Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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

Practicing on the Works of Mercy

Father Scottston Brentwood - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


SEEKing Something More

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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/

 

 

 

 

 



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