Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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A Marriage Saved - A Mission Given

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, June 22, 2015

When Julie and Greg met it seemed to be the perfect match. They fell madly in love. Their temperaments and interests seemed to be perfect for one another. They complemented each other even from a spiritual perspective. Julie was raised in a traditional Catholic family which emphasized Mass attendance and proper behavior. Greg, on the other hand, was from a family which had converted to the Church. His family was not as devote as Julie’s family, but they were people of faith.

The early years of marriage were happy for the Alexander’s as they welcomed two babies into the new family. Greg was in the military and Julie stayed at home to take care of the children. The young family attended Mass each Sunday, because this was “the thing to do.”

 

With the happiness of those early years, who would have expected that dark clouds were beginning to form. Trouble really started when Greg left the military and got the dream job in Texas. The position offered a significant pay increase.

 

The Alexander’s were beginning to get a taste of the good life. They bought a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood. Greg put his heart and soul into work, while Julie made new friends in the neighborhood. Many of these women were successful career women bring in large salaries. While drinking wine they would all brag about their careers and positions of prominence. Julie felt left out. Compared to these other women her life as a homemaker seemed boring and insignificant.

 

Finally, Julie made the decision to go back to work. Her persuasiveness earned her a job at a local fitness club. It wasn’t long till Julie also began climbing up the economic ladder. Her dedication and talents earned her a promotion to a position many miles away from her family. Julie would only be spending a few days at home a week. In her mind, Julie rationalized the decision as the best for her career and the family’s income. However deep inside her, Julie felt empty and “spiritually divorced from her husband.” Work gave Julie the affirmation and meaning that she didn’t experience at home.


Then one day, the house that the Alexander’s had built on sand collapsed.Everything came to a head when Greg finally gathered the courage to say, “I am miserable”. At first Julie was taken back, but after reflection she realized that she too was miserable. She had been finding ways to avoid Greg and the problems that existed between them. The couple had been so busy making money and accumulating things that they rarely talked.

 

After a time of discernment, they decided to get a divorce, but lived in the same house while making preparations. Even with all their marital problems, the Alexander’s still faithfully attended Mass out a feeling of obligation. A new priest had come to the parish who was a gifted preacher. There was something about this man’s words that caught their attention. They actually “enjoyed” this priest’s homilies!

 

One Sunday the couple had the idea that they had to speak to this priest about their pending divorce. For both of them it was the 911 last chance that they would give God before making things final.

 

The meeting with the priest was an actual grace for the couple. They came to discover that this priest was a Canon Lawyer who worked for the diocesan marriage tribunal. Because of his position, he was not able to counsel couples.Instead, the priest gave the Alexander’s some “homework” to do in order to come to know God’s plan for marriage.


This simple step began a long journey towards an appreciation of the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. They studied the basis for the Sacrament found in Sacred Scripture. The couple began to read the wealth of wisdom found in the Church’s two thousand year teaching on marriage and family. After reading documents such as Familiaris Consortio (St. John Paul II). Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they were blown away by the beauty and richness of God’s plan for marriage.

 

Like St. Paul, Julie and Greg Alexander had wasted years of marriage serving themselves and dishonoring Christ’s Sacrament. Only as they began to study God’s plan for Matrimony, did they realize what a mess they had made of their marriage. Praying together they promised God that if He would somehow save their marriage they would give their lives helping other couples discover the beauty of the Sacrament.

 

The Lord answered this prayer which He had placed on the hearts of the Alexanders. Within a few years, they were both working full-time promoting the Covenant of Love marriage ministry in parishes. This ministry is based on empowering married couples in the parish to minister to others. It is a five year curriculum which assists couples in living God’s plan for marriage.

 

The mystery of the Cross is that God chose to take something evil and bring great good from it. When the Jesus knocked Julie and Greg off their horse (Acts 9:1-10),he did not condemn them for their many sins. Instead, Jesus used them and their broken marriage to bring light and healing to other couples. May married couples never despair of their woundedness, but rather allow the Divine Physician to heal and strengthen their love for each other! For with God there is always hope and all things are possible!

 

The Alexander House

 

Marriage 911

The Election of a New Government and a Surprise Visit

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, June 06, 2015

The following is a continuation of the highlights of the Provincial Chapter in Nemi, Italy. The Chapter began May 30 and concludes June 6th.

 

DAY 4:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 2 JUNE 2015

This day began with Mass in honor of our Holy Father Peter Nolasco, in this year especially dedicated to him on our journey towards the Jubilee of 2018.

 

The particular prayer intention was for the Mercedarian Superiors and the whole Mercedarian Family. At 9.15 am we began the session by continuing the reading of the reports. It was time for India, and the report was read by the community Edacochin. Then followed Elantikara and Cuddapah.

 

After the questions, there was a pause, and we returned at 11 am.

Information was presented regarding the communities of Munnar, Patlur, and Eraviputhenthurai. Then came some information about the vocational-formative work in the Mission of India.

 

Before lunch, there was an unplanned event: there was the singing of the National Anthem of Italy, given today, as it is the feast of the anniversary of the Republic of Italy.

 

In the afternoon we entered into the programming phase, for which, after the methodology of the work was given, we were divided into 4 groups formed by 8-9 Religious composed of those from Italy, USA, and India.

 

It was a good way to experience the diverse sensibilities and perceptions, and to understand the various languages, cultures, ages, etc. that can be gained from the lessons and examples that help to increase communion in the Roman Province.

 

At the end of the work by the work groups, we returned to the Assembly where the various secretaries of the groups gave a synthesis of what was said in their respective groups regarding the first area, the fraternal life of the community.

 

The path that was traced that will help us follow a journey which will bring us closer to the goal that we ourselves will travel for the next triennium: The first witness is that the Religious offer to the world is their own consecration, lived in fraternity in the local and provincial community.

 

DAY 5:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 3 JUNE 2015


At 7:30 am, the day began with the Liturgy of the Hours (the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer) and the communitarian prayers.

 

Afterwards, we returned to the Assembly for the reading of the Verbale and the vote on the group work in the area of Religious Life.

 

A very touching moment of this day was the visit of the Archbishop of Erbil (in Iraq), Mashar Warda, who was present in Rome for a few obligations and accepted the invitation to visit the Chapter Assembly.

 

In the presence of all the Capitulars, Archbishop Warda gave information that very clearly “provoked” us: the Christians of Iraq are fleeing because of the continual persecution. In 2003, there were nearly 1.2 million Christians in Iraq, now in 2014, it was reduced to 300,000: in ten years they were reduced by 25% of what they were before, and the persecution continues.

 

There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets.

We then returned in time to that which regards the Islamic violence confronting the Christians that do not have many possibilities to flee: either they convert to Islam, or they pay a tax, or they leave. Many times, however, they are killed.

 

For us Mercedarians the Archbishop asked of us:

- Prayer above all else

- To spread information to others about this theme

- Economic support

- To support the social-educative services, and bring them forward.

 

The Diocese of Erbil is, in fact, welcoming thousands of families fleeing persecution.

 

The Roman Province has “twinned” itself with the Diocese of Erbil, and now, has remembered it in prayer and in the donation of several thousand Euro.

 

We continued our group-work for programming the next three years, and the evening ended with Mass and the recitation of Vespers in honor of St. Charles Lwanga and Company, martyrs, while the intention of the prayer was for the dead, especially those of the last triennium.

 

DAY 6

 

COMMUNICATION OF 4 JUNE 2015

The day began with the Holy Mass and Morning Prayer celebrated according to the ordinary intention: for vocations and their formation.

 

The first gathering of the assembly was dedicated to the vote of the program, prepared by the Commission and then discussed in some cases, which was worked on in the four work groups.

 

As the vote was rather quick, we divided into geographic groups (one for India, one for the USA, and two for Italy) to integrate, if it was needed, the various areas of the program with initiatives and instruments of a more “local” flavor.

 

These initiatives were then presented in the Assembly and approved.

The election phase began in the afternoon with all of the Superiors giving their envelopes containing the verbale and the ballots with the votes for the new Provincial Government.

 

These ballots were opened by the scrutinizers, who counted the votes, and after the formal verification of the correct number, we proceeded to the scrutiny of the vote, at the end of which, Fr. General announced the candidates for Provincial and the Provincial Council.

After a break, we returned to the Chapel for a penitential service with the exposition of the Eucharist. Fr. Giovannino Tolu gave the Capitular Fathers a reflection on three biblical themes: the Transfiguration, the perfume of Mary that she used to anoint the feet of Jesus, and the raised hands of Moses.


The cry of joy of Peter in the Transfiguration is our cry: it is good that we are here! We want to tell the world that we do not know any other joy than to share the tent where Jesus dwells, brighter than the sun.


Mary at Bethany loves without calculating and evaluation. For many, the Consecrated Life is a waste and Religious are wasting this life. However, we choose to waste it only for Jesus, and for the captives. Only with charity to the captives, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and the least of society can we feel the fragrance of God’s love.


Moses on mountain was supported in a way that kept his hands raised.

It is a mystery, the strength of raised hands.

Who prays is like one who has hands on the wheel of history.

Without prayer you go off the road, you do not get to where you want to go.

 

DAY 7:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 5 JUNE 2015

With the Holy Mass of the Holy Spirit, presided over by the Master General Pablo Ordone, we opened the day dedicated to the election of the new Provincial Government.

 

The General, in his reflective homily, spoke of the Holy Spirit as a door to peace in the hearts of the community to help facilitate dialogue. A real dialogue, without closures and fictions that makes us consider ourselves all-important within this Mercedarian community that God has dreamed up for redemptive mission.

 

The Spirit helps us in our discernment to lead us into a profound and existential friendship with Him; a friendship crossed by the Love of loves, able to say it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

 

The Holy Spirit opens us to the frontier mission, invited to go outside of ourselves, of our presence, of that which “was always this way.”

 

At 9:30 am, the Chapter Assembly, after fulfilling the rites, proceeded to elect our Fr. Provincial: the result was that Fr. Francesco Podda was reelected, and he accepted the grave obligation.

He then took the oath and gave the profession of faith.

 

After a break given by the President of the Assembly, we began the vote for the election of the Provincial Councilors.

 

These were elected:

- Eugenio Caramia - Samuele Salis - Stefano Defraia - Efisio Schirru

 

These, after the election, took the oath.

 

The Religious shared fraternal greetings of peace and well wishes with those elected.

XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province 

 

General Government Website

 

 

XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, June 02, 2015

 

The Provincial Chapter occurs every 3 years. Superiors and those chosen as representatives “examine the state of the province and to foster its progress in all aspects…” It is also a time to “verify common work and seek together the signs of the will of God, with a great sense of responsibility in regard to the community that they represent (CO 242).” To keep all of our 3rd Order, friends and benefactors informed, we offer this short summary of the proceedings:


DAY 1

On 30 May 2015 at 9am, with the Holy Mass in honor of our Most Holy Mother, we began the 32nd Chapter of the Roman Province that includes 13 Italian communities, 6 from the USA, and 6 from India.

Present were all 38 Capitular Fathers; Fr. General spoke of Mary as a model of our Consecrated Life, and Inspirer of every Mercedarian work.

At 10:30 am, the Capitular Asslembly opened with the prayers prescribed by the Ritual, and the greeting of Fr. General which, making reference to the teachings of the Holy Father Francis, invited all to fall in love with the Mother of Mercy, keeping in our hearts attention to the peripheries of freedom.

Then, the Chapter passed to concrete aspects:

 

- Fr. General nominated Fr's. Nunzio Masiello and Matthew Phelan as moderators

 

- He then nominated Fr's. Aristotle Franco Wellesly and Sergio Girau as Scrutinizers

 

- The Assembly voted for the election of the Secretary of the Chapter: Fr. Stefano Defraia was elected, and Fr's. Eugenio Caramia and Francesco Podda will assist him in his work

 

- The Liturgical Commission - for the animation of the celebrations will be composed of Fr's. Pasquale Agostino, David Spencer, and Martin Naduvilezuthaikal

 

- The Commission in charge of Communications was formed with Fr's. Sundar Raj Madalaimuthu, Scottston Brentwood, and Efisio Schirru

 

- The responsibility of the "Convocator" at various points was given to Fr. Justin Freeman

 

In the afternoon, at 4 pm, Fr. Sandro Barlone proposed to the Assembly a reflection on the Chapter as a time of dicernment, leaving some points for personal prayer and meditation.

 

At 6 pm, the Assembly held a session of listening and dialogue.

At the conclusion of the day, all prayed Vespers together, and celebrated the Saturday Mercedarian Devotions.


DAY 2


Today, in the Universal Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which overrides the Feast of the Visitation, the titular feast of the Roman Province, which, however, we still wanted to remember.

At 7:30 am, we all returned to the renovated chapel for the celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayers.

 

Special booklets were prepared for the liturgy with the texts in both Italian and English, as our Province embraces brothers of the two languages. This is why the liturgy was today, as well in the coming days, will have this diversity of languages, in a communion that goes beyond words and finds unity in prayer.

 

After the prayers, and a moment for breakfast, we returned in the Capitular Hall for the second session which began the Informative Phase.

The first to speak was Fr. Francesco Podda who, as Provincial, presented the report on the state of the Province and of the triennium which just ended.

We were given some information: as of 30 May 2015, the provincial community was composed of 110 in Solemn Vows, of which 96 are priests, 4 are non-clerical brothers, and 10 are Solemnly Professed and on their way to becoming priests, 6 of which are already ordained Deacons. The Religious are distributed among 25 communities, of which 13 are in Italy, 6 in the USA, and 6 in India.

 

At the moment, there are 18 Simply Professed in the Province, of which 2 are in the USA, and 16 in India.

There are no Novices, however, there are 17 Postulants, of which 2 are in Italy, and 15 in India.

 

Next followed the reports of the Vicar of the USA, Fr. Kenneth Breen, and of the Delegate of India, Fr. Vincenzo Pennella, who gave information on the actual situation in the USA and in the Mission of the India.

 

In the afternoon, it was possible to ask the three speakers questions, and then, as time permitted, we began to hear the reports of the local communities. We began with Alghero, followed by Cagliari.

 

At 7 pm, the Holy Mass and Vespers were celebrated.


DAY 3

The intention of the prayer today is for the oppressed and persecuted, while the liturgy reminds us of St. Justin Martyr: a beautiful event since two of the Capitular Fathers celebrate their name day. They are the Fr’s. Justin Freeman of the USA and Justin Alex of India.

 

After the celebration of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayers, the community prayers and breakfast, at 9:15 am, we had the session of the Chapter which took up with the reading of the reports of individual houses for those related to Italy. We began with Carpignano, followed by Florence, Naples, Nemi, Orvieto, and Padova.

There were some relative questions to be answered and clarified, then there was a break.

 

At 11 am, we continued with the other reports: Palermo, S. Maria della Mercede - Rome, and the Studentato (St. Peter Nolasco).

In the afternoon we took up the reading of the reports of San Cataldo, San Vito dei Normanni, and with these, we concluded the part related to Italy.

Afterwards we followed with information from the Vicariate of the USA: beginning with Mt. Carmel in Cleveland, and followed by St. Rocco (also in Cleveland) and Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia.

 

After a break, we continued with reports from the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy in Philadelphia, Le Roy, the Nolasco House in St. Petersburg FL, and the report of the Formators in Italy. The one responsible for formation in the USA combined the data of this area to the report of the local community.

 

After dinner there was a time of celebration in honor of the Community and of the brothers who were celebrating their name day, and we spend some time in healthy leisure.

 


Strengthening Marriage and Family Life in Our Country

Mercedarian Friar - Friday, May 29, 2015

On Tuesday, May 5th the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sponsored a workshop entitled Marriage-Centered Communities: How to Build a Marriage Ministry in Your Parish. This addressed the current state of marriage in the world and the Church and offered practical ways that a parish can most effectively serve married couples. The first part of the workshop was led by Dr. Hilary Towers, a Catholic author and developmental psychologist from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.

 

Dr. Towers’ presentation posed the question: “What heritage are we leaving to the next generation?” Much of her talk provided statistical data on the state of Marriage in our country. Today the divorce rate is 51% which is an all-time high. Surprisingly, new data shows that more Americans are getting divorced after many years of marriage. The percentage of divorces filed by those 50 to 60 years old is skyrocketing.

 

There are various reasons given for divorce today, but some are more common than others. The most prevalent is that the couple has “grown apart”. A high percentage also claim that they separated because of an inability to “talk together”. Other common reasons given for divorce are “money problems” and “infidelity”.


It is clear from the data that marriage as an institution in the United States is fading. At one time marriage was a part of the fabric of American society. It was expected that most young people would enter into this bond of matrimony in their 20’s and it would continue for a lifetime. Fidelity was taken for granted. Divorce and/or separation would occasionally happen, but it was a rare occurrence in society as a whole.

 

To be sure, there have and always will be legitimate reasons for separation, but in general the goods of a stable bond far out way the contrary. Studies continually show that a stable home with a mother and father provides that best environment for raising children. Married couples can model so many virtues for their children. The couples teach by their example the good habits of charity, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Even in less than ideal situations, children are often given models of how to cope with weakness and sin in an imperfect world.


America and other developed nations are entering into a new reality of a society without marriage. In Judeo-Christian thought, the family has always been understood as the basic unit of civilization.As St John Paul II states, “Human fatherhood and motherhood ... contain in an essential and unique way a' likeness' to God which is the basis of the family as a community of human life, as a community of persons united in love (Letter to Families, 6)". Husband, wife, and children show forth the Trinity in a totally unique way. This family is the ideal place for raising children to be responsible citizens

 

What if our next generation does not have the stability of the traditional family? We are beginning to see that millennials have a much less confidence in the possibility of commitments. Today about 20% of adults 18-29 years old have decided to cohabitate and/or not even consider marriage. There is in general a lack of trust in others and in the institution of marriage. On a purely economic level, the increase of divorce places more children in danger of poverty. It also puts a greater strain on government and state agencies to provide for many single parent homes.

 

Although things do not look so good for marriage today, there is much that can be done to help couples. As Dr. Towers says, “It is the Church working through the clergy and laity that will rehabilitate marriage.” Much can be done at the local level. The parish can and must build supportive communities of strong marriages. These married couples will become mentors of commitment for those who have none. The parish family also must pray for marriages at Mass and through various prayer groups. The laity need to encourage their pastors to preach about the Church’s treasury of wisdom on the Sacrament of Marriage. Parishes need to make accessible the practical components of a strong healthy marriage.

 

Things are not looking great today for the institution of marriage. The statistics show that fidelity and commitments to marriage are at all time lows. Yet, this basic unit of civilization is of inestimable value to society as a whole. For the sake of future generations, the each member of the Church must do their part support this Sacrament. Our gift to the next generation must be this: a renewed commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

More from Dr Hilary Towers:

 

It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment

 

A Guide to Saving Marriages

 

Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce

Sharing of Faith and Culture

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, May 18, 2015

On May 10th, Fr Ken and I began a journey from LeRoy, NY to Georgia with a van packed with religious goods. These items (statues, stations of the cross etc.) were from the former Mercygrove property which was recently sold. The proceeds from the sale are allocated in large part for the development of a new redemptive mission to families in the United States.


The first stop on our journey was to drop off several items at Life Teen camp in northern Georgia. It felt good to be able to give these religious articles new life at a camp which each summer is packed with teens and young adults.

 

After a two hour stop, we were back on the road bringing a special gift to our 3rd Order in Atlanta. Through these dedicated lay people, Order of Mercy has been present in Atlanta for 17 years. It all began in 1998 when a little woman left Rome and arrived in Atlanta, GA. Maria Virginia's story is key to this movement which Christ would bless.

 

The spirit of merced or ransom was placed in Maria at an early age as she was educated by the Mercedarian Friars in Puerto Rico. This spirituality would continue to grow in her throughout her life. When her husband passed away in his 60’s, Maria felt the Lord was calling her to enter the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. After a few years of formation, it became clear to her that Christ the Redeemer desired her to go out to those in need” with the message of mercy.

 

Many extraordinary circumstances led, Maria Virginia to her mission field in Atlanta, GA. Seventeen years ago she set up her home in Georgia and quickly got to work. Maria got permission of the Order of BVM of Mercy to establish a 3rd Order in a place where no friars or sisters had been. With her deep faith, love for Our Lady of Mercy, and boundless energy this women was able to inspire many to follow the redemptive spirit of the Order.

 

Soon enough, it became clear that God was calling the new 3rd Order to assist the many immigrants who were coming from Mexico and settling in the Atlanta metropolitan area. These immigrants left behind all they knew seeking a better life. Yet their faith, which is the most precious treasure, was in danger in a new land. Who will teach them about Christ? Who will baptize their children? They hide in the shadows with no one to shepherd them.

 

Fr Ken and I got to experience first hand the redemptive work of our 3rd Order in Atlanta. The week of May 11th was spent blessing houses and practicing our Spanish as we enjoyed authentic Mexican food with the the people. The highlight of the week was a outdoor Mass with many immigrant families. As we struggled to speak their language, they just appreciated the opportunity to come close to Jesus and teach their children how to worship.


On this long journey into the Deep South an exchange took place. We brought statues and religious items which are plentiful in the Northeast. These are aspects of our culture which have preserved the faith of generations. We experienced tangibly the faith and devotion of the Mexican people. Hopefully our ministry among them has strengthen and enriched the faith of all.

 

May Our Lady of Mercy place her mantle around the mission of the Atlanta Chapter of the 3rd Order! She who is the refuge of the captive and persecuted Christians, will surely watch over this mission to those in the are marginalized today.

 

Life Teen website

St John the Evangelist Church Hapeville, GA

Third Order of Mercy

 


A Prayer for the Protection of Family Life

Mercedarian Friar - Thursday, April 30, 2015

The following talk took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. This parish is staffed by the Order of BVM of Mercy or the Mercedarian Friars. Each Wednesday during the Lenten Season the parish sponsors “Soup and Salvation”. Parishioners prepare a particular soup and a reflection is given on a particular topic. In preparation for the World Meeting of Families, this year’s theme is marriage and family. Fr Matthew Phelan, O. de M. gives the following talk based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer for Family Life:

Audio of talk Part 2


Mercedarians in the United States are in process of developing new family apostolate. It is just in its beginning stages. This apostolate is in many ways based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer for the protection of marriage and family.

 

In this talk we will use the Prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus as a source of reflection. The prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus for Christian Families goes back at least 60 years. It first received the imprimatur in 1955. Who could have known how much more relevant this prayer would be today? We will attempt to reflection on it at line by line:


1st line: Lord, Father Almighty! The family is the most ancient institution of humanity, for it is as old as man himself.

 

The beginning of the prayer brings us back to creation. The word man is used, but it is meant to represent the fullness of man in creation of man & women. Man is told to “Increase and multiply and subdue the earth”. The creation of the family is found in the beginning. Man and woman are united in marriage together and with their children they form the family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authorities. Marriage and family (rightly composed), therefore, should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of relationships should be evaluated.

 

The point of all this is that Marriage and family is a natural right or God given right. It is absolutely unchangeable and is the foundation of all positive rights. Natural law is the basis of positive rights (those granted by the state). Natural rights are inherent to our human nature. All civil law, therefore, is only valid when based on the Natural Law. In the tradition of our nation, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Looking at this more deeply from a Catholic perspective: St Pope John XXIII wrote the encyclical Pacem in Terris (April 11, 1963). Paragraph 11 of this document tells us:

“But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services.”


We hear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated (CCC 2202).” So the necessary social services are actually rooted in the family.

 

The social teaching of the Church is also based in the family. In regard to these social services, St Pope John XXIII states,

In consequence, he has the right tobe looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work;widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of hisown he is deprived of the means of livelihood.Peace on Earth (Pacem in Terris. . . ), #11”

First, this is the responsibility of each family. Secondarily, it is the responsibility of the community or State. However, problems arise when the State seeks to take the place of the family. To supplant the family or take over what is first the rightfully role of family. It is legitimate for the State to facilitate the role of the family, but never to supplant.

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state,

“The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society (7 themes of Catholic Social teaching USCCB).”

 

The term “fundamental rights” here is the same as natural rights. And the natural rights belong to us by the fact that we exist as human persons. But once one rejects any concept of natural law or objective truth (relativism) then it becomes a very Darwinist or “survival of the fittest” and tyrannical approach to rights. Without the natural law the only “rights” that one would have are those determined by the State (whoever is in charge). These rights are established by the majority opinion as Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in his Theory of Relativism. Or they are determined by the mandate of those in charge as in the tyranny of totalitarianism (dictatorship).


As the Prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus states and the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: the institution of the family predates the institution of the State. Therefore, the family is to be the model or reference point for the state and not vise versa. When there is a dysfunction in the family then it very well may “take a village”, but only when that “village” is modeled on a functional family. If that “village” has another model than in reality it ends up destroying the natural rights.


Line 2 But because it is Thine own institution and the only means by which man can come into this world and develop to the greatest perfection, therefore the forces of evil are assaulting it, causing men to despise this basic unit of Christian civilization .

 

The basic idea of this sentence is that “the forces of evil are assaulting” the family. Then it identifies two reasons for this assault. The first reason that evil assaults the family is because it is God’s own institution. Thus this attack resembles the original assault on human communion as represented in the account of the fall in Genesis. God creates human beings as male and female. He creates them to be in communion. Satan attacks that communion and seeks to break it down.

 

The second reason for this assault is because it is the means by which new life is brought into the world and can develop to the greatest perfection. This developing “to the greatest perfection” is a part of creation and redemption. We are made in the Image and Likeness of God and so we seek through Grace to become like the Creator. This does not occur through our own power, but through the Lord’s pure gift.

 

Returning to the earlier quote from Paragraph 11 of Pacem in Terris “Man has the right to live…”. New life is brought into the world through the family. No matter how dysfunctional the family might be. We still need a father and a mother. We still need a sperm and an egg. No matter what science is able to manipulate it will never be able to create life without those basic building blocks of life which man did not create himself. Also in Pacem in Terris #11 St John XXIII states, man has the right “to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life” This is expressed in the St Raymond prayer as “developed to the greatest perfection.”

 

This attack has become more obvious in recent times. Listen to these Chilling words from Supreme Court Justice RuthBader Ginsburg in a New York Times interview in 2009 “Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae -- in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion." Again…populations that we don’t want to many of…this is frightening!

 

This despising of this basic unit of Christian civilization has even infiltrated Catholic institutions. Professor John McAdams of Marquette University described on his blog a classroom situation where a junior faculty member shut down a student who wanted to discuss his opposition to same-sex marriage, because she considered it an unacceptable topic in her ethics class. She stated that this would be on par with a discussion which favored racism or sexism. Such a discussion would offend any gay students in the class. This women felt that speaking in opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption were homophobic. So to give support in a Catholic university for the most ancient institution created by God is on par with racism, sexism, or homophobia. Professor McAdams supported the student’s right to expressing the Church’s teaching in the classroom which is a free speech zone. The University responded by suspending McAdams and attempting to revoke his tenure. These is just a few accounts, but there are many other examples of how many segments of society are despising the Natural law and Divine Revelations concept of marriage.


Line 3: In suicidal fury they seek to deal it a mortal blow. Let them not succeed, Lord, in their destructive designs on the Christian family.

 

The end goal is not just to have many different types of families, but to eliminate it altogether. Just like we have a variety of lentil soup here present (many parishioners brought lentil soup). If we were to keep changing the recipe. Say eventually we leave out the lentils entirely. In time, it would cease to be the same soup. We would not be able to rightly call it Lentil Soup. Just so if we keep changing what constitutes family, marriage, and/or sexuality we will eventually no longer have anything which resembles these things.

 

I was looking to find out how many genders are recognized today. I had heard that some groups recognized as many as 14 or 15 different genders. I came across the Gender Equality Resource a Cal Community Center (http://geneq.berkeley.edu/lgbt_resources_definiton_of_terms.) Almost 85 different definitions relating to the different genders and their lifestyles. It has gotten so complex that we need a “definition of terms”.


The prayer says “in suicidal fury”. This is a strong word. The family as it exists by Natural Law as we have discussed is the building block of civilization. So to destroy the family actually ends up being the suicide of the civilization. I brought a book with me: Civilizing Sex: On Chastity and the Common Good by Patrick Riley. Riley offers wonderful historical and philosophical presentation that marriage and marital fidelity are necessary preservatives for every society. And they are indispensable means of rescuing our own society.

 

In addition, Riley demonstrates that marriage actually built society.In creating a family and giving stability, marriage provides civil society with its primary cell. Riley demonstrations this through history. The great civilizations such as the Israelites, Canaanites, Greeks, Roman Empire, and Middle Ages all eventually fell. Their fall was proceeded by a breakdown in chastity. And it was only in a return to martial chastity, first through the Israelites and later with Christianity, that the civilization began to flourish or grow once again. Greater self-indulgence leads to the rejection of children leading to a society that does not reproduce itself.

 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the fight for marriage and the defense of the family is really a fight for the life of our very civilization. Our current society in attacking the family and redefining the family/sexuality…our society is committing suicide. While western civilization destroys itself, Islamic Jihadists (ISIS) are “licking the chops” because we are making their job much easier.


Mercedarian Redemptive mission in the United States:

 

The Mercedarian Order was founded to ransom Christians who were in danger of losing their faith These Christians were taken captive by Muslims in the 13th Century and being pressured or even forced to convert to Islam. This was the original form of “captivity” that the Order was founded to free Christians from.

 

Throughout its history, the Order always looks for new forms of captivity as the object of its redemptive mission. In looking for new forms of captivity, the Order in her modern Constitutions had developed four criteria for the new forms of captivity which endangers people’s faith. These forms of captivity constitute the proper field to exercise our 4th Vow (being willing to offer our lives for those endanger of losing their faith). They “occur where there is a social situation which contains the following conditions: i. It is oppressive and degrading to the human being, ii. It springs from principles and systems opposed to the Gospel, iii. It puts the faith of Christians in danger, iv. It offers the possibility of helping, visiting, and redeeming people who are in such situations (CO 16).”

 

With this prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus which the Mercedarians have been praying for over 60 years and looking at our cultural situation today, the friars over the last decade have recognized this “attack on the family” as fitting all four of these criteria for what constitutes the proper object of the redemptive mission. The attack on the family is oppressive and degrading to the human person. In fact, it is a denial of who we even are as human persons. And it is born from principles and systems opposed to the Gospel. It has put the faith of Christians in danger through persecution: labeling of Christian belief as “hate speech”. We certainly have that possibility of helping, visiting, and redeeming families since we deal with them every day in our apostolates. The Mercedarians in the United States are working on making this redeeming and freeing families as the centerpiece of our apostolate or work in this country.

 

We haven’t been able to complete the whole prayer, but just from the first few lines we see how profound and prophetic it is. Maybe in the future we can conclude this detailed analyses of this prophetic prayer for marriage and family life.

 

The Life of St Raymond Nonnatus Video

Wiki St Raymond Nonnatus

A Prophetic Prayer for Marriage and Family

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, April 27, 2015

 

On March 4th, 2015 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. Fr Matthew Phelan, O. de M. gave a reflection on Marriage and Family based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer (composed circa 1941). Our Lady of Lourdes parish is staffed by the Order of BVM of Mercy or the Mercedarian Friars. Each Wednesday during the Lenten Season the parish sponsors "Soup and Salvation". Parishioners prepare a particular soup and a reflection is given on a specific topic. In preparation for the World Meeting of Families, this year’s theme is marriage and family. Fr Matthew entire reflection can be seen on the Order's youtube account: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0GBtVQLQkc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT9cdVlPgr4



 St Raymond Nonnatus

Patron of expectant mothers, pre-born babies, Christian families, and those falsely accused

 

Prayer for Christian Families
Lord, Father Almighty! The family is the most ancient institution of humanity, for it is as old as man himself. But because it is Thine own institution and the only means by which man can come into this world and develop to the greatest perfection, therefore the forces of evil are assaulting it, causing men to despise this basic unit of Christian civilization. In suicidal fury they seek to deal it a mortal blow. Let them not succeed, Lord, in their destructive designs on the Christian family.
Through the intercession of the glorious St. Raymond Nonnatus, pleader in heaven for the happiness, welfare, and peace of Christian families, we beg Thee to hear our prayers. By the merit of this great saint, our patron, grant that our homes may ever be modeled after the Holy Family of Nazareth. Let not the enemies of Christian family life triumph in their sacrilegious attacks, but rather convert them to the truth for the glory of Thy holy name. Amen. 

http://orderofmercy.businesscatalyst.com/thelatestfromtheorder/patron-of-expectant-mothers-and-families-st-raymond-nonnatus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgBzOcFePyE

Practicing on the Works of Mercy

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

Most college students look forward to their “spring break”. They just can’t wait to get a few days off from studies to relax and enjoy themselves before those demanding last weeks of the semester. Unfortunately, over the years Spring Break Week has gotten a very bad reputation. It seems that many seek to relax by indulging in excessive alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity. In many places, this has gone to such excesses that it would make some even in Ancient Rome blush! Yet, we must not fall into the trap of assuming that all college students are behaving in this way. In fact, many use this time to make Service Trips to impoverished areas to learn from and help the less fortunate. These young adults are certainly are examples to their peer and each one of us of true Christian Charity.

 

One such group, the Ferris State Newman Center, chose to use their spring break week to attend the Cleveland Service Retreat sponsored by the Order of Mercy. This retreat, which took place March 8th-14th, emphasized the two fold commandment of loving God and neighbor (Luke 10:27). Scripture and the Tradition of the Church has always stressed that the two most important commandments are interconnected. God is the source of charity. Out of Love the Father created life and continues to sustain it. In Jesus Christ the law is fulfilled. Christ teaches us the highest form of love in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). God teaches us how to love. In prayer and meditation, we learn how to imitate Jesus generosity in becoming a self-gift to others.

 

During this week of prayer and service, the college students were feed by the Eucharist and reflected on the words of Pope Francis. Our Holy Father has given us a vision of a Church that is in a permanent state of mission. No longer is it okay just to stay within our comfortable Christian communities. Our country is truly a mission field where people are hungering for the Gospel. The New Evangelization demands that we constantly go out of our comfort zone.

Pope Francis’ method begins with an emphasis on the Person. We are to simply encounter people where they are at. Treating them with dignity and showing them the Gospel by our actions. The gift that we bring to each person is mercy. As our Holy Father says, “This is the Lord’s most power message, Mercy.” When people encounter true love and compassion they have had a taste of Redemption. And lastly, Pope Francis tells us that this encounter takes place on the periphery. The periphery or margins means going out to the fridge of society; the outskirts there we find the poor, the elderly, and the immigrant.

 

In Cleveland, one of the poorest cities in the United States, there was no problem finding people on the margins. The students from Ferris State spent much of the day ministering to those in and around the Order’s parishes. One of these places was St Herman’s House of Hospitality. This Orthodox charitable organization is a non-profit center committed to serving the homeless and needy poor of Ohio City and Inner City Cleveland in a spirit of love and hospitality. Many hours were spent by the students serving food to the needy and sorting the donations which come in daily. Working directly with the poor in ministries like this and St Augustine’s Hunger Center provided an opportunity to put our prayer into action.

 

Along with these apostolates, the students assisted at Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St Rocco’s parishes. Time was spent moving items, cleaning desks, and a variety of other activities. While residing at on the grounds of the Order’s parish, the young adults got a rare inside view into the day to day lives of the friars and sisters. These interactions included long talks with Fr Jerome and an intense game of scrapple with Br Martin. The highlight of the week may just have been going Cleveland’s famous Malley’s Candy Shop with the friars and sisters!

 

Overall the week was an opportunity to refocus on the essentials of Christianity: Love of God and Love of Neighbor. While they could have been resting or partying, these college students instead choose to give of themselves. May the Lord continue to bless each of them as they go back to the great Mission Field which is University life in the United States! We know that they will bring many souls to the realization that Jesus Christ is the only place for the restless human heart.

 


Video Raises Awareness and Encourages Prayer the for Persecuted Church

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

PHILADELPHIA, March 13, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- With news of the martyrdom of 21 Christians by fundamentalist Muslims in Egypt still fresh in their minds, those in the English-speaking world might be relieved to see a new video that asks for prayers for the persecuted Church.

The five-minute "Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlUwevwWREY

  which has received more than five hundred views in its first week, publicizes the shameful persecution of Christians throughout the world and asks its viewers to pray a special litany along with it.

"As Christians, we cannot stand idly by while our fellow Christians are being persecuted for their faith around the world," said Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., vocation director for the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in the United States.

"The courage of these martyrs is nothing less than heroic," he added. "Even children have refused to give up their faith in the face of death. Since we don't often hear about these atrocities through the media, we must make known what is happening."

Fr. Joseph added that making the video is part of the Order's ministry to free captives who are in danger of losing their faith, which has been the core of their charism, or purpose, since it's founding in 1218 in Spain.

The video does not contain graphic violence, but features photos of children and families in refugee camps as well as people in the Middle East praying in churches. The video notes the severe persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and other parts of the world, calling it a grave injustice.

The video recalls the words of Christ, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..." and ties the modern persecutions with the ancient martyrdom of Christians in the Coliseum.

An area that was home to Abraham and other patriarchs of the faith, Iraq, for example, has become a battleground for competing forces. Since 2003, about one million Assyrian Christians, for example, have been forced to become refugees inside and outside of Iraq.

The prayer featured in the video is the Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church, authored by the Order of Mercy.

The Order of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians, has its U.S. motherhouse in Philadelphia, and has friars in four states.

 


 

 

http://orderofmercy.org/thelatestfromtheorder/litany-of-blessed-virgin-mary-for-the-persecuted-church

http://www.helpiraq.org/

 

http://www.persecution.com/public/prayermap.aspx

 

 


Living the Spirit of Redemption in Florida

Mercedarian Friar - Sunday, February 15, 2015

 

Fr Tony tell us again about your local community. Which friars live there? What is their apostolates?

Fr. James works full time at St. Jude Cathedral which is with-in walking distance from our Casa Nolasco. The rector of St Jude’s is Fr Joseph Waters. Together they take care of all the Sacramental life of the Parish and School with 350 students of so Fr James visits the kids from time to time. He also teaches Bible classes twice a week for adults. He is chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. Fr James does hospital and nursing homes visitation from time to time. All of it is done very much with a great Mercedarian spirit of much dedication and love for the least ones.... Fr. Scott works full time at another Parish, the Church of Sacred Heart in Pinellas Park. This parish is about 15 minutes from our Community. Likewise with the Pastor Fr. Anthony Coppola (another diocesan priest), Fr Scott takes great care of the people of God. Sacred Heart has about 2,000 families with many Latinos in the same vicinity. The sacramental life is very alive at this parish. Once a week, Fr Scott has a well-attended Bible class with about 60 people or so. By the same token being Canon Lawyer he helps out 3 Dioceses in some of their Canonical Cases: St.Pete, Orlando and Venice!Fr. Mike Perry is part time chaplain at Maria Manor which is a Roman Catholic nursing home and assistant living. He celebrates Mass and the Anointing of the Sick from time to time. Fr Mike is also part time chaplain at Bay Front Hospital and All Children Hospital (Friday to Sunday). He is also chaplain of the Ancient Order of Hibernian Brothers and Sisters. Fr. Oscar has a full-time job with the Latinos in St. Peter and the vicinity. He celebrates masses on the weekends at Holy Cross, St. Michael, Sacred Heart and St. Cecilia in Clearwater. Fr. Anthony helps out from time to time at St. Jude, Transfiguration, and Blessed Trinity.He celebrates the Italian Mass once a month at St. Jude.Fr Tony is also chaplain of the 4th degree of Knights of Columbus (a once a month prayer meeting at St. Jude). He also is involved in Marriage Encounter with 2 meetings every month. Lastly, Fr Tony is the Mercedarian Third Order moderator with one monthly meeting with Sue Tambasco (president).


What is the average day like at St Peter Nolasco Residence?

We do pray together twice a day at 7:00 am for 30 minutes, at 4:00 for another hour. The only meal we do share together is at 5:00 pm. During this time we talk about our day nicely with much sharing of information about our ministries. Once a month, we have a house meeting for about 90 minutes or so. Likewise once a month, we do have a short Day of

Recollection with Revision of Live from 2:30am to 5:00 PM. The rest of the day it is up to each friar use to use our free time accordingly: ministries, visitations, physical exercises, and rest, if so our body requires from time to time. We try to live as good brothers with “one mind and one heart (Rule of St Augustine)”, according to the spirit and charism of St. Peter Nolasco, our Founder and Model.


Fr Tony, tell us, what are some of the special events that have occurred for your local community this past year?

The great events every year are the ones dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy and St. Peter Nolasco...On these occasions, all of us Mercedarians have a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist at St. Jude cathedral with due permission of the Rector. Our third Order members, about 17 of them are there to support us during these days. We all attend Mass in Church and then we come together in our Community for a little get together with them and friends of the Community. We, of course, live to have pizza, from Govanni pizza place (pizza della nonna is very much liked) and wines and of course nice dessert! The get-together will last for a good of couple of hours with much love and friendship, according to the spirit of the Order, based upon fraternal love and much charity for one another.During these occasions other people will ask us to be members of our Third Order, which is becoming very active socially and otherwise. They are doing great things like visitations of some nearby Nursing Homes and alike....


As the local superior, how would you say your community lives out our Redemptive Spirit in St. Petersburg, FL?

I am just reading now the message of Papa Francesco to us Religious people: to wake up the world and go the outskirts of the cities (periphery) like here at St. Pete. I am personally trying to figure that out for us Mercedarians living here and now in central Florida what this means. That means that we are going to have to get busy in the near future and do more for the least ones of our society! Some how we have to figure that out in our Community. For instances, trying to get into the prison ministry once again, since we did it for years in the past at Maximum SecurityPrison System. Another way to do so according to the spirit of the Mercedarian spirit, visit for Masses on Sundays and bringing the Gospel message to the poor people at Pinellas Hope who have nothing for themselves, not even a place where they can rest at night time...The least ones should be on our list, in a very special way...Our working together with our Third Order, might be a great idea for more presence of us Mercedarians in the local community of St. Pete and vicinity...We hope and pray that will be our special way to free our brothers and sisters who happen to be in some kind ofpresent captivity...May St. Peter Nolasco be our guide and model in this work of Redemption of ours....Amen to that..........ciao,to you all

*____________________________________________________________________Sincerely

yours in Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy,Fr. Anthony M. Fortunato, O. de

M.*

 

http://cathedralalive.org/

http://pinellashope.org/

http://www.sacredheartpinellaspark.com/



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