Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost – August 28, 2011 by Fr. Perez

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Just a very few words because the Mass is longer today, and we have a ceremony following just afterwards.

First of all, I want to introduce and welcome His Excellency Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas, the Ordinary of the Diocese of Bathery in Kerala, India. He is also the Bishop Spiritual Director of the Knights of Malta. I want to welcome Barry Garland and his son and our fellow Knights. Barry is the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. And he is honoring us, as well, with a visit with his presence here today.

I want to explain that following this Mass immediately don’t go anywhere. I’ll go out for a little while and then come back in again. And there will be a ceremony directly following this Mass. Now, I won’t give it all away, although I’ve heard various versions of what’s (Father laughing) — I’ve heard some pretty fantastic versions of what people think is going to happen. But you will see what’s going to happen when it happens.

I just want you to know the context of this. First of all, the Bishop’s visit to us, having Barry Garland here and fellow Knights, it’s an honor for our parish. And what’s happening today is — oh, Father Dunn is here, too, Father Dunn, a fellow Knight and Grand Prior of the Knights of Malta — what are you doing back there? Come up at Communion time and help anyway.

It’s a great honor for our parish to have them here, it is such a blessing for us. And what will follow is somewhat unprecedented. I think you will have no idea how unprecedented it actually is until it happens, but what I want to explain about it is this is a ceremony pertaining to the Knights of Malta. Now, for those of you who don’t know what the Knights of Malta are, it is an order of chivalry within the Church. It is a crusading order, probably the most noble, dating to the year 1050 or thereabouts. So, those little ones, if you remember, certainly not most of us, but the little teeny ones, you’ll be around for the thousandth anniversary of the Order. So we’ll have another special Mass here at that time in 39 years from now. Remember I said that. (Father laughing) I won’t.

It’s an ancient order of chivalry within the Church. It’s called officially the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It’s not a religious order like the Jesuits or one of those. It’s an order of chivalry and they are two different things. What will follow this Mass is a ceremony of the Order of Chivalry of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of Malta. Now in it, it being an order of chivalry, you know it’s basically military. It’s a military order if you want to look at it that way. There is, for all concerned in the military, there is a hierarchy of command. And so when you see me promising submission to the Grand Master, for example, it doesn’t give him the power to move me to Jupiter, Florida as his private chaplain. I hope not. But this is the chain of command in a military organization. Any military chaplain promises to follow the orders as it pertains to the military of his superior, the Colonel and the General. There is an order, a hierarchy within a military organization, as there is.

So I wanted to put that in context for you because I know people will — their imaginations will run wild after that. And I won’t say anything more, except please pray for all of us. His Excellency has come all the way from India for this — Kerala is in the South of India on the West Coast towards the bottom. He is an ordinary diocesan bishop of the Syro-Malankara rite, and following this Mass, the 12:30 Mass, the Bishop will say the Mass in his own rite, in his language. And I know many people said they were going to attend both Masses. It will be a very good experience to see one of the other rites of the Church. As you know, within the Catholic Church there are 23 different rites, of which ours, which we call the Latin rite, is the largest. But the others are, they are as Catholic or more so some of them than you and I. They have a different way of saying Mass which is very ancient. His Excellency uses the liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem, which goes back to St. James, who was the very first Bishop, the Apostle St. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem. And the rite of the Mass that he uses is the rite that comes to us from St. James. Our Mass comes to us through the Roman end of things through St. Peter and St. Paul.

I guess that will about sum it up. Don’t go anywhere immediately following Mass. As I say, we will end the Mass, come out for the ceremony, and then, after that will be the formal end of Mass.