Monday, December 29, 2014

The Canon: The Canon's 2014 Catholic Hipster Checklist

The Canon: The Canon's 2014 Catholic Hipster Checklist: So, you want to be a Catholic Hipster but don't know where to get started?  Our 2014 Catholic Hipster Checklist is here to help! ...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Burning Babe

The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, though scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames, which with his tears were fed.
"Alas," quoth he, "but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts, or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood."
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas Day.

Robert Southwell (1561-95)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Loving the Stanek Report

From over at the Margaret Sanger blog a great piece on the valuable niche the Stanek Report now fills:   

If You Like Drudge, You Will Love the Stanek Report

A powerful pro-life internet presence has evolved over the years in response to the repulsive pro-abortion news coverage we have come to expect from the left-wing, mainstream media.

As we outline below, there are countless great pro-life blogs, pro-life news sites, pro-life organization websites, and pro-life activist sites out there. But now we have The Stanek Report.  The Stanek Report  serves as an invaluable, prolife news aggregation website pulling many of these resources together on one user friendly news site.  If you like the Drudge Report, you will love  The Stanek Report.



Earlier this year, we highlighted many of the great pro-life sites out there:

There are some great prolife websites and we visit many of them daily and link to a lot of the top ones.  Of course, Life NewsFoundation Life Pro-life NewsProLife Unity News and LifeSiteNews are must reads every day;  our tremendous national organizations all have very helpful websites, Priests for LifeHuman Life InternationalAmerican Life LeagueNational Right to LifeSisters of Life, the tremendously effective Life DynamicsOperation Rescue, our personal favorite Forty Days for Life, and of course Lila Rose and her wonderful organization Live Action

The Margaret Sanger Blog always relies on  Klanned Parenthood, TooManyAbortedBlack Genocide,  and Abort73 which are great.  Students for Life is an invaluable site.  We love Life Decisions International and its effort to defund the bloodthirsty haters at  Planned Parenthood - same with STOPP Planned Parenthood. The quite useful, yet underrated site at ProLifeAmerica, is a favorite.  The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is a definite life-saver.

A few more must visits are Maafa 21180 Movie, and The Culture of Life Review.   Unique and innovative efforts are also our favorites, so we are big fans of Save the Storks.  You will also want to keep an eye on Grace Daigler, a forward thinking Franciscan University student, and her new effort Equipped to Engage.  Online for Life is another brilliant new effort.  Heartbeat International is also doing some good work.  On the local level, there are great organizations across the country, way too many to mention, but a special shout out this year goes to the gutsy folks at Cleveland Right to Life.  

We also find it useful to check the pro-life articles on the conservative activist site on a daily basis.  We also follow pro-life articles at the and  

Countless men and women are clearly doing heroic work and we are surely missing a bunch of sites worthy of mention.  And that is why we can not even begin to list all the great bloggers who each and every day make the case for life and bring to light profound and meaningful pro-life stories.  With so many valuable and informative blogs having one central prolife blog that pulls them all-together is extremely useful -that blog is Pro-Life Blogs

We also highlighted not long ago some of the great up-and-coming blogs:

Top 10 up-and-coming ProLife Blogs

It is always heartening to see the vast number of voices speaking up for the innocent and voiceless unborn.

We never cease to be amazed by the vast array of profile ministries in this country.  One excellent gauge for the passion of our cause is simply the number of websites and blogs out there selflessly trying to win hearts and minds to the pro-life cause.

We could make a list a mile long of all the pro-life sites out there, but today we just thought we would highlight some of the great up-and-coming blogs and organizations.   We still love and read Jill Stanek daily, but here are some other blogs to keep an eye on and bookmark.

10.  Generations for Life is the Pro-Life Action League‘s outreach to the new pro-life generation.Generations for Life empowers teens to be effective pro-life leaders by inspiring and helping them to establish lively pro-life clubs within their own high school communities and youth groups.
The Generations for Life Blog is great.  We love the Prayer Challenge and video recently posted and organized by high schoolers. 

9.  Save the Storks  Want to be inspired?  This group is doing something fresh, innovative and extremely valuable every day...follow this blog and you will be filled with hope.  The pro-life cause certainly has genius on its side!

8.  The Quick and the Dead: Planned Parenthood's Brazen Legacy of Debauchery, Defilement, and Death is an always informative blog that has been a round for a while.  But it really caught our attention again recently with the news that George Grant was re-releasing his epic Margaret Sanger biography, Killer Angel.

7.  The Prolife Youth Blog  is another marvelous, youth led blog that just fills one with hope when one reads it.  With bright minds like this on our side, one can imagine a day when abortion will become unthinkable.

6.  Rightly Wired  is more of a Libertarian leaning Conservative news site, than a pro-life blog, but it consistently has very high quality, right to life articles.  Youthful and inspired, if it is not yet on your radar, we encourage you to link to Rightly Wired , check it daily, and can thank us later.

5. Students for Life  is the best.  We can never find enough good things to say about Students for Life. Would have been number one, but it's not really up-and-coming.  It's already there.  The Students for Life site is great, the organization is even better, and the work they do is invaluable.  God bless Students for Life.

4. LiveActionNews is another group that has accomplished so much and that is so valuable to the pro-life movement that it doesn't really belong in the up-and-coming category.  But it is a site we visit daily, and even though Lila Rose already seems like she belongs in the ProLife Hall of Fame, she is only 26!  If we were unborn, we would want these guys on our side. 

3. is written by the young members of he Society for the Protection of Unborn Children a UK organization.  It is great to see that the hope, ingenuity and energy we are increasingly seeing is not just a US phenomenon.
2.  Equipped to Engage is an effort by students to help train other students to become leaders in the pro-life cause.  This is a very important effort with an incredible amount of promise.  

1. 40 Days for Life is certainly one of the most important efforts to come along.  A powerful, prayerful effort that has won hearts and minds daily, and closed abortion clinics weekly - it is an answer to all of our prayers.  Reading updates on 40 Days for Life fills us all with Hope!

That's our list.  Sure it's not perfect, and some of these sites aren't even blogs, and some of them aren't up-and-coming they are already there!  But who cares.  We just hope you check out some of these sites and get involved however you can. 

And if that's not enough pro-life blogs for you, be sure to check out for an exhaustive list of the all pro-life blogs you will ever need to read.


And now there is  The Stanek Report  .  If you haven't already, go check it out!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fundraising deadline looms for Silverstream Priory

An update on traditional monks at the Silverstream Priory from Catholic Ireland.

Fundraising deadline looms for Silverstream priory

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 December, 2014
Ireland’s newest monastery - the Benedictine monks of Silverstream Priory in Co Meath - need €150,000.
Benedictine monks of Silverstream priory (l to r) Dom Elijah, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, Dom Finian and Dom Benedict Andersen.
The fundraising deadline for Ireland’s newest monastery is just four days away and the Benedictine monks of Silverstream Priory still need €150,000.
The community of five was founded from its parent community in the diocese of Tulsa in Oklahoma in the US and ended up coming to Ireland when the house the community was renting in Tulsa became too small.
Prior, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, explained that they need to purchase the Victorian-era monastery to make their future secure and to do major work to stem its descent into further decay.
Silverstream Priory was built around 1845 on 15 acres of countryside near Stamullen.
It had been owned by the Visitation Order of nuns from 1955. They moved out four years ago when their members needed nursing home care and they sought to sell the property to raises these funds.
The price tag for the property was €750,000 including a chapel that is crumbling and in bad need of repair.
The Benedictine monks intend to offer retreats to priests and religious and self-fund itself but it can’t do that until this financial hurdle is overcome.
“For a monastery to really flourish, there has to be that security that we can say this is home,” Dom Mark Daniel Kirby said and he explained, “We don’t own anything personally but the monastery has to be rooted in a place.”
He said the way of life they were living as Benedictines was the same since the 6th century and that as Ireland had once been covered with monasteries, they were trying to keep that memory alive.
“We are here to stay – we are planted here and we’ve already put down roots. I believe that God called us to Silverstream and that this is where we are supposed to be.”
“The Second Vatican Council taught that a local church is incomplete until it has a contemplative monastery. So it is important that we remain and that we continue to flourish because we are getting vocations and there are more on the way. But we must secure the monastery first,” he said.
Speaking at the Stamullen priory, 34-year-old Dom Benedict Andersen told, “Our monastery began in Tulsa in 2007. We were founded by the Bishop of Tulsa, Edward Slattery and we took root there.”
“I joined the monastery when we were in Tulsa and we were in a rented house in Tulsa – sort of looking for a property to move on to so that we could grow. We couldn’t really find anything adequate in Tulsa so we asked the bishop would he allow us to look outside the diocese. He said where are you thinking of, and we said maybe Ireland, and he said well if it is Ireland that is ok.”
“We came into contact with Fr John Hogan who is the parish priest of Rathkenny in the diocese of Meath. He said that there was a monastery in Stamullen of the Visitation nuns and they are thinking of leaving. So we got in contact with the bishop of Meath and he said you are very welcome to come here.”
Dom Benedict from SilverstreamSilverstream Priory is currently the only contemplative monastery in the diocese of Meath. Though it has been in Ireland less than four years and is already attracting new candidates.
One of these is novice Dom Finian who is from just outside Navan.
The 34-year-old was prior to joining the monastery an instrumentation technician who worked in calibrating scientific instruments such as gas turbines.
He was living in Bedford in the UK before he embarked on his vocational journey.
“It was something I was thinking about for years. For myself, it was a matter of coming to the monastery and not just staying for a day or a week but over the course of time when you live this life you begin to see the wisdom and the life in action… it is something you have to try to see.”
The novice said his family would “always have been supportive of anything I tried to do” and that they “always knew that vocation was a possible life decision for me”.
For the youngest member of the community, 27-year-old Bro Elijah, his family were not supportive.
“My family is not catholic, they are Lutherans. I became a catholic in high school and it was early college when I made the decision to join a seminary.” It was a source of rupture and even to this day a source of grief.
However, he told, “I am in regular conversation with my parents and my family; they know I love them and I know they love me but it is very difficult when a family isn’t on the same page.”
Dom Elijah like Dom Finian is a novice. He will make his vows next year. “I have taken no vows – I could walk out if I wanted to and if something went wrong I could be dismissed. Right now everything is going well and I’m happy and planning to stay.”
The Tulsa native originally became a seminarian for his home diocese but thanks to the amount of time he spent “going back and forth” between the monastery in Tulsa and the university he “became part of the furniture” and was drawn to contemplative cloistered monastic life.
The Benedictine monks of Silverstream live their vocation under the Patronage of Our Lady of the Cenacle and have a special dedication to the sacred liturgy.
When Dom Benedict, who was a member of the Tulsa community, pronounced his vows last year, he was the first Benedictine monk to be professed in Meath since the dissolution of the Abbey of Fore by the commissioners of Henry VIII in 1539.
Dom Mark Daniel KirbyThe monks have a number of young men both from Ireland and the US interested in joining the community but the monastery is badly in need of renovation in order to accommodate more men.
Dom Benedict was born into a Danish-Irish-American family which were culturally Catholic. “I came from an unchurched catholic background. I was baptised but I was never brought back to church. Through a lot of study and many trials and tribulations I came back to the catholic faith.”
For many years, he was a member of the Eastern Orthodox church. “I was an eastern orthodox seminarian and studied at the Russian orthodox seminary of St Vladimir’s in New York. Through the discovery of this monastery I came back to the faith of my baptism and just became enchanted with the Benedictine life – and that is how I came to join,” he explained.
See rest here:  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Prayers and Help Needed for Silverstream Priory

It seems our favorite Irish monks are in need of some prayers and charity.

From Father Z:

From a reader:
Fr Mark Kirby, of Vultus Christi blog, who with a small community is trying to save and revive Silverstream Priory, is in hospital. Would you pray for him? Would you ask readers to pray for him? And give him the material support he needs to keep warm and fed, along with his flock of five.
The thing is, Fr Mark needs to be encouraged, forced even, to ask for material help. He endured two winters in his fledgling monastery with no heating system. Now he has a heating system, could we support him to put fuel in the boiler? Warm soups on the table? I do not exaggerate his material needs. The conditions he lives in are improving but truly shocking.
Fr Mark recently had the joy of seeing one of his little community ordained to the priesthood. He has novices and postulants. He is a holy man and has many apostolates in keeping with his habit. But he needs to be able to turn on the heat and eat warm food!
On Monday, Father Kirby reported on the Silverstream Priory that he was doing better:

Dear friends, I was released from hospital late on Friday and was able to return home to the monastery the same evening. I am profoundly grateful for the messages of loving support and the assurance of prayers that flowed in from all sides. Many of you sent donations: a tangible sign of the unfailing Providence of God. Heartfelt thanks to all of you. “And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me » (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Read more about the Silverstream Priory in a wonderful Regina Magazine article :  

St Benedict’s Sons in Ireland

Sunday, November 23, 2014

4 Things to Remember & Cardinal Burke

Four things for all of us (Popes, Bishops, Priests, folks in the pews, and folks who should be in the pews) to always remember before reading this great article on Cardinal Burke:

1)  Christ was unpopular.  He was crucified.  The New York Times, MSNBC, Time Magazine, and 60 Minutes would have hated and sought to destroy  Jesus Christ had they been around at the time of Christ's crucifixion.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.   If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

2)  St. Augustine:   'Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.'

3)  Christ forgave the adultress, but then told her: Go and sin no more.

4)  Our Lady of Fatima:  More souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.

Cardinal Burke: Church teaching on sexuality must be clarified, and only Pope Francis can do it

In an interview with Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTE, one of the Catholic hierarchy’s most outspoken defenders of life and family and the Church’s sexual moral teachings again indicated Pope Francis needs to “clarify” that divorced and remarried Catholics, and active homosexuals, cannot be admitted to the sacraments.
As he did during the course of the contentious Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome last month, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke told RTE in a video interview, “I believe very strongly that – I’m not the pope, and I’m not in the business of telling him what to do – but in my judgment this needs to be clarified, and there’s only one person who can clarify it at this point.”
The possibility of the Church in any way accepting sexual immorality, whether in the form of divorce, “second marriages” or homosexual acts, he said, must be taken “off the table” for next year’s Synod in a definitive way that only the pope can accomplish.
The cardinal denied that this was an instance of “defying” the pope’s authority, saying that Pope Francis would agree that Church teaching is immutable. But he added that he cannot see how the Church’s teaching is being clarified by the Synod process of protracted discussion and debate. He said that he has heard from lay people that “there’s really just a growing confusion about what the Church really teaches, and we’re not coming to any clarity.
“And the impression now is given that this will now go out to the dioceses and they will express their opinions and the bishops will come and vote on this. But that isn’t the way Church doctrine is formulated. And that’s not the way Church discipline is formulated. The Church is not a democracy,” Burke said.
It is “not helpful that people have this idea now that we’re going to have this broad discussion” on these issues that will be brought to the next session of the Synod in 2015, and put them to a vote, “and somehow this will be the direction.”
“In the end, the Holy Father is the only one who can set the direction, and he will have to pronounce on the matter.”  

Read rest here:  

Cardinal Burke: Church teaching on sexuality must be clarified, and only Pope Francis can do it

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Can These Men Save Western Civilization?

We need more men like this.  (And more Cardinal Burkes.)  Do not lose hope.  Stay close to the Lord.  And support those who are doing good.  The article below concerning the Silverstream Priory is a how to guide on how to Save Western Civilization.  

To support the Silverstream Priory click below:

From the invaluable New Liturgical Movement:

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, prior of Silverstream Priory, recently gave NLM some Q & A that might might be of interest to our readers here. I'd encourage you to read below about their community.

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, prior of Silverstream
Father Prior, could you briefly describe for us the origins of your community?

The seed of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, now known as Silverstream Priory, was planted in my heart during the Year of the Eucharist (2004-2005).  Profoundly moved by Bl. John Paul II's apostolic letter Mane nobiscum Domine, I resolved to live the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist with a special intensity and to preach that mystery (insofar as possible) every day during that year.

The death of Bl. John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI coincided with a trial affecting my health.  That trial turned out to be (in effect) a grace, because it obliged me to enter more deeply into the designs of God upon my life, as a monk and a priest.

Providentially, I was able to spend the Feast of Corpus Christi 2005 in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  I understood then that Our Lord was calling me to a "vocation within a vocation": not only to the pursuit of the traditional Benedictine life, to which I had made profession as a monk of the Order of Cîteaux many years before, but also to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in a spirit of reparation and intercession for the sanctification of priests.

A series of opportunities (orchestrated, I think, by the Holy Ghost) led me to begin very humbly living this "vocation within a vocation", in the company of a few good men, under the protection of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa.

An indult from the Holy See dispensed me from my obligations to the abbey of my profession, and freed me to renew my vows, under the Rule of St Benedict, into the hands of Bishop Slattery in view of a new monastery dedicated to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

How did it come about that your community moved from Tulsa to Ireland? 

Another series of providential circumstances led our embryonic community from Tulsa to County Meath in Ireland, where we found a property and buildings suitable to our particular expression of Benedictine life.  Although we had looked long and hard for suitable property within the Diocese of Tulsa, we found nothing corresponding to our needs and to our limited means.

It was while speaking at an international conference on Eucharistic Adoration (Adoratio 2011) in Rome, that I encountered several Irish priests, seminarians, and layfolk who suggested that what could not be found in Tulsa might be readily available in Ireland.

This invitation to consider Ireland touched me deeply, because for several years I had felt a growing desire to respond to the needs of the Church in Ireland with a humble love, principally by prayer, never thinking that I would be led to implant a new monastery there.

How did you find the property of Silverstream in County Meath? 

In our search for a suitable property, we made a novena to St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and also prayed confidently to Blessed Columba Marmion.  To my astonishment, upon arriving at Silverstream, I discovered in the sacristy hanging above the vesting cabinet, a framed document in Latin attesting to the dedication of the little church and its altar to St Thérèse!  The dedication of the little priory church to St Thérèse took place during the tenancy of the Brothers of St John of God, previous owners of Silverstream.

On October 19, 2011, I met with His Lordship, the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, and laid our monastic project before him.  His Lordship graciously and magnanimously welcomed us to the Diocese of Meath.  And so, upon His Lordship of Meath's invitation, and with the fatherly blessing of Bishop Slattery, Dom Benedict Andersen and I set out for the Isle of Saints and Scholars.

Silverstream House, built 1843
Tell us a bit more about your "vocation within a vocation" as you described it? 

Essentially, our goal is to implant traditional Benedictine life at Silverstream.  This means a close adhesion to the letter and spirit of the Rule, and a commitment to the traditional forms of the sacred Liturgy, celebrated worthily, in Latin and Gregorian chant.  Like all Benedictine monks, we open the sacred Scriptures daily, in lectio divina, to discover there, shining through every page, as if through the "lattice-work" of the text (Cant. 2:10), the adorable Face of Christ.

Our "vocation within a vocation" flows from the discovery of the Face of Christ that illumines the sacred Scriptures.  Just as the disciples, on the road to Emmaus, passed from the opening of the Scriptures to the recognition of the Risen Christ in the Breaking of the Bread, so too do we pass continuously from the hearing and chanting of the Word, notably in the choral celebration of the Divine Office, to the contemplation and adoration of the Face of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

This particular focus on the radiant Countenance of Jesus, both revealed and concealed in the Eucharist, is rooted in the expression coined Blessed John Paul II in the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, wherein he enjoined the faithful to tarry before the "Eucharistic Face of Christ."

At Silverstream Priory, we do this in relationship to the Liturgy, source and summit of the adoration that flows out of the Mass and returns to it.  And we do it specifically for the sake of those men whom our Lord called "not servants, but friends" (John 15:15), his priests, and in particular for those priests who, for one reason or another, are unable or unwilling to linger in the company of Our Lord in the Sacrament of his Divine Friendship.

People don't usually associate Benedictines with the cultus of the Most Holy Eucharist outside of Mass.  What are the sources or precedents for this way of life? 

The fountain-head of all monastic life is, of course, the Gospels and all of sacred Scripture.  And I think we would have a predilection for the Fourth Gospel, which according to tradition, John drew out of the Heart of Jesus at the Last Supper in the Cenacle.

After Scripture, we would, like all Benedictines, refer to the Fathers of the Desert, and to the ancient monastic traditions of East and West.  One cannot lay claim to a Benedictine identity without loving the Fathers of the Church, and drinking deeply of the living water they transmit to every generation.

At Silverstream Priory, we also take to heart the teaching of a seventeenth-century Benedictine reformer and mystic, Catherine Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698). Mother Mectilde is, to the Benedictine Order, what St Teresa of Avila, la Madre, is to the Order of Carmel.  Mother Mectilde deserves to be better known.  She has, I think, all the makings of a Doctor of the Church!  Closely associated with the Benedictine monks of the Congregation of St Maur (Maurists), she gave expression to a charism of Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation that revitalized Benedictine life in the seventeenth century, and that continues to do so.

Abbot Celestino Maria Colombo OSB (1874-1935) believed passionately in the Mectildian charism, and hoped to see it flourish among monks of the Order.  At Silverstream Priory we are, in some way, carrying out Abbot Colombo's dream.

Belltower of the monastery Church of St Thérèse
Could you describe for us your horarium and liturgical life, and how Eucharistic Adoration fits into it? 

Our horarium does not differ essentially from the horarium of any other traditional Benedictine monastery.  We pray the entire Psalter, 150 Psalms, in a single week, thereby respecting the injunction of St Benedict in the Holy Rule.  We rise at 4:35 am to be in choir for Matins at 5 am.  Following Matins, there is ample time for lectio divina.  At 8 am, we return to choir for Lauds.

After Prime there is the daily chapter. We listen to the portion of the Holy Rule appointed for the day, and I give a brief commentary on it. The daily chapter is of capital importance.  It is the transmission of the living tradition by which the brethren, and men aspiring to the monastic life, are encouraged and stimulated to become, according to an expression one of the Desert Fathers, "all fire".

A monastery in which the flame of fervent love burns low quickly becomes a dark and cold place.  I see the Abbot, or conventual Prior, of a monastery as being, before all else, the keeper and guardian of the flame, charged with transmitting the living fire from one generation to the next.  Thus do monks become, in the Church, "friends of the Bridegroom", like St John the Baptist whom Our Lord described as ardens ac lucens, a man burning and giving light (John 5:35).
Conventual Mass at Silverstream Priory

What happens after Chapter? 

After chapter, there is a period of work.  We perform a great variety of tasks here: hospitality, spiritual direction for priests, running a bookstore, desktop publishing, gardening, maintenance, and renovations of the buildings we currently occupy.

Then, at 9:45 am, we sing Terce, the Hour traditionally associated with the descent of the Holy Ghost, and objectively the most perfect immediate preparation for Holy Mass.  Even though we are few in number, we sing the Mass, using the Graduale Romanum, nearly every day.

Sung Mass, in the Usus Antiquior, is for many Irish Catholics something of a discovery.  Young people, particularly, have expressed joy and gratitude at the first experience of what was for them a treasure hidden in the field, a pearl of great price.

Shortly after midday, we have the Office of Sext and go to the refectory for dinner.  Following St Benedict's injunction, we have reading at both dinner and supper, principally biographies which provide intellectual stimulation, spiritual nourishment, and sometimes comic relief.

After a siesta in the afternoon, we have the Office of None, then another work period, and Vespers at 5 pm.  Supper is a light collation, and Compline follows. With one last filial homage to the Mother of God, we enter the great silence until the following day after Prime.
Conventual Mass at Silverstream Priory

As Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, do you have any distinctive practices? 

We keep every Thursday as a kind of weekly Corpus Christi, giving greater solemnity to the Mass and having solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and Adoration all day.

On other days, given our small number, a few hours in the afternoon, between None and Vespers, are dedicated to Adoration.  The length of time given to Adoration will increase as the community grows until all the hours of the day and night are covered.  I often say to Our Lord, "Multiply us, give Thyself adorers, and provide for us!"

Every day after Mass, one of us, kneeling at a column in the middle of the choir, recites an Act of Reparation by which we seek to make up for the coldness, indifference, irreverence, and sacrileges that grieve the Heart of Our Lord in the Sacrament of Love.

You mentioned that a major part of your charism is hospitality and the spiritual care of priests.  Can you tell us more about that? 

When we came to the Diocese of Meath, Bishop Smith shared with us his own long-standing desire for a place where his priests could find spiritual refreshment and give themselves over to prayer.  Our arrival in his Diocese, by God's Providence, fulfilled that desire of his.

Priests labouring in the vineyard have always been drawn to the silence of the cloister, as to a safe harbour in which their friendship with Jesus Christ can be experienced more intimately or rekindled.  We are happy to offer priests a place of silence, natural beauty, and liturgical prayer, all in the radiance of the Lord's Eucharistic Face.  The priests who have spent time with us thus far have told us they have benefited greatly from their experience.
Monastic recreation

How many members are there in your community at present?  

Currently we are four. There are two professed monks, myself, and Dom Benedict Andersen, who came with me from Tulsa.  Dom Benedict, by the way, when he pronounced his vows last September, was the first Benedictine monk to be professed in the Diocese of Meath since the dissolution of the Abbey of Fore by the commissioners of Henry VIII in 1539!  Then we have two men in formation, as well as a number of others in the early stages of inquiry with us.

Are you currently welcoming vocational inquiries? 

Yes, indeed.  I've learned from experience that the most promising candidates are between 21 and 30 years of age, and (if I may use the expression) untainted by a previous experience of religious life.  In a new foundation it is important that men arrive with a certain freshness of vision, without preconceived notions of what the life "ought" to be, and above all with a capacity to be flexible.  I encourage men interested in our life to read the great Benedictine classic, Christ the Ideal of the Monk by Ireland’s most famous Benedictine, Blessed Columba Marmion.

What are you looking for in candidates? 

We are looking for men willing to be formed in a truly Benedictine way.  That means a number of things.  First of all, humility: the frank admission that one comes to the monastery as a learner to submit to a doctrine of life; obedience, a readiness to listen and to be changed by what one hears.

Then, our monks must have zeal for the Sacred Liturgy and love of the Word of God, particularly the Psalms, and the desire to adore Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love, and to make reparation for coldness, irreverence, and indifference towards the Most Holy Eucharist.

As mentioned before, they must have reverence for the Fathers of the Church and the great monastic teachers of East and West. Sympathy for the traditions of the Christian East (for what is the Rule but an adaptation of Eastern monasticism for Western monks?).

Above all else, a candidate must have a certain passion to seek God, and a firm resolve never to despair of his mercy.  Of course, no man will have developed all these qualities when he seeks admission.  The monastery is school of the Lord's service, not an academy of experts; it is a hospital for sinners, not a stadium for athletes of asceticism.
Postulants at recreation

What are the stages of formation a man would pass through to become a monk? 

After some initial exchange of correspondence, a man may be invited to visit the monastery.  Several short visits are the ideal, but given that men may come from great distances, a single longer visit may be the best practical option.  If we see in a man elements of a vocation to Silverstream Priory, I will invite him to spend a month observing our life while we observe him.  If the indications are favourable, the candidate may complete an application and request to begin the postulancy.

The postulancy may be as short as three months and as long as nine.  Men arrive at monastic life from different backgrounds; some would not even be familiar with the Catechism, while others may have an adequate understanding of the Faith through personal reading, or through a course of theological studies.  At the end of the postulancy, a man may petition to receive the novice's habit, and enter into the year and a half of the novitiate.

At this point, I help a man discern whether he is called to be a choir monk, or a converse monk (conversus monachus, sometimes called a "lay brother").  The converse monk seeks God in a life marked by manual labour, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a limited participation in the choral Office.

Monastic formation in the novitiate begins, of course, with the Gospels and the Psalms.  The young brother will also become familiar with the Rule of St Benedict and our monastic forefathers in East and West; he will acquire a working knowledge of Holy Mass and the Divine Office; and he will read the works of Blessed Columba Marmion.

At the end of this time, he may request to be admitted to temporary profession for three years.  At the end of his triennial vows, the junior monk may ask to make perpetual profession and receive the monastic consecration.
Holy Mass at Silverstream

What about monastic priesthood? 

The Prior can call a perpetually professed choir monk to studies in preparation for Holy Orders.  The monastic priesthood, as we live it at Silverstream, does not involve pastoral ministry.  It is, rather, a sacramental configuration to Christ, Priest and Victim, in his oblation to the Father; and this, in the context of a hidden life, marked by silence and in effective separation from the world.

You mentioned Oblates earlier.  Could you tell us something about your community of Oblates?

Oblates are layfolk, men and women, or diocesan clergy, who offer themselves to God in the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict.  We consider our Oblates members of the extended monastic family.  We have, at the present, about two dozen Oblates living in North America and Europe, including a priest and a permanent deacon.  Geographical proximity to the monastery is not a requirement of the Oblateship.

Are you engaged in any specific work at the moment, or do you have any specific work in view for the future?

Responsible stewardship of the land is a primary monastic work.  We are blessed with meadows, forest, and a stream.  There are plans for a small orchard and herb gardens. Dom Benedict has a professional background in book design.  I have done a fair amount of writing.  We are planning to set up a small monastic publishing house.  The bookshop and guesthouse already require a significant investment of time and labour.
Initial iconography proposal for the east wall of the monastic church

Finally, what can you tell us about the current status of your renovation projects and your current needs? 

I have to raise funds for the purchase of the Silverstream Property.  The purchase will be effected in two phases: first, the core of the property, that is the present buildings on 15 acres, and second, the remaining 160 acres, which are indispensable for the preservation of silence and separation from the world.

At the moment we are engaged in the renovation of the guesthouse; there will be 6 en-suite guestrooms, a small oratory (dedicated to the Holy Angels), a library, a conference hall, and a kitchen and dining area.  We also have a beautiful hermitage (dedicated to the Holy Souls) which we would like to "do up" (as the Irish say) for those who would desire a more secluded retreat.

It is urgent that we begin and complete the renovation of the existing priory church; it was built in 1952.  We have had to gut the interior; it needs a new roof, heating, insulation and, of course, furnishings.

Please God, eventually, we will be able to adorn the church with iconography suitable for the House of God; we have a beautiful plan which has been drawn up by the English iconographer Aidan Hart, who is proficient not only in the Byzantine style but also in early Christian and Romanesque styles.

Finally, we foresee twelve monastic cells in the main building.  The kitchen is in desperate condition.  It needs to be totally renovated and a flooding problem there must be corrected as soon as possible.

Father Prior, thank you for taking time out of your busy monastic day to answer these questions.  There is one last question.  How can people help Silverstream Priory? 

First of all, pray for us. Second, make our specific vocation known to men who may be drawn to it.  Third, contribute something according to your means.  You can find information on how to donate on our website, and you can contact us here.  The foundation of Silverstream Priory is an ongoing act of faith in Divine Providence.  Divine Providence makes use of human instruments.  We pray for our benefactors every day.