St. Raymond Nonnatus redeemer of captives and miracle worker

St. Raymond Nonnatus is one of the most beloved saints for Christian families. He was born in the early 13th century. Raymond was nonnatus or “not born” since he was taken out of his dead mothers womb by his uncle. His miraculous life continued as he enter the Order of Mercy and became a heroic redeemer of Captives. Here is his story:

ST. RAYMOND REDEEMS THE CAPTIVES.

Patron of families

One of the most illustrious Saints of the Order of Mercy for the redemption of captives was St. Raymond Nonnatus.

His Superiors chose him to go to Africa, to pursue in the midst of the barbarians of that country the pious purposes for which the Order had been divinely instituted. This mission filled him with great joy.

On reaching Africa he took up his abode in Algeria a place to which the pirate ships conveyed the Christian prisoners whom they had captured on the high seas, and where they were exposed and sold as slaves in the market-places, or awaited the ransom demanded for their deliverance.

The number of these captives was so great at the time of the Saints arrival that he had not sufficient money to redeem them all. But as his charity for these unfortunate people embraced them all with out exception, he resolved to deliver them all from their terrible bondage. To accomplish this, having purchased as many as his limited resources permitted, and having agreed concerning the amount of ransom demanded for the rest, he procured their liberation, offering himself as a hostage till such time as the money required would be sent.

The Saint was then loaded with chains ; but he thanked God from his inmost heart for having given him this opportunity of suffering something for the love of Him Who had died on the Cross to redeem the whole world.

It would be impossible to describe the cruelty of these barbarians towards him, or the sufferings they caused him to endure during the time of his captivity. They were so great that the Cadi or Judge of the place, fearing that he would die under them, and that thus he would forfeit the money he hoped to receive, gave command by sound of trumpet to all concerned that the hostage was not to be further molested, and that if he should die on account of the treatment he received at their hands, he would hold them responsible for his death, and that they themselves would have to pay the ransom agreed upon for his deliverance.

120Raymond availed himself of this opportunity to perform heroic works of charity among the Christian captives who arrived day after day, and were subjected to the most unheard-of cruelty. He would visit them in their dungeons and console them, and encourage and confirm them in their faith. He extended his charity even to the infidels, instructing them when opportunity offered in the truths of the Catholic Religion. Many, even amongst the most obstinate, embraced Christianity, and among them two Moors of high rank, who received the Sacrament of Baptism at his hands.

These good works of St. Raymond could not long remain concealed. The Pasha, named Setim, was informed of them, and, being filled with anger, ordered him to be cruelly beaten with rods.

This sentence was carried out with excessive severity, but it was far from restraining the zeal of the holy apostle. He continued to instruct those who manifested any desire to learn the truths of the Christian Faith, and to console and strengthen in their torments those among the Christians whom he perceived to waver in their resolution, or whom the hardship of their condition placed in the danger of renouncing their Faith.

A padlock was placed on St Raymond's lips.

When the Pasha heard of this further despising of his commands, lie ordered him to be scourged in all the streets of the city ; then he pierced his lips with a hot iron rod, and joined them together with a padlock, the key of which was entrusted to the care of the Cadi, who only allowed it to leave his hands when it was necessary to give his prisoner food. He also ordered him to be thrown into one of the deepest dungeons and loaded with chains.

In this sad condition the holy man could not open his mouth to publish the praises of God, but it did not hinder him from opening his heart to speak to Him the language of love by prayers, desires, and holy thoughts. One day as his mind was occupied in pious contemplation, he fell into an ecstasy. His gaolers coming to give him some food, found him in this state prostrate on the ground, his head being supported by his right hand, while the fingers of the left were lying on a book open at his side, and were touching the following verse of Psalm cviii. :“O Lord my God, take not the word of truth from my mouth.” Seeing this, they were astonished, but this astonishment became greater when they heard him utter, with his lips still closed, another verse of the Psalmist : “Thy word, O God, endureth forever.”

The Moors attributed this to enchantment, and to make him cease speaking they beat him with rods and struck him with their feet, then left him with his lips still fastened, without giving him anything to eat.

St. Raymond lived for eight months in the midst of this cruel treatment, which he bore with unparalleled constancy. At the end of that time the religious of his Order arrived with the money that had been fixed upon for his release. The Cadi, who was a man of great avarice, was not satisfied with the amount they had brought, and desired still to retain him. The man of God himself, inflamed with charity for his neighbour, would willingly have remained to console his dear captives in their afflictions, but his brethren succeeded in obtaining his

release, and he returned with them.

St Raymond’s Feast is August 31st. He is the Patron of expected mothers, pre-born babies Christian families and those falsely accused.

The catechism in examples (1908)

A saint that helps the infertile.
Author: Chisholm, D
Volume: 5
Subject: Vol. 5
Publisher: London : Burns Oates & Washbourne ltd
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: English
Call number: AKD-5986
Digitizing sponsor: MSN
Book contributor: Regis – University of Toronto
Collection: regislibrarytoronto

Problems with infertility go to St Raymond Nonnatus!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_infertility

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=314

 

 

Groups such as Life Teen are challenging our generation to radical generosity with God

Today’s world is filled with so many examples of infidelity. This is especially the case in marriage. The news outlets are constantly occupied with juicy stories of politicians, sports figures, and celebrities who are unfaithful to their vows and promises. The priesthood and the consecrated life is not faring much better. It is no wonder that many young people struggle to make life long commitments. The statistics and their real life experiences show that this is impossible or not worth it.

301550_10151606535662034_655092057_nWe are certainly in trying times, but as St Paul says, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).” With the eyes of faith we can notice signs of the New Springtime of the Church.  One of these signs is the work of Life Teen a lay missionary movement in the Church which focuses on evangelizing and strengthening the faith of today’s youth.

This summer Fr Ken and I had the opportunity to spend time at one of Life Teen’s missions, the Edge camp in Hiawassee, Georgia. This camp offers middle school students from Life Teen parishes the chance to have an experience of their faith which is steeped in the Sacraments, Scripture, and Church teaching, yet also really fun. The theme for this year’s camps was Fearless with the symbolism of climbing the mountain of faith.

Hiawassee Missionaries
Hiawassee Missionaries

What was most impressive to us as Religious friars about the Life Teen movement is the fearless commitment that its members are freely giving to be missionaries. These young adults, often in their 20’s, are offered the opportunity to become true missionaries for a few weeks, a summer, or even for several years. This commitment to living all the radicalness of a missionary is freely offered and must be freely accepted.

When reflecting on this “movement of the Spirit”, one is drawn to thank God and the missionaries for their sign of fidelity to something greater. In fact, this is what Pope Francis did July 28th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in an encounter with the volunteers at World Youth Day (another instrument of the Holy Spirit today). Pope Francis stated that “I could not return to Rome” without having thanked all the volunteers for their “countless” acts of loving service to the pilgrims in Rio. Fr Ken and I felt a similar gratitude for the dedication and countless hours of work and prayer which we experienced in the missionaries at Camp Hiawassee. What better words than the Pope’s to express the youthful enthusiasm shown in the service of the Gospel:

“With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you’ve shown it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Their example, he said, was in the model of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord. “Every one of you,” he said, “was a means … to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples, to prepare the way so that all might meet, know, and love the Lord.”

Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth
Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth

The Pope recognized in the commitments and service made at World Youth Day an opportunity to learn the virtues which promote fidelity to the higher calling of marriage, priesthood, and consecrated life. Francis challenged the volunteers to even greater generosity:

“God calls you to make definite choices … to respond to your vocation is to move towards personal fulfillment.” “God calls each of us to be holy … but he has a particular path for each of us.” Some, he said, “through family life in the sacrament of marriage.” He noted that many consider marriage “out of fashion,” and added that “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many (say) it is not worth making a life-long commitment, a definitive decision, forever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”

“I ask you instead to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel! To rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary, and ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, of true love.”

He re-iterated, “have courage to swim against the tide, to be happy.”

How ironic that we find God and personal fulfillment only when we are able to give ourselves as a sincere gift to another or to all in consecration (Gaudium et Spes, 24)? Yet this has always been the truth, but it is today a revolutionary act. We need rebels who will step out in faith and make lifelong commitments trusting God’s grace. The culture has taught us to doubt. To doubt that God is faithful once and for all time. To doubt the grace of our baptism which calls to that same fidelity in our lives. Certainly fidelity is not intended to be easy, but it is the path which the Lord gives each individual to holiness.

Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.
Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.

Groups such as Life Teen International are signs that the Holy Spirit is at work giving young adults the tools that they need to make lifetime commitments. This is a process and God’s ways are mysterious. Yet, the witness of young adults giving one or more years of their lives to live as true missionaries is a huge step in trust in God and courage. After making this step, the individual missionary is fitted with all the necessary training and support to live the commitment. They learn the essentials of the faith and the Church’s teachings on mission. The missionaries study the life teen mission statutes and make certain promises to support Catholic community living. However, the most important support that they receive is from a prayerful Catholic community. The Life Teen community prays the liturgy of the hours in common each day. They also have Eucharistic Adoration with meditation and sharing on the Scriptures.

It is easy to see how this missionary apostolic movement is truly forming its members to live their baptismal call to holiness. Those who take part in the mission, whether through summer staff or service staff or full-time missionaries, are begin prepared to be those “revolutionaries” who can be witness of fidelity to their vocations in the world. Some will become married people who will raise children for the kingdom of God. Others will be ordained priest who will stand in the place of Christ in parishes throughout the world. Still others will feel a call to the even more radical life of the evangelical counsels, becoming witnesses of the life to come.

Whatever the call, we thank God for raising up movements such as Life Teen, which are preparing the soil for the New Springtime of the Church. Teaching the youth about the God who is always faithful. Then giving them the tools to step out and make lifetime commitments. To live our call to imitate God in His faithfulness and in the process truly find ourselves through our vocation.

                                                                                                                                       Fr Joseph Eddy and Fr Ken Breen,

                                                                                                                                        Order of Mercy www.orderofmercy.org

 http://lifeteen.com/

Youtube Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQuNIKnJoCQ&feature=share

 

Groups such as Life Teen are challenging our generation to radical generosity with God

Today’s world is filled with so many examples of infidelity. This is especially the case in marriage. The news outlets are constantly occupied with juicy stories of politicians, sports figures, and celebrities who are unfaithful to their vows and promises. The priesthood and the consecrated life is not faring much better. It is no wonder that many young people struggle to make life long commitments. The statistics and their real life experiences show that this is impossible or not worth it.
301550_10151606535662034_655092057_nWe are certainly in trying times, but as St Paul says, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).” With the eyes of faith we can notice signs of the New Springtime of the Church. One of these signs is the work of Life Teen a lay missionary movement in the Church which focuses on evangelizing and strengthening the faith of today’s youth.
This summer Fr Ken and I had the opportunity to spend time at one of Life Teen’s missions, the Edge camp in Hiawassee, Georgia. This camp offers middle school students from Life Teen parishes the chance to have an experience of their faith which is steeped in the Sacraments, Scripture, and Church teaching, yet also really fun. The theme for this year’s camps was Fearless with the symbolism of climbing the mountain of faith.
Hiawassee Missionaries
Hiawassee Missionaries
What was most impressive to us as Religious friars about the Life Teen movement is the fearless commitment that its members are freely giving to be missionaries. These young adults, often in their 20’s, are offered the opportunity to become true missionaries for a few weeks, a summer, or even for several years. This commitment to living all the radicalness of a missionary is freely offered and must be freely accepted.
When reflecting on this “movement of the Spirit”, one is drawn to thank God and the missionaries for their sign of fidelity to something greater. In fact, this is what Pope Francis did July 28th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in an encounter with the volunteers at World Youth Day (another instrument of the Holy Spirit today). Pope Francis stated that “I could not return to Rome” without having thanked all the volunteers for their “countless” acts of loving service to the pilgrims in Rio. Fr Ken and I felt a similar gratitude for the dedication and countless hours of work and prayer which we experienced in the missionaries at Camp Hiawassee. What better words than the Pope’s to express the youthful enthusiasm shown in the service of the Gospel:
“With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you’ve shown it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Their example, he said, was in the model of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord. “Every one of you,” he said, “was a means … to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples, to prepare the way so that all might meet, know, and love the Lord.”
Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth
Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth
The Pope recognized in the commitments and service made at World Youth Day an opportunity to learn the virtues which promote fidelity to the higher calling of marriage, priesthood, and consecrated life. Francis challenged the volunteers to even greater generosity:
“God calls you to make definite choices … to respond to your vocation is to move towards personal fulfillment.” “God calls each of us to be holy … but he has a particular path for each of us.” Some, he said, “through family life in the sacrament of marriage.” He noted that many consider marriage “out of fashion,” and added that “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many (say) it is not worth making a life-long commitment, a definitive decision, forever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
“I ask you instead to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel! To rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary, and ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, of true love.”
He re-iterated, “have courage to swim against the tide, to be happy.”
How ironic that we find God and personal fulfillment only when we are able to give ourselves as a sincere gift to another or to all in consecration (Gaudium et Spes, 24)? Yet this has always been the truth, but it is today a revolutionary act. We need rebels who will step out in faith and make lifelong commitments trusting God’s grace. The culture has taught us to doubt. To doubt that God is faithful once and for all time. To doubt the grace of our baptism which calls to that same fidelity in our lives. Certainly fidelity is not intended to be easy, but it is the path which the Lord gives each individual to holiness.
Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.
Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.
Groups such as Life Teen International are signs that the Holy Spirit is at work giving young adults the tools that they need to make lifetime commitments. This is a process and God’s ways are mysterious. Yet, the witness of young adults giving one or more years of their lives to live as true missionaries is a huge step in trust in God and courage. After making this step, the individual missionary is fitted with all the necessary training and support to live the commitment. They learn the essentials of the faith and the Church’s teachings on mission. The missionaries study the life teen mission statutes and make certain promises to support Catholic community living. However, the most important support that they receive is from a prayerful Catholic community. The Life Teen community prays the liturgy of the hours in common each day. They also have Eucharistic Adoration with meditation and sharing on the Scriptures.
It is easy to see how this missionary apostolic movement is truly forming its members to live their baptismal call to holiness. Those who take part in the mission, whether through summer staff or service staff or full-time missionaries, are begin prepared to be those “revolutionaries” who can be witness of fidelity to their vocations in the world. Some will become married people who will raise children for the kingdom of God. Others will be ordained priest who will stand in the place of Christ in parishes throughout the world. Still others will feel a call to the even more radical life of the evangelical counsels, becoming witnesses of the life to come.
Whatever the call, we thank God for raising up movements such as Life Teen, which are preparing the soil for the New Springtime of the Church. Teaching the youth about the God who is always faithful. Then giving them the tools to step out and make lifetime commitments. To live our call to imitate God in His faithfulness and in the process truly find ourselves through our vocation.
Fr Joseph Eddy and Fr Ken Breen,
Order of Mercy www.orderofmercy.org
http://lifeteen.com/
Youtube Video:

From Agnostic to Friar on Fire with the Love of Jesus Christ!!!

Br. Daniel Bowen, O. de M. has been with the Order since entering as a postulant in August 2006. Recently, he completed his studies in Sacred Theology at St Charles Borromeo Seminary. Here is his inspiring vocation story:

Br. Daniel with his graduation class.
Br. Daniel with his graduation class.

Growing up I attended my mother’s Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was 13 I quit attending. My father approved since he himself did not practice a faith, he himself having an orthodox Jewish father who married a Methodist.

Throughout high school and university I debunked what little faith I had until I was unwittingly a secular humanist, going to God in prayer only when I was in trouble. I started dating a Catholic girl and went to mass and adoration with her. We broke up, yet something felt right about the Church and I entered RCIA in the fall of 1993.

Easter 1994 I was baptized, confirmed. Circa 1997 I fell away. Easter 2003 attended an Assembly of God Church and had a powerful experience of God. The summer 2003 attended a Teens Encounter Christ Catholic retreat and returned to the practicing the faith.

Br Daniel
Br Daniel

Around 2004, I started discerning a call to the priesthood and religious life. August 2006 quit my job, sold or gave away my possessions and entered the Order of Mercy as a postulant and began studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. May 2013 completed my MDiv and MA at Saint Charles and now am awaiting to profess solemn vows and ordination to the transitional diaconate, and God willing priestly ordination after that.I currently am a Director of Religious Education at a Mercedarian parish in Le Roy, NY.

God is good – all the time! 

Br Daniel Bowen, O. de M.

Mercedarian Priest’s Inner City Renewal Efforts Became a National Model

The energetic transformation of a gritty Cleveland near-west side neighborhood thirty years ago stands as a model for urban renewal today. Most of the credit for the decades-long effort — a truly Gospel-insired project — goes to Fr. Marino Frascati, a Mercedarian priest who emigrated from Italy.

Fr. Marino Frascati, O. de M.
Fr. Marino Frascati, O. de M. rescued others from the grip of poverty.

As pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Cleveland, Fr. Marino faced many challenges including the changing neighborhood around the parish. The result of his work included a large housing unit for the poor as well as vibrant new businesses which were encouraged to come into the area.

The soft-spoken optimist only persisted amidst obstaces, and often asked, “Why not?”

His many awards include congratulations from President Jimmy Carter, the Star of Italy from his homeland’s consulate and a Medal of Honor from Pope John Paul II.

The Mercedarian priest’s undertaker and longtime parishioner, Jim Craciun, called him a renaissance priest who inspired the rebirth of one of Cleveland’s important neighborhoods. The priest died in November 2009, but he is remembered today as true leader who put Gospel values to work for his fellow man.

Power Used for Good

Plain Dealer columnist James Neff once called the white-robed priest “the most popular and powerful man in the neighborhood.” Ray Pianka, Cleveland Housing Court judge, said, “He would never give up at City Hall or in the halls of Congress.”

The priest prophesied a neighborhood of condos and restaurants instead of noisy trains and idle factories. One of many skeptics called the area “the Coal Coast.” But the prophesy came true.

Fr. Marino was a founder, president and eventually president emeritus of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Pianka, the group’s long-time director, later the neighborhood’s councilman, said the priest helped the 1973 group become a national model, with breakthroughs such as the first federal urban development grant outside of a downtown.

Public and Private Investments

Villa Mercede, or “Town of Mercy”
Villa Mercede, or “Town of Mercy,” was built as an affordable residence for the poor, and was one of Father’s projects.

Overall, the group has raised about $100 million and spurred more than $1 billion in private investments.

Frascati formed other organizations at Mount Carmel, which added a few million dollars’ worth of more projects to the near West Side neighborhood. He led the construction of a seniors’ high rise called Villa Mercede for his order, The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. He created condos and houses through the Nolasco Housing Organization, named for the order’s founder, St. Peter Nolasco.

Father’s Journey to the Priesthood

Fr. Marino was born in Castel Viscardo, Italy and entered the Mercedarian Order at 14. In 1948, he began to study theology at a Franciscan seminary in Teutopolis, Ill. He was ordained as a priest in 1951.

He briefly worked at Our Lady of Mercy Monastery in Middleburg Heights, St. Rocco Church in Cleveland and other local sites. Then came 13 years as Mount Carmel’s associate pastor and 25 as pastor. Fr. Marino said a weekly Mass in Italian. He helped dry up controversial bars. He blessed new homes and an ice cream shop called Blessings. He served as dean of Holy Name Societies for the West Side.

Founded Youth Groups

He started many activities for youngsters. He founded and led a Boy Scout troop. He took children to the Alleghenies, the Great Smoky Mountains and more. Fr. Marino left Cleveland in 1995 to become his order’s vicar provincial in LeRoy, N.Y. Nine years later, he chose to return as Mount Carmel’s pastor emeritus.

The Mercedarian friar died November 1, 2009 at age 84 from heart disease at Regina Health Center, Richfield, his home in his later years.

“We remember Fr. Marino as a great example of a Mercedarian who gave his life to free those captive to marginalization and poverty,” noted Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., the Order’s vocation director.

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The Mercedarians attend REACH Philly and learn about the New Evangelization

The Friars recently attended REACH Philly, a prayer breakfast conference sponsored by FOCUS. Here are some of the highlights of the morning:

reach-philly-logoOne of the fastest growing youth movements in the Church is FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). This group was founded in 1998 in response to Blessed John Paul II’s call to a New Evangelization. This evangelization is now carried out in over 74 campuses throughout the United States by over 361 missionaries.

In an effort to “reach” out to the broader Church, FOCUS is sponsoring New Evangelization Prayer Breakfasts throughout the United States. The purpose of these events is to unite and equip Christ’s whole Body for the new evangelization. Here in Philadelphia the REACH Prayer Breakfast was held on Friday, May 10th. Clergy, religious, and parishioners from all over the Northeast met to listen to talks given by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F. M. Cap., George Weigel, Sr Joseph Andrews Bogdonawicz, and Brian Gail.

Over_six_thousand_young_people_pack_the_main_ballroom_for_the_SEEK_2013_conference_in_Orlando_FL_Credit_Jason_Siegel_for_FOCUS_CNA_US_Catholic_News_1_8_13The morning began with the Rosary followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. During his homily, Archbishop Chaput exhorted all to follow the example of St. Damien of Molokai who memorial we were celebrating. The Archbishop explained that Damien did not intend to go to the leper colony in Molokai, Hawaii. His brother, who was also a priest, had volunteered to go, but fell ill before departing. Damien volunteered to go in his place. This is often how God works in our lives; he opens doors for us, but we must have the courage to take chances so that Lord can do great things through us. Archbishop Chaput, also, went on to explain that we must be willing to preach the full Gospel and be at times ridiculed for it.

After Holy Mass, Brian Gail, author of the popular book Fatherless, as MC introduced everyone to the topic of the New Evangelization which is carried out by FOCUS on college campuses. These courageous young adults invite college students to a relationship with Jesus Christ, which can fill the void left by an increasingly secular culture. They do this mainly through bible studies which are meant to lead into deeper questions of life and it’s meaning.

Mr. Gail introduced Sr Joseph Andrews of the Dominicans Sisters of May Mother of the Eucharist who spoke to us of our responsibility to be generous with the Gospel message we have received. We must bring this to the world with “TLC or Truth, Love, and Courage”. Our culture which is sickened with the disease of relativism must be confronted with the truth about freedom. Sister explained that “Freedom is for the sake of truth”. And, “There is no freedom without truth”. Our new Holy Father, Francis, is showing us the way to confront the culture with love. To allow people to live without purpose in the name of tolerance is to lack love for them. For “truth sets us free to love…”. But loving others means that we may have to charitably challenge them, as Pope Francis says, “with courage and frankness.”

110430American Ca.aurora_standalone.prod_affiliate.79Sr Joseph Andrews was followed by the keynote speaker George Weigel a famous Catholic theologian, author, and spokesmen for the Church. Dr. Weigel presented the historical perspective behind the New Evangelization. The Church is now at the beginning of a new stage in Her history. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, She was, what Dr. Weigel calls, living “Counter-Reformation Catholicism”. This time spanned over 400 years. It was characterized by defense of the Church’s doctrine in response to criticism from Protestantism and Rationalism. This philosophy was effective in preserving the faith and evangelizing thousands in South America, Asia, and parts of Africa. However, it was not equipped for our contemporary culture which began to take shape in the 1960’s.

Vatican II accelerated the shift from the Church of the Counter Reformation to the Church of the New Evangelization. This new method of Church life is vastly different from the old model since it seeks to “engage” the culture rather than “solidify and protect one’s own beliefs”. Dr Weigel explained that the 2nd Vatican Council differed from previous Councils because it did not provide the Church with a “key” to interpret it’s documents. This is why there has been so much confusion over the past 40 years about what the council fathers really intended. However, Weigel says the Lord has provided His Church with the proper interpretation through the pontificates of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The last two pontificates have given the Church a solid interpretation of the 2nd Vatican council, which can be understood as “Communio of Discipleship in Mission” . Weigel, one of the foremost experts in the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, explained that the Jubilee Year of 2000 was all about the New Evangelization. The central event of this year was the Pope’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Here Blessed John Paul II symbolically carried the Church to the place where God had entered into human history.

Young Catholics Attend Youth Rally With Pope Benedict XVIThe Pope announced at the end of the second millennium of Christian History that the Church was to once again “put out into the deep” for a catch: “Duc in altum” (Lk 5:4). This, Dr Weigel, says completes the term of institutional protection and points to the need to go forth engaging a more hostile culture with the truth of the Gospel. Pope Benedict XVI, who was also at the 2nd Vatican council, further solidifies the council fathers intentions. During Benedict’s pontificate we are given a clearer understanding of the liturgical and catechetical aspects of our faith. We are taught by Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI that our faith is very rational and extremely relevant to our culture. In fact, the culture desperately needs the truth of the Gospel to prevent it from crumbling. The “air has become hostile to the Gospel” and even to objective truth.

Pope Francis’ pontificate is shaping out to be one of conversion and action. The Church is now in the period of the New Evangelization which requires the Catholic to be alert and on the offensive. Dr Weigel explained that “a kept Church has no future in the world in which we are living”. Christians must resist the temptation to hold onto our faith as private rather than living and missionary.

Mercedarian master with Pope FrancisIt is here, in these storms of the New Springtime, that the Lord has risen up groups such as FOCUS. How ironic that it begins with the youth? It began in 1950’s Poland with young Karol Wojtyla going as a University Chaplain “hanging” out with College Students. It continued as he, Pope John Paul II, went against all odds in 1993 to begin the World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. Now, it continues with FOCUS which takes the saving message of Jesus Christ to Universities throughout the United States. They have a simple method: prayer and share. The missionaries give up 2 years of their lives to go to a designated University. Here they begin to pray for their peers growing up in the Culture of Death. Then, they share the message of life with all who will listen.

As a religious, we the Mercedarian Friars, are blessed to know that so many young adults are generously sharing the message of the Gospel. We are inspired to REACH out to those around us with greater zeal. The New Evangelization is not just for religious and priests, nor is not just for young adults, this is the new model for our Church today and in the future. Let us not be left behind or caught up in obsolete models, but embrace the New Evangelization with our whole being!!

For more information: http://www.focus.org/

 

 

More from the Priestly Ordinations in India

One of our newly ordained Fr. Illuru Somuas, O. de M., from Andhra Pradesh, India composed this article for the US Vicariate:

Priestly ordination -2013 

IMG_0090

The First ordination to priesthood was done in St.Jude’s church, chinnathura (Trivandrum diocese) on April 8th, 2013. The other was in Our Lady of Fathima church, Badvel (Kadapa diocese, Andhra Pradesh). Both ceremonies have gone well. Soosa Packiam, the arch-bishop of Trivandrum was present and delivered a very good inspiring homily on our ordination day. Some of our fathers and brothers were there with blissful presence and angelic smiles. Good number of faithful and the well wishers whom we know came there and cherished us. Big thanks to all of them .

The Second ordination was on 13th April, 2013. Three of the brothers were ordained by Rt. Rev.Dr. M.D.Prakasham, the bishop of Nellore diocese. He delivered a very good inspiring homily which was really helpful for our priestly ministry. The first Masses of the three brothers had gone smoothly. Thanks to all the parish priests and assistants and sisters and well wishers who have really come to our places of Ordination and prayed for us to the Almighty and cherished us. All thanks to God for Redemption and our Vocation and to our parents for our birth, upbringing and encouragement.

IMG_0081                                            Fr. Illuru Somudas, O. de M.

Andhra Pradesh

 

The Order’s mission in India continues to grow as 6 more are ordained.

Fr Ken Breen, the Vicar of the United States, traveled to India after Easter to attend the Ordination of six Indian friars. Here he shares with us the joyful experience of those days:

IMG_0071This year, 2013, we had six of our Mercedarian religious ordained to the priesthood in India. They were ordained in two separate celebrations. One in the south of India for the three from that area called Chinneturai.  The other three were ordained in their home town district area called Kadapa in the South western state called Andhra Pradesh.  I arrived from USA on the day of the Ordination itself, April 8th at 3:30 am in the airport closest to the town of their Ordination and was so happy to see the bus load of my community coming for the celebration were already there awaiting my arrival!  The city of the airport is called Trivandrum. It was about an hour and a half from Chinneturai where the first Ordination of the three took place.  There was also one of our Mercedarian religious who was ordained to the Diaconate in the very same celebration. All the Ordinations begin with an elaborate prayer song where grade school girls lead the procession with a very reverent and spiritual form of dance.  In this Ordination celebration, the Bishop also sung many of the prayers and parts of the Ritual and Holy Mass. It was deeply profound and beautiful. We were delighted to stand with the Bishop and members of our family for a remembrance photo at the end of the Mass.

We spent a couple days in the area before going for the next Ordination.  Mainly it was to participate in the First Mass celebrations of these three newly ordained. Two Masses were done on the day after the Ordination, one in the church of Ordination in the morning and then the other one in the evening in the nearby church in the town called Poothurai.  Then there was the third one celebrated the following day in a town about an hour away called Poonthurai. The next day we all boarded the train to go to the next town called Kadapa for the next set of Ordinations.  In both places it was very hot, but what made it more difficult in the first place was the many times we were without electricity so you can imagine the burden of the 95F heat without a fan. Thankfully it was still cool enough at night to sleep.

IMG_0100The second group of three to be Ordained had their Ordination in a their hometown called Badvel which is in this Kadapa District.  The ordaining prelate has been a personal close friend and inspiration for our community and was in fact the one who encouraged us to take up the administration of the home in that area for the drop-out school children called Jeevadhara. Their Ordination was also a very beautiful and profound celebration as Bishop Prakasam encouraged us all the live up to our charism to release the captive and proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. The following days also after the Ordination were days in which we celebrated the the First Masses, also in the same way, two were done on the following day in the same place of the Ordination, and the third came in the day after in another town.

Our newly ordained are filled with abiding joy and ask your prayers for a very faithful and fruitful exercise of the religious and priestly ministry and they certainly what to assure all that they remember us all in their prayers as well.

In Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy, Fr. Ken

We Fish for Those Lost in a Sea of “Who Cares?”

Mercy men in church
Ordination of 2 men
Easter fire
Mercedarian master with Pope Francis

You believe in God? So what? All religions are the same.

If this is what you think, you are part of our mission territory. But if you are a man with a passion to bring Jesus Christ to this kind of person, we want to talk with you.

For nearly eight hundred years, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy has been rescuing people from various forms of captivity. Today, an ignorance, or even an indifference, about the saving message of Jesus Christ binds men to a slavery of shallow thought, following whatever is popular at the moment. We care about these people.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI warned, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

Not Following Trends

We friars in the Order of Mercy join with Pope Emeritus Benedict in his words, “An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ.”

The Mercedarian man, following the charism molded by our Order’s founder, St. Peter Nolasco, is trained and prepared to redeem others from today’s forms of captivity.

Is God calling you to become a Mercedarian friar, as a priest or a brother? Our men here in the United States are growing year by year, and we have high hopes for playing an important part in the re-evangelization of our society. Will you join us? Why not begin a dialog with us as you journey toward your God-given vocation?

Contact our vocation director, Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M. today:

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Read the Greetings from Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M.

A Mercedarian Perspective on the Year of Faith

Essential to the Charism of the Order of the BVM of Mercy is a profound concern for the True Faith. It is for this Faith that hundreds of friars have exercised the 4th Vow and given up their lives for Captive Christians in danger of losing the Faith. In October 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith. Here is a Mercedarian perspective on this Holy Year:

St. Peter Nolasco founder of the Order.
St. Peter Nolasco founder of the Order.

Eight hundred years ago a man followed in the footsteps of his father and took up the family merchant business. He like many other young men had the desire to live a life of adventure and purpose. The merchant business offered him an opportunity to travel far from his residence of Barcelona into Muslim occupied parts of Southern Spain and abroad. Yet as he traveled, experienced danger, and earned a solid living Peter Nolasco felt that something was missing. He desired more. Not just more money or adventure, but a greater purpose to his life. While traveling through Muslim occupied lands, Peter was “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) when he saw the captive Christians. They were striking in appearance: dirty, smelly, and gaunt from hunger. As Peter investigated further, he was stunned by the deplorable living conditions of these men, women, and children who were treated as slaves in bondage and chains. They like Isaiah’s suffering servant were “despised and rejected by mankind…like one from whom people hide their faces…”

It was not their pitiable appearance that most affected Peter. Rather it was that they were Captive because of their Catholic Faith.  Peter knew that the faith was the most precious gift that a person could have. It was for our faith that Jesus offered Himself as a captive and was crucified. Peter was filled with sorrow when he heard that thousands were renouncing the True Faith in order to obtain their freedom or a better standing in society. For Peter, the Captives were most poor and impoverished of all people for one reason: because their faith was in serious danger.

Now in 2013 we as Catholic Christians are celebrating the Year of Faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called this year in order to re-enkindle a love for the Faith in a world that is longing for meaning. People’s faith is still in danger today. Modern forms of Captivity are choking and stifling people’s faith to the same degree that Islam did in the early 11th Century. For this reason, the Successor of St Peter the Apostle feels pity for the captives who throughout the world are losing the most precious gift that we have, our faith. As Benedict says in the inaugural letter opening the Year of Faith, “Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.” “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).” Just as St Peter Nolasco realized in the early 1200’s, faith is the gift given only by God’s grace which changes our lives and opens the door to salvation.

The Charism of the Order is to free Captive Christians
The Charism of the Order is to free Captive Christians

In his Moto Proprio letter, Benedict sheds some light on new forms of captivity which expose people to “the abandonment of the practices of the Christian life and the loss of their faith (Mercedarian Constitutions #4)”.  The Pope Emeritus states:

“It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied. Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.”

How true it is today that people think of their faith as an aspect of their cultural or family history, but do not realize the impact that faith can and should have on one’s whole life. For our forefathers, faith was the impetuous behind their love of family and country; it impacted every decision that they made. Yet, today the effects of increased secularization, both within and without the Church, have caused one’s faith to be viewed as a personal belief which should not have an impact on others. People often state they are Catholic, but this reality has little or no impact on their lives.

Much of the problem stems from poor catechesis in our nation over the past fifty years. Truly whole swathes of the Catholic population are ignorant of the basic tenants of the Faith. Long held Christian virtues, such as love, are so watered down or obscured that they are hardly recognizable. When faced with difficult moral Truths many will reject them as fanatical, since they don’t have the understanding of the foundational principles. As Benedict says:

“Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God.”

We have to be able to know the Faith in all its beauty to be able to truly accept it. Thus, people in the United States are held in bondage, not by Islam, but by ignorance. People are giving up the precious gift of faith because they cannot see the beauty and importance of it. It is Easter Faith in the Resurrection that truly changes people’s lives. The Faith of the Church gives one a perspective on life that makes sense of suffering and trials; gives meaning to everything. Truly Faith gives us a “new vision”, which changes our life in ways unimaginable.

Fr Matthew teaching the Faith.
Fr Matthew teaching the Faith.

The task for future redeemers is to present the foundations of the faith which have sustained Christians for over 2 thousand years. It is for this orthodox faith that so many have died for. It is presented for us in the Creed which stretches back to the early Church. Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the Creed from memory. St Augustine recounted this as he handed over the creed to the newly baptized:

“…the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord. You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.”

The Year of Faith is focusing our attention on the Creed and the fundamental principles that are contained within it. Yet as Mercedarians we must ensure that these principles are presented in a way that is appealing and understandable to today’s Christians. It is for this reason that we “visit” the captives; come to understand them while showing true Christian compassion for them. Here we learn to present the foundations of the faith to a generation which is hungering for truth and meaning.

May this Year of Faith be an opportunity for us to reach out to those held captive by ignorance of the Faith. Through the merits of Christ’s Precious Blood may many “chains be broken” as Catholics discover the precious treasure which is hidden before their eyes. The priceless gift of our Catholic Faith!

 

 

 

 

Mercedarian Friar to be ordained to the transitional diaconate

After years of preparation and study Br. David Spencer, O. de M. will be ordained a transitional deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Philadelphia on Saturday April 6th at 9:30AM. This will enable him fulfill the Order’s redemptive charism in a special way as a one ordained into the service of Christ.

St Stephen was the first deacon and he was martyred for the faith.
St Stephen was the first deacon and he was martyred for the faith.lo

The deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three groups, or “orders,” of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.

As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshalling the Church’s resources to meet those needs.

Men, such as Br David, who are in priestly formation are first ordained Transitional Deacons. This is a temporary state of men who intend to go on for the priesthood. Br David will serve as a deacon in the Order for a period of time as he learns and prepares for Priestly Ordination.

Let us keep Br. David in prayer during the next few days as he prepares to receive this great Sacrament. May Our Lady of Mercy give him the graces he needs to respond to this great call!