Monday, 10 January 2011

A Retreat to Golgotha Monastery

Following the unforgettable day at Bellahouston during His Holiness's Visit to Scotland, what better way to finish off such a memorable occasion than to engage in another.

Safely home for one night to repack my luggage it was off by train to Inverness early next morning to join up with my two fellow retreatants who were driving up from Edinburgh.  Three hours later I meet up with Mark and Alan for breakfast then hopped into Alan's car for the four hour journey to the North to get the afternoon ferry from Gill's Bay to St Margaret's Bay on the Orkney Isles.  This part of Scotland's countryside is beautiful  but bleak, with nary a wood or even tree in sight.  Wild moorland where life is hard and luxuries are few yet rich in God's splendour and grandeur.

Papa Stronsey Retreat

 On the good ship Pentalina we were very pleasantly surprised to see a number of religious quietly reciting the Office - yes, the contingent of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer who had made the pilgrimage to Bellahouston were also making their way home to Papa Stronsay.

 After arriving in Orkney it was time for another ferry from Kirkwall to Stronsay before boarding the communities little yawl for the short crossing to Papa Stronsay.  So, after a journey comprising of a train, car, two ferries, a bus and finally the wee "Alphonsis" we arrive safe and sound at Golgotha Monastery some 10 hours after setting off.

Papa Stronsey Retreat
Papa Stronsey Retreat

 In honour of the Papal visit to Scotland the community loyally flew the papal flag throughout his visit.  Was this the most northerly flag in the U.K.?

Fr Michael Mary soon had us billeted into our cells.  Imagine my shock to be shown the "Bishop's Suite" complete with en-suite facilities and grand piano!  Alan and Mark meanwhile were given monk cells within the quadrangle.  So, my retreat subject matter was already chosen for me - Chapter 7 of The Rule on Humility.

A Mass of thanksgiving, Vespers, a light supper, compline then to bed.

More soon.

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