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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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Upon the Ocean Waves

Today the wind has been quite high in Orkney, but the sun has been shining for most of the day.  When you don't see the sun very often, you have a much greater appreciation of it when it does deign to show its face! 
There was occasion for some of us to travel to Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney today and I would like to share some photos I took of the beautiful return sailing.

 Fr Michael Mary speaking with a Catholic from Glasgow whom we met on the ferry.  She was visiting the Orkney Islands for the third time.

 The island of Sanday on the horizon.

 Before reaching Stronsay, the boat makes a stop at Eday, another of the islands of Orkney.  Here we are just departing Eday for Stronsay which is a good 30 minutes further.

Another view of the pier at Eday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Throwing Off the Old Man — Taking the Religious Habit

On the 2nd February, the feast of the Purification of the Most Blessed Virgin, We had the great joy of receiving a new novice into our Congregation.

Kneeling before the Rector Major, Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, the candidate for the novitiate is questioned as to his resolve to enter our Congregation.

 He receives the Holy Habit of the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and then the Holy Rosary is first placed in his hands while he is exhorted to take the Blessed Virgin as his Mother, Protector and Guide throughout the time of his Novitiate and, God willing, his religious life.

 He is give the Scapular of Mount Carmel, which constitutes a part of our Habit.

 Finally the candidate is given the zucchetto or skull-cap, as well as his new religious name: Br Edmund, after St Edmund Campion.

Happily Br Edmund's mother and father came from Kansas to be with him on this occasion.

Fr Michael Mary and Br Edmund.

Congratulations Br Edmund!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


As many of you may know, on Papa Stronsay we have been without internet access since before Christmas.  It is for this reason that our blog has been so silent.  However, thanks be to God, our internet is now restored thanks to a replacement Point-to-Point Wireless Bridge.

The Bridge transmits the internet from the neighbouring island of Stronsay, across the water of the Papay Sound and into Papa Stronsay.

 A station identical to this one is located on Stronsay and the two transmit and receive the signal back and forth.  We had previously used the same things, but there was some error with them and they had to be replaced.
As a result of our restored connection, you can expect a few updates in the coming days, so stay tuned!

This evening there have been some modest but none-the-less beautiful Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.  I post a few photos below. It is also rather windy, and I had some trouble holding the camera still, so they are a little blurry.

 The small red dots are the safety lights atop the wind turbines on the island of Sanday.

 The vast majority of out lights are a green/grey colour, but here we see a little spot of red.

Feast of the Chair of St Peter

On Saturday 22 February we had a beautiful sung Mass at the Carmel of Christ the King, Christchurch. The only photograph to be taken was the one below which particularly shows young James Green who served Holy Mass for the first time.

The altar servers after Holy Mass

Several members of the faithful were clothed in the Brown Scapular.

Saturday also marked the anniversary of the great earthquake in New Zealand and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for all those who suffered pain and loss. May God grant eternal rest to all those who died.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Candlemass at our Chapel in Christchurch

This is one of the three principal blessings observed by the Church during the year; the other two are the Blessing of the Ashes, and the Blessing of the Palms.

Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury [Enarrations on St. Luke], speaking on the mystery, bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the Wax, the Wick, and the Flame. The Wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the Wick, which is within, is his Soul; the Flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity. 

The Candles in preparation for the blessing

The blessing before the Mass: “that as these candles, by their visible light, dispel the darkness of the night, so our hearts burning with invisible fire, and enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost, may be delivered from all blindness of sin; that the eye of our soul being purified, we may discern those things that are pleasing to thee, and beneficial to our souls.”

Distribution of Candles . . .

. . . to all the faithful, young and old.

A short procession outside the chapel. . . 

. . . representing the Holy Family

There were seventeen children below the age of ten
(Correction to previous figures. Apologies.)

The real presence of Our Lord presented during the Mass
at the Elevation to the Most High God

"We must hold this as a principle of our spiritual life - that the Mysteries brought before us, feast after feast, are intended to work in us the destruction of the old, and the creation of the new, man." Dom Gueranger

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