What is Opus Mariæ Mediatricis?

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I. Opus Mariae Mediatricis is a new Fr. Ashley with Pope John Paul IIapostolate whose objective is to spread the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ through true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its special patrons are: Our Lady Mediatrix of Grace, St. Philip Neri, St. Louis DeMontfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe. The apostolate also has a special devotion to Our Lady under the title of Mater Unitatis, given the overriding ecumenical tone of the apostolate which is "to represent and offer a visible bond to those Catholic faithful, lay, religious and clergy" (statute 1.1), "who consider themselves attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition (c.f., Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei, 2 July, 1988)" (statute 1.1). Opus Mariae Mediatricis is currently a private association of the faithful, comprised of both lay and clerical members, established in accordance with Canons 215 & 299, a status that has been acknowledged by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

II. It was first established in the summer of 1995, by Fr. William F. Ashley.

III. Civilly it was incorporated on December 6, 1995, in the state of Delaware as a non-profit corporation and subsequently granted 501(c)3 status by the U.S. federal government. It currently has licenses to do business in the states of New Jersey and Texas in addition to Delaware.

IV. It currently has over 1,100 members encompassing all 50 states of the United States, the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, Canada and 8 other countries. Among the associate members are 6 priests, 4 deacons and 1 bishop (as of October 11, 2000).

V. Membership is realized on two levels:

  • Associate membership: an individual who has requested to be a member and agreed to pray the Rosary at least once a month for the intentions of Opus Mariae Mediatricis and to promote its three-fold Liturgical, Marian (First Saturday devotions, etc.) and Educational apostolate. Whenever possible, associate members attach themselves to a Chapter.

  • Chapter membership: in addition to the above, chapter members meet every First Saturday of the month as a group in order to recite the Holy Rosary, do 15 minutes of meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, and make a Communion of reparation for the blasphemies and indifference towards the prerogatives of the Holy Mother of God. In addition chapters engage in other forms of the apostolate according to the works envisaged in the Apostolic Action Items leaflet.

VI. Clerical members may also be members of the Society of St. Philip Neri, the clerical association attached to Opus Mariae Mediatricis.

VII. Additionally, the apostolate has a group of women working with it to establish a group of sisters under the title of Ancillae Mariae Mediatricis who are currently in the beginning stages of their community with the approval of the Diocese of Rockford.

VIII. Opus Mariae Mediatricis has a three-fold apostolate:

  • Marian: to promote true devotion and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, following the teachings of St. Louis Marie Grignion DeMontfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe. This goal corresponds to the Message of Fatima, as delineated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the behest of Pope John Paul II, as an effort toward the New Evangelization. This is carried out in part by promotion of two types of Marian Oratory:
  1. First Saturday Oratory: Recitation of the Holy Rosary; 15 minutes meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary; and Communion of reparation for the blasphemies and indifference towards the prerogatives of the Holy Mother of God. This Oratory is obligatory for all local chapters.
  2. Our Lady's Oratory: usually takes place on the 13th of each month (as at Fatima) and has the following format: Homily followed by blessing of religious articles; 15 decades of the Rosary; Solemn Eucharistic Adoration and procession after the Rosary (Mary leads us to Jesus); Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; and enrollment in various scapulars, the Miraculous Medal, etc.
  • Liturgical: carried out in part by: i. instruction on the meaning and history of the liturgy; ii. promotion of Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony; iii. encouragement of the recitation of at least parts of the Divine Office by lay members; iv. offering the sacred liturgy in the most solemn manner possible.
  • Educational: to promote authentic knowledge of the Faith, on the basis of the doctrine taught in the typical edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is carried out in part by:
  1. preaching and religious instruction on the part of the clerical members;
  2. teaching;
  3. directing retreats;
  4. days of recollection;
  5. organizing and/or speaking at conferences about matters of faith;
  6. utilizing the media of social communications: currently a weekly radio show airs in the Southern New Jersey/Greater Philadelphia area;
  7. a monthly newsletter sent to over 5,400 homes containing excerpts from the teachings of the Popes, bishops and saints, as well as information on the liturgy and prayers in Latin and English;
  8. an internet web site to give access to documents issued by the Vatican, etc.;
  9. disseminating good Catholic books by means of mail order and gift shops;
  10. encouraging members to make use of the resources available to them to increase their knowledge of the faith.

What is the Society of St. Philip Neri?

I. The Society of St. Philip Neri currently exists as a private association of the faithful, established simultaneously with Opus Mariae Mediatricis. It aims to be a public clerical association and a community of apostolic life.

II. The Society of St. Philip Neri serves as the clerical branch of Opus Mariae Mediatricis.

III. Its members work to put into practice the three-fold apostolate of Opus Mariae Mediatricis. It is then an institute of active apostolate, with a contemplative dimension. It "also directs its activities to extending the kingdom of Christ to those who are not yet part of it or who may have strayed from the fullness of visible communion with the Catholic Church" (statute 4.2; cf. Declaration Dominus Iesus, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 6 August, 2000).

IV. The life of the Society of St. Philip Neri is modeled on that of the Oratories established by him. He is the "special model for priest members . . ., who through his cheerful and innovative pastoral style derived from his devotion to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady won many souls for Christ" (statute 4.6). Members of the Society "are under the general obligations of clerics (cc. 273-289), further delineated in The Directory on the Life and Ministry of Priests, published by the Congregation for the Clergy" (statute 4.7). According to the original charism of the Oratory, the Society does not accept the administration of parishes, unless pastoral necessity dictates. The members will live in community and, within the limits of their particular apostolate adhere to the following schedule (the lay faithful are absolutely welcome to take part in the various community functions including the conventual Mass and periods of silent meditation):

  • Daily Meditation: a half-hour in the morning before the chanting of Terce, a half-hour in the evening, followed by preces. During this time, one of the priests is available for confessions. The evening oratory is one of the principle customs established by St. Philip Neri, the apostle of Rome, for the sanctification of the clergy. He was aware that the easiest thing for a cleric to neglect is daily meditation, so he built periods of meditation into the community he founded.
  • The Conventual Mass: celebrated after the chanting of Terce. It is celebrated with as much solemnity as possible. It is recommend that a homily be given each day.
  • Meals: The principal meals begin and end with the formulas contained in the Divine Office. Each meal is enriched by table reading.
  • Vespers are chanted on Sundays and great feasts, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Apostolic Work: After the conventual Mass, until the noon meal, accompanied by reading, members of the community engage in the various apostolic works assigned to them. The same applies to the period after lunch until the evening oratory at 5:30 PM. Evenings are also a time for apostolic work, study, etc., etc.

V. When a community has a sufficient number of priest members, some of them could be available to help out in and even staff other apostolates.

VI. In keeping with the charism of St. Philip Neri, great emphasis is placed on the hearing of Confession, particularly of the clergy. All members are to frequently avail themselves of this great sacrament.