Oblate Letter 16 Advent Christmas 2012

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 16
Advent Christmas--2012 
Monastic Voice
Father Abbot ( Anselm Atkinson OSB)
 Conference on “Monastic Values (from the Oblate Weekend 2012)
In this conference I intend to talk about monastic values. By values, I don’t mean things I live by, or feel anywhere close to living by. If I were only to talk about the things I live, then I wouldn’t have much to say. By values, I mean things which are true in such I way that they define reality for me, they constitute the world in which I live, they are literally things I stake my life on because if these things are not true then my world falls apart.

Values are not ideals. My values are already established. Even if they haven’t yet changed my life much yet, they are still my treasure; their loss would cost me something. Ideals cost nothing. They don’t exist outside my mind. Ideals represent the direction in which I would like my life to go. My values are things around which I have already begun to shape my life, at least in the sense that I am committed to them in such a way that if they go, my life will never have any shape.

A list of values is necessarily personal, even if we are talking about monastic values. I am talking about things I value. Speaking in this way provides a speaker with an opportunity to be personal, without boasting (because he not speaking about things he consistently does) and to speak to others without preaching to them or imposing a programme on them.

Well, the first value, of course, is Our Lord. Here I turn to the Rule. If you look up every place in the Rule where Christ is mentioned, St. Benedict speaks of Christ in the context of a living relationship between Christ and the monk. One could, I think, say more than that. St. Benedict never speaks of Christ simply “objectively”, as a theologian might; nor is Christ ever simply presented as the object of devout meditation, or even, precisely, as one to whom we pray. Nor is St. Benedict subjective in his presentation of Christ - in fact he is the very opposite. When Christ is named by St. Benedict, he seems to become a living presence, he is either the subject of the action, or he is a point of attraction. As point of attraction, he is true King for whom the monk fights, he is obeyed in the Abbot, he is welcomed in the guests and served in the sick, he is the principle of unity in the community - we are all one in Christ; he is the rock on which evil thoughts are dashed, and his love is the culmination of the ladder of humility. As subject, he is present to the monk’s mind as he struggles with evil thoughts, and the whole Rule ends by saying that with his help the monk will arrive.

For St. Benedict, it is as if Christ cannot be named without his becoming present. This, I think, is the first monastic value, what is most precious for a monk: the presence of Christ. Of course, this is true for every Christian; but it has a particular meaning for the monk and for the monastic community. If the monk loses sight of Christ even for a little while, his life loses all structure, all form. In other Christian vocations, there may be other things which can give life a certain false structure and meaning. Part of the monastic charism is that Christ’s presence is so necessary that remove him, and the whole thing dies. There may be something left, but it is very obviously a corpse - useless even from a purely human perspective.

            Good zeal

We are all driven by something, an inner fire. At first, in the monastery, we are inflamed by ideals. There comes a point at which either our ideals turn sour and embitter us, or we must choose to be inflamed by something else.This, I think, is the point at which we choose between good zeal and bitter zeal.
Chapter 72 of the Holy Rule, the chapter on good zeal, is the summit to which St. Benedict leads us through chapters 63-71 (63 Rank in the Community, 64 The Appointment of an Abbot, 65 The Prior of the Monastery, 66 Monastery Porters, 67 Brothers Sent on a Journery, 68 If a Brother is assigned the Impossible, 69 Nobody in the Monastery Should Presume to Defend Another, 70 Nobody Should Presume to Strike at Random, 71 They Should Be Obedient to One Another). Chapter 72 contains the reciprocal honours of chapter 63, the ‘love for the abbot’ of chapter 64, and the mutual obedience of chapter 71. There are also several phrases scattered through these chapters which seem to prepare us for chapter 72: 66:4: cum omni mansuetidine timoris Dei...cum fervore caritatis; 68:1-2: cum omni mansuetudine...patienter; and 68:4: ex caritate.
With its eight maxims leading to eternal life, chapter 72 is reminiscent of chapter 4, on the instruments of good works. In chapter 72 the list of good works is completely adapted to a monastic community. The maxims are phrased in the plural, not the singular, and the monks hope to be led “all together” by Christ to eternal life. The theme common to all eight maxims is the bond of love uniting the brothers with one another and with their abbot in Christ.

In dealing with mutual relationships, the chapter picks up from chapter 63, and in a sense corrects it. As in chapter 63, the relationships between the brothers combine reverence with love, but now love is clearly seen to predominate. The ascent from order and discipline to the triumph of charity in chapters 63-72 is reminiscent of chapter 7, On Humility, where the monk rises from fear to love.

It is significant that the specific regulations determining how mutual honour and obedience are to be rendered, given in chapters 63 and 71, are omitted in chapter 72. Previously obedience has only been given by the junior to the senior, and showing respect  has also been mostly in the same direction. Now it seems that honour and obedience are given to all without restriction. This cannot mean that the precise regulations given in the preceding chapters are now abrogated, but it does seem to imply that charity transcends laws and good order.

Good zeal is directed entirely to persons; to the brethren, to God, to Christ who is at the centre of the community leading us all together to everlasting life. Bad zeal also focuses on the brethren, but it is directed to something else, to my own goals, and it tries to shape everyone according to those goals. Good zeal loves others without asking any questions about them or imposing any obligations on them. Because good zeal leads to eternal life, it orients us to that which is eternal in the present, i.e. to my brothers who will live for ever.


I may not be obedient, but I cannot question the value of obedience. I may not obey Christ in the superior, but I must always see him in the superior. I cannot question for a moment that when a superior legitimately calls on my obedience, it is Christ who is calling me.

In a sense, obedience is everything for the monk. Just about everything else can be taken away, so that obedience is all that is left. But obedience must be seen in all its glory, as obedience to Christ and as transforming me into the likeness of the obedient Christ. It must not be reduced just to keeping the rules. There is a constant danger in the Church, and perhaps especially in monastic life, of reducing Christian life to keeping the rules. To do whatever it is we are to do because we’re told to do it. But Christian life is living the life of God, sharing in the divine nature, doing with Christ whatever he shows us the Father doing.

Obedience must eventually be free, i.e. the expression of love. I obey not because I have to but because I choose to love. There must be times when I feel the restrictions of obedience, when it seems to be destroying me -obedience unto death. But the goal is freedom. Free obedience is part of good zeal. When obedience becomes simply the expression of love, it becomes universal, I obey everyone.

Superiors have the charism of fallibility. We must cling to the Covenant. That superiors will fail us is written into the contract: in our obedience, we will meet with difficulties and injustices. St. Benedict is practically telling the novice in his monastery: “I, your abbot, will be unjust to you.” If that happened to St. Benedict’s subjects, it will certainly happen to us. We shouldn’t be surprised, or blame anyone else. It’s what we freely took on by our vows.


Christians are always disciples, there is only one master. Like all learners, we have to be aware of the occupational hazards that go with the our undertaking. For the monk, a few one might name are:

The monk is a man of the Church.

All should be welcome in a Benedictine monastery. “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” And all should know who we are: that we are monks because we are Catholics.


If I had written this at the beginning of my monastic life, I would not have left prayer to the end. Prayer is what each of us comes here for. But it is a gift we must receive from the community.


The Infancy Narratives.The momentous third and final volume in the Popes international bestselling Jesus of Nazareth series, detailing how the stories of Jesus infancy and childhood are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago. In 2007, then “Joseph Ratzinger” published his first book as Pope Benedict XVI in order to make known the figure and message of Jesus. Now, the Pope focuses exclusively on the Gospel accounts of Jesus life as a child. The root of these stories is the experience of hope found in the birth of Jesus and the affirmations of surrender and service embodied in his parents, Joseph and Mary. This is a story of longing and seeking,..£8.39 approx hardback—available on 26th December!  Amazon etc---Pondering the mystery.“My hope is that this short book despite its limitations will be able to help many people on their path to and alongside Jesus”—Pope Benedict xvi

Real 21st century Philosophy & a real 21st century Philosopher David Braine.  Contemporary analytic philosopher with interests in analytic Philosophy of religion and Metaphysics, who seeks to marry the techniques and insights of analytical philosophy and Phenomenology to the Metaphysics of classical Thomism. His The Reality  of Time and the Existence of God (used copy £17.00 approx!()sets out to prove the existence of God from the fact that the world enjoys continuity in time. He argues that nothing in the world could be the cause of this continuity, whence God comes into the picture. David Braine has been an important, if insufficiently well-known, contributor to the renaissance of analytical Philosophy of religion. David is a friend of mine who lives his faith but proves that logic gives a level playing-field for metaphysics –and everyone “does” metaphysics, especially those who think they don’t!

Conversation With Saint Benedict”  by Terence G. Kardong  ISBN 978-0-8146-3420-2 A monk and scholar of the Rule applies it in some modern areas of preoccupation. £11.15 approx A stimulating  read.

From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk –borrowing the poet’s words:-
The Burning Babe
 (By St. Robert Southwell  who was beatified in 1929 and canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on 25 October 1970)

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.
Talk number two  given by Fr Benedict for the Year of Faith continuing on the theme of “LumenGentium” 12th January 2013 at 10.15 am ending  3.30 pm.

The 3rd National Oblate Retreat, open to all oblates of whichever abbey, is at Douai Abbey 10th- 12th May 2013—cost about £140, I think, also see the Oblate Team’s website.

The Next Oblate Congress(near Rome!) is October 10th to the 14th if you are planning to be there! Go to the UK Oblates Website to register.

THE 2012 OBLATE WEEKEND 27th to  30th .  Martin Gardner is making a  dvd of the whole thing and you can get your copies from him if you simply mail him at:- Dunmoir,18 Gurney St., STONEHAVEN, Kincardineshire, AB39 2EB or  email him at martin@guardair.co.uk & all he asks is that you make a donation to the Abbey!—Thank you from all of us to Martin Gardner( He says three have contacted him so far.)

Prayer Intentions
              Br. Antony,  who made his Solemn Profession at Kristo Buase, on the 6th of August, The Transfuguration. Frs Pierre-Marie & Peter Thu  who have returned to their monastery in Vietnam after their exemplary presence amongst us, learning English and teaching us in return how to be kind to one another!
For our new  wood chip heating system and all those  monastic and lay whose work has made and will continue to make it possible.
              Prayers for Br. John (formerly Br Jan) who was clothed as a novice recently. Also for Br. Cyprian who is helping Fr. Ambrose at KB for 3 months, Br. Matthew helping at St. Mary’s Petersham for 1 year and for Fr. Mark studying bookbinding for 3 weeks  in a Dutch monastery to revive that monastic art here. For Colin & Rita Sim recently married and working in and around the monastery & its guesthouses.
Please pray for the repose of the souls of Oblates:-Tom Devine, Irene Coulthard, Theresa McQuillan and Pamela’s auntie, Shirley Khoo,  &  for the bereaved.
       We pray for new postulant Oblates:  Mrs. Kathleen Hoy, James Craig, Stuart Coleman & Lilian Bailey.
       Our new novices: Mrs. Rebecka Winell-Reid, John Wilson, Georgina Quinn, Campbelll Murdoch, David Paterson, Rev. Christopher Mayo, Dr. Lorn Macintyre, Jacqueline Maguire.

       Our new Oblates: Rev. Dr Michael Columba Ross, Mrs. Alice  McLeod, Mrs. Christina Monica Teresa Nicol, Robert Benedict Clark, Joan Gabriel Hildegaard Kilmurray, Anne-Marie Elizabeth Ferla, Grant Margaret of Scotland Farley –Sutton, Anne Paula Morgan, Mrs. Julia-Jane Margaret Teresa  Gladwin.

Please pray for sick Oblates especially for Sarah Drever’s husband Leslie, for Bob Barr, Mary Buist, Gail Schmitz, Beth Fraser & her husband Chris, Marie Claire Hérnandez, Bob Clark, Nick Macrae’s son, Martin Macrae, Dr.David Paterson &; his wife Angela, Jacqui’s daughter, Sally, Deacon William Joss, Mary Roche, Poppy Sinclair, Ian Brodie, Carolyn Boardman, Val Farrelly, David Braine( writings mentioned above), Susan Stephen and Sheila Fraser, friends of the Abbey and for all oblates, friends & the sick, and those who care for them.

The OBLATE WEEKEND 2013 2nd to 5th August on CALDEY ISLAND (WALES!)Principal speaker Fr. Aelred Baker of Prinkash; expert on the origins. This is to commemorate 100th anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. All the places are taken already though you can go on a short leet for a cancellation… ./OR:- I am  in the process of asking if we can have a second three nights/two days for another group of 15 to twenty ( i.e. 5th -7th or 31st July to the 2nd August—check your diaries) So it’s still worth registering your firm intention if you want to be there. (“2nd sitting” so to speak. £100 each plus your own travel. Name & contact details to me please saying that you intend to come. There are 20 places & those intending coming already:-1.Fr Aelred Baker,2. Fr. Giles Connacher,3. Fr. Martin Birrell,4. Joan Kilmurray,5. Joseph Ly,6. George Brown,7. Hester Du Plessis,8. Marie Cumming,9. Rebecka Winell-Reid, 10.Michael Blair, 11.Martin Gardner,12. Leonora Duson,13. Margaret Kessack + 8 from Prinknash--- which as you see makes 21 with 20 places( Is your name missing?—let me know!)—but the Lord will provide and you see there is a plan for a “second sitting”—so YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP!

St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow. As announced. Peter Aitken 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP.  Phone:0141 4272084.

St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline. Pat Carrigan ------------at 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 Aberdeen. St.Peter’s Chapter Oblates Group The group meetings are held in Flat 19/ 3rd floor, Donview House, Seaton, Aberdeen. All meetings will be on the 1st Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm but only as announced. For more information please speak to Mr Brian Milne Donview House, Seaton,Aberdeen AB24 1TZ Tel 01224 485781  E-Mail:- sacristanstpeters@talktalk.net

St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee.   Dates as agreed 11.30 at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------information from St Mary’s, or samsiamese@googlemail.com 

Moray Group: To be announced January? Provisionally you’re your diaries for 22nd/23rd January, 7.00 pm St Sylvester’s Elgin( provisionally a presentation by a guest speaker!)(May alternate local/Pluscarden—local being Forres, Elgin, Fochabers, etc ) 

  The community magazine Pluscarden Benedictines has been in print now for over 44 years and has gone from a modest 12 pages to an average 28-32 pages, with a full colour centrefold. It is produced quarterly and is sent out all over the world, for the very modest annual subscription of £5, or £10 airmail. We are trying to build up our subscription list. If you would like to go on the mailing list, please contact The Editor of  Pluscarden Benedictines at the Abbey.

Summary regarding our sponsored Seminarian
Pluscarden Oblates are sponsoring for the Priesthood an 18 year old Ugandan boy, Dominic, who is approaching the completion of his second year at Junior Seminary near Tororo.
Full support is given for all Seminary fees, books, uniform, transport & a small allowance for pocket money in addition to an allowance for medication due to the problems with Malaria.
Our contact in Uganda is with Sr. Catherine OSB at the Benedictine Priory in Tororo.
It is hoped that Dominic will start his third academic year at Junior Seminary in February 2013 and has before him seven further years of study before entering his final year at the National Seminary in 2021.
Joe Costello( our organiser) asks—would you be interested in sponsoring a seminarian  through KB in Ghana?  Let him/me  know.

Please find enclosed the oblate renewal for this year for you to fill in together with an update of details; you were expecting it with the last issue!
                                             Fr Martin


Oblates are strongly encouraged to unite themselves with the prayer
of the monastic community through a habit of daily liturgical prayer
(cf. the Oblate Statutes n. 28). The official Prayer of the Church in
the Divine Office is an ideal form of this. The most important
“Hours” of the Office are Morning and Evening Prayer, otherwise
known as Lauds and Vespers. If these prove too much for a person
to manage, they could be replaced by one of the various abbreviated
forms available in good Benedictine and Catholic prayer books.
Alternatively oblates can say the little Office of St. Benedict by
heart, as given below. Formerly oblates were asked to say this seven
times a day, ideally at the very times of day the monks would be
praying in Church. While this would remain an excellent practise,
it is not now in any way obligatory.


Oblate Letter 15 Autumn Michaelmas 2012

Nothing Dearer than Christ”

Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin, Moray, Scotland. IV30 8UA.

 Ph. (01343) 890257 fax 890258



   DMB series No 15

Autumn-- Michaelmas--2012 

Monastic Voice


Abba Daniel and his disciple put in at a village in the Thebaid where they are greeted by an elderly lay person, a large man, completely grey-headed', named Eulogius, After Daniel and his disciple return to Scetis, Daniel tells him Eulogius' story.

              “That old man is called ‘Eulogius’; by trade he is a stonecutter. He earns a keration a day from his manual labour, eating nothing until evening, and when evening comes he goes out to the village and takes home whatever foreigners he finds and feeds them, and the leftover fragments he throws to the dogs.

              When I was youngster I went up to sell my handiwork at that village and at evening he came and took me and other brothers with me, and gave us lodging. When I went there and saw the man's virtue, I began to fast every day of the week and entreat God to provide him with greater wages so he might have more money and do good for even more people. After fasting for three weeks, I was half dead on account of my ascetic regimen, and I saw that it was as though I was standing in the Church of the Holy Resurrection.

               A young man was sitting upon the holy stone and Eulogius was standing at his right, I then saw angels emptying a very large amount of money into Eulogius' lap and Eulogius' lap was able to hold it, however much they kept pouring. When I woke up I knew that I had been heard and I gave glory to God. When Eulogius went out to do his work, he struck rock, heard a hollow-sounding thunk, so he struck again and found a small hole; again he struck the rock and found a cave filled with money. Amazed, Eulogius said to himself, 'What should I do with it? If I take it to the village, the owner will hear about it and will come and take it and I'll be in danger. It would be better if I go out into the countryside where no one knows me'. Hiring animals as though he were using them to haul stones, at night he hauled the money to the riverside and put the money in a boat and sailed to Byzantium. Justin, who was an old man, was emperor at that time. Eulogius gave a large amount of money to him and the emperor made him procurator of the holy Praetorian Guard. He also bought a large house and to this day it is called 'the house of the Egyptian'.

               Two years later I saw that young man again in a dream in the Church of the Holy Resurrection, as before. A little later I saw Eulogius being dragged away by his hair from the young man by an Ethiopian. Waking up, I said to myself, 'God help me, a sinner!' Taking my sheepskin cloak, I left for the village in order to sell my handiwork, expecting to find Eulogius. Late evening came and no one invited me home, so I got up and made inquiries of an old woman. Sitting down beside me, she said, , Abba, sir, we used to have a certain stonecutter here and he used to do many good things for the foreigners. When God saw his works, he gave him grace, and today, so we hear, he is a patrician'. When I heard these things, I said to myself, '1 committed this murder!' and I boarded ship and sailed to Byzantium.

               Diligently seeking the house of Eulogius the Egyptian, I sat in front. of his gate until he came out. I saw him coming with great ostentation and I called out to him, "Have mercy on me! I wish to speak with you in private about some matter!" but he turned away from me and his escort beat me instead. I left in search of a ship and, finding one bound for Alexandria, I boarded ship alone and sat by myself, feeling discouraged.

              Three months later, I heard that Justin had died and Justinian was now emperor in his place. Then a little later Hypatius and Dexikratius and Pompeius and Eulogius the procurator rose up against him. The first three were seized and beheaded and all their possessions were confiscated, as was Eulogius' estate. Eulogius fled Constantinople at night and the emperor ordered that he was to be killed wherever he was found. Then he fled and went to his own village and exchanged his clothing for that of the country folk who lived there.

               The whole village gathered to see Eulogius, 'It's good to have you back. We heard that you had become a patrician’. He said to them, 'Indeed. If I had become a patrician, you would be coming to me with petitions. No, that was another Eulogius, who is also from here. I was in the Holy Land'. So Eulogius came to his senses and said, 'Eulogius, you wretch, get up, take your stonecutting tools, before you also lose your head. There is no royal court here!'          A little later I went up to that village and when evening fell Eulogius came. Taking me, along with the others he had found, he washed my feet, as was his custom, and set a table for us.

               After we had eaten I said to him, 'How are you, Abba Eulogius?' He said to me,” Abba, pray for me, sir. I am a wretch, having nothing to my name”. I said to him, 'I wish that you had not even had what you had!' He said to me, 'Why, Abba, sir? What have I ever done to offend you?' I said to him, 'What haven't you done to offend me!'

              Then I laid out for him everything that had happened. Both of us wept and he said to me, 'Pray, Abba, that God sends me what I need and from now on I will follow the right track'.

              I said to him, 'Truly, brother, do not expect Christ to ever entrust you with anything else as long as you are in this world except for this keration, the fruit of your labour'.

              You see? God has now seen to it all these years that each day he has the strength to earn the keration from his manual labour.”


“Dear sisters and brothers how great is our enthusiasm when we first set out upon some good path by the grace of God. So it is with the Christian life; so it is with monastic life; so it is with oblation.

The story is told by the desert Fathers of the monk who was a hard worker who appeared to his spiritual Father to be becoming crushed by his work—so he observed him closely to see what was happening and how this was coming about. He also prayed that he might be enlightened spiritually as to what was going on.

Very soon as he observed him he saw that all the time a dark little demon was at his side as he worked, urging him on. Whenever he rested or slowed in pace the little demon would phrenetically goad him into excessive work and action and so it was by day and by night so that he was unable to pray or do anything useful and would indeed soon fall ill.

The spiritual Father prayed more and then approached the monk and the monk who up until then whose eyes had been unable to see the little demon—his eyes were opened and he saw the trap into which he had fallen and by God’s grace was restored to health.

So it is with zealous Christians and monks and Oblates too—especially the zealous aspirant. The devil seeing that he cannot attack that zeal goads it to an inhuman excess to break the will and spirit. Prayer going out the window the trap is closed and to quote the first reading—like the loincloth we become “good for nothing”.

Recently I’ve had aspirant Oblates devouring spiritual books, men and women full of zeal, voracious for prayer, for the Divine Office, usually the whole office and perhaps the monastic office, spending long periods in lectio and every other practice and devotion they come across. Being in the middle of their lives they often have children and sometimes dependent parents in old age, demanding work with unreasonable hours etc., etc. Finally I get a letter saying that Oblation is just too much. Their commitments and duties are just so great that they have no time left for Oblation.

I then think of the little demon and the misplaced zeal that drives to distraction and says Oblation is just “one more darn thing”—the straw etc...

On the contrary our Oblate life is our whole life—not the holy bits. We cannot opt out of life –God’s gift.

Oblation is like the mustard seed or the leaven that grows and grows till the whole is transformed, but the mustard seed needs the rest of the world to grow in and the leaven, the yeast needs all that flour & dough.

Oblation, as also monastic life, as also Christian life, is the whole transformed reality, transformed world, and transformed life. The essential “bit”, the mustard or the leaven, is worse than useless on its own. Oblate life is life with a capital L, Life transformed in Christ. If we’ve no time for this transformed life we have no time for Christ. Christ is the life of our souls as Blessed Columba Marmion said. Christ came with the leaven of the one thing necessary without which we do not grow; indeed without Christ we cannot rise. Let us not be afraid to expose the dough of our life to Christ’s leaven by our Oblation, our self-offering which we renew today.



 “Becoming Fire  Through the Year with the Desert Fathers & Mothers” p. 180 ( good bibliography for the Desert Fathers )Cistercian Publications, Liturgical Press Collegeville Minnesota ISBN 978-0-87907-525-5 ; quotation itself from”Witness to Holiness: Abba Daniel of Scetis”, edited by Tim Vivian. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications. The Desert Fathers are a fertile field for both monk & oblate.

 From  The  Oblatemaster’s  Desk  --

In fact the Oblatemaster’s two desks, (one in our cell and one in the Oblate Office both of them literally nine inches deep in letters and papers to be sorted, much unanswered.) The oblatemaster is way behind after three months in Africa, an Oblate Weekend and sundry other items, struggling to get out this, the Oblate Letter of the Autumn quarter of the year—


 edition having been produced and sent out 


 (!)before going to Kristo Buase where the Summer edition was re-sent with Stop Press additions for the chosen few with email, from an Internet Café in Techiman the local county capital. This quarter is in fact almost six months later! (hence some of you saying “ I don’t seem to have heard from you”).

All this goes to bolster the fact that while we are immortal souls we are incarnated and thus very much subject to the limitations of time and place, poverty and riches, heat & cold, sickness and health. The way that we relate to our incarnation, the way we order our material existence is not neither here nor there in regard to out immortal destiny. We work out our salvation in the order or disorder of our lives. St Bernard would ask God to order his desires, and thus bring order and peace to his life. “PAX” is our Benedictine motto and it can only come about if through prayer we allow God to take hold of the material dispositions of our life even in all its seeming limitations.

Our “Monastic Voice” from a “Desert Father” helps to bring this home. Riches may be a curse, while straitened circumstances may be a sign of God’s help and blessings. Were I to have a flexible, infinite budget for the Oblate department, it might be the ruination of the Oblatemaster, of the monastery and of the Oblates. Christ is the life of the soul, of the monk and of the oblate.

The secular oblate is immersed in a particular way in the material locale of his/her life in all its limitations and possibilities. Material or physical constraints are not thereby spiritual constraints. “Bad” life conditions are not necessarily a stumbling-block to spiritual opportunity. Eulogius shows us that the reverse can be, and has at times been the case.

We are to hope in God for salvation, not a budget or the state, the company or the council. We owe our soul, bought and paid for by the redemptive blood of Christ, to Christ our Life—and not to the “company store”, bank or Mortgage Company. Even the material constraints of my life are God’s gift to me and to my spiritual upbuilding. “Crux spes unica!”

Prayer Intentions and Events

Br Antony made his Solemn Profession at Kristo Buase monastery on the anniversary of the Dedication, the 6


 August, The Transfiguration.

Fathers Pierre-Marie & Peter Thu have returned to Vietnam after two years here—Fr. Peter Thu’s brother has just died ( also a monk, RIP ).

Br.Jan was clothed as a novice and is now Br. John (the Baptist, understood).

Please pray for 

vocations to the monastery & for our Noviciate. Continue to pray in thanks for the Scottish Ordinariate especially for newly-ordained Fr. Stanley Bennie(Oban Cathedral) -----number two!  We pray for new Oblates: Alice McLeod, Anne Morgan & Christina Clare Teresa Nicol; new novices, Rebecka Winell-Reid & John Wilson, any others omitted since going to press or for any other reason.

The General chapter of the Subiaco Congregation met in September and elected (re-elected) Abbot Bruno Marin as Abbot President.

About twenty Juniors met at the Abbey for a week in July and were privileged to have talks by Fr. Michael Casey OCSO—any books with his authorship to be recommended, and retreats given by him.

The UK Oblates Team (who arrange the Congress and inter-oblate website for the UK) met here at Pluscarden to make it possible for our Oblates to attend on the 15


 September. Thank you! Pat Carrigan & Martin Gardner are now going to assist Jane Coll with the website. Bishop Moth also attended. The next Congress is near Rome in October next year—see the Congress website. Also the 3


 National Oblate Retreat ( open to all oblates) is at Douai Abbey 10


- 12


 May 2013—cost about £140, I think, also see the Oblate Team’s website.

Please pray

 for the repose of the souls of Oblates:- Beth Fallows, James Cairns, Colonel Gretton Foster, and pastoral assistant and Congress attendee, Margaret Coll, and for their bereaved. 

Please pray sick Oblates especially 

Bob Barr, Tom Devine, Mary Buist, 

Gail Schmitz, Beth Fraser &  her husband, Marie Clare Fernandez, Bob Clark, Nick Macrae’s son, Martin Macrae, Irene Coultard, David Paterson & his wife, Jacqui’s daughter, Sally, Deacon William Joss,

 Eileen Grant & Eileen Kerr----both knee replacements,

 Mary Roche, Poppy Sinclair, Pamela’s  auntie Shirley, Ian Brodie, Carolyn Boardman, Val Farrelly and for all the sick, and those who care for them.

 THE 2012 



 to  30


  JULY TOOK PLACE AS CAN BE SEEN BELOW! Fraternity and edification were side by side. Martin Gardner is making a  dvd of the whole thing and you can get your copies from him if you simply mail him at:- Dunmoir,18 Gurney St., STONEHAVEN, Kincardineshire, AB39 2EB or  email him at 


 & all he asks is that you make a donation to the Abbey!—Thank you from all of us to Martin Gardner. There may be some written and other excerpts in the next issue & in PB and on the Oblate Congress Website.

Sermon for the Mass for the end of the Oblate Weekend, Monday, July 31st 2012 with Renewal of Oblation. (Other texts from the Oblate Weekend may be in future Oblate Letters as they become available.)



 2nd to 5


 August on CALDEY ISLAND (WALES!) to commemorate 100


 anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. 12 places of fifteen already taken. £100 each plus your own travel. Name & contact details to me please saying that you intend to come. (There may be one or two more places so worth trying!)

St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow

. As announced. Peter Aitken 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP.  Phone:0141 4272084.

St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline. 

Pat Carrigan ------------at 


St.  Monica’s Chapter, Thurso

. Contact Jane Coll (website manager Benedictine-oblates) on 01847 851701 or at 



St. Peter’s Chapter 


. St.Peter’s Chapter Oblates Group The group meetings are held in Flat 19/ 3rd floor, Donview House, Seaton, Aberdeen. All meetings will be on the 1st Wednesday of the month except September and October Weds 12th September at 7.30pm Weds 10th  October at 7.30pm  Weds 7th November at 7.30pm Weds 5th December at 7.30pm For more information please speak to Brian Milne on Tel.no (01224) 485 781 or E-mail; sacristanstpeters@talktalk.net

St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee

.   Dates as agreed 11.30 at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------info. St Mary’s, or 


Moray Group

: As announced  ( May alternate local/Pluscarden—local being Forres, Elgin, Fochabers )       


Fr Martin    pax

Oblate Letter 14 Easter Pentecost Summer 2012

       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 14
MONASTIC VOICE:- From a sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux on Ss. Peter & Paul for the Summer  season:- “The Church recalls the Apostles' death with an especially solemn feast. Today Peter was crucified; today Paul was beheaded: this is the reason for today's feast; this is the cause of our present rejoicing. By making a festive and joyous day on these anniversarie of death, the Church undoubtedly possesses the Spirit of the Bridegroom, the Spirit of the Lord, in whose sight, as you find in the psalm, precious is the death of the saints. How many people do we believe were present when the Apostles underwent their sufferings who in no way envied their precious deaths? For 'to the eyes of the foolish they seemed to die, and their going was considered an affliction. So indeed, 'to the eyes of the foolish they seemed to die': 'But to me,' the prophet says: 'your friends have received honour beyond measure, O God; their sovereign power has been strengthened beyond measure. Brothers, to the eyes of the foolish, God's friends seem to die, but in the eyes of the wise they are judged instead to be asleep. Lazarus, too, was sleeping, because he was a friend; and 'When he gives sleep to his beloved’, behold the heritage of the Lord. Let us strive, brothers, to live as the just lived, but let us long even more to die as they died. Wisdom reveals the final end of the just, judging us there where she finds us.”

FROM THE OBLATEMASTER’S DESK:  The Summer of Easter follows hard on the heels of our Lenten spring-time. With the harvest of Pentecost the reapers put in their hooks and before we know it we have the harvest of Ss. Peter and Paul on the 29th June, the harvest of whose martyrdom we celebrate. St Bernard draws our attention to the remarkable fact of our celebration which in retrospect makes our celebration of the Easter Triduum even more remarkable. Can we really be celebrating the empty tomb and the presence of the Risen Lord when it has cost the abandonment of Holy Thursday and Good Friday’s painful execution?
Can we really celebrate the great edifice of the Church’s living stones when their foundation rises from an upturned cross and a bloodied chopping block?
              I was surprised when once remarking to my GP, Dr. McClure of Elgin, that I would have preferred if our former Oblatemaster Fr. Maurus had died an ordinary death when he transfixed me with his eye, as is his wont, and said, “Yes, and what’s an ordinary death?”
We of all people should not have to be reminded of the extraordinary nature of our transitus from this life to the next. How could it be ordinary! A former bishop of the diocese of Aberdeen, now an Archbishop, remarked at his own Mother’s funeral, that in her dying gasping moments it was like a birth-pangs, and so it was. And so it is for all of us with the eye of faith, however abandoned be our passion truly following our Master and His chosen apostles. The whole of life in its winters and its spring times only gives glimpses and hints of the summer-time, the Sabbath of summer-times where harvest overtakes its proper season and makes it redundant! May we all echo St Bernard’s implied “Maranatha!”—“Come quickly Lord!” of his summer-season sermon—and not be found wanting or unready by His grace! Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Books                 A postulant Oblate from the Black Isle was asking me about fiction. This as we know can be spiritually profitable especially if works of art like “The Betrothed” by Manzini are in view.
A more recent author notable for his spiritual vision is Michael O’ Brien. I’m reading “Plague Journal” at present. His most recent is I understand “The Father's Tale: A Novel”--- "A modern retelling of the parables The Good Shepherd and The Prodigal Son." Canadian bookseller Alex Graham is a middle-age widower whose quiet life is turned upside down when his college-age son disappears without any explanation or trace of where he has gone.-------There is quite a list of others all of which are meaty in religious terms— that is in terms of life, real life.
Prayer Intentions and News
Please pray for Bishop Hugh, Abbot Anselm, our juniorate & noviciate and especially Br.Cyril Our newest novice (formerly “Jakub”),  & for our sick monks. Please pray for Br. James and our aspirants & for vocations to the monastery. New Oblates: Ursula Mary St Michael Humphrey and Margaret Thérèse Graham. Postulant: Margaret Johnston and all our novices and postulants. Our Oblates alone number about two hundred (in answer to a question recently).
Please pray for all the sick & especially: Beth Fallows (who sent me her beautiful poems which I mention here—thank you-- in case a letter before Ghana is not possible) ,Gail Schmitz, Marie Claire Hernandez, Bob Clark who has helped us with the honey for years when he was well enough—thank you Bob!, James Cairns who is now poorly &  in a hospice ( & for his wife & family ), Martin MacRae, Irene Coultard, David Paterson & his Wife Angela, for Beth Fraser who despite illness makes by hand hundreds of rosaries many of which I’ll be taking out to KB, Ghana, thank you (two Beth’s!), Mary Roche, Poppy Sinclair, Bob Barr, and for all the sick & their families. Please also remember Mary Tibble who in her day assisted major surgeons in the theatre and now assists us from her nursing home in processing our used stamps!!—thank you! (They are all keeping Lent better than the rest of us—thank you for being “patients” in the real meaning of the word! --See the Rule!)
               We join with Marcin & Kasia in thanksgiving for the safe delivery of their new baby son, Gabriel.
 Pentecost Lectures :29th – 31st May 2012 at Pluscarden Abbey--
Pentecost Lectures continued:-Professor Lewis Ayres, Bede professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Durham. “You Have Revealed Your Glory”—the Mystery of the Trinity Tuesday 2.45 –last lecture Thursday am 10.15. Free –open to all ( but I think the accommodation is spoken for—you can check for a cancellation; non-residents more than welcome-please indicate ( to Fr. Bede) coming –for the soup!
OBLATE WEEKEND  JULY 27TH TO JULY 30TH 2012, This Year-please let me know using the form below( mark envelope or email “Fr Bede”) if you intend to come-- The monastic guesthouses are booked up already  Here is a list of those booked to stay AT the Abbey: Pamela Nelson-Shaw, Tricia Kirby, Ursula Humphrey, Pat Fernandez, Morris  family, Brigitte Mackay, Georgina Quinn, Jane Coll, Ann Morgan, Barbara Van Rooyen, Glynis Stranraer-Mull, Rebecka Winell-Reid). Men: Martin Gardner, Pat Carrigan, Terry Kirby, Charlie Muir, Jim Bradley, Steve Fennell, Henry Logan, Frederick and Iain Brodie, Fr. Francis Wilson (Awaiting cancellation: Edmund Young & Chris McKeown) I shall append alternative accommodation to the next Oblate letter as before. Fr. Abbot (Anselm!) is giving our keynote address! Programme as below. Do please fill in the slip enclosed if you are coming to some part of the Oblate Weekend—all the parts—even if you have already communicated. Thank you. Address to Fr. Bede.
OBLATE WEEKEND 2013 2nd to 5th August on CALDEY ISLAND(WALES!) to commemorate 100th anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. At this stage simply please let me know,after this summer’s weekend-- Fr. Martin by mail or email -------------------    oblatemaster@pluscardenabbey.org ) ( Your name & contact details) & that you intend to come. (32 places only, Prinknash have spoken for six already—Caldey have minimum charges & there is the travel down to consider)
Groups & Chapters-below
St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow:-As announced. Peter Aitken :- 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP Phone:01414272084. Peter Aitken is the link man.
St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline. Pat Carrigan Telephone: 07853 407 913   . Have just held a successful Lenten Retreat! Pat Carrigan will keep you informed.
 St.  Monica’s Chapter, Thurso. Contact Jane Coll (website manager Benedictine-oblates) on 01847 851701 or     (subscript line between jane and coll ) 20 miles is “close” up here!
  St. Peter’s Chapter Aberdeen. 1st Wednesday’s 7.30  Telephone 01224 485 78119 Donview House Seaton Crescent, Seaton, Aberdeen, AB24 1TZ. Brian Milne will keep you informed
St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee.  May 21st and dates as agreed 11.30 at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------info. St Mary’s, ---- Canon Angelosanto is coordinator.
Moray Group  Meeting three to four times a year, in Elgin they met first then  will be Forres and once a year ( of the “Moray Group”) at the Abbey immediately before the Oblate Weekend begins. For the Moray locals really. Maggie Graham is the link person.  


                                                *note—non-resident attendees will need to make their own provision for Friday supper & for breakfast on Saturday, Sunday & Monday. There are buffet meals for lunch & supper on Saturday & Sunday for all. Please fill in & send the chit for catering numbers.
( Moray Group meet 3.30 Parlour 1 St Benedict’s)

Friday Arrival of residents before Vespers 27th July 2012
Vespers                                                                                       5.15pm
Supper for residents                                                                6.45pm (St. Scholastica’s own times)
Compline                                                                                   7.50pm

DVD Talk specially made                                                     8.30pm  (marquee)
DVD, virtual presence Bishop Richard Moth Oblate of Pluscarden Abbey, giving a talk on the Divine Office, specially made for us for the beginning of our Oblate Weekend.
Repose                                                                                       9.20pm.

Saturday 28th July, St Ignatius Loyola û          û
Vigils                                                                                          4.30am
Lauds                                                                                          circa 5.25am
Prime                                                                                         circa 6.45am
Mass+Terce                                                                             9.00am
Coffee                                                                                        10.00am                          (marquee)

Fr Abbot : Opening Conference                                          10.30am            (marquee or as                                                                                                                                                     announced)     

Sext                                                                                            12.35pm
Lunch                                                                                         12.45pm                          (marquee)
 None                                                                                        2.15pm

Talk from Fr. Bede “To Have a Passion for The Gospel!”         
                                                                                                    2.30pm              (marquee or as                                                                                                                                                     announced)

Tea                                                                                             3.45pm                            (marquee)
Opportunity for Confessions.
Vespers                                                                                     5.15pm                            
Supper                                                                                       6.45pm                            (marquee)
Compline                                                                                  7.50pm
DVD/slides on Kristo Buase recent returnee                            8.30pm
Repose                                                                                      circa 9.30                                                                                                                                                                                      
Sunday 29th July Seventeenth Sunday  of the year
Vigils                                                                                          4.30am
Lauds                                                                                         circa 5.45 am
Prime                                                                                         7.00am
Breakfast                                                                                  after Prime
Terce                                                                                          9.15am
Mass                                                                                          10.00am

Talk on the Liturgy of the Day Fr. Benedict Hardy    
                                                                                                    11.30am                                        (Church)
Sext                                                                                            12.35pm
Lunch                                                                                         12.45pm                                  (marquee)

Talk from Fr Dunstan on “The Guestmaster”              2.00pm              ( marquee or as
None                                                                                          4.20pm
Tea                                                                                              after None                                    (marquee)
Vespers & Benediction                                                         5.15pm
Supper                                                                                       6.45pm                                          (marquee)
Compline                                                                                   7.50pm

DVD Made By the Oblates of Thien Phuoc Vietnam   8.30pm                          ( marquee)
Under the Direction of Teresa Ngan Giang Oblate  
Repose                                                                                       9.30pm circa                                                                                         
Monday 30th of July St Peter Chrysologus Memoria
Vigils                                                                                          4.30am
Lauds                                                                                          circa 5.25AM
 Prime                                                                                        6.45am circa (30”after end of Lauds)
Breakfast                                                                                                 after Prime
Terce & Mass                                                                           9.00am
Marking the formal conclusion of the Oblate weekend with sermon from the Oblate Master & renewal of Oblation during Mass. Those who extend their Oblate spiritual retreat/weekend to three days  by arriving sooner or departing later there may be a plenary indulgence for such a three day spiritual retreat, under the usual  conditions.
Coffee & Farewells                                                                               10.00am

Dominic the Seminarian is sponsored but if any Oblate felt willing to offer sponsorship then they should let me know & they could be put on a "standby list". Who knows if sufficient Oblates offer we may manage a second Seminarian. The standby list would also cover for any unknown extra future requirements.
God is good. Wishing you all greetings & you all remain in our prayers,

Paul Costello(Fr. Martin: “Oblate organising it for us---Thank you Paul!”)

                                           “Come Holy Spirit”------Blessings from
                                                                       Fr. Martin

Oblate Letter 13 Winter-Lent--2012

Nothing Dearer than Christ”

Oblate letter of the Pluscarden Benedictines, Elgin, Moray, Scotland. IV30 8UA.

 Ph.(01343) 890257 fax 890258



   DMB series No 13

Winter--- Lent---2012  

Monastic Voice from the Oblatemaster’s Desk

From “The Spiritual Doctrine of Dom Marmion” by M.M. Philipon, O.P. trans.by Dom Matthew Dillon O.S.B:-In writing the history of spirituality in the twentieth century it is natural to begin with Dom Marmion. His work initiated a profound spiritual revival the influence of which has permeated the whole Catholic world. It is to him that we owe in great measure this return to that primary truth of the Christian faith: Christ, the model and sole source of life for us. He had some admirable precursors in this revival of Christo-centric religion: Scheeben in German-speaking countries, Fr. Faber in England, Mgr. Gay, steeped in the teaching of the French School; but none of these attained his world-wide influence.

“We must always consider the teaching of Dom Marmion against its monastic background. It was as a monk that Dom Marmion lived the Gospel of Christian perfection. Now, the figure of Christ dominates the Rule of St. Benedict.

When the postulant presents himself at his " school of the "Lord's service ", the patriarch of monks asks him only one thing: " Whether he truly seeks God "18 and whether he is resolved to fight for the true King, Christ.


If so, let him enter the monastic army and advance towards perfection, "following the guidance of the Gospel and walking in the paths of Christ."


Let him not look back, but bear his valiantly, " sharing by his patience in the sufferings of Christ, that he may deserve also to be a partaker of His kingdom."


On entering the monastery, he is received by the Abbot" who holds the place of Christ.


His life as a monk will be passed in this visible presence of Christ, for it is not in a man's presence but in that of Christ Himself, that he lives. In his Abbot he sees and loves Christ; he seeks only the glory of Christ.


It is Christ Himself whom he obeys with an obedience which is prompt, complete and joyous; for him “nothing is dearer than Christ."


He has only one desire:" to imitate Christ, who was obedient even unto death."


 Within the monastery he has found a family of brethren. Whatever their origin, rich or poor, freemen or slaves, they, are one In Christ. They all bear the same arms In the service of Christ.”


In his daily life, according as he advances towards the final' perfection, his actions are inspired solely by the love of Christ.27 In accordance with the counsel of the Gospel, he has denied himself in order to follow Christ.


He is free with that sovereign liberty of the children of God. His one maxim is: “to prefer nothing to the love of Christ."


It matters little whether the bell is for the Office or for work. Like Jesus, he is entirely consecrated to the glory of the Father, and prays and works in constant union with Christ. In time of temptation, without a moment's delay, " he dashes his evil thoughts on the rock of Christ,"


and emerges victorious.

He treats each of his brethren, and especially the sick, as he would Christ Himself.


He receives the guests who come to the monastery like Christ Himsel£. The poorer and more wretched they are, the more clearly does he see Christ in them.

Christ is the atmosphere which his soul breathes. In Christ  he lives and in Christ he is to die. Sustained by the companionship of his brethren, he can realize his unique ideal: to love Christ, " to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, who will bring him together with his brethren to life everlasting."


According to the teaching of St. Benedict the monastic life is a search for God,


following the guidance of the Gospel and walking in the paths of Christ.


Dom Marmion was familiar with all these texts. We come across them constantly in his private notes. His soul found constant support in them. For him Christ is the one great means of going to God.


“Everywhere in the Rule our holy Father places Christ before our eyes."


The special grace of Dom Marmion was that this Christ ideal was the dominating influence in his life. He could not conceive monastic life, any more than the Christian life, apart from Christ. “As I have so often said to you, the Order of St. Benedict is simply the development in all its fullness of the Christian life. We are simply trying to practise as perfectly as possible what Christ teaches and prescribes; we want to live according to His precepts and counsels. Our life should be the perfect expression of the Gospel."

37*Notes—as numbers below:-

18Rule,ch.58   22Rule, ch. 63.  26 Rule, ch. 2.

19 Prologue.   23 Rule, ch. 63. 27 Rule, ch. 7.

20 Prologue.   24 Rule, ch. 5.  28  Rule, ch. 4.

21 Prologue.   25 Rule, ch. 7.  29  Rule, ch. 4.

30 Rule,ch.4.  31 Rule. ch. 36. 32Rule. ch. 72.

33 Rule. ch.58.34  Prologue.  35 Conference, Louvain, 1905.

36Conference, Louvain, 1909.  37 Conference, Maredret. July 18th. 1917.

Dear Oblates( and our postulants, novices and friends,

                     Last year was a whirlwind—new Bishop, Hugh, new Abbot, Anselm, new superior Fr. Gregory for St Mary’s Petersham our daughter-house, new superior(or return of an “old” one) Fr. Ambrose for Kristo Buase monastery. Many of the monastery tasks have moved round. We have a new, altered (more demanding?—well earlier rising!) timetable which you will find in outline below for your convenience (in fuller form on the website)

            “What about you?” I seem to hear you ask, wondering if I have escaped these changerounds. Well we’re all involved in the new timetable, no doubt about that. But so far my biggest change – apart from now being stipendiary ( at least while in residence I say mysteriously!) and keeper of the “necrology”( you can ask me when next you see me!) and keeper of the’ Pluscarden Benedictines’ magazine (I’m now to blame if it goes astray!)---I’ve to go to keep Fr. Ambrose company at Kristo Buase from the 2


of April to the 1


of July—three weeks before the Oblate Weekend! I’m sure there will be someone on hand to see you when you come in my absence and answering for me here either by email ( or forwarding) or by post, though not yet chosen at time of writing. During those three months my address will be: Kristo Buase Monastery, PO Box TM-291, Techiman, B/A, Ghana, West Africa, but it takes about a fortnight if you’re lucky, for mail. Email is FAO Fr. Martin Birrell (there is a Br. Martin-- for whom please pray --- so surname may avoid confusion ) email  ph. +233 35 209 3150 –irregular service.(to some extent by whatever means!)

So amidst all these practicalities and nuts & bolts of preparing for Oblate weekends,etc. Blessed Dom Marmion is keeping us centred on Christ as monks and Oblates and Christians, in a stability of the heart centred on Christ.

“Who can separate us form the love of Christ?”


Blessed Columba Marmion

was born1858 Dublin and died 1928 .He was the monastic mentor of the founder of our community, Aelred Carlyle, who founded Caldey where we are going next year, please God. His principal books which are very readable and ideal for lectio are:

'Christ, the Life of the


(1917)which marks the opening of a new era in spirituality, inaugurating as it did the celebrated trilogy which was completed by

'Christ in His Mysteries'

(1919), and

'Christ the Ideal of the Monk'

in 1922.

'Christ the Ideal of the Priest'

, published posthumously in 1951, is the final consummation of his work.


rayer Intentions

Please pray for

Bishop Hugh,

Abbot Anselm, Brother Simon, Br. Jakub & our sick monks. Please pray for

vocations to the monastery.

We pray for The Repose of the Soul of Oblate



Peirce our N

ew Oblates:


Margaret of Scotland

Farley-Sutton & Jean


MacDonald Johnstone


Campbell Murdoch


Please pray for all the

sick & especially: Beth Fallows----sorry Beth, I missed you out!  Gail Schmitz, Marie Claire Hernandez, Bob Clark, James Cairns, Martin MacRae, Irene Coultard, David Paterson & his Wife Angela, for Beth Fraser( two Beths), Mary Roche, Poppy Sinclair, Bob Barr, and for all the sick &; their families.

 Pentecost Lectures :29th – 31st May 2012 at Pluscarden Abbey--below

Pentecost Lectures continued:-Professor Lewis Ayres, Bede professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Durham. “You Have Revealed Your Glory”—the Mystery of the Trinity Tuesday 2.45 –last lecture Thursday AM 10.15. Free –open to all ( but I think the accommodation is spoken for—you can check for a cancellation non-residents more than welcome-please indicate coming –for the soup!


  JULY 27





2012, This Year

-please let me know if you intend to come.

The monastic guesthouses are booked up already

  Here is a list of those booked: Pamela Nelson-Shaw, Tricia Kirby, Ursula Humphrey, Pat Fernandez, Morris  family, Brigitte Mackay, Georgina Quinn, Jane Coll, Ann Morgan, Barbara Van Rooyen, Glynis Stranraer-Mull.(Awaiting cnmacellation Rebecka Winell-Reid).Men: Martin Gardner,Pat Carrigan, Terry Kirby, Chartlie Muir, Jim Bradley, Steve Fennell, Henry Logan, Frederick and Iain Brodie, Fr. Frnacis Wilson (Awaiting cnacellation: Edmund Young & Chris McKeown)

I shall append alternative accommodation to the next Oblate letter as before.

Fr. Abbot (Anselm!) is giving our keynote address. Bishop Richard Moth(Pluscarden Oblate) is giving one of the talks in DVD form as did our Abbot the year before last!



2nd to 5


August on CALDEY ISLAND(WALES!) to commemorate 100


anniversary of the conversion of the Caldey community. At this stage simply please let me know, Fr. Martin by mail or email (


) ( Your name & contact details) & that you intend to come. (


places only—

Caldey have minimum


& there is the


down to consider)

Groups & Chapters-below

Edinburgh Group

:–If anyone is interested in forming an Edinburgh group please get in touch with Robert Hill

 phone him on 07905 407936

St Mungo’s Chapter Glasgow


As announced. Peter Aitken :- 11, Maxwell Grove, Glasgow. G41 5JP Phone:01414272084.

St Margaret’s Chapter Dunfermline.

Pat Carrigan at


: 07853 407 913   . Have just held an Advent Retreat!

St.  Monica’s Chapter, Thurso

. Contact Jane Coll (website manager Benedictine-oblates) on 01847 851701 or         

St. Peter’s Chapter


. 1


Wednesday’s 7.30  Telephone 01224 485 78119 Donview House Seaton Crescent, Seaton, Aberdeen, AB24 1TZ.

St  Mary’s Chapter Dundee

.  May 21


and dates as agreed 11.30 at St. Mary’s High Street, Lochee, Dundee. -------info. St Mary’s.

Moray Group

Interested in a meeting three to four times a year, in Elgin & Forres and once a year ( of the “Moray Group”) at the Abbey? For the

Moray locals

really! ( ie not Edinburgh & Glasgow or London—rules always have occasional exceptions!) If interested for 2012 then please let me ( Fr. Martin) know by email, letter or otherwise. How about a venue in Elgin on the evening of Wednesday the 21



Please Note New Changes to the Abbey timetable as follows:-


Vigils & Lauds                                                                      04.30 

Prime 35 minutes after Lauds

Conventual  Mass   &Terce                                                  09.00

Sext                                                                                             12.35

Followed by lunch

None                                                                                           14.15

Vespers                                                                                       17.15

Supper                                                                                        18.45

Compline                                                                                    19.45


Vigils & Lauds                                                                      04.30 

 Prime 35 minutes after Lauds

Mass (English spoken)                                                                  8.00

Terce                                                                                           9.15

Mass (Sung)                                                                                10.00

Sext                                                                                            12.35  

Followed by lunch

None                                                                                          16.20

Vespers                                                                                      17.15

supper                                                                                        18.45

Compline                                                                                    19.45


                                          FR. MARTIN                                                                 PAX