Thursday, September 18, 2014
Malta isn't that bad
A few subsequent thoughts on Cardinal Burke going to the Knights of Malta.
They wouldn't let me into the Knights of Malta, not that I would want join, my mum had quarterings by the score being of a foreign disposition, my father unfortunately was quarterless, not a a single one, totally without an arm to his name. In order to join the English Maltese Knights I think the requirement is to be armigerous for four generations, I don't know how they work it in the US.
Mgr Gilby described the Knights as, "doing the least good with the greates amount of fuss", and yet the few knights I know are as individuals rather splendid people, well educated, invariably well connected, often, if not wealthy, at least comfortably off, but more importantly committed to the faith. True they are of trad stripe but they are landowners, on the continent old European aristocracy, in this country they are lawyers, bankers, writers, accademics, army officers, invariably very well connected, what we might call members of the Catholic Establishment.
We talk a great deal about going out to the peripheries to evangelise but in doing that we the risk of turning the Church into a doughnut, all sides but no centre. The spreading of the faith in Brighton is interesting, the first church St John the Baptist, was built in 1835 by the aristocracy led by the Prince Regent's valid but illicit Catholic wife Maria Fitzherbert, it originally had a bar in it seperating the subscribers, who were wealthy from their staff and the masses who knelt behind them, In 1864 our church was built, according to one historian 'to get away from the smelley poor'. 1887 saw the opening of our daughter Church, the Sacred Heart, Hove, it was part of the movement of wealth along the coast as Brighton grew and spread. It illustrates an alternative to the model of Evangelisation of Evangelium Gaudium.
In the past following Jesus' example of reaching to people like Nicodemus and Simon the Pharisee, the Church has always done good to the poor but tried to evangelise first the upper echelons of society, preferrably the King or the Court, with the expectation they would pass on the faith to their subjects. Jesus after all sends us out ad gentes, to the nations and we were successful at. We used our schools and colleges to form the minds and the very culture, the laws and mores of society. The Jesuits of course were leaders in this.
Since the 1960s everything has changed, now we all do aq great deal of good but with very little effect. Now wouldn't it be exciting if the there was a Cardinal who was young, clear thinking, deeply spiritual, possibly with a bit of American 'get up go', rooted within the Tradition but with a bit of imagination, who had no other duty but to write and teach but mainly to care for and develope an international group of Establishment types. I think that Cardinal Burke could re-invigorate the Knights of Malta and give them a new direction. He could certainly use their influence, their wealth and resources for a very positive effect in the Church. We still need to form the leaders of society. The Knights I know in this country seem to be somewhat disheartened, certainly directionless, possibly more into rubber chicke lunches than serious work for the faith. They lost control of their hospital by a bit of clever sleight of hand, which somehow I doubt would happen if someone like Cardinal Burke was in their corner. They could with the right kind of moral and spiritual leadership and with some enthusiasm become a potent force within the Church and the world, if only someone could give them a vision of what it means to be Catholic today and could cause them to be what they once were the bulwark against the Church's enemies. In the past their Cardinal Patron was given the role as an extra honour, now Burke be could be involved full time, he could bring the back to life.
More could happen with this appointment than some might expect.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake