New Knights of Malta by Frank5

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The Investitute ceremony of the Knight of Malta

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									                                                            New Knights of Malta
                                                                  by Frank Kaufmann, 11/08/12
                                                                                      Page 1
On December 15, 20 new knights were initiated to Knights Hospitallers of the
Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta, at The Breakers in Palm
Beach, 16 men, 4 women.

The investiture process concludes in an elaborate ceremony said to be over 900 years
old.

Knights live by the motto, Pro Fide, Pro Ultimate Hominum, “For the Faith and in the
Service of Humanity.” The obligations of Knights and Dames are captured in the
symbolism of the 8 point Maltese Cross. The four arms represent the four cardinal
virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, and the 8 points are signs of
what are called “the Right Beatitudes,” spiritual joy, live without malice, weep over
my sins, humble myself to those who injure me, love justice, be merciful, be sincere
and pure of heart, and suffer persecution.

The ritual of investiture is elegant, slow, steady, and possessed of enormous sincerity
and sobriety. Each knight binds him or herself to symbols of Christian life idealized by
the order, water for purification – a bowl held before the postulants to place and
ritually wash their hands, light for the grace of Christ – a candle held before the
postulants on which they place their hands at this vow, the sword, touched by each
postulant to defend faith and the servants of Christ, and several other symbols from
the life of the early members of the order.

An outsider gazing into the room might well miss the depth of devotion and
commitment being celebrated and transferred among those gathered. But with
clarity and explanation, even a devoted skeptic would be hard pressed to mount
mockery for the honorable virtues unfolding in such thick concentration.
Contemporary culture, so awash in transient, self-absorption can only stand to benefit
from citizens who quietly live their lives bound in such rigorous ways to the welfare of
others.

The investiture ceremony is the highlight of the weekend, but the whole process is
near three days. On the first evening, postulants – those to become Knights, are
carefully taught each detail of what they will affirm and live through the next day.
They are presented plainly the seriousness of the vows they are soon to take. Each
vow, each virtue, each commitment is presented unadorned and not made soft.
Several times during the rehearsal the Prince Grand Master Nicholas Papnicolaou told
all gathered to be sure they are ready for these steps, that they agree with the values
and virtues. “Please see me or any of the leaders this evening if you have any
questions at all.” It was at once stern, yet compassionate and familial.

Receptions and events for guests and family gave the weekend something of the feel
of a university graduation. Friends and family were present watching a somber,
                                                           New Knights of Malta
                                                                 by Frank Kaufmann, 11/08/12
                                                                                     Page 2
ancient ceremony with pride, many struggling to capture on camera the special
moment for their own loved one being honored.

To spend the weekend in this community was to reinforce in me a constant in my life,
namely genuine wonder at the unceasing flow of good done in the name of religion
and by religious believers. I am struck with the strong feeling that unless a person is
active religiously, this particular abundance of good in the world either simply is not
known, or it is taken for granted.

While with the Knights I met Brother Pat Selvey, OSJ Grand Priory of the Carolina's,
whose project Hydrating Humanity has just completed the digging of his 185th fresh
water well in Africa. This work of one man that saves 1000's of lives from death and
illness from the effects of drinking polluted water. Giving clean water to communities
not only saves live, but provides the very basis for all other social good to unfold in
these villages.

I met founder of Mom's Against Hunger Gayla Holley whose work provides nutritional
meals, clothing and medical aid to needy families around the world, food for Africa,
or clothing for South America, and even the shipping of essential water filtration
pumps to help fight cholera for Haiti’s earthquake victims. Where has her work taken
her in the last weeks, personally distributing 1000's of meals? Staten Island, New York

Eleni Papanicolaou - Karydis Gr. COSJ, upon discovering that American hospitals
pay huge costs to destroy perfectly good, effective, but expired medicines, began to
organize the rescue and distribution of these precious medicines world-wide. In just a
short time, Eleni has overseen the shipping and distribution of 7 containers of
medicines to impoverished nations.

This weekend once again I find myself among religious people in which the amount
of service, sacrifice, compassion, and good going on per capita is near
overwhelming. Perhaps religious people doing good is in its odd way, not news. Also
there exists the unspoken prohibition in polite society against promoting or expressing
enthusiasm over religiously inspired activity. As society declines into consumer-driven
self-absorption, excitement over religiously motivated care, over time came to be
seen as “bad form.”

It is fine to report when the government does good, when dogs do good, or even
when business leaders do good, but somehow polite society does not permit too
much talk of social welfare and positive transformation when its wellspring is any of
the great religions. It is probably true that pushy believers helped this prohibition
along, resulting in the tragic evacuation of the sacred from the public square.

So these are the Knights. What to some might look like a most peculiar ceremony
                                                         New Knights of Malta
                                                               by Frank Kaufmann, 11/08/12
                                                                                   Page 3
with candles, capes, crosses, and swords is in fact a public declaration among a
collection of people, just a tiny few, from whom 100s of 1000s have benefited in
enduring ways, from mere survival to educated and prosperous lives.

								
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