“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

RECENT POSTS

FEAST OF BLESSED GERARD, FOUNDER OF OUR ORDER


We are pleased, in this year of the ninth centenary of our foundation to post the address from the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, Monsignor Antony F M Conlon, Conventual Chaplain ad honorem, on the occasion of the Feast of our blessed Founder. This text is rallying cry for all members of the Order to renew our hearts within the 900 year old tradition we have inherited, through true conversion of spirit, for our own sanctification and the good of Our Lords the Sick and Poor.

TUITIO FIDEI 

The annual Mass for the Feast of Blessed Gerard provides us with an opportunity to revisit our original raison d’etre and recall the antiquity of our Order. In the coming twelve months we shall celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Papal Bull, Pie postulatio voluntatis. That reminds us that we were defined as an exempt religious order, directly responsible to the Holy See in providing care for the sick and also temporal and spiritual defence of the Faith. Those three words should never be far from our reflection of what it is for which we stand. Paschal II, who issued that bull has gone down as one the weakest pontiffs of his age. His reign was beset by opposition from the German Emperor, Henry V and three anti-Popes, Theodoric, Albert and Sylvester. But perhaps, despite his known timidity and weakness he may have been prophetic in one sense. Under pressure at home and beset by enemies he reached out to a new and vigorous source of spiritual and militant support emerging from the re-conquest of the Holy Land. By giving pontifical approval to the Order he linked his office directly to its future medicinal and military mission. He would not be the first or the last pope to seek to resolve major issues of contention in the Church by a bold and novel initiative appealing to the loyalty and generosity of Christian souls. 

Down through the centuries, the Order has continually reprised its original terms of reference in relation to its role in charitable endeavour and loyalty to the Catholic Faith. Even in the darkest times of the Order’s history in different parts of Christendom, the flame of fidelity to the needy in body and soul and to the Holy See has never been entirely extinguished. 

The urgency and exigency of that sacred trust still continues to inspire and draw volunteers and supporters to our banner. Today, we have (thank God) no difficulty in attracting helpers to assist the general effort of aid to the needy or an increasing number of candidates for the specific vocation to religious life that is still the very core of the Order’s existence. The afflicted in every accessible place still benefit from our ministry. The call to defend the moral, metaphysical and doctrinal truths of the Church is also being increasingly answered. 

And yet, if we are honest, we know that all is not entirely as it should be. Was it ever? Sometimes the appearance of tranquillity on the surface can be misleading. It is only the when the boat begins to rock that the awareness of troubled waters becomes apparent. So, it becomes imperative that all hands be on deck and alert to do battle with the elements. The spiritual conflict in which we have to engage is a perennial one that is a necessary part of the larger cosmic struggle that goes on unseen. 

The world is being won for Christ with heroic souls fighting against apparently insuperable odds and supernatural enemies. Nobody present in this church as a true believer can be indifferent to this reality. But it can make us timid or confused about what to do next. Fortunately, the leadership of the Church today is in stronger hands than was the case in 1113. 

Nine hundred years after Paschal II, we are fortunate to have at this moment, occupying the Throne of the Apostle, a pope of indomitable courage, accessible wisdom and indefatigable effort. In his recent and timely call to Catholics everywhere, identified in his document “Porta fidei”, issued in preparation for the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a summons to serious prayer and reflection about the past 50 years. He is not asking for slogans, schemes, programmes or renewal, structural changes or soundbite spirituality. The refuse tips across the country have long since been filled with unread heaps of such useless documents. He is asking for sound doctrine and faith to return to all our churches, schools, seminaries and religious institutions. He is holding up for our edification and education, the consideration of the positive fruits that have come and could still come from a proper assessment of the Second Vatican Council. 

This is no easy task for us. Our minds and our culture have been for so long conditioned to the false interpretations and misrepresentation of the Council’s documents that many faithful and clergy are still in thrall to them. We need to rid ourselves of these notions. If our original purpose of radical attachment to tuitio fidei and obsequiem pauperum still has the same vigorous application for us as it had in the 12th century, it is our duty to rally to the Pope’s call for spiritual reawakening. One way accessible to all of us is that of St Therese of Lisieux- making every little action of service count as a gesture of love and even the smallest prayer offered one of utter sincerity and devotion. Such apparently inconsequential elements have the power to move mountains. 

Let us not look to see where others are going wrong or who else will lead the charge. Unity and strength comes with the resolve to individually do the best we can under the banner of St John, despite our differences in temperament, age, talent and gender. May Our Blessed Lady of Philermo, St John Baptist and Blessed Gerard come to our aid.  Amen.

Blessed Gerard, pray for us.

PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS


This Saturday, the 6th of October, is the First Saturday of the month and the first anniversary of this project which was initially started on Facebook in answer to the request of the Grand Master to pray for an increase of vocations of professed knights of the Order. Our Brethren in the United States, who have responded to this initiative, offer us the following opportunity for Tuitio Fidei - without the professed we cannot pursue this necessary work of the Order.

We are invited to consider making a holy hour praying for the intentions of an increase of vocations to the First Class or Professed Knights of the Order and the sanctification of all members and their works. If you cannot make a full hour please try and offer at least a few minutes of the day asking Our Lady of Philermo for her intercession for these intentions. Since we started this day of prayer we have had one vocation to the novitiate and another who has recently begun the process toward entering formation. Let’s pray that we can see at least five new vocations by next October. Below are two prayers for vocation which may be of assistance.
Eucharistic Holy Hour Prayer for Vocations

O my Jesus, I have come to spend this hour alone with you, in humble petition for an abundant increase in vocations to the professed knights of our Order. You have said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to His harvest.” Encouraged by your words I come into your presence and confidently present my prayers in your sight. Graciously bestow upon Your Church an abundance of vocations to the professed knights. Enlighten the minds and hearts of many to respond to your invitation to heroically labor for the salvation of souls through service to the poor and in defense of the Faith. Gather under the standard of the eight pointed cross a multitude of men willing to give their very lives for the sake of the Gospel. May all those who feel your call stirring in their hearts join the ranks of those already working for the new evangelization of the world. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen. 

Vocation Prayer for Professed Knights of the SMOM

Blessed Gerard, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many young men to follow you in serving Christ in “our Lords the Sick” As the founder of our Order, continue to inspire talented and devoted men to consecrate their lives to God as professed knights. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem generous and sacrificing men, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of tuitio fidei and obsequiem pauperum.  
Our Lady of Philermo prepare your sons to be worthy of the grace of the Hospitaller vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”
St. John the Baptist as patron of our Order strengthen with courage and conviction those called to wear the eight pointed cross of the Order. Pray that they may be filled with constancy, strength, and zeal to be witnesses of Christ’s saving presence in the world, serving Him faithfully and beyond reproach. Amen.
Oremus pro invicem.

HISTORIC VIDEO ARCHIVE OF A BLESSED OF THE ORDER - CARDINAL SCHUSTER


The See of Milan has released video footage of Blessed Alfredo Ildephonso Cardinal Schuster OSB, Archbishop of Milan from 1929 to his death in 1954, and late Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order. The video (which has no sound) shows the Cardinal being received solemnly in a carriage at the steps of the Duomo as he takes possession of his cathedral, and vesting at the throne.

The wonderful informality of the execution of ornate and complex ceremonial is a joyful illustration of the true liturgical tradition of the Roman rite, and therefore even in this way this great teacher can guide us fruitfully in the reforms of our Holy Father Pope Benedict.


h/t to New Liturgical Movement
Blessed Ildephonso Schuster, pray for us.

REPORT - HOLYWELL PILGRIMAGE 2012


This year the Order's Pilgrimage to the medieval shrine of Holywell, North Wales, started in the ancient market town of Ruthin. While there pilgrims were able to pray at the spot where, in 1679,  Blessed Charles Meehan, a Franciscan, gained the unsought distinction of being the last Catholic to be martyred by hanging, drawing and quartering. After Mass on Saturday morning in the tiny Catholic church of Bala the pilgrims visited various sites along the "Pilgrims' Way" which goes from St David's to Holywell. Sunday, as usual, started with Mass in the parish Church of St Winefride's followed by a hearty lunch provided by the sisters who run the Pilgrim Hospice. It ended with prayers at the Shrine led by our chaplain Fr. Mark Elvins. Next year the pilgrimage is booked for a week earlier than usual - 26th-28th July - in order to avoid a clash with the Welsh National Eisteddfod.

Saint Winifrede, pray for us.

FATHER HUGH THWAITES, SJ. RIP

We announce the death of Father Hugh Thwaites SJ earlier today.  Please pray for the repose of his soul. 

He converted to the Catholic faith as a result of his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. He never bore resentment for his treatment, reasoning that the Japanese guards did not have the benefit of the Christian faith. His approach to evangelisation was direct and simple because he understood the truth and beauty of the Christian faith and wished others to benefit from it. 

Father Thwaites always spoke in a kindly and gentle manner while firing off spiritual advice that could blow you off your feet; he was a priest who made many converts almost instantly by his sincerity and holiness, and converted countless lukewarm Catholics to a deeper following of Christ. He was passionately devoted to the Rosary, loved the older form of the Mass, and remained faithful to the traditional Jesuit daily spiritual exercises. (Notes courtesy of Fr Tim Finigan)

Father Thwaites, always otherwordly, was a true friend of many members of the Order of Malta. He will be much missed.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for him.
Saint Ignatius, pray for him.

Requiescat in pace.

OBSEQUIUM PAUPERUM - CASTLE CRAIG

The Annual Open Day at Castle Craig, at West Linton in Peebleshire, which provides a most entertaining day of festivities and activity for a number of Our Lords the Sick, organised by Mr and Mrs Peter McCann, took place on Saturday June 30th, under considerably brighter skies than endured by those in the South. The Grand Prior, Fra' Ian Scott of Ardross, commends this rather moving video of the event to our readers, which shows a significant contribution to the necessary hospitaller work carried out by members of the Grand Priory. All those involved in the work of organisation are to be warmly thanked.


Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us,
Blessed Adrian Fortescue, pray for us.

TUITIO FIDEI - BEING PREPARED

We do not often on this Blog publish things which do not come directly from the work of the Order, but we are grateful indeed to a post from our friend Father Zulsdorf, about a young man in the army.

While at first glance this seems to have little directly to do with the life of a modern knight of Malta, in fact the spiritual desire to be daily prepared and armed for battle is something to which we should all strive.

This is a report from a young officer on the front line, who was formerly a seminarian before deciding to join the army. As such, he may perhaps share much with the traditional character of our Order. We shall let him speak for himself. The letter is addressed to Fr Zulsdorf.
"I know you often preach the use of vesting prayers for Mass, and after seeing something today, thought you may appreciate knowing what I witnessed. 
"As a backround, I am a former seminarian who left in good faith. I later felt a calling to, and joined the armed forces becoming a commisioned officer. In my time as a seminarian, I grew an appreciation and facination for the vesting prayers (which the priest says) before Mass, but have never had quite the appreciation as I do now, finishing up my tour in combat. 
"I lead Soldiers as a full time job now, part of my job is leading the recovery of destroyed vehicles and ensuring personnel make it back to safety when things go for the worse. I always say a quick prayer as I put my equipment on, as it is the one physical thing often protecting my life from leaving this world when I am in the open. 
"Past myself however, I have been stuck recently with a sense of amazement as I have witnessed my Soldiers ‘vest’ in their armour before we head into an area we know will be dangerous. Everytime, no matter their beliefs on the divine, or how excited or scared they may actually be, I have noticed every one of them has at least a moment of reflection or invocation, as their myriad of equipment is hastily put on by themselves and their brothers. 
"I know there are many seminarians, Priests, and we can only hope… Bishops that read this site. I myself consider what I do a trifle in regards to what the Priest does as he ascends calvalry in the Divine Liturgy. While accidental when considered to the substance of the Mass, I hope all Priests realise and take the time to meditate on what is happening as they vest in the armour the Church has provided for her Soldier. We need them to build this fundamental block, it will keep them alive and healthy for the Church Militant. 
"End point, I just felt like I was suppose to share this experience with you."
Each of us should begin our day like this, whatever battle-dress our own vocation gives us. The robing prayer of the Order, to be said by every knight as puts on the Order's habit, is one which we may fruitfully say each day with our day clothes:

Clothe me, Lord, with the robe of salvation,
and may I wear the mantle of justice.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

For those of us the Grand Priory of England, it is worth noting that this image of a praying knight is the heraldic crest of the Grand Prior, Fra' Ian Scott of Ardross.


Please also pray for these young men and women at war.

Saint Michael, pray for them and for us.

PRINCE WILLIAM INVESTED AS KNIGHT OF THE THISTLE


At the annual ceremony of the Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Thistle in Edinburgh last week, Her Majesty the Queen invested Prince William, Earl of Strathearn as a Royal Member of the Order.

As ever, our confrere Peter Beauclerk-Dewar, Knight of Honour and Devotion of our Order, and Falkland Pursuivant Extraordinary to the Court of the Lord Lyon, assisted with the Royal procession. In the video above, courtesy of BBC Scotland, he can be seen undertaking what must have been the most pleasurable duty of greeting Her Royal Highness the Countess of Strathearn, the Duchess of Cambridge in England, on one of her first official visits to Scotland. This may be seen at 1:09 in the video.
Saint Andrew, pray for us

FEAST OF BLESSED DAVID GUNSTON M ON

The Order in England is blessed with many English saints, who act both as intercessors and examples to people living and working in our own troubled age. Blessed David is one of them.
Icon by Olga Shalamova with Philip Davydov
Sir David Gunston (or Gonson) was a member of an English naval family who was received into the Order at the Auberge of England in Valetta on 20 October 1533.

He served on the ships of the Order in the Mediterranean until 1540 when he returned to England, by which time Henry VIII had suppressed the Order in his kingdom by an Act of Parliament of 10 May 1540. David Gunston was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1540 and was condemned to death by an Act of Parliament in 1541 for denying the authority of the King in spiritual matters, and there is little doubt that he died in the cause of religion at the time when the Order was suppressed in England by Henry VIII. At Malta, against the name of Sir David Gonson in the register of the Knights of St. John, a subsequent hand has written "The Good Knight".

He was hanged, drawn and quartered at St. Thomas' Waterings, Southwark on 12 July 1541. Pius XI declared him Blessed on 15 December 1929.

Collect of the Mass.
O God, who made of blessed David a notable champion of the Catholic faith whose martyrdom shed glory on our Order, grant that he may stimulate us to defend the unity of your holy Church. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessed David Gunston, Pray for us and for England.

SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE

Following recent post, and an article about the deputy prime minister Mr Clegg, our readers are once more asked to turn their attention to an article of "gay marriage" at the Daily Telegraph, in which a poll is being taken. At the moment, rather cheeringly, the results are 46% against "gay marriage". We would encourage you to VOTE (here), to improve these statistics.

As a parenthesis to this article, our attention is drawn to a post on Rorate Caeli, HERE, in which the teaching of St Thomas More on conscience and the power of Parliament may assist us, as Catholics, to form our own consciences in line with the mind of Holy Mother Church. "An Act of Parliament, directly oppugnant to the laws of God and his holy Church..." A man of clear words. Pope John Paul proclaimed St Thomas Patron of statesmen and politicians by the Apostolic letter "E Sancte Thomae Mori" in October 2000.  His teaching is thus as relevant to us today as ever.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, pray for us.

REPORT - DAY OF RECOLLECTION

A truly glorious day would be a fitting description of the Dorchester Day of Recollection yesterday. Nearly two dozen members of the Order, including several coming for the first time, Companions and friends came together in the delightful setting of Saint Birinus, under tentative sunshine, for the Patronal Feast of the Grand Priory, Blessed Adrian Fortescue. 

During the Mass two members of the Grand Priory renewed their Simple Vows for the second time, Fratres Paul Caffrey and John Eidinow. The vows were received by Fra' Duncan Gallie, Chancellor, on behalf of the Grand Prior, who is in Moscow with the His Most Eminent Highness the Grand Master at the opening of the Russian exhibition to celebrate the 900th Anniversary of the Papal Bull. (See the previous post about the icon of Our Lady of Philermo.) 

As on previous such happy occasions, we were the guests of our extremely generous host, Father John Osman, Chaplain to the Irish Association, and it was a great joy to welcome among our fellow guests five members of the Irish Association, present to support their brother Fra’ Paul.
The roof of the parish church of St Birinus
The Mass, and Benediction in the afternoon, were ably served by two faithful young Companions. The celebrant was the Chaplain of the Grand Priory, Monsignor Antony Conlon, who also gave the two Conferences upon the Homily of Cardinal Pole for the re-erection of the Grand Priory of England of the Order in 1557, given to the Tudor nobles and the burghers and merchants of London at the ceremony at Whitehall Palace, in the presence of Queen Mary, following Mass at Westminster Abbey.

The texts of the conferences are available as a PDF download by clicking HERE.

Blessed Adrian Fortescue, pray for the Order in England.
The 14th C Jesse window in the mediaeval Abbey

900th ANNIVERSARY - OUR LADY OF PHILERMO'S SUMMER JOURNEY


From the Osservatore Romano of 2-3 June 2012, we reproduce the following article:

MUSIC AND SILENCE DURING THE NIGHT
Music and silence are two ways to reflect on the transcendent, and for this reason the Franciscans at Assisi are organising a cycle of concerts this summer, while also promoting a special evening opening of the sanctuary for silent prayer.  
From the 6th July, in the large cloister of the proto-convent of the Porziuncola, and in the papal basilica of Santa Maria degli the Angeli, many musical events of special interest will take place. "Angelic Harmonies" is the title of a cycle of concerts offering sacred programmes of varied types, and which will conclude on 16th September with Haydn’s “The last seven words of Christ on the Cross,” performed by the Quartetto Rosamunda. Everything — the organizers explain — is under the sign of Love, by which one can be drawn closer to the contemplation of beauty and consolation, for the edification of the soul, as so desired by St Francis of Assisi. 
During the same period this year the sanctuary will stay open late in the evening. Until the Feast of Saint Francis, October 4th, faithful and pilgrims coming to Assisi will be able to remain in prayer in the Porziuncola from 9pm to 10.30, at which hour Compline is said before closing. 
But the initiatives also extend beyond the boundaries of Italy. The papal basilica is participating in an exhibition, dedicated to the treasures of the Order of Malta, that will be opened on July 5th in the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. 
The Franciscans decided to loan the icon of the Virgin of Philermo, Patroness of the Order of Malta, and the object of a pilgrimage of knights who come together in Porziuncola every year to venerate it.  (Translation by Conventual Church Blog)
This is not, of course, the true icon, but the Russia copy which is in the custody of the Franciscans at Assisi, and which is so familiar by reproduction to members of the Order.  The true icon is in Montenegro.  The copy was made by Tsar Paul of Russia, following his 'election' as Grand Master.  See the History of the Icon HERE.
The Moscow Exhibition forms part of the nonocentenary celebration of the Papal Bull of Pope Paschal II formally erecting the Order in 1113.  It will be attended by His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master this summer.  SEE LINKS HERE, and HERE.

MARRIAGE IN THE SCHOOL CLASSROOM

We have received an email from COALITION FOR MARRIAGE, which has been sent to everyone who signed the Petition, so one would hope that all readers of this blog will have received it, but this post acts as a gentle reminder, and to fill any gaps. Please act TODAY and contact your MP. 

We post the text below: 
Dear marriage supporter,

A national newspaper today reveals secret emails between the Home Office and the Department for Education which make clear that redefining marriage will have an impact on what is taught about marriage in schools. 
We would like you to email your MP about this matter — more about that in a moment. 
Hidden information 
It is outrageous that this information was hidden from the public when the consultation process was ongoing. Officials and ministers knew there was an issue, but said nothing to the public.
The secret Government emails came to light following a Freedom of Information request. They show that Government officials were worried about how the media (and therefore the public) would react if it became known that redefining marriage would affect school lessons.
Officials wanted “defensive lines to take” with the press, should the matter come to light. One official said they knew it was a potential “minefield”. 
How it affects schools 
Under the current law, schools are under a legal duty to teach children about the importance of marriage. If marriage is redefined, it will affect what children are taught about marriage in the classroom.
The Government emails conclude with a document approved by schools minister Nick Gibb, which makes clear that education guidance about marriage will be affected if marriage is redefined.
It just goes to show that redefining marriage is no modest measure. It reaches down into everyday life, even into the classrooms of our children and grandchildren. 
Contact your local MP
Please email your MP (Click here to find his address) about this matter today. 
If you are parent or grandparent, say so.
If you are a teacher, say so.
If you aren’t a parent, grandparent, or teacher, please still write to your MP.
Tell your MP about today’s press story, and include this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167472/Schools-teach-pupils-gay-marriage-passed-law.html
Say you are opposed to redefining marriage and you are deeply concerned about its impact on schools. 
Also include some (but not all) of these points: 
Say the rights and beliefs of parents should not be undermined by schools.
Ask what would happen to a parent who objected to gay marriage being taught.
Ask what would happen to a teacher who objected to teaching gay marriage to children.
Say schools should concentrate on the basics of a decent education, not promoting the redefinition of marriage.
Say it is outrageous that this matter was hidden from the public during the consultation process.
 
This news shows why we need to keep up the pressure on the Government.

SERMON ON SAINT JOHN'S DAY


Preached in the Church of the London Oratory on the Order's Celebration of the Feast of St John the Baptist, by Father Ronald Creighton-Jobe Conventual Chaplain, ad honorem

At the very heart of the Christian faith is an astounding paradox, that the eternal word of God chooses to empty Himself of his glory and takes human flesh in order to live for us, die for us and rise for us, so that we might share His life with the Father in Heaven. 

It may not have escaped many of you that the Order of Malta also has many paradoxes. 

It is Sovereign, without any real territory, and that Sovereign status exists only so that it may carry out its work of service. 

It is Military, without having gone to war for many centuries, yet, it is called on to do battle to protect and safeguard the Catholic faith. 

It is a Religious Order yet those who take vows continue to live in the world, bearing witness to their determination to observe the Beatitudes in a special way. 

Its head is a Prince and Grand Master, with the rank of a Cardinal, but he is called Fra' Matthew because he is our brother as well as our superior. 

How do we resolve these many paradoxes? The answer is this: that perhaps they are insoluble and that Almighty God calls us to live our lives as members of the Order of Malta accepting these conundrums and learning to grow through them by living with them.

Nevertheless, there is a solution on the supernatural level and that is to put into practice the two great virtues that marked the life of our heavenly patron: humility and charity, “I must decrease; He must increase.”

Humility is a very elusive virtue and has nothing to do with being abject. It means accepting one’s own frailties and limitations and those of others without despair or anger and asking for the grace to grow through this knowledge. That is what wisdom teaches us.

Real charity is sometimes uncomfortable. St John the Baptist, as the last of the prophets, exercised the role of being the conscience of God’s people and he was martyred for his efforts. Here is another paradox: he is a martyr, before the Christian church was founded but, nevertheless, he was truly a martyr.

Living in humility and charity, which is essential for all members of the Order, does not just depend upon ourselves but requires a daily rededication to the ideals of the Order which it has tried to maintain for nearly a thousand years.

Soon the new members entering the Order will be reminded that to be a part of the Order of Malta is an honour and indeed it is. However, honour in the Christian sense demands responsibility and gift of self to God and to others. It also includes a sense of obedience, for what does it mean to be a military order if no one obeys?

At this Mass today, we should rededicate ourselves to the high ideals of the Order of St John. We should also remind ourselves that we belong to a worldwide family and try to live that dimension with greater fidelity and determination. We cannot serve our Lords the Poor and the Sick unless we see in them a reflection of the presence of Christ, who died for each and every one of us. We must also try harder to see their presence in one another, otherwise our lives as members of the Order cannot be fruitful: “Love one another as I have loved you.” said Our Blessed Lord.

The Feast of St John the Baptist should be a source of joy, strength and hope. We ask for his intercession and that of Our Lady of Philermo to help us in this high and noble endeavour.

A BLESSED FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST


So that these your servants can, with all their voice,
sing of your wonderful feats, clean the blemish of our spotted lips.
O Saint John! An angel came from the heavens to announce to your father
the greatness of your birth, dictating your name and destination.
He (Zacarias) doubted these divine promises and was deprived of the use of the speech;
but when you were born recovered the voice that had been lost.
Still locked in your mother's breast, you felt the King's presence housed in the vestal womb.
And prophet, before being born, you revealed this mystery to your parents.
Glory be to the Father and to the engendered Son;
glory similar to the Holy Spirit that is knot of both, for every century. Amen

Saint John the Baptist, Patron of our Order, pray for us and for Our Lords the Sick and Poor.

REPORT - SAINT JOHN'S DAY

Lt Col Brian Forsyth, retiring Director of Ceremonies,
receiving the award of Officer of Merit with Swords
in the Order Pro Merito Melitense
The Annual Order Mass was celebrated at the Brompton Oratory yesterday morning, a pontifical votive High Mass of Saint John the Baptist, the celebrant was Archbishop Mario Conti, assisted by our chaplains, Father David Irwin and Paul Chavasse of the Birmingham Oratory, in the presence of the Grand Prior, Fra' Ian Scott of Ardross, who was attended by the Chaplain of the Grand Priory, Monsignor Antony Conlon.  The homily was preached by Father Ronald Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory (a copy of the text will be posted when it becomes available). 

The church was well attended by members of the Order, their relatives and friends, who welcomed and seven new members, and the recipients of the Order "pro Merito Melitense".  Please pray for our new knights and dames. 

At the start of the day, His Excellency the Grand Prior received the renewal of vows of Fraters Julian Chadwick and Paul Sutherland. Your earnest prayers are asked also for them. Photographs will be available early next week, and a selection will be posted here.

Photographs may be ordered by applying to the Chancellery, basmom@btconnect.com

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

7 JULY - DORCHESTER DAY OF RECOLLECTION


Following last month's very successful recollection, which took the shape of a pilgrimage to the newly-erected shrine at Pugin's abbey church of Saint Augustine at Ramsgate, on their patronal feast, the next day of Recollection will take place at Dorchester-on-Thames, courtesy of our friend and chaplain Fr John Osman.

The date will be Saturday 7th July.  The Patronal Feast of the Grand Priory, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, which normally falls on the following day, being a Sunday, will be anticipated.

The recollections will be given by the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, Monsignor Antony Conlon. Those wishing to attend should inform basmom@btconnect.com as usual. As always this is open to all members of the Order in Britain, Companions and guests. For those driving down by car, the postcode for the Church and Presbytery is OX10 7JR.


HORARIUM
SATURDAY,7th JULY 2012

10.00am           Arrival and coffee

10.30am           Lauds

11.00 am          First Recollection

12 noon            Anticipated Mass of Blessed Adrian Fortescue M, Patron of the Grand Priory

2.30pm             Second Recollection

300pm              Vespers, Holy Hour and Benediction

4.15pm             Tea


An opportunity to visit the remains of the mediaeval Abbey will be available after the formal programme of the day.


NEW VATICAN WIDGET

Should you scroll down the sidebar, you would find the new "Vatican Widget", of which there is a picture above, a means of linking to the latest news from the Holy See.

This has been distributed to websites and blogs by the Servizio Internet Vaticano of the Directorate of Telecommunications, as a means of furthering the Holy Father's apostolate of spreading the Papal Magisterium by modern means of communication.

Through it you will find links to regular features on the Vatican.va website, such as the Angelus addresses, papal messages and encyclicals, as well as video links to the Papal ceremonies and other significants events.  It seems quite well thought through, and promises to be useful.

Its working is self-explanatory once you start clicking the links it contains. It also has rather cool YouTube and Twitter links at the bottom, giving real-time information. These people are serious.

For those who think this is all a bit eccentrically intense or esoteric, one would point out that the Holy See has invested considerable effort and many millions of euros into internet and television technology, and much care is put into the presentation of the various events, so it may safely be presumed that this is a legitimate wish of Pope Benedict. The Church cannot stand still, as he teaches us regularly.

W shall leave the 'combox' open and should be grateful for comments on this: as to its benefits; how it fits into this blog; or how it might be improved. Constructive suggestions will be forwarded to the Servizio Internet Vaticano.

Saint Isidore of Seville, Patron of the internet, pray for us.

THE MONTH OF MAY

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. 
Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. 
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.  AMEN.

MASS FOR SIR JOHN KEEGAN OBE

photo © Jeff Gilbert/Daily Telegraph
On Saturday 28th April 2012 Dom Aidan Bellenger OSB, Abbot of Downside and Conventual Chaplain ‘Ad Honorem’ of the Order, celebrated a most moving Mass at the foot of the bed of our confrère Sir John Keegan, the eminent military historian, now largely confined to bed through ill health. Gathered round Sir John’s bed for Mass were fourteen others, including his wife, three of his children, his son-in-law, one of his grandsons, and six other members of the Order in choir dress at Sir John’s request, among them the Vice-President of BASMOM. 

Sir John was in very good spirits and after Mass enjoyed talking individually to those present, who remained in his room for drinks. Lady Keegan then hosted a most enjoyable informal lunch. Sir John and Lady Keegan’s lovely house, on the edge of the village and next to the medieval parish church, provided the perfect setting, and many commented on the beauty of the gardens as seen from Sir John’s bedroom window. 

All are asked to remember Sir John Keegan and his family in their prayers.

MONASTIC SILENCE - A HISTORY

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch delivers the second Gifford lecture, THE TRIUMPH OF MONASTIC SILENCE, to the University of Edinburgh on 24th April 2012 in Saint Cecilia's Hall Edinburgh.

It embraces the emergence of new positive theologies of silence in the mainstream Church from the third century, and their possible sources: the coming of eremetical life in Christianity and the place of silence in the development of monasticism. 

The transformation in its use and function after the Carolingian expansion of Benedictine monastic life, and the remarkable further development through the great years of Cluny. Counter-currents on silence in the medieval West, and the significance of hesychasm in the Byzantine world.

Neither Edinburgh University, nor Professor MacCulluch, are usually regarded as exponents of Catholic teaching, but this series contains many points which will assist us to discern and deepen our Faith.

This lecture is part of series on Christian Silence, details HERE, the others, including Silence up to and including the Reformation period.  They may be found on YouTube HERE.

REPORT - MASS ON FEAST OF SAINT MARK

The Monthly Mass on the Feast of Saint Mark was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form with fitting splendour by our chaplain Father David Irwin. Fra' Ian Scott, the Grand Prior, and Chancellor Fra' Duncan Gallie were in choir with several members of the Grand Priory and British Association,  and the Mass was ably served by young Companions under the direction of our new confrere Peter Allingham, whose election to the Order was confirmed by Sovereign Council last Saturday. Many congratulations to him. This opportunity for younger members and potential candidates to join in the religious life of the Order is a very welcome development, and those, like these young men, who are involved in the hospitaller work of the Order elsewhere are strongly encouraged to attend these Masses, and complete the double charism of the Order, Obsequium Pauperem et Tuitio Fidei.

The liturgical high-point was nonetheless the truly splendid schola, Saint James's parish Gregorian Schola, who have been planning to sing for these Mass for some months, but this was the first convenient time for everyone. This skilled group, formed about 18 months ago, has undergone some quite intensive training with the monks of Solesmes, which has truly paid off.  This evening the ladies' voices sung alone, quite an unusual and delightful experience, which demonstrated not only the beauty of God's gift of the voice to these singers, but the fruits of much practice. It shows what can be achieved by a relatively small number of people conformed to the mind of the Church, and is an example and challenge to parishes around the world. We look forward to hearing them again.

The Mass was followed by a reception in the Rectory dining room, courtesy of the Rector.
The Ladies' Voices of the Gregorian Schola

MONTHLY MASS - FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST

St Mark's Tower, Qrejten Point, Malta, built as one of thirteen
defense towers by Grad Master Martin de Redin, 1657 to 1660
Wednesday 25th, the Feast of St Mark, is the Monthly Mass of the Grand Priory and British Association.  The Mass, at St James's Spanish Place, will be celebrated in the extraordinary form by our chaplain Father David Irwin. The parish Gregorian schola will sing the Mass.

All members, Companions and friends are encouraged to attend the Mass, which will begin at 7 o'clock. It will be followed by a brief reception.

FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE OUR PATRON - DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE

On this day of national rejoicing, we are reminded, by email from the Coalition for Marriage, of the importance of continuing our witness in this national issue. In the 10 weeks since the coalition was formed, it has gathered 450,000 signatures.  There is now a drive to reach half-a-million by the end of next week.

If you have not signed up yet, for any reason, please do so NOW. Paper copies may be downloaded HERE.  Or visit the website HERE.  There is an excellent 'briefing' resource of what we would call 'apologetics' HERE, explaining the arguments, for use in the workplace or dinner-parties.

Remember also the importance of having Masses said for this intention.

Whatever you do, please just don't do nothing.

MEDICAL ETHICS - A STORY WITH A HAPPY ENDING

The BBC has today published the story of a young man involved in a car-crash, whose family had to resist medical pressure to switch-off life support systems whole he was in a coma. The video demonstrates the dangers of hasty decisions, and of not losing sight both of the power of modern medicine, and of the power of prayer and human courage. All these can act together to bring about what some might justly see as miraculous results. Read the report here. (The viewer below seems not to be working, the video may be watched in the link previously given.)

                

                

                

                

                

            

HOLY FATHER'S BIRTHDAY MASS

The Holy Father celebrated Mass on the occasion of his birthday in the Capella Paolina, with his brother Don Georg Ratzinger, the Papal household, the college of Cardinals and members of the Curia and their families.

The news service of Osservatore Romano has graciously provided photographs.  It might be worthy of note that the altar in this chapel is so arranged that Mass may also be celebrated facing towards the people.

As ever, His Holiness offers us a wonderful example of Tuitio Fidei in his Homily, linking the certainty of our future life to the history of the Church, through consideration of the recent Easter mysteries; we give an extract here below.
The day on which I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. At that time [1927], the practice was still that of anticipating Easter Vigil on the morning, after which the gloom of Holy Saturday continued, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this peculiar paradox, this peculiar anticipation of the light in a dark day, could be almost an image of history in our time. On one hand, there is still the silence of God and of his absence, but, in the Resurrection of Christ, there is already the anticipation of God's "yes", and, we live based on this anticipation, and, through the silence of God, we feel his words, and, through the darkness of his absence, we foresee his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection amidst a history that goes on is the strength that shows us the path and helps us move forward. 
We thank the good God because he has given us this light and we ask him that it may remain with us always. And on this day I have reason to thank Him and all those who once again have made me realize the presence of the Lord, who have stayed with me so that I would not lose the light.  Benedictus PP XVI
(H/T Rorate Caeli)

85th BIRTHDAY AND 7th ANNIVERSARY OF ELECTION OF POPE BENEDICT

Happy Anniversary, Holy Father!
AD MULTOS ANNOS!

MUSICAL MEDITATIONS FOR HOLY WEEK

We give below videos of two modern musicial compositions inspired by the events of the Passion - the Pieta, the deposition of our Blessed Lord from the Cross; and the Entombment of Christ.  These are written and performed by a young composer in Norway, Rolando Gonzalez. They may be beneficial as meditations to prayer for Holy Week, perhaps in conjunction with sacred Silence during private meditation on the Stations of the Cross.

The composer has added the visual image of painting, the second video being the Entombment of Christ by our fellow knight of Malta Carravaggio, whose work is such a powerful aid to devotion.



A very Blessed Holy Week to all our readers.

HOLY WEEK AT WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL

Holy Week and Easter
at Westminster Cathedral
2012
Sunday 1st April – Palm Sunday
Mass (Sat 6pm), 8, 9am, 12.15, 5.30, 7pm
Blessing of Palms, Procession, Solemn Mass* 10am
Vespers and Benediction* 3.30pm
Confessions 11am-1pm; 4.30-7pm 
Monday 2nd April
Mass 7, 8, 10.30am (Latin), 12.30, 1.05, 5.30pm (Solemn*)
Morning Prayer 7.40am; Vespers* 5pm
Confessions 10.30am-6pm 
Tuesday 3rd April
Mass 7, 8am, 5.30pm

Chrism Mass*
12pm
Morning Prayer 7.40am; Evening Prayer 5pm
Confessions 10.30-11.30am, 1.30-6pm 
Wednesday 4th April
Mass 7, 8, 10.30am (Latin), 12.30, 1.05, 5.30pm (Solemn*)
Morning Prayer 7.40am; Vespers* 5pm
Confessions 10.30am-6pm 
Thursday 5th April – Maundy Thursday
Morning Prayer 10am
Confessions 10.30am-5.30pm

Mass of the Lord’s Supper*
6pm
Watching at the Altar of Repose from after Mass until 12am
Compline 11.45pm
The Cathedral is open 7.50am-midnight 
Friday 6th April – Good Friday
Office of Readings*
10am
Walk of Witness from Methodist Central Hall at 12pm

Solemn Liturgy of the Passion*
3pm
Stations of the Cross 6.30pm
Confessions 10.30am-2pm, 5pm-6pm
The Cathedral is open 7.50am-8pm 
Saturday 7th April – Holy Saturday
Office of Readings*
10am
Blessing of Easter Food 3pm
Confessions 10.30am-5pm

The Easter Vigil*
8.30pm
The Cathedral is open 8.30am-5.30pm, 7.30pm-10.30pm
 
Sunday 8th April – Easter Sunday
Mass 8, 9am, 12.15, 5.30, 7pm

Morning Prayer, followed by Solemn Mass*
10am
Vespers and Benediction* 3.30pm
Confessions 11am-1pm 
Monday 9th – Friday 13th April
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 5pm
Morning Prayer 10am
Confessions 11am-1pm
The Cathedral is open 9am-5.40pm 
The Cathedral Choir sings at services marked with an asterisk*
The Archbishop of Westminster is main celebrant at services printed in red

ARCHBISHOP'S HOLY WEEK MEDITATION THROUGH ART

Once again the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, visits the National Gallery to give a mediation upon the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Blessed Lord through the glorious gift of  Christian art.  A PDF file of the text may be downloaded HERE for private study.

       

LOYAL ADDRESS FROM ALL CATHOLIC SUBJECTS ON THE OCCASION OF THE DIAMOND JUBILEE OF HM QUEEN ELIZABETH

To mark the Diamond Jubilee, His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster, on behalf of all the Catholics of England and Wales, delivered an Address to Her Majesty the Queen at an audience at Buckingham Palace this week, attended by prominent Catholics from around the realm.  The full text is given below.


LOYAL ADDRESS TO HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
ON BEHALF OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ENGLAND AND WALES
ON THE OCCASION OF THE DIAMOND JUBILEE OF HER ACCESSION

YOUR MAJESTY, it is an honour and a pleasure to express the great loyalty and gratitude felt by the Catholic community of England and Wales for the outstanding and unstinting service you give to our nation and to people throughout the world.

We express these sentiments with particular warmth and admiration as you celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of your reign as our Queen.

Along with Catholics across the world, and especially in the Commonwealth, we join our prayers of thanksgiving to those of other Christians for the many blessings of your reign.

At this moment, we would like to thank you, in particular, for the gracious and generous welcome that you gave to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in his recent Visit to the United Kingdom. We recall with pride the words you spoke on that occasion, affirming our common Christian heritage and our ‘contribution to the encouragement of world peace, and to the economic and social development of the less prosperous countries of the world.’

You also spoke graciously of the special contribution of the Catholic community to the wellbeing of our society, especially in our work with the poor, the homeless and in education. We thank you for those words and assure you today of our determination to continue to make our contribution to the common good of all, committed always to a shared search for truth in the practice of daily living, for charity in daily dealings and for compassion and justice in relation to those in need.

We would also like to make our own the words addressed to you by the Holy Father: ‘The Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.’

Your Majesty, we thank you for your steadfast insistence on the great importance of our Christian faith, given in both word and example, alongside your appreciation of the contribution made by other religions in our rich and diverse society today. Our hope is that our society, enriched by the presence of many beliefs and cultures, will always maintain respect for our Christian heritage and the sure foundations it gives for a flourishing of true human fulfilment. The Gospel of Jesus, which we seek to serve, is a challenge to our society to think more deeply about the sanctity of life, the constant need for forgiveness and reconciliation, the faithfulness required in love and the self-sacrifice which brings true satisfaction.

Your Majesty, it is my pleasure to assure you of our prayers for you, now and in the future and, most especially, on the day of your Diamond Jubilee when special prayers will be offered for you and your family in every Catholic Church in England and Wales. May Almighty God bless Your Majesty, preserve you in health of mind and body and grant you every grace and blessing now and for the years to come.

REMINDER - MONTHLY MASS THIS WEDNESDAY

The monthly Mass of the Grand Priory will be a sung Mass at St James's Spanish Place at 7 pm this coming Wednesday, 28th March, the Mass of a Feria of Lent. The celebrant will be Father David Irwin.

GOOD WISHES TO OUR FRIENDS IN THE INSTITUTE OF CHRIST-THE-KING - Updated

The Lady altar at the shrine church.
Monsignor Gilles Wach, Superior General and founder of the Institute of Christ-the-King Sovereign Priest, and a good friend to the Order of Malta, who has on several occasion celebrated Mass in the Conventual Church, notably in two previous years on Ash Wednesday, will be in England this weekend for the establishment of the shrine church of Saints Peter, Paul and Philomena at New Brighton in the Wirral.

This church, known to sailors as the Dome of Home, as it is visible far out to sea from ships coming into Liverpool, will become the first in Britain to be entrusted to the Institute of Christ-the-King Sovereign Priest, a society of Apostolic life of Pontifical Right. The shrine church will be a special place of prayer and devotion open every day for adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The ceremony will be presided by His Excellency Bishop Mark Davies, bishop of Shrewsbury, by whose generous invitation the Institute have come to these shores. The Bishop will preach the homily, and the Superior General will be celebrant at the High Mass. Various members of the Order, long-term friends of the Institute, will be present.

We wish the Bishop and the Institute well in this new Apostolate in Britain, and pray that it may bear many fruits, both in the Wirral and in the wider Church in this country.

As reported here on the Diocese of Shrewsbury website, in recognition of the importance of the work of the Institute in the renewal of the Church, the Sovereign Pontiff has granted a plenary indulgence to all who attend the opening of the shrine at the Mass on Saturday morning.  We share His Lordship's evident joy in the wonderful development in his Diocese.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Prayers at the foot of the altar
UPDATE:
This was a truly glorious occasion, attended by members of the Grand Priory, including the Chancellor, His Excellency Fra' Duncan Gallie, amongst 1,000 Faithful.  The Church looked magnificent, and the ceremonies were conducted with dignity and majesty.  Bishop Davies preached an inspiring homily which may be read on the Diocesan website HERE, and their site also carries a full report HERE.  Additional pictures are available HERE, and Canon Meney's own pictures from the shrine HERE.

"GAY MARRIAGE" - ACTION NEEDED

Raphael. Marriage of the Virgin, Milan
The Government's consultation on this subject begins today, the siren trumpets sounding loud and hollow in the moral vacuum which this country has become, as the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, says that the state should "facilitate, encourage and rejoice" in people's desire to marry. It would be funny if it were not so iniquitous.

Earlier this week Tony Blair, the former Labour prime minister, publicly criticised the Church's teaching on Marriage, underlining his dissent from the statement made last week by the Holy Father (see post below) and reemphasised his enthusiasm for a policy which he has supported continuously since before his conversion to the Catholic Church, as reported in the Independent, here.  It is most illuminating that this man should support the Coalition Government on this one issue, and we can hope that it will do their cause no good.

Please SIGN the Petition at COALITION FOR MARRIAGE, here, as our Bishops have asked us.

Please also WRITE to your MP, and to 10 Downing Street.  It has been observed that paper letters, which received replies, are more effective.  Click above for the respective addressees.

Tuitio Fidei - this is why we are here in the Order.  Now is the time for action in this onslaught against humanity.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us
Queen of the Family, pray for us
St Joseph, pray for us
St John the Baptist, pray for us
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us