Priesthood: January 2010 Archives

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Nine

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Blessed Columba's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

For those who already know of Blessed Columba Marmion's friendship and frequent spiritual exchanges with Désiré-Joseph Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926), it will come as no surprise that the Abbot of Maredsous, like the Primate of Belgium, stood in the vanguard of the mariological and liturgical movement that sought to recognize and venerate Our Blessed Lady as the Mediatrix of All Graces. Dom Marmion's reflections on the universal mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while expressed with sobriety in carefully measured theological terms, are no less compelling than those of Cardinal Mercier. Both prelates promoted and lived a filial consecration to Our Lady that expressed an entire dependence on her all-powerful maternal supplication.

The Ninth Day of the Novena
Saturday, 30 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

God willed to give His Son to men only through Mary; so, likewise, He wills that all graces should come to them through Mary. As Bossuet put it very effectively: "As God once willed to give us Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin, and as the gifts of God are irrevocable, there will be no change in this order. It is and always will be true that, having received, through the charity of Mary, the universal principle of all grace, we shall continue to receive through her mediation the various applications of that grace in all the divers circumstances which make up the Christian life."
The Lord is therefore pleased when we invoke Our Lady as the mediatrix of His pardon and of His benefits. She is our advocate for His mercy. Her prayers and her merits constitute an intercession for us which is unceasing, so that for centuries Christian piety has proclaimed her "The all-powerful suppliant": Omnipotentia supplex.

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When we cast ourselves at the feet of Our Lady, we can say to her, "I am a priest . . . turn towards me your merciful countenance"; Mary sees in us, not only a member of the Mystical Body of her Son, but a minister of Jesus who shares in His priesthood. She sees her divine Son in us and cannot reject us; it would be to reject Jesus Himself. The priest can repeat, with even more confidence than the simple Christian, those beautiful words: "It is a thing unheard of that anyone who had recourse to thy protection and implored thy assistance was left forsaken."
When you feel that you are plunged into an abyss of misery, recall to mind the words of Saint Bernard: "When you feel the breath of temptation passing over your soul . . . invoke Mary . . . if you are troubled by the remorse of conscience, frightened by the thought of the judgment, if you are sinking into the depths of sorrow or discouragement, think of Mary: Mariam cogita."
. . . I would like to make this final point. Before drawing His last breath, Jesus entrusted His Mother to Saint John. In this moment of unique solemnity He gave His disciple a legacy which was supremely precious. And what was the reaction of the apostle, the priest to whom Jesus confided the care of His mother? As a son, "he took her for his own": Accepit eam in sua (Jn 19, 27).
Let us also take Mary for our own, as a son full of affection receives his mother; let us dwell with her, that is to say, let us associate her in our works, in our troubles, in our joys. Does she not desire, more than anyone else, to help each one of us become a holy priest and to reproduce in himself the virtues of Jesus?

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Eight

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Blessed Abbot Marmion's entire chapter XIV, entitled The Divine Office, in Christ, the Ideal of the Priest deserves to be studied, and meditated, and brought to prayer. I never tire of re-reading it. For this next to the last day of our novena in preparation for the anniversary of Blessed Marmion's holy death, I chose but a few paragraphs from a chapter that is, from beginning to end, pure gold.

The Eighth Day of the Novena
Friday, 29 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

The primary object of the Divine Office is to praise God, to pay Him homage. But, in His goodness, the Lord allows the soul who carries out this duty in faith and love to draw from it rich fruits of sanctification.
It is beyond all doubt, as experience teaches us, that the pious recitation of the breviary has the most beneficial effects on the interior life of the priest.
The first and most striking of these is habitual union with Christ in His priesthood of eternal praise. All the glory rendered to God on earth as in heaven ascends to Him only through Jesus Christ. We proclaim this great truth every morning at that solemn moment when we conclude the Canon of the Mass: Per Ipsum et cum Ipso et in Ipso.
When we recite the Hours in communion with the whole Church, Christ, as Head of the Mystical Body and centre of the communion of saints, takes up and unites all our praise in Himself. Even the blessed in heaven must avail of His priestly mediation to sing their heavenly Sanctus: Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant angeli. How imperfect and deficient is our giving of glory! But Christ supplies for our weakness. "If you put in His hands your poor effort," says Blosius, "your lead will be changed into precious gold, your water into the finest wine."

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Seven

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A Book to Own and Meditate

Today's passage from the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion is taken from Union With God, Letters of Spiritual Direction. It is available here from Zaccheus Press.

Sharing in the Passion of Christ

For the friend of Christ, for the member of His Mystical Body, for one baptized into His saving death, and nourished by the adorable Mysteries of His Body and Blood, suffering is a means of union with Jesus, Priest and Victim. In His infinite wisdom, the Father has reserved for each and every member of His Son's Mystical Body a certain portion of His Passion. Our Lord Jesus Christ asks His friends, one by one, if they will allow Him to suffer in them, to complete His Passion in their flesh and in their hearts.

The Holy Spirit

With suffering comes a great anointing. He sends upon one who suffers with Him, and in whom He deigns to suffer, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so that one may be able to suffer joyfully and in the peace of a complete submission to the designs of His Sacred Heart.

For Priests

Our Lord chooses to have need of our sufferings and asks for them, in some instances, specifically for the renewal of the priesthood in His Church, and for the spiritual regeneration of priests weakened by sin and held in various forms of bondage to evil. To these souls, Our Lord says that, by their humble participation in His Passion many priests will be healed and purified and restored to holiness.

Freely Given

He does not inflict suffering, but He humbly and meekly asks for our "Yes" to it. "Will you," He asks, "consent to this work of mine in you and through you?"

Victimhood

Blessed Dom Marmion, formed by the contemplation of Love Crucified in his daily Way of the Cross, never hesitated to invite souls who sought spiritual counsel from him, to enter into the way of victimhood and to offer themselves to the Father in the hands of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest. The sufferings involved are not extraordinary tortures; they are the sufferings of the body, of the heart, and of the soul that are woven into the fabric of every life. They are the sufferings of the husband, wife, mother, child, sick person, and priest. They are the sufferings of betrayal, abandonment, failure humiliation, weakness, helplessness, pain, and uncertainty. And they are, all of them, infinitely precious in the eyes of the Father when united to the Passion of His Beloved Son.

The Seventh Day of the Novena
Thursday, 28 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

For what regards your weaknesses, your failings, the Good God permits them in order to keep you in humility and in the sense of your nothingness. God can always draw good from our miseries, and when you have been unfaithful and have failed in confidence and in abandon to His holy will, if you humble yourself deeply, you will lose nothing, but on the contrary, you will advance in virtue and in the love of God.
If everything happened you just as you could wish, if you were always in robust health, if all your exercises of devotion were performed to your satisfaction, if you had no doubts and uncertainties for the future, etc., with your character you would quickly become full of self-sufficiency and secret pride; and instead of exciting the bounty of the Father of Mercies and of drawing down His compassion on His poor weak creature, you would be an abomination in God's eyes. "Every proud man is an abomination to the Lord. You must therefore set to work. Our Lord loves you He sees into the depths of your soul, even into recesses hidden from yourself, and He knows what you need; leave Him to act, and don't try to make Our Lord follow your way of seeing things, but follow His in all simplicity.
Uncertainty, anguish, disgust are very bitter remedies necessary to the health of your soul. There is only one road that leads to Jesus, namely that of Calvary; and whosoever will not follow Jesus along upon this road must give up the thought of divine union. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Take courage! I have as much need myself of these considerations as you have, for nature does not like sacrifice, but the reward of sacrifice namely, the love of God, is so great, that we ought to be ready to bear yet more in order to attain it.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Six

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Tomorrow will be the sixth day of our novena seeking the intercession of Blessed Columba Marmion. I invite the readers of Vultus Christi who are joining me in this novena to publish thanks for any graces or favours received through the intercession of Blessed Abbot Marmion by leaving a comment.

The Sixth Day of the Novena
Wednesday, 27 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

The priest is raised to a dignity which is, in a certain sense, divine, for Jesus Christ identifies Himself with him. His role as a mediator is the highest vocation in this world. It is worth repeating; if a priest did nothing during his whole life but offer the holy sacrifice piously every morning, or even if he were to offer it only once, he would have accomplished an act greater in the hierarchy of values than those events which convulse the world. For the effect of every Mass will endure for eternity, and nothing is eternal except the divine.

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We must orient our whole day towards the Mass, It is the central point and the sun of the day. It is, as it were, the focus from which there comes to us light, fervour, and supernatural joy. We must hope that, little by little, our priesthood will take possession of our soul and our life so that it may be said of us: "he is always a priest." That is the effect of a eucharistic life, fragrant with the perfume of the sacrifice which makes us an alter Christus.
How good it is to see a priest after long years of fidelity, living with the true spirit of the divine oblation!
There are many priests entirely dedicated to Christ and to souls who realize this ideal fully; they are the glory of the Church and the joy of the Divine Master.
If we also wish to rise to the heights of our priestly vocation, if we want it to impress its character on our whole existence so as to inflame us with love and zeal, we must prepare our souls to receive the graces of our Mass.
After years it may happen that some souls remark an habitual lack of fervour in the course of their lives. To what must we attribute this? Many reasons may be given. Remember that a radical death to sin, even to deliberate venial sin, is an indispensable condition for the definite triumph of charity in us.
Still, lack of effort to celebrate Mass every morning as well as possible is the most common explanation of a spiritual decline. In fact by the checking up of conscience which it pre-supposes and by the atmosphere with which it surrounds the sacred minister, the pious offering of the holy sacrifice affords the priest every day a providential opportunity to recollect himself, to humble himself, and to pull himself together. If we neglect this means, so well calculated to plunge us back into the supernatural current, we open the way more and more for the invasion of routine and mediocrity into our lives. On the other hand, so long as the concern to celebrate as well as possible remains in the soul, it will never be carried away in the drift.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Five

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Saint Paul and Blessed Columba

Although I am writing this on Monday, 25 January, the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, it is intended for the fifth day of the Novena, which occurs tomorrow. Matins and Lauds, with their proper antiphons for the Conversion of Saint Paul, were glorious this morning. I had the joy of singing the very same office that Blessed Columba Marmion knew, and sang, and loved. Yes, there is joy in the hermeneutic of continuity!

Savour What You Sing

It is not enough merely to recite or read the antiphons of the Divine Office. Their unique penetrating quality, that which allows them to descend from the mind into the heart and become for us a "sacrament" of the grace of Christ, is intrinsically related to their musical treatment in the Church's liturgical books. One who recites the Office does not, of course, lose out entirely, but the difference between an Office chanted in the cantillations and melodies proper to the Roman Rite and one recited, or sung to other forms of music, is akin to the difference between reading a letter from a loved one, and holding a face-to-face conversation with him. To do this, I know of no better resource than The Gregorian Hours prepared by the Communauté Saint-Martin.

Even a diocesan priest, deacon, or layman who prays the Divine Office "privately" can benefit immensely from beginning to chant parts of it, preferably from the Antiphonale, The Gregorian Hours, or even the Liber Usualis. A first step in that direction is to recite the Office aloud, not in an easy chair, but standing, sitting, bowing, and kneeling as one would in a choral celebration. These simple means of improving the private celebration of the Hours can go a long way in making the Divine Office the principle resource of one's interior life after Holy Mass, and the privileged expression of one's desire to "bless the Lord at all times" (Psalm 33:2).

Blessed Marmion on Saint Paul

Blessed Columba Marmion was greatly devoted to the Apostle of the Nations. He knew Saint Paul's Epistles so well that the Apostle's words came to him spontaneously as he preached and wrote. For your meditation, here is a page from the chapter entitled, Sacerdos Alter Christus, in Blessed Marmion's Christ, the Ideal of the Priest.

The Fifth Day of the Novena
Tuesday, 26 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

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Of all those upon whom Christ conferred the signal honour of associating them with His priesthood no one has better appreciated than Saint Paul the amplitude and the depth of this vocation.
From the moment that Christ revealed Himself to the apostle, the world and public opinion no longer meant anything to him: "I condescended not to flesh and blood" (Gal 1, 16). He knew that he was the minister, the priest, the apostle, of Christ, "predestined as such from the womb of his mother" (Gal 1, 16). He writes to the Corinthians telling them of his life, and how does he describe it? As an unbroken sequence, a wondrous chain of sufferings endured for Christ, and of labours undertaken to make known the riches of His grace: "Thrice I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned." Perils of every kind marked his days: "Perils in the cities . . . perils in the wilderness . . . perils from false brethren." Hunger and cold and all kinds of miseries were his common lot. Besides all this he bore in his heart grave solicitude for the newly founded churches; the personal difficulties of his converts found their echo in his heart: "Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is scandalized and I am not on fire?" (2 Cor 11, 25 and ff.)
Despite these many tribulations, Saint Paul was not overwhelmed. How was it that he maintained his courage? He gives us the explanation: "Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Cor 12, 9). Elsewhere he says, "But in all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us" (Rom 8, 37). He had attained such a degree of union with the Saviour that he could exclaim: "For to me, to live is Christ" (Phil 1, 21); and again, I live in the faith of the Son of God Who loved me and delivered Himself up for me" (Gal 2, 20). If ever a priest understood the depths of the significance of the Passion and death of Jesus and the immensity of the divine mercy, it was the great Saint Paul. He spoke of himself as "nailed to the Cross with Christ" (Gal 2, 19). Now, he who is attached to the Cross is in very truth a victim.
What was the consequence of all this? He was able to say: "And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2, 20). Christ is in me; you see me act, but this zeal, these words are not from me; they are from Christ, Who inspires my whole life, because I have renounced all that I am in order to be completely His minister. By the grace of God I live by the love of Him Who has given His life for me.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Four

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The icon of Blessed Columba Marmion was written by the hand of Brother Claude, O.S.B., monk of Mount Angel Abbey.

Blessed Columba Marmion and the Word of God

Those who had the happy privilege of hearing Blessed Columba Marmion preach were struck by the abundance of the Word of God that, stored up in his heart, came to flower spontaneously in his discourse. Dom Columba Marmion was thoroughly steeped in the Sacred Scriptures. His familiarity with the Bible came, not so much through systematic study, as through the monastic life's daily round of choral liturgical prayer. Dom Marmion heard, and received, and held in his heart, all that the Sacred Liturgy put on his lips.

His Preaching

It was often remarked that Dom Marmion's preaching had about it a certain divine anointing, a penetrating quality that touched the heart of his hearers. When questioned about this, he would attribute it to the large place that he gave to the Word of God in his preaching and spiritual conferences. He was convinced that a copious and apt use of Scripture, informed by the Sacred Liturgy, invests a priest's preaching with a supernatural efficacy and with the power to move souls.

The Fourth Day of the Novena
Monday, 25 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

A priest taken up with his ministry has not much time at his disposal for supplementary study, but could he not apply himself every day to spiritual reading, to the lectio divina, as St. Benedict calls it? He will be astonished when he realizes after some time how much this daily application, even in small doses, can do to fill his intelligence with great thoughts, to warm the heart, and to maintain the soul in precious contact with the divine mysteries.
Holy Scripture, carefully read, and even learned by heart, will always be like a living fountain in the heart of the priest.
In the Eucharist the Divine Word hides Himself under the sacred species, clothed in majestic silence; in the Scriptures He communicates Himself to us under the form of human speech, which expresses itself according to the manner of our expression.
The Word of God in Himself is incomprehensible. Is He not infinite? In HIs Son the Father gives expression to all that He is and all that He knows. In the Scriptures we read only one small syllable of that incommunicable Word pronounced by the immensity of the Father. In heaven we shall contemplate this living Word, we shall be introduced into its secret, but even here on earth we must keep our intellect in a state of respectful attention to what has been revealed and to that portion of divine Wisdom which has been made known by the Holy Writings.
If you want to touch the hearts of your people, and do good, I cannot repeat to you too often the advice of Saint Paul: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly" (Col 3, 16).

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Three

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The photograph shows Joseph (Columba) Marmion as a seminarian at the Irish College in Rome.

Victims and Victimhood

For today's text from Blessed Columba Marmion, I chose an extract from Christ, the Ideal of the Priest, in which he presents the participation of the faithful in the offering of Christ. Many Catholics become fearful and uneasy when they hear the word "victim" or "victimhood" being applied to themselves. They misconstrue the word as somehow marking them for the most appalling mistreatment by a cruel God. The secular press and media often speak, for example, of the "victim" of a mugging, a rape, a kidnapping, or of some form of abuse. In the minds of many, this has distorted the meaning of "victim soul," a rich and theologically sound expression sometimes encountered in spiritual writings and in the lives of the saints.

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Sacrificial Offering

The theological sense of the word "victim" is a "sacrificial offering." Saint Augustine teaches that a sacrifice is anything or anyone entirely made over to God by being placed literally or symbolically on the altar. The Latin word hostia means victim in this sense; this is why we refer to the bread used in the Holy Sacrifice as the "host." The Eastern Churches call the bread for the Divine Liturgy "the Lamb."

Every Christian is called to make himself over to the Father as a sacrificial offering with Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Prayer Over the Oblations (Secret) of the Mass of Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest says this explicitly:

Haec munera, Domine, mediator noster Iesus Christus
Tibi reddat accepta;
et nos, una secum,
hostias Tibi gratas exhibeat.

May our mediator Jesus Christ, O Lord,
make these offerings acceptable to Thee;
and together with Himself
may He present us to Thee as victims.

The Third Day of the Novena
Sunday, 24 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

In every Mass the supreme mystery is, beyond all doubt, the sacramental immolation of Jesus; but the offering presented by the Church comprises in its totality, with the oblation of Christ, the oblation of His members. On the altar as on the Cross, the Saviour is the one victim, holy, pure, and immaculate, but it is His will that we should be associated with Him in His offering as being His complement.
Since the time of His Ascension, Christ has never been separated from His Church. In heaven He presents Himself before the Father with His mystical body brought to its perfection: "not having spot or wrinkle" (Eph 5,27). All the elect, united with Him and amongst themselves, live of the same life of praise in the light of the Word and in the charity of the Holy Spirit.
The mystery of unity and of glorification is prepared here on earth during Mass. The union of the members with the chief is still imperfect. It is ever growing and develops in faith, but on account of their offering with Christ, the faithful participate truly in His character of victim.
What do these words mean: "character of victim?" The mean that by uniting Himself to Christ as He offers Himself, immolates Himself and gives Himself to be our food, the Christian wills to live in a state of constant and total dedication to the glory of the Father. It is thus that Jesus imparts His life in the poverty of the human heart; He makes it like to His own, entirely devoted to God and to souls.
Among the faithful who assist at Mass some are inspired to a generous gesture; carried away by the example and by the grace of Jesus, they imitate Him unreservedly; their offer their being, their thought, their actions, and accept all the troubles, the contradictions and the labours which Providence disposes for them.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Immaculata Victrix

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In the spiritual combat that is the daily experience of so many priests, nothing can take the place of a confident recourse to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. By begging Our Lord Jesus to grant His priests victory through the intervention and intercession of His Mother, we glorify His own desire to see her unique and irreplaceable role acknowledged and glorified.

O my Jesus,
save and sanctify all Thy priests!
Let not one of those whom Thou hast chosen
and anointed for Thyself be lost.
Let not the Evil One,
the sworn enemy of our souls,
overcome them,
but, rather, let Thy Immaculate Mother
crush the head of the ancient serpent,
and, by her constant intercession,
preserve Thy priests in purity and in holiness of life. Amen.

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For the Year of the Priest: a painting of Saint John Mary Vianney with his friend, Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saint Peter Julian Eymard is one of the principal patrons of the work of the Cenacle here in Tulsa. On the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1857 Saint Peter Julian Eymard inaugurated the solemn exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament by which the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament came to life. This week's move to a leased house in Tulsa better suited to a life of prayer and hospitality, and the need for funds to build the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, dedicated to Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests, compel me once again to propose the following novena for those who care to make it with me from January 6-14. It would be grand if those making the novena would leave a word in the comment box letting me know it!

Some readers of Vultus Christi may recall that on October 26, 2007 I wrote:

The desire of the Heart of Jesus is that there should be priest adorers and reparators: priests who will adore for those who do not adore, priests who will make reparation for those who do not. Our Lord asks me -- and will ask other priests as well -- to remain in adoration before His Eucharistic Face, offering all the priests of the Church to His Open Heart present in the Sacrament of His Love.

This inspiration was confirmed by the splendid letter of Cardinal Hummes, published on December 7, 2007, inviting to adoration and reparation for priests.

A Daunting Proposition

The Church is blessed with any number of communities of fervent Benedictines, who glorify Our Lord according to the gifts imparted to them, but nowhere does Our Lord find a house of priest-adorers to keep Him company in the Sacrament of His Love, and to offer themselves for their brother priests. The establishment of a new monastery is a daunting proposition. I might be tempted to lose heart, were it not for Our Lord's assurance that the measure of one's weakness is the measure of the deployment of His grace.

The Gospel tells us: God is the highest priority. If anything in our life deserves haste without delay, then, it is God's work alone. The Rule of Saint Benedict contains this teaching: "Place nothing at all before the work of God (i.e. the divine office)". For monks, the Liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes later. In its essence, though, this saying applies to everyone. (Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas 2009)

Work for Priests

The traditional Benedictine framework and the commitment to the choral liturgy will protect the life of adoration and the work for priests: the interior work of self-oblation in all things, and the exterior works of hospitality, spiritual counsel, and availability to priests in their times of need and inner darkness.

Assent to the Divine Friendship

At the heart of this special vocation is the assent to Our Lord's Divine Friendship, the "yes" to His merciful love uttered on behalf of all priests through a prolonged daily presence in adoration before His Eucharistic Face.

Our Lord desires with an immense desire to purify, and heal, and sanctify His priests. This He does, and will do, by drawing them into the radiance of His Eucharistic Face and the warmth of His Eucharistic Heart. We priests all too easily forget that Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in the Sacrament of His Love to offer us all the good things that come from friendship: companionship, conversation, joy, comfort, hospitality, strength and, above all, love.

Friends of His Heart

Our Lord is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament; His Face is veiled by the sacramental species and His Heart, too, is hidden. He is, nonetheless, really present as True God and True Man, alive, seeing all, knowing all, and burning with desire that all should come to His tabernacles but, first of all, the priests whom He has chosen to be His intimate friends, the friends of His Heart.

A priest who, in adoration, assents to the friendship of Christ, will want for nothing and will make great strides along the path of holiness. Virtue is not difficult for one who abides in the friendship of Christ. The friendship of Jesus for His priests needs to become the subject of conversations, of reflection, of study, and of preaching; more than anything else it needs to become the lived experience of every priest.

Our Lady and Saint John

A priest who abides in the friendship of Christ will accomplish great and wonderful works for souls. This is the secret of a fruitful priesthood. From her place in heaven, Our Blessed Lady is entirely devoted to keeping priests faithful to the Divine Friendship. Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, also intercedes for priests, that they might persevere in the way of friendship with Our Lord and find their joy in the love of His Heart.

The Remedy

Priests who come to adore the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will quickly discover His Heart and, in His Heart they will discover the friendship for which He created them and to which He calls them. The single greatest deficiency of the clergy is that so many priests are ignorant of the tenderness and strength and fidelity of Our Lord's friendship for them. How can this deficiency be remedied? By adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Christ. This is the raison d'être of my work in the Diocese of Tulsa. Pray, then, that the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will reach an ever greater number of priests, until, in all the Church, the Priesthood of Christ shines with all the splendour of His own holiness.

Epiphany Novena in Honour of Saint Peter Julian Eymard
January 6 -- 14, 2010

Recited after Lauds:

Antiphon: And when they were come into the house,
they found the Child with Mary His Mother,
and fell down and adored Him.

V. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the leading of a star,
didst manifest Thine Only-Begotten Son to the Gentiles,
mercifully grant that we,
having been led unto Him by the light of faith,
may, with grateful hearts,
ceaselessly adore Him present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
Who is our Mighty King, our Great High Priest, and our Immaculate Victim,
and Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen.

Recited after Vespers:

Antiphon: The Priests shall be holy;
for the offerings of the Lord made by fire,
and the bread of their God, they do offer,
therefore they shall be holy.

V. Pray for us, Saint Peter Julian.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who through the preaching and example of Saint Peter Julian Eymard,
didst renew the priesthood of Thy Church in holiness
and inflame many souls with zeal
for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
we beseech Thee, through his intercession,
to gather priests of one mind and one heart,
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof,
to keep watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face
of Thine Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to abide before His Open Heart,
in reparation for those who forsake Him, hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
and in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream
from the Sacred Mysteries of His Body and Blood.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen.

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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