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.
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.
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.
We are used to thinking of gardens as places of beauty, peace and quiet. However, this is anything but the picture we encounter in the gospel reading for Easter Sunday. St. John begins the 20th chapter of his gospel account by telling us Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb “early, while it was still dark.” In John’s gospel light and dark don’t always refer to times of the day. They sometimes they describe spiritual realities. To grasp this, imagine what night would be like without artificial light. Without it, we would be unable to do many of the things we take for granted. Not only because we could not see, but because it would be too dangerous. And very cold. The tomb itself is a dark place, so John has multiplied the natural gloom by danger and cold. When Mary notices the stone has been removed from the tomb, we might ask what else can go wrong?
Headlines from the International Order