The Pattern of Our Life
Saint Paul says to the Thessalonians: “We gave you a pattern of how you ought to live so as to please God; live by that pattern, and make more of it than ever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1) As for us, we find the pattern of how we are to live so as to please God in the Rule of Saint Benedict and in the Sacred Host for, as Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration, we are called to the imitation of what we discover in contemplating the Son of God in the Sacrament of His Love.
To Become What We Contemplate
The Sacred Host presents to our gaze all that Saint Benedict describes in the heart of the Holy Rule, Chapter VII, On the Degrees of Humility. We are not just Benedictines; we are, by a wonderful and utterly gratuitous gift of God, Eucharistic Benedictines, that is, men called not only to tarry in adoration and reparation before the Sacred Host, but also men called to become like the Sacred Host, to become what we contemplate, to imitate what He shows us of Himself, hidden beneath the sacramental veils. The Host is fragile; so are we. The Host is disarmingly humble; so would we be. The Host is the living icon of the poverty of God made man; so we would become poor with Him. The Host is silent; so do we find ourselves cherishing silence over words. The Host is the sacrament of the Divine Hiddenness; so too must we choose hiddenness over ostentation, and obscurity over acclaim. The Host is obedient, remaining where it is placed, not moving of Itself or by Itself, but waiting to be moved; and that is, I think, the very pattern of how we ought to live so as to please God. “Live by that pattern,” says Saint Paul, “and make more of it than ever” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
Like the Host
My personal preference would be to retreat into an utterly hidden existence, to imitate the life of the Sacred Host hidden away in the tabernacle. Withdrawn from the tabernacle, the Sacred Host disappears into the mouth of the communicant and, being absorbed into the communicant’s body, absorbs the communicant into the life of the Three Divine Persons, where the Son ceaselessly offers Himself, in love, to the Father. The Host, while disappearing, is divinely active, bringing about a transforming union with Christ the Head and with the members of His Body, the Church. The monk too is called to disappear and, paradoxically, it is in disappearing that the monk becomes most efficacious and fruitful. Was this not the great discovery of Saint Thérèse? “Yes,” she writes, “I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized.”
The Monastic Tension
I am not the first nor will I be the last monk to feel torn between remaining silent and speaking, between disappearing and appearing. I would not, for minute, want to compare myself in any way to Saint Gregory the Great, or to Saint Bernard, or to Blessed Columba Marmion, all of whom suffered the tension of feeling pulled into silence and out of it, into the enclosure of the monastery and out of it. Monks are not, by vocation, preachers, and yet some monks have always preached. Monks are not, by vocation, writers, and yet some monks have always written, and written well and much. Monks are not, by vocation, missionaries, and yet some monks have always carried the pure light of the Gospel into places of darkness.
Over the past few days, I have listened to my community and to our friends; we have discussed the extreme precariousness of our foundation. People whom I trust are urging me to make appeals, to seek out benefactors, to accept invitations to preach, to speak about our urgent need and to write about it. It is a question of survival. What am I going to do? We are preparing the second issue of our newsletter; it will feature an appeal for support. I am going to work at making Silverstream Priory known; I am going to ask for help wherever and whenever possible.
We do not yet own Silverstream Priory nor any of the surrounding land. While our community is established canonically here in the Diocese of Meath, we cannot yet call Silverstream our own, nor can we administer it freely, and develop it. Until we have purchased Silverstream’s buildings and property, there remains an element of risk in what we are doing. The men who have joined our monastery are conscious of the risk involved and, in the face of the risk, have laid their lives on the line.
At this stage of our development, we are still too few to undertake a remunerative cottage industry. Our first and most important commitment of time and energy belongs to the Work of God, the Divine Office chanted in choir eight times daily; to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated with dignity, reverence, and beauty; and to daily prolonged adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Second in order of our priorities is the human, intellectual, and spiritual formation of our novices; this requires a significant investment of our limited human resources. Third is our distinctive work of hospitality to priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord; our retreat house is a place of spiritual respite for them. Fourth in order of our priorities are the apostolates of our book shop, The Gatehouse; of the two confraternities we have established to foster prayer; and of our writing, editing, and future publications. Alongside these four priorities, we continue limited renovations and improvements, assure the good order and cleanliness of the house and all it contains, the maintenance of the property, and the preparation of meals.
The Ticking Clock
As we go about our daily rhythm of prayer and work, the ticking clock reminds us that we have outstanding debts and that, so far, we have nothing to put toward the purchase of Silverstream. There is an annual 12.5% increase to the agreed sale price. (We have been here two years; therefore the price has increased 25%.)
A Worthy Investment
Stability is fundamental to Benedictine life. One enters a monastery to take root there and to remain there like the grain of wheat that Our Lord speaks of in the Fourth Gospel: “Believe me when I tell you this; a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else it remains nothing more than a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it yields rich fruit” (John 12:24–25). Stability is the one essential element of Benedictine life that, at the moment, Silverstream Priory cannot offer. We need to purchase Silverstream. For us and for you, it is a worthy investment. Please help!
Help Us Now
There are several ways you can help us financially.
To help our friends and benefactors in the United States, we have established The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle Foundation (a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Oklahoma). Our American friends can send a cheque, made payable to “The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle Foundation”, to the following address:
The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle Foundation
20315 South Hwy 75
Mounds, OK 74047
For our friends in Ireland, the UK, and the European Union, we prefer bank transfers (as our bank exacts a large fee for cashing cheques). Our bank information is as follows:
Bank of Ireland
IBAN: IE02 BOFI 9035 4196 4472 87
Alternatively, you can also send a cheque, payable to “Silverstream Priory”, and post it to the following address:
Finally, you can send us a secure donation online through Paypal (click here to set up your donation)
For large gifts, gifts of stocks or bonds, and planned gifts (such as including our name in your will or in your trust, or naming us as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement plan), please contact me directly.
Our Charity Status
For benefactors in the Republic of Ireland and the European Union: We are a limited liability company registered in Dublin, Ireland (CRO number 513644; Registered Charity CHY20303; Registered Office, Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath).
For American benefactors, we have established The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle Foundation, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Oklahoma. The Foundation is starting the process of becoming a tax exempt entity (501c3) for purposes of the Internal Revenue Service. Once the Foundation’s application to the IRS is approved, the IRS’ determination of tax exempt status should apply retroactively (back to the time of the Foundation’s organization under Oklahoma law—prior to the time of this donation).