Circular Letter No. 12/2011
December 24, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the MMP,
“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke1: 79)
Let me begin with this quotation from the last part of Zechariah’s Canticle or Benedictus as it is commonly known. In exceedingly great happiness and praise over the birth of John, Zechariah blesses God for the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise – “the dawn from on high shall break upon us.” This part of the Canticle strikes me the most. While it is still dark at dawn, the sun is sure to rise. That is how certain Zechariah was about the coming of the Lord, even when the Lord was yet to be born.
The birth of the Savior is the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises to deliver and protect the people of Israel from their enemies and to show compassion on their fathers ever mindful of the holy covenant. It is significant that the reference in the Canticle is to an oath sworn to Abraham, most likely that of Gen. 22:17–18, which promises that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would find blessing. Through the Savior, God’s blessings will extend beyond Israel to include the entire humanity.
With these prophetic and believing words of Zechariah, the Church ends the Advent preparation, particularly the Simbang Gabi Masses. As we move on to the celebration of Christmas, let us keep the certainty of faith in the absolute reliability of God’s promises. God can and will do what he has said he will do, no matter how unlikely or impossible it may seem from the human perspective.
This evening, we will already celebrate the birth of the Lord in our liturgy. But, Christmas is not only about remembering the past event of His birth. It is also (and in fact even more) about celebrating his continuing ‘birth’ within each one of us. He is Emmanuel, God-with-us. To celebrate God-with-us in our lives, Our Lady recommends the ‘great silence.’ Let me paraphrase her Message 318, A Great Silence:
“A mysterious silence marked the unfolding of this great mystery of love. . .”
“A great silence surrounded the accomplishment of this divine mystery. . .”
“And thus, it must be for every encounter with the Word, who becomes flesh in the life of each one of you. Thus, it must be in your daily encounter with my Son Jesus. Thus, it must be for the Christmas which you are called to live each day, as you welcome with love into your hearts and your souls the Lord who saves and leads you to peace.”
“Open up your hearts to the humility, the simplicity, and the candor of little ones. Persevere in prayer and trust. Each day, in company with your heavenly Mother, live your perennial Christmas, which is already perpetuated in time, for the joy and salvation of all.” (Message 318 b-e, g)
For an update, we had concluded the fourth and last Formation for the Laity for this year last December 10 at the Lay Formation Center in the San Carlos Seminary Complex in Guadalupe, Makati City. It served as an Advent Recollection which reflected on three themes: (1) The Context of Advent, (2) The Second Advent, the Glorious Reign of Christ, and (3) Mary: the Mother of the Second Advent. There were around 300 participants, 95 of whom were newcomers. One thing worth mentioning was the remarkable presence of male participants and the youth. It seems that MMP’s website and FB (Facebook) account are doing well to bring many of them to the formation. This is very encouraging. We are hoping to reach out to more.
Our next formation, the first of the series in 2012, will be held on February 11 at the Sta. Maria Della Strada Parish on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. The program details will be sent out by the middle of January.
Let us thank the Lord for blessing this formation with remarkable success. To our volunteers, thank you for your untiring help. As we celebrate Christmas, let us heed the invitation of Our Lady for ‘great silence.’ Bring your family to the ‘great silence’ through your cenacles and the consecration to Her Immaculate Heart.
Merry Christmas to all! God bless!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
REV. FR. ROMERICO A. PRIETO
Marian Movement of Priests - Philippines