Sermon By Mgr. A. Devals
The Solemnity of St. George was celebrated last Sunday by the Catholic soldiers of Malaya at a joint Church Parade from all stations, held in the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. A Solemn High Mass comm Pontifice was sung by Fr. E. J. Green M.M., the military chaplain, assisted by Fr. O'Connor, chaplain to the Royal Air Force, as Deacon, and Fr. J. J. Green, C.SS.R., officiating military chaplain, as Subdeacon. L/Cpl. Curran acted as Master of Ceremonies, and all the altar staff were either soldiers or (in the case of the torch bearers) the sons of soldiers. Music was rendered by the joint choirs from Tanglin & Changi military churches, assisted by the Cathedral Choir; the cantor being L/Bdr. J. Bryan. His Lordship the Bishop of Malacca presided at the throne where he was assisted by two officers of the Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders.
After the Gospel he preached an eloquent sermon on St. George, and after relating the traditional story of the slaying of the dragon, he pointed out that today the soldiers of the allied forces were fighting a modern monster as deadly as any known to St. George, and urged them to invoke this patron as well as to imitate him in their adherence to the Catholic Faith, in defence of which they were fighting, and for which if necessary they should be prepared to lay down their lives.
SERMON BY HIS LORDSHIP.
My dear Catholic Soldiers. I am very happy indeed and at the same time I feel very proud to preside over this grand solemnity of St. George's Day and I wish to express to you my heartfelt congratulations for the imposing church parade which you have held to-day in honour of St. George, patron of England and of the British army.
There are very few historical facts to be recorded about the life of St. George, but it is certain that he was a brave and chivalrous soldier in the town of Lyda, Palestine and that he suffered martyrdon in the same place. From the time of his death he was honoured in the East among the greatest of the martyrs and his fame spread in the West also very early.
He was well known in Britain early in the eighth century and a great number of churches were dedicated to him in England before the Norman Conquest. It is conjectured that the crusader king, Richard, Coeur de lion, proclaimed him patron of England.
A little later, in an order of Richard II, to the British Army invading Scotland, every man is commanded to wear sign of the arms of St. George, both on his chest and back, while the pain of death was threatened against any of the enemy's soldiers, who bore the same sign of St. George.
King Edward III founded the Order of the Garter and chose St. George as the patron of the Order.
The chapel dedicated to St. George in Windsor Castle, was built to be the official sanctuary of the Order and a badge of St. George slaying, the dragon was adopted as part of the insignia. This badge of St. George reminds us of a popular and beautiful legend about the Saint.
According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country around a city of Lybia, making its lair in a marshy swamp.
Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town and so people gave it two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger.
But when sheep failed, a human victim was necessary to appease its ferocity. On one occasion, the lot fell on the kings' young daughter and so the maid, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh, to be immolated to the monster.
St. George chanced to ride by and asked the maid what she did but she bade him leave, lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed however and when the dragon appeared, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. They then returned to town and St. George bade the people to have no fear, but only to be baptized and having cut the head off the dragon, all the townfolk were - converted.
Is not the same story repeating itself in the world at the present time? Again a great monster has appeared and is spreading terror and death among the small nations, unable to resist his ferocity and vandalism.
The armies of England and France are now engaged in a struggle which may be called a crusade, since the forces arrayed against them, are, to a great extent the protagonists of atheism, communism and paganism.
We are fighting for the liberation of oppressed nations and for the restoration of the rights of conscience to millions of Catholics now persecuted. You are therefore the knight-soldiers for the defence of right and justice, for the protection of the weak and the liberation of millions of victims from the modern monster.
Making the sign of the cross and wearing the badge of St. George, we have to fight to the end the enemy of Christian civilization.
Therefore let us pray today to our chivalrous patron St. George to obtain for us, fidelity to our Catholic faith, courage and bravery in fighting and a glorious victory over our powerful enemies.
At the end of the Mass His Lordship gave the Papal Blessing with plenary indulgence.
H.E. Major General L. V. Bond, C.B., G.O.C., Malaya, and Mrs. Bond were present together with about 700 officers and other ranks of the Army and Royal Air Force.
MALAYA CATHOLIC LEADER, SATURDAY, 4th MAY, 1940. Page 10