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In 1979, while visiting the Abbey of Chambarand in France, the chaplain, Dom Irénée, was kind enough to drive Father Jacob and me to the magnificent Abbey of Saint-Antoine, a holy place hidden in the heart of the Isère. Yes, the relics of Saint Antony of Egypt are in France!

The abbey, with its church in flamboyant gothic, was built in 1297 to receive the relics of the Father of Monks. In 1777 the abbey was made over to the Order of the Knights of Malta, and in 1896 it was entrusted to Dom Adrien Gréa and his fledgling Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception. What I remember best of that visit thirty-two years ago was stopping to pray before the altar containing the relics of Saint Antony. Never would I have imagined the possibility of such a grace!

Here are some of the Proper Texts for the Mass of Saint Antony, Abbot:

Collect

O God, who bestowed on the blessed abbot Antony
the grace of serving you in the desert by a strange and wonderful way of life,
grant that, through his intercession, we may renounce ourselves
and love you always above all things.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

General Intercessions

That the Church in East and West may be blessed
with a new generation of God-seeking men and women,
hungry for the living Word of God
and courageous in spiritual combat,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the leaders of nations
may be assisted in their efforts to secure a just and lasting peace
by the prayer and penance
of those called to a life hidden with Christ in God,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That, by the intercession of Saint Antony,
the grieving may go away rejoicing,
the angry turned to kindness,
those grown slack strengthened,
and those troubled by doubts pacified,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we who have assembled to listen to the Word
may, like Saint Antony, rejoice to confess the presence of Christ
and be transformed by His all-powerful and life-giving Spirit,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God, who by Your Holy Spirit,
so opened the ears of your servant Antony
to the Gospel proclaimed in midst of Your Church,
that nothing of its saving message escaped him,
mercifully grant that we, like him,
may listen attentively to Your Word,
treasure it in quiet hearts,
and pray without ceasing
to withstand the temptations of the evil one
and to give You glory
in the solitude of hearts made pure by Your grace.
Through Christ our Lord.


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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.

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This is the view tonight from my window at the Monastère Sainte-Anne-de-Montmahoux in France. Although I planned to remain until Friday, I received news this morning of the death in County Leitrim of my dear old Cousin John McKeon. I last saw John on the occasion of his 89th birthday only a few weeks ago. I am John's next-of-kin in Ireland, and so must return there tomorrow to make arrangements for his funeral and burial. I would ask the readers of Vultus Christi to say a prayer for the happy repose of his soul.

Meeting the Saints

How and when did Saint Benedict come into my life? He was not among the saints whom I came to know as a small boy in my parish church. Little children readily engage with images. The statues that graced my parish church -- I can still see them in my mind's eye from left to right -- were of Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick, Our Blessed Lady, the Sacred Heart, Saint Joseph, Saint Thérèse, and Saint Anne. There were five stained glass windows: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Stigmatization of Saint Francis. These were the images that, at a very early age, drew me into the mysteries of the faith, bringing heaven very close to earth, and making it possible for me to hold conversation with the saints in glory.

Enter Abbot Marmion

Saint Benedict came into my life when I was about fifteen years old. The monastic ideal had already laid hold of my soul, and my search was well underway. Visiting Saint Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, U.S.A., I was introduced to Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, by Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion. Heavy reading for a fifteen year old in the torment of the 1960s! I remain grateful to Father Marius Granato for putting Dom Marmion's classic into my hands, It was in Christ, the Ideal of the Monk that I came to know Saint Benedict in the best way possible: by coming to know his Holy Rule.

Saint Benedict and the Holy Rule

Blessed Abbot Marmion and Saint Benedict joined me on my journey, then, at the same time. I still remember the fire that burned in my heart as I turned the pages of Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, and received the impression of its teaching, like letters engraved on a clean wax tablet. In reading Saint Benedict, as transmitted by Blessed Abbot Marmion, I could almost hear the sound of the Master's voice. The Rule began to fascinate me and to fashion me. For me, as for Bossuet, it was un mystérieux abrégé de l'Évangile, "a mysterious abridgment of the Gospel".

Stormy Years

By the time I had turned eighteen -- a mere three years later -- I had resolved to become a monk, a son of Saint Benedict. These were, of course, frightfully stormy years in the Church: not at all a good time for a young man desirous of engaging with an ideal in all its shining purity. The very things that I thrilled to discover in my reading were, at the same time, being contested and rejected by those to whom they had been given in heritage.

The storms unleashed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and by the tumultuous events of 1968, tore through the cloisters of nearly every monastery in North America and, in so doing, tore through the very hearts of those who dwelt in them. One had the impression that nothing was absolute, nothing immutable, nothing sacred. The tyranny of relativism replaced the tyrannies of legalism and rubricism that the reformers decried so bitterly. Things happened and attitudes prevailed that were in no way compatible with the vocation that Thomas Merton had described so eloquently in The Silent Life.

Stranger in Babylon

These years corresponded, as well, with the emergence of the charismatic renewal among Catholics. It was, as I remember it, rather Protestant in ethos and in sensibility. While I saw many souls opened to a deeper experience of prayer, I saw just as many distance themselves from the sacraments, from the liturgy in all its richness, and from devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. (Some of these elements later came back into focus in charismatic circles.) Having found my soul's true voice in Gregorian Chant as a small boy, and having been nourished from my adolescence on the Divine Office in English, and on Pius Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace, the experience of the charismatic renewal left me feeling like a stranger in Babylon. I was far more interested in the grace that, for me, seeped out of the antiphons at First Vespers of a particular feast than in what I experienced at prayer meetings. It was all very disconcerting.

The Threshold Once Crossed

At nineteen I had my first experience of Benedictine life, completing a novitiate of two years, wrestling, like Jacob, with angels in the night, and humbled by recurrent health problems. During that time my love for Saint Benedict and the Holy Rule grew exponentially. It was clear, in spite of all the halts and detours, that Saint Benedict had taken me into his family, that he recognized me as his son, and that he would not abandon me.

Gratitude

All these many years later, I can say that Saint Benedict has been a patient companion and loving father through my life. Amidst the choices, changes, and challenges that have marked my route, one phrase from the Holy Rule, the last of the Instruments of Good Works in Chapter IV has kept me on course: Never to despair of the mercy of God. For this alone I am grateful to Saint Benedict this evening, and for this I hope to thank him one day in paradise.

Four days in France

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Clean Mountain Air

Yes, I am spending four days in a little mountain village in Franche Comté, not far from the border of Switzerland. The Benedictine nuns of the new monastery of Sainte-Anne-de-Montmahoux invited me to participate, together with other close friends, in the inauguration of their community on the feast of Our Father Saint Benedict. The green here rivals that of Ireland, and the air is very pure. Brother Benedict and Mark C. are keeping things going back at Silverstream Priory; they will celebrate the feast of Saint Benedict with our hermit neighbour, Father David J.

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Sustainable Communities

Here is a view from the monastery garden. The Sisters grow all their own vegetables and preserve them for the winter. The Sisters here believe, and I heartily concur, that the future of monastic life lies in family size communities (5 to 18 members) that are sustainable and capable of maintaining a quality of human life and of simple living that in larger communities is difficult to keep.

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God's Splendid Creatures

And this splendid creature of the Good God is Pamplemousse. He is 2 years old and would make a great companion for Hilda back at Silverstream Priory. A dog contributes much to the quality of community life, not the least of which is the indispensable craich (an Irish word meaning fun and good times). Abba Xanthios said, "A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge."

Christ be with me

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Saint Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Ireland

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A View of "Lovely Leitrim," the Land of My Paternal Ancestors

Drumshanbo

In just a few hours I will be on my way to JFK International Airport in New York and, from there, will be winging eastward to greet the Irish dawn. My destination is Drumshanbo in County Leitrim where Father Dan L. and I will be staying at the lodge of the Franciscan Convent of Perpetual Adoration. Father and I will be spending the week before the Most Blessed Sacrament, seeking the light of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus for ourselves and for all priests.

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I will also be visiting my one remaining cousin in the "old country": John McKeon of Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. John, now retired, attends Holy Mass on weekdays at Saint Patrick's Hospital, originally a "poorhouse" for the victims of the Great Hunger.

130th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady at Knock

Father Dan and I plan on going over to Knock in County Mayo for the celebrations surrounding the annual feast of Our Lady of Knock. This is the 130th anniversary of the apparition that took place on the evening of August 21, 1879. As I wrote in a post below, Knock is, in a very special way, a pilgrimage for priests. How fitting, then, that Father Dan and I should have the grace of being there during this Year of the Priesthood.

I am not sure that I will have internet access in rural Ireland. Do not be surprised, dear readers, if ten days pass without a post on Vultus Christi. I humbly ask for your prayers, and assure you of a remembrance in mine.

Itinerarium

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Dear readers, please pray for me during these last days of preparation for my move to Oklahoma. A blessing upon each of you!

Sacred Triduum in Buffalo

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Father Jacob Restrick, O.P., Mother Mary Gemma, O.P., and the community of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Buffalo, New York were most gracious hosts during the Paschal Triduum. My friendship with Father Jacob goes back thirty years. It was a joy to see him again and to serve at the altar with him.

The Dominican Nuns of the Buffalo monastery sing Gregorian Chant, using both the Roman Gradual and the chant books proper to the Order of Preachers. I was invited to sing the Exultet in Latin, using the distinctive Dominican melody with its glorious melisms over key words, such as haec.

This was, by far, the most restful Sacred Triduum I have had in over three decades. Father Jacob and I were able to share the preaching and the officiating. Paul Z. acted as Master of Ceremonies with his customary competency. The community took care of the chant. It was lovely to be able to take a more quiet approach to the heart of the liturgical year!

On Holy Saturday morning, I was very happy to meet young Brendan Y., a Vultus Christi reader in Buffalo. In the afternoon, Father Jacob drove us to Lackawanna to visit the magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory, built by Father Nelson Baker in 1925.

Easter Sunday Mass was at 8:30. After a festive breakfast, Father Jacob drove Paul Z. and me to the airport to catch our flight back to Connecticut. Deo gratias, alleluia, alleluia.

To Ireland

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Several years ago, the Reverend Mother of the Perpetual Adoration Convent in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, invited me to preach a retreat to her community. This past autumn, His Lordship, the Most Reverend Colm O'Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, asked my Father Abbot at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme if I might accept the invitation. Father Abbot acquiesced, and so on Sunday evening I will be flying to the Isle of Saints and Scholars. The eight day retreat will end on Friday, February 15. I will return to Connecticut the following day. Will I have internet access in Ireland? I don't know. Is there wireless in Leitrim? I'll soon find out.

Before going to lovely Leitrim I plan on spending a few quiet days close to Our Lady of Knock, the Queen of Ireland. Our Lady's apparition on August 21, 1879, together with Saint Joseph and Saint John, in the presence of the Immolated Lamb standing upon the Altar of His Sacrifice, is one of the most significant Marian events of modern times.

I ask the kind readers of Vultus Christi to accompany me and to sustain my preaching with their prayers. Thank you, friends. Blessed Lent to all.

La croix du coq

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I took this dramatic photo of the cross against a bleak November sky in the village of Saint Maurice d'Orient (Aveyron). The cross bears the instruments of the Passion and is surmounted by Saint Peter's rooster. It was, at one time, common in rural France to erect crosses to commemorate parish missions. Ad te levavi animam meam, Deus meus!

The encounter with Him [Christ Judge and Saviour] is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion.

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From the Airport in Toulouse

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I left the Monastery of Notre-Dame d'Orient in Laval-Roquecezière this morning at 5:00. At the moment I am sitting in the airport waiting for my light to Toulouse. Here are a few photos taken during my stay at Notre-Dame d'Orient. The statue of Our Lady is atop a mountain peak from which one can see both the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Tomorrow I will go to the Casa San Francesco in Carsoli (Aquila) to preach a retreat to the Benedettine Riparatrici del Santo Volto Please pray for me during this ministry.

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November Morning

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This was the view from my window this morning, shortly after I got up. The Jura mountain region tends to be cold on these early November mornings. I am told that tomorrow, in the Aveyron, the temperature will be exceedingly mild.

To Notre Dame d'Orient

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Thursday evening I received I call from Mère Marie-Anne du Sacré Coeur, the prioress of the monastery of Craon, asking if I would consider going to serve a monastery in the Aveyron that would, otherwise, be without a priest and without Holy Mass for a fortnight. The monastery is attached to an ancient sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary called Notre Dame d'Orient. The origin of this title of the Blessed Virgin is the phrase, Virgo auriens — the Virgin who gives heed — which came to be translated as Notre Dame d'Orient. Here are two photos of Notre Dame d'Orient. I will leave Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne early Sunday morning. You can imagine my delight at being asked to serve in a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin!

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In Green Pastures

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Another photo taken at Saint-Loup-sur-Aujon. Autumn has been gentle here in northeastern France. The village of Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne, where I am at present, is a marvel of natural beauty. The Jura mountains surround the village, and between the mountain heights are woodlands with brooks that sing, and green pastures. What a gift I have been given in coming here!

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I drove several kilometers this morning to connect to the DSL installation in the home of Jean-Baptiste and Thérèse. This evening, and every Wednesday evening, a group of people from the area, including Jean-Baptiste and Thérèse, come to the monastery to pray the rosary and to sing Compline with the community. For the past few weeks I have been giving them a talk as well. Tonight's subject? Purgatory!

The couples who attend will be bringing their children along this evening. French schools are closed this week for the All Saints vacation. All Saints Day remains a national holiday here.

In the monastery, First Vespers of All Saints Day will be marked by the exposition of the treasury of relics of the saints. The holy relics will be placed on a table covered with an embroidered cloth in the middle of the choir. Visibly, the Divine Office will be laus eius in ecclesia sanctorum: the praise of God in the church of the saints! The veneration of the relics of the saints brings with it streams of graces. God is greatly glorified therein, and the intercession of "so great a cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1) is a boon for the whole Church.

Photos from Saint-Loup-sur-Aujon

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Photos from Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne

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Bonjour, chers amis!

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Dear readers of Vultus Christi,

After a long hiatus, I am able today to connect to the internet and give you some news. I am writing from the home of Jean-Baptiste and Thérèse Garnier, friends of the Monastère Saint–Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. Jean–Baptiste and Thérèse have DSL, and were kind enough to invite me to their home to update Vultus Christi.

I have been in France since 12 September, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. For the first few weeks I stayed at the Monastère Saint-Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. After giving a conference at the General Chapter of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified at Brou-sur-Chantereine on Saturday, 29 September, I went to Subiaco, a dependence of the Monastère de l'Incarnation in Saint-Loup-sur-Aujon.

On Wednesday 3 October, the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion, I arrived at the monastery of the Benedictines du Saint-Sacrement in Craon (Mayenne) to make a personal retreat of adoration and discernment. The monastery of Craon, steeped in adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, is a blessed place indeed. My retreat there was life-changing.

The day before leaving for my retreat I received a book in the mail. I had not solicited this book, but the librarian of a certain Benedictine monastery, knowing "the interests of my heart" sent it without knowing that I was about to begin a retreat of adoration and discernment. The book, published in 1930, was La Sainte Messe, échelle de la sainteté, by Dom Eugène Vandeur (1875-1967). The evening before my retreat I opened the book at random and read:

Let me be wholly and entirely thy priest, like John, thy beloved disciple, standing at the foot of the Cross, the Tree of Life.

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I was astonished. This one sentence sums up my personal vocation and the thrust of my life for the past thirty years. There was still more. At the end of the book, I read:

O Mary, Virgin and Mother of priests,
I will place myself close to thee, today and all the days of my life,
there, in the very place where stood Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved,
the preferred Priest of His love;
I will remain there, with thee, facing the cross, and I will gaze upon Him,
this Jesus Crucified, the only science that a priest need know, love, and preach.
"To know only Jesus and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:29). . . .

O Mary, teach this priest of Jesus this folly of the Cross,
true Wisdom in the sight of God
and the solemn manifestation of His power.
Teach me how one passes into Jesus Crucified;
how, following the example of the Apostle,
one comes to bear in oneself the wounds of the Lord Jesus.
"I, for my part, bear in my body the wounds of the Lord Jesus" (Gal 6:17).

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Thou dost answer me, O Mother,
saying that I will learn this at the holy altar,
the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense (Ct 4:6),
that, each morning, I will ascend with thee
to enter into the wounds of Jesus Crucified.

There is much more that I could share about this retreat, but my time is limited. The signal grace of the retreat was a call to live in adoration and reparation for all my brother priests, and to allow my soul to be "johannized," that is to say, to consent to become, by the merciful goodness of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, another Saint John, a beloved disciple for His Heart and for the Heart of His Mother.

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

Our Lord asked me to consecrate every Thursday (day of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood) to this particular mission of adoration and reparation for priests.

Let each Thursday find me close to the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood,
deep in adoration, and offering Thee the reparation Thou askest of me
in the name of all Thy priests.
Make me an entirely Eucharistic priest,
according to the desires of Thy Sacred Heart
and the designs of Thy merciful goodness upon my life.
I desire nothing else.
I want to love Thee more each day;
I want to be the faithful adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the consoling friend of Thy Sacred Heart
hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
where it beats, wounded by love, forgotten, forsaken,
and waiting for the adoration and for the love of even one priest.

To France

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On the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Wednesday 12 September, I will be leaving Connecticut to be of service until the end of November to the Benedictine community at the Monastère Saint-Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne, France. I will be flying Swissair, New York to Geneva, and then traveling over the Jura Mountains into the Franche-Comté in eastern France to Nans–sous-Sainte-Anne. The village has 142 inhabitants and a number of cows. There is a lovely 16th century church. I hope that I will have internet access there. The village is remote! Does Vultus Christi have any readers in France? My address there will be:

Monastère Saint-Benoît
25330 Nans-sous-Ste-Anne
FRANCE

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Michael Doherty

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While on pilgrimage at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, John Doherty, the father of 14 year old Michael Doherty approached me to ask for a blessing for himself and his grief-stricken family. Michael was stabbed to death in Ennis, County Clare on the night of 23 June 2007.

Later the same day, Michael's aunt asked me to bless her and to pray with her. She explained that the seventeen year old, who allegedly stabbed young Michael on the evening of 23 June, is the son of a garda. The Doherty family are settled Travellers.

I ask the readers of Vultus Christi to pray for the repose of Michael's soul and for the comfort of his family. One can send cards or write to Michael's father and mother:

Mr. and Mrs. John Doherty
Kilrush Road
Ennis, County Clare
EIRE

Eire

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By 2:00 tomorrow afternoon I should be in Ireland. Cousin Marian Parady's daughter Mary is travelling with me. We will go first to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in County Mayo. After a few days there, we will make our way to "lovely Leitrim" to visit with Cousin John McKeon. Are there any Irish readers of Vultus Christi?

June 30 — July 3
Mervue Guesthouse
Knock City, County Mayo
353 94 93 88127

July 3 — July 6
The Bush Hotel
Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim
353 71 96 71000

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I took a few minutes this evening to translate the Litanies de Notre-Dame-du-Chêne. Some of the invocations are quite beautiful. I especially like the allusion to Colossians 3:3 in the Oration. Do read through the litanies and let me know if you have a favourite invocation!

Thérèse Dussud offered me a lovely reproduction of the statue in the actual size of the original. I burned a candle in front of it all day yesterday and until this morning for a special intention. The Mother of God does not disdain our little gestures of confidence and love; she welcomes them and delights in them.

The Litanies of Notre-Dame-du-Chêne

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Heavenly Father who art God, have mercy upon us.
Son, Redeemer of the world who art God, have mercy upon us.
Holy Spirit who art God, have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity who art one God, have mercy upon us.

Our Lady of the Oak, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak who revealed thyself by means of miraculous apparitions, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, Virgin most humble, hidden for so long in the tree of Grand-Champ, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, whose sweet image was revealed in the branches of an age-old tree, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, whose goodness is ever displayed by precious favours, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, who hast fixed thine abode in the valley there to spread abroad thy maternal gifts, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, glory and honour of the region, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, all-powerful protectress, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, open refuge in all of life’s necessities, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, evergreen palm of holy hope, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, sweet rest of the afflicted soul, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, hope of downcast souls, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, safe haven in the tempest, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, friend of the lowly of heart, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, arm of victory, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, mystic ladder, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, magnet of hearts, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, mother of mercy, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, fountain of graces, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, refuge of sinners, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, health of the sick, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, peace and bond of families, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, joy and hope in exile, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, shelter of hearts that are pure, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, way that leads to Jesus, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, mother most devoted to those who implore thee, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Oak, who art never invoked in vain, pray for us.

Notre-Dame-du-Chêne

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A Little Known Manifestation of the Blessed Virgin

One of the joys of my recent trip to France was a visit with Thérèse Dussud to the shrine of Notre–Dame–du-Chêne (Our Lady of the Oak) in the diocese of Besançon in eastern France. The miraculous events occurred in 1803, well before the Marian apparitions at rue du Bac, la Salette, Lourdes, and Pontmain.

In the Radiance of the Eucharist

The restoration of Catholic worship that followed the Concordat in 1802 made it possible for the little parish of Maisières at Scey-en-Varais to organize a solemn celebration of First Holy Communion, the first such celebration in twelve years. Thirteen year old Cécile Mille was among the First Communicants.

A Lady Dressed in White

Returning home from the First Communion Mass together with a friend, Cécile saw a beautiful Lady clothed in white surrounded by maidens bearing candles. She assumed it was a procession of First Communicants. Then the Lady stopped in front of an oak tree and the attendants disappeared. Against the trunk of the tree, at the parting of the branches, Cécile saw a statue with lighted candles on both sides. Cécile's friend, however, saw nothing.

Incredulity at Home

As soon as Cécile arrived home, she recounted the apparition to her parents. Her father, having consulted the parish priest and a gentleman of some learning, dismissed Cécile's story as the product of a pious imagination stimulated by the solemnities of the First Holy Communion.

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These are my petits amis who came to Mass with their parents at the monastery in Nans–sous–Sainte–Anne.

Would That Be Ireland?

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No, it is the view from my window at the Monastère Saint Benoît in Nans–sous–Sainte–Anne in the Doubs in eastern France

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I was walking along this little passage between the Monastery of the Incarnation and Subiaco (the novitiate) at Saint–Loup–sur–Aujon when I saw these roses and thought of Plunkett's poem.

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Joseph Mary Plunkett
Executed During The 1916 Uprising
(b. Nov. 21, 1887 - d. May 4, 1916)

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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