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Sunday, January 31, 2010

PostHeaderIcon How did I get here?

Our Lady brought me here, along with her Spouse the Holy Spirit, not to mention those other unknown heavenly and purgative friends who interceded on my and the Mercedarians to help me arrive 800 miles from my Kentucky home. 
After trying several different religious orders and my home diocese, the Mercedarians are the ones who gave me peace and happiness. Now I mean true, deep hearted happiness and peace, not whimsical feelings. And to think it all started with a web search for the Franciscans of the Immaculate in Bloomington, Indiana. Their home page was down so Google gave me a long list of other friars. I scrolled down and picked the most peculiar looking name...Mer-ce-dar-ians. I thought it said, mercenarians...like mercenaries! How often to do you meet one of those in real life? Turns out, they aren't the mercenary at all, but the liberators...the ones who even give their lives to save those in captivity! They are a community dedicated to mercy, hence the name. One might say, they aren't mercenaries, but rather redeemers! They go so far to have a fourth solemn vow of redemption! Under penalty of mortal sin, these consecrated religious profess to give their lives, if necessary, to save those faithful who become captive. This isn't idle talk either; these Mercedarians have over a 100 blood martyrs to attest they live what they profess! How more inspiring could that be?
No matter how inspiring the history was, I had important questions I needed answers to. Was this group faithful or had they gone the course like many orders and compromised the true tradition of the faith. It was important for me to find out especially before getting any more excited. Are they currently faithful to the magisterium and if they had a love and devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist. A big part of my reversion back to the faith had to do with my annual consecration to Jesus through Mary by the preparation of St. Louis de Montfort. And the prayers to Mary brought me to the Eucharist. I wanted to know if I could still have those essential parts of my faith in a religious order. Their website confirmed they focused on the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist. This was beginning spark my interest even more. I kept reading their site. More later....

PostHeaderIcon Front of the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady and Infant Jesus statue at the corner of our monastery set a prayerful tone to those traveling in our neighborhood; a solid cornerstone of St. Peter's making...St. Peter Nolasco and the spiritual progeny of St. Peter the Apostle. Rightly so in the keystone state of Pennsylvania!

PostHeaderIcon Selections of art at the Philadelphia Art Museum
























PostHeaderIcon A fine unique picture of Our Lord Jesus

PostHeaderIcon Mental muscle


Fr. Joseph, my Postulant Director sports his mental muscle while giving me a tour of the Philadelphia Art Museum. One can only be so serious after hours of artistic appreciation. A little funny bone antics keeps things light on a Sunday afternoon. 
It is truly great to see millennia of Catholic religious art. The collections are a timeless memorial of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Mercedarians themselves could house their own historical art and events dating back nearly 800 years! Saint Peter Nolasco and Our Mother of Mercy pray for us!


 Here is the cook in the kitchen. Don't miss the hanging ducks on the right side. This is one of those restaurants, somewhat like museums, where you get to look inside the internal gears that produce the final product. Both a visual delight, but also an ethnic/cultural experience as well. This doesn't look anything like my grandma's kitchen in Mississippi. This ain't Kansas anymore Todo! The duck served was gobbled up quickly, by the way. Despite having seen thick fat layers on duck, this wasn't present on our serving. Eatem' up, yum, yum! I'll have to offer tomorrow's morning prayer for thanksgiving and praise to Our Lady of Mercy for giving us such a treat!

PostHeaderIcon Dragoon soup

Thursday, January 28, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Gathered at table in the upper room of the Chinese restaurant

Part of us at the table scanning the menu and deciding on dishes. Br. Dominic had a gingko based smoothie, though appalling to smell, tasted as delicious as a designer smoothie at the local coffee cafe. So if you dare to drink, hold your nose, at least until you're sold by the taste. I had my own share of adventure when I dunked my spring roll into a quarter inch of horseradish sauce. Shazamm! What an infernal blast of a volcano through my nostrils! Who needs nasal spray when you have that? Fortunately, plenty of ice water was served.

PostHeaderIcon Half walnuts with breaded jumbo shrimp drizzled with tangy sauce on a bed of orange slices

Here is one of the dishes! I don't remember the name of it so I did my best at describing it above. Perhaps I'm easily impressed, but this plate looked delicious and exotic to me. I think I ate half of it at least, I must confess, sorry brothers, hope you had plenty too!

PostHeaderIcon China Town restaurant pick

Since Br. James is from Malaysia, he was well suited to pick the perfect place for our palates in China Town. When I saw the hanging ducks, brewing soups and chefs diligently at work in the kitchen, it was hard not to get excited about the dinner menu. One of the great attributes of a culturally diverse religious order is the exposure to different cultures; in short order, that means exotic food! I've been to several Chinese restaurants in my day, but this night ranks as one of the top in my culinary experiences. God bless our appetites and the cooks!

PostHeaderIcon Delivering bread

One of my Thursday duties is to hit the sidewalks and deliver bread from a local baker. This little delivery is received with smiles and gives me an opportunity to meet the neighborhood families. Who would refuse a guy bearing two big bags of custom made bread? Being the new guy on the block, just under a month now, I enjoy the opportunity to pick up conversations and hear that Philadelphia accent. We don't have the south Philly accent back in southern Kentucky!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Br. James 40th birthday outing

All eleven of us Mercedarians, casually dressed, caravanned to Chinatown in Philadelphia for the second day of festivities for our beloved brother James. Fortunately, he was able to speak quickly the Cantonese necessary for our large order. Noticing our large crowd at the door they ushered us to the upper room. How biblical is that? I imagine if we ate more of the hotter dishes we could have ran out with tongues of fire, but that's a whole different analogy. God bless the cooks!

Besides our birthday boy, Fr. Eugene, the veteran novice master was honoring us with his presence. Despite my brief encounters with Fr. Eugene, his rapport with the brethren is obviously an indication of a deep love of this paternal and gentle figure within the community. May Our Lady and Lord bless him and Brother James with many more years of service!

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Patrick
Mercedarian Novice, photographer, humorist, handy-man, fence-builder, prayer warrior, lover of Eucharist and Blessed Mother and Holy Mother Church.
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