From Cardinal Sarah : "In order to avoid hearing God's music, we have chosen to use all the devices of this world. But heaven's instruments will not stop playing just because some people are deaf."                                                                                              Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!

THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND CORONAVIRUS

We give below the text of a paper by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, as part of our continuing Tuitio Fidei, upon the current Coronavirus crisis and the Most Holy Eucharist. It challenges us, and the Church, at pastoral, liturgical and theological levels.

It is particularly good for us here in England that His Excellency cites, at length, the spiritual care for the 19th Century urban poor by the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement, which tradition has continued to enhance the numbers of English Catholic clergy, and indeed members of our own Order, over the past century and a half.

It is also good in the light of the continuing friendship and mutual hospitality between our beloved Order and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the true successors of the Oxford Movement, working together as we do in the care of the Our Lords the Poor. There is something wonderfully Catholic and international (tautology?), firmly in the tradition of the Venerable Bede whose feast we celebrate today, and of Newman, about a German from the Ukraine, now bishop in Kazakhstan, citing 19th century Anglicanism in the context of eucharistic theology! Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

We are thus deeply grateful to His Excellency for this challenging contribution, which fits well into our series "Reflections on our Redemption" as Paschaltide draws to a close, with the triumphal descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church – "Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire."

The Eucharist, the greatest treasure of the Church, in time of tribulations 
H.E. Bishop Athanasius Schneider 
WE ARE WITNESSING a unique situation: It is for the first time in the history of the Church that the public celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice has been prohibited almost on a worldwide scale. Under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable right of Christians to the public celebration of the Holy Mass has been infringed, disproportionately and unjustifiably. In many countries, and especially in predominantly Catholic countries, this prohibition was enforced in such a systematic and brutal way, that it seemed as though the ruthless historical persecutions of the Church were brought back. An atmosphere of the catacombs was created with priests celebrating Holy Mass in secrecy with a group of the faithful.
The unbelievable fact was that in the midst of this worldwide ban of the public Holy Mass, many bishops even before the government banned public worship, issued decrees by which they not only forbade the public celebration of Holy Mass, but of any other sacrament as well. By such anti-pastoral measures those bishops deprived the sheep from the spiritual food and strength which only the sacraments can provide. Instead of good shepherds those bishops converted into rigid public officials. Those bishops revealed themselves to be imbued with a naturalistic view, to care only for the temporal and bodily life, forgetting their primary and irreplaceable task to care for the eternal and spiritual life. They forgot the warning of Our Lord: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). Bishops who not only did not care but directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments, especially to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance, behaved themselves as fake shepherds, who seek their own advantage...

FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP NERI


Please pray today for our late confrère and chaplain of the Priory, Mgr Antony Conlon, whose 41st anniversary of priestly ordination falls today.
Tu es sacerdos in æternum.

The photograph was taken two years ago on pilgrimage with friends at Shepherd's Field at Beit Sahur outside Bethlehem.
Tu es pastor bonus.

Dr Conlon, lately parish priest of Goring-on-Thames, died on Low Sunday this year.
Requiescat in pace. 

Please pray also for our many Oratorian friends and chaplains, as they celebrate the festival of their Founder and Patron.
Sancte Philippe Neri, ora pro nobis.


(Photo courtesy of James Barton.)

REFLECTIONS ON OUR REDEMPTION 14 - AWAITING THE HOLY GHOST

We are grateful, yet again, to Father Joseph Hamilton for taking the time from his PhD to provide us with a meditation on the events at the close of Eastertide, as, with the Twelve Apostles in the Upper Room, we await the coming of the Holy Ghost.


VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS, REPLE TUORUM CORDA FIDELIUM

PLEASE HELP TO OPEN OUR CHURCHES!

A group of inspired young Catholics, many of them within our Order and its wider family, is organising a wonderful volunteering initiative to assist our Bishops is opening churches safely and quickly.  We have posted about this previously HERE.  They already have 500 volunteers!

They have issued a press release, below. Please support them as much as you can, and pass the word to you families.

Please also write to your bishops to give the support from the laity which they badly need to influence the civil authorities. We have recently posted a letter with many good arguments you may use HERE. Write a short letter, they know the situation, they simply want encouragement.

Remember, the return of the Sacraments is for our benefit as laity.  The Mass is still being offered, the immeasurable graces promised by Christ are still being gained. God has not abandoned us, nor has His Holy Church. It is the comfort of their presence we are lacking, most especially in the confessional, which, as the French Conseil d'Etat states, is our "fundament right" in a free society. Public worship is restored in that great once-Catholic country this weekend, as in the USA and Italy. God helps those who help themselves.

In Britain, which has known centuries of religious persecution, perhaps we still have to try a little harder. Let us ask the Martyrs to assist us!

Press release for immediate release 22/05/20

Young Catholics launch website to help reopen churches, encourage lay volunteers. 
A group of young London based Catholics have today announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at enabling the swift reopening of Catholic Churches across the UK. The website, Open Church Doors, encourages lay Catholics to indicate their willingness to volunteer at their local parish in order to safely enable private prayer and liturgy in Catholic churches once again. Following an initial soft launch, slightly under 500 volunteers have signed up so far.   
The website https://opendoors.church/ forwards the name and email address of each volunteer to their local parish, in order for each parish priest to know that they have sufficient help to, among other things, disinfect surfaces and manage social distancing inside.  
In addition, the website is designed to show national support for the Bishop’s efforts in negotiations with the government in order to reopen churches as soon as possible. The volunteer counter on the website keeps track of the national total in a way individual emails to parishes otherwise would not be able to demonstrate. 
Co-founder and Spokesman Anton’ de Piro said:
‘This initiative is designed first and foremost to be of support and help to bishops and priests in their efforts to get churches open again. Everybody involved in the project is rooting for all of them and praying for them and we hope that the numbers that sign up can be a concrete source of encouragement for all.’ 
Contact:  openchurchdoors@gmail.com
07748 272 908

BLESSED VILMOS APOR, MARTYR OF OUR ORDER


Today is the feast of one of the 20th Century's martyrs of our Order.
Vilmos (William) Apor, was born as a baron into a noble family in 1892, the son of Baron Gábor Apor and Countess Fidelia Pálffy ab Erdöd. He was an Hungarian bishop who earned a special reputation for his service to the poor, especially during the months of hardship that came at the end of the Second World War. He was a Chaplain and Prelate of our Order.
As a child he already felt his vocation to the sacred priesthood, and had asked his mother for a chalice and paten as a Christmas present when a small boy. He excelled in the study of Latin at school. Against his mother’s initial wishes, he was was eventually ordained to the priesthood in 1915, having studied under the Jesuits at Innsbruck, and celebrated his first Mass on 25 August with his mother and sisters in attendance.
He was famous for his commitment to the protection of abused women, the cause which would ultimately lead to his martyrdom. In this he shares with our Patron Saint John the Baptist the defence of the dignity of women and of marriage. Named Bishop of Györ by Pope Pius XII in 1941, he chose as his motto: “Crux firmat mitem, mitigate fortem” - The Cross strengthens the weak and makes the strong gentle. He was insistent in protesting to the Nazis against the persecution of the Hungarian Jews during the occupation, and during the many air raids on the city he opened his home to those whose houses had been destroyed. When Russian troops entered the city in 1945, many women, including Jews and religious, took refuge in the episcopal palace, he himself withdrawing to a small room.
On Good Friday 1945 three drunken Russian soldiers broke into the residence and demanded that the women be taken to their barracks, the women petrified of being raped. Monsignor Apor refused and placed himself in front of the women, to whom he was knows simply as ‘Uncle Vilmos’. One of the Russians shot and wounded him in the abdomen; out of fear at their cowardice they then fled, leaving the women unmolested. Bishop Apor survived in great agony for three days, operations to save him being unsuccessful, and died on 2nd April, Easter Monday, having made his confession and received the last rites. His death was witnessed by István Sándor, a young Salesian priest, himself also to be a martyr and blessed, who was at the time forced to work as a labourer by the Russians. Upon learning of his death, which came as a profound shock and loss to his diocese, the people of the city of Györ hailed him immediately as a great saint.
On 9th April 1947, the great Cardinal Mindszenty wrote to Father Csavossy, the postulator for the cause: “I can assure you that now is the appropriate time to introduce the canonization procedures. I wish it and officially approve of it, and want the necessary steps to be taken to do the same for all priests who lost their lives when protecting women.” 
The theologian and Cardinal-elect Hans Urs von Balthasar was his nephew.
Blessed Vilmos’s tomb in Györ Cathedral, designed by the Hungarian artist Boldogfai Farkas Sándor, is an impressive piece of modern sculpture in red granite.
Blessed Vilmos Apor was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 9th November 1997, who confirmed that he was killed ‘in odium fidei’ (hatred of the Faith.)

THE OPENING OF OUR CHURCHES?

Again we are grateful to RORATE CAELI (here) for this very moving letter from a medical doctor to his bishop, which will resonate with many of us, which expresses clearly what so many of us are thinking at this time of denial of our birthright on spurious grounds. It is part of our duty as members of the Order of Malta to encourage access to the Sacraments in our own home dioceses. Please write to your Bishop. And then, of course, there is the President of the United States, who has mandated the opening of churches HERE. (We are embedding the video at the end of this post, it is of great importance, and no doubt he will be mocked and criticised for it.) Let us pray that our own prevaricating leaders, civil and religious, follow his intrepid example.

The Ascension of Our Lord
May 21st, 2020

Your Excellency,

Last Monday, I received a copy of the diocese’s letter regarding the opening of our churches as we enter the “yellow phase.” After being denied access to the Sacraments for two months, I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely heartbreaking the letter was to read.

What has happened these last two months, to our Church and Sacramental life, is a tragedy, and it is unacceptable. It is a grave mistake, however well-intentioned, to consider the closure of the Church and denial of access to the Sacraments to be a form of “charity.” No one is being forced to attend Mass, forced into a confessional, or forced to adore Our Lord—the very same Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament, as He before whom we will one day stand in judgment. If a person is frightened or vulnerable to illness, they have always had the option to stay home. The implication of your letter, that those of us who wish to attend The Holy Sacrifice during these times are somehow uncharitable, selfish, and inconsiderate of the safety of others, is an unjust characterization.

I am a physician and work almost exclusively with acute illness and injury. I understand better than most people the risks—whether real, imagined, or feared—of the coronavirus, as well as every other infectious disease that I encounter. More importantly, I am the father of five very young children. Knowing full well that I come in contact with COVID, influenza, RSV, C. diff, Syphilis, Zoster, and an untold number of other pestilent entities, should I quarantine myself out of “charity” to my family, for their own safety, to protect them from the dangers of this life? Should I wring my hands, bemoan my circumstances, and give them my love from six feet away through a plexiglass shield? What of my patients? I can’t order them to stay home out of concern that they could be exposed to illness. I can’t repair a child’s head wound through a Zoom meeting or replace a dislocated shoulder via Facebook Livestream.

As a father and husband, I cannot in times of crisis simply lock my doors and sequester myself. I can’t wave from the window and wish my children well while they stand in the elements outside, deprived of food, clothing, and shelter. I cannot deny them my presence while I allow the crisis to pass. I’m obligated to care for them. A bishop is the spiritual father of his diocese, tasked with the welfare of the souls of his flock. Regardless of intentions, every single bishop in our country has deprived his spiritual children from their primary source of nourishment!

It is frankly scandalous that I may go to Home Depot and the grocery store but may not enter a Catholic church. I may receive a bag of fast food at a drive-through window from the hands of a stranger but not Our Lord from the consecrated hands of a priest. I may wash my clothing at a public laundromat but not wash my soul in the confessional.

How long will this go on, and how far will things be allowed to go? What will you do this fall when the virus surges again? What will you do during future flu seasons? Will laymen stand alone when immorality is legislated; when the forces of the world rage against the faithful, against Christ and His Church; when a greater crisis than this one strikes (which is very easy to imagine)? What would the great English Martyrs say? What of the Cristero soldiers? St. Damien of Molokai? What of Pope John Paul II, who famously said “Open wide the doors for Christ!”?

From the beginning, religious institutions and places of worship have been exempt from the government-implemented mitigation measures. Believe me, I checked, many times. Our interdict comes entirely from ecclesiastical authorities, and unless I am mistaken, only you, dear bishop, may lift our restrictions. Please, let us return to Mass. Don’t set limits on church capacity or mandate masks.

Please, I beg you, open wide the doors of our churches, and may they never be closed again.

Sincerely,

(A Catholic Medical Doctor)


UPDATE: The French Republic, notoriously anti-clerical, has opened all churches from this weekend, with sensible precautions similar to other public places. The Conseil d'Etat had ruled that the prohibition of public religious practice was illegal, and a violation of 'fundamental rights'.

Britain, it seems, is to be left alone. Perhaps, after three centuries of the worst religious persecution of any Western country, that should not surprise us. What, as the good doctor says above, would the Martyrs say?

Here is the video of the President of the United States of America:

"WE NEED MORE PRAYER, NOT LESS."

OUR LADY OF ST ALBANS

For those of you who have been following the daily Marian virtual pilgrimage this month (see HERE), and because it is hot and a holiday atmosphere prevails, one could not resists posting this video. But you will have to visit Our Lady today to find out why.


DOS TUA VIRGO HÆC EST, QUARE LEGES O MARIA

REFLECTIONS ON OUR REDEMPTION 13 - THE ASCENSION

We are grateful to our Chaplain, Fr Michael Lang of the London Oratory, for this further paper in our series of meditations to mark the Paschal Season this year. Please remember our Chaplains in your daily prayers.

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD, along with his sitting at the right hand of the Father, is part of the Creed we profess every Sunday, and yet this truth of the faith does not seem to be fully appreciated even by practising Catholics. When we hear of the Paschal Mystery, which is at the heart of divine Revelation, we tend to think of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, and we may not even notice that that the Ascension is missing from this series. And yet, Christ’s redeeming work includes his blessed Passion, his Resurrection from the dead and his glorious Ascension into heaven, as we recall in the Roman Canon of the Mass, after the Consecration.

When our Lord was taking leave of the Apostles, he said to them: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Saint Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, records that then, “as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).

Examples of ascent (and descent) abound in the Bible. When the waters of the flood were pouring down, Noah’s ark of salvation rose and it was lifted up “high above the earth” (Gen 7:17). Moses went up the mountain where God dwells to receive his word (Ex 24:18). In Holy Scripture, mountains are often described as places where we can meet God. Hence the psalmist asks, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” The answer: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps 24:3-4).

On the hilltop of the Mount of Olives, to the East of the city of Jerusalem, Christ was lifted up. This physical ascent, real as it was, is the sign of a still greater mystery. Christ ascended into heavenly glory, to sits at God’s right hand (Ps 110:1,5). This expression “seated at the right hand of” the Father is figurative and not to be taken literally. God is Spirit, and has no body. The expression, which we also use in the Creed, indicates the divine glory and majesty into which the Eternal Son returned, and in which he shares forever.

But the Ascension brings something new: Christ enters into heavenly glory with his human nature. The Incarnation wasn’t just a temporary remedy; it doesn’t end with the Ascension, but Christ remains for ever divine and human. Thus humanity is brought to its true and happy end: communion with God, sharing in the divine life of the Blessed Trinity. Through his Ascension, Christ throws the gates of eternal life wide open, so that we can follow him into heaven. He takes his own human nature into heaven to prepare a place for us.

We now understand why the Saint Luke in his Gospel says that after the Ascension the disciples returned to Jerusalem “with great joy” (24:52). Their joy comes from the fact that what had happened was not a separation or a departure: Christ’s Ascension does not mean his leave of absence from the world (until his Second Coming at the end of time), but rather the new and definitive form of his divine presence in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And so the Ascension leads to Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit on the Apostles. It was to be up to them, the disciples emboldened by the power from above, to make this presence of Christ visible in this world by their witness, preaching and missionary zeal.

According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Ascension is the cause of an increase in all three supernatural virtues. It increases our faith, which is the “conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1), because those who believe in Christ, but do not see him are truly blessed (see Jn 20:29). It increases our hope because our journey towards God advances by virtue of our Head’s entering into his Father’s realm. And it increases our charity because Christ’s ascension is the precondition for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thus the love of God is “poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5) and directs our hearts and minds towards “the things that are above” (Col 3:1).

It is by being witnesses of Christ in our daily lives, through faith, hope and charity, that we, the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church, become ready to follow our Head into his glorious Kingdom.

DOMINUS IN CÆLO, ALLELUIA! PARAVIT SEDEM SUAM, ALLELUIA!

(The picture shows the panel of the Ascension by the German painter, Han Süss von Kulmbach, 1513, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.)

ASCENDIT DEUS IN IUBILATIONE, ALLELUIA!

The Grand Priory of England wishes all our readers all joys of the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.

Members of the Order are not insensitive, perhaps, to the pleasure of worldly honours, so the thousand-year old words of St Eadmer of Canterbury, 1060-1124, secretary, friend and biographer of St Anselm, will surely resonate fruitfully.
"If Mary tasted great joy when her Son lived bodily beside her, and as much joy when this same Son, after destroying death, rose up from Hell; would she have known less joy when her Son, before her eyes, entered the heavens with this earthly flesh that, as she knew well, he had received from her?
"Who has ever suggested such a thing, or who has ever believed that her bliss at this moment could be compared even to all the joys that came before? 
"Good mothers of this world experience great joy when their sons are granted earthly honours; would not this mother - definitely a good mother! - have rejoiced, with ineffable joy, when she saw her only Son penetrating the Heavens with power and domination and, rising up, reaching the throne of God the Father Almighty?”
ET DOMINUS IN VOCE TUBÆ, ALLELUIA!

(The picture shows the Ascension by Gustave Doré, 1979, housed at the Petit Palais in Paris)

FEAST OF BLESSED GERARD MECATTI

Today is the Feast of Blessed Gerard Mecatti, religious of our Order.

Gerard was a friar, as well as a knight of Saint John, and is regarded as one of the greatest of our saints. Born in Villamagna, near Florence, to noble parents who were custodians of the castelloknown as Le Casalline, property of the Nobile Federico Folchi. His parents succumbed to the plague when Gerard was a child, and Don Folchi, a kindly man, attracted by the boy’s obvious piety and honesty, made him steward of his household.

Folchi was a knight of Saint John, and the boy showed evident interest in the life of a ‘servant d’armes’ within our Order.  He joined the Order in readiness to accompany his lord to Syria, in the fight against the wicked pagans. Gerard’s humility and compassion prompted him to give all his property for the benefit of the poor, thus he left his native Italy as a true knight of Saint John, free of all possessions. Don Folchi was soon captured following a battle in Syria, Gerard was with him, and nursed his wounded Master until his death later in Palestine.  Ransomed, Gerard returned briefly to Tuscany before setting off again to the Holy Land, and on the way his ship was attacked by pirates. For his bravery in what proved a fierce battle he was decorated by the Master of the Hospital with the Cross of a Serving Knight, the highest honour of the Order at that time.

Gerard remained in the Holy Land for seven years, leading the ordinary life of a knight of Saint John, assisting pilgrims, and serving the sick and the poor. He became well known for his saintliness and humility, and, eventually, to eschew the life of celebrity which was coming to him, chose to return home to Villamagna. The sea journey home proved eventful, a great storm blew up, near shipwreck was averted only by long and fervent prayers, but, against the worst fears of Gerard and his companions, eventually they made it into the harbour of Livorno, which in English we call Leghorn, a tribute to its importance in the Crusader life of the Mediterranean Sea.

Returned home, not for our Blessed, though, the honourable and decent country life of a retired knight. On the road to Florence he met Saint Francis of Assisi, and, renewed with zeal and love of the poor, received from the Saint’s stigmatized hands the homespun habit of the Third Order, which he wore thereafter over his mantle with the white Cross of Religion of our own Order, beneath them both a hair shirt. In the poorest hovel near his old home, Gerard lived the simple life of a hermit, following the rules and vows of both the Franciscans and our own Order, then still in its strict observance, and dedicated himself to a life of fasting, penance and silent contemplation. Every night, so as not to be seen by the locals, he made a pilgrimage of three miles upon his knees, and his reputation for sanctity so greatly affected the people round about, that a procession following his path (on foot) was continued until the 17thcentury by a fraternity set up in his honour.

Before his death, as an old man, occurred a miracle. The nun who attended him asked if he needed anything. Smiling he replied, “Yes, I should like to eat some cherries.” She thought he must be delirious, as it was Spring, but going out saw a cherry tree laden with ripe fruit "as fine and fresh as in June." For this reason paintings of Blessed Gerard often depict him holding the branch of a cherry tree. 

He died about 1245, some time in May. At that period, canonisation by popular acclamation and local cultus was still usual, and in Italian santo and beato were effectively interchangeable terms. His relics are still at Villamagna, his body was still incorrupt in the 17thcentury, and shown to the people annually after Pentecost. On 18thMarch 1833 Pope Gregory XVI proclaimed him a beatus of the universal Church.

Blessed Gerard Mecatti, pray for us.

UPDATE - PETITION ON OPENING CHURCHES

We have updated the previous post with a PETITION being promoted in UK Dioceses to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, calling for the rapid opening of churches, HERE. Please take a moment to go and sign it, and pass it on widely to your friends and family.

REOPENING OF CHURCHES – RETURN TO THE SACRAMENTS

For all Knights and Dames of the Order, and our Companions and friends, the weeks of inactivity can be frustrating. We retain, however, our duty of Tuitio Fidei, namely the ability to present the teaching of Holy Mother Church and to argue Her doctrines. It is for this reason that, through various organs, the Order provides regular teaching and catechesis to sustain us. We are grateful to our chaplains for this.

At the present time it may feel as if our life of service to the Poor and Sick is on hold, our membership of the Order also in lockdown. But there are things we can be doing. The world is deeply confused about the spiritual dimension of the present crisis, and this is where, as informed and mobilised Catholics, we can get to work.

There are two initiatives currently under way which you are encouraged to engage with, and some excellent explanations of the current situation available online, which allows us to stand back from the hysteria and conspiracy theories which abound, and which we should treat with great care.  One of the most excellent recent papers is given below, courtesy of the blog Rorate Caeli, to which all credit; it is given by priest theologian.

Firstly, then, there is petition, organised by LifeSiteNews, which you are encouraged to sign asking these in public authority to reopen churches for private prayer without further delay HERE. We can all do this, it takes couple of minutes.

UPDATE: Please also sign this separate CitizenGo petition to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, HERE, which is being promoted in several UK Dioceses.

Secondly, an initiative is under way for volunteers to help enable this HERE, organised by "Open Doors Church", promoted by our confrère Anton' de Piro. Those with time are strongly encouraged to help with this wonderful project, of immediate and direct benefit to the Poor. 

Both these actions are hospitaller work, as they bring direct practical spiritual benefit to many people in need. Please engage with them.

Thirdly, we print the text of an anonymous letter by an experienced teacher of moral theology, originally written to his Bishop. It is long, but we have time to read at home, and you would do well to study it all, as this will help us to argue the case for restoration of religious normality, both within the Church and in the wider world. (Original link here)


Letter Reflecting on the Cancellation of Masses and Closure of Churches

+Pax+

8 May 2020

Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces and Queen of All Saints
Your Excellency,

For nearly two months now the Catholic faithful have been deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of Holy Communion, and for many, even of Confession, many priests refusing this ministry. This time has been one of great suffering for all. The unexpectedness of the situation found us all wondering what to do, and those in positions of leadership had to make some very tough and very quick decisions.

Even if, we hope, things may once again be relatively normal in the near future, I am mindful that the situation we found ourselves in is likely to repeat itself. It is for this reason that I would like to share with you a few reflections about the way things have been handled during the COVID-19 crisis.

This letter is not intended to incriminate anyone, nor even to lodge a complaint. It takes its source in my reflections as a theologian, and seeks only to cast upon events the light of truth and justice with the hope that, having learned from the experience, we may in the future not leave the Catholic faithful in a situation where many of them felt effectively abandoned...

LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN


Here is a picture of how, Deo volente, life will be when we are allowed to return to church.  Notice that everyone, particularly the ladies, has troubled to prepare themselves in their best clothes, but that the men have come to give thanks to Our Blessed Lady before going to have their hair cut! Much in this painting shows our correct pious disposition and priorities, in reverence and joy, which we ourselves are firmly encouraged to adopt. Perhaps the coronavirus will have persuaded us to put behind us the invincible sophistication which despises the piety God so loves.

In the meantime, pray to Our Lady in this month of May that the bishops of of our Isles will move quickly to restore full and safe access to the Sacraments, in a spirit of love and kindness, free from some of the childish and mean-spirited restrictions we have seen coming out of some American dioceses recently.

The painting is by Jules Breton, of 1891, entitled the Pardon of Kergoat, a village of Quéméneven in  Cornouaille, Brittany. The cousins of our Cornishmen. It hangs in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper. (click it to enlarge, it will get full-screen.)

It shows the annual canonical pardon; these processions were a common feature of parts of Northern France, and some amazingly still continue to this day. The pardons are the remission of the punishment due to absolved sins, commuting Purgatory, and are supernaturally similar to indulgences, but public community acts of short pilgrimage with this specific purpose. They were often connected to holy wells or fountains (as this one). They represent, in effect, the ultimate charity and kindness of the traditions of the Church, that no soul should suffer for a moment longer than necessary. 

In effect our Holy Father Pope Francis has enacted much the same with the widespread indulgences he proclaimed at the beginning of the Coronavirus. They are still in place – take advantage of them, see our post HERE. Perhaps our Bishops should consider restoring public Pardons.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us

ASK YOUR MP TO VOTE AGAINST EXTREME ABORTION REGULATIONS FOR NI

We post below information published by RIGHT TO LIFE, following requests from several priest friends, This is a very important issue, please act now.
"Last year MPs voted to impose an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland. The Government then developed new regulations to introduce this abortion regime. The regulations came into effect on March 31st, but have not been approved by MPs or peers yet. 
"On Tuesday 12 May, MPs will vote on whether to approve them or not. If they are voted down, this will send a very strong signal to the Government that these extreme regulations should not be imposed on Northern Ireland. 
"They will then be forced to redraft the regulations to be less extreme or bring forward legislation to allow the new Parliament to vote revoke these regulations, giving control back to the Northern Ireland Assembly. 
"Further information on the new extreme abortion regulations introduced by these regulations is available HERE."

UPDATE ON 'A MAY PILGRIMAGE TO MARY'

This follows our post HERE.
With apologises for the delay in posting the pilgrimage destinations for today and the rest of the month, as previously promised, we give below the list of Marian shrines until 31st May.  For your convenience we post again at the end the common pilgrim prayer for each day.

4 May : Our Lady of Westminster (at the North door of the Abbey and in its Pew Chapel, the ancient shrines, and in Westminster Cathedral.)
5 : Our Lady of Grace at the Pillar in S Paul's Cathedral. (in the old church!)
6 : Our Lady at the Oak in Islington.
7 : Our Lady of Willesden.
8 : Our Lady of Muswell.
9 : Our Lady of Oxford.
10 : Our Lady of Grace at Cambridge.
11 : Our Lady of Coventry.
12 : Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich.
13 : Our Lady of Thetford.
14 : Our Lady of Woolpit.
15 : Our Lady of Abingdon.
16 : Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee at Durham.
17 : Our Lady on the Bridge at Wakefield.
18 : Our Lady of the White Friars in Doncaster.
19 : Our Lady at the Pillar, St Edmundsbury.
20 : Our Lady of Evesham.
21 : Our Lady of the Four Candles at S Alban's.
22 : Our Lady of Pity in the Rock at Dover.
23 : Our Lady in the Park, near Liskeard in Cornwall.
24 : Our Lady in the Wood, near Epworth in Lincolnshire.
25 : Our Lady of Winchester.
26 : Our Lady of Windsor.
27 : Our Lady of Peace, at Winfarthing in Norfolk.
28 : Our Lady of Ardenburgh, in the Church of S Nicholas in Yarmouth.
29 : Our Lady at the Oak, in S Martin's, Norwich.
30 : Our Lady on the Red Mount, King's Lynn.
31 : Our Lady of Walsingham.


Two things jump out at one, firstly that, while all the shrines are destroyed, some of the locations still exist as places of worship in the hands of the Protestants. Others are restored as Catholic shrines, and may truly be visited.  This list is of course not exhaustive, dependent as it is upon the 31 days of the month, and as Fr Hunwicke has found out, people will readily suggest others. Those who wish to learn more, are directed to Pietatis Mariana Britannica by Edmund Waterton FSA, (a seminal work, originally published 1879, available in reprint, on Amazon and elsewhere) To this end, for provision of information or anecdote, we shall leave the comments open. Worthy of note too is the mediaeval fondness for Marian shrines on pillars, something the modern Englishman quite wrongly thinks of as southern European.
O most Blessed Virgin Mother of God, conceived without original sin, in mind and spirit I visit thy churches, altars, and shrines, venerated by our forefathers in this land once acknowledged as thy Dowry, but more especially today I wish to place myself before thy Shrine at ... ... ... , humbly seeking to be numbered amongst the pilgrims who have sought thee in this place and to receive through thy prayers those graces which have ever flowed from thy Sanctuaries. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
O Blessed Mother Mary, whose Dowry we inhabit, pray for us!
O Blessed Mother Mary, whose Dowry we inhabit, 
come and reign in our hearts!
O Blessed Mother Mary, this is thy Dowry,
come and reign in our land!

REFLECTIONS ON OUR REDEMPTION 12 - THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

This week's meditation come to us from Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe, of the London Oratory, to who we are, as ever over many years of his generous service to us, very grateful.


In times of great moment in the history of Israel, God’s people were summoned to observe a year of special import, a Jubilee, summoned by the deep, resounding notes of the shofar, but above all, summoned by the Word of God to reaffirm their fidelity to the sacred covenant established by God between Himself and His people. ‘Hear, O Israel.’ The Word of God is not an object; it is the means whereby that Lord who rules His people dwells amongst them. It is the covenant that expresses the reality that is at the heart of our understanding of God’s abiding love for His people.


It is difficult for us to really understand man’s relationship with ‘the other’ before revelation. It was dominated by fear, the deified forces of nature must be kept away; the gods must be propitiated at all cost. Sacrifice was essential, even of one’s first-born.
And then came the momentous change. The God who creates man, chose, out of no other motive than love, to reveal Himself. He enters into a loving relationship with His creatures. He establishes the covenant.


Abraham sets out from all he gives him, security and identity, impelled by the conviction that God has spoken to him, that He has made a promise and given His word: ‘I will give you a land. I will make your descendants as the sands on the shore of the sea.’ He goes out into the desert on a journey, summoned by the Word of God.

To His servant Moses he reveals His name, invites him into living intimacy with Him; even more he opens to him the mystery of His very nature. ‘I am who I am. Tell them I AM has sent you.’ And he delivered His people from bondage. He liberates his chosen ones and the sign of this is the blood of the lamb – freedom, redemption. As the psalmist proclaims: ‘He saved us because He loves us.’  The lamb is slain instead of the first-born of Israel.
The sacrifices continue in the life and rhythm of the temple, but the prophets deepen the concept; the sacrifice most acceptable to God is a pure heart, a heart at peace with God.
We know the fulfilment of this long process. The last of the prophets cries out in ecstatic greeting: ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’
Jesus comes to initiate and seal a new covenant. He does so with His own blood. The first-born becomes the Lamb who is slain. We remember this wonder in the great Eucharistic discourses of St John: ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Unless a man eat my flesh and drink my blood, he can have no life in him.’ He eats the Passover with His disciples, the first Mass with the new Israel. ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ The drama is not complete until the cup of consummation is drained on Calvary, and He cries out in triumph: ‘It is finished; it is accomplished.’
This divine action continues in His mystical body, the Church, where he continues to realise His presence until He comes again. In the Church, His body, the Word of God is not merely proclaimed, it is also made effective through the Holy Spirit who presides over the sacramental life of the New Israel and is the life of the individual believer.
This indissoluble bond between the Word and the Church must never be seen as something which reduces the sacraments which realise this link to mere images. That is the classic Protestant understanding. If we were to limit the presence of the Word only to its manifestation in the scriptures, as indeed the Reformers did, then, in the end, the Word is deprived of its very content. The Word of God is always an action in which Someone is giving Himself to someone – and this giving involves a true revelation of the very nature of Him who is the giver – in this case the Eternal Word of God Himself, made flesh for our sake, living and active in the Church with those who have been incorporated into His life through baptism.
It is the Church, founded on the rock of the apostles, and chief amongst them the rock of Peter, that the Lord, risen and glorious continues to give Himself, is made present and continues to speak to us.
In the Mass, quite naturally, we proceed from the mystery proclaimed to the mystery revealed and made present. The things of this world, bread and wine, are brought to the altar, and then, in a miracle beyond imagining, they are changed into His very self. In Holy Communion He feeds us and transforms us into Himself and we take Him to others to share in His love for all His creatures. We are literally Christ-bearers, accepting His command to love one another. The Mass is our source of union with God and with our fellow men.
One cannot separate the Body of Christ present on our altars from His abiding presence in each and every one of us. This should transform and illumine the whole challenge of love of neighbour. In our fellow Christians, we find realised, the presence of our Saviour whom we adore in the sacramental presence in the sacrifice of the Mass. In the Mass we are summoned by the Word of God to enter more deeply into the mystery of His passion, death and glorious resurrection. We are challenged to grow in love, to renew our fidelity to Christ and His Church in a world which seems so often unaware of His loving presence. And we are commanded to love one another, even as He loved us and continues to offer Himself for us in this, the greatest of His gifts. 
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

A MAY PILGRIMAGE TO MARY!

Following the letter for May to all Catholics from our beloved Holy Father, (see HERE), and in the light of the cancellation of the Lourdes and Chartres pilgrimages, to which members of the Order will thus be unable to go this Summer, and mindful of our inability even to visit Our Lady's altar in our parish churches at a time when we need Our Blessed Mother most, we are very grateful to Father John Hunwicke for the following delightful suggestion for a daily pilgrimage to Her shrines.

This proposal comes from an old Walsingham pilgrim manual from the 1960's, and is based upon Pietatis Mariana Britannica by Edmund Waterton FSA, (a seminal work, originally published 1879, available in reprint, on Amazon and elsewhere), and includes making a Spiritual Pilgrimage to a different English Marian shrine daily for the Month of May. This is something which could be done individually, as a family, or amongst groups of friends on "Zoom", which seems to be taking off as a religious tool.

The Pilgrimage may involve any devotion, such as recitation of a Rosary and Litany, and the prayer proposed below. In you present author's opinion it should involve, if possible, a short walk in the garden, especially where there are roses in bloom, ideally ending before your own statue or painting of Our Lady.
O most Blessed Virgin Mother of God, conceived without original sin, in mind and spirit I visit thy churches, altars, and shrines, venerated by our forefathers in this land once acknowledged as thy Dowry, but more especially today I wish to place myself before thy Shrine at ... ... ... , humbly seeking to be numbered amongst the pilgrims who have sought thee in this place and to receive through thy prayers those graces which have ever flowed from thy Sanctuaries. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Every day there is designated a different Shrine; the first four, starting tomorrow on Friday 1st May, and the next three days, are to, successively, Glastonbury (shrine website HERE), Canterbury (2nd), York (3rd), and Westminster (4th).  Father Hunwicke promises to publish the remaining list for the month on that day.  We shall keep you posted!  Thanks to the Internet, unlike in the 1960's, you can even search their images!

Since most of us have never made a major pilgrimage to many of the great mediaeval shrines of Our Lady in England (a practice much encouraged by our chaplain Mgr Armitage, Rector of Walsingham), it seems that this is a most felicitous fruit of the 'lock-down'!

Several members of the Order will remember Father Hunwicke well, he preached the homily at the High Mass of St John's Day 2017 at Warwick Street (report HERE), which was celebrated by our late friend and Chaplain Dr Antony Conlon, upon whose dear soul may God have mercy through Mary's prayers, as also upon the soul of the late Grand Master. Much learned amusement may be had on a regular pilgrimage to Father Hunwicke's blog HERE!

O Blessed Mother Mary, whose Dowry we inhabit, pray for us!
O Blessed Mother Mary, whose Dowry we inhabit, 
come and reign in our hearts!
O Blessed Mother Mary, this is thy Dowry,
come and reign in our land!

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR MGR ANTONY CONLON

 
The funeral of Monsignor Antony Conlon, Chaplain of the Grand Priory, will be held privately on Tuesday 5th May at 11.30am in his church of Our Lady and Saint John the Evangelist in Goring-on-Thames. He will be buried in the town. While under the current lockdown only his close family are able to attend, his friends are encouraged to pray for him specifically at this time and arrange for a Mass to be offered that morning, if possible, for the repose of his soul.
In lieu of flowers Father Conlon’s sisters have asked that should his friends wish to make a donation, these will be split between the building of the new Parish Room for Goring, currently on site, which has been his last project, and the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Tilehurst which cared for him in his last few days. 
If you wish to make a donation please contact Howard Chadwick Funeral Services in Wallingford (CLICK HERE) where you can donate online or by sending a cheque. It is anticipated that when things return to normal there will be more appropriate opportunities arranged in the Parish to pray for the soul of this our brother and friend. 
The Order will be arranging a Requiem Mass in due course.
Requiescat in pace.

DEATH OF THE GRAND MASTER

IN MEMORIAM
EMINENTISSIMI DOMINI
FRATRIS IACOBI DELLA TORRE 
DEL TEMPIO DI SANGUINETTO
LXXX MAGNI MAGISTRI ORDINIS NOSTRIS
9 Decembris 1944 - 28 Aprilis 2020

Oremus pro anima Magistri nostri Iacobi; in paradisum deducant eum angeli, in suo adventu suscipiant eum martyres, et perducant eum in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Sancta Maria de Phileremo, ora pro eo.
Sancte Ioannes Baptista, ora pro eo.
Beato Gerardo, ora pro eo.