Today is a feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary under a particular title that is celebrated in various parts of the world. It is also known as “Our Lady of Mercy.” In 1218, when many Christians in Spain were imprisoned by the Moors who controlled much of the country, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort, and King James I of Aragon. She asked them to found the Order of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as the Mercedarians. Its purpose would be to liberate the Christians who had been enslaved by the Moors, and members collected ransom money for that purpose and even took a vow to give themselves up as hostages should all else fail in their efforts to free Christians. Their work continued until 1779 when the last captive was freed but the Mercedarians continue the work of liberation focusing now on people who are enslaved in other ways through poverty and addictions, in prisons and in hospitals. Let us pray to Our Lady of Ransom that we may be free from all that stands in the way of our leading lives of honesty and integrity and love for the truth. Then, as we grow in these virtues, we pray that the people we elect to lead us will have them as well. The following reflection is from Fr. Joseph Kentenich, founder of the Schoenstatt movement.
The Church asks us today to celebrate the feast of Mary, Our Lady of Ransom. Thereby, she draws our attention to the fact that the Mother of God is the help of Christians and has the task to liberate the world from its modern chains of slavery. By this is meant the liberation from our enslavement to inordinate instincts and cravings like the desire for possessions, the desire for power and the desire for pleasure. Who should liberate us from that? Through this feast, the Church points out that this is an essential task of the Mother of God, particularly in our time.