Therefore They Shall Be Holy

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The Novena Revisited

I thought it might be helpful to "revisit" the Novena Prayer that some of us have been saying for the past nine days for the forthcoming work of the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The antiphon, drawn from the liturgy of the feast of Corpus Christi, refers to the Church's pressing need of priests devoted to fostering holiness in their brother priests and deacons.

Antiphon: The Priests shall be holy;
for the offerings of the Lord made by fire,
and the bread of their God, they do offer,
therefore they shall be holy. (Leviticus 21:6)

From the Altar and For the Altar

If the priests of the Old Covenant were called to holiness, what can be said of the priests of the New Covenant? The so-called reform of the clergy is nothing less than the configuration of every bishop, priest, and deacon to the holiness of Jesus Christ, Son, Servant, Priest, and Victim. This is no human endeavour. It is the work of the Holy Spirit -- working in collaboration with Mary, His Immaculate Spouse -- from the altar, and for the altar.


The Collect, by evoking Saint Peter Julian Eymard, effectively describes a vocation or, if you will, a particular charism: that of consecration to the spiritual renewal of the priesthood in a life of Eucharistic adoration. The priest-adorer, as well the brother-adorer called to monastic life in a Cenacle, will prefer nothing whatsoever to keeping watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Their adoration, rythmed by the Hours of the Divine Office, nourished by lectio divina, and purified by frequent Confession, will spring from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and flow back into it.

O God, Who through the preaching and example of Saint Peter Julian Eymard,
didst renew the priesthood of Thy Church in holiness
and inflame many souls with zeal
for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
we beseech Thee, through his intercession,
to gather priests of one mind and one heart,
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof,
to keep watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face
of Thine Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to abide before His Open Heart,
in reparation for those who forsake Him, hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
and in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream
from the Sacred Mysteries of His Body and Blood.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.


They will abide before the Open Heart of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar, first of all, in reparation for those priests who forsake His company and flee from His presence. They will adore, too, in reparation for the outrages, irreverence, coldness, and indifference that is the response of so many to the Sacramentum Caritatis.

Thanksgiving and Supplication

Their adoration will be more than reparation; it will be thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream from the Sacred Mysteries of our Lord's Body and Blood, and persevering supplication for the healing and sanctification of the Church's bishops, priests, and deacons.

Cum Maria Contemplemur Christi Vultum

All of this, of course, will unfold in due time and bear fruit only if it is consecrated and entrusted to Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Cenacle and Mediatrix of All Graces. No one better models the life of an adorer than Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved and entrusted to His Immaculate Mother. It is in the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary that, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II said, one learns to contemplate the Face of Christ.

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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.

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