“ Nothing Dearer than Christ"
Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin,Moray, Scotland.IV308UA.
Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258
DMB series No 31
Our Lady of SorrowsAutumn 2016
A sermon of St Bernard(from the Roman Office of Readings 15th September)
His mother stood by the cross
“The martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted. He went on to say to Mary: And your own heart will be pierced by a sword.
Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.
Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!
Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.
Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.
FROM THE OBLATEMASTER'S DESK
Many a year I have called the third quarter issue of the Oblate Letter either the Triumph of or the Exaltation of the Cross since the 14th September falls within its ambit but this year Our Lady of Sorrows of the 15th seems most fitting since our Mother of Mercy is the key to our fruitful keeping of the Year of Mercy because to use the word of the Responsory of the Roman Office in the Office of readings “she took her stand beside His cross”---
“V/When they reached the place called the Skull R/ they crucified Jesus there, but his mother took her stand beside his cross.
V/As she stood there, a sword of anguish pierced her blessed heart R/ but his mother took her stand beside his cross.” ---“She TOOK HER STAND”—there is something almost military about this expression. Our Lady was (is) an immovable cohort, bulwark, vanguard of love between our Lord and the darts of hatred.
In this Year of Mercy there have been many modern martyrs martyred on Calvary’s throughout the Middle east, in Africa, Pakistan, “in the face” of the world and in broad daylight and even at the Altar of God in France.
Our souls are designed to be the dwelling-place of God—your soul, my soul. We are God’s creation and handiwork.
To kill a human being is blasphemy against the Incarnation. God desires through His Son’s Precious Blood to bring all of us into the Home of the Trinity, dwelling-in and being in-dwelt.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”(Eph. 2.13-18) May our Mother in Christ help all hearts closed in on themselves to open and say “Fiat” to God’s love and find life.
As St Bernard points out not only did our Lady see her Son, the fruit of her womb, crucified, but her God. Our Lady has experienced that total self-emptying which only God achieves in the heart of the Holy Trinity. She has experienced in as much as a human being can, the total self-giving of God in the inner life of the Trinity.
It is only our Lady that can accompany us to all the limits of our life and beyond those limits, to all the places that turn our hearts to wax.
“The sign, set up for all men on Calvary, will not cease to be contradicted, so long as it does not cease to be visible. Not in metaphor but in painful reality Mary will see the continuance of Calvary in the Mystical Body of Christ. She will see how the Church, in its own way, but unmistakably, is Christ continued amongst men; how men's reactions to it are exactly the reactions they showed to him. As during his Passion she will pray, first that the Father may forgive her children who "crucify again to themselves the Son of God, making him a mockery" and then that more and more souls may come to assuage the undying thirst of Christ crucified. She will stand* in spirit by the cross so long as there
is one human soul still to be saved.”(The Seven Swords of Mary”—Gerard Corr O.S.M.)*my emphasis
Let us pray.
O God, when Your Son was hung high on the cross
You willed that His Mother should stand by Him and suffer with Him.
Grant to your Church that she may share, through Mary, in Christ’s passion
and deserve to share also in His resurrection.
[We make our prayer] through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. (Collect for Our Lady of Sorrows)
BOOKS AND MEDIA
Pluscarden Benedictines: Are you not a subscriber? Write “The Editor” (Address of Pluscarden Abbey as above)-subscription £10 with your address—or let the Editor know if you can’t manage that but would like to receive it.
God or Nothing—A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat—Translated(from the French) by Michael J. fuller—Ignatius Press San Francisco-2015—ISBN 978-1-62164-050-9. What an excellent book—very thought provoking wisdom from the learned Cardinal Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship. Ten chapters—each food for thought and discussion—useful on your own or in your local Oblate Chapter or group?—Take you through the Winter months! Stimulating!—Encouraging!
Seventy-Four Tools For Good Living” by Michael Casey O.C.S.O.—reflections on the fourth chapter of St. Benedict’s Rule--Liturgical Press Collegeville Minnesota ISBN 978-0-8146-3720-3A Scholarly, readable book of deeply lived and experienced monastic life for monks, oblates and all Christians and all people who want to know how to live according to the Plan of the Creator.
For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions.
For the full success of Oblate Lord Kevin Shinkwin's Bill in the House of Lords for The Protection of the Equal Rights of Pre-born Handicapped Persons(and therefore of all the handicapped).
For the newly elected Benedictine Primate of the whole order, Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey U.S.A.(andAbbot Notker Wolff who ably served several terms of office)
For The Very Reverend Prior Bede Kierney (former guestmaster here) now Prior of Kristo Buase monastery Ghana and for Fr. Ambrose Flavell(former Oblatemaster here) who as Superior ably nursed the Priory to independence and served several terms of office.
For vocations to Pluscarden (especially the ten who thanks to your prayers took part in our monastic experience weekend) and for all our aspirants. St Mary's monastery, Petersham and Kristo Buase Priory.
Br. Adrian, Fr. Matthew and Br. Finbar, health.
For the repose of the souls of Oblates Roberta Gaitan and Paul Miller and James Timoney’s Wife Helen.
ForGod’s blessing on Brothers Joseph and John who have just returned to Tien Phuoc Priory in Vietnam after two years studying English.
Those who have just made their Oblation: John Gleeson, David SIMON OF CYRENE Muir and Eddie FRANCIS OF ASSISI Sands. For Karl and Gabriele Panther who havetrasnsfered their Oblation to Pluscarden Abbey.
Pat Carrigan in Fife preparing for Diaconate next year, to be made Acolyte this September and for his Wife Pauline's intentions.
Peter Aitken who has just been awarded a diocesan medal.
Please pray for the health of the the Very Rev Mgr. Robert Provost McDonald, Rev. Christopher Mayo, Fr. Bob Halshaw, Paul Costello, Albert. For Siobhan Gilmour's husband, for Mrs. Allie Brien, Mrs. Patricia Robertson-very poorly, Mrs. Alice Sullivan, Gitte Mackay and Joe and Maggie Barrett, Leonora Duson, Margaret Rawcliffe, Robert Cantafio’s Mother Margharita, Mrs. Gertrude Corker’s two daughters, Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Gail Schmitz, Fiona Sellar, Johan(Joy) Baillie, Susan Carson-Rowlandand her husband Mike, Martin's wife Mary, Graham Dunbar, Beth and ChrisFraser, Bob Clark, Nick MaCrae’s son, Martin MaCrae battling illness, Dr. David Paterson and his wife Angela and granddaughter Grace, Bryan Miller, Jacqui’s daughter Sally, Hester du Plessis, Poppy Sinclair, John Gleeson hip operation, Ian and Frederick Brodie--the twins, for Pat Foster, Malcolm Boardman, Martin Farrelly and especially for his wife Val, and also for Peter Wynne Sunday, 8.00 am altar-server at Mass here for 40 years awaiting an operation. David Braine, philosopher, Susan Stephen, Evelyn, Violet and Sheila and all friends of the Abbey and for all Oblates, and all the sick, and those who care for them--and for Josaphat and Charles our sponsored seminarians. Events
Julian Group Monthly at the Abbey. contemplative prayer group meet monthlyon the first Tuesday of each month after Mass here. You are welcome. Silent prayer inspired by the spirituality of Venerable Julian ofNorwich.
This Year 2016:-17-20 October: 6th UK National Oblates’ Retreat at Mount St Bernard Abbey led by Abbot Erik Varden and Sr. Laurentia Johns. Please register throughUKOT website--for details: www.benedictine-oblates.netor Mrs. Pam Morey 1 Lypiatt View, Bussage, Stroud, GL6 8DA. Englandor email email@example.com
2017--Pluscarden Oblates Lenten Retreat led By Fr. Abbot the first weekend of Lent 3rd-6th March next year. Put it in your diaries please-- and you could always ask the guestmaster to pencil you in.
2017 next year4th International Congress of Benedictine Oblates 4th-10th November 2017 in Rome- Theme " A Way Froward--The Benedictine community in Movement"--"Three days, a wonderful opportunity for reflection and meeting Oblates from other monasteries."--Fr. Martin: I think we are allowed at least 2 delegates--we have one already--John Mckinlay. So we needanother -- and you can always go on the short leet -- just let me know-- again you can get more information possibly from Mrs. Pam Morey contact as above. As you know I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are looking at our website just now the @ is substituted with AT for all email addresses for technical reasons! ( if I remember to do it!)
The Pentecost Lectures—next year 2017 –given by the well-known theologian Fancesca Murphy. Book with guestmaster Br. Thomas or come opn the days.
2017Next Year5th June-3rd September 1230 pilgrimage (sponsored)
-- in aid of South range appeal. Once in a lifetime opportunity—don’t miss your chance to be a part of it.
Pluscarden 1230 Pilgrimage-please register to take part as soon as possible! Contact Postal Address and full details:-
Pluscarden Abbey Appeal Office
216 High Street
Elgin IV30 1BA
Phone: Tel. +44 (0)1343 555038 Mob. 07415 971024 www.appealpluscardenabbey.org.uk (with a web form to register if you prefer)
· St Mungo'schapter, Glasgow:-We meet on the second Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. Contact can be made via Peter Aitken. Tel. 0141 427 2084, or via Graham Dunbar at 0141 558 4323 as group Secretary and Treasurer.
· St Margaret’s Chapter, Dunfermline monthly meetings as announced, All details contact Pat Carrigan email@example.com
· St. Monica’s Chapter, Thurso. Contact Jane Coll. "Scaraben”, Westside, Dunnet, Thurso, Caithness, KY14 8YD. Phone 01847 851467 and as announced.
· St. Peter's chapter of oblates Aberdeen:- next meeting-- was Wednesday 6th September 2016 then at regular intervals at St. Peter's Catholic Church, Castlegate, Aberdeen. at 5pm. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org that's my personal e-mail (Brian Milne convener), phone 01224 485781 mobile 07443032289
· St. Mirin’s Chapter. Paisley. Date: 1st Saturday each month. Time 2-4 pm. Venue: Hall 2, St Mirin’s Cathedral, Cathedral Precincts, Incle Street 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
UGANDAN SEMINARIAN UPDATE
JOSAPHAT, our Ugandan Seminarian, is now well into the second semester of his first year at Major Seminary in Gulu in the North of Uganda. He will spend three full years here studying theology and philosophy. He will then go on to National Seminary to study theology.
We are now supporting a second student. CHARLES has started at junior seminary, St Peter's College in Tororo. Tororo is also Josaphat's home town. Charles plans to follow the same path as Josaphat.
Without the prayers and financial support of the Oblates, these young men would not be at seminary. If you would be interested in helping us support Josaphat and Charles (this would entail a monthly standing order of between £10 - £15) please contact Campbell Murdoch, Fircroft, Knockbuckle Road, Kilmacolm, PA13 4JT. Tel: 07810 350006 or email: email@example.com
“She took her stand beside His cross”---
Our Lady of Sorrows
PRAY FOR US!
May this Year of Mercy Remain Ever a Door of Grace for Each of Us and God’s Whole Beloved Humanity
IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST
P.S. Please find also enclosed
1. The yearly Oblate/Friendrenewal form for you to return-- if only for contact details update/confirmation please. ( confirms you're getting the letter too)
2. A poster for an appeal concert-- send to someone who can go if you can't please! Deadline 7th October -- the concert pianist is comingSPECIALLY for us from CANADA so hope for a full house please!