Monday, 29 June 2009

Peter & Paul

Solemnity Saints Peter
and Paul


Jesus played on Peter's name which is the same word for "rock" in both Aramaic and Greek. To call someone a "rock" is one of the greatest of compliments.

The New Testament describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

We can say — "Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Donald Golden Jubilee

50th Anniversary of Ordination of Donald's Priesthood

As I begin the Homily we thank the Poor Clare Sisters from Humbie for the glorious display of flowers around the Church. It expresses the wonderful welcome to all present in this Golden Jubilee Mass.

24th. June 2009 we celebrate the Birthday of Saint John the Baptist just as we did 1959 and we give thanks of the fiftieth anniversary of ordination of my priesthood.

The only thing you can say about fiftieth is that it is decimal. O good friend has a better idea he writes on the Golden Jubilee as the DOMINICAL DECADES, the Lord’s Five Decades. Our values of time are not decimal, we have 24 hours, 7 days, four weeks, 12 months. The decimalisation of our years are more dignifies by significance of Jubilee and Golden.

It is in that religious spirit we have imbedded the sacredness of time. As for example the Birthday of St. John the Baptist embodies the reality of the richness of the fullness of life in relations. We listened to the simple narrative of the Gospel sounding and resounding with the words of the life of the child, of parents, of family , of a people. “The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy” Lk. 1:57.

In this context, such is the beauty of Ordination of Priesthood. I can recall the day when Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray laid his hands of Ordination of Priesthood on my head. If I felt (and still feel) the awesomeness of that moment it was but the radiance touching child, parent, family, people, Church — making more and more for every year since and on, the communion bonding us in the reality, the love, the light and the glory. This is the COMMUNION of a PRIESTLY PEOPLE.

The story of this 50 years of one monk and priest in the community of Nunraw can only be a passing glimpse in the panoply of amazing persons.

For me was a key figure the first Abbot. Abbot Columban, by name of the DOVE, Columba and he symbolizes his fame in ecumenical activity in Scotland. But a smaller occasion. Columba was dying in Saint Raphael’s Hospital lying in coma. On one occasion friends were gathered around the hospital bed chatting away knowingly about the unconscious patient. I said, “Look at Columba. He is listening to every words”. At that point a wide smile lighted up his face. His 22 years as Abbot left his mark on the Abbey – with its joys and sorrows but most memorable is the monk of his life of dedication and praise of God.

A very different character was Brother Carthage. He was another key member of the community. As one of the founders he was Brother in the farm and then carried through the management of the considerable farm to his end. As a boy Carthage went to the Cistercian College in Mount Melleray, and then later joined the monastery of Mt. St. Joseph. Learning some of his story from his family later I could well believe that he would have liked to go to the Priesthood as in fact his brother did. That possibility did become more accessible for Brothers.

So two very different stories but the very centre of both was the dedication and consecration of their lives in the monastic vocation. I can hear the inner refrain as in the Liturgy of St. John the Baptist.

“Before I formed you in the womb.

I know you, and before you were born

I consecrated you”.

Even just two vignettes of the community are the stories of each of the monks. They include the crosses in the cemetery and in this internet world even the shared memorials in the Website. It was something that my friend Liam mastered for us.

Now if I were to talk similarly for myself, my story, you would immediately pick it up the composition of my Obituary.

Another key monk was the Novice Master — Fr. Andrew from Dumbarton. Fr. Andrew knocked into shape a good number of Novices. He had a problem. In order to keep himself awake after the Night Office he learned to do Bookbinding, stitching together the very large Choir Books. But even more spiritual but very practical was the translating of the French of the Writings of the Teacher of the Beatified monk, Brother Joseph-Marie Cassant.. Andrew would lend of the copy of the manuscript.

In the company of these holy monks we are reminded of the likes of the Beatified Br. Joseph of the monastery of Desert near Toulouse. Maybe we keep our light under a bushel but the amazing story of Joseph Cassant is different. There is a catalogue of the success of his prayer of intersession for healing and favours. The witnesses recorded “From 1903 to 2001, there are recorder 418 interventions on his part of conversions, reconciliations, cures or notable improvement in health material favours, etc”. The miracle of recovery from cancer and other accounts go on. What is rather ironical is the contrast, and the problem to find miracles to identify miracle for the promotion the canonization of John Henry Newnan.

On the one hand is the accumulation of evidence of the sanctity of the concealed and hidden monk and priest Joseph Cassant, and on the other hand is the scarce of miracle by the Cardinal od great renown.

Perhaps there is a lesson in it all.

The young monk died of tuberculosis.

His spirituality was so simple. His life is the offering of self to the Father and everything then becomes intercession for souls.

There is a graphic illustration. In the Diocese of Paisley there is the Coat of Arms. It has the inscribed MOTTO “For the good of souls”. The Bishop Emeritus, John Mone, used to speak on the teaching of the intercession for souls.

In 1946 at the foundation of Nunraw to be abbey, the Mother House, Mt. St. Joseph, surrendered from the Library a consignment of books. It contained the collection of 8 Vols of Fr. Frederick Faber. At the top of the list of titles was “All for Jesus.”

A Chapter is called “INTERCESSORY PRAYER” and the First Section, “The saving of the Soul”. It is some daunting reading of Fr. Faber who was like a gushing oil-well of preaching the Word in Brompton Oratory in London.

Typically he set out his thought “Let us see what goes to the saving of a SOUL.” He then caps this aspiration, not with one thought but an effusion of some 15 insights to the heart. To begin basic “In the first place, it was absolutely necessary that God should become man”.

The last one took my breath, even thought it was basic.

“And all the time the SOUL is so near to God, and his heart IS A PLACE so sacred and so privileged, that NONE BUT GOD HIMSELF can communicate grace to it, (to the soul),


NOT EVEN the Mother of God herself,

Throughout all ages”.

The challenge is NONE BUT GOD HIMSEL can give grace to the soul, the sobering thought and adoration of the holiness of God.

The challenge is that of the immensity of the thought and understanding, “NONE BUT GOD Himself communicates grace to the soul”.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Father Donald's Golden Jubilee

In case he is too shy to tell you himself, I interrupt this broadcast to tell you that today, St John's Day, was Father Donald's Golden Jubilee of Ordination to the Priesthood. Conventual Mass at 11 in the Abbey was followed by a very pleasant lunch in the Guest House. Despite the short notice a reasonable crowd of family and friends turned up, including of course, his brother, Father Nivard, whose own Golden Jubilee is next month, and four of their five sisters - Noreen, Mary, Patricia and Josephine. Ad multos laetissimos annos.


Monday, 22 June 2009

My little piece of Scotland

My little piece of Scotland

Scotland on Sunday: 21 June 2009, E-mail

MY FAVOURITE little piece of Scotland has got to be Nunraw, East Lothian. My little brother Joe was born here. I like it because there are lots of trees to climb and rhododendrons for us and the cat, Hardy. I also like it because there are lots of flowers to pick for my mum and neighbour, Maggy.

The monks live in the abbey, two roads up above us. They are very nice and we go to see them for church sometimes. The monks have a farm where my second neighbour Gerry works. It's not a "farm" farm because they only keep cows in it. They clear out the cages when the cattle are out mating and feeding.

At Nunraw in the houses it's very cold but outside it's a little warmer. At Nunraw there is a popular tree that is the lime tree. When you go through the arch past our houses there is a whole road of lime trees up to the farm.

I have lived here for eight years. I am bilingual, my dad is French and my mum is Irish. They have lived in Scotland for 20 years. My dad lives in Haddington and it's nice there as well. In Haddington I have a friend called Katherine and we went to Yellowcraigs beach with her.

Although we have a small garden we can fit lots of games into it. Joe, Papa and I play piggy-in-the-middle, football, catch-bounce pass and chest pass with our teddies Tortia, Chocko, Goldie and Teddy. We go for walks along the River Tyne with our pets in the buggy. A few times we cycled ten miles from Haddington to Longniddry and back along the cycle path. It's a lot of fun and we stop at our favourite places: the car park, the pond where we make bridges, the park, the bench and Longniddry, where we watch the trains.

I enjoy having two houses and a cat. We got the cat to keep the field mice away. Hardy (the cat) has killed 20 field mice at the moment. I like him.

Saoirse Joy Murphy (eight), Nunraw

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Saint Aloysius Springburn

It was joy to welcome our friends from St Aloysius Springburn, Glasgow.

Herewith are the PHOTOS of the Pilgrims at the Farm Barns just after your Way of the Stations of the Cross.

And walking up the hill was a great achievement by the brave seniors. Some ladies were all-out after climbing the hill of the South Avenue. And they got the rest of the distance to Church for the Mass.

Fr. John pointed out that they missed a Saturday this time for Saint Aloysius Gonzaga’s feast.

God reward all the good people.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Father Faber

Frederick William Faber

Library collection of Fr. Faber.

In 1946 at the foundation of Nunraw, the Mother-House of Roscrea sent a consigment of library books containing the hardbacks of Fr. Faber’s. All for Jesus

  • The Precious Blood
  • Bethlehem
  • The Blessed Sacrament
  • The Creator and the Creature
  • Growth of Holiness
  • Spiritual Conferences
  • The Foot of the Cross (8 vols., London, 1853-1860).

Some of the old volumes are now the worse of wear, and are in need of by better reprints. From the old print I found this riveting reading from:

All for Jesus, Frederick FABER pp. 97-79




What goes to the saving of a soul ―-what is involved in a soul being saved the mystery of prayer―So Gertrude's vision of the Ave Maria―the three instincts applied to tile practice of intercessory prayer―for whom we should intercede―1. for those in mortal sin―2. for the Iukewarrn―3. for the saints on earth―4. for those in tribulation―5. for our benefactors―6. for those aiming at perfection―7. for (he increase of the accidental glory of the blessed―8. for the rich and noble―the time, place, and method of intercession―joy and freedom from vain―glory the fruits of intercessory prayer.



LET. us see what goes to the saving of a soul, and what is involved in its being saved. In the first place, it was absolutely necessary that God should become man, in order that that soul should be saved, according to the dispensation of God. It was absolutely necessary that Jesus should be born, teach, act, pray, merit, satisfy, suffer, bleed, die, for the saving of that single soul. It was necessary that there should be a Catholic church, faith, sacraments, saints, the Pope, and the sacrifice of the Mass, for that one soul. It was necessary that there should be a supernatural gift, a marvellous participation of the Divine Nature, called sanctifying grace, and that on this should be accumulated loving acts and impulses of the Divine Will, in the shape of manifold actual graces, preventing, accompanying,· following, and efficacious, else that soul cannot be saved. Martyrs must die, doctors must write, Popes and councils must expose and condemn heresy, missionaries travel, priests be ordained, for the safety of that single soul. When all these preparations are completed, and by an act of merciful omnipotence that soul is created out of nothing, then there must be a guardian angel appointed over it; all through its life Jesus must be occupied about it; Mary must have a great deal to do with it; all the angels and saints must pray and interest themselves about it. To every good thought, pious word, and devout action, and, of course, they soon come to be innumerable, a participation of the Divine nature, grace, must concur. Unseen evil spirits have to be warded off from it, and foiled in their attempts upon it. Hourly temptations have to cause more or less emotion among its advocates in heaven. Every attribute of God vouchsafes to legislate for its advantage, so that it plays upon them all like one who fingers the keys of a musical instrument. The Precious Blood has to be communicated to it through extraordi­nary sacraments, which are full of mystery, and were invented both as to form and matter by our Lord Himself. All sorts of things, water, oil, candles, ashes, beads, medals, scapulars, have to be filled with a strange undefinable power by ecclesiastical benedictions in its behalf. The Body, Soul, and Divinity of the Incarnate Word have to be communicated to it over and· over again till it becomes quite a common occurrence, though each time it is in reality a more stupendous action than the creation of the world. It can speak up to heaven, and be heard and obeyed there. It can spend the satisfactions of Jesus as if they were its own, and can undo bolts and bars in Purga­tory, and choose by its own determinate will whom it will liberate, and whom it will pass over. And all the time it is so near to God, and its heart is a place so sacred and so privileged, that none but God Himself can communicate grace to it, not even the angels, nor the Mother of God herself, blessed throughout all ages. . . ."

"Saving of a Soul". These last words, " none but God Himself can communicate grace to it , not even the angels, nor the Mother of God herself, blessed throughout all ages.", are so obvious but, at the same time, I am surprised by illumination in this basic of faith.
Maybe Faber radiates, from his Italian and Oratorian tradtion, his immersion of spirituality and devotion, while, on the other hand, Newman reflects the very distinctive apologia for sincere searching.
On the Heralic Shield of the Diocese of Paisley has the motto "FOR THE GOOD OF SOULS". The Bishop Emeritus, John Mone, used to speak on the theme of the intercession for souls.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Joseph-Marie Cassant

June 16, 2009

Blessed Joseph-Marie Cassant

This morning on this Memorial Fr. Thomas introduced the Mass by the amazing catalogues of Blessed Fr. Joseph-Maria’s record of successes of intercession of prayer for healings and favours. Thomas made the striking contrast between the abundance of attributed favours by the concealed monk and the dearth of miracles to promote the Cause of John Henry Newman of such renown.

Later, after saying it would be ironical if a miracle occurred in favour of Fr. Faber, Thomas said it may not because the popular Faber was better showing off himself. I had to admit my likeness of Frederick Faber’s at least eight substantial spiritual works, ‘All for Jesus’ etc.

In the booklet “Blessed Joseph Cassant” the writer Jean Christophe-Christophe comes to this surprising peak in:

“Beyond Death

Three months after his death, the unexpected recovery of a pregnant woman who was operated on for cancer, was already attributed to Brother's intercession. Other favours followed and in 1926, a small book entitled "Two Flowers of the Desert" made him more widely known. From 1903 to 2001, there were recorded four hundred and eighteen interventions on his part: conversions, reconciliations, cures or notable improvements in health, success in studies, material favours. From 1936 to 2001 one thousand eight hundred fifty messages were received, coming from thirty countries, all of which testify to admiration and confidence towards "the dear little Father."

The accumulation of these signs caused official inquiries to be made at Toulouse, Agen and Rome. They concluded on June 9th 1984 by granting a decree recognising the heroicity of the virtues of Brother Marie Joseph and on October 3rd 2004 he was beatified by Pope John Paul 11.”

The Booklet, Blessed Joseph Cassant, is one of the ‘Nine Biographical Profiles of Servants of God, Cistercian Witnesses of Our Time’, published by the Sisters, Trappiste, Vitorchiano, Italy. Dec 2008.

The essential spirituality, ‘First of all Jesus’ is that of both Spiritual Father, Andre Malet, and disciple, Joseph-Maria, (from the cup two doves, symbolizing Father Andre and his disciple, quench their thirst).

I think of the Novice Master, Fr. Andrew Hart, at Nunraw.

Andrew would lend the Novices the manuscripts of one Andre Malet’s writings.

Fr. Andrew has succeeded keeping awake after the Night Office by translating Malet’s La Vie Surnaturelle 1933. Hopefully I will find the whole of the lost copy.

“The message of his Life:

First of all Jesus

Brother Marie Joseph goes straight to the essential: personal relationship with Jesus.

He understands intuitively, that God searches for us and saves us in the celebration of the Eucharist. His life is an offering of self to the Father and everything then becomes intercession. In his suffering, he looks at the cross of Jesus, each morning he desires the Bread of Jesus, at every moment he can count on the Heart of Jesus. How many times in his correspondence does he not allude to this Heart of Jesus to which he confides himself without restric­tion, himself and all those he loves!

A holy card modified by himself manifests his attachment to the Eucharist and to the Heart of Jesus. On the top there is a cross planted in a burning and radiating heart, encircled with thorns; from this heart fall drops of blood that are gathered in a chalice reminiscent of the Eucharist; from the cup two doves, symbolizing Father Andre and his disciple, quench their thirst.

“The spiritual father (or mother)

Brother Marie Joseph reminds us also of the indispensable presence of a guide or spiritual companion. Without Father Andre Malet, the young monk would not have attained the stature and the balance of a human and Christian life. Father Andrew knew how to enlighten and channel Brother's generosity, to free him little by little from his anxieties and a sort of "inferiority complex" arising from his difficulty with studies. But right away one must underli­ne the complete confidence and frankness of the young monk towards his counsellor. He could be helped because he practiced in an exceptional way "openness of heart".

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Corpus Christi


When God threw the planets into space and set the universe turning we can imagine the angels being filled with wonder and praise, especially so when the jewel of this earth evolved - the waters, the dry land; the mountains and hills; the plants and animals; and finally man himself. The whole story is wonderfully told for us, of course, in the first chapters of Genesis. Then, as the history of mankind progressed, the Angels observed hints of another new creation that must have whetted their appetite for something even more wonderful.

First of all they observed the mysterious “Tree of Life” in the midst of the Garden of Paradise, a tree that gave the gift of immortality to whoever partook of its fruit. Then there was that prophetic sacrifice of bread and wine offered by the shadowy figure of Melchizedech. Then there was the unleavened bread of the Exodus, a bread that become a central part of Israel’s liturgical life. Then there came, of course, the wonderful bread from heaven in the desert.

By this time we can imagine the angelic intelligences realising that this is all leading up to some great work of the Lord to come in the future. But what on earth could it be? Were these images of “Bread” foreshadowing ‘Someone ‘or ‘Something’? Are angels given to guessing? I wonder. They couldn’t realise yet that the Eucharist itself was part of this great evolving plan; part of that Great Secret of the Incarnation of the Son of God, hidden from all ages.

But, to continue our journey through the history of revelation; after this there was the “Bread of the Presence” which had to be placed before the ark of the covenant at all times, then, in the time of Gideon there was the mysterious dream of a great round of bread rolling down on the camp of the enemies of Israel and utterly destroying it. Surely all these stories revolving round bread have some Eucharistic significance!

Next comes one of the most beautiful and powerful images of the Eucharist in the whole of the old Testament: the scene where the prophet Elijah, fleeing for his life and collapsing into a sleep of exhaustion in the shade of a desert bush, is wakened by an angel to find bread and water by his side and the angel telling him to rise and eat or the journey will be too much for him.

But what we can be very sure of is that no matter how great the intellects of the Angels, no matter how high in the order of being the Cherubim and Seraphim, they could never have dreamed of the wonder that this was actually leading up to, and how, even they must have been astonished and filled with wonder and praise at Miracle of the Body and Blood of God Incarnate becoming Bread and Wine to nourish the children of God on their journey to their heavenly homeland. Are there any limits to the Loving Omnipotence of our God.

Community Sermon in Chapter

by Dom Raymond Sunday 14 June 2009

Saint Lutgard

It is the Memorial day of Saint Lutgard.

We remember St. Lutgard for her blindness in sight and her mysticism in light of inner sight. We enjoy hearing of her mystical life. In the Gospel this morning (Mt. 5:43) seems in great, contrast “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

Whether we hear words of poetry, mysticism or Scripture we are guided and enriched in the liturgical unfolding.

In the Night Office the Response and Verse to the 1st Nocturne of Office of Virgins so well present the sense of Lutgard,

“The Kind has desired the beauty which he himself has made; He is your King and your Spouse.

V. You are wedded to your God and King by whom you are endowed, adorned, redeemed and made holy”.

We enter into the Eucharist in the love to ‘wed to God’

Thomas Merton had thoughts of revising this book.

Previous Post 16 June 08. Add COMMENTS

Monday, 15 June 2009

Newcastle History Group

Saturday 13 June 2009.

The Northern East Catholic History Society Summer Excursion

The Guest House was full of weekend residents. Charles guided the History Group through to the historic Chapel. His talk of the Painted Ceiling which is full of Heraldry of the Holy Roman Empire and Animals and Flowers, I took the photos of everyone looking to the ceiling heights.

What I love the better are the Liturgical Symbols. Once, during Adoration of the Blessed

Sacrament, I looked up to the painting and for the first time I discerned the Pelican feeding its chicks in one panel, and on the next panel the figure of the Gazelle, the beautiful Scriptural expression of swift and leaping in spirit, Both symbols are replete with reflection in this little Oratory. From that signature key the panoply of Heraldry of States of Europe seems make the Communion of the Saints present.

I promised to forward photos in Attachments by email, or in a Blog.

Since it was the Eve of Corpus Christi some walked, others b

y the coach, through the drive. And Dom Raymond celebrated the Mass i

n the more spacious Abbey Church.

From: Grace of History Group.

Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 2:44 PM

Dear Father Donald

Many thanks for your email. The photos you have so kindly sent are great souvenirs of a fascinating building and a wonderful community.

To hear Corpus Christ Vigil Mass in such a setting was a

rare privilege.

I also enjoyed

the Nunraw blog and will show that and the photos to Fran

k, my husband, who enjoyed Nunraw as much as I did.

With a

ll best wishes to you and to all at Nunraw

God bless you and all your work


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Balmerino Abbey

Welcome Publication
CITEAUX Commentarii cistercienses
2008, t. 59
Life on the Edge
The Cistercian Abbey of
Balmerino, Fife (Scotland)

A monastery is not just the cluster of buildings enclosed within the monastic precinct. It is also the community - religious and lay - who inhabited it, the complex of lands, rights and privileges assembled to sustain that community, and the interaction with notables and neighbours whose influence helped shape its history.

The small Cistercian abbey of Balmerino, on the southern shore of the Firth of Tay in north Fife, has long languished in relative obscurity, consigned to a supporting role in Scottish monastic studies with dismissive comments based on the fragmentary nature of its physical and documentary history. Current research is demonstrating how wrong that interpretation is. These chapters will present a diametrically opposed view of the significance of the surviving record and its value as a source of evidence for the social, economic and environmental history of Balmerino Abbey specifically and the wider region more generally.

See also
Posted: Tuesday, 9 June 2009
At Balmerino Abbey, Fife. 9th. June 1997.
Recalling - THE FOURTEENTH CENTENARY of St Columba

Friday, 12 June 2009

REVIEW Christian Muslim Obama

19 Martyrs pictures below.
and more detail in post TUESDAY, 19 MAY 2009


Christian Martyrs for a Muslim People

by Martin McGee

At the anniversary of the Seven Atlas Martyrs I was fortunate to catch up with the “forthcoming” book of Martin McGee. At weekend it was a joy to read it from cover to cover. The space for an Amazon review has the stamp of brevity but it does note the importance of the significance of Mgr. Henri Teissier. The

Archbishop’s teaching on inter-faith recently adds strength from a surprising source.

The headlines in June 2009 were, Obama reaches out to Muslim world”, “President Obama calls for greater inter-faith harmony”. The now famous address in Cairo must warm the heart of Teissier. Obama emphasized that “the people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.” He made revisions to the speech up until the last minute.

Martin’s book does not carry a sub-title of “19 Martyrs of Algeria”. Its unambiguous title is, “Christian Martyrs for a Muslim People”, and has a much wider range of the Christian-Muslim relations of closer mutual respect, service, friendship, and prayer.

In April 2005 Martin first visited Algeria following a strange attraction and love for the people of Algeria. This book is not some mere travelogue. After his first visit, he described his experience to Mgr Henri Teissier, Archbishop of Algiers, as the la plus belle semaine de ma vie - the best week of my life. Several visits followed and he wrote articles which now feature in this volume.

"The Algerian Church (167).

The key and most powerful influence is that of Mgr Henri Teissier. Much of the significance of this book is essentially the instillation of the thought, comprehension, and spirit of the Archbishop of Algiers, later retired. Between the lines, and more specifically in the Addresses of Mgr Teissier (Appendices), the reader grapples with the vision and the rare insight of this dedication of ‘Christian Martyrs for a Muslim People’. The incisive conclusion to the address, given by Mgrr. Teissier in Italian to a missionary Congress held in Brescia, Italy on May 17, 1997. (155-167), is but a window to his writing).

A hundred years ago the emigration of a European people and of a European population to the south of the Mediterranean brought about the birth of a Church in Algeria. But this Church was, in fact, concerned above all by pastoral work with Christians of European origin. That is why in 1868, when Cardinal Lavigerie founded the White Fathers and the White Sisters, he forbade them to make contact with the European parishes. He sent them into the country regions and to the Muslim districts. Finally, at the end of the colonial period and more particularly with the major crisis in society, all the inhabitants of European origin left. There only remained a few people with a strong evangelical motivation. They are not here to establish a Church in Algeria, but to be the Algerian Church, the Church of Algeria, the Church of a Muslim people. Before the assassinations, the addresses of Archbishop Henri and the talks of Prior Christian of Tibhirine, were purified in the crucible of threat, persecution and long suffering and united in mind and heart and soul."

The blood bath of Algeria1994-96 abated. The current situation of January 2007 is summed up, “The number of active Islamic guerrilla fighters is thought to be approximately eight hundred to one thousand, down from a high of 25,000 at the height of the civil war in the mid-1990s. In January 2007, the GSPC changed its name to the Al-Queda Organization in the Islamic Magreb.” (19).

I take from the 19 brief biographies two vignettes of the brutal terrorism on the people, - the assassinations of four of the White Fathers, Dec 27, 1994, and the assassinations of two of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, Sept 3. 1995, are examples.

The targets of the four White Fathers died in the multiple motivation. It is possible that the fundamentalists were hoping to kidnap the four priests as a reprisal for the killing of four Islamists who had hijacked an Air France plane at Algiers airport a few days earlier on December 24.(59). The reaction this time was a mass response to the killing terrorists.

The White Fathers of Tizi-Ouzou.

“An elderly White father said after the funeral of his assassinated brothers, “I turned towards the Father, giving thanks during the burial of my brothers, the four victims of Tizi-Ouzou. I recall the closed shops along the route of the funeral cortege, and the silent crowd who joined it as far as the cemetery. Imagine ... four Christian missionaries led to their resting place by a crowd of [about 4,000] Muslims; and even more, on entering the cemetery, this crowd emitting youyous and applauding as if for their own martyrs.

Msgr. Teissier, present to the concourse of sympathetic Muslims, was able to find the words which expressed fully the meaning of this demonstration by affirming: "The Mission of the Church is to find and raise up brothers." That's exactly, it seems to me, what this gathering expressed, a witness to a love which had been recognized and shared. This moment will remain the summit of my missionary life, a luminous memory until the end of my existence.” (58).

Sisters Angele-Marie and Bibiane.

The Sisters, on their quiet walk from the Eucharist, were slain beyond any humanity. As they lay in the street dying gunned down no one dared to go to their aid. That is the depth of terror by which people were reduced by the Islamic extremism.

Fear Reigned (Pere Lafitte). “At the time of the killing of the Sisters, Islamic violence was at its height and fear reigned … Despite the fact that the Sisters were universally loved and admired in Belcourt, people were too frightened to show their support after their deaths. Pere Lafitte had to move their belongings with only the help of two religious, one of them elderly. There was only one elderly woman from the area who had the courage to help them. At their funeral there weren't even ten Algerians. Everyone was terrified of the consequences of being seen to oppose the Islamists. . ."You had to leave people to die”. (53-54)

(As I recall the occasion, in October 1996, at the Cistercian General Chapter at Tre Fontane, Rome, Henri Teissier preached the Homily in the remembrance of the Seven Atlas Martyrs. Among introductory comments he said, “I think there is no other monastery in the world which has such a general relationship with the members of the local Church. In this very small Church all had a personal bond with the monastery”).

The venture of Martin McGee in “unexpected places” gives us, in thought, access to the places of Muslim life. “At the very least my short visits to North Africa have given me the ability to see Muslims as fellow believers and as brothers and sisters made in the image and likeness of the one God. A monastic vocation can lead you to the most unexpected places!”

In September 2008 a new publication brings to English readers fuller information and deeper insight in the book, “Christian Martyrs for a Muslim People” by Martin McGee OSB. Books about the assassinations are mostly from the Francophone writers. Martin McGee, in spite of the forbidding aspect, has been attracted in a special way to Algeria and his various trips lead him to a deeper love of the people in Algeria.

Response: REVIEW Christian Muslim
Dear Donald,
That is such an important piece of writing at this time. I love the honour paid to the Atlas Community.
It is a most fascinating, and essential, step towards the "wider range of the Christian-Muslim relations of closer mutual respect, service, friendship, and prayer". How greatly Fr. Christian and his Brothers would welcome this publication, and these new initiatives, which extend the mission of their lives. . . . William.

Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 8:11 AM
Dear Donald,
I have enjoyed reading the Article you posted: Christian Martyrs for a Muslim people. Thank you. . . .invited me to visit Nunraw, so maybe in the next few weeks I will get to read the book upon which the article is based. . . .Peter