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Friday, November 30, 2007

A double celebration

Today we celebrate, not only the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, but also the 30th aniversary of the final profession of Rev. Fr Michael Mary, C.SS.R. We ask St. Andrew to look with kindness upon Father, and to obtain many graces for him, as well as for Scotland, whose principal patron he is. The following account of his life is taken from the lessons of the Roman Breviary for matins.

The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God”, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ going by, called them both, before any other of the apostles, with the words “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. They made no delay, but left their nets and followed Him. After the death and resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia (The Pontic-Caspian steppe: Kazakhstan, southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. The northern Caucasus area, including Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Sarmatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland up to Oceanus Sarmaticus known also as Baltic. Southern Ukraine with the lower Danube river area and Bulgaria, also known as Scythia Minor) as the province of his preaching and after labouring there, he went through Epirus (southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania) and Thrace (The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. Ancient Thrace included present-day Bulgaria, European Turkey, northeastern Greece and parts of eastern Serbia and eastern Republic of Macedonia. Its boundaries were between the Danube River to the north and the Aegean Sea to the south, to the east - the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and on the west to the Vardar and Great Morava rivers. The Roman province of Thrace was somewhat smaller, having the same eastern maritime limits and being bounded on the north by the Balkan Mountains; the Roman province extended west only to the Mesta River), where he turned vast mutitudes to Christ by his teaching a mirachles. Finaly he went to Patras is Achaia (Peloponnese in southern Greece and bordered on the north by the provinces of Epirus and Macedonia), and there also he bought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Ægeas the Pro-consul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all. Then Ægeas being angry answered him “Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed Him not, and He was crucified by the Jews.” Whereto Andrew bodly answered that Christ had given Himself up to die for man’s salvation; but the Pro-consul blasphemously interupted him, and bade him look to himself and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, “We have a altar whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One and the True, not the flesh of bulls, nor the blood of goats, but the Lamb without spot, and when all they that believe have eaten of the flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth.” Then Ægeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitued, and earnistly besought the mutitude not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near. Some short while after he was brought before the judgement seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross and rebuked Ægeas for his ungodliness. Then Ægeas could bare whith him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified in imitation of Christ. Andrew then was led to the place of martyrdom, and as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out, “O precious cross, which the members of my Lord have made so goodly, how long have I desired thee! How warmly have I loved thee! How constantly have I sought thee! And now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master, that as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.” So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time, he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and finaly passed in to the presence of HimThe likeness of Whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine, the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards (by the Crusaders, A.D. 1210) brought to Amalfi. His head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter.

We also remember with heartfelt thanks the meeting that took place 20 years ago on the Feast of St Francis Xavier, 3rd December, between Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr Michael Mary during which the Archbishop encouraged father to begin the foundation of the Transalpine Redemptorists. This followed by a meeting with Cardinal Gagnon, Apostolic Visitator at the time, who encouraged father also to make a foundation, clearly indicated God's Holy Will and there was no option but to obey. Te Deum laudamus.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Letter to Greg

Last night we received a welcome comment from 'Greg', a visitor to our blog (with a great name!). He left comments on the subject of the little number of the saved. This matter is of interest to many and so, with very best wishes to everone, we post our reply to 'Greg' here:
Dear Greg
Thank you for your most important questions about the little number of the saved. I agree with you that it is something that makes us wonder if it could be true. Probably everybody who has considered this matter would hope that 100% of humanity was saved for the Holy Ghost tells us that 'God wants all men to be saved'. Yet it would appear that it is not the case that the greater number is saved.

But let us first say that, with God's grace, it is not extremely difficult to be saved. Everyone who dies in a state of grace is saved. To die in a state of grace it is necessary that we be truly sorry for all our mortal sins, with a sorrow that is either perfect, or made perfect in Confession by the sacramental absolution.
Remember the young man who asked Our Lord what was necessary to enter into life. Our Lord simply replied to keep the commandments.

Many of the canonised Doctors of the Church, considering all the aspects of the matter tell us that a true devotion to Mary is an assurance of salvation.
St Alphonsus summed them up by saying that 'a child of Mary can never be lost'. A child of Mary is one who has a true devotion to Her.

To have a true devotion to Mary, he teaches, two things are necessary:
1 either that he be in a state of grace or that he truly desires to abandon sin
2 that he is constant in his practise of devotion to the Mother of God.

Then the Holy Doctor teaches that any devotion no matter how small would be sufficient provided that it is constant.

  • So far it seems pretty easy for someone who wants to save his soul:
  • If he is in sin he has to (seriously) want to get out of it;
  • and he has to be constant in his practise of devotion to Our Lady;
  • and he will make it into heaven.

    Saint Alphonsus even gives you his well considered minimum requirement for what he means by devotion.

    He says that he would consider that you had a constant devotion to Our Lady if every morning and every evening you knelt down and said the following prayer three times:
    Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with Thee,blessed art Thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
    By Thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy. My Mother, free me this day/night from mortal sin.

    And Greg, that's it.
  • Saving your soul is not massive amounts of aceticism,
  • nor is it knowing abstruce knowledge
  • nor being in a state of de facto canonisation
  • nor being among the top 1-2 % of humanity.
  • Even if you are trapped in mortal sins and
  • really want to get out of them,
  • and if in this terrible state you want to be a child of Mary and get to heaven,
  • and if you will get on your knees every morning and every evening
  • and say that prayer to Our Lady....
She on Her part will not reject you.

  • She will take you as Her child,
  • She will intercede for you with Our Lord,
  • you will get the opportunity of making a good confession,
  • you will return to friendship with God,
  • you will get to heaven.

That's not difficult. And it is theologically certain that a child of Mary can never be lost.

But Greg,
will people take the means? Here is the fork of the river. This is where the people vote by their behaviour and where, even though it is so easy, the greater number of people seem to choose not to bother, or not to care. So the saints throughout the ages, watching the way people live, have constantly taught that the greater part (or percentage) of adult souls are lost. They don't teach this as good news; it is noted that many taught it with tears and in fear.

And these authorities are the greatest Doctors and Fathers of the Church, here are a few of them:

  • St Basil the Great,

  • St John Chrysostom,

    St Augustine,


  • St Gregory the Great (the Popes' Pope!)
  • Thomas Aquinas, (the Angel of the Schools)
  • St Bonaventure,
  • St Anselm,
  • St Ephrem,
  • St Alphonsus
    These people are all the big 'heavyweights' of the Church:
  • They are canonised saints because of their heroic virtues and holiness
  • They are the Doctors, the great luminaries of the Church-
  • it represents eminent holiness and theological depths all talking in unison.

    Then there are the lists of canonised saints who are not doctors but who also taught the same doctrine, whether by

the silent witness of St Simon Stylites in the desert

or the booming voice of St Vincent Ferrier of the Middle Ages

or the gentle voice of the Cure of Ars in the 1800's; they taught that the greater number of souls are lost and the lesser number are saved

as did a host of saints in between them.

And what does it say when there is not a canonised saint who contradicts this opinion of the Doctors or even ventures to say that it is possibly a bit exaggerated?

I have not found a saint who contradicts this opinion of the Doctors. I've been looking. If you find one such Saint please send me their quotes.

But is it just the Doctors and Saints of the East and West who agree on this terrible point?

Let us go to Truth Himself and we find in the Holy Gospel a man asking Our Lord:

'Lord are they few that are saved?'

And how does Our Lord take it? Does he take the man aside? Does He whisper in his ear? Does he give some private answer so as not to frighten anyone? Does the Gospel say: "But he said to him..." ? Not so! The Holy Ghost says that he addressed everyone present using the plural: "But he said to them:

Strive to enter by the narrow gate:

for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter and shall not be able...." (St Luke Ch XIII:23-24)

In St Matthew's Gospel it is the same and more, Our Lord says that they are "many" who are lost and they are "few" who are saved:

"Enter ye at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction: and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate and strait the way that leadeth to life: and few there are who find it. ..." (St Matthew VII: 13-14)

It is easy in our time to give way to discouragement but if we will follow St Alphonsus by practising the Three Hail Marys there is no need for this discouragement.

I agree with you, Greg, that making sense of it all is another step. God's Victory is that everything of His Creation will glorify Him from their own free choice. With the angels we know that by their free choice one third of them chose to become devils for eternity. It is a cause of tears that many of our fellow men will choose to join them for eternity and that few in comparison to the many will be citizens of heaven.

However this few of the saved is to be understood as being in comparison with the many of the lost; but that is still a great number. "I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia." (Apocalypse XIX:1)

We are taught by the Holy Ghost that in heaven there is "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues..." (Apocalypse VII:9). So there will be so many people in heaven that it will be impossible to count them all; that is how many the 'few' will be; we are talking billions and there is no reason why you and I should not firmly hope to be among their holy number. They will be glorifying God's attribute of mercy; let us also do it.

In hell there will also be a great number and, by the free choices they have made in their lives, they will have chosen rather to glorify God's attribute of Justice. Let us keep away from this by being truly sorry for our sins, by going to frequent Confession and Holy Communion and by our constant practise of the Three Hail Marys asking the protection of Our Blessed Mother to keep us from mortal sin (which is the great evil).

Finally, may I comment on your point that there is another opinion on this matter in the same Catholic Church. Yes, there is. But it is an opinion that is not certified by the Saints and Doctors of the Church nor by the weight of 2,000 years of tradition going back to the voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The opinion that 'many are saved and few are lost' also makes people careless about so many issues that are mortally sinful. Let me simply say, as others have said, it is better to believe Our Lord's words and the teaching of the Doctors and Saints. Their doctrine is life-giving. By following it one is attentive to do everything possible to grow in holiness. But the chances are that if you follow the opinion that 'nearly everyone is saved' you will probably do very little to save your soul; and you run the risk of not doing enough. It is dangerous thinking. It is the thinking that leads so many to the eternity of hell where they will be glorifying God's Justice. For we will all glorify either God's mercy or His justice for eternity.

I hope this helps in some way, and if you would like to discuss the matter further you could send a comment with your email address and the request that the comment be not posted on the blog. We could make contact that way.

Your devoted servant,

Fr Michael Mary, C.SS.R.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The twelve days of Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year, but in a Redemptorist monastery, you can enjoy the true spirit of Christmas 12 times a year! As part of our aim as Redemptorists, which is to imitate Christ's life, and also to honour the infant Jesus, we celebrate a 'little Christmas' on the 25th of every month of the year. On this day our morning meditation is on one of the virtues practiced by the infant Jesus, and a Redemptorist priest has the privilege of saying the Mass of Christmas day. Here at Papa Stronsay we also set out in the Church a manger with a statue of Our Lord inside and candles either side. We often sing Christmas Carols after Holy Mass, as well as at recreation seen below. In this way, we keep alive the true spirit of the birth of our Saviour throughout the year, and as a Redemptorist priest once said, we celebrate Christmas well 12 times a year, to make reparation for those who celebrate it badly once a year.

To order one or more of our recently printed Christmas book, 'Silent Night', as seen in use in the above photo, please write to:

The Desert Will Flower Press,
Golgotha Monastery Island,
Papa Stronsay,
KW17 2AR,
United Kingdom

Friday, November 09, 2007

275th anniversary of the CSSR!

Today we celebrated the 275th anniversary since Our Holy Father St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer!!!

Ad multos annos! Vivat in aeternum!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Papa Stronsay in a breeze of 80 knots!

Today winds reached 80 knots from the North West. Because our monastery is located on Southern side of the island, we didn't suffer any damage, it was a breeze; but on Stronsay, across the water, our St Magnus Priory together with rest of Whitehall Village lost its supply of electricity.

Looking accross of Papa Stronsay territorial waters towards Stronsay.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Having finished the conference in Cleveland, Ohio, Rev Fr Anthony Mary, C.SS.R. and the two brothers moved on to Canada to pay a visit to Fr Gruner at the Fatima Center. Fr Anthony was interviewed for possible TV programs which the Fatima Center puts out once a week on two Canadian Channels and one American Channel. Father gave a number of sermon-like talks and also some interviews.

The entrance to the Fatima Centre .

Fr Anthony Mary, C.SS.R. talks to the camera.

Father is interviewed by Fr Gruner.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Redemptorists abroad

Although not at home, we thought it might be of some interest to you to hear of some recent activities of the Transalpine Redemptorists abroad. Recently Rev Fr Anthony Mary, C.SS.R., went with Br Dominic Mary, C.SS.R. and Br Martin Mary, C.SS.R. to the Unites States, where Rev Fr Anthony Mary spoke at the annual Catholic Family News conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

Father joined nine other top class speakers including John Vennari, Fr Patrick Perez, Michael Matt and Dr. David Allan White. The conference was commemorating the centenary of Pope St. Pius X’s landmark anti-modernist encyclical, Pascendi. Rev Fr Anthony Mary spoke on the subject of saving your soul amidst the present crisis. Just as Father was talking about the importance of being aware of the presence of Angels and Devils all around us, the fire alarms were mysteriously triggered in the conference room, disrupting the conference quite considerably. However, all Satan managed to achieve was a few extra decades of the rosary, recited by all 210 members of the audience, while they waited for the alarms to be shut down. The large number of people attending made this the most successful Catholic Family News conference yet. We hope that every one present received many graces and renewed strength to keep up the combat for the Faith.

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