Oblate Letter 23 Autumn 2014 Exaltation of the Cross

 “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 23
Oblate Letter Autumn Exaltation of the Cross 2104
Monastic Voice: St Francis de Sales, bishop--ergo had fullness of charisms necessary to his office, including monastic.
St Francis De Sales:"Letters To Persons In The World"- LETTER XLIL  To a religious of the visitation."Answers to questions on the truths of Faith."  Dated 28th November, 1621.
            "THE truths of the faith, my dearest child, are sometimes agreeable to the human spirit, not only because God has revealed them by his word, and proposed them by his Church, but also because they suit our taste, and because we enter into them thoroughly, we understand them easily, and they are according to our inclinations. As, for example, that there is a Paradise after this mortal life, this is a truth of faith which many hold much to their satisfaction, because it is sweet and desirable. That God is merciful the greatest part of the world finds to be a very good thing, and easily believes, because even philosophy teaches us this ; it is conformable to our taste and to our desire.
            Now, all the truths of faith are not of this kind; as, for example, that there is an eternal hell for the punishment of the wicked, this is a truth of faith, but a bitter, terrifying, fearful truth, and one which we do not believe willingly, except by the force of God's word.
And now I say, firstly, that naked and simple faith is that by which we believe the truths of faith, without considering any pleasure, sweetness, or consolation we may have in them, but solely by the acquiescence of our spirit in the authority of the word of God, and the proposition of the Church : and thus we believe no less the terrifying truths than the sweet and agreeable truths : and then our faith is naked, because it is not clothed with any sweetness or any relish ; it is simple, because it is not mingled with any satisfaction of our own feelings.
            Secondly, there are truths of faith which we can apprehend by the imagination ; as that our Lord was born in the manger of Bethlehem, that he was carried into Egypt, that he was crucified, that he went up to heaven. There are others, which we cannot at all grasp with the imagination, as the truth of the Most Holy Trinity, Eternity, the presence of our Lord's
body in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist : for all these truths are true in a way which is inconceivable to our imagination, since we cannot imagine how these things can be. Still, our understanding believes them firmly and simply, on the sole assurance it has of the word of God : and this faith is truly naked, for it is divested of all imagination ; and it is entirely simple, because it has no sort of action except the action of our understanding, which purely and simply embraces these truths on the sole security of God's word. This faith, thus naked and simple, is that which the saints have practised and do practise amid sterilities, drynesses, distrusts, and darknesses.
            To live in truth, and not in untruth, is to lead a life entirely conformed to naked and simple faith, according to the operations of grace and not of nature ;because our imagination, our senses, our feeling, our taste, our consolations, our arguments, maybe deceived and may err; and to live according to them is to live in untruth, or at least in a perpetual risk of untruth; but to live in naked and simple faith, this is to live in truth.
So it is said of the wicked spirit, that he abode not in the truth because having had faith in the beginning of his creation, he quitted it, wishing to argue, without the faith, about his own excellence, and wishing to make himself his end, not according to naked and simple faith, but according to natural conditions, which carried him on to an extravagant and irregular love of himself. This is the lie in which live all those who do not adhere with simplicity and nudity of faith to the word of God, but wish to live according to human prudence, which is no other than an ants' nest of lies and vain arguments.
This is what I think good to say to you on your two questions.
            How very often when our brethren( or ourselves!) come up with questions, with problems, of faith they turn out to be, in the cold light of day, problems of suffering. "If God loved me/us/them....if God loved,..... then how could He allow that to happen? The supernatural virtue of faith is a gift of the holy Spirit with which we cooperate with our whole will or not. If our "faith" rests simply on our liking for certain truths or the power of our imagination to conceive of them and agree with them then there is very little of the theological virtue of faith there at all. If all our "faith" is like this then we may hardly be exercising the supernatural virtue of faith at all. We have turned St Irenaeus' dictum on its head. He said theology is "faith seeking understanding". We have become all-wise measurers of all things seeking a god (small g), seeking a "faith" that fits the facts ( OUR "facts"). Instead of seeking God as we are adjured to do by St Benedict we are seeking ourselves.
            St Francis de Sales points us towards the "naked and simple" faith that is  the genuine article, the virtue and gift of God that faith is and that leads us to God like hope and charity.
The monk, the nun and the oblate all require to exercise this virtue of faith in order to seek God where they are in all the circumstances of life especially the most untoward and cross-grained. The cross where it rests on us is the growing point of faith. Faith that does not start from here is not faith at all. The things that might "shake" faith are the very starting-points of faith truly so called.
Books and media  We commend the author of  the "Introduction to the Devout life", St Francis De Sales. The above quoted quasi-monastic(!?) voice is equally accessible to all and while not in print as far as I can see at present  is plentifully available second- hand and from libraries and in every form written and audible as a free download for your computer or Kindle. May I remind you of the Oblate website http://www.benedictine-oblates.net/monastery.htm which has notification of oblate events in Britain and a booklist and other interesting material. May I also remind you, on the home front, that my email  at the head of every oblate letter  is oblatemaster@pluscardenabbey.org    Many of you try to contact me through the website or through monks@pluscardenabbey.org   which usually takes much longer and is not direct. I am the Mass stipendiary too so oblatemaster@pluscardenabbey.org can be used to arrange Masses to be said (as long as the oblatemaster is also  the stipendiary!!)
Prayer Intentions Abbot President Bruno who is ill. Br Simon whose solemn profession was 14th of September.For our new Oblates, Lillian Anne Bailey and Cyprian Chuan Eng Francis Lee. Novice Oblates Eileen Fitzpatrick and Deirdre McGovern. Susan Carson-Rowland’s golden Wedding. Mgr.Robert impending hip replacements, 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 and for his motherBr Gabriel’s mother and Fr. Dunstan’s parents, failing .The repose of the souls of Oblates Mrs Rose Gilfedder, Mrs Myrtle Doughty and also Mrs. Pauline Reid (Ampleforth Oblate.), Susan Carson-Rowland’s sister-in-law Joanne, Gertrude Corker’s daughter-in-law. Please pray for our sick Oblates and their relatives & especially Eileen Grant's son Robin seriously ill , Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie, Leandro Herrero, Mrs. Allie Brien, Connie Reid's husband poorly, Brigitte Mackay and Maggie Barrett, Paul Miller 90's and hernia, Margaret Rawcliffe, Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Gail Schmitz, Martin's wife Mary, Maurice Dufficy, Mary Bradley, Maureen’s sister Dorothy, Leonora, Graham Dunbar, Alison Donald, Beth Fraser and her husband Chris, Bob Clark, Nick MaCrae’s son, Martin MaCrae, 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 (especially the Rodway's grandchild Kiara) and for all oblates, and all the sick, and those who care for them--and for Josaphat our sponsored seminarian. 
Events  Oblate Retreat here at Pluscarden first weekend of Lent 2015 led by our Abbot Anselm as before.( 20th-23rd February 2015) book with Fr. Bede or attend daily.
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  
ST.PETER'S CHAPTER OF OBLATES Aberdeen NEXT  MEETING --- Mr Brian Milne Tel 01224 485781 stpetersbulletin1803@talktalk.net     ( HIS HEALTH IS POORLY AGAIN SO PLEASE CHECK)
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      home on leave end September/beginning November
With blessings and prayer for us all that  the Cross triumph in each and all of us .                       Yours in Christ and SPNB,

                                                                        Fr. Martin      pax