Thursday, February 17, 2011

Seven Founders of the Order of Servites - Paroisse St-Pierre Apôtre, Hawkesbury

The Rector of our Ottawa Cathedral, Father Paul McKeown, osm, belongs to the Servite Order, which also has responsibility for St. Anthony's Parish that serves the Italian faithful.  Today's optional memorial recalls this order's seven holy founders.

Can you imagine seven prominent men of any large modern city banding together, leaving their homes and profession, and going into solitude for a life directly given to God? That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century. At this time, the city was torn with political strife as well as by the heresy of the Cathari; morals were low and religion neglected.

On the feast of the Assumption in 1233, seven of the members of a Florentine Confraternity devoted to the Holy Mother of God were gathered in prayer under the presidency of Alessio Falconieri. The Blessed Virgin appeared to the young men and exhorted them to devote themselves to Her service, in retirement from the world.

In the Year 1240, these seven men, of noble heritage, in Florence established the Order of the Religious Servants of the Holy Virgin.  Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by increasing numbers of visitors. They next retired to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario near Florence, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to them again. There the nucleus of a new Order was formed, called Servants of Mary, or Servites, in recognition of their special manner of venerating the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

In 1244, under the direction of Saint Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the rule of Saint Augustine. The new Order took a form resembling more the mendicant friars than the older monastic Orders.

One of the most remarkable features of the new foundation was its wonderful growth. Even in the fourteenth century, the Order had more than one hundred convents in several nations of Europe, as well as in India and on the Island of Crete. The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is one of their regular devotions, as is also the Via Matris, or Way of the Cross of Mary.

They had a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and they saw their vocation as one of penance, in atonement for the sins of the world, through contemplation of the sufferings and death of Our Crucified Lord. They wanted to conform themselves to Christ in His most intimate action of love, and to be in communion with Him in His suffering and death, was to share in the central act of His mission.

As weak and sinful men themselves they sought communion with the suffering Lord through His Sorrowful Mother. These holy men came to grasp some of the deepest truths about the Cross and about our relationship with the Cross. They teach us that in this life, God establishes a union with us through the passion and death of His Son, one could say that our lives are lived in the shadow of the cross, or at the foot of the Cross, and perhaps even on the Cross. Our Lord Himself says, ““If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23; cf: Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34).

The Servites knew that this was the true calling of all disciples: an intimate union with Christ Crucified. Without union with the Cross and with Our Lord on the Cross, our lives and our discipleship will lack everything of what Our Lord calls us to do in following after Him.

Lord, fill us with the love which inspired the seven holy brothers to honour the Mother of God with special devotion and to lead your people to you. Through our Lord.

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Visite pastorale à la paroisse St. Pierre Apôtre, Hawkesbury

Samedi passé j’ai conclus la visite canonique à Hawkesbury avec la Confirmation d’une soixantaine de candidates des deux écoles, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys et Paul VI. 

Voici quelques photos de la visite:

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