Category Archives: Saints

Saint Fionán (Finnian)

St FinnianPatron of the Diocese of Meath
The feast of Saint Fionán (Finnian) (470–549), kept on December 12th, holds a special significance for the monks of Silverstream Priory, not only because Saint Finnian is the patron of the Diocese of Meath, but also because he walked the Boyne Valley in which our own monastery is implanted. Saint Finnian was a contemporary of Saint Benedict (480–547), thus establishing a link in time between Clonard (founded in 520)  and Monte Cassino (founded in 529). Our own Dom Finnian, being a native son of the Diocese of Meath, was named for its glorious patron.

A Prodigious Monastic Flowering
The  monasticism established by Saint Finnian would have much in common with that established by Saint Pachomius (292–348) in Egypt. Pachomian monasticism was characterized by vast villages of monks divided into households according to the trades or crafts exercised by the monks. Saint Finnian’s monks too, in addition to their distinctive commitment to learning and education, would have exercised all the trades and crafts needed to build and maintain their community.

During its most glorious period the monastic school of Clonard counted more than 3000 scholars. Clonard suffered devastation under the Danes who swept through Ireland from the 9th to the 11th centuries. Saint Finnian was buried at Clonard. His monastery fell into decline in the 12th century, but a Church of Ireland edifice built on the site of the original monastic church was in use until 1991 when its 16th century baptismal font was removed to Clonard’s Catholic Church of Saint Finnian.

Mass and Office of the Saint
The Mass and Office of Saint Finnian are taken from the Common of Abbots. It is a great pity that the ancient Office of Saint Finnian is no longer in use for his feast. The Introit of the Common of Abbots describes nonetheless the essential characteristic of Saint Finnian’s holiness.

The mouth of the just man shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment: the law of his God is in his heart. (Psalm 36:30)

Meditation
For the ancients, to meditate signified the ceaseless oral repetition of Sacred Scripture. The repetition of the Word of God leads to its descent into the heart where it is made fruitful by the Holy Ghost. The Word of God, Sapientia, touches the palate of the soul with a divine sweetness; in the heart it becomes both fire and light. “And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

Lectio Divina
Today the meditation of the Word of God, also known as lectio divina, is an indispensable element of the monastic life. It takes place first of all in the Oratory of the monastery where each monk in his choir stall applies himself to chant the psalms with understanding and to listen to the Word of God with the ear of the heart.  What begins anew each day in choir is prolonged in the solitude of each monk’s cell where, opening the Bible as one would open the door of the tabernacle, the monk falls on his knees to seek the Face of Christ shining through the lattice–work of the sacred text. He reads the text aloud, repeats it, allows it to become a prayer rising from his heart, and then falls silent in God to rest in Him and to adore Him.

Prayer to Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker

We greet thee, O glorious Saint Nicholas, all-honoured hierarch, great wonderworker, saint of Christ, man of God, good and faithful servant, fountain of love, chosen vessel, strong pillar of the Church, shining lamp, star that illuminest and enlightenest the whole world!

Thou, O Father Saint Nicholas, art that righteous man who, according to the word of the Prophet, didst flourish like a palm tree planted in the courts of the Lord. Dwelling in Myra thou hast diffused the  sweet–smelling  fragrance of the grace of God in an ever-flowing stream of myrrh. By thy presence most holy Father, the sea was sanctified when thy miraculous relics were carried from East to West to the city of Bari, there to praise the Name of the Lord.

O marvelous wonderworker, speedy helper, fervent intercessor, good shepherd that savest the flock of Christ from all dangers, we glorify and magnify thee as the hope of all Christians. Thou art an ever–flowing spring of miracles, a defender of the faithful, a most wise teacher, a feeder of the hungry. Thou art the gladness of those that mourn, the clothing of the naked, the healer of the sick, the pilot of those that sail the sea. Thou art the liberator of prisoners, the provider, nourisher, and protector of widows and orphans, the guardian of chastity, the gentle tutor of little children, the support of the aged, the friend and advocate of monks, and the rest of those that labour. Thou, O Holy Bishop Nicholas, distributest riches in abundance to the poor and the needy who call upon thy name and beg for thy help.

Hearken unto us that pray unto thee and flee to thy protection.  Plead on our behalf with the Most High, and obtain through thy God-pleasing intercessions all that is useful for the salvation of our souls and bodies; keep, through thy help, this holy monastery, every city and town, every Christian country, and the people that dwell therein, from all oppression, for we know, that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much for good; and after the most-blessed Virgin Mary, the all–holy Mother of God, we look to thee, O Father Nicholas, for help and, full of confidence, hasten to thy fervent intercession.

Do thou, as a watchful and good shepherd, keep us from all enemies, pestilence, earthquake, hail, famine, flood, fire, and violence. Protect us from the invasion of the godless, the perversions of the wicked, the contagion of illnesses, and from being destitute and penniless in the the hour of our need. In all our misfortunes and affliction do thou stretch forth a helping hand. Open wide to us the doors of God’s compassion for we, by reason of the multitude of our iniquities, are unworthy to knock at heaven’s door; we are bound by the knots of many sins; we have sinned again and again, and our hearts have grown hard and cold in disobedience to the divine commands.

Wherefore, on bended knee, we incline our hearts before Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore thy fatherly intercession with our all–merciful God.  Lest we perish in our sins, deliver us from all evil and from every diabolical deceit; illumine our minds and strengthen our hearts in the pure light of the Orthodox Catholic Faith, in which, through thy mediation and intercession, we pray to be preserved free from all corruption, division, heresy, and shameful compromise with the enemies of the holy and life–giving Cross. Vouchsafe, O Father Saint Nicholas, that we may live a peaceful life in this monastery and, at length, rejoice to see the good things prepared for us in the land of the living, unto the glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, praised and adored in Trinity, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Through the tangle of thorns

Saint-Gertrude-the-Great.jpg

She had a vision of a young man who, in order to guide her through the tangle of thorns that surrounded her soul, took her by the hand. In that hand Gertrude recognized “the precious traces of the wounds that abrogated all the acts of accusation of our enemies”, and thus recognized the One who saved us with his Blood on the Cross: Jesus.

At the General Audience of Wednesday, 6 October 2010, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Saint Gertrude the Great, mystic of the Sacred Liturgy and of the Heart of Jesus.

A Woman Great by Nature and by Grace
Dear Brothers and Sisters, St Gertrude the Great, of whom I would like to talk to you today, brings us once again this week to the Monastery of Helfta, where several of the Latin-German masterpieces of religious literature were written by women. Gertrude belonged to this world. She is one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called “Great”, because of her cultural and evangelical stature: her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality. She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbour’s salvation. She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need.

Biblical, Liturgical, Patristic
At Helfta, she measured herself systematically, so to speak, with her teacher, Matilda of Hackeborn, of whom I spoke at last Wednesday’s Audience. Gertrude came into contact with Matilda of Magdeburg, another medieval mystic and grew up under the wing of Abbess Gertrude, motherly, gentle and demanding. From these three sisters she drew precious experience and wisdom; she worked them into a synthesis of her own, continuing on her religious journey with boundless trust in the Lord. Gertrude expressed the riches of her spirituality not only in her monastic world, but also and above all in the biblical, liturgical, Patristic and Benedictine contexts, with a highly personal hallmark and great skill in communicating.

All That Is Lovable in You Is My Work
Gertrude was born on 6 January 1256, on the Feast of the Epiphany, but nothing is known of her parents nor of the place of her birth. Gertrude wrote that the Lord himself revealed to her the meaning of this first uprooting: “I have chosen you for my abode because I am pleased that all that is lovable in you is my work…. For this very reason I have distanced you from all your relatives, so that no one may love you for reasons of kinship and that I may be the sole cause of the affection you receive” (The Revelations, I, 16, Siena 1994, pp. 76-77).

Among Christ’s Devout Friends
When she was five years old, in 1261, she entered the monastery for formation and education, a common practice in that period. Here she spent her whole life, the most important stages of which she herself points out. In her memoirs she recalls that the Lord equipped her in advance with forbearing patience and infinite mercy, forgetting the years of her childhood, adolescence and youth, which she spent, she wrote, “in such mental blindness that I would have been capable… of thinking, saying or doing without remorse everything I liked and wherever I could, had you not armed me in advance, with an inherent horror of evil and a natural inclination for good and with the external vigilance of others. “I would have behaved like a pagan… in spite of desiring you since childhood, that is since my fifth year of age, when I went to live in the Benedictine shrine of religion to be educated among your most devout friends” (ibid., II, 23, p. 140f.).

Favoured With a Special Love
Gertrude was an extraordinary student, she learned everything that can be learned of the sciences of the trivium and quadrivium, the education of that time; she was fascinated by knowledge and threw herself into profane studies with zeal and tenacity, achieving scholastic successes beyond every expectation. If we know nothing of her origins, she herself tells us about her youthful passions: literature, music and song and the art of miniature painting captivated her. She had a strong, determined, ready and impulsive temperament. She often says that she was negligent; she recognizes her shortcomings and humbly asks forgiveness for them. She also humbly asks for advice and prayers for her conversion. Some features of her temperament and faults were to accompany her to the end of her life, so as to amaze certain people who wondered why the Lord had favoured her with such a special love.

Guided by the Young Man With the Wounded Hand
From being a student she moved on to dedicate herself totally to God in monastic life, and for 20 years nothing exceptional occurred: study and prayer were her main activities. Because of her gifts she shone out among the sisters; she was tenacious in consolidating her culture in various fields. Nevertheless during Advent of 1280 she began to feel disgusted with all this and realized the vanity of it all. On 27 January 1281, a few days before the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, towards the hour of Compline in the evening, the Lord with his illumination dispelled her deep anxiety. With gentle sweetness he calmed the distress that anguished her, a torment that Gertrude saw even as a gift of God, “to pull down that tower of vanity and curiosity which, although I had both the name and habit of a nun alas I had continued to build with my pride, so that at least in this manner I might find the way for you to show me your salvation” (ibid., II, p. 87). She had a vision of a young man who, in order to guide her through the tangle of thorns that surrounded her soul, took her by the hand. In that hand Gertrude recognized “the precious traces of the wounds that abrogated all the acts of accusation of our enemies” (ibid., II, 1, p. 89), and thus recognized the One who saved us with his Blood on the Cross: Jesus.

Liturgical Humus
From that moment her life of intimate communion with the Lord was intensified, especially in the most important liturgical seasons Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, the feasts of Our Lady even when illness prevented her from going to the choir. This was the same liturgical humus as that of Matilda, her teacher; but Gertrude describes it with simpler, more linear images, symbols and terms that are more realistic and her references to the Bible, to the Fathers and to the Benedictine world are more direct.

From Grammarian to Theologian
Her biographer points out two directions of what we might describe as her own particular “conversion”: in study, with the radical passage from profane, humanistic studies to the study of theology, and in monastic observance, with the passage from a life that she describes as negligent, to the life of intense, mystical prayer, with exceptional missionary zeal. The Lord who had chosen her from her mother’s womb and who since her childhood had made her partake of the banquet of monastic life, called her again with his grace “from external things to inner life and from earthly occupations to love for spiritual things”. Gertrude understood that she was remote from him, in the region of unlikeness, as she said with Augustine; that she had dedicated herself with excessive greed to liberal studies, to human wisdom, overlooking spiritual knowledge, depriving herself of the taste for true wisdom; she was then led to the mountain of contemplation where she cast off her former self to be reclothed in the new. “From a grammarian she became a theologian, with the unflagging and attentive reading of all the sacred books that she could lay her hands on or contrive to obtain. She filled her heart with the most useful and sweet sayings of Sacred Scripture. Thus she was always ready with some inspired and edifying word to satisfy those who came to consult her while having at her fingertips the most suitable scriptural texts to refute any erroneous opinion and silence her opponents” (ibid., I, 1, p. 25).

The Apostolate of the Pen
Gertrude transformed all this into an apostolate: she devoted herself to writing and popularizing the truth of faith with clarity and simplicity, with grace and persuasion, serving the Church faithfully and lovingly so as to be helpful to and appreciated by theologians and devout people. Little of her intense activity has come down to us, partly because of the events that led to the destruction of the Monastery of Helfta. In addition to The Herald of Divine Love and The Revelations, we still have her Spiritual Exercises, a rare jewel of mystical spiritual literature.

No One Can Thwart Your Eternal Wisdom
In religious observance our Saint was “a firm pillar… a very powerful champion of justice and truth” (ibid., I, 1, p. 26), her biographer says. By her words and example she kindled great fervour in other people. She added to the prayers and penances of the monastic rule others with such devotion and such trusting abandonment in God that she inspired in those who met her an awareness of being in the Lord’s presence. In fact, God made her understand that he had called her to be an instrument of his grace. Gertrude herself felt unworthy of this immense divine treasure, and confesses that she had not safeguarded it or made enough of it. She exclaimed: “Alas! If you had given me to remember you, unworthy as I am, by even only a straw, I would have viewed it with greater respect and reverence that I have had for all your gifts!” (ibid., II, 5, p. 100). Yet, in recognizing her poverty and worthlessness she adhered to God’s will, “because”, she said, “I have so little profited from your graces that I cannot resolve to believe that they were lavished upon me solely for my own use, since no one can thwart your eternal wisdom. Therefore, O Giver of every good thing who has freely lavished upon me gifts so undeserved, in order that, in reading this, the heart of at least one of your friends may be moved at the thought that zeal for souls has induced you to leave such a priceless gem for so long in the abominable mud of my heart” (ibid., II, 5, p. 100f.).

Love’s Salutary Wound
Two favours in particular were dearer to her than any other, as Gertrude herself writes: “The stigmata of your salvation-bearing wounds which you impressed upon me, as it were, like a valuable necklaces, in my heart, and the profound and salutary wound of love with which you marked it. “You flooded me with your gifts, of such beatitude that even were I to live for 1,000 years with no consolation neither interior nor exterior the memory of them would suffice to comfort me, to enlighten me, to fill me with gratitude. Further, you wished to introduce me into the inestimable intimacy of your friendship by opening to me in various ways that most noble sacrarium of your Divine Being which is your Divine Heart…. To this accumulation of benefits you added that of giving me as Advocate the Most Holy Virgin Mary, your Mother, and often recommended me to her affection, just as the most faithful of bridegrooms would recommend his beloved bride to his own mother” (ibid., II, 23, p. 145).

That My Heart May Stay With You
Looking forward to never-ending communion, she ended her earthly life on 17 November 1301 or 1302, at the age of about 46. In the seventh Exercise, that of preparation for death, St Gertrude wrote: “O Jesus, you who are immensely dear to me, be with me always, so that my heart may stay with you and that your love may endure with me with no possibility of division; and bless my passing, so that my spirit, freed from the bonds of the flesh, may immediately find rest in you. Amen” (Spiritual Exercises, Milan 2006, p. 148).

It seems obvious to me that these are not only things of the past, of history; rather St Gertrude’s life lives on as a lesson of Christian life, of an upright path, and shows us that the heart of a happy life, of a true life, is friendship with the Lord Jesus. And this friendship is learned in love for Sacred Scripture, in love for the Liturgy, in profound faith, in love for Mary, so as to be ever more truly acquainted with God himself and hence with true happiness, which is the goal of our life. Many thanks.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Theodore the Studite

theodoreThe General Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI remain an incomparable treasure for all who love the saints. Pope Benedict, having a deeply Benedictine heart, was particularly attentive to presenting the great figures of monasticism to the whole Church. His presentation of the life and spiritual doctrine of Saint Theodore the Studite, whose feast we keep today, merits an attentive reading.

The Saint we meet today, St Theodore the Studite, brings us to the middle of the medieval Byzantine period, in a somewhat turbulent period from the religious and political perspectives. St Theodore was born in 759 into a devout noble family: his mother Theoctista and an uncle, Plato, Abbot of the Monastery of Saccudium in Bithynia, are venerated as saints. Indeed it was his uncle who guided him towards monastic life, which he embraced at the age of 22. He was ordained a priest by Patriarch Tarasius, but soon ended his relationship with him because of the toleration the Patriarch showed in the case of the adulterous marriage of the Emperor Constantine VI. This led to Theodore’s exile in 796 to Thessalonica. He was reconciled with the imperial authority the following year under the Empress Irene, whose benevolence induced Theodore and Plato to transfer to the urban monastery of Studios, together with a large portion of the community of the monks of Saccudium, in order to avoid the Saracen incursions. So it was that the important “Studite Reform” began.

Theodore’s personal life, however, continued to be eventful. With his usual energy, he became the leader of the resistance against the iconoclasm of Leo V, the Armenian who once again opposed the existence of images and icons in the Church. The procession of icons organized by the monks of Studios evoked a reaction from the police. Between 815 and 821, Theodore was scourged, imprisoned and exiled to various places in Asia Minor. In the end he was able to return to Constantinople but not to his own monastery. He therefore settled with his monks on the other side of the Bosporus. He is believed to have died in Prinkipo on 11 November 826, the day on which he is commemorated in the Byzantine Calendar. Theodore distinguished himself within Church history as one of the great reformers of monastic life and as a defender of the veneration of sacred images, beside St Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the second phase of the iconoclasm.

Theodore had realized that the issue of the veneration of icons was calling into question the truth of the Incarnation itself. In his three books, the Antirretikoi (Confutations), Theodore makes a comparison between eternal intra-Trinitarian relations, in which the existence of each of the divine Persons does not destroy their unity, and the relations between Christ’s two natures, which do not jeopardize in him the one Person of the Logos. He also argues: abolishing veneration of the icon of Christ would mean repudiating his redeeming work, given that, in assuming human nature, the invisible eternal Word appeared in visible human flesh and in so doing sanctified the entire visible cosmos.

Theodore and his monks, courageous witnesses in the period of the iconoclastic persecutions, were inseparably bound to the reform of coenobitic life in the Byzantine world. Their importance was notable if only for an external circumstance: their number. Whereas the number of monks in monasteries of that time did not exceed 30 or 40, we know from the Life of Theodore of the existence of more than 1,000 Studite monks overall. Theodore himself tells us of the presence in his monastery of about 300 monks; thus we see the enthusiasm of faith that was born within the context of this man’s being truly informed and formed by faith itself. However, more influential than these numbers was the new spirit the Founder impressed on coenobitic life. In his writings, he insists on the urgent need for a conscious return to the teaching of the Fathers, especially to St Basil, the first legislator of monastic life, and to St Dorotheus of Gaza, a famous spiritual Father of the Palestinian desert. Theodore’s characteristic contribution consists in insistence on the need for order and submission on the monks’ part. During the persecutions they had scattered and each one had grown accustomed to living according to his own judgement. Then, as it was possible to re-establish community life, it was necessary to do the utmost to make the monastery once again an organic community, a true family, or, as St Theodore said, a true “Body of Christ”. In such a community the reality of the Church as a whole is realized concretely.

Another of St Theodore’s basic convictions was this: monks, differently from lay people, take on the commitment to observe the Christian duties with greater strictness and intensity. For this reason they make a special profession which belongs to the hagiasmata (consecrations), and it is, as it were, a “new Baptism”, symbolized by their taking the habit. Characteristic of monks in comparison with lay people, then, is the commitment to poverty, chastity and obedience. In addressing his monks, Theodore spoke in a practical, at times picturesque manner about poverty, but poverty in the following of Christ is from the start an essential element of monasticism and also points out a way for all of us. The renunciation of private property, this freedom from material things, as well as moderation and simplicity apply in a radical form only to monks, but the spirit of this renouncement is equal for all. Indeed, we must not depend on material possessions but instead must learn renunciation, simplicity, austerity and moderation. Only in this way can a supportive society develop and the great problem of poverty in this world be overcome. Therefore, in this regard the monks’ radical poverty is essentially also a path for us all. Then when he explains the temptations against chastity, Theodore does not conceal his own experience and indicates the way of inner combat to find self control and hence respect for one’s own body and for the body of the other as a temple of God.

However, the most important renunciations in his opinion are those required by obedience, because each one of the monks has his own way of living, and fitting into the large community of 300 monks truly involves a new way of life which he describes as the “martyrdom of submission”. Here too the monks’ example serves to show us how necessary this is for us, because, after the original sin, man has tended to do what he likes. The first principle is for the life of the world, all the rest must be subjected to it. However, in this way, if each person is self-centred, the social structure cannot function. Only by learning to fit into the common freedom, to share and to submit to it, learning legality, that is, submission and obedience to the rules of the common good and life in common, can society be healed, as well as the self, of the pride of being the centre of the world. Thus St Theodore, with fine introspection, helped his monks and ultimately also helps us to understand true life, to resist the temptation to set up our own will as the supreme rule of life and to preserve our true personal identity which is always an identity shared with others and peace of heart.

For Theodore the Studite an important virtue on a par with obedience and humility is philergia, that is, the love of work, in which he sees a criterion by which to judge the quality of personal devotion: the person who is fervent and works hard in material concerns, he argues, will be the same in those of the spirit. Therefore he does not permit the monk to dispense with work, including manual work, under the pretext of prayer and contemplation; for work to his mind and in the whole monastic tradition is actually a means of finding God. Theodore is not afraid to speak of work as the “sacrifice of the monk”, as his “liturgy”, even as a sort of Mass through which monastic life becomes angelic life. And it is precisely in this way that the world of work must be humanized and man, through work, becomes more himself and closer to God. One consequence of this unusual vision is worth remembering: precisely because it is the fruit of a form of “liturgy”, the riches obtained from common work must not serve for the monks’ comfort but must be earmarked for assistance to the poor. Here we can all understand the need for the proceeds of work to be a good for all. Obviously the “Studites'” work was not only manual: they had great importance in the religious and cultural development of the Byzantine civilization as calligraphers, painters, poets, educators of youth, school teachers and librarians.

Although he exercised external activities on a truly vast scale, Theodore did not let himself be distracted from what he considered closely relevant to his role as superior: being the spiritual father of his monks. He knew what a crucial influence both his good mother and his holy uncle Plato whom he described with the significant title “father” had had on his life. Thus he himself provided spiritual direction for the monks. Every day, his biographer says, after evening prayer he would place himself in front of the iconostasis to listen to the confidences of all. He also gave spiritual advice to many people outside the monastery. The Spiritual Testament and the Letters highlight his open and affectionate character, and show that true spiritual friendships were born from his fatherhood both in the monastic context and outside it.

The Rule, known by the name of Hypotyposis, codified shortly after Theodore’s death, was adopted, with a few modifications, on Mount Athos when in 962 St Athanasius Anthonite founded the Great Laura there, and in the Kievan Rus’, when at the beginning of the second millennium St Theodosius introduced it into the Laura of the Grottos. Understood in its genuine meaning, the Rule has proven to be unusually up to date. Numerous trends today threaten the unity of the common faith and impel people towards a sort of dangerous spiritual individualism and spiritual pride. It is necessary to strive to defend and to increase the perfect unity of the Body of Christ, in which the peace of order and sincere personal relations in the Spirit can be harmoniously composed.

It may be useful to return at the end to some of the main elements of Theodore’s spiritual doctrine: love for the Lord incarnate and for his visibility in the Liturgy and in icons; fidelity to Baptism and the commitment to live in communion with the Body of Christ, also understood as the communion of Christians with each other; a spirit of poverty, moderation and renunciation; chastity, self-control, humility and obedience against the primacy of one’s own will that destroys the social fabric and the peace of souls; love for physical and spiritual work; spiritual love born from the purification of one’s own conscience, one’s own soul, one’s own life. Let us seek to comply with these teachings that really do show us the path of true life.

General Audience
27 May 2009

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Her Mission in Heaven

Elisabeth_a_18_ans.jpgSaint Elizabeth in the Catechism
Opening the Catechism of the Catholic Church one morning, I discovered that among the ecclesiastical writers cited in the text, there are fifty-nine men and eight women. Three of the eight women cited are Carmelites, and one of the three is Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: an outstanding honour for a young nun who died, hidden in her Carmel at Dijon, at twenty-six years of age on November 9, 1906.

Light, Love, Life
Faced with death, Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity said, “Je vais à la Lumière, à l’Amour à la Vie — I am going to the Light, to Love, to Life.” The influence of the young Carmelite has grown prodigiously all over the world. Her Prayer to the Holy Trinity has been translated into thirty-four languages.

Her Mission
Before her death, Elizabeth sensed that she would be entrusted with a mission in heaven. “I think,” she said, “that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself.”

God at Work in Us
Saint Paul, whose Epistles were the young Carmelite’s daily nourishment, says: “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Saint Elizabeth’s secret of holiness was total surrender to God at work in her for his good pleasure, transforming her into the Praise of His Glory (cf. Eph 1:6). Believing this, one dares to pray, “I trust, O God, that you are at work in me, even now, both to will and to work for the praise of your glory.”

For the Praise of His Glory
The Catechism says that, “even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: ‘If a man loves me,” says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him'” (Jn 14:23). And as a kind of commentary on the mystery of the indwelling Trinity, the Catechism gives us Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity’s magnificent prayer. I know souls who by dint of repeating that prayer day after day have learned it by heart; God alone knows what changes it has wrought in them . . . for the praise of His glory.

Support the monks of Silverstream Priory:

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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