Most of you will have your own particular memories of Fra' Freddy. Mine is one that somehow captures the very essence of Freddy’s life. The last time he came to Lourdes, Freddy was not well, but, as always, he had served my Mass with great devotion and aplomb. When I left the sacristy I found him seated with his eyes closed with no apparent movement at all. I am afraid that my first thought was:“Good heavens, Freddy has died!”and my second thought was:“What a nuisance it will be, since no one is meant to die in Lourdes because it is a bad advertisement.”At that moment Freddy opened his eyes, looked at the tabernacle and the statue of Our Lady and said:“THAT is what it is all about. THAT is why we are here in Lourdes.”He was right, of course. All of us must live each day in God’s presence, aware that prayer is not a thing of the moment but an habitual attitude of the mind and the heart. Freddy was pre-eminently a man of prayer and an example to us all of our primary duty, as members of the Order, to give glory to God by acknowledging his loving and sustaining presence.
But we must remember that Fra' Freddy Crichton-Stuart was also a man of practical, charitable, action. His work for the sick, the poor and the elderly, often done almost secretly, was a hallmark of his dedication to our secondary task in the Order of obsequium pauperum – tuitio fidei and obsequium pauperum always go together. Freddy also had a charming sense of humour. Who else would always greet me with “Cher cousin”?
After his love for his natural family, to whom we express our deepest sympathy at their loss, Freddy loved the Order of Malta. It was his second family, and his fatherly concern for the Professed was a moving tribute to his devotion to the Order.
Freddy’s manner of living his Profession was very much his own. It was not everyone’s way, but he gave an example of poverty of spirit that was notable: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God.” We must never forget that, as Christians, and particularly as members of the Order of Malta, the beatitudes are our indispensible charter of life. Freddy worked untiringly to create a sense of family in the Grand Priory based upon the Sermon on the Mount. That is what our cross reminds us. Freddy’s life is also a reminder, and a challenge, to live our lives of faith with greater integrity, to give us peace and serenity before God.
At this Requiem Mass, we are praying for the eternal rest of, and peace for, his soul; and may I use this opportunity to make a heartfelt plea. Let this Mass mark a moment of healing and peace in the life of the Order in this country, so that we can go forward to discharge our twin duties of safeguarding the Faith and service of Our Lord’s the poor and the sick with greater efficacy. This would be a most suitable monument to Freddy’s memory and one for which he fervently prayed.
The day he called the ambulance, Freddy did die. He died as he lived, praying. May we all be given such a grace.
Some have said how sad it is that Freddy died alone. No one dies alone, we all die when God calls us and at the moment when He wills it. There is a pious belief that the angel who is given to look after us in this world – and Freddy’s Guardian Angel sometimes had to work overtime – takes us into the presence of our Saviour. If we are as prepared as Freddy was to meet his Maker we might consider ourselves fortunate indeed.
Cher cousin, beloved Confrere, dear Freddy, may the angels lead you into Paradise; may Our Lady under her titles of Our Lady of Lourdes and of Philermo, take you by the hand to her Divine Son.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
“Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”