Letter to a Novice Oblate (II)

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My dear daughter in Christ,

Praying at Home

Recently, you asked me how you, as wife and mother, with children to look after from morning 'til night seven days a week, can enter into our monastery's charism of adoration and reparation. It will be many years, I think, before you will have the freedom to spend any significant amount of time in adoration before the Tabernacle, or before the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance.

Your Divine Office

Your duty now, and the expression of your love for God, is to be fully present to your family. Your "Divine Office" is to cook, and clean, and change dirty diapers, and run errands, and keep the littlest ones amused, and find time to listen to the older children, and to bandage cuts, and look after bruises, and welcome guests -- and every now and then -- to steal a moment or two alone with your husband. Is this incompatible with your desire as an Oblate of our monastery to offer yourself to Our Lord in adoration, in reparation, and in supplication for the holiness of priests?

Think of Me and I Will Think of You

Mother Mectilde de Bar gives a helpful teaching in a conference she pronounced in 1694 for the feast of the Epiphany. This is what the great Benedictine mystic says:

To adore continually it is not necessary to be saying, "My God, I adore You." It is enough to tend inwardly to God who is present, to maintain a profound respect out of reverence for His greatness, believing that He is in us, even as He truly is. In fact, the Most Holy Trinity abides in us. The Father acts and operates in us by His power, the Son by His wisdom; and the Holy Spirit by His goodness. It is therefore in the most intimate part of your soul, where this God of majesty resides, that you must adore Him continually.
Every now and again place your hand on your heart saying to yourself: --God is in me. And He is there, not only to sustain my physical life, as He does in irrational creatures, but He is there acting and operating, so as to raise me to the highest perfection, if I put no obstacle in the way of His grace.
Imagine that He is saying to you interiorly: -- I am always in you; you remain always in Me. Think of Me, and I will think of you, and I will take care of all the rest. Be wholly at My disposal, as I am at yours. Live not apart from Me. As Scripture says: "One who eats Me will live by Me; he will abide in Me, and I in him" (John 6:58; 6:57).

God Awaits Us in the Real

One does not become a perpetual adorer by forcing oneself to say certain prayers until one gets a headache trying to fit them all in, or by closing one's eyes on the world and pretending to be alone. God awaits us in the real, not in some unattainable ideal. He is always present in us, present to us, present for us. He is not in some remote place light years away. Make a habit of adoring the Three Divine Persons living in the secret sanctuary of your soul, and in the souls of your little ones. Many years ago, when my brother Terence (now the father of three children) was a tiny newly-baptized infant, I would steal into his room at odd moments, place my head on his little chest, and adore the Most Holy Trinity present in him, as truly as in heaven.

Shooting Arrow-Like Prayers

Another thing you can do, from time to time -- taking care not to force yourself or strain your mind -- is to lift your heart and mind to God in swift arrow-like prayers shot straight into the Heart of Jesus. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus!" "My God and my all!" "To be near Thee, O God, is my happiness." "Jesus, King of Love, I place my trust in Thy merciful goodness." You will find that verses of the psalms will emerge from your memory bank: just the right word at the right time. "Save me, O God, for the waters have risen to my neck!" "My God, my mercy!"

Strings of Hail Marys

You can also, here and there, say strings of Hail Marys without keeping count, giving them to Our Blessed Mother to sort out and organize into something resembling a proper Rosary. This is a practice pleasing to her Maternal Heart.

The Hour of Adoration at Home and at Work

I would recommend another little practice as well. You may find that in the course of the day you do, in fact, have one or two minutes of quiet, sometimes at the same hour each day. It may be during the childrens' nap time or playtime. You can use these few minutes to set in motion a full hour of adoration and reparation that will not, in any way, distract you from your duties or keep you from attending to whatever surprises may come your way. This is, in fact, the method of the "Guard of Honour" that was promoted with great success in France during the first half of the last century. The "Guard of Honour" motivated ordinary people to consecrate one hour of their ordinary day to adoration of Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love, without stopping what they were doing, and without going off to church.

A 40 Second Prayer

Here is a prayer that I wrote for this purpose. It takes exactly 40 seconds to say. Over time, it can be memorized. Use it to mark the beginning of your hour of adoration and reparation and, then, go about your business, trusting that Our Lord has heard your prayer and received it into His Heart.

Lord Jesus Christ, although I cannot, during this hour, approach Thee physically in the Sacrament of Thy Love, I would approach Thee by desire and by faith.
Transport me, I beseech Thee, by the lifting up of my mind and heart, to that tabernacle in the world where Thou art, at this hour, most forsaken, utterly forgotten, and without human company.
Let the radiance of Thy Eucharistic Face so penetrate my soul that by offering Thee adoration and reparation, even as I am busy doing ordinary things in an ordinary way, I may obtain from Thy Sacred Heart the return of at least one priest to the Tabernacle where Thou waitest for him today. Amen.

Pray Always and Never Lose Heart

I wrote this prayer for my Oblate sons and daughters, but anyone can say it at any time. I would be happy to see it spread to many Catholic homes, to places of work and business, to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, prisons, and waiting rooms.

This letter is, I fear, already too long. It presents you, nonetheless, with a few practices by which the spirit of our little monastery can find expression in your life just as it is. "Pray always," then, "and never lose heart" (Luke 18:1).

With my affection and my blessing,
In lumine vultu Iesu,

Father Prior

8 Comments

Dear Fr. Mark,

Thank you so much for this beautiful letter! I have been trying to spend ten minutes in silent gratitude before the tabernacle after every Mass. As a working mother it has been very difficult and I find that I am more stressed than peaceful. It doesn't feel like a very good gift to offer the Lord when I give it with a resentful heart. Your ideas here are very sound and I know that I can easily carry out adoration towards the Lord within my daily tasks by following your advice.

Thank you, Father, for these directions, at once illuminating, inspiring and practical for those of us oblates with families to raise.

Will I still be able to read beautiful advice like this when you move to Ireland? All my life whenever I find something or someone good, poof- gone.

Thank you, Father Mark, for those clear, practical and do-able suggestions.

After I "re-discovered" the Eucharist nothing has been the same anymore. It's taken me a long time to figure out what to do and how to go about my "normal" life.
I couldn't figure out how to balance my desire to pray (as intense and physical as hunger and thirst), and doing household chores.
There's been a lot of desperation in my fight there, and I've been guilty of selfishness - towards the Lord and my family.
I thank the Lord for his inexhaustible patience and company and mercy. He does indeed make all things new.

Father Mark, you are the best spiritual director!
Gratefully,
Agnieszka

Yes, yes, Vultus Christi will continue from our new monastery in Ireland! The blessing of the internet!

Thank you, Father,that was so useful! I am so very grateful to you!

Sorry, Father, I forgot to sign, the message with being very grateful was from

Mariana

Thank you for this beautiful instruction! Tears of relief sprang to my eyes even before I finished.

This I will spread with joy to all who will receive it from me!

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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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