Notes from the Novitiate: The Montserrat Shrine.

Fr Eugene, the Order’s novice master, speaks to us about the inspiration St Peter Nolasco found while on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.

Dear Mercy Family,

It was at Montserrat, in Spain, that St. Peter Nolasco gained the supernatural courage and strength that sustained him in his work for the captives.

Montserrat Shrine

We see in our Saint (St Peter Nolasco) a fundamental progression within the Marian perspective.

First: A road from Mercy to Mary. We already know that mercy or the redemption of captives was achieved without taking Jesus’ mother into account. Yet at a specific time, Peter discovered the in depth connection binding the work of mercy with Mary’s ecclesial presence. From then on the paths are joined. Mary is linked to the program of liberation. She is the model, the inspiration, and the beginning of the redemptive work. Upon reaching the end of the path, one discovers Mary as “the radical expression of mercy”; she is the depth and the inner stability of all apostolic works.

Second: From then on we understand the road leading from Mary to the Mercedarians. Uniquely, Peter Nolasco discovers that Mary is the foundation of mercy and freedom. She sustains and determines the meaning of the liberation movement, giving it a maternal and mysterious aspect, always receptive to the Heart of Jesus and of His Loving Father (Constitutions of the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy, #7).

At the end of that process the paths are mutually fruitful and complementary, so much so that St. Peter’s redeeming endeavor is forever called the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. From then on St. Peter’s Friars, Sisters, and the Third Order will always consider Mary as the Mother of Freedom, the one who encourages the redemptive plan of mercy, and sustains it with her presence. Mary specifies, promotes, and gives meaning to God’s liberation among mankind. This is why we can begin from Mary as Mother of Compassion; she appears as the Mother of Captives: the Blessed Mother came to Peter Nolasco and enabled him to understand the mystery of God’s redemption made visible in people’s distress and captivity.

As our older sister, Mary is the first and most privileged disciple of the Lord. She shows us the road of faith lived in accordance with the teaching of Jesus and His redemptive work. The imitation of this type of committed discipleship brings us to discover the essential moments of service and sacrifice, from the Church to others. Mary “presides over and inspires our prayers” (Constitutions #73). She brings us the risk to live faith, challenge to trust, which is not void but rather authentic acceptance of the Divine Will.

Yes, the Marian way of our Mercedarian commitment is being in love with God, so completely, with surrender and abandonment, which is a tradition of choice by being for others in mercy to secure true liberation in Christ.

Let us always say: Yours in Christ through Mary,

Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M., Novice Master