Prayers for a Norbertine vocation

Discussion in 'Prayer requests' started by BrianK, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    Thank you.
    It took colossal effort NOT to do so myself, but we had a cable repair man here and I didn't want to have to explain why I was blubbering like an idiot ;-)
    gracia, AED, Praetorian and 2 others like this.
  2. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    How to Pray the Chotki
    It is a very ancient form of prayer that predates the rosary dating back to at least the 4th century. Monks of old said the prayer all day long in this manner…

    “Lord, make haste to help me. Lord make speed to save me.”

    The prayer rope, (Chotki/ Komboskini), consists of 25, 33, 50, 100 or 103 beads or knots and is used to focus one’s thoughts on the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart”. It said to have been inspired by the words of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, ‘Pray without ceasing.”

    The Legend
    A very very long time ago there was a monk that was amongst the first to wander into the desert to spread the word of the Lord. This monk came up with the idea to use a rope to count his prayers. For every prayer he recited he made a knot.

    Everything was just fine until one day during his prayer he got a vision of the Devil, which threw the monk out of concentration. The monk was surprised to see that the knots he made were mysteriously untied. The monk tried to pray again, but every time he got the same vision with the same result. But the brave monk was not to give up so easily. He kept on trying, but every passing day it got worse, the poor monk got very exhausted and it seemed the Devil would have his victory.

    [​IMG]Thankfully Archangel Gabriel came to the rescue. Gabriel appeared in the monks dreams and showed him how to tie a special knot that vanquishes the Devil. The very next day the monk started to pray and to tie the special knot that consist of 7 small interlocking crosses (the knots that compose the chotki). The Devil appeared again, but when he tried to untie the knots the special bond of the knots repelled him back to hell. This brave humble monk stood his ground and kept on going even in his darkest hours. Ultimately claiming victory over evil. Who was this legendary monk. He was Saint Pachomius the Great.

    The Chotki is a very simple prayer rope. Early Christians made several variations of this prayer, which became known as the Jesus Prayer. It has come down to us in three forms:

    • Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
    • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    • Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on me.
    The Jesus Prayer is said on each and every bead. However, for special intentions, you substitute the name of another who is ill or in need of special prayers.

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on … (the intention)

    [​IMG]It is also a nice practice to add a prayer to the Mother of God while praying. (i.e., Through the Prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save us; Mother of God, intercede for us.)

    The concept is to make it so that your corporeal and your spiritual are so intertwined that your breathe becomes a pray in itself. When you pray the chotki inhale the first part and exhale the next (or vice versa). The prayer will become automatic, to the point that whenever you are in silence you will just find yourself in prayer via the your natural breathing. You will begin to pray without ceasing, and trust me I have been at the point on and off in my life and it is amazing.

    When this prayer finally becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help. This can sometimes even grant the gift of tears for repentance of your sins or tears of joy due to the love of God. Either way some chotki’s have tassels on the ends of them, so you can wipe away these tears or repentance or joy.

    Not a Substitute for the Rosary

    The chotki is not a substitute for the rosary, and the rosary for a replacement for the chotki. Both are fantasticmethods of gaining spirituality and favor with our God, whom we love and want nothing more than to please.

    Christ died to save us from eternal damnation. He started own Church, one Catholic Church that has two lungs. Blessed Pope John Paul II said, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, “The Church must breathe with both Lungs.” As a result, I strongly urge you to buy both if you possibly can. We need devotion to our Lady, but we must also completely transform ourselves into never ending praying beasts! Combine the two and you have sainthood. If you want to find a place to buy a chotki send Phillip an email at: (on average a 30 bead chotki is $20).
    gracia, AED, Mario and 1 other person like this.
  3. Mario

    Mario Powers


    A precious gift from your son. His enthusiasm for prayer permeates his letter-how precious! When I approach the prayer of quiet I will most often use the Jesus prayer in the formula Frater Silvan included in his letter. I can concur with your blubbering. As the old saying goes, "It takes one to know one!":) By the way, has he completed his novitiate? At what stage does he make his vows?

    Safe in the Refuge of the Immaculate Heart!
    AED, Praetorian and BrianK like this.
  4. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    He completes his novitiate this August and takes his first temporary vows. Then he'll be home for 3weeks in early September. They give him an extra week because we are so far away and can't visit regularly. I was just there for the second time two weeks ago and had a blessed visit. Two weekends in 18 months just isn't enough and frankly this letter has reduced me to tears (now that the cable technician is gone). It's been so hard to live through 5 strokes in the last 18 months without his rock solid presence. IMG_0382.JPG
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  5. fallen saint

    fallen saint Baby steps :)

    Look how happy he looks :)

    That is what a saint looks like.


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  6. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    From one of his confreres:


    Fr. Chrysostom

    We began our Mass today with the prayer: “Keep Your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection.”

    “Relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace.” That sounds like a good idea—certainly better than relying solely on myself, or pretending that God and I are equal partners in this enterprise. To put it bluntly, that hasn’t worked out so well.

    “Relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace.” What exactly does this mean? When we ask God for help or forgiveness or nearness, we often cast about for a reason why He should hear and answer our prayers. That’s all fine and good, but most often we suggest anything but what will actually work. “Grant her eternal rest, O God, because she was a good person.” “Pardon me this sin, O Lord; I’ve done so well in the past.” “Help him with his family, O God; he’s trying so hard.”

    This is not the way of prayer we find in the Scriptures. Read the prayer of Azariah in the book of Daniel, for instance, or the prayer of Queen Esther, and you find two basic elements. First—“Lord, we have sinned and transgressed. We’re in dire straights and can’t see our way out.” Second—“Lord, You alone can rescue us; You alone can vanquish our enemies. Do so for Your Name’s sake, for Your glory. You promised our fathers in faith to be our salvation, and now is the time for fulfillment.” And really, the first of these, seeing our own emptiness and want, is just a warm-up for the second, asking God to act according to His promises and goodness for the sake of His glory.

    Even philosophically, there is no other motive for God to act. Everything He does finds perfection and rest in His own goodness. He isn’t moved by our goodness—heck, we’re hardly moved by that—but by our need for Him. He has repeatedly promised to do so, and now He is constrained to pay because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

    Fine. But what does this look like, when we hope less and less in ourselves until we pass a vote of no-confidence in our own brilliance and strength, and in the meantime learn to trust more and more in God until He is our uncontested champion? When I hear preachers say we should get closer to Christ, I generally think, “That’s a great idea, but how? Leave it vague, leave it undone.”

    Your mother irritates—no, infuriates you. Hope begins when we stop trying to argue her into submission or scream our frustration at her, and stop trying to control something we obviously can’t control, but instead—nonetheless angry—ask Jesus both to give us the grace to be patient and to bring His peace to the situation.

    Life frightens you. Children being brought into an evil world, and the powers of darkness look so unstoppable. Raging lunatics enacting diabolical laws, publicly protesting perversity, and generally endangering the morals of the young. Hope starts when we acknowledge not only our fear but our inability to save the world or our children. That’s already been done, so we ask Christ both to give us His courage to do what we can and to guard our loved ones with His strength.

    The more we do this, the more we are able to recognize that the external turmoil which causes our internal turmoil is something deeper than just another challenge, another instance of responding well to temptation. We hear St. Paul say today, “I resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” We can see our worries and trials as crosses calling us to open our arms. Our initial reaction to the horror of this prospect will be to double-check, just to make sure we don’t have the moral reserves to do this on our own. But more and more, we will find that unnecessary. The answer is always the same: No. And then our mentality shifts from seeing our looming failure and so uniting ourselves to Christ crucified, to ignoring ourselves—skipping the useless step—and looking only to Christ crucified, finding in our own crucifixion tranquility, if not joy. Why? Because every time we have, though events turned out otherwise than we would have planned, we obtained His peace and a deeper insight into the eternal providence of an all-loving God. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings,” says the Apostle to the Colossians. And to the Galatians: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

    But where does the cross lead us? What is the sign that our hope has been purged of all self-reliance, cleansed of every tainted motive? And Job said, “Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him.” We have a God Who takes what was buried in weakness and raises it in power, Who rewards with everlasting splendor a short life of struggle, Who never loses His hold on us even as we lose our tenuous hold on existence as we know it.

    But to get from here to there, from handing over to Christ today’s vexation or terror—mom, brother, confrere, self—to finding joy in our crosses, to finally abandoning ourselves to divine providence in the face of death, we need an anchor whose rope we can pull on continually to draw us ever closer to our goal.

    On the morning of Good Friday while it’s still dark, we sing one of the most dramatic chants of the year. (Don’t worry, I won’t sing it for you. Given the trashed state of my voice, it would end up being a tragicomedy à la Florence Foster Jenkins rather than having the somber dignity demanded of the Roman liturgy.) But in this responsory we sing, Circa horam nonam exclamavit Jesus voce magna: “At about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice.” Ironically, we sing this more and more softly, leading up a long, pregnant pause before crying out, Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

    Although Jesus did not have the hope we do, since He was already saw God face to face, yet that very vision gave Him the confidence to place His spirit in the hands of our heavenly Father at the exact moment of His death, will full knowledge that the Father would raise Him from the dead. Which He did. We don’t have that vision now, but neither do we need it. We have the witness of Christ. If we object that the Father loves Christ Jesus more than us, we miss what it means to be members of the Mystical Body. He sees us in Christ; He loves us in Christ. He has proved Himself trustworthy in Christ, and so whether we’re grinding our teeth into powder rather than scream at our children or confreres or self, or whether we’re sighing at another cross crushing splinters into our shoulder, or whether we’re surrendering our very lives to His will, our constant refrain is, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” Then will we always be defended by His protection, always guarded by His strength, always sheltered by His care Who so leads us infallibly as to be always one with Him in the kingdom of heaven.
    Mario likes this.
  7. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

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  8. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    Somehow I missed this thread yesterday. Belated birthday wishes to you, Brian. That birthday message from your son brought a lump to my throat. Lovely photo too. You must be so proud. Thank God for his vocation.
    AED and BrianK like this.
  9. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    My son frater Silvan (Mike) is now a junior professed brother with the Norbertines, having completed his novitiate and taken his first temporary vows last week at St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado CA.

    He's home for his first visit in two years and we stopped to see our former pastor Msgr. Harold Biller at the Catholic nursing home where I attend daily Mass. Msgr. Biller baptized Mike and Mike received his First Holy Communion from Msgr. Biller. FullSizeRender.jpg
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  10. Harper

    Harper Guest

    God bless you and your son, Brian.
    gracia, AED, BrianK and 2 others like this.
  11. HeavenlyHosts

    HeavenlyHosts Powers

    This gives joy to the heart! "The joy of the Lord is my strength."
    Thanks for sharing this with us. Beautiful!!!!! Enjoy every minute together. Glad Frater Silvan has the continuity of being able to visit Msgr. Biller. That is a blessing as well.
    AED and BrianK like this.
  12. padraig

    padraig New Member

    You have your crosses , Brian but you have your joys too, just like the rosary. May you have the Ressurection in die course.
    AED, Mary's child and BrianK like this.
  13. Don_D

    Don_D ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    Brian, I can only imagine how proud you are of your son. What a great blessing!
    Mary's child and BrianK like this.
  14. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    Our son Mike took the religious name "Silvan" after a very good friend, Fr. Silvan Rouse, a Passionist priest who was our spiritual director for many years. Mike had the blessed opportunity to complete a 40 day retreat with Fr. Silvan when he was 17, and discerned his vocation while on that retreat. Of course, "Silvan" is the English name of the New Testament saint Silvanus that St. Paul mentions along with Timothy.

    While Mike was on his 40 day retreat, Fr. Thomas Nelson O. Praem., of the California Norbertines was also spending 2 weeks with Fr. Silvan. Fr. Silvan had preached the annual week long retreat for the Norbertines in Silverado CA in 1997, and many of them had subsequently joined him here in Bedford PA for his 40 day retreat, then would visit for a week or two at a time in the years following. Cardinal Burke lead their annual week long summer retreat in 2015, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider lead the retreat in 2016, to give you an idea of the type of priests they engage for their annual retreat masters.

    Mike just missed Cardinal Burke's retreat in the summer of 2015, but was able to listen to the tapes they had made of the retreat. Our friend Fr. Silvan died several years ago at 93, but Mike found the tapes of Fr. Silvan's 1997 retreat at St. Michael's Abbey in their library, and was engrossed in his friend Fr. Silvan's gentle Irish brogue and wisdom.

    When Bishop Schneider gave their retreat in 2016, Mike was fortunate to schedule private time with him and was very positively impressed by the good bishop. Mike didn't know anything about him at the time, but realizes now how blessed he was to spend time with this wise and courageous Churchman. IMG_1532.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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  15. Mary's child

    Mary's child Powers

    God bless you and your son Brian as we are blessed by your wise words and commentaries here on the forum.
    Blizzard, Don_D, Carol55 and 3 others like this.
  16. AED

    AED Powers

    Brian thank you for sharing your son with us. What a lovely young man he is. A testament to God's grace in your family and a witness of you and your wife's faith passed on so powerfully in your son.
  17. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    I met Bishop Schneider in October 2016 at a friend's home, and told him my son was a novice with the Norbertines and that he was very positively influenced by the bishop's retreat.

    I asked the bishop in October if he remembered frater Silvan. He said he most certainly did and to send him his warm personal regards, which I was able to convey to my son when I visited him in California in February. This bishop is a true light of the Church, a humble and incredibly warm man.
  18. BrianK

    BrianK Proud2bRC Staff Member

    IMG_1591.JPG Today frater Silvan and I went to visit our friends the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are nuns from the same order as those Polish nuns who cooked and cared for St. Pope John Paul II during his many years at the Vatican. We visited with Mother Amabilis, the founder of the American province who came here from Poland 4 or 5 decades ago.

    She knew Fr. Karol Józef Wojtyła
    when he was still an associate pastor in her old neighborhood in Poland. She visited her sisters in the Vatican while he was pope, and visited with him.

    She is a very devout and holy but impish nun. When she was leaving the pope's private chapel one day during her visit, she had a book in her hands, a well worn Polish copy of The Imitation of Christ.

    The pope asked, "Mother, what are you doing with my book?" She replied (with a twinkle in her eyes), "Oh, you have lots of books here in the Vatican."

    We had a great visit and frater Silvan and I joined them for Vespers in their chapel.

    There, in the first pew with Mother Amabilis, was that copy of The Imitation of Christ.
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  19. Carol55

    Carol55 Ave Maria


    Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories and pictures! May God bless your son.
  20. Mario

    Mario Powers

    How wonderful, Brian! Congratulations to Brother Silvan on his first profession! And he looks so joyful! Praying his Office! I'll pray for him during Morning Prayer tomorrow!

    Now remember, it's OK for you to be proud, but just this once!:LOL::LOL:

    Safe in the Refuge of the Immaculate Heart!
    Dolours, CathyG, fallen saint and 2 others like this.

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