Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back from Pluscarden

I had an amazing week in the most northerly Latin Monastery in the world. I normally go with a couple of friends making it more of a holiday than a retreat, but this year I went alone and decided to make it a silent retreat. Luckily the other retreatants were in need of the same thing so I didn't feel I had to be in the Parlour drinking endless cups of tea and chatting. Instead I read through St John's Gospel (the best of the four in my opinion) as well as St Faustina's Diary (my current Spiritual Reading).

For those who are interested Br Aelred has now made his Simple Vows and Fr Giles is back on what I assume to be a permanent basis as he was immediately re-instated as Sub-Prior. This now boosts the community up to 22 monks, all in white, though they need prayers for more vocations as they still don't have enough servers for High Mass due to the number of priests they now have. Gosh, I wonder why there are so many!?!

I made two incredible purchases up there. One was a book I have wanted to read since childhood, Blessed Pope John XXIII's Il Giornale dell'Anima. I remember there was a copy of it in my school library and I would always make a b-line for it but the librarian wouldn't let me read it, 'That is far too advanced for you boy' and I would be forced to read another pointless children's detective novel. But I found this second hand in the gift shop for 3.50 - BARGAIN! The other was the Abbot's new book, Unfolding the Mystery: Monastic Conferences on the Liturgical Year. I cannot recommend this book more highly! It is incredible! I have only read 8 conferences so far and my mind is blown out of all proportion. The third conference is on the attitude of the priest when saying Mass, the opening line being St Ambrose, 'Ille in praesaepibus, ut tu in altaribus' - 'He lay in a crib that you may stand at the altar'. Wow! By the end of it I was convinced that either God had got the wrong man or I had got someone elses's message because there is no way I can do that! The 5th Conference is the best meditation on Christmas I have ever read. It took the end of I Cor 13 and said Christmas revives our Faith, our Hope and our Love. The book constantly refers to the life of the monk but the word Monk can easily be replaced with Seminarian, Priest, Nun, Man, Woman or Child. Buy it today!!!!!

The highlight of the week for me though was Mass of the Assumption. All their liturgies are in Latin Gregorian Chant (as Vatican II expected the average parish's liturgy to be) and for the Solemnity we had Mass IX Mode VII (at least that is what is written on the 'Order of Service' - all of which also bear the note, 'The English translations given below are our own; they are not intended for public use in the liturgy'. No second hand ICEL rubbish for them then!

The lowlight of the week was probably the Deeside Choristers singing Evensong on Sunday afternoon. My Anglican half (half my family are Anglican) was shuddering, no Evensong would include 'Lord of the Dance' or the intercessions spoken over a Taize chant (Bless the Lord my soul). I was relieved to note we are not the only people plagued by left wing liturgists!

I highly recommend Pluscarden as a place to go for retreat. Thank you for all your prayers. God Bless.


Anonymous said...

Good to hear Br Aelred has made his vows and that Fr Giles is back.

Your comment about servers confused me... are you saying that too many of the monks are Priests?

'The English translations given below are our own; they are not intended for public use in the liturgy'. No second hand ICEL rubbish for them then!

Good one. :)

Anyway, it sounds like you had a really good time. I am going back in October. I shall have to remember to get Fr Abbot's book.

Fr F. said...

"I read through St John's Gospel (the best of the four in my opinion)"

Don't you think that sounds somewhat stupid?
We are called to accept all for of them, tere might well be in your opinion a favourite, but surely not a best.
Now delete this comment and amend "best".

Orthfully Catholic said...


You can never have too many priests! Its just that a Sunday and Solemnity Mass only has a thurifer (acolytes had to be borrowed from the congregation) because the rest of the community are either concelebrating Mass or singing in the schola!

Orthfully Catholic said...

Fr F

By 'best' I meant 'favourite', it is a result of the dialect I grew up with due to the place in England I come from. I don't like to make inappropriate comments to priests but picking on language is more stupid in my opinion.

Peter said...

"...due to the number of priests they now have. Gosh, I wonder why there are so many"

I suspect God called them!

Dorothy said...

While paying all honour to the Synoptic Gospels, I particularly love St John's Gospel, with its contrasts of sublime poetry and vivid earthiness. We are introduced to such spirited characters: the Samaritan woman, and the man born blind, to name only two. And we learn about Christ's dear personal friends, and the real love He had for them; not only John, "the disciple Jesus loved", but his friends at Bethany: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus". John's Gospel has its own joy and beauty, as well as its own special teaching power.

Christian said...

They could, of course solve the server problem by having many private Masses rather than reducing the prayer power (as it were) by having only one using the accursed 'concelebration'. Shudder, when/if I get to ordained I will never take part in one of those unless I can't possibly avoid it (yes I am aware one concelebrated with the bishop at one's ordination).

William said...

Most northerly monastic community in the Latin world. Maybe. However, there is a Carmelite Nunnery in Iceland.Not sure whether 'shoeless' or 'ancient observance'.

Was founded by Dutch women before the war, was evacuated to US during the war, and now appears to be full of Polish sisters!

Dominic Roche said...

An interest use of dialect where are you from?

"I wonder why there are so many."

Is there anuthing more sublime for a human being to do or is there a higher form of prayer than offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful....Pope John XXlll Journal of a Soul & Letters to his Family are my favourites..

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need my boys as servers...

Dominic Roche said...

I am fascinated by dialects, so were does best mean my favourite?

Orthfully Catholic said...

Ah, that that would be telling Dominic!

Anonymous said...

hi, just wondering , im confused..was that Anglican Evensong AT, Pluscarden Abbey?
, anyways nice post, i plan, God Willing, to be there next late march for discernment visit/retreat., i have had very nice correspondence with them.