“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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THURSDAY 31st MARCH - LENTEN EVENING OF RECOLLECTION

The Mid-Lenten Evening of Recollection will this year be held in the Lady Chapel of St James’s Spanish Place, London W1 on Thursday 31st March 2011.

The Evening will be led by the Reverend Nicholas Schofield, Parish Priest of Uxbridge and Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster. 

Mass will be at 6.45pm (note the changed time) followed by a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, which will include a short conference, concluding with Benediction. We are grateful to the Rector of Spanish Place, the Reverend Christopher Colven for allowing us the use of the Lady Chapel.

There will be drinks afterwards, for which a modest contribution will be requested, and further refreshment locally for those who wish. Members of the Order and Companions are extremely welcome to bring guests, especially those who are, or might be, aspirants to the Order.

THE ANNUNCIATION, LADY DAY

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady, a day so deeply engrained in the historical life of this county, that Lady Day still determines the calendars of many state institutions and modern secular organizations.

Today is a day of feasting, not fasting, where by immortal custom of the Church, and by canonical precept, the fast of Lent is suspended.  Every few years it falls on a Friday, and Canon 1251 enjoins us to set aside the abstinence from meat on this day.  It is our duty to honour the Church and Our Lady by availing ourselves of this great privilege.

Holy Mass will be celebrated at 6pm at St James's Church Spanish Place.

Dos tua, Virgo pia, haec est.

TUITIO FIDEI - PUBLIC DISPLAY OF CRUCIFIXES - EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS JUDGEMENT

In a landmark ruling, occasioned by the scandal a few years ago of the proposed removal of crucifixes in Italian state schoolrooms, the European Court of Human Rights has determined, in a final judgement in the case Lautsi and Others v. Italy (application no. 30814/06), that the display of crucifixes in schools presents no violation under the European Convention of Human Rights.

This very welcome ruling will be of relevance not only to those in Education in Britain, but also in Healthcare, and gives support to the display of crucifixes and religious symbols in Catholic hospitals, clinics and care-homes, even those which receive State funding.  It is to be hoped that those responsible for the administration of such institutions will take this opportunity for the practice of Tuitio Fidei, and provide such symbols for the spiritual inspiration and comfort of the patients they serve.

As the text of the ruling quotes (para 15(11.9)) "...in the present-day social reality the crucifix should be regarded not only as a symbol of a historical and cultural development, and therefore of the identity of our people, but also as a symbol of a value system: liberty, equality, human dignity and religious toleration..."

The PRESS RELEASE many be read here, and the text of the FULL JUDGEMENT here.   It merits careful study, not least of all for the underscoring of the influence of the values of Christianity in the foundation of modern society, something the modern political world, and some influential Catholics in the public sphere, sometimes forget.

To members of the Order of Malta, and those who assist in its work, this judgment will be of great help.
"The cross, as the symbol of Christianity, can therefore not exclude anyone without denying itself; it even constitutes in a sense the universal sign of the acceptance of and respect for every human being as such, irrespective of any belief, religious or other, which he or she may hold. ...  "  (para 15 (13.4))
Pope Benedict in procession in the Order's San Giovanni Baptista Hospital in Rome
before saying Mass for the patients and staff in the presence of Grand Master Bertie.

NEXT CONCERT - WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH - Hexachord

Plorans, ploravit
Penitential and Lenten a cappella sacred music from 16th century England, including
WHITE Lamentations à5; Exaudiat te, Domine
TALLIS Miserere nostri; Sancte Deus
TYE Peccavimus
SHEPPARD Media vita
MUNDY Adolescentulus sum ego
performed by HEXACHORD directed by Simon Lillystone
at 7:30pm in the CONVENTUAL CHURCH OF SAINT JOHN OF JERUSALEM

This concert is the last in the St John’s Concert Series for 2010/2011 arranged through the collaboration of St John’s Hospice and the Order of Malta.

The series aims to raise funds and awareness for the only independent Catholic hospice in Central London.

Entry is by free programme available at the door, for which a suggested donation of £15 per audience member is requested, or other donation as generously as you feel able.

Refreshments will be available in the interval, and the church is very easy to reach by bus and tube (St John’s Wood Station).

ARCHBISHOP'S PASTORAL LETTER

Below is the text of the Pastoral letter instructing our Lenten observances, issued by His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster last Sunday.
  
Ninth Sunday of the Year
Our Lenten Journey

My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. It is important that we prepare for it now. 
Lent, of course, is a season in which we are called to a renewal of faith. We go back to the foundations of our faith, ensuring that our house is built on rock and not on sand, as today’s Gospel passage reminds us.
The rock, of course, is Christ, he who ‘leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection’ (Heb 12.2). All we do during Lent is aimed at bringing us closer to him.
During Lent we are to learn again all that separates us from Christ. We repent of our sins. We celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is a major task for Lent. By taking on a regular act of self-denial during Lent we train ourselves to turn again to Christ. We also come closer to the Lord by an increased practice of prayer, and by an additional generosity towards the poor. So, repentance, self-denial, almsgiving and prayer are the recipe for Lent. 
This pattern of Lenten living prepares us to celebrate afresh the great events of our faith: the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord. This we do in the great ceremonies of Holy Week. I ask you now to look at how best you can take part in them. 
In these ceremonies, Good Friday holds a special place. Every Friday during Lent holds a special place, for these Fridays link us to the Lord’s death on the Cross. So I ask you to ensure that you mark each Friday in Lent with an act of self-denial. The ancient tradition of the Church is that we do not eat meat on these Fridays. Let us take up again the practice of abstaining from meat, or another favourite part of our diet, on the Fridays of Lent. 
Prayer, too, is crucial. The Stations of the Cross are a form of prayer well suited to our Lenten journey. Please do try to follow the Stations of the Cross in your church during these coming weeks. By meditating together on the suffering and death of the Lord, undergone for our sake, we come closer to him and renew our love for him. 
So far I have spoken of our Friday abstinence and our prayer as our pathway of preparation for Easter. Now I ask you to add to it a pattern of reflection on your own personal faith. 
This you can do by joining in one of the many parish groups which follow the booklet ‘Faithful Pilgrim’ offered for this season of Lent. This year the themes of the booklet lead each group in a reflection on the message of Pope Benedict to us all during his recent Apostolic Visit. Coming together with a group of others is a marvellous way of deepening faith and encouraging each other. 
There is also a more individual approach to such reflection and prayer. Every parish has been offered the small ‘Walk with Me’ booklets which open up a journey of personal prayer for the weeks of Lent. This, too, focuses on the words of Pope Benedict, concentrating on the wonderful teaching he gave during his homily in Westminster Cathedral. You may well find this helpful and encouraging, too. 
These booklets are readily available. Do make use of them. 
So this is our journey for Lent: a journey marked by self-denial, especially on each Friday. This prepares us to admit and confess our sins. 
It is a journey marked by prayer, in the Stations of the Cross or before the Blessed Sacrament. This helps us to come to the Lord in love and appreciate more deeply his saving love for us. 
Then, do mark your journey of Lent by prayerful reflection on the faith, either in a parish group or individually. 
Please take steps today to make the most of these opportunities. 
I am fully aware of the pressure on time which we all feel as I make these requests. It is difficult to fit more into a busy routine. Yet Lent itself helps us to address this issue. 
Paradoxically, if we can slow down during these weeks of Lent, making space for things which matter very much indeed, then we will find a greater peace and poise in our lives. Creating moments and times of space for prayer and reflection gives us new vitality and focus with which to return to our routine obligations. Try it and see! 
During the Visit of Pope Benedict last September we felt again a certain pride in being Catholics. We rediscovered our identity as members of a great family. He reminded us that our Catholic way of life should have a distinctiveness about it, one that emerges from our relationship with the Lord. During these coming weeks let us renew that relationship by steadfastly observing our Lenten practices and encouraging each other to do so. 
May God bless us all during this precious season of Lent. 
Yours devotedly,
+Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF CHANGES TO MASSES IN LENT


MASSES DURING LENT, AND STATIONS OF THE CROSS

During the current delayed building works in the Hospice, which as the Chairman of the Hospital has explained prohibit the use of the Conventual Church in the evenings, the following revised arrangements will prevail. Additional information will be posted as necessary on this website.

ASH WEDNESDAY
On Ash Wednesday the 6.30pm evening Mass in the Conventual Church will be cancelled, but a Mass will be celebrated, with imposition of ashes, in the Church by the Hospital Chaplain at 5.30pm.

As this time is rather early for many members of the Order, members and Companions are invited to attend the 6pm Mass at St James’s Church, Spanish Place, George Street W1U 3QY, which the professed will attend in choir.

THURSDAY EVENING MASSES
Until further notice the Order’s weekly Conventual Mass will take place in the Lady Chapel of St James’s Church, Spanish Place, at 6.45 pm on Thursday evenings. The Masses will be followed by the customary short drinks reception. The Masses will normally be celebrated by our chaplain Father David Irwin, or other Order chaplains.

As this coincides with the beginning of Lent, this is a good opportunity to avail ourselves of these Masses in this beautiful church, and it is hoped than many members and Companions will attend, so that we may continue to carry out some of our Lenten exercises as a community.

The Feasts of the Order as detailed in the Calendar of Masses 2011 will be celebrated at these Masses as normal.

The 11am Mass on Tuesday will continue to be celebrated as usual in the Conventual Church.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS
The Friday evening Stations of the Cross in the Conventual Church will also be cancelled, and members of the Order are encouraged to join in the Stations at St James’s Church Spanish Place on Fridays on Lent at 6.30pm, following the 6 o’clock Mass.

We are very grateful to the Reverend Father Christopher Colven, Rector of St James’s, for his kindness and hospitality over these coming weeks, and to our chaplain, Father David Irwin.

Your continued prayers are asked for our chaplain Canon John McDonald, Chaplain Emeritus of the Hospital, whose health is gradually improving.

The Grand Prior takes this opportunity to wish you all a very holy and fruitful Lent.