Dear Knights of St. John,
For two months, when I visited Malta, as I attended Holy Mass, I daily walked on the marble which covers the dust of the great heroes of Malta. With the limited knowledge of Latin that I know, I read of the deeds, charity, and deaths of the old and even the very young who died for a cause greater than themselves. As I prayed for those holy souls who still needed mercy and to those saints who intercede for Malta, I felt as if the dead were reaching up from those vaults into the life that is the Church and pleading for a renewal of the vital energy which they commanded when on earth. Those Knights gave of themselves in sacrifices which modern men and women rarely conceive. Their lives were reflected in their deaths. Some died on the battlefield, some in the hospitals of the Order, some in the peace of their palaces. Yet, their days of violence and prayer produced fruit which lasted throughout the centuries, until this present day. What impressed me was their love of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and their love of the Pontiff, the Bridge between Christ and us, the Pope.
These men were not afraid. Their fearlessness to stand up for the Faith, in a manner which now seems foolish and over-zealous to some, is needed as much today as in the days of the Great Siege. The Church is under the greatest siege She has ever seen since those days of bloodshed. The persecution is more subtle, but as dangerous and as deadly as then. As our dear Pope recently stated, the Enemy is within. The Enemy of the Church is a protean being which changes like a chameleon to capture the hearts and minds of the Faithful, turning goodness into mediocrity, and labelling sin as normal. One of the greatest evils is the mindless disobedience to Rome in matters regarding the Liturgy. Holy Mother Church has been given the Pearl of Great Price. This Pearl in the Tridentine Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass offered up for centuries in the very Co-Cathedral which houses the dust of those who died preserving that heritage. Today, I wonder whether the Knights of St. John realize that the real resurrection of the Faith, in Truth and Beauty can only happen with the renewal of the Traditional Latin Mass? The holiness of the past cannot be relied upon in story or in fiction. The past is only a primary structure, a foundation for the future. If those who followed the brave and the bold settle for what is less than perfect, settle for the easy and the mediocre, the building which is the Kingdom of God on earth cannot stand.
Why do I make this connection between the Knights and the Traditional Latin Mass? The ancient words of Consecration, the silence of the Canon, the unspeakable Beauty of the Chant created a sublime experience for all,even those who were illiterate. Today, we in the Church are in great need for a challenge to the ugliness of sin. We need chevaliers who would die for the Glory of God. For me, and for our present Pope, this Glory is seen in the Liturgy which feeds the mind, the heart, and the soul in ways which are not even understood. Yet, the Knights of St. John, whose Patron is the Greatest of Men, as Christ Himself stated, and who is the Greatest Prophet, those very Knights fail in the prophetic role which Pope Benedict XVI has presented to the world. The motu proprio of July 2007, Summorum Pontificum is not only ignored, but blatantly suppressed in Malta. Why? And, where are the champions who would be obedient and see the necessity for this Great Gift in the face of a crumbling culture? I challenge the Knights to renew their allegiance to Rome by championing this one Gift-the Tridentine Mass.
One might say to me, who are you to challenge the Knights? It is not my challenge, but that of the Church. The old Latin phrase, lex orandi, lex credendi, how we worship is how we believe, is the reason that Pope Benedict instituted the motu proprio. He merely carried out the words of Vatican II, in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy section 36, that Latin was to be maintained but the vernacular allowed.
Why the Traditional Mass is so important is not merely that the Church wishes to preserve the sacred language of ritual, but that the People of God are lifted out of the ordinariness of the daily life of sin and anxiety into a Mystery of Faith which defies explanation. The great mystery of Transubstantiation was one of the causes for which the Knights of old died. Rather than deny the True Presence, rather than deny the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and His Representative on Earth, the Pope, they fought to the death. And, here, in the Co-Cathedral, we have a testimony to their awareness of the Truth and their courage to defy convention and ease, acceptance and perhaps, slavery, facing what few in our times would even consider, that is to die for Truth and Beauty.
If I seem presumptuous in challenging the Knights, it is because I passionately love the Church, and the Tridentine Mass. I am convinced that Malta, like a child dying from malnutrition, needs the New Evangelization called for by Blessed John Paul II. And, I am convinced that the Traditional Catholic Mass will lead to the revitalization of real Faith among the Maltese, who, like the Church of Ephesus, are being addressed by Christ, Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5
Knights were made for battle, not for honors or status, or pageantry. The battle is raging.