Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle: October 2009 Archives


This magnificent Face of Christ is a detail of the 12th century ivory crucifix of Canosa di Puglia, Italy. Of Byzantine origin, the crucifix is masterpiece of extraordinary beauty and theological significance. It presents the Cross, not as the gibbet, but rather as the royal throne of Love Crucified. The kingship of Christ shines through the Face marked by suffering and, yet, radiant. The eyes are closed, but the effect is one of majesty. The hair and beard are depicted with great attention. The halo bears the sign of the Cross.

Our little Benedictine monastery has a special "vocation within a vocation" to keep watch before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus and to console His priestly Heart. Every Thursday calls us to the Cenacle where Jesus, Priest and Victim, offered Himself to the Father and consecrated His Apostles into the mystery of His own victimal priesthood. We prolong our hours of adoration of Thursday by replacing one another before the altar where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the monstrance.

O my beloved Jesus,
I adore Thee and confess Thee truly present here before my eyes
in this, the Sacrament of Thy Love.
Let me adore Thee for those of Thy priests who do not adore Thee.
Let me believe in Thy real presence for those whose faith has grown weak.
Let me love Thee for those priests of Thine whose hearts have grown cold towards Thee in this Sacrament.
And let me hope in Thee for those whose lives are dark with hopelessness.

Turn upon them all, O Jesus, the light of Thy Eucharistic Face.
Let not a single priest of Thine remain in the outer darkness
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Send to them Thy holy Angels to guide their steps to Thy sanctuaries
and to lead them to the foot of Thy tabernacles,
where Thou waitest for them,
ready to heal them,
to cleanse them of their sins,
and to grace them with the sweetness of Thy Eucharistic Friendship.

Though we are few, beloved Jesus,
receive our hours of adoration for the sake of all Thy priests,
and by the prayers of Thy Most Holy Mother,
deign to make fruitful the time Thou givest us to spend before Thy Eucharistic Face,
close to Thy Open Heart.

Take the little we offer Thee, Lord Jesus,
and multiply its effects for the sanctification of Thy priests,
for the joy of Thy Church,
and for the glory of Thy Father. Amen.

An Oblate's Day

| | Comments (9)

Me on back deck Oct 24 09.JPG

Jon is the first postulant for the secular Oblature of our monastery. Married and the father of two sons, he lives in Pennsylvania. After reading my entry on the horarium we follow here in Tulsa, Jon was inspired to share something of his life as a son of Saint Benedict living in the world. He gave me permission to share his letter with the readers of Vultus Christi. My own comments are in italics. Jeff in Maryland, Tracy in Tulsa, the men in our diocesan diaconate program, and a number of other friends and readers will really enjoy this!

Dear Father Mark,

Thanks for sharing on Vultus Christi the horarium at Our Lady of the Cenacle. I was wondering myself what your precise schedule was. Not to cause jealousy, but being "back east," I could follow along an hour later and still be in-sync!

It made me think that you and the brothers might be curious as to what sort of schedule their one-foot-in-the-world oblate postulant follows. I also thought my experience might be useful for the future, when an inquirer might ask, "just how do you fit this stuff into your life?"

Yes, secular Oblates need to have a daily rule of prayer adapted to their state in life.

Well, first of all, as I've already shared, I've prayed the Office for many years, but like all oblates, I incorporate as much of the Rule into my daily life as possible. I pay especial attention to Chapter IV, The Instruments of Good Works, as a guide to my personal behavior, and considering the overall role of the abbot as it applies to my vocation of husband and father.

Isn't it wonderful to hear a man say: "I incorporate as much of the Rule into my daily life as possible"? Jon is spot on when he refers to Chapter IV of the Holy Rule (The Instruments of Good Works). And yes, Saint Benedict's presentation of the abbot and the virtues that must characterize his paternity can be wisely adapted to the vocation of the father of a family.

As a defining constitution, so to speak, I've adopted this short and sweet gem of Dom Gueranger's I found a while back.

On Sundays and Festivals they will attend, by preference, High Mass, in the churches where it is celebrated with the ecclesiastical chant and ritual.
Should they find inconvenience in communicating at a late hour, they will make their Communion previously, at an early Mass. They will attentively follow all the rites and ceremonies performed by the priests and attendants at the altar, will do their best by previous study and consideration to enter into their meaning, and thus meritoriously qualify themselves for the fuller reception of the grace implanted in them by the Holy Spirit. [Let them, so to speak, not be satisfied with merely inhaling the fragrance, but let them also gather the honey from these flowers of the garden of the Church.]
They will follow the ecclesiastical chant by the aid, if needful, of translations of the formularies, and they will avoid distracting their attention from the holy mysteries by other books of devotion, etc., which may be excellent, perhaps, at other times, but which at these moments would be harmful, by keeping them apart from the sacred Liturgy.
Attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the act of piety to which, of all others, they will attach the highest importance. There, wherein is renewed the Sacred Passion of Our Lord, they will offer to God the Divine Victim, in union with the Church, for the four ends of Adoration, Thanksgiving, Propitiation, and Petition. On the days when they do not communicate they will make a spiritual Communion at the moment when the priest is making the Sacramental Communion, and for this they will prepare themselves by the act of contrition and offering of themselves to God.
Next to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they will esteem nothing so much as the Divine office, by which the Church renders to God her continual homage in the canonical hours. On Sundays and festivals they will gladly be present at Vespers and Compline, and will endeavour, as far as it may be possible for them, to join with Holy Church in the chanting of her psalms and hymns. Let them be especially thankful to God if He should give them grace to take delight in the Psalter, remembering that, in the ages of faith, it was most frequently through the psalms that God was pleased to communicate with souls. They will prefer those churches in which the Divine Office is celebrated according to ecclesiastical rule, such as the cathedral or any other. Even in their private devotions they will take pleasure in using the prayers of the Church to express their needs and aspirations.
They will earnestly desire to unite themselves to God by mental prayer; and in this they will he powerfully assisted by their union with the Church in the sacred Liturgy. The different seasons of the Church's year will bring before them the mysteries which are the groundwork of piety and the source of the true spirit of prayer. They will often visit Our Lord in the holy Tabernacle, and will not fail to appreciate their happiness whenever they are able to be present at Benediction, to receive the blessing of the most holy Sacrament.

As for an horarium, of course being on medical leave until November 2nd, I'm able to do a little more, but given that I'm either working out of the house or traveling, I'm able to typically do the following:

This part of Jon's letter reminds me of certain pages in Dom Thomas Verner Moore's classic book: "The Life of Man With God."

On Waking:

I always try to make my first thought and prayer, " Laudetur Iesus Christus, in aeternum. Amen."

From there I make my coffee, and depending on my upcoming schedule, usually then sit in my home office and pray Lauds from the Monastic Diurnal. If I have a busy morning coming up, or if I get started late for whatever reason, I pray Prime. Although especially for a working man, I find Prime very meaningful and suited to my station, I try to pray Lauds whenever I can. Also, if I pray Prime, I'll read from the Roman Martyrology (I haven't been able to find the Benedictine one on the web) for the day. If I pray Lauds, I'll take my copies Roman Breviary, and read the Lesson from Matins.

I have long been of the opinion that Prime and Compline are the working man's Hours of the Divine Office. Brief and, for the most part, invariable, they correspond to the natural rhythm of the working man's day and family life. My dear and venerable friend, artist Adé de Béthune, another Benedictine Oblate, used to pray Prime and Compline, as did many Catholic layfolk prior to the Second Vatican Council. The push to make Lauds and Vespers the daily prayer of ordinary people in the world was, I think, the idea of an elite who had never asked the folks in question what really worked for them. Jon's solution is the best one: Prime and Compline on workdays and Lauds and Vespers on Sundays and when one has the leisure to devote to them.

To fulfill my task of praying for priests, after either Lauds or Prime, I pray the Fraternity's "Confraternity Prayer," which works very nicely. I have it on a little card I carry in my diurnal.

V. Remember, O Lord, Thy congregation.
R. Which Thou hast possessed from the beginning.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus, born to give testimony to the Truth, Thou who lovest unto the end those whom Thou hadst chosen, kindly hear our prayers for our pastors. Thou who knowest all things, knowest that they love Thee and can do all things in Thee who strengthen them. Sanctify them in Truth. Pour into them, we beseech Thee, the Spirit whom Thou didst give to Thy apostles, who would make them, in all things, like unto Thee. Receive the homage of love which they offer up to Thee, who hast graciously received the threefold confession of Peter. And so that a pure oblation may everywhere be offered without ceasing unto the Most Holy Trinity, graciously enrich their number and keep them in Thy love, who art one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory and honour forever. Amen.

Intercession for priests is integral to the special vocation of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle; it must therefore occupy an important place in the prayer of our Oblates.

At noon I stop for a minute and pray the Angelus.

The Angelus is a really a little Votive Office of the Incarnation. Its very structure is liturgical. Easily memorized, it can become the "Little Office" of every Catholic man, woman, and child.

In the evening I'll pray Vespers when I have a few moments anytime between 3 o'clock and supper.

This is great: Jon gives himself enough time to pray Vespers, and he does so earlier in the afternoon rather than later in the evening. Many of the classic spiritual authors recommend praying Vespers early in the afternoon, and with good reason. Folks who have to prepare and serve the evening meal, or who have other suppertime obligations, will want to follow's Jon's very sensible approach to praying Vespers.

Before turning in I pray Compline, either with one of my two boys (12 and 15), or I pray it while lying in bed. Sometimes my wife and I will pray Compline together, but when we do, we use the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, as she's more familiar with it. I fall asleep praying the Rosary, and ask my guardian angel to finish the job.

Now that is beautiful: a Dad who prays Compline with his sons! The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin is a liturgical prayer that fits life in the world. The fact that it is basically the same, day after day, allows one to become comfortable with it, and to deepen its rich biblical content.

There was a reason why many active (apostolic) Congregations of religious chose the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin as their prayer. Moreover, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 98, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wisely state: "They too perform the public prayer of the Church who, in virtue of their constitutions, recite any short office, provided this is drawn up after the pattern of the divine office and is duly approved."

When both boys were small, I prayed Compline together with both of them every night. They always got excited at "the devil, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour." Memorable image for little boys, that. This lasted until high school and homework intruded. I'd say four out of seven nights though I still pray it with at least one of them.

What small boy wouldn't thrill to that vivid image of the Short Lesson at Compline? A roaring lion seeking someone to devour!

I also spend a few minutes in lectio divina, taking ten to fifteen minutes sometime in the day when I have a chance. Usually it's while I eat my lunch, whether in my office, a hotel room, or even a restaurant. But it can also be sometime in the evening - whatever works.

Jon knows that one can live the Rule of Saint BenedIct without a commitment to lectio divina. He finds the time that works for him, and he does it.

On Friday nights or a feast of Our Lady, as often as possible we'll say the Rosary together before an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (very popular here in PA, land of St. John Neumann and the Redemptorists) that hangs in our front room.

It is significant that the icon of Our Lady here in the oratory of the monastery should also be Our Mother of Perpetual Help. She is Our Lady Abbess, our Mother ready to help us at every moment. The family Rosary brings wonderful blessings to those who pray it. Our little monastic family also prays the Rosary together daily, immediately after the Hour of Sext.

I don't press family devotions more than that, as both of my sons enthusiastically serve the Traditional Mass on Sundays usually twice a month, and on Saturday mornings once a month as well. They also serve during the week on holy days, too, if need be. And there's Grace said before every meal - whether at home or in public. I try to keep things balanced, and want them to remember their childhood Faith experience with joy, and not as an oppressive duty. That way my wife and I hope the watered seed will grow.

And that too is eminently Benedictine: "I try to keep things balanced." Jon is very wise in his desire to communicate the faith to his children with joy, eschewing the burden of a duty that oppresses.

As for parish life, I sing in the schola, and am a member of the Holy Name Society. Oh, and I do whatever Father drafts me to do. My wife takes care of organizing the religious ed/sacrament training classes for the parish.

And parish life. Yes. The Benedictine Oblate cannot remain aloof from the parish at the heart of which stands the altar of Christ's Sacrifice.

That might seem like a lot, but it isn't. I found I used to spend even more time than that plunked in front of the television. Also, none of this binds under sin, and I don't let it bother me if other duties or affairs intrude. I do what I can. Some days, like snow days, or if I'm ill, I can do more. During the Octave of Christmas and the Easter Triduum, I make it an effort to pray Matins and the Little Hours.

Wisdom! Be attentive. There's the key: I do what I can.

There you have it, the exciting life of your humble oblate postulant.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron...


Per singulos dies

| | Comments (6)

Cristo con i martiri canadesi.jpg

The mosaic depicts the North American Martyrs with the Crucified Jesus. It is in the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Canadian Martyrs in Rome.

Little by Little

Some readers of Vultus Christi have expressed an interest in knowing more about what we are doing here on a daily basis. A word about the horarium might be useful. Although I chant Matins at 5:15 a.m., I'm not allowing the postulants to come just yet. They will begin coming to Matins on the First Sunday of Advent.

Nothing good is gained by pushing men into the full observance all at once. The observance needs to be taken on gently, piece by piece, and progressively. Monastic life has a rhythm that is entirely different from that of life in the world. One has to adjust to the monastic rhythm slowly and prudently, lest by taking on too much too soon, one suffer the physical and emotional stress that can cause exhaustion and discouragement.

Lauds and Breakfast

The postulants rise, then, at 6:45 and come to Lauds at 7:15. Lauds is entirely in Latin, the psalmody being chanted recto tono and the rest of the Office (from the Capitulum) being sung from the 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum. After Lauds we have breakfast: coffee, bread, yogurt, butter, and jam. Plain bread on weekdays, raisin bread on Sundays and feasts! After breakfast there is a little time to set up for Mass and do a few household chores.

Prime and Chapter

We return to choir for Prime at 8:30. It is chanted recto tono (as are the other Little Hours) and is entirely in Latin. Going directly from choir to Chapter, we listen to the appointed section of the Rule of Saint Benedict for the day, and I give a brief commentary on the text. I'm a firm believer in the value of a daily commentary on the Holy Rule. In this way the entire Rule of Saint Benedict is read and explained three times a year in the context of day to day experience.

On the Religious Life.jpg


At 9:00 I give the brothers a 30 minute instruction. At the moment we are working our way through Dom Guéranger's classic "On the Religious Life." It is available here from Saint Michael's Abbey Press in Farnborough.


The brothers continue studying on their own until Tierce at 10:15. Both men are reading Blessed Abbot Marmion's "Christ, the Ideal of the Monk", and "Discovering the Mass" by a Benedictine Monk.

Holy Mass

Holy Mass follows Tierce. For the time being we have a Low Mass with the brothers reciting the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion Antiphons. They also recite the Ordinary parts of the Mass with me and give the responses. The Epistle and Gospel are read in English. Slowly we will work our way up to a fully sung Mass from the Graduale Romanum.

After our thanksgiving there is a work period until 12:30. For the postulants this means study; for me it involves preparing dinner and also receiving clergy for spiritual direction. (Not at the same time!) Occasionally, a visiting priest will join us for Sext and Rosary at 12:30.


Dinner is at 1:00. We chant the traditional monastic table prayers and, in spite of being only three, have reading through the meal. Benedictine Father Mark Gruber's lively account of a year among the Coptic Monks of Egypt is the book we are reading currently: "Journey Back to Eden: My Life and Times Among the Desert Fathers." Both Brothers Diego and Brendan read very well, making mealtime delightful.

None and Work

After dinner there is kitchen clean-up and dishes followed by a brisk walk together in the fresh air: our "recreation." A short rest ends in time for None at 3:00. The rest of the afternoon is for work.

Vespers and Adoration

Vespers, fully sung in Latin from the Antiphonale Monasticum, is at 5:30, after which the Most Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the monstrance for one hour of adoration. Given the specific dedication of our monastery, all our periods of adoration begin with this prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim,
behold, I kneel before Thy Eucharistic Face
on behalf of all Thy priests:
(Fathers N. and N.)
and especially those priests of Thine,
who at this moment are most in need
of Thy grace.
For them and in their place,
allow me to remain,
adoring and full of confidence,
close to Thy Open Heart,
hidden in this, the Sacrament of Thy Love.

Through the Sorrowful and Immaculate
Heart of Mary,
our Advocate and the Mediatrix of All Graces,
pour forth upon all the priests of Thy Church
that torrent of mercy that ever flows
from Thy pierced side:
to purify and heal them,
to refresh and sanctify them,
and, at the hour of their death,
to make them worthy of joining Thee
before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary
beyond the veil (Hb 6:19)
where Thou art always living
to make intercession
for us (Hb 7:25). Amen.

We end with the threefold invocation:

Eucharistic Face of Jesus, sanctify Thy priests!

On Thursdays and Sundays, we have prolonged adoration, beginning in the morning after Holy Mass, and then resumed after None until Vespers. Also on Thursdays and Sundays we have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of exposition. We will expand our hours of adoration as God gives us growth.

Supper and Compline

Supper is a simple affair: soup with bread and cheese, or oatmeal, or a salad with bread and cheese. Most evenings there is a steaming pot of herbal tea . . . what the French call une infusion, but on Sundays and feasts there is a glass of wine. After kitchen clean-up and dishes, we have a short recreation, and then Compline so as to be in our cells for the night by 9:00. Compline is sung in Latin as given in the Antiphonale Monasticum.

The days are full and we are in peace. Per singulos dies benedicimus te; et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.

If the way of life I've described appeals to you or corresponds to an inner call, write to us:

Benedictine Monks
Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle
c/o 1744 South Xanthus Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74104

Ut sanaret filium ejus

| | Comments (1)


Passing On the Tradition

One of the best things about being a very small monastic household is the freedom to make use of the opportunities for passing on the tradition that present themselves in the course of our prayer and our work. This morning, for example, I was able to say a few words about the significance of today's Benedictus Antiphon, right after we sang it at Lauds. Given that we have daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form, today is the 20th Sunday After Pentecost, and the Gospel is John 4:46-53. The Benedictus Antiphon is drawn from it.

He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, sent to him and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way. Thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth. And himself believed, and his whole house.

Benedictus Antiphon

Antiphonale Monasticum, p. 611.

Erat quidam regulus
cuius filius infirmabatur Capharnaum.
Hic cum audisset, quod Iesus veniret in Galilaeam,
rogabat eum, ut sanaret filium ejus.

The Name of Jesus

The musical summit of the antiphon is over the Most Holy Name of Jesus: The Lord God saves, the Lord God heals, the Lord God makes whole. Everything, then, in the antiphon moves upward to the Name of Jesus or flows therefrom.

Place and Time

The words Capharnaum, and Galilaeam even more so, are given a rich musical treatment, suggesting the importance of place in the economy of the Incarnation. Jesus, our Saving God, is not indifferent to what some would dismiss as mere mundane considerations: place and time. The wonder of the Incarnation lies, precisely, in this: that our God comes to meet each of us in a given place, one that can be circumscribed geographically and pinpointed on a map; at a given moment in time. This given moment on the calendars and clocks of our chronos becomes the moment of the Divine Inbreaking, God's moment, His kairos.

The Magnificat Antiphon

Antiphonale Monasticum, p. 612.

The ruler intercedes with Jesus for his sick son: rogabat eum, ut sanaret filium eius. Only at the Magnificat Antiphon of Second Vespers do we hear the wondrous outcome of the ruler's supplication. "The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth. And himself believed, and his whole house." Again, the Name of Jesus is given a musical treatment that makes it the heart and centre of the whole antiphon.

The Sacramental Quality of Neums

I explained to my brothers this morning that every neum has a "sacramental" quality. It is, as Saint Gertrude the Great experienced, a vehicle of grace both for the one who sings it and the one who hears it. Inspired by the Holy Ghost, the Church clothes the Word of God in the sacred vesture of her chant. Like a garment that emphasizes and prolongs the movement of a dancer's body, so does the chant emphasize and prolong the movement of the Word in medio ecclesiae.


In yesterday's general audience, our extraordinarily "Benedictine" Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, presented the figure of Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny. For the nascent Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, this teaching represents a foundational element. Pope Benedict XVI is, in a very real way, the father of our little monastery. The translation appeared on Zenit.

The characteristic theological piety of Peter and of the Cluniac Order: wholly set to the contemplation of the glorious face (gloriosa facies) of Christ, finding there the reasons for that ardent joy that marked his spirit and was radiated in the liturgy of the monastery.

The Beauty of the Liturgy

Dear brothers and sisters,

The figure of Peter the Venerable, which I wish to present in today's catechesis, takes us back to the famous abbey of Cluny, to its "decorum" (decor) and its "lucidity" (nitor), to use terms that recur in the Cluniac texts -- decorum and splendor-- which are admired above all in the beauty of the liturgy, the privileged path to reach God.


Even more than these aspects, however, Peter's personality recalls the holiness of the great Cluniac abbots: At Cluny "there was not a single abbot who was not a saint," said Pope Gregory VII in 1080. Among these is Peter the Venerable, who to some degree gathers in himself all the virtues of his predecessors -- although already with him, Cluny, faced with new orders such as that of Citeaux, began to experience symptoms of crisis.


Born around 1094 in the French region of Auvergne, he entered as a child in the monastery of Sauxillanges, where he became a professed monk and then prior. He was elected abbot of Cluny in 1122, and remained in this office until his death, which occurred on Christmas Day, 1156, as he had wished. "Lover of peace," wrote his biographer, Rudolph, "he obtained peace in the glory of God on the day of peace" (Vita, I, 17; PL 189, 28).

The Habit of Forgiving

All those who knew him praised his elegant meekness, serene balance, self-control, correctness, loyalty, lucidity and special attitude in mediating. "It is in my very nature," he wrote, "to be somewhat led to indulgence; I am incited to this by my habit of forgiving. I am used to enduring and forgiving" (Ep. 192, in: "The Letters of Peter the Venerable," Harvard University Press, 1967, p. 446).

Happy With His Lot

He also said: "With those who hate peace we wish, possibly, to always be peaceful" (Ep. 100, 1.c., p. 261). And of himself, he wrote: "I am not one of those who is not happy with his lot ... whose spirit is always anxious and doubtful, and who laments that all the others are resting and he alone is working" (Ep. 182, p. 425).

Gracious and Affectionate

Of a sensitive and affectionate nature, he was able to combine love of the Lord with tenderness toward his family, particularly his mother, and his friends. He was a cultivator of friendship, especially in his meetings with his monks, who usually confided in him, certain of being received and understood. According to the testimony of his biographer, "he did not disregard or refuse anyone" (Vita, 1,3: PL 189,19); "he seemed gracious to all; in his innate goodness, he was open to all" (ibid., I,1: PL, 189, 17).


We could say that this holy abbot is an example also for the monks and Christians of our time, marked by a frenetic rhythm of life, where incidents of intolerance and lack of communication, division and conflicts are not rare. His witness invites us to be able to combine love of God with love of neighbor, and never tire of renewing relations of fraternity and reconciliation. In this way, in fact, Peter the Venerable behaved, finding himself guiding the monastery of Cluny in years that were not very tranquil for several external and internal reasons, succeeding in being simultaneously severe and gifted with profound humanity. He used to say: "You will be able to obtain more from a man by tolerating him, than by irritating him with complaints" (Ep. 172, 1.c., 409).

In the Midst of Many Cares

Because of his office, he had to make frequent trips to Italy, England, Germany and Spain. Forced abandonment of contemplative stillness weighed on him. He confessed: "I go from one place to another, I am anxious, disturbed, tormented, dragged here and there; my mind is turned now to my affairs, now to those of others, not without great agitation to my spirit" (Ep. 91, 1.c., p. 233). Although having to maneuver between the powers and lordships that surrounded Cluny, nevertheless, thanks to his sense of measure, his magnanimity and his realism, he succeeded in keeping his habitual tranquility. Among the personalities with whom he interacted was Bernard of Clairvaux, with whom he enjoyed a relationship of growing friendship, despite differences of temperament and perspectives. Bernard described him as an "important man, occupied in important affairs" and he greatly esteemed him (Ep. 147, ed. Scriptorium Claravallense, Milan, 1986, VI/1, pp. 658-660), whereas Peter the Venerable described Bernard as "lamp of the Church" (Ep. 164, p. 396), "strong and splendid column of the monastic order and of the whole Church" (Ep. 175, p. 418).

The Wounds of the Body of Christ

With a lively ecclesial sense, Peter the Venerable said that the affairs of Christian people should be felt in the "depth of the heart" of those who number themselves "among the members of the Body of Christ" (Ep. 164, 1.c., p. 397). And he added: "He is not nourished by Christ who does not feel the wounds of the Body of Christ," wherever these are produced (ibid.). Moreover, he showed care and solicitude even for those who were outside the Church, in particular for the Jews and Muslims: to foster knowledge of the latter he had the Quran translated. In this regard, a recent historian observed: "Amid the intransigence of the men of Medieval times, also among the greatest of them, we admire here a sublime example of the delicacy to which Christian charity leads" (J. Leclercq, Pietro il Venerabile, Jaca Book, 1991, p. 189).

Love of the Eucharist and of the Virgin Mary

Other aspects of Christian life dear to him were love of the Eucharist and devotion to the Virgin Mary. On the Most Holy Sacrament he has left us pages that are "one of the masterpieces of Eucharistic literature of all times" (ibid., p. 267), and on the Mother of God he wrote illuminating reflections, always contemplating her in close relationship with Jesus the Redeemer and his work of salvation. Suffice it to report this inspired elevation of his: "Hail, Blessed Virgin, who put malediction to flight. Hail, Mother of the Most High, spouse of the most meek Lamb. You conquered the serpent, you have crushed his head, when the God generated by you annihilated him ... Shining star of the East, who puts to flight the shadows of the West. Dawn that precedes the sun, day that ignores the night ... Pray to God born from you, so that he will absolve us from our sin and, after forgiveness, grant us grace and glory" (Carmina, Pl 189, 1018-1019).

The Radiant Face of Christ

Peter the Venerable also nourished a predilection for literary activity and he had the talent. He wrote down his reflections, persuaded of the importance of using the pen almost like a plough "to scatter on paper the seed of the Word" (Ep. 20, p. 38). Although he was not a systematic theologian, he was a great researcher of the mystery of God. His theology sinks its roots in prayer, especially the liturgy, and among the mysteries of Christ he favored the Transfiguration, in which the Resurrection is already prefigured. It was in fact he who introduced this feast at Cluny, composing a special office for it, in which is reflected the characteristic theological piety of Peter and of the Cluniac Order, wholly set to the contemplation of the glorious face (gloriosa facies) of Christ, finding there the reasons for that ardent joy that marked his spirit and was radiated in the liturgy of the monastery.

Adhering Tenaciously to Christ

Dear brothers and sisters, this holy monk is certainly a great example of monastic sanctity, nourished at the sources of the Benedictine tradition. For him, the ideal of the monk consisted in "adhering tenaciously to Christ" (Ep. 53, 1.c., p. 161), in a cloistered life marked by "monastic humility" (ibid.) and industriousness (Ep. 77, 1.c., p. 211), as well as by a climate of silent contemplation and constant praise of God. According to Peter of Cluny, the first and most important occupation of a monk is the solemn celebration of the Divine Office --"heavenly work and of all the most useful" (Statuta, I, 1026) -- to be supported with reading, meditation, personal prayer and penance observed with discretion (cf. Ep. 20, 1.c., p. 40).

The Ideal of the Monk and of Every Christian

In this way the whole of life is pervaded by profound love of God and love of others, a love that is expressed in sincere openness to one's neighbor, in forgiveness and in the pursuit of peace. By way of conclusion, we could say that if this style of life joined to daily work is, for St. Benedict, the ideal of the monk, it also concerns all of us; it can be, to a great extent, the style of life of the Christian who wants to become a genuine disciple of Christ, characterized in fact by tenacious adherence to him, by humility, by industriousness and the capacity to forgive, and by peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]


Progress Report

Our little community life, marked by the rhythm of the Hours, by Eucharistic adoration, work, and welcoming guests, is already that of the age-old observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. It doesn't take much to live according to the Holy Rule: an all-consuming thirst for God, zeal for the Divine Office, readiness to embrace humiliations and obedience, and charity. "And over all these put on charity" (Col 3:14).

The Work of God

I am full of thanksgiving when I see the zeal of my young brothers for this vocation, and especially for their loving solicitude for priests. To hear them speak of their desire to "adore for priests who never linger before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus," and to offer themselves for the sanctification of priests, especially for the most wounded and broken among them, is, for me, an immense joy. To see them take their place before the Most Blessed Sacrament is an even greater joy. It is all God's Work: "The Work of God." Why would one want to put anything before the "Work of God," for "He does all things well" (Mk 7:37)?

This morning at Matins: a wonderful text of Saint Gregory Nazianzen. The translation is my own.

O Excessively Speedy Kindness

All you who thirst, come to the water -- thus does Isaias exhort you -- and you who have no money, come, buy your wine and drink it, without paying a cent. O excessively speedy kindness! O easy purchase! You can buy using nothing more than your will. God even holds your heart's desire in place of the enormous cost. He thirsts that we should thirst for Him. He makes Himself the beverage of those who wish to drink. He considers it a good thing that we should ask good things of Him. His munificence and liberality are well within your reach. He is gladder to give than are others to receive.

Let us take care lest we be condemned for the smallness of our cramped souls in asking only for things that are small and not at all worthy of the Divine munificence. Blessed the one of whom Christ asks a drink a water, like that well-known Samaritan; for He will give such a one a wellspring of water soaring up for eternal life.


A Thursday of Adoration and Reparation

For the very first time, our embryonic monastery observed the Thursday of Adoration and Reparation for Priests. Being three, we were able to prolong our adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus for the sake of our brothers, His beloved priests. Our tiny oratory has become a sanctuary of adoration, and this in response to the particular mandate given us by Bishop Slattery.

Saint John Leonardi

Also today, my Benedictine confrère, Father Samuel Weber, sent me the text of the Holy Father's General Audience for the 400th anniversary of the death of Saint John Leonardi, Founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, and patron saint of pharmacists. The whole text is worth meditating, especially in the context of the Year of the Priesthood, but the following lines went straight to my heart:

The Splendor of the Holy Face of Jesus

Saint John Leonardi's existence was always enlightened by the splendor of the "Holy Face" of Jesus, kept and venerated in the Cathedral Church of Lucca, becoming the eloquent symbol and the indisputable synthesis of the faith that animated him. Conquered by Christ like the Apostle Paul, he pointed out to his disciples, and continues to point out to all of us, the Christocentric ideal for which "it is necessary to divest oneself of every self interest and only look to the service of God," having "before the mind's eye only the honor, service and glory of Christ Jesus Crucified."

And the Maternal Face of Mary

Along with the face of Christ, he fixed his gaze on the maternal face of Mary. She whom he chose patroness of his order, was for him teacher, sister and mother, and he felt her constant protection. May the example and intercession of this "fascinating man of God" be, particularly in this Year for Priests, a call and encouragement for priests and for all Christians to live their own vocations with passion and enthusiasm.


| | Comments (5)

Cenacle outside.jpg

Today will be filled with the final preparations for the arrival of Diego and CJ tomorrow, and Brendan on the 12th. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the monastery's "friends of the first hour" last Saturday, both houses are almost completely organized for the inauguration of community life. A few indispensable things have not arrived yet: our monastic diurnals, for example! I'm confident that all will be in readiness when the new brothers arrive.

I ask the readers of Vultus Christi to beseech Our Lady of the Cenacle, Queen of the Rosary, to order today's efforts and tomorrow's welcome sweetly and wisely, as only she can.

From the Rule of Our Holy Father, Saint Benedict
Chapter LVIII.
Of the manner of receiving Brothers to Religion.

Let not an easy entrance be granted to one who cometh newly to the reformation of his life, but, as the Apostle saith: "Try the Spirits if they be of God."191191I Joan. iv. 1. If, therefore, the newcomer persevere knocking, and continue for four or five days patiently to endure both the injuries offered to him and the difficulty made about his entrance, and persist in his petition; leave to enter shall be granted him, and he shall be in the guest Hall for a few days. Afterwards he shall be in the Novitiate, where he shall meditate, and eat, and sleep.
Let a Senior who has the address of winning souls, be appointed to watch over him narrowly and carefully, to discover whether he truly seeks God, and is eager for the Work of God, for obedience and for humiliation. Let all the rigour and austerity by which we tend towards God be laid before him.

Breaking News: The diurnals arrived this afternoon! Deo gratias.


Praying for my Postulants

As I chanted the responsories at Matins in the pre-dawn darkness, it became clear that they, in some way, were addressed to my young brothers and to me at the onset of this week of new beginnings. This so often happens: when the liturgic Word is received humbly, just as it is given us by Mother Church, it penetrates mightily into the very core of one's here and now. The liturgy, unchanging and objective, is ever new and is always a word for today. Hodie.

Responsory I

The Lord open your hearts in His laws and commandments, and send you peace in your days, * And give you salvation and redeem you from evil. V. The Lord hear your prayers and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble. And give.

This is my prayer for the first postulants of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. "The Lord open your hearts, and send you peace in your days, and give you salvation, and redeem you from evil, and hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble." The liturgy is the complete prayer given us by the Holy Ghost who comes to help us in our infirmity, for we know not how to pray as we ought. See Romans 8:26.

Responsory II

The Lord hear your prayers and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble; * May the Lord our God be gracious unto you. V. And give you all a heart to serve Him and do His will with a good courage and a willing mind. May the Lord.

And this is what I pray for Diego, and CJ, and now Brendan: "May the Lord give you all a heart to serve Him and do His will with a good courage and a willing mind. Monastic life requires men of valour.

Responsory III

Our enemies are gathered together, and do boast in their strength; destroy their might, O Lord, and scatter them, * That they may know that there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O God. V. Scatter them abroad among the people, and put them down, O Lord, our defence. That they.

Finally, we mustn't think, even for a moment, that we will be spared the messiness of spiritual combat and struggles. "Our enemies are gathered together, and do boast in their strength." And yet, fear is useless; confidence in the triumphant love of Christ withstands every spiritual attack. "If God be for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31). "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monastic Workday A Grand Success

| | Comments (4)

Refectory Icon.jpg

Icon in the Refectory of the Provisional Monastery in Tulsa: left to right, Holy Father Saint Benedict, the Holy Mother of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Joseph. Photo by Reverend Father Jeffrey Keyes.

A Fruitful Day

Our first monastic workday was a grand success. It began at 9:00 a.m. with the Mass of the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion and ended late in the afternoon. The second house, called "Subiaco" to distinguish it from "The Cenacle," is now prepared to receive the first brothers for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Heartfelt Thanks

My heartfelt thanks to: Dan and Sandy Pickett, Dee Schneider, Glenna Craig, Sheila Michie, Greg and Lisa Stice, Mariah Stice, Katie Stice, and Josh Stice. I ask Our Lord to reward them a hundredfold for their amazing generosity and hard work.

Be It Ever So Humble

As things stand now, the little provisional monastery is in two neighboring houses on South Xanthus Avenue. In "The Cenacle" you will find the chapel, parlor, refectory, kitchen, room for spiritual direction and Confessions, and one monastic cell. In "Subiaco" you will find a little study area, three monastic cells, and the laundry. All is ready, then, for a little family of four!

A New Day

| | Comments (2)


In The Declarations of the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict for the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, we read:

36. The Master of Novices will ensure that postulants and novices are given a thorough grounding in the Benedictine way of life, and receive an adequate intellectual, moral, and spiritual formation. Among the Benedictine authors presented and studied, the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion will hold a place of choice.

Declarations on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict are to monastic families what Constitutions would be to modern congregations. They are simply a series of clarifications on how the Holy Rule is lived and applied in the concrete circumstances of a given monastic family.

Yes, Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion will become a friend and father to those who, "seeking God truly," will present themselves as postulants for Tulsa's new Benedictine monastery.

Today is our first "Work Day." Friends of the monastery, many of them Spiritual Mothers of Priests, will gather for Holy Mass at 9:00, followed by a concerted effort to get both little houses ready for the arrival of Diego and CJ on Tuesday.

Until the new monastery is constructed, we will be living in two little rented houses in a residential neighborhood in midtown Tulsa. Not the ideal monastic situation . . . but one that invites us to practice the little way of Saint Thérèse and the humble virtues of the hidden life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Nazareth.

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