Personal Musings: July 2007 Archives

Overflowing Thanksgiving

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Ireland

Reflecting on my recent pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, Ireland, I understand that the grace given me there had to with thanksgiving more than anything else. The priest who heard my confession at Knock exhorted me to give thanks for everything. A few days later, the saintly abbess of the Drumshanbo Monastery of Perpetual Adoration in County Leitrim repeated the same message, saying quite simply that it was the Lord's word to me: give thanks for all things, be grateful. As a result of these two counsels given me in Ireland, I have found myself praying very often in thanksgiving for all that God has permitted or ordained in my life, from the moment of my conception right up to the present.

A Monastery of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving prolongs the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and goes hand in hand with adoration and reparation. Convinced of this, a correspondent of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, named Virginie Danion, was inspired in 1869 to establish a Monastery of Thanksgiving in the Morbihan in Brittany. Miss Danion saw that, while many souls were drawn to adoration and reparation before the Blessed Sacrament, few were drawn to thanksgiving. The words of Jesus to the leper made clean pierced her heart: "Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God but this stranger" (Lk 17:17-18).

Encouraged by Saint Peter Julian, Mademoiselle Danion and a few companions consecrated themselves to a life of uninterrupted thanksgiving before the Blessed Sacrament. Several years ago the remnant of the Community of Thanksgiving was amalgamated with the Congregation of the Filles de Jésus of Kermaria. Has its distinctive charism of thanksgiving disappeared? I would love to know what has become of the monastery.

I Thank You for Everything

Preaching a retreat last week to the Bridgettines in Connecticut, I invited them to do the same: to give thanks always, everywhere, and for all things. Their foundress, Blessed Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad prayed:

O my God, I thank You for everything You have given me,
I thank You for everything You refuse me,
and for everything You take away from me.

Grace Bestowed in Abundance

I write this brief note today because the last line of the Epistle at today's Mass (2 Corinthians 4:7-15) is this: "Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God."

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Yesterday I returned from preaching a retreat to the Bridgettine Sisters (Order of the Most Holy Saviour) at the Convent of Saint Birgitta, Vikingsborg, in Darien, Connecticut. Saint Birgitta's overlooks a charming inlet of the Long Island Sound. I was without an internet connection all week!

I delivered my conferences without extensive written notes, having only my Bible in hand, and the Constitutions of the Order. The grace of "holy preaching" comes easily when the hearts of one's hearers are open and eager to receive the Word. What were the subjects addressed?

Compunction, Conversion, and Reparation
Gratitude
Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience
Eucharistic Adoration
The Sacred Wounds of Christ
The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Bridgettines in Darien — three Indians, three Mexicans, and one Italian — are admirable in their fervour, their simplicity, and their joy. The chant of the Hours imparts a characteristically monastic rhythm to their day. In addition to the Divine Office, the Bridgettines devote a significant amount of time each day to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. The Sisters' work of ecumenical hospitality has been somewhat curtailed since the fire that ravaged their guesthouse last July 11th. Restoration of the lovely old house is still in progress.

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I began each retreat conference with a prayer of Saint Birgitta of Sweden. It is a prayer that I cherish. Pray it, and you will know why:

O Lord, make haste and illumine the night.
Say to my soul
that nothing happens without Your permitting it,
and that nothing of what You permit is without comfort.
O Jesus, Son of God,
You Who were silent in the presence of Your accusers,
restrain my tongue
until I find what should say and how to say it.
Show me the way and make me ready to follow it.
It is dangerous to delay, yet perilous to go forward.
Answer my petition and show me the way.
I come to You as the wounded go to the doctor in search of aid.
Give peace, O Lord, to my heart.

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

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