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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Catholic Sun

In reference to the previous post regarding the blessing of wine, the following quotation form Hilaire Belloc seemed appropriate:


“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!”

We wish you all a happy and holy continuation of the Christmas Season.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The poisonous cup, the Sign of the Cross and the blessing of wine.

The Feast of St John,
27th December,
saw us bless wine in his honour.


This blessing is usually bestowed immediately after
the Last Gospel at Mass but it may also be  given
outside of the Mass.
We had it in the refectory before dinner.


In the Roman Ritual there are two blessings
for wine on the feast of St John.

How we came to bless wine in honour of St John.

In his later years and while living at Ephesus, St. John preached the Gospel and “idol-worshippers stirred up a riot among the populace, and they dragged him to the temple of Diana and tried to force him to offer sacrifice to the goddess.
Then the saint proposed this alternative: if by invoking Diana they overturned the church of Christ, he would offer sacrifice to the idols; but if by invoking Christ he destroyed Diana’s temple, they would believe in Christ.
To this proposal the greater number of the people gave their consent. When all had gone out of the building, the apostle prayed, the temple collapsed to the ground, and the statue of Diana was reduced to dust.”


St John holding the poisoned chalice
associated 
with the blessing of wine.
In response, the high priest Aristodemus incited the people against the apostle.
He then challenged St. John, saying:
“If you want me to believe in your God, I will give you poison to drink. If it does you no harm, it will be clear that your master is the true God.”
St. John consented. But first Aristodemus had two condemned criminals released from prison and, in the presence of the crowd, gave them the poison to drink so that St. John would have to watch them die and it would fill him with a greater fear for his own life.

“Then the apostle took the cup, 
armed himself with the Sign of the Cross, drained the drink, 
and suffered no harm, and all present began to praise God” 
(Voragine, The Golden Legend. Vol. I., p. 53).




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Night Mass. + Et lux in tenebris lucet... And the light shineth in darkness...

Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia,
et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet...

While all things were in quiet silence,
and the night was in the midst of her course...

Omnipotens sermo tuus, Domine,
de coelis a regalibus sedibus venit. 

Thy Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from heaven
from Thy royal throne.

Silent night, holy night. 
The night continued to dominate us as Mass began,
our little candles bravely faced the darkness
until men with angels sang:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!
The continuous ringing of bells announced
the arrival of the Infant King of Heaven.
The chapel was lit up and the Collect thanked God:
 Who made this most holy night to shine forth
with the brightness of the true light.
 The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men.
announces the Subdeacon as he chants the Epistle.
 I bring you tidings of great joy.
The Holy Gospel is always proclaimed facing the darkness of the North.

Bethlehem ~ House of Bread.
The priest offers the spotless host.

Et verbum caro factum est.
And the Word was made flesh ~ and that flesh is made Bread.

I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven.
If any man eat of this Bread he shall live for ever;
and the Bread that I shall give
is my flesh for the life of the world.
Amen, amen I say unto you:
Except you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood
you shall not have life in you.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath life everlasting
and I will raise him up on the last day.
(Jn. 6: 51-55)

After Mass the image of the Infant was incensed
and the priest blessed each of us with the statue
of the baby Jesus.
Having received the blessing each person 
venerated the representation of the holy Child.

O Holy Night!  
O Holy Mass of Christ! ~ O Christmas!
O Holy House of Bread ~ Sweet Bethlehem so near us!
Sweet Jesus I love Thee, come into my heart!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On Christmas Eve

On December 19th stormy winds set in and dominated Orkney 
making it impossible to cross from Stronsay to Papa Stronsay.
Things looked bleak for Christmas.
Having our outdoor crib looked impossible;
 the wind was too strong.
But....
On the morning of Christmas Eve we awoke to find that 
the tempest had stilled 
("flat calm")
giving a fresh aspect to the Christmas Carol
"all is calm, all is bright!"

The opportunity is seized to erect the Christmas crib.
In last year's storm, the entire roof, although secured by ropes, 
was blown off the crib and over the nearby shed.
We can't have a repeat of last year!
Br Magdala Maria is assessing the shed roof
and calculating how many screws would be needed 
to keep their roof beams from being blown over it ?

A quick bite during work.
Baked Beans from the tin, fried eggs, toast....and salt
fed their bodies,
while the spirit of Christmas Eve 
(...finishing the crib and chapel, revising chant and rubrics) 
fed their souls. 
And so it was.
For the Glory of God the crib was erected.
Blessed little island of Stronsay lost in the North Sea!
You have an outside crib celebrating the Saviour's birth
with shepherds and sheep,
three kings and three camels!
And Christmas comes once more!

The day is done..... or just begun.
At 11.00 p.m. we began the popular vigil devotions
as we awaited the midnight dawning 
of the Daystar from on High.

Veni veni, Emmanuel!
Veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Holy Father's Christmas Blessing

Monday, December 24, 2012

Completion of the Way of Bethlehem

Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 23, 2012

IV Sunday of Advent


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ember Saturday, III Week of Advent

The Holy Infant of Great Sorrow

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, III Week of Advent

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some Winter Heat?

We may live in Orkney and it may be winter, 
but Papa Stronsay is feeling the heat at present.
Our Br Jean Marie, F.SS.R.
has been trying chilli's and peppers in the greenhouse this year
and the December harvest has just come in.
One may almost imagine one was in the fair climes of 
the great Indian sub-continent!
And what a joy that would be for all of us
 as we recall the privilege some of us enjoyed 
of visiting some years ago
the tomb of the Holy Apostle St Thomas,
whose feast it is today,
situated much like that of the confession of St Peter
below the magnificent Cathedral of Chennai-Madras.
 We wish all our Indian readers a happy and holy Feastday today.

Thursday, III Week of Advent

Holy Infant of the Four-Winds

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday, III Week of Advent

The Infant Nazarene of Petition of Guatemala

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rose of Stronsay in the Garden of the Church

Today in 2002, ten years ago
on the Feast of the 
Expectation of Our Blessed Lady,
work commenced on the transforming of
 an old building on the Stronsay Pier Head
into 
Our Lady's Chapel
for Christmas of that year
when the 
first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
would be celebrated within its walls.
2002
and 2012.
Exterior in 2002
the same in 2012.
18 December, 2002, Sr M. Onufria, OSBM, 
giving the chapel a much needed whitewash.
Professions on 2 February, 2003.
The first altar and sanctuary platform has been built
 and the walls whitewashed.
The hidden friend of Our Lady
Mr John Friel, friend, parishoner, expert joiner
and Stronsay Scouser
who has quietly worked on 
the chapel for many years.
Passiontide, 2009.
The walls have been plaster-boarded, 
the new marble altar installed,
 the first altar rails built,
and new pews in place.
August, 2009, new altar rails with gates ready to be installed.
Christmas, 2009.
April, 2011. The roof is decorated with celestial blue and golden stars.
Mr Paul Williams, master plasterer, 
with Brs Xavier Maria, F.SS.R. and Br Magdala Maria, F.SS.R.
 give the chapel its four bells in September, 2011.
 In November, 2011, the large Stations of the Cross are hung.

Thanks be to God and Our Lady
 for ten years of daily Mass
in Our Lady's Chapel
for the Holy Sacraments of 
Confession, Baptism and Confirmation received there,
for the religious professions made there.
Thanks be to God for its Union with
the Holy See of St Peter
that grace which makes our little chapel
the 
Chapel of Our Lady
in honour of the Perpetual Virginity of
Most Holy Mary
and of her title of "Mother of God"
defined by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, AD 431.
which blossoms forth like
a Rose of Stronsay
in the Garden of the Church.

Surpassing Expectations

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer
remember in their prayers today
and wish a very happy feastday to all
the many 
Mothers, Expectant Mothers and Hopeful Mothers-to-Be
who have requested relics of St Gerard and prayers 
during this last year. 

If you are that soul who 
like Holy Anna, Sarah, Rebecca and Elizabeth
longs to bear yourself 
that long desired little infant,
take heart on this
beautiful feast of the Church 
when we remember that on the eighth day from hence
Most Holy Mary Immaculate
will bring forth into the world a Saviour, 
"now" still hidden in her spotless womb.

Ask of her that long sought for blessing.
She will surely
surpass all your expectations!

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
 that never was it known that anyone
 who fled to thy protection,
 implored thy help, or sought thine intercession
 was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother;
 to thee do I come, before thee I stand,
 sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
 despise not my petitions,
 but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.

Tuesday, III Week of Advent


Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday, III Week of Advent

Sunday, December 16, 2012

III Sunday of Advent - Gaudete Sunday

Saturday, December 15, 2012

He turned the Storm into a Breeze

"And He turned the storm into a breeze: 
and its waves were still."
wrote the Holy Psalmist King David.
Today we had a spot of bother with the tide.
 Last night there was a storm to the east of Papa Stronsay
 which meant that this morning
as our Heavenly King
"turned the storm into a breeze"
 the great rollers of the North Sea
 still came crashing into the east of the island.
(If you click the above photograph to enlarge it
 you will see how tall the waves are in comparison
 to the little ruined house on the horizon.)

This, coupled with extremely high tides
 produces some interesting results!
The force of the sea between
 the pier and the monastery gatehouse
 drives big rocks up into the roadway.
The last remaining herring shed is engulf buy the sea
 as it come spewing inland through St Brigid's Bay.
The rough weather prevented our morning Rorate Mass,
 however by evening the sea was calmed
 but for a strong swell and an awful lot
 of seaweed and sand churned up in it.
 A large bull seal played near the boat as we crossed over,
 eager to find some delicious morsel thrown up by the storm.
 
Our 4pm Rorate Mass in the northern darkness (by 3.30pm).

Once again the words of the Holy Psalmist set the scene for us.
"Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight..."
  "...the lifting up of my hands..."
 "...as Evening Sacrifice."

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