As the deer longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for you, my God. (Psalm 42:1)
Using the image of the parched deer, the sacred author of Psalm 42 illustrated the soul’s longing for the true God, a longing that has grown keener than ever in our current age. All too often, modern men and women erect Towers of Babel and fashion golden calves to replace true worship of the Creator, hoping to quench their thirst and to soothe their often self-inflicted suffering.
Among the most devastating modern blows to the Church has been a loss of the sacred—most especially the loss of a fundamental understanding of the Eucharist, God with us. In response, the Catholic Church in the United States has initiated the Eucharistic Revival, a three-year project to revitalize awareness and love of the Eucharist.
In 2022, Bishop Andrew Cozzens articulated the mission of the Eucharistic Revival:
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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We want to see a movement of Catholics across the United States that are healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and then sent out on mission for the life of the world.
While this movement has been gaining interest and momentum in the United States, a small group of traditional Benedictine monks in Ireland have been nurturing a Eucharistic Revival across the Atlantic and have been doing so since their founding in 2012. This summer, with some close friends, I visited these monks at Silverstream Priory.
The monks of Silverstream Priory are traditional Benedictines who have a special charism of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The monks pray and work in an old Irish manor, which was converted into the priory. Nestled quietly in the Irish countryside, they have their own chickens, pigs, vegetable garden, apple orchard, and berry patch. And, of course, a silver stream quietly runs in front of the priory.
There are currently sixteen monks at the priory, ten of whom are American. It is interesting to see Americans going to Ireland, as many Irish religious and priests once helped to form the Catholic character of the United States.
While working with their hands, the monks keep the Divine Office in its traditional form and pray the Traditional Latin Mass. They rise at 4:20 a.m. and begin praying Matins at 4:40 a.m. Following the traditional Benedictine rule, their day is interwoven with prayer and work until their day ends with Compline and the Great Silence around 9 p.m. The monks at Silverstream, however, are particularly dedicated to the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in a spirit of reparation, particularly for priests.
One of the monks elaborated on some of the reasons why they make reparation in particular for priests. He explained that priests are busy and their lives are filled with the duties of parish life. Consequently, the monks can stand in the priest’s place and intercede for him. In addition, through their prayerful lives, they make reparation for priestly scandals.
On a typical day, the monks celebrate Terce and Mass at 9 a.m. and then immediately begin Eucharistic Adoration. The altar and the choir where the monks pray is separated from the laity by a rood screen. Behind the rood screen is a small wooden pillar, surmounted with a candle, with a rope draped over it. As Adoration begins, one of the monks unties the rope from the pillar, drapes it around his shoulders, and prays an act of reparation on behalf of all the monks.
This small tradition that they practice, which I had never encountered before, comes from their spiritual foundress, Mother Mectilde of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1653, Mother Mectilde established in France a special order of Benedictines: the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration. She desired a group of virgins who would adore Jesus ceaselessly in the Most Blessed Sacrament. However, those nuns and their spiritual descendants are not just adorers of Christ’s Eucharistic Face; they are also victims, as explained in a biography of Mother Mectilde:
The nun of the Blessed Sacrament is offered like a victim to the One who was on the Cross, who is in the Mass, and who remains, in the Host, the victim of sinners and sacrileges.
For Mother Mectilde—and for the monks of Silverstream—adoration is an act of praise. Adoration in a spirit of reparation draws the adorer into Christ’s identification with the sinner. These ideas are illuminated in the tradition of the rope and the pillar, which is an image that connects to Christ’s scourging at the pillar. The rope takes on a redemptive aspect in adoration. Just as Christ offered Himself up on the Cross, the monks offer themselves up on the Church’s behalf.
The Eucharistic Revival in the United States and the monks of Silverstream Priory in Ireland encourage us to be present and to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration both deepens our faith and makes reparation for sacrileges committed against the Blessed Sacrament. We folks in the laity can join in the work of the Eucharistic Revival and the Silverstream monks by also being present and praying before the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharistic Revival in the United States and the monks of Silverstream Priory in Ireland encourage us to be present and to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.Tweet This
While the vocation of the monks is unique, we can make a holy hour or visit tabernacles at any time of the day not only to praise God but to do so in a spirit of reparation for the Church. As lay persons, we can participate in the Eucharistic Revival by offering ourselves as victims, like the monks, to repair for the sacrileges and abuses our Lord suffers.
Adoration is indispensable for the Church of our time and for the souls of the many people who have been swept away in the excitement of the golden calf or the worldly sophistication of the Tower of Babel. There are satanic masses in the United States, and there are modern Druids and covens of witches in Ireland. The Church has suffered greatly, and it is easy to become parched in the world.
But together with the small group of traditional monks in Ireland who offer themselves up as victims in reparation, we can help lead our fellow Christians back to the safe harbor of the Church and Our Lord’s Eucharistic presence. If you ever find yourself in Ireland and are thirsting for Christ, you can find living water at Silverstream Priory.