Monday, May 9, 2011
May 9 -- Feast of Saint George Preca
Does this man look crazy to you?
They thought he was crazy, but of course he was just Maltese. I'm sure the difference is subtle but important.
George had big ideas about how to spread the Gospel of Jesus, ideas that might have been taken as founding a whole New Religious Movement (cult) if he had not been working within the Catholic Church. He founded a group called MUSEUM, taking as its slogan the Latin phrase "Magister, Utinam Sequator Evangelium Universus Mundus! (Master, that the whole world would follow the Gospel!"
Of course, the Latin in that strikes me as pretty odd, since Magister means master as in teacher, but the translation for Master as Lord is Dominus. The difference might be unimportant, but it could raise the question about whether the Magister was Jesus or George. Most likely, the slogan followed the nickname ("the Museum") of the group home for spiritually minded lay people that George founded after an intense stint of solitary meditation. The small religious order he built was questioned for its unorthodox approach to missionary work. He wanted to evangelize the working class by working class lay people demonstrating lives of Christian devotion.
He struggled to get his new Society off the ground. It was ordered closed for a time. It was ridiculed in the newspapers, and in the streets. It was investigated by the Curia. But eventually, his work was vindicated and flourished. In fact, after death, Pope John Paul II venerated and beatified him, and Pope Benedict XVI canonized him, speaking in Maltese. He is called the second apostle of Malta (Paul of Tarsus being the first).
I am struck by the similarity between him and leaders of other twentieth century New Religious Movements. He sought true devotion to God outside the recognized, existing Church structures. He focused on marginalized populations, especially the working class. He plainly was making up the name and motto as the group emerged and evolved. And yet having done this within the existing larger Church, he found more rapid acceptance than the NRMs that have made their own paths.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM