Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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The Gate of Heaven Icon of Our Lady of Mercy

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Icon Also Known As:

The Portal of the Sky

The All-Holy Keeper of the Portal

[Greek: Panagia Portaitissa (pronounced “Pah-nah-YEE-ah Por-tai-TEE-sa”)]

The Iveron Mother of God

 

History and Symbolism

 

The Original “Gate of Heaven” Mother of God is a Byzantine Icon of the Virgin Mary which according to some is one of the paintings made by St. Luke the Evangelist. The full history of the famous miraculous image is not known. The Icon is referred to as "Wonderworking" meaning that numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God by persons praying before it. A Byzantine painting is like a door. Seeing a beautiful door is nice, but who wants to just stand there looking at the door? We want to open the door and go beyond it. The door might be attractive or unattractive, but it is only a door, there to lead us into a new world.

 

Before the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches called “The Great Schism of the year 1054,” the Gate of Heaven Icon of the Mother of God was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the reign of the Emperor Theophilus (829–842), the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian. One of the soldiers struck the Icon with his spear, and immediately blood began to flow from the gashed cheek of the Virgin. The mark is depicted in all copies that have since been painted of this icon. Apparently Our Lady wants man to remember her sorrows and to recall that she is a Mother who understands sorrow and suffering. Shaken by this miracle, the soldier instantly repented, renounced the iconoclast heresy, and entered a monastery.

 

The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. The widow spent the whole night in vigil, praying before the Icon of the Mother of God. In the morning, according to God’s will, the woman and her son put the holy image into the Mediterranean Sea. To her immense surprise and joy the Icon did not sink but, remaining upright, began to sail westward.

Fleeing persecution, the widow's son left Nicea and went to Mount Athos, Greece where he led a saintly life as a monk to the end of his days. There he recounted the story of the miracle of the bleeding wound, of how his mother had set the holy icon upon the waves, and this story was handed down from one generation of monks to another.

 

Time passed, and one evening in the year 1004, the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos beheld a pillar of fire, shining upon the sea like the sun and reached to the heavens. The miraculous view lasted several days, while the fathers of the Holy Mountain gathered together, marveling at the sight. Finally, they descended to the edge of the sea, where they beheld the Icon of the Mother of God in the pillar of fire. But when they approached it, the icon moved farther out to sea.

 

At that time, a Georgian monk named Gabriel was working at the Iveron Monastery. The Mother of God appeared to the fathers of the Holy Mountain and told them that Gabriel alone was worthy to retrieve the holy icon from the sea. At the same time, She appeared to Gabriel and told him, “Enter the sea, and walk out upon the waves with faith, and all will witness my love and mercy for your monastery.” The monks of Mt. Athos found Gabriel and led him down to the sea, chanting hymns, and censing with holy incense. Gabriel walked out upon the water as though upon dry land, took the icon in his arms, and obediently carried it back to shore.

 

While the monks were celebrating a service of thanksgiving, a cold, sweet spring miraculously gushed forth from the ground where the icon stood. Afterwards, they took the icon to a church and set it down in the sanctuary with great reverence.

 

However, one of the monks who came to light a lamp the next morning discovered that the icon was no longer where they had left it. In fact, it was hanging on a wall near the entrance gate. The disbelieving monks took it down and returned it to the sanctuary, but the next day the icon was again found at the monastery gate. This miracle recurred several times, until the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Gabriel, saying, “Announce to the brothers that from this day they should not carry me away. For what I desire is not to be protected by you; rather I will overshadow you, both in this life and in the age to come. As long as you see my icon in the monastery, the grace and mercy of my Son shall never be lacking!”

 

Filled with exceeding joy, the monks erected a small church near the monastery gate to glorify the Most Holy Mother of God and placed the wonderworking icon inside. The holy icon came to be known as the “Iveron Mother of God” and because of its location, in Greek, Portaitissa or “The Keeper of the Portal.” By the grace of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, many miracles have taken place and continue to take place throughout the world.

 

It is believed that the disappearance of the Iveron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world. Later, the Orthodox Church took over Mt. Athos including the Iveron Monastery where the original Icon resides up to the present time.

 

This modern copy of the Gate of Heaven Icon was made by a man named Chrysostomos in 1981. Myrrh is miraculously flowing from some copies of it. As also with the case of the Icon of “La Bruna” which became an Icon of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the White Scapular of Our Lady of Mercy was later added on it.

The icon belongs to a family of images of Mary known as Hodegetria (“She who shows ‘The Way’”) after the prototype from Constantinople. In these icons, the Ever Virgin Mary is holding Christ and pointing toward Him, as a guide to God and salvation. Another famous icon based upon Hodegetria is Our Lady of CzÄ™stochowa.

 

Mary is shown with her head covered with a veil, which drops to her shoulders, according to the tradition of Jewish women of that time. This veil or head covering is red, the color worn by virgins during the time of Christ and to show also Mary’s suffering and acquired holiness. Under her veil her clothing is blue, the color worn by mothers in Palestine, symbolizing the humanity of the Mother of God. Above her head are the letters “MP OY,” an abbreviation of the Greek: “Mater Theos” – the Mother of God. The gold cuffs on her sleeves are fit for a Queen, and indicate her intercession for the people. There are three stars, one on the forehead and one on each shoulder. These stars symbolize her virginity. She was a virgin before, during, and after the Nativity of Christ. The three stars are also a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

 

The third star may or may not be covered by the figure of the child identified to us as Jesus Christ (abbreviated as IC XC), the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who even as a child is holding the scroll or book of the Gospels, embodying all the wisdom of the true God. His halo contains those three Greek letters meaning “I AM”, testifying to His divinity, and even as an infant His right hand is shown giving a blessing.

 

Sources:

1. Orthodox Wiki

2. http://oca.org/saints/lives/2014/09/26/205488-arrival-of-the-iveron-icon-of-the-mother-of-god-in-georgia

3. http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/icon_myrrh_ext.htm

4. http://www.antiochian.org/node/17508

5. http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/icons-of-the-mother-of-god/

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panagia_Portaitissa

7. http://www.baclaranchurch.org/icon.html

[Editor: Daniel James Cruz]

 

Ave Maris Stella

 

Hail, thou Star of ocean,

Portal of the sky!

Ever Virgin Mother

Of the Lord most high!

 

Oh! by Gabriel's Ave,

Uttered long ago,

Eva's name reversing,

Establish peace below.

 

Break the captives’ fetters;

Light on blindness pour;

All our ills expelling,

Every bliss implore.

 

Show thyself a Mother;

Offer Him our sighs,

Who for us Incarnate

Did not thee despise.

 

Virgin of all virgins!

To thy shelter take us:

Gentlest of the gentle!

Chaste and gentle make us.

 

Still, as on we journey,

Help our weak endeavor;

Till with thee and Jesus

We rejoice forever.

 

Through the highest heaven,

To the Almighty Three,

Father, Son, and Spirit,

One same glory be.

Reflection in Preparation for the World Meeting of Families

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The following is a summary of a talk given by Dr. Jonathan Reyes to the priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on October 4, 2014. It is hoped that the essence of Dr Reyes’ inspiring words are captured accurately.

Archbishop Chaput introduces Dr Jonathan Reyes as the primary speaker for this workshop intended to kick off the clergy’s preparations for the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia September 21st -25th 2015.  Dr Reyes is one of the founding members of FOCUS or Fellowship of Catholic University Students. When the Archbishop was the Ordinary of Denver, CO, he first got to know Dr Reyes. At this time he was the president of Augustine Institute. Recognizing Dr Reyes’s skills and leadership, the Archbishop appointed him as the Director Catholic Charities in Archdiocese of Denver. Currently, our speaker holds the very important position as the director of the Office of Peace and Development for USCCB.

Dr Reyes introduces himself candidly admitting that he was a bit apprehensive about speaking to a room full of priests. However, he will take the same position as C. S. Lewis who on May 11th 1959 spoke before Anglican clergy and proclaimed, “I am a sheep, telling shepherds what only a sheep can tell them. And now I begin my bleating.”

Dr Reyes’ talk will have 3 parts: 1st the history of family life & challenges, 2nd the ordering of family life in way that helps us deal with these challenges, & 3rd  speaking as sheep to shepherd (as a dad telling us the clergy what fathers need to hear or know).

 

On July 27, 2013, Pope Francis gave an address to the Bishops of Brazil in which he stated, “Ours is not an age of change, but a change of age. “ Dr Reyes emphasis that we are in an age fundamentally different from centuries past. Other authors have expounded on this supposition. In the last two centuries, the human race has experienced a change greater than any in its history.

 

Christendom to Post-Christendom

 

To understand this we must go back into the history of Christendom. Christendom can be described as a period of time when society and what guided social life came from the Church. For example in Medieval France there was a law which stated that if anyone who was seriously ill went for 10 days without anointing of sick then could not receive a Christian burial. The assumption was that no person would be so clueless or foolish in such a Christian society as to go for 10 days without the Sacrament?

 

In Europe, we begin to enter post-Christendom with the French Revolution. It was more than just a power struggle or desire for democracy. There was truly an anthropological revolution going on. The ideas and concepts were brought in by the Revolution, which fundamentally changed society. The most important of these was that God no longer had much to do with human affairs. Basically, the premise was that God created the world, but then “stepped back” to allow science and reason to govern creation. Another aspect of this was the belief that man didn’t have Original Sin or the tendency toward sin.  With education and time, human beings could overcome their weaknesses and “get things right”.

 

In the United States of America things were a little different. We could have described the nation as a Protestant country. Most of the cultural norms and modes of thinking were grounded in a deeply Protestant worldview. In the States, the bible was universally accepted as Divine Revelation or at least an authoritative document. Even in the Civil War, commonly regarded as the nation’s bloodiest and most divisive battle, both sides justified their position from biblical quotes. Yes, the nation remained primarily Christian long after Europe’s substantial break with Christendom.

 

Things would remain the same in the United States until the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s. Nearly, 160 years after the French revolution, Christendom began to break apart in the nation and the Post-Christendom period began. Christian ideals were replaced with the same secular humanist concepts of the French Revolution. Divine Providence was not seen as governing all of creation. Sin could be eradicated.

At this time, Dr Reyes took a closer look at the history of Catholicism in the United States. From the beginning of the nation, Catholics were a minority group which was marginalized. This would continue until World War II. After the War, Catholics stepped into the mainstream for the first time. Many Catholic men returned from the War to take advantage of the GI Bill. They became the first members of their family to receive a college education. Ironically, Catholic were stepping into culture right at moment of a profound cultural revolution. Despite this we can say that for 30 to 40 years Catholicism and the Nation got along very well.

 

What was seen as revolutionary thought in the 1960’s was really practical relativism. Everyone on their own is free to make up their own norms. Culture grows around assumptions, which become norms. This has happened in the Post-Christendom era as the society has embrace practical relativism as the norm. This effects the family profoundly. Today faithful Christian families do not have confidence that their children will go to school and get the Judeo-Christian worldview. This problem goes very deep, because we cannot trust culture to support the family as before the “revolution”. Christendom had its disadvantages, but the advantage was that parents could trust that they were supported by the culture.

 

Building a Culture in the Family

 

Dr Reyes explains that parents must be proactive rather than reactive. The parents today must be intentionally building a culture in their own families that is different than the one around them. Dr Reyes uses the Religious Life as an example. Each community has a “rule of life” which they follow. The presumption is in each institute that if you follow this life you will grow closer to God. “You build the life and it builds you.” Parenting must be thinking about what kind of cultural life can I build within the family?

What would such a life look like? Dr Reyes offers several life principles to go by. He does so by presenting five challenges and five things (goods) we can order family life to.

 

1) The first challenge is that the modern culture is ordered to fragment or to break up relationships. Individualism is a foundational value in the United States. However, in reality it is bad for relationships. Individualism permeates the culture in such profound ways. It can be found in our language and daily experience. One of these ways is through consumerism. The person is told that they are a consumer who has certain resources. This orders us to think more in terms of the individual than the community. Social Media only adds to this individualism by encouraging superficial relationships. The response to this is that we need to build family lives ordered to solidarity. Parents must find ways of being and speech in the family culture which are ordered to solidarity or communion.

 

2) The second challenge is that the current culture undermines all authority. Just look at the movie “Back to the Future”. In this famous movie, all the adults are idiots and children save the universe. What is constantly being spread is the primacy of the child and foolishness of the adults. This is an attack on authority at its heart. The God given authority of a father and mother are under attack today. Men and women need to recognize that they are the parents given authority by God. A culture must be created in the family which promotes a healthy honoring of authority.

 

3) The third challenge is the comfort culture. Our cars are made with heated seats and all kinds of things to make the driver comfortable. This is true of so many things in the United States. In general everything is ordered to our comfort. We as citizens begin to expect to be comfortable all the time. No suffering and no disappointments should happen to us. We become selfish and soft. Instead, the family must be ordered to the love of Christ through mortification and discipline. Parents must find some way to create a culture in the home which recognizes the value of sacrificing for God and others.

 

4) The fourth challenge is a massive confusion of where the human person comes from and who we are. There is no understanding of the dignity of the human person and the universal call to holiness. Dr. Reyes suggests that we go back to the Aristotelian/Scholastic notions of the person. Actions produce habits. Habits produce character. Character leads to true happiness. Vices can be overcome and virtue can become easier to achieve.

 

5) The fifth challenge is that in our current culture the unseen is not real. We are taught by the culture that the only thing that matters is what we feel, smell, and/or touch. Anything that is unseen is not real. To combat this a family must order there life around what is unseen (spiritual realities). This can be done by the way we talk in the home. An example of this would be simply telling a child that they are not alone because Jesus is present as well as the angels and Saints.

 

Finally, Dr Reyes adds a thought about the media. Technology has access to shape public opinion. Parents must understand that their children are being influenced by hundreds of people through technology and social media. This is a big change. Fifty years ago if someone wanted access to a children they first must go through the parents. Now many people have direct access to our children. With this in mind, we must order the use of media in the family. Dr Reyes’ personal opinion is to get media out of your life to the extent that you can.

There are 3 things that a family must do: 1) Pray as family, 2) Tithe (give away 10 percent to God) & 3) Honor the Lord’s Day.

 

How to inspire fathers to leadership

 

The third part of Dr. Reyes’ talk focused on what priests can do to be supportive and helpful to families. Number one is to make it known that fathers have an obligation of spiritual leadership. The priest could say, “I, as a father of a family (the parish), have a certain obligation to care for my family in a spiritual way.” “You too have this vocation to spiritual fatherhood.”

 

Men must be called forth by the priest. The pastor goes to the man and invites him to real responsibilities. He speaks to the father of their call to spiritual leadership within the family.

It is important to remember to encourage community for men. Fathers do well when they have others men to support them in their vocation. When we want men to do something apostolic we must find lay leaders to bring the men together. Men need friends to call them to action and accountability. They need to know that they have an obligation to build-up family life together. In the parish Men’s movements are good, but they have a short shelf life. The key is the parish community which will endure.

 

In our current culture, it is important to avoid the temptation to a mindset of “scarcity and discouragement”. We can look at the current struggles as Catholic’s in society from a very negative perspective. Church used to have… Things were so much better when…. This train of thought leads only to a temptation to discouragement. We are left just grasping at the past trying to hold onto it as long as we can. Over it 2000 year history, the Church has faced these sort of struggles before. Her response has always been apostolic. To go forth and confront the culture with the Good News of the Gospel!

 

Dr Reyes gave some references:

Statistics on the effect of broken families-- Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia

Catholic programs for men: “That man is you!” program &“The Kings Men”


Dr Reyes and USCCB

World Meeting of Family Philly


 

 

 

Revival in St Petersburg: 3rd Order brings new life and excitement

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sue Tambasco is the president of the 3rd Order in St. Petersburg. Recently she took some time to answer some questions about their collaboration in the Order's redemptive ministry.

 

1) How many members are in the 3rd Order in St Petersburg? Any new members?

We currently have nineteen active members. Of these seven are fully active, while five show up when they can (age and health problems). We are excited to now have seven brand new members to the 3rd Order.  Also, we have three who are interested to enter formation.

 

2) What is attracting so many lay people to desire to share in the spiritual goods and redemptive‎ work of the Order?

                This is a good question. Things were not always so good with the 3rd Order. I took a two months away from the 3rd Order to be with my parent helping them out and sort through health issues (Dad 92 and mom 90 this year.) I am the primary caregiver. I let the vice president take over. I than took off for a week of prayer and solitude to evaluate my life. It came to me that we need to start over. My main question was what was keeping people from looking at the 3rd Order. What were the excuses I heard? Who in the 3rd Order was capable of doing anything? How did outsiders look at the 3rd Order?  What were my challenges with the 3rd Order that could be someone else's? Would we be able to revived this 3rd Order or not? No one wants to be part of a sinking ship. 

                The first change we made was to change the meeting time. Weekends were out. There are only four a months compared to 25 weekdays. People were not willing to giving up their weekend. Professionals look at this as relaxing time, parents for kid’s sports, and people like me were having to make choices between meetings and family events. We moved to nights that created another of issue. Many member don't drive at night. We set up a way younger members would pick them up and found some really do drive at night.  We skipped having a Mass each meeting, most were already attending daily mass. We limit the meeting to 1 very structured hour. If you have been part of a network group you can understand this and these are the type people we trying to look at the Order. Those in the professional world realized this would be one intense hour, no wasted time in their schedule. We include prayer for our monthly mission, time to share (optional: 2-3 people)) how the Mercedarian Spirit played out that month in some way in their life, news, and 30 minutes of formation.  Those 5 years or more in the 3rd Order must go to formation 4 times a year, the other meetings they have the option to spend time in the chapel praying for the new people.  We allow only half the active group to pray so there is always active members in formation with new people. 

                We opened the year with inviting new people to an open meeting... ok... two of us invited people and people and people. One other brought an aunt not really interested but to bring someone. The priest also invited some. We put it in bulletins, on the Diocesan calendar, and 2 of us went thought dozens of brochures.  At the meeting set people shared what the Order meant to them, Father shared a little history, we gave them the meeting outline, and we had food!  It set the tone, brought in new interest and God has taken it from there. We will be a scheduling another open meeting for in two months. Hopefully with the new member it will grow again. 

                 One other thing I see as very important. The group loves seeing all our priest at the meetings, even to just stop in and say hello. For them to get to know all the Priest, not just the spiritual director, has allowed then to grow and experience the order in a greater way. It makes them aware of the bigger family they are now part of, lets them see different missions and personalities are priest have. 

 

3) What are some of the redemptive activities of the 3rd Order? (collecting goods etc.)

                When the Master General was here last, and the time before, we had a chance to talk. He supported and encouraged us to continue our mission. Each month we pray and collect for a community need. The list is compiled at the beginning of each year and times for the receivers needs. Sometimes we have a place selected but will contact them as we get closer to see what is needed. Examples school supplies for needy kids when school starts, blankets for the homeless when winter begins,  food for the food banks when school get out and needs are up etc. We also include the Orders local house and Seminary. We started this program for a couple reason. One; many of our members are up in age and could not do more than this. Two; it puts the Mercedarian name out in our community at many levels and locations.

                However, now that our 3rd Order is growing we are now in the process of picking a secondary mission that is hands on. I have met with three small groups from our Lay Order for input. We have decided on a adopting a nursing home or special needs home. This has been wild in many respects, some of the member insist they need intense training, some will not go in neighborhoods they have not been in thinking they are not safe, some say no nursing home since they just lost parents, and so on. I realize I will just need to make a decision and let God take over the rest. I have a certain one in mind but need to find time to talk with Father James (who handles Eucharist Ministers at St Jude's) and one more person who I know is often there. Hopefully it will be sorted out in the next few weeks. 

The Cathedral of St Jude 

Mercedarian 3rd Order

 

 

Mercedarian friar interviewed on international Catholic radio station

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On August 5th Fr Ken Breen, O. de M. was interviewed by Michael O'Neill on the program "Miracle Hunter". Miracle Hunter is broadcast by Radio Maria, which can be heard in 11 states throughout the country.

 

In this interview, Fr.Ken, who is the Vicar Provincial of the US Vicariate, recounts the intriguing history of the Order which began in the 1200s in Spain, and involved ransoming Christian captives who were in danger of losing their faith. He also talks about how the Order's Charism applies to its mission today in such areas as helping families, working with youth, and aiding in the pro-life effort. The order is active in other parts of the world, such as Spain, Italy, South America, Africa and India, and their areas of service in those areas include jail ministry, immigrant services, and working to end human trafficking.

 

Fr. Ken also talks about his own journey in joining the Order of Mercy. While growing up, he liked science and math. His path of discernment led him to discover a vocation to love. He had to decide whether his vocation would involve marriage or something else.  He found the beginning of his journey in this simple word from Christ: "No greater love does one have than this: to lay down one's life for one's friend."  (Jn 15:13)  He was also attracted to this Marian order, in part due to his mother's devotion to Our Lady.

 

This interview was conducted by Michael O'Neill on the program "Miracle

Hunter," and broadcast by Radio Maria.

 

 Are you being called to become a Mercedarian friar? Go to

http://www.orderofmercy.org or write to the Vocation Director of the Order

of Mercy at vocations@orderofmercy.org.

 

 

Litany of Blessed Virgin Mary for the Persecuted Church

Mercedarian Friar - Friday, September 12, 2014

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus made it clear to his disciples that they would experience persecution and hatred. He tells us in Matthew 10:22, "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." And again in John,"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... (Jn. 15:20)" Yet despite all of this Scriptural evidence we are often lulled into thinking that persecution and martyrdom for the Faith are things of the past. It takes events such the Arab Spring uprising in Syria and the most recent ISIS brutal jihad in Iraq to wake us up. Even the most lukewarm of Christian now knows that believing does indeed mean hardship and even death to many of our fellow Christians.

 

What are we do in such a situation? We must return to the Scriptures and the tradition of our Church which tells us that persecution is part of the Christian walk. It is critical that we not stand ideally by while any are suffering injustice, let alone our own fellow Believers. We must make it know that this is a grave injustice and one that we will not tolerate.  Also, we are called to respond to this onslaught by coming together in prayer, fasting, and solidarity with those members of the Body of Christ who are suffering. In true Christian charity, we pray for our persecutors that their eyes may be opened to the Truth.

 

One of the Order's parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes, has offered an opportunity for the faithful to come together in prayer for the persecuted Church. For seven Sundays, they have organized a holy hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for the Persecuted Church. The faithful come together to adore the Lord and make reparation for the crimes committed against religious freedom and the dignity of the human person.

 

Please join us in prayer for all involved in these crimes against humanity. We offer this beautiful litany as a fitting prayer for these times:

 

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Persecuted Church

 

Lord, have mercy.                                                               

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.                                                             

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.                                                               

Lord, have mercy.

 

God our Father in heaven,                                                  

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, redeemer of the world,                                  

Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,                                                             

Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,                                                          

Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,                                                                            

Pray for us.

Holy Mother of God,                                                             

Pray for us.
Queen of the silenced Church,                                            

Pray for us.                                  

Loving Guide of exiles and refugees,                                   

Pray for us.

Mother of the oppressed and those who have disappeared,

Pray for us.

Help of the exploited,                                                             

Pray for us.

Consoler of the victims of unbridled capitalism,                     

Pray for us.

Refuge of the forgotten in wealthy nations,                            

Pray for us.

Hope of those in shelters,                                                       

Pray for us.

Stare of the outcast and victims of racism,                             

Pray for us.

Eye that never sleeps,                                                             

Pray for us.

Indestructible wall against heresy,                                           

Pray for us.

Mother and help of the wayward,                                             

Pray for us.

Queen of the afflicted,                                                              

Pray for us.

Redemptress of the repudiated,                                               

Pray for us.

Help of Christians,                                                                    

Pray for us.

Queen of Confessors,                                                               

Pray for us.

Queen of Apostles,                                                                   

Pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs,                                                                     

Pray for us.

 

Option A

Through the blood of the Martyrs,                                            Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the exile of confessors,                                              Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the chains of the imprisoned,                                     Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the violence done to the innocent,                             Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the tears of the persecuted,                                       Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the trials against your saints,                                     Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the defamations uttered against your Vicar,              Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the insults against bishops,                                        Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the slander against priests and religious,                   Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through the accusations against your Bride,                           Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.
Through the torture accepted for your glory,                             Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through locked and destroyed churches,                                 Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through plundered altars,                                                         Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

Through moral restrictions and forced confessions,                  Lord, give your Church freedom unity and peace.

 

Option B

From the hatred of apostates,                                                     Lord, free your Church.

From the terrorism of atheists,                                                    Lord, free your Church.

From the error of materialism,                                                     Lord, free your Church.

From classism and racism,                                                          Lord, free your Church.

From all slavery,                                                                           Lord, free your Church.

From false prophets,                                                                    Lord, free your Church.

From the poison that invades peoples minds,                              Lord, free your Church.

From sacrilege against Consecrated persons,                             Lord, free your Church.

From atheistic education,                                                             Lord, free your Church.

From war against religion,                                                            Lord, free your Church.

From deprivation of freedom,                                                       Lord, free your Church.

From our indifference,                                                                  Lord, free your Church.

From confusion of ideas,                                                              Lord, free your Church.

 

Option C

For all who are persecutors,                                                         Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who have betrayed you,                                                    Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who are deceived by error,                                                Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who have no faith in you,                                                   Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who do not love you,                                                          Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who do not pray,                                                            Lord, hear our prayer.

For the new Judas',                                                                       Lord, hear our prayer.

For our apostles who have abandoned you,                                 Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who are weak in professing their Faith,                        Lord, hear our prayer.

For the indifference toward the suffering,                                      Lord, hear our prayer.

For an end to all persecution,                                                        Lord, hear our prayer.

For Christian unity,                                                                         Lord, hear our prayer.

For world peace,                                                                            Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Spare us, Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Graciously hear us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,                    Have mercy on us.

 

V. We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God.

R. Despise not our petitions in our necessity, but deliver us from all evil, O glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.

 

Let us pray: God our Father, in your mysterious providence, your Church must share in the sufferings of Christ your Son. Give the spirit of patience and love to those who are persecuted for their Faith in you, that they may always be true and faithful witnesses to your promise of eternal life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

 

Ways to give:

Help Iraq Catholics

Catholic Relief Services to Middle East

 

More Information:

Voice of the Martyrs

 

 

 

A Reflection on Fraternal Life in the Rule of St Augustine

Mercedarian Friar - Friday, September 05, 2014

The following is a homily based on the readings from the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. It delves into the wisdom of the Rule of St Augustine followed by the Order for almost 800 years.


Just a year ago, Pope Francis made a special announcement to the whole Church. This was that November 2014-November 2015 would be the Year of Consecrated Life. Unfortunately, many may not have known about this special announcement. Some may think that it is just for those who are religious priests, brothers, and sisters. However this way of radically imitating Jesus has an effect on the whole Church. How many of us have been blessed by the example of sisters, brothers, and religious priests? Their life teaches us about how to strive to live in community with a total desire to serve Christ.

 

Each one of these religious communities follows a rule of life, which gives guidance to their consecration and communal living. One of the most famous of these rules is the Rule of St Augustine. This tiny rule written in 400 AD is followed by thousands of religious. One of the more interesting passages is found in section 8:

 

“If you brother, for example, were suffering a bodily wound that he wanted to hide for fear of undergoing treatment, would it not be cruel of you to remain silent and a mercy on your part to make this known? How much greater then is your obligation to make his condition known lest he continue to suffer a more deadly wound of the soul.”

 

By these words St Augustine challenges communities, families, and friends to live true charity. We hear in the second reading that the greatest commandment is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” “Love does no evil to one’s neighbor.” We also could say that love allows no evil to befall a neighbor. How can we say we love our brother, if we allow them to remain with a serious wound which could otherwise be treatable? What if we say nothing as the wound becomes infected and threatens the person’s health or even life? To most of us we can see how obviously wrong it is to do such a thing.

 

It becomes less clear when we, like St Augustine, are speaking of a spiritual wound. When our loved one is caught up in a life of sin. In such cases, the normal response today is to say, “It is none of my business” or “I shouldn’t judge.” Yet, the spiritual wound is just as deadly, maybe worse, than a physical one. The physical wound effects the body while it doesn’t normally influence the person’s relationships. The spiritual wound, however, harms not only the person but their relationships. This is because the soul has such an intense effect on the whole person. The relationships to family and friends are often strained. The wounded person unconsciously turns away from those who support and love him or her the most.

 

Even more unfortunate is the damage caused to the person’s relationship to God their Father and Creator. Sin is a lack of love and necessarily has a profound effect on our relationship to God who is Love. Anyone who has a faith-life knows the importance of our relationship with the Lord. He is our shelter in the storm. He is our lighthouse through the darkness. God is not a distant figure who began the world only to “let it go”. No…the Lord holds all things in being, gives us our next breath, and lovingly walks with those who invite Him into their life. To lose our relationship with God is a deep loss which is experienced at every level of the person’s existence.

 

Let us not be mistaken. It is cruel to remain silent when family, friends, or even acquaintances are dying inside from a serious spiritual wound. In great love, we have a responsibility help them. Following the Gospel, we can do so with words and others assistance. Yet, the most

 powerful way remains prayer, sacrifice, and true signs of our affection for them.

 

We show them that they are still loved by us and, most importantly by, God. The door remains open for them to return to the Father’s House. They will receive the healing that they need to become whole again. Love is respectful, but it is also truthful. It never minimizes the wounds of others, but always seeks their healing. May we have the same love for our neighbor as Christ has for us.

 

Rule of St Augustine

Rejoice!! A letter to consecrated men and women.

Year of Consecrated 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


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