Standing with Mary

There were certain rituals that I did as a child when going to Sunday Mass.  Crossing myself with holy water upon entering church, genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament before entering the pew my family sat in, and lighting a candle in front of the statue of Our Lady to name a few.  There was always something special about each of these little rituals, but the time spent in front of Our Lady’s image always stands out most in my memories.  It was as if I was standing with a person who knew me better than I knew myself.

There are people in our lives who know us well. Parents, siblings, spouses, best friends, and others, whose relationship with us is founded on love, respect and mutual interest in making each other a better version of themselves.  Their counsel, encouragement and challenge moves us to new places where we flourish in life and grow in our personhood.  The active presence of these special people gives us hope and fill us with love. Maybe this is what I felt about Mary, standing before her image in my parish church.  Her presence in my life gave me the hope to move forward in faith and her love gave me courage to trust God more, especially as I discerned the call to be a Servite Friar.  I feel the same about Mary’s presence now, as I did as a child.

I have always loved to hear the stories about Mary in the Scriptures.  Her ability to welcome the Lord’s word through the Archangel Gabriel inspires me to welcome the Lord when He breaks into my life.  Mary’s presence at the Cross of Jesus inspires me to have courage in helping others.  Mary’s constant faith teaches me that faith is ever necessary for a joyful and fulfilling life.  Her presence in my life reminds me that being the best person I want to be starts and ends  with faith in the love of the One, who is ever present, always loving, and deeply caring for me, for you, for us all.  I love being in Mary’s presence.  She always has something to teach me.
Fr. Don Siple, OSM

The Gift of Provincial Assembly


Family vacations, weddings, christenings, graduation parties and the like, hold an important place in my memory, and in my heart.  Such moments in the life of my immediate and extended family were joyous occasions which included lots of food, laughter, and fun.   Whenever the family gathered the bond between us seemed to grow stronger.  I still look forward to such moments with my family for these moments teach me about unconditional love and further define my personhood.

On June 12 we Servite Friars of the United States Province gathered for our annual Assembly/Chapter outside of Chicago.  The Assembly was a moment in the life of the community when we gathered to enjoy our fraternity and to reflect on our lives as consecrated men.  Our days in assembly were filled with conferences, prayer, the celebration of Eucharist and social time together.  Being with my brother Servites was the highlight of the Assembly for me.

I have been participating in our annual gatherings for 34 years.  Year after year, theses gatherings are structured the same with conferences, discussion, prayer, Eucharist and social time.  The days can be full and long.  Yet, the time that we spend talking and listening to each other make the full, long days a blessing.  See, for Servites, fraternity is the experience of entering into the heart of the other that we may love, support and care for each other.  Each conversation becomes a learning moment as we share our hopes, dreams and faith with each other.  From each other we learn to listen for the word of Christ in the life of the other.  In each friar’s life story and present experience, we learn find the courage to keep searching for the presence of the Lord in our own lives. To welcome Christ and follow Him more deeply.  In our fraternity we support each other and strengthen our bonds as brothers in Our Lady.  Fraternity is our gift to each other.  This was the gift my brothers gave to me during the Assembly. May you and I have the courage to offer fraternity/support to others.  When we care for each other we live the very best of ourselves.

I pray the Lord to continue richly blessing you and may Our Lady watch over you on the way of life.

Commemoration of All Deceased Servants of Mary: Friars, Sisters, Benefactors, Relatives, and Friends

If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him

osm-soulsDeath inflicts a wound upon the local community, the province and the whole Order. A presence ceases: Man’s days are like grass; he blossoms like the flowers of the field: a wind passes over them and they cease to be. His work and commitment to serve fall to another. His voice is no longer heard in common prayer. His witness is no longer there to see. His place at table remains empty and there is one less voice to be heard as we converse with one another. All of this is painful, to be sure, yet this absence which is felt by all does not interrupt our fraternity. It continues even though in a different way. In fact, it spreads and is strengthened within the Mystical Body of Christ. Our dialogue continues, our friendship endures, our love grows in anticipation of that day when our entire family will gather in our Father’s house and the threads that seemed to be broken will meet to form a garment nothing can tear or consume. Our deceased brothers and sisters, clothed in the purifying mercy of God and the prayers of the Church, become citizens of the eternal Jerusalem and share in the banquet of the kingdom. In each of them we have a special friend and intercessor who is concerned about us who are still pilgrims here on earth.

Lord God, you are the glory of your servants. Our deceased brothers and sisters, parents, relatives, friends, and benefactors shared the same baptism and were joined to the death of Christ on earth. May they now share in the glory of his resurrection in heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus

Feast of All Saints of Our Order

all-servite-saintsAs the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints, so too does the Servite Family celebrate the memory of all the holy friars, sisters, nuns, and brothers and sisters of the Secular Order who have made the Order pleasing to the Lord and Our Lady in their own time and are a continuing inspiration for others throughout the centuries to serve the Lord and Our Lady faithfully.

“If we can keep before our eyes the word and example with which these fathers of ours spiritually begot us; if we can learn about how they lived and made themselves and the Order pleasing to the Lord, the we will find ourselves speaking and acting like they did and everyone will be able to see that they have left behind children who resemble them. It will be obvious that we have taken their example, doing everything in humility of heart; that wee to have chosen the path of truth, living according to the law and not wavering; and that we, like them, have willingly dedicated our lives to the Lord and made the Order and ourselves pleasing to God and Our Lady. By our constant prayers we will assure that the Order will continue after us too.” (Legenda de Origine of the Order of Servants of Mary)

Almighty God, graciously sustain in us the same spirit of service which you so generously gave to the holy men and women of the Order of Servants of Mary. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, September 15, the Servites celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Patroness of the Order. She is a familiar sight in Servite art: the deeply pensive Mater Dolorosa at the foot of the cross, often with seven swords thrust into her heart. The image strikes some as Medieval, and while the feast did gain popularity in the Middle Ages, the devotion is certainly not archaic or outmoded.

olsorrowsFor the Servants of Mary, devotion to the Sorrowful Virgin is reflected in the symbolism of the black habit, which was recognized as a sign of humility of the Virgin and the sufferings she underwent as she took part in the passion of her Son. According to the author of Legenda de Origine Ordinis, St. Peter Martyr befriends the Servites who at that time had no definitive habit. St. Peter has a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she shows them the habit they are to wear as a “sign of the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary and an unmistakable symbol of the pain she suffered in the most bitter Passion of her Son.” St. Philip Benizi, responding to the two Dominican friars who asked him about the Order of Servants of Mary, explained the significance of the black habit of the Servites as representing the widowhood of the Blessed Virgin.

These sources reveal the early importance placed on the mystery of the Sorrowful Virgin. This special attention developed in the following centuries and became a very important element of the spirituality of the Order. In fact, this particular honor toward Our Lady of Sorrows was expressed with devotions like the `Corona’ of the Our Lady of Sorrows, the Via Matris, and the votive Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary granted for the friars of the Order in 1668. On the 9th of August 1692, the Sorrowful Virgin was declared Patroness of the Order, and from the 17th to the 19th centuries, there was a gradual development of this devotion among the friars.

The relevance of this devotion today can be found in the epilogue of the Constitutions of the Order which synthesizes the figure of the Mother of God in the mystery of the Redemption: “In our commitment of service, the figure of Mary at the foot of the Cross shall be our model. Since the Son of Man is still being crucified in his brothers and sisters, we, Servants of his mother, wish to be with her at the foot of those countless crosses in order to bring comfort and redemptive cooperation.” In a world that continues to suffer hatred and violence, the Sorrowful Virgin is a model of faith, hope, and endurance in suffering. Anyone who suffers can see in the Sorrowful Mother a woman of prayer: one who accepts the Word of God, helps others, and perseveres through life’s difficult and painful moments.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

ST PHILIP BENIZI  Feastday August 23

“You are the light of the world.” We’ve heard these words of Jesus to his followers many times. When we hear them we think, “He’s not talking about me. I’m just an ordinary person. I’m a sinner?’ Precisely. Jesus knows his audience very well. What he means when he says “You are the light of the world” is that he has put his light within us. Jesus is the true light of the world; but his light continues to shine through ordinary human beings like us. And if Jesus has given us a particular gift, a particular light that the world needs in order to see the path to him, then Jesus wants us to let that light shine. If we try to hide our light, then the whole world suffers.

One of the great lights among the Servants of Mary was St. Philip Benizi, and his light almost went undetected. Philip was born in Florence in the early thirteenth century. God blessed Philip with great intelligence and imagination. Coming from a wealthy family, Philip had the opportunity to develop his natural aptitude at the finest schools. Philip, though, was not particularly impressed with himself. He thought himself very small compared to the greatness of God. In other words, Philip understood perfectly the first stage of humility (how unimportant we are by ourselves), but he had not yet arrived at the second stage of humility (how great we can be when filled with God’s Spirit).

beniziPhilip applied to the Servites as a lay brother. For four years apparently none of the Servants knew about his intelligence or education. But Philip could not hide his light forever. A remark here, a suggestion there: these served as little hints that there were resources within Philip that were not being tapped. It was not that there was anything shameful or second-rate about the life Philip had chosen within the Order. It was simply that the Order desperately needed someone who could be their leader.

As is often the case when a new group begins to rally around God, the group’s enthusiasm and vision outrun the attention given to practical aspects of building a solid foundation in the Church. The Founders were dying, and with them was dying the initial call from God that bound the group together. How should the Servites organize themselves within the Church? Where should they live? What work should they do? How did Mary, who had touched the lives of the Founders so deeply, fit into the lives of those who followed the Founders? These were questions that had to be answered if the Servants of Mary were to continue. And it was Philip’s ability to grapple with these questions that made him seem like a gift sent by Mary to her Servants.

Once his light came out from under the bushel, Philip quickly rose to leadership in the Order. In 1267 he was elected prior general, an office he held practically to the day of his death in 1285. His gifts once brought forth were so luminous that he was even considered for pope.

Philip was responsible for increasing the number of communities in the Order and organizing them into provinces. He completed the Rule of Life and used all his gifts of wisdom and discretion to pave the way for the final approval of the Order by the Roman Curia. Through it all, Philip never saw himself as anyone other than “Brother Philip.” That’s the way he commonly introduced himself. After completing his service as head of the Order, he moved to Todi, the poorest house in the Order.

Several miracles were attributed to Philip during his lifetime. Once when a community was without food, Philip prayed and two baskets of bread appeared at the priory door.

At his death Philip’s contemporaries quickly proclaimed him a saint (He was canonized in 1671). Yet those who called him a saint based their belief not on his historical importance or his brilliance or his diplomatic skills, but on his genuine concern for his brother Servites. An ancient document about St. Philip says simply, “He loved his brothers.”

Joseph Chamblain, OSM. Servants of Mary – Reflections on the Servite Saints and Blessed

Novena to St. Peregrine

PergMosaic1Day 9 – Prayer for Peace

Phil 4:4-7

Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

O God of mercy, in your endless love you sent your Son, the Prince of Peace, to teach us the way of mercy, peace, and gentleness. We thank you for those daily moments of peace which are your gift to us – moments of your loving presence. We ask that you continue keep us in your peace in times when we are hard-pressed, anxious, and suffering. Put a new Spirit in us, we pray, that angry ways may vanish so that peace and harmony may reign among your people. With your peace in our hearts, may we always be ready to serve others with mercy.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. From being an angry youth, you received the grace of conversion: from being violent you became meek in spirit, bowing to seek God’s forgiveness. Call on the Lord for us all, we implore, to give us a conversion that is heartfelt and deep that we too may live in genuine peace and serve our brothers and sisters with a generous heart. Dear St. Peregrine, ask the Lord to pour over us the peace which is beyond all understanding.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)

Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 8

PergMosaic1Day 8 – Prayer for Joy

Zeph 3: 17-19
The Lord your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by his love, he will dance with shouts of joy for you, as on a day of festival. I have taken away your misfortune, no longer need you bear the disgrace of it. I am taking action here and now against your oppressors. When that time comes I will rescue the lame, and gather the strays, and I will win them praise and renown when I restore their fortunes.

Great and merciful God, we thank you for the joy and peace that you bestow upon your people through your presence and your Word. Many times on our journey of faith, we run into difficulties and suffering that disturb us and rob us of joy. In those times, help us to remember that we have never experienced a night that wasn’t followed by the light of day. Be merciful and grant us the joy of your presence that sustains us through the dark times as we move into your own wonderful and healing light.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. In your own life, you knew suffering and confusion, followed eventually by serenity and joy as the Lord’s grace guided your steps. Your trust and faith was so strong that it sustained you through your illness to the great joy of your healing. Intercede for us we pray, that we may receive God’s joy and share it with others in good times and bad.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at

Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 7

PergMosaic1Day 7 – Prayer for Love

1 Cor 13:4-8; 13
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

Lord Jesus, you are the source of life and love. Your love for us was so great that you underwent suffering and death that we might be saved. We thank you for your sacrifice and love. We thank you for all the special people in our lives. When our lives grow burdensome with illness or other cares, pour out your great love upon us – a love with the power to heal. Help us to remember that we are loved and cared for by others also. This is your gift to us and may we share that gift of love with others.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. The example and love of St. Philip turned you from a youth of anger and rebellion to a new life of love, humility, and service. When struck with illness, your great love of God allowed you to place your trust in him for healing and your prayer was heard. Following your example and praying for your intercession, may God’s healing love also convert us to new ways of living, thinking, and acting.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)

Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 6

PergMosaic1Day 6 – Prayer for Comfort in Loneliness

John 14:16-18
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth… you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Jesus, gracious and loving Lord, you knew the pain of abandonment when your friends denied and ran away from you. The experience of sickness or caring for loved ones often leaves us feeling alone and isolated. Help us to feel your presence and send your Spirit of Comfort upon us. We trust in your Word that says we will never be alone for you are with us always. With you by our side, may we reach out to others suffering and isolated so that no one feels alone.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. When your leg wound became infected and gangrenous, you shut yourself off from others to spare them from unpleasantness. Yet, you bore all with an unflinching spirit, confident that the Lord would hear your prayers. Once healed, you went out again to minister among the sick and suffering. Intercede for us, we pray, that we might also reflect your courage and confidence in the healing power of the Lord who calls us to be together in his name.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)