“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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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.