From Cardinal Sarah : "In order to avoid hearing God's music, we have chosen to use all the devices of this world. But heaven's instruments will not stop playing just because some people are deaf."                                                                                              Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!


Our Christian Sovereign meditates upon our charitable duty to our neighbour, on tolerance, on  bonds of fraternity, family and community, on Christian love and hope, and on examination of conscience and forgiveness, both on the world stage and also in our lives together, as a response to the Nativity of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour.

With her, we pray:
"O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.

"It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God,  through Christ our Lord."
Elizabeth R .



Today the Church gives us the beginning of the final preparation for Christmas, in the greater O Antiphons of the Magnificat, the gospel canticle at Vespers.

Each one highlights a title for the Messiah; also, each refers to the one of the prophecies of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.
O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”  
O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”  
O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” 
O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”  
O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”  
O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” 
O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Saviour of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.”
The words of the antiphons are an acrostic, the initial letter of each name, starting with the last, spell:

ERO CRAS - "Tomorrow I shall be here!"

The combox is open to allow pedantic corrections of the translation of "ero cras", together with other contributions and spiritual reflections on these sacred days.



The Conventual Mass at Spanish Place this evening was offered by Father David Irwin for the repose of the soul of John Raleigh Chichester-Constable, knight of Honour and Devotion, who died on 7th December, at the age of 84.

John Chichester-Constable joined the Order in 1981, a man of deep and private piety and committed to charitable work, he was a very good friend and an amiable and unassuming host to many members of the Order at Burton Constable, his family house in Yorkshire which he spent much of his life restoring with his late wife Gay.  He will be much missed.  He is survived by his daughter Rodrica, dame of Honour and devotion of the Order, and grandson Jack.

Requiescat in Pace



We are deeply grateful to Father John Hemer MHM for his most inspiring talks, and for allowing us the reproduce his notes here.
Click the "read more" link below for the full texts.  These are lecture notes, rather than finished texts to be read aloud, and are thus useful aids for private study and mediation.
There are two talks, both of which were nearly an hour long, so we are attaching below links to two PDF files, so they may conveniently be downloaded and printed for leisurely study.
Click here for PDF of first talk on St John the Baptist.   
Click here for PDF of second talk on the Prologue of St John's Gospel.

John The Baptist.

In Mt. 311-12 John presents a picture of the coming Messiah – for him Jesus - where the lines are very sharply drawn: His winnowing fan is in his hand, he will clear the threshing floor his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that never goes out.
A popular idea at his time. This is what it will be like. Once we thought all of us were the chosen people but some of us behave so badly that they must have to face retribution. And there were different definitions of who was right and wrong. People haven’t stopped being moralistic, they are just moralistic in a different way.
John’s God is not harsh or angry but just and consistent. He will not  leave goodness unrewarded nor wickedness punished. He expects Jesus to follow on from here. He also believes that the ‘Day of the Lord’ has arrived, that God is intervening in a special way.
Because of the manifest evil around him John does expect something frightening, dramatic like fundamentalists, Catholic; Protestant who wait for great portents and signs and disasters which will make everybody believe.
Perhaps Jesus’ coming gives him the courage to finally face Herod, the collaborator, fox, and that leads very quickly to his arrest. John Baptises Jesus, Jesus goes off into the desert for 40 days. John thinks “well it’s only a matter of time before Herod and all his party get their come-uppance so I can say what I want to say”. He’s not too worried when he gets arrested, Jesus the Messiah will soon sort things out. He’s spent plenty of time as a hermit in the desert so apart from the confinement prison is probably no harder and possibly easier than the life he’s led. He just sits and waits for the fireworks to begin. But they don’t.


Last Saturday some 30 members of the Grand Priory, BASMOM and Companions attended the Day of recollection in the glorious setting of St Edmund's College.  Sung Mass (in the Ordinary Form) and the Offices were celebrated in Pugin's glorious chapel, and the talks given by Father John Hemer MHM in the Shrine Chapel of St Edmund.

The texts of Fr Hemers talks will follow in the next post.  These are given for the benefit of those unable to attend, but there was much to take in, and those present will surely welcome the opportunity to study them more closely.

Before Mass, Richard Berkley-Matthews made his Promise of Obedience to the Grand Prior, Fra’ Ian Scott of Ardross, supported by Fra’ Julian Chadwick and the Lady Talbot of Malahide (Vice-President of BASMOM); and during Mass the Grand Prior renewed his own vows, supported by Fra’ John Eidinow and Fra’ Paul Sutherland.  We offer them both, on behalf of all members of the Order, the assurance of our prayers.

Fra' Duncan Gallie gave a most inspiring tour of the College and the quite wonderful Douai museum of recusant history, and the day concluded with veneration of the relic of Saint Edmund, the miraculous power of which had been described to us by Fra' Duncan, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Lord Jesus Christ, who in becoming man for our salvation deigned to assume our vesture of flesh, bless + this scapular, for your servant is to wear it in thanksgiving to you and in veneration of the blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint John the Baptist. Pour out on him, we pray, your holy blessing, so that when he first puts on this vesture, which is like unto a religious habit, he may obtain, through the prayers of the blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint John the Baptist, your grace to protect him from every evil of mind or body. We ask this of you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
I, NN, calling on the name of God, promise faithfully to observe the laws of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta; to carry our the duties proper to Knights and Dames in Obedience; and to render due obedience to whichever superior may be given to me. So help me God, the Immaculate Virgin, Saint John the Baptist our glorious patron, Blessed Fra’ Gerard our holy founder and all the Saints of the Order.


Members of the Order sat in choir for the sung Mass of this Feast at St James's Spanish Place.  The celebrant was our Chaplain, Father David Irwin.

The music at Mass was: Missa Quarti toni by Victoria, Ave Maria by Victoria, Fuga supra il Magnificat (BWV 733) by J.S. Bach

The Grand Priory's new Marian chasuble, the gift of a generous benefactor, was worn at this Mass for the first time, and can be seen in the above photograph.


Before Mass last Friday, the feast of Our Lady of Liesse, the Grand Prior, Fra' Ian Scott of Ardross, along with members of the Grand Priory and our Chaplain Father David Irwin, presented a copy of the new English translation of the altar Missal to The Rector of Spanish Place, Father Christopher Colven, on behalf of the Grand Priory. This book was given in gratitude for the hospitality and support offered to the Order over the last year. This donation had been the wish of the late Grand Prior, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, at whose instruction the book had been ordered, and in whose memory it was made.


We are greatly privileged to be able to publish the meditation given by Fr Robinson, for the benefit of members of the Order unable to attend last Friday's evening on the feast of our Lady of Liesse.  The evening began with sung Mass in Latin in the Ordinary Form, in the presence of the Grand Prior, and finished with Last Friday devotions and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
‘A favourable time for the rediscovery of a hope that is not vague and deceptive but certain and reliable, because it is "anchored" in Christ’.  Pope Benedict at his homily for 1st Vespers of the 1st Sunday of Advent in 2007.  For me it encapsulates what Advent is all about.  Advent, explains the Pope as he goes on in the Homily, is a time of expectation, characterised by ‘a movement of the human heart reaching out to the God who responds in the incarnation with that incomparable gift of which we are certain, the gift of hope itself fulfilled in the coming of Christ’.
What did the Pope mean?   The Pope’s inspiring words reflected the message of his recently released Spe Salvi (‘Saved by Hope’), Benedict’s second Encyclical, in which he called us back to recognize the treasure we have in the gift of Christian hope.  Here he called Christian hope the virtue of all virtues. Without it, said Pope Benedict, the Christian cannot move anywhere.    
It is, however, in his first seminal encyclical Deus Caritas Est, on Christian love, that we find the basis for his vision of hope.  The hope of the Christian is grounded in the relationship between God and us.  And what does this mean? In the incarnation the God-man beckons us out of our longing to find our hope completed in the gift of the Son.  It is where our desire – what the Pope calls eros love and God’s agape love meet.   
Let’s place these theological ideas in the context of our current liturgical season.  As we recommence the liturgical narrative at Advent we are embarking also on a theological journey and cycle.  The opening acts are played out on a stage which connects with humanity’s original quest and God’s definitive answer to this.  We are reliving the drama of human desire and of unconditional love, or as the Pope terms it in Deus Caritas Est of eros and agape.  This is why Advent for Pope Benedict is ‘the primordial season of the human heart’.   
Reflecting on this we might wonder too at the overall gift of a fresh Liturgical Year.  Advent gives us a fresh start as our hearts set out on a new journey.  Once again, although we know for certain that God will come, will die for us, and rise again at Easter, we are called to see our need of God, to long for our salvation, and to celebrate that as a free gift which not only completes who we are as human beings, but also tells us all about the longing of God to reveal himself to us.   
In Deus Caritas Est Benedict reflects on the nature of our eros love, of our longing, of desire for God’s coming as Beloved.  The Pope plays with this word eros and places it in a drama of Christian love which is completed in the Easter event, the culmination of the drama of human hope, expressed infinitely in the agape love with which the Christ we long for gifts our world which in all its raggedness yearns for the embrace of such a God.   
In Deus Caritas Est agape and eros come together in a new way.  We might think that eros is egoistical, a selfish grasping loving.  Benedict, however, rehabilitates eros as part of the God-human dynamic as he speaks of how this love of ardent desire is also, in a certain sense, within the very being of God himself in Christ.  The love of desire, says the Pope, is the love of the Logos, ‘a lover with all the passion of a true love’, yet this love, finding its fulfilment in God’s becoming one like us in Jesus Christ, ‘is so purified as to become one with agape’.   
God in Christ knows the yearnings of the human heart, of our desire for completion. Our Advent hope is thus assured and joyful.  It is a favourable season of true hope because Christ is truly to be one with us.  For the Pope this graced time when we celebrate our human yearning for God’s coming is integral to life’s Christian pilgrimage.  Perhaps, we might say, this liturgical time which might seem to celebrate more eros than agape is, through God’s definitive answer to our quest in the gift of the incarnation which will be sealed in the sacrificial feast of the Lamb at Easter, a lived expression of the mutuality of agape and eros love.  Both eros and agape, says Pope Benedict, ‘-ascending love and descending love- can never be completely separated.  The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the nature of love in general is realized.’   
These reflections, however, are not just for Advent.  For the Pope this theme of agape and eros is clearly chosen as one which can speak profoundly to the contemporary world of what is at the very heart of a proper understanding and living out of the dignity of the human vocation rooted in Christ.  He intends to bring us back to Christ’s love for us so we may look at ourselves, loved infinitely by him, and called forward to reconnect with our desire for what is on our infinite horizon, the hope of glory.   
As we turn our hearts and minds once more to the God who will come again as one of us and as we set out again on our liturgical pilgrimage towards Christmas and Easter we might reflect on how the grand narrative of desire and gift, of ascent and descent, of nature and grace, which the Liturgical Year expresses with such eternal beauty, is a vibrant treasure of our Catholic life.  Moreover, contemporary theological discourse needs a similar dynamic to be played out in its own theatres.  The narrative of hope, the incarnation, and journey towards the point of it all – the cross, the tomb, and the resurrection, show us in itself how the lover and the beloved are called to be in a mutual relationship in which the beloved is called to be actively engaged and so gradually discover his true destiny.   
So in Advent we place ourselves in the drama played out in the encounter of our desire for transcendence with Christ who meets us and gives to us the inestimable gift of certain hope.  As Pope Benedict assures us ‘[R]edemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey’ (Spe Salvi, Introduction).  
[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at Solemn Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent 2007.
[1] Ibid.
[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007).
[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2006).
[1] Ibid., # 26.
[1] Ibid., # 7.


Members of the Grand Priory and BASMOM will be attending the Parish Mass at St James's, Spanish Place at 6pm on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by kind invitation of the Rector.  Knights are invited to robe and sit in choir.

All members and Companions are very warmly invited to attend on this great Feast of our Blessed Lady.


The next day of recollection will take place on Saturday 10th December. We are fortunate that this will take place at St Edmund’s College, Old Hall Green, Ware, SG11 1DS. The Conferences will be given by Father John Hemer MHM of Allen Hall, the Westminster Diocesan Seminary. During the Mass, Richard Berkley-Matthews will be making the Promise of Obedience.  Mass will be sung in the fine Pugin chapel.

The day will include a visit to the College's museum of recusant Catholic history.

A charge of £20 per head will be made, payable in cash on the day, to cover the costs including a three-course lunch in the College. Those attending are asked, please, to park near the front door of the College.

Please notify the Chancellery if you are able to attend: As ever, everyone is welcome: ALL members of the Grand Priory and BASMOM, other members of the Order in Britain, Companions and guests.


SATURDAY, 10th December 2011

10.00am           Arrival, coffee and introductory talk

10.30am           Lauds

11.00am           First Conference-followed by opportunity for Confession/recitation of the Rosary

12.00noon       Holy Mass

1.15pm            Lunch
2.30pm            Tour of the College and the Douay Museum 

3.15pm            Second Conference

4.00pm            Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

4.45pm            Tea and departure


We are reminded, during this season of preparation for the coming of Our Lord and Saviour to earth, in the humility of the Manger in Bethlehem, when the secular and materialist world feasts and carouses at every turn, that we, as Catholics, are called upon by the Church, and particularly here in England and Wales by our Bishops, to observe this as a season of joyful preparation.

We are reminded particularly of the obligation to abstain from meat on Fridays (see here). This obligation, of course, walks with us every week of the year, and should be a joy as we avail ourselves of the graces it offers, but at this holy time, when social pressures are so great to join the party and to set aside our duties to God and to our own dignity as Catholic souls, we should not be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

As Pope Benedict teaches us, we have a duty to make present the Church in the secular world:
"Despite attempts to still the Church’s voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance." (Address to US Bishops' "Ad limina" November 2011)
To those of us in the Order this is part of our Tuitio Fidei, a part of our charism which we should learn to practice daily, just as we do with Osequium Pauperum. Our Lords the Poor and Sick need both.