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learning and teaching the Gospel! I searched the Internet and read everything available about him and his Society. On New Year’s Day, our parish priest had the “hospitality team” hold hats with the names of saints printed on paper and placed into the hats; the priest invited us all to pick out a companion saint for the Year of Faith. When the hat came to me, I refused to pick a name because I had already chosen St. George Preca as my companion saint, and I was certain that his name would not be in that hat! So, while others were glowing with the choice of St. Thomas Aquinas and other popularized saints, I felt quite happy to have a hidden saint to accompany me in my hidden life. I made two resolutions: first, I would find out if there was a foundation in the U.S.A. of the Society, and, second, if there was not, I’d offer to help that happen, if possible. Nine months later, I was again in Malta! This time, it was to be immersed in the life of the SDC for three months, visiting centres and talking with members as I learned about their way of life. I went alone, but with the blessing and support of most of my family and of many interested people from America. My goal was to understand how the catechesis was carried out in Malta and how the catechists were formed so that a similar foundation could be established in the heartland of the United States.


“Do you think I can do this?” I had asked Bishop Scicluna as we talked in Rome about M.U.S.E.U.M. and St. George Preca on the day before the installation of Pope Francis. “No,” he answered bluntly. “You can’t. But,” he continued, “With God working through you, it may be possible.” No, I can’t do this. Yes, I shall try, with God’s help! Spiritual baby steps! The ‘Watch” of prayer It was hard to wait five months; I was impatient to be in Malta. However, there were still necessary tasks of business which needed finishing, and my family needed some coaxing into acceptance of my long absence. While waiting, I tried to learn Maltese, with no success. So I turned to reading all the English translation of books and writings by St. George Preca which the Superior General had given to me at our meeting in Rome. He especially encouraged me to pray the prayers of The Watch. I was willing, but was uncertain about changing my established habit of prayer at set times every day. Besides, I had been disappointed by most devotional booklets which had come my way in the past. While a few collections of prayers had been quite useful, most were overly sentimental and sweet, or, worse, addressed God with empty flattery!

Share your love with everyone. St George Preca

However, it was obvious from the time that I took The Watch into my hands that it was altogether different from most devotional guides! Austere, inclusive and powerful, The Watch is a sustained hymn of gratitude, repentance and praise to the Blessed Trinity. It united everything – doctrine, adoration, scripture and prayer – employing all the faculties of mind, heart and will. I was delighted to find that the whole progression of daily prayer was carried out in the company of Saints, with lovely icons, and with emphasis on assuming the appropriate “body language” in prayer. Beauty and responsibility, mystery and morality, awareness of sin and forgiveness, and, above all, the presence of God were on every page. How could I have lived so long without it? The prayers of The Watch, rooted as they are in orthodoxy and Sacred Scripture, are not tired because they are ancient, and as G. K. Chesterton once noted: “Whatever is not ancient is soon old”. Two challenges Although amazed at the inclusive scope of The Watch, I found two challenges in trying to follow the SDC prayers every day: balance and interior focus. Because I loved it and was fascinated at where The Watch was leading me, interiorly, I lost some of my equilibrium. I found myself spending too much time in


No 15 April 2014