Conferences given at the MMP International Clergy Retreats
Fr. Francis Geremia , c.s.
THE VICTORY OF MARY
Don Stefano Gobbi has asked me to be practical in these two meditations. Therefore, I thought of sharing with you my spiritual path from the last 30 years, that is to say, from the first time I heard about the book: To The Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons. It was during 1976 when the messages from our Lady were introduced to me by an elderly Priest from Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario, Canada, A foundation of Priests and laity of a semi contemplative order.
I used to go there often for my monthly retreat. The elderly Priest, to whom I would go for confession, one day showed me the book of messages translated into English and told me: “I really believe that it is our Lady that speaks here” . A few months went by before I decided to start reading this book. Shortly thereafter I started ordering hundreds of copies of this book from Italy for distribution in Canada. One more fact that helped me to get to know these messages in depth was when I started to help Archbishop George Pearce in revising the English text to ensure it was as close as possible to the original.
I could call these years as a long time of formation, consisting of alternate periods of infidelity to these messages but also of growth in my spiritual life. Notwithstanding a true improvement, I am well conscious that we can never say the old Simeon’s prayer: “Nunc dimittis Domine”. Now I will develop a few – out of the many – aspects of the Marian Movement of Priests that have marked in a significant way my life as a Priest.
The Messages: It is truly Our Lady who speaks.
From the very beginning I believed in the authenticity of the massages: For years and even now, reading the book, I have experienced how true is what our Lady said on January 28 – 1984: “Gift of my Immaculate Heart, – O yes, a most particular gift! – Is the book containing my messages…. Read it my beloved sons, meditate on it: live it! Have no doubt: I am speaking to you. Through these words I am present in it and manifest myself. Only tomorrow will you understand the importance of this maternal message of mine.”
22 years after this message was given, I believe that “tomorrow” has become today. We should be very grateful to the Virgin. Each time that I open the book, I am happily surprised. Even during the times when the MMP was under attack or when some of my friends stopped believing in the authenticity of the messages, all I needed to do was to open the book and read only a few lines at random (the way Don Gobbi suggested during his first trip in Canada): without exceptions, I have always felt our Lady speaking personally to me, like a mother that knows the circumstances of my life: to tell me that she loves me, that I am never alone, and if necessary, in her sweet ways, She would also reprimand me. She did not come on her own: our Heavenly Father sent her!
As I read our book, Psalm 139 comes to my mind: “ O Lord you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar .” The Bible is full of such expressions: I quote only one verse from the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 40,2): “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…” I am certain that during these years, you also must have experienced the presence of a Mother that has guided us in a very personal manner. We are as fortunate as Fr. Gobbi is, because what She told him, She now tells us. This is normal for Her, because she just fulfills the mission entrusted to her by Jesus from the Cross. God uses her Motherly tenderness to bring us all back to his Fatherly Heart.
To this purpose comes her message of 9 February 1985: “You have needs for my word to cause a rain of motherly tenderness to fall into your dried-up hearts, a rain of freshness, of filial abandonment and hope for the beautiful days which await you. My word is therefore like a drop of dew which I cause to fall from my Immaculate Heart into your heart that they may be able to open up to the warmth of the new life which I am cultivating within you to offer you as fragrant flowers, now finally opened, to the perfect homage of the Most Holy Trinity… My graces come to you trough the gift of my word, which becomes light to the mind, life to the heart, and support for your journey. My word is a flower of wisdom, which forms you trough the Holy Spirit, given to you by the Father and the Son. The messages are a true compendium that brings us to better understand the Holy Scripture, and the important patrimony inside the Church. Just like Jesus said in Matthew 13:52: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of Heaven is like the head of a house hold who brings from his store-room both new and the old.”
The teaching of our Lady is really complete; She conveys it from the infinite “Treasure of God”. For this reason from the very beginning, Don Stefano Gobbi has been insisting that the MMP is a spirit to which anyone – Priests, Religious and laity – can join, because this spirituality is necessary for every Catholic. She Herself explains it in Her message of 5 August 1995: “In the great apostasy which is spreading everywhere, White flakes of snow are coming down from my Immaculate Heart upon you, children consecrated to me so that you may bring everywhere the light of the divine word and become instruments which make shine everywhere, in its greatest splendor, all the truth contained in the Gospel of my Son Jesus. It is because of our Blessed Mother that during these years of great confusion, we of the the Marian Movement of Priests have remained faithful to the “whole truth”. This book is more necessary for those who live in a nation where the apostasy is spreading rampant. We know how the world has entered “In the interior of the church”. The messages and the Cenacles have helped us in a determining manner to keep alive our true beliefs. The various points of these two meditations are only a small demonstration.
Now we understand the necessity to read often during the week the massages from our Mother. On November 9- 1984 we read: “If any, after having consecrated themselves to me, have come to an halt it is because they have no longer listened to, meditated upon, or lived my messages… Meditate on my messages and live them…» If you will allow me, I would like to share another experience that I believe is common for many. When I open the book at random on Saturday or on Sunday morning, I always find in the message precise referrals to the theme that I had planned for the Homily. I see in this something really extraordinary. Certainly at times we need to use the book cum granum salis, especially when we read the parts where Our Lady explains the Apocalypse, or when She speaks of the future. Many interpret these steps with rigidity; these are the same persons that interpret the book of the Apocalypse to the letter. In fact some have abandoned the the Marian Movement of Priests because, they say, some prophesies have not been realized. For example, shortly after the election of our Great Pope, some people telephoned me to tell me that he must be the antipope, etc. because at least in North America there are people who for many years are waiting for the accomplishments of what was written by an inflation of books of false prophets, that have predicted events and wars, and the number of Popes prior to the antipope or the antichrist.
We should spend this time of emergency –as our Lady calls it -, with the Rosary in hand, and multiplying Cenacles. Some people are always looking upwards, just like the Apostles on Ascension Day , when Jesus was taken up into Heaven. It is up to us, Priests, to lead the way for our faithful on the right road. I have recollections of struggling in convincing some Priests in China that the books’ prophesies are always a private revelation, and that they are not different from the apocalyptic spirit from the Bible itself. Some perplexities should absolutely not stop us from being nurtured by our Mother. I remember that after the year 2000, I too was puzzled because the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (at lest as I thought) and the coming of Christ did not happen. However, after a short period of time, well convinced that the book really comes from our Lady, (in fact only a small percentage has an apocalyptic language) I thought of how in a different, but also similar manner, happened to the Apostles when Jesus announced the Eucharist. They also did not understand what he was talking about. At this point I felt it was my duty to say to our Lady (after so many extraordinary experiences spent with Her) I felt the need to repeat to Her what Peter said to Jesus: (John 6:68) Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. In the near future, I am certain that we will have the answer to these perplexities. Allow me to give you two examples.
1) It seams that it has been documented that the attempt on the Pope in 1981 was part of a plan that Russia wanted to conquer Western Europe in two weeks, using small-scale atomic bombs, taking even the Americans by surprise. Perhaps due to the plead of our Lady –in those years- who asked for much prayer for peace, many of her children started to pray. The Russian threat never happened, because God is the master of History and not man.
2) I consulted a professor of Holy Scripture to interpret for me the passage of 5 December 1994: “I confirm to you that by the great jubilee…etc.” He told me that the text was referring to two different times. Stage one: during the year of the Jubilee, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was going to take place; stage two, this would be “seen or will be matured” with the coming of Christ.
During these years I have learned to be prudent and not give pearls to pigs, as they could turn against us – as the Gospel tells us- and tear us to pieces. Let me explain. Many times our Lady speaks to us who have been exposed for years to her messages, and therefore, when prudence suggests, we should not read certain messages to those who could apply them against the the Marian Movement of Priests.
I remember, some 15 years ago, a lay person responsible for French Canada, during his first Cenacle in a new Diocese, read a passage on the Free Masons in the Church. From that day on, he was forbidden to enter the Diocese. We should use the many other messages where our Lady wants to encourage and guide her children. Saint Paul would suggest to give milk to babies. When Jesus sent his disciples for their first mission, he told them: “be prudent as serpents and simple as doves” I have met some Priests in North America who have lost the faculties in their dioceses, or have experienced a strong opposition from their people because they were preaching almost every Sunday against sin. May be they were prompted by some messages of Our Lady. Holy Scripture (and in a small way also the book of the messages) does not contain only God’s wrath against the sins of the people. The third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes says: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens… a time to plant, and a time to uproot… a time to tear down, and a time to build… a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” In one of the messages, in fact, our Lady says that, it is not given to all to understand what She is telling us. Years ago, I too was a bit negative in my preaching . I think that at the time I was reading the Messages in a superficial way: or may be because I was in a stage in my life when I needed to be corrected. The majority of Our Mother’s messages are meant to help us grow and to encourage us: why omit them?
A FEW TEACHINGS THAT DERIVE FROM THE ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
I would like to begin this thought with a quotation from the Homely of Pope Benedict XVI, during the Holy Mass in Marienfeld, Cologne, Germany, at the conclusion of the World Youth Day: “Form communities based on faith! In recent decades, movements and communities have come to birth in which the power of the Gospel is keenly felt. Seek communion in faith, like fellow travelers who continue together to follow the path of the great pilgrimage that the Magi from the East first pointed out to us. The spontaneity of new commitments is important, but it is also important to preserve communion with the Pope and with the Bishops. It is they who guarantee that we are not seeking private paths, but instead are living as God’s great family, founded by the Lord trough the Twelve Apostles.”
During my Cenacles, before inviting the faithful to renew their act of Consecration, I tell them, that we are not signing a blank check. We are simply promising what each and every Catholic should already put into practice. In fact, from the very beginning I was convinced of the authenticity of the book and therefore of the MMP, because our Lady’s messages bring us back to the universal patrimony of the Catholic Church. She brings us back to the teachings of Holy Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the Magisterium (Obedience and love for the Pope is one of the principal commitments of the MMP) and lastly of the bi-millennium ascetical teachings, taught and lived by many Saints and giants of Catholic life. Studying well the act of Consecration – which, to my knowledge, was dictated by our Lady herself – we will notice exactly this. During a time when tens of thousands of Priests were betraying their vocation, The Holy Virgin, like our Mother and expert Teacher, has repeated for us the A, B, and C of our vocation. She saved our Priesthood during these dangerous times, and, above all, She firmly lead us to sanctity. Try to read the messages from 30 or 25 years ago with the knowledge of today’s situation in the Church. The Province of Quebec, Canada, where during the past 6 years I have been exercising my Ministry, is a clear example. For centuries this Province has been the most Catholic area in the world. They built countless Churches that the genius French Architecture brought in this country. For those living in North America, such Churches built some 100 to 300 years ago would not need to be envious when compared to the Cathedrals of Europe. Hundreds of these Parishes are now being eliminated. Only within the Diocese of Montreal it has been confirmed that half of the 246 Parishes cannot afford to remain open. These Churches are being sold, and many are being transformed into popular apartments, offices, pubs, etc. The changes that were forced by communism in Eastern Europe, evolved here due to the “Practical Atheism” just as our Lady predicted in her book. Nevertheless, the major difference when compared with Eastern countries is that their faith is slowly growing, while in Quebec it is diminishing. In fact, many of these Churches that are still open, on Sundays they would see only about 30 to 50 faithful. During the winter months many do not manage to pay for heating. Now we understand how the MMP is “ a great gift from God ”. Our Lady herself reminds us of this often. I remember that about 10 years ago a Priest in the United States wanted nothing to do with the MMP, for this sentence of the Act of Consecration was offensive to him:
“ Mindful that atheism has caused shipwreck in the faith to a great number of the faithful, that desecration has entered into the Holy Temple of God, not sparing even many of our brother – Priests. ” After all the scandals of his nation, I would like to ask him if his opinion has changed. In the month of November 2005, during my tour of Cenacles, I was a guest at the Sister of Saint Joseph in Long Island, N.Y. one of the Sisters was telling me that up to about 30 years ago, every year, they would receive about 100 novices. Now they have zero. They were saying how fortunately, they were able convert their large complex into a school for pre-university, and a rest-home for the elderly Nuns. In view of all this, we now understand why our Heavenly Mother, since 1972 has imitated Her Son Jesus, the Good Sheppard, that placed on his shoulder the lost sheep, therefore, let us thank our Heavenly Mother for the MMP. It is now up to us, to live our Consecration and to allow Her to carry us close to Her Immaculate Heart. For years Don Stefano Gobbi has been suggesting to become like two-months-old babies in the arms of our Lady. I have being a very slow learner about this. Only now I am starting to understand, a bit at the time of this necessity. After many years, we are finally becoming aware that all our lives, with innumerable highs and lows, have been a true knitted embroidery, as the book says, of the merciful work of our Heavenly Mother. We recognize that invisible bonds have kept us united to our Mother who still today guides us from Heaven in such a way that only the love of a Mother could explain.
Our Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
a) First of all we entrust ourselves to Her by giving Her our most precious treasure. We cannot risk losing it. This entrustment is on the spirit of St. L. G. de Montfort. Many times I ask myself: what has saved my Priesthood in these 39 years? I was not better than many others who after a crisis have betrayed their vocation. While thinking of this, one day I remembered how, still as a seminarian, during our monthly retreats, passing in front of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, I often stopped and would say: “ Hold me by your hand always, especially during difficulties” . Even though for a few years I had almost forgotten of our Mother, She has always held me by the hand.
b) I prefer to use the Word Consecration as in the spirit of the MMP. I suggest you to read on your own the Massage of 25 March 1984. Now I would like to quote a verse from Psalm 40 (39), which will help us to understand the meaning of our Consecration:
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin–offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.” Consecration in accordance with the MMP is a major step forward in comparison to the Consecration of Saint L.M.G. de Montfort. I will get to the point by quoting the message of 31 December 1996: “ I ask of you that which I asked of the three children to whom I appeared at Fatima. Do you wish to offer your life in a spirit of prayer and reparation for the salvation of all the sinners, especially those who have most need of the Divine Mercy? So form, with me a great network of love and salvation, spread over the whole world. This then is the arc of the New Covenant, the safe and awaited refuge, into which must enter those far away, the atheists, the sinners, the poor, the sick, the despairing, so that they may all enjoy the light, the peace and the joy which only the Immaculate Heart of your Heavenly Mother can give you. ” This is why in our act of Consecration we say: “ And as we resolve to entrust to you, O Mother most sweet and merciful, our Priesthood, so that you may dispose of it for all your designs of salvation in this hour of decision that weighs upon the world, we pledge to live it according to your desires…. And lastly, we promise to lead the faithful entrusted to our care to a renewed devotion to you. ”
Our Lady brings us to imitate Jesus who on the Cross Has become Victim for our salvation: in other words, She wants to bring us to the heroism of our consecrated life. To clarify this point I would like to quote a paragraph from the introduction prayer to the Way of The Cross, of then, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: ” Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake you became like the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies, so that it may bear much fruit (Jn 12:24). You invited us to follow you along this path when you told us that “the one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ” (Jn 12:25). Yet we are attached to our life. We do not want to abandon it; we want to keep it all for ourselves. We want to hold on to it, not to give it away. But you go before us, showing us that it is only by giving away our life that we can save it . The cross – our self offering- weighs heavily upon us. Today… you want me, like Simon of Cyrene, to join you in carrying your Cross; you want me to walk at your side and place myself with you at the service of the World’s redemption.
This is the spirituality of the children of Fatima, and it truly is the obligatory road for those who wish to follow Christ’s footsteps. Our Lady takes us right there. Amongst so many messages, let us read a few lines from the message given on 2 February 1995. “…For this, you are being immolated today on the altar of my Immaculate Heart. The hour of your immolation has come. I will be at your side, in an extraordinary way, during the bloody moments of your Priestly Passion and of your martyrdom. You will see me then and rejoice, because you will contemplate your heavenly Mother who offers you, as little lambs, on the altar of her Immaculate Heart, to the perfect Glory of the Most Holy and Divine Trinity.” When a Priest friend of mine read this passage, his reaction was completely negative, that caused him to practically reject the entire book. May be our Lady here predicts martyrdom? For some certainly!
As for Father Nazzareno from Brazil, as well as a Priest from Vietnam, of which we heard about some years ago. I believe our Lady was not only talking to those that in fact have become, or will become martyrs in the common sense of the word, she is also speaking to every one of us, that seriously lives on a daily basis his Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart, identifying ourselves with the Eucharistic Victim, especially during the celebration of the Holy Mass. In fact we should meditate well the following quotation, in which our Lady speaks of the Pope John Paul II. (Message of 13 May 1995): He is living the hour of Gethsemane and Calvary, of crucifixion and of his immolation.
The Lord looks upon him as the most precious victim, who must now be immolated on the alter of his Priestly sacrifice. Beloved children, remain ever with me beneath the Cross upon which my Pope, fashioned, led and so loved by me, is as of now consummating his great offering of love and sorrow. It is precisely trough the sacrifice of this, the first of my beloved sons, that the divine justice will be exposed to a great mercy. How pleasing are such words after one year from our dear Pope’s death! Pope Benedict XVI explains this even more, when he spoke to the Cardinals on 22 April 2005: “.. John Paul II, whose witness in his last days gave us more support that ever and whose lively presence we still continue to feel. The sorrowful event of his death, after a period of great trials and suffering, proved to have the Pascal features for which he had expressed the hope in his Testament.
The light and strength of the Risen Christ shone out in the Church from that sort of “last Mass” that he celebrated in his agony, which culminated in the “Amen” of a life entirely offered, trough the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the world’s salvation. During my Cenacles I tell everyone to repeat often the offering that the Pope has suggested to us in the two quotations that we have mentioned above: “ Lord Jesus, trough the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I give my life away to you. Well then, when our time will come, it will no longer be a surprise, because we will already have offered our life as a true holocaust. This is what the Church tells us in the 3rd Eucharistic Prayer: “ May He make us an everlasting gift to you.” We accomplish this by always doing the Father’s will for His glory and the salvation of souls. This is what Jesus and Mary had in their hearts and in their actions during all their earthily life.
“ We pledge…the daily recitation of the holy rosary” .
Certainly I do not intend to deepen for you this theme already taught by the hierarchy, especially the recent Popes, the Saints, our Lady’s apparitions and the numerous messages contained in our book. Recently I started to understand more and more the message of 7 October 1992: “The chain, with which the great Dragon is to be bound, is made up of prayer made with me and by means of me. This prayer is that of the Holy Rosary. A chain has in fact the function of first of all limiting action, then of imprisoning, and finally of making ineffective every activity of the one who has been bound by it…And so, each Rosary which is recited well deals a mighty blow to the power of evil, and it represents one part of his reign which is destroyed.
The chain of the Holy Rosary brings about, in the end, the result of making Satan completely harmless. His great power is destroyed”. When I was preparing this very page, the reading of the day was from the book of Samuel where David kills the giant Goliath and the Responsorial was Psalm 143 . Let us read it again keeping in mind that the Holy Rosary in a weapon that God himself has placed in our hands: “ Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war; My refuge and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me. ” Our work is to bring and to unite all peoples in the Kingdom of Christ, through the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Certainly Satan and the world allied with him is stronger that the giant Goliath. We also, can shout with David: (1 Sam. 17) “… I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.”
Therefore, woe to those who are pessimist, as King Saul’s army was. Those Catholics, who are pessimistic and continue to complain, are like King Saul’s soldiers that every day would receive insults from the giant Goliath. Often our Lady scolds us and says that our discouragement ties her hands, and therefore, is unable to act as She wishes. Let us be patient and in the meantime let’s use the strategy that Our Mother – actually God Himself – are giving us. I have touched with my hands the victory that the Holy Rosary and the Cenacles have brought.
Six years ago I was assigned to a small Parish in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Soon thereafter I discovered that I fell into a vipers’ nest. From 1990 to 2000 they went trough as many as seven Pastors. The parishioners where divided in many parties, almost like the Italian political parties. For example when one of these Priests was transferred – also due to criticism by some parishioners – a different group of men sealed all the Church’s doors with a long cord, as a sign of protest: that Sunday people could not attend Holy Mass.
During my first year-and-a-half, I saw jealousy and people who would get violent towards each other, suspicions, criticism, maneuvers against the Priest as well as against other members of the Parish. At the earliest possible time I organized the Rosary before Holy Mass twice a day, family Cenacles , bringing around the Pilgrim Statue of Mary, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day on Fridays, concluding the day with a Cenacle before the Blessed Sacrament, Cenacle on the first Saturday of the month, the Holy Rosary and Adoration during the children’s retreat in preparation of their First Communion and Confirmation. In two years Our Lady performed Her miracle, and neutralized Satan’s work.
One more example: about 10 years ago, during my tour of Cenacles in the United States, I had the joy of guiding a Cenacle for children in Flemington, New Jersey. There were about 25 children present with their mothers. I recall that a two-and-a-half year old child guided his 10 Hail Mary. Last November, I returned to the same city for another Cenacle: many of those who were present 10 years ago were back again this time for the Cenacle: some were serving Mass, others were singing, others were ushers helping people coming to the celebration, etc. They have assured me that many still gather for Cenacles with their families. What a beautiful confirmation of the promises we find in our Lady’s messages.
When I was in a Toronto Parish during the 1980’s, I had a group of youngsters that would get together every week for their Eucharistic Cenacle. Two of them went on to become Priests (one of them also comes to the retreat here in Collevalenza). Others went on to get married, and now have large families; they recite the Holy Rosary together, and have our Lord in the center of their homes. I am certain that all of you have experienced the same thing, especially in the Latin American countries where you have the advantage of having Don Stefano Gobbi who comes to your country every year. It would be a misfortune for us, if we belong to The Marian Movement of Priests and do not work and live with the enthusiasm of those who are aware that victory is already present, because our Leader is the Queen of Victories.
In this hour of decision that weighs upon the world… We make so bold as to lift our eyes trustingly to you… When I repeat these words in the act of Consecration, I remember The Ballad of the white horse, a poem written by G. K. Chesterton. This story in part historical and part legendary. It is about King Alfred the Great and the Vikings that had invaded England in the eighth century: Chesterton describes the fight between Christians and pagans. King Alfred gave great importance to his mission to save England from the pagan invaders. He was discouraged and thought that this undertaking was practically impossible due to the many defeats, and because by now the invaders seemed invincible. But our Lady herself appeared to encourage him to keep on fighting. She said: “ Save that the sky grows darker and the waves of the sea will always rise higher. Night shall be trice night over you, And heaven an iron cape. Do you have joy without a cause, Yea, faith without a hope? ”
(It seams almost like the situation in which many of us find ourselves, surrounded by a hostile world always more threatening against the weak Catholic faith of our nations)- Then king Alfred goes to the chiefs of Southern England and challenges them to gather the few men that were left, for another battle. Many accept the challenge and join the rank in the battle. But the enemy has the upper hand because they are more numerous and better equipped. While the defeated army is in retreat in the protection of a forest, The King sounds the trumpet and recalls the soldiers by now all scattered. They were only about one thousand.
He asks them – in a heated address – if they would prefer to go back into hiding in their mountain caves still slaves of the pagans, or choose to walk down on the dark road that leads to the house of God, and he concludes: “ While a man remains, great war remains. ” He excites them so much, that they all go back to the battle with their shouts of war. While running to do battle with the enemy, the King sees the Virgin Mother in a very bright light: It was Our Lady of Sorrows with the seven swords in her heart, but she also has one in her hand. The enemy was very surprised and astonished by the force of that sudden attack. They retreated and in a brief time became completely defeated. A few months later, even the King of the pagans was converted. After such a victory, he was convinced that the God of the Christians was stronger that his gods. Many of us are under the impression that we too are losing ground, because we have fewer people coming to church and to our Cenacles.
I would like to mention one of the battles of Judas Maccabaeus (1Mac.3): “…Judas went out to meet him with a few men. But when they saw the army coming against them, they said to Judas: “How can we, few as we are, fight such a mighty host as this? Besides, we are weak today from fasting. But Judas said: “It is easy for many to be overcome by a few: In the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few; for victory on war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on the strength that comes from Heaven. With great presumption and lawlessness they come against us to destroy us… He himself will crush them before us; so do not be afraid”. We also know the story of Gideon, when a great number of men gathered to fight Midian; but God will say to them (Judges 7): “You have too many soldiers with you for me to deliver Midian into their power, lest Israel will boast itself against me and say, ‘ My own power brought me the victory.”
We are not at the service of a man, no matter how important, like Gideon, Judas Maccabaeus, or King Alfred; but of the Queen of Heaven and earth that has called us: She is the Mother of God. Satan knows that he has been defeated. Our Lady would say to the discouraged ones the same words she said to King Alfred: “ But you. have Faith without Hope? “ During these 2000 years of Christian history we have always experienced the victory of God through the Virgin Mother. To those who withdraw from the battle I would like to repeat the warning that Mordecai gave to Queen Esther (Esther 4:14): “Even if you remain silent, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another source”.
When I go to different cities for a regional Cenacle, I notice that even if some people are not there any more, others have taken their place. On 15 August 1989, our Mother exhorted us this way: “Here must appear the constancy of all my little children, whom I am calling to consecrate themselves to my Immaculate Heart, to live out with me the conclusive moments of the battle and of the fall of Babylon”.
Our Lady is refuge and joy even in the midst of tribulations for those who are consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart
On the 21 October 1993, She said: “I see your innumerable difficulties. I welcome all your entreaties. I am close to you to comfort you in your solitude. I give you joy and consolation amidst so much bitterness. Do not feel yourselves alone. Even if the field of the apostolate is sometimes dry and difficult, even if the society, which surrounds you, places obstacles in the way of your priestly action, even if the weight of human weakness seems often to overwhelm you never become discouraged! I am always close to you, as a good and understanding mother, and I am supporting, leading, consoling and encouraging you. I am gathering up your tears like precious jewels, and I am treasuring your every fatigue in the secret of my Immaculate Heart.
As we said in our first meditation, to be consecrated to our Lady does not remove the total offering of our life, of suffering and of martyrdom. However, our suffering is totally different: it is a suffering of love, of joy and of great peace that is the fruit of so much prayer.
In 1983, During one of the first Cenacles that was conducted in Toronto, Canada, Don Stefano Gobbi said to have seen, like in a vision, that in the streets of our cities there was violence and terrorism; people fighting amongst themselves and one great confusion. Then he saw a beautiful garden where there was peace and joy. The Virgin was in that garden and She herself was personally taking care of the flowers, that naturally symbolized the persons consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. Those who live like me in downtown Montreal will not have difficulties understanding how this is becoming true to the letter! In the City of Toronto for example only in 2005 there were 55 homicides with more than 80 attempts on human lives with weapons in hands.
The message of 19 January 1996 says: “ My Immaculate Heart is the precious garden which encloses within it all the love which your heavenly Mother has for her children. You must all enter into my Immaculate Heart, so that you may feel the force and the tenderness of my maternal love. Where can you find a refuge in the tremendous squall, which is shaking heaven end earth because of the hatred that is spreading, of the violence, which is exploding, of the evil, which is being committed, of the sin, which is being exalted, of the impurity, which is submerging the whole world? You’re all being called to find assistance and protection in the heavenly garden of my motherly love, which the Most Holy Trinity has prepared for your salvation.”
Under normal circumstances almost everyone would lose his peace; but if we raise our eyes to Mary, if we place ourselves in silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament, If we recite the Holy Rosary, saying, “Mother I trust You, I let myself be led by You. If we could say: “ Father, may thy will be done”, then, much joy will inundate our soul. Many times in the past, when Don Stefano Gobbi suggested that we accept with joy the place where Divine Providence had placed us, I was saying to myself: it cannot be God’s will for me to be in this parish. However, for a while now, I have been saying: “actually it is the Providence of God that has put me in this place”. The parish is the same; the smallest that I had up to now; in a region of Canada that humanly speaking I don’t like. However, I know that it is right here that our Mother wants me. We will never thank our Heavenly Mother enough for having given us this peace and for having guided us in transforming our lives in this way. The prayer that Jesus said to the Father during the Last Supper is now becoming a reality (John 17:13): “ …But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.”
With Mary…Joy in the Holy Spirit
Certainly this joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. In the Sequence we invoke him as follows: You of Comforters the best, You the soul’s most welcome guest. On July 29 – 1977 we read: “ The Holy Spirit is the only gardener within my enclosure…my garden is his exclusive property…No one can enter unless He Himself opens to them: no one walks therein unless He leads them forward.” In the life of Saint Theresa of Avila, we read that for years she was not happy of her prayer life nor of the way she was living her consecrated life.
A priest suggested her to sing every day the: Veni Creator. From that day on, she felt her soul invaded with great joy and enthusiasm, it was the turning point of her life. Today God has entrusted every spiritual growth and the many gifts of the Holy Spirit that we need to fulfill our mission, to our Consecration to Mary and in particular to the frequency of the Cenacles. How many times during our Cenacles, we feel peace and joy humanly unexplainable. While reciting the Holy Rosary, reading the messages, looking at the image of our Most Holy Mother, we know that a real person is there before us. We feel loved. It is a real anticipation of Paradise. She has told this To us in many messages. For Example, on January 17 – 1974: “When two or more Priests of my movement are gathered together on my account, I also am in the midst of them. I manifest myself to them and trough them.”
With Mary…Joy as we adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
When we place ourselves in front of The Holy Eucharist in Adoration, we feel even more joy and peace. John Paul II on “Ecclesia de Eucharestia, said: (#18) Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality. On another occasion, he wrote: “It is beautiful to entertain ourselves with Christ and bending over the Heart of Jesus like the beloved disciple, we can be touched by the infinite love of His Heart.” (Letter on Eucharistic Adoration in occasion of the XLVII International Eucharistic Congress in Rome, during the Jubilee). Many of us have already experienced all this, because Mary spoke about it, in many of Her Messages. Just one example from Aug.21st, 1987: “ When He will have restored his Eucharistic Reign, Jesus will lead you to take joy in this habitual presence of his, which you will feel in a new and extraordinary way and which will lead you to the experience of a second, renewed and more beautiful earthly paradise”
With Mary…Joy of being loved by The Father
We learn from Jesus to find our rest and our joy in a prayer of communion with The Father. Our Lady says: (1 March 1980)
“In the desert, Jesus prayed to the Father without cease. And so, with Jesus, I am leading you to prayer, which must become unceasing and continuous. Pray always: with your life, with your heart, with your work, with your pain, with your weariness, with your wounds. Oh, dear sons, it is only in the desert that your heavenly Mother can train to have a taste for prayer, that in this way you may perceive always at your side the Father who loves you, leads you and protects you.”
When we place ourselves in front of The Father for a real encounter with Him we get the feeling of being small, like children. We read this so many times in the messages: (12 November 1993) In the heart of the little ones, I find my
greatest joy, in them I reflect my light, and I see my plan reproduced. Because little, I am pleasing to the Most High. Only in the heart of the little ones does the Father take pleasure.
How nice it is to know that we not only receive joy, but can also give joy to our Mother, to Jesus and to our Dear Heavenly Father: (Mt.11:25) “I bless you Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children”. During his prayer to the Father, after the last Supper, looking at his disciples, Jesus said : “They belonged to you, and you gave them to me.” (John 17:6). Even when we place ourselves in front of Jesus in Adoration, we can imagine that Jesus, looking at us with joy, will say to the Father: “They belonged to you, and you gave them to me.”
With Mary… in happiness we live the beatitudes
The duty of every spiritual guide that belongs to The Marian Movement of Priests is to show the way that our Lady Herself has traced out for us in her book. The real spirit of the MMP, which is the spirit of Mary, should lead us to a real happiness and peace. Certainly every one of us – as we have underlined in the first meditation-, sooner or later will experience in his life the silence of God, the abandonment of Gethsemane or, as stated by Saint Paul, his conformation to Christ crucified.
We all know the difficult road traced out by Saint John of the Cross and by Saint Theresa of Avila; but for those consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary it is much easier. We saw this realized in John Paul II: he suffered like many Saints, but with his Totus Tuus, he was always calm and with peace, as if he were always in the arms of His Heavenly Mother.
In fact, right up to his last breath he has implanted in us, hope and love. At the beginning of his Pontificate with good reasons he shouted: Do not be afraid! On 31 December 1997 Our Lady told us: “Open your hearts to hope. Live as faithful disciples of Jesus, in contempt for the world and for yourselves, in poverty, in humility, in silence, in prayer, in mortification, in charity and In union with God, while you are unknown and despised by the world.” If we want to open our hearts to hope, we should not see all darkness around us nor should we expect from one day to the next that something bad will happen, or that the hidden enemies of the Church will have their final advantage.
There are some priests who during their Cenacles quote only messages of future punishments. And so they pave the way to speculations about national or international conspiracies against us Catholics. Even if these things exist, let Our Blessed Mother look after them. Otherwise this approach will prevent every true spiritual growth in us, and in the souls entrusted to us. Certainly our Lady predicts many dangerous things, because She wants us to be converted, to intercede and to do penance so that many evils will be postponed, reduced or eliminated. The conversion of the first Christians was not motivated by the fear of the fall of Jerusalem or of the troubles announced by Jesus, but from the joy that came from the heart, when the Holy Spirit was invoked on the newly baptized, or when they participated at the Eucharist. Martyrs of all times went on their way to meet death with great joy in their hearts. We only need to remember the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch: “A living water speaks within me, saying: come to the father”
Obviously all this cannot be improvised. Well then our Lady, as a real Teacher, will always take us by the hand to read the Gospel and with the help of Her Messages she leads us sweetly and surely towards Sanctity. Read her Message of February 2nd ,1997,where She speaks of the Beatitudes. Chapter 5 of St. Mathews is also called the Magna Carta of the preaching of Jesus: He begins his program with the Beatitudes and on Chapter 6 He repeats several times not to worry “…because your Heavenly Father knows you need them all.” Jesus teaches us that we should fear only sin or Satan when he wants to lead us into sin. Instead of living in fear, let us live under the watchful eye of our loving Father: our trust in Him is based on the conviction that only He is Omnipotent and Infinite in his Divine Providence. We learn from Jesus, who gave glory to the Father, by doing his will when He died on the Cross. On 30 May 1993 Mary gave us a message entitled: Comfort Amidst Morning. “Amidst the morning of the great trial, there will come down the comfort of the divine presence of the Spirit of the Lord, who will lead you to live with confidence, courage, hope, serenity and love”.
The collaborators of Mother Angelica, (Don Stefano Gobbi has been interviewed a few times by her television station), her collaborators say that during trying times, when every one feared the crumbling of all her work, she simply, but in a convincing manner, would keep repeating: “Jesus is here with us! Isn’t He? Why are you scared?” In this manner she has brought forward her work with one marvel after another with divine assistance. We too should prepare our faithful to feel Jesus and Mary always close to us.
I believe that this is the true spirituality that will enable us to comprehend
and to put into practice what our Lady is asking of us, in the Act of Consecration: “We further pledge to bring about in ourselves that interior conversion that will free us of all human attachment to ourselves, our carrier…In fact, we know very well that our happiness does not depends from things of this earth, but comes from the Father, from Jesus, from the Holy Spirit and from our Heavenly Mother. After the last supper Jesus said: (John 17-3) “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” The Song of Songs expresses this very vocation of our Christian life, in this manner: I hear my beloved. See how he comes, My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me: come then, my love, my lovely one, come. Thank you Holy Mother for having brought us up to this point: help us to persevere on the same road!
We await from you the salvation of all your children
Reciting this prayer at the conclusion of our act of consecration, we certainly pray for the salvation of souls, for the Church, and for the whole world. However, I believe we could also add the meaning of a physical protection. In other words I would also like to add the idea of refuge that is mentioned so often in the messages. This refuge is without a doubt spiritual. The Virgin is protecting us from the greatest of evils: sin and the loss of faith. But I am convinced that often she also means to provide a refuge of a physical protection. We should know very well that Satan wants not only to ruin our soul, but also the destruction of the world. Unfortunately many false visionaries, during the last 25 years have induced even people with good faith to believe that to protect ourselves from future evils, they had to leave the cities, provide themselves with non-perishable canned food, etc.
For many years in all my Cenacles, I have always denounced and contradicted this diabolic belief that our spiritual and material salvation would be the result of a device put in action by us. And I have always proclaimed out loud that the Immaculate Heart of Mary is and will always be our refuge. In the morning of one of my Cenacles in the United States, I read the Message of May 1st- 1986: “…The Rosary…is the lightning rod that will keep far from you, and from those who are dear to you, the fire of the chastisement; it is the sure means of having me always close to you.”
During that Cenacle, there was a Tornado that came directly towards the Church where we were: the Tornado threw down the light pole near the Church, it practically jumped over the Church, and then it continued its road of destruction after the Church. The Pastor called it a true miracle. Mary will protect us! At the same time, however, let us keep in mind the words of the Prophet Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar: “Our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white – hot furnace – and from your hands, o king, but even if he will not, we o king, will not serve you gods.”
In my Cenacles I have always discouraged the reading of books that speak only of chastisements. I have met even some good people, who are hoping that God would intervene and destroy all evil. They forget that one of the messages and consequently of the spirituality of Fatima are to be intercessors, somewhat like Moses, who saved his people many times from a certain punishment. About this, I was impressed by what Pope Benedict XVI said during his inaugural Mass:
“I am the Good Sheppard. I lay down my life for the sheep”, Jesus says of himself (Jn 10.14f).
It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would make show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the crucified one, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man. Giona’s problem repeats itself even amongst the good of today; in the message of December 21st, 1997 our Lady summarizes all her work, right in front of the dangers of our time:
“So then, the Most Holy Trinity has decreed that your century be placed under the sign of my powerful, maternal and extraordinary presence. And as a safe refuge, I offered you my Immaculate Heart.”
And Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals, a few days after his election: “I entrust all of us and the expectations, hopes and worries of the entire community of Christians to the Virgin Mother of God, who accompanied the steps of the new born Church with her silent presence and comforted the faith of the Apostles. I ask you to walk under the motherly protection of Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, docile and obedient to the voice of her divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. As I call upon her constant patronage, I impart to each one of you and to all those whom Divine Providence entrusts to your pastoral care my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.”
Conclusion: from Saint John Bosco’s Dream
Let us remember Don Bosco’s first dream. I would like to remind it for two reasons: 1st. for those of us who, for years, started the holy adventure of believing in our Lady’s Messages. 2nd. Especially for Don Stefano Gobbi who received his first call in 1972. Considering that every year, about 50 countries are represented in this Retreat, who would have believed, in 1973, that the words of our Lady would be realized in this manner? Only at the end of his life, Don Bosco understood the dream that he had when he was 9 years old, when he saw Jesus who forewarned him of the work ahead of him. In his dream he asked Jesus:
But who are you, how can you order me to do something that looks so impossible? Jesus answered: What seem so impossible you must achieve by being obedient and acquiring knowledge. J. Bosco said: But where and how? “I will give you a Teacher, Jesus answered, under her guidance you will learn and without whose help all knowledge becomes foolishness” .J. Bosco asked: But who are you? Jesus: “I am the son of her whom your mother has taught you to greet three times a day”.
Then the boy saw also our Blessed Mother with Jesus. She spoke to him, but seeing the boy becoming more confused, she told him to come to come closer to her. She took him with great care, by the hand, and showed him the field where he was going to work. At that point says the Saint in my dream I started to cry and I begged the Lady to explain what it all meant. She then placed her hand on my head and said: “In due time everything will be clear to you.”
In 1973 our Lady said to Don Stefano Gobbi – and in a small way to each one of us when we learned of The Marian Movement of Priests-: July 7 -1973: “Do not be afraid. I will always be near you! I am now preparing you for great things, but little by little as a mother does with her child.” July 21 ’73: “Why do you become troubled? Why are you worried? To be consecrated to me means to let yourself be lead by me. It means to entrust yourself to me, like a child who lets itself be lead by its mother. July 29th, 73:”If you remain with me, I myself will tell you at every moment what I would like you to do… I myself will take you by the hand, and together we shall do everything. With you, I am like a mother who is teaching its child to take its first steps.”
Like Don Bosco, who, towards the end of his life, became aware of how the words that Jesus and our Lady said to him, became a reality, In the same manner we too should raise a hymn of thanks to God, as we see that the promises of our Lady on The Marian Movement of Priests have been realized in every part of the world.
Father Francis Geremia, cs