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Friday, November 21, 2014

On measures taken to keep us listing slightly to starboard.



Today, 21st November, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, is the day chosen by us to grapple with the demands both of monastic observance and communication with the outside world. Since both are necessary.

Leave the world and give yourself to Me.

In monastic life we follow St. Alphonsus who as a young man was directly told by a voice from heaven: "Leave the world and give yourself to me." This led him eventually to Ciorani where he and his early companions were described as "the solitaries of Ciorani."

From young manhood until his death when over 90, 
whether as solitary, missionary or bishop
Alphonsus, our father, left the world 
and gave himself to Jesus.

The spiritual men who knew St Alphonsus and his companions, including his first biographer the Servant of God, Fr Antonio Tannoia, C.SS.R., considered those first Redemptorists to have lived their monastic life as did the early Desert Fathers in Nubia and the Thebaid. Fr Tannoia’s high praise for St Alphonsus is echoed without exception by other writers.
Repeatedly expressions are used such as:
“a hermitage, a lonely, solitary spot” (the Monastery at Ciorani) where “Nubia and the Thebaid never saw coenobites more given to contemplation than our hermits”
“the blessed hermitage” where the saint’s life “might be compared to that of the anchorites of the desert.”
Scala which was the cradle of the institute is variously described as:
“the desert”
“the hermitage so well adapted for recollection and prayer”
“difficult of access”
“remote”
“this desert", where a "truly eremitical life began for all of them”
“the solitude of the anchorites of Egypt” where “we live in calm and silence far from the tumult of the world, hearing nothing of what is passing there”
“the new Thebaid”
“the solitude” where they lived “on the hill alone, like Jesus in the desert.”
The monastery of Iliceto: "the hermitage”
The monastery of Caposele:  “the hermitage”
The monastery at Villa degli Schiavi: "the hemitage."

The cells of Papa Stronsay.
The early life of St Alphonsus and his companions is our beautiful heritage. 
In the monastery-island of Papa Stronsay we cherish this ideal.
In a far inferior degree we strive to pursue it.

All this is true. It is also true that our holy vocation calls us to the apostolate and the salvation of souls. St. Alphonsus was as on fire in his search for souls, as he was, at other times, in search of solitude.

Venerable double vocation! 

Yes! To continual prayer in solitude, 
cut off from the world, as a hermit. 


Yes too! 
To untiring mission to souls,
 in the midst of the world, as an Apostle. 

These two directions, like identical twins, wrestle with each other. They always did. They still do. St Alphonsus, in the early Constitutions of 1764, brought the two vocations to an almost perfect balance.

"Thar she blows!"
The S.S. "St Alphonsus," making for port 
but slightly listing to starboard.
She is in search of big fish. Indeed she's ... a whaler! 
-but rightly ballasted to her starboard side.

St Alphonsus, as it were, constructed his sons a fishing boat to go in search of souls, but he ballasted the ship in such a way that it always slightly listed to starboard, the side of solitude; under the gaze of the Star of the Sea, the Morning Star, the Stella Matutina.


Our Lady! Our Sweetness! Who fixes us in our love of solitude, 
search for God and flight from the world!
She is called Porta Caeli, Gate of Heaven, 
obtaining grace for the salvation for souls
 through missionary efforts on the fishing boat's port side. 

As a measure to protect our vocation to solitude and, in the good sense, our call to flight from the world, we have decided, as an experiment, that from today we will greatly limit our use of the Internet, keeping its use to Thursdays. We will post on the Internet (Blog or Facebook) only on Thursdays. We will receive or reply to email only on Thursdays.


Our little boat Stella Maris 
has set her course for the solitude of the sea. 
We keep you in our prayers, 
and ask for yours, for us.

Thursdays will see us back into port, 
fresh, buoyed up, and surely still listing slightly to starboard.

Monday, November 03, 2014

All Souls Day

 The day of the commemoration of all the faithful departed, remembering all the souls in Purgatory, is this year transferred from the 2nd to the 3rd November because the 2nd November was a Sunday.  On this day there are three Masses celebrated for the poor souls and they are traditionally celebrated one after the other, going from the last gospel immediately to the prayers at the foot of the altar of the next Mass.  It is a lovely tradition and helps to mark the day as special, in the same way that the late night Easter Vigil, or Christmas Midnight Mass highlight the fact that their respective feasts are of some increased importance.

 
The first of the three Masses on Papa Stronsay is a low Mass.

 
 The confrères all receive communion at this Mass.  It is a wonderful thing to offer your reception of Holy Communion for the relief of the souls in Purgatory, thus providing them with the helps which they can no longer obtain for themselves.

 The second Mass is a sung Mass.  The mournful chant which Holy Mother the Church has assigned to this Mass help to raise our minds to the plight of the souls in Purgatory and move us to have compassion on them.

The third Mass is again, a low Mass.

Do not allow this day to pass without thinking of and praying for the holy souls in Purgatory.

Remember that if you die with one mortal sin on your soul, you will go to hell.  This means that the all the souls in Purgatory died in the state of grace, they practised their faith and frequented the sacraments.  They are what we might term good people.  They will not therefore be forgetful of the assistance which you render them today and during the rest of your pilgrimage on earth and will repay you with their own prayers before the throne of God.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Confirmations in Christchurch, New Zealand

On 18 October, His Lordship
Most Reverend Basil Meeking, D.D., 
Emeritus Bishop of Christchurch
administered the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation
to five young people of our 
Latin Mass Chaplaincy in the Diocese.
 
After the Confirmations, His Lordship celebrated Holy Mass.
  
...and distributed certificates to those to whom he had imparted the Sacrament!

Deo Gratias!
Thank you to Felicity Markholm for so kindly taking the photos!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 7

There is a Sarum Breviary located in the library of Wake Forest University, North Carolina. This breviary was published in 1555 and contains a calendar not unlike that which we might expect to find in a more modern Latin breviary. In this calendar are found the dates on which the sun enters each constellation of the Zodiac, just as in the Papa Stronsay Calendar.

This page from a Sarum Rite breviary printed in 1555 gives the date that the sun enters Aquarius: Sol in aquario.


The "Aberdeen breviary" was edited by the eminent and highly respected Bishop William Elphinstone and was printed in 1507.  At the appropriate place in every month can be seen the words “Sol in…” and then the name of the sign of the zodiac for that month — exactly as is found in the Papa Stronsay Calendar, which you can purchase at the bottom of this post.

The calendar page for March in the Aberdeen breviary.  It marks the date on which the sun enters the constellation of Aries: Sol in ariete. 


The Papa Stronsay calendar for 2015 also gives the date on which the sun enters each of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, just like the old Aberdeen breviary and the Sarum Rite breviary shown above: Sol in Ariete.

Showing the sun entering the constellation of Aries, I think it is a good place to again remind ourselves of the words of Pope St Leo the Great:

"In the fifth century there was a controversy between Rome and Alexandria about what the latest possible date for Easter could be.  According to Alexandrian tradition, it was April 25.  Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) criticized this very late date by pointing out that, according to the Bible, Easter should fall in the first month, and the first month did not mean April, but the time when the sun is passing through the first part of the Zodiac — the sign of Aries.  The constellation in the heavens seemed to speak, in advance and for all time, of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (Jn I:29), the one who sums up in himself all the sacrifices of the innocent and gives them their meaning.  The mysterious story of the ram, caught in the thicket and taking the place of Isaac as the sacrifice decreed by God himself, was now seen as the pre-history of Christ.  The fork of the tree in which the ram was hanging was seen as a replica of the sign of Aries, which in turn was the celestial foreshadowing of the crucified Christ." - Pope Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 99-100

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14




You can order the Calendar right here and now:
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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 6

The Hunterian Psalter (or York Psalter) was produced in England sometime around A.D. 1170 and is now part of the collection of Glasgow University Library.  Besides very many deeply religious and devotional pieces of artistic decoration, the astronomical Zodiac sign for each month is also exquisitely illustrated in a roundel on every calendar page.

The Zodiac sign of Sagittarius in the Hunterian Psalter.  It is hard to dismiss the use of the Zodiac as untraditional in the Catholic Church when documents as far back as A.D. 1170 clearly show it being used to track the passing of time.

The illustration of the Zodiac sign of Gemini in the  Hunterian Psalter.

Keep watching this space for more great examples of the Catholic Church using the Zodiac constellations through the ages!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14




You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity: 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 5

Isabella Breviary was given to Queen Isabella I of Castile (Isabella the Catholic) as a gift on the occasion of the double marriage of her children.  It was composed in the late 1480s in Bruges in the Dominican style.  Here is an extract from the Wikipedia article on the Isabella Breviary:

A page from the calendar of the Isabella Breviary.  Note the Zodiac sign of Virgo in the top right of the page. 
“Besides the feast days, the calendar contains also the computistical entries necessary to determine the day of the week corresponding to a given calendar date. In the first column one can find the golden number and in the second the Dominical letter. In the third column the date is expressed in the according to the Roman calendar with kalendae, nonae and idus. Also the date on which the sun enters a zodiacal sign is indicated in the calendar.  In the heading for each month the number of days and lunar days is given and the length of day and night is indicated.”
Again notice the miniature illustration of the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius in the top left corner, as well as the indication of the date on which the sun enters the sign of Sagittarius: Sol in Sagittario.

As noted above, the highly Catholic Isabella Breviary notes the date on which the sun enters each constellation of the Zodiac, just as the Papa Stronsay calendar does. See the image of the 2015 Papa Stronsay Calendar below to witness over 500 years of Catholic tradition in action!

 In the Papa Stronsay Calendar, the date on which the sun enters each constellation of the Zodiac is marked: Sol in Sagittario.


Keep watching this space for more great examples of the Catholic Church using the Zodiac constellations through the ages!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14




You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity: 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 4

Ancient astronomers and keepers of time divided the annual course of the Sun across the 12 Zodiac constellations into 12, 30 degree segments. In a year, the Sun moves across the Zodiac to complete a 360 degree circuit. The Sun takes about a month to move from one Zodiac constellation to the next. A reason why a year is divided into 12 months. The Moon takes 29.5 days to complete a cycle from Full Moon to the next. Another reason why a month, on average, is 30 days.


The Zodiac therefore is not a superstitious method of predicting the future by looking at the stars, but rather a perfectly wonderful, God-given method of telling the time and calculating the date.  By looking at the image, you can see that you could just as easily say Pisces as you could March; after all, March is named after the Pagan god of war, Mars.

Keep watching this space for some great examples of the Catholic Church using the Zodiac constellations through the ages!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14




You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 3

During a moon-cycle, the Moon moves across the 12 Zodiac constellations. The first astronomers divided the monthly orbit of the Moon into 28 different sections called 'lunar mansions'. Each 'mansion' is approximately one day of the lunar cycle, or about 12.2 degrees of the Moon's 360 degree circuit. This 28 division of the Moon cycle can be divided into four phase periods of the Moon. How 7 days was determined to be a week, correlates with the 7 day moon phase division of 28.


This is important as is demonstrates that the constellations of the Zodiac are not the same thing as astrology.  They are simply part of the intricate calendar designed by God.  This is why, in keeping with the ancient tradition of the Church, the Papa Stronsay calendar tracks not only the sun's progress through the constellations of the Zodiac, but the lunar calendar as well! Order your Papa Stronsay Calendar below.

More to come, so watch this space!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14





You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Queen's Message

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Portrait taken at Balmoral

Message from the Queen following the Scottish Referendum

After many months of discussion, debate, and careful thought, we now know the outcome of the Referendum, and it is a result that all of us throughout the United Kingdom will respect.

For many in Scotland and elsewhere today, there will be strong feelings and contrasting emotions – among family, friends and neighbours. That, of course, is the nature of the robust democratic tradition we enjoy in this country. But I have no doubt that these emotions will be tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others.

Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all. Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly-held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support, to work constructively for the future of Scotland and indeed all parts of this country.

My family and I will do all we can to help and support you in this important task.

ELIZABETH R.

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 2

The Papa Stronsay Calendar is out now to order, and it can be purchased at the bottom of this post.  In the promotional video, also found below, the sun's course through the constellations of the Zodiac is mentioned as being marked on the calendar.  The Zodiac is these days associated almost entirely with superstitious astrology, but the Zodiac is not astrology.


Timekeeping was devised by identifying and measuring the movement of the Sun and Moon across the Zodiac constellations.  A 360 degree system plots and times the course of the Sun in a year. The coordinate system can be easily divided by 60, 30 and 15.  A minute has 60 seconds. An hour 60 minutes. One day of 24 hours divided by 2 is 12.  The stars move towards the west one minute in distance, every minute, or one degree every four minutes.  The sun and stars move fifteen degrees in one hour.  Fifteen degrees multiplied by the four which it takes to complete one degree gives us sixty minutes.  Thus the very time which we daily read from our wrist-watch is determined by tracking the motion of the sun and stars across the sky.

More to come, so watch this space!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14





You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Signs, Seasons, Days and Years — 1

There has recently been a question regarding the Papa Stronsay Calendar, which you can purchase at the bottom of this post.

The question regards the signs of the Zodiac which are marked on the calendar.  The Zodiac does not mean astrologyAstrology is a superstitious system of divining which is condemned by the church.  With the signs of the Zodiac we simply track the sun through the constellations of the Zodiac during the year.  The sun takes very nearly one month exactly to transit one constellation.  Thus it is simply marking the months.  Nothing whatever to do with predicting the future.


It is a venerable method of time-keeping and has been used by the Church since the beginning.

"In the fifth century there was a controversy between Rome and Alexandria about what the latest possible date for Easter could be.  According to Alexandrian tradition, it was April 25.  Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) criticized this very late date by pointing out that, according to the Bible, Easter should fall in the first month, and the first month did not mean April, but the time when the sun is passing through the first part of the Zodiac — the sign of Aries.  The constellation in the heavens seemed to speak, in advance and for all time, of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (Jn I:29), the one who sums up in himself all the sacrifices of the innocent and gives them their meaning.  The mysterious story of the ram, caught in the thicket and taking the place of Isaac as the sacrifice decreed by God himself, was now seen as the pre-history of Christ.  The fork of the tree in which the ram was hanging was seen as a replica of the sign of Aries, which in turn was the celestial foreshadowing of the crucified Christ." - Pope Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 99-100



Scholars show Pope Gregory XIII a chart of the Sun against the Zodiac to indicate the location of the Sun throughout a year.  This great pontiff was responsible for the reform of the calendar into form we have today.

The Zodiac is profoundly bound up with Catholicism.
More to come, so watch this space!

"And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14





You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Papa Stronsay Calendar - Better than Ever!

The Papa Stronsay Calendar for 2015 is out now!  Have a look at the video below to see what you're missing out on:


There really is so much packed into our calendar, that you won't need any other calendar for the whole year!

You can order the Calendar right here and now:
Quantity: 

If you have problems, you can use this link to do it directly from our online store.

There have been some questions regarding why we mark the suns transit through the signs of the Zodiac.  To understand why and how this is Catholic, click the "Signs of the Zodiac" label, or click here.
Remember that if you are already a subscriber to our Catholic Newspaper, you will automatically receive one copy of the calendar as part of that subscription.  Please also allow up to three weeks for delivery of your calendar.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Phase Two Completed

August, 2014, saw the completion of phase two
 of the work on the Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour,
 the chapel attached to our monastery in
 Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Oratory as it stood after phase one in March, 2013.
 The dome over the altar and beautiful arch window
 allowing light to stream in during the morning Mass is in place.
 Much of the sanctuary furnishing is in place along with the altar steps.
The Oratory on 31 August, 2014. 
The Gospel side of the sanctuary in March, 2013.
The Holy Baptism of little Ambrose Green on 31 August, 2014.
The Gospel side of the sanctuary has been transformed
 with a new door and window installed,
 new panelling fixed on the lower walls.
 To see the many young families that crowd into the
 Oratory every Sunday, injecting so much
 life and joy into the community is 
an hundred fold reward to all those 
who have contributed to the work.
2013
2014

In the wall of the Gospel side of the sanctuary
 an Ambry for the reservation of the Holy Oils
 has been installed. 
Two side altars have been installed
 in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
 and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The altar of the Sacred Heart is erected
 in memory of Mr Duncan Simon, R.I.P. 
while the altar of the Immaculate Heart
 is erected in memory 
of Mrs Nancye Price, R.I.P.

 
The Altar of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima in its own chapel. 
This altar is erected in memory of Mr Michael Hayes, R.I.P.
The shrine of St Joseph 
erected in memory of Rev. Fr Augustine Cummins, C.SS.R., R.I.P.
The first and last thought in entering the Oratory 
is Our Blessed Lady of Christchurch.
 The ceiling around her altar is coffered 
and embellished with fleur-de-lis.
 The newly refurbished 
Stations of the Cross line the walls. 
 The stars which adorn the ceiling remind us
 of our Heavenly home,
 wherein dwells the Father of Lights!  
Our thanks to all our many and dear friends in Christchurch
 who gave of their time and substance
 to make this beautiful work possible
 for the glory of God and His Holy Church -
 helping with painting, woodworking, building,
 purchasing materials,
 cooking and catering for the work days, etc.
  This chapel is a fitting tribute to you all. 

As Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, 
it has been our privilege to make this humble effort
 for the rebuilding of the fair city of Christchurch,
 and provide a little sanctuary
 where souls may come to spend time
 with Our Heavenly Queen,
 and may enjoy some of the
 beauty of the traditional Rite.

Indeed we cannot repeat too often in our lives: 
Thanks be to God for all He has done
 and is doing for us.

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