In the Little Town of LeRoy, NY, the 3rd Order is making a difference for the Captives

The Third Order is an association of lay people integrated into the Mercedarian family, which participates in the redemptive spirit (Constitutions of the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy, #117). Each Mercedarian community also has these lay people who commit themselves to pray and work for the Christian captives. In this article, Fr Ken, Vicar Provincial, and Fr Eugene, Novice Master, share some of the events and work done by the 3rd Order in LeRoy.

Fr Ken enjoys some fish with some friends.
Fr Ken enjoys some fish with some friends.

“In this little town of LeRoy, NY, the third order is making a difference for the captivity of the world and the aspirations of our New Evangelization. St. Peter Nolasco’s spirit is alive in our lay organization in helping the poor, truly being a witness and a sign for those in the plight of suffering and abandonment.

Recently in this Year of Faith, we are publicly praying the Rosary for an end to immorality, abortion and Euthanasia.  We conclude this Rosary on the first of the month with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the 3rd Saturday of each month, we also offer after the 4:30 Vigil Mass, the Rosary and a dedicated prayer for the success of the New Evangelization.

workersIncluded in our many charitable works, are the Fish Bake we did for the benefit of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and also for liberation from human trafficking. We also have an annual sale of St. Joseph’s Bread and in the past many breakfasts and bake sales for charity especially for families without resources.

Truly as a Marian family, we continue to pray for our Country and the world so that we make inroads in combating secularization and atheism. Our charism of Mercy is not only here in LeRoy, but wherever our Mercedarian love and mercy are shown. May Our St. Peter Nolasco and Our Holy Mother of Mercy enable us to bring about a true conversion for us and for the many. ”


Fr. Gene and Fr. Ken

Jesus Invites all to Come to His Wounded Side to Find Divine Mercy and True Freedom

The word Merced means “price paid”, Jesus paid the price for our sins by his blood. This Sunday we give thanks and glorify the Lord for his Divine Mercy.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. It is based on a private revelation of Jesus to a Polish religious sister before World War II. The private revelation was accepted by the Church and the devotion has rapidly spread throughout the world. Christ appeared to Sr. Faustina over a period of several years and taught her to pray for an out-pouring of Divine Mercy on sinners throughout the world. One of the most popular aspects of the devotion is the Image of Christ with white and red rays bursting forth from his wounded side. The Doctrine of God’s Divine Mercy expressed in St Faustina’s diary is not a new teaching, but only a reminder to the world of God’s greatest attribute, His mercy.

The word Mercy, according to Webster’s Dictionary originates from the 13th Century term Merced. Merced means a price paid. The 13th Century was a difficult time for the Church in Europe. For several centuries, Islam had been creeping up into Spain and other Christian countries by force. They enforced their Suria Law on all living in those concurred lands. Christians were prevented from openly practicing their faith and were treated as second class citizens unless they would apostize or renounce the Catholic faith. Some were even held in bondage and cruel captivity for holding to their Christian Faith. A letter dating from 1311 gives us an idea of the magnitude of the crisis facing Christendom. King James II of Aragon informed Pope Clement V that there were 30,000 “wretched” Christian captives in the Moslem-held kingdom of Granada and that “500,000 renounced their Catholic faith and embraced the Mohammedan sect locally.” Seeing the so many in danger of losing their faith, St Peter Nolasco, under the inspiration of the Blessed Mother, founded the Order of the BVM of Mercy of the redemption of captives. They would raise money to buy back Christians in danger of renouncing the faith and take them to Christian lands. The Order, also known as the Mercedarians, took a 4th Vow to be willing to offer their own lives in order to pay the price of the captive’s freedom.

The Mercedarians did not come up with this idea of redemption. Jesus Christ is the authored redemption when he paid the price on the Cross for all sinners. Just after His death, John’s Gospel tells us that a soldier took a lance and thrust it into Christ’s side. At that moment, blood and water flowed out from his side as a symbol of the Sacramental life of the Church. The Precious Blood is the payment for our sins and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The water is the Sacrament of Baptism, which cleanses us of Original Sin and personal sin.

When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina he was clothed with an ankle length white robe and out of his open side were the rays of God’s Divine Mercy. The rays were red for the Precious Blood and white for the cleansing water. To His wounded side the Savior invites all people to have their sins paid for and be washed clean by Baptism. This is Divine Mercy. We deserve strict justice by our sins, but instead, for no reason but Love, Jesus offers us mercy. He welcomes us to live the life of God. Jesus offers mercy to all people. His death on the cross was offered once for all. But not all accept the Divine Mercy.

There are many reasons people do not accept God’s offer of Mercy. One is because they do not believe that they have a debt to be paid. People today do not recognize that they have sin. Sin is a lack of love and is opposed to God who is Love. The Old Testament tells us that “the just man sins 7 times a day”. For the unjust it must be much more! Another reason people do not accept the Divine Mercy is because they do not believe that the debt has really been paid. Unfortunately we, like St. Thomas, doubt that Jesus is paid the debt of our sins. How could any man take away my sins? My sins are just too great! We often cannot forgive ourselves for what we have done, let alone allow God to forgive us.

Divine Mercy is offered to all, even the worst sinner! Jesus appears to us today, as He appeared to St. Faustina. He appears in the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist. Like in the Gospel today, Christ shows us His wounds. He has risen from the dead and these wounds are no longer a source of shame to him, but trophies. The Glorified Body is beautiful beyond compare to those who look upon it. The most beautiful aspect is the wounds, which show us the entire price paid for our redemption. When we come to Confession, we come to Jesus and “touch his wounded side”.  We realize that God is truly merciful! Though we deserve to be condemned by justice, instead he forgives everything.

The Divine Mercy devotion has been given to us in these times to help us realize that Jesus will forgive us always, but we need to accept his offer. Accepting Jesus’ mercy means just coming to His Body the Church and receiving it “from his wounded side”. Then, we must sincerely try to be merciful with others. Other people hurt us deeply with their sins. We see people who live very sinful lives. Yet, we do not have the authority to condemn. Instead, we can offer our mercy to them. We can pray for those who hurt us deeply. We can let them know that the debt of our sins was paid for those who wish to receive Divine Mercy. We, like the Mercedarians, can help to free them from their captivity to sin. We do this by bringing them spiritually and literally to the wounds of Christ. From these wounds flow rays of red and white, which cleanse us all from our sins. Divine Mercy is open to all of us. Let us be ministers of God’s Divine Mercy to each other!

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.