Sunday, June 9, 2024

Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 7:35-59 Humility

Let Your ears be attentive.

HEART OF JESUS, SOURCE OF ALL CONSOLATION,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

MARY, MOTHER OF HOPE,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

Where are you? ... 
Who told you that you were naked?
(Genesis 3:9, 11)

Welcome to the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time in the month of June dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It's certainly a nice place to be, that is, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can't go wrong there. At the same time, it is also nice to be in the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, Mary. Place yourself in the heart of both Son and Mother. All will be well and all manner of things will be well, Julian of Norwich (c.1343-1416) tells us.

Thoughts are scattered today. Here, there, and everywhere as it goes. Just like the breeze. The lines included above from the Book of Genesis come from the first reading for Mass today. (Genesis 3:9-15). There, God goes looking for Adam and his wife who were hiding in the garden. It was at the breezy time of the day. ☺The couple was afraid, because they were naked, so they hid from God. So, God poses the questions, even though He knows the truth. At this breezy time of the day, then, just what was blowing around? Hmmm. When I read this account, something that comes to mind is the blame game. "It was 'her' fault," or, "It was 'his' fault." I think of the Family Circus cartoons I used to love. There it was the "Not me," game. The mom (Thelma), or dad (Bil) would ask who did this or that, and the children would respond, "Not me." It occurs to me too that in such a scene there was a little ghost in the photo. Was is the "Not me" ghost? I will have to take a look. I just did and found that I still love the cartoon, especially now as I smile and see the "Not me" ghost in a few scenes. Classic. Bil walks in the door carrying his tennis racket and asks two of his four children in the entryway. "Who left my racket out in the rain?, " asks Daddy. "Not me." Not me," are the responses of the two little boys, Billy and Jeffy. At the same time, the "Not me" ghost stands on the counter. Um huh. In any case, I reminded about the importance of taking responsibility for what I have done or haven't done. Instead of pointing the one finger at someone else, I am better to look at the three fingers pointing at myself. Take ownership and responsibility. No blaming allowed. The grace of God will carry us on. Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory. Please, help us to do your holy will. For, as Jesus tells us in today's Gospel (Mark 3:20-35), whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. No hiding allowed. 

Keep going, faithful readers. We are not discouraged, Saint Paul tells us in the second reading at Mass (2 Cor 4:13-5:1). "Although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For any momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven" (2 Cor 4:16-5:1). Together, united, "we are always courageous ... for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5: 6-7). As in the words of the psalmist: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Ps 127:10).

Our voices for the week are varied. All come from saints who promoted Eucharistic devotion. Except for the first voice, that comes from Cardinal Robert Sarah in his powerful book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, Ignatius 2017. I pick it up now and then.  I didn't know where to begin with the number of passages I've marked so far. Let's start with this one, that, as it turns out, might be responded to by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

It is necessary to leave our inner turmoil to find God. Despite the agitations, the busyness, the easy pleasures, God remains silently present. He is in us like a thought, a word, and a presence whose secret sources are buried in God Himself, inaccessible to human inspection.

The language that everyone understands is love.
(Saint Joseph Freinademetz, 1852-1908)

It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation.
(Saint Damien de Veuster, 1840-1889)

My dear ones, the visit to the Blessed Sacrament is an extremely necessary way to conquer the devil ... the devil is deathly afraid of fervent Communions and frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament
(Saint John Bosco, 1815- 1888)

Make my tongue, O Lord, like a swift arrow to declare they marvelous works.
(Saint Anthony of Padua, "Ark of the New Testament," Doctor of the Church, 1195-1231)

Jesus Eucharistic is a conqueror ... He wants to subject the universe to His gentle sway.
(Saint Peter Julian Eymard, 1811-1868)

In other years on the date I write this, June 9, which this year falls on a Sunday, the Church commemorates Saint Ephrem (306-373), Deacon and Doctor. Saint Ephrem was a poet and a theologian, famous for, among other things, "not only for the beauty of expression of his homilies but also for his hymns, which have spread far beyond his native Syriac church and are in use in East and West alike." The following is from one his hymns used as the patristic reading for the June 9 Office of Readings. And here, Saint Ephrem too, speaks of the Eucharist.

In Your sacrament we daily embrace You and receive You into our bodies; make us worthy to experience the resurrection for which we hope. We have had Your treasure hidden within us ever since we received baptismal grace; it grows ever richer at Your sacramental table. Teach us to find our joy in Your favor! Lord, we have within us Your memorial, received at Your spiritual table; let us possess it in its full reality when all things shall be made new.
(From a sermon by Saint Ephrem, deacon, in Office of Readings, June 9)

From the following line-up, you see that there are several saints to commemorate this week. Pray to them, they will help you respond more fully to the universal call to holiness. Included is Saint Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of Lost and Found. And how fitting it is to turn to Saint Anthony when something is lost. It's like he immediately gets to work. Just this last week, in the midst of a busy day, I misplaced my Carmelite scapular. After Mass, I asked Saint Anthony to please get busy and find it. Not surprisingly, in less than an hour, a sister appeared holding it ... she found it in the laundry! Go, Saint Anthony, go! Thank you. Saint Simon Stock, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us.

SAINT EPHREM, DEACON AND DOCTOR,
SAINT COLUMBA,
SAINT JOSE DE ANCHIETA,
BLESSED EDWARD POPPE,
SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE,
SAINT ONUPHRIUS,
BLESSED ALPHONSUS MAZUREK AND COMPANIONS,
BLESSED HILARY JANUSZEWSKI,
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA, PATRON SAINT OF LOST AND FOUND,
SAINT DAVNET,
SAINT LIDWINA,
SAINT ALICE OR ALEYDIS,
SAINT GASPAR BERTONI,
SAINT ELISHA, PROPHET,
BLESSED MARIA CANDIDA OF THE EUCHARIST,
SAINT METHODIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
BLESSED PETER SNOW AND RALPH GRIMSTON,
BLESSED GERARD, CISTERCIAN MONK, OLDER BROTHER OF BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX,
SAINT GERMAINE COUSIN,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: To my voice in supplication.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ/Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 7:35-59 Humility

I will take up the cup of salvation, 
and call on the name of the Lord.

HEART OF JESUS, TABERNACLE OF THE MOST HIGH,
JESUS, SOURCE OF NEW LIFE,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

MARY, HOUSE OF GOLD,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US. 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
(John 6:51)

Buon domenica and welcome to Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. What a privileged way to enter the month of June dedicated to the Sacred Heart. For all this, we give God the praise.

There is certainly quite a bit to reflect upon today. One line that stood out is found in the first reading at Mass, from the Book of Exodus. It is the people's response to Moses, when Moses came to all the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord. With one voice, all the people answered: "We will do everything that the Lord has told us." Hmmm. Are you ready to do everything that the Lord tells you? You might consider something Saint Therese of Lisieux wrote: "Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be." Or as Dante wrote, "In His will is our peace." When you receive Holy Communion today and every day, ask for the grace to do everything that the Lord tells you. May we do God's holy will and find the peace that only the Lord can give.

Our voices for this week are all about the Eucharist. After all, not only is it Corpus Christi, our country is preparing for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress to converge upon Indianapolis, Indiana, yes, the Hoosier State, July 17-21. 

Indeed, the Eucharist is God's response to the deepest hunger of the human heart, the hunger for authentic life, because in the Eucharist Christ Himself is truly in our midst to nourish, console, and sustain us on our journey.
(Pope Francis, Greeting to the Organizing Committee of the National Eucharistic Congress in the United States of America, June 19, 2023)

The Eucharistic sacrifice is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life.
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11)

If the sacred liturgy holds the first place in the life of the Church, then the Eucharistic Mystery stands at the heart and center of the liturgy, since it is the font of life that cleanses us and strengthens us to live not for ourselves but for God and to be united to each other by the closest ties of love.
(Pope Saint Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 2)

Keep yourselves free from sin so that every day you may share in the mystic meal; 
by doing so our bodies become the body of Christ.
(Saint Hesychius of Jerusalem, d. 433)

Let us encourage one another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder, towards our encounter with the Holy Eucharist, so that we may experience and proclaim to others the truth of the words which with Jesus took leave of His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always until the end of the world" (Mt 28:20)
(Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 97)

There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. 
If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.
(Saint John Vianney, 1786-1859)

Holy Communion is the safest and shortest way to heaven.
(Pope Pius X "Pope of the Eucharist," 1835-1914)

SAINTS MARCELLINUS AND PETER,
SAINT POTHINUS AND BLANDINA,
SAINT CHARLES LWANGA AND HIS COMPANIONS,
SAINT KEVIN,
SAINT CLOTILDE,
SAINT OPTATUS,
SAINT BONIFACE "APOSTLE OF GERMANY", BISHOP, MARTYR,
SAINT NORBERT,
SAINT MARCELLIN CHAMPAGNAT,
SAINT JARLATH,
SAINT COLMAN OF DROMORE,
SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER,
BLESSED ANNE OF ST BARTHOLOMEW,
SAINT JAMES BERTHIEU,
SAINT WILLIAM OF YORK,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: Precious in the eyes of the Lord.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity/Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week:  Ch 7:1-34 Humility

All His words are trustworthy.

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

HEART OF JESUS, SON OF THE ETERNAL FATHER,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God, and also the Holy Spirit, 
for He has shown us His merciful love.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)

Attenzione! Listen to the words of our holy father Saint Benedict: "As soon as the cantor begins to sing 'Glory be to the Father,' let all the monks rise from their seats in honor and reverence for the Holy Trinity" (Rule of Saint Benedict, 9:7). Welcome to the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. So, rise from your seats in honor and reverence and sign yourself BIG: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen! And as things go smoothly and not so smoothly this week, remember what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel: And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). Not sometimes, rather, always. Jesus is always with us.  Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten our words and deeds so that we cry with gratitude, "Abba, Father!" May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our faith in you (Ps 33). 

Monday is Memorial Day, a day when our country honors those who have died in military service for the United States. It also happens to be the unofficial start to summer. As we honor the Americans who gave their lives in military service, and get busy this summer, we remember three American priests who not only lost their lives as they served as military chaplains but are also candidates for sainthood! So important were chaplains, that in 1915, British field marshal Sir Douglas Haig (1861-1928) had this to say, "A good chaplain is as valuable as a good general."

SERVANT OF GOD EMIL KAPAUN (India, Burma, and Korea),
SERVANT OF GOD VINCENT CAPODANNO (Vietnam War),
SERVANT OF GOD JOSEPH VERBIS LAFLEUR (World War II in the Philippines),
PRAY FOR US.

As we celebrate today's Solemnity and travel through the last days of May 2024, some of our voices have something to say about the Holy Trinity, others speak of Mary, Our Lady, and one speaks of both. 

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy of truths of faith."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234)

The Virgin Mary, in her docile humility, became the handmaid of divine Love: she accepted the Father's will and conceived the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. In her the Almighty built a temple worthy of Him and made her the model and image of the Church, mystery and house of communion for all human beings. May Mary, mirror of the Blessed Trinity help us to grow in faith of the Trinitarian mystery.
(Pope Bendict XVI, Angelus Address, Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2009)

The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity leads us to contemplate the mystery of God who unceasingly creates, redeems and sanctifies, always with love and through love, and enables every creature that welcomes Him to reflect a ray of His beauty, goodness and truth,
(Pope Francis, Angelus Address, Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018)

Jesus is Our Lord and Mary is Our Lady. She takes total care and responsibility for us; she happily exercises this dignity and responsibility ...
During your prayer, go to Mary and have a heart-to-heart talk with her. If we put our life into her hands, if we really and truly ask for her help, we can be sure that we will never get into serious trouble because she will provide before we even know it. Only in heaven will we know how many mistakes we avoided, how many sins we did not commit because she was helping us, imploring for us, giving so much to us out of the goodness of her heart.
(Servant of God Ida Peterfy, 1922-2002)

The Blessed Virgin Mary can do more than all the physicians in the world ...
true veneration of the Blessed Virgin consists in not offending her divine Son in any way.
(Saint Crispin of Viterbo, 1668-1750)

There is no surer or easier way than Mary for uniting all persons with Christ.
(Pope Saint Pius X, 1835-1914)

We pray Mary most holy to obtain for us the grace of lives oriented completely toward God. Mary the Virgin knew how to reply: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word. May her disposition be ours also. May she who was conceived without sin help us all, poor sinners, to seek only God, to do penance, and to live always for righteousness (1 Pt 2:14) ...
Mary is the "Morning Star" that announces the arrival of the Rising sun, the Sun of Justice, Jesus the Savior. May she bring us to Jesus, she who is the first to believe.
(Francis Cardinal Arinze)

And as we go forth this week, we hear once more from dear Saint Crispin of Viterbo. Just when you feel all dried up and ready to take a breather remember something Saint Crispin said: "Paradise is not for lazybones."! So, as we hear what the Lord God said to the Prophet Ezekiel, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life” (Ezk 37:4-5). Then ask yourself a question from the psalmist included in Saint Benedict's Holy Rule: "Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?" (RB Prologue 15). What will it be then? Keep going.

SAINT PHILIP NERI, "PIPPO BUONO"
SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY,
BLESSED ANDREW FRANCHI OP,
BLESSED MARGARET POLE, COUNTENSS OF SALISBURY,
BLESSED BARTHOLOMEW BAGNESI OP,
BLESSED ANTONI JULIAN NOWOWIEJSKI,
POPE SAINT PAUL VI,
BLESSED RICHARD THIRKELD,
BLESSED JOSEPH GERARD,
BLESSED ELIA OF SAINT CLEMENT,
BLESSED WILLIAM ARNAUD OP AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS,
SAINT ZDZISLAWA OF LEMBERK OP,
SAINT LUKE KIRBY,
THE YORKSHIRE MARTYRS,
SAINT JOAN OF ARC,
SAINT WALSTAN,
BLESSED JAMES SALOMONIO OP,
SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: This beauty bows in honor and reverence for the Most Holy Trinity. For He spoke and it was made.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pentecost Sunday/Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week:  Ch 4 The Tools for Good Works - Ch 6 Restraint of Speech

Lord, send forth your Spirit.

MARY, MOTHER OF HOPE,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 
gentleness, self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

Welcome to Pentecost Sunday in the month of May dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. And we are certainly going to need mercy as we move this week with Saint Benedict's Chapter 4 on the Tools for Good Works. So, let us "never lose hope in God's mercy" (RB 4:74). 

On this Pentecost Sunday and entrance into Ordinary Time once again, allow the Holy Spirit to stir you, rouse you, inspire you to turn from evil and do good, as, in the words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, "The Holy Spirit must teach us how to carry out in action, the good that is inspired, or grace in us shall remain void." The Holy Spirit will change your heart and mind if you let Him in. Uncomfortable, antsy, not particularly enjoying the Spirit-filled ride? Well, feel the breath of God and receive the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22). As we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit (see Gal 5:25). Yes, "Jesus is Lord" (see 12:3b).
 
Our voices this week are varied as we go forth and profess with all the faithful, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life" (The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed). 

The Holy Spirit is the one who moves us forward, who helps us progress, who enables us to develop Christian life ... The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to live the Christian life, and for this reason, with this courage, it changes our lives. Listen to the Spirit, pray to the Spirit, and if it's Him changing your life, trust the Spirit.
(Pope Francis, Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Verona, Italy, May 18, 2024)

When the Spirit has been sent, the face of the earth is created and renewed: this means that our earthly will becomes heavenly, ready at a nod to obey more quickly than a nod. Blessed are people like this, for not only do they perceive no evil, but they abide in a certain marvelous expansion of heart.
(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153)

We say that we must seek God, go to Him to ask for forgiveness, but when we go, He is waiting for us. He is first! ... You go [a] sinner, but He is waiting to forgive you.
(Pope Francis, Vigil of Pentecost, May 18, 2013)

Pour into our hearts your Holy Spirit, that you may keep us in unity of spirit and the bond of peace.
(Aelred of Rievaulx, 1110-1167)

Let the dove, I say, come with the olive branch, 
proclaiming peace with this branch that speaks of renewal and light.
(William of St. Thierry, 1075/80/85-1148, On Contemplating God)

Everyone has his or her own personality, and this can make it very difficult to live together. But "difficult" does not me "impossible"; otherwise Jesus never would have prayed: 
That they all may be one! ...
In the face of difficulties, I will not break, I will imitate the rushes and reeds, each one leaning toward the other-heart to heart, united in love; mind to mind, united in intelligence-so as to be able to reflect together and find the truth. 
(Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, 1928-2002)

O Spirit of truth, make me know your Word; teach me to remember all He has said; enlighten me, guide me, make me conformable to Jesus as an alter Christus, another Christ, by giving me His virtues, especially His patience, humility, and obedience; let me take part in his redemptive work by making me understand and love the cross.
(Sister Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D., 1910-1949)

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH,
SAINT BERNADINO OF SIENA,
BLESSED COLUMBA RIETI OP,
SAINT CHRISTOPHER MAGALLENES AND HIS COMPANIONS, 
SAINT EUGENE DE MAZENOD,
SAINT RITA OF CASCIA,
SAINT JOACHINA DE VEDRUNA DE MAS,
OUR LADY, HELP OF CHRISTIANS,
BLESSED LOUIS-ZEPHERIN MOREAU,
SAINT ALDHELM,
SAINT DOMINIC,
POPE SAINT GREGORY VII,
SAINT MARY MAGDALEN DE'PAZZI,
SAINT EUPHROSYNE OF POLATSK,
SAINT JANE ANTIDE THOURET,
SAINTS DONATIAN AND ROGATION, MARTYRS,
SAINT BEDE THE VENERABLE,
POPE SAINT GREGORY VII,
SAINT CUTHBERT,
SAINT MARY MAGDALENE DE PAZZI,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: And renew the face of the earth.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Seventh Sunday of Easter/The Ascension of the Lord

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mother's Day

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week: Ch 2:16 Qualities of the Abbot - Ch 3 Summoning the Brothers for Counsel

For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome.

MARY, GATE OF HEAVEN,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 
give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him.
(Ephesians 1:17)

Welcome to the Ascension of the Lord, in the month of May dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Mother's Day too. May our souls magnify the Lord and our spirits rejoice in God our Savior, then, for as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

May is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why: 
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season ...

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good,
Nature's motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this
Spring's universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May ...

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

For all mothers, then, we pray with heartfelt gratitude, respect, and deep admiration. Mary, Mother of God, please cover all mothers in your protective veil.

I am still with yesterday's (May 11, 2023) first reading at Mass taken from the Acts of the Apostles 18:23-28, which just happens to be related to today's second reading for Mass, one verse quoted above, from Saint Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. In the account from the Acts of Apostles, we heard about a Jew called Apollos who was an eloquent speaker. He was an authority on Scriptures, had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus. However, Apollos knew only the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos speak boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. There are many things to learn from this story. I focus though on the importance of helping one another grow in understanding of the faith. It is one of the spiritual works of mercy, that is, instructing the ignorant. Apollos certainly wasn't ignorant. Still, he needed to go further and learn more. We are all called to grow in our understanding of the faith. So, we spend time in prayer, listening and asking God to help us understand, we open the Bible and spend time with a verse, phrase, or word, and reflect on how God is speaking to us. We look for books, like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Ratzinger's classic, Introduction to Christianity, or Romano Guardini's classic, The Lord, for example, and courses and people to help us. We are united as theologians on our knees, and theologians at the desk. After all, it was Saint John Henry Newman who said that we need an educated laity. We need an educated Church, no matter our state in life. So, in our desire to grow in wisdom and knowledge, we ask the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him. As we have the humility and courage to grow in our own understanding of the faith, and then instruct others, the Lord is with us. At the same time, we might remember something Saint John Damascene said of Mary: Mary "has captivated my spirit ... day and night I see her in my imagination. It is she, the Mother of Virtue, who gives me eloquence."

Our voices this week all speak of women in general, and mothers and Mary, Mother of God, more specifically.  We begin with something we heard from Alice von Hildebrand some time ago. Her voice echoes.

A woman by her very nature is maternal - for every woman, either married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological, or spiritual mother - she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them - for maternity implies suffering - is infinitely more powerful in God's sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon.
(Alice von Hildebrand, 1923-2022)

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight that is so much of your womanhood, you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
(Pope Saint John Paul II, "Letter to Women," 2, June 29, 1995)

I am at peace in the midst of fifty children. I am as a Mother encompassed by many children of different dispositions ... bound to love, instruct, and provide for the happiness of all, to give the example of cheerfulness.
(Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821)

Good Mistress, graciously look down on us; direct and guide our destinies wheresoever you will. Pacify the storm of our wicked passions, guide us into the quiet port of the divine will, and grant us the blessedness to come.
(Saint John Damascene, 675/6-749, Priest, Doctor of the Church)

Our Lady of Faith, Mother of all the lonely and the frightened of all the ages, help us to keep faith through the long days and the longer nights: faith in God who does not desert us, who is with us all the days, even unto the consummation of the world (Mt 28:20). Mother of all, you whose faith did not falter because your love was so great, make our hearts large, that God may fill them with His love forever.
(Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P, 1914-1988, author, illustrator, especially of children's literature)

Mother Teresa's words follow, words many mothers might agree with.

May God break my heart so completely that the world falls in.
(Saint Teresa of Calcutta, 1910-1997)

And as we go forth this week, united in faith and prayer,

Let us ask for grace
and let us ask through Mary
because she has found what she sought
and she cannot be disappointed.

Let us ask for grace
but grace with God.
For with human beings
 grace is a delusion.

Let others ask for merit
let us eagerly ask for grace.

Why?

Is it not by grace 
that we are here?
(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary)
 
SAINTS NEREUS AND ACHILLES, MARTYRS,
SAINT PANCRAS, MARTYR,
THE CARHTUSIAN MARTYRS,
BLESSED JANE OF PORTUGAL OP,
OUR LADY OF FATIMA,
SAINT ERCONWALD,
BLESSED IMELDA LAMBERTINI OP, PATRON OF FIRST COMMUNICANTS, 
SAINT MATTHIAS, APOSTLE,
SAINT ISIDORE THE FARMER, PATRON OF MADRID, 
SAINT CARTHAGE,
BLESSED ANDREW ABELLON OP,
BLESSED GILES OF VAOZELA OP,
SAINT SIMON STOCK,
SAINT BRENDAN,
SAINT JOHN STONE,
SAINT ERIK OF SWEDEN,
SAINT PACHOMIUS,
POPE SAINT JOHN I,
BLESSED ANTONIA MESINA,
SAINT PASCAL BAYLON, HEAVENLY PROTECTOR OF EUCHARISTIC CONGRESSES AND ASSOCIATIONS,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: Sing hymns of praise.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week:  Prologue 21 - Ch 2:10 Qualities of the Abbot

Sing to the Lord a new song.

MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

In this is love: not that we have loved God, 
but that He loves us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.
(1 John 4:10)

Welcome to the Sixth Sunday of Easter fully immersed in the glorious month of May, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is written about the word in the Letter to the Hebrews certainly rings true today, namely, "the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart" (Heb 4:12). Our readings are packed with wisdom to take to lectio divina, that is, divine reading. What is the word of God saying to you today? Stop. Take inventory. Whether in a moment of gratitude, sorrow, joy, anxiety, restlessness, warmth or cold, listen. Remain in my love, says the Lord.  As the Father loves me, so I also love you, yes, you. It is through Our Lord that we have life. We have life and light to love Him, ourselves and one another. We say with Saint Paul, "I myself am also a human being." Yes, "by God's grace I am what I am" (Rule of Saint Benedict, Prologue 31/1 Cor 15:10). I grow in virtue; I stumble and fall along the path to holiness. No matter, we are all acceptable to the Lord, for He shows no partiality. Our Lord loves saint and sinner alike. He wants His joy to be in us so that our joy might be complete. Complete to share with whoever we encounter on the road to glory. Make God the center of your life, and as Saint Julian of Norwich says, "All will be well." "Only if God exists," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "only if He becomes the center of my life, is this love my neighbor as myself possible. But if He exists, if He becomes the center of my life, then it is also possible to reach this inward freedom of love." Love one another, commands the Lord. I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you. Whatever. Absorb His words that penetrate between soul and spirit. 

All our voices this week speak of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dear Mary, who will help us in this way of love so that we bear fruit, fruit that will remain. Indeed, "we must run and do now what will profit us forever" (Rule of Saint Benedict, Prologue 44). And, as Saint Rafael Arnaiz Baron wrote to his Uncle Leopoldo in 1937, "Given Mary, how could you not love God!!!"  "Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone" (RB Prologue 30).

First, we listen to Romano Guardini (1885-1968), from his classic work, The Lord. Chapter II, The Mother, begins in this way:

Anyone who would understand the nature of a tree, should examine the earth that encloses its roots, the soil from which its sap climbs into branch, blossom, and fruit. Similarly, to understand the person of Jesus Christ, one would do well to look to the soil that brought Him forth: Mary, His mother.

Let us look to Mary, His mother, then, especially this month: Our Lady's month.

Our Mother in heaven deserves all the love our poor hearts are capable of. Our Lady never forgets us ... Ask yourself: Do I try to put new love each day into my effort to stay close to Our Lady?
(Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, 1914-1994, to members of Opus Dei)

The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?
(Saint Ambrose, 340-397, Bishop of Milan, Doctor of the Church)

Every great man in the Church has been most devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary ...
Virgin most innocent of any stain or fault, make me more worthy of God.
(Saint Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621)

The knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve has bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.
(Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Doctor of the Church, 130-202)

Mary
has been exalted
above the choirs of angels.

The Mother can contemplate
nothing above herself
but her Son alone.

The Queen
can gaze in wonder
as nothing above herself
but the King.

The Mediatrix
can venerate
nothing above herself
but the Mediator.

May she
by her prayers
represent
reconcile
and commend us
to her Only begotten Son
Jesus Christ
to whom be honor and glory
for endless ages.
(Guerric of Igny, 1070-80-1157)

And as we, united as we are in faith and prayer, go forth this week, we take with us comforting words from Pope Francis, words His Holiness gave to members of the Spanish Confraternity of Our Lady of Montserrat on the 800th anniversary of its foundation (2023). Our Lady of Montserrat, pray for us.

To celebrate Mary is to celebrate the closeness and tenderness of God who is with His people, who does not leave us alone, who has given us a Mother who cares for us and accompanies us.

SAINT ASAPH,
BLESSED EDMUND RICE,
SAINT RICHARD REYNOLDS,
SAINT ANGELUS,
SAINT FRANCOIS DE LAVAL,
SAINT EVODIUS,
SAINT JOHN OF BEVERLEY,
SAINT ALBERT OF BERGAMO, OP,
SAINT DOMINIC,
SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY,
SAINT PETER OF TARANTAISE,
BLESSED CATHERINE OF SAINT AUGUSTINE,
BLESSED JOHN SULLIVAN,
BLESSED ALOYSIUS RABATA,
SAINT GEORGE PRECA, MALTA'S SECOND FATHER IN FAITH,
SAINT COMGALL,
SAINT ANTONINUS OF FLORENCE, OP,
THE CARTHUSIAN MARTYRS,
SAINT PAUL,
BLESSED CHRISTIAN DE CHERGE AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF ATLAS,
SAINT JOHN OF AVILA,
SAINT DAMIEN DE VEUSTER,
HOLY ABBOTS OF CLUNY,
SAINT IGNATIUS OF LACONI,
PRAY FOR US

Today's photo: I managed this one while teetering on a ladder. With God, all things are possible. For He has done wondrous things. Alleluia.

© Gertrude Feick 2024

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Fifth Sunday of Easter

April is the month dedicated to the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Week:  Ch 70 Mutual Obedience - Prologue 20

They who seek the Lord shall praise Him.

JESUS, DWELLING IN THE TABERNACLES OF THE WORLD,
SPIRIT OF BENIGNITY AND GOODNESS,
HAVE MERCY ON US.

MARY, QUEEN OF ALL THINGS,
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL,
PRAY FOR US.

God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
(1 John 3:20)

Welcome, dear faithful readers, to the Fifth Sunday of Easter, still in the month of April dedicated to the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit. I am sorry that today's offering is late. However, it is still Sunday and time to start thinking about the great Doctor of the Church who we commemorate tomorrow; she is Saint Catherine of Siena, another one of my favorites. For now, though, let's be about bearing much fruit this week. Attached to Jesus the vine, we are the branches. Without the vine, we are nothing. As Jesus tells us, "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit." So we might think about one fruit of the Holy Spirit that we especially want to cultivate this week. What will it be ... charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. Those who keep His commandments remain in Him, and He in them, and the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He gave us (1 John 3:24). 

And once again, the moment we've been waiting for, that is, to hear from a voice here, there, and everywhere. Blessed as we are to enter the holy month of May this week, the glorious month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we hear first from now Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen, whose cause for canonization as a saint was officially opened under the leadership of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, in 2002 (see The Catholic University of America, "Cause for Canonization"). Not surprisingly, there have been a few bumps along the path for the Archbishop of happy memory. God is in charge, however. So, we will see. Secondly, we hear from Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort, who was especially devoted to Mary, Virgin and Mother. You may be familiar with his True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

God, who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. The moon would be only a burnt-out cinder floating in the immensity of space were it not for the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men.
(Fulton Sheen, 1895-1979, The World's First Love)

All the gifts, virtues and graces of the Holy Ghost are distributed by Mary, to whom she wishes, when she wishes, the way she wishes and as much as she wishes. It is by her that He applies His merits to His members, and that He communicates His virtues, and distributes His graces. She is His Mysterious canal; she is His aqueduct, through which He makes His mercies flow gently and abundantly ...
If then we are establishing sound devotion to Our Blessed Lady, it is only in order to establish devotion to Our Lord more perfectly, by providing a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ.
(Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort, 1673-1716)

Following Jesus means nothing other than reproducing His virtues in ourselves, in order to do all things well. It is trying to assume His imprint on our bodies and our souls that we might be entirely transformed into Him.
(Blessed Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, 1862-1937)

If we have lost confidence, God reopens us to faith; if we are discouraged, God awakens hope in us; if our heart is hardened, God softens it with His love.
(Pope Francis, Wednesday General Audience, April 24, 2024)

What is it that today makes true followers of Christ cast luxuries aside, leave pleasures behind, and endure difficulties and pain? It is living faith that expresses itself through love. It is this that makes us put aside the goods of the present in the hope of future goods. It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future.
(From a eulogy for Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr, in Office of Readings, April 24)

The essence of prayer is that I raise my mind to God. I turn my attention from every other thing. I empty my mind of every other thought. I give my whole mind wholly to God to be filled only by God, so that nothing, literally nothing, stands for the moment between my soul and Him.
(Monsignor Philip Hughes, 1895-1967)

Receive Holy Communion; put fire in your heart, which alone will do the work of conversion and your sanctification; warm up your cold hearts, and light them with love, and change the worldly man into a saint.
(Blessed Honoratus Kozminski, 1829-1916)

O Light of Truth, dispel these shadows from me today and drive away the fog! Feed me with the bread of life and understanding and give me the water of wisdom to drink.
(William of St. Thierry, 1075/80/85-1148)

SAINT PETER CHANEL,
SAINT LOUIS MARY GRIGNION DE MONTFORT,
BLESSED MARIA GUGGIARI ECHEVERRIA,
SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH,
POPE SAINT PIUS V,
SAINT MARIE OF THE INCARNATION,
OUR LADY, MOTHER OF AFRICA,
SAINT ATHANASIUS,
SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES,
SAINT JOSEPH THE WORKER,
THE ENGLISH MARTYRS,
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS,
SAINT CONLETH,
THE BEATIFIED MARTYRS OF ENGLAND AND WALES,
SAINT JOSE MARIE RUBIO,
BLESSED ANGEL PRAT HOSTENCH AND COMPANIONS,
BLESSED EMILY BICCHIERI, OP,
SAINT FLORIAN,
PRAY FOR US.

Today's photo: May your hearts live forever!

© Gertrude Feick 2024