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Monday, September 30, 2013

Godly Kings of the Past

Last Sunday was the feast of St Michael the Archangel, traditionally called Michaelmas.  In the secular, anti-religious society in which we live today, it is easy to forget the Catholic times in which our forefathers dwelt.

King Æthelred II of England reigned from 18th March 978 until 23rd April 1016.

 A Gold coin struck during Æthelred's reign shows the King wearing his armour.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in the year A.D. 1014, King Æthelred enacted the following law:

"That every Christian who is of age, fast three days on bread and water, and raw herbs before the feast of St Michael, and let every man go to Confession and to church barefoot. Let every priest with his people go in procession three days barefoot, and let everyone’s commons for three days be prepared without anything of flesh, as if they themselves were to eat it, both in meat and in drink, and let all this be distributed to the poor. Let every servant be excused labour these three days that he may better perform his fast or let him work what he will for himself. These be the three days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next before the feast of St Michael. If any servant break his fast let him make satisfaction with his hide (bodily stripes), let the poor free man pay thirty pence, the king’s thane 130 shillings; and let the money be divided to the poor."

King Æthelred II upon his throne.

If only the rulers of our times were so concerned for the things of God!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fr Yousef Marie in Sydney

Last Sunday Fr Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. celebrated Holy Mass in the Church of the Fraternity of Saint Peter in Lewisham, Sydney Australia.

The choir at Maternal Heart of Mary church are really rather good.  Here is an example of them singing the Corsican version of the Tantum Ergo sung during Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Lady of Mercy

On the 24th of September we have the Feast to Our Lady of Mercy.  Beautiful and consoling title!  Our Lady and her Son are so great that we cannot possibly designate only one or two days in the liturgical year to Their honour.  Our Lady is Mother of Mercy, Mother of that Supreme and Perfect Mercy which is one with the Eternal Wisdom of God.  Having compassion on our fallen human race which was deserving of everlasting punishment, the move made by God through His Son to Redeem us was principally that of Mercy.

In that marvellous invention of becoming Man in the Virgin’s womb, Mercy became Incarnate and hence another of holy Mary’s glorious titles; ‘Our Lady of Mercy.’  She is full of mercy because the Source of all mercy dwelt within Her, lived with Her and obeyed Her.  As the Lord is with Her and as She is full of grace, so likewise She is also full of mercy and indeed ‘Mother of Mercy.’  This is certain in view of the fact that as Christ was animated by Divine Mercy and we might say, was the personification of Mercy, so His chosen Mother could not but otherwise be animated with the same spirit of mercy and tender commiseration for sinners.

Now as Christ intercedes for us with His Father, so Our Lady’s special office is to intercede for us with Christ.  When She pleads lovingly for mercy upon some soul, Christ Who is as Just as He is Merciful, quickly stoops to hear Her prayer and in order to honour Her, gives His Mother Her request.

Here we may remark the touching scene of the wedding at Canna as recorded in the Gospel.  The fact is that although Christ is Supreme Mercy, yet it often takes a request of intercession from His Mother to show an even greater excess of His Mercy to certain souls.  We have then in Our Lady, a powerful arm to raise us up when we find ourselves in need of grace and forgiveness.

Our Lady of Mercy, Pray for us!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Battleground St Thecla in Ma'loula

Today is the feast of St Thecla, the first woman martyr 
called "apostle and protomartyr among women". 
Just a few hundred miles away from some of us,
her holy tomb has become a war-zone 
over the past three weeks. 
While it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is fighting who, 
who is conspiring against who, 
and who wants what, 
what is clear is that one of the most
 ancient Christian holy places is being menaced.
 It seems now to have been taken back from the rebel forces
and peace seems to have returned. 
The sacred place was guarded during these past weeks
 by a very tenacious group of Orthodox nuns,
 and their Abbess Pelagia,
 obviously a "mulier fortis" even in the face of Al-Quaeda!
The nuns refused to leave the monastery. 

The following images and film clips, often of not very good quality,
 recommend at least to your prayers
 our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria, 
by giving you a flavour of what has been life for those
 living in Ma'loula in the shadow of
 St Thecla's tomb, during September. 
Various nationalistic and political opinions or prejudices are expressed 
which are not the intention or part of this post, 
and simply form part of the background to these events.

Remember them at your Masses today!

 Tourists before the tomb of St Thecla in more peaceful days.

 The Holy Martyr St Thecla, a young noble maiden of Konya,
 heard St Paul's discourse on virginity and became his disciple,
 Her mother and fiancé Thamyris, feared St Paul's injunction
 that "one must fear only one God and live in chastity"
 and their fear ended in an attempt to burn the saint at the stake
 from which she was miraculously saved by the onset of a storm. 
She travelled with St Paul to Antioch of Pisidia. 
There a nobleman named Alexander desired Thecla
 and attempted to take her by force.
 She fought him off, assaulting him in the process, 
and was put on trial for assaulting a nobleman. 
She was sentenced to be devoured by wild beasts, 
but was again saved by a series of miracles when the lions protected her.
St Thecla's Monastery, Ma'loula.

In Ma'loula, where her relics repose, tradition says that while being pursued by soldiers of her father who wished to capture her because of her Christian faith, the saint came upon a mountain, and after praying, the mountain split open and let her escape through. - the name of the village comes from the Aramaic word meaning 'entrance'. It is known as one of three places where Western Aramaic is still spoken.

The village is also the site of the Greek Catholic Monastery of St Sarkis, one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. It was built on the site of a pagan temple, and has elements which go back to the fifth to sixth century Byzantine period.

Now for an insight into September, 2013.

The BBC reports the general situation during the occupation of Ma'loula.

Proclaiming the occupation, the insurgents in the convent confronted by the nuns.
All Arabic but the atmosphere gives a sense of the crisis.

Russia Today correspondent reports.
Footage of Syrian Catholic Prioress Mother Agnes-Mariam.

Greek Catholic refugees arriving in Damascus.

Greek Catholic funeral of victims in Ma'loula.
Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham officiates.

Govenment forces retake the monastery, Abbess Pelagia speaking - unfortunately no subtitles.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Papa Stronsay makes the news

UPDATE:  The new international version of this video is now available below.

On the day of our most recent professions, STV (Scottish national television) were on Papa Stronsay to film the event.  The video can be seen here.

Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. being interviewed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blessing the Pilgrimage Cross

Many of you will remember our two cycling pilgrims, Sam and Wojciech, who made a pilgrimage by push-bike of over 600 miles finishing on Papa Stronsay a little over a week ago.  While here, they planted a Pilgrimage Cross.  If you missed that story, you can read it here.

The 14th September (on which we held the Religious professions featured in the previous post) was the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (the finding of the True Cross in Jerusalem by St Helena in A.D. 326), and therefore seemed a most apt occasion on which to bless the newly planted Pilgrimage Cross.

From the Rituale Romanum:

 If a cross is to be exposed for public veneration, it should be solemnly blessed.

Rogamus te, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, sempiterne Deus: ut digneris benedicere + hoc lignum Crucis ut sit remedium salutare generi humano...

Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, be pleased to bless + this cross, that it may be a saving help to mankind. Let it be the support of faith, an encouragement to good works, the redemption of souls; and let it be consolation, protection, and a shield against the cruel darts of the enemy; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Benedic, + Domine Jesu Christe, hanc Crucem, per quam eripuisti mundum a potestate dæmonum, et superasti Passione tua suggestorem peccati...

Lord Jesus Christ, bless + this cross by which you snatched the world from Satan's grasp, and on which you overcame by your suffering the tempter to sin, who rejoiced in the first man's fall in eating of the forbidden tree. Here it is sprinkled with holy water. May this cross be hallowed in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit; and may all who kneel and pray before this cross in honour of our Lord find health in body and soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

After the blessing is completed, each person present genuflects before the newly blessed Cross...

...and venerates it with a kiss, as the sign of our redemption.

STV (Scottish national television station) were also present on the island to film for a news feature.  They also filmed the professions.  Here they are pictured interviewing Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. following the blessing of the Pilgrimage Cross.  When the video which they made is available, it will be posted on this blog.


Yesterday, 14th September, we rejoiced as our religious family grew!  Br Gerardo Maria of the Hours, F.SS.R. made his perpetual vows of Religion (Poverty, Chastity and Obedience), consecrating himself to God completely and for the rest of his life.  Br Seelos Maria of the Sign of the Cross, F.SS.R. made his temporary vows of Religion for three years

Br Seelos and Br Gerardo kneel before the Rector Major during the ceremony of Religious profession while he questions them on their determination to enter the Religious life.

 The candidates prostrate themselves while the Veni Creator Spiritus is chanted.  They are covered with the funeral pall which represents death to the world.

 Br Seelos Maria, F.SS.R. pronounces the three vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for three years before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

 Br Gerardo Maria, F.SS.R. pronounces his three vows for life, adding to them the vow and oath of Perseverance until death.  He Places he places his right hand upon the Holy Gospel as he does so.

 Brother's vows are received by the superior.

 Br Seelos Maria, F.SS.R. receives his Palium.

 After the ceremony both the newly professed sign their certificates of profession upon the altar, completing the sacrifice they have made of their lives to God.

 Br Gerardo with his parents and brother.

Br Seelos with his parents.

We thank Thee, God, for these two courageous young men, ready and willing to dedicate their lives to Thy service.  Do Thou, in Thy mercy, grant them perseverance to the end.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Beautiful Shrine for Our Lady's Birthday

Last Sunday, 8th September, was celebrated the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.  In our oratory in our Mother of Perpetual Succour Monastery, New Zealand, a beautiful shrine was built at Our Lady's altar to commemorate Her birthday.  We Thank Abi Wiseman for taking these lovely photographs.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to apply to become an Associated Member of our Congregation

Those who are interested in applying to become an Associate Member of the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer can do so by addressing a letter to:

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

The Monastery address is:

Golgotha Monastery Island
Papa Stronsay
KW17 2AR

Alternatively you may send your letter of application by email to:

Monday, September 09, 2013

Associated Members of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

The founding of a Third Order for the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer is provided for in our Constitutions.  Until such a time as there are a sufficient number of committed individuals to warrant the creation of such a Third Order, we have thought it well to establish individual Associated Members of the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.  Members are associated with the Congregation on a one-to-one basis.

The Associated Members will be the pioneers of the future Third Order foreseen in our Constitutions. The Associated Members have a special recognised place in our Congregation and already as Associated Members they will live a Spiritual Rule that we hope would become part of the Constitutions of the future Third Order. Becoming an Associated Member takes the form of a commitment to the Spiritual Rule.

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Associated Members  must be Catholics over the age of 18 years, they must apply in writing to become Associated Members and be received by the Rector Major into the Book of the Associated Members of the Congregation.


1. Following St Alphonsus, they make the Three Hail Mary’s in the morning upon rising, and in the evening before retiring, together with the Alphonsian prayer: Most Holy Immaculate to which they add an Our Father and a Hail Mary in honour of their patron for the year.

2. They begin each year by reading the Eternal Maxims of St Alphonsus for meditation taking one point a day. When these have been read they take up, in the same way, other works of the holy Doctor (The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, The Holy Eucharist, The Way of Salvation etc). Every day they also read a short extract from his Glories of Mary.

3. According to their possibilities, they pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, assuring this Office, in Latin or English to help complete the prayer of the Congregation.

4. Once a week they also pray, or replace the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, with the Office for the Dead.

5. They faithfully receive Holy Communion only on the tongue.

6. Women Members also continue the Apostolic tradition of covering their heads in Church.

7. They keep the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour in a place of honour in their homes. Following the example of St Alphonsus they wear the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

8. Following St Alphonsus and the Redemptorist saints, they are lovers of ejaculatory prayer.

9. They write an email or letter to the Rector Major every month to keep contact with the Congregation.

10. They offer a decade of the Holy Rosary every day for the intentions of the Congregation and for the salvation of the most abandoned souls.

11. The Associated Members make their commitment for one year at a time. After five years it may become permanent or continue on an annual basis. An Associated Member may freely terminate his or her Associated Membership by a letter to the Rector Major. Likewise, the Rector Major may freely terminate an Associated Member’s Membership by writing a letter to him or her.

12. The Associated Members as private individuals do not undertake any projects or works in the name of the Congregation. If a group of Associated Members is formed it remains on the level of the fraternal support and friendships of the individual Associated Members; it does not become a moral body and may not engage in any works in the name of the Congregation or in the name of a group of Associate Members.

Members of the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Golgotha Monastery Island, Papa Stronsay.

Two Pilgrims and a Cross

Recently we have had the pleasure of making two new friends: Sam and Wojciech from Doncaster, England.  They had decided to make a cycling pilgrimage from Doncaster to various churches and shrines, ending up on Papa Stronsay.  The over 600 miles took them 12 days to complete!  The pilgrimage was made for the intention of the teaching of solid doctrine to return to the Church, and for the faithful to receive this teaching.  They stayed on Papa Stronsay for 3 days during which time they erected a Pilgrimage Cross.  Following in the tradition of the "Vow Cross", we invited Sam and Wojciech to erect this Pilgrimage Cross as a permanent memory of the completion of their pilgrimage. 

Sam and Wojciech with Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R. as they prepare to concrete the steel support which they had spent many hours preparing.

 Making sure the steel is straight now is important, as once the concrete is in it cannot be done.

 Sam prepares to pour the first load of concrete which will secure the steel support into the ground.

 All done.  Now it must be left over night to dry.

The first Pilgrimage Cross to be erected on Papa Stronsay.
 A worthy testimony to the effort and devotion of these two pilgrims!

The Cross will now be painted and blessed for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Saturday.

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