Our community first began under the aegis of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in 1995, in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. We were originally called the Oblates of Mary, Queen of Apostles for a two-fold reason. First, to indicate the offering of ourselves to the Benedictine family (Oblatae is Latin for “offered”). And secondly, because we had consecrated ourselves to Our Lady, and offered ourselves to her service. We began following a monastic horarium as laid out by St. Benedict in his Rule, chanting the traditional Divine Office in Latin as prescribed.
In March 2006, we accepted the invitation of Bishop Robert W. Finn to transfer to his diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri. We were established as a Public Association of the Faithful with the new name, “Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles”. By the grace of God and through the fatherly solicitude of Bishop Finn, we were raised to the status of Religious Institute of Diocesan Right on November 25, 2014.
It was at the foot of the cross that the Lord entrusted St. John and Our Lady to each other with the words “Son, behold thy Mother” … “Mother, behold thy Son.” (Jn. 19:26-27) John, the first priest to offer the Sacred Body of the Lord, and representing all priests, was to be spiritually supported by His Mother. Mary was to be materially supported by John, “who took her unto his own.” We know that the Lord left her behind on earth for a reason: to nurture the infant Church by her prayer and example, to be a presence and support for the Apostles amidst their untiring labors.
According to tradition, the Apostles disbanded after the martyrdom of St. James in Jerusalem. St. John went on to found the “seven Churches of Asia” mentioned in the Apocalypse, and made a home in Ephesus where his new Mother might dwell. This is confirmed by the fact that at the time of the Council of Ephesus, churches were named after saints who had lived or died in the locale. Hence there still stands in Ephesus the ruined basilicas of Holy Mary and St. John.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a mystic of the 19th Century, received detailed visions of Our Lady’s final years and assumption, which were dictated to the German poet, Clemens von Brentano. The writings were taken in hand many years later by skeptical Lazarist Fathers stationed in Turkey at the close of the nineteenth century. Sister of Charity Marie Mandat de Grancy challenged the men to go look for Our Lady’s house on Bubul Dagh as described by the visionary. This they did, and found the ruins of a monastery of women at the foot of a deteriorating little house, tucked in the secluded mountainside exactly as described by Emmerich. The local Turks had long held that this was indeed Our Lady’s house, where she spent her final earthly days. Bishop Roncalli (later John XXIII) visited, as did Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
This little home is the very inspiration for our own house of prayer, the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus. Its very obscurity remains an inspiration to us. It is that little house that served as a powerhouse of prayer to the infant Church. Though little is written of it, we do know that St. Paul wrote in the final lines of his first Epistle to the Corinthians that he would “tarry at Ephesus,” which he did for two years. His stay occurred at a decisive moment in the formative years of the Church. When he wrote his Epistle to the Ephesians, he addressed them as the “fellow citizens of the saints of God,” (Eph. 2:19) and that, in all probability, he visited the Mother of God to receive encouragement and strength as he went out again, on fire to spread the Word of God. Most scripture scholars agree that St. Luke, also venerated at Ephesus, must have received the Infancy narratives first-hand from Our Lady. Since the Evangelist was baptized by Paul, after the Apostles had fled Jerusalem, it must be deduced that he also sought her out at Ephesus, perhaps en route to his See at Antioch. Independent of the “eyewitness account theory,” many other Scripture scholars have projected the Gospel’s authorship as having been undertaken within the ancient city.
Having received our call to emulate Our Lady in her final, hidden years, we offer our lives in prayer and sacrifice for priests. These are the new apostles of the Church who bear her truth to the world. We anticipate the coming of the Lord as Our Lady anticipated her Assumption, singing the psalms as she did, until we are admitted into the life of endless praise that is to come. In the meantime, we extend customary Benedictine hospitality most especially to priests, our spiritual sons, and strive to offer them the spiritual refurbishment so often denied them in their zealous work. We hope to see them return to the vineyard with renewed ardor to win souls. We have left all to be one with Christ, our Spouse, and we repeat what He Himself said of His newly ordained: “And now I am not in the world and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou hast given me; that they may be one as we also are.” (Jn. 17:11)
Purus gravida quis blandit turpis cursus in hac habitasse platea. Diam vulputate ut pharetra sit amet aliquam id diam maecenas. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. Cras ornare arcu dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Consequat id porta nibh venenatis cras sed. Eget mi proin sed libero enim sed faucibus turpis. Penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes nascetur ridiculus mus. Enim nec dui nunc mattis enim ut tellus. Cursus euismod quis viverra nibh cras pulvinar mattis nunc. Volutpat ac tincidunt vitae semper quis lectus nulla.
The obedience of the monk enlightened by faith is to spring from the love that he bears to Christ as the model and mainspring of his submission. There is not after all any motive more essential and fundamental, more effectual also, for making us perfectly obedient than this ambition to imitate Christ Jesus our ideal. Why have we left all things, renounced all things, even our own will except to follow Him more closely. —Blessed Columba Marmion
The original Latin root for obedience is obaudire. It can be translated as standing by, ready to listen.
This is the approach one must assume in a spirit of loving generosity, and in imitation of Christ who became “obedient unto death.”
Obedience takes humility, a surrendering of one’s own desire for the desires of God at every moment. “Only those hearts inspired by an intense faith, hearts humble, steadfast and generous are capable of it.” (Abbot Marmion)
The Benedictine of Mary strives first and foremost to be obedient to the Church, faithful to the Church’s magisterial teaching and the living authority of the Church in her hierarchy. She vows obedience for life to the Holy Rule, and to its living authority in the Abbess and her successors.
Conversion of Life
To leave the world and to give up exterior possessions is perhaps something still easy; but for a man to give up himself, to immolate what is most precious to him by surrendering his entire liberty is much more arduous work: to forsake what one has is a small thing, to forsake what one is, that is the supreme gift. —St. Gregory
Within this vow is what the ancient desert Fathers call the “active life,” or the ascetical life: the arduous combat against vices and cultivation of virtues. It is a life-long battle.
Every Benedictine of Mary vows to detach herself from the ways of the world, continually turning to the ways of her Redeemer; “not changing nature, but perfecting the will” (St. John Chrysostom), according to God’s grace and pleasure.
Perfect observance of poverty and chastity is encompassed by the vow of conversion of life, but it demands a great deal more. St. Benedict’s original word for the vow was conversatio, literally a continual turning to the Lord. It is a turning from “the old man,” as St. Paul called our self-will, a turning from everything that is not God with a joyful and generous heart. Following this commitment, one hopes to imitate our Father, St. Benedict, who left the world “to please God alone.” (Dialogues of St. Gregory)
One thing I ask, this do I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. —Psalm 26:4
By the distinctive Benedictine vow of stability, St. Benedict recognized the humble truth that “home is where the heart is.” The heart singly and solely dedicated to God will not wander from where she has been called to pursue Him.
Each sister is bound to stability: perseverance in striving for the heavenly goal within her particular monastery. St. Benedict chose the “most natural framework, in the family” (Dom Delatte) as an ideal atmosphere.
A child is brought up in the home where she will live. So too, the novice is brought up within the family she has chosen, or more properly, the family which God has lovingly chosen for her, from all eternity.
The Benedictine of Mary remains and perseveres with her new family. She seeks no other. The pursuit of eternity is carried out within this context, each sister being bound to it in charity.
A soul rooted in stability will not seek escape, moderation, or even another place where she judges there is a better form of life. She will devote herself to the task at hand in the place where God has led her. Even if obedience may send a sister beyond the geographical bounds of the monastery, she promises faithfully to observe the law of God in the monastic institute by her vows until death.
What is here the dowry of the Bride? It is her miseries, her weakness, but likewise her heart to love and her lips with which to praise … in the name of Christ and with Him, she offers the adoration and praise of all her children to the Father. This praise is the voice of the Bride, the voice that delights the Bridegroom. It is the canticles sung by the Church in company with Christ, and that is why, when we join in it in faith and confidence, it is so pleasing to Christ Jesus. In God’s sight it surpasses in value all our private prayers.
—Blessed Columba Marmion
The Mass is the center of our spirituality and the mystical focal point of the day.
We are privileged to daily partake of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962) in accord with Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum, the liturgy which the Church has jealously guarded for centuries. Bound up inextricably within this ancient liturgy, is a great reverence for the sacredness of the holy priesthood, which is at the heart of our charism. The fitting worship rendered to Almighty God in the Holy Sacrifice spills over into the chanting of the Divine Office.
The Benedictine stands in a particular way as a figure of the Church, the Bride of Christ. She can do so no more fully than when she daily chants the Divine Office, the official prayer of the Church.
And so we gather for the principal “work of God” as St. Benedict calls it, eight times a day. The entire 150 psalms with their hymns are chanted throughout the week as originally prescribed by the Rule.
For this end also, we use the 1962 Monastic Office, with its traditional Gregorian Chant, in Latin, the official language of the Church, and continue the rich legacy of our predecessors.
Since the monastery is the “vestibule of heaven,” we anticipate the life of praise to come through the Divine Office. The verses of the psalms are sung antiphonally, (back and forth from one side of the oratory to the other) to imitate the choirs of angels in heaven, in their incessant praise.
We “sing our lives and live our song,” as Mere Genevieve Gallois wrote, so the Divine Office, in turn, spills over into a spirit of recollected prayer throughout the day, nourished also by silence, solitude and Lectio Divina.
A means of restoring our innocence, labor-plant.pngmanual labor is essential for combating vice and cultivating virtue “so that by the labor of obedience you might return to Him from Whom by the sloth of disobedience you fell.” (Prologue of the Holy Rule)
Appointed hours of work are for the shared responsibilities of domestic chores (cleaning, cooking, gardening, farm work, etc.) carried out in a spirit of silence, so as to foster union with God in prayer.
The labor of our hands—other than the aforesaid work for the upkeep of the Abbey—is devoted to the service of Our Lord in His priest as he carries out his three-fold mission of governing, instructing and sanctifying souls. It is our great privilege to serve Our Lord in this way by making vestments, albs, surplices, and altar linens for the glory of the altar and the sublime Sacrifice of the Mass.