Thomas Duffy, Oblate1896 - 23 March, 1974(Oblate in articulo mortis)Tom Duffy - Nunraw OblateAS the community of Nunraw Abbey were singing the traditional monastic office of Vigils in the church at 4 a.m. on the morning of March 23rd, Thomas McCluskey Duffy slipped quietly and peacefully away to the true fatherland. At his bedside in the Abbey infirmary were Father Abbot and some of the brethren.This quiet, unobtrusive widower, who had done much from his moderate means for the spreading of the Gospel in Archdiocese of St Andrews and in the mission fields, had been a constant visitor at the Abbey for over 20 years.Shortly before he died, at his own urgent request, he had been received into the community as an oblate.Tom Duffy was born in Leith in the year 1896. His child-hood had been far from easy as his parents were both workers on the Leith sea front. But it must have been happy, for his memories of those days remained vivid and treasured: especially his first attempt to serve Mass in the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea.He married Jean Thompson and together this wholly united couple worked their way to a position of trust and influence in the community. They moved around Scotland a good deal, always interested in the work of the Church.He was in Dalkeith when his wife died in 1953. From that time on he gave himself wholly to a quiet life of prayer and good works. Not having being blessed with a family he was free to come to Nunraw. There he worked with the sheep and helped out in the guest house.He still travelled abroad. To Canada. where for a time. he worked in the administration of a gold refining plant, to the Middle East, and North Africa.When Fr. John Gibbons of Dunfermline was killed in a car crash while serving in Nigeria, Tom Duffy gave £5,000 towards the building of a church which was to be a memorial of this zealous priest. An active Catenian, Tom gave as generously as he could towards the training of young priests and the support of missionaries.Meanwhile he came to live more and more at Nunraw and to join in the monks’ life of prayer and withdrawal. Very many of those who came to spend a few days at the monastic guesthouse have good reason to remember his cheerful, urbane and sympathetic presence. In his own quiet way he was able to give spiritual solace to many who were in distress.At his wish his body was taken to St Mary’s, Leith, the church of his childhood, for a farewell service. Bishop Monaghan, Auxiliary Bishop of Edinburgh, presided at the concelebrated Mass on March 26. The Abbot of Nunraw gave the Homily. The coffin was then taken back to Nunraw for burial among the monks whose company he had chosen.Homily by Abbot Donald of NunrawTOM DUFFY - - FUNERAL MASSOUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA, LEITH26 March 1974.We honour God at a moment like this by honouring his work in one of His faithful servants.The last wish and the last act of TOM DUFFY, whose return to the Lord we are celebrating, was that he should be admitted as an Oblate to the Cistercian Community at Nunraw. It was a wish he had long cherished and was the crown of a long association of life, work and prayer helping the monks and which none would deny him. A simple ceremony of acceptance took place on his last evening. When he was congratulated on becoming one of the community, his eyes filled with happiness and he said: “I thank God. - I have always tried to keep close,”.“I HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO KEEP CLOSE.” How these words sum up the life of one so dear to us all! He tried to keep close to everyone and everything which a faithful follower of Christ should love and reverence. He tried to keep close to his family, to his friends, to so many in need, to the Church, to its activities in the parish, on the missions and in its life of prayer.First of all let me express sympathy to those to whom he was closest in life - to his sisters and the many relatives and friends to whom he tried to keep close over the years by his love and friendship, his help and support. In so many ways he was not only a beloved brother, uncle, friend, but because of his remarkable character he was a bond of love renewing the links of a large family, maintaining those ties of family unity and loyalty which are so vulnerable to the pressures of the times we live in. He was truly an instrument of love an instrument of family faithfulness.But of Tom we have to recognise that his family became wider and wider until it was truly CATHOLIC in its interest and in its embrace. He was a member of the Catenians, an Association which stands for INTEGRITY AND CHARITY among business and professional men. And for Tom integrity and charity were things no more easy to come by than success in business, which only came through the hard way of struggle and adverse circumstance.To be born into the Leith of the 1890’s, and into a large family striving to make ends meet from the earnings of what work in the docks offered in those days, was not to be born into comfort and affluence. Even the strong attraction he had for the priesthood and the missions could not be pursued because his support was necessary at home. He began work at a very early age. He had that touch for always leaving things improved, leaving things in a better state than that in which he found them, which was his talent right to the end. And he began to succeed. Beginning in Leith and Edinburgh his business took him as an hotelier to Peebles, Dalkeith and Musselburgh. In each place he won confidence and friendship for his complete integrity and uprightness in business. In a trade where it is difficult not to put a foot wrong, he could be more unwavering than the official upholders of the law, and he came to be admired, and looked up to in a field where principles are not always in high regard. Absolute honesty was reciprocated with the absolute confidence others placed in him.The absolutes of morality are so easily ridiculed! Perhaps the only thing modern society is absolute about is its absolute fear of moral imperatives, its absolute suspicion of total integrity and commitment. ‘Thou shalt; thou shalt not’; how impossible to the confused, uncommitted mind! And yet it in our greatest privilege. The greatest compliment God pays man is to expect him to do his duty. The commandments are not the oppression of man but the highest compliment God gives us. To strive for and to achieve purity and integrity in our lives is what gives dignity and purpose to human life.In Leviticus 19: “The Lord said to Moses: ‘Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel: YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I THE LORD YOUR GOD AM HOLY. Every one of you shall revere your father and mother, and you shall keep the Sabbaths, you shall not steal nor deal falsely with one another, nor lie, you shall not oppress your neighbour nor rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until morning...’ and so on with all its observances of the Law of God. To be holy is another way of trying to keep close, CLOSE TO GOD. And honesty and truth and goodness and justice are the ways we try to keep close to God, try to be holy. If we are impressed with the efforts of our departed friend Tom to keep close to God in his professional life we are not under any illusions as to the secret of his strength. He kept close to God because he kept close to Christ, to the Church and its sacraments, by prayer daily Mass, Rosary, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, reading the Gospels, Imitation of Christ.The modern world is afraid of absolutes and so should we be frightened. The odds are against the upright man, the honest man is at a disadvantage unselfishness and love don’t stand a chance without special help. Only if we keep close to Christ, to His Blessed Mother to the Church and to the Sacraments can we hope to keep close to God and to be holy. If we do that not only shall we succeed in sharing God’s Holiness, in the absolutes of God’s law, but we shall rejoice, as our friend has rejoiced, in the grace of a happy and holy- death. We shall go on our way rejoicing. You remember how Philip, as we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, was given a job to do - he was taken to instruct the Ethiopian and baptise him on the roadway between Jerusalem and Gaza (8-9-39) and Scripture tells us “He went on his way rejoicing.”As it is our prayer for the deceased so it in our hope for each one that having tried to KEEP CLOSE to the Lord we shall do the job of each moment of life He gives and that doing his will now, at the hour of our death we shall go on our way rejoicing.As a man lives so shall he die. Tom lived his life trying to keep close to God by keeping close to his dear ones, to the Church and to those dedicated to the life of Christ. His parting speaks eloquently of the priorities of his lifetime - his death among the brethren of Nunraw. He wished-for return to Our Lady Star of the Sea this morning that he would be united in his farewell to his family and friends.It is not necessary that a man’s last words should have some special or dramatic significance. The love of a lifetime and the simplicity of a Christian death speak eloquently to our hearts and give us hope and confidence of one day sharing in the joy and fullness of union with God, in the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.