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THE IRISH CISTERCIANS – A TIME TO REGROUP AND REFORM.

It’s now time to close the Cistercian monasteries at Portglenone in Antrim, Mellifont in Louth, Roscrea in Tipperary and Moone in Kildare and relocate all monks to the mother house at Mellerary in Waterford.

This will leave Mellerary with a viable community of 20 + monks.

There is absolutely no point in having four or five old monks in monasteries built for larger communities.

Plus, it’s a waste of money maintaining 5 old, nearly empty buildings.

There may be problems about lands that were left in wills to the different monasteries. Some lands can be sold and other lands go back to the donor’s families.

Another problem will be the individual monastery graveyards where generations of monks have been interred.

This problem has been solved by other religious orders by reinternment in other cemeteries.

Some monastery graveyards can be cordoned off and come under the care of a parish or a diocese.

There have been Cistercian sexual abuse cases in some monasteries.

There are concerns about the Purcell activities in Roscrea and Mellerary.

Purcell is not the only Cistercian monk who had a homosexual lifestyle.

There have also been concerns about alcohol abuse in some monasteries.

Perhaps the situation in Cistercian Ireland has not been addressed because the Abbot General was Irish?

Dom Eamon has a big problem with indecisiveness.

Hopefully a new Abbot General and a new council will bring a renewed energy to the order’s problems.

The “Irish Situation” must be at the top of the agenda for the new abbot general and his council.

120 replies on “THE IRISH CISTERCIANS – A TIME TO REGROUP AND REFORM.”

Unless cistercians return to their founding Chadian and liturgy, then the have no future. What man wants washed down modern monasticism?

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Their Mass liturgy was not too different by 1962, lost most of the differences in the seventeenth century, but the furnishings and gestures were more austere. It is a sad that a New Order version could not have been made in the spirit of Ressourcement. Their LOTH version is still different enough.

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I’m cusious.
These monks made a vow of stability to the individual monastery, not the mother abbey. If the monastaries were wound up it would be
1. a matter for the residents to decide
2. an individual choice on where each monk moves to – subject to the acceptable of where they apply to.
I have known monks to leave and enter diocesian life when their abbey was closed. So your presumption that all cisterican monks can be corralled into a single abbey like cattle into a shed is misguided. The might decide to leave the order altogether.
Moreover, their role is to be a visable presence of prayer. It does not matter if their are one or one hundred monks in a monastery. The people who do on retreat will need the variety. One may not like the overpowering gothic nature of Mellary but see the beautiful simplicity in Moone.
Now, what would you say to a Cistercian who might say you should gather all member of the Oratory Society into your Priory because it would be better to run one house than 4 or 5?
And I do declare my bias because I am alive today due to the intervention of the Cistercians – men who saved me from the bullying that happens in diocesian life. Each member of the institution plays a significant role, including yourself, but the significance is only known in God’s own heart.

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What struck me was the sense of ownership outsiders felt over the monastery as if to say to the community ‘generations of my family have venerated Mt Melleray as a holy place and you’re not going to mess it up’ – this despite the community being the reason for the places existence.

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To all who read my post I apologise for severla typos. I was tired last night.

@12.11 Thank you.

@11.58 – Indeed. Such people would have the monks bow and scrape to them. Matt 26.6 addresses these folk.

@12.21 – you are 100% correct if he is guilty. But all we can conclude is that he brought disgrace to his order by conducting himself in a manner that left him open to serious accusation. But my challenge to you is to begin reading Matt 25, reading from verse 33 to verse 46 inclusive. Then you tell me “what part of that don’t you get?”

It is very easy for an order to boot out a monk and distance themselves. It is very difficult to allow him stay and watch his every move. I assume some oversight from safeguarding would also be required. Being a Christian is rarely the earier option.

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4:21
What do the Gospels say about abusing little ones?
Can little ones be thought of as inferiors as well as children?

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@5.26pm
Little ones might be more properly thought as “vulnerable ones” in today’s parlance.
*
Personally I take a wide interpretation because any person who is abused will have been vulnerable in relation to the abuser, even if not vulnerable in the strict inperpretation of the meaning. e.g. a fully compus mentus person may be vulnerable in relation to the abuser due to difference in office.
*
In relation to the topic at hand today I responded to a comment about an abbott accused of visiting a gay sauna for adult males. It is my understanding that males there are generally consenting to a range of activity.
*
If you are asking me to speak on the topic of abusers, that is different to what I have written about here and to be honest I have no wish to engage on that topic. It is to complex a topic for blog-based social media debate. But permit me to say this, I think abuse is wrong and abusers should serve their prison time. No employer or entity (religious or otherwise) should protect an abuser simply because he or she is their employee or member.
*
Peace to all.

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@ 6:00pm
Thank you, HG.
You are not the only one alive today due to the intervention of the Cistercians.
May you have a Blessed Christmas and Peaceful New Year.
Pax.

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If only you stood back a little, Pat, and allow the monks make their own decisions!! I think you and commenters have said enough and analysed their realities sufficiently. Again, your reference to alcohol abuse in monasteries may be unfounded, yet you state it as if you live with the monks. Don’t we all enjoy a drink? Despite the high ideals of monasticism and the valiant, committed lives of many, they are still human beings and therefore fail and fall like the rest of us. Were any of us to have our sins and failings written large, we might want to jump from a cliff. In these few remaining days of advent why can’t we just pray for one another: pray that we do allow Christ more fully into our lives: pray for those who have fallen ignominiously and humiliatingly that they may be renewed: pray that we may each be more conscious of the ways we can be sources of support, mercy, kindness, guidance and charity towards one another. I hope that you Pat have a good Christmas, one where you can embrace the ones who care for you most. And as I pray for myself and all priests, may God’s Spirit influence our words, prayers and homilies, yours included, this Christmas. It’s been a horrible year for many and we face more challenges, thus we need hope, healing and goodwill in abundance.

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Maybe allow, as Archbishop Lefebvre requested of Paul VI ‘the experiment of tradition,’ which might mean a revival of the Cistercian Rite and the earlier form of the Cistercian Office. Tradition in Ireland cannot represented by pervy Kirby, although there are Carmelites of the Holy Face in Cork, an SSPX Resistance group. They probably wouldn’t take Kirby as a transgender nun (approving a transgender nun as Bp of La Crosse is a fault held against Cardinal Burke by stalwarts). Sr Irene would probably bate him.
Perhaps before they do anything they could look at places that work well enough. Twenty might be viable, but they have been doing something majorly wrong. Take Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, the monastery of Thomas Merton (an ever interesting writer, may he ever RIP), which is trying to revive the old Cistercian chant of Molesme. They aren’t rad trads, but have c. 40 brothers and priests. Perhaps they can just draw their numbers from the vastness of the US, but I think there is something with how they order their life that makes them more attractive. However any sort of notable change, not even a radical retelling of their story, their charism, might be beyond the present crew.

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Trads in Ireland who feel this way should share their thoughts with Bishop Deenihan. Anyone concerned about Kirby and Silverstream should make their views known to the Diocese of Meath.

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That’s terrible (altho Fr Deighan of Harrington St might say he better represents tradition in Dublin and environs at least) and @3:11 it needs to be clearly communicated that Kirby has nothing to do with Silverstream. If it is possible, a letter should cover doing justice in some manner to Fr Andersen. Anyhow given its diocesan right status, +Deenihan should be able to request clear de-Kirbyification.

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5:39, I’ve followed Silverstream for some time and have also visited. I’m afraid that Kirby’s personality and the community are practically inseparable. The paradox is that Kirby is destroying the community, yet they also would collapse without him. I’m afraid that the current prior simply does not have what it takes to hold it all together. Deenihan would have to find a strong prior from a traditional abbey (Clear Creek?), but I very much doubt that any other community wants anything to do with the nuclear fallout zone that is Silverstream Priory.

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Funny I’ve been thinking about Gethsemane in connection with the Cistercians debacle but thinking that recruitment must be a nightmare for them because of the danger of attracting Merton groupies!

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The groupies go down your throat if you mention his highly irregular life and suspicions of death by suicide.

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12:18 I knew a monk who would always say ‘Imagine having that prick in the monastery’ every time his name was mentioned.

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Merton fell in love with a nurse which is not a hanging offence even in Monastic life.
Read “The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation” by Hugh Turley and
David Martin (2019).Turley and Martin make a convincing case that Thomas Merton’s
death in Thailand in 1968 was not an accident but murder.

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We who entered cloistered orders ten, fifteen and twenty-five years ago were
certainly chilled by the sense that there was something warped and inhuman
about it. We were not totally blind and stupid. We knew that we were getting
into something hard, even unreasonably hard. But we also knew that this counted
for very little in comparison with something else which in our case was decisive.
We believed that we were really called by God to do this . . . . It is true that we
were told absurd things, made to behave with a stupid and artificial formality, and
put through routines that now, as we look back, seem utterly incredible. How did
we ever stomach such atrocious nonsense?
It must even be admitted that the climate of Catholic spirituality, perhaps
especially in contemplative . . . life has proved for many to be unhealthy, both
physically and mentally. We carry deep wounds which will prevent us from ever
forgetting it. . . .
Thomas Merton

I think this quote from Merton is so telling and may provide some background to the present situation.

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Merton didn’t do too badly out of it. No bills to pay, fame, travel, a lady friend. In the publicity shots for his books he is young and ascetic, but at the height of his fame he looked like Picasso. He was a “having it all” priest.

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If Merton inspires a vocation, in spite of some possible doubts that can be seen in his words, quoted below, I think, there can be no harm, but his idolaters might find it a productive vocation a hard thing. Given the numbers, their director of vocations (or whatever the officer is called) can pick and choose.

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3:28
Jeepers.
You make it sound like Merton was a ‘monk on the make’ in more ways than one.
Is that why he become a monk?

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The traddies like Bela Lugosi can’t stand Merton.
Heaven help them if Merton is made a saint.

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12.19, 5.39
You are confusing tradition – the living faith of the dead with traditionalism – the dead faith of the living.
Pope Francis, the universal pastor has made it clear to all within and without the church that the faith of the church as reformed by the Second Council of the Vatican is the church’s magisterial tradition.

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Why do you archly say ” the Second Council of the Vatican?” instead of Vatican II, like normal people?

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Vatican II is part of the magisterium but it is not the only part, nor does it exhaust it. On October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII opened the Council in St. Peter’s Basilica with a speech full of hope and promise. Recalling the Church’s previous councils, the Pope said that Vatican II was called to “reaffirm the teaching role of the Church in the world.”

He said “In calling this vast assembly of bishops, the latest and humble successor to the Prince of the Apostles who is addressing you intends to assert once again the Church’s Magisterium, which is unfailing and perdures until the end of time, in order that this Magisterium, taking into account the errors, the requirements, and the opportunities of our time, might he presented in exceptional form to all men throughout the world.”

The problem facing us, the Pope pointed out, “is the same today as it has ever been: Men stand either with the Church or against Her; and rejection results in bitterness, confusion, and war. Councils testify to the union of Christ and His Church and promulgate a universal truth to guide individuals in their domestic and social lives.”

And he was quite clear about what he wanted the council to accomplish: the defense and advancement of truth.

“The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.”

John XXIII said that “in our day there is already sufficient clarity about the teaching of the Faith. The emphasis of the council should thus not be doctrinal but pastoral. It should consider how best to convey the truth of Christ to the modern world.”

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“There have also been concerns about alcohol abuse in some monasteries.”
My God! The holier than thou Cistercians who labelled us as gentlemen with a slight leaning towards religion! Hypocrites!
Pax.

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An interesting comment from Seamus. Do you automatically believe everything you
read or are you fond of ‘a drop’ yourself, Seamus? Just wondering, like! Pax.

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Whoo, Seamus! I asked a question, I didn’t strike you. And, I’m not + Pat.
I simply found your response interesting. Pax.

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7:38: “There have also been concerns about alcohol abuse in some monasteries.”
11:01: “Do you automatically believe everything you read”
11:26, you appear to doubt the concerns??
Pax.

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12:42
Where’s the evidence, Seamus ? Where’s the evidence?
It may or may not be forthcoming from + Pat. Hold your whisht.
Pax.

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11.12
A rather self-serving turn of phrase wherein you parallel the situation of Jesus during his passion with yourself.

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‘labelled us as gentlemen with a slight leaning towards religion’
I didn’t realize you were an English Benedictine.

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LOL Seamus. I believe historically that has been interpreted as referring to the wine of the place, for example beer or cider in many places. How do the constitutions of the Belgian Congregation interpret this precept of the Holy Rule?

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Yes, far too big a fish for the devotional world of forties and fifties monasticism. The abbot also sounds like a nightmare.
However given that he was usually ploughing in the opposite direction from his community, pestering the abbot to be a hermit and was clearly stifled, he really ought to have got out or the community should have kicked him out. Once again we have the situation of a clearly unsuitable monk that the community becomes dependent on economically and for recruitment.
And appointing him novice master was guaranteeing none of his novices would stay.

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Priests and Brothers Convicted of Sexually Abusing Minors in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland includes three Cistercians.
https://www.bishop-accountability.org/Ireland/
” Note: Priests and Brothers Convicted of Sexually Abusing Minors in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is based generally on reports published by reputable news sources in the media, as well as the reports of government inquiries commonly known as the Ferns report, the Ryan report, the Murphy report, the Cloyne report, and the HIA Inquiry report. Unless a source expressly reports that an individual has been convicted of a criminal offense, the reports contained in the database are mere allegations and this database
does not state or imply that individuals facing allegations are guilty of a crime.
Bishop Accountability.org is committed to truth, accuracy, and fairness.”

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I realise that very few people have read VII, especially this blog’s readers, but in ‘Perfectae Caritatis’, which deals with the renewal of religious life, the Council Fathers said:
“The adaptation and renewal of the religious life includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time”.
Monasteries and convents did adapt to the changed conditions of the 60s and 70s, but instead of changing to be like the world they should have changed the world to be more like them.
And that’s why we have tiny, elderly communities (apart from the trad and orthodox houses, of course).

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During his recent gas-guzzling trip to Cyprus (“Pandemic? What pandemic”), Humble met Jesuits on the island. Father Sébastien Freris SJ told the pope about a Jesuit journal that ceased publication due to the lack of members in the community.
The pope said that when he began his novitiate, there were 33,000 Jesuits worldwide. However, now there are “more or less half, and we will continue to diminish in numbers.”
What a blessing for the Church. And where’s the fabled Francis effect?

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People aren’t attracted to contemporary Jesuit life. They are renewing themselves out of existence.

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When the last British Jesuit turns off the lights, who’ll get the £800m the British Province of the SJs have stashed away?

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10.00 a.m.
Anti-Francis U.S. cultural warrior import into Ireland alert.
Try to resolve the resistance of your country’s bishops’ conference to the Pope’s synodal reforms.

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Pat can I ask a genuine question? Why are you so interested and caught up in the internal affairs of a church that you keep telling us you are not part of? I’m not talking about the issues of abuse – that needs to be called out from every rooftop by everybody. But issues about the Latin Mass and the reorganisation of monastaries in Ireland.

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I can’t speak for Bishop Patrick, 10:04, but I can relate something that Sacerdote of eBay once told me. Romanism runs deep into the very marrow of our bones and can’t be shaken off easily, if at all.
I found that very illuminating for myself and made the virulent comments of the reformers more understandable.

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10:04
You asked this genuine question yesterday. Bishop Pat, is a catholic bishop with responsibilities to the wider christian community. Bishop Pat’s ministry includes pastoral
care to a wide cross section of abandoned rejected neglected abused sheep of the RCC. Some sheep smell far too stink for many priests and bishops.
For your consideration: what are the machinations, processes or dynamics occurring
within RCC to create such high numbers of rejected sheep?

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3.25. I certainly didn’t ask any question yesterday. So it must have been someone else.

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Bishop Buckleys blog, as you already know, or will find, is about exposing the corruption, abuse and criminality in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and internationally.
“THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE EVEN IF THE TRUTH IS REVOLTING”

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DUP leader gets the Omicron (or Omnicron as Fr Mullaney calls it), despite getting a booster two weeks ago.

On Twitter he says “When I returned from London on Friday evening I felt a cold coming on but it has been getting worse. PCR test has now come back positive. Close contacts will be notified. Thankfully I received my booster two weeks ago. The importance of being vaccinated cannot be overstated.”

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Maybe Fr Mullaney has a variant all of his own.
Does the Twit make sense, I wonder?
The booster didn’t prevent omicron.

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11.12: Seamus, do you believe every hearsay and innuendo on this blog? Gather yourself together and show some intelligence. You are very fond of quoting scripture. Surely, in this season of goodwill shouldn’t you remember the words of Jesus: ” Judge not and you shall not be judged….be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.” Try living these words.

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Clearly the Cistercians are in deep trouble. The success of religious orders very often is attributed to numbers of religious. This is of course a narrow metric, the Cistercians have been the subject of discussions for a number of years. The activities of Fr Richard Purcell were known due to his attendance at a gay sauna in Dublin, we do not know what happens behind closed doors or monastic walls. The other problems facing the Cistercians I believe, relate to the individual communities. Three Cistercian Monks (in two Cistercian monasteries) in the past 12 months have described to me how they have been bullied within their own monastic communities. This happens behind the monastic walls, I suspect alcohol is a major factor, especially in Roscrea. These communities are suffering, the proposal put forward a number of years ago to merge was rejected. The decisions about what happens these dwindling communities will be made in France and Italy. Any opportunity the Irish Trappists have had to forge their own destiny has been wasted.

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Pat will you ever grow up and catch a grip ffs. You believe any old shit these cranks and loonies feed you.

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Bishop Pat, anymore explosive missives before a Christmas break or will you keep readers in suspense?

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And bullying has certainly occurred at MSB and Caldey in the UK. In both cases the Abbot refused to believe there was a problem and accused the (then ) novices of lying. Not surprisingly they left. In terms of alcohol abuse, the saddest story has already been told earlier on Pat’s blog of Brother Benedict of Caldey and his death

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Not sure if a novice who left at MSB is being bullied. He has a strong personality to get bullied by anyone, or maybe the real reason is that he was obsessed with his novice master? Get rejected, perhaps? I was one of the Nigerian postulants with him at that time. English men are so weak that they play being a victim when they don’t get what they want.

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” Three Cistercian Monks (in two Cistercian monasteries) in the past 12 months have described to me how they have been bullied within their own monastic communities. ”
Does this remark suggest abuse of position, power or authority? I wonder.

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The same Brother Benedict!
Also it would be interesting to note how many Irish Cistercians changed their stability to other monasteries in recent years. There’s a Brother Brian at Our Lady of Guadeloupe in the US who used to be at Moone. He does a lot of workshops from the US which are available on YouTUBE. Several of his workshops are on how to deal with Narcissists in community life. Methinks he speaks from a lot of experience!

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Yes, very telling indeed.
Monastic life, ministry, in fact religion in general, is a magnet to narcissists, and as far as I can tell this has been almost completely unexamined in formation or theology.
The result is the kind of thing we see in front of us. Interestingly the ‘old rite’ crowd discussed yesterday are exactly paralleled by the ‘old calendrists’ in the east who are also about as moral.

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It’s their own business Pat. Purcell is a disgrace, my uncle called to me from his grave, Purcell is now gone, leave them in peace. Once again well done Pat, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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There are two things going on here which have become entwined.
One is the scandal, which is of public concern.
The other is the decisions about the future of the Cistercian communities. While I am sure they have considered the effects of changes on the locals ultimately this is nobody else’s business.

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Monasteries are not there to be kept open to provide guesthouses for middle class dreamers, retired Tablet readers, hippies or freeloaders who want to cosplay being a monk or feel spiritual for a few days while on a “retreat” AKA cheap holiday.

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12:54

Only two entwined things going on? “One is the scandal, which is of public concern.”
Very black and white thinking.
I suggest the scandal raises numerous questions which need to be addressed…

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4:03
Ah, it’s the black and white thinking troll back again.
In the wilder extremes of psychopathy you have difficulty understanding where you end and others begin: hence you wouldn’t understand when things are none of your business.

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4:03 If you read my comment carefully you will see the error in your attempted reply.
12:18

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4:27pm – 4:33pm
You seem to have difficulty understanding where a public matter ends i.e. the scandal and a private matter begins. Point of information; I’m not your supposed black and white troll.

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12.54 agreed. The Cistertian leading administrators however have shown inability in all matters so speculation about this is now natural.

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Can we have more features on the exciting stuff, e.g. GayScott, trolley dolly Wilson as he advances towards priesthood this year, revelations of the identity of the participants in the Big Mick altar sex scandal, the Scottish Daisy chain, news on the whereabouts of JP Lytle aka power bottom, the two former Dames of Glastonbury and details of their new forever home please, ideally with details of the soft furnishing choices?

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1.24 pm anon

No need to attack @ 1.10 pm with a personal insult as in calling this person a ‘sad person’.

If you are not intrigued by anything/anyone then do not participate in the blog.

Anyway back to 1.10 pm, what was you saying about the Glastonbury forever home and soft furnishings.

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What have the so-called “Dames” of Glastonbury done that is worthy of this hounding by certain commenters? Is it just that they dared to avail themselves of “Summorum pontificum” which used to be the law of the Catholic Church?

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For ‘intelligent’ men you have all been brain washed with the biggest fantasy story of all time, the Bible

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5.51: The great atheist speaks again….Bet you’ll have lovely CHRIST-mas decorations all over your house…plenty of reluguoys CHRIST-mas cards.. etc.. Hypocrite….

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Yes indeed @ 5:51, …almost!
For there’s other similarly fantastical religious stories recorded in other religion’s “Holy Books”, so in truth it would be difficult to decide which is the MOST full of fantasy.
To take just one currently in the news.
A few days ago, someone was killed in Armaritsar, the Sikh religion’s holy city. It reportedly took place during a religious service in their Golden Temple when, allegedly, he tried to interfere with, damage or desecrate their Holy Book. The religious congregation apparently murdered him in punishment.
Gee these “Holy Books” containing powerful religious “stories ” are truly wonderfully helpful for humankind

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On the 21st day of December, the winter solstice, we continue our advent reading of the 24 chapters of the Gospel of Luke.
“Plus, it’s a waste of money maintaining 5 old, nearly empty buildings.”
21:06 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
“There have also been concerns about alcohol abuse in some monasteries.”
21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
Pax.

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Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1: 3)
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4–5)
Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.

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9:08,
The Winter Solstice, solstice means “sun standing still” or “grianstad” as Gaeilge, represents a rebirth and renewal of energies.
The evenings have been getting brighter for the last week but the mornings will continue to get darker until December 29.
The earliest sunset was on the 13th of December, so there is a bit of a stretch in the evening already!
Pax.

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Has Seamus Hennessy bought the grounds of Mount St Joseph and build a truck stop and massage parlour yet ?

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December 21
O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
O rising sun
splendour of light eternal and sun of justice;
come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

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