New Year’s Eve in Review

Madonna, Benozzo GozzoliFirst Vespers

Here at Silverstream Priory, we had a very beautiful New Year’s Eve. We chanted Vespers somewhat earlier than usual, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Who can express the theological and mystical resonance of the antiphons of today’s Office? They must be experienced: chanted, heard, and savoured against the palate of the soul.  The first antiphon, with its luminous sixth mode melody, is, I think, the most memorable of the series:

O wondrous exchange!
The Creator of mankind, having assumed a living body,
deigned to be born of a Virgin,
and having become man without man’s aid,
enriched us with His divinity.

Matins

At 7:00 p.m. we returned to choir for Matins (Vigils, if you will) — the longest of the monastic Offices. “O Lord, open Thou my lips. And my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.” The three nocturns unfolded the mystery before the eyes of our souls. Matins culminates in the chanting of the Te Deum Laudamus and the Holy Gospel: Christ in the midst of His Church, radiating the deifying light of His grace. In the Benedictine tradition the community sing Amen at the end of the Gospel and then unite in chanting a very ancient short hymn in praise of the Most Holy Trinity, the Te Decet Laus.

Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament
and Renewal of Vows

At the end of Matins, the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the monstrance and, in the brightness of Our Lord’s Eucharistic Face, Dom Benedict and I renewed the vows of our monastic profession and our consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I, brother N., humbly prostrate at the feet of my adorable Saviour Jesus Christ, whom I believe to be really present in the divine Eucharist, vow and promise anew to keep my whole life long stability, conversion, and obedience under the Rule of our glorious father Saint Benedict, and to maintain with all diligence the worship and Perpetual Adoration of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, as a victim immolated to Its glory, in reparation for the impieties committed against this august mystery, according to the Constitutions of this monastery, approved by the Bishop of Meath.

At the same time I entrust myself with filial confidence to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sovereign Lady and Abbess of this monastery, placing myself under her royal protection, and consecrating myself to her Immaculate and Maternal Heart.

Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam;
et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.

Receive me, O Lord, according to Thy word, and I shall live:
and let me not be confounded in my expectation. (Psalm 118:116)

There followed silent adoration of Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love until midnight.  At the stroke of midnight, conscious that we were entering into the Mectildian Jubilee Year, we prayed the prayer for this very occasion composed by Mother Mectilde du Saint–Sacrement in the 17th century:

Mother Mectilde’s Prayer

O Jesus, my adorable Saviour,
who didst consecrate the first moment of Thy life to doing the will of Thy Father (cf. Hebrews 10:5–9),
bearing within Thy Heart the summons to the sacrifice
in which Thou art a Victim offered to His glory,
we come to prostrate ourselves humbly at the foot of the throne of Thy grandeurs,
to adore the first instant of Thy mortal life
and the state of abasement to which Thou hast reduced Thyself (cf. Philippians 2:6–8)
for the glory of Thy Divine Father and for the salvation of men.

O most lovable Jesus,
in honour of and in union with Thy holy dispositions,
we adore Thee, we love Thee, and we glorify Thee as our God and our Saviour,
who hast redeemed us at the price of Thy precious Blood (Te Deum Laudamus).
We offer and consecrate to Thee all the moments of our life,
begging Thee to grant us the grace of using them for Thee alone.
May all the desires and movements of our hearts,
all our thoughts, our words, and our actions during this year and throughout our life
be so many acts of love, of adoration, and of praise,
by which we will honour Thee as much as possible.

We offer Thee also all the glory and the praise which we will be given Thee
in the course of this year and forever by all Thy creatures.
We adore Thy judgments and the designs Thou hast on us (cf. Romans 11:33–36);
we submit ourselves in all things to Thy Divine Will;
we accept and embrace, for love of Thee, all the afflictions of body and of spirit
that we will have to suffer during this life,
and particularly this year,
which could well be the last one remaining for us to live.
We shall consider it as such and, in these dispositions,
we shall make use of it to repair the years already past.
Give us the grace and the help we need,
according to the designs of Thy mercy upon us.
Bless Thou all our being and its operations;enliven us with Thy Spirit
so that we may consume all our life for Thee,
even as Thou didst consume Thine own life
for the glory of Thy Divine Father. Amen.

O most pure Virgin, Mother of my Saviour and my God,
we honour and revere thee as much as is possible for us,
and all the holy dispositions of thy soul,
from the first instant of thy life,
at which thou didst begin to love and glorify God
in the most perfect manner.
O Mother of goodness and mercy,
make up for whatsoever is found wanting in us
in our relations with thy Divine Son,
and obtain for us from Him
the grace necessary to live uniquely for Him alone
in imitating thy purity, thy humility, and thy spirit of sacrifice,
so that, being deemed thy sons,
we may be with thee a single victim immolated with Jesus Christ
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Invoking the Holy Ghost for the New Year

In conclusion we sang the Church’s great invocation of the Holy Ghost, the Veni Creator Spiritus, to call down the power and sweetness of the Divine Paraclete on the new year. Then, after blessing those present with the Most Blessed Sacrament, I reposed the Sacred Host. A cup of hot mulled wine followed and, then, to bed. Such was New Year’s Eve 2013–2014 at Silverstream Priory.

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