“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                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola



The Grand Priory and British Association's annual pilgrimage to Saint Winifride's Well at Holywell, North Wales, took place last weekend.
click all photos to enlarge
As ever, the weekend, well attended by some 30 pilgrims, was immaculately organised. The Saturday included a visit to the Dome of Home, New Brighton, in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, see photographs HERE.  This church has special relevance for members of the Order, as it is the home of Canon Scott Tanner, who before he went to Seminary at Gricigliano, had served the Easter Triduum in our Conventual Church in Saint John's Wood for two years.  He remains a close friend of many.

The Mass at Holywell was particularly special this year, as instead of being in the Parish Church, it was celebrated in the mediaeval Shrine Church, in which there is no record of Catholic Mass ever having been celebrated since the dark days of the 16th century, though the Orthodox have apparently used it on various occasions.  We are grateful to CADW and to the Diocese of Wrexham for  their permission and support.
The Shrine Church literally sits on top of the Well.  That is to say that it is supported by the elaborate structure of columns and arches which surround the Well basin.
At the Reformation the church was desecrated, and the altar ripped out, though the structure left intact. The mortar can barely have been dry, as it is very late Perpendicular in style.  For our Mass it was necessary to erect an altar, containing a consecrated relic stone, and this process may be watched in this video.
The Well itself is the only pre-Reformation place of pilgrimage in Britain which has known no break in the public visit of pilgrims, and was indeed visited by King James II and his Catholic Queen Mary of Modena. The Order's pilgrimage, started by Sir Jeremy Mostyn, has been running for well over 30 years.

A special moment on the Pilgrimage this year was the 70th Birthday of our Chaplain Dr Antony Conlon on the Feast of Saint Toscana, Virgin of Our Order (in some dark places Bastille Day), Ad multos annos!

More photographs of the Mass may be seen HERE.

Saint Winifride, pray for us.
Saint Toscana, pray for us.

PATRONAL FESTIVAL - Saturday 8th July

The Grand Priory will celebrate the Feast of its Patron, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, Martyr, this Saturday with Holy Mass at 11am at St James’s Spanish Place, W1U 3QY. The celebrant will be Father Hugh Allan, OPraem, Titular Abbot of Beeleigh, Prior of the Norbertine Priory at Chelmsford.

All members of the Order, Companions and friends are welcome to join in this celebration. A reception will follow the Mass.


Today, in addition to being the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, at least in some places, and of Saint Oliver Plunkett, (to whom many members and friends of the Order in Britain are related, and for whom we pray especially this day) is also the feast of Saint Nicasius, martyr of our Order.
The reliquary of the Saint in Caccamo
Nicasius holds an honoured place in the Order's calendar by sharing his feast with the Octave Day of that of our holy Patron Saint John the Baptist. 

He was born in Sicily in 1135. As a knight of the Order of Saint John, he fought as one of the defenders at the siege of Acre in Palestine and was captured and beheaded there in 1187 with many others, including, it is said, his brother Ferrandino.

There is popular belief about Nicasius still current in Sicily, and one hopes in our Order :   under his effigy, drawn on a column of Saint Dominic of Palermo, can be read this inscription, "S. Nicasius Martyr et Miles Domini nostri Jesu Christi, multas in collo habuit glandulas et imperavit a Domino nostro Jesu Christo ut quicumque nomen suum supra se portaverit, glandulae ei nocere non poterint. Amen". Therefore, our Knight was either scrofulous or suffered from scrofula as a consequence of his tortures. He will guard us from scrofula from his high place in heaven, on one simple condition: if our 'glands' worry us or trouble our children, let us write with confidence the name of Saint Nicasius and let us wear it on us or put it in the clothing of the patient; the holy Martyr will indeed know how to cure the disease he knew.

On October 4, 1996 the Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi issued a decree  to reactivate the ancient Confraternity of Saint Nicasius. The Martyrologium Romanum promulgated in 2001 by Saint John Paul II set the liturgical festivities of Saint Nicasius Martyr to the July 1 “Die 1 iulii – Ptolemaide in Palestina, sancti Nicasii, equitis Ordinis Sancti Ioannis Hiresolymitani et martyris, qui in terrae Sanctae defensione a Saracenis captus et decollatus est”. (July 1, Ptolomaides, in Palestine, to Saint Nicasius martyr, knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, who in the defense of the Holy Land was captured and decapitated by the Saracens). In Caccamo, every year, besides the liturgical festival on July 1, the transfer of the relic of Saint Nicasius is celebrated on the last Sunday of August and the following Monday.
Collect : O God, every year you give us joy in the commemoration of your martyr, blessed Nicasius: grant that through his prayers and example the companions of our Order may grow in faith and always follow you with all their hearts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


High Mass was celebrated at Noon, following sung Lauds, at the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint Gregory by Dr Antony Conlon, the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, assisted by Fr Mark Elliot-Smith, Parish Priest of the church, and Fr Christian de Lisle.
We were privilege to have been offered the use of the Parish's wonderful antique vestments bearing the badge of the Order of St Gregory the Great, a lovely œcumenical detail.

The Homily was preached by Fr John Hunwicke, of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who based his text around a visit to the Church of Our Lady and St Edmund of Abingdon, in Abingdon, which was built by Sir George Bowyer and contains a magnificent east window of Order saints, including Our Blessed Patron wearing the Cross of his own Order upon his camel-skin cloak! The churchyard is also the burial place of Montague, 6th Earl of Abingdon, an ancestor to the late Grand Master Fra' Andrew Bertie, so there are several connections to the Order.  (Sir George Bowyer was a co-founder of the British Association and the donor of our Church in Saint John's Wood, where his heart is buried.)

It was therefore doubly fitting that, as is customary for this Feast, the chalice given to Sir George Bowyer by Pope Saint Pius IX was used for Mass.

Mass was followed by veneration and benediction with the relic of Saint John the Baptist (see previous post) and then lunch in the parish rooms (where on Wednesday mornings the Order and Companions feed Our Lords the Poor) by the great generosity of some members of the Order.
Fr Hunwicke preaching before members of the Order.


Happy Feast to all our Friends!
St John the Baptist - Guido Reni
Dulwich Picture Gallery
DEUS, qui præséntem diem honorábilem nobis in beáti Ioánnis nativitáte fecísti: da pópulis tuis spirituálium grátiam gaudiórum; et ómnium fidélium mentes dírige in viam salútis ætérnæ. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum. Amen.

O GOD, who makes this day great in honour of the nativity of the blessed John: grant to Your people the grace of spirtual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful into the way of eternal salvation.Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Grand Priory's relic


Members of the British Association and Grand Priory, assisted by many Companions, were involved in Sunday's Central London Corpus Christi Procession from The Church of the Assumption Warwick Street to Saint James's Spanish Place, crossing Regent's Street and Oxford Street.

The Procession, attended by around 1500 people, the numbers somewhat down this year due to great heat, was great act of witness along busy shopping streets and among crowds of onlookers. It was a fitting response in our capital city to the call of His Eminence Cardinal Nichols in the Pastoral letter delivered that morning, of which the text is given below. 

For more photos CLICK image
The Cardinal's Pastoral Letter for Corpus Christi 2017
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, 
The words of the Gospel we have just heard contain a remarkable promise: ‘Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever’ (John 6:58). This promise of everlasting life comes to its fulfilment in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in which he not only shares our human nature, destined for death, but also gives to us the gift of new life after that death. This promise lies at the very core of our faith and it is made real, within our reach, in every celebration of Mass. In the Eucharist we come before the Lord, present to us for ever in the very act of fulfilling his promise through the breaking of his Body and the shedding of his Blood. This is the great feast we celebrate today. In the presence of this Sacrament, whether at Mass, at Benediction or reserved in the tabernacle in the silence of a church, our stance is always that of adoration.


While Gerard Mecatti was edifying Tuscany, there lived at the court of Frederick II, King of Sicily, a Knight called Gerland of Apollonia. Some say he was a German or a Pole; his origin is uncertain. We do know, however, that he had been sent to Sicily by the Grand Master of the monastery of Jerusalem to take care of the property that the Order possessed there. In the city of Caltagirone, near Licata in which the court of the king resided, no one could have believed that the illustrious Gerland of Apollonia wore a hair shirt under the magnificent uniform of his rank; the wonder would have been even greater if the court had discovered that in the solitude of his room the Knight administered to himself painful scourgings. His fasting and abstinences were frequent and prolonged. But where his sanctity clearly appeared was in his liberal alms, the help and consolation he gave to the wretched and all those who stood in need of his charity. He did not hesitate to aid those who suffered from injustice and abandonment. At his death, which occurred in 1242, there was great grief among all the poor. He was buried outside the Walls of Caltagirone, rather near the city, and miraculous cures glorified his tomb.

After nearly a century of neglect, the venerable body was brought to the church of Saint James the Apostle, patron saint of the city, amidst manifestations of popular enthusiasm. The bones were cleaned and washed in a wine which afterwards operated great cures to the number of 95, as is witnessed by a story written in a book attested to and signed by the magistrates and notaries of Caltagirone; this book is preserved in the town's archives. It was decided that the image of the holy man would be painted in the church where he rested and that his feast would be celebrated like the most solemn of the city; the feast day was to be observed on the 18th of June, the anniversary of the discovery of the holy body.

Collect of the Mass: Lord God, who brought blessed Gerland from the north to Sicily and inspired him to wear a hair shirt in place of the armour of the knights of our Order, arouse in us a zeal like his so that our lives may always aim at perfection. Tthrough our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
Blessed Gerland, pray for us


The relics Our Holy Patron in the Order's Church in the Monti in Rome
The Grand Priory, and the whole Order in England, will mark the actual Feast of our Patron with Holy Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ, at 12 noon. Mass will be followed by veneration of the Relic.

The Mass will be sung by the Chaplain of the Grand Priory Dr Antony Conlon, and Fr John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate of Our lady of Walsingham will preach.

The music will be Palestrina Missa Aeterna Christi munera with Cardoso's Inter natos mulierum.

All Members of the Order, Companions and friends are encouraged to attend.

Puer qui natus est nobis, plusquam Propheta est, 
hic est enim, de quo Salvator ait : 
inter natos mulierum non surrexit major 
Joanne Baptista.
Our Patron adores his Saviour in the womb of his holy Mother,
by the Hans and Jakob Strueb 1505 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) 
**Please note that the Annual "St John's Day" Mass and investitures will happen at the Brompton Oratory as usual on the Friday 23rd, the Feast of the Sacred Heart.**


The Chapter of the Grand Priory of England met on Saturday, 10th June, in Dorchester-on-Thames, and following Holy Mass celebrated by the principal chaplain, Dr Antony Conlon, voted to re-elect Fra' Ian Scott as Grand Prior of England for a second term. 
In accordance with the Code and Constitution and the Statutes of the Grand Priory of England Fra' Ian's election is subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Grand Master, with the deliberative vote of the Sovereign Council. If approval is received in time, Fra' Ian will take the oath of office at Holy Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ, at 12 noon on the Feast of St John the Baptist, Saturday 24th June 2017, the Patronal Feast of the Order, to which all are invited.
The Chapter expressed its warm appreciation for all that Fra' Ian has achieved during his first term, and its immense gratitude to him for accepting the burden of office for a further term. All present assured him of their prayers for him in the exercise of his duties as Grand Prior of England.
All members of the Order and its friends are asked to include Fra' Ian in their prayers as he begins his new term of office.
Our lady of Philermo, pray for him
Saint John the Baptist, pray for him
Blessed Gerard, pray for him
Blessed Adrian Fortescue, pray for him


The Annual Corpus Christi Procession through central London in honour of the Most Holy Sacrament will take place again this year on Sunday 18th June, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The intention will be for the conversion of England to the fulness of the Catholic Faith, and reparation for sins committed against the Body of Christ. 

The procession will commence from the Assumption Church Warwick Street at 17.30, arriving at Saint James’s Spanish Place for Solemn Benediction about an hour later.  The day ends around 17.00.
Proponents of true, or authentic “liberation theology” take Christ the Liberator into the public square. In the sight of onlookers, we march in His honor, profess His gift of salvation, and kneel before Him. 
We cannot honor enough this pledge of our future happiness in heaven, the Body and Precious Blood of Christ. 
I affirm my subjugation to Christ, Victor over death, hell and my sins.  Before the Eucharist, Jesus my God and King, I am content to kneel until with His own hand He raises me. 
– Fr.Z 
Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

28th MAY - SAINT UBALDESCA, Virgin of our Order.

In addition to being the transferred feast of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord, and that, in some calendars, of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, he who found the English to be both pious and comely,  a challenge to which we should well to try to live up, however difficult, today is also the feast of one of the great female saints out our beloved Order, Ubaldesca.

Window at
Saint John's Gate
She was born in 1136 at Calcinia, near Pisa. At the age of fifteen, she joined the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and worked for fifty-five years in the infirmary attached to the monastery at Pisa, caring for her neighbour out of love for God. 

Her parents, humble and simple farmers, were Godfearing people and good Christians; they taught her obedience and the love of silence which they themselves practiced. She was trained early to work at her household tasks and to pray constantly. She already macerated her poor little body and had resolved never to refuse the requests of the unfortunate. She gave them what she could and, when she had nothing to give, she offered at least the consolation of her smile, paying close attention to the tale of the troubles of each with fraternal understanding. No one left her without being comforted.

She soon understood the gravity of life and wondered what form hers should take to please God; she implored Him for guidance. At the age of fourteen, one day as she was baking the family's bread, she had the vision of an angel who ordered her to enter the convent of the Sisters of Saint John of Jerusalem. She was astonished, and said:
"But, I have no dowry. And my parents cannot give me any".
"The mothers have not so much need for dowries as for virtues", replied the angel.
Ubaldesca smiled. "But what if I have no virtues?".
And the angel in the same tone of voice: "The Holy Ghost will supply".

The messenger of God disappeared, and the girl, forgetting the oven and the bread in it, ran off to the fields where her parents were at work to tell them what had happened and to ask their permission to go away. Without more reflection or delay, the three left for the convent of St. John of the Temple of Carraia in Pisa.

Forewarned by the angel, the abbess and her forty cloistered nuns stood behind the door of the enclosure to wait for the postulant who was received as soon as she knocked. They went to the church where Ubaldesca immediately received the red gown and black cloak in the presence of her parents who wept with joy and sorrow and who returned home after having seen the doors of the convent close on their only daughter.

The next day, their supply of bread being exhausted, they remembered the bread in the oven, and not without irritation. They believed it to be completely charred. But, on removing the stone of the oven, they found the bread baked to perfection and as golden as never before. Not believing their eyes, they took it to the sisters, as a token of thanksgiving and a proof of the miracle.

Ubaldesca died on 28 May 1206. Her body was taken back to Calcinia where it is now enshrined. Not only honoured among the saints and blessed of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, she is celebrated also as a patroness of the City of Pisa. 
Collect of the Mass
O God, pride of the humble and lover of virginity, you called Saint Ubaldesca to the religious life in the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem : Grant that through her prayers and example we may rejoice in being humble and follow you with pure minds. 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.


Mattia Preti, Christ ascending in Glory
Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God: that we who believe thy only-begotten Son our Redeemer to have this day ascended into the heavens; may ourselves also in mind dwell in heavenly places, though the same Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

23rd MAY - FEAST OF BL VILMOS APOR, Martyr of Our Order

Blessed Vilmos Apor
Chaplain of the Order of Malta, Bishop, Martyr

Vilmos (William) Apor, born 1892, was an Hungarian bishop who earned a special reputation for his service to the poor, especially during the months of hardship that came at the end of World War II. Named Bishop of Gÿor in 1941, he chose as his motto: “The Cross strengthens the weak and makes the strong gentle.” During the many air raids he opened his home to those whose houses had been destroyed. When Russian troops entered the city in 1945, many women including religious took refuge in his episcopal residence. 

On Good Friday 1945 three Russian soldiers came to the residence and demanded that the women be taken to their barracks. Monsignor Apor refused and placed himself in front of the women. One of the Russians shot and wounded him. Out of fear they then fled, leaving the women unmolested. Bishop Apor lived in great agony for three days and died on 2 April, Easter Monday.

On 9 April 1947, Cardinal Mindszenty wrote to Father Csavossy, the postulator for the cause: 'I can assure you that now is the appropriate time to introduce the canonization procedures. I wish it and officially approve of it, and want the necessary steps to be taken to do the same for all priests who lost their lives when protecting women.' He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 9th November 1997.

Much historical information is given here.

The tomb of Blessed Vilmos in Gyor Cathedral, designed by the Hungarian artist Boldogfai Farkas Sándor

The Collect of the Mass

Almighty and Eternal God,
through your grace, Bishop William,
by courageously shedding his blood for his flock,
earned a martyr’s crown.
Grant that we, despite the difficulties of our daily lives,
may do your will and offer our good works
for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.
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.


Next to Saints Hugh and Ubaldesca, Blessed Gerard Mecatti is the most famous of the saints venerated in the Order of Saint John.  Born in 1174, at Villamagna, not far from Florence, he led an admirable life of humility, piety and compassion for the Poor. At an early age, he requested and obtained admission as a "servant d'armes" in our Order, in which he set an example of disinterested charity, giving all he owned to the unfortunate, living by choice in abject poverty. He died in 1245. For more biographical information, especially the wonderful miracle of the cherries at the moment of his death, read here.  

A solitary Knight, the Blessed Gerard Mecatti was able to overcome the greatest enemy of God he had met: himself, through holy silence and humiliation (cf Mgr Ducaud-Bourget). For those of our readers who are reading the recently-published new book 'The Power of Silence' by Robert Cardinal Sarah (see here), it is clear that Blessed Gerard Mecatti is very much a man of our age.  May we learn from his holy example, especially in these times of trouble.
O God, who, following the example of Thine own Son, didst bring blessed Gerard to a life of laborious solitude, grant, we beseech Thee, that by vigour of prayer and penitence, we may be strengthened to live out our Christian duties. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Blessed Gerard Mecatti, pray for us. 


Since we are an ancient Religious Order, it is fitting that the our spirituality should frequently reflect upon the past, and upon historical aspects of our faith, as we also look forward in hope.

It seems appropriate therefore to dwell for a moment, at the beginning of this Centenary Year, on this event we commemorate, the Apparition at Fatima to the peasant children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, in the wider context of 2000 years of the Church.  Pope Francis will canonise Francisco and Jacinta during his coming visit to Portugal.
Interior of the Basilica of the Rosary at Fatima,
by the Dutch architect Gerardus Samuel van Krieken
Fr John Huwicke provides on his excellent blog, a fascinating essay linking the Feast of the Apparitions on 13th May to the early Martyrs, and to the Roman Church of Our lady of the Martyrs, formerly Agrippa's Pantheon, in particular.  We reproduce his text below.  We can be thankful that, as he implies, quoting Saint John-Paul, God occasionally allows himself to make good with His own infinite memory our own rather feeble attempts to maintain an historical perspective. 
The Fatima visionaries, poor little peasant mites, are unlikely to have known this; but, in the first millennium, May 13 was sometimes a festival of our Lady within the Roman Rite. To me, who incline to share S John Paul's view that in the workings of Providence there are no coincidences, this seems interesting.  
This is how it happened. In 609, Pope S Boniface IV dedicated the old Roman Pantheon, built originally by Marcus 'Actium' Agrippa but subsequently rebuilt after a fire, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. He did this in collaboration with the emperor Phocas ... not an altogether nice chap, but possibly the last emperor, I think, not to use the style Basileus; it had thus taken more than six centuries to dissipate the old Roman gut sentiment which animated Brutus and his associates, to the effect that no-one in Rome ought to deem himself Rex ... but I'm rambling again ...  
Phocas donated an Ikon of our Lady which is still enthroned above the Altar of that Church; and the relics of many of the martyrs were disinterred and brought into the church; hence its name. This was the period when Marian Ikons, and relics of Saints, used to be processed round the wall of Constantinople when barbarian enemies appeared on the scene; I rather suspect that Pope S Boniface had in mind to construct a defensive powerhouse in Old Rome rather than merely to stimulate pious devotion. Pre-modern, and particularly First Millennium, Christianity has a very practical and down-to-earth side to it. Possibly Pope and Emperor may even have had in mind the idea that, just as Actium had (according to the Augustan PR machine) saved Rome, so the Theotokos and the Martyrs might do the same in their own day.  
In the early centuries of the English Church, this festival on May 13 seems to have been important. The Leofric Missal, the Altar Book of the early Archbishops of Canterbury, based on texts brought to England by S Augustine, includes it and, interestingly, demonstrates the continuing relevance of this festival by including in the text later scribal additions and adaptations. Perhaps the Church of S Mary in Canterbury emulated the mother church in Rome. Something similar appears to have happened in Exeter (to which the Leofric Missal was later taken), where a Saxon church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres lay, I think, West of the present Cathedral and on the same axis. 
I am sure that the significance of the Martyrs will have struck readers. The Third Secret of Fatima is full of the theme of Martyrs and Martyrdom; indeed, we are still living in an Age of Martyrs which rivals any earlier such age. I would draw the attention of those who do not know it to the official CDF documentary collection of 2000, The Message of Fatima, and especially to the fine and elegant exposition by Cardinal Ratzinger.
Sancta Maria ad Martyres, ora pro nobis.
Beata Maria de Fatima, ora pro nobis.
Beate Francisce, ora pro nobis.
Beata Jacinta, ora pro nobis.


Saint George, Patron of Christian Chivalry, pray for our Order, 
and give a true heart to all faithful knights.

St George. Rubens, 1605 - Prado
O GOD, who didst grant to Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


This ancient prayer is enjoined upon all those who hold the Order of Malta dearly in their hearts.  It has been used for many centuries at Councils, Synods, and other deliberative gatherings of Holy Mother Church.  It is taken from the Roman Pontifical, and carries a partial indulgence under the usual conditions. (Raccolta §682)

All readers of this blog are encouraged to say it daily in the coming week.
ADSUMUS, Domine Sancte Spiritus, adsumus peccati quidem immanitate detenti, sed in nomine tuo specialiter congregati. Veni ad nos et esto nobiscum et dignare illabi cordibus nostris; doce nos quid agamus, quo gradiamur et ostende quid efficere debeamus, ut, te auxiliante, tibi in omnibus placere valeamus. Esto solus suggestor et effector iudiciorum nostrorum, qui solus cum Deo Patre et eius Filio nomen possides gloriosum.

Non nos patiaris perturbatores esse iustitiae qui summam diligis aequitatem; non in sinistrum nos ignorantia trahat, non favor inflectat, non acceptio muneris vel personae corrumpat; sed iunge nos tibi efficaciter solius tuae gratiae dono, ut simus in te unum et in nullo deviemus a vero; quatenus in nomine tuo collecti, sic in cunctis teneamus cum moderamine pietatis iustitiam, ut et hic a te in nullo dissentiat sententia nostra et in futurum pro bene gestis consequamur praemia sempiterna. Amen. 

WE have come, O God the Holy Spirit, we have come before Thee, hampered indeed by our many and grievous sins, but for a special purpose gathered together in Thy name. Come to us and be with us and enter our hearts. Teach us what we are to do and where we ought to tend; show us what we must accomplish, in order that, with Thy help, we may be able to please Thee in all things. Be Thou alone the author and the finisher of our judgments, Thou who alone with God the Father and his Son dost possess a glorious name.

Do not allow us to disturb the order of justice, Thou who lovest equity above all things. Let not ignorance draw us into devious paths. Let not partiality sway our minds, nor respect of riches nor persons pervert our judgment. But unite us to Thee effectually by the gift of Thy grace alone, that we may be one in Thee and never forsake the truth; inasmuch as we are gathered together in Thy name, so may we in all things hold fast to justice tempered by mercy, so that in this life our judgment may in no wise be at variance with Thee and in the life to come we may attain everlasting rewards for deeds well done. Amen.


Members of the Order of Malta, Companions, Volunteers, friends, and those associated in any way with the works of the Order, are invited by His Excellency the Prelate of the Order, Monseigneur Jean Laffitte, to pray in the coming week for the Council Complete of State as it prepares to elect the new leader of our Sovereign Order.  There is no need to rehearse in the this place the disturbing news which has been dragged across the Internet in recent weeks, our readers are rather invited to join themselves in prayer with the heart of the Order, so that the sacred work of the service of Our Lords the Poor and the Sick, and the sanctification of individual members of the Order may continue into the future as it has for 900 years.

Those wishing to assure the Electors on the Council of their prayers may inscribe their names at this link: https://www.oremusproconcilio.orderofmalta.int/en.  An option is present for participation in various languages. 

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.
Blessed Raymond du Puy, pray for us.
Servant of God Andrew Bertie, pray for us.

Click to enlarge


The third and final part of Fr Hemer's magnificent conferences.

The Son of Man Must be Lifted Up

Eager students...
In his conversation with Nicodemus Jesus says something rather strange. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. (John 3: 14-15) It's strange because Jesus is talking in a fairly straightforward way about the effect that his crucifixion will have on believers, but he uses a rather odd and obscure incident from the Old Testament to shed light on it. We would expect something like: "Just as Moses led our ancestors from slavery to freedom, so my death will set you free." So let's take a closer look. 
Jesus refers to the incident in Numbers 21:4-9 when the people accuse Moses AND GOD of bringing them into the wilderness to die. Note their resentment is towards God, they accuse him of being a murderer, of wanting bad not good for them. They are plagued by poisonous serpents who bite and kill many of them. So God instructs Moses to make a model serpent out of bronze and set it on a pole so that anyone who is bitten can look at this serpent and live. God is telling them that despite their blasphemies and doubts, he does have their good at heart. To drive the point home he takes the thing that they fear and despise the most, a snake, and makes that the source of their healing. He is saying something like: "You doubt my ability to look after you; not only can I look after you but I am so powerful and so creative that I can work my miracles through the thing that you find most horrible, the thing that you reject and loathe."


This is the second of the Retreat Conferences by Fr John Hemer MHM.


The gardens at Douai Abbey
I’m sure many of us have seen Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ.” It was I think profoundly moving and rather harrowing. Lots of Christian commentators criticized it for the extremely graphic display of violence and brutality. I personally think that there is room for a straightforward historical account of how awful crucifixion is and the film certainly achieves that. But of course the gospel writers are not nearly as gory, the say very little about the awful physical suffering, John hardly anything. There is a reason for this. People have always found the suffering of others a form of entertainment. In the Roman Empire it was gladiatorial contests, people being thrown to the lions. In modern times there are many films which for various reasons portray suffering and violence. Think of Papillon or midnight express, 12 years a slave. Think of roots, both the original and it’s recent remake. Think of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Goodfellas, Silence of the Lambs, the Godfather, Slumdog Millionaire and many more, and we haven’t even touched the genre known as the Horror Film. The gospels don’t go there because that’s not the point. The evangelists want us to not just to observe the event but understand the deeper significance, so for instance we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus at the scene in Gethsemane. It would be easy to concentrate on the physical suffering – which was dreadful and ignore the mental and spiritual suffering, which for the Son of God, being victim of the most dreadful injustice, must have been worse. The passion is not just another story of an innocent man being brutalised.


This is the text of the first conference given by Fr John Hemer MHM at the Douai Retreat for Knights last month.  While this formed part of the Lenten retreat, it is relevant at any season, and provides, within the Easter Octave, a fitting reflection for our thanksgiving for our Salvation through Our Lord's Passion and Resurrection.

The second part, upon Gethsemane, will follow later.

Why did we need the Cross?

I began my priestly life as a missionary in Pakistan. At first I was very impressed by the call to prayer. Five times a day, from every mosque in the land you hear this chant, allah hu akbar, God is great, there is no God but God. As a Christian I can go along with that much and coming from a secular country like this where you don’t mention the name of God in polite society I found it enormously moving to hear his name invoked so publicly so often and for it to be so normal. But I soon realised that it’s true as far as it goes, but it’s nothing like enough to make the human race want to love God, to be with him. It doesn’t have anything to say to people who suffer, to people who question, to people who are oppressed by religious power. I had to go somewhere else to learn about that.


This is the second part of Dr Conlon's talk.
Lively discussion
The Power and the Glory

In the second temptation Jesus is conveyed to the pinnacle of the Temple. This most magnificent of many buildings that arose under the governance of Herod the Great, stood on a plateau. There was a corner at which the portico of Solomon met the Royal Gate and from there was a sheer drop of 450 feet into the Kedron valley. This might well have been the location for the spectacular stunt suggested by Satan. Quoting psalm 91, which was intimately connected with the Temple as a place where protection is assured to the believer, Jesus is to demonstrate the veracity of that prayer in an obvious and unmistakable manner.  He responds by a biblical dispute with the Devil. Pope Benedict, in his scholarly way sees a contemporary resonance in this outcome. The interpretation of scripture is ultimately one about the image of God that it demonstrates. And that image is formed by how Christ is interpreted. What kind of Messiah is he? We apparently have so many from which to choose. But only one is genuine; the one that recognises his complete identification with the will of his heavenly Father on the one hand, and the other, the trusting abandonment of his bodily survival to the extremes of physical destruction.


The Order's Annual Retreat for Knights was held at Douai Abbey from 31st March to 2nd April.  There follows below the texts of the first of two conferences given by the Chaplain to the Grand Priory, The Reverend Dr Antony Conlon, Two reflections based on the Bible commentaries of Prof William Barclay and Pope Benedict XVI’s book Jesus of Nazareth.  The second will follow in another post, as will the later conferences of the Retreat.

  The Spirit and the wilderness

The first thing that we need to get to clear is the meaning of the word tempt in this context. The Greek word perezein used in the Gospels should be translated as “test”. It means to entice someone to do wrong or to take the wrong way. This is a familiar theme in the Old Testament. Abraham and Moses are classic examples of it. The Jews had a saying, “The Holy One, blessed be his name, does not elevate a man to dignity till he has first tried and searched him ; and if he stands in temptation then he raises him to dignity.” The aim is not to weaken us but to make us stronger through overcoming the ordeal. It is the test which comes from God to those whom he wishes to use. Jesus is tested in his humanity as the prophets and patriarchs were. It is another example of how he submitted to every contingency of weakness to which our human nature is subject. He was not spared that mental turmoil which accompanies the moral choices that risks personal calamity and hardship by rejecting the safer path of convenience, compromise and evasion. The second thing to notice is the place of the testing: the wilderness. Again, it is the biblical setting that strips away all the props and disguises that can be used to counterfeit righteousness and virtue. There’s no possibility of escape from the stark choices that have to be faced and resolved. Jesus is about to confront his mission and the consequences that flow from it and his human resolution must be forged in the fierce isolation from material comfort that the desert represents.