Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

My Life for Your Freedom

The Latest from the Order

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

Sharing in the Spiritual Treasury of the Order

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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

 

Patron of Expectant Mothers and Families: St. Raymond Nonnatus

Father Scottston Brentwood - Thursday, May 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 www.MercySacramentals.org

World Meeting on Families Philadelphia

More on St Raymond

 

An Easter Reflection on the Gift of Freedom

Father Scottston Brentwood - Thursday, May 01, 2014

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Happy Feast of St Peter Nolasco! May 6th

 Third Sunday of Easter

Declaration on religious freedom

Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation 

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

Father Scottston Brentwood - Saturday, April 19, 2014

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


Maintain the Entire Spirit of the Gospel

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

 

Reverend Father Master General,

Dearest Brothers,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Persevere in the Task

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Date set for Canonization 

 

Blessed John Paul II Bio

 

Generalate Website 


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