Listen to His Eminence, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Grandmaster of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, on the link below.
Celebrations for the feat of Our Lady of Palestine took place yesterday, October 25th, at the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned. The mass, celebrated by the Grand Prior, H.L. Carmel Zammit, KC*HS, Bishop of Gibraltar, was followed by a drinks reception for members and new candidates. At the reception the Lieutenant, H.E. J Gaggero, KC*HS, addressed the members and candidates present.
The following text is that of the meditation given by the Lieutenant at the reception.
A Meditation on the Feast of our Lady of Palestine
As we, the Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Palestine together with those who will be joining our ranks next year, I have been invited to share some thoughts on our Order and on Our Lady of Palestine.
This Order is intrinsically bound to the Holy Sepulchre from which Jesus rose from the dead 3 days after his passion.
At the start of last supper Jesus said: “‘I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”. I have often thought that Jesus, the Word of God, had planned for …. had longed for… this Passover from the moment of Adam and Eve’s original sin when he knew that the sin would have to be redeemed.
The Jewish Passover meal follows a very specific structure:
- At the Festival Blessing the 1st cup of wine is drunk;
- At the Passover Narrative and Little Hallel one drinks the 2nd cup of wine.We are all familiar with the words of the consecration:”Take and eat; this is my body.” and…“Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” What’s significant here is that Jesus said this was for ALL of us. It wasn’t just for the Jews, and I’ll say a little more about this later.
- Then comes the Main Meal where one eats the roasted lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs and spices after which the 3rd cup of wine – Cup of Blessing is drunk.
- The Passover is completed with the singing of the Great Hallel and drinking the 4th cup of wine, and it is closed when the priest or host says the phrase, “TEL TELESTI” which is interpreted as “IT IS FINISHED” or “IT IS CONSUMATED”.
Jesus never drank the 4th cup at the Last Supper in the upper room.
Instead, he told his disciples “I tell you, from now on I shall not drink the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you anew in the kingdom of my Father.”
But he knew that there was a final cup to be drunk to complete the Passover Meal.
At Gethsemane he prayed: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will” … and he repeated this prayer another 2 times as he prayed before his arrest.
When they brought him to Golgotha and before they nailed him to the cross, they offered him wine drugged with myrrh to dull the pain, but he didn’t accept it.
It was only after all had been fulfilled that Jesus said, “I thirst” and it was then that he drank wine from a sponge lifted to him on a hyssop branch.
The hyssop branch was the prescribed way that the Jews had been instructed by Moses to bless the Passover lamb before the first Passover.
When Jesus drank the wine, he drank the 4th Cup and completed the Passover Meal and said, “It is Finished” and bowed his head and died.
It was 3 o’clock, the time that the horn of the temple would sound to tell the people that it was time to slaughter the Passover lamb.
The Passover that had started in the Upper Room was completed on the cross.
As a sign that this new covenant was for everyone, at the moment of his death “…the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
We come back to the words of the consecration where Jesus said that this was for all of us. Over the millennia God had been including more and more people in his covenants:
God’s first covenant was with Adam and Eve – a husband and a wife – and the basic building block in God’s plan for mankind. This was followed by a covenant with Noah – a family; then with Abraham – a tribe; then Moses – a people; then David – a kingdom.
Each time the circle grew, and more people were included into God’s ever closer covenant relationship with man until finally Jesus instituted a “new and everlasting covenant…for you and for all…so that sins may be forgiven.”
It’s odd to throw in a description of a curtain being torn at the moment of Jesus’ death and to specify that it was “torn from top to bottom”, but the author of Mark’s Gospel was making a very specific point. The curtain he was referring to separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple of Jerusalem.
The Holy of Holies, or Tabernacle, was where God had instructed Moses to place 3 key symbols of God:
1. The tablets of stone on which were written God’s 10 commandments which were contained inside the Ark of the Covenant;
2. The Menorah, which was the lampstand with 7 lamps to be kept lit at all times; and
3. Wine and the Bread of the Presence (in Hebrew “lehem ha pannim” translated literally as “Bread of the Face”), which was 12 cakes of bread prepared by the High Priest each Sabbath.
In these 3 symbols you have the Holy Trinity hidden in the Old Testament! God the Father – represented by the Ark of the Covenant containing the 10 commandments; The Holy Spirit – represented by the Menorah lampstand; and the Son of God, the face of God – the Bread of the Presence and the wine.
Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. On this day he would come out holding the Bread of the Presence and elevate it before the pilgrims to see saying: “behold God’s love for you!”
In 597 BC, just before the Babylonians destroyed the 1st Temple and Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant and hid it. It has remained hidden ever since.
At the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, the Ark of the Covenant hadn’t been in the Holy of Holies for about 630 years.
When the earth shook and the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom the lamps on the Menorah would have been extinguished. The Holy Spirit had departed and would return to descend on the apostles in the upper room 40 days later at Pentecost.
The third member of the Holy Trinity was nailed on the cross – the lamb of God – as an everlasting sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the world and to complete God’s plan for an ever closer and more perfect union with Man.
If the High Priest had realized whom he had arranged for Pilate to order crucified, he would have truly been able to say on that Day of Atonement: “Behold God’s love for you!”
And all of this might have been lost to history and myth had it not been what happened on the 3rd day when Jesus rose from the dead from the Holy Sepulchre as he had foretold.
If it had all been a lie, his disciples would have lost faith in him and the life and teaching of Jesus would have been forgotten. But it wasn’t… and it hasn’t.
Our Church has its origins in that Holy Sepulchre – in the risen Christ – to which the mission of this Order is so closely tied – and continues under the care of those who have followed in the footsteps of Peter under the protection of the mother of Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today as Our Lady of Palestine.
She is depicted here in this image given to us by our Cardinal Grand Master cradling the New Jerusalem, the Church.
Our mission, given to us by the Holy Father, is to pray for and support the Holy Land where our Lord was born, lived, died and rose from the dead.
John A Gaggero
24 October 2021, the Feast of Our Lady of Palestine.
In this last meditation before tomorrow’s feast, the Grandmaster reminds us of the important mission our Blessed Mother continues to perform in the history of salvation.
The Gibraltar Lieutenancy will be celebrating the feat of Our Lady of Palestine tomorrow (25th October, 2021) at the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned. Our Grand Prior, Bishop Carmel Zammit, KC*HS, will preside.
You can access the Grandmaster’s podcast on this link:
Or read it here:
“Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.” (Ps 68:25 NIV).
This is the vision in Psalm 67.
It is not just any procession! It is royal! Immediately, there is a great curiosity: who is in this procession?
The imaginary is confused with reality. And the reality is a fascinating woman: Mary, dressed as a Queen of the East.
In the Holy Land they still call her “Our Lady of Palestine”.
She is not holding a child in her arms, but the model of Jerusalem, or better the simulacrum of the entire Holy Land, of which she was a daughter and then mother of that new Jerusalem, born at Pentecost, which is the Church.
In October, John Paul II established her liturgical memory and the Christian population has perceived that Mary still has a special mission, which is inexhaustible.
The procession is festive, but only for those who join it and allow themselves to be led by it. So Mary is journeying and she accompanies you who love her, you who believe, and you who stand aside, critical, tired and a little resigned.
She lowers her gaze without reproach, full of consolation and prayer.
Hello there! If you want, please join the procession! It will be a new life experience.
Fernando Cardinal Filoni
End of Quote
Deus lo Vult
Today the Grandmaster reminds us to be vigilant and temperate and to look to Mother Mary as a great example on how to live life. You can access the pod cast on this link:
Or you can read the message here:
If you are seeking something, pause for a moment.
Restlessness brings no rewards. I have something to tell you that may interest you: “Be temperate, be vigilant!”. The Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:8) said this to the recipients of one of his letters, he who was a restless disciple of Jesus, so much so that in the Garden of Olives he resorted to the sword, which Christ made him put away.
I would also like to repeat this to you, my friend who is listening to me!
Confucius said that even small excesses can ruin great plans. Be temperate! Drugs bring no rewards! Violence brings no rewards! Selfishness brings no rewards!
The Catechism of the Catholic church lists it among the cardinal virtues, and its synonyms are frugality, moderation, sobriety, order and balance. What can we say? The world loves excess; the media rewards it headlines.
And yet, we are all convinced that consumerism, even though we cannot help ourselves, brings no rewards: nature rebels, social crises increase, life is ruined!
Gide – a tormented French writer – had reinvented the parable of the prodigal son, believing that really living lay in the willingness to have every experience; then he confessed that he had not found happiness in that either.
Temperance… It is temperance that teaches you the pursuit of good, your own and that of others, and it is vested in charity. Noble charity! The charity has a link with God, that gives us a hand to descend the steps in the dark moments of life.
It is not a virtue for the weak. Mary made it her lifelong companion.
You should try it too!
Fernando Cardinal Filoni
End of quote
Deus lo Vult
As we prepare for the feast of Our Lady of Palestine, on October 25th, our Grandmaster, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, invites us to meditate further on the passion of God in our hearts.
The Grandmaster has released a series of Podcasts that can be listened to on the Order’s website. The first pod cast can be found on the following link:
The text is also available below:
“You must carry God’s passion in your heart; for it is man’s greatest consolation!”, was what one medieval mystic reminded those who visited him; and another commented that “nothing can help or serve you except God’s martyrdom and His bitter suffering”.
Passion is not a feeling proper to God. It is human, deeply human.
That is why God had no other option other than become human himself and take on that feeling as a burden. Those who experience passion know that it has a strong carnal involvement and the heart truly feels great consolation. Lovers, who carry within themselves the asceticism of their relationship, know this well.
Mary knew it too, as the prototype of every human being touched by God’s passion, of that God who wanted to give form to Christ’s humanity. She bore the sign of it through her own motherhood, and she did not shrink from sharing in God’s ‘martyrdom and suffering’.
I will say no more! Although every day there is a demon that sows doubt in your heart, takes away your breath and plots to lessen God’s passion in your heart. The restlessness that runs through the spirit, if it burns the passion leaves only ashes, but there is always an appeal to mercy, which is a divine predicate or attribute.
The old medieval mystic is right; Just think about it!
If you do not carry the passion of God in your heart, you cannot experience the greatest consolation!
Fernando Cardinal Filoni
End of quote.
Deus lo Vult.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Mt 20:18)
(For the full articles please press the links in the following images)
The Grand Master, Cardinal Filoni, has urged all Knights and Dames to read the Lenten Message, published by the Holy Father (see image below).
In his message, Cardinal Filoni also states the importance of direction in our lives and how aiming for Christ can help us. He invites us to journey towards conversion, to believe the Gospel, exercise charity and get to Christ through prayer.
His Holiness’ Lenten Message can be accessed by clicking on his picture. A link will take you to the Vatican Website where you can read his message in English.
Please join the Gibraltar Lieutenancy, this Lent, by praying for the Holy Land, The Magisterium, the Latin Patriarchate, His Holiness the Pope, the Church, people of other faiths and the rest of the world. We hope that the pandemic that has kept us in a ‘Lenten state,’ this past year, will soon pass so that we can celebrate the empty tomb this Easter. And celebrate by returning to our churches for the Easter Vigil and our Paschal song.
Deus Lo Vult
Members of the EOHSJ, Gibraltar Lieutenancy, have taken part in liturgical celebrations for decades, especially Corpus Christi. The usual diocesan celebration sees the Diocese meet in the John Macintosh Square for outdoor mass. First communicants, parish groups, representatives from Government, the Armed Services and many Catholics attend mass, sing songs and then accompany the Blessed Sacrament, in procession, to the Cathedral for Benediction. Members of the EOHSJ – Gib are no exception. They attend, worship, process and take part.
Last year (2019), the Knights were given the privilege of guarding the Blessed Sacrament in procession. The conversation after Benediction was based on France, the loss of Notre Damme, and the heroic Fr Jean-Marc Fournier, KHS, who ran into the burning Cathedral to save the Crown of Thorns. In truth, this author thought that this year’s post Benediction conversation would be arid, in comparison. Thankfully, the outcome, at the Cathedral parish (Mass and Benediction), was brilliant, and the post Benediction conversation was positive, albeit mostly about Corona Virus.
The usual procession and outdoor mass had been cancelled, just like most of the liturgical events these past three months. Nevertheless, some faithful Catholics got together, under the Covid-19 Rules for religious gatherings, for what turned out to be a joyous day.
The Lieutenancy took part in official functions at the Cathedral. The mid-day mass ended with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A reduced cohort of knights provided an honour guard for Parish Administrator, Fr Ghio, who exposed the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration and led the faithful in a reverent rendition of the Tantum Ergo. Chancellor JJ Cortés, KCHS, and P Lyon, KHS, represented the EOHSJ, during this ceremony.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament then followed. Numerous adorers took part in staying with the Lord all afternoon until Solemn Benediction. Perhaps it would be a good time now to say how absolutely beautiful the Cathedral looked. The decorations were stunning.
Solemn Benediction was led by the Bishop, Mgr C Zammit, KC*HS, our grand prior. The Vicar General, Mgr Pardo, Parish Administrator, Fr Ghio, Fr Alvarez and Fr Gasorik also attended. (They concelebrated at mass after the Benediction too). The Cathedral choir sang marvellously, and the Cathedral Alter Servers did a splendid job during the liturgy. The Honour Guard for the Blessed Sacrament was provided by H.E, the Lieutenant Emeritus, C Sacarello, KGCHS, Chan. J Cortés KCHS, Lay Master of Ceremonies D Duo, KHS, and Secretary, C J Cortés, KHS.
We now look forward to next year and hope that our procession and mass may return to normal, thus allowing more of the faithful to take part.
Deus lo Vult
In a recent publication, on OESSH.VA, the Grandmaster, HE, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, spoke about the presence of young people in the Order. He has called on Lieutenancies to share their experiences of different youth programmes. It is hoped that this will inform possible ways forward to involve the youth in more activities.
For the full article please press the link on the Jerusalem Cross:
The new Jerusalem Cross is out! The image link above will take you to the latest edition of our Order’s magazine. In it you will be able to read the latest information on the EOHSJ. Plus, you will be able to get to know more about our new Grandmaster.
Deus lo vult.
October saw a delegation of Knights and Dames travel to the Holy Land on pilgrimage with family and friends. Although it was not the first trip to the Middle East for some of our members, it was the first time the Gibraltar Lieutenancy organised an official visit to the land where Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose again. As such, it proved to be an inspiring and emotive trip, one which will be remembered by all the pilgrims for a long time.
The pilgrims were under the spiritual direction of the Lieutenancy’s Grand Prior, HE C Zammit, KC*HS, Bishop of Gibraltar. The Bishop celebrated daily masses for the group and provided opportunities for the pilgrims to go to confession. His sermons focussed the theme for the day and tied in with feast days and the particular holy site the group visited. The Order’s prayers provided a good start for morning prayer, as did the Holy Rosary. Together with the Bishop’s daily meditations, this experience proved to be nothing less than an encounter with the living Christ and with each other.
The visits were led by a local guide, James Abed Rabo, who gave the group useful information about Jesus’ homeland and His life. James also provided an eye-opening insight into the current strife faced by Christians living in the Holy Land. The latter became more evident during the group’s visit to Bethlehem in Palestine.
Nevertheless, each of the holy sites left an impact on the pilgrims. Some places affected some more than others. The peace at Magdala was impressive, as were the mosaics at Gethsemene. The jars of wine in Cana were huge, the heat in Jericho arid, the silence on board the boat on Galilee deafening. Each place the group went, retracing the good Lord’s footsteps in His land, had its particular enchantment, or should one say: grace.
Perhaps the most impactful moment for the author was in the Holy Sepulchre. Stripping the crowds aside, with the pushing and shoving of tourists clambering for a position in the Aedicule, one could, with focus, imagination and lots of love, find the sacred within the empty tomb.
Another grace filled moment was perhaps best witnessed by the group, who arrived at Calvary at the same time a priest elevated the Blessed Sacrament and said: “This is my Body which will be given up for you.” To be there, on Golgotha, in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist was simply beyond words.
During the stay in Jerusalem, the Knights and Dames were able to meet HE Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate. It was at this meeting that HE Marcuzzo presented the Pilgrim Shell to those Knights and Dames who had completed the prerequisites for the award. HE warmly welcomed Bishop Zammit and the pilgrims and hoped that they would return soon.
Thanks must go to Nena Gaggero, DHS, and her dedicated team, for their help in organising the trip. A mention must also go to all those pilgrims who accompanied the members of the Order on this trip. Their prayerful character and positive participation made the journey extra special.
The Lieutenant, HE J Gaggero, KC*HS, has already started preparing the next Lieutenancy Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Those members interested should write to directly to the Secretary, C J Cortés KHS. Non-members who might be interested in joining the next pilgrimage can contact the Lieutenancy through the contact form on this website for further information.