Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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The Latest from the Order

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

Video Raises Awareness and Encourages Prayer the for Persecuted Church

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

 

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

http://www.helpiraq.org/

 

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

 

 


Living the Spirit of Redemption in Florida

Mercedarian Friar - Sunday, February 15, 2015

 

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

*____________________________________________________________________Sincerely

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

M.*

 

http://cathedralalive.org/

http://pinellashope.org/

http://www.sacredheartpinellaspark.com/


SEEKing Something More

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, January 26, 2015

January 1st- 5th over 9 thousand college students from around the United States attended SEEK 2015 Conference in Nashville, TN. This event is sponsored by one of the fastest growing Catholic organization in America, Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The conference was a truly powerful and life changing experience for all those present.

 

It is impossible to do justice to a conference with over 50 talks given by some of the biggest names in the Catholic Church. Yet as one man journeys through the weekend he can recognize some themes.

 

Coming into the miniature city which is the Gaylord Opryland Resort, these college students were leaving a university life commonly seen as the center of secular thought. That which is taught at most colleges is based on a fundamentally different world view than our Catholic tradition. These principles have to do with the definition of "the good" and the nature of the human person. With the denial of objective truth the emphasis in many Universities is put on placed solely on the individual. This is why our culture seeks fulfillment in pleasure, materialism, and obsession with appearances.

 

As Dr. Jonathan Reyes said in his Impact talk "unexamined assumptions shape our worldview". Many of us, especially young adults, are so overly occupied with work, studies, and technology that we do not examine those concepts learned from a non-Christian culture. These thoughts become beliefs which determine how we live. In our society we are taught, even subconsciously, to live by our emotions or desires rather than reason.

 

It can be scary to examine our behaviors and recognize that we may be living in a very self-centered way. This is the typical experience of so many of the young adults when they attend a conference or retreat. Coming out of the "fog" of the technology saturated culture, they are brought face to face with themselves. One can be quite overwhelmed by the whole experience. How can I ever overcome these habits? I am not strong enough to overcome these things and "swim against the tide" of the college culture.

 

This legitimate fear which must be faced. Many of the conferences speakers gave these courageous young men and women a road map based on 2 thousand years of faith and tradition.

 

The first thing is to grow in self-knowledge through prayer and study. We can learn so much from the long tradition of the Church. Saints such as John Paul II have given us a deep understanding of the dignity of the human person created in the Image of God.


This is particularly important in the area of sexuality. In opposition to common thought, our recognition of beauty and desire for intimacy is a profound call to holiness. As Jason Evert says, "what we experience as lust is meant to lead us to seek true beauty." We must know our desires which lead to sin, but see them as a call to something greater.

 

Once we come to understand ourselves we are called to respond to God's grace which leads us to freedom. Bad habits or vices are only overcome by growing in and supporting good habits or virtues. Any of the 7 traditional virtues can help a person, but some specific ones were emphasized at the conference. Dr. Reyes encouraged the young men to foster perseverance in even the small things. As the habit grows, they will find it easier to make commitments and be men of their word. Secondly, the college man can pray for and work toward magnanimity or greatness of heart. Dr Reyes encouraged them to "do great things...do hard things". Men should face their fears particularly as they strive for authentic masculinity.

 

All of these efforts are based on Judeo-Christian world-view which presumes the existence of objective truth. God is Truth and has placed the desire for this within our hearts. We need not be governed by our emotions; tossed from one thing to another with no hope. The human person is called to holiness by using their mind, heart and soul to become all that they were created to be or holy.


Time and again during the conference, we were reminded of our call to greatness. This is best summed up by Curtis Martin who quoted St Catharine of Siena. This courageous 14th century Saint may be best known for her quote, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire". With these words over 9 thousand college students were sent out to live the abundant life (Jn. 10:10); the freedom promised by the Savior. To be no longer be ruled by their emotions, but instead to order these toward what is true, beautiful, and good.

 

May God be with them as they go forth set free and aflame with God's love! Let us pray for each of these students that they may persevere in the commitments they have made to life for Christ.

 

http://www.seek2015.com/

 

http://www.focus.org/

 

http://www.jasonevert.com/

 

 

 

 

 


From One Deacon to Another

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

 


Once again I headed off to the bustling metropolis of LeRoy, NY, home of Jello and the Jello Museum. On November 6, Brother Dan became Deacon Dan. Now we are members of the Diaconate Clergy, but soon he will proclaim the final vows of priesthood.


After my traveling companions, Bev Battista and Paul O’Neill joined me in buying out the bread store at the Trappist Monastery at the Abbey of the Genesee, we arrived in time to be guest at a wonderful banquet planned for Deacon Dan by the parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Parish. The turn-out showed the great admiration the parish has for Deacon Dan. Love and joy were present as many people hugged him and displayed a sense that they were in the presence of a happy and holy man.


Just think, in the late 90’s he was one of my students in Honors World History at Mayfield High School. Later he became a convert and subsequently applied to the Mercedarians to become a priest.


The Mass and Ordination were very special as the Associate Bishop from Buffalo presided over a spiritual celebration of brotherhood with the clergy present and a large number of parishioners, some from our parish, and many from Philadelphia


I was honored to serve as the Deacon at the Mass, and I was given the very special honor of helping the then Brother Dan into his stole and Dalmatic. I was the first to congratulate him as a fellow Deacon. What an inspiration he has been to me in my spiritual journey.



Being present at the altar and watching him take his vows reassured me of the presence of the Holy Spirit at that moment. The beauty of the Litany of Saints sung by the choir and the powerful words expressed by the Bishop moved Deacon Dan and me emotionally.

I am so proud of him. We all should be for it is within our parish that he stepped forward, gave all of his possessions away, and followed the voice of Our Lord. In our own small way, we, through our prayers, helped him to discern his vocation and follow through on it. We all should be proud. As we left the Church, I turned to Deacon Dan and asked for his first blessing. This caught him off guard at first, but after I explained to him one of his new gifts, he formally blessed me, and we laughed and we hugged. And thought: Isn’t this what life is all about?


http://www.sacredheartofjesusparish.org/bulletins/14-0885-52br-14.pdf

 


Ordained to the Service of Christ

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It was a cold rainy day in Western New York. Certainly, not a day to delight in, much less to travel. Despite these unfavorable conditions Mercedarian friars, sisters, and third order traveled for miles to witness one of our own ordained to the Transitional Diaconate. Br. Daniel Bowen, O. de M. had been preparing himself for many years to receive this most precious Sacrament.

 

That evening in the church of Our Lady of Mercy, our brother was called by the Church to be conformed to the service of Christ. After the Gospel, Deacon David stated "Let Br. Daniel Andrew Bowen, O. de M. who is to be ordained deacon please come forward." These simple words were the culmination of many years of formation. The Church was indeed calling Br. Daniel.

 

In a beautiful homily, Bishop Edward Grosz summed up to honor to be bestowed saying, "He will make himself a servant to all. As a minister of the altar he will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord's body and blood to the community of believers. It will also be his duty...to bring God's word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial."

 

As the Mass continued, Br Daniel affirmed his own free decision to commit his life to the service of Christ. Then, in a profoundly symbolic gesture, the future deacon lay prostrate in front of  the bishop and the community of believers. Together as one, we united our voices in a litany evoking the intercession of all the Angels and Saints for our chosen brother. 

 

Invigorated with the approval of the Church and the intercession of the Heavenly Host, the candidate was called forth to receive the "indelible mark" upon his soul. Kneeling before at the foot of the sanctuary, the bishop laid his hands upon Br. Daniel's head. This simple gesture constituted the "matter" of the Sacrament. Then, standing, the bishop stretched out his hands over candidate using the ritual prayer of ordination. This prayer constituted the "form" of the Sacrament.

 

And just like that..the Church had a new deacon. Deacon Daniel was invested in the stole and dalmatic by Deacon David. Immediately, the newly ordained began his service by preparing the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

 

On a rainy cold day up north, the Holy Spirit warmed the hearts of us all. We have a new Deacon. Jesus tells us in Mt 20:28 that he, "...did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Every deacon is ordained to follow in Christ service.

 

Congratulations Deacon Daniel Bowen, O. de M. ! May the Lord be your strength and you serve his flock!

 

Diaconate USCCB

Wikipedia Deacon

Br Daniel's Solemn Vows



 

 

 

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 Częstochowa.

 

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

 

 

 


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