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Silverstream Priory

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Our monastery coat of arms was designed by Marco Foppoli.

The Motto

Around the coat of arms is the motto of our Priory, taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel (ch. 9, v. 17): Illumina Faciem tuam super sanctuarium tuum, "Cause thy Face to shine upon thy Sanctuary": we beg the Lord Jesus, that he may cause the "deifying Light" (Prologue, Rule of St Benedict) of his Eucharistic Face to enlighten the entire Church, his Body, the Tabernacle of his Presence upon earth.

The Monstrance

The most prominent feature of our coat of arms is the golden Monstrance containing the Sacred Host, reflecting the special charism of our community: Benedictine life ordered toward Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Host bears the word PAX ("Peace"), and is enclosed in a golden Crown of Thorns, a reference to the full motto of the Benedictine Order: Pax inter spinas ("Peace among thorns"). We can follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus towards the "peace which passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) only through participation in his Passion and Cross.

The Raven

At the foot of the Monstrance is a black Raven with a scrap of Bread in his mouth, a symbol of Divine Providence which features largely in St Gregory the Great's account of our blessed Father Benedict's early days as a hermit at Subiaco, and in the biblical story of the Prophet Elias (to whom Benedict is often compared). We believe strongly that Divine Providence brought us to Silverstream, and continues to feed us with both our "Daily Bread" and our "Supersubstantial Bread" (the Eucharist), just as he provided sustenance to the young Benedict and the Prophet.

The Silver Stream

The background (field) of the shield (escutcheon) is blue (azure), symbolizing the Irish Sea, which we can see from the Priory. A silver Stream (reflecting the name of the property to which God has brought us, "Silverstream" in Stamullen, Co. Meath) runs through the background. The name "Silverstream" has strong biblical and liturgical resonances, such as:

And he shewed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his Face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more: and they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Apocalypse 22:1-5)

Our Lady

The colour blue, as well as the star in the left hand portion of the shield, also recall our blessed Lady, the Stella Maris ("Star of the Sea"), to whom our monastery is dedicated (under the title "Our Lady of the Cenacle"). The star is also eight pointed, the number eight being symbolic of the "Eighth Day" of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. The Mother of God is the Regina Caeli, the Queen of Heaven, and the Porta Caeli, that is, our gateway to heaven and eternal life.

Stay my heart upon Thee

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O my beloved Jesus,
do Thou multiply us
and provide for us
that, by day and by night,
we may be able to adore Thee
and to console Thee
in the Most Holy Sacrament
of the Altar,
where Thou abidest hidden,
lowly, and silent,
for love of us.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
stay my heart upon Thee in the Sacrament of Thy Love.
Hide me in Thy hiddenness.
Illumine me in Thy radiance.
Quiet me in Thy silence.
Humble me in Thy lowliness.
Sanctify me in Thy holiness.
Offer me in Thy oblation.
Immolate me in Thy sacrifice.
O Divine Host!
O Saving Victim!
O Son of Mary!

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Why are we here?
To abide in Thy presence, O Jesus, and to adore Thee.
The column is a sign of our resolve to abide before Thee permanently.
It marks the place that Thou hast prepared for us,
and to which Thou callest us
at every hour of the day and night.

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The column is the symbol of monastic stability,
by which we are anchored in the presence of the Lord.
The column is to adoration
what the choir-stall is to the Divine Office;
the Benedictine Monk of Perpetual Adoration is his best self,
his truest self, his finest self
in his choir-stall and at the column.

In his choir-stall he is the singer of the praise of God,
doing in the Church on earth what the angels do in heaven;
and at the column he is a victim offered to the Divine Majesty
in reparation for sins
and in the willing sacrifice of himself as a fragrant holocaust to God;
fragrant because his oblation is united to that of the Lamb,
and because it mingles with the sweet odour of Christ Jesus
rising from the tabernacles of the world
to glorify the Father.

Oblation on July 11th

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On July 11th, the feast of our glorious father Saint Benedict, Robin Grace Immaculata Pudewa made her Oblation here, becoming the third professed Oblate of Silverstream Priory. Married to Andrew, and the mother of seven children, Robin lives near Hulbert, Oklahoma, not far from the Abbey of Clear Creek. Her Oblate name, Immaculata, was given her in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes to whom she has a particular devotion. The photo shows the little Silverstream family surrounding our new Oblate: from left to right: Hilda Benilda, Dom Benedict, Mikkel (Denmark), Father Prior, Brother Alex, Robin Grace Immaculata Pudewa, Don Pierre, Michaël (The Netherlands). Brother James (Ireland) took the photo.

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The Gatehouse, our priory bookshop, has become a quite a centre of devotion to Jesus, King of Love. Numerous people, visiting our bookshop, have also come to know of Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus and have experienced her intercession.

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Spending time with us this summer are The Two Michaels: Michaël Peters from The Netherlands, and Mikkel Pedersen from Denmark.

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And here, above, is our little family at the moment, this time including postulant Brother James, a native of County Meath.

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Father Prior and our new Oblate.

Yesterday Silverstream Priory had the joy of the First Holy Communion of Isabel Steele. After Holy Mass I presented Isabel with a little statue of Jesus, King of Love. Today Isabel returned with her Dad for Holy Mass, at which she received her second Holy Communion. Isabel has a lovely singing voice, and does quite well with the Latin responses. The Steele family were here with us for Vespers on Saturday evening; it was delightful to hear the three little children singing the Gloria Patri in Latin at the end of each psalm!

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Thank You to Friends Unknown

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But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. (Matthew 6:3-4)

We have received several unsigned greetings for Christmas, some of them containing an offering for the monastery. We are very grateful to these unknown friends. He who sees in secret knows who they are; we pray Him to reward their kindness to us.

Christmas at Silverstream Priory

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Here is the crèche at Silverstream Priory: beneath the figures of the Holy Family there is a beautiful, soft carpet of Irish moss. The crèche is in the great hall of the main house.

A Monastic Christmas

Friends, relatives, and visitors to the monastery have been asking, "How do you spend Christmas?" and "What did you do for Christmas?" For the men newly-come to monastic life, Christmas can be a difficult time. Even adult men miss their families at Christmas. For a veteran monk like myself, long accustomed to being far from my beloved family at ChrIstmas, the experience is not the same; in spite of the distance that separates us, I feel very close to them and, standing at the altar to offer the Holy Sacrifice, time and distance are mysteriously swallowed up in the divine here and now.

The monastic celebration of Christmas is primarily liturgical. We planned on having First Vespers of Christmas early on Christmas Eve, at 3:00 p.m., in fact. By the time the last visitor had left The Gatehouse, and all was in readiness, it was closer to 3:30 p.m.. In a nascent monastery one mustn't expect things to happen right on time. Announced times are necessarily approximate times, and must have a healthy ability to adapt with good grace to things unexpected and unforeseen.

First Vespers

Following the First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord (after a day of fasting) we had our first Christmas meal in front of the blazing fire in the great hall. Friends of the monastery delivered this delicious meal -- their gift to us -- shortly before Vespers. We are not using the refectory at the moment; it is difficult to heat. The great hall with its welcoming hearth tends to become the focus of much of what we do together. After our meal, we chanted Compline, and then repaired to our cells for a few hours rest before Matins.

Matins

At 10:45 p.m., we were back in our choir stalls, ready to begin the Night Office of Matins, also called Vigils or Nocturns. Matins opens with a splendid Invitatory Antiphon: Christ is born for us. O come, let us adore! The Invitatory Antiphon is musically embroidered in and around the verses of Psalm 94. A chain of antiphons, psalms, blessings, lessons, and responsories follow, lasting well over one hour. The high point of Matins is the chanting of the Gospel of Our Lord's Genealogy, preceded by the Te Deum Laudamus, and followed by the Te Decet Laus, both ancient hymns of praise.

The First Mass of Christmas: at Midnight

Matins leads directly into Holy Mass, the first Mass of the Nativity of the Lord, called In nocte, that is, in the night. The Introit of the Mass (Dominus dixit ad me) sets the tone; it is contained and contemplative. It is the voice of the Only-Begotten Son telling us what the Father says to Him from all eternity: "Thou art my Son; today, have I begotten Thee" (Psalm 2:7).

The Second Mass of Christmas: at Dawn

We took a little refreshment after Holy Mass -- by this time it was 2:30 in the morning -- and again repaired to our cells for a few hours rest before rising again for the Second Mass of Christmas, the so-called Dawn Mass (Lux fulgebit), at 8:00 a.m. The Hours of Lauds and Prime followed the Second Mass of Christmas, prolonging it in a lavish outpouring of praise and jubilation.

The Third Mass of Christmas: in the Day

At 11:00 a.m. we were in choir again for Tierce, and then had the Third Mass of Christmas (Puer natus est) with the chanting of the sublime Prologue of Saint John. According to an ancient monastic tradition, there is no homily at the Mass of Christmas Day. The Prologue of Saint John -- the mystery of the Word out of silence -- calls for what the Venerable John Paul II described as an "adoring silence." Before the glory of the Word, all other words fall silent. In the presence of the Word, human discourse stammers and fails. Silence alone is worthy of the mystery.

Dinner

After Holy Mass we began preparations for our Christmas dinner, grateful to Divine Providence and to the friends and benefactors who supplied us with everything necessary, and then some. After dinner, a good Christmas day nap was in order, having been awake most of the night before.

Evening of the First Day

None, adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Vespers, and Compline brought our Christmas Day to a peaceful close. And thus ended the First Day of Christmas at Silverstream Priory in County Meath.

The Gatehouse is Open!

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Open for Business

After months of work, The Gatehouse, our monastery's bookshop is open for business! The environment is warm and inviting. We kept the original stone walls -- after sandblasting away old layers of paint, repairing, and sealing -- and added handcrafted wood shelves and furnishings. People who have already visited The Gatehouse are calling it the best Catholic bookshop in Ireland. We also have hand-carved statues of Jesus, King of Love, imported from Germany; handmade rosary beads from France; lovely icons, and much more. The Gatehouse is open from after Holy Mass in the morning (Holy Mass is at 10:00 and generally lasts one hour) until fifteen minutes before Vespers, that is 17:45.

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Ite ad Joseph

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Today, November 16th, is the 26th anniversary of my ordination to the Holy Priesthood. I am asking for a special gift from the readers of Vultus Christi. Would you, of your charity, recite the prayer to Saint Joseph given below?

Recently, a good friend counseled me to "go to Joseph" with the pressing needs of my monastery. Confident that Saint Joseph will hear our requests, I wrote this prayer today. Thank you for making it your own.

Prayer to Saint Joseph

O glorious Saint JOSEPH,
thou art our advocate and our defender,
our father and our friend,
who on the word of the angel speaking to thee in the night,
didst put fear aside to take MARY, thy Virgin Bride into thy home,
and, even in poverty and in exile,
didst provide security for JESUS, the blessed Fruit of her womb.

Thou art the good provider
upon whose resources and generosity we rely
to acquire the entire property of Silverstream;
to renovate it;
and to maintain it for years to come
in security and in peace,
in the beauty of holiness,
and in perpetual adoration
of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

O Joseph, first adorer of the Sacred Humanity of the Word,
thou art not indifferent to His designs upon Silverstream Priory
and upon those men who, by His grace alone,
must struggle to make it a school of the Lord's service,
a sanctuary of adoration for all,
and a haven of peace for priests.

Humble and powerful Saint Joseph,
who didst appear at Knock,
together with the Mother of God,
with Saint John the Beloved Disciple,
and with the Lamb of Sacrifice,
thy mission in Ireland is far from ended.
Visit Silverstream Priory, then.
Provide for our fathers and brothers there
as thou hast provided for so many in the past,
and we shall publish abroad
the wonders obtained through thy intercession
to the glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.


Evening of All Souls

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Passing through the Oratory of the monastery this evening, Dom Benedict took this photo of our statue of Jesus, King of Love, illumined by the oil lamp that burns in front of it. The statue of Jesus, King of Love touches the hearts of all who see it.

Dom Vital Léhodey (1857 - 1948), Abbot of Briquebec, wrote:

The Word Become a Child
My Little Jesus draws me to Himself at about the age of five years, or at about the age three or four. In the beginning, there was a little bit of imagination and a fair amount of emotion. It has been a long time now that the emotional has disappeared almost entirely; very often, it is desert, bleak and arid. What holds me in this way is the Word of God become a child, out of love for His Father and for us; or else it is the Saviour and Physician of souls; it is the God of my heart, the Friend, the Spouse and above all the adorable Little Brother. But it is always the Holy Humanity united to the Word, and so my worship goes to the Word become a child. When He presents to my spirit His infinite grandeurs and my nothingness, His holiness, my faults and my miseries, I adore Him in making myself very small. If He allows me to glimpse the charms of His childhood, His heart so humble and so meek, His infinitely touching holy littleness, the astonishing simplicity of a little brother (and so He does ordinarily), it is the heart that responds to Him, saying to Him the same protestations of love endlessly again and again, and from time to time, making itself very little before Him who is so great. This has lasted lo all these forty years and I never weary of always repeating to Him the same things. Since then, I have never aspired after another way; my Beloved Little Jesus is enough for me. And why would I have sought anything else, since, "all good things came to me along with Him" (Wis 7:11). I should never how to retell Him my gratitude enough.
Our Hearts Are Made One for the Other
And, first of all, He taught me better to know Him, and by that very means, better to know His Father. Like so many others, before that, I was inclined to see in God the Master and the Dispenser of Justice, rather than the Father and the Saviour. He veiled the grandeurs that would have dazzled me; He very nearly hid from me His Passion, which would have frightened me. He made Himself so very little, so that I would not be afraid of living with Him. It pleased Him to show me the goodness of His heart, His love and His tenderness, His mercies and His mildness, His patience in bearing with me, His quickness to lift me up. Truly, He has a Saviour's heart, a heart that doesn't know how to become angry, that never tires of pardoning, of healing, and of loving, a heart that loves extremely His mission as Saviour and physician of souls. In truth, He also has the heart of a friend. How many times has He not come to console me in my sorrows, to rejoice with me on my anniversaries by His loving visits. Now it pleases Him to remind me that He has the heart of a man, which heart needs to love men and to be loved by men, the heart of a Child God, who loves candidly and is candidly happy to be loved. He reminds me too that I also have a heart that needs to love and to be loved, and that our hearts are made one for the other. Let us then love one another and never cease loving one another.
The "Gate which is called Beautiful"
In thus making known to me the goodness of His heart, His and His tenderness, His mercy and His mildness, His astonishing simplicity, all things that make Him so lovable and so attractive in His Holy Humanity, He, by that very means, makes His divinity known to me. His Holy Humanity is, in fact, the most faithful mirror of His Divinity. All that is found in miniature, as it were, in his sweet Childhood, is found infinitely in the Word. And, since the Word is the Splendour of the Father and the Image of His Goodness, in learning of my Little Jesus, I learn also of the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are, all Three, one and the same infinite Charity. The sweet Childhood of my Little Jesus has, therefore, been for me like the "Gate which is called Beautiful" (Ac 3:2), through which He introduces me just a little bit, so little, alas, into the sanctuary of the Divinity."

When God Answers Prayers

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I took this photograph of a moss-covered stone crucifix while visiting the Hill of Slane for the first time last October with my friend, Father J. I had come across to Ireland to explore the possibility of settling here.

Now that our monastery is taking root in Ireland, it often happens that people ask me to explain the background of our move. Just this morning I came across this prayer of mine, written in March 2010, in the wake of the Holy Father's Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

I had completely forgotten that, after reading, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Father's letter, I was moved to intercede in my own way for the Church in Ireland, beloved of the Heart of Jesus, that has suffered so much in the past, and that has entered, in these days, into the abjection and humiliation of His Passion.

At the time there was no serious discussion of moving to Ireland, and I had no idea how things would unfold. It goes to show that God hears our prayers, that He takes them seriously, and that, often, His way of answering them surpasses by far what we could have thought or imagined.

Beloved Lord Jesus,
I adore Thee with all the love of my heart,
and I present to Thee Thy Church in Ireland,
asking Thee to illumine all the baptized of Ireland
with the radiance of Thy Eucharistic Face.

Once again, beloved Jesus,
make Ireland the isle of great saints
and of humble, faithful, heroic believers.
Give Thy Immaculate Mother
full sway over the people of Ireland,
beginning with Thy bishops and Thy priests.
Raise up in Ireland a new generation of consecrated women,
spouses of Thy Sacred Heart,
and mothers of the little, the poor, and of all who suffer.

Beloved Jesus,
hear the supplications of all the saints of Ireland,
and for their sake,
and for the sake of Thy Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart,
heal Thy Church in Ireland,
pour out abundant graces on her faithful,
sanctify her bishops and priests,
and having gathered all together
in the embrace of Thy merciful love,
make Ireland shine in the eyes of the whole world
with faith, and hope, and charity.
Amen.

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Image: Dom Tarisse, Superior General of the Congregation of Saint-Maur


I have given Dom Benedict my blessing to pursue his study of the 17th century Monastic Breviary of the Benedictine Congregation of Saint Maur. The Maurist Breviary is a treasury of scriptural and patristic texts, artfully woven together so as to express luminously the mysteries of the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year. The Maurist Breviary is as suitable for lectio divina as it is for choral prayer. Dom Benedict will be sharing his discoveries, as time permits, on a new blog entitled, Pax Inter Spinas, A Modern Monk Discovers the Liturgical Riches of the Benedictine Congregation of Saint Maur (1621-1790). Do visit Pax Inter Spinas today.

Our Secret Is Out

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One Place the Celtic Tiger Missed

The Celtic Tiger never reached the kitchen of Silverstream. In fact, he never even touched it with a hair of his tail! As you can see, I don't think the kitchen at Silverstream has been improved since The War. In its present condition it would be condemned by the Health Authorities, were they invited to inspect it.

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Really, Really Bad

There are no surfaces for food preparation. The ceiling and walls are cracked, peeling, and full of damp. The floor is being lifted by humidity under the tiles. The cooker (stove) has an oven, the temperature of which cannot be adjusted. The few cabinets in the kitchen are damp, mouldy, smelly, and unusable. Dishes, utensils, and cooking vessels are stored on open shelves, subject to falling bits of the ceiling, dust, and God knows what else. The electrical wiring needs to be redone completely. The sinks and plumbing are in desperately sinister condition.

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Just Make It Healthy, Safe, and Functional

We haven't the financial means to make our kitchen healthy, safe, and functional. We can try to keep it clean. We are "making do" with what is there, but the reality is that it is very difficult to prepare meals in this environment. We are praying that someone will be moved to say, "God has been good to me. I will assume the cost of renovating the monks' kitchen at Silverstream Priory." God is not outdone in generosity.

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Priorities

I originally planned to put the book shop and priory church first, so that we would have (1) a remunerative work that would begin to give us some kind of fiscal security, (2) a worthy temple for the praise and adoration of the living God, and (3) the indispensable boundaries of our monastic enclosure in place. Alas, it has happened that people visiting the priory and seeing the kitchen are horrified by what they have discovered, and of the opinion that, for the sake of health and safety, the kitchen must be entirely renovated.

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Dom Benedict has updated our website with a fine slide presentation. You will find it here: http://cenacleosb.org/

The monastery website is an excellent resource for making Silverstream Priory known to your friends. It now includes a page giving road directions for those of you who would like call by in person.

The website also has a Vocations Page and other useful information.

Dom Benedict, professed last Saturday (29 September 2012) on the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, warmly invites the readers of Vultus Christi to become acquainted with the monastery website and to make it known. Thank you, dear readers.

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Here is the allocution that I gave today at the First Profession of Brother Benedict Maria Andersen. Dom Benedict, a native of Denver, Colorado, is the first man to make profession for Silverstream Priory. I don't yet have a photo of the newly-professed to post here, but this photo taken when we visited Fore Abbey (County West Meath) speaks eloquently of the tradition in which Dom Benedict will go forward as a monk.

An Historic Occasion

My dearly beloved son, on this historic occasion -- I say historic because it is the first monastic profession under the Rule of Saint Benedict in this, our diocese of Meath, in over 473 years, that is, since the dissolution of the Benedictine Priory at Fore in West Meath by the King's Commissioners in 1539. That is, I dare say, a very long time to wait for another Benedictine vocation in the Diocese of Meath. You, by the grace of Our Lord, received that vocation, and responded to it.

Moments of Grace

Allow me, if you will, to share with our guests some of the moments of grace that have marked your monastic journey thus far. I want to do this because, as the saints and mystics tell us, "a grace remembered is a grace renewed."

In 2010, from May 26 until June 5, while you were at your home in Denver, Colorado, discerning what direction your life would take, after your initial experiences with us in Tulsa, I was making a novena, in which I said to Our Lord:

O Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,
furnace of charity and wellspring of light,
we adore Thee and,
full of confidence in Thy merciful goodness,
entrust to Thee our brother Benjamin,
beseeching Thee . . . to illumine his mind
and warm his heart
We further ask Thee to open for him
the path to monastic life with us
if such be Thy gracious will for him
and for us.
Lord Jesus, we would have no desires
apart from Thine,
and no designs apart from those of Thy Heart.
We present these petitions of ours to Thee
through the immaculate
and maternal Heart of Mary,
our Advocate and the Mediatrix of All Graces.
Amen.

There followed a series of invocations to Saint Joseph, Saint John the Beloved Disciple of the Lord, our Father Saint Benedict, Saint Pius X, Blessed Columba Marmion, and Blessed John Henry Newman. At the conclusion of that novena, you returned to Tulsa and asked to be admitted into the little embryonic monastery that was stirring into life on 21st Street.

At Subiaco

Then, one year and three months ago, at the Sacro Speco of Subiaco in Italy, the very cradle of Benedictine life, following the ancient tradition for the reception of a novice, I knelt before you and washed your feet. Then, I clothed you in the habit of monastic conversion. Thus did you begin your noviceship.

On that day, June 19, 2011, you listened to the words of Ecclesiasticus, that were addressed to you:

Son, when thou comest to the service of God,
stand in justice and in fear,
and prepare thy soul for temptation.
Humble thy heart, and endure:
incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding:
and make not haste in the time of clouds.
Wait on God with patience:
join thyself to God, and endure,
that thy life may be increased in the latter end.
Take all that shall be brought upon thee:
and in thy sorrow endure,
and in thy humiliation keep patience.
For gold and silver are tried in the fire,
but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. (Ecclesiasticus 2:1-5)

Things Hard and Arduous

These words were, in more than one way, prophetic. You began your novitiate on a pilgrimage to Subiaco in Italy and, quite unexpectedly, by the mysterious operations of Divine Providence, completed it here in County Meath, Ireland. Your year and three months of noviceship have been marked by sufferings, infirmities, struggles, and darkness. Nonethless, in the midst of what Saint Benedict calls "the hard and arduous things by which one goes to God", there were moments of consolation, and flashes of light. And you had friends in heaven above and on earth below to comfort you, encourage you, and say, "keep on."

Today

Know, my dear son, that the word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Isaiah is, today, addressed to you;

Fear not, for I have redeemed thee,
and called thee by thy name: thou art mine.
When thou shalt pass through the waters, I will be with thee,
and the rivers shall not cover thee:
when thou shalt walk in the fire,
thou shalt not be burnt,
and the flames shall not burn in thee:
I have loved thee . . .
Fear not, for I am with thee. (Isaiah 43:2-5)

I say to you, today, in the words of the Apostle, that I am sure that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you, Brother Benedict Maria, from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39).

By the grace of Christ deployed in your weakness, you have persevered through this first year of your monastic probation, and so, today, you are ready to stand before the altar to pronounce the vows that will bind you more closely to the Lamb of the Holy Sacrifice.

Triennial Vows

In accordance with her wisdom and solicitous care for those who would vow themselves to God, our holy Mother the Church has established that these first vows be valid for only three years, and that from this day until the profession of perpetual vows a second period of probation and preparation should take place.

Just as the mother of the seven Machabees nourished her heroic sons three years unto martyrdom (II Macch. 7:27), so too does our holy Mother the Church, being moved by the same love and solicitude, wish that you should undergo a preparation of three years for solemn consecration in the monastic life, which likewise, as you already know, is a true martyrdom.

The prophet Daniel, in like manner, together with his young companions, was nourished three years at the royal table, so as to stand fittingly in the sight of an earthly prince (Daniel 1:5). Certainly, no less a preparation should be had by one who intends to give eternal service to the heavenly King.

Begin, therefore, this period of triennial vows and accomplish it with the same spiritual fervour which filled the Apostle of the Gentiles, who, after his conversion, withdrew for three years into the solitude of Arabia before going up into Jerusalem (Galatians1:17-18).

The Eucharistic Christ

During the coming three years, endeavour to advance, more and more, in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Allow yourself to be drawn fortiter ac suaviter into the light of His Eucharistic Face, and into the fire of His Eucharistic Heart.

The Eucharistic Christ is the icon of your vocation here. Consider Him daily in the Holy Mysteries. He is the victim lying upon the altar, lifted up in offering to the Father, given as food and drink to those who hunger for holiness, for a love that never loses its sweetness, and for a life that never ends.

Consider Him in the tabernacle, and consider Him and exposed to our gaze in the monstrance? There, the Word is wordless. There, in the Sacrament of His Love, He is silent, hidden, humble, and obedient. The life of the Eucharistic Christ is that of the Christus Passus: Christ in the very act of surrendering Himself as a sacrificial offering to the Father. What is this if not the immense, the infinite, the one perfect Yes of Love to Love? This is the pattern of your monastic life.

Suscipe Me

In a few moments you will enter into the upward movement of the Christus Passus, the Lamb offered the Father, first from the altar of the Cross, and now from the Cross of the Altar. You will raise your hands, as He did upon the Cross, and you will sing to the Father: Suscipe me. Father, take me up. Father, lift me up. Father, hold me fast in Thy embrace. Father, I am thine. Father!

Do this, and that blessing will descend upon you, by which Jacob the Patriarch, on the day of his death, blessed the tribe of Joseph: "The God of thy father -- that is, of Saint Benedict -- shall be thy helper, and the Almighty shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above; may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren." (Genesis 49:25-26) Today, you are that Joseph; today, you are that Nazirite.

My dear son, you have already sufficiently learned the Rule under which you wish to serve, not only by reading, but also by a whole year of practice and experience as a novice. You are therefore aware under what conditions you are about to be received into our monastery. Up to now you are free and may still freely withdraw yourself from the yoke of the Rule, and return to the world.

Invitation to Make Profession

If, then, you are ready and willing to observe the salutary teachings of our holy Father Benedict; if you, who so love and understand the liturgy of the Church, desire to live what you love, and love what you understand; if you are willing to risk a fully Eucharistic life, if you will allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow you, and make of you a hostia pura, hostia sancta, hostia immaculata, -- a pure victim, a holy victim, a spotless victim --then, now, surrounded here by your friends in heaven and on earth, you may make your profession of triennial vows.

Hilda and Caedmon

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Little Caedmon, a three month old black labrador retriever has joined our monastic family. Hilda is being a solicitous mamma to him. They get along very well and snuggle together in the crate at night and for naps during the day.

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Progress in Book Shop

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The men from Caffrey's Natural Stone in Drogheda were here today to install the granite countertops in The Gatehouse book shop. Our expert joiner, Liam Stanley has nearly completed all the woodwork in the shop. The Gatehouse will be our way of interfacing with the world, and of offering a service to the local Church.

Fulget Crucis Mysterium

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On Friday, 14 September 2012, feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the third copper cross, fashioned by our own craftsmen, Damien and Ben, was hoisted into place and fixed on the pinnacle of Silverstream Priory facing the sea. The cross is over eight feet tall; it is made of timber, covered in copper sheeting, and sealed with lead.

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum

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Psalm 132

Behold how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell in unity.
Like the precious ointment on the head,
that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron,
Which ran down to the skirt of his garment:
As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion.
For there the Lord hath commandeth blessing,
and life for evermore.

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Come Up Higher, Friend!

Last evening after Vespers, given the perfect weather conditions, we climbed onto the roof of the priory to see the sights from a new perspective. Damien and Ben were the first to ascend, exploring how they will anchor the new eight foot copper cross to the pinnacle of the house whence it will be visible for miles around. Robby followed, then myself, Brother Benedict, and finally Victor. Only Hilda and Caedmon were left on the ground below. The photos will give you some idea of what we saw.

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Chapter Room Furniture Arrives

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The Auditorium Spiritus Sancti

In the monastic tradition the Chapter Room is sometimes referred to as the Auditorium Spiritus Sancti, that is, the place wherein one hears the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Chapter Room is so called, because every morning after Prime, the community gathers there to listen to the reading of the appointed chapter of the Rule of Saint Benedict. After listening together to the reading of the Holy Rule, the abbot (or prior) gives a brief commentary on the text, generally one having a practical application.

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Refurbished Oaken Stalls

We were fortunate to acquire a set of thirteen oaken choir stalls (seats) that had been removed from a religious house in County Monahan some years ago. They were in very poor condition, but our friend Philip McArdle completely restored them. Although the Chapter Room is not usually used for chanting the Divine Office, it does require a certain formality of design. It is the place where serious business is transacted. It is the place of the community's daily instruction, the place where novices receive the habit, where the brethren ask pardon for offenses that affect the quality of life together, and the place where intentions of prayer are recommended to the community every evening before Compline.

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Place of Gathering Twice a Day

Generally speaking, the monastic family will gather in the Chapter Room twice a day: in the morning after Prime to listen to the Holy Rule and the prior's commentary on it, and again in the evening before Compline for prayer intentions, news, announcements, and a spiritual preparation for the liturgical feast of the following day.

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Room for Growth

Our Chapter Room will be able to accommodate thirteen monks in all: the prior plus twelve others. The rest of our monastery is also being designed for a community of between thirteen and eighteen monks.

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Statue of Our Blessed Lady

What remains to be done in the Chapter Room? The timber floor must be resurfaced, and the plaster of the ceiling and walls repaired and painted. There will be new sets of doors and, if Our Lady so arranges it, a beautiful carved statue of the Virgin Abbess above the double doors of the Chapter Room that lead into the statio cloister. We have found a very gifted sculptor in Austria who would be able to carve a statue of Our Blessed Lady Abbess in linden wood. The artisan, obviously, is worthy of a just recompense for his craftsmanship. I am confident that Our Lady will inspire some generous soul to step forward and offer to sponsor this project.

Relying Always Upon His Grace

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An Anniversary

The years have flown by. On the evening of 21 August, 2008, kneeling in the chapel of the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery's episcopal residence in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, I vowed myself to a new way of life, to a vocation within a vocation. This is what I said:

The "Yes" of A New Beginning

Most Reverend Father,
desiring to respond to the mandate you have given me
and to the invitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
while relying always upon his grace
I promise that for the next two years
I will live each day
in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament,
in a spirit of thanksgiving and intercession,
that I might make reparation before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
for all my brothers in Holy Orders,
but especially for those who do not adore,
for those who are most wounded in their souls,
and for those who are exposed to the attacks of the powers of darkness.

For them and in their place,
I promise to abide before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
drawing near to His Open Heart,
that in the ever-flowing streams of Blood and Water
all souls might be purified, healed, and sanctified,
but first of all the souls of His priests.

I ask you, Most Reverend Father,
to sustain me in this calling ,
and by your prayers
present me to Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the eternal Priest and Lamb of Sacrifice,
that, by the action of his Holy Spirit,
I might live more closely united to Him as priest and victim.

I make these promises conscious of my weakness,
and resolved to live this grace
in total dependence on the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Advocate of Priests and Mediatrix of All Graces,
and in communion with Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse,
and Saint John, the Beloved Disciple who, in obedience to the word of Jesus
Crucified, took Our Lady into his keeping
seek that intimacy with her
which is ever the sign of God's providence and love.

So I promise, so help me God
and those holy martyrs and saints
whose relics are here present.
Amen.

From Oklahoma to County Meath

It was the feast of Our Lady of Knock, and I chose this date designedly for my new beginning in Tulsa Oklahoma, because of the strong connection between my own vocation and the significance of the apparition at Knock. Little did I know, on that August evening in Broken Arrow that, less than five years later, I would be in Ireland, the very land chosen for this extraordinary manifestation of the Mother of God, of Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, and the immolated and glorious Lamb of God. The whole sequence of events bears the unmistakable imprint of Divine Providence. It is humbling and reassuring at the same time.

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Gratitude

I am and will forever be grateful to Monsignor Patrick Brankin for originally inviting me to Tulsa to preach a retreat to his deacons and men in formation for the diaconate, and to Bishop Slattery for recognizing this "vocation within a vocation" and for inviting me to begin to live it out in his diocese. I am grateful to the Right Reverend Dom Marcel Rooney, O.S.B., former Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, for his friendship, his fatherly solicitude, and his encouragement while we were both in Tulsa. I am grateful also to the Father Abbot of Clear Creek and to his monks, the most charitable of monastic neighbours.

Tulsa became a place of many graces, of blessed friendships, and of an extraordinary fruitfulness. So many things happened there: the movement of Spiritual Mothers of Priests; the Year of the Priesthood and the activities that marked it; the foundation of the Monastery and the beginning of our flourishing group of Oblates; the beginnings of a humble ministry to priests.

A Pattern Emerges

As I look back over the past five years, I am beginning to see that a pattern emerges, a pattern not of my own making. On 3 January 2007, I was en route to Rome with a long layover in Dublin. By a special act of Providence, Sister Barbara Matazzaro, A.S.C.J. and I were on the same flight from New York to Rome. It was wonderful to travel with such a good friend.

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Mass During a Layover in Dublin

During our five hour wait in the Dublin airport, Sister Barbara and I crossed the road to Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church. The Dublin church contained a lovely statue of our Lady of Loreto. The kind sacristan arranged for me to offer Holy Mass. I exposed the icon of the Virgin Mother, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, in front of the altar for Mass. Earlier, an Irish priest (now working in Nashville, Tennessee) had greeted us in the airport and asked us to pray for the Church in Ireland. I offered Holy Mass for that intention and distinctly remember having asked Our Lord for the grace to "do something" for the Church in Ireland. Did I know what I was asking? Was that Holy Mass, offered for the Church in Ireland with the icon of the Mother of God, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, the sign of my vocation to adoration and reparation for priests, not the beginning of what has now unfolded?

Carried on the Wind

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I have sometimes felt like a dandelion blossom gone to seed, carried on the wind from one place to another, leaving bits and pieces of itself here and there. Do I regret the movements that have marked my life, in seeming contradiction with the Benedictine vow of stability? I do not regret them for one reason only: through the changes and chances of this great adventure, I have been led, and I have been carried. Every halt, every connection, every prayer uttered in the obscurity of faith is part of a much bigger design, one that I could never have imagined or planned. For it all, I give thanks.

Silverstream

The great adventure is hardly over, but I am convinced that in coming to Silverstream Priory in County Meath, Ireland, I have come to the place where the "vocation within a vocation" articulated in Bishop Slattery's chapel on that August 21st, 2008, will take root and begin to flourish. It will not, of course, be easy, but I have been given enough signs along the way to trust and, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the maternal Heart of His Immaculate Mother, to persevere.

In the Hand of His Providence

I wrote recently to a friend in England, quoting comforting words of Saint Francis de Sales. Today, I share these same words with all of you, dear readers of Vultus Christi, and friends of Silverstream Priory. As for myself, I take them very much to heart.

Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of His providence, and He will help you in all situations. When you cannot walk, He will carry you. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always.

Thanks be to the all-holy Mother of God who appeared at Knock in the company of Saint Joseph, Saint John, the Holy Angels, and the adorable Lamb of God, for all that is, for all that was, and for all that will be.

Maria, Abbatissa Nostra

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Apart from the photos of the statue at Tre Fontane in Rome (Trappist Monks), of the icon of the Mother of God, Abbess of Mount Athos, and of our own icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour, the statues of Our Lady shown here are found in monasteries of the Benedettine dell'Adorazione Perpetua del Santissimo Sacramento in Italy.

Our Lady, Our Abbess, Our Queen

Writing in an essay in the book Priez sans cesse - 300 ans de prière, (Desclée de Brouwer, Editeur, Paris, 1953, p. 177), Dom Jean Leclercq, O.S.B. demonstrates that a Benedictine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Abbess, was not uncommon in the Middle Ages. Originating in monasteries of the Cluniac obedience, devotion to the Blessed Virgin as Abbess was also not unknown among the 17th century Benedictine monks of the Congregation of Saint-Maur.

At Tre Fontane

Not surprisingly, the same devotion made its way into the hearts and cloisters of of the Cistercians. When, in 1975, I visited the Trappist monks at the Abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome, I was struck by a statue of the Mother of God enthroned in the reading cloister.

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The Blessed Virgin is depicted seated, dressed in the white cuculla of the Cistercians and wearing the abbatial insignia of the ring and pectoral cross. In her right hand she holds the keys of the monastery, and in her left the crosier or pastoral staff used by abbots and abbesses. The inscription below the statue reads: In me omnis spes, "In me is all hope." How many generations of monks and laybrothers in need of hope paused before this statue to entrust themselves to the Mother of Jesus, their heavenly Abbess and Queen?

Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration

Mother Mectilde de Bar, familiar to the readers of Vultus Christi, as the foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, and the "Teresa of Avila" of the Benedictine Order, renounced the abbatial title for herself and all her successors in perpetuity, and attributed that title and its duties to the Mother of God alone.

The 28 May 1654, M. Mectilde de Bar wrote to M. Dorothée Heurelle:

In myself I find nothing whatsoever that is capable of giving me joy, except for one thing that has given me great satisfaction. It is that I have had a statue of Our made. She is much taller than I, holding her Child on her right arm, and holding a crosier in her left hand, to signify she is the generalissima of the Order of Saint Benedict, and the most worthy Abbess, Mother, and Superior of this little house of the Holy Sacrament. It was brought to us on Saturday, the vigil of Pentecost. I must admit that her arrival sent a thrill of joy and consolation through me, and seeing my holy Mistress take possession of her domain and of this very little convent. She is not yet altogether finished, because she must still be gilded and made perfectly beautiful, and after she is perfectly complete, we shall have her blessed, and then placed on a throne prepared to this effect in the middle of our choir between the stall of our Mother Subprioress and mine. She is admired, and certainly she is beautiful, and consoles me extremely.

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The Image of Our Lady Abbess

On 22 August 1654, Mother Mectilde proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary the only abbess and perpetual superior of the Institute. Delegated by the prior of Saint-Germain, the Abbé Picoté blessed the statue of Our Lady. The next day, Mother Mectilde placed Our Lady's image in all the regular places -- choir, chapter, refectory, dormitory -- so that she might, in some way, preside at all the community exercises. She want Our Lady's feasts to be celebrated brilliantly, and prescribed special prayers to the glory of her Most Pure Heart and Immaculate Conception.

Thus, was Our Lady forever chosen, named, and recognized as the most worthy and most eminent mother, abbess, and superior in chief of the first fledgling monastery of the Most Holy Sacrament. The Benedictines of the Most Holy Sacrament renew the abbatial election of the Mother of God, and entrust themselves to her every year on August 15th or 22nd.

Abbess and Queen of the Holy Mountain

Is this devotion more of a feminine thing? Hardly. The monks of Mount Athos, where no woman ever sets foot, practice the same devotion as their Western brethren, but to an even higher degree. The all-holy Mother of God is acknowledged, venerated, and praised as the Abbess of the Holy Mountain. She is the only woman allowed on Mount Athos because it is her garden, and her domain.

Prophecy of the Mother of God

Saint Gregory Palamas, in his Life of Saint Peter the Athonite (+681) relates that, while living virtually alone on the Holy Mountain as a hermit, he had a vision of the Mother of God telling Saint Nicholas of her love for the place:

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"The time will come," said the Mother of God," when, from every direction, it will be filled with a multitude of monks.... If those monks shall labor for God with all their hearts and faithfully keep His commandments, I will vouchsafe them great gifts on the great day of my Son. And, while even here on earth, they will receive great aid from me. I shall lighten their afflictions and labors. I will be for the monks an invincible ally, invisibly guiding and guarding them, a healer, a source nourishing them, and make it possible for them, with but scant means, to have sufficiency for life."

Abbess of the Holy Mountain

For over a thousand years, the monks of Mount Athos have experienced the truth of these words. Not merely in name only, but in reality and in the life of each monk, the all-holy Mother of God is honoured as Abbess and Sovereign Lady of the Holy Mountain. The monks of Mount Athos invoke the Holy Mother of God by a whole litany of titles. Our Lady is the archetype of monasticism. She is the paradigm of Christian holiness; the Abbess of the Holy Mountain; and the monk's sure guide to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Mother of God is everywhere present on Mount Athos by means of the holy icons through which she reveals herself as a most solicitous Abbess and communicates with her monks.

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And at Silverstream Priory

Lest we, the least of Our Lady's sons, be found lacking in the same kind of filial devotion to her, our own little monastery, like so many others in past times and places, elected the Blessed Virgin Mary Abbess of Silverstream on August 15th.

Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, after Vespers on the feast of the Assumption, I pronounced the solemn act of election by which our monastery entered into a new and deeper relationship with Our Blessed Lady. Here, for your meditation, is the text of the prayer. It is modeled after the act that Mother Mectilde de Bar pronounced in Paris on 22 August 1654.

Act of Election and Consecration to Our Lady, Abbess

I, an unworthy son of Saint Benedict,
holding the first place in this monastery
established for the adoration and glory
of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
humbly prostrate before the Throne of the Divine Majesty,
in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
and in the warmth of the fire that burns in His Most Sacred Heart,
do confess and declare,
in the name of the community such as it is at this time,
and such as it shall be in time to come,
that the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God,
is forever elected, named, and recognized
as the ever-worthy, glorious,
and sovereign Lady and Abbess of this monastery,
that is, of all the monasteries dedicated to her,
the most fragile and the most in need of the care and attention
of her maternal Heart.

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With profound humility and confidence,
I beg her, in her most tender pity
to take this struggling and vulnerable infant monastery
under her singular care and special protection,
and to obtain for me
and for the souls in my care
the incomparable grace of the Divine Friendship
of the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus,
in fidelity to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and the charism of adoration, reparation, and charity for priests,
which has been bestowed upon us
by the Father of lights from whom descends every good gift,
and has been recognized by the Holy Catholic Church
in the persons of our Lords, the Most Reverend Bishops of Tulsa and of Meath,
and in whose heart we desire to live and to die.

I further offer to the maternal Heart
of the same sovereign Lady and Abbess
all who have assisted this little monastery
by their presence, their labour, their prayers,
and their material support,
asking her to extend the veil of her holy protection
and perpetual help over them and over their families,
their loved ones, their homes, and their places of work and business.

Receive us, then, all-holy and merciful Mother of Jesus Christ,
as thy servants and as sons of thine own household.
Make thou full use of thy rights and of thy power over us,
and over the temporal and spiritual affairs of this house,
lest thine own honour be mocked,
and thy house looked upon with scorn,
and thy sons derided.

We accept and avow that Thou art our sovereign Lady,
our Abbess, and our Queen,
and by this act pronounced today in view of thy Divine Son,
of the choirs of angels,
of Saint Joseph, Saint John, our father Saint Benedict,
and of all the saints,
we bind ourselves to depend upon thee,
and look to thee for all things.

We renew into thy hands the sacred vows of our baptism,
and those of monastic profession,
asking thee to fashion us into true adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
and consolers of His Eucharistic Heart.

O Holy Mother of God,
we beseech thee with all the humility possible
to take upon thyself the office to which we elect thee today,
and to rule over, protect, and provide for this house
and those who dwell herein now
and in the days to come.

This is the irrevocable, binding, and unanimous desire of thy sons,
in testimony of which, we sign this present act
on the 15th day of August 2012
enjoinIng that it be kept in this monastery in perpetuity
and renewed every year
on the festival of thy glorious Assumption into heaven,
or during the octave thereof. Amen.

An Urgent Request

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Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you. (Mark 11:24)
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (Luke 11:9-10).

Life at Silverstream Priory is a day-to-day and hour-to-hour act of trust in Divine Providence. Some would say that living as we do is folly; I maintain that it is the highest wisdom. The other evening as I brought our pressing financial concerns to Our Lord in prayer, these words of the psalmist rose from my heart to my lips:

Trust in the Lord, and do good, and dwell in the land, and thou shalt be fed with its riches. Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. Commit thy way to the Lord, and trust in him, and he will do it. (Psalm 36:3-5)
Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. (Psalm 54:22)

One of the priestly figures in my gallery of heavenly heroes is Father Ernest Lelièvre (1826-1889), the devoted co-worker of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a true friend and father of the destitute elderly. Father Lelièvre wrote:

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I know that I serve a Master
who values the will of a sincere heart
beyond any talent.
My ignorance counts on His knowledge,
my poverty on His wealth,
my weakness, on HIs strength.
And I know,
and am perfectly certain that,
of all the calculations I could make,
the wisest is to abandon myself to Him.

Renovating Silverstream Priory

The renovation of Silverstream Priory is a daunting task. The work required to make the existing buildings functional and suitable for our purposes is extensive and costly.

We are focusing now on the book store, knowing that once it is open, it will generate income, and the church, knowing that once it is open, it will generate charity, peace, and joy.

Asking for Your Help

At the moment we are in need of funds -- and so we are turning with confidence to Jesus,King of Love. Will you not pray with us, asking Him to provide the funds we need? Here is the prayer that we started saying at the end of the Hours. Please say it with us.

O Jesus, King of Love,
Whose resources are infinite,
Whose Heart is divinely generous,
and to Whom nothing is impossible,
our resources are nought;
we cannot give what we do not have;
and without Thee we can do nothing.
Therefore, in this hour of need,
we place our trust in Thy merciful goodness.

Thou art our Shepherd, O King of Love;
Thy Heart is our unfailing Treasury
and Thy hands dispense inexhaustible treasures
to those who trust in Thy merciful goodness.

Thy most loving Heart is our only recourse.
To whom shall we go in our poverty
if not to Thee, O Jesus, King of Love?

Let Thy merciful goodness hasten to deliver us
for we are hard pressed in our necessities.
We praise Thee for Thy gracious condescension,
and we thank Thee for Thy speedy help,
more certain than the break of day
at the end of the darkness of night.

O Jesus, King of Love,
Thou wilt not disappoint us in our hope,
for we trust now and shall trust always
in Thy merciful goodness. Amen.

Wise Abbatial Counsel

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Left: Dom Maurus Wolter, Abbot of Beuron; right: Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes.

The Benedictine Art of Government

The nineteenth century was a springtime of monastic restoration in old Europe. Early in May 1863, Dom Prosper Guéranger, abbot of Solesmes addressed a letter to the young prior of Beuron in Germany, the meticulous and somewhat rigid Dom Maurus Wolter. Dom Guéranger had, at this time, a quarter of a century of experience as founding abbot of Solesmes. He had learned, on his own, how to foster unity of purpose and of means in a community of men from a variety of backgrounds, many of them clerics, and each one having, and sometimes clinging to, his own idea of what monastic life ought to be. Dom Guéranger governed with gentleness, with love, and with an astonishing breadth of view. This is what he wrote . . . personally, I take it to heart here at Silverstream Priory, and try to put it into practice.

Take care of your health; you need it, and it doesn't belong to you.
Making use of every means, foster a holy liberty of spirit among your monks, and do everything to make them love their state of life more than anything else in the world.
Make yourself loved always and in all things. Be a mother rather than a father to your sons.
Imitate the patience of God, and don't demand of spring the fruits of autumn.
Always be approachable to all; avoid etiquette and ceremony. Come as close as you can to the familiarity you have seen practised at Solesmes.
Adapt yourself to everyoe, and don't try to adapt others to yourself, because God created us all different, and you are really the servant of all, like Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Take scrupulous care of the health of each one, and don't wait for a serious infirmity before giving a dispensation.
Establish the observance gradually, and don't be afraid to take a step backwards when you see that you have gone too far.
Don't worry yourself too much about the contacts with the outside world that your religious may have, if they have the spirit of their state, and if it is a question of the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Remember that the spirit of faith is the one and only basis of the monastic life.
Inspire the love of the Sacred Liturgy, which is the centre of all Christianity.
Have your monks study with love the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis, the Annals, and also the history of individual monasteries.
Take care that they study theology, especially Saint Thomas, Canon Law, and Church history.
Finally, strive to increase in your sons love of the Church and of the Holy See.

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This morning, following the blessing of the statue of Jesus King of Love at the end of Holy Mass, we made the following Act of Consecration:

O JESUS, KING OF LOVE,
WITH TRUST IN THY MERCIFUL GOODNESS,

we consecrate ourselves to Thee;
and offer to Thy Sacred Heart
all that we have received from Thee:
our life itself,
our strength, and our talents,
our desires, our works, and our humble efforts.
At the same time we offer Thee
our weaknesses and our inconsistencies,
our fears, our failures, and even our sins,
for there is nothing of ours
that Thy merciful love cannot redeem, and heal,
restore, and turn to Thy Father's glory.

Thou hast come to us in Thy image,
and so we come to Thee
to offer Thee what is already Thine:
the church built to Thy glory sixty years ago,
this house and all the constructions adjacent to it,
the entire property of Silverstream,
its fields, its water, its woodlands,
and all Thy creatures therein.

By the light of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the fire of Thy Eucharistic Heart:
make Silverstream entirely Thine:
a little kingdom where Thy Love holds sway,
and in which all are subject to Thee.

O Jesus, King of Love,
make this monastery a hospital for the healing of sick souls,
a safe refuge for fearful and anxious souls,
a welcoming home for poor and restless souls.

Here, O King of Love,
let sinners be converted;
here, let the lukewarm be set ablaze;
here, reveal to Thy friends the secrets of Thy Sacred Heart.

Here, let souls receive the gifts of Thy Divine Friendship:
perseverance in prayer, peace of mind, and purity of heart.
Here, make Thy servants joyful in a shining chastity,
and ardent in an unassailable purity.
Here, raise up those who have fallen,
give light to those who are in darkness,
give courage to those beset by fear.

O King of Love,
so establish the sovereign rule of Thy Heart in this monastery and over it,
that it will become a garden enclosed,
a sanctuary of silence and of peace,
a place of tranquil order, where beauty is at home.

Cast out from this place the powers of darkness,
the enemies of our souls,
the cruel tempters of Thine anointed,
and the bodiless persecutors of those who would live for Thee alone.

Impart to all who live here,
or labour here,
or visit here,
or in any way participate in this monastery's growth,
a share in the incomparable grace of spiritual childhood,
and an unfailing light along the path of confidence
and abandonment to Thy merciful love.

O Jesus, King of Love,
meek and humble of heart,
rule over this, Thy little kingdom;
make all herein the faithful subjects of Thy Love,
the adorers of Thy Eucharistic Face,
and the friends of Thy Eucharistic Heart.

Having lived in Thine intimacy here below,
vouchsafe that we may pass from this life
to the glory of heaven,
there to praise Thy merciful goodness
in the company of Thy Immaculate Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary,
of Saint Joseph, Saint John, Thy Beloved Disciple,
Saint Benedict, Saint Thérèse, Blessed Abbot Marmion,
Thy servant Mother Yvonne-Aimée,
the Holy Angels, and all Thine elect,
forever, and unto the ages of ages.
Amen.


Benedictines and Adorers

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On the occasion of his visit to the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz on 9 September 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said:

In a monastery of Benedictine spirit, the praise of God, which the monks sing as a solemn choral prayer, always has priority. Monks are certainly - thank God! - not the only people who pray; others also pray: children, the young and the old, men and women, the married and the single - all Christians pray, or at least, they should!
In the life of monks, however, prayer takes on a particular importance: it is the heart of their calling. Their vocation is to be men of prayer. In the patristic period the monastic life was likened to the life of the angels. It was considered the essential mark of the angels that they are adorers. Their very life is adoration. This should hold true also for monks.
Monks pray first and foremost not for any specific intention, but simply because God is worthy of being praised. "Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus! - Praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy is eternal!": so we are urged by a number of Psalms (e.g. Ps 106:1). Such prayer for its own sake, intended as pure divine service, is rightly called officium. It is "service" par excellence, the "sacred service" of monks. It is offered to the triune God who, above all else, is worthy "to receive glory, honour and power" (Rev 4:11), because he wondrously created the world and even more wondrously renewed it.

Monastic Cult and Monastic Culture

An attentive look at monastic history through the ages reveals that dedication to the primacy of the Divine Office has variously waxed and waned. Where it has waxed, the monastic grace has wonderfully flourished; where it has waned, every other dimension of monastic culture has suffered in consequence. Cult (from the Latin cultus for worship) is, in fact, the matrix of culture.

Eucharistic Adoration

What about those monasteries in which, in addition to the daily Conventual Mass and choral celebration of the Divine Office, there were various expressions of Eucharistic adoration? Looking at history, one notes that while monastic houses of women adorers abounded after the thirteenth century, especially in the Low Countries, few houses of men militating under the Rule of Saint Benedict were inspired to make a similar corporate commitment to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Undoubtedly, there was a lurking and not altogether unfounded fear, that Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or otherwise prolonged, assumed in addition to the daily round of the Opus Dei, would lead to a loss of the characteristically Benedictine value of balance and moderation.

The Monks of Corpus Christi

The first monks under the Rule of Saint Benedict to adopt Eucharistic adoration as an identifying characteristic belonged to the Umbrian Congregation of Corpus Christi, founded by the Blessed Andrea di Paolo in 1328. The Monks of Corpus Christi, or Corpocristiani were aggregated to the Benedictine Congregation of Monte Oliveto by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The last Corpus Christi Benedictine, Tommaso di Bastiano di Sterpete, of Foligno, died in 1640.

The Picpus Fathers

The Picpus Fathers, so called from the street of their first house in Paris, were founded under the Rule of Saint Benedict in 1800 by Father Pierre Coudrin and Mother Henriette Aymer de la Chevalerie. The full title of this religious family is a very long one but it expresses completely their founding grace: "The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar." Although members of the Congregation would identify themselves as missionary rather than classically Benedictine, the Rule of Saint Benedict remains for them a reference, and Eucharistic adoration is integral to their charism.

The most famous member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts is Saint Damien of Molokai. Father Damien's compassionate devotion to those suffering from leprosy was the fruit of the intimate knowledge of the pierced Side of Christ that came to him in long hours of adoration before the tabernacle. It is a little known fact that Father Damien laboured to establish perpetual adoration of the Eucharist among his dear lepers. In this there is something astonishingly beautiful; the sight of lepers adoring day and night the Suffering Servant who, disfigured in his Passion, became, "as one from whom men screen their faces" (Is 53:3), the "Lord of Glory" (1 Cor 2:8) whose face is "all the beauty of holy souls" (Litany of the Holy Face).

Dom Maréchal and the Abbey of Pont-Colbert

To the best of my knowledge, the next foundation of monks identified by Eucharistic adoration emerged only in 1892 when Dom Marie-Bernard Maréchal, a former Priest of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and disciple of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, established the Abbey of Pont-Colbert near Versailles, France, for the Cistercian Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Father Paul Maréchal, later Dom Marie-Bernard, left the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament after the death of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, when his proposal to have the Blessed Sacrament Fathers adopt the Rule of Saint Benedict was rejected at a General Chapter of the Institute. In the wake of persecutions by the anticlerical French government at the beginning of the last century, the Cistercian Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament migrated to Marienkroon in Holland. Marienkroon, in turn, founded in 1929 the now defunct monastery of Val d'Espoir in the Canadian Gaspé peninsula, and brought its influence to bear upon the Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank in Sparta, Wisconsin.

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Abbot Celestino Maria Colombo, O.S.B. (1874-1935)

The Olivetan Benedictine, Dom Celestino Maria Colombo, was appointed abbot of the Sanctuary of La Madonna del Pilastrello at Lendinara (Rovigo) by motu proprio of Pope Benedict XV on 15 December 1920. Abbot Celestino Maria was a devoted and tireless spiritual father to the Benedictine Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Monastery of Ghiffa. Later, he exercised the same role monasteries aggregated to Ghiffa in central and southern Italy, including that of Piedimonte Matese, which monastery I have known for thirty-five years.

The Annals of the Monastery of Ghiffa relate:

After having studied in depth the Constitutions and books of the Institute, after having practiced the spirit of them to an heroic degree, after having grounded the community in this same spirit, with a patient, enlightened, and prudent zeal, he asked for the grace of possessing our holy habit, of practicing our holy Constitutions, of being a true member of the Institute, a true victim of the Most Holy Sacrament.
The nuns, in a unanimous joy, received the eucharistic vow of the Reverend Father. Since that day uninterrupted requests and prayers have been raised to heaven so that the Institute will have, at last, its complement to the glory of the Eucharist and so that the last breath of our great father Benedict will generate sons of the Host to the Host, Benedictine Adorers, the priestly victims to sustain and save the Church in the difficult last times. And so may it be.

The location of a little sanctuary dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity near the monastery of Ronco di Ghiffa, revived in Dom Celestino a desire that had never gone away: the birth of a Benedictine community of men dedicated to adoration and reparation of the Eucharist. One reads in the same Annals, that coming down, one day from the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity to the monastery, he expressed "the wish that Eucharistic Benedictine Fathers would come one day to the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity."

It is probable that this lively aspiration was never erased from the heart of Dom Celestino, enamoured as he was of the Eucharistic ideal proposed by Mother de Bar, and lived so well by the nuns of the monastery of Ghiffa. He had absorbed and appropriated for himself the spirit of the Benedictine Institute of Perpetual Adoration, to the point of living it faithfully and fostering its growth in every possible way until his saintly death on 24 September 1935.

Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle/Silverstream Priory

Silverstream Priory, founded under the patronage of Our Lady of the Cenacle, came to birth in the diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the context of the Year of the Priesthood. Early in 2012 the fledgling monastic community accepted an invitation to take root in County Meath, Ireland. The monastery is a response to the letter of Claudio Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, dated December 8, 2007. In that letter, HIs Eminence said:

We are asking, therefore, all diocesan Ordinaries who apprehend in a particular way the specificity and irreplaceability of the ordained ministry in the life of the Church, together with the urgency of a common action in support of the ministerial priesthood, to take an active role and promote--in the different portions of the People of God entrusted to them--true and proper cenacles in which clerics, religious and lay people --united among themselves in the spirit of true communion--may devote themselves to prayer, in the form of continuous Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of genuine and authentic reparation and purification.

In the Explanatory Note accompanying the same letter, His Eminence asks that:

Each diocese appoint a priest who will devote himself full time - as far as possible - to the specific ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration and coordinating this important service in the diocese. Dedicating himself generously to this ministry, this priest will be able to live this particular dimension of liturgical, theological, spiritual and pastoral life, possibly in a place specifically set aside for this purpose by the bishop himself, where the faithful will benefit from perpetual Eucharistic adoration.

Why More Monks?

In his Decree of Erection of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, Bishop Edward J. Slattery, exposed the rationale behind this new foundation. His Excellency wrote:

With these concerns and exhortations in mind, and with the good of the priests and indeed all the faithful of the Diocese of Tulsa close to my heart, it is my intention to respond to these timely suggestions of the Holy See to the best of my ability.
Reflecting upon our particular needs, and upon the current resources with which we are blessed, it seems that such an endeavor might best be accomplished by a new monastic community under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Rather than have only a single priest dedicated to Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of the clergy, I deem it advantageous to enrich our local Church with a monastic community to whom I give this particular mandate. Professing the vows of stability, conversatio morum, and obedience according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Constitutions of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, the Benedictine Monks, Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will be characterized by the particular charism of (a) Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests and the spiritual renewal of the clergy in the whole Church; (b) reparation for the sins that disfigure the Face of Christ the Priest; and (c) the sacramental and spiritual support of the clergy by means of monastic hospitality, spiritual direction, and retreats.

Your Prayerful Support

For my part, I can only recommend our new beginning in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland, to the fervent prayers of all my readers. Our initiative springs, not from any personal ambition, but from the very heart of the Church: Ecclesia de Eucharistia.


The Work Goes Forward

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Thanks to Tony Caffrey of Caffrey's Stone in Drogheda, visitors and passers-by can now identify the entrances to Silverstream Priory. Tony was here last week to install two beautiful granite signs on the stone wall facing the road.

Slowly but surely the work of restoration, renovation, and adaptation of the monastic buildings is progressing. We are blessed to have Frank Brennan leading our team of volunteer labourers.

Anyone interested in volunteering his time and skill can send us a message via the contact page on our monastery website. We need tradesmen of all sorts, in particular:

• plasterers
• electricians
• joiners
• landscapers
• gardeners
• painters
• blocklayers
• floor refinishers

We are happy to receive online donations for tools and other construction needs. See the DONATE ONLINE option on our website.

Horarium Updated

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This painting of the Maternal Heart of Mary, commissioned by the Venerable Mother Mary Potter in Rome in the 1890s, has now found a home in our temporary monastic Oratory. The painting was the gift of a family dear to the monastery. You will note the green land and blue sea under Our Lady's feet. It is very evocative of our location here in Stamullen, close to the Irish Sea.

As of Pentecost, 27 May 2012, a revised horarium is in effect at Silverstream Priory. Please visit our website for the details.

Please note, in particular, that Holy Mass is at 10:00 a.m., every day of the week except Monday, when it is at 9:00 a.m. Vespers is at 6:00 p.m. daily, with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament following on Thursdays and Sundays.

A Winning Team

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The renovation of the monastery is a collaborative long term work. We are blessed with a winning team. Here, in the priory church under renovation, you see our brilliant architect, Adrian Buckley together with a young Spanish intern from his office.

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Studying plans in the garden outside the priory church are (left to right): Frank Brennan (Project Manager); Father Prior; Sean Ascough (Engineer); and Adrian Buckley (Architect).

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View of the priory church. Beyond the white metal fence is the monastic cemetery. The nave of the church will contain the monastic choir. Two transepts, to the right and left of the sanctuary (not visible) will be reserved for visitors. The priory grounds seen here will be part of the monastic enclosure, open to outsiders only for the procession on the feast of Corpus Christi and similar outdoor liturgical processions.

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Here you see the side of the priory facing east. On the lower level you see the windows of the refectory. On the first level you see the windows of the temporary Oratory. Once the renovation of the church is complete, the temporary Oratory will become the library.

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Gratitude

I am profoundly grateful to Our Lord for bringing me to such a beautiful place on His earth. The view of the Irish Sea in the distance lifts the heart to God. The entire property was dedicated to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus by the Brothers of Saint of John of God in 1940. She has watched over it, kept it for us, and led us to it. We ask her now to obtain the funds necessary to pass from a lease to purchase. This means raising 600,000 Euros. Might there not be six benefactors willing to offer 100,000 Euros each?

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In the Radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

The monastery and property are destined to become a place of beauty, silence, healing, and peace, not only for the monastic community, but especially for the priests from near and far who will make their way here in search of the Face of Christ. The splendour of Our Lord's Eucharistic Face radiates over the entire property.

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Saint Thérèse

Adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the little monastic church of Silverstream Priory, long dedicated to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus will be, without any doubt, pleasing to The Little Flower who wrote:

Divine Jesus, here truly is the ultimate limit of thy love; after having made visible to feeble creatures thy adorable Face, the brightness of which even the seraphim cannot bear, thou wishest to hide it beneath a veil even thicker than that of human nature . . . but Jesus, I see the splendour of Thy countenance radiant in the Host.

Silverstream Priory, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Cenacle and Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, is a place of great natural beauty. The radiance of Our Lord's Eucharistic Face, contemplated and adored here, will make it a place of supernatural beauty as well. Where there is beauty, there is healing, because all created beauty here below, that of earth, and sea, and sky, and stars, suggests that, behind it all and before it all, there is an Uncreated Beauty who yearns to show us His Face.

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The visit of the Pudewa Family from Oklahoma -- Andrew, Robin, Christopher, and Elizabeth -- came wrapped in the graces of Holy Week and Pascha. Robin is an Oblate of the monastery.

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During the first days of unpacking, demolition, and construction, we ate all together in the kitchen. Here from left to right are: Andrew Pudewa, Robin Pudewa, Father Prior, Pat Cullen, Brother Benedict, J.B. Kelly, and Kevin Symonds. We have since moved into the refectory.

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Chris Pudewa and John Kelly engage in a little lighthearted comedy during a demolition job. At one point we had two men named John Kelly working in the house at the same time: J.B. Kelly from Missouri, and John Kelly from County Limerick.

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Here is our kitchen. You can see that it needs work. There are no counters or usable cabinets for food preparation and storage. The arrangement of the sink (not shown) is very impractical. The kitchen needs to be renovated completely. The new refrigerator was a gift from our neighbours Mary and Bill.

Life at Silverstream Priory

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Help from Good Neighbours

God has blessed us with wonderful neighbours here in Stamullen. Just today, Colin Whelan and his son Sean were here to help us with an internet installation. Colin is the managing director of a communications company called Omnisys -- Keeping It Simple. He is an extraordinarily capable and generous man. 6 year old Sean told me that he wants to own a pet shop and train dogs when he grows up.

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Hilda Joins the Fun

Colin and Sean joined us in the kitchen for a cup of tea. Hilda provided the craich. Young Sean Whelan took to Hilda instantly, and she to him.

Ora et Labora

The work in the priory is moving forward. I am amazed at how much has been done since we moved in on Monday of Holy Week. We have a brilliant team of workers. Project Manager Frank Brennan (and his wife Mary, an interior designer) fell right out of heaven to take charge of the work and get the job done. "Sparky" (electrician) Peter Sammon from Dublin is keeping our wiring safe and simple. All-around construction worker John Kelly can do just about anything. Now returned to the U.S. is J.B. Kelly, the heroic worker of the first hour. We miss J.B. very much, and look forward to his return. Also from the U.S. came the Pudewa family: Robin, Andrew, Christopher, and Elizabeth. The Pudewas helped us in hundreds of ways; Robin worked culinary wonders in our rather primitive kitchen. Friend Patrick Cullen from Rathkenny continues to come by several times a week.

In addition to the volunteer workers, we are happy to have three men here for a "come and see" experience of monastic life: Mark, an Irishman from the Cooley Peninsula, Kevin from South Carolina, and David from Oklahoma. Each man, with his unique gifts, contributes to the day-to-day life of the monastery.

As things now stand, we are having Matins early in the morning, followed by a time of adoration; Lauds and Prime at 8:00; Tierce and Holy Mass at 11:00; Sext after Mass; None at 3:30; Vespers, Rosary, and adoration at 5:00; and Compline at about 8:00. Brother Benedict has been preparing the main meal (at 1:00) and, as of last Wednesday, we are eating in silence in the refectory, with reading.

Work Day at Silverstream Priory

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We were blessed today with a crew of extraordinary workers from Dublin, all graduates of the Cenacolo community and members of the Legion of Mary.

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The lads worked with great enthusiasm. They even prayed the Rosary together while they worked. Frank Duff is surely very proud of this latest generation of Legion of Mary apostles.

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After several tea breaks and time for Confessions, our workers took the road back to Dublin promising to return to Silverstream Priory in the very near future.

Silverstream Priory

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Dear Oblates, friends, and benefactors,

When we first accepted the invitation to relocate to Stamullen in County Meath, we chose to follow Irish custom and call our monastery by the name of the place. Not knowing much about the history of our future monastery, we opted for Stamullen Priory. Since that time, other considerations -- important ones -- have come to light.

Yesterday, while helping us clean out an old press, Patrick Cullen, one of our volunteers found a map of the property dating from 1910. On the map, the house is designated Silverstream House. It is so called after the little stream that runs through the property. Read about the history of Silverstream House here.

The unanimous opinion of the local people, our new neighbours in Stamullen, is that our monastery should be called Silverstream Priory, in continuity with the traditional name of the property. We have decided, then, to follow the advice of our friends here, and call our monastery Silverstream Priory. The dedication of the monastery to Our Lady of the Cenacle and to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face remains unchanged.

More evidence emerged today. The document attesting to the erection of the Way of the Cross in the monastery church on 14 July 1952 identifies the place as Sanctae Teresiae, apud Silverstream.

Silverstream has lovely biblical and liturgical resonances. Among them would be these:

Psalm 45:5
The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.

Isaias 59:19
And they from the west, shall fear the name of the Lord: and they from the rising of the sun, his glory: when he shall come as a violent stream, which the spirit of the Lord driveth on.

Apocalypse 22:1-5
And he shewed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his Face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more: and they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever.

May it please the Holy Ghost to make Silverstream Priory a place of living water, of spiritual refreshment, of purification, and of supernatural fruitfulness for the joy of Ireland and of the whole Church.

In lumine vultus Iesu,
Father Prior

Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland

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Joy and Gratitude

I woke up this morning with the opening verse of Psalm 44 in my heart and on my lips" "My heart overfloweth with a goodly theme; I shall sing my ode to the King." Quite simply, I am happy, and immensely grateful to be here in Ireland on this feast of Saint Patrick.

Divine Providence

Since arriving here I have witnessed a succession of little miracles, signs of the Father's loving providence. It is very humbling to see first-hand how close God is to those who seek Him, attending to every detail and providing for every need. Yesterday, together with J.B. Kelly, a young American from Missouri, and Frank Brennan, a stalwart Irish volunteer I spent the day at Stamullen, and met there with our brilliant architect, Mr. Buckley. The work has begun! Mr. Buckley's plans set before my eyes a vision of what the monastery will be: a place of chaste beauty, of light, of simplicity, and of harmony. His plans for the restoration and renovation of the priory church are, in every way, worthy of the house of the Lord.

David Craig Writes to You

On the other side of the Atlantic, my good friend, and now our chief fundraiser, David Craig, has also been hard at work. Specifically for Saint Patrick's Day, Dave wrote a letter of appeal that comes straight from his heart. You will find that letter here. I am full of gratitude to David Craig for reaching out to all of you, readers of Vultus Christi, and for saying, in his words, exactly what needs to be said.

Holy Mass Offered for You Today

I will offer Holy Mass today for all the Oblates, friends, and benefactors of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle that, following Irish custom, will be called more familiarly, Silverstream Priory, after the village in County Meath where it is located. I entrust David Craig's appeal to the intercession of the glorious Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, and to that of Saint Thérèse, who has shown herself such a powerful advocate in this adventure of faith.

Thank you for taking the time to read David Craig's letter, and thank you for responding to it generously. It is time to render love for love.

History of Silverstream Priory

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Brother Benedict posted a fascinating history of Silverstream Priory on our monastery website. To read it, go here. The photograph above would date, I think, from the 1940s. Today there are mature trees and plantings. The Priory grounds are beautifully landscaped.

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Brother Benedict took this photo of the road outside our new home, Silverstream Priory, on the very day of our arrival in Ireland.

Hilda en route to Ireland

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Faithful Vultus Christi reader Mariana asked, "Where is Hilda?" Hilda is also en route to Ireland. She will fly out of Chicago to Dublin later this week. We will greet her in Ireland. Hilda travels well. She is a wonderful creature of the good God.

Priory Church in Stamullen

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Just as we were about to board our flight in Tulsa, we received an email from Brother Thomas O'Grady of the Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God. The email contained photographs of the priory church in Stamullen. The Hospitallers occupied the monastery in Stamullen from 1941 until 1955. The little church was dedicated, under the patronage of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, on May 18th, 1952. We will, please God, be settled in our new monastery in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the dedication of the church.

In viam pacis

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Having prayed Lauds and the Itinerarium, we are on our way! Brother Benedict and I are waiting for our flight to Chicago, whence we shall board our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. A group of loving friends accompanied us to the Tulsa Airport to see us off. Our hearts are full of gratitude for all those who have worked with us tirelessly over the past weeks to make this venture of faith possible. It hardly seems possible that we will be in Ireland tomorrow morning. I ask the readers of Vultus Christi to hold us in their prayers.

New Monastery Website!

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Visit Today

Come and see! Our new website is here. We have wanted for some time to have a website for the monastery, distinct from Vultus Christi. Brother Benedict has created a website that is simple, attractively designed, rich in content, and user-friendly.

Questions Asked and Questions Answered

Some of you may have heard that at the end of February 2012, with Bishop Slattery's permission, blessing, and encouragement, we will be relocating to Ireland. There has been much speculation in some quarters -- not all of it helpful -- as to why we are going to the Isle of Saints and Scholars.

It is difficult to do anything at all without drawing criticism, but the fear of being criticized and misunderstood should not paralyze one from taking risks in faith, once a particular inspiration has been carefully discerned and has received the blessing of competent authority within the Church.

For my part, the joy of this new step far outweighs the sorrow of yet another detachment in my life. My experience and knowledge of Our Lord's love far outweigh the experience and knowledge of my own weakness. It is fear that snuffs out new life. It is trust in the faithful and merciful love of Christ that permits one to follow the sound of His voice, even on those days when a dense fog should make all movement perilous, and in those nights when the light of the moon and stars seems to have receded into an impenetrable darkness.

Our Newsletter, First Issue

The first issue of our newsletter, In Coenaculo, deals with these questions and answers them. You can download the newsletter here.

Profound Gratitude

My own desire was to relocate humbly and quietly, without drawing any attention to ourselves. We are going to Ireland to do what all monks everywhere do: we are going there to pray. We are going out of a profound gratitude for all that the sons and daughters of Ireland have given to the upbuilding of the Catholic Church in the United States. We are going to disappear into the heart of the Church in Ireland, to be love in the heart of that Church, and of the Church universal.

A Mere Mustard Seed

Brother Benedict and I are going over to Ireland like the tiny mustard seed. We are very little; the grace of Christ is immense. We are very frail; the grace of Christ is strong. We are probably very foolish; but the grace of Christ will make us wise. We are supported in our mission, not only by our beloved father in God, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa, but also by our growing Oblate family in the U.S. We are, moreover, prepared to receive God-seeking men once we are settled in our new home.

A Monastic Mission

Ours is a mission to Ireland, it is true, but a mission that seeks not to teach, but to learn by abiding before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus; not to preach much, but to listen intently to the secrets of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus; not to reform anything or anyone but to reform ourselves by the steady and quiet pursuit of the conversion of our own hearts.

Deacon Keith Fournier on Catholic Online

Deacon Keith Fournier of Catholic Online has written a beautiful article on our monastic mission to Ireland. Whereas many folks seem not to "get it," Deacon Fournier does, and he "gets it" in such a way that one comes away from reading his article feeling humbled, grateful, and on fire with a holy charity. Thank you, Deacon Fournier.

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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