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


It is Lent – it is good to go to daily Mass whenever one can, and especially in this holy season, but it is also good to go to Mass together. Catholics are not just individuals, but form a community; Members of the Order of Malta form a specific community, so it is good to do things in common.  For that reason, these Masses are arranged. 

Wednesday 28th February, the Conventual Mass, of the Lenten feria, will be sung in the Lady Chapel of St James’s, Spanish Place at 7pm by Father David Irwin, Conventual Chaplain ad honoremto whom we are very grateful.


The second Friday of the season of Lent, Friday after the first Sunday, was in many places celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Lance and the Nails of Our Lord's Passion.
The Lance and Nails on a stola of the Professed of our Order,
showing also the Crown of Thorns from last Friday's feast.
VERE languores nostros ipse tulit, et dolores nostros ipse portavit : et nos putavimus eum quasi leprosum, et percussum a Deo, et humiliatum. 
V. Foderunt manus meas et pedes meos.

R. Dinimeraverunt omnia ossa mea. 
Oremus. DEUS, qui in assumptae carnis infirmitate, clavis affigi et lancea vulnerari pro mundi saluti voluisti : concede propitius : ut qui eorumdem clavorum et lanceae solemnia veneramur in terris, de glorioso victoriae tuae triumpho gratulemur in coelis. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Let us continue to pray, on the Fridays of Lent, for the wellbeing of our holy Order, and for the strength in a time of trial for our beloved Religious members, who through all their human frailty, have dedicated their lives to our sanctification.

We have been asked the whereabouts of these holy Relics.  The relic venerated as the Holy Lance is now kept in Vienna, having for a millennium been in the care of Holy Roman Emperors. The reliquary contains also one of the Holy Nails, the latter has been authenticated as 1st century Roman.  Other Nail relics are variously in Rome, in Trier, in Milan, in the Holy Crown of Lombardy and elsewhere.  All may be truly venerated as relics of Our Lord's Passion, even though there are too many.  This is no cause of scandal or humour, but a refection of the genuine piety of our predecessors.  We must not lose sight of the fact that in our own Order we legitimate may venerate three heads of our holy Patron.


This Saturday provides an opportunity for us all to attend Mass on the Ember Saturday, also the Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle, with the Order's monthly Day of Recollection at the Little Oratory.  Next Wednesday, 28th February, is the Monthly Mass at St James's Spanish Place.  See below for details of each.

The February Day of Recollection will take place on Saturday 24th February at the London Oratory.  Through the kindness of the Oratory Fathers, Lauds, Mass, Vespers and Benediction, and the Spiritual Conferences will take place in the Little Oratory; lunch will take place upstairs, in St Wilfrid’s Hall. The day will be led by Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory, a chaplain of the Order since 1995, and well known to most through his long involvement in the life of the Order.
As ever, everyone is welcome: ALL members of BASMOM, other members of the Order in Britain, Companions and guests.



Lauds (choir dress for Members of the Order)

First Spiritual Conference followed by Confessions and the recitation of the Rosary.
12 noon

Mass (choir dress)


Second Spiritual Conference

Vespers, and Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (choir dress)

No formal arrangements will be made for lunch.  For those who wish to bring something with them, we will ‘picnic’ in St Wilfrid’s Hall.  Feel free to bring things to eat and drink which may be shared, bearing in mind that this is for many people a fast day.  Some may wish to go to a local hostelry.  The day will resume with the second Spiritual Conference promptly at 2pm.  A donation of £10 per head will be asked for on the day, to cover the costs of the clergy.


Wednesday 28th February, the Conventual Mass, of the Lenten feria, will be sung in the Lady Chapel of St James’s, Spanish Place at 7pm by Father David Irwin (correction) to whom we are very grateful.

EMBER DAYS - this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week are the Lenten Ember Days: days of fasting and abstinence, and days of prayer.
Shadrach, Michach and Abednego saved from the Fiery Furnace by an Angel.
This story is commemorated each Saturday of the Ember days (except for Whitsun).
The word 'Ember' is a corruption of the Latin Quatuor Tempora, via the Medieval German Quatember, and thence by easy corruption of dropping the first syllable by our Germanic antecedents into 'Ember'.  It has nothing to do with embers or ashes.  Quatuor Tempora, of course, come from the simple fact that other are four such sets of three days within the year, in Lent, in Advent, between Whitsun and Trinity, and the week after Holy Cross Day in September. So these days begin, sanctify, and prepare us for, the four seasons of the calendar year. They remind us of our humanity, that it is by living our lives in the physical world and the flowing seasons that we shall attain our salvation. In our material and deracinated age this is all the more immediately needful.

On these three days Catholics traditionally refrain from all flesh, and have only one full simple meal. It is also highly desirable to make every effort to attend Holy Mass on each of these three days if possible. It is also a good time to get around to making our Lenten confession if we have not yet done so. We are also, by ancient tradition, enjoined to pray especially for our priests on these days.

These days, and this holy season of Lent, are given to us for our sanctification, let us use them wisely!  We know neither the day nor the hour.  
All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. 
A time to be born and a time to die. 
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. 
A time to kill, and a time to heal. 
A time to destroy, and a time to build. 
A time to weep, and a time to laugh. 
A time to mourn, and a time to dance. 
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. 
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. 
A time to get, and a time to lose. 
A time to keep, and a time to cast away. 
A time to rend, and a time to sew. 
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. 
A time of war, and a time of peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
This Ember Friday of course coincides with the traditional Passion feast (which post will appear in due time) of the Holy Lance and Nails. Liturgically, where celebrated, this feast would 'trump' the Ember day (which would be only commemorated) in both Office and Mass, though not, of course, affect the fast. The feast is by its nature sorrowful in character, so this represent no inconsistency. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that today these are only private devotions, however laudable, especially within the Tradition of the Order of St John, with its great emphasis on Our Lord's Passion. The calendar and office of the Church in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms have lost these pious observances, even in those few places where they were once solemnly observed. In the Extraordinary form the Ember Days continue, of course with their implicit obligations; in the Ordinary form they are at the direction of the local Bishop's conference.


One of the added advantages of membership of a religious Order is that one gets extra feasts.  So while everyone else is continuing with the Lenten obligations and fast, and keeping this first Tuesday of Lent as a Lenten Feria, we in the Order of Saint John are invited to celebrate with joy the Dedication of the Conventual Church of Saint John of Jerusalem in Valetta.
The Church, the centrepiece of Grand Master de la Valette's new city, is now the Co-Cathedral of Saint John.  In it are buried most of the Grand Masters, and many knights, beneath its magnificent inlaid floor.

This is also, by custom of Holy Mother Church, the day upon which other churches of the Order, the date of consecration of which is unknown, are celebrated, and thus this day is kept as the Dedication of our own eponymous Conventual Church in Saint John's Wood.  Pray for all those who worship and minister there, especially the Chaplain, Fr Hugh MacKenzie, and that the Order may once again have fruitful use thereof.
O HOW awesome is this place, this is none other than the house of God and the gate of Heaven. 
V. This is the house of the Lord, strongly built.
R. It is well founded upon firm rock. 
Let us pray. O GOD, who for us bring each year the recurrence of the consecration day of your holy temple, and always bring us back safely to the sacred rites, has the prayers of your people and grant that whoever enters this temple to pray for blessings, may rejoice in having obtained whatever he sought. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.


Moses, by Michelangelo Buonarotti
Tomb of Pope Julius II
The Prophet writes to us of our modern world:

From the Canticle of Moses (Deuteronomy 32: 10-18)
HE FOUND them in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert. 
He shielded them and cared for them, guarding them as the apple of his eye. 
11 As an eagle incites its nestlings forth, by hovering over its brood, 
So he spread his wings to receive them, and bore them up on his pinions. 
12 The Lord alone guided them, no strange god was with him. 
13 He had them ride triumphant over the summits of the land, 
and fed them the products of its fields; 
He suckled them with honey from its rocks and olive oil from the hard stony ground; 
14 Butter from its cows and milk from its sheep, with the fat of its lambs and rams; 
its Bashan bulls and its goats, with the cream of its finest wheat; 
and the foaming blood of its grapes you drank. 
15 So Jacob ate his fill, the darling grew fat and frisky; you became fat and gross and gorged. 
They spurned the God who made them 
and scorned the Rock of their salvation. 
16 With strange gods they provoked him, and angered him with abominable idols. 
17 They offered sacrifice to demons, to “no-gods,” to gods whom they had not known before, 
To newcomers just arrived, before whom your ancestors had never stood in awe. 
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, 
you forgot the God who gave you birth.

Let us pray:
HEAR O Lord, our humble prayers, and grant that may devoutly keep this feast that has been established to cure our souls and bodies, Though Christ our Lord. Amen. (Collect for Saturday after Ash Wednesday. Tr Christine Mohrmann.)


In some places this day, the Friday following Ash Wednesday, was celebrated as the Feast of the Most Holy Crown of Thorns.
The Crown of Thorns, brought to France by Saint Louis, which is kept,
since the Revolution, in Notre-Dame in Paris.
EGREDIMINI, et videte, filiae Sion, regem Salomonum in diademate quo coronavit eum mater sua, parans crucem Salvatori suo. 
V. Plectus coronas de spinis.
R. Posuerunt super caput ejus. 
Oremus.  PRAESTA, quaesumus omnipotens Deus : ut qui in memoriam passionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi Coronam ejus spineam veneramur in terris, ab ipso gloria et honore coronari mereamur in coelis. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Let us pray especially this year on these Fridays of Lent, for the wellbeing of our holy Order, and for the strength in a time of trial for our beloved Religious members, who through all their human frailty, have dedicated their lives to our sanctification.


The teaching of the Traditions of Holy Mother Church are ever new in each successive age.  So we do well to look back to those who have taught us in the past.

The excellent Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia in an article on the perennial doctrine of the Church in the case of morals reminds us of Erasmus's book Enchiridion militis Christiani or The Manual of a Christian Knight. (click the Latin title for a scan PDF copy.)

The Archbishop (here) quotes C S Lewis, describing Christianity as a “fighting religion.” In an article which should be both pleasing and approachable to a British readership, he appeals to us in the modern world to stand up for our duties to society, the family and the Church.
Desiderius Erasmus, by Holbein

Rule 1: Deepen and increase your faith.
Rule 2: Act on your faith; make it a living witness to others.
Rule 3: Analyze and understand your fears; don’t be ruled by them.
Rule 4: Make Jesus Christ the only guide and the only goal of your life.
Rule 5: Turn away from material things; don’t be owned by them.
Rule 6: Train your mind to distinguish the true nature of good and evil.
Rule 7: Never let any failure or setback turn you away from God.
Rule 8: Face temptation guided by God, not by worry or excuses.
Rule 9: Always be ready for attacks from those who fear the Gospel and resent the good.
Rule 10: Always be prepared for temptation. And do what you can to avoid it.
Rule 11: Be alert to two special dangers: moral cowardice and personal pride.
Rule 12: Face your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Rule 13: Treat each battle as if it were your last.
Rule 14: A life of virtue has no room for vice; the little vices we tolerate become the most deadly.
Rule 15: Every important decision has alternatives; think them through clearly and honestly in the light of what’s right.
Rule 16: Never, ever give up or give in on any matter of moral substance.
Rule 17: Always have a plan of action. Battles are often won or lost before they begin.
Rule 18: Always think through, in advance, the consequences of your choices and actions.
Rule 19: Do nothing — in public or private — that the people you love would not hold in esteem.
Rule 20: Virtue is its own reward; it needs no applause.
Rule 21: Life is demanding and brief; make it count.
Rule 22: Admit and repent your wrongs, never lose hope, encourage your brothers, and then begin again.
These rules are good counsel for all members so the Order, but it should be remembered that Erasmus was writing for men, and for young men actively involved in the world.  Women will have different priorities, and differing roles in society.  To end with a quote from Archbishop Chaput's letter which need repeating over and over again in our topsy-turvy age:
Maleness, brothers, is a matter of biology. It just happens. Manhood must be learned and earned and taught. That’s our task. So my prayer for all of us today is that God will plant the seed of a new knighthood in our hearts — and make us the kind of “new men” our families, our Church, our nation, and our world need.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.
All martyrs and confessors of our Order, pray for us.


We were, for much of our history, a seafaring Order.  We carried the image of Our Lady of Philermo on all our galleys into battle, and offered Mass to our blessed Virgin Mother before every battle or military engagement. 

This is a seafaring nation, the first to be dedicated to Our Lady, the only one to bear the glorious title of Her Dowry.  The land where so many Marian devotions grew and were nurtured.  A land that has known and withstood persecution of its Religion, as we do, and must, again today.

Now we, as members of the Order and as subjects of these Islands, are called upon again to invoke the name of our Beloved Mother on Sunday 29th April at 3pm in the "Rosary on the Coast".

You have doubtless all read of the Polish initiative last year, which has since been taken up also in Ireland, of a chain of Holy Rosaries recited around the nation's borders.  Well, this is the same.  A Rosary for the conversion of our society in this Nation, to build a culture of Life, and for true and Christian Peace to reign.

Having witnessed the Polish initiative, a number of the lay faithful in the British Isles - England, Scotland, Wales and their isles - have felt the same inspiration and urge to respond.

They are hoping for us to have our own national Rosary on the Coast for Faith, Life and Peace in the British Isles and are calling their brothers and sisters to such a day of Prayer and Pilgrimage on Sunday 29th April at 3pm, 2018, the fifth Sunday of Easter.

This is video explaining the event by His Excellency Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley in Scotland.
To find out more, see the Facebook page HERE

It is hoped that member of the Order and Companions will organise themselves into groups, however small, to take themselves to somewhere on the coast that day to join in the great act of Witness. Very few people live far from the coast. One is not aware of many members of the Order being unkeen on a jolly lunch by the sea, so here is chance to turn it into something truly useful!
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for Great Britain.


This is the text of Dr Cullinan's afternoon talk:
2. Looking Backwards

This morning we looked forwards to Lent and Easter. And tried to understand why we have to go through it. By looking back at human sinfulness. At Adam’s fall, Abraham’s faith, and Moses’s law. The Age of Nature and the Age of Law. And our own ages of nature and law as we grow up.

How we can want to do whatever we like, even when we know it isn’t right, even for ourselves. How we can see all rules and laws as somebody else interfering with our freedom. Or go to the opposite extreme and see goodness as just keeping a lot of rules, to please somebody else or pile up credit for our eternal profit.

We’ve seen the limits of fallen nature and of laws. Even good laws. Even God’s laws.

Perhaps we’ve seen why we need Lent and Easter, but we haven’t seen how to keep them. How to find a cure for our fallen nature better than anything law can come up with. How to find a better principle for our moral lives than keeping rules.

And to do this we’re going to look back. Not forward to Lent but back to Christmas.

But first we have to go a bit further back. Not as far as Adam this time. Just a few centuries before Christ. To ancient Greece. To Aristotle and virtue.


We are extremely grateful to Dr Michael Cullinan for celebrating Mass for us at the January Recollection, the feast of S John Chrysostom, and for his most inspiring talks, and for allowing us to share the texts with us. Please pray for him too.  The afternoon talk will follow in a separate post.

We are grateful too to the Father of the London Oratory for allowing use of the Little Oratory and of St Wilfrid's Hall for lunch.


1. Looking Forward

Last time I talked about knights on campaign, and two years ago on knights (or knights to be) at prayer. This is going to be more like a Council of War. A long speech on strategy and tactics delivered by a specialist from the staff. A briefing with a lot in it, possibly too much for you. Designed to cover the ground and brief all the different specialists  in the different aspects of military organization.

So if some of it doesn’t interest you, I don’t mind if you just let it flow over you, so long as you take something to chew over that does go with where you’re at now. So here goes.

This is a turning point for traditionalists. We really have reached a turning point.

Now, don’t any of you get nervous. I’m not making any large claims, or getting involved in weighty issues of liturgy and Church politics.

I’m only talking about today. This Saturday. And today is a turning point for traditionalists. Because today it’s time to turn away from the past and look towards the future. Once again, don’t get nervous. I’m not getting into deep waters. I’m only talking about today.


The Presentation in the Temple, by a follower of Caravaggio.
This post is very much for the benefit of members of the Second Class, in Obedience, in our Order, but speaks to the heart of every Catholic.

We are grateful to Rorate Caeli blog for bringing it to our attention, and to the author, Veronica Arntz, for her insight.

A very happy feast to all our readers, as Christmastide closes for another year. We are all closer to the grave, let us use our time wisely.

The feast of Candlemas is a rich tradition in the Church; it is a day that we celebrate many events, including the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, and the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon. In reflecting on this beautiful feast day, one common theme that we find present is obedience. Obedience is the proper response of an individual to God’s invitation and call; it is the fitting response to God’s commandments and law. We too should strive in obedience to follow the commandments of God, just as we find in the Holy Family and the aged Simeon.

The first example of obedience is Mary who, even though she was conceived without original sin, went to be purified in the Temple in accordance with the Mosaic Law. As we read, “And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’)” (Luke 2:22-23, RSV-CE).