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.

A Marriage Saved - A Mission Given

Father Scottston Brentwood - Monday, June 22, 2015

When Julie and Greg met it seemed to be the perfect match. They fell madly in love. Their temperaments and interests seemed to be perfect for one another. They complemented each other even from a spiritual perspective. Julie was raised in a traditional Catholic family which emphasized Mass attendance and proper behavior. Greg, on the other hand, was from a family which had converted to the Church. His family was not as devote as Julie’s family, but they were people of faith.

The early years of marriage were happy for the Alexander’s as they welcomed two babies into the new family. Greg was in the military and Julie stayed at home to take care of the children. The young family attended Mass each Sunday, because this was “the thing to do.”

 

With the happiness of those early years, who would have expected that dark clouds were beginning to form. Trouble really started when Greg left the military and got the dream job in Texas. The position offered a significant pay increase.

 

The Alexander’s were beginning to get a taste of the good life. They bought a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood. Greg put his heart and soul into work, while Julie made new friends in the neighborhood. Many of these women were successful career women bring in large salaries. While drinking wine they would all brag about their careers and positions of prominence. Julie felt left out. Compared to these other women her life as a homemaker seemed boring and insignificant.

 

Finally, Julie made the decision to go back to work. Her persuasiveness earned her a job at a local fitness club. It wasn’t long till Julie also began climbing up the economic ladder. Her dedication and talents earned her a promotion to a position many miles away from her family. Julie would only be spending a few days at home a week. In her mind, Julie rationalized the decision as the best for her career and the family’s income. However deep inside her, Julie felt empty and “spiritually divorced from her husband.” Work gave Julie the affirmation and meaning that she didn’t experience at home.


Then one day, the house that the Alexander’s had built on sand collapsed.Everything came to a head when Greg finally gathered the courage to say, “I am miserable”. At first Julie was taken back, but after reflection she realized that she too was miserable. She had been finding ways to avoid Greg and the problems that existed between them. The couple had been so busy making money and accumulating things that they rarely talked.

 

After a time of discernment, they decided to get a divorce, but lived in the same house while making preparations. Even with all their marital problems, the Alexander’s still faithfully attended Mass out a feeling of obligation. A new priest had come to the parish who was a gifted preacher. There was something about this man’s words that caught their attention. They actually “enjoyed” this priest’s homilies!

 

One Sunday the couple had the idea that they had to speak to this priest about their pending divorce. For both of them it was the 911 last chance that they would give God before making things final.

 

The meeting with the priest was an actual grace for the couple. They came to discover that this priest was a Canon Lawyer who worked for the diocesan marriage tribunal. Because of his position, he was not able to counsel couples.Instead, the priest gave the Alexander’s some “homework” to do in order to come to know God’s plan for marriage.


This simple step began a long journey towards an appreciation of the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. They studied the basis for the Sacrament found in Sacred Scripture. The couple began to read the wealth of wisdom found in the Church’s two thousand year teaching on marriage and family. After reading documents such as Familiaris Consortio (St. John Paul II). Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they were blown away by the beauty and richness of God’s plan for marriage.

 

Like St. Paul, Julie and Greg Alexander had wasted years of marriage serving themselves and dishonoring Christ’s Sacrament. Only as they began to study God’s plan for Matrimony, did they realize what a mess they had made of their marriage. Praying together they promised God that if He would somehow save their marriage they would give their lives helping other couples discover the beauty of the Sacrament.

 

The Lord answered this prayer which He had placed on the hearts of the Alexanders. Within a few years, they were both working full-time promoting the Covenant of Love marriage ministry in parishes. This ministry is based on empowering married couples in the parish to minister to others. It is a five year curriculum which assists couples in living God’s plan for marriage.

 

The mystery of the Cross is that God chose to take something evil and bring great good from it. When the Jesus knocked Julie and Greg off their horse (Acts 9:1-10),he did not condemn them for their many sins. Instead, Jesus used them and their broken marriage to bring light and healing to other couples. May married couples never despair of their woundedness, but rather allow the Divine Physician to heal and strengthen their love for each other! For with God there is always hope and all things are possible!

 

The Alexander House

 

Marriage 911

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.

 


Ordained to the Service of Christ

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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



 

 

 

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

Father Scottston Brentwood - 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

 

 


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