Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday 28A - Welcome of Six New Knights to the Order of Malta

May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after, and make us always determined to carry out good works. Through our Lord.

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Earlier this month, in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica I presided at the Eucharist during which six new members  of the Order of Malta (from Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Quebec and Ontario) were received.

My homily on the occasion and a couple of other photos follow:

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica—Ottawa
The Order of Malta Investiture Mass—October 1, 2011
Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
[Readings: Isaiah 66.10-14c; Psalm 131 (130); Romans 8.31–38; Matthew 18.1–5]

“The Little Flower.” “The Little Way.” These are words associated with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, whose feast we celebrate today. These simple words challenge—even upset—me.  Do they challenge you? This young woman eased into intimacy with God in obscurity, while many of us struggle.
The spread of devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the most impressive religious movements of recent times.

Pendant sa courte vie, cette jeune carmélite française était à peine remarquée au-dessus des autres religieuses, mais son décès a déclenché une soudaine prise de conscience de ses dons uniques.

Par ses lettres, les souvenirs de ses consœurs et surtout la publication de L'Histoire d'une âme, Sainte Thérèse a influencé d'innombrables personnes. Elle leur avait montré le chemin de la perfection dans les petites actions de la vie quotidienne.

Quand sa biographie spirituelle est devenue un grand succès, des milliers de soldats durant la Grande Guerre, y compris des Allemands, ont porté des photos d'elle dans leurs portefeuilles. Elle leur a enseigné le « principe atomique » spirituel : que la plus petite offrande dans le moins important des lieux peut avoir un effet dans l’univers entier.

She sought her place in the Church and one day, reading First Corinthians, discovered her vocation—“in the heart of the church I will be love.” As we heard in the reading from Romans, “nothing can separate us from the love of God made known in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And once you lay hold of this truth, you can live the spiritual life of a holy childhood. You become, as Jesus urges in the gospel, child-like and little in this life, to become great in God’s eyes.

We must not let these truths get lost in this Mass during our more visible ceremony today. That is, when new members will be invested in the Order of Malta, an association with a long and glorious history, having been founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century. Its mission is two-fold: the defence of the faith and assistance to the suffering. The motto reminds us of this: “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum.”

The Order was born as a monastic community inspired by St. John the Baptist, which ran a hospice providing care and shelter for pilgrims to the Holy Land. Before the loss of the island of Malta in 1798, most of the knights were religious with vows.

Even today, some members of the Order are professed knights, having taken the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, while others pronounce only the promise of obedience.

La plupart des 13 000 chevaliers et dames de l'Ordre sont des laïcs, tous consacrés à l'exercice des vertus chrétiennes et de la charité. Ils se sont engagés à développer leur spiritualité au sein de l'Église, au service de la foi et à l’aide de leur autrui.

L'Ordre de Malte œuvre en soins médicaux et sociaux ainsi que l'aide humanitaire dans plus de 120 pays. Ce service est soutenu par les relations diplomatiques qu'il entretient avec 104 nations, y compris le Canada.

L'Ordre gère des hôpitaux, des cliniques, des foyers pour les personnes âgées ou handicapées et des hospices de soins palliatifs.

La « petite voie » de Sainte Thérèse et les grandes réalisations de l'Ordre de Malte semblent être aux antipodes, mais l'Église fait évaporer cet écart apparent en déclarant deux patrons de la mission dans l'Église :

Il y a Saint François Xavier, qui a baptisé des dizaines de milliers en Asie au cours d'innombrables voyages missionnaires.

Mais il y a également Sainte Thérèse, qui a offert ses sacrifices minuscules pour les missions en terres lointaines et ainsi à gagner un firmament d'âmes pour le Seigneur.

Indeed, most of the members of the Order of Malta will not be on the front lines, providing aid and succour directly to the needy around the world. Most will live out their faith in relative quiet and sometimes obscurity, furthering the cause through prayer and supply.

Let us ask God to grant us humble hearts with which, through our prayers, sacrifices and witness to the faith, we do great things for the Lord and His Church.

We rejoice today that this great religious service community has invited six Catholic men from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Nunavut and Ontario to join their ranks.

May this Eucharist nurture their zeal and commitment, drawing them into Our Lord’s love for the world and his poor ones!


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