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 https://www.facebook.com/TheCancerSaint/)

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.)

Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 5

PergMosaic1Day 5 – Prayer for Patience in Suffering

Ps 37

Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in him, and he will act,
And make your uprightness shine like the light;
The justice of our cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience;
Do not fret… calm your anger, and forget your rage…
But those who hope in the Lord,
They shall inherit the land.

Lord Jesus, you are slow to anger and abounding in kindness. During your passion, you patiently bore insults, humiliation, and more pain than we can imagine. Please do not allow to become burdened with more than we can bear. Teach us to be patient in affliction. With your loving presence at our side, reassure us. Show us that we can endure our personal crosses out of love for you and our fellow believers.

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. You followed the peaceful and gentle Christ. Even when struck with illness, you showed patience and strength in your infirmity. Help us to bear our own trials in life with patience and a smile, confident in knowing that our suffering serves some greater purpose even if perhaps known to God alone.

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 4

PergMosaic1Day 4 – Prayer for Courage to Accept Suffering

2 Cor 5:1-2; 6-8
Brothers and sisters: We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. And in this earthly state we do indeed groan… So we are always courageous, although we know what while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight… Yet we are courageous.

Gentle Lord Jesus, you are the source of everything beautiful and good. It was you who taught us to pray “thy will be done.” It is easy to say “thy will be done,” but much harder to accept it especially when it may involve pain and suffering. We often do not see anything good or beneficial in suffering, so we run from your will. Yet, you will only good for all your creation. Help us to practice acceptance so that one day we may come to see your guiding, healing hand, and know the Easter glory you promise.

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. You followed the way of humility and sacrifice, denying your own will and taking up your cross each day. Struck with a cancerous wound, you accepted God’s will with an unchanging spirit, uniting your sufferings with those of the Redeemer. Pray for us, blessed Peregrine, that we too may learn to accept the will of God with courage and joy.

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 3

PergMosaic1Day Three – Prayer for Hope

Rm 5:2-5
Let us exult, too, in our sufferings, understanding that suffering develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

O Lord Jesus, you are the source of all healing and hope. We walk with uncertainty in the face of cancer or other illness. We feel weak, frightened, and helpless, and all seems dark. Reach into that darkness to take us by the hand. Fill us with the warmth and light of your presence. With you beside us to support us, we can face our trials with strength and hope. Thank you for your healing presence.

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 distress, you went to the cross and to Christ hanging there, dwelling in prayerful hope throughout the dark night. You were gifted with healing and now live in the blessed light of God. We ask you to intercede for us that the Lord may grant us also healing, hope, light, and a lifting of the ills that trouble us. May we also rejoice, as you did, in the daylight of restored health.

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 2

PergMosaic1Day Two – Prayer for Trust

Ps 62: 8-9

In God is my salvation and glory,
My rock of strength;
In God is my refuge.
Trust him at all times, O people.

Pour out your hearts before him,
For God is our refuge.

Lord Jesus, you are the source of all goodness and the Word of Faith for all. At the Last Supper, when the disciples were plunged into confusion and anxiety, you told them to trust in you, and that you were going to prepare a place for them. You also promised that not a hair of their heads would be harmed. In the midst of fear and uncertainty, show us how to strengthen our trust in your will. Rid us of our bitterness, doubts, resentments, and fears, that we may truly know and experience the wonderful things you promise those who place their trust in you.

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. You showed patience and found strength in your infirmity, always trusting that the Lord, in his goodness and mercy, would hear and answer your prayers. Intercede for us, we pray, that we may also face our trials with courageous hearts, never doubting the goodness of the Lord, and trusting in his healing mercy.

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.)