IN CŒNACULO a newsletter for friends of silverstream priory
Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament Stamullen • Co. Meath • Ireland
A Letter from Father Prior
The Monks, in front of Silverstream House (built 1843)
Dear Oblates, Friends, and Benefactors of Silverstream,
have passed since the first issue of our newsletter. We are taking root at Silverstream, a lovely place hidden away in the Boyne Valley of County Meath. I am grateful for another opportunity to reach out to you and to share with you something of our growth here in Ireland, and of our current urgent need. lready two years
Saint Paul says to the Thessalonians: “We gave you a pattern of how you ought to live so as to please God; live by that pattern, and make more of it than ever.” (1 Thess. 4:1) We, Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration, find the pattern of how we are to live so as to please God in the Rule of Saint Benedict and in the Sacred Host, for we are called to the imitation of what we discover in contemplating the utter humility of the Son of God in the Sacrament of His Love. The Sacred Host presents to our gaze all that Saint Benedict would have us be. We are not just Benedictines; we are, by a wonderful and utterly gratuitous gift of God, Eucharistic Benedictines, that is, men called not only to tarry in adoration and reparation before the Sacred Host, but also men called to become like the Sacred Host, to become what we contemplate, to imitate what He shows us of Himself, hidden beneath the sacramental veils. The Host is fragile; so are we. The Host is disarmingly humble; so would we be. The Host is the living icon of the poverty of God made man; so we would become poor with Him. The Host is silent; so do we find ourselves cherishing silence over words. The Host is the sacrament of the Divine Hiddenness; so too must we choose hiddenness over ostentation, and obscurity over acclaim. The Host is obedient, remaining where it is placed, not moving of Itself or by Itself, but waiting to be moved; and that is, I think, the very pattern of how we ought to live so as to please God. “Live by that pattern,” says Saint Paul, “and make more of it than ever” (1 Thess. 4:1). My personal preference would be to retreat into an utterly hidden existence, to imitate the life of the Sacred Host hidden away in the tabernacle. Withdrawn from the tabernacle, the Sacred Host disappears into the mouth of the communicant and, being absorbed into the communicant’s body, absorbs the communicant into the life of the Three Divine Persons, where the Son ceaselessly offers Himself, in love, to the Father. The Host, while disappearing, is divinely active, bringing about a transforming union with Christ the Head and with the members of His Body, the Church. The monk too is called
Priory Belltower (1952), with new cross erected by the Benedictine monks
The Divine Office, the “Work of God”
“We gave you a pattern of how you ought to live so as to please God; live by that
pattern, and make more of it than ever.” — I Thessalonians 4:1
“We do not yet own Silverstream Priory nor any of the surrounding land.
While our community
is established canonically here in the
Meath, we cannot yet call Silverstream our own, nor can we administer it freely, and develop it.”
The sheep of Silverstream!
D. Benedict & Fr Prior with His Lordship, the Bishop of Meath
to disappear and, paradoxically, it is in disappearing that the monk becomes most efficacious and fruitful. Was this not the great discovery of Saint Thérèse? “Yes,” she writes, “I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized.” I am not the first nor will I be the last monk to feel torn between remaining silent and speaking, between disappearing and appearing. I would not, for minute, want to compare myself in any way to Saint Gregory the Great, or to Saint Bernard, or to Blessed Columba Marmion, all of whom suffered the tension of feeling pulled into silence and out of it, into the enclosure of the monastery and out of it. Monks are not, by vocation, preachers, and yet some monks have always preached. Monks are not, by vocation, writers, and yet some monks have always written, and written well and much. Monks are not, by vocation, missionaries, and yet some monks have always carried the pure light of the Gospel into places of darkness. Over the past few weeks, I have listened to my community and to our friends; we have discussed the extreme precariousness of our foundation. People whom I trust are urging me to make appeals, to seek out benefactors, to accept invitations to preach, to speak about our urgent need and to write about it. It is a question of survival. What am I going to do? I am going to work at making Silverstream Priory known; I am going to ask for help wherever and whenever possible. We do not yet own Silverstream Priory nor any of the surrounding land. While our community is established canonically here in the Diocese of Meath, we cannot yet call Silverstream our own, nor can we administer it freely, and develop it. Until we have purchased Silverstream’s buildings and property, there remains an element of risk in what we are doing. The men who have joined our monastery are conscious of the risk involved and, in the face of the risk, have laid their lives on the line. At this stage of our development, we are still too few to undertake a remunerative cottage industry. Our first and most important commitment of time and energy belongs to the Work of God, the Divine Office chanted in choir eight times daily; to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated with dignity, reverence, and beauty; and to daily prolonged adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Second in order of our priorities is the human, intellectual, and spiritual formation of our novices; this requires a significant investment of our limited human resources. Third is our distinctive work of hospitality to priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord; our retreat house is a place of spiritual respite for them. Fourth in order of our priorities are the apostolates of our book shop, The Gatehouse; of the two confraternities we have established to foster prayer; and of our writing, editing, and future publications. Alongside these four priorities, we continue limited renovations and improvements, assure the good order and cleanliness of the house and all it contains, the maintenance of the property, and the preparation of meals. As we go about our daily rhythm of prayer and work, the ticking clock reminds us that we have outstanding debts and that, so far, we have nothing to put toward the purchase of Silverstream. There is
an annual 12.5% increase to the agreed sale price. (We have been here two years; therefore the price has increased 25%.) Stability is fundamental to Benedictine life. One enters a monastery to take root there and to remain there like the grain of wheat that Our Lord speaks of in the Fourth Gospel: “Believe me when I tell you this; a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else it remains nothing more than a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it yields rich fruit” (John 12:24–25). Stability is the one essential element of Benedictine life that, at the moment, Silverstream Priory cannot offer. We need to purchase Silverstream. For us and for you, adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament, it is a worthy investment. Please help! I am begging, then, for your prayers for Silverstream Priory. I am begging also for financial help. Prayer and almsgiving are part of the most ancient Lenten practices of the Church. Our current urgent need is an opportunity for you to practice both. Here are five reasons why my appeal to you is urgent: 1. In December our trusted board of lay and clerical advisors decided a moratorium on all renovations until such time as we own Silverstream. The projected renovations are not cosmetic, decorative, or optional; they are necessary to make Silverstream safe, secure, and liveable. Therefore, the purchase of Silverstream is urgent; without purchasing the property we cannot proceed with the necessary renovations. 2. Vocations. Men are applying to Silverstream Priory. Until we own Silverstream, we cannot offer men the security and stability that are indispensable to the healthy development of a Benedictine vocation. We are obliged to put vocations on hold until we purchase Silverstream. Vocations are always urgent. As Saint Peter Julian Eymard said, concerning his own vocation, “Tomorrow may be too late.” 3. Silverstream includes a simple little monastic church built in 1952 under the direction of the Brothers of Saint John of God. The church requires extensive work and complete renovation. We have gutted the structure but cannot proceed with the renovation until we own Silverstream. What is a monastery without a church? A body without a heart. This is urgent. Our temporary oratory is inadequate. 4. The good Visitation Nuns who own Silverstream are at the point in their lives where they will need nursing care. They need the funds from the sale of Silverstream in order to end their long years of consecrated life in security and in peace. This also is an urgent matter. 5. The purchase price of Silverstream is being increased by 12.5% annually for a period of five years. We are currently in our second year of occupancy. The longer it takes us to raise the money needed to purchase Silverstream, the more expensive it becomes. I thank you for taking the time to read this long letter. I felt it important to give you an in-depth understanding of our special vocation as Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration, and of our pressing needs. Please take all of this before Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love and, then, as Our Lady said at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you!” With heartfelt gratitude in the Lamb whom we adore,
Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, prior
Priory Church (built 1952)
Unfinished church interior
Father Prior preaching
“We need to purchase Silverstream. For us and for you, adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament, it is a worthy investment. Please help!”
M ichael S mith God, and the favour of the A postolic S ee by the grace of
Bishop of Meath
^ DE CREE
Bp. Michael Smith
St Finnian of Clonard
Diocese of Meath has a rich monastic heritage, made luminous by the memory of such holy men as our patron Saint Finian (†549), Saint Columba (†597), Saint Ciarán (†775), and Saint Féichín (†665). In the ancient abbey of Fore in Westmeath, Benedictine monks sang the praises of God by day and by night, and this until its dissolution by the King’s commissioners in 1539. Saint Oliver Plunkett was himself a Benedictine Oblate; he went to his martyrdom wearing the scapular of Saint Benedict’s own sons. When I was approached on 19 October 2011 and asked if I would permit a new monastic foundation under the Rule of Saint Benedict in the Diocese of Meath, I saw that such an undertaking could become for many, and especially for priests, a sign of continuity with the past and of hope for the future. The Benedictine Monks now living at Silverstream Priory in Stamullen came to our diocese from the United States where, in 2009, with the blessing of the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, they began a new expression of the monastic life marked by adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, for the holiness of priests, and in a spirit of reparation. The Benedictines of Silverstream Priory came to Ireland to take root among us, recalling in some way the Irish monks of old who, for the love of Christ, set out as pilgrims to plant new cloisters on foreign shores. The real stability of a monk is both inward and ecclesial, insofar as it is fixed in the Sacred Host, that is, in Jesus Christ truly present as Priest and Victim upon the altars of the Church, whence He offers Himself to the Father as a pure oblation from the rising of the sun to its setting (Mal. 1:11). Ubi Hostia, ibi Ecclesia (“Where the Host is, there is the Church”). The particular form of Benedictine life that has come, finally, to bury itself, take root and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, flourish in the Diocese of Meath, is profoundly Eucharistic and ecclesial. The influences that have come to bear upon its development are as many as they are rich, beginning with the final years of the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, marked by the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and by the indiction of the Year of the Eucharist in the Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, and including the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, in which the Holy Father expressed his “appreciation and support for all those Institutes of Consecrated Life whose members dedicate a significant amount of time to Eucharistic adoration” (art. 67). At the same time, the moral sufferings that, in recent years, cast so dark a shadow over the Face of Christ and of His priests in Ireland, and elsewhere in the world, call for reparation. This, the present Holy Father affirmed in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, in which he wrote: he
Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of
Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. (art. 14) To encourage and confirm the founding Prior, and the men seeking to join him, in this distinctively Benedictine tradition of Eucharistic adoration and reparation, marked, in a special way, by hospitality to priests in need of silence and of prayer, I hereby approve, confirm, and ratify the present text of Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, without prejudice to the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and this for the glory of God and the consolation of His Church. And having these noble ends in view, and in communion of mind and heart with the Holy See, I hereby erect and establish the Institute of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar as a Public Clerical Association of the Faithful (CIC 312) in view of its being recognized, after a suitable period of growth, as a sui iuris Monastery of Diocesan Right. In accord with the Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict for the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, I also appoint the Very Reverend Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, newly incardinated in the Diocese of Meath, Conventual Prior of the monastery ad tempus indeterminatum. Entrusting the present and future of Silverstream Priory to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom its monks venerate with filial piety as their Abbess and their Queen, I willingly impart my blessing to this new monastic presence in the Diocese of Meath.
^ Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath 31 December 2012 On the 398th anniversary of the birth in Saint–Dié, France of Catherine–Mectilde de Bar, foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
11 July 2013, the feast of our glorious father Saint Benedict, R obin G race I mmaculata P udewa made her Oblation here, becoming the third professed Oblate of Silverstream Priory. Married to Andrew, and the mother of seven children, Robin lives near Hulbert, Oklahoma, not far from the Abbey of Clear Creek. Her Oblate name, Immaculata, was given her in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes to whom she has a particular devotion. On 7 October 2013, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Father Prior received the oblation of Linda Cecilia (of Rome) Simms, in the course of Holy Mass at Silent Waters Farm in Connecticut. Linda’s husband Doug as well as her sister Lisa and brotherin-law Chris were in attendance. Linda’s well known n
devotion to Saint Columbkille was enriched by the patronage of Saint Cecilia of Rome, whose name she received as an Oblate. On Sunday, 8 December 2013, in the radiance of the feast of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, Father Prior received Dr Cathal Steele as an Oblate novice of Silverstream Priory, giving him Saint Luke, Physician and Evangelist as his patron saint. Cathal is married to Dr Claire Steele; they are the parents of Joseph (age 10), Isabel (age 8), and Robert (age 6). On Sunday, 9 February 2014, Father Prior received Mr Arkadiusz (Arek) Lipinski as an Oblate novice of Silverstream Priory, giving him Saint Joachim, husband of Saint Anne and father of the Blessed Virgin Mary as his patron saint. Oblate Brother Joachim and his wife Marzena attend Holy Mass at the monastery with sons Ryan, Nicholas, and Dominic and help us in ways too many to be counted. >
New Novices at Silverstream On Sunday, 9 February 2014, our provisional Oratory was the scene of not a few tears and of much rejoicing as Brother Elijah Maria (Alexander Taylor Carroll ) and Brother Finnian Joseph ( James Pio King) entered upon their noviciate. The ceremony began with the presentation of the postulants by Dom Benedict, the reading of Sirach 2:1–13, and Father Prior’s homily (see text below). The traditional Mandatum (Washing of the Feet) took place after the homily.
eloved sons, James and Alex, you are cou-
rageous men and, in the eyes, of the world, foolish men. You have thrown in your lot with Dom Benedict and myself: by human calculation, a risky thing to do. Listen to what the Apostle says: So much wiser than men is God’s foolishness; so much stronger than men is God’s weakness. Consider, brethren, the circumstances of your own calling; not many of you are wise, in the world’s fashion, not many powerful, not many well born. No, God has chosen what the world holds foolish, so as to abash the wise, God has chosen what the world holds weak, so as to abash the strong. God has chosen what the world holds base and contemptible, nay, has chosen what is nothing, so as to bring to nothing what is now in being. (1 Cor. 1:25–28) You could have chosen a well-established abbey with magnificent architecture and a splendid church, with vast scenic lands, financial security, wise seniors, strong men in the prime of life, and promising young men giving assurance for tomor-
row. Instead, you have come to monastery so poor that it does not even own the buildings and land in which it is established; a monastery in which you will find no fine architecture and no splendid abbey church; a monastery that is, in every way, fragile — oh, so fragile — and marked already by cold, sickness, weakness, and a worrisome lack of security and of means. Paradoxically, here, the very insecurity of the place will become your security. As your father, I will not hide from you the secret upon which you will have to stake your life here, the words of Christ to Saint Paul: “My grace is enough for thee; my strength finds its full scope in thy weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). This monastery came into being in response to what I can only describe as a certain radiance, a silent communication from the altar where, one day — it was nine years ago on the Feast of Corpus Christi — the Body of Christ was exposed in the monstrance. The Church is not lacking in Benedictine monasteries; one can hardly justify the need for yet another one. And yet, it was clear to me that Our Lord was, in some way, waiting for another monastery, one in which the light shining from His Eucharistic Face would suffuse all things; one in which men, drawn to the radiance of His Eucharistic Face and to the fire blazing in His Eucharistic Heart, would tarry in His presence, adoring for those who do not adore, allowing themselves to be loved for those who recoil in the face of Love, believing for souls plunged into darkness, and hoping —hoping especially — for priests tempted to despair of the mercy of God. To adore is to abide before Christ as Christ abides before the Father. Christ, the Word, who from all eternity was facing the Father, faces Him still in His glorious humanity. He faces the Father in love. He faces the Father in self–offering. He faces the Fa-
ther in an ineffable joy — boundless, indestructible, personal, and divine — that is the Holy Spirit. The whole work of Christ is to bring us into union with Himself, so that through Him, with Him, and in Him, we might stand before the Father, even as He stands before the Father in the glory of heaven and in the hiddenness of tabernacles all over the globe. The life of perpetual adoration is a participation, by grace, in what Saint John reveals in the opening lines of his Prologue: the Word with God, and the Word facing God. “At the beginning of time the Word already was; and God had the Word abiding with him, and the Word was God. He abode, at the beginning of time, with God” (John 1:1–2). This is the essence of perpetual adoration. For the monk, as for every Christian, it begins when one begins to live facing Christ, magnetised by His presence, fascinated by His beauty, illumined by His truth, conquered by His goodness, and drawn irresistibly into the light of His Face. And where on earth is this Face to be found, if not in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar? Alexander Taylor Carroll of the Diocese of Tulsa, you came to this life gradually and over a period of years: discovering the Catholic faith as a curious young Lutheran; looking first at the diocesan priesthood, and then at a young lady in view of marriage and family life, and, in the end, you said like Jacob, “Surely the Lord was in this place and I did not know it. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28: 16–17). You remind me, Alex, of a certain prophet to whom the Lord came and said: “What dost thou here?” Why, he answered, “I am all jealousy for the honour of the Lord God of hosts; see how the sons of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and put thy prophets to the sword! Of these, I only am left, and now my life, too, is forfeit.” Then word came to him to go out and stand there in the Lord’s presence; the Lord God himself would pass by. (1 Kings 19:9–11) Has not the Lord called you, Alex Carroll, to stand in His presence, even as Christ, the Eternal High Priest stands before His Father, offering Himself as a spotless victim?
James Pio King of the Diocese of Meath, you came to Silverstream Priory after having traveled much and suffered a certain emptiness within, not unlike that of one Augustine who said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is unquiet until it come to rest in Thee.” (Confessions, ch. I) You are something of a romantic, James, and your heart was drawn to those places of beauty, and security, and impeccable good order that you saw — and sometimes still pine after — in France and elsewhere. In the end, Our Lord smiled upon you graciously and brought you home to County Meath, to your own diocese, to a place that He had prepared just for you all along. In His infinite wisdom, Christ Jesus was looking for a man to walk again in the footsteps of Saint Finian, Saint Ultan, Saint Feichin, and the monks of Fore Abbey. A vocation to Silverstream Priory is a vocation to the Cenacle: to the enclosure of that Upper Room in which Jesus made bread His adorable Body and a chalice of wine the ver y chalice of His Precious Blood; in which He humbled Himself to wash the feet of His apostles; in which He made them His priests; in which they sang psalms o f p r a i s e ; i n w h i c h He appeared again, shining in the glory of His Resurrection, and giving His wounds to Thomas to be touched; in which His all–holy Mother and His disciples persevered in prayer; in which the Holy Ghost descended in a mighty wind and in tongues of fire; from which the Church went out to all nations; and to which she returns daily at the mystic Third Hour. All of this is the mystery of the Cenacle. You, Alex and James, have come to a monastery in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is Abbess — that is Mother — and Queen. Hers it is to welcome you into this year of noviceship; to keep you attentive in this “school of the Lord’s service” (Holy Rule, Prologue); to offer you, day after day, the consolation of her Maternal Heart; and to wrap you round in the penetrating fragrance of her own adoring silence. I could say much more to you, dear sons, but I leave that to the gentle whisperings of One who comes “not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in a still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). >
A Profession & an Ordination
Benedict Andersen’s triennial profession on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, 29 September 2012, was the culmination of a summer of unstinting work and, for Dom Benedict himself, the flowering of a tender shoot but recently transplanted into Irish soil. Dom Benedict’s was the first monastic profession under the Rule of Saint Benedict in the diocese of Meath in over 473 years, that is, since the dissolution of the Benedictine Priory at Fore in West Meath by the King’s Commissioners in 1539. On Wednesday, 13 November 2013, Dom Benedict Maria Andersen was mystically configured to Christ the Servant (Διακονος, “Deacon”) of the Father at the hands of His Lordship Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, in the presence of his Father Prior, his brothers in the community, the clergy of the Diocese, and numerous friends of the Priory. Following the Ordination Mass, there was a festive reception at Silverstream Priory. The beautiful Ordination Liturgy took place at St Mary’s, Drogheda on the Feast of All Saints of the Benedictine Order. The music (including Palestrina’s ‘Missa Brevis’) was rendered with great beauty and skill by the Lassus Scholars of Dublin, under the direction of Ite O’Donovan. om
Dom Benedict has a lasting debt of gratitude towards all who helped make the occasion such a glorious event: to His Lordship Bishop Smith for his graciousness and especially for his touching homily; to Frs. Michael Cahill and Stephen Kelly, who acted as Masters of Ceremonies; to all those who served, namely Brs. Patrick and David OP and the Meath seminarians at Maynooth; to all who attended the event, both clergy and lay-folk, and especially to those who offered him gifts; to all those who worked so hard organising the reception; and to M.D. who provided the funds necessary to print attractive, full colour booklets containing the texts of the service in parallel Latin and English. >
In Remembrance of my Simple Profession of Monastic Vows, According to the Holy Rule of Our Patriarch Saint Benedict
D OM BENEDIC T M AR I A ANDER S EN, osb 29 September 2012
DEAR FRIENDS IN CHRIST, PRAY FOR
DOM BENEDICT MARIA ANDERSEN, o.s.b.
S i lv er str e am P r iory
ORDAINED TO THE SACRED ORDER OF DEACONS
• • •
By His Lordship, the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath
then said i: lo, i come. in the volume of the book it is written of me, that i should fulfil thy will. o my god, i am content to do it; yea, thy law is within my heart.—Ps. xxxix.
At the Church of Saint Mary, Drogheda, Ireland Feast of All Saints of the Benedictine Order 13 November 2013
Stamullen, Co. Meath, Éire
ancta María, Spéculum monásticæ perfectiónis, Sancte MichaËl Archángele, defénsor noster, Sancte Joseph, Fili David, Dei Genetrícis Sponse, Sancte Joánnes Præcúrsor, exémplum monachórum, Sancte Joánnes, qui supra pectus Dómini in Cœna recúbuit, Sancte Pater Benedícte, Patriárcha monachórum, Sancte Patrícii, Hibérniæ Apóstoli gloriósi, Sancte Anschárii, Illuminátor Danórum, Sancta Terésia a Jesu Infánte et a Sacra Vulto, amóris víctima, Beate Joánnes Henríce, prædicátor veritátis, Beate Columba, doctor adoptiónis filiórum Dei,
⎫ ⎪ ⎪ ⎪ ⎪ ⎬ ⎪ ⎪ ⎪ ⎪ ⎭
Tu illum adjuva!
God Almighty, the true and faithful God, who art rich unto all that call upon Thee in truth, who art fearful in counsels, and wise in understanding, who art powerful and great : hear our prayer, O Lord, and let Thine ears receive our supplication, and cause the light of Thy Countenance to shine upon Thy servant, the monk Benedict ; and replenish him with Thy Holy Spirit, and with power, as Thou didst replenish Stephen, who was Thy Martyr, and follower of the sufferings of Thy Christ. Do Thou render him worthy to discharge acceptably the ministration of a Deacon, steadily, unblameably, and without reproof, that thereby he may attain an higher degree, through the mediation of Thy only-begotten Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen. adapted from the apostolic constitutions (4th c.)
A Paschal Homily
Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, prior
and the night is my light and my delight” (Ps 138:12), for Christ is risen!
n the beginning
the heavens were splayed
across the void and the fabric of creation was woven by His hands: a veil translucent upon the face of the earth, finely woven that through it we might glimpse His glory! Christ is risen! In the beginning He made man in His image, in His likeness. From the dust Adam emerged, facing the splendour of His glory: the creature reflecting as in a mirror the Uncreated Beauty from which all beauty springs. Great was Adam’s grief, terrible the laments of Eve, when before their darkened eyes descended the veil opaque and heavy, the veil that they, by their sin, had pulled down hard and fast like a window shade in time of war! But now the long blackout of history is ended, for Christ is risen!
hrist is risen!
Christ is risen! Christ is risen! This is the night Eucharistic above all others! This is the night of the Great Thanksgiving, the Eucharist of glory, for Christ is risen! Wrapped in light as in a robe (Ps. 103:2), He has gone into the sanctuary, passed beyond the veil (cf. Heb 6:19). Christ is risen! Enveloped now in the bright cloud of the Spirit, He stands, our priest before the Father, forever alive, forever life-giving, “holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens!” (Heb 7:26) Christ is risen! This is of all Eucharists the brightest: the nocturnal Eucharist by which every night is claimed for the light. This is night of burning hearts and broken bread, the night of the cup that overflows! Christ is risen! David sings the mystery and the Church takes up his song! This is the night foretold in prophecy: “And the night shall be enlightened as the day;
“Look, my darling Eve,” says ancient Adam in a creaking voice that has forgotten how to sing, “is that the light of God I see?” Behold, the peace of paradise, for Christ is risen! Shredded are the shades of night! Sprung from their hinges the gates of the netherworld! Unchained the chains, unbolted the bolts! Christ is risen! Eve, all bent earthward, stooped with the weight of the ages, lifts her old gray head as if to examine the fruit on a branch, then, leaning on her walking stick older than time Adam had cut it for her from the tree straightens her crooked back, and opens her mouth to say: Christ is risen! He enters, the Warrior returned from battle, the King covered with victory, the Bridegroom “all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand” (Cant. 5:10), for Christ is risen!
the Ram caught in a thicket of thorns! Behold, the gentle Lamb bound and laid upon the wood! Behold, the Victim for the Altar!
Behold, the Offering in Love’s Undying Flame consumed! Christ is risen! Isaac, wide-eyed, looking on, remembers well the day he was bound fast and laid upon the altar by his father’s trembling and tender hand. He remembers the flash of the blade above his head and, out of heaven, the voice: “Abraham! Abraham! You have not withheld your son, your only-begotten son from me!” (cf. Gen 22: 11-12). “Oh, Father, now I see! It is as you said: ‘God Himself will provide the Lamb, my son,’ for Christ is risen!”
wakened from his sleep, shuffles out to see the sight, brooding, grumbling as he goes. “After forty years of leading them, the stiff-necked, fickle, dull-witted lot, could they not at least let a man retired take his rest! And why that ringing of bells and tambourines? Would not a slap of the clapper do?” Not for a minute, my Lord Moses, for Christ is risen! “Could they not have called on Joshua to see whatever this marvel may be? I, after all, have seen it all: the plagues and the parting of the sea, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, the rush of the waters, the fright of the steeds, chariots sinking in the mud and Egyptians dead upon the shore!” (He does not yet know that — Christ is risen!) Then he sees Him whom once he knew, the Friend with whom he spoke face to Face (cf. Ex 33:11), the Glory whose trail of splendour he spied from the cleft of the rock (cf. Ex 33:22), the Beloved Son who woke him briefly not so long ago to converse with Him and with Elijah of another exodus, His! (cf. Lk 28:31). Christ is risen! Behold Him now, more beautiful than on the heights of Thabor! Then, “His face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (Mt 17:2), but now, there are no words to describe him, for Christ is risen!
the Lover back from combat, with shining shards of ruby brightness slashing through his hands and feet!
“His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven” (Ct 5:11), and across his forehead a ring of cut diamonds, an incision of stars! Christ is risen! “Your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His Name!” Christ is risen! “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed” (Is 54:4), for Christ is risen! “I hid my Face from you” (Is 54:8), it is true, shroud and veil covered me, a stone, the seal upon my tomb, but now my Face unveiled would be your feast, your tabernacle, your paradise. Christ is risen! There is but a lattice of hope between us, or the membrane of a living faith stretched taut and wholly penetrable to love. Christ is risen!
f you are parched,
come to the waters! If you have no money, come all the same! Tonight is the festival of the destitute, the homecoming of the wanderer, the hospitality of the heavens thrown open to the earth! For Christ is risen! Tonight there is water in abundance, for feet and hands and face and head! A cascade of jewels for the Bride of Christ, Splashing wetness on the pavement, bringing a thrill to every thirsting heart, For Christ is risen! Tonight, for our lips, there is something sweeter than honey! Tonight there is a Chalice brimming with the fruit of the vine! Tonight there is Bread from heaven to strengthen every heart, supersubstantial, and having within it all delight, for Christ is risen! “Ah,” I hear you say, “my fasting was not all it could have been, and, often, from abstinence I abstained! My penitence was paltry, and my prayer-time bound to the miserly measure of the clock! In giving alms I was stiff-necked and stingy, and when I tried to bend my mind to the Scriptures it was my feeble head that bent in sleep! This feast, I fear, is not for me!” Nonsense! For Christ is risen! Tonight all is given away:
pardon for sinners, healing for the sick, laughter for weepers, a song for the sullen, and for those who have nothing — everything! Christ is risen! Tonight no one gets what he deserves! Each one gets what he has not earned: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9), for Christ is risen! onight the stars shine in their watches and are glad (Bar 3:34), sparks of fire hurled into the murky vastness, an incandescent train for the King of Glory! Christ is risen! Tonight, for the foolish there is wisdom! Tonight, for the weak there is strength! Tonight, for the simple there is understanding! Christ is risen! Tonight, for the uncertain there is discernment! Tonight, for the anxious there is length of days and life! Tonight, for the blind there is light! Tonight, for the battle-scarred and weary there is peace, For Christ is risen! onight, there is a bath to wash away every defilement! Tonight, every idol comes crashing down! Tonight, there is a mystical infusion of purity in our inmost parts, for Christ is risen! This is the night of the new heart. This is the night of the new spirit. This is the night of hearts of stone exchanged for hearts of flesh (cf. Ez 36:26), For Christ is risen! Tonight the panting deer arrives at flowing streams! Tonight she who puts no limits on her desire is held fast in the embrace of a Love without limits! Christ is risen! Tonight he who has followed his heart’s whispering, – “Seek His Face” – feasts, like Simon, on the Face of His Lord, Christ is risen! fter Moses, after David and the Prophets, the Apostle draws a breath and speaks: “Consider yourselves,” he said, “dead to sin” (Rom 6:11). “Dead?” you say, fearful and astonished. “Dead,” he says. “No other way. And alive to God in Christ Jesus” (cf. Rom 6:11). Christ is risen!
Die then, tonight, die dead to all that is old, die dead to all that is decayed, die dead to all that will not rise to join the dance, for Christ is risen! ary Magdalene and the other Mary ran before us to the tomb! The earth shook and shifted, jumped and heaved! “What cosmic dance is this?” they asked, as over rocks and rills they sped, while beneath their feet the road to His tomb cracked like the shells of Easter eggs! Christ is risen! And then they saw it all: the gracious Angel seated on the stone, dazzling brightness, blinding whiteness, guards, first shaking like leaves in the breeze, and then stiff as dead men for fear! “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen as he said. Come see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:6). Christ is risen! To them it was announced, yes, but the Mother . . . the Mother already knew! She, the first in this night, as in the night of Bethlehem, to behold the Human Face of God! Christ is risen! Christ is risen that we, going to the altar in this most holy night, might see His Face shining beneath the sacramental veils! Christ is risen that we, like so many mirrors lifted high to catch the light, might dispel the darkness within and without! Christ is risen that hope may triumph in every heart, in every place! Christ is risen to go before us: our Brother to the Father, our Priest to the Altar. our Saviour to the world! Christ is risen! Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
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Inside this Newsletter (Paschaltide 2014) — A Letter from Father Prior Decree from the Bishop of Meath — Vocations & Oblates News — A Paschal Homily Benedictine Monks Stamullen Co. Meath Ireland
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