Nothing Dearer than Christ
Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin ,Moray, Scotland. IV30 8UA.
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DMB series No 34
Easter Pentecost Summer 2017
MONASTIC VOICE—Abbot Dennis Huerre
The Monastery as Our Home
The Benedictine vision of Christ knocking at the door of the monastery has the divine beauty that makes us realize that our monastery is the house of God, while the double liberty of being human and Christian helps us to see the monastery as the earthly home of humans seeking the liberty that is essential if we are to hear God and obey him through offering hospitality to anyone he sends: pagans, tramps, rogues, unbelievers, etc. By sending them, God himself offers us that liberty which we are seeking. In this way guests have a most important part to play in our conversio, a point Benedict underlines when he remarks that long-staying guests are in an excellent position to make comments that will either help the abbot in his own search for God or suggest improvements that could be made. There are probably very few monks who haven't at some time learned something helpful from a guest. This is perfectly normal. If Christ has been received, the Word will bear fruit.
When I am a guest in a monastery I always listen to the bidding prayers at their liturgy, and I have always been impressed by the extent to which communities are really praying for others in the presence of God.
On one occasion I heard a guest suggest that the monks also ask their guests to pray for the community, and he was perfectly right. After all, our profession is made in public and so our conversio can't be just our own private affair; it is something that concerns the whole Church, and the prayer of the guest for us is as valuable and necessary as our prayers for him. Indeed, we have to rely on the Church for our Conversio just as much as the Church relies on us for the Conversio of all Christians. This is one way we can add a flavour of simple communal love to our practice of monastic hospitality.
Every meeting with someone else means the death of a particular me and the birth of a new and truer one. To think about this can never be a waste of time. It is even true of all the meetings that have ever gone to make up human history , and it is true of that meeting of all things in Christ. This is why every Benedictine should be ceaselessly engaged in forming, through his ceaseless intimacy with God, a personal capacity to offer others that hospitality without which we face the terrible alternative of self-centredness.
Pentecost, which is the occasion for this letter, is a moment particularly marked by the two movements of recollection and hospitality. For those of us who are overly prompt in answering the bell, it is a time to consider the risks of welcoming a guest to a house deserted by God; and for those who are happier when the house is empty of guests, a time to consider if Christ is truly with them behind their locked doors.
Whichever group we belong to, we must either present ourselves in our character as monks or we shall be accused of misleading both the Church and the world.
Many thanks indeed to all who have ever offered hospitality to the temporary guest who signs himself,
Congregation of(then Subiaco(now Subiaco-Cassinese….our own))
FROM THE OBLATEMASTER'S DESK
“I rejoiced when they said let us go to God’s house, and now our feet are standing within your gates O Jerusalem”—I must confess again to getting rather excited when we sing these words from Terce each weekday at Mass after receiving Holy Communion here in our Abbey. We have entered Jerusalem because Jerusalem has entered the gates of our bodies and souls! How could we not rejoice? How could we not sing psalms, now and in eternity? At such a time you really do not want to stop singing psalms—and so it will be in eternity. This is life; this is living, now and in eternity. Who needs farther proof of eternal realities? Here we make connection with eternity and the Heavenly liturgy.
It all begins with doorways and guests. Abbot Dennis Huerre helped us to reflect on this aspect of the monastery as our home. At the end of his letter he reminds us all, monks, oblates, guests—that at some point and in a way at all points we are all guests in this home that is our monastery. We have all had to knock at (or ring the bell of!) the guesthouse door perhaps with anticipation or trepidation.
But even some of our day visitors experience the joy of psalm 121 on passing through the big, iron portals of the gateway; they experience the peace though they cannot express it—they are caught up in a movement of prayer though they may not know what prayer is.
Which among us does not sometimes have anticipation or at least trepidation at the thought of sooner or later crossing the portal from this life to the next? Every exit is also an entrance or rather every entrance is also an exit—we do not go backwards through a doorway but leave every exit behind us. Life has a dynamism towards entrances and leaves behind exits.
From the first moment of our existence we are guests invited into the home of God’s creation but always in the wider context of God as our Home. Called into existence from the Mind of God by His Love to live with Him, enjoying Him in His creation, our souls have already passed though the portal of creation ex nihilo to existence with God. This existence with and in God’s love is the primary reality.
We are already in the guesthouse! But the guesthouse is orientated towards the monastery that is our home whether guest or monk or oblate.
In the liturgy we pass through the second portal to the other side about which we exercise our anticipation or trepidation. Our God is a God of entrances not exits. God calls into being and then He calls us onward and onward by imitation and encouragement to greater and greater fullness of being even to sharing as Sons and Daughters in His Being as our Home in Christ when He is all in all.
“I rejoiced when they said let us go to God’s house and now our feet are standing within Your gates O Jerusalem! The Mass, the Sacraments, Holy Communion! Oh wonderful life! The joy and wonder are never ending. But meanwhile like our 1230 pilgrims, as Saint Augustine would remind us, while singing our year-round Sunday “Alleluias!” we must keep walking , sing “Alleluia" but keep walking, walking and entering, walking and entering, ever farther and farther into the entranceways of our Homeland until we sing eternally “and now our feet are standing within your gates O Jerusalem!”—Oh Joy!!!—Oh Joy!!!
BOOKS AND MEDIA
“Letters to my Brothers and Sisters”—Living by the Rule of St Benedict, by Dennis Huerre( Abbot La Pierre-qui-Vire 1952-1978. Abbot President Subiaco Congregation in 1980) translated by Sylvester Houedad. ISBN 0-8146-2241-0. Liturgical Press, Minnesota, U.S.A.
From simple ideas that spark profound meditations to sparkling analysis that taxes the grey matter. Something, somewhere, for everyone.
For peace in the world based on justice and the God Who is love.
Thanksgiving, Dr James Merrick (novice) and his family received into the Catholic Church and for their spiritual and temporal welfare; having to move back to the U.S.A.
For all those involved in the 1230 pilgrimage
For the repose of the souls of Mrs. Joyce Conacher, Fr Giles’ mother, David Braine, philosopher, Alice Macleod’s husband and Susan Carson-Rowland’s husband Mike, Nick MaCrae’s wifeand Pamela Nelson-Shaw's brother, Duncan.
For the repose of the souls of Oblates: Paul Costello, Marie Rees, Maggie Barrett and Nora (Leila) McFarlane.
For Abbot Anselm's and Bishop Hugh's intentions.
For the continuing 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 Prior Bede.
For Fr. Ambrose Flavell now 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. For Pat Carrigan being ordained Deacon 16th September.
Please pray for the health of the Very Rev Mgr. Robert Provost McDonald, Rev. Christopher Mayo, Fr. Bob Halshaw, Janet Fraile, Albert Paterson. For Siobhan Gilmour's husband, for Mrs. Allie Brien, Mrs. Alice Sullivan, Gitte Mackay and for Joe and esp. Grant Farley-Sutton, Kay Fernadez, Margaret Kessack Leonora Duson, Margaret Rawcliffe, Robert Cantafio’s Mother Margharita, Mrs. Gertrude Corker, herself and her two daughters, Bob Barr, Brian Milne, Gail Schmitz, 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 5th June-3rd September 1230 pilgrimage
You can still join in! details:-Pluscarden Abbey Appeal Office,216 High Street,
Elgin IV30 1BA Phone: Tel. +44 (0)1343 555038 Mob. 07415 971024www.appealpluscardenabbey.org.uk
with a web form to register if you prefer.
2017 4th International Congress of Benedictine Oblates 4th-10th November 2017 in Rome- report in due course—see Congress website if you still want to apply as a “non-voting member”( no great drawback!)
Sunday 25th June--Annual Pilgrimage to Pluscarden:1.00pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Lady Chapel. 1.00-300 pm Confessions in St Benedict's Retreat, 3.30 Pilgrimage Mass and procession in honour of our Blessed Lady. Refreshments 12.00 noon onwards in marquee.
Dates for your Diaries
· Oblate retreats Pluscarden 2018
· February 16th -19th-Fri-Mon.
· August 17th-20th—Fri-Mon 2018
Book with guestmaster for those dates .
Experience life as a monk The Pluscarden Abbey Monastic Experience Weekend is a long-established event which takes place every summer. This summer—18th 21st August. The community of monks offer this special opportunity for participants to experience what monastic life is all about. The opportunity is suitable for single men who are Catholic, practise their faith and are aged 18-35. There is no charge for the weekend. Suggest it to someone you know!
· 900th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Magnus Pilgrimage To Orkney
28th-30th July Kirkwall--book in at firstname.lastname@example.org 01224 319154
Oblate Dr. Alison Gray giving one of the talks.
· “ Continuing formation”
Opportunity for continuing formationatSant'Anselmo, Rome. The program is called “Spirituality and Culture.” It will begin in November 2017, and it will be composed of eight two-week modules scheduled to be completed within two years. Successful academic participation will lead to a License in Spiritual Theology. But this program is for you, too! We think oblates will find the program perfectly suited to them, as it is very flexible. First, students are not required to pursue a degree. The program will offer continuing-education diplomas and European Masters’ degrees as well as the License. Second, students may take various combinations of instruction, as each module is self-contained. One may even take half a module during one year and complete it in the next cycle. The flexibility of the structure is enhanced by the impressive set of instructors. Apart from such names as Michael Casey and Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, the program is taught mostly by Benedictine monks of different cultures and traditions as well as some lay experts sensitive to monasticism. Finally, the themes of the program are modern and ancient, both very relevant and embedded in monastic tradition. We think you will find them helpful in navigating the cultural and social challenges of your life. Please visit our web site for more information. We believe you will be thrilled with the opportunity to deepen your spiritual formation here at the centre of Benedictine monasticism, to share the life of the monks of the college, and learn with other student-oblates, in the heart of the Eternal City. If you have any questions or need more information, please send an email to me at email@example.com My best wishes and prayers. See you in Rome - Fr. Bernard Sawicki OSB Coordinator The Monastic Institute Faculty of Theology
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.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 on:
for further details, and/or a copy of the prayer schedule.
St Meinrad’s Chapter—A new chapter meeting monthly at Dysart Carmel—for details contact Mary Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Sponsored Seminarians & Passing of Paul Costello RIP
Our sponsored seminarians, Josaphat and Charles, are doing very well. I have been speaking to Josaphat on email and he sends you all his love and thanks for your on-going and generous support. He is praying for us all. 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 email@example.com - the normal amount is £10-£20 per month). We have all been saddened by the passing of Paul Costello RIP. Paul did so much to establish the seminarian programme. Even although he had been seriously ill for some time, he was always on hand to give his support and wise counsel. Always cheerful and ncomplaining. Please pray for him, that our Lord will grant him eternal rest and that perpetual light will shine upon him forever.
Our Lady of Fatima Novena Prayer
for World Peace and Vocations
Heavenly Father, when the world was engulfed by war you sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children at Fatima exhorting them to prayer and penance so as to lead humanity back to your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
And so, praying before this pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima we implore you that through the infinite merits of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the peace of Christ may reign in our world that is so torn by violence and hatred.
And if it pleases You, we also ask that, through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, You may send more men to join this monastery of Our Lady and St John the Baptist and St Andrew at Pluscarden, to lead a life of prayer, penance and praise for the salvation of souls and for Your greater glory.
We ask this in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
In the love of Christ,
Our Lady ofFatima Pray for us.