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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year — Saving a Seal

Life on a small island can often be very interesting.  For example: Who expects that stepping outside their front door, they would find a seal sitting on their doorstep?  Well here on Papa Stronsay, that's exactly what happened.  Leaving my cell in the middle of the morning, I was confronted with a fairly large adolescent seal on the pathway which forms the small street between our monastic cells, called the Via Paparum!

The question was how to move it?  Seals can be quite aggressive when cornered and have the nickname "sea dogs".  This one was not interested in going back to its home, and we certainly couldn't have it staying too long in the Monastery!

With some of the brethren, a plan was formulated.

We put a blanket over the seal — which as you can see, it was not keen on — to stop it from being able to bite us.  It had a mouth full of very small, very sharp teeth.

Then, we took an old canvas mail sack which was cut down one side, and placed it over the seal, with its snout into the undamaged corner of the sack.

With some difficulty, the seal was put onto a sheep hurdle and transported back to the sea.

It was a great adventure!  For a light-hearted look at our experience, do watch the video below:

We wish you all a happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Way of Bethlehem

The Way of Bethlehem is an Advent devotion which was composed, practised and promoted by Our Holy Father St Alphonsus.

During the novena of Christmas, 12 shrines are erected around the monastery, church or home, representing the mysteries of our Saviour's childhood.  At each station a short hymn is sung, there is a brief meditation and prayers before processing to the next Station.

Here are some photos of the Way of Bethlehem at our Monastery in Christchurch, New Zealand this year.

 All, children and adults alike, gather around the stational shrine to pray and meditate on the infancy of Our Lord.

The 10th Station: Jesus is freed from the swaddling-bands. 

 The 6th Station: Jesus is adored by the Magi.

 The 8th Station: Jesus flies into Egypt.

 The 10th Station: Jesus begins to walk, here represented by a pair of babies booties, kindly supplied by one of the families of the Chaplaincy.

The Way of Bethlehem is a wonderful means of preparing for Our Lord's coming at Christmas.  It can be found in full in our Christmas Hymn Book

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Advent Bells

If Advent, or the month before Christmas, is a season of fasting, so, after a kind, is it of gladness too.  Alleluia, that word of ghostly joy, is sung forth at Mass; at Matins, the invitatory chanted contains this exhortation:
Regem venturum Dominum, venite adoremus
The Lord, the King who is about to come, come let us adore.

In past centuries, as now, high personages, especially the sovereign, on nearing the town to be honoured by their presence, were greeted with a festive peal from the church bells. Knowing that after a spiritual way, the King of kings is then about to come in the flesh to see and save sinners, our fathers thought it well to do out of reverence from Him not less than they did towards the princes of this world.  Hence, upon most evenings for those four weeks, this land used to be all astir, not with sad, but joyful sounds; and the bells in every church steeple swung forth their peals of gladsomeness for hours through the damp cold darkness of the night, with the tidings that the celebration of Christ's first visit to us in the flesh was drawing near.  In many a place throughout our land, the Advent bells are yet rung, but the meaning of the custom is forgotten. — cf. Daniel Rock, DD, The Church of Our Fathers, Vol III, p. 293-294.

Following in the tradition of our fathers, on Papa Stronsay the Advent bells ring forth for half an hour every night of the novena of Christmas, joyfully proclaiming the imminent arrival of our King amongst us!

"The bells...swung forth their peals of gladsomeness...through the damp cold darkness of the night, with the tidings that the celebration of Christ's first visit to us in the flesh was drawing near."
Br Felix and Br Edmund ringing the Advent bells.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Perpetual Profession of Br Alfonso Maria

Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Br Alfonso Maria pronounced the three vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience perpetually, joining to them the fourth vow and oath of Perseverance in the Congregation until death.  Please join us in thanking God for the great grace he has given to Br. Alfonso, and for the great gift which Brother has made of himself to God.  May he have a grace filled life on earth, and a crown in the life hereafter!

 Br. Alfonso lies prostrate during the chanting of the Veni Creator Spiritus.

Br  Alfonso pronounces his vows before the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed.  Here, with his hand placed upon the Holy Gospel, he makes his Vow and Oath of Perseverance until death in the Congregation.

Deo Gratias et Mariæ

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The 2016 Papa Stronsay Calendar!

I'm pleased to let you know that our 2016 Papa Stronsay Calendar has shipped out and there are more available!  Watch the video below to see everything you could be getting with a Papa Stronsay Calendar!


You can order the calendar from our website here.

You can even conveniently order your calendars right here on this very page:
Last year there were some who questioned our inclusion of the Zodiac signs in our Calendar.  If you are also interested, you can read our responses in a series of posts on our blog.  They appear in reverse order here:

Remember that if you have a Subscription to our Catholic newspaper, you will already be receiving one copy of the calendar.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

To Friends in Canada

Request for Help
Appeal to Canadian friends from Fr. Michael Mary

Shamiel 31 May, 2012

Dear Friends

In 2012 we posted this photo of Shamiel. Peaceful days. Spontaneous joy. From his life as a Youth Leader in Pakistan in 2012 he has become a refugee living from day to day in unsure circumstances.

He was forced to flee from Pakistan. But now we have heard that it is possible for a Canadian citizen, or a group of five Canadian citizens, to sponsor refugees to Canada. Therefore I am addressing myself to our Canadian friends. Could you please help him?

In the past we have featured three blog posts concerning him.They are here, here and here.

Shamiel chose the celibate life and dedicated himself to Our Lord as a Catholic Youth Leader in Pakistan. He was founder and President of the Christian Youth Development Ministry.

Shamiel addressing his listeners.

His present situation is illegal and unsafe. We support him and have visited him.

Perhaps as an individual Canadian citizen you could sponsor Shamiel's immigration to Canada?
Perhaps you are unable to do it alone but would be prepared to be one of a 'group of five' sponsors to help him?
What to do: If you are willing to help Shamiel as a refugee to immigrate to Canada please contact me.

Very Rev. Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.
Rector Major

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wonderfully Clear Teaching from a Prince of the Church!

Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria has given an interview to LifeSite News in which he proclaims in a wonderfully simple and clear manner, the Church's teaching on divorce and re-marriage, mortal and venial sin and the conscience, Divine law vs Church law, the Sacrament of Confession etc.  We pray God that He will inspire more of the Princes of the Church to stand up and publicly proclaim Her perennial teaching.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Papa Stronsay Calendar 2016 Pre-Order

The Papa Stronsay Calendar has been growing in popularity over the years, and we hope that the year 2016 will be no exception!
The 2016 Papa Stronsay Calendar is nearing completion so we offer you the chance to get in early and pre-order your copy now!

Our calendar makes a great gift for friends and family (and even for yourself!).

You can even conveniently order your calendars right here on this very page:

Want to keep up-to-date with developments?  Just subscribe below, and we'll let you know when each new Papa Stronsay Calendar is available!

Obviously we only send emails relevant to the Calendar, and we don't share your address with anyone else. 

The Papa Stronsay Calendar can also be purchased from our online store HERE.

If you already have a current subscription to our Catholic newspaper, you will receive one calendar as part of that subscription.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lights in the Sky

We were treated to a lovely show of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) last night. I've personally never seen them this early in the summer, so it was quite a surprise!  I got the camera only towards the end of the display as it was quietening down, but was still able to take a nice photo.

The Northern Lights on Papa Stronsay.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Leaving all for Christ

Today the of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer received a new member into its ranks.

The postulant kneels and is questioned by the Superior regarding his desire to enter our Congregation.

The brethren chant the Veni Creator Spiritus while the postulant is covered with the Funeral Pall.

He is clothed in the Religious Habit:
Son, put on Our Lord Jesus Christ, always surrounding thy body with His mortification. 

 Kneeling he receives the crucifix:
Receive, my Son, the image of the crucifix, image of thy Master and Redeemer, who suffered for thee and offered Himself for thee. Place it as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm.

 Our Lady's Rosary is placed in his hands:
Receive, Son, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may She always be a wall to protect thee, a mother to nourish thee, a star to guide thee and the door to thy salvation...
 Do Thou, however, learnest diligently to love and imitate Mary, and to propagate Her most salutary devotion everywhere. In dangers, in anguishes, in doubtful things, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May Her sweet name not disappear from thy lips, nor disappear from thy heart.

He is clothed with Our Lady's Scapular:
Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

 And finally, a new name.
Welcome to our Congregation Br Jerome!

 Br Jerome's mother and father came from America to be with him.

As did his Godmother.
 The community on Papa Stronsay.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

General Council of the Congregation


The General Chapter of the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer are happy to announce the election of the General Consultors of the Congregation.

Vicar General: Very Reverend Father Anthony Mary, F.SS.R.

First Consultor: Reverend Father Magdala Maria, F.SS.R.

Second Consultor: Reverend Brother Nicodemus Mary, F.SS.R.

Third Consultor: Reverend Brother Martin Mary, F.SS.R. 

The term of the Offices is for six years.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Habemus Patrem!

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer are pleased and proud to announce that today, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, the election of the Rector Major of the Congregation was held on the Holy Island of Papa Stronsay, overseen by His Lordship Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, and that Very Rev Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. was elected to govern our Congregation for a further six years.  Deo Gratias et Mariæ!

The newly elected Rector Major, Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R., kneels before the altar and makes the acts of Profession of Faith and Fidelity to the Church.

 Having been installed as Rector Major by the Bishop, Very Rev. Fr Michael gives the Pax (Peace) to Fr Anthony Mary, F.SS.R.

 Each member of the Congregation demonstrates their submission and fidelity to the new Rector Major by kneeling before him and placing their joined hands between his.

 The bells joyfully cry out:
Habemus Patrem!
 The members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer currently living on Papa Stronsay, with their bishop, Dom Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B. following the installation ceremony.

Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary with the eleven voting members.

Thanks be to God for blessing His "Most Small Institute"!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Growing Well Despite the Weather

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer wish you all a very happy feast of St Alphonsus!
This year we have had a poor summer in Orkney. But on Papa Stronsay the greenhouse, although a little slowed by the lack of sun, is continuing to produce wonders.

The Holy Angels have arranged for some good weather for St Alphonsus' feast day.
The greenhouse on Papa Stronsay.

Br Alfonso Maria, F.SS.R.has been the labourer in the greenhouse this year, and he has kept the community supplied with fresh lettuce every day.

Juicy peaches!

The tomatoes have missed the sun the most.  They are in flower now, an we hope they will get enough sun to ripen.

Cabbages and apricots.

The Kiwifruit are starting to form nicely.  They won't be ready till later on in the year though.

"Our Lady's Garden": the statue of Our Lady stands in the centre of the greenhouse.
Br Alfonso is growing various kinds of kale.  One variety can be seen here between the cabbage and the tomatoes.

The beetroot are not too far from being ready to harvest.

Also growing at the moment, although not ready to harvest, are pears, apples, plums, nectarines, raspberries, figs, grapes and other things besides.  The cherries have already passed.  They were delicious, but smaller than in  past years — probably due to lack of sun.

Thanks be to God for His wonderful providence towards us, his children.

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