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 18
Summer--Birth of St John the Baptist--2013
Monastic Voice of a century ago from Caldey Benedictine Abbey:-
"Our Purpose and Method"---Abbot Aelred Carlyle "A Need of the Church        Years ago, in a sermon by Father Maturin, I heard some words which have been an inspiration ever since. Speaking of ideals he said: "Paint your picture in strong colours, keep it ever before you, and strive to live up to it; if you do this conscientiously, you will not find yourself very much out in the end." And what was my picture? The Church of England—Catholic in Constitution—in Tradition—the Mother of the English people—indigenous to the soil on which had lived and died so many holy Monks and Nuns—with her Orders—her Sacraments—her Jurisdiction—her Cathedrals intact—with activities so numerous and well arranged: and yet, without one single Monastery of the Benedictine Rule remaining, of which so many formed her crown three hundred years ago—nothing left but desolate and empty ruins—the voice of praise silent in the moss-grown choirs—no home for weary souls and loving hearts—no men to be found for the work of prayer—and no room for such. But were there really no men? Was there no room? My picture told me there were both.
            I saw a Revival of the Spiritual Life spreading through England, with here and there men waiting and longing for the opportunity of withdrawing themselves from the hurried life of the day, to seek the peace and regulated discipline of the Cloister. I thought that surely if the need were felt, it would be met; that Authority would once more sanction the system which had so abundantly flourished, and been so blessed in the past. The revival of external activity in the Church, the increased effectiveness of parochial work, the growing love and appreciation of the Sacraments, the care lavished on the fabrics themselves and upon the ornaments of the sanctuary, all showed that a corresponding revival of the Interior Life was needed, nay demanded, as a balance to this marked increase of exterior organization. And that as the Catholic Church in all ages has possessed her Religious Communities, so now, after her long sleep, the Church in England, roused at last to the realization of her Catholic heritage, would awake to the fact that she alone in Catholic Christendom possessed few Religious Houses for men, and none dedicated solely to the Life of Prayer.
            Thus our little work has been to gather together a nucleus of men animated with the desire of reviving under Authority the practice of the Rule of S. Benedict. The Authority has been granted, and of men eager to try their vocations there is no lack.
 The Necessity of Slow Growth           In a work of this sort, fraught with so many difficulties, slow and steady growth was to be desired, rather than a rapid increase. We had to profit by our own mistakes, as well as by those of others: great care had to be taken with individuals, so that the nucleus might be strong, and able to stand the addition of fresh material from without. It was gradually found that only men of a certain type were suitable, that all who professed to have a vocation were not to be credited until they had proved it. Many were at once found to be unsuitable, others required a prolonged trial to discover that they were not called to the Life; and so from time to time a careful weeding out has been necessary, and new men are very cautiously taken. Our practice now is to make our door with a very small aperture for entrance, and a very wide one for departure.
Signs of Vocation        An applicant must have certain qualifications which will commend him to the Community; he must have a blameless past, for which he can provide sufficient reference; his health must be good: and in most cases he must be under the age of twenty-five. It is desirable, also, that a man should come from work at which he is earning his own living, and it is essential that he should be free from all other obligations to his family and to his secular life. So much for this aspect of his vocation. Spiritually, he must feel that God is really calling him to a life of closer union with Himself, and that, with a great desire of self-dedication in his heart, he will persevere in spite of obstacles.
The Four Seals            as they are called, of a Benedictine Vocation, are laid down in the Holy Rule as follows: and it is by these signs that the seniors are bidden to judge of new-comers. The Benedictine Novice must (1) truly seek God, (2) show himself fervent in the Work of God, (3) be eager for Obedience, (4) and Humiliation. A little thought will show that these Four Seals practically cover the whole ground of a man's spiritual life. He who truly seeks God and is fervent in the work of the Divine Praise will be chaste, honest, and conscientious. He who is obedient and humble will be contented, unselfish, and cheerful."
From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk
            Yes this is the year of the Caldey conversion and before I go farther I must correct an error in the last oblate Letter. The appearance of our Lady at a monastic forerunner of Caldey was at Llanthony in Wales not Painesthorpe.
            With the help of God sixteen  oblates, eight form Prinknash, eight from Pluscarden,  are going with four monks, to Caldey Abbey(Cistercian) from the 2nd to the 5th August, shortly.
            The above "monastic Voice" from the(to us) well-known source "Our Purpose & Method" by  Abbot Aelred Carlyle ( our "founder") was written when the community on Caldey were all Anglicans despite its specialised reference to themselves even then prophetically in some sense as "Catholic".
            I think we can all sense very familiar aspects of monastic life " painted" in "strong colours"-- colours still recognisable in our own lives as monks and oblates of Pluscarden. The monastery is the great master & apprentice teacher of us all under God and the elements once in place are passed on , handed on, the tradition.
            The Rule of St Benedict itself is that tradition. That was the blueprint that led the Caldey monks first into monastic life, then deeper and deeper into the contemplative heart of the Church until incorporated into that Catholic mystical Body in the fullest sense.
            St Thérése of Lisieux Carmelite Doctor of the Church and patroness of the missions, saw that the contemplative vocation of love from within incorporates us into the very heart of the Church. The contemplative heart of the Church and of the Christian is as essential as the heart to the human body. Monks and Benedictine Oblates have this charism which is not superficial or dispensable .
          Prayer Intentions  For vocations at Pluscarden, St Mary's, Petersham & Kristo Buase. For Br. Adrian in his Diamond Jubliee year and Fr. Ambrose in his silver Jubilee year of profession. Br Gabriel’s mother failing and Br. Antony’s father, Benjamin, RIP and Oblate Mary Roche RIP
Our new Oblates: Lorn Adomnan Macintyre and Fiona Bernadette Sellar. Please pray for emeritus Pope Benedict & his successor Pope Francis,  and please pray also for Cardinal Keith Patrick and for all the vacancies in the episcopate in Scotland. Please pray for sick Oblates especially for Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie,Anne Morgan's brother-heart surgery, Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, for Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Mary Buist, Gail Schmitz and her son Antony-- kidney transplant, Beth Fraser & her husband Chris, Marie Claire Hérnandez, Bob Clark(poorly), Nick Macrae’s son, Martin Macrae, Dr.David Paterson & his wife Angela, Jacqui’s daughter, Sally, Deacon William Joss, Margaret Barrett ( heart surgery), Poppy Sinclair, Ian Brodie, Carolyn Boardman & son Malcolm, Val Farrelly, Margaret Rawcliffe  David Braine, philosopher, Susan Stephen, Violet and all friends of the Abbey and for all oblates, friends and the sick, and those who care for them. For Sr.Claire of Ryde Abbey) better health.
BOOKS"The Conscience of our Age" by Fr Vincent Twomey SVD ( missionary priest) who gave our Pentecost lectures this year which were much acclaimed and appreciated.--A close, long-time associate of emeritus Pope Benedict presents a unique theological and personal portrait of the Pope that gives wonderful insights to both his teachings, and the man himself. This work on our last Pope, important in its unique approach to the thought and person of he who was as Pontiff, is a help for Christians everywhere to better understand him, his leadership and his role as  one of the most respected spiritual teachers in the world. Ignatius Press ISBN 978-1-58617-170-4 priced £13.05

CTS Pamphlet Understanding The Story Of The Bible By: Eileen Clare Grant £2.50 Format: A6 Booklet Publication Date: 10/May/2013-----Catholics have been encouraged since the Second Vatican Council to become more familiar with the Holy Bible, yet many still find it a daunting book. The Lectionary gives generous extracts throughout the liturgical year, but at the cost of losing sight of the historical context of each extract.
In order to recover our sense of the narrative as a whole, we need to understand Salvation History as the true history of the world, from creation and fall to salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ,leading to eternal happiness in God.
About the author---Eileen Clare Grant works as a freelance editor and RCIA catechist in the Diocese of Aberdeen, and has written for PB, the Tablet, the Sower and Magnificat, as well as the Aberdeen diocesan magazine. She is a Benedictine oblate of Pluscarden Abbey.
" Understanding the Story of the Bible ", by Eileen Clare Grant, a Benedictine oblate of Pluscarden Abbey. This surveys carefully chosen strategic landmarks of the Old Testament, arriving at the New Covenant only in the last chapter: it is all designed to prepare us for the story of Our Lord’s Birth, “in the fullness of time”, It is, in fact, a brilliant preliminary introduction to the New Testament itself. 
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(Fr. Bede) of Pluscarden Benedictines at the Abbey.
Events ----- Pilgrimage 30th June 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'. Martin Gardner and Jim Bradley are representing Pluscarden. Thank you both.
2nd to 5th August on CALDEY ISLAND (WALES!)Principal speaker Fr. Aelred Baker of Prinknash; expert on the origins. Also Fr. Giles on " After Caldey". This is to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. All the places are taken already though you can go on a short leet for a cancellation There are 20 places & those intending coming already:-4 monks:- 1. Fr Aelred Baker 2. Fr. Giles Connacher 3 Dom Michael De Klerk. 4. Fr. Martin Birrell + * Pluscarden Oblates 5. Jim Bradley    6 Christina Nicol 7. Marie Cumming 8.. Rebecka Winell-Reid, 9 Martin Gardner  10 Joseph Ly 11. Margaret Kessack 12. Leonora Duson + 8 Prinknash Oblates:-13.Pam Morey, 14. Stephen Day, 15. Christina Caldwell, 16. Mary Jones, 17. Robert Jones, 18 Dr Sarah Richards  19.Sally Mercer ,20 John Vivian.=20 on  the boat at 2.30 pm pier in Tenby Friday August 2nd. Again 20 arrive from Caldey at Tenby pier 11.00  am Monday 5th August.
 We may plan to give a statue of St. Samson, Caldey's patron- but we have an awful lot of the £2000  still to raise in a very short time if the sculptor is to have time to carve it!(donations Br. Michael- cellarer, please)
“Oblate, Highland Caldey roundup” August 20th-22nd (two nights—one full day) 21st: 10.30 am DVD of Caldey Talks 2.45 pm DVD of Caldey Island
    Each of the two guest houses AT PLUSCARDEN 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 at St Scholastica's on the 21st by the locals (monks & Pluscarden Oblates)—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.    All wanting to come should book now. Open season now for everyone for this event!(oblates, postulants, novices) You can come just for the day--residents front seats!
INVITATION FROM PAM MOREY, PRINKNASH OBLATE, ON THEIR BEHALF: Now looking ahead.... 2014: the Prinknash Annual Oblate Day, Sunday 13th July 2014
 Pam Morey is the organiser.----(If you’re interested I’ll forward your details to Pam--Fr.Martin--I'll put the fuller details in again in the Autumn or Winter-- see the last Oblate Letter 17)
St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow. As announced. Peter Aitken 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP.  Phone:0141 4272084.
St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline. Had a meeting a few days ago-this letter just too late to advertise! Sorry.    Pat Carrigan         smcb_oblates@live.co.uk   
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 Having a sabbatical while Brian Milne recovers his health ( please pray).
St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee.   Dates as announced, at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------information from St Mary’s, or samsiamese@googlemail.com 
Moray Group:  Next meeting---as arranged--Kathie Moar .
Ugandan Seminarian appeal for Sponsors.
The Oblates currently sponsor two Ugandan Seminarians for the Priesthood. The first Seminarian, Dominic, is in his third of four years at the Junior Seminary. His funding is secure for 2014 and into the future as the Oblates have committed to sponsor him.
The second Seminarian, Josaphat, has funding only up until the end of 2013. It is hoped that in January 2014 he will go to the Major Seminary for 3 years of Philosophy & Theology. Presently there is no funding for this.
I am therefore repeating my appeal for further sponsors for 20 year old Josaphat for 2014 and onwards in the form of “one off donations” or preferably small monthly standing orders. Please also remember them both in your prayers.For further detail or clarification please contact me, Paul Costello  at:-
4, Commercial Road, Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 9BD. e-mail:- paulandjocostello@btinternet.com
Phone:-01358-721512 or Mobile:- 07762-432080
                        Fr Martin        PAX

Caldey Programme
                Friday 2nd August
                Arrive Tenby in time for
                2.30 pm crossing
                3.30 arrive guest house Caldey
                informal greetings tea & coffee
                17.30 Vespers
                18.15 Supper
      19.35 Compline
           3rd   August 
vigils 3.30 am
            6.00 am Lauds
 6.45 am   Holy Mass 
8.15 Breakfast
 8.50 am Terce

 thereafter chance for confession or speak with a priest 

Sext    12.15 
Dinner 12.30 
none at St Philomena 14.20
     followed by talk one Fr Aelred Baker on the Caldey Conversinon
              16.00 talk two, Fr Giles Cladey  to Pluscarden
             17,30 Vespers
 supper 18.15
compline 19.30

4th  August
 vigils 3.30
               6.30 am Lauds 
 8.30 Breakfast

 10.30 am Terce & Holy Mass
            sext   12.15
 Dinner 12.30 
14.20 None 

            Guided Tour

16.45 Holy Hour
 & Vespers

            supper 18.15

Compline 19.30
5th August
( vigils 3.30a.m.)
         6.00 am Lauds 
      6.45 HolyMass

          8.15?    Breakfast

        (8.45 am Terce)

    Ca.7.30- 10.30 am Boat departure 11.00--very approximate am Tenby..

             wend our ways!

                 Below part of a Sermon preached by the Anglican Fr Ignatius of Llantony on the apparitions to Anglicans there pre-dating  Abbot Aelred's Caldey  Abbey. Some monks went from Llantony to the Caldey Abbey carrying this heritage with them.                "Eight altogether saw the Blessed Virgin: three men, one woman and four healthy boys. And now let me tell you what I feel to be the meaning and value of the Apparitions. First they show the truth and reality of the faith which Christian people have in the supernatural. Then they are of great value to the Church of England because there has been so much of the supernatural in other parts of the Church, and the Church of England has been without the least  sign of it for so long a period"
                The trajectory of these Apparitions a century on has led to the carved stone capitals, carved by sculptor Philip Chatfield in Pluscarden's squint through to the Blessed Sacrament/Lady chapel --a trajectory of faith.