Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

The Rosary of the Seven Dolours

The Ember Wednesday of Lent, with its stational Mass at the basilica of Saint Mary Major, constitutes a Lenten homage to the Mother of God. There are also two feasts occurring in February that compel me to post once again what I wrote nine years ago concerning the Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The two feasts, well placed in Lent, are that of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites today, February 17th, and that of Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata on February 27th.

The Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of rememorating certain events in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of His Virgin Mother. The fruits of this particular prayer are compunction of heart, detachment from the occasions of sin, chastity, humility, reparation, compassion, intimacy with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and desire to contemplate the Face of Christ. The power of this prayer — something that many have experienced — comes from allowing one’s own heart to be irrigated and purified by the tears of the Mother of God. The tears of the Sorrowful Mother bring purity and healing wherever they fall.

It is significant, I think, that the first three of Our Lady’s Sorrows were shared with Saint Joseph and the last four with Saint John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Both saints appeared together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lamb at Knock in County Mayo on 21 August 1879. Saint Joseph and Saint John, the two men chosen by God to live in the intimacy of the Virgin Mother, were also chosen by God to enter into the mystery of her sorrows.

Here is one method of saying the Rosary of the Seven Dolours:
+ Incline, unto my aid, O God.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia. (In place of Alleluia, from Ash Wednesday until Easter is said: Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.)

1. The prophecy of Simeon.
Lectio: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. ” (Lk 2:34–35).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart upon hearing Simeon’s prophecy, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to God’s people Israel” (cf. Lk 2:32).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

2. The flight into Egypt.
Lectio: “And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. ’” (Mt 2:13–15).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart at the flight into Egypt by night, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, born “to save his people from their sins” (cf. Mt 1:21).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

3. The loss of Jesus for three days.
Lectio: “And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’ s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.” (Lk 2:48–50).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when together with Saint Joseph thou didst search for Jesus for three days, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

4. Her meeting Jesus, carrying His cross.
Lectio: “He was oppressed and was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. . . . Yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Is 53:7, 12).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst encounter thy Jesus bearing His cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “despised and rejected by men” (Is 53:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

5. Her standing beneath the cross on Calvary.
Lectio: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’ s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (Jn 19:25–27).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst see thy Child’s hands and feet nailed to the wood of the Cross and His side pierced by the soldier’s lance, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus Crucified, bowed in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

6. The Sacred Body of Jesus, taken down from the cross.
Lectio“To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? to what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? for great as the sea is thy destruction. Let tears run down like a torrent day and night: give thyself no rest” (Lam 2:13, 18).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the lifeless Body of Jesus taken down from the cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “beautiful above the sons of men” (Ps 44:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

7. Her witnessing the burial of the Sacred Body of her Son.
Lectio: Joseph of Arimathea “went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid” (Lk 23:52–55).
Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the Body of Jesus wrapped in a linen shroud and laid in the tomb, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, covered with a veil in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

In honour of the tears shed by Our Lady during these Seven Dolours: Three Hail Marys.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may weep for my sins. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
soften the hardened hearts of sinners. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may make reparation for my sins. Hail Mary.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart
In the Beatitudes, Jesus, the Son of Mary, gives us the key that unlocks for us the mystery of today’s feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). There was in Mary Most Holy nothing to keep her from seeing God, nothing between the eyes of her soul and the Face of God. Repeatedly in the last years of his pontificate, Saint John Paul II and, after him, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, invited us to place ourselves at the school of the Virgin there to learn the contemplation of the Face of Christ. The Face of Christ is seen only with the eyes of the heart.

To Contemplate With Mary the Face of Christ
Sixteen years ago in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Saint John Paul II said:

I have felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary . . . and an exhortation to contemplate the Face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the Face of Christ” (RVM, art. 3).

Saint John Paul II returned to this intuition in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, saying:

In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s Face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist. (EDE, art. 53)

The Eyes of Your Heart
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Saint Paul brings into a fuller light the meaning of this promise of Jesus when he tells us that, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6). In the same vein, he prayed for the Christians of the Church at Ephesus: “I cease not to give thanks for you, making commemoration of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:16-18).

Mary’s Immaculate Heart, her illumined Heart, her Heart free of every shadow, was created for the contemplation of Christ, the Human Face of God. While He was yet hidden in her womb, the eyes of her heart beheld His Face. After His birth, holding Him against her breast, she gazed at His Face and saw the radiance of the glory of God.

Hidden and Public Life
During the years of His hidden life, her eyes grew adjusted to the obscurity of faith, allowing her to see on the Face of her growing Son the splendour of the Word beheld from all eternity by the Father. During His public life the enlightened eyes of her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart saw what other eyes darkened by sin could not see.

Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension
During His bitter Passion, Our Lady saw the Face of Christ despised and cruelly disfigured: the glory of God shining through an ignominious veil of spittle and of blood. Her pure Heart beheld His Face in the glory of His Resurrection and, at His Ascension, received its indelible impression so deeply that, from that day forward, anyone seeking the Face of Christ could find its image in her Immaculate Heart. “And His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

After Pentecost, the Mother took her place in the heart of the Church, her Immaculate Heart becoming the Church’s living memory, the inexhaustible treasure from which Luke and John drew their Gospels. Her Immaculate Heart was the hidden spring of the Church’s prayer, the sanctuary of the icon of the Holy Face “not made by human hands.”

In the Church
“Devoted to the breaking of the bread” (cf. Acts 2:42), Mary, Mother of the Church, recognized, as did no other, in the Host and in the Chalice the Eucharistic Face of her Son. When, at the hour willed by God, she fell asleep, it was to pass from the vision of the Eucharistic Face to the face-to-face that lies beyond the sacramental veils. “As for me, I shall behold Thy Face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Thy glory” (Psalm 16:15).

From One Degree of Glory to Another
The Pure Heart of Mary, the God-seeing Heart of Mary, intercedes for us in this and in every Holy Mass that, with the “eyes of our heart enlightened,” we might see, through the veil of the Sacred Host, the Eucharistic Face of her Son and so “be changed into its likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Love and Confidence in the Heart of Mary

BVM-Visitation-Mosaic.jpgFor today’s feast of the Most Pure Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I offer this translation of a text of Mother Mectilde de Bar. It is taken from a conference she gave on 7 February 1695.

I would not know how to incite you enough to the love and to the confidence that you ought to have in the most holy Heart of the Mother of God. There is no reason to fear not being received well, since she refuses no one. Love and confidence must grow in us, considering that our Institute came forth from her holy Heart.

You will say to me, “But I don’t have the capacity to love her, nor do I have all the devotion necessary to draw her benevolence and protection down upon me!”

We read in Scripture that she loves those who love her, but I will tell you something more: she loves even those who do not love her, inasmuch as she loves sinners. Affection and tenderness towards the holy Mother of God is a particular grace and a sign of predestination. Ask her to obtain this for you from her divine Son. However incapable you may be, you can always formulate desires: desire to love her, to exalt her, to honour her, each one of you individually, as much as and more than all the saints together.

When you begin to love her, she will teach you to know her divine Son and to love Him. Only through her is it possible to know our Lord Jesus Christ; it was she herself who revealed Him to me. “No one knows the Son if not the Mother, and no one knows the Mother if not the Son.” This is why all that we can think and say on her account is very far from the reality.

Consecration to the Maternal Heart of Mary

00018_virgin_of_the_sign_znamenie.jpgLet us come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. (Hebrews 4:16, Introit, Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

As early as 1643, Saint John Eudes and his disciples and friends — among them Mother Mectilde de Bar and her Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration — observed February 8th as the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. The date was chosen in reference to Simeon’s prophecy read on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, February 2nd:

The Introit borrows from the Epistle to the Hebrews to call the Immaculate Heart of Mary “the throne of grace.” Indeed, her Heart is the throne of grace, as depicted in the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign. Jesus, Eternal Wisdom, thrones in her Heart and, from her Heart, dispenses mercy and grace to all who approach His Mother in time of need.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, behold, I come to thy maternal and immaculate Heart as to the throne of grace to receive mercy and help in time of need.

I come to thy Heart as to the refuge of sinners. I come to thy Heart as to the pure and spotless sanctuary of the priesthood. I come to thy Heart as to the paradise of the saints in heaven and on earth.

Receive me into thy Immaculate Heart even as I would receive thy Heart into my life, allowing thee and begging thee to count me among thy beloved sons, and to consider me another Saint John for thy maternal Heart.

So do I renew today the total and irrevocable consecration of myself — of my past, my present, and my future — to thy maternal and immaculate Heart, confident that thou wilt take all my necessities, all my cares, and all my weaknesses to thyself so as to present them to Jesus as if they were thine own.

May thy sorrowful and immaculate Heart, O Mary, be my habitual recourse in this valley of tears, and my delight in the everlasting joys of heaven. Amen.

(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest)

Misericordia in medio templi

PurificationThe Mercy of God in the Midst of the Temple
The Mass of the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary  (Candlemass) opens with these words: «We receive, O God, thy mercy, in the midst of thy temple» (Psalm 47:10). In the Middle Ages, Candlemass was also called Susception Day, from the first word of the Introit: Suscepimus. «We receive, O God, thy mercy, in the midst of thy temple». Symbolically, when we receive our blessed candles on February 2nd, we are receiving the Infant Christ, the light of the world, the mercy of the Father sent to save and heal a people languishing «in darkness and in the shadow of death» (Luke 1:79).

When the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4–5)

The Little Son of Mary
The one thing that everyone finds irresistible is to hold a baby, even if only for a few moments. Elders are transformed by it. Boys suddenly become tender, and girls motherly. Even small children vie for the privilege of holding the newest arrival in the family. As the little one is passed from one person to the next, faces grow bright with joy. A little baby has the power to light up a room. The Little One we celebrate on Candlemass Day has the power to light up the world: «A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel» (Luke 2:32). The little Son of Mary, acknowledges as his own the one who receives him, and on the one who holds him, he confers a new identity: divine sonship.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:11–12)

An antiphon from the Divine Office of the feast sings that, «the ancient carried the
Infant, but the Infant guided the steps of the ancient». Simeon, the image of all that in us has grown old with waiting, carries Mercy in his arms, but Mercy, by the light that shines on his face, guides the old man’s steps. If we would be guided by Mercy, we must first receive the Mercy of God that comes to us in the outstretched arms of a little Child asking only to be held.

What Can Bring Us Happiness?
The Introit says that Mercy is given us in medio templi, in the midst of the temple. This places the Infant Christ, the human Face of Divine Mercy, at the heart of the feast. All of the other figures in the Gospel are seen in relation to the Child. All of the other figures appear in the light of his face. «What can bring us happiness?» they ask. «The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us» (Psalm 4:7). «Come ye to him», they say one to another, «and be enlightened»( Psalm 33:6). The infant Christ is placed in our arms that we might gaze upon the human face of Divine Mercy and, in the light of that face, be transformed.

Four Enduring Images
In the Gospel for the the feast of Candlemass, Luke 2:22–32, the Holy Ghost has inscribed four enduring images of the monastic life that we, at Silverstream Priory, are striving to emulate. These are images full of freshness, vitality, and hope: the Virgin Mother, Saint Joseph, Saint Simeon, and Saint Anna.

Our Lady
Blessed Mary is completely silent in this Gospel. Even when addressed by Simeon, Our Lady remains silent. Her silence is an intensity of listening. She is silent so as to take in Simeon’s song of praise, silent so as to capture his mysterious prophecy and hold it in her heart. She is silent because today her eyes say everything, eyes fixed on the face of the Infant Christ, eyes illumined by the brightness of his appearing. She is the bride of the Canticle of whom it is said, «How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art thou! Thy eyes are doves’ eyes, hid beneath thy veil» (Song of Songs 4:1). Monastic life, at Silverstream Priory and wherever it is found, begins in the silence of Mary and in the light of her eyes, eyes made bright by the contemplation of the Face of Christ.

Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph shares Mary’s silence. Silence is the expression of their communion in a tender and chaste love. Joseph listens with Mary. Saint Joseph is the first to enter the sanctuary of the Virgin’s silence. It is Saint Joseph’s way of loving, his way of trusting his Virgin Bride beyond words. The silence of Saint Joseph becomes for us monks a way of loving, a way of trusting, a way of pushing back the frontiers of hope. Saint Joseph is necessary to the unfolding of the plan of salvation; God willed to have need of him. Saint Joseph’s role, like that of Mary, is not limited by time and space. Saint Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, stands beside the Mother of the Church today: silent, listening, and tenderly focused on the Face of Christ in the least of his members.

Saint Simeon
Saint Simeon represents the old priesthood disappearing into the light of Christ, our «merciful and faithful high priest before God» (Hebrews 2:17). Simeon is the old priest pointing to the new. He speaks; he sings his praise; he utters prophecy. In this Saint Simeon models the vocation of every priest called to instruct, to lift his voice in the Great Thanksgiving of the Holy Sacrifice, and to deliver the message of God in the power of the Holy Ghost. Saint Simeon had a particular relationship with the Holy Ghost. Three times in as many verses Saint Luke emphasizes the mystical synergy (working–together) of Simeon and the Holy Ghost: «And the Holy Ghost was in him» (Luke 2:25); «And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost» (Luke 2:26); «And he came by the Spirit into the temple» (Luke 2:27). In Saint Simeon, we Benedictine monks have a model of «life in the Holy Ghost». We today, like Simeon of old, are called to contemplate the Face of the Infant Christ and to raise our voices in thanksgiving for the consolation of all believers.

Ruler of all, now dost thou let thy servant go in peace, according to thy word; for my own eyes have seen that saving power of thine which thou hast prepared in the sight of all nations. This is the light which shall give revelation to the Gentiles, this is the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:29–32)

Saint Anna
Finally, there is Saint Anna the prophetess. Anna is the daughter of Phanuel, whose name means «Face of God». Anna has made the temple her home. Abiding day and night in adoration, she emerges from the recesses of the temple only to give thanks to God and speak of the Child. Drawn into the light of the Face of Christ, Anna cannot but praise God and publish the good news «to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem» (Luke 2:38). In some way, Anna of the Face of God is the first apostle sent out by the the Holy Ghost. Before Mary Magdalene and before the twelve Apostles, Anna announces Christ. She is compelled to speak but does so out of an “adoring silence.” She emerges from her cloister of perpetual adoration in the temple to publish the long-awaited arrival of Mercy with the light of his Face shining in her eyes.

Never to Despair of the Mercy of God
Jesus Christ, Mercy–in–the–Flesh, allowed himself to be passed from the arms of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph into the arms of Simeon and, then, undoubtedly into the embrace of holy Anna. The festival of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the descent of Mercy, the reception of Mercy, and the exchange of Mercy. Mercy given from on high, Mercy embraced in the midst of the Church, Mercy exchanged among us. Benedictine life at Silverstream Priory is just that. “O God, we have received thy Mercy, in the midst of thy temple” (Psalm 47:10).

The feast of Candlemass makes every year a Year of Mercy. And we, Benedictines of Silverstream repeat today what our father Saint Benedict says to us in Chapter IV of his Holy Rule: «Never to despair of the mercy of God».

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Founded in 2012 in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland, and canonically erected in 2017, Silverstream Priory is a house of monks living under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The monastery is under the patronage of Our Lady of the Cenacle. The monks of Silverstream Priory holding to the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant, celebrate the “Opus Dei” (Work of God, the sacred Liturgy) in its traditional Benedictine form and Holy Mass in the “Usus Antiquior” (Extraordinary Form) of the Roman Rite. As Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, they aspire to assure ceaseless prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation. Praying and working in the enclosure of the monastery, the monks of Silverstream offer their life for the sanctification of priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord. They undertake various works compatible with their monastic vocation, notably hospitality to the clergy in need of a spiritual respite, and a publishing house, the Cenacle Press.

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