Homilies: October 2012 Archives

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Let us give thanks to God the Father,
who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness
and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love,
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations,
or principalities, or powers.
All things were created by him and in him.
And he is before all: and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy:
Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell:
And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.

(Colossians 1,12-20)

Lyrical, Jubilant, and Soaring

The Epistle of today's Mass for the feast of Christ the King resounds like a classic Roman Preface; it is lyrical, jubilant, soaring, and shot through with a profound thanksgiving for all that the Father has done, in Christ, for His adopted children. The ear of my heart hears it sung to the tone of the Roman Preface. It seems to call for the great conclusion evoking all the angelic choirs, and for the cosmic symphony of the Sanctus.

A Soul Schooled in the Liturgy of the Church

It is an immense grace to become aware of just how often the Roman liturgy places us before God the Father, allowing us to stand in the sight of His Divine Majesty, and giving us words, inspired by the Holy Ghost, to praise Him, bless Him, and give Him thanks for His great glory. A soul schooled in the liturgy of the Church will live at every moment ad Patrem, that is, facing the Father. A soul schooled in the liturgy of the Church will enter into the élan of the Heart of Jesus revealed on every page of the mystical Fourth Gospel: "Just Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee: and these have known that thou hast sent me." (John 17:24-25)

In Sinu Patris

"And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father." (Galatians 4:6) An authentic Catholic piety, the piety of the Bride of Christ, His Church, hides us ever more deeply in the bosom of the Father, in sinu Patris, through the Son, by the secret operations of the Holy Ghost. All the richness of Catholic devotional life passes, ultimately, through the filtre of the sacred liturgy where it joins "the lot of all the saints in light" (Colossians 1:1:1): ad Patrem, per Filium, in Spiritu. Thus, the tenderness we feel for Jesus, King of Love, the confidence His image inspires, the way the devotion to the King of Love softens our hearts and melts our resistances to divine grace -- all of these things carry us along into the powerful stream of the Church's liturgical prayer, and through the liturgy, into the priestly mediation of Christ, who is "always living to make intercession for us." (Hebrews 7:25)

The Church, Spouse of the King

It is the good pleasure of the Father to give us to the Son, to establish us under His sovereign lordship, and to make us subjects of His kingdom. In giving us to His only-begotten and beloved Son, our King, the Father restores order and right worship (orthodoxy) to a world skewed and disoriented by sin.

The Son -- Jesus, the King of Love -- receiving us from the Father, makes us His own by the outpouring of His Blood. He espouse us to Himself as His own Bride upon the marriage bed of the Cross, and so leads us back to the Father, united to Himself as members to their Head, and as the Bride who forms one flesh with Him. Thus do the royal prerogatives of the Son become the royal prerogatives of His Bride, the Church, and of every soul united to the King of Love in the mystic nuptial graces of Baptism and Holy Communion. United in this way to the King, the Church -- the Queen who stands at His right side arrayed in garments finely wrought of gold (Psalm 44:10) -- addresses the Father with a majestic reverence, with a holy boldness, with words and gestures inspired by the Holy Ghost.

O Magnum Pietatis Opus

The sacred liturgy is the magnum pietatis opus of the Kingdom of Christ, that is, the great work of His own tender devotedness to the Father. One who takes upon himself the sweet and easy yoke of submission to the King of Love participates in HIs filial and priestly glorification of the Father. "Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24)

The Opus Dei

The monastery -- be it this little monastery or any other where the King of Love holds sway over all things -- is an inbreaking of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. We experience this inbreaking principally, objectively, and unfailingly, in the Opus Dei, the Work of God that is not so much our work done for God as His work in us and for us, and this through the sacred liturgy. The objectiveness of the Opus Dei trumps all our changing sentiments and human inconstancy, precisely because it is a divine work. Our participation in it, though real, does not make it what it is in the eyes of the Father and in the ears of His clemency. Christ, Priest and King, makes it what it is.

Our part is to come to choir, to take our places, to open our books and our mouths, to stand, to bow, to kneel, and to do all of these things simply and quite imperfectly, in desolation or in consolation, with energy or in a state of weariness, with pious sentiments or without them, believing that the Opus Dei realizes what it announces, makes present what it describes, glorifies the Father in the sanctuary of heaven, and bears fruit in the vineyard of the Church on earth, and all of this because it is a royal action of Christ, Priest and King.

Act of Consecration

At the end of Holy Mass today, we shall renew our Act of Consecration to Jesus, King of Love. This is no mere pious formality. It is a response to the love with which He has first loved us. It is a radical renunciation of all those things to which we cling for an illusory security, so as to live in total reliance on His merciful goodness. It is a participation in His own filial devotedness to the Father: the friends of the King of Love share in all the dispositions and sentiments of His Heart. The Act of Consecration to Jesus, King of Love is not the liturgy, but it echoes the liturgy. It will prolong its grace, and make the work of the liturgy more fruitful in this house and in our souls.

Receive the Olive Branch

Finally, I am going to do something today that I would counsel you to do as well. Receive from the outstretched hand of the King of Love the olive branch that signifies both healing and peace. There is no torment of soul that He cannot calm. There is no suffering that He will not suffuse with redeeming love. There is no wound to which He will not apply the healing balm of the Holy Ghost.

Say to Jesus, King of Love: O Thou, Child King, willingly and confidently will I receive from Thee today all that Thou desirest to give me. Do Thou in me, O King of Love, all that Thou wouldst see accomplished in me, so as to draw out of my nothingness, out of my poverty, out of my struggles, and even out of the wreckage of my sins, peace and beauty for Thy Kingdom, praise for Thy mercies, and glory for Thy Father. Amen."

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Richard to the Rescue

Richard Chonak, Vultus Christi's genial webmaster and a dear friend, was kind enough to put his gifts at our service by translating into English the homily that I delivered in French last Sunday for the Jubilee of Mother Jeanne-Françoise at Saint-James in the Channel region of France. Thank you, dear Richard, for the quality of your work and for the gentle charity of your heart.

Sunday, October 21, 2012
Monastère Saint-Jacques
Homily on the Occasion of the Jubilee of
Mother Jeanne-Françoise de l'Assomption
for the 60th Anniversary of her Monastic Profession
in the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified


My very dear Mother [Jeanne-Françoise], sixty years ago
you gave yourself to Jesus crucified,
saying to Him: Suscipe me, Domine;
that is: "Receive me, Lord,
take me with you on the Cross;
unite me to your sacrifice to the Father;
make of me a single offering
delivered unto the fire of the Holy Spirit
upon the altar of your Heart."

And the Lord answered you:
"I receive you as my spouse:
all that is mine shall henceforth be yours;
I am taking you with me into all my mysteries.
With you I will share my great Passion;
With you I will share my deep wounds;
With you I will share my shedding of blood,
my death suffered in all bitterness,
my descent into Hell,
my awaking on the morning of the Resurrection,
my Face all illumined by the face of the Father,
my ascension to His right hand in glory,
and my hidden, humble, silent life in the Sacrament of my love.
All this is yours because you are mine,
and nothing will ever separate you from my love."

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Dimanche, 21 octobre 2012
Monastère Saint-Jacques
Homélie prononcée à l'occasion du jubilé de 60 ans de profession monastique
dans la Congrégation des Bénédictines de Jésus Crucifié
de Mère Jeanne-Françoise de l'Assomption

Ma très chère mère,
il y a soixante ans,
vous vous êtes donnée à Jésus crucifié,
en lui disant: Suscipe me, Domine,
c'est à dire, "Reçois-moi, Seigneur;
prends-moi avec toi sur la croix;
unis-moi à ton sacrifice au Père;
fais de moi une seule offrande
livrée au feu de l'Esprit-Saint
sur l'autel de ton Coeur."

Et le Seigneur vous a répondu:
"Je te reçois comme épouse:
tout ce qui est à moi sera désormais à toi;
je te prends avec moi dans tous mes mystères.

Avec toi, je partagerai ma grande Passion;
avec toi, je partagerai mes profondes plaies;
avec toi, je partagerai mon effusion de sang,
ma mort soufferte dans toutes les amertumes,
ma descente aux enfers,
mon réveil au matin de la résurrection,
mon regard tout illuminé par le regard de mon Père,
mon ascension à sa droite dans la gloire,
et ma vie cachée, humble, silencieuse
dans le Sacrement de mon amour.

Tout ceci est à toi
parce que tu es à moi,
et rien ne te séparera plus de mon amour."

De même, il y a soixante ans,
vous vous êtes adressée au Père en lui disant:
Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum.
Et il y a quarante ans, vous m'avez expliqué un jour
au Prieuré Saint-Paul
que vous teniez à ce que le mot Verbum
de votre dévise
soit écrit avec le majuscule.
Par cela, vous vouliez signifier
qu'en qualité d'épouse de Jésus crucifié,
vous vouliez être configurée à lui,
rendue semblable au Verbe,
recevoir en vous-même
l'impression ineffaçable de sa sainte Face,
c'est à dire, de son visage tout tourné vers le Père,
de son visage douloureux,
et de son visage glorieux.

En effet, le mystère du visage du Christ,
le mystère de la sainte Face,
demeure au coeur de la vocation de toute épouse de Jésus crucifié.
Et ce visage nous est révélé aujourd'hui
dans la première lecture tirée du Chant du Serviteur,
ou, si vous voulez, de la Passion de Jésus-Christ selon le prophète Isaïe.

"Broyé par la souffrance,
le Serviteur a plu au Seigneur."
Fiat mihi, dites-vous,
secundum Verbum tuum.
--Qu'il me soit fait comme il fut fait au Verbe.
Et Isaïe continue, disant,
"Il a fait de sa vie un sacrifice d'expiation."
Et là encore, en tant qu'épouse de Jésus crucifié,
vous êtes obligée de répondre:
"Qu'il me soit fait comme il fut fait en ton Verbe,
à ton Verbe, et par ton Verbe."

L'expiation n'est autre chose que la réparation,
et qu'est-ce que la réparation sinon l'Amour qui répare,
l'Amour qui répare les dégâts du péché;
l'Amour qui rend pur ce qui a été souillé;
l'Amour qui rend la beauté à ce que le mal a défiguré;
l'Amour qui rend la vie en plénitude
aux âmes que le monde, et la chair, et l'Ennemi entraînent vers la mort.

Votre configuration à Jésus crucifié vous a ouverte, ma mère,
au mystère d'une grande fécondité surnaturelle.
Que de fois vous avez prié:
"Seigneur, je me livre à la puissance de ton amour fécond."
Toute mère reçoit la vie au-dedans d'elle même
pour la mettre au jour,
et puis, ayant mis au monde la vie,
elle dépense sa vie jour après jour,
heure après heure,
avec chaque battement de son coeur,
car le travail d'une mère va jusqu'à la mort,
et au-delà de la mort.
Votre ciel, ma mère, ne sera pas de tout repos,
car vous aurez du travail à faire sur la terre:
dans votre famille, dans votre Congrégation, et en moi.

Il ne faut pas s'étonner, chères soeurs,
de ce que le Seigneur ait répété à son épouse
les paroles qu'il a dites, en premier lieu,
par rapport à sa mère auprès de la croix:
"Femme, voici ton fils"; et puis, "Voici ta mère."

Jésus vous a appelé à la sponsalité et à la maternité.
Lui même n'est pas venu pour être servi, mais pour servir.
Vous, en tant qu'épouse et en tant que mère,
n'êtes pas venue pour être servie, mais pour servir.
Lui a donné sa vie en rançon pour la multitude,
et vous n'avez pas pu faire autrement,
car la vie donnée à la mère
est donnée pour être répandue,
pour être dépensée,
pour être transmise par amour.

Nous nous connaissons, ma mère, depuis quarante ans.
Lorsque je vous ai vue pour la première fois,
vous aviez 49 ans, et moi, j'en avais 21.
Aujourd'hui vous avez 60 ans de vie consacrée, de vie sponsale,
et moi, j'ai 60 ans de vie tout court.
En ceci, je me permets de voir un signe de la providence de Dieu.
C'est comme si votre vie et la mienne
-- votre vie d'épouse et de mère, et ma vie de prêtre --
étaient tressées ensemble par une main virginale
et par le vouloir d'un Coeur immaculé,
celui de Marie, Médiatrice de toutes grâces.

C'est ensemble, donc, pas seulement vous et moi,
mère et fils,
hostie et prêtre,
mais nous, unis à tous ceux qui nous entourent,
à Nanou, à Zizon, à Thérèse, à Florence,
unis à vos soeurs en communauté,
unis à tous ceux qui sont absents,
et unis à tous ceux qui nous ont précédés dans la mort,
que nous offrirons le Saint Sacrifice aujourd'hui.

Nous osons nous présenter devant l'autel
dans l'action de grâces et dans la joie,
parce que "le grand prêtre que nous avons
n'est pas incapable, lui, de partager nos faiblesses en toutes choses;
il a connu l'épreuve comme nous, et il n'a pas péché.
Avançons-nous donc avec pleine assurance
vers le Dieu tout-puissant qui fait grâce
pour obtenir miséricorde,
et recevoir, en temps voulu, la grâce de son secours."
Amen, Alleluia.


Blessed Columba Marmion

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He presents the monastery as a place where the Kingdom of God has already come, a place wherein every weakness can encounter mercy, wherein the human will is directed into the Will of God through the good that is obedience, and wherein every heart of stone, having become a heart of flesh through the grace of compunction, is freed at last to love and to be loved.

A Great Irish Saint

Today is the feast of a great Irish saint! Born and educated in Dublin, Joseph Marmion served as a parish priest and seminary professor before becoming a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. Dom Columba Marmion was elected of Abbot of Maredsous in 1909. He chose to receive the Abbatial Blessing on Rosary Sunday. It fell that year on October 3rd. When Pope John Paul II beatified Abbot Columba Marmion in 2000, the liturgical memorial of the new Blessed was fixed on the date of his Abbatial Blessing, rather than on the day of his death, January 30th.

John Paul II

In 1985 Pope John Paul II visited Belgium. When the papal helicopter flew over the Abbey of Maredsous on the way from Brussels to Beauraing, the Holy Father confided to one of his aides: “I owe more to Columba Marmion for initiating me into things spiritual than to any other spiritual writer.” The saints engender saints, and this in every age.

Cardinal Mercier, and Others

Cardinal Mercier, the holy Archbishop of Malines in Belgium and a contemporary of the Abbot wrote, after reading Christ, the Life of the Soul: “The perfume of Holy Scripture, to be breathed in at each page of this volume, gives the impression that it was conceived and prepared during prayer, at the foot of the altar, before being given to the public.” Pope Benedict XV kept the writings of Abbot Marmion close at hand and recommended them to the saintly head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Metropolitan Andrei Sheptitsky of Lviv, saying: “Read this, it is the pure doctrine of the Church.”

A Lad Reads Marmion

My own introduction to Abbot Marmion came when I was fifteen years old. I was visiting Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. Father Marius Granato, O.C.S.O., charged at that time with helping young men -- even very young men -- seek God, put Christ, the Ideal of the Monk into my hands. He even let me take the precious green-covered volume home with me. With all the ardour of my fifteen years I devoured it. No book had ever spoken to my heart in quite the same way.

I read and re-read Christ, the Ideal of the Monk. At fifteen one is profoundly marked by what one reads. The impressions made on a soul at that age determine the course of one’s life. As I pursued my desire to seek God, I relied on Abbot Marmion. I chose him not only as my monastic patron, but also as my spiritual father, my intercessor, and my guide.

A Good Spiritual Director

If you are looking for a good spiritual director, choose Blessed Columba Marmion. His books are being re-edited in attractive, revised translations that present his timeless doctrine in all its freshness and beauty. From his place in heaven he remains attentive to souls and ready at every moment to direct them to Christ.

Goodness and Humour

Those who knew Dom Marmion bore witness to the vivacity of his Irish temperament and to his marvelous sense of humour, capable of humanizing even the most solemn occasions. He showed an immense goodness as abbot and priest; he had a special place in his heart for the poor, the little ones, and those wounded by life. He sought always to bring happiness to people, allowing the best human qualities to flourish. “Grace,” he often affirmed, “does not destroy nature, nor does it suppress one’s personality.”

As a novice, Columba suffered under the direction of a Master of Novices who was singularly lacking in human warmth. He never forgot this and, later in his monastic life when he was entrusted with positions of authority, he did everything possible to be jovial, joyful, and full of compassionate sympathy in his relations with others. He did this in spite of long periods of spiritual darkness, even as he struggled through the seasons of depression that marked his whole life.

Devotion to the Way of the Cross

Abbot Marmion tried always to bear his burdens of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering without allowing them to become a weight on others. All his life, he was intensely devoted to the Passion of Christ, making the Way of the Cross every day. His meditations on the Way of the Cross in Christ in His Mysteries are, to my mind, unequalled.

Participation in Our Lord's Redemptive Passion

Blessed Columba entered deeply into the sentiments of Our Lord's Sacred Heart. Through the writings of Saint John and Saint Paul, he contemplated the Face of Christ set toward the Father's perfect will, the fulfillment of the Father's saving design of love, the Father's promise of glory. Thus did he come to see his own sufferings of body, mind, and spirit as participation in the redemptive sufferings of Christ.

The Word of God

Blessed Abbot Marmion had the gift of teaching souls to relish the Word of God. In his own experience, Sacred Scripture was, first of all, proclaimed, chanted, heard, held in the heart, and prayed, in the context of the liturgy. His astonishing familiarity with the Bible came to him not by way of study but through the Divine Office, the daily round of the Opus Dei, the Work of God celebrated in choir.

A Theology That Adores

Dom Marmion attributed to the words of the Bible the grace of a particular unction: something penetrating, a kind of sacramentality that puts us in communion with Christ himself, the Word before whom every human tongue falls silent. It was recounted that when Dom Marmion taught theology to the young monks, they would leave the classroom after his lectures in a reverent silence and go directly to the choir to adore. This is monastic theology!

The Soul of the Liturgy

As a spiritual father, Blessed Columba insisted on the primacy of the liturgy. Well before the Second Vatican Council, he preached the liturgy as "source and summit" of the life of the Church. He quenched his thirst for God in drinking directly from the liturgy's pure wellsprings and led a great number of Christians to do the same. Dom Lambert Beauduin, another father of the classic Liturgical Movement, wrote concerning Abbot Marmion: "He revealed to us the soul of the liturgy; by this I mean all the elements of doctrine and of life, that the liturgy reserves for us beneath the visible veil of its rites and symbols."

Christ, the Ideal of the Monk

In his book, Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, Blessed Columba generated a movement of return to the Rule of Saint Benedict and offered a re-reading of the text capable of irrigating the monastic life of every generation. His vision of Benedictine life is profoundly human and profoundly supernatural. He presents the monastery as a place where the Kingdom of God has already come, a place wherein every weakness can encounter mercy, wherein the human will is directed into the Will of God through the good that is obedience, and wherein every heart of stone, having become a heart of flesh through the grace of compunction, is freed at last to love and to be loved. He presents the abbot at the service of his brothers as a Father, as a Spirit-bearing Doctor, and as the Pontiff, the one who assembles the community to pass over into Christ's own worship of the Father.

The Most Holy Eucharist

Let us seek the intercession of Blessed Columba Marmion today for ourselves and for each other. He will obtain for us the grace of fixing our gaze on the Face of Christ set toward all that the Father wills, toward the mystery of the Cross through which joy has come into the world. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, the Life of the Soul. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ in His Mysteries. The Most Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, the Ideal of the Monk. How blessed we are to be called, with Abbot Marmion and all the saints, to the Banquet of the Lamb.

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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