26 October 2012

Fra Festing Received Matteo Ricci Award

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing was honoured by the Catholic University of Milan.

“The testimony of Fra’ Matthew Festing offers the Faculty of Political Science of the Sacred Heart Catholic University an example and an incentive for resolutely continuing to steer its educational commitment towards the integral promotion of the human being, the progress of society, and peace and goodwill among people, in the wake of Matteo Ricci’s work in the 16th and 17th century”. This was the motivation for conferring the 2012 Matteo Ricci award on the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta during a ceremony held on 23 October in Milan’s Catholic University. The award was presented by the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Catholic University, Franco Anelli, and the Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Carlo Beretta.

For the occasion, the Grand Master gave a Lectio Cathedrae Magistralis entitled “Charity: the basis of civilized human life. How the Order of Malta should play its part” attended by students and professors.

“Matteo Ricci’s work,” stated Fra’ Matthew Festing, “was based on a conscientious study and a profound respect for the culture, history and traditions of the Chinese society to which he had brought the word of God. This was the great strength of his apostolate, his being “Chinese with the Chinese”. We also work with this spirit and this conviction. The Order of Malta communicates “in the field” with the most varied cultures and religions. And it can do it because – every time and in every place – it starts a new assistance project without discrimination or prejudice, open to the different social and political systems, cultures and religions. Wherever we operate,” concluded the Grand Master, “we always try to respect the traditions, cultures and religions of the people who live and work there. This is how we are able to bring our assistance to every part of the world.

21 October 2012

Reflections for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost

The lessons in the Divine Office for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost (old calendar) are often taken from the Book of Machabees.

As St. John Chrysostom says: "Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, having invaded Judea and ravaged wholesale, forcing many Jews to give up the holy practices of their fathers, the Machabees remained steadfast and uncorrupted, amidst all these trials.  Traversing the whole country they gathered togehter all the faithful and loyal citizens whom they met, and even a great number of those who had allowed themselves to be discouaged or led astray, urging them to return to the law of their fathers.

These exhortations resulted in the raising of an army composed of men of the utmost bravery who were fighting not so much for their wives and children and servants; not to ward off slavery and ruin from their country, but for the faith of their fathers and the rights of their nation. God Himself was their leader. Moreover, when they went into battle to sacrifice their lives, this alone was enough to put the enemy to rout; in fact they trusted less in their arms than in the cause for which they had armed, which they considered sufficient to secure victory, even if armor were altogether lacking.

Christian life is a struggle for the glory of God and the salvation of His people. We must bring to this struggle, which is the duty of every Christian, the same fervour as was displayed by the Machabees, and remember, that for us, as for them, the faith of our fathers is at stake, the inheritance of our spiritual life which we ought to prize above all else. All these treasures, which we receive from God, and weak vessels that we are, bear in "vessels of clay," are continually threatened by the forces of evil which war against God. The struggle, says St. Paul, is not against men but against the wicked spirits ad their powerful, pernicious activity. And the Apostle calls on us to for this struggle with the arms of God.

This passage was taken from the St. Andrew's Missal for the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost. It would be hard not to argue that the world in the time of the Machabees was very muchy like our own and that we too need brave men to rise up, ready to sacrifice all not for some phony religion of niceness but in defense of the faith of our fathers which has been handed down to us.

20 October 2012


Thank you to Dr. Roger Jean-Charles, KM, member of the Order of Malta who serves on the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, for sharing with us the news that Mons. Alceste Catella, Bishop of Casale Monferrato, has proclaimed his recognition of the cure of Sister Luigina Traverso as a miracle. The Committee had judged the cure to be "unexplained" in a 2011 meeting in Paris. For more information on the miracle, please click here.

Flooding of Lourdes Grotto


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11 October 2012

Care of Widows, A Lesson for Uncle Joe Biden

Remember when Joe Biden attacked the Republican plans to get rid of Obamacare and leave people like his aged mother to try and pick a health insurance plan on her own. Here is what St. Paul would have to say about the issue. From today's Office of Readings is the letter of St. Paul to Timothy, 5:3-25,

Make the following rules about widows, so that no one may incur blame. If anyone does not provide for his own relatives and especially for members of his immediate family, he has denied the faith; he is worse than an unbeliever.
So as I said when he made the comment, even though Biden twisted around the Republican plan, let's assume it was true that his mother would have to pick her own plan, why wouldn't Joe help her make such a critical decision? Are we really to believe that he would leave her to make this important decision without his guidance? So either he is a liar or he has denied his faith.

05 October 2012

Blessed Peter of Imola

Very little is known of the life of Blessed Peter of Imola whose memorial we celebrate today. He was born in 1250 at Imola, in Italy, into the noble Pattarini family who had been the lords of Linasio for over 100 years and part of the Ghibelline faction. Peter was an excellent scholar and become a well-known lawyer and jurist. The respect held for his legal opinion is evident by the fact that his name is found on many important documents which are still preserved in Imola, giving his interpretation of the laws of his time. In 1289 he became a court magistrate and eight years later was to use all his skills and experience to negotiate a peace between the rival Guelph and Ghibelline factions in Romagna. The Guelphs were predominately from wealthy mercantile families who supported the Pope while the Ghibellines tended to come from families with wealthy agricultural estates who supported the Emperor.  It was no easy task and took several years but at last Peter was able to persuade the Ghibellines to leave Romagna.

After successfully mediating this conflict and crowning what had been a successful secular career, Peter sought a new vocation dedicated to charitable works in helping the poor and the sick. He began working in one of the Order of St. John’s hospitals in Florence and was invested as a knight in 1310. His administrative skills were welcome and appreciated and put to good use as he assumed greater responsibilities working in the hospital. His talents were not unnoticed and after some years he was chosen Grand Prior of the Order in Rome. He again returned to Florence to the Commandery of St. James in Campo Corbellini. 

We do not know for certain if he became the Commander of St. James or assumed other duties. Nevertheless he continued performing great charitable works serving the sick who were either home-bound or in the hospital. Blessed Peter died in Florence on October, 5, 1320 and his loss was felt by everyone who knew him. He was buried in the Church of St. James in Campo Corbellini which still belongs to the Order.

One of the most remarkable stories about Blessed Peter occurred after his death. One day in preparation for the feast of St. James, the Church was being decorated by the brothers and a priest had placed a ladder against the tomb of Blessed Peter and was working high against the wall hanging some decoration. The priest lost his balance and the ladder began to fall. Suddenly the tomb of Bl. Peter opened slightly and his hand reached out and steadied the ladder, no doubt saving the life of the priest who was on it. This miracle was authenticated by several witnesses. Blessed Peter’s relics were later translated under the main altar of the Church in a reliquary that Commander Fra Augustine Mego had made for it, and the miracle-working arm was kept in a separate little box. After the flooding of the Arno river in 1557 the documents and reliquary were submerged and greatly damaged. However the box containing his arm survived and was still venerated with skin and nails intact centuries later.

O God, who gave to blessed Peter, Prior of our Order, the gift of healing discord and division, grant to us through his prayers the grace of striving for peace and so being called the children of God. Through the same Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(From: The Missal with readings of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, 
London 1997)

Top photo of the exterior of the Church of St. James is used with gracious permission of the photographer at http://www.flickr.com/photos/33115454@N04/5519987412/


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