Marian Helper Spring 2024

White habits were on show in December as three Marian seminarians professed their perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, the final stage in joining a religious congregation. Congratulations to Br. Ryan Asensio, MIC; Br. Patrick Lynch, MIC; and Br. Alexander Pumphrey, MIC. As part of the ceremony, each was clothed in the new white habit. Brother Patrick, 27, professed his vows on Dec. 8, in Argentina, where he has been serving. “Jesus has been so merciful to me in my life,” he said, “and, come what may, I trust Him to bring to completion the good work He has begun in me.” Brothers Alexander and Ryan professed their vows on Dec. 16 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. “Making perpetual vows is a great gift from God,” Br. Ryan, 31, said. “It is a promise of fidelity, Him to me and me to Him. But He is the one who is going to have to help me be faithful. So really, it’s all Him!” Added Br. Alexander, 30, “I’m not sure what Jesus has in store for me next, but my prayer is that I will always remain humble enough to listen to His voice, and courageous enough to answer His call.” Marian formation For each man, perpetual profession marks a significant milestone in his vocational journey, which will proceed, God willing, on to ordination as a transitional deacon and then a priest. “We are blessed as Marians to have fine young men such as Patrick, Alex, and Ryan coming forward to do God’s work,” said the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior. “The Church needs good men like these men. Their demeanor, love of God, and love of brother are commendable and will at an even greater level be joined to our community. “We remain grateful to our Marian Helpers for their prayers and financial support of our thriving vocations program,” Fr. Chris concluded. “As you can see, it’s working!” Final Vows Brother Patrick Lynch, MIC. To bless or not to bless? The declaration Fiducia Supplicans (“On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”), issued on Dec. 18 by the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), has caused much confusion and raised many questions in regard to offering blessings to same-sex couples. Here’s what you need to know. The nature of marriage between a man and a woman has not changed. Fiducia Supplicans states clearly that “the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage” is unchanged. In fact, the March 15, 2021 Responsum issued by the DDF had already confirmed this: “The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is ... a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals.” Can a priest or deacon offer a blessing to a same-sex couple? The intention of any blessing is to invite God’s grace to turn away from sin and strive for greater holiness. The priest or deacon can bless each individual, but not validate their civil union or marriage. On Jan. 4, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, DDF prefect, clarified the declaration by offering a sample blessing: “Lord, look at these children of yours, grant them health, work, peace, and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen.” What is the position of the Marian Fathers? On Dec. 21, the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior, issued a formal statement: “Marian clergy (ordained deacons and/or priests) are prohibited from blessing irregular relationships, unions, or same-sex couples in the United States and Argentina, or while traveling abroad. This applies to all Marian clergy regardless of diocesan policies. We see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval of the irregular relationship, leading to the scandal of the faithful. “It needs to be emphasized, however, that blessing individual persons struggling with sin, but striving to do the will of God and conform their lives to Church teaching, are not only allowed, but strongly encouraged. Marian clergy will continue to bless the individual sinner, but we cannot in any way bestow blessings that may infer that we are condoning or blessing the sin of irregular unions.” Learn more at Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 11 Brother Ryan Asensio, MIC. Brother Alexander Pumphrey, MIC.