Nothing Dearer than Christ”Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin, Moray, Scotland. IV30 8UA. Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258

Website www.pluscardenabbey.org   DMB series No 17
Lent  and Easter, Spring--2013 

Monastic Voice of sixty-six years ago at Pluscarden:-

“My Dear Oblate,
I promised to talk about prayer. I still hesitate to plunge. These waters are deep. Yet, it still remains that prayer is an art, a thing to be learned in much the same way as we learn all natural things; by thought and by effort.  But indeed since prayer is also essentially supernatural, it is therefore easier than any natural "art.” Natural art depends upon man’s natural talents. Not everybody can become a pianist or a painter because God never intended that everybody be pianist or painter. But He intends that everyone should be a pray-er. What God intended us to be, we can be. You can be a pray-er. I will go further. In so far as you are not a pray-er, in so far you are a failure in life. Hard words you might think but I fear plain, simple truth. .
              My first task then is to bring home to you this deep and vital necessity for prayer--not for prayers. Does that sound odd?  Possibly. When later we have more clarified what prayer means, you will see why we often play upon the words "prayer" and "prayers". It is possible to say many prayers without ever falling into prayer. It was to this Our Lord referred to when He warned against much speaking in prayer.
              Why do I say that in so far as you are not praying, your life is failing? When in doubt, look up your catechism. Why did God make you? To know Him, love Him and serve Him. Any part of your life that cannot be included under one of those three headings is waste. Does this mean every time I wash dishes I am wasting my time unless I am praying all the time I wash the dishes? Can I never go to a cinema or a dance anymore, because these don't seem to connect up with knowing God or loving God or serving God? Well to answer this let me reverse it. When you are washing the dishes do you regard this as something quite apart from God? When you go dancing, do you think that God is not particularly interested or possibly not aware? I suppose your real answer to such questions is that you have never given them a thought.  I mean that when you go to a dance you go to a dance. You are not particularly aware of God beforehand or during it or after it. But I do want you to analyse your day, your work and your amusements. God is aware of them. God loves you and is willing to love everything you do. St. Paul says quite definitely “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or sleep, do in charity”, and charity is love. In all that you do, it is possible to serve God. The way to do it is to immerse the things you do in prayer.  You are Oblates. You have promised or are in training to promise to bring your life into line with St. Benedict's Rule. In the first paragraph of the prologue you will find St. Benedict instructing you about what to do before you begin any work at all ; and by work he just means any action. I leave it to you to look up the Rule for yourself.
              Let us turn to a practical suggestion. Obviously what we require is the thought of God returning steadily through the day to the mind. Then when the thought returns, seize on it and dedicate the present action whatever it is quite deliberately and consciously to God. We will say something in later letters about the best way of doing this, which is through Mary. For the moment I merely mention it.
              Now it is surely obvious that the business of the remembrance of God through the day is a thing that can be built up by natural effort. We can think up devices, tricks of the trade, so to speak will help. Some people for instance learned when they were young at school to say a certain ejaculation whenever the clock struck. When l was young and first realising the necessity of prayer, I used to put six small stones in my right-hand pocket. The feel of the stones reminded me to say a prayer. Daft maybe but it worked. My point is that you can do something for yourself and just wait for God to work a miracle and make you a pray-er. He gave your wits to be used for just such things as well as for earning your living.
              To return to Holy Rule, which I remind you is supposed to become your guide, you will find St. Benedict recommends frequency in prayer. You should frequent prayer as some people frequent pubs. At the back of the book of statutes(1957) you will find the very brief Office.(“The Little Office”-see last Oblate Letter, DMB-substitute for Morning & Evening prayer of the Divine Office if too hard!) It hardly takes a -minute to say. Its value lies in the fact that it is to be said several times a day. Learn it. Find some way of dividing your day into seven parts" Then build into this habit of reciting the Oblates’ (“Little”) Office (as opposed to our presently recommended Morning & Evening prayer of the Divine Office unless this is too hard.) Is that asking too much of people who are so anxious to be supported by the prayers of Monks? I will be interested to hear your views on all this, especially if it simply puzzles you.
              Sincerely yours in St Benedict,
                                                          Dom Maurus O.S.B.
                                                   Oblate Master”(1957)
“Community Notes(1957)
Building has broken out at the priory again. Not much, 3 or 4 men and a minimum of scaffolding. May be it's an exaggeration to call it building. It is chiefly pointing for the sake of preservation. But it’s still something that needed to be done. We still await news about our hope for a grant to replace the worn-out roof on our Living Quarters. These things take a long time and it looks as if the tin patches and the tarpaulin sheet must do duty for the coming winter.”
“The Life of St. Benedict by Gregory the Great”- translation and commentary. –byTerence Kardong. This work is so often overlooked and ignored but should not be by any serious oblate. Entering into the spirit of the dialogues, Fr. Terence offers us a lucid translation and a sensible commentary that explores the meaning of this spiritual classic. His vast knowledge allows him to link the text both to the Scriptures and to the spiritual tradition. His typical enthusiasm underlines the importance of St. Benedict’s spiritual development. Fr. Terence’s clarity makes this work accessible to anyone interested in the spiritual life.” Dom Henry Hagan OSB—Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8146-3262-8 (pbk.)£13.50p(new)
Lent with St. Benedict  by Bede Frost—“This classic work republished in a new and updated version, is addressed to Christians living in the diverse, secular world outside the monastic community.£26.74(new)
From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk
              Peter Aitken, convener of our Glasgow Oblates’ meetings got in touch with me recently (as he does regularly) and told me the good fortune of his treasure trove. An Oblate friend had made available to him all the Oblate Letters of the late Fr. Maurus, of blessed memory, may he rest in peace. He was offering them to me ( I said “YES!”) in batches as he re-read them himself. “A full measure will be poured into your lap..” Here was I wondering what would cross the Oblatemaster’s desk when lo and behold –Presto!
              Many sudden and unexpected things have crossed the tablets of our minds, perforce, these last few months and weeks, not least the end of the papacy of Pope emeritus Benedict xvi for whose papacy we have just sung a Te Deum today at the Abbey on the 28th of February.
              We have had many other things challenging in their way both at home and abroad recently; I say challenging, why? I say challenging because they are like the summons of the Lord to us as to the first disciples to “ Stay awake!” and pray with him for one hour. ( Later today and tomorrow, on our day of Recollection, we are having a Holy Hour.) I say “challenging” because we as Monks and Oblates are being challenged to actually do what we are meant to be doing all the time—praying. Raising our hands and our hearts and minds to the Lord on behalf of the Church as of ourselves.
              This is a happy privilege for us! It is always a wonderful thing to be asked to do what we ought to be doing anyway. The Lord always gives us the grace to do what we ought to be doing; what a happiness!
              And so it is a doubly happy providence that has made Peter Aitken’s eye and my  eye light upon this Oblate letter on “Prayer” –one of many—offered by Fr. Maurus 66 years ago, may he rest in peace!
Events: Pentecost Lectures 21st -3rd May.
The Caldey Conversion has been commemorated with several days of prayer culminating on 5th March with a Celebration Mass with buffet lunch and “Gaudy” for the community in the evening. We Oblates of course are especially marking it in August—see below.
              Carved, stone reliefs have been fashioned either side of the squint in the Church to commemorate the conversion at the Island of Caldey 100 years ago—one of Caldey & one of its monastic predecessor, Llanthony, where Our Lady appeared—more in a subsequent oblate Letter.
NB--There is a plan afoot that our Oblate pilgrims in August bear with them a gift to the present Cistercian monks of Caldey, a gift of a stone statue of their heavenly patron, St Samson*(not the Biblical one) 2ft 6in. high costing £2,000. If you want to contribute then please send your contribution to The Cellarer, Br. Michael at our Abbey address (see head of the letter)  
*St. Samson--Memorial 28 July. Welsh nobility. At age seven, Samson was sent to the abbey of Llanwit Major in South Glamorgan for instruction by the abbot, Saint Illtud. Ordained in 512. Retired to a small monastery on Caldey Island to deepen his prayer life; later chosen its abbot. Around 516, Samson travelled to Ireland with some Irish monks, hoping to learn from them. However, Samson soon gained a reputation for holiness, and many came to him for prayers on their behalf. Uncomfortable with fame, Samson returned to the anonymity of Cornwall. St. Samson was made Bishop in 520, ordained by Saint Dubricius. Soon after, Samson received a vision from God telling him to evangelize Brittany. He and some monks there established a monastery at Dol that later became the center of a new diocese. Samson spent the rest of his life in Brittany, gaining renown for wisdom, holiness and dedication, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest Welsh saints.
Born  c.490 at south Wales Died  565 at Brittany
Year of Faith Lectures on Vatican ll : Lectures after Mass at the usual times.
4. (9 March 2013)    Nostra Aetate, The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions; Dignitatis humanae, The Declaration on Religious Liberty.
5. (20 April 2013)     Dei Verbum, The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.
6. (18 May 2013)    Gaudium et Spes, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
Please register if you are interested in attending any of these lectures, either online via the Abbey website, or by writing to Dom Benedict Hardy OSB at Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin IV30 8UA.
The 3rd National Oblate Retreat, open to all oblates of whichever abbey, is at Douai Abbey 10th- 12th May 2013—cost  £140, deposit £40. Also see the Oblate Team’s website. Bookings:-  For more information and for bookings please contact Stephen Day via email:    day.sjATvirgin.net     AT=@   or by telephone 01453 860367.
Pentecost Lectures May 21st-23rd!--NB
The Next Oblate Congress(near Rome!) is October 10th to the 14th  2013.                    UK monasteries have been allocated 13 places at the World Congress of Oblates in Rome 10-14 October 2013 where the theme is 'Obsculta - the Oblate listening in the World'. We have applied for a place. Three from Pluscarden have applied for this place.
DVD of THE 2012 OBLATE WEEKEND 27th to  30th .  Martin Gardner is making a  dvd of the whole thing and you can get your copies from him if you simply mail him at:- Dunmoir,18 Gurney St., STONEHAVEN, Kincardineshire, AB39 2EB or  email him at martinATguardair.co.uk (AT=@)) all he asks is that you make a donation to the Abbey!—Thank you from all of us to Martin Gardner. (He’s still re-vamping Fr. Martin’s contribution!)
INVITATION FROM PAM MOREY, PRINKNASH OBLATE, ON THEIR BEHALF: Now looking ahead.... 2014: the Prinknash Annual Oblate Day, Sunday 13th July.  I have received permission from the Abbot to suggest the following (which we successfully did with 8 Oblates from Kornelimunster last year).8 Oblates from Pluscarden join the Oblates of Prinknash for their Annual Oblate Weekend - 2014.They would fly down to, say, Birmingham, on Saturday 12th July.  We will collect them in a minibus and take them to Brownshill Monastery, the home of the Cistercian sisters - where they will be staying.  In the afternoon of Saturday they will be taken on a conducted  tour of Gloucester Cathedral (once a Monastic Abbey and featured in the Harry Potter films!).  On the Sunday the Oblates will be taken by minibus to Prinknash for 10.30 Conventual Mass where we renew our oblations and there may be new oblates making their oblation/being clothed etc.  After Mass they will gather with all our oblates in the grounds of our Abbey and enjoy lunch and a talk later in the afternoon by one of the Oblate masters. On the Monday morning there will be a tour of St John Baptist Church in Cirencester - a local church very worthy of a visit.  After lunch back at Brownshill, if there is time, perhaps your Oblates would like to give a short presentation of their life to us, before being taken by minibus back to the airport for flying north. The invitation is open to 8 Pluscarden oblates and they will be responsible for arranging their own flights (although it will be helpful if they could all arrive on the same flight) and the cost of their stay for the two nights at Brownshill (I can find out how much it is nearer the time).  All other expenses will be taken care of. On behalf of all our oblates, and the community at Prinknash, I do hope that this invitation will be well received.
Kindest regards and prayers
 Pam (Morey)----(If you’re interested I’ll forward your details to Pam, Fr. Martin)
Prayer Intentions  For vocations. Br Gabriel’s mother and Br. Antony’s father, who are ill and the failing health of a number of the brethrens’ parents. Br. Matthew helping at St. Mary’s Petersham for 1 year. For Sister Scholastica of Ryde Abbey—new Oblate Master. Sr. Claire see below.
Our new Oblate: Mrs Marie Alice St Teresa of Avila Cumming. Please pray for emeritus Pope Benedict & his successor,  and please pray also for Cardinal Keith Patrick,. Please pray for sick Oblates especially for Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie, Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, for Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Mary Buist, Gail Schmitz, Beth Fraser & her husband Chris, Marie Claire Hérnandez, Bob Clark, Nick Macrae’s son, Martin Macrae, Dr.David Paterson and his wife Angela, Jacqui’s daughter, Sally, Deacon William Joss, Mary Roche, Poppy Sinclair, Ian Brodie, Carolyn Boardman, Val Farrelly, Eugene Fernandez, Pauline Reid, David Braine, philosopher, Susan Stephen and all friends of the Abbey and for all oblates, friends & the sick, and those who care for them. For Sr.Claire of Ryde Abbey (retiring as Oblate Master) better health.
The OBLATE WEEKEND 2013 2nd to 5th August on CALDEY ISLAND (WALES!)Principal speaker Fr. Aelred Baker of Prinkash; expert on the origins. This is to commemorate 100th anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. There are 20 places & those intending coming are :-1.Fr Aelred Baker,2. Fr. Giles Conacher, 3. Fr. Martin Birrell,4. Joan Kilmurray,5. George Brown, 6 Hester Du Plessis,7. Marie Cumming 8.. Rebecka Winell-Reid, 9 Michael Blair, 10..Martin Gardner,11. Leonora Duson, 12. Margaret Kessack + 7 from Prinknash---13 Pam Morey, 14.Stephen Day, 15 Christina Caldwell, 16. Mary Jones, 17. Robert Jones, 18 Trish Kirby, 19. Terry Kirby--- which as you see makes  19 places and indeed there are 20 places ( one has dropped out) BUT we shall not immediately take up one of the long leet names because four of the twenty places are for monks in the monastery so the extra place will be for a monk –probably another from Prinknash if one is forthcoming. After that “ dropouts” will release a place from the long leets!   But—see the next item if you haven’t got to Caldey this time….
 Another Event:-  Oblate, Highland Caldey roundup” August 20th-22nd (two nights—one full day)
    Each of the two Pluscarden guest houses has been set aside for this. 7 places for men left, and 10 for ladies. Ladies are self-catering – but I take it upon me that the ladies will have two meals provided on the 21st by the locals! —If staying other days as well ( as negotiated with Fr. Bede individually) then they must themselves bring farther food apart from those two meals on the 21st. Their main costs are the travel. Accommodation etc. is whatever they might or might not give Fr. Bede. N.B. Pluscarden Oblates please wait until after the end of April to try to book in for this –to give our Prinknash sisters & brothers a full chance!
    All wanting to come should write as soon as they know they want to go( Pluscarden Oblates after April) to Fr. Bede, the guestmaster. They may be able to stay longer before and after these dates. They should negotiate that with the guestmaster. He or I shall help them in any farther way with information. Travel arrangements shall be left to the individuals.

St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow. As announced. Peter Aitken 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP.  Phone:0141 4272084.
St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline. Pat Carrigan         smcb_oblatesATlive.co.uk   AT=@ replace   
 St. Monica’s Chapter, Thurso. Contact Jane Coll. "Scaraben”, Westside, Dunnet, Thurso, Caithness, KY14 8YD. Phone 01847 851467 
St. Peter’s Chapter Aberdeen. St.Peter’s Chapter Oblates Group as announced by Mr Brian Milne Donview House, Seaton, Aberdeen AB24 1TZ –when he is well enough—or if someone wants to come forward to be “convener” in the meanwhile.
St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee.   Dates as agreed 11.30 at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------information from St Mary’s, or samsiameseATgooglemail.com  AT=@ 
Moray Group:  Next meeting---To be announced .
  The community magazine Pluscarden Benedictines: subscription of £5, or £10 airmail. We are trying to build up our subscription list. If you would like to go on the mailing list, please contact The Editor of Pluscarden Benedictines at the Abbey.
 Second Ugandan Student to sponsor for the Priesthood.
The Oblates currently sponsor a young 18 year old Ugandan Seminarian, Dominic, who is now starting his third of four years at the Junior Seminary.We have had a request from Sr. Catherine OSB at the Tororo Priory in Uganda for financial assistance with the education of a second Seminarian named Josaphat Omanakol. Josaphat, aged 20, has completed his four years at Junior Seminary & should have gone on to the Intermediary Seminary for his higher certificates but his widowed mother was unable to finance him. He attended St. Peter’s in Tororo for his fifth year but has no funding for his final year to complete his Higher Certificate of Education. If he can complete his Secondary School education this year in Tororo he hopes to go to the Major Seminary for 3 years of Philosophy & Theology in 2014.I have reviewed all the details and expenses with Sr. Catherine and am appealing for a “one off donation” or monthly standing orders. As an idea of cost, five Oblates each donating £10 per month would be sufficient. For further detail or clarification please contact me, Paul Costello  at:-                           4, Commercial Road, Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 9BD.       e-mail:- paulandjocostelloATbtinternet.com       replace AT with@ for email    Phone:- 01358-72151
Postscript:”I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me. I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is Risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me to go forward with certainty. May this help us to go forward, and at this moment I wholeheartedly thank all those who have continually helped me to perceive the “yes” of God through their faith.” Pope Benedict xvi

 Love  & blessings  for  Easter!  With prayer for all whose letters and benefactions, before & after Christmas, I have so far failed to acknowledge because of my slowness & inefficiency, Yours always in our Risen Saviour JESUS  CHRIST     &    S.P.N.B.                                                                   Fr  Martin