Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Catherine of Siena

Tuesday 29 April
St Catherine of Siena (Patron of Europe) (Feast)

We were celebrating Mass today for my special friend St. Catherine of Siena. For some reason she is my favourite. She is a Doctor of the Church but she never wrote a line. All her teaching was dictated. By comparison St. Therese of Liseaux wrote with ease not to say poetically, and piously. Catherine’s teaching is so theological and so Trinitarian. There seems more of a masculine strength in her words. Her style is not that of the Little Flower. Catherine would rather say , “Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things”.

Thumbnail sketches of Catherine’s career tend to journalistic reporting of society and politics with a veneer of spirituality, not the stuff of mysticism.

It is her own words that are more powerful. The Reading from the Prayer of the Church (The Breviary) from The Dialogue is an example. When I hear her words and the ongoing flow of her thought, one paragraph is enough. My mind goes into ‘grid lock’ just to get my head around the shear mysticism in her spirit.

Our guests at the Mass fastened their ears to some of the quotes;
“'You are rewarded not according to your work or your time but according to the measure of your love'. . . . 'Love transforms one into what one loves.'

'The soul cannot live without love. She always wants to love something because love is the stuff she is made of, and through love he created her.'

In a vision she shared that God the Father spoke to her and said:

'Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you have beatitude within your grasp. You are she who is not, and I am he who is.'

- - - “St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon, in 1377, and when she died she was endeavoring to heal the Great Western Schism. In 1375 Our Lord give her the Stigmata, which was visible only after her death. Her spiritual director was Blessed Raymond of Capua. St, Catherine's letters, and a treatise called "a dialogue" are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430”. (catholic.org)

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Monday, 28 April 2008

SCAM de-activated

I am happy to say I went through the Yahoo Help Maze, and eventually got to a human voice. The Rogue Email in domdonald's name has now been DE-ACTIVATED.
The compensation for loosing Email Address Book and other Stored Files is that I have not had a single SPAM since I began using this new Address. It will be temporary until I get on to an entirely different platform.

It is a good spring cleaning exercise.
A friend saw TWO SWALLOWS yesterday.
One swallow does not make a summer but two is a good sign.

I am so grateful to all who recognised the Scam as such, and for the many kind phone calls.
Thank you.
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Thursday, 24 April 2008


see Post 24/04/08 above

East Lothian News, May 2, 2008
By Craig Finlay Reporter

Ex-Abbot victim of internet scam

Former Abbot of Nunraw Abbey, Dom Donald McGlynn, has been left to pick up the pieces after internet fraudsters hacked into his email account and set up a scam to con thousands of pounds from his online friends and contacts.

Describing himself as a "very vexed victim," the Benedictine monk and Guestmaster of Nunraw Guesthouse, near Garvald, told the News of his frustration over the apparent impotence of fraud investigators.

He said: "Sadly, advice is that the fraud-quad cannot do anything unless they have actual tangible evidence of fraud.

"I can only hope that anyone contacted will immediately recognise this fraudulent use of a hitherto reliable facility."

The News received an email from someone pertaining to be Dom Donald (73) on an "important trip" to Canada.

In the communication, the 'victim' claimed to have been robbed of all his belongings and return ticket.
It read: "I just want to plead with you if you can loan me $2800 so I can re-arrange myself and I promise to make refunds to you once I get back. "Please help me have the money sent via Money Gram money transfer. Below is my information you would require in sending the money."

When we caught up with the real Donald McGlynn later that day, he confirmed our suspicions that the circular was, in fact, fraudulent.
He said: "It is a scam. Someone has stolen my email address and is asking for money all over the world."
According to Detective Inspector James Gilchrist, of the Musselburgh-based Lothian and Borders Police specialist fraud unit, internet fraudsters are using every trick in the book to remain one step ahead of the authorities.

He said: "These types of crime are extremely difficult to solve."

Full report in East Lothian News, May 2, 2008

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Monday, 14 April 2008

Children's Hospital

Charles McNeil - Past Resident at Nunraw known for his work in the Children’s Hospital, Edinburgh.

Abbot Raymond received this interesting inquiry regarding the late Professor Charles McNeil.

“I wonder if you might be able to help with some information on the above who had, I believe, some links with Nunraw Abbey? I have the specific task of tracking down information on Prof McNeil, who was appointed to its first Chair [the first to be devoted to the study of the child in health as well as in sickness] in 1931, a post he held until retirement in 1946. The fairly brief biographical information which I have obtained so far indicates that, in the years following his retirement, Prof & Mrs McNeil lived in the Gifford area and had contact with the Abbey, certainly until the former's death in 1964. We are keen to obtain some information
about this time in his life. To this end, I wonder if the Abbey and its Community might be able to furnish some information which could assist us in our task”.

The response to this inquiry is that “All you wanted to ask about Charles McNeill and were afraid to ask”, can be readily found – or at least a good part of it.

To begin at the end, I have just taken a photo of the memorial stone, (the boulder brought from a Galloway river bed at the wish of Charles), in the cemetery at old Nunraw House. At that time of the evening the view was rather remarkable, showing the long shadows of the tree overhanging the grave. The story of the stone is that one of the requests in Charles’ Will was to have this bolder brought from one of the many stream beds in Galloway. This mission was carried out by Adam, driver and gardener at Nunraw Barns, and Seamus, stone worker at the Abbey, who made the long drive to bring home this link with his forebears in the Rhinns of South West Scotland.

Engraved on the chosen monument are the exact dates of birth and life, 1881-1964.

His wife, Alice Workman McNeil, was also buried here.

In the Nunraw library the most helpful record for the purposes of research must be the privately printed, “A Scottish Physician, Charles McNeil, An Appreciation by George Scott-Moncrieff”. It is an illustrated 23 page monograph.

Extract from George Scott-Moncrieff’s “A Scottish Physician”.

An original member of the British Paediatric Association, Charles McNeil was elected its President in 1941, and was also President of the Scottish Paediatric Association. He was elected President of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, 1940-1943, and was made a Fellow of the London College in 1943. He became a member of the Governing Board of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and on his retirement in 1946 the University conferred the title of Emeritus Professor on him and gave him an LL.D. in 1953. During the war years, 1939-1945, Professor MeNeil was engaged in helping with the plans then going ahead for the National Health Service.

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Charles McNeil died at Nunraw Barns on April 27th, 1964, peacefully, after receiving the Last Sacraments.

Many tributes, both public and private, were paid to this "true physician and erudite scholar" as the obituary in the British Medical Journal described him, adding the singular praise "he was incapable of a mean or unkind thought." Intellectually "he had a gift for the rapid assessment of a clinical problem," but perhaps even more important was the gentle loving approach that gave him the immediate confidence of children. A young man remembered meeting him as a child, the warmth and ease with which the Professor spoke to him, and the humility and perception that made an elderly man capable of seeing a child's problems as they appear to the child himself, so that he was able to offer acceptable advice and encouragement. His gracious manner, radiant smile and delightful sense of humour, remain fresh in the memories of many of us who knew him and who would not hesitate to describe Charles McNeil as a saintly man.

Charles McNeil was given the rare tribute of burial amongst the Cistercian monks in the monastic cemetery. In his funeral oration Abbot Columban Mulcahy of Nunraw said that this was a man who might have made his own the words, " Look for me in the nurseries of heaven." (Francis Thomson).

The portrait of Charles McNeil was painted in 1948 by his cousin Murray Urquhart. It would be interesting its final location.

For further reference, see also Lectures as, e.g. BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, LONDON SATURDAY MARCH 6 1954, YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW IN CHILD HEALTH. BY CHARLES McNEIL, MD., LL.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.P.Ed. Professor Emeritus in Child Life and Health, University of Edinburgh. WWWeb. pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=2084750&pageindex=1

The story of Alice Workman-McNeil is on a par with that of her husband. They met through their heroic work in Rouen during the 1914-18 War. Charles was in command of the hospital, mostly under tent, which at one time saw forty thousand casualties brought in.
Alice was one of two sisters from Northern Ireland who arrived in France, bringing their own money to initiate voluntary help to the troops. Alice Workman started four canteens for Servicemen in Rouen and managed them throughout the war. In January, 1919, Charles McNeill and she were married in St. Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church in county Down”.

The loveliest comment on the life’s work of Charles McNeil is his own sense of wonder in the first smile of the child. This humble Pediatrician appreciated to the full his privileged profession expressed in his key direction in the Children’s Hospital. “He always regarded the first smile of a sick child as a matter of major importance, and a large red S had to be written on its chart to record the occasion”.

What is the glorious experience of parents in that first smile is something to move everyone to thank God for the wonder of our being.

Ps. 138(139).
For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation.

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Sunday, 13 April 2008

I am the good shepherd


It is hard not to think that Jesus has got his metaphors a bit mixed up when we consider what he tells us in today’s Gospel. (“I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11).

He starts with the image of a Sheepfold. Then he speaks of the Gate of the Sheepfold; then of the Shepherd who enters through the Gate; then of the Gatekeeper who lets the Shepherd in.

He then switches back to the image of the Shepherd who leads the flock but, in his explanation to his uncomprehending listeners, he suddenly jumps back again to the image of the Gate: “I tell you solemnly, I am the Gate of the sheepfold.” “Anyone who enters through me will be safe: He will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.”

It is only after all this that Jesus explicitly applies the image of the Shepherd directly to himself. He finally says: “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep….I know my own and my own know me.”

In summary, the Lord would seem to be implying that the basic picture is of His Heavenly Father being the Gatekeeper; He himself being the Gate, and his ministers down the centuries being the Shepherds who pass through the gate but who do so only as his own representatives, for ultimately he alone is both the Gate and the one and only True Good Shepherd.

This brings us to consider this morning the tremendous privilege we have in knowing Him and being called to follow Him who is the only true Gate to eternal life.

All other faiths have their own image of God; their own attitude towards God, more or less true. But no other Faith can give the knowledge of God that comes to us through our Faith in the Son of God incarnate; Jesus, our Brother in the flesh. What a difference that makes. We can hardly imagine what it must be like to have no other image of God and of our relationship with him than the image that still persists in Islam or even in Judaism. And how many millions, and indeed billions, of souls does that include!

We can only cry out with St Paul to the Philippians:

“Because of Christ, I have come to consider all these advantages I had as disadvantages. Not only that, but I believe that nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him, I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.

Abbot Raymond. Morning Chapter Talk

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Saturday, 12 April 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Cardinal Keith O’Brien takes his queue from
POPE BENEDICT XVI’s Message for the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 13 APRIL 2008,Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Theme: “Vocations at the service of the Church on mission”

The Cardinal quotes, “The Church is missionary in herself and in each one of her members. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian is called to bear witness and to announce the Gospel”, and he goes on to view the local panorama of the Church embodying the Vocations of his people in the Archdiocese.

The Holy Father himself extends the spiritual and ecclesial horizons of the Christian community.

It is worth reading his whole text,

He begins his message by recalling Jesus’ Great Commission to the Apostles (Mt. 28:19-20) to take the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He then traced this mission back to its origins in the call of God to the prophets. The way the Gospel is transmitted today remains the same as in the time of the Apostles. “In the beginning, and thereafter, what ‘impels’ the Apostles is always ‘the love of Christ’. (...) In fact, the love of Christ must be communicated to the brothers by example and words, with all one's life.”

This double loop, from the Apostles near ground level to the heights of the love of Christ, seems to be the Pope’s style, as in the next double loop. For example, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves, he said to the Apostles: “You give them something to eat” (Mt 14: 16), encouraging them to assume the needs of the crowds to whom he wished to offer nourishment, but also to reveal the food “which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6: 27).

“The promises made to our fathers were fulfilled entirely in Jesus Christ. In this regard, the Second Vatican Council says: “The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons … To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By his obedience he brought about redemption” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium,”

This same heavenly grid is evident where Benedict XVII quotes his two predecessors.

“My venerable predecessor John Paul II wrote: “The special vocation of missionaries ‘for life’ retains all its validity: it is the model of the Church's missionary commitment, which always stands in need of radical and total self-giving, of new and bold endeavours”. (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 66)

This multitude of men and women religious, belonging to innumerable Institutes of contemplative and active life, still plays “the main role in the evangelisation of the world” (Ad Gentes, 40). With their continual and community prayer, contemplatives intercede without ceasing for all humanity. Religious of the active life, with their many charitable activities, bring to all a living witness of the love and mercy of God.

The Servant of God Paul VI concerning these apostles of our times said: “Thanks to their consecration they are eminently willing and free to leave everything and to go and proclaim the Gospel even to the ends of the earth. They are enterprising and their apostolate is often marked by an originality, by a genius that demands admiration. They are generous: often they are found at the outposts of the mission, and they take the greatest of risks for their health and their very lives. Truly the Church owes them much” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 69).

“Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life can only flourish in a spiritual soil that is well cultivated. Mission, as a witness of divine love, becomes particularly effective when it is shared in a community, “so that the world may believe” (cf. Jn 17: 21).

The Church prays everyday to the Holy Spirit for the gift of vocations.”

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Thursday, 10 April 2008

Nunraw trial Video

This is a trial in using the Video facility of this BLOG

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Adam, where are you?


The Books of Holy Scripture are full of twin stories, Diptychs; sometimes with one story in the Old Testament relating to one in the New, e.g. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac vis-à-vis God the Father’s sacrifice of Jesus; sometimes with both stories in the same Testament; e.g. The two miraculous catches of fish in the Gospels, or the Deliverance of Israel, first from Egypt and then from Babylon in the O.T. Sometimes the two stories are thousands of years apart e.g. The Passion and Death of Samson in the O.T. and the Passion and Death of Christ in the N.T.;

Sometimes the stories are immediately one after the other as with the stories of the Annunciation and Birth of John the Baptist and the Annunciation and Birth of Jesus.

In every case, however, the first story is a key to the understanding of the second. The second story is coloured and enriched by its association with the first.

So, with this in mind, let us take one of these Diptychs and try to draw all we can of the Divine Author’s meaning from it. God is, after all, the supreme dramatist. Before him all the Cicero’s and Dante’s and Shakespear’s of the world pall into insignificance.

Moreover, where these great human authors can only write with words on paper or parchment God can dip his finger into the ink-well of his creative power and write real historic scenes with real live characters on the pages of history itself in order to convey his message to us.

The great Diptych I would like to consider here is the Diptych which places the story of the Garden of Eden, the Garden of the Fall, and the story of the Garden of Christ’s Tomb, the Garden of the Resurrection, side by side.

In the Garden of the Fall, God appears as the Heavenly Father, the Creator of Mankind.

In the Garden of the Resurrection, God appears as Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind.

In the Garden of the Fall God calls out to his fallen creature: “Adam, where are you?” Now, it becomes apparent as we study the parallels of this Diptych, that this is no angry cry of an offended Deity, but rather the heartfelt cry of a Father who has lost his son.

God’s cry of “Adam, where are you?” in the Garden of the Fall is contrasted with Magdalene’s cry in the Garden of the Resurrection: “Where is he? They have taken away my Lord!

In the first Garden it is God who is seeking man; in the second Garden it is man who is seeking God. The balance is at last restored.

And how fitting it was that it should be Mary Magadalene who represents fallen man seeking his God; she who was sin personified, as it were; she, out of whom seven devils had been cast. She had seen it all, done it all. How beautiful that the Risen Christ should therefore first appear to her – she who was first, the personification of sinful man, and then, the personification of the repentant sinner.

In the first Garden it is man who is hiding from God, in the second Garden it is God who is hiding from man.

Jesus plays a game of ‘hide and seek’ with Magdalene and by his questioning: “Why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” he draws from her the expression of her desire for him: “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where the have laid him.”

Then finally, and so beautifully, the scene climaxes in Jesus calling her by her name: “Mary” and at this she recognises him and clings to him with unspeakable joy. In this, so beautiful way, calling her by name, Jesus gives us a sign and a symbol of the utter love with which he forgives and takes us back to himself.

And so the scene of the First Garden is reversed and all things are restored to what they ought to be – Repentant Man seeking and finding his God again.

Abbot Raymond
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