Oblate Letter 21 Lent 2014

                          “Nothing Dearer than Christ”
Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin, Moray,  IV30 8UA.
 Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258
Website www.pluscardenabbey.org   DMB series No 21
Monastic Voice of the Carthusians "The Prayer of Love and Silence" by a Carthusian, translated from the French by a monk of Parkminster:
"Obedience and patience, we must remember, are not ends in themselves. 'Art for art's sake' is nonsense, since nothing created can be its own end. It is the same with virtue. .Virtue for virtue's sake' as an ideal is meaningless and discouraging, because it can never be realized. Anyone leaving the world for the paltry pleasure of thinking himself perfect, or who accepts the world's challenge from a sense of spiritual pride or to increase his self-esteem, is simply ending up where he began with himself! When Our Lord asks us to empty our hearts, it is because he wants to fill them with His own love. And it is only when He does fill our hearts that the work of our purification has achieved its object. In the same way, the divine life can only take possession of us when we have done all we can, on our part, to become detached from created things. Death to self and life in God are inseparably linked: the one without the other remains sterile.
                Listen to Our Lord's promises to those who keep his word: promises that he longs with divine impatience to realize in us. He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him; and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. In that day, you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ...And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever.....the Spirit of Truth. He shall abide with you, and shall be in you."
From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk
                My apologies--this letter shall be a little shorter and is a little later than the first of last year. My brother-in-law Alan died on the feast of the Epiphany and my brother, Timothy had a heart attack in February ( he is recovering well). Our fragility is a good preparation for Lent " Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return" ( Ash Wednesday liturgy)
                "When  our Lord asks us to empty our hearts, it is because he wants to fill them with His own love." When we are tardy in making a shift towards this our Lord, to help us, steps in by His providential ways. Divine Providence in tandem with the Liturgy empties, shapes and fills our hearts when we embrace it all in faith. Our Lord Jesus is always  about His Father's business which is making us ready for His company and that of the Communion of saints now and in eternity--- not without our willing coӧperation.".... and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. In that day, you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you."
Prayer Intentions Br Joseph Solemn profession 25 March   For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions. For vocations at Pluscarden, St Mary's,  Petersham and Kristo Buase.   Br. Adrian and Br. Finbar, health. Br Gabriel’s mother and Fr. Dunstan’s parents, failing .The repose of the souls of Mary Buist and Fr. Martin's brother-in-law, Alan Willis and  for his widow Annie. Please pray for sick Oblates especially for Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie. Brigitte Mackay, Mrs Maggie Barrett and Fr. Martin's brother Timothy( oblate) recovering from heart surgery, Paul Miller 90's and hernia, Margaret Rawcliffe, for Ursula Humphrey(who broke her wrist at Pluscarden preparing for the Lenten retreat!), Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, for Bob Barr, Brian Milne, , Gail Schmitz and her son Julian, Maurice Dufficy, Mary Bradley, Graham Dunbar, Pauline Reid, Beth Fraser and her husband Chris, Marie Claire Hérnandez paralysed after a stroke in Spain her home, Bob Clark(poorly but gamely coming to the rerteat!)), Nick Macrae’s son, Martin Macrae, and wife Sharon, kidney transplants, Dr. David Paterson and his wife Angela, Jacqui’s daughter Sally, Poppy Sinclair, Ian Brodie and his twin brother, Carolyn Boardman and son Malcolm, Martin Farrelly recovering from very major surgery and just lost his dog Murdo, David Braine, philosopher, Susan Stephen, Violet, Sheila and all friends of the Abbey and for all oblates, friends and all the sick, and those who care for them.  
BOOKS Conscience in Context by Fr. Stuart Chalmers, VG of Aberdeen Diocese and oblate of Pluscarden Abbey ISBN 978-3-0343-0995-0 pb.  (Softcover) £55.00 ( or through your library!)"In this book, the author presents a detailed study of the notion of conscience from the perspective of its historical development and existential environment. The purpose of the study is to highlight conscience’s dignity and fallibility, as well as its dependence upon the context of virtue and grace, in order to develop as our capacity to perceive the truth in moral action"
"There is nothing facile here. There is no replacement of the old authoritarianism with a subtly disguised newer model. Rather Fr Chalmers takes us beyond the paralysing dualism of inner light and external authority. He makes a quietly unpolemical but crucial contribution to that authentic renewal of moral theology called for by Vatican II and Bl. John Paul
II. Both theoretically (this is based on a doctoral thesis) and practically (he is a parish priest), he shows a way by which, like St Thomas More, we can indeed, humbly under the mercy of God, “discharge our conscience”. I hope this book will be appreciated for the light it brings.
                                                + Hugh Gilbert O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen
12 – 14th JULY 2014-- £65--Don't miss your Chance-- write at once or email Fr. martin at Pluscarden for a booking form and the full programme ( or see in Oblate Letter 19 available through Pluscarden website Oblate blog)-- PAMELA IS VERY HOPEFUL OF YOUR RESPONSE.
St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow. As announced. Peter Aitken 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP.  Phone:0141 4272084. Numbers have been steadily increasing.
St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline..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 
Ugandan Seminarian update.The young man, Dominic, who was in the Minor Seminary and who the Oblates sponsored for the the last two years, failed to meet the standard, and was asked to leave the Seminary in December 2013.
The second young man, Josaphat, had been through Minor Seminary, and was supported by the Oblates in 2013 to complete his Higher Education. Success would have allowed him entry into the Major Seminary. We have not received any information on how successful he was in his exams and as such our sponsorship has come to an end.
I fear we may have lost both our Seminarians. Yours in Christ, Paul
The Third World Congress of Benedictine Oblates October 2013, report from Rome by our oblates Martin Gardner and Jim Bradley.
During the first week of October Jim and I found ourselves on a flight to Rome to attend the World Congress of lay Benedictine oblates.  We arrived, not without some little adventure, at the Salesianum, our accommodation for the week, in time for Vespers.  There were 13 delegates from Benedictine Abbeys around the U.K. and 160 fellow oblates from around the world including Korean, Brazilian, Australian and Nigerian, to name just a few, mostly Catholic but also brother Benedictines from Anglican communities.
The Theme of this Congress was “Obsculta” – the Oblate listening in the world.  This is the first word of the Rule, meaning listen (and obey), which reminds us that from the very beginning the Rule puts into place the dynamic of listening and obedience.
Listening there was aplenty during the week including keynote speeches from Sr. Mary John Mananzan O.S.B., who reminded us of Pope Francis’ call to alleviate poverty in the world, Abbot Primate Wolf OSB and Fr. Michael Casey OCist whose address was, for me, the highlight of the week.  One of his memorable remarks concerned Faith.  “Faith comes from hearing, from receiving the Word.  This fundamental gift of grace passes through five stages before it becomes complete - experience, enlightenment, assent, practice and perseverance.”  He also spoke wonderfully on Lectio Divina.   Some Oblates were unaware of Lectio Divina so an additional workshop was hastily organised.  Who among we oblates carry out this as a norm in our daily lives?  
Should you wish to read Fr Michael’s speech in full please use the following link http://www.benedictine-oblates.org/2013/txt/txt-03-en.pdf  I promise you will be very glad you did.
From first light until usually 10 pm each day we explored a number of topics in breakout workshops which included that of Kenosis – emptying ourselves so we may be truly able to Listen.  Lauds, Mass, Vespers and Compline were sung in the Church’s universal language of Latin which was a boon in such a diverse lingual gathering.
It was not all lectures, workshops and study, very profitable though they most certainly were.  Trips were organised to Subiaco, Sant’Anselmo, Saint Peter’s for the Sunday Angelus, and Monte Cassino.  We were privileged to be given true Benedictine hospitality from the Abbot Primate Fr Wolf OSB who treated us not only to supper at Sant’Anselmo but also to a musical evening at Sant’Anselmo.  
The most evocative image I retain from our trips was seeing one of our American spiritual directors, Fr Paschal Morlino OSB, kneeling at the foot of the statue of St Benedict in the grotto of Subiaco.  His visage filled with humble piety, love, devotion and prayer to our Holy Father St Benedict was a sight I shall not forget.
In his closing remarks the Abbot Primate indicated that there will indeed by a 4th World Congress.  I would encourage you to put yourself forward without any hesitation.  Only one word of caution – do not fly Alitalia; our journey home was even more adventurous than our outward journey.  They too should perhaps “Listen”.
Oblate Lenten Retreat Programme starting Friday, 7th March -arrivals for Vespers; Saturday--10.30 am 1st retreat talk Abbot Anselm, Saturday afternoon 2.30-4.00 confession/talk with priest St Benedict's, ground floor and confessional box in the Church; Sunday homily at 10.00 am Mass Abbot Anselm, 2.00 pm-4.00 pm silent  Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 7.00 pm 2nd retreat talk Abbot Anselm; Monday, 10th March final Mass at 9.00 am and renewal of oblation, departures following. In general we follow the timetable of the Divine Office and Holy Mass for the weekend apart from the additional items specified-- if commuting in  then please bring your own flasks and sandwiches!( It is Lent!!)
Blessings on your Lenten Preparation      Fr. Martin PAX