Category Archives: Saints

The Sacrament of All Saints

1280px-Fra'_Angelico_-_Incoronazione_della_Vergine_-_Google_Art_ProjectWe celebrate today the memory of all who, by the power of the Holy Ghost at work in their lives and in their deaths, have passed over with Christ to the Father. In a word, we celebrate the memory of those who have accomplished the mystery begun in them at Baptism, the mystery nourished in them with every participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We celebrate today the memory of men and women and children fully transformed by partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ.

Communion with the saints is the grace we ask for in every Holy Mass. Our partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ can change us as it changed them, heal us as it healed them, purify us as it purified them, refresh us as it refreshed them. It is so moving to pray in the Canon of the Mass, striking the breast as the rubrics prescribe, “To us sinners also, Thy servants who hope in the abundance of Thy mercies, deign to grant some share and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs . . . and all Thy saints, into whose company we beg Thee admit us, not weighing our merits but granting us pardon.”

Communion with the saints in this life means being poor in spirit, it means living with outstretched hands, confident that He who promises the kingdom of heaven will give it according to the measure of our emptiness, and of our desire. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of the hospitality of God offered freely and without measure to the poor in spirit.

Communion with the saints means weeping as the saints wept, knowing that every tear of ours is counted in heaven, and seeking, even in the midst of tears, the face of Christ the Comforter. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of our comfort, the unfailing consolation of the saints.

Communion with the saints means going gently through this life, trusting that more is gained through meekness than through might. The Most Holy Eucharist is the power of those without power; it is the strength of the gentle, the triumph of the meek, the inheritance of the humble.

Communion with the saints means suffering in one’s soul hunger and thirst for the true, the beautiful, and the good, hunger and thirst for the pure joy of a right relationship with God and with others. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of justice, bringing justice to every place and to every heart. It is the wellspring of righteousness, the communication of all that is true, all that is beautiful, and all that is good to those who approach it hungering and thirsting for God alone.

Communion with the saints means looking at others through eyes of mercy; it means practicing attitudes, words, and deeds of mercy, never despairing of the mercy of God for oneself. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of mercy given, mercy received, and mercy exchanged.

Communion with the saints means desiring that purity of heart by which one comes to see God, and believing that a clean heart is something that God alone can give and wants to give to all his children. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of purity making clean those who receive it; it is the fulfillment of what Isaiah saw in the temple of the Thrice-Holy God: the burning coal taken from the altar to cleanse his heart and lips.

Communion with the saints means making peace in oneself and around oneself, even at a great cost to oneself; the household of God is the dwelling of peace. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of peace, the seal of peace, and the bond of peace.

Finally, communion with the saints means meeting insults with silence, persecutions with meekness, and evil utterances with words of blessing. It means rejoicing, already here and now, in the foretaste of heaven given us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of blessing undoing every curse.

Saint John Paul II was ordained a priest seventy–one years ago on 1 November 1946. The All Saints priest has become the All Saints Pope. It is no coincidence that the Pope who gave us the Year of the Eucharist is the Pope who, in twenty-six years of pontificate, gave us more than 1,300 blessed and 480 saints. The blessed and saints of Pope John Paul II are his way of saying to the Church and to the world: “Behold the fruits of the Most Holy Eucharist! Look at these men and women and see what the Most Holy Eucharist does. See how the adorable Body and Blood of Christ transforms souls. See what the Most Holy Eucharist is doing already, even if almost imperceptibly, in you and in the world.” In Mane nobiscum, Domine, he writes:

We have before us the example of the Saints, who in the Eucharist found nourishment on their journey towards perfection. How many times did they shed tears of profound emotion in the presence of this great mystery, or experience hours of inexpressible “spousal” joy before the sacrament of the altar!

One of the projects proposed thirteen years ago for the Year of the Eucharist was a greater attention to the saints, specifically in relation to the Most Holy Eucharist. The document issued at that time by the Congregation for Divine Worship had this to say:

The Eucharist makes us saints, and their can be no sanctity that is not enveloped in Eucharistic life. “The one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (Jn. 6:57). . . . John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 62: “Let us take our place, dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, who are the great interpreters of true Eucharistic piety. In them the theology of the Eucharist takes on all the splendor of a lived reality; it becomes “contagious” and, in a manner of speaking, it ‘warms our hearts’.” This is true for all the Saints.

All the saints are saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Frequent the saints and you will, little by little, enter into their experience of the transforming power of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Enter into the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and you will, little by little, come to know the faithful companionship of the saints. All the saints are present to us today. Listen to their voices with the ear of the heart. You will a mighty chorus saying:

Come to the Sacrament of the hospitality of God. Come to the Sacrament of our comfort. Come to the Sacrament of the meek and humble Christ. Come to the Sacrament that satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst. Come to the Sacrament of mercy. Come to the Sacrament of purity. Come to the Sacrament of peace. Come to the Sacrament of the Kingdom. Come when you are insulted; come when you are persecuted; come when evil is uttered against you falsely because of Christ. Come when you are burdened with labor, and be refreshed. We are, all of us, saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Come to the Sacrament of all saints.

Saint Bruno

Saint Bruno at the Cinemaloufsb.jpg
Curiously, Saint Bruno, the father of those who love solitude, found himself very much in the media in recent years. And where? In the literary and film worlds! A film on the Carthusian life, shaped by Saint Bruno fourteen centuries ago, drew crowds of movie-goers. The film, produced in 2005 by German cinematographer, Philip Groening, is a three-hour documentary with no spoken words. Appropriately enough, the film is called Die Grosse Stille, The Great Silence. The only sound in the film is that of daily life in the Charterhouse and of the Latin Gregorian Chant of the monks. The astonishing success of the film says, I think, more about the world’s thirst for silence and people’s readiness to accept a radical witness to the primacy of God, than it does about life in the Charterhouse.

Saint Bruno at the Bookstore
An engaging book on Carthusian life appeared in the secular press in 2006. Written by Nancy Klein Maguire, a woman married to a former Carthusian, the book is called An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order. The book became hugely popular. Again, this suggests that at very deep level, and not always consciously, people thirst for what is not of this world. “Not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27).

iGS_poster_FIN.inddStat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis
The Order founded by Saint Bruno has never been reformed because it was never deformed. Carthusian observances and customs remain largely unchanged. The motto of the Order is, Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, “The Cross stands still while the world spins.” Precisely because the world is weary of change, it is attracted by what is changeless, timeless, and radically faithful to tradition.

Hidden in the Heart of the Church
The Carthusian vocation is extremely rare. Countless men and women have tried life in a Charterhouse and found themselves, after a few months or, even after several years, like Jonah cast from the belly of the whale, once again on the shore of the world. And yet, from one generation to the next, the Order remains: a living organism, hidden in the heart of the Church, pulsating with the eternal rhythm of a deathless love.

Solitudes
Today’s feast of Saint Bruno obliges us to look more closely at the place of solitude in our own lives. There are different kinds of solitude. There is the elected aloneness of the consecrated solitary: a person’s free and conscious choice to live his life alone with God and for God alone. Sometimes this is lived within the canonical framework of an established Order such as the Carthusians. At other times it is lived outside that framework in obedience to an approved personal rule. Of those who aspire to this choice, a great number fall short of fulfilling it.

The Wounded Heart
The solitary life demands a maturity that comes only from suffering. Sometimes suffering causes one to shut down and close in upon oneself. In such a case, solitude is a particularly dangerous form of self-indulgence. Paradoxically, when suffering breaks one’s heart and opens it to God, it is the best preparation for the solitary life. One who goes into solitude without having had his heart broken, or wounded, or pierced through, cannot remain there, because the transformation of solitude into communion with God passes necessarily, and always, through a heart that has been opened by suffering, through a heart that remains open because it is wounded by love. Perhaps this is why true solitaries find themselves drawn to the mystery of the Heart of Jesus wounded by our sins. The Heart of Christ, once opened by the soldier’s lance, remains eternally open.

Our Lady of Solitude
There is the solitude of the widow. After years of a shared life, this solitude can be a terrible thing. It can also become a tremendous grace. The heart wounded by the loss of a beloved spouse can become a heart wounded by desire for communion with God and open to the sorrows of others. In the solitude of the widow the Virgin Mary holds a special place. Spanish-speaking Catholics have the devotion to Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Our Lady of Solitude. The widow who acknowledges Mary and welcomes Mary into her aloneness, especially through the prayer of the Rosary, discovers in her company a hidden spring of ceaseless prayer, a source of courage and of hope.

Other Solitudes
There is also the solitude of the person who never quite fits in anywhere. There is the solitude of one repeatedly disappointed in love. There is the solitude of the child who, having suffered rejection or ridicule, knows a terrible loneliness at school and in the midst of his peers. There is the solitude of the person who never feels at home with her co-workers. There is the solitude of the person who, because he or she is afflicted and blessed with too great a sensitivity, cannot live in community without risking serious emotional damage. There is the solitude of one whose physical infirmities oblige him to live outside the arena of normal daily life. There is also solitude within marriages. There is solitude in friendships. There is solitude in community life. There is the solitude of the diocesan priest — of the Parish Priest in his presbytery and of the Curate in his flat — a solitude made all the more terrible that it exists alongside the relentless demands of pastoral service. There is solitude in the marketplace and in the midst of a whirlwind of social activities.

The Aloneness That Poisons
All of these forms of aloneness, especially when they are suffered passively, can cause one to become bitter and cynical. They can lead to a permanent state of anger, manifesting itself in aggressiveness or in depression. They can lead to self-destructive addictions and destructive behaviour.

Solitude Sanctified
When does a solitude marked by absence become a solitude filled with presence? When, instead of suffering it passively, one accepts it consciously and generously and, after having said “Yes” to it, offers it to God as a chalice ready to be filled. Every emptiness, every loneliness, every void has a certain “Eucharistic potential.” There is no void, no emptiness, no absence that God cannot fill with His presence.

Thou Searchest Out My Path
Psalm 138 is the perfect prayer for one experiencing the pain of aloneness. “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways” (Ps 138:1-3). God does not spurn the prayer of one who, with a broken heart, asks Him to reveal Himself as the One who is more present to us than we are to ourselves. It is immensely consoling to know that in the light of the Face of Christ one has nothing to hide.

Marian Solitude
It is not by chance that Saint Bruno’s Carthusians and the other Orders of the Church most marked by solitude are the very ones marked by a strong and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a sense, Mary holds the key to every solitude inhabited by God. Mary holds the key to every solitude of adoration. A solitude consecrated to Mary becomes an experience not of absence, but of presence; not of emptiness, but of fullness; not of isolation, but of communion.

Our Lord has entrusted to His Mother the transformation of every loneliness into communion. “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near, he said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:26-27). Mary will not come into your solitude uninvited, but if you ask her, especially by praying her Rosary, she will be there, filling it with life, sweetness, and hope.

Blessed Bartolo Longo

1005 Beato Bartolo-Longo.jpgBlessed Bartolo Longo
There is a marvelous figure of holiness inscribed on the calendar today: Blessed Bartolo Longo, the great Apostle of the Rosary and the founder of the shrine of the Madonna of the Rosary at Pompei in Italy. Born in 1841, Blessed Longo died in 1926. He was a contemporary of Saint Faustina. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1980. Several times in his pontificate, Saint John Paul II called our attention to the example of this holy layman, calling him “l’uomo della Madonna,” Our Lady’s man.

Divine Mercy Displayed
Blessed Bartolo Longo’s story is a dramatic illustration of Divine Mercy. The mystery of Mercy announced by Saint Faustina played itself out in the life of Blessed Longo. As a young man, following studies in Law, Bartolo Longo abandoned his faith and allowed himself to be drawn into paths of great spiritual darkness. He practiced spiritism, found himself entrenched in the occult, and became a practicing Satanist. Longo went so far as to have himself ordained a priest of Satan. He very nearly lost his sanity, becoming a mere shadow of himself.

Spiritually Sick
In one particular séance Longo was distressed to see the face of the deceased king of Naples and the Two Sicilies: Ferdinand II. That same night he saw the soul of his mother circling his bed, begging him to return to the Catholic faith. His practice of the occult had so affected him that he was barely recognizable to those who once knew him as a handsome young man, full of vitality and promise. A Catholic friend, seeing him in such a pitiful spiritual, psychological, and physical state, begged him to at least meet with Father Radente, a wise Dominican priest. After some time, Longo made a thorough confession and, under the direction of this priest, began the reform of his life. He entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic, receiving the name, Brother Rosario.

Conversion and Healing
Bartolo’s Dominican spiritual father told him that the Mother of God promised that anyone who promoted her Rosary would assuredly be saved. The rest of Blessed Bartolo’s life was dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. The Rosary was his lifeline. The Rosary was the anchor of his salvation. The Rosary was the means by which the Holy Mother of God brought him back from hell. It was through the prayer of the Rosary that the Blessed Virgin healed his soul, restored him to health, and entrusted him with a mission. Later Blessed Bartolo wrote, “What is my vocation? To write about Mary, to have Mary praised, to have Mary loved.”

Rosary Apostolate
Blessed Longo reached out to the desperately poor, ignorant, and needy people of the town of Pompei. He taught them to pray the Rosary. The Rosary did for that entire town what it had done for him in his personal life; it brought healing, refreshment, holiness, joy, and peace. With the help of the Countess Mariana de Fusco whom he later married on the advice of Pope Leo XIII, while preserving with her his vow of chastity, Bartolo Longo undertook the construction of the church of the Madonna of the Rosary of Pompei. The city that grew up around it became the City of the Rosary.

He founded a congregation of Dominican Sisters to care for the poor. He established a school for boys. He wrote tirelessly in the service of the Madonna and of her Rosary. His beautiful supplication to the Madonna of the Rosary has been translated into countless languages. Pope John Paul II prayed it when, on October 7, 2003, he visited Pompei to conclude the Year of the Rosary. In Italy, every year on the first Sunday of October, everything comes to a halt at noon while people, young and old, poor and rich, healthy and sick, pause to pray Blessed Longo’s supplication to the Virgin of the Rosary.

Divine Mercy Available to All
Saint Faustina made known the mystery of Divine Mercy. Blessed Bartolo Longo experienced Divine Mercy in a dramatic and deeply personal way. The same Divine Mercy is available to us: the mercy that brings back from hell, the mercy that raises the soul from spiritual death, the mercy that heals, restores, forgives, and repairs the past.

The Divine Mercy comes to us through the intercession of the Mother of God and, most efficaciously, through the humble prayer of the Rosary. It comes to us in the Sacrament of Penance: the mystery of the blood and the water from the side of Christ washing over the soul. And the Divine Mercy comes to us in the mystery of the Eucharist. The Mass is the real presence of Crucified Love. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Divine Mercy flowing from the Heart of the Lamb, making saints out of sinners.

Blessed Columba Marmion

A Great Irish Benedictine
Today is the feast of a great Irish saint! Born and educated in Dublin, Joseph Marmion served as a curate in Dundrum and seminary professor at Clonliffe before becoming a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. Dom Columba Marmion was elected of Abbot of Maredsous in 1909. He chose to receive the Abbatial Blessing on Rosary Sunday. It fell that year on October 3rd. When Pope John Paul II beatified Abbot Columba Marmion in 2000, the liturgical memorial of the new Blessed was fixed on the date of his Abbatial Blessing, rather than on the day of his death, January 30th.

Saint John Paul II
In 1985 Pope Saint John Paul II visited Belgium. When the papal helicopter flew over the Abbey of Maredsous on the way from Brussels to Beauraing, the Holy Father confided to one of his aides: “I owe more to Columba Marmion for initiating me into things spiritual than to any other spiritual writer.” The saints engender saints, and this in every age.

Cardinal Mercier, and Others
Cardinal Mercier, the holy Archbishop of Malines in Belgium and a contemporary of the Abbot wrote, after reading Christ, the Life of the Soul: “The perfume of Holy Scripture, to be breathed in at each page of this volume, gives the impression that it was conceived and prepared during prayer, at the foot of the altar, before being given to the public.” Pope Benedict XV kept the writings of Abbot Marmion close at hand and recommended them to the saintly head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Metropolitan Andrei Sheptitsky of Lviv, saying: “Read this, it is the pure doctrine of the Church.”

A Lad Reads Marmion
My own introduction to Abbot Marmion came when I was fifteen years old. I was visiting Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. Father Marius Granato, O.C.S.O., charged at that time with helping young men — even very young men — seek God, put Christ, the Ideal of the Monk into my hands. He even let me take the precious green-covered volume home with me. With all the ardour of my fifteen years I devoured it. No book had ever spoken to my heart in quite the same way.

I read and re-read Christ, the Ideal of the Monk. At fifteen one is profoundly marked by what one reads. The impressions made on a soul at that age determine the course of one’s life. As I pursued my desire to seek God, I relied on Abbot Marmion. I chose him not only as my monastic patron, but also as my spiritual father, my intercessor, and my guide.

A Good Spiritual Director
If you are looking for a good spiritual director, choose Blessed Columba Marmion. His books are being re-edited in attractive, revised translations that present his timeless doctrine in all its freshness and beauty. From his place in heaven he remains attentive to souls and ready at every moment to direct them to Christ.

Goodness and Humour
Those who knew Dom Marmion bore witness to the vivacity of his Irish temperament and to his marvelous sense of humour, capable of humanizing even the most solemn occasions. He showed an immense goodness as abbot and priest; he had a special place in his heart for the poor, the little ones, and those wounded by life. He sought always to bring happiness to people, allowing the best human qualities to flourish. “Grace,” he often affirmed, “does not destroy nature, nor does it suppress one’s personality.”

As a novice, Columba suffered under the direction of a Master of Novices who was singularly lacking in human warmth. He never forgot this and, later in his monastic life when he was entrusted with positions of authority, he did everything possible to be jovial, joyful, and full of compassionate sympathy in his relations with others. He did this in spite of long periods of spiritual darkness, even as he struggled through the seasons of depression that marked his whole life.

Devotion to the Way of the Cross
Abbot Marmion tried always to bear his burdens of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering without allowing them to become a weight on others. All his life, he was intensely devoted to the Passion of Christ, making the Way of the Cross every day. His meditations on the Way of the Cross in Christ in His Mysteries are, to my mind, unequalled.

Participation in Our Lord’s Redemptive Passion
Blessed Columba entered deeply into the sentiments of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart. Through the writings of Saint John and Saint Paul, he contemplated the Face of Christ set toward the Father’s perfect will, the fulfillment of the Father’s saving design of love, the Father’s promise of glory. Thus did he come to see his own sufferings of body, mind, and spirit as participation in the redemptive sufferings of Christ.

The Word of God
Blessed Abbot Marmion had the gift of teaching souls to relish the Word of God. In his own experience, Sacred Scripture was, first of all, proclaimed, chanted, heard, held in the heart, and prayed, in the context of the liturgy. His astonishing familiarity with the Bible came to him not by way of study but through the Divine Office, the daily round of the Opus Dei, the Work of God celebrated in choir.

A Theology That Adores
Dom Marmion attributed to the words of the Bible the grace of a particular unction: something penetrating, a kind of sacramentality that puts us in communion with Christ himself, the Word before whom every human tongue falls silent. It was recounted that when Dom Marmion taught theology to the young monks, they would leave the classroom after his lectures in a reverent silence and go directly to the choir to adore. This is monastic theology!

The Soul of the Liturgy
As a spiritual father, Blessed Columba insisted on the primacy of the liturgy. Well before the Second Vatican Council, he preached the liturgy as “source and summit” of the life of the Church. He quenched his thirst for God in drinking directly from the liturgy’s pure wellsprings and led a great number of Christians to do the same. Dom Lambert Beauduin, another father of the classic Liturgical Movement, wrote concerning Abbot Marmion: “He revealed to us the soul of the liturgy; by this I mean all the elements of doctrine and of life, that the liturgy reserves for us beneath the visible veil of its rites and symbols.”

Christ, the Ideal of the Monk
In his book, Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, Blessed Columba generated a movement of return to the Rule of Saint Benedict and offered a re-reading of the text capable of irrigating the monastic life of every generation. His vision of Benedictine life is profoundly human and profoundly supernatural. He presents the monastery as a place where the Kingdom of God has already come, a place wherein every weakness can encounter mercy, wherein the human will is directed into the Will of God through the good that is obedience, and wherein every heart of stone, having become a heart of flesh through the grace of compunction, is freed at last to love and to be loved. He presents the abbot at the service of his brothers as a Father, as a Spirit-bearing Doctor, and as the Pontiff, the one who assembles the community to pass over into Christ’s own worship of the Father.

The Most Holy Eucharist
Let us seek the intercession of Blessed Columba Marmion today for ourselves and for each other. He will obtain for us the grace of fixing our gaze on the Face of Christ set toward all that the Father wills, toward the mystery of the Cross through which joy has come into the world. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, the Life of the Soul. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ in His Mysteries. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, the Ideal of the Monk. How blessed we are to be called, with Abbot Marmion and all the saints, to the Banquet of the Lamb.

Thérèse

1001 Therese sacristan.jpgSome years ago, as a love offering for the feast of my dear Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, I translated Dom Eugène Vandeur’s doctrinal synthesis of Merciful Love, the Cross, and the Mass in her life. The original text appeared in 1925 as part of a commentary of the then new Propers for the Mass of the feast of Saint Thérèse.

The Cross Reveals Merciful Love
The greatest proof of love that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has given to His Father is His sacrifice on the cross. This sacrifice, the most freely given that ever was, — and from that derives the infinite merit of this oblation of a Man Who is God — was an act of filial and loving obedience. This act repaired the profanation of the absolute rights of God over His creation that was wrought by Adam and by his race. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was supreme adoration, fulness of thanksgiving, victorious supplication, and total expiation. The offering of this immolation appeased God and, at the same time, assured our redemption. By virtue of this, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is also the greatest proof of Merciful Love that Jesus Christ has given to men.

Jesus’ Love for His Father and for His Friends
This doctrine is condensed for us in these two words of the Gospel: “But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence” (John 14, 31). And He went out toward Gethsemani. And again: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Love for Love
The love that the Heart of Christ revealed to us there, on the cross, to all of us and to each one, is mercy: mercy bound up with an infinite tenderness, or rather, suffused into it. One who welcomes that mercy is sanctified and saved. He will assuredly be sanctified and assured of his salvation who, wanting to respond with love to this Merciful Love, and meditating the word of the Apostle, “He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2, 20), will return the proposition and, “offering himself voluntarily as a victim of holocaust to Merciful Love,” will exclaim, “Ah, then, I will love Him, and deliver myself up for Him.”

The Cross, the Altar, and the Mass
Know that what the Cross merited, what the Cross procured, what the Cross preached, the Altar applies to us, procuring and preaching it ceaselessly, and more and more. And so, to live the Mass, is for a soul to abide in the uninterrupted act of this offering: the response of love to Merciful Love. Thus does a soul draw Merciful Love to herself ever more abundantly.

For Sinners

Thérèse tells us that to be devoted to Merciful Love “continually allows the Love with which God loves a soul and the love with which that soul loves God to come together in the heart, there ceaselessly to conceive new flames, which transform the soul in God” (Thérèse, Act of Offering). Thus does one become a wide open vessel, the receptacle of a Love rich in divine mercies. This frees “the torrent of infinite tenderness enclosed in the Divine Heart to overflow into oneself” (Thérèse, Act of Offering); it is the martyrdom of love, Love’s direct work in the soul. The consequences of this will, nearly always, entail suffering, but suffering cherished because with it one can purchase souls, a multitude of souls who will love Merciful Love eternally. By making oneself, at the altar, an extension of Jesus, crucified by Love, one causes the abundance of the infinite merits of the Cross to shower down, especially upon sinners. What an ideal!

Consumed by Merciful Love

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus synthesized this doctrine in a practical way when, in her solemn consecration to Merciful Love — a ceaseless response to the consecration of the Cross and of the Mass — the Lord inspired her to say:

In order that my life may be one Act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a Victim of Holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, so that I may become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my God!

The Thirst of the Crucified
The entire Christian and religious life of Saint Thérèse is there, whole and entire. She herself provides the living commentary on the [liturgical texts of the] Mass composed for her [feast] by her Mother, the Church. This is what she was saying when, with a pen of fire, she wrote:

One Sunday, closing my book at the end of Mass, a picture of Our Lord on the Cross half slipped out, showing only one of His Divine Hands, pierced and bleeding. I felt an indescribable thrill such as I had never felt before. My heart was torn with grief to see that Precious Blood falling to the ground, and no one caring to treasure It as It fell, and I resolved to remain continually in spirit at the foot of the Cross, that I might receive the Divine Dew of Salvation and pour it forth upon souls. From that day the cry of my dying Saviour–“I thirst!”–sounded incessantly in my heart, and kindled therein a burning zeal hitherto unknown to me. My one desire was to give my Beloved to drink; I felt myself consumed with thirst for souls, and I longed at any cost to snatch sinners from the everlasting flames of hell.

The Souls of Priests
“I feel,” she wrote to one of her sisters,

that Jesus is asking us to quench His thirst by giving Him souls, especially the souls of priests. . . Yes, let us pray for priests; let our life be consecrated to them . . . These souls [of priests] ought to be more transparent than crystal; but, alas, I feel that there are some ministers of the Lord who are not what they should be. And so, let us pray and suffer for them . . . Understand the cry of my heart!

Merciful Love Spread Abroad
It is very clear. Thérèse lived the Mass, especially its expiatory character. She stood at the foot of the holy cross raised over the altar, to gather up the Merciful Love that quenched her own thirst; then she would spread abroad that same Merciful Love over souls, to save them.

The Mass Made Thérèse a Saint
The Mass is the application to souls of the fruits of the Redemption merited upon the cross. If Thérèse of the Child Jesus is a saint, it is the cross that merited sainthood for her, but it is the Mass that applied to her the merits of sanctification and of salvation.

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Situated amidst pasture land and forest in the eastern reaches of County Meath, Silverstream Priory was founded in 2012 at the invitation of the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, and canonically erected as an autonomous monastery of diocesan right on 25 February 2017. The property belonged, from the early 15th century, to the Preston family, premier Viscounts of Ireland and Lords of Gormanston. In 1843 Thomas Preston (1817-1903), son of Jenico Preston, the 12th Viscount (1775-1860), built what today is Silverstream Priory.

Silverstream Priory is a providential realisation of the cherished project of Abbot Celestino Maria Colombo, O.S.B. (1874–1935), who, following the impetus given by Catherine–Mectilde de Bar in the 17th century, sought to establish a house of Benedictine monks committed to ceaseless prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation. The community of Silverstream Priory holding to the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant, celebrate the Divine Office in its traditional Benedictine form and Holy Mass in the “Usus Antiquior” of the Roman Rite. Praying and working in the enclosure of the monastery, the monks of Silverstream keep at heart the sanctification of priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord. They undertake various works compatible with their monastic vocation, notably the development of the land and gardens, hospitality to the clergy in need of a spiritual respite, scholarly work, and publishing.

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