Return to Letter Titles
Milan: January 1, 2010
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
TO THE NATIONAL AND REGIONAL DIRECTORS OF THE M.M.P. :
At the beginning of this special year, I am close to you with my brotherly affection and with my prayer, so that we can live it in a spirit of thanksgiving and joy.
The reason for our joy is that the Holy Father Benedict XVI has proclaimed this year as the Year for Priests. Therefore it is our year, the year in which the Marian Movement of Priests will have a new and significant importance in the life of the Church, for the interior renewal of priests.
This is the Pope’s motive for proclaiming it:
“I have decided to inaugurate a “Year for Priests” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the “dies natalis” [birthday] of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year [is] meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal…”
(Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI proclaiming a Year for Priests, June 16, 2009 – Hereafter: LETTER)
This is also the reason for which the Blessed Mother calls priests to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is for all priests the place of their interior transformation and of their priestly holiness.
“Give me everything with great love, and I will transform it all in the burning furnace of the most pure love of my Immaculate Heart. I myself will transform you into most faithful replicas of my Son Jesus. It is Jesus whom I want to make live again in the priests who are consecrated to me…” (To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons (Hereafter: TTP), June 8, 1974, 49 k-l )
* * *
In 2009, I was able to take part in regional cenacles in these eleven countries: the United States, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Italy, Slovenia, and South Korea.
I went to three continents: America, Europe and Asia. With 37 flights, I visited 65 cities and presided over 95 cenacles, in which 2 cardinals, 56 bishops, 1,350 priests and 400,000 faithful participated.
In Collevalenza [Italy], at the Spiritual Exercises [Retreat] held in the form of a continuous cenacle, 1 cardinal, 20 arch-bishops and bishops and 330 priests from the five continents took part.
I entrust, to the Will of the Lord and to the plan of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the fulfillment of the schedule of cenacles that I have prepared for this year.
1. THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
In Collevalenza, from June 27 – July 3, at the Shrine of Merciful Love, there will take place the Spiritual Exercises [Retreat] for the bishops and priests of the Marian Movement of Priests from Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
I inform you of the following:
• There will be room for all in the same house. Few laypersons will be allowed to attend (only those who have a position of responsibility in the MMP).
• As always, address all inquiries and reservation requests to:
P. Florio Quercia S.J.
Via Carlo Marx, 1
Centro San Francesco de Geronimo
74023 Grottaglie (TA)
Fax: +39 099 5635710
Cell (Mobile): +39 333 6322248
2. REGIONAL CENACLES ABROAD:
This year I will turn 80. Human prudence would dictate that I lessen greatly my intense cenacle schedules. But, as long as the Heavenly Mother gives me the health and the strength, I think that it is my duty to continue the already exhausting mission of leading bishops, priests, religious and faithful to the Consecration to her Immaculate Heart. In fact, these are the times in which the Most Blessed Trinity is showing the power of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in order that It [her Immaculate Heart] be glorified by the Church and by humanity.
I propose to go from January 16 to March 24 to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile; on June 26 to Slovenia; from September 7-8 to German-speaking Switzerland; from September 9-20 to Germany; from September 21 to October 1 to France; from October 2-11 to Spain; from October 12-28 to Portugal.
I entrust to the National Directors the task of giving me a few days of rest during my very tiring journey.
3. REGIONAL CENACLES IN ITALY:
Ferrara – April 16
Florence – April 20
Collevalenza – April 22
San Gabriel – April 26
Rome – April 28
Pompei – April 29
San Giovanni Rotondo – May 4
Caravaggio – May 13
Padua – May 17
San Vito – May 19
Genoa – May 21
Loreto – June 10
4. THE PRIEST IN POPE BENEDICT XVI’s “LETTER TO PRIESTS” AND IN THE MESSAGES FROM THE BOOK, “TO THE PRIESTS, OUR LADY’S BELOVED SONS”
a) The priest is a minister of love
“ ‘The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus’, the saintly Curé of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life.”
The priest is for all the gift of the love of Jesus.
“Jesus is Merciful Love, because He wants to draw all into the burning furnace of his divine love. Allow yourselves to be drawn by Him. Do not resist his calls. Walk with me along the road of his divine love. Beloved sons, you too must make your own the sweet experience of your love for Jesus.”
(To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons (TTP), October 1, 1997, 600g)
b) The priest is a minister of suffering
“Yet the expression of Saint John Mary also makes us think of Christ’s pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I also think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?” (LETTER)
A priest, called by Mary to be little and humble of heart, also is called to suffer always more. The moment of suffering is precious and must be welcomed by each one of us with meekness and trust.
“[With suffering] you are shaped into the likeness of Jesus Crucified.
This interior crucifixion will take place each day and in every moment of your priestly day…
It is above all in your priestly suffering that souls can be begotten by you to the life of grace and to salvation.”
(TTP, March 5, 1983, 260jkl)
c) The priest is a minister of divine mercy
“…the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him [St. John Mary Vianney] in the confessional for up to sixteen hours a day…The saintly Curé…said: ‘It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him.’ ” (LETTER)
“Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament…We priests should feel that the following words, which he [St. John Mary Vianney] put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: ‘I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite.’ ” (LETTER)
“Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God’s forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the ‘flood of divine mercy’ which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Curé would unveil the mystery of God’s love in these beautiful and touching words: ‘The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!’ ”
“From Saint John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the center of our pastoral concerns…” (LETTER)
“Fight against sin as your greatest evil. Make yourselves always available for the sacrament of Reconciliation, which is today being so neglected. Give the grace of God to the souls darkened by evil.” (TTP, March 22, 1995, 540h)
d) The priest is a minister of the Eucharist
“Saint John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. ‘One need not say much to pray well’ – the Curé explained to them – ‘We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to him, let us rejoice in his sacred presence. That is the best prayer.’ ”
“And he would urge them: ‘Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from him in order to live with him…’ ‘Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!’ ” (LETTER)
“This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that ‘it was not possible to find a finer example of worship…he gazed upon the Host with immense love.’ (…) He was convinced that the fervor of a priest’s life depended entirely upon the Mass: ‘The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass!’ ” (LETTER)
“Go before the tabernacle to establish with Jesus a simple and daily rapport of life. (…) Tell your love to Jesus; repeat it often…‘Jesus, You are our love; Jesus, You alone are our great friend; Jesus, we love You; Jesus, we are in love with You.’
(…)Your priestly prayer must become wholly a Eucharistic prayer.
I ask that there be once again a return to the practice of making everywhere hours of adoration before Jesus, exposed in the Most Holy Sacrament. I desire that there be an increase in the homage of love towards the Eucharist and that this become manifest also through evident but most expressive signs of your piety. Surround the Eucharistic Jesus with flowers and with lights; encircle Him with delicate attention; draw close to Him with profound acts of genuflection and of adoration.
If you knew how the Eucharistic Jesus loves you, how a little gesture of your love fills Him with joy and with consolation! Jesus pardons so many sacrileges and forgets an infinity of ingratitude before one drop of pure priestly love which is placed in the chalice of his Eucharistic Heart.”
(TTP, August 21, 1987, 360qrsyz)
e) The priest is a prophet of Hope
In these times, a particular duty of the priest is to manifest to all the full meaning of the paschal mystery of Christ, that we profess during each holy Mass: “We announce your death, O Lord, and we proclaim your resurrection, until you come in glory.” (“Mysterium fidei” – The Mystery of Faith), and which the priest invokes in the first Eucharistic prayer: “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
(Ordinary of the Holy Mass)
Faith blossoms in charity and matures in hope – that is, in the certainty of the return of Jesus in glory, which finally will give fulfillment to the mystery of his death and resurrection.
We must await Him with joy and with the prayer that should become habitual in these last times: “Come, Lord Jesus”; and we should prepare the hearts and souls of all to receive Jesus when He will return in glory, to bring into the world his Reign of holiness, of love, of justice, and of peace, and will renew all things.
For this, the priest is called today to give the announcement also of a new springtime for the Church.
“…I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. ‘In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted…He breathes where he wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of…’ (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for the Vigil of Pentecost, 3 June 2006)” (LETTER)
It is interesting to note that the Pope uses the same word – springtime – that is found in the last message of our book.
“The moment has come for you to come out from your hiddenness in order to go and shed light upon the earth.
Show yourselves to all as my children, for I am with you always. Let the faith be the light which enlightens you in these days of darkness, and let zeal alone consume you, zeal for the honor and glory of my Son Jesus.
Fight, children of the light, because the hour of my battle has now arrived. In the harshest of winters, you are the buds which are opening up from my Immaculate Heart and which I am placing on the branches of the Church to tell you that her most beautiful springtime is about to arrive.”
(TTP, December 31, 1997, 604tuv)
I wish to end this circular letter with the same words with which Pope Benedict XVI concluded his letter.
“To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Curé of Ars. (…) Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to his Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world.’ (Jn 16:33). Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Curé of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!” (LETTER)
I entrust to you, who are the directors, the task of sending this letter to the members of the Marian Movement of Priests, that it may be read and well meditated by them.
To all of you, I offer my affectionate greeting along with my priestly blessing.
I await your response, informing me of your news.
In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Your little brother,
Don Stefano Gobbi
Movimento Sacerdotale Mariano – Via Terruggia, 14 – 20162 Milano