Program #0475 for Monday, February 25, 2013: 900th Anniversary of the Order of Malta

February 25, 2013

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900th Anniversary of the Order of Malta

900th Anniversary of the Order of Malta

Summary of today’s show: The Order of Malta is celebrating their 900th anniversary since their founding and Scot Landry is joined by Craig Gibson and Damien DeVasto to discuss the good work of the Order that continues today both internationally and locally.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Craig Gibson, Damien DeVasto

Links from today’s show:

Today’s topics: 900th Anniversary of Order of Malta

1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He noted that this last week of February is eventful with the Holy Father’s resignation from the papacy becomes official on Thursday at 2pm Boston time. Today, the Holy Father signed a new motu proprio, or law, that allows the cardinals to move forward the date of the conclave if they choose after they all meet together for the first on March 1. Scot said almost everyone expects the conclave to begin between March 5 and March 11.

Scot said on Wednesday and Thursday this week we’ll begin a special blog from Gregory Tracy, our regular guest on Thursdays will begin a blog of his trip to Rome to cover the Conclave for the Boston Pilot.

2nd segment: Scot welcomed Craig Gibson and Damien DeVasto to show from the Order of Malta for the Boston Area which includes all of New England. Damien is the Area Chair for the Order and Craig is Membership Chair.

Craig and 5,000 other members of the Order were at St. Peter’s Basilica earlier in February to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Order. Craig said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He said about 40 were from Boston and they were in Rome from February 7 to the following Monday, which was the day Pope Benedict announced his resignation. He said they had a joy-filled procession that took about 40 minutes for all the knights to process into St. Peter’s. He said there were concelebrants and representatives of dioceses all over the world.

The Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, is originally from Great Britain and on behalf of the knights thanked the Holy Father for coming to the Mass. He doesn’t always come to Masses such as these. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Mass, but the Holy Father gave an address in Italian. Craig said it was a great thrill to be present with the Holy Father.

Scot read a portion of Pope Benedict’s address to the Order:

Your Order, from its earliest days, has been marked by fidelity to the Church and to the Successor of Peter, and also for its unrenounceable spiritual identity, characterized by high religious ideals. Continue to walk along this path, bearing concrete witness to the transforming power of faith. By faith the Apostles left everything to follow Jesus, and then went out to the whole world, in fulfilment of his command to bring the Gospel to every creature; fearlessly they proclaimed to all people the power of the cross and the joy of the resurrection of Christ, which they had witnessed directly. By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, demonstrating the truth of the Gospel which had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the highest gift, the fruit of love: that of forgiving their persecutors. And by faith, down the centuries, the members of your Order have given themselves completely, firstly in the care of the sick in Jerusalem and then in aid to pilgrims in the Holy Land who were exposed to grave dangers: their lives have added radiant pages to the annals of Christian charity and protection of Christianity. In the nineteenth century, the Order opened up to new and more ample forms of apostolate in the area of charitable assistance and service of the sick and the poor, but without ever abandoning the original ideals, especially that of the intense spiritual life of individual members. In this sense, your commitment must continue with a very particular attention to the religious consecration – of the professed members – which constitutes the heart of the Order. You must never forget your roots, when Blessed Gérard and his companions consecrated themselves with vows to the service of the poor, and their vocation was sanctioned by the privilege Pie Postulatio Voluntatis. The members of the newly created institute were thus configured with the features of religious life: commitment to attain Christian perfection by profession of the three vows, the charism for which they were consecrated, and fraternity among the members. The vocation of the professed members, still today, must be the object of great attention, combined with attention to the spiritual life of all.

In this sense, your Order, compared with other organizations that are committed in the international arena to the care of the sick, to solidarity and to human promotion, is distinguished by the Christian inspiration that must constantly direct the social engagement of its members. Be sure to preserve and cultivate this your qualifying characteristic and work with renewed apostolic ardour, maintaining an attitude of profound harmony with the Magisterium of the Church. Your esteemed and beneficent activity, carried out in a variety of fields and in different parts of the world, and particularly focused on care of the sick through hospitals and health-care institutes, is not mere philanthropy, but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love.

Craig said 13,000 members of the Order are around the world along with 80,000 volunteers. He said what the pope is saying is that what distinguishes this group from others is the active hands-on care for the sick and poor, including the annual pilgrimage of the sick to Lourdes, France. Craig said this was what made joining theorder so appealing to him. You truly empty yourself in caring for others. You don’t have to travel the world to do it, but you can do it right at home too. He read further from the Pope’s address:

It is possible, then, for the Christian, through his or her dedication, to bring others to experience the bountiful tenderness of our heavenly Father, through an ever deeper conformation to Christ. In order to offer love to our brothers and sisters, we must be afire with it from the furnace of divine charity: through prayer, constant listening to the word of God, and a life centred on the Eucharist.

Damien talked about his reasons for joining the Order and the pope’s encouraging words for them. Craig talked about some of his highlights for the trip, visiting various other pilgrimage sites in Rome. He talked about visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel with a very knowledgeable docent and how they were virtually alone in the museums. Scot noted that the docent, Elizabeth Lev, turned out to be the daughter of Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law professor and former ambassador to the Vatican.

Craig said the Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest sacred spaces on the planet. Scot noted how blessed it was that they could pray in that chapel without the noise of crowds. He also noted that in a few weeks it will be the location where the next pope will be elected.

3rd segment: Craig talked about hearing about the papal resignation as he was on board the plane flying from Rome. Damien said he heard about it from his source for all Catholic news, his mother. Scot said he hopes that the Holy Father completes his final encyclical on faith before his departure on Thursday or that it gets completed in some form afterward.

Scot asked Craig and Damien about the work the Order of Malta does in the New England area. Damien said the most critical element of being a member is living your life in that call, giving practice to caring for another in a way that speaks to Catholic faith and membership in the order. He said they are engaged in a number of charities, both directly and with funding.

Craig said they offer assistance to people in Honduras and Haiti. He said they had been working in Haiti before the earthquake, including the Hospital Sacre Coeur and the Haitian Health Foundation, that provides clinics and assistance for women in high-risk pregnancies.

Scot said the Order also sponsors an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes by many very sick people. The Order charters planes and pays expenses for people to go. Craig said he’s been twice and 300 will go on a charter flight this coming May. He said the pilgrimage is about the possibility for healing in body, mind, and spirit and while not everyone is miraculously healed of the physical ailment, it is transformational for the patients and their families.

Damien talked about the show last summer in which young Luke Dillon talked about his experience on the pilgrimage.

Damien also talked about their local work supporting the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, in prison ministry, in healthcare for the homeless, and in providing a health clinic for the poor in the area around Holy Cross Cathedral. Damien said the list of works that the Order does corporately and the members do individually is so large that he can’t possibly list them all.

Scot said the Order also helps people learn how to defend the faith and their faith. Craig said part of joining the Order is the expectation of daily prayer and frequent attendance at Mass. They are also expected to deepen their faith, to keep up with Catholic news, to be involved in the works of the Order, to live in a way appropriate to the life of a member of the Order, and to be a role model for the faith in the community.

Craig listed the upcoming works that the Order will be involved in locally.

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  1. Who is Cardinal Seán O’Malley? 3 Pilot Profiles. - The Good Catholic Life - March 11, 2013

    […] homily made me think of Lourdes, and of my many friends in the Order of Malta in Boston who make an annual pilgrimage there around the beginning of May. They always sponsor and care for […]