Saints: June 2010 Archives


I have presented Father William Doyle, S.J. several times to the readers Vultus Christi. This evening I learned of a new blog dedicated to this heroic and saintly Irish priest. I heartily recommend it. There is a link to in my sidebar.

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember "the rock from which you were hewn" (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ. (Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, March 2010)

From a new blog:

"The scandalous actions of a small number of priests and religious, and the almost equally scandalous inaction of their superiors in correcting these abuses, has profoundly damaged the image of the Church and of the priesthood in Ireland and in much of the Western world.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to the Church in Ireland, has wisely outlined the path of reform for the Church. It involves a return to the sources of our faith as well as acts of reparation and penance and a recognition of the need for holiness as the antidote to scandal in the Church. Significantly, it involves remembering the rock from which we have been hewn. We must remember, and emulate, the "generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole". These heroes of the past show us the way to renewal of the Church and the way to Christ. They present a variety of modes of behaviour, and approaches to genuine spirituality that we can adapt for our own lives.

Fr Willie Doyle SJ was one of those heroes.

Thus, the first objective of this blog is to hold up Fr Willie Doyle as a very modern and relevant model of heroic holiness from whom we can learn today."

If this blog helps further Fr Doyle's cause for beatification in some way, then that is a bonus. However, it is not formally associated with that cause, although clearly it would welcome progress in that area.

This blog aims to be a central resource on materials relating to Fr Doyle, his life and his spirituality. Readers are actively encouraged to make comments and to get involved. The aim is to keep it updated, hopefully everyday for the first year at least. These daily posts will involve snippets from the writings of Fr Doyle along with commentary where appropriate as well as other forms of commentary and links where relevant.

Saint John the Baptist

| | Comments (1)


Ah, I Cannot Speak

At Matins today, the stammering words of the prophet Jeremiah are placed in the mouth of the Saint John the Baptist: “Ah, ah, ah, Lord God; behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child” (Jer 1:6). At Holy Mass, the first lesson uses the words of the prophet Isaiah in the same way. This is the liturgy’s way of telling us that John is the greatest of the prophets, greater than Isaiah and Jeremiah put together, and that he is more than a prophet.

Called From the Womb

John’s mysterious greatness in the plan of salvation is no mere human choice; it is something divine in origin. Saint John himself said, “A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from heaven” (Jn 3:27). “The Lord,” he says, “hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother he hath been mindful of my name” (Is 49:1). This certainty makes the Baptist very humble. He does not want to be mistaken for more than he really is. “You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him’” (Jn 3:28).

And Thou, Child

From his tender childhood John knows that he is sent before One who is greater than himself. John’s father, the priest Zechariah, must have repeated to him many times over what he sang under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the eighth day after his birth: “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Lk 1:76-77). In the monastic tradition, the same text is chanted at the clothing of a novice. John the Baptist remains, for all time, the model of the monk: child, prophet, herald, and friend of the Bridegroom.

Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant

| | Comments (3)


Where His Treasure Was, There Was His Heart

Among Cistercians and Trappists, June 17th marks the memorial of Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004. Father Marie-Joseph died on June 17, 1903; he was twenty-five years old. Solemnly professed for three years, he had been a priest for only nine months. From childhood he wanted nothing else. “Where your treasure house is, there is your heart also” (Mt 6:21).

The Greatness of the Priesthood

In his last letter to his family, he wrote, “For such a long time we hoped against hope to be able to have the whole family together after my ordination so as to share the joy of being present and receiving Communion together at my first Mass. The good Lord heard our deepest wishes. It now remains to us to thank Him and to enter more and more deeply into the greatness of the priesthood. Let us never dare to equate the Sacrifice of the Mass with earthly things.”

An Intercessor

Since 1903 more than 2200 persons from thirty different countries have attested to favours received through the intercession of Father Marie-Joseph. The catalogue of graces attributed to the young monk is impressive: conversions, reconciliations, cures, and comfort in uncertainties and doubts. My friend Father Jacob and I went in pilgrimage to his tomb in 1982 and prayed that both of us might become priests. I was ordained four years later.

Towards La Trappe

Father Marie-Joseph’s road to the priesthood was not an easy one. His parish priest judged him intellectually inadequate for theological studies. After tutoring him for fifteen months in French and Latin, he saw that the young Joseph was not suited for the diocesan seminary. He directed him instead to the Trappe of Sainte-Marie-du-Desert where the monks were ordained to the priesthood after a simpler course of studies, given that they had no pastoral responsibilities or outside ministry.

June 17th is the dies natalis of Marie-Adèle Garnier, Mother Mary of St. Peter, Foundress of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Tyburn, O.S.B. In 1913 Blessed Columba Marmion wrote to one of her spiritual daughters, saying, "The special characteristic of your Mother is heroic confidence in the midst of impossibilities."


Monastic Roots

Marie-Adèle Garnier was born in France on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 1838. She was baptized on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, September 12. Marie-Adèle’s native Burgundy is the land of Cluny, of Cîteaux, and of Paray-le-Monial. Her life was marked, from the very beginning, by an environment shaped by the Rule of Saint Benedict, by the ardour of Saint Bernard, and by the mystery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist

As a young woman, Marie-Adèle grew in awareness of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Priest and Victim: the Sacred Heart truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar where ceaselessly He glorifies the Father and intercedes for all men. Marie-Adèle was impelled by the Holy Spirit to seek a life wholly illuminated by the Sacrifice of the Mass, and marked by perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Happy, So Happy

In 1872, Marie-Adèle, after having read an article on the proposed basilica of Montmartre, heard an inner voice saying to her: “It is there that I need thee.” “At the same moment,” she writes, “I saw an altar raised on high and sparkling with lights, dominated by the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance. I felt so overcome by this that I had to lean against the door to save myself from falling. And then I felt so happy, so happy, that I could make nothing of it.”

Like many of her contemporaries drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Marie-Adèle heard the interior summons to a life of reparation and doxology. “I felt Jesus speaking to my heart, illuminated by a light of surpassing brightness; He told me that it was His Will that His Heart present in the Holy Eucharist should be the object of the worship of Montmartre, and that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed there night and day.”

Salutary Failure

Marie-Adèle first attempted to respond to her vocation by living in solitude on Montmartre, close by the site of what would become the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. God allowed her to experience a salutary failure without, however, withdrawing the attraction to a life of reparation and adoration at Montmartre. Her first sojourn at Montmartre ended on the feast of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 15, 1876.



In 1898, having returned to Montmartre with a companion, Marie-Adèle began a hidden life of adoration, reparation, and intercession for the Church under the special protection of Saint Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and Saint Michael the Archangel. From the beginning the Rule of Saint Benedict inspired and guided the new monastic family. On June 9, 1899, Marie-Adèle, now known as Mother Mary of St. Peter, and her first daughters, made their profession in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the altar of Saint Peter. Two days later, June 11, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the whole human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


The anti-clerical laws of 1901 obliged the fledgling community to leave Montmartre for England. Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters established themselves at Tyburn in the heart of London on the site of the cruel torments and death of England’s glorious Catholic Martyrs. Her companion, Mother Agnes, wrote, “And we ourselves, little as we were, but supporting our littleness on the Heart of Jesus, we, too, were coming to labour, within the limits of our vocation, in the great work of the conversion of England.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

From 1908 onward, Mother Mary of St. Peter was under the direction of the Benedictine Abbot Blessed Columba Marmion. It was to Abbot Marmion that she wrote on December 23, 1909: “In spite of this humiliating burden of misery and worries, my soul dwells in her God, because He supports her, holds her up, carries her, sustains her in a life of faith, of love, of confidence, not sensibly consoling, but supremely happy!”

Happy With God and With My Children

Abbot Marmion died in 1923, leaving Mother Mary of St. Peter and her daughters to mourn his passing and, at the same, to live in gratitude and joy from his spiritual patrimony. The following year on June 17, after much suffering, Mother Mary of St. Peter died. Her last intelligible words were: “I am so happy with God! And with my children.” Today Mother Mary of St. Peter's Benedictine Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart has monasteries in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, and Rome, Italy.

Draw Me to Thy Piercèd Side

| | Comments (0)

The feast of Saint Lutgarde, a Cistercian, and one of the first mystics of the Sacred Heart, occurs on June 16th. Some years ago I was given a piece of her wooden choirstall: one of my most treasured relics!


Wounded by Love

Saint Lutgarde was a contemporary of Saints Francis and Clare. She was born in 1182, just one year after the little Poor Man of Assisi. Both were destined to share in the Passion of Christ; both would bear the impression of Christ’s wounds. Saint Lutgarde is often depicted -- as are both Saint Bernard and Saint Francis -- held in the embrace of Jesus Crucified, and invited to drink from the wound in His Sacred Side.

Mother of Preachers

The prolific multiplication of Cistercian-Benedictine monasteries of women in the Low Countries obliged the White Nuns to turn to the newly founded friars, disciples of Francis and Dominic, rather than to their brother monks, for spiritual and sacramental assistance. Lutgarde was a friend and mother to the early Dominicans and Franciscans, supporting their preaching by her prayer and fasting, offering them hospitality, ever eager for news of their missions and spiritual conquests. Her first biographer relates that the friars named her mater praedicatorum, the mother of preachers.

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