Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Oblates Weekend - Sunday

Now firmly settled into the routine of the Community, Sunday commenced as usual with Vigils for the early-birds and a slightly later (approximately half an hour) Lauds, Prime and Terce for those wishing a long Sunday lie-in.

Conventual Mass was offered at 10.00 am and the first conference of the day followed thereafter.  As I indicated in my previous post, today's conferences were held "indoors" and mutterings of 'I knew I should have packed me winter woollies' were quelled.  

Fr Benedict was first up to the mark and gave a highly informative talk on Gregorian Chant; a subject on which he is a noted scholar and much sought after speaker though too modest to admit such.  Father very quickly warmed us up, at least vocally, by encouraging us all to sing selected excerpts as we explored chant scripts and notations especially those from the famous Manuscript Einsiedeln 121 (circa 1000), St Gall Cantatorium MS (late 800's) and Laon MS (mid 900's).

The afternoon conference was given by a fellow Oblate, the Rev. Fr. Dr. Stuart Chalmers.  Father chose an extract from his doctoral thesis - Conscience.  Thankfully his style of delivery on what could have been a very dense subject, well to a dumbo like me anyway, ensured that no-one succumbed an afternoon "power nap" as today's jargon calls it.

After None there was time for confessions and soon a queue formed in the hallway and all four priests, including the Abbot, offered Our Lord's saving Grace for the good of our souls.

Following the evening offices of Vespers and Compline, not forgetting another pleasant supper, we settled down to a DVD made for us by Gabrielle Heitfeld-Panther, a German Cistercian Oblate and friend of Pluscarden Abbey.  Gabrielle's video showed her life and activities as a mother and an Oblate.  It was good to see how others fulfilled their life as an Oblate.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Oblates Weekend - Saturday

An early morning start with a quiet drive from Elgin to the Abbey whilst most of the population remained asleep.  A young deer which jumped out of the undergrowth onto my path provided the necessary wake up call as I drove.  Thank goodness it was summer and, even so early in the morning, full daylight.  Summer did I say?  Well what passes for summer this year in Northern Scotland.  Some oblates felt so cold we vacated the marquee and held the Sunday conferences in the transepts out of the rain, wind and less clement temperatures of an indifferent Scottish summer.

After the morning Liturgy and Office we settled down for the first Conference of the day described by our congenial host and master of ceremonies, Dom Birrell, as "A Keynote Address" by the Abbot, Fr Hugh Gilbert OSB, on Prophet, Priest and King.  I waxed lyrically about this truly inspiring talk in an earlier post and can honestly this view was wholeheartedly agreed upon and discussed between fellow oblates over the weekend.

Although I cannot reproduce the entire video here due to You Tube restrictions I post the first 10 minutes below.

Sext was followed by lunch in the marquee accompanied by some excellent home pressed apple juice from the Abbey's orchard.  We then attended None before settling down to a talk given by Brother Michael, the cellarer, on the duties of his position; an example of which he is demonstrating in this photo.

Vespers, a super supper in the marquee, followed by Compline then back to the marquee for the evening conference.  Originally this was scheduled for a video talk from Fr Giles (seen on the extreme right in this photo avec bald pate, beard and either long shorts or short longs), the prior of Kristo Buase and monk of Pluscarden, a dependent house jointly founded by the Abbeys of Prinknash, Ramsgate and Pluscarden.  Also seen are sisters from an experimental community of female religious nearby.

Unfortunately the videos did not arrive (The Ghana post office service is even worse than the Royal Mail) .  Nothing daunted Fr Martin arranged an alternate evening conference for us and what a little gem of history it proved to be.  A vintage video of the restoration of Pluscarden Priory from 1948 marking a truly historical event in Scottish Catholic annals.  I do hope you enjoy it.

(shown by kind permission of Pluscarden Abbey)