Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Rev Fr Michael Müller, C.SS.R. (1825 -1899)

Father Michael Müller, who so highly deserves credit for the rebuilding of the Annapolis church and monastery (Maryland, United States of America,) saw the light of this world in the humble village of Brück in the Diocese of Trier, Germany on 18 December, 1848. His early education was that of country-boys. On leaving school, he sighed after the priesthood.

His holy desire was furthered by his admission to the Gymnasium of Trier. In spite of all difficulties, he obeyed the voice of God calling him to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. At St Trond, in Belgium, he made his novitiate and pronounced his vows in 1848, and then continued his studies at Wittem. There he imbibed that spirit of prayer which the saintly Father Passerat had left as a holy heritage.

In 1850, Father Bernard Hafkenschied, the American Provincial, had visited Europe and augmented his small number of apostolic labourers in America by the addition of several young Fathers and clerical students from the Old World. Among the latter was Br Michael Müller. He and his companions finished their studies in America, at Cumberland and Rochester, and were ordained by St John Neumann, then Bishop of Philadelphia, on 26 March, 1853.

Shortly after his ordination Father Müller was sent to New Orleans. He did not stay long there, as the southern climate proved unfavourable to his constitution. In May, 1854 therefore, he was transferred to Cumberland, where the important office of Spiritual Prefect of Students was entrusted to him. This was an evident sign that his superiors placed great confidence in his solid piety and prudence. As Prefect he strived by word and example to inspire the young clerics with the spirit he had himself imbibed in Belgium. After three years, that is in 1857, he was made Master of Novices and Superior at Annapolis.

In 1865 he was moved to Baltimore as Rector of St Alphonsus Monastery, being at the same time consulter of Father Provincial. Later on he was attached to the new foundation at St Louis, Missouri, where both as subject and especially as superior he did much to relieve the house of its financial embarrassment. Fr Müller had passed a successful apprenticeship as financier at Annapolis, and he believed firmly that his bank, which was nothing else than Divine Providence, would never become bankrupt. He did not, however, lose sight of such human means as prudence would suggest and were within his reach. For the benefit of the “Rock-Church”, as the Redemptorist Church in St Louis is sometimes styled, he published pamphlets and books, and gave lectures in some of the larger cities, hoping by the proceeds to help his struggling community. It was there too that he wrote the first books in English about Our Mother of Perpetual Succour.

At the time of the separation of the Provinces he was affiliated to the Western, or St Louis Province, and became for one term also, from 1877 to 1880, Rector of St Michael’s, Chicago. Later on, from 1884 to 1887, he was called back East and filled for three years the rectorship of St Philomena’s, Pittsburg. Everywhere Father Müller displayed untiring zeal for the welfare of souls committed to his care, and for the maintenance of regular discipline.

One feature of his zeal for souls was his literary activity. Fr Müller published several books and one major work - God, the Teacher of Mankind - in nine volumes. Most of his writings were intended for the laity, but some were written for priests and especially for religious.

Books written by Fr Müller include:

  • The Golden Rule

  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Work of our Redemption and Sanctification

  • The Prodigal Son; or, the Sinner's return to God

  • Prayer, the Key of Salvation

  • Public School Education

  • The Blessed Eucharist. Our Greatest Treasure

  • Triumph of the Blessed Sacrament, or History of Nicola Aubry

  • The Religious State

  • Devotion to the Holy Rosary

  • The Purgatorian Consoler

    Of his nine-volume work - God, The Teacher of Mankind; or, Popular Catholic Theology, Apologetical, Dogmatical, Moral, Liturgical, Pastoral and Ascetical - the volumes are as follows:

  • Volume I. The Church and Her Enemies.

  • Volume II. The Apostles Creed.

  • Volume III. The First and Greatest Commandment.

  • Volume IV. Explanation of the Commandments continued.

  • Volume V. Dignity, Authority and Duties of Parents, Ecclesiastical and Civil Powers. Their Enemy.

  • Volume VI. Grace and the Sacraments.

  • Volume VII. The Holy Mass: The sacrifice for the living and the dead, the clean oblation offered up among the nations from the rising to the setting of the sun.

  • Volume VIII. Holy Eucharist and Penance.

  • Volume IX. Sacramentals, Prayer, Vices and Virtues, Christian Perfection, etc.

Father Müller also published four Catechisms: For Beginners, For Parochial and Sunday Schools, For Academies and High Schools, and For the Family and Students.

He continued his arduous labours almost to the time of his death. It was only in the latter years of his life that his health began absolutely to fail, although he could never be counted among the robust. It was permitted to him to end his days at Annapolis, where he had erected an everlasting monument to his zeal and piety, and where also he had the consolation of a grand celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of his religious profession. He died in Annapolis on 28th August, 1899. †

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