d. The perception of man

The perception of man is evident in the tasks and the position of the different classes of the members of the church.

The religious priest is an equal member of the community and subdued under the prior. Diocesan  priests in that day and age have not been well off at all. More than once the Regulations of the Order refer to voluntary stipends for diocesan priests, who provided services for the Order.

The contemporary Canon Law in those days counted not only priests and deacons among the clergy, but also e.g. sub-deacons and acolytes. They should serve the priest at the altar and accompany him when administering Holy Communion to the Sick. The Psalter is read every night by five clerics for the benefactors of the house.

The perception of man in general in the Rule and the first Statutes reveal the essence of the spiritual foundation of the service of the Order of St. John: The Faithful themselves become Saints because God dwells in them. The Brethren must witness this holiness, e.g. when going abroad.

The perception of the Poor and Sick is a particularly special source for elaborating on our subject: They are called the "Poor of Christ" or the "Poor of Our Lord". Therefore the "Poor of Christ" are the "Holy Poor", in whose name the Rule is entitled and who are to be served like a Lord because they are Lords. Having to be served "quasi dominus" can be interpreted in two different ways: On the one hand as "like A Lord" - note that in these days "Lord" was used as a title of nobility. On the other hand "quasi dominus" may be translated as "like THE Lord", i.e. like God or like Christ. The oldest Latin and French text allow both interpretations, whereas the oldest German text decided for the interpretation "like A Lord". I am not going to go into any length reflecting the many discussions, which of these interpretations may be the correcter one. I rather merge both into one:

By serving the Sick like Lords the Brother serves the Lord,

which is the proclaimed aim of the Order. No other place in the respective documents reveals more clearly that Christ's words "Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me" are to be put into action. The Hospital is meant to be a community of Saints where all mutually contribute to everybody else's sanctification. The sick are called to be an instrument to sanctify the brothers and following this vocation makes them holy themselves. The Brethren glorify the Lord through their service to the sick, which always was seen as a holistic service aimed at body, mind and soul. In doing so the Brethren sanctify the Sick, the service itself and themselves. Even the house where this mutual sanctification takes place thus becomes holy. Now we understand why the Regulations use the word "holy" so frequently.

Blessed Gérard
This page is part of the publication: Blessed Gérard and his "everlasting brotherhood": The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

This page was last updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 14:39:01


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