Thursday, December 31, 2020

Seventh Day within the Octave of Christmas

40th Anniversary of Pope Saint John Paul II declaring Saints Cyril and Methodius ("Apostles to the Slavs") as Co-Patrons of Europe

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Pope Saint Silvester I (335); SS Melania the Younger (? 383-439) and Pinian (? 379-440); Saint Columba of Sens, Martyr (date unknown); Saint John-Francis Regis (1597-1640); Saint Catherine Laboure (1806-1876)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 73 This Rule Only a Beginning of Perfection

Mass: 1 Jn 2:18-21; Resp Ps 96; Jn1:1-18

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all you lands.

(Jn 1:16)

Welcome to the last day of the year 2020. Did you make a list of five things you are grateful for as suggested yesterday? The following, repeated from some time ago, comes from Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude:

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us-and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by heresay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.



© Gertrude Feick 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Sixth Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Anysius, Bishop (c. 410); Saint Egwin, Bishop (717); Bd Sebastian of Esztergom, Bishop (1036); Bd Margaret Colonna (1280)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 72 The Good Zeal of Monks

Mass: 1 Jn 2:12-17; Resp Ps 96; Lk 2:36-40

Bring gifts and enter His courts.

In these last couple days of 2020, there are many things we could be about. Something to consider, no matter what has come our way these past months, is to join faithful and devout Anna in today's Gospel by giving thanks to God (Lk 2:38). One should never weary of giving thanks to God and praising Him. Anna sure kept at it. How about making a list of five things you are thankful for? 

Something else to consider, which is also a way to give thanks to God, is to take to heart what has been called the most beautiful chapter of the Holy Rule, Chapter 72 The Good Zeal of Monks, and be people of good zeal. Good zeal works everywhere, at home, work, school, or wherever you find yourself. I include it here for you:

Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then, is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with greatest patience one another's weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else. To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; to God, loving fear; to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life. 


Today's photo: A king with gifts. 

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Fifth Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (1118-1170); Saint Trophimus, Bishop (?Third Century); Saint Marcellus Akimetes, Abbot (c. 485); Saint Ebrulf, Abbot (396); Bd William Howard, Martyr (1680)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 71 Mutual Obedience

Mass: 1 Jn 2:3-11; Resp Ps 96; Lk 2:22-35

Splendor and majesty go before Him; praise and grandeur are His sanctuary.


There is not much questioning to be done with this: "The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep His commandments." And "This is the way we may know that we are in union with Him: whoever claims to abide in Him ought to walk just as He walked" (1 Jn 2:3, 5-6). Primarily we are to walk in the Lord's way of love, the way of light. Love is demanding as we know well from Saint Paul: "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things ... (1 Cor 13:4ff). So let's not be a resounding gong or a clashing symbol (1 Cor 13:1). May we instead love our brothers and sisters and remain in the light of love with all its joys, sorrows, struggles and contradictions. Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Lk 2:35). 

The Son of God was born an outcast, in order to tell us that every outcast is a child of God. He came into the world as each child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, December 29, 2020)


Today's photo: A bit of beauty around 7:30 p.m. last night.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Theodore the Sanctified, Abbot (?314-368); SS Rumilus and Conindrius (c. 450); Bd Matthia of Matelica, Abbess (c. 1300); Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, Founder (1786-1837)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 70 The Presumption of Striking Another Monk at Will

Mass: 1 Jn 1:5-2:2; Resp Ps 124; Mt 2:13-18

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


The angel of the Lord appears to Joseph again in today's Gospel. In Chapter 1 of Saint Matthew's Gospel, the angel tells Joseph to take Mary into his home (Mt 1:20). And Joseph does. Today, in Chapter 2, the angel tells Joseph to take the child Jesus and his mother and flee to Egypt, and to stay there until further notice (Mt 2:19). And Joseph does. With the example of the Holy Family of God, may we too be prompt and ready to do the will of the Lord, at whatever the cost. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 Jn 5). 

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed
and proclaimed on this day,
not by speaking but by dying,
grant, we pray,
that the faith in you which we confess with our lips
may also speak through our manner of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Mass)

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (c. 100); Saint Fabiola (399); Saint Nicarete (c. 410); SS Theodore and Theophanes (841 and 845)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 69 The Presumption of Defending Another in the Monastery

Mass: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 with Resp Ps 128 or Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3 with Resp Ps 105; Col 3:12-21 or Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Lk 2:22-40

Glory in His holy name, rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!


Welcome to another glorious celebration in the Christmas Season, today with the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It is a prayer I read that sticks with me and provides an entry into the day. The prayer begins this way: "God and Father of all, you gave us the Holy Family to serve as an example of love and obedience. Grant to all people, in family homes or alone, the grace to hold in honor the bonds of love and respect which bind the human race chosen for adoption as your children ... (Magnificat, Prayer for the Morning, December 27, 2020). With such a prayer, all the faithful, wherever we find ourselves, as mother or father, son or daughter, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, or friend, look to the Holy Family as an example. What a privilege it is for all of us to look to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family lived a joyful life of deep faith, hope, and love. At the same time, they, as a human family, lived the daily struggles, misunderstandings and hardships that come with any life. They managed though, and persevered, day in and day out. So must we. Let's go about it though, like the Holy Family, with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, peace, and above all, love. And let us be thankful (Col 3:12-15). Remember the words of Meister Eckhart: "If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."

An excellent and simple prayer for all of us, then, is one found in my grandniece's prayer book, My First Prayers for the Whole Year (Ignatius, 2018). Thank you for sharing it Miss Vivi J. 😊

 A Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
Holy Family of God,
pray for us.
Help us to serve one another,
and to do our little everyday tasks
with great love.


Today's photo: Responding to the universal call to holiness. 

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Pope Saint Dionysius (268 or 269); Pope Saint Zosimus (418); Saint Tathai (Fifth-Sixth Century); Bd Vincentia Lopez y Vicuna, Foundress (1847-1890)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 68 The Assignment of Impossible Tasks

Mass: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Resp Ps 31; Mt 10:17-22

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.


There are at least three things to keep in mind these days. First, the demand of Christian discipleship is to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Second, we are to forgive not seven times, but seventy-seven times. And lastly, what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel: You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved (Mt 10:22).

We are called to bear witness to Jesus Christ right where we live, in our families, at work, everywhere, even just by giving the light of a smile and fleeing the shadow of gossip and tattle-telling.
(Pope Francis, Angelus Address, December 26, 2020) 


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Anastasia, Martyr (?304); Saint Eugenia, Martyr (date unknown); Bd Peter the Venerable, Abbot (1092-1156); Bd Bentivoglio de Bonis (1232); Saint Peter Nolasco, Founder (1256 or 1258); Bd Jacopone of Todi (c. 1230-c. 1306); Bd Michael Nakaxima, Martyr (1628); Bd Mary of the Apostles, Foundress (1833-1907); Saint Albert Chmielkowski, Founder (1845-1916)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 67 Those Sent on a Journey

Vigil Mass: Is 62:1-5; Resp Ps 89; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Mt 1:1-25

Mass During the Night: 9:1-6; Resp Ps 96; Titus 2:11-14; Lk 2:1-14

Mass at Dawn: Is 62:11-12; Resp Ps 97; Tit 3:4-7; Lk 2:15-20

Mass During the Day: Is 52:7-10; Resp Ps 98; Heb 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18

All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.


Let us rejoice in the Lord, for our Savior has been born in the world. Today true peace has come down to us from heaven.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass During the Night)

With all the readings proclaimed at the various Christmas Masses, one is hard pressed to choose a favorite. Saint Paul's Letter to Titus proclaimed at Mass During the Night speaks. Yes, "the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us ..." May we be "eager to do what is good." 

Christine Rodgers

What must 
the light

have been
like that

night - did

shine in a
glorious way

was it even
possible to

describe the
radiance - or

did it transcend

entirely? As
the child would

one day - igniting
the world with love.

Jesus was born in a stable, but was embraced by the love of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. By His birth in the flesh, the Son of God consecrated familial love. My thoughts this moment turn to families: to those who cannot come together today and to those forced to remain at home. May Christmas be an opportunity for all of us to rediscover the family as a cradle of life and faith, a place of acceptance and love, dialogue, forgiveness, fraternal solidarity and shared joy, a source of peace for all humanity.
(Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, December 25, 2020)


Today's photo: Our creche, detail. Bless the work of our hands. 

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Thursday, December 24, 2020

December 24

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Delphinus, Bishop (403); Saint Tharsilla (c. 550); Saint Mochua, Abbot (657); SS Dagobert II (679), Irmina (c. 710), and Adela, Abbess (c. 724); Bd Bartholomew dal Monte, Founder (1726-1778); Bd Paula Cerioli, Foundress (1816-1865); Saint Sharbel Makhlouf (1828-1898)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 66 The Porter of the Monastery

Mass in the Morning: Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Resp Ps 89; Lk 1:67-79

For ever will I sing the goodness of the Lord.


Jeremy Driscoll

The earth asleep a season
and birdsong few

the gliding clouds
and the immense quiet

soggy soil yet
already noiseless
push of the green.

This afternoon the light
was clearly longer than
        and the day

Let us celebrate the light
let us light a candle
        and a tree.

Far stars shall see
our hopeful signals
and let mercies
       and skyly strengths

                                        waking the earth
                                        stirring the birds
                                        drying the soil
                                        and pulling the green.

(Lk 1:68)

Today's photo: One last look at our 2020 Advent wreath with a friendly reminder: Advent "ends before First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) of Christmas", and "Christmas Time runs from First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) of the Nativity of the Lord [Christmas] up to and including the Sunday after Epiphany or after January 6" (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year, 40, 33).

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December 23

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint John of Kanty (1473); The Ten Martyrs of Crete (250); Saint Servulus (590); Bd Hartmann, Bishop (1164); Saint Thorlac, Bishop (1133-1193); Bd Margaret of Savoy, Foundress (1464); Bd Nicholaus Factor (1520-1583); Saint Margaret d'Youville, Foundress (1701-1771)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 65:11-22

Mass: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24; Resp Ps 25; Lk 1:57-66

Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the hope of all nations and their Savior: 
come and save us, O Lord our God!
(Traditional O Antiphon)

As we count down the days to Christmas singing the last of the great "O" Antiphons, we continue our journey through the first chapter of Saint Luke's Gospel. We began this past Saturday with the angel's visit to Zechariah (Lk 1:5-25). The angel announced the good news that Zechariah's wife Elizabeth would bear a son, whose name would be John. It may be a good day to keep on with the narrative as proclaimed these days since last Saturday. Today we have Elizabeth giving birth to that son, and "John is his name" (Lk 1:63). This is John, the infant who leaped in Elizabeth's womb at the sound of Mary's greeting (Lk 1:41). This is John, the voice of one crying out in the desert, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths" (Lk 3:4). It is not too late to listen to John's voice and prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths. In what one way will you prepare the way of the Lord today. O Emmanuel ... come and save us, O Lord our God! 

O Jesus, Wisdom, come.
O Jesus, Adonai, come.
O Jesus, Root of Jesse, come.
O Jesus, Key of David, come.
O Jesus, Rising Sun, come.
O Jesus, King of the Nations, come.
O Jesus, Emmanuel. come.


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

December 22

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Foundress (1850-1917); SS Chaerymon, Bishop, Ischyrion, and Others, Martyrs (250); Saint Jutta of Diessenberg (1136); Bd Adam of Loccum (1210)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 65:1-10 The Prior of the Monastery

Mass: 1 Sm 1:24-28; Resp Ps (1 Sm 2); Lk 1:46-56

My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

O King of the nations and their Desire, the Cornerstone who binds two into one: come and save mankind, whom you fashioned from clay.
(Traditional O Antiphon)

We sang this morning with Psalm 116: How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me? "All is gift", as friend of happy memory used to remind me all the time. Dear Hannah the mother of Samuel in our first reading would surely agree, as would Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. Why not join both in praising our God, the giver of all good things, today. My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted in my God ... (1 Sm 2:1-10). My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior ... (Lk 1:46-55). To God our praise is due. O King of the nations and their Desire ... come.


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Monday, December 21, 2020

December 21

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Peter Canisius, Doctor (1521-1597); Saint Peter Thi, Martyr (1763-1839); Bd Peter Friedhofen, Founder (1819-1860)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 64:7-22

Mass: Sgs 2:8-14 or Zeph 3:14-18a; Resp Ps 33; Lk 1:39-45 

Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

O Rising Dawn, splendor of eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come and illuminate those who sit in darkness and the shadow of light.
(Traditional O Antiphon)

Today's Gospel narrative was proclaimed last night at Vespers. It would take effort to not let the account of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face. I first pictured dear Mary travelling to the hill country "in haste" to visit her beloved cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1:39). Then there is the infant in Elizabeth's womb leaping at Mary's greeting (Lk 1:41). Surely Elizabeth must have been beaming with joy and love. And Mary too! May we be so eager to greet our Lord at Christmas. Here he comes, springing across the mountains and leaping across the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag (Sgs 2:8-9). Oh, "our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield. For in Him our hearts rejoice; in His holy name we trust" (Ps 33).

And here with some encouragement from Rome. In today's traditional Christmas greeting for Vatican employees and their families, Pope Francis reminded those gathered of their call, which is the call of all believers, wherever we find ourselves: "Bring the good news to the world: Jesus is Our Savior: we must tell everyone!" 'We do this by the witness of our lives, with joy and serenity that comes to us from faith and love: joy and serenity in spite of everything, above all else.' "Difficulties and sufferings cannot obscure the light of Christmas, which inspires an inner joy that nothing and no one can take away from us" (Vatican News, December 21, 2020). Thank you for encouraging us, Pope Francis. Remember, our God is God of the living. We go forth in faith, leaping with joy, united in prayer. O Rising Dawn ... come. 


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Ammon and Companions, Martyrs (250); Saint Philogonius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (324); Saint Dominic of Silos, Abbot (1073); Bd Scubilion (1797-1867); Saint Fachanan of Kilfenora

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 64:1-6 The Election of an Abbot or Abbess

Mass: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 141, 16; Resp Ps 89; Rm 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38

For ever I will sing the goodness of God.

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel: who open and none can shut; who shut and none can open: come and lead to freedom the prisoner who sits in darkness and the shadow of death. 
(Traditional O Antiphon)

We continue our count down to Christmas with the fourth great "O" Antiphon and address Jesus in this way:  O Key of David ... come. I like something I read yesterday about how great these "O" Antiphons are, for "nothing stands in the way of these antiphons: compared to them, even Sundays have no antiphon of their own" (Universalis, "About Today", December 19, 2020). O Key of David ... come.

Something else I read was this: "Advent is not a spectator sport but a way of life in service of the Gospel" (Magnificat, December 2020, p. 200). If for one reason or another you have been spectating, there is still time to get involved in the action. And there is plenty of that in today's Gospel. Be awake. An angel just may come to you today at a most unexpected time. You may be troubled or afraid. That would be a normal response one would think. After all Mary was. Still, listen to the message brought to you. Turn to God who can strengthen you (Rm 16:25). May your response and mine too join with Mary's: May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).

When the human spirit is ready, God enters without hesitation or waiting. You need not look either here or there. God is no farther away than the door of your heart.
(Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328)



Today's photo: Our Advent wreath for the Fourth Week of Advent.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

December 19

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Nemesius and Other Martyrs of Alexandria (250); Pope Saint Anastasius I (401); Pope Bd Urban V (1310-1370); SS Dominic Uy, Stephen Vinh, and Companions, Martyrs (1839)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 63:10-19

Mass: Jdg 13:2-7, 24-25a; Resp Ps 71; Lk 1:5-25

For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth.

O radix Iesse!
O Root of Jesse, who stand as a sign among the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the nations shall make supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
(Traditional O Antiphon)

The angels have been busy these days. Yesterday, "the angel of the Lord" appeared to Joseph in a dream (Mt 1:20). In our first reading for today, "an angel of the Lord" appears to the wife of Manoah (Jdg 13:3), and "the angel of the Lord" appears to Zechariah in our Gospel (Lk 1:11). What do you suppose would be your response to an angel's appearance? It may be worth reflecting on that question. The truth, as our Catechism teaches, is that "the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of the angels" (CCC 334). Furthermore, "from its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. 'Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life' .... (CCC 336). These are some of the reasons we venerate angels for "the Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being" (CCC 352). Ask your angel to help you as you prepare to celebrate Christmas. May all our angels protect and guide us as we count down the days to Christmas with the third of seven "O" Antiphons: O Root of Jesse ... come to deliver us, and tarry not. 

Jeremy Driscoll

water like glass
a fast
and sudden
wind races.

In two directions almost the same:
a flash of ripples.

An angel slicing
    the waters
    the pond,
delivering a message
to the bottom.

Fast again to heaven returned,
the waters all smooth,

the earth blessed.


Today's photo: One last look at our Advent wreath for the Third Week of Advent.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

December 18

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Flannan of Killaloe, Bishop (7th century);  SS Rufus and Zosimus, Martyrs (c. 107); Saint Gatian, Bishop (?301 or 307); Saint Samthann, Abbess (739); Saint Winnibald, Abbot (761); SS Peter Duong, Peter Truat, and Paul My, Martyrs (1839)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 63:1-9 Community Rank

Mass: Jer 23:5-8; Resp Ps 72; Mt 1:18-25

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds.

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flames of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come and redeem us with outstretched arm.
(Traditional O Antiphon)

We continue our preparation for Christmas with today's "O"Antiphon, addressing Jesus by His Old Testament title of Adonai, "the name," Universalis tells us, "which is pronounced whenever the too-sacred name 'YHWH' occurs in the Hebrew scriptures. It means 'Sovereignty', and by its use in sacred contexts it itself becomes too sacred to be used in ordinary speech" ("About Today", December 18, 2020).

Speaking of names for Jesus, we hear in today's Gospel narrative about "how the birth of Jesus Christ came about" (Mt 1:18). Fitting during this Year of Saint Joseph, we learn about Joseph, "a righteous man" (Mt 1:19) who took his wife Mary into his home (Mt 1:24). It was Joseph who named the son that Mary bore. Joseph "named him Jesus" (Mt 1:25). Yes, the name of Jesus, as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux writes: "Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a song in the heart ... it is medicine. Does one feel sad? Let the name of Jesus come into his heart, from there let is spring to his mouth, so that shining like the dawn it may dispel all darkness and make a cloudless sky" (On the Song of Songs, 15, 6). O Jesus, Adonai, come.


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Thursday, December 17, 2020

December 17

Year of Saint Joseph 

Happy 84th Birthday Pope Francis. Auguri! 

Other saints: Saint Judicael (658); Saint Sturmi, Abbot (779); Saint Wivina, Abbess (?1170); Saint John of Matha, Founder (1213); Bd Joseph Manyanet y Vives, Founder (1833-1901)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 62 The Priests of the Monastery

Mass: Gn 49:2, 8-10; Resp Ps 72; Mt 1:1-17

May He rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

O Sapientia!
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.
(Traditional O Antiphon)

Welcome to December 17 when we turn once again to the teaching of our Church and read that "the weekdays from December 17 up to and including December 24 are ordered in a more direct way to preparing for the Nativity of the Lord" (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year, 40). We are helped in our preparation in the readings at Mass, beginning with today's Gospel where we read Saint Matthew's "book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David the son of Abraham" (Mt1:1). Proclaim the text out loud, pronounce the names with confidence, think about these men and women, the father of this one and the mother of that one. And there is Mary, "of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ" (Mt 1:16). 

And then we have the great "O" Antiphons, traditionally sung at Vespers (Evening Prayer) before the Magnificat, each day beginning December 17 up to and including December 23. A shorter version of each antiphon is also used as the verse for the Gospel Acclamation at Mass each day. They are called "O" Antiphons because each one begins with the word "O", and each one addresses Jesus, not using the name Jesus though, but by a title for Him from the Old Testament. Then we sing, "come". You see today's "O" Antiphon above and from here through December 23, the Antiphon for the day will be at the top of the post. With or without Vespers, the "O" Antiphons can be used as your prayer each day to better prepare for the celebration of Christmas. O Wisdom ... come and teach us the way of prudence.

Another suggestion, borrowed from a friend and mentor, is to say a simple version of the "O" Antiphons as a Jesus prayer. They are listed here, one for each day:

O Jesus, Wisdom, come.
O Jesus, Adonai, come.
O Jesus, Root of Jesse, come.
O Jesus, Key of David, come.
O Jesus, Rising Sun, come.
O Jesus, King of the Nations, come.
O Jesus, Emmanuel, come. 


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Adelaide of Burgundy (931-999); Bd Sebastian Maggi (1496); Bd Mary of the Angels (? 1660-1771); Bd Clement Marchisio, Founder (1833-1903); Bd Honoratus Kozminski (1829-1916); The Martyrs of Thailand: Bd Philip Siphong and Companions (1940)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 61:6-14

Mass: Is 45:6c-8, 18, 21b-25; Resp Ps 85; Lk 7:18b-23

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.

Our Lord says this through the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah: Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! (Is 45:22). We turn to Our Lord, not to another, for safety. We turn to Our Lord, not to another, for healing. As Jesus did "at that time", He does for us. Jesus cures many of our diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; He also grants sight to many who are blind (Lk 7:21). Behold, Our Lord will come with power and will enlighten the eyes of His servants (Communion Antiphon, Mass).

Remember this month's Prayer Intention of Pope Francis on prayer, the heart of the Church's mission. Indeed, we can do many things, but without prayer it will not work. Enter into dialogue with Jesus today. Have a conversation with Jesus. Listen to Him and reply. This is prayer. We continue to pray for one another too. We are united in faith and in prayer. As Pope Francis taught us in today's Wednesday Audience, when we pray, we pray for all. Focusing on prayer of intercession, Pope Francis suggested this prayer of intercession: "Lord, no one is just in your sight; we are all debtors, each with an outstanding balance to pay; no one is sinless in your eyes. Lord, have mercy on us!"

Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one's enemies.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2647)


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph

Other saints: Saint Valerian, Bishop, and Other Martyrs of North Africa (47 and 482); Saint Paul of Latros (956); Bd Victoria Fornari-Strata, Foundress (1562-1617); Bd Virginia Centurione-Bracelli (1587-1651); Saint Mary di Rosa, Foundress (1813-1855); Bd Charles Steeb, Founder (1775-1856); 

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 61 1-5 The Reception of Visiting Monks

Mass: Zeph 3:1-2, 9-13; Resp Ps 34; Mt 21:28-32

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth.

(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)

Advent is a season for conversion, as someone reminded me the other day. It is a season of repentance too, as John the Baptist has reminded us more than once. The openness for conversion and repentance is there for the taking, throughout each day, like the son who changed his mind in today's Gospel passage (Mt 21:29), and over the course of our lives. Remember too that the Lord is patient, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). Another way to put it is through the words of French Dominican Blessed John-Joseph Lataste (1832-1869): "When God loves us and gives us His grace, He does not ask us what we have been; He is only concerned with what we are-not with how far we have fallen, but with how much we love. He judges us only on the strength of our love. Happy are those whose past urges them on to a greater love" (quoted in Magnificat, December 2020, "Credible Witnesses", p. 153) 


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph

Saint John of the Cross, Doctor (1542-1591)

Other saints: Saint Nicasius, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs (? 451); Saint Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop (c. 535-c. 605); Bd Bonaventure Buonaccorsi (1315); Bd Frances Schervier, Foundress (1819-1876)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 60 The Admission of Priests to the Monastery

Mass: Nb 24:2-7, 15-17a; Resp Ps 25; Mt 21:23-27

Teach me your ways, O Lord.


In haste this morning, which is not unusual for a Monday, I turned to a favorite book received 21 years ago, Ronda De Sola Chervin, Quotable Saints (Servant, 1992). Turning to the first quotation listed for Saint John of the Cross, I found this: "Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent." Enough said. 


Today's photo: A look at yesterday afternoon.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Third Sunday of Advent

Gaudete Sunday: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.

Year of Saint Joseph

In other years: Saint Lucy, Virgin, Martyr (4th century); Saint Eustratius of Armenia and Other Martyrs (? Late 3rd century); Saint Judoc (668); Saint Aubret of Arras-Cambrai, Bishop (668 or 669); Saint Odilia, Abbess (c. 720); Bd John Marinoni (1562); Bd Antony Grassi (1671)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 59 The Offering of Children by Nobles or by the Poor

Mass: Is 61:1-2a; 10-11; Resp Ps (Lk 1); 1 Th 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

He has remembered His promise of mercy.


Faith commits everyone one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Porta fidei Door of faith, 15)

Welcome to Gaudete Sunday and another appearance from John the Baptist, today according to Saint John (Jn 1:6-8, 19-28). Last Sunday, Saint Mark (Mk 1:1-8) related that John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Folks from all over went to John to be baptized in the Jordan as they acknowledged their sins. The Baptist's voice rings loud and clear: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. The Baptist was pointing to the One, mightier than he, who was coming after him. John was testifying to the light, we hear from Saint John. John was not the Christ, as he boldly admitted to those who questioned him. No, says John, I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'make straight the way of the Lord'. John directed the people to Jesus, the one coming after him, whose sandal strap John was not worthy to untie. 

Throughout this morning, I have asked myself how I am preparing the way of the Lord, to reverently remember the First Coming of the Son of God, and also to look forward to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time, all with open mind and heart. How am I giving witness to our faith so as to make straight the way of the Lord? How in word and deed am I pointing to the One, Jesus the Son of God?

If you are looking for ways to better prepare the way of the Lord, and point to the Mighty One Jesus the Christ, turn to Saint Paul in today's second reading (1 Th 5:16-22). "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil." 

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.
(1 Th 5:22-24)

John the Baptist is a model for those in the Church who are called to proclaim Christ to others; they are able to do so only by detaching from themselves and from worldliness, by not attracting people to themselves, but directing them to Jesus.
(Pope Francis, Angelus Address, December 13, 2020)


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021)

Other saints: Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Foundress (1572-1641); Saint Spiridion, Bishop (Fourth Century); Saint Corentin, Bishop (?453); Saint Finnian of Clonard, Bishop (549); Saint Vicelin, Bishop (c. 1086-1154); Bd Bartholomew of San Gimignano (1300); Bd Conrad of Offida (1306); Bd Thomas Holland, Martyr (1642); Saint Simon Hoa, Martyr (1840)`

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 58:17-29

Mass: Zech 2:14-17 or Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Resp Ps (Jdt 13); Lk 1:26-38 or Lk 1:39-47

You are the highest honor of our race.


We believe the angel Gabriel's words to Mary that "nothing will be impossible for God" (Lk 1:37). So since there is no need to be afraid (Lk 1:30) then, we join Mary and say: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior" (Lk 1:46).


Today's image: This image was borrowed from the website for the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Carlton, OR.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Friday, December 11, 2020

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021)

Other saints: Pope Saint Damasus I (384); SS Fuscian and Victoricus, Martyrs (date unknown); Saint Daniel the Stylite (409-493); Bd Franco of Grotti (1211-1291); Bd Hugolino Magalotti (1373); BB Martin Lumberas and Melchior Sanchez, Martyrs (1632); Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus (1891-1974)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 58:1-16 The Procedure for Receiving New Members

Mass: Is 48:17-19; Resp Ps 1; Mt 11:16-19

Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.


The words from Saint Benedict and the Holy Rule for today and tomorrow come from Ch 58 on the reception of new members. Of utmost importance is whether the newcomer truly seeks God (RB 58:7). This is relevant to all believers, inside and outside the monastery, no matter our state in life. Do we truly seek God? We seek God by turning to Him and listening to what He is saying throughout the day, in peaceful situations and difficult ones too. As the Lord speaks to us through the Prophet Isaiah: I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go (Is 48:17). As we recall the Holy Father's December Prayer Intention, the heart of the Church's mission is prayer. We seek God; we turn to Him; we listen to Him in prayer. Pope Francis reminds us: "We can do many things, but without prayer, it does not work." Our hearts will be changed.

(Is 48:18)

Today's photo: A kind sister pointed out this look of the light coming through the trees. God is praised.

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021)

Our Lady of Loreto

Other saints: Saint Melchiades (d. 314); Pope Saint Gregory II (741); The London Martyrs of 1591; Saint John Roberts and Bd Thomas Somers, Martyrs (1610)

Human Rights Day

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 57 The Artisans of the Monastery

Mass: Is 41:13-20; Resp Ps 145; Mt 11:11-15

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord.


Jesus ends today's Gospel's passage with these words: Whoever has ears ought to hear (Mt 11:15). May we hear His words as they come from the Prophet Isaiah: "I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I will help you'" (Is 41:13). We call on the Lord Our God to help us then, to "live justly and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of the glory of our great God" (Communion Antiphon, Mass). O God, come to my assistance, O Lord, make haste to help me.

Looking to Saint Benedict and today's reading from his chapter on artisans, we invoke Saint Joseph, to pray for all artisans, both inside and outside of the monastery, that we practice our various crafts with all humility, so that in all things God may be glorified (RB 57:1, 9).


© Gertrude Feick 2020

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021)

Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548)

Other saints: The Seven Martyrs of Samosata (?297 or 308); Saint Leocadia, Martyr (?304); Bd Bernard Silvestrelli (1831-1911)

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 56 The Abbot's Table

Mass: Is 40:25-31; Resp Ps 103; Mt 11:28-30

O bless the Lord, my soul!


Last night, after reading the Holy Father's Apostolic Letter Patris corde With a Father's Heart, given in Rome just yesterday to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as patron of the universal Church, I read through the readings for today's Mass. One of the first things that came to me was that Saint Joseph was certainly a man who hoped in the Lord, that the Lord would renew his strength. Joseph soared as with eagle's wings; he ran and did not grow weary; he walked and did not grow faint (Is 40:31). Joseph labored and he faced his struggles and burdens with a strong faith. He was ready to carry out God's will for him, and he went about it with courage and strength. Joseph turned to the Lord in prayer for help. So doing, Joseph's yokes became easier and his burdens lighter. During this Year of Saint Joseph, we ask dear Joseph to pray for us, to intercede for us, to guide us on our journey to carry out God's will for us. 

Included here is a prayer to Saint Joseph, taken from a 19th century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary. You will find it in endnote 10 of Patris corde. Pope Francis writes that he has recited the prayer every day after Lauds for over 40 years. The Holy Father says this about the prayer: "It expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph".

Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of challenge and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.


NB. During the year of Saint Joseph, you will see an invocation from the Litany of Saint Joseph in daily posts. 

© Gertrude Feick 2020

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Patronal Feast of the United States of America

Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021)

Other saints: Pope Saint Eutychian (283); Saint Budoc, Abbot (Sixth Century); Saint Romaric, Abbot (653); Saint Galgano (c. 1140-1181); Bd Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran (1837-1869) 

Readings of the Day

RB: Ch 55:15-22

Mass: Gn 3:9-15, 20; Resp Ps 98; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk 1:26-38

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.


The hymn "Immaculate Mary" comes to mind this morning: Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing, you reign now in splendor with Jesus our King. Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria. It is helpful to turn to the words of Pope Bl Pius IX in his 1854 Encyclical Letter Ineffabilis deus for the Church's teaching on the Immaculate Conception:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

On this glorious celebration, a holy day of obligation, the patronal feast of our country, and the commencement of the Year of Saint Joseph, we look to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who "by the grace of God remained free from every personal sin her whole life long" (CCC 493) to pray for us, and help us on our pilgrim journey of faith. God is patient and ever merciful. He waits for us to turn away from sin and turn towards Him. Dear Lord, may it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38). Remember, "nothing will be impossible for God" (Lk 1:37). 

In heaven the blessed your glory proclaim; On earth we your children invoke your fair name. Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria. We pray for our Mother, the Church upon earth, And bless, Holy Mary, the land of our birth. Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria.

The uncontaminated beauty of our Mother is incomparable, but at the same time it attracts us. Let us entrust ourselves to her and say 'no' to sin and 'yes' to Grace once and for all.
(Pope Francis, Angelus Address, December 8, 2020)


© Gertrude Feick 2020