Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle: 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.

Victimhood

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.


Brother Juan Diego: From Pop Rock to Gregorian Chant

On Monday, 7 December, following First Vespers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Diego Merizalde, in religion, Brother Juan Diego Maria de San Jose, received the monastic habit and so began his noviceship. Brother Juan Diego, 28 years old, is a native of Ecuador and lived, most recently, in Miami, Florida where he studied at the archdiocesan Seminary of Saint John Vianney. Brother Juan Diego is a soccer enthusiast. Before pursuing his vocation, he performed as a Latino pop rock singer!

Brother Juan Diego heard the call to pursue Benedictine life as an Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Diocese of Tulsa on the feast of Saint Sharbel, 24 July 2009. He humbly asks for the prayers of the readers of Vultus Christi as he engages on the monastic battlefield under the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Three priests of the diocese, the Reverend Fathers Timothy Davison, Michael Dodd, and Elkin Gonzalez chanted Vespers with us and witnessed Dom Mark's conferral of the habit on Brother Juan Diego.

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I do not trust in any strength of my own, for I have experienced my weakness. But, trusting in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and confident in the mercy of God, I desire with all my heart to do battle under the Rule of Saint Benedict.

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May the Lord strip you of the old man and his deeds.

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The Tunic

May Our Lord Jesus Christ so clothe you with His grace, that you may share by patience in His sufferings, and bear inwardly the image of His Face. Amen.

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The Cincture

May Our Lord Jesus Christ gird you with the cincture of a perfect chastity in honour of His Immaculate Mother, of Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse, and of Saint John, His beloved virgin disciple, that you may follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes. Amen.

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The Scapular

Receive the yoke of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for He is meek and humble of heart. Thus will you find rest for your soul, for His yoke is easy and His burden light. Amen.

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"And you my child, will be known for a prophet of the Most High, going before the Lord, to clear His way before Him." (Lk 1:76)

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"This man will receive a blessing from the Lord and obtain mercy from God his Saviour, for he is of the generation of those who seek the Lord." (Ps 23: 5-6)

Letter to a Soon-to-be Novice

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Second Sunday of Advent

My dear son,

Listening to the Liturgy

You have often heard me say that the sacred liturgy is, first of all, God's word addressed to us. Through the liturgy, Our Lord Jesus Christ addresses His Bride and Body, the Church, and, through the liturgy He speaks to each of us individually. If we incline the ear of our hearts to Him, we will hear His voice and His words will become for us seeds of holiness sown in our souls, promising a harvest of good fruits.

Putting on Christ

Tomorrow evening, after First Vespers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you will be clothed in the monastic habit that symbolizes your firm resolve to put on Christ and to walk in newness of life. You will be enrolled officially in the school of the Lord's service to learn the Rule of our blessed father Saint Benedict, and to put it into practice day by day.

Introit

It almost seems as if today's Mass was prepared just for you, in view of this next step in your monastic journey. You belong to the "people of Sion" addressed in the Introit. The Introit contains a wonderful promise, a promise that you must claim for yourself today: "The Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard, in the joy of your heart." Is this not why our father Saint Benedict begins his Holy Rule by saying, "Hearken, my son, to the precepts of the master and incline the ear of thy heart" (RB Pro)?

Collect

In the Collect, we ask the Father to "stir up our hearts to prepare the ways of His only-begotten Son, that through His advent, we may attain to serve the Father with purified minds." In this context, "to serve" -- servire -- means to worship, or to offer the sacrifice of praise. Today, this prayer is for you! Ask the Father to stir up your heart to prepare the ways of His Son, the Bridegroom of your soul -- your Redeemer, your Healer, and your King -- that by the grace of His advent, that is, His coming to you in Word and in Sacrament, you may be numbered among the "adorers in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:23) whom the Father desires.

Epistle

The Epistle invites you to be steadfast and patient in the practice of lectio divina. "What things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the consolation of the Scriptures, we might have hope" (Rom 15:4). The novitiate will be a time of trial calling you to a humble patience, a patience that rests upo your trust in God's merciful love. At the same time, you will have the consolation of the Scriptures hour after hour, day after day, and week after week. Learn to seek and to find your consolation in the Word of God. If you do that, you will always have hope.

Saint Paul also says, "Now the God of patience and comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ; that with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:5-6). We will be of one mind because we are learners in the same school, the "school of the Lord's service," and because the Rule of Saint Benedict will be the principal object of your study and reflection all throughout the year that lies ahead of you. A man who allows himself to be changed and shaped by the Rule of Saint Benedict becomes a human doxology, a man fully alive whose entire being expresses the praise of God's glory, through Christ Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.

The Epistle ends with a wish that is, in effect, a prayer: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost" (Rom 15:13). If anything is to characterize your noviceship, let it be this: "hope, and the power of the Holy Ghost."

Gradual and Alleluia

The Gradual contains this promise: "Out of Sion, the loveliness of His beauty, God shall come manifestly." The loveliness of the beauty of God that comes forth from Sion is, first of all the Immaculate Virgin Mary. She is the radiant image of the loveliness of the beauty of God. Contemplating Mary, we see already what God desires for the Church, the Bride of Christ, and for each soul. The humiliating struggles of the novice, his application to study, to prayer, to obedience, and to silence are the very things that allow the loveliness of the beauty of God to emerge in his soul. There is no more effective way to cooperate with this than by fixing your gaze upon Mary, the tota pulchra, the all-lovely, and by consecrating yourself to her. With Mary, you will learn to sing at every stage of your monastic pilgrimage: "I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord" (Ps 121:1).

Gospel

In the Gospel, Our Lord calls Saint John the Baptist the "angel sent before His Face to prepare His way before Him." In a way analogous to the mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mission of Saint John the Baptist will continue until the end of time. Wherever Christ is about to be manifested, John is present. He is charged with readying souls for the advent of the King. He does this by interceding for us from His place in heaven, and by obtaining for us the grace to gaze upon the Lamb of God, and to follow him. Saint John the Baptist is the patron of every novitiate.

Offertory

In the Offertory Antiphon, you will ask Our Lord to show you His mercy. He does this by turning toward you His Eucharistic Face. One who gazes upon the Face of Our Lord with the eyes of faith receives His mercy and experiences His salvation. There is healing in the radiance of His Face.

Secret

The Secret Prayer will remind you (and me too) that we have no merits to plead for us. We have nothing that might allow us to bargain with God. We have only our poverty, and when we go before Him it is with empty hands. God, however, finds empty hands irresistible. You can be confident of receiving His grace so long as your remain poor and humble and empty-handed before Him.

Communion Antiphon and Postcommunion

The Communion Antiphon invites you to arise and to stand in readiness for the joy that comes to you from God. "Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God" (Bar 5:4; 4:36). This is Our Lord's promise: "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you" (Jn 16:22). So long as you keep your gaze fixed on the Face of Our Lord, you will be able "to appraise rightly the things of earth and love those of heaven" (Postcommunion). Thus joy will have the last word. I want you to be a joyful novice, and for this reason, I exhort you to look, not at yourself, but at the Face of Our Lord and at the beauty of His Immaculate Mother, the Cause of Our Joy.

He Who Comes

Today and tomorrow you will have ample opportunity to behold the joy that comes to you from God. Be anxious about nothing. Be steadfast in hope. You will not be disappointed because He who comes is faithful.

In lumine vultus Iesu,
Father Prior

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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