This month we observe a holiday to celebrate our nation’s independence, a privileged state in which, the dictionary tells us, we are “…self-governing; free from the influence, guidance or control of another.” Closely linked to our cherished independence are the notions of freedom, which the dictionary defines as “The condition of being free of restraints…slavery [or] oppression…”, and liberty, “The condition of being free from confinement, servitude or forced labor.”
On February 15, 2013, the Order will celebrate the 900th anniversary of the issuance of Pie postulatio voluntatis, the papal bull (or bulla sacra) through which Pope Paschal II officially granted to the Hospital of Saint John certain protections, rights, and privileges in perpetuity. Pie postulatio voluntatis is Pope Paschal II’s response to a petition submitted by Blessed Gerard, the Order’s founder and Master of the Hospital. Gerard’s request demonstrates how much he had accomplished in the first decades of the Hospital.
The word “heart” occurs 990 times in Shakespeare. The Bible uses the word “heart” 865 times, but that is the unmodified noun. The concordance offers separate listings for “brokenhearted,” “faint hearted,” “hard hearted,” “merry hearted,” “stiff hearted, “stout hearted,” and “tender hearted.” The word “heart” occurs frequently in our literature because our hearts represent what is most valuable in us, and they tell us what we value most in the world. Where we find our treasure, Jesus says, there we’ll find our hearts, a frightening thought when we consider some of the things that make our hearts beat faster.
Although Advent is the liturgical season that celebrates Mary’s role in our salvation, those of us who have reached “a certain age” will undoubtedly recall the special devotion paid Our Blessed Mother during the month of May. The history behind the prayers, processions and May crownings that were part of our Catholic childhood is quite varied. They seem to have begun in Italy, as a protest against noisy student revels; in northern countries they evolved from prayers for good harvests, offered when fruit trees began to blossom.
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Headlines from the International Order