Circular Letter No. 11 / 2011
November 30, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the MMP,
I post this Circular Letter with much apology for the delay. The schedule for the month of November was packed in order to finish up the remaining out-of-town activities for this year: Bayombong Clergy Retreat (November 7-11, Baguio City); Cenacle Orientation (November 12, San Mateo, Rizal); Naval Clergy Retreat (November 14-18, Cebu City); and a Formation for Lay Promoters (November 19-20, Miag-ao, Iloilo). The last activity for this year will be the Fourth Quarter Formation for the Laity on December 10 at the Lay Formation Center, San Carlos Seminary Complex, Makati City. With this event, we conclude our activities for 2011.
As we move closer to the year’s end, we muse with great satisfaction on what had been accomplished. One thing is clear: our accomplishments are “solely her work.” (Messages 73 h, 187 e, 284 n, 297 i, 497) We have always kept this in mind and we will live by it evermore. Doing Our Lady’s Work is a humbling experience that moves us to even greater heights of confidence. We need simply to rely on her with childlike faith. Her words are very assuring: “My motherly action is the only thing necessary for the spread of the Movement. This is why I ask you insistently to support my action with your prayer, because this, not technical perfection, is what is necessary for me.” (Message 77 d-e). With her maternal action, prayers bring forth fruits to our work.
During the remaining days of this year, we will be slowing down with our outreach activities, but not with our prayer. Let us intensify our efforts to pray more and spend these days with filial confidence to our Blessed Mother. Please remember in your intentions the bishops, priests and laypeople, who have just been recently introduced to the Movement. May Our Lady grant them grace to respond to her two-fold invitation: consecration to her Immaculate Heart and the cenacle prayer. May our efforts bear much fruit in them.
During November, we witnessed the changing of the liturgical season. It occurred within just a week’s time; from November 20 (Feast of Christ the King) to November 27 (First Sunday of Advent). The former marks the end of the liturgical calendar, while the latter signals the start of the new cycle. By clearly illustrating the full extent of the liturgical year from end to end, November gains a unique significance in the liturgical life of the Church.
“Begin with the end in mind,” so the saying goes. This is how Advent must be viewed - in the full extent of the liturgical year, from end to end. So, we begin Advent having Christ the King in mind. Advent is not simply a season that precedes Christmas; it is, rather, the start of the whole cycle of the mysteries of redemption. We celebrate Advent not so much to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s birth, but more so to begin the cycle of recalling and reliving the mysteries of redemption, throughout the year in a continuous manner, which culminates in the celebration of Christ the King.
Let us observe Advent while keeping in mind His Reign, making it a true-life experience with a clear direction and vision for our own lives. As we again begin another cycle of the liturgical year, let us be reminded that from the liturgy that we celebrate flows the pattern and rhythm of our earthly journey. As another saying goes, “Lex orandi, lex vivendi,” which means: The law of praying is the law of living. We live as we pray.
1. Back-to-back Retreats for Diocesan Priests
“Obviously, it was a Marian retreat, but I never thought it to be so intensive in prayer and a bonding moment with my priests.” This was the delightful comment of Bishop Villena during his homily during the closing Mass of their retreat last November 7-11, 2011 at the Mt. Peace Retreat House in Baguio City. It was the first time for them to have a retreat in the form of a continuous cenacle, the signature format of the MMP.
The retreat focused on the priesthood in the light of Our Lady’s maternal role. This was quite a new perspective for them and gave a clear definition of what the priesthood really is. The Bishop got so impressed by the insight on living Christ’s victimhood, that he came to believe in the necessity of consecration and the cenacle prayer for priests. He was so enthused that he pledged to pray the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary together with his breviary, and to adopt the cenacle prayer during their clergy gathering. The priests, too, were thankful. They had these words written in the picture frame they gave us: “Thank you so much for guiding us back to the cenacle.” By Providence, their Clergy House in Bayombong is called “Domus Mariae” (House of Mary). With their newfound experience in the cenacle, this house would surely have greater meaning.
For the clergy of Naval, the retreat was their second with the MMP. They were fortunate to have been introduced to the Movement many years back through the initiative of their bishop, Most Rev. Filomeno Bactol. The retreat was for them a timely follow up. From the concept of the “end times” which was introduced then, they now found clarity and realized the relevance of the spirituality of the MMP. Consecration is now up-close and personal in their priestly lives, while the cenacle finds a meaningful place in building up their sacramental brotherhood and in their community-building effort. The clergy was unanimous in adopting the cenacle during their regular assembly and in their BEC program. Fr. Marvyn, the Vicar General, gave an open invitation to the MMP for the formation of their BEC leaders on the cenacle.
2. Cenacle Orientation
A cenacle orientation was held in Greenland Newtown Subdivision in San Mateo, Rizal last November 12. Participants came from families within the village. Forming family cenacles was most preferred, with monthly gatherings in their chapel every 1st Saturday. This is interesting, as Our Lady has encouraged cenacles in every family.
3. Lay Formation in Ilo-ilo
The cenacle group in Miag-ao, Iloilo had their first Formation Seminar last November 19-20. Just three months ago, they had their orient-ation. The enthusiasm seemed very strong.With the original group, participants were nuns and their students, as well as newly formed cenacles from barangay chapel communities.
They have requested for a regular schedule of formation starting next year.
Let us thank God for all these beautiful developments in the MMP-Philippines. With open hands and humbled hearts, we offer them back to Him for His glory. Through the MMP, may Our Lady bring forth a new birth in the Church.
God bless you all.
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
REV. FR. ROMERICO A. PRIETO
Marian Movement of Priests - Philippines