Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Lady of Mercy.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the foundress of the order of mercy.
Wait- did I just say Mary founded the Mercedarians?
Why yes. There's a whole story to it. From today's office:
"In the early part of the thirteenth century of the era of our Lord, the greatest and fairest part of Spain lay crushed under the yoke of the Saracens, and countless numbers of the faithful were held in brutal slavery, with the most lively danger of being made to deny the Christian faith and of losing everlasting salvation. Amid such sorrows the most Blessed Queen of heaven came mercifully to the rescue, and shewed how the greatness of her motherly love was fain for their redemption. Holy Peter Nolasco, in the full bloom of the treasures of godliness as well as rich in earthly wealth, was earnestly pondering with himself how he could succour so many suffering Christians dwelling in bondage to the Moors.
To him appeared with gracious visage the Most Blessed Virgin, and bade him know that it would be well-pleasing in her own sight, and in the sight of her Only-begotten Son, that an Order of Religious men should be founded in her honour, whose work it should be to redeem prisoners from Mohammedan slavery. Strengthened by this heavenly vision, the man of God began to burn with wonderful charity, nursing in his heart the one desire that he himself and the Order which he should found might exercise that love, greater than which hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Upon the same night the same most holy Virgin appeared to the Blessed Raymund de Pennafort, and to James, King of Aragon, charging them concerning the founding of the Order, and desiring them to help in raising up so great a work. Peter betook himself forthwith to the feet of Raymund, who was his confessor, and laid the matter before him, whom also he found taught from heaven, and to whose governance he right humbly submitted himself. Then came King James, who appointed to carry out this revelation, which himself also had received from the Most Blessed Virgin. The three took counsel together, and all with one consent entered upon the institution of an Order in honour of the said Virgin Mother, to be placed under the invocation of St. Mary of Ransom, for the Redemption of Captives."

(What follows is just my rambling thoughts.)
One of the charisms of the Mercedarians today is to save Christians who are in danger of heresy or apostasy from them. It is altogether fitting that on this day we say in the divine office the ancient antiphon, Gaude, MarĂ­a Virgo: "Joy to thee, O Virgin Mary, for thou hast trampled down all the heresies in the whole world"
Jesus is the truth, and the blessed virgin brought him forth in conceiving him. Trough her humility and obedience to God's word, she brought forth truth to the world.
My favorite images of Our Lady are those old medieval images of her wearing a large cloak, with men, and women, children, all sorts of clerics and laypeople of different races begin sheltered by it. That is the merciful virgin. John, representing unredeemed humanity at the foot of the cross, was given Mary to be his mother. Mary is mystically our mother . In the book of Revelations, where the woman (A mystical representation of the Church, Israel, and Our lady) who is shown as being clothed in gold and white as the sun, with the moon under her feet and wearing a crown, notice that Satan after being unable to defeat her child (Jesus, our Lord. then goes to fight and destroy the children of the Woman. Who are the Woman's children? All those who keep the commandments of God, and hold fast to the gospel of Jesus, in other words, Christians. And as all good mothers, she is merciful. She consoles her children in their sorrow, she is compassionate. She helps them when they need it. She shows us the way. Jesus is the only way, there is no other. It is totally fitting that in the same month where we celebrate the blessed Virgin's compassion in suffering with Christ on the fifteenth, that we should celebrate her mercy.
Happy feast day to all the Mercedarians!

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