Oblate Letter 35 - Michaelmas Autumn 2017


Nothing Dearer than Christ+

Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines,

Elgin, Moray,      Scotland. IV30 8UA.

Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258

Email oblatemaster@gmail.com and


Website www.pluscardenabbey.org

DMB series No 35

MichaelmasAutumn 2017


Smaragdus of Saint-MihielCommentary on The Rule of Saint Benedict: Book Three

 "The good shepherd is Christ, who said: I am the good shepherd.* And again he says of himself: The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

    The abbot has to imitate his loving example and love his flock of sheep, in other words his monks,just as he too loved the human race, to such an extent that he delivered himself up to death for its sake; and rising from the dead he raised it to heaven and joined it with the angelic choir, and thus made whole again the number of his sheep.

For the abbot too has to correct the erring monk, and having corrected and at the same time loved him, has to join him with the band of the rest of his monks. And then he really imitates the one who, leaving the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains, went to look for the one that had strayed. He took such compassion on its weakness that he deigned to place it on his sacred shoulders and thus carry it (Lk 15:4-5) back to the flock. 

The hundred sheep is the complete number of angels and men. Now one strayed, in other words the human race sinned. He left the ninety-nine in the mountains, in other words the nine choirs of angels in heaven, and came to look for the one in a vale of tears. When it has been found, there is more joy over it than over the ninety-nine that had not strayed."


“On the mountain the Lord provides”. After six weeks “on the road”, sleeping on church hall floors,  in barns and fields—as well as presbyteries-- and once in a mansion house--- giving Holy Mass to the pilgrim 1230 walkers  in the English and Scottish parts of their VaL De Choux to Pluscarden walking pilgrimage and then returning to my day-long duties of refectorian, porter and stipendiary I was wondering how I would ever get out this third quarter Oblate Letter when, after reading at lunchfrom the refectory lectern I paused outside while the grace after meals was sung inside and sat my weary limbs down in the slype library to mark the place in the book for the following day when lo and behold my eye fell upon a newish looking addition to the library on the adjacent shelf. The spine of the fat, glossy paperback read “ Smaragdus of St Mihiel: Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict”. I thought to myself “ I have never heard mention of this commentary and yet sure enough it was 568 pages long – hardly insignificant in length alone. So despite my weariness I dipped in and on my third dip I came across the above passage.

There was a freshness and a newness about Smaragdus take on the parable of the ninety-nine sheep left on the mountainside for the sake of the straying sheep. The whole flock is all the living beings, angels and men, and men are the stray sheep in their entirety. Humanity is the one stray sheep for which the vast,  nine choirs of countless  angels are left for the sake of man’s redemption. What a vast and all-encompassing vision.

At a stroke Smaragdus, following the early Fathers of the Church places man’s redemption in a cosmic context where all mankind have gone astraywithin a creation where—to change the metaphor—man is the black sheep. God in His love makes an option for poor, poverty-stricken humankind amidst the talented wealth of His obedient creation which obediently praises and glorifies Him. God in Christ comes to restore us to the circle of grace and praise and glory.

From tiredness and weariness my treasure-trove in Smaragdus’ commentary uplifted me to new energy by its freshness, breadth and timelessness. Here is a monk writing for monks and all associated with and inspired by monastic life. Here is a monkpassing on the pearl of the Gospel hidden in the field of the Rule which he has purchased by the faithfulness of his life and vision. It is little treasures like this which once discovered give new food and vigour to the journeying soul, journeying in Christ and to Christ. I would put this book on a par for the coenobite, the monk, on a par with “Alone With God” by Blessed Paul Giustiniani for the hermit. By the grace of Christ may we the straying sheep be restored to the circle of praise and glorification of God the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Amen


Amen “Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict” by Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel, translated by David Barry O.S.B. wit h introductory essays by Terence Kardong O.S.B, Jean Leclercq O.S.B. and Daniel M. La Corte ( the book worth reading for these essays alone!)—Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan. 2007. ISBN 978-0-87907-212-4 U.S. $49.95(new!)

For those who want to come to the Rule with fresh eyes and a listening heart


Continued prayer for peace in the world based on justice and the God Who is love.

For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions.

For Deacon Pat Carriganordained Deacon by Archbishop Leo Cushlie at the Cathedral in Edinburgh 16th September.

For Deacon Tony Schmitz and his Wife Gail who renewed their marriage vows on their 50th. Wedding Anniversary.

The repose of the soul of Oblate Grant Farley-Sutton and for his family.

For Prior Bede. For Fr. Ambrose Flavellnow in charge of Shetland. For Br. Cyprian-Prosper here from  KB for monastic studies.

For vocations to Pluscarden especially Ben and Ronan and St Mary's monastery, Petersham and Kristo Buase Priory.

For all our novice and postulant Oblates. Please pray for the health of the Very Rev Mgr. Robert Provost McDonald, Vicar General Fr. Stuart Chalmers, Rev. Christopher Mayo, Fr. Bob Halshaw, Albert Paterson. For Siobhan Gilmour's husband, for Mrs. Allie Brien, Mrs. Alice Sullivan after a severe fall, Gitte Mackay, Kay Fernandez, Leonora Duson, Margaret Rawcliffe, Robert Cantafio’s mother Margharita, Mrs. Gertrude Corker, herself and her two daughters, Joe Barrett heart attack Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Fiona Sellar, Johan(Joy) Baillie, 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, Ian and especially Frederick Brodie--the twins, for Pat Foster, Malcolm Boardman & all the family, Martin Farrelly and especially for his wife Val, and also for Peter Wynne, Susan Stephen, Cindy’s husband, Danielle & her son Osyp, 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.


2017 4th International Congress of Benedictine Oblates 4th-13th November 2017 in Rome- report in due course—see Congress website if you still want to apply. Please pray for this too.

Dates for your Diaries

•                Oblate retreats Pluscarden 2018

•                February 16th -19th-Fri-Mon.2018

•                August 17th-20th—Fri-Mon 2018

Book with guestmaster for those dates .


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 Deacon 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 and as announced.

St. Peter's chapter St. Peter's Catholic Church, Castlegate, Aberdeen e-mail brianbmilne2647@gmail.com Brian Milne convener phone 01224 485781 mobile 07443032289 -- due to poor health   Brian is encouraging this chapter and any of our Oblates in a similar position or living far from other oblatesto join an e-chapter – that of Oblate John McKinlay—the “Benedictine Prayer Circle "The idea is to help oblates who might feel lonely or isolated to connect, through prayer, with their brother and sister oblates, and so be part of the Oblate brotherhood of prayer. The prayer schedule is taken from the Benedictine Prayer Book – a short breviary, based of course, on the rule of St Benedict, and will be made available to all oblates who wish to sign up, and make a commitment to regular prayer. There is opportunity for personal intentions, within the schedule, and in this way we are praying together for our own as well as the intentions of our fellow oblates.It is hoped that we join in prayer as an Oblate community at midday on Friday each week. Those who wish may pray together on a daily basis if they so wish. The prayers will only take 5 minutes of our time, so it is not arduous! If interested please contact John G McKinlay by email for further details, and/or a copy of the prayer schedule:                jgjm07@yahoo.co.uk         

St Meinrad’s Chapter—A new chapter meeting monthly at Dysart Carmel—for details contact Mary Murphy                                 marymurphy118@gmail.com

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:

Our sponsored seminarians

Josaphat and Charles, are doing very well.   Please pray for both of these young men, and also for Sr.Catherine who does so much in Uganda to ensure that our support is effective. If you would like to help support this work please call Campbell Murdoch on 07810 350006 (or email jcmurdoch@yahoo.co.uk - the normal amount is £10-£20 per month).

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Most glorious Prince of the Heavenly Armies,

Saint Michael the Archangel,

Defend us in “our battle against principalities and powers,

 against the rulers of this world of darkness,

against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Eph. 6.12)

Come to the assistance of men Whom God has created to His likeness

and Whom He has redeemed at a great price

from the tyranny of the devil.

The Holy Church venerates you as her

Guardian and protector;

To you, the Lord has entrusted the souls of the

redeemed to be led into heaven.

Pray therefore the God of Peace to crush

Satan beneath our feet,

That he may no longer retain men captive and

Do injury to the Church.

Offer our prayers to the Most High,

That without delay they may draw His Mercy down upon us;

Take hold of”the dragon, the old serpent,

which is the devil and Satan.”

Bind him and cast him into the bottomless pit

“that he may no longer seduce the nations.” (Rev.20:2-3)

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

                  With  blessings ,

                           In S.P.N.B.,

                                            In  the  love  of  Christ,

                                                                                      Fr. Martin

Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us!