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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Paschal Vigil on Papa Stronsay

Resurrexit sicut dixit!
 The Blessing of the Fire and Procession with the Paschal Candle
All the candles in the chapel are lit using the paschal fire
Exsúltet iam Angélica turba coelórum
exsúltent divína mystéria
et pro tanti Regis victória tuba ínsonet salutáris!
Let the angelic choirs of Heaven now rejoice
let the divine Mysteries rejoice
and let the trumpet of salvation sound forth the victory of so great a King!

During the Gloria the bells are triumphantly rung once again and the chapel is flooded with light as the Church joyfully proclaims the Glory of the Risen Lord.

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia. 
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. 
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia. 
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer wish you a blessed Easter

+ Deo Gratias et Mariae +

Friday, March 25, 2016

Holy Week IV: Good Friday

Holy mother pierce me through
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour Crucified
Stations of the Cross on Papa Stronsay

At the sacred hour of 3pm the Solemn Ceremony of Good Friday was held in our chapel on Papa Stronsay

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John
Adoration of the Cross

+ Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit +
Venite, adoremus!

 The body of Our Lord is then carried in solemn procession to the sepulchre

Almighty and merciful God, who hast restored us by the Passion and Death of Thy Christ: preserve within us the work of Thy mercy; that by our entering into this mystery we may ever live devoutly. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Deo Gratias et Mariae +

Holy Week III: Missa in Coena Domini

Last night the Solemn High Mass of the Lord's Supper was celebrated on Papa Stronsay

The Confiteor

Fr Yousef Marie sings the Gospel according to St John

It was on this night that Our Lord left us His greatest gift in the Most Holy Sacrament; His Body and Blood. 

At the end of Holy Mass the Blessed Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose

After which is the stripping of the altar

Divisérunt sibi vestiménta mea: et super vestem meam misérunt sortem
They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.

We then keep watch with Our Lord until midnight 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Week II: Tenebrae + Mandatum

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum +
Br Peter Mary sings the first Lamentation of Jeremias
At the end of every psalm a candle is extinguished on the "Tenebrae Hearse"

Ante diem festum Paschae, sciens Iesus, quia venit hora eius, ut tránseat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem: cum dilexísset suos, qui erant in mundo, in finem diléxit eos.

Before the festival-day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world. He loved them unto the end.
Fr Magdala Maria reads the Gospel for the 'Mandatum'

Monday, March 21, 2016

St Enda of Aran

Today is the feast of St Enda of Aran, patriarch of Irish monasticism. It was St Enda who formally introduced monasticism to Ireland by founding a monastery on the isle of Aran which became, in the words of St Columba, the "Sun of all the West".

Numberless saints known only to Our Lord lived and died on Aran; learning from that great monastic school all that was necessary to lead a holy life of virtue. 

"Hearing how blessed Enda lived apart,
Amid the sacred caves of Ara-mhor,
And how beneath his eye, spread like a chart,
Lay all the isles of that remotest shore;
And how he had collected in his mind
All that was known to man of the Old Sea
I left the Hill of Miracles behind,
And sailed from out the shallow, sandy Leigh. 

Oft, as we paced that marble-covered land,
Would blessed Enda tell me wondrous tales--
How, for the children of his love, the hand
Of the Omnipotent Father never fails--
How his own sister, standing by the side
Of the great sea, which bore no human bark,
Spread her light cloak upon the conscious tide,
And sailed thereon securely as an ark."
- Denis Florence McCarthy, 'The Voyage of St Brendan'


Sunday, March 13, 2016

But Jesus Hid Himself...

Our Lord hid Himself today from the fury of those who reject His claims to Divinity. These are the same who would scorn and mock Him upon the cross whilst He hid Himself again, but in a different manner. In the former He hides from them physically because His hour had not yet come, showing that He had full control over all that He was to accomplish but at the moment chosen by Him. The latter was the veiling of His Divinity whilst on the cross - suffering all that He would in order to prove His love for us. 


In this spirit Holy Mother Church enters into Passiontide. Veiling the physical statues and images that surround us and comfort us; and the spiritual joys that surround the Mass by omitting the Psalm 42 at the Foot of the Altar (specifically the response 'ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam') and the Gloria.

Instead on this day we have parts of Psalm 42 read at the Introit in the person of Christ who says, "ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum et in tabernacula tua". What else is Calvary but the Holy Mountain of our Redemption? And what else this Tabernacle but the "greater and more perfect tabernacle" spoken of in today's Epistle?

Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? - Hebrews 12-14

I will take the chalice of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lenten preparations!

Around this time of year in Orkney we start seeing a bit more of the sun which means the beginning of work in the greenhouse. Some of the more hardy plants from last year are still being harvested but the majority of the work now requires tilling the ground and painstaking sowing of seeds.

Br Alfonso Maria adds compost to some plastic seed trays

One seed at a time!

For the past few months we've been blessed with chard and lettuce for the table. In the meantime the ground has been totally cleared and new soil and compost laid down ready for the summer.

We've also been blessed with beautiful flowers for the altar.

And the most encouraging sign of springtime in our greenhouse - flowers on our apricot tree!

Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings. - II Corinthians ix, 6

We are now more than halfway through Lent. But a short time remains for us to be faithful to our resolutions; if we have faltered we may pull out the bad roots, fertilize the ground and start afresh. May God give us the grace to prepare our hearts abundantly in blessings so that our Easter may be filled with true love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

+ Deo gratias et Mariae!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Rosa Mystica

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is commonly known as “Laetare Sunday” after the words of the Introit of the Mass- Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis,et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. But another tradition calls it the “Sunday of the Golden Rose", from a custom observed at Rome of the pope blessing a rose made of pure gold mixed with musk and balm. The Stational Church today is the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem - representing the joys of the world to come in the New Jerusalem, our Heavenly city, for which the rose is symbolic of the eternal bloom and freshness of paradise. 

"We read that the Lord Jesus, at the approach of his passion, wishing to strengthen His disciples against the scandals and humiliations to come, foretold to them often the glory of His resurrection, and even showed his glory to three of them in His transfiguration on Tabor... It is to follow the steps of Divine Master that, on the fourth Sunday of Lent - i.e. the Sunday preceding the Passion Sunday which opens the way of sorrow - the Sovereign Pontiff, to soften the sadness of the days which are to come, announces to the faithful the glory of the resurrection bearing a golden rose in his hand[...] Our Lord said that "Not Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these" (Matt vi: 29). Now the rose is the most beautiful among the flowers. It is then just that it has been chosen to figure the glory of Our Lord. Why is it a golden rose anointed with musk and balm? Gold, the most precious metal, is proper to represent the glory of Jesus Christ in His resurrection. Balm preserves the body from corruption and expresses the immortality of the saviour. Musk is the most odoriferous of the aromatics; it is thus a symbol of the fame of Christ which in His resurrection has everywhere spread like a sweet odour by the ministry of His apostles." - Cardinal Peter of Capua

 The exact date of the institution of the custom is unknown, but Pope Leo IX in 1051 speaks of it as an ancient institution during his time. The rose is of a precious metal usually ornamented with precious stones; it is blessed and in times past was carried in procession from the Stational Church of the Holy Cross by the pope himself, blessing the faithful with the rose as he processed from the Basilica. The rose was then presented to a special personage known for devotion to the Catholic faith and their loyalty to the Holy See – particularly in later years to a noble queen or princess. There is a providential link here; since it was a most Christian Queen who gave to us this Church - St Helena being the one who found the relics of the True Cross and kept them in what used to be a part of her palace; eventually transforming into the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. 

 In more recent years the Golden Rose is given to a special shrine of Our Lady. This is not without reason as Our Lady is called in the Litany of Loreto "Rosa Mystica" and it is said that the rose vestments are a mixture of red and white; that is, a mixture of the blood of Our Lord in His passion and yet the joyfulness that His passion brings us in opening Heaven - which liturgically is represented in red and white vestments respectively. Similarly, Our Lady shares in this blending of the Passion and Joy – the red and the white - as the "Rosa Mystica". As the “Queen of Martyrs” and “Cause of Our Joy” she becomes for us a “Mystical Rose”. 

St Bernard especially describes Mary under this title, saying: 
 "Eve was a thorn, wounding, bringing death to all; in Mary we see a rose, soothing everybody's hurts, giving the destiny of salvation back to all. Mary was a rose, white for maidenhood, red for love; white in body, red in soul; white in her seeking after virtue, red in treading down vice; white in cleansing her affections, red in mortifying her flesh; white in her love of God, red in compassion for her neighbour". 

 St Therese of Lisieux, so well known for her miraculous roses, describes Our Lady under her title of "Rosa Mystica" in her poem The Dew Divine (it being traditionally understood that the Rose of Sharon refers to Our Lady): 

 Thou art the Rose of Sharon long foretold, 
Still in Thy glorious bud, Thou Heavenly child! 
Thy dearest Mother’s arms, so pure and white, 
Form for thee now a royal cradle-throne. 

 The Holy Church today gives us a foretaste of the joys of Easter, tempered however with the knowledge of the sorrow that we have to pass through before the Resurrection. Let us imitate Our Lady - the “Rosa Mystica” and most precious Golden Rose of Heaven - by following in the footsteps of Our Lord for the remainder of Lent, knowing that if we are faithful unto the end we too shall rejoice in the new Jerusalem.
Pope Benedict XVI prays before Our Lady of Fatima to whom he gave a golden rose in 2010

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