“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie

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LA VIRGEN DEL ROSARIO

Many of our readers will have seen articles on this elsewhere in recent days, we make no apologies, however, for posting something so relevant to our shared Faith and to the glorious history of our beloved Order.

The image above is of a recently rediscovered statue of the Virgin of the Rosary, which was borne upon his flagship, the Galera Real, by Don John of Austria, Admiral of the Fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

It is upon this beautiful face, now scarred by time and the weather, that many of our brethren in the Order of Malta would have looked on the last day of their life and work for the Order, and before whom they uttered their last prayers. For them and for countless others, it was this sacred image which inspired them to one of the greatest naval victories against the mohammedan forces. The Victory was attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the feast instituted by Pope St Pius V that same year in commemoration.

For many recent years this statue has been lost, but has now been found, and is displayed in the Spanish Naval Museum. Now she is to be restored.  See the article in Spanish HERE.

The statue, of exquisite craftsmanship, delicately painted, with glass eyes, in the finest tradition of the high period of Spanish religious statuary (as seen in the London National Gallery exhibition last year), was almost certainly made in Spain, and was the gift to Don John by the Venetian Republic, as a votive offering. After the battle she was in the care of the Brotherhood of the Galleys in the church of St John de Lebron in Puerto de Santa Maria near Cadiz in southern Spain. Later she was in the possession of the  Spanish Royal Naval College, where the weather took a further toll.

For over four hundred years, her sad expression has retained the awful memories of the dreadful battle; the single glass eye which now stares out at us once surveyed all the bloody horror of war. May her pious regard continue to inspire all Christians in our own generation in our battle for the Catholic Faith.
The Battle of Lepanto.  The Admiral's galley is in the centre foreground, one row back.
It is on the quarterdeck that the statue stood during the battle, sadly unseen in this painting.
(Click to enlarge painting)
HOLY VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY, PRAY FOR US

(H/T to WDTPRS and Hermeneutic of Continuity)

REPORT - WEDNESDAY'S CONVENTUAL MASS

The Conventual Mass on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul was celebrated by Father David Irwin as a sung Mass in the (rather crowded) Lady Chapel of St James's Spanish Place, in the presence of the Grand Prior. A schola of members of the Order and Companions was led by the Chancellor, Fra' Duncan Gallie. 

The Mass was said for the intention of the repose of the soul of Fra' Richard Cheffins, and the intention for the living for a friend of a member of the Order in great distress. Your prayers are requested for both.

As this feast closes the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, a cause so very dear to the heart of the Sovereign Pontiff, the Octave prayers for all those Christians outside Holy Mother Church were said after the Mass, before the singing of the Inviolata.

In the oecumenical spirit which befits this glorious Feast, it is worth recording that at the customary Papal Vespers on this day at the basilica of St Paul without the Walls, the Anglican representative was a member of our separated brothers in the Venerable Order of Saint John, Canon Richardson, who attended in his Order choir dress, representing the Archbishop of Canterbury. Vatican television has a recording of Vespers available HERE.
Canon Richardson sits below the papal throne at the left, while on the far right is
His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, representing the Oecumenical Patriarch.
It is worth noting that Vespers was sung entirely to the traditional gregorian chant, and the Faithful joined in throughout singing alternatim with the choir. No patronising concessions were made to congregational singing, for instance the very complex tone of the office hymn was sung by everyone, and it was thus proven how well the Faithful will sing even unfamiliar tones when encouraged to do so. It is a joy for the Grand Priory of England to have such a noble lead to follow in the excellence of the Sacred Liturgy and music!
 FOR UNITY
Let us pray: O God, in Thy mercy thou dost set aright those who have gone astray and Thou dost save those whom Thou hast gathered together. We beseech Thee to pour down upon all Christian people the grace of union with Thee, so that putting aside disunion and attaching themselves to the true shepherd of Thy Church, they may be able to serve Thee humbly and lovingly. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

FRA' RICHARD CHEFFINS RIP - YEAR'S MIND

The Mass at Spanish Place this Wednesday 25th January at 6.45pm will be celebrated for the intention of Fra' Richard Cheffins, who died on the 26th January, 2011. Please pray for the repose of his soul. Even if you are unable to attend the Mass, please remember him in your prayer intentions on that day.

Requiescat in Pace

NEXT WEDNESDAY 25TH JAN - CHANGE TO MONTHLY MASSES

The Conventual Masses of the Order in London, which have recently been taking place weekly at St James’s Spanish Place on Thursdays, will be replaced with a monthly Mass on the last Wednesday of the Month, at Spanish Place, starting next Wednesday, the 25th January 2012.


The Masses will begin at 6.45pm.  They will be a sung Mass, and will be followed by a short drinks reception in the Presbytery, by courtesy of the Rector.
The dates for the Year 2012 are as follows:
January 25th – Conversion of St Paul
February 29th – Feria of Lent
March 28th – Wednesday in Passion Week
April 25h – St Mark the Evangelist 
May 30th – Wednesday in the Octave of Pentecost 
June 27th – Votive Mass “Contra Paganos
July 25th – The Feast of St James. As this is the Patronal Feast of the Parish we shall join their Mass at 6pm.
August 29th – Beheading of St John the Baptist
September 26th – SS Zachary and Elizabeth, Parents of St John the Baptist (anticipated) 
October 31st – Votive Mass for Vocations
November 28th – Votive Mass for the intentions of the Grand Master 
December 26th – St Stephen (Boxing Day) No Mass 

EPIPHANY HOUSE BLESSING

The Church offers us many means to acquire the graces we need for our salvation, among these today is the blessing of our houses on the Epiphany.

This blessing is recommended for all Catholic houses, to help resist all the usual temptations under which we live, but particularly for those which are the family home of children and young people, who can benefit from these additional aids to combat the difficulties of growing up. It is also a fun way of teaching the young children.

The traditional prayers may be found HERE in English, or in a copy of the Roman Ritual, or in some old hand-missals. These blessings do not need a priest, but are frequently and traditionally said by the father of the household.  If you have holy water at home, this may be sprinkled by him on his family and in the main rooms. 

After the blessing, the doorpost or lintol of the front door is marked as below, without additional words, with a piece of ordinary white chalk.  In some countries of central Europe and in parts of the USA, it is customary for the chalk to be blessed by the Parish Priest at the morning Mass, but unblessed chalk may be used just as well if none other is available.

20+C+M+B+12

Between the numerals of the year, the letters stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat (Christ bless this house) and correspond happily with the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Baltahzar, who visited the dwelling of the Holy Family on this day.

As this Feast is transferred to Sunday in many countries, and now also for the time being in England, this Blessing could sensibly be done after Mass this Sunday. For those who visit our houses and see it, it is also a simple piece of Tuitio Fidei, and Catholic witness.

TUITIO FIDEI - POVERTY CHASTITY AND OBEDIENCE - THE TRUE FREEDOM

For the benefit of members of the Order we post below a short interview with a monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte Madeleine at Le Barroux in southern France, in which he explains the three evangelical cousels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience which constitute the vows of life of most of the religious orders and societies in the Catholic Church.  They are called 'evangelical counsels' or the 'counsels of Perfection' as these precepts come from our Our Lord's own teaching in the Gospels.

We should not forget that all Christians are called by Him to this way of living as often as they can, not just those formally set apart as 'religious'. Each counsel opposes one of the three great hindrances to the spiritual life: the love of material goods, the pleasures of the flesh, and the desire for worldly honour and power.  These counsels are not of merit or virtue in themselves, but only when they are practiced for the love of God, and in perfect submission to His will for us.

Within the Order of Malta, the professed knights (knights of Justice) take these three vows, in common with all the ancient religious orders, for whom they form a perpetual obligation.

As in the modern age knights live within the material world, and not in community as once they did, it is helpful to understand the Order's interpretation of the vow of Poverty in this context, which differs from that of  the enclosed monk or priest in community who literally owns neither his clothes nor his books. By ancient tradition it is also known as the vow of 'perfect Charity', and it is in this understanding that it is best understood for the knight of Malta. It is fulfilled by using only that minimum which is necessarily to maintaining our life in the world, without causing scandal of ostentatious denial or of excessive consumption, and submitting obediently to one's superior's will for the use of the surplus for charitable purposes. Each knight will determine the balance with his superior and his spiritual director. Canonically, regardless of how this may be interpreted in practice of local fiscal laws, all the goods of the solemnly professed knight are the property of his priory for his lifetime. 

The other two vows of Chastity and Obedience are much more clearly understood for the knight within their context in the monastic life, and are very beautifully expounded by the monk in this video.

For those not living in a life of celibacy, the life of Chastity is still required of all of us. Especially for those of us living in Marriage, we should not forget that if forms part of the marriage vows. Secular priests too take the vows of Chasity and Obedience, but not of Poverty. It is wrong, as is so often done, to see these three states of life as being somehow in opposition, but rather they are different ways for us each to follow the same goal of personal sanctification, within fidelity to our chosen life. Christian Charity requires us to support and pray for each other's vocation.

Obedience, as we know, has a very special, and indeed unusual, place within the life of the Order of Malta, and our monk's explanation cannot be bettered for the knight in Obedience, uncomfortable as it may sound to many ears.

This video will be of benefit to all Christians in all walks of life.  They are not easy paths, but their rewards are beyond our imagination.

Please pray for this monk and his community.


(H/T : NLM)