Silverstream Priory, County Meath: August 2012 Archives

Relying Always Upon His Grace

| | Comments (5)

Knock Banner.jpg

An Anniversary

The years have flown by. On the evening of 21 August, 2008, kneeling in the chapel of the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery's episcopal residence in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, I vowed myself to a new way of life, to a vocation within a vocation. This is what I said:

The "Yes" of A New Beginning

Most Reverend Father,
desiring to respond to the mandate you have given me
and to the invitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
while relying always upon his grace
I promise that for the next two years
I will live each day
in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament,
in a spirit of thanksgiving and intercession,
that I might make reparation before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
for all my brothers in Holy Orders,
but especially for those who do not adore,
for those who are most wounded in their souls,
and for those who are exposed to the attacks of the powers of darkness.

For them and in their place,
I promise to abide before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
drawing near to His Open Heart,
that in the ever-flowing streams of Blood and Water
all souls might be purified, healed, and sanctified,
but first of all the souls of His priests.

I ask you, Most Reverend Father,
to sustain me in this calling ,
and by your prayers
present me to Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the eternal Priest and Lamb of Sacrifice,
that, by the action of his Holy Spirit,
I might live more closely united to Him as priest and victim.

I make these promises conscious of my weakness,
and resolved to live this grace
in total dependence on the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Advocate of Priests and Mediatrix of All Graces,
and in communion with Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse,
and Saint John, the Beloved Disciple who, in obedience to the word of Jesus
Crucified, took Our Lady into his keeping
seek that intimacy with her
which is ever the sign of God's providence and love.

So I promise, so help me God
and those holy martyrs and saints
whose relics are here present.

From Oklahoma to County Meath

It was the feast of Our Lady of Knock, and I chose this date designedly for my new beginning in Tulsa Oklahoma, because of the strong connection between my own vocation and the significance of the apparition at Knock. Little did I know, on that August evening in Broken Arrow that, less than five years later, I would be in Ireland, the very land chosen for this extraordinary manifestation of the Mother of God, of Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, and the immolated and glorious Lamb of God. The whole sequence of events bears the unmistakable imprint of Divine Providence. It is humbling and reassuring at the same time.



I am and will forever be grateful to Monsignor Patrick Brankin for originally inviting me to Tulsa to preach a retreat to his deacons and men in formation for the diaconate, and to Bishop Slattery for recognizing this "vocation within a vocation" and for inviting me to begin to live it out in his diocese. I am grateful to the Right Reverend Dom Marcel Rooney, O.S.B., former Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, for his friendship, his fatherly solicitude, and his encouragement while we were both in Tulsa. I am grateful also to the Father Abbot of Clear Creek and to his monks, the most charitable of monastic neighbours.

Tulsa became a place of many graces, of blessed friendships, and of an extraordinary fruitfulness. So many things happened there: the movement of Spiritual Mothers of Priests; the Year of the Priesthood and the activities that marked it; the foundation of the Monastery and the beginning of our flourishing group of Oblates; the beginnings of a humble ministry to priests.

A Pattern Emerges

As I look back over the past five years, I am beginning to see that a pattern emerges, a pattern not of my own making. On 3 January 2007, I was en route to Rome with a long layover in Dublin. By a special act of Providence, Sister Barbara Matazzaro, A.S.C.J. and I were on the same flight from New York to Rome. It was wonderful to travel with such a good friend.


Mass During a Layover in Dublin

During our five hour wait in the Dublin airport, Sister Barbara and I crossed the road to Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church. The Dublin church contained a lovely statue of our Lady of Loreto. The kind sacristan arranged for me to offer Holy Mass. I exposed the icon of the Virgin Mother, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, in front of the altar for Mass. Earlier, an Irish priest (now working in Nashville, Tennessee) had greeted us in the airport and asked us to pray for the Church in Ireland. I offered Holy Mass for that intention and distinctly remember having asked Our Lord for the grace to "do something" for the Church in Ireland. Did I know what I was asking? Was that Holy Mass, offered for the Church in Ireland with the icon of the Mother of God, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, the sign of my vocation to adoration and reparation for priests, not the beginning of what has now unfolded?

Carried on the Wind


I have sometimes felt like a dandelion blossom gone to seed, carried on the wind from one place to another, leaving bits and pieces of itself here and there. Do I regret the movements that have marked my life, in seeming contradiction with the Benedictine vow of stability? I do not regret them for one reason only: through the changes and chances of this great adventure, I have been led, and I have been carried. Every halt, every connection, every prayer uttered in the obscurity of faith is part of a much bigger design, one that I could never have imagined or planned. For it all, I give thanks.


The great adventure is hardly over, but I am convinced that in coming to Silverstream Priory in County Meath, Ireland, I have come to the place where the "vocation within a vocation" articulated in Bishop Slattery's chapel on that August 21st, 2008, will take root and begin to flourish. It will not, of course, be easy, but I have been given enough signs along the way to trust and, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the maternal Heart of His Immaculate Mother, to persevere.

In the Hand of His Providence

I wrote recently to a friend in England, quoting comforting words of Saint Francis de Sales. Today, I share these same words with all of you, dear readers of Vultus Christi, and friends of Silverstream Priory. As for myself, I take them very much to heart.

Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of His providence, and He will help you in all situations. When you cannot walk, He will carry you. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always.

Thanks be to the all-holy Mother of God who appeared at Knock in the company of Saint Joseph, Saint John, the Holy Angels, and the adorable Lamb of God, for all that is, for all that was, and for all that will be.

Maria, Abbatissa Nostra

| | Comments (1)


Apart from the photos of the statue at Tre Fontane in Rome (Trappist Monks), of the icon of the Mother of God, Abbess of Mount Athos, and of our own icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour, the statues of Our Lady shown here are found in monasteries of the Benedettine dell'Adorazione Perpetua del Santissimo Sacramento in Italy.

Our Lady, Our Abbess, Our Queen

Writing in an essay in the book Priez sans cesse - 300 ans de prière, (Desclée de Brouwer, Editeur, Paris, 1953, p. 177), Dom Jean Leclercq, O.S.B. demonstrates that a Benedictine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Abbess, was not uncommon in the Middle Ages. Originating in monasteries of the Cluniac obedience, devotion to the Blessed Virgin as Abbess was also not unknown among the 17th century Benedictine monks of the Congregation of Saint-Maur.

At Tre Fontane

Not surprisingly, the same devotion made its way into the hearts and cloisters of of the Cistercians. When, in 1975, I visited the Trappist monks at the Abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome, I was struck by a statue of the Mother of God enthroned in the reading cloister.


The Blessed Virgin is depicted seated, dressed in the white cuculla of the Cistercians and wearing the abbatial insignia of the ring and pectoral cross. In her right hand she holds the keys of the monastery, and in her left the crosier or pastoral staff used by abbots and abbesses. The inscription below the statue reads: In me omnis spes, "In me is all hope." How many generations of monks and laybrothers in need of hope paused before this statue to entrust themselves to the Mother of Jesus, their heavenly Abbess and Queen?

Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration

Mother Mectilde de Bar, familiar to the readers of Vultus Christi, as the foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, and the "Teresa of Avila" of the Benedictine Order, renounced the abbatial title for herself and all her successors in perpetuity, and attributed that title and its duties to the Mother of God alone.

The 28 May 1654, M. Mectilde de Bar wrote to M. Dorothée Heurelle:

In myself I find nothing whatsoever that is capable of giving me joy, except for one thing that has given me great satisfaction. It is that I have had a statue of Our made. She is much taller than I, holding her Child on her right arm, and holding a crosier in her left hand, to signify she is the generalissima of the Order of Saint Benedict, and the most worthy Abbess, Mother, and Superior of this little house of the Holy Sacrament. It was brought to us on Saturday, the vigil of Pentecost. I must admit that her arrival sent a thrill of joy and consolation through me, and seeing my holy Mistress take possession of her domain and of this very little convent. She is not yet altogether finished, because she must still be gilded and made perfectly beautiful, and after she is perfectly complete, we shall have her blessed, and then placed on a throne prepared to this effect in the middle of our choir between the stall of our Mother Subprioress and mine. She is admired, and certainly she is beautiful, and consoles me extremely.


The Image of Our Lady Abbess

On 22 August 1654, Mother Mectilde proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary the only abbess and perpetual superior of the Institute. Delegated by the prior of Saint-Germain, the Abbé Picoté blessed the statue of Our Lady. The next day, Mother Mectilde placed Our Lady's image in all the regular places -- choir, chapter, refectory, dormitory -- so that she might, in some way, preside at all the community exercises. She want Our Lady's feasts to be celebrated brilliantly, and prescribed special prayers to the glory of her Most Pure Heart and Immaculate Conception.

Thus, was Our Lady forever chosen, named, and recognized as the most worthy and most eminent mother, abbess, and superior in chief of the first fledgling monastery of the Most Holy Sacrament. The Benedictines of the Most Holy Sacrament renew the abbatial election of the Mother of God, and entrust themselves to her every year on August 15th or 22nd.

Abbess and Queen of the Holy Mountain

Is this devotion more of a feminine thing? Hardly. The monks of Mount Athos, where no woman ever sets foot, practice the same devotion as their Western brethren, but to an even higher degree. The all-holy Mother of God is acknowledged, venerated, and praised as the Abbess of the Holy Mountain. She is the only woman allowed on Mount Athos because it is her garden, and her domain.

Prophecy of the Mother of God

Saint Gregory Palamas, in his Life of Saint Peter the Athonite (+681) relates that, while living virtually alone on the Holy Mountain as a hermit, he had a vision of the Mother of God telling Saint Nicholas of her love for the place:

BVM Abbess Mount Athos.jpg

"The time will come," said the Mother of God," when, from every direction, it will be filled with a multitude of monks.... If those monks shall labor for God with all their hearts and faithfully keep His commandments, I will vouchsafe them great gifts on the great day of my Son. And, while even here on earth, they will receive great aid from me. I shall lighten their afflictions and labors. I will be for the monks an invincible ally, invisibly guiding and guarding them, a healer, a source nourishing them, and make it possible for them, with but scant means, to have sufficiency for life."

Abbess of the Holy Mountain

For over a thousand years, the monks of Mount Athos have experienced the truth of these words. Not merely in name only, but in reality and in the life of each monk, the all-holy Mother of God is honoured as Abbess and Sovereign Lady of the Holy Mountain. The monks of Mount Athos invoke the Holy Mother of God by a whole litany of titles. Our Lady is the archetype of monasticism. She is the paradigm of Christian holiness; the Abbess of the Holy Mountain; and the monk's sure guide to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Mother of God is everywhere present on Mount Athos by means of the holy icons through which she reveals herself as a most solicitous Abbess and communicates with her monks.


And at Silverstream Priory

Lest we, the least of Our Lady's sons, be found lacking in the same kind of filial devotion to her, our own little monastery, like so many others in past times and places, elected the Blessed Virgin Mary Abbess of Silverstream on August 15th.

Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, after Vespers on the feast of the Assumption, I pronounced the solemn act of election by which our monastery entered into a new and deeper relationship with Our Blessed Lady. Here, for your meditation, is the text of the prayer. It is modeled after the act that Mother Mectilde de Bar pronounced in Paris on 22 August 1654.

Act of Election and Consecration to Our Lady, Abbess

I, an unworthy son of Saint Benedict,
holding the first place in this monastery
established for the adoration and glory
of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
humbly prostrate before the Throne of the Divine Majesty,
in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
and in the warmth of the fire that burns in His Most Sacred Heart,
do confess and declare,
in the name of the community such as it is at this time,
and such as it shall be in time to come,
that the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God,
is forever elected, named, and recognized
as the ever-worthy, glorious,
and sovereign Lady and Abbess of this monastery,
that is, of all the monasteries dedicated to her,
the most fragile and the most in need of the care and attention
of her maternal Heart.


With profound humility and confidence,
I beg her, in her most tender pity
to take this struggling and vulnerable infant monastery
under her singular care and special protection,
and to obtain for me
and for the souls in my care
the incomparable grace of the Divine Friendship
of the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus,
in fidelity to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and the charism of adoration, reparation, and charity for priests,
which has been bestowed upon us
by the Father of lights from whom descends every good gift,
and has been recognized by the Holy Catholic Church
in the persons of our Lords, the Most Reverend Bishops of Tulsa and of Meath,
and in whose heart we desire to live and to die.

I further offer to the maternal Heart
of the same sovereign Lady and Abbess
all who have assisted this little monastery
by their presence, their labour, their prayers,
and their material support,
asking her to extend the veil of her holy protection
and perpetual help over them and over their families,
their loved ones, their homes, and their places of work and business.

Receive us, then, all-holy and merciful Mother of Jesus Christ,
as thy servants and as sons of thine own household.
Make thou full use of thy rights and of thy power over us,
and over the temporal and spiritual affairs of this house,
lest thine own honour be mocked,
and thy house looked upon with scorn,
and thy sons derided.

We accept and avow that Thou art our sovereign Lady,
our Abbess, and our Queen,
and by this act pronounced today in view of thy Divine Son,
of the choirs of angels,
of Saint Joseph, Saint John, our father Saint Benedict,
and of all the saints,
we bind ourselves to depend upon thee,
and look to thee for all things.

We renew into thy hands the sacred vows of our baptism,
and those of monastic profession,
asking thee to fashion us into true adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
and consolers of His Eucharistic Heart.

O Holy Mother of God,
we beseech thee with all the humility possible
to take upon thyself the office to which we elect thee today,
and to rule over, protect, and provide for this house
and those who dwell herein now
and in the days to come.

This is the irrevocable, binding, and unanimous desire of thy sons,
in testimony of which, we sign this present act
on the 15th day of August 2012
enjoinIng that it be kept in this monastery in perpetuity
and renewed every year
on the festival of thy glorious Assumption into heaven,
or during the octave thereof. Amen.

An Urgent Request

| | Comments (2)


Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you. (Mark 11:24)
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (Luke 11:9-10).

Life at Silverstream Priory is a day-to-day and hour-to-hour act of trust in Divine Providence. Some would say that living as we do is folly; I maintain that it is the highest wisdom. The other evening as I brought our pressing financial concerns to Our Lord in prayer, these words of the psalmist rose from my heart to my lips:

Trust in the Lord, and do good, and dwell in the land, and thou shalt be fed with its riches. Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. Commit thy way to the Lord, and trust in him, and he will do it. (Psalm 36:3-5)
Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. (Psalm 54:22)

One of the priestly figures in my gallery of heavenly heroes is Father Ernest Lelièvre (1826-1889), the devoted co-worker of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a true friend and father of the destitute elderly. Father Lelièvre wrote:

Père Ernest Lelièvre.jpg

I know that I serve a Master
who values the will of a sincere heart
beyond any talent.
My ignorance counts on His knowledge,
my poverty on His wealth,
my weakness, on HIs strength.
And I know,
and am perfectly certain that,
of all the calculations I could make,
the wisest is to abandon myself to Him.

Renovating Silverstream Priory

The renovation of Silverstream Priory is a daunting task. The work required to make the existing buildings functional and suitable for our purposes is extensive and costly.

We are focusing now on the book store, knowing that once it is open, it will generate income, and the church, knowing that once it is open, it will generate charity, peace, and joy.

Asking for Your Help

At the moment we are in need of funds -- and so we are turning with confidence to Jesus,King of Love. Will you not pray with us, asking Him to provide the funds we need? Here is the prayer that we started saying at the end of the Hours. Please say it with us.

O Jesus, King of Love,
Whose resources are infinite,
Whose Heart is divinely generous,
and to Whom nothing is impossible,
our resources are nought;
we cannot give what we do not have;
and without Thee we can do nothing.
Therefore, in this hour of need,
we place our trust in Thy merciful goodness.

Thou art our Shepherd, O King of Love;
Thy Heart is our unfailing Treasury
and Thy hands dispense inexhaustible treasures
to those who trust in Thy merciful goodness.

Thy most loving Heart is our only recourse.
To whom shall we go in our poverty
if not to Thee, O Jesus, King of Love?

Let Thy merciful goodness hasten to deliver us
for we are hard pressed in our necessities.
We praise Thee for Thy gracious condescension,
and we thank Thee for Thy speedy help,
more certain than the break of day
at the end of the darkness of night.

O Jesus, King of Love,
Thou wilt not disappoint us in our hope,
for we trust now and shall trust always
in Thy merciful goodness. Amen.

Wise Abbatial Counsel

| | Comments (1)


Left: Dom Maurus Wolter, Abbot of Beuron; right: Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes.

The Benedictine Art of Government

The nineteenth century was a springtime of monastic restoration in old Europe. Early in May 1863, Dom Prosper Guéranger, abbot of Solesmes addressed a letter to the young prior of Beuron in Germany, the meticulous and somewhat rigid Dom Maurus Wolter. Dom Guéranger had, at this time, a quarter of a century of experience as founding abbot of Solesmes. He had learned, on his own, how to foster unity of purpose and of means in a community of men from a variety of backgrounds, many of them clerics, and each one having, and sometimes clinging to, his own idea of what monastic life ought to be. Dom Guéranger governed with gentleness, with love, and with an astonishing breadth of view. This is what he wrote . . . personally, I take it to heart here at Silverstream Priory, and try to put it into practice.

Take care of your health; you need it, and it doesn't belong to you.
Making use of every means, foster a holy liberty of spirit among your monks, and do everything to make them love their state of life more than anything else in the world.
Make yourself loved always and in all things. Be a mother rather than a father to your sons.
Imitate the patience of God, and don't demand of spring the fruits of autumn.
Always be approachable to all; avoid etiquette and ceremony. Come as close as you can to the familiarity you have seen practised at Solesmes.
Adapt yourself to everyoe, and don't try to adapt others to yourself, because God created us all different, and you are really the servant of all, like Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Take scrupulous care of the health of each one, and don't wait for a serious infirmity before giving a dispensation.
Establish the observance gradually, and don't be afraid to take a step backwards when you see that you have gone too far.
Don't worry yourself too much about the contacts with the outside world that your religious may have, if they have the spirit of their state, and if it is a question of the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Remember that the spirit of faith is the one and only basis of the monastic life.
Inspire the love of the Sacred Liturgy, which is the centre of all Christianity.
Have your monks study with love the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis, the Annals, and also the history of individual monasteries.
Take care that they study theology, especially Saint Thomas, Canon Law, and Church history.
Finally, strive to increase in your sons love of the Church and of the Holy See.


This morning, following the blessing of the statue of Jesus King of Love at the end of Holy Mass, we made the following Act of Consecration:


we consecrate ourselves to Thee;
and offer to Thy Sacred Heart
all that we have received from Thee:
our life itself,
our strength, and our talents,
our desires, our works, and our humble efforts.
At the same time we offer Thee
our weaknesses and our inconsistencies,
our fears, our failures, and even our sins,
for there is nothing of ours
that Thy merciful love cannot redeem, and heal,
restore, and turn to Thy Father's glory.

Thou hast come to us in Thy image,
and so we come to Thee
to offer Thee what is already Thine:
the church built to Thy glory sixty years ago,
this house and all the constructions adjacent to it,
the entire property of Silverstream,
its fields, its water, its woodlands,
and all Thy creatures therein.

By the light of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the fire of Thy Eucharistic Heart:
make Silverstream entirely Thine:
a little kingdom where Thy Love holds sway,
and in which all are subject to Thee.

O Jesus, King of Love,
make this monastery a hospital for the healing of sick souls,
a safe refuge for fearful and anxious souls,
a welcoming home for poor and restless souls.

Here, O King of Love,
let sinners be converted;
here, let the lukewarm be set ablaze;
here, reveal to Thy friends the secrets of Thy Sacred Heart.

Here, let souls receive the gifts of Thy Divine Friendship:
perseverance in prayer, peace of mind, and purity of heart.
Here, make Thy servants joyful in a shining chastity,
and ardent in an unassailable purity.
Here, raise up those who have fallen,
give light to those who are in darkness,
give courage to those beset by fear.

O King of Love,
so establish the sovereign rule of Thy Heart in this monastery and over it,
that it will become a garden enclosed,
a sanctuary of silence and of peace,
a place of tranquil order, where beauty is at home.

Cast out from this place the powers of darkness,
the enemies of our souls,
the cruel tempters of Thine anointed,
and the bodiless persecutors of those who would live for Thee alone.

Impart to all who live here,
or labour here,
or visit here,
or in any way participate in this monastery's growth,
a share in the incomparable grace of spiritual childhood,
and an unfailing light along the path of confidence
and abandonment to Thy merciful love.

O Jesus, King of Love,
meek and humble of heart,
rule over this, Thy little kingdom;
make all herein the faithful subjects of Thy Love,
the adorers of Thy Eucharistic Face,
and the friends of Thy Eucharistic Heart.

Having lived in Thine intimacy here below,
vouchsafe that we may pass from this life
to the glory of heaven,
there to praise Thy merciful goodness
in the company of Thy Immaculate Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary,
of Saint Joseph, Saint John, Thy Beloved Disciple,
Saint Benedict, Saint Thérèse, Blessed Abbot Marmion,
Thy servant Mother Yvonne-Aimée,
the Holy Angels, and all Thine elect,
forever, and unto the ages of ages.

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