I published this piece on December 8, 2008 at the time of our first e-newsletter. Its theme was the Immaculate Conception and my personal history, that of the Camillians and CTF SOS DRS with regard to the devotion. I thought this piece was worth republishing now that we have begun a novena to the Immaculate Conception. Enjoy.
Health and peace to you.
I pray that you are having a blessed Advent, and I hope that your wait for the Lord’s coming at Christmas is Spirit-filled. It was for Mary, Our Mother, as she waited to hold her little babe, Jesus, in her arms.
December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, is a day of great significance in the Church and for the Camillian Task Force – SOS DRS. In the Church we celebrate the salvific event that took place in St. Anne’s womb according to the Father’s will. Mary was conceived without sin in anticipation of her own birth and that of Jesus, her Divine Son. Likewise, in the CTF-SOS DRS we celebrate Mary’s protection of our organization – under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Thus we have chosen to publish the first CTF-SOS DRS e-mail newsletter today, December 8. We plan to publish others on dates that are significant for both CTF-SOS DRS and the Ministers of the Infirm: April 19 (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter); July 14 (the feast of Saint Camillus); October 1 (the feast of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus). We hope that you enjoy our newsletters and that they encourage you to become more involved in our disaster relief ministry.
In this issue…
The present issue builds on the CTF-SOS DRS devotion to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception. This devotion was inherited from the tradition of the Ministers of the Infirm and my own. In the newsletter we look at current, past and planned disaster responses and introduce you to people who have played an important role in the organization – St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Camillus de Lellis – our patron saints. We offer a profile of Theresia Sinaga, our CTF-SOS DRS Indonesian country coordinator. There is a 2008 activities update; news from the CTF Secretariat in Rome; photos and information from the SOS DRS headquarters in Milwaukee; a look back at the disaster relief history of the Camillians (Ministers of the Infirm); and link to our World Mission Rosary intentions. Enjoy!
Why December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception? In summary, Our Lady’s role in the development of the Ministers of the Infirm, the CTF-SOS DRS and my own faith journey has been very significant – providential I believe.
On Easter Day of 2004 in Lourdes, France I consecrated the CTF to Mary under the titles of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes – Health of the Sick. I consecrated the CTF to Mary on that day in that location under those titles for many reasons. Praise Our Risen Lord that I was able to do so!
It was in Lourdes, France in 1858 that Our Lady said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. And the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11, which is also the World Day of the Sick. Finally, serving the poor and the sick is the charism of the Ministers of the Infirm (the Camillians), who venerate Mary under the title of Our Lady Health of the Sick. This devotion to Mary started with St. Camillus de Lellis himself, the Founder of the group that was finally recognized by the Church as a religious order in 1591.
There is more though. Mary has interceded for the sick on many occasions in Lourdes and elsewhere. She has also undoubtedly helped the Camillians in their mission and the CTF-SOS DRS in its own: witnessing the merciful love of Christ for the poor and the sick in word, deed and sacrament by serving the medical, humanitarian and pastoral needs of people affected by man-made and natural disasters.
Devotion to Mary Immaculate has been a significant part of the Order since its inception. December 8, 1591 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – was a very important day in the history of the Order. It was on that day that St. Camillus and his first confreres made their solemn religious profession as members of the new Order.
Saint Camillus – his first biographer Cicatelli tells us – set his sights on December 8 because “the Most holy Queen of Heaven – through whose intercession Camillus … was converted to God … was already thinking of forming a Society … and had taken steps to do this … she also wished him… to make arrangements for it [professions] only on the day of the Immaculate Conception. This was extremely comforting to all his companions because of their fervent desire to always remain under the perpetual tutelage and most faithful patronage of the ever-Immaculate Virgin.” (Mario Vanti, St. Camillus de Lellis and his Ministers of the Sick, pg. 129).
Members of the Order – of which I am one – renew their solemn vows each year on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As a Camillian it was wonderful to become a part of this tradition started by St. Camillus, particularly because it resonated very well with my own.
I first consecrated myself to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1994. And days after my ordination to the priesthood at our family parish, St. Mary’s on the Hill in Augusta, Georgia on November 29, 2003 – I headed north to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC to consecrate my priesthood to her there. I did so on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. For that opportunity I remain thankful.
Yes, there are many reasons why I consecrated the CTF to Mary on Easter Day of 2004 in Lourdes, France under the titles of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes – Health of the Sick. Praise be to Our Risen Lord!
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – December 8 – is upon us. Today, we bring the CTF-SOS DRS novena in the honor of the Immaculate Conception to an end. Many of you joined us in prayer during these 9 days. I pray that Mary intercedes before her Son to grant your request – if it be the Divine Will. Today, we also publish our first CTF-SOS DRS e-mail newsletter – in Mary’s honor. May She who is the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick – intercede for all us before her Risen Lord and Son.
Fr. Scott Binet MD, MI
International Coordinator – CTF