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.
This year the feast of the Guardian Angels falls on Sunday, so we will not have the opportunity to celebrate (liturgically) these powerful reminders of God’s mercy, and their powerful challenge to embrace and share that mercy. Nonetheless, let us reflect on the immense gift we have received in our angel guardians, and – especially as we draw near the end of the Year of Mercy – consider how they call us to be ministers of God’s mercy.
September invites us to celebrate two liturgical feasts that are vivid reminders of God’s mercy. The first is the September 8th anniversary of the birth of Mary, honored among members of the Western Association of the Order of Malta as our patron, Our Lady of Philermo. The gospel reading for the day’s Mass is the beginning verses of St. Matthew’s account, a record of forty-two generations, from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary.
This month we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption, a feast most of us take for granted. However, this was not always the case. Mary was honored from the Church’s earliest days, but her place in the Church’s formal liturgical life came only in the 5th Century. Ironically, scholars suggest, the reason for the delay is Mary’s Assumption. In the early days of our worship, devotion to the saints was attached to their tombs. But because no church claimed possession of Mary’s tomb, her public, liturgical honor was slow to develop.
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Headlines from the International Order