Monday 15 June 2009


Basking under the warm glow of the Iberian sunshine, the General Chapter met in the historic setting of Évora in the Alentejo region of Portugal in the beautiful Cadaval Palace - the ancestral home of the dukes of Cadaval and home now to the Grand Master and his most charming and gracious wife, Princess Diana Álvares Pereira de Melo, Duchess of Cadaval and Duchess of Anjou.

While the sunshine warmed our corporeal presence, the companionship of the members warmed our hearts and souls as we broke bread with friends both new and old in the pretty Patio of the Palace as well as the grand setting of the marquee for the final dinner.

At Mass in the romantic 13th century Cathedral, presided over with great aplomb by His Eminence Laszló Cardinal Paskai, twenty six candidates processed with the members through the streets and made their solemn promise to commit themselves to the Order and its great work of Charity throughout the world. Our Grand Master, HRH Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orléans, Duc d’Anjou, made this work of Charity the centre-piece of his message for the week, encouraging all members to give themselves wholeheartedly and without stint to that noble cause. He reminded us that every member must play an active part for we are not simply members of an exclusive club but rather Christians who are called to the noble work of Charity within the Order and so no-one can leave that work to others.

The more prosaic and yet necessary work of meetings to organise and promote how the Order goes about that great work of Charity were also part of the week as were the excellent workshops on the nature and functioning of the Order - its history and spirituality.

Fr Simon Henry, SChLJ

Chaplain General

Thursday 23 April 2009

Blessed Saint George's Day

St George is usually depicted killing a dragon to prevent a maiden being sacrificed. After killing the dragon he then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals for Christ. He was given a large reward by the king, which he distributed it to the poor before riding away. Popularily the dragon stands for wickedness and the maiden stands for God's holy truth. St. George was a brave martyr who was victorious over the devil.

He was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, a pagan and a bitter enemy to the Christians. He put to death every Christian he could find. George was a real soldier of Christ. Without fear, he went to the Emperor and sternly scolded him for attacking Christians. He gave up his position in the Roman army, and was tortured before being beheaded.

So boldly daring and so cheerful was St. George in declaring his Faith and in dying for it that Christians felt courage when they heard about it. Many songs and poems were written about this martyr. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him. Because of his chivalrous act, dependence on faith and largesse to the poor, devotion to Saint George became popular in the Europe throughout the 10th century. A shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries.
Faithful servant of Godand invincible martyr, Saint George; favoured by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore theefor the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end. Amen.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Happy Easter - The Unity of Christian belief

Easter is not based on a myth, a theory or a fairy tale, but rather on the very real historical event of Christ's death and resurrection, says Benedict XVI. The Pope said this during the Easter message he delivered from St. Peter's balcony before he imparted his blessing "urbi et orbi". He began with the question: "What is there after death?" The message of Easter is that "death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end." "This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning," the Pontiff continued, "but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body."He continued: "Ever since the dawn of Easter, a new Spring of hope has filled the world; from that day forward our resurrection has begun, because Easter does not simply signal a moment in history, but the beginning of a new condition."Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself lives in us, and in him we can already savor the joy of eternal life."The Holy Father affirmed that the Resurrection "is not a theory, but a historical reality": "It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb."

Light in darkness

"The proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live," Benedict XVI reflected. "I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life.""It is a fact," he continued, "that if Christ had not risen, the 'emptiness' would be set to prevail. If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion."The Pope said Easter Sunday is the day when "the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth," and it is the answer to the question put forth in the Book of Ecclesiastes: "Is there a thing of which it is said, 'See, this is new?’" On this day, he said, Christians answer "yes": "On Easter morning, everything was renewed. " The Pontiff lamented, however, that in the world today "there still remain very many, in fact too many signs of [death's] former dominion."

Helpers needed

"Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love," he said."The Holy Father said that this was his message he carried to Africa last month during his visit to Cameroon and Angola, and the message he wishes to carry to the Holy Land in May."Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, and from the growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease," he said. And in the Holy Land, he said, "reconciliation -- difficult, but indispensable -- is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.""My thoughts move outward from the Holy Land to neighboring countries, to the Middle East, to the whole world," Benedict XVI continued. "At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope."Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s resurrection."He added, "Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love."
(source: Zenit, VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2009)

Saturday 18 April 2009

Commandery Charity Support Project

After months of research and discussion the Commandery Council has decided that the first Charity to recieve our support will be Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice. The Hospice provides a 'community palliative care service' for children and their families in South Yorkshire, North East Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire and parts of North Lincolnshire. Whilst the annual costs of running the Hospice are high, OSLJ will provide funding for specific events/equipment/projects - such as funding the annual 'Siblings' Day Out'.

Bluebell Woods provides care for over 200 children and families suffering from life limiting and life threatening conditions. The 8 children's rooms and 7 family rooms allow the Hospice to provide specialist care - from sensory, music and hydrotherapy. As well as the 'hospice at home service' which allows the care team to go into children's homes to provide one to one care or appropriate support. For more information see

Confraternally Yours,

Baron of Fetternear


Thursday 16 April 2009


Today is the 82nd birth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI. Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Bavaria, Germany. His father was a policeman, and his mother was the daughter of artisans from Rimsting. Joseph was born on a Holy Saturday and was baptized the same day during the Easter Vigil.

In 1939 he entered minor seminary in Traunstein. Life in the seminary at that time was not that easy, especially because of the harsh treatment they all received during the Nazi regime. Although he was opposed to the Nazis, he and the others were forced to join the German anti-aircraft troops. Soon after the war ended in 1945, he reentered the seminary along with his brother Georg, finally being ordained priests on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul – June 29, 1951.

Two years after his ordination, Joseph earned his doctorate in theology at the University of Munich. He began teaching theology at the University of Bonn in 1959 with his inaugural lecture, “The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy.’’ This teaching stint paved the way for his distinguished career as professor of theology in several theological schools in Germany. He became widely known as a theologian in and out of his country. During the Second Vatican Council, at the age of 35, he was appointed chief theological advisor of Cardinal Joseph Frings, then Archbishop of Cologne.

Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising on March 25, 1977. He was made cardinal on June 27, 1977. Pope John Paul II designated Cardinal Ratzinger in 1981 as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission. He was elected Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.

We pray for Pope Benedict XVI on his 82nd Birth Anniversary. We thank the Lord for giving him to us as father, teacher, and guide on our journey of Faith. Provided with a strong example of Christian Charity and devotion, working together as fellow Christians we must fulfill our mission of proclaiming faith, hope, and love with sincere devotion and with utmost self-giving.

A national hero of Portugal will be canonized on April 26 in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

On April 26 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize a Portuguese national hero who toward the end of his life became a Carmelite monk and served the poor, Nuno de Santa Maria Àlvares Pereira, O. Carm. (1360-1431), the Condestável (“Constable,” meaning General) known in Portugal as “the Father of the Nation.”

In the April issue of Inside the Vatican, the Portuguese woman whose blind eye was healed after praying to Blessed Nuno, speaks for the first time on her tragic accident and the moment of her healing.

Almost a century ago, Pope Benedict XV beatified Nuno (January 23, 1918), and proposed him as a model for the Catholic soldiers then engaged in combat during World War I. So one Pope Benedict, the 15th, beatified Nuno, and a second, Benedict XVI, will canonize him.

Nuno is considered the founder of the Bragança Royal Family Dynasty of Portugal which ruled from 1640 until 1910. (Nuno’s daughter, Beatriz, married Alfonso, son of John I, whom he helped bring to power, starting the Aviz Dynasty.) The majority of Catholic royal families in Europe and Brazil claim lineage from him, including the recently beatified Charles of Austria, the last Hapsburg Emperor. Queen Isabella of Spain was one of Nuno’s granddaughters.

Nuno even had descendants in the British royal family: Isabella’s daughter (his great-granddaughter) was Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, and her daughter (his great-great-granddaughter) was Queen Mary Tudor ... Another descendant was Catherine of Bragança, wife of King Charles II (all his children were illegitimate to mistresses) who conversely became a Catholic on his deathbed in 1685.

Blessed Nuno is most highly regarded in his country for masterminding the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. There, Portugal, in concert with England, stopped an invasion by Castile. Both allied nations were then in obedience to Pope Urban VI in Rome, whilst Castile and France followed the Antipope of Avignon, Clement VII (1378-1394).

Nuno fought and won many other battles between 1383 and 1411, and, after peace was established with Castile, Nuno participated in the expedition in 1415 to Ceuta in North Africa, an action that was considered the first European missionary effort ... [M]onuments to him are scattered throughout Portugal and in many former Portuguese ... colonies.

He was made the 3rd Count of Ourém in 1383, and his main feudal castle was in Ourém, the county where Fátima is located. He believed prayer, penance and commitment to the poor and needy, to be the true calling of nobility and, following the death of his wife, Nuno entered a Carmelite monastery he had established, taking the religious name Friar Nuno of Saint Mary.

He was renowned for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is considered the Founder of the Secular Order because the secular Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, better known as the Confraternity of the Holy Constable, which he founded in Lisbon to support his work with the poor with contributions from its noble members, eventually evolved into the present Carmelite Third Order. This original Confraternity was re-established last year on November 6 (Nuno’s Feast Day) and hopes to be an active branch of the Secular Order providing funds for work with the poor and homeless of Lisbon in remembrance of Dom Nuno.

When fighting the Castilians, he was renowned for his fairness to his enemies, and three times crossed the border to feed the peoples in the neighboring kingdom during famines, and to provide for the widows and orphans of the war. Pope Pius XII was on the verge of canonizing him by decree in 1940, but was dissuaded by Salazar (the leader of Portugal at the time). Blessed Nuno’s cause then remained at a stalemate. The rediscovery of his original grave site in 1996 in Lisbon by archaeologists proved that he had received a burial suitable for the last great knight of medieval Christendom. John Haffert, co-founder of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, regarded Nuno as the peacemaker who went to war and the precursor of Fátima, and promoted [sincere] devotion until his death in 2001.

The Blessed Nuno Society ( founded in Ourém Castle by Timothy Heinan and Blue Army Protector Bishop Constantino Luna, OFM, was later headquartered in the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota (USA) as a Private Association of the Faithful, continuing to promote devotion to Nuno and, by engaging in works of charity on behalf of orphans and the homeless, being faithful to his example. The association administers orphanage projects in Portugal, Mexico and the Carib bean.

The miracle of canonization took place in the Jubilee Year 2000, when a devotee of Blessed Nuno and volunteer at Ourém Castle, Guilhermina de Jesus, was blinded in her left eye as a result of boiling oil splashing on it, when she was frying some fish and chips. After all medical treatment proved unsuccessful, Guilhermina and her family prayed several novenas to Blessed Nuno, and her sight returned in that blinded eye inexplicably. On July 3, 2008, alongside a decree of heroic virtue, the Holy Father approved this healing as a miracle obtained through Blessed Nuno’s intercession.

This will be the first canonization of a Portuguese saint since that of St John de Brito, SJ, Jesuit missionary and martyr, in 1947. As a member of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance, it will be the first canonization in this branch of the family since that of St Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi in 1669. The significance of two Popes named Benedict elevating Nuno to the last two stages of sainthood cannot be overstated. St Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Christian monasticism, from time immemorial has been considered the Father of Christian Europe, and so often Pope Benedict has lamented the continent departing from its Christian roots. The canonization of Nuno is a call to the whole of Europe to rediscover its soul, by imitating a man whose Catholic faith shone in both his public and private life.

Nuno’s feast day is obligatory among Carmelites of the Ancient Observance on November 6 and optional among the Discalced Carmelites on April 1, who have also a Portuguese cause impending, that of Fatima seer, Sister Lucia dos Santos, whose family had a great devotion to the Condestável. Having been a Prior of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John (Order of Malta) and Commander of the Minor Religious Military Orders under the observance of the Cistercians of Alcobaça’s rule, such as Saint Benedict of Aviz and Saint Michael of the Wing, Dom Nuno will also be venerated as a Saint or Protector of these Orders.

His official name will be Saint Friar Dom Nuno de Santa Maria Àlvares Pereira, O.Carm, but for the Portuguese he will always be fondly regarded as the Holy Constable or Beato Nuno.

(source: Andrew Rabel of "Inside the Vatican" Magazine)

Fr Simon Henry, SchLJ

Chaplain General

Tuesday 14 April 2009

The Italian Earthquake

Confreres and Consoeurs,

You will all be aware of the terrible tragedy which struck l’Aquila in Italy, on 6th April. According to the Italian Red Cross at least 260 people are dead, 1,000 injured and 30 missing. The earthquake has left around 28,000 people homeless in the city, which has a population of 70,000.

Whilst the immediate relief work has been finished, there will be much to do in caring for the physically, emotionally and psychologically injured over the coming months. It is also critical that these people, many of whom have lost everything, get shelter, food and water.

Whilst a number of appeals have already been raised, should you feel called to provide financial assistance to the victims of this terrible disaster, then you may care to make a donation via the Commandery of Great Britain. Our Order already has an international relief team working in the l’Aquila area, and any funds which we are able to raise will be gratefully received by the Order in Italy to help them in the challenge which lies ahead. This will not be over quickly for them.

I do feel that this is a very worthwhile cause, not only in assisting those who are injured, distraught or homeless, but also in supporting our brothers and sisters in the Order who are working hard in difficult and trying circumstances. It is always comforting to know that, although others cannot be there to help in person, they are at least able to assist in whatever way is possible. I am sure that we will all remember both the victims and aid workers in our prayer.

If you do feel able to help, then please make your cheques payable to “OSLJ – Commandery of Great Britain”, and forward them to me at my address. I will acknowledge all donations, and thank you in advance for your compassion and generocity.

With confraternal best wishes,

Dr Nigel Wilson KLJ


Sunday 12 April 2009