are His own, for it is He who is the living God; and all who live, live for Him and through Him alone.  The Son has come from the Father that we might know Him as He knows Him, and so that we might indeed have life.  As good sheep let us follow in His way, and lead those behind us also to salvation.  Let us all “go and behold the face of God” as we turn from anything that makes us unclean in His sight and listen for His voice leading our pure hearts. ******* O LORD, open the gate that we might enter in and dwell in your presence. YHWH, let all hear and heed the voice of your Son, who is the true Shepherd leading repentant souls to salvation.  Send your apostles into every house that all might hear the call of Jesus, be purged in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and come to dwell in your House, beholding your holy face. Let us be led forth by the Christ to your mountain, O God.  Make us one flock in Him, all as your blessed children.  O let us be as sheep slaughtered for your table, joining your Son on the altar of sacrifice; by His voice let us be cut to the heart and in our repentance become a holy offering to you. False prophets keep far from us, dear LORD, those who work but for pay, who care nothing for your flock.  In the Spirit send forth disciples to lead to running water those who thirst for you, O living God.…

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April 21 - Prayer to St. Anselm

2013-04-20
Length: 1s

O sublime teacher and defender of the Church and her freedom, the joy of Heaven you sought in your spiritual life, and for the autonomy of Mother Church you fought in your call as shepherd – pray that we who remain so blind to the presence of God will have our eyes opened and draw closer to Him who is our life, in whose light we alone find peace; and pray, too, that we shall fulfill our call as disciples of truth and defend with your same strength the life of our Mother, despite the persecutions that come.…

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April 21 - Sunday of the 4th Week of Easter, Year C

2013-04-19
Length: 5s

(Acts 13:14,43-52;   Ps.100:1-3,5;   Rv.7:9,14b-17;   Jn.10:27-30) “The Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.” Joy is our promise in the Lord, brothers and sisters.  Absolute, eternal, universal joy.  And though we may suffer persecution now, “the time of great distress” upon us but provides the means, the water, by which all saints “have washed their robes and made them white.”  “The blood of the Lamb” is necessary to bring us to the kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas suffer “violent abuse” today for proclaiming the word of the Lord.  But from it comes their turn to the Gentiles, who delight in joy at this call to the kingdom.  And these disciples themselves “were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit,” despite being expelled from the territory to which they’d come.  All is joy in the Lord! In our second reading, John depicts all the saints who “stand before God’s throne and worship Him day and night in His temple.”  Here they are utterly protected from harm, the harm that afflicted them while on earth.  No trials exist anymore in this everlasting shelter, for the Lord has “wipe[d] away every tear from their eyes.”  These tears, too, are water which cleanses the soul, which makes us robed in white before the Lord. And Jesus assures us, to our great exultation, that “no one can take [us] out of the Father’s hand,” or His own.  He and the Father are one, and no greater power is there under or above the sun.  Though threats of robbery besiege our souls as we travel through this world, let us make the Lord’s assurance our own, and have faith that nothing will remove us from His arms. Our psalmist exalts in the joy that should reflect the song in all our souls: “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful song.”  So let us search our hearts to find that joy within us and overflowing from us.  Let me ask you, brother, sister, did John see you present in his “vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue”?  Is the life-giving water of the Lamb washing you clean for that day?  Then joy should be yours even where you stand, for even now you stand with Him. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Everyone's a Baby, Everyone's a Child" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, let us follow your Son to the kingdom where He reigns over all. YHWH, souls from every nation stand before your throne in white robes, for your Son is a light even to the Gentiles; even to these do His apostles speak your Word.  Even these are called to eternal life by the Messiah. Day and night we shall worship in your holy Temple, O LORD, protected by the Lamb at the center of the throne in your heavenly kingdom.  What John has seen shall soon come to pass for all those who wash their robes in Jesus’ blood.  Every faithful soul is welcomed into His arms, is led into your pasture.  And this flock you tend untiringly, your Spirit upon all your children of light. And why should we care if we should suffer for your sake and the sake of your Name?  This persecution but brings joy to your blessed disciples, for in it they share in the sacrifice of your Son and so in the eternal joy of Heaven.  O LORD, hold us always in your Hand!…

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April 20 - Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-19
Length: 5s

(Acts 6:1-7;   Ps.33:1-2,4-5,18-19,22;   Jn.6:16-21)   “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness.”   Alleluia. As the apostles set out to cross the lake, “it was dark, and Jesus had still not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.”  As they struggled to row and keep afloat, “they sighted Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water.”  They had not expected their prayers for assistance and their wishes that Jesus was with them to be answered so remarkably, and so they must have wondered if He was a ghost.  But He assures them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (And these eternal words of comfort and peace come to rest upon His Church.)  The disciples of the Lord now were ready “to take Him into the boat, but suddenly it came aground on the shore they had been approaching.”  He is with you, brothers and sisters, be assured, and will bring you to the home you seek, despite the storms you may face. In our first reading, the eyes of the widows must have been looking to the Lord, wishing that He were with them to provide for them.  In this case, “the Twelve assembled the community of disciples,” and though they do not enter the boat themselves, do not “wait on the tables” to address the tumult that had arisen between the factions, they provide what is needed to calm the winds and see this boat ashore by laying hands on “deeply spiritual and prudent” men chosen from their own.  And so, “the word of God continued to spread” through the apostles’ concentration “on prayer and [their] ministry,” “while at the same time the number of the disciples in Jerusalem enormously increased.”  So the widows are fed as the Word is spread; so the boat comes aground on the land it approaches. Jesus is with us, brothers and sisters.  In all things He is there, working.  He ministers to us always as the head of His Church through the hands and hearts and voices of all His disciples.  And each to his own call, and this ship shall find its port assured.  And all shall sing His praises as they see in us and we know in Him that “upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy.”  His eyes are upon us.  Do not be afraid. ******* O LORD, let us live and act as if we believe in your Son; let us do the things He has done. YHWH, you have loosed our bonds and raised us from death by the sacrifice of your Son, and in His Name all are now saved from their sins and consecrated to you.  Help us to believe the words He speaks, to be of the Spirit and life and not the flesh.  O let us come to you! O LORD, let our faith not be shaken by the demands of your Son, by the challenge He offers us to believe and so come to life in His Name.  Let your Church flourish and grow in fear of you and the consolation of the Spirit.  Yes, let all be converted to love of you and serve to do your will in this world, till all come to dwell eternally in your kingdom. This day we take up the cup of salvation and declare your praise, O LORD.  This day let us fulfill our vows to you, that in your sight our death might be blessed and we be raised to life with you.…

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Share: April 20 - Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter


April 19 - Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-18
Length: 5s

(Acts 9:1-20;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Jn.6:52-59)   “My flesh is real food and my blood real drink.”   And “the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever.” The truth is simply stated to those who wonder at His words today in our gospel.  As the Israelites in the desert asked, “What is this?” when presented with manna as their food, so now the Jews say, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  For those who do not believe, it is impossible; but for those who believe, it is the gift of God. Here is the Bread of Life in our midst, as real as the Light which shone around Saul and knocked him off his horse; as real as the voice which spoke aloud to his soul.  This bread and wine on the table of the Lord, this great grace upon His altar of sacrifice, is indeed that which feeds us, that which sustains us – that which makes Him most present to us.  Our first reading says of Saul that “his strength returned to him after he had taken food.”  For three days he had fasted in darkness, experiencing the absolute blindness of his life as persecutor of the Church.  Then Ananias laid his hands on him and he recovered his sight.  Then he was baptized.  Then he could come to the table of the Lord our God and gain the strength “to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.”  Yes, the Scripture refers in fact but to ordinary food, but indeed it indicates the “real food” Saul shall soon come to know and find his spirit through. “The man who feeds on me will have life because of me.”  He will become one with the Son as He is with the Father.  And he, too, the Lord will be speaking of when He asks, “Why are you persecuting me?”  By this Bread we become so one with our God, and with Him we suffer for His Name.  “I myself shall indicate to him how much he will have to suffer for my name,” Jesus says to Ananias.  And so the disciple is convinced that this man who has done nothing but harm to God’s holy people is truly being called to come to the Lord of all.  It is through such suffering that discipleship comes, as it is through His sacrifice we have this food upon our table. Eat His Body, dear brothers and sisters.  Drink His Blood.  Let us share together this day this gift of oneness with our God.  And let us be strong; and let us bleed with Him upon the cross, to bring His Name to all.  “The fidelity of the Lord endures forever,” and He shall never leave us orphaned.  He shall feed us forever. ******* O LORD, feed us with the Bread that is your Son, that we might have strength to do your will.  YHWH, how shall we come to see that your Son is the Bread of Life and we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life in us, to be united with Him as He is to you?  We have scales upon our eyes and upon our hearts – how shall they fall away and our souls open to receive your Word?  Send your disciples forth to lay their hands on all blinded men. There are those still who persecute your Church, thinking they are acting in your Name, O LORD.  There are many who cannot but harden their hearts to your gracious gift to them.  Help all souls to accept your Son and see that it is His Body that acts in your Name.  Help all come to the table of sacrifice and eat His flesh and drink His blood, that they too might proclaim Jesus as your Son. From our horses we all need to fall; your light we need to shine about us.  Let us hear your voice, O LORD, and be obedient to its commands, and so live in your presence forever.…

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Share: April 19 - Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter


April 18 - Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-17
Length: 4s

(Acts 8:26-40;   Ps.66:1,8-9,16-17,20;   Jn.6:44-51)   “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”   How evident it is in our first reading that the Father draws all believers unto Himself.  For though it is clear that the Ethiopian eunuch is in search of God, has a desire for God, and welcomes God – He is coming from pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is reading Holy Scripture, and “invite[s] Philip to get in and sit down beside him” – which is necessary for belief as well, it is most certain that the Lord is leading him to Himself.  The angel of the Lord directs Philip to the Ethiopian.  The Spirit specifically instructs him to approach his carriage, and then inspires His disciple to speak to the eunuch of the Word of God and lead him into the waters of baptism (snatching him away immediately upon the completion of his task). Also evident in our first reading is Jesus’ quotation of the prophets: “They shall all be taught by God.”  For indeed it is God that, through Philip, enlightens the Ethiopian eunuch regarding the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah, and all of Scripture, “telling him the good news of Jesus.”  It is “not that anyone has seen the Father,” for the Father is not visible to our human vision.  But the Father has sent the Son, “the one who is from God,” and “He has seen the Father,” and He knows Him.  And now through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son sends His disciples forth as His own flesh and blood, with the same Spirit that inspires Him, to reveal the Father’s love to a waiting world. “The bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”  We are those who have heard His Word, who have been instructed in His way, and who have received His Body and His Blood.  And so, having eaten “the bread that comes down from heaven,” we indeed become flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone.  Wed we are to the Son of Man by the power of His Word and the blessing of His Sacrament.  We have responded to the Lord’s call; He who draws all to Himself and to the Father has become our “living bread,” our life-giving water.  And now at His command we must draw all men to the Son, who brings all to the Father. The Light of the world shines in our midst, and we are drawn as moths to this flame, to Him who “is deprived of His life on earth.”  And though we die in our turn as this Sheep who “was led to the slaughter,” yet “of His posterity,” and so our own, all the world will speak… and be drawn to Him who has been lifted up from the earth upon a cross, to Him who dwells with the Father in heaven. ******* O LORD, your Son is the living Bread come down from Heaven; let us seek Him and listen to Him, and rejoice in Him.  YHWH, let us be taught by you; let us be drawn to you and receive the Bread that is your Son.  Let us be baptized in His Name, with you and the Holy Spirit, and so let us come to eternal life in your kingdom.  May all souls praise you for your goodness toward us! What can we do but rejoice when we hear your voice speaking to us in the depths of our souls, when your Word is revealed to our ears and our hearts – when Jesus stands before us in the flesh and offers Himself to us for our salvation?  And so, let all indeed come to Him, and so to you, LORD, and loudly sound your praise. You stand before us in the flesh of your Son, O LORD our God, and this Good News goes forward by the power of the Holy Spirit upon His Church.  We who eat the Bread He offers become His Body; let your Word now extend from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.…

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Share: April 18 - Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter


April 17 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-16
Length: 5s

(Acts 8:1-8;   Ps.66:1-7;   Jn.6:35-40)   “Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name!”   And why should there be such exultant joy among all the peoples of the earth?  What should cause all men to “shout joyfully to God”?  It is Jesus’ profession that “everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.”  Nothing but life everlasting can bring such absolute joy, and we have the assurance from the Lord’s own lips that He “shall lose nothing of what [the Father] has given” Him, that all who come to Him He “will raise up on the last day.”  Alleluia!  Let us come to Him. How evident the universal call of the Lord is in our first reading.  Upon the persecution which follows the death of Stephen, Philip, a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian “goes down to the town of Samaria” – where the Jews intermarried with the pagans of the land – “and there proclaimed the Messiah.”  And we are told that “without exception, the crowds that heard Philip and saw the miracles he performed attended closely to what he had to say” and that “the rejoicing in that town rose to fever pitch.”  Here we see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy to the woman at the well, that all who worship Him will worship in spirit and in truth and not in any particular place; here we see the realization of the Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan, that all men truly are our neighbors.  For now all are called into His holy fold.  All now come to know the glory of the Lord.  And, of course, he who leads the persecution against the growing Christian community, he who “entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail”… this same Saul we hear of today will soon become the great Apostle Paul, who travels to all the nations of the world converting waiting souls. Yes, brothers and sisters, “He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot.”  As the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, so now all God’s children pass through holy Baptism and have the way made straight before them.  “The glory of His name” is upon us all, upon all who believe in His Son, and now we who were “paralytics or cripples” – who were unable to move for not having heard of His Name or who had had our limbs disjointed for having forgotten His Law – all, Gentile or Jew, are now welcomed into the Father’s eternal home.  For “no one who comes will [the Son] reject.”  In Him all find their dwelling, and so what should we do but “rejoice in Him” and “proclaim His glorious praise”? ******* O LORD, let us be raised with your Son on the last Day – Alleluia! YHWH, O how persecution brings great joy!  For even as the disciples are hunted down and thrown into prison, many go out to new lands to proclaim the kingdom of God to waiting souls, souls who welcome the Word with shouts of joy.  And, of course, it is looking upon Jesus on the Cross and believing in Him that brings us to eternal life.  Alleluia!  May the Word of God go out to the ends of the earth and all souls sing for joy at their salvation. Jesus has assured us that He will lose nothing of what you, Father, have given Him; no one who comes to Him will He reject, but He will gather all your faithful children into your eternal presence.  Let us but long to look upon Him whom you have sent.  Let us but set our hearts on the love that passes not away.  Let us but come to Him to find your surpassing glory, and all our sickness will be taken away, and we shall never thirst again.…

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Share: April 17 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter


April 16 - Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-15
Length: 5s

(Acts 7:51-8:1;   Ps.31:3-4,6-8,17,21;   Jn.6:30-35)   “No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall thirst again.”   “I myself am the bread of life,” Jesus declares, and it is in this Bread we take refuge.  It is by this Bread we are fed. Do you think that Stephen is at all hungry as he lives again the trial, way of the cross, and crucifixion of the Lord in our first reading today?  No, even in this time, and perhaps especially in this sacrifice, the Lord feeds him with Bread from heaven.  Even as he is stoned to death, the Lord God hides him “in the shelter of [His] presence from the plottings of men.” Yes, in our first reading we have Jesus again chastising the elders and indeed all the people for their betrayal and murder of the Word of God.  Here we have again Jesus being dragged “out of the city” and killed at the hands of those “who received the law through the ministry of angels [but] have not observed it.”  And here again we have forgiveness offered with His last breath.  Here is the persecuted Church found in the person of Stephen; here is Jesus.  Recall Jesus’ words to Saul upon his conversion: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me”(Acts 22:7)?  And here is that same Saul overseeing this first “act of killing,” this first martyrdom of the Body of Christ. But all the while Jesus is there, not only in the persecution, but quite evidently in His glory.  “I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand,” Stephen exclaims.  And notice that it is not until this moment, not until they hear this declaration – despite their “shouting aloud, holding their hands over their ears” – that the people are moved “as one man” to destroy that voice.  Stephen’s chastisement “stung [them] to the heart” and made them “ground their teeth in anger,” but it is this Truth of the presence of the Lord which they simply cannot stand.  And what is the significance of Stephen’s vision being the impetus for his own death?  It does bring his stoning, but simultaneously it prepares him for such martyrdom, for now truly the Lord is with him.  Before this he would not have been able to bear so completely this cross.  And without this Bread he would not have been killed. “God’s bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  That bread of life is in Stephen’s trust in the Lord and in his echoing the words of David’s psalm, which are Jesus’ own: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”  For even as he dies, he is most alive.  It is this same faith we need, brothers and sisters, and we shall never be hungry, and we shall never be without the Lord, but shall declare His love and His truth to all, happy to be called His own.  The Lord’s “face shine[s] upon [His] servant[s],” and they always have the Bread they need. ******* O LORD, give us the Bread from Heaven, your Son, to be with us even unto death, and help us to proclaim His Name.  YHWH, into your hands let us commend our spirit, and we will be protected.  Though stones rain down upon our heads, vision of you will light our way, and we shall come into your presence.  At your right hand with Jesus let us stand. In your Son let us take our refuge, O LORD, in Him and in His Cross.  Let us be as He was, revealing His image to this fallen world.  Let us proclaim the truth in His Name, let us accept the persecution it brings… and let us forgive those who kill us, those who would destroy your Word this day. Jesus is our Bread from Heaven; it is in His flesh we find our home.  Let us be His Body in this world, crucified and rising on high.  O LORD, O faithful God, out trust is in you alone, and in your Son – in our lives let your will be done.…

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April 15 - Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

2013-04-14
Length: 4s

(Acts 6:8-15;   Ps.119:1,23-24,26-27,29-30;   Jn.6:22-29)   “This is the work of God: have faith in the One whom He sent.”   It is this faith that moves Stephen; it is this work upon which he sets his heart.  And so he was unmoved when “the people, the elders, and the scribes… confronted him, seized him, and led him off to the Sanhedrin” and “brought in false witnesses” against him.  Surely the words of our psalm are fulfilled in him as they had been in the Lord: “Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes.”  Thus it is that throughout his persecution, “Stephen’s face seemed like that of an angel” – through it all it is the voice of the Lord to which he listens.  And one wonders if the members of the Sanhedrin had not “stared at him [so] intently” because they had seen that face of an angel not long before in the One whom they had crucified, the One who stood before them like a sheep before its shearers.  And this one, too, they would sacrifice. “You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains unto life eternal, food which the Son of Man will give you.”  It is this food, which those who persecute him cannot see, that Stephen eats.  If he were seeking to get his “fill of the loaves” which satisfy the stomach, he would not suffer the trial upon him, and not in such peace.  Only Jesus gives this food, brothers and sisters.  It is nourishment the world cannot touch, and to it there is no end.  We need eat nothing else to sustain ourselves. “Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.”  O Lord, what voice can compare with thine own?  What word can stand where yours is spoken?  For yours is “the way of truth,” and the truth cannot be shaken, cannot be changed over time.  It is not subject to the corrupting forces present in our flesh; it is of the spirit.  And so, in the Spirit let us be, called before your throne.  Though we stand accused before the tribunals of this barren land, may your food be ever within us to sustain us – in your presence ever let us rest. On this unshakable foundation we shall remain, even as the world passes away. ******* O LORD, let us have faith in your Son and your work shall be done in us.  YHWH, let us meditate always on you and your wondrous deeds; let us eat of the food of the Spirit that passes not away, that we might come to dwell with you forever.  We should not be concerned with the things of the body, with filling our bellies or even with whether we live or die.  Like Stephen we should face all persecution with the patience of an angel, knowing you are at our side.  And then we shall never die. O LORD, if only it were eternal life upon which our hearts were set, then we would be truly blessed.  Then we would have all we need, for then we would have you dwelling in our souls.  You are Life itself, dear LORD, and this is what Jesus would give to us.  This is what all His disciples preach, for they, too, would share what has been given them. Teach us your ways, dear God; let us walk in your truth.  And all wisdom will be ours, and we too will witness to your Holy One.…

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April 13 - Prayer to St. Martin I

2013-04-12
Length: 1s

O martyred Father of the Church, you laid down your life to save her from the enemy, to preserve her in the truth of orthodox faith; unmindful of the humiliation and exile you bore at the hands of the king of this world, you died that all might know the Christ in His divinity and humanity – pray we shall indeed be saved from all temptation to turn from the faith, and so find our way to the kingdom where now you dwell with the Lord and all His holy angels. May our leaders be as strong as you and we follow them loyally in the name of our Redeemer.  …

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April 14 - Sunday of the 3rd Week of Easter, Year C

2013-04-12
Length: 5s

(Acts 5:27-32,40b-41;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Rv.5:11-14;   Jn.21:1-19) “You changed my mourning into dancing.” Throughout our readings today we witness the glory the risen Lord effects by His sacrifice, the change of fate that comes by the Savior. In our first reading, though the apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin for persecution, they leave their presence rejoicing, happy to have “suffer[ed] dishonor for the sake of the name.”  In our psalm David sings the praise of the Lord for His having brought him “up from the netherworld,” turning his weeping into joy.  In our second reading, John sees and hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out” the “blessing and honor, glory and might” of “the Lamb that was slain” – perceiving thus the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s living sacrifice.  And in our gospel, though the apostles had toiled in vain all the night within their boat, and were tired and hungry and disillusioned as morning approached, Jesus stood upon the shore… and at His instruction they caught more fish than they could carry, and were fed by His hand. The light follows darkness, inevitably.  “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”  It is the maxim of the universe, epitomized by the death and resurrection of the Christ.  And so, though Jesus calls Peter from the freedom he has known in youth to the bondage that shall be his as he “grow[s] old,” it is understood that, indeed, by this “death he [will] glorify God,” and thus joining his death with the Lord’s own, shall know the same glorious morn Jesus does now own, and to which He leads all His followers. Darkness can never overcome the eternal light of our God; of the glory of the Lord the angels and all living creatures sing in heaven even now.  And we shall join their voices soon, we shall stand in the ranks with Peter and John and David and all His holy ones very soon.  Once we have finished giving thanks to the living God for the suffering we are graced to endure here in His name, we will come to the joy that is ours in Him in heaven.  Then we shall dance and sing forever. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Souls at a Carnival" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. *******  O LORD, may the blood of your Son cleanse us of sin, and may our own death glorify you. YHWH, Jesus was killed by being hung on a tree, but you preserved Him from among those going down into the pit, you brought Him up from the netherworld, and with Him all those obedient to His Word.  Now in glory He sits with you upon the throne, and the angels and all creatures in Heaven and on earth and under the earth praise His holy Name.  And, yes, those who follow Him here unto death shall come to such glory with Him in Heaven. To the Lamb who was slain belong all honor and glory and blessing; and to His disciples, to those who lay down their lives that His sheep might be fed, comes the blessing that rests upon Him.  O LORD, make us fruitful in your sight!  May we help turn the mourning of mankind into dancing and singing before your throne.  Forever let us give you thanks for having been found worthy to suffer dishonor here for the sake of your Name.  …

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April 13 - Saturday of the 2nd Week of Easter

2013-04-12
Length: 4s

(Acts 6:1-7;   Ps.33:1-2,4-5,18-19,22;   Jn.6:16-21) “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness.” Alleluia. As the apostles set out to cross the lake, “it was dark, and Jesus had still not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.”  As they struggled to row and keep afloat, “they sighted Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water.”  They had not expected their prayers for assistance and their wishes that Jesus was with them to be answered so remarkably, and so they must have wondered if He was a ghost.  But He assures them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (And these eternal words of comfort and peace come to rest upon His Church.)  The disciples of the Lord now were ready “to take Him into the boat, but suddenly it came aground on the shore they had been approaching.”  He is with you, brothers and sisters, be assured, and will bring you to the home you seek, despite the storms you may face. In our first reading, the eyes of the widows must have been looking to the Lord, wishing that He were with them to provide for them.  In this case, “the Twelve assembled the community of disciples,” and though they do not enter the boat themselves, do not “wait on the tables” to address the tumult that had arisen between the factions, they provide what is needed to calm the winds and see this boat ashore by laying hands on “deeply spiritual and prudent” men chosen from their own.  And so, “the word of God continued to spread” through the apostles’ concentration “on prayer and [their] ministry,” “while at the same time the number of the disciples in Jerusalem enormously increased.”  So the widows are fed as the Word is spread; so the boat comes aground on the land it approaches. Jesus is with us, brothers and sisters.  In all things He is there, working.  He ministers to us always as the head of His Church through the hands and hearts and voices of all His disciples.  And each to his own call, and this ship shall find its port assured.  And all shall sing His praises as they see in us and we know in Him that “upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy.”  His eyes are upon us.  Do not be afraid. ******* O LORD, give us our bread this day, that we might come with your Son to the farther shore. YHWH, from death you deliver us; you preserve us in spite of famine.  By your own hand you feed us, through your apostles; and them you watch over always as they guide your boat.  And so we need not fear – we should but praise your faithful care for our souls, and bodies. Your Son comes to us across the waters, O LORD, walking steadily though the sea be rough.  He is unafraid of the trials and tribulations of this world, caring only that our lives are preserved, seeking always to bring us to our home in you. O let your Word go forth, dear God, bless those who serve as the ministers of your Church.  Our hope in your kindness shall not be disappointed…  All shall hear of the blessings upon those who put their trust in you.  May all answer that call.…

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Share: April 13 - Saturday of the 2nd Week of Easter


April 12 - Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter

2013-04-11
Length: 4s

(Acts 5:34-42;   Ps.27:1,4,13-14;   Jn.6:1-15) “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.” Seeing the vast crowd following Him up the mountain as He seeks to sit with His disciples, Jesus asks the one without guile, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat.”  In honesty Philip answers, essentially, “It is impossible.”  Ah, but nothing is impossible with God. Brothers, is it not their seeing “the bounty of the Lord” that causes the apostles to leave the Sanhedrin and the whipping they received at their hands “full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name”?  And is not this bounty revealed most clearly here “in the land of the living” in the Bread of Life Jesus provides for us at His Eucharistic table?  And so should we not rejoice every day in this miracle? “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”  Are not David’s words the ones Jesus speaks to His children in the feeding of the five thousand?  Should the apostles not but sing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” as they stand each with one of the “twelve baskets full of pieces left over” from the miracle brought about at the Lord’s hands?  Does He not here convey their mission of feeding His sheep? And filled by the food at their hands, should not our own reaction be in accord with the joy expressed by the people in that green field, “This is undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world”?  For does He not come into us each time we receive Him? But king He shall not be made, not in this world.  No, this world cannot contain His Kingship, for we have a greater than David here.  The land of the living will ultimately be not upon this grass beneath our feet, but upon the clouds of Heaven.  Thus the persecution comes, you see.  Thus those who go about “fighting God Himself” scourge and crucify the Word they cannot bear and the messengers who bring it to their ears.  But the ill-treatment that comes by their jealous hands brings no fear but only encouragement to the hearts of His apostles. Brothers and sisters, let us be as they who “day after day, both in the temple and at home… never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus the Messiah,” making always this world as one with the kingdom of God. ******* O LORD, it is by faith we are fed, and so let us seek you with all our hearts, with our very lives. YHWH, let us come to the Eucharistic banquet, that your Son may enter into us and we ever dwell as your temple in this world.  Your bounty is revealed now, wrought by the hands of Jesus and brought to us by His disciples – let us partake of the Bread you provide and rejoice in all your blessings. None can fight you, O LORD our God; none can destroy what you bring to life.  And so, though whipped and ill-treated for the sake of the Name of our Savior, we can but rejoice indeed.  For you cannot be overcome, nor those upon whom your Spirit rests.  As we follow in the footsteps of your Son, we shall ever live with you. In your House let us indeed make our home; you are our refuge, O LORD, and with you we are never afraid.  For the destroying angel shall pass over all who eat of the flesh of the Lamb, all who are anointed by His blood.…

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April 11 - Prayer to St. Stanislaus

2013-04-10
Length: 1s

O soldier of Christ who stood with courage against the powers of this world, leading the troops in your charge even unto death – pray that we may remain loyal to our call, faithful to the Lord even unto our own death, standing strong and tall against the assaults of the world and the devil and forming those entrusted to us in the ways of God as you, dear shepherd, have bravely done. Let us not be afraid to shed our blood for the truth, to suffer persecution in order to light the way that leads to life, the life that is Christ, who strengthens us with the armor of God.  …

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April 11 - Thursday of the 2nd Week of Easter

2013-04-10
Length: 5s

(Acts 5:27-33;   Ps.34:2,7,9,17-20;   Jn.3:31-36) “The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God; He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.” And thus it is that Peter and the apostles, sent by the Lord to speak His words, can boldly proclaim to the Sanhedrin’s chastisement for continuing “to teach about that name”: “Better for us to obey God than men!”  In no way do they ration the Spirit as they testify that God “has raised up Jesus whom [they] put to death,” that it is “He whom God has exalted at His right hand as ruler and savior,” that He is “to bring repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”  The praise of God and of His Son is “ever in [their] mouth,” for indeed they know the happiness of “the man who takes refuge in Him.” And they know, too, the folly of those who deny the Truth of God’s presence in Jesus the Christ.  For as He Himself says to Nicodemus in our gospel, “Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure the wrath of God,” and as David states in his psalm, “The Lord confronts evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth,” so the blessed Rock and his fellow apostles convey to the high priest and the Sanhedrin as they are persecuted by their hands.  Their declaration that not only do they testify to Jesus as the Messiah but “so too does the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those that obey Him,” is a clear indictment of those to whom they speak, those who are deaf to the Spirit’s words.  And it is for this implication that they lack the truth that the Sanhedrin “were stung to fury and wanted to kill them.” But it is they who shall be killed.  It is their rule which shall not last, which shall be overcome by the Just One and the Spirit of Truth upon Him and His own.  It is Peter, who speaks for all the apostles, who shall lead the New Jerusalem, the holy Church of God.  Such chastisement the leaders cannot bear, save perhaps for Nicodemus; the testimony of “the One who comes from heaven” they cannot accept, and so they fail to “certif[y] that God is truthful.”  What then shall be left to them? Brothers and sisters, though the just man find himself “brokenhearted,” “crushed in spirit,” and with many “troubles,” know that “out of them all the Lord delivers him.”  And He shall deliver you, if you but speak His truth.  Find strength in the witness of the apostles, in the saints and martyrs of all the ages, and in the Lord Himself.  He is with the one He sends and so will bless him as he speaks the truth without fear.  “The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to Him,” and He, in turn, gives to those whom the Spirit inspires.  Trust in Him with all your lives. ******* O LORD, by your risen Son the evil are confronted and the just lifted up – let your Spirit be upon us. YHWH, your Spirit is upon the one who believes in your only Son, for He is from Heaven and so the Spirit is upon Him.  Let us be as He is; let us live and speak the truth, despite all threats of persecution, knowing well that you will save us as we cry out to you and for you.  O LORD, let us never disobey you or your Son.  For what life can he have who turns from your will?  How can the Spirit rest upon him?  Let us not be afraid to admit our guilt, that we have put to death our Savior and are responsible for His blood, and so let that blood pour over us for the forgiveness of sins as we repent of what we have done. Let our hearts not be hardened, LORD, by the chastisement of your Son and those who follow Him.  Let us accept their testimony, let us thirst for such truth.  For only this will bring us from our earthly bonds to new life in your kingdom – let your Spirit be upon the brokenhearted to carry them to your presence.…

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April 10 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

2013-04-09
Length: 5s

(Acts 5:17-26;   Ps.34:2-9;   Jn.3:16-21) “He who acts in truth comes into the light, to make clear that his deeds are done in God.” Jesus is “the light [that] came into the world,” and “happy the man who takes refuge in Him.”  None shall fear anymore who love the Lord, for He shall answer all his cries.  And newness of life shall be ours. The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, “arrested the apostles and threw them into public jail.”  They attempt to hide the truth in darkness, to kill the light of the Spirit.  “During the night, however, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the jail [and] led them forth,” telling them to preach again in the temple “about this new life.”  And so, “they went into the temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.”  Do you see the resurrection at work here, brothers and sisters?  Do you see how the Word is rescued from the darkness of night, from the prison into which the world would cast it, and brought into the clear light of dawn?  The Truth cannot be chained and death shall never overcome life. And what do the apostles preach but the words Jesus whispers into the waiting ears of Nicodemus in the middle of the night – bringing him, too, out of the darkness into the Lord’s marvelous light: “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.”  Eternal life!  This is the Word come from God through His only Son begotten in love for us all.  The high priest and the Sadducees would hide this; but here one of the leaders listens.  He does not question anymore how this can be.  And so the seed of eternal life is planted in his heart. That seed must be planted in all hearts, and so the apostles repeatedly return to preaching, unafraid of the consequences.  For how clearly it has been shown them that “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”  How well they believe their own words, that in Jesus is found eternal life.  In their hearts burns the faith, and so, openly they speak.  And though they shall see just how much “men loved darkness rather than light,” yet they shall seek the salvation of all: unto death they shall stand in the light of truth, confident in the resurrection to follow. May all believe “in the name of God’s only Son” and thus avoid condemnation.  May all stand confidently in the Light of the new day, for the darkness of sin and death is banished when we call upon His Name. ******* O LORD, by faith in your Son and His resurrection, may we be freed from all condemnation and come into your light. YHWH, in the morning light the apostles preach in the temple of the new life found in Jesus, your Son.  From the prison of darkness they would rescue all souls, as they themselves have been rescued.  Your angel delivers all who love you from death and fear; may our souls glory in the salvation found in your only Son. That we might not die you sent Jesus into the world as the Light that conquers all darkness, and those who believe in Him come into the light and so find eternal life.  There is no power that can chain or imprison your Word, O LORD, for it is your will that it go out to the ends of the earth. May the Name of Jesus be proclaimed to all men that all who seek the salvation of their souls, all who would be released from their afflictions, might find the freedom of your sons and daughters and do all in you and in your light, O LORD our God.…

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April 9 - Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

2013-04-08
Length: 5s

(Acts 4:32-37;   Ps.93:1-2,5;   Jn.3:7-15) “The community of believers were of one heart and one mind.” This oneness is itself of heaven, is itself the sign that they are “begotten of the Spirit.”  And this oneness is reflected in a very real manner in the fact that “none of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common.”  This sharing of goods, of “lay[ing] them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to his need,” is but an earthly thing.  It is easy to see; it is easy to know, for it deals indeed with the things of the earth.  But if like Nicodemus this earthly matter is beyond our comprehension, if we say such living as one on this plane is impossible, how far short we will fall of understanding the oneness that exists on the heavenly plane.  For do you not see that one not only reflects the other, but in fact leads to the other?  How can one be as the wind which “blows where it will,” how can one’s origin and destination be said to be unknown if one is unduly placed, indeed rooted, in the houses, in the property of this earth?  And so Barnabas is indeed a “son of encouragement,” because by selling his entire farm and laying the money derived therewith at the apostles’ feet he is saying: I no longer live here on earth.  My home is in heaven. How tied we can be to earthly things.  How blinded by them.  And yet they can be a means to heaven, if one gives them to the Lord.  For then already here in this world we will begin to see and know the life of heaven.  Even now the Spirit shall move within us and our eyes will be opened to see “that all who believe may have eternal life” in Jesus.  Yes, by the giving up of our goods, by dying to self in this real way, we may transcend this earthly plane. “Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days.”  Do you not understand this matter, brothers and sisters?  Do you not see that you are called here on earth during your limited length of days to live as though in heaven?  Do you not know that it is but this which will lead to the unlimited number of days lived in holiness in heaven?  Do not think that one is somehow separated from the other, as if heaven can be kept apart, as if its power is not all-encompassing.  Here you must begin; even here you must find yourself on that eternal road.  For such has Jesus been lifted up, to show you the emptiness of your earthly self.  To such oneness with Him and His disciples does He call you – to be a child of heaven.  Let us walk together in the Spirit of the Lord and love one another with the love that comes only from God. ******* O LORD, let us be as the wind, moved by your holy will alone. YHWH, in Heaven with you we find our home, not in the things of this earth.  And so as we give the things of this earth over to you and your apostles, we draw closer to you and your kingdom.  Help us to be born of you, to have life in you and in your Spirit, and not put trust in any possession. You are King, O LORD, in splendor robed, and holiness alone befits your House.  Thus, if we would dwell with you, we must indeed be holy.  And to be holy we must be purified of any attachment to this world.  As Jesus is lifted up on the Cross, we must be lifted up with Him; as He stands empty of all things, so must we be, if we are to be ready for Heaven – if we are to be raised in glory with Him. It is in the resurrection of Jesus we take our life, dear God, but to find His resurrection we must first die; to dwell with you in Heaven we must lay down our lives.  O may we live here as His disciples!…

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April 8 - Prayer on the Annunciation

2013-04-07
Length: 1s

O chosen one of the Lord, how well you answered His call, giving yourself entirely to the angel’s word and so conceiving in your womb the salvation of the world – pray, O Spouse of the Holy Spirit, that His voice might inspire in us your same commitment to the Word of God and its working in our lives; pray the Son be conceived in us as well that we too might serve to bring His salvation forth into the light of this day. How shall we give ourselves completely to the Lord without your prayers, dear Mother, without your blessed intercession…? O pray we shall follow in your wake and add our ‘yes’ to your own, that the Lord may indeed work in us, that He might make His home in us and we come to our home in Heaven.  …

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April 8 - The Annunciation

2013-04-07
Length: 6s

(Is.7:10-14,8:10;   Ps.40:7-11;   Heb.10:4-10;   Lk.1:26-38)   “Behold, I come to do your will.”   Today we celebrate the fact that the Word became flesh, that God became man through Mary and dwells among us to take away our sins.  In this is fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’”  She is the Virgin; He is the Son – we are they with whom He dwells.  Praise God for His grace! Obediently Jesus takes on the body prepared for Him by the Father for all ages; humbly He bows under the Hand of God. To come among us is His delight.  For He shall fulfill the prescriptions of the old law – as is written, so shall it come to be.  And in His blood poured out for our sakes, in the love He shares with us men, indeed shall be fulfilled the will of God.  No longer need we wait or search in vain, for all that is written is accomplished in Him. And Mary is, of course, the perfect reflection of the Lord’s obedience; it is she in whom He is formed.  As He says, “Behold, I come,” she says, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.”  As the Lord says, “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.  To do your will, O God, is my delight,” His Lady says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  And so by the obedience won from her by the angel, this Blessed Virgin “will conceive in [her] womb and bear a son, and [she] shall name Him Jesus”; and “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”  She in her innocence and by the fullness of grace at work in her believes the reply to her question, “How can this be?”  She is assured by the miracle spoken of Elizabeth – for which this holy woman must certainly have prayed – and so the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” are realized; and she who believes becomes the instrument of our salvation. Brothers and sisters, “we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.”  His coming among us is more than the greatest miracle; it means life for our very souls.  For by His incarnation and by the sacrifice of His flesh for our sakes is effected the cleansing of our sins and the drawing up of our lives unto heaven where He eternally dwells.  As He has dwelt with us, so may we now dwell with Him who has come for this purpose.  Let no fear grip your heart.  Consecrate yourself to Him and to His holy sacrifice.  And give yourself to His Mother, that she may form you in His image, and you may know the blessed obedience which both hold, and which is itself the means of our salvation.   Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.   Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, make us all as your handmaid, ready to do your will.  YHWH, make us as selfless as Mary, as selfless as your Son, offering our bodies to your service, caring only for the salvation of others’ souls.  Freely let us give ourselves to your will, that your Son may work through us. A Virgin conceives and bears a Son, LORD, and so your Word is fulfilled; your Word now walks among us.  This Virgin you prepared from all eternity to accomplish your will of saving souls.  Your own heart you placed within her, one of selfless sacrifice, and now as the angel comes to her, she is ready to accept your Word. Upon hearing of her cousin Elizabeth, she is convinced that the angel is from your side, LORD; hearing answer to her sincerest of prayers, she knows you are in this Word.  Did she not perhaps offer her virginity for her cousin’s fertility?  Certainly her purity is blessed with the greatest fruitfulness, even as she who was thought barren prepares to give birth to a son. Make us so fruitful, dear God.  Let us too lay down our lives, as has your Son, as has His Mother, that we might be of your generation, we pray.…

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April 7 - Prayer to St. John Baptist de la Salle

2013-04-06
Length: 1s

O good teacher of the poor boys in your care, minister of the Lord to those most in need, with what humble affection you carried out your work in educating souls in the Gospel of Christ and guiding others to do the same – pray that we, too, shall give ourselves in sacrificial silence to the call the Lord has placed upon our souls, and especially that teachers of the young and disadvantaged will find grace and strength from our Lord to carry out in truth and love their work for Christ and His Church. May the Temple of God be built up on this earth in all poor souls washed in Christ’s blood.  …

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April 7 - Divine Mercy Sunday, Year C

2013-04-05
Length: 5s

(Acts 5:12-16;   Ps.118:1-4,22-27;   Rv.1:9-13,17-19;   Jn.20:19-31)  “When I caught sight of Him, I fell down at His feet as though dead.” But Jesus “touched [John] with His right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid.’”  Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” as he humbled himself at the sight of the risen Christ who had appeared before him, and so he was blessed with faith.  The first believers “carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.”  And the sick and possessed brought forth “were all cured.”  All “those who fear the Lord” know His eternal mercy! Brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to humble ourselves in awe before the mighty Lord and the apostles He sends forth in His name and with the blessing of the Father.  We must set our hearts on “the first and the last, the One who lives,” and let nothing keep us from the path to His grace, to the glorious vision of His holy face.  He waits.  He waits in expectation for all humble souls to turn to the blood poured out by the nail marks in His hands and the wound in His side.  He wishes not to have died in vain, and so with power He sends the Spirit out through the ministry and the sacraments of His Church on earth. “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles,” and these same wonders and more are offered for our edification and our salvation this day.  The time of fulfillment is upon us and the Lord Jesus is not remiss with His graces: generously the fount of mercy gushes forth.  And as John was surrounded by water on the island of Patmos in the day of his divine vision, so are we surrounded with the blessings of the Lord, if we but come to His presence.  He is near.  He is waiting.  Do not doubt; but believe – and whatever ailment of body or soul, heart or mind, which seems to obstruct your reception of the glory of God, will be removed in an instant, if you but fall down at His feet in awe. Dead before Him we must be, dead to sin and sadness.  Alive in the Spirit we must remain, keeping His peace within us.  With John let us share “the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,” and the distress will disappear and the kingdom come, even as we endure all in His name.  God’s “peace be with you.” Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, your mercy endures forever; help us to trust in you. YHWH, let us lay our broken bodies in the streets that your apostle might pass by and we be healed of our infirmity.  Let us fall down at the feet of your glorious Son and feel His hand upon us and hear His voice reassuring us.  May the risen Jesus be known to us that in faith we might proclaim, “My LORD and my God!”  O let His peace be upon us!  May the Holy Spirit ever guide us. O LORD, let your divine mercy be upon our souls that we might be forgiven all our sins; all our doubts and fears be washed away in the blood of your Son.  He has been rejected by the builders, but those who are pressed hard by the trials of this earthly life know the wonders He does for all who believe.  He was once dead but now is alive, and we who believe in Him are raised up from all sin to look upon Heaven.  In His wounds we find new life.…

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April 6 - Saturday of the Octave of Easter

2013-04-05
Length: 5s

(Acts 4:13-21;   Ps.118:1,14-21;   Mk.16:9-15)   “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.”   How faithfully Peter and John accomplish the Lord’s command, and with what strength, so much so that our first reading tells us, “The priests and elders were amazed as they observed [their] self-assurance” – for these “were uneducated men of no standing.”  “How can this be?” they must have queried inside.  “Then they recognized these men as having been with Jesus.”  And so the answer had come: it is from Him all power derives.  In His Spirit all God’s disciples “declare the works of the Lord.” And how wonderfully silenced the leaders of the people are: “When they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could think of nothing to say.”  For the works of the Lord speak for themselves, and the power of the Spirit cannot be denied.  And though these priests of the Old Covenant attempt to silence the glory of God, telling Peter and John “that under no circumstances were they to speak the name of Jesus or teach about Him,” these first of apostles declare confidently, “We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.”  Indeed, “a remarkable show of power [takes] place in them.” And what have they heard and seen?  Our gospel tells us: “Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week.”  From Mary Magdalene, to whom He first appeared, “they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her.”  And the same “good news” is announced to them by the two disciples who had sojourned to Emmaus.  And though “they refused to believe it,” and though when “Jesus was revealed to the Eleven,” when they saw His risen presence for themselves, He chastised them “for their disbelief and their stubbornness” – though the doubt from human corruption still clings to them, it shall no longer be so (as evidenced by Peter and John) when Pentecost has come.  In the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the Word shall be preached and believed in strength and power. “The right hand of the Lord has struck with power.”  “The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” has come now in fullness to all His children who hear and see and declare that the Lord is risen.  “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior,” sing all the redeemed.  As the psalmist “give[s] thanks to the Lord” and the people who had witnessed the great work wrought through the apostles “were praising God for what had happened,” so joy is unbounded for all who enter the “gates of justice” and know in their bones the power of the Spirit at work through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  Brothers and sisters, let your joy be known by all; declare the good news to all the earth, that light may come to a world in darkness. ******* O LORD, let the Good News of your Son’s resurrection be proclaimed to all believing souls.  YHWH, your right hand has struck with power, and what can we do but declare the glory of your risen Son by the Spirit that is now upon us?  Though we be uneducated men of no standing in this world, yet you make us instruments of your salvation as we proclaim what we have heard and seen and believed – Jesus is indeed raised from the dead and in His Name all souls are raised with Him. And so, let us enter your House and praise your glory, O LORD our God.  Let us not stand outside the gates doubting the Word that comes to us or even persecuting the bearers of such Good News.  Let us believe!  Let us believe because it is Truth, undeniable, standing before us in the light of day and burning in our hearts. May all who seek your kingdom be delivered from death and come to you in joy, LORD, by the power of the Spirit Jesus imparts to us.…

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April 5 - Prayer to St. Vincent Ferrer

2013-04-04
Length: 1s

O great preacher who taught so well the love of God and the precepts of the Church, who worked with such zeal to repair the breach within the Church in a time of corruption – pray that now the Word may again go forth to the ends of the earth, that all might hear the voice of the Spirit speaking in their hearts and turn resolutely from their sins to the grace of the Lord; and pray, too, there will be priests to preach God’s Word with that same loving zeal you had for the Church and every soul.  …

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April 5 - Friday of the Octave of Easter

2013-04-04
Length: 6s

(Acts 4:1-12;   Ps.118:1-2,4,22-27;   Jn.21:1-14)   “Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone.’”   What Peter has proclaimed to the people, he now proclaims even more boldly to their leaders: “There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.”  Jesus, whom they crucified, is the Messiah.  And the same quote Jesus offered the Pharisees after making it clear to them they would lose dominion over God’s vineyard – over His people, over His Church – Peter invokes before the high-priestly class today… for here standing before them is the new authority on earth.   And so, here the Church is gathered, under Peter and the apostles.  This day of preaching in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit has brought about five thousand children to God, and there shall be no stopping the power of the Word which goes forth to draw in all believers.  On the Church goes “proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus.” Our gospel today is the perfect parallel to our first reading, and reveals just from where the power of the apostles’ preaching comes.  First, it shows Peter as the clear leader.  He says among the seven – the number of fullness – disciples assembled: “I am going out to fish.”  And they reply: “We will join you.”  All night they toil in vain.  Why?  Because they lack the cornerstone who comes to them in the morning.  (Notice in our first reading Peter and John are put in jail for the night to await their trial in the morning. But, ironically, this night is less of a prison than the one spent toiling in vain on the sea… for this day they have been most fruitful; for by this time they have been anointed by the Spirit.) In the morning Jesus stands upon the shore and instructs them where to cast their net, much as He did when first He called His fishermen apostles.  And like that morning, their catch is overwhelming.  John cries, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumps into the water to swim to His Jesus as the others tow the net and fish behind him.  Once all have come to land, it is Peter who goes “aboard and haul[s] ashore the net loaded with sizable fish” and drops it at the Lord’s feet.  But it is the single fish Jesus has prepared which is most important, with which they must begin their feast.  For Jesus is that fish Himself, the cornerstone upon whom the tallest of buildings stands.  And see how He feeds them as at the Eucharistic table: “Jesus came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”  Here the Bread of Life is distributed to those who shall impart it to all others. One hundred and fifty-three (the number of Hail Marys in a full Rosary, pre-Mysteries of Light) fish are gathered by the disciples in a net beyond the point of breaking.  Five thousand men are drawn into the fold by Peter and John’s fearless speaking.  God’s Church is here built up on the cornerstone that is Jesus; and so we exclaim with our psalmist today: “O Lord, grant salvation!  O Lord, grant prosperity!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord.  The Lord is God, and He has given us light.”  Amen. ******* O LORD, by the resurrection of your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit upon His apostles may your Church be filled to overflowing with believing souls. YHWH, the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of your Church, and we are built upon Him and upon the Rock He has set in place as the first of His apostles.  From the hands of the leaders of the Jews divine power has been wrested, for now Peter is your high priest and John your scribe.  Now only in the Name of Jesus is salvation to be won, and all who come to Him and eat at His table enter into your House. This is the day you, LORD, have made.  Let us rejoice in the blessings now upon us in your Son.  For now we are raised from the dead; now we share in His glory… now we know your merciful love and are given strength to do your work in this world. On the flesh of your Son let us feed, O LORD; His Body let us be.  Led by Peter may we come to Him who waits for us upon the shore – in the morning light let us praise your glory!…

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April 4 - Prayer to St. Isidore

2013-04-03
Length: 1s

O learned man whose wisdom remained not only in the mind but found practice in the Church of God, you who read and studied Scripture not just for its own sake but that the Word might be implemented amongst your flock – pray we too might live with the Word of God, that we too might share the light He would impart to every soul. Pray God’s grace touch our innermost minds, that the understanding our ear receives will penetrate to our heart; and pray, dear shepherd, that God’s Word permeate His Church as a whole, led by servants as learned as you in the way of love and truth.  …

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April 4 - Thursday of the Octave of Easter

2013-04-03
Length: 5s

(Acts 3:11-26;   Ps.8:2,5-9;   Lk.24:35-48)   “In His name, penance for the remission of sins is to be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”   And so Peter begins the preaching at the temple: “When God raised up His servant, He sent Him to you first to bless you by turning you from your evil ways,” he announces clearly to the Jews, those first to hear of the Savior, Jesus.  And again he speaks boldly and repeatedly of their sin: “You disowned the Holy and Just One…  You put to death the Author of life,” for it is absolutely essential that they recognize their guilt if they are to find their salvation.  How can they repent of what they do not see?  How can “a season of refreshment be granted” through Jesus if they do not know that they are despoiled?  And brothers and sisters, it is certainly no different for us.  We must recognize our own complicity in the Lord’s death or we shall have no place with Him in life.  Hear the message of His apostle: “Reform your lives!  Turn to God, that your sins may be wiped away!”  If you have nothing to reform, how are you a hearer of the Good News?  And if your repentance falls short of knowing the blood of Christ upon your hands, how ineffective it will be. “All the prophets… have announced the events of these days.”  “God has brought to fulfillment by this means what He announced long ago: that His Messiah would suffer.”  What Peter proclaims, Jesus confirms in His own teaching to the disciples, “It is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,” as “He opened their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.”  What must be has been, and now is – Jesus has died and risen.  “Look at my hands and my feet; it is really I,” He says to His incredulous apostles.  And so in “flesh and bones” the Truth has become known, and this same flesh we eat each day. The disciples same “sheer joy and wonder” we should share, brothers and sisters.  For what is theirs is ours, too.  Though “out of ignorance” we crucified Him, in grace we now know Him.  And so should we not cry out, “O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth!”  Should His blessed care for this sinful man not make us incredulous with joy?  For though man is guilty of the Lord’s own death, yet He has “made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.”  How little we deserve the Messiah, now glorified in heaven, to be with us; but oh how generous He is.  No “power or holiness of our own” has brought us to life – it is His forgiveness that has made us whole. ******* O LORD, let us proclaim the Name of your risen Son to all men. YHWH, how wonderful is the Name of your Son throughout all the earth, for by it all men are healed – all are raised up from their sin and made whole again.  With what wonder we should look upon Him risen from the dead; and with what faith we should believe in Him. O LORD, in the Name of Jesus let penance for the remission of sins be preached to all nations.  Beginning at Jerusalem and going forth to the ends of the earth, let it be known that the Messiah has suffered and died and been raised on the third day.  May all souls be taught by the apostles you send forth – may we come to understanding of the Scriptures and turn from our sin. O let us all rejoice in the newness of life He brings! the season of refreshment upon us in His Name.  O LORD, let us reform our lives and turn to you that with Him whom you have glorified we might be one.…

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April 3 - Wednesday of the Octave of Easter

2013-04-02
Length: 4s

(Acts 3:1-10;   Ps.105:1-9;   Lk.24:13-35)   “The Lord is risen!  It is true!”   And how it is proven this day!  The two disciples find their “hearts burning inside” as He “explain[s] the Scriptures” to them on the road to Emmaus, and then they come “to know Him in the breaking of bread.”  “The Eleven and the rest of the company” of disciples rejoice in Jerusalem because “He has appeared to Simon.”  And the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate is pulled up by Peter “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean,” and he goes “into the temple with [Peter and John] – walking, jumping about, and praising God.”  “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” Brothers and sisters, the Church is as this crippled beggar at the temple gate; it is as these confused disciples sojourning for answers to their deepest questions and fears – it is the whole company assembled and astounded and declaring with joy the truth of God’s presence among us.  To the beggar the Lord says with Peter, “Look at us!”  To those on the road to Emmaus He says, “How slow you are to believe!”  And to all He appears in the breaking of the bread.  The beggar He heals; in the seeker He instills faith; and to us all He leaves His Blessed Sacrament, the greatest proof of His presence. “Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.”  And as great as His healing may be, as wonderful as His teaching is, the greatest of these is the table He sets before us and the Body and Blood with which He nourishes us.  Here is His love most known, here where we “give thanks to the Lord” and “invoke His name.”  For in this we are healed, in this His teaching is made real – until the end of time this shall stand as proof of His presence… in this is ever declared, “The Lord is risen!” “He remembers His covenant which He made binding for a thousand generations.”  Never shall this blessing leave us, brothers and sisters.  Always we have His Word at work within us, and always we share His Body and His Blood.  Here He remains “powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people.”  Let us not fail to declare all He has done for us; let us never be afraid to proclaim His truth.  For then all shall be “struck with astonishment”; then all shall know the Risen Lord. ******* O LORD, in our astonishment let us rejoice at Jesus’ risen presence among us. YHWH, your Son has been raised and for this we praise you, for it means our salvation – we who were once crippled by sin, by His death and resurrection are made whole again, and so the words of your prophets are fulfilled.  May we recognize Him each day in the breaking of the Bread, and may we live with Him now and forever. O LORD, let us invoke the Name of your only Son and we shall know His salvation, we shall know the grace and mercy that pour forth from His sacrifice.  He had to suffer and die at the hands of His own people that His people and all who would come to Him might be saved from their sin.  For this blessing He has imparted to us let us dance and sing on this holy day. Jesus is the One who sets all men free; dear LORD, let us know His risen presence in our midst this very hour and always.…

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April 2 - Prayer to St. Francis of Paola

2013-04-01
Length: 1s

O little one, holy and true, who wanted no more than to leave the world that you might draw closer to Christ but who was followed by the world and called to teach the world of the way of holiness in our blessed Lord – pray we shall follow His path of Passion and death, death to self and all animosity, all hatred, finding thereby His peace, peace in His Spirit and light. O that we might be sanctified! our hearts converted to God, following your example, which leads to the Cross and so the resurrection of our humble Jesus.…

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April 2 - Tuesday of the Octave of Easter

2013-04-01
Length: 5s

(Acts 2:36-41;   Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22;   Jn.20:11-18)   “Let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt that God has made both Lord and Messiah this Jesus whom you crucified.”   Brothers and sisters, we are all as Mary Magdalene who “stood weeping beside the tomb,” and like the Jews who were “deeply shaken” by the words of Peter.  Though it is to the Chosen people “that the promise was made,” it extends “to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls.”  To all sinners, to all who ask His apostles, “What are we to do, brothers?” the Lord responds: “Reform and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven”; indeed, then we “shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – then our eyes shall be opened to His presence among us as we turn to Him in tears. “She turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there,” this greatest of sinners become most faithful disciple.  And as He speaks the name of her who cares only for Him – “Mary!” – so He calls “each one” of us who come to Him in our desperation by name; so He cares for all sinners who love Him and seek Him with all their heart.  And the same joy that she has known shall also be ours; we shall declare, “I have seen the Lord!” to all who wait to hear of Him. “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray,” Peter urges his fellow Jews on Pentecost day, and “some three thousand” accepted his message and were baptized.  Here is where the Church begins to grow, here among those who crucified the Lord – here among His own brothers in the flesh.  And though the message is primarily to them this day, indeed it is for all who would be grafted to this tree of life, to this race of whom Jesus is come.  For, indeed, it is so that all are sinners, that all bear the guilt of His crucifixion; and so to all who hear His call for repentance, forgiveness may come, and the Spirit follow. “The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him… to deliver them from death.”  What was sung of under the Old Covenant is even more true today; and so let what was true of those faithful under the Old be so with us now.  Let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord.”  Let us declare, “Upright is the word of the Lord,” and the Word in its fullness shall be ours, and the tears we cry shall be answered quickly by our Lord and Savior who calls us each by name. ******* O LORD, let us ascend to where your Son is, far from this world of sin, even to your side. YHWH, baptized in tears we cry out to you that we might see your only Son, that we might know He is risen from the dead and sits now at your right hand.  Leave us not alone in this world with our sins and weakness, but let your Word please strengthen us; in your mercy deliver us from death. We have crucified the Holy One; we have killed our Lord.  The Messiah has come to save us from our sins, to reunite us with you, O God, and we have turned away from Him and laid Him in a tomb.  And what are we to do now?  What can save us now that our very life we have murdered? O LORD, let us be truly repentant of our sins and baptized in the Name of the One you have raised from the dead.  To Him let us cling this day, to Him who has ascended on high.  In Jesus may we be blessed to make our home, freed from the darkness of the tomb.…

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April 1 - Monday of the Octave of Easter

2013-03-31
Length: 4s

(Acts 2:14,22-33;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11;   Mt.28:8-15)   “You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.”   “It was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him.”  And so “the paths of life” we now walk; “joy in [His] presence” is ours – “in confidence” we abide forever.  For God has “raised Him up again,” this Jesus, our Lord.  Let us be witnesses of His truth to the ends of the earth.  Like Peter, our Holy Father, let us be faithful to the Word at work within us.  As the women “ran to carry the good news to [Jesus’] disciples” that He, the Lord, was no longer in the tomb, in the belly of this earth, the guards ran to the chief priests, who concocted a lie.  See how the ways diverge between truth and lie.  And see today the power with which Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, stands up even amongst those who had Jesus crucified, and proclaims the truth of the risen Lord.  And God is with Him.  He has heard the Lord’s words: “Peace!” and “Do not be afraid!”  He knows full well that his soul will never be abandoned to the netherworld; he has life at work in him, the life that comes from “the resurrection of the Messiah.”  And so he witnesses in strength, as do our popes to this day. Let us “live on in hope,” brothers and sisters, “half-overjoyed and half-fearful,” though only with the fear of God which overwhelms our souls, and He will be before us always, speaking words of peace; and we will see Him walking in the places He was wont to walk on earth… and we will see Him walking everywhere we walk.  For by our side will He be constantly in the power of the Spirit to lead and guide us always unto Life, the life that is already with us and will never leave us.  The Lord is risen, alleluia!  The powers of death and hell shall never touch us, for in Him alone do we “take refuge,” He alone is our “allotted portion and cup” – in Him alone do we believe, and so we “shall not be disturbed” even by the darkness of night.  The Light has dawned; in Him let our souls rejoice. ******* O LORD, let us take refuge in your Son, who was not abandoned to the nether world but lives and goes before us this day.  YHWH, in your Son we find the path to life, the path upon which the Spirit guides us.  In His resurrection we are preserved from death and take eternal refuge.  Nothing shall disturb us now that Jesus has been raised from the dead, for death no longer has power over us.  Let us have but faith in Him and in His reassuring presence among us. O LORD our God, our hope is in you and in the One who sits upon your throne.  He is the Son of David who has conquered death and in whom there is no corruption.  And if we believe that He is the One, to the grave we shall not come.  For in Him we enter life. The lies of this world let us leave far behind, O LORD.  In truth alone let us make our home and the Spirit of Truth will be upon us to free us from death’s bitter pangs.  He has died that we might live; let us find our peace in Him.…

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March 31 - Easter Sunday

2013-03-29
Length: 5s

(Acts 10:34a,37-43;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24;   Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8;   Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35)   “Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.”   “His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.”  With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.”  Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin. Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin.  “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him.  To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.”  “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him. Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there.  Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.”  Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace.  Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven.  And His kingdom shall not be removed. Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children.  Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.”  Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament.  May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers.  Let us pray that all will believe.   Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.   Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised; the tomb is empty and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia! YHWH, your Son has truly been raised.  Alleluia!  And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church.  Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory.  Alleluia! Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us.  In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men.  Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom. O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you.  O let us die and be raised with Christ!  Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised.  Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory.  Alleluia!  …

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Share: March 31 - Easter Sunday


March 30/31 - Easter Vigil

2013-03-29
Length: 6s

(Gn.1:1-2:2;   Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22;   Gn.22:1-18;   Ps.16:5,8-11;   Ex.14:15-15:1;   Ex.15:1-6,17-18;   Is.54:5-14;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Is.55:1-11;   Is.12:2-6;   Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4;   Ps.19:8-11;   Ez.36:16-17a,18-28;   Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4; Rom.6:3-11;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23;   Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12)   “He is not here.”   The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning.  What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.” This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven.  “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament.  From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him.  Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy. Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.”  And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.”  Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”  He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.”  We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.”  For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home.  And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.” Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin.  And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.”  Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day.  Let us be children of this holy Light.  No longer in the tomb let us dwell. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (third part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised, and we shall be raised with Him. YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him.  It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said.  The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven. You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our souls and raise us to you, even from the time of Creation.  And so you called Abraham to sacrifice his son; and so you led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Your Wisdom has been upon your people every step of our way that we might be wed to you in your eternal kingdom. And now in the death and resurrection of your Son you fulfill your will among us.  And now we who are baptized into His death are raised to glory with Him.  Let it be declared to all, LORD, that the Christ is no longer in the tomb, but awaits us all in new life.    …

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Share: March 30/31 - Easter Vigil


March 29 - Good Friday

2013-03-28
Length: 5s

(Is.52:13-53:12;   Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46;   Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9;   Jn.18:1-19:42)   “He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”   Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross.  Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.”  Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.”  The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.”  And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven.  Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.”  Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’  And they struck Him repeatedly.”  But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God. Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.”  Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.”  Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”  For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake.  “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.”  And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well. “He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.”  The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds.  And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom.  And for this we call this Friday “good.”   Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.   Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (second half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son – may we look upon Him whom we have pierced that our sins might be forgiven.  YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away.  All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression.  Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death. And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed.  This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory.  O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him! There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest.  LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.…

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Share: March 29 - Good Friday


March 28 - Holy Thursday

2013-03-27
Length: 5s

(Ex.12:1-8,11-14;   Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6;   1Cor.11:23-26;   Jn.13:1-15)   “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”   For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord.  And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord.  “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”  As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit. “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy.  Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood.  And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes. “He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.”  He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.”  And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles.  And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth.  And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day. And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.”  Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness.   Writen, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.   Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, let us be washed clean in the blood of your Son, and so protected from all harm; let us live in His New Covenant, eating His Body and drinking His Blood.  YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name.  Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again. In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood.  At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him.  Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross.  Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom. He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!…

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Share: March 28 - Holy Thursday


March 27 - Wednesday of Holy Week

2013-03-26
Length: 4s

(Is.50:4-9;   Ps.69:8-10,21-22,31,33-34;   Mt.26:14-25)   “The Son of Man is departing, as Scripture says of Him.”   Of Him in Scripture we read, “Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.”  Even as death approaches, even as His betrayer goes forth (perhaps especially at this dark time), He sets His face “like flint” to confront those who oppose Him, those who would destroy Him.  In His own voice He speaks to us in the first reading and the psalm of His trial and His resolve: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard,” though “they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”  And He stands alone before such blasphemy – “I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none.” Though only one of the Twelve betrays Him, all abandon Him in His brokenness; none stands by His side as He “bear[s] insult” in the Name of God.  But the Father does not desert Him: “See, the Lord God is my help.”  “For the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.”  And when He cries from the cross, it is not His fate He bemoans, but our own, whose dark separation from God He takes upon Himself as our guilt He bears. Yes, He must depart in this way; He must suffer at our hands.  But that it is written so, and that by this our souls are made whole, in no way nullifies that we have sinned – sin remains the evil it is.  As for Judas, yet it would have been “better for him if he had never been born,” for the fires of hell are real; and as for the souls who abandon Him, as for all His disciples, it is only through similar darkness that we shall come back to His light. Tears will fill our eyes as we look upon Him whom we have pierced.  Yet, fear not, for the Lord hears the cry of the “lowly ones… who seek God”; and Scripture speaks just as faithfully of the third day. ******* O LORD, zeal for your House consumes your Son, and so He is betrayed by one of His own for thirty pieces of silver.  YHWH, your Son is betrayed by one who sits at table with Him, and by all He will be abandoned, left alone to die upon a cross.  Yet He goes as you call Him; freely He accomplishes your will, with complete faith in your protection, with the strength found only in your love.  O help us to be as He is! to bear all with patience, to so freely offer our backs for beating and our faces for spitting upon. O how shall we go from putting gall in His food to being fed at His table in the kingdom if you do not help us, O LORD our God?  We have no hope if you have no mercy on our poor souls.  Let us find the strength He takes in you. Only one of the Twelve betrays Him, only one hands Him over for crucifixion, but we all line the path He must tread – we are all cause for His shame.  Dear LORD, in His sacrifice may we find freedom from such sin.…

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Share: March 27 - Wednesday of Holy Week


March 26 - Tuesday of Holy Week

2013-03-25
Length: 4s

(Is.49:1-6;   Ps.71:1-6,15,17;   Jn.13:21-33,36-38)   “I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!”   The Lord is with His servant, with Israel, with Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God: “From my mother’s womb you are my strength…  O God, you have taught me from my youth.”  And to this “sharp-edged sword” the Lord had concealed “in the shadow of His arm,” to this “polished arrow” He has hidden in His quiver, God says: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  He who was called from birth, given His name in His mother’s womb, prepared before all the ages, now comes to reveal the glory of God. And how is it “the Son of Man [is] glorified and God is glorified in Him”?  We see in our gospel the moment the glorification begins; we see in our gospel the path by which it comes.  At table at the Last Supper Jesus grows “deeply troubled,” for the time of His betrayal has come.  Judas eats the morsel of food dipped in the dish and “immediately after, Satan entered his heart.”  Then, “no sooner had Judas eaten the morsel than he went out,” and, we are told, “It was night.”  And immediately upon Judas’ leaving, the Lord proclaims His glorification has begun. Here begins the Passion.  Here begins the first of the three days Jesus will spend in the belly of the earth.  How unlike the days the Servant spent in His mother’s womb these days shall be!  And yet it is precisely these days and in this way that what God has prepared for Him and for all creation shall come to its fulfillment.  Now shall the arrow be sharpened fully and shot forth to pierce all men’s hearts with truth – even as the nails pierce His hands and the sword His side.  Through the depths of such absolute darkness, light shall shine forth, and this light shall in time reach to the ends of the world. ******* O LORD, make us glorious in your sight, even as your Son has been glorified by His sacrifice.  YHWH, now the darkness falls upon your Son and He is prepared to be glorified.  In the death He must endure He will be revealed as the light of the world.  Though we cannot follow Him now, let us soon follow where He leads.  Help us, dear God, to lay down our lives with Him that we might come to Heaven. He has been hidden for all ages, concealed in the shadow of your arm, LORD; but now this arrow is shot forth, this sword unveiled for all eyes to see.  Now is the time for all to be justified by His holy sacrifice.  O let us join with Him!  Let us not fear the darkness which sets upon this corrupted earth but suffer its betrayal with the patience of the Son of Man. In Him let us take our refuge, LORD; let us be one with your Servant.  To this world help us bring His light, you who have been our trust from our Mother’s womb. Now the time has come.  Now all shall abandon Him.  Now by the Suffering Servant shall all be saved.…

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Share: March 26 - Tuesday of Holy Week


March 25 - Monday of Holy Week

2013-03-24
Length: 4s

(Is.42:1-7;   Ps.27:1-3,13-14;   Jn.12:1-11)   “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations.”   He has come “to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who dwell in darkness.”  “He establishes justice on the earth,” and this justice is His bringing light to our darkness.  But He could not release us from the dungeon unless He Himself had entered the dungeon.  How else could light penetrate the darkness?  And so He not only enters the veil of flesh, humbling Himself to be born as a man, but also gives Himself up to the death we all must die – in our own form He pays the wages of our sin, that we might be released from its prison. How could we “be stouthearted” “when evildoers come at [us] to devour [our] flesh,” we who are so weakened by the scourges of sin, if He had not strengthened us by standing in our stead?  How could we truly say with David, “Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust,” if He had not defeated the enemy which comes against us?  We can say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” only because Jesus has brought God’s justice into our very midst, to our flesh and to our bone, by entering into the world of darkness we have created and taking upon Himself the death we deserved. Lazarus, who sits at table with Jesus a week before His own death, is a sign of our release from the dungeon, from the tomb of our sin.  As “Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him on account of Lazarus,” so should all be drawn to the promise of new life which the Lord shall fulfill now in His death and resurrection.  And as we enter Holy Week, as we prepare ourselves for the great mysteries of our faith, how appropriate for Jesus to sit at table “in the land of the living” with this dead man.  See that He will sit with us all just so in the kingdom of heaven. Now the light comes; now justice is done.  The aromatic fragrance of His holy sacrifice fills this house, and darkness shall be banished forever. ******* O LORD, your Son is the light which saves us even from death; let us die and rise with Him. YHWH, as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so all who believe will be raised with Him and sit at His table in Heaven.  As He defended Mary from Judas’ attack, so He will advocate for us all against the accusations of the evil one, so we will be protected from all condemnation and come into the light of your presence.  Though we dwell as if in a dungeon here, release we shall soon find in the offering of your Son.  From all our enemies we shall be saved; let us stand fast with Jesus. The fragrance of the Spirit fills our souls even as darkness closes in.  O LORD, your promise to us is sweet indeed and gives us courage in this world.  For what victory has our Savior not won, what power has withstood His justice?  And so, even death He tramples underfoot as in a tomb He is laid.…

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Share: March 25 - Monday of Holy Week


March 23 - Prayer to St. Turibio de Mogrovejo

2013-03-22
Length: 1s

O missionary shepherd whose love for the truth was a love for Christ and a desire for your flock to know Him and the way to glorify God, you who gave yourself for the Truth that is Christ and for His Church on earth, through whom He teaches all men and brings them into His fold – may we, too, lay down our lives and work as hard as you have done in the name of Jesus, that all our lives and the lives of all His flock might be in accord with the will of the Lord and faithful to the Mother He has left for our care; let all that is not of God be cast from our midst by the Spirit of Truth this day.  …

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Share: March 23 - Prayer to St. Turibio de Mogrovejo


March 24 - Passion Sunday

2013-03-22
Length: 5s

(Is.50:4-7;   Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24;   Phil.2:6-11; Mt.26:14-27:66  or  Mk.14:1-15:47  or  Lk.22:14-23:56)   “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”   “The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus.  “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly.  The sins of us all demand the death of the Son.  And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery.  And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him.  And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God.  “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.”  Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man?  Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God?  What more need you to believe?  O let His blood pour upon you! Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him.  Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.”  Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.”  Let His blood pour upon your soul.   Written, read & chanted, and published by James Kurt.   Music: "My God. My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (first half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, your Son humbles Himself to die on a cross for us, and we can but lay Him in a tomb – how shall we be saved?  YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men.  He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest. All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone.  None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross.  No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse splayed upon the Cross. O LORD our God, let us not fail to repent of our sin, of our crucifying the Son of Man.  Let us not fail to recognize who He is and what He has done for us in His Person and death.  This day let us partake of His Body and Blood that we might be taken with Him from the Skull place to your right hand in Heaven.…

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Share: March 24 - Passion Sunday


March 23 - Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent

2013-03-22
Length: 5s

(Ez.37:21-28;   Jer.31:10-13;   Jn.11:45-57)   “My sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.”   Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to “gather [His people] from all sides to bring them back to their land”; He is the “one prince for [us] all” by whom God makes complete the “everlasting covenant” with us: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  It is He “who make[s] Israel holy,” who makes us all one in Himself.  And so, “no longer shall [we] defile [our]selves,” but we “shall live by [His] statutes and carefully observe [His] decrees” now written upon our hearts by the power of the Spirit upon His flesh and blood. In our gospel the Sanhedrin fear the loss of the Jewish nation on earth when they say, “The Romans will come and sweep away our sanctuary and our nation” because of the wonders Jesus performs and the power He has over all people.  So when Caiaphas asks, “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” it is of the protection of the temple and its worship he speaks and which is his concern.  But, of course, he unwittingly prophesies the salvation of all in the eternal, heavenly Temple of the New Jerusalem, where Jesus “gather[s] into one all the dispersed children of God.” Yes, “Jesus would die for the nation”; He would give Himself that all might live.  The plan “to kill Him” He shall allow to bear fruit; though all are on the lookout to apprehend Him, yet He shall come to the feast to offer Himself as the spotless Lamb of Passover, to purge the nation of its sins and protect it from final damnation.  And so, “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, He guards them as a shepherd His flock.”  And so we should “come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil” – so we should come now and consume His Body and His Blood.  For the New Covenant is now set in place; His sanctuary is here among us.  And forever He is seated in the heavenly kingdom to make intercession for us and for the purging of our sins, to draw into the presence of the Father all His holy children. He is “likely to come to the feast,” brothers and sisters, for the feast would be nothing without Him.  It is His sacrifice alone which “turn[s] our mourning into joy,” which “shall make [all] merry and dance” in the sanctuary of God’s love. ******* O LORD, by the blood of your Son gather into one all your dispersed children.  YHWH, your feast is prepared and we are called now to enter in to the dancing and joy of your kingdom.  Your sanctuary is set up in our midst, your Son has come into our presence, and so we become one holy nation in Him.  Though He must die to save us and unite us, He shall face such a fate openly, and so lead us to the heights of Zion. Up to Jerusalem Jesus comes with all the people for the Passover feast.  The Temple you have set up comes now to the temple made by human hands; and though the latter shall soon be destroyed, the former shall never pass away but be set up forever as our dwelling place.  O let us worship you, LORD, in your holy Temple! Jesus is indeed our salvation and the New Covenant founded in His Body and Blood is now among us.  O LORD, let your sacrificial Lamb be prince over us that we may come streaming to His blessings.…

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March 22 - Friday of the 5th Week of Lent

2013-03-21
Length: 4s

(Jer.20:10-13;   Ps.18:2-7;   Jn.10:31-42)   “He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”   As Jeremiah’s persecutors surround him on every side but are “put to utter shame” when he calls out to the Lord, so as the Jews “again tried to arrest Him,” Jesus again “eluded their grasp.”  And so when “the breakers of death surged around [us], the destroying floods overwhelmed [us]...” so when our sins seemed to have conquered our souls, the Lord came to save us. Evil is all around.  Always there is “terror on every side!” and those who would shout, “Denounce!  Let us denounce him!” because of our missteps, because of our stumbling into sin.  Ever the devil is on the watch to trap us with his wiles and cast our souls into “the netherworld.”  But always, too, the Lord is present, and when to Him we entrust our cause, saying with David, “O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,” whenever we call upon His name, He hears and saves us from “the snares of death.”  “Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies,” David sings.  “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord,” Jeremiah echoes, and he, too, is safe.  All who call upon Him He hears, and affords them His salvation. “The Jews reached for rocks to stone Him,” but still He called to their hearts: “Many good deeds have I shown you from the Father.  For which of these do you stone me?”  Still He invites them to look upon the good works He has done in His Father’s name to see that He is indeed the Son; still He desires their salvation.  The signs He performs are recognized by many people who thus “come to believe in Him,” but the hardness of heart of these the leaders continues to blind their eyes to the truth of what John the Baptist said and what He is.  This ignorance shall find its ultimate expression soon in the crucifixion of the Son of God; but even from this the Lord shall deliver Him – and by this sacrifice we shall all be saved.  And many more will come to know thereby that He is God.  The Lord rescues all our souls when we cry out to Him.  Let us put all trust in His saving grace. ******* O LORD, thank you for hearing our cries; from death you have delivered us by the grace of your Son  YHWH, let us come to believe that Jesus is your Son, one with you and the source of our salvation.  You rescue from the power of the wicked all who put their trust in Him; even from death we are preserved by taking our refuge in Him.  And so, why should we doubt His divinity? In our distress you looked upon us, dear LORD, and heard us as we called out to you; and so you sent your only Son to answer our deepest prayers.  We were enmeshed in the snares of death but from the netherworld you saved our souls, giving us safety in the blood of Jesus, the Christ.  We thank you and we praise you, O God, for your grace upon us. O let us ever praise your Name, our LORD and God, and we shall be ever safe from our enemies.  Let us take our refuge in the flesh of your Son and nothing shall ever harm us.  May our cry always come to your ears.…

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March 21 - Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent

2013-03-20
Length: 5s

(Gn.17:3-9;   Ps.105:4-9;   Jn.8:51-59)   “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”   Abraham is a great man, the blessed patriarch, to whom God made the promise: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”  So Abraham becomes “the father of a host of nations,” not just by lineage, but by faith in the promise God has given him and the keeping of the covenant with Him.  Abraham is father to all who believe in the one God: the sons of Israel, the Jews; the sons of Ishmael, the Muslims; and all who worship the living Lord and “seek to serve Him constantly.” Yet as great as Abraham is, as fertile as he has become, Jesus is the greater and the more prosperous, for He Himself is the Lord our God, from whom Abraham receives his promise and so his greatness.  “Abraham rejoiced that he might see [Jesus’] day.  He saw it and was glad.”  For here come to us is the only Son of the God before whom he “prostrated himself”; here is the Lord of all the nations of whom Abraham is father. Jesus is equal with the Father, coeternal and all-powerful.  He does not make Himself so but receives such glory from the Father, with whom He is always.  How hard it is for the Jews to hear this.  Though according to their faith they have been waiting for just such arrival of the Holy One, of the Messiah, yet their hearts are unable to accept such divine wonder.  And so “they picked up rocks to throw at Jesus” upon His solemn declaration of His divinity. Is it not just so hard for all of us who call ourselves believers to come to terms with the awesome majesty of Jesus our God?  It seems something so far beyond our belief, that God could walk in our midst.  And yet HE IS; and so we must see how much greater than any man He is.  For though fully a man born in time and murdered upon a cross, yet He is God, living forever as Lord of all.  So great a gift, so wonderful a presence, is all that assures us that we “shall never see death” but be as He is, alive in the kingdom as He has promised.  Keep His word, and the Word of Life will be with you. ******* O LORD, a greater than Abraham we have in your Son, for He is God with you – let us live forever in Him.  YHWH, your Son is God with you, dear Father, the great I AM; and He would bring us where you are, to a life that passes not away.  How could we die if we were with you?  For you are Life itself, and your Son with you. Abraham is the father of many nations; many lives came to be through him and all of faith find a father in him who was of the greatest faith.  But you are the Father of Abraham, dear LORD, and Jesus is your Son – and so Jesus Himself is as Abraham’s Father, coming before him and giving life to him as He does. O may He give us life, too, Father on high.  In your Name let Him speak to us of your surpassing glory, a glory He shares with you and which He would share with us (as He has shared it with Abraham) if we would but listen and believe.  Be our God forever, LORD, as you promised Abraham.…

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March 20 - Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

2013-03-19
Length: 5s

(Dn.3:14-20,91-92,95;   Dn.3:52-56;   Jn.8:31-42)   “The truth will set you free.”   Sin binds.  Like the cords with which “the strongest men in [Nebuchadnezzar’s] army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” sin fetters our souls and casts us “into the white-hot furnace.”  “Everyone who lives in sin is the slave of sin.”  But for those like these three faithful servants who “will not… worship the golden statue that [the king of this world] set up,” there is freedom.  For the Lord who is “praiseworthy and exalted above all forever,” who sits “on the throne of [His] kingdom… in the firmament of heaven,” “can save us from the white-hot furnace and from [the king’s] hands.”  For those who “yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God,” sin holds no sway.  And so we find them “unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire,” the angel of God at their side. God sits on His “throne upon the cherubim,” but He “look[s] into the depths.”  And so He sends His Son to walk among us and set us free from slavery to sin.  As Jesus says, “I come forth from God, and am here.”  Here is the Son; here is the true reflection of the Father.  Here, indeed, is Truth itself, by whom we are all set free. How Jesus strove to bring the truth to “those Jews who believed in Him” but struggled in their acceptance.  But the Lord does not pull punches; He does not gloss over the truth, however harsh it may seem.  He tells them plainly, “You are trying to kill me,” and so they do the works of Satan – and so do they sin.  In their pride they deny their sin, and the envious plots in their hearts: “Our father is Abraham,” they argue, and not the evil one.  “We are no illegitimate breed!”  But the truth is that they are, and though it mean His death, Jesus must deliver this truth unto them… for it is all that will set them free. How little it seems the truth is brought to the people today, and so, how few it seems are set free.  As sin goes merrily along, the devil sits laughing…  But God is still God, and the Son is still the Son, and all who give themselves to Him and not the idols of this earth will still find themselves set free.  Brothers and sisters, “if the Son frees you, you will really be free.”  Confront your own sin, and entrust all to Him. ******* O LORD, from your throne on high you send your Son to rescue us from the fires of sin; let us love His words and put faith in Him and you.  YHWH, you alone are God, exalted above all on your glorious throne.  This is truth.  And so, you alone should we worship with heart, mind, and soul.  You alone we should praise.  In you alone we should trust – you alone should be our Father. But how easily we lie and become children of the father of lies; how readily we harden our hearts against your Word, against your truth, LORD, bowing down before the golden statue and going so far as to kill the One who bears your truth to us.  Jesus would convict us of our sins.  He would reveal to us the truth of our fallen nature that we might be saved, that we might be set free from the sin that binds us and casts us into the white-hot furnace.  But our pride will not be broken, and so, trapped within it we remain. O LORD, let us show the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Let us trust our very lives into your hands.  Even in this furnace let us praise your Name, and your Son will come to us to set us free.…

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March 19 - Prayer to St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

2013-03-18
Length: 1s

O righteous man called by God to be foster-father of His only Son and protector of His Mother, you who were obedient to the Spirit, who took Jesus by the hand and led Him from the temple in Jerusalem to the home in Nazareth where Mary made a place for Him – pray that we shall be built into the house of Abraham, the man of faith, into the house of David, your father, into the House the Holy Spirit builds for the faithful even this day, where our Mother waits for us with you and all the saints; pray that we too shall hear the words spoken over you by the Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Master.” Pray we shall be righteous as you.  …

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March 19 - St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

2013-03-18
Length: 5s

(2Sm.7:4-5,12-14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29,37;   Rom.4:13,16-18,22; Mt.1:16,18-21,24a  or  Lk.2:41-51a)  “I will be a father to him, and he shall be my son.” It is through Joseph that Jesus is a son of David and so fulfills the promise to the king made by God: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever,” for He is the heir “raise[d] up” after David “who shall build a house for [His] name.”  “In heaven [the Lord has] confirmed [His] faithfulness,” and on earth He has made it known.  And so Jesus says of God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior!” and we of faith join His refrain. As with Abraham, Joseph is made foster father of Jesus not merely by physical descent from David but “through the righteousness that comes from faith.”  For as Abraham believed and so became “the father of many nations,” so Joseph believed that it was “through the Holy Spirit that [Jesus] ha[d] been conceived” and “did as the angel commanded him and took Mary into his home,” thus becoming a father to Him who would “save His people from their sins.”  Like Abraham “he believed, hoping against hope,” and like Abraham he is blessed. But, of course, Jesus is more than the Son of Joseph; in fact, this is the great sacrifice Joseph makes.  For truly he cares for Him who is more Son to the Father in heaven and Son of Man, born for all the human race.  Evident this is when He is found by Joseph and Mary in the temple after three days and He asks them (a question much like those He might have been putting to the teachers of the faith): “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” and in the curious fact that His parents waited a day before journeying back to Jerusalem to look for Him, for they were “thinking that He was in the caravan” – so much a part of His people had He become. Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man, yet “obedient to them” – Joseph and Mary – He ever was.  And they were ever obedient to the dictates of the Father, that they should care for His only Son.  And so Joseph, husband of Mary, a simple carpenter, fulfills in simple fashion all the Lord had set out for him.  May we, too, by faith fulfill all the care we must take for Jesus, His mother, and His people. Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney. Music composed and performed by Carie Fortney; used by permission. *******  O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever. YHWH, your Son is known as the Son of David, the Son of Joseph the carpenter.  And truly He is the fulfillment of your promise to the king that his son shall ever sit upon the throne.  But He is conceived by the Holy Spirit: He is the Son of God.  Give us the faith of Joseph that we might believe this and take Him into our home. In our houses He would dwell, in our very souls.  Thus would He make them your House, dear Father, as is the soul of His Mother, and the soul of the righteous man we celebrate today.  Your Church let us be, dear God; in faith let us ever remain. Your kindness to us is indeed great, O LORD; your very life you would share with us this day.  In your kingdom let us make our home – your sons and daughters let us be.  Jesus sits upon the throne now, for He is the Christ.  And so, your Covenant stands firm forever: all who believe in Him will be blessed. O LORD, make us righteous in your sight, even as the humble Joseph.  In our lives let your will be done…  In your Son let us make our home.…

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March 18 - Prayer to St. Cyril of Jerusalem

2013-03-17
Length: 1s

O steadfast teacher of the faith whom exile could not keep from proclaiming the truths of Scripture and the Church, whose pastoral zeal called souls to the blessed chamber of our divine Lord Jesus Christ that we might unite with Him who united Himself with us to draw us unto Heaven – pray that the shepherds of the Church shall be just so diligent and faithful as you have consistently been in imparting the Word of God to waiting ears and hearts, that all might be nourished well and so prepared to meet our King and Bridegroom, grace upon grace overflowing in souls led by the Spirit of Truth.  …

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March 18 - Monday of the 5th Week of Lent, Year C

2013-03-17
Length: 4s

(Dn.13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62;   Ps.23:1-6;   Jn.8:12-20)  “Judgment of mine is valid because I am not alone. I have at my side the One who sent me, the Father.” “It is laid down in [the Mosaic] law that evidence given by two persons is valid.”  Thus does the assembly condemn Susanna to death, because the two elders testify as one against her.  But then “God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel,” and so we find a better pair of witnesses – the Spirit and Daniel – to refute the lies of the wicked elders.  And so Daniel, empowered by the Spirit, separates these evil men; and so the lack of integrity and unity in their testimony is exposed; and so “an angel of God shall receive the sentence from Him and split [them] in two” – the “fine lie” they have told will cost them their heads. And can there be any truer witness of two than that which is known in the Father and the Son, both of whom testify, in the Spirit, that Jesus is “the light of the world”?  This great truth cannot be hidden, and so those whose witness is most perfect must speak it, that “no follower of [His] shall ever walk in darkness” but “shall possess the light of life.”  This is the will of God, whose Word is true; and this revelation shall be accomplished despite any deceptions devised by those who walk in darkness. Brothers and sisters, be comforted that the Lord is “at [your] side, with [His] rod and staff that give [you] courage.”  With Him and with His Spirit you shall be saved from all evil.  Be as Susanna in your time of trial: “Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly,” and He will strengthen you and “spread the table before [you] in the sight of [your] foes.”  Taking Him as your witness, you cannot be denied.  And the same justification she has known will be your own. All wicked men shall meet their end, for lies cannot stand and the “past sins” of the false judges shall “come to term.”  There is but one Judge whose verdict is true and lasting, and all those who find refuge in Him and His Father shall stand as He does unto eternity. ******* O LORD, your testimony is true as is that of your Son for the Holy Spirit is upon Him. YHWH, your Son is the light of the world; to this you testify in His every word, in His every action.  He is one with you, O God, and looking upon Him we see your face.  Father in Heaven, your Spirit is upon Jesus to speak the truth – may we know Him well that we might know you. If in you we trust, dear LORD, we shall be saved from every trial.  If we keep our eyes up and looking to Heaven, even through our tears you shall answer our prayers.  None is left alone who calls upon your Name; help comes quickly to those who recognize their need. And so, in your kindness you have sent us Jesus; the Spirit goes forth in His wake.  To your table we are drawn, LORD, where our heads are anointed with holy oil.  No judgment comes upon the soul who trusts in Christ, for He walks only in light… and so it is with those who follow in His way.…

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March 17 - Prayer to St. Patrick

2013-03-16
Length: 1s

O great apostle to the nations who gave up your birthright of freedom for the benefit of others, who went forth in faith, Christ ever above you and before you and all around to protect you who were brought through trial to do His will in bringing God to unbelievers, you who never doubted – pray that we, too, shall spend ourselves for the sake of the Gospel and all souls yet to be gathered to the Lord, that indeed from east and west men shall come and sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of our God, that from the ends of the earth one people shall be drawn to Him… and let us do all without concern for persecution, with the heart of a shepherd you had.  …

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March 17 - Sunday of the 5th Week of Lent, Year C

2013-03-15
Length: 5s

(Is.43:16-21;   Ps.126:1-6;   Phil.3:8-14;   Jn.8:1-11)  “Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal.” In times past the Lord opened “a way in the sea” for the Israelites to pass through, while Pharoah’s army He “snuffed out and quenched like a wick.”  Afterward, He “brought back the captives of Zion” from the lands to which they had been scattered to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  “Great things” the Lord has done for His people, but through the prophet Isaiah He enjoins all to “remember not the events of the past,” to “consider not” these mighty and wondrous deeds.  For as marvelous as His deeds once were, now He proclaims, “See, I am doing something new!”  And indeed, something new is in our midst. We see perfect evidence of this surpassing work in the apostle Paul, who has “accepted the loss of all things” – including any righteousness this former Pharisee may have had by the law – that he may “gain Christ and be found in Him,” for he knew that all good things are to be found in Jesus the Lord.  And now he is but “depending on faith to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Here is the new thing which is done: the only Son has died and been raised from the grave, never to die again.  And so Paul seeks to share “of His sufferings,” to be “conformed to His death,” that he too “may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  Nothing else is worth our time or our breath in this world; only this “one thing” calls us upward to God. And see how this new thing has affected the adulterous woman, the sinner who represents us all.  She is brought forward in all her abomination, deserving death for the act she has knowingly committed… yet she leaves Christ’s presence an entirely free woman.  Free not merely to go as she pleases, but free from the sin which should have spelled her condemnation. Here is the new thing as it affects every human soul: the forgiveness of our sins.  And what joy this should bring us!  For if Jesus who is to judge the heart of all sentient beings does not condemn us, who shall stand with stone in hand to punish our transgression?  But heed, my brother, my sister, the Lord’s due warning, if you would truly know the grace of this new thing – “from now on do not sin anymore” – or what is new and bringing refreshment will become old and stale very soon.  Forward we must strive all the days of our lives, leaving well behind our sins; only in heaven will we take full hold of Him who has taken possession of us by His mercy. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Cleansing" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, cleanse us of our sin and draw us into your kingdom. YHWH, great things you have done for us, and so we should announce your praise.  For you have put behind us all our sins and call us upward now to you in your Son.  There seemed no way through this desert, but like torrents of water in the wasteland you have poured your grace upon us; and we are set free, and we escape judgment… and we come running now to you. Something new you indeed accomplish in our midst, something greater than the parting of the Red Sea or the drowning of Pharaoh’s army.  For then you saved your people from certain death, yes, as well as from slavery; but they would soon die anyway, as do all who travel here.  But now it is eternal condemnation from which we are redeemed.  Now everlasting life we strain toward as we embrace Jesus’ holy Cross.  O LORD, let us but know the grace come to us in your Son!  Thank you for your forgiveness.…

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March 16 - Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-15
Length: 4s

(Jer.11:18-20;   Ps.7:2-3,9-12;   Jn.7:40-53)   “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.”   With these words “they were hatching plots against” Jeremiah, and in the same way against Jesus.  And so, “like a trusting Lamb led to slaughter,” “like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue” are they.  But “the malice of the wicked [shall] come to an end.” “The upright of heart” are ever persecuted.  Even Nicodemus, “one of their own number,” a member of the Pharisees who are seeking the life of the Lord, was “taunted” when he “spoke up to say, ‘Since when does our law condemn any man without first hearing him and knowing the facts.’”  But the Lord “sustain[s] the just” “because of the innocence that is” theirs.  In Him do they “take refuge,” and He will not leave them a prey to their teeth. Even the temple guards recognize the power of the word that comes from Christ.  “No man ever spoke like that before,” they state as the reason that “no one laid hands on Him.”  “He is the Messiah,” it is sure, and only the hardest of heart are able to blind themselves to the authority that issues forth from His lips.  But the Lord is the “searcher of mind and heart,” of “heart and soul”; He is the just Judge, the just God, and so even as He rescues the innocent from trial, so He “punishes day by day” the evil man.  Their plots shall come to naught; in vain do they pursue Him.  For though He shall allow them “to apprehend Him,” yet He will be eternally free from their clutches.  Indeed, He will be fixed to a cross.  Indeed, like an innocent lamb He shall not open His mouth to protest or to call upon the angels for assistance.  And they shall think that He is theirs.  But rise from the dead He will, and His Name will be spoken to the ends of the earth.  For nothing can destroy the power of the Word of God. ******* O LORD, though the innocent man be condemned, you are there to save him. YHWH, you save us from every snare of the devil, every plot of the wicked; you do not leave us prey to the lion’s teeth.  Though we be ringed about by our accusers, though with your Son we be crucified, yet we shall not be destroyed – with Him we shall be raised on high. For you, O LORD, are a just Judge; you look into the hearts of all.  You know who is set upon the doing of your will and who would oppose you and your blessed One.  Let us never be a curse unto you.  Though we be condemned by men, in your sight let us ever be holy. No man ever spoke like your Son, dear LORD, for no man else is the Word Himself.  He comes from your very heart, and becomes our daily Bread.  In your House with Him let us make our home, though it mean persecution and certain death.  For in Him we shall be protected always, and brought quickly to your side.…

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March 15 - Friday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-14
Length: 4s

(Ws.2:1,12-22;   Ps.34:17-21,23;   Jn.7:1-2,10,25-30)   “He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is His Father.”   And for such He shall be persecuted; for such He shall be killed.  For to the wicked “He is the censure of [their] thoughts; merely to see Him is a hardship” for those who stray from the Lord’s commands.  And so, in vain attempt to spare themselves the just judgment of the Lord, in their jealousy they say to one another: “With revilement and torture let us put Him to the test”; and so they “condemn Him to a shameful death,” tempting the Lord God to watch over Him. Evil are their thoughts and wicked are their ways.  But the one “they want to kill,” the one “they tried to seize,” escapes their grasp, for indeed the Lord “watches over all His bones; not one of them shall be broken.”  And they cannot take hold of Him unless He so wills it; so, frustrated are their efforts “because His hour had not yet come.” Even when His hour comes and He is delivered into the hands of the prince of darkness, still their violence will not touch Him; yet will He be protected by the Lord, as are all who follow Him.  Yes, David sings of what he knows: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.”  And so, even in distress, even in death, the Lord is near to His chosen ones.  The Lord shall ever be delivered from the grasp of those whose “wickedness blinded them.” Jesus stands up in the temple and cries out: “I was sent by One who has the right to send… it is from Him I come.”  He declares openly that He is the Son of God, and for bringing such light the wicked who would hide their sins seek to destroy Him.  But it shall indeed be proven that He is the Son of the Most High, that God is His Father.  The “recompense of holiness” shall be witnessed by all eyes.  In subjection to their evil plots, in dying upon the wood of the cross, and in His subsequent resurrection, Jesus shall utterly destroy all the power of wicked men and reveal the one true light that shines, that cannot be overcome by darkness. “We know where this man is from,” they say, and so they are blind.  For God the Father is not of this dark earth, and neither is His just Son. ******* O LORD, you care for those reviled by the world; make us as the Just One sent by you. YHWH, the wicked cannot know the origin of your Son for they are blind to you and your holy will.  He is sent by you to suffer and die, but the plots of evil hearts shall not succeed, for His life is ever in your hand.  From the dead He shall be raised and draw all just souls to you. Though the Just One suffer torture and humiliation for His purity, for the truth upon His soul; though those whom He reproaches for their sin seek to put Him to a shameful death; it is so, that none of His bones shall be broken, for you, O LORD, are close to the brokenhearted – those who are crushed in spirit you indeed save. But those who are proud and envious, those who cannot bear the censure of their thoughts, the chastisement of their evil ways… these, O LORD, shall be destroyed even as you draw your just ones whence your Son has come.…

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March 14 - Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-13
Length: 4s

(Ex.32:7-14;   Ps.106:4,19-23;   Jn.5:31-47)   “If you believed Moses you would then believe me, for it was about me that he wrote.”   As Moses wrote, so Jesus speaks.  As Moses wrote, so Jesus is.  The eternal life to which the Scriptures testify is now in our midst.  The Word has come to life; the Law is now fulfilled.  The “form [we] have never seen” now stands before us.  The “voice [we] have never heard” now speaks to our ears.  But do we “have His word abiding in our hearts”?  Do we “believe the one [the Father] has sent”?  “The works the Father has given [Jesus] to accomplish” “testify on [His] behalf.”  Let us exult in their light. The Lord “had done great deeds in the land of Egypt,” “wondrous deeds” and “terrible things” in the sight of the Israelites through His servant Moses.  But “they forgot the God who had saved them,” “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it” instead of the living God.  They could not wait for the Word to come to them; their hearts were not set on Moses’ return from the mountain with the Law of God.  And so, for their lack of faith God “spoke of destroying them.”  The fire of wrath the Lord would have “blazed up against them to consume them” – such was the thought of His heart. But Moses “withstood Him in the breach.”  “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people,” he begs.  And so, because of Moses’ intercession, “the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened on His people” for their lack of faith in Him.  And now it is Jesus who stands in the breach made by our sins, preventing now our eternal punishment at the hands of a righteous God.  For by all accounts we deserve death for our lack of faith; but in His grace the chasm between us and God He fills by stretching out His arms on the cross. Brothers and sisters, let us believe in His redemptive sacrifice.  Let it never be said of us, “You do not have the love of God in your hearts,” for such a state would mean the end of our days.  But God has promised: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.”  About this Moses writes, and the words speak of Jesus, He who is our salvation.  Let us not forget the One who saves us in His love, “on whom we have set [our] hopes.” ******* O LORD, as Moses once stood in the breach to save your people, now Jesus would return us to your love – let us listen to Him. YHWH, help us to believe in your Son and the work of love He accomplishes in our midst; in Him let us recognize your presence.  Let us not turn from such true worship of you who are the only God to worship of the image of a grass-eating bullock or any of the images of this adulterous age.  Let us have your love in our hearts, set ever upon your Word. In your Son is eternal life, LORD; in Him all Scripture is fulfilled.  Of Him Moses has spoken, of Him you yourself have given testimony – let us have faith in His glory, which comes only from you.  Let our hopes be set on the testimony He offers of your presence among us. O LORD, forgive our wayward hearts and minds, which turn so easily to the vain idols of this anxious world.  Punish us not in your wrath but look upon your only Son, who has died for our sins.  …

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March 13 - Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-12
Length: 5s

(Is. 49:8-15;   Ps.145:8-9,13-14,17-18;   Jn.5:17-30)   “Just as the Father possesses life in Himself, so He has granted it to the Son to have life in Himself.”   Here the great mystery of the unity of Father and Son is revealed, and so also our salvation. God is life.  The Father is the great I AM, He who will be what He will be and do what He will do – He who holds the world and all its wonders in His creating Hand.  And Jesus is as He is.  He shares absolutely in the Life that is the Father.  “Speaking of God as His own Father, [He is] thereby making Himself God’s equal.”  And this perfect union is most clearly evident in the fact that “the Father has given over to Him power to pass judgment.”  For who can judge the soul of man but God, and so, who is Jesus but God Himself? And this union of Father and Son in the absolute love that gives proof of the Spirit’s presence, and thus completes the Holy Trinity, is the key to our readings today.  Thus, though the thrust of the Word is our own salvation from sin and death, this is only effected in the love of the Father for the Son – for it is in our own union with Jesus and in His washing us clean from sin by standing in our place upon the cross that we find union with the Father, that we find the Life to which we all are called… in whom we find our home of love. The Lord says, “I will cut a road through all my mountains and make my highways level.”  Jesus the Son is that road by which the Father “comforts His people and shows mercy to His afflicted” by leading them back to Him, guiding them “beside springs of water” that “they shall not hunger or thirst” but “find pasture” in His arms.  For “can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?”  Greater than any mother’s love is the Lord’s love for us, and this He makes known through His only Son. Brothers and sisters, “the dead shall hear the voice of God’s Son, and those who have heeded it shall live.”  Even now the Lord is “saying to the prisoners: Come out!  To those in darkness: Show yourselves!”  Out from the tombs He calls us, for He is “compassionate toward all His works” and desires in His perfect will that all share in His holiness, in His Life.  Let us do right in Him, and as His Son we, too, shall live. ******* O LORD, from the tombs let us come forth at the sound of your Son’s voice. YHWH, you are kind and merciful and so you send your only Son to reveal your loving will, to draw all unto you and so to eternal life.  Let us heed His voice and so your own; let us thus come to your kingdom. On your holy mountain let us make our home, dear LORD.  Though desolate we may be, seemingly abandoned by you, far from your grace… yet you call us back to you and assure us of your loving kindness in the word and the Person of your Son.  You do not forget us; let us not forget the wonders of your love you show us in Jesus. Your Son shall judge all men’s souls.  To Him you have given this power, O LORD.  For He is One with you and does only your will, and so His judgment is your own.  May we be so united with your will and your judgment in Jesus your Son that we shall ever know your surpassing love and come to dwell with you in Heaven.…

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March 12 - Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-11
Length: 4s

(Ez.47:1-9,12;   Ps.46:2-3,5-6,8-9;   Jn.5:1-3,5-16)   “There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High.”   Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our living water. In our first reading, Ezekial speaks of his heavenly vision of the river of God which runs from His holy temple.  The water, which increases as it flows further from its source, eventually “empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.”  Along both banks of the river are trees whose “leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail… for they [are] watered by the flow from the sanctuary.”  Their fruit nourishes and their leaves heal. What is this river and this temple?  What is this sea and who are these fruit trees revealed to the eyes of the prophet?  Brothers and sisters, that Jesus is the river, the healing water, is made poignantly clear in our gospel.  The sick man struggles daily to plunge himself into the healing pool at Bethesda but is never able to find the assistance he needs.  When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed and the man explains his plight, the Lord immediately states: “Stand up!  Pick up your mat and walk!”  The healing waters have come to him, and he is cured. Yes, Jesus is the living water, and the cross is as the temple from which His healing blood flows.  Upon us all who have prepared the cross and set it in place by our sins – which have made our water undrinkable – His grace pours to make us whole… and so we are the salt sea made fresh.  And so the trees on the river’s banks, bearing fresh fruit each of the months, do we become, as we walk in the paths of the twelve apostles… who are first to know His redemptive power, and with whom God becomes “our refuge and our strength.” “Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things He has wrought on earth.”  For by the river that flows from His side He has prepared a people and a kingdom.  And all shall see what Ezekial sees; all shall know what the prophet is shown – the water of the Lord flows out now to the ends of the world, making all whole and fruitful by His prese  ******* O LORD, let us be watered by the flow from your sanctuary, healed by your only Son that we might bear fruit as your holy Church. YHWH, your Son is the healing water that cleanses us of our sins and makes us whole in your sight.  The blood flowing from His side is the source of our salvation.  May we wash in this river and have our hearts made new that we might bear fruit unto Heaven. O LORD, may Ezekial’s vision be our own; may we sit with you on the banks of the River in your holy Paradise, where all shall be fed by the fruit of the trees there and healed by the medicine of their leaves.  In your Church, founded on the twelve apostles, let us make our home, for there we shall rest in you, there we shall be as the Body of your Son, His blood flowing through our veins.  To newness of life let us come, dear LORD, raised from our sickness by a word from your mouth.  Your Temple is with us in your Son who walks among us…  May the healing graces He brings forth increase even to the ends of the earth.                                                                …

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March 11 - Monday of the 4th Week of Lent

2013-03-10
Length: 5s

(Is.65:17-21;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Jn.4:43-54)   “You changed my mourning into dancing.”   Here in the midst of Lent we find the purpose of all our suffering, the hope to which we all are called.  “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”  And thus does this time of penance and fasting lead to the abundance found in Easter joy.  For what is darkness but the world in which we dwell, and what is the dawn but the coming of Jesus to our hearts, the kingdom of heaven within us?  And even in the midst of this darkness, the light begins to shine.  “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” the Lord says.  And today we hear that reassuring voice speaking to our waiting souls. In our gospel today we find a marvelous sign of the light that follows the darkness, of the joy that follows sorrow.  A Gentile royal official, a man in darkness for his being apart from the chosen race – and whose darkness is compounded by his position of authority there – comes to the King of the Jews, the Light of God.  In sorrow he mourns the imminent death of his son, and so the darkness is quite complete.  But the man’s son shall not die, and neither shall the Gentile race.  For it is great faith he shows.  Enlightened by the One he seeks, he believes, and so his son is saved by the Son of the Most High, and so he enters the fold of Heaven.  What greater joy could he have hoped to find, for not only is his son “brought… up from the netherworld,” but indeed he (and the race he represents) is “preserved… from among those going down into the pit.”  No greater words of joy could we read than these: “He and his whole household thereupon became believers.” Brothers and sisters, the Lord has made us to be a people of “rejoicing and happiness.”  He tells us so today through the prophet Isaiah: “I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.”  This is our destiny; this is our call.  If we must suffer for a time in this land of darkness, in this time of penance, let us be assured of the fullness of joy that comes Easter morning: “No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying.”  Yes, how particularly marvelous it is to hear of this light before us even as we stand in the midst of the darkness; what even greater joy do we feel!  The Lord conquers all.  He wishes only life for our soul.  And that life is upon us even this day.  At the wedding feast we shall dance: “sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”                                                                                                 ******* O LORD, no sign should we need of your love for us; only give us new life in you. YHWH, what sign need we that you love us and desire to save us from the darkness and death that envelop this fallen world?  For your Son has come and walked among us, and so your mercy is now near.  Create your new heavens and your new earth, we pray; remake us in His image. O LORD, we wish to weep and cry no more; no more would we see our children die or our own lives cut short – let us never be separated from you, never come to the nether world, but let your dawn be upon us and our mourning be driven away. Let the fever depart from us, Lord GOD, that we might not burn in unholy fire but be redeemed from all our iniquity and enter your presence with rejoicing and happiness, living as you created us, to be a delight in your sight. Rejoice in Jerusalem, dear LORD, and let all the nations round about find the salvation that is upon your House; let all come to believe in you and praise your Name forever.…

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March 9 - Prayer to St. Frances of Rome

2013-03-08
Length: 1s

O patient and loving soul who cared for both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor and the sick, who with a gentle word would rebuke sins and heal division and with a gentle touch bind the wounds and smooth the beds of the ill in your home and in hospital, who saw that remedies for the soul, the Bread of life and holy Confession, were available, too, through the hands of a priest – who cares as deeply and fully for the needs of souls this day? Increase their number; pray the Lord touch all souls with your same patient affection, with the love only He knows.  …

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March 10 - Sunday of the 4th Week of Lent, Year C

2013-03-08
Length: 5s

(Jos.5:9a,10-12;   Ps.34:2-7,9;   2Cor.5:17-21;   Lk.15:1-3,11-32) “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.” As the Israelites now realize their redemption from slavery in Egypt as they step into the Promised Land, so the prodigal son comes to his own redemption, his own release from slavery as a hired hand in a foreign land, as he returns to his father’s house.  Yes, as the Israelites “ate of the produce of the land” for the first time after the feast of Passover, so the prodigal son feasts on the “fattened calf” slaughtered for him by his merciful father.  And the redemption of both is a redemption from sin. Today we hear quite clearly “the message of reconciliation” proclaimed throughout our readings.  It is a call to all souls and a thanksgiving to God, “who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.”  And will we come to the water and drink?  Will we leave behind “the pods on which the swine fe[e]d” and come to His table to eat?  Will we too come to our senses and, realizing the mercy the Father holds for all His children, return to the House of God and feast in the land to which He leads us? It seems certain, and simple, that we should join David in his song of praise, that we should heed him as he entreats our souls: “Glorify the Lord with me.”  For as “from all his distress He saved him,” so from all our distress He saves us; and so nothing should fill our hearts but joy.  “He was lost and has been found,” the Lord declares in jubilation over every poor sinner who returns to His fold.  And so, should we not respond gratefully to the appeal of Paul and all those entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation” to indeed “be reconciled to God.”  In faith let us confess our sins and know the gracious blood of our Redeemer pouring upon our souls. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  And now He waits on the road before His House for our return.  Now He longs to open the doors of forgiveness and let us into His dwelling.  Now He would see the sacrifice of His Son bear fruit, that we all might be as He is.  Accept His removal of sin like a sword in the depths of your soul, and enter into His kingdom. ******* O LORD, let us eat of the yield of your Holy Land and become a new creation. YHWH, let us be reconciled to you who hold your arms open to receive us poor sinners.  In your Son and in His sacrifice you offer us redemption from all our iniquity and invite us in to sup with you in your House, in your eternal kingdom.  We are not worthy of such grace, but your love transcends our unworthiness. To the Promised Land the Israelites come, having left the bonds of Egypt behind.  You gave them bread by your hand on their way to freedom, and now the fruit of that land they eat and find themselves well fed. The Prodigal Son is welcomed home by his compassionate father.  The fattened calf is killed in celebration of his return, though half of his father’s property he has squandered in his sin.  O LORD, how can we fathom your love for us, your invitation to us to come back to your side despite our disobedience?  May all men come to their senses and call out to you.…

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March 9 - Saturday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-08

(Hos.6:1-6;   Ps.51:3-4,18-21,Hos.6:6;   Lk.18:9-14)   “As certain as the dawn is His coming, and His judgment shines forth like the light of day!”   It is night.  There is darkness.  In this world of sin we are afflicted on account of our guilt, for our failures to love God.  And so David cries out in our psalm, “Have mercy, O God, in your goodness”; and so the tax collector in our gospel “beat[s] his breast and say[s], ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner’”; and so with all the afflicted, in the words of Hosea, we should “return to the Lord, for it is He who has rent, but He will heal us.” Brothers and sisters, we must “strive to know the Lord,” for “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth” to cleanse us of our sin and make us fruitful again.  To us the Lord will “be bountiful… by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.”  He will grant us a place for worship and again “be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings, and holocausts.”  Our prayers shall again come before Him.  But if our piety is not to be “like a morning cloud, like the dew that passes early away,” we must come to know and love God.  And the first step to knowing God and showing our desire for His love is the recognition of our own sinfulness before Him, for “he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Yes, brothers and sisters, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.”  “He will revive us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up.”  But first we must die.  We must die to the sinful pride that afflicts our souls and leads us from the light that shines, that awaits all our coming to Him in blessed humility.  For He desires to show us mercy, but mercy we must have.  He longs to bring us light, but light we must seek to find.  His judgment, which is just, must be our desire, and it will come to us and wash us free of all our sin.  And we shall know Him.  And His love shall be our own.  And only light will shine in our souls. It is night, brothers and sisters.  There is darkness.  Our sins are with us still.  But the Lord is coming: the light is upon us.  Turn to it now, and live. ******* O LORD, show us your grace that you might rejoice in our return to you. YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding.  But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love.  We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us. Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy.  Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain. So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever.  And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.…

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March 8 - Prayer to St. John of God

2013-03-07
Length: 1s

O servant of love whom the angels knew to be of God for your blessed care of the poor and the sick and all the needy pilgrims who came to you in abundance that you might be the greater blest by what you did for the least of Christ’s brothers, you who turned from the world to absolute service of the Lord and complete trust in His providence – please pray that our hearts may be enlarged and we find the grace to lay down our lives so freely for the needs of others, for their well-being, that as we welcome all who come to us we might ourselves be welcomed in our misery into the loving arms of Jesus.  …

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March 8 - Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-07

(Hos.14:2-10;   Ps.81:6-11,14,17;   Mk.12:28-34)   “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!”   “There is no other than He,” and so what should we do but “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all [our] mind, and with all [our] strength”?  What promise the Lord makes to us if only we would return to Him and love Him: “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”  Indeed, then we would be “not far from the reign of God,” even here on earth. Brothers and sisters, we “have collapsed through [our] guilt.”  We have had “strange god[s]” among us and said, “‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands.”  Why should we continue so blind?  Why should we continue stumbling as sinners – why do we find the straight paths of the Lord so difficult to walk?  He will “forgive all iniquity” and strengthen us in justice; if we turn to Him, He will “heal [our] defection” and “love [us] freely.”  “In distress you called, and I rescued you,” He says in the words of our psalmist, and His words are true.  Turning away His wrath, He shall become “like the dew for Israel.”  And with His living water to nourish us, we “shall blossom like the lily… blossom like the olive tree.”  We “shall dwell in His shade and raise grain,” our “fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.”  We must but love God and our neighbor, and we shall “bear fruit.” “Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.”  There is no God in all the world but the Lord, and it is He in whom “the orphan finds compassion.”  Why should you continue in your vain pursuits when love awaits your turning to Him?  What refuge can you find in your false gods?  In them and in your pride you indeed will find yourself orphaned, cut off from the love that only the Father holds.  But He loves the orphan, brother, and so He calls to your soul to return to Him with all your heart.  In this is true wisdom; in Him you will find strength.  There is no further question when the love of God is known.  When His presence is revealed we fall silent, for nothing can be said in the face of Truth.  Listen, brothers and sisters; but listen – and then do. ******* O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed, that your inheritance you might share with us.  YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation. There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name. O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.…

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March 7 - Prayer to Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

2013-03-06
Length: 1s

O blessed martyrs who willingly and happily suffered a cruel death by the teeth of beasts and the point of a sword, all for love of Jesus – how can we match your faith; where shall we find the strength you displayed in ecstasy at tortures devised by the wicked of this earth, and can we call ourselves Christian otherwise? Pray for us, dear martyrs, that the Lord will bless us with such favor as you have known and we, too, will be enabled to stand in joy even in the face of the severest persecution, even at the time of our death… even then may Heaven be with us.  …

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March 7 - Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-06

(Jer.7:23-28;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Lk.11:14-23)   “They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.”   The Lord calls His people to “listen to [His] voice,” to “walk in all [His] ways,” that they “may prosper.”  But with whom is there obedience?  How many harden their hearts against Him! Of the people of Jeremiah’s time the Lord says, “Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.”  They, as all, should “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us,” but they, as we, do not recognize that “He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.”  They pay no heed to the voice of the prophet. And this hardness of heart is fulfilled in the opposition of the faithless to Jesus.  In our gospel He casts out a devil that a dumb man may speak and some say, “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that He casts out devils.”  Indeed, the hardness of heart does not get any greater than this.  (And so for this sin against the Holy Spirit and His ways there can be no forgiveness.)  They call good “evil” and presume that the evil they speak is a good – but they are utterly lost in darkness.  “The reign of God is upon” them, and they desire to dwell in the realm of the devil who is being cast from their midst.  What can save such a soul?  For all prayers the Lord answers. Brothers and sisters, it is a dark world and a difficult age in which we dwell.  But the response of our hearers is not our concern; we must speak as called regardless of the reaction – we must live our vocation despite any opposition.  Note the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you.”  For as with all the prophets, and as with ourselves, he speaks to “the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction.”  To these it is our duty to call; to darkness we must bring light.  And realize, too, the fate of Jesus, who will die on the cross for His work to bring salvation to the world.  It is this same cross to which we are all called, for it is by this same cross we have been called; and those who are yet to be gathered in must hear our voice.  Let us stand with the Lord and gather in His grain, despite the stiffened necks we might find.  There shall be others like us who hear the cry of Jeremiah and cling to the saving power of Jesus.  Test Him not with your own hardness of heart. ******* O LORD, let us be saved from torment by walking in the way of your risen Son. YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit. Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself.  Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways.  You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace. Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil.  Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness.  And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.…

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March 6 - Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-05
Length: 5s

(Dt.4:1,5-9;   Ps.147:12-13,15-16,19-20;   Mt.5:17-19)   “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?”   “He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel.”  The Lord in His grace “sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!”  And as the snow and the rain come down to nourish the land, to bring life to the earth, so His Word is food and life to all who listen to it.  By His Word He “strengthen[s] the bars of [our] gates,” giving us protection against the tribulations of this world, and by it He “bless[es] [our] children within” us, making fruitful all our endeavors.  By fulfilling and teaching His commands, we find life eternal in the kingdom of God; by breaking them and leading others to do so, we court death. And so why should the Word be withheld from the ears of the flock?  By his silence does not a priest give credence to the breaking of the law?  And then are not the results upon his soul?  Has the devil so blinded his eyes to the truth that he cannot see the life-giving water the Word of God is, that His commands are not burdensome but bring release from labor under the weight of sin?  By withholding such nourishment does he hope to increase his flock?  Oh but it is so hard to open my mouth, you say, so difficult to speak the truth.  Better you die to self now than to find your soul dead to the kingdom of heaven. Brothers and sisters, it is fulfilling “the smallest letter of the law… the smallest part of the letter,” that brings us to perfection, that brings us to the life that is our God.  Ignorance shall not bring you there.  As Moses instructs of the commands of the Lord, “Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.”  For they are a great gift made known to souls; they are the fountain of life, fulfilled in the flesh of Jesus.  So neither practice them in vain “nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,” for they hold life, and should you lose them, you shall lose the Christ. Do you desire holiness?  Do you wish to be whole?  Do you long for the presence of God, thirsting for His truth?  Then follow the Word He speaks in your presence today and teach others to do so: Abortion is wrong.  Contraception is wrong.  Euthanasia is wrong.  Premarital sex is wrong.  Love of money and goods is deadly.  We have the word in our Church – our mouths must speak it, or we shall die.  By our Baptism we are all made priests in the sight of God and are called to live and to preach the Word of God.  “What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him” or whenever we come to His table of sacrifice to receive Him?  In love make His Word and presence known. ******* O LORD, though good be repaid with evil, we shall rise on the third day if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son.  YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd. The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants. Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.…

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March 5 - Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-04
Length: 5s

(Dn.3:25,34-43;   Ps.25:4-9;   Mt.18:21-35)   “With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.”   The Lord “guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way,” and so it is the prayer of these He receives; upon them He showers His mercy.  For His mercy is His justice and it is known by those who humbly share the same. Azariah makes his prayer for mercy for his people Israel who suffer the purgatorial fires of their exile from the Promised Land, even as he himself stands in the quite literal fire of the furnace of the King of Babylon for his faithfulness to the living God.  He begs the Lord: “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy,” and as he comes humbly and with great faith interceding for others and not himself, and thus exhibiting the mercy he desires of the Lord, he is well protected from the flames by the angel of God.  The Lord’s justice is known to him who “follow[s] [Him] with [his] whole heart.” And Jesus makes quite clear the great mercy God holds for all who humble themselves before Him – “seventy times seven times,” eternally, He forgives.  His reign is like the king who “wrote off the debt,” though it was “a huge amount,” of his servant who begged His mercy.  For the Lord is “moved with pity” at our contrition for our sins.  But the same forgiveness we must offer to others if we are to prove that His blood runs in our veins.  The master tells his wicked servant: “I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me.  Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?”  And indeed the fires of hell and purgatory await those who break their bond of justice and mercy with the Lord by failing to manifest the same grace that has been revealed to their souls.  We are sinners and must see ourselves so.  The Lord forgives and we must accept His grace.  Others seek our mercy and we must grant it to them.  This is how the kingdom works.  Those who do not follow the Lord’s way of compassion do not enter there. Brothers and sisters, we must be as Azariah, who “stood up in the fire and prayed aloud.”  For all, we must humbly intercede before our merciful God even in this dark world.  And for the contrition we show for our sins and those of others, the Lord holds an eternal reward.  As our priests, as Peter, as God Himself, let us forgive one another; if we receive one another humbly and mercifully, the Lord will receive us in His grace, in His justice. ******* O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight that we might be saved from our sin and enter your kingdom. YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice. There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom. O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.…

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March 4 - Prayer to St. Casimir

2013-03-03
Length: 1s

O patron of the impoverished who though son of a king counted yourself among the poor in spirit, you whose love abundantly flowed to all in need, who sought the purity of our Blessed Mother, who thirsted for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, who devoted yourself to prayer and constant works of charity – teach us this day to be pure and set our hearts on serving the poor that we too might come to share the kingdom with all God’s children, all those who empty themselves of the things of this world to find the grace of Heaven.…

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March 4 - Monday of the 3rd Week of Lent

2013-03-03

(2Kgs.5:1-15;   Ps.42:2-3,43:3-4;   Lk.4:24-30)   “There is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”   “There is a prophet in Israel,” brothers and sisters, and this prophet is God.  Jesus Christ has come, salvation from the Jews.  Do you recognize Him?  Will you accept Him? It is only in “the waters of Israel” that we are made clean.  As wonderful as may be the waters of our native land, it matters not, for it is these alone that are blessed; these alone will make our flesh again “like the flesh of a little child.”  For a little child has come through these waters, has been baptized in this River, and it is His blood which baptizes us all and makes us clean as the flesh of God. “Bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place,” our souls should sing with our psalmist as they seek “the running waters” of “the living God” that alone will satisfy all our needs.  Oh to “behold the face of God,” to “go in to the altar of God” in “gladness and joy”!  How we should search for His grace and His presence!  Like Naaman who came from a distant land upon the word of a servant girl, so should we obediently seek the grace that comes only from God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.  He is our dwelling place, the Temple of God. “No prophet gains acceptance in his native place,” Jesus proclaims to those of His hometown.  And His prophecy is true.  For though salvation is from the Jews and they are Jews who serve as its foundation stones, yet the Church shall be constituted greatly by those of other lands.  The Jews who follow Him shall be greatly persecuted by their own, and the Word shall bear fruit to the ends of the world before the eyes of the Chosen shall be opened to the living water, the healing grace, in their midst. Come in faith, brothers and sisters, to this holy mountain where the Lord does dwell, to find the cleansing of your sins.  Through none else does salvation come; in no one else is the Word made known.  The flesh of God is Jesus alone. ******* O LORD, let us not turn away from your Word to our souls but be compassionate as you.  YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love.  Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor.  Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us.  Save us in your love! O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged.  If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned.  If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you.  And we shall return to your pasture. Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins.  Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.…

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March 3 - Prayer to St. Katharine Drexel

2013-03-02
Length: 1s

O mother to the poor and disadvantaged, missionary to those in your own country isolated from their neighbors because of the color of their skin, some who lived upon the land long before those who oppressed them, others brought to this land in chains… you who sought to break the chains of ignorance and poverty, who gave your treasure and the riches of your soul that those without might find a home – pray for souls still disadvantaged by poverty or ignorance; pray that those with and those without might meet as one, as brothers before the Lord here on earth and in the heavenly kingdom.…

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March 3 - Sunday of the 3rd Week of Lent, Year C

2013-03-01
Length: 5s

(Ex.3:1-8a,13-15;   Ps.103:1-4,6-8,11;   1Cor.10:1-6,10-12;   Lk.13:1-9)  “The Lord secures justice and the rights of all the oppressed.” Thus does the Lord God appear to Moses and call him to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians.  He has “witnessed the affliction of His people”; He has “heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers” and “know[s] well what they are suffering.”  And so, by the hand of Moses, He will lead them to “a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Yes, brothers and sisters, the Lord “has made known His ways to Moses”; His “kindness and compassion” He has revealed to His people.  The great I AM (YHWH), He who is and who will always be, has come and shown Himself to His servant on the “holy ground” of Mount Horeb.  In a “bush [that] is not burned” though flaming with fire, He opens Moses' eyes to His presence.  And He tells him His glorious NAME, by which He is “to be remembered through all generations” – that it is He who is Life.  And, of course, the life He brings is one of mercy and healing. Yet, though the Lord is certainly “merciful and gracious,” He is also just; thus does Paul remind us that though all the Israelites “were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” in their exodus from slavery, though all ate and drank from “the rock [that] was Christ… God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.”  So the blessings they had gained by the mercy of our God, they soon lost by their own disobedience.  And so could we all lose the grace of Christ at work in our lives if we “desire evil things, as they did.”  For God is merciful, but God is just, and will not have His kindness presumed upon. Thus does Jesus Himself also warn us, even as He warns the people who question Him this day that they are no better than those “whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices,” that we are not without guilt ourselves.  Thus does He proclaim, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did,” as all sinners do.  And thus does He warn us by parable that if we do not bear fruit in His name, we shall be cut down and thrown in the fire – for there is no wasted ground in the kingdom of God. If you cry out to Him, He will hear you, for it is He who “redeems your life from destruction” and your salvation is His desire.  But justice insists that if you turn back to your sin, you choose to remove yourself from His loving arms. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "Going Home" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, give us repentant hearts that we might not be removed from your sight but burn with your Spirit always. YHWH, let us not presume upon your mercy, for you have saved us but we remain in danger of falling again if we do not remember your NAME, if we do not keep in mind that you have made us and that you have saved us, you who are Life itself.  If we forget your benefits, our iniquities shall return, and then how shall we stand in your presence? You alone are holy, LORD; you alone are beyond our tongues to describe.  Let us be silent before you and remember the blessings you pour upon our souls.  For though you are far beyond our ability to comprehend, though your ways far surpass our own, yet you look with compassion on our affliction and seek to rescue us from all ill. But we must remain humble at all times, lest our branches become barren.  Ever we must bear fruit in your Name or we will be separated from your grace, from the surpassing light of your face.  O LORD, lead us through this desert to your Promised Land.…

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March 2 - Saturday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-03-01
Length: 5s

(Mic.7:14-15,18-20;   Ps.103:1-4,8-12;   Lk.15:1-3,11-32)   “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.”   “He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”  Amen.  Such is the forgiveness of the Lord, that even while we are far from Him, yet while we are sinners, He sees our hearts turn to Him and welcomes us into His embrace. We have all “sinned against God,” brothers and sisters.  We are all as the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his money on dissolute living.”  But oh the forgiveness of our God, who “with kindness and compassion” “redeems [our] life from destruction,” who in “pardon[ing] all [our] iniquities” raises us from the death of sin to sit with Him in heaven.  Does not the father in our parable say as much of the sinner? “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.”  Is it not so that when we were still sinners Jesus died for us, to raise us with Himself to new life? “Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of His inheritance?” the prophet Micah asks in our first reading, wondering at the infinite grace of our Father.  “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him,” sings David in our psalm.  And so, how joyous we should be, how our souls should “bless the Lord… and forget not all His benefits.”  For indeed, “not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.”  Rather, even though we deserve damnation, even though the most we could hope for is to be treated as one of His hired hands, yet does He remember His love for us.  Beyond all human reason, He graces us with “the finest robe” and calls us in to “eat and celebrate” at the heavenly banquet, where there shall be “music and dancing” to the Name of our God, where all the gifts of the Spirit poured forth through the blood of Christ are ours as we become one with the Father, as we return to Him “in good health.”  Is there anything more remarkable? And let us not sin as the elder brother.  Let us not begrudge God, the loving Father, His infinite generosity to all His sons.  Let us not presume to stand in judgment against those the Lord deigns to forgive, but share His forgiveness and His grace toward all.  Then truly the father’s words to the elder son (which are a noticeably kind word to the Pharisees, whom this son represents) will be our own: “You are with me always, and everything I have is yours.”  Let us know the truth of this, God’s will for all our souls, and accept the gracious forgiveness which brings us to it as we come “to [our] senses” and turn to Him with all our hearts this day.  He is calling us home. ******* O LORD, show us your grace that you might rejoice in our return to you.  YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding.  But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love.  We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us. Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy.  Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain. So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever.  And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.…

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March 1 - Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-02-28
Length: 5s

(Gn.37:3-4,12-13,17-28;   Ps.105:5,16-21;   Mt.21:33-43,45-46) “They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.” “The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone of the structure.”  Hear what Scripture says.  As he who was “sold as a slave” by his brothers became “lord of [the king’s] house and ruler of all his possessions,” so He whom the elders of the people could call “our brother, our own flesh,” whom they “seized… dragged… outside the vineyard, and killed,” has become the very foundation of the New Jerusalem. How parallel are our first reading and gospel today.  Jacob, Israel, sends the son he loves best, he who is “the child of his old age,” to the brothers who are tending their father’s flock, to bring them food to nourish them in their labor.  The Father in heaven sends Jesus, His beloved Son – who is Child of His old age both in His existing with Him before time and in His coming here at the end of the age to His brothers – to those whom He has entrusted the care of His vineyard, through whom He feeds all the people, with the greatest of nourishment to sustain them unto heaven itself.  For their jealousy over the favor granted their brother, Israel’s sons strip Joseph of his long and princely tunic and cast him into a cistern “which was empty and dry” as their souls.  Out of the same jealousy and in the desire for His inheritance, the chief priests and Pharisees will soon arrest the Lord and see that He is stripped and nailed to a cross. And, brothers and sisters, the outcome of each story shall be the same.  As his brothers must come on their knees to their brother to find grain to keep themselves from dying of famine on the parched earth once Joseph has taken his place as ruler of the king’s possessions, so the elders of the people and all of us who bear responsibility for the death of Christ by our continual sins against Him shall have to come on our knees before Him who sits on the throne of heaven robed in glory, to find nourishment for our journey here in His sacred Body and Blood, and to find a place at table in the kingdom to come. There is much to be pondered in the rejection of Jesus, as is so with the betrayal of Joseph.  It is not only the Pharisees – who answer so well the Lord’s question regarding the fate of the tenant farmers, yet have not the faith to match the words God puts on their lips – who must look inside themselves and recognize their anger and jealousy and greed.  The Lord invites each of his brothers to examine his conscience this day, in this time.  In particular, are we showing ourselves to be the nation the Lord has given the kingdom of God?  Do we “yield a rich harvest” for Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver?  Or have our souls gone bankrupt?  May from us the Lord “obtain His share of the grapes.” ******* O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed, that your inheritance you might share with us.  YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin.  As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom.  And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation. There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs.  Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name. O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice.  Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.…

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February 28 - Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-02-27
Length: 6s

(Jer.17:5-10;   Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;   Lk.16:19-31)   “He is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream.”   “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”  For he shall be like the tree “that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.”  He shall never be “like a barren bush in the desert” or “like chaff which the wind drives away.”  Never shall he know the “place of torment,” for “the heat when it comes” shall do him no harm.  This man “follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners,” but rather “meditates on [God’s] law day and night.”  His faith and his hope are the roots that stretch out to the living water of the living God who nourishes all by His Word and in His flesh. Brothers and sisters, we must never “trust in human beings” as do the Pharisees, or be as the rich man who “seeks his strength in flesh,” “dressed in purple and linen and feast[ing] splendidly every day.”  This earth itself holds not our food.  Notice that it is to the Pharisees Jesus addresses His parable in our gospel today.  How closely the rich man parallels these leaders of the people.  The bounty of God’s wisdom is bestowed upon them, but they use it to feed their bellies rather than to shepherd those in need.  They claim Abraham as their father and the Law of Moses as their guide, but they neither have the faith that makes Abraham the father of all, nor do they follow the instructions Moses conveys.  Only in the flesh are they Abraham’s sons; and though they see him from the hell to which they come, they cannot touch him, they cannot reach past him to the Father in heaven, who gives Abraham his blessing.  Dwelling but in their “father’s house” as the rich man who gorged himself on the pleasures of the flesh, they come not to the Father’s House on high, for their roots penetrate not to the living water that is found in faith, and now Lazarus cannot even “dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh [their] tongue.”  Dead as the stone upon which the commandments were written do they become.  Notice, too, brothers and sisters, the connection between thoughts and actions, between faith and works, between the word and the flesh in our first reading, and present throughout Scripture: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”  Only the Lord, who is Himself the living water, knows if His Word of life dwells in a man, and that faithful spirit is reflected directly in the just man’s deeds – for by these the Lord judges.  And Jesus is the just man; He is the Word made flesh in whom the Spirit dwells, in whom all find life.  He is the undying tree, one with the Father, whom all must imitate.  His words are living water; His flesh is food we eat: He alone is perfect in word and deed, for in Him spirit and flesh meet.  Let our hearts be set on Him, and we, too, shall be blessed; and we shall know that He is risen from the dead. ******* O LORD, let us be saved from torment by walking in the way of your risen Son.  YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit. Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself.  Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways.  You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace. Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil.  Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness.  And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.…

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February 27 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-02-26
Length: 5s

(Jer.18:18-20;   Ps.31:5-6,14-17;   Mt.20:17-28)   “Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?”   Do you know what He asks, brothers and sisters?  And do you know where it leads? In our gospel today, Jesus is very deliberate in His instruction to His apostles.  As He starts out “to go up to Jerusalem,” where the chief priests and scribes “will condemn Him to death” and the Romans crucify Him, He takes “the Twelve aside on the road” to speak clearly to them of the fate which awaits Him.  (So objective are His words that He refers to Himself in the third person.)  Of course, the apostles are yet far from understanding His message, as shown by their soon dissembling into jealous indignation regarding the question of the power and importance of each.  And the Lord must teach them again that He has come “to give His own life as a ransom for many”; He “has come, not to be served by others, but to serve,” and that those who “aspire to [the] greatness” that is His must necessarily “serve the needs of all.” We know that Peter is the first among equals “for whom it has been reserved by [the] Father,” as the Lord has indicated earlier, and not James or John – though both of these shall have prominent place in drinking of the cup of Christ: James as the first apostle martyred and John, the beloved, whose martyrdom shall be white, coming in the endurance of a long life – but all of us who seek to follow Jesus indeed share in the selfsame cross, and so shall receive of the selfsame blessings of Him who is raised up “on the third day.”  All are called to drink of the cup of suffering and service in Jesus’ stead.  We must be clear on this essential point of faith. And does not Jeremiah’s persecution at the hands of the citizens of Jerusalem show that the cross of Christ extends even to the time before He had come in the flesh?  Do not the words spoken against the prophet: “Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word,” echo exactly the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, whom they repeatedly sought to entrap?  And all this though He does “speak in their behalf, to turn away [the Father’s] wrath from them.”  And David in our psalm chants the same refrain: “They consult together against me, plotting to take my life.” Brothers and sisters, as it was for David and Jeremiah and Jesus, following in the ways of the Lord will bring us persecution.  You may well ask, Must good be repaid with evil? but the Lord will answer, “Let it be for now.”  For “from the clutches of [our] enemies and [our] persecutors” He rescues those who trust in Him.  Take heart that the humbled shall be exalted as you drink deeply of His cup. ******* O LORD, though good be repaid with evil, we shall rise on the third day if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son. YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom.  Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd. The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son.  A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD.  But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains.  And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants. Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God.  Save us from the snares of the devil.…

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Share: February 27 - Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Lent


February 26 - Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-02-25
Length: 5s

(Is.1:10,16-20;   Ps.50:8-9,16-17,21,23;   Mt.23:1-12)   “To him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”   “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.”  For it is only following in the way of the Lord we shall be saved; for mere words, vain pretense, the Lord has no patience. Indeed it is so, what Isaiah proclaims: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.”  Forgiveness is offered forth generously by the Lord to the nation that goes astray.  But we must be “willing, and obey” the word “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  If we “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” our backs, if we but “recite [His] statutes” as the Pharisees whose “works are performed to be seen,” whose mouths profess the covenant but whose deeds are far from Him, how is it we shall find salvation?  For the Lord is not blind and deaf as we to the heart of man; and unlike our own, His word is true, and His command must be followed – we must serve Him and our neighbor.  We must humble ourselves in His sight if we hope to be exalted to His kingdom. “Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”  Over and over we hear from the mouth of the prophet and the psalmist and the Son Himself – the Lord has compassion on the poor and lowly, and we must do as He calls… we must be His arms and legs in this world.  Unlike the Pharisees who “will not lift a finger” to carry even the lightest burden, whose “deeds are few,” we must take up the full weight of the cross.  It is not “places of honor” and “marks of respect in public” for which we hunger; but when we teach and as we serve, our hearts must be set on the salvation of souls, which can only be accomplished by living the way of the Messiah, by following His example. What has Jesus not done for us?  What teaching has He left lacking flesh and blood?  And so, rightly is He called “Rabbi”; and so, truly is He the only Son of the one Father in heaven.  Brothers and sisters, we must go the way He leads – we must follow the humble path to the kingdom.  In this our sins shall become “white as wool,” washed in the blood of the Lamb. ******* O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight that we might be saved from our sin and enter your kingdom.  YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice.  If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed.  But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name.  For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked?  His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice. There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions.  We desire to be exalted in the sight of others.  Oh if it were but our desire to serve you!  If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom. O let us listen to you, LORD?  Let us heed your command, your word of instruction.  Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.…

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February 25 - Monday of the 2nd Week of Lent

2013-02-24
Length: 4s

(Dn.9:4-10;   Ps.79:8-9,11,13,103:10;   Lk.6:36-38) “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” It is a cry for forgiveness our psalmist makes to our compassionate God.  “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past,” he begs, seeking release from sin’s prison for himself and his people.  And Daniel does the same; acknowledging with full throat the sins of Judah and all Israel, he seeks the merciful hand of the Lord upon the people, interceding in their stead.  Though he himself is an upright man, he cries out, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil,” praying thus for the rebellious nation which has been scattered to “all countries” for their failure to heed the command of the Lord. Well do our Old Testament figures embody Jesus’ teaching in our gospel, summed up simply: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”  For they “do not judge” or “condemn” those individuals primarily responsible for the apostasy and so the destruction of the kingdom and the covenant, but rather seek earnestly to heal the rift that has come by giving generously of themselves and their love for God and others, in Christlike fashion standing in the breach.  And so they earn the titles of prophet and psalmist of God; and so they foreshadow the heavenly compassion Jesus calls all His followers to pour forth in His name.  (And so we can be assured their compassion has been “measured back” to them by the Lord.) Jesus on the cross dies for the sins of all people, and this is His central call to all our souls: to imitate Him is our blessed goal.  For insofar as we die for God and others, insofar as we lay down our lives in His truth, thus far we shall find His “compassion quickly come to us” and so live in the heavenly glory which is now His place.  To us all He calls this day to pardon and forgive, for in doing so we shall find the reconciliation of the Lord even with our enemies, and secure for ourselves a room in His heavenly home. He who knew no sin was made sin for our sake.  He has humbled Himself to carry the sins of the nation…  Let us, brothers and sisters, die with Christ on the cross, that all sin might be taken away in His Name. ******* O LORD, let us not turn away from your Word to our souls but be compassionate as you. YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love.  Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor.  Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us.  Save us in your love! O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged.  If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned.  If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you.  And we shall return to your pasture. Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins.  Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.…

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February 23 - Prayer to St. Polycarp

2013-02-22
Length: 1s

O disciple of John and shepherd who drank deeply of the cup of Christ’s suffering, you who bore both the burden of a long life and the pain of a violent death yet remained faithful till the end – pray that the fire into which we are cast we may also endure as the sacrifice of Jesus and so find it fruitful, and so find it blessed… and so rejoice in the witness we are granted to give in the name of our Savior. May the offering of our lives join with your own and all the saints’ in rising as holy incense to the throne of God and serve as witness, to the eyes that behold us, of the Lord’s great power and love.…

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February 24 - Sunday of the 2nd Week of Lent, Year C

2013-02-22
Length: 5s

(Gn.15:5-12,17-18;   Ps.27:1,7-9,13-14;   Phil.3:17-4:1;   Lk.9:28-36)  “A cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.” As darkness thus covered the three apostles, so “a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.”  Both find themselves surrounded by darkness and filled with fear.  In just this way the Lord brings His revelations.  For as the Lord is about to pronounce beyond doubt that Jesus is the Messiah, so He is about to send “a flaming torch” to pass between Abram’s offerings and so confirm his taking possession of the Promised Land.  The Lord must act in such manner to cleanse all foolishness from our souls, that we might hear His most pure Word. But light comes out of the darkness: indeed, “the Lord is [our] light and [our] salvation” – He Himself is not darkness.  And so as the fire of the torch pierces the dark night upon Abram’s mind, so the chief apostles are privileged to see Jesus’ glory, to witness in fullness the Light the Son of God is.  And the Lord God leaves no doubt with them that it is of Jesus He says, “This is my chosen Son,” for though the greatest men of Jewish history had also “appeared in glory” with Jesus, now He is “found alone” – and the apostles are left speechless. It must pass to the marrow of our bones, the Truth of Christ’s salvation.  If in any way superficial or “occupied with earthly things” is our vision, Him we have not known.  He alone stands as our “life’s refuge”; in Him alone do we find God’s presence – Him alone should our “glance” seek.  But as we pray, “Hide not your face from me,” we should realize how profound is the prayer we make.  For the Lord indeed “will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body” when He appears at the end of the age, but consider for a moment what it will be like to have that power of refinement upon ourselves.  Very much like the darkness which envelops the apostles and Abram today; very much like the dark night of the soul of which our great saints speak.  Are you prepared to have the Lord separate soul from spirit with His sword of Truth?  Do you know this piercing, fiery process even now?  Then even in this world you shall begin to behold His face, and find yourself ready on that Day to be taken from earthly to heavenly tents. Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt. Music: "White" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. ******* O LORD, help us to stand ready before the terrifying glory revealed in your Son. YHWH, you are our light in the darkness of this world; though the dark threaten to envelop us, you are there to save us – even in the darkness we find your fire purifying our souls for entering your presence. To your glory you call us; the land of Heaven you promise us.  And that promise is set firmly upon the law and the prophets, and that promise is fulfilled in your Son.  He is our hope as we pass through the temptations of this life knowing we are citizens of Heaven.  O LORD, let us be conformed to His glorified Body! You have given witness to Jesus, that He is your Chosen One.  You call us to listen to Him, to seek only Him: He shines as the stars in the night sky, leading us to your glory.  May our hearts be set on Him alone and we shall not be afraid.  O LORD, hide not your face from us.…

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February 23 - Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent

2013-02-22
Length: 5s

(Dt.26:16-19;   Ps.119:1-2,4-5,7-8;   Mt.5:43-48)   “You will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God.”   The promise made to the Israelites through Moses is also a command, and is fulfilled in the command of Jesus. In our first reading Moses tells the people the Lord will raise them “high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations,” but makes it clear that this shall be so only as long as they “walk in His ways and observe His statutes, commandments, and decrees” – only if they “hearken to His voice.”  For His law is as food to the body and light to the mind and must be observed carefully, “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul,” to maintain the presence of God in our lives.  If “He is to be [our] God,” we must do as He commands. Thus our psalmist sings of the happiness of those “who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.”  Thus does he cry out in longing, “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” for he knows in them is life.  To “walk in the way of the Lord” is his joy. And that joy is made complete, our life is made whole, by the new command of love Jesus imparts to our soul.  The Lord fulfills the Law of Moses, which gave light to the people, by commanding us not to love only our “countryman” but all: “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.”  Here is His challenge for us to “prove that [we] are sons of our heavenly Father,” to love as He loves, to know the greatness of His glory, therefore, in our very lives.  If the psalmist cried out in such joy at the blessing found in following the Law of Moses, what indescribable joy is ours when we follow Jesus’ words.  What greater call can we have than to “be made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”?  What greater merit and blessing could there be?  None.  For He is Life itself, and here we are called to live with Him. “His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust.”  Nothing dims God’s holy light or stems the blessings He showers upon all.  In absolute light, in absolute love, the Father dwells, in the heavenly kingdom; and if we can love as He loves, as Jesus has loved, we shall know such blessing.  Love even those who hate you and you will be as the Father, who knows only love, and you will become sacred to Him – you will be saints in His kingdom. ******* O LORD, if we follow your way with our whole heart, we shall come to where you are, in Heaven. YHWH, what can we be but blessed if we heed your commands and walk in your way, for then we will be like you, who are most blessed of all?  O to be a people sacred to you!  O to love as you love! What greater blessing can we know, O LORD, than to love as you love, to love all, even our enemies?  What blessing it would be to know such absolute love, to live such absolute love – then we would be living with you; then we would be living in you.  You shine like the sun upon all creatures…  Let us live in your light this day. Your Word is light to us, LORD; your commands are truth.  And by them you would lead us to all truth, to all love – by them you would lead us to yourself.  And your greatest command is to love our enemies, a command your Son embodies.  Let us join with Him in keeping this Word and so live in your heavenly presence.…

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February 22- Prayer on the Chair of St. Peter

2013-02-21
Length: 1s

O Rock of the Church, leader of God’s people to whom the Father has revealed the divinity of His Son and on whom the Son has therefore built His Church, giving you the keys to the kingdom, the power to bind and loose both on earth and in Heaven, that the ship you steer might conquer all Satan’s power by the power of the Spirit with which you serve your brothers, secure in the blessed protection and guidance of the Lord – pray the Church you do yet lead shall fulfill the call the Christ has placed upon every soul and that we shall come to our heavenly home in the light of the Messiah. Pray we shall indeed be strong and give faithful witness to our Savior.    …

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February 22 - Chair of St. Peter

2013-02-21
Length: 5s

(1Pt.5:1-4;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mt.16:13-19)   “On this rock I will build my Church.”   And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests.  It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”  Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all. It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself.  Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.”  It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm.  “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock. How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.”  How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed.  The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them.  It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Christ’s own special children. To those who still doubt the primacy of Peter and its absolute necessity, I invite you to read again Scripture and notice how often and always Peter speaks for the whole and acts for the whole body as he does today.  It is to all the apostles Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” and though all may have faith, only one speaks up and answers in no uncertain terms.  As he does at the first council at Jerusalem, as he did in coming to the Lord on the water, Peter speaks and leads in the power of the Spirit.  The Church is one in Christ, and it has one rock it is set upon.   Written, read & chanted, and produced by Carie Fortney.   Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission. ******* O LORD, as long as we remain in your House we shall be secure, for the faith of Peter will strengthen us.  YHWH, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven you entrust to Peter; he is the Rock upon which your Church is set, the chief Shepherd leading all the rest.  Though your Son alone be the cornerstone, the true foundation of this House, it is into the hands of Peter you entrust your flock by his confession of faith. You are at his side always, ever assisting him in leading the ewes with care.  It is by your Spirit he rules this House, generously giving his life in union with Jesus, our Savior.  And so, in verdant pastures your sheep make their home.  In your presence we are blessed to remain by your grace upon our souls, dearest LORD. O living God, bless this day all your bishops and priests, and especially the Holy Father.  You indeed bless them by revealing yourself to them and strengthening them for the work they must accomplish.  With them may we all walk in the footsteps of your Son, laying down our lives for all, that we might come to eternal rest in the glory of your kingdom.…

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February 21 - Prayer to St. Peter Damian

2013-02-20
Length: 1s

O blessed reformer of the Church who by a holy austerity cleansed your soul of the corruption of this world and served by example to lead others to a religious life – teach us this day of the chastising hand of God and the suffering which leads to joy, that in the will of the Lord we might all be purged of our dross and come to the kingdom of Heaven. Pray that we, too, might realize and so benefit from the blessing upon us when our souls are lashed with pains that threaten sorrow, for He does but wish to lif