St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron of families, pray for us!

Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M. has been the Order’s novice master for over 35 years. He imparts a little of his “pearls” of knowledge to us about St. Raymond Nonnatus.

SSt.-Raymond-statue-in-LeRoy-NYat., Aug. 31, 2013
Feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus

Just a little thought for today’s feast.

How wonderful that we bring the statue of Saint Raymond Nonnatus to our parish of Our Lady of Mercy. And I think it is so important for us to realize a few facts about him.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus is the patron for life, for expectant mothers, and for families.

He was one of the original companions of Saint Peter Nolasco in the early 1200s. He was chosen as a priest and as a ransomer for the Christian captives. Now it is important for us to realize that in the General Chapter, when they chose him, it was because of three factors: he could speak to Moslems, he was very holy, and he was heroic in that he would die for the faith. So, he was chosen.

And as we know, Saint Raymond did go on campaign for the Christian captives – to save them. And while he was there he suffered for the faith – for the truth. And the Pope, because of his great heroic sanctity, made him a cardinal.

Patron for families

Now it is important for us to know that Saint Raymond is not only the patron for life, and for expectant mothers, but also for families. How we need a patron for families! And we need this intercessor because we all must realize, we must know that in our families there are trials, difficulties, crosses and disappointments. Saint Raymond wants to be an advocate for us.

Fr Eugene
Fr Eugene

I would like to share with you something about this statue. Notice that he has the palm of martyrdom – Saint Raymond did not suffer death, but he suffered for the truth, and proclaiming that truth. There are three crowns on the top of that palm of martyrdom.

The first crown was that he was confessor to the truth. He proclaimed the truth, he lived the truth, he suffered for the truth and the papacy gave him the office of cardinal because of that. Saint Raymond’s statue is on the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The second crown is that he was truly a saint, very holy, for he loved the faith. He is shown always with the monstrance because of his true sanctity and his purity which he kept all his life.

Prayer: The Soul of the Consecrated Life

The Religious Life is a life of prayer. The liturgy of the hours is an essential practice that gives life to our consecration. Here one Mercedarian Friar reflects on prayer and the nourishment that it gives to his religious life.

The Eucharist, the source and Summit of our life.

1) What attracted you to Religious Life? 

Looking back I would have to say that what attracted me to Religious Life was three things: 1) To be more closely united to Jesus through the Vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, 2) To live a stable and structured life revolving around prayer and service, and 3) To live common life with other brothers united in the Lord.  It is still these three things that keep me enthusiastic about Religious Life.

2) Describe a typical day as a religious?

A typical day always begins with the praises of the Lord in Morning Prayer and Holy Mass.  After Morning Prayer there is the various responsibilities and service of the Community and the Apostolate that need to be attended to.  The community comes together at various times of the day for meals, recreation, Meditation, Rosary, and the other Hours of the Divine Office.

3) Why is prayer important to you? Was prayer always an important part of your life? 

Prayer is an important part of my life because prayer is the way that God relates to me and I relate to God.  Prayer keeps me in union with God and gives me the strength and light to do His will.  Prayer was always an important part of my life in grade school and High School.  Even though it was important to me in college I did not devote as much time to it as I should have.  Because of this I was slow to hear the “Call” of God.

4) What role does the Liturgy of the Hours play in your prayer Life?  Why is it so important to you? 

I love the Liturgy of the Hours.  It is not only a responsibility given to us by the Church to sing the praises of God throughout the day and to pray for the needs of the Church but it is a joy and an honor!  The Liturgy of the Hours keeps me united to God throughout the day.

5) How does the Liturgy of the Hours nourish or sustain you?

At times in our spiritual lives we simply don’t have the words to express to God what we want about what is going on in our lives.  The Liturgy of the Hours always seem to be able to express at any given time what I want to share with God.

6) What challenges do you face in praying the Liturgy of the Hours?  How do you meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge would be to be faithful to those Hours that are not prayed in Community. I need to make sure that a busy schedule does not keep me from those Hours.  To do that you always need to pencil in space for God in a busy schedule.

7) In what other ways do you pray? 

My favorite forms of prayer are silent Adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, reading Sacred Scripture, reciting the Rosary on my own, and walking in the beauty of nature.

8)Is there anything else about religious life or prayer that you would like to share with us? 

Religious Life is a wonderful life, very fulfilling. Prayer is the very soul of that life.


Novena to St Peter Nolasco begins April 27th

The Mercedarian Friars are preparing to celebrate the Solemnity of their founder, St Peter Nolasco, on May 6th.

St Peter Nolasco was born around 1180 of middle class parents.As a young man, he worked as a merchant buying and selling in Muslim occupied lands of Spain. The course of Peter’s young life changed radically when he came in contact with Christian Captives. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Peter felt this same intense compassion for the Christians deprived of liberty in Muslim lands. The greatest danger that he saw with the situation was that these Christians were losing their faith and apostatizing in large numbers.  This is what struck Peter so intensely. He knew that the Catholic faith was “the pearl of great price (Mt 13:46)”. To abandon one’s faith meant to reject the salvation that Jesus won for us by His passion, death, and resurrection. Peter saw this as the worst injustice of his time period. Something had to be done!!  Using the qualities he learned in business, Peter went about ransoming the Christian Captives. Others followed him in his mission of collecting alms and buying back Christians from Captivity.

In early August 1218, Peter had an amazing occurrence. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and instructed him to found an Order dedicated to the great work of ransoming Christian Captives in danger of losing their faith. Peter was given the “white habit of Mary”. After getting the approval of the King of Spain, Peter formally founded the Order of the BVM of Mercy on August 10, 1218. In his great humility, he pointed to Mary as foundress and the inspiration of this great work.

These men called Mercedarians take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and redemption. The 4th vow of redemption characterizes their whole life: to be willing if it is necessary to offer their lives in exchange for Christians in danger of losing their faith. It is because of this vow that the white habit of Mary has so often been stained red with the blood of those making the ultimate sacrifice.

Mercedarians hold in great veneration, St Peter Nolasco, as the co-founder of the Order. He responded to the inspiration of Jesus given through Our Lady of Mercy. Because of his radical response, the Order lives on today throughout the world continuing Christ’s redeeming work at all costs. Let us join together in praying to our founder that we all will be faithful to Christ’s call to radical love of neighbor.

O God,

you clothed our Father, Saint Peter Nolasco,

with the love of Christ;

and through the Blessed Virgin Mary

you made him a messenger of love and liberty

for Christians held in captivity.

Help us to imitate him

by working for the redemption of all the oppressed

and for the building up of your Church.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


UNITED STATES — Today the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (or Ransom) celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mercy. The title “Mercy” for our Lady had its origin from the Order of Mercy which was so called for its ministry—the redemption of slaves. During the Middle Ages this ministry was known as the work of mercy. The Order has always attributed to Mary a special participation in its foundation. For this reason the Order has always honored her with particular devotion since its beginning and in accordance with its Founder, Saint Peter Nolasco, who in 1249, dedicated a church to her. In 1600, permission was granted to celebrate on the feast of the Nativity of Mary a special liturgy dedicated to Mary under the title of “Mercy.” In 1696, the feast was extended to the whole Church.

A happy and holy feast day to all!