I would like to introduce both myself and my apostolate.
My name is Barbara Swan. I am a parishioner at Mater Ecclesiae Mission in New Jersey. I am also Sister Barbara Mectilde of the Blessed Sacrament, OSB Oblate, and as such, I am an “external monastic.”And my apostolate is prayer. Prayer especially for the many young faithful families throughout Traditional Catholicism.
As an Oblate, attached to Our Lady of the Annunciation Abbey in Clear Creek Oklahoma, I am privileged to “share in all the good works which, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, are accomplished in this monastery” (Ritual pro pluribus oblatis) as well as the merits of all the Benedictine Saints, Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God of the Church Triumphant, known and unknown. So all those for whom I pray also share in the spiritual goods of the monks and of the souls already in heaven.
Clear Creek Abbey is a daughter of the Abbey of Fontgombault, which is, in turn, a daughter of the Abbey of Solesmes founded by the great Dom Prosper Guéranger, the author of The Liturgical Year.
I propose to begin praying a daily Holy Hour at my home oratory for any family who would like to have me do so. What I ask is that, if you are interested, you provide me with the following:
The names of all family members
A recent photograph of the entire family to put on my altar (because we are often anonymous to each other) (Preferably portrait orientation so I may use it on my mobile devices)
Any special prayer requests or concerns you would like me to pray for
My daily Holy Hour for each family would consist of:
Sung Monastic Lauds, Vespers and Compline according to the Rule of St. Benedict
Five decades of the Rosary of the Mysteries of the day
Individual prayers for each family member Intercessory prayers to each member’s patron Saint
Daily sacrifices and mortifications
Dedication of the graces and blessings of entire day to that family
On Sundays, I would offer my intentions at Mass and the Divine Office for all the families for whom I am praying
I take my inspiration from my Rector, Father Pasley’s declaration of gratitude for, and encouragement of, the many “young families making many sacrifices to pass on the Faith…(who) give me strength and hope…(and who) remind me every day that the Lord will be victorious.”
You, the young faithful families of Tradition, are our future and it is incumbent upon all of us to also offer our own sacrifices along with yours so that the entire Body of Christ will be strengthened.
If you are interested in allowing me to offer what I can to the Lord for your family, please contact me at:
The direct inspirations for Our Lady’s Garden were two. The First: just days before the publication of the Responsa to the Dubia concerning Traditiones Custodes, I felt compelled to find some way of providing spiritual support for the many young Traditional Catholic families who have sacrificed so much for their faith and especially for the faith of their children.
The Second: at Mater Ecclesiae, there is, literally, Our Lady’s Garden. There are dozens of flowers in this Garden. And Our Lady gazes down on them all. What I mean by this is, just recently it seems, that most of the young families with many children – I have dubbed them the Summorum Pontificum generation aged fourteen and under – sit in the pews on the left side, Our Lady’s Side. I have always preferred to sit on Our Lady’s side. I composed this short poem to illustrate this Garden.
I sit in a Garden of Flowers
In bud and in bloom
Precious in the eyes of Him
To Whom they lend their fragrance:
Their fragrance of innocence, purity and unfeigned love.
Many blooms has this garden
Too numerous to count
O that they will bloom for eternity
Planted in His hidden garden of faith.
And so The Garden was conceived. After having gotten permission from our Pastor, I handed out fliers to the many families whose last names I knew but were strangers nonetheless.
I was soon overwhelmed with the response.
Most of the supplied intentions were of the everyday sort, asking help with charming things like a child who would not stay in bed at night and kept waking her already exhausted parents who were caring for their newborn, their seventh! Deo gratias!
And there were general intentions asking that all family members would remain faithful and gain heaven.
But then, the seriousness of my undertaking became too real. There was the mother of a seminarian of one of the traditional institutes whom I encountered as she, in tears, desperately tried to read the Responsa on her phone on the porch of the church after the pastor had announced the stunning restrictions at Mass the morning of December 18.
She was trying to find out if her son, who still has seven years to go, would be ordained in the Old Rite, which as of now, if things don’t change, will not be permitted.
These are real people with real dreams and no less faith that any other Catholic. I tried to comfort her but what does one say to that kind of anguish, that kind of disappointment?
Her family is now in the Garden of Our Lady.
And then, without giving too many details to keep confidence, there are the parents of a little boy born with a genetic condition whose only wish is that he live to adulthood and become a priest for God.
And the parents of children lost before birth to miscarriage or stillbirth who want them, still loved, included in the prayers offered for the family.
Families with the fallen away, pagans and even Satanists.
And the urgent phone call of a mother of an adult son fighting addiction and seeking a way out.
And the many grandmothers whose children have fallen away from the faith and whose grandchildren have not been baptized.
For the seriously ill with Covid.
Here, I thought I would offer prayers for simple things but there are so many out there whose situations are heartbreaking. Early on I will admit to wanting to back out but now I must not go back on my promises.
Again, without too many details, I find myself asking the Lord to at least let me share some of their suffering and He has granted me this. I take whatever He wants to place on my shoulders, willingly. It is the least I can do.
And for all those who are hurting and in some cases desperate, there are those who are grateful for prayers answered. And those who merely find peace and comfort in knowing someone is praying for them, their intentions, taking on some of their burdens.
I have chosen as my motto the following:
Bear ye one another’s burdens: and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
It is the least I can do. And I am asking that many other generous souls consider doing the same.
Sr. Barbara Mectilde
Sr. Barbara Mectilde is a Benedictine oblate.