Sunday, February 25, 2024

Second Sunday of Lent

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family

March is the month dedicated to Saint Joseph

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 19 The Discipline of Psalmody - Ch 25 Serious Faults

My vows to the Lord I will pay.

HOLY FAMILY, OUR SUPPORT IN LIFE AND OUR HOPE IN DEATH,
SAINT JOSEPH, PROTECTOR OF THE HOLY CHURCH,
MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31b)

Welcome to the Second Sunday of Lent, in February, the month dedicated to the Holy Family, in a Leap Year that welcomes at end of this week, the month of March, dedicated to Saint Joseph. We are moving along, faithful readers. How are you doing so far in these 40 days of Lent? 

In today's Gospel, we are presented with the Transfiguration when Jesus, with Peter, James, and John in tow, went up a high mountain to be apart by themselves. There, Jesus was transfigured before them; His clothes became dazzling white. With this scene over the past days, I have been thinking of how God has called me over the years, how He has, in a sense, transfigured me to take a new direction in life, to change or be converted in one way or another over the years, essentially since the time He formed me in the womb and knew me, when He dedicated me before I was born (see Jer 1:5). Then after I was born, when my parents gave me the greatest gift they ever gave me, namely, they had me baptized when I was just 20 days old. It was then that I became a child of God, a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, a member of the family of faith. Another way I have looked at it is when were the times when Grace has knocked on my door, and with His grace, I have opened the door and responded to the Lord's call: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him" (Mk 9:7). In any case, grace abounds and thankfully, there have been many times in my life when I opened the door and let Grace in. And there have been enough times too, when I have not let Grace in, and gone on my merry way. These days may be days when you and I together, as beloved children of God, reflect on how God has called us, and continues to call us to moments of transfiguration, to change us from one degree of glory to another (see 2 Cor 3:18); moments to grow closer to the Lord, and to pick up our cross and follow Him. As He says: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Mt 16:24-25). Grace abounds; open the door. Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done. I believe, help my unbelief. 

Many of our voices this week come from Mother Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), in T. Hoopes, "Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Explains How to Pray, Fast, and Give," Seton Reflections, February 18, 2024.

God is with us-and if sufferings abound in us, His Consolations also greatly abound, and far exceed all utterance.

My own troubles will teach me I hope how to comfort others.

Let your chief study be to acquaint yourself with God because there is nothing greater than God, and because it is only knowledge which can fill the heart with a peace and joy, which nothing can disturb.

The nearer a soul is truly united to God, the more its sensibilities are increased to every being of His Creation; much more to those whom it is bound to love by the tenderest and most endearing ties.

The first I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in a manner He wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is His will.

So, our "wholly American" saint asks us these questions, more to ponder as we journey through these 40 days. 

Does the life of our Jesus animate us?
Do we indeed give Him the true service of the heart without which whatever we give has no value?

And the last voice comes from Saint Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850), especially as we heed to Our Father's words, and listen to His beloved Son. Here, I am! (Gen 22:1). 

Not the intellect, but God. Not the will, but God. Not the soul, but God ... Not the goods of the world, but God. Not honors, but God ... God always and in everything.

United in faith and prayer, we are. Keep going, faithful readers.

SAINT ETHELBERT,
BLESSED MARIA ADEODATA PISANI,
SAINT WALBURGA,
SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA,
SAINT GREGORY OF NAREK,
SAINT OSWALD,
SAINT DAVID,
SAINT CHAD,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: They are popping up everywhere. In the presence of all His people.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, February 18, 2024

First Sunday of Lent

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family

February 19th: Presidents' Day

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 15 The Times for Saying Alleluia - Ch 18 The Order of the Psalmody

He teaches the humble His way.

HOLY FAMILY, HIDDEN AND UNKNOWN IN NAZARETH,
MARY, QUEEN OF ANGELS,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US. 

Christ suffered once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that He might lead you to God.
(1 Peter 3:18)

Welcome to the First Sunday of Lent. Here we go, dear faithful readers, united as we are in faith and prayer. And we bring with us those preparing to enter the Church at Easter who will come forward today for the Rite of Election. May the grace of God be with us during this holy season of Lent, the forty days that run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord's Supper. During these days, the Alleluia is not said, so it no wonder that Saint Benedict has Ch. 15 "The Times for Saying Alleluia," in the Holy Rule. And it is the reading for February 18! Among other things, our holy father Benedict instructs us that "the alleluia is never added to the responsories except from Easter Pentecost" (RB 15:4). Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory!

Voices this week all come from one voice, namely, C.S. Lewis. In addition to reading The Screwtape Letters, I stumbled across a little gem when working in the library the other day, A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis, ed. C. S. Kilby (Harvest/HBJ, 1980). In one way or another, each quotation is fitting for this holy season of Lent. And as in today's Gospel, where Jesus is tempted in the desert, we are reminded to be on guard. The tempter is prowling; he is waiting to pounce. Repent, and believe in the Gospel (Mk 1:15). Kyrie eleison. 

The tempter always works on some real weakness in our own system of values: 
offers food to some need which we have starved.
(C.S. Lewis, "Equality," in The Spectator, August 27, 1943)

No good work is done anywhere without the aid from the Father of Lights.
(C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, Ch. 11)

How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing ... it is irresistible. If even ten percent of the world's population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year's end?
(C.S. Lewis, unpublished letter, August 1, 1953)

Virtue-even attempted virtue-brings light; indulgence brings fog.
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 3, Ch. 5)

There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes.
(C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Ch. 15)
 
It is not enough to want to get rid of one's sins. We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins ... Because we know that we are sinners, it does not follow that we are saved.
(C.S. Lewis, "I was Decided Upon," Decision, 1963)

If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, 
and I hope you may always do so. 
(Unpublished letter to a little girl, October 26, 1963)

BLESSED JOHN OF FIESOLE OP, Fra Angelico
SAINT FLAVIAN,
SAINT SIMON,
SAINT CONRAD OF PIECENZA,
SAINT FRANCISCO AND JACINTA MARTO,
OUR LADY OF FATIMA,
BLESSED ALVAREZ OF CORDOBA,
SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON,
BLESSED CHRISTOPHER OF MILAN OP,
SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL,
BLESSED JOSEPHA GIRBES,
BLESSED CONSTANTIUS OF FABRIANO, OP,
BLESSED THOMAS MARIA FUSCO,
SAINT VICTORINUS,
SAINT PETER DAMIAN, BISHOP, DOCTOR,
SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE, 
SAINT POLYCARP,
PRAY FOR US.

NB. A little bit about one of the saints we commemorate this week, namely, Fra Angelico. I have not only seen in person, along with my beloved sisters Kathy and Vicki, his fresco, The Annuciation, that hangs at the convent of San Marco in Florence, I visited his tomb several times at Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. And one time, my beloved sisters were with me. For this and for my beloved sisters, I give God the praise. 

Today's photo: This little flower follows in the footsteps of the Holy Family, hidden and unknown on 7th Street in Eureka, a bit hidden and no longer unknown if it ever was in the first place. ☺ In Your kindness remember me. 

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Ash Wednesday

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family 

In other years: Saint Methodius (826?-885) and Saint Cyril (827?-869), brothers born in Thessalonica who went to Moravia to preach the faith. They translated liturgical texts into the Slavonic language and invented the Glagolithic and possibly the Cyrillic alphabet. Alrighty then. 

Readings of the Day: Joel 2:12-18; Resp Ps 51; 2 Cor 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18


Thoroughly wash me from my guilt.

HOLY FAMILY, FAITHFUL IN OBSERVANCE OF DIVINE LAWS,
MARY, VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

Spare, O Lord, Your people.
(Joel 2:17)

Welcome to Ash Wednesday. As has become customary over the years of publishing a reflection, on Ash Wednesday I pass along the following from Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship. As we add to our usual measure of service something by way of private prayer and abstinence of food or drink, then, so as to look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing (see Rule of Saint Benedict, Ch. 49), it may be helpful to go about the season in any of the following ways. Why not choose one fast and feast. Kyrie eleison. 

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ indwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from compliance; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with Your presence, so that we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.
Amen. 

United in faith and prayer, we go forth. Now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2).

SAINT METHODIUS,
SAINT CYRIL,
21 COPTIC MARTYRS OF LIBYA,
SAINT VALENTINE,
SAINT BENEDICT,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sixth Week in Ordinary Time/Ash Wednesday and the days following

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family

World Day of the Sick

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 9 The Number of Psalms at the Night Office - Ch 14 The Celebration of Vigils on the Anniversary of Saints 

In whose spirit is no guile.

HOLY FAMILY, OUR SUPPORT IN LIFE AND OUR HOPE IN DEATH,
MARY, MOTHER OF GOOD COUNSEL,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God ...
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Cor 10:31, 11:1)

Welcome, faithful readers, to the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time that takes us to Ash Wednesday and the days following, all leading to the First Sunday of Lent, still in the month of February dedicated to the Holy Family. The words from Saint Paul above are simply awesome. As Saint Benedict tells us too, in Chapter 57 of the Holy Rule, "The Artisans of the Monastery," whatever we do, we do "so that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Pet 4:11/RB 57:9). Folks, let's give it up for the Lord now, and during the upcoming holy season of Lent. So that in all things God may be glorified, let us refuse to indulge evil habits, devote ourselves to prayer with tears, read one book from cover to cover, look inside our heart with honesty and seek forgiveness, and deny ourselves some food, drink, needless talking and idle jesting. Just say "no" to idle chit-chat. We do these things and look forward to holy Easter with joy (see RB 49. The Observance of Lent). If you are going to boast, then boast in the Lord. All other boasting just might make us look ridiculous. Do everything in word and deed, then, for the glory of God alone. For this, we give God the praise.

And as I write on Super Bowl Sunday, our voices for the week begin with a member of the faithful who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. Mr. Butler certainly has his priorities in order. By the way, do any of you remember the All-Pro fullback Christian Emeka Okoye, "the Nigerian Nightmare," who played for the Chiefs in the late 80s and early 90s? He was awesome too; he barreled through just about everyone, like a juggernaut. Go Chiefs. 😎. I could go on now forever on the glory days of the 70s too, with Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page of the Vikings, Kenny Stabler and Fred Biletnikoff of the Oakland Raiders, "Sweetness" Walter Payton and the Chicago Bears, Ken Anderson and the Bengals ... 

Dear Lord, guide all of us as we respond to the universal call to holiness and give You the glory.

I want to be a saint. And that's the most important thing. And that's why I'm here on earth.
(Mr. Harrison Butler, Kansas City Chiefs field goal kicker)

Blessed Pier also had his priorities in order. And he was no slouch when it came to athletics. In fact, Pier was all-around awesome. May he intercede for us. 

Learn to be stronger in spirit than in your muscles. 
If you are, you will be real apostles of faith in the Lord.
(Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, 1901-1925)

Preparation for Lent begins with desire. We exist to desire God. As Saint Augustine says, 'My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.' In this is the preparation for Lent: touching a desire for God that is deep down in the heart. Desire is like a flame, it starts small and it grows. Lent should fan our desire for God into a bonfire ...
(Servant of God Catherine de Heuck Doherty, 1896-1985)

Jesus is in the fire in the very center of our souls ever burning. Yet we are cold because we do not stay by it. Our look of love at Him draws back a look of love on us, and His divine love enkindles that fire of love in us which makes us remember Him continually.
(Mother Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821)

Lord, here are my hands.
Place in them what you will,
Take from them what you will,
Lead me where'er you will,
In everything-your will be done.
(Blessed Eduard Mueller, 1911-1943)

Prayer of Generosity

Lord teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as You deserve.
To give and not count the cost.
To fight and not to heed the wounds.
To toil and not to seek to rest.
To labor and not to seek reward,
Except that of knowing I do Your will.
(Saint Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

From another excellent novel with inspiration to keep going, no matter what ...

You know, when I was a kid back in Jamaica, my great-gramma used to say she was 'old but not cold.' She lived to her late nineties. To her last days, she was in the kitchen, baking raisin buns for us kids. She liked to keep busy, too.
(Terry to Tova in S. van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel, Ecco 2022, p. 316)

OUR LADY OF LOURDES,
SAINT GOBNAIT, 
SAINT JULIAN THE HOSPITALLER,
SAINT CATHERINE DE RICCI,
BLESSED REGINALD OF ORLEANS, OP,
SAINT METHODIUS,
SAINT CYRIL,
SAINT VALENTINE,
21 COPTIC MARTYRS OF LIBYA,
SAINT CLAUDE LA COLOMBIERE,
BLESSED NICHOLAS OF PAGLIA, OP,
SAINT ONESIMUS,
BLESSED JORDAN OF SAXONY,
THE SEVEN HOLY PROPHETS OF THE SERVITE ORDER,
SAINT FINTAN OF CLONENAGH,
BLESSED WILLIAM RICHARDSON,
PRAY FOR US.

NB. In other years, we would commemorate Our Lady of Lourdes. When was the last time you took a look at Pope Saint John II and his Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris Salvific suffering, given February 11, 1984, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. One paragraph at a time. Our Lady of Lourdes, please cover us in your protective veil.   

Today's photo: Exult, all you upright of heart.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 7:41 Humility - Ch 8 The Divine Office at Night

He calls each by name.

HOLY FAMILY, TESTED BY THE GREATEST DIFFICULTIES,
MARY, MOTHER ADMIRABLE,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
(1 Cor 9:22-23)

Welcome, dear faithful readers, to yet another rainy morning now in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, fully immersed in the month of February, the month dedicated to the Holy Family, with, by way of friendly reminder, Ash Wednesday and the days after it, coming soon to a theatre near you. And the first question that came to mind as I typed Saint Paul's words above, what am I willing to do for the sake of the gospel? What about you? Reading the rest of Saint Paul's words of the last part of Ch. 9 in his first letter to the Corinthians, I certainly do not want to run around aimlessly and engage in shadowboxing; no, I, with you, am looking to win an imperishable crown (see 1 Cor 9:24-27). So, what is it I am going to do? Thankfully, I have a bit more time to reflect and take inventory before the commencement of the holy Season of Lent. At the same time, I pray for the grace to do God's holy will, no matter what. We join Jesus then, and go off to a deserted place, or any place available to us, and pray (see Mark 1:35). Put your hand out, Jesus will grasp it, and help you up. And the fever that ails us just may leave (see Mark 1:31). I believe, help my unbelief.

And now our voices for the week, seven sandwiched by Saint Benedict from the Holy Rule, Chapter 7. Humility:

Those who are patient amid hardships and unjust treatment are fulfilling the Lord's command: When struck on one check, they turn the other; when deprived of their coat, they offer their cloak also; when pressed into service for one mile, they go two. With the Apostle Paul, they bear with false brothers, endure persecution, and bless those who curse them.
(Rule of Saint Benedict, 7:42-43)

It is a pity that having before us an eternity of rest we seek to rest here on earth.
(Blessed Tiburcio Arnaiz Munoz, 1865-1926)

If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint.
(Saint Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

In the middle of my physical sufferings, the inner music of my soul will not stop praising God with acts of virtue offering Him my love.
(Saint Genoveva Torres Morales, 1870-1956)

As soon as we know the will of God, we must fulfill it, even if we die.
(Saint Gaetano Errico, 1791-1890)

God ... is always more merciful than His ministers; may you be as merciful as you can be, so that you will receive mercy from God.
(Saint Gaetano Errico, 1791-1890)

Seek not your own interests, but those of Jesus Christ.
(Blessed Tiburcio Arnaiz Munoz, 1865-1926)

Our end is God, source of every good, in whom alone, as we say in prayer, we must put confidence and not in others. Our benign Lord has wanted to increase in you the faith and to answer your holy prayer to Him ...
And right now I repeat and affirm it again: if you remain steadfast in faith, especially during temptations, the Lord will console you in this world, will lead you out of temptations, and will give you peace and tranquility in this world, I say, temporarily, and in the next forever.
(Saint Jerome Emiliani, 1486-1537)

It is a blessing that You have humbled me so that I can learn Your commandments.
(Rule of Saint Benedict, 7:54)

SAINT GILBERT OF SEMPRINGHAM,
SAINT JOHN DE BRITTO,
BLESSED MARIE-EUGENE GRIALOU,
SAINT CATHERINE DE' RICCI, OP,
SAINT AGATHA,
SAINTS PAUL MIKI AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS,
SAINT GONSALO GARCIA, PETER BAPTISTA AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS,
SAINT MEL,
SAINT RICHARD OF CHICHESTER,
SAINTS WILLEBALD, WINNEBALD, AND WALBURGA,
SAINT JEROME EMILIANI,
SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA,
SAINT APOLLONIA, 
SAINT SCHOLASTICA,
SAINT CUTHMAN OF STEYNING,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: Folks, it's raining cats and dogs. Again. However, we do get a break once in while like here, just last Sunday, January 28. Sing praise to our God, for He is gracious.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus

January 28: World Leprosy Day

Catholic Schools Week: January 28-February 3, 3024 "Catholic Schools: United in faith and community"

February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family 

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 7:19-50 Humility

Come, let us bow down in worship.

JESUS, THE MIGHTY GOD,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

MARY, ARK OF THE COVENANT,
JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH, 
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

I should like you to be free of anxieties.
(1Cor 7:32)

Hi dear faithful readers, welcome to the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time. Even though we are still in anything but Ordinary Time, it is not too early to anticipate Ash Wednesday (February 14) and the holy season of Lent, coming soon to a theatre near you. Have you given any thought to how you might refuse to indulge in at least one evil habit and deny yourself of some food, drink, sleep, needless talking, also known as idle chit-chat, and so on (See Rule of Saint Benedict 49 The Observance of Lent)? Hmm.

Now by way of anecdote, I had the privilege of serving as hebdomadarian last week. Put simply, the sister who is assigned that "function" intones the Call to Worship at the Liturgy of the Hours, proclaims the proclamation, sings the Collect, leads the prayer before dinner, and so on. She also proclaims the reading at the midday prayer. It happens that on the day we commemorated the great Saint Francis de Sales (he was the oldest of 13 children how cool is that!), this was the reading:

Let us practice those ordinary virtues ... patience, forbearance toward our neighbor, service of others, humility, gentleness of heart, affability, tolerance of our own imperfections, and similar little virtues. I do not say that we are not to ascend by prayer, but that we do so one step at a time.
(Saint Francis de Sales, 1567-1622, Letters of Spiritual Direction)

So, as I boldly proclaimed, "slowly, clearly, and distinctly" as my dear dad of happy memory taught me, I stumbled over the phrase, "tolerance of our own imperfections." I thought I read "imperfection," so read the phrase again as "imperfections." As you might imagine, or not, there were a few glances thrown, as well as stirring about. A few days later, I learned that I did not read "imperfection" or even "imperfections," but rather "perfection" and "perfections"! Now how fitting is that? This true to life story caused me to think the last few days that, if a person has no tolerance for her own imperfections, she has even more intolerance for the imperfections of others. Or perhaps a person conveniently forgets her own imperfections and shortcomings and prefers to focus on everyone else's. Why on earth would Saint Francis de Sales include this call to action if it were not the case? I sometimes think of the business of perfectionism and imperfections as a plague of religious life, especially since a kind sister told me when I first entered the monastery some 24 years ago, "Welcome to the human race." However, since Saint Francis de Sales wrote primarily to the lay faithful, the plague must not be in containment. The business of perfectionism and imperfections must also be a plague of the married life, and surely the single life as I can attest. Otherwise, why would Pope Saint Gregory the Great have bothered to write this in the 7th century?

The married should not ... worry themselves so much about what they must endure from their spouse but consider what their spouse must endure on account of them. For if one really considers what must be endured on his account, it is all the easier to bear the things of others.
(Pope Saint Gregory the Great, d. 604)

And why would Grace, in the novel Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (Random House, 2011), have bothered to say this to Major Pettigrew?  "Oh, I deserved it completely," said Grace. "It's so much easier to tell other people how to do their job than fix one's own shortcomings, isn't it?" Hmmm. In any case, these are some things to reflect upon and pray about, or not, as we anticipate the holy season of Lent, coming soon, as I say, to a theatre near you.

Along the same line of thought, the Holy Father was on the business of evil and the devil at today's Sunday Angelus Address. He re-emphasized something he said at his November 27, 2023, General Audience catechesis. Pope Francis reminded us that, "There is no dialogue with the devil, because if you enter into dialogue with him, he wins, always. Be careful." When tempted then, to conveniently forget my own imperfections and shortcomings, and when I feel the chains of evil amid the devil's relentless attacks, it is best to call on the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. That is what we do, folks, and that is our definition as Pope Benedict XVI tells us: "This is our definition: we belong among those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."* Invoke the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, come to my aid; help me! Then be silent and listen. "Quiet! Come out of her!" (See Mark 1:25). And it certainly doesn't hurt to call on Saint Michael the Archangel as well, to defend us in the battle. It's not a coincidence either, that I just started to re-read C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters. Be careful. Wormwood, mentored by his Uncle Screwtape, is on the prowl. 

As we go forth this week, united in faith and prayer, here are a few other voices to consider. One step at a time. One step at a time. "For Scripture has it: 'Anyone who perseveres to the end will be saved,' and again, 'Be brave of heart and rely on the on the Lord'" (Rule of Saint Benedict 7:36-37). 

Do not be anxious. Rouse yourself to serve the Lord with steadfastness, attentiveness, and meekness. That is the true way to serve Him. If you can refrain from trying to do all things, but instead attempt to do only some one thing, then you will do much.
(Saint Francis de Sales, 1567-1622)

The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day by day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as "good news" to the people of every age and culture ... It is therefore a service of love which we are all committed to ensure our neighbor, that his or her life may always be defended and promoted, especially when it is weak or threatened.
(Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium vitae Gospel of Life, 1, 77). 

And a couple of lengthy quotations, well worth it though. Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of faith and the tradition of the Church, the Body of Christ. 

All things have value if they are inspired and carried out by love, while without love nothing has value, at least not in life's final analysis. If this is our focus, we will be able to say of each of our actions, "this will remain." This holds true for our work, as it does for our relaxation, for educating our children, for our conversations with others, our travels, our way of dressing, our manner of eating, and for any other smallest of actions. It holds true for all the unexpected things that each day brings, the surprises God has in store for us. It even holds true-and this is very consoling-if any illness forces us to inactivity and confines us to bed with no apparent end in sights.
(Servant of God Chiara Lubich, 1920-2008)

My last word to you, by which I implore you even with my blood, is that you live in harmony, united together, all of one heart and one will. Be bound to one another by the bond of charity, esteeming each other, helping each other, bearing with each other in Jesus Christ. For if you strive to be like this, without any doubt the Lord God will be in your midst. You will have in your favor Our Lady, the apostles, all the saints, the angels, and finally all heaven and all the universe. God has so ordained from all eternity that for those who for His honor are united in doing good enjoy every prosperity, and what they do turns out well, because they have God Himself and every one of His creatures in their favor.
(Saint Angela Merici, 1474-1540)

And as always, there is one more thing before we invoke the glorious saints. I was surprised to learn that there may be more faithful readers out there than I thought. Give God the praise. Yes, I know that not everyone reads everything, or even a bit, but a world record of over 200 people have at least opened this reflection each of the last four weeks. Maybe there was one word, or a phrase, or the name of a saint, or a quotation, or anything else that might have served as an inspiration. After all, we are about spreading the Good News, in word and deed. I believe, help my unbelief. Mary, please cover all of us in your protective veil. Keep going!

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS,
SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT,
SAINT DAMIAN OF MOLOKAI,
SAINT MARIANNE COPE,
SAINT GILDAS THE WISE,
SAINT CONSTANTINUS,
SAINT PAPIAS AND MAURUS,
SAINT SULPITIUS SEVERUS,
BLESSED ARCHANGELA GIRLANI,
BLESSED VILLANA DE' BOTTI,
SAINT AEDAN OF FERNS,
SAINT HYACINTHA OF MARISCOTTI,
SAINT BRIGID OF IRELAND,
SAINT HENRY MORSE,
SAINT THOMAS GREEN,
BLESSED BENEDICT DASWA,
BLESSED CANDELARIA OF SAINT JOSEPH,
SAINT ANSGAR, BISHOP, THE APOSTLE OF THE NORTH,
SAINT BLAISE, BISHOP, MARTYR,
PRAY FOR US.

* Pope Benedict XVI, 1927-2002, General Audience, November 22, 2006.

Today's photo: This sweet little one and its companions (forthcoming) are some of the first in each year to appear. Oh, that today you would hear His voice.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Third Week in Ordinary Time

January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus

Sunday of the Word of God

January 18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 22: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" (Saint Teresa of Calcutta).

January 27: Interviews Holocaust Remembrance Day

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 4:63 The Tools for Good Works - Ch 7:18 Humility

Good and upright is the Lord.

JESUS, OUR WAY AND OUR LIFE,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

MARY, VIRGIN MOST PRUDENT,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

The world in its present form is passing away.
(1 Cor 7:31)

Welcome to the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, on the Sunday of the Word of God, still in the week of prayer for Christian Unity, with January 22 as a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children, all in the month of January dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, and the inauguration of a Year of Prayer in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year! Whew. And if that is not enough, beloved Jonah is on the move through the enormously large city of Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-5, 10). May we, great and small alike, follow the people of Nineveh and believe God. May the dear Lord see by our actions that we are about turning from our evil ways. It is never too late to repent and believe in the Gospel, as Saint Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) tells us: "To him who remains in the world, no repentance is too late. The approach to God's mercy is open." 

United in faith and prayer, we untangle the nets that ensnare us, abandon everything and follow the Lord. May Our Lady cover us in her protective veil.

And now a word from our sponsors in the manner of voices for the week:

Harbor neither hatred nor jealousy of anyone.
(Rule of Saint Benedict, 4:65-66)

Silence is good for the soul, essential to recollection, and conducive to humility. Remember Our Lord's silence throughout His life and during the hours of His Passion.
When I am in the company of others, for their good, I will talk freely on exalted and serious subjects, the discussion of which cannot fail to enlarge and strengthen both my own soul and theirs.
I will talk about nothing trivial and mean, and no petty grievances. My speech shall be recollected, and my silence living.
(Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, 1866-1914)

There is a time to keep silence and a time for speech. Christ, the wisdom of God, has given us an example of both. We must not speak, so as to give advantage to cavils, we must not be silent as to betray the truth.
(Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821)

Run, jump, shout, but do not sin.
(Saint John Bosco, 1815-1888)

We must speak to them with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.
(Saint Peter Claver, 1580-1654)

There is no love without renunciation.
(Saint Josemaria Escriva, 1902-1975)

There can be no doubt that for us who love Jesus, prayer is the great pain-reliever.
(Saint Josemaria Escriva, 1902-1975)

We need not do a great deal of thinking to appreciate what Jesus has been for us. We need only recall some of the happy memories of our lives and, full of gratitude and love, we shall realize some of what we owe Him ... God grants His grace to souls not because they merit it, but because He wants to.
(Blessed Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, 1861-1937)

And a couple more on the importance of reading, and writing too!

I’ve always loved to read, long before I began to write. If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.
(Stephen King, b. 1947)

I kept always two books in my pocket: one to read, one to write in.
(Robert Louis Stevenson, 1815-1894)

SAINT MARIA GABRIELLA SAGHEDDU,
SAINT AGNES,
SAINT NINO,
SAINT PUBLIUS,
BLESSED ANTHONY DELLA CHIESA,
BLESSED HENRY SUSO,
SAINT TITUS AND TIMOTHY, BISHOPS,
SAINT ANGELA MERICI,
SAINT VINCENT, DEACON,
SAINT MARIANNE COPE,
BLESSED BENEDETTA BIANCHI PORRO,
SAINT DAMIAN OF MOLOKAI,
SAINT ILDEPHONSUS
SAINT EUGENIUS,
SAINT LEOCADIA,
SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES, BISHOP, DOCTOR,
SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL,
SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE,
SAINT ALBERIC, ROBERT, AND STEPHEN, ABBOTS, FOUNDERS,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: It was raining cats and dogs when this one appeared, from July 10, 2019. By the way, it is still raining cats and dogs. 🐈🐶

© Gertrude Feick 2024