Blessed Virgin Mary: December 2012 Archives

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Reparation to the Mother of God

As I continue to study and pray over the the writings of Catherine-Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698), I am obliged to seek help from above so as to understand them rightly, translate them faithfully, and transmit their essential message humbly, that is, without allowing my own prejudices or presuppositions to interfere with the process. I could easily pass over certain expressions of devotion, or acquiesce to them, without sufficiently grasping their meaning and their value. One such practice would be that of making reparation to the Mother of God.

In her Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 20, Mother Mectilde writes:

They shall make their Communions on Saturday in honour of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and of all her mysteries, especially that of her Immaculate Conception, and of her Divine Maternity. The love for the Most Holy Sacrament, which the Holy Spirit imprints in the hearts of those who offer themselves in sacrifice with our Divine Saviour, will also enkindle in them a zeal for the honour of His Most Holy Mother. For this reason, they will also, each one in turn, make honorable amendment at Holy Mass on her feast days and on all the Saturdays of the year, as indicated in the Ceremonial.

The Object of Universal Honour and Grateful Affection

How are we to understand the notion of reparation to the Mother of God? What is the theology behind such a practice? I would say, first of all, that it is fitting that the Immaculate Heart of Mary, overflowing with a most tender charity for the souls redeemed by her Divine Son, should be the object of universal honour and grateful affection. Mary is the New Eve, the Mother of the Living, immaculate and full of every perfection in view of her Divine Motherhood. The maternal solicitude of her most pure Heart, created sinless for the Only-Begotten Son of God, and as a fit dwelling-place for the Holy Ghost, extends to the vast multitude of those redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb.

There is no man who has lived, or who is living, or who is yet to be born, who does not owe the Virgin Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord, and the Mother of the Lamb, the filial honours of a grateful heart. To refuse Mary the unique place given her by God in his Holy Economy (the divine master-plan) is not only to scorn the priceless gift of a Virgin Mother; it is also to offend the munificent Creator and Giver of the gift. There is nothing sadder, nothing more tragic, even in purely human terms, than a mother by her children scorned.

I Want to Love You for All the Others

Consider a mother of many sons, utterly devoted to each one of them, who finds a response to her love only in the heart of her first-born. The last and littlest one of all, observing this, one day allows himself to be brought to the mother, having taken the hand of the eldest son. Inspired by love, and moved by a guileless candour, he says, "Mother, I want to love you for all the others, and I want to make up to you the love that my brothers refuse you or forget to give you."

Communion of Reparation

A matter of pious sentimentality? No -- a matter of the heart, and also of a humble submission to the plan of God, who wills that all generations should magnify the Mother of God, who, without loss to her virginity, gave birth to God the Word. Mother Mectilde understood the rightness of such an impulse of the heart towards the Heart of Mary, and she bequeathed to her spiritual progeny the practice of a communion of reparation, by which we, receiving the adorable mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, present ourselves to His Virgin Mother, enriched with all that His Sacred Heart holds in her regard. Thus united to the First-Born, do we, the littlest of her sons, tell her that we would love her with such tenderness and gratitude as to make up for the indifference and ingratitude of our brothers. Thus would we console her maternal Heart that never stops loving the many who have for her not so much as a word, a glance, or even an affectionate thought.

The heart has its order, the mind its own, which uses principles and demonstrations. The heart has a different one. We do not prove that we ought to be loved by setting out in order the causes of love; that would be absurd. Jesus Christ and St Paul possess the order of charity, not the order of the mind, for they wished to humble, not to teach. (Pascal, Blaise. Pensées. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Fragment 298, p. 94)

A Filial Affection, Childlike and Simple

Reparation to the Mother of God belongs to Pascal's order of charity. The little and the poor grasp the rightness of it intuitively, while the sophisticated, and those whose inflated reason blinds them to higher things, bristle at the thought of it. Let us, then, concede -- no, let us embrace the rightness of offering the Mother of God a filial affection so childlike and so simple that it will, in some way -- known ultimately to God alone, and to Mary's Immaculate Heart -- make up for the impiety of those who, in neglecting the Mother, or in dishonouring her privileges, offend Him who wills that all generations should call her blessed and full of grace.

In a World Waiting to Hear the Gospel of Christmas

We monks of Silverstream Priory have no reason to shrink from the 17th century practice of making reparation to the Sacred and Maternal Heart of Mary by receiving the adorable Body and Blood of her Son, and by offering her the filial sentiments of His most loving Heart, united sacramentally to our own. We understand that the practice of offering the Mother of God honourable amendment on Saturday and on her feasts, is authorized by those reasons of the heart, that the heart alone understands. In a world waiting to hear the Gospel of Christmas, there are many who deny the great things that the Almighty has done for the Virgin Mary; there are those who make light of her incomparable privileges and scorn her lowliness. Let there be, also, a few who, like the shepherds, approach the Virgin Mother and, in offering her homage of their simple manly hearts, bring to the grotto that gave shelter to her, to Saint Joseph, and to the Divine Child, the warmth of grateful love and affection .

Ave, Maria, gratia plena

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As Mary was, so is the Church today, virgin and handmaid; at the beginning of the year's liturgy, she waits for everything from the Lord's grace. Those who would receive Christ and bring Him forth must become like her . . . her soul was virginal, so well cut loose from everything of earth, so humble before God, that He could wholly fill her. (D. Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass Through the Year)

Sunday of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent

The Fourth Sunday of Advent belongs to Our Blessed Lady. Venerable Pope Paul VI, influenced, no doubt, by the ancient practice of the venerable Church of Milan, desired that the Fourth Sunday of Advent should become a veritable festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As he intimates in Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI wanted to envelop the Christmas mystery in the gentle presence of the Virgin Mother.

By dedicating the Fourth Sunday of Advent to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and by restoring to January 1st, the feast of the Circumcision, its ancient title of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Pope Paul VI sought to give us the Infant Christ, the Redeemer of the world, circled round by the tenderness of the Blessed Virgin.

Our Lady: Indispensable to the Advent of Christ

The sacred liturgy celebrates the Virgin Mother before Christmas Day and again eight days after it. This is Mother Church's way of teaching us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is indispensable to every advent of Christ.

If you would welcome Christ, welcome Mary.
If you would receive Christ, seek Mary.
If you would know Christ, know Mary.
If you would love Christ, love Mary.

Dew From Above

The Blessed Virgin is present, not only in the Gospel today, but in every part of today's Mass. The Introit, Rorate, for example, is Our Lady's song before it is ours. It can only be our prayer because it was first the prayer of her Immaculate Heart. "Send down dew from above, you heavens, and let the skies pour down upon us the rain we long for, Him, the Just One: may He, the Saviour, spring from the closed womb of the earth" (Is 45:8). There is no prayer that does not begin in an intense longing for the dew from above. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill" (Mt 5:6).

Similarly, the magnificent Offertory Antiphon, Ave Maria, gratia plena (Lk 1:28) and the Communion Antiphon, Ecce, virgo concipiet (Is 7:14) invite us to conversation with the Virgin Mother of the Lord, to a contemplative admiration of her beauty, and to the imitation of her "Fiat". "Be it done to me according to thy word" (Lk 1:38).

Thy Grace Into Our Hearts

Today's Collect in the reformed Missal is familiar and worn like a thing much loved because it is the prayer that, three times each day, concludes the Little Office of the Incarnation that we call the Angelus.

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

This prayer sums up the whole economy of our salvation: the message of an angel to the Virgin; the immensity of her "Yes"; the bitter Passion and the Blood outpoured; the Cross, the Tomb, and the triumph of the Prince of Life.

Portress of the Mysteries of Christ

Of all these mysteries, Mary is the Mystical Portress and the Keeper of the Gate. This is why the saints teach that true devotion to Mary is a sure sign of predestination. Understand this aphorism as the saints did: one who loves Mary is destined to imitate her "Yes"; and to follow her through the Passion and Cross of her Son into the glory of His Resurrection.

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Our Lady in the Last Days of Advent

Yes, today, December 18th, is one of the liturgy's loveliest old Advent festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that of the Expectatio Partus. Established in 656 by the bishops assembled for the Tenth Council of Toledo, it was kept by nearly the entire Latin Church. Mother Mectilde de Bar, writing in 17th century France, left some splendid sermons on the feast. The Marquess of Bute calls it, in his fine old translation of the Breviary, "The Blessed Virgin Mary Looking Shortly To Be Delivered." It was also called in Spain, and elsewhere, Nuestra Señora de la O, and this because, after Vespers, the clergy in choir used to give voice to a loud and protracted "O" to express the yearning of the universe for the advent of the Redeemer.

Ave, Maria, gratia plena

Looking first at the Office for the feast, one discovers that the Invitatory Antiphon is the greeting of the Archangel to the Virgin of Nazareth: "Hail Mary, full of grace, * the Lord is with thee." The antiphons on the psalms of Matins are all taken from the Advent Office. The lessons are Isaiah's prophecy of the Virgin with Child (Is 7:10), a passage from Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo on the Maidenhood of Blessed Mary, and one from the Venerable Bede on the Annunciation Gospel. The final responsory is the glorious Fourth Mode Suscipe verbum, "Receive, O Virgin Mary, receive the word of the Lord, which is sent thee by His Angel."

The Collect throughout the day is that of Lady Day in March:

O God who didst will that Thy Word should,
by the message of an Angel,
take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
grant unto us, we beseech Thee,
that all we who do believe her to be in very deed
the Mother of God,
may be holpen by her prayers in Thy sight.

At Lauds and the Hours, the antiphons are those of Lady Day, while the hymns remain those of the Advent Office. The Magnificat Antiphon is the lovely O Virgo Virginum, composed in the same Second Mode melody as the Great O Antiphons:

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O maiden of maidens,
how shall this be,
since neither before nor henceforth hath there been,
nor shall be such another?
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why look ye curiously upon me?
What ye see is a mystery of God.

The Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady

I would venture to suggest that the Office and Mass of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary are today, more than ever before, worthy of celebration and meditation, given that the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God is roundly mocked by many. Even in the minds of many of the faithful, enfeebled by a forty year dearth of popular orthodox catechesis, a tragic confusion holds sway concerning the privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, in particular, her virginity before, during, and after childbirth. There are many, alas, who, affected by various mutations of creeping Nestorianism and Arianism, have no grasp of what it means to call the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Those who do not confess the privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary, honouring them and celebrating them, fall inevitably into one or another of the classic Christological heresies.

All of this makes me want to open my Processionale Monasticum to page 146 and sing, Gaude Maria, Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti:

Rejoice, O Mary,
by whose mighty hand the Church hath victory
over her foes [every heresy] achieved,
since thou to Gabriel's word of quickening power
in lowliness hast listened, and believed
-- thou, still a virgin, in thy blessed womb
hast God Incarnate of thy flesh conceived,
and still, in heaven, of that virginity remainest
after childbirth unbereaved.
V. Blessed art thou that hast believed,
for there is a performance of those things
which were told thee from the Lord.

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At the end of Holy Mass today, we renewed the devotional election of the Immaculate Virgin Mary as Abbess and Queen of our monastery, a practice well rooted in monastic history, and one that unites us in a particular way, not only to the daughters of Mother Mectilde de Bar, but also to the monks of Mount Athos who venerate the All-Holy Mother of God as Abbess of the Holy Mountain.

O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
all-lovely, and conceived without sin,
in the name of the community such as it is today,
and such as it shall be in time to come,
I solemnly reaffirm
that thou, the true Mother of God, more honorable than the cherubim,
and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.
art 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 thee,
the most fragile and the most in need of the care and attention
of thy maternal Heart.

With profound humility and confidence,
I beg thee, in thy most tender pity
to take this struggling and vulnerable infant monastery
under thy singular care and special protection,
and to obtain for us
the incomparable grace of the Divine Friendship
of the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus,
in fidelity to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and to the mission of adoration, reparation, and charity for priests,
bestowed upon us by the Father of lights,
from whom descends every good gift.

I further offer to thy maternal Heart O sovereign Lady and Abbess
all who have assisted this little monastery
by their presence, their labour, their prayers,
and their material support,
asking thee to extend the veil of thy 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 renewed 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 continue in the office to which we have elected thee,
and to rule over, protect, and provide for this house
and for those who dwell herein now
and will dwell herein in the days to come,
so that Jesus, the Lamb of God, immolated and forever living,
present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
may be forever praised and adored
in our hearts and in the sanctuary of this monastery which is all thine.
Amen.

Gaudens gaudebo in Domino

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A Meditation on the Mass of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Look at this extraordinary medieval painting that shows the Tree of Life with Mary on one side and Eve on the other. Eve, completely naked, is giving the bitter fruit of her sin to her own communicants in evil. From her side of the tree a skull looks out, grimacing in death. On the other side of the tree is Mary, crowned and clothed in grace and beauty. She takes pure white hosts from among the branches of the tree and, like a priest distributing Holy Communion, places them in the mouths of her own communicants in eternal life. In the branches of Mary's side of the tree there is a crucifix. The Face of the Crucified is turned toward those who partake of the fruit of the Cross.

A Song From the Womb

"Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice He has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Is 61:10). A song intoned from the womb! The Church takes the jubilant words of the prophet Isaiah and places them in the mouth of the Immaculate Conception, the Child full of grace just conceived in the womb of Saint Anne.

Prelude to the Magnificat

Gaudens, gaudebo in Domino. "Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord." If you would understand the text, you must sing it as the Church sings it on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The exegesis of the text is in its ravishing third mode melody composed by Dom Pothier (1835-1923), monk of Solesmes and later abbot of Saint-Wandrille. It soars pure as crystal in a kind of ecstatic cry of undiluted joy in God.

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Mary herself intones the first chant of the Mass today: a kind of prelude to her Magnificat. Already -- just conceived -- the Child Mary begins to sing, and with her the whole Church. On no other feast of the year does the liturgy allow the Virgin Mary to open the Mass by singing in the first person singular. "Rejoicing, I will rejoice" (Is 61:10). Mary's message, from the first instant of her Immaculate Conception, is one of joy in God.

The Tree

The joy of the Immaculate Conception springs from the mystery of the Cross. The Collect says that Mary was "preserved from all stain" in foresight of the death of Christ on the Cross. Here enters the figure of the tree glimpsed in today's First Lesson from Genesis. The tree of Eve's mourning and weeping becomes for Mary the tree of "an unutterable and exalted joy" (1 P 1:8). Mary is the first to taste of the sweet fruit of the Tree of Life; Mary is the first to sing of the joy of the cross.

Holy and Immaculate Before the Father

The Collect asks that we, by the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession, may come into the presence of God "with pure hearts." The Collect points to the Lesson from Ephesians. Saint Paul says that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3) chose us in Christ "that we should be holy and immaculate before Him" (Eph 1:4). This standing before God in holiness contrasts with the fear of Adam and Eve who, upon hearing the sound of God in the garden, "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8). The naked Christ, exposed to the gaze of the Father on the tree of the Cross, casts out the fear that caused our first parents to make of the trees of the garden a screen between themselves and the Face of God. The first effect of the grace of Christ is that it makes us come into the presence of the Father, "free from fear" (Lk 1:73). "For you have not received the spirit of bondage in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: 'Abba, Father'" (Rom 8:15).

Blessed the Clean of Heart

The Collect asks specifically that we, being made clean, may draw near to God. The connection with the beatitude of the clean of heart is not to be missed: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the Mother of the pure in heart. By her intercession, she obtains from Christ, again and again, the application of "the blood of his Cross" (Col 1:20) to every heart darkened and defiled by sin. The Collect invites us to pray, specifically through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the poignant petition of King David: "A pure heart create for me, O God" (Ps 50:12).

Immaculate Mother of the Purest of Lambs

The Prayer Over the Offerings returns to the same petition, asking that "we may be freed from all our faults" by Mary's intercession. A culpis omnibus liberemur! What a stupendous petition! It leads directly into the Preface. There we praise the Father for His work in Mary, calling her "the purest of Virgins, she who was to bear your Son, the innocent Lamb who takes away our sins." We seem to hear already something of the sermon of Meliton of Sardis read in Holy Week: "He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe" (Paschal Homily).

O Dayspring

The Communion Antiphon opens on a phrase from Psalm 86, a song in praise of Zion, the city cherished by the Lord. The liturgy takes the verse, "Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God" (Ps 86:3), and in place of "city of God" says "Mary." "Glorious things are said of thee, O Mary." A key image from the prophet Malachi completes the Communion Antiphon: "for from thee has arisen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God" (cf. Mal 4:2). We see here a glimmer of the O Antiphon of December 21st: "O Dayspring, radiance of the light Eternal and sun of justice; come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." In Malachi's prophecy the "sun of justice" rises "with health in His wings" (Mal 4:2). Mary, the Immaculate Mother of the clean of heart, is also the Mother of all those healed by the rays of Christ, the Sun of Justice.

Our Wounds Repaired

Today's Mass is artfully constructed of interlocking parts. It requires the closest attention of those who would benefit from its teachings and, through it, receive the sweet light of today's mystery. The Communion Antiphon leads directly into the Postcommunion Prayer and interprets it. "Lord our God, may the sacraments that we have received heal (or repair) within us the wounds of that fault from which you preserved the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in so wonderful a way." In every Holy Mass, "Christ, the Sun of Justice arisen from Mary" shines for each of us with "healing in His wings" (Mal 4:2). Unlike Mary, we were conceived bearing the wounds of Adam's ancient sin but, by the Eucharistic Face of Christ shining like the sun, we are healed of the wounds from which the Immaculate Conception was preserved.

The First and Last Word Given to Joy

In the end, for those who allow themselves to be illumined by the grace of the sacred liturgy today, there is a return to the song of the beginning. "Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice he has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Is 61:10). This is the song not only of the beginning of today's Mass; it is the song of Mary's beginning in her mother's womb. It is the song of every new beginning in grace. It is the song of every man and woman once paralyzed by fear, but now set free to stand unafraid in the sight of the Father. It is the song of every heart darkened and stained by sin, but now made bright and clean by grace. It is the song of every life wounded by sin, but healed by the Sun of Justice who, even now, will rise glorious above the altar "with healing in his wings" (Mal 4:2). The last word and the first belong to joy.

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This image of the Maternal Heart of Mary, now hanging in our monastic choir, was commissioned in Rome by the Venerable Servant of God Mother Mary Potter, foundress of the Little Company of Mary.

How Many Know?

In conversations with my brother priests, I am astonished to learn that very few of them have any knowledge of the Act of Entrustment and Consecration of Priests to the Maternal and Immaculate Heart of Mary that Pope Benedict XVI made in Fatima on 12 May 2010, and then renewed in Rome at the conclusion of the Year of the Priest.

Personally Ratified

In order for the Holy Father's Act of Consecration to be fruit in the lives of the priests of the Church it must, I think, be ratified in a personal way by each bishop and priest, and also corporately at the diocesan level by being renewed publicly by the bishop together with his priests.

Getting the Word Out

The fact that so few priests know of this solemn and significant act of the Holy Father on their behalf suggests that there is much work to be done in the field of communications. It is crucial that the teachings and acts of the Holy Father reach the desks of every bishop and priest; that they be read attentively, pondered, and taken to heart. In posting the Holy Father's Act of Consecration today, on this glorious feast of the Immaculate Conception, I pray that some priests will be moved to ratify it and make it their own.

Pope Benedict XVI's
Act of Entrustment and Consecration of Priests
to the Maternal and Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Mother, in this place of grace, called together by the love of your Son Jesus the Eternal High Priest, we, sons in the Son and his priests, consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart, in order to carry out faithfully the Father's Will.
We are mindful that, without Jesus, we can do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5) and that only through him, with him and in him, will we be instruments of salvation for the world.
Bride of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadowed you, making you the Mother of the Saviour, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of him who makes all things new.
Mother of Mercy, it was your Son Jesus who called us to become like him: light of the world and salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14).
Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One.
Preserve us with your purity, guard us with your humility and enfold us with your maternal love that is reflected in so many souls consecrated to you, who have become for us true spiritual mothers.
Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, Our "here I am".
Guided by you, we want to be Apostles of Divine Mercy, glad to celebrate every day the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and to offer to those who request it the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completely renewed that loves God with all its strength and serves mankind as you did.
Repeat to the Lord your efficacious word: "They have no wine" (Jn 2:3), so that the Father and the Son will send upon us a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Full of wonder and gratitude at your continuing presence in our midst, in the name of all priests I too want to cry out: "Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43).
Our Mother for all time, do not tire of "visiting us", consoling us, sustaining us. Come to our aid and deliver us from every danger that threatens us. With this act of entrustment and consecration, we wish to welcome you more deeply, more radically, for ever and totally into our human and priestly lives.
Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts, for ever united to yours! Amen!

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I wrote this prayer of consecration in 2007 while supplying for a fortnight as chaplain to the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament at the Monastery of Notre-Dame d'Orient in the Avéyron in France.

One may find this prayer of consecration suitable when one needs to entrust particular souls in difficulty to the Immaculate Conception. This consecration, especially when prayed by a priest before an image of the Immaculate Mother of God, is appropriate for the unbinding and healing of situations marked by sin and moral suffering. The Immaculate Virgin Mary is ever-ready to intervene in the lives of her children. She is the Mother of Mercy and the Mediatrix of All Graces. I thank the Mother of God for her interventions in the liives of those whom I have entrusted to her care, and magnify with her the Most Holy Trinity. Here is the prayer, first in my English translation,and then in the original French text.

Efficacious Consecration of Persons
to the Pierced and Immaculate Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary

In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Most holy Virgin Mary.
-- you whom the FATHER, from the first instant of your conception, preserved
from all evil and from the least shadow of sin,
-- you whom the Precious Blood of JESUS rendered immaculate and all-beautiful, even before that same Blood was formed in your virginal womb and poured out upon the altar of the Cross,
-- you whom the HOLY SPIRIT filled full with every grace in view of the glorious motherhood of the Son of God for which you were created,
-- you crush the head of the ancient serpent,
and you alone overcome the evil that is in us and around us.

To you, O Mary,
your Son has entrusted the liberation of souls enchained by sin,
the healing of wounded souls,
and the sanctification of souls who have suffered evil's worst ravages.

You have only to open your immaculate hands over them,
and they are shot through with the rays of your purity.
Through you, enters the light to shine in the darkest places.
Through you, souls are washed in a downpour of graces.
Through you, the Holy Spirit gives succour to the weakest souls,
and to the sterile a wonderful fecundity.

You, O Mary, are the only hope of your children scarred by sin
and poisoned by its venom.
To those whom the enemy has led astray in bitterness and in fear,
you open the path of life and of beatitude.

This is why, impelled today by the boldness that comes from the Holy Spirit,
and by a confidence that is altogether that of a son,
[and when the consecration is made by a priest:
and in virtue of my priesthood,]
I entrust to you N. and N.,
and consecrate them to your pierced and immaculate Heart.

Show yourself the Mother of mercy.
Show yourself our all-powerful Queen,
for there is nothing that resists your supplication
in the presence of Jesus, the King of Love.

Mediatrix of all graces,
save these souls from the tentacles of evil.
Heal them, even in those secret and painful wounds,
that only your most gentle motherly hand can touch
without adding to their pain.

From this moment on,
these souls are consecrated entirely to you.
Do for them whatsoever your maternal Heart will suggest.
Purify them in the Precious Blood of your Jesus, the Lamb without stain,
so that now, and even unto the ages of ages,
they may live for the praise of the glory
of the Father + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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A Holy Priest

December 7th is the 22nd anniversary of the death of Père Louis Croset. Born at Annecy-le-Vieux in 1914, Monsieur le Chanoine Louis François CROSET was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Annecy on 7 June 1941. He exercised the sacred ministry in the diocese of Annecy from 1941 until 1952, and in the diocese of Bayonne from 1952-1990. He died on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 7 December 1990.

A Father to Many Souls

Père Croset's priestly life was marked by great suffering, by an extraordinary love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and by a wonderful spiritual fruitfulness. I was privileged to be numbered among the many souls touched by his priesthood. At the end of his life Père Croset lived in a residence for elderly priests in Pau, not far from Lourdes.

At Lourdes

A number of years ago he drove me to Lourdes where, together in the February rain, we stood before the grotto and prayed this Act of Abandonment to the Blessed Virgin. Père Croset composed it sixty years ago in 1952, in a moment of intense moral suffering and darkness.

Père Croset's Act of Abandonment

O Marie, ma Reine et ma Mère,
reçois en tes mains mon Acte d'Abandon
à la volonté du Père de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ,
afin qu'à l'exemple de son Fils bien aimé
et par le secours de ta Tendresse,
je laisse conduire ma vie par l'Esprit-Saint
selon les mysterieux desseins de la Trinité.

O Mary, my Queen and my Mother,
receive into thy hands
my Act of Abandonment
to the will of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
so that, following the example of His beloved Son
and with the help of thy tenderness,
I may let my life be directed by the Holy Spirit
according to the mysterious designs of the Trinity.

Aide-moi à livrer sans réserve tout mon être à Dieu
dans la clarté obscure de la foi,
l'élan austère de l'Espérance
et l'étreinte crucifiante de l'Amour.

Help me to surrender without reserve
my whole being to God
in the dark brightness of Faith,
the austere élan of Hope,
and the crucifying embrace of Love.

Je veux m'enfoncer en ton Coeur Immaculé
pour y devenir l'hostie que tu donneras à Jésus,
afin qu'en son sacrifice
Il me consacre à la gloire de son Père
et à la fécondité de l'Eglise son Épouse.
Amen.

I want to hide myself within thy Immaculate Heart
to become there the host
that thou wilt give to Jesus,
so that He may consecrate me in His sacrifice
to the glory of His Father
and to the fruitfulness of His Spouse the Church.
Amen.

About Dom Mark

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

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