Per singulos dies

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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.

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Instruction

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.

Study

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

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


6 Comments

Fr. Mark

I've been intending to send you and your postulants our best wishes for the new monastic foundation. It's great news.

Let us know when you get ready for oblates!

Pax

Ron Moffat

Greeting cousin, I've been thinking about you lately. I hope you're well!

You say you sing Laudes a capitulo. I know that is a common monastic practice from the past. Was it ever a practice to sing conventual mass or any other mass, from the preface on? It seems to me if it can be done for the office, why not the mass? I look forward to your response. JL

Dear JL, Concerning singing Laudes a capitulo: we are doing this only because it takes time to teach the chant to brothers who are newly come to monastic life. With time, step by step, we will arrive at being able to sing all of Lauds. Our current practice is provisional. I have never heard of singing Mass from the preface on, although today anything is possible with all the options of the reformed Missal. For our part, we prefer to recite the Ordinary and Proper parts of our Mass (Extraordinary Form) until we are able to sing them with serenity and ease.

I think reading this article cost me about $50 at the Abbey shop

Your reflections under "Little by Little" are timely for the postulants, but also for each one of us. We all need to immerse ourselves deeper into the rhythm of the life God has chosen us for. How beneficial it will be for our family to set up our own "rule," borrowing bits and pieces from the rich monastic tradition & other sources. Then, little by little, make the small adjustments so our home & family continues to become the domestic church it so needs to be.
We continue to offer our humble prayers. And it is with faith we know as the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle grows in fullness, the blessings shall extend far beyond its walls.
In Christ,
Jen

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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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