“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie

RECENT POSTS

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS

We have, in the last post, already conveyed the Christmas greetings of the Grand Prior, who is recovering well from his illness in Edinburgh, and who holds all those who participate in the life of the Conventual Church, and the readers of this blog, especially in his prayers at this Holy Season.

We could not now do better than to pass on (in common, it seems, with most traditional English language blogs, but it is possible some of our international readership may not have seen it elsewhere) the Holy Father's Christmas broadcast to the people of these islands, given in the BBC's Radio 4 "Thought for the Day."  This is a development which would have been unthinkable only a short while ago, and an extraordinary testimony to the humility and faithfulness with which Pope Benedict exercises his sacred office.

In it he presents the Christmas message in all its theological clarity and joy, and ends, as we must too, with a prayer for the sick and those who suffer, the elderly and the dying - Our Lords the Poor and the Sick. May God grant them the joys of his eternal Salvation, brought by the Child in the manger.


Hodie scietis, quia veniet Dominus,
et salvabit nos: et mane videbitis gloriam eius.

CHRISTMAS MASS TIMES


THURSDAY 23rd DECEMBER

Thursday evening Mass at 6.30pm will exceptionally be cancelled.

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CHRISTMAS EVE

Sung ‘Midnight’ Mass (Missa in Nocte) at 9.00pm,
preceded by Carols and Readings at 8.30pm

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CHRISTMAS DAY

Sung Mass with Carols at 11 am.

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SUNDAY 26th (THE HOLY FAMILY)

Mass at 11 am.

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TUESDAY 28th DECEMBER

Tuesday morning Mass at 11 am is cancelled.

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Thereafter Mass times return to normal.

The Grand Prior and the Chaplain of the Hospital wish you all, and all your families, a very happy and blessed Christmas.

REPORT - ARNOLD HOUSE SCHOOL CONCERT AND CAROL SERVICE

A rather belated report on the wonderful concert given in November given by the boys of Arnold House School. To a full church the the boys performed a mix of modern and traditional choral music. We are very grateful to them indeed for their skills and efforts, and to the audience who were so generous. The concert raised over £600 for St John's Hospice.  It is very good to be able to renew the historic links between Arnold House and the Hospital.

This month the Annual Order of Malta Carol Service was a great success, with splendid music provided by Cantores Missae under the Direction of Mr Charles Finch, and the congregation of nearly 90 people again provided a very generous collection for the aid of the Hospice.

Please support the future concerts, which offer many musical delights and the opportunity to support the Hospice, programmes of which are provided here.  The next concert is given by Hexachord - "Glories of the Eton Choirbook"on 26th January.

ADVENT RECOLLECTION ON OUR LADY


On the Feast of Our Lady of Liesse, Thursday 2nd December, Father John Hemer, a Mill Hill Missionary who is Scripture Professor at Allen Hall, delivered the following very inspiring mediation on the role of Our Lady in Salvation.  We are deeply grateful to Father Hemer, and commend this text to all readers of this site as part of their Advent Preparation. It merits frequent revisiting. (Click on the "Read More" link at the end for the full text.)

MARY IN ADVENT

Mary in the New Testament

In addition to Mary, St Matthew includes four women in his Gospel narrative. This is most unusual, indeed unique in a Biblical genealogy.  Each of them has these two things in common with Mary: a) that there is something strange or irregular about their union with their partners, which may have been scandalous to outsiders and b) they showed initiative and thus played an important role in God's plan.

Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah; she obtained children from him by deception, pretending to be a harlot. Rahab had been a harlot, but it was her initiative that enabled Israel to enter the Promised and. Ruth was a pagan, a Moabitess and she brought about her union with Boaz by her own initiative which was scandalous in itself (although she displayed rare love and devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi).  Without her, the Davidic line might never have come into being. Uriah's wife, (Bathsheba) had an adulterous union with David, but through her intervention, Solomon, their son, succeeded David. All this shows how God uses the most unusual, indeed scandalous circumstances and intervenes on behalf of the Messiah to bring about his plan. Each one of these women has had the courage to step outside of the accepted ways and standards of her own society in order to continue God’s line – (although they were not always conscious that this is what they were doing). Here is a hint of what we will meet later in the Gospel. If people are to do God’s will, if people are really going to live out their following of Christ, they will have to do similar unexpected or unusual things.

BBC PROGRAMMES ON CATHOLIC WOMEN TODAY

The British Broadcasting Corporation, about the impartiality of whose views on the Catholic Church we are all free to hold our own opinion, is preparing three one-hour-long television programmes on "the experience of being a Roman Catholic woman in Britain today."

The Corporation is seeking women of all stations in life to volunteer to have 'off the record' conversations with an interviewer about their lives as Catholics.

The invitation continues: "Guilt, sex, male priesthood, moral teaching: do you recognise these media preoccupations as forces in your lives?"  You get the idea...  It is important that loyal and active Catholics get involved to give a balanced perspective to this research.

Female readers of this blog, and particularly dames of the Order and Companions, who may be regarded as sound and committed, are warmly encouraged to get involved – Catholic apologetics are an important part of our lives in the public realm, as the Holy Father keeps reminding us.  For us in the Order they are part of the duty of Tuitio Fidei, to complement our hospitaller work of Obsequium Pauperum.

The link is HERE.  It looks quite easy to sign up.

Dos Tua, Virgo pia, haec est.

REMINDER - CAROL SERVICE - 15th DECEMBER

The Annual Advent Carol Service in aid of Saint John's Hospice, takes place this Wednesday, 15th December at 6.30pm.

It will be followed by mulled wine and mince pies in Fortescue House, to which all are welcome.

SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Today is the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady.

A Mass will be sung in the Conventual Church at 6.30 pm.

O MARIA sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis, qui confugimus ad te!

REPORT - ANNUAL REQUIEM OF THE ORDER OF MALTA

Last Thursday the Requiem for deceased members of the Grand Priory and British Association took place in the Conventual Church.  A High Mass of Requiem in the Extraordinary Form, celebrated by the Chaplain of the Grand Priory, Monsignor Antony Conlon, assisted by Fr Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory and Fr David Irwin, was well attended by Members of the Order, Companions, and aspirants who had attended the Formation day.



Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

COLONEL PACE FUNERAL

The Funeral Mass for Colonel Pace will be held at Saint James's Spanish Place, George Street, London W1U 3QY, at 10 am on Friday 3rd December. See map here. It will be followed by a Reception, and private cremation at Golders Green.

The body will be received into St James's at 5 pm on Thursday, followed by sung Vespers of the Dead.

A Mass, for the Feast of Our Lady of Liesse which occurs this day, will be sung in the Conventual Church for the Colonel's intention at 6.30pm, by Father John Hemer MHM.  This forms part of the Advent Recollection previously announced.  This Marian devotion, whose shrine is in Grand Harbour in Valetta, was always very close to the Colonel's heart from his youth.  See further information here.

COLONEL THOMAS PACE RIP

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Please pray for the repose of the Soul of

Colonel THOMAS ANASTASI PACE 
OBE MD RAMC

Knight of Magistral Grace

onetime Sacristan of the Conventual Church


who died on 22nd November 2010
aged 96 years


REQUIESCAT IN PACE

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Colonel 'Tommy' Pace was immensely proud to have been invested a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in June 2009 and described himself as the newest, oldest member. Born in Malta, where he studied medicine before the War, he was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and served with distinction during the War in India and in Burma where he won a military OBE. After the war, he served in Singapore, Kenya and Cyprus before going to Paris as Chief of NATO Medical Services. His last posting was to Brussels where he served at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) as chairman of the NATO Emergency War Surgery Handbook Revision Committee.  

After retirement he moved to St John's Wood, to be close to Lord's Cricket Ground, and was a life-long member of the MCC. He was also a keen follower of rugby. He had been Sacristan of the Conventual Church for thirty years and continued regularly to attend Mass there until a few weeks before his death. The last few months of his life were a valiant struggle with advancing cancer, during which time he was an example to all his friends of patient forbearance and piety.  His wife predeceased him by about fifteen years.  He is survived by his four nieces.

The funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

TUITIO FIDEI

Tuitio Fidei, one of the historical charisms of the Order of Malta, is a duty which is frequently misunderstood. People often say "but how can I teach the Faith, I don't know enough?" Notwithstanding our duty as Catholics to inform ourselves about the Faith so that we can offer arguments when challenged (apologetics), Tuitio Fidei does not, necessarily or even primarily, mean active proselytizing (though sometimes it can), but for most of us may be done daily in living our lives as God would wish.  We are watched by others all the time, whatever we do, and simply doing it well is a powerful tool for evangelisation.

In this short film of prisoners in Dachau we see the most moving example of Tuitio Fidei in the piety and silent devotion of these men, in the very jaws of death.  

We are told simply that these men are all priests, survivors in the Dachau camp. It is not known what exactly is happening, seemingly some form of devotion after Mass, but this lack of detail adds to its mystical quality. The sight of these men, intent upon their devotions, making the sign of the Cross in unison and with great care, is incredibly beautiful. This is how to pray.  The film was made days after the liberation of Germany.

Let us pray that we too may learn to offer our own prayer with this attention: this is Tuitio Fidei.

All holy priests, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

Film courtesy of Gloria TV (and hat-tip to Fr Blake of Brighton).

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19TH - FEAST ALL SAINTS OF THE ORDER OF MALTA

TODAY is the Feast of All Saints of the Order, the celebration of those countless unnamed men and women through 900 years, the predecessors of present-day Knights and Dames, who have lived heroic christian lives as soldiers, hospitallers and religious, yet whose virtues are known to God alone.

Members of the Order are bound to honour them and to invoke their intercession, which is a powerful aid for the work of the Order today. For Companions and friends too, many graces may be brought by their intercession as we honour them in our prayers and in our service of the Order.

We pray that we too might one day be numbered among them - the true goal of our Christian soul.

A Mass will be celebrated (in the New Rite of Mass) at 6.30pm, by our Chaplain, Fr David Irwin at the Conventual Church of St John of Jerusalem.

The Collect of the Mass
O God, the source of all holiness
and of varying forms of it that endow your Church
and build up the Body of Christ,
give us the grace to follow the saints of our Order
in living for you alone,
by meditating on your law and by perfect self-denial
so that we may come with them to the bliss of eternal life. Amen.

REMINDER - WEDNESDAY 24th NOVEMBER - NEXT CONCERT!


The next concert in the Saint John's Concerts series, to be sung by the boys of Arnold House School Chapel Choir, under the direction of their Choirmaster Paul Swinden, will take place on Wednesday next, 24th November, at 7.30pm in the Conventual Church.

We are very please to renew our relationship with this local prep school, with which the Hospital has had very long association over many decades.

The programme will be as follows:
Richard Dering  -  O Bone Jesu
George Dyson  -  I Will Worship
Geoffrey Burgon  -  Nunc Dimittis
Ralph Vaughan-Williams  -  Antiphon from 5 Mystical Songs
Gabriel Faure  -  In Paradisum from Requiem
William S. Harris -  Behold, now, praise the Lord
Cecil Armstrong Gibbs  -  Beggar’s Song
Ronald Corp  -  God be in my Head
The choral works will be interspersed with two J S Bach organ solos played by Paul Swinden and Colin Stuart.
As with the other concerts, a donation will be requested at the door for the support of Saint John's Hospice.  We do encourage all our friends to support this most worthy cause.  Refreshments of wine, soft drink and snacks will be served in the interval.

Information on the Concert series may be found here, or in the link in the sidebar.

POPE'S VIGIL OF PRAYER FOR NASCENT HUMAN LIFE

Benedict XVI is calling on all Catholics to join in a Vigil for All Nascent Human Life, to be celebrated in local parishes and dioceses November 27th 2010.

After praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that the event is "a joint initiative with the local Churches throughout the world and I have recommended it to be observed in parishes, religious communities, associations and movements too."

"The time of preparation for Holy Christmas is a propitious moment to invoke divine protection for every human being called into existence, and also for a thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parent," he added.

The Hoy Father will celebrate the vigil in St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Family collaborated in creating an outline for the vigil, and the U.S. bishops' conference is developing resources for the parishes.  (source: ZENIT)

VIGIL IN THE CONVENTUAL CHURCH
SATURDAY 27th NOVEMBER AT 3.45pm

The Grand Prior of England is organising a Vigil in the Conventual Church at 3.45pm on Saturday 27th.  Following the format for the Vigil as laid down by the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Vigil will take the form of Sung Vespers of Our Lady, followed by prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, readings, meditation and recitation of the Holy Rosary, special prayers and Benediction.

For those members on the Order, and Companions and friends not able to be present, and who wish to observe this vigil of prayer, the Grand Prior has proposed three alternative ways to participate with the Order in this event:

OPTION 2: FIVE DECADES OF THE ROSARY
At a convenient time as close to 3.45pm on Saturday afternoon, recite the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The Gospel Meditations are given in the document available here, as are the special prayers
issued at the Pope’s request by the Congregation for Divine Worship, which you should also say.

OPTION 3: FOLLOW THE POPE'S VIGIL ON VATICAN RADIO
Pray the Vigil with the Holy Father at Vespers and Exposition. The details we have are: Satellite transmits at: EUTELSAT HOT BIRD II-
13° East - DIGITAL DVB/Frequency 12.380 MHz - Vertical Position - FEC 3/4 -
Symbol rate 27.500 MSYMBOL. Transmission starts about 5.50pm, the Vigil starts at
6.00pm.

OPTION 4: TAKE PART IN YOUR DIOCESAN OR PARISH VIGIL
The Pope has asked all Bishops to arrange Vigils in their Cathedrals on this day. The only one we have been able to find is for Westminster Cathedral, where Archbishop Nichols is to preside; the time is yet to be announced. You should check with your own Diocese.

If you take any of these three options please let the Grand Prior know by e-mail to: churchcommissionerATyahoo.com (sorry about this, it is to avoid spam, you have to type this out substituting the @ symbol). The Grand Prior proposes to offer all our prayers of the Vigil to the Holy Father in the form of a Spiritual Bouquet. You may also send a postcard to: Grand Prior, SMOM, 58 Grove End Road, London NW8 9NH

The Mediation of the Rosary and special Vigil Supplications may be downloaded here. It is also available in the sidebar "downloads" box.


Further official information is available here, courtesy of the US Bishops Conference which has been tasked with coordinating the English language resources for this day.

TUESDAY 16th NOVEMBER - ANNUAL FOUNDATION MASS FOR THE HOSPITAL

On Tuesday 16th November, the Hospital's Patronal Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, which falls on Wednesday, will be anticipated at the 11am Mass, in a Mass for the Hospital's patients, staff and volunteers and day patients of the Hospice, celebrated by the Hospital Chaplain.

During Mass the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick will be celebrated. The Sisters of Mercy will be present, as one of their number, Sister Mairead (Sister Mary Oliver) is critically ill. Please pray especially for her. Sister Mellitus, the last Sister of Mercy to hold the post of Matron, will hopefully be present.  It is a great joy as ever to have the Sisters back on this day in the Hospital which they nursed from its foundation.

All are welcome at this Mass, especially those who are involved in any way in the life of the Hospital.

Please support this Feast in your prayers, and particularly pray for those who are dying in the Hospice.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.

LIBEL LAW REFORM

As this is a subject which has a very direct bearing upon the correct promotion of the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, one of the historical roles of the Order of Malta, and upon bioethical issues pertinent to the life and work of a Catholic hospital, it seems appropriate to bring to your attention this petition calling for a reform of Britain's libel laws.

As we have read recently, in relation to subjects as varied as abortion, homosexual marriage, Catholic education and climate change, writers, both religious commentators and scientists, may be successfully threatened with libel claims by those who disagree with them, and who promote contrary arguments, if they are even mildy critical in their reviews and commentaries.  Often this discourages those who seek to uphold the truth, as they are forced to be silent to avoid the risk of hugely expensive legal battles.

'Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere.' Recently a faithful priest was forced to close his blog through threats of legal action, for commenting critically upon the published writings of another priest. Specialist doctors are also particularly vulnerable from those with vested interest in the medical industry.

A petition for Libel Law Reform has been begun here, which readers may wish to consider signing. You will see that those behind this report are a very mixed bag, with many of whom we would have little else in common. This is an indication of the serious concern which many in our society now feel for the maintenance of free speech.

Various commentaries may be read in the following places. You are encouraged to inform yourself before signing.  Fr Tim Finigan, James Preece, DolphinariumLibel Reform Campaign.

THOMAS O'SULLIVAN RIP

Please pray for the soul of Thomas O'Sullivan, who died last week in St John's Hospice, fortified by the Rites of Holy Mother Church, and whose funeral took place in the Conventual Church today.

Pray also for his family, with whom he was reunited at his funeral after a separation of twenty years.

Requiescat in pace.

November 2nd - Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed

On this day, as yesterday on All Saints we celebrated the virtues of all those unnamed saints, our mothers fathers, brothers, sisters, friends who have entered Paradise, and invoked their prayers for us, so today we join our prayers with theirs for the countless other souls who still undergo purification in Purgatory.

Grant they they too may soon come to the fullness of the Eternal Banquet.

NOTICE OF PLENARY INDULGENCE
On any day this week, in a visit to a cemetery or Church, with prayers for the Dead and for the Holy Father's intention, and under the usual conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, a Plenary Indulgence applicable to the departed souls may be gained.  This indulgence may be gained every day from the 1st to the 8th November, one Confession sufficing for the week.  This means that if you are in a state of grace you could release eight souls from Purgatory, a most laudable act of Charity.  Pray that one day someone will do this for you.

MEDITATION: DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA

This day, this day of wrath
shall consume the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.

What trembling there will be
When the judge shall come
to weigh everything strictly!

The trumpet, scattering its awful sound
Across the graves of all lands
Summons all before the throne.
Death and nature shall be stunned

When mankind arises

To render account before the judge.

The written book shall be brought

In which all is contained

Whereby the world shall be judged
When the judge takes his seat

all that is hidden shall appear

Nothing will remain unavenged.

What shall I, a wretch, say then?

To which protector shall I appeal

When even the just man is barely safe?

King of awful majesty

You freely save those worthy of salvation

Save me, found of pity.

Remember, gentle Jesus
that I am the reason for your time on earth,
do not cast me out on that day
Seeking me, you sank down wearily,
you saved me by enduring the cross,

such travail must not be in vain.

Righteous judge of vengeance,

award the gift of forgiveness
before the day of reckoning.

I groan as one guilty,

my face blushes with guilt;
spare the suppliant, O God.

Thou who did'st absolve Mary [Magdalen]
and hear the prayer of the thief
hast given me hope, too.

My prayers are not worthy,

but Thou, O good one, show mercy,

lest I burn in everlasting fire,

Give me a place among the sheep,

and separate me from the goats,

placing me on Thy right hand.

When the damned are confounded

and consigned to keen flames,
call me with the blessed.

I pray, suppliant and kneeling,

a heart as contrite as ashes;

take Thou my ending into Thy care.

That day is one of weeping,

on which shall rise again from the ashes

the guilty man, to be judged.

Therefore spare this one, O God,
merciful Lord Jesus:

Give them rest. Amen.

LECTURE ON RELIGION AND DIPLOMACY

In the light of its considerable relevance to the life and work of the Order, which shares with the Holy See its diplomatic character, and its mission of the promotion of religious values and of humanitarian concerns, it seems that it may be of interest to reproduce the lecture given on the 14th October in St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Mr Francis Campbell.

The talk covers not only consideration of the diplomatic processes, but also the role of religion in modern diplomacy, international cooperation on health, development, climate change and disarmament.  Many of these are areas in which members of the Order of Malta work on a daily basis.


UK - HOLY SEE RELATIONS

"The Crown's Oldest Diplomatic Relationship Is With the Papacy"

The UK, the Holy See, and Diplomacy

It is a real honour to be here tonight to deliver the Annual Cardinal Hume Memorial Lecture. It is an honour in so many ways because I know how special the memory of Cardinal Hume is held in this his home city of Newcastle where he was born in 1923. But it is also personally special because the Cardinal is buried in what is now my home parish of Westminster Cathedral. I am grateful to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St. Mary's Cathedral, the organisers of tonight's lecture - Fr Peter, and Fr. Marc, and Bishop Seamus for the kind invitation to speak to you this evening.

It is also apt that we are speaking tonight to the theme of the UK, the Holy See and diplomacy because we are doing so less than one month after Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the United Kingdom. It was the second visit of a Pope to the UK - the first being the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982 - when Cardinal Hume was serving as the Archbishop of Westminster. But this most recent visit was the first official visit of a Pope to the country. The tenure of Cardinal Hume's leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales did so much to prepare the way for the first official visit of a Pope to these shores. It is fitting tonight that we can look afresh on the country's oldest diplomatic relationship - that between the Crown and the Holy See - and to do so from here in Newcastle - the birth place of one who did so much to enhance that relationship in the 20th century.

Tonight's theme speaks to a relationship that has over the centuries seen many significant events - some with a shared perspective and others with a marked degree of difference. But our focus tonight is the diplomatic relationship - in particular the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See. Tonight I would like to do three things. First, I would like to say something about diplomacy - an art that is often misunderstood. Second, I would like to say something about how foreign policy deals with religion. Finally, we will explore the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See - the Crown's oldest diplomatic relationship in the world.

Diplomacy

Diplomacy is often a word that is much misunderstood. When one mentions diplomacy many negative images can spring to mind. Perhaps none more so than Sir Henry Wotton's description of an ambassador as "a man of virtue sent abroad to lie for his country." Satow's guide to Diplomatic practice captures diplomacy as "the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, and between governments and international institutions; or, more briefly, the conduct of business between states by peaceful means." [1]

REPORT - MUSICA CONTEXTA CONCERT - 'O INVIOLATA'

Last Wednesday the second Saint John's Concert 2010/11 was given by the choir Musica Contexta.

The concert concentrated on Marian anthems from the Golden Age of the Sistine Chapel, the musical crucible of Renaissance Europe.  The choir sang from one large copy of the score. To a modern man these manuscripts look unusual; instead of having the parts vertically aligned, so singers can see their position in the score, the parts are arranged one after the other. Experimenting with this format this evening the choir might seem to be guilty not just of reinventing the wheel, but of retrialing a square one. Yet every early musician knows that 'progress' is merely a chimera: that things in the past were done differently for good reason, and this will only become apparent when they try to recreate the conditions in which the music was first performed.  This was the spirit of this performance.

The programme was as follows:
Salve regina (chant)
Ave maris Stella, Ave Regina (Guillaune du Fay, 1397-1474)
Alma Redemptoris Mater (chant)
Alma Redemptoris Master, Ave regina Caelorum ( Josquin des Prez, c.1450-15221)
Benedicta es (Josquin des Prez)
Virgo Prudentissima (Elzear Carpentras, 1470-1548)
Regina Caeli (Andreas de Silva, c.1475-c.1530)
Inviolata (Costanzo Festa, c.1495-1545)
Regina Caeli (Jacques Arcadelt, 1507-1568)
Sancta Maria (Cristobal de Morales, c.1500-1553)
Virgo Prudentissima (Giovanni de Palestrina, c.1525-1594)
The video below gives some glorious highlights from the concert.



Music Contexta's next CD for Chandos, "Roma Sancta" featuring music by Arcadelt, de Silva and Palestrina, is due for release in February 2011.

The next Musica Contexta concert is on 27th January 2011.

Next month's concert is by the boys' choir of Arnold House School.  See link in the sidebar for details.

ADVANCE NOTICE - RECOLLECTION AND ALL SOULS

This coming Saturday, 30th October, as part of the Grand Priory Day of Recollection, there will be a Sung Mass of Our Lady's Saturday at 12 noon.  The celebrant will be Canon William Hudson of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The day will begin with Lauds at 10 am, and in the afternoon there will be Vespers and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, finishing around 5 pm.  All are welcome.

Tuesday next, 2nd November, is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, and a Requiem for the Holy Souls, with Absolutions, will be sung at 6.30 pm.  The celebrant will be Dr Michael Cullinan.

CARDINAL PATRON ELEVATED TO SACRED COLLEGE

Archbishop Sardi leading the Order's procession of the Sanctissimum in Loreto last year.
From the Vatican News Service yesterday:
At the end of the General Audience today, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has announced a Consistory for  20th November next, in which he will proceed to the nomination of twenty-four new Cardinals. These are the words of the Pope: 
"And now with joy I announce that next November 20th I will hold a Consistory in which I will name new Members of the College of Cardinals. The Cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of the Apostle Peter in the implementation of his principal, fundamental, perpetual and visible mission of the unity of the faith and communion within the Church (cf Lumen gentium, n. 18)."
Among the names of the new 'Porporati' is Monsignor Paolo Sardi, titular Archbishop of Suturium, Vice-Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. His Eminence now takes the full title of Cardinal Patron of the Order, or Cardinalis Patronus, a post last held, for 16 years, by Cardinal Pio Laghi.

We offer Cardinal Sardi our congratulations, best wishes and the assurance of our prayers, as we do to the other 23 prelates raised to the rank of the sacred purple.

OCTOBER 21 - BLESSED CHARLES OF AUSTRIA

Blessed Charles of Austria was beatified on 3 October 2004 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

Member of the Order of Malta with the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, the emperor Charles of Habsburg was a descendant of the emperor Charles V who in 1530 had granted the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino in sovereign fief to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Charles of Austria was born August 17, 1887, in the Castle of Persenbeug in the region of Lower Austria. His parents were the Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony, daughter of the last King of Saxony. Emperor Francis Joseph I was Charles' Great Uncle.
Charles was given an expressly Catholic education and the prayers of a group of persons accompanied him from childhood, since a stigmatic nun prophesied that he would undergo great suffering and attacks would be made against him. That is how the “League of prayer of the Emperor Charles for the peace of the peoples” originated after his death. In 1963 it became a prayer community ecclesiastically recognized.
A deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to grow in Charles. He turned to prayer before making any important decisions.
On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma. The couple was blessed with eight children during the ten years of their happy and exemplary married life. Charles still declared to Zita on his deathbed: “I'll love you forever.”
Charles became heir to the throne of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand.
World War I was underway and with the death of the Emperor Francis Joseph, on November 21, 1916 Charles became Emperor of Austria. On December 30th he was crowned apostolic King of Hungary.
Charles envisaged this office also as a way to follow Christ: in the love and care of the peoples entrusted to him, and in dedicating his life to them.
He placed the most sacred duty of a king - a commitment to peace - at the centre of his preoccupations during the course of the terrible war. He was the only one among political leaders to support Benedict XV's peace efforts.
As far as domestic politics are concerned, despite the extremely difficult times he initiated wide and exemplary social legislation, inspired by social Christian teaching.
Thanks to his conduct, the transition to a new order at the end of the conflict was made possible without a civil war. He was however banished from his country.
The Pope feared the rise of communist power in central Europe, and expressed the wish that Charles re‑establish the authority of his government in Hungary. But two attempts failed, since above all Charles wished to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.
Charles was exiled to the island of Madeira. Since he considered his duty as a mandate from God, he could not abdicate his office.
Reduced to poverty, he lived with his family in a very humid house. He then fell fatally ill and accepted this as a sacrifice for the peace and unity of his peoples.
Charles endured his suffering without complaining. He forgave all those who conspired against him and died April 1st 1922 with his eyes turned toward the Holy Sacrament. On his deathbed he repeated the motto of his life: “I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way”.
(From the Beatification address by Pope John Paul II)

PRAYER
God our Father, through the gift of Blessed Emperor Charles You have given us an example to follow. In extremely difficult times he performed his burdensome tasks without ever losing his faith. He always followed Your Son, the true King. He led a humble life, sincerely loving the poor and giving himself heart and soul to the search for peace. Even when his life was in danger he trusted in You, putting his life in Your hands. Almighty and Merciful God, by the intercession of Blessed Emperor Charles, we pray that You may give us his unconditional faith to support us in our most difficult situations, and the courage to always follow the example of Your only Son. Open our hearts to the poor, and strengthen our commitment for peace within our families and among all peoples. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

CONCERT - NEXT WEDNESDAY 27th OCT - 'INVIOLATA'

Musica Contexta performs
Inviolata
A programme of Marian music from the Papal chapel – the musical crucible of Renaissance Europe – featuring sacred works by Dufay, Josquin, Morales, Arcadelt & Palestrina.

Wednesday 27th October at 7.30 pm

in the CONVENTUAL CHURCH OF
SAINT JOHN OF JERUSALEM

as part of the series of SainJohns Concerts
in aid of SAINT JOHNS HOSPICE

Entrance by programme at the door, for which a donation of £15 per person is requested.

13th OCTOBER - BLESSED GERARD, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER

Blessed Gerard nursing in the Sacred Infirmary
It is not certain whether Gerard came from present-day Italy or France. He went to Jerusalem and there, towards the end of the eleventh century, he established a hospice for pilgrims and the sick next to the Church of St. John. To maintain this work he founded a religious community, which he governed in accordance with the Rule of St. Augustine. On 15 February 1113, Pope Paschal II solemnly approved the new Order, which had been established even before the first Crusaders went to Palestine to recover the Holy Sepulchre. The Pope's Letters Apostolic, Piae postulatio voluntatis, were addressed to 'Gerard, Founder and Warden of the hospice at Jerusalem and to his lawful successors.' Gerard died at Jerusalem in 1120. This is also the day on which, in 1993, the Grand Master decreed the Restoration of the Grand Priory of England.

COLLECT OF THE MASS
O God, who exalted blessed Gerard because of his care for the poor and the sick, and through him founded in Jerusalem the Order of St. John the Baptist, give us the grace of seeing, as he did, the image of your Son in our brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

11th OCTOBER - BLESSED JOHN XXIII

Blessed John XXIII by the late Arthur Fleischmann
He was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy, on 25 November 1881.

In 1915 he was drafted as a sergeant in the Italian military medical corps and became a chaplain to the wounded. In 1925 Pius XI made him Bishop and Apostolic Visitor in Bulgaria and he took as his Episcopal motto: Obedientia et Pax.

In 1953 he was created Cardinal and became Patriarch of Venice. In 1956 he was invested as Bailiff in the Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. At the death of Pius XII he was elected Pope on 28 October 1958. His was an authentic image of the "Good Shepherd": meek and gentle, enterprising and courageous, simple and active.

On 24 June 1961, the patronal feast of our Order, he approved the current Constitution of our Order. In 1962 he opened the Second Vatican Council. He died on the evening of 3 June 1963.

COLLECT
Blessed John, you served the sick, wounded and dying
in military hospitaller duties,
caring for their suffering bodies and souls.
Pray for the multitude in the world today
suffering the ravages of wars and conflicts. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

AN HISTORIC MOMENT


A regular worshipper in the Conventual Church has sent us this photograph, which, despite its outward similarity to a tourist snap, is in fact the record of an historic moment in the life our our Country, Our Church and our Order.

The photograph was taken from Lambeth Bridge shortly after the Holy Father had passed across, cheered by our photographer, on Friday 17th September 2010, on his way from visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace to the Palace of Westminster, to address Parliament and the Nation.

At the very time this picture was taken, the Holy Father was speaking in Westminster Hall. He was standing on the spot on which St Thomas More was condemned to martyrdom in 1535, the first time since the Reformation that the Members of both houses of Parliament have been addressed as a formal act of State by a Bishop of the Catholic Church. The first time ever by the Roman Pontiff. 

Present near the front of the Hall sat The Grand Prior of England, Fra' Fredrik-Crichton Stuart, the first time that the Grand Prior has been present in Parliament since Sir Thomas Thresham in 1559, before which time the Priors sat ex officio among the barons.  See the drawing at the bottom of this article.

We post here below the text of the Address delivered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on this glorious occasion in the life of the Realm.  His Holiness is boldly aware of the significance of this history both for British Catholics and for all peoples of these Isles.

The latter part of the Holy Father's address has much of relevance to the daily work today of the Order of Malta. These words are addressed to us too, let us have the courage to heed them.

Mr Speaker,
Thank you for your words of welcome on behalf of this distinguished gathering. As I address you, I am conscious of the privilege afforded me to speak to the British people and their representatives in Westminster Hall, a building of unique significance in the civil and political history of the people of these islands. Allow me also to express my esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries and which has had such a profound influence on the development of participative government among the nations, especially in the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world at large. Your common law tradition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe.
As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose ”good servant” he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.
This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.
And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.
Your readiness to do so is already implied in the unprecedented invitation extended to me today. And it finds expression in the fields of concern in which your Government has been engaged with the Holy See. In the area of peace, there have been exchanges regarding the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty; regarding human rights, the Holy See and the United Kingdom have welcomed the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; in the field of development, there has been collaboration on debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all.
I also note that the present Government has committed the United Kingdom to devoting 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013. In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare.
Where human lives are concerned, time is always short: yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Surely the integral human development of the world’s peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world’s attention, that is truly “too big to fail”.
This overview of recent cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See illustrates well how much progress has been made, in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. I hope and pray that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens, in harmony with Britain’s long-standing tradition. For such cooperation to be possible, religious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed. The angels looking down on us from the magnificent ceiling of this ancient Hall remind us of the long tradition from which British Parliamentary democracy has evolved. They remind us that God is constantly watching over us to guide and protect us. And they summon us to acknowledge the vital contribution that religious belief has made and can continue to make to the life of the nation.
Mr Speaker, I thank you once again for this opportunity briefly to address this distinguished audience. Let me assure you and the Lord Speaker of my continued good wishes and prayers for you and for the fruitful work of both Houses of this ancient Parliament. Thank you and God bless you all!
The Parliament of King Edward I, ca. 1300. The King sits on the throne attended by both Houses of Parliament. He is flanked by the King of Scots, the Prince of Wales, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The single figure in black sitting to the right of the barons on the cross-benches in the second row from the bottom of this drawing is the Grand Prior of England of the Knights Hospitaller.  He is William de Tottenham, who was the first Grand Prior to be summoned to the House of Lords.