Category Archives: Saints

The Festivals of Saints (XIV)

CHAPTER XIV. How the Night-Office is to be said on Saints’ Days
17 Feb. 18 June. 18 Oct.
On the Festivals of Saints, and all other solemnities, let the Office be ordered as we have prescribed for Sundays: except that the Psalms, antiphons and lessons suitable to the day are to be said. Their number, however, shall remain as we have appointed above.

Saint Benedict distinguishes between the festivals of the saints and what he calls “all other solemnities”. This last expression refers to the various Christological  and Marian festivals that were already being celebrated in his time. The Rule is, it would seem, designedly vague, because it was to be observed not only at Monte Cassino, but also in other places, each having its own local kalendar.

For the festivals of the saints, Saint Benedict enjoins his monks to follow the pattern of the Sunday Office, apart from those parts of the Office that pertain to the festival itself. Blessed Schuster argues in favour of a full proper Office including psalms, lessons and collects. He refers to the homilies of Saint Augustine and Saint Cesarius that allude to proper liturgical texts for the feasts of saints, and concludes that the beginning of the Proper of the Saints can be traced to a time before Saint Benedict. Some authors, among them certain learned Maurists of the 17th century, interpret differently the phrase ad ipsum die pertinentes dicantur, and hold to the recitation of the ferial psalms even on the festivals of saints, albeit with proper antiphons. Blessed Schuster suggests that the Proper Offices of certain saints were later extended and adapted to other saints of the same category, giving rise to the Common of Martyrs, the Common of Confessors, the Common of Virgins, and the other Commons.

Historical considerations aside, what emerges from Chapter XIV of the Holy Rule is that the saints, through the liturgy, were present in the life of our father Saint Benedict, as they have been present, through the liturgy, in the lives of his sons down through the ages. The feasts of the saints, and the related veneration of their holy relics, are opportunities given us by the liturgical providence of God to intensify our communion with the Church triumphant. The saints are more present to us than we to them; they are ever ready to help us, guide us, and intercede for us. We are not always aware of their presence nor of their intense activity on our behalf, but being in the light of glory, they “neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 120:4).

And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Our Lord gives specialised tasks to His saints. The Church recognises this by attributing to certain saints a patronage over places, groups, and particular needs. Our Lord engages the saints in the ministrations of His merciful love to souls. The life of the saints in heaven is one of cooperation with Our Lord in His two-fold mediation as Eternal High Priest. Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, they glorify and praise the Father in the ceaseless liturgy of heaven. At the same time, through Him, and with Him, and in Him, as His almoners, they dispense graces to souls and intervene with a perfect love in the lives of those who journey as pilgrims on the earth.

Our Lord has charged His saints to walk with us, to attend to our needs, to obtain for us the graces of repentance, and illumination, and union with Him that He so desires to give us. Some of these saints, though not all of them, are known to us. The saints adopt us, so to speak, some as brothers, others as spiritual sons. The interest of the saints in all that we do, and say, and suffer is continuous. The saints are, at every moment, attentive to us.

The first and indispensable expression of devotion to the saints is the celebration of their feasts. Each feast brings with it a grace that is proper to it. Through the antiphons, and responsories, and hymns, and collects of the saints, we effectively call upon them, we ask for their help and, thus, we begin to benefit from their example, to live according to their doctrine, and to walk in their company.

We can hope, one day, to be united with the saints in the glory of heaven where the radiance of the Face of Christ, the brightness of the Lamb, will fill our souls with an ineffable joy. Invoke the saints whom Our Lord has already brought into your life and remain open, for there are others whom He will present to you, and to whom He will entrust you in the years to come. The repetition of the Sanctoral cycle of the Divine Office is a yearly opportunity to renew our friendship with the saints and to receive the particular alms of grace that it pleases Our Lord to distribute by their hand.

Angels appointed to watch over us (VII: The First Degree)

29 Jan. 30 May. 29 Sept.
Let us be on our guard, then, against evil desires, since death hath its seat close to the entrance of delight; wherefore the Scripture commandeth us, saying: “Go not after thy concupiscences” (Ecclesiasticus18:30). Since, therefore, “The eyes of the Lord behold the good and the evil,” and “The Lord is ever looking down from heaven upon the children of men, to see who hath understanding or is seeking God” (Psalm 13:2), and since the works of our hands are reported to Him day and night by the angels appointed to watch over us; we must be always on the watch, brethren, lest, as the prophet saith in the psalm, God should see us at any time declining to evil and become unprofitable; and lest, though He spare us now, because He is merciful and expecteth our conversion, He should say to us hereafter: “These things thou didst and I held my peace” (Psalm 49:20).

“Go not after thy concupiscences” (Ecclesiasticus18:30). One understands that concupiscence, as Saint Benedict uses the word here, refers to the craving after pleasure that drives a man towards what is evil. Concupiscence is not, however, in itself, sinful; rightly harnessed, one’s concupiscence can become a driving force towards what is good. One can, for example, crave the delight that comes from wisdom, or virtue, or living in the presence of God. Concupiscence moves a man towards a pleasurable good, towards an object in which he will take delight. To show that concupiscence can be directed towards God, Saint Thomas quotes the psalmist: “My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God” (cf. First Part of the Second Part: Question 30).

Our Lord says, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Matthew 11:12); and concerning Himself, He says, “I am come to cast fire on the earth: and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12:49). On the night before He suffered, He says,”With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). It is a good thing to show oneself passionate about our monastic vocation, provided that one’s passion does not turn to a bitter zeal. A monk without passion for his vocation is salt that has lost its savour. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men” (Matthew 5:13). When a man knocks at the door of our monastery, I look to see if there is fire in his eyes.

When concupiscence is misdirected it becomes like a missile gone off course. All sort of desires rise in a man’s consciousness. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are healthy. Not all of them are aligned with the Will of God. The tricky part is that sometimes things that are very wrong can tickle one’s fancy. All a man’s thoughts and desires must be scrutinised in the light of God. A man’s every thought must be taken captive and brought into subjection to Christ, according to the word of the Apostle:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels, and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthian 10:4–5)

A man cannot control the emergence of every desire and impulse. Certain evil thoughts — pride, rash judgment, vainglory, violence, suspicion, sadness, and impurity, to name just a few — can present themselves unsolicited and unannounced, like an unwelcome visitor who shows up at one’s door. As soon as one becomes aware of the arrival of such an unwelcome visitor, he must be sent packing. Over time one becomes more experienced at recognising such intruders. One can almost hear their menacing footsteps on the path that leads up into one’s consciousness; this gives one time to secure one’s house and send to the intruder the clear message that he is unwanted and unwelcome.

But this know ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. (Matthew 24:43)

Saint Benedict proposes a powerful defense against evil thoughts; it is the practice of the presence of God. I said to you in Monday’s Chapter:

If you work or study in your cell, never let a quarter of an hour pass without pausing, however briefly, to acknowledge “the eye of the Divine Majesty” and to lift your heart and mind in prayer.

This is more than a rule for living well in one’s cell; it is a principle that one can practice with great profit throughout the whole day, and wherever one happens to be. Repeated acts of acknowledgement of the presence of God are the beginning of a life of perpetual adoration. I have, in the past, suggested to you simple practices that foster an unbroken awareness of the presence of God: the habitual use of Holy Water; frequent and very brief random visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament; the rumination of a verse of Sacred Scripture; the repetition of an invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus; the Rosary prayed throughout the day; frequent spontaneous prayers to the Mother of God; and there are many others besides these. Saint Benedict speaks explicitly of the Holy Angels appointed to watch over us, that is, our Holy Guardian Angels. There is a long Benedictine tradition of devotion to the Holy Guardian Angels; one sees a compelling example of this in the life of Dom Gérard, the founder of Le Barroux. Do not fail to enlist the good services of your Guardian Angel in routing evil thoughts and desires. Some sophisticated and clever types may scoff at such simple expressions of devotion. Their pride will be their undoing. The monk who, in spite of his learning and theological qualifications, has preserved a childlike and humble faith, will never disdain such lowly means: simple practices that are within the reach of all, even of the littlest souls.

The monk who has opened the door of his heart to the Mother of God, in imitation of the Beloved Disciple who, as he himself relates it, “took her to his own” (John 19:27), will be spared many exhausting struggles against evil thoughts. When a novice or a monk abandons himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s guidance and begins to follow her inspirations, he experiences that the battle with his thoughts is simplified and, in effect, reduced to a single tactic. Such a brother casts every evil thought under the feet of the Immaculate Mother of God and, then, goes his way peacefully, without fear, in holiness and rightmindedness. After each victory over his thoughts, he recognises that the Blessed Virgin Mary has visited him and helped him. “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).

There is one other thing that I want to share with you in this regard: five years ago I read Yves Chiron’s biography of Blessed Louis–Edouard Cestac (1801–1868), a French priest beatified in May 2015. Monseigneur Marc Aillet wrote the introduction to the book. On 13 January 1864, Blessed Father Cestac was suddenly struck by a ray of divine light. He saw devils scattered throughout the earth, wreaking inexplicable ravages. At the same time, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him. The Mother of God told Blessed Father Cestac that devils had indeed been let loose in the world, and that the hour had come to pray to her as Queen of Angels. The Mother of God invited Blessed Father Cestac to pray her to send out legions of Angel to fight and rout the powers of Hell. “Mother”, said Father Cestac, no mean theologian, “thou who art so good, couldst thou not send them without being asked?” “No”, answered the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Prayer is a condition set by God Himself to obtain graces”. “So Mother”, replied the priest, “wouldst thou thyself teach me how one must pray to thee?” And Blessed Father Cestac received from the Most Blessed Virgin the prayer: August Queen. Immediately, Father Cestac submitted the prayer to Msgr Lacroix, the Bishop of Bayonne, who deigned to approve it. Blessed Father Cestac had  500,000 copies printed and had them sent everywhere. At the time of the first printing, the printing press broke down twice. I find Blessed Cestac’s prayer pertinent at the present hour in Ireland, but also whenever one senses that “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Here is the prayer:

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Mistress of the Angels, thou who from the beginning hast received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech thee to send thy holy legions, that under thy command and by thy power they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into eternal woe.

Who is like unto God?

O good and tender Mother, thou willest always to be our love and our hope.
O Mother of God, send thy holy Angels to defend us and drive far from us the cruel enemy.
Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us. Amen.

Supplica to Saint Rita of Cascia

The saints befriend those whom God entrusts to them. Often the saints introduce themselves into one’s life by means of a reference in conversation, the gift of a book, or the random discovery of an image. One who has experienced the friendship of the saints in this valley of tears will always cherish it. The circle of heavenly friends is ever widening, ever expanding. There is, at every moment, a mysterious commerce between heaven and earth. No one is excluded from this commerce; it is willed by God and set in motion by His Eternal Love lest, at any moment, one be overwhelmed by too great a sorrow or crushed beneath too heavy a burden.

O glorious Saint Rita, thou who art familiar with suffering, powerful indeed are thy pleadings in the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, most cruelly scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the wood of the Cross, and pierced by the soldier’s lance! The Divine Bridegroom has given thee so wondrous a gift of intercession that countless souls have obtained, through thy prayers, favours that many would call impossible and miracles past all telling.

Compassionate Saint Rita, worthy daughter of Saint Augustine, even now, in the glory of heaven, thy heart burns with love for the crucified Jesus and for the weakest and most afflicted members of His Mystical Body. Be thou our advocate in the present distress. Speak boldly on behalf of the one whom we entrust to thy intercession, N. Take to heart this intention of ours and obtain for us the favour we ask of thee. Voices both earthly and infernal may deride our hope and scoff at our confidence, but we shall persevere in prayer, calling upon thee until thou showest us thy power.

Good Saint Rita, let it not be said that we turned to thee in our hour of need only to be sent away in bitterness and tears. Show again that Our Lord Jesus Christ, because of thy great love, hears thy prayers on behalf of those whom it is given thee to befriend. We promise, O good Saint Rita, if our petition is granted, to acclaim thee as a most powerful advocate of souls in the grip of dark and cruel forces. Confessing with all our hearts that to God nothing is impossible, we cast ourselves at thy feet and and abandon our petition to thy solicitude. Act thou quickly, we pray thee, on our behalf, that with thee we may glorify the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, with Him, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Ut sit et fortes quod cupiant et infirmi non refugiant (LXIV:1)

Let him so temper all things, that the strong may have something to strive after,
and the weak nothing at which to take alarm. (Chapter LXIV)

CHAPTER LXIV. Of the Appointment of the Abbot
21 Apr. 21 Aug. 21 Dec.
Let him that hath been appointed Abbot always bear in mind what a burden he hath received, and to Whom he will have to give an account of his stewardship; and let him know that it beseemeth him more to profit his brethren than to preside over them. He must, therefore, be learned in the Law of God, that he may know whence to bring forth new things and old: he must be chaste, sober, merciful, ever preferring mercy to justice, that he himself may obtain mercy. Let him hate sin, and love the brethren. And even in his corrections, let him act with prudence, and not go too far, lest while he seeketh too eagerly to scrape off the rust, the vessel be broken. Let him keep his own frailty ever before his eyes, and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken. And by this we do not mean that he should suffer vices to grow up; but that prudently and with charity he should cut them off, in the way he shall see best for each, as we have already said; and let him study rather to be loved than feared. Let him not be violent nor over anxious, not exacting nor obstinate, not jealous nor prone to suspicion, or else he will never be at rest. In all his commands, whether concerning spiritual or temporal matters, let him be prudent and considerate. In the works which he imposeth, let him be discreet and moderate, bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, when he said “If I cause my flocks to be overdriven, they will all perish in one day.” Taking, then, the testimonies, borne by these and the like words, to discretion, the mother of virtues, let him so temper all things, that the strong may have something to strive after, and the weak nothing at which to take alarm. And, especially, let him observe this present Rule in all things; so that, having faithfully fulfilled his stewardship, he may hear from the Lord what that good servant heard, who gave wheat to his fellow-servants in due season: “Amen, I say unto you, over all his goods shall he place him.”

I have long cherished the book Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselm, translated and annotated by Dr Benedicta Ward. The introduction alone is well worth the price of the book; I put it in the same category as Dom Jean Leclercq’s classic, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. On this feast of Saint Anselm, I call your attention to this book. If you would understand Benedictine piety in its purest and sweetest form, you will need to read the  Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselm.

Saint Anselm was born in 1033 in Aosta; three years after his mother’s death he entered the abbey of Notre Dame at Bec in Normandy, where, at the age of thirty, he replaced Lanfranc. Fifteen years later, in 1078, Anselm became abbot of Bec, and in 1093 he was named Archbishop of Canterbury, serving in this office until his death on 21 April 1109. The Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselm, together with his Proslogion, a meditation on faith and understanding (fides quaerens intellectum), all date from the time of Saint Anselm’s tenure as Prior of Bec. You would, I think, know the celebrated opening verses of the Prosologion:

I do desire to understand a little of your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I may believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more, I believe that unless I do believe I shall not understand.

Today, I want to present to you Saint Anselm’s prayer to Saint Benedict. There is another prayer of his to which I shall return at some later time: his prayer for an abbot. Both prayers are quintessentially monastic in their language, their form, and their theology. You will recognise in Saint Anselm’s prayers many of the themes that Saint Aelred would take up in his Pastoral Prayer written about more than a half century later.

Prayer to St Benedict

Holy and blessed Benedict,
the grace of heaven has made you rich
with such full blessing of goodness
not only in order to raise you to the glory you desire,
to the rest of the blessed, to a seat in heaven,
but that many others be drawn to that same blessedness,
wondering at your life,
stirred by your kind admonitions,
instructed by your gentle doctrine,
called on by your miracles.

Benedict, blessed of God,
whom God has blessed with such wide benediction,
to you I flee, in anguish of soul.
I fling myself down before you
with all the humility of mind possible;
I pour forth my prayer to you
with all the fervour possible;
and implore your help with all the desire possible;
for my need is too great; I cannot bear it.

For I profess to lead a life
of continual turning to God,
as I promised by taking the name and habit of a monk;
but my long life cries out against me
and my conscience convicts me,
as a liar to God, to angels, and to men.

Holy Father Benedict
hear what I ask of you;
and I beg you not to be scandalized
by so many faults and such deceit,
but hear what I acknowledge before you,
and have more pity on my sorrows than I deserve.

At least, peerless leader
among the great leaders of the army of Christ,
you have pledged me to serve under your leadership,
however feeble a soldier;
you have placed me under your tutorship,
however ignorant a pupil;
I have vowed to live according to your Rule,
however carnal a monk.
My perverse heart is dry and as cold as a stone
when it comes to deploring the sins I have committed;
but when it comes to resisting occasions of sin
it is indeed pliant and soon defiled.

My depraved mind is swift and untiring
to study what is useless and vile;
but even to think of what is for its good
makes it weary and stupid.

My blind and distorted soul is swift and prompt
to throw itself into vices and wallow in them,
but how slowly and with what difficulty
do I even call to mind the virtues.

It would take too long, dearest Father,
to recall each thing separately.
It would be too long a story to tell
of all the gluttony, sloth, inconstancy, impatience,
vainglory, detraction, disobedience,
and all the other sins which my wretched soul commits,
deriding me each day.

Sometimes my sins drag me here and there,
mocking at this wretched and tattered little man;
and at other times they come in a mob
and trample me underfoot in triumph,
and triumph that they can trample me underfoot.

See then, blessed Benedict,
how bravely fights this soldier
who is under your leadership;
see how much progress your pupil is making
in your school;
see what a marvellous monk this is,
dead to sin and the desires of the flesh,
fervent and living only for virtue!
No, you see rather a false monk, lost to all virtue,
dominated by a crowd of vices,
burdened with a weight of sin.

For shame! Shameless monk that I am!
How dare I call myself a soldier of Christ
and a disciple of St Benedict?
False to my profession,
how have I the effrontery to let people see me
with the tonsure and habit of profession
when I do not live the life?

Alas, ‘anguish closes me in on every side,’
for if I deny my sovereign king,
my good teacher and my profession,
it is death to me;
but if I profess myself a soldier, scholar, monk,
my life argues that I am a liar
and I am judged thereby.

‘Faint within me, my spirit; be appalled, my heart;
break forth and cry, O my soul.’
Jesus, good Lord,
‘consider my affliction and my trouble
and forgive me all my sins.’
‘Hear, 0 Lord, do not cast me off or forsake me’,
but ‘lead me and help me to do your will’,
so that my life may attest
what my heart and mouth confess so freely.
‘Hear the voice of my prayer, my King and my God,’
by the merits and intercession of holy Benedict,
your dear friend, my master, and my leader.

And you, my good leader, my gentle master,
my dear father, blessed Benedict –
I pray and beseech you,
by the mercy you have shown to others
and by the mercy that God has shown to you,
have compassion on me in my misery,
for I rejoice with you in your bliss.

Help me! I beg you to be my protector.
Dig me out from the mass of sin that buries me,
free me from the ropes of sin that bind me,
loose me from the wickedness that entangles me.

Lift up him who is cast down, strengthen the wavering,
prepare the helpless with spiritual weapons of virtue,
lead and protect him who is fighting in the battle.
Bring me to the victory and lead me to the crown.

Do this, advocate of monks, of that charity
which you were so anxious for us to take
as our rule of life.
Make it your care that we may be sufficiently willing
and effectively able to do whatever we ought;
so that both you, on account of our discipleship,
and we, on account of your leadership,
may glory before the face of God
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Neurosis, Mental Suffering . . . and Grace

Caryll Houselander (1901 – 1954) writes out of her own experience, and gets it right. Miss Houselander refers to the childhood experiences of Saint Stanilaus Kostka and Saint Thérèse.

My childhood experience of anxiety neurosis has conditioned my attitude towards psychological suffering during my whole subsequent life. I know the terrible reality of it, which I think that no one who has not experienced it can. The experience left me acutely aware of psychological suffering in other people, even when I was still a child, and it is largely my experience of these people and their suffering that has confirmed my faith in Christ in man, which in a sense is what the Catholic Church is. Also, combined with long study of this kind of suffering in others, my own experience has convinced me that the only real cure for it is the touch of God. Contact, resulting in union with God. I am not speaking of clearly pathological cases or cases of insanity, but of that mysterious torment which comes from within oneself, and which in spite of the vast mass of experimental psychiatric treatment that is being used today, still baffles the medical profession, and usually defeats it.

Many of the lives of the Saints strengthen this conviction. Again and again we read of Saints who suffered acute and critical psychological illness, who at one stage seemed doomed to become failures as human beings, incapable of happiness, incapable of living fully, yet who at the “touch of God” recovered completely, to live gloriously.

Everyone knows the story of the illness of St. Therese of Lisieux, which was cured by a smile from Our Lady, a smile which not only dispelled the terrors afflicting the child but changed her from a tortured, oversensitive, neurotic to a person of extraordinary emotional and mental balance. There is a parallel to her story in that of the little Polish boy who lived hundreds of years before her—St. Stanislaus Kostka, who was cured of a nervous breakdown when Our Lady appeared to him and put the Infant Christ into his arms. He recovered, to become one of the gayest and liveliest of Saints, rejoicing in all that is beautiful on earth as well as in Heaven, living to become the patron of youth, and to make himself beloved to youth for all time, by his joie de vivre. There are many other Saints too, who might have been neurotic instead of being saints but for a moment when God came to them, and their complete surrender to Him when He came.

Certainly everyone who is cured of a neurosis does not become a saint (I did not, as you will learn), though everyone could do so, if all surrendered to God as the Saints did. But all the evidence we have points to the fact that only God, brought to the tormented soul, somehow, by someone, can permanently cure psychological suffering, and then only if the will of the sufferer responds to God.

The “cure” is not, therefore, confined to the chosen few who receive direct visitations from Heaven; it is available to everyone. Certainly God can choose to come to any particular man in whatever way He wishes, and in the case of those who are deprived of the Blessed Sacrament for any reason—such as inculpable ignorance, or being in circumstances that put them out of the reach of a priest—He can, if He does wish to, come in extraordinary ways.

One thing, however, is certain; when He comes, He will always come in the way that the particular soul can most easily realise and most easily respond to, and which is least likely to be confused with the possibility of hallucination. The ordinary way—and how amazing that it is the ordinary way—is in the Blessed Sacrament; this is the way that even little children can realise, it is as simple to accept as the bread on the table, and it is the way that Christ Himself desires to come. That, surely, is one reason why He has given Himself to the Church, not only into the hands of Saints, but into the hands of all kinds of men, many of whom are sinners.

On the night before He died, when He instituted the Blessed Sacrament, He gave Himself for all time into the hands of Peter—and into the hands of Judas. A further reason why this way, the way of Communion with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, is of such great value to those who are tortured by psychological suffering, is because it necessarily involves other human beings; someone must bring Christ to the sufferer, someone must give Christ to him. There are other ways, too, by which Christ has made Himself man’s gift to man; the Mystical Body is planned for that. But this way, through sacramental communion and the Sacred Host, is at the heart of the mystery of God’s love, and from it flows every other communion and Christ-giving between men.

It is because the psychological sufferer is always cut off, isolated by his self-torment, from his fellow creatures, that this is so valuable to him. God must be brought to him by another man; only God can reach that centre of his soul that must be touched if he is to be made whole, but God chooses to come to him in Communion only if he will receive Him from the hands of a fellow man. I have spoken of the “cures” of the Saints, because in them we can see what happens when the sufferer surrenders self to God wholly and immediately: the cure too is immediate—complete and lasting. Ordinary’ people who are not saints rarely surrender themselves so completely. It is likely to be a more gradual process; it may be only after many Communions that they will even begin to know God as He really is, well enough to dare to abandon themselves to and for Him. (Caryll Houselander, A Rocking Horse Catholic, 1955, Sheed & Ward, New York)

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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