Personal Musings: September 2010 Archives

Days of Grace

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I have always experienced the last days of September and the first week of October (September 29 -- October 7) as a moment of spiritual enchantment within the Church Year. Is it the intoxicating effect of Saint Michael's Summer with the peculiar quality of its light? Is it the procession of saints that passes before our eyes, or should I say, through our hearts? These are days almost excessively rich in grace.

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael descend first on September 29th, in a cloud of incense and a blaze of light. Christ Himself is all their beauty: decus angelorum. Ask them to teach you to gaze with faith and with holy desire upon the Face of Christ, the Human Face of God.

Saint Jerome follows on the 30th, absorbed in the Scriptures, with his lion plodding sleepily along beside him, stopping only for those who need a word of encouragement in the labour of lectio divina. Ask him to obtain for you the grace to practice lectio divina as a Holy Communion with Christ.

On October 1st a young Carmelite smiles: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Doctor of the Church. As she passes she lets roses fall; she says nothing, but in her eyes shines a message of confidence for the sinners whose company she has always preferred. Ask her for an increase of hope.

The Holy Guardian Angels makes themselves very close on the 2nd; they shine with the reflected glory of the Father's Face. They are grand, strong, fearless, and faithful. Ask them to wake you to the adorable presence of God at every moment and in every place.

On the 3rd there arrives an Irish Benedictine Abbot, ruddy-faced and stout, wreathed in smiles. It is Blessed Columba Marmion, destined to become, I think, the Doctor of Divine Adoption. There is no better spiritual director than Blessed Abbot Marmion. Ask for his counsel. Read his books. Learn his doctrine.

October 4th is ablaze with the Fire and Blood of Love Crucified; Saint Francis of Assisi is weeping. "Love is not loved," he says and, as every tear drop falls it becomes a splash of perfect joy. Ask that the Wounds of Christ be impressed deep within your heart.

On October 5th there arrives a bespectacled, bearded gentleman holding a rosary. His name is Blessed Bartolo Longo, the Apostle of Pompei. Set free by the Holy Mother of God from the most frightful bondage to Satan, he emerged from a place of great darkness into a place of purity and light. Ask him for the grace of a deep and abiding devotion to the Most Holy Rosary.

Saint Bruno passes on the 6th: silent, enclosed in the immensity God. He is the friend of all who, by choice or by circumstances, live alone. Ask him to teach you the secrets of his solitude.

Finally on October 7th, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Victory, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary appears beautiful as a dove, like a rose growing by the rivers of water, mighty like to the tower of David whereupon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary decapitates pride. It quiets the most violent passions and restores purity to hearts steeped in sin. It defeats armies and puts down the assaults of hell. It bestows the grace of ceaseless prayer. Ask the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary for the grace to cling to her by clinging to the humble prayer she so loves.

A Little Boy and the Statue He Loved

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Michael Dennis Kirby
March 20, 1959 -- November 25, 1998

Michael's Statue

When I was growing up, there was a statue of Saint Vincent de Paul in the bedroom of my younger brother Michael, and it was his statue.

Little Michael had shortened Saint Vincent de Paul's rather long name to “Saint-Vincent-de.” He met “Saint Vincent-de” when he was taken to the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut for a surgical procedure on his arm. He couldn’t have been more than five years old at the time. Saint Raphael’s was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ), spiritual daughters of Saint Vincent.

The Saint Who Loved Children

A lifesize statue of Saint Vincent de Paul figured prominently in the hospital. The statue depicted him with three poor children; one child was in his arms and the two others were huddled in the folds of his cloak. For some reason, little Michael was very taken with this saint who loved children, and wanted to have a statue of his own.

Mom and Dad found exactly the right statue at the Saint Thomas More Book Shop on Chapel Street in New Haven, and bought it for him. For many years “Saint Vincent-de” watched over Michael from atop a chest of drawers, becoming chipped and battered, but no less loved.

How did a seventeenth century French priest become a comforting presence in the life of a little boy in New Haven, Connecticut? There were, of course, the obvious mediations: the Hospital of Saint Raphael and the impressive statue. But none of this would have happened had Saint Vincent de Paul not opened his heart to the Word of God, to the Charity of Jesus Christ, and to the voices of the little and the poor.

Images of the Saints

How important a Catholic work it is to make images of the saints available to little children. Holy Images -- what Adé Béthune, following Saint Leo the Great, called "sacred signs" -- can powerfully influence their lives, and stimulate their imaginations to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful. Every little boy should have his favourite saint, and an image of him (or her) close at hand.

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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