As Cardinal Mercier said : "When prudence is everywhere, courage is nowhere."                                                                                  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!








The Holy Mass for the feast of Blessed Gerard was celebrated by our Chaplain Father Stephen Morrison OPraem, at St James's Church, Spanish Place, by grace of the Rector. Fr Morriosn also preached. The text is given below.  
Reverend Fathers, dear Confreres, I wish you a happy founder’s day, a joyful feast of our brother in heaven, Blessed Gerard. 

Since the historians tell us that he left this transient life between the years of 1118 and 1121, we celebrated last year the 9thcentenary of Blessed Gerard’s entry into eternal bliss. This year, being the latest date when the same anniversary might reasonably be marked, is no less an occasion of joy. (In fact, this year is also a jubilee for the Norbertine Order too, 900 years since our foundation! So much to celebrate!) Perhaps we can think of tonight, then, as the closing of a jubilee – and, we pray, the beginning of a new chapter in each of our pilgrimages. For we are all pilgrims and patients in a Hospital, the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem; the Holy Father once even referred to the Church as a “Field Hospital for Souls.” Since this is rather a beautiful expression, I shall refrain from the acid retort (tempting though it is) that, if the Church is a hospital, there are several parts of it (some rather prominent) that might qualify as its secure unit for the insane… 

But in all seriousness, yes, we are all pilgrims and patients. Blessed Gerard founded an Order, not a hospital; but it was in a hospital that he did so. And he founded it, by God’s inspiration, for us. Before we think of ourselves as running that Hospital, we need to remember that it was – and still is – run for us as well. 

We too are pilgrims to the Holy Land, we are all patients in a hospital, we are all poor and sick, in some way. At the beginning of this and every Holy Mass, we have acknowledged our war-wounds, our impoverishment, our persistent complaints of thought, word, deed or omission – our sins. And we try to empty ourselves and “detox” from all worldly cares and cures, in order to be ministered to by the Divine Physician, to whom also we will one day submit ourselves for our final examination, so that, until then, we may receive from “His Holy and Venerable hands” the eternal and supernatural remedy, the medicine of the Blessed Eucharist, the pledge of future glory, a little piece on earth of Him to whom we shall be joined forever in Heaven. For the disease of our sinfulness need not be terminal, though often chronic: we can improve; we can change; the Doctor might look pleased with our progress. After all, He has administered the cure several times. 

What Blessed Gerard understood, and left the Church as his particular legacy, is that some of these poor and sick in that Hospital were themselves called to be Servants and Carers of other poor and sick souls, in both natural and supernatural ways, both physically and spiritually; think of the paradox: brothers were called to serve their brothers; the diseased were called to nurse the diseased; the lame were called to carry the lame; was this the blind leading the blind? Bear with me… From a hospital of patients would come the Knights Hospitaller. Some of these men wounded in battle had the divine vocation to be enlisted as soldiers, knights, and defenders of the embattled and shell-shocked faithful of Christ; this is what profession and membership of our Order means. This is what working in and for the Church means. In other words, the asylum was to be run by the inmates. It should not surprise us, then, when the Church of Jesus Christ sometimes resembles (at least to those outside her bounds) a replay of “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”; for those of us who, like Blessed Gerard, are simultaneously patients and staff in the Field Hospital of the Church, know all too well our own wounds and our own suffering, but we also know the power of His wounds, His suffering, His agony – and we know that His Passion is the medicine for our own, that His Resurrection is the promise of our own, and that His care for the souls entrusted to Him by the Father is also our own task and special care. So we know what our treatment plan is. We know that one day we will leave the Accident and Emergency ward which is the world, and we hope immediately thereafter to ascend to the permanent rest of Paradise forever (with perhaps a little ‘Intensive Care’ in purgatory before we do). But we do not think only of ourselves; our task too, then, is to bring the patients in our care with us: to bring souls to Christ for Him to present them to the Father: holy, clean, and spotless, cared for, nursed, convalesced, and healed. After death, our bodies will lie in wait for His powerful “Rescuss” – when the Morgue will become as busy and as noisy as the wards – at that final day of Resurrection and Reward, when our broken bodies will rise again in a beauty and a glory that we could not possibly have imagined when our life was one of bandages and weeping sores. 

Our very presence here, as the Grand Priory of England and the British Association of Blessed Gerard’s Hospital, speaks loudly, nine-hundred years since preceding us into glory, of the power of this metaphor. For it is not merely an image for us – it is a hard reality, a practical endeavour, and a noble effort. The pilgrimage for us is real. The quest for the Holy Places is real. The building and defence of the Kingdom of God outre-mer – that is, beyond the visible boundaries of the known world – is real. Since suffering and poverty are real, our care for Our Lords the poor and the sick is real. The care we know that our own souls require is real. The Faith must be defended, and the poor cared for. Therefore, our need for chivalrous zeal and the highest standards of care is real. Blessed Gerard saw a need, and sought to supply the demand; to say that he saw only a practical need would be to miss the entire point of his life – but to say that he lived in a pious fantasy would also miss the point. Neither was true of him, and neither is (nor should be) true of us. For he was blessed to have had eyes to see and ears to hear; and he not only saw the Church and the world of his own time, but perceived a heavenly goal too, one for all time. He knew that what he did for the least of Christ’s brethren, he did for Christ Himself. Christ presented Blessed Gerard with a Cross, and He presents it to us also. Our Lord does not lie to us, as some doctors do, saying “this won’t hurt…much…” – in fact, He’s honest. He says, this will hurt; how could it not?, since it hurt Him. Yet, “by His wounds we have been healed.” Therefore we perceive reality for what it is, when we glimpse the saving power of the Cross, the nails, and the Crown of Thorns. Blessed Gerard knew the power of that Cross, and we who wear it today thank God for the White Cross of the Order and that first Hospital of St John in Jerusalem.  

Today, we remind ourselves of that origin, that first calling, which has allowed so many of our confreres since to follow in Gerard’s venerable footsteps. We too, nine hundred years later, are called to this holy endeavour. We recognise that we are the fortunate ones, poor and sick though we are, to be called to minister to the poor and the sick around us. When the Church, local or universal, starts to look and feel like a chaotic A&E after the pubs close, or if it looks like the lunatics are running the asylum, let us remember what we are offering: a Hospital run for patients by those who are patients themselves. So let us be patient… It is Christ’s Church, not our own. He is in charge, and we can have no better Physician. God diagnosed, and it is He who treats us – and with what tender compassion He does so, and with what wondrous medicine! He himself said, “it is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick;” He has come for this purpose, He will see it through, and He will care for Gerard’s Hospital and all within it. The devil said we could not be cured, we were done for, the poison within us was lethal, we were terminally doomed. But our guardian angels asked for a Second Opinion, and they who sang the Gloria when the remedy was born, sang joyfully again as it was first injected into us in Holy Baptism. Do they not sing still, at each absolution? No wonder we make our confessionals soundproof; after each good confession, it is filled with a heavenly chorus that would deafen our poor mortal eardrums. The devil’s gloomy prognosis has been confounded. For the Battle is indeed already won, though it rages on and still requires the service of knights in armour; the cure has already been found, though many still succumb to illness and require treatment; and while some show contempt and may even despise the Doctor, He nonetheless offers the remedy, inviting all yet forcing no one; He pays the price, bandages wounds, and whispers words of peace into anxious hearts. That he did so through Blessed Gerard is what we celebrate today; that He should now wish to do so through us, his Knights and Dames Hospitaller, is what must be our glad motivation tomorrow, and all our tomorrows, for at least the next900 years… For all Time belongs to Him; let us then use the time He has given each of us as wisely as Blessed Gerard did. 

For to be wise is to know ourselves to be patients as well as carers. The Tabernacle is our Medicine Cabinet, and the Church has been given its key. As we receive from it tonight a perfect dose whose potency is beyond what our minds can comprehend, may it truly be for us an eternal remedy for body and soul. Let us not hold back, out of shame, from revealing to Him the dangerous infection of our sins, our gaping wounds and their foul stench, since it is in our interests to lay ourselves humbly before Him for healing; what would make others squeamish does not horrify Him. He has already taken up the challenge of our condition. A single tear of his loving anguish, and a single drop of His Precious Blood falling upon us, is able to clean, heal and make us whole. And He provides nourishment to keep us fit and strong: food for the pilgrimage. As we have been fed, so may we feed others; as we have been healed, so may we heal others; and as we have been so generously served, so let us be generous in serving others, at His command. 

Blessed Gerard, pray for us.  



This coming week sees the Westminster Eucharistic Octave, 11th to 19th September, a week of celebration of our Sacramental Life at the Altar, beginning with a Pontifical Mass with Cardinal Nichols at noon this Saturday, at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, the Diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. During the coming week, Holy Mass in various Catholic rites offered each day at 6.30 pm, with homily, in the same church. Full details are HERE.  The Octave follows the International Eucharistic Congress held in Budapest this week.

The week concludes with the London Corpus Christi Procession, which the Order has assisted with over several years, starting at 3.30pm on Sunday 19th September at the Assumption Warwick Street W1B 5LZ, with stations at Farm Street, and the Ukrainian Cathedral Duke Street, at each of which Benediction will be given, and concluding with pontifical Benediction in St James's Spanish Place, and the wonderful Mendelssohn Lauda Sion.

In preparation for the Octave, the Diocese of Westminster has prepared a podcast, linked HERE or click below.

For those who wish to contribute to the considerable costs of the celebrations, please visit HERE.

Lauda Sion Salvatorem, in hymnis et canticis;
Ecce Panis Angelorum, datur manna patribus.


This feast of Saint Pantaleon, which falls tomorrow, upon which the Order commemorates annually a great naval victory over the Turks in 1659, seems a good occasion to publish the somewhat belated report on the Saint John's Day Mass.  The observance was instituted by Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson, the greatest Master of Rhodes.

Saint John's Day was celebrated as a High Mass, with the Chaplain of the Priory, Monsignor John Armitage assisted by Fathers Stephen Morrison OPraem and Gerard Skinner.

Monsignor Armitage's homily is given below.


Zechariah, the Father of John the Baptist, doubted the message of Gabriel that his wife Elizabeth would give birth.  "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur." Zechariah loses his voice. Contrast the next visit of Gabriel to Our Blessed Lady at the Annunciation, for this was the encounter where Mary found her voice. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to his Word.

A voice lost and a voice found. Zechariah’s voice will only return when the words of the Angel come true.  Marys “yes” was given for she was open in her heart to receive this gift for she had “conceived him in her heart before she conceived him in her womb”. 

Mary is troubled by the words of the Angel; Zechariah doubts the words of the Angel. Our Lady’s faith reassures her to put her fears aside, Zechariah’s doubt, silences him, he will not speak again until he sees, the words fulfilled in the birth of his Son John the Baptist. The words of Jesus to Thomas ring true. “Doubt no longer but believe.”

Our Lady and Zechariah, although they respond differently to the Angelic invitation, eventually arrive at the same point. It is a point of prayer and thanksgiving that became the foundation of the Churches daily prayer - Mary's Magnificat and Zechariah’s Benedictus. It doesn’t matter where we start on the journey, our faith and the mercy of God will always bring us to the encounter with the one who calls us friends.

Mary's Son will bring “his mercy on those who fear him from age to age and  fill the hungry with good things.” Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son will tell of the one who is to come who has visited his people and redeemed them, thus saving his people from the hands of those who hate us, giving us the mercy that was promised to us by our fathers. Mary is the bearer of the Word incarnate, Elizabeth will be the bearer of the Voice which will proclaim his coming. Mary the Mother of Mercy, Elizabeth the Mother of the prophetic voice who will proclaim our delivery from our enemies so that we might serve him without fear. 

These two patrons of our beloved Order, Our Lady and St John the Baptist, both announce the mercy of God, through the forgiveness of our sins, this is the proclamation of the Good News,  for he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

The Hospital in Jerusalem was under the patronage of St John the Baptist. Since the earliest days of our Order his words “He must increase, and I must decrease” has lived in the noble hearts of our brothers and sisters, who like John have stepped aside to make a way for the Lord. Mary’s faith and John’s humility are the very spiritual foundation of our relationship with Jesus. Our vocation as a member of the Order calls us to “step aside” and to give all,  to follow Christ so that we may serve “Our Lords the Sick”; we are called to “step aside” from our doubts and fears, that we may be instruments of the Mercy of God; we are called to “step aside” from ambition and greed so that we may share what we have with those who have nothing, we are called to “step aside” from the hardness of heart that restricts the flow of God’s grace and generosity in our life, so that we may become experts in humanity who by our loving service have penetrated the depths of the hearts of the men and women of today, sharing  their joys and their hopes, their anguish and their sorrows, thus we defend the Church, by serving the Sick and the poor. 

The renewal called for by our Holy Father Pope Francis is a spiritual renewal, that must be rooted in the hearts of every member, or it will not bear fruit.  Many fine words might be said and written, but they will fall on barren soil, hardened hearts.  “You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women, outstanding examples of your unchanging love.” These words from the preface of saints must become the heart of our own personal renewal, where we will understand Why we do, what we do.  What we do in the service of Our Lords the Sick and Holy Mother Church must  be grounded in prayer and  truth,  and the fruit will be a radical generosity arising from a humble contrite heart the fountain of all nobility.   Prayer will change us, the truth of the Word of God and the teaching of the Church will set us free, and radical generosity will bring to life the words of Our Lord, “when you did this to the least of your brothers you did it to me." 

We do not seek to renew the Order for the sake of the Order, we seek to embrace the words of Our Lord. “I have come bring you life and life in abundance” and we wish to share this abundance in the service of our brothers and sisters in their need.  

The challenges we face today are challenges that all of humanity faces in these difficult times. Governments and humanitarian organisations provide material resilience in the face of need, but man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. As servants of the Church, we are witnesses to the Spiritual resilience which is the Body of Christ; once again we gather around the Sacrifice of the one who says, “This this is my body and I give it to you.”  Let us “step aside” from our fears and anxieties.

St John the Baptist, pray for us

St Pantaleon, pray for us


Our Order owes much of its liturgical origins to the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.


Once again (both as he preached Blessed Hadrian Fortescue last week, and also the 'virtual' homily for the very depleted pilgrimage last year in lockdown) we are overjoyed to present the Pilgrimage Homily given formally, and in person, by Fr Stephen Morrison, OPraem, last night.

The Mass was offered by Fr Morrison at the Church of Our Lady of La Salette, Bermondsey. We had the added privilege of a visiting Oscott seminarian to serve the Mass, Mr Gregory Becket, a most felicitous circumstance, as he is of the family of Saint Thomas a Becket, to whom Blessed David's mother was related, so a cousin of our Martyr.

Grand Prior emeritus Fra' Ian Scott, and Monsignor Armitage, Chaplain of the Grand Priory, were present.

As every year, the Mass was followed by a silent walk along (to refer the Fr Stephen's homily) the Via Dolorosa of the Old Kent Road, also in happier times the Pilgrimage route to St Thomas's shrine in Canterbury.  While much of London was apprently being flooded, we hardly had any rain. The Shrine prayers at St Thomas Waterings were followed by an al fresco supper.

Here, then, is Father Stephen's wisdom.

Feast of Blessed David Gunson, Martyr

(preached the day after the EUFA Cup Final in which England lost to Italy)
It was my privilege to preach at this year’s Grand Priory patronal feast of Bd Adrian Fortescue, last week, and it is therefore a double honour to have been asked to preach also for Bd David Gunson today. While my words this evening are not exactly a “second episode,” I will begin by picking up on just one of the points I made last Thursday, which will serve as our starting point today. And it is this: it happened here. 

Last week I suggested that we take a special pride in the place and manner of our martyrs’ victory. “How proud we are that this via crucis was on our streets: the way to Tower Hill became Adrian Fortescue’s and Thomas Dingley’s climb to Calvary Hill, and the way to the famous pilgrims’ “stopping point” of St Thomas Waterings became the “statio ad Crucem” for Blessed David.” It happened here. Even more reason, surely, to pray that we, who carry the white Cross of the Order of St John, should be inspired to place our footsteps in those of Christ’s, and to climb Calvary’s hill ourselves, wherever that may be, as they did. As we make our little walking pilgrimage this evening, we might reflect that “it will be the greatest honour of our chivalry to walk in the train of the King of Kings, following the supreme witness of our confrere who once waited on and fought for an earthly Prince, and learned to do the same for the Prince of Peace.”

The events of 1539 and 1541 are not mere historical data. The red ink printed on our liturgical ordo is symbolic of innocent blood valiantly offered, the martyr’s palm, the victory laurels of heroes, and a trumpet call to the entire Church throughout the world – “Salvete, flores martyrum!” For the worldwide Order of St John keeps the feasts of Blessed Adrian and Blessed David, looking to these Englishmen for inspiration today, almost five hundred years later. Our confreres throughout the world turn to England. And what do they see? A fine sight! Not, or perhaps not only, our own delightful eccentricity…(!): rather, they see the tradition of chivalry and noble service going back centuries, with its various flowerings throughout that time, as Mary’s Dowry reveals her jewelled treasures one by one, century by century – the sons of England walk tall amid that hallowed number who distinguished themselves both in their tuitio fidei and their obsequium pauperum. And as if to reinforce my point about the “here and now” nature of our feast, even last night’s football game saw the secular world turn their eyes to our capital and see if England’s sons were up to it. They were also treated to an eccentric sight. The cup final may have ended in defeat for England, but there are some obvious caveats worth pointing out: firstly, “at the end of the day” (as they seem always to say to the press, after a game…) there are no real winners nor losers, and the comparison may seem trivial in the extreme: both teams in the cup final can surely shake hands and acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses; but secondly, and more to the point, may I confess experiencing a little frisson of spiritual joy as I hung the flag of St George from our Priory window yesterday afternoon? Yes, there is the excitement of patriotic spirit; but to those of us with the eyes of faith to see, the red Cross of our Saviour, the emblem of our martyr-patron, is perhaps enduring because it is almost a sacramental. How many red crosses like this, I thought, are now fluttering in the breeze over our land? How many are hung out by unbelievers, or even by infidels and atheists? Are they not a silent but eloquent sign to Heaven that England, somewhere deep in its soul, has not forgotten Jesus Christ and His Cross, even if it might at face value be read as if they have? Could we who believe, therefore, not turn this gesture into a prayer, sent to Heaven by semaphore, in which England begs the Lord of Calvary not to forget her, even if she has so long forgotten him - yet not quite entirely? Is not this ancient sign of knightly service, taken up by crusaders – both saints and sinners – in years gone by a reminder to us, and perhaps also to God, of His formerly bestowed gifts, and our formerly returned service? 

Call me a romantic if you will – but all it takes is a conscious act of the will, and even a humble flag-waving at a cup final can become an earnest prayer for a far more important victory. 

If such symbolism is not lost on us, then we are ready to undertake this evening’s act of devotion. Our commemoration of Blessed David Gunson is also a sign to the whole world that a Calvary was climbed here, a passion undergone here, a sacrifice offered here, one which was a conscious and free imitation of that Calvary of Christ, that Passion of our Saviour, that Sacrifice of the Son of God, offered once far away and long ago, and renewed here on our Altars. Just as the miracle of the Holy Mass brings Calvary to us, and us to Calvary, the martyrs’ deaths provide a similar point of focus, since they died in imitation of Christ and following in His footsteps. Calvary came to London, and London to Calvary. A betrayal had already taken place. Herod, Pilate, the mob – they were all there. Paradise was promised to the penitent, and fruitfulness promised to the Church, by the bravery of an English sailor, stretching out his limbs to the butchers as once a Galilean carpenter did. Oh to have the eyes of faith in which to see the realities of this mystery! It happened here. 

Suffering, in imitation of Christ, is something to which you and I are all called. And how we rebel against it! Each little inconvenience or trial, each experience of pain or sorrow, each twinge of our aching bodies and each thorn of anxiety in our souls – they are all invitations to participate in something glorious, and yet we naturally run away from them, ask the Lord to take such nails and thorns away, and may even think that we deserve better. Such a thought makes us feel ashamed, and unworthy of our calling. Don’t ask me for an easy answer to this, but how do we learn to embrace the Cross, as the saints did? Is there a way to open the eyes of our souls to see in the discomforts and sufferings of this life a real business-proposition from the King of Kings, to join Him in the enterprise of Saving the world? The currency used for this transaction is the Precious Blood, which we meditate upon this month. He pays the sum up-front, on the Cross, wiping out the debt of human iniquity. He asks only for our cooperation, our willingness to take up our own cross and follow Him. I say ‘ask’ but of course He really demands this of us, as a commandment of love, saying that if a man does not do so, he is not worthy of Him, as we read in the Gospel of the Mass (Jn 12:24-26), “Whoever serves me must follow me”. When the eyes of our confreres in the Order turn to London this evening, they see with us the worthy example of one who nobly cooperated with Christ, and took part in the economy of Salvation, wishing to lose his life in order to find it, and what a transaction it was! O admirabile commercium… The returns on his investment were beyond human imagining. In the eyes of the world, he lost everything, and England seemed to lose too. But in reality, having given everything, he gained even more – and so did England. In doing so, he was only paying in full what had already been promised before: On 12thJuly 1541 he completed the transaction first promised at his postulancy on 20thOctober 1533 and at his profession on 25thMay 1535. The First Class has many examples among its ranks of those who sealed their solemn vows in blood: “It is accomplished.” And so the passion was complete; tetelestai; and it happened here. 

Our witness today is a martyrdom of sorts; we will silently witness to the fact that grace won a victory on our streets, while the secular authorities scored an own goal. No commemorative plaque would quite do it justice. In Nazareth, the proclamation over the Altar marks the spot of the Incarnation thus: “Hic Verbum caro factum est;” the Word became flesh here. We might need something more like that for St Thomas Waterings… This station along a pilgrim’s way became a calvary for David Gunson, Knight and Martyr. Here his blood was shed, in imitation of Christ, for you and for many. But let the real commemoration not be in brass; let it be writ large in our hearts this evening. Let us tell ourselves – I will accept the Cross, I will not run away from it, I will embrace it. And let us tell Our Lord – I wish to love and follow you, my Lord, I wish your footprints to be the path for my own rebellious feet to follow. Let me do it out of love. “This is my body, given for you, this is my Blood, poured out for you.” These words of yours, Lord, Blessed David made his own… and with trepidation, I wish to make the same offering of myself, here, and now. Whatever calvary you choose for me, Lord, here – take – this is my body. Here, take – this is my blood. De tuis donis ac datis –you gave it to me, and it already belongs to you, I have already promised it back to you as a down payment for Heaven: I complete the sacrifice, I see only endless mercy in your plan for me, I’m all yours. 

And so, one man’s loss is a nation’s gain, an Order’s gain, Heaven’s gain – a win, finally, for our beloved country. 
Blessed David Gunson, Pray for us. 


We are advised that the Church of the Assumption Warwick Street, together with the Latin Mass Society, of which he was long-time chaplain, will have a sung Requiem for the late Dr Conlon, 26 years Chaplain to the Grand Priory, this coming Wednesday, 14 July, at 6.30 pm. The Mass will be celebrated by the Rector of Warwick Street, Fr Mark Elliott-Smith.

This most fitting day is Mgr Conlon's birthday.  Those who celebrate it will not have to think of Bastille Day.

You are all firmly encouraged to attend.

Requiem æternum dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.


The Solemnity of the Patron of the Grand Priory was celebrated with joy and pomp in a High Mass (OF) at Warwick Street, the celebrant being Fr Michael Lang of the Oratory, assisted by Fathers Stephen Morrison OPraem and Gary Dench. The music was sublime, under the direction of Toby Ward.

We are delighed to publish below the meditation upon one of Blessed Adrian's maxims, preached by Fr Stephen.

Fr Stephen will also be preaching for the Blessed David Gunson pilgrimage on Monday, to which people are encouraged to come (Our Lady of la Salette Bermondsey, 6pm, Monday 12th July).

Bd Adrian Fortescue, Patron of the Grand Priory of England
“Obey well the good Kirk, and thou shalt fare the better.”
- Bd. Adrian Fortescue, collected proverbs.
Although today is a feast for all of us, whatever our level of association with the Order of St John, it is a particular patronal solemnity for those members of the First and Second Classes, all those on the roll of the Grand Priory, since it is of the Grand Priory that Blessed Adrian is principal patron. Along with the sacrifices commemorated this month of the Venerable Sir Thomas Dingley and the Blessed David Gunson, we remember with pride the sons of this country who exchanged an earthly for a heavenly crown as members of the Order, all of them good servants of the Crown, but God’s servants first and foremost. Blessed Adrian died because he preferred “to obey God” rather than compromise his Catholic faith. Since Knights of Justice, and Knights and Dames in Obedience, have in common either the vow or the promise of obedience, it seems right to meditate this evening on that Evangelical Counsel, especially in the light of the palm of martyrdom. For those of us who have made a vow of that counsel, on this your solemnity, I pray that the words of Blessed Adrian scribbled at the end of a volume written in his own hand seven years before his death, may inspire you today: “Obey well the good Kirk, and thou shalt fare the better.” Taking a look again at his collection of proverbs, there are many that are wonderful. I suggest that this one - “be blythe at thy meat, and devout at thy Mass” - is one that you already keep rather well! And just as I do not reproach any of you of any lack either of blitheness or devotion, neither do intend a sermon on a martyr’s obedience to be a reproach to any of you. Far from it. No sooner do we examine the notion of holy obedience than we realise that all of us, daily, are disobedient…even though we try to obey God, our superiors, and legitimate authority, we so easily fall into sin. As my novice master told me, the conventual life will hopefully keep you poor, and chaste, to a far greater degree than if you were in the world. What it cannot make you is obedient. Obedience is tough. Those of you in vows, and those of you in obedience, stand to gain a great deal from our confrere Blessed Adrian’s intercession, who urges us with a smile to obey well the good Church, that we may fare the better for it. 

Before examining the virtue of obedience, let us remember that, one thing that makes it easier is precisely our conventual life, in whatever form that takes. We obey God and our superior together. Yes, only I am responsible for my own will, my own decisions, my own free choices. But this virtue is not lived individually, but collectively. Obedience makes collective existence possible and indeed fruitful. We will see how it brings freedom, the freedom to choose God above all else as the martyrs did, but it is a collective freedom, one which brings a common purpose, a common peace, and a common good. So, together with Adrian, Thomas and David, our saintly confreres, let us seek and find that purpose, that peace, that good. 

“Obey.” Obedience is at the heart of the life of the Trinity – because the Son obeys the Father. St Paul reminds us that Christ was humbler yet, “obediens usque ad mortem,” when He embraced the Cross to accomplish the Father’s plan of salvation. Every martyr adds his own blood to Christ’s when he walks the via crucis to martyrdom. How proud we are that this via crucis was on our streets: the way to Tower Hill became Adrian’s and Thomas’ climb to Calvary Hill, and the way to the famous pilgrims’ “stopping point” of St Thomas Waterings became the “statio ad Crucem” for Blessed David (come with us on Monday to retrace this latter sorrowful and glorious way). Obediens usque ad mortem. Our Beatus was obedient to the Good Church, because he was united with Christ in His obedience to the Father, led on that way by the Spirit. Let the Holy Ghost then so inspire us, who carry the white Cross of the Order, to place our footsteps in those of Christ’s, and to climb Calvary’s hill ourselves, wherever that may be. It will be the greatest honour of our chivalry to walk in the train of the King of Kings, following the supreme witness of our confrere who once waited on and fought for an earthly Prince, and learned to do the same for the Prince of Peace. 

The “Good Kirk” reminds us that there was also a bad one – the pretence of the monarch in the Act of Supremacy rendered sour the once loyal and most Petrine of churches, cutting it off from that lifeline which is communion with the Holy See. The Good Kirk, the Church of God, is that which is faithful to the deposit of Faith, and united to Peter. And this faith of Blessed Adrian in obedience to the Church was not dependent on who precisely it was who occupied the chair of the prince of the Apostles: Paul III was no saint; he had five children by his mistress, and there is a famous portrait of him and his grandchildren by Titian! It might be easy to mock, but the Farnese at least had a catholic understanding of family planning (!) and it was Paul III who bravely issued the two excommunications of King Henry VIII, the first having been suspended in the wise hope of his repentance, failing which the second was then issued. It was the principle, not the persons, which mattered; the office, not the particular office-holder. The Pope was the Pope, and the King’s good Majesty was that of the Lord’s Anointed – even “Defender of the Faith” at one stage – but when the Pope’s spiritual and temporal authority in this realm was seized by the King, a faithful Catholic had no option but to obey God over the King. Obedience, dear brethren, is to legitimate authority. Pilate was told by Christ that he would not have authority, were it not given to him by above. Our Blessed Lord did not deny even Pilate’s right to execute the death penalty, as legitimate (though resented) authority in that place – but he made clear the injustice of His own condemnation as King of the Jews: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” And Blessed Adrian faced the dilemma of those who love this realm, but seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Obey well the good Kirk, and thou shalt fare the better. I wonder whether, before his execution, the martyr thought of this proverb he had recorded several years earlier, with a wry smile… was this faring better? The martyr, by a special grace, knows that it is indeed to fare better to die for Christ in obedience to him. It was the same grace that made Sir Thomas More regret the clemency of death by beheading rather than the passion of Tyburn, and wish it otherwise for himself and for his children. “How sweet would be our children’s fate, if they, like them, could die for Thee.” I think Blessed Adrian would have received that same grace of courageous submission to the will of God in faith and obedience. 

“Faring better.” Submission of one’s will to the Will of God is a fiat which, like Our Blessed Lady’s, renders us free, and ostensibly so. Obedience brings freedom, not chains. There is a difference between genuine liberty and license, as we know – the former is a virtue, the latter a real enslavement. The obedience of those in the Grand Priory, whether by vow or by promise, gives you the freedom to serve, and to serve above all else. We are commanded to love, but we have volunteered to serve. The feudal obedience of serfdom leaves no personal choice to those recruited, leaving room for the ego to grow, but not for the soul to flourish; the chivalrous obedience of the religious means the channelling of one’s will towards God, the source and goal of its flourishing; as our prayer has it, “may I forget myself, and love God more.” This is a loving service which can be summed up in the word “friendship.” Our Lord says, I call you servants no longer, I call you friends.” Our obedience gives us this intimacy with God, where we truly find Him, and His Will, and truly find ourselves, having placed our wayward will under the harness of his Providence. And since “greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends,” we can see that friendship with God leads to that loving devotion to God’s own – friendship in our common obedience with our confreres, and friendship with the poor and the sick. Blessed Adrian knew that fiat, and lived it to the end.

Finally: Friendship, service, chivalry, these all seem like a young man’s ideals. But our martyr was a full 57 years old when he joined the Order, and 62 when he died. We’re never “past it” to do the right thing. He went up to the Altar of God, the God who gave joy to his youth – and indeed, he looks remarkably young in his iconography; whether this is the result of graceful ageing and good genes, or whether it is the artist’s way of showing a sort of timeless holiness, I leave to you to decide. But I think that, reading the accounts of their deaths, many martyrs who face the scaffold later in life seem to bounce with the energy of the young, and radiate a youthful holiness, God restoring in them the joy of their youth – perhaps there is something of the Holy Innocents in all God’s martyrs, the babes and sucklings in whose mouths, the psalmist says, God has found praise to foil his enemies. “My beloved comes, leaping over the mountains like a gazelle, like a young stag,” as we read in the Song of Songs. We are never too old to further our conversion, to further our progress in obedience. To say we are “past changing” or “past improving” is the lament of the coward, and it is not worthy of a Christian, let alone a Knight of the Order of St John. 

So let us be rejuvenated tonight, by our Confrere’s example and merits. By his prayers, may the Grand Priory flourish. May our obedience, in imitation of Christ’s own obedience to the Father, make progress along the way of perfection. Together, may we seek and find a common purpose, a common peace, and a common good. May we discern the limits of temporal authority, so as to obey heavenly authority with a good conscience. May we find in our obedience that liberty and that friendship which was the special virtue of Blessed Adrian and a grace which led him to victory. And may our promise of fidelity to Christ in His “Good Kirk” mean that we indeed ‘fare the better’, usque ad mortem in this life, and eternally with the Saints in the next. 

Blessed Adrian Fortescue, Pray for us.


As we may not, this year, come together beneath the domes of the Brompton Oratory for the feast of our Blessed Patron (though there is an evening Mass, see below), we may yet, virtually, do that other thing which people do when they come together in large numbers, namely to watch a play.

In this case the Martyrdom of the Holy Baptist, as recounted by Oscar Wilde in his play “Salomé”. Richard Strauss based his eponymous opera upon the same play, so 15 years before.

This powerful and aesthetic silent film from 1923 has all the art-deco hallmarks of Eastern European art cinema of the period. It was neverthess, and surprisingly, made in Holywood, directed by Charles Bryant, with a mise-en-scène by Peter M Winters. The artistic design and costumes are by Natacha Rambova (actually a rich American-Irish woman called Winifred Shaughnessy briefly married to Rudolph Valentino), based upon Aubrey Bearsley’s sensual illustrations for the play. The dancer playing Salomé (who was 40 years old at the time but looks 20) is Alla Nazimova, who had paid for the film herself, to her great financial detriment. It was a complete flop at the time, despite the review – “a hothouse orchid of decadent passion.” Yet surely Salomé herself could not have been more seductively evil?

Herod, played by Mitchell Lewis, is also magnificent, the personification of the spiritual effects of a life of sensuous desire, dissipation and neglect of the soul. This is what unbridled worldly pleasure and pride truly looks like to the sane observer. This is how Dorian Gray might have played it – the corruption of all that is good and lovely into something both monstrous, yet at the same time feeble and pathetic. We see here the corruption of the human body, male and female, of kingship, of marriage, of friendship, of love. All that is noble and lovely, all God’s greatest gifts, inverted. Horrible.

And against this monstrous reflection of reality we see Saint John, as chaste is his words as in his body, proclaiming only the Truth. Lean, spare, pure. Only through the lens of Evil, as we see laid bare before us this night, can God’s beauty become a source of unnatural desire.

How many lessons has this film for us today in our licentious world?! For each of us, as we strive against the Zeitgeist? Circumspice! To watch this film in a spirit of prayer, and to convert its undeniable external loveliness in our minds into God’s true Beauty, is a truly spiritual exercise, and a good way to spend the Feast. By rejecting ugliness within, we may love beauty all the more. Like the world around us, this film may be taken either way, but it is not the filmmaker’s, nor Oscar Wilde’s fault, nor Saint John’s, if we choose to see it through the world’s smeared lens.

The only downside of it being a Holywood production is that the text of the intertitle cards is in English, whereas Wilde very specifically, and for good reason, wrote his play in French, the language of passionate and dissipated love in his own post-enlightement age. A shame. “Ah! J’ai baisé ta bouche, Iokanaan, j'ai baisé ta bouche.”

The musical score to this version is by Mike Frank, 2015. 
There is another excellent instrumental and vocal score written by Charlie Barber (2009) using arabic musical forms, and performed and produced by, HERE, but is only available in a dozen separate short videos.  The dance of the Seven Veils is HERE.

Please note, there is a Sung Mass of the Feast at 7pm at St James's Spanish Place, Thursday 24th June. All members who can should attend.

Beate Ioanne Baptista, ora pro nobis!


Following our post last week (HERE) about the WHO and conscientious objection for doctors and nurses in abortion matters, early next week the European Parliament is to take a final vote on declaring abortion to be a fundamental human right.  You read that correctly.
To quote CitizenGO: "On June 7 the European Parliament votes on the so-called "Matic Report" where among other things abortion is defined as a "human right." 
The report has the official title "The situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU from the perspective of women's health." 
The most serious aspect of the report is that it considers abortion as a "human right" and advocates for abortion without any restriction: 
The report “calls for the removal of barriers” to access abortion like "waiting periods", "the denial of medical care based on personal beliefs", "counselling" or any "third party authorization".
This ruling will override national parliaments, including Poland, which is valiantly trying to turn the tide of Evil. It flies in the face of  the international human right to conscientous objection by medics.

Furthermore, the "Matic Report" calls for unlimited contraception at any age, without parental consent; LGBT programmes in schools; and 'sex-change' for minors, all without parental consent. Parents will have no say and be allowed no responsibility.

Our Catholic brethren in Europe are pleading for our support, please take the brief moment needed to sign their petition HERE, and please pray.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for the unborn.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for the young.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, champion of Christan marriage, pray for us,
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for all children.


Today is the tenth Anniversary of the death of the late Grand Prior, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart.

The Conventual Mass last Tuesday was celebrated as a Requiem for the repose of his soul by our confrere and chaplain, Father Joseph Hamilton.

Of you charity please pray for Fra Fredrik's soul, and for the good of the whole Order, for which intention intercession may be made to him.
Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.


Thanks to Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, with whom numerous members of our Order have walked from Paris to Chartres over many years at Pentecost, we can propose that you join in the Novena to Saint Joseph for the preservation intact of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Summorum Pontificum”. SEE HERE. There is much confusion about what may or may not be happening in Rome.

As FrZ writes - “If there is a threat to Summorum, this is a good thing to do. If there isn’t really a threat to Summorum, this is a good thing to do.

We would ourselves add - “If you are devoted to the Old Mass this is a good thing to do. If you are not really bothered about the Old Mass this is still a good thing to do, as you will be praying for something which helps other people get into Heaven.

So please say some of the Novena Prayers, starting tomorrow Thursday 10th June, ideally including Pope Francis’ prayer to St Joseph, as below. It is an act of charity to the Church, which will bring you many graces.

The Novena starts with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Sainte Odile in Paris, to which we might unite ourselves spiritually, as we should with the thousands of people praying this novena with us.

Prayer of Brother André Bessette, the Apostle of St Joseph, 1845 – 1937 
(Each day of the novena)
Saint Joseph, most faithful foster father of the divine Child, chaste husband of the Mother of God, powerful protector of the Holy Church, we come to you to place ourselves under your special protection. 
You have sought nothing in this world except the glory of God and the good of your neighbour. Having given everything to the Saviour, it was your joy to pray, to work, to sacrifice yourselves, to suffer, to die for Him. 
You were unknown in this world and yet known to Jesus, His gaze rested with kindness on your simple and hidden life in Him. 
Saint Joseph, you have already helped so many men, we come to you with great confidence. 
You see in the light of God what is lacking in us; you know our worries, our difficulties, our sorrows. 
We recommend to your fatherly concern this particular matter, the preservation without restrictions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in the Church. 
We place it in your hands, which saved Jesus the Child, but above all implore for ourselves the grace never to separate ourselves from Jesus by mortal sin; to know Him and to love Him more and more, as well as His holy Mother; to live always in the presence of God, to do everything for His glory and the good of souls, and to arrive one day at the blessed vision of God to praise him eternally with you. Amen.
Pope Francis’ Prayer to Saint Joseph.
(Each day of the novena)
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man. 
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.

You might with to read and meditate upon some passages of the devotion to St Joseph in Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Patris Corde during the days. HERE in English. Even on the beautiful opening sentence alone, one could meditate for a week: “Patris corde: ita Ioseph amabat Iesum, qui in omnibus quattuor Evangeliis ‘filius Ioseph’ vocatur.” “WITH A FATHER’S HEART: that is how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as ‘the son of Joseph’.”

Saint Joseph, pray for the Church
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for the Church


Yesterday, on the Holy Feast of Pentecost, our Chaplain, Father Joseph Hamilton, Private Secretary to Cardinal Pell, preached the following Homily at the Chapel of All Saints, Wardour Castle. We are deeply grateful to him for allowing us to share it.

THOU HAST CONQUERED, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath”.  This, a famous quote paraphrased by the Victorian poet Charles Swinburne, takes the words of Julian the Apostate and injects them with just a little bit more vitriol. The story goes that Julian, at the age of 32, led his army into defeat in Mesopotamia. Mortally wounded with blood, covering his hands he tossed the blood in the air and famously said, “thou hast conquered, Galilean”. Julian, the nephew of Constantine the Great, Emperor in his own right for just two year’s had publicly renounced Christianity two years earlier. Turning his back on the faith he had been brought up in, he restored paganism, wrote against Christianity, and even planned to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, not for the honour of the Jewish religion but to prove the invalidity of the Christian. His poet admirer Swinburne would probably have made a good head of religious programming content for the BBC.  
The words Swinburne put into Julian’s mouth are that the world has grown grey from the breath of the Galilean. The breath of Jesus. The breath of God. The ruach of the Old Testament.  The breath that hovered over the waters of Genesis at the beginning of Time.  Who knows what was in the mind of the author of Genesis as he wrote those words? With the contemporary advances in physics … had he seen, was he writing of the Holy Ghost as a vast cosmic wind moving through the void, coalescing as the presence of the Trinity? Had he seen the Second Person of the Trinity making the Word of the Father reality, the fiat lux of Genesis light exploding in what today we call the big bang? 
The author of Genesis had inspired knowledge of the Trinity, St. Augustine in his homily on Genesis tells us that at the beginning of each of the days of Creation, the angels would contemplate the things that God would create at that day, and in the evening the angelic host erupted in a paean of praise for the things created. Our own prayers should always include an element of praise. The Gloria we have just sung does just that in the Mass … we will lift our voices again shortly to join the thunder of the seraphim and cherubim in their triumphant chorus of Holy, Holy, Holy, ... St Augustine tells us that at the last moment of creation God, says, “let us make man in our own image”; Father, Son and Holy Spirit descend over the newly created planet Earth, the Holy Spirit standing as a person in his own right, the Trinity surrounded by the angelic court.  A foretaste of what awaits us in Heaven. 
The primal moments of Genesis are repeated after the Resurrection of Our Lord.  He breathes upon his disciples and says to them “receive the Holy Spirit”, and on the morning of Pentecost the disciples hear a sound like a mighty wind. The breath of God, that sends galaxies hurtling out through the Universe, setting stars on fire, moving through a simple house in Jerusalem to accomplish an even more spectacular feat than the creation of the Universe – the creation of the Catholic Church. This time instead of igniting suns, he descends as tongues of flame and the breath of the Galilaean transforms the disciples, establishing the college of bishops and granting to them the fullness of the understanding of Revelation.  And those twelve simple men go out into the world and with the Gospel of Jesus Christ change the course of human history. 
Twelve. There are a hundred people in this Church this morning. Think of what we might do if we were filled with the Holy Spirit the way the initial Twelve were.  You might say to me –Father, that sort of stuff is not for us. To which I reply, “rubbish”. God has a plan for everyone sitting in this Church this morning. Some he has appointed to be Apostles, some he has appointed to be Teachers, some he has appointed to be Mums and Dads, some he has appointed to be Knights of Malta, he has even chosen the most unlikely to be priests.  But you know what? He wants All to be saved. He wants everyone in this Church to be happy, not just here on Earth but with Him forever in Heaven. And he wants us to get out there and show the happiness that He offers to a world that so desperately needs it.
We have come through very difficult period, I am sure we all know people whose lives have been claimed by the pandemic; for us who are still here, lives have been changed by the pandemic. But this morning, this Pentecost, we are here in this Church, praying for the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. We might not hear a mighty wind, tongues of flame might not appear over our heads, but if we ask, if we pray, in true poverty of spirit, “Come Holy Spirit, I give you permission to enter into, and transform my life”, then that power which descended on the Apostles at Pentecost will overshadow and enter your soul and transform you.
The Emperor Julian died at 32, in the prime of youth.  He had everything the world could desire. He ate the finest food, could afford the most fashionable clothes, drifted between palaces, and sought to emulate Alexander the Great. He desired the colour, encouraged the bizarreness, and indulged in the brutality of the ancient pagan, and frankly Satanic cults.  Today his is the life that is held out to us as being full, Instragrammable, Facebookable, Twitter-worthy.  And yet here he is with his last breath accusing Jesus’s breath of having turned the world grey. The world turned grey. This chapel is anything but grey – look about you! Today’s feast reveals that poor Emperor Julian had subscribed to an ancient lie, a lie that is presented to us by the world again and again … the lie is this: if you believe in God, if you believe in Jesus, if you live according to the laws and precepts God has set down, as our Church preserves and teaches, then you will not be free, you will not be able to live in technicolour; you’ll be boring, unattractive, no one will follow you on Facebook, your world will be just grey. That is a lie, that is the dangerous rubbish that the Devil whispers in our ears.
So here, in this chapel this Pentecost morning let’s reproclaim the Truth that countless saints and holy men and women have loved and lived, and passed on to us: If we believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit we need have no fear of anything – pandemics, wars, recessions, even death. If we believe in Jesus we will never be without a friend in need, and if we embrace the gifts of the Holy Spirit being poured out today, really embrace them, we will be transformed, and we as Catholic Christians can repaint the world in colours so vivid the glories of the Renaissance will pale by comparison. That is the truth of our faith. That is the truth of the Pentecost, and that is the truth of the Holy Spirit being poured out on His Church again today. Our duty this morning is get out there and proclaim it, and in doing so renew the face of the Earth. 
Veni, Sancte Spiritus.


Only very rarely does this Blog venture into fields outside the immediate life of the Order of Saint John, and that only where there are matters directly concerning ethics and morals, where our duty of Tuitio Fidei requires a reaction.

One such arises now, an international proposal to remove in most cases the right to conscientious objection on the part of medical practitioners, (this is, as in the Great War, almost always concerned with killing people.)

The text concerned reads:

Physicians have an ethical obligation to minimize interruptions in patient care. Conscientious objection should only be considered if the individual patient is not discriminated against or disadvantaged, the patient's health is not in jeopardy, and continuity of care without delay is ensured through effective and timely referral to another qualified physician."

In other words, conscientious objection would be limited:
* If it is considered that not performing an abortion is discrimination, it would be outside the Ethical Code. 
* If it is considered that not performing an abortion is an attack on health understood as the state of well-being.
* An objector is obliged to refer his patient to another practitioner who does not object, in other words, collaborate with what he objects to.
The burden of proof will be shifted on to the medical practitioner to justify his objection.

Please look at the information at the link HERE, and we encourage you to sign the PETITION if you feel this within your moral compass.

Finally, please pray that this advancing onslaught of evil, which threatens every ethical base in all walks of our life and even in the Church, whose Holy Motherhood some would seek to corrupt, may be crushed by the prayers of the saints. We suggest you invoke Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, newly canonised, pediatrician, and patroness of mothers and unborn children.

Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum!

Beata Maria de Phileremo, ora pro nobis
Sancta Gianna Beretta Molla, or pro nobis