“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

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PROGRAMME FOR LENT AND EASTER



STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Every FRIDAY evening, at 6.30 pm.

You are warmly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for additional devotion
in this Holy Season,
as part of your spiritual preparation for Easter,
and also to attend an additional Mass during the week.

Holy Mass is celebrated every week in this Church on
Tuesday at 11 am and Thursday at 6.30 pm.

On Saturday 27th February there will be an additional Mass at 12 noon.

Times of Mass in the Parish Church are posted on the Notice-board, or see here.

EVENING OF RECOLLECTION
Thursday 18th March beginning with Vespers at 6 pm, Mass at 6.30
followed by Exposition, Spiritual Conference and Benediction.

PALM SUNDAY
28th March, Sung Mass at 11 am.
with Blessing of Palms and Procession.

HOLY WEEK
The Liturgies of the Sacred Triduum will be celebrated in full in the Conventual Church, together with the Spiritual Conferences, as usual. Full details will be posted nearer the time.

Maundy Thursday
Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds) 10 am
Solemn Mass 8 pm

GOOD FRIDAY
Tenebrae 10 am
Solemn Liturgy of the Passion 3 pm

HOLY SATURDAY
Tenebrae 10 am
Solemn Easter Vigil 10 pm

EASTER DAY
Conventual Mass 9.15 am
Sung Mass 11 am
Vespers and Benediction 4 pm

SATURDAY 27th FEBRUARY

As part of the monthly Grand Priory Day of Recollection, a sung Mass for Ember Saturday in Lent 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.

On the Friday evening, 26th February, Stations of the Cross will take place at 6.30 pm, followed by Vespers at 7pm.

You are warmly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for an additional Lenten exercise.

SATURDAY 20th - DEDICATION OF OUR MOTHER CHURCH

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Conventual Church of Saint John the Baptist in Valetta, built as the principal church of the Order by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière, and now known as St John's Co-Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Malta.
Caravaggio's glorious painting of the beheading of St John the Baptist in the Knight's Oratory.

Further information may be gained from the Cathedral's website, which contains much excellent historical information.   This page allows you to look at detailed photographs of the magnificent inlaid tombs in the pavement of the nave.
The nave showing the pavement and High Altar

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

UPDATE ON HAITI

Malteser International's video describing the relief work being carried out in Haiti.



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ARCHBISHOP NICHOLS' HOMILY ON THE SICK AND THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE

The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has called for a culture of compassion and healing to be at the centre of healthcare and the care of the dying.


In a Homily delivered at a Mass for the Sick, celebrated at Westminster Cathedral on 13 February 2010 and attended by a congregation including people with a variety of medical conditions, their carers, hospital chaplains and healthcare workers, Archbishop Nichols rejected the view that care for the sick was a burden. Rather, it enhanced the understanding and experience of life.

    Today, at this Mass in which we honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, we thank God for the gifts of life and faith.

    During this Mass many of us recall the enriching of these gifts of life and faith which we receive in Lourdes, on the Diocesan Pilgrimage and on other visits. Those are occasions in which our faith is strengthened, at the invitation of Mary who always brings us to her Son. So too, on pilgrimage our sense of the true value of life is enhanced, especially with the gift of the sick, and through the care of the sick, which are so central to the experience of a pilgrimage.

    In these few words, there are two themes I would like to pursue about the way in which our understanding and experience of life is enhanced through the sick and our care for them.

    The first is expressed in the reading from Isaiah. Here we have a great song in praise of the care and comfort God has for each of us. Strong images of motherhood are used: ‘like a son comforted by his mother so I will comfort you’ (Is 66.13)

    Comfort is at the heart of the care we strive to offer to each other, especially those who are burdened by illness or distress. This is true, of course, of all who genuinely care for the sick. The Constitution of the National Health Service, published in January 2009 states:

    ‘We – the NHS – respond with humanity and kindness to each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need. We search for the things we can do, however small, to give comfort and relieve suffering. We find time for those we serve and work alongside. We do not want to be asked, because we care.’

    These are splendid sentiments, suitable as a mission statement for any Lourdes pilgrimage. Often they are fulfilled in NHS hospitals, for which so many are very grateful. But sometimes they are not, as some will know from personal experience.

    Where this happens it is not simply a matter of the attitudes of individuals, though of course that is part of the story. It is also about the prevailing culture in an institution, the pressures of control and delivery which can impair and diminish the ability of staff to care properly. In contrast a culture of true compassion and healing fosters a deep respect and attentive care of the whole person, it promotes genuine care characterised by a sense of humility, a profound respect for others, and a refusal to see them as no more than a medical or behavioural problem to be tackled and resolved. To care in this way is a gift of oneself to another. And, as with all true giving, the giver also receives.

     In this Mass we rejoice in the gift of faith which makes clear to us a very fundamental human truth: that each of us has a dignity that comes from God, and therefore a quality of life in relationship to God that can never be reduced to its external human behaviours. From the outside a life might seem restricted, reduced or burdensome. But from within, where the love and comfort of God is experienced, that same life might well be rich in both experience and promise.

     The appreciation of this spiritual dimension of every life makes the experience of Lourdes in the company of the sick so very special. There it is easier to see the sick as our spiritual leaders, as champions of faith and trust in the Lord. In Lourdes, where the veil between heaven and earth is so much more transparent, we see life in its true dimensions: as a spiritual as well as physical journey; as enriched by love given and received as well as by achievements of more measurable kinds.

    The quality of care that we give and receive, in the end depends on the eyes with which we see each other. And faith in God is a light to our eyes, and a gift beyond compare.

    The Gospel reading hints at the second theme I would like to address.

     In the parable we learn that the best wine is usually served first, whereas at this special wedding feast the best wine has been kept to the last. This wine, of course, has been provided by Jesus himself. Surely there are echoes here of the ‘new wine’ of which Jesus speaks at his last supper when he says: ‘From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.’ (Mt 26.29)

    Here is the promise of life after death, the fullness of life which flows from the death of Christ and is offered to us as our true destiny, the purpose for which we have been created.

    This is the perspective in which we come to view the prospect of death, which certainly awaits us all.  In the care of the dying there is so much disquiet and dispute today: campaigns for assisted suicide and euthanasia; fears of unrelieved suffering and loss of control; fears of over-treatment – that is, of inappropriate aggressive medical interventions as life nears its end. Then there is the opposite fear of under-treatment or neglect – sometimes, for instance, food and water may be simply put in front of patients unable to feed themselves who are then noted as having refused their food. We do not know how to deal with death. But fear cannot be our guide.

    For these reasons, the Bishops of England and Wales have recently published a consultation paper on the spiritual care of the dying person. In it we state:

    ‘There are two things that need to be kept in mind in end of life care: respecting life and accepting death. Respecting life means that every person must be valued for as long as they live. One implication of this is that death should never be the aim of our action or of our inaction. We should never try to bring about death. On the other hand, accepting death means that we should prepare properly for death. One implication of this is that we should not deny the reality of the situation or flee from the inevitable by seeking every possible treatment. A religious person will see both life and death as coming from God.’

    Then we add:
‘Every human life and the person who lives it are always more than a bundle of genes and actions. Even the most restricted of lives is lived in transcendence by virtue of being human. If we fail to see this and honour it, then we not only fail to respect a person: we do that person violence. There is a hidden violence in so many of our systems, even those of care, because their operational mode is reductionist. If we reduce death to a clinical event and manage it through a series of standard procedures then we do not deal with death well, either clinically or humanly.’

    The spiritual being of every person, then, is always central to the care we give and receive, most especially at the time of death. For those of our faith, this is the moment when, whether we are weak and struggling, tranquil and awake, or in some other inner space, we hand ourselves over to our loving Father. This moment is central to our pilgrim journey. We practice for it, day by day, rehearsing our final act of trust with smaller daily acts of abandonment to God, in prayer, in kindness towards others, and in our sacramental life.

    It is to one of the sacraments that we now turn: the anointing of the sick. In it, we trust ourselves to God anew, confident that God will strengthen and sustain us, especially in the face of the illness that we carry. And we are confident for we know, in these moments, that the prayer of the whole Church is the prayer of Christ himself who carries to the ear of his attentive Father the sincere prayers of each one of us today.

+ Vincent Nichols

THURSDAY 11th FEBRUARY. OUR LADY OF LOURDES

Today we celebrate this great Feast of the apparition of Our Lady of  the Immaculate Conception to Bernadette Soubirous, which has a special place in the spiritual and hospitaller life of the Order.

The Feast was kept with a Sung Mass in the Conventual Church at 6.30 pm, in the presence of patients of the Hospice.  At the end of Mass the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick was celebrated for of the Malades present, including Colonel Tommy Pace.

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, has become the Church’s World Day of the Sick, because the Blessed Virgin Mary instructed St. Bernadette in 1858 to drink from a stream that has been flowing ever since.  Those who are sick come to Lourdes to ask Mary to intercede on their behalf as they bathe in the stream.
Most of us can remember how our mother took care of us when we were sick.  Many had home remedies that were used to combat colds, flu, headache or stomach ache.  Prayers to get well and prayers for others who were sick were directed to the Blessed Mother.
This is a time to thank those who take care of the sick at home or in hospitals or nursing homes.  It is a moment to turn again to Mary with our many illnesses—physical, emotional, spiritual—and ask for her help.
Cardinal Francis George, OMI

LITANY OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES
Lord have mercy; Lord have mercy. 
Christ have mercy; Christ have mercy. 
Lord have mercy; Lord have mercy. 
Christ hear us; Christ graciously hear us. 
God the Father of Heaven; Have mercy on us. 
God the Son, Redeemer of the world; Have mercy on us. 
God the Holy Spirit; Have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, one God; Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary; Pray for us. 
Holy Mother of God; Pray for us. 
Mother of Christ; Pray for us. 
Mother of our Saviour; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of Christians; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, source of love; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the poor; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the handicapped; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of orphans; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all children; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all nations; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the Church; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, friend of the lonely; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of those who mourn; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, shelter of the homeless; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, guide of travellers; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, strength of the weak; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, refuge of sinners; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of the suffering; Pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the dying; Pray for us. 
Queen of heaven; Pray for us. 
Queen of peace; Pray for us. 
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Spare us O Lord. 
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us. 
Christ hear us; Christ graciously hear us. 
Let us pray: 
Grant us, your servants, we pray you, Lord God, to enjoy perpetual health of mind and body. By the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may we be delivered from present sorrows, and enjoy everlasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS - FRIDAYS IN LENT

As in previous years, there will be Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings in Lent at 6.30 pm, starting with the Friday after Ash Wednesday, 19th February.  This is a useful spiritual exercise to assist us in our Lenten observances of fasting, penance and almsgiving.

You are also encouraged to attend the weekday Masses during this holy Season, at 11 am on Tuesdays and 6.30 pm on Thursdays.

ASH WEDNESDAY - 17th FEBRUARY

Masses for Ash Wednesday will be at 11 am and 6.30 pm.  Ashes will be imposed at both Masses.

The morning Mass will be celebrated by the Hospital Chaplain, Fr Richard Sloan, and the evening Mass will be a sung Latin Mass, celebrated by Monsignor Gilles Wach, Prior-General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.   We are very grateful to Monsignor Wach for joining us for a second year running.

You are reminded that this is a day of Fasting and Abstinence, that is, those of us between the ages of 14 and 60 years must abstain from all meat products, and only eat one simple main meal and two small snacks.  Water may be drunk all day.