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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Google come to Stronsay

On the 16th August, just after having told a good friend that I had never seen a "Google Car" in real life, what was my surprise to arrive on the Stronsay pier and find one waiting for the ferry! They are currently taking the "Google Street View" photos of Orkney. The only islands not included are Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay, since it is not possible to get there and back quickly enough. I asked him how long it was likely to be before they would be online and he told me that the last lot took about a year to get processed.

The Google Car. The camera is computer controlled from a laptop on the passenger side. The operator simply starts the software and then drives — the computer does the rest.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Final Profession on Papa Stronsay

The feast of the Assumption of our Lady into heaven, 15th August, saw the wonderful occasion of the final religious profession of Br. Martin Mary, F.SS.R. Most of his family were able to be present and his father and brothers sang in the schola. Here are some photos and video of that great day.

Brother is questioned by the superior who will receive his vows.

While the Veni Creator Spiritus is sung, brother prostrates himself on the floor and is covered with the pall, symbolising his death to the world.

The schola — Brother's father, Julian and his two brothers, Bill and Nick also sang.

Holy Mass — Suscipe Sancte Pater Omnipotens Æterne Deus.

Brother pronounces his holy vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as well as a vow and oath of perseverance.

The sacrifice is accomplished. Brother, having made his final vows, receives the biretta.

The community.

Brother with his family.

Brother's mother and father.

In the evening, to celebrate brother's profession and the feast of the Assumption, we had our annual bonfire and BBQ to which all are invited.

Deo Gratias et Mariæ!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you from the Redemptoristines

To all who contributed to the appeal for the Redemptoristine nuns.
On their behalf
we thank you most sincerely.

We have raised over $1,000:
$1,101.00 USD & £216.40
The nuns are anxious to receive your names
and they are already praying for your intentions.
You are their benefactors.

Good news came in from the Redemptoristine Nuns of
São Fidélis today.
Last week, on 6 August, they commemorated 297 years
since they received the traditional Redemptoristine habit
in honour of the Most Holy Redeemer.

They had been patiently waiting for their sewing machine
for some time
and it has arrived at last.

Already the Nuns are trying it out by making Palls.

Last week we received the following donations:
£50.00 from H. Ce of England
9 August, 2010
$20.00 from Paul Cl of England with the message:
God bless your invaluable work. Paul.
9 July, 2010
£96.40 Anon. England
13 August, 2010
$50.00 from Robert P , IN, USA with message:
Dear Sisters, May God bless you all. In Her Immaculate Heart, Bob P
14 August, 2010
$20.00 from Andrew B. Ont. Canada (3rd donation)

16 August, 2010
$50.00 from Kristijan Ci, Velika Gorica, Croatia

17 August, 2010
$25.00 from Tom Mn, NY, USA
$100.00 from Sheldon Ss, GA, USA
$10.00 from Jim Kk, AP, USA

18 August, 2010
$50.00 from Dan Pz, CA, USA

19 August, 2010
$50.00 from Susan De, CA, USA

This brings the total of money raised to:
Total 19 August: $1,101.00 USD & £216.40 + £20.00 per month.

We continue to appeal to every visitor:

Please, if you could,
kindly make an offering to the worthy cause
of these enclosed
traditional Redemptoristine Nuns
in Brazil.

Your cheques will also be listed on this site:

Please send cheques to:
Golgotha Monastery Island
Papa Stronsay, KW17 2AR
Orkney, UK

Make cheques payable to "Transalpine Redemptorists"

Thank you for helping.

Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Mrs. Valerie Potkins, R.I.P.

On Wednesday 4th August
we celebrated Requiem Mass
for the soul of our dear friend
Mrs. Valerie Potkins, R.I.P.
of Worthing, England.

The Mass was offered at 10.30 a.m.
which was the same time
that her funeral Mass was being offered in England.

O God, Whose nature it is ever to have mercy and to spare:
we suppliantly entreat Thee
on behalf of Thy handmaid Valerie

whom Thou hast this day bid to pass out of this life;

deliver her not we beseech Thee, into the hands of the enemy,
nor be Thou unmindful of her for ever:
but command that she be taken up by Thy holy angels,
and borne to our home in heaven: ...

that having put her faith and trust in Thee,
she may not undergo the pains of hell,
but obtain the joys of everlasting life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son
Who livest and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
One God for ever and ever. Amen.

[Collect for the Mass of Burial]

IN Paradisum deducant te Angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipat
et cum Lazaro, quondam paupere,
aeternam habeas requiem.

(MAY the angels lead thee into Paradise;
at thy coming may the Martyrs receive thee,
and bring thee into the holy City, Jerusalem.

May the Choir of Angels receive thee,
and with Lazarus, once a beggar,
mayest thou have eternal rest.)

Requiem aeternam dona ea Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat ea.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.

(Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord;
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A year after Pope's Africa storm, stats show he's still right on condoms

Of course he was right.

DENVER, Colorado (CNA) - Nearly a year after the Holy Father visited Africa and sparked controversy  over the ineffectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the facts continue to speak in favour of the Pope.

Benedict XVI’s March 2009 remarks on condoms were made to a French reporter as he explained the Church’s two-pronged approach to fighting AIDS. At one point in his response, the pontiff stressed that AIDS cannot be overcome by advertising slogans and distributing condoms and argued that they “worsen the problem.”

The media responded with an avalanche of over 4,000 articles on the subject, calling Benedict a “threat to public health,” and saying that the Catholic Church should “enter the 21st century.”

Harry Knox, a leader with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
a virulent anti-Catholic bigot, appointed to President Obama's faith-based advisory team.

Harry Knox, a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships added to the criticism, accusing the Pope of “hurting people in the name of Jesus.”
Then last month, when Knox was asked if he still stood by his statement, despite growing evidence that the Pope was right, he replied in the affirmative, stating that “scientific evidence shows otherwise.”
However, “the Pope is right,” argued Chris Stefanick, director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries for the Archdiocese of Denver, “and the fact that people like Harry Knox are critiquing the Pope and continuing to throw condoms at the AIDS epidemic globally, and (that) it’s not working, shows you who has personal dogmas that are more important to them than human lives.” 

But, Stefanick argued, the facts are behind Benedict XVI. Stefanick compared the African nations of Botswana and Uganda. Botswana promoted condom use from the beginning. Uganda, a primarily Catholic country, encouraged abstinence.
“In Botswana, Cameroon, and Kenya - they saw AIDS prevalence rise alongside condom distribution until they both levelled out,” noted Stefanick. “In Botswana today, where condoms are available nearly everywhere, one in six people is HIV positive or living with AIDS.”
In Uganda, where abstinence is strongly promoted, the prevalence of AIDS has dropped and now affects less than six percent of the population.
Stefanick quoted BBC News who stated that Uganda has done extremely well in fighting AIDS because, in many parts of the country, its prevalence “was at least three times higher in the early 90s.”
Stefanick also cited a similar comparison, made between Thailand and the Philippines, where AIDS broke out at the same time.
Thailand’s approach promoted the distribution of condoms while the highly Catholic Philippines promoted abstinence.
Twenty years after the outbreak, the prevalence of AIDS in Thailand is 50 times higher than in the Philippines.
“According to the British Medical Journal, which is not a Catholic publication mind you, ‘the greater the percentage of Catholics in any country, the lower the level of HIV. If the Catholic Church is promoting a message about HIV in those countries it seems to be working,’” said Stefanick.
Other relevant facts to the Pope’s opposition of condom use come from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) itself.
Despite the claims on condom packaging, which assert a 99 per cent effectiveness, the NIH found that condoms are only 85 per cent effective in preventing the transmission of AIDS and about 50 per cent effective at blocking other STDs.
“The calculus of condoms is very simple,” says Stefanick. “You decrease the risk a little, increase the risk takers a whole lot, and pretty soon you get what they have in Botswana where one in six people has AIDS,” Stefanek said.
“Or you get what we have here in America, where we are aggressively promoting condoms, yet every year, nine million young people under the age of 25 are getting an STD.”
The Record

Monday, August 02, 2010

Feast of St. Alphonsus

We wish you a happy feast of St Alphonsus!
As I write, the printers are preparing our newspaper Catholic
and with it a book called
"Great Lovers of Solitude"
which is about
Saint Alphonsus' early life as a Redemptorist
and the lives of his Companions.
The following is the introduction to the book
which we hope will be of interest today when we are celebrating his feast.
St. Alphonsus, Great Lover of Solitude

“The life of the members of the Congregation should be one of continual recollection [...]
they must be great lovers of solitude, and shall not leave their cells without necessity...”
[Redemptorist Rule approved by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749. (Part II, Chapter III, §I.)]

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer are a new group within the Church sprung from a return to the sources (ressourcement) of their spiritual family founded by St Alphonsus. Logically, the first and most fundamental return, indeed the sine qua non, was to the old Mass as it had been celebrated by our Saint himself. Much has been said about this and, indeed, there is not enough that can be said about the importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Suffice it to say here, within the limited boundaries of an introduction, that with the old Mass the Transalpine Redemptorists began, as by a baptism of fire, their return to the wellsprings of the Redemptorist family.
Conjoint with a return to the old Mass they were also invited to return to the old Rules and to the study of the life and writings of St Alphonsus Maria and his first companions. Those early lives, texts and times, and their application to our own times, were, and remain, the goal of the fledgling community from its first beginnings in 1988.
In this regard there were two particularly important findings:
* Firstly, in those source documents, there was the strong emphasis on a life of solitude that was joined to the apostolic life and...
* Secondly, and less visible, the organization of the monastic and apostolic life into four dedicated periods or seasons.
The blueprint for the Transalpine Redemptorists’ work was the Pontifical Rule approved by the Church in 1749. Here the members are told that: “they must be great lovers of solitude, and shall not leave their cells without necessity…” From here they progressed.
St Alphonsus is very often depicted in mitre and cope with a quill in his hand; writing  solemn words in a great tome — fitting iconography for a Doctor of the Church. But, in this case, it is simply iconography. What few people realize, is that the work for which the Saint was made Doctor was in fact written not by a bishop, but rather by a lover of solitude living in a windswept hermitage on the edge of a mountain, warming his numbed fingers, when they became too stiff to write, by clasping them on an heated iron by his table —  “...thou, who comest out of the woods...” as a jealous critic wrote sneeringly. In fact, our Saint was not even a  “Redemptorist” at the time, the institute being then called the “Fathers of St Saviours”; a tiny Neapolitan order which lacked both civil and pontifical approbation and for that matter even a fully codified Rule, and which had held on to this fragile existence for 18 years.
For these Fathers of St Saviours solitude was a major ingredient in their vocation. Within a year of their foundation in 1732, St Alphonsus had penned in his notebook for the Rule:
“One year of seclusion before or after first Mass.
 Whoever wants etc. seclusion for six years.
Day of retreat each week.”
Phrases such as “total silence and seclusion” appear again and again from the early days of the institute. The Great Rule of 1743 has the Holy Redeemer address the disciple:
“After the seclusion, recollection and silence which I kept in the womb of my Mother... I spent my days in continual recollection and silence from the moment of my birth until my 30th year. ...before showing myself in public I spent 40 days in the desert; and even in those three years, I often retired by myself to the mountains to pray and to be recollected, communing alone with my heavenly Father. ... Therefore, you, my beloved, ... must give the greater part of your time to recollection and silence ... thus you will combine in yourself the two ways of life...” .
The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer seek to live the early Redemptorist vocation which was neither purely active nor wholly contemplative, but rather, a blending of both; called “Apostolico-Monastic” by the Servant of God, Fr Achille Desurmont, C.SS.R. Interestingly, the ressourcement of the Apostolico-Monastic vocation itself finds its roots in something even more ancient which is hinted at by the Redemptorist Cardinal and Primate of Belgium, Victor-August Dechamps, when he wrote that in St Alphonsus: “God was pleased to manifest all the virtues of the Saints of the primitive Church, as if to confound the relaxed life of so many Christians of our days...” The expression “of the primitive Church” is an interesting one. 
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 (the location of hundreds of monasteries in the first centuries of  the primitive Church and occupied by those known as the Desert Fathers, St Paul the First Hermit, St Antony, the Father of Monks, St Paul the Simple, St John of Egypt, St Humphrey, St Pachomius and many others). Fr Tannoia’s high praise for St Alphonsus is echoed without exception by other writers. Over and over again expressions are used such as: “a hermitage, a lonely, solitary spot” (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); “the desert”, “the hermitage so well adapted for recollection and prayer”, “difficult of access”, “remote”, “this desert, where they might live as penitents, and seek out the lost sheep as Jesus had done” 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” (Monastery of Iliceto); “the hermitage” (Monastery of Caposele); “the hermitage” (Monastery at Villa degli Schiavi).
At the same time these hermits, from 1732 to 1749, the period in which the Redemptorists lived mostly without codified Rule, vows or pontifical approbation, preached more than 132 Missions, Renewals and Retreats that we know of — that is a minimum of around 7 per year.
In that early period, apostolic works were foreseen as taking up slightly less than half of the year, the preponderance being given to the life of solitude. Their monasteries were not bases with missionaries going out and returning home at different times, leaving the choir one day with  Fathers to recite the Office and another day with too few. This danger was overcome by the legislation of Seasons for the contemplative life and seasons for the missionary life; two seasons in the year for each gave a rhythm and harmony to their life. Thus, either nearly everybody was out of the monastery or everybody was at home, as codified in the Chapter of 1764 which legislated that:
“The Fathers go out to the Missions, during Winter, about the first day of November; in the Spring about Low Saturday. They will return indeed, in the Winter time on the last days of Septuagesima; in Spring they ought to be at home for the beginning of June. Let them take care that the day before the First of June all the Missions are ended.” This Constitution harmoniously balanced the two lives of the members for on one side they were a closely knit union of religious able to work together as a finely tuned team of energetic and fire-filled missionaries; and on the other hand they were called to the desert monastery, into a solitude, where they all would be together again after the Missions to give themselves to prayer and the preparation of future apostolic enterprises. They were bound to take care that “the day before the First of June all Missions were ended.” This was a beautiful structure now moving the apostles into silence and seclusion, then transforming the monks into missionaries before reposing them again as hermits only to draw them forth yet again as pastors anxious to recover the wandering sheep. And so it was that their life was truly mixed. They were neither full time hermits nor full time missionaries but rather a balanced vocation drawing on the best aspects of both for their own good and for the salvation of souls. If the reader considers that of the contemporaries of St Alphonsus, that is to say the Redemptorists who entered the Congregation within his lifetime, more than 24 bear the title of Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed and Saint — an astounding record for any Congregation — then one is forced to conclude that this Apostolico-Monastic charism is a very sound and very effective road to Heaven. Furthermore, he will easily understand why a biography of St Alphonsus, which deals with these particular aspects of his sanctity, rather than, for example, his episcopate or his theology, or even just a general “Life”, is long overdue.
When one reflects that St Alphonsus wrote 23 Moral, 73 Dogmatic and 156 Ascetical Works, and more than 1451 letters, covering almost every department of sacred science, and that these works have together gone through well over 20,000 editions, one is certainly inclined to attribute his gigantic work for the Church to this same Apostolico-Monastic regime which gave the Missioner the time to pray, study and prepare his apostolate in the solitude of the desert... and the fruits of this solitude in the “Most Zealous Doctor” speak for themselves.
To better understand the hopes of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer it would be useful to divide the history of St Alphonsus’ institute into two periods. The first from 1732 – 1854 which we call the Early period and the second from 1855 – 1969 which we call the Later period. It is the Early period that we see the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer aspiring to apply to our time. The Later period begins with the Chapter of 1855. This is the Chapter that, for good reasons in keeping with the needs of their time, laid aside the early Constitution on Seasons although this would, in the future, alter the balance of life. About this time too, there was a greater inclination to build monasteries in cities; these moves were accompanied with great blessings for all.
In reference to our own time, the Church calls for a return to the sources. In response to that invitation the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer have been led to rediscover the old Mass, the 1749 Pontifical Rule of St Alphonsus that commands them to be great lovers of solitude, and the organization of their Apostolico-Monastic life into the four seasons prescribed by the Chapter of 1764 — all of which combine together to form their specific charism in the Church and leads to the subject matter and title of this book: Great Lovers of Solitude.

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