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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Easter!

A very happy Easter to everyone who looks at our blog.  May our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, grant you very many blessings during this holy season.

Below are some photos of the Paschal liturgy at the Monastery:

Rev. Fr Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. was the deacon for the Easter vigil ceremonies.  Here, facing the Paschal candle but recently lighted, he chants the Exultet.

Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. during the blessing of the Paschal Water.

The Holy Oils are mixed with the newly created Paschal Water as Baptismal Water is blessed.

Rev. Fr Yousef Marie chanting the Gospel.

Sung Mass was celebrated on Easter morning on Stronsay by Rev. Fr Yousef.  Here he prays the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass.

Chanting the Gospel.

On Easter morning, Rev Fr Michael Mary performs the blessing of "First Fruits", which is a Paschal custom.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Blessed are they that suffer persecution... Mt 5:10.

News from our friend
Shamiel of Lahore, 

Growing up as a member of the Christian minority in Pakistan, I have often observed how the laws provide inadequate protection for our community, and those inadequacies have dramatically increased. Another incident of vandalism and madness against Christians over allegations of blasphemy has resulted in the burning of houses and more injured innocents. The list of persecutions against minorities in Pakistan is endless and horrible, as I have often witnessed first hand.

The Christian enclave called Joseph Colony.

One such ruthless incident happened in Joseph Colony, a Christian enclave southwest of Lahore, where a mob set fire to hundreds of homes and two churches on March 9 last year after rumors spread that a young Christian had insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Police officer Multan Khan said the incident started on a Friday when a young Muslim man accused Sawan Masih of committing blasphemy.

 Sawan was booked under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, though it appeared that he had been falsely accused. Police were forced to register a case to placate the mob, a local police official said at the time.

Last week, 
a little more than a year after the mob violence in Joseph Colony,
 a court sentenced Sawan to death.

Shortly after his arrest and detention in an undisclosed location, a mob of almost 3,000 people quickly descended on Joseph Colony – led by a barber named Shafiq Ahmed (a close friend of Sawan affectionately known as Bubby) – in search of the alleged blasphemer.

The mob pelted Sawan’s home with rocks before setting it on fire, and then they attacked other homes. Residents, including numerous women and children, abandoned their homes and possessions and fled for their lives. By the time the mob finished its ruthless work, two churches and nearly 200 homes were reduced to ashes.

Shamiel in a fire gutted house of Joseph Colony.

After hearing about the attack, I made my way with several friends to Joseph Colony near my home. When we entered the day after the attack, I was shocked to see the level of devastation. The sorrow and deprivation was so prominent in that atmosphere that anyone’s heart would have broken to pieces. My eyes filled with tears as I walked through the destruction.

Ashes clung to my clothing. Women, young girls and children sat in the streets mourning their loss – they lost everything from their life savings and homes to all of their everyday utensils, vehicles, everything.

Also among the ruins lay the dreams of parents for their young daughters as looters made off with dowries of jewelry and money saved over many years.

Consumed with rage over alleged disrespect for the Prophet Muhammad, the mob desecrated the sanctity of two Christian churches, burned Bibles and tore up religious books.

The victimised Catholics of  Joseph Colony: homeless, in tents.

The terrified residents of Joseph Colony were now homeless and even more vulnerable as a hunted minority. Why all this carnage? Two egotistical men had an argument while drinking alcohol, which led to the charge of blasphemy.

An entire neighborhood of Pakistan’s second-largest city and cultural hub – full of people considered to be educated and civilized – was reduced largely to rubble in an act of mob violence that went beyond all imagination.

It reminded me of a previous and deadlier incident in 2009 in Gojra in Punjab province, when eight Christians – including women and children – were burned alive after being accused of blasphemy.

There is consensus among civil society and academics that if strict action had been taken at that time, then nobody would have dared repeat such unjust attacks. Instead, these attacks occur repeatedly and with impunity.

Sawan’s sister, Bushra, says her brother is innocent, and his sister-in-law Kiran said Imran Bashir – the man who accused him of blasphemy – was a trusted friend with whom she had never seen Sawan argue.

A federal minister speaking to the media after the attack in 2009 blamed the government in the Punjab, saying that all major incidents against minorities took place there. He further demanded the immediate arrest of all those involved in the killings and offered the services of Pakistani rangers to protect churches in the province.

Addressing a protest rally by Christians outside the Punjab Assembly building, the Minister said it was the need of the hour to be united against the common enemy of Muslims and Christians. Citing incidents in Gojra and Sialkot, he alleged that the Punjab government had “failed to protect minorities” and that “minorities are faithful to the country, and their services for the country especially in the fields of health and education could not be neglected”.
The Catholic youth of CYMD, 
from their own poor wages,
bought and distributed plastic items for every day use 
among the homeless of Joseph Colony, Lahore.

The General Secretary of CYDM has said: “History suggests that nothing compels authorities to action after such attacks. This boosts the confidence of extremist groups, but Christians are more loyal than others in the country and will remain peaceful.”

During a protest after the attack on Joseph Colony, one of the attendees named Johnson said: “We have no way but to protest in the present scenario because we feel insecure after the burning of our homes in Joseph Colony”. Another protester accused police of provoking the mob into violence.

I believe that the repeated attacks on Christians in Pakistan convince us that we are not equally treated or protected, and that our future is in danger. We face discrimination in the workplace and are among the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers.

Our women and children are not safe, and we are forced to live among inhuman people and within an intolerant society. And yet, we Christians have always played a positive role in the development of Pakistan and in all other sectors of life. We played a vital role in making Pakistan a separate and independent homeland.

But the burning of Joseph Colony – and all previous attacks – has damaged the basic ideology of Pakistan, and the failure to punish perpetrators of violence against minority groups has again left the Christian community in perpetual fear.

As violence continues to increase, Christians have to come up with better strategies and need rules and laws to secure their dignified survival in Pakistan. The government needs to look into more effectively providing this security. They need to protect minorities and afford them proper rights.

So far, they have failed to do so. Despite aggressive but peaceful protests in the wake of the Joseph Colony attack, and the closure of religious schools across the country, appeals, letters and petitions to eliminate the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, the government paid no attention, and it continues to ignore the needs of the Christian community and refuses to grant it the equality and protection that it so desperately needs.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Passiontide Purple

But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple. - Jn. 8:58
from the gospel of Passion Sunday

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Ordination to the Diaconate

On Saturday 5th April, 2014, Rev. Br. Jean Marie, F.SS.R., was ordained to the  Diaconate by his Lordship Basil Meeking, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Christchurch at St Teresa's Church, Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Deo Gratias!

 The ordinandus along with the servers, sacred ministers and the Bishop process into the church. 
 Prayers at the foot of the altar
 The Bishop sings the collect at the Faldstool during the Solemn Pontifical Mass
 The Ordinandus, Rev. Br. Jean Marie, F.SS.R lies prostrate on the floor during the Litany of the Saints. 
Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Dei, Intercedite pro nobis!
 The moment of ordination: The Bishop  silently lays his hand on the head of the Ordinandus, and then holding his right hand extended he pronounces the form of the Sacrament: 
"Send forth upon him we beseech Thee O Lord, the Holy Ghost, by whom he may be strengthened with the gift of Thy sevenfold grace for the faithful performance of Thy ministry."
 The new Deacon is invested with the stole and Dalmatic and receives the power to read the Gospel 
 The new Deacon sings the Gospel for the first time
The Torchbearers stand guard before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament
The Bishop along with the newly ordained Deacon, Sacred Ministers, and servers after the Pontifical Solemn High Mass

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Communication Restored

Well that was a short-lived  problem!  Our email is now back up and running - Deo Gratias.  The temporary email address which we gave you yesterday will now no longer be used and you can resume using our normal email addresses.  If you sent email in the last few days, it is possible that it was not received by us and it might be a good idea to resend it.  Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you all for your patience.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Patron Saint of Everything

"To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succour us in some special necessity — but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth — for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him — so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience" 
- St Teresa of Avila

Imagine being able to command God!  What awesome responsibility and honour was that of our Saint. If while on earth St Joseph could ask his Foster-Son anything and receive it, why should anything have changed now that they are together in heavenly glory?  Go to St Joseph in all your needs and be confident of being heard!

Our Shrine to St Joseph on Papa Stronsay, erected for the nine days of his Novena.  We owe so much to St Joseph, not least the fact that we live on the Holy Island of Papa Stronsay.  

Please continue, dear Saint, to watch over us with your protection and intercession that with your help, and that of your spouse, Mary, we may all be found worthy to enter into eternal glory.  Amen.

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Mass of the Five Wounds

Salisbury Cathedral

The Sarum rite of Mass was one of the rites of celebrating Mass in use in England before the reformation.  It is more properly called the Rite of Salisbury and originated as the Rite used in the Cathedral of that place.  One Mass in particular was extremely popular with the English people: the Mass of the Five Wounds.  In the Sarum missal, just before the text of this Mass is related the story of how it came to be:

"S Boniface the pope was sick, even unto death; and he urgently besought God to prolong his life in this world. God sent to him S Raphael the Archangel with the Office [the word Officium can also mean the Introit] of the Mass of the Five Wounds of Christ, saying to the Pope “Get up and write this Office, and you shall say it five times; and straightway you will receive health. And what priest soever shall devoutly celebrate this Office for himself or for another sick person five times, he shall receive health and grace, and in the future shall possess life eternal, provided he perseveres in good. And in whatsoever tribulation a man shall be set in this world, if he procures from a priest that this Office be said for him five times, without doubt he shall be set free. And if it shall be said for the soul of one departed, immediately after it shall have been completely said, that is, five times, his soul shall be loosed from pains”. 

Pope S Boniface therefore, hearing these things, immediately got up in the place where he lay sick, and conjured him [the angel] by Almighty God that he should depart from him without any danger to himself, and should straightway give a sign who he was, and for what purpose he had come to him. He [the Angel] at once said that he was the archangel Raphael sent to him from God, and promised that the things listed above would without doubt be ratified. Pope s Boniface then confirmed the Office by his apostolic authority, granting to all, truly confessed and penitent, who should say it for the fifth time, a seventh part of the remission of all their sins. And likewise, he loosed in the Lord forty days of mortal sins and one year of venial sins to all who should procure the aforesaid office to be said."

Salisbury Cathedral

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Fast of Lent

The temptation of Our Lord in the desert.

Lent is a time that we may and should look towards with a certain holy joy and enthusiasm.  It is a time to reform ourselves, to do penance, to catch up as it were in the way of paying our debts to God.  There are perhaps so many things that we have promised to do, so many guilty indulgences or bad habits we have long been resolving to give up.  Now is the time, now if ever, during the holy time of Lent.  

Lent is the great Fast of the Church in which all Her children are called to take part.  The forty days serve to commemorate the time spent by Our Lord in the desert before His public ministry.  It was a time of prayer, fasting and fighting against temptation.  Lent is a time to recall the excess of Christ’s Love, especially His fasting, sorrows, Passion and Death.  It is a time to return this Love by serious efforts to conform ourselves more to His Pattern.  ‘If every year we rooted out one vice,’ says Thomas a Kempis ‘we should soon become perfect men.’ (Im. Bk. I cp. Xi).  Ah!  Indeed, if we and all sons and daughters of Holy Church would use the time of Lent to begin in earnest to forsake and uproot some evil propensity, some unmortified passion or inordinate attachment, how our lives would be changed for the better!  

To do something befitting the holy time of Lent, we could consider to abstain from meat and eggs during the forty days.  Then there are our personal and voluntary sacrifices that we should think about and prepare to make beforehand.  Even the most weak, the most weighed down by sin, need not feel gloomy and depressed when the time of Lent comes round, since it is for many a powerful incentive for sincere conversion and reconciliation with God.

How many times have we resolved to pray more, to meditate, to do spiritual reading and to make a steady habit of daily spiritual exercises?!  Lent is coming!  Let us make up our minds to offer God the spiritual service of prayer in a more fervent and constant manner!  At least now and then, it will be of great benefit and fittingness to make the Way of the Cross and to spend some time, if possible before the Blessed Sacrament.  We will surely find it most rewarding to spend more time with God in the quiet peace of prayer.  Our daily tasks will seem less enormous and painful to deal with and we will desire to return to the presence of God by retiring again to converse with Him in silence.  The habit of spending time with God will deepen our sense of His indwelling in our souls.  We will find that by retiring to Him, we are aspiring to Him.   ‘Prayer is good with fasting,’ (Tob. 12. 8) said the Angel to Tobias, and indeed the one helps the other.  Prayer is made easier and more agreeable with some fasting and fasting is made bearable with the support of prayer.  Let us be firmly decided this year, to make our season of Lent a time for God and an occasion of profit to our immortal souls.

— by a Transalpine Redemptorist monk.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Welcome Visit from Fr Hunwicke

For several years we have been friends with Fr John Hunwicke. That he might consider travelling to us all the way from Oxford, considering the fall he had when in Rome in 2012, seemed almost too much to expect. But to our delight we were privileged to welcome him to Papa Stronsay last week, where for four days he gave us conferences on the holy Liturgy: the Sarum rite, the missal of Stowe, and the history of Papal Anglicanism culminating in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI. 
Of course we did not simply receive conferences; there is nothing like having a friend to stay; it was super! And yes of course, we are hoping he will return again. 

 Fr Hunwicke's lively and engaging deliveries!
Every word clearly articulated and set to make its mark.

 One afternoon during his visit some of the brethren accompanied Father on a walk around the island.

Father has a keen interest in early monastic archaeology.

 Father examining the ruins of the 11th century chapel of St Nicholas on Papa Stronsay
which is built over an earlier one from the 7th century.

Again in the ruins of St Nicholas's chapel.
The neighbouring island of Stronsay in the background.

Not an easy walk along the beach on the eastern side of Papa Stronsay.

Our Desert in the Pathless Sea.

In Father's Mutual Enrichment blog
 he wrote about his time with us.

Many thanks Father for coming all this way!
Wonderful days!
Haste ye back!

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Tiny Reflection of the Glory of God

Last night here in Orkney we had some of the most spectacular Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights that I have ever had the privilege of seeing.  It was very difficult to capture what we were actually seeing with the camera.  It was like a light show of flashing strobe lights.  The closest I can come to describing it is if you imagine looking into the bottom of a swimming pool on a sunny day and seeing all the shimmering patterns on the bottom caused by the light shining through the water - It was something a little like that only slower, really something to see!  Also what we saw with our eyes was slightly less of a bright green than what the camera captured.  Please find below a tiny reflection of the glory of God:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Passing of a Friend

On 3rd February our very good friend and benefactor, Mr John Friel passed away after a long fight against cancer.

John was our first parishioner and supporter on Stronsay and had lived on the island since the early 1980s.  Over the 15 years since our arrival here in Orkney, he provided invaluable assistance in the building of our monastery as well as being a regular at Holy Mass on Stronsay.  One of our priests was with him for the hour leading up to his death repeating the prayers for the dying, and encouraging his soul in its last agony.

It was John's great wish to be buried on Papa Stronsay.  His body was brought to Papa Stronsay the day before the ceremony and laid in the chapel.

After the sung funeral Mass the procession made its way to the Monastery cemetery.

There was something very beautiful and special about the procession as it made its way along the beach, the sun setting as the day began to close.

Fr Yousef Marie conducted the burial.  John's two brothers, Philip and Glenn, were present also.

As is our custom once the burial ceremony is over the grave is immediately filled in.

All the men present take it in turns to do their part, while the rosary is prayed.

It brings finality and a sense of completion.

Br Nicodemus Mary plants the funeral processional Cross.

John's dearest wife, Marilyn, lays flowers on his grave.  Our prayers and our deepest sympathies go out to her.

A final blessing upon his final resting-place.

We owe a great deal to John Friel.  We hope we will continue to be the beneficiaries of his solicitude in the form of intercession from his eternity.

Requiescat in pace. Amen.

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