Blessed Virgin Mary: November 2008 Archives

"22 Anni di Messa"

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Measuring Time Eucharistically

The Italian expression for one's anniversary of ordination to the priesthood is so many years "di Messa". Today I am giving thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ for 22 "years of Mass." I find the Italian way of saying it very beautiful: the life of a priest is measured eucharistically. What matters, above all else, is his time before the altar, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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An Unexpected Gift

Yesterday, after I spoke on spiritual maternity in favour of priests to a rather large group of Catholic ladies, one of them approached me saying that she felt compelled to give me a woven image of the Blessed Virgin Mary adoring the Most Holy Eucharist that had been entrusted to her. She drove to her home to get the image and returned with it in less than a half hour. Woven in black and white silk, and beautifully framed, it was produced by the Maison Neyret Frères early in the last century. At the bottom of the picture is a single word: Adoratio.

The woven image is an interpretation of the Vierge à l'hostie painted by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in 1841. One can see the original painting in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, in Moscow.

That this particular image should be given me for the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus on the eve of begining my 23rd year as a priest is significant, encouraging me in my "vocation within a vocation" to adore the Blessed Sacrament on behalf of all priests everywhere.

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In Solitude and Adoration

I celebrated my 22 anni di Messa in solitude and adoration, adding at Holy Mass the orations provided "for the priest himself" on this occasion:


Almighty and merciful God,
listen graciously to my humble prayers.
Not for any deserts of my own,
but because Thy mercy knows no bounds,
Thou hast appointed me to serve Thy heavenly mysteries.
Make me a worthy minister of Thy sacred altars,
and let the words I utter
be hallowed and ratified by Thee.
Through our Lord.


By virtue of this sacrament, Lord,
wash away the sins that stain my soul,
and grant that Thy grace may render me worthy
to fulfil the duties of my priestly office.
Through our Lord.


Almighty, everlasting God,
by whose will, I, a sinner,
serve at Thy sacred altars and extol the power of Thy Holy Name,
have mercy,
and through this sacramental rite forgive my sins,
making me fit to serve Thy majesty.
Through our Lord.

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Maria Sieler

Almost a year ago I wrote an entry entitled, Maria Sieler: A Life Offered for Priests. Recently I finished reading a presentation of Maria Siedler's life and mission: Un nouveau printemps pour l'Eglise, Maria Sieler: vie et mission (Éditions du Parvis, Hauteville, Suisse, 1995), by the Reverend Father Josef Fiedler, S.J. I intend, little by little, to translate excerpts from the book and make them available here. Given that tomorrow morning I will be addressing a group of Catholic women on the mission of spiritual maternity in favour of priests, I decided to translate this passage tonight:

Spiritual Mother to the Clergy

The Redeemer made me a precious but strange promise today: he put me at the disposal of His Church as "spiritual mother" to the clergy. All my sacrifices and all my sorrows, all that I have acquired in hard struggle and borne for good, all moral perfection, my extraordinary spiritual mission in conformity with my union with Jesus, all of that -- He made me understand -- constitutes a spiritual treasury for the priesthood. All my inner conquests show themselves to be, in some way, fruitful for the consecrated ones. [Maria Sieler often refers to priests as "the consecrated ones."]
All the graces of my interior life are, so to speak, the property of the clergy. Priests can draw from them: each one will obtain from the Lord that for which he implores Him; for this treasure is offered through me, in Christ, who won it in advance. . . . Just as a mother transmits her dispositions to her descendants, in the same way, my interior life and all the inherent graces -- in particular the communion established with Christ -- will be passed on, like a heritage, and will act efficaciously in the Church. . . . To back up His promise, the Saviour said to me: "I give you my Word in pledge of that." (14 July 1944)

All for Priests

A woman called to spiritual maternity in favour of priests keeps nothing for herself. All that she has received from Christ -- all that she has acquired by His grace in the way of victories over sin, virtues, and merits; all her prayers, her penances; and, above all, her confident surrender to Divine Providence in the little things of daily life -- all of these things belong no longer to her, but rather to the souls of priests.

A Kind of Dispensary

The spiritual mother of priests becomes a kind of dispensary wherein Christ places whatever remedies His priests may need in their spiritual infirmities and weaknesses. She offers her heart, in imitation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, to Our Lord, saying, "Use me, O Lord, as Thou wilt for the healing and sanctification of Thy priests. Unite the offering of myself to Thine own Offering on the Altar of the Cross and, then, let the all the fruits of our union be dispensed to Thy priests, especially to the weakest and most wounded among them."

Sancta Maria in Sabbato

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Our Lady's Day

Every Saturday of the Blessed Virgin Mary brings with it a fresh infusion of grace. One cannot commemorate the Immaculate Mother of God without experiencing her nearness, without inhaling the fragrance of her purity, without entering into communion with the joys, the sorrows, and the glories of her heart. I have long loved the Office and Mass de Beata (of the Blessed Virgin) on Saturday.

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena

The traditional invitatory antiphon at Matins is -- unlike other invitatory antiphons of the Divine Office -- addressed directly to the Mother of God. It is a jubilant renewal of the Angel's salutation: Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum; Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Repeated after each strophe of Psalm 94, the Venite, it becomes a kind of meditatio: the loving repetition of a message from heaven, one of inexhaustible meaning and sweetness.

Waiting, She Waited

Saturday is Our Lady's day. Ever since, waiting, she waited, -- Expectans expectavi Dominum (Psalm 39:1) -- in the awful silence of that first Great Sabbath, with all the faith and hope of the saints in ages to come like a little flame held in her heart, the Church has remembered her on Saturday.

Retrieving the Treasure

The disappearance of Saturday morning Masses in so many places and, by consequence, the loss of the weekly commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a terrible impoverishment of the Church's inner life. Even those who celebrate the Divine Office are affected; the Saturday Office of Our Lady is often neglected or forgotten. It is vital that Catholics everywhere reconnect with this age-old custom and retrieve its treasures.

A Joy that Rises like the Dawn

The particular forma vitae, or pattern of life, given me by my Bishop when I began this new mission in the Diocese of Tulsa last August 21st, reminds me that I am to live every Saturday as the Great Sabbath of Christ's resting in the tomb, united with Mary in her solitude and hope. Hidden in this is the secret of a joy that rises like the dawn.

P.S. I did not forget the commemoration of the Four Crowned Martyrs! How could I? When I lived in Rome their basilica was the preferred destination of many a passeggiata

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory