Category Archives: Saints

My Mercy is honoured in thy infirmity

1001Therese at 22.jpg“Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that He had said these things to her.” (John 20:18)

Women Apostles
I am thinking, after having sung the beautiful First Vespers of Saint Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, of four women raised up by the Spirit of God in the course of the last century to deliver a message to the Church. Each one prophesied the mystery of the Divine Mercy in her own language, using her own vocabulary, images, and unique feminine sensibility.

Two were French: Thérèse and Yvonne-Aimée; one was Spanish: Josefa Menendez; and one was Polish: Maria Faustina Kowalska. Two were humble laysisters charged with the lowliest tasks in their convents, all the while receiving the secrets of Heaven: Josefa and Faustina. One, Thérèse, was a young Carmelite hidden away in her cloister, and dreaming of doing great deeds for France (like Jeanne d’Arc), for missionaries, and for the salvation of sinners. And one, Yvonne-Aimée, was a heroine of the French resistance during World War II, a spiritual mother to priests, a divinely-inspired risk-taker for love for her Jesus, and a bold and prudent renovator of religious life.

Sr Josefa Menendez (1890-1923).jpgOur Lord to Sister Josefa Menendez (1890-1923)

“I am He Who forgives thee thy sins, Who wipes out thy offences, and Who sustains thy weakness! The greater is thy nothingness, the more My power upholds thee: I will enrich thee with My gifts, and if thou art faithful I will take sanctuary in thy heart and fly to it when sinners repudiate Me. I will rest in thee, and thou shalt have life in Me.”

“If thou art an abyss of wretchedness, I am an abyss of sweetness and of mercy. My Heart is thy refuge, come there to seek all thou has need of; even such things aas I require at thy hands.”

“Instead of looking at thy nullity, look at the power of My Heart that upholds thee and have no fear. I am thy strength and shall heal thy wounds.”

“What canst thou fear from Me? Never question My love for thee, or the clemency of My Heart. Thy misery draws me to thee . . . without Me what art thou? Never forget that I am all the closer to thee, in proportion to thy lowliness.”

“Never grieve overmuch at thy falls –cannot I make a saint of thee? I will seek thee out in thy nothingness to unite Myself to thee, only never refuse Me anything.”

“The void and misery in thee are as magnets that attract My love to thee. Yield not to discouragement, for my Mercy is honoured in thy infirmity.”

1005Faustina 2.jpgSaint Faustina Before the Blessed Sacrament
In her quest for Divine Mercy for herself, for poor sinners, for priests, for the dying, and for the whole world, Saint Faustina knew where to go. She was drawn to the tabernacle: the dwelling and fountainhead of Divine Mercy.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the infinite price of mercy which will compensate for all our debts, and especially those of poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fountain of living water which springs from infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fire of purest love which blazes forth from the bosom of the Eternal Father, as from an abyss of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the medicine for all our infirmities, flowing from infinite mercy, as from a fount, for us and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the union between God and us through His infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom are contained all the sentiments of the most sweet Heart of Jesus toward us, and especially poor sinners.

Saint Faustina’s Aspirations to the Most Blessed Sacrament

Surrendering to Mercy
Thérèse was inspired to make her Oblation to Merciful Love on Sunday, June 9, 1895:

“In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.”

To Josefa, Our Lord said, “Believe in My love and in My mercy.” Faustina has taught the world to say, “Jesus, I trust in Thee.” And Yvonne-Aimée’s miraculous little invocation has changed the lives of thousands: “O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in Thy merciful goodness.”
No Limitations to Trust in My Mercy

“I feel somehow that the time is at hand when Your Infinite Mercy will come to our aid.” Yvonne-Aimée after a Gestapo search during World War II

“Do you know?” Jesus said to me, “that there are souls that don’t dare to think of Me as their best Friend and don’t realize that My Heart is always waiting to receive them . . . I am pure Love and I find my happiness in knowing them close to Me and giving them My Love in full measure. . . . They should approach Me with humility and respect, but I also want them to think of Me as their Father and feel at ease with Me. Affection and childlike trust are what they need to talk to God and it saddens Me to see them come to Me almost suspiciously, in fear and trembling, when all I want is their love.”

“My Mercy is infinite,” Jesus said; “all souls can reach My Divine Heart and rise to whatever heights they wish within that Heart. I make no distinction between the innocent and the guilty — the more they love Me, the dearer they are to Me. No soul will ever find limitations to its trust in My Mercy, for I want that trust to go on growing for ever . . .” Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s Diary — 1922

Monsieur Vincent et Mère Mectilde

When Saints Help Saints
I have long believed that saints, like the fruit of the vine, grow in clusters. The history of the saints in every age bears this out. Saint Vincent de Paul was no exception. He was in relation with a myriad of other holy souls of France’s Grand Siècle, the age of what Henri Brémond called her “mystical invasion.”

Saint Vincent de Paul
The ravages of The Thirty Years War in Mother Mectilde’s native Lorraine stirred Saint Vincent de Paul to an active compassion. As soon as Monsieur Vincent was informed of the woes that we desolating the Lorraine, he moved quickly to collect offerings everywhere. He sent to this unfortunate country twelve of his missionaries to whom he joined some brothers of his Congregation, who had secrets to treat the plague and knew medicine and surgery. Thus did Saint Vincent’s Congregation of the Mission bring relief to those distressed by the war, those turned out of their homes and reduced to a miserable poverty.

Homeless Benedictines
In 1639 Mother Mectilde and her Benedictines were among the many refugees of the War in wandering from place to place in search of a home. One of Saint Vincent’s priests, a certain Julien Guérin, sought to arrange for hospitality at the Abbey of Montmartre in Paris. The Lady Abbess of Montmartre refused to receive the homeless Benedictines professed to the same Rule as herself and the nuns of her great abbey; she argued that the admission of strangers into religious houses caused disorder, and that it was better to refuse the nuns hospitality than to have to turn them out later for unsuitable conduct.

Pilgrimage to Benoîte-Vaux
Mother Mectilde was saddened but undaunted. Five leagues away from Saint-Mihiel, towards the city of Verdun, a little to the left of the course of the Meuse, there was valley made famous by the miraculous revelation of a statue of the Blessed Virgin to a group of lumberjacks, and by the manifestation of Angels singing Ave Maria. (Interesting detail: Had Mother Mectilde followed the Meuse north, she would have arrived in Tegelen in The Netherlands where her daughters have a monastery to this day.) The sanctuary built on the spot was a place of pilgrimage. Mother Mectilde, together with two other nuns, set out on foot for the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Benoîte-Vaux on 1 August 1641. Upon arrival there, they entrusted their written petition to a Premonstratensian in attendance, who placed it on the altar. Prostrate at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, Mother Mectilde and her companions spent the whole night imploring her protection and assistance. They heard Holy Mass and received Holy Communion at 4:00 in the morning on the second day of August; it was the feast of Our Lady of the Angels. With all possible fervour they recommended their sorry plight again to the Mother of God.

To Paris
When they returned to Saint-Mihiel, it was obvious to all who saw Mother Mectilde and her two companions that they had received extraordinary graces; they seemed transfigured. Much later, Mother Mectilde let slip a few words that intimated that, in the sanctuary of Benoîte-Vaux, Our Lady revealed to her God’s designs on her life. A few days later, a commissary of Monsieur Vincent, named Mathieu Renard, asked to see the prioress and, with no preliminaries, said, “I have come, Mother, to take two of your religious to Montmartre, I have orders to do this, and Madame the Duchess of Aiguillon has provided me with money for the journey.” What happened at Montmartre that caused the Abbess to have so complete a change of heart? On the very night that Mother Mectilde and her companions were praying at the sanctuary of Benoîte-Vaux, the Lady Abbess of Montmartre woke up all of a sudden and summoned the two religious who slept in her bedchamber to look after her in illness. The Abbess was in a dreadful state of fright. She said that it seemed to her that she saw the Most Holy Virgin and her Divine Son reproaching her for her lack of hospitality to the poor homeless Benedictines in the Lorraine; they threatened her with a rigourous judgment should they, through her fault, perish in their misery and need. The next day the Abbess convened her senior religious; all agreed that they had to execute the manifest will of God.

Paris, Saint Louise de Marillac and Saint Vincent de Paul
Mother Mectilde and Mother Louise were chosen to go to Montmartre. They began their journey on 21 August and arrived in Paris on August 28, 1642. Matthieu Renard led them to the home of Mademoiselle Legras (Saint Louise de Marillac) in the Faubourg Saint Martin. Saint Louise de Marillac received the homeless Benedictines with an exquisite charity. The next morning, Mother Mectilde and her companions were presented to Saint Vincent de Paul. The very same day the doors of the grand Abbey of Montmartre opened to welcome them. Once the Lady Abbess had met Mother Mectilde, she wanted nothing more than to keep her at the Abbey of Montmartre.

Towards a New Beginning
It was in uncertainty and poverty that Mother Mectilde de Bar arrived in Paris. After vicissitudes too many to be counted, it was in Paris that Mectilde de Bar laid the foundations of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament.

Our Own Need
Six years ago, my own little Benedictine community was searching for a permanent home to allow our vocation of Eucharistic adoration and intercession for priests to grow and flourish. We entrusted our need and our search to Saint Vincent de Paul. He who helped Mectilde de Bar was not indifferent to our plight. He guided us all the way to Silverstream in County Meath. For this, I want, today, to give public thanks to Saint Vincent.

Supplica to Saint Vincent de Paul

Thank You to Saint Vincent de Paul
A Supplica is a prayer of supplication composed according to a certain literary genre that remains popular in Italy to this day. The most famous of these prayers would be the Supplica to the Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompei composed by Blessed Bartolo Longo. Nearly every parish or chapel in southern Italy has a Supplica to its patron saint recited by all the people in unison on the saint’s feast. On 19 July 2011 I was inspired to write a Supplica to Saint Vincent de Paul. I asked his intercession for my monastery, trusting that he would find us a suitable permanent home. He did. Thank you, Saint Vincent de Paul. Here, then, is the Supplica to Saint Vincent that I wrote and first prayed six years ago today.

O glorious Saint Vincent de Paul,
priest of Jesus Christ,
servant of the poor,
consoler of the sorrowful,
father of orphans,
providence of the homeless,
giver of alms to the destitute,
enlightened guide of souls,
compassionate visitor of the imprisoned,
attentive nurse of the sick,
comfort of the dying,
zealous teacher of the clergy,
who can describe the innumerable works of thy charity,
and who can measure the hospitality of thy heart?

The weak and the infirm,
the wounded and the needy,
the unloved and the shamed
all find a place in the folds of thy great protecting mantle.
Never did one of Christ’s poor turn to thee in distress
without receiving from thee the alms of thy mercy
for soul and body.

O thou, Apostle of Charity,
O thou, Image of Jesus Christ,
thou in whom the Heart of Christ burns
with an inextinguishable fire,
look upon us in our present need.
Consider that we too are poor, weak, and without earthly resources.
We cast ourselves upon the infinite mercy of Divine Providence,
and place our trust in thy pleading on our behalf.

We know that thou wilt obtain for us
an answer to our prayer,
a solution to our pressing plight
and, above all else,
the grace of entire abandonment to the adorable Will of God,
outside of which we desire nothing.

Novena 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.

Saint Henry

Henricus+en+CunegundaPatron of Benedictine Oblates
Benedictine Oblates living and working in the world have two holy patrons: Saint Francesca of Rome whom we celebrated in March, and today’s Saint Henry, Emperor.

Holy Kings
Saint Henry, whom we keep today, on July 13th, is the first of a series of holy kings who begin to make their appearance in the calendar of the Time after Pentecost, precisely when, at Matins, we begin reading the story of Solomon, Israel’s wise and glorious King, the builder of the Temple.

On August 25th we shall celebrate King Saint Louis of France; on September 28th, the Martyr King Saint Wenceslaus; on October 13th, King Saint Edward; and on October 21st, Blessed Karl of Austria. (King Saint Canute of Denmark, following the Three Kings, comes after the Epiphany on January 13th.) What do all these kings in the Kingdom of Heaven have in common? With the exception of Saint Wenceslaus and Saint Canute who, as martyrs, are honoured with the Mass In Virtute, from the Common of Martyrs, they all have the Mass Os Iusti, from the Common of Confessors.

An Authentic Spiritual Portrait
The first place to look for an authentic spiritual portrait of any saint is in the liturgical texts appointed for his feastday. From the Mass Os Iusti, we learn that Saint Henry meditated the revelation of Divine Wisdom, he spoke rightly, and held the Word of God ever in his heart (Introit, Psalm 36:30–31). He was not obsessed with the accumulation of wealth; he used his goods to distribute alms to the poor (Epistle, Ecclesiasticus 31:8–11); he flourished like the palm tree with its thousands of luxuriant blossoms (Gradual, Psalm 91:13–14). (A single palm tree bears multiple clusters of flowers; each cluster contains as many as 10,000 flowers.) He stood fast in the face of temptation (Alleluia, James 1:12) and relied on the truth and mercy of God when confronted with the lies and hardheartedness of men (Offertory, Psalm 88:25). Finally, when the Lord came for his good earthly king, he found him keeping watch; in the kingdom of heaven, he has placed him over all his goods (Communion, Matthew 14:46–47).

Keeping Watch
One of the things related about Saint Henry is that, on arriving in any town, he would spend his entire first night there in a vigil of prayer in a church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. When he arrived in Rome in 1014, he spent the night in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome’s Bethlehem. While keeping vigil, he saw the “Sovereign and Eternal Priest-Child Jesus” enter to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. Saints Lawrence and Vincent assisted Our Lord as deacons. A throng of saints filled the basilica; Angels chanted in choir. It is noteworthy that in Henry’s vision Christ the Priest is a Child. One wonders if he was not keeping vigil before the altar of the Crib of the Infant Jesus in Saint Mary Major, a place of grace for countess souls through the ages.

Touched by the Book of the Gospels
Henry’s vision is very much like those of Saint Gertrude the Great: a pulling back of the veil, a glimpse of “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” (1 Corinthians 2:9). After the Gospel, an Angel bearing the book of the Gospels was sent to Henry by the Mother of God. Normally, one kisses the book of the Gospels. Instead the Angel touched Saint Henry’s thigh with it, saying, “Accept this sign of God’s love for your chastity and justice.” From that moment on, Henry limped like Jacob after his night vigil spent wrestling with the angel (cf. Genesis 32:24-25). How fascinating — and how consistent with God’s dealings with men — that a mark of weakness should be the sign of a special grace!

The Oblate Emperor
Henry was crowned Emperor in Saint Peter’s Basilica by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014. Henry cherished Benedictine life, spending time in monasteries whenever he could. His greatest joy was to occupy a stall in choir and join the monks in singing the Divine Office. Henry founded monasteries throughout the Empire and endowed them liberally. While detained at Monte Cassino by illness, he was miraculously cured through the intercession of Saint Benedict. Saint Henry’s feast, falling within the Octave of Saint Benedict, is a reminder of the special bond that united him with our glorious Patriarch. Saint Henry became an oblate of the Abbey of Cluny and then asked to make profession as monk at the Abbey of Saint-Vanne. The abbot received him as a monk, and then ordered him, in the name of obedience, to take his place again on the imperial throne.

Set Your Mind on Things That Are Above
Living in virginity with his wife Saint Cunegonda, Saint Henry preserved the heart of a monk. Limping through life, because of his thigh touched by the Angel bearing the Book of the Gospels, Saint Henry represents every man who, while living in the world, is not entirely at home in it. “Set your minds on things that are above,” says the Apostle, “not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:3).

In what way was Saint Henry a monk in the midst of the world? He understood that his basic task as a Christian was to seek the Face of Christ. The Face of the Child Christ was shown him in that mysterious dream by night in Saint Mary Major. The Child Christ he saw was also the High Priest ascending the altar for the Holy Sacrifice. As an Oblate, Saint Henry surely knew that, in every Mass, his place was on the corporal, close by the bread and the chalice. The Child-Priest, in raising the paten and the chalice heavenward was lifting up Henry’s life, making it an oblation to the Father. He will do the same for us today. We have only to seek His Face and abandon ourselves into His hands.

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

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