Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

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».

Sexagesima Sunday

Christ SowerAttend to the Antiphons
If you would enter deeply into the liturgy of any given Sunday, attend closely to the antiphons. The Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers of Sunday (on Saturday evening) is a preview of the First Lesson of Matins; the Magnificat. This morning we read the account of Noe and the ark in Genesis 5:31–6:15. Last evening we already sang:

Ant. Dixit Dominus * ad Noë: Finis universae carnis venit coram me: fac tibi arcam de lignis laevigatis, ut salvetur universum semen in ea.

The Lord said unto Noah: * The end of all flesh is come before Me, make thee an ark of planed timber, that seed of all flesh may be saved therein.

The Ark and the Heart of Jesus
The ark by means of which God saves “the seed of all flesh” foreshadows the perfect ark that is the Heart of Jesus, open to all who seek salvation. Already on Sexagesima Sunday, the liturgy points to the “heart” of the Passion of Saint John that will be chanted on Good Friday: “But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). At Matins on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we will sing of the same mystery:

Ex corde scisso Ecclesia
Christo jugata nascitur:
Hoc ostium Arcæ in latere est:
Genti ad salutem positum.

O wounded Heart, whence sprang
The Church, the Saviour’s bride;
Thou Door of our Salvation’s Ark
Set in its mystic side.

During Septuagesimatide, as during Lent itself, not only the Benedictus and the Magnificat of Second Vespers, but also the Little hours (Prime, Tierce, Sext, and None) have antiphons of their own drawn from the Gospel of the Day. This is the Church’s way of keeping the Gospel of the day before our eyes, and in our ears, and in our hearts.

At the Benedictus:
Ant. Cum turba * plurima convenirent ad Jesum, et de civitatibus properarent ad eum, dixit per similitudinem: Exiit qui seminat, seminare semen suum
Ant. When much people were gathered together to Jesus, * and were come to Him out of every city, He spoke by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed.

Docile to the Holy Ghost

If you would hear the word of Jesus, you must first allow yourself to be gathered to Him; this is the work of the Holy Ghost in every soul docile to His inspirations.

No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me. (John 6:44–45)

The Father draws us to the Son by the secret operations of the Holy Ghost; similarly the Father teaches us inwardly by the Holy Ghost.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. (John 16:13–14)

Mothers of the Word
Jesus Himself is the Sower who comes out from the Father; He is also the seed, sowing Himself by means of His word. The soul who receives the word of Jesus conceives Him inwardly, becoming to Him even a mother, according to what He says in the sequel to today’s Gospel: “My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21).

At Prime:
Ant. Semen cecidit * in terram bonam, et attulit fructum in patientia.
Ant. The seed fell * upon good ground, and brought forth its fruit in patience.

The Most Pure Heart of Mary
In the Mectildian–Benedictine calendar, February 8th, is the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. (This date was aptly chosen in the 17th century in relation to February 2nd, on which day we read Simeon’s prophecy [Luke 2:35] concerning the Heart of the Mother of God: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed”.) The Most Pure Heart Mary emerges from the proper texts of Sexagesima Sunday in a wonderful way. The Virgin Mary’s immaculate Heart is the “good ground” of the Gospel. Thus do we sing every morning in Psalm 66 at the beginning of Lauds, making reference to the Mother of God, Terra dedit fructum suum, “The earth hath yielded her fruit” (Psalm 66:7).

At Tierce:
Ant. Qui verbum Dei * retinent corde perfecto et optimo, fructum afferunt in patientia.
Ant. They who keep * the word of God with a good and perfect heart, bring forth fruit in patience.

At Sext:
Ant. Semen cecidit * in terram bonam, et attulit fructum, aliud centesimum, et aliud sexagesimum.
Ant. Some seed fell on good ground, * and bare fruit, some one hundred-fold, and some sixty-fold.

At None
Ant. Si vere, fratres, * divites esse cupitis, veras divitias amate.
Ant. If then, dearly beloved brethren, ye seek to be rich, * earnestly desire the true riches.

At the Magnificat of Second Vespers:
Ant. Vobis datum est * nosse mysterium regni Dei, ceteris autem in parabolis, dixit Jesus discipulis suis.
Ant. Jesus said to His disciples: * Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others in parables.

On Praying the Rosary for Unity

Pope_Leo_XIIIHoly Mary, Mother of Unity
Pope Leo XIII requested that the Rosary be prayed specifically for the intention of reconciliation and reunion. Here is the relevant section from his Encyclical of September 20 1896, Fidentem Piumque Animum:

The Power of Prayer
That earnest desire, which We have learnt from the Divine Heart of Jesus, of fostering the work of reconciliation among those who are separated from Us daily urges Us more pressingly to action; and we are convinced that this most excellent Re-union cannot be better prepared and strengthened than by the power of prayer. The example of Christ is before us, for in order that His disciples might be one in faith and charity, he poured forth prayer and supplication to His Father.

The Patroness and Most Excellent Custodian of Unity
And concerning the efficacious prayer of His most holy Mother for the same end, there is a striking testimony in the Acts of the Apostles. Therein is described the first assembly of the Disciples, expecting with earnest hope and prayer the promised fullness of the Holy Spirit. And the presence of Mary united with them in prayer is specially indicated: All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). Wherefore as the nascent church rightly joined itself in prayer with her as the patroness and most excellent custodian of Unity, so in these times is it most opportune to do the same all over the Catholic World.

Nothing More Acceptable to Mary
Let then the zeal for this prayer (of the Rosary) everywhere be re-kindled, particularly for the end of Holy Unity. Nothing will be more agreeable and acceptable to Mary; for, as she is most closely united with Christ she especially wishes and desires that they who have received the same Baptism with Him may be united with Him and with one another in the same faith and perfect charity. So may the sublime mysteries of this same faith by means of the Rosary devotion be more deeply impressed in men’s minds, with the happy result that “we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise”.

Mary Is Not Half Enough Preached

Why do I prefer dear old Father Faber’s translation of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort’s Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? A long time ago when I first read Father Fabers introduction to the book, I was smitten by it. After that, no other translation of True Devotion touched me in quite the same way. Read this excerpt from Faber’s introduction and you will understand why.

The Remedy
One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the Faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappiness which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy.

An Immense Increase of Devotion to the Blessed Lady
But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosure of the saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to the Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her.

image72The Withering and Dwindling of Saints
Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls which might be saints wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelized.

Greater, Wider, Strong Devotion to Mary
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignion De Montfort.

Incredible Efficacy
Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!

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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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