Monastic: September 2007 Archives

And the Virgin's Name Was Mary

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The Most Holy Name of Mary

Sirach 24:17–21
Luke 1:46–48, 49–50, 53–54

Victory in the Name of Mary

In 1683 Pope Innocent XI extended the existing Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary to the universal Church to thank Our Lady for the victory of John Sobieski, king of Poland, over the forces of militant Islam. On September 11th, 1683, Muslim Turks attacked Vienna, threatening the Christian West. The next day, Sobieski, invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary and placing his forces under her protection, emerged victorious.

A Feast Restored to the Roman Missal

In the culture of the Middle East one thinks more readily in terms of centuries than in terms of years. It would seem that Osama Bin Ladin chose September 11th for the attack on the United States in memory of that attack on the West on September 11th, 1683. Symbolic dates are important. Pope John Paul II restored the feast of the Holy Name of Mary with the publication of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in 2002, one year after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The Invocation of the Name of Mary

The Holy Mother of God is no stranger to the struggles of her children in this valley of tears. She is attentive to every situation that threatens this world of ours, to every assault against the Church and, when we invoke her Holy Name, she is quick to intervene. When it comes to calling upon the Name of Mary, there is no struggle too global and too enormous, and no struggle too personal or too little. In the Bible, the name wields a mysterious power. Names are not to be pronounced casually or lightly. Names are not to be taken in vain. The invocation of the name renders present the one who is named. So often as you pronounce the sweet Name of Mary with devotion and confidence, Mary is present to you, ready to help. So often as you pronounce the sweet Name of Mary, you have her full and undivided attention.

As Oil Poured Out

The saints, drawing on a verse from the Song of Songs, compare the Name of Mary to a healing oil. “Thy Name is as oil poured out” (Ct 1:2). Oil heals the sick, gives off a sweet fragrance, and nourishes fire. In the same way the Name of Mary is like a balm on the wounds of the soul; there is no disease of the soul, however malignant, that does not yield to the power of the Name of Mary. The sound of Mary’s Name causes joy to spring up; the repetition of Mary’s Name warms the heart. If you would touch the Heart of the Father, pronounce the Name of Jesus; if you would touch the Heart of Jesus, pronounce the Name of Mary.


Monday of the Twenty-Third Week of the Year I
Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Good Counsel

Colossians 1:24–2:3
Psalm 61:5-6, (R. 7a)
Luke 6:6-11

Warning and Teaching

After listening to the teachings of the Holy Father over the past three days, it occurred to me that what Saint Paul says concerning himself in today’s First Reading applies also, by the grace of God, to Pope Benedict XVI:

“We proclaim Christ in you, the hope of glory,
warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man mature in Christ.
For this I toil,
striving with all the energy
which he mightily inspires within me” (Col 1:28-29).

To Present Every Man Mature in Christ

For the past three days the Holy Father has given himself tirelessly to an intense proclamation of Christ, the Hope of Glory. He called upon all Catholics, and not just those of Austria, to fix their gaze upon the Face of Christ and upon His open Heart. He warned every man. He taught every man in all wisdom. His teaching addressed all the members of the Church: bishops, priests, deacons, religious, monks, nuns, and lay faithful. His desire was none other than that of the Apostle: to present every man mature in Christ.

The Thoughts of God’s Spirit

Like those who watched Jesus teaching in the synagogue, there were those who watched the Holy Father “so that they might find an accusation against him” (Lk 6:7). The secular media, largely hostile to all things Catholic, cannot be trusted to provide objective coverage of the Holy Father. In First Corinthians Saint Paul says: “Mere man with his natural gifts cannot take in the thoughts of God’s Spirit; they seem mere folly to him, and he cannot grasp them, because they demand a scrutiny which is spiritual. Whereas the man who has spiritual gifts can scrutinize everything, without being subject himself, to any other man’s scrutiny” (1 Cor:15-16).

Yesterday evening, the Holy Father closed his apostolic journey with a visit to the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz. There he pronounced a discourse that was nothing less than his Charter for Monastic Life in the Third Millennium. Pope Benedict XVI addresses point by point the substance of Benedictine life for this generation and for all generations to come. It is a text that one needs to read on bended knee with profound humility and docility.

At the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B., September 4, 5, and 6 will be marked by a triduum of Votive Masses in honour of the Holy Spirit.


The triduum is being celebrated in supplication for the forthcoming General Chapter of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, which will be held in Brou-sur-Chantereine, France from September 19th until October 2nd.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
Psalm 26: 1-4, 13-14
Luke 4:31-37

Come, Holy Spirit

We begin today a triduum of Votive Masses in honour of the Holy Spirit in supplication for the forthcoming General Chapter of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, which will be held in France from September 19th to October 2nd. In a certain sense, a General Chapter must have the same characteristics as the apostolic assembly that preceded the first Pentecost in the Cenacle. What exactly are these? From the description given us by Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles 1:13-14, we can learn quite a lot.

In the Light of the Eucharistic Face of Christ

The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles went into retreat in the Cenacle immediately following the Ascension of the Lord from Mount Olivet. Each one carried in his heart the memory of that last glimpse of the Face of Jesus, and each one longed to see His Face again. In the time that stretches from the Ascension to the return of Our Lord in glory, His Face is turned toward us in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that our gaze meets His. The Eucharist celebrated, adored, and contemplated must be at the heart of the General Chapter, just as it must be at the heart of our life from day to day.

Under the Leadership of Peter

The second characteristic is a reference to the unique mission of Peter in the Apostolic College. Saint Peter is named first in the list of those who went into the Cenacle. The successor of Saint Peter is the Pope, the bishop of Rome. If we consider the example of the saints through the ages, we see that the most accurate measure of one’s attachment to the Church, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, is the degree of one’s attachment to the Holy Father. Saint Catherine of Siena referred to the Pope as her “sweet Christ on earth.”

Hans Urs von Balthasar warned prophetically of the critical danger of the “anti-Roman complex.” The core of the Protestant heresy was and remains the assertion of the individual’s perception of truth over the “Splendour of Truth” taught and defended by the Successor of Saint Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. The individual Protestant persists in saying, “I know, I choose, I prefer, and I believe,” over and above what Christ teaches and defines through the mouth of Peter. The Protestant body or sect does the same thing; it is a group of individuals who persist in saying, “We know, we choose, we prefer, and we believe,” over and against what Christ teaches and defines through the mouth of Peter.

When Blessed John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, he composed a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit; in that prayer he affirmed that a second Pentecost could take place only “under the leadership of Peter.” We must be wary of a certain kind of creeping Protestantism that sets parts of the body against the whole; it causes certain members of the Body to resist the direction given by the Head. Positively, we must renew the vow of obedience in all its ecclesial implications. History demonstrates that religious institutes flourish in proportion to their attachment to the See of Peter; they decline in proportion to the degree to which they are infected with the “anti-Roman complex.”

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory