Sunday, August 31, 2008

Feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus

Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. He was delivered by caesarean operation when his mother died in childbirth. Hence his name non natus (not born). He joined the Mercedarians under St. Peter Nolasco at Barcelona. He succeeded Peter as chief ransomer and went to Algeria to ransom slaves. He remained as hostage for several slaves when his money ran out and was sentenced to be impaled when the governor learned that he had converted several Mohammedans. He escaped the death sentence because of the ransom he would bring, but was forced to run the gauntlet. He was then tortured for continuing his evangelizing activities but was ransomed eight months later by Peter Nolasco. On his return to Barcelona in 1239, he was appointed Cardinal by Pope Gregory IX, but died at Cardona a short distance from Barcelona the next year while on the way to Rome. He was canonized in 1657. He is the patron saint of expectant mothers and midwives because of the nature of his own birth. Although his mother died in labor, Raymond miraculously survived the ordeal. His feast day is August 31.

Summer's end

It has been quite some time since a post has been made on this simple blog of ours. Since the last time I spoke, we have had innnumerable graces granted to us by Our Lord.

I believe that I spoke of the blessings granted to us, the simply professed, who were on retreat in the latter part of June. Our Retreat Master spoke to us of the vows and the need to approach them with maturity and joy. What meaning and depth is within such a thought. After our retreat, we, the brothers, returned to Philadelphia to our friary at Our Lady of Lourdes. After the Sunday Mass, we then continued with our packed luggage to the Norbertine Abbey for a week of talks prepared for ALL of the friars in the US Vicariate. It was a good time for us to see the friars from our other houses throughout the US. This time of permanent formation is a remarkable time of catch up, to find out about the news of events from Cleveland, Florida, and NY.

After the week at the Abbey, we returned to Lourdes, only to then move on to LeRoy, NY, for the Renewal of Vows of us who were simply professed, and for the First Profession of our Novices. A remarkable occasion it always is to see the first profession of novices. The novitiate is a year of intense spiritual formation, intense religious and human formation into the spirit of our holy patriarch St. Peter Nolasco. That year, wherein in the novice is away from family and friends, where he begins to inwardly reflect upon himself, his life, his vocation, his mission, his aspirations in religion, can be difficult, at times, But it is, more importantly, a grace-filled time. Our newly professed -- Bro. Daniel and Bro. Dominic Matthew -- were quite excited to make their vows, as much as they were to see their family, from whom they had been away. Undoubtedly, their families were somewhat surprised to see their sons, brothers, friends, in the habit, as religious.... a good surprise, to be sure.

After our time in LeRoy, the 'veteran' professed brothers travelled to our parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. There, the parish was having its yearly Italian Festival, which culminated in the Patronal Feast and Mass of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. For one who is not of Italian descent, it was cultural awakening -- in the good sense. To see the vitality of the people who come together to work at this event, which is the major fundraiser for the parish family; to see that the neighbors, many of whom are not Italian, or even Catholic, come to the parish to have fun and to enjoy the rides, food, atmosphere is a moment to see the spirit of God at work in the world. Here, is an opportunity for us, as Mercedarians, to reach out to the unbaptized, to those who may have questions about the Church and Her teaching --those who are Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

As a side-note, i don't think I ever ate so much pasta, zeppoli (sp?), italian bread in my life -- i think that if I wasn't Italian when I went, then I was assuredly Italian when I left Cleveland.

Finally, a note that is probably the most joyous of the summer.... on August 16th, on of our Brothers, Bro. Joseph Thomas Eddy, O. de M., was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, becoming Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M. This momentous occasion in the life of the Order took place at the Basilica Shrine of St. Ann, in the Diocese of Scranton. His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Martino ordained Fr. Joseph. His Excellency, himself, is a Third Order Mercedarian; it was heartfelt moment for him as well, being close to our Order. Fr. Provincial was in attendance to witness the event, as was Fr. Dino Lai, O. de M., from Rome.

Now, the clerics have returned to the seminary, which has begun its academic year in full force. And our other brothers were busy working in their apostolates and going to school, as well.

Please pray for us all -- for the simply professed as well as for our Superiors and Masters. Pray also for an increase in vocations to our Order and to the Church Universal.

Ave Maria Purissima de Mercede, ora pro nobis.

Mercedarian Friar