Blessed John Paul II Encouraged the Mercedarians in their Redemptive Charism

Wherever Modern Man Is Held Prisoner

On May 23, 1980, the Holy Father received the twenty-six members of the ordinary general chapter of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Ransom, led by the Master General, Fr. Domenico Acquaro, O. de M. and by the Procurator General, Fr Bernardo Arrieta, O. de M.

Blessed John Paul II delivered the following address.

Blessed John Paul II
Blessed John Paul II

Beloved Brothers of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom,

With deep joy I share with you these moments of intimacy, at an informal meeting which, I trust, will serve to draw even closer the ties of affectionate communion between your institute and the Pope.

I know that you are gathered in Rome for the general chapter, to which all the religious of the Order, engaged in apostolic work in nineteen countries of different continents, are looking with such hope.

I thank you for your visit, with which you desire to manifest to me your feelings of faithful adherence to the Magisterium of the Church. I wish to take the opportunity to confirm my deep esteem for you ancient and well-deserving Order, which of for over seven and a half centuries has been doing everything in its power for the most afflicted and oppressed members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

The mission that your founder, St. Peter Nolasco, entrusted to you, in the direct work of ransom and help the prisoners, and by which all his apostolic activity in parishes, hospitals for the poor, teaching and missions was imbued, is prolonged today in a charism of service to the Faith, to project a ray of hope and to offer the assistance of Christ’s charity to all of those who find themselves subjected to new forms of captivity in our society: in prisons, in suburbs of poverty and hunger, among those addicted to drugs, in areas of materialism in which the Church is persecuted or reduced to silence, etc.

It is a vast field in which your religious spirit and the total availability opened up by the generous practice of the evangelical counsels and the profession of your fourth vow has to dedicate itself unreservedly. That will be the way to be faithful to your charism today, along the lines laid down by St. Peter Nolasco and already contained in the original constitutions of 1272.

Our Lady of Mercy
Our Lady of Mercy

There is no doubt that your vocation calls you to a demanding ecclesial commitment. In order to keep this dedication alive, you must be souls of deep interior life and renew your strength in contact with the Model of all perfection: Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd and Savior. Therefore, I repeat to you: “Your houses must be above all centers of prayer, meditation and dialogue—individual and communitarian—with Him who is and must be the first and principal interlocutor in the laborious succession of the hours of every day” (Address to Religious Superiors General, November 24, 1978). In this sublime school the religious will quench his thirst for God, which must be a characteristic of his life (cf. Ps. 63:1-2), and will be filled with that great love that gives a new meaning to his own existence (cf. Redemptor Hominis, no. 10).

Speaking to religious whose founder placed such importance on devotion to the Mother of God and ours, I cannot but exhort you to maintain and deepen this great Marian love which is a characteristic note of your Order. Take from the “Mother of mercy” and “Consolation of the afflicted” an example and inspiration at every moment. She will guide you to her Son and will teach you the value of every soul, on whom to lavish zealously the care of your ministry.

Encouraging you in your resolutions, I repeat to you my confidence; I pray for you and I impart my special blessing to each one of the members of your Order.

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