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.

A Prophetic Prayer for Marriage and Family

Father Scottston Brentwood - Monday, April 27, 2015

 

On March 4th, 2015 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. Fr Matthew Phelan, O. de M. gave a reflection on Marriage and Family based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer (composed circa 1941). Our Lady of Lourdes parish is staffed by the Order of BVM of Mercy or the Mercedarian Friars. Each Wednesday during the Lenten Season the parish sponsors "Soup and Salvation". Parishioners prepare a particular soup and a reflection is given on a specific topic. In preparation for the World Meeting of Families, this year’s theme is marriage and family. Fr Matthew entire reflection can be seen on the Order's youtube account: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0GBtVQLQkc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT9cdVlPgr4



 St Raymond Nonnatus

Patron of expectant mothers, pre-born babies, Christian families, and those falsely accused

 

Prayer for Christian Families
Lord, Father Almighty! The family is the most ancient institution of humanity, for it is as old as man himself. But because it is Thine own institution and the only means by which man can come into this world and develop to the greatest perfection, therefore the forces of evil are assaulting it, causing men to despise this basic unit of Christian civilization. In suicidal fury they seek to deal it a mortal blow. Let them not succeed, Lord, in their destructive designs on the Christian family.
Through the intercession of the glorious St. Raymond Nonnatus, pleader in heaven for the happiness, welfare, and peace of Christian families, we beg Thee to hear our prayers. By the merit of this great saint, our patron, grant that our homes may ever be modeled after the Holy Family of Nazareth. Let not the enemies of Christian family life triumph in their sacrilegious attacks, but rather convert them to the truth for the glory of Thy holy name. Amen. 

http://orderofmercy.businesscatalyst.com/thelatestfromtheorder/patron-of-expectant-mothers-and-families-st-raymond-nonnatus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgBzOcFePyE

Reflection in Preparation for the World Meeting of Families

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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


 

 

 

Mercedarian friar interviewed on international Catholic radio station

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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.

 

 

Family Fun Day

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 


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