Circular Letter No. 5/2011
May 20, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the MMP,
In the observance of this Marian month, I would like to begin with these words of Our Lady: Let this month of May, especially consecrated to me, be a precious occasion for you to entrust yourselves to me with the offering of your little flowers of mortification, the frequent recitation of the holy rosary, and a more intense living of the consecration to my Heart (Message 264 l). She claims that the month of May is especially consecrated to her and a precious occasion for us to entrust ourselves to her.
We will appreciate this message more if we take into account the liturgical season of Easter. Ever since the early period of Christianity, the Church has given particular honor to Mary, next to her Risen Son who, as she herself said, willed to share above all with His Mother the first fruits of this Easter joy (Message 593 c). The Regina Coeli, which temporarily replaces the Angelus during the Easter period, is one beautiful prayer of the Church, exalting the Mother of the Risen Lord: Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia!
But, above all, the Church has designated the month of May as a period wherein the faithful can venerate her more distinctly. The choice of May was prudent: distant enough from Easter Sunday so as not to divert the focus from the Risen Lord, yet still within Easter to pay special homage to His Mother. The month-long dedication is meant mainly (1) to honor her with her Risen Son, and (2) to remind the faithful of her unique and indispensable role in God’s redemptive work and of her new maternal role in relation to the disciples in the subsequent event of Pentecost.
Despite her claim to be a silent witness of the resurrection (Message 593), she comes out loud in the faith of the Church during this Marian Easter month. She takes particular prominence in the celebration of Pentecost, when she assumes her new role as Mother of the newly born Church. She comes again regal in the celebration of the Feast of the Visitation, which brings the month-long devotion to a close. Here, the Church crowns her with the prophetic words of Elizabeth: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened that the mother of my Lord comes to me. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord (Luke 1:42-45).
Clearly, in the tradition and liturgy of the Church, the month of May is closely linked with Easter. Just as October is known to be the month of the Holy Rosary, so is May known as the Marian Easter month. These are the only months in a year when the Church gives our Blessed Mother month-long venerations.
This insight gives the Flores de Mayo a deeper perspective. As a popular Marian devotion, it is done not because of summer vacation, when the children are easy to gather in churches to pray and offer flowers. Neither is it done because May is the month of fiesta celebrations, the best time to bring the sagalas out on the streets, in a religious procession where Our Lady, unfortunately, is given less attention. This is not what Flores de Mayo is all about. It is, rather, connected to Easter. During this month-long devotion, the Church invites us to look up to Mary with love and faith, with joy and hope. We are called to entrust ourselves to her, so that, through her and with her, we may live our baptismal consecration, which we renew yearly during Easter. The prayers and flowers that we offer are merely symbols: with the flowers signifying our love and joy for her, and the prayers signifying our faith and hope in the Risen Lord, who entrusted her to us to be our Mother: the Woman to lead us in battle and the Woman to be the sign of triumph.
It is in this perspective that we read her message with better understanding: Let this month of May, especially consecrated to me, be a precious occasion for you to entrust yourselves to me with the offering of your little flowers of mortification, the frequent recitation of the holy rosary, and a more intense living of the consecration to my Heart (Message 264 l). Here, Our Lady clearly points out how we can properly observe the Marian Easter month of May: a precious occasion for you to entrust yourselves to me. To do this, She gave three practical steps: (1) mortification, (2) recitation of the holy rosary, and (3) the more intense living of the consecration to her Immaculate Heart. It is about time that we change our view on Flores de Mayo. Let us observe our May flower devotion in a manner proper to a Marian Easter month.
Before I close, let me give some updates on the MMP activities. I apologize for failing to follow up the lay cenacle groups due to the busy schedules of the Holy Week. Yet, we seem to gain much momentum. Thank you for your tireless effort in carrying out the works of Our Lady.
Here are some developments:
1. The MMP Website
The MMP-Philippines’ website (www.mmphil.com) marked its first year of operation last May 13, the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady in Fatima. Surprisingly, it has been visited by viewers from several foreign countries: USA, India, Israel, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Russia, Australia, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Guam, Virgin Islands, Hungary, Lebanon, New Zealand, Malaysia, Poland, Italy, Austria, Nigeria, Slovenia, Denmark, Johannesburg, Indonesia and Kenya.
Among these countries, we have made correspondence with a prayer group in Russia. Here is a quote from their initial message to us: “We, lay-people of the MMP from Moscow, have decided to write to you, because we want to thank you for your site. . . Look, prayers and work are giving fruits so far from you.” I never imagined that MMP-Philippines can be heard in that distant land and that we would be able to connect with a cenacle group there that is living the spirit of the MMP.
Our website is a humble contribution to the loving work of Our Lady, which she herself is carrying out in every part of the world through the Marian Movement of Priests, making use of us, the littlest of her children, bringing us everywhere, to even the most distant places, for a new and ultimate call to action (Message 351 j). With the use of the digital technology, let us pray that Our Lady may reach out to even the most distant places and form the global community into cenacle groups of her Immaculate Heart.
2. Cenacle Orientation
The cenacle orientation proves to be the simple way to introduce the spirit of the Movement to the laity. Done in a half-day session, we had one successful try last April 9 in Ermita, Manila. Sis. Rose Abilo and her Light of the World prayer group organized the activity. Following this is the orientation for teachers scheduled on May 27 and 28 through the help of Phoenix-Sibal Publishing Company. Another orientation is set for June 4 at the POEA in Ortigas for the Yahweh’s Love prayer group. A latest inquiry came from the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Makati, although there is no specific date yet. The growing interest in the cenacle prayer is a good development to watch out for among the lay groups.
3. MMP in Religious Communities
Another sector that has shown interest in the MMP is the religious. After the retreat of the Sons of St. Anne last April 27 - 29 in Tagaytay, the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus requested for two batches of retreat on May 23 - 26 in Pasig City and June 14 - 21 in Cebu City. Seeing religious communities adopting the spirit of the MMP in their spirituality is interesting and exciting.
4. Summer Retreat for Priests
The Summer Retreat for Priests held in Baguio last May 9-13 turned out to be greatly successful and fulfilling. To all concerned, thanks for your prayers. Despite the bad weather, 22 priests (diocesan and religious) were able to attend. Most Rev. Carlito Cenzon, Bishop of Baguio, officiated the closing Mass and the renewal of priestly promises.
In this retreat, I personally observed new inspirations in the presentation of modules. But, most significant was the enthusiasm of the priest-participants. Requests to introduce the spirit of the Movement were expressed: in one parish in Pangasinan and in the seminaries in Lucena and Dumaguete. A religious priest committed himself to promote the cenacle prayer among his confreres and in his mission assignment. Three priests showed remarkable interest in the MMP and are highly considered for the work of Priests-Responsible in their dioceses. And just recently, priest-participants from Naval confirmed their Bishop’s invitation for MMP to facilitate the annual clergy retreat in November. With this outcome, I can say that the retreat for priests has been a fruitful endeavor. Let us pray that more priests respond to Our Lady’s invitation.
5. Second Quarter Formation for the Laity
For the cenacle groups in Metro Manila, the Second Quarter Formation for the Laity will be on June 11, Saturday, 7:30 am - 5:00 pm, in the Pasig Cathedral Formation Building in Pasig City. The program and other details will be sent later.
I'm keeping you all in my prayers. God bless.
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
REV. FR. ROMERICO A. PRIETO
Marian Movement of Priests – Philippines