“My Life for Your Freedom” this is the motto of the Mercedarian Order of The Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 5th, at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, FL, a mass was celebrated by Bishop Gregory Parkes. The occasion was the 800 year anniversary of the Mercedarian Order.
The characteristics of the Mercedarian spirituality, which inspirited the lives and the redemptive work of the first century friars, is the same as the spirituality which had enlivened the being and doing of Mercedarians in every age. Its basic elements are:
Imitating and Following Jesus Christ the Redeemer
The work of Jesus the Redeemer found its causal impulse in his merciful love which led him “to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Peter Nolasco’s redemptive work demands “that all the brothers of this Order, as sons of true obedience, be always gladly disposed to give up their lives as Jesus Christ gave up his for us.”
Love and Devotion to the Virgin Mary
The first Mercedarians always held the firm conviction that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, had intervened in a direct and efficacious way in the foundation of the Order. This is why they called her Mother and Foundress. They firmly believed that just as the Holy Trinity had used Mary, the servant of the Lord, to introduce the Redeemer Jesus into the prison of this world, the Holy Trinity also sought to use such a faithful intermediary to send Peter Nolasco and his brothers to Moslem prisons.
Service to the Catholic Faith
Considering the need of faith for eternal salvation, Mercedarians have always understood the redemption of captives as a permanent service for the faith of those Christians who were most in danger of denying Jesus Christ and, as a result, in danger of losing their souls.
Practice of Merciful Charity
Mercedarian spirituality is born of the infinite love of “God the Father who, in his great mercy, sent Jesus Christ, his Son into this world” and “the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with great mercy and compassion, decided to found and establish this Order.” The redemption of captives is considered as a work of great mercy and charity.