Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

My Life for Your Freedom

The Latest from the Order

Please read the latest information about the great moments of our religious life.

Family Fun Day

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As a society, we are learning more than ever the importance of family life. In Genesis, we hear that God created man and women to be a communion of persons. They were told to "be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28)".  However, as divorce rates have increased each generation, individual family members are left with less support from spouses and/or relatives. This is not as God intends. Isolation leads to a deep spiritual and psychological loneliness which has a profound effect on the each member of the family.

 

Thanks be to God that we are beginning to realize the need to support and strengthen the traditional family unit. The Mercedarians are committed to giving our lives to help those in danger of losing their faith, because of the fracturing of family life. There are many ways of supporting family life and strengthening their faith in God. One recent event, which has taken place was the Family Fun Day in at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, LeRoy, NY. Here is our 3rd Order president's explanation of the event:

 

Our Family Fun Day sponsored by the Mercedarian Third Order was a great success. There was a large turn out of families after our 10:30 Mass.We advertised that the recreation hall would open for the Fun Day, right after the Mass and close at about 2 pm, so, many families with kids went to that Mass and attended afterward. From the beginning, the gym was full of parents, children, and grandparents. 

 

We had coffee and doughnuts for the adults and for the kids cotton candy, popcorn, cheese crackers, games, caricature drawings and prizes.The big attraction was the Blue Castle Bounce, which was in constant use. At the end Fr Ken had a sing-a-long. They all had a good time.

Peace be to you,

Gary Privitera

President, Mercedarian Third Order

 

World Meeting of Families 2015

 

Our Lady of Mercy Parish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing in the Spiritual Treasury of the Order

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Order which has been around for 800 years is blessed with an treasury spiritual and temporal gifts. The call to lay down one's life for the captives has produced abundant fruit. From our Saints to martyrs to thousands of holy souls reigning in heaven. Naturally, Catholics from all states of life have a desire to be a part of the Mercedarian family. For centuries, lay people and diocesan priests become third Order members of the community.

 

The third Order is an association of faithful Catholics. The primary vocation of each member is the universal call to holiness which is manifested in their state in life: either diocesan priesthood, married, or single. Those who have joined the third order have a secondary call to live out a certain spirituality which gives meaning, direction, and purpose to their life.

 

Many members of the Third Order are living in the lay state. Their apostolic purpose is to evangelize and sanctify and to infuse a Christian spirit into the temporal order. Though works of mercy and charity they bear witness to Christ. Their called to serve “the Mission of the Church”, which is to “make disciples of all nations”. The laity are indispensable to the New Evangelization called for by each of our last three popes. This is a contemporary effort ensure that the saving message of the Gospel may be known in all its richness by all people through the earth.

 

From the very beginning, the Order of the BVM of Mercy has incorporated devote lay people wishing to participate in its redeeming work. These individuals share in the spirituality of the Order and collaborate in the work of redeeming captives in danger of losing the faith. In their daily lives, the members have the same intense love for the Virgin Mary under the title of Mercy, cultivate the same spirit, promotes fraternal bonds and form the “Mercedarian Family”. Inspired by the spiritual values of St. Peter Nolasco, they work to free the captives present in their communities through the exercise of the Corporal Works of Mercy. As a result of their promises they share in the spiritual treasury of an 800 year old family whose members include untold martyrs, holy virgins, and many devote souls reigning with Christ in heaven!

 

Spirit and Mission of the Order:

 

The following is essential to manifest the Mercedarian Charism:

1) Imitation of Christ the Redeemer

2) To model ourselves after Mary

3) To be imbued with the spirit of St. Peter Nolasco

4) To discover those who continue to suffer as captives

5) To grow in holiness and pray daily for the captives

6) To pray for vocations to the Mercedarian friars and sisters

7) To carry out the Mercedarian mission of redemption today

8) To practice Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

9) To share in the graces and benefits of the spiritual treasury of the Order

10) To know and cherish the Mercedarian Saints and their lives of holiness.

 

Special thanks to Gary Privitera and the Third Order Newsletter of LeRoy, NY

 

For more information contact

Administration and Novitiate

Mercygrove / Saint Raymond Novitiate

7770 East Main Rd., LeRoy, NY 14482

Phone: 585-768-4703 Fax: 585-768-4702

 

Watch 3 people make their promises: Third Order Promises


Wikipedia Third Order

 

The New Evangelization:Shoes Soiled by the Mud of the Street

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, July 26, 2014

As I came close to my gate at the airport, I thought this is finally time to relax. Two weeks of summer camp in the hills (well actually) mountains of Northern Georgia had taken its toll on me. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blessed time working with Life Teen missionaries, Catholic teens, and middle school students. As always, it was a powerful experience of authentic Christianity. All the essentials were present: the Eucharist, confessions, devotion to the Blessed Mother, and the call to service. Most impressive and weighing on my heart was the call to mission. Over the past year and a half, I like so many have been made uncomfortable by Pope Francis.  I always knew about the New Evangelization, but never had it been presented to me in such a powerful and at times piercing way. Yes, this South American has a way with words. Pope Francis possesses the gift to be able to cut to the heart with powerful images and penetrating statements.

 

So as the boarding process began, I was a bit uncomfortable with my desire to focus on myself. Shouldn’t I always be available to God at all times? Weren’t we asking the teens to be missionaries to their parents, family, and friends? As I waited for my zone to be called, the word of Fr John Ignatius, another camp priest, came to mind. He had been trying to impress upon the missionaries and teens to reach out to others by “asking if they needed prayers for something” or to even “ask to pray with the person if they were open.” This is a very uncomfortable thing for a man voted most shy in his high school class. But, the Lord had taken me so far in 20 years how could I ever say no to him?

 

Okay, I thought I will just say a little prayer to be open to help those that God will place me with on this journey. This prayer was made quickly and without much fervor. Part of me wanted to be faithful, but the other part wanted a break. After all, these weeks running around with teens had left me with a severe sunburn, massive blisters on my feet, and a cold which caused me to partially lose my voice. I deserved some rest, right?

 

Finally, the time to board had come. In my zone, just ahead of me in line were two young women dressed in 19th century garb. Hmm…I thought to myself, don’t see that every day!  They must be Amish traveling back to Lancaster, PA. But, wait… Amish wouldn’t fly on planes? Maybe they are Mennonites. No matter…there is no time to talk I reasoned since we are boarding. I boarded the plane and began moving down aisle getting looks I have become so accustom to as a priest. Nearly everyone takes a glance…some are just curious, others give little smile, and still others look the other way coldly. Oh, just a few more minutes, I thought, and I would be in my seat ready for some quiet and a long nap.

 

Where is that 18 C? Okay here it comes …wait…you gotta be kidding me! I have the aisle seat next to…those two Mennonite women! Boy…God, you have a sense of humor…a Catholic priest and two Mennonite women. I had to smile to myself, since the Lord has often put me in these strange situations. My thoughts went to what the other passengers might be thinking? And, what about these two young women? What do Mennonites think about Catholic priests? Well, they probably they don't have a positive opinion if they are anything like fundamentalist Protestants. This was too weird, it must be God's plan, but why?

 

Assessing the situation, I thought it best to play in cool and see what happens. Looking back, this was just an excuse. In fact, my whole thought process was based on presumptions. It was just as Pope Francis says, “…instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying (EG 94).” How easy it is to stay in our own comfort zone and modes of thinking instead of going out into “the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel (EG 20).” This is where I am ashamed to say that I stayed for the rest of that two hour flight. I rationalized myself into avoiding any contact with another group that I had little real knowledge of. It began with just waiting a little to not seem over anxious to speak. Then, my thoughts progressed to other excuses: I need sleep. They are talking to one another. The flight is almost over. Finally, we were landing and I had not even looked at my fellow passengers to introduce myself or asked where they were going.  The opportunity had passed and I stayed safely within my own little world.

 

Why does the Spirit lead us into these situations? What could I really have done to share the Gospel with these two women who live in such a different world? The answers to these questions are often not readily apparent. As Pope Francis says, “The gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29).” “The Church has to accept the unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking (EG 22).”

 

We do not know what the effect of our efforts will be. What we do know it that we are called today to be in a permanent state of mission. It is no longer acceptable to just protect and grow in our own faith or that of our families.  Clearly, I was wrong and failed to be a sower of seeds. I did not live out my baptismal call to preach the Gospel to all nations.

 

We are called to reach out and let the Spirit do the rest. Maybe it would have been a nice conversation or an opportunity to break down barriers or misconceptions. Or possibly there could have been a deeper discussion of faith and doctrine. Likely it would have been, at least initially, uncomfortable or even painful if I did not get a warm response. We must do the good we can even if in the process our “shoes get soiled by the mud of the street (EG 45).”

 

The New Evangelization sounds really nice on paper, but it is essentially a challenge to die to self for the Gospel. We can firmly believe that Jesus Christ is speaking to us today through our Pope who says, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security (EG 49).” At least for one day, I was the one “clinging to my own security”.

 

It’s easy to preach the New Evangelization, but to put it into practice is much harder. Yet this is how the Church began. We stand on the shoulders of giants, of the Apostles, who took the Gospel to the farthest corners of the known world. Today we, like them, are looking out into a world bruised, hurting and dirty seeking something real. This is not the place for a life of ease. We are on pilgrimage with the command to preach the Gospel. This is what it means to live the New Evangelization.  To be truly in a permanent state of mission.

 

Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis

Life Teen Website

Permanent State of Mission 

A Refection on the Solemn Vows of a Mercedarian Friar

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, July 14, 2014

On May 5th Br Daniel Bowen, O. de M. made Solemn Vows in the Order. His good friend and mentor Deacon Chordas was present. Afterward, in Br Daniel's home parish bulletin, the deacon gave this moving reflection:

 

What is happiness? A few parishioners and I experienced a new level of joy as we participated in Brother Daniel's final profession of vows to the Mercedarian Order. On a beautiful day in the quaint town of LeRoy, NY, we witnessed a man's total dedication to God. Brother Daniel's journey continues to ordination as a Transitional Deacon and then, in six months or so, to ordination to the priesthood; but on May 5, 2014, he became an accepted member of and a brother to his Order of the Mercedarians.

 

Amidst his fellow brothers and priests, Brother Daniel beamed the joy of Christ as he answered the questions of his intentions. As he lay prostrate before his Superior of the Order and the altar of sacrifice, the Litany of the Saints was chanted; and so many of us were spiritually transported to a higher level. When he stood up, his face was beaming and his eyes were moist with the tears of gladness.

 

I was so happy for this young man who, as a sophomore at Mayfield High School, was a student in my History class. Now, as a Deacon, I was asked to participate in this most magnificent of events and view a true transformation.

 

We say that faith is a gift from God that many do not embrace. Brother Daniel not only embraced it but also has become a model of its ability to bring peace to all who embrace it.

 

What a beautiful journey for Daniel, who as a convert not only accepted the Catholic faith but took up the call to abandon all the materialistic goods that tempt us and follow Christ. Henry David Thoreau wrote in On Walden Pond: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Brother Daniel is not of that group. He has found his role in this short life we lead. Brother Daniel has become what so many of us have not: a true witness to Christ.

 

After the ceremony, the most powerful event happened ~ at least for me. On leaving the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Mercy in a procession of thirteen priests and many Mercedarian brothers, Brother Daniel came up to me and said that he loved me. In that moment, I felt as if Christ was speaking to me. Believe it or not, I was at a loss for words because I was too busy crying.

 

Brother Daniel is planning to be ordained sometime in the next year. The best part of this for us is that he is planning for it to be in his and our home parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus. This will be a great day of celebration!! Please pray for Br Daniel as he has been praying for us everyday.

 

Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish 

 

 More on Br Daniel

 

 Wikipedia on Solemn Vows

Mercedarian Memories: Remembering a friar who did the "little things"

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, June 21, 2014

We continue our look at the friars who have shaped the United States Vicariate. Today, Fr Eugene Costa, O. de M. tells us about the life of Fr Demetrius Marciano, O. de M.

 

Fr Marciano on the right1) When did you first meet Fr Marciano?

 

I first met him at our St. Rocco’s Parish in Cleveland, OH in 1972 (St Rocco’s is the Order’s parish in Cleveland).

 

2) Do you know anything about his history and/or background?

 

Fr Marciano was born September 17th 1891 in Rome, Italy. He came to the United States with his family when he was 9 years old. After arriving in the country, they settled in Girard, OH. Fr Marciano was a “delayed” vocation for his time. He was 31 years old when he entered. Prior to entering the Order, Fr Marciano was as a leather worker and a movie projectionist at a theater.

 

In the year 1924, Fr Marciano joined the community. He was the last of the students to complete their novitiate in Rome, Italy. After the canonical novitiate year, Fr Marciano came back to the States and studied at St Charles Seminary in Baltimore, MD and later at St Mary’s Seminary in the same city. He was ordained a priest September 19th 1936 at St Rocco’s in Cleveland.

 

 

Fr Marciano’s life would be one of humble service. He was never to be a superior or pastor, but only a simple friar. After ordination, he was assigned to Holy Redeemer parish in Youngstown, OH. Fr Marciano had many different assignments over the years including St Rocco’s parish from 1961-1976. He was assigned to the House of formation in LeRoy from 1976 until his death. While in LeRoy, NY he served the Order and the local church in many different capacities. He was the confessor to the Sisters of Mercy at Mercygrove in LeRoy.

 

Fr Marciano served God as a priest for more than 50 years. He died on August 6th 1990 only a month short of 100 years old!!

 

What are some of the virtues or positive qualities that Fr Marciano had?

 

Father was very faithful to the horarium or the daily schedule of the local community. Even into his elder years, he was prayerful saying 3 rosaries each day. Fr Marciano showed a special love for the Order’s Saints in his speech and example. He was very strict in living the vow of poverty. Fr Marciano was an example of hard work and dedication to the community.

 

For those of us that never met Fr Marciano, what is one or more story(s) you can share with us? (Something which can be passed down to future generations)

 

Well, there is always the famous stories about him and the relic of St Raymond. St Raymond Nonnatus is the patron of Christian families, expected mothers, and the unborn. Fr Marciano had a great devotion to him and would often bless women with this relic. He would tell them to have more babies! As a result of this some of the women in town would avoid him!

 

Fr Marciano would do many of the “little things” to save the community money and time. He would pick strawberries used for dessert and lettuce to make soup with. Father would also collect dented cans and take them to the supermarket in order to get some money for the local community. These were simple things, but they showed his love for the community.

 

Rest in Peace Fr Marciano and all the deceased of the Order!

 

Mercedarian Youth Group to Walk the Way of St James in Spain

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fr. David Spencer, O. de M. will lead a the youth of Our Lady of Lourdes Church on an ancient pilgrimage which inspired the movie The Way. The pilgrimage goes to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried. Legend has it that St. James' body was taken to Galicia by boat from Jerusalem and carried inland to where Santiago de Compostela is now located. The pilgrimage is believed by some to be one of three pilgrimages for which the sins of the pilgrim will be forgiven.

 

Here is all the details given by one of the youth:

Who are we?

 

We are the Youth of the Upper Room. Our group is based from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We gather once a week with our youth minister, Fr. David, to grow more deeply in our relationship with Christ and with one another. Our group began with 10 teenagers in December 2012; we've grown to nearly 40 teenagers, with an average meeting size of 25-30 teens. We've grown so much in this short period of time but we want to continue to grow even more in the ways of God and His Church. In the time we've been together, we've done several projects for the community around us: collecting 1000 jars of peanut butter and jam for the local foodbank, collecting money for the poor through our "battle of the sexes" penny campaign, sponsoring monthly Holy Hours for the entire community to come and pray and worship with us. 

 

Fr. David proposed to us from the start the need for us to learn to walk with Christ on a daily basis. Through our weekly study of Sacred Scripture, looking at the Theology of the Body, and learning about the Church, we've struggled with this walk, but we have walked and continue to walk with Christ. We want to continue to walk with our God. Fr. David began an initiative to take 20 teens on the Way of St. James, and so last June we began our campaign to raise the necessary funds to make this happen. We will be walking from Leon to Santiago de Compostela -- spend two weeks walking together in prayer, daily Mass, fellowship with Christ and one another.

What We Need & What You Get

 

Since last June, the youth group has worked hard to raise nearly $54,000.00. We've done this through bake sales, donut sales, t-shirt sales, participating in the Magnificat Day, here in Philadelphia, and from the generosity of other people who believe in this project. We are $7000.00 away from the final goal. The youth who were going were only asked by Fr. David to pay $500.00 toward the cost of the trip, which is $3300, per person. Many of the teens come from families of 4,5,6, or 7 siblings, so $500 is much more doable. The Chaperones who come do not receive any one of the funds raised by the teens. All proceeds go toward the participating teenagers.

 

The youth have been praying for the benefactors since day 1. For any amount that you are able to give, we will carry your intentions with us on our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The Impact

 

In our world today, a relationship with Christ is essential to one's growth in the world. Teenagers, today, are daily bombarded with all sorts of negative influences; influences that many times lead them down paths which are unhealthy and destructive. The impact of this pilgrimage will be, by the grace of God, one that will change the lives of these teens. It will not simply be a gathering of teens, but will be a walk with one another and with Christ. It will be time of silence, prayer, fellowship with other teens on pilgrimage and, undoubtedly, other people in search of something or someone (namely, God).

Other Ways You Can Help

 

Please pray for the teenagers; in fact, pray for all young people throughout the world. That they may grow in love with Christ and His Church and forge that relationship with Him which is a relationship that cannot lead to destruction, but only to fulfillment, love, holiness, and peace.

If you'd like to contribute to this event just go to Help Our Catholic Youth Walk the Way

 or by mail, please mail your donation to:

Our Lady of Lourdes Church -- Youth Group

1941 Wynnewood Rd. Philadelphia, PA. 19151

Patron of Expectant Mothers and Families: St. Raymond Nonnatus

Mercedarian Friar - Thursday, May 15, 2014

Much heated debate today is on the family. This only makes sense because healthy families are the foundation of any just society. During a press conference held in Philadelphia, USA Vatican officials announced the theme for the 2015 World Day of Families, which will center on humanity's universal vocation to love. It will be 'Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.'" The Mercedarian embrace this theme since so many families are in danger of losing the faith. We offer this reflection on the Patron Saint of Christian Families:

Nearly all women hope for the safe delivery of the child in the womb. And some couples have difficulty conceiving a child, and earnestly pray that God may grant them this wonderful gift.

It’s helpful to know that the patron saint of safe and healthy deliveries is a man who himself was born in a most unusual way.

St. Raymond Nonnatus came into this world about the year 1200 in the rugged Spanish region of Segarra. For many years, Raymond’s parents waited for a child to come. Raymond’s mother made a pilgrimage to the St. Nicholas' hermitage in the area with that intention.

She finally became pregnant. But near the end of her pregnancy, she became gravely ill and died. The life of Raymond, still in the womb, was saved by the Viscount of Cardona, who used his dagger to cut open the womb and lift Raymond out. This event earned Raymond the name “Nonnatus,” Latin for “not born.”

Like many saints, the call to holiness manifested itself to St. Raymond during his childhood. His education came from the priests, and often Raymond would visit St. Nicholas' hermitage, drawn to the peace of the monastic cells.

While the Holy Spirit pulled Raymond toward religious life, his father distracted him from this calling. The devil also coordinated attacks to tempt and distract him, but by the protection of the Virgin Mary, the young man persevered.

As a youth, Raymond met the friars of the Mercedarian Order, who inhabited the St. Nicholas Chapel and surrounding buildings. The Order of Mercy, founded by St. Peter Nolasco in 1218, went about collecting alms to be used for the redemption of Christian captives.

To these friars, Raymond revealed his secret — and that was, inspired by the Virgin Mary, he had made a vow of perpetual virginity, and wished to join her Order — the Order of Mercy. Raymond’s father was reluctant about his 21-year-old son’s joining the order. Yet, Raymond’s godfather, the Viscount, convinced him to change his mind. Thus, Raymond donned the white robe of the Mercedarians.

Mature beyond his years in virtue, Raymond soon made his profession and was recommended by the prior to continue his studies and apply for priestly ordination.

The pious Raymond Nonnatus was chosen by the Master General of the Order of Mercy for the sacrificial role of redeeming Christians who had been captured by the Moors. Imprisoned under terrible conditions, the Christians would often be offered freedom if they denounced Christ and followed the religion of Islam.

The special charism of the Mercedarian Order was to ransom these Christians who were in serious danger of losing their faith. Raymond's first rescue mission took place in 1224, in Valencia, Spain. Two hundred and thirty-three Christian captives were ransomed from the Moors. Next was the Moorish city of Algiers, where the Mercedarians ransomed 140 more captives. Over the next several years, Raymond and his companions made two more redemptions, rescuing another 378 Christians.

The final redemptive mission took place in Algiers in 1236. With all the ransom money spent, St. Raymond offered to stay behind as a hostage with the remaining Christian captives. Along with ministering to the prisoners, he preached to the Muslim guards, condemning the teachings of the prophet Mohammed.

So enraged were they that the Moors put an iron padlock through his lips, and he endured this for eight months before returning to Spain.

Not long after, Pope Gregory IX appointed Raymond a Cardinal.

Nearing the age of forty, St. Raymond became gravely ill at the Cardona Castle. Realizing he was dying without a priest, Raymond prayed desperately for Viaticum – the final reception of the Eucharist. It is written that Christ himself appeared in a vision, and after receiving the Eucharist, Raymond's soul was taken home.

His Order sought to bury him in a nearby cemetery of the Order, while the residents of both the castle and local parish wanted the honor of keeping the saint's remains at the St. Nicholas hermitage. To settle their claims, the disputing parties agreed to place the Saint's body on a blind mule, which would lead the body to the place of its burial. The animal plodded along for a long while, straight to the Saint Nicholas hermitage!

Why is this 13th century saint relevant today? St. Raymond is not only recognized as the patron saint of pregnant women, but of infertile couples, families seeking holiness, and travelers. With today's difficulties and threats against the family, his intercession is particularly powerful – and needed!

If you would like to pray to St. Raymond, get the St. Raymond Nonnatus Kit, which includes blessed St. Raymond water, a blessed candle, a brochure, and other items. It is available from the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

 www.MercySacramentals.org

World Meeting on Families Philadelphia

More on St Raymond

 

An Easter Reflection on the Gift of Freedom

Mercedarian Friar - Thursday, May 01, 2014

The following is based on a reflection from the 3rd Sunday of Easter (Luke 24:13-35)

One of the greatest gifts of being a parent is to recognize tangibly the beauty of life that God creates and blesses. Seeing your child run about with such joy and innocence is often a moment of contemplation for many. They may wish whimsically that they could keep them at 3 or 4 years of age forever. We all know too well the harsh realities of this world. How many, who began with the same innocence, have gone down a dark path.

 

However, we also deep down know that we can’t keep them in a bubble or “try to dominate the rhythm of life (Pope Francis, E.G. #82)” which must play out as it will. Yet, this fact doesn’t stop many from becoming what is popularly coined helicopter parents; hovering over their children trying to prevent the wrong choices. These parents, who know well the dangers of life, have all the best intentions for their children. But, is this how God our Father deals with us?

 

We see in today’s Gospel that Jesus has a much different way of treating his beloved. He profoundly respects the freedom of the disciples and chooses to quietly invite rather than force or even pressure. For there is no coercion in Love. This Road to Emmaus is more than just a physical walk, it is a powerfully symbolic spiritual journey. Jesus comes upon these two distraught disciples walking and takes pains to hide Himself. The passage says, “…their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” The Lord just simple asks them questions as a fellow traveler. “What are you discussing as you walk along?” “What sort of things… (have taken place in Jerusalem)?” The two men go on to explain the mystery of the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus is encouraging them to engage their whole person in the mystery; mind, senses, and soul. The hidden Lord reveals the deeper meaning of Sacred Scripture as they walk along the way.

 

Then, the time for a choice has come to the disciples. A turning point in their journey…in their lives. Will they welcome the hope-filled, but challenging messenger or go along the way returning to their former manner of life secure in their ignorance. Jesus will not force Himself on any of us even though He loves us dearly. The choice is truly free with no coercion. The two make their choice by saying, “Stay with us…” So they have made a more profound free decision to open themselves up to a great mystery. A life changing decision is made so casually as the walk along the way. Finally, “in the breaking of the bread” their “eyes were opened and they recognized him.”

 

What a profound lesson we receive in the Gospel about the life long journey of faith. It becomes even more powerful if we realize that the gift of New Life is being offered in such a gentle invitation. This is not our way is it? No, as humans, we would try to control the situation. Try to ensure that a person we loved made the right decision. But, then choice of faith would not be free or fully embraced.

 

Throughout history human beings have used coercion and/or force to prohibit religious freedom. It happened within the Church in times such as the Spanish Inquisition. Just as often, it has happened in the world through atheistic communism or the enforcing of Islamic Sharia law. In fact, our own Religious Order, the Mercedarian Friars, was founded by in Barcelona, Spain in 1218 to ransom Christians held captive by Muslims and pressured to renounce their faith. St Peter Nolasco, the founder (Feast May 6th), lead the community to offer everything even their lives, if necessary, for those whose religious freedom was threatened.

 

Today, we face new forms of coercion from Secular Governments who wish enact laws which threaten the commonly known beliefs of Christians. This is the case with the HHS Mandate which forces religious institutions to provide coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception. The Second Vatican Council document Dignitatis Humanae states: "This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such ways that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."

 

Jesus, the Lord, profoundly respects the freedom of each individual even if this means that they continue on the way without Him. This sort of radical respect for free will is what leads us to learn the supernatural skill of journeying with others. God has placed a desire for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in each of our hearts which leads us to Him. We must resist any attempts to control or force those who are adults, but instead appeal to the innate desires in their hearts. God’s grace is more powerful than any of our efforts and He givens abundant opportunities for us to choose Life. Let us respect the freedom of others and demand that ours be respected as well so that all may have the same chance to embrace Christ freely. This is the way of the Father; the way of a true Christian parent.

 

Happy Feast of St Peter Nolasco! May 6th

 Third Sunday of Easter

Declaration on religious freedom

Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation 

Soon to be "Saint" John Paul II's address to the Order

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, April 19, 2014

Next week, on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014, Blessed John Paul II will be canonized. All the world will be watching as this amazing figure will be formally recognized as a Saint. John Paul "the Great" was the longest reigning pope in modern history and brought the Church into the new millennium. It is estimated that more people saw him in person or via television than any other person in the history of the world. The message that he brought to the world was of great hope. As Mercedarians, we remember Pope John Paul II fondly as sharing with us an intense devotion to Mary. Here is an address given by the Pope to the entire Order:


Maintain the Entire Spirit of the Gospel

On May 22, 1986 the Holy Father received in audience the members of the General Chapter of the Order of the BVM of Mercy (or Ransom). He addressed them in Italian.

 

Reverend Father Master General,

Dearest Brothers,

 

1) It is with the greatest joy that I granted your request for a meeting, dear representatives of the esteemed Order of Our Lady of Ransom, on the occasion of the General Chapter of your religious family.

 

I greet you all cordially, and through you I greet all your brothers and sisters of the Institute, scattered in their communities through eighteen different countries--mostly in Latin America--continuing the work of your founder, Saint Peter Nolasco, in accordance with the demands of the Church and of modern society.

 

As you know, last year I sent a letter to the Master General and through him to the entire order, on the occasion of two major anniversaries in the history of your family: the 800th anniversary of the birth of your founder, and the 750th anniversary of the approval of your Order by my predecessor, Pope Gregory IX.

 

In that letter, I reiterated the trust that the Apostolic See still places today in the charism of your religious family. For so many centuries, in its own special ways, your family has served the cause of human dignity, of freedom of faith and of Christian life, especially in areas where these values are most seriously violated.

 

2) On this happy occasion, it is a joy for me to encourage you in your commitment to the realization of the ideals and intentions of your founder within the contemporary socio-historical context. However different this context may be from that of his day, there is still need for guidance towards the same essential values of justice, compassion, liberation, reconciliation, and peace. In particular, I would like to appeal to you to maintain, increase and spread the intense devotion, that stems from your very origins, to the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, who participated in such an exemplary manner in the redemptive task of her divine Son. Only thus will your Order be able to preserve whole and unaltered that evangelical spirit, that profound yearning for redemption and liberation of man, that has always been its essential quality—liberation of man from every misery, slavery and oppression, beginning with the fundamental one of sin.

 

Persevere in the Task

 

3) In the course of your long history, you too, as indeed other long-lived Orders, have been tested by historical events, some very difficult and painful. Your ancient tree has often felt the fury of storms: however, deeply rooted in faith and in communion with the Church and the See of Peter, it has victoriously resisted to this day. It is essential that your Order should persevere with renewed energy in its mission, for today the needs are immense, and there are many opportunities for intervention by your Order, so wisely instituted and providentially approved 750 years ago.

 

Persevere with tenacity in the task you have undertaken, totally aware that you are fulfilling a very useful role in the Church and in the world. However, this can only be true as long as you remain diligently faithful to the holy resolves of your profession, guaranteed and codified by the Church, and as long as you know how to fulfill these resolves in accordance with the legitimate demands of current realities, in harmony with the reforms now being introduced as a result of the Council.

 

On these conditions, a vast field of activity is open to your spiritual family: through evangelization and mission, the possibility of a large increase that would inspire and attract new and youthful enthusiasm for the cause of the Order and for the aim it serves—the liberation of man in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.

 

4) The richness of the inspiration of your founder is clearly manifested through the centuries, particularly in its capacity to express itself not only in the form of male religious life, priestly and lay, but also in female religious life, both active and contemplative, as well as in the lifestyle of the secular members. All these various modes and degrees of living the spirit of St Peter Nolasco find in this spirit their necessary unity and coordination, however different the various forms appropriate to each of them.

 

Therefore, I appeal to you all, priests and lay members, men and women religious always to be united among yourselves, as sons and daughters of one and the same father and patron, joining your forces more and more in a true spirit of fraternal love and cooperation, exchanging and sharing in a true spirit of communion those gifts that are proper to each, for a better realization of the common objectives of your diversified spiritual family.

 

May Our Lady of Ransom be for all the Mother and Model, in particular as you live your “fourth vow.” The very title of your Marian devotion that gives its name to your Order as well, is in itself a marvelous life programme: it speaks of compassion, redemption, conversion and forgiveness. These are the very same values for which the Son of God came to earth, became incarnate and gave up His life for us. May He therefore, through the intercession of Mary, be your light and your strength today and forever.

 

Dearest brothers, it is in this spirit that I express the hope that the work of your Chapter will contribute to the realization of the suggestions that I have offered, for the good of modern humanity and the coming of the Kingdom of God. With all my heart I give my special blessing to all the brothers and sisters in your spiritual family.

 

Date set for Canonization 

 

Blessed John Paul II Bio

 

Generalate Website 

Br Daniel prepares for Solemn Vows in the Order

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, April 07, 2014

In August 2006, Daniel Bowen had the courage to follow God's Call to enter the Mercedarian Order as a postulant. This was not an easy transition since he was 35 years old and was making a decent salary as claims adjuster for Progressive Insurance. But, Daniel believed that God was calling him to something "radical" to follow Jesus totally as the first apostles did. So, he began the process of selling some of his things to pay some debt that he had accumulated.

 

After making application to the Order, Daniel was accepted and invited to live at the House of Studies in Philadelphia. There he began a the long journey of formation which included seminary study, human formation, and spiritual formation. After nine months in postulancy, Daniel "took the habit" and began to live the life of a religious in Novitiate. The canonical year of novitiate consisted of a more intense prayer life, classes in the history of religious life, the vows, and especially the Charism of the Order. This year prepares the novice to understand the commitment which they will undertake by making vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the Fourth Vow of Redemption. On the feast of the Holy Redeemer July 9th 2008, Br Daniel made these temporary vows before the community, his family, and members of the laity.

 

After making simple or temporary vows, Br Daniel came back to Philadelphia to continue his formation in religious life and for the priesthood. As a clerical student, he attended St Charles Borromeo Seminary until receiving his Masters in May 2013. After completing his Seminary studies, Br Daniel continued his formation while being assigned as DRE of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in LeRoy, NY. Here he works as director of the religious education program, as sacristan, and in so many other capacities with the local community.

 

The journey of formation was not always easy for Br Daniel. He, like all candidates, had his good experiences and painful ones, but through it all Our Lady of Mercy sustained him. Br Daniel has grown over the years in his understanding of the consecrated life and especially the Mercedarian Charism. This Charism is centered on the 4th Vow which obligates the friars to be willing "to give up our lives, as Christ gave up his life for us, should it be necessary, in order to save those Christians who find themselves in extreme danger of losing the faith by new forms of captivity (CO #14)."

 

It is in this spirit of self-sacrifice that Br Daniel Bowen, O. de M. will make his Solemn Vows for life through the Order in the service of captive Christians. This will take place at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, LeRoy, NY on the Solemnity of St Peter Nolasco, Tuesday, May 6th at 7pm. All are invited to attend the Mass and a cookie reception afterwords. In the meantime, please keep Br Daniel in your prayers as he prepares to become a Solemnly Professed Mercedarian Friar!

 

For More information on this event please visit:

Profession of Solemn Vows

Our Lady of Mercy Parish

 


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