Relying Always Upon His Grace

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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.
Amen.

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.

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Gratitude

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.

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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

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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.

Silverstream

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.

5 Comments

Ad multos annos!
Your blog has been a lifesaver for me.
May God and His Holy Mother bless you~

What a beautiful story! If it had not been for that dandelion you talk about, we would never have met you. We wouldn't have become Spiritual Mothers praying for our Priests and we wouldn't be trying so hard to take our spiritual life seriously when we pray before the Blessed Sacrament. To this I am very grateful to you and those little seeds that have dropped along the way to Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland! May Our Lord and His Blessed Mother continue to bless you!

Yes, ad multos annos!

This is a striking phrase, "...the obscurity of faith..." echoing maybe, Hebrews 11:1. Please keep blogging (and posting the artwork).

I loved this post, Knock has a special place in my heart! I was able to visit the shrine on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Summer while in Ireland for the International Eucharistic Congress! Days of such grace!! Thanks again for these inspiring posts, you feed more souls than you will ever know while on this side of heaven! :) God bless you!


Dear Father Mark,

I'm another soul who depends on you a lot.
Thank you for your (internet) presence,
Gratefully in Christ,
Agnieszka

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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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