Homily by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Collegiate Basilica of Our Lady of Victories, Senglea
7th September 2017
We are today commemorating the birth of a woman. It was a pleasure for me to listen to the report of the speech delivered by Carmen Sammut, the Pro-Rector of the University, to mark the 8th September commemoration of Victory Day, of the Bambina. In her speech, the Pro-Rector called us to grow in our recognition of the important role of women in society, thus echoing Government’s wish for greater participation in the life of the country and in the leadershop of its institutions. You might tell me, you do have a brass neck on you, Mr Archbishop, since you represent an institution where, at least in her hierarchical priesthood, there is no place for women in the Church. Let me assure you that we have many women in the Church who have been entrusted with important positions, even in leadership roles. Just try to visit a cloistered monastery or a nuns’ convent and you will see for yourselves who rules the roost, whether it’s the bishop or the Mother Superior.
We are also celebrating the birth of a woman, the nativity of the Bambina. For us this is an occasion of great joy. In our life of faith, we have always accorded the Mother of Jesus, a great and powerful role. As a nation, we are also celebrating the repeated timely intercession of Our Lady in the history of our people. In one way or another, we always commemorate these historic events that take on a fresh perspective and a new meaning every year since our society is constantly changing. This, in turn, leads to developments in our history and culture. Nevertheless, amid this constant change, one woman remains immutable. Her birth, which is being celebrated across these joyous days, is inscribed in the floor of this splendid basilica: Your nativity, O Blessed Virgin Mary, brought great joy throughout the world. We salute Mary as the cause of our joy, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae. No wonder, then, that on the 8th September 1565 and on the 8th September 1943, the Maltese people experienced the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the Cathedral in Mdina we find an altar dedicated to Our Lady, Patroness of Malta, where a remarkable painting by Gagliardi hangs above it depicting Our Lady looking out to the Grand Harbour with Baby Jesus in her arms blessing our islands. My wish is that this beautiful painting in our principal church of our diocese will always be an image for our times.
There cannot be a recreational aspect in any substance that turns the user into a slave. As we embark on a debate on this issue, it is vital to recognize that all talk about recreation, must be focused on things that build and not destroy people.
We are rejoicing today because throughout its history our nation has always managed to overcome great sieges. At the same time, however, we cannot forget about the sieges that are trying us today. I would like to congratulate our police force that have, in the last hours, won another battle in the war against drugs. My wish is that all of us, Maltese and Gozitan alike, appreciate the relentless work that the forces and the State invest in their fight against this ongoing fierce siege on our society. There cannot be a recreational aspect in any substance that turns the user into a slave. As we embark on a debate on this issue, it is vital to recognize that all talk about recreation, must be focused on things that build and not destroy people. There are particular sieges in society nowadays that enslave innocent people, especially women. While commemorating the nativity of the Bambina, of a young girl, the child of Anne and Joachim, we must also always remind ourselves of the countless women that have been caught up in prostitution rings. By giving reacreation to others, these women have become enslaved and thus are being systematically robbed of their dignity.
We must also always remind ourselves of the countless women that have been caught up in prostitution rings. By giving reacreation to others, these women have become enslaved and thus are being systematically robbed of their dignity.
When discussing approaches to recreational activity, it must never come at the price of trampling on the dignity of the other. With this in mind, I am appealing to the State, represented by you, Acting President, and you, Mr Prime Minister, to join forces to be better equipped to combat what is assailing our society – a siege that one day robs some of their dignity, on another day it tramples on the honour of men and women. Only by working together just like our ancestors did in the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries, shall we emerge victorious.
Nonetheless, let us not forget the intercession of Our Lady. I place our young people, our women, our families, in her hands. We need her protection, to watch over our forces, our army, our government, all civil society. We need the protection of Our Lady so that we would not lose the necessary existential battle of our times. We ask her to come to our aid so that we respect each other, to help us see in each other the image of her Son who will tell us on Judgement Day “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (cf. Mt 25,35). This is where we find Mary’s Son.
When discussing approaches to recreational activity, it must never come at the price of trampling on the dignity of the other
Today we rejoice in her birth because on her nativity we look upon the dawn that brings with it “the sun of justice” (Mal 4,2), her beloved Son. In the Gospel that has just been proclaimed by the deacon, we heard a list of Hebrew names (Mt 1, 1-14b. 18-23). Some of them are famous sinners for in the Bible they are quite notorious. All the same, Mary enters in this earthly family. Other members of this family are considered stars in the constellation of the Jewish people, like Abraham. David, although also a star, was a sinner too. Jesus also descended from Solomon, the son from Uriah’s wife, for the Lord was not bothered, or rather, to use a strong expression, did not disdain [the Virgin’s womb], like we sing in the Te Deum. He did not fret about becoming one of us, God with us in this manner.
On this Solemity of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and Victory Day, I entrust our country to the intercession of Mary.
If we welcome him as Our Lord like our forefathers did, if we welcome his Mother as the one who sustains us. After all, the concluding words we heard in the Gospel were simply: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2,5). All this fills us with courage for when we are sustained by his Mother and her Son, we will surely win the sieges assailing us in our day. Therefore, on this Solemity of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and Victory Day, I entrust our country to the intercession of Mary.
O Blessed Virgin, be the light that guides our leaders. O Mary, be the guiding light for all Maltese and Gozitans. O Mary, help us conquer our strife so that our country will be a worthy example of civilization, charity, solidarity, and compassion where everyone is freed from oppression and slavery.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta