Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines,
Elgin, Moray, Scotland. IV30 8UA.
Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258
DMB series No 26
Oblate Letter Easter Pentecost Summer 2015
Monastic voice: From the Praktikos of Evagrius Ponticus ( 345- 389 AD) Translated by Fr. Luke Dysinger OSB (to whom thanks for putting his translation in the "public domain"!
"[CONCERNING THE EIGHT [TEMPTING-] THOUGHTS]
6. THERE are eight generic [tempting-] thoughts that contain within themselves every [tempting-] thought:
first is that of gluttony;
and with it, sexual immorality;
third, love of money;
Whether these thoughts are able to disturb the soul or not is not up to us; but whether they linger or not, and whether they arouse passions or not; that is up to us.
7. THE [tempting]-thought of gluttony suggests to the monk the quick abandonment of his asceticism. The stomach, liver, spleen, and [resultant] congestive heart failure are depicted, along with long sickness, lack of necessities, and unavailability of physicians. It often leads him to recall those of the brethren who have suffered these things. Sometimes it even deceives those who have suffered from this kind of thing to go and visit [others] who are practicing self-control, to tell them all about their misfortunes and how this resulted from their asceticism.
8. THE demon of sexual immorality (porneia) compels desiring for different bodies. Especially violently does it attack those who practice self-control, so that they will cease, as if achieving nothing. Contaminating the soul, it bends it down towards these sorts of deeds: it makes it speak certain words and then hear them, as if the thing were actually there to be seen.
9. LOVE of money (avarice) suggests: a long old age; hands powerless to work; hunger and disease yet to come; the bitterness of poverty; and the disgrace of receiving the necessities [of life] from others.
10. GLOOMINESS sometimes arises from frustrated desires; but sometimes it is the result of anger. When desires are frustrated it arises thus: certain [tempting-]thoughts first seize the soul and remind it of home and parents and its former course of life.
When they see the soul following them without resistance, and dissipating itself in mental pleasures, they take and dunk [lit baptize] it in gloom, since it is the case that these earlier things are gone and cannot be recovered due to the [monk's] present way of life Then the miserable soul, having been dissipated by the first [tempting-]thought, is humiliated all the more by the second.
11. ANGER (orgē) is the sharpest passion. It is said to be a boiling up and movement of indignation (thumos) against a wrongdoer or a presumed wrongdoer: it causes the soul to be savage all day long, but especially in prayers it seizes the nous, reflecting back the face of the distressing person. Then sometimes it is lingering and is changed into rancor (mēnis). and [thus] it causes disturbances at night: bodily weakness and pallor; and attacks from poisonous beasts. These four things associated with rancour may be found to have been summoned up by many other [tempting-] thoughts.
12. THE demon of acedia, which is also called the noonday demon, is the most burdensome of all the demons. It besets the monk at about the fourth hour (10 am) of the morning, encircling his soul until about the eighth hour (2 pm).
 First it makes the sun seem to slow down or stop moving , so that the day appears to be fifty hours long.
 Then it makes the monk keep looking out of his window and forces him to go bounding out of his cell to examine the sun to see how much longer it is to 3 o’clock, and to look round in all directions in case any of the brethren is there.
 Then it makes him hate the place and his way of life and his manual work It makes him think that there is no charity left among the brethren; no one is going to come and visit him.
 If anyone has upset the monk recently, the demon throws this in too to increase his hatred
 It makes him desire other places where he can easily find all that he needs and practice an easier, more convenient craft After all, pleasing the Lord is not dependent on geography, the demon adds; God is to be worshipped everywhere.
 It joins to this the remembrance of the monk’s family and his previous way of life, and suggests to him that he still has a long time to live, raising up before his eyes a vision of how burdensome the ascetic life is. So, it employs, as they say, every [possible] means to move the monk to abandon his cell and give up the race. No other demon follows on immediately after this one but after its struggle the soul receives in turn a peaceful condition and unspeakable joy.
13. THE thought of vainglory is especially subtle and it easily infiltrates those whose lives are going well,
[A] wanting to publish their efforts
[B] and go hunting for glory among men;
 it raises up a fantasy of demons shouting,
 and women being healed,
 and a crowd of people wanting to touch the monk’s clothes.
 It prophesies priesthood for him, and sets the stage with people thronging at his door, calling for him, and even though he resists he will be carried off under constraint.
Then, having raised him up with empty hopes like this, it suddenly leaps away and leaves him, abandoning him to be tempted either by the demon of pride or by the demon of gloominess, which brings on thoughts contrary to the previous hopes
Sometimes it also hands over to the demon of sexual immorality the man who, a moment before, was being carried off forcibly to be made a holy priest.
14. THE demon of pride conducts the soul to its worst fall. It urges it:
 not to admit God’s help
 and to believe that the soul is responsible for its own achievements,
 and to disdain the brethren as fools because they do not all see this about it.
This demon is followed by:
 anger and
 sadness and
 utter insanity and madness, and visions of mobs of demons in the air.
The following are the original twelve steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous to whom grateful thanks and acknowledgement and attribution ( summary):-
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
With grateful acknowledgement to the "Big Book"
Another Non-Monastic voice
"John Ogilvie an account of His Life and Death" by W.E. Brown
(from the scaffold the saint in dialogue with the crowd) “.....( for) religion alone?" "Of that alone," cried the people." Very well," triumphantly replied Ogilvie (and Browne ( a friend nearby) joined in his triumph), " that is enough; on the head of religion alone I am condemned and for that I would willingly and joyfully pour forth even a hundred lives. Take from me that one which I have, and make no delay, for my religion you shall never take from me."A man named Abercromby, a friend of Ogilvie's, had accompanied the latter to the scaffold. He urged Ogilvie to suffer his wrongs patiently, taking his attention probably from the people to his approaching end. "The more wrongs the better”, John Browne heard him say, and noticed that the two were busy with a last colloquy. The officers were impatient at this; by their command Abercromby was flung from the scaffold on to the people below, and orders were given to bind the prisoner's hands. Ogilvie, knowing that the end had come, flung his rosary to the crowd. By chance it fell, not where Browne or the boy Heygate stood, but in another direction. A young Hungarian noble, a Calvinist, happened to be in Glasgow on this February 28th (in the old uncorrected calendar) The crowd and the excitement had drawn him to the place of execution. The noble bearing, the haughty courage of the prisoner had attracted the young man. Caring nothing for religion he was present, however, as at a spectacle, when suddenly the rosary struck him in the chest. Immediately the people around, whom he supposed (probably from their sympathetic bearing) to be Catholics, flung themselves upon him, eager to snatch even one of the beads as a relic of the man who was to die. From that moment Jean de Eckersdorff (so was the young man named) (he) knew no peace of mind until he found it in the Catholic Faith. Ogilvie's last gesture was to add yet one more to the converts for whom he lived and died.”
FROM THE OBLATEMASTER'S DESK
Our three voices are , the first, a very monastic basic text which lies behind much of St John Cassian's conferences and is a guide for Christian's in their warfare against sin and satan and pilgrimage to God. The second is a modern , classic non - monastic text for those battling the gravitational pull of sin following much the same wisdom as the desert -monk fathers who thought they had left all that behind -- and learnt better.
The third text is from the Life of Jesuit St. John Ogilvie whose 400th anniversary of Martyrdom is this year with a national pilgrimage to Keith on July the 4th -- please note! He died for the primacy of religion over the state. Right and wrong comes from God not parliament! Don't be confused by the labels Calvinist-- Catholic. It was a victory for God, conversion of life and prayer ( symbolised by the rosary). Everyone who has a reason for living has a religion. We honour God by aligning our wills with His as long as His gift of life should last without ever saying " the gift is Yours , You have it back!"
Suffering and especially sin, the hardest kind of suffering, can make of our lives an ordeal. Only life lived hand in hand with the Maker Whose gift it is can be a life of peace and happiness at the deepest level.
Prayer is the answer to life's difficulties!
As the prologue of St Benedict's Rule says " What could be sweeter than that voice of God saying when I call "Here I am!!" What could be sweeter indeed! We (the monks) all hope to be at Keith when Bishop Hugh is preaching on the 4th of July (a Saturday)--- See you there on that historic day which is a celebration of God before all secularism, religion before materialism!
Our own website is www.Pluscardenabbey.org and it has a section "Oblates" which has all the oblate letters of Pluscarden for the last eighteen years or so-- the most recent- mid-2011 onwards are on the link which you click onto on the oblate part of the website where it says"HERE" or use this link valeofstandrew.blogspot
Books and Media
The Smile of a Ragpicker The Life of Satoko Kitahara - Convert and Servant of the Slums of Tokyo
Author: Paul Glynn Format: Paperback Product Code:SMR-P ISBN978-1-58617-881-9
Following his acclaimed work, A Song for Nagasaki, in which Fr. Paul Glynn told the powerful story of Dr. Nagai, a Christian convert of remarkable courage and compassion who ministered to victims of the atomic bomb attack on his city, The Smile of a Ragpicker brings us the heroic story of Satoko Kitahara, a young, beautiful woman of wealth who gave up her riches and comfort to be among the ragpickers in the Tokyo slums. Motivated by her newfound faith in Christ, she plunged into the life of the poor, regardless of the consequences. If you want to understand the incarnation then this comes at it in an untheological way. We had it in the ref--- great!
Reminder: the “UK Oblates Team have a website www.benedictine-oblates.net that often has very useful information and articles and advertises events.
From Fr. Ambrose launched a new website: www.kristobuasemonastery.org
Prayer Intentions For our oblate Bishop Richard Moth who is now installed as Archbishop of Arundel and Brighton ( formerly Bishop of the forces) For Oblate George Brand our diocesan MC and as a Papal Knight is MC at so many big events-- God's blessing on him. For our new Oblates David James Tringham DOMINIC Miller, Eileen MARGARET Fitzpatrick, Kathleen MARY MAGDALENE Hoy, Rev. Angus Robert MAELRHUBBHA Macleod, Alexander Graham John ANSELM Maclean; new novice oblate, Fr. Andrew Clark, John Gleeson. For Oblate Margaret Kessack just awarded the Bene Merenti medal for her work as an organist-- we could second that at the Abbey for training our organists! For Br. Peter Morris now Solemnly professed as a Redemptorist and now Deacon Peter Morris-- blessings.
For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions. For vocations to Pluscarden-- for Br Mina who is from Egypt a country of persecution and is a pre--postulant with us. St Mary's, Petersham and Kristo Buase. Br. Adrian and Br. Finbar, health.
Please pray for Br. Gabriel who is in his Silver Jubilee year of Profession
For Brothers Joseph and John who have come to us from Tien Phuoc priory in Vietnam for two years for their English and for a broadening of their monastic experience.
For the repose of the soul Glynis Stranraer-Mull who died suddenly last week - and for her family-- She was seen frequently at the Abbey.
Please pray for our sick Oblates and their relatives & especially Albert Paterson ( whose 90 year old mother is in hospital after a fall), Eileen Grant's son Robin recovering , Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie, , Mrs. Allie Brien, Mrs. Alice Sullivan who is 90 on the 21st August. Brigitte Mackay and Maggie Barrett, Paul Miller, Margaret Rawcliffe( and for the repose of her sister Veronica’s soul) , Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Gail Schmitz continued improvement, Fiona Sellar, Martin's wife Mary, Maurice Dufficy, recovering, Maureen’s sister Dorothy, Leonora, Graham Dunbar, Alison Donald, Beth Fraser and her husband Chris, Paul Costello health, Bob Clark, Nick MaCrae’s son, Martin MaCrae battling illness, Dr. David Paterson and his wife Angela, Jacqui’s daughter Sally, Hester, Poppy Sinclair, Ian Brodie and his twin brother, for Pat Foster, Johan Baillie, James and Helen Timoney--Just had their Diamond Wedding Anniversary and James his 87th Bithday! Congratulations and prayers-- both very ill, Carolyn and Marshall Boardman and especially their son Macolm, Martin Farrelly and especially for his wife Val -- recent heart attack , David Braine of Aberdeen, foremost philosopher in Scotland( read his books if you are up to the challenge!), Susan Stephen, Evelyn needs prayers for illness, 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. Also John McKinlay Golden wedding anniversary.
Also late extra--- prayers that A96 dual carriageway may avoid our valley, if it is built. ALSO RIP Connie Reid, Oblate.
• Oblate Retreat here at Pluscarden first weekend of Lent February 2015 led by Fr. Abbot, our Abbot Anselm, as before a great success-- thank you Fr. Abbot! Do mark it in your diary for the first Weekend of the First Sunday of Lent for 2016.
The inter-monasterial exchange here at Pluscarden in May was also a success - -many thanks to all who supported it in so many ways, not least the meal in the village Hall! ( Thank you Fr. Mark and Br. Michael, Colin and Rita and Eileen and of course Fr. Martin McLaughlin and the Prinknash oblates!)
Could you let me know if you would ever want another Summer Oblate weekend at Pluscarden as before?
5th National U.K. inter-oblate Retreat is taking place 4-6 September 2015 at Douai Abbey. The theme is ‘What does it mean to be an Oblate in 2015?’ Fr Gervase, the Oblate Director at Douai, will act as Facilitator. Please contact Stephen Day (Oblate of Prinknash Abbey) for more details email email@example.com
or telephone 01453 860367. Spaces are limited.
•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 as annoounced.
Contact Pat Carrigan firstname.lastname@example.org
•St. Monica’s Chapter, Thurso. Contact Jane Coll. "Scaraben”, Westside, Dunnet, Thurso, Caithness, KY14 8YD. Phone 01847 851467 as annonounced.
Aberdeen meetings in abeyance.
•New Chapter—St.Mirin’s Chapter. Date: 1st Saturday each month. Time 2-4 pm. Venue: Hall 2, St Mirin’s Cathedral, Cathedral Precincts, Incle Stret Paisley, PA1 1HR—secure parking there within Cathedral enclosure. Farther information: St Mirin Chapter, Benedictine Oblate Group, c/o Campbell Murdoch, Fircroft, Knockbuckle Road, Kilmacolm, PA13 4JT m: 07810 350006 email@example.com
UGANDAN SEMINARIAN. UPDATE JANUARY 2015.
The Pluscarden Oblates continue to support Josaphat Christian our 22 year old Seminarian. He is currently involved in Pastoral work as part of his formation for the Archdiocese or Tororo in Eastern Uganda about 130 miles northeast of Kampala. His present parish is in the village of Magale were he had to learn the local tribal language for the Bagisu tribe. He appears to be very popular with the Parish Priest who seems to enjoy Josaphat’s culinary skills together with his ability in the music ministry.
He has recently spent a few days in Convocation for Seminarians allowing him to receive teachings and to meet other Seminarians.
Josaphat will remain in the Parish till August and with good reports, he will enter the Major Seminary in September this year.
We continue to receive communication from Josaphat and also from Sr. Catherine at the Benedictine Priory in Tororo who keeps us fully informed.
Please keep him in your prayers.
If you are called to sponsor Josaphat in any way please contact me, Paul Costello at 4, Commercial Road, Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 9BD Tel:- 01358-721512 or e-mail:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send me your email ( again!) if you would be quite happy to receive this oblate letter by email RATHER than by post. You can still have it by post if that is your preference!!
When this letter appears by post and on the website there may be additions or alterations or corrections-- I'm rushing to get this out since it might almost seem late-- I'm following the quoted dictum of my mentor that I cannot begin to imitate I should hasten to add -- was he quoting Chesterton " If a thing's worth doing it's worth doing badly!"-- if I didn't follow that dictum you would never get another oblate letter from me(Notice it is an Oblate Letter not an Oblate Newsletter I leave the news to our magazine "Pluscarden Benedictines" to which hope you subscribe ( Fr. Bede is the Editor if you want to)
May the Lord's Face shine upon you this Summer!
Yours in Christ and SPNB