“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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NOTICE - LADY JAFFRAY'S MUSICAL SOIREE IN AID OF ST JOHN'S HOSPICE - TUESDAY 24th MAY 2011

Lady Jaffray with His Excellency the President of BASMOM
With the support of the British Association of the Order of Malta, Anne Lady Jaffray is holding the fourth of her annual Soirees on 24th May to raise much needed funds for St John's Hospice at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. The Grand Master of the Order, HMEH Fra' Matthew Festing, has graciously accepted an invitation to be present.

The last event raised enough to buy an electrically operated bed, which was blessed by the Archbishop of Westminster, The Most Revd Vincent Nichols. Dr Chris Farnham, the Medical Director at the Hospice, said the bed had met with the approval of both patients and nursing staff. Lady Jaffray hopes to raise at least as much this year, as further beds are urgently needed in the refurbished Hospice, which was officially re-opened on 31st March by the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley, CBE, MP. The Archbishop is to say Mass in the Order’s Conventual Church, adjacent to the Hospice, on 25th May 2011 at 11 am, in celebration of the improvements.

The Soiree is to be held, as previously, in the elegant surroundings of Imperial College at 170 Queens Gate, South Kensington. Tickets are £75 each and may be ordered from Naomi Glancy at the Hospice Fundraising office (Tel: 020 7806 4012, E-mail: naomi.glancy@hje.org.uk). After the initial reception at 7pm there is to be a 45-minute concert of choral music, followed by wine and supper. Dress is Black Tie.

This year's music, sung (without remuneration) by Schola Baptista, the choir of the Conventual Church under the direction of Eoghain Murphy, will include the three great Naval Motets of the Order, praying for the lifting of the Great Siege of Malta and celebrating the formation of the Holy League's and the famous victory at Lepanto.

Please support this worthy cause and at the same time have a very enjoyable, relaxed evening.

PASCHAL CANDLE IN THE CONVENTUAL CHURCH

Traditionally the decoration of the candle is rich in ancient Christological symbolism.

Here the cross with which the Candle is solemnly signed at the beginning of the Vigil ceremony is in the form of the Maltese cross of the Order, surrounded by the chaplet, or rosary, of religious profession of the Priory.  The cross symbolises our Lord's glorified and risen body which we honour and celebrate this night, in the promise of our own Resurrection and Salvation. The eight points of the Maltese cross also remind us of the eight Beatitudes, which form a code of life for all Christians, and especially for the knights of the Order, and upon which we have meditated during Lent.

The cross is surrounded by the greek letters Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the alphabet, also symbols of Christ, who is from before the beginning of creation, and will return to earth in judgment on the last day, and numerals of the year, 2011, to emphasise that while our destiny is eternal, we live our life of Faith in real time in this world.  As the priest incises these symbols into the wax with a stylus, he says the following words: Christus heri et hodie, Principium et Finis, Alpha et Omega. Ipsius sunt tempora et saecula. Ipsi gloria et imperium per universa aeternitatis saecula. Amen. (Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. His are the times and ages. To him be glory and dominion through all the ages of eternity. Amen.)

At the centre and the four points of the cross are inserted grains of incense, set either in wax or metal containers, which symbolise the five holy wounds with which the Lord's glorified body will remain marked for all eternity. As he thrusts the pins into the soft wax, as the nails were hammered into Christ suffering body, the priest says: Per sua sancta vulnera gloriosa custodiat et conservet nos Christus Dominus. Amen. (Through his holy and glorious wounds may Christ the Lord guard and preserve us. Amen.)

A detail which cannot be seen in this photograph, the upper band bears the word Surrexit, He is risen! and at the bottom in Greek the ancient Easter greeting Χριστός ἀνέστη, CRISTOS ANESTI - Christ is risen, to which the reply is Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη, ALITOS ANESTI - He is risen indeed.  (Sorry, we cannot make the browser type Greek capitals. Ed.)

Above the sacred ritual symbols is the shield of the ancient Langue of England, which subsists today in the Grand Priory of England, and which arms are used on the banner of the Grand Priory.  These arms, the ancient royal arms of England, were adopted by the English Langue during the crusades. Today the Order is the oldest body using these arms by ancient right.  Below the cross are the arms of the present Grand Prior, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, who is the Superior of the Order in this country, and thus of the religious life of the Conventual Church, which is the seat of his 'convent'.  The custom of putting the arms of the diocesan bishop or religious superior is very ancient, and reminds us that we derive our Salvation not by our own merits or piety, but though the Catholic Church, her structures and Sacraments, founded by Christ at the Passover supper, and sealed by his own Precious Blood on Good Friday.

The candle will burn in the church at Masses throughout Eastertide, and be used for baptisms and funerals in the Hospital through the year.

Lumen Christi, Deo Gratias
Lumen Christi, Deo Gratias
Lumen Christi, Deo Gratias

REPORT - EASTER VIGIL

The Easter Vigil completed the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the Conventual Church.  We are very grateful to al those who have made the ceremonies so solemn and beautiful.  The choir sang the chant responses at the Vigil, and Schubert's Mass in G.

The Sacred Ministers during the Vigil.
Gloria is Excelsis.
The choir exercising their opus Dei.
The Sacred Ministers with the sanctuary party and some members of the Order 
on the steps of the Conventual Church in the early hours of this holy morning.

Dic nobis, Maria,  quid vidísti in via?
Sépulcrum Christi vivénti :
et glóriam vidi resurgéntis
Angélicos testes, sudárium, et véstes
Surréxit Christus spes mea :
 et præcédet vos in Galilæam.

Tell us Mary : say what thou didst see upon the way
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting;
Shroud with grave-clothes resting
Christ, my hope, has risen : 
he goes before you into Galilee.


The Grand Prior extends to you all his best wishes for all the blessing of the Risen Lord at this Easter time.

REPORT - MAUNDY THURSDAY AND GOOD FRIDAY

Thanks to a member of the choir, we have some good photographs of the Sacred Liturgies of these two days in the Conventual Church.
Monsignor Wadsworth delivering the Homily
The Offertory
Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday
The music at Maundy Thursday was Missa Sexti Toni by Croce, with chant Kyrie IV and a more elaborate Victoria Gloria, motets by Bruckner, Duruflé and Tallis, and a setting of one of the Mandatum antiphons by the 17th century composer Nunes Garcia.

In the morning some members of the Grand Priory were greatly privileged to watch the Queen arriving at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Maundy service; this picture was taken by one of them.  Her Majesty has fulfilled this duty at the Abbey every ten years since the start of her reign.  In intervening years the Royal Maundy is distributed at cathedrals around the realm.

On Good Friday the Improperia sung during the veneration of the Cross was sung to the ancient chant.
Agios o Theos!

Sanctus Deus.
Agios Ischyros!
Sanctus Fortis.
Agios Athanatos, eleison imas.
Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis.
During the Lesson
The Passion
Ecce Lignum Crucis

"HOLY WEEK THROUGH ART" Archbishop's meditation.

The Archbishop of Westminster, The Right Reverend Vincent Nichols, meditates upon the story of the Passion though works in the National Gallery.
"Welcome to The National Gallery here in Trafalgar Square. We’re here to look at some paintings; paintings that will help us to prepare for our Holy Week ceremonies and the feast of Easter. 
"We will look at the scene of Our Lord’s death on the cross; we will look at a scene of his entombment; of the first glimpse of the Risen Christ and finally; a painting of the glory of heaven, the promise of eternal life that is held before us all. 
"As we enter into Holy Week we prepare to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s death and Resurrection and one thing that is important to remember is that in the Liturgy, the power of those events are open to us now. Through Liturgy we become participants, not spectators, and the same is true for these paintings..."

Click here for transcript of the talk.

HOLY WEEK SPIRITUAL READING - DOUAI RETREAT

We post here two papers which were given by the Chaplain of the Grand Priory, Msgr Antony Conlon, at the Annual Order retreat for men, held last week at Douai Abbey, Berkshire.  These papers are offered to our readers as spiritual reading for Holy Week, as indeed they merit much further consideration by those who were privileged to hear them when first delivered.

They are accompanied by good wishes and prayers for a holy and blessed Triduum and Easter from the Grand Priory. The intentions of all the readers of this blog will be prayed for during the Masses of the Holy Triduum in the Conventual Church.

Click on the READ MORE link below for the texts of the two talks.

CONFERENCE 1
I have never been to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Among its many treasures
is a painting by Rembrandt of the Return of the Prodigal Son. The artist painted it in old
age and it is believed by some to reveal traces of his own spiritual journey, with figures
on the canvas reflecting himself at different stages in his life. The central figure is not so
much the shaven-headed and ragged youth being embraced but the father who embraces
him. The young man’s face is scarcely visible as it leans towards the forgiving parent. The
father is shown mysteriously as a blind man and with two different shaped hands; one
definitely female.

THURSDAY 21st TO SUNDAY 24th APRIL - EASTER TRIDUUM

The Order will be celebrating the full Latin liturgy of the Sacred Triduum, as in previous years, in the context of a Spiritual Retreat.

Everyone, especially Companions and those who in any way associate themselves with the work of the Order, by assisting in the Hospital or Hospice or by regular attendance at Masses in the Conventual Church, is warmly encouraged to attend both at the Solemn Liturgies (indicated in BOLD in the timetable below), which should form an important part of the liturgical life of all Catholics, and also at the Spiritual Conferences, which will help us to deepen our understanding of our Faith. They will be given by one of the Order Chaplains.

The Office of Matins and Lauds, historically known as Tenebrae, will be sung in chant each morning in choir by the Knights, to which all are most welcome. This provides an opportunity for those committed elsewhere for the main Liturgies to participate in the Triduum in the Conventual Church.

Good Friday is a day of Fasting and Abstinence, upon which all Catholics between the ages of 14 and 60 must refrain from eating meat products, and may only eat one simple main meal and two small snacks, or collations. Water may be taken at any time.

Lent ends on Spy Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday, despite the solemn anticipation of Our Lord's Passion, is also a day of rejoicing for the institution of Holy Communion at the Last Supper, at which Christ gave His risen Body to His Church for our salvation. For this reason the Mass is celebrated in white with Gloria. It is fitting that we also celebrate this at our tables with more festal food, and those who have abstained from meat for the whole of Lent should end their fast on this day.

Booklets for the principal liturgies and for the Divine Office will be available.
MAUNDY THURSDAY (21st April)
Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.30pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Evening Mass)
Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 7.15pm
Solemn Mass ‘in Cena Domini8.00pm
followed by Procession to Altar of Repose and Stripping of the Altars
Compline (at the Altar of Repose) After the Stripping of the Altars
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose will continue until Midnight.

GOOD FRIDAY (22nd April)
Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pmNone 2.00pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Liturgy of the Passion)
Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 2.15pm
Solemn Liturgy of the Passion 3.00pm  

HOLY SATURDAY (23rd April)
Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pmNone 2.30pmVespers 5.00pm
(Compline and Matins are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Solemn Easter Vigil.)
Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 9.15pm
Solemn Easter Vigil 9.00pm 

EASTER SUNDAY  (24th April)
Sung Mass (English)  11.00am

LENTEN REFLECTION - "THE GOOD THIEF"

We are very grateful to Father Nicholas Schofield, M.A. (Oxon.), S.T.B., parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael, Uxbridge, and Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster, for his most moving meditation for the Grand Priory Lenten Evening of Recollection, which he delivered during an Holy Hour following Mass in the Lady Chapel of Saint James's Spanish Place. 
The full meditiation is given below, click the 'READ MORE' link at the end of the visible passage for the complete text.
We hope this will be fruitful reading as we enter Holy Week.

T H E   G O O D   T H I E F

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”.

It is a shame we know so little about the Good Thief, often known as St Dismas. And it surprising that his feast is not widely celebrated, even though his image is present in most churches (the same could be said, incidentally, of Simon of Cyrene, the great patron of those carrying crosses). The life of the Good Thief, as you might expect, has become the subject of legend. One tradition relates how many years earlier the Holy Family fell into the hands of robbers as they fled into Egypt. They owed their deliverance to the young St Dismas, the son of the robber chief, who saw the Divine Infant in His mother’s arms and believed at once that He was more than man. He exclaimed ‘O most Blessed of children, if ever a time should come when I should crave Thy mercy, remember me and forget not what has passed this day.’

But the Gospel passage we have just heard contains much food for meditation. One could say, after all, that it contains an account of the first canonization ceremony, as Our Lord Himself tells the dying thief ‘today you will be with me in paradise’. Pius XII even spoke of it being ‘almost the first plenary indulgence’ and one which continues to be granted by the Church to the faithful at the hour of death.

The Church Fathers thought highly of the Good Thief. St Athanasius, for example, wrote:
O Good Thief, much shrewder than the first Adam! Poorly advised, he reached out for the fruit of the forbidden tree and infused in himself and in all of us the venom of death. Better advised, by reaching out to the sacred Tree of the cross you recovered Heaven and earned Life! O blessed thief, who found the means of carrying off the most wonderful treasure! O blessed thief who imitated Judas’ betrayal, but the one betrayed was the devil!
St John Chrysostom saw him as a great sign of hope for ‘no one, henceforth, will be able to despair his salvation when he sees a man guilty of thousands of sins cross the gates of the Kingdom. With a simple word, a single act of faith, he bounds ahead of the apostles into paradise.’ Indeed,

1st APRIL - SAINT NONIUS ALVARES PEREIRA Rel, Prior ON


Today we honour of our new saint, canonised by the Holy Father in 2009.  His feast is a Memorial in the New Rite of Mass, and kept as a commemoration in the Extraordinary Form, as it always falls in Lent.

He was born Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira on 24 July 1360 at Santares, Portugal and he died Easter Sunday, 1 April 1431.  He was a cousin of the founder of the Braganza family, the royal house of Portugal. 

He entered the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and of Rhodes at the age of 23.  At the age of 25, while serving King John I as Constable he defeated a much larger invading Castilian army, thereby assuring Portugal’s independence. Renowned as one of the most famous knights of his age in all of Europe, he was Constable of the Kingdom of Portugal and also Prior of our Order in Portugal.

He was outstandingly generous and charitable towards the poor, and in later life became a lay-brother in the Carmelite Order where he was remarkable for his devotion to Our Lady and humbly undertook the meanest of duties.

Blessed Nonius, you protected a kingdom but also served the lowest.  Pray for Our Grand Master and for our Order, for all our members and benefactors and for those whom we strive to serve.
Collect from the Missal of the Order
O God, who called Saint Nuno to lay down the weapons of this world
and follow Christ under the protection of the Blessed Virgin,
Grant through the intercession of this former member of our Order
that we too may deny ourselves and cling to you with all our hearts.
Through the same Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you an the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.