Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Grand Master’s Advent Message

he image of the Christ-child laying in the manger at Bethlehem is all about us in the Christmas season. That God should become incarnate for us in what is weak and vulnerable speaks of His great love for us. The helpless and innocent child evokes in us a desire to both protect and care -  characteristics that must abound in members of an Order that is both Hospitaller and Military. Soon after his birth the Christ-child was in need not just of loving care but also of protection from Herod's attack. To carry out our Christian calling in the Order we need the instincts both of the carer but also of the protector.

The unique Christian and chivalrous calling is to allow those instincts to come to bear not just where the recipients easily evoke our sympathy but also to care and protect those who would otherwise be rejected and shunned - no more so than in our original vocation to care for those made outcasts by the disfigurements of leprosy - in the poorest of the poor. So many people are caught up in the pursuit of the things of this world - its honours, rights and privileges - but we must take all that in our stride and hold true to those promises we made when we entered the Order. 

Our mission of Christian brotherhood is expressed in a very special way for us within the Order.   Ecumenism is at the heart of our mission and we must strive for the development of respect and understanding within the world that we live. This can be best expressed in a hope of understanding between religions. During this sacred period, we should remember in our prayers the challenges faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in the East, calling to mind the witness given by the Magi who travelled to greet the Lord in Bethlehem. 

And so, my dear friends, as we look on that image of the Christ-child this Christmas let it call us to renew our commitment to be active in the Order so that our lives may be infused with that spirit of this Christmas season which will make our lives truly noble before God.

My prayers for each and every one of you and all the good work you do.

Jan Count Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz
Grand Master of the Order of Saint Lazarus