Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doings in the Lives of the several Friaries

This has been an eventful week for the Order of Mercy in the United States. In Cleveland, our friary at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, recently, celebrated its annual Italian Festival and the Feast of the Title and Patroness, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It was, indeed, a great privilege for the local community and for the wider parish community to celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, twice. On the actual Feast, July 16th, there was offered a Solemn High Mass, Extraordinary Form. Fr. Michael Donovan, O. de M., who teaches Catholic Doctrine in the parish grade school, was the Celebrant; Fr. Bede, O.S.B, was the Deacon; Bro. David M. Spencer, O. de M., the newest addition to the local community of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, functioned as the subdeacon. The Schola from the neighboring parish of St. Stephen's, sang the Missa Cum Iubilo. 

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti....

Credo in unum Deum....

The following day, Sunday, July 17th, the External Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in the Ordinary Form, was celebrated with the utmost grandeur and solemnity. (pictures will hopefully follow)..... Fr. Richard Rasch, O. de M., pastor and Vicar-Provincial of the United States, was the celebrant; Fr. Michael Donovan gave the homily, and other priests of the Order of Mercy were concelebrants. The Brothers and novices joined in the festivities, as well as the Mercedarian Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament. After the Mass, as is the custom of the parish, there was a neighborhood 'Procession of the Saints'. The Procession moved from the church winding through the streets of the neighborhood with an Italian band playing in honor of the Holy Virgin. The faithful approached the images of the saints and the Virgin and offered a donation, which was then pinned to a ribbon hanging upon the image. The Rosary was prayed and fireworks were launched, three times, ALL in the honor of our Patroness, the Virgin of Carmel.

(l to r: Bro. Scottston, Bro. David, Fr. Tony, Bro. Daniel)

The Procession on Fr. Caruso Dr.

The Holy Virgin. As she was carried out of the church the Italian Brass band played the National Anthem. As soon as she was placed on the float, the faithful began to pin money to her image.

The heat of the midday sun did not keep the people from honoring the Blessed Mother.

St. Anthony, a favorite devotion amongst the Italian people

Friars and Sisters chatting

At three points along the procession, there were fireworks launched in honor of the Holy Virgin. This was the first stop. Various families compete with one another for the "best" fireworks -- all for Her honor and glory.



In other news, the friars in Philadelphia will soon welcome the new Archbishop of Philadelphia -- the 13th bishop and 9th Archbishop, His Excellency, Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. Our prayers go with him and with the brothers in Philadelphia.

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, qui in diebus suis, placuit Deo....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Words to Ponder....

Give our day where there is an outright opposition to the Truth qua Fullness of Truth:

"He who denies Tradition its character and source, loses the accurate reality of the Scripture. He who renders relative the one also relativizes the other. And this minimization of Tradition is a great obstacle to perceiving in all its fullness and depth, what God has been gracious enough to reveal to us.

‎But there is one consoling truth: even if someone denies a truth such as that of the two sources manifesting the revelation of the unique Source, that does not mean that this man is not affected... positively or negatively by the truth carried all the way to him by the immutable unity of Tradition and Holy Scripture. It is like the man who would deny or hate God: he would none the less be living thanks to the Wisdom, Omnipotence and Goodness of God."

- Cardinal Joseph Siri, Gethsemane

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Suffering of the Church in China continues....

Courtesy of AFP
BEIJING — Chinese Catholics said Tuesday that three bishops had gone missing or been detained in an apparent attempt to force them to take part in a state-sanctioned ordination.
Workers at three dioceses in southern China's Guangdong province told AFP their bishops had disappeared in a move that appeared to be linked to a state-sanctioned ordination due to take place in a nearby city on Thursday.
The Vatican and Beijing have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1951 and tensions between the two have risen considerably over the issue of state-sanctioned ordinations.
China's 5.7 million Catholics are increasingly caught between showing allegiance to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) that controls the state-backed church, or to the Pope as part of an "underground" Church.
The three bishops -- Liao Hongqing of Meizhou, Su Yongda of Zhanjiang and Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou -- were loyal to the Pope, according to a report from the Catholic news agency AsiaNews.
The report said a fourth bishop, Joseph Junqi of Guangzhou, was also missing, although a local source told AFP he was attending the ordination voluntarily.
A Meizhou church member who refused to be named told AFP Liao was "taken away" by police "because he is being forced to participate in the ordination."
Su, meanwhile, was detained on Sunday by local religious bureau officials, while Gan has not been seen for a week, other church members said.
Liu Bainian, vice head of the CPCA, said he had not heard of this.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had no knowledge of the bishops' disappearance, adding that China's Catholic community ordained bishops "in accordance with the principles of independence, self-reliance and self-governance."
"This is a vivid demonstration of the freedom of religious belief," he told reporters at a regular briefing.
Earlier in July, the Holy See excommunicated an "illegitimate" Chinese bishop and in May the Pope called on all bishops to "refuse to take the path of separation" in spite of "pressure" from the communist authorities.
But China has ignored these appeals and announced last month it hoped to ordain 40 bishops "without delay".

It is a matter of Christian charity and duty that we pray for the suffering faithful in China. Particularly, as ones imbued with a Mercedarian spirituality, the suffering of Christendom throughout the world is a moment of immense sadness and a point of tremendous grace.

Pray to Our Lady of China

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Solemn Vows, Part II

Below is the homily given by Fr. Francesco Podda, Provincial Secretary for the Roman Province, on the occasion of the Solemn Profession of Bros. James and Scott.

Bros James and Scott in procession.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate together two men whom the Church has always viewed as her columns: St. Peter and St. Paul. Christ chose both of them, even though in different ways, to follow him and be committed to the duty to continue his mission of preaching the Gospel of salvation and the forgiveness of the sins in his name.
This feast allows us to reflect on the mystery of vocation. Who were these men? Were they special or better than the others? Did Jesus have any human reason for choosing them?
If we read the Gospel we discover that the only reason of their calling is the mysterious and gratuitous will of the Father, who shows his strength through human weakness, as St. Paul will later write of reflecting on his own vocation.
In fact Peter was a simple fisherman, son of a fisherman, generous, impulsive, sometimes overconfident, and at the same time fearful until disowning Christ. But he was also humble, conscious of his sin and capable to weep bitterly for having betrayed his Lord.
Paul was a scribe lover and slave of the law, who was present at the martyrdom of St. Steven, the first martyr of the Church. He was going to Damascus to seek and kill the Christians when Jesus called Paul in a mysterious way, made him an apostle and sent him to announce the Gospel to the gentiles.
Both of them gave their lives for the Gospel and for remained faithful to Jesus. Both of them were martyred in Rome. They were so different and yet united by the same vocation to follow the Lord so closely and worthy to receive the same destiny of their Master Jesus Christ.
This feast is a favorable opportunity to reflect on one’s vocation, most of all because today two other men are going to confirm their wish to follow Christ forever. The profession of solemn vows is the definitive yes that Br. James and Br. Scott give to the divine call they have heard and followed with faith and trust in Jesus.
They are going to proclaim before the Church, represented by this liturgical assembly, their resolute intention to follow Christ as religious and as mercedarians.
What does it mean to be religious and to be mercedarian?
First of all we should remember the source of the vocation. Jesus reminded his disciples that they did not choose him, but He chose them. These brothers are here because they heard the voice of Christ calling them to follow him in this particular way, as religious. Nobody should think that to be a religious or a priest is a simple human project. The vocation to the religious life or to the priesthood is a gift of the Lord, and the one who is called can only accept this gift and answer “yes” as the Virgin Mary did, but nobody can presume to be a religious or a priest if not called by Jesus.
The main purpose of the religious life is to be a sign of the presence of Christ among men and to help them to meet him. In particular the religious life is to make visible the way of life Jesus adopted when he lived as a man in this world.
This is the significance of the vows. They are not the sacrifice of the good things of life, such as getting married, to having and using property or possessions, or realizing personal project.
The religious vows should be a clear sign of the way of life of Christ, who didn’t get married, so to be free to love God and mankind until giving up his life for them. He did not have a place to rest his head, so to remind us of God’s love, who nourishes the birds of the sky and takes care of every creature. He didn’t have any personal project, but his food was to accomplish the will of the Father.
We are religious not to pursue a personal perfection, but to be a sign of the heavenly kingdom for all of God’s people as the Second Vatican Council reminds us: “The profession of the evangelical counsels … appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation. The people of God have no lasting city here below, but look forward to one that is to come”.
All the religious make the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, but we as mercedarian have also another vow that we call the fourth vow, and I believe it is the first and the most important, because it affects also the particular way by which we live the other vows.
This fourth vow is the vow of redemption that expresses our specific charism. Our father and founder St. Peter Nolasco, inspired by the Virgin Mary of Mercy founded our Order for visiting and freeing those Christians who were in captivity and in the power of the enemies of Jesus Christ, and as in the first Consitutions of the Order, St. Peter Nolasco established that all the brothers of the Order, as sons of true obedience, must always be gladly disposed to give up their lives, if it necessary, as Jesus gave up his life for us.
We the mercedarians still consecrate ourselves to God by this special vow, by virtue of which we promise to give up our lives, as Christ gave his life for us, in order to save those Christians who find themselves in extreme danger of losing their faith by new forms of captivity.
Only if we are free, we may be ready to free our brothers and sisters, at the cost of our life, and the other three vows we profess help us to be always free and ready to give up our life.
This is what Br. James and Br. Scott are doing with the profession of solemn vows. We can imagine how difficult the mission could be, because, like Peter and Paul, and like each of us who have made this profession before them, they are simple men whom the mysterious and gratuitous will of the Father called to surrender their lives into his hands, so to become instruments of salvation, to bring freedom to those who are enslaved by the evil one.
Today we accompany them with our prayer, asking for them the same generosity that brought St. Peter and St. Paul to give up their lives for Christ.
Dear James and Scott, may God who began this good work in you, by the intercession of St. Peter Nolasco, and with the maternal protection of our Most Holy Mother of Mercy bring it to fulfillment.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Solemn Profession of Vows

On June 29th, two of our American friars professed their Solemn Vows, at the Mercedarian parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, thus definitively uniting them to the Order of Mercy. It was a momentous occasion for the Vicariate in the USA, the Roman Province, the Order throughout the world, and, indeed, the entire Universal Church. Fr. Francesco Podda, Provincial Secretary of the Roman Province, receive the vows of our two Brothers, James Chia and Scottston Brentwood. In attendance, as witnesses to the vows, were Very Rev. Fr. Richard Rasch, Vicar-Provincial of the USA Vicariate and Fr. Matthew Phelan, Master of Students. The other friars throughout the United States were also present to witness this grace-filled moment. 

(Photo courtesy of William Stover)

Please keep our brothers in your prayers as they now, at some point in time to be determined, may be advanced to Sacred Orders. Furthermore, keep our brother-students in your prayers, as well, that in God's time they, too, might make public profession of Solemn Vows.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage in NY

Officially, last night, the Governor of NY signed a law enacting legal protections to same-sex unions. This marks the first Ecclesiastical Province in the United States, wherein the Order of Mercy resides and carries out its ministry, in which the attack on marriage has come to this point. Here is the message from the Catholic Conference of New York.

Statement of the Bishops of New York State
The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.
We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.
+Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
+Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany
+Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn
+Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo
+Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg
+Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester
+William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
+Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse