Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Bartimaeus gives us a great focus on the traditions in the accounts in the Gospels.
There is a rewarding study of Jesus' healings to see.
Our Vigils Reading gives a deepening into the "
enlightening of eyes" by Clement of Alexandria.
Given the Gospel narrative, the contemplation by Clement creates the presence of prayer,
"Receive Christ, receive power to see, receive your light".

Master, I want to see.

Bartimaeus: A blind beggar healed by Jesus outside Jericho, according to Mark (Mark 10: 46-52), though in Matt. 20: 29-34 the narrative is of two blind men healed. That the beggar followed Jesus 'on the way' (Mark 10: 52) indicates that he became a disciple when his eyes were opened. Discipleship is one of Mark's themes and according to Acts 9: 2 the early Christian community knew itself as 'the Way'. (Oxford Dict. of Bible).


Christ Our Light II Gospel Themes

Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, "Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me." And man y of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him

here." So they called the blind man. "Courage," they said "get up; he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke. "What do you want me to do for you?" "Rabbuni," the blind man said to him "Master, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has saved you." And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.

From the
Exhortation to the Greeks by Clement of Alexandria (Cap. 11: SC 2, 181-183)

Though related to the earlier Christian apologies, this work is concerned not with defending Christianity against calumnies, but with moral formation. We have been enlightened by Christ, the Word. If we obey his teaching he will give us a share in the divine nature. Quotations from classical authors are indicated, though no references are given.

[CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (c.150-215) was born at Athens of pagan parents. Nothing is known of his early life nor of the reasons for his conversion. He was the pupil and the assistant of Pantaenus, the director of the catechetical school of Alexandria, whom he succeeded about the year 200. In 202 Clement left Alexandria because of the persecution of Septimus Severus, and resided in Cappadocia with his pupil, Alexander, later bishop of Jerusalem. Clement may be considered the founder of speculative theology. He strove to protect and deepen faith by the use of Greek philosophy. Central in his teaching is his doctrine of the Logos, who as divine reason is the teacher of the world and its lawgiver. Clement's chief work is the trilogy, Exhortation to the Greeks, The Teacher, and Miscellaneous Studies].

The commandment of the Lord shines clearly, enlightening the eyes. Receive Christ, receive power to see, receive your light, "that you may plainly recognize both God and man." More delightful than gold and precious stones, more desirable than honey and the honeycomb is the Word that has enlightened us. How could he not be desirable, he who illumined minds buried in darkness, and endowed with clear vision "the light-bearing eyes" of the soul?

"Despite the other stars, without the sun the whole world would be plunged in darkness." So likewise we ourselves, had we not known the Word and been enlightened by him, should have been no better off than plump poultry fattened in the dark, simply reared for death. Let us open ourselves to the light, then, and so to God. Let us open ourselves to the light, and become disciples of the Lord. For he promised his Father: I will make known your name to my brothers and sisters, and praise you where they are assembled.

Sing his praises, then, Lord, and make known to me your Father, who is God. Your words will save me, your song instruct me. Hitherto I have gone astray in my search for God; but now that you light my path, Lord, and I find God through you, and receive the Father from you. I become co-heir with you, since you were not ashamed to own me as your brother.

Let us, then, shake off forgetfulness of truth, shake off the mist of ignorance and darkness that dims our eyes, and contemplate the true God, after first raising this song of praise to him: "All hail, O Light!" For upon us buried in darkness, imprisoned in the shadow of death, a heavenly light has shone, a light of a clarity surpassing the sun's, and of a sweetness exceeding any this earthly life can offer. That light is eternal life, and those who receive it live. Night, on the other hand, is afraid of the light, and melting away in terror gives place to the day of the Lord. Unfailing light has penetrated everywhere, and sunset has turned into dawn. This is the meaning of the new creation; for the Sun of Righteousness, pursuing his course through the universe, visits all alike, in imitation of his Father, who makes his sun rise upon all, and bedews everyone with his truth.

He it is who has changed sunset into dawn and death into life by his crucifixion; he it is who has snatched the human race from perdition and exalted it to the skies. Transplanting what was corruptible to make it incorruptible, transforming earth into heaven, he, God's gardener, points the way to prosperity, prompts his people to good works, "reminds them how to live" according to the truth, and bestows on us the truly great and divine heritage of the Father, which cannot be taken away from us. He deifies us by his heavenly teaching. instilling his laws into our minds, and writing them on our hearts. What are the laws he prescribes? That all, be they of high estate or low, shall know God. And I will be merciful to them, God says, and I will remember their sin no more.

Let us accept the laws of life, let us obey God's promptinhs. Let us learn to know him, so that he may be merciful to us. Although of it, let us pay God our debt of gratitude in willing speak, which we owe him for our lodging here below.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Raymond Sabbatical

One of the world's busiest shipping centres. More clear in the origin photo.

Hong Kong return.

Fr. Raymond sends this word,

“Just a note to say that I have at last returned from the Sabbatical trip of a life-time 'down under”.

I would have been in touch regularly but for the fact that I discovered that the so called world wide web is not so easily accessible as its name would suggest!” (Raymond)

The Saturday BVM Missa de Beata was celebrated by Fr. Raymond to mark his home coming from the abbatial retirement. It does mean picking up the monastic threads of community life.

The final stage of his Sabbatical was at the monastery of Our Lady of Joy, Lantao Island, Hong Kong. He was there hile there the community celebrated the canonisation of Saint Rafael, Cistercian Monk, when visiting Trappistine Sisters joined in the event.

At the first Saturday of the BVM Missa de Beata he recalled his blessings in Hong Kong.

“Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed”.

The Liturgy of the monks at Lantao is in Chinese, but at Compline eack evening they sing the SALVE REGINA in Latin Gregorian. It made him at home with the Salve.

As he experienced the monks and sisters in Asia he felt the role of Mary, the Mother of the World.

From the southern point of his pilgrimage, the monastery of Kopua, NZ, he took photos of the Maori Madonna, named “The Southern Madonna - at Southern Star Abbey, Kopua”.

(See note on the artist;

“Julia B. Lynch 1896 – 1975 Julia Lynch (Sister Mary Lawrence of the Trinity RSM) trained at the Palmerston North Technical School and later at the Slade School of Art of University College London. She was a regular exhibitor in the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, also in Paris, Australia, Rome and in the London University Gallery”).

Hopefully, Raymond is to give to the community some account of his experience of the three countries and the Cistercian Abbeys; Tarrawarra Aus), Kopua(NZ) and Lantao(HK).

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Pope on Bernard of Clairvaux

----- Forwarded Message ----

From: Andy

To: Donald

Sent: Thu, October 22, 2009 1:29:32 AM


Hi, Donald

Hope that all is going well with the "burning" of disks.

I received this today via the Vatican News Services and thought that you might be able to use it if you have not received it already.



Thank you, Andy.

It is not easy to keep pace with the Holy father.

It is doubly interesting to have this Catechesis on Saint Bernard by Pope Benedict in the public audience.


Thu, October 22, 2009 1:29:32 AM

VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the catechesis he delivered during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father turned his attention to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), known as the last of the Church Fathers "because in the twelfth century he renewed and updated the great theology of the Fathers".

Born in Fontaines, France, Bernard entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty. In 1115 he was sent by St. Stephen Harding, third abbot of Citeaux, to found a new monastery at Clairvaux where Bernard himself became abbot. At Clairvaux the saint "insisted on the importance of a sober and restrained lifestyle, in food, in clothing and in the structures of the monastery, at the same time encouraging support and assistance for the poor", the Holy Father explained.

From Clairvaux, where the community grew steadily, Bernard corresponded regularly and often with people of all kinds, and wrote a large number of sermons and treatises. As of 1130 he also concerned himself with serious questions affecting the Holy See and the Church. With his writings he combated the heresy of the Cathars who, by spurning matter and the human body, also spurned the Creator. Likewise, he "defended the Jews, condemning the ever more widespread outbreaks of anti-Semitism".

The two central aspects of the saint's doctrine concern Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. He "did not introduce novelties to the academic discipline of theology but, with great decisiveness, likened the theologian to the contemplative and the mystic", in the belief that "true knowledge of God consists in a personal and profound experience of Jesus Christ and His love.

"This", the Pope added, "applies to all Christians. Faith is first and foremost an individual and intimate encounter with Jesus, it means experiencing His closeness, His friendship, His love". Thus Bernard was in no doubt that "through Mary we are led to Jesus", and he clearly demonstrated "the privileged place of the Virgin in the economy of salvation, thanks to her entirely unique participation in the sacrifice of her Son".

Even today St. Bernard's ideas "stimulate not only theologians but all believers. At times we think we can resolve the fundamental questions about God, mankind and the world using only the power of reason. St. Bernard however, solidly rooted in the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, ... our reflections upon the divine mysteries risk becoming a vain intellectual exercise and lose their credibility".

Benedict XVI concluded: "Theology defers to the 'science of the saints' - to their intuition concerning the mysteries of the living God, to their wisdom (a gift of the Holy Spirit) - who become a point of reference for theological thought. ... In the end, the most authentic figure of theologian and of evangeliser remains that of St. John, who placed his head against the Master's heart".

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Theophane - 20th Century Trappist Monk Canonized

Abbot Mark, Nunraw, represented the community at the canonisations at St. Peter's Square, Sunday 11th October 2009. He only had a disposable camera for this shot.

Regarding a Biographical Article on Saint Rafael, I was delighted to hear from Brother Theophane, (Hong Kong). He, many years ago, kindly gave me material on this subject for our Website.

Now with the CANONIZATION of Saint Rafael Arnaiz Baron, it is timely to update on his biography.

I am very happy to avail of Br. Theophane’s offer.

He wrote to me.

Wed, October 21, 2009 2:45:10 AM

From: Our Lady of Joy abbey, Lantao, Hong Kong

Br. M. Theophane Young

20th Century Trappist Monk Canonize1.doc (27KB)

To; Donald,

Peace from Lantao!

. . .

I have attached an article I wrote for our local Diocesan newspaper re Rafael's canonization, in case you might want to replace the one by me on your website. Alternatively, you could just add a sentence indicating his canonization's fact/

date/place onto the present article.

. . .

Fraternally in His Love,

(brother*) Theophane

Thank you Br. Theophane.

Herewith is your splendid article, and see if some illustrations may be appropriate.

20th Century Trappist Monk Canonized

Brother Rafael Arnaiz y Baron OCSO was canonized in Rome on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. This, just a little over 70 years since his death from diabetes in Spain at the age of 27 in 1938, is the first canonization of a Cistercian monk in many centuries and the first-ever of one of the monks of the 17th century Trappist reform of the 900-year old monastic order of Cistercians.

Rafael was first brought to the attention of the Catholics of the world by Pope John Paul II when, at the International Youth Congress of 1988 in Santiago (St. James) de Compostela, Spain, he strongly recommended Rafael as a model for contemporary young people. Four years later the same Pope beatified the young architect-become-monk, who, through his often illustrated writings, was already quite well known among Spanish-speaking Catholics. Now his life and some of his writings are beginning to be translated into other languages such as French, Italian, English, Japanese, Indonesian and even Chinese, so Catholics all over the world can come to know him and his down-to-earth spirituality.

Born into a fairly well-off, devout Catholic family in 1911 in Burgos, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Castile in north-central Spain, Rafael was the oldest of four children. The others were two brothers, Fernando, who became a Carthusian monk, and Leopoldo, who married, and one sister, Mercedes, who became an Ursuline nun but died at the age of 29 in 1946. Theirs was a happy family, with the strong faith and genuine piety of the parents being passed on to the children: frequent Mass and Communion and the nightly family rosary were taken for granted. Rafael received his sense of good artistic taste and his love for nature from his engineer father, and his abilities in leadership and constancy amidst tribulation from his musician mother.

When he was nine, Rafael fell ill with a very serious pleurisy infection, so his parents took him to the Spanish capital of Madrid for treatment. There he responded well and recuperated quickly, to his family’s relief. The following August, 1921, his father, as a gesture of thanksgiving for his recovery, took Rafael on a pilgrimage to the famous shrine of the Virgin of the Pillar in Saragossa. While there, his father consecrated the 10-year old Rafael to Our Lady; later, his mother attested that it was from this time on that there grew in Rafael the especially ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which would become one of the characteristics of his spirituality.

From his earliest years, Rafael’s personality was marked by affability, serenity, and playfulness. He had a lively imagination and was full of joy. He was pleasant to be with, compassionate towards those having troubles, and mixed well with all around him regardless of their social standing; so he had many friends. In a word, Rafael loved people, and it was this, plus his intense piety, which enabled him to exercise a good influence on many, even while a young student. Later on, he put these qualities to practical use as a member of the Catholic Action and St. Vincent De Paul Society movements.

Rafael was educated under the Jesuits, in Burgos and later in Oviedo. He was an intelligent and serious student, distinguishing himself in Mathematics and especially talented in art. With these two academic strengths, it was no surprise that he chose to study Architecture at University, and was readily accepted at Spain’s premier School of Architecture in Madrid in 1930.

Later that same year, on a visit to his Uncle in Avila, Rafael, at his Uncle’s suggestion, made his first visit to a Trappist monastery, the nearby San Isidro Abbey. For Rafael, it was ‘love at first sight!’ When he encountered the Trappist simplicity, austerity, and silence, his spirit soared and he became keenly aware of his thirst for God. The aesthetic beauty of the monastery, its liturgy, and its surroundings likewise touched his maturing artistic sensibilities. After speaking with the monks of his promptings to follow their way of life, he took their advice and went back to Madrid to finish his studies before taking such a step.

The following three and a half years were purposeful ones for Rafael. Prayer and penance became a regular part of his routine, adding to the joyful friendship of his companions and the diligent attention to his studies that already marked his days. Surely his resolve to belong to God as a monk was tested, both in innocent pursuits like partying and dancing and in more serious temptations against his virtue. He stayed on course. In 1933, he had to interrupt his studies to do six months of compulsory military service. It was not long after that that he wrote to the Father Abbot of San Isidro seeking admission to the monastery. He was accepted to enter as a ‘choir monk’ (which meant he would go on to be a priest-monk), and his father took him there to do so in January 1934.

The next 4 years were a veritable spiritual roller-coaster ride for Rafael. The early heights of the “sweet times of love” were all too soon rudely interrupted by the onset of the diabetes that abruptly brought him low and eventually affected every aspect of his life and led to his early death. After his initial entrance to the monastery, Rafael had to leave three times, twice because of illness and once when called up to fight in the Spanish civil war (he was rejected on medical grounds!). Each time he left, his family welcomed him back, later testifying that he was the same Rafael they knew and loved, congenial, flexible, and spending time with his music and art; but they also admitted that he was different: he spent a lot of time alone reading the Bible, and he spent “hours and hours”, as his younger brother Leopoldo put it, in Church doing his spiritual exercises and visiting with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Each time, Rafael ended up returning to San Isidro, his “la Trapa” as he liked to call it. He asserted in his writings that he knew that he would be happy only there, that his cross, tailor-made for him by God, was there, and that his life of love could be carried out only there – that for him, a life devoted to God alone was the only way to stay on track.

His last two years in the monastery, Rafael had the status of an Oblate, the lowest position in the community: no vows, no community life, no priesthood – a real trial for a vivacious and intelligent young man. This was a real test of his humility, of his abandonment to God’s Will, and of his sincerity in his wish to love God alone – indeed he did make a private vow to love only Jesus during the last months of his life. He spent all of his time in the monastery infirmary, and that was how, with his Spiritual Director’s encouragement, he took to writing down his spiritual experiences. Now it is apparent that, as usual, God knew what He was doing! Rafael proved to be an excellent writer, and that plus his accompanying illustrations contributed to his quick fame and wide influence after his death in April 1938.

Some of Rafael’s ideas on simplicity speak especially to us nowadays, as when he says: “We want to seek greatness in complexity and think that only when things are difficult have they anything worthwhile to offer…. I have seen that to achieve anything in the spiritual life, I need to be free from complexity and contortion, from clever speculation and technicalities. I have seen that we reach God by just the opposite. True knowledge of him comes through simplicity of heart and integrity….

If anybody were to spell out to me just what I had to do to be pleasing to God, I think that with the help of God and his Blessed Mother, I would just do it!”

St. Rafael, be our guide in our efforts to love God, in Himself and in all around us.

M. Theophane Young OCSO, 2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Via Media

I learned more about Josiah from the monastic Vigil Reading this morning. This unusual illumination on this young man in holiness, by Newman, grown against the political grain.

In passing, the reference, “He kept the narrow middle way”, makes how Newman’s words surface other ways in the two volumes of ‘The Via Media’.


First Reading

2 Chronicles 35:20 - 36:12

Responsory Sir 49:1.3.2

The memory of Josiah is like blended incense prepared by the perfumer's craft; it is sweet as honey to every palate and like music at a banquet.+ He set his heart upon the Lord, and in a lawless age made godliness prevail.

V. He took the right course, reforming the nation, and uprooting iniquitous abominations.+ He set his heart ...

Second Reading

From a sermon by John Henry Newrnan

The archers shot at King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am badly wounded. His servants, therefore ... brought him to Jerusalem; and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchers of his fathers.

Thus the best king of Judah died like Ahab, the worst king of Israel; so little may we judge of God's love or displeasure by outward appearances.

God continued his promised mercies to his people through David's line till they were too corrupt to receive them; the last king of the favored family was forcibly and prematurely cut off, in order to make way for the display of God's vengeance in the captivity of the whole nation. He was taken out of the way; they were carried off to Babylon. As for Josiah, as it is elsewhere written of him, His remembrance ... is sweet as honey in all mouths, and as music at a banquet of wine.

He behaved himself uprightly in the conversion of the people, and took away the abominations of iniquity. He directed his heart unto the Lord, and in the time of the ungodly he established the worship of God. All, except David, and Hezekiah, and Josiah, were defective; for they forsook the law of the Most High; even the kings of Judah failed.

In conclusion, my brethren, I would have you observe in what Josiah's chief excellence lay. This is the character given him when his name is first mentioned; he did ... right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

He kept the narrow middle way. Now what is this strict virtue called? It is called faith. It is no matter whether we call it faith or conscientiousness, they are in substance one and the same: where there is faith, there is conscientiousness - where there is conscientiousness, there is faith; they may be distinguished from each other in words, but they are not divided in fact.

They belong to one, and but one, habit of mind - dutifulness; they show themselves in obedi­ence, in the careful, anxious observance of God's will, however we learn it. Hence it is that Saint Paul tells us that the just shall live by faith under every dispensation of God's mercy.

And this is called faith because it implies a reliance on the mere word of the unseen God overpowering the temptations of sight. Whether it be that we read and accept his word in scripture (as Christians do), or his word in our conscience, the law written on the heart (as is the case with heathens); in either case, it is by following it, in spite of the seductions of the world around us, that we please God.

Rafael Arnaiz Baron


. . . Donald,

What delight your Blog! I have been absolutely fascinated by the articles on the life and canonisation of Saint Rafael, juxtaposed so exquisitely with the Gospel story of the Rich Young Man to whom Jesus' heart went out... and also the homily of Saint Peter Damian and article on Saint Bernard.

It is such a joy that you share the delights of feasts and memorias with us, thank you!

With love in Our Lord,




To Donald,

Congratulations on the canonisation of Bro Rafael and what a GREAT Saint and model for our young men of today as well as being a model for all of us committed to following Jesus in the consecrated life.

I really loved your Blog and the input there.

God bless you and may Saint Rafael send you all some good vocations.



Monday, 19 October 2009

Martyrs Patron: Canada Americas

I9 October


Priests and THEIR COMPANIONS, Martyrs

Optional Memoria

Between the years 1642 and 1649 these eight members of the Society of Jesus, who had gone to North America to preach the true faith to the pagans of that land, were killed by the Huron Indians and the lroquois tribes after they had' suffered terrible tortures. Isaac Jogues died on 18 October 1647 and John de Brebeuf on 16 March 1648.

UNIVERSALIS, the Online ‘The Divine Office’ did not include the Breviary Reading. (http://www.universalis.com/readings.htm)

From the spiritual diaries of St John de Brebeuf

Let me die only for you, since you have died for me

For two days without break I have felt a great desire for martyrdom and have been eager to endure all the torments which the martyrs suffered.

My God and my Saviour Jesus, what return can I make to you for all the benefits which you have conferred upon me?

I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings, and I will call upon your name. I make a vow in the presence of your eternal Father and of the Holy Spirit; in the presence of your holy Mother, and of her chaste spouse, Saint Joseph; before the angels, the apostles and martyrs, and my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier,-yes, my Saviour Jesus, I make a vow to you never to fail, on my side, in the grace of martyrdom, if by your infinite mercy you offer it to me some day, to me, your unworthy servant.

I bind myself to it in such a way that during all the rest of my life I shall no longer be free, no longer have the right, to avoid opportunities of dying and of shedding my blood for you. (Unless in some emergency I should judge that for the time being it might be for your greater glory to act otherwise.)

And when I receive death's blow, I bind myself to accept it from your hand with all gladness, and with joy in my heart.

And so, my beloved Jesus, I offer to you from today, in the joy that this brings me, my blood, my body, and my life j so that I may die only for you, if you grant me this favour, since you have been so gracious as to die for me.

Enable me to live in such a way that finally you may grant me this favour, to die so happily.

Thus, my God and my Saviour, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings, and I will call upon your name, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

How I grieve, my God, that you are not known, that this savage country is not yet wholly converted to faith in you, that sin is here not yet blotted out!

Indeed, my God, if all the torments which captives must undergo in this country, even the most cruel tortures, were inflicted on me, I offer myself most gladly to them, that I alone may suffer them.


When Isaac Jogues returned to Paris after his first capture and torture, he said to his superior: "Yes, Father, I want whatever our Lord wants, even if it costs a thousand lives." He had written in his mission report: "These tortures are very great, but God is still greater, and immense."

In the Office of Readings we have an excerpt from the mission journal of St. John de Brébeuf, who had been a student of the great Jesuit spiritual writer, Louis Lallemant. He wrote:

For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.... I vow to you, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.... On receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit.... My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not known, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it.

Sunday, 18 October 2009