EVER THE FAITHFUL pilgrim, Sis Ana Marie led the opening prayer as an apt preamble of a novel topic, the deepening of the knowledge of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eighteen warm bodies responded to the call of the Montfortian mission of spreading the reign of Jesus through His Mother. After the prayer, Sis Gelly welcomed the participants and briefly explained why her Spirituality Team conducted meetings as a way to evolve the ongoing TTJ segment on Mary as a structure that will further make Mary known with the Bible as basis.
There were old and new faces in the audience and the council of Sis Ana Marie, Bro Milo and Sis Gelly thought it helpful for them to get to know one another first before writing down on paper their insights on the introduction. Thus the brief forewords started from Sis Janine (it’s good to be back), Sis Shirley (appreciates her growth and learning), Ate Jo-ann (very fortunate to meet Montfort and his mission), Ate Bubbles (would appreciate to know everyone again in the group), me (a rough-riding work in progress whom God always gives a safe landing), Sis Angel (a devoted Legionary), Sis Tess (thankful that TTJ was launched in BF Homes, Bro Felix (from Bohol, who was tricked by Sis Helen into joining TTJ), Sis Helen (who hopes to trick many more), Sis Alice (a Legionary at 10!), Sis Vigi (not really into Mary but Jesus whose difficulties led her to TTJ), Bro Milo (who got attracted by Fr. Mario’s book), Sis Sylvia (a stranger, brought to Madriňan by a newsletter), Sis Gelly (first TTJ batch with Janine and Shirley), Sis Ana Marie (with Montfort, there’s always a cross), and Kuya Jowell (who thinks Montfort’s charism is similar to Focolare’s Chiara Lubich).
Fr. Dodong, priest-facilitator-favorite-of-all, opened the session with the premise that we all want to go to heaven. An ideal goal, he admitted, since it translates to going to Jesus through Mary. Therefore, she has to be known through the Bible, because knowing uses the heart, in a pondering way. (The plan is to incorporate in the third stage of Fr. Mario’s manual “Mary in the Bible” so he warned us to expect that the latest edition of the manual is more advanced.) Pondering, Mary’s way, would have helped us discern if the Agoo apparition was a hoax because Scriptures have the right say to apparitions. And he parsed the word pondering through the opening prayer where Mary is asked to “dispel the darkness in my mind” and whose “deep humility is begged to take the place of my pride” and other petitions to largely purge sins and turn them into virtues.
Fr. Dodong abbreviated the Agoo phenomenon again into “by their fruits you shall know them” and cited the Fatima conversion as an understood theology. (Joking that theologians will stop doing what they’re doing (Mariology, for instance) if we already understand.) Mariology is essential, he said, if we really put our hearts where our faith is. I understood that to mean my defense against Mary’s bashers. So I listened intently to his tracts on theotokos; mysterious reality (creature cannot mother a creator); perpetual virginity (Mary’s before, during and after); assumption; and immaculate conception.
I liked that he likened Stella Maris to a lighthouse and that, in the Annunciation alone, Mary and God (through Gabriel) were communicating; with Mary objecting and God answering and they keep on until Mary’s questions were all reduced to one large little fiat that made all the difference in the Catholic faith.
Because, like EASTER, we expect Enlightenment that death is not the end for it will be overcome by the resurrection, our Awakening to realities in life we took for granted; for the apostles, it was Christ’s apparition and the Surprise of Him going through closed doors, their Transformation from fear to courage after seeing Him walk on water: Encounter the Risen Lord. The highlight of the acrostic is Thomas’ lack of faith, which was greeted with “Peace be with you.” Shalom in Hebrew is not only the absence of war, it means worries and negativities vanish through an encounter with the Lord through the divine mercy of God. Because, Fr. Dodong said, when man is in touch with woundedness, like Thomas touched Christ’s wounds, he becomes merciful. And he blessed us with “May God transform us to be the persons we want to be.”
It was out of the question that every fourth Sunday would succeed the initial session. Amen.