“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                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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VISIT OF THE ARCHBISHOP TO THE GRAND MASTER

On the occasion of the Ad Limina visit of the Bishops of England and Wales to Rome last week, Archbishop Nichols, with some of his auxiliaries, including Bishop Hopes, and other bishops, were received by HMEH the Prince and Grand Master for lunch at the Magistral Palace in Via Condotti.
The Holy Father receives Archbishop Nichols and the Westminster Bishops.

The guests are received at the Magistral Palace on Tuesday.

The Grand Master with Archbishop Nichols.

NEW ORGAN FOR THE CHURCH

We have been very delighted to receive a new organ in the Conventual Church, the gift of two anonymous members of the Order of Malta to the Grand Priory of England.

The electronic organ was installed on 15th January, and blessed before Mass that evening by Father Christopher Colven, Rector of Spanish Place church.

It was first played for Sunday Mass on the occasion of Bishop Hopes' visit for Fr Sloan's installation, since when it has greatly enhanced the solemnity and beauty of the liturgy, and is used to accompany the sung offices of Lauds and Vespers for the members of the Grand Priory.

It is a three-manual Content organ made in Holland, supplied by Classical Organs of St Austell, Cornwall.
The Chancellor of the Grand Priory, HE Fra' Duncan Gallie, at the keyboard.

ANTHONY, EARL OF GAINSBOROUGH. R.I.P.


Please pray for the repose of the soul of Anthony Gerard Edward, Earl of Gainsborough, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, and President of the Hospital, born 24 Oct 1923; died 29 Dec 2009, for whom a Requiem Mass was at the Brompton Oratory on Thursday 28th January at 11am.

Brompton Oratory was all but filled for the Requiem, which was celebrated by Fr. Ronald Creighton-Jobe.  The music, from Anerio's Missa Pro Defunctis, was sung by the London Oratory Choir.

Thirty members of the family were present, the Dowager Lady Gainsborough escorted by her son Viscount Camden, the new Earl of Gainsborough. HE Cardinal Cormac Murphy O' Connor, Dom Edward Coubould OSB, Dom Dominic Milroy OSB, and the Grand Prior of England were robed in the sanctuary.

Seventy members of the Order and over seven hundred friends attended, including a contingent of estate workers and their families, all of whom the late Lord Gainsborough knew personally.

In his homily, Fr. Ronald Creighton-Jobe spoke of Tony Gainsborough's sixty years of service to the Order of Malta and the Church, championing the Lourdes pilgrimage, devoting much time to the development of the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth as its chairman, and latterly to the Orders of St John Homes Care Trust. His kindly presence was a comfort to malades over many years of devotion to them.

Lord Gainsborough was chairman of Rutland County Council and a well-loved Commodore of the Bembridge Sailing Club. A generous host and friend, he was married for 62 years, was a member of the Order for 60, raised seven children and lived to know his great grandchild.

Tony Gainsborough was President of the British Association, Order of Malta 1968-74; Chairman of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth Hospital from 1970 to 1980, and President of the Hospital from then until his death.

His family has long association with the Hospital, the 3rd Earl was the first Treasurer of the Hospital from 1880 to 1883.

Requiescat in pace.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2nd - CANDLEMAS


Mass for Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, also known as the Purification of Our Lady, which will begin with the traditional blessing of candles and Procession, will be celebrated in the Conventual Church with a sung Latin Mass at 6.30 pm.

A Reception will be held afterwards in Fortescue House.

The normal weekly Mass will also be celebrated in the morning at 11am.

CHANGE IN MASS TIMES

From Tuesday 26th January, Holy Mass will be celebrated weekly on Tuesday at 11 am.

The Wednesday 12.15 Mass will be suppressed from this date.

The Thursday 6.30 pm and Sunday 11 am Masses will remain unchanged.

It is hoped that this change will be more convenient for the patients, staff and Hospice helpers.

ARRIVAL OF FATHER SLOAN


Bishop Hopes with the Reverend Mr Vincent Malone, Deacon

The new Chaplain, Fr Richard Sloan, was welcomed into the Conventual Church at a Concelebrated Pontifical Mass on Sunday 17th January, and formally installed as Hospital Chaplain by the Right  Reverend Bishop Alan Hopes, Chaplain of the Order. The Chaplain Emeritus of the Hospital, Canon McDonald, was also present.

Fr Sloan greeting the people, watched by Canon McDonald.

We wish Father Sloan well in his ministry amongst Our Lords the Sick, in both the Hospital and Saint John's Hospice.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us,
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us,
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.

HAITI APPEAL - THANK YOU

A very warm thanks to all those who contributed so generously to the Order's Appeal for the relief work in Haiti at the Mass on Sunday.   A total of £400 was raised in cash in the retiring collection.

Many of you took the Appeal leaflet and Gift-Aid form with you, please fill it in and send it back quickly with as much as you can afford to give.   Additional copies are available here.

As the Grand Prior stated in his appeal, this is not a project for a few months, or even years.  This work will take more than a generation to complete, to restore normal human conditions to this tragic people.

Please, therefore, continue to hold Haiti among your charitable works, and above all in your prayers.

O Crux Ave, Spes Unica


You may view updates of progress in Haiti on this blog: Knight of the White Cross.

HAITI APPEAL


Photo © Daily Telegraph

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in the late evening of 12th January, with reports giving many thousands dead, and leaving millions of people homeless, in this, the poorest country of the Western hemisphere. The Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, is among the dead, found beneath the rubble of his collapsed residence. Thousands of lost children wander through the grey dust covering the area where as yet an unknown number of buildings and homes have been destroyed. There is major damage to the infrastructure, roads and the communication system, and the authorities are struggling to cope.


Top priority: basic medical care, clean drinking water 
Malteser International is preparing the deployment of an expert medical team from Germany and France to support local Malteser teams on the ground. “Our colleagues in Haiti are fully aware that basic medical care and the provision of clean drinking water are matters of top priority now,” Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International, explains. The emergency relief of Malteser International is coordinated within the worldwide international network of the Order of Malta.

For 15 years the Order of Malta, through its Associations in the United States, has been supporting a hospital (Hôpital Sacré Coeur, Milot) in the north of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The 73-bed hospital is the only one in the region. In 2008, Hôpital Sacré Coeur treated 56,000 outpatients, with over 4,100 hospital admissions and 1,262 newborn deliveries. There is no other pharmacy or laboratory in the area, so last year the hospital filled 136,000 prescriptions and completed over 77,000 lab tests. It provided almost 2,000 patient visits through the Mobile Clinic project.

The first members of the emergency team arriving in Haiti today, 
with the Order of Malta's Ambassador, Hans Rothe




The Archbishop of Westminster has asked all people of the Diocese to say the following prayer this coming Sunday, and during this time of tragedy.
We pray for the people of Haiti, struggling with the devastating effects of the recent earthquake: that despite the destruction around them they may not lose hope and may find the strength to rebuild their lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

SATURDAY 30th JANUARY

As part of the monthly Grand Priory Day of Recollection, Sung Mass of Our Lady's Saturday will be celebrated in the Church at 12 noon.

The office of Lauds will be sung at 10am; and Vespers, Holy Hour and Benediction at around 3.30pm, to which all are most welcome.

HOMILY FROM CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS

We are very grateful to the Reverend Dr Michael Cullinan for providing the text of the homily which he preached at the Midnight Mass in the Conventual Church, which we provide below.

In default of any photographs of the Mass, we display two images of 
Christmas Cribs in Malta, displayed in an exhibition at the Order's former Auberge of Italy.

What do you want for Christmas most of all? What would be the best present you could get?

We’re all thinking about presents at the moment. We’re all looking forward to receiving something. We all hope we’ll get something nice. So I’ll ask again. What do you want most for Christmas? What would be the best present you could get?

Actually you all know the right answer. But you might need to think a bit. Because most people aren’t really aware at all what the right answer is. Think of the things you most want for Christmas. And for next year. And now imagine you have them all. Everything you want. Every thing. Wouldn’t you be very happy?

When I began to study moral theology in the Seminary, on the very first day of the course, we were told three stories. One was about the man who dies and wakes up in a beautiful place, surrounded by beautiful faces. They will do anything for him. Anything at all. They are angels, and they can make almost anything happen for him. Give him anything. So for some time he is blissfully happy. But after a week or two he asks a question. ‘Is there anyone else here? Another human being to talk to?’ The angels put him off for a while by offering to talk, raise a football team, or do something else. But he insists. Gets angry. And finally remarks that surely there must be someone else in heaven to talk to. Then one of the angels says, ‘What makes you think this is heaven?’

Got it? Imagine you’ve got every thing you ever want. Every experience. Except another human being. Except anyone to love you.

So back to the question: What do you want most for Christmas? What would be the best present you could get? Not any thing at all. So what’s the answer?

What about love? Being loved and being able to love?

Almost there. But we haven’t really got to Christmas yet. Most people can get as far as seeing that things on their own aren’t enough for us. That we need love. But most people can’t seem to get any farther. That’s why they’re not here with us at Christmas.

We all want to be loved and to love. But human love is never perfect. If you don’t know that after the rush of the last few days, you certainly will after the next few! We don’t find it easy to get on with each other. Even when we live together. Especially when we live together. And human love doesn’t last forever. Not in this world. It hurts when we are left alone. When someone we loved, someone we still love, isn’t there anymore. Many of us will be thinking of someone in particular this Christmas who isn’t there for us anymore.

We are made to love and be loved. Forever. But we aren’t very good at loving. We need to learn to love. And to be able to love forever. And that brings us right to Christmas. To God’s infinite love for us. To God teaching us that he loves us by becoming one with us. One of us. To teach us how to love. To make it possible for us to love forever. To our Catholic faith.

If we recognize our need for his love. Which means recognizing how bad we are at loving. And how much we need to be forgiven. And that we cannot reliably get God’s love except through his family the Church. A family that, like any family in this world, isn’t always as happy or as good at getting along together as we would like. And that brings us right to our Catholic faith.

We’re here tonight because we can see that we need more than things to make us happy. And more than human love. We’re here to renew our gifts of faith and hope and love. God’s great present to us all.

Our faith is a gift. A gift past generations gave their lives to preserve for us. A gift given to us by our parents, our teachers, and our priests. A gift to receive and enjoy.

When I was an academic, we were warned about working for industry. Never do it just for the love of it, we were told. If you don’t put a high price to your work, they won’t value it, and they won’t value you either. It was a useful lesson.

The faith tends to flourish where the price is higher. Where you’re forced to work on Sundays. Not allowed to put your case fairly in the media. Not allowed to run your own schools in your own way. Discriminated against because of what you believe.

All things done in some places to persecute us. All things getting nearer to being done here in England out of sheer ignorance and contempt for our faith.

It seems to get worse each year. We Catholics are the only minority that doesn’t seem to have minority rights. The only once persecuted group that is treated as if we were part of the old oppressive establishment. The only religion that it isn’t regarded as wrong—or dangerous—to offend and insult.

It used to be that we were either treated with respect, or that the false images some people had of the Catholic faith were so ludicrous that they weren’t really very dangerous to our own faith.

But that’s changed now. Today’s false images of us are much more dangerous. Because they contain just a tiny bit of truth. And the worst things people can say about you are the half-truths. The things that aren’t true about you but have just enough truth in them to be believable.

You have to work quite hard to find out what the Pope really said and meant in his lecture about Islam. And most people haven’t the time. You have to know quite a lot of canon law to see how wrong the BBC were about how the Vatican deals with shameful conduct by clergy. Most people don’t know any canon law. You have to know a lot about scripture and history to see what twisted rubbish Dan Brown has written about how our faith developed. But most people know very little about scripture and history. You have to know a bit of philosophy and theology to see through some of the arguments of Professor Dawkins. But most people don’t get taught very much theology or philosophy. And care less about them.

We now have the most anti-Christian government ever. With government spokesmen threatening to use the law to force us not to discriminate against women and those with partners, in applications for the priesthood. In an election year. They must believe that the Catholic vote has ceased to exist. I think we have let them believe that by not doing enough about previous restrictions on the expression of our faith.

So we have to work much harder now. To defend our religion and to protect the gift of our faith.

But there are two other gifts for us as well. Our hope is a gift. Our hope for a better world, a world without sin and suffering. A hope put in God’s grace and our own good works, rather than simply in politicians and clever plans. A hope that can’t be destroyed by all the terrible things in the news.

But the greatest gift is the third one. The one designed to last forever. Our love is a gift. God’s forgiving love for each of us. To teach us how to love and forgive.

That’s why we need to be here tonight. And every week. To renew our faith and hope and love. To practise our faith, our hope, and our love for each other. And because God has given us a very simple gift to remind us of his love for us. A reminder of the first Christmas.

It’s called the Mass. Where Christ again becomes weak and powerless for us. Where bread and wine become God. Where we receive the divine body of Christ to become more the divine Body of Christ ourselves.

What do you want most for Christmas? What would be the best present you could get?

Now we all know the answer. God’s forgiving and everlasting love. The love that sent God to earth as a tiny, helpless baby. The love that gives God to us. Then in the stable. Here and now in the Mass. To teach us how to love. To renew our faith and hope. To make us love and be happy. The love that one day God wants to give us perfectly and forever.

WELCOME FOR NEW HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN!

The new Chaplain to the Hospital, Father Richard Sloan, will be welcomed at the Sunday Mass on the 17th January.

We are very grateful to the Diocese, and to Bishop Alan Hopes, and extend our best wishes to Father Sloan for his new ministry with us.

We hope as many people as possible will come to greet him at Mass on the 17th.