Jeremiah 31:1–14 (Listen)
The Lord Will Turn Mourning to Joy
31:1 “At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
2 Thus says the LORD:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
3 the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
5 Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
6 For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.’”
7 For thus says the LORD:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O LORD, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9 With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the LORD.”
Colossians 2:8–23 (Listen)
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Let No One Disqualify You
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Luke 6:39–49 (Listen)
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Build Your House on the Rock
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Psalm 47 (Listen)
God Is King over All the Earth
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!
Psalm 147:13–20 (Listen)
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 68 (Listen)
God Shall Scatter His Enemies
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.
68:1 God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
2 As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
so the wicked shall perish before God!
3 But the righteous shall be glad;
they shall exult before God;
they shall be jubilant with joy!
4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!
5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
7 O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah
8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
you restored your inheritance as it languished;
10 your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
11 The Lord gives the word;
the women who announce the news are a great host:
12 “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!”
The women at home divide the spoil—
13 though you men lie among the sheepfolds—
the wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with shimmering gold.
14 When the Almighty scatters kings there,
let snow fall on Zalmon.
15 O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16 Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
18 You ascended on high,
leading a host of captives in your train
and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.
19 Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation. Selah
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
21 But God will strike the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.
22 The Lord said,
“I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 that you may strike your feet in their blood,
that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe.”
24 Your procession is seen, O God,
the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them virgins playing tambourines:
26 “Bless God in the great congregation,
the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
the princes of Judah in their throng,
the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.
28 Summon your power, O God,
the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings shall bear gifts to you.
30 Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Nobles shall come from Egypt;
Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.
32 O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;
sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!
Psalm 113 (Listen)
Who Is like the Lord Our God?
113:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Catherine of Siena, Teacher, 1380 (April 29)
About the Commemoration
Catherine was born in Siena probably in 1347, the twenty-third and last child in the large, devout Benincasa family. At age six she began to have visions of Christ, and throughout her life she continued to have mystical experiences, including visions and prolonged trances. Near the beginning of Lent 1367, a vision convinced her that she was to be a bride of Christ, and she accepted his command to carry her love for him to the world, subsequently receiving the stigmata.
I saw the crucified Lord, coming down to me in a great light…. Then from the marks of his most sacred wounds I saw five blood-red rays coming down upon me, which were directed toward the hands and feet and heart of my body. Perceiving the mystery, I exclaimed, “Ah, my Lord God, do not let the marks appear outwardly on the body.” While I was speaking, before the rays reached me, they changed their blood-red color to splendor and like pure light they came to the five places in my body—the hands, feet, and heart. The pain that I feel in those five places, but especially in my heart, is so great that unless the Lord works a new miracle, it does not seem possible that the life of my body can endure such agony.
She claimed to have encountered St. Dominic in a vision and thereafter was permitted to wear the habit of the Dominican Third Order of Penance. She stubbornly clung to the vow of celibacy she made while still a child, despite her family’s persistent pleas for a suitable marriage. Eventually, at the age of sixteen, she won the reluctant permission of her parents to live in a special closed-off room in her family’s house, fasting and praying, and leaving the room only to go to church.
After three years, she emerged from her seclusion to devote herself to good works, doing household chores for her family and ministering to the sick and unfortunate in hospitals and in their homes. From 1368 to 1374 she gathered about her in Siena a group of friends whom she called her “family.” They were men and women, priests and laity, and all (though older than she) called her “mother.” During this period, she fasted almost constantly and continued the intense devotion to the sacrament that she had begun earlier. At the same time, she is reported to have maintained her merry, unpretentious manner, and she had a powerful spiritual influence on many people. She dictated letters of spiritual instruction and also dealt with public affairs, urging a crusade against the Turks. Her outspoken advice brought her misunderstanding and opposition.
The Dominican Order, which had been guiding her spiritual life for some years, gave her official protection in late spring 1374. During the period 1374-1378 her influence in public affairs was at its height. She opposed the war of Florence and its allies against the papacy (1376—1378). She pressed for the renewal of the Church, which was clearly in need of reform. Her naive but earnest holiness made an impression on Gregory XI, whom she met at Avignon in June 1376. She urged him to return from his residence in France to his see in Rome. In the following year he did return to Rome, and the “Babylonian captivity” of the Church was ended.
In November 1378 Catherine went to Rome, where she worked for the unity of the Church and engaged in writing and prayer. Although she had not learned to read and write until her teens, she carried on a voluminous correspondence with leaders of the Church and state. Many of her letters have been preserved. She also dictated to her secretaries a book called the Dialogue or A Treatise on Divine Providence in which she reported what she felt were God’s words to her about the fundamentals of Christian faith and practice. The book is still read by many who find comfort and wisdom in the words of this unschooled woman.
At the age of thirty-three, after a period of almost complete paralysis, Catherine died in Rome, April 29, 1380, surrounded by her “family.” She was buried in the Church Santa Maria sopra Minerva. A woman of boundless energy, single-mindedness, and devotion to her ideals, she was able to deal effectively with rulers, diplomats, and leaders of all kinds, and she was also loved by the common people for her mystical christocentric spirituality. She was a forerunner of those women of later centuries who were to find their fulfillment not in marriage but in a professional career of service. These words of hers are worth pondering, “Do you think that our Lord would be pleased with us if we left works of mercy undone because our neighbor is unthankful?”
Catherine has been widely commemorated in Christian churches. She was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1461, and her feast day was set on April 30, but the present Roman calendar as well as the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist calendars commemorate her on the day of her death, April 29. Her feast day was popular in northern Europe, and she was retained on a number of Lutheran calendars after the Reformation, among them the Evangelical Calendar of Names (1965).
With Catherine, it maybe useful also to remember other influential mystics of the fourteenth century. Johannes “Meister” Eckhart, the founder of German mysticism and the originator of German philosophical language, was born at Hochheim in Thuringia, Germany, about 1260. He became a member of the Dominican Order, studied at Paris, returned to Germany as Provincial-Prior of the Dominican Order for Saxony, and went back to Paris for further study. He then went to Strasbourg, the foremost religious center of Germany and there became known as a great preacher; he next lived in Cologne. Rufus Jones said of him (Studies in Mystical Religion, 217), “He is a remarkable example of the union of a profoundly speculative mind and a simple, childlike spirit. No mystic has ever dropped his plummet deeper into the mysteries of the Godhead, nor has there ever been a bolder interpreter of those mysteries in the language of the common people.” He was allowed to teach unmolested until the end of his life, although his teaching seemed to many to verge on pantheism. In 1326 the Archbishop of Cologne brought charges against him and before the matter was settled, Eckhart died in 1327. Two years later certain of his writings were declared heretical by a papal bull which concluded, “He wished to know more than he should.” Meister Eckhart is on the German Evangelical Calendar of Names on March 27.
The Friends of God (Gottesfreunde) was a lay movement centered in the Rhineland and Switzerland that sought to renew the languishing Church. In a time of earthquake, natural disaster, and black death, the movement drew upon the strong apocalyptic strain in the German visionaries of earlier centuries Hildegard (1098-1179; see September 17), Elizabeth of Schönau (d. 1164), and Mechtild of Magdeburg (see November 19). The movement was founded by Rulman Merswin (d. 1382), with whom were associated Margaret and Christina Ebner, Henry of Nördlingen, and the unknown author of the classic Theologica Germanica, praised by Luther as for him next in value to the Bible and the writings of St. Augustine.
Johannes Tauler, the “illuminated doctor,” and one of the noblest leaders of the Friends of God, was born in Strasbourg near the end of the thirteenth century and was ordained a priest of the Dominican Order. In 1339 he settled in Basel, returned to Strasbourg in 1352, and died there in 1361. In his teaching he insisted on a religion of experience “entering in and dwelling in the Inner Kingdom of God, where pure truth and the sweetness of God are found.” He is on the Evangelical Calendar of Names, June 16.
Blessed Henry Suso (originally Berg) was born ca. 1295 of a noble Swabian family. He, too, entered a Dominican monastery for five years of study. At the age of eighteen, he had a spiritual awakening, endured extreme ascetic penance, and at length found what he sought. He went through Swabia as an itinerant preacher, ca. 1335-1348 and then settled in Ulm. He died in 1366. He had all the characteristic marks of the Friends of God: spiritual visions, spiritual crises, austerities, ecstasies, consciousness of the immediate presence of God. His feast day is January 23.
In addition to these, another pre-Reformation movement toward renewal might also be remembered. Blessed John Ruysbroek, “the ecstatic Doctor,” who joined the Friends of God with the Brethren of the Common Life, was born in 1293, probably of German parents in the village of Ruysbroek between Brussels and Hal. He was ordained a priest about 1317. After a long and diligent pastorate, he retired at the age of fifty to the a hermitage at Grönendaal near Brussels and gave himself to meditation and writing. He died in 1381. He had influenced Tauler and later helped found the Brethren of the Common Life. He was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1908; his feast day is December 2, and he is listed on that date by the German Evangelical Calendar of Names.
Geert (Gerard) Groote, a Dutch reformer, was born at Deventer in the Netherlands in 1340. He excelled as a student, but after a spiritual experience, he went into retirement to prepare for a different life. In 1379 he was licensed as an itinerant lay preacher in the diocese of Brussels and was noted for the simplicity both of his dress and his message. He founded the Brethren of the Common Life, which emphasized reading the Bible and included both clerical and lay members, who cultivated a biblical piety, stressing the inner life and the practice of virtues. Their spirituality was known as the devotio moderna and was influential in both Catholic and Protestant traditions of prayer. Erasmus was one of their pupils. Groote died in 1384. He is remembered on the Evangelical Calendar of Names on August 21. See also Thomas à Kempis (July 24).
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
From Catherine of Siena, A Treatise on Divine Providence
[God is speaking.] Dearest daughter, the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls is very pleasing to me. The more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves me; loving me, she comes to know more of my truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against me. You asked me to sustain you and to punish the faults of others in you, and you did not recognize that you were really asking for love, light, and knowledge of the truth, since I have already told you that with the increase of love, grief and pain increase; for whoever grows in love grows in grief. Therefore I say to you all, ask, and it will be given to you, for I deny nothing to anyone who asks of me in truth. Remember that the love of divine charity is in the soul so closely joined with perfect patience, that neither can leave the soul without the other. Therefore, if the soul choose to love me, she should choose to endure pains for me in whatever way or circumstance I may send them to her. Patience cannot be proved in any other way than by suffering, and patience is one with love. Therefore bear yourselves with courage, for, unless you do, you will not prove yourselves to be spouses of my truth and faithful children nor part of the company of those who relish the taste of my honor and the salvation of souls.
Trans. PHP, based on the translation of Algar Thorold, The Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin, Catherine of Siena…, new and abridged from the 1896 London edition (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1944); and reprinted in Late Medieval Mysticism, ed. Ray C. Petry, Library of Christian Classics 13 (Philadelphia: Westminster, n.d.), 277-78.
Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
RS, rev. LFF
Readings: Psalm 36:5-10 or 16:5-11; 1 John 1:5—2:2; Luke 10:38-42 (RC) or Luke 12:22-24,29-31
Hymn of the Day: “Love divine, all loves excelling” (H82 657, LBW 315, LSB 700, ELW 631)
Prayers: For a desire to imitate the love of Christ; For all women in the church and for their ministry; For regular and devout communicants; For a willingness to endure suffering with Christ; For social workers; For peace and reconciliation within families, neighborhoods, the nations.
Preface: A Saint (2) (BCP)
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.