Oblate Letter 22 Easter Pentecost Summer 2014

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

Website www.pluscardenabbey.org   DMB series No 22
Easter Pentecost Summer 2014
Monastic Voice: "The Hermitage Within": by A Monk (Cistercian)
"We are all collaborating in a collective task: the building and adorning of the church, the living temple. In moments of weariness, when the silence of your cell suddenly terrifies you with its unnerving severity, when you feel that you are a prisoner of the void, think of the communion of saints. This is no myth. Everywhere, throughout the world, in cloisters, in hermitages, countless brothers and sisters, of whom some are saints indeed, are praying and suffering for your perseverance and sanctification. Draw comfort from the thought that you are praying for them.
Without ever having met you, they are closer to you than your nearest friends. Your God is theirs, their ideal yours: the same grace quickens you, the same Spirit enlivens you. You attend the same Mass, and with the same dispositions receive the same Sacrament of the Eucharist. You say the same Lord's Prayer, sing the same praise. You have the same Mother, Mary. You aspire to the same heaven, and on earth you consent to the same renunciations in order to live by the same supernatural realities. You know the same struggles. And your merits and theirs all fall into that same treasury of the Church, to be shared by all. If friendship is a sharing of the wealth of mind and heart, you can count a multitude of friends of all conditions everywhere on earth."
From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk    Who would have thought that Providence would push my way another monastic voice from the pen of a hermit? As you  may know we have a small library of books for Oblates which are usually collected and returned when oblates pay a visit here and have a chat with the oblate master. I have been less astute than my predecessors in monitoring the issue and return of these books but even I was surprised recently when a book made its way back here that had been out for six or seven years--but it was the route that was surprising. A kind person in the Highland capital had seen this interesting book in a second-hand bookshop and purchased it. They were surprised to discover that it had originated from our Oblate Library and kindly donated it back to its origin!! That book was "The Hermitage Within"-- our Monastic Voice of this summer issue of the Oblate letter. Our Lord--Providence--has some wonderful ways of spotlighting something for our especial attention.
In our Western society loneliness is one of the curses of a fragmented society. How many people have a TV set switched permanently on in their dwelling to mask the excruciating silence surrounding them with loneliness? Materialism run riot is often a symptom, like the little sledge "Rosebud" of the film Citizen Kane that symbolises the last sundering of loving ties with other human beings that leads to his galloping loneliness-- a symptom of an inner void that we attempt to fill with material things.
How many people think that living on one's own, the solitary life or the peripatetic life (the rolling stone syndrome) that these can be equated with and are simply equivalent to loneliness? How many again would assume that a hermit life must necessarily be a recipe for unhappiness "suited" only to the misfit or misanthrope? The assumption is that humans, gregarious by nature, must be defective and maladjusted to live steadily and by choice the hermit life.
The Christian, Cistercian, hermit who wrote our text quoted above gives the lie to all these false assumptions. Granted that the existential "angst" of individual responsibility and action which the hermit above talks of " when the silence of your cell suddenly terrifies you with its unnerving severity, when you feel that you are a prisoner of the void"- granted that the genuine hermit is not immune to this aspect of the human condition (who could circumvent the experience of our Lord, at its highest pitch, in having reached a place in one's life sometimes, where one is entirely unaccompanied?) To live unwitnessed and with no one apparently "there for me" can lead to a dull pain, with life seeming to lose its savour. Nevertheless this experience of two thirds of the population of our country is not the fabric and substance of the Christian hermit's life. How so? Why not? Wherein lies the difference? Is there any way out of a life cornered and at bay so to speak, hedged in by loneliness?
Our chosen text unlocks the door of the loneliness corner we may be in. It gives us many keys, it makes the walls come down, it opens our hearts to let the void escape, as it must, while the reality of Life comes in.
Here are the keys that it mentions explicitly or implicitly:- firstly the Communion of Saints, The Mystical Body, the Church, the Sacraments, prayer, the presence of our brethren rather than their absence, the Presence of God.
 The key that transforms my prison of loneliness is the realisation that there is no absence, only a Presence. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."( Hebrews 12 1-3)
Christ is with us, in us, around us. He is in His sacraments, in the Word of God, in the liturgy (for example our Divine Office), in prayer, in our brethren near or far (dead or living).
Even when I am on my own (or in the midst of a seething mass of people) the true reality of my experience when I become aware of it is one of SHARING: "You have the same Mother, Mary. You aspire to the same heaven, and on earth you consent to the same renunciations in order to live by the same supernatural realities. You know the same struggles. And your merits and theirs all fall into that same treasury of the Church, to be shared by all. If friendship is a sharing of the wealth of mind and heart, you can count a multitude of friends of all conditions everywhere on earth." Who could be radically on their own when  praying the "OUR Father..... Give US this day OUR....lead US not into temptation....deliver US from evil..."
Loneliness, true loneliness is indeed an absence-------it is not an absence of other beings, human, or of the Divine Being Who is our Father. True loneliness is an ABSENCE OF PRAYER.
"Abba!","Father!" breaks the false spell of loneliness, as does the Holy Name of "Jesus!"
Books and media  We cannot commend too highly Martin Gardner's work in recording our first two Oblate Weekends and now last year's pilgrimage to Caldey in DVD's. May I remind you that to get your copy all you have to do is give a donation to Pluscarden ( big or small -- between you and the Lord!) and email or write to Martin Gardner:  martin@guardair.co.uk      Post:- Dunmoir, 18, Gurney St., Stonehaven, AB39 2EB.
            After our delightful and stimulating Pentecost lectures this year given by St. Mary's, Petersham Oblate, Professor Carol G. Zaleski whose appetite  would not be whetted for some of her books such as:- ' "Otherworld Journeys"--- (which) offers the most comprehensive treatment to date of the evidence surrounding near-death experiences. The first to place researchers' findings, first-person accounts, and possible medical or psychological explanations in historical perspective, she discusses how these materials reflect the influence of contemporary culture. She demonstrates that modern near-death reports belong to a vast family of otherworld journey tales." '--£15  Oxford University Press 1987  ISBN 0-19-503915-7.-------If you read this you'll want to read her other books too--- and those of her husband ( also an oblate!)
Prayer Intentions Br Simon's solemn profession (hoped for) circa the 14th of September or at least this year, perhaps.   For our new Oblates, Campbell Maurus Murdoch and Rebecka Helena Winell Reid. Father, now Canon Luke Smith, Mgr. Robert impending hip replacements, Mr &and Mrs. Bampton Golden Jubilee wedding year, For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions. For Fr. Ambrose and all the monks of Kristo Buase on their silver Jubilee of foundation 6th August, the Transfiguration this year. For vocations at Pluscarden, St Mary's,  Petersham and Kristo Buase. Br. Adrian and Br. Finbar, healthBr Gabriel’s mother and Fr. Dunstan’s parents, failing .The repose of the souls of Oblate Claire Marie Hérnandez née Gilfedder and for the health of her mother Mrs Rose Gilfedder just out of hospital. Please pray for other sick Oblates especially  Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie, Mrs. Allie Brien broken hip, Constance Reid's husband poorly, Christina Nicol's daughter Libby, Brigitte Mackay and Mrs Maggie Barrett  recovering from heart surgery, Paul Miller 90's and hernia, Margaret Rawcliffe, Ursula Humphrey, Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Gail Schmitz and her son Julian, Martin's wife Mary, Maurice Dufficy, Mary Bradley, Graham Dunbar, Pauline Reid and her husband, Beth Fraser and her husband Chris, Bob Clark, 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 , David Braine, philosopher, Susan Stephen, Violet, Sheila and all friends of the Abbey and for all oblates, and all the sick, and those who care for them--and for Josaphat our sponsored seminarian. 
Retreat Arranged by UK Oblate Team:-
AMPLEFORTH ABBEY York YO62 4EN         5-7 September 2014
Fr Matthew Burns OSB leads a retreat encouraging us to see our prayer as a sharing in the hidden life of God, Prayer, Praise and the Trinity. For further details, and to book a place on this retreat, please e-mail  Stephen Day on      day.sj@virgin.net        or telephone Stephen on 01453 860367
Pluscarden Oblate Chapters
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 Oblates are supporting Josaphat in his year of Pastoral work. The Parish will give him the accommodation and food but he needs money for:-  Clothing: he needs a white cassock. Books: Morning and Evening Prayers, Hymn books, African or Jerusalem Bible and a Catechism. During the year he will be called away for Seminars and so will need travel expenses and sustenance.
I believe that Josaphat is a mature young man focused on the Priesthood.  Please remember him in your prayers.
 If you feel drawn to assisting Josaphat in any way then please contact me, Paul Costello, 4, Commercial Road, Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 9BD.
Telephone 01358-721512
e-mail :- paulandjocostello@btinternet.com

From Fr. Ambrose-- former Oblatemaster, now superior of KB--"Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Greetings from Kristo Buase! We have just launched a new website: www.kristobuasemonastery.org It takes time for these things to be picked up by Google and other search engines so I would be grateful if you could help us publicise the site by encouraging friends and oblates to visit it and perhaps even adding a link to your own website. We get one point for every individual who visits, and five points for every Facebook “Like”. In all we need 700 points to get the site up in the listings of the search engines. We will be using the website as a platform for a fund-raising appeal for our Silver Jubilee of foundation. Our aim is to build a church and guesthouse – these were part of the original sketch plans drawn up in 1987 but never implemented because of a tight budget. We are still worshipping in a chapel which seats only 15 people and need to recover the existing guest rooms for an expanding novitiate. All good wishes, Fraternally, Fr Ambrose Flavell, OSB Superior, Kristo Buase Monastery, P.O. Box TM-291,TECHIMAN, B/A Ghana West Africa     e-mail is             kb@africaonline.com.gh       -----Written 2014 in the Silver Jubilee year of foundation.

With blessings and prayer for us all that  the  Summer may be for us a season of re-creation and renewal,
         Yours in Christ and SPNB,

                                                     Fr. Martin      pax