Holy Eucharist: December 2009 Archives

The Heart of Monasticism is Adoration

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This photograph of the church of the Abbazia di San Giovanni dell'Argentella in Italy inspires us to perservere in working toward the construction of our own monastery and church in Tulsa.

Eucharistic Adoration

"The heart of monasticism is adoration." This affirmation of Pope Benedict XVI (on the occasion of his visit to the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz on 9 September 2007) reinforces our conviction that a special dedication to Eucharistic adoration harmonizes itself perfectly with life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The daily celebration of Holy Mass compels us to abide in adoration and sustains in us the desire to respond to love with love. One who adores the Most Blessed Sacrament consents to savour inwardly the sweetness of the Lord. Adoring silence allows the soul to receive the mystery in its immensity. It fosters a heart-to-heart dialogue with the Lord, and effects a gradual but real configuration to His divine sonship, to His priesthood, and to His perpetual state of oblation or victimhood.

In addition to the hour of Eucharistic adoration that follows Vespers, our forma vitae provides each monk with an hour of personal adoration daily. As our numbers grow, this will allow us, God willing, to keep a continuous vigil of adoration before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face.


Prolonged, and eventually perpetual, adoration confesses and glorifies the mystery of Our Lord's real presence in the Sacrament of His Love. It is, at the same time, a mode of participation in the victimhood of Christ. The monk-adorer allows the Holy Spirit to unite him to the oblation of Christ, Priest and Victim, for the same intentions that burned in His Heart on the altar of the Cross: the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. The victimhood of the monk is nothing more than the logical consequence of monastic profession. Saint Benedict mandates that the monk making profession should sign the charter of his vows upon the altar, the place of the Sacrifice of Calvary sacramentally renewed. Then, with hands raised in the form of the Cross, the newly-professed sings his Suscipe, imploring the Father to receive him as a living oblation as Christ himself was received from the altar of the Cross.

The Mass of Life

All of monastic life is, in effect, a Mass: a Mass in which every step, every movement, every word has a precious value, a redeeming worth in the sight of the Father. In the Mass that is daily life, we are called not to a great fidelity to the rubrics, but to a great fidelity to every manifestation of the will of the Father and to every indication of His good pleasure.

The Dilated Heart

This fidelity to the little things in the Mass of daily life implies a constant attention to the Holy Spirit, who unites us to the sacrifice and to the intentions of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest and Spotless Victim. "I came down from heaven," He says, "not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. Now this is the will of Him who sent Me: that of all that He hath given Me, I should lose nothing." (Jn 6:38-39). A monk who allows the Holy Spirit to dilate his heart to the catholic and ecclesial dimensions of the priestly Heart of Jesus and of His Vicar on earth, the Holy Father, will also understand that he is called to participate actively in the victimhood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This he will do by placing himself, day after day, in the wounded hands of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, to be offered with Him to the Father.

Dom Delatte

Lest one think that this Eucharistic hermeneutic of the rites of profession somehow falls outside the mainstream of Benedictine life, consider these compelling insights of Dom Paul Delatte, Abbot of Solesmes, in his commentary on the Holy Rule. Dom Delatte is explaining the significance of the prostration of the newly professed monk before the altar after singing the Suscipe. The abbot writes:

There lies there . . . a living victim, a "pure, holy, and unspotted victim," reunited to the Victim on the altar, offered and accepted with that Victim, and enwrapped by the deacon in the fragrance of the same incense. Then the Mass continues. Motionless and silent, like the Lamb of God, the newly-professed suffers himself to be immolated and consumed mystically by the Eternal High Priest. How sweet that Mass and that Communion! Our whole monastic life should resemble this profession Mass. (Commentary on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict)

Before His Face

The particular "vocation within a vocation," that His Excellency, Bishop Slattery has entrusted to the little embryo of a monastery that we are at present, is one of Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of self-oblation and intercession for priests, for all the priests of the Church, for the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa, and especially for those priests who are most wounded in their souls, exposed to the powers of darkness, or locked in the exhausting struggles of a spiritual combat. We believe that we can best fulfill this mission by remaining faithful to keeping watch before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face, and this within the balanced rhythm of traditional Benedictine life.

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