"Whoever wishes to come after me must take up his cross daily and follow me."
Following Christ calls for a daily conversion to Him, a daily dying to self in order to live with and for Him. This daily death can only be sustained by a generous spirit of asceticism. Our Constitutions call us individually and as a community to make our whole life a sacrifice of praise. This joyful following of Christ marks both our interior and exterior as from morning until night we lovingly fulfill all that obedience requires.
One notable expression of individual and communal asceticism is the practice of silence. Silence has been seen as a necessary foundation of the spiritual life from the earliest times. The first monastics valued silence greatly, not as an end to be sought for its own sake, but as a means. It is a means of coming to know one's self better, of letting go of our unnecessary attachments, and of coming to an openness to God. In true silence, both interior and exterior, one is able to confront weaknesses and faults which are so easily masked by noise and haste.
Most importantly, silence provides a space for an encounter with our loving God. As Elijah experienced in the desert, God does not speak to us in tumult and noise, but in the stillness. If the body is noisily bustling, if the soul is busy chattering to itself, there is no space for God to speak. In silence we can come to an awareness of God's presence leading to a recollected repose in God. We pray that Mary, Mother and Model of Religious, will give us a share of her own silence that we may ever be recollected in the presence of God.
May our Lord, the Divine Teacher, instruct the hearts of these His children, that by increasing in knowledge of Him they may also grow in love of Christ and of His holy Church.
To Our Sorrowful Mother
Remember, O Virgin Mary, the sword of sorrow that pierced your heart with the prophecy of Simeon who foretold to you the death of Jesus; pierce our hearts with the sword of contrition.
Remember, O Virgin Mary, the sorrow you felt when obliged to flee into Egypt; bring us, your exiled children, back from the darkness to the light, and lead us to the splendors of our eternal home.
Remember, O Virgin Mary, your sorrow when you sought Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple; grant that we may thirst for Christ, that we may seek Him always and everywhere, and that our search may be crowned with success.
Remember, O Virgin Mary, the sorrow you felt when Jesus was seized and bound, then scourged and crowned with thorns; heed your children's cries and break the bonds of our sins.
Remember, O Virgin Mary, your sorrow when Jesus was raised on the cross and, amid unspeakable spasms, gave up His spirit to the Father; grant that we, too, may benefit from the sacrifice of the cross
Remember, O Virgin Mary, your sorrow when the sacred body of Jesus was placed in your arms with sentiments of profound devotion; embrace us, too, O Mother, so that we may enjoy your love.
Remember your sorrow, O Virgin Mary, when Jesus was wrapped in a sheet and laid in the sepulchre; cleanse our souls with His Most Precious Blood, and at the end of our lives fill us with deep compunction, so that the gates of Heaven may be opened to us. Amen.
From a Medieval Canticle
We adore Thee, O Christ,
And we praise Thee...
... Because by Thy Holy Cross
Thou hast redeemed the world!
If she assists you, you will never stumble. If she protects you, then never fear. If she guides you, you will never tire: if she befriends you, the attainment of the goal is assured. Make it, then, a personal experience of how rightly the evangelist wrote: The Virgin's name was Mary. ~ St. Bernard on the Most Holy Name of Mary
May the Most Holy Name of Mary
be ever in my heart and on my lips!
Image from Holy Cards for Your Inspiration
Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew,
Of my Savior crucified.
"O sorrowful Virgin, unite me at least to the ignominies and wounds of your Son, so that both He and you may find comfort in having someone sharing your sufferings. Oh, how happy I would be if I could do this! For is there perhaps anything greater, sweeter or more advantageous for man? Why do you not grant me what I ask? If I have offended you, be just and pierce my heart. If I have been faithful to you, leave me not without a reward: give me your sorrows."
~ St. Bonaventure