Mercedarian Friars, Patron of Christian family life, patron saint of the sick, St. Raymond Nonnatus, St. Rocco, Traditional Latin Mass, What is heaven like?
The third Sunday of Advent coincided with our 18th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by driving to Cleveland. Our day started with the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Rocco Catholic Church.
St. Rocco is the first and oldest Italian Parish on Cleveland’s West Side, founded in 1914. It is known as a “Do-It-Yourself” parish because of the numerous self-building projects undertaken over the years by the parish members, including construction of the current church in the years 1949 to 1952. The craftsmanship is this church is stunning!
The church is named for St. Rocco, the patron saint of the sick, who was especially venerated in southern Italy. The parish was officially recognized in 1922 by the Diocese of Cleveland. In 1924, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (Mercedarian Order) were given charge of the parish and remains in their care to this day.
The United States Vicariate of the Roman Province of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy is part of an international community of priests and brothers who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, their members take a special fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger.
The Order, also known as the Mercedarians, or Order of Mercy, was founded in 1218 in Spain by St. Peter Nolasco to redeem Christian captives from their Muslim captors. The Order exists today in 17 countries, including Spain, Italy, Brazil, India, and the United States. In the U.S., its student house is in Philadelphia, and it also has houses in New York, Florida, and Ohio.
Today, friars of the Order of Mercy continue to rescue others from modern types of captivity, such as social, political, and psychological forms. They work in jails, marginal neighborhoods, among addicts, and in hospitals. In the United States, the Order of Mercy gives special emphasis to educational and parish work.
The spiritual and communal life of the friars include prayer, meditation, Holy Mass, recreation, and apostolate. Their life is based on the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order.
Overall, the Order of Mercy commits itself to give testimony to the same Good News of love and redemption that it has shown since the beginning of its history.
The presider for the Mass was Fr. James W. Mayer, O. de M., STL. Reflecting on the Gospel of John where the Pharisees were questioning John the Baptist. “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light” (Jn 1:6-8). The task of John the Baptist was to point to Jesus. “When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, ‘I am not the Christ’” (Jn 1:19-20). The Pharisees asked John many times who he was and he repeatedly pointed to Christ.
Fr. Mayer told the story of a Bishop answering a man who asked him, “What is heaven like?” The priest responded, “We do not know a lot about heaven but what we do know is that it is not about you. It is about God’s immense love, beauty, and glory.”
Heaven is a model for us on earth. It is not about us. We cannot get stuck on ourselves: our importance, our holiness, or even our unworthiness and sinfulness. Our lives, like John the Baptist, should be pointing to Jesus Christ and His immense love, beauty, and glory. We should be a voice proclaiming the Christ.
Fr. Mayer closed his homily by reciting a prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus (1204 –1240), also a Mercedarian Friar. St. Raymond Nonnatus was from Catalonia in Spain. His nickname refers to his birth by Caesarean section, his mother having died while giving birth to him. Raymond is the patron of Mercedarian novices, the falsely accused, expectant mothers, Christian family life, and the unborn.
Prayer for Families to St. Raymond Nonnatus
Illustrious St. Raymond Nonnatus, by your powerful intercession protect and defend our Christian families from all harm. Obtain for parents the necessary graces to live together in peace and unselfish devotion to duty, in patience, obedience and holiness, and to be especially zealous for the religious training of their children.
Pray that our children may be obedient, diligent, humble, and pious, and may ever observe God’s commandments; that our homes may be temples in which all the members of our families united may find their greatest joy in this world and may work out their eternal salvation for the next, where with you they will praise the Father with the Son and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
Every Sunday, the noon Mass at St. Rocco is the Traditional Latin Mass. The beauty of this church and the chanting of the choir was a foretaste of heaven. It lifted our hearts to heaven in praise and thanksgiving to God. If you are in the Cleveland area, we cannot recommend attending this parish enough. You will not be disappointed.
 Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy: Mercedarian Friars USA, internet: https://www.orderofmercy.org/about (accessed December 15, 2020).
 Warrior of God: A Faith and Prayer Blog, internet: http://warriorofgod.net/2018/02/24/prayer-families-st-raymond-nonnatus/#:~:text=Pray%20that%20our%20children%20may,you%20they%20will%20praise%20the (accessed December 17, 2020).